Monday, October 31, 2011

KW Life Chain and the Counter Protest

On October 2, 2011, KW Right to Life marked its Annual Life Chain Memorial in front of Grand River Hospital on King Street in Waterloo and approximately 150 people attended to bear a silent witness for life. The cold wet weather didn’t seem to dampen the spirits of the crowd that lined the streets holding umbrellas over signs that read, “Abortion Kills Children,” and “Life is Precious.” We were joined by over 30,000 people nationwide who decided to stand up for life in their own communities.

This year, I had the privilege of addressing everyone at the end of the event. The theme of my talk was Hebrews 3:13, “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” The message was simple: The ‘bad news’ highlights how important our work is to protect life at every stage, and the ‘good news,’ including the progress that we make and the large number of people standing up for life, reminds that we can be successful and encourage each other along the way.

I spoke of the importance of our work and how travesties of justice, like the mother who strangled her newborn baby and was set free by an Alberta Appeals Court using the justification that Canadians accept abortion and would sympathize with the mother, demonstrate how hard we need to work to change our culture.

I also spoke about the fact that we have had a number of successes. That there are many pro life MPs and MPPs, that the federal government has prevented abortion funding from being included in international maternal health funding, and that a new movement is beginning to lobby for the defunding of abortion. (On October 22, a rally at Queen’s Park hosted 2,300 pro life witnesses.)

The really interesting part about this year’s life chain was the presence of a counter protest with 12 pro-abortion protesters on the other side of King Street. Their presence was a clear sign that our work is having an impact. They were not nearly as prepared for the weather as the pro life crowd, as they did not have umbrellas and were soaking wet by the end of it. At one point, I wanted badly to cross over the street and offer to hold my umbrella over them. I chatted briefly with some of the protestors afterward. They were passionate but polite and real. I left hoping that I would get another opportunity to talk to them, to better understand what they are thinking, but more importantly to stress the value all human life.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Does Anyone Want My Job?

My old one that is ;)

About a month ago, I received a promotion. I'm actually pretty excited about it. The downside is I'm stepping away from the government relations work that I had been doing and enjoying for the last 18 months or so. If you're into politics and have an analyitical bent this could be a good fit for you. Feel free to contact me at "patrick dot oneil at ontariopork dot on dot ca" if you want the inside scoop.

You can apply here:

Strategist - Markets, Policy & Government Relations - (Guelph, Ontario, Central Canada, Canada)
Company: Ontario Pork
Open Til: 24-Dec-11
Industry Sector: Government/Industry Groups
Industry Type: Pork
Career Type: PolicyJob
Type: Full Time
Minimum Years Experience Required: 3
Salary: To be discussed

Strategist – Markets, Policy & Government Relations

Ontario Pork is currently seeking a Strategist – Markets, Policy & Government Relations, to drive results for effective farm programs and to provide an exemplary service to the hog producers to support their business decisions.

The successful candidate will be a strong team player in developing and maintaining relationships through effectively communicating with lobby firms, commodity organizations, consultants, government officials, producers, industry partners and the media, on strategies, various campaigns, policies and issues.

The duties and responsibilities include gathering information from experts, working with researchers, analyzing, editing and preparing reports for market trends, specific projects, safety committee, board reports and budgets.

Keeping abreast of industry news and pricing is a must to effectively communicate and provide presentations at producer meetings, news briefs and commentaries. Assisting in organizing events and corporate planning is also required.

Skill/Education Requirements

Bachelor of Commerce Degree in Economics or Political Science Undergraduate Degree

Minimum of 3 years experience in a customer service position, ideally in the field of agriculture
Excellent communication skills – both written and verbal
Presentation skills
Able to effectively manage conflict
Ability to communicate complex ideas in a simplistic form
Frequent travel within Canada is required, as well as, being on call.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sometimes I Wish . . .

. . . Environment Canada was a little more creative with their graphics.

