Saturday, October 31, 2009

Trick Or Trout!

You know that the Vatican's lost their marbles when they start echoing the fundamentalist nutballs:

What millions around the world consider a harmless tradition bound by unconvincing costumes and mountains of teeth-rotting sweets is, according to the Catholic Church, riddled with a dark undercurrent of occultism and is "absolutely anti-Christian".

But the Church's hypocrisy gets even richer - as they descend into the depths of stupidity:

Earlier this week, the Catholic Church in Spain also condemned the growing popularity of Halloween, saying it threatened to overshadow the Christian festival of All Saints' Day.

We don't need to spend too much time reflecting on the fact that much of the modern Christian calendar is based on conveniently placing holy celebrations at times which conveniently coincided with various pagan counterparts ... in a deliberate effort to overshadow the pagan celebrations.

Coming from an organization that claims the Pope has some kind of ultimate holy conduit to God that the rest of us can never possibly hope to share in, it seem particularly ironic that they worry about "occultism" - as little could be more occult than claiming to be in direct communication with the supernatural.

Stelmach Needs To Take A Long Walk Off A Short Pier

What is it with Alberta's governments and their incessant idiotic approach to anything resembling human rights issues?

The most recent outrage comes in the form of collecting and analyzing all prisoner communications.

Superficially, one might think "what's so bad about that?", after all they're in prison which means they are convicted of something, right?

The proposed changes to Alberta's Corrections Act broaden what provincial prisons can monitor, allowing for any technology inmates might access in the future, such as video or computer communications. Databases will be created, and, given "reasonable grounds," prison directors can search what inmates have said or written.

Well - there's a bit of a problem here. Someone being held in a remand facility is not necessarily convicted of anything - they may be facing serious charges, but they have not yet been convicted of them. Last I checked, this violates the fundamental principle of our justice system - the presumption of innocence.

Second, it arguably violates a key tenet of Canada's Charter of Rights:

8. Everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure.

Please note the lack of exclusions in S. 8 and the surrounding areas regarding someone who has been incarcerated, so presumably S8. applies just as much behind bars as it does on the outside. Around the clock surveillance and recording of all communications arguably constitutes an unreasonable search.

I just love how the bureaucrats are going to invent their own rules for "reasonable grounds" to use this accumulated information. This isn't going to be written in law - it's going to be at the whim of politicians and bureaucrats. I just can't imagine how that could go wrong, can you?

But, this isn't just about what can happen to you behind bars. It's about what the Conservatives from Alberta actually understand about human and civil rights. To them, it's all conditional. Are you conforming to their ideal little worldview? If not, then you don't deserve to have any rights, and they think they can arbitrarily revoke your rights at their whim.

Alberta's doing it, and make no mistake about it, Harper would do the same and worse if ever granted a majority.

Friday, October 30, 2009

That Would Be No Loss

So...CanWest is threatening to shut down the National Post.

Somehow, for a paper that has focused more on being partisan than doing actual journalism, I just don't feel like there's much of a loss involved here.

National Post was started because Conrad Black had a snit with Jean Chretien - it wasn't started because the country needed - or would benefit from - another newspaper. It was started to foment a campaign against the governing party. When the Aspers acquired it (as Conrad Black's empire was crumbling), they proceeded to drive the whole thing off the deep end of partisan extremism.

If ... and I think it's a remote if right now ... CanWest does shut down the NP, we will have simply lost another media source that overplayed its hand - not unlike the former "Alberta Report" publication which tried to go national.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

You Can't Have It Both Ways

I could have predicted that this was going to happen after the Tsuu T'ina band rejected the last agreement with the City of Calgary to build a ring road across Tsuu T'ina lands.

In an Oct. 2 letter obtained by the Herald, Big Plume says the tribe has the right to be consulted on "any and all actions or decisions that impact on the Treaty and Aboriginal Rights of Tsuu T'ina Nation. . . . Any interference by the City of Calgary of Tsuu T'ina Nation's rights to enter and leave its lands at any point along Tsuu T'ina Nation boundaries constitutes a breach of our rights under Treaty No. 7."

