Archive pour mars 2008


mars 31, 2008

Former New Brunswick Premier Bernard Lord has given his language report to the Harper government.

He recommends that support for bilingualism be hiked to a billion dollars over five years with special attention to French minorities outside Quebec and the English minority within Quebec. Lord especially wants more emphasis on language training in early school years.

Naturally Quebec separatists are outraged by these proposals. They charge it is an attempt to make Quebec bilingual which, of course, it officially is.

However there is strong support for official bilingualism right across the country from a low of 53 per cent in Alberta to a high of 85 per cent in Quebec.

Do you agree there should be more support for Pierre Trudeau’s dream that Canada become a bilingual country.



mars 29, 2008

Tonight we are being urged to turn off our lights between 8 and 9 p.m. (Is it allowed to leave on the TV to watch the Canadiens-Toronto game?) Even the lights on the cross on Mount Royal are to be turned off.

The purpose, we are told, is to save electricity, cut greenhouse gases and spark dialogue about other ways we can act to save the planet.

Presumably the electricity saved and the gases cut will be miniscule. And how much will come of floundering around in the dark discussing the salvation of the planet.

Is the real reason for this exercise to assuage our guilt about wrecking the planet without its costing us anything? And at 9 o’clock sharp we’ll all be back to normal. If our country’s government has no environmental policies why should our country’s citizens get themselves in a sweat about greenhouse gases?

Or do you see Earth Hour as a real opportunity to help save the planet?

Do you plan to observe Earth Hour tonight?

I have a friend who is planning a candle-light party.

Have you got any special activity planned for that hour?


mars 28, 2008

The seal hunt in the Gulf of St. Lawrence began this morning. Anti-seal hunt protests are again gathering steam. Animal rights groups claim the seal hunt is cruel, difficult to monitor, ravages the seal population and doesn’t provide a lot of money for sealers.

Sealers and the Canadian government defend the hunt as sustainable, humane and well-managed and say its provides supplemental income for isolated fishing communities that have been hurt by the decline in cod stocks.

To make the seal hunt more humane the sealers will now be required to sever the arteries under each flipper, thereby ensuring the animals are dead before being skinned.

For the moment at least the Canadian government will not allow observers on the ice floes to avoid a media circus.

A couple of questions.

Why is there so much upset about the seal hunt and so little about what goes on in slaughter houses?

Even if the seal hunt were banned wouldn’t the herd have to be culled on a regular basis?

Do you support the Canadian seal hunt?

Or would you  be in favour of banning it?

Should animal rights zealots be allowed to observe the hunt?


mars 27, 2008

This week the New York Times said that Hillary Clinton had no more than a five per cent chance of winning the Democratic nomination. Which begs th obvious question, why continue?

Granted that Hillary will win Pennsylvania. But she is about 160 elected delegates behind Obama and there is no way she can pass him in the elected delegate count. As for the super delegates, they are slowly but surely drifting away from Clinton to Obama, Governor Richardson being the most prominent example.

With the odds so heavily stacked against her, does it make sense for Hillary to keep attacking Obama for another three months when many of the attacks will be used against Obama in the general election next fall.

Already Clinton has said only she and McCain are ready to be commander in chief. Her husband has implied that only Hillary and the Arizona senator are patriotic.

Does it make any sense for a five per cent chance to tear the Democratic party apart and hand the election to the Republicans? Or should Hillary end it now gracefully for the sake of her party and indeed for her own sake?

What do you think?


mars 26, 2008

Most Canadians have now seen the deplorable pictures of the hockey violence in Quebec City when goalie Jonathan Roy, perhaps egged on by his Hall of Fame father, Patrick, skated down the ice and brutally attacked the opposing goal tender who refused to fight back. Jonathan then turned and gave the crowd the finger. Most commentators agree the whole melee was a terrible example to younger players.

Penalties, fines and suspensions were handed out to both teams. Jonathan Roy was suspended for seven games and fined $500. His father’s suspension is for five games.

In view of the mayhem they caused, many viewers feel the punishment for the Roys is far too light. The lead editorial in this morning’s Montreal Gazette says son Jonathan should be suspended for the rest of this season and all of next season to boot. A letter writer in the Gazette says Patrick Roy should be suspended from coaching teen-age boys for life.

Meanwhile, prosecutors have asked the police to prepare a report, and criminal charges are possible. That pleased the Gazette: « Now that the league’s officials have failed to do their jobs, then maybe it’s time for the police to step in and do it for them. »

Do you think the Roys’ punishment is too light?

Should the suspensions be much longer?

Should criminal charges be laid? (Incitement to violence is a crime)


mars 25, 2008

A seven year old boy in Austria was born with a defective spine, hydrocephalus and club feet. He has had several operations and has to take medicine.