Oh well, looks like it's going to be wet for a few days.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

World Youth Day Festivities begin in Madrid Today

I'm so excited for the pilgrims who are attending the World Youth Day celebrations in Madrid this week. I still remember how strengthened I felt after attending World Youth Day in Toronto in 2002, it truly was a life changing experience for me and I'm sure it will be for most of this year's young people as well. I haven't been following the news much, but I will as much as I can over the next week. So far it hasn't been too exciting:

Some short-sighted lefties are complaining that the cost is too high given the economic crisis in Europe. Hopefully the excitement and enthusiasm convinces them otherwise. I think this is exactly what Spain needs right now. After all this is a big deal even from merely economic terms. The article noted:

“More than one million outsiders will be circulating in Madrid,” said Alfonso del Álamo, the director of Madrid's civil protection agency. “A major event like winning the World Cup is only 500,000. We’ve never seen anything like this.”
He'll be happy to know that if my memory is correct, 25% fewer crimes were committed in Toronto despite the influx of people.

BUT the reporting isn't all bad. This article in the Irish Times was very positive, and this South African article even quoted Pope Benedict's Sunday prayer:

“Today, our thoughts turn to the young people now gathering in Madrid for World
Youth Day”, the pope told the faithful gathered for his Angelus prayer from the balcony of his summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, near Rome.

“As I prepare to join them, I ask you to accompany us with your prayers for the spiritual fruitfulness of this important event”, he said.

No Problem. Those prayers are coming right up.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Whither the National Post?

With all the press coverage of the downfall of Rupert Murdoch, the single worst piece of analysis was published in the National Post. I'll admit that the title, "It Couldn't Happen to a Sleazier Guy" drew me in. Good gossip on a man who made a fortune selling bad gossip was something I was looking forward to. But Jeet Heer's article was an astonishing disappointment. Essentially his thesis is Murdoch's news holdings tend to be right wing, therefore he's a scumbag:

Although he dabbled with left-wing politics when young, the mature Murdoch has had a remarkably consistent political profile, one that informs his vast array of media holdings ranging from the Sunday Times of England to The Australian to the Wall Street Journal and Fox News in the United States. With the exception of Murdoch’s Chinese holdings, which tend to defer to the wishes of the Communist Party, all of Murdoch’s media outlets are organs of right-wing populism.
For shame! How dare he give voice to right wing ideas? No smear job would be complete without accusations of racism:

The characteristic stance of a Murdoch newspaper is that of defending putatively
“normal” tax-payers against various supposed parasites and weirdos, an eclectic and elastic category that includes union members, gays, almost all foreigners, uppity women, and racial minorities.
But worse! The Sun has a long-standing habit of referring to the French as “frogs,” . . . How offensive. Seriously, even when the facts don't fit the smear - Murdoch's wife is of Asian descent so the racism charge doesn't quite stick - Heer just uses it for more 'evidence.'

Murdoch is something fouler: an intelligent man who has found a way to make money trafficking in racial animosities he himself doesn’t necessarily share.
The entire article was a hit piece based merely on the fact that the author didn't like the fact that Murdoch wasn't true to left wing orthodoxy. I can't believe the National Post would print such garbage.

Don't get me wrong, I don't know enough about Murdoch to have an opinion. I do know the cell phone hacking and corruption of his flagship tabloid was shameful and someone, probably several people, should go to jail. But that doesn't mean that every paper or news outlet in Rupert Murdoch's control should be tarred with the same brush.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Pepsi = Gross

Pepsico is using a new technology to make their junk food taste better. Sounds exciting right? Actually it's disturbing: the technology involves harvesting stem cells from aborted baby livers to develop a “proprietary taste receptor-based assay systems that provide a biochemical or electronic readout when a flavor ingredient interacts with the receptor.” More on the story here.

Naturally prolife groups are calling for people to boycott Pepsico. That was fine by me as I've always been more of a Coke guy myself. Unfortunately, Pepsi also makes Lays and Ruffles potato chips as well as Tostitos - as a junk food junkie, those are major staples of my diet.

It's been a week since I first found out about this travesty, and I'm happy to report there are other types of chips that taste just as good. Actually Truly brand from Zellers is comparable to Lays and much cheaper. You can join the boycott and save money!

