Life's busy, read it when you're ready!

Create a free account to save articles for later, keep track of past articles you’ve read, and receive exclusive access to all RP resources.

Search thousands of RP articles

Articles, news, and reviews that celebrate God's truth.

Get Articles Delivered!

Articles, news, and reviews that celebrate God's truth. delivered direct to your Inbox!

A A
By:

RPTV: MP Arnold Viersen on the legal fight against pornography

OVERVIEW

1:05 – Beginnings with local ARPA chapter
3;30 – Why don’t you do it, Arnold?
4:09 – Why learning French isn’t always a bad idea
5:05 – Three reasons Viersen ran
5:48 – Private Member’s Bill on pornography
8:01 – Mindgeek, the Canadian pornography company
9:53 – On protecting children online
12:23 – Ways to fight pornography and human trafficking
14:21 – Christian worldview as a launching pad

TRANSCRIPT

Welcome to Reformed Perspective; I’m Alexandra Ellison.

In today’s video, I had the privilege of sitting down with a dedicated Member of Parliament who has been actively using his Christian worldview to champion the cause of human dignity. Arnold Viersen is the Member of Parliament for Peace River-Westlock in northern Alberta

Today, let’s learn more about how he got into politics and what he is currently doing to combat online pornography.

So, to start off, could you introduce yourself and just talk about how you got into politics.

Arnold Viersen: Well, thanks for interviewing me. My name is Arnold Viersen. I’m the Member of Parliament for Peace River-Westlock, which is a big chunk of Northern Alberta. I mostly just say Northern Alberta, because… several European countries are smaller than that. I’m married. I’ve got six kids – my oldest is 11, the youngest is two and we’re expecting one in February, so it’s exciting.

How did I get involved in politics? It was through an organization called ARPA Canada. There was a guy named Mark Penninga – you might have heard of him before – and he came to Edmonton I think back in 2010, just before I got married. There was a notice in the church bulletin – organization called ARPA, a guy named Mark Penninga, be here on Wednesday night, kind of thing – and so I convinced my brother-in-law to drive with me. It was about 50 kilometers to church, so it was a bit of a drive. I said, hey we should go to this thing, And he says, “Well, what is it?” I said that’s what [this meeting] is for, to tell us what this is. So we showed up and four other people showed up so there was six of us that showed up to this event. Mark was telling us how he wanted to set up local ARPA chapters all across the the country, and that a local board was, he was kind of hoping for seven people to be on these boards and seeing as there was six of us there, he just kind of told us that we were now the ARPA board for that area. So that was back in 2010 I became a local board member with ARPA.

Then I moved to Neerlandia, Alberta – that’s where I’m born and raised – and I moved back there, bought a house there. I got married and joined the local ARPA board in in Neerlandia. I was involved with organizing a God and Government [conference] in Alberta, and then the following year we organized it for Ottawa. ARPA’s big thing was “get to know your Member of Parliament so that you can have some influence with them” and so I went there and got to know my Member of Parliament.

Then in 2013, where I lived became a brand new riding. There was no incumbent, there was no Member of Parliament at all. I thought, Well, rather than waiting to get to know my Member of Parliament, if I work hard to elect somebody then I’ll know them before they get elected and I’ll probably have more influence. So starting in 2013, I started going around asking my friends if they thought they should be Members of Parliament – three friends in particular I talked to, and one was like, “Wait a minute, I’ve got six kids; I can’t do that.” The other one was “I’ve just started a new business here; I can’t take my foot off it.” And the third just thought it was crazy. But all all of them said. “Hey Arnold, if you think it’s such a good idea, why don’t you do it?”

So I was 27 at the time. I didn’t think 27-year-olds were old enough to be Members of Parliament, but turns out there’s only three requirements for being a Member of Parliament – be a Canadian citizen, be 18 years old, and get the most votes – so that put me on the path to running in the nomination for the Conservative Party of Canada, and running to be the Member of Parliament. The Reformed community came out very strong in support of me, in the nomination in particular – that was a really important piece that led me on the path to doing this.

