Friday, May 30, 2008

How Easily They Forget...

Readers of the Nexus may recall a story from a couple of days ago about Ottawa's First Place Pregnancy Center filing suit against Planned Parenthood for "defamatory comments".

A rather typical enraged comment accompanied by the braying of a rather unsurprising cheerleader seems to miss the obvious point.

That the Sens Better Halves didn't boot the FPPC off the tree raffle charity, as Fern Hill dishonestly suggests here:

"We feminazis didn’t deny anyone funding. It was the Ottawa Senators’ fans — private individuals — who denied the anti-choicers their hard-earned dough."

But rather the First Place Pregnancy Centre voluntarily withdrew.

Now if only Fern Hill were to come out and suggest why they believe their side of the debate should be entitled to federal funding while they work so hard to ensure their opponents receive no funding, even when they're providing actual services to women...

Fat chance of that.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Elizabeth May to Jack Layton: "Leave Stephane Alone!!!"

"And how fucking dare anyone not jump on board with Dion after all he didn't do to curb climate change?"

Elizabeth May continued to fill the roll of unofficial deputy leader of the Liberal party yesterday on CTV's Question Period when she went after Jack Layton for his opposition to Stephane Dion's carbon tax.

"We need to act on the climate crisis, and a carbon tax is a litmus test of whether a party is serious about it or not," May -- allegedly the leader of the Green Party but looking increasingly more and more like a Dion lackey -- insisted.

She also insisted that Layton's opposition "is not part of the global social democratic approach."

Fair enough. Supporting politicians who do nothing at all about climate change when given the opportunity and charged with the responsibility is probably "not part of the global social democratic approach", either.

(Certainly, Al Gore didn't do anything to curb global warming. But unlike Stephane Dion, he never really had a mandate to.)

But there are countless other reasons why May's comments are a sad statement on the current state of the Green Party of Canada. Other than Elizabeth May going on national television and simply emulating Chris Crocker.

For example, how about a little consistency in cross-referencing the issue? Consider the following: the CTV story tells us that the Liberals have apparently decided to make the carbon tax "revenue neutral" by cutting income tax and applying the rest of that tax in the form of carbon tax.

Which actually doesn't seem like the worst idea at base level: taxpayers would have an incentive to reduce their carbon consumption, and many conservative-minded Canadians would get the tax cuts they perpetually yearn for.

Yet blogger Douglas Neil was among those who criticized the current government for its tax cuts, as did Stephane Dion who, as we recall, threatened to topple the government over a tax-cutting mini-budget, and has harped day and night about lost tax revenue and forecasted a federal budgetary deficit.

Yet if a carbon tax proved to be a successful incentive for Canadians to reduce their carbon consumption, the government would be out that amount of revenue. Certainly, Dion could devise some sort of a "gotcha, sucka" claw back to reclaim such revenue as income tax, but that would be rather disingenuous considering that tax savings are supposed to be a reward for reducing carbon consumption.

At the end of the day, what turns out to be the principle difference between Stephen Harper's tax cuts and Stephane Dion's carbon tax on federal coffers? Not a whole lot.

Jack Layton -- who also opposed the tax cuts -- seems wise enough to recognize that, and wise enough to not make a hypocrite out of himself by jumping behind an initiative that would reduce the revenue available to fund the social programs that the NDP has always unflappably supported, and the Liberals have long pretended to.

At least Layton's "cap and trade" system would actually produce revenue for the government to invest in carbon-reducing initiatives -- although May and her compatriots will almost certainly turn on "cap and trade" policies John McCain (a Republican) is proposing one.

Yet, in the face of the carbon tax's inconsistency with their own previous stances, Elizabeth May really has little to say other than criticizing Jack Layton for not jumping in line behind her as a Stephane Dion lacky.

All Dion wants to do is hurt the Liberal party, she insists. "He's a human!!!"

In fact, Elizabeth May probably considers us all rather unfortunate that Dion even continues to come up with ideas for us bastards.

Jack Layton had better leave Stephane Dion alone. Elizabeth May means it.

As Seen in the Toronto Star...

Hmmmm. Looks familiar...

From today's Toronto Star:

"Environmentalists say greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by 50 per cent to 80 per cent by 2050 to stop global warming."

Wait: 50 to 80 percent? By 2050?

Where has that been seen before?

Oh, yeah. In the Conservative Party Clean Air Act:

""Every single Liberal leadership candidate who has proposed targets for greenhouse gas emissions had proposed that those targets will be met by 2050. The difference is this ... we are committing today, for the first time ever, to introduce meaningful, tough regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 65 per cent by 2050. We'll do far more than the Liberals ever did."

-Jason Kenney

65 percent? That seems right in that 50-80% that the Star's vaunted environmentalists insist is necessary to curb global warming.

But wait: didn't the Star insist that the Clean Air Act was bad? That it was "failing Canadians"?

Apparently, the environmentalists they interviewed for today's op/ed article must not think so.

This has been another "accuracy in reporting" moment.

No, You Haven't

"Sticking with the facts" requires actually reporting them

...But unfortunately, some people don't seem to understand that.

Yesterday, the irredeemably intellectually lazy ideologue who calls himself Mentarch took some time out of his busy schedule to pout about being referred to as a historical revisionist naysayer.

And insisted that he "stick[s] with the facts - as I have labored to time and time and time and time and time and time and time again."

Except that he really hasn't. Upon examining any number of Mentarch's Afghanistan posts, any number of factual errors can be identified -- some of them actually quite prevalent in the mainstream media coverage of Afghanistan (upon which he overwhelmingly relies when he isn't just vainly linking to his previous posts), others not so much.

A few examples?

Treating the Taliban as an umbrella term for all of the various insurgent groups active in Afghanistan right now -- currently, at least seven -- many of whom actually have differing and opposing goals, and are as likely to fight one another as they are to fight NATO troops.

Or insisting that the Kabul government is negotiating with the Taliban when they call upon American troops to not arrest Taliban insurgents -- despite the fact that this is actually part of a calculated government program to undercut the insurgency's manpower by pardoning their foot soldiers so long as they disarm themselves and agree to accept Afghanistan's constitution. (As it turns out, the Taliban leadership is actually ineligible for such a pardon.)

Or cherry picking examples of failures in Afghanistan -- it would be naive to pretend there haven't been any -- while willfully ignoring any successes, which really has become the modus operandi of Mentarch and some of his braying associates.

All of this will be elaborated on in a future post, research for which is currently being conducted, and not merely via computer keyboard, either.

But the matter really comes down to one of two things: either Mentarch has not done any research other than what can be turned up via a rudimentary Google search, and thus has not "labored" to "stick to the facts", or has done so and is simply ignoring any information that may serve to undercut the case he wants to make about Afghanistan.

Noam Chomsky developed a cogent term for this -- he referred to it as "historical engineering", and reminded his readers of one important fact: it's easier to revise history while it's still being written. And if Mentarch has shown us anything, it's that if you're a "Progressive Historian" for whom the actual "historian" part of that label takes a backseat to the ideology, revising history while it's still in progress really is just the ticket.

But one shouldn't be surprised if someone as abrasively arrogant as Mentarch -- an individual who actually believes he can politicize the very concept of incompetence -- either doesn't understand this, or simply won't admit it.

Sadly, it's all par for the course.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Federal Funding For Me, Sweet Fuck All For Thee

Heather Mallick reveals the depth of hypocrisy within so-called "women's lobby"

In a story that is slowly starting to grow legs across the blogosphere, Ottawa's First Place Pregnancy Centre is suing Planned Parenthood Ottawa for comments issued in a press release that eventually resulted in First Place withdrawing from the Ottawa's Senators' Better Halves (hockey wives and girlfriends) annual tree raffle.

Along with Kids Help Phone and Harmony House -- an Ottawa-area women's shelter -- First Place was to split up to $150,000 in support of its services. That's no small chunk of change for an organization that receives no government funding.

Yet, when one examines the entire controversy, one uncovers a not-so-subtle layer of controversy under Canada's feminist establishment, wherein they enforce a deeply-ingrained need to attempt to set the public agenda and allow no deviation whatsoever -- even from public organizations.