One last random thought. Where are all the folks who protested against animal testing? Surely this is a far greater travesty than that.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A New Level of Crazy

I wouldn't be a *gasp* climate change skeptic if these so called scientists didn't makes such ridiculous claims. These excerpts from an article in The Telegraph show a series of unsubstantiated alarmist claims. Here are some gems:

Warming ocean waters are causing the largest movement of marine species seen on
Earth in more than two million years, according to scientists.

In the Arctic, melting sea ice during recent summers has allowed a passage to open up from the Pacific ocean into the North Atlantic, allowing plankton, fish and even
whales to into the Atlantic Ocean from the Pacific.

The discovery has sparked fears delicate marine food webs could be unbalanced and lead to some species becoming extinct as competition for food between the native species and the invaders stretches resources.

Rising ocean temperatures are also allowing species normally found in warmer sub-tropical regions to into the northeast Atlantic.

A venomous warm-water species Pelagia noctiluca has forced the closure of beaches and is now becoming increasingly common in the waters around Britain.

. . . Plankton sampling in the north Atlantic over the past 70 years have also shown that other species of plankton, normally only found in the Pacific ocean, have now become common in Atlantic waters.

. . . The scientists, who have been collaborating on the Climate Change and European Marine Ecosystems Research project, found the plankton species, called Neodenticula seminae, traveled into the Atlantic through a passage through the Arctic sea ice around that has opened up a number of times in the last decade from the Pacific Ocean.

Larger species including a grey whale have also been found to have made the journey through the passage, which winds it’s way from the Pacific coast of Alaska through the islands of northern Canada and down past Greenland into the Atlantic Ocean, when it opened first in 1998, and then again in 2007 and 2010.

Professor Chris Reid, from the Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science at the Plymouth Marine Laboratory, said: “It seems for the first time in probably thousands of years a huge area of sea water opened up between Alaska and the west of Greenland, allowing a huge transfer of water and species between the two oceans.

. . . “The implications are huge. The last time there was an incursion of species from the Pacific into the Atlantic was around two to three million years ago."
My favourite part is it's the first time the Northwest Passage has been open in 'probably thousands of years' and therefore we will experience the largest transfer of water and species in 'two million years.' I though scientists were supposed to be good at math!

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Some Stats Should Never be Collected

Yesterday Statistics Canada reported that 'hate crimes' in Canada are surging increasing in 42% in 2009 compared to 2008 after a 35% increase the previous year. Worst of all the statistics suggest that the southwestern Ontario cities of Kitchener-Waterloo and Guelph are the country's most heinous offenders:

In 2009, four census metropolitan areas accounted for most of the increase in police-reported hate crime, led by Ottawa, where the number of incidents increased by 83, Toronto (+79), Kitchener–Cambridge–Waterloo (+62) and Montréal (+61).

Kitchener–Cambridge–Waterloo reported the highest rate of police-reported hate crimes at just under 18 incidents for every 100,000 population. This city's rate was followed closely by Guelph, Peterborough and Ottawa.

I can see the education campaigns now as the diversity police drive an hour west on the 401 to make sure we all know what terrible people we are. But wait there were 1,437 incidents reported, barely 0.005% nationally and these are reported incidents not convictions. Stats Can notes:
The number of hate crimes in a given area can be influenced by the public's willingness to report incidents to police as well as local police service practices and awareness campaigns.
That's an understatement. The concept of 'hate crime' is so completely subjective meaningful statistics are simply not possible. Look at Kitchener-Waterloo and Guelph, both cities have big university populations that are no doubt primed to take offense at real or imagined infractions.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Conservative MPs - Flex Your Muscles!

My first piece of election analysis is "phew!" I was really getting worried about Prime Minister Layton for a little while there.

It's fair to say I was a little disenchanted with Stephen Harper. I didn't volunteer on any local campaign. In fact this was the first election I remember in 20 years that I watched the results come in from home. Usually I was at a 'victory party' after scrutineering and watching the results come in with other volunteers from the campaign.

