Strong families equal strong nation
Think tank defends family values on the doorstep of Parliament
By Mags Storey | Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Andrea Mrozek does research for the IMFC. PHOTO: IMFC
OTTAWA, ONIf you look out the windows of the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada (IMFC) you can see the Parliament buildings. The think-tank's headquarters are just steps from Parliament Hill, in a building it shares with political and social action groups, businesses, non-profits, the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada and more than a dozen different embassies.
For executive director Dave Quist, it is where the issues affecting strong marriages and families belongunder the noses of government and in the centre of Canadian life.
"We want to be part of the debate," Quist says. "For far too long a social conservative or Christian viewpoint has not been included."
IMFC is the research and policy arm of Focus on the Family Canada. They conduct, compile and make known research on everything from child care to euthanasia, ensuring that "marriage and family-friendly policy are foremost in the minds of Canada's decision makers."
"We track closely what bills are being introduced," Quist says. "When we see something coming up which is within our mandate we will write to the clerk of the committee and ask to present on that bill. To date we have not been refused."
Quist has appeared before the senate committee to speak on a private senator's bill to make spanking illegal in Canada, before the Human Resources Committee to speak on the issues of child care and argued for raising the age of sexual consent before the justice committee.
Before becoming executive director of IMFC he worked on Parliament Hill for seven years and once ran for office. He was director of operations for Stephen Harper when he was leader of the opposition.
"We try to be as relevant as possible for the decision makers in the world around us," Quist says.
Along with keeping politicians informed on marriage and family issues, IMFC also works to inform leaders of mainstream businesses, charities and NGOs"people who influence large numbers of people," he explains.
They also work to keep the public informed through both the media and their own resources, including a bi-weekly email bulletin.
"We approach it from a Christian world view," Quist says. "Christian" and "socially conservative" are often seen as synonymous, he says, but not always at the IMFC.
"We believe marriage should come before family, that marriage should be a man and a woman. I know that is not politically correct, but the research holds best that children do best when they are raised in a family by a man and woman. Full stop. The research is undisputable… The research, when it's good research, always stands up to a Christian worldview."
The IMFC is unique in Canada, says Andrea Mrozek, manager of research and communications. "There's no other think tank that understands or wants to research the implications for Canadians of a declining marriage rate, higher divorce rates and higher cohabitation rates, to name but a few exaples of public policy areas I'm interested in.
"Strong families act as a bulwark against big government… I'm concerned by this ideaone that many Canadians sharethat government can and should step in to 'help' on all kinds of [areas] that used to be the domain of families, charitable organizations, religious groups and communities.
Some of the key issues on Quist's radar screen are child care, full day kindergarten, polygamy, tax rates, declining marriage rates and a rise in cohabitation.
"On a bigger picture level, there is a general erosion of family values in Canada," Quist says. "Part of that is from just a general erosion of family time. We've allowed ourselves to be incredibly busy."
Quist believes the health of families are indicative of the health of society at large. "When we have a strong marriage and a strong family, a lot of other things just become details."