Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Light that no darkness can overcome

The London Free Press
By Rory Leishman

For Christians who uphold the authority of the Bible and the traditional moral teachings of the Holy Catholic Church, this year in Canadian politics has been, to quote Her Majesty the Queen, a veritable “annus horribilis.”

The nadir came on December 7, when the House of Commons voted by the decisive margin of 172 to 123 to refuse even to reconsider last year’s enactment of same-sex marriage into law. Just six years ago, this same House had affirmed on a vote of 216 to 55 that “marriage is and should remain the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others, and that Parliament will take all necessary steps within the jurisdiction of the Parliament of Canada to preserve this definition of marriage in Canada.”

What accounts for this complete flip-flop? The problem can be traced to a package of so-called progressive amendments to the Criminal Code that was initiated by former prime minister Pierre Trudeau and adopted by Parliament in 1969.

At the time, most Canadians were led to believe that Trudeau’s divorce reform would affect only a tiny minority of spouses trapped in a brutal and loveless marriage. His proposal to legalize the sale of contraceptives was touted as an effective means for married couples to plan and space their children. And while many Canadians had qualms about Trudeau’s plan to overturn the absolute ban on abortion in the Criminal Code, they trusted the assurances of him and his justice minister John Turner – both Catholics – that the new law on abortion was so hedged about with restrictions that it would empower a physician only under the rarest of circumstances to kill a baby in the womb at the request of the child’s distraught mother.

What, though, have been the actual, albeit unintended, results of these reforms? Immense suffering for men, women and children brought on by soaring rates of sexual promiscuity, abortion, family breakdown and divorce.

In Canada, as in Europe, marriage rates are collapsing. Even in some parts of rural Quebec – formerly a bastion of Christian faith and family solidarity – the proportion of out-of-wedlock births now exceeds 80 per cent.

Meanwhile, the overall birth rate in Canada has fallen far below the population-replacement level. Worst of all, an epidemic of abortion has killed more than two million Canadian babies over the past 30 years

And now Parliament has embarked on a reckless experiment with same-sex marriage. Under this succession of setbacks, what should faithful Christians do – give up on politics?

Absolutely not. Christians have a duty to bear witness to the love and truth of Christ at all times and in all aspects of their lives, public and private.

In the political sphere, Christians should never abandon the attempt to persuade Parliament to restore the traditional legal definition of marriage. And above all, they should never renounce the struggle to revive protection in law for the sanctity of all human life.

In the personal sphere, Christians should always focus less on the faults of others than on their own urgent need to repent for grievous failures to achieve the divine perfection. But under no circumstances in their public or private lives should Christians give way to despair.

In a lecture delivered 30 years ago, the late Malcolm Muggeridge clearly foresaw the impending collapse of our Judeo-Christian civilization. Yet he was not at all despondent. In eloquent words that bear repeating in this sombre Advent season of 2006, he counselled: “For it is precisely when every earthly hope has been explored and found wanting, when every possibility of help from earthly sources has been sought and is not forthcoming, when every recourse this world offers, moral as well as material, has been explored to no effect, when in the shivering cold the last faggot has been thrown on the fire and in the gathering darkness every glimmer of light has finally flickered out – it is then that Christ’s hand reaches out, sure and firm, that Christ’s words bring their inexpressible comfort, that his light shines brightest, abolishing the darkness for ever. So, finding in everything only deception and nothingness, the soul is constrained to have recourse to God himself and to rest content with him.”

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Haskett far and away the best choice

The London Free Press
By Rory Leishman

Among the candidates contesting Monday’s byelection in London North Centre, one stands out as far and away the best choice -- former London mayor Dianne Haskett.

Consider some of Haskett’s outstanding qualities. First, she is a person of unimpeachable integrity. During her many years of service as one of London’s leading lawyers and politicians, she has never been tainted with deceit. As a member of Parliament for the Conservative Party of Canada, she can be counted upon to help the Harper government clean up the sorry record of corruption and incompetence bequeathed by the previous Liberal government.

Second, Haskett has extraordinary leadership ability. While serving as mayor of London from 1994 to 2000, she demonstrated a unique capacity for bringing people of diverse backgrounds together in support of common goals. Despite strong divisions within city council on some key issues during her first term as Mayor, she proved her talents as a unifier by winning re-election over a seasoned opponent with a landslide majority of more than two to one.

Third, Haskett has compassion for the needy. Through her years of active support for Mission services of London and in countless other ways, she has demonstrated her dedication to safeguarding and promoting the well being of all the people, most especially the poor, the sick, the lonely and the most vulnerable of our fellow human beings.

Fourth, Haskett is a committed democrat. She supports the determination of the Harper government to appoint principled judges like Mr. Justice Marshall Rothstein of the Supreme Court of Canada who has pledged to uphold the law as he finds it rather than legislate from the bench.

Fifth, Haskett favours lower taxes for ordinary Canadians. In particular, she supports the decisions of the Harper government to reduce the GST to six per cent, down from seven per cent, and to extend more than $1 billion in additional annual tax relief to seniors, by increasing the age credit and allowing income-splitting for pensioners.

Correspondingly, Haskett backs the elimination of corporate-tax loopholes such as the tax break for income trusts that give some firms an unfair competitive advantage at the expense of individual taxpayers and consumers.

Sixth, Haskett is the only one among the four leading candidates in the London North Centre byelection who supports the traditional definition of marriage. She also understands that children thrive best under the care and guidance of their own mother and father. As an MP, she will enthusiastically support the expansion and improvement of initiatives like the Harper government’s Universal Child Care Benefit that currently provides $1,200 per year in direct support to parents for every child under six.

Seventh, Haskett is determined to fight crime. Instead of wasting more taxpayers’ money on the useless, $1-billion gun registry introduced by the Liberals, she supports the effective crime-fighting measures introduced by the Harper Conservatives, including mandatory minimum sentences for gun crimes, tougher sentences for violent repeat offenders, and $1.4 billion to enhance protection against terrorism.

In sum, Haskett is an exceptionally well qualified policy maker. She holds earned degrees from the University of Waterloo, the University of Western Ontario, the London School of Economics and the George Washington Law School.

While recently working and studying in Washington, Haskett developed a number of close friendships and contacts with key political leaders having influence within the highest reaches of the White House and the Congress. As a member of the Harper government, Haskett would be well placed to promote Canada’s interests with the United States, our closest ally and most important trading partner.

For voters in Monday’s byelection, there is another, practical consideration. Instead of sending someone to Ottawa who could only harp and criticize from the back benches of Parliament, they should take advantage of the rare opportunity to elect Haskett, a politician of national stature who commands the respect of the federal cabinet and will work zealously on behalf of all the people of London.

Since Confederation, London has produced several outstanding cabinet ministers. None has gone into Parliament better qualified than Haskett. To get her started on what promises to be a brilliant career in national politics, the voters of London North Centre should give her a thumping victory in Monday’s byelection.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Clash of Civilizations in Iraq

The London Free Press
By Rory Leishman

In the aftermath of the Second World War, the United States single-handedly transformed Japan into a thriving and stable democracy. Why, then, have Britain and the United States failed in their no-less-noble attempt to bring peace, prosperity and democratic stability to Iraq?

Fouad Ajami has addressed this issue in his latest book, The Foreigner’s Gift: The Americans, the Arabs, and the Iraqis in Iraq. Ajami is the distinguished Majid Khadduri Professor of Middle East Studies at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.

To begin with, Ajami points out that Japan was militarily crushed at the end of the Second World War. With Hiroshima and Nagasaki virtually obliterated and the rest of the country utterly prostrate after years of devastating air bombardments, the defeated Japanese had no disposition to resist the United States army of occupation.

In contrast, most of Iraq emerged unscathed from the lightening invasion by the United States and British forces that toppled the brutal regime of president Saddam Hussein. Granted, most Iraqis were duly shocked and awed by the devastating power of the surgical air strikes unleashed by the United States air force. But the backers of Hussein’s tyrannical government suffered few casualties. Within weeks, they were able to mount a series of terrorist counter strikes that have escalated into the massacre of close to 3,000 Iraqi men, women and children each month.

Ajami notes another crucial difference: While Japan is a relatively unified country, Iraq is riven by centuries-old rivalries among a host of factions led by Sunni and Shiite Arabs in the south and Kurds in the mountains of the north.

Saddam belongs to a tribe of Sunni Arabs. He relied upon his supporters in the Sunni community to terrorize, torture and subjugate the Shiite majority and the Kurds. In the process, his murderous thugs killed literally hundreds of thousands of their fellow Iraqi citizens.

Yet Ajami reports that there is “no wholesale embarrassment among the Sunni Arabs about the crimes and terrors of the old regime.” Many Sunnis inside and outside of Iraq hold that Saddam’s cruelty was necessary to avoid the kind of wholesale anarchy that now grips large parts of Iraq.

