Canada is Free and Freedom is Its Nationality

Sir Wilfrid Laurier

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Free Speech in the Senate

Excerpts from a press release of a speech given by Senator Finley in the Senate calling for an inquiry into the erosion of freedom of speech in Canada.

Actually I was going to excerpts but I couldn't find any bits that I wanted to cut out. Therefore I give to you the complete speech in all its glory.

H/T Blazing Catfur. Follow up speeches by Senator Duffy and Senator Tkachuk, which are also free speech doozies, are available at BCF too.
For immediate release Senator Finley Opens Up Freedom of Speech Inquiry
March 30, 2010

“Honourable Senators,

“I rise to call the attention of the Senate to the erosion of freedom of speech in Canada." “There could scarcely be a more important issue than this. “Freedom of speech is, and always has been, the bedrock of our Canadian democracy.

“The great Alan Borovoy, who was the head of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association for more than forty years, calls freedom of speech a “strategic freedom”. “Because it is the freedom upon which all of our other freedoms are built. “For example, how could we exercise our democratic right to hold elections, without free speech? “How could we have a fair trial, without free speech? “And what would be the point of freedom of assembly, if we couldn’t talk freely at a public meeting? “It is the most important freedom. Indeed, if you had all of your other rights taken away, you could still win them back with freedom of speech.

“Benjamin Franklin once said that “Without Freedom of thought, there can be no such Thing as Wisdom; and no such thing as public Liberty, without Freedom of speech” “Freedom of speech is embedded in Parliament’s DNA. The word Parliament itself comes from the French word, parler – to speak.

“And as Parliamentarians, we guard our freedom jealously. No Member of Parliament or the Senate may be sued for anything he says in here. Our freedom of speech is absolute. “And yet just last week, only a few miles from here, censorship reared its ugly head.

“Ann Coulter, an American political commentator, had been invited to speak at the University of Ottawa.
“But before she even said a word, she was served with a letter from Francois Houle, the university’s vice-president, containing a thinly-veiled threat that she could face criminal charges if she proceeded with her speech. “And on the night of her speech, an unruly mob of nearly 1,000 people, some of whom had publicly mused about assaulting her, succeeded in shutting down her lecture, after overwhelmed police said they could not guarantee her safety. “Colleagues, it was the most un-Canadian display I have seen in years.
“It was so shocking that hundreds of foreign news media covered the fiasco, from the BBC to the New York Times to CNN.

“It was an embarrassing moment for Canada, because it besmirched our reputation as a bastion of human rights, a reputation hard-won in places like Vimy Ridge, Juno Beach, and Kandahar. “More important than international embarrassment is the truth those ugly news stories revealed. “Too many Canadians, especially those in positions of authority, have replaced the real human right of freedom of speech with a counterfeit human right not to be offended. “An angry mob is bad enough. That might be written off as misguided youths, overcome by their enthusiasm. “But such excuses are not available to a university vice president who obviously wrote his warning letter to Ms. Coulter after careful thought.

“Ann Coulter is controversial. She is not to everyone’s taste. But that is irrelevant. “Because freedom of speech means nothing if it only applies to people with whom we agree. To quote George Orwell, “Freedom is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” “In a pluralistic society like Canada, we must protect our right to peacefully disagree with each other. We must allow a diversity of opinion – even if we find some opinions offensive.“Unless someone actually counsels violence or other crimes, we must never use the law to silence them.

“Freedom of speech is as Canadian as maple syrup, hockey and the Northern Lights. It’s part of our national identity, our history and our culture. “It is section two of our 1982 Charter of Rights and Freedoms, listed as one of our “fundamental freedoms”. “And it’s in the very first section of Canada’s 1960 Bill of Rights.

“But our Canadian tradition of liberty goes much farther back than that. “In 1835, a 30-year-old newspaper publisher in Nova Scotia was charged with seditious libel for exposing corruption amongst Halifax politicians.
“The judge instructed the jury to convict him. At the time, truth was not a defence. “But the publisher passionately called on the jury to, quote "leave an unshackled press as a legacy to your children”, unquote. After just ten minutes of deliberations, the jury acquitted him. “That young man, of course, was Joseph Howe, who would go on to become the Premier of Nova Scotia.

“Our Canadian tradition of free speech is even older than that. It is part of our inheritance from Great Britain and France. “Les Québécois sont les héritiers de l’article 11 de la Déclaration des droits de l’homme et du citoyen de 1789. “L’article stipule que : « La libre communication des pensées et des opinions est un des droits les plus précieux de l’homme; tout citoyen peut donc parler, écrire [et] imprimer librement … »
“La France a produit le défenseur de la libre expression le plus réputé dans le monde, François-Marie Arouet, mieux connu sous son nom de plume, Voltaire. “Voltaire était un provocateur, qui usait de la satire et de la critique pour faire pression en faveur de réformes politiques et religieuses. Il en a payé le prix personnel, face aux censeurs et aux menaces de poursuites.
“Voltaire put it best when he wrote “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” “His passionate advocacy helped shape liberty on both sides of the Atlantic.

“English Canada has an impressive legacy of free speech, too. Like Voltaire, John Milton, the great poet who wrote Paradise Lost, was constantly hounded for his political views. “His 1644 pamphlet on free speech, called Areopagitica, is perhaps the greatest defence of free speech ever written, and it is as relevant today as it was 350 years ago. “In it, Milton wrote, quote, “let [truth] and falsehood grapple; who ever knew truth put to the worse, in a free and open encounter?” and “Who kills a man kills a reasonable creature… but he who destroys a good book, kills reason itself.”

“Yet, despite our 400 year tradition of free speech, the tyrannical instinct to censor still exists. “We saw it on a university campus last week. And we see it every week in Canada’s misleadingly-named human rights commissions. “This week, in Vancouver, a stand-up comedian named Guy Earle goes on trial before the B.C. human rights tribunal for the crime of telling jokes that someone didn’t find funny. “An audience member who heckled him is suing him for $20,000 because she found his retorts offensive.

“They may have been offensive. But what’s more offensive is that a government agency would be the arbiter of good taste or humour. “Nobel Prize winner Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was sentenced to eight years of hard labour for telling a joke about Stalin’s moustache. It’s a disgrace that Canada is now putting comedians on trial, too. Earle has already spent $20,000 defending himself.

“There is not a lot that the Senate can do about the B.C. human rights tribunal. But our own Canadian Human Rights Commission has egregiously violated freedom of speech – without any shame.
“In a censorship trial in 2007, a CHRC investigator named Dean Steacy testified[1] that, quote “freedom of speech is an American concept, so I don't give it any value.” “He actually said that. The Canadian Human Rights Commission actually admits they don’t give free speech any value.

“That’s totally unacceptable.

“Freedom of speech is the great non-partisan principle that every member of Parliament can agree on – that every Canadian can agree on. “I will never tire of quoting the great Liberal prime minister, Wilfred Laurier, when he said “Canada is free, and freedom is its nationality.” “And I will readily give credit to Keith Martin, the Liberal MP from British Columbia, who, two years ago, introduced a private member’s motion to repeal the censorship provisions of the Canadian Human Rights Act.

“Fellow Senators, I called for this inquiry to accomplish five things:

1. To reaffirm that freedom of speech is a great Canadian principle, that goes back hundreds of years;

2. To put Canada’s censors on notice that their days of infringing upon our freedoms with impunity are over;

3. To show moral support for those who are battling censors;

4. To inquire into the details of what went so desperately wrong at the University of Ottawa, to ensure those awful events never happen again;

5. To inspire a debate that may lead to a re-definition of Section 13.1 of the Human Rights Act;

“Colleagues, there are times for partisan debate, when the parties must naturally be at odds with one another. This is not one of those times. “Freedom of speech, and respect for differing views, is the foundational principle of our entire Parliamentary system – indeed for our entire legal system as well. “I look forward to the constructive comments of my friends on both sides of the aisle, to build on the bi-partisan history that Canadian free speech enjoys. “If we can rededicate our parliament to protecting this most important right, we will have done our country a great service. “But if we fail to stop and indeed reverse this erosion of freedom, we will have failed our most basic duty – the duty to uphold our Constitution and the rights it guarantees for all Canadians.
“I know that, like so many generations of Canadians before us, we will meet the challenges of our time, and live up to our responsibility to pass on to our children the same freedoms that we inherited from our parents.

“God keep our land, glorious and free.”