I have a newsflash for the Tsuu T'ina band - Calgary has a problem, and they're right smack in the middle of it. Negotiations have been ongoing with the Tsuu T'ina for decades over the alignment of a ring road. Every attempt the city has made to negotiate an arrangement has been nixed at one stage or another.

Now they're whining because the city's doing something "on their doorstep" without their consent? Too bad. The Tsuu T'ina band's commercialization efforts - whether it's the casino, the monster eyesore billboards along Glenmore or the Ashphalt plant (which does a lovely job of polluting the air in areas of Calgary that lie just west of the Band's land) have all been slammed in on the premise that the Tsuu T'ina don't have to play ball with Calgary (or Alberta, for that matter).

Calgary needs to take steps to correct the traffic flow at 37 St. This is not optional, nor is it something we can afford to sit around and "discuss" for another ten years.

The city will continue to provide the tribe legal access through the Anderson Road and 37th Street intersection, he added.

"We are moving forward with the detailed design for an interchange at 37th Street and Glenmore Trail," Bronconnier said.

This should come as no surprise to anybody on the Band council - or within the band overall. Calgary has to deal with its issues - and if the Tsuu T'ina aren't prepared to be a constructive participant in the conversation, then they have nothing to complain about when the city moves forward without them.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Is This Cost Just Early Development?

I think Jeffrey Simpson makes some interesting points about the costs and estimated effectiveness of recently announced Carbon Capture/Sequestration projects.

We get, at best, a reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions of 2.1 million tonnes. “At best” because the announcements were tempered with hedging words such as “could” achieve and “up to one million tonnes.” Therefore, something less than 2.1 million tonnes might actually be captured.

Let's be generous and assume the two projects costing $1.6-billion do in fact bury 2.1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, the most-prevalent gas contributing to global warming. Such a reduction would mean a per-tonne carbon-reduction cost of about $761 – staggeringly, wildly, mind-blowingly higher than any other conceivable measure designed to cut greenhouse-gas emissions. Want a contrast? Alberta has a piddling carbon tax on emissions over a certain level that companies can avoid by paying $15 a tonne into an technology fund.

Now, superficially, Simpson's argument makes a lot of rational sense - these are seemingly very expensive projects with minimal impact.

The question that I find myself musing about is whether this is simply the cost of developing a new technology. In the WWII era when the first computers were being developed for code cracking and other similar tasks, the computers did very limited work and cost huge amounts (especially on a per unit of work basis). Today I can walk into the local computer store and walk out with more computer power for a bit of pocket change than those hugely expensive specialty devices some six decades earlier.

So ... are we just seeing the baby steps of a new technology that will overwhelm us with its capability in a few decades, or is the technology a dead end - one which we are already so close to the practical limits of simply be some well known laws of physics and chemistry?

It's an interesting question to mull over - one which I certainly do not have the answers for. As taxpayers, we are ultimately the investors paying the freight for these projects. We should be paying close attention to the progress of these efforts, and insistent that there be measurable results - not just "smoke and mirrors".

Monday, October 19, 2009

Well... Perhaps That Explains The Weather

Someone at the Calgary Herald actually a story criticizing the HarperCon$:

The picture was of grinning Nova Scotia MP Gerald Keddy, handing a constituent an oversized cheque for a local ice rink, emblazoned with the Conservative Party logo. The giant prop cheque was even signed by the Nova Scotia MP, making it look like the $302,620 gift was courtesy of the Conservative Party, bankrolled by Keddy when in fact it was a federal stimulus grant.

This is an abuse of taxpayer dollars for partisan purposes and personal gain and raises concerns about how the program is being administered and if the government grants are being awarded disproportionately more to Conservative ridings.

