Saturday, May 27, 2006

Stand Firm in Your Faith

Pope Benedict is in Europe encouraging Polish Christians to Stand Firm in Your Faith. During his visit to Poland he is also continuing to reach out to other Christian Churches, by saying that we can demonstrate Christian Unity through our combined acts of charity and through the example of the unity of married couples from different Christian denominations.

The pope's trip is another example of his emphasis on reinvigorating the faithful in Europe. Now it appears there are successes in some of the most unlikely places!

May God continue to bless his ministry.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Fetal Homicide Bill Proposed

This is worth applauding and defending. Conservative MP Leon Benoit has put forward a bill to make killing an unborn child a separate offence when pregnant women have been attacked. Mr Benoit rightly points out that pregnant women are at more risk of violence than most women.

Despite this fact, feminist groups oppose this legislation for fears that it could reopen the abortion debate. (Funny, I thought feminists were interested in helping women.) Maybe they should forgo their slipery slope argument and deal with the issue at hand; killing a pregnant woman and her child is a heinous crime that even "pro-choice" people must agree deserves to be punished severely. This is consistent with the Conservatives' tough on crime stance that Canadians chose in the last election.

There's not much more to say, I've already contacted my MP to encourage him to support this bill.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

I Felt Proud to Be Canadian

I wanted to write this post last Friday before the escalating nonsense with native protestors in Caledonia. I’m still going to write it because it was truly a remarkable feeling. For the first time in a long time I felt proud to be Canadian. I can’t say if I ever felt quite that way before. I’m not talking about patriotism in the rah-rah sense, like I had when I rushed to Montreal for a pro-Canada rally during the Quebec Referendum on Sovereignty in 1995. This was a mature feeling, a sense that Canada can once again become a force for good on the world stage.

It started on Friday morning when I read about John Howard’s address to Canada’s Parliament. The picture that accompanied the article in the Globe's print edition was impressive as an Australian Prime Minister addressed Canada’s Parliament for the first time since 1944. John Howard’s spirited defence of the war on terror was a welcome reminder that Canadian troops fighting in Afghanistan have a very high calling to defend our freedom and the freedom of Afghan citizens.

Later, on my drive home I heard how the Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan helped capture a key Taliban leader. I understand that this has not been confirmed, but on Friday afternoon it underscored a tangible success of our soldiers who have been putting their lives at risk every day for the past five years. Previous governments seem to have been ashamed that Canada even had a military, now their service is finally being acknowledged.

I’m sure that I’ll find reason to complain soon enough. But after years of pseudo patriotism and empty gestures like declaring “flag day” and sending out free Canadian flags while undermining Canadian traditions this is a good feeling and I’m going to hold on to it. To quote our Prime Minister, God Bless Canada!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Good News for Responsible Gun Owners

Did I mention that I think Stockwell Day is a great politician and all around good guy? Oh yeah, I did. Stock reinforced my opinion yesterday with is announcement that the Conservatives will scrap the Federal gun registry and grant an amnesty for all long gun owners that haven't yet registered their non-restricted firearms. He also handled himself very well in his interview with Mike Duffy.

Scrapping the innefficient, invasive long gun registry while maintaining effective gun control measures is good news for responsible gun owners. Gun owners still have to complete a training course and get a license to purchase and use firearms. The vast majority of long guns are owned by hunters and farmers. Hunters are responsible sportsmen, and many farmers need rifles to protect livestock from predators.

I'm struck by the Liberals' continued arrogance even in opposition. Liberal Justice critic Irwin Cotler can't resist the temptation to hyperbole saying, "it's an abuse of process, it's an abuse of Parliament, and it's an abuse of the democratic process." Somehow the Liberals can't figure out that Canadians rejected their government. The Liberals stayed in power as long as they did because they were highly successful at demonizing their opponents, not because Canadians liked their government knows best policies.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Too Early to Give Up on Europe

In a recent post I let slip that I have been very discouraged about the state of Christianity in Europe agreeing that it was fair to call it a post Christian Society. Today I read two stories that have actually given me some optimism.

