Friday, December 31, 2010

Publicly Funded CBC Censorship

Catholic Insight|
ost Canadian academics and journalists are so in thrall to a perverse system of value relativism that they can no longer tolerate even the expression of public support for the traditional principles of Judeo-Christian morality. And nowhere is this malign censorship more evident than in the mass media.

Take the CBC, for example.  In an article published on its website It Gets Better: Trevor Ritchie on coming out (November 1), the author, a third-year student and gay activist at the University of British Columbia, advises "queer teens" that they have little to fear from publicly affirming their homosexuality. Ritchie assures: "Positive portrayals in popular culture, as well as individuals in the community providing positive role models, have made the rest of society understand that we are not that different, save for who [sic] we are attracted to...."

That's typical of the CBC. Day in and day out, our national broadcaster serves up an unrelenting drumbeat of propaganda for homosexual acts, promiscuity, abortion and a range of other perversions. Of late, the corporation has even started slanting its news broadcasts in favour of legalized prostitution.

In response to the broadcasting of this corrupt propaganda on CBC television and radio, there is little that concerned viewers and listeners can do beyond firing off letters of complaint to CBC management and their local MP. However, in response to articles published on the CBC website, readers are invited to submit their comments for on-line publication. In a set of guidelines for these submissions, the CBC urges: "Tell us your story, be a part of the team. wants you to participate in online comments, video uploads and photo submissions."

The guidelines also stipulate that while comments must be "civil" and avoid "racist, sexist and offensive language," readers should not shy away from controversy: "We want your perspective. Probe, analyze, inform. Challenge, advocate, debate. Inspire, entertain, enjoy. Your contributions make our website and on-air programming richer, the conversations more lively and diverse."

Kevin G. McDonald, a CBC reader, listener and viewer in Halifax, has taken up this invitation. In response to Ritchie's article, he emailed a comment to the CBC, suggesting that: "Catholic youth struggling with same-sex attraction may want to consider the advice of the Catechism of the Catholic Church."

In a quotation from paragraph 2357 of the Catechism, McDonald wrote: "Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that 'homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.' They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved."

McDonald also cited the provision in paragraph 2358 that people with deep-seated homosexual tendencies "must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided."

By any reasonable interpretation, McDonald's remarks clearly fall within the written guidelines of the CBC. Yet the corporation has refused to publish his comment. McDonald does not give up easily. He has submitted numerous other similar comments citing the moral objections to homosexual sexual behaviour by Protestants, Jews and Muslims. He has also attempted to draw the attention of CBC readers to the National Association of Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), an organization backed by an array of distinguished psychiatrists that offers assistance to people struggling with an attraction to homosexuality.

McDonald reports that none of these comments or anything like them by other readers have been published by the CBC. He has filed complaints about this patent discrimination against Canadians with reasonable concerns for the health and well-being of vulnerable homosexuals to the CBC ombudsman, the executive director of CBC News, and CBC President Hubert Lacroix. All to no avail.

Coming from a public broadcaster that gets more than $1 billion a year in taxpayers' subsidies, such censorship is completely unacceptable. What will the Harper government do about this scandal? Evidently, nothing. In reaction to a query from McDonald, Heritage Minister James Moore, the cabinet member responsible for the CBC, conveyed no response except that he does not get involved in "day-to-day operations at the CBC."

© Copyright 2003-2010 by

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Media ignores Islamist extremism

The National Post
By Rory Leishman

The following column was scheduled for publication in The London Free Press on Sept. 11. The editor in chief declined to run it because the author refused to eliminate the sentence citing the participation by two prominent local imams in a lecture series at the London chapter of the Muslim Association of Canada -- a national organization dedicated to promoting the Islamist ideology of Hassan Al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood. The editor insists that the imams should have been given space in the column to defend their collaboration with MACLondon.

Following the arrest of three more Canadian citizens on terrorism charges last month, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews warned: “We are not immune from international or home-grown radicalization. I have said this before: The threat is real and we cannot be complacent.”

Consider the evidence: The great majority of suspected terrorists arrested in Canada in recent years were either born and raised in Canada, or had spent most of their formative years in this country. And the same is true of all 11 of the Toronto 18 suspects who were convicted of conspiring to storm Parliament Hill and set off a series of devastating truck bombs in downtown Toronto.

