Tag Archives: democracy

Disarming the harmless doesn’t reduce crime, it reduces freedom


George Jonas hits one out of the park with this excellent Op Ed piece on gun control.  I only wish our lawmakers had such a solid grasp on common sense.

http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2011/01/18/george-jonas-disarming-the-harmless-doesnt-reduce-crime-it-reduces-freedom/

It was predictable for anti-gun activists to surface after the Tucson tragedy of Jan. 8. Some are the same opportunists who tried blaming the attempted assassination of U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords on Sarah Palin and the Tea Party, but others aren’t political. They’re simply gun-shy. It’s a condition, I suppose, or at least a phobia, beyond the reach of reason.

Gun-shy folk have this much in common with gun-enthusiasts.

Guns are loved and hated irrationally. Some people admire firearms, collect them, fondle them, all but have sex with them. Others abhor guns, consider them pornographic, react to them as Victorians did to risqué remarks. Both types are equally alien to me, but they aren’t equal.

Former Toronto mayor David Miller was gun-shy. (I imagine he still is.) He tried making Toronto a gun-free zone, or said he would. He wanted Torontonians to have no guns, gun clubs, gun collections or shooting ranges within the city limits. He himself had no guns, presumably, or any interest in shooting.

Had the former mayor been a gun enthusiast, much as he may have collected guns and visited shooting ranges himself, I doubt if he would have tried obliging his fellow Torontonians to do so.

Here’s the difference. Those who love guns rarely demand that you share their admiration, but those who hate guns demand that you share their aversion. Firearm-philiacs make no attempt to persuade, let alone oblige, anyone to have a love affair with guns, but firearm-phobiacs use the law at every turn to make their hatred obligatory. Gun-lovers understand something about freedom; gun-haters understand only coercion. In the gun debate, the peaceniks are the bullies.

What about the merits of the debate? Immaterial. Love and hate are beyond debate. Ex-mayor Miller, for instance, used to talk about public safety. He and I may not have shared many soft spots, but I’d defy anyone to have a softer spot for public safety than me. I pose no threat to my townspeople and I prefer my townspeople to pose no threat to me. Yet the same goal — public safety — would lead Miller and me to entirely different policies. His instinct would be to control guns; mine, to control crime.

Gun-control advocates would disarm the harmless, and leave them defenceless against the harmful they can’t disarm. If I couldn’t disarm the harmful, which would be my first choice, my second choice would be to arm the harmless, or at least encourage them to arm themselves.

Disarming the harmless is easier, of course. Passing a law is all it takes. People who don’t much shoot people pay attention to laws. Many even pay attention to bylaws. Pass a bylaw that says “give up your guns, please” and by golly, they’ll give ’em up.

In contrast, disarming the harmful may be impossible. They’re scofflaws. They don’t obey.

Politics, as they say, is the art of the possible. Mayors are politicians, practical people, favouring practical solutions. Passing laws for the law-abiding is practical because they’ll generally abide by them, while passing laws for the lawless is impractical for they will rarely do so.

For politicians, the matter seems simple. Only impractical people advocate measures that depend for success on compliance by the lawless — they say — when with the same effort they could put laws on the books that depend for success on compliance by the law-abiding. What’s the use of passing laws that people don’t obey, such as “thou shalt not kill?” We’ve hundreds of such laws on the books. “Don’t carry illicit handguns; don’t peddle illicit drugs; don’t shoot up the neighbourhood.” They’re all laws that cost a mint to enforce, to little avail. The practical thing is to pass laws that people do obey, such as “no shooting ranges within Toronto city limits.” Switching from low-compliance-rate laws to high-compliance-rate laws is the ticket.

It’s a ticket, all right — but a ticket to what? If the destination is public safety, gun collectors aren’t in the way, either in Toronto or Tucson. Citizens using guns in self-defence aren’t in the way, either. They aren’t making our cities unsafe. What makes our cities unsafe is drug-dealing youth gangs shooting at each other and hitting passers-by. Or deranged individuals hearing voices that urge them to shove people in front of subways. Or the authorities defending shoplifters against shopkeepers more keenly than shopkeepers against shoplifters, as they did in Toronto last year.

