Deborah Gyapong: January 2006

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

How and why Belinda crossed the floor

Thanks to Andrew Coyne for linking to this story in Toronto Life about how and why Belinda Stronach crossed the floor last spring.

Sylvia Fraser writes of the role former Ontario premier David Peterson played.


Peterson called Tim Murphy, Martin’s chief of staff, to explore Stronach’s welcome if she crossed the floor. “I think Tim thought I was just blowing smoke.” After also gaining Stronach’s consent, Peterson insisted on being the only go-between. “Both sides had to trust me. This was as sensitive as a spy coming over the wall.” Murphy was to speak only to the PM. Stronach could consult Mark Entwistle, an adviser during her leadership bid, now a trusted friend. That Entwistle had once been press secretary for Brian Mulroney, who’d been supportive of Stronach’s bid for the Tory leadership, only demonstrated how byzantine these negotiations had already become.

During the weekend’s clandestine discussions, it was Peterson who insisted Stronach receive a cabinet post. “This was no backbencher,” he said. “She was a high-impact political player who deserved her chance to play.” It was serendipitous that the Human Resources and Skills Development portfolio, containing all of Stronach’s signature issues—education, empowerment of labour, a competitive, knowledge-based economy—was lying fallow. “It was beautiful the way the whole thing came together,” said Peterson.

On Sunday night, Stronach confided in her father, auto parts tycoon Frank Stronach. She still had one unmet request: “I wanted to look Paul Martin in the eye to make sure we had the same values.”

What do you think of this commercial involving a priest?

Lost Budgie has the storyboard for a sex-fraught commercial involving a priest, who blesses a hot-looking babe with a Diet Coke.

What do you think of this ad?

I'm troubled by it, because it mixes the holy gesture---the blessing--with the profane--the Diet Coke commercialism, and the sexually inticing imagery.

It's subtle though, and that's why the profanation is even more dangerous. A lot of people will look at this and not understand why Christians might have a problem with it. And not care. But hey, I stopped drinking Diet Coke long ago because the artificial sweetener in it gives me awful headaches.

Monday, January 30, 2006

An inside look at the Martinite takeover of the Liberals

Back when I worked for the Canadian Alliance in the Opposition Leaders' Office, I recall reading news stories about suitcases of cash being used to buy up Liberal party memberships to ensure that Paul Martin would have a lock on the leadership.

This story by The National Post's Adam Radwanski reminds me of what I'd read.

It was only when we got to Windsor for the convention that I realized just how much the Martinites had invested in the campaign -- literally. With the money I'd scraped together, I'd rented a couple of cheap yellow school buses to transport my supporters. My opponent's voters turned up in a fleet of Greyhounds. The bulk of them rounded up from a couple of high schools, they had everything -- food, board, delegate fees, liquor -- paid for. Some of the kids were informed they wouldn't get a ride back to Toronto if they didn't vote the right way.
Thanks to Andrew Coyne for the link.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Getting rid of dependency on Middle East oil

I wish more North American ingenuity would be put towards weaning our economy off its dependence on oil from the Middle East.

Here's a site with some ideas on how that might be done.

We must reduce the strategic importance of oil in the global economy, to be interchange-able with other energy resources. Today, the transportation sector accounts for two-thirds of oil consumption.

The Set America Free Coalition presents a blueprint for transforming the US transportation sector to halve US oil consumption by 2025 by promoting non-petroleum, next-generation fuels - and vehicles designed to use them

Google cooperating with China to block searches

Google's cooperation with China to customize its search engine to block certain phrases has a number of people concerned about freedom, and freedom of speech in particular, upset.

Instapundit has a humorous take on Google's new motto:

I can't seem to find the link for this one; I think it was on a Rooters website somewhere. But I just read a shocking news report: In the wake of its decision to censor its Chinese search results, Google is changing its corporate motto from the original "Don't be evil."

The new motto, according to unnamed company sources, is: "Be semi-evil. Be quasi-evil. Be the margarine of evil. Be the Diet Coke of evil — just one calorie; not evil enough!"


Go see what Michelle Malkin has to say about a new logo for the company.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Dr. Sanity's take on the Palestinian election

The election results in Palestine are troubling, to say the least, with Hamas winning in a landslide. That has led some pundits to wonder whether President George W. Bush's attempts to bring democracy to the middle east is sheer folly. Dr. Sanity thinks otherwise.

She writes:

So the Palestinians voted for a bunch of murderous thugs in their first free election in decades. Their choice was between two groups of them, in fact--one marginally less suicidal and homicidal than the other. What did you expect?

That's the way it goes sometimes. You give people a chance to make their lives better and they make the worse possible decisions. That's usually because they haven't ever had to take responsibility for the consequences of their choices. They have been shielded and buffered by well-meaning morons, who protect them from those consequences and who encourage them in their psychological projection and denial of reality by doing so.

The people of Germany voted rather enthusiastically for Adolph Hitler, you might recall. Look where that got them and the rest of the world for that matter. It was a big mess.

There was a chance--an ever so small one--that given a free choice, the Palestinians might do somthing to change their situation. They didn't. In fact, they have made their situation likely a lot worse.

Let me tell you about change. Change is very very difficult for people. You try being a psychiatrist sometime, Professor, and you will understand that.

Every day I deal with women who remain in abusive relationships; men who are addicted to substances and refuse to stop taking them, even when they are slowly being killed by them; people who persist in following a course of action that is self-destructive and harmful--usually not only to them, but to those who care about them. Sometimes it takes quite a while for them to turn the situation around, and the first step is usually after a major disaster, when they realize they have noone to blame for their situation but themselves. This is quite a painful experience--as insight usually is; but it can lead to positive change.


Read the whole thing here:

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Pro-family and pro-life reaction to Canadian election

The Western Catholic Reporter is carrying the story I wrote on the Canadian election here:


The narrow Conservative election victory Jan. 23 was a rejection of Prime Minister Paul Martin's values, but may bring only a temporary respite from disturbing social trends, say pro-family groups.

Mr. Martin used same-sex marriage and abortion to paint the Tories as rabid right-wingers - while conveniently ignoring the dozens of social conservatives among his own MPs who sided against his policy," said Calgary Bishop Fred Henry.

