Saturday, December 31, 2005

Buckets endorses ...

Like many Canadians, my voting decisions are formed through negative influences rather than positive ones. No one who has read my blogging efforts, I think, will be surprised to learn that I don't support the Conservative Party, and many have assumed therefore that I support the Liberals. I have voted Liberal in the past, and may in the future, but probably will not this time. (I say 'probably' because I find the Conservative candidate in my riding deeply unsatisfactory, and only the Liberal candidate stands a reasonable chance of defeating him. I may in the end hold my nose and vote Liberal.)

But it strikes me that an important principle that I believe in is that there are candidates in all parties who would be an asset to Canada, and others who deserve support to keep unworthy candidates from holding office.

Therefore I've set myself an exercise, and encourage all bloggers to do likewise: to endorse candidates from across the country in all parties and give a brief rationale.

I welcome comments that adhere to my comments policy.

Conservative MP calls Free Dominion 'extreme' but spoke at its banquet

In the aftermath of Psycho/Stamp's resignation, the Edmonton Sun interviewed Conservative MP Peter Goldring (here). Naturally, Goldring distanced himself from Stamp's separatist sympathies. He also commented on the site at which Stamp made these posts:
'Goldring called Free Dominion "extreme" in its views.'
One might ask how he knows this. It might have something to do with Goldring's speech to Free Dominion banquet several years ago, a speech that's still available on his website:

(Hattip to Dan)

More Stampy goodness

Edmonton blogger Idealistic Pragmatist has found some more pro-separatism material of Mr. Stamp's over at Project Alberta, where he publishes under the pen name 'Gord S.'

Update Project Alberta is now discussing Psycho/Stamp's views, who posts there under the pen name 'Gord S.' Note again the troublesome quote that I discusses earlier: Stamp says that a Conservative MP from Edmonton had told him--in front of the riding president--that there were separatists on his board. A Project Alberta poster identifies the MP as Goldring. That assumption might be incorrect. Here what Psycho/Stamp said (here):
It was funny sitting at a table a few months ago when one long term MP, our Board president and I were in a conversation. Our president was telling the MP that although most of the people he worked with supported separatism, it wasn't going to fly. The MP told him to check out his Board because he would find separatist sentiment.

Update 2 Some more problematic quotations of Stamp:

In mid-June, 2005, mid-way into a thread called "It's time for a Alberta Delcaration of Independence", someone asked "Why should we stay in Confederation????", Psycho/Stamp answered: "Honestly, I see no reason."

On June 12, 2005: "However, I honestly see no benefit for Alberta to remain part of Canada. Seriously, there is absolutely nothing that Canada as a nation offers me. " (his emphasis)

On Aug. 3, 2005, in a thread called Alberta A Future of Wealth and Separatism, Psycho Stamp presented a list of his grievances against Canada which he concluded thus: "I know that if I were given a ballot today, I would not vote to join Canada"

On Aug. 4, 2005: Psycho wrote: "Actually, I tell everyone I know that there is no reason for Alberta to remain part of Canada."

On Aug. 5, 2005: Letter to the editor to the Toronto Star (apparently never published): "If you actually analyze where Canada was 40 years ago and where we are today, Canada as a nation has no moral reason to exist. And Alberta will be the first to leave this dysfunctional family. "

Update 3. Another quote of Stamp following the last election is worth quoting (here):
"We just went through the most corrupt and incompetent government in Canada's history and we have to wait some more????

Ontario has endorsed corruption at the highest level of government.

The break-up of Canada was solely their decision. Alberta will take our $9 billion a year and invest it in our own health care system. Ontario can buy Eastern Canadian votes with someone else's money.