The first story was about Cherie Blair, the wife of British Prime Minister Tony Blair and a known dissenter from the faith. In an interview with the National Catholic Register Mrs Blair seemed to be moderating her views and recognizing the authority of the Church on spiritual matters. Interesting.

Far more encouraging is this report on a book featuring the religious views of Nicolas Sarkozy, a leading candidate for the French presidency. Here's a quote from the would be President of France:
“There are persons in France who see in the République a permanent and tranquil
state, a necessary end toward which ideas and customs guide the modern societies
each day, and who sincerely desire to help men to become free. But when they attack religious beliefs, they are following their passions, not their interests. Despotism can do without faith, but freedom cannot. Religion is much more necessary for the République that they proclaim than for the monarchy that they attack, and it is more so for democratic republics than for any other.”

Religion is a necessity for democracy, I couldn't have said it better myself. These are also clearly deeply held beliefs, since this is certainly not a populist position that his advisors have suggested. More likely M. Sarkozy has been influenced by the violent unrest that he has seen as Minister of the Interior as these two observations suggest:
“Believing that the state can remain completely indifferent to the reality of religion is a position that is continually contradicted by the facts.”

and . . .
“It is more important to open places of worship in large urban areas than to inaugurate sports facilities, even though these are very useful. We must be concerned about making these the ideals that young people adopt. All of these
young people have no ideals, and this is a challenge for all the religions.”

Pope John Paul the Great's charisma and obvious love for the people are no doubt responsible for part of the softening in attitudes that gives Sarkozy the confidence to make his bold remarks. Pope Benedict's concerted effort to engage Europe must also be credited with some of the progress, Benedict should definitely continue his effort to save Europe from the aggressive secularism that has led it astray.

Back to France, Nicolas Sarkozy made a very concrete proposal that the governments should finance the building of churches. Although it flows sensibly from his line of thinking, it may not be an ideal solution. Government funds would likely mean more government interference in the operation of these churches, which could further suck the life and motivation out of both clergy and volunteers. If France doesn't have it, a tax deduction system similar to the Canadian system would reward private donations to churches. This would have the desired effect of increasing funds available for building and give the donors a true sense of ownership in their churches. But this is a technical argument, Sarkozy is opening a debate that is desperately needed in France and I wish him every success. Sarkozy for President!

Thanks to for the links to both articles.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

March For Life

I was surprised to see some coverage (also here)of Today's March for life in the main stream media. Of course, the effort was to link the issue to the Conservatives to try to make them look reactionary. Of course the article called those who attended the pro-life demonstration "anti-abortion protestors." Still there's media coverage none the less.

My psychic powers are telling me that the next issue of the interim (Campaign Life Coalition's newsletter) will decry the lack of coverage and bias in the media. This is fair, a demonstration of this size for any other reason would certainly generate more media coverage. But prolife organizations could also do a better job, I was surprised that there was no press release listed on the CLC website. Remember journalists don't want to work any harder than they have to, a decent press release issued as soon as the main speeches ended would allow journalists to use positive material without having to think too hard.

Still, this is a good news story. Thousands of people took time to travel to Ottawa and stand up for life, and politicians and the media actually took note. Congratulations to all involved!

If anyone knows where to find pictures from today's event, please feel free to leave a link in the comments folder. Thanks!

Monday, May 08, 2006

How Joseph Ratzinger Sees Islam - An Excellent Essay

Here's an excellent essay on how Pope Benedict sees Islam. The essay is written by Samir Khalil, an Egyptian Jesuit, and offers a wide ranging commentary. Some of the most interesting ideas in the article follow:
But the key point that he tackles is that of shari’a. He points out that:

“the Koran is a total religious law, which regulates the whole of political
and social life and insists that the whole order of life be Islamic. Shari’a
shapes society from beginning to end. In this sense, it can exploit such
freedoms as our constitutions give, but it cannot be its final goal to say: Yes,
now we too are a body with rights, now we are present [in society] just like the
Catholics and the Protestants. In such a situation, [Islam] would not achieve a
status consistent with its inner nature; it would be in alienation from itself”.

