Thursday, April 30, 2009

Office Of The Governor General Reaffirms Its Anti-Life Stand

A pro-life delegation that came to Rideau Hall to submit a petition against the Morgentaler award, was confronted by two RCMP officers from the "Special Events to the Governor General" unit:
Minutes after handing in the petition, while the group was huddled in prayer and conversation, two RCMP police officers demanded to speak with MacDonald separately from the group. According to MacDonald, the officers identified themselves as part of the "Special Events to the Governor General" unit and said they were dispatched by the coordinator in charge of public events for the Governor General.

MacDonald relates that one of the officers demanded his name and contact information, and stated that the group was engaging in an "unscheduled protest." When MacDonald replied that it was a scheduled meeting with the representatives of the Governor General and not a protest, the officer pointed to the "I regret my abortion" sign carried by Frances Wilkinson. "I hardly think of one woman holding an 'I regret my abortion sign' to be an unscheduled protest," responded MacDonald. confirmed with the Communications Director of the Governor General's office that the meeting was indeed scheduled. However, Ms. Lucy Carol said she was "not aware" of the action by the police and directed to the RCMP. RCMP communications officer Carolin Poulin said she would need to get more information on the incident, prior to responding specifically, but did say that the RCMP was responsible for security at the GG's office.

MacDonald says that he told the officer after the interrogation, "I find this extremely intimidating, and I think you are sending a strong message to these young people that if they disagree with officials, they will be treated like suspected criminals."
So the Office of the Governor General wasn't aware of the RCMP actions, directing Life Site News to the RCMP. The RCMP in its turn needs more information about the incident, so it refers all those concerned back to the GG's office. Now, that sounds familiar, doesn't it? Back in late June of 2008, when the rumors about the chief abortionist's nomination for the Order of Canada started leaking out, the GG's office directed all those phoning in to protest to... Life Canada. As if it was Life Canada's decision to nominate Canada's butcher to the Order of Canada - despite an earlier pledge not to do so.

Now, when a pro-life delegation, lead by former Broadway performer, David MacDonald, comes to Rideau Hall to submit a petition of over 18,000 people opposing the award - the coordinator in charge of public events for the Governor General dispatches a couple of RCMP officers in an attempt to get them out of there before their pro-life signs draw too much attention. Once again the Office of the Governor General has reaffirmed its anti-life stand.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Thoughts On STV 6 - Canada's Experience With STV (Contd)

Certainly, there were a lot more candidates on a ballot. But apparently it wasn't that big of a problem back then. In fact, the two elections with the largest number of candidates on a ballot (about 40 candidates in a 10 seat riding,) were the two "tiral" elections of 1920 and 1922, when Winnipeg was the only constituency to use preferential voting. In later elections, political parties began to realize that there's no point running full slate in a multi-member riding that uses proportional representation. Since late 1920s and up until Winnipeg was split into smaller ridings, its 10 seats were contested by about 20-25 candidates.

In Alberta, where major political parties insisted on running full slate, number of candidates ranged from 14 in the 5-seat Calgary (1940) to as many as 30 in the 7-seat Edmonton (1955). Wikipedia doesn't provide a ballot example, so we can't see if it was one huge list of names or if candidates from different parties were listed in the separate columns (or sections,) but neither Wikipedia, nor other sources mention spoiled or invalid ballots as a serious problem during that election.

But what about counting? All the counting was done manually back then and, according to Wikipedia, it could take up to 5 days to count the votes in a 7-member constituency like Edmonton. An opponent of the STV could use that as an argument against the system: if it took 5 days to count all the preferences on just 76,000 ballots (with no weighted transfers used) - how long will it take to count over 150,000 ballots we may have in the BC's 7-seat Capital Region?

However, let's not forget that the time between a general election and the first seating of a newly elected legislature is measured not in days, but in weeks, if not months. So, while a 5-day delay in counting was certainly irritating for many (especially - for the politicians,) it never caused the opening of the legislature in either Alberta or Manitoba to be postponed. And, of course, if we compare the situation then with what's proposed for BC - let's not forget that with the technology we have today, (from handwriting scanners to vote tabulation machines,) the ballots could be counted much faster.

But in the end, the STV was abolished, wasn't it? Unfortunately, it was. Wikipedia mentions long counting as one of the reasons. But I believe, the true reason why STV was abolished, was different. The same Wikipedia article mentions that in the 1955 election, opposition supporters were largely united behind the Liberals. That looks more like it. Switching back to FPTP ensured that supporters of different parties could no longer unite against the governing party without running a single candidate. In other words, then governing political leaders merely chose to "kick the ladder". It didn't prevent the PC victory in Manitoba, but in Alberta, it prolonged the Social Credit rule by 12 years.

Finally - in case you noticed that I didn't say anything about BC experience with STV - that's right. The electoral system BC was using for its 1952 and 1953 provincial elections, was single-member preferential voting (instant runoff,) but not STV. Even in the multi-member ridings, where STV was technically possible, strict instant runoff voting was used instead, with each MLA elected on a separate ballot. The reason for that is because the outgoing coalition government wanted nothing but a system that would allow their supporters to unite against the CCF. Proportional results in multi-member ridings, with at least 1 or 2 CCF candidates elected in each STV constituency, was the last thing they needed.

In the end, the Social Credit government, (which had replaced the Coalition, following the 1952 election,) realized that instant runoff could allow voters to unite not just against the CCF, (which had been the original intent,) but also against their own party. So they kicked the ladder, bringing back the FPTP - just as their counterparts in Alberta and Manitoba did a few years later.

Thoughts On STV 5 - Canada's Experience With STV

No, this is not a typo. Canada actually has some past experience with Single Transferable Vote. Not on the Federal level, of course, but both Manitoba and Alberta were using STV on a provincial level for over 30 years.

The very first experiment with STV on Canadian soil took place in Winnipeg in 1920. Replacing several single-member urban ridings with a city-wide multi-member constituency was nothing new back then. But instead of the "block voting", which had always been used to elect multiple members, the province chose STV as the non-list method of proportional representation.

Winnipeg's experience was apparently regarded as success not just by Manitoba, but also by Alberta. Both provinces adopted preferential voting several years later (Alberta - in 1926, Manitoba - in 1927,) using STV in urban, multi-member ridings (10 MLAs in Winnipeg, 5-7 in Edmonton, 5-6 in Calgary) and using instant runoff voting (1-member preferential voting) elsewhere. In 1949, 10-member Winnipeg riding was split into three smaller ridings (Winnipeg Centre, Winnipeg North and Winnipeg South,) electing 4 MLAs each. That was also when the riding of St. Boniface was expanded to 2 members, becoming the first rural riding to use STV.

How well did it work? At least, it wasn't any worse than the "First Past The Post". Had the voters failed to understand preferential voting or, if there had been too many spoiled ballots for any other reason, the system wouldn't have lasted through 8 provincial elections in Alberta and 9 - in Manitoba. Moreover - those multi-member STV ridings were the only place where opposition candidates could actually look forward to get elected. Anywhere else, it was usually the governing party landslide.

Was it truly proportional? Some purists may say that it wasn't and Manitoba's 2-member riding of St. Boniface would be just one of their examples. Is that fair that in the 1953 election, Liberal-Progressives elected both seats with just 41% of the vote, while CCF with 20%, PCs with 14% and Social Credit with 7% elected none? Shouldn't it have been 1 for the Liberal-Progressives and 1 for the CCF? Actually, even if a list proportional system had been used in St. Boniface - D'Hondt formula would have allocated both seats to Liberal-Progressives. The gap between them and the CCF was just too large. But here's what's great about the STV - it handles fractional seats and leftover votes according to voters' preferences, rather than redistributing seats blindly using a mathematical formula.

So if we take another look at St. Boniface, we'll see that there was also an Independent Liberal Progressive candidate with over 16% of the vote. His votes, as well as some of the second choices from the Progressive Conservatives, pushed the two Liberal Progressives over the top. At the same time - almost half of those who voted for Kay E. McKinnon didn't put another CCF candidate, David Turner, as their second choice. 511 McKinnon ballots were either "exhausted" (no 2nd choice specified) or transferred to another parties. Had the CCF voters been united, David Turner would have been elected by a ~120 vote margin.