I'm still uncomfortable with the way pro-life MPs have been gagged during the course of his leadership, and I just don't get the agriculture policy. Spending so much energy attacking the Canadian Wheat Board and apparent hostility to proposals from Ontario farmers hasn't really made sense. (I guess you need to be an Ag minister from Western Canada to understand.)

Still, when faced with the prospect of old time socialism and aggressive pro-euthanasia elements in the NDP, I had to return to the fold.

Today I'm optimistic. The new majority means decisions can be made within the Conservative caucus. That means Conservative MPs have a real responsibility to bring innovative ideas forward. I'm hopeful that the many pro-life MPs will be able to move the yardstick forward on key issues. I'm also hopeful that Ontario MPs will be able to reassert the province's importance to the economy, particularly on agriculture since Ontario has the largest agricultural production of any province. Someone pointed out an interesting statistic . . . there are 72 Conservative MPs from Manitoba and West, there are 73 from Ontario.

Caucus meetings should be interesting!

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Ignatieff's Blue Sweater

The same tool Harper used to propel himself to soften his image and propel himself to victory last time has been snatched by the Liberals. I'm surprised it's not a bigger story, but Ignatieff is pulling out all the stops this campaign even donning a blue sweater!

But that's not the only thing, Ignatieff is starting to try to sound like a Conservative at least according to this article in the Toronto Sun.
Liberal government won't be a big government but it will be an open government, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff says . . . "These are initiatives that have one common characteristic. They help Canadian families with a minimum of bureaucracy... It's not big government, it's government that sends the help directly to the family" . . . "After a long life, I've understood there's a lot I not only can't control, there's a lot I shouldn't control"
Is it credible? Probably not. This is a leader who has promised to raise taxes and tried to force Stephen Harper to use foreign aid to finance abortions rather than maternal health. But, he is showing himself to be much more shrewd than he has appeared since he entered politics.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Ontario Budget Will Impact 2 Elections

Agriculture usually isn't considered sexy unless you get a copy of the Faces of Farming Calendar (Jen and Amy are May's calendar girls.) That all changed with Tuesday's Ontario Budget announcement of a multi-commodity Risk Management Program. Now the Toronto media, which barely write about Agriculture have taken notice. The Toronto Star's Martin Cohn concludes this may be the program that keeps the Ontario Liberals in power:

Unsurprisingly, an obscure agricultural program barely rated a mention in the Toronto papers. But it is destined to get acres of space in rural Ontario. And if it works as planned, the results will be big news across the province when ballots are counted on Oct. 6.

It’s called the “Risk Management Program,” a kind of insurance policy for farmers. The program isn’t sexy, but it sells — so don’t stop reading here. The economics and the politics behind it are what’s interesting, as are the players who joined forces.

First, the politics, without which no deal: The 71-member Liberal caucus has about 17 MPPs from rural ridings, mostly in the province’s southwest and east. If the Progressive Conservatives are to topple the Liberal government, they must first trample the thin red line of MPPs that serves as a defensive perimeter around Liberal-dominated cities. If the agricultural heartland doesn’t crumble, the urban fortresses may withstand a Tory assault.

Cohn is absolutely right, the decision is smart politics by the provincial Liberals and the fact that the Ontario PC Party had previously endorsed the program means the only criticism they can face is that the program came too late. The program will work for farmers, it will provide the beef and pork producers in this province with a predictable and bankable program upon which they can confidently make investment decisions.

The issue will resonate not just in rural Ontario but in a number of other urban ridings where agricultural suppliers and processors are a very important part of the economy. Consumers will have the assurance as well that safe, environmentally responsible, locally grown food will remain a viable option for them and their families in the future. The good press should continue as long as program details are done well. So it works politically.