This alienation could be resolved only through the total Islamization of
society. When for example an Islamic finds himself in a Western society, he can
benefit from or exploit certain elements, but he can never identify himself with
the non-Muslim citizen, because he does not find himself in a Muslim


For Benedict XVI, dialogue must be based on the centrality of the person,
which overrides both cultural and ideological contrasts. And I think that,
getting under ideologies, religions can also be understood. This is one of the
pillars of the pope’s vision: it also explains why he united the Council for
Inter-Religious Dialogue and the Council for Culture, surprising everyone.


The essential idea is that dialogue with Islam and with other religions
cannot be essentially a theological or religious dialogue, except in the broad
terms of moral values; it must instead be a dialogue of cultures and


The pope has understood this important aspect: discussions on theology can
take place only among a few, but now is certainly not the time between Islam and
Christianity. Instead, it is a question of tackling the question of coexistence
in the concrete terms of politics, economy, history, culture, customs.


In this, I think that Benedict XVI has stated more exactly the vision of John Paul II. For the previous pope, dialogue with Islam needed to be open to collaboration on everything, even in prayer. Benedict is aiming at more essential points: theology is not what counts, at least not in this stage of history; what counts is the fact that Islam is the religion that is developing more and is becoming more and more a danger for the West and the world. The danger is not in Islam in general, but in a certain vision of Islam that does never openly renounces violence and generates terrorism, fanaticism.

The article speaks for itself and shows a dramatic strategy on the part of the Vatican in focusing on cultural dialogue rather than inter-religious dialogue, where there is precious little common ground.

One final quote from the article from Pope Benedict himself:

“It has been said that we must not speak of God in the European constitution,
because we must not offend Muslims and the faithful of other religions. The
opposite is true: what offends Muslims and the faithful of other religions is
not talking about God or our Christian roots, but rather the disdain for God and
the sacred, that separates us from other cultures and does not create the
opportunity for encounter, but expresses the arrogance of diminished, reduced
reason, which provokes fundamentalist reactions.”

This shows a profound understanding of the grievances of Muslims; it is not Christian culture but the excesses of our postmodern culture that create offense. World leaders should listen closely to the Pope's message.

Thanks to Relapsed Catholic and Dhimmi Watch for the link to the story.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

"Pay More, Get Less" Website Falls Short

The Ontario Progressive Conservative (PC) party has launched a new website criticizing the provincial Liberals' budget. Pay More Get has some interesting tidbits including Dalton's Top 50 Broken Promises and a reasonably professional look. On the whole, however, the content is borderline amateur with a list of the governments' short comings, but without any alternative ideas. The website only reinforces my opinion that the PC party strategy is to win the next election by default waiting on the sidelines hoping that the voters will punish Liberals for their visionless governing. If this is the case, there's no good reason to vote PC in the next provincial election, either the Liberals or the PCs will simply result more of the same.

The new website headlines:
The Federal Government Gets It – Why Can’t Dalton McGuinty?

I have to ask:

The Federal Conservatives Get It – Why Can’t John Tory?

The best way to win elections is by offering the voters a choice, something to vote for. Blanket criticism without an alternative vision will simply turn people off.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Report on Spirituality and Culture

My favourite columnist, Mark Steyn has written 2 articles recently about religion in modern culture. The first column is about the world, and he starts off by fittingly observing that when we fail to believe in God we’re liable to believe in anything. In North America it seems to be various types of trendy new age “spirituality.” In Europe, Mark observes that the trendy thing to do is to convert to Islam, which will no doubt have significant cultural and political ramifications. He then asks, “Where is Christianity?” and while he commends Pope Benedict, he notes that leadership from faith filled Protestants is sadly lacking.