"Reminiscent of Esau who sold his birthright for a mess of pottage, Martin distanced himself even further from the teaching of the Church on the right to life of the unborn," Henry said in a Jan. 24 email.

Martin, in the latter days of the campaign, had zeroed in on abortion as a Canadian value and accused the Tories of having a hidden agenda to remove abortion rights.

Former Liberal MP Pat O'Brien, co-chair of Vote Marriage Canada, described Martin's tactic as desperate.

"I think that was the low point of his political career, when he was using moral issues in direct contradiction to what his beliefs as a Catholic ought to be," said O'Brien, who is also Catholic. "He's ended his career not standing up for the moral values I believe he should have stood up for, and yet he still lost."

Stephen Harper a "cerebral" Christian

Here's a story I filed on the religious beliefs of Canada's new prime minister-elect.

Now that Conservative Party Leader Stephen Harper is going to be prime minister of Canada, interest is growing in his religious beliefs, especially after his party was painted by the Liberals as having a scary, hidden religious agenda.

In his acceptance speech in Jan. 23, Harper thanked supporters for their donations and their prayers and closed the speech, as he often does, with the words "God bless Canada."

Some might wonder what he means.

According to Lloyd Mackey, author of The Pilgrimage of Stephen Harper, Harper is a Protestant who "customizes" his faith, as do Canada's other political leaders.

In other words, Harper is a critical thinker, who "does not necessary take the word" of his pastor or religious leader as the ultimate authority, Mackey says.

A post-literate future?

What happens when images replace words. If Johnny can't read, what's the downside. William S. Lind writes:

A people cut off from its past. The West's traditions are mostly written, contained in its great literature, beginning with the Old and New Testaments and the works of classical Greeks and Romans. When those written works go unread, the content of Western culture runs out into history's sands. If Western culture loses its content, then the West loses its culture, and becomes . . . what? Probably extinct, something the West's birthrates point to in any case.

o A post-literate culture will have little ability to think logically. Reason and logic demand words; images, in contrast, feed emotions. It should not surprise us that Americans no longer think but rather feel. Again we find ourselves up against one of the bedrocks of Western culture; logic and reason have been particularly Western characteristics. As that bedrock crumbles, what will happen to the structure erected upon it, a structure we call the Modern Age? Post-literate and post-modern may be cause and effect.

o A people cut off from its past, largely unable to reason and directed primarily by images, will be easy to manipulate. In fact, the people will be as easy to manipulate and control as the images themselves. This is a phenomenon we already see all around us, from the power of commercial advertising to the use of television by the cultural Marxists to psychologically condition us. Want to "normalize" homosexuality? Just run television show after television show where the only normal-seeming white male is a homosexual.

o A people that lives by the image rather than by the word will easily become entrapped in virtual realities, something again which we already see, especially among the very post-literate young. Unfortunately, all virtual realities come from Hell; if there can be more than one reality, there can be more than one God. On a purely practical level, all virtual realities eventually collapse; the more powerful they are, the greater the crash will be. America's crash could be of epic proportions.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Christian unity


That was the view from my study today. I posted Father Peter Jardine's sermon on unity here, and I recommend as well you take a look at Father Tom Rosica's column in Sunday's Toronto Sun.


And take a look at my post over at The Master's Artist today on writing about evil.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Turgenev and Marx

Over the Christmas holidays, I read Theodore Dalrymple's Our Culture, What's Left of It, and loved his lucid, morally profound observations. One of his essays compared Karl Marx with a contemporary Ivan Turgenev. You can read the entire essay here.

Dalrymple, a British doctor, writes of Marx:

His lack of interest in the individual lives and fates of real human beings—what Mikhail Bakunin once called his lack of sympathy with the human race—shines out in his failure to recognize the often noble attempts by workingmen to maintain a respectable family life in the face of the greatest difficulties. Was it really true that they had no family ties, and that their children were mere articles of commerce? For whom were they mere articles of commerce? It is typical of Marx’s unrigorous mind that he should leave the answer ambiguous, as if commerce could exist independently of the people carrying it on. Only his outrage, like the grin of the Cheshire cat, is clear.

Marx’s firm grasp of unreality is also evident in his failure to imagine what would happen when, through the implementation of the ideas of radical intellectuals influenced by his mode of thinking, the bourgeois family really would break down, when "the practical absence of the family" really would become an undeniable social fact. Surely the increased sexual jealousy, the widespread child neglect and abuse, and the increase in the interpersonal violence (all in conditions of unprecedented material prosperity) should have been utterly predictable to anybody with a deeper knowledge than his of the human heart.

Compare Marx’s crudity with Turgenev’s subtlety, alluded to by Henry James, who knew Turgenev in Paris and wrote an essay about him a year after his death: "Like all men of a large pattern, he was composed of many different pieces; and what was always striking in him was the mixture of simplicity with the fruit of the most various observation. . . . I had [once] been moved to say of him that he had the aristocratic temperament: a remark which in the light of further knowledge seemed singularly inane. He was not subject to any definition of that sort, and to say that he was democratic would be (though his political ideal was democracy) to give an equally superficial account of him. He felt and understood the opposite sides of life; he was imaginative, speculative, anything but literal. . . . Our Anglo-Saxon, Protestant, moralistic, conventional standards were far away from him, and he judged things with a freedom and spontaneity in which I found a perpetual refreshment. His sense of beauty, his love of truth and right, were the foundation of his nature; but half the charm of his conversation was that one breathed an air in which cant phrases and arbitrary measurements simply sounded ridiculous."

I don’t think anyone could have said this of Marx.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Will Vote Marriage Canada help or hurt Tories?


Vote Marriage Canada released the list of the pro-marriage candidates it is endorsing. You can find the list here.

Former Progressive Conservative MP Elsie Wayne, who represents the organization in Atlantic Canada told a news conference today Canada had to return to the its foundations. She specifically mentioned returning to the Bible, and quoted the late Pope John Paul II.