With the momentum they've gained from this announcement farm groups will almost certainly turn their attention to the Federal campaign. The politics are similar, if Ignatieff endorses this program and the Conservatives continue to oppose it several seats that the Conservatives thought were safe could come into play. Not sure if Ignatieff is smart enough to capitalize on it, but Harper should shore up his rural Ontario base and get on board with the program.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Just Not That Motivated

I got a call today to volunteer on one of the campaigns for a nearby Conservative candidate. My answer was, "I'm not sure tell the candidate to call me." It's been a while since I put everything I had into a campaign, but I'm usually pretty excited around election time and more than ready to do my part for a cause or person that I believe in especially if there have been weeks of ramp up ahead of the election call. Aside from the brutally cold weather (-17C tonight!) there are two reasons I'm just not that motivated: First, the forcible silence of pro-life MPs seems likely to continue into the next Parliament. Harper told Peter Mansbridge he would not reopen the abortion issue if he achieved a majority and elaborated by saying, "If you want to diminish the number of abortions you’ve got to change hearts, and not laws." Whatever. I say if you want to limit any type of action you change hearts and laws. I may yet support some pro life conservative candidates, but the central party hasn't seen a donation from me since they formed government and they aren't likely to in the near future. Second the Harper Government has been indifferent to the needs of Ontario Agriculture ignoring repeated requests to participate in a price insurance proposal. Indeed Gerry Ritz was needlessly partisan in a letter to Better Farming refusing the proposals out of hand. As a Conservative, I'm embarrased by his closed mindedness. I explained to about 200 farmers and industry support people last week, we can vary not only who we support but our level of support. Right now my level of support is dangerously close to zero.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Fare thee well Stockwell

I was shocked and disappointed by the news that Stockwell Day will not run in the next election. I've been a Stockaholic since he first entered federal politics - to be honest part of me was still hoping that somehow events would transpire to make him our Prime Minister. I wasn't alone in that thinking, just over two years ago in the Saskatoon StarPhoenix David Akin wrote an excellent account of Day's success in the Harper cabinet concluding:

His renewed political success even has some in his party quietly whispering that he ought to consider running for leader again when Harper decides to retire.
I enthusastically helped on Day's campaign for the leadership of the Canadian Alliance and for the newly formed Conservative Party. After all that he went through during a caucus revolt from many of his colleagues, I would have completely understood if he had retired back then. Instead he demonstrated his ability and his class by staying on and becoming one of this government's most effective cabinet ministers

Stockwell's class was on full display in his retirement statement:
And [Thanks] to Prime Minister Harper for allowing me the privilege to serve under his outstanding leadership. That leadership has led our nation through the most troubling economic times in over half a century.

His belief (and insistence within his caucus) that every MP must be allowed equal ground to speak up vigorously for their constituents is the foundation of decision making upon which we develop the policies for our nation.

I wish the Prime Minister full success in the days ahead in the efforts on behalf of all Canadians in maintaining a Canada that stands strong and free.
I will miss Stockwell's class, integrity and effectiveness dearly and I believe this is a huge loss to the Conservative Party and to Canada.

But our loss is his family's gain and I sincerely wish him a happy retirement.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Temple Grandin - Nature is Cruel But We Don't Have to Be

Sometimes when I hear the terms animal rights or animal welfare I cringe. Often I think my goodness we can't even treat people properly and activists want us to worry more about animals. More often I think of my own time on the farm or friends and family and everyone else in the livestock industry and I know that they take pride in the way they care for their animals - I take it personally if anyone suggests otherwise.

I had known a little about Temple Grandin and her legacy. I've seen hog receiving areas that are designed without corners to ensure that the animals are not scared as they are moved. I've learned about animal flight zones that can be used to move animals without touching or frightening them. But I didn't rush to learn more about Temple's story by watching the HBO movie about her life and work. Over the last couple months, all the copies at the local video store were always rented so even if I had rushed to watch the movie, I might not have seen it any earlier.

The movie is excellent, it really does help demonstrate how autism affected her life and how she could be so very helpful in teaching us about how animals react to the situations we put them in. The story was told so very well its no wonder it has inspired millions of people who live with people with autism and helped everyone who saw the film understand how her important work has shaped the way we care for animals.

It takes us on a journey through her life giving a small sample of the suffering she felt because her autism made her different and she found it so difficult to deal with other people. We then see how she learned how to calm herself from the way farmers treated animals. Finally we see how she built her career improving animal handling facilities to make sure the animals are comfortable and relaxed.

