Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Dis-Order of Canada

Letter to the National Post, April 23, 2015

Stephen Harper intends to dumb down the Order of Canada (Order of Canada reform in budget, Apr 23). The Prime Minister is correct in his belief that certain sectors of society are under-represented such as discredited Conservative senators and inhabitants of the yahoo element. The reported feeling is that there is too much Margaret Atwood and too little Don Cherry among Order recipients.

By coincidence, elsewhere in today's National Post (Where culture wars were worth fighting), we read, "A TV-ready image is valued considerably more than any literary pedigree . . . People today go to pundit school. They learn how to be on TV as a pundit, but they don't have any substance. Intelligence has been replaced by volume."

Honours are not intended to be brought "closer to the people," as Harper asserts. Their purpose is to recognize quality achievements to which we should all aspire. Is it time to bid farewell the nobility of the Order of Canada?

Sex education. At what age?

Letter to the Toronto Star, April 21, 2015. Unpublished.

It is unfortunate when a message is answered by an attack on the messenger. Such is the case with three letter writers who disagree with protesters of the sex-ed program proposed by the Ontario government (Ignorance's last bastion, April 20). 

Rather than deal with the concerns of the reported thousands of parents, the letter writers, one of them a teacher, resort to abuse and name-calling. There may be much to commend the program. Yet it does spawn reasonable doubt, for example, as to when young children should be exposed to more mature sexual situations. 

Protests, such as that at Queen's Park recently, voice the failure to address honestly held opinion. The government should immediately undertake an educational program along with a clear message as to its purpose. The reaction might surprise. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A new embassy in Israel

Israel is the sole nation whose purported capital city, Jerusalem, no government in the world recognizes as such. In April 1979, Opposition Leader Joe Clark announced before the Canada-Israel Committee in Toronto that, should he become Prime Minister, Canada would move its embassy to Jerusalem.

"Next year in Jerusalem," he said, "is a Jewish prayer which we intend to make a Canadian reality." In June of the same year, newly-elected Prime Minister Clark affirmed his election promise. Eighteen days later, he said the decision would be deferred "until the status of Jerusalem is clarified within a comprehensive agreement between Israel and her Arab neighbours." That has yet to happen.

This month, Stephen Harper announced the construction of a new Israeli embassy in Tel Aviv. Not even our Israel-obsessed Prime Minister dares risk the opposition that greeted Clark's error.

On occasion, reality does have its effect.

Strange law makes for doubtful citizens

An unacceptable application of the law was reported in the media today. The issue concerned five Toronto police officers convicted of obstructing justice and perjury through falsification of reports. The five received 45-day conditional sentences, that is house arrest with wide latitude for leaving home. They appealed.

Three court of appeal judges dismissed the appeal. They wrote that perjury strikes "at the very root of our justice system" and "public confidence in the honesty of the police is fundamental to the integrity of the criminal justice system."

Their decision continues, "When the perpetrators of the crime are police officers sworn to uphold the law, the objective of denunciation has heightened significance. Police offices owe a special duty to be faithful to the justice system."

Crown prosecutors asked for a three-year jail sentence.

"However," the judgement concluded, "in light of all the circumstances, particularly the passage of time . . . I would order that the operation of the sentences be stayed." In other words, the convicted walk free.

Two salient features of the court's decision: It says that the police may contravene the law and not be severely punished. One of the perpetrators is still a police officer. It also informs future perpetrators that, to receive a light sentence, delay the process as long as possible.  And who better to manipulate the law than those whose duty it is to enforce it?

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Human rights commissions for fun and profit

Published in the Toronto Star:

Only history with show the correctness or otherwise of the Supreme Court's recent decision against Saguenay's recitation of a prayer before city council meetings. 

Salient in this issue is the role of the Quebec Human Rights Commission. The objector to the council prayer appealed to the commission and demanded $100,000. He was awarded $30,000 in compensatory and punitive damages.

Human rights commissions have become cash cows for the aggrieved, imagined or actual, a situation now endorsed by the Supreme Court. There are those who earn income conjuring up or creating causes of action before these tribunals, the complainant's costs borne by taxpayers. The accused must hire his own defence. 

Were there no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, one wonders how many complaints would be made to such tribunals. 

"Us" and "them"

Why are gay issues always framed as religious issues?  

What about the non-believer who does not favour gay marriage or people marching naked in public, because rightly or wrongly, he believes it against nature or for social reasons?  

Our courts and human rights tribunals operate on a winner take all basis, a "us" against "them" mentality. The result exacerbates differences of opinion and fosters the no-compromise mentality so favoured by the media. 

Diversity works both ways. What needed is clearer legislation and tribunals better trained to resolve such issues to provide accommodation for all honestly held points of view.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

International petulance

Prime Minster Harper insists on parading his embarrassing incompetence on the world stage.  

Some months ago, his petulance lost him an opportunity to speak on Ukrainian human rights with Russian President Vladimir Putin.  At the recent Americas Summit, while President Obama discussed an alliance with Raul Castro, Harper refused to speak to the Cuban President. 

With such adolescent behaviour the PM forfeited face-to-face opportunities to advocate the human rights he claims to espouse. To whom does he speak of human rights, if not the offenders?  

Harper has made a career nullifying Canada's international stature. He has lowered our status as renown peacemaker.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Bureaucracy Rampant

Letter to the Toronto Star. Unpublished.

Re Riding without a bell takes toll, April 9:

A cyclist without a bell is fined and loses demerit points on her driver's licence. There is no logical connection between riding a bicycle and a licence to drive a car. Imagine two cyclists, neither with a bell, are both fined. The latter happens to have a driver's licence is doubly punished with demerit points. 

What's next? Demerit points for late payment of taxes? Demerit points for not shovelling the snow in front of our homes?  Surely someone in the bureaucracy can see the nonsense in relating two distinct situations? 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Oil and the Western World

Letter published in the Toronto Star, April 4, 2014

Re PM, NDP clash over legality of bombing March 26:

Winston Churchill advices against legal entanglements. Whether something if lawful or not is of no consequence to the victim. The question becomes: Is it right and just to bomb someone who poses scant, is any, danger?

The existence if ISIS is yet another eruption of discontent that has characterized that region of the world for more than 1,500 years. Let's be honest. If it weren't for oil, the West would ignore the Middle East.