Outlawing shooting ranges within the city limits won’t change that. No passer-by has ever been shot at a Toronto shooting range. Threats to public safety don’t come from insufficient laws but insufficient people: teenage mothers, drug culture, youth gangs, mental illness. The problem? Try political correctness, self-censoring politicians, irresolute courts, hamstrung police. People obeying good laws reduces crime; good people obeying bad laws reduces only freedom.

One cannot restrict the defiant by constraining the compliant. A law that obliged everybody within Toronto city limits to breathe would bring 100% compliance from the living and no significant change of behaviour from anyone else.

National Post

Hunting ducks, protecting families


Excellent editorial from today’s National Post.

http://www.nationalpost.com/opinion/columnists/Hunting+ducks+protecting+families/3577605/story.html

George Jonas, National Post · Saturday, Sept. 25, 2010

Did Canada’s firearm-phobic urban elites score an own goal? Did they open up a political opportunity for Stephen Harper? Many commentators seem to think so.

I’m not as sanguine as some, but if, by their narrow rescue of the registry, Ottawa’s gunless wonders did elevate a wasteful program of loony liberalism into an election issue, it may open up an opportunity to re-examine the debate about gun control.

The police carry guns for a reason: They’re great tools for law enforcement. Letting firearms become the monopoly of lawbreakers, far from enhancing public safety, is detrimental to it. Canada has gone out of its way to make criminals as invincible, and victims as vulnerable, as possible. This wasn’t the aim of gun control, of course, only the result.

Canada isn’t alone. Two years ago, terrorists in Mumbai, India, claimed some 500 casualties, dead and injured. Among the many questions raised by the outrage, there was a purely practical one: Why was the attack so successful? How could so few terrorists claim so many victims?

One obvious answer, as I wrote at the time, was firepower. Guns were illegal in the hands of both the terrorists and the victims. The victims obeyed the laws, the terrorists didn’t. A Mumbai-type atrocity couldn’t have happened in Dodge City–or in Edwardian Europe, for that matter, where gentlemen routinely carried handguns for protection — but it could happen again at next month’s XIX Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, India.

Some regard carrying guns uncivilized. Would you call an era of legal guns in the hands of Edwardian gentlemen less civilized — or less safe — than our own era of illegal guns in the hands of terrorists and drug dealers? I wouldn’t. The civilized place was turn-of-the century London, where citizens carried guns and the police didn’t.

Society needs crime control, not gun control. Violent crime in America declined in the past 20-plus years after a majority of states enacted “right to carry” legislation. There may have been several reasons, but the “right to carry” was clearly one.

There are Second Amendment absolutists in America, and libertarians elsewhere, who regard a person’s birthright to own/carry a firearm beyond the state’s power to regulate. I’m not among them. Communities set standards for many things, from the possession of exotic animals to the operation of ham radios; why not lethal weapons? But our aim should be to enhance, not diminish, the defensive capacity of the good guys, and increase rather than decrease the number of auxiliary crime-fighters who are available to be deputized when the bad guys start climbing over the fence.

The relationship between citizens and the law is magnificently simple. Citizens are the law. Not the bureaucracy, not the police, not the pundits: Citizens. It’s all right for people to take the law into their own hands because in a free society the law is, in fact, in their hands. It is the people who delegate the power of law enforcement to the police, not the other way around.

The police may think they license citizens to carry arms, but they don’t. It’s citizens who license the police. They license them to carry arms, to enforce the law, to investigate crime, to serve and protect. All power flows from the public to the authorities, not the other way around.

In free societies, that is. There are societies where power flow is reversed. They’re called police states.

Canada isn’t a police state and we don’t want it to become one– not even our gun-shy urban elites, most of them. The police chiefs with their disarming rhetoric aren’t looking for a police state, either; it’s just that “the police-man’s lot is not a happy one,” as Gilbert and Sullivan pointed out, and being the only ones armed would make their lot happier.

Maybe so, except an arms monopoly only serves and protects the police, not the public. While we support our cops, making police work congenial isn’t Canada’s national purpose. Our entitlement to carry arms, unlike our American cousins’, stems from no particular provision of a constitutional amendment, but intrinsically from our fundamental traditions of freedom, subject to whatever conditions we choose to impose on ourselves.