There are NO more years to wait - I will not sacrifice my morals and values to gain power - Ontario voters want corruption and lies - I refuse to live under that mandate!!!!! "

(hattip to poster Sifo-Dyas at Babble)

Separation Party of Alberta train-wreck

Since Alberta separatism is topical, readers might be interested in the train wreck of the Separation Party of Alberta. In short, at last month's convention/AGM (attended by 30 members), the leader and board were deposed, but they refuse to recognize the vote. The party is locked in stasis and may be deregistered.  For the details, see this thread at Project Alberta., including these posts:

Friday, December 30, 2005

Conservative ex-official on CPC discussions about separatism

As you know, Gordon Stamp, aka "psycho" from Free Dominion has resigned his post as Peter Goldring's campaign manager (see here).

This is a positive step: there is no room in the Conservative Party for separatists or proto-separatists. Still, I want to return to the exchange that started this ball rolling, Psycho (aka Gord Stamp) wrote (here):
Many of us in Alberta are working on our last federal campaign if the Liberals remain in power - we will be working on Alberta separation after January 23...
Hailey answered here:
I don't think that western separation is at all realistic. It's been talked about since the 1980s and they've yet to win a seat. Those who are separatists ALWAYS talk about wanting to separate and it's always right around the corner...blah, blah, blah.
and here:
What makes you so certain? Western separatism has been talked about for over 2 decades without any outcome. Not a single election of a MP.
Psycho's response here:
I am not sure how closely you are working with the local campaign in your riding but I am fairly positive 1/2 our campaign team will be working for separation after January 23 if the Liberals remain in power.
Hailey responds here:
I've heard that Rahim Jaffer has a significant number of western separatists working on his campaign and I quite believe that. That's Rahim. I've heard the same thing about Rajotte - not sure I am convinced though.
Now, when I first posted this exchange, it was unclear whether Psycho knew what he was talking about. Now that we know that Psycho/Stamp was well-connected within his riding association, I think this deserves another look.

Stamp sometimes claims to be a separatist, sometimes he will become one if the Liberals win the next election. The difference is slight: separatist, proto-separatist, or crypto-separatist, this man did not belong in the Conservative party.

But he says here that there are others, a point that he elaborates soon after (here):
As far as I know, not one CPC candidate in Edmonton supports separatism - and I have met them all. In fact they are busting their butts trying to save Canada.

My point was that many CPC volunteers will support Alberta separatism if the Liberals stay in power. And the Edmonton area CPC candidates know that.

It was funny sitting at a table a few months ago when one long term MP, our Board president and I were in a conversation. Our president was telling the MP that although most of the people he worked with supported separatism, it wasn't going to fly. The MP told him to check out his Board because he would find separatist sentiment. I smiled and raised my hand - if looks could kill...

The point is that the CPC candidates know what is going on.
Now, I'm sure that everyone is happy to learn that none of the Edmonton CPC candidates are separatists. What is stunning is that Psycho/Stamp, who was important enough in the local organization to be made campaign manager, claims (1) that his riding president told a CPC MP that "most of the people he worked with supported separatism", the MP told him that there was separatist sentiment in his board, and that Psycho/Stamp admitted to it in front of them.

and here comes the main stream media

CTV now has now reported Stamp's resignation.

Edmonton Sun

CFRA Talk Radio

Globe and Mail

Edmonton Journal


National Post

the last time I did this…

… it took 190 days for him to quit. From Inkless Wells:
Statement by Peter Goldring:

"This evening I learned about comments posted on the internet by Mr. Gordon Stamp, who has been serving as manager of my campaign in Edmonton East. I was deeply disturbed by these comments, which in no way reflect my views or those of the Conservative Party. To the contrary, I have spent my entire adult life fighting for a united Canada, and, in fact, was drawn into public service to fight for Canada as a united federation.

"Mr. Stamp has stepped down as the campaign manager for Edmonton East."
Mr. Wells adds

That took two hours and twenty-two minutes after the posting below. Mr. Harper and Mr. Goldring seem a decisive couple of guys. Meanwhile about half the readers on are writing emails to me and posting my replies. Hi everyone!