... and points out:

As it is, the Conservative government is spending millions in public money blitzing the airwaves, spending five times as many dollars promoting its economic plan than raising public awareness about the flu pandemic.

Considering that this is Calgary - about the safest place in Canada for Harper, that's a stinging rebuke.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

New Wildrose Leader

Okay, the Wildrose Alliance party picked Danielle Smith as their new leader.

Certainly, I consider Smith a far more constructive choice than Dyrholm - the closeness of Dyrholm to Craig Chandler was enough to make me uncomfortable with Dyrholm (in fact Dyrholm's campaign team was more or less the same bunch of suspects that show up around Chandler every time Chandler tries to stick his oar into the politics).

The vote numbers are interesting:

Ms. Smith garnered 6,295 votes to 1,905 for Mr. Dyrholm.

That means that around 25% of the party voted for Dyrholm. Interesting. Once again, it shows us that there is a sizable body of reactionary conservatives that have taken up residence in the Wildrose Alliance. This is not unlike the Reform/Alliance/Conservative parties on the federal scene - a significant, and likely very vocal, faction exists within the party.

The challenge now will be for Danielle Smith to bring this faction to heel without alienating the remaining 75% of the party. We know what happened with the ReformaTories - the extreme took control (and has control today - do not be deluded by Harper's apparent shift towards the "center").

I know that Danielle Smith has some strong libertarian beliefs. I will be very curious to see how this influences the party policies, and how - if at all - it differentiates itself from the reactionary element that Dyrholm would represent. (What I have seen of libertarianism expressed in the US, I'm not sure it's that much different in its end result - except perhaps for less religion-centric commentary.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

In The Department of Not Getting It

We have the Catholic Church and Michael Coren.

First up is the following news brief from Zenit: Vatican Official Asks Security Group for Genuine Respect:

He pointed out that "incidents of hatred, discrimination, violence and intolerance against Christians and members of other religions continue to occur too frequently in the OSCE region and are symptomatic of the lack of peace in the world."

Monsignor Frontiero suggested that the OSCE's commitment to combat intolerance aims to promote genuine respect of "the differences among us."

The Holy See representative explained that "an absence of convictions is not synonymous with tolerance."

And, he contended, only skepticism and relativism remain if there is an absence of some "convincing notions of truth which require that we be tolerant with one who has a different idea of the truth of things."

On a first glance, there's not much to disagree with in Monsignor Frontiero's comments. Discrimination against someone on the basis of their faith is wrong, and should be challenged at every turn.

However, given the church hierarchy's involvement in firing someone for being transsexual, it starts to smell of hypocrisy to me.

Then we have Michael Coren's most recent contribution to the National Post in which he adopts a stance towards criticism of the Vatican that is very similar to the "support Israel at all costs" mentality we regularly see out of the hard right wing.

Today secularism is the ideology of fashion but Catholicbashing, the last acceptable prejudice in polite society, is the toxin the runs through the contemporary bloodstream of Western liberal society.

What Bishop Raymond Lahey is accused of doing is unspeakably awful, but an abuser no more represents the Church than a criminal politician represents democracy. But no, we are told, it's inherent to Catholicism because the Roman Catholics won't change with the times.

Right - I've heard this before - and explained why Coren is wrong.

But Coren goes even further down the rabbit hole of trying to justify the inaction of the Catholic Church towards the pedophiles in the priesthood:

On a clinically practical level, celibacy has nothing to do with sexual exploitation. The abuse rates inside the Catholic Church are almost precisely the same as those in other Christian denominations, non-Christian religions, education, public service and virtually all institutions.

That doesn't make it right, nor does it justify the Church actively protecting these predators by concealing them and moving them about - or just blatantly ignoring their activities.

The issue is not the presence of pedophiles in the priesthood, it is the rank hypocrisy of a church organization that seems to think that on one hand it can justify enabling these people while actively engaging in discrimination, persecution and marginalization of those they deem "immoral".

