Thursday, December 13, 2007

This Shouldn't Take Long

When I first heard that Prime Minister Brian Mulrooney would be called before a parliamentary ethics committee for allegations from Karlheinz Schreiber, I thought this would lead to a chain of events that would stretch on for months or years. It's already been a controversy for long enough, but given Mulrooney's testimony today, I just can't see it lasting.

Mulrooney submitted two contradictary affadavits from Mr. Schreiber to the Commons Committee:

"You don't have this one. Take a look at it, it's interesting," Mulroney said, holding up the two affidavits. "Which one is perjury? … They can't both be true."

Mulroney quoted from Schreiber's past court filings and media interviews throughout his testimony, using them to support his allegations that Schreiber had lied and to support his own statements.

MPs asked Mulroney how they were supposed to know which ones to believe.

"If you can figure that out, you're going to heaven," said Mulroney, drawing laughs from the packed room.

Mulrooney summed up Schreiber's claims against him simply:
"All of the allegations in the affidavit are completely false. He will say anything, sign anything and do anything to avoid extradition."
That's about it. Mr. Scrhreiber is a liar and a wanted criminal in Germany. He has zero credibility. It won't take long for the committee to conclude that there's better ways to spend their time.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Dump John Tory Now

Finally there’s looks like an organized effort to dump John Tory. Convention usually holds that when the leader of a major political party gets humiliated in a general election they have the good sense to resign gracefully.

John Tory hasn’t shown that good sense, which is just another example of his weak leadership. Many pundits point to Tory’s ill-fated promise to expand funding to religious schools. I think that’s simplistic.

John Tory lost because he had no credibility. His quick retreat during the campaign from the religious school funding promise was probably more of a problem than making the promise in the first place. Conservatives would never have been able to trust him to defend Conservative principles. For that matter Ontario voters couldn’t trust him to keep his promises, in part because he never made any. John Tory ran an exclusively negative campaign without ever defining what he would do differently. Ontario voters made the right choice to reject his leadership in the election, it’s time for Conservative party members to follow suit.

John Tory doesn’t deserve another chance. Ontario voters deserve a real choice when the next provincial election roles around in 4 years. I will renew my expired provincial PC membership and work to Dump John Tory now.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Downsizing Sucks

Friday my company dismissed 25% of our staff. It had to be done, the Canadian pork industry is in dire straits and cost cutting is just reality. Still there's no two ways a about it, downsizing sucks.

This is the first time downsizing has really hit me so close, and it's hard to describe everything that I'm feeling. The closest word has got to be grief. I've lost a lot of good friends who I didn't see this morning. In some cases, I might not see them again. It's going to take a little bit of time to come to terms with that loss.

I think of my friends who did lose their jobs. We were a close group and they've basically lost that entire social network. We'll still get together, but the relationship will have changed because we won't be experiencing the same struggles.

It's also easy to get angry and start second guessing the management. (When will people realize the world will be a better place when I run it? ;) But all that can be done now is to pick up the pieces and move on. In the meantime, downsizing sucks.

Bumper Sticker

I saw a great bumper sticker on the drive home:

If you don't stand behind our troops . . . You're welcome to stand in front of them.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Abortion and Breast Cancer

Earlier this month the Kitchener Record did a hit piece on KW Right to Life's recent billboard campaign that highlights the link between abortion and breast cancer. According to the Record article, the Breast Cancer Foundation's position is that there is no link between abortion and breast cancer. But according to
Since 1957, a total of 70 studies worldwide have been published with specific data on induced abortion and breast cancer. Of these, approximately 80% have provided evidence linking induced abortion to the later development of breast cancer.

I'm not a scientist, and I'm sure there are studies that find contrary conclusions. But I have to ask with such a wide body of evidence that suggests there may be a link. Why don't cancer associations develop a more nuanced position?

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Congratulations Ontario!

I've been on vacation in Africa for several weeks, so I only saw the results of Ontario's referendum on changing the system of government. The results were decisive. More than 63% of voters voted to keep the current system of government. In fact there were only 5 out of 107 ridings (districts) in the province that voted to change the system.

The bar was set quite high, so that it was unlikely that the system of government was going to change. However, I'll admit I was fearful that the result would be close and we'd have to listen to academics tell us what a foolish system of government we have until we were forced to accept a less democratic system. Happily, I was wrong, Ontario voted solidly for the current system of government and there's no need to discuss it further.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

No to Mixed Member Proportional Representation

Ontario's October 10 referendum is quickly approaching and Ontarians will have to choose whether to keep the current system of representative democracy or move to a new system of mixed member proportional (MMP) representation. As I wrote last January proportional representation is a threat to democracy because it will make some members of parliament accountable to party brass rather than to voters. Please read that post because my views haven't changed: Any system that uses a party list rather than directly electing representatives is less democratic.

That said a good friend of mine who is deeply divided on the issue wrote me recently asking a question that I'll paraphrase somewhat: Given the choice between a proven liar (McGuinty on the Health tax), a spineless red tory, or the quasi-communist NDP wouldn't it be better to vote for the new system and hope that some fringe parties will get a few members of parliament and gain an opportunity to raise their issues? The question specifically mentioned the pro-family Family Coalition Party.

I'll start by saying I may very well vote FCP; I'm thoroughly unimpressed with John Tory and the PC party simply does not deserve my vote. The FCP offers the only coherent pro life and pro family platform so I certainly wish them well.

I also see the attraction of having more voices in parliament. However, I think it's important to recognize that representative democracy is about REPRESENTATIVES! Naturally many of those representatives will have a common approach to issues and they will form voting blocks to advance their goals, political parties are just a formalized extension of this trend. Giving power to political parties rather than directly elected representatives will turn the concept of representative democracy on its head.

The proposed MMP system of government will have other secondary impacts too, such as more minority governments, and quite possibly the development of many more (likely urban and left wing) fringe parties. I view these impacts as mostly negative as well, but, regardless of how you might view these secondary impacts the damage that will be done to our system of government outweighs any potential benefit.

Ontario - Vote to keep the current electoral system!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Exposing a Harsh Chemical

This sounds familiar, but it's worth repeating:

A freshman at Eagle Rock Junior High won first prize at this year's Greater Idaho Falls Science Fair, April 26. He was attempting to show how conditioned we have become to the alarmists practicing junk science and spreading fear of everything in our environment. In his project he urged people to sign a petition demanding strict control or total elimination of the chemical "dihydrogen monoxide." And for plenty of good reasons, since it can:
  1. cause excessive sweating and vomiting
  2. it is a major component in acid rain
  3. it can cause severe burns in its gaseous state
  4. accidental inhalation can kill you
  5. it contributes to erosion
  6. it decreases effectiveness of automobile brakes
  7. it has been found in tumors of terminal cancer patients

He asked 50 people if they supported a ban of the chemical dihydrogen monoxide. Forty-three said yes, six were undecided, and only one knew that the chemical was...water.

The title of his prize winning project was, "How Gullible Are We?" The conclusion is obvious.

H/T Agrilaugh

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Globe is Right About Families

I was pleasantly surprised to read the headline editorial, "No Replacing Traditional Families," from the Globe and Mail today:

Not all families are equal for the raising of children. Not every form of diversity deserves celebration. Canada's 2006 census, released yesterday, shows that marriage is in decline, and common-law unions and single parenthood continue to grow. And that is not good for kids. Marriage is still the best framework in which to raise healthy, happy children.

To applaud diversity for diversity's sake is to evade responsibility for the effects of that diversity on children. Common-law unions are more likely to break down than marriages, and the children of single-parent families tend to face disadvantages. "Children growing up in single-parent families are more likely to repeat grades, and to be less healthe than children living in two-parent families," says a Canadian government report on the well-being of the country's children, citing the huge database known as the National Longitudinal Study of Children and Youth. "These children are also less likely to get along well with friends and parents than children living in two-parent families." Problems of hyperactivity, aggression or conduct disorders and other behaviour problems are also higher in single-parent families, the report says. These findings hold true regardless of the income of the single parents.

The editorial board is absolutely right! Could it be a sign of rational thought in the Main Stream Media? I hope so. It's about time that we stop making 'diversity' the primary definition of what it means to be Canadian. It's also time to stop the war against 'the traditional family.' Our society depends on healthy families to create healthly children and healthy citizens. It's time to start supporting them.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

He Who Controls the Present . . .