Conservative Official: Alberta Agenda not stong enough

Over at Free Dominion, Conservative campaign chair, Gord Stamp (aka "psycho") has been long arguing that Alberta must separate. Consider his discussion of his opinion of Ted Morton's candidacy for leadership of the Alberta PC Party. Morton, as many will recall, was one of the author (along with Harper and his chief-of-staff Flanagan) of the so-called 'Fire-wall' letter, which advocated (among other things) that Alberta withdraw from the Canada Pension Plan, collect its own income taxes, etc. At this post:
Because the major injustices to Alberta (that he previously stated) would not be solved under [Ted Morton's] strategy. The laws of Canada would over rule Alberta; Ottawa would still take our $12 billion annually and allocate it to corruption...

What that meant is that first the CPC had to be elected federally with Morton as provincial leader. Only then would accountability be put in place. If the Liberals remained in power, we needed someone who would would be willing to take the next step. So I asked Ted if he would consideration separation if nothing else worked. He said "No!".

At that point I realized Alberta needed someone stronger than Morton.
There is no other way to interpret these words, I think, but that Mr. Stamp disagrees with current Conservative policy. Which all raises the question--what is this guy doing in the Conservative Party?

Stamp refuses to support Morton because Morton does not consider separatism as an option, but he's willing to support Harper who is equally (I assume) opposed to Alberta separatism. In doing this, he's doing a disservice to his own separatism and to Harper's federalism.

"Mr. Goldring and Mr. Harper have a decision to make"

Over at Inkless Wells:
Probably it's not a good idea... engage, as your campaign chairman, an Alberta separatist who writes, prolifically, on assorted blogs using the pseudonym "psycho."

The evidence is mounting that Peter Goldring didn't get that particular memo.

Now Mr. Goldring and Mr. Harper have a decision to make.

Conservative Official: "Alberta has no future in Canada", easterners are "idiots"

As I've been posting over the last couple days, Gordon Stamp, Conservative campaign manager in Edmonton East, is a prolific poster on Free Dominion and other boards. He clearly identifies himself as a separatist and says so on many occasions. Consider what he wrote July 21, 2005::
SSM was not an election issue. Canadian voters never really considered that - which is why the Liberals are terrified to have that "hot potato" around in the upcoming election. That is why they shoved it through both the House of Commons and the Senate - they know most voters are stupid and will forget that the next time they vote.

Which confirms to me that Alberta has no future in Canada. We refuse to be ruled by a corrupt dictatorship that continually stays in power by a bunch of eastern voting idiots."

(Hattip to Reality Bites in the comments.) (edited)

Conservative Official: "Canada has no moral reason to exist"

In my previous post, I pointed out that the Conservative campaign manager in Edmonton East is a self-confessed separatist who regularly posts on Free Dominion and (I assume) elsewhere.

In them, he often has negative things to say about Canada. On June 24, 2005, he posted a thread entitled (Canada has no moral reason to exist), which begins as follows:
Why does Canada have no moral reason to exist?

To understand the concept, one must define morality. Morality usually defined as “concern with the distinction between good and evil or right and wrong; right or good conduct”

Good versus Evil; Right versus Wrong. Simple concept...

Canada used to stand for Good; now it represents Evil. And Evil has no right to exist.

For example:

A woman’s right to choose used to mean the choice to get married or not; to work at home or in the workforce.

Now it means having the right to drink and do drugs while pregnant. Thousands of children are born with physical and mental defects.
The post continues expressing the same sorts of sentiments, which you can read for yourself, if you choose, by following the link given above.

This is the kind of stuff that one finds quite a bit of at Free Dominion (his post met with approval of several posters). Still, I'm sure I'm not the only one who's surprised to find such a thing being expressed by someone who is not just a member of the conservative party and is given positions of authority there.

Update. Stamp used the statement "Canada has no reason to exist" to conclude many posts at Free Dominion and other sites over several months.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Alberta separatists in the CPC (3): who is Psycho?