Among thinking people, it's hard to accept the Church's "teachings" when the odor of corruption and hypocrisy wafts from the Vatican on a seemingly weekly basis.

As an aside, Mr. Coren might want to consider the fact that unlike a lot of faiths, the Catholic Church is also a political institution which regularly tries to inject itself into the political dialogue of the world - this is all the more offensive when their pronouncements on subjects are so often at odds with their own actions.

As an aside - my beef is not with the Catholic Faith per se, but rather the political structure and its denizens who claim to be the speakers and keepers of the faith - somewhere along the way in the last 2000 years, they lost sight of the real value the Church is capable of bringing to the world

Thursday, October 15, 2009

This Is NOT To Be Confused With Fiscal Prudence

So, uncle Ed is going to take a 15% pay cut.

It almost sounds good, doesn't it?

Until you remember the 34% pay RAISE he gave himself a year ago.

Cabinet ministers will give back 10 per cent of their cabinet allowances (a cut of $6,391 per minister), but also does not include base salary and committee pay.

The premier's overall pay cut amounts to about six per cent of his total salary, which was about $213,000 prior to today's announcement. Cabinet ministers will each give back about three per cent of their total individual salary, which was $184,000 heading into today.

This is important - it's not really a 15% cut - it's less than that when you account for the extra "perks" our politicians receive for sitting on committees and other bits of pay that make up a sizeable fraction of the total pay that our politicians get. $6,000 for a cabinet minister (on an overall salary of $184,000) is peanuts - it's symbolic at most, and makes virtually no difference to the cost of operating the legislature that Alberta's taxpayers fund.

But, it's not like I've seen anything from Team Ed that suggests any ability to balance the books or otherwise manage finances.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What Happens When You Confront Religion With Evidence?

Over at No Apologies, things got even more interesting in the discussion of Mr. Buterman's firing after my last look at the thread.

One of my favourite bloggers, Zoe Brain came along and tried to present the denizens of No Apologies with actual science around transsexualism and Intersex conditions here, here, here, here and here.

Which commenter "RRC" tries desperately to dismiss in his comments - first by stating:

Your Matthew 19:12 citation is not about being intersexed. And, respectfully, you need to understand that a sovereign Creator created and governs the field of biology and is not in a separate realm from God’s creation of morality. That is philospher Immanuel Kant’s unproven assumption.

Nice attempt at a dismissal - he doesn't even bother to answer to anything that Zoe has raised in her first post. His second post attempts to dismiss Zoe by arguing that she has violated his notion of hermeneutics.

It's this attempt at a rejection that actually makes me laugh:

Anyone has a “fraudulent agenda” who doesn’t start with the Creator God and his ethical system, his “Law” as I’ve said. I already made a defense for the intelligible pre-conditions of evidence. Zoe, you can’t have raw evidence devoid of a worldview foundation. God-less presuppositions in evidence always end up in futility. That is the fraud. So I’m way thru all your researchers.
If you don’t accept my opinions I guess we’ll have to go our separate ways.
Good day.

This boils down to one thing - he's rejecting the evidence that Zoe has thoughtfully cited in her posts on the basis that he disagrees with the worldview that scientific inquiry is based on.

This isn't a lot different than the three year old having a temper tantrum because their parents won't give them the candy they've decided that they want. RRC hasn't actually refuted anything - he's just said that he can't be bothered to examine the evidence because it might make him re-examine his assumptions about the world.

Religion "In The Public Square"

Preston Manning's column in today's Globe and Mail attempts to make the case that we should somehow preserve our "Judeo-Christian heritage" - especially in the public square.

He could have made a very interesting argument about the relevance of Christian ethics or something, but instead, he goes rambling off about how we would have to demolish this building and that in order to erase all traces of it:

Moving to Ottawa, the first target for the wrecking ball would obviously be the Peace Tower, the most prominent feature of our Parliament buildings. If displaying religious material on public property at the centre of the universe is “inappropriate” because it goes against Toronto's “general policy of inclusiveness,” surely it would be utterly intolerable to allow the Peace Tower with its prominent scriptural inscriptions to remain standing.