Ahmed Chalabi, once a favorite of the Pentagon, concurs. He bitterly contends that if President George W. Bush had put him in charge of the government of Iraq following the overthrow of Saddam, he could, and would, have taken the tough measures necessary to crush all Sunni resistance.

As it is, Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair firmly rejected this option. Constrained by the principles of Western civilization, they refused to condone criminal means to achieve the desirable end of democracy in Iraq.

A third major difference between Japan and Iraq is that while the people of Japan were completely isolated and friendless after the Second World War, the Islamist Sunni terrorists in Iraq have been able to count upon the sympathy and support of Muslims throughout the world.

Consider the views of leading Muslim religious scholars such as Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi of Qatar. Ajami describes him as “the intellectual godfather of the Al-Jazeera satellite channel.” Qaradawi has ruled that it is “a duty incumbent on every Muslim” to oppose the “crusading” war by the United States-led coalition to bring democracy to Iraq.

Even Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi, whom Ajami characterizes as “the quintessential establishment jurist Sheik al-Azhar of Egypt,” has opposed the war. With United States and British forces poised to topple the Saddam regime, Tantawi issued a standard fatwa declaring: “It is obligatory to stand with Iraq against any aggression, for resisting aggression against any Muslim country is incumbent on all Muslims.”

Ajami contends: “Qaradawi could do no less: The Muslim street, as far away as the communities in Western Europe and North America, looked to him, and his rulings would have to be consistent with the worldview of his followers.”

With admiration for Saddam and opposition to the liberation of Iraq so pervasive in the Muslim world outside Iraq, is it any wonder that there is not a single, Muslim-majority country that has established a stable and prosperous democracy? What more graphic evidence can there be of the clash of civilizations between Islam and the West?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Eminently sound spending cutbacks

The London Free Press
By Rory Leishman

In announcing plans last week to cut $1 billion in wasteful government spending, the Harper government disclosed that it will eliminate the Law Commission of Canada and the federal Court Challenges Program, while cutting spending for Status of Women Canada. These reforms are all to the good, except that the government should not just cut, but also eliminate, all funding for Status of Women Canada.

All three of these bodies are holdovers from the big-spending era of the 1970s when the Trudeau Liberals undermined the social order of Canada and drove the country to the brink of bankruptcy. In the case of the Court Challenges Program, the Mulroney Conservative government at least had the good sense to abolish this agency in 1992, only to have the Chretien Liberals revive the pernicious organization after they regained power a few months later.

Let us hope that the Court Challenges Program is now gone for good. Over the past 10 years, it has wasted literally millions of taxpayers’ dollars in funding court challenges to the established laws and the Constitution of Canada, by an array of radical-feminist and gay-activist groups.

To make matters worse, judicial activists on the Supreme Court of Canada have been all-too-willing to distort the law through interpretation to conform with the political agendas of these left-wing groups. The renewed determination of the Harper Conservatives to eradicate the Court Challenges Program should serve as a warning to these judges that they should stick to upholding the law rather than changing it to suit their ideological preferences.

The Law Commission of Canada is the reincarnation by the Chretien Liberals in 1997 of the original Law Reform Commission of Canada established by the Trudeau Liberals in 1971. Over the past 35 years, these two commissions have lavished millions of dollars on left-wing law professors for the production of one radical report after another.

For example, in Beyond Conjugality, a report published in 2001, the Law Commission of Canada recommended that Parliament and the provincial legislatures “should move toward removing from their laws the restrictions on marriages between persons of the same sex.” Elected representatives of the Canadian people refused to follow this recommendation, but no matter: In ruling on June 10, 2003, the Ontario Court of Appeal proceeded on its own to impose same-sex marriage on the people of Ontario.

For the radicals on the Law Commission of Canada, though, that decision was not good enough. In Beyond Conjugality, they suggested that the establishment of “a civil registration scheme open to all persons in committed relationships … could eliminate the need for marriage.”

All Canadians should take note: The ultimate objective of the radical leftists in the legal academy is not just to redefine marriage to include same-sex couples, but to abolish the legal concept of marriage altogether. Instead, the Harper government has made the right and proper decision to abolish the Law Commission of Canada.

Let us hope that Status of Women Canada will be the next to go. As it is, the Harper Conservatives have announced plans to slash administrative funding for this left-wing, feminist agency by only $5 million over two years.

But that was enough to incense Belinda Stronach, the Conservative turncoat who now represents the Liberals. Speaking in the Commons last week, she asked if the prime minister is cutting funding for feminists organizations through Status of Women Canada, “because these groups are promoting equality for women, rather than promoting his anti-choice, anti-gay and anti-equality agenda?”

In response, Bev Oda, the Conservative minister responsible for Status of Women, retorted: “The facts are that we are not cutting support for programming to women. We are finding efficiencies and streamlining the delivery to those women who really need the help.”

This is a sound approach: Oda should identify whatever worthwhile programs Status of Women might offer and transfer them to other government agencies. Consider, for example, violence against aboriginal women: Status of Women Canada should relinquish all of its responsibility for combating this menace to the Department of Indian Affairs.

Ultimately, Oda should aim to clear the way for the orderly and complete abolition of Status of Women Canada. And the sooner she achieves this end, the better.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Killing humans for medical research

The Interim
By Rory Leishman

At a White House ceremony on July 19, President George Bush explained his decision to veto a bill to fund embryonic stem cell research. He pointed out: “Embryonic stem cells come from human embryos that are destroyed for their cells. Each of these human embryos is a unique human life with inherent dignity and matchless value."

To underline this point, Bush introduced several families with adoptive children whom he had invited to the White House. All of these children were born from so-called “surplus” frozen embryos that were no longer wanted by their natural parents for in vitro fertilization (IVF).
Bush contended: "These boys and girls are not spare parts. They remind us of what is lost when embryos are destroyed in the name of research. They remind us that we all begin our lives as a small collection of cells. And they remind us that in our zeal for new treatments and cures, America must never abandon our fundamental morals."

On this issue, German Chancellor Angela Merkel agrees with Bush. Her conservative government, like its social democratic predecessor, prohibits all production of embryonic stem cells, whether publicly or privately funded.

In conformity with this policy, German Research Minister Annette Schavan persuaded the European Union on June 29 to cease all funding for research that destroys human embryos. "We must conserve human life from its conception,” she said. “We want no financial incentives to kill embryos.”

In contrast to the Bush and Merkel administrations, the Conservative government of Canada funds the destruction of human embryos for the purposes of research on reproduction and embryonic stem cells. This policy was initiated by the previous Liberal government of Canada and authorized by Bill C-6, the 2004 Assisted Human Reproduction Act.

While most Liberals, New Democrats and members of the Bloc Quebecois supported the passage of Bill C-6, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and most of his Conservative colleagues were opposed. Speaking for the Conservatives during debate on the legislation, Rob Merrifield denounced the Bill as an attack on the sanctity of human life. He affirmed: “Human life is special; it is not to be disregarded. It is not to be created for the sake of destruction. We should respect life right from conception to natural death.”

As it is, section 5(1)(b) of Bill C-6 stipulates that: “No person shall knowingly create an in vitro embryo for any purpose other than creating a human being or improving or providing instruction in assisted reproduction procedures.” In conformity with this provision of the law, the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR), the federal agency responsible for regulating stem cell research, directed that embryonic stem cell researchers can only use embryos that were created for human reproduction through IVF, but are no longer wanted by the parents for this purpose.

Many researchers chaffed at this ruling, because it is easier to harvest stem cells from freshly created embryos rather than frozen embryos left over in an IVF clinic. As a result, the CIHR has reversed course. In a ruling on June 28, it held that patients who are about to undergo assisted reproduction can be asked to consent to the creation of fresh embryos for both reproduction and stem cell research.

This new regulation is patently illegal. It clearly violates the plain words of Bill C-6. Yet neither Health Minister Tony Clement nor Justice Minister Vic Toews has done anything to get the regulation quashed.

In 2004, Harper, Toews, Merrifield and other Conservatives opposed Bill C-6, because it did not go far enough to uphold the sanctity of human life. Now, they should at least insist that all researchers must respect the express will of Parliament in that legislation that no one shall deliberately create a human life for the purpose of destroying that life in stem cell research.

Ideally, Parliament should improve upon Bill C-6, by following the German example in outlawing all death-dealing embryonic stem cell research. The money used for this malign purpose could be put to much better use in funding in Canada the kind of promising lines of research underway in the United Sates, Australia and Japan that aim to create embryonic-like pluripotent stem cells by ethical means that do not entail the killing of human beings.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Pride and Prejudice in relation to IQ findings

The London Free Press
By Rory Leishman

Prof. Philippe Rushton of the University of Western Ontario psychology department has demonstrated yet again his exceptional capacity for engendering controversy in the pursuit of truth; this time, with a paper on sex and intelligence which suggests that the average IQ for men is 3.6 points higher than the average IQ for women.