The last two postings have been exploring the influence of Alberta separatists within the Conservative Party. It isn't very hard to find it, once you begin looking for it. When the right wing Small Dead Animals held an awards contest, second place for the best post went to one called the Tipping Point called for the west to separate. One could go on.

Much of such talk is of course little more than barroom banter. In the last two posts (here and here), however, we have seen that prolific poster Psycho, claims that half their campaign team are separatists (here) and that Conservative candidates in Edmonton know this (here).

So, who is Psycho, and can we believe what he says? Let's begin with what he has said about himself:
  • he is a campaign manager (here)
  • his MP is Peter Goldring (here)
  • his first name is Gord (here, here, and here)
  • he gives his email as (here)
  • the Edmonton Journal mentions that a Gordon Stamp is campaign manager for Peter Goldring.
It seems, then, that the Conservatives have a party official who is a self-avowed separatist.

Update Some lively discussion over at the Babble forums about this here. (Hattip to 'Reality Bites'.)

Racism in the blogosphere

Go check it out

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Alberta separatists in the CPC (2)?

Picking up where we left of in the last post, I draw your attention to the conservative discussion board FreeDominion, where poster Psycho discusses the prevalence of Alberta separatists in the Conservative party in Edmonton (here):
As far as I know, not one CPC candidate in Edmonton supports separatism - and I have met them all. In fact they are busting their butts trying to save Canada.

My point was that many CPC volunteers will support Alberta separatism if the Liberals stay in power. And the Edmonton area CPC candidates know that.

It was funny sitting at a table a few months ago when one long term MP, our Board president and I were in a conversation. Our president was telling the MP that although most of the people he worked with supported separatism, it wasn't going to fly. The MP told him to check out his Board because he would find separatist sentiment. I smiled and raised my hand - if looks could kill...

The point is that the CPC candidates know what is going on. They (as Preston Manning did) are trying to stave off the destruction of Canada.

But I firmly believe that if the Liberals stay in power - it is all over. I am just trying to educate everyone that now is NOT the time to pretend Albertans will live under a corrupt and immoral Liberal government...

Something for you to think about.
Much of this, of course, sounds of the barroom pontificator. Except, again, that this poster claims to be an activist within the Conservative Party, claims to know all the CPC candidates, and (most troubling) claims to have admitted his separatist views in front of CPC functionaries and an MP.

He is important enough within the local organization that he was delegated to meet John Reynolds at the airport when he came to speak at a recent fundraiser (here) and he was trusted enough to be told that Grewal would not be seeking re-election a week before this was announced (here; cf. here).

Unless this is all fabrication, Mr. Psycho is an important person within the Edmonton CPC.

Alberta separatists in the CPC?

Free Dominion describes itself as the 'Voice of Principled Conservatism' and contains a wide-range of Conservative opinion ranging from the centre-right to the far-right to the extreme far-right.

Anyway one of their more prolific posters, Psycho, makes a point that has been made all too glibly in Conservative circles in recent years (here):
Many of us in Alberta are working on our last federal campaign if the Liberals remain in power - we will be working on Alberta separation after January 23...
Hailey responds here:
I don't think that western separation is at all realistic. It's been talked about since the 1980s and they've yet to win a seat. Those who are separatists ALWAYS talk about wanting to separate and it's always right around the corner...blah, blah, blah.
and here:
What makes you so certain? Western separatism has been talked about for over 2 decades without any outcome. Not a single election of a MP.
Psycho responds here:
I am not sure how closely you are working with the local campaign in your riding but I am fairly positive 1/2 our campaign team will be working for separation after January 23 if the Liberals remain in power.
Hailey responds here:
I've heard that Rahim Jaffer has a significant number of western separatists working on his campaign and I quite believe that. That's Rahim. I've heard the same thing about Rajotte - not sure I am convinced though.
Should we take such rumours seriously? One might be sceptical.

But Psycho clearly self-identifies as a separatist, and speaks with some authority as an insider within his local constituency.

