Friday, April 28, 2006

A United Left in Canada?

Decima Research reports that 25% of Canadians support uniting the left through a merger of the Liberals and NDP. I can certainly understand the attractiveness of asking the question. The federal Conservative party brought together the old PC party and the Canadian Alliance, and within 2 elections became government. Support for the conservatives is growing and solidifying, with a recent poll showing 41% for the Conservatives, the highest ever showing for the new party.

Adding up support for the Liberals and NDP, would still place the new parties ahead of the Conservatives by a few percentage points, and would have drastically changed the results of the last election. There's no need to fear a united left anytime soon however, with a large majority of Canadians either disagreeing or strongly disagreeing with the idea.

Even if the public did support the idea, joining two parties together is a long process. Joining the PC party and the Reform party took several aborted attempts before the new party took shape. First, both parties tried to reach out to each other's members. Then came the Winds of Change Conference and the United Alternative Effort. Next there was the bold experiment called the Canadian Alliance, which almost accomplished the task. Ultimately, it took a war of attrition that continued until both parties recognized that electoral success was impossible without uniting. Even during the first election the party had a difficult time defining itself, only after the March 2005 policy conference did a coherent party finally emerge.

Uniting the Liberals and NDP would be even harder. By holding on to some of the Reform Party's democratic reform tradition, the conservative party has the potential to remain a 'big tent' party where both party members and Members of Parliament are free to express their views.

Moderate MPs were already feeling uncomfortable in the Liberal caucus during the last Parliament, MP Pat O'Brien had to resign because of his party's intolerance on the marriage issue. Both the Liberal Party and the NDP give the party leader the right to appoint candidates, further limiting the possibility for new ideas to emerge in the party.

The last election was also not the disaster that Kim Campbell's PCs faced in 1993, the Liberals merely had their wings clipped; in 93 the PC's goose was cooked. The Liberal's relatively minor set back will be unlikely to change their self image of being Canada's natural governing party, and for this reason they would be unlikely to accept anything short of an outright takeover of the NDP.

Further challenges would come from within the NDP, a party filled with varying left wing special interest groups from trade unions to gay and lesbians, and from environmentalists to anti-poverty, anti-war, anti-everything groups. It's a major feat just trying to keep this party united with itself, let alone trying to merge this with a larger party that's closer to the mainstream.

Finally, even if the Liberals and NDP were able to somehow pull of this 'marriage' it would need to be of the polygamous variety that both parties support. The green party in BC is already threatening to displace the NDP as the favoured left wing protest party. A union of only the Liberals and NDP would likely see as much of the NDP's support move to the green party as the new unified party.

So don't lose any sleep about a new united left, it's not going to happen anytime soon. The Conservatives could be looking at a decade in power before the other side begins to sort things out. This is an opportunity to reshape the politics of our country, let's be sure to take advantage of it.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Honouring the Fallen

I found this article on CTV helpful in understanding the recent media coverage of the government's decision to ban media from the repatriation ceremonies of fallen soldiers, and to end the process of lowering the flag on the Peace tower for every fallen soldier.

When I first heard the news on the radio, I was very disappointed in the government. On further reflection I heard news reports that Canadian Soldiers support the government's decision to keep this moment private. With that news I wonder now if the controversy isn't about the media itself and it's need to capitalize on the suffering of soldiers families.

The unfortunate reality of war is that soldiers sometimes die, if the country has made the decision to fight, we certainly cannot question the mission at the first sign of difficulty. David Rudd of the Canadian Institute of Strategic Studies came closest to summarizing my thoughts when he said:
"If you have a tragedy like this and the government reacts to it with a shrug - saying, 'well, there's going to be more of that to come' - that doesn't do much to solidify or maintain existing public support for the mission, but by the same token, you don't want to drift into a state of self-analysis or self-flagellation every time there's a casualty."
We clearly need to do a better job honouring our soldiers, but creating a media frenzy over every casualty is not the way to go. Perhaps the idea of wearing red on Fridays to support our troops will catch on, at least its a small way to support our troops. May God bless and protect them.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Alliance for Life Ontario Fundraising Dinner

On Friday night I attended the Alliance for Life Ontario fundraising dinner in support of their reaching minds through media campaign. The campaign includes buying television airtime to play commericials designed to get people thinking about abortion. Like most fundraising dinners, it was very well done with quality speakers and entertainment.