A significant portion of the tale revolves around author, journalist and activist Heather Mallick's direct intervention in the matter with Sens Foundation Dave Ready.

Before we can get to that, however, it's actually quite interesting to examine the verbal beating that Mallick heaps upon the Sens Better Halves and, in the process, any and all women who choose to date or marry hockey players:

"I hate picking on women. We're born at a disadvantage and in our wild flailing to stay afloat, we make such easy targets. But really, do the wives and girlfriends of the Ottawa Senators have to dress up in matching pink team sweaters and call their ad hoc union "The Better Halves?"

It's bad enough that these women have hooked up with bruised artist-athletes with careers of inevitably brief span, sold by hockey corporations as if they were cans of Spam, shipped around the continent without notice, thus dooming their wives' careers from the start. But must The Better Halves bully young pregnant women during their own brush with greatness? I'd like to ask the nice ladies about this, but these shy creatures are as hard to track down as the tiny, near-extinct, muntjac deer.

It isn't terribly relevant to the topic at hand, and it's because it isn't all that relevant to the topic that the attack on the poor ladies -- who were only trying to support some local charities -- wasn't all that relevant in the first place.

That aside, Mallick took such a personal interest in the matter in which she called up Ready and allegedly took him on a tour of the First Place website, through several links which don't seem to exist on the site. Birth Pangs' blogger Fern Hill insists that the links were later removed from the site (something which actually is in the realm of possibility, but hard to accept without proof that they existed in the first place).

This, like Mallick's attack on the Sens Wives, is actually largely immaterial. What is really of interest here is Mallick's attitudes toward the entire episode:

"The problem is worse than just some hockey fans inadvertently donating to a cause they may oppose — that is a personal issue between a fan and her team (in my case, the Canadiens). What irks is that our tax dollars are involved.

The raffle money is channelled through the Sens Foundation, the team's registered charity arm, which is matching every dollar raised by The Better Halves.

Not only does the foundation, which normally does good — make that wonderful — things appear to be breaking Revenue Canada's rules for charities, it is breaking its own rules.

Both the taxman and the foundation agree that donations can only support registered charities. They can't support "political or lobby" or "advocacy or special interest groups." And they shouldn't.

As it turns out, Mallick is actually wrong about two things.

First off, First Place Pregnancy Centre is a registered charity, as the CBC story later notes.

But Mallick herself seems to be overlooking the fact that, for decades in this country, Status of Women Canada has provided funding to various pro-abortion groups. There is clearly absolutely no question that money came from the pockets of Canadian taxpayers, including taxpayers would probably would not have supported such groups.

Yet Mallick, in an article appearing in Chatelaine magazine, makes it perfectly apparent that she believes that taxpayers should be obligated to support the causes she thinks they should, regardless of whether or not they actually agree with it, when she accuses the Harper government of misogyny over the changes made to Status of Women Canada:

"Stephen Harper has crushed Status of Women. The federal agency no longer fights for "equality," that dirty word having been removed from its mandate. No, this now-puny agency exists "to facilitate women's participation in Canadian society by addressing their economic, social and cultural situation through Canadian organizations."

I don't know what that means – that we can now purchase tampons tax-free at the local Legion Hall? Or get our driveways shovelled gratis? – but it does signal that the Conservatives don't like women, especially the ones who speak up.

Of course, not all Canadians agreed with the means under which the Status of Women operates. Particularly troublesome was the program portion effectively culled from the Status of Women -- advocacy, which comes with a double-shot of zero accountability (no accountability in terms of how money granted for "advocacy" is actually spent, and no accountability for results).

Yet when the government moves to shift funding away from wasteful non-services like "advocacy" toward actual services, Mallick joins the chorus of objections.

Here's where the rampant hypocrisy comes in. When the federal government dumps millions of dollars into programs that often pursue causes that many Canadians wouldn't agree with and fund pet projects by special interest groups, Mallick's OK with it.

But when the Sens Better Halves choose an organization that provides actual services to women, Mallick is opposed to that. Mostly because she's opposed to the service itself:

"They exist solely to prevent abortion," Mallick writes. "Terri Mazik, executive director of First Place, sent out a press release attacking 'our colleagues at Planned Parenthood' for their press release. She says First Place makes its position clear by saying it doesn't do "abortion referrals," ignoring the fact that no one does. Referrals aren't necessary; all anyone needs is to be guided to a phone book."

Which is actually an interesting way for Mallick to ignore the fact that First Place Pregnancy centre is actually very up-front about its stance toward an abortion.

Mallick insists that "Planned Parenthood told me it frequently talks to women who went to these apparently welcoming places for counselling on the three options — abortion, adoption and parenting." (Again, the fact that the centre does not refer women for abortion, and is upfront about it should make this rather curious.) "The group says women report feeling badly treated," she adds. And certainly some of them probably would feel "badly treated" if they went to First Place seeking an abortion referral and didn't receive one.

In fact, when one examines some of the services First Place offers, one notices that they offer post-abortion recovery services for women "experiencing emotional effects after an abortion".

Many pro-abortion activists have made it quite clear what the pro-abortion lobby thinks of the very idea that some women experience depression after an abortion. They deny it, despite the various reports of depression by women who have had abortions and research that has determined that women become more vulnerable to depression following an abortion -- a risk that is much higher for women closer to their due date.

In even suggesting that abortion comes with any sort of risks at all, First Place is waaaay off the reservation in the eyes of Mallick and those who think like her.

As their method of squeezing such organizations out of existence, Mallick and likeminded activists have targeted their sources of funding -- in this case, donations from private organizations.

Yet when their own lobby groups and special interest groups are denied funding, they denounce it as a terrible injustice.

At the end of the day, the matter becomes really simple. If, as Mallick insisted, tax dollars -- whether they be provided directly or through tax deductible donations -- should be kept out of the hands of political lobbies and special interest groups, then this should certainly apply to all political lobbies and special interest groups. It should also apply to the groups that were previously funded through Status of Women, and have recently been cut off from such funds.

Of course, many of these individuals will never simply come out and admit that actions such as those of Planned Parenthood and attitudes such as Heather Mallick's are born out of an ill-conceived notion that they are entitled to a monopoly on the public agenda.

Instead, they want to accuse First Place of spreading libel chill, or want to insist that Planned Parenthood's actions are about forcing a private foundation to be apolitical.

But the fact is that they've become rather smart ideologues. They know that, when you despise the ideas that an organization stands for, the best way to erase it is to deny them funding. Whether for good or ill, that is precisely what they've accomplished in the case of First Place.

Unfortunately, this means that it will be increasingly difficult for First Place to provide services -- real services, much unlike the advocacy whose loss these individuals lament at length -- for women experiencing crisis pregnancies who may not want to choose an abortion.

As is so often the case it's these women -- who are real people, experiencing a crisis pregnancy as a real problem -- that are going to suffer for the ideological wranglings of those who insist they act on their behalf.

To top it off, Mallick and her compatriots have the gall to insist that organizations that provide these services should be denied funding if they operate according to principles considered anathema by the pro-abortion lobby. All while they insist they should be entitled to plethoras of federal funding in order to provide services of no real substance at all.

The hypocrisy is absolutely astounding.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Sheltering Iraq War Resisters is a Bad Idea

Matt Bin puts ideology before reality in plea to support "conscientious objectors"

Yesterday, Canadian Cynic spared some seething space at the Temple of Sycophantic Groupthink for Matt Bin, who has a few things to say about recent decisions reached by the Supreme Court of Canada regarding Iraq war resisters hiding in Canada.

Bin thinks that the government should intervene in the decisions and allow the resisters to stay:

"This week, the Refugee Board ruled that American war resister and Iraq veteran Corey Glass was not eligible for refugee status. He was ordered to leave Canada within 14 days, or face deportment.

Corey signed up with the National Guard in 2002 as a 20-year-old, hoping to do humanitarian work. In his own words:

"When I joined the National Guard, they told me the only way I would be in combat was if there were troops occupying the United States. I signed up to defend people and do humanitarian work filling sandbags if there was a hurricane. ... I should have been in New Orleans, not Iraq."