If the gun registry becomes an election issue, it may serve as a reminder that guns aren’t only for hunting ducks, but also to help people safeguard themselves. It’s as proper for citizens to defend their homes in peacetime against domestic robbers as to defend their homelands in war against foreign invaders. People who defend their families act as honourably as those who provide for their families. They must do so within the law, needless to say, providing or defending, in war or in peace, but as long as they do, one type of action is simply an extension of the other.

If someone could persuade criminals and lunatics to obey gun control, it would be a splendid idea. As long as only law-abiding citizens obey it, it amounts to countering stray cats by neutering vets: Showy, but not very useful.

92% of police want registry scrapped!


The September 22 vote is fast approaching and the debate over the long-gun registry is heating up again.  Think that all police officers support the registry?  Think again.  Here’s the latest press release from the Canadian Shooting Sports Association:

http://www.cdnshootingsports.org/2010/08/Press_Release_Police_survey_20100819.html

Officer’s survey finds 92% of police want gun registry scrapped

Veteran police officer says database is dangerous for cops to use

Vaughan ON – August 19, 2010 – A national survey conducted by an Edmonton police officer reveals that 92 percent of police officers in Canada want Members of Parliament to vote in favour of scrapping the long-gun registry in September.

Constable Randy Kuntz, a 22-year veteran with Edmonton Police Services (EPS), says the survey he conducted last year should be embraced by M.P.s when they vote on Bill C-391 that advocates dispatching the registry. Kuntz, an Exemplary Service Medal recipient, hopes to expose the grave mistake that the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) is making by supporting the registry.

“The CACP is not some mindless group of misguided men and women who strive to oppress,” says Kuntz. “There are many things they do very well as a unit. They simply have this one matter very wrong. The idea that the firearms registry is necessary and useful is wrong. They claim that they speak for all police officers on this matter. I think I have shown that they don’t.”

Kuntz used a popular police magazine to query officers across Canada if they supported the registry as a useful working tool. While he is first to admit the survey is not scientific, he believes it closely reflects the current climate among his fellow officers.

He expected a couple of hundred replies, but of the 2,631 officers who responded from every province and territory, 2,410 said the registry is useless as a crime fighting tool and many believe it poses a danger to police.
“The firearms database shows registered firearms and their owners,” explains Kuntz. “No telling where those firearms are actually located, it just shows the law abiding citizen who owns legal firearms. There is nothing that says the firearms have to be in the possession of the person to whom they are registered. I can loan a firearm to anyone who possesses a valid license for that type of firearm.

“A person can have a valid possession/acquisition license, but not have any registered firearms in his name,” he adds. “So, no firearms are on the database associated to his address. But, he can borrow a firearm and have it in his possession. What good is the registry, then? In the above example, the police officer checks the person and sees he has no firearms registered to him – so does the policeman think there are no firearms? Probably. It’s a huge mistake on the police officer’s part, relying on a database for your safety. It’s ridiculous.”

Kuntz conducted the survey on his own because he was very concerned that officers could be killed if they relied on the registry data. He also believes the CACP is misrepresenting the facts by continually claiming that a massive majority of police officers support the registry. There is often a gulf between management and employee interests in any organization and police work is no different.

“The CACP tells the public that it is a necessary tool for law enforcement,” says Kuntz. “It is not It just gives the perception of that. It was pretty overwhelming that those who responded (to the survey) were against the registry. Most of the respondents were constables and sergeants/detectives – guys and gals with their boots on the pavement, so to speak. They’re the cops that the public meets and deals with on a daily basis. I respect Chief Rick Hanson of Calgary Police Services. He took a stand against the CACP’s position on the registry. It takes a lot of guts to face others of equal rank and say, ‘you are wrong.’”

While Kuntz suspects the CACP isn’t deliberately trying to deceive the public, he hopes his survey results will send the chiefs and M.P.s an important message. M.P.s are voting on September 22 on an opposition-led motion that is poised to kill Bill C-391 even before it gets to the 3rd reading stage. Many pundits predict that the vote could be very close.

“I believe that the CACP believes they are looking out for us,” he explains “That’s the scary part. The registry was touted as a public safety program. The problem is, the registry does nothing to improve anyone’s safety and it has cost the Canadian public two billion dollars, plus millions per year to maintain. If such a wasteful program was proposed in the private sector, it would have never got off the ground in the first place.”

