The EFC’s Centre for Faith and Public Life, an Ottawa office opened in 1996 by current EFC president Bruce
Clemenger, has established itself as a base for
speaking into critical issues facing Canada
and a key resource for those wanting to speak
at the intersection of faith and public policy.
At the time it established the office, the
EFC had begun intervening before various
levels of Canadian courts and looking for
other ways to bring an evangelical perspective to issues being debated in Parliament.
Then-president Brian Stiller saw that the
EFC’s growing role of voicing a Christian
perspective on federal issues would become
“We knew that to be heard, we needed to
establish ourselves in Ottawa,” recalls Clem-
enger, then EFC’s director of national affairs,
who moved to Ottawa to establish the office.
“Being a few minutes’ walk from the Hill is
invaluable when dealing with the schedules
of Parliamentarians, committees and also
partner non-governmental organizations. You
need to be able to respond quickly to requests
To develop a good reputation it was
important to build a strong staff early on
and present thoughtful and well researched
submissions and court interventions. Per-
sistence is crucial, particularly in the sort of
multi-year process that took place in the late
1990s to establish new laws in biotechnology
and assisted human reproduction.
“When Parliamentarians and committees
seek you out, you know you have become an
invaluable part of the process of enacting
good law,” says Clemenger. He adds that
staff have always built connections with
Parliamentarians from various political
parties as well as networks with other non-governmental organizations.
Janet Epp Buckingham was part of the
EFC Ottawa staff from 1999 to 2006, and now
directs Trinity Western University’s Lauren-
tian Leadership Centre in Ottawa. “At the
time there weren’t many Christian organiza-
tions that had a presence in Ottawa. It wasn’t
until the debates over the redefinition of
marriage [after 2005] that other organizations
realized the value of being physically present.”
Through study guides, background and
position papers, fact sheets, government
submissions, public events and court inter-
ventions, EFC staff in Ottawa today continue
to provide information and analysis for those
making public policy and those affected by
it – on issues from abortion, euthanasia and
bioethics to human trafficking, prostitution
and religious freedom and beyond. Staff also
meet with MPs and participate in the debates
about the public good and what principles
should guide the formation of laws in Canada.
Joy Smith is one of those MPs who has
found the EFC invaluable, in particular with
her private member’s Bill C-268, which created a five-year minimum prison sentence for
those convicted of trafficking anyone under 18.
“It was only the 15th private member’s
bill to amend the Criminal Code since
Confederation,” says Smith, MP for the
Manitoba riding of Kildonan-St. Paul since
2004. She credits the “push and prayer of the
CFPL” for the bill’s success.
She also notes the EFC’s help with Bill
C-310, which lets authorities prosecute Canadians on human trafficking offences that
take place outside the country.
And Smith says the EFC is supporting
her latest projects – forcing Internet service
providers to filter pornography before it gets
into the home, and bringing a made-in-Can-ada version of Sweden’s legislation around
“They’ve been a tremendous influence
with good action, positive action,” says
Bill Blaikie, also a Manitoba MP, serving
the Elmwood-Transcona riding from 1979
to 2008, wasn’t as involved with the EFC as
Smith, but was familiar with its work.
“They took national politics seriously,”
says Blaikie, a New Democrat who sees
himself on the political left wing of the EFC’s
The EFC’s efforts to be nonpartisan and
politically balanced are not always recognized, points out Don Hutchinson, the current director of the EFC Centre for Faith and
Public Life. But the majority of politicians
and staff still consider it a credible resource,
Clemenger takes satisfaction in “a good
track record. We are making a significant
difference, and it’s important that we Evangelicals be part of the national dialogue. Our
country needs us to bring recommendations
based on our biblical vision of life to the
table. That’s part of what it means to be a
faithful witness and to bring faith into the
public life of the nation.” n
Being on-site for Supreme Court of
Canada decisions allows EFC staff to
answer media questions immediately.
Here pice-President Don Hutchinson
responds to the decision in the
Rasouli case in October 2013.
A Voice at the Intersection
of Faith and Public Policy
By Robert White
ottawa insiders commend the work of the
EFC’s Centre for Faith and Public life.