Saturday, February 07, 2015

Take a Breath and Use the Not Withstanding Clause

The Supreme Court Ruling striking down Canada's laws against assisted suicide is an extreme example of judicial overreach. Major social change like this should always come from elected representatives.

The ruling includes a demand that Canada pass a new law within 1 year. This is an unreasonable timeline given the major social implications on our society and the consultation that's required for good law making. In this case the not withstanding clause of the constitution is absolutely the right tool to use in order to provide a 5 year window to allow reasoned and democratic debate that would allow for good law making.

This is a terrible ruling. There are no real safeguards presented, in fact, the phrase "enduring suffering that is intolerable to the individual" is so terribly vague it could include anything from arthritis to depression to indigestion. Even if the safeguards were valid they will have no standing the first time someone challenges them saying they have another compelling reason to take their life such as poverty or a desire not to be a burden to their children.

The 9 - 0 ruling completely shatters my faith in our Supreme court justices. The Supreme Court previously ruled that the laws were constitutional in 1993. Surely there were aspects of the previous ruling that could have at least shown up in a dissenting opinion. It makes a mockery of our justice system that a ruling with such a profound impact on our society would overturn our laws and a previous supreme court ruling without a vigorous debate among the justices.

There are many valid reasons to oppose assisted suicide beginning with basic principles like, "killing is wrong," "every life is valuable," and "we have an obligation to protect the vulnerable." The giant legal vacuum that is being created will leave no protection in place for vulnerable people who may feel forced into suicide or for doctors who cannot in good conscience take an active part in killing their patients.

There is no conscience legislation to protect the right of doctors, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals to refuse to prescribe lethal drugs. In fact, the college of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario is currently seeking to take away doctor's rights to refuse to provide treatments they find immoral stating, the "physician's responsibility is to place the needs of the patient first, [so] there will be times when it may be necessary for physicians to set aside their personal beliefs in order to ensure that patients or potential patients are provided with the medical services they require."

I understand that it is even harder to watch someone suffer than to suffer yourself, and that many of the people in favour of this ruling are motivated by compassion. But the facts remain that aggressive pain medication and proper care for the dying can alleviate a great deal of the suffering that exists.

There's no doubt that this ruling will tear families apart and will sow deep divisions within our country. It's time to use the not withstanding clause of the constitution to allow for related laws protecting patient and doctors' rights to be developed and for a fair and respectful national conversation to begin.

Just for fun here's a not very exhaustive list of conditions that may cause enduring suffering that is intolerable:

Kidney Disease,
Opiate addiction,
Respiratory Illness,
Yellow Fever,

Saturday, January 11, 2014

I'm with York University

This may be unpopular but I commend York University for standing by their decision to instruct a professor to allow a student taking an online course to opt out of a group assignment because the student did not want to work with women for religious reasons. Professor Paul Grayson forwarded the request to the dean's office for human rights which said the professor should honour the student's request given that this was an online course and the professor had given exemptions to another student who was unable to participate. The professor was "shocked" by the student's request and angered by the university's response so he refused to comply and has generated a media outcry against York University for their decision to stand by the student.

The professor's radio interview with CBC was particularly revealing early in the interview he said:
My main concern was that for religious beliefs we can also justify not interacting with jews, blacks, gays you name it and if this were allowed to go through than presumably all these other absurd demands could be made.
The professor's issue was simply that the student used his religion as the reason to make the request, and that if the university accommodated the request however insignificant it was it could lead to all sorts of terrible consequences. So it appears the professor refused the request simply to make a point. The interviewer asked, "Could you have accommodated him?" Professor Grayson's responded:
Physically sure because it's a web based course and if for example you live afar I can't expect you to fly to Toronto to conduct a focus group, but that is a completely different situation from a student who wishes not to interact with females in class out of preference. The analogy I like to use is two students come to class on Monday morning without completing their assignments, the first didn't complete it because his father passed away ok that's a very good reason, the second didn't complete it because he got drunk all weekend, well that's not a good reason.
So the professor is now equating having a religious faith with being drunk and saying explicitly that making a request as a matter of conscience is not a very good reason. In fact freedom of religion and of conscience is a foundational right in any free society.

No one would have been harmed by accommodating the student, and I'm sure the professor would have accepted almost any other reason to grant an exception from this assignment. It should have been granted.

Paul Grayson asked for a principled response from the University and I'm pleased to say he received one. Another principled response would be to discipline Grayson for deliberately refusing to follow his dean's direction.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Gosnell Tragedy Finally Getting Attention (Sort of)

Kermit the Killer Gosnell routinely killed live, viable, fully delivered babies at his Philadelphia abortion clinic. He now stands accused of 1st degree murder relating to seven of those infants. The story was completely ignored by the mainstream media. A picture of the completely empty media chairs in the courtroom is an indictment of every news agency that seeks to bury an inconvenient story.