. . . Controls the Past. He who Controls the Past Controls the Future. (George Orwell 1984)

There was an intelligent debate happening at the Globe and Mail. It's a pity they closed comments so quickly. The issue surrounds a decision change the wording of a display at the Canadian War Museum that seemed to paint Canadians as War Criminals:
"The value and morality of the strategic bomber offensive against Germany remains bitterly contested: Bomber Command's aim was to crush civilian morale and force Germany to surrender by destroying its cities and industrial installations. Although Bomber Command and American attacks left 600,000 Germans dead and more than five million homeless, the raids resulted in only small reductions of German war production until late in the war."
Fortunately we still have primary sources that want to set the record straight. One of them is Art Smith, a former Bomber Command captain and former Conservative MP, who explained: "The words said that we were responsible for 600,000 dead. I took offence that we were just helter-skelter bombers. We always had justified targets."

Many Historians have taken offence that the museum has agreed to change the wording of the display. It's sometimes admirable to defend accounts of history from political lobby groups but in this case the display seems inaccurate. Historian David Bercuson seems to have summed it up best, "I don't see it as giving in. I see it as correcting something that was unfortunately and badly placed in the first place, and I don't see why anyone shouldn't be given leeway to correct errors."

I think the museum has made the right decision; Museums must respond to public input, especially when it comes from people with first hand knowledge. Far too often academics do not recognize their own (usually very left-wing) bias. The museum has not bowed to political pressure simply agreed to make their display more accurate. It's about time.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Winning Iraq

Check out the News from Iraq this week. On Sunday an under dog Iraqi soccer team won the Asia Cup beating Saudi Arabia in the final.

On Monday respected critics of the war from the left leaning Brookings Institute outlined the progress in Iraq this year and argued for a continued American presence in Iraq. It's an important article, if the last link didn't work try here. The article generated some excellent discussion at the National Review.

On Tuesday it was reported that July had the lowest casualty count in Iraq this year!

The good news keeps pouring in, although I read it all online. The radio news still carried the boilerplate a bomb exploded somewhere stories. This should be cause for Americans and all the Western World to be hopeful. Regardless of your opinion on the war success in Iraq is vital to our freedom and the struggle against terrorism.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Catholic Insight Magazine Endorses FCP

A popular Canadian Catholic magazine has endorsed the Family Coalition Party. The FCP has often been considered a fringe party that has had trouble fielding candidates, has never won a seat in the Ontario Legislature, and generally has a percentage of the popular vote that ranks well into the single digits.

In recent elections there's been little reason for anyone except the most passionate family values voters to cast their vote in their direction. Strategic voters may have voted for Mike Harris' Conservative party or for a strong local candidate from another party. The upcoming election is different, no other party holds the slightest promise of advancing family values or offering any protection at all for life or those that are most vulnerable. Father Alphonse de Valk explains:

. . . for the upcoming October 10 election, Catholic Insight sees no choice but to abandon the policy of supporting worthy candidates in all parties. Instead, we will support only the candidates of the small, centrist, pro-people Family Coalition Party. The situation is so bad that it would be inexcusable for us to do otherwise.

As readers know, and as we have explained before, the NDP and the Greens are constitutionally committed to a pro-death, anti-human philosophy. Therefore, they are disqualified from holding office.

The leaders of the Ontario Liberal and the Progressive Conservative parties have now also made it impossible for family-minded Canadians to vote for them.

Since 1967, the federal Liberal Party, from Pierre Trudeau (1968-1984) to Paul Martin (2004-2006), mocked human Reason, Tradition and Religion with anti-family policies sanctioning contraception, divorce, pornography and same-sex 'marriage,' matched only by their pro-death abortion and embryonic stem-cell legislation. More recently, its provincial counterpart, ruling in Ontario again under a renegade Catholic, has adopted the same stand.

The Ontario Conservatives, meanwhile, have been in opposition since 2003. They are still dominated by the so-called Red Tories, to the public acclaim of the Ontario media . . . In February 2005, Ontario’s McGuinty Liberals changed some 70 Ontario statutes in three readings, lasting a total of less than three hours, to conform them to the Ontario Court of Appeal command of June 2003 that from then on, the age-old federal definition of marriage would be unconstitutional. The Ontario PC’s co-operated by refusing to even call for a recorded vote.

Clearly the alternatives are grim with John Tory as perhaps the most disappointing leader of all. Next election it's time to support the FCP with votes, money and hard work. The party's not perfect and they've endorsed the dangerous proposals to move to proportional representation, however, it's run by a core of hard working, sensible and moderate volunteers. Now's the time to lend them our support!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Conrad Will Walk

According to Black's lawyers, the Conrad Black trial will end tomorrow. With the jury deadlocked, it seems increasingly likely that Conrad Black will be a free man. This would be a very good thing for the rule of law and the validity of contracts. It's been disgusting how the prosecution relied on a completely dishonest schmuck like David Radler or others who were bought with plea bargains or other side deals with the prosecution. It simply doesn't appear that prosecutors would have had any case whatsoever without their side deals with witnesses. Essentially if Conrad is found guilty traditional burden of proof justice will be replaced by Survivor justice where the defendant is simply voted off the island by ex company employees or directors whose sole motivation is protecting themselves.

Before you mistake this for an informed opinion you should know that I'm certainly not getting 'fair and balanced' coverage. I've been following Mark Steyn's coverage of the trial on Maclean's, but given Mr. Black's one time dominance of the world newspaper industry I doubt there's a single 'unbiased' reporter covering the case.

Thursday, July 05, 2007


Stephan Dion and Jack Layton are shameless in their attempt to capitalize on the death of six Canadian soldiers. I sincerely hope that they tone down their rhetoric and take the advice of the soldiers' officers:

Senior commanders at CFB Edmonton have called for quiet reflection on the recent deaths of six Canadian soldiers, rather than political debate on the mission. Four of the slain men were based in Edmonton.

"I would encourage all of you that at this point in time, that the focus must be on repatriating these valiant soldiers and ensuring their families hear a clarion call of love and support from Canada," said Col. Jon Vance.

"The families are well aware that there is debate on this mission. Nonetheless, at this particular point in time, the most sensitive and, I think, mature approach, would be to show them ... love and support. These soldiers died in a mission that they believed in, and saw progress occurring."

Brave men and women are fighting to keep Afghanistan free, and by extension to keep the world free. Shame on anyone who would use their death as an opportunity to score political points. Make your arguments - you're entitled to your opinion, but show some common decency.

I Feel All Warm and Fuzzy

There's no shortage of stories that highlight the heroism of our troops. But you just gotta love this one:

A Canadian warship freed a humpback whale that was entangled in fishing gear on the Grand Banks off Newfoundland on Wednesday. HMCS St. John's was on a routine fisheries patrol when it received a radio message from a nearby fishing boat that a whale was in distress.

The 10-metre animal was thrashing on the surface as it tried to free itself from ropes and a large orange buoy snagged in its tail.

. . .

"We were a little concerned about letting the boat get close, let alone letting divers get in."For more than an hour, sailors in one of the boats tried to free the whale by cutting some of the lines that were attached to the buoy and about 20 heavy crab pots below the surface.

The sailors had to keep a safe distance as the humpback dove to the bottom and then surfaced in a futile attempt to get loose of the lines. Santarpia eventually dispatched two navy divers without tanks into the water to try to save the animal before it drowned.

. . .

Once free, the whale swam away slowly as two other humpbacks stayed nearby and a few dolphins looked on.

I'm no environmentalist, but I think this story demonstrates a basic truth that it's in our nature to be good stewards of the environment. Thumbs up to the crew who participated in the mission. Now there's no excuse, even left wingers have to Support Our Troops!

But That's What They're For!

Quebec looks to ban cellphone use by motorists.


Thursday, June 28, 2007

Right Signals on the Day of Action

Julian Fantino is saying the right things in advance of the day of action:

If there is any lawlessness, police are prepared to take a "measured response," he added.

Fantino also responded to statements made by Mohawk protester Shawn Brant, a hard-liner who suggested to The Canadian Press that he and others will be carrying weapons to defend themselves.

"The only lawful authorized force that should carry firearms and use firearms is not Mr. Brant or his followers, it's the law enforcement officers," he said.

"Mr. Brant had better realize that because no matter what he thinks, at the end of the day, there will be consequences and they will be severe. And hopefully they will be those that will deter others like him from this kind of anarchy."

That's right. Natives can protest like anyone else, but this country has laws and they must be enforced.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A Faint Glimmer of Hope for the Anglican Church

Last Sunday's decision by Canadian Anglican Bishop's not to bless gay marriage has narrowly averted a crisis that would have led to the Canadian Church's expulsion from the Anglican Communion, a mass exodus of members and the closure of countless parishes. It is clearly a victory for reason and the church as a whole. It was also a surprise victory given the church's relentless march to irrelevance.

It's a rare moment for Anglicans faithful to scripture such as Anglican Essentials to claim any victory in the battles for theological purity. Instead they focused on the short comings of the synod with these two quotes from the Edmonton Sun:

Cheryl Chang, a spokeswoman for Anglican Essentials, a group lobbying against same sex blessings, said she believes confused and frustrated parishioners will start finding other churches immediately.