As usual, most of Rushton’s critics have committed the ad hominem fallacy: Instead of undertaking the difficult task of refuting his conclusions with reason and evidence, they have resorted to the easier expedient of casting aspersions on his motives, character and competence.

Some have suggested that Rushton is stupid. Others have dismissed him as a misogynist. The most strident detractors seem to have overlooked the fact that he is not the sole, or even the leading, author of the paper in question -- an article in the current issue of the peer-reviewed academic journal Intelligence entitled “Males have greater g: Sex differences in general mental ability from 100,000 17- to 18-year-olds on the Scholastic Assessment Test.”

The lead author was the late Prof. Douglas Jackson, a colleague of Rushton’s in the psychology department at Western who died in August, 2004. In an introductory note to the jointly written article, Rushton relates that after Jackson’s death, he completed the write up presented in the paper based on statistical analyses which Jackson had carried out and initially presented to the International Society for Intelligence Research in 2002.

By any measure, Jackson was a brilliant scholar. He accumulated a long list of scholarly publications and taught at Pennsylvania State University and Stanford University prior to accepting an appointment in 1964 as Senior Professor of Psychology at Western.

Besides, as Jackson and Rushton acknowledge in their paper, it is not just they who suggest that males have marginally higher average IQs than females. In recent years, several other scholars have also published scientific papers that point to essentially the same conclusion.

While it might be supposed that a difference of just 3.6 points in average IQs between men and women is essentially meaningless, that is not the case. For both men and women, the distribution of IQs resembles a bell curve, with most people having close to average IQs and progressively fewer scoring at the high and low extremes. Therefore, even a relatively small difference in average IQs between men and women can denote a large difference in the proportions of men and women who have IQs above the average of 100 for men and women combined.

Specifically, Jackson’s data suggest that there are about 55 men for every 45 women with an IQ above 100. And Rushton estimates that if the standard is set at 115 – the minimum needed to qualify for select departments at Western -- there are about 60 males for every 40 females. And for entry into graduate schools at elite institutions, the ratio of qualifying males to females is much higher again.

Of course, a study of adult IQs based on the test scores of college applicants can only be suggestive. Rushton concedes "only more data can determine the true nature of sex differences in cognitive ability. However, people should not be made to feel afraid to study controversial issues."

Daniel Seligman has no such fear. He is the author of A Question of Intelligence: The IQ Debate in America. Among the many intriguing features of this book is a discussion of recent research suggesting that the average IQ for European Jews is 10 to 15 points above average; findings that go a long way toward explaining how the world’s tiny minority of Jews have won close to 30 per cent of the Nobel prizes for science.

Samuel Johnson, the scholar who single-handedly compiled the first comprehensive English dictionary, was one of the greatest geniuses in recorded history. And he put his talents to good use, by distinguishing himself not just as a lexicographer, but also as an author and critic.

Yet Johnson was profoundly humble. As a Christian, he understood that his high intelligence was a gift of God. Far from taking pride in his extraordinary powers and accomplishments, he was mindful of the truth that from those to whom much has been given, much is expected.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Gross betrayal of the rule of law

The London Free Press
By Rory Leishman

More than six months after Mr. Justice David Marshall of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice ordered aboriginal protestors to end their occupation of a proposed housing project on disputed land in the town of Caledonia, the land still remains under occupation.

Meanwhile, the Ontario Provincial Police have laid 14 charges arising out of this dispute including attempted murder, assaulting a police officer and forceable confinement; and the law-abiding citizens of Caledonia live in continual fear of violence between aboriginal and non-aboriginal demonstrators.

Still, Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant has no intention of upholding the rule of law in the town. Instead, he and colleagues in the Liberal government of Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty are bent on trying to assure the peace by appeasing the aboriginal protestors.

To this end, the McGuinty government bought the disputed land from the developer last June. Given that neither the developer nor the government now has any objection to the occupation of the land by aboriginals, Bryant takes the view that there is no longer any need for him to enforce Marshall’s court order to end the aboriginal occupation.

Marshall disagrees. It was in response to a request by counsel for the Attorney General and the Ontario Provincial Police that he found last March that the aboriginal protestors were in criminal contempt of his court. In an additional ruling on August 8, he pointed out that the failure of the Attorney General and the police to uphold this finding of the court in the face of mob violence constituted a grave attack on the rule of law.

In his reasons for judgment, Marshall observed: “The citizens of Caledonia may well ask why – why should I pay a fine which a judge has ordered when the protestors do not have to obey the court’s order? To that person, this court has no teeth. To that person, this is not a court at all.”

While acknowledging that the Attorney General and the police have wide powers of discretion in deciding when and how to enforce the lawful orders of a court, Marshall emphasized: “They must not use their discretion to defeat the court’s orders.” In the context of the Caledonia dispute, he advised the government, (but did not order, as is commonly reported) that “negotiations should cease until the rule of law returns and the barricades come down.”

The McGuinty government has rejected that advice. It is continuing to negotiate with the aboriginals; the barricades remain up in Caledonia; and there is no prospect of any early revival of the rule of law in the town.

Ontario Progressive Conservative Party leader John Tory is justifiably scandalized. In a commentary published last week in The National Post, he wrote: “It is a fundamental rule of society that the law is the same for everybody. No matter how passionate the belief in a cause, nobody has the right to ignore the law just because they disagree with it or find it inconvenient. It does not matter whether you are in Caledonia, downtown Toronto or anywhere else in Canada.”

Tory takes the view that McGuinty should insist on the removal of the barricades that divide Caledonia and agree to negotiate only with those who “hold respect for the rule of law and for each other.” Tory suggested that in this way, the premier would be “encouraging everyone to uphold and promote respect for our laws and the cherished processes we have in place to deal with them.”

Tory is right, in this instance, but he should be more consistent. If he sincerely believes that the rule of law should apply “in downtown Toronto or anywhere else,” he should summon the Attorney General to bring charges against all the men who routinely violate the criminal code, by parading stark naked through the streets of Toronto during the city’s annual gay pride parade.

Marshall underlined in his August 8 ruling that the rule of law is “the pre-eminent condition of freedom and peace in a democratic society.” It follows that the breakdown of the rule of law in Caledonia, as in so many other instances in Canada, should be a matter of utmost concern, not just to judges like Marshal, but to all Canadians.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The dangers of home-grown Islamofascism

The London Free Press
By Rory Leishman

The arrest last week of 24 British-born Muslims implicated in an alleged terrorist plot to blow up airliners flying from Britain to the United States has underlined once again the perils posed by home-grown Muslim terrorists.

Sohail Raza, national security director of the Muslim Canadian Congress, is alive to the danger. As reported in The Free Press on Saturday, he warns that some of Canada's mosques are breeding grounds for home-grown terrorists. He said: "It's a tiny percentage of Muslims, but the message is being broadcast widely. It's very tragic that a minority of so-called Muslims can hold the whole community hostage."

In contrast, Aly Hindi, an imam who holds a doctorate in engineering from the University of Western Ontario and presides over the Salheddin Islamic Centre in Scarborough, maintains: “Nobody in any mosque in Canada encourages terrorism." However, coming from Hindi, such a declaration is hard to credit, inasmuch as he is a self-professed friend of the notorious Khadr family.

Ahmed Said Khadr, the family patriarch, was killed in a shootout with Pakistani soldiers near the Afghanistan border in 2003. All four of his Canadian-born sons are believed to have undergone terrorist training in Al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan. Currently, one of these sons, Omar Kadar, is in detention in Guantanamo Bay, charged with the murder of a United States soldier in Afghanistan.

Like Raza, Tarek Fatah contends that there are extremists among Muslim leaders in Canada. Indeed, on August 3, Fatah announced that he has resigned as the communications director of the Muslim Canadian Congress, because he fears for his life and the safety of his family.

While Fatah claims to have received many death threats, he was particularly upset by an article published on June 30 in which Mohamed Elmasry, national president of the Canadian Islamic Congress, denounced him as one of four people who are “behind today's wave of anti-Islam vitriol” in Canada. (For the record, the three others listed by Elmasry were Margaret Wente, a columnist for The Globe and Mail; David Harris, former chief of strategic planning for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service; and “Rory Leishman who writes for The London Free Press.”)

Elmasry alleged in his article that Fatah “is well known in Canada for smearing Islam and bashing Muslims.” In response, Fatah contends that this statement is akin to the issuance of a fatwah pronouncing blasphemy -- a crime punishable by death under sharia law.

The Muslim Canadian Congress is clearly a fringe group on the left among Canadian Muslims. It has renounced sharia law and endorsed same-sex marriage, but it hardly qualifies as a voice of Muslim moderation in foreign policy. In a recent press release, the Muslim Canadian Congress denounced Israel for “acting like an unleashed pit bull set loose among the innocent children of Lebanon.”

Elmasry is no less vitriolic. In an article published in the Kitchener-Waterloo Record on July 25, he wrote: “The merciless killing of innocent Lebanese civilians (including women, children, the elderly, and the disabled) and the savage destruction of Lebanon's infrastructure are testimony to Israel’s criminal malevolence.”