During debates on Bill C-391, some police services members told the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security that police were being warned by superiors against speaking publicly against the registry. Meanwhile, Kuntz’s fellow officers have cautioned him that his stance is likely to have a career-limiting effect. During his 22 years as a police officer, he has worked in the Intelligence Analysis Unit, Cold Case Homicide, Integrated Intelligence Unit with EPS and RCMP, Criminal Investigation Section, Driver Training, and he has been acting Detective/Sergeant.

“I have had an excellent career thus far in the rank of Constable,” he says. “I made it clear to our Human Resources recently that I would not be participating in any future promotion processes. Some things are more important than my personal ambitions. This is one of them. It is something that affects all Canadians as it is our money funding this wasteful program.”
He also provides some sage advice for new recruits: “If you rely on a computer database for your safety, you are an idiot. Learn to investigate using your observation and communication skills. We were pretty successful in doing that for 100 years prior to the registry.”

Coalitions, Liberals and Democracy


Over the last couple of weeks there has been a resurrection of the idea of a coalition government.  Should the Conservative Party win another minority in a future election, the losing parties would form a “coalition”, with the Liberal Party at the helm, and take over control of government.

Coalition governments are quite common in the other commonwealth countries.  In fact, the UK just recently formed a coalition government between the Conservative Party and Liberal Democrats.  However, they are decidedly rare in Canadian politics.  So rare, that there has been only one federal coalition in the entire history of the country.

This coalition was Robert Borden’s Unionist government of 1917.  After winning a majority government, Borden’s Conservative Party formed a coalition with the Liberal’s in order to present a united political front in response to World War 1.  It quickly fell apart after the conclusion of the war and ended completely with Borden’s retirement in 1920.

There is one common factor that I would like to point out from my two examples above:  the winning party created the coalition!

When Conservative Party leader, Stephen Harper, recently said “losers don’t get to form coalitions” he was correct.  In a coalition government, the elected party seeks an alliance with one or more of their rivals for the purpose of strengthening the democratically elected government.  This is more common with minority governments, as a coalition will usually give them a majority in parliament.  However, as we saw from Borden’s example, majority governments also employ coalitions if they feel it’s warranted.

In December 2008, the Liberals, NDP and Bloc Quebecois attempted to form a “coalition” government with the Liberals at the helm.  They reasoned that while more Canadians had voted for Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party, the majority of Canadians had not.  Therefore, in their minds, they were justified in taking over leadership of the country.

There are a few glaring problems with that idea though:

1)      None of the three parties involved had been elected to power.  They were not trying to strengthen the existing government. They were trying to unseat it.

2)      The Liberal Party leader, Stephane Dion, would have become the leader of this new government.  In the recently held election, Canadians had already declared that they did not want Mr Dion to lead the country.

3)      All three parties would have veto power in this coalition government.  In real world application, the Liberals and NDP would regularly agree on policy.  The Bloc Quebecois, however, is a separatist party and often disagrees with the other parties on key issues.  Even though Liberal leader, Mr Dion, would “officially” be the leader of the opposition, in reality, Bloc leader, Gilles Duceppe would have been calling the shots.  The Liberals and the NDP would have effectively handed leadership over to a party whose primary goal is to break-up the country.

I’ll take this opportunity to remind people of a legal term that isn’t often heard in modern society:

sedition [sɪˈdɪʃən]
n
1. speech or behaviour directed against the peace of a state
2. (Law) an offence that tends to undermine the authority of a state
3. (Law) an incitement to public disorder
4. Archaic revolt
[from Latin sēditiō discord, from sēd- apart + itiō a going, from īre to go]

Dion, Duceppe and NDP leader Jack Layton were lucky not to be charged with sedition after their ill-fated coup attempt in December 2008.  Will Layton and current Liberal leader, Michael Ignatieff, be so fortunate if they try the same trick again?

If there is one thing that has become abundantly clear over the last several years, it’s that the Liberal Party of Canada is more interested in power than democracy.  An inability to admit their mistakes, an unwillingness to listen to the people whom they represent, and an overwhelming arrogance in their own righteousness, has led to plummeting support for the Liberals.

The party is on the verge of imploding, and these ridiculous coalition attempts are nothing more than the desperate actions of desperate politicians.  Rather than accepting the consequences for years of bad leadership and even worse legislation, they are grasping at straws for any chance to reclaim power.