"People (will) leave to go to the Catholic Church, the Baptist church, the Pentecostal church. That's going to happen starting next Sunday, or next Monday even," Chang said.

"These are decisions that are very confusing for the church, and ultimately, very divisive."


"To do what they've done is to step apart from the worldwide Anglican communion," said The Rev. Canon Charlie Masters, the head of Anglican Essentials.

"This is a very sad day for Anglicans."

Come on guys. What would you have said if the Church had decided to bless same-sex unions? It very nearly did. Instead, you won the key vote. You worked hard for this victory claim it.

What Canon Masters and Mrs Chang are focusing on is a decision by the Synod that blessing same-sex unions “not in conflict with the core doctrine” of the church. OK, it's a set back, but it doesn't have any bearing on the actual practices of the church. Advocates for same sex blessings such as Bishop Michael Ingham will have a hard time continuing to go against the expressed wishes of the Synod.

My bigger concern is with the incoming Primate (head) of the Anglican Church in Canada:
“There is disappointment – a lot of pain. Some people will be saying ‘How long, O Lord, how long?’” said Bishop Fred Hiltz of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, who is the incoming primate or national archbishop. When asked how he might maintain discipline among clergy and bishops who want to move forward, he said, “My sense is that, as painful as these realities are, we do have a responsibility to respect the decisions of General Synod. It’s not the last time this will come up.”
Sir - there should be no more waiting, the Synod has spoken. This is the problem with the Anglican Church, the idea that doctrine and church teaching can change every few years and that liberals in the church believe they can use the same strategy as Quebec separatists, keep on voting until you get the result you want.

For those scriptural christians patient enough to stay in the Anglican Church I say fight the good fight. You still have a long uphill battle, but you won a victory on Sunday, enjoy it.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Support Lebanon

There was good news out of Lebanon today:

The Lebanese army has destroyed all Fatah Islam positions,” [Defence Minister Elias Murr] declared on the private Lebanese Broadcasting Television. “The army is combing the area. This terrorist organization has been uprooted.”

He said “the military operation is over. The Lebanese army has crushed those terrorists.” A few hours before he spoke, sporadic battles could be heard in the camp.

“What is happening now is some cleanup that the army's heroes are carrying out, and dismantling some mines,” he said.

Mr. Murr said the camp would remain “a theatre of operations and under siege until they (remaining fighters) surrender.”

As we learned last summer Islamic Terrorist groups pose a serious threat to the stability of Lebanon and the surrounding area. This six week battle has tested the government's resolve, but it has also made the country and indirectly the rest of the world safer.

I haven't read very much about aid to Lebanon, but I hope that it's flowing freely. Lebanon is a truly remarkable democracy in a crazy region. We need to put as much effort into supporting it as Iran and Syria put into destabilizing it.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Pope Benedict Greets President Bush

Pope Benedict welcomed President Bush to the Vatican on Saturday. By most accounts it seems that the Pope was very effective at bringing his concerns forward about the plight of Christians in Iraq. The president clearly recognized the problem as reported by the Age:

US President George W Bush today sought to reassure Pope Benedict XVI over the plight of war-torn Iraq's minority Christians, while later an otherwise peaceful protest against the US leader's visit turned violent.

The Pope "did express deep concern about the Christians inside Iraq", Bush told a news conference in Rome less than a week after a Chaldean priest and three deacons were murdered.

"I assured him we were working hard to make sure that people lived up to the constitution" calling for religious tolerance and honouring "people from different walks of life", Bush said.

The murders last Sunday in northern Iraq were followed three days later by the kidnapping of another priest and five of his parishioners belonging to the Chaldean Catholic church, an autonomous Eastern rite church with upwards of 700,000 followers.

Bush said of his first audience with the Pontiff who was chosen in April 2005: "I was talking to a very smart, loving man. I was in awe, and it was a moving experience for me."

Seeing the Pope and President together is a very powerful image. And I can't help but be more optimistic about the situation for Iraqi Christians. The meeting also makes it clear that the Pope is very effective at making his concerns known:

Bush was spared the more public rebuke he received three years ago when Pope John Paul II, after receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Bush, began a condemnation of the "deplorable" abuses of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison.

True to his personality and style of governance, Benedict did not use Bush's presence to make public remarks of substance, and instead chose to deliver his message in private. Bush emerged from the Vatican palace seemingly more subdued.

The only drawback of the meeting is the President's failure to observe protocol calling the Pope "sir" rather than "your Holiness." The White House may still have an opportunity to correct the misstep by referring to the Pope with his proper title on when they post a news brief.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Coren and Gifford-Jones Debate Life

There was a revealing debate in the Toronto Sun Thursday aboout the fate of cojoined twins Tatiana and Krista Hogan-Simms. Michael Coren and Dr Kathy Gifford-Jones both answer the question "Do they deserve to be born?" Gifford-Jones says No, arguing the pro-choice?/euthanasia?/eugenics?/death? position that they should never have been born using a basic quality of life argument:

Reports claim that Felicia Hogan-Simms [the mother] was advised by doctors that her pregnancy could be terminated, but she refused. I assume that she considers life of any kind sacred, and abortion never an option.

What a tragic life awaits the twins. For as long as they live they will be unable to care for themselves or lead a normal active life. It's hard to comprehend a parent who would want such a tragic pregnancy to continue. Nature in this case has created a catastrophe. Why compound the mistake by subjecting these twins to this fate?


Hogan-Simms also believes "the girls were born for a purpose to teach people about tolerance; that it's OK to be different." But the point is, how much different? Unless there's a cataclysmic change in human nature, she has destined her girls to be stared at as a freak of nature as long as they live.

They will never walk, joined at the head in such an abnormal position. Physically they are destined for ill health, lying on their backs forever. They will become obese and develop the myriad of diseases that accompany this problem. Their lives will be a living hell.


Is there anyone among us who would want to be born this way or willing to trade places with these conjoined twins? Hogan-Simms should not have been allowed to make the ultimate decision. I have in the past always cast a jaundiced eye on committee decisions, but I like to believe in this instance an ethics committee would have seen the logic of terminating this pregnancy.

In summary, Ms. Gifford doesn't believe their lives meet her standards ('their lives will be a living hell'), so they should have been done away with either inutero or shortly after they were born. But her article includes two serious warnings about what can happen when you use a quality of life yardstick.

She says their life is not worth living in part because, "They will become obese and develop the myriad of diseases that accompany this problem." I wonder if my life still qualifies as livable after the few extra pounds I put on over the winter! Quality of life is a very subjective yardstick that can be used to eliminate almost anyone deemed undesirable.

Gifford also said the mother should not have been allowed to make the decision about wether or not to abort her child. I'm going to hope that most 'pro-choice' people will disagree with her position advocating forced abortions. Still her position reveals a lot about the upcoming euthanasia debate, the right to die will quickly become an obligation to die for those deemed unworthy.

Coren argues that the children had a fundamental right to be born because human life is inherently valuable:

And this surely is the point. Objective quality. If we are subjective and make our own value judgments we might as well wipe out all sorts of people. Or we could simply grow up, develop our compassion and intelligence and realize that existence is a sufficient contribution in itself.

There is an absolute that we have to tackle. Life is either sacred or it is not. If it is, preserve it at all costs. If it is not, we might as well destroy it at will. It is terribly expensive to keep the sick alive and wholly impractical to prolong the life of an ill person who will die anyway.

No civilized person or society, however, considers expense and practicality to be more important than goodness and humanity. If it did, it would immediately wipe out, for example, drug addicts, the homeless and people with AIDS.

Tatiana and Krista will be loved and, important this, will love back. They will smile, laugh, cry, be sad and happy, sometimes frightened, sometimes excited. Just be. Which is quite enough. And God forgive anyone who awards themselves the right to decide who may be and who may not.

So that's the debate in a nutshell. One group of people believes life is valued based on society's subjective standards, the other group believes life is valuable because it is sacred and that every human life matters simply by virtue of its existence. Both sides will use the language of compassion, but only the pro-life arguments avoids the danger of letting society make an arbitrary choice about which lives have value and which don't.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Warning: Signs of Conservative Drift

Toronto Star Columnist Chantal Hebert says that Stephen Harper's Conservatives need new ideas. It's a short readable article and by and large she's right. With weak opposition leaders Stephen Harper has a potentially stable government but his last budget was a hodge podge of new spending initiatives without a really coherent theme. Chantal says:

At this point, the government is basically killing time, an exercise it cannot sustain for more than a few weeks, let alone the months or even years between now and an election.


Something more substantial is needed to both re-launch the government and give Harper something inspiring to campaign on in the next election.

