Canada is Free and Freedom is Its Nationality

Sir Wilfrid Laurier

Monday, December 27, 2010

Favourite Pictures 2010

I thought this picture was a dead winner for best political picture of 2010

Until I saw some of the other pictures from the Ukrainian Parliament smoke bomb/egg fight. The contest suddenly became too close to call.

Note flying egg.

The moment when you realize that Canadian politics really is too tame, journalistic howling about political incivility aside.

So what are the bets on Harper v. Ignatieff scrum fight?

Friday, December 24, 2010

Assange Leak Round 2

For the record, I think it is not only extremely funny but altogether just that Julian Assange has been the victim of a leak of confidential police reports.

And the irony of his indignation is just perfect.

Leftists never do get it do they?

Motivation and Marriage

My article, first published on MercatorNet Family Edge Blog.

For most people large, tight families who do just about everything en masse is the stuff of legend, or reality TV shows. But as the oldest of ten children I live with it every day, this article for example was interrupted to rescue a precious stuffed bunny from the new puppy, and mediate who got to wear the princess dress.

So you can imagine the results when two such families, with eight and ten children respectively, are brought together by a courtship and later engagement. Actually, unless you were brought up in a similar family you probably can’t. Suffice to say that it includes insane amounts of food, folk dancing, practical jokes involving balloons, chicken slaughtering (honest!), and a home-grown film company to make a documentary of the whole relationship. But the slaughter of innocent chickens has not been the only result of this engagement.

 For my brother (19) it has also meant that adolescence, and an era of low responsibility, is officially over. While a little while ago he could afford to hesitate about committing to a particular career, now getting, and keeping, a stable, good paying job as a tradesman’s apprentice has suddenly become of vital importance. After all, if he looses his job he is going to have a very hard time convincing his fiancee’s parents that a 2011 wedding is a good idea. A reliable car has become more than a luxury, and he suddenly has no interest in spending money on computers or other non essentials. Marriage has been a great motivator.

I know my brother isn’t alone among young people when it comes to falling in love, but while it has driven him to grow up, complete milestones in education and employment, and save money, for many people the pressures that created those achievements are lacking. Last week the Institute for Marriage and Family Canada released a report on the causes of delayed adulthood. One of those, they suggest, may be co-habitation.

It would be very simplistic to suggest that co-habitation is the only reason for delayed adulthood, and in fact it may be more of a symptom than a cause. But it does rate some thoughtful consideration. If few people were willing to live together before marriage, we could reasonably expect marriage rates to climb dramatically, most people aren’t willing to wait forever for intimate companionship. And with an increase in marriage rates, young adults would be highly motivated to “get going” with their lives. While Mom and Dad may be willing to subsidize your apartment while you are going to college, with or without a clear notion of who your roommate is, they are probably less likely to do so once you get married.

Without a doubt there are myriad reasons for the lengthened period between adolescence and independent adulthood that we are seeing today, but cohabitation cannot be helping. When my brother gets married next year he will have to assume all the responsibilities of an adult, and he has risen to that challenge. But what if that challenge didn’t exist? We have been asking, “Why won’t they grow up?” Maybe we should be asking, “Why should they grow up?”

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Are you obsessive and troubled?

Though so. 

I mean, I really hate to pick on Heather Mallick (Actually, I don't. So what I lied, sue me) but sometimes (always) she deserves it.
Abortion rights across Canada are like computer-generated word clouds, or to use a more old-fashioned analogy, ordinary sky clouds. Abortion availability is good and prominent in bigger cities in bigger provinces, wispy in small towns and the more backward provinces like New Brunswick. And in P.E.I., as always, it’s a heartless and empty sky.
Stop the presses. You mean that abortion is like everything else in Canada, more readily available in urban centres than in small towns? Who woulda thunk?