That’s not all. An Environics poll conducted three years ago found that 10 per cent of a representative national sample of Canadian Muslims admitted to feeling that members of the Toronto 18 were completely or somewhat justified to plan their attacks. How can that be? How could tens of thousands of Muslims living in Canada sympathize with Islamist terrorists who were plotting the greatest mass slaughter of civilians in Canadian history?

Part of the answer can be found in some mainstream Muslim publications in Canada. For example, in July, Al Bilad, a monthly newspaper published in Arabic and English in London, Ontario, featured a poem that glorifies an Islamist homicide bomber who pleads to her mother:
“Yumma, tell my son that I did not abandon him, never!
I did it for his freedom and our peoples (sic) right to be able to live free, forever!
Yumma, tell my husband that he will always be my all,
I know he understands and he knows why I took that call.”

Following the publication of this ode to terrorism in Al Bilad, all Canadians alert to the peril of home-grown radicalization should surely boycott the newspaper. Yet the current issue includes advertisements for Jack Layton, leader of the New Democratic Party; Irene Mathyssen, NDP MP for London–Fanshawe; Khalil Ramal, Liberal MPP for London-Fanshawe; Jim Chahbar, Conservative candidate for London–Fanshawe; and Ed Holder, Conservative MP for London-West.

Home-grown Islamist extremists are also liable to draw inspiration from groups like the Muslim Association of Canada, a fundamentalist organization with chapters in 11 Canadian cities. MAC leaders state on their national website: “MAC adopts and strives to implement Islam … as understood in its contemporary context by the late Imam, Hassan Al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood.”

Banna was one of the prime advocates of violent jihad in the 20th century. In Islam`s Predicament: Perspectives of a Muslim Dissident, Salim Mansur, professor of political science at the University of Western Ontario, notes: “Banna preached a dangerous mix of religion and violence.... He is not just the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, but he is also the source of modern fundamentalist politics in the Arab-Muslim world. His teachings evolved and mutated into the politics and terrorism of Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda.”

Banna has also helped to inspire the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), a terrorist organization banned in Canada. The Hamas Charter lauds Banna as “The Martyr, Imam Hassan al-Banna, of blessed memory” and commends his incendiary declamation: “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.”

One might suppose that moderate and peaceful Muslim leaders would repudiate the Muslim Association of Canada as well as all other organizations inspired by Banna. Yet among the speakers in a recent series of lectures presented by the London chapter of MAC were Sheikh Jamal Taleb, Imam of the London Muslim Mosque, and Dr. Munir El-Kassem, Muslim chaplain at the University of Western Ontario and Imam for the Islamic Centre of Southwestern Ontario.

Toews is right: Home-grown radicalization is a real threat. It is confined mainly, but not entirely, within the Muslim community. Surely, Parliament should shake off its complacency and conduct urgent national hearings into how all loyal and law-abiding Canadians can best combat this serious and growing menace to our national security.


Ruscitti advised me that he would publish this column, if I were to eliminate the sentence referring to Imams Taleb and El-Kassem. Ruscitti wrote:

Hello Rory,

As you might imagine for the time it has taken me to send this, I've put a good deal into reconsideration, as promised.

So as not to bury the lede, and but for one stumbling block that may yet scupper things (though I hope not), I'm prepared to run the thing.

It comes after much reflection over the content itself, your arguments and a small bit of consultation with colleagues.

While I'd like to think I do my best (and will continue to do so in this new role) to stand firmly behind free speech, the marketplace of ideas, and time-tested distinctions between opinion/columns and news reporting, there is another important distinction to be made, and that is the one that brings us to the stumbling block: the distinction between the roles of a local or community newspaper and a national or international one.

Let me get more directly to the point: Under the banner of free speech, I can comfortably defend (though I may not entirely agree with) your taking to task of Al Bilad and the politicians advertising in it as well as your drawing down of the Muslim Association of Canada when the inevitable calls come.

Where I will run into trouble is when Sheikh Jamal Taleb and Dr. Munir El-Kassem phone.

The rule, at least at The Free Press for as long as I can remember, is if you're taking someone to task whether by direct call-out or inference and that person is local (by that I really mean within arm's length of The Free Press circulation area), then that person has a right to a phone call to defend or otherwise their actions, column or not.

There are exceptions, of course -- I'm thinking in general of politicians who act for the public and etc -- but it's a reminder I've given many times, for example, to [Free Press columnists] Ian Gillespie and Morris Dalla Costa.