The movie also features one of her most powerful quotes, "Nature is cruel but we don't have to be."

Try to watch it if you haven't had the chance already.

Monday, February 28, 2011

In Case You Missed it on CPAC

I sat beside Ontario Pork's chair person at our presentatin to the Ontario Standing Comittee on Finance. (That's my shoulder in the thumbnail, and I answered a question at the end of the presentation). I'll chalk the ums and ahs in answering a softball question up to nerves and a little bit of embarrasment for not having the answer ready. Still, I think the point was delivered and well received by the committee. (Ted Arnott's question starts at 9:40, My answer starts at 12:20)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Obama Delivers Slap in the Face to Canada

I'm at a loss for words. Sometimes I may be a little unfair in my criticism of President Obama, but his proposed tax on Canadians entering the country is a slap in the face; a grevious insult; and a hypocritical assault on the relationship between our two countries.

Canadian politicians are trying to put the best face on the situation:
Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon, however, suggested it's far too soon to get upset about the proposal.

"We're talking about the budget of 2012 and the 2011 budget hasn't even been passed yet," he said.

He added the prime minister and U.S. President Barack Obama appeared to be of the same mind when they met two weeks ago, that the global economic situation is fragile and that it's in the "best interest" of both countries to "find solutions that will increase the circulation of goods and people."
That's the issue. Two weeks ago Barack Obama spoke of strengthening the ties between our two countries. Now he is proposing to tax Canadian travellers to his country. This is not something that came from Congress. The duplicity comes straight from the President himself. This guy has absolutely no credibility.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Moo Barack Resigns

I was ready to join the celebrations when I heard that the fearsome dictatorial president Moo-Barack had resigned . . .

. . . How disappointing to learn that they had someone else in mind.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

KW Right to Life Marks Tragic Anniversary

On January 28th approximately 100 people joined KW Right to Life to mark the anniversary of the Morgentaler decision that struck down Canada’s abortion laws and created the legal vacuum where preborn children have no legal protection in this country until the time of their birth.

The format was much different than in years past when we would hold an hour long silent vigil in front of Grand River hospital. This year we moved a few blocks south in front of Kitchener city hall, where the outdoor skating rink and the lights of downtown provided a fun and energetic atmosphere.

After a half hour we walked to St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church where we were graciously hosted. There we had a half hour of prayer and reflection.

The highlight for me this year was in the reflection delivered by Harold Albrecht, Conservative MP for Kitchener Conestoga. In a heartfelt address, Harold explained how his personal experiences have led him to place a high value on life at every stage from conception to natural death. They were powerful examples:

• He spoke of a grandson who was born extremely prematurely. The baby did not survive but the impact of the loss on the parents and extended family left little doubt that this was more than just product of conception. This little one was a very real person who remains missed.

• He spoke of the disabled, particularly children, youth and adults with Down ’s syndrome mentioning that they are often so joyful and unconditionally friendly. These special people have enriched the lives of their families and community, -- it would be a shame to end their lives prematurely – and miss out on the special joy they bring to our world simply because we have the technology to screen in utero.

• He spoke of visiting the elderly in nursing homes and hearing their stories of pain and loneliness. He said that’s why we must focus on providing quality comfort measures, palliative care and emotional support for the elderly rather than open the door to euthanasia.

• Finally he spoke of the mentally ill and the depressed, of a colleague who committed suicide and of how he was personally shaken by the news of Nadia Kajouji. Nadia was an 18 year old university student who committed suicide in March 2008. During the investigation into Kajouji's death, police discovered that a 47-year-old male nurse from Minnesota — who was posing as a 28-year-old woman online — might have encouraged Kajouji via an internet chat room to commit suicide. No charges have been laid in the case under Canadian law.

Harold explained that Section 241 of the Canadian Criminal Code says "everyone who … counsels a person to commit suicide, or aids or abets a person to commit suicide, whether suicide ensues or not, is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years." His concern though is that it is not clear whether encouraging someone to commit suicide via the internet is a crime.

