Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Marriages Last!

I cannot count the number of times I've heard people quote the inaccurate statistic "50% of marriages end in divorce." I heard it from family, friends, acquaintances, the media, even priests and pastors. I've always known that it was a completely bogus statistic. Truthfully one of the reasons I started this blog was I wanted to write about this topic, I've just been too lazy to do all the research. Now with this latest report from Statistics Canada (brief version), my homework has been done for me. Here are some of the studies key findings:
At the time the survey was done, over two-thirds of the 16.6 million people who had married at some point in their life were still with their first spouse. They had been married for an average of 23.5 years.

There you have it, hard evidence, marriages last. Not to mention other factors that point to long marriages:
People who attend religious services during the year, even if only several times, have between a 10% and 31% lower predicted risk of marital dissolution than those who do not attend at all. (This excludes attending services on special occasions like weddings, christenings and funerals.)

This is definitely not surprising, people who have an active faith, will naturally be better equipped at being faithful.
People who do not believe that marriage is important for them to be happy have a
predicted risk of both first and subsequent marriage failure 170% to 330% higher than people who feel it is very important, when all other variables are controlled for.

The inverse is also true, if you believe in marriage, you are more likely to stay married. This statistic underlines the importance of the Catholic concept discerning your vocation; decide if you are meant to be married, or single or have a religious vocation, then commit to it. Don't let anyone convince you that believing in marriage is naïveté. Speaking of being naïve, don't buy the lie that you should live together before you are married:
Living common-law is also strongly associated with a first marital breakdown. In fact, the risk is 50% higher among people who lived with their partner before the wedding than among those who did not. This finding is supported by recent Canadian research which clearly shows that marriages preceded by a common-law
union are distinctly less stable than those that began at the altar, possibly because the tradition of marriage is less important to people who have participated in non-traditional conjugal relationships.

Common law relationships have a tendency to just happen, and they don't have the same level of stability as a wedded relationship where both husband and wife say they are committed to each other from the start. If a relationship starts with this uncertainty, it makes sense that the uncertainty will continue into the marriage. The study didn't compare couples that had abstained from sex before they were married, but this will also be an excellent indicator of the couple's ability to commit to on another.

The study authors conclude:
In general the predicted likelihood that their marriage will succeed is higher for people who marry in their 30s, did not live common-law before the wedding,
have children, attend religious services, are university educated, and believe that marriage is important if they are to be happy.

What else can I say the data speaks for itself? Actually, I'll share two short memories.

Before I even met my wife, I declared that I would never get divorced to some extended family members. They were quick to rebuke me saying I couldn't know. The data suggests you can know if your marriage will last, if you and your spouse are faith-filled and believe strongly in your committment, the odds are strongly in your favour.

Also when I was getting married, the rash of people willing to share their horror stories and bogus statistics was staggering. It's easy to see how a newly wed couple could be discouraged. Again the data says don't be. Rather, be encouraged, making the right decisions will lead to a long and healthy marriage!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Today Toronto . . . Tomorrow the World

Here are a few excerpts from CTV's coverage of Toronto's "pride day" parade:

Hundreds of thousands of revellers lined up along the streets cheering on
Toronto's Pride Parade spectacle, one of North America's largest celebrations of
gay culture. The colourful show featured drag queens, participants covered
in body paint and scantily clad dancers gyrating atop flamboyant floats. About
30,000 people took part in the march, armed with banners, rainbow
flags, waterguns, whistles and horns while they waved to the throngs of
. . .
Bill Schiller, the parade's first-ever international grand marshal, led the procession followed by a banner that read, "We march for those who can't." . . . "It's very important for all of us . . . to be aware that half the world still bans homosexual relationships," he told the Canadian Press on Sunday.
. . .
NDP Leader Jack Layton dressed in bright colours and had a rainbow flag draped around his neck as he marched. He reminded gay rights supporters that while Canada is a tolerant nation, homosexuals are still oppressed around the world. "There's a lot of love here. Now what we've got to do is raise the issue internationally. There are still places in the world where you couldn't even think about having a parade like this because there's discrimination," Layton said.

An Interesting theme here, "we march for those who can't," "we have to raise this issue internationally." Apparently the perceived struggle has been won in Canada, now they must ensure other countries follow Canada's lead. Here's another example of the backward logic of those claiming to represent tolerance and diversity. Supposedly Pride Day is about celebrating diversity. However, since people in other countries hold diverse opinions on whether flaunting sundry sexual passions is a virtue in itself, Canadians must educate them.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Featuring - Rona Ambrose

Rona Ambrose, Minister of the Environment, Wikipedia Entry

+ Rona is hands down the best looking minister in Stephen Harper's cabinet.

+ Rona was an excellent defender of the Conservative's choice in childcare policies before and after the election campaign.

+ With a Masters in Political Science, she's a self described policy wonk with the requisite depth to be an excellent cabinet minister.

+/- Rona voted to protect marriage in the last parliament, but supports same sex civil unions.

- As a self described libertarian, she may need the help of her constituents to understand the importance of social conservative positions on marriage, life and the family.