Finally in the wake of an excellent article by Kathleen Powers in USA today and a concentrated twitter campaign that has #Gosnell as the most tweeted term of the day, it's starting to get a little attention. There were 225 articles on a Google search this evening, it included articles the National Post, the Washington Post, LA times, CBS News, and Fox, but  it was nowhere on the home page of Google News. You still have to look for it. Still the campaign is having some impact, Pro-choice journalist Megan Mc Ardle wrote an honest article, "Why I didn't write about Gosnell and Why I Should Have" and Real Clear Politics listed 3 stories in its afternoon report.

This is a brutal disgusting story, that must be told. It's a tragedy, but I'm optimistic that in the coming days people will learn about the horrors that unrestricted abortion access has on women and children. I'm hopeful that it will start discussions about how we can protect women and children and highlight how unreliable many of our news sources have become.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

We're All Bullies

Thousands of teachers and students across the country donned pink t-shirts to take a stand against bullying today. No one likes a bully. Too bad we're all bullies.

A couple of years ago I volunteered to help with a self esteem workshop for young children. We led a small group of kids through a morning session and there was a 10 year old boy at my table who was very outspoken about how he was bullied at school. Naturally, I was sympathetic to the young guy and he hung out with me through various activities the whole morning. Part way through a new boy from his class joined our group. The first boy said, "You can't sit here fatso." I politely said that the new boy was welcome to join us and we moved on. Soon we had an activity sorting candy, again the first boy says, "this won't work. Fatty is going to eat them all!" Finally I pointed out to the first boy that he was being the bully, but he just couldn't comprehend that he could be a bully too.

I thought of this a few months back when some radio announcers convinced a nurse caring for Kate Middleton that they were part of the Royal Family she shared way to much information and the prank went viral. The nurse committed suicide shortly after the prank presumably because of her shame at the incident. The radio jockies lost their jobs and had to go into hiding because of all the threats that they received after the incident. Nobody looked good in this situation the radio hosts and hundreds like them make a living tormenting and ridiculing vulnerable and trusting people and they are enabled by their audiences. After the news of the nurses death, the pile on of criticism and the threats the djs received were their own form of bullying.

In fact the pink shirted crusaders are likely shaming non conforming students that are uncomfortable wearing pink - they are inadvertinely bullying the students in the name of anti-bullying. It's typical, some of the worst bullies are those who seek conformity in the name of diversity, in fact the National Review Online has an excellent interview about a new book, Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America.

Let's stop bullying for good. Maybe the first step is to have the courage to wear blue next pink day.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Pope Francis Emotion and Evangelism

I was absolutely exhuberant when I first learnt that we had a Pope. It was a different feeling than when Pope Benedict was chosen. I had grieved John Paul the Great, but Benedict's resignation took that part of the process away. This time the circumstances were sad but not heart breaking. This time I could focus on the joy of God reinforcing that He is taking care of His Church.

We have a rare opportunity to evangelize with Pope Francis. First its the simple fact that everyone outlet has been talking about him. Second his humilty and focus on the poor will stand in sharp contrast to our materialist culture and our selfish desires. Finally the way he is already being attacked by enemies of Christianity will help draw all Christians together.

On Thursday night we ordered a Pizza, as we were waiting my best friend struck up a conversation with a guy playing with his smart phone. The conversation went something like this:
Best Friend Forever: "We Have a Pope!"
Smart Phone Guy: "I've Heard a Rumour"
Random 50 year old guy: "He'll have a hard time fill John Paul's shoes"
SPG "Yeah"
R50 "He took us forward. The last pope took us back. Did you know he said that not recycling is a venial sin?"
BFF "Yeah but you only need to confess the mortal ones"
R50 "Still John Paul was the greatest pope ever. People think Reagan won the Cold War but it was really John Paul"
SPG "I'll agree that he was the greatest pope of the modern era, but I've been doing some reading a lot of the popes have done some pretty amazing things . . ."
Pizza Kid "Can I help you?"
Me "I'm here to pick up a gluten free, non dairy pizza with anchovies"
PK "Here, that'll be $12"
BFF "We have a Pope!"
PK "Huh?"
As we left R50 and Smart Phone guy were still in a deep conversation. Maybe we'll see them at Mass today . . .

On the second point Ashley McGuire wrote an excellent post about how Pope Francis will likely smash the over simplified left/right labels proving that you can uphold Catholic Moral teaching AND love the the poor and marginalized:
Pope Francis, meet a generation of young Catholics longing for you. Longing for someone to show us in the most tangible of ways that the Catholic Church defends the most vulnerable among us, be they in their mother’s womb or hungry in the streets.

Meet a generation of Protestants looking to see Catholics assure them that our faith is first and foremost about Jesus Christ.
She's right that this witness will speak volumes to the largely unchurched culture that we live in.
The silliness of the mainstream media - working to dig up dirt on day 1 of Francis' papacy -will also help unify all Christians. Even before the cardinals made their decsision. The evangelical magazine Christianity Today noted:
Whether we Protestants like to admit it or not, though, there is a single person in Rome who can influence Christians of every stripe to work more heartily in the cause of Christ, sometimes together (even with Catholics) and sometimes faithfully in their own theological tradition. That's why even non-Catholics are praying fervently for the new pope. Given the monumental challenges of the 21st century, it is more important than ever that Protestants and Catholics figure out how to work together.
The humility of Pope Francis should provide just such an opportunity.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Let's Treasure Time at the End of Life

On January 15 the Quebec Government released a report outlining a strategy to circumvent the laws against euthanasia in Canada's criminal code. The move is a sad statement on our society. Watching our loved ones weaken and age is a painful part of life, but we must realize that even as our bodies and minds deteriorate (1) we still have a purpose and (2) we can be happy even with limited abilities.