Monday, March 29, 2010

Action Alert!

Phone/Write your MP about freedom of speech.

I phoned my MP Cheryl Gallant today to ask what her position on free speech/hate speech was, and the person who answered the phone didn't know! After a week of heavy press about freedom of speech and Ann Coulter her own office staff have no idea where she stands on the issue.

Obvious conclusion. She has NOT been getting enough phone calls about the matter.

Please take the time to contact your MP (Particularly if your MP is named David McGuinty), let them know what you think about the issue, and ask what their stand on freedom of speech is. (hint: if they are against it, inform them that they just lost your vote)

Upcoming Senate Inquiry into Free Speech?

Senator Doug Finley, former Conservative campaign manager, has announced his intention to bring the matter of freedom of speech, or rather the erosion thereof, before the Senate.

Doug Finley is apparently one of Harper's right hands (or so the Star says...) so this might be some indication that free speech is an issue for conservatives. Albeit perhaps one that they are willing to have an unelected Senator take up. Less risky perhaps?

Erosion of Freedom of Speech

Notice of Inquiry

Hon. Doug Finley: Honourable senators, I give notice that, two days hence:

I will call the attention of the Senate to the issue of the erosion of freedom of speech in our country.

From the Hansard.

H/T Stephen Taylor

Good work Doug Finley. The issue may come up either today or in the next few days.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Brains in the House.

Mr. David McGuinty (Ottawa South, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, Ann Coulter, the intellectual leader of the North American reform-conservative-republican movement, has the right to make her views known. In fact it is important for Canadians to be exposed to her obscene, radical and intolerant thinking, which underpins the extreme right.

Given her views are completely out of step with mainstream Canadian values, will the Prime Minister stand here today and, without equivocation, publicly denounce her views while explaining to Canadians the link between his party and Ann Coulter?
It reminds me a great deal of a scene I remember from a Martin Luther movie. Luther was asked to renounce his writings and replied that he could not do so because many of them were uncontroversial works that even the Pope himself had approved. As for the others, he was willing to renounce any that could be proven wrong from the Scriptures.

McGuinty here wants Ann Coulter's views unequivocally denounced. Which ones? Does the Honourable Member really support the 9/11 attacks? Does he believe that black people shouldn't serve in government? Does he believe that having sex with interns is normal behavior? Or that single motherhood is the best option for children? Or that dangerous criminals shouldn't go to jail?

Presumably he only wants the "controversial" bits denounced. And that would be controversial as defined by a liberal. Glad to get that sorted out. It sure is a relief to know that Harper won't have to apologize for the fact that Coulter supports torture. Or it would be if I supported torture. Then again, I don't, so I'm not sure where that leaves me.

To the relief of all McGuinty sorts out the confusion later on my explaining exactly what he wants denounced.

Mr. David McGuinty (Ottawa South, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, the darling of the reform-conservative-republican movement really outdid herself last night in Calgary. By addressing Canadian diversity, Ann Coulter said that diversity is not an advantage to a country like Canada. “It’s not a strength”, she continued. Then she went on to compare diversity to cancer. From organizing speeches to putting on cocktails, the Conservative Party’s dirty little fingerprints are all over her Canadian tour.
Will the Prime Minister immediately and publicly condemn Ann Coulter’s outrageous and intolerant views?

You know I, unlike a lot of my elders and betters in well never mind, don't like to believe anything unless I've got the original documents. As far as I know the original documents are not available in this case (can we fix that problem, pretty please, Coulter in Canada people?) so I spent exactly five seconds on Google looking up "Ann Coulter diversity is not a strength" and found an article called "At the end of the day, diversity has jumped the shark, horrifically" wherein she makes comparisons between diversity and cancer.

Its worth a read. At least you won't have to rely on a tenth hand clip taken out of context to make up your mind on whether you like Ann Coulter.

And for the record, I don't think that FGM, honour killings, abortion, gay marriage, or university hooligans pulling fire alarms is a "diversity" that "strengthens" us either.

So I agree with Ann Coulter that some diversity doesn't strengthen us.

But even Ann Coulter believes that diversity in some things is good (read the article).

So we all agree, "diversity" as "diversity" does not strengthen us. Some diversity can strengthen us, some diversity can weaken us.

Would you like Stephen Harper to condemn me too David McGuinty?

At least Pierre Poilievre (the inspiration for the title of this post) had a brilliant repartee ready.

Mr. Pierre Poilievre (Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, the member has raised a very important question about an American commentator who has come to this country with some outrageous comments: comments supporting the Iraq war, comments supporting the use of torture, and comments referring to Israel as a war criminal. But enough about the leader of the Liberal Party.
Sit back and savor it, my friends. Sit back and bask in the thrills.

P.S. To Contact David McGuinty. To Contact Pierre Poilievre. You know what you want to say to them.

P.P.S. Many thanks to The Phantom Observor for Hansard quotes.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Interesting Fact

Apparently after Francois Houle wrote that letter Ann Coulter and co. were told to pay out another $1,200 for additional security.

Point 1: Much good that did.

Point 2: Isn't that admitting that your letter might cause violence? After all they knew that she was coming long before.

Point 3: Will they get a refund?

The. Best. Quote. Ever. Period.

Posted by who else but Kate at Small Dead Animals.
"See? You can yell "fire" in a crowded theatre after all!"
(Context for those not familiar with free speech issues. The big argument against "unlimited free speech" is that you have no right to yell fire in a crowded theater. Then the students pulled the fire alarm to silence free speechers.)

Lotsa Coulta Linkses

The Web Elf, excellent as usual.

Blazing Catfur, take a peep at some of his other posts as well, very informative.

Five Feet of Fury, according to Ann Coulter the most complete links out there, has too many posts to link individually so just read.

Steyn Online has some commentary.

Ann Coulter herself!

Link to Michael Coren's interview with Ann Coulter. Also available on youtube, see here at Wintery Knight. Watch it everyone, especially if you have never heard/read Ann Coulter and are relying on second hand information from "unfriendlies".

One of the most thorough accounts of the protest.

Very, very funny piece in the Ottawa Citizen. An absolute MUST read.

Deborah Gyapong
has some stuff.

My Letter to the Editors

Letter to the Editor I sent to The National Post, The Ottawa Sun, The Ottawa Citizen, and The Toronto Star. We shall see who, if anyone, publishes it.

Dear U of O students.

That was brilliant.

Last night I, as a young Canadian, was ashamed for my country. Ashamed of how pitiful, petty, and totalitarian we were going to look on the world stage because of your actions. We pride ourselves on being polite and courteous, then we welcome a visitor to our nation by threatening them and shutting down their attempt to speak.

You don't have to like Ann Coulter. I don't necessarily agree with everything she says either (although when I hear her explain what she said as opposed to what people said she said I tend to agree much more). But you didn't have to trample on freedom of speech to do so. There are appropriate ways to deal with speakers you don't like. Vote with your feet, either don't go or walk out if it gets outrageous. Protest peacefully. Use the Q&A session to ask hard questions. Write articles or invite speakers of your own to give a counter perspective. Yes I know that some of this stuff takes more brains and effort than shouting slogans like "Free Speechers go home" but you are in university after all!

Francois Houle is looking for hate speech. I suggest he look at his own desk. Ann Coulter was not going to say anything that would actually incite people to violence. Mr. Houle came within half an inch of doing so. Is that a criminal offence Mr. Houle? Inquiring minds want to know.

What happens, dear students, when you want to host your own controversial speaker? Would you enjoy a much anticipated feminist speaker not being allowed to speak for fear that she might say something offensive to men? Would you enjoy having hordes of angry men outside pounding on the door, threatening your safety, and forcing you to sneak out the back?

Maybe you don't think you need freedom of speech because you think that any liberal ideas are automatically nice, politically correct, tolerant, non-offensive, unanswerable, and self-evidently true. Your own bigotry reveals your need to hear Ann Coulter, if only to find out that your ideas are controversial too. Maybe Ann Coulter could have shaken some of the smug complacency out of you. Maybe not. It would have been nice to find out.

We all need free speech. We need it, you need it. What do you think gave you the right to protest against Ann Coulter?

Free speech.

Rebekah Hebbert
missmarprelate.blogspot.com

Ann Coulter Non-Show Pictures



More to come if my dial-up internet will HURRY UP.

More on Ann Coulter Shut Down

More updates are coming up on the Ann Coulter event.

