Friday, May 22, 2009

was visiting, pt. 2


We've been considering Conservative Prime Ministers who, by the standards recently established by the Conservative Party, were merely visiting our country.

Exhibit #1 was Kim Campbell, who now lives in France and has not lived in Canada since 1993.

Exhibit #2 is Conservative R.B. Bennett, who retired from politics after losing the election of 1935. He stayed on as Leader of the Opposition until 1938, when he resigned and moved to England, where he was appointed to the House of Lords. Bennett died in 1947 and was buried in Mickleham, Surrey, becoming our only ex-PM not buried in Canada.

Again we must ask whether the fact that Bennett's actually left the country forever within months of leaving politics means that Conservative PM Bennett was "just visiting".

And again we see how vacuous the Conservative accusation is.

What is important is not what politicians do after they leave political office. What is important is what they will do while actually serving. And on this front they are failing miserably.

was visiting?

As everyone knows, the Conservatives have recently been attacking Michael Ignatieff. "Just visiting", they say, implying that he might leave the country if and when he retires from politics.

One wonders what they think about the post-political life of former Conservative Prime Minister, Kim Campbell, who since stepping down as leader of their party in 1993 has hardly been in Canada at all. Here is what can be pulled together from a visit to wikipedia (link):
  • she lectured at Harvard from 1993-1996;
  • she was consul general in Los Angelos from 1996-2000;
  • she again lectured at Harvard from 2001-2004;
  • she became president of the Internation Women's Forum and was based in Washington, D.C. from 2003-2005;
  • she currently lives in France.
Now, I think all fair-minded individuals would acknowledge that these are significant achievements of a successful woman. A credit both to her and to us.

But if the theoretical possibility of Ignatieff's future departure is enough to dismiss him as "just visiting", surely Kim Campbell's actual departure should make them conclude that she "was just visiting".

Which just goes to show how shallow and insipid the Conservative ad really is.  The question is not what Ignatieff (or Harper or Layton or anyone else) will do after they leave political office.  The question is what they will do in political office.  And this is a question the Conservatives want to avoid for obvious reasons.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Separatist on Parade, 11: Where did all the money go?

BCL points out that the Western Business and Taxpayers Association, a recently formed separatist group, is calling on its supporters to send in their pledged donations. David Crutcher, the WBTA's Executive Director, wrote them yesterday (see the screen cap at BCL).
I know it has been some time since we have contacted you and quite frankly that is because many of you have promised to lend your support, but have not done so.
The tone might be a little off. Saying something like "We've not contacted you because you've failed us. (Bad supporters! bad! bad!)" is unlikely to strengthen their bonds to the organization. Funny that.

Still, Crutcher's plea makes what he posted on the Blogging Tories discussion board in December a little more interesting. There he claimed that the WBTA had raised oodles of cash: $200,000. Here's a screen cap:

Now, it is unclear whether this $200,000 is money that was actually collected or merely pledged, or even a figment of someone's imagination. But if it is pledges that remain unsent, that would surely explains Crutcher's crankiness. Those no-good separatist supporters have bilked him out of some serious change!



Monday, May 04, 2009

Apocalypse deferred: Steyn's dystopic demographics in error

steyn demographicsThe Wilson Center has released a study on the important demographic trends of the coming decades (here). The punch-line? Demographic trends are not easy to predict and Europe's prognosis will not follow what some commentators have supposed.
Something dramatic has happened to the world’s birthrates. Defying predictions of demographic decline, northern Europeans have started having more babies. Britain and France are now projecting steady population growth through the middle of the century. In North America, the trends are similar. In 2050, according to United Nations projections, it is possible that nearly as many babies will be born in the United States as in China. …

The human habit is simply to project current trends into the future. Demographic realities are seldom kind to the predictions that result. The decision to have a child depends on innumerable personal considerations and larger, unaccountable societal factors that are in constant flux. Yet even knowing this, demographers themselves are often flummoxed. Projections of birthrates and population totals are often embarrassingly at odds with eventual reality.
And that panic about the Islamization of Europe? Apparently not so much.
Because of this bastardization of knowledge, three deeply misleading assumptions about demographic trends have become lodged in the public mind. The first is that mass migration into Europe, legal and illegal, combined with an eroding native population base, is transforming the ethnic, cultural, and religious identity of the continent. …

On the face of it, this seemed to bear out the thesis— something of a rallying cry among anti-immigration activists— that high birthrates among immigrant Muslims presage a fundamental shift in British demography. Similar developments in other European countries, where birthrates among native- born women have long fallen below replacement level, have provoked considerable anxiety about the future of Europe’s traditionally Christian culture. Princeton professor emeritus Bernard Lewis, a leading authority on Islamic history, suggested in 2004 that the combination of low European birthrates and increasing Muslim immigration means that by this century’s end, Europe will be “part of the Arabic west, of the Maghreb.” If non- Muslims then flee Europe, as Middle East specialist Daniel Pipes predicted in The New York Sun, “grand cathedrals will appear as vestiges of a prior civilization— at least until a Saudi- style regime transforms them into mosques or a Taliban- like regime blows them up.”

One fact that gets lost … is that the birthrates of Muslim women in Europe—and around the world—have been falling significantly for some time. Data on birthrates among different religious groups in Europe are scarce, but they point in a clear direction. Between 1990 and 2005, for example, the fertility rate in the Netherlands for Moroccan-born women fell from 4.9 to 2.9, and for Turkish- born women from 3.2 to 1.9. In 1970, Turkish- born women in Germany had on average two children more than German- born women. By 1996, the difference had fallen to one child, and it has now dropped to half that number.

These sharp reductions in fertility among Muslim immigrants reflect important cultural shifts, which include universal female education, rising living standards, the inculcation of local mores, and widespread availability of contraception. Broadly speaking, birthrates among immigrants tend to rise or fall to the local statistical norm within two generations.
You can read the whole thing here.