Some marriage-supporting staffers from various parties seemed worried that Elsie had "hurt the cause" by sounding like a stereotypical Bible thumper. Meanwhile, Christians and social conservatives are being portrayed as modern day bogeymen by the Liberal campaign, despite the fact that many Liberal candidates are pro-marriage and pro-life. The few journalists who watched the event seemed to think the Vote Marriage group speaking out three days before the election would help turn people away from the Tories.

It will be interesting to see whether the candidates they endorsed do well. I'll be keeping an eye on that Monday night.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Leaders muse about public policy

Here's my version of the story about Canada's political leaders essays on faith and public policy via The Western Catholic Reporter.

You can find links to the essays and Faith Today magazine where they appeared here.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The Liberals are bragging about trying to shut down conservative blogs

Take a look at this press release at the Liberal Party website. They're bragging about their attempt to shut down Blogging Tories.

THE FACTS


The Conservative Party may be in contravention of the Canada Elections Act and third-party financing laws over the “Blogging Tories” website.
On January 18, 2006, two former Conservatives, Eugene Parks and Carole Jamieson, asked the Chief Electoral Officer to investigate a potential breech of Canada’s election laws by the Conservative Party of Canada.

They say that they have passed on evidence to the Chief Electoral Officer that the “Blogging Tories” website is an initiative of the Conservative party, rather than of individual Canadians.

There are strict spending limits for political parties during election campaigns. And there are also limits on how much other groups (third parties) can spend during elections. Under the third-party financing legislation, it is illegal for a third-party to evade election spending limits by splitting itself into two or more groups.


Well, I'm not a member of Blogging Tories, but for the record, this blog doesn't cost me a cent and no one from any war room anywhere has any say on what I write here. The Liberals are foolish to do this, because all they're going to do is drive loads of traffic to the various anti-Liberal blogs.

Dr. Sanity and the role of fear in public policy

Leave it to Dr. Sanity to do a diagnosis based on Al Gore's speech yesterday and to take a look at the role of fear and of denial in the formation of public policy. Interesting stuff.

She writes:

Pretending that you aren't afraid; displacing or minimizing your fear; ignoring the slow-moving rhino heading in your direction or other dangerous realities; are hardly effective strategies to deal with the many threatening things in the world today.

Blogging Tories subject of third party financing complaint

The blogosphere has come into its own in Canada during the federal election campaign.

Now, however, there's news that an aggregate of right-leaning blogs called Blogging Tories is now the subject of an Elections Canada complaint for violating third party financing laws. The law limits the amount of money any third party can pay to advocate an issue during an election. Aptly described as a "gag" law, it's an attempt to limit freedom of speech.

Here's the story from today's Ottawa Citizen by Allan Woods.

QUEBEC - Elections Canada has been asked to investigate the Conservatives after allegations the party is overseeing a group that operates partisan online weblogs.

Canada's election watchdog received a complaint yesterday from a disaffected party member who claims the Tories tried to sway political opinion in cyberspace before and during the election campaign by setting up the popular "Blogging Tories" website.

The site appears to be a coalition of like-minded individuals who have met in cyberspace to share their political opinions and express their frustrations with Paul Martin's Liberals.


It'll be interesting to see the reaction to this attempt to silence the blogosphere.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Making abortion the issue

Prime Minister Paul Martin seems to think abortion is an issue in the Canadian federal election campaign. The Liberal leader, who has described himself in the past as a strong Catholic, gave an interview to CBC The National host Peter Mansbridge on Jan. 12 where he raised the spectre of a Conservative government removing a "women's right to choose" and described abortion as a charter right.

LifeSiteNews.com has a transcript here.

The, the, there are a number of Conservatives, quite a large number of Conservative members of parliament who have said that they would take away a woman's right to choose and in fact some of them are among the leaders. Stockwell Day and people who would be in, in, in, in, in cabinet.

The president of the Conservative party has said ah, that he has a roadmap to achieve that. There would be a private members bill brought into parliament. Now that private members bill would not pass today. But, if there were a majority of Conservative members, then that bill might well pass. So let's assume and now this is a debate we all thought was over.


I have put the statement about the president of the party in bold because I wonder if Martin is referring to an email allegedly from the president, but considered by members of the blogosphere to be fake. Thanks to Kate over at Small Dead Animals.

The letter, traced to an ISP in Russia, says:

As your Chair, I want to thank each and everyone of you for your work in bring us so close to the victory. During a campaign like this one, it is not always possible or wise to speak about every details of our plans. Don't be confused or upset by Stephen saying that he has "evolved." After all, winning is the name of the game.


It reveals, supposedly, a hidden agenda on the part of the Tories. Voters may have bought this fearmongering in 2000, but not now.

Today, according to the CBC, Conservative Party Leader Stephen Harper said the following:

"The Conservative government won't be initiating or supporting abortion legislation, and I'll use whatever influence I have in Parliament to be sure that such a matter doesn't come to a vote," Harper said.


The Conservative Party also chose to leave abortion out of its platform in last year's policy convention. That leaves the party as the only major party without an abortion stand one way or the other. The others are pro-abortion.

Martin isn't the only one raising the so-called alarm. Abortion Doctor Henry Morgentaler has come out swinging against the Tories. Sad when the Liberals need to trot him out to bolster their cause. According to today's Globe and Mail article he says:

"I don't trust the Conservative Party and I don't think women in Canada and people who love women in this country should trust the Conservative Party as far as abortion rights are concerned," he told reporters yesterday.

Dr. Sanity on identification with the aggressor

Dr. Sanity has a great
post
that explains phenomena like Stockholm syndrome, where hostages begin to sympathize with and identify with their captors.

She writes:

By taking on some characteristic of a thing which causes extreme anxiety, a child is using that identification (or introjection as it is sometimes called) as a means of reducing his or her anxiety by morphing from the passive role to the active role. With psychological identification, instead of being the object of a threat, you become the one making the threat.

In children this is considered a normal part of the development of the "superego" as children learn to master their anxiety. In fact, this capability of identification with another is essential for normal psychological development and when it is not brought about by excessively traumatic events in a child's life (i.e.,during the safety of play) the child can develop normally. The healthy result of this process is an introjection and assimilation of others leading to normal human relationships and empathy and understanding of other people.