Macleans has a piece, "Coulter, the she-devil in her own words".
The police, Coulter says, “had been warning my bodyguard all day that they were putting up [messages] on Facebook: ‘Bring rocks, bring sticks, you gotta hurt Ann Coulter tonight, don’t let her speak.’ And the cops eventually said, we’ve got a bad feeling, this isn’t gonna happen. And they shut it down.”

CFRA has a poll up, apparently 86.6% of people disapprove of what the protesters did.

Socon has some more pictures and video.

There were definitely issues with the organization I would say. The venue was far too small for one thing, they didn't allow for last minute attendees who made up about 70% of the crowd by some estimates. However in the end it very likely wouldn't have mattered.

There were a lot of people there who probably didn't agree with Ann Coulter. The person standing next to me in line frankly admitted that he didn't like her. But when he heard about the reaction of the University he decided to come anyway because he believed in freedom of speech. Someone else I heard was commenting that if offending people is your talent and you can make money doing it, go for it.

They wanted to hear her. They wanted to support freedom of speech in Canada.

They wanted a dialogue.

Who's intolerant?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Shut Down

As just about everyone knows by now, the Ann Coulter event was shut down by a bunch of U of O students.

I arrived at the university around 5:30. At that time there was only about a dozen people waiting in the vestibule and the only people that I noticed hanging around outside looked a lot like the CBC. The line started out fairly rag-tag but gradually the place filled up and by the time the doors were supposed to open the vestibule was jammed full and the line extended out the door and around the corner.

No one was doing any yelling or protesting before the event that I noticed. The only controversy seemed to be whether people who hadn't pre-registered would be allowed in. (Answer, probably not. The auditorium was not very large. I estimate something over 300 seats) My brother was in the vestibule until around 7:15 and he reports that all was fairly orderly at that point.

The whole thing started very late. Not sure what the issue was there. It was supposed to start at 7 but the doors only opened around then and due to checking everyone's ID and registration it was not filling up very fast. I managed to get into the auditorium fairly early on. The atmosphere in there seemed to be both excited and rather tense.

Then the fire alarm went off. Do you know how loud industrial fire alarms are? Do you know what they sound like when they go on for about ten minutes?!

People in the auditorium seemed to be very confused about what was going on. It was impossible to tell what was happening outside. The rumors that I collected (true or not I'm not entirely sure) indicated that there were protesters outside yelling "No hate speech on campus", they had barricaded a door, they were pounding on the auditorium door. Deborah Gyapong who got stuck outside has more to say about what happened there. You need to read her account for a complete picture of the night.

My notes at the time read "We're trapped in here. No bathroom... This might get REALLY interesting."

At about 8:09, over an hour after the lecture was supposed to begin Ezra Levant finally got up to speak. He said that there were 2000 protesters outside and that it would not be physically safe for Ann Coulter to appear. Levant did however give a little mini-speech which included some stinging words about Francois Houle.

He noted that at Western Ontario the President had said that regardless of whether he agreed with Ann Coulter or not he welcomed the diversity of opinion and that although there were many students who disagreed with Coulter and some heckling it was under control and they were able to have a good dialogue. Here Houle basically gave the students the green light to make trouble for Ann Coulter and the whole thing had to be shut down. A fish rots from the head down. He also noted that this event will expose the rot in our Canadian culture when it comes to free speech.

The head of the International Free Press Society also spoke about how they took Kurt Westergaard to Yale and Princeton and never had to fear for his life there.

These speeches were regularly punctuated with cheers, clapping, booing, and cries of "We want Ann" at the appropriate moments. A smaller number started to chant telling us to go home. They chanted so loudly that the man trying to tell us how to leave the building safely couldn't make himself heard.

We were able to file out a side door past lots of policemen into an alleyway beside the building. By the time we exited, probably close to 8:30 there were only about a few hundred protesters and the people from the audotorium were able to slip away or join in some counter-chants according to inclination (I'm sure I heard something that sounded a lot like "No more Commies on our campus"). I was able to catch a glimpse of some nice "This is a Safe Space" and "Love" posters. The fact that we had just been police escorted out of the building because the protesters were such a danger seemed lost on them.

Relistening to my audio recording of the demonstrators it sounds like "Freespeechers go home." I know there were other slogans as well.

Well this freespeecher went home, and decided to call up the International Free Press Society tomorrow and offer my services in any way possible. I believed in free speech before, in fact it was Ezra Levant's campaign that first really got me interested in politics. But now, it's personal.

You know there are appropriate ways to deal with speakers you don't like. Vote with your feet, either don't go or walk out if it gets outrageous. Protest peacefully. Use the Q&A session to ask hard questions. Write articles or invite speakers of your own to give a counter perspective. When the Parliamentary Committee was having hearings about Section 13 I went to hear Levant/Steyn and Jennifer Lynch/Bernie Faber/Richard Moon.

Just for the record, I don't agree with everything Ann Coulter says. I don't agree that Muslims should be banned from flying (If she actually meant that seriously) and I quite agree that to say that is offensive. However, she does have a lot to say that is at least worth thinking about.

And after all she is a satirical, polemical speaker. If you want to hear Floppsy the Bunny Rabbit telling us to love the world don't go to an Ann Coulter speech. You go to an Ann Coulter event to hear things said in an over the top, satirical, funny, outrageous, but interesting way. You may or may not agree, but that's fine.

I wanted to hear what she had to say. Hundreds of people wanted to hear what she had to say. They were denied that opportunity by people who thought that they had the right to shout "freespeechers go home" and force us through threat of violence to do so.

Francois Houle is looking for hate speech. I suggest he look at his own desk. Ann Coulter was not going to say anything that would actually incite people to violence. Mr. Houle came within half an inch of doing so. If it wasn't for the presence of nine police squad cars who knows what might have happened. He gave his students a license to stop Ann Coulter and they ran with it.

What happens when those students want to host their own controversial speaker. Will they enjoy a much anticipated feminist speaker not being allowed to speak for fear that she might say something offensive to men? Would they enjoy having hordes of angry men outside pounding on the door, threatening their safety, and forcing them to sneak out the back?

Didn't think so.

They are trashing freedom of speech and they do not even realize it. They don't understand that they need free speech too because they think that their positions are unanswerable, nice, politically correct, tolerant, and self-evidently true. Maybe Ann Coulter could have shaken some of the smug complacency out of them. Maybe not. But they need to learn sooner or later that their positions are offensive to many people and they are not self-evidently true.

We all need free speech. We need it, they need it. What do they think gave them the right to chant outside?

Free speech.

Make My Day

Mark Steyn takes on that very charming letter written by Francois Houle Vice-President Academic and Provost of the University of Ottawa.

In it Mr. Houle pulls down the corners of his mouth, tips up his nose and droningly lectures Ann Coulter in the behavior expected from good little girls at this school. Little girls who don't want them to call Mommy in anyway.

He got Ann Coulters age and/or receptiveness to veiled threats wrong but other than that it was very well written if you don't mind smug condescension mixed with a trickling contempt for Coulter's home country.

It only helped out Ann Coulter of course. The publicity was probably (certainly) most welcome to both Coulter and her supporters (Yes! They're mad at us! Look at the front page publicity! Yahoo! Yippee!). The Toronto Star (and we all know what the Star is...) described the letter as "pure oxygen for the fire". They even admitted that there was about 800 people present. Tory Dr. Roy estimates about 1000 with people turned away.

Steyn wrote,
"I've no idea what Ann Coulter's reaction to this letter is, but I suspect it's "Go ahead, Princess Fairy Pants, make my day." M Houle would have a very hard time persuading the Ottawa police or the RCMP to lay criminal charges over an Ann Coulter speech because they realize, even if he doesn't, that Canada doesn't need to become even more of an international laughingstock in this area. More likely is a complaint to the Canadian and/or Ontario "Human Rights" Commissions. But you know something? I don't get the feeling they'd be eager to re-ignite the free speech wars on a nuclear scale. Think of Ezra's and my appearance in the House of Commons, and then imagine the scene when Miss Coulter testifies. So the threat is an empty one and M Houle seems to be being - oh, what's the "respectful and civil" way of putting it? - a posturing *******."
Follow the link to the National Post, Steyn has more, plus Houle's letter.

Now just for the record I don't agree with everything that Ann Coulter says. Just start with the fact that I like universal healthcare and you could probably go from there. I have read some of her books though and quite a lot of what she writes is solid, and entertaining, good sense. That is at least a better track record than, say, the Young Green Party just to take an example (Go ahead, read their platform).