This is an important example. Just like any other preferential voting system, STV allows voters to form coalitions, to unite behind a certain party or against some other party or candidate. Of course, lower electoral quota (12.5% to 33.3% as opposed to 50%+1 vote) often makes such ballot coalitions unnecessary. But, as we've just seen - it could still happen if that's what the voters want.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Rights Of Unborn Children Must Be Re-Visited! Help End 40 Years Of Abortion!

Campaign Life Coalition has launched a petition drive, calling for legal protection of human life from the moment of conception/fertilization to natural death. The signed petition sheets will be forwarded to pro-life politicians who will formally present all the petitions collected in the House of Commons before May 14th, the 40th anniversary of the legalization of abortion.

Here's another initiative (independent from the one launched by the CLC) - to contact all MPs electronically, with a similar petition:
May 14, 2009 is the sad 40th anniversary of abortion in Canada. Now is time for the Members of Parliament to have their email inboxes flooded by us pro-lifes calling for legislation to protect life and end abortion! is a new free resource for us pro-life Canadians where we can send an email to all MPs with just two clicks. Help make a grassroots success. Use and it share it with other pro-lifers today!
My suggestion - sign both petitions, so at least one of those signatures reaches your MP. It's time to make the pro-life voices heard!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Craziest "Human Rights" Cases

Does a fast food worker have a human right not to wash her hands? (Not because she's allergic to soap or has some sort of a skin condition, but just because she doesn't feel like washing her hands all the time?) What about a surgically mutilated male who believes that he has a human right to meet rape victims face to face, even if the women object such kind of "counseling"?

In his interview with Nick Vandergragt, Ezra Levant brings those two cases as example of what counts as "human rights" violation nowadays, how those cases are handled, who is in charge of making the decision and how mere hurt feelings could triumph over common sense and over the rights of others.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Wow, It's Still Surplus!

The mainstream media is by no means eager to mention that, but, believe it or not, Canada is about to end fiscal year 2008/09 with a small surplus:
For the first 11 months of the 2008–09 fiscal year, there was a budgetary surplus of $1.3 billion, down $11.3 billion from the $12.6-billion surplus reported in the same period of 2007–08. Budgetary revenues decreased by $6.0 billion, or 2.7 per cent, primarily reflecting lower corporate income tax and GST revenues, partially offset by growth in personal income tax and other revenues. Program expenses were up $7.4 billion, or 4.2 per cent, due to higher transfer payments, Crown corporation expenses and operating expenses of National Defence. Public debt charges were down $2.0 billion on a year-over-year basis, reflecting a lower average effective interest rate on the stock of interest-bearing debt.
So we don't have the $3.8B surplus, originally budgeted for 2008/09, but at least we don't have the $1.1B deficit, predicted in the most recent budget. $1.3B surplus in 11 months - that more or less matches the projection outlined in the last fall's economic update. The latter predicted $0.8B surplus for 2008/09.

But then comes the fiscal 2009/10, which brings along lots of "stimulus" spending. Program expenses are projected to hit $229B this year and $236B in 2010/11. That's when we're going to have all those $30B deficits. The only hope is that the government (which can no longer count on the disgruntled Liberal voters, but has plenty of small-c Conservatives to win back) starts cutting corners here and there, to keep the deficits lower than predicted. A sharp cut in spending (or at the least - not letting program spending to grow beyond $230B until 2015 or so) would be great, but... We're 11 seats short :( And it looks like those 11 seats are going to cost us (and our children) some about $6B each, if not $7B. And billions more in interest charges :(

P.S. Special thanks to Kate McMillan for posting the link on Small Dead Animals.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Political Correctness, Multi-Cult, Enviromania... - Evolution Of Marxist Fascism

Great article by Dr. Sanity. (Thank you, Nova Scotia Scott, for posting the link!)
Multiculturalism and political correctness are two key aspects of the strategy. Both are fundamental pseudo-intellectual, quasi-religious tenets for the left. The third is radical environmentalism which is a clever emotional substitute for Judeo-Christian religious traditions and dogma, for which the left has nothing but contempt.
The intellectuals of the left have been unable to abandon their totalitarian / collectivist ideology, even after communism and national socialism proved to be crushing failures in the 20th century. But the new face of their same old tired ideas has been rehabilitated and madeover by their clever adoption of postmodern metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics. Slowly, but relentlessly, the dogma of multiculturalism and political correctness has been absorbed at all levels of Western culture in the last two decades--and after the end of the cold war, it has been accelerating. Slowly but relentlessly they have found new ways to discredit freedom, individuality and capitalism.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Demographic Winter Spells Economic Collapse

First - here's a great article by Mark Steyn:
Take a “toxic asset”. What would improve its current pitiful value? That’s easy: More demand. Less supply. An asset is only an asset as long as there’s a buyer willing to buy it. If you’ve got 50 houses and 100 would-be homeowners, that’s good for property prices. If you’ve got 100 houses and 50 would-be homeowners, that’s not so good.

Which is the situation much of the developed world is facing. A bank is a kind of demographic shorthand, by which old people with capital lend to young people with ambition and ideas. Unfortunately, the western world is running out of young people. Japan, Germany and Russia are already in net population decline. Fifty per cent of Japanese women born in the Seventies are childless. Between 1990 and 2000, the percentage of Spanish women childless at the age of 30 almost doubled, from just over 30 per cent to just shy of 60 per cent. In Sweden, Finland, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, 20 per cent of 40-year old women are childless. In Germany, 30 per cent of all women are childless. In a recent poll, invited to state the “ideal” number of children, 16.6 per cent of Germans answered “None.”
Now look at it from a business point of view. In the United States, depending on what line of work you’re in, your sales territory may be your town or your state or the whole of America. But for Germany, Italy and Japan, their only viable sales territory is the world. When your median age is 43 and rising, any economic growth is down to exports. Wall Street experts talk about restoring “consumer confidence”, but in much of Europe they won’t restore “confidence” until they restore consumers – ie, figure out a way to generate sufficient numbers of them. Until then, the domestic market is maxed out.
Our politicians think they've already figured out the way to generate more consumers. They believe - immigration is the way. What they don't realize is that they've effectively turned immigration into a "Ponzi scheme", as the new arrivals are expected to become the consumers and the taxpayers (let alone - CPP contributors) which the economy badly needs. Ponzi schemes don't last long.
"Demographic Winter is a timely account of a crisis we cannot ignore. The loss of confidence and the decline of faith that afflict much of the West are leaving us with empty cradles and emptier hearts. This film is a call to recover the family so that we can renew our future."
Tony Perkins, President
Family Research Council
Unless hundreds-of-thousands of concerned citizens watch this movie and take action, the following factors will erode our culture and bring about the demise of our society:
  • Childless Culture and Abortion
  • Delayed Marriage and Cohabitation
  • The Normalization of Homosexuality
  • Population Control
  • The Decline of Natural Marriage
  • A mass media (including Hollywood) that inculcates an ethic of selfishness and a live-for-the-moment existence
  • The decline of religion and traditional morality
The threat is real. It is here NOW!
Follow this link to request the full-length documentary on Demographic Winter.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Forget About Those Melting Ice Caps

Because, contrary to the common belief, the Antarctic ice cap is actually growing, not shrinking:
The results of ice-core drilling and sea ice monitoring indicate there is no large-scale melting of ice over most of Antarctica, although experts are concerned at ice losses on the continent's western coast.

Antarctica has 90 per cent of the Earth's ice and 80 per cent of its fresh water. Extensive melting of Antarctic ice sheets would be required to raise sea levels substantially, and ice is melting in parts of west Antarctica. The destabilisation of the Wilkins ice shelf generated international headlines this month.

However, the picture is very different in east Antarctica, which includes the territory claimed by Australia.