One of the speakers was Bobby Schindler, Terri Schiavo's brother. Although I wish that he would have spoken longer, but he did tell a touching story about Terri's life, how she had hit a cat while driving and was crying terribly when she came home. Bobby's personality stood in sharp contrast to Michael Schiavo's self centeredness that came through in a recent television interview.

Still, there was a recognition that despite the tragedy of Terri's court ordered dehydration, God had used Terri's story to bring an awareness of the end of life issues that our society tries so hard to avoid talking about. The Schindlers are continuing to use this tragedy as an opportunity to promote life through the foundation they set up in Terri's name.

A speaker talking about involuntary euthanasia at a fundraising event for an abortion education campaign may not be an obvious connection for everyone. However, prolifers know that when we devalue human life at any stage we devalue all human life, that's why we must defend the lives of the most vulnerable especially the unborn, the elderly, and the disabled.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Kudos and a Question for Stephen Harper

Kudos to Stephen Harper for standing up for his government's daycare plan. The conservatives are bargaining from a position of strength while the Liberals look for a new leader. He should use the opportunity to get some of the toughest changes through.

Kudos also to the new government for their promise to support agriculture. They clearly recognize that agriculture is still a very important industry to our economy and that farmers need assistance dealing with some of the many challenges they are facing. Chuck Strahl will need to be careful to direct the funding in a way that will not cause more trade issues, or distort production decisions.

Now a question, the Globe&Mail reports that the Prime Minister will pre select nominations for committee chairs. Although there are strong arguments for this and I'm sure he will select very talented members of parliament, I'm still concerned. Weren't the Conservatives elected on a platform to improve our democracy? Centralizing power in the Prime Minister's Office at the expense of members of parliament means less democracy not more.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Happy Anniversary Holy Father

Today marks the first anniversary of Pope Benedict's ordination as pope. He has provided firm leadership doctrinal leadership for the church by ensuring orthodoxy in seminaries; reached out to Orthodox Christians; and has made inroads into China.

The pope seems to have a special place in his heart for Europe, a continent that is deeply in need of spiritual revival.

He also impressed me by referring once again to our previous pope as, "the great pope John Paul."

Providing leadership and direction to the Catholic church and to a lesser extent all Christians, is a tremendous responsibility. I pray that he and the church will continue to be guided by the Holy Spirit.

FYI - See some more pictures of Pope Benedict here and here.

No Duty on Corn - Score One For Free Trade

Animal Agriculture groups welcomed news that there will be no duty on corn imported to Canada from the United States.

The news should be good for Canada - US relations that have seen too many trade challenges interfering with the marketplace.

A duty on corn imported corn would have hurt livestock farmers that have come through serious challenges, notably cattle producers that suffered 2 years of losses due to the border closures caused as a reaction to BSE (aka. mad cow disease).

In many agricultural commodities there is truly one North American market artificially driving up costs to Canadian livestock producers would have put them at a severe disadvantage.

Corn producers organizations that initiated the duty due have valid concerns, American grain farmers get rich subsidies, and commodity prices are low. With the duty issue decided, these groups should focus on trying to influence American Farm policy to reduce direct subsidies to specific crops and find ways that the Canadian government can offer long term support to agriculture without setting off other trade issues.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Taxpayers Asked to Fund Lawsuits Against Themselves

"Little Sisters," a Vancouver gay and lesbian bookstore that specializes in fighting the government is asking the Supreme Court to fund another legal challenge against the government. The BC Court of Appeals has already ruled that funding should not be granted. One of the many issues is that the bookstore is a for profit company, that stands to promote and enrich itself at taxpayer expense.

Stephen Harper has promised an end to the culture of entitlement, but the government continues to foster these types of cases through its court challenges program.

There are many not for profit organizations that could fund this court challenge, finding the funds would not be a problem if their supporters thought it was enough of a priority. If these groups do not believe its worth funding with their own money, than clearly it should not be a priority for taxpayers either.