When the process short circuits for any reason (i.e., abuse, trauma etc.) then more primitive alternatives come into play, including projection and full-blown paranoia.


Read the whole thing and follow the links.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Evangelicals and public policy

In Onward Christian Soldiers, Ottawa Citizen reporter Pauline Tam explores how evangelicals are mobilizing in Canada to influence public policy.

National House of Prayer


The Ottawa Citizen has this story about the new National House of Prayer, housed in a former convent that played a powerful role in the 1970s in the Catholic charismatic revival during the 1970s.

The picture shows Rob Parker, one of the co-founders.

The story begins:

A former Lowertown convent that sat empty for three years is being resurrected as a place for evangelical Christians to pray for politicians on Parliament Hill.

The National House of Prayer, which opened in November, has the financial backing of churches and religious organizations with links to the grassroots evangelical groups that helped Stockwell Day defeat Preston Manning in the 2000 Canadian Alliance leadership race.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Another Liberal attack ad

Stephen Taylor has linked to the most outrageous Liberal attack ad yet.

View it here.

Subliminal Liberal website pictures

Kate McMillan of Small Dead Animals and Andrew Coyne have both remarked on the unintended message of some of the pictures on the Liberal Party website.

Coyne also has some links to reports of dancing aboard the Liberal plane. I wonder if they served beer and popcorn.

Fr. Tom Rosica on the upcoming election

Fr. Tom Rosica, the CEO of Salt and Light TV, has been doing a weekly column in the Toronto Sun that's worth reading.

Today he talks about what's at stake in the upcoming election.

He writes:

On Jan. 23, Canadians will choose a new government. It is very important to emphasize certain considerations that have not received necessary attention over the past few weeks of the political campaign. One of the most obvious concerns relates to the emerging "culture of death" in Canada, and the necessity to fight for the culture of life.

Our Canadian culture is often dominated by death: Today we witness a legal void that permits abortion right up to birth; medical research that authorizes the destruction of embryos; a mentality that increasingly favours euthanasia and assisted suicide; gratuitous violence in our schoolyards and on our downtown streets in broad daylight; abuse of women and children; the silence that surrounds so many situations of poverty; the widespread incidence of prostitution, pornography and drugs.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

The sleeping giant at prayer


They are calling themselves a sleeping giant that's awakened. They are Christians of all denominations who woke up during the same-sex marriage debate in Canada. During the election campaign, many have been active as volunteers in local campaign offices, making phone calls, putting a sign on their lawns, like they never have before.


And praying. There are even conference calls for strategic prayer during the election among some groups. In the last several months, Fran and Rob Parker have managed through prayer and gifts to buy an old convent they've called the National House of Prayer to intercede for politicians.

I just got back from an assignment to cover a prayer gathering on Parliament Hill, sponsored by the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada. Ron Mainse, host of 100 Huntley St. was there, as were several pastors and about 100 people who braved bitter cold winds to pray by the eternal flame.


This non-partisan gathering asked for blessing for politicians, a return to God in Jesus Christ, and a return to the principles upon which Canada was founded, so the blessings Canada has seen will continue.


It's been interesting that one pundit pointed out on television recently "The Force doesn't seem to be with Paul Martin" and another said that the Liberal campaign has suffered from the worst bad luck of any campaign he'd ever seen. Now, I'm not going to pull a Pat Robertson and say the prayers have something to do with it. After all, as Christians, we do not pray for the misfortune of others. We might pray, however, for their repentance, for them to turn back to God to experience his mercy and grace. This is not voodoo, folks. The Liberal "bad luck" could just be incompetence and hubris and a better campaign on the part of the Tories. Or that the Canadian people are finally in the mood for a change. But I'm going to keep praying that Canadians elect men and women who above all desire to serve God first.

Monte Solberg's fear of Stephen Harper

Monte Solberg, the Conservative Party Finance Critic could get another job as a comedian if he should ever find himself out of politics.

My friend the Sheepcat sent me over to Monte's blog for this:

"God bless the Debs, civilizers of their men, queen's of all they survey."



and while visiting I found this:

The Lib attack ads are so scary I'm going to have to sleep tonight with the light on. I mean what if Stephen Harper is hiding under my bed and then smothers me with a drycleaning bag and steals my remaining Burnt Almond to give to an ultra-conservative Bush Republican, who packs a pistol AND a Bible. No, even better, it's a Bible machine gun. Yep, fires two hundred rounds a minute, and plays Amazing Grace at the same time. Perfect for huntin' varmints, and personal protection.

I have no idea if those ads will work. I know that when I first saw them I started to laugh. I felt like I was at a Michael Moore movie, but without the pot smell.

Did Martin approve the negative military ad?

Here's a great compilation of Prime Minister Paul Martin's contradictory statements on the military ad that has backfired on the Liberals and made them a laughingstock, since the ad is so easily parodied.

It is ghastly to such a desperate man flail between admitting and denying he approved the ads.


Thanks to The Shotgun blog over at the Western Standard magazine.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Average Catholic, nondescript hardworking family guy is starting to get fed up

The Knights of Columbus has sent out a letter encouraging its 230,000 plus members to think carefully about the kind of Canada they want to hand down to their children.

Read more here.

I think the average Catholic, nondescript hardworking family guy is starting to get fed up," said Toronto Knights of Columbus member Frank D'Angelo.

That's why D'Angelo was delighted to receive an open letter from the Knights in late December, urging members of the Catholic fraternal organization to carefully consider life and family issues in the Jan. 23 federal election.

"I am so, so happy the letter went out," he told Canadian Catholic News in a Jan. 9 telephone interview.

He's taped it to his fridge, so he can point it out if anyone comes over to visit. D'Angelo, owner of The Messengers International, a Toronto-based courier company, can't remember the Knights ever issuing a letter like this, but he likes what it says.

Keep notwithstanding clause says archbishop

Prime Minister Paul Martin's promise to get rid of the notwithstanding clause in the constitution came as a big surprise Jan. 9.

Martin is the only federal leader who has ever promised to use the clause. He promised religious leaders that if the courts ever decided churches or mosques or synagogues would have to marry same-sex couples, he would invoke it.

Read more here.

Polgamy. In Canada. We're not making this up.