I thought of this at my grandfather's funeral last Thursday. My Opa passed away 4 years after suffering a stroke that made him require constant nursing care. After his passing a number of people including my family members said, "it's better now, he should have died 4 years ago." I disagree I believe he was a great comfort to my Oma and that he experienced much happiness. Below is a Eulogy that I delivered before the Mass:
I never really got to experience Opa in the prime of his life, but some early memories stand out. When I was young, I remember sleeping overnight at Oma and Opa’s and was awakened in the morning to Opa shouting for everyone to get up for chores. Even Aunt Beatrix and Uncle George jumped at the sound of his voice!

Fridays seemed to be our day to visit Oma and Opa. I know this because there was always fish for dinner. Oma and Opa’s faith was shown at mealtimes, we didn’t just bless the food, we prayed an Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be, sometimes there might even have been a litany of the saints!
As an adult, I was touched that Oma and Opa travelled from Strathroy to Toronto to attend the Easter Vigil Mass when I was received into the Catholic Church, and that they visited us in Fergus shortly after our wedding.

Mostly, Opa was silent, but his silence spoke volumes when backed up by his hard work and service to his family. I thank God for all of the gifts he gave us through Opa, especially for the past four years where I got to know Opa personally.

I have no doubt that Opa was frustrated by the effects of his stroke, and that being separated from Oma hurt him deeply, but I believe he was happy. In that first year, we had opportunities to walk with him, we were there as support but he carried a lot of his own weight. Opa’s determination and character shone through.

In one visit, my wife Carolynne sat with Opa at the piano and I was impressed how he willingly played the keys and participated in the music.

I know he appreciated all his visitors and the staff at the nursing home in part because he was excited to let us know that Nancy Verberg had started working with him. Nearly every time we visited him he would smile and say something, usually about the weather or the crops. At Oma and Opa’s 60th wedding anniversary last spring, again I saw Opa perk up when new people came in to greet them, and every time Oma opened a card he would lean over to look at it. He was very happy that day.

Last summer I brought Oma to visit Opa, he was lying in bed and we mostly just sat there for the first 20 minutes, but then they had a lengthy and intimate conversation. They stared tenderly at each other. It was a wonderful opportunity to see how much they loved each other, and an honour just to be there. At the end of the visit Opa asked if Oma was going to be late for cards, still concerned about her happiness before his own.

The last time we saw Opa was in November. He seemed to enjoy looking at pictures and held on tight to my hand as we left. He sure had a good grip.

I was recently introduced to the prayer “May the all powerful Lord grant us a restful night and a peaceful death.” I’m sure during the time that Opa had to be alone in his thoughts, God spoke to him and gave him that peace. Rest in Peace Opa.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Random Election Thoughts

So it's exactly 1 week since the US election and I'm still a little shell shocked. I honestly believed that Romney and Ryan were going to pull it off. I even took some time off work and travelled down to Ohio to help out with the Romney campaign in the final stretch, in spite of the result it was a great time and I'm glad I took the time to stand up for freedom.

I hate hurricanes, at least I hate how the media seems to be able to turn every hurricane into a disaster for the Republican party. Seriously the liberal spin machine is incredible, the embassy attacks in Libya were a disaster, the cover ups were criminal, and at the end of the day President Obama was more trusted on foreign policy than Romney. Then there's the stock market, news reports say there's fear that a "divided government won't be able to avoid the fiscal cliff." That's it, it's the House Republican's fault! I think it's far more likely that financial markets are concerned about the President's ability to manage the economy, but the media will always find a way to matter of factly pin it on the conservatives.

There will be serious consequences. I'm more optimistic than I was about religious freedom. I think the coalition of Catholics, Evangelicals, Orthodox Jews, and Mormons will continue to grow and develop their messages on religious freedom. There will be attacks, but there will be an effective defence.

On the economy, I hold out a lot less hope. I predict there will be at least another round of quantitative easing and America will receive successive credit downgrades. The US dollar will begin depreciating against most major currencies, probably even the Euro. Interest rates will rise sharply despite the efforts of the Federal Reserve. Unemployment will rebound and move above 8%.

On Foreign Affairs, I'm down right fearful of what will happen. Iran, Russia, China and North Korea will be emboldened knowing that Obama has no interest in maintaining American military superiority or preventing Iran from producing nuclear weapons. I can't predict what will happen but if I lived in Israel, I'd be very afraid.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Mitt Romney on EWTN

Mitt Romney gave an in depth interview to EWTN about a month ago. The interview was excellent; it really seemed to effectively help you get to know him as a man and as a leader. By far the most significant thing in the interview was the discussion about freedom, specifically freedom of religion:
Raymond Arroyo: The Catholic community in this country and people across the faith spectrum were outraged by President Obama’s HHS Mandate – requiring abortifacients and contraceptives to be made available to employees. It set off protests by the Catholic bishops and individual people of faith. What will you do as president about that HHS Mandate?