Maybe it's just my rule, I don't know, and I may not be able to mount a winning argument that such a rule does not round off the edges of the principles of free speech, but feels too much like ambush by pen and not so unlike gossiping behind someone's back, only in public, if that makes any sense.

In short, if you'll agree to leave out the second sentence of the penultimate paragraph ("Yet among the speakers . . . of Southwestern Ontario."), I'll agree to run the column this weekend.

I'm afraid that's the best I can do.

And, incidentally, I want you to know I generally agree with the main thrust of the column -- bit of a rarity, but there you go.



I responded as follows:

Hi Joe:

I regret to say that we have evidently arrived at an impasse: I cannot imagine any valid arguments that Taleb and El-Kassem could advance to justify their indisputable collaboration with the Muslim Association of Canada. Besides, given the limited space I have in a 700-word column, I could not do justice to whatever defence they might offer. For these reasons, I have concluded in consultation with others that you should publish the column as is and give Taleb and El-Kassem an opportunity to publish a rebuttal. Only in this way can Free Press readers weigh for themselves the opposing viewpoints on this vitally important and intensely controversial issue as presented by both sides.

Best wishes,


Ruscitti disagreed and refused to publish the column. That was disappointing. Even more disturbing is the failure of the Free Press newsroom to follow up on the information in my aborted column: The paper has not published any news report on the poem glorifying an Islamist homicide bomber in Al-Bilad or the collaboration of Imams Taleb and El-Kassem with the local chapter of a national Islamist organization.

What accounts for such complacency? The London chapter of MAC is well known to Free Press editors. On September 4, the newspaper published a letter to the editor stating:

Certainly the London imams and other Muslim leaders I know are concerned not only for the souls of their people, but also for their civic duty as citizens of London and of Canada.

While some young folk may be influenced by radicalism disseminated on the Internet from around the world, anyone who has had teenagers, or worked with them, knows their primary influence is usually their friends. That's why the Muslim Association of Canada has established a youth centre in London where young people can gather under reliable adult supervision.

I shared a Ramadan iftar (meal) at a wonderful, warm, friendly gathering in the youth centre last Sunday evening.

Surely, the Free Press should inform its readers that the Muslim Association of Canada is dedicated to propagating the ideas of a radical Islamist, Hassan Al-Banna.

The Free Press is not alone in neglecting this story. Neither the National Post nor The Globe and Mail has carried a single report on the Muslim Association of Canada. The Toronto Star, CBC and CTV have at least each published an occasional puff piece on MAC, but none has reported its alarming links to Banna and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Macleans magazine stands out as a commendable exception in its coverage of the Muslim Association of Canada. Over the past two years, Macleans has published several stories citing the link between MAC and Banna. As recently as September 10, Macleans foreign correspondent Michael noted that Bloc Quebecois MP Meili Faille had gone off last year on a $6,000 junket to the United Arab Emirates that was paid for by the Muslim Association of Canada. Petrou wrote:

The MAC, according to its website, “adopts and strives to implement Islam, as embodied in the Qur’an, and the teachings of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and as understood in its contemporary context by the late Imam, Hassan Albanna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood. MAC regards this ideology as the best representation of Islam as delivered by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).”

The Muslim Brotherhood is one of the primary foundation movements of modern political Islamism. Hamas is a spin-off franchise. Although it has become more moderate in recent decades, the Muslim Brotherhood’s ultimate goal is not to promote the practice of Islam within parliamentary democracies, but to create Islamic states. It is a powerful and spreading movement, and I suppose one could make the argument that Canadian MPs should learn more about it. But I’m especially uncomfortable with a group that champions Hassan al-Banna’s illiberal and anti-democratic agenda footing the bill for one of our elected representatives’ flights and hotel rooms.

In a column "Canadian takes on Islamist movement" that was published on April 17 in the Toronto Sun and also, to its credit, in the London Free Press, Mansur reported:

Point de bascule, or the tipping point, is a Montreal-based French language webmagazine. It is dedicated to explore and expose Islamist activities in our midst, particularly in Quebec.

Point de bascule is the creation of Marc Lebuis, a remarkable French-Canadian with a passionate interest in global affairs and a deep concern about the dangers of Islamism to his country.

Last Thursday, Point de bascule held a press conference open to the mainstream media and public to discuss the latest lecture tour of Tariq Ramadan in Montreal and Ottawa sponsored by Islamist organizations, such as the various chapters of the Muslim Association of Canada, for fundraising purposes.