During the debate over redefining marriage, many who argued that separating marriage from procreation would also separate the basis for restricting marriage to two people. They were often accused of being extremist or fear-mongers.


Well, turns out the Canadian justice department commissioned a study. Guess what. It recommends Canada decriminalize polygamy, and predicts that the courts might strike down laws against polygamy on religious freedom grounds.


Read more here and here.

Read reaction from the Institute for Canadian Values here.

"We are deeply dismayed to learn of the existence of this report," said Joseph Ben-Ami, executive director of the Institute. "We are also very disturbed that the government did not release it voluntarily, only turning it over to the press through access to information."

"Before Paul Martin's same-sex marriage bill became law, many of us warned that the next logical step would have to be legalizing polygamy and including it in the definition of marriage," recalled Ben-Ami. "We were ridculed by many government politicians. Now we find out that the Jusctice Department itself has been sitting on a report that not only confirms exactly what we predicted, but actually recommends it."

Ben-Ami also dismissed Irwin Cotler's statements that polygamy will remain illegal, calling the Justice Minister's assurances "silly and futile."

"It's as if Mr. Cotler has been living in a different world than the rest of us," said Ben-Ami. "He says 'Don't worry, polygamy is still illegal' as if that present status is some magical shield. Doesn't he realize that the courts have been knocking down one law after another that protects the integrity of marriage and the family?

"Just a few short weeks ago the Supreme Court declared that swingers' clubs would henceforth be deemed legal. The fact that they were illegal to begin with certainly didn't stop the Court from ruling as it did.

"The plain truth is that Mr. Cotler's assurances are silly and futile."

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Party leaders reflect on religion and the public square

Faith Today, a magazine published by the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, released today essays by leaders of Canada's political parties.

You can find them here.

Most interesting.

Dr. Sanity on art and postmodernism

Dr. Sanity has a link to an article on art criticism, accompanied by some thought-provoking comments of her own.

She writes:

If you wonder why our nation seems so divided and why there is so much animosity and emotional hysteria directed against traditional values and ideas upon which this country was founded, you need look no further than the pervasise and unrelenting trickle down of postmodern theories and thinking in education, art, politics and all the social areas of life. Even science has not been immune from the nihilism and anti-reason and anti-reality agenda of the postmodernists.

If you want to understand why nothing seems to make sense; why language is abused and words don't seem to have the same definitions anymore and can sometimes even mean the opposite of what they used to; why contradictory discourses and distortion of truth; and ad hominem attacks and a distinct reluctance to face reality are all a part of the "reality-based" community--you need look no further than postmodernism.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Satanic abuse scandal kids take action

Now the children who were taken from their homes in a case of bogus satanic ritual abuse are seeking compensation. Read this story in the Manchester Evening News.

A DOZEN of the children who were snatched from their parents by Rochdale social workers in the so-called "Satanic abuse" scandal in 1990 are seeking compensation.

The youngsters, who are now all adults, were among 20 seized from their homes on Middleton's Langley estate in dawn raids over allegations that youngsters had been involved in Satanic rituals.

They were eventually allowed back to their parents after a High Court judge condemned the judgment of Rochdale council's social services department, which was also heavily criticised in a report by the Social Services Inspectorate.

Satanic ritual abuse still making headlines

Satanic ritual abuse, or SRA, made headlines in the 1980s, then many cases were proved in the 1980s to have been hysterical overreactions. Now it looks like the idea hasn't entirely gone away. Since the controversy over SRA forms part of the plot of The Defilers, here's a story about a present day investigation in Michigan, according to the Grand Rapids Press.

CHARLEVOIX COUNTY -- A memory of terror has sheriff's investigators seeking help finding participants in an alleged satanic, ritualistic child sex abuse case in northern Michigan that occurred sometime during the 1970s or 1980s.

Authorities declined to release details of the "difficult" investigation, but are asking for the public's assistance in locating anyone who may have been involved in the case, or has knowledge of it, Charlevoix County Prosecutor John Jarema said.


Here's another version of the story from the Petoskey News-Review.

Exorcists among us

The Edmonton Journal picks up on a story I did late last year about the only priest in North America who attended exorcism school in Rome. Calgary Bishop Fred Henry sent him. The bishop, however, did not seem eager to talk with the Edmonton Journal.

"I'm not really interested in doing an in-depth interview on the subject of exorcism, as the devil likes to be an object of curiosity and sensationalism, and I don't want to give him any more attention than he deserves. Our focus is on Jesus, not the devil," Bishop Fred Henry said in a prepared statement.


Henry said he does not have an official exorcist, but designates one as the need arises, as determined by his Spirit Discerning Committee.


"I sent Father Emanuel ... to Rome for this special course so all the members of the committee might be apprised of the latest thinking and scholarship ... professional development."

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Requests for exorcisms rise in Mexico

Because my soon-to-be published novel The Defilers includes themes of deliverance, from time to time I'll post links to stories about exorcism and demonic possession.

Here's one by Patrick Harrington on El Universal Online entited: Exorcisms up on Church Approval.

The Vatican´s decision in 1999 to issue a new manual for the process of exorcising demons has resulted in a surge in the practice in Mexico, say experts and practitioners.

Father Pedro Mendoza Pantoja, the Roman Catholic Church´s highest-ranking exorcist in Mexico City, has never been busier.

Mendoza, 70, takes 15 phone calls a day from people who say they are possessed by the devil and sees about five of them for in-office consultations. They´re part of the increasing number of Mexicans demanding exorcisms.

"Growing up, I don´t remember a single person possessed by a demon," Mendoza said from his parish in Cuajimalpa, a town on the outskirts of Mexico City. "Every time a girl gets sick or acts strange, they send her over."

If I were to base a novel on Belinda Stronach

Last night, while watching Mike Duffy's Countdown on CTV Newsnet, I saw Belinda Stronach on a panel with Diane Ablonczy. Belinda, a former Conservative leadership candidate, crossed the floor last spring to sit as a Liberal cabinet minister, tippping the balance of power when every vote counted and opposition parties almost brought the government down.


For those who hoped bringing the government down before same-sex marriage came to a vote would protect traditional marriage in Canada, her defection was a huge blow.