Gov. Romney: Well, first of all I’ll continue to meet with to Cardinal [Timothy] Dolan [of New York and President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops] – who by the way is going to offer the benediction on the last evening of the Republican Convention after my acceptance speak. So I am making it very clear that the interest of religious freedom is something I support wholeheartedly and will work with him and with others to assure that each piece of legislation that we consider is thought also in terms of its impact on religious freedom and tolerance. This is a nation where our first freedom is the right to worship God as we choose, and any effort on the part of the federal government to intrude on religious liberty and to reject tolerance in favor of a government mandate is a violation of that first freedom.
It was probably as successful as anything else he has done in order to make himself accessible and real, and it places him in stark contrast to President Obama who sems to disdain people of faith and continuously reduces freedom of religion to "freeodom of  worship."

Friday, July 06, 2012

Reflections on the Fornight for Freedom

In the 14 days leading up to July 4th, American Catholics and many others who are concerned about religious freedom participated in the "Fortnight for Freedom," a campaign of prayer and teaching in support of religious freedom.

The campaign was kicked off in response to the Obama administration's new regulation forcing all employers including religious institutions such as schools and hospitals to pay for contraceptives, and chemical abortions for their employees. But as Dwight G. Duncan (not Ontario's Finance Minister) noted, there are numerous signs that religious liberty is being threatened world wide:
Now we are implicated in this battle over the HHS mandate concerning contraceptives, abortion-inducing drugs, and sterilization. It could’ve been another flashpoint. Denmark, for example, has just passed a law requiring the official state Lutheran church to solemnize same-sex weddings. In Ireland, the government is seriously proposing to abolish the centuries-old priest-penitent privilege, thus enabling the government to force priests to violate the sacred seal of confession, something that has been well-settled in the common law since the days of Henry II and St. Thomas Becket. In Nigeria, in what seems like a weekly ritual, Christians are being killed for attending church.
It's an incomplete list to be sure. Ontario Catholic schools will now be forced to sponsor gay clubs for students, and a German judge has just declared it a crime to circumcise a child.

Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia kicked off the campaign with an excellent explanation of situation that was neatly summarized by Frank Weathers:
1. First, religious freedom is a cornerstone of the American experience.

2. Freedom of religion is more than freedom of worship.

3. Threats against religious freedom in our country are not imaginary. They’re happening right now. They’re immediate, serious, and real.
4. Unless we work hard to keep our religious liberty, we’ll lose it.
5. Politics and the courts are important. But our religious freedom ultimately depends on the vividness of our own Christian faith–in other words, how deeply we believe it, and how honestly we live it.
It's true, we must live our faith and not shy away from expressing its principles in public if we want to keep our freedom and contribute to a just and vibrant society.
Archbishop Chaput also gave an inspiring homily to close the fortnight:
In coming years, we’ll face more and more serious challenges to religious liberty in our country. This is why the Fortnight for Freedom has been so very important.

And yet, the political and legal effort to defend religious liberty – as vital as it is – belongs to a much greater struggle to master and convert our own hearts, and to live for God completely, without alibis or self-delusion. The only question that finally matters is this one: Will we live wholeheartedly for Jesus Christ? If so, then we can be a source of freedom for the world. If not, nothing else will do.
And so we have been called to "live wholeheartedly for Jesus" so that "we can be a source of freedom for the world." I pray that I can follow that call by taking every opportunity to defend religious liberty and by living faithfully so that I can be a credible witness.

I hope that a similar effort can take place in Canada in the near future.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Vote Your Conscience

I just came across this video urging Catholics to vote for life, marriage, and freedom in the upcoming US election. The same should be said for all of us up here in Canada. Our religious freedoms are rapidly being eroded here as well. With Prime Minister Harper stifiling debate about protecting human life and Premier McGuinty forcing Catholic schools to sponsor gay clubs, its time to realize how much our governments are working to marginalize people of faith.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Foreign Policy Obama's Strength???

Writing in a front page article in the Globe and Mail Konrad Yakabuski is positively glowing with praise over President Obama's allegedly wildly successful foreign policy:
Because he has a good story to tell about his foreign-policy achievements, and cannot tout his economic record in quite the same way, Mr. Obama is making the most of it.

On the first anniversary of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, the President swooped into Afghanistan on the pretext of having reached a deal to stick by the Afghans but also end America’s military entanglement there.

But Mr. Obama’s dramatic Tuesday night speech to Americans from a U.S. military base in Afghanistan was also meant to persuade voters that he has aced his responsibilities as Commander-in-Chief – and rub his foreign-policy successes in Republican faces.

It was election-year stagecraft at its finest.