Mansur's conclusion is worth underlining:

Marc Lebuis and Point de bascule are truly the David in this mighty difficult contest with the Goliath — the MB [Muslim Brotherhood] and their petrodollar support — that would not be the case if the mainstream media and our political representatives were doing their job.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Scandalous neglect of the mentally ill

The London Free Press
By Rory Leishman

We Canadians like to think of ourselves as an especially compassionate people, but you would never know it from the way so many of our fellow Canadians with a severe mental illness have been shamefully neglected.
Following the development of anti-psychotic drugs in the 1950s, Canada followed the lead of the United States in the mass eviction of patients from psychiatric hospitals. The intent was both to save billions of dollars in hospital expenditures and improve the lifestyle of these patients, by empowering them to live productively in the community.
The first of these aims has been amply achieved, but not the second. To this day, tens of thousands of Canadians with a severe mental illness have been abandoned in the community without adequate psychiatric care. Many go off their medications and get in trouble with the law. Countless others languish in dingy and noxious flophouses.
Granted, mental patients who have been diagnosed as a danger to themselves or others can still be hospitalized. And Canada is blessed with many outstanding psychiatrists who have dedicated their lives and careers to helping these severely ill and often demanding psychiatric patients.
However, there simply are not enough of these committed psychiatrists to meet the need. To some extent, that is understandable. The marvel is that so many psychiatrists are willing to get up in the middle of the night to help deal with some deranged psychotic who has gone berserk on an acute-care mental ward when they could live a much quieter and easier life counselling the “worried well” from nine-to-five in a cozy office.
In 2004, the Ontario Ministry of Health undertook to improve acute psychiatric services, by providing the London Health Sciences Centre and other eligible hospitals with millions of dollars in additional annual funding “to enhance the remuneration of physicians providing psychiatric services in hospitals and to attract psychiatrists to work in hospitals.” In a contractual agreement with hospital administrators, the Ministry specified: “Please note that this funding is to be directed towards the payment for physician psychiatric services.”
Last October, 12 psychiatrists employed by the LHSC sent a letter to David Caplan, then Ontario Minister of Health, stating their belief that the extra money given to their hospital under this 2004 agreement to increase their stipends for psychiatric services had been misallocated. Copies of the letter were also sent to the Ontario Attorney General and Auditor General.
Having received no response, the 12 physicians sent a follow-up letter on February 26 to the current Ontario Minister of Health Deb Matthews, Liberal MPP for London North Centre. An official investigation is now underway. According to legal counsel for the Ontario Attorney General, the health ministry has commissioned PriceWaterhouseCoopers LLP to conduct “an audit of the Psychiatric Stipend funding allotment provided to LHSC to ascertain compliance with the eligibility criteria and the other terms and conditions of the funding.”
Matthews should make the results of this audit public. And if the allegations of the 12 psychiatrists are substantiated, she should undertake to assure that the hospital administrators responsible for the misallocation of enhanced funding for the provision of acute-care psychiatric services are justly censured.
Alas, the allegations of administrative malfeasance in this instance are not unique. There have been numerous other complaints about maladministration within London Mental Health Hospital Services. In an ongoing law suit, another psychiatrist, Dr. Gamel Sadek, charges that agents of St. Joseph’s Health Care London wrongfully ended his employment at the hospital and engaged in a “malicious and vindictive attempt” to embarrass and discredit him “in the event he ‘blew the whistle” on their deliberate mismanagement of the psychiatric care program, and the mishandling of doctors, forcing a mass exodus.”
Sadek’s allegations have not been proven in court.
Matthews can be counted upon to monitor the Sadek case closely. She deserves strong public support in all her efforts to assure adequate administrative and financial support for all the dedicated psychiatrists who care for many of the sickest and neediest of our fellow Canadians.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

