Sunday, October 29, 2006

Hat's Off

Hat's off to everyone who participated in the blogburst to make sure the Court Challenges Program (CCP) stays dead. I'm just sorry, I never had a chance to participate earlier.

In September, the Conservative government made the decision to cut it's funding along with other questionable programs in an effort to save Canadian taxpayers $1 Billion. Now lawyers that benefited from the program and big labour have teamed up to try to resurrect the program. Let's hope the program stays dead.

When the program was in effect, Canada probably had the most schizophrenic law making procedure of any developed democracy. Here's the system briefly:
  1. Bill presented to House of Commons for first reading.
  2. Bill debated and voted on by H of C.
  3. Bill sent to committee.
  4. Bill debated and voted on by committee.
  5. Bill presented to H of C for second reading.
  6. Bill sent to committee.
  7. Bill debated and voted on by committee.
  8. Bill presented to H of C for Third reading.
  9. Bill presented to Senate.
  10. Bill debated and voted on by Senate.
  11. Bill presented to Governor General or Queen for Royal Assent.
  12. Royal Assent Given.
  13. Heavy Criticism of new law by activist groups opposed to democracy.
  14. Anti-Democracy activists challenge law with high priced lawyers funded by taxpayers.
  15. Half hearted defence mounted by government with high priced lawyers funded by taxpayers.
  16. Activist judges overrules Parliament, strike down law, or rewrite law.
  17. Media chides politicians and Canadians for ever making the law in the first place.

With any luck, the death of the court challenges program will mean the end of the last few steps (13 - 17 in red) of our schizophrenic law making process.

Again, hat's off to all the courageous bloggers to raise the issue. BTW, if you live in Canada and haven't yet got involved, it's not too late to contact your MP and congratulate them on the decision.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Peter, Be Nice

So the controversy surrounding Puppygate continues even as Peter MacKay tries to put the accusations that he called Belinda Stronach a dog behind him.

All I can say is Peter, be nice and apologize. Not everyone has the same gifts as others. Besides, comparing Belinda to a dog is both childish and inaccurate . . . Dogs are loyal.

Finally, the next time your tempted to make fun of someone's physical attributes. You should be aware that some have suggested you have a bit of an eagle beek. I personally wouldn't make fun of you for that, but others might.

Don't Waste Your Time

If you're ever in Toronto, don't waste your time at the Ontario Science Centre. I always understood that the Centre's purpose was to engage the public and particularly young people to cultivate an interest in Science. Apparently not.

The Centre's website states its mission is to, "To delight, inform and challenge visitors through engaging and thought-provoking experiences in science and technology." The current management seems to interpret this as a mission to force feed flavour of the month, political ideological ideas down the throats of their visitors. I visited the Centre last Thursday, here are a few observations:

As soon as I entered the main exhibit area, (which is 5 floors down who know's what the other 4 floors are for?), there was a survey question which went something like this, "new studies indicate that tounge piercing can cause infections and increase exposure to AIDS, would you risk getting a tounge piercing?" You could vote as many times as you wanted. The results were then posted up in lights. No mention that this was as unscientific as a survey could get, or the obvious bias in the question.

Then I entered the communication technology section. The first exhibit I entered had a black and white checkered floor and a sign that said step only on the black tiles. At the end of the tiles there was a message board that said, "Did you step on only black tiles, if so why? What are other people doing? Nothing would have happened if you stepped on the white tiles. As a society we are trained to follow signs, without questioning why." Ok, you pompous twits, I followed the directions because I expected some sort of optical illusion or something engaging. There was an implicit promise that there would be something half-way interesting when I followed the directions. In stead, you break the promise and call me a putz, well stuff it.

Next, I entered the "What is Truth?" display. It was the newest looking exhibit. It was also a complete waste of time. Just a bunch of exercises in moral relativism, truth depends on perspective crap. In a 'SCIENCE' Centre, give me a break. It would have been honest to say things are not always as they appear, but instead the message is everyone has a different perspective an no one is more right than anyone else. Oh yeah, the Earth rotates around the sun. It doesn't matter what your perspective is. That's the truth. Don't pretend it's any different.

Next we moved into the "sports" section, this is where all the traditional science centre activities were. If you have to go, spend your time here. The only problem is most things are old or broken. We looked at an exhibit that was supposed to show how an organ worked, the only problem was the motor running the fan was louder than the sound coming out of the organ pipes.