It’s time for the Liberal Party to start listening to their constituents.  Maybe then, they’ll finally realize that their problem isn’t ineffective leadership or the “evil” Stephen Harper.  Their problem is a complete inability to accept that the interests of Canadians are far more important than the interests of a few elitist politicians.

Edit

I wanted to make a quick update to clear up a point of confusion in my post. 

When I said that the winning party forms a coalition, I didn’t mean to state that only the winning party can form a coalition.  Legally, any of the parties are allowed to form one.  Tradition stands that the party with the most votes has first crack at forming a government.  If they are unable to do so, then any party can step up and try.

The issue in Canada is the Bloc Quebecois.  The Liberals and NDP combined still have fewer seats than the Conservatives.  It would be very difficult for them to form a minority government without the Bloc, and Canadians won’t allow them to form a coalition with the Bloc.

So while it is perfectly legal for the losers to form a coalition government, with the number of parties in our political system and the presence of the Bloc, it’s virtually impossible.

Women and Gun Control – Part 2


As public debate over the long gun registry heats up, the Gun Control Lobby is continuing to push their stance of gun control being a women’s issue.  In particular, they are claiming that it is a rural women’s issue.  I decided to take a look at this stance in a three part series.

In Part 1, I discussed how the current system of gun control in Canada is diverting money away from programs that could help women who are victims of abuse.  In Part 3, I will be dealing with self defense.

In this part, I’m going to break down the numbers regarding violent crime, family violence and homicide in this country.  Where does it happen, who are the victims, and what are the causes.

Causes

Contrary to what gun control and feminist advocates would have us believe, guns are not a risk factor for domestic violence.  According to the Canadian Department of Justice, the major risk factors for spousal violence are

  • being a young person
  • living in a common law relationship
  • having a partner who periodically drinks heavily
  • emotional abuse in the relationship, and
  • marital separation

Statistics Canada also adds being Aboriginal to that list.  20% of the Aboriginal population has reported being victims of family violence compared with 7% of the non-Aboriginal population.

A journal article, National Trends in Intimate Partner Homicides: Explaining Declines in Canada 1976-2001 made some more interesting points.  I would especially like to point out the date range of this study, 1976-2001, and remind my readers that the long gun registry did not come into force until 2001.

Over the time period studied, spousal homicide rates had declined by about 50%, falling from 8.5 (per million spouses) in 1976 to 4.2 in 2001.  Spousal homicides using a firearm had declined by 81% over the same time period. 

For those who like to make comparisons with the United States, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, from 1976-2000 our “gun loving” cousins to the south saw a decline in spousal homicides of 45%.  Keep in mind that gun ownership in the US of A increases by about 4.5 million guns per year.  Allow me to repeat that: over a 24 year period, as gun ownership increased spousal homicide decreased.

According to the National Trends article, the reasons for these declines in both countries were

  • male to female employment ratios (more women had jobs)
  • higher education levels for both men and women
  • marrying later in life
  • starting a family later in life and having fewer children
  • social programs which make it easier for victims to leave their abusers

I hope my anti-gun readers have noted how guns and gun control are not mentioned anywhere as either a cause or a solution to the issues of domestic violence.

Where does it happen?

There is definitely some truth to the claim that rural Canadians are more at risk of spousal violence than their urban neighbours. 

  POPULATION SHELTERS SHELTERS PER 100,000 RATE OF SPOUSAL VIOLENCE*
Canada 33,739,900 569 1.7 188
Nfld & Labrador 508,900 15 2.9 123
PEI 141,000 5 3.5 128
Nova Scotia 938,200 16 1.7 145
New Brunswick 749,500 22 2.9 84
Quebec 7,828,900 126 1.6 241
Ontario 13,069,200 160 1.2 141
Manitoba 1,222,000 29 2.4 215
Saskatchewan 1,030,100 24 2.3 329
Alberta 3,687,700 50 1.4 249
BC 4,455,200 110 2.5 124**
Yukon 33,700 5 14.8 421
NWT 43,400 7 9.3 1,605
Nunavut 32,200 2,472

* Rate per 100,000 population
** Incomplete data for British Columbia

There is little data available on the reasons for the greater incidence of abuse in rural areas.  One thing that is known is that there is less help available to victims of spousal violence in rural Canada.  Even though the territories have a high per capita number of shelters, those shelters have very limited services available.  Additionally, because of the vast distances involved in all rural areas, it is not always possible for victims of abuse to reach help when it is available.  Other factors like education levels, financial dependence and divorce rates also play a role in this urban/rural divide. 