Belinda says she made a principled move, and clearly she did not fit in the Conservative Party after she failed to persuade members to make the party a mirror image of the Liberal Party. While most Conservative members voted against same-sex marriage, she voted for it. She never seemed comfortable as a team player, and often tried to upstage Conservative Party Leader Stephen Harper. So maybe she was being true to herself.


What interested me watching Belinda last night, though, was how cold and hard she seemed next to Diane, who has a warm smile and twinkling eyes. Boy oh boy did Belinda go negative on Harper. She used every opportunity to paint him in a nasty light. She seemed angry and bitter, as if she was the one hard done by, and not the one who betrayed not only Harper, but her then lover Conservative Deputy Leader Peter McKay, and the party she is credited with helping found.

Of course, as a journalist, I could not in good conscience write about Belinda's motivations as if I had omniscient insight into her heart, though, alas journalists attribute motivations all the time. Columnists and pundits make a living at it. But they often get it wrong and their observations and allegations can be hurtful. If I were to meet her, or do a news story on her, I would make every effort to be fair.


But if I were to write a story on a Belinda-based character, I could see the motivations of the heart, because I could create them. My character might have a straight back--Belinda's posture excellent, something I envy. She might have a moon-shaped face, limp blonde hair and long legs. But she is Mylinda, not Belinda. Mylinda would have tremendous confidence like that of some of the American idol contestants who think they are far more talented than they are.


I would research Mylinda's internal motivations by rereading J. Budziszewski's Revenge of the Conscience. I would imagine Mylinda has to demonize the people she betrayed in order to bolster her narcissistic self-image and the lies she needs to tell herself to avoid the painful truth her conscience is revealing to her. Her conscience would be gnawing at Mylinda like the Harpies of old, and as Budziszewski says, it's the power of the conscience that provokes the need for more lies and more wrong to run away from the truth it exposes.


I do not know the real Belinda Stronach. We've never met. Like everyone else, I was shocked--and I confess fascinated--by her behavior last spring. Maybe she did make a principled stand in the sense of being true to herself. But if that's the case, why is she not more magnanimous to those she left behind? I don't know.


But if I created Mylinda, I would get inside her and imagine how she sees herself, how she deceives herself and what she wants above all else. What she wants would have a conscious and an unconscious dimension. Mylinda may think she wants to make a difference in the world, but the character of my invention really craves the limelight and unconsciously wants to fail at love so she can nurse her sense of moral superiority. Her booby prize.


If some day Mylinda finds her place in a novel, I would probably will ditch the blonde hair or any other outward identifying characteristics. Mylinda would only be a working name. Maybe I'll make her a composite character with a bit of Scott Brison thrown in the mix. Perhaps her name would become Todd.


As a journalist, I make every effort to stay bound to the facts. When at times, the facts seem to get in the way of a good story, I can't overlook them.
So I save the "good stories" for fiction, where I can control the facts.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Canada high court rulings in sex-club cases replace community standards test

Here's the version of the story I wrote on the recent Supreme Court decision on swingers' clubs that the Catholic News Service has used.

There is a later version which includes quotes from Calgary Bishop Fred Henry. As soon as I can, I'll post a link to his comments.

The Master's Artist

One of my first stops every morning on the blogosphere is The Master's Artist, a collective of writers (and a poet!). It's not only because I'm a member of the group--my posting day is usually Mondays. Today's post by Mike Snyder is a thought-provoking read and I'm privileged to be in his company.

Mike is a wonderful writer, and he, Dee Stewart and J. Mark Bertrand have all participated in a short story contest over at Faith in Fiction, another daily stop for me. Faith in Fiction, run by Bethany House editor Dave Long, is a community for Christian writers hoping to make an impact on the culture while at the same time raising the bar of quality.

Mike writes:

At what point am I able to enter the mind of a degenerate racist without sharing some culpability? Is my story a gateway drug that encourages beating fathers and abusing toad venom? Am I encouraging drug use by showing how it's done? Do I somehow hate God now because my character does? Am I contributing to the delinquent language habits of sailors-in-training?

Can God really use one despicable character to reveal His glory to another, equally despicable character? Or should we as Christian writers avoid these things for fear of causing a brother to stumble?


Great questions. Read his story here.

What do you think?

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Fire and Ice


I found out about this cool blog thanks to Dr. Sanity. It's by Michael Fay, artist in residence with the U.S. Marine Corps.

The drawing I include today shows three Marines who've been waiting hours for a helicopter ride out of a forward operating base. These guys are what's referred to as "assorted cats and dogs". Marines with specialized skills, such as photojournalists, dog handlers with their bomb sniffing canine cohorts, satellite communications specialists and of course, yours truly, who've been attached to operational combat units for the duration of a specific fight.

Here comes the brides

Here's a story about polyamory from the Weekly Standard in the United States, one of the predicted effects of legalizing same-sex marriage. Thanks to Focus on the Family's newsletter.

Stanley Kurtz writes:

Dressed in wedding clothes, Victor and Bianca de Bruijn were formally united with a bridally bedecked Mirjam Geven, a recently divorced 35-year-old whom they'd met several years previously through an Internet chatroom. As the notary validated a samenlevingscontract, or "cohabitation contract," the three exchanged rings, held a wedding feast, and departed for their honeymoon.


and

While Victor, Bianca, and Mirjam are joined by a private cohabitation contract rather than a state-registered partnership or a full-fledged marriage, their union has already made serious legal, political, and cultural waves in the Netherlands. To observers on both sides of the Dutch gay marriage debate, the De Bruijns' triple wedding is an unmistakable step down the road to legalized group marriage.

Violent youth and daycare

The Institute for Canadian Values has put a great commentary, this time on the relationship between daycare and youth violence.

In "Violent Youth and daycare," author Helen Ward says:

Youth violence, particularly the explosion of gun violence in Toronto, has emerged as an important issue in the current federal election campaign. In response, Paul Martin has pledged that a Liberal government would adopt a strategy that would address what he calls "the root causes" of these horrifying crimes.

