Political party representatives respond to questions based on Catholic social teaching during Saskatchewan provincial election campaign

St. Joseph, patron saint of Canada, appears on the title slide of a recently-released video featuring questions from the Catholic community posed to political party representatives in Saskatchewan. A provincial election will be held in the province on Oct. 26, 2020, and Catholic dioceses have been working with the organization Catholic Conscience to encourage discernment of issues in the light of Catholic teaching. (Image by CatholicConscience.org)

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

As the days wind down in the 2020 provincial election campaign, representatives of five political parties in Saskatchewan recently participated in online interviews on a range of issues, with questions posed from the perspective of Catholic social teaching.

The video project was initiated by the province’s Roman Catholic dioceses and Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy in collaboration with the organization Catholic Conscience as part of a “Catholic Action” effort to educate Catholic voters about Catholic social teaching and how that teaching relates to relevant political issues, while also mobilizing the Catholic community to take an active part in the political process, including getting out to vote.

Video conversations with political parties:

The five Catholic bishops of Saskatchewan – Bishop Bryan Bayda of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Saskatoon; Archbishop Donald Bolen of Regina; Archbishop Murray Chatlain of Keewatin Le-Pas; Bishop Mark Hagemoen of Saskatoon; and Bishop Albert Thévenot of Prince Albert – together issued an invitation to each of the six political parties with candidates running in the Oct. 26 election, asking them to participate in this video discussion of issues of interest and importance to the Catholic community. Catholics make up an estimated one-third of the provincial population.

Those responding to the bishops’ invitation included Wade Sira, interim leader of the Buffalo Party of Saskatchewan; Naomi Hunter, leader of the Green Party of Saskatchewan; MLA Nicole Sarauer of the New Democratic Party of Saskatchewan; Ken Grey, leader of the Progressive Conservative party of Saskatchewan; and MLA Gord Wyant of the Saskatchewan Party. (The Liberal Party of Saskatchewan did not respond.)

Catholic Conscience election resources: CatholicConscience.org/saskatchewan2020

Myron Rogal, coordinator of Justice and Peace in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, introduced the video. “Catholics have a duty to vote, through prayerful and thoughtful discernment of their own conscience. We hope these conversations will help SK Catholic voters reflect on their vote,” he said, urging Catholics to vote with the common good in mind.

“Together let’s pray for the future of our province and for all the voters as we collectively determine who will govern in this place we call home,” said Rogal.

Catholic journalist Alison Bradish of St. Joseph Parish, Moose Jaw, in the Archdiocese of Regina posed questions to the five party spokespersons, including “Why should Catholics vote for your party?” and seven questions related to principles of Catholic social teaching.

The questions, including the time when posed in the video, are:

1. Life and human dignity [9:39] – Recognizing the division of powers between the federal and provincial jurisdictions, would your party support any of the following policies to ensure the protection of the sick, marginalized, elderly and vulnerable persons in our province:

  • Requirements for parental consent to abortion procedures on minors;
  • Conscience and employment protection for all health care professionals and institutions whose personal or corporate ethos does not permit them to be complicit in the taking of human life; and,
  • Adequate funding for palliative care in all areas of the Province and increased provision of hospice end-of-life care, not including euthanasia.

2. Stewardship of creation [21:26]: How does your political party propose to achieve an ecologically sustainable future for Saskatchewan, to protect the God-given dignity of coming generations and our fellow children of God around the world?

3. Community and the common good (including Catholic education) [33:18]: How does your party propose to ensure the continued right of Catholic education in Saskatchewan, for Catholics and/or for others who choose it, and how will you strengthen education of the whole person for coming generations?

4. Option for the poor and vulnerable [41:39]: What does your party propose to do to ensure a living and fair wage is available for all Saskatchewan’s workers; to address the injustice of poverty in our province; and to ensure that our economy serves people rather than the other way around?

5. Rights and responsibilities [54:18]: How does your party propose to encourage and enable the great breadth of civil society in Saskatchewan to employ their time, talents, and treasure in the service of the common good, and promote the full participation of every person in our society?

6. Solidarity [1:05:54]: How does your party propose to work in partnership with the people of northern Saskatchewan, to reduce suicide rates in their communities, address the suffering they face, and support local initiatives to build a better future for the people of northern Saskatchewan?

7. Justice and peace [1:18:11]: Central to the province’s stewardship of the people’s resources is its management of the provincial budget. How does your party propose to address the budgetary imbalances within our province resulting from the COVID-19 crisis, and how do you propose to steward the enormous fiscal resources of the province?