While spousal violence may be a bigger issue in rural Canada, there is no clear divide when it comes to violent crime and homicide.  Large and small communities are affected equally in this regard.  There are many socio-economic factors that come into play.

Who are the victims?

Here’s where the numbers become interesting.  There are about 330,000 victims of violent crime in Canada each year.  If we believe our misandrist lobby groups, the number of female victims should far exceed the number of male victims.  Right?

Wrong.  In 2007, 50.04% of the victims of violent crime were female.  Basic math tells me that 49.96% of the victims were male.  Hardly a staggering difference.  In cases of domestic violence, 7% of women and 6% of men have reported violence at the hands of their partner.  Again, hardly a noticeable difference. 

Specifically regarding family violence, the numbers are still not so different, with 63% of female victims and 61% of male victims suffering from common assault (Level 1).  However, the results are not always so balanced.  Men are twice as likely as women to be the victim of a serious assault (Level 2 or 3 – assault with a weapon or assault causing bodily harm). 

Common assault has been declining steadily since the 1970s, however serious assault has been increasing for the last 25 years, falling for the first time in 2008.  It’s no large stretch to see that violence against women is on the decrease, while violence against men is on the increase.

Let’s take a similar look at homicides in Canada.  In 2008, the lowest rate (24%) of female victims since 1961 was recorded.  Conversely, the rate of male homicide victims has been rising steadily for the last 10 years.  In terms of spousal homicide, women are 4 times as likely as men to be killed by a current or former intimate partner (51 vs. 14 for 2007).

To summarize all those numbers and add a couple of new ones:

  • men are twice as likely as women to be assaulted with a weapon
  • men are three times more likely to be the victim of a homicide
  • all forms of violence against women have been falling since the 1960s
  • all forms of violence against men have remained stable or have been increasing
  • spousal violence and homicide has been falling since the 1970s
  • women are four times more likely than men to be killed by an intimate partner
  • homicide by long gun (rifle/shotgun) has been falling steadily since the 1970s
  • homicide by handgun has increased by 24% since 2002

Putting it all together

Well, now that I’ve bamboozled you with statistics, what does it all mean?

It means that violence in our society is not a simple issue.  Gun control advocates and feminist groups would have us believe that women are always the helpless victim at the hands of Neanderthal men. 

What I have attempted to show you with all these facts is that, while women are more often the victim in specific circumstances, the same holds true for men.  Guns are not a gendered issue any more than drunk driving is a mother’s issue.  Violence in our society affects everyone and the divisive tactics employed by groups like IANSA and the Coalition for Gun Control do little to help anyone.

Guns are not the problem in our society, nor are they the solution.  Until the real problems are addressed, weapons – including guns – will always have a place in our world. 

Sources

WOMEN AND GUN CONTROL – PART 1
WOMEN AND GUN CONTROL – PART 3

Prorogation and Propaganda


I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m sick to death of hearing the word “prorogue”.  The lies, disinformation and manufactured hype surrounding Harper’s recent prorogation of parliament are starting to wear a bit thin.

Contrary to what the Liberals and their opposition cohorts would have you believe, prorogation is a legitimate, and common, parliamentary tool used in the Commonwealth Parliaments of Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United Kingdom.  Granted, it has a history of being used in a more questionable manner in Canada than anywhere else in the world, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is a legitimate parliamentary process [check out this page for more information on prorogation].

In the 142 years since Sir John A MacDonald became the first Prime Minister of Canada, our parliament has been prorogued 105 times.  That works out to roughly once every 16 months – hardly a rare event. 

During his tenure, Liberal PM Pierre Trudeau prorogued parliament 11 times in 1963, 1965, 1967, 1969, 1970, 1972, 1974, 1976, 1977, 1978, and 1983.  More recently, Liberal PM Jean Chretien prorogued parliament 4 times in 1996, 1999, 2002, and 2003.  On the provincial level, Ontario Premier Bob Rae (and federal Liberal Party leader candidate) prorogued the legislative assembly 3 times in 1991, 1992, and 1994.