Nor is this a new story. Myron Thompson and Darrell Stinson, both Conservative MPs in the last parliament (Stinson has retired, Thompson is running for easy re-election), attended the founding convention of the Alberta Independence Party some years ago, Thompson making vague statements of support.

So, the question is how many such separatists are there working for the Conservatives in Alberta?

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Hiding Agendas: Cindy Silver, North Vancouver: summary thread

Over the last week we've been re-examining Cindy Silver's positions on social issues over the last decade or so and the degree to which she has either abandoned her agenda or is hiding it.

We have seen that Ms. Silver has
  • organized petitions urging Parliament not to include homosexuals under human rights legislation lest it imply approval of homosexuality;
  • argued before a Senate committee against outlawing discimination against homosexuals in matters of employment;
  • testified as a private individual before the Justice Committee, arguing that allowing gays to marry will marginalize those opposed or cause them to change their views;
  • written articles that encourage people to lobby politicians to endorse a social conservative agenda, which (among other things) included condemnations of sexual education in schools, rights for homosexuals, pre-marital sex, abortion, birth-control (here).
This list is by no means an exhaustive account of Ms. Silver's efforts for the social conservative movement over the last decade. What is interesting now is that Ms Silver is distancing herself from her record.
  • She now suggests that these positions were as a lawyer representing her clients -- she was in-house lawyer for Focus on the Family and legal counsel for other groups in this period: see here.
  • She is also removing the endorsements of social conservatives from her campaign website: here, here, and here
I will keep this post updated with new developments on the Cindy Silver front.Cindy Silver West Vancouver

Update. Over at E-blogs Canada, Koby raises the question of blood-libel. In 1995, Focus on the Family circulated a letter accusing China of (among other things) serving aborted fetuses. Koby asks the question whether Silver, as Focus on the Family Canada's legal counsel, was involved in the circulation of this letter.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Hiding Agendas (7): Cindy Silver on women's rights

Over the last week or so I've been blogging about Cindy Silver, the Conservative candidate in North Vancouver. When there was concern expressed last summer about the growing influence of the Christian Right in the Conservative Party, Ms. Silver (who had for a time was legal counsel for Focus on the Family Canada) was cited as a prime example.

Silver herself has been trying to down-play that assocation for some time. In an interview, last year (see here), she insisted that her work with Focus on the Family was behind her and that her own positions on social issues are not identical with those of Focus on the Family (cf. here).

There are reasons to be sceptical. First there is the matter of her endorsements from social Conservatives that have gone missing from her website (see here, here, and here). Second, there are Cindy Silver's actions and words as a private individual: including opposition to human rights protections for homosexuals (here and here).

To these can be added an article that Ms. Silver co-wrote in 1997 for Canadian Citizen Magazine, a publication of Focus on the Family Canada. The article (which is archirved here), reports on the First World Congress of Families, which was held in Prague in that year. The Congress was a reaction to recent UN conferences on the Famly and Women. From the first paragraph of Silver's article:
At a series of United Nations conferences, the industrialized world lobbied hard for such policies as universal abortion-on-demand, artificial methods of contraception, sterilization, mandatory sex education, gender equality and homosexual rights.
The recent congress opposed this
But now there's an alternative. Last March, at the World Congress of Families, about 700 pro-family delegates representing 45 nations from every continent gathered in Prague, the Czech republic, to craft A Declaration from the World Congress of Families to the Governments of the Globe that reasserts the importance of family as the basic unit of society. The Congress was organized in response to the UN's "Year of the Family" in 1994 and was sponsored by The Rockford Institute (USA).
Silver reports the participation of Canadians, including Sharon Hayes (whose endorsement Silver has recently been removed from her website) and Gwen Landolt (head of REAL women).