I, however, am mature enough to listen to people I don't necessarily agree with. Unlike some university educated people.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Banning the Coulter

Sooo.....

Our tolerant, diverse, free-thinking, yadda, yadda leftist student friends at the University of Ottawa actually have a line past which they don't tolerate anymore.

That line happens to be Ann Coulter.

Not, as has been pointed out, Israeli Apartheid Week with it's colourful and welcoming posters. In fact the very people who are objecting to Ann Coulter (in at least one university) are the same people who organized IAW.

According to the Ottawa Citizen the Student Federation has prohibited people from putting up posters advertising the event within their jurisdiction. The university administration has not done so.

'Scuse me? The university has more respect for freedom of speech and student activities it may or may not agree with than the other students? Why doesn't that surprise me? Why do I have this nagging feeling that it should? I though students were supposed to be the "no rules" people.

So needless to say I will be going to see Ann Coulter and Ezra Levant with great interest. Do you think I should take some pepper spray just in case some students decide to express their views in a less than incredibly mature and articulate way? Perhaps not. I won't forget a couple of good bodyguards (they wanted to go anyway) and my iPhone video recorder though. To make sure that any off-key nursery rhymes get recorded for posterity.

As Michael Coren who will have her on his show said "What fun".

Oh, and by the way, Israeli Apartheid Week poster 09.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

IMFC Opening and Report #1

The Institute for Marriage and Family Canada put on it's annual Policy Conference on March 11. What follows in the next several posts is an event blog of what took place there.

Please Note: This is a summary of the events and speeches in my own words for educational, information, and entertainment purposes only. It is not the speakers' exact words and should not be taken as such. It also may contain errors due to the nature of the medium. I am not responsible for any of them, use at your own risk.

IMFC opening remarks. Dave Quist

Engaging families for strong social and economic policy making.

This conference will go from a broad overview to practical policies. Crowley will speak about Canada's principles. Wade Horn has years of experience to talk about the government's role in social issues with social organizations. Miriam Grossman talks about sex ed in school and college. Kelly Schwartz about parenting cycles and behaviors. IMFC Staff will be giving reports on IMCF research.

This is the highlight of our year, our annual coming out party. The staff have done a lot of work. He then introduces staff and volunteers.

Housekeeping announcements.

A brief summary of some of the things that are happening during the day. Networking lunch, panel on childcare.

We won't all agree on everything but that's okay. That's a healthy debate when we can exchange and tear ideas apart and come up with better ideas for policy in Canada.

Andrea Mrozek to introduce Brian Crowley and to talk about her work.

Private Choices Public Costs, How Failing Families Cost Us All by Rebecca Walberg and Andrea Mrozek.

While private breakdowns are privately painful they also have a social cost as government comes in with housing, welfare, and childcare assistance. Powerpoint graph showing tremendous difference between poverty of two and single parent families.

Family breakdown includes single mothers as well as divorce. It includes the breakdown of an idea, two parents with children.

Shows cost of breakdown varying from 640 million in New Zealand to 140 billion in US annual.

One cause in UK of multi-generational poverty is family breakdown.

We understand that there are lots of issues, we weren't putting this forward as a simplistic be all and end all. We were just addressing an issue that is not addressed enough when we talk about poverty.

Puts up a slide that shows family breakdown costing nearly 7 billion dollars a year in Canada.

The Cost of a Free Lunch, The Reals Costs of the Pascal Early Learning Plan for Ontario

They are transitioning/want to transition Ontario to full day kindergarten. Costs for early kindergarten program estimated by Pascal is 1 billion. IMFC says 1.5 billion as government later said. The full cost of Pascal plan is over 6 billion. Cost of Quebec childcare system, 209 million in 95-96 system but 2 billion annually today.

Talked to Quebec families who are not happy with the system.

Family breakdown contributes to these things. The intersection of fiscal and social issues is one of interest to her.

Family and Culture

What can I say, I took what I had been told was the reliable laptop, and it crashed. Twice. And took out all my notes on Dr. Crowley's speech. What you have here I was able to rewrite from memory (except Q&A) and while it does not cover the whole speech it at least covers the main point. Family is where children learn to be good citizens and exercise self control. Social programs are undermining the family. I am sorry about this and I will address my laptop issue (preferably by taking a heavy object to it. That would at least make me feel better) in future.

Please Note: This is a summary of the events and speeches in my own words for educational, information, and entertainment purposes only. It is not the speakers' exact words and should not be taken as such. It also may contain errors due to the nature of the medium. I am not responsible for any of them, use at your own risk.

Brian Lee Crowley, PhD
, is the founding President of AIMS, the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies.

Crowley is a frequent commentator on political and economic issues for the CBC, Radio-Canada and many other media, and is a former member of the Editorial Board of The Globe and Mail and of the National Political Panel on Morningside with the late Peter Gzowski on CBC Radio. His articles appear in The Globe and Mail, The National Post, La Presse and numerous regional and local newspapers. He holds degrees from McGill and the London School of Economics, including a doctorate in political economy from the latter.

His book Fearful Symmetry: The Fall and Rise of Canada’s Founding Values includes an assessment of the tremendous importance of strong families for political and economic stability in Canada today.


Theodore Dalrymple said that there is an unholy alliance between liberals and libertarians. Libertarians believe that how people parent, marry, do whatever, is a free market place choice that is completely autonomous. Liberals believe that the state has the responsibility to pick up the pieces when this devastates the children.

My book is a celebration of the founding values of Canada which existed for the first hundred years of our nation.

Some people seem to believe that the founding fathers were just cranky Calvinist, mean spirited kill-joys, who just wanted people to be obedient. However they had a view of what makes people happy, They believed that family and work are what fulfill people and make them happy. It is what creates adults, what separates a child from a man. Infants are totally dependent, but as they grow up they learn independence through a sometimes painful process. However as they grow up they learn responsibility and this results in self respect, honour, and reputation from society.

They believed that the first nature of people is to avoid work, is to want to be dependent on other people. A society that makes it too easy for people to not work, to live off the labour of others, is putting temptation in the way of people who are weak. It is like like leaving a laptop in an unlocked car.

This is what socialism does. It removes the need for family as the last resort in hard times. This makes it increasingly difficult to justify why you would stay together in hard times. Why you would support the family.

Now it is easier to get divorce and the government will be there to pick up the pieces afterwards.

Welfare, to take one example, a study found that when welfare rates went up 100-200 a year the probability of being a single parent went up 5%.

Why is family important to the economy?

Character is taught. Aristotle taught that what we do is what we become. This is our second nature, we are born with one nature, a selfish one. We have to learn our second nature which can be better.

Family is where character is formed. Parents teach children self control. They learn the values that will make them successful in life. They learn to work hard by watching their parents. Their parents teach them that they can't have whatever they want whenever they want it. They must sacrifice short term pleasure to long term goals.

This teaching must start before children even realize the benefit of it. This causes a tension between parents and children because children don't want to learn restraint. However this restraint will serve them well in life. It will be what inspires them to finish school, avoid teen pregnancy, get a good job, save for a car or house, and ultimately get married and have children of their own.

Family and children is not merely a private affair. It is the foundation on which all our values, our freedoms, our society is built.

However a too generous social state interferes in family and makes it less necessary for economic reasons, but it is still necessary for social ones.

Q: In business management people are being told to adapt to employees that are less self controlled, fostering welfare attitudes in them.

A: An article headline summed up what you are saying, "Dude Where's My Office". People need to understand that they don't bring worth with them, they create worth by work. Employers are not there to accommodate employees. Employees are there to work for their employers.

Q: What role do other institutions(?) play in the family?

A: You can read his book for more on that subject. He has no interest in regulating family size, but women are having too few children. The government needs to see if they are dis-incentivising having children. Family breakdown is contributing to low birthrates because women feel insecure and thus have huge incentive to work more and have fewer children.

Q: People are now trying to make up for this loss of ethics/character by teaching it in schools and universities. Why is this insufficient?

A: Many reasons. Our character is formed before we are an adult. Character must be formed at home when small because no teaching does not create a vacuum, it creates bad character. Adult character is very, very hard to mold and change.

Q: There is a labour shortage coming up. Will this have a negative affect on families as women are strongly encouraged to go to work?

A: IMFC is/should be looking into that.