The Conservative Government should scrap this program.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

It's Time to Welcome New Catholics

There's so much I want to write about this Easter. On Thursday we remembered Jesus' Last Supper with his disciples, On Friday Christ's suffering and death on the cross, On Saturday we reflected on the fear his first disciples must have felt. Finally on Saturday Evening and Sunday Morning we celebrate the wonder and significance of Christ's resurrection. Wow.

For Roman Catholics, the Saturday night Easter Vigil was very powerful. This ceremony can be extremely long, with many readings and prayers. But one of the most exciting parts of this is when the church welcomes new adult believers into its number. These new believers have been studying the faith for several months, will have received the sacrament of reconciliation, possibly the sacrament of baptism (if not already a baptized Christian), the sacrament of Confirmation, and finally the sacrament of the Eucharist.

Today truly was a life changing day for every one of the thousands of new Catholics. My hope is that God will continue to reveal himself to them in new ways, and reinvigorate his church with the excitement of their growing faith.

A Valiant Effort Toronto

Toronto was officially eliminated from the NHL playoffs tonight. Toronto went out fighting, tonight they beat Ottawa 5 - 1, but Tampa Bay eeked out a narrow victory with an overtime goal just seconds before the end of the period.

I haven't been following hockey for the past few years. I learned yesterday that Tampa Bay lost in overtime yesterday, but they lost in overtime, so they still earned 1 point. The last time I watched the NHL you earned 2 points for a win, and one point for a tie. Now it's 2 points for a win, and 1 point for a good effort.

Anyway, the playoffs will start soon, and I need to find a new team to cheer for. Any suggestions?

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Victory for Religious Freedom! . . . In Canada?

Lifesite News reports that a Court ruling that suggested the Bible was Hate Literature has been overturned. If this were April 1st I'd be very suspicious. Since it's just before Easter, I'll count this as providence.

See the full court ruling here.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Frightening Problem of Iran

In a serious, well thought out article, Mark Steyn (link) makes the case for immediate military action against Iran.

He makes a frighteningly descriptive account how Iran has been underestimated in the past and how it has been very effective at demonstrating its power abroad. Unfortunately his 5 observations about Iran seem ominous:

  1. contempt for the most basic international conventions;
  2. long-reach extraterritoriality;
  3. effective promotion of radical Pan-Islamism;
  4. a willingness to go the extra mile for Jew-killing (unlike, say, Osama);
  5. an all-but-total synchronization between rhetoric and action.

His case is also convincing that a weak response from Western Nations to Iran’s past aggression has served to embolden the country’s radical establishment. Mark’s prescription is swift and decisive military action to end Iran’s nuclear program so that “extraterritorial nuttiness [is] shown not to pay.”

The article is definitely pessimistic about the options for dealing with Iran. Unfortunately in the event of military action I can’t imagine the turmoil that America and the rest of the world would go through. I don’t see the resolve in America to fight that battle.

A better solution would be for the West to offer a superior ideology that by virtue of its inherent truth will overpower Islamism – This was key in winning the battle against communism. Sadly the moral relativism and the cacophony of divided interests currently offered by the West are unlikely to inspire the resilience to fight this battle.

Go Leafs Go!

Thanks to an awesome performance by Matts Sundin the Leafs still have a chance to make the playoffs! If I have it figured right (see stats), if Tampa loses two of its 3 remaining games and the Leafs win all 4 of their remaining games their in. If Tampa loses all 3 the Leafs only need to win 3 more games, provided Atlanta only wins 2 or less. Any other scenario and I have to choose a new band wagon to jump onto.

In the meantime, GO LEAFS GO!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Looks Like a Good Day for Democracy in Canada

Stephen Harper and John Baird announced the new Federal Accountability Act today. It looks like it has the potential to actually protect taxpayer dollars from the corruption we saw in the last government. Most of the criticism from the opposition sounds pretty weak, and reduce the influence of big spending lobbyists. This is clearly a good first issue to attack.

I trust that the Conservative government will also work to push forward on some of the more controversial issues like the choice in childcare proposals.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Featuring - Stockwell Day

Stockwell Day - Minister of Public Safety
Wikipedia Entry

+ Stockwell Day was Minister of Labour, Minister of Social Services, and Treasurer in Alberta's provincial government, where he oversaw the elimination of Alberta's provincial debt.