People always say, “Did you dream of this your whole life?” and, definitely not. I remember Mr. Wielinga in grade seven trying to teach me French and I said, “Why are you teaching me French? Probably Dutch would be a better language to learn than French, seeing as I could probably use that more.” And he said, “Well, you never know, you might work in the Parliament building one day.” And I said to him, “Fat chance of that happening!” He came back – he lives in South Africa now – he came back a couple years ago and walked to my office and said, “Fat chance of that happening, Arnold!” So, it wasn’t something that was on my radar, prior to 2013.

That’s really interesting to hear how God puts different people in your life to lead you down a different path. So over your years in politics, you’ve worked on many issues upholding human dignity. Why has this been so important to you?

Arnold Viersen: So when I ran in the nomination, there was three things that motivated me to get involved in politics. One was the defense of Alberta. I generally find that the rest of the country doesn’t understand Alberta, and also generally is trying to shut down all the things that were we’re trying to do – so that was one of the things. I’m a firearms owner and I also find that the country is pretty hard on firearms owners so I wanted to defend firearms owners. And the unborn or pre-born – that was another motivator for me. In Canada there’s no protection, there’s no law for the pre-born so I wanted to get involved in politics to defend the pre-born.

That has branched out into probably more of just a defense of human dignity. Back in 2015, right after I got elected, I had the opportunity to do a Private Member’s Bill, and everybody in the whole country shows up with ideas for a Private Member’s Bill. Seeing as you get to make the decision on what that is, I just started writing a list. And there’s a guy named Mark Penninga again – a character that reappears in my story of politics often – I just remember I had narrowed it down to 12 items that I was interested in. I remember going through it with him, and his criteria for whether it should be a go or no go was how many other MPs would do it. If the issue had wide support and other MPs would probably do it, he said “Arnold, you don’t have to do that one; somebody else will do it.”

So that’s how I came to the issue of combating pornography in Canadian society – we eventually settled on doing a private member’s motion on the impacts of pornography on Canadian society. That has basically drawn together a whole bunch of groups from across the country that care about that issue, and human trafficking and prostitution. That area, that’s kind of been my niche in the world of politics. So I’m a Conservative Member of Parliament – I fight alongside my Conservative colleagues, and then my kind of special thing that I bring to that Conservative movement is the combatting of human trafficking, prostitution, and pornography. And this seems to be fairly well accepted within the Conservative movement and I’m able to get some some action happening on it in other parties as well.

Focusing in a little bit, I’ve seen a lot of kind of campaigning for online safety of children. Would you be able to expand on that, and introduce what is is Mindgeek for people who don’t know about that.

Arnold Viersen: Mindgeek’s a company that owns a whole host of websites in the world. They’re based in Montreal, Canada, so they are a Canadian company. They claim that they own 80% of the pornography in the world, and I don’t have any reason to doubt that either. Their ownership structure is really murky. We’re never quite sure who’s in charge and who owns it. We do know that they make a lot of money, despite it being a private company so their [records] are not publicly available. But they brag about how much money they make, which is approaching a billion dollars a year.

They’ve gotten into hot water – we’ve kind of been pushing this – in that they have no controls on who is viewing pornography, but also who is showing up on their site. In Canada there’s non-consensual images laws; there’s underage images laws; all this kind of stuff. But Mindgeek doesn’t seem to care about the law, and they just want to make a lot of money. They have a big office building in Montreal; I’ve been out there protesting outside of their office building in Montreal. They are two main executives that we know of, based in the Montreal area, so this is a particularly Canadian story, although the ramifications of their actions are felt all across the world.

I know that you’ve been working on legislation and also working on spreading this message. What do you see the future of protecting children online? What do you hope to get?

Arnold Viersen: While my private member’s motion way back in 2015/16, kind of opened the door to this discussion, I’ve seen of other countries – France, Germany, the UK, Australia, and then states like California, Utah – have all really been grappling with this as well. While we got accolades in Canada early on for starting to tackle this, other countries have very much leapfrogged us. There’s some good stuff happening in terms of age verification of those that are using pornography, and then also of those showing up in pornography, that’s kind of happening all around the world.