No amount of foreign aid can offset corruption

The London Free Press
By Rory Leishman

Over the past 30 years, Angola has developed into one of the world’s major oil producers, yet it still ranks among the world’s most impoverished countries. What has gone wrong?
Paul Collier has addressed this issue in Plundered Planet: Why We Must – And How We Can – Manage Nature for Global Prosperity. As Professor of Economics and Director of the Centre for the Study of African Economies at Oxford University, he is widely regarded as one of the leading authorities on the intractable economic problems besetting the world’s least developed countries.
In Angola, most oil production is managed by four major players – ExxonMobil, Shell, BP and Total. Some critics might suppose that these conglomerates have somehow contrived to siphon off most of the country’s oil-export revenues, while leaving little for the government and the people of Angola, but that is simply not the case.
Foreign multinationals could easily plunder the natural resources of less developed countries during the colonial era. Today, these same companies and their successors are usually confronted by independent governments with ready access to an array of international banks and law firms that are eager to help auction off natural resources on the most favourable terms.
In this respect, Angola is typical. In the 1970s, the Angolan government established a national oil-company monopoly, Sonangol, with a mandate to manage the country’s oil resources and acquire a 51 per cent interest in the subsidiaries of every foreign oil company operating in Angola. Since then, Sonangol has garnered huge revenues. Collier notes that in 2008, Angola took in more than twice as much in oil revenues than all the foreign aid dispersed to the world’s least developed countries.
Nonetheless, the United Nations Human Development Report for 2009 lists Angola at 143rd in the world, just three levels higher than Bangladesh. Correspondingly, the Institute for Democracy in Africa reports that while Angola has a GDP per capita of about $4,400(US), “some 70 per cent of the population lives on less than a dollar a day.”
Clearly, some people in Angola are getting hugely rich from oil revenues while the majority of the population subsists in dire poverty. And the main reason for this tragedy is also evident: crooked government.
Most of the billions of dollars paid to Sonangol by ExxonMobil, BP and other foreign companies for the right to produce and export oil from Angola has ended up in the bank accounts of the country’s dictatorial President Jose Eduardo dos Santos and his military and government cronies.
The oppressed people of Angola have no choice but to put up with this transparent plundering of the nation’s oil wealth by the country’s own corrupt politicians and bureaucrats? Dos Santos will not brook any effective opposition. He assures that elections are fixed, the media are censored and public protests are severely curtailed.
A few years ago, some intrepid members of Angola’s generally tame Parliament used to denounce government corruption. But even most of this parliamentary opposition to the regime fell silent after dos Santos started paying members $10(US) for every favourable vote,.
Angola is not uniquely bad. Most other least developed countries are also are ridden with corruption. To combat this evil, former British prime minister Tony Blair began the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, an international organization that promotes the voluntary disclosure of the payment, receipt and management of revenues from the oil, gas and mining industries.
While most of the major multinationals in the West have agreed to go along with this initiative, Chinese companies have not. And neither has the government of Angola. In 2004, China’s Eximbank extended a $2 billion loan to Angola for the ostensible purpose of rebuilding the country’s infrastructure, but so far, most of this money has disappeared without a trace.
The sad conclusion is inescapable: Judging from experience in Angola and elsewhere, no amount of foreign aid or natural-resource revenues can eradicate poverty among the hundreds of millions of people trapped in countries, where corrupt rulers enrich themselves at the expense of their deeply impoverished fellow citizens.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Progress in reducing poverty in Canada