+ Stockwell Day became Leader of the Canadian Alliance and brought instant credibility to the new party after defeating the front runner, Reform Party Leader Preston Manning.

+ Stockwell Day had the courage to stand by his Christian faith despite widespread public mockery in one of the nastiest election campaigns in Canadian history.

+/- Poor organization and indecisiveness in his office meant that he could not keep a caucus revolt led by individuals loyal to Preston Manning from dividing the party. However, he reacted with remarkable grace in the subsequent leadership campaign.

+ As Foreign Affairs critic, Mr Day represented Canada well, holding the Liberal Government to account especially on issues such as fighting terrorism. Stockwell's excellent performance as Foreign Affairs critic re-earned him much of the respect that had been lost during his embattled leadership of the Canadian Alliance.

+ Stockwell Day is an eloquent defender of life, marriage, and the family.

+ As Minister he's generated optimism among correctional workers.

+ Today Stockwell Day announced that Canada has added the Tamil Tigers to its list of terrorist organizations.

Overall Score: +7 I'm a still Stockaholic. (Don't worry, I'm also support Stephen Harper.)

My advice to Stockwell Day: (1) Promote the protection of life and marriage within cabinet, whenever appropriate. (2) Bring forward gun laws that protect citizens, but respect the rights of responsible owners. (3) Promote tough sentencing for violent crime. (4) Keep up the good work.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Palm Sunday

I remember as I was growing up, how I always felt Palm Sunday was such a celebration. We were given palms and got to share in the joy of all the people as Jesus rode triumphantly into Jerusalem. The people laid down palm branches and cloaks in front of Jesus as a means to pay him homage and they shouted, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” Mark 11:1-11

But today is also called Passion Sunday, and in the same mass we remember that only a little while later those same crowds that jubilantly welcomed him were then crying “crucify him” at the urging of their leaders. Mark 15:1-15

There are a lot of ways to analyze this and many of us have heard our Priests or Pastor’s speak about this with far more experience and authority. However, I’m struck by how very fickle the people were then and how very fickle we are today. One minute we’ll be totally committed to a principle or idea, the next minute popular opinion turns and the commitment fades into memory.

Since it really is easy to get caught up in the currents of public opinion and popular trends, we have three choices: 1 Go with the flow and try not to stand out in order to avoid criticism. 2 Be aware so that we don’t get caught being swept away in the wrong direction. 3 Try to influence the direction of the current; sometimes a few small sand bags can hold back a flood.

As we begin Holy week and approach Easter, I hope that all Christians can live faithfully enough to redirect a culture that so often seems to be moving in the wrong direction.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Featuring - Vic Toews

Vic Toews (pronounce Taves), Minister of Justice.
Wikipedia entry

+ Vic Toews served the People of Manitoba as Minister of Labour and Minister of Justice in their provincial government in the late 1990s according to Jim McCrae, he has a brilliant legal mind.

+ In 2000, Vic Toews was elected to Parliament as a member of the Canadian Alliance, he has consistently earned a high percentage of the vote, earning more than 50% of the vote in every federal election he's contested and more than 65% of the vote in 2006.

+ He consistently promotes: A fair balance between the court and parliament, the defense of children by raising the age of consent, the protection of marriage, religious freedom, and rational gun laws.

+ Vic already struck a blow against judicial activism by joining Stephen Harper in announcing the nomination of Marshall Rothstein to the Supreme Court.

Overall Rating: +4 A very strong choice for cabinet.

My advice to Vic Toews: (1) Protect Marriage, work to build a coalition within Parliament to ensure that new legislation will have enough votes to pass quickly. Once the issue is voted on, I don't think Canadians will want to hear any more about it. (2) Keep up the good work by finding the right judges to appoint. (3) Just keep up the good work.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Awesome Blog - Happy Catholic

I was doing some reading and found a very encouraging site for Catholics. Happy Catholic was a great read. She also has a good Tribute to John Paul the Great. Enjoy!

