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.