It's really quite a ridiculous argument that he is making, and it is one that skirts around the real issues. Mr. Manning is quietly ignoring the way that religion is often used in the public square to justify marginalizing those who do not subscribe to the same moral or ethical credo.

Consider some of the screeching from the likes of Stephen Boissoin and his friends over at No Apologies over the Buterman case for a moment. (Or Boissoin's 2002 letter for that matter) Here are cases where someone is using religion "in the public square" as a means to justify limiting the rights of others, or to justify blatant discrimination against someone they find "morally repugnant" - on largely religious grounds.

In answer to this, Manning points out that the Charter acknowledges the supremacy of God:

And the Charter could not escape unscathed since its preamble acknowledges the supremacy of God, while its opening clauses seek to guarantee the freedoms of religion and expression, which the wielders of the wrecking ball seek to restrict.

What he blithely ignores is that while the charter does make such an acknowledgement, it never sets out what specific notion of God it refers to. In fact, the very existence of explicit freedom of religion clauses makes it quite clear that no particular god - and therefore, no particular religion - is recognized. It could be the Baptist notion of God, or the Hindu concept of Shiva ... or nothing at all if you are an atheist.

In short, the Canadian Constitution is deliberately vague in this area for good reason.

Contrary to Manning's wild imaginings, there isn't a coherent campaign to erase all traces of religion from the public square. What is really happening is that the assumptions of Christianity are being questioned and challenged publicly - ironically using precisely the same Charter that guarantees freedom of religion.

The really sad part is that for the most part, religions can be a source of enormous social good, and it is only a small, exceedingly vocal, handful who use their religion as an excuse to marginalize others and justify acts of discrimination.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Monday, October 12, 2009

Harper On The Concept of Head of State

Apparently, Harper doesn't understand ... or doesn't want to admit ... that our head of state isn't him.

The charismatic Ms. Jean and the command-and-control Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, have been locked in tense matters of interpretation of her duty before. Last December, the PM asked her to shut Parliament and head off a coalition's attempts to topple him.

Now, they've had a public dispute over whether the Governor-General is Canada's head of state – or something like it. Mr. Harper has in a sense styled himself as defender of the Queen's title, against what some monarchists call a creeping campaign to elevate the viceroy at the expense of the sovereign.

In a speech Monday, Ms. Jean referred to herself as Canada's “head of state,” prompting complaints from monarchists that the Queen's representative was usurping the monarch's title. Mr. Harper, through spokesman Dimitri Soudas, said the Queen is Canada's head of state, and the Governor-General her representative in Canada.

It may seem to be more about splitting hairs than anything else, but this is one more example of Harper attempting to get his way by bullying people when he can't get his way.

I'm pretty sure that what went on last fall when Harper prorogued parliament to avoid a confidence vote he was all but guaranteed to lose had more to do with Harper threatening the GG's role or validity in some way, and this little spat gives us a little more insight into the discussion.

What Harper doesn't recognize is that while the Queen is our titular head of state, her powers are fundamentally delegated to the Governor General - making the GG our effective head of state. In theory, a dispute involving the GG could be appealed to the Queen although I wonder if the Queen would simply send back a "sort it out yourselves" response - especially since Canada repatriated its constitution in 1980.

Canada's Constitution doesn't define a “head of state,” but invests executive power in the Queen; in 1947, King George VI delegated most of the monarch's duties in Canada to the governor-general in letters patent. Most legal experts believe that makes the Queen is head of state, but some constitutional experts like the University of Toronto's Peter Russell believe the evolution of the governor-general's role means its not improper for a Governor-General to use the phrase, too.