East Antarctica is four times the size of west Antarctica and parts of it are cooling. The Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research report prepared for last week's meeting of Antarctic Treaty nations in Washington noted the South Pole had shown "significant cooling in recent decades".
Ice core drilling in the fast ice off Australia's Davis Station in East Antarctica by the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Co-Operative Research Centre shows that last year, the ice had a maximum thickness of 1.89m, its densest in 10 years. The average thickness of the ice at Davis since the 1950s is 1.67m.

A paper to be published soon by the British Antarctic Survey in the journal Geophysical Research Letters is expected to confirm that over the past 30 years, the area of sea ice around the continent has expanded.
The only place where the ice caps are still melting appears to be our mainstream warm-mongering media which recycles old photos and headlines to keep their myth alive. Without much success though:
Just one-out-of-three voters (34%) now believe global warming is caused by human activity, the lowest finding yet in Rasmussen Reports national surveying. ... Forty-eight percent (48%) of all likely voters attribute climate change to long-term planetary trends, while seven percent (7%) blame some other reason. Eleven percent (11%) aren’t sure.

These numbers reflect a reversal from a year ago when 47% blamed human activity while 34% said long-term planetary trends.
Global warming rhetoric just doesn't go well when you get one harsh winter after another, does it? But replacing the term "global warming" with more neutral "climate change" doesn't help the cause; if anything it shows that the trend is not necessarily upwards and it hints that there may be other causes to recent climatic deviations beside human activity.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Liberals Want More Powers For "Human Rights" Commissions

As if there haven't been enough absurd claims of bogus discrimination and hurt feelings, some in the Liberal party propose to broaden the CHRC mandate which would include social condition and citizenship status as prohibited grounds of discrimination.
What will "Social Condition" entail? Does the Sub-Prime Mortgage mess ring a bell: For instance, financial institutions may assume that all people who have low paying jobs are an unacceptable risk for a loan.

I'd say goodbye property rights but we don't have any written in our charter.

Or, an employer may impose unnecessary job requirements that deny employment to capable people who have low literacy skills as a result of their social disadvantage.

Now with the proposed inclusion of "citizenship status" one can only assume the Liberals are cultivating brave new victim class voting blocks - Can you say Gitmo Inmates for Ignatieff?
When it comes to "citizenship status", even if it won't result in a "human rights" complaint from a refugee claimant willing to vote in a Federal election, a complaint from a permanent resident who wants to be qualified for a DND contract despite being a citizen of a hostile nation, is almost certain. And, as if all that wasn't bad enough, another policy proposal would empower the CHRC to enforce UN recommendations.
The Libs propose:
  • the CHRC be given the power to monitor the implementation of our commitments and obligations to enforce its recommendations;
This means subservience to the UN plain and simple, the goal is to do an end run around our elected officials and judiciary. I see new HRC legisaltion calling for an end to the Defamation of Islam as a main plank in the Liberals next election platform. Don't believe me? Liberals - MP Paul Szabo, MP Bonnie Crombie, and Omar Algabra attended the recent Palestine House event which hosted the anti-semitic Sheikh Akrama Sabri (Imam of Alaqsa Mosque) and Bishop Attala Hanna, attendee's were exhorted to vote Liberal as the tide had turned and the majority within the LPC now favoured the Palestinian cause over Israel.

And what else? Not a mention of notorious thought crime law Section 13 (1). And why would they? Liberals are anything but.
That's double-plus-ungood, comrades :(

Monday, April 20, 2009

Thoughts On STV 4 — What The Critics Won't Say

Yes, there are some things they just won't say when highlighting certain facts about STV. For example, they tend to reiterate that with STV, voters only get one vote to elect several MLAs. The catchphrase "2 (3, 5, 7) MLAs to be elected but only one vote per voter" repeats itself over and over on the No STV website, so in the end, a person who is unfamiliar with STV may think that we'll be still voting with an X, (just one X,) to elect multiple members. But with STV, we'll be able to specify multiple choices to elect multiple members, won't we?

The critics of the STV argue that it's not enough:
The numbers or rankings that are marked on each ballot are not separate votes but are instructions to be used in the complicated counting system.
What they don't say is that those "instructions" as they call them effectively answer the most important question: If your first choice doesn't get elected or if he's already been elected - what's your second choice? Specifying multiple preferences on a ballot is much more informative than marking an X or even - multiple Xs.

Here's another common myth:
...the complicated formula discriminates between the percentage of votes needed to elect MLAs.

In the capital region a candidate needs 12.5 per cent to be elected. In the Northeast region it requires 33.3 per cent, in Columbia-Kootenay 20 per cent and in Vancouver West 14.3 per cent.
What's never mentioned is: 12.5% (14.3%, 20% or 33.3%) of what? Let's not forget that a 7-seat Capital Region riding will have much bigger population than a 2-seat North East riding. What if we count the actual number of votes required to get elected under STV and compare it to the number of votes one needs to win under the current system?

The proposed Capital Region constituency would have a population of 345,164. That's 49,309 residents per MLA. Obviously, that includes children and permanent residents who aren't yet eligible to vote. And of course, not every one of those voters is actually going to get out and cast the ballot. Let's assume that the number of active voters equals to 1/2 of the population. So we're talking about 172,582 ballots cast. The quota in a 7-member riding is 1/8+1 vote = 21573 votes.

Now, what about existing single member ridings? The most populous of the 7 single-member constituencies that would make up the Capital Region riding is Saanich North and the Islands. Its population is 55,201 which gives us 27,600 active voters. So the maximum number of votes one would need to get elected is 50%+1=13,801 votes; that - if we only have 2 candidates on the ballot which almost never happens nowadays. As for the minimum number - it could be... just anything, depending on the actual number of candidates and on how well they perform. Usually, it takes about 40% of the votes to get elected under FPTP. In our example that would be ~11,000 votes or almost half the number of voters one would need under STV.

So, if anything - it should be the "yes" side arguing that the existing First Past The Post system discriminates between the percentage of votes needed to elect MLAs. After all, while the STV quota is based on the number of elected MLAs (which is pre-defined for every constituency,) the percentage quota for FPTP is determined by how people vote.

And finally - this:
Your second preference could get counted as 10 per cent of a vote while your neighbour's second preference could get counted as a full vote, or as some value in between, or not at all. With STV you cannot control what fraction of your vote is given to each of your preferences, because how your vote is counted is determined by how other people vote.
What wasn't mentioned is: the only time your subsequent choice can be counted as anything less than a full vote is if your preceding choice has already been elected. In other words - you've already got one of your top choice candidates elected and now, since that guy actually had some surplus votes - part of your vote goes further, benefiting your next choice. If anything - that's an advantage.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Thoughts On STV 3 — Myths And Reality

Myth: We'll end up with huge unmanageable super-ridings, some of which will be bigger than Ireland.
Fact: Rural constituencies in northern BC will be huge, no matter what electoral system you use. You just can't avoid that when you have a vast amount of land with small population. Arguing that some of those ridings will be bigger than a European nation which elects its own assembly is as pointless as complaining that existing BC riding of Stikine (196,437 km2) is larger than New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and PEI put together, yet it only elects one MLA.

In reality however, the proposed NorthEast constituency is just 17% larger than existing riding of Peace River North (175,808 km2) and it's actually smaller than its Federal counterpart - Prince George/Peace River (237,174 km2.) The largest proposed constituency (NorthWest) is just 15% bigger than its Federal counterpart Skeena/Bulkley Valley (323,720km2). Except that those Federal ridings return only 1 member, while NorthWest would return 3 MLAs and NorthEast would return 2.

Myth: We'll have some 40 candidates on the ballot.
Fact: Number of candidates on the ballot depends more on the electoral rules than on the number of elected members returned by the district. Great example is Toronto, where the two recent mayoral elections (in 2003 and 2006) were contested by about 40 candidates each. That's more candidates than Winnipeg used to have in 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, when the city was electing as many as 10 MLAs in a single constituency.

Ireland has been using STV since 1920s and the number of candidates in a 5-member constituency rarely exceeds 15. If BC maintains reasonable requirements for the candidates, even a 7-member constituency (Capital region) is unlikely to have more than 20 candidates. To make voting easier, candidates from different parties would be listed in separate columns, so going through all those names won't be any more difficult than going through 8-12 names that we usually have on a ballot in a single-member urban constituency.