A Free Vote on Marriage

Justice Minister Vic Toews reiterated the Conservative's plan to hold a free vote on Same Sex Marriage "sooner rather than later." This is the right thing to do as it will fulfill a campaign promise and finally allow Parliament to freely debate the issue for the first time. It will also be true to Conservative Party policy - delegates to the founding policy conference in Montreal voted 75% to protect traditional marriage in March 2005.

Same Sex Marriage was unilaterally forced on Canada by a court ruling in Ontario that was not appealed by the Liberal Government. Canada's Supreme Court ruled that the Parliament has the right to define marriage. And Same Sex marriage officially became law last spring when Paul Martin's Liberal government forced cabinet ministers to support the new law.

Last Wednesday's CTV story, quotes a poll from last January that said 66% of Canadians did not want another vote on marriage. The numbers may have changed since that poll was taken in the midst of an election campaign, where the Liberals were quick to label anyone supporting traditional marriage as intolerant. The poll numbers would also likely change if Canadians recognized that Parliament has not yet freely debated the issue.

If you believe that traditional marriage is worth defending, you may want to visit some of the following websites:,, Canada Family Action Coalition, REAL Women, Focus on the Family,

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Throne Speech

For those of you who haven't read it. The Govenor General delivered her speech from the throne on Tuesday. Prime Minister Harper's reaction to the speech puts it into context.

With this speech, it's clear that Stephen Harper recognizes that he's been given a mandate by the people of Canada and that he'll use it. This is simply remarkable for a minority government to provide such strong leadership.

I'll admit before the election I feared that a Conservative minority government would be unworkable because the party had no natural allies in government - I'm glad to be proven wrong. Very likely once the Liberal party rebuilds in two year's time, the government could fall. In the meantime, it looks like we are in store for strong leadership.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Pope John Paul the Great

As usual, I'm a day late and a dollar short. Yesterday was the anniversary of Pope John Paul the Great's death.

There's a passable article from MSNBC on the case for his cannoniztion here.

If you're curious, this is the process of inquiring into the cause of saint.

Also, here are few photo galleries that fittingly celebrate his life:, US Bishop's Conference,

Of his greatness there can be no question. As pope he had a profound impact on world affairs even though the church's influence was often perceived as waning. His most widely acknowledged political impact is that he was a prinicipal force in the downfall of communism in Eastern Europe. But under his guidance the Chruch continued to exercise its influence world wide, notably in Latin America and at the World Popluation Conference in Cairo in 1994.

Of course as the Holy Father, he was a tremendous spiritual leader as well. His firm defence of sound doctrine against forces that have tried to dismantle the church's teaching on morality and basic theological precepts was literally a light in the darkness. I believe that this is also the reason he has won the respect of many leading Evangelical Christians.

Although I can't claim to be an expert in theology, his Theology of the Body (more) is an excellent explanation of the Church's teaching on sexual morality.

I can't wait to learn more, I've just started reading his biograpy, Witness to Hope. (I'm on page 27, only 859 more to go.)

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Remembering Terri Schiavo

Michael Schiavo, Terri's husband who used the courts to order her death by dehydration, recently gave an interview on MSNBC promoting his new book, "Terri the Truth."

Just a few thoughts on the interview:
  • By his own admission the book focuses on settling old scores rather than honoring Terri's memory.
  • Michael claims to a dedicated husband who stood by her to the end. But three years after Terri's condition began he moved on to another woman.
  • Michael refused to allow Terri's brother into her room to say goodbye. His justification, "Bobby and I, you know, we hate each other."
  • Michael finishes the interview by saying, "She's up there praising me right now… and saying thank you." I'm gonna say that's a wee bit presumptuous.

I'm looking forward to hearing Terri's brother Bobby Schindler speak at a fundraiser for Alliance for Life Ontario's Reaching Minds Through Media Campaign on April 21, 2006.

It's easy to take sides, but I think it's more important to realize that this happens every day. The so-called right to die is rarely exercised by the person doing the dying. As this example shows us, the person making the decision will always have their own self interest and biases and will never really know the ill person's will. Families will fight bitterly over these decisions.

I understand that caregivers will no doubt be see the attraction in ending suffering and in moving on with their lives. However, we cannot be fooled into thinking that ending life prematurely is the right decision. Providing food and water and not administering drugs that will bring about death prematurely is essential if we are to truly value human life.