Coming from a man who doesn't delegate much of anything to his cabinet ministers, it's no surprise that Harper does not understand the delegation of powers from the Queen to the Governor General. It's a sad statement about just how sadly stunted Harper must be that he seems to seek out conflict.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Let's Talk About "Spiritual Toxic Waste", Shall We?

Since the Vatican seems to be so willing to bleat about the evils of humanism, it's time to consider the toxicity of the Vatican's own actions in history.

Canada's own history with the church is speckled and mixed - hardly filled with the acts of a Church that is universally, and always, good. Whether it is the Church's operation of Mount Cashel Orphanage, participation in the Indian Residental Schools, or the numerous and seemingly repeating scandals of pedophile priests being caught out time and again, it seems as though the church has a pretty good legacy of lecturing people on the evils of their sexuality, while quietly covering up their own indiscretions.

Talk to the survivors of sexual abuse, and ask them how toxic it has been in their lives. Talk to the survivors of the residential schools about how well that little exercise worked, or the horrors they lived through. It's some of the darkest parts of Canada's history which have the Catholic Church right smack in the middle of it all.

I think particularly appalling has been the fact that the Church hierarchy had active policies in place in the 1960s which basically concealed any of the clergy who were known to be up to no good by moving them around to other parishes ... often one step ahead of the law it seems. In the most recent case, the Church was fully aware of what was happening, and did nothing about it.

So, it is with some askance that I regard statements like this from the Vatican:

"For example," the cardinal explained, "equality of people no longer just means equal dignity and access to fundamental human rights; but also the irrelevance of the natural differences between men and women, the uniformity of all individuals, as though they were sexually undifferentiated, and therefore the equality of all sexual orientations and behavior: heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, transsexual, polymorphous. Each individual has the right to freely practice -- and change, should they wish -- their choices in line with their drives, desires and preferences."

Goodness - the idea that we might treat people with respect and dignity - even when they are different from one another just seems so shockingly toxic compared to child abuse and actively facilitating it.

Really, coming from an organization that continues to advocate for the subjugation of women (preferably relegating them to the role of pregnant and barefoot in the kitchen under the current Pope it seems), enables pedophiles and shelters them from the law, and has participated actively in some of the most egregious moments in history, it's hard to take any of these utterances seriously. In fact, the first thought that springs to mind is "and just what is this Cardinal trying to hide?".

It has taken the better part of the last half century for Canada to begin confronting some of the darker chapters in its own short history. I can only imagine what is really going on behind closed doors in various African "missions" - no matter how noble their cause may sound - and in the silence of the moral shadows they cast, just how many innocent tears are being shed as a result of the "moral toxicity" of the church's own "Spiritual Toxic Waste".

Talk About Self Centered!

I've been leaving the situation around Jan Buterman alone quite intentionally. Frankly, there just aren't enough details in the public arena to make any particularly useful commentary on the case itself.

However, that hasn't stopped the commenters over at No Apologies from getting going - in particular someone purporting to be Stephen Boissoin. (I'd guess that it is him, the writing style is consistent with other ravings of his I've seen, but it's possible that it's a poseur)

Up to this morning's comment, Boissoin wasn't doing much beyond spouting pretty standard Christian dominionist nonsense. Other than repeating his combat-centric language, it was quite unremarkable. This morning, on the other hand, he opened his mouth, and the mask slipped:

* Screen capture used since NoApologies admins have a habit of sanitizing their comments sections.

Mr. Boissoin has all of the rights that he cites from section 2 of the Charter. It is unfortunate that it has been necessary for sanctions to be imposed for his exercise of those rights in a manner that infringe upon the rights of others. The Charter sets out personal rights and freedoms. Each of us is responsible for exercising those rights in a manner that respects the rights of others.

What Boissoin doesn't quite seem to understand is that his rights are not absolute rights that overrule the rights of others. His demands about repressing GLBT people run smack into the tension between his rights and the rights of other individuals.