It's tempting to dismiss talk of "root causes" as a ploy to avoid taking immediate and decisive steps to provide for the public's safety, but effective long-term policy requires addressing these as well as enforcement issues. The question, then, is not: are there root causes, but rather, have Mr. Martin and the Liberals accurately identified them, and is their response a sensible one?

If their plan for state-controlled daycare is any indication, the answer to both of these questions is no.

Is there a connection between daycare and youth violence? Research strongly suggests that there is.

Still more on Supreme Court decision on swingers' clubs

Iain Benson has this to say on the recent Supreme Court of Canada decision legalizing swingers' clubs:

What directs the course of a nation? Is it merely majority will of either the parliamentary or judicial benches? What, in turn, guides that majority will of bench or government? Is ruling simply the exercise of raw power or is such power directed to a shared purpose or some kind of moral vision? If “harm” is erected as a useful guide we might well ask “harm to whom, by whom and in relation to what?” For, like beauty, harm is sometimes in the eye of the beholder and those who do wrong assert frequently that it causes no harm when those who think it wrong measure harm in other ways and believe that harm has been done. Harm then, like democracy, needs something against which to measure it. Standing abstract and by itself it is insufficient.


Read the rest here.

And Evangelical Fellowship of Canada president Bruce Clemenger also examines the controversial decision here.

Clemenger writes:

The state has no business in the bedrooms of the nation, or so we are told.

The decision in the recent Supreme Court of Canada swingers cases makes the bedrooms bigger, and now includes commercial ventures that advertise and attract people for group sexual activity requiring payment to participate.

Of course the state does have a legitimate concern about what goes on in the bedroom if it includes criminal activity. The question now is whether it has any business in what the Criminal Code calls common bawdy houses, defined as places where indecent acts are performed? The Supreme Court has decided no, it doesn't have any business there--other than perhaps to collect taxes.

Until now, an activity was "indecent" if it failed the "Canadian community standard of decency", a standard established by Parliament and applied by the courts. The issue before the court was not whether the activity was immoral, but whether it was inappropriate according to Canadians standards of tolerance because of the place and context in which it took place. The question before the court was whether orgies undertaken in a public place where it is necessary to pay to participate--in effect paying for the sexual services of others--contrary to the Canadian standard of tolerance and therefore an indecent activity? The notion of indecency was used to limit activity such as strip clubs and lap dancing as well as restrict pornography. The Supreme Court has now replaced this standard with new standard of harm and has decided that consenting adults engaging in group sex acts in a public place like a club is not harmful to the participants or to society at large.

On what basis did the court choose to abandon the notion of indecency tied to community standards? Not because to rule otherwise would violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Rather, the judges felt that deciding what was contrary to public morality was too difficult for judges. So rather than asking Parliament, the author of the Criminal Code, for more clarity, they simply bypassed the intent of Parliament and have chosen to ignore the long established community standards test.


Insightful comments. I'll post more as I come across them.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

More on swinging


The Institute for Canadian Values has two good commentaries up on the Supreme Court of Canada's decisions legalizing swingers' clubs, one by ICV executive director Joseph Ben-Ami, another by Richard Bastien.

Ben-Ami writes:

If our Supreme Court Justices really believed that strongly held moral views have no place in jurisprudence, they would have struck down Canada’s public indecency laws altogether. After all, questions of indecency are, by definition, moral questions. Instead, they chose to retain those laws and create a new standard by which indecency can be measured – demonstrable harm. Simply put, if it causes no harm, it’s not indecent behaviour.

This is an important point to grasp. The Court has taken the position that the public continues to possess the right to enforce standards of public behaviour, but that it does not have the right to decide what those standards should be - that’s the job of the Court. In other words, far from shielding citizens from the supposed oppression of moral rectitude these Supreme Court Justices are merely substituting their own standard of morality for the accepted standard.

The new standard is itself problematic. Ambiguous at best, it virtually guarantees future litigation as lawyers and judges grapple with the question: what is harm? What if two consenting adults engage in public sexual activity on the front lawn of Parliament? Would this behaviour meet the harm test and therefore be deemed indecent?

The truth is that sensible people understand that when it comes to the law, or even the development of public policy in general, questions of morality – of right and wrong – simply cannot be avoided. Assertions to the contrary simply betray a child-like understanding of the world in which we live. What is the debate over health care reform, for instance, if not a moral one? Absent moral standards, who are we to say that the sponsorship program in Quebec was wrong, especially if it can be proven to have been effective?


Read the whole thing. Read Bastien's, too.

I filed a story on it today and when and if it gets published electronically, I will publish a link.

And Tony Copple has also written on this. Tony has great links on the same-sex marriage issue, especially as it has affected the Anglican Church of Canada.

Copple writes:

Last year in Toronto there were more murders than ever before, many involving guns. Sex crime is going through the roof, with abuse of children and babies the major categories. In the most prosperous nations on Earth, more people than ever have decided that they need to hurt, kill, rape, abuse and mistreat others rather than subjugating their urges.

Hands in your pockets II


Apparently, members of the church I wrote about Sunday are not the only ones who are linking that vile commercial jingle "Hands in your pockets" with the Canadian election campaign.

Yesterday, I dropped in on one of Prime Minister Paul Martin's photo ops at an Ottawa bagel shop, a very odd place to hold such an event in that it was rather a confined space, with barely enough room for the journalists and camera operators who clambered off one of two campaign buses.

Usually these venues are announced at the very last minute to avoid the opportunity for opponents to set up counter demonstrations, but there were a handful of protestors with handwritten signs chanting the vile song as the Prime Minister went inside.

I remember during the 2000 campaign, "Who let the dogs out" was popular. Anyone else hear the Hands in your pockets refrain being used in the campaign? I'm afraid I never did get tired of Who let the dogs out, maybe it's the syncopation I liked. But I HATE hands in your pockets. GET that TUNE out of my HEAD. Thank you very much.

On a humorous note. Christie Blatchford, the Globe and Mail columnist who is one of my favorites, was among the journalists on the bus who jammed in by the counter to watch the PM roll bagels, put them in the wood fired oven, and use a long wooden board to remove cooked bagels to a cooling bin. When Martin started taking cooled bagels and tossing them to the throng of scribes, Blatchford asked if he'd paid for them. Of course, Martin said he had.