Behind a business-as-usual facade, a search for new ideas is ongoing. It involves the top strategists of the government as well as the upper levels of the civil service. It will stretch into the summer and could result in the presentation of a throne speech in the fall.

The larger question is whether the Prime Minister should go the route of another set of unconnected but populist nuts-and-bolts initiatives or opt for a grander design.

The former may offer the least risky path to the government, but what if it leads to another dead end? Harper needs a more ambitious agenda for both defensive and
proactive reasons.

Yep. I can't say I often agree with Chantal, but government simply works best when there's an overarching coherent agenda that will make policies fit together. There's an enormous amount of pressure especially on a minority government to focus on uncontroversial policies to stay in power. Stephen Harper must resist this temptation or risk being a mere caretaker of a short lived government. I hope this summer a bold new strategy is developed.

My advice to those developing the strategy: Do not ignore your base, especially social conservatives and democratic conservatives, there's enough support for truly conservative principles to give the Conservatives a healthy majority. Also use your back benches, there's a lot of energy, passion and principle that can drive your agenda forward. An unambitious agenda will suck that energy away from your government and your supporters, myself included.

H/T Unambiguously Ambidextrous

Avoid Depression: Stay Married!

Statistics Canada has once again affirmed the importance of lasting marriages to our society. In its Study on Marital Breakdown and Subsquent Depression Stats Canada found:
  • Men aged 20 to 64 who had divorced or separated were 6 times more likely to report an episode of depression than were men who remained married.
  • Loss of custody or a change in parental responsibilities is one of the most stressful aspects of post-divorce life for men.
  • Women who had undergone a marital break-up were 3.5 times more likely to have had a bout of depression than were their counterparts who were still in a relationship.
  • 43% of women who went through a break-up had a substantial drop in their household income.
  • Even when taking other related factors into account, the end of a relationship was independently associated with the risk of depression among both sexes.
  • The study found that most people who experienced depression in the post-relationship period were no longer depressed four years after the break-up. But for a sizeable minority, depression remained a problem.
The study focussed on married couples, but it would make sense that the same negative factors would be in play with long term unmarried relationships. The only difference is that those unmarried relationships are considerably less stable so the risk of depression is that much greater.

The bottom line is long term stable marriages are good for everyone. If you're married stay that way. If you're a law maker stop messing with marriage it's way too important to our society.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Putting the Brakes on Human Trafficking

The federal Conservatives deserve credit for their efforts to stop human trafficking. Young women in poor countries are often kidnapped and brought into wealthy countries to work in the sex trade against their will. In other cases they are fooled into coming based on promises of a better life that turn out to be entirely empty. The former government of Canada sadly legitimized this process by issuing temporary work permits to strippers because of an apparent shortage in Canada. CTV reports that Canada's New Government will make it illegal for immigrants or refugees to work in the sex trade:

The federal government is set to bring in a new law that will ban immigrants who
come to Canada as exotic dancers.

The change to the Immigration and Refugee Act is expected to be announced Wednesday by Immigration Minister Diane Finley, who told the House of Commons that the move will protect "vulnerable foreign workers," such as strippers.

Under the current laws, the onus is on strip club owners to prove there is a shortage of Canadian dancers each time they apply to bring in a foreign exotic dancer.

The new law will take the restriction one step further, and is based on the government's concern that foreign dancers are in some cases forced into the illegal sex trade.

"This is actually going to make it illegal for them to be able to do that," said CTV's Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife, who first reported the news. "In other words, there's not even going to be an opportunity to persuade the government that you need those foreign workers...that's out."

Many strip clubs rely on dancers from Asia and Eastern Europe to fill their rosters, but Fife said the government believes the practice exploits women.

This is something concrete that will offer help for the most vulnerable. I hope that feminist groups are quick to praise this decision.

Friday, May 11, 2007

I'm an Uncle!

My baby sister had a baby! Charles Wayde Zelch was born around 10:00 last night. Just call me uncle Patrick!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Moderate Muslims?

I was very encouraged by Daniel Pipes article, A Million Moderate Muslims on the March. I'll admit to a deep suspition of "Moderate Muslims" many of those who are prominent in the television media strike me as athiests who used to be Muslim. But some of what Pipes says is just really encouraging:

Recent events in Pakistan and Turkey, however, prove that moderate Muslims are no myth.

In Pakistan, an estimated 100,000 people demonstrated on April 15 in Karachi, the country's largest city, to protest the plans of a powerful mosque in Islamabad, the Lal Masjid, to establish a parallel court system based on Islamic law, the Shari‘a. "No to extremism," roared the crowd. "We will strongly resist religious terrorism and religious extremism," exhorted Altaf Hussain, leader of the Mutahida Qaumi Movement, at the rally.

In Turkey, more than a million moderate Muslims in five marches protested the bid of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) to take over the presidency of the republic, giving it control over the two top government offices (the other being the prime ministry, currently filled by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan).

I assume that these crowds of people included devout Muslims who have a strong faith, but are also close enough to know the danger of radical Islam first hand. I definitely have some more reading to do, Daniel Pipes has written extensively about moderate Muslims.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Big Ego Politics

Stephen Harper must be smiling today. The opposition is in total disarray. Stephan Dion and Justin Trudeau have made headlines because they cannot agree on Official Bilingualism, an article of faith in the Liberal party. Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe is likely to leave federal politics after today's announcement that André Boisclair has resigned as leader of the provincial Parti Quebecois.

It's satisfying to watch the troubles that both Dion and Boisclair have faced. Both leaders were praised by the country's media elite as being intelligent and progressive. Both leaders have also been a huge disappointment to their respective parties. When the knives come out there are abundant examples of big ego politics where it's not about the ideas, just the personalities. Two quick examples:

Big Ego Politics in the PQ:

Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe has been rumoured to be interested in moving into provincial politics as a possible replacement for Boisclair.

In a television interview last weekend, Boisclair attacked Duceppe, saying he went
to bed dressed up as the PQ leader.

Duceppe responded Sunday, saying he was "flabbergasted" by the comments.

Big Ego Politics in the Liberal Party:

The Liberal leader put his high-profile candidate in line with the hint of a smile, saying it was a rookie mistake and Trudeau should have been more careful with his remarks.

"He's new," Dion told reporters. "He will, without a doubt, have to provide more clarification of his thoughts."

There has been a chill between Dion and Trudeau since Trudeau successfully challenged Dion's preferred candidate in the Montreal riding of Papineau.

I enjoy politics and it is great fun when the other side gets egg on their face. Still I far prefer the politics of ideas to big ego politics.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

National Post's Honest Discussion on Abortion

There's a very encouraging article about the abortion debate in this Saturday's National Post. It's a feature article in the mainstream media that directly debunks the myth that there is any consensus in favour of abortion on demand. This excerpt shows that in reality only a third of Canadians support having no legal restrictions to abortion:

"Abortion is not on the agenda in Canada for the mainstream in Canada and has
not been for a very long time," said Darrell Bricker, president and chief operating officer of public affairs for Ipsos-Reid. But he says this sense that the majority do not want to reopen the issue is often incorrectly taken to mean that there is consensus on the issue in Canada.

"Is there consensus? No, the opinions are all over the map. And you'd be wrong to see this as a consensus in favour of abortion under any circumstances."

His organization has not done any specific polling on abortion since 2000. The issue has been raised in other surveys, such as the one in February, 2006, shortly before Stephen Harper became Prime Minister, to assess what issues might bring down the minority government.

In that survey, 50% of Canadians said they would not support bringing down the government if they tried to pass a law that limits a woman's access to abortion; but 45% said they would be in favour of bringing down the government on such an issue.

The polling done in 1988 and 2000 compares attitudes about when abortion should be permitted: only when a woman's life is in danger, only in certain circumstances, or whenever a woman wants one. It showed slight increases in support for abortion on demand (from 36% in 1988 to 41% in 2000) and for abortion in certain circumstances (39% to 41%) and a slight decrease in the percentage who support abortion only in the most extreme, life-saving circumstances (23% in 1988 and 17% in 2000.)

When Environics surveyed Canadians about their attitudes toward abortion last fall, they found that about a third each of Canadians supported the view on one end of the spectrum that human life should be legally protected from conception on and, on the other end, that it should be protected only from birth on. Another third think it should be protected prior to birth, but some months after conception.

According to the survey, conducted for the anti-abortion group LifeSite, 31% said protection should begin from conception on, 23% said after three months of pregnancy, and 10% said after six months of pregnancy; another 30% think human life should receive legal protection only from the point of birth.

What is most compelling about all of these numbers, and most surprising considering the way the abortion issue is typically framed in Canada, is that they are not at all conclusive. As Mr. Bricker says, "it's not like 100% are in favour of abortion on demand ? There are a lot of lines being drawn on this issue."