However, his last statement is particularly ridiculous:

I want these rights and I do not want to have sex changed transgendereds teaching my children. Catholics pay taxes and they have every right to use them for their benefit, like anyone else. The government is to serve the people.

I see ... and a transsexual has somehow taken a position in life where they have no right to appeal when they believe they have been mistreated, Mr. Boissoin? Is access to the law and justice only available to those who are in your opinion sufficiently pious?

Lastly, just what is it that you think is so evil about transsexuals? Hmmm? Afraid that the evil "transness" of these people might rub off on your children? (Didn't we get past that after the grade school "girls/boys have cooties" thing?) If you're really so afraid of such things, then perhaps you should pony up the dollars to send your children to a nicely sequestered private school, where none of the reality of the world will come before their eyes. (I hate to think how well they will handle that) ... and no, a statement of faith that denies the existence of a recognized medical condition doesn't make it go away - no matter what the Vatican says.

[Update 11:45 8/10/09]
Oh, but it keeps getting richer. This has Mr. Boissoin into quite a lather - and he's getting more and more irrational and strident.

I hate to disappoint Mr. Boissoin, but a transsexual is not necessarily a homosexual - before or after transition. Sexual identity is not the same thing as gender identity.

But, before falling into a long discussion about the distinction between gender and sexual identity, let's take a closer look at what Mr. Boissoin is saying:

I do not want gays of any sort teaching my children…no transsexuals, transvestites, transgendereds etc and I would fight tooth and nail to ensure that this did not happen.

Would his statement represent anything acceptable if it was about people's ethnicity? Let's take a look, using language that was perfectly acceptable in the Southern US not so long ago:

I do not want gays coloreds of any sort teaching my children…no transsexuals, transvestites, transgendereds Blacks, Chinese, Indians etc and I would fight tooth and nail to ensure that this did not happen.

It's not very pretty, is it? Just what make this acceptable when he's talking about GLBT people? Nothing. It's the ugly side of humanity coming to the surface. It is a sad statement indeed that the writer goes on like this. Frankly, this kind of closed mindedness is disappointing to see, as it is really no better than the arguments against racial integration not so long ago - and it is no more valid than those arguments have turned out to be.

Then he goes on to misrepresent Canada's marriage laws by claiming that a refusal to marry someone who is transsexual would result in the minister facing a human rights complaint.

While I agree that a transsexual certainly is a different situation than two men getting married, I think that the principle laid out in the Civil Marriage Act regarding faith and same sex marriages would apply:

Freedom of conscience and religion and expression of beliefs

3.1 For greater certainty, no person or organization shall be deprived of any benefit, or be subject to any obligation or sanction, under any law of the Parliament of Canada solely by reason of their exercise, in respect of marriage between persons of the same sex, of the freedom of conscience and religion guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms or the expression of their beliefs in respect of marriage as the union of a man and woman to the exclusion of all others based on that guaranteed freedom.

Now, this does leave the provincial marriage commissioners in a bit of a grey area, for they are contracted to the government (and thus act as an arm of the government) - they are thus bound by their duty as a civil servant to serve all members of society equally within the scope of their contract. (Remember, the government in Canada recognizes no specific religion, and therefore its agents must act in a similarly atheistic manner)

However, someone who is an ordained minister would be acting in their capacity as a member of that church's clergy. As such, it would be difficult indeed to make a case that a clergyman refusing to perform a marriage on theological grounds had unreasonably engaged in discriminatory practices.

(As an aside, I'm reading a little bit into this clause in that I am assuming that the courts would tend to rule that the same principle applies to transsexuals as applies to homosexual people in such a matter)

Monday, October 05, 2009

Yet Another Coverup

So ... the Church knew that Lahey was into porn 20 years ago.

At the time, Lahey was the bishop for St. George's diocese in western Newfoundland. In 2003 he moved to Nova Scotia to head the diocese of Antigonish.