On November 18, the House of Commons voted unanimously in favour of a motion (M388) Harold put forward calling for change in how the Criminal Code deals with people who counsel others over the internet to commit suicide. He is hopeful that the measure will prevent another case similar to Nadia’s.

Harold thanked everyone present for the work they have done to protect life, and noted that our most important task is to change the hearts and minds of our friends and neighbours. He noted that in his experience even a simple example of sharing an image of a preborn child can start a conversation that will help convince people of the humanity of preborn children and know that they need our protection.

After hearing Harold’s message, many of us left with a renewed sense of purpose.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Chastity Makes Marriage Better

It may fly in the face of our oversexed culture's conventional wisdom, but people who remain chaste before marriage have better marriages according to a number of measures. The Medical News reports:

A new study that appeared in the Journal of Family Psychology finds that couples who wait until exchanging vows to have sex are “are happier with the quality of sex” and enjoy a “stable, happier marriage”. The team of researchers assessed 2,035 married couples in an online questionnaire based study called ‘RELATE’.

The results showed that couples who waited until marriage to have sex rated sexual quality 15% higher than people who had premarital sex, rated relationship stability as 22% higher and rated satisfaction with their relationships 20% higher.
The study controlled for religiosity and found, “Regardless of religiosity, waiting helps the relationship form better communication processes, and these help improve long-term stability and relationship satisfaction.” So the study seems pretty solid. There's always room for criticism though, The Economist notes:

Unfortunately, Dr Busby’s method cannot distinguish the cause of this. It could be, as many moralists preach, that the delay itself is improving. It could, though, be that the sort of people who are happy to delay having sex are also better at relationships. Correlation, in other words, rather than causation. That is material for another study.
That criticism is valid enough I suppose. Can't rule out selection bias. BUT if you're a young person getting into a relationship and considering marriage, choosing a mate is very much about selection bias. And no matter the reason why, the results are clear: if you and your partner can stay chaste you're marriage will be happier for it.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Voyage of the Dawn Treader

It's a little late to be plugging the movie now that it's been running for 6 weeks and has dropped out of the top 10, but the Voyage of the Dawn Treader is an excellent movie. The casting is excellent. The new character Eustace is extremely convincing. It was probably more faithful to the book than the previous 2 movies. I think it's my favourite Narnia movie so far even though I would have ranked the book in the middle or toward the end of the pack. If you get a chance it's definitely worth seeing in the Theatre. I plan on owning the DVD.

A Gay 'Rights' Trifecta

"It makes no sense that Mr. Lusk could be acquitted in a Quebec court and then found liable for moral and punitive damages in front of a human rights tribunal," Mr. Angers said. "These tribunals are just in another world."

That's a pretty good summary of the situation after the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal fined a man $12,000 for saying a bad word:
The case against Mr. Lusk, a retired lieutenant colonel of the Canadian Forces, stems from an April 2004, incident in which Mr. Thibault is alleged to have driven recklessly down their street in the Montreal suburb of Pointe Claire while neighbourhood children, including Mr. Lusk's son, were playing road hockey.

A witness testified that Mr. Thibault had run a stop sign and driven at high speed toward one of the kids, nearly hitting the child. . . When Mr. Lusk heard about the latest encounter with Mr. Thibault, he decided to take the matter up with his neighbours.

Messrs. Thibault and Wouters allege Mr. Lusk showed up at their home yelling and hitting their metal gate, an accusation Mr. Lusk steadfastly denies. The couple said Mr. Lusk accused Mr. Wouters, who had not been in the car, of driving dangerously and endangering the lives of his children, calling him a "f---ing faggot." . . .

Police also charged him with assault and uttering death threats, but he was later acquitted.

Still, the Human Rights Tribunal, using surveillance footage of the encounter captured by cameras Messrs. Thibault and Wouters had installed on their home, ruled "by a preponderance of evidence, that the defendant, by his behaviour, his comments and his attitude, has violated the rights of the plaintiffs, on the basis of their sexual orientation."
I really don't know where to start. This is a grave injustice. First it was a matter between neighbours. It's pretty common for neighbours to have disagreements, and it is a father's responsibility to protect his children. I can't imagine the police treating this type of complaint seriously under any other circumstances.

