Thursday, June 27, 2013

Big Oil Must Ante Up

The people of Alberta recently suffered the worst floods in their history. My June 26, 2013 letter to The Globe and Mail, unpublished. 

The great presence in this time of crisis for Alberta is Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi.  Alberta Premier Alison Redford will be major player in the province's recovery. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has made a cameo appearance prior to, we trust, a massive infusion of federal aid.

Missing from this scenario are Stephen Harper's supporters in the oil patch. Over the years, oil companies have sucked billions from Alberta's soil. If the province can offer one billion dollars in aid, Harper should be able to cajole his oil friends to commit at least that amount. It's pay-back time.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Distinguish Person and Behaviour

Letter published in The Catholic Register pointing out a lesson the common media seem unable to learn:

Re "Despite our differences, I still prayed for Dr. Morgentaler (June 9, 2013):

Jim Hughes is correct in praying for Henry Morgentaler. Hughes rightly distinguishes the individual from that person's behaviour. We are obliged to see God in everyone even when possibly loathing what he or she did in their lifetime.

In the field of art, we can enjoy a beautiful painting or piece of music without expressing approval of the artist's behaviour. Philosopher Jacques Maritain said that if the work enriches the spiritual treasure of the world with its beauty, forget everything else.

We must always separate the person from his or her actions.

* * *

On May 24, 2012, the Toronto Star published a waffling editorial concerning blood donations by gays.  The blood agency had recently revised its policy to accept donations from gays on condition they have been celibate for five years. My letter, intended only for the enlightenment of the editorial writer, was published May 31.

Your editorial, Lifting an outdated ban (May 24), makes a common error. You state that "the majority of gay men are locked out of donating blood on grounds of sexual orientation."  Not so. They are locked out, as you term it, because of sexual activity. One must never confuse the person and that person's behaviour. There's a significant difference.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Non-denial means agreement?

What leads media people to presume the right to question anyone?  And if the citizen refuses to answer, to publish their own conclusions? Salient in this regard was a report by Toronto Star columnist Rosie DiManno. My unpublished letter to her editor.

In her report (What Chief Blair didn't say about Ford speaks the loudest, June 14), Rosie DiManno implies lack of evidence to be proof, and non-denial to be agreement. Police Chief Blair stated his duty and responsibility when investigating a crime. DiManno's reaction was a report full of innuendo, speculation and supposition laced with negatives, e.g. Blair did not say, did not deny, did not refute, did not confirm, and so on for half a page.  I have many times complained about reports in the Star. May I conclude the editor's many non-denials to be agreement?

Back in  2008, Toronto Star reporter Dale Brazao wrote a front-page report about an inn-keeper alleging exploitation of a foreign worker. The inn-keeper is now suing the Star for defamation. 

The point of this post is Brazao's defence, as reported in the Star of June 18, 2013. Before the Ontario Superior Court, he claimed to have tried "every which way" to be fair and convince the inn-keeper of the seriousness of the allegations against her, but she refused to answer. "I do not know what else I could have done to get this lady to speak to me," he told the court. 

As in the DiManno incident concerning the Police Chief, did the inn-keeper's non-denial justify publication?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

HR Tribunal Overreaches Again

For 150 years, the Saguenay City Council has opened its meetings with a 20-second prayer.

Citizen Alain Simoneau complained that the prayer to an "all-powerful God," as well as the crucifix in the council chambers infringed on his rights as a non-believer. He complained to the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal that the prayer forced him to "embrace a concept of recognizing a form of divine supremacy." The Tribunal ordered council to stop saying the prayer, remove the crucifix, and pay moral and punitive damages of $30,000 to atheist Simoneau.

In its decision of June 2013, the Quebec Court of Appeal thought differently. Among other things, the Court ruled that neutrality does not require "that society be cleansed of all denominational reality, including that which falls within its cultural history." There was no evidence the prayer imposed religious views on citizens or shaped government actions. Simoneau did not get his pot of gold.

Questions remain: Is it the possibility of a great payout that inspires such complaints to human rights commissions? If such awards were payable to the government, would there be any complaints at all?