And here’s a follow-up of mad speculation, baseless assumptions and unverified sources for you to sink your teeth into, as non-Ward 5 residents. (I’m going to make the executive decision here that no Ward 5 residents read this as they’re too busy gnawing their nails, reading the long-term forecast, and sharpening their snow shovels.)

There is a ternary divide (possibly more) in Ward 5 that belies its quiet appearance and low profile in Saskatoon. First, as was raised in the forum, it’s divided along racial and/or immigration lines; this is however not uncommon in Saskatoon. If you want to come at me and say that Saskatoon is a post-racial city, or that there’s no racism here, you can kindly just show yourself out. I have enough people like you in my friends and family circle, I don’t need to know any more. Second, there’s an income gap, or wildly disparate incomes, however you’d like to word it. Naturally we know which end of the spectrum gets the most consideration. (Hot tip, it’s not the lower end.) I’m sure you’re all passionately educated people who do not need any more lectures about inequality. Third, there is an ideology split, exemplified by the two “colleagues” vying for the Ward 5 council position. Donauer belongs to a rather Old-Testamenty style church, shall we say, with stone-age Biblical values and strict rules against questioning them. To his credit, he hasn’t raised any of these issues at council and is by all accounts, an outwardly reasonable person. This church is rather involved in the political process (they are partially responsible for most of the right-wing representation at the provincial and federal levels.) However, since there’s not much social engineering one can do on Council, the church’s hands are tied, so he’s just settled for being staunchly pro-business. I do not agree with any of the positions of the current leader of the church, but I’m not about to launch an all-out vendetta, since they thrive on conflict. If you’re piqued, the Star-Phoenix did an expos√© in the early 90s; it’s not a secret in the north end.

One person who is interested in the cause is Ford; as an atheist, he feels personally targeted by the church (which I am not disputing) and has taken to heart the plight of those who are no longer followers or who are subjected to intolerance from that particular strain of belief (which is pretty much everyone not in the church). This undertone, if you had attended the Ward 5 forum, you may have picked up on, at least from Ford. Donauer gave no outward indication of his personal beliefs, aside from his unflinching dedication to the status quo (and lowering taxes). Ford was itching to go after Donauer. There’s not really any analogy that I could say here that would not insult Ford’s efforts; I admire his tenacity but unfortunately I tend to side more with the precepts of the Unitarian forum moderators. It was actually rather odd, in a way, since on the surface Ford comes off as the zealot, and Donauer as the methodical representative. At any rate, you can read the summary of their answers earlier and judge for yourself. I will say one thing, though: with Ford, you know exactly what you are getting.

That is not to say we should ignore people and institutions who would like to take us back to a simpler, less morally-gray era. I’m painfully aware of the attacks, the gradual nibbling-away of my autonomy and rights. However, as I’ve said before, there is unlikely to be a vote on Council on whether abortion should be banned, say, or whether non-consensual sex within a marriage should not be termed rape. We should not be ignorant that there are people who subscribe to these views, but neither should we be afraid of a theocracy happening here anytime soon. We’re much more likely to have a plutocracy, with a two-tier system of infrastructure and services. To this end, there is an uneasy alliance between social conservatives and fiscal conservatives (or at least the ideological ones, sup neocons?) but as evinced in federal politics, the social conservatives can be conveniently tossed under the bus or ignored. I mean, who else are they going to vote for? Anyone seen any Christian Heritage Party signs lately? (I never thought I’d say this, but sometimes I miss the Progressive Conservatives. At least some of their decisions were based on evidence.)

We should be on guard against incrementalism, but we must be careful not to institute a modern-day witch hunt. Take Mr Solo’s lawsuit. While I agree with his views, that religion and politics should not mix – the way events have unfolded cast the church in a sympathetic manner. It has also resulted in negative publicity for those of us who do not take the “supremacy of God” line in the Charter to be justification for a theocratic state. People without an inside view on the workings of this church generally will feel a natural aversion to blaming or condemning other people because of their beliefs – it’s one of the cultural mores we have that extreme right-wing denominations can exploit.

Anyways, feel free to ignore this or discount my views. Who the hell am I? I’m just some twit with a blog trying to avoid making at least 16 new paintings for an art show in less than a year. That’s right, kiddos, this is all an elaborate procrastination device. My credentials are I watched 3 seasons of the West Wing and I like lefse and hate people giving kids books about how God buried dinosaur bones to test our faith.

Update: James Ford has informed me that he does not feel personally targeted by the doctrine of this church. Aaand that’s why you don’t believe everything I say.

Update update: here is an interview with Ashu Solo. I must admit, he does come across much better here than what I’ve read in the mass media, and I’m sorry I haven’t done a better job of defending him. Journalists: now I know why you drink, sometimes.