Next we saw the section on the human body. We walked in and we saw a wall of contraceptives. Wait a minute, most of the Centre is targeted to 10 - 12 year olds, I guess the human body is just a sex machine. Right beside the contraceptives was a display of how the foetus develops with impressive pictures, but the word descriptions were pathetic, 'after X days the cells form into a fluid sac that attaches itself to the uterine wall.' No human life here. I don't expect pro-life apologetics, but some more neutral language would be nice.

There was the obligatory lung display to demonstrate smoking is bad and so is second hand smoke and the stool samples that say, North Americans don't know how to eat. To be fair, the human body section looked like it had some interesting stuff, but the Centre closed before we could see it all.

There may not be anything wrong with the individual exhibits, smoking is bad for you, we should eat better, and we should be aware of our biases, but overall the preachy tone of the Centre is too much. This, along with the antiquated displays make me feel that neither donors, tax payers or visitors are getting value for their money.

Save your time and money and do something else.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Good Riddance

Continuing the Spirit of Thanksgiving. I'm thankful that Garth Turner has been suspended from the Conservative caucus. The self righteous loud mouth claims to have his supporters in mind saying, "I work for the voters — the people, the taxpayers. After that, I heed my party and the political establishment. All are important, of course, but the people come first." That's not entirely accurate, Garth comes first and whatever will generate publicity and give him a bigger soap box.

I trust that this means the Conservative nomination will be open in his riding and that Halton voters will have a chance for a real conservative on the next ballot.

Hat's off to the Conservative Party today.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Handy Man

Last fall we had new windows installed in our house. Last night, more than a year later, the trim is up around the windows!

I rented a Nail gun after work and went to work for about 4.5 hours. It's amazing what even a desk jockey can do with the right tools. Right now I should be putting some trim up in the bathroom while I still have the gun.

I guess that means I have to go. A handy man's work is never done. (Psst . . . that last sentence is talking about me! Go figure.)

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Be Honest, Ms Magazine

Ms. Magazine has organized a petition for women who have had abortions and want to remove laws that restrict abortion. An MSN story headlines, "Ms. magazine names women who had abortions: more than 5,000 signed petition saying they are unashamed of decision."

All I can say is be honest. The magazines effort is a transparent attempt to influence laws in the United States. More than likely it's also a reaction to the very successful Silent No More campaign where women share their touching stories about why they regret their abortion.

The magazine is abusing women a second time by asking women who have had abortions to sign on to the statement: "I have had an abortion. I publicly join the millions of women in the United States who have had an abortion in demanding a repeal of laws that restrict women's reproductive freedom."

I'm sure there's something liberating for women to publicly confess that they had an abortion, rather than keeping it secret. But this petition misses the point, they should not use women as political ammunition, it would be more useful if they were creating a forum for those women to come to terms with what they had done.

Down Boy

Chuck Strahl has been all over the Canadian Wheat Board like a dog on a bone. During the last election, the Conservatives made an ill advised promise to get rid of the Wheat Board.

The Canadian Wheat Board is a democratic organization that represents all wheat producers and markets all wheat produced in the Western Provinces. These monopoly selling powers allow the board the ability to have leverage in setting prices rather than being simple price takers in a commodity market. A market report from an independent market research firm made this observation yesterday:

Wow! The world buyers and sellers of wheat are finally coming to the realization that supplies are running seriously low. This could mean the world agricultural markets are finally making the great transition from cheap to dear that the energy and metals markets did.

After previous reports saying the Aussie crop could sink to 10 million tonnes, new reports are now indicating Ukraine might suspend or limit its exports. With European supplies down and wheat prices rising fast there, buyers are wondering where to go for wheat. The U.S. does not have a lot. Canada does but a lot of wheat in the west is in the strong hands of a Central-Desk seller known as the Canadian Wheat Board!

The market power the wheat board holds was also recently recognized by provincial ministers of Agriculture:
“The removal of the single desk would result in a serious financial loss for western Canadian grain producers and would have far-reaching negative effects on
short-line railways, independent inland grain terminals, the Port of Churchill and trade with the U.S.,” Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives Minister Rosann Wowchuk said.
Like every monopoly, the Wheat board should be held accountable. The wheat board recognizes this saying:

As an organization, we are fully aware of the extensive debate surrounding the future of the CWB. We believe that it is critical that farmers have the benefit of a free and open debate. Any restrictions which stifle this debate will not do it justice.

Our position has always been that farmers, through the plebiscite called for under the CWB Act, must vote on any changes to the mandate of the organization. The CWB works on behalf of the farmers of Western Canada, and it is the farmers of Western Canada who should decide its future.

