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.