Myth: STV will undermine local representation.
Fact: Number of MLAs won't change and all of them will be elected locally. There will be no party lists, no MLAs at large or anything else that would break the direct link between the voters in a constituency and their elected members. If anything, a system in which candidates must compete not just with other parties but also with other candidates from the same party, would compel elected members to listen to their constituents first, rather than blindly obeying the party leader.

Myth: Our tradition of local representation has always been one MP (or MLA) per constituency.
Fact: Up until 1991, some BC constituencies used to return more than one MLA (usually 2, sometimes - 3 or 4). The concept of having more than one elected member isn't foreign to other regions either: New Brunswick used to have 2-4 member ridings until 1974 and PEI was electing its assembly using 2-member constituencies until 1993. On a Federal level, Halifax riding was returning 2 MPs until 1966.

Except that back then, "block voting" was used, so all those MLAs were either in the government or in the opposition. Under STV, each constituency is likely to elect both government and opposition MLAs; that way, every resident in a constituency will have an MLA willing to listen to his concerns.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Political Correctness In A Nutshell: "Shut Up!"

When ideology triumphs over the common sense, "shut up" becomes the only argument.
But even if the left can't turn shut up into law, they've worked hard over the years to make it the custom of the country. It's the essence of politically correct phraseology and univeristy speech codes: say it our way or shut up.
The left here has been making the "shut up" argument at least since the '70s when it became clear that all their other arguments have failed.
Well said. Andrew Klavan was talking about what's going on in the US but it isn't any better in Canada. In fact - here in Canada we have those tyrannical "human rights" commissions that enforce the very same policy - shut up! Yes, beside the authority to asses fines of up to $50,000 and incarcerate would-be-haters, they can also slap a lifetime ban on expressing opinions that go against the politically correct point of view, making it literally - "say it our way or shut up".

Here's another great video, featuring Ezra Levant, Kathy Shaidle and Salim Mansur, answering questions on freedom-snatching commissions and on the censorship, those Orwellian tribunals enforce in the name of human rights.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Ignatieff - Fighting Deficit With Tax Hike?

WATERLOO, ONT. — Federal taxes will have to rise to pay off Canada's burgeoning deficit, but not at the expense of economic recovery, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff said Tuesday.

The Conservative Party quickly jumped on Mr. Ignatieff's comments, highlighting them at the top of their website.

“We will have to raise taxes,” but not at the expense of hurting the recovery from this recession, Mr. Ignatieff, on a four-day tour of Southwestern Ontario, told a meeting of the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce.

“An honest politician” cannot exclude a tax hike as an option, Mr. Ignatieff said in response to a question from Cambridge, Ont., business leader John Bell, who wanted to known when the federal debt will be paid back.
That stimulus thingy is sure costly. You just can't tax hard-working Canadians and successful businesses enough. Plus such Liberal priorities as McDaycare, foreign aid, Kyoto - those are all cash-guzzling programs... So, if this guy wins - expect more tax grab. And we can almost pinpoint - what kind:
Stéphane Dion may be gone but his much-maligned carbon tax proposal lingers on among Liberals.

The idea was a flop with voters during last fall's federal election but it has popped up again in priority policy resolutions to be debated later this month at a Liberal convention that will officially crown Michael Ignatieff as Mr. Dion's successor.

One resolution, proposed by the Quebec wing of the party, calls on a Liberal government to unconditionally commit to meeting the Kyoto Protocol targets, enacting legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that would include "establishing a carbon tax, a cap and trade system or a combination of both."

Another, proposed by the British Columbia wing of the party, calls on a Liberal government to consider "all mechanisms of investment, incentive and taxation" to combat global warming and stimulate sustainable economic growth.
So, carbon tax won't be "revenue neutral" any more. It will be a deficit cutting measure. Sooner or later, the deficit will be gone, but the tax will remain, because, as I stated above, Liberal priorities are quite expensive...

But how about a spending cut? Back in 2003/04 (just 6 years ago,) program spending stood at $153.6B. Now, with all the "stimulus spending", it has skyrocketed to $229.1B. That's a 50% increase in just 6 years. How about trimming program spending to $200B a year and keeping it there until inflation and population growth catch up?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Thoughts On STV 2 - Is It Really THAT Complicated?

That appears to be one of the major arguments against the STV. Sure, the STV is more complex than the existing Single Member Plurality. But does that really mean that STV is so complicated that voters simply couldn't understand how to use it? Let's find that out.

Try to picture a typical ballot paper, just like the one you cast in the last election. There would be at least 4 candidates there, one for each major party; maybe more, if you are in Quebec or if there are several Independents or minor party candidates in your riding. How complicated would it be if, instead of just placing an X, you were supposed to rank those candidates in your order of preference, marking 1 next to your first choice, 2 next to your second choice and so on?

To keep it simple, we wouldn't ask you to rank every single candidate, so there would be no need to go through all those Independents or fringe party candidates and decide whether the guy you've never heard of is your 7-th or 8-th choice. Just rank as many (or as few) as you wish. It wouldn't be that complicated, would it?

Now, let's assume this is a multi-member district, so major parties run more than one candidate each. Would it be that complicated ranking them in your order of preference? Again, you don't have to rank them all, so you don't have to determine which candidate from the rival party you hate the least. I'm talking about determining which one out of 2, 3 or 4 candidates for the party that you support is your first choice, which one is your second choice etc. Would you have any troubles doing this?

Finally, let's assume that the province starts using vote tabulation machines, so, instead of actually writing a number next to the candidate's name, you actually have to fill in the oval with that particular number. (This is not something that's currently planned, but let's say eventually, manual counting is replaced by vote tabulators.) Sure, that may require a little more work and more thinking than merely putting an X in just one column, but would it make voting just too complicated for an average person? I doubt it.

Now, what about the polling station workers who'd have to count those ballots? Nothing too complicated there. Just count the first preferences; if it turns out that no candidate has enough first preferences to get elected - eliminate the candidate with the lowest number of votes and redistribute his ballots to the remaining candidates, in accordance with voters' second, third or subsequent choices. Repeat until the desired number of candidates gain enough votes to get elected. Sounds pretty easy so far, doesn't it?

But what if one of the candidates has a surplus? Let's say, the quota to get elected is 22,500 votes and the candidate has 25,000. Then we must transfer those 2,500 surplus votes, following voters' preferences, in a manner that every second (or subsequent) choice counts. Isn't that where it gets complicated? Not really. The formula is quite simple: if we are transferring 2,500 votes and we have 25,000 ballot papers, then each ballot paper counts as 2500/25,000=0.1 of a transferred vote.

Thus - if out of those 25000 ballots, 15000 have candidate B as second (or subsequent) choice, 8000 - candidate C, 1980 - candidate D and 20 - candidate E, then, out of 2500 surplus votes, 1500 are transferred to candidate B, 800 - to candidate C, 198 - to candidate D and 2 - to candidate E. Recounting all 25,000 ballots and recording voters' preferences will be time consuming, yes. But hardly - complicated. Here's an example of a typical vote counting process under STV. It doesn't look too complicated, does it?

By the way, Ireland still uses manual counting (no vote tabulation machines and Sudoku-looking ballots there,) and it takes just a couple of days for the final results to be tallied. Also it doesn't look like the people there are having problems with Single Transferable Vote. Their share of spoiled ballots (0.9%) isn't much bigger than the share of spoiled ballots cast during Canada's last Federal election (which is 0.7%). So, if STV is adopted in BC, it's unlikely that British Columbians will have a hard time casting their ballot in the next election.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Disabled Baby - A Perfect Source Of Human Spare Parts?

TORONTO, April 9, 2009 ( - A two month-old child at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children, described in the media as "dying," has defied doctor's predictions and continued to live after the removal of a respirator. The respirator was removed in the expectation that the child would stop breathing, and that her heart could then be harvested for transplant. Her parents have expressed their disappointment that another child who is being cared for at the hospital will now not receive their daughter's heart.