Second Mr Lusk was acquitted of all charges related to the incident. We have a constitutional right not to be tried twice for the same crime so the Human Rights tribunal seems to be tramping all over Mr Lusk's rights.

Finally, I came across the story via a comment on my last post about the disturbing pace our rights are being eroded in the name of 'human rights.' That post referenced a court ruling that marriage commissioners cannot op out of performing marriage ceremonies for same sex couples and the silly censorship of the 1980s hit song Money for Nothing. That makes 3 decisions in one week that tramped on the rights of individuals in favour of the gay lobby.

I suppose now is the time for a disclaimer. I have nothing against gays individually or as a community, but when our basic rights are trampled on to appease a vocal minority we must stand up to protect them.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Stop the Madness Now!

First things first: Faggot, Faggot, Faggot. Take that you silly censors!

The ridiculous ruling by the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council to ban the original version of Dire Strait's hit song 'Money for Nothing' is part of a very disturbing trend this week. It follows a decision earlier this week by the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal that concluded marriage commissioners have no right to refuse to marry same sex couples.

In neither case are the rights of homosexuals harmed or challenged, but in both cases the rights of others are seriously threatened. Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Conscience are fundamental to democracy, both have been harmed this week.

Fortunately, many Canadians are willing to stand up to the censorship decision. Q104 Halifax and K97 Edmonton are both publicly defying the ruling by playing the song, in their report, the Toronto Sun helpfully published contact information to complain to the CBSC. Anyone can contact the CBSC national chair Ronald Cohen at or 1 (866) 696-4718. I definitely plan on doing that, but I wish it were as easy to fight the Saskatchewan decision on conscience rights, because I think that's more serious.

In the meantime here's the unedited version of the song

and the offending lyrics:

See the little faggot with the earring and the makeup
Yeah buddy that's his own hair
That little faggot got his own jet airplane
That little faggot he's a millionaire

Monday, January 03, 2011

'Sky Cake' is More Profound than This Dude Thinks

Patton Oswalt is deliberately offensive in this video implying that anyone who takes their faith seriously might as well believe in 'sky cake.' His athiest fans love it and if you're not offended too easily it's kinda funny:

The interesting thing to me though is that it actually makes a pretty profound point. Right of the top he says, "if we didn’t have religion we wouldn’t be here by now . . . there’d be no civilization."

I don't think I could have said it much better. Maybe his athiest fans can take note the next time they try to remove any reference to God from the public sphere.

Open at Your Own Peril

On the 10th day of Christmas, I finally caved and wrote a post lamenting corporate crimes against Christmas.

There's the standard 'happy holidays' or 'holiday lighting' phrases that just drive me crazy as they seemingly attempt to deny that we are even celebrating Christmas. I've spent more energy than I want to ranting against this lunacy. All I did this year was try to give some preference to stores that mentioned Christmas. (It was handy that many individual Tim Horton's franchises had Merry Christmas written all over their windows.)

This year's major crime against Christmas came from Shoppers' Drug Mart. They are the dominant pharmacy around these parts, much like Walgreen's in the US. Many Shoppers' stores were open on Christmas Day. If your family doctor is closed, I don't see the reason why the pharmacy needs to be open especially since you usually get at least a week's worth of prescription medicine at one time. Besides, the stores also feature cosmetics, photo finishing, gifts, and a grocery section. It's hard to imagine why other major retailers wouldn't argue if Shopper's can open, we must too.

It's a tragedy that so many of that company's employees needlessly worked on Christmas Day. It's also very easy to imagine other retail employees following suit. It was only a few years ago when every store in Ontario was closed for Boxing Day (Dec 26) as well as Christmas day.

Retailers are best advised to remember that time off at Christmas facilitates the gift giving that makes the season so profitable for retailers. If they decide to open en masse then there will be less people available for Christmas day gift exchanges and less gifts exchanged.

My advice to retailers is stay closed on Christmas Day, but if you do open it is at your own peril.