With supposedly moderate Muslim leaders resorting to such inflammatory rhetoric is it any wonder that we have a problem with homegrown Muslim terrorists in Canada?

As in Canada, so in Britain, there is profound concern about the degree of alienation and disaffection within the country’s Muslim population. In a major speech on national security last week, British Home Secretary John Reid said mass migration can bring benefits, but warned that it “can also carry insecurity into the heart of our communities.” He added: “We have to get away from the notion that anyone who wants to talk about immigration is somehow a racist.”

Michael Portillo, a Conservative and former British defense minister, concurs. In the Times of London on Sunday, he wrote that Britain had imported terrorism unwittingly “by pursuing liberal policies on immigration (and) extending asylum to those who faced ‘persecution’ without much reflection on why they found themselves in that position.”

Are any members of the Parliament of Canada likewise concerned about the urgent need for immigration and refugee reform? If so, will they please also stand up and speak out on these vital issues of national security?

PS: The aforementioned Elmasry article is available on-line at: http://www.canadianislamiccongress.com/ar/opeds.php?id=2933

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

On the supreme authority of Scripture

The Interim
By Rory Leishman

In a statement on June 27, the Rt. Rev. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, presented a plan for expelling the Anglican Church of Canada and The Episcopal Church of the United States from constituent membership in the worldwide Anglican communion. Specifically, Williams suggested that any Anglican church that unilaterally flouts Anglican doctrine should be reduced to the status of an “associate” member of the Anglican Communion that would “have no direct part in the decision making of the ‘constituent’ Churches.”

While the immediate cause of this impending schism is a dispute over the blessing of same sex unions and the morality of homosexual sexual behaviour, the underlying reasons for the fracture go to the heart of the Christian doctrine on the supreme authority of Scripture.

In an official statement on contraception, the Church of England suggests that the Anglican and Catholic churches have “different ways of approaching questions of Moral Theology. Roman Catholics have tended to look to the 'Magisterium', the official teaching of the Church, typically articulated by the Pope, as the source of authority on moral, as in doctrinal, questions. Anglicans have tended to call on 'Scripture, Tradition and Reason'.”

This statement is incorrect. Unlike liberal bishops of the Anglican Church, the Pope always undertakes in his doctrinal statements to uphold tradition and reason in conformity with the supreme authority of Scripture.

In 2002, a group of distinguished theologians associated with the consortium Evangelicals and Protestants Together issued a joint statement entitled Your Word of Truth, in which they explained that both Catholics and Evangelicals affirm “that Scripture is the divinely inspired and uniquely authoritative written revelation of God; as such it is normative for the teaching and life of the Church. We also affirm that tradition, rightly understood as the proper reflection of biblical teaching, is the faithful transmission of the truth of the gospel from generation to generation through the power of the Holy Spirit.”

In contrast, many Anglican bishops typically pay only lip service to Scripture, tradition and reason. As the statement of the Church of England on contraception acknowledges: “Increasingly these approaches are being supplemented by appeals to 'human experience'.”

It was appeals to human experience that prompted the 1930 Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops to condone contraception. In doing so, the Anglican bishops broke with the hitherto uninterrupted tradition of the Christian church. And within a few decades virtually every Protestant denomination followed this Anglican lead.

To the manifest dismay of many liberal Catholic bishops, priests and laity, the Catholic Church has stood firm. It continues to uphold the viewpoint expressed by the 1908 Lambeth Conference of Anglican Bishops in a resolution declaring that it “records with alarm the growing practice of the artificial restriction of the family and earnestly calls upon all Christian people to discountenance the use of all artificial means of restriction as demoralising to character and hostile to national welfare.”

In the meantime, a similar division has developed within many Christian churches over the traditional ban on abortion. While liberal Anglicans and Protestants now condone abortion under at least some conditions, Evangelicals and Catholics continue to invoke Scripture, tradition and reason as authority for their view that the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” applies no less to babies in the womb than to all other innocent human beings.

Today, these same divisions are compounded by disagreement over homosexuality. While theologically orthodox Christians affirm the clear and unequivocal passages of the Bible against homosexual sexual activity, some liberal clerics attempt to explain away these same Biblical passages, while others contend that the Bible was wrong about homosexuality and that Jesus would recognize in the light of recent human experience with homosexual behaviour that he, too, was wrong to oppose all forms of sexual intercourse outside the bond of marriage between a man and a woman.

In the face of such far-reaching theological disagreement within the Anglican Communion, Archbishop Williams is surely right: A church so divided against itself cannot stand. And given the collapse in membership of all the liberal Anglican and Protestant churches, it’s also evident that no church can long survive that fails to uphold the primacy of Scripture in conjunction with tradition and reason on all questions of faith and morality.

Hezbollah is responsible for the carnage in Lebanon

The London Free Press
By Rory Leishman

That was an appalling tragedy in the town of Qana, southern Lebanon on Sunday, when more than 50 people, many of them women and children, were killed in Israeli airstrikes. Like many European leaders, Javier Solana, the European Union foreign minister, was quick to blame Israel, saying that “nothing can justify” the bombing of Qana.

Is that so? Over the past three weeks, Hezbollah terrorists have fired more than 1,900 rockets into Israel, most of them launched from within towns and villages like Qana, and almost all aimed at civilian populations in Israel. Moreover, these same terrorists began this conflict in Lebanon, by killing two Israeli soldiers and taking two others hostage during a raid into Israel on July 12.

What would Solana have Israel do – simply allow the Hezbollah bombardment of Israeli towns and cities to continue for fear that any attempt to suppress the rocket fire could kill Lebanese civilians? If men, women and children in Spain were being killed and injured by rockets fired from towns in Morocco, it’s hardly likely that Solana would counsel the Spanish armed forces to do nothing to stop the carnage for fear of killing Moroccan civilians.

Why the double standard for Israel? Why are so many people quick to blame the Israeli armed forces for the Qana tragedy instead of the Hezbollah terrorists who started this conflict and are bent on continuing it? On Sunday alone, Hezbollah fired more than 150 rockets into Israel.

In response to the Qana tragedy, Israel has curtailed its airstrikes for 48 hours and agreed to coordinate plans with the United Nations for the safe evacuation during this period of civilians still in the war zone of southern Lebanon. When was the last time that an army displayed such concern for non-combatants? Did the Allied Powers suspend their bombardments along the Rhine in 1945 to allow for the safe evacuation of German civilians from that battle area?

In another tragedy earlier last week, the Israeli air force bombed a UN observation post in Lebanon, killing four unarmed soldiers assigned to the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization, including Maj. Paeta Hess-von Kruedener, a brave officer of the Canadian armed forces.

Like Solana, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan was quick to blame Israel, saying he was “shocked and deeply distressed by the apparently deliberate targeting by Israeli Defense Forces of a UN Observer post in southern Lebanon." This allegation is absurd and outrageous. There is not a shred of evidence to suggest that the Israeli air force deliberately targets either innocent civilians or unarmed observers in a UN observation post.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has sensibly refrained from blaming Israel for the death of Hess-Von Kruedener. In commenting on this tragic incident, he said: "We want to find out why this United Nations post was attacked and also why it remained manned during what is now, more or less, a war and during obvious danger to these individuals."

Interim Liberal leader Bill Graham has denounced Harper’s reasonable remark as “completely unacceptable.” Yet even Annan has belatedly admitted that there is no point to posting unarmed truce observers in the middle of a war zone. On Friday, the UN withdrew all 50 of its truce observers from the Israeli-Lebanese border.

Now, Harper is criticized for refusing to join with French President Jacques Chirac and other European leaders in calling for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire in Lebanon. Together with Canada’s closest allies – the United States and Britain – Harper points out that there can be no enduring ceasefire until Hezbollah stops firing rockets at Israel and returns the two Israeli hostages.

In a meeting at the White House on Friday, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and United States President George Bush also summoned Hezbollah to admit an UN intervention force into southern Lebanon with a mandate to enforce Security Council Resolution 1559 adopted in 2004, which calls for “the disbanding and disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias” and “the extension of the control of the Government of Lebanon over all Lebanese territory.”

Should the Hezbollah terrorists refuse to accept these fair and reasonable conditions, the war and all its carnage will continue. And sensible people will know whom to blame.

A measure of Liberal decadence

Catholic Insight
By Rory Leishman

It’s a measure of the decadence of the Liberal Party of Canada that one of the foremost candidates to succeed Paul Martin as leader is a morally benighted Harvard professor and darling of the left, Michael Ignatieff.

In the 2000 Massey Lectures broadcast by the CBC and later published as The Rights Revolution, Ignatieff outlined the evolving understanding of human rights over the past 40 years without mentioning the most basic right of all – the right to life. Moreover, the omission seems to have been deliberate. Like almost all contemporary liberals, Ignatieff is an unabashed exponent of a woman’s so called right to choose to have her baby killed by abortion.