Hat's off to the National Post for having the courage to feature an honest discussion of what Canadians actually believe on a subject that's usually considered taboo in Canada!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

French Election Coming Soon

I'm encouraged by the coverage of the French election that I've been reading lately. I'm starting to believe that Nicolas Sarkozy may actually win the election coming up on Sunday. Sarkozy has real potential to help the French begin to fix their economy, to integrate muslims while remaining tough on terrorists, to repair relations with the United States, and maybe just maybe soften the militant secularism that has tried to push the Church to the edges of society. Exciting times!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Bye Bye Belinda

So Belinda Stronach is finally quitting Canadian Politics. Almost all Canadians are better off today. The unfortunate exceptions being political satirists, who have lost some easy material, and the staff and shareholders at Magna where she's going to work.

NEWS FLASH FROM BLOOMBERG: "Shares of the Magna fell 2 cents to $78.45 at 4:01 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading."

Apparently it's starting already.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Easter Weekend 2007

I love Easter. There's always a danger it can get routine, but, it's also an opportunity to be inspired by the incredible suffering Christ endured for us and the mind-blowing power of His resurrection. This Easter has been a major blessing.

Holy Thursday:

I haven't always participated in Holy Thursday, but this has been my loss. Here we celebrate the Last Supper, when Jesus gave us the Eucharist saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me." (Luke 22:19) It's also when Jesus gave one of His greatest examples of servant leadership by washing His disciples' feet.

This year my priest asked me to have my feet washed at the front of the Church along with 5 other men and women. I usually don't mind getting up in front of large groups of people, but I was absolutely terrified. I wanted to skip Mass altogether to avoid any potential embarrassment. Of course, I went and it was a moving experience, allowing a man I deeply respect to humble himself in this way. I was also very pleasantly surprised, that they used warm water to wash our feet, I wonder if the apostles had this luxury.

Of course Thursday was also the night when Jesus was betrayed by Judas, and when he prayed so hard that he sweat blood in the Garden of Gethsemane. Holy Thursday sets the stage perfectly for Good Friday.

Good Friday

Today we remember how Jesus died. We remember the torture he endured, the abandonment and betrayal of so many who had followed him. We remember the cruel, merciless death on the cross, and the sharp pain that must have been felt by those who loved him.

Church liturgy is rich today; we are called to fast and make it a solemn day. In the last few years, we've also made a habit of watching The Passion of the Christ. It's a bloody and gruesome retelling of the story that really makes his sacrifice real.

It's a holiday in Canada (at least here in Ontario), and I'm very thankful because it allows us to observe this day properly. I pray that Americans will also get this day off because it is so important.

Holy Saturday

Easter Vigil, which begins at sundown, is when Catholics begin to celebrate the resurrection. The church is totally dark with a small fire or candle lit at the back, representing the light and life that Jesus has brought into the world. Everyone is given a candle and soon the glow has spread through the entire church. It's a long service, where we remember how often God has saved his people throughout history from Creation to Christ.

It's also the day when new people are brought into the Catholic Church through baptism or the Rite of Christian Initiation. I wonder how many thousands of new Catholics were brought into the church today.

Today's a bit of an anniversary for me; it was Easter Vigil 5 years ago when I was received into the Catholic Church!

Easter Sunday

Always Awesome. The new day and the (usually spring like weather), highlight how truly amazing it is that Jesus rose again after dying. After spending most of the weekend reflecting on Christ's suffering and death, and imagining how his disciples must have been totally crushed. It's a wonderful feeling to imagine the joy and bewilderment they must have felt when they first realized what has happened.

Our Easter joy increased a little when we noticed how much snow was on the ground. We were able to go tobogganing for a couple hours after church. Great fun!

The best part is . . . Easter is not just a weekend. Liturgically it's a season that stretches on for several weeks. More than that, it's the reason Christians celebrate anything at all. Truly it's not too late to wish you a very HAPPY EASTER!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

These Kids Have it Together

Kudos to the Youth Team of Our Lady at St. Joseph's in Fergus!

About one dozen teenagers organized and all night Adoration (prayer vigil) last Friday to usher in Holy Week. We've been helping this youth group over the past 4 years, and it's been an honour. This isn't your run of the mill youth group where a bunch of church kids get together to chill, eat pizza, or go bowling. These young people meet to pray, study, and support each other in discerning their vocations. One of the recent Alumni is already in the seminary and will no doubt become an excellent priest.

It's always a pleasure to meet with the group and hear how mature and wise these young people can be, but, this Friday night and Saturday morning was truly special. I'm very thankful that God has blessed my family and our parish with such special kids. If you feel called, please join me in praying for them, and specifically that God will call them deeper into His service.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Quebec's Election was the Best Possible Result

For those who followed didn't follow last Monday's election in Quebec, the results were quite historic. Wikipedia summarized it as follows:
The Liberals were reduced to a minority government, Quebec's first in 129 years,
since the 1878 general election. The Action démocratique du Québec, in a major
breakthrough, became the official opposition. The Parti Québécois was relegated
to third-party status for the first time since the 1973 election. The Liberals
won their lowest share of the popular vote since Confederation, and the PQ won
their lowest share since 1973 and their second lowest ever. Each of the three
major parties won nearly one-third of the popular vote, easily the closest
three-way split in Quebec electoral history. Voter turnout among those eligible
was 71.28%, a marginal difference from the previous general election in 2003.
Premier Jean Charest acknowledged the result appropriately saying: that Quebeckers delivered a "severe judgment" of his party. More than likely he will form a minority government with the ADQ.

This is perhaps the best possible outcome for that election. Quebec elites have been given a clear message that the standard choice between nominally federalist socialists and nominally separatist socialists is no longer acceptable to Quebeckers. They want real choice and responsible and responsive government. The ADQ promises to deliver this, unfortunately the party is far too small and its elected members far too inexperienced to actually govern. Had the ADQ won outright, it's highly unlikely they ever could have governed.

The next two years should give the ADQ representatives time to learn the ropes, while still being able to influence Charest's government. Whenever the next election comes along, Quebecers should truly have real choice.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Budget 2007

Today's Budget appears truly innovative. Here are my Thoughts:

+ The biggest ticket item was a system of transfer payments to provinces, that will allow them to deliver programs that are within their areas of responsibility. It makes logical sense that the level of government closest to the people delivers government programs wherever practical. Hopefully, this will also allow for provincial tax cuts.

+/- There was definitely less tax relief than I was hoping for although the $2,000 tax credit ($310 in actual tax savings) for each child will offer families some support.

+/- I hope that the increased funding announced for Health Care and the Environment are attached to well thought out plans to ensure we get value for our money. While both are important, they can both be a blackhole if not managed properly. I hope that this isn't merely throwing money at a problem because it's an election year.

+ $60 million to support our troops is very welcome. This money looks like is targeted to helping soldiers directly. (Incidentally at the Conservative Rally in Toronto on Saturday, there was sustained applause every time Stephen mentioned supporting our troops.)

+/- More money for Agriculture, again I hope that this money is delivered effectively. It's badly needed, but this government could definitely be more cooperative with farm groups and provincial governments on this front.

++ The Working Income Tax Benefit looks like the boldest move in the budget. I cannot say enough good about this program. It will help people come off welfare by providing a tax incentive to get started working. Welfare traps people by offering benefits as long as people do not work, and taking away those benefits as soon as they start working. This benefit looks like it's designed to help people out of the trap without cutting benefits to those in need!

- One small disappointment, according to this Globe and Mail article, this budget will continue to fund Status of Women Canada. That's too bad. As Suzanne at Big Blue Wave notes, it's time to abolish the SOW.

Overall, the budget gets a positive rating from this blog; especially because of the innovative Working Income Tax Benefit.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Women's Hockey

I started watching a hockey game while I was at the gym. (Yes, I go to the gym about three times per week, and for those of you who don't know me, I'm quite buff. For those who do, feel free not to comment on this post.)

So, as I was watching the hockey game, I noticed there were a lot of players with pony tails. I though to myself come on guys, hockey hair went out in the 80's and in reality it was never really in. Anyway, I continued watching since the TV was right in front of my treadmill and the game was better than the Leaf's game last Thursday. When the next break came, I found out it was a Women's Hockey game, part of the 2007 Canada Games. They were really quite good, and it's easy to see how our girls brought home the Gold medal in the last Olympics. You go girls.

The Theology of Sex

I am absolutely amazed at an apparent lack of understanding of Christian Theology that has been on display since Anglican Bishop Michael Ingham declared:

The Christian church has a deeply flawed understanding of sex that has led to morally groundless objections to masturbation, birth control, abortion and homosexuality, says a leading Canadian Anglican bishop.