+ As Environment Minister, she has been honest with Canadians admitting that Canada cannot meat its commitments under the Kyoto Treaty.

Overall Score: +3

My advice to Rona Ambrose: 1) Continue to be honest with Canadians, setting realistic targets to curb greenhouse gases and protect the environment. 2) Do not be held hostage by the wing nuts within your ministry, you're in charge. 3) Take renewed confidence in the support you received from Stephen Harper by turning the NDP motion for your resignation into a matter of confidence.

Related Rant: The NDP motion to ask for Rona Ambrose's resignation is a complete joke. Canada has failed to meet its Kyoto commitments for two reasons. The previous government made irresponsible commitments and the previous government failed to take appropriate measures to meet those commitments. It may be true that Ms Ambrose has been tough with bureaucrats seeking to promote panic on the environment, but this is another one of her strengths.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Sesame Street

If you grew up watching Sesame Street like I did, watch this short video. I just can't believe we found that entertaining. There must be better ways to learn how to count to twelve!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Institute For Canadian Values

I received an email just a little while ago about a new group called the Institute For Canadian Values. Led by Jewish conservative, Joseph Ben-Ami, the institute aims to promote open, honest and intelligent debate on the issues of the day. One of the key issues of the day in Canada is the treatment of traditional marriage and the attempt to entrench same-sex "marriage" into the laws of this country. The institute has wisely chosen to provide serveral resources for those wishing to inform themselves about the marriage issue.

Stephen Harper should be applauded for standing by his election promise, and committing to hold a vote on reopening the marriage debate this fall. He will no doubt face criticism from both supporters of traditional marriage and those committed to further undermining the institution. To marriage supporters, its easy to see the negative winning a vote to have a debate will not change the law, and real change could still be years away. The truth is that despite the story being in the news for many years, there hasn't been a truly reasonable debate on the issue. Courts have forced the issue in an undemocratic way, and likewise the previous government forced a vote with no legitimate debate.

Voting to reopen the issue, will allow parliamentarians and all Canadians to consider the benefits that traditional marriages offer to society and compare that to the perceived benefits offered by same sex unions. After a period of discussion including a thorough review of the many materials listed on the institute website, perhaps we can truly put the issue behind us by allowing parliament to make an informed decision.

Kudos to the Institute for Canadian Values, promoting reasoned debate on important social issues can only improve our democracy.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Give and You Will Receive

Last week there was fairly widespread coverage of Statistics Canada's Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating. The Survey found a number of key results among them:

  • Canadians who attend religious services every week are the most generous. This shouldn't be surprising generosity is a natural expression of Christian love.
  • 25% of donors donate 80% of the total dollars. Again, this is to be expected, people will give according to their means.
  • Those who attended religious services are also the most likely to volunteer. Another expression of Christian love.
  • Finally, 50% of Canadians gave less than $119 per year. This is what I want to write about.

If you live in Canada and donate less than $119 per year, I have to ask why? What on earth are you thinking? I understand not everyone has the means, but face it, if you're reading this you most likely either have a decent job, or can afford a computer with internet access. Therefore, financial hardship likely isn't your most valid reason.

Are you just selfish? It's OK. I understand I'm naturally selfish too. Maybe consider joining those Canadians that attend church regularly; hopefully you'll open your heart to the spirit of giving that naturally flows out of understanding how generous God is with us.

Is that too much to ask? Fine, you hyper rational types consider this. If your total donations are greater than $200, you will get a federal income tax deduction of 29% of any amount over $200. Essentially this is approaching self directed taxation. If you're a conservative and you believe that you know how to spend your money better than the government does, giving is a fine way to prove it. (If you're a liberal and you believe in the typical bleeding heart government programs, here's an opportunity to participate.)

Finally, I have to point out that regular giving is a great shock absorber. If you are consistently saving a little and giving a little, then when those unexpected expenses come up, you can hold off giving for a couple weeks until you can afford it again. If you spend all of your money on your lifestyle, you are leaving yourself open for unnecessary stress.

So give, it's good for you in more ways than one.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Beer Store Injustice

First some background, in the Province of Ontario the sale of all beer and alcohol is regulated by the Liquor Control Board (LCBO). All beer is sold through either the LCBO retail outlets or The Beer Store. If you want to have a party in a public area, (a community centre for example), you have to apply for a license. In the past this license would allow you to purchase liquor and beer in large quantities and then return whatever was not opened in a re-saleable condition.

But the rules have changed! Recently I helped with a wedding and when we tried to return the beer to The Beer Store, they refused to take nearly all of the beer that we had left over. The rules as I now understand them go something like this:

You can only return 20% of the beer that you purchase

24 pack cases cannot be returned

Only beer packaged in 12 packs with perforated tops and in sets of 2 can be returned

Apparently, The Beer Store’s problem is that people would open the 24 packs, drink the beer, fill the bottles with water, put the caps back on, reseal the case, and return the package for refund. OK, I understand this is a problem; the Beer Store should solve it. Instead of solving it, they have given the problem to me.

We now have 5 24 packs and 1 – 12 pack of unopened beer. I have several options:

A – Drink all the remaining beer myself. Since I start to get a buzz after 3 beers, I’ll be in a steady haze for the next 44 days. Maybe that’ll improve this blog.