The case has created a stir in Canada, with numerous commentators debating the ethics of the case. Some disability rights campaigners have pointed out that the child's condition is not "terminal" and have warned that in seeking to make the girl an organ donor, the hospital may be making a "quality of life" judgment about the child. They are also concerned that the issue is being inflated in the public mind by the media's misrepresentation of the child's condition.

Kaylee Wallace was born with a condition called Joubert Syndrome, which causes a malformation of the part of the brain that that controls balance and coordination. Among the symptoms of Joubert Syndrome is an abnormal breathing pattern which means that Kaylee requires assistance breathing while she sleeps. But medical literature on the disorder does not describe it as a "terminal condition." Indeed, depending on the severity, some patients recover normal sleep patterns later in life.

Nevertheless, on Tuesday, doctors removed the respirator and Kaylee was expected to fall asleep and stop breathing. After she stopped breathing, her heart could be removed shortly after cardiac arrest. But Kaylee did not fall asleep and continued to breathe, causing doctors to remove Kaylee from the organ donors' list in accordance with the hospital's ethics policies.

Kaylee's parents, Jason Wallace and Crystal Vitelli, have asked doctors to try again. Wallace said, "If she's going to die, we got to keep trying."

"I want my child to pass on because she can't survive, and to save that child."
"Hurry up and die, your organs are needed by someone else" - is this the way those guys understand recycling?!

On the other hand, we shouldn't be surprised. If it became socially acceptable to destroy a disabled baby while he's still in the womb, no wonder some parents don't mind taking away life of a disabled baby that has already been born. In both cases, the same logic is used - it's for the baby's own good, so he doesn't suffer too much. And you see how socially conscious the parents are - they're not doing that out of their personal convenience (like that Quebec couple that sues the hospital for not dehydrating their daughter to death,) they want to save the life of another child...

Still, a baby is not a car that you can take apart so that spare parts could be used to fix another vehicle. Just like any of us, little Kaylee Wallace has all the rights to live whatever number of years God is willing to give her, without being rushed to the morgue just because someone else thinks that her life is not worth living. Here's an example of a devoted mother that cherishes every moment she could have with her daughter, baby Faith Hope, that was born with anencephaly. For her - this is a baby, not a source of human spare parts. Too bad, little Kaylee Wallace isn't lucky enough to have such devoted parents.

Thoughts On STV - Why I Support It

First of all - STV offers people the freedom to vote their conscience. Instead of having to choose between a candidate you support and the front-runner you hate the least, you just rank the candidates in your order of preference, without worrying about splitting the vote and making it easier for the front-runner you hate the most to get elected.

If you think that the latter only concerns minor party supporters - think again. There are more than enough constituencies where either a Liberal or a Conservative candidate doesn't happen to be among the two front-runners. Conservatives face the same tough choice in Quebec and in many urban ridings, where the other front-runner is NDP. Similarly, Liberals in the Western provinces (apart from Vancouver,) are in the same situation, since the race is mainly between the Conservatives and the NDP. According to the Nanos poll 64% of Canadian voters have a second choice. Preferential voting, which is used in the STV, allows voters to mark that choice on a ballot.

Another great advantage of the STV is intra-party competition. In other words, Liberals competing with other Liberals, Conservative - with other Conservatives etc. Currently we have that only during the nomination contest, which is, on one end, restricted to a select group of supporters and, on the other end, the results are often distorted, as almost every party allows would be candidates to sign-up hundreds of one-time members to outnumber their rivals. Not to mention all those "star candidates" that could be "parachuted" into a riding, bypassing the democratic nomination process altogether. STV addresses those problems, giving a lot more say to the voters.

Obviously, preferential voting allows anyone who believes that his nomination was rigged or hijacked, to run as independent without splitting the vote. But that's not all. Since STV uses multi-member constituencies, there will be more than one candidate for each major party. Thus - voters could choose not just the party they support, but also - what candidates from that party they'd rather see elected. So, if one out of 3 candidates for a specific party is a "hijacker" who won the nomination through mass sign-ups or if he's a "star candidate", appointed by the party executives - voters have the opportunity not to vote for him while still supporting the party of their choice.

For example, voters can put either candidate B or candidate C as their first choice, then candidate C or candidate B respectively - as their second choice; then they could either stop there or rank an independent candidate or a candidate from another party - as their third choice, leaving the unwanted candidate A distant fourth (or fifth if not tenth) or not ranking him at all. Voters also have the opportunity to split their allegiance, ranking an independent candidate or a candidate from another party as their second choice, then returning to their preferred party and ranking the remaining candidates as their third, fourth and subsequent choices. The options are numerous and the final say is always up to the voters.

This turns out to be an advantage of its own. By being able to pick up specific candidates, rather than being compelled to vote for the only one that's on the ballot, the voters become able to choose the direction in which their preferred party should move. Red Tories or SoCons? Bob Rae Liberals or Michael Ignatieff Liberals? Run both and see which candidates receive more 1s and 2s next to their names. That will send a comprehensive message to the party executives and convention delegates, won't it? (Yes, I know that BC STV would only apply on a provincial level, but it's easier for me to use Federal parties as an example.)

Finally - STV allows us to maintain all the advantages of the existing electoral system. While it reduces the distortion between popular vote and the actual seat distribution, this is achieved without using party lists, with all the candidates (not just 60 or 70 percent) running locally, with each candidate being personally accountable to the voters in his constituency. It does not need an arbitrarily set qualifying threshold and "fractional" seats (if any) are distributed based on users' second and third choices, rather than using mathematical formulas. STV empowers voters, maintains local representation, holds elected representatives accountable while making the final seat count more proportional. That's why I support it.

Monday, April 13, 2009

40 Days For Life Vigil Bursts The Bubble Zone

Here's another report - from Edmonton. Vigil keepers must walk by faith, not by sight, praying on the other side of the street, as the so called "bubble zone" law won't allow them to get any closer, let alone - approaching the women who get in. But even that makes the abortion facility owners worried:
In Edmonton, participants kept peaceful vigil 12 hours a day at the Women’s Health Options abortion clinic.

While it’s unknown whether her prayers and peaceful vigil at the former Morgentaler clinic prevented any abortions, she’s certain that the campaign has brought awareness to the pro-life cause.

“It’s made an impact on the area. A woman from around here didn’t know what this was. She thought it was just a women’s clinic. She didn’t know abortions were done here,” said MacLellan.

Police were called after some of the people keeping vigil spoke to the patients entering the clinic, which is not allowed.

Janet MacLellan
“We aren’t supposed to talk to the women who are going in there at all. They have a bubble zone. We are not allowed on the other side of the street,” said MacLellan, praying outside of the Back Porch, directly across the street.

That clinic staff are worried about the pro-life vigil in itself shows that the event had an impact, she said. ”When they go in there, they always turn and look at us. The staff always checks to see how many people are here.”
Notice the Orwellian name - abortion mill that slaughters babies and traumatizes mothers is called "women's health options". The anti-life crowd uses misleading names and unjust laws just to prevent the truth about their cherished procedure from being told. Sure, they can silence people one by one. But they can't silence truth and common sense.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

It's The Sun, Not The Carbon Dioxide To Blame

As it turns out, recent climatic trends (be that warming or cooling) depend on the solar activity rather than on a level of Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere.
Boston (MA) - Harvard astrophysicist Dr. Willie Soon tells us that Earth has seen a reduced level of sunspot activity for the past 18 months, and is currently at the lowest levels seen in almost a century. Dr. Soon says "The sun is just slightly dimmer and has been for about the last 18 months. And that is because there are very few sunspots." He says when the sun has less sunspots, it gives off less energy, and the Earth tends to cool. He notes 2008 was a cold year for this very reason, and that 2009 may be cold for the same.