You can talk Anne of Green Gables all you like but imagine this country containing a province that treats its women the way the Irelands do. You must gather cash in your apron from kind friends and leave the island for the 10-minute procedure that’s easy to get in Toronto but would send you straight to hell in Potato Island, you filthy slut. So no change there then.
Heather Mallick, whatever her innumerable faults, has a gift for evocative language. Or at least would-be evocative language that comes across as rather humorously manipulative unless you happen to agree with her anyway. The kind motherly (oops) woman, bravely defying the judgementalism of her backwards and faintly sinister community, tearfully gathering money in her apron, deposited there by kind friends who look like Judy Dench in a period film. Oh, it tugs at the heart strings. And yes I can easily imagine living in a country like Ireland. Apparently I do anyway, but I will consider Ireland as a backup destination if something ever gets into the water supply and a certain person becomes Prime Minister.
New Brunswick is continuing its torment of Dr. Henry Morgentaler, the bravest man in Canada, by dragging its heels on his lawsuit that would make the province actually obey health-care laws. Abortion is legal and covered under medicare, therefore free. But since timely abortions are extraordinarily difficult to get in the only two provincial hospitals that do them, women have to go to clinics where they pay upfront.
Well I'll be dipped in butter and rolled in breadcrumbs, the bravest man in Canada is he? And I never even knew it. Next they'll be telling us all the marijuana protesters are the bravest men (Ed: people Marmalade, no sexist language) in Canada too, after all they risk going to jail for their deeply held beliefs, and they aren't even risking having to make an acceptance speech when they get an honorary doctorate! One swoons at such manly courage. (and maybe Captain Kirk can step aside long enough for Morgentaler to become the next GG write in)
The province is clearly waiting for the good doctor, who is 87 and not in good health, to die. In his boyhood, my dear friend Henry also distressed people by not dying. They happened to be Nazi soldiers in Auschwitz, and no, I am not making a link. I am, however, pointing out an irony.
No we wouldn't be making that link now would we? We would just be making that link and then saying we didn't make that link from which people can draw their own links to match the linkage of their hearts to the gates of heaven or hell (because we all know that only pro-choice people get to choose heaven). Actually speaking of irony, the pro-lifers have a great deal to say on the irony of a holocaust survivor leading the charge to kill babies who are "unwanted", "imperfect", and "nonpersons". Did I mean to make that link? You judge for yourselves (for the more obtuse, the answer is yes).
There are now three women in the Conservative New Brunswick cabinet. One would hope they’d extend a generous hand to their youthful rural sisters and push for abortion care in the province. Thinking of you, Attorney General and Minister of Justice Marie-Claude Blais!
The SisterhoodTM! (Mutually exclusive with the deviant category defined as pro-life individuals of the gender "female")
Calgary has seen more anti-choice clamour this year, although the protesters at the University of Calgary appear to be the same as those who protest at other universities too, reports the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada. This rather dilutes the local effect. Calgary is a sophisticated city. I won’t compare its new mayor to ours, as it hurts too much.
Oh shoot. I had an open mind on the subject of Naheed Nenshi (alright I know nothing about him whatsoever, but I was prepared to approve if the evidence supported such an endorsement) but now I am afraid I must irrevocably turn my back on any thoughts of considering the man anything but a Calgary tragedy. Unless of course Mallick really only supports him because she thinks a Muslim mayor in Calgary just sticks it in the eye of Alberta (Disregarding the fact that they voted for him) and thus her support is purely racially and religiously based and has nothing to do with policy. Hm, could be. Maybe I better continue to keep an open mind on the subject of Mayor Nenshi.
And wonder of wonders, pro-life students manage to simultaneously enroll in U of O, U of C, and several dozen other campuses across Canada. Where are they getting that money? Where is the CRA? Why aren't they auditing these miraculous students?
Another issue is Bill C-510 on “coerced abortion.” Priests for Life loves it, and is passionate in its desire for women to bear more children, even unwanted ones.
One assumes that, by definition, coerced abortions were not unwanted by the women. Who then? The men in their lives? Mallick thinks that if a man doesn't want a child he should be able to force a woman to abort it, and kill her if she refuses? Before she sues me I know she doesn't, but that interpretation aside I am at some loss to understand what exactly the above sentence meant, if anything.
As always, I see political debates in graphic terms, mainly because I translate debates on principle into the suffering they cause to actual humans. And I remain disgusted by the continuing efforts of anti-choicers to figuratively stick their fingers into the uteri of women, as though they have a right to set up shop there.
In which case I am sure she absolutely loves the fact that public displays containing images of aborted fetuses allow us to move the debate into the realm of graphic human suffering. After all, that is her chosen battle ground right? Right? 
They do not. A person’s body is their own fenced-off area and it is their choice what they do inside it.
Except put it in front of an abortion clinic.
And yet we have hard-right Canadian newspapers and magazines debating whether women should be allowed even to have caesarean births or to cut back on the number of embryos that survive implantation during IVF procedures. No, a woman shouldn’t have twins if she doesn’t wish to. No, she shouldn’t have to be an octomom if her IVF has been badly handled.
And, incidentally my dear Mallick, we have every single letter to the editor on the subject professing horror and disgust that anyone would murder a child's twin as a measure of convenience. Do you really enjoy living in that kind of Canada Mallick? Knowing that the person you say "hi" to every day shudders at the thought of killing a twin so that the remaining child can have more new clothes? Actually, I take that all back. As you have yourself admitted to not knowing anyone who is a serious Christian I assume you live in a fairly sheltered Canada and don't have to deal with that. My mistake.
Women will find it almost impossible to be self-supporting or have satisfying careers until they can direct their own reproduction. So childbirth must often be delayed till their 30s. As usual, Quebec is at the forefront, paying for IVF procedures but with the goal of a woman ending up with one healthy infant as opposed to six damaged ones (which is what happens in private clinics that charge enormous fees and roll the dice on infant health).
Because most women love to live through the pain of infertility and IVF because no one told them that glib statements about delaying childbirth have less than glib realities. I'm not forcing anyone not to use birth control. I just prefer that we don't kill children already in existence. I also, for the record, oppose mothers being able to kill their dependent children when they realize a year after cute Suzy was born that being a single Mom really puts a damper on education and career.
It will never end, this need for troubled obsessive people — the Harperites of Canada — to take ownership of others, to prod inside the female body — and into the stuff of our souls — for control. Should Stephen Harper win a majority in a possible spring election, every right women have won over the decades will drift into the ether, like clouds.
And here we are again, back at Harper and the conservatives. It's always the Harper, isn't it. I sure hope for Mallick's sake that liberals, or worse yet NDP, don't take over Canada. She'd be out of business overnight. Unless you count several years of victory cheers business. 
   But just savor this passage for a moment, to prod into the "stuff of our souls - for control" because we just know that under a Harper majority women would lose the right to vote (honest, that is what that says. Read it), and before you knew it every woman in Canada would have invested in a Julia Child pearl necklace and be scrubbing floors all day long for 50 cents an hour, if they were allowed to work at all. 