Yet he was deployed to Iraq in 2005, and when on leave later that year, he attempted to quit the military; when that was unsuccessful, he fled to Canada and applied for refugee status. Since then, the Canadian War Resisters Support Campaign has been working to keep him, and about 100 other known resisters, here in Canada."

It certainly does sound awful when one hears it in Glass' own words. It makes it sound as if he was the victim of a great personal deception -- he signed up to do humanitarian work, then was given an entirely different message altogether.

Yet, for someone who actually reads into the story, what emerges is actually quite different, as it turns out that Glass was working in Military Intelligence:

"In 2005, he was deployed to a U.S. base in Iraq, where he worked in military intelligence.

"Through this job I had access to lots of information about what was happening on the ground in Iraq," he said. "Through what I saw, I realized innocent people were being killed unjustly."

If Glass himself had really enlisted to be a humanitarian, one would wonder how long that notion persisted once he was assigned to military intelligence.

One wonders what role Glass imagines military intelligence officers would have played in filling sandbags in New Orleans.

Not to mention that there are all kinds of other organizations one can join in order to be a humanitarian without the risk of ever being sent off to war. They just don't pay as well as the Army does.

And while one can certainly empathize with his concern for civilian casualties -- frankly, there would be something wrong with Glass if he weren't disturbed by it -- as it also turns out, Glass did not complete his tour of duty (which he volunteered for):

" He said he tried to quit the military, but his commander told him he was simply suffering from stress and needed downtime, he said.

He went home on leave and said he was not coming back.

There certainly does remain the argument that if Glass was really suffering from stress as much as his commander believed he was, then he should have been honourably discharged.

But he wasn't. It also isn't up to the Canadian government to dictate to the American military who should or should not be honourably discharged from their army.

"So here's a clear-cut chance to demand that Dion and his party show some backbone, stand up to the CPC, and support the motion to make Canada again a safe haven from militarism.

I was a soldier myself. I have friends who are veterans of virtually every foreign mission our military has participated in since 1990. I think that one of the crowning achievements of the Chretien government was to keep us out of the Iraq quagmire -- when there was plenty of pressure on him to send us there (not least of which from Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, who, at the time, actually went around opposing the government, if you can believe). If we refused to send our own men and women there, how can we not protect other countries' men and women from the same fate?

The truth is that if Matt Bin was really such an expert on the military, he would understand a few things about the military.

Starting with the fact that every soldier serving in the United States military signed up for that service. The various forces of the United States military -- army, air force, navy, marine corps, intelligence -- are volunteer forces.

As such, there are numerous reasons why it simply isn't feasible for the Canadian government to allow Iraq war resisters to take up permanent residence in Canada.

First off, whether we like it or not, it isn't up to the Canadian government to dictate to the American government whether they may send their soldiers -- who, just to reiterate are, like the Canadian forces, volunteered for service -- to war or not.

If individuals like Corey Glass were conscripts, as were those who Canada rightfully sheltered during the Vietnam conflict, that would be another thing. But they aren't, and as Michael Ignatieff reminds us, that makes a big difference:

"Many, many very deep and and close friends of mine when I was an undergraduate at the University of Toronto came up to Canada to resist the draft. A Prime Minister that I very much admire made that a principle for Canada to give refuge to people who, for reasons of conscience, could not serve.

But I think that without pronouncing finally on the issue, I think there are some substantive differences between the situation in the '60s and the situation now. The individuals concerned volunteered for military service. The draft is not involved. Compulsion was not involved in the Iraqi case. I've met some of them personally. They volunteered for service and then came to have moral difficulties which they have every right to have. Now they want to stay.

The difficulty I have is that we are allies of the United States. Being an ally doesn't necessarily mean we approve of their policies in Iraq, but we're shoulder-to-shoulder in Afghanistan.

I'm uncomfortable about saying that people who volunteer for military service for a NATO ally should be given refuge in a country that is also an ally actively involved in combat. I'm not pronouncing finally on this, I'm just trying to be open and honest about my actual difficulty. This is an actual difficulty for me.

I don't want us to sacrifice our tradition of being a country that is a haven for people who have problems of conscience with military service, but I don't see that there is a perfect fit between what we did in the 1960s and what we're being asked for in 2007.

That is, frankly, because there is no perfect fit between the two. And while one can object to the Iraq war (as this author chooses to) for many of the same reasons one objected to Vietnam, to pretend the ordeals being faced by soldiers in each case are the same is utter logical fallacy.

To try to transform the issue into a partisan football under the same guise is simply facetious.

"It's time to help ensure that Canada remains not only a refuge from militarism, but a bastion against militarism. We can regain the moral standing we held throughout the Vietnam War by refusing to send Glass and all the other resisters back to the USA to punishment and, even worse, a forced redeployment to Iraq. We can show that Canada is strong enough to refuse to hold the bully's coat, strong enough to decide our national agenda for ourselves, strong enough to take in these victims of the US empire-building scheme."

Bin clearly vehemently wants to compare Iraq to Vietnam, and insist that the situation is the same. Except that it clearly isn't.

There's a world of difference between enlisting for military service then deciding you object to the conflict of the day and being conscripted into military service when you have no desire to serve.

As Michael Ignatieff notes, if the men were conscripts, that would be one thing. But they made a commitment that they're responsible to uphold.

If Glass had completed his required tour of duty and been stop-lossed, that would also be another thing entirely. He made his commitment, would have fulfilled it, but the American government would have violated their obligation to him.

But he didn't complete his tour, and he wasn't stop-lossed. He made a commitment to the US military, and it isn't up to the Canadian government to tell him that he shouldn't have to fulfill it.

At least Glass can make the claim -- however naive -- that he didn't expect to be shipped to Iraq because that war hadn't started yet. Afghanistan had, and he should have expected to possibly be shipped there, but Iraq was clearly well outside of Glass' expectations.

Not so for Brad McCall. McCall enlisted in the US military in 2006 -- when the war in Iraq had been in progress for three years -- then came to Canada in October 2007 because he "didn't want to kill".

"I don't want to go to Iraq because I don't want to be a war criminal," McCall would insist. "Any participation in the war in Iraq can be punishable as a war crime. The war is a criminal act, in my opinion and many countries' opinion."

McCall, in 2006, knowingly and willingly enlisted in the United States Army while it was fighting a conflict McCall denounces as a war crime, then fled to Canada when it came time to actually ship out.

If McCall really felt so strongly about the war in Iraq, one wonders just what he was doing signing up in the first place.

For his own part, however, "military expert" and "former soldier" Matt Bin seems to think that the government of Canada should be in the business of overlooking the fact that these individuals are volunteers in the first place in order to make a political statement.

"We desperately need the Liberals to take a stand for us, and for all Canadians. A majority of Canadians (64% of Ontarians, in a recent poll) want Canada to keep the resisters safe. The Liberals are the swing party, and their support for the resisters will ensure that these brave men and women will not be forced to return to the US military, and possibly to Iraq. To get the Liberals' support, we need to make sure they know that it's politically safe for them to do so."

What Bin doesn't seem to understand is that it will never be politically safe for the Canadian government to commit such an act.

For one thing, the act would have serious diplomatic consequences with our number one trading and security partner -- consequences that simply cannot be risked without appropriate justification. In the cases of Glass and McCall, at the very least, such risks can't be justified. They made a choice, and have to live with the consequences.

For another thing, such an act would have serious consequences in terms of our government's ability to send our own soldiers to war -- or even into increasingly dangerous peacekeeping operations. If we set the precedent that personnel who voluntarily enlist for military service can simply leave the country when they decide that -- for whatever reasons -- they don't want to serve, our own troops will be able to make the same argument under international law.

And the prospect of the government openly interfering in decisions made by the Supreme Court of Canada are far from the least of our concern. The government can certainly hold whatever opinion it likes regarding this matter. But government decisions are still subject to law. In this case, immigration law.

The broad comparisons struck between Vietnam war resisters and Iraq are poorly considered, and Bin (and those who share his opinion) simply haven't considered the consequences of allowing these individuals -- who volunteered for the service they're dodging -- to stay.

Allowing them to stay is a bad idea.