As of today, there have been 15 days in a row without any sunspots. In 2008 there were 266 days scattered throughout the year without sunspots, and in 2007 there were 163 days without sunspots. These are the #2 and #9 fewest sunspots years seen since 1911.
Around the year 2000, the current cycle had reached its maximum. As of right now in 2009, it is at a period of zero sunspot activity. Still, he explains that no one knows for sure how long the cycles will last, and there are precedents that sunspots can persist for long periods of time, or there can be few or none for long periods of time (as happened between 1645 and 1715 during the Little Ice Age).

So far in 2009, the sun has had no sunspots for 88 out of the 99 days so far this year. Dr. Soon calls what we are seeing "the first deep solar minimum of the space age", and "In fact, this is the quietest [fewest sunspots] Sun we have had in almost a century".
Let's think again. The level of Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere didn't go down in the last couple of years, did it? So if it was Carbon Dioxide to blame - we wouldn't have two coldest winters in the row, not to mention a third "white Easter" since 2007 here in Moncton. Now, if we compare the changes in solar activity with the recent climatic trends - that makes a lot more sense, doesn't it?

So, when are we going to see the end of this obsession with greenhouse gas emissions? Instead of trying to change the makeup of the atmosphere and influence the global climatic trends - how about implementing real measures to reduce air and water pollution?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

"The Origin Of Freedom Lies In Breathing"

Here are two more reviews of Ezra Levant's book "Shakedown". One is by a former cabinet minister, Monte Solberg:
But not everything in Shakedown reads like fantasy. His story of the terrible abuse of power at the Canadian Human Rights Commission is a bone-chilling horror story. God help you if you get caught in its crosshairs, because if it investigates you, the ordinary rules of justice don't apply, including the normal legal protections for the accused.

After reading Shakedown I am embarrassed for not doing nearly enough to take up this cause when I was in government.

Secondly, I'm angry. Now that all has been laid bare I hope current federal and provincial cabinet ministers are also embarrassed at this outrage, embarrassed enough to rein in human rights commissions who long ago quit caring about real human rights.
Well, it would have been much better if he had taken his time to take closer look at the abuse of power by the HRCs when he was still in the Cabinet. But... better late, than never.

And here's another review, by Salim Mansur, one the contributors to the Proud To Be Canadian blog. The message is simple: Ezra Levant defends us all.
Canada is one of the oldest democracies, rightfully proud of its traditions among which is the hard won and constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech. But social engineering of the 1960s gave Canadians the human rights commissions, with legislatively provided power to monitor free speech and punish those who run afoul of their codes. This is a stain on Canadian democracy.

Freedom of speech is the foundation of liberal democracy and the ground on which rests all other freedoms. Of this Elias Canetti, Bulgarian-born writer and winner of the 1981 Nobel Prize for literature, noted bitingly, "The origin of freedom lies in breathing."

The lamest excuse for constraining free speech is preventing people from being offended.

Friday, April 10, 2009

40 Days For Life Vigil - Hundreds Of Babies Saved

Pro-life advocates reported that they have saved 398 babies from abortion during a recent nationwide campaign.

During the 40 Days of Life Campaign, which ran Feb. 25 to April 5, pro-life supporters prayed and fasted to end abortion. In the fourth run of the campaign, participants also held prayer vigils and local demonstrations outside abortion centers in 135 cities across the country, Canada, Australia and Northern Ireland.

The figure from the latest 40 Days of Life effort brings the total number of babies saved from abortion to 1,517.
The title says - 389 babies. According to the article - it's 398. And while I was trying to figure out which number is right, the 40 Days For Life homepage came up with what looks like a final tally - 422 babies saved.

From what I understand, this appears to be the first campaign during Lent - and people were there despite the snow and the freezing rain, doing whatever is in their power to change hearts and save lives. Next 40 Days For Life Vigil is planned for September 23 to November 1st. Hopefully, there will be a vigil site in Atlantic Canada that time.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Social Conservatives Make Conservatism More Human

The National Post has published an excerpt from David Quist’s recent presentation to the Manning Networking Conference and Exhibition in Ottawa.
If we accept that social conservatives are concerned with the social well-being of our nation — of our society — then we need the support and co-operation of other conservatives. A strong, healthy, vibrant society is less expensive. It is a safer society. It is more productive. And it needs little if any government interference.

If on the other hand society is in a downward slide, we will need more tax dollars to pay for policing, to take care of those who for whatever reason cannot take care of themselves. That will require more government interference. Social conservatives are those that make the conservative movement a little bit more human and therefore more acceptable to our society — and for those in politics that spells votes.
The publication itself sparkled a fierce discussion with lost of angry comments posted from both sides. But let's actually try and compare the policy proposals.

For example, when it comes to abortion funding, mainstream Conservative / PC parties either consider that as integral part of healthcare funding or, simply choose to maintain the status-quo. The Libertarian / FisCon approach is - just get the government out of the healthcare business altogether, leaving the actual decision to the private insurers. In this situation, the Social Conservative position makes the most sense: elective injurious procedures (including abortions that are injurious to the mothers and deadly to the babies) should never be funded by medicare. The Medical Saving Account system proposed by the Family Coalition Party of Ontario would maintain universal, single-tier publicly funded healthcare, while opening door to more competition between service providers, encouraging accountability, personal responsibility and healthy living.

But what if we look at something less controversial, let's say: education. Unlike what the angry commenters have posted, it's the Liberal/Progressive camp that uses our schools to proselytize. To make things worse, the mainstream Conservative / PC parties rarely dare to go ahead and reverse even the nastiest Liberal/Progressive policies in education. Again, beside trying to "trim the fat" in management and to cut back on administration costs, they choose to let the sleeping dog lie. The Libertarian / FisCon approach is as always - get the government out of this and let the private owners decide what's better for their schools. But what about the SoCons?

Believe it or not, but the FCP policy book proposes parental choice in education. The principle is simple: the funding should follow the students. If the government spends a hefty sum on education (about $9000 per student each year) - it better provides that money directly to the parents in the form of education vouchers, so that the parents could choose which school they want for their children. Again, we have a middle ground approach which maintains universal access to education (at lower cost to the taxpayers,) while encouraging competition between schools and offering a lot more choice to the parents.

Now, what about taxes? The mainstream Conservatives often choose go on a spending spree, so even if there are some tax cuts - each dollar in tax cuts is often matched with 2-3 if not five dollars or more in new spending. But even if the Conservatives are determined to cut spending, their strategy to avoid controversial issues just won't allow them to eliminate the real waste. They simply won't dare to defund and dismantle institutions whose sole purpose is Liberal/Progressive social engineering (HRCs, SOW, gun registry, you name it,) so any serious spending cuts usually come at expense of essential services. The Libertarian / FisCon position is that less government is better, even if it means slashing essential services. What about the SoCons?

We've seen how SoCon policies in healthcare and education allow for the best quality services without excess taxation and all-pervasive public sector management. Now, here's a theory of Economic Optimalism, recently presented by the FCP leader Giuseppe Gori. Many Optimalist principles (including the government's "don't do list") resemble Libertarian / FisCon position quite closely. Moreover - even the optimum amount for taxation is to be determined by independent economists, not by politicians. On the other hand, the government gets the maximum potential of the economic performance, without overburdening the economy with excess taxation. Once again, we have a middle-ground approach that would ensure optimum amount of government revenues to finance the social safety net, education and other essential services while keeping the taxes low.

So, like it or not, but David Quist is right; Social Conservatives are the ones who make the conservative movement a little more human. To that I'll add - Social Conservatives are the ones who put the common sense into Conservatism. And, if the mainstream Conservative parties were more open towards real Conservative views (instead of bending backwards trying to lure disgruntled Liberal supporters) they would be getting more votes.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Children Need Mom And Dad, Not McDaycare

A new report confirms what pro-family organizations have been saying for decades: that children are better off when both parents are around; that sole custody robs the children of the love of one parent; that today's legal system is out of touch with the needs of children and treats them like property to be won or lost.
Especially devastating are the long-term effects of court orders that essentially cut one parent out of children's lives – usually the dad – in a misguided effort to foster peace between warring parents, the report says.