Monday, January 02, 2006

He could have arrived like King Kong

Father Peter Jardine preached a wonderful sermon on Christmas Eve at the little Cathedral of the Annunication in Ottawa.

My favorite line:

He didn’t need the womb of Mary to come among us, did He? He could have arrived like King Kong, all might, muscle and black eyed fury, slapping recalcitrant sinners back into line.

Swingers clubs legal says highest court

In Canada it's okay to take your spouse to a club charging membership fees and engage in sex with someone else's spouse. These sex acts often take place in front of spectators, or become group sex, otherwise known as orgies.

According to the Supreme Court of Canada, the behavior behind closed doors of these adults,in what would have been termed a "common bawdy house" causes no harm to society, or to the individuals involved.

Just before Christmas, Canada's highest court replaced the former community standards approach to determining indecency and replaced it with a harm-based standard.

The decisions can be found here and here.

Despite the Christmas break, response to the decision has come from various quarters, and will continue to come.

Real Women of Canada's Gwen Landolt told LifeSiteNews.com:

"There is a real trend to break down moral principles in Canadian society. Those principles have been built based on human experience about what is in the best interest of society."


The Institute for Canadian Values issued a news release saying in part:

"It's as outrageous as it is arrogant," said Joseph Ben-Ami, Executive Director of the ICV. "The very question of what is or is not indecent public behaviour is a moral question. These judges aren't setting aside the moral issue, they're imposing their morality of the rest of us."

"This is a political issue, not a judicial one," said Ben-Ami. "Canadians have an absolute right, through their elected officials, to establish and enforce public standards. What the Supreme Court is saying with this decision is: no - Canadians are not qualified to decide what is or is not acceptable behaviour in their neighbourhoods, so we will do it for them."

"We’re not talking here about a few adults engaging in sexual activities in the privacy of their own homes," explained Ben-Ami. "We’re talking about organized orgy clubs with dozens of adults participating. I wonder which of those Supreme Court Justices who voted in favour of this ruling will be the first to welcome one of these clubs to their neighbourhood?"


Richard Bastien of the Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL) submitted an op ed to the Ottawa Citizen. You can read his response here.

Bastien wrote:

The judgment rendered by Beverly McLachlin is flawed not only because it suggests that laws can be devoid of any moral basis but, more importantly, because it is inherently inconsistent. People who insist upon upholding the concept of moral neutralism (i.e. the notion that there are no universal objective moral standards by which our behavior can be judged) are themselves non-neutral.

It is logically impossible to commit to neutralism without committing to a particular value, whether it is social peace, tolerance, multiculturalism, individualism, etc. Any such commitment entails a violation of neutralism. This points to an even deeper problem, which is that there can be no such thing as moral neutrality. The problem is not that neutralism is something difficult to achieve. The problem is that it is unachievable. And it is unachievable because it is inconceivable. It is simply impossible to make statements about social life without expressing some kind of preference about the criteria that should govern such life. In short, neutralism is for cranks.


The CCRL has also posted Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) law and policy director Janet Epp Buckingham's Dec. 27 Globe and Mail Op Ed here.

Buckingham wrote:

This decision clearly establishes the courts as the new arbiters of public morality. They have cut out Canadian society and the concerns of ordinary Canadians.


and this:

Swingers’ clubs will now be able to advertise publicly and encourage more couples to consider consensual adultery. Some marriages and relationships will likely not survive this sexual experimentation.

Strip clubs will now be able to feature public sex acts unless there is “harm” shown. And only the courts can determine what is “harmful.”

Bath houses and massage parlours will be able to operate as legitimate businesses, publicly offering sexual services, unless someone can prove “harm.” And only the courts can determine what is “harmful.”

The liberalization of public sexuality, which also includes pornography, objectifies sex. It is no longer an act of emotional intimacy, but simply physical gratification. Over the last year, I have noticed an increasing number of news articles and commentaries expressing concern over sexual activities of young teens, including anti-social and inappropriate sexual activities. There are worrying trends that can be linked to increased exposure to public sexuality.


The Centre for Cultural Renewal is doing a LexView legal analysis. I'll post a link when it is done. In the meantime, check out the Iain Benson's blog on Chief Justice Beverly McLaclin's recent speech in New Zealand on the underlying principles behind the law.

Benson writes:

Now if law is a replacement theology in the contemporary era - - as some seem to think and talk (how else can "law" be a "comprehensive" claim to meaning in any sense?) it ought not to surprise us that it will be subject to the same "theocratic" temptation religions faced and face.

Thus, the assumption of eventual agreement and of the constitution's capacity to get us there "with a little help from its judicial midwives" based upon a confidence that law has ultimate capacity to answer ultimate questions is the real problem not whether a principle is or is not within the written law or whether a judge is or is not "emboldened."


Expect to hear more about this decision.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Hands in your pockets

Heard a story today that I think is pretty funny. A pastor in a Canadian Church was giving his New Year's sermon and talking about some of the things he hopes he doesn't have to see in 2006. One of them was a vile television commercial with a jingle "Hands in your pockets." In it, men in suits follow various people around with, you guessed it, hands in these people's back pockets as they try to go about their business. The jingle ranks with "Ring around the collar!" as one of these awful tunes that gets stuck in your mind like an old vinyl album skipping over and over again.

The pastor asked the congregation if anyone knew what the "hands in your pockets" commercial was selling and who was behind it?

Someone in the back of the packed church quipped "The Liberal Party" and everyone fell out laughing.

Well, maybe you had to be there. Maybe you have to live in Canada where the Liberals have been in power for 12 years and are now mired in allegedcorruption scandals and RCMP investigations. And, an election campaign is underway. Interestingly, in Canada there is not the same "religious right" as there is in Canada, and many Evangelicals and Catholics have voted Liberal because they like social programs to help the poor.

It might be different this time, though neither the Liberals or the Conservatives, their closest competition, are expected to win a majority because of the strong showing of the separatist Bloc Quebecois in Quebec, largely due to the sponsorship scandal, where taxpayers dollars were used to promote federalism through lavish ad campaigns, and Liberal-friendly ad firms kicked back money to the Liberal Party.