The Stupidest Fucking Thing in the World To Say

Clinton ices any last slim hopes of being president

If Hillary Clinton had any hope, however slim, of being the Democrat nominee for President -- let alone being elected President -- she has certainly whittled that away with some recent and ridiculously stupid comments made while on the campaign trail.

"My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right? We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California. You know I just, I don't understand it," Clinton noted when asked about the possibility of her dropping out of the race.

Of course, it's hard to believe that comment had nothing to do with the recent health problems befalling the incomparable Senator Ted Kennedy.

Clinton picked the wrong time to try and pander to the Kennedy family, and in the worst possible way.

Clinton's apology aside, it's hard to look at this as anything but the final nail in her campaign's coffin. What a way to throw even the slimmest hope away.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Putting History Back on the Road

Ford restores Terry Fox van

On the same day it was reported that up to 430 manufacturing jobs may be headed the way of the Galaxie, the Ford Motor Company gave Canadians a pretty thoughtful gift.

28 years after the incomparable Marathon of Hope, Ford has restored the 1980 Econoline Van given to Fox as a gift.

While it's probably of little comfort to the Windsor-area workers who will be out of work once Ford sorts out who is and isn't to be laid off, the restoration of the Terry Fox van is priceless beyond words.

Abortion Down in Canada

Good news regardless of which side of the debate you're on

A recently-released Stats Canada report should give Canadians with any amount of interest in the abortion debate reason to smile today, as it's been revealed that abortions in Canada declined in 2005.

In 2004, 100,039 were performed in Canada. In 2005, 96,815 abortions were performed -- a decline of 3.2%.

Most encouragingly, the number of abortions performed on women under the age of 20 continued to decline. In 2004 13.8 women in this age group out of every 1000 had obtained an abortion. In 2005, the number was reduced to 13 -- a reduction of nearly one abortion per 1000 women (it may not seem like much, but it does add up).

The abortion rate amongst this age group of women has been declining steadily since 1996 -- the year in which that rate peaked at 18.9.

This is good news for anyone with any amount of interest in the abortion debate, regardless of whether they hold pro-abortion or anti-abortion views.

However, the findings do have implications for the way the debate will continue to be framed. Previous studies reveal that the lower numbers are due not to teenagers having less sex, but rather due to teenagers having less unprotected sex.

Those who also oppose birth control will find their lives made significantly more difficult. After all, if abortion really is as morally repugnant as they insist it is, they should approve of -- or at least be willing to tolerate -- anything that leads to a reduction in abortion. It's very simple logic.

And while abstinence education certainly does have a place in sex-ed classrooms (but never at the expense of education on birth control and contraception), the idea of "programming" teenagers and regulating their lives so they cannot have sex will never work.

Where there's a will, there's a way. If teenagers are going to continue to have sex -- and in a society as sexualized (be it for good or ill) as ours we simply know they will -- we would be better served to ensure they're having it as safely as possible.

The continuing decline in abortion numbers is proof enough of that. It's something for all Canadians to feel encouraged about. Anti-abortion activists should feel encouraged that fewer abortions are being performed. Pro-abortion activists should be satisfied that birth control and contraception may one day make the abortion controversy itself obsolete -- although those days (if they ever arrive) are way off in the distant future.

And while abortion will continue to pose key ethical dilemmas to our society (dilemmas regarding, for example, how late women will be allowed to obtain abortions, and what methods can be used), it should be a source of comfort for Canadians to know the realities underlying the issue are moving in what very much should be a mutually satisfying direction.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Coming Soon to An Election Near You

Senate elections coming to Saskatchewan

When Prime Minister Stephen Harper appointed Bert Brown to the Senate, Brown became the second elected "Senator-in-waiting" appointed to the Red Chamber. The first was Stan Waters, who was reluctantly appointed by Brian Mulroney after winning an election.

With Senate elections in Alberta proving to be a modest success -- to date, only two elected Senators have been appointed, and in 2004 20% of Albertans chose to spoil their Senatorial ballot -- it was only a matter of time before Senate elections came to other provinces.

British Columbia followed Alberta's lead in 1997, although it has yet to hold a single Senatorial election. As of this fall, the Land of Living Skies is apparently going to become the third.

"I have always found it troubling that our Senate has been appointed rather than elected," said Saskatchewan party MLA, Justice Minister and Attorney General. "So when the opportunity started to manifest itself that we could have the potential for elected senators without going through full constitutional reform, I thought 'this is a good idea.' Our premier thought it was a good idea, so we started to go forward with it."

This follows a bill introduced by Harper that would implement the system on a federal basis -- a bill that has seemingly made little progress despite significant public support.

Naturally, there are those who don't like the idea of reforming Canada's aristocratic branch of government. In particular, Liberal leader Stephane Dion dismissed the bill as "completely, completely irresponsible."

For their own part, the NDP want to outright abolish the Senate -- a move that would actually come with some rather frightening implications.

If resistance to Senate reform continues to be so fierce, the only way to accomplish this worthy and necessary goal may be province-by-province.

The province of Saskatchewan should be applauded for making this bold move. The opportunity to elect Senators in Saskatchewan is as overdue as anywhere else in the country (exempting, naturally, Alberta).

Bravo, Saskatchewan.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Unrepentant Old Hippie: Reporting From the Land of Oz

Opponents to Bill C-484 continue to live in a fantasy world

One really has to hand it to Canada's pro-abortion lobby: they really are determined to live in a fantasy world, and nothing -- nothing -- can shake them out of it.

Readers of the Nexus may recall some recent flights of fantasy from Joyce Arthur, the coordinator of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, wherein Arthur promoted hysteria surrounding the Bill.

In a post today, JJ -- also known as the Unrepentant Old Hippie -- chooses to indulge herself in her own flight of pure fantasy, in which she suggests that, by golly, proponents of Bill C-484 just can't explain how Bill C-484 would protect pregnant women:

"Oh, I'm boiling over now. Yeoww! I just read an editorial that ran a few days ago in the Ottawa Citizen, written by MP Ken Epp, sponsor of the nefarious Bill C-484 (aka the Kicking Abortion's Ass bill). In the article, Epp wondered why pro-choicers would be so anxious about his harmless little Kicking Abortion's Ass bill. He huffed:

"There is something seriously wrong with our system when the so-called "right" to end a pregnancy takes away another pregnant woman's right to have her wanted baby protected in law."

Fetus fetishists foamed and frothed and cheered, and who could blame them -- that's one of the greatest PR slogans since "Coke Is It". Short, emotive and completely devoid of substance. That's why those who support this odious bill are never able to respond when asked to elaborate on just how Bill C-484 protects a woman and/or her fetus. No substance, no answer forthcoming."

Oh, no?

Perhaps it would shock JJ to find out that the -- extremely simple -- answer to that question has been provided. In fact, it's been provided right here:

"If individuals like [Gary] Bourgeois had to worry about facing charges related to crimes against two victims, the deterrent would be that much stronger.

What, after all, would make a stronger deterrent: a few extra years in jail for crimes against a single victim? Or (providing that consecutive sentencing is instituted) 26 years for crimes against two victims?

And here:

"to pretend that Bill C-484 will do nothing to reduce violence ignores the very principles upon which criminal law protects society: punishment, rehabilitation and deterrent.

Under current law, an individual who kills an unborn child without killing the mother will be charged with aggravated assault at worst. Under Bill C-484, that individual would be charged with murder, which covers a much higher penalty, and thus a greater deterrent. It certainly won't prevent all violence against pregnant women and their unborn children, but it will be a start.

This principle remains rather simple: in Canada, aggravated assault carries a maximum sentence of 14 years.

Murder, on the other hand, carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. First degree murder, in particular, carries a penalty of an automatic life sentence with no eligibility of parole for 25 years.

Under Bill C-484, an individual who attacks a pregnant woman and kills her child without killing her would be charged with at least a count of aggravated assault (against the mother) and murder (to whatever degree applicable) against her unborn child.

Thus, the deterrent is much stronger.

This particular point really uncovers the implicit irony in JJ's argument: she insists that no proponent of Bill C-484 has explained how the bill would help protect women -- a claim that is categorically false.

