Saturday, October 31, 2009

Courageous Muslim Democrat

The London Free Press
By Rory Leishman

Among post-modern multiculturalists, it’s commonplace to suppose that all cultures are of equal moral worth. Salim Mansur, professor of political science at the University of Western Ontario, emphatically disagrees. In an illuminating collection of essays entitled Islam’s Predicament: Perspectives of a Dissident Muslim, he maintains that Islam is afflicted with “a terrible malady” which “reflects the irreparable breakdown of the civilization’s centre … which at one time in history was co-equal, if not briefly superior, to Christendom.”

Paraphrasing William Butler Yeats, Mansur contends that Islam is in the grips of a “rough beast” that has let loose anarchy upon the world. He traces the problem back to the earliest days of Islam, when perverse Muslim rulers renounced the peaceful teachings of the Quran, by slaughtering each other in a bloody struggle for political power following the death of the Prophet in 632.

“The Prophet’s immediate family members were the most conspicuous massacre victims,” writes Mansur. “Ever since those early blood-lettings, Muslims have been the primary victims of Muslim violence.”

That’s still all too evident in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan. Within the past week, Islamist suicide bombers have killed more than 240 Muslims in three massive blasts – the first two in Baghdad and the third in Peshawar.

Mansur charges that while Osama bin Laden and the Al-Qaeda network are “the modern faces of the beast” set loose in Islam, “Muslim intellectuals and religious leaders such as Tariq Ramadan and Sheikh al-Qaradawi serve the beast as apologists and propagandists.” That’s disturbing.

Qaradawi is no minor figure. Mansur explains that for Sunni Muslims, he is “the face of institutionalized Islam. He is the closest to what might pass for a titular head of Muslims akin to the Pope. Qaradawi’s words, now broadcast by television network al-Jazeerah, are taken as authoritative pronouncements of Islam.”

In a sermon broadcast earlier this year on the Arabic network of Al-Jazeerah, Qaradawi declaimed: “Oh Allah, take the Jews, the murderous aggressors. Oh Allah, take this profligate, cunning, arrogant band of people…. Oh Allah, do not spare one of them. Oh Allah, count their numbers, and kill them, down to the very last one.”

Ramadan is hardly less prominent than Qaradawi. A Swiss-born Arab Muslim academic, he has taught at the University of Fribourg, Oxford University and Erasmus University in Rotterdam. In 2004, he was offered a tenured position at Notre Dame University, but could not take up the post because he was barred entry to the United States.

On August 18, Ramadan was fired from his posts as a professor at Erasmus and an “integration advisor” for the city of Rotterdam, because he continued to host a show Islam and Life on Iran’s Press TV despite the shooting down of protestors in the streets of Tehran in June. In a joint statement, the city and university said Ramadan had "failed to sufficiently realize the feelings that participation in this television program, which is supported by the Iranian government, might provoke in Rotterdam and beyond."

In the face of Islamist terrorism, Mansur deplores the “appeasement mentality” of liberal-left multiculturalists in the West as well as the “deafening silence of Muslims, except for lonely voices of feeble opposition.” He likewise denounces the “double-speak” of Muslim intellectuals and religious leaders in mosques who say “contrary things in English or French and then in Arabic, or Farsi or Urdu.”

Mansur, of course, is a courageous exception: No Muslim has been more outspoken than he in unequivocally denouncing the Islamist terrorists who defame Islam.

As a Muslim, Mansur laments: “We keep assuring ourselves and others that Muslims who violate Islam are a minuscule minority, yet we fail to hold this minority accountable in public. We regularly quote from the Quran, but do not make repentance for our failings as the Quran instructs, by seeking forgiveness of those whom we have harmed.”

Mansur starkly concludes: “We Muslims are the source of our own misery, and we are not misunderstood by others who see in our conduct a threat to their peace.”

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Self-serving Canadian twaddle

The London Free Press
By Rory Leishman

Brian Lee Crowley is apprehensive about the future of Canada. In a remarkable new book, fearful symmetry: the fall and rise of canada’s traditional values, he decries those politicians and intellectuals have been telling us for the past 50 years that “Canada is one of the top countries in the world; that we are nicer, kinder, and gentler than Americans; that we have shed an up-tight colonial past and have entered a brave new world of equality and freedom guaranteed by big government.

“Too bad,” says Crowley, “this message is self-serving twaddle."

Really? Is it not true that over the past 50 years, Canada has maintained much more generous unemployment insurance and welfare benefits than the United States?

That, indeed, is correct. As a young socialist in the 1970s, Crowley applauded the decisions of the Trudeau Liberal government to liberalize unemployment insurance, increase welfare benefits and greatly expand the size and impact of government on the Canadian economy.

Looking back 40 years later, Crowley now realizes that no matter how generous and kindly meant, these Liberal initiatives have had a disastrous national impact, not least upon the poorest and most vulnerable Canadians.

Take the case of unemployment insurance. The reforms adopted by the Trudeau Liberals in 1971 radically reduced eligibility requirements and increased benefits. The result, notes Crowley, was overnight creation of the “UI ski team.” Under the cockeyed provisions of the new system, employable people in areas of high unemployment could work just two weeks and live off UI for the rest of the year.

While ski bums may have benefited from these UI reforms, many other Canadians were not so fortunate. Crowley observes that there is widespread agreement among economists that the Liberals’ misguided UI reforms fostered an increase of two percentage points in the difference between unemployment rates in Canada and the United States.

