Culture matters. Indeed, it has been said that culture is upstream to policy. That is, our cultural context including civil society shapes what is possible in policy and that is why every Canadian needs to care deeply about it because it determines the nation we will become.
The context: Classical liberalism places a priority on a number of key elements including individual freedoms, minimizing coercion, toleration, a limited and representative government, the rule of law, open markets and property rights to name a few. In addition, a critical part of this vision of classical liberalism and, indeed, the success of western civilization, has been the vital importance of civil society and shared human values. That is, classical liberals have believed that voluntary associations whether they are in the form of clubs, places of worship, and families have played a critical role in forming innovative responses to both human need and our innate social nature. Civil society has formed organizations such as the church and charities to form an important buffer between the individual and the state and values such as the rule of law ensure that the power of the state are limited to harm us. A dynamic and health civil society has been foundational to Canada’s success.
But what is the state of our civil society today? What are some of the challenges that our civil society faces and is it being undermined? How is the fact that Canada has been shaped by largely Judeo-Christian values and traditions and how are they reconciled today within our multi-cultural society including many faith perspectives? Do we take the world of civic society and values such as freedom of speech, free association and the rule of law for granted? Can we as citizens actually help shape our civil society? Should Canadians be concerned and, if so, what can we do about it?
Leon Fontaine has studied and lived leadership for over 35 years. His early training as a paramedic forged his desire to help people of all walks of life—physically, mentally, and spiritually—and for the last three decades, he and his wife Sally have done just that from their home base of Springs Church in Canada—one of the country’s fastest-growing churches. Leon’s innate ability to look at any situation and recognize what needs changing has made him a much sought-after speaker and advisor for churches and corporations around the world. He has helped turn failing organizations into thriving and influential global platforms of several million. Leon is an author, TV host, CEO of Miracle Channel (Canada’s original Christian TV station), founder of Spirit Contemporary International and the Corco+ streaming service. As a proud Canadian, Leon continues to pastor alongside his wife and five married children, all of whom are actively involved in ministry.