The London Free Press
By Rory Leishman

The Conference Board of Canada ranks Canada’s record on poverty as “among the worst of developed countries – and slipping.” That’s appalling, if true. But is it true?
Citing the low-income measure (LIM) of poverty used by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Conference Board observes: “With more than 12 per cent of the working-age population living in poverty, Canada is in 15th place out of 17 countries, ahead of only Japan and the United States.”
Perhaps so, but these figures are misleading, inasmuch as they apply only to Canadians of working age. The OECD reports that for all age groups, Canada actually has a lower rate of overall poverty than Greece, Portugal, Spain, Poland, Korea, Ireland, Japan and the United States.
Besides, LIM is only a relative measure of poverty based on the supposition that a person is poor if he or she is living in a household with an income that is less than half of the average income for all households of similar size in the country. By the LIM measure of relative poverty, almost all impoverished people in Canada would rank among the wealthiest in most low-income countries.
Note also that by the LIM standard, many, if not most, medical students in Canada are impoverished, because they are living in households with below average incomes. Is it reasonable for the Conference Board to include these medical students and others like them with temporarily low incomes in an indictment of Canada’s poverty record?
Given the limitations of relative measures of poverty like the LIM or Low-Income Cutoffs (LICO) devised by Statistics Canada, Chris Sarlo, an economist at Nipissing University, has developed a poverty standard based on the number of people living in households with insufficient income to cover all basic needs including a nutritious diet, satisfactory housing, clothing, health care, public transportation, household insurance and telephone service.
Sarlo reports that by this basic-needs measure, 4.9 per cent of Canadians were living in poverty in the mid-2000s, down from 6.8 per cent 10 years earlier. Also, during this same period, Canada’s child poverty rate declined to 5.8 per cent, down from 9.1 per cent.
Clearly, Canada does not have an exceptionally bad and ever worsening poverty problem as contended by the Conference Board of Canada. Yet it is also evident that there are millions of impoverished people in Canada who struggle with not enough income to cover all basic needs.
What can be done to help these genuinely impoverished Canadians?
John Richards has addressed this issue in a report published last month by C. D. Howe Institute, “Reducing Lone-Parent Poverty: A Canadian Success Story.” He points out that provincial work incentives for employable welfare recipients initiated by the conservative governments of Alberta and Ontario in the 1990s have proven enormously successful in persuading and empowering millions of impoverished Canadians to move from chronic welfare dependency to productive employment.
As a result, even by Statistics Canada’s LICO measure of relative poverty, the proportion of impoverished Canadians living in lone-parent families was reduced to 20 per cent in 2007, down from 50 per cent in 1996.
Nonetheless, the poverty rate remains four time greater for lone-parent families than for two-parent families with children. This is one among many good reasons for the federal and provincial governments to encourage Canadian couples to get married and to stay married.
In the 1990s, the overwhelming majority of welfare dependants in Canada were employable adults. In Ontario and some other provinces, most are now classified as unemployable “persons with disabilities.”
Richard explains: “A high-profile category is the urban homeless, most of whom combine mental illness with abuse of drugs or alcohol.” Many of these poor are victims of the cruel policy adopted by the provinces in the 1970s of deinstitutionalizing psychiatric patients without providing them with adequate support in the community.
Alleviating the misery of these neediest of impoverished Canadians will not be easy or inexpensive, but should get top priority in Canada’s ongoing struggle against the evils of real poverty.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Dutch show the way in immigration reform

The London Free Press
By Rory Leishman

In an epochal parliamentary election last week in The Netherlands, Geert Wilders led his recently formed, anti-Islamist Freedom Party (PVV) to a significant breakthrough that could have reverberations throughout Western Europe.
Wilders’ party came in third with 15.5 per cent of the national vote. That was 1.8 percentage points more than the centrist Christian Democratic Party (CDA) headed by former prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende. The conservative People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) finished first with 20.4 per cent of the popular vote.
Wilders is a demagogue who plays upon widespread fears of Islamist extremism and elevated crime rates among Muslim youths in The Netherlands. Among his more bizarre policy proposals is an outright ban on the Koran and an annual excise tax on head scarves of 1,000 euros.
These are plainly frivolous suggestions intended to stir up public controversy. Given the proportional system of representation used in The Netherlands, Wilders stood no chance of winning a majority government. He also knows that there is no likelihood of any other parliamentary party supporting such radical, not to say absurd, policies.
However, there can be no doubt that there is considerable public support among the Dutch for Wilders’ proposals to close radical mosques, ban preaching in any language other than Dutch and impose a five year moratorium on immigration by non-Western foreigners as well as on the founding of new mosques and Islamic schools.
Many commentators outside The Netherlands have dismissed Wilders as a right-wing extremist akin to the neo-fascists in Austria, Italy and elsewhere. That is incorrect. There is better reason to believe that he is a sincere democrat, an exponent of gay rights and a stalwart champion of Israel who genuinely deplores racism and admires former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher.
On most social issues, Wilders has run well to the left of the CDA and VVD. For example, while both parties proposed to cut pension costs by increasing the retirement age to 67 from 65, he resolutely opposed the idea.
Nonetheless, on the day after last week’s election, Wilders announced that he had dropped his objections to increasing the retirement age. In a transparent bid to join a coalition government led by the VVD, he said: “We want to work together and make compromises.”
Meanwhile, Wilders is already having a considerable impact on public policy in The Netherlands, by persuading other parties to amend their immigration policies. During the election campaign, Mark Rutte, the leader of the VVD and most likely next prime minister, promised: “Everyone who comes to our country to contribute is welcome. But we need to put a stop to the influx of disadvantaged migrants who come here only to end up dependent on social security.”
To this end, the election platform of the VVD included a draconian pledge to bar immigrants from receiving social assistance during their first 10 years in The Netherlands. Any such policy would contravene the equality rights of immigrants as decreed by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, but that is of no account to Rutte: He says The Netherlands should circumvent the court, if need be, by opting out of “antiquated European conventions" that inhibit restrictions on unproductive immigrants.
Canada faces a similar dilemma. Thanks to the calamitous ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada in the 1985 Singh case, all foreigners who arrive in Canada, including phoney asylum seekers with false documents, are now entitled to the same health and welfare benefits as Canadian citizens.
Herbert Grubel, emeritus professor of economics at Simon Fraser University, estimates the annual net cost to Canadian taxpayers of government benefits for immigrants amounted in 2002 to a monumental $18.3 billion.
That’s absurd. Following Rutte’s example, Canadian parliamentarians should invoke the notwithstanding clause of the Constitution to enact laws that both bar welfare benefits to immigrants for at least a few years and curtail appellant rights against deportation orders so that foreigners who break the law or pose a serious security threat can be expedited out of the country.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Thatcher was right on the euro