"Here's the substance, baby, the meat of the matter: Bill C-484 does nothing, diddly, squat, nada to protect a woman's wanted baby, and any rhetoric about the "protection" this bill provides is nothing but a steaming load of bullshit of the highest order. All C-484 does, and all it was ever meant to do, is give the fetus post-mortem recognition as a victim of a crime. From there it's a short hop to fetal personhood rights, and then the contentious issue of whose rights trump in the event of an unwanted pregnancy."

Yet, JJ and her ilk have yet to explain to anyone how the bill wouldn't protect women, and have yet to explain how some of their propositions -- in particular, universal child care -- would.

Furthermore, in the United States, 37 states have enacted Fetal Homicide Bills, and they have yet to lead to a wholesale outlawing of abortion as the pro-abortion movement insists that it would.

But that's the appeal of living in a fantasy world: one can pretend that such simple facts aren't so -- a luxury individuals like JJ wouldn't enjoy if they were to wake up to the real world.

Talking Themselves to Death, Bloggy Edition

Just because you can produce a talk radio show doesn't mean you should

For the last several days, the internet has been abuzz with the vicious ass-whipping delivered to Kevin James, a talk radio host.

James' irredeemable stupidity aside, as well as Chris Matthews' blatant oversimplification of the issue at hand (talking to terrorists is one thing, but the notion of negotiating is another entirely and in the absence of negotiation, is there really much point? This is a valid question), the matter quickly becomes a cautionary tale.

Just because you can go on broadcast media and shout yourself hoarse doesn't mean you should. At the very least, someone should stop and think for a couple of seconds before they do that.

Take, for example, Brass Balls Radio, a new online talk radio show being offered by Girl on the Right's Wendy Sullivan. The internet has continually offered those so inclined more and more tools to express themselves in various media formats.

But just because someone can express themselves in these formats doesn't mean they shouldn't stop for thirty seconds and think about it before they do.

The inaugural program, recorded on May 17, and co-hosted with Mike Williams, is an agonizing, amateurish mish-mash of thoughtless throw-away comments.

"I hear Nancy Pelosi is in Iraq, I think she's fighting with the Taliban although I'm not sure," Sullivan says at one point. "It's kind of funny considering she was in Israel the other day. I think it's quite possible that she just stole secrets and sold them to little brown people."

"Are you saying, then, that her lips are not filled with collagen? That they're filled with C-4 and she's smuggling it across the border?" she asks her co-host.

"She could be injecting C-4 in her ass, too," Williams replies. "That's unconfirmed."

"You know I've never really looked at her from behind and I'm OK with that," Sullivan adds. "She's got an OK face, considering it's made of some of Cher's ex-body parts."

On one hand, someone could certainly write such comments off as the "unavoidable humour" Sullivan promises at the start of the broadcast. On the other hand, the comments really do speak for themselves.

"When your parents are babyboomers, the most spoiled generation in history -- the first generation to have colour TV, and two cars in the driveway, the first generation to go to University -- they just don't know how to live in the real world," Sullivan insists. "They've never been hungry. They've never had to work for a living. They had everything handed to them."

"We've had the hedonistic generation and in my lifetime, mercifully, they're going to die," Sullivan adds.

If there was any substance following such comments, one would consider some response other than "holy shit".

When Sullivan and Williams finally get down to discussing some things that they probably imagine has some substance, they don't do much better for themselves.

"I don't think we should have sent more troops into Iraq, I think we should have sent hookers," Sullivan latter opines. "I think we should have sent planes full of prostitutes to just calm them the fuck down."

This is shortly after dismissing Islam as a religion of "sex and death", and before recategorizing Islam as a "dangerous, dangerous religion of sex and death."

"Seriously, they need to get laid," Sullivan adds. "Islam needs to get laid. Not by force like they usually do -- because really, don't have a Muslim at a party where girls are drinking, trust me."

"Whenever you see religions of sex and death the FBI is usually busting them up. How come marrying off children and polygamy is only illegal when white people are doing it?" Sullivan asks.

"It's only illegal when the white guy does it," Sullivan complains. "But when a brown guy marries off his 12-year-old daughter to some Pakistani she's never met or has sex with her -- but only anally to keep her virginity -- or has four wives (which, here in Ontario, they're all collecting welfare for their wives -- isn't that nice? Welfare for four wives! All of them! Get a job or get out), it's not illegal, it's their culture!"

"Only illegal when the white guy does it," Sullivan concludes.

And this is only if one can get through the agonizing extended discussion of what computers they have. Good grief.

One would think that they would have stopped to think for about thirty seconds before opening their mouths. After all, it isn't as if there are people out to get them.

Talk radio has been almost overwhelmingly dominated by conservative commentators over the past several years. But unfortunately, all too many of these commentators -- Kevin James, Wendy Sullivan and Mike Williams alike -- are simply talking themselves, and any credibility they would wish to lay claim to, to death.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Joyce Arthur Continues Down the Yellow Brick Road

Abortion Rights Coalition coordinator continues to peddle hysteria, disinformation, false choice

Ever since the debate surrounding Bill C-484 -- the unborn victims of crime bill -- has intensified, one thing that has stood the test of time is the pro-abortion lobby's refusal to engage in honest debate on the topic.

For her own part, the Coordinator of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (and self-Googler) Joyce Arthur has continued to take her message to the places where it will receive the least possible scrutiny -- in this case, an article in Edmonton's Vue Weekly.

The article starts off rather predictably:

"In March, a new law that gives fetuses legal personhood passed second reading in the House of Commons. This bill threatens both abortion rights and the rights of women in general."

Arhur certainly wants her readers to believe so. What follows is nothing more than a folly of hysteria, disinformation and false choice.

"Bill C-484, the 'Unborn Victims of Crime Act,' creates a separate offence for injuring or killing a fetus when a pregnant woman is attacked. The language of the bill is unprecedented, basically transforming fetuses and embryos into persons with rights. The bill has a clause that specifically negates the Criminal Code definition of 'human being.' Currently, a child becomes a human being when it has exited the birth canal alive, but Bill C-484 says this definition is not a defence for injuring or killing a fetus. In other words, the fetus is a human being under Bill C-484."

Arthur is, unfortunately, right about this. The Canadian criminal code arbitrarily states that an unborn child is not a person until it is born alive.

That law is written. However, just because a law is written doesn't mean it's right or just.

Canadian law has adhered to other arbitrary definitions of personhood before. In particular, Canadian law once only recognized wealthy white individuals with penises as persons (read: property-owning white males).

It took long, hard agitation on behalf of various "radicals" such as Nellie McClung and Carrie Derrick in order to change that unjust legal issue.

Ironically, it's taking long and hard agitation on behalf of others, now being dismissed as "radicals" (as if radicalism is now such a bad thing) who would likely insist they're anything but radical.

"The bill does contain an exemption for “lawful” abortion, and exempts pregnant women themselves from prosecution for harming their fetuses."

It's good to hear the pro-abortion lobby finally acknowledge this, but unfortunately, they've only insisted on engaging in protracted rhetorical gymnastics in order to argue around this simple fact.

"However, the bill sets a very dangerous precedent because it can be used as authority to give more rights to fetuses in new contexts. For example, legislators can cite the act to justify re-criminalizing abortion. Judges could interpret other laws meant for protecting children to compel pregnant women to meet a standard of care for their fetuses."

Of course, those people who are actually familiar with the bill itself know this to be untrue.

Certainly, legislators could attempt to cite the bill as justification for re-criminalization of abortion -- something an admittedly disturbing number of grassroots social conservatives support -- but they would still have to pass a law to actually recriminalize abortion, which would have to pass not only through Parliament (in itself an unlikely feat), but also through several committees (a doubly unlikely feat), and the Senate (something almost entirely implausible).

Any Judges who felt so compelled certainly could try to interpret other laws in such a way -- but they could not use Bill C-484 in order to do it, because it explicitly exempts any act of omission or commission on behalf of the mother.

Even if a Judge did try to set such a precedent, it would still have to pass through several appeals -- including, inevitably, one before the Supreme Court.

The likelihood of such a ruling surviving is extremely slim. Not only did the Supreme Court of Canada set the precedent that fetuses do not qualify as persons until they exit the birth canal, but Canadian courts have consistently set precedents that are alarmingly dismissive of the victimization of the unborn child.