Instead of allowing a free debate among producers the Government placed a gag order on the wheat board and issued a press release that made Minister Strahl sound eerily undemocratic and borderline arrogant:
"The CWB reports to Parliament through me, and should not be attempting to
undermine this government’s policy objectives."
Whoa! I thought this government was about grassroots democracy, statements like this one undermine that message. Minister Strahl should let this one go and let Prairie farmers decide the best way to operate their wheat board. Down Boy.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Not Prime-Ministerial

Poor Iggy. He was the darling of the media and the heir apparent to the Liberal leadership. But even with all the attention and the big name support, he wasn't able to garner enough delegate support to put himself within striking distance of victory. Now he's clearly doomed, not because losing any key supporter matters, but because he's shown himself to be about as decisive as Paul Martin.

Until recently Ignatieff has been intellectually honest and supportive of the war against terror. By stating that Israel committed war crimes in its defensive conflict against Hezbollah, he's demonstrated that he's willing to be swayed from his morally defensible position. He cannot win now. He cannot recover from this. Those Liberals who are anti-war, anti-Israel, pro-terrorist etc, will never support him because of his past positions. Those Liberals who supported his principled stand have been betrayed and no apology can take away the fact that he was willing to abandon his principles to pander to voters who would not support him anyway.

This policy flip flop matters because his credentials as an authority on the struggle against terror were so strong. His flip flop leaves a dark stain on his character. He's finished before he even started. Poor Iggy.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Bye Bye Kofi

The UN Security Council has officially endorsed their nominee to replace Kofi Annan as the next UN Secretary General.

Ban Ki-Moon hails from South Korea and had the support of 14 out of 15 countries on the Security Council, only Japan withheld their opinion. CBC has some decent analysis on Mr Ki-Moon here.

But the best part is Kofi Annan is going to be history, and not a moment to soon. He has been totally irrelevant and counter productive during this summer's crisis in Lebanon. The level of corruption under his leadership has been disgusting, and I better stop before I get on a roll. I'm sure I'll get to do some UN bashing in another post. The main thing is that the UN will have a new leader, who appears to understand the need for reforming the UN and the need to fight terrorism. I wish him luck, unfortunately he's going to need more than that.

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Canadian Thanksgiving Holiday weekend is wrapping up. Mine was awesome with 2 huge Thanksgiving dinners and plenty of opportunity to get outside and enjoy the amazing fall weather.

I also took time to reflect on my many blessings, particularly at mass this morning. The Gospel was the story of the Good Samaritan and our priest's message was simple. When we realize that every good thing we have (our food, shelter, families, jobs, health and abilities) are all gifts we have no choice but to be very thankful. Then when we realize how generous God has been to us, we should react by being equally generous to those around us. Normally my prayer life is mostly about asking for things so the call to just be thankful is very welcome.

Thanksgiving is probably the greatest secular holiday that our country has to offer. Regardless of your particular denomination, almost regardless of your religion, Thanksgiving is call to recognize that so much of what we have is a totally undeserved gift. For this reason, I respectfully ask everyone to refrain from calling this holiday Turkey Day; it robs the day of all meaning, and it ignores the fact that ham is an equally important part of the meal.

I hope everyone here in Canada had a Happy Thanksgiving, and I hope everyone else feels welcome to join us.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Comedy, Iraqi Style

Great article here about the new Iraqi Comedy show, "Hurry Up, He's Dead." Some highlights:

After a summer of the worst violence since U.S. troops toppled Saddam Hussein's regime, tens of thousands of Iraqis are finding solace and amusement in a new television show whose dark satirical humor makes it an Iraqi version of Jon Stewart's "The Daily Show."


In the next day's episode, Saaed joyfully announces that the Americans are finally leaving Iraq. Referring to the U.S. secretary of defense, Saaed, sitting behind his news desk, says: "Rums bin Feld said the American forces are leaving on 1-1," referring to Jan. 1.

He's giddy, raising his arms in the air. Then he realizes he's made a mistake. The soldiers are leaving one by one, not on 1-1. He computes in his head what leaving one by one means and announces that the soldiers will be gone in 694 years. He starts to cry; Iraqis watching the show howl.

Political Satire; I wonder how long that would have lasted in Saddam Hussein's Iraq. This is good news for freedom, and the best part is the show might actually be funny.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Religious Freedom in Danger

Judging by the aggressive response of Liberals against an alleged bill to protect religious freedoms. Religious freedoms in Canada don't seem very safe. The comments on to the article show widespread disdain for the rights of religious Canadians to refuse to marry same sex couples.