Q: In the royal family we once had a visible, authoritative representation of family loyalty. Where can we find that now?

A: The Royal Family did symbolise (not so much now) majesty in many institutions. Today? Um.... Brittny Spears? Actually celbrities are important. Kids smoke because cool people smoke. If an actress gets a haircut, everyone gets a haircut. Symbolic representation is very powerful. How do you make it credible for large numbers of people is a big question. Good question, don't have an answer.

IMFC Report #2

Please Note: This is a summary of the events and speeches in my own words for educational, information, and entertainment purposes only. It is not the speakers' exact words and should not be taken as such. It also may contain errors due to the nature of the medium. I am not responsible for any of them, use at your own risk.

Second IMFC update.

Derek Miedema is a researcher in demographics from an elder care point of view, and school enrollment. Euthanasia and assisted suicide (against).

Care-Full?

He traced population trends in Canada. The trend is clear. Looking thirty years ahead it is clear, more seniors less children. By 2014 there will be more people over 65 than children under 15. Health care costs increase with age. Ages 1-64 health costs are 1800+ a year, over 65 they are 2100+ a year. There is no way to reverse this. Immigration will not work.

Health care if it continues would take up 70% of Ontario budget in the future.

The question is now "How will we care for our parents and grandparents when they outnumber us?"

He comes from a family of 5 and it is a comfort to him that his other brothers can help out with concerns. What happens when we have 1-2 children? This needs to be a society issue. It can't just be a family one.

This paper raises more questions than it answers, we need to talk about these things.

Currently we care for people using old folks homes. He looked at long term care in Ontario. He asked long term care facilities how they will be affected by baby boomers. Only 22% of seniors live in long term care but that number will still be growing.

They expect - more complicated diagnoseses (like dementia) It used to more simple. This will create need for more staff. More requirements for care. More cost pressures. These homes are funded by the government but the government won't be able to keep paying out more. Staff are burning out, retiring.

Dead Too Soon?

Euthanasia is becoming an issue with rising costs.

Looks at people with spinal cord injuries. Can they regain a high quality of life afterwards? The answer is yes. 2 out of 10 emergency room doctors said that they would have a high quality of life if they had such an injury. 9 out of 10 people with such an injury say they have a high quality of life.

Recovery from this requires time which can give a better perspective. Social involvement is important. Supportive family. Dignity affirming relationships with care providers etc.

Therefore - Offering euthanasia shortly after injury would make it impossible to recover a high quality of life.

The question, should euthanasia or assisted suicide become legal is, would I die too soon? Not, would I live too long


The Role of Government in Creating Great Family Related Policy

Please Note: This is a summary of the events and speeches in my own words for educational, information, and entertainment purposes only. It is not the speakers' exact words and should not be taken as such. It also may contain errors due to the nature of the medium. I am not responsible for any of them, use at your own risk.

Wade F. Horn, PhD, a clinical child psychologist, served from 2001 to 2007 as the Assistant Secretary for Children and Families within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) where he oversaw over 60 federal programs with a total budget of $47 billion aimed at improving the well-being of children and helping families achieve self-sufficiency, including welfare, child welfare, adoption, child support, Head Start, child care, and refugee resettlement. As Assistant Secretary, Dr. Horn served as the focal point for much of family policy in the U.S., including responsible fatherhood and healthy marriage initiatives.

From 1994-2001, Dr. Horn was President of the National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI) whose mission is to improve the well-being of children by increasing the number of children growing up with involved, committed and responsible fathers. Prior to working in government, Dr. Horn was the Director of Outpatient Psychological Services at the Children's Hospital National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and an Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at George Washington University.

Dr. Horn has written numerous articles relevant to children and family issues, including a weekly newspaper column entitled Fatherly Advice, and is the co-author of several books.

Dr. Horn received his Ph.D. in clinical child psychology from Southern Illinois University in 1981. He lives in Gaithersburg, Maryland, with his wife and has two adult daughters.



The Role of Government in Creating Great Family Related Policy

He will talk about family policy issues especially related to fatherhood.

He knows there are some differences between the US and Canada so some things may not be relevant but some interesting parallels can be drawn.

Told several stories about his children.

He talked about a moment of triumph his daughter had, when she glanced at the bleachers towards her parents and smiled. What would have happened if he wasn't there? Unfortunately, that is happening all the time. That Fathers aren't there for their children.

40% of children in the States don't have fathers. They think it may increase to 60%.

There have always been children without fathers but for the first time in history this loss of fathers is voluntary. There is a difference that when fathers die children recover, but voluntary fatherlessness is harder.

This is due to divorce.

It also used to be that 5% of births were out of wedlock. Now it is 35%.

Divorce doesn't mean that fathers can't be involved but it frequently does in practice. Many children don't see their fathers, don't have fathers who live with them if their parents aren't married.

20% of 6-12 graders haven't had a good conversation lasting at least 10 minutes with one parent in the last month.

Some say what's the big deal? Families today are different. This does not negatively affect children.

75% of single parent live in poverty.

20% of two parent families.

60% of rapists had no fathers.

Children of single parents are more likely to do badly in school, in life, and be abused.

Single parents can raise good kids but there is a non-trivial increase in risk.

Suppose you are flying and the ticket counter says there are two planes leaving at same time. One has 1% chance of crashing, the other has 10% chance of crashing. Which one do you go on?

Many single parent children will be just fine. But many won't and if we can increase the chances for those children that is good.

He believes in strong support services for children at risk because they are at risk. That doesn't contradict being a strong supporter of the need for intact families.

Society requires a critical mass of families. We are at risk of loosing that critical mass.

What can we do to help?

We need a culture that is better at celebrating the unique contributions of fathers to their children. In the 1990s we were in danger of losing the very idea of fathers. We couldn't even use the word. Articles would run titled "The Superfluous Father". The only thing that mattered was child support.

They had a unique contribution, but they were being marginalized and told to be like Moms.

Fathers are different than mothers. Mothers are more verbal, singing. Fathers are more physical, they play rough and tumble. Research has shown that rough and tumble play is very important to children. It teaches self control because it teaches limits and how to control aggression. Father says "Slow down, don't be too wild". 90% of men on death row never played with their fathers. Mothers are cautious. Fathers encourage independence. etc.

This is not that one is right and one is wrong. Children need both. They need one parent encouraging caution, the other encouraging risk. Then children will learn calculated risk.

The way fathers treat mothers teaches boys how to treat girls.

Fathers help children, especially boys to transition to adulthood. Without transitional help they will try to prove "adulthood" in less legitimate ways.

The Institute for Fatherhood has launched media campaigns to promote fatherhood.

Showed some commercials emphasizing that Dads need to spend time with children. "It takes a man to be a Dad"

These adds did make a different. Levels of support for fathers and fatherhood has gone up. President Obama has a "Fatherhood Initiative"

All things being equal, and not all htings are always equal, married fathers have an advantage on unmarried fathers.

Culture is more important than public policy but public policy sends signals to our culture.

What should public policy do? It should not stigmatize children living in single parent households or cut off support to them. It should not force people to marry or trap them in abusive relationships. But it should not be afraid of the word of marriage. People were afraid of the word "marriage". So he set out on a one man crusade to desensitize people to the word.

Child psychologists in the 70s were taught a lot of things that weren't true, like you shouldn't tell your kids to do something. He was trying to help his daughter discover that she should pick up the toys when she said if you want me to do it why don't you just tell me?

We need to tell people what they should be doing.

Government should promote healthy marriage.

They should not be neutral on the subject of marriage. It should incentivise marriage.

We know that marriages can be helped by counseling. That it is how they deal with conflict not how often they fight that matters.

Government gave supports to help unwed parents get married, save existing marriages, help communities support marriage.

Is this really a legitimate role of government? In so far as we are successful in supporting healthy marriage we will reduce many social ills. If we want to prevent the need for government social programs we should strike at the root of the problems, which can be the breakdown of families. We need to reduce the number of people who need these programs. One way we can do it is by supporting marriages.

Single parent children are more likely to drop out of school and do worse in general. Therefore public policy should encourage families and help them to stay together. (Barak Obama)

We have come a long way in the States from where fathers were considered irrelevant.

References The Princess Bride where one character meets the man who killed his father. When he is about to kill him the six fingered man offers him anything he wants. He asks for his father back.

The government has a role in helping to do that.

Q: There is a problem in general culture that there is an underlying war against men. Men are only seen as needing to provide financial support.