If Bill C-484 really does pose such an imminent threat to women, that threat certainly won't come about as a result of the acts of legislators or courts.

As for Arthur's point about compelling women to "meet a standard of care for their fetuses" (read: unborn children), one would wonder why Arthur and her ilk are so opposed to something as implicitly reasonable as that.

"So-called “fetal homicide” laws in the United States have been used primarily to target pregnant women—not third parties as the laws intended. Hundreds of American women have been arrested under fetal homicide laws, or under child endangerment laws that cite a fetal homicide law as authority. Most of these women are poor minority women, and have drug or alcohol abuse problems. But some women have also been charged with murder after suffering a stillbirth, in one case after not following a doctor’s recommendation to have a Caesarean section. Is this the road we want to go down in Canada?"

Once again, all of this falsely assumes that Canadian law operates according to the same nuances as American law. Simply not so.

Beyond that, many of the cases sited by the pro-abortion lobby in support of this point are promoted under extremely dubious interpretations.

In most of these cases, the women charged and prosecuted were either knowingly and willingly using drugs or alcohol while pregnant -- something that, quite frankly, Canadian law should address.

In one particular cited case from 1973, Claudia Tucker chose to shoot herself in the abdomen in order to terminate an eight month pregnancy. She (a mother of two) would later claim she didn't know she was pregnant until after it was too late to get an abortion. But in the United States women are allowed to seek abortions until their pregnancy has reached 23 weeks.

It's impossible to believe that a woman pregnant twice previously wouldn't know the signs of pregnancy until it was too late.

And this is only one example of the extreme intellectual dishonesty under which Joyce Arthur and like minded pro-abortion zealots have resorted to in order to push their agenda.

"Bill C-484 conflicts not only with the Criminal Code definition of human being, but with important legal precedents. The Supreme Court of Canada has decisively ruled in several cases that fetuses are not legal persons, and a woman and her fetus are 'physically one.' We cannot compromise women’s established constitutional rights in order to give rights to fetuses. Creating a legal separation between a pregnant woman and her fetus has tragic and punitive results. For example, pregnant women in the US will forego pre-natal care completely if they fear arrest for drug abuse."

In the same vein, however, for generations British Common law treated women and children as the property of their husbands. Because the British Constitution is unwritten and exists only in the form of various legal precedents, emancipating the legal status of women from their husbands very much did compromise what was considered a Constitutional right of British men -- and Canadian men as well, seeing as how the Canadian constitution wasn't repatriated until 1982.

Very few proper-thinking people will pretend that the lack of legal recognition of women as persons wasn't unjust. To claim it's any less unjust to explicitly define other human beings as "not persons" is an absolute embarrassment to the social tradition of feminism.

Perhaps such mothers will decline to seek pre-natal care in order to dodge responsibility for the harm they're doing their children. But law should still have mechanisms in place to take children from such clearly unfit parents.

"We all want to protect pregnant women from violence, but this bill is the wrong tool, and unnecessary. Judges already have the discretion to apply harsher penalties in these cases, and they have done so. But what’s really needed are substantive measures to prevent domestic violence, including more supports for abused women, more public education and better enforcement of existing criminal laws against violence."

But, as already shown, not only does the law not recognize the second victim. Considering that -- as the Olivia/Lane Talbot (Jr) case shows us -- unborn children can be targeted quite deliberately, it is simply logically remiss to pretend an unborn child can't be a victim.

What Joyce Arthur is actually proposing here is a false choice. She suggests that Canadian law can either prosecute crimes committed against unborn children -- and if they can be deliberately targeted (as the Gary Bourgeois case also confirms) they can be victims -- or address domestic abuse issues.

But this is a false choice because Canadian law faces no such law -- it can (and should) do both.

"We need a range of equality-advancing programs and policies that would help women leave abusive relationships, such as measures to reduce poverty, racism and economic inequality, as well as a childcare program. But these are all the things that the Harper government is not doing, or has reduced or taken away outright."

Certainly, these are all things that Arthur must believe Canadians need. Some of them (poverty reduction measures, racism reduction, and assisting women in leaving abusive relationships certainly are) but how some of these things -- particularly child care -- would help reduce crimes committed against pregnant women and, by extension, their unborn children, Arthur would have to elaborate on more than a little.

"Prime Minister Harper promised that a Conservative government would not legislate on abortion, but this is exactly what is happening, not just with Bill C-484, but with two other Conservative private member bills introduced last fall. Bill C-338 would re-criminalize abortion by prohibiting abortions after 20 weeks gestation. Bill C-537 would guarantee the 'right' of medical personnel to refuse to provide medical care for religious reasons, which would mostly restrict women’s ability to access contraception and abortion care."

First off, however, recent polls have found that 72% of Canadians favour some regulation of abortion. A previous poll found that 64% of Canadians support legally protecting the fetus before birth (although they disagreed about at what point of the pregnancy this protection would begin).

Furthermore, Arthur once again chooses to discard honesty in order to promote her argument. Putting a time limit in place of abortion would actually put Canada in line with other countries where abortion limits have been put in place, yet have failed to result in an outright criminalization (or re-criminalization) of abortion.

But Arthur's opposition to legislation such as Bill C-537 really shows what the issue is about for Canada's "pro-choice" movement, and it certainly isn't about choice. If the issue were really about choice, they would support the right of physicians to not perform procedures they find ethically objectionable.

To pretend that such a bill would limit access to contraception is specious at best and facetious at worst. The bill would do nothing to limit a woman's access to other doctors -- doctors willing to prescribe contraception as sought -- nor would it prevent access to contraception in a day and age when condoms are available in virtually every corner store, and in the bathrooms of (often less-than-reputable) gas stations.

"Bill C-484 is a radical bill because it positions the fetus as a woman’s co-equal. By focusing on fetuses, not injured pregnant women, the bill is offensive to the full humanity of all women, not just pregnant women. The not-so-hidden agenda of the bill is to recognize the 'rights of the unborn' so that abortion can be restricted in the future. Indeed, fetal personhood is a long-standing objective of the anti-abortion movement."

Frankly, the idea that fetuses cannot be allowed to have any rights of any form is offensive to the full -- and indisputable -- humanity of unborn children. The very full -- and indisputable -- humanity that the pro-abortion (not pro-choice) movement moves rhetorical heaven and earth to deny when they dismiss fetuses as "nothing but a clump of cells", as opposed to the human life that it is.

"Only about 20 organizations across Canada officially support Bill C-484, and every last one of them is right-wing, religious and/or anti-abortion.

Not a single mainstream women’s group supports the bill. But the 100 groups opposing the bill so far are diverse: they include anti-violence groups, women’s shelters, medical organizations, legal associations, drug policy groups, labour unions, anti-racist groups and a broad range of women’s groups. None of these groups were even consulted on the bill before it was introduced by a Conservative, anti-abortion MP. They oppose the bill now because they know it won’t work to reduce violence against women. They already know that the best way to protect fetuses is to guarantee the rights and safety of pregnant women, because when a pregnant woman is safe, so is her fetus.

Arthur is again indulging herself in protracted intellectual dishonesty. To pretend that the opposition to Bill C-484 is more legitimate because it comes from such "diverse" groups is a specious claim.

Not only do the varying groups that Arthur cites not truly represent a diversity of opinion on any particular topic, but often they possess significant overlap of membership.

But to pretend that Bill C-484 will do nothing to reduce violence ignores the very principles upon which criminal law protects society: punishment, rehabilitation and deterrent.

Under current law, an individual who kills an unborn child without killing the mother will be charged with aggravated assault at worst. Under Bill C-484, that individual would be charged with murder, which covers a much higher penalty, and thus a greater deterrent. It certainly won't prevent all violence against pregnant women and their unborn children, but it will be a start.

No one rejects the idea that Canada needs stronger laws to address domestic abuse. But to pretend that the fruits of ideology could supplant one of the basic underlying principles of criminal law is utter folly.

To pretend that Canadian law should cave in to hysteria, disinformation and false choice is the height of such folly.

