Q&A with Christian Heritage Party Candidate Gordon Truscott

“Without boasting, I expect to win,” Gordon Truscott declares. It’s the first time while talking to the Christian Heritage Party candidate for several minutes that he gets explicitly political. Somewhere among Truscott’s stories, observations, and folksy wisdom, an interview took place where the candidate talked about what matters to him, and what his campaign is going to be about.

“The Christian Heritage Party is about family, life and freedom, and that’s fine, but they allow me to take that in my own direction, which is basically that Christianity is about serving and caring for people,” Truscott explained.

The last time a Christian Heritage Party candidate ran federally in Guelph was 2006. The candidate was Peter Ellis, who Truscott calls a mentor, and he finished fifth out of seven candidates with almost one per cent of the vote.

In 2019, Truscott joins two dozen other CHP candidates across Canada that have already been declared, and they’re looking to put a very pointed religious voice to the election, but you don’t have to be religious to support them.

We’ll get into that.

We also talked about Truscott’s life, his experience, and why listening is a big part of his campaign mission along with a philosophical discussion about why government needs to be more caring.

(This interview was been edited for brevity and clarity.)

Gordon Truscott: I have a friend who spent 13 months, trying to get a psychologist and he ended up with an intern. The intern couldn’t diagnose him, he couldn’t do any blood testing, and he couldn’t offer any medication, and it seemed like after 13 months, it was all a waste of time. Meanwhile, it’s quite possible that this man has a lesser lifespan because of the what was going on with his medication. He even went to MPP Liz Sandals office, and of course who wants to turn up there and say, “I need a psychiatrist.”

Guelph Politico: So where do you think the government is failing then? Because, I mean, these are systemic problems no matter who’s in charge?

Truscott: Well, obviously, there needs to be more support, just in the same way we need more beds at our hospital. I was 13 hours one night in emergency, and in the morning, I had to go to work. I never did see a doctor, and that’s not fair. So then I wonder how many other people were in that situation since I’m someone who likes to stick up for people in terms of their needs and how can we address those.

So much has gone on in my life trying to help people that I could no longer really stand back and not be involved. I was a CHP candidate in the year 2000, and then from 2003 to 2013 I was in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is not in the best of situations, right now. My wife’s from Hong Kong, and I even had a friend phone and ask if she was there or over here right now.

Politico: Well, then you have a unique insight into the situation over there. Has the anger been an undercurrent for a while? Like, has it been stewing under the surface?

Truscott: It was mostly when this legislation came.* (Editor’s Note: the “legislation” in question is a bill that would allow people in Hong Kong to be extradited to the Chinese mainland for trial. Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam said that the bill as “dead” last month, but the protests in Hong Kong have continued and have gotten more intense.)

So that’s very threatening to the people in Hong Kong because it could be you, it could be me, it could be anybody you know. You wouldn’t have justice, and that’s what they’re fighting for.

It’s really bad because Xi Jinping has become a dictator and now he could do whatever he wants. China has weapons of mass destruction, financial weapons, and they’ve got millions of dollars stashed away here and there, so we’re in a very precarious situation. With our canola and pork exports they have us by the neck, don’t they? They can decide we’re not accepting anything unless you free the Huawei executive. What do we do? We’re not that big of a country, and the farmers are certainly hurting because of this. So the world stage is precarious and you just don’t know what people are going to be doing.

Politico: It makes you think what can one politician do in the face of it, and you’re already talking about how you have an uphill battle, being someone who’s not running with one of the main parties.

Truscott: I was out in the garden and I was bitten by a mosquito. So I hit it near my ear, and I looked at it, and there’s a mosquito, and there’s my blood, and I continued on regardless. Now, there’s that saying that, “If you think that small, doesn’t matter, try spending a night in a tent with a mosquito.”

Politico: I did want to hit on a couple of things I saw on the CHP website, which was, and you mentioned this here today, about listening. So do you feel that politicians aren’t listening to the people?

Truscott: No, I don’t think they are. To really properly listen, you have to go to people and not just sit in your office and think, “Well, okay, come in the door, you know, and then I’ll be listening to people.” It doesn’t really work that way.

I would like to do some unusual things. If I was a Member of Parliament, I would find a homeless man, get a sleeping bag and spend the night with him, making sure first that the police aren’t going to scoop us up in the middle of the night. (Laughs) So while I’m there, I’d be able to find out if they have medical concerns, or if they’ve been ostracized by their family, or perhaps they used to have money at one point, and then maybe went bankrupt, maybe they some have gambling addictions or whatever. But you’ve got to go to them and find out.

So no, we’re not listening in the way that we should, and as I say, you’ve got to go to the people and see what their concerns are. You’ll find out that there’s a lot of people who say, “I’ve had this concern for 10 years, you know, but I never talked to anybody, because I didn’t think anything would happen.”

Politico: Part of it is creating a culture of listening because a lot of people don’t get involved in politics as they feel like they’re not going to be listened to.

Truscott: Well that’s it. Now, compared to the 1950s, there is three times as much loneliness in society today. In the 1950s, a lot of people were in clubs or groups or had friends who got together for dinner parties, my grandmother was like that. But today, people are on their computers. They have contacts, but not people that you would necessarily share some their deepest concerns with, and so there’s this emptiness in life. We have 12.1 people out of every thousand committing suicide every year, right? In Afghanistan, it’s only 4.7. They’re in a war-torn country, for goodness sake. They have real struggles, and we are so much better off.

Politico: Another thing you talked about was caring for others. Do you think the government is caring?