In 2008, Mr. Obama campaigned like a peacenik and was derided as hopelessly naïve about foreign policy – first by Hillary Clinton, his rival for the Democratic nomination, and then by John McCain, the onetime prisoner-of-war and that year’s GOP nominee.

Yet, foreign policy is the one sphere in which Mr. Obama has exceeded expectations in office. His Nobel Peace Prize notwithstanding, he has shown himself to be a cool-headed – and, if necessary, ruthless – practitioner of realpolitik and proved the naysayers wrong.

Who could blame him for taking a victory lap or three?
There's so much wrong with this article it's not funny. True it may be "election-year stagecraft at its finest," but exceeded expectations?? He was awarded the Nobel Peace prize based what he hoped to do. Judging by the massive crowds at his speaches in Germany and Cairo early in his presidency, expectations were pretty high that he would be ushering a new era of world peace. I'm not sure he's quite accomplished it, rather it seems that  President Obama has been a complete failure at foreign policy. Just off the top of my head:
  • He's had an insencere approach to Israel, funding the Palestinian Authority, and only offering tepid support to their right to self defense.
  • Iran has accelerated its Nuclear program consequence free.
  • A reflex to apologize unecesarily making America look weak and demoralizing his troops as evidenced by his apology for burning copies of the Koran that were being used to transmit messages between prisoners.
  • North Korea attempted to launch a rocket capable of launching an InterContinental Ballistic Missile only weeks after signing a deal where the US agreed to provide food aid in exchange for North Korea suspending its program.
  • NATO's successful air support campaign to Libya's rebels was accomplished without American leadership. (That's when the ridiculous phrase 'leading from behind' was coined.)
  • American troops have essentially been kicked out of Iraq
  • The security situation in Afghanistan deteriorated steadily with no clear sense of mission for the US troops and no rhetorical support for the effort from the President.
  • He has displayed regretable moral equivalency when Christians have been attacked during worship by muslim extremists in Egypt, Iraq, and elsewhere.
  • His off-mic comments to the Russian Prime Minister on missle defense, “This is my last election, after my election, I have more flexibility” also demonstrate insincerity to an incredible degree.
President Obama does deserve credit for giving the order to kill Osama bin Laden, but to equate that one success with a successful foreign policy seems completely hollow.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Rick Santorum for President

In honour of Rick Santorum's resounding victory in Kansas tonight (51% to 21% for Santorum), I want to join these girls in singing Game On!

I wish we had a leader half as inspiring as Rick up here in Canada.

From his record we know he places a genuine emphasis on the dignity of every person and that he refuses to buy into environmental alarmism. His speech on Super Tuesday was especially insightful highlighting to Americans that their freedom is at stake because of the rapid expansion of government:

We are running deficits, where we’re borrowing 40 cents of every dollar.

And as you look at all of the young people here, the leaders in Washington are
saying to you, on your tab, and you will pay for this, the rest of your life.

What right does the government have to do that to the next generation?

I hadn't heard it put quite so eloquently, but he's right, the rate of borrowing and printing money in the US is almost immoral. Later he said:

They believe that it’s no longer possible for free enterprise, a free economy, and free people to be able to build strong communities and families and be able to provide for themselves and their neighbors. No, we now need an increasingly powerful federal government to do this for us.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the beginning of the end of freedom in America. Once the government has control of your life, then they got you.

And of course the greatest example of expansionist government taking away individual freedom is the undemocratic implementation of Obamacare:

we need people to go up against President Obama and his vision of a top-down government control, of not just health care, but of energy and of manufacturing and of financial services, and who knows what else is next.

But this is a -- this is a president who believes -- who believes that he simply is better able to do this than you are, that he will be fairer than you are with your fellow man. Ladies and gentlemen, this is an election about fundamental liberty. And
the signature piece, the signature piece of legislation that points this out, where you have economic rights created by the government, and then the government using its heavy hand to force you to buy insurance, to force you to take policies that you don’t want, and, of course, to force you to take coverages that may even violate your faith convictions...

Rick Santorum gets the importance of this election, and clearly believes what he says. No wonder these young girls and the people of Kansas are inspired!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

American Catholics Should be Bursting with Pride

This priest's entertaining rant against President Obama's infamous Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate that forces religious institutions to provide funding for sterilizations, chemical abortion inducing drugs, and contraceptives is fun and refreshing:

It's only part of the story however. The impressive moral clarity that has come from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (the only legitimate voice for the Catholic Church in the US) is inspiring. They have rightly identified this issue and the fake accomodation offered by President as a grave moral concern and fundamental issue of religious freedom that affects insurers, employers and individuals.