Citing a host of North American studies, Kruk's report points to the long-term dangers: Some 85 per cent of youth in prison are fatherless; 71 per cent of high school dropouts grew up without fathers, as did 90 per cent of runaway children. Fatherless youth are also more prone to depression, suicide, delinquency, promiscuity, drug abuse, behavioural problems and teen pregnancy, warns the 84-page report, a compilation of dozens of studies around divorce and custody, including some of his own research over the past 20 years.

"Parent-child bonds are formed through daily routines – preparing breakfast, taking the child to school, having dinner, getting ready for bed. Without that, it's very difficult for parents to have any real connection with their kids," Kruk said in a telephone interview from B.C. "It's so destructive for children to have a loving parent removed from their lives."
Those who claim that the nuclear family is gone and that we better get used to it, propose a state-run universal daycare system as a solution. They believe that an all-day kindergarten could become a viable substitute for a traditional family and they often refer to an inevitable tax hike that would be required to finance such a system as "investment", claiming that each tax dollar "invested" in McDaycares will pay off tenfold on a long run. The reality however is different:
Over £3 billion of Sure Start in the U.K. resulted in worse outcomes for the target population of children of low-income single mothers, according to the £20 million assessment.

And for fulfilled promises of improved “social cohesion,” don’t look to race-riot prone France where over 90% of children attend state preschool.

Here, Quebec’s program is admitted to be neither universal nor high quality. Christa Japel of the Universite de Montreal found 71% of daycare children in “minimal” or worse care, yet she still clings to the promises.
And Sweden, the "daycare Nirvana" isn't any better. So, as Helen Ward explains in her National Post article, all-day kindergarten turns out to be yet another investment scam. Instead of "investing" in universal daycare, we better invest in families, first and foremost - by reworking the laws and tax rules to strengthen the traditional family, instead of than undermining it. Because children need mom and dad, not McDaycare.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Diversity or Informed Choice In Education — What Is More Important?

Should parents be allowed to know how many students in a particular public school come from low-income households? Is it ok for a website designed to help parents compare public schools, include not just the test score averages, but also statistical information about students - from the percentage of students whose parents have university degrees to the share of students whose first language is other than English?

Ontario government believes it's just a matter of bringing public information together in one easy-to-access place. The opposition (including the very progressive Conservatives) finds such information too controversial, if not offensive:
However, the Conservatives and New Democrats said the site also allows parents who are so inclined to make sure their kids avoid going to schools in poor neighbourhoods or ones with large numbers of immigrants.

“It allows parents to say, ‘I don't want my child going where income levels are below the norm or where there's a certain racial makeup to an area,”' said interim Opposition Leader Bob Runciman. “I think that's totally wrong and should offend most thinking Ontarians.”

The New Democrats support giving parents information so they can compare individual schools in academic performance, but said it should not include data on students who speak English as a second language or whose parents earn more than $100,000.

“That is clearly designed to make sure that parents know exactly where to send their children,” said NDP education critic Rosario Marchese.
So what's wrong with that? Why shouldn't the parents be allowed to know where exactly to send their children? Or does Mr. Marchese think that the one to know best is the government, not the parents?

"Progressive" politicians of all stripes are afraid that parents may reject their vision of diversity in public schools; that some of them may start withdrawing their children from "bad" schools and transfer them to "good" schools. But if that's what happens, then whose fault it is? Is it the parents' fault that they don't want their kids to be used as guinea pigs in yet another "progressive" social experiment? Or is it the progressives' fault that their blueprints for success, happiness, harmony and diversity in public schools considers anything but the parents' concerns?

Monday, April 6, 2009

What Really Counts As A Human Right?

How come not washing hands, while working in fast food - is a right, but freedom of speech - isn't? Here's another great review of Ezra Levant's book:
Levant has researched a huge number of human rights cases in Canada and has stumbled upon numerous bizarre cases, such as the employee who sued McDonald's -- and won -- after she was fired for not washing her hands; the disabled man who liked flaunting his medicinal pot smoking and won his case against the pub owner who asked him not to smoke outside his door; and the Boston Pizza employee who didn't like the music played by her younger colleagues.

Levant makes observations, which should make any Canadian sit up and think. The commission has the right to walk into your home or office, conduct a search and confiscate anything, if it pertains to an investigation. Unlike the police, the commission does not require a warrant.

Also, there is no governing body overseeing the commission, so there is no one to complain to about it, Levant says.
Sreerekha Verma concludes the review by saying that what is missing is the commission's side of the story. Well, the commission's side of the story isn't really missing. It's always there, in the commissions' archives, clearly visible in every ruling. Just read them - and you'll have their point of view on the case and their reasoning behind penalizing an opinion. Check some of their dismissal rulings in which they literally convict the defendant of hate speech even if the case is dismissed...

The commission's side of the story is simple: they believe that they are the ones to tell us whose rights are more important than ours, whose fragile feelings triumph over our freedom of speech, who is equal and who is more equal than any of us.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Thoughts On Economic Optimalism

Optimalism - an economic theory presented by Giuseppe Gori, the leader of the Family Coalition Party of Ontario, is a new approach to government, based on facts, science, logic, experience and truth, for the optimal benefit of the governed. It's a middle-ground concept, that guarantees the highest possible funding for social programs and a required level of investment, while maintaining the lowest possible taxation level and a limit to the growth of government.

The key principle is that the relationship between taxation level and government revenues is not linear; there is an optimum level of taxation, at which government revenues reach their maximum. Exceeding that optimum point burdens individuals and businesses, impedes economic growth and results in loss of government revenue on the long run. On the contrary, adhering to the optimum level and maximizing the revenues without pressuring the economy, will produce a compounding effect for both on the long run, allowing the society to prosper and producing greater revenues for the government.

As a protective measure against partisanship, the optimum level is to be determined by independent economists, not by politicians. Another protective measure would compel the governments to outline spending as percentages of the actual revenues, rather than as plain numbers. Political parties would maintain their ability to prioritize spending in the areas of their choice, but instead of "so many billions for healthcare over the next 25 years", it will be "removing 1.2% from arts and 2.8% from foreign aid and transferring those 4% to healthcare". And, since the maximum is always 100%, that would leave no room for deficit financing.

While Giuseppe Gori regards Optimalism as a middle ground between socialist and libertarian / non-interventionalist positions, Optimalism, as outlined in the book, leans more towards economic libertarianism: allowing more economic freedom for businesses (government can set the standards but cannot punish industries with taxation,) allowing private sector to compete with government monopolies, disallowing the government from borrowing or printing money to provide what is commonly referred to as "stimulus" spending, replacing all existing taxes (on income, dividends, capital gains, real estate etc) with just one single tax which would be a Value Added Tax...

Well, that must be long-term prospective. Even if we can confine government revenues and program spending within the optimum percentage point of the GDP - it will probably take decades for the compounding effect to raise families' disposable income to such level, that all the social services that we cherish so much nowadays, start falling out of use.

Same when it comes to replacing all the taxes with a single Value Added Tax. Each percentage point of the existing Goods and Services Tax brings in revenue of ~0.33% of the GDP. HST Provinces which don't match the Federal GST credit, manage to raise about 0.4 to 0.45% of the GDP for each percentage point. Thus - unless the VAT is made more broad-based (the latter would mean taxing groceries, rent, equipment and raw material purchases for businesses etc) - raising the optimum amount would require 40% to 70% VAT. Or, if we make it a hidden tax, posting all prices "tax included", then a $100 out of pocket expense would include a $29 tax on a $71 purchase, if not a $41 tax on a $59 purchase. That would be just too high. So, most likely, some income and excise taxes will have to be maintained even on a longer run.

Moreover - achieving the optimum level of taxation - that alone will take many years to achieve. Number-wise, the optimum point percentage could be between 16% and 23% of the GDP, depending on the nation's economic performance and the standards of living. Compared to the actual level of taxation in Canada (33.3%) that actually means that we're taxed if not double then at least 50% above the optimum level. So we need to slash at least 10 percentage points of government spending (federal, provincial and municipal combined) just so that taxes don't overburden the economy and don't impede decent growth levels.

