On the same day that Justin Trudeau was sworn in as Canada’s 23rd prime minister on November 4, he received a letter from Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, and National Bishop Susan Johnson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) congratulating him for his victory and welcoming his “approach to governance.”
The letter commended Trudeau’s “commitment to work closely with all levels of government on issues such as homelessness, lifting children and seniors out of poverty, improving our welcome of refugees, and refocusing development assistance to the poorest and most vulnerable,” as well as his promise to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s 94 Calls to Action.
“We share the goal to build and strengthen relationships across Canada-with Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians-grounded in right relationships, compassion and justice,” the letter stated.
While Hiltz and Johnson, like many other church leaders, remained non-partisan throughout the long campaign-focusing instead on the issues they would like to see dealt with, such as poverty, reconciliation and environmental stewardship-the Anglican church’s special advisor for government relations, the Rev. Laurette Glasgow, noted that there is “a greater synergy between the priorities of our church and those of the incoming government” than there has been in recent years.
Glasgow pointed out that the Trudeau government has promised to be more open, which may allow for church groups to exert more influence in Ottawa on the issues in which they are already engaged.
“On refugees, the church has been a major player,” she said, in reference to Trudeau’s promise to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada by year’s end, “so we are really sharpening our own tools and trying to improve our own processes to work hand-in-glove with the government on that particular file.” Hiltz has called the development “heartening news.”
Glasgow stressed that while Anglicans may not agree with everything the government says or does, the church will have a greater chance of making a difference if it puts pressure on the government to fulfill the promises it has made, rather than criticizing it for not making other promises.