John McCain (Barely) Not Acting His Age

McCain out"hipping" his younger opponents

It would be a severe exaggeration to suggest that American pop culture lives and breathes by Saturday Night Live. This has been the case before -- twice before, and ever-so-briefly on each occasion -- but certainly not now.

That being said, John McCain continued to beat his two younger potential opponents to the pop culture punch this week, as he appeared on NBC's Saturday Night Live.

Of course, not even American comedy lives and breathes by Saturday Night Live. If anything, the America comedy world orbits around Jon Stewart's The Daily Show (which, to date, has produced comedy superstars like Stephen Colbert and Steve Carell, and up-and-coming stars like John Oliver and Rob Corddry).

McCain has appeared on the Daily Show more often than any other guest (11 times).

McCain's certainly joking when he asserts that he has "the oldness" to defend and honour America (although, if such a trait were required, he certainly has it). But even at 72 years of age, he's still young at heart -- with the sense of humour of a man half his age.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Apologetic Government

Harper government to apologize twice more

Rarely have the words "I'm sorry" come so easily to a government.

When Stephen Harper raises in Parliament on 11 June to deliver an apology for the abuses that took place in Canada's Residential Schools, he will deliver the third major apology of his tenure in office.

On 22 June, 2006, Harper apologized for the Chinese Head Tax. On 26 January, 2007, Harper apologized to Maher Arar for the rendition ordeal he experienced as a result of the RCMP's disclosure of inaccurate information.

Harper's apology for the Residential School travesty won't even be his last. It's recently been revealed that Harper will also deliver an apology for the Komagata Maru incident of 1914.

While these apologies -- all of them long, long overdo (with the exception of the Maher Arar apology, which was delivered fairly promptly) -- certainly don't erase historical injustice, they're a worthwhile first step on the road to recovery.

While some people naturally won't like it, these apologies are necessary.

Good for Stephen Harper (good for Canada).

Moral Puritans of the Hateful Left Redux

Surprise! Conservatives like sex, too

In a post today at the Canadian Cynic Temple of Sycophantic Groupthink, Groupthinking High Preistess Lulu wants to take issue with Mesopotamia West's Frank and some "erotica" he published on his blog.

Now, as it turns out, the story in question is actually some excessively tame stuff.

But this whole tale -- a rather pitiful excuse for criticism -- really just goes to show you that maybe these douchebags at the Groupthink Temple just don't know what the internet is for in the first place:

Friday, May 16, 2008

Clinton's Foreign Policy Casts Shadow Over Potential Superticket

Bill Clinton's legacy of lax foreign policy poses dilemma for Obama/Hillary ticket

With the Democrat Presidential nomination pretty much decided -- the prospects of a Hillary Clinton comeback are very dim indeed -- the biggest question on many people's minds is: who will Barack Obama's running mate be?

Although one has cause to wonder whether or not the intensity of the ill will between the Clinton and Obama camps will prevent it, many people have been speculating on the appeal of an Obama/Clinton superticket -- among them Fidel Castro.

But considering the challenges facing the United States at this time (in particular, the war on terror), an Obama/Clinton superticket would have one key -- possibly insurmountable -- weakness: foreign policy.

While it's extremely difficult to find a US President who doesn't compare favourably to the current President in foreign policy, Bill Clinton is actually only barely one of them. Bill Clinton's foreign policy legacy will certainly not be what Clinton wants to be remembered for.

To pretend that Bill Clinton wouldn't be a fixture in any administration his wife is involved with smacks of naivete. And that is why Clinton's foreign policy record will be so troublesome for a potential superticket.

Some key episodes in Bill Clinton's foreign policy record include withdrawing US troops from the Peacekeeping mission in Somalia, ineffectual responses to Al Qaeda terrorist attacks (although one would be remiss to fail to mention that Clinton made Osama Bin Laden a top priority for US intelligence services), failing to respond to genocide in Rwanda, credibility-demolishing flip flops in regards to Bosnia-Herzegovina and rejected Haitian refugees after a coup d'etat in that country.

Clinton also failed to submit the Kyoto protocol to the Senate for ratification -- a move that is devastating to his credibility vis a vis climate change.

Clinton did have some successes. He manged to bring Slobodan Milosevic's ethnic cleansing of Kosovars to a halt, effectively contained Saddam Hussein in Iraq and fostered some key peace agreements in the Middle East.

But if Clinton's foreign policy record looks strong compared to that of George W Bush, it's only because he's being compared to George W Bush.

Of the lowlights of Clinton's foreign policy record, the most damning is his response to US casualties in the battle of Mogadishu. When public opinion in the US turned against the peacekeeping mission in Somalia, Clinton withdrew American troops from Somalia, posing the UN mission with a serious credibility issue.

It would later be discovered that the militants who perpetrated the ambush that set off the incident had been trained by Al Qaeda. Though Clinton certainly took Al Qaeda seriously enough later in his Presidency, his early failures cast a shadow over his entire presidency.

Clinton demonstrated he is not willing to pay a political price in order to support his country's interests abroad, or even to do the right thing. He would confirm it when genocide broke out in Rwanda, when American officials insisted that 100,000 Rwandans would have to die in order to justify risking a single American life.

Given the particular foreign policy challenges the United States faces today, Bill Clinton's foreign policy record will pose a lot of uncomfortable questions in the -- admittedly unlikely -- event that Hillary Clinton is named Obama's Vice Presidential nominee.

John McCain will certainly continue to face uncomfortable questions of his own. But at least he can offer a consistent answer to those questions: something that neither Obama nor Hillary Clinton have done.

This is perhaps only one more reason why the superticket -- or "Frankenticket" -- may not come to pass.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Religious Intolerance By Any Other Name

Is still religious intolerance

Let it never be said that Canadian Cynic doesn't have his uses. They're few and far between, but he does have them.

Coming to us via the perennially-crazed Lulu at Canadian Cynic today is the Atheist Conservative, who has an imaginary bone to pick with Stephane Dion over whether or not Dion is a Scientologist:

"I don’t want to assert to [sic] heavily here, as I don’t have any evidence besides Stéphane’s own writings.

What concerns me is his recent "Bridge to the Future" plan. It smells like Scientology. It stinks like Scientology, I should say. The Scientology belief is that people progress along a "Bridge" to unlock their personal inner power.

I ravaged the internet and could only find cursory hints that Stéphane might have links to Scientology, but nothing definite.

We need to hammer this quickly. If Stéphane Dion is a Scientologist, he needs to be resign from public life for the betterment of the entire country.

I know I’ve got a bit of tinfoil-hattery going on here, but I think, in this case, it’s healthy. It’s possible, and it would be nice to see politico’s distance themselves from this dangerous, murderous cult.

What "Loreweaver" seems to be taking issue with is an essay Dion published in Policy Options Magazine. Ironically, the opening paragraph casts a long shadow over Loreweaver's post. For once, Stephane Dion -- allegedly a very poor communicator -- has said something I couldn't say better myself:

"As the party of the centre in Canada, the Liberal Party
of Canada spent much of its history building an
inclusive country.

While I contend that the Liberal party certainly hasn't built our "inclusive country" all on its own (consider that the alleged centrepiece of the Liberal party's accomplishments is the Charter of Rights and Freedoms originally written as the Bill of Rights by John Diefenbaker), the ultimate premise of Loreweaver's post -- that Scientologists are somehow unfit to hold public office by simple virtue of being Scientologists -- flies directly in the face of the inclusive country that Canadians have built together.

In the long and short of it, Loreweaver takes exception to the very gall of Dion to use a bridge metaphor in the article. (Apparently, Scientology uses a lot of bridge metaphors as well.) He then uses this as an opportunity to jump to the conclusion that Dion is a Scientologist, and thus unfit for public office.

For its own part, Dion's article is often a historical revisionist flight of fancy -- imagining that the Liberals built programs such as Universal Health Care because they believed in them, not leveraging the survival of their minority government because it was demanded by Tommy Douglas and the NDP -- but it's really just a regular recounting of Dion's policy beliefs. None of it seems terribly religious in any regard.

But Loreweaver's attitude really underlies what is all too often a rash streak of religious intolerance underlying the beliefs of the most devout fundamentalist atheists.