The spite and disdain that many elitists apparently have for religious freedoms, underlines the need for this type of law. Even better, parliament should vote to have an honest debate on the merits of same sex marriage. That's really the only way to solve this issue.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Pope Benedict's Meeting with Muslims

I just read the speech Pope Benedict gave to Muslim Leaders at his summer residence on September 25. It deserves to be widely reported in the Arab and the Western Press. Here are some highlights:

I should like to reiterate today all the esteem and the profound respect that I have for Muslim believers, calling to mind the words of the Second Vatican Council which for the Catholic Church are the Magna Carta of Muslim-Christian dialogue: "The Church looks upon Muslims with respect. They worship the one God living and subsistent, merciful and almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, who has spoken to humanity and to whose decrees, even the hidden ones, they seek to submit themselves whole-heartedly, just as Abraham, to whom the Islamic faith readily relates itself, submitted to God."

Placing myself firmly within this perspective, I have had occasion, since the very beginning of my pontificate, to express my wish to continue establishing bridges of friendship with the adherents of all religions, showing particular appreciation for the growth of dialogue between Muslims and Christians.

As I underlined at Cologne last year, "Inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue between Christians and Muslims cannot be reduced to an optional extra. It is, in fact, a vital necessity, on which in large measure our future depends" (Meeting with Representatives of Some Muslim Communities, Cologne, 20 August 2005). In a world marked by relativism and too often excluding the transcendence and universality of reason, we are in great need of an authentic dialogue between religions and between cultures, capable of assisting us, in a spirit of fruitful co-operation, to overcome all the tensions together.


As Pope John Paul II said in his memorable speech to young people at Casablanca in Morocco, "Respect and dialogue require reciprocity in all spheres, especially in that which concerns basic freedoms, more particularly religious freedom. They favour peace and agreement between peoples"

Dear friends, I am profoundly convinced that in the current world situation it is imperative that Christians and Muslims engage with one another in order to address the numerous challenges that present themselves to humanity, especially those concerning the defence and promotion of the dignity of the human person and of the rights ensuing from that dignity. When threats mount up against people and against peace, by recognizing the central character of the human person and by working with perseverance to see that human life is always respected, Christians and Muslims manifest their obedience to the Creator, who wishes all people to live in the dignity that he has bestowed upon them.

Excellent. This was so much more clear than his controversial university address in Regensburg, which I tried to read but simply couldn't plow through. I saw three clear messages the September 25th address:
  1. The Church and the Pope respect the desire of Muslims to submit themselves to the will of the creator.
  2. Pope Benedict recognizes that the future of Catholics, Muslims, and the entire world depends on a sincere meaningful dialogue between Muslims and the church.
  3. The starting point for this dialogue is reciprocity, which would grant Christians living in Muslim dominated areas the same religious freedom that is given to Muslims in Western countries and other Christian areas.
I believe the Holy Spirit guided the Church in preparing this address. I also believe that this message, much more than the Regensburg address will be a defining moment in Benedict's ministry as Pope.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Virtual Life Chain: The Big Blue Wave Pro-Life BlogBurst

Today concerned citizens accross North America are participating in the Life Chain as a testament to the value of life at all stages.

Thanks to Suzanne at Big Blue Wave there's a blogburst in defence of the fetal rights.

I'm happy to be part of it. The miracle of creation is so extraoridinary it's breathtaking when I pause to reflect on it. It's equally breathtaking that God is so gracious that he allows us to be participants in his plan. But one thing I cannot grasp is how anyone being so intimately involved could ever think to abuse the process by aborting an unborn child or destroying an embryo to harvest its cells.

The threats against unborn children seem to grow each year. At the thin edge of the wedge, there are the heart-wrenching stories of young women who are so scared by the prospect of having a child that they feel abortion is their only option. Often these young women can be helped by simply knowing about the many caring people who are willing to help them through their pregnancy and help them raise the child, or even offer it up for adoption.

The unborn are facing even greater threats from chemical abortions through drugs such as RU-486, and from predators that wish to destroy young embryos to harvest their cells.

Now more than ever we must remember the humanity of these yet to be born children. Fetal rights are human rights and if we do not defend their rights, we will diminish our own.

PS - This is my 100th post on this blog. I'm thoroughly enjoying blogging even though I can't always find the time to do it.

PPS - If you are called to raise awareness about some of the tragedy of abortion, here's one worthy organization.