You almost have to feel sorry for someone who's entire security and assurance of freedom is nothing more than clouds, to be whisked away by malevolent men at the drop of a hat if a few seats tip the wrong way. Actually one really does feel sorry for her, it must be hard to live in such an angst ridden "reality". 

But I'm still going to laugh at her if she insists on parading her paranoia to the world of Star readers.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Heroine of human dignity: Mildred Fay Jefferson

So the new (or new to me) email feature of blogger works! Cool.  Anyway, my latest article on MercatorNet.

Heroine of human dignity: Mildred Fay Jefferson

The first black woman to graduate from Harvard medical school used her position to defend the humanity of the unborn. sent this using ShareThis.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Not ALL the British are Crazy

Just most of them.

However one sane judge still seems to know what the phrases "religious freedom" and "freedom of speech" mean. And that they actually apply to Christians too.

Talk about judicial thoughtcrime.

Maybe they should put up posters about that.

When Quoting Orwell Feels Like a Broken Record

Maybe I am the only person in the world who feels like this, but the huge flat-screen TVs at Wal-Mart checkouts really get on my nerves. It is bad enough that you are trapped in a line up like a hamster in a too small cage, but then they have to gratuitously rub it in by playing advertisements at you the entire time. Talk about adding insult to injury.

I just refuse to look.

Now, in the States not only will you be forced to endure perky advertisements featuring smiling families selling you trashy clothing or electronics, you will also be forced to watch ads (either perky or ominous, no news on that yet) encouraging you to report "suspicious behaviour" to the authorities in order to fight terrorism and crime. While the CNN story doesn't elaborate on what constitutes "suspicious behaviour", we may be able to gain some insight from British anti-terrorism campaigns.

British radio-ad transcript:
 Female Voice over:
How d’you tell the difference between someone just video-ing a crowded place and someone who’s checking it out for a terrorist attack?
How can you tell if someone’s buying unusual quantities of stuff for a good reason or if they’re planning to make a bomb?
What’s the difference between someone just hanging around and someone behaving suspiciously?
How can you tell if they’re a normal everyday person, or a terrorist?
Male voice over:
The answer is, you don’t have to.


 Or, my personal favourites, the parodies.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The HRCs - Crazy or Evil? Discuss.

I thought I was past being surprised, if not angered, by the Human Rights Commissions, I really did. I have seen them make stupid decisions, I have seen them make not so stupid decisions. I have seen them on innumerable occasions spill mind-numbing quantities of time, money, and ink on the process of dismissing vindictive and fabricated complaints. 

But they managed it. Oh yes, did they ever.

The Quebec HRC has just awarded a pilot by the name of Javed Latif $319,000 in compensation for racial discrimination by Bombardier when it refused to allow him to take pilot training at one of their facilities.

Why did Bombardier do this?

Because, as it turned out, the United States considered him to be a "threat to aviation or national security" and refused to allow him to train in the United States.

Bombardier, after thinking about this for probably less than thirty seconds, decided that if an individual was on the United States' no-fly list (or at least no-flying-training list, reports are a little vague) they probably didn't want to train him to fly jets.

Reasons 1-30 for this decision probably read, "Bad idea for really obvious reasons that no one should have to explain", number 31 was that if they trained him their training facility could be decertified as a training center for US pilots (For this reason alone I would expect them to win the HRC complaint on the grounds of undue hardship), and number 32 was, to quote Bombardier  “If there’s a threat, in good conscience… it ends there. It’s a business call. It’s a decision. It’s a safety call.” (As a potential flyer, thank you)

We won't even go into the consequences of if, God forbid, anything had happened and it turned out that Bombardier had ignored clear warnings of potential trouble, can anyone say  Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab? Methinks $300,000 is suddenly starting to look very small indeed.