It’s branching out a little bit beyond that, to child safety online becoming more of a much broader topic than just pornography use. It’s about, what are the impacts of social media, why are our children more depressed and more sad and participating in other socially detrimental activities? Instagram for example – their own internal documentation showed that one of their notification features was causing suicides in 12-year-old girls. So this whole online safety world and regulation is growing. While I started in this fight around the pornography issue and keeping porn out of the hands of kids and keeping kids out of porn, it’s broadening out from there into this whole online safety world. I liken it to traffic laws. When the car was first invented, it was cars and horses and buggies and there were no laws around how the roads work. We’ve made decisions on which side of the road to drive on; we’ve made decisions about painting lines on the roads, and the lights on the roads, and what the lights mean, and putting guardrails, and all this kind of stuff. So we’re likely going to proceed down a similar path when it comes to the use of the Internet.

For a lot of the audience, they’re very passionate about these issues but they’re not necessarily sure kind of where to start on, you know, wanting to get involved; how can people get involved?

Arnold Viersen: Well first, the biggest thing is, just quit looking at porn. That’s a big challenge. In Canadian society we know from the stats 85% of the population is participating in the use of porn. So [stop looking is] the most impactful. I would say it’s the simplest; it’s not necessarily the easiest but it’s the simplest.

Beyond that there’s local organizations that are fighting human trafficking in your local area. Human trafficking happens within 10 blocks or 10 minutes of where you live. There’s likely an organization in your community that’s already participating in the fight against human trafficking, sheltering the victims of human trafficking, that sort of thing. If you want to get involved politically, there’s huge opportunities for all of these things municipally, provincially, and federally. Municipally, you have the licensing of body rub parlors, that kind of thing. That all municipal. Libraries, what kind of content is available on library computers, that kind of thing, that’s all municipal. Provincial, you have the education system – how do we train our children to identify victims of human trafficking and also to not become victims of human trafficking. So there’s education opportunities. Then federally, becoming a Member of Parliament – the more Reformed Members of Parliament we have here the better, in my opinion, so… get involved with your local Conservative association, run for nomination, that sort of thing…

Thank you so much for sharing. My final question would be, how do your Christian convictions come into play in everyday life on the hill as an MP?

Arnold Viersen: Being a Christian on Parliament Hill is a luxury – it gives me a solid worldview, a launching pad from which to launch from for the issues I work on. It also allows me to see issues clearly, having a solid worldview. Being a Christian on the Hill also sometimes pigeonholes. People see you coming, which has its advantages as well – people, generally, because they know I’m a Christian, they think I’m going to think in a particular way, which often I do. So it opens the negotiation up on any particular issue; you have a good starting point, a good basis point Being a Member of Parliament is an extremely rewarding position, and one that you have to enjoy every day that you’re here, because I’ve watched many Members of Parliament come and go, so make the most of it.

Thank you so much for coming on to speak with me today. Be sure to go check out [Viersen’s social media].

Arnold Viersen: Yeah, check out my website and follow me on Facebook and Instagram so you can keep up with all the work that I’m doing in Parliament.

Thanks for watching this episode. If you would like to support this work, please consider liking this video, subscribing to this channel, and sharing it with friends and family.

For Reformed Perspective, I’m Alexandra Ellison in Ottawa.

ADVERTISEMENT

"Be Fruitful and Multiply" tour comes to Albertan April 19-22

Families are having fewer babies, and the world’s population is expected to peak and then decline later this century. The world isn’t prepared for the impact that this is going to have. However, what may be the greatest challenge of this century can also be a huge opportunity for the Church to shine…. if we embrace the blessing of children, and are prepared to raise them faithfully.

In this presentation, Reformed Perspective’s Mark Penninga will unpack data, history, and God’s Word to make the case for embracing the gift of children with open arms.

WHO IS THIS FOR?

Ages 16-116, single or married, children or no children, these presentations are suitable for all mature Christians.

WHEN AND WHERE?

Edmonton: April 19 at 7:30 pm at Immanuel Canadian Reformed Church

Barhead: April 20 at 7:30 pm at Emmanuel United Reformed Church

Ponoka: April 22 at 7:30 pm at Parkland Reformed Church

ADVERTISEMENT

Enjoyed this article?

Get the best of RP delivered to your inbox every Saturday for free.



