Book Review: Marci McDonald’s “The Armageddon Factor”

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has virtually turned over the keys to his government to right-wing Christians.

By Sheila Kieran
May 20, 2010

With “The Armageddon Factor: The Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada” (Random House; 419 pp;  $32), Marci Mcdonald has written the most important book on Canadian politics since Peter Newman’s “The Secret Mulroney Tapes” in 2005. Backed by a breadth and depth of research, “The Armageddon Factor” is a chilling look at Stephen Harper’s goal of Chistianizing Canada and at how successful he has been so far. It is particularly essential reading for women, who will be the most affected Canadians if he ever gets the majority for which he yearns and constantly plots.

Not that Harper has fully pleased the right-wing Christians who are the foundation of his support. Says Mcdonald, “…they are not likely to be mollified by his plodding incrementalism or cautious tweaks of the bureaucracy. Aggressive and insistent, they are driven by a fierce imperative to reconstruct Canada in a biblical mould.” In that context, the idea that Harper didn’t realize what he was doing when he excluded support for abortion services in his so-called “maternal and child” G8 – G20 initiative seems less likely. He knew exactly what he was doing: playing to his evangelical-fundamentalist base, just more blatantly than he usually does.

As Canadian women know to their sorrow, there are anti-choice hysterics in every caucus. But their number – and now their influence – amongst the Tories is chilling. So, too, is that fact that Harper has virtually turned over the keys to his government to these people, attending their conferences, paying tribute to them when they visit Ottawa, and happily funding them. If he is not doing their explicit bidding, he is covertly making this country into what they want. He appointed Christian nationalists to senior ministries, among them Vic Toews, first to Justice and, now, to Public Safety – and Stockwell Day, pal of Holocaust denier and prominent anti-Semite James Keegstra, as Minister responsible for the Treasury Board. Harper handed the Science portfolio to Gary Goodyear, a chiropractor from Cambridge, Ontario who has done nothing to refute the charge that he is a creationist who, like Day, believes the world is 6,000 years old and that humans might well have frolicked with dinosaurs.

The Canada-U.S. border has never existed for extremist Christians and McDonald’s analysis of that situation is intelligent – and scary: American fundamentalists, frightened that their courts now pay attention to rulings in other countries, will do whatever they think is necessary to prevent Canadian decisions that are antithetical to their interests. As a result, they have helped organize and finance a web of legal and other educational schools and academies here that adhere to their most narrow-minded Christian beliefs. Many graduates of these places have, unsurprisingly, found positions at all levels of the Harper government, including in his office.

Right-wing Christians believe that, after the Battle of Armageddon, there will be a ‘rapture’ in which true believers will be summoned to heaven and, thus, saved. The bad news for Harper’s Jewish supporters is that, unless they become baptized Christians, they’re not going to be invited to the party. (Christian right-wingers believe that Israel must conquer her enemies before the Second Coming.)

It’s well past time when we should know who Harper really is: not the sweetie in the blue sweater but a dedicated, determined right-winger who would make sure women stay in the kitchen and the nursery – and out of his way.

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