In The Rights Revolution, Ignatieff states: “Abortion rights have increased the freedom of women, while at the same time raising bitter and contentious debate about our right to terminate the life of the unborn.” As authority for this last statement, he refers in a footnote to English-speaking Justice, a treatise written in 1973 by the late Canadian philosopher and Anglican theologian George Grant. In this prophetic work, Grant warned: “If tyranny is to come in North America, it will come cozily and on cat's feet. It will come with the denial of the rights of the unborn and of the aged, the denial of the rights of the mentally retarded, the insane, and the economically less-privileged. In fact, it will come with the denial of rights to all those who cannot defend themselves.”

Except to cite Grant’s book in a footnote, Ignatieff has nothing to say about the sanctity of human life in The Rights Revolution. He does not discuss, let alone refute, Grant’s compelling arguments for the right to life of all human beings. On the basis of no reason or argument whatever, Ignatieff arbitrarily upholds the court-imposed regime of unrestricted access to abortion in Canada that abets the wholesale slaughter of babies in the womb.

Ignatieff is just as irresponsible in dealing with so-called “gay rights.” In The Rights Revolution, he regrets that in 2000, homosexuals still did not have the same rights as heterosexuals to marry and adopt children. As for the rights and well-being of children, he states: “Same-sex parents have taught us that there is no necessary relationship between heterosexuality and good parenting.”

In support of this assertion, Ignatieff also cites no reason or evidence whatever. He seems to be so infatuated with the gay rights ideology that he is unwilling even to consider all the compelling evidence from time immemorial that children thrive best in a united home under the care and guidance of their own natural mother and father.

Ignatieff argues that women need “abortion rights” and homosexuals need “marriage rights” to enjoy agency. He explains: “Agency is the key idea in rights. The word ‘agency’ just means the capacity of individuals to set themselves goals and accomplish them as they see fit.”

Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin and the majority of her colleagues on the Supreme Court of Canada have embraced this same perversion of human rights. In December’s Labaye ruling, for example, they decreed that despite the ban on indecency in the Criminal Code, perverts have a right to engage in group sex in a public place as they see fit.

How can Ignatieff and these judges be so wrong about human rights and morality? The answer lies in the rejection of religious faith. Like most liberal intellectuals, Ignatieff describes himself as a “secular liberal.” Instead of renewing his mind so that he might know what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God, he conforms to the world.

In conformity with the ideology of secular liberals, Canada has descended into a new dark age. First, we had legalized contraception and easy divorce. Then, we had legalized abortion on demand and same-sex marriage.

And now, as Grant foresaw, we have tyranny in Canada. Our so-called human rights tribunals are so out of control that even a bishop of the Catholic Church risks persecution for stating the truth about marriage and the natural family.

Under these circumstances, any Christian who supports the leadership of a secular liberal like Ignatieff is guilty of an inexcusable betrayal of the faith and the church.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

An exemplary police officer

The London Free Press
By Rory Leishman

As a rule, I do not recount my personal experiences in a column, but I am making an exception for today to relate an incident that I think deserves public attention.On Saturday afternoon, I headed off on my bicycle to our neighbourhood grocery store near the corner of Oxford and Richmond. As I was passing through the store’s parking lot, someone lurking in the shadows near a telephone booth suddenly let out a loud yowl.

Sooner or later, anyone who regularly commutes on a bicycle is bound to be shouted at in this way, usually by some facetious punk in the passenger seat of an overtaking car. It’s best just to ignore such demented behaviour. On this occasion, I rode on to the store’s bicycle stand, locked my bike and went into the store to buy some groceries.

As I came out of the store a few minutes later, I saw a police car drive into the parking lot. A young female officer emerged, put on some gloves and walked slowly toward an obviously deranged young man, who seemed to be either high on drugs or suffering from a severe mental illness.The man was dishevelled, shirtless, appeared to be in robust physical condition and was wearing pants that sagged halfway down his buttocks. As the officer approached, he shouted something incomprehensible at her and began to walk away toward an alley that runs behind the store.This situation did not look at all reassuring for the officer so I quickly unlocked my bicycle and headed off after the pair. By the time I caught up to them, the man was walking north on Richmond street with the officer calmly following about five metres behind.I saw the officer whisper into her radio and assumed she was giving directions to a backup. She then spoke out loud to the man. I, of course, was not taking notes at the time, but the gist of the conversation went something like this:Officer: “Look, I just want to talk to you.” The man glared over his shoulder and hurled abuse back at the officer. She did not respond in kind; she did not threaten to place him under arrest. She simply followed him in silence as they continued up the street.A few moments later, the officer rejoined: “You need help. I can get you to a shelter. I can make sure you are cared for.” Suddenly, the man stopped, whirled around and with a berserk expression, screamed at the officer: “I do not need your help. Go away.”The officer was unmoved. She did not flinch. She stood her ground and watched in silence as the man turned about again and resumed walking away.At this point, I wanted to let the officer know that she was not coping entirely alone with this potentially violent psychotic, but at the same time, I did not wish to interfere with her admirable attempts to calm him down. So I picked up speed on the street until I was parallel to the officer on the sidewalk, and as soon as I was sure that she had seen me, I slowed down without saying a word and resumed following a few metres behind her.
Within half a minute, a paddy wagon with lights flashing, but no siren, drove slowly and silently past me, proceeded about 20 metres up the street and stopped. A burly young officer got out and walked back toward the man, who had turned around and was again berating the first officer.Seeing that the police now had the situation well in hand, I started to accelerate away from the scene. As I was leaving, I heard the first officer say: “Thank you, sir.” I waved and headed home, thinking, “Thank God for that fine officer; and for all the exemplary officers like her.”

All too often, the lot of the police is truly not a happy one. They come in for a lot of gratuitous abuse. They daily risk their lives on our behalf. But at least they can be sure that law-abiding citizens are profoundly grateful for all the good work that they do to serve and protect us.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Past time to get serious about national security

The London Free Press
By Rory Leishman

In a statement at Toronto's Pearson International Airport on Friday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper confirmed that his government will spend more than $250-million over the next two years to improve passenger and baggage screening at airports, rail terminals, urban transit facilities and ports. "This is how the fight against terrorism will be won,” he said. “Modernizing equipment and procedures, plugging the holes, filling the gaps and thinking one step ahead of the agents of hate and terror."

Harper is right. When, though, is his government going to do something to plug one of the biggest and most dangerous gaps; namely, the tens of thousands of immigrants and refugee applicants from terrorist-exporting countries who enter Canada each year without proper screening?

Jack Hooper, deputy director of operations for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, underlined the seriousness of this problem in testimony before the Senate Committee on Intelligence and National Defence on May 29. First, he pointed out that about 20,000 immigrants have entered Canada from the terrorist-beset Afghanistan-Pakistan region alone since 2001. He then added: “We’re in a position to vet one-tenth of those. That may be inadequate.”

David B. Harris, former chief of strategic planning for CSIS, agrees. In testimony to a subcommittee on immigration of the United States Congress on June 8, he noted that on a per capita basis, Canada takes in twice as many immigrants, and three to four times as many refugees as the United States. He warned: “Canada cannot effectively screen and integrate such numbers, and we’ve seen the proof.”

Indeed, we have. Literally dozens of Muslim terrorists have been unmasked in Canada over the past 10 years.

Given the seriousness of the ongoing terrorist threat, it’s urgently necessary to plug all the gaping holes in our national security. To this end, Harris suggests the Harper government “consider a moratorium on immigration and refugee intake until we get a handle on our policies and process for mitigating related security risks.”

While there is much to be said for this proposal, there is no need for any prolonged moratorium on the intake of all immigrants and refugees. In the interests of national security, the Harper government should focus instead on the primary threat posed by adult males among Muslims, Tamils and other nationalities and groups linked to terrorism.

The great majority of Muslims and Tamils are not terrorists, but that’s not the issue. The Harper government should urgently resolve that no person who might conceivably be sympathetic to terrorism can enter and remain in Canada without a full security screening by CSIS.

In addition, Immigration Minister Monte Solberg should undertake to bar even temporary entry into Canada by hatemongers like the British Shaykh Riyadh ul Haq. In an harangue before a rally of Muslims in Leicester, England, he alleged that “the rabbis of Israel have made their position clear for all the world to see: They regard the lives of Palestinians – Muslims and Christians alike – as less valuable than those of Jews, and thus expendable.”

Ul Haq is scheduled to serve as a keynote speaker at two major impending guidance conferences for Muslim youths in Montreal and Toronto. These are not fringe events. The roster of featured speakers also includes such prominent Canadian Muslims as Ahmad Shehab, a candidate for mayor of Toronto in 2003, and Dr. Munir El-Kassem, the Muslim chaplain at the University of Western Ontario.