In doing so they have defended religious liberty for all Americans, and earned the respect of many protestants and secularists. One of the best endorsements came from Forbes writer Charles Kladec:

Before our very eyes, President Obama is on the verge of establishing the principle that the right to religious freedom comes not from our Creator, but from those who rule us. A government endowed right granted to women now trumps our unalienable right to act in accordance with our religious beliefs and conscience. Not only does this overturn the First Amendment, it also tramples the nation’s founding principles as announced in the Declaration of Independence. Such an achievement would be the true audacity of power.
. . .
I am not a Catholic, nor do I believe in the Church’s opposition to contraception. But I pray that the leadership of the Catholic Church will have the faith and courage to stand for its core beliefs and use all of its moral power and political influence to defeat the President’s edict. I pray they will reach out across the political spectrum to people of all faiths, agnostics and atheists in the name of religious freedom and individual liberty. By so doing, they, and the institution of the Catholic Church, will have my love and respect for the rest of my life.
Powerful stuff. It makes me proud to be Catholic. It also underlines the importance of the issue. Tyrants through out history have tried to stamp out religious freedom in order increase their power. Michael Polson outlines a startling similar comparison to an edict forcing Jews to eat pork and a similarly pathetic 'accomodation'

In the second century B.C., the foreign tyrant Antiochus IV Epiphanes decreed that all Jews should be forced to violate their religious consciences by publicly eating pork and food sacrificed to idols. “If any were not willing to eat defiling food, they were to be broken on the wheel and killed” (4 Maccabees 5:3). It was a command of gratuitous forced submission as a sign of Antiochus’s supreme authority to compel obedience by a subject people.

But it was not to be: “And when many persons had been rounded up, one man, Eleazar by name, leader of the flock, was brought before the king.” Eleazar was an old man. Antiochus, who said he respected Eleazar for his “gray hairs,” tried to persuade him to submit to the command to eat pork: “‘why, when nature has granted it to us, should you abhor eating the very excellent meat of this animal? It is senseless not to enjoy delicious things that are not shameful, and wrong to spurn the gifts of nature.’” A reasonable enough argument—if one does not appreciate religious conscience.

Antiochus went on: “‘it seems to me that you will do something even more senseless if, by holding a vain opinion concerning the truth, you continue to despise me to your own hurt. Will you not awaken from your foolish philosophy, dispel your futile reasoning, adopt a mind appropriate to your years, philosophize according to the truth of what is beneficial, and have compassion on your old age by honoring my humane advice?’” And then, the convincing clincher: if compelled by torture, Eleazar’s actions surely would be excused by his God! “‘For consider this, that if there is some power watching over this religion of yours, it will excuse you from any transgression that arises out of compulsion’” (4 Maccabees 5:6–13).

Eleazar declined, stating that no compulsion was more powerful than obedience to God. “‘Therefore do not suppose that it would be a petty sin if we were to eat defiling food; to transgress the law in matters either small or great is of equal seriousness, for in either case the law is equally despised’” (4 Maccabees 5:19–20).

Antiochus had Eleazar stripped and scourged nearly to death. Then, “partly out of sympathy from their acquaintance with him, partly out of admiration for his endurance, some of the king’s retinue offered Eleazar an accommodation: “‘Eleazar, why are you so irrationally destroying yourself through these evil things? We will set before you some cooked meat; save yourself by pretending to eat pork’” (4 Maccabees 6:14–15).

It was a rather inspired political maneuver: the tyrant’s authority to compel obedience would be vindicated. At the same time, the misguided dictates of pathetic religious conscience would (surely) be satisfied. But Eleazar would have none of the charade. . .

I'm thankful that the US Bishops will also have none of Obama's charade. Congress should act quickly to protect religious freedoms. Catholics in particular should be proud and supportive of their bishops and more generally the fact that this mandate was passed at all is an important example of why it is essential for people of faith to be involved in politics, because those who argue that they should not participate in politics will run over their rights at the first opportunity.

Monday, October 31, 2011

KW Life Chain and the Counter Protest

On October 2, 2011, KW Right to Life marked its Annual Life Chain Memorial in front of Grand River Hospital on King Street in Waterloo and approximately 150 people attended to bear a silent witness for life. The cold wet weather didn’t seem to dampen the spirits of the crowd that lined the streets holding umbrellas over signs that read, “Abortion Kills Children,” and “Life is Precious.” We were joined by over 30,000 people nationwide who decided to stand up for life in their own communities.

This year, I had the privilege of addressing everyone at the end of the event. The theme of my talk was Hebrews 3:13, “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” The message was simple: The ‘bad news’ highlights how important our work is to protect life at every stage, and the ‘good news,’ including the progress that we make and the large number of people standing up for life, reminds that we can be successful and encourage each other along the way.

I spoke of the importance of our work and how travesties of justice, like the mother who strangled her newborn baby and was set free by an Alberta Appeals Court using the justification that Canadians accept abortion and would sympathize with the mother, demonstrate how hard we need to work to change our culture.

I also spoke about the fact that we have had a number of successes. That there are many pro life MPs and MPPs, that the federal government has prevented abortion funding from being included in international maternal health funding, and that a new movement is beginning to lobby for the defunding of abortion. (On October 22, a rally at Queen’s Park hosted 2,300 pro life witnesses.)