In particular, the church has been wrong for centuries on the notion that sex exists only for the purpose of procreation, Right Rev. Michael Ingham, bishop of the greater Vancouver Diocese of New Westminster, told a conference in Ottawa last night.

"Christianity as a religion stands in need of a better theology of sexuality,"
he said, "a better understanding of the complex role sexuality plays in our
human nature and of the purposes of God in creating us as sexual beings."

Does it? The Christian Church has a very coherent teaching on sex, and this teaching was recently enhanced by Pope John Paul the Great's Theology of the Body.

In reality the Church Teaching is really not that difficult. Here's how I understand it:
  • God created man and woman to be physically complimentary.
  • God gave us sex as the means to procreate and therefore it is good.
  • Sex is an essential part of marriage that serves to draw husband and wife closer together and can allow the couple to participate in God's plan of creation.
  • Marriage is a symbol of God's love for his people, where the two become one flesh.
  • Sex outside of marriage is always sinful, and God explicitly forbids homosexual sex.
  • Chastity is a high virtue that every single person is called to.
  • When we remove the procreative aspect from sex, we diminish the gift that was given to us by God.

Unfortunately Bishop Ingham and his followers reject this outright assuming that traditional church teaching is a list of prohibitions. Like all of God's law, we are given this direction not to diminish our pleasure but to protect us from the hurt and emptiness that are inevitably caused by sin. God also recognizes that we will inevitably fail to meet his standard of perfection, but He is quick to forgive us every time we confess our sins.

If Bishop Ingham began to propose a new Christian Theology of Sex, he would have a very difficult time improving on the Church's current teaching, which, derives directly from God's word in the Bible. Ingham's vision of a new permissive sexual theology that called all sex moral could simply not be called Christian in any sense.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Lorna Dueck at the Globe and Mail

Christian journalist Lorna Dueck will be taking questions on the Globe and Mail website about the recent comments by Anglican Bishop Michael Ingham, who suggested Christians need a new 'theology of sex'. I submitted the following comment:
Lorna, are you familiar with Pope John Paul the Great's Theology of the body and
an earlier papal encyclical Humanae Vitae? Do you think it's possible that this Anglican Bishop can actually be ignorant of some of the significant Theological work that has been done? Finally in your experience do you believe greater communication between protestant and catholic theologians would create a greater understanding of this topic?

My comment and concern is that Mr. Ingham is wholly dismissive of both scripture and Christian tradition, and that from that perspective it is absolutely impossible to develop any theology that could properly be called Christian.

It's scary to watch my old church fall apart. As I wrote earlier, I left my old church for a reason. Anyway most of the rather weak Anglican brain trust was quick to jump on the Ingham bandwagon. (See: Some Anglicans welcome debate on theology of sex) I was encouraged by one Anglican theologian who still has his head screwed on right:

Dr. Gary Badcock, theology professor at Huron University College, said the
bishop's argument rests on “slender foundations.”

“The fact of the matter is that Judaism, prior to Christianity, universally rejected homosexuality. It would be very, very strange for a first-century Jew like Paul to make a case like Ingham is trying to claim,” Dr. Badcock said.

As for the argument that procreation is not truly basic to human sexuality, Dr. Badcock said the procreative aspect can't be ignored.

“Theologically and biologically, one would still need to privilege the procreative aspect of human sexuality since if that were to cease for 40 years, the human race would be extinct. It exists for some purpose,” he said.

That's the thing about truth; it will always be true no matter how hard some people try to deny it.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

More Encouraging News From Iraq

The White House released an excellent Fact Sheet on Iraq yesterday. According to the White House recent gains include:

+ The Iraqi government has completed the deployment of three additional Iraqi Army brigades to the capital. These additional forces join the nine National Police and seven Iraqi Army brigades already in the Greater Baghdad area.
+ Iraq's leaders have lifted restrictions on Iraqi and Coalition forces that prevented them from going into certain areas, and U.S. and Iraqi troops are now pursuing the enemy in neighborhoods like Sadr City, where our operations were once restricted.
+ About half of the joint security stations have been established in neighborhoods across Baghdad.
+ Iraqi and U.S. forces have rounded up more than 700 people affiliated with Shia extremists and have recovered large weapons caches, including mortar weapons systems and rocket-propelled grenades.
+ Iraqi and U.S. forces have launched successful operations against Sunni extremists, recently killing al Qaida terrorists in Baghdad, who were responsible for numerous bomb attacks.
+ In the past two weeks, U.S. and Iraqi forces have uncovered large stockpiles of Explosively Formed Projectiles (EFPs), which are used by extremist groups to attack our troops.

Iraqis Are Beginning To Deliver On Benchmarks To Achieve Political Reconciliation.
+ Iraq's Council of Ministers approved a national hydrocarbon law that provides for an equitable distribution of oil revenues throughout the country. The draft law will need to be enacted by the Iraqi Council of Representatives when it returns from recess, but the prospects for passage are excellent because all the major parliamentary blocs are represented in the cabinet.
+ Last month, the Iraqi government approved a $41 billion budget that includes $10 billion dollars for reconstruction and capital investment.
+ Iraq's leaders must meet the other pledges they have made. These include:
1) Narrowing the limitations of the de-Baathification law; 2) Establishing the framework and setting a date for provincial elections; and 3) Pursuing the constitutional review process.

In addition to the President's message. Brian Williams from NBC has noted that Americans are in total control of Hit and Ramadi, two cities that were former hot spots for insurgents. Williams also quoted several military officers making statements like, "The people here are very glad to see us — very hesitant for us to go. They want us to stay and to keep beating down the insurgents."

Just today CBN News reports:
The locals appear to be noting the changes as well. Since US and Iraqi troops made their joint push into Baghdad, streets are getting busier. Stores that were closed down are re-opening and murders are down. There has even been little resistance in Sadr City.
For the sake of Iraqis and the whole world, I hope the good news from Iraq continues.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Environmental Group Think Stifles Scientist

It's a shame the Guelph Mercury didn't keep the article posted longer, but there was an interesting piece on Ross McKitrick in this Saturday's paper. Ross is a university of Guelph professor who has been the victim of personal attacks due to his view that human activity is unlikely to contribute to climate change; a view he outlines in his book, Taken by Storm: The Troubled Science, Policy and Politics of Global Warming .

According to the article Mr. McKitrick's statistical research was instrumental in debunking a popular "hockey stick" graph that suggested global temperatures had been constant from 1000 AD to 1900 and then rose dramatically in the last century. His statistical work demonstrated that the data in the graph was flawed.

Unfortunately despite his valuable and rational contributions to discussions about climate change, he has no more plans to do any research into the area. His decision seems to be based on fatigue with the personal attacks he has faced for holding views that are contrary to the mainstream. One label he has acquired is climate change denier, which brings an image of someone who is denying the facts. In his own words this is "a ridiculous term because it suggests there are camps of people who would dispute what climate data says. Most of what I write about is taking that common perception and then showing it's at odds with the data."

It's unfortunate that he has chosen to step back from the discussion. Good science requires that hypothesis are constantly tested especially when there is no clear result. Now that Environmentalist evangelists like Al Gore and David Suzuki have claimed that any debate about climate change is over, we need knowledgeable, eloquent, and intellectually honest scientists to offer their contributions. It seems less likely, as the Mercury article closes:

[Ross McKitrick] knows there are others who have similar views but don't speak out. He said he has come across these individuals, who want to remain anonymous
since the climate change debate has become so "bitterly politicized."

"What it means is that there are all these voices that we should be hearing from
those who won't speak out because they don't want to be on the receiving end of
all this abuse."

Let's hope they do step forward for the sake of academic freedom and so that our politicians will make rational decisions on the environment.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Movie Review: Evelyn

This weekend we were able to watch the movie Evelyn (trailer). It's a heart warming story about an Irish father's battle to regain custody of his children after his wife has left him and the government takes his children away. Desmond Doyle, played by Pierce Brosnan, is a hard working father who is abandoned by his wife, his vicious mother in law then notifies the Children's Aid (or equivalent) that confiscates his children and they are taken away to be raised in Church run schools. The movie then focuses on his legal battles to win back his children, a battle that takes him all the way to the Irish supreme court.

I loved the movie it was totally moving and every character played their part perfectly, especially the young actress who played Evelyn. My biggest surprise was that even though the children were staying at church-run facilities, the movie didn't bash the church at all. In fact, with the exception of one sister, every religious character was portrayed in a fair or positive light. This is a wonderfully uplifting movie, and I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Lent is Cool

So we're off. It's Ash Wednesday and the journey that Catholics and many other Christians observe in preparation for Easter has begun. Traditionally this is a time of self denial and charitable giving. In other more archaic words its mortification and almsgiving. If you let it, Lent might seem like a downer with little appeal in today's culture; but it doesn’t have to be.