"I asked him what he did with [that information], and Father Molloy mentioned that he had taken it to the appropriate authorities. In this case, it would have been Archbishop [Alphonsus] Penney," Currie said.

Penney was not available for an interview Monday, but CBC News reached Molloy in Florida where he is now a priest. Molloy confirmed what Currie told CBC News.

In short ... once again, the church hierarchy quietly hushed it up ... until 20 years later when his laptop is checked and found to be full of child porn. This is precisely what I was talking about when I excoriated Michael Coren for his naive defense of the church.

The Tiger Didn't Finish The Job

What kind of idiot is daft enough to climb not one, but two fences into a tiger enclosure?

Just what makes anyone think that this would ever be a good idea?

Too many idiots, too few tigers...

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Coren Doesn't Get It ...

As if it should come as any surprise, but Michael Coren is trying to defend the Catholic Church in light of a former Archbishop facing child porn accusations.

It says a great deal about the man who is accused but, and this is important, it says little if anything about the organization to which he belongs.

If, for example, a leading Tory, Liberal or New Democrat were caught with child pornography, would we then assume the Tory, Liberal or New Democrat parties were somehow culpable? Of course not.

No, Michael - once again you have got it wrong - very wrong. The issue of the Catholic Church and its ranks of pedophiles in the priesthood is not just about a small percentage of the clergy engaging in sexual predation from a position of trust in the community.

It's about the Catholic Church having in place a hush-hush plan to cover up the misdeeds of their clergy starting in the 1960s - a tacit approval of their behaviour from the Vatican. The church didn't want them to face justice, and took steps to ensure that they did NOT face justice.

It's also about an organization which spends its time condemning everybody it can for having an active sex life; for using contraception, for being GLBT and so on. In a context where they have actively protected and nurtured the worst kind of sexual predators out there - pedophiles.

The church has, at no time, either taken responsibility for its role in these situations, nor has it ever done what it constantly demands of others - repented for its misdeeds. The Pope issued a flaccid apology of sorts recently, but then turned around and has tried blame it all on "homosexual priests" - ignoring the Vatican's own complicity in the situation. Further, the Vatican has gone out of its way to leave the affected parishes twisting in the breeze, while the coffers of the Vatican continue to house an astonishing amount of wealth.

Until the Catholic Church takes responsibility for what happened, and its role in the whole sordid mess, every time another clergyman shows up with his hands dirty, you can expect it to reflect not just upon the individual cleric, but upon the church itself as well. Taking responsibility for what happened is the first step; repentance is the next.

When the Catholic Church starts dealing with its own sexual issues in a realistic and meaningful way, then, and only then, will they be in a position to talk about sexuality with the rest of us. Dealing with things realistically will help - and coming up with bogus tests to determine if a seminary candidate has "homosexual tendencies" isn't realistic! Until then, the church hierarchy continues to look like a bunch of hypocrites.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Do They Know What A Balance Sheet Is?

So ... Liepert's little orgy of staff terminations last year cost taxpayers $22 Million last year, and a total of $80 Million to found his "superboard". But that's not all, because the Health Superboard overpaid their severance on top of it all.

Then, we also have Stelmach handing out plenty of fat pay raises to his staff ... during the worst economic downturn Alberta has seen in years.

I've said it before - the Alberta PCs have lost sight of their responsibilities and obligations to Albertans. Their sense of self-entitlement has gotten to be such that they can't even balance their own books.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Something Doesn't Add Up Here

So ... the Alberta Government is running in the red, with a cash flow problem. So ... they need to cut services - right?

Or perhaps they might start with cutting the bonuses and other unnecessary expenditures?

(as an aside: The 44 million spent on bonuses is enough to fund GRS for the next 60 odd years)

Alberta's Conservatives have lost sight of their responsibilities and priorities where the people of Alberta are concerned.

Letting Your Biases Get In Front Of You

Yesterday, I ran across this essay on X(itter), and it annoyed me because the author makes all kinds of errors of both fact and reason.  Si...