I can hear the Liberal shills screaming right now, “But it’s not the same thing!  Harper is trying to dodge responsibility!”  Really?  Kind of like when Jean Chretien prorogued in 2003 to avoid the auditor general’s release of the report on AdScam, the sponsorship scandal in Quebec?

I don’t know enough about the “Afghan Detainee” controversy to say that it was a factor in Harper’s decision to prorogue parliament this winter.  I do understand basic math though.  According to the information given to the public thus far, the first reports of prisoner abuse were submitted to the government in “early” 2006.  Stephen Harper was sworn into office on Feb 2, 2006.  That means the alleged torture was already taking place before he came into office, under Paul Martin’s Liberal government.  Could Harper have done more to address the issue?  I don’t know enough to say either way, but I do know enough to say that shutting down the special committee saves the Liberal Party from public scrutiny just as much, if not more so, than the Conservatives. 

If it wasn’t Afghanistan, why did Harper prorogue? I’m not a mind reader, but I have an idea or two.  If Prime Minister Harper has shown us one thing over the last three and a half years, it’s that he is a very shrewd and adept political strategist.  From my untrained perspective I can see two issues that are of much more importance than Afghanistan to the PM right now: the Senate and the budget.

The current breakdown of the Senate is as follows:

Affiliation Senators
  Conservative Party 46
  Liberal Party 49
  Progressive Conservative Caucus 2
  Independent 2
  No Affiliation 1
  Vacant 5
 Total as of January 2, 2010 105

If Harper uses this time to fill those 5 vacant seats, the balance of power in the Senate will tip to the Conservatives.  The Liberals, of course, are protesting this, saying that the PM will now be able to “ram through” his legislation.  Kind of like the Liberals have been doing for the last 30 years then, no?

That brings us to the budget.  With the entire world teetering on the brink of economic collapse (you didn’t think the recession was over did you?) I can’t think of a single more important issue for the PM to be addressing right now.  By proroguing, the PM has timed things so that the budget will be delivered as soon as parliament reconvenes and left the opposition parties little time to mount a protest against it.  This is both good and bad: bad because some questionable items may be pushed through without proper consideration; good because it effectively limits the ability of the opposition to topple the minority government. 

I can hear the protests already, “But..but..that’s undemocratic!”  No.  That’s simply the reality of our style of government – especially minority government.  People seem to have forgotten that minority governments are not so much about running the country as they are about political survival.  This is by no means new to Stephen Harper, but the general public tends to have a short memory.

Speaking of democracy, the Liberal Party is in no position to preach on that topic.  After all, it was their attempt to stage a coup against the democratically elected government of Canada that prompted the 2008 prorogation of parliament.  In Canada’s 142 years since confederation there has only ever been one coalition government.  That government was formed in 1917 when Robert Borden’s Unionist party – who had won a clear majority – requested a coalition with the Liberal Party during World War 1.  No matter which way you try to spin it, the Liberal Party’s attempt, with the help of the NDP and the Bloc, to usurp power from the Conservative Party can be called nothing other than a coup d’etat.  So no, they are in absolutely no position to speak on the topic of democracy.

On the topic of the people voicing their opinions, there were organized protests against prorogation held in 32 communities across the country yesterday.  Only 25,000 people turned up nationwide, including a mere 3,500 in Ottawa.  In 1994, by comparison, 10,000 protesters marched on Ottawa alone in an attempt to stop the passage of C-68, now known as the Firearms Act.  The people have spoken on the issue of prorogation, and they don’t care.

Cutting through all the media hype, sensationalism and fear-mongering, I think Harper’s decision had much more to do with political strategy than dodging responsibility.  Even if he did elect to prorogue because of the Afghan issue, he hasn’t prevented an inquiry, he has merely delayed it.  Regardless of his motives, his decision to prorogue was a gamble, and only time will tell if it was a mistake.

Political Correctness vs Democracy


Today we are urged to pause and ponder the sacrifices of those who have gone before us. It occurred to me that our soldiers fought a war with weapons (of which type it isn’t politically correct to mention by name) to stop a dictatorial regime (whose name isn’t politically correct to mention), who’s leader disarmed the race of people (who we don’t want to offend by mentioning) by registering and licensing their weapons (which we don’t want to mention for fear of offending anyone) prior to confiscation. Once that State held a monopoly on weapons it was easy for it to accomplish its ‘cleansing.’ In fact, the twentieth century saw eight major genocides preceeded by civilian disarmament rid the world of over 150 Million civilian lives.  During the World Wars, we realized that protecting innocent lives from genocide (can we mention that?) was a duty, and our brave citizens stepped up and sacrificed their lives for what we, collectively, believed.