Pro-life - Abortion, RPTV

RPTV: Katrina Marshall on being a pro-life advocate

TRANSCRIPT Welcome to Reformed Perspective, I'm Alexandra Ellison. Today we bring an inspiring video of a young woman who has been working to make a difference in the pro-life movement. Her journey has taken her to the heart of Canada’s capital, Ottawa, where pivotal decisions about the sanctity of human life are made. Through dedication and passion, she has been working tirelessly to reshape the way people view the value of every human life. Join us to learn more about her challenges and her commitment to a cause that has the power to change lives. Katrina Marshall: "I'm Katrina Marshall. I wanted to be in Ottawa. I was connected with a church here, sort of online during COVID, before I was actually in the city. And it's not too far away from my parents in Kingston." Marshall got involved in the pro-life movement after an internship with the Canadian Center for Bioethical Reform (CCBR), an educational human rights organization dedicated to making abortion unthinkable in Canada. Katrina Marshall: "I actually heard about the CCBR internship from an ARPA Canada newsletter – my brother shared the ad with me and I applied to their four-month internship March of last year, and I could not go back from that experience. So it's been kind of life-changing." As part of the internship Marshall spent the past two summers traveling around western Canada educating people about the truth of abortion. Katrina Marshall: "Basically we spend most of it doing pro-life street outreach and various projects. We do what we call 'Choice Chain' which is basically a public protest. We use abortion victim photography in all our projects, and we do things like door-knocking, and we do flyer delivery known as postcarding. So we are witnessing to a world that is often very pro-choice in our society, and we have conversations with people. Sometimes we'll just display the photos so that everyone knows what abortion actually looks like, and it's incredible. It's very hard work to do it all day, every day, but it's so rewarding. "It's hard to summarize, but you live for those conversations where they do end up changing their mind. They often end up sharing a lot, even a person, male or female, starts out completely supporting abortion, often by the end of the conversation, they will completely reject abortion in all circumstances, including the hard ones. So when that happens, it's almost hard to believe, because it's such a controversial topic. And often we see a lot of people who are really set in their ways, and who don't want to give us an inch. So when someone changes their mind it kind of just makes your day, sometimes even makes your week, depending on how it goes. But it's also definitely something that we get a lot of hate for, as you can probably guess. So we get a lot of verbal abuse, and things like that, but it is really worth it for the positive moments." Marshall spoke about the process of what having on-the-street conversations is like. Katrina Marshall: "Everyone is coming from a different place. So we always just try and ask them what they think about abortion, get their viewpoint. Often they'll bring up a hard circumstance where they think it is justified. Some people support abortion for any reason; some – in fact many, mostly – for limited reasons. So we always want to speak into that, into the specific situations they're discussing, and the issues they're raising. Not only that, but find out where their ideas are coming from, where that opinion was formed, and what's going on in their life, to really have compassion for them, and not just for the babies (as we are often accused of). "So if someone said they supported abortion for most situations, but not for casual encounters which they deem is irresponsible, I would ask them to consider a toddler in that same situation. If someone brought up the case of poverty, I would ask them if they would tell a mother who is in poverty, a mother of a 2-year-old, if she could kill that child to solve that problem. People are often taken aback: 'Of course not; of course we can't do that!' We use this common ground especially to begin. Then we use that analogy with the toddler and question, 'If we can't harm born humans, then why can we ever harm the same humans a few months earlier?'" Changing the general public's mind about abortion can be a path toward succeeding in political legislation. Katrina Marshall: "A lot of people have asked me why I do this specifically, and my answer is that there are so many people, especially pro-lifers, who don't recognize the value of educating the public on the issue of abortion, and how that plays into other arms of the pro-life movement, such as the political arm, or the pastoral crisis arm. If the public doesn't see that abortion is wrong then these other arms will not succeed. I see a large gap in the educational arm of the movement. What better way to save babies than to to talk with people who don't think that abortion is wrong at all, and in fact it's often celebrated." As a Christian, Marshall says that she can educate others about abortion as much as possible but at the end of the day it is Jesus Christ who saves lives. Katrina Marshall: "You can't change everyone's mind. When you realize what abortion is, how children are being starved to death, and ripped apart, and no one loves them, it's hard to recognize that sometimes you're the only one that will stand up for them. You're the only one that will love them, and honor their legacy, and it's hard to recognize that only God can change minds and only He can save lives in this work and you have to surrender that to Him." For Reformed Perspective, I'm Alexandra Ellison in Ottawa....