A: You are right. There is a problem that boys have become more vulnerable, they are doing worse. It is getting better from the 1990s. They did a survey of television commercials that showed 0% positive portrayal of men then but it is getting better now.

Q: Is a doctor at CHEO, can see that shaping public policy is helpful. When she has a family history she can't talk about family situation, ask where the father is. How can we, as individuals, promote fatherhood without stigmatizing or offending children.

A: That's how we think. THe children who don't have fathers know there is a lack. THey notice there is a lack. But when we refuse to talk about it in public they get the idea that there is something wrong with them for feeling this lack since no one else seems to. We should talk about it more openly. You can be very respectful to those kids. We don't need to bring back the word bastard or stigmatize single mothers. When he worked in hospital he had a string of parents who said we are getting divorce can you help our kids not get hurt. He said, can't happen.

Q: They are trying to do away with father and mother. Since we have this situation that it seems that the only good parent is a female one. Does this have an effect on families, alienation of parents or imbalance.

A: The Fatherhood Initiative is about that Fathers have something different, unique, and irreplaceable. It's not about better.

Q: How does unique and irreplaceable play into same sex marriage conversation

A: He doesn't want ot get dragged into that debate. The immediate problem for him is the fatherless households. Doesn't want to get distracted. Reporters always want to talk about that with him. He doesn't want to focus on that, not that it is a wrong focus but it isn't his.

IMFC Report #3

Please Note: This is a summary of the events and speeches in my own words for educational, information, and entertainment purposes only. It is not the speakers' exact words and should not be taken as such. It also may contain errors due to the nature of the medium. I am not responsible for any of them, use at your own risk.

Peter Jon Mitchell on Youth/Teen Research

There was not enough Canadian data on youth. He also found that research too often treated teens separately from families except in discussing negative influences. IMFC considered positive ones too.

Rated PG

With Teens 43% girls and 38% of boys(?) have sex between the ages of 14-19.

Parent attitudes influenced sexual behavior.

Parents who smoked or drank to excess had children who were more likely to be active.

Family status had an impact.

The children's attitude on substance abuse mattered.

Parents who disciplined infrequently or in anger were more likely to have active children.

Parents who read to children daily were less likely.

Parents who were religious or volunteered were less likely to have children engaging in sex.

Parents are primary sex educators.

They remain the biggest influence to teens but underestimate their own influence.

Substance abuse like marijuana increased sex.

Girls who engaged in risky sexual behavior also considered suicide.

When they published this report they got two reactions.

You can't be serious, drunk teens have sex. Are you going to tell us the sky is blue next?

You can't be serious, sex is healthy.

You're Teaching My Kid What?

What can I say, my computer ate my homework, or notes. It just shut down on me without warning. Twice. So I apologize for the fact that the first part of this speech is not as detailed and may be less accurate than I would normally like. Technology.

Please Note: This is a summary of the events and speeches in my own words for educational, information, and entertainment purposes only. It is not the speakers' exact words and should not be taken as such. It also may contain errors due to the nature of the medium. I am not responsible for any of them, use at your own risk.

Miriam Grossman, MD, is a board certified child, adolescent, and adult psychiatrist. She writes and speaks to parents, students, educators, and health professionals internationally on the dangers of political correctness in her profession. She is the author of You're Teaching My Child What? A Physician Exposes the Lies of Sex Education and How They Harm Your Child, published in August 2009 by Regnery Publishing. In 2006 her book, Unprotected: A Campus Psychiatrist Reveals How Political Correctness Endangers Every Student, was published by Sentinel (Penguin). Dr. Grossman graduated cum laude from Bryn Mawr College. She attended New York University Medical School and completed her residency in psychiatry, followed by a fellowship in child and adolescent psychiatry, through Cornell University.

She lives in Los Angeles with her family and a beagle, Willie Prozac.

Dr. Grossman, when she graduated took an oath. An oath to prevent the spread of disease. In her youthful naivete she thought this was referring to things like cancer. She now knows that to prevent disease you must also fight bad ideas. Her goal as a doctor is to make sure that people spend less time with doctors and therapists, not more.

In her work she dealt with a lot of students, particularly young women, who had problems because of the sex ed they were given.

Sex ed today is not based on science,it is based on a dream of how the world should be. Where there is no difference between girls and boys. Where all lifestyles are equally safe or harmful.

Modern sex ed is based on research that was done by one man and was later shown to be a fraud. This man was a very depraved person. He believed that anything, and that means anything, should go. Dr. Grossman is used to dealing with difficult situations and people as a psychologist but she was so horrified by this man's biography that she returned it as soon as possible, she couldn't even keep it in the house.

To listen to him when it comes to sex ed is like taking diet advice saying you should eat red meat and fried foods from an overweight person.

This view was promulgated by his followers who aimed to overthrow the Judeo-Christian moral system that was in place. They wanted to undo any social taboo about sex. They admit to wanting to change the world (UNESCO document page 3)

People like Planned Parenthood at SIECUS who promote these views are not furthering sexual health because that is not their goal. Their goal is to further sexual freedom and that is not compatible with increased sexual health.

The people who are most damaged by these views are girls, women, and homosexual men.

They believe that children are sexual creatures from cradle to grave. Even newborns are sexual. Hugging your grandfather is sexual.

They changed sex ed so that it was not about "preaching". It was just about, lets lay the facts out there and let the children decide, and we won't make any judgment calls or say that any lifestyle choice is better or worse.

From a SIECUS pamphlet that talks about sex. (Rough quote)

Every human being has basic rights. Still, adults may say and do things that make young people feel like they don't have rights. You need to know your rights so you can stand up for yourself. You have the right to express your sexuality in any way and at any time that you want. Most sex involves some level of risk so it is up to you to decide how much you want to risk.

No mention that there is one that has no risk.

SIECUS in public, and when talking to parents. emphasizes that teens should wait to have sex. That is not what they teach the teens.

Shows a very graphic slide

They tell children that you need to be comfortable with what you do. You have the right to make your own choices and have people respect them. Only teens can answer "Am I ready?". Talk it through with your partner (the sixteen year old boy who is going to be a great councilor)

They get into stuff about sexual sadism and masochism. Anal sex. That type of behavior is very dangerous. No one should do it. It is simply too dangerous to engage in. Teens should be told that. But you won't find that warning from Planned Parenthood. Oral sex can be dangerous too.

Planned Parenthood Youtube video gives sex advice about HPV. Expect to have HPV once you become intimate. All of us get it says the doctor.

This is so preposterous. She cannot emphasize enough from a medical point of view how much of a lie this is.

HPV is not a naturally occurring virus. Two virgins who are monogamous never have to worry about HPV.

Scientific stuff omitted from sex ed.

Biology says wait. That girls are more vulnerable than boys.

Why do most 16-year olds drive like they're missing part of their brain? Because they are says an All State advertisement.

This is based on hard science. We used to have trouble looking at the brain but with MRIs we can now study normal and healthy kids and young people.

The brain doesn't stop developing until mid twenties. It is immature before that especially the area that makes decisions and so forth. That's why when you say "What were you thinking?!" They weren't thinking. In situations of high stimulus they rely on emotion and instinct not thought.

This is being used to argue against the death penalty for minors.

Sex ed people say, lets inundate students with information and expect that in the heat of the emotion and moment that they will stop, think rationally, and do what they are expected to do.

We know that teen girls not only have an immature brain but they have surging hormones and are prone to drama and depression.

The female brain is so deeply affected by hormones that they can be said to create a woman's reality.

Oxytocin is connected to feelings of affection and attachment. It is used to treat people with autism spectrum. It is released during sexual behavior and is mostly a female hormone. That is not to say that boys don't have some connection to partners but testosterone does not work the same as oxytocin.

Sexually transmitted diseases are a threat to girls. They are more susceptible to it than boys. Especially when they are young because the cervix is immature and is less resistant to disease.

Birth control pills can actually make girls more susceptible to infection because it can delay maturation.

This is true, even if the ACLU sues.

I have been accused of exaggerating the smut and madness of sex ed. I am not exaggerating. They are promoting sexual freedom and that compromises sexual health. Is everyone going to delay sex? No but we should teach them how dangerous it is and encourage the highest standards. That is what we do in every other area of health.

It is awkward to talk about but the stakes are too high not to.

Q: What reaction are you getting? How is Planned Parenthood responding?