Responsible leaders of the Muslim community in Canada should make sure that Jew-baiting bigots like Ul Haq are not invited to address mainstream Muslim conferences. Failing that, it’s up to the government of Canada to prevent these hatemongers from getting into the country.

In fact, the Canadian Coalition for Democracies has asked the Harper government to bar entry to Ul Haq, in particular. But Solberg has rejected the proposal on the ground: “If a visitor to Canada publicly incites hatred while here, they can be arrested and prosecuted under our Criminal Code."

That policy is preposterous. It gives Muslim extremists free reign to visit and incite their followers in Canada so long as they refrain from spewing their hatred in public.

When oh when will the Harper Conservatives and the opposition parties in Parliament finally get serious about safeguarding Canada from Islamist terrorism?

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Standing up to the Court

The London Free Press
By Rory Leishman

Last week, Justice Minister Vic Toews recommended to Parliament a set of pay hikes for judges that would give Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin of the Supreme Court of Canada an immediate raise of $20,100 retroactive to April 1, 2004. In the opinion of Joe Comartin, the justice critic for the New Democratic Party, that’s not nearly enough. He fumed: “What we have here is another reflection of the contempt this government holds toward our judiciary.”

The mind boggles. Not so long ago the socialists of the NDP subscribed to the Marxian precept: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.” Now they berate a Conservative cabinet minister for suggesting that the Chief Justice should be content with a 7.25-per-cent pay hike that will give her an annual income of $298,500.

The New Democrats are not alone in calling for heftier pay hikes of judges. The previous Liberal government accepted the recommendations in a May 2004 report by the independent Judicial Compensation and Benefits Commission that called for an immediate salary increase of 10.2 per cent for federally appointed judges. That proposal would give McLachlin a retroactive pay hike of $30,000.

Now the NDP insists that the Harper government should likewise endorse the commission’s recommendations. Toews disagrees. Given that federally appointed judges already have their salaries permanently indexed by law to inflation, he thinks that McLachlin and her colleagues on the Supreme Court of Canada should be content with an additional retroactive pay hike of 7.25 per cent.

In support of this proposal, Toews points out that even at the current rate of pay, there has been no lack of highly qualified applicants for vacancies in the federally appointed courts. And he contends that the commission’s recommendation of a 10.2-per-cent increase in judicial pay on top of inflation indexing is not “reasonable and generally proportional” to all the other economic pressures and legitimate fiscal demands upon the Harper government.

Underlying this dispute is disagreement over who should have ultimate responsibility for determining judicial pay. Toews has good reason to insist that it’s up to elected representatives of the people in Parliament inasmuch as Section 100 of the Constitution of Canada plainly states: “The Salaries, Allowances, and Pensions of the Judges of the Superior, District, and County Courts … shall be fixed and provided by the Parliament of Canada.”

Despite this explicit provision of the Constitution, the Supreme Court of Canada held in the 1997 PEI Judges Reference case that the government of Canada must establish an independent commission on judicial pay. The court also warned: “if the executive or the legislature chooses to depart from (the commission’s recommendations), it has to justify its decision -- if need be, in a court of law.”

With this decision, the unelected judges on the Supreme Court of Canada declared, in effect, that they have a right to determine their own pay. In support of this unprecedented assertion, the majority could cite nothing but the “underlying, unwritten, and organizing principles found in the preamble to the Constitution Act, 1867.”

In a stinging dissent in this case, former Justice Gerald La Forest contended that the Court has no authority to subordinate the express provisions of the Constitution to some unwritten principles lurking in the preamble. The express provisions of the Constitution are the Constitution, he insisted: “To assert otherwise is to subvert the democratic foundation of judicial review.”

La Forest is right. In conformity with the separation of legislative and judicial powers, the Supreme Court of Canada should respect the authority of Parliament under section 100 of the Constitution to determine the salaries, allowances and pensions of all federally appointed judges.
Moreover, in fulfilling this legislative responsibility, Parliament should stick with the reasonable increases in judicial pay proposed by Toews. If McLachlin and other judicial activists on the Supreme Court of Canada are not content with his generous offer of an additional $20,100 and $18,600, respectively, per year, they should quit.

In this way, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Toews would have an opportunity to come up with some eminently qualified replacements who would respect the democratic foundation of judicial review, by upholding the plain language of the Constitution as originally understood.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Perversion of Human Rights

Catholic Insight
By Rory Leishman

In a remarkable ruling on Maundy Thursday, a three-judge panel of the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal unanimously quashed the rulings of a Saskatchewan human rights board of inquiry which found that a Regina man had violated the province’s human rights code, by drawing public attention to Biblical teaching on the sinfulness of sodomy.

The man in question, Hugh Owens, is a Regina prison guard and Evangelical Protestant. His troubles with the human-rights thought police stem from an advertisement he placed in the Saskatchewan Star Phoenix that listed four Bible passages -- Romans 1, Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13, and 1 Corinthians 6:9-19 -- together with a picture of two stick men holding hands and superimposed with a circle and slash -- the universal symbol for something forbidden.

Acting on a complaint by three homosexual activists, the human rights board of inquiry ruled that “the circle and slash combined with the passages of the Bible … can objectively be seen as exposing homosexuals to hatred or ridicule” contrary to section 14 1(b) of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code. To atone for this offence, the board ordered The StarPhoenix and Owens to pay the complainants $1,500 each in damages and to promise that they would never again publish such an advertisement. The publisher of The StarPhoenix meekly complied. Owens appealed the ruling, and lost again in the Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench.

Luckily for Owens, he has now been vindicated by the Court of Appeal. In reasons for the Court, Mr. Justice Robert Richards pointed out that an objective observer would know that the passages cited by Owens are “self-evidently part of a larger work, the Bible.” Richards dryly added: “One need not be a Biblical scholar, or even a Christian, to know that the Bible as a whole is … the source of messages involving themes of love, tolerance and forgiveness.”

On this basis, Richards held that the publication of Owens’s advertisement did not offend the ban on hateful publications in the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code. But if the province’s Human Rights Commission were to appeal this judgment to the Supreme Court of Canada, would Owens win again? That, to say the least, is doubtful.

Ian Hunter, emeritus professor of law at the University of Western Ontario, has observed that the ostensible guarantee of freedom of religion in section 2 of the Charter “has been interpreted by the Supreme Court since the landmark decision in Big M Drug Mart [1985] to mean freedom from religion.” Correspondingly, in Egan [1995], the Supreme Court defied the manifest will of Parliament and the provincial legislatures by reading equality rights for homosexuals into section 15 of the Charter.

Following these precedents, lower courts and human rights tribunals have repeatedly censored Christians for publicly affirming the sinfulness of sodomy on the ground that the equality rights for homosexuals in section 15 trump the rights of all Canadians to freedom of conscience, religion, opinion, expression and association in section 2.

Homosexuals, of course, are not the only favoured minority of human rights commissions and the courts. In Calgary, an Imam has persuaded the Alberta Human Rights Commission to undertake an investigation of Ezra Levant, the publisher of The Western Standard, for allegedly violating the equality rights of Muslims, by republishing “hateful cartoons” of the Prophet Muhammad.

Who might be the next victim of Canada’s human-rights thought police? No one knows. All Canadians are vulnerable. Theoretically, even a Muslim could get charged for saying or publishing something offensive to homosexuals.

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the expansive human rights codes that were enacted in the 1980s were supposed to safeguard and enhance the rights and freedoms of Canadians. Instead, judicial activists on the Supreme Court of Canada have transformed these codes and the Charter into veritable instruments of oppression.

While three enlightened judges on the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal have given Owens a rare reprieve, the rest of us should beware: No one can be safe in a country where a mayor who refuses to issue a gay pride proclamation or a publisher who reproduces a cartoon that some Muslims find offensive could end up in jail as a prisoner of conscience.

A Harper majority government could yield major gains for the pro-life movement

The Interim
By Rory Leishman

So far, Canada’s new Conservative government has done precious little to promote the sanctity of human life, but pro-lifers should not give up on the Conservative Party. There is good reason to hope for major pro-life gains from the Harper Conservatives after the next federal election.

Consider what Prime Minister Stephen Harper has already accomplished. Thanks mainly to his leadership, the formerly hapless Conservatives are now in power, while the once seemingly invincible Liberals are in disarray.

Since the election, Harper’s overriding aim has been to win the confidence of the Canadian people for his government. To this end, he has promoted an equitable settlement of the softwood-lumber dispute with the United States and authorized Finance Minister Jim Flaherty to present a moderate budget that honours the Conservatives’ commitments to cut the GST from seven- to six-per-cent and to introduce a Universal Child Care Benefit that will provide all families with $100 per month for every child under age six.This strategy of moderation is working. According to a series of recent opinion polls, the Harper Conservatives now enjoy a commanding lead in nationwide support.