Silver's article is more than a mere report, however. She encourages readers to "make your local municipal council and your provincial government aware of this Declaration. Ask them to affirm or endorse it." Then parts of the declaration are quoted. Following a preamble stressing the importance of God and family, and declarations that include a statement of bad policy:
WE DECLARE that policies which undermine the family erode the bedrock of society, thereby undermining the very source of their own authority. Such policies include:
  1. subverting the legal and religious status of traditional marriage;
  2. using population control and abortion as vehicles of state policy for any social, economic, political or other reason;
  3. establishing policies that create gender or generational war, setting husband against wife, wife against husband or child(ren) against parent(s);
  4. maintaining state school systems that focus education on state ends and neglect or oppose parental rights and responsibilities;
  5. providing state welfare systems that undermine intact families and discourage the presence of fathers and imposing coercive tax policies that force both parents to work full time outside the home;
  6. funding and promoting contraception, abortifacients and sterilization programs that promote immoral behaviour;
  7. funding or promoting those sex education/indoctrination programs that have been shown to increase promiscuity, sexually-transmitted disease, unwanted pregnancy, illegitimacy and teen-age pregnancy; and
  8. creating state policies that give encouragement to non-marital cohabitation, homosexual unions and single-parenting as the norm in society.
Then there follows a list of approved policies:
WE DECLARE that communities in harmony with human nature exhibit common traits in custom and law that include:
  1. recognition of religion as a common, necessary foundation of family life;
  2. affirmation of marriage as a lifelong covenant between a man and a woman and the only legitimate province for sexual intimacy;
  3. recognition that there is no profession that has a higher status than motherhood;
  4. encouragement of the extended family as a source of added security and continuity for humanity;
  5. celebration of the conception and birth of children;
  6. welcome of large families;
  7. respect for the dignity of human life from conception to natural death;
  8. respect for the distinctive traits of manhood and womanhood as biologically determined and not as socially constructed;
  9. respect for the right of families to ownership of private property, productive land, shelter and capital;
  10. encouragement for family business and enterprises without interference or state intrusion;
  11. recognition that husband and wife have the sole responsibility for deciding the size of their family using non-abortifacient, morally acceptable natural family planning;
  12. encouragement of an economic climate and taxation policies in which the family wage may prevail, thereby allowing parents, to take full care of their own children;
  13. recognition of the social value of marriage and the value of the presence of dependent children and aged parents in the home; and
  14. proscriptions against the commercialization of sexuality and the promotion of promiscuity and pornography.
This is, of course, a veritable shopping-list of social conservative policies, including the promotion of religion (#1), condemnation of pre-marital sex (#2), abortion and birth-control (#5, #7, #11).

How, then, are we to judge Cindy Silver's claims that she is a social moderate? There's not much moderate about this agenda. And can Ms. Silver dodge behind her role as Focus on the Family's lawyer? I'm not sure. This article looks to me like pure advocacy. The fact that she now finds this article's contents inconvenient does not mean that she's not responsible for writing it, endorsing it, and encouraging her social conservative readership to advance its agenda.Cindy Silver West Vancouver

For other Cindy Silver posts, follow the link.

Life lesson #2341: avoid false syllogisms

One lives and learns. I've learned a new principle. Avoid any syllogism that begins: "no one could be that stupid …". That's a sure loser.

Over at Calgary Grit, I expressed my skepticism about Klandergate. The reason that I was sceptical? "No one could be that stupid…"

The proof that I was wrong. From The Toronto Star, December 23, 2005 Friday ( Pg. A06):
Federal New Democrats are mad about a blog posting by an Ontario Liberal organizer comparing NDP candidate Olivia Chow to a dog.

The web page, operated by Mike Klander, showed a picture of Chow, wife of NDP Leader Jack Layton, and below it a picture of a "Chow Chow" dog with the caption "Separated at Birth." In fact, the dog resembles a Pekingese, which had some New Democrats crying racism. The blog was removed soon after the Star contacted senior Liberals seeking comment.

"I further understand he (Klander) has apologized. Those were, in my view, the appropriate actions," said Steve MacKinnon, executive director of the Liberal Party.

Chow said she was "saddened" by the swipe: "I'll debate policy anytime but to