The really interesting part about this year’s life chain was the presence of a counter protest with 12 pro-abortion protesters on the other side of King Street. Their presence was a clear sign that our work is having an impact. They were not nearly as prepared for the weather as the pro life crowd, as they did not have umbrellas and were soaking wet by the end of it. At one point, I wanted badly to cross over the street and offer to hold my umbrella over them. I chatted briefly with some of the protestors afterward. They were passionate but polite and real. I left hoping that I would get another opportunity to talk to them, to better understand what they are thinking, but more importantly to stress the value all human life.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Does Anyone Want My Job?

My old one that is ;)

About a month ago, I received a promotion. I'm actually pretty excited about it. The downside is I'm stepping away from the government relations work that I had been doing and enjoying for the last 18 months or so. If you're into politics and have an analyitical bent this could be a good fit for you. Feel free to contact me at "patrick dot oneil at ontariopork dot on dot ca" if you want the inside scoop.

You can apply here:

Strategist - Markets, Policy & Government Relations - (Guelph, Ontario, Central Canada, Canada)
Company: Ontario Pork
Open Til: 24-Dec-11
Industry Sector: Government/Industry Groups
Industry Type: Pork
Career Type: PolicyJob
Type: Full Time
Minimum Years Experience Required: 3
Salary: To be discussed

Strategist – Markets, Policy & Government Relations

Ontario Pork is currently seeking a Strategist – Markets, Policy & Government Relations, to drive results for effective farm programs and to provide an exemplary service to the hog producers to support their business decisions.

The successful candidate will be a strong team player in developing and maintaining relationships through effectively communicating with lobby firms, commodity organizations, consultants, government officials, producers, industry partners and the media, on strategies, various campaigns, policies and issues.

The duties and responsibilities include gathering information from experts, working with researchers, analyzing, editing and preparing reports for market trends, specific projects, safety committee, board reports and budgets.

Keeping abreast of industry news and pricing is a must to effectively communicate and provide presentations at producer meetings, news briefs and commentaries. Assisting in organizing events and corporate planning is also required.

Skill/Education Requirements

Bachelor of Commerce Degree in Economics or Political Science Undergraduate Degree

Minimum of 3 years experience in a customer service position, ideally in the field of agriculture
Excellent communication skills – both written and verbal
Presentation skills
Able to effectively manage conflict
Ability to communicate complex ideas in a simplistic form
Frequent travel within Canada is required, as well as, being on call.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sometimes I Wish . . .

. . . Environment Canada was a little more creative with their graphics.

Oh well, looks like it's going to be wet for a few days.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

World Youth Day Festivities begin in Madrid Today

I'm so excited for the pilgrims who are attending the World Youth Day celebrations in Madrid this week. I still remember how strengthened I felt after attending World Youth Day in Toronto in 2002, it truly was a life changing experience for me and I'm sure it will be for most of this year's young people as well. I haven't been following the news much, but I will as much as I can over the next week. So far it hasn't been too exciting:

Some short-sighted lefties are complaining that the cost is too high given the economic crisis in Europe. Hopefully the excitement and enthusiasm convinces them otherwise. I think this is exactly what Spain needs right now. After all this is a big deal even from merely economic terms. The article noted:

“More than one million outsiders will be circulating in Madrid,” said Alfonso del Álamo, the director of Madrid's civil protection agency. “A major event like winning the World Cup is only 500,000. We’ve never seen anything like this.”
He'll be happy to know that if my memory is correct, 25% fewer crimes were committed in Toronto despite the influx of people.

BUT the reporting isn't all bad. This article in the Irish Times was very positive, and this South African article even quoted Pope Benedict's Sunday prayer:

“Today, our thoughts turn to the young people now gathering in Madrid for World
Youth Day”, the pope told the faithful gathered for his Angelus prayer from the balcony of his summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, near Rome.

“As I prepare to join them, I ask you to accompany us with your prayers for the spiritual fruitfulness of this important event”, he said.

No Problem. Those prayers are coming right up.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Whither the National Post?

With all the press coverage of the downfall of Rupert Murdoch, the single worst piece of analysis was published in the National Post. I'll admit that the title, "It Couldn't Happen to a Sleazier Guy" drew me in. Good gossip on a man who made a fortune selling bad gossip was something I was looking forward to. But Jeet Heer's article was an astonishing disappointment. Essentially his thesis is Murdoch's news holdings tend to be right wing, therefore he's a scumbag:

Although he dabbled with left-wing politics when young, the mature Murdoch has had a remarkably consistent political profile, one that informs his vast array of media holdings ranging from the Sunday Times of England to The Australian to the Wall Street Journal and Fox News in the United States. With the exception of Murdoch’s Chinese holdings, which tend to defer to the wishes of the Communist Party, all of Murdoch’s media outlets are organs of right-wing populism.
For shame! How dare he give voice to right wing ideas? No smear job would be complete without accusations of racism:

The characteristic stance of a Murdoch newspaper is that of defending putatively
“normal” tax-payers against various supposed parasites and weirdos, an eclectic and elastic category that includes union members, gays, almost all foreigners, uppity women, and racial minorities.
But worse! The Sun has a long-standing habit of referring to the French as “frogs,” . . . How offensive. Seriously, even when the facts don't fit the smear - Murdoch's wife is of Asian descent so the racism charge doesn't quite stick - Heer just uses it for more 'evidence.'