How long will it take to achieve such a cut when we have deficits at both federal and provincial level, when public debt is growing and the largest government expenditure is interest payments? Even if the books are balanced in 3 years (which is unlikely) and then all three levels of government start bringing their spending under control and consolidating their debts to achieve a combined reduction of 1% a year (which is even less likely) - even then, the optimum percentage point won't be achieved until 2022...

But here's something that could be implemented right away: have the government officials' wages pegged to the average private sector wage, at a certain ratio. That would not only eliminate the ever repeating votes on raising MPs' salaries but could also be used as a way to resolve labor disputes in the public sector. Depending on the position, skills and experience, a salary of each civil servant could be set to, let's say 75% to 150% of an average wage in the private sector. So it will be up to the actual job market conditions to determine whether public employees should be getting a raise or a pay cut. Too bad, the government missed out on the opportunity to include a proposal like that in the budget. That could have been a great first step towards Economic Optimalism.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Weren't Those Doctors Supposed To Protect Life?

Here's another story of a baby that could have been slaughtered in the womb because of a wrong diagnosis:
Baby Deacon Lewis is a lively, healthy baby who sleeps right through the night and is a joy to his proud parents.

But Deacon, who is now six months old, was almost aborted after doctors told his mother he almost certainly suffered from a chromosome disorder that would eventually kill him.

Dawn Lewis, 26, says she was advised to have an abortion when a routine 12-week scan showed her child had Edward's syndrome.
But Miss Lewis, a childminder, refused to have an abortion and decided to seek a second opinion on her baby's condition.
Baby Deacon definitely should thank his lucky stars that his parents actually took the time to seek a second opinion. And - that in the end it turned out that he didn't have the Edward's syndrome. Because if he had - well, we all know the common attitude... Had the fatal diagnosis been confirmed, baby Deacon might not have lived to see daylight.

Now, the baby's mother is filing an official complaint over the severe distress caused by the diagnostic error:
Miss Lewis, who has a six-year-old daughter Ayla, said: 'Many people would have taken the doctors' advice and never have known they had aborted a healthy child.
It wasn't that long ago when the Hippocratic Oath compelled the doctors to protect every life and to reject abortion. Nowadays, abortion is something that the doctors actually recommend, often - quite aggressively; claiming that if the baby is handicapped - his life is not worthy of living, without bothering to verify their deadly diagnosis.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Abortion Center Employee Wants A Different Job

Thanks to the 40 Days for Life vigil, she just can't take it any more. And, as it turns out, she's not the only one who doesn't want to stay in the abortion business:
An abortion center employee has been talking to the 40 Days for Life prayer volunteers outside of her workplace - and she wants out!

Her message was simple - she just couldn't take it any longer. It was time to look for a new job.

She asked the vigil participants to pray for her. She said she couldn't simply quit her job, because she needs the income. Her prayer request was that she be able to find a suitable position elsewhere so she could give her notice at the clinic.

She also said the prayers of the vigil participants have a definite impact at the clinic. "When there are prayers happening outside, she said the tone of what happens inside changes," the local campaign coordinator told me. "Everyone is aware of their presence, and she for one, can no longer pretend that what is happening is OK."

There are women in Carson City, Nevada who "can't take it any longer" either. Because of 40 Days for Life, they've learned the shocking truth that the ob/gyn practice they go to for routine health care also does abortions.
Hopefully, their colleagues join them sooner or later. It would be great to see those abortion mills shutting down due to the lack of staff.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Ezra Levant's "Shakedown" Quoted By National Post.

National Post provides a sneak preview of the famous book:
Like most Canadians, I had previously associated the term human rights with the noble goal of eliminating real discrimination against blacks, Jews, Muslims, gays, women and other groups that historically have been targeted by bigotry. Yet with little political fanfare or media scrutiny, human rights commissions have shifted their mission in recent years. As real discrimination has waned in our increasingly tolerant society, they have shifted into the field of what George Orwell called "thoughtcrime."

Human rights commissions now monitor political opinions, fine people for expressing politically incorrect viewpoints, censor Web sites and even ban people, permanently, from saying certain things. I've also seen how empire-building government bureaucrats actively seek out complaints -- even absurd complaints that have nothing at all to do with real human rights -- to keep a caseload churning through their grievance industry.

It's not just politically incorrect ideas that are under attack. It could be almost anything. I was stunned to discover that Canada's human rights commissions ruled that a McDonald's restaurant in Vancouver had to accommodate an employee who couldn't wash her hands often enough at work. I learned about a Calgary hairstylist who filed a human rights complaint because the girls at salon school called him a "loser." The commission actually had a trial about it. In another case that seemed stranger than fiction, an emotionally unstable transsexual fought for --and won-- the right to counsel female rape victims at a women's shelter, despite the anguished pleas of the rape victims themselves not to let him in.

The more I dug, the more I discovered that my interrogation at the hands of the government wasn't unusual. Every day, Canadians from coast to coast are trapped in these Alice in Wonderland commissions, where bizarre new human rights are made up on the spot and where regular legal procedures don't apply. Sometimes, it feels like Saudi justice; sometimes, it smacks of the old Soviet Union; sometimes, it sounds like a Saturday Night Live sketch. Rarely does it feel Canadian.
The book itself has also been featured on the Michael Coren Show and it's received great review from Rex Murphy (Check out Rex Murphy's G&M article titled The right to offend the easily offended.) Now, with NP giving us the preview, there will be not only more people willing to purchase the book, but also - more people aware of the abuse which takes place in Canada in the name of "human rights".

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Michael Ignatieff Agrees: Americans Have Too Much Free Speech

So don't expect him to protect freedom of speech here in Canada:
Freedom of speech is an American concept according to a scholarly work edited by none other than current Liberal Party leader Michael Ignatieff. If Levant and others hope that Keith Martin's motion to abolish Section 13 of the Canadian Human Right Act was a sign that the Liberal Party was more committed to this issue than the other parties, they're sorely mistaken.

Most of Ignatieff's book is available via a Google books preview. Enough of it is available that you can get Ignatieff's main thesis, and the thesis of the writer who authored the section on the First Amendment. Entitled "American Exceptionalism and Human Rights," Ignatieff argues that America has done much abroad to promote human rights, while her domestic policy has ignored those very same standards. From the chapter on the First Amendment entitled "The Exceptional First Amendment" by Frederick Schauer:
On this cluster of interrelated topics, there appears to be a strong international consensus that the principles of freedom of expression are either overridden or irrelevant when what is being expressed is racial, ethnic or religious hatred. Going back at least as far as the 1965 Race Relations Act in the United Kingdom, Section 4 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and Article 20 of the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and continuing through numerous other national and international laws, treaties, conventions, covenants and understandings, the incitement to racial hatred and other verbal manifestations of race-based animosity are widely accepted as lying outside the boundaries of what a properly conceived freedom of expression encompasses. Consistent with this worldwide consensus and international mandate, the typical non-American domestic regime prohibits various forms of racially hostile speech, with "hate speech' being the common umbrella term of much of the speech that is commonly prohibited for reasons of its contribution to intolerance on the grounds of race, religion, ethnicity, national origin and, less commonly, gender and sexual orientation.
Sounds promising, doesn't it?

And another thing: the article which describes Michael Ignatieff's stand on free speech also quotes this passage by Pearl Eliadis: "My support for free speech stops at the same limits established in all civilized democraies: not only hate speech, but child pornography, libel and defamation. This is hardly 'un-Canadian,' to use Levant's word."

Yeah, as if Ezra Levant or anyone else for that matter ever demanded libel and defamation, not to mention child pornography, to be treated as free speech. Even when it comes to "hate speech" which Eliadis conveniently leaves out, there's a difference between direct incitement to violence and merely publishing a cartoon or writing an article that hurts some activist's feelings.

What we demand is the right to disagree - with one's views, with one's culture or with one's lifestyle. To publicly disagree without fear of being hauled in front of a quasi-judiciary tribunal where truth is not a defense, where hurt feelings matter more than facts, where the presumption is 'guilty until proven innocent' and where the process itself is the punishment. Too bad that so many of our opponents either fail or refuse to understand that.