The argument put forth is that Scientology is inherently menacing to public policy, and that any Scientologist should be immediately disqualified from holding public office because of their religious beliefs.

Such attitudes have been seen before. In the United States, hostility to Catholicism became the basis for discrimination against Irish immigrants, who were viewed as potential traitors to the United States (it was assumed their first loyalties would always be to the Pope).

This hostility was so deeply rooted that John F Kennedy became the first Catholic President of the United States in 1961 -- nearly two hundred years after the United States was established.

The hysteria that took root then is ultimately the same as the hysteria that takes root now: particular candidates should be considered unfit for public office because they can't be trusted not to govern according to their religious views. The argument raised by Loreweaver against Dion is ironically the same argument raised by countless other "concerned parties" (who often also identify themselves as atheists) against Mike Huckabee, who reportedly believes in creationism.

Yet both the United States and Canada have both been governed by religious people beliefs ever since the establishment of either country. The "imminent disaster" that so many critics, like Loreweaver, site when insisting that individuals with unsavory (or, as is the case with Scientology, kooky) religious beliefs be considered unfit for public office has yet to materialize.

There are, of course, scenarios in which an individual has embraced religions refined into political ideologies -- this is the case with the most militant Muslims and Christians -- who, one hopes, the public at large will reject if they can't be trusted not to govern according to religious dogma.

But such is hardly the case with Dion. In the short run, Loreweaver's entire argument becomes more than a little pointless, as it turns out that Stephane Dion is a non-practicing Catholic. Not a Scientologist.

But even if Dion were a Scientologist, his worthiness for public office should be assessed according to his political beliefs, not his religious beliefs.

To declare him unqualified by simple virtue of his religion is the height of religious intolerance -- bigotry that, unfortunately, the most extreme fundamentalist atheists are more than willing to promote as "sensible" and "rational".

But never in the history of the world has bigotry -- flat-out bigotry -- been "sensible" or "rational". Mostly because bigotry is born in the most insensible and irrational places the human heart has to offer.

Ironically, this is a lesson that Cynic and his ilk have to learn as well -- but that's another story for another day.

Contest Over

Edwards endorses Obama

As the months-long campaign for the Democrat Presidential nomination has drawn on, contenders Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have both been looking to land that perfect knockout punch -- either at the polls, or in terms of key endorsements.

Yesterday, Barack Obama has probably landed that punch. It was rumored to be months in coming.

As reported at length virtually everywhere American politics is reported on, yesterday former candidate John Edwards endorsed Barack Obama for president.

"Democratic voters have made their choice, and so have I," Edwards announced.

"There is one man who knows and understands that this is a time for bold leadership. There is one man that knows how to create the change, the lasting change, that you have to build from the ground up," he added. "There is one man who knows in his heart there is time to create one America, not two ... and that man is Barack Obama."

Edwards took some time out to lavish some praise on Hillary Clinton, whom he reportedly considered endorsing.

"What she has shown ... is strength and character, and what drives her is something that every single one of us can and should appreciate," Edwards said. "She is a woman who, in my judgment, is made of steel, and she's a leader in this country not because of her husband but because of what she has done."

Clinton has put up a very respectable struggle, but Edwards' endorsement may have knocked her campaign down for the last time.

In terms of the delegate count, Edwards' endorsement is largely inconsequential. He has a grand total of 19 pledged delegates. None of them are obligated to support Obama, and they aren't nearly enough to secure a decisive victory.

But with Obama ahead in the popular vote, pledged delegates and even superdelegates (which Clinton had looked to as her last, best hope), Edwards support should be enough to swing enough of his supporters to transform Hillary Clinton's already-uphill climb into a sheer 90 degree grade.

Of course, given the numerous calls for Clinton to quit the race so Democrats can focus on John McCain, and Clinton's steadfast refusal to quit, to presume she'll finally throw in the towel would be more than a little bit premature.

At least we can presume Edwards finally got his Jet ski.

Partisans With Short Memories

Omar Khadr affair has serious implications for Liberal party

There's little question that the ongoing Omar Khadr affair poses a significant dilemma for Canada, one that, by necessity will eventually have to be addressed by the sitting Conservative government.

Yet as the issue continues to gather steam as a partisan issue, the Omar Khadr case has also taken on some very serious implications for the Liberal party -- implications that Romeo Dallaire and Stephane Dion don't really seem to comprehend.

"Canada is alone among Western nations in not having secured the release from Guantanamo of one of its nationals. Prime Minister Harper must finally ensure Mr. Khadr receives the same consular support that any other Canadian -- detainee or not -- would receive," Dion lectured in September 2007.

Dallaire first publicly announced his intention to agitate on Khadr's behalf on May 1 of this year.

"I'm going to be a pain. Every time I stand up in the Senate, the leader of the government knows I'm coming at her and every time she gives the same answer, she is losing more and more feathers," Dallaire said.

"There is no depth of logic in [the government's position]," Dallaire added. "There is a real smell of short-term political fiddling. There's no doubt that's influencing the decisions. It's setting up Canada to lose enormous credibility when it's being tested on one of its own people."

Of course, the problem for Dallaire -- and for the entire Liberal party -- is this: where was Romeo Dallaire before May 1, 2008?

Where was Stephane Dion and the Liberal party in July of 2002 when he was first arrested by US troops in Afghanistan?

The answer: in power.

Where was Stephane Dion and the the Liberal party on September 19, 2004 when Omar Khadr turned 18 years old?

The answer: in power. Romeo Dallaire would be appointed to the Senate the very next year.

And what did the Liberal party do to help Omar Khadr? Not a damn thing up until their ouster from office in January 2006.

This party that now wants to agitate on Khadr's behalf, and take up the mantle of human rights and clemency for child soldiers, didn't do a damn thing on Khadr's behalf when they were in power and had the ability to do so.

It's a reality regarding this affair that only serves to undermine them politically. While both men may well be legitimately concerned for Khadr's well-being -- and Dallaire's previous tragic experience with child soldiers arms him with particular credibility to this end -- their previous inaction only serves to discredit them.

As each man seeks to lecture the government from the opposition benches of their respective House, their sudden show of concern is starkly contrasted by their previous silence while sitting on the other side of the aisle.

There is a serious issue underlying the Khadr case that must be resolved.

But in order to contribute constructively, Dion and Dallaire need to cool their partisan fires, think back to all the things they didn't do when they had the opportunity, and accept their share of the responsibility for the current state of affairs vis a vis Omar Khadr.

Then we'll be one step closer to recognizing the Khadr affair for what it is: a non-partisan political issue that demands resolution.

The Toronto Star Asks:

How low will the Conservatives go?

Not this low:

This has been another Accuracy in Reporting minute.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Hillary Finds the High Road

But can she walk it?

As the campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination has drawn on, it has typically become even more contentious and even more divisive.

Hillary Clinton finally spoke out on that particular topic today, as she noted that she would prefer her supporters vote for Barack Obama should he secure the Democrat nomination.

"Anybody who has ever voted for me or voted for Barack has much more in common in terms of what we want to see happen in our country and in the world with the other than they do with John McCain," Clinton announced.

"I'm going to work my heart out for whoever our nominee is -- obviously I'm still hoping to be that nominee, but I'm going to do everything I can to make sure that anyone who supported me... understands what a grave error it would be not to vote for Senator Obama," she added.

Yesterday, Clinton won the West Virginia primary in a 41-point victory dismissed by some as irrelevant -- a win Clinton desperately needed to justify staying in the race.

But with the vast majority of observers insisting that the race has largely been decided in Obama's favour, one has to wonder if Clinton has finally found the high road so she walk it, or so she can use it to travel to a Vice Presidential nomination.

After all, one remembers some of Clinton's recent rhetoric, and remembers how low Clinton was willing to stoop in order to get -- or at least maintain -- an edge over Obama in West Virginia.

But if Clinton is resolutely determined to actually walk the high road, the prospects of a Democrat president in 2008 may have just brightened significantly, as those helping to turn the lights down on that possibility -- entrenched Clinton and Obama supporters unwilling to vote for the other candidate -- may have just been given cause to think twice before voting for John McCain.