B – Hold a big party to get folks to help drink it. But this would be unlicensed and therefore illegal.

C – Sell it to family or friends for a discount. This is illegal, only The Beer Store may sell beer.

D – Go to the High School parking lot on Friday and sell it for a profit. Also illegal.

Part of the mission of the LCBO and the Beer Store is to promote responsible drinking; I don’t think forcing people to take more beer than they need is a way to go about it. Why don’t they simply redesign the 24 pack case with a tamper proof seal and allow people to return unused beer?

To lodge a complaint, email:

Thursday, June 08, 2006

They Got Him

I'm sure you haven't missed the news that they got him! The Notorius terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and other aides have been killed by American forces. Al-Zarqawi is responsible for much of the death and destruction in Iraq. This is good news for Iraq and good news for the free world.

Just to be clear, I don't want to celebrate anyone's death. Simply that because this terrorist mastermind has been eliminated, many more lives will be saved.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Finally Some Action on Senate Reform

The Conservative Government has introduced measures to introduce term limits for Senators. This is a bold move for a sitting Prime Minister, previous Prime Ministers including Brian Mulroney, John Turner, Pierre Trudeau, and Jean Chrétien have used their powers to appoint senators, to "stack the senate" at the end of their term as a means of extending their influence beyond their elected terms. A Senate seat was also the ultimate patronage appointment. If appointed at age 45, a Senator could serve 30 years without ever being held accountable to the people they represent. Limiting terms to 8 years can only be good for this institution.

Likewise, electing Senators will add credibility to the once proud institution. If elections for Senate positions are held in conjunction with provincial elections, it will ensure that Senators are elected based on their merits rather than the national campaign. This type of Senate would be much more effective at looking at new laws with the "somber second thought" that it requires.

There has been more exiting stuff to write about recently, but this is a positive move for democracy in Canada and it must be commended.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Already Equivocating

Sorry you can't read the entire column by Globe and Mail Columnist Lawrence Martin.

Mr. Martin believes that now that CSIS, the RCMP and other police have arrested 17 men and young men on charges of plotting terrorist attacks, (Excellent job by the way), our civil liberties will be at risk.

Mr. Martin concludes in fine equivocating form by saying, "The cure (to terrorism) can become worse than the disease itself."

I beg to differ, on one side we have men that want to indiscriminately kill civilians in peaceful Canada, this is the disease. On the other side we have law enforcement officials that seek to ensure these plans are not carried out, this is the cure.

The 'disease' is clearly terrible as many Middle Eastern civilians know first hand not to mention the citizens of New York, Madrid, London, and Beslan. Stricter law enforcement and use of existing anti-terrorism is hardly comparable; it's simply dishonest to try to equate an insane bloodlust and a very measured law enforcement response.

Lawrence, if you are truly concerned about civil liberties in Canada you should feel some comfort. By eliminating the long gun registry, our new government has already demonstrated its commitment to civil liberties, so the danger of encroachment on our civil liberties is clearly limited. The threat of terrorism is real.

Clearly terrorists have been organizing in Canada despite our so called role as an "honest broker." An aggressive response to terrorists in Canada is the only effective treatment for this disease, and it must continue to be exercised.

Again, my sincere appreciation to our law enforcement officials.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Sorry, It won't Just Go Away

Ok, now I'm cheesed off. The red tories think they can muddy the waters and do away with the Conservative commitment to hold a vote on restoring traditional marriage.

This issue has been fraught with government betrayals. Stephen Harper don't disappoint us with another one. Standing up for the traditional definition of marriage was supported by the over 75% of conservative party delegates at the last party policy convention. Holding the vote was Stephen Harper's first promise in the last election.

The Liberal government betrayed Canadians when it passed a motion stating clearly in June 1999 that, "Parliament will take all necessary steps within the jurisdiction of the Parliament of Canada to preserve this {traditional} definition of marriage in Canada." But it was just a facade. Subsequently the Liberal government voted to redefine marriage in a vote where many Liberal cabinet ministers were forced to vote against their consciences. I believe that when Canadians voted for change, it included voting to allow an honest debate on this issue.

Now the Conservatives are shying away from this. The Globe and Mail article above states, "Perhaps one cabinet minister, speaking on condition of anonymity, summed it up best: “I wish it would just go away.”"

A cabinet minister was speaking on the condition of anonymity. Give me a break. You're in cabinet, not some obscure bureaucrat. Grow a backbone. You're in a position of leadership, if you're not willing to state your views clearly in public, you shouldn't be in public office at all let alone one of the key decision makers. Shame on you.

Regardless, the issue will not just go away. When new laws are forced on people in an undemocratic manner, people will continue to fight those laws - look at the pro-life movement. The only way to make any issue go away is to deal with it.

Maybe holding a vote right away isn't the best direction. To have an informed debate, parliament should begin a round of consultations with the public, and perhaps commission a study on the benefits of heterosexual marriage to society and the benefits of other legal contracts. The process may take a little bit longer, but at least it will allow for the debate that Stephen Harper promised Canadians.