Truscott: Oh, no. For years, we had a concern about cigarettes, so the taxes were raised on the cigarettes, the packaging was gross and scary, and then they started putting them behind a partition so you can’t see the cigarettes. And then we get marijuana, which maybe even more problematic, and we’re gonna sell that to people. It’s like, “Oh, come on.” That is not a caring society.

And then we have the conscience rights of medical doctors, people who have been a doctor to a patient for 20 years, and they may know that the patient is just lonely, or that they feel like they’re a burden in society, or whatever they’re struggling with, and the government is forcing you {as a doctor] to euthanize that person, or send them to someone who will. Does that sound like a caring society to you?

Politico: But here’s the bigger question: Is it the government’s job to be caring?

Truscott: It’s *my* government’s job to be caring, yes. I went down to Guatemala on a mission trip for 11 days, and on the fourth day I absolutely knew I was certain that there was no abortion in Guatemala, so I looked on the internet that night, and in 1973, the government passed the law. Except for the health of the mother, which is recognized in pro life circles, there could be no abortion.** (Editor’s Note: Guatemala is presently in a fierce political debate with the right-wing government pushing for stricter penalties for abortion providers, and the left-wing opposition that is pushing to loosen restrictions. You can read more here.)

People there care for each other. We were taken around to different families, and there was this family of eight in an old concrete structure up in the hills. There was also a mother, 49 years of age, who had two teenage sons. The mother was blind, and the eight people took in the mother and her sons. There’s only so much food and they didn’t do it because they were Christian or anything, they said they do this because they’re Guatemalans. My wife and I have two tenants from Egypt right now, and we have two students, one from Japan and one from France…

Politico: Wow, it’s the United Nations at your house.

Truscott: It is! It really is! And it’s fun because I get to practice connecting with people and listening.

But the government is supposed to be there for the people, right? We have to be able to be willing to just serve people, and there have been lots of times I’ve been able to help people. There was a woman who was very strongly Catholic, and she, her husband and their disabled son were living in rental accommodations, and I said, “Well, why don’t you buy a house?” and she said “Oh, sure.”

In 2003, when I sold my house in Guelph and moved to Hong Kong, I had some extra money, so I gave it to them for the down payment. Well, they bought the house. And they’ve been able to make the payments all along, and I’m happy about that, even though I don’t think she’s my friend right now. (Laughs.) I would do it again anyway.

Politico: That’s a bit unusual, although I know what you’re talking about, and just from talking to you for the last little bit I know that you are a folksy guy that believes in people, but it’s hard to believe that translates into our political times when we really are kind of, as you said, separate from each other. We’re very distrustful of each other, and it’s all does seem to be built around the idea of who we believe in politically.

Truscott: My campaign, Adam, is about caring for people, and I’m anxious to see what I can do. There were six of us on the board of Guelph and Area Right to Life, and I took out a toonie, and put it on the table, and I said, “We’ve often been talking about having a crisis pregnancy centre, and this is a start.” And everybody looked at the twoonie and said, “Yes, it is.” One woman got together a whole board of directors to help organize things because I wasn’t in a position to do that at the time, and when Bert Tami said, “I’m going to rent you my house for $100 a month,” we heard Jesus speaking.

So they started with that, and there started being so many more requests, and they had to get another house with seven bedrooms. It’s been an amazing success story. And the girls afterwards, after they’ve given birth, often say Michael House was the first time they felt loved, and boy does that ever bowl you over. That’s the type of thing that you can do, and sure, you have to be in the right place at the right time, or you have to connect with people, but if this is what God wants…

There was a deputy leader of the Christian Heritage Party years ago who said, “We might not get anywhere [in this election], but when it’s God’s time, you can’t stop us.” We’ll see what happens, but I’m expecting that it is [God’s time] because of the frustrations I’ve had along the way.

Politico: So let me ask you this: Obviously with the Christian Heritage Party there’s an emphasis on faith, can you appeal to people who aren’t of the Christian faith? Or are perhaps the faithless?

Truscott: Muslims love us. Jews love us. No, the faith idea should not be of any threat to anyone. As Stephen Colbert said in his interview with Anderson Cooper, he’s not here to proselytize, okay? He’s there to live his life and show people what he’s been able to come to believe, but he’s not there to say, “Okay, join this church or that church or do whatever,” and that’s not my role, either. But, when I’m running around doing all sorts of things and people say, “Hey, why did you do that?” I mention my faith to them, but I don’t have a very good record of getting people into the church. (Laughs.)

You think I would because I have a Master of Divinity degree, but I was told not to continue on because I have a bipolar condition. So at times I’m quite enthusiastic, and there’s other times that I’m more depressed than somebody I’m supposed to be counseling; how can you counsel somebody when you’re more depressed? So things are stable at the moment, and that’s why I’m running now. That, and the fact that my psychologist said, “Just because you have a bipolar condition, doesn’t mean you can’t be a Member of Parliament.”

Politico: Well, odds are that there have been Members of Parliament that have been bipolar, or had some other mental health malady. It’s not something that’s traditionally been talked about.

Truscott: Well, that’s it. I bring that up as an asset, because I know how other people are feeling. I was down so much that I would look up, and say, “You know, I wish I could commit suicide, but I feel too depressed.” So I certainly know how it feels for people who say, you know, my life is over, I’m 22.

Politico: Again, it does seem at times the problems we face are bigger than any one politician.

Truscott: Well, oh yes, they are, and that’s where I would expect our Members of Parliament should be great. That seems to happen through prayer, you know. It’s incredible that every now again, God drops in.

Politico: What about the people that don’t pray though?

Truscott: Well, that’s okay. I think Stephen Colbert hinted at the fact that if you don’t realize that there’s a God that you’re missing out somehow, but if you want to miss out, that’s okay.

UPDATED September 17, 2019 for spelling and grammatical mistakes.

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