Europe is often described as a post-Christian society, and in many ways that’s a fair statement. Christian leaders have a herculean task ahead of them to generate a revival in faith and cultural influence, of course, the second cannot happen without the first. I pray for Europe.

Mark’s second article is about Canada. Here he basically rips apart a Toronto Star article, (This isn’t usually very difficult, pick on someone your own size Mark), that compares Canadians’ Sunday morning visits to Tim Hortons, with Americans’ greater tendency to attend church. The Star article, Timbit Nation, really isn’t worth reading; it’s another one of those attempts at forced Canadiana that totally fails to inspire.

Fortunately, Tim Horton’s has not replaced attending Church, about 1/3 of Canadians attend religious services at least 1 once a month, there’s a decent chance that in the line up for coffee on Sunday Morning is someone going to or coming from church. This week Statistics Canada released a report on the state of religion in Canada. In addition to those Canadians who attend worship services regularly, 21% of Canadians practice religion on their own at least weekly:
Perhaps most striking is the many Canadians who infrequently or never attend
services yet regularly engage in personal religious practices. Of those who
infrequently attended religious services over the previous year, 37% engaged in
religious practices on their own on a weekly basis. And of those who had not
attended any religious services over the previous year, 27% engaged in weekly
religious practices on their own. Overall this group of adults who regularly
engage in private religious practices, but infrequently or never attend
religious services, represent, 21% of the adult population.

From a faith perspective this provides challenges and opportunities. There is a large group of people that churches must reach out to. In our church, we have volunteers to bring communion to those who can't attend. But we also need to reach out to those who are able to attend but choose to practice privately instead. These people are most at risk of falling away from their faith without the support and community that a living church offers.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Liberals Say Canadian Children Headed for Prison

I missed this too, an excellent example of the Liberal's contempt for Canadian parents and children. The video clip shows Liberal leadership candidate Carolyn Bennett saying that because the Conservatives are giving parents choice in childcare, we're going to need more prisons. Give me a break, parents are the best people to make decisions for their children, they do not need to be reared by the state.

Thanks to Choice in Childcare, where I first linked to the video.

The Conservatives Learn Spin

I forgot what inspired me to write about the budget yesterday. An accountant friend of mine was poking fun at the surprise announcement of a $1000 Employment tax credit. The new budget allows employees to deduct $1000 from their taxable income for work related expenses. The wrinkle is that tax credits come off at the lowest marginal tax rate (15.5% after July 1) This means that the headline number $1000 really translates into an actual reduction in taxes of $155.

So the Conservatives are learning how to spin things a little. Good for them, now that they're in government they have no right to whine about media coverage, the government must work to influence it.

Either way, regardless of the headlines, the Employment tax credit lets me keep more of my money. I repeat, tax cuts are a good thing.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Tax Cuts are a Good Thing

Yesterday the Conservative government delivered its first budget with a big emphasis on tax cuts and delivering on campaign promises. Some highlights include:
  • The promised 1% cut in the GST
  • The promised 1,200 per year Universal Childcare Benefit
  • Sort of Lower Income Taxes (ie Lower than legislated, but not lower than announced in the Liberal's fiscal update last fall)
  • $1000 per year Employment Tax Credit
  • More money for the military
  • More money (in the medium term) for farmers

This budget is good news for Canadians, it really is difficult to criticise it the attempts ring hollow. This Globe and Mail article was toned down from it's orginal headline that suggested Canadian Soldier's had received only a pittance. Infact, by 2010, military funding will increase to nearly $20 billion from the current $14.5 billion.

It is also a good budget for conservatives as this short article explains.

The Conservative government has done an excellent job with this budget. Now it's time to charge ahead with the legislative agenda.