The London Free Press
By Rory Leishman

As a strategic political leader, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was often right – never more so than in her prediction 20 years ago that adoption of the euro would lead to a political and economic disaster.
Thatcher, of course, was not alone in foreseeing this calamity. Paul Krugman, the Nobel-prize winning economist, took the same view. In a recent column for The New York Times, he wrote: “I remember quipping, back when the Maastricht Treaty setting Europe on the path to the euro was signed, that they chose the wrong Dutch city for the ceremony. It should have taken place in Arnhem, the site of World War II’s infamous ‘bridge too far,’ where an overly ambitious Allied battle plan ended in disaster.”
Ideologically, Thatcher and Krugman are poles apart: She is a consistent conservative, while he is a doctrinaire liberal. But on the euro, they independently arrived at the same conclusion: The euro could not be sustained without the creation of a strong, central European government that can impose fiscal discipline upon the member states.
At the summit of European leaders in 1990 that approved the euro, Thatcher was the lone dissident. She insisted that Britain would retain her sovereignty and the pound sterling. Upon returning to Britain, she declared to the House of Commons: “What is being proposed now --economic and monetary union -- is the back door to a federal Europe, which we totally and utterly reject.”
Thatcher paid a stiff price for this firm stance on principle. Geoffrey Howe, her deputy prime minister and a Europhile supporter of the euro, promptly quit the cabinet and helped provoke a backbench revolt among Conservative MPs that forced Thatcher to resign as prime minister.
Today, the euro is in a state of crisis brought on by years of profligate deficit spending by the Greek, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish governments. On April 27, Greek government bonds were finally reduced to junk status with the result that the socialist government of Greece could no longer borrow enough money to cover essential operational expenditures and interest payments on the national debt.
Speaking to the Commons in 1990, Thatcher foresaw that eventually, “there would have to be enormous transfers of money from one country to another” to sustain the euro. Again, she was right. To stave off default by Greece and to reassure bankers about the financial stability of Italy, Portugal and Spain, the European Union (EU) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have come up with a $900-billion plan to defend the Euro at the expense mainly of taxpayers in France, Germany and the United States.
Furthermore, as Thatcher and Krugman also predicted, the German and French governments are now calling for much tougher centralized controls to prevent any more members of the euro-zone from running up unsustainable budget deficits. Meanwhile, the Greek government is struggling with savage spending cuts imposed by the EU and IMF as a condition for bail-out assistance.
In February, Greece already had an unemployment rate of 12.1 per cent. That proportion is bound to go much higher as the government’s spending cutbacks take effect.
This, too, is as Thatcher predicted: “If we have a single currency, the differences come out substantially in unemployment or vast movements of people from one country to another,” she said. “Many people who talk about a single currency have never considered its full implications.”
Quite so. Now Krugman predicts that for Greece, not even a $900-billion bail-out will suffice. To revive economic growth and curb unemployment, the Greek government will soon be compelled to abandon the euro and re-establish its own hugely devalued national currency.
Will Italy, Portugal and Spain be next? That remains to be seen.
Meanwhile, given the international economic and financial turmoil brought on by the euro crisis, it’s evident that every major industrialized and trading country in the world is paying a huge price for the failure of EU leaders to heed the timely warnings by Thatcher, Krugman and others about the disastrous consequences of the euro.