But far worse and more sinister than the $300,000, which is probably Bombardier's annual paper clip budget, is the other order the Quebec HRC handed down. They have ordered Bombardier to  “stop applying or considering the standards or decisions of American authorities in terms of ‘national security’”.

Read that again, then continue.

The Americans say, "This person is a potential terrorist". Bombardier says "I never heard that, are you ready to start flight training yet?"

And we have to go through naked scanners and "enhanced pat-downs" on the less than million to one chance that a random person pulled out of an airport lineup is going to be a terrorist.

Why must they ignore American information when deciding whether or not to train a pilot? Because according to a Canadian law professor, American security laws "are based on stereotypes and racial profiling, and identify these groups (Muslims and Arabs) as national security threats.”


A few closing facts for the record. As soon as Mr. Latif was taken off the list as a security threat in 2008, Bombardier happily provided him with all the training he wanted. Bombardier has also trained a number of Muslim and Middle Eastern pilots since 9/11, just not ones that were considered a security risk. So obviously this was no pattern of systematic racial profiling on Bombardier's part.

Also, one may feel sorry for Mr. Latif if, as seems more than likely, he is an innocent person who got put on the list by mistake. But that's not Bombardier's fault, and they made the only responsible decision. After all, what if he wasn't innocent? And even if Bombardier had checked with the Canadian government (as they were faulted for not doing) and the Canadian government didn't have anything on him, there would still exist a significant question mark. 

There is security that is over the top, and there is security that just makes sense. Not letting the mouse guard the cheese, or the potential terrorist fly the plane, seems like common sense to me.

Tasha Kheiriddian
National Post
The Star 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Just for Fun

So for the record I have no idea what this is supposed to be advertising, but it is a pretty cool movie. Does your subway turn into a roller coaster?

H/T Samuel Kordik

Petition on Human Smuggling

   JJ Honasan, someone I know from the Canada Student Forums (Great event by the way, one which I highly recommend attending if at all possible), has put up a petition in support of a "National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking in Canada" as put forward by MP Joy Smith, one of the speakers at last year's CSF.

"It is quintessential that Canada have a National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking. According to the US Department of State’s 2008 Trafficking in Persons Report, Canada is a source, transit, and destination country for human trafficking.

The RCMP estimates that 600-800 persons are trafficked into Canada annually, predominantly for sexual purposes, and that an additional 1,500-2,200 persons are trafficked through Canada into the United States.

Sign it.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Drip, Drip, LEAK!!!

In Yes Minister, the incomparable show of "Why politicians are idiots and bureaucrats are the enemy" they depend a great deal on leaks. Drip this here, drip that there, embarrass so and so here. "The ship of state is the only known vessel that leaks from the top down".

As far as I can see the reason for freedom of speech is that there is always a tension, or the possibility of tension, between the rulers and subjects. Even in generally contented and peaceful nations, in which category I would put Canada, has issues in that regard. Sometimes as a result of the government trying to encourage too much contentment and peace, hate speech legislation springs to mind.

So to my mind there is a continual war, a great game, a gentleman's duel between the government and the people. They try to keep us in the dark about things, we try to find out about things. They try to play their games, we try to make a decent life for ourselves and ignore them as far as possible. They try to leak us the info they want leaked, we try to get more. Sometimes we cooperate with the government, we help them suppress information, we follow the laws, usually when we believe it is our best interest to do so or we can't be bothered resisting.

So I don't really see the point of getting too upset about the wikileaks affair. Maybe we scored a point, maybe the ship of state leaked again (unlikely I suppose but...), maybe no one scored a point and it was all just meaningless. (We learned that Canadians have an inferiority complex re the States, a pond is also wet and the Sahara is also dry.)

But I don't get the free speechers saying this shouldn't have happened. Why not? The claim about costing lives is very sketchy at this point, and the same could be said, is said, with potentially more credibility about "hate speech".

It embarrassed a lot of people. That's called life. I don't like having my country embarrassed more than the next person, probably less than the next lefty. But, if the truth will set you free, then what are we afraid of?

And if the truth is too much for us to take, do we deserve to continue?

And if it is all lies, well the great refrain of free speech is combat bad speech with good speech.

Do we believe that when it really matters?

"Anyone who trades liberty for security deserves neither liberty nor security" Ben Franklin

Go for it Mr. Franklin.

And don't kill Julian Assange.

Postscript to Hats

As a commentator has mentioned that my last post on hats is not as comprehensive, or inclusive, as might be desired. To remedy that I present Hats - Male.