Murdoch is something fouler: an intelligent man who has found a way to make money trafficking in racial animosities he himself doesn’t necessarily share.
The entire article was a hit piece based merely on the fact that the author didn't like the fact that Murdoch wasn't true to left wing orthodoxy. I can't believe the National Post would print such garbage.

Don't get me wrong, I don't know enough about Murdoch to have an opinion. I do know the cell phone hacking and corruption of his flagship tabloid was shameful and someone, probably several people, should go to jail. But that doesn't mean that every paper or news outlet in Rupert Murdoch's control should be tarred with the same brush.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Pepsi = Gross

Pepsico is using a new technology to make their junk food taste better. Sounds exciting right? Actually it's disturbing: the technology involves harvesting stem cells from aborted baby livers to develop a “proprietary taste receptor-based assay systems that provide a biochemical or electronic readout when a flavor ingredient interacts with the receptor.” More on the story here.

Naturally prolife groups are calling for people to boycott Pepsico. That was fine by me as I've always been more of a Coke guy myself. Unfortunately, Pepsi also makes Lays and Ruffles potato chips as well as Tostitos - as a junk food junkie, those are major staples of my diet.

It's been a week since I first found out about this travesty, and I'm happy to report there are other types of chips that taste just as good. Actually Truly brand from Zellers is comparable to Lays and much cheaper. You can join the boycott and save money!

One last random thought. Where are all the folks who protested against animal testing? Surely this is a far greater travesty than that.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A New Level of Crazy

I wouldn't be a *gasp* climate change skeptic if these so called scientists didn't makes such ridiculous claims. These excerpts from an article in The Telegraph show a series of unsubstantiated alarmist claims. Here are some gems:

Warming ocean waters are causing the largest movement of marine species seen on
Earth in more than two million years, according to scientists.

In the Arctic, melting sea ice during recent summers has allowed a passage to open up from the Pacific ocean into the North Atlantic, allowing plankton, fish and even
whales to into the Atlantic Ocean from the Pacific.

The discovery has sparked fears delicate marine food webs could be unbalanced and lead to some species becoming extinct as competition for food between the native species and the invaders stretches resources.

Rising ocean temperatures are also allowing species normally found in warmer sub-tropical regions to into the northeast Atlantic.

A venomous warm-water species Pelagia noctiluca has forced the closure of beaches and is now becoming increasingly common in the waters around Britain.

. . . Plankton sampling in the north Atlantic over the past 70 years have also shown that other species of plankton, normally only found in the Pacific ocean, have now become common in Atlantic waters.

. . . The scientists, who have been collaborating on the Climate Change and European Marine Ecosystems Research project, found the plankton species, called Neodenticula seminae, traveled into the Atlantic through a passage through the Arctic sea ice around that has opened up a number of times in the last decade from the Pacific Ocean.

Larger species including a grey whale have also been found to have made the journey through the passage, which winds it’s way from the Pacific coast of Alaska through the islands of northern Canada and down past Greenland into the Atlantic Ocean, when it opened first in 1998, and then again in 2007 and 2010.

Professor Chris Reid, from the Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science at the Plymouth Marine Laboratory, said: “It seems for the first time in probably thousands of years a huge area of sea water opened up between Alaska and the west of Greenland, allowing a huge transfer of water and species between the two oceans.

. . . “The implications are huge. The last time there was an incursion of species from the Pacific into the Atlantic was around two to three million years ago."
My favourite part is it's the first time the Northwest Passage has been open in 'probably thousands of years' and therefore we will experience the largest transfer of water and species in 'two million years.' I though scientists were supposed to be good at math!

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Some Stats Should Never be Collected

Yesterday Statistics Canada reported that 'hate crimes' in Canada are surging increasing in 42% in 2009 compared to 2008 after a 35% increase the previous year. Worst of all the statistics suggest that the southwestern Ontario cities of Kitchener-Waterloo and Guelph are the country's most heinous offenders:

In 2009, four census metropolitan areas accounted for most of the increase in police-reported hate crime, led by Ottawa, where the number of incidents increased by 83, Toronto (+79), Kitchener–Cambridge–Waterloo (+62) and Montréal (+61).

Kitchener–Cambridge–Waterloo reported the highest rate of police-reported hate crimes at just under 18 incidents for every 100,000 population. This city's rate was followed closely by Guelph, Peterborough and Ottawa.

I can see the education campaigns now as the diversity police drive an hour west on the 401 to make sure we all know what terrible people we are. But wait there were 1,437 incidents reported, barely 0.005% nationally and these are reported incidents not convictions. Stats Can notes:
The number of hate crimes in a given area can be influenced by the public's willingness to report incidents to police as well as local police service practices and awareness campaigns.
That's an understatement. The concept of 'hate crime' is so completely subjective meaningful statistics are simply not possible. Look at Kitchener-Waterloo and Guelph, both cities have big university populations that are no doubt primed to take offense at real or imagined infractions.