Increased welfare benefits have been no less pernicious. Crawley recalls that by the early 1990s, more than 10 per cent of the population of Ontario, then the richest province, was reduced to morale-destroying dependence on welfare handouts.

That was too much even for former Ontario NDP premier Bob Rae: His debt-ridden government could not afford the province’s soaring welfare costs, so he, a socialist, initiated the first rollbacks in welfare entitlements -- a policy that was continued and extended by the government of his Conservative successor, former premier Mike Harris.

The result, notes Crawley, “has not been impoverishment and misery.” Rather, the great bulk of people who were removed from welfare gained both employment and higher incomes.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Canadians languish in what Crawley calls “pseudo-work;” that is to say, unproductive jobs financed by government. Among several examples, he cites the featherbedding at CN. As a crown corporation, it ended up with a workforce of some 36,000, but a few years after privatization, “that number was down by half to 18,000, while profitability and efficiency were way up.”

Crawley warns that once the current economic recovery picks up pace, Canada will enter upon an era of ever more acute labour shortages. At the root of the problem is the collapse in Canadian birth rates.

Crowley projects that within 20 years, there could be only two workers for every retired person in Canada, down from a ratio of 3.25 to one. No conceivable influx of immigrants can prevent the inexorable aging of the Canadian population. Somehow, a proportionally diminished labour force will have to finance the huge costs of medicare and pension benefits for vast numbers of retired baby boomers.

Crowley concludes that Canadian taxpayers can simply no longer afford the costs of sustaining millions of Canadians in pseudo work or chronic dependence on welfare and employment insurance. He warns that if Canada is to remain “a force for good in the world,” we must resurrect Canada’s founding values including “personal responsibility and autonomy;” “a strong individual work ethic;” and “marriage and family,” that “vital traditional social institution” which is essential to sustaining the national population.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Judicial suppression of the rule of law

The Interim
By Rory Leishman

In a classic, 20th century, treatise entitled The Road to Serfdom, Friedrich Hayek observed that the hallmark of a free country is the subordination of ruling authority to the fundamental principles of the rule of law. He explained: “Stripped of all technicalities, this means that government in all its actions is bound by rules fixed and announced beforehand -- rules which make it possible to foresee with fair certainty how the authority will use its coercive powers in given circumstances and to plan one’s individual affairs on the basis of this knowledge.”

By this standard, Canada is no longer a free country. The problem is due to Canada’s federal and provincial human rights commissars. In a spate of recent rulings, they have wilfully abandoned fixed legal rules in favour of completely arbitrary and contradictory rulings.

Consider, to begin with, the decision of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) in Warman v. Beaumont on October 26, 2007. The adjudicator, Athanasios Hadjis, found that Jessica Beaumont, a 21-year-old retail clerk in Calgary, had expressed hatred and contempt for blacks, Jews and homosexuals in violation of section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act. For these offences, he ordered her to pay a $1,500 fine as well as $3,000 in compensation to the complainant, Richard Warman.

Less than a year later on September 2, Hadjis, handed down a ruling for the CHRT in Warman v. Lemire. As in the case of Beaumont, Hadjis found that Marc Lemire had expressed hatred and contempt for homosexuals in violation of section 13 of the Human Rights Act. However, instead of censoring and fining Lemire as he had Beaumont, Hadjis let him off on the ground that section 13 violates the guarantee of freedom of expression in section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to an extent that cannot be justified in a free and democratic society.

What, then, is it? Are the censorship powers conferred upon the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal in section 13 valid as Hadjis decided in Beaumont or invalid as he declared in Lemire? No one can no. There is no certainty that the unprecedented ruling by Hadjis in Lemire will be followed by any other human rights tribunal or upheld by the courts.

For Rev. Stephen Boissoin, this is a matter of more than academic interest. He is the author of a controversial letter to the editor “Homosexual Agenda Wicked” which was published in the Red Deer Advocate and on the website of Concerned Christians Canada, an organization headed by Craig Chandler. Acting on a complaint by Rob Wells, a homosexual activist in Edmonton, the Canadian Human Rights Commission held that in republishing Boissoin’s letter, Chandler had expressed hatred and contempt for homosexuals in violation of section 13.

Ezra Levant, Canada’s premier human-rights lawyer, was outraged by this attack on freedom of expression. He courageously defied the Commission by republishing Boissoin’s letter on his own website.

Wells then filed a complaint against Levant. But did the Commission follow the Chandler precedent? No. After subjecting Levant to an extensive investigation and tens of thousands of dollars in legal costs, the Commission concluded in a complete reversal on November 17 that he had a legal right to republish Boissoin’s letter.

Meanwhile, the Commission has also dropped vexatious and costly complaints filed by Wells against Fr. Alphonse de Valk of Catholic Insight Magazine and Ron Gray of the Christian Heritage Party for expressing their Christian convictions on the sinfulness of homosexual sexual relations. Boissoin is not so fortunate: He is currently appealing a ruling by the Alberta Human Rights Tribunal that he expressed hatred for homosexuals in his letter.

Parliament and the provincial legislatures are responsible for this oppression. Beginning in the 1980s, they enacted Canada’s perverse human-rights provisions. It’s up to them, not the courts, to quash these oppressive laws.

At a Conservative policy convention in Winnipeg last November, every Conservative MP, including Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, voted to repeal section 13. The Harper Conservatives should promptly follow through on this commitment in Parliament. In this way, Canadians could at least get to know prior to the next election who among our MPs supports the revival of freedom under law in Canada.