At the beginning of May, the Montreal daily La Presse published a CROP poll indicating that the Conservatives have even taken over the lead in Quebec. Other reputable polls in this same province have put the Conservatives behind the Bloc Quebecois but well ahead of the Liberals.Altogether, these polls spell disaster for the Liberals. If they lose what remains of their base in Quebec, the Conservatives will likely win a majority in the next federal election, even if the Liberals and New Democrats retain their stranglehold on urban seats in Ontario.

During the last election campaign, Harper undertook to broaden the support of the Conservative Party, by promising that his government would not support any legislation on abortion. He said: “I will use whatever influence I have to keep that off of the agenda, and I don't see any likelihood of that in the next Parliament."

Harper might well have foreseen that pro-lifers would pick up some additional seats in the last election, but not enough to constitute a majority. Regardless, there is indeed no likelihood that any back bench legislation to curb abortion will pass in the current Parliament.

However, with the pro-choice Liberals in a state of collapse, pro-lifers are well poised to win a solid majority of seats in the next Parliament. Harper, then, could no longer block bills to curb abortion even if he wanted to. Willy-nilly, he would have to uphold the official policy of the Conservative Party that: “On issues of moral conscience, such as abortion, the definition of marriage and euthanasia, the party acknowledges the diversity of deeply held personal convictions among individual party members and the right of Members of Parliament to adopt positions in consultation with their constituents and to vote freely.”

Until the last election, Harper consistently supported this policy. In the 1990s, he helped Preston Manning unite the Reform Party around a similar commitment to free MPs from the obligation to follow party discipline on controversial issues of morality like abortion and euthanasia.The next federal election could come as early as next spring. In anticipation of this contest, pro-lifers should start now to make an all-out effort to get more pro-life and pro-family candidates nominated and elected. With majority support in Parliament, pro-life MPs could finally make some dramatic breakthroughs in reaffirming the sanctity of human life in Canadian law and policy.

It’s not inconceivable that Harper, himself, could take the lead in promoting pro-life and pro-family legislation. Unlike his immoral Liberal predecessors who disgraced themselves by championing both abortion on demand and same-sex marriage, he has steadfastly upheld the traditional legal definition of marriage and resolutely refused to pander to the feminist proponents of uninhibited abortion.

Moreover, Harper is an astute political strategist. As prime minister, he has surrounded himself with several key, pro-life colleagues. There is reason to hope, and better reason to pray, that in conjunction with them, he is simply biding his time until his government can proceed with the support of a majority of Canadians to enact legislation to reaffirm the natural family and curb the abortion licence.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Supreme Contempt for Democracy and the Rule of Law

Notes for an address to the Civitas National Conference
Ottawa, Ontario
6 May 2006
By Rory Leishman

For this session, we have been asked to ponder the role of courts and judges in modern democracies. I submit that the answer is straightforward: The proper role of courts and judges in any genuine democracy, ancient or modern, is to uphold the law, not to change the law.

What, though, has the Supreme Court of Canada done? In case after crucial case over the past 25 years, the judicial activists who have taken over control of the Court have legislated from the bench. And in so doing, they have demonstrated their supreme contempt for both democracy and the rule of law.

Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin and other likeminded judicial activists resent such charges. In an extraordinary obiter dictum in Vriend v. Alberta, 1998 SCC, Mr. Justice Frank Iacobucci denounced the Court’s critics. He lamented:
It seems that hardly a day goes by without some comment or criticism to the effect that, under the Charter, courts are wrongfully usurping the role of the legislatures. I believe this allegation misunderstands what took place and what was intended when our country adopted the Charter in 1981-82. When the Charter was introduced, Canada went, in the words of former Chief Justice Brian Dickson, from a system of parliamentary supremacy to constitutional supremacy.
Note that Iacobucci invoked the authority of a former chief justice as authority for his suggestion that the Charter supplanted parliamentary supremacy with constitutional supremacy. He did not, and could not, cite any supporting evidence from the words of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau or of any of the other federal or provincial leaders who debated and approved the Charter.

Robert Hawkins, President of the University of Regina, is an authority on the legislative history of the Charter. In a jointly written paper entitled "Democracy, Judging and Bertha Wilson," he and his co-author, Robert Martin, emeritus professor of law at the University of Western Ontario, reviewed the stated purposes of legislators in enacting the Charter. Hawkins and Martin concluded:
The legislators who entrenched the Charter in the Constitution had no intention of abandoning the doctrine of parliamentary supremacy in favour of a doctrine of aggressive judicial review. They never intended to pass the legislative torch.
Regardless, judicial activists on the Supreme Court of Canada have seized the legislative torch on the pretence of upholding the Charter. In Egan v. Canada, 1995 SCC, they read sexual orientation into the equality rights provisions of section 15 of the Charter, despite the fact that the Joint Committee of the Senate and the House of Commons on the Constitution had voted 22 to two to exclude sexual orientation from the enumerated grounds in section 15.[1] Then, in Vriend, the Supreme Court of Canada cited its illegitimate ruling in Egan as authority for reading a ban on discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation into the Alberta Human Rights Act in express defiance of the repeated opposition of the Alberta Legislature.

Most liberals applauded the Egan and Vriend rulings. They were pleased when the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the law on abortion in R. v Morgentaler, 1988 SCC, and they were delighted when the Court directed in M. v. H., 1999 SCC that Parliament and the provincial legislatures must amend the traditional, legal definition of spouse in literally hundreds of federal and provincial laws to include same-sex couples. But most of these same liberals were dismayed by the ruling last spring in Chaoulli v. Quebec (Attorney General), 2005 SCC 35, that imposed two-tiered medicare on Quebec.

Proponents of democracy and the rule of law -- be they liberals, conservatives or socialists -- should be more consistent: Whether they like or dislike the outcome of judicial activism in a particular case, they should insist that judges have no right whatsoever to usurp legislative powers, by changing established principles of the law and the Constitution through judicial interpretation.

In a speech to the Canadian Club of Toronto entitled "Judging, Politics, and Why They Must Be Kept Separate,” Chief Justice McLachlin contended that those who accuse the Supreme Court of Canada of usurping legislative powers misunderstand what judges do. She said:
The reality comes down to this: Parliament and the legislatures are the supreme arbitrators of the social course of the nation, subject only to the constraints imposed by the constitution and its traditions … The aim of the judicial role … is to interpret the laws that our common law tradition and the legislators have put in place.[2]
Is that right? If all judges truly aim to uphold the laws that our common law traditions and the legislators have put in place, then it must be said that McLachlin and her like-minded colleagues are in urgent need of a judicial eye examination. Just a few days prior to McLachlin’s Canadian Club speech, a three-judge panel of the Ontario Court of Appeal unanimously declared in Halpern et al. v. Attorney General of Canada et al., 2003 OCA:
We reformulate the common law definition of marriage as 'the voluntary union for life of two persons to the exclusion of all others.'
With this ruling, the Ontario Court of Appeal brazenly repudiated the law on marriage that our common law traditions and the legislators of Canada had put in place. In the Reference re Same-Sex Marriage, 2004 SCC 79, McLachlin and her colleagues on the Supreme Court of Canada did the same: They unanimously repudiated the traditional definition of marriage enshrined in both the common law and section 91(26) of the Constitution. In response to Senator Anne Cools and others who had argued that the Court should uphold the Constitution as enacted and originally understood, the Court said such “frozen-concepts” reasoning
runs contrary to one of the most fundamental principles of Canadian constitutional interpretation: that our Constitution is a living tree which, by way of progressive interpretation, accommodates and addresses the realities of modern life.
Here we come to the nub of the dispute: McLachlin and other like-minded, judicial activists regard the Constitution of Canada as a living tree that they, the judges, can change by progressive interpretation in any way that they see fit to accommodate and address their understanding of the realities of modern life. Sir William Blackstone held a decidedly different view. In his magisterial Commentaries on the Laws of England, he insisted that in the case of statutes, the rule for judicial interpretation must not be the will of the judge but the will of the legislator. He said:
The fairest and most rational method to interpret the will of the legislator is by exploring his intentions at the time when the law was made.[3]
In Federalist No. 78, Alexander Hamilton likewise affirmed that the judicial power is not superior to the legislative power under the Constitution of the United States. Rather, both are subordinate to the will of the people. Hamilton explained:
where the will of the legislature, declared in its statutes, stands in opposition to that of the people, declared in the Constitution, the judges ought to be governed by the latter rather than the former.
Judicial activists disagree with Blackstone and Hamilton. They have arrogated to themselves the right to substitute their own will for the will of the people as enshrined in the laws and the Constitution. And in defence of this high handed practice, Chief Justice McLachlin argues that majority rule unbridled by the courts
offers no protection against the tyranny of the majority.[4]
What can be said for such judicial hubris? Judicial activists like McLachlin subscribe to the authoritarian view that unelected judges are better qualified than elected legislators not only to interpret and uphold the laws, but also to enact and amend laws in relation to minority rights. There might be some justification for this viewpoint if judges were uniquely qualified to discern the truth about the multifarious ramifications of abstract rights. But that is obviously not the case. Judicial activists on the Supreme Court of Canada, no less than their counterparts in the United States, have repeatedly demonstrated that they cannot agree among themselves on the application of rights to particular issues such as search warrants, voting rights for prisoners, pornography laws and assisted suicide. In the chaotic 1988 Morgentaler ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada, the seven judges who heard the case split no fewer than four ways. Like the rest of us, judges often can and do differ in good faith over the nature of rights and their specific applications. How, then, do judges on the Supreme Court of Canada resolve these disputes? By majority vote, of course.