I now wonder in this day of political correctness if there is anything we are willing to fight for. Sixty years later, in a bold denial of history, the United Nations is pushing a global Small Arms Treaty in the name of peace that will disarm civilian populations and leave a monopoly of firepower in the hands of the State – and criminal thugs (or is that redundant?) Sometimes Remembrance Day is a reminder of all we’ve forgotten.

~Keith Linton~

The above letter was written by a friend of mine in honour of Remembrance Day and submitted to several major newspapers across the country.  Unfortunately, it never made it to print.  I’m posting it here not just because it’s an excellent letter, but because it touches on so many points.  As much as I’d like to delve into what I think of the UN and the idea of civilian disarmament, today I’m going to focus on political correctness.  I think this letter is a beautifully satirical representation of what being PC has done to our society.

To put it quite bluntly, I think that political correctness is one of the biggest threats to democracy in our world today.  But, ironically, it’s not politically correct to discuss political correctness.

Before I get too far ahead of myself, allow me to take a step back and define “political correctness”.  It has its roots in Marxism-Leninism and has been in regular use since the 1960s.  However, it didn’t become “fashionable” until the 1990s when its use exploded.  The term “politically correct” was added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary in 1936, where it is defined as: conforming to a belief that language and practices which could offend political sensibilities (as in matters of sex or race) should be eliminated.  

In this age of “emotional enlightenment” when everyone is encouraged to express their feelings, we have become so oversensitive to causing offense to others, that our society has almost ground to a halt.  Nobody is willing to make the difficult decisions anymore because to do so is to guarantee that somebody somewhere will have their feelings hurt.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be concerned with other people’s feelings, but political correctness has gone way too far.  What began as an attempt to minimize social offense against certain minority/underprivileged groups, has evolved into a form of thought control and social engineering.  

Wait a second, did I say “thought control”? Yes, I did.  Political correctness doesn’t just impact the way we speak, it also affects the way we think.  When we are constantly thinking about whether or not we “should” be saying something, it changes how we think in general.  Instead of focussing on the ideas, we become focussed on the language being used to share those ideas.

Also, as much as our PC-trained minds tend to protest the fact, it’s no secret that some special interest groups are more equal than others, and that all special interest groups are more equal than the average citizen.  So, now we’re not just arguing over language, we’re also arguing over whose offended feelings take precedence in the PC battleground that we’ve created.

And while we’re busy arguing about whether or not the language is correct or whose feelings were hurt the most, the ideas get lost in the confusion.  Without the ideas, our society becomes stuck in an endless loop, forever arguing over words and feelings instead of moving forward with a purpose.  Most people are oblivious to this phenomenon, but there are many who are not only aware of it, they have no qualms about using it to their own advantage (this is where the “social engineering” part comes into play)

Vocal special interest groups hoard funding and push agendas in the name of some politically correct theme, playing on people’s fears and emotions.  They do this knowing it will take a brave soul to speak out against their cause.  After all, who would argue for greater privacy in the face of the scourge of child pornography? Who would argue for more freedom in the battle against “terrorism?” Who will push for gun rights even as deadly gang wars are waged on our streets?

It is the favoured tactic of the manipulator to frame her cause in such a way that her detractors, with their often insightful arguments, risk an affront to the PC Gods. It doesn’t matter that those detractors may be right – political correctness has become a weapon.

So what does the letter I quoted above have to do with all of this?  It all comes down to the line, “I now wonder in this day of political correctness if there is anything we are willing to fight for.”

Fear of social censure is no less damaging to a populace than fear of government/police retribution.  We, as a society, have become unwilling to voice our opinions for fear of offending people. We are unwilling to fight for what we believe in because we have been taught that our ideals must always be secondary to the feelings of others.  In that fear, we are no longer able to openly discuss the issues that impact our society.  When we cannot openly discuss an issue, it can never be solved. 

How long can we survive as a society when the important issues are ignored and swept under the rug?  And how can we claim to live in a democracy when the people are unwilling and/or unable to speak their mind?