Incidentally, I've had a blast at work the last few days as a few of my co-workers discussed what we would give up for lent; I'm giving up potato chips and number puzzles like sudoku, some of my colleagues are giving up chocolates. We're very supportive but not everyone is helpful, one of the ladies who gave up chocolates brought in several bags of potato chips for the sole purpose of making my promise more difficult to keep. (It's unimaginable how some people can be so cruel . . . I'm glad I took the preemptive strike of filling a big jar with chocolate Easter eggs, or I wouldn't have been able to bear it.)

Despite the pressure, we've all been able to keep our Lenten promises for the first day. The neat thing is how many non-religious people at work are joining in the fast, giving up various foods or luxuries. Some are just looking for another reason to diet, but I think the truth is Lent is a refreshing opportunity to just say no to yourself in a culture that tells us we need everything we want right now. It's a great break from being a slave to every little desire, no wonder Lent is catching on.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Conservatives Reject So-Con Candidate

This is not good news for democracy. The Conservative Party recently rejected a well qualified, but socially conservative, candidate on a technicality that looks bogus. The facts so far suggest that Heather Stilwell's candiacy is being blocked because of her socially conservative views. This is very disturbing for a party that has traditionally claimed to be in favour of grassroots democracy (letting people choose who will represent them).

I don't know what Heather Stilwell believes, I never heard of her before today, but I will say that democracy itself is threatened when any individual is prevented from participating in the democratic process because they have strong opinions. Politicians are supposed to have strong opinions.

You'll find more coverage here:

Magic Statistics
Smok Wawelski
Joanne's Journey
Langley Politics
So-Con or Bust

In the meantime, please express your concerns directly to Stephen Harper's office:

Telephone: (613) 992-4211
Fax: (613) 941-6900

Friday, February 09, 2007

The Environmentalists had it All Wrong

Remember Acid Rain? According to this farm newsletter, corn farmers need to use more sulphur in their fertilizer because of reduced levels of sulphur in rain water:

The importance of sulphur (S) for corn production is well known and the rates required for optimum production have been studied.

Sulphur, a plant nutrient, is required by crops in an amount usually less than the macro-nutrients Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium (Potash) but at larger amounts than others. A corn crop could require 25 lbs/acre or more for optimum yield.

Over the years we believed crops in Southern Ontario received adequate sulfur from air pollution, in the form of “acid rain”. With society’s efforts to improve air
quality, the amount of sulphur in rainfall is diminishing. Some studies have shown a 32% reduction between 1980 and 2003, with more improvements on the way.

Most fertilizer materials used today do not contain any sulphur. As crop yields improve additional sulphur, along with other nutrients, are required to sustain yields. Sulphur plays an important role in the formation and decomposition of soil organic matter. A proper balance of nitrogen and sulfur is important for crop development.

Sulphur is as important as nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium in plant metabolic functions, is an important component in plant proteins, and in the formation of chlorophyll. Plants lacking sulphur will become yellow and chlorotic. When soil phosphorous levels are high and sulphur is low, magnesium uptake is reduced even if magnesium levels are abundant.

Sulphur, usually in the sulphate form, has a negative charge and as a result is subject to leaching. Sulphur should be part of any fertilizer program, especially on sandy and low organic matter soils.

Funny no? Just one thought for the eco-doom crowd; Before we decide to cripple our economies for new initiatives, don't forget everything we do has both intended and unitended consequences.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

CSIS Better Have a File on This Guy

Amir Attaran, has triggered an investigation into how Canadian soldiers have treated Afghan detainees. The Globe and Mail reported:

At least one, and perhaps three, Afghan detainees "taken captive by the Canadian Forces appears to have been beaten while detained and interrogated by them," alleges Amir Attaran, a University of Ottawa law professor, in a letter sent to the commission.

The allegations are based on documents obtained by Mr. Attaran under the Access to Information Act outlining injuries in the cases.

Presumably Mr Attaran was on a fishing expedition requesting all available records from our military. Through all of this he found one detainee who was a suspected bomb maker and continually resisted Canadian Forces ended up with some cuts and bruises, likely of his own making. The Canadian Forces stated:
When transferred to Military Police stationed at Kandahar Airfield, the detainee continued to display extreme agitation as well as belligerent and totally unco-operative behaviour. Already restrained by nylon straps to his wrists while being guided by Military Police, the detainee used his legs to leverage himself off the back of a vehicle in an effort to generate resistance against the Military Police escorting him. In accordance with proper use of force procedures, Military Police used appropriate physical control techniques to restrain him from doing that.
It appears this is an open and shut case; the military have acted responsibly. The big question is what kind of Canadian would have an interest in systematically looking for evidence to discredit our forces? I think it's the responsibility of CSIS to find out. The second question is why is our major media so anxious to discredit our forces by painting responsible behaviour as scandalous?

Saturday, February 03, 2007

So Con Blogs

I've added another blog roll to my side bar. SoCon Blogs is a group of social conservative bloggers and Ontario Bloggers who support the socially conservative Family Coalition Party. The Family Coalition Party is a fringe party that has never elected a member of provincial parliament, but the party is a principled party that will raise issues that the major parties refuse to touch. Especially with John Tory leading the Ontario PC party, there's very little difference between the two parties on most major issues, and there is absolutely no debate on important social issues such as freedom of conscience for health care workers, or any measure that would respect the sanctity of life. The need for a party that will represent social conservatives in Ontario is as great as ever.

I want to thank Suzanne at Big Blue Wave and every one else who organized this new web effort. SoCon Blogs will be one of my regular reads.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Rick Mercer: A Letter Worthy of Churchill

Rick Mercer is a funny man; He can make me laugh even when I disagree. But his letter in the NFLD Independent isn't funny, just powerful. In his letter he recounts the powerful story of Paul Franklin, a Canadian medic who lost both legs in Afghanistan and has already learned to walk again. But here's the kicker:

May I suggest to you that in many instances in history peace has been achieved exactly that way [through military offensives].

The gates of Auschwitz were not opened with peace talks. Holland was not liberated by peacekeepers and fascism was not defeated with a deft pen. Time and time again men and women in uniform have laid down their lives in just causes and in an effort to free others from oppression.

Rick has paid a very fitting tribute to our forces, and for that, I salute him.

(Special thanks to "la" for sending me the story.)

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Time for Tony to Go

Tony Blair has clearly overstayed his welcome. Now in the dying throes of his government he has announced he will force Catholic adoption agencies to assign children to homosexual couples. This is a mistake. The Church had earlier issued a letter to the PM explaining the need to allow Catholic agencies to comply with Church teaching.

Forcing Catholic agencies is a major issue in Britain, the libertarian Economist Magazine has already come out saying that so called equality rights should trump religious freedom. However, those who believe in liberty must understand that freedom of religion is the most fundamental human right; as it is eroded other freedoms quickly follow.

I don't believe this is over. For my part I'll be following the story at Catholic Convert, an excellent blog by a British Catholic.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Attack Ads Ranked

Although people claim to hate attack ads, the truth is they just dislike bad ones. If they are done properly they can be quite effective. Here's my take on the Conservative's new ads attacking Stephane Dion:

  1. Back to Power: Absolutely Terrible. All it has is Stephane saying "we need to go back to power." Of course he does, so what? Second the headlines are old, the Conservatives will need to campaign on their record not the former governments.
  2. Clean Up the Environment: Passable. The topic is fair, the Liberals had an abysmal record on the environment. This ad would be much better as a compare and contrast style. Again the Conservatives will be judged on their record and they had better define themselves.
  3. Not a Leader: Good. This is definitely the best of the three ads, I hope they play it heavily. It's fun. I showed it around the office and it makes Dion look helpless: "This is unfair! This is unfair! Do you think it's easy to make priorities?" I love it. It's so much fun.

Overall, I don't think the ads are good enough to justify the bad press the conservatives have already received, but now that they're out there, I hope the party plays the best two heavily and leaves the other on the shelf.

Marking a Morbid Anniversary

During the frigid temperatures last night, I joined 50 - 100 others in a candle light vigil at Grand River Hospital in Kitchener.

How COLD was it? -13C or 9F i.e. COLD! It was so COLD my digital camera refused to power up long enough to take the pictures I wanted to post here.

We braved the cold to mark the anniversary of Canada's Supreme Court Decision to strike down Canada's law on abortion on January 28, 1988. For almost 20 years there has been absolutely no law to protect the unborn at any stage of development; in this country an unborn child can be legally terminated during all nine months of pregnancy, right up until the child is delivered.