The boy’s parents sued the doctor and the hospital. They said they would have had the foetus aborted if they had known it was p hysically disabled. The Supreme Court found in favour of the parents. The entire cost of raising the child, such as specialist care, will now be paid by the state and backdated seven years. The Austrian minister of health said the parents had a right to full compensation (paid by taxpayers) because of a « faulty diagnosis ».

Cardinal Schonborn and the Catholic bishops said the verdict was « unacceptable » . It would lead, they warned, to more pressure on women to have abortions. It would encourage « panic diagnoses » and increase the pressure on women to have abortions at the slightest risk of abnormality. Furthermore, the court’s decision would support the already widespread opinion that brought into question handicapped people’s right to live. The Cardinal also noted that the court’s decision coincided with the seventieth anniversary of Hitler’s invasion of Austria when thousands of disabled Austrians were killed.

Caritas Austria and organizations for the disabled supported the Cardinal’s position.

Should severely defective foetuses be aborted to avoid large public expenditures to support the care of disabled people?


mars 24, 2008

At their recent council meeting the Parti Quebecois made a momentous decision. They dropped the idea of having a referendum on sovereignty if and when they return to office.

How much difference is there between dropping a sovereignty referendum and dropping sovereignty itself. Surely the guarantee that the separatists were serious about separation was that they were willing to go to the polls to test their option. Now, the test is gone.

Still the P.Q. says it will go on promoting sovereignty without a referendum. But will anybody listen? After all, this debate has been going on for almost 50 years.

Eventually, there may be another constitutional debate in whichQuebec will fully sign on. But separation ????

Do you think Quebec will separate in your lifetime?



mars 22, 2008

There is a new book just out called How Jesus Became Christian by Professor Barrie Wilson of the Religious Studies Department of York University in Toronto.

According to Professor Wilson Jesus was a prophet, a powerful homilist, a totally devout Jew, who is executed in Jerusalem for being a political revolutionary. His followers carry on with his teachings: Wait for the Kingdom of God to get rid of the wicked, and in the meantime do good for the poor, love your neighbour and so on.

But he and his teachings are highjacked by the religious genius Paul and an elegant writer named Luke the Evangelist – considered one of Paul’s sidekicks – and together they pull off history’s greatest religious cover-up. They repackage a mortal rabbi as the divine son of God in a class mystery religion and shop him big-time around the Roman Empire.

The differences between Paul and Jesus are so great that we have to see two different religions.

Professor Wilson summerizes this way: « Jesus never converted to another religion. Nor did he start one.  If he were to return he’d probably be amazed – perhaps bewildered or possibly even angry – at what has been created in his name. »

It is clear that Jesus remained a practising Jew bound by the Torah until his death. Christianity under the aegis of Paul began much later.

So, in your view, is it reasonable to conclude that Jesus was never a Christian?

Could we conclude further that Jesus would recognize little of his teachings in the Christian church today?


mars 21, 2008

In today’s Good Friday Liturgy in the Tridentine (Latin) rite, the Catholic church and all the faithful pray for the conversion of the Jews. The prayer specifically asks « that God might illuminate the hearts of the Jews so that they might recognize Jesus Christ as the Saviour of all people. »

It is reported that Pope Benedict himself helped rewrite this prayer and insisted it be retained in the Good Friday Liturgy despite the objections of many Jews.

A prominent German Rabbi has withdrawn from an ecumenical service in Germany because he sees « no sense in conducting a joint Catholic-Jewish ceremony or reading texts of the New Testament together with Catholics. All that requires a basic trust which I’ m afraid I no longer have. »

Many Catholic thinkers felt the Jews were bound by a special covenant to God. Now it would seem Jews also owe their allegiance to Jesus Christ.

Does that make sense to you?

Should we be praying for the conversion of the Jews?


mars 20, 2008

The leakage from the American Cathlic church has reached a torrent. Figures from the Pew Forum show that that 31 per cent of Americans were raised Catholic but only 24 per cent still identify as Catholic. It is estimated in the past few years no few than 12 million American Catholics have left the church (although many of these have been made up by Latinos joining the church)

There are those who will say good riddance to those who can’t be faithful.

Those who dig deeper will find other reasons driving Catholic away: not enough priests and nuns, the sex abuse scandal, particularly the cover-up by bishops; rules forbidding birth control; obsession with abortion; rules forbidding Communion to divorced and remarried Catholics; the second class status of women; rejection of gays and lesbians.

Should there not be a national conversation about these issues? The alternative is to bid the critics goodby and pretend smugly that all is well.

Is the role of the Catholic to watch his church unravel? What can be done?