Jeremy Waldron is a professor of Law at Columbia University and an unabashed democrat. He persuasively argues in his treatise on Law and Disagreement that the definition of rights should be settled by a majority vote among elected representatives of the people in the legislative branch of government, [5] not by “a nine man junta clad in [scarlet] robes and surrounded by law clerks.”[6]

Judges in any democracy have a duty to respect the separation of legislative and judicial powers. They should uphold the law as contained in valid precedents, statute laws and the Constitution. They should make only marginal adjustments, at most, to accommodate the law to changing social and economic circumstances. Thus, in the 1932 Radio Reference, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council awarded jurisdiction over radio transmissions to Parliament on the basis of the analogous authority over telegraphs and other interprovincial ‘undertakings’ that is conferred on Parliament in s. 92(10)(a) of the 1867 Constitution of Canada Act. In this way, the court applied the original understanding of the Constitution to the changed circumstances occasioned by the invention of the radio.

In contrast, judicial activists like McLachlin have no compunction about making radical changes to common law rules, statute laws and the Constitution. And in doing so, they routinely also defy their own precedents. In the judgment last December in R. v. Labaye, 2005 SCC 80, McLachlin obliterated the law on indecency in the Criminal Code. In a scathing dissent, Justices Michel Bastarache and Louis Lebel pointed out that the majority was:
departing from the case law of this Court and proposing a new approach to indecency that is, in our view, neither desirable nor workable. It constitutes an unwarranted break with the most important principles of our past decisions regarding indecency.
Note the implications of this charge. In the classic formulation of A. V. Dicey, the rule of law means
the absolute supremacy or predominance of regular law as opposed to the influence of arbitrary power.[7]
In Labaye, McLachlin proceeded with the support of a majority of her colleagues to overturn the regular law on indecency and in a singular act of arbitrary power, to legalize group sex in a public place. In this way, the judicial activists on the Supreme Court of Canada not only violated democracy but also transgressed the rule of law.

What can be done to curb these arrant judges? Invocation of the notwithstanding clause of the Constitution is an obvious remedy, although it applies only to section two and sections seven to 15 of the Charter. The Labaye ruling was not based on any section of the Charter: Chief Justice McLachlin and the majority of her colleagues presumed to change the law entirely on their own authority. However, in all such cases, Parliament has another option: It retains full authority under the Constitution to summon judicial activists before the bar of Parliament and to hold them to account for their naked exercise of raw judicial power.

But alas, the elected representatives of the people of Canada in Parliament and the provincial legislatures show no disposition to defend their authority from judicial attack. The Harper Conservatives, like their Liberal and Conservative predecessors, have renounced virtually all use of even the notwithstanding clause. Who can blame them? Most Canadians have lost the will to govern themselves. They are so mesmerized by the Charter and overawed by the courts that they are content to have our elected legislators surrender their lawful democratic powers to an elite of self-appointed judicial lawmakers.

What we need in Canada is a democratic leader with the insight and spirit of Abraham Lincoln. In response to the Dred Scott ruling that struck down a federal law to protect fugitive slaves, Lincoln did not just throw up his hands in despair on the nonsensical ground that the Constitution is whatever the Supreme Court says it is. Instead, in his first inaugural address, he defended democracy from judicial abuse, declaring:
The candid citizen must confess that if the policy of the Government upon vital questions affecting the whole people is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court, the instant they are made in ordinary litigation between parties in personal actions, the people will have ceased to be their own rulers.
By Lincoln’s standard, we, Canadians, have ceased to be our own rulers. In defending democracy, Lincoln did not advance any complex constitutional arguments. Instead, in words that Canadian ought seriously to ponder, he simply asked:
Why should there not be a patient confidence in the ultimate justice of the people? Is there any better or equal hope in the world?
(Rory Leishman is the author of Against Judicial Activism: The Decline of Freedom and Democracy in Canada (McGill-Queen’s University Press: 2006)

[1] See Minutes of the Proceedings and Evidence of the Special Joint Committee of the Senate and the House of Commons on the Constitution. Issue 48, First Session of the Thirty-Second Parliament, 1980-81, 29 January 1981.
[2] For the text of this speech, see Beverley McLachlin, "The Judiciary's Distinctive Role in our Constitutional Democracy," Policy Options, September 2003.
[3] Sir William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England (Chicago: University of Chicago Press 1979), 59.
[4] McLachlin, ”The Judiciary's Distinctive Role.”
5] Jeremy Waldron, Law and Disagreement (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1999), 15.
[6] Waldron in an unpublished speech.
[7] A. V. Dicey, Introduction to the Law of the Constitution (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1982), 120.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Liberals back the war on terror

The London Free Press
By Rory Leishman

Speaking the Commons last week, Liberal defence critic Ujjal Dosanjh noted that Canadians are divided over Canada’s mission to Afghanistan. “They are clearly divided right down the middle,” he said. “They are looking for leadership from this chamber and from the minister, from the Prime Minister, and from all of us.”

An irresponsible opposition would try to exploit this division by reflexively opposing the government. The Liberals, to their credit, have resisted the temptation. Under the leadership of former defence minister Bill Graham, they maintain that the Canadian Armed Forces are making a vital contribution to Canada’s national security by combating the Taliban terrorists in Afghanistan.

Thus, Dosanjh lauded the brave Canadian soldiers who have been killed or grievously wounded in combat in recent weeks. He said: “Mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, have received the awful news that they dread most. Canadians have looked to us, their elected representatives, for reassurance that the mission is worth the loss.”

Dosanj gave that assurance. Standing by the decision of the previous Liberal government to initiate a stepped-up combat role for our Armed Forces in Afghanistan, he avowed: “We believed then and we believe now that destroying root and branch the agents and infrastructure of supply and training that made Afghanistan into a safe haven for international terrorism is in Canada's vital national interest.”

“Moreover,” Dosanjh added, “we believe that stabilizing, reconstructing and democratizing failing or failed states such as Afghanistan is the primary organizing principle for Canada's future foreign military operations.”

For the Liberals, that’s quite a turnaround. Under the feckless leadership of Jean Chretien, the Liberal government of Canada refused to support the United States-led coalition that is dedicated to reconstructing, stabilizing and democratizing the failed state of Iraq.

As for the New Democrats, they remain stuck in a puerile anti-American mode. They have yet to grasp that Canada has a vital role to play in the war against Islamist terrorism.

In last week’s debate, New Democrat leader Jack Layton reiterated the outdated NDP party line that “Canada’s role in the world and our reputation around the world rests on our reputation as a peacekeeping nation.” He charged the United States Bush administration with pursuing a foreign policy based upon fear engendered by the September 11 attack. That attack that killed nearly 3,000 people, including 24 Canadians. Layton admonished: “Canada must not succumb to the indulgence of fear over hope.”

In response, Defence Minister Gordon O’Connor asked Layton point blank if he “basically supports our effort in Afghanistan or not.” Layton did not provide a straight answer. He resorted instead to a cheap, diversionary debating trick, accusing O’Connor of implying that people who question the Afghan mission are deficient in “support for our service personnel who are risking their lives.”

Like Layton, New Democrat defence critic Dawn Black also stopped just short of explicitly repudiating Canada’s Afghan mission. Nonetheless, she tipped her hand by asking: “How does one build peace and diplomacy on the one hand when one is in a war fighting, or in counter-insurgency mode? We know that many of the people in the peace movement in Canada and ordinary Canadians share these concerns.”

Black should have paid closer attention to the earlier speech by Dosanjh. He recalled that in committing an army task force of about 1,000 personnel to the terrorist-infected Kandahar region of southern Afghanistan, he and his liberal colleagues in the previous government were aware that they were conferring no easy task on the Canadian armed forces. Dosanjh said: “We knew the enemy was determined and that casualties were a virtual certainty.”

He added: “We also knew that the mission marked a shift from the traditional Canadian role of peacekeeping. However, traditional peacekeeping in the post-cold war and the post-9/11 world has changed to include humanitarian, security and reconstruction dimensions. Reconstruction,” he emphasized, “is not possible without security.”

Dosanjh did not indulge in fear over hope. He told the plain truth – a truth so obvious that even a New Democrat should be able to grasp it: There can be no hope of building peace in the Middle East, or safeguarding Canadians at home, until the Islamist terrorists in Afghanistan and elsewhere are defeated and destroyed.