Last night's candle light vigil was a chance to offer prayers for the 2.7 million Canadian children who have not been born since 1970. It was also a chance to pray for their parents, for those who assisted in the procedure, and for politicians to take action. I also took time to be thankful for the wise man or woman who invented long underwear!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Attack Ads . . . Now?

I'm confused why the Conservatives have reportedly launched some negative ads. There's a decent discussion going on at the Blogging Tories.

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find them at, so I'll keep my comments to a minimum. Right now, I hope the strategy works. The Conservatives have give Dion some time to define himself, he hasn't, so it's their chance to define him. That said, the Environment seems to be a very important issue, where the Conservatives have little credibility. I think Conservative fortunes could be better served by demonstrating their ability to protect the environment and maintain access to valuable energy.

The ideal ad would be a compare and contrast style to demonstrate a Conservative commitment to the environment, and if it throws in some pot-shots at the new Liberal Leader, even better. I'm looking forward to seeing the new ads.

UPDATE: See the Ads here.

Friday, January 26, 2007

$200 Million for Bad TV?

I thought the Conservative government was supposed to get rid of government waste. This is a sad waste of money:
Heritage Minister Bev Oda said Friday that the federal government will
contribute $200-million over two years to the Canadian Television Fund, now
rocked by a crisis of industry support that could stanch its cash flow.
I take solace in the fact that the comments on the Globe and Mail article are near unanimous in their condemnation of the decision. There is simply a huge fundamental problem, with hundreds of cable channels and many families spending $50 - $100 a month for programming, why independent TV producers can't make a go of it. There is absolutely no public benefit to pay to produce TV that nobody will watch.

The Conservative government should change this decision immediately.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Surge is Already Working

Muqtada al-Sadr is no dummy. He has successfully transformed himself from a two-bit Imam to one of the most powerful influences in Iraq through his firebrand speaking, political posturing, and thuggery. He even intimidated Prime Minister Maliki into delaying a summit with President Bush. He must also be scared out of his wits. Since George Bush announced his change of strategy in Iraq, three events have demonstrated al-Sadr's weakening position:
  1. One of his chief assassins was captured.
  2. He realized he had to call off his party's boycott of the Iraqi parliament.
  3. Today the Iraqi Prime Minister withdrew his protection for al-Sadr's Milita.

Al-Sadr has gotten his power by playing the strongman in a field of weak leaders; I'm interested to see if he can keep it up as the American military clamps down on his thugs. At least with respect to al-Sadr President Bush's surge in troops has already shown results.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Let Farmers Decide

Chuck Strahl has made the right decision to allow western Canadian Farmers the right to vote on the future of their marketing.

France made me smile

In case you missed it. This is just too funny. If only this had come out a few years ago whe M. Chirac was at the height of his arrogance.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

President Bush's Change of Strategy in Iraq

I have to admit that today was the first time I read President Bush's address to the nation, or given his change of strategy any thought. To listen to media coverage, it seemed like more of the same, throwing more troops at a problem that troops have not been able to solve.

However, on a little thought and reading one piece of analysis in the Washington Post; it looks to me like this time may really be different. The President is committed to tightening security in Baghdad and stomping out the sectarian violence in the city. He is also prepared to push to allow former Bath party members to return to work, and according to the article in the post to get more state run factories back online.

All three of these strategies make sense. (1) Support for America's effort both in Iraq and in the US will only continue to erode if people in the capital cannot live safely. (2) The former Bath party members who were instrumental in the civil service were probably talented but pragmatic, recognizing that under the former government party membership was simply a good career move. (3) Allowing state-run businesses to operate in the short run will get people back to work and create jobs, turning off the tap for new insurgents.

I want to be hopeful about Iraq and this change of direction makes me more hopeful. But people need to start seeing results now. I hope that US and Iraqi governments will also put resources into spreading good news. Information on every successful battle to clear a neighbourhood of insurgents should be released to the media as soon as it is safe. When former high-ranking bureaucrats return to work, there should be video of them tearing up their old membership cards and stating their commitment to improving people's lives. When every state run factory opens up there should be press conferences where media are allowed to interview people returning to work.

The President understands that success in Iraq is absolutely essential:
The challenge playing out across the broader Middle East is more than a military conflict. It is the decisive ideological struggle of our time. On one side are those who believe in freedom and moderation. On the other side are extremists who kill the innocent, and have declared their intention to destroy our way of life. In the long run, the most realistic way to protect the American people is to provide a hopeful alternative to the hateful ideology of the enemy, by advancing liberty across a troubled region. It is in the interests of the United States to stand with the brave men and women who are risking their lives to claim their freedom, and to help them as they work to raise up just and hopeful societies across the Middle East.
In the age of instant media, the President needs to do more than be right. He needs to clearly demonstrate success to Iraqis, Americans, and the world.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

I Left My Old Church for a Reason

I became Catholic 5 years ago this Easter. It took a few years, because I felt very loyal to the Anglican Church where I was raised. I still miss my old parish, St. George's, which had a simple yet beautiful building with wonderful stained glass windows, and several wonderful families. One of the windows was donated by my family, and has special meaning.

But I had to leave the church. It became clear to me that the Anglican church was moving quickly away from orthodox Christian teaching. If you read this blog, you know that I'm of a rather conservative political bent, and part of me wondered whether I was just over reacting. It grieves me, but this past week has just reinforced my decision, twice.

A few days ago I read Mark Steyn's account of an article in the Niagara Anglican. Here are the lines he attributes to Canon Tim Smart (a canon in the Anglican Church ranks higher than a normal priest but lower than a bishop):

Next to having sex, a good bowel movement rates pretty high on most people's scale of things that satisfy. In fact, as you grow older, a good poop can be as rewarding as a good romp under the covers. You know the relief that comes after having been frustrated for so many days to finally stand proudly before your accomplishment floating in the toilet bowl and congratulate yourself on a job well done.

. . .

The New Testament tells us that Jesus ate a lot. He went to wedding banquets, to people's homes for dinner and he apparently ate a lot of loaves and fishes. After all that eating and drinking, do you suppose that he waited until he was seated upon the heavenly throne to take a crap? Or, did he squat down behind a bush with James and John, farting and pushing like the rest of us?

. . .

Did Jesus defecate while he was here on earth? Of course he did! I suppose if we knew the exact spot where he laid down his 'load', today a shrine would be erected to remember the event; the Church of the Holy Sh_t.

. . .

Did Jesus have sex? Again, like crapping, the gospels are silent on the subject of Jesus' sex life . . . maybe later in life, as popular teacher and preacher, he did have sex with some of his women admirers. But I'm just guessing, basing my theory not on anything biblical or scholarly, but on what I know about guys.

I just want to cry. This man supposedly has dedicated is life to serving Christ and spreading the gospel. Instead, a journal that's supposed to keep church members informed and feed them spiritually just delivers a spiritual kick in the teeth to those who bother to read it. Unfortunately, this isn't new it's been this way in the Anglican Church for at least 10 years.

On Friday the Globe and Mail had a front page article that shows how whole-heartedly the Church has abandoned its mission to share the good news and offer discipleship to believers. The newest Anglican bishop in Canada has said he wants to incorporate Native spirituality into the Church. Here are the highlights of the article by Micahel Valpy:

The Anglican Church of Canada's newly appointed national bishop to native peoples says his job will be to bend mainstream Christian theology so that it fits with aboriginal spiritual beliefs.

. . .

My task over the next few years is to midwife the creation of a native jurisdiction within the Canadian church. In my opinion, it is the most important work that anyone could do in the church at this day and hour. As many people have said, it will bring transformation to the whole church.

. . .

Jesus, he said, was a compelling figure in native society _ not so much with the divine dimensions in which he's clothed by mainstream Christian theology but existentially as a teacher and a model for human life. Aboriginal elders blended this view of Jesus as teacher and model with native spiritual beliefs, but took it beneath the surface to avoid confrontation with colonial church leaders.

Christian missionaries died to share their faith that Jesus is God made flesh and that he gave his life as a sacrifice for our sins. Now the Anglican leadership in Canada seems set to totally abandon the most basic foundations of the faith. Unfortunately, for much of the leadership, it seems to have happened a long time ago. It's also the reason why parishes like the one I grew up in are struggling just to stay open.

Incidentally, I'm so glad to be part of the Catholic Church, where the hierarchy takes seriously the need to stamp out heresy from its teaching. My new church may have some short comings, but I know that under the leadership of Pope Benedict, the truth is not negotiable.

I will pray for the Anglican Church. I will ask God to:

  • Forgive the Anglican Church leadership for their apostacy.
  • Reveal Himself to the current members of the church.
  • Fill the Anglican Church with His Holy Spirit.
  • Reinvigorate parishes and bring people back to worship there.

Please join me if you can.