A: There is no formal response. Some of these websites have been changed, some things have been taken off. They don't like what I say, they think it is fear based. I did have a debate with SIECUS and the woman wiggled around. The media doesn't represent the issue well. Dr. Grossman gets pigeon holed as right wing and so forth.

Q: Someone else gets death threats for talking about things like this. Has she had any problems?

A: Thankfully she hasn't had any of that.

Q: Some people say that abstinence only results in higher rates of pregnancy.

A: There are so many studies on both sides. She doesn't get into it. In any other health issue though like smoking we wouldn't say that well kids are going to do it anyway so we just have to damage control. You have to be careful because comprehensive sex ed isn't what they say it is. The most recent study is also that abstinence only education does work.

Q: She is a sex ed teacher in local school. Agrees with Dr. Grossman. We do have to give kids information but we have to battle lots of emotion and lots of kids will do it anyway. Are you saying we should take a stronger stand on abstinence only??

A: Treat it like any other health issue. If you tell your doctor that you eat cheeseburgers all the time he will tell you all the time that you shouldn't be doing that and it is dangerous. Kids do hard things. Athletes, so forth. We need to emphasize and present an ideal.

Q: Has the HPV vaccine increased risk taking?

A: We don't really know, it is too early but there can be an issue of getting a false sense of security.

Parents in Control

Please Note: This is a summary of the events and speeches in my own words for educational, information, and entertainment purposes only. It is not the speakers' exact words and should not be taken as such. It also may contain errors due to the nature of the medium. I am not responsible for any of them, use at your own risk.

Research under review: Parents in control: Best practice or another way to be a bad parent?

Dr. Kelly Schwartz, PhD, RPsych and IMFC Research Fellow

Dr. Schwartz is masquerading as an academic but he is really a Dad and a coach. Much of what he knows he learned living and working with families.

Anxious Parent - Anxious Kids.

Examples

A kid on a sports team said don't tell his Dad he got hurt because his Dad will freak out if he finds out that the kid didn't play in the tournament.

A parent says that a child (13) is not doing as well as she can in school. They are on their third psychological assessment.

How do we get good science into practice.

What do good-enough parents look like?

There is a chart showing different categories depending a parental demands and responsiveness.

We are not talking about perfect parents, just good enough.

When we support kids, making high demands but giving a high level of responsiveness to them, that equals social initiative.

Lack of behavior control can lead to anti-social behavior.

Parents are anxious, they want to know how to do things correctly.

Psychological control can lead to depression.

What do good enough kids look like?

People don't actually know what they want from kids, how to define good kids and healthy development.

There are three characteristics to look for.

Social-emotional bond (Parent-child, friends)

Competence (social, achievement)

Self regulation (emotional, behavioral, also known as self control)

Children have a need to feel autonomous, competent, and related to those around them.

We are seeing kids with no self-regulation. They are anxious. They have identity issues.

Parents in Control vs. Controlling Parents.

All parents are manipulative and try to cajole behavior sometime. We are not absolutely distancing ourselves from these techniques but some parents are using them as their primary parenting style.

They are manipulative of childrens' thoughts. They use strategies that focus on obedience and not trying to develop independence or competency. They subtly shun or are less friendly to their children as discipline.

Parental constraining. They take over the parent child relationship and the child zones out. You ask questions of the child and the child just answers.

Corporal punishment, which he will not address in this crowd.

How do parents get out of control?

Pressure from above (life events, single parenthood, finances)

Pressure from below (Difficult children)

Pressure from within (Parental fears and anxieties)

Where does psychological control live?

Academics (focus on outcome, the test, which stifles creativity etc)

Sports (Pressure to win decreases feelings of choice or self determination)

Psychological control does not have a direct link to child psychological disorders but it can lead to depression and anti-social behavior.

Autonomy-supportive parenting strategies need support.

Our culture is panicked about excelling but good enough parenting yields good results.

Q: have you done studies on passive v. aggressive psychological control techniques?

A: People don't usually say "I want to actively damage my child" We just slip into behavior and then try to justify it.

Q: You are skirting around the trophy child issue. Is this a result of a lack of funciton in the family?

A: Yes there is a trophy child thing. Parents who are insecure in themselves try to live through their children. One of the hardest things they have to do is to do gifted assessments and tell parents that their child is normal.

Debate on Childcare.

Please Note: This is a summary of the events and speeches in my own words for educational, information, and entertainment purposes only. It is not the speakers' exact words and should not be taken as such. It also may contain errors due to the nature of the medium. I am not responsible for any of them, use at your own risk.

The closing event of the day was a debate between Diane Finley (Conservative) and Mike Savage (Liberal) on universal childcare. Brief biographies are as follows.

The Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development began her professional career as an administrator of the University of Western Ontario's French Immersion School. Prior to her election, she held several senior positions in both the public and private sectors encompassing health care, transportation, agricultural equipment manufacturing, printing and publishing, and aviation. Ms. Finley has a bachelor's degree in administrative studies and a master's in business administration from the University of Western Ontario.

Mr. Mike Savage, Member of Parliament for Dartmouth – Cole Harbour (Nova Scotia) was first elected Member of Parliament in June 2004 and was re-elected in 2006 and 2008 in the riding of Dartmouth – Cole Harbour. Mike is currently the Official Opposition Critic for Human Resources and Skills and is the Chair of the Liberal Caucus Committee on Post-Secondary Education and Research. Mike has always been active in the community. He is a past President of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Nova Scotia and was a member of the Board of Directors of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada from 1998 to 2003. He has also supported literacy through his involvement with the Dartmouth Book and Writing Awards and the Peter Gzowski Golf Tournament for Literacy. He is the immediate past President of the Nova Scotia Liberal Party.

Diane Finley started the debate with a 15 minute bilingual presentation. Mike Savage followed and then there was a Q&A.

Diane Finley "Supporting Choice in Child Care"

The health of a community and nation depend on having healthy families. We partner with other groups to help bring that about. We also believe that getting the best start in life is very important for children.

We believe in a choice in childcare, not a one size fits all approach, and support that choice in practical ways with benefits and financial help.

Support for families today is over three times higher than under the previous government, 19 billion dollars.

Parental care remains the number one choice for Canadians. 90% prefer to have one parent stay at home with the children during the preschool years.

Parents know best.

When parents can't stay at home other family members are their first choice when it comes to childcare, followed by home based care, and then daycare centres.

Childcare is a provincial responsibility and different regions have different needs. The Government of Canada helps by giving money to families and to the provinces.

What do Canadians think about childcare funding?

IMFC did a survey which indicated that the number one choice was tax deductions and the number two was cash payment so that parents could choose their preferred form of childcare including one parent staying home.

Parents want choice, flexibility, and opportunity.

The Universal Child Care Plan gave parents $100 a month per child to help with costs. The government also gives money to help create childcare spaces. 2.5 billion dollars has helped 2 million children and lifted 57,000 children out of low income status.

For the average family, government help offsets the cost of non-parent childcare.

We also five the child tax credit, the Canada Child Tax Benefit and National Child Benefits supplement. The Child Disability help, Child Care Expenses tax deduction, Child Fitness tax benefit.

In 2011 self-employed people will be able to access maternal and parental benefits.

Canadians asked for choice in childcare. We delivered.

Families are all unique, the government does not know best.

Mike Savage

His party is committed to creating a universal Early Childhood Education and Care program and providing options giving youth a head start.

It could be a for profit system or not for profit, the plan and budget will be presented before the next election.

This will provide real choice.

Many parents can't stay at home.

This will give all children an equal chance at a head start.

He gave a short history of daycare in Canada.

Development in neurobiology shows that early learning is very important. Canada's youth need this in order to be internationally competitive.

Good ECE decreases parental stress, helps kids, increases the birth rate, reduces poverty, reduces delinquency, and allows women to work.

This would also be the single biggest job creator by dollar.

Among developed countries Canada ranks last in ECE.

During 2001-04 more children were helped than in recent years.

Nine million adult Canadians lack basic literacy skills. It is hard for people to improve their literacy if they have kids and no care.

ECE is also a health issue.

It results in lower teen pregnancy, higher grades, higher IQ, less smoking, less delinquency.

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce says that we need effective early childhood development to improve long term productivity.

People need choice. We need universal care to give it to them.

Children don't start learning at age six. They start learning at or before birth. None of us would accept an eight or nine year old being refused access to education, but it happens every day for children under six.

Q: For Finley. A debate like this could go on for days because some people refuse to see the truth. What is the point of Parliament then?

A: Good things do happen in the House. It is how we discuss how we spend your money.

A: Savage. Don't judge the House by Question Period, it does do good things.

Q: To Savage. You said many good things about child care but you also said that it was best for children to be with people who love them. Why do you just assume that it is a forgone conclusion that parents can't stay home.

A: Yes it would be ideal for children to be at home. But that is not reality as many can't live on one income. All children deserve an equal start.

Q: For Finley. Is the reason some people can't stay at home who want to because of tax.

A: It can be but it can also be a lifestyle choice. However some people want to stay home and the UCC helps with that.

Q: In Quebec not everyone can get into the universal system. It is very expensive for the state and doesn't give choice. It costs the government about $50 a day. Would the government be willing to give that same money to parents to stay home?

A: Savage. My wife stays at home. That is a choice but some don't have a choice. They must have this equal access.

A: I learned from my Granny, children can learn from family and parents too.

Q: He has three children and his wife stays at home. Some people really need a double income and some people choose it for lifestyle reasons. Why should I pay for that? Does your policy offer anything for me in my situation?

A: Savage. People said that about health care, but this plan would be a benefit to society. We have bad literacy.

Q: So your party does nothing for our family?

A: Savage. It makes a stronger country.

Q: Having one parent stay home is a choice made by a majority of parents. But your policy will penalize those parents.

A: Savage. They recognize that it doesn't suit everyone but it is like health care and a police force. It is for Canada. Lots of children don't have many benefits.

A: Finley. We aren't saying that daycare is bad we just want to help all parents make choices.

Q: In Quebec it helped the middle class, not so much those on a lower income. Why have a one size fits all? Why not target just those who really need help.

A: Savage. Programs for the poor are poor programs. We need a universal program. If we had people opting out of health care we would have lower quality care for the poor.

Q: How would it practically work?

A: Savage. We have worked on this. It has to vary from province to province as they have different needs in different areas.

A: Finley. The Conservatives all provinces are treated equally and given money based on population. The Liberals have said before that the UCC benefit was a waste of money.

A: Savage. We wouldn't have implemented it but we wouldn't take it away. We give money fairly but the provinces are given flexibility.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Grandaddy of HR Complaints

Free speech bloggers like to go on about "what ifs". What if you had competing claims of discrimination? Couldn't some of these "rights" violate other people's "rights"? Who wins?

Well we will now have a chance to find out. There is a case which is (or should be) currently going on in BC in which condo owners are being sued by two different people in one case.

One person is suing them for not allowing him to continue to keep a service animal.

The other person is suing them for allowing the first person to keep a service animal for a period of time.

Where do we begin? How do we judge this one? They both have disabilities. Both have medical requirements that necessitate/are helped by living with a dog/living in a dog free environment.

Does the first person to live in the condo win? Does the person with the most serious requirement win? Who defines serious? Neither appear to be necessarily life and death.

Do they both loose?

Or should we do it alphabetically?

We all know about cases where people are sued for not being accommodating enough but being sued for being too accommodating?

What on earth was the condo supposed to have done to prevent this from happening? Does the law cover cases where you can't keep it because regardless of what decision you make you are breaking it? They couldn't both stay, and you couldn't kick one or the other or both out of the apartment.

I look forward to hearing the answers.

But I'll bet one thing, the BCHRT will be completely deaf to the irony of the Kafkaesque travesty they are involved in and will judge the case on some very narrow margin of "balancing".

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

International Women's Day

Waris Dirie should be a spokesperson for feminism. She was born in Somalia, suffered FGM as a child, and ran away at 13 from marriage to a much older man.

But Waris Dirie takes issue with something that most feminists probably celebrate, International Women's Day. Not because she is opposed to standing up for women, she dedicates her time to fighting FGM around the world, but because she sees this as a denigration of women.

Dirie said to Reuters "Every day, women move mountains. It is an insult to have an international women's day,".

One can only imagine what she might think about quotas, feminist affirmative action, and other icons of those "standing up" for the rights of "oppressed" women.

Like this one in India, which puts asside 1/3 of the seats in Parliament for women. What happens if a constituency wants to elect a man instead? Either the country actually wants that kind of thing, in which case they will probably start to elect women as good ones decide to run, or they won't in which case will they have to have a lottery for which constituency has to get a woman?

Nor is India alone in having/wanting quotas in various things. They exist all over, Canada included.

If there could be something more crude than "I am woman, hear me roar" it would have to be "I am woman, see my government-mandated hit, uh, persons".

What was feminism up to anyway?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Wilders next Dutch Prime Minister?

I don't know what I think about this. On the one hand you've got to appreciate those who fight against censors. On the other hand, would I vote for Geert Wilders? Not in a hurry.

There is a problem in that Wilders isn't a very convincing champion for freedom of religion and freedom of speech. He wants the right to say what he wants to say but he wants to ban the Koran. Not such a good idea. For one thing if you want to ban everything that could be interpreted as supporting religious violence the Torah and Bible hit the chopping block as well. Sure Christians and Jews do not typically interpret them that way (as, practically speaking, few Muslims do with the Koran) but you can find it if you want it.

Then of course there is the head covering issue. A rather personal one for me as I wear a headcovering (as most Christian women did, at least in worship, until not that many decades ago). I know burkas are perhaps a slightly different issue (maybe, I can't say I'd support banning them either) but hijabs are surely not that different than a cross, tzit-tzit, nun's habit, turban, or any other religious article of dress.

And add to that the fact that he is hardly right wing in a traditional Judeo-Christian way. He supports homosexuality for one thing.

I mean, is the man anything except anti-Islam? Perhaps. He has a few other objectives listed, more along the traditional right-wing lines. Lower taxes and so forth.

But I sure get why Muslim's don't like him. And I'm not sure that Christians should either.

Don't kick me out of the free speech club here, but is anti-Muslim hype sometimes getting in the way of clear vision?

Airline Food

Just to make you laugh.

On the left we have a piece of broccoli and some peppers in a brown glue-like oil and on the right the chef had prepared some mashed potato. The potato masher had obviously broken and so it was decided the next best thing would be to pass the potatoes through the digestive tract of a bird.....

By now I was actually starting to feel a little hypoglycaemic. I needed a sugar hit. Luckily there was a small cookie provided. It had caught my eye earlier due to it’s baffling presentation: [see image 4, above].

It appears to be in an evidence bag from the scene of a crime. A CRIME AGAINST BLOODY COOKING. Either that or some sort of back-street underground cookie, purchased off a gun-toting maniac high on his own supply of yeast. You certainly wouldn’t want to be caught carrying one of these through customs. Imagine biting into a piece of brass Richard. That would be softer on the teeth than the specimen above.

More here...

Status of Women by 2020

MercatorNet is running a series on "12 Ways to Improve the Status of Women by 2020". 12 women, including yours truly, were invited to contribute ideas. Here is my submission in 200 words or less.

We need a new age of chivalry

“That is true culture which helps us to work for the social betterment of all.” ~ Henry Ward Beecher

How is our culture treating women? Some like to go on about "equality" and "the wage gap", but are we forgetting one of the simplest, and yet most effective ways to improve the everyday lives of women?

Good manners.

Really? Manners? Isn't that a little, I don't know, simplistic? Trivial? Juvenile? Old-fashioned?

Maybe. But let's think about it.

Women are suffering because they decided that chivalry was oppressive and degrading, that they could be, wanted to be, "one of the guys". They made it clear that they want to pay their own way, carve their own path.

And men took them at their word.

So we have dirty language in public, pornography at the supermarket, a growing coarseness in entertainment and public discourse... and nobody holds doors open anymore...

Manners were put in place to protect women, to help them, to make them feel comfortable, to provide a road map for relationships, and to encourage men to treat women properly.

Remind me what was wrong with that again?

Rebekah is a homeschool graduate, 20 years old, blogger at missmarprelate.blogspot.com, and does event blogs for conservative events. She lives in Ontario, Canada.

Parts One and Two including articles from Carolyn Moynihan, Jennifer Roback Morse, Caterina F. Lorenzo-Molo, Melinda Tankard Reist and others.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Olympic Record

Three cheers for the Canadian Olympic Team and their record haul of gold medals. You did great.

I actually got to see some of the events as I was in a place with a TV (we don't have one at home) so that was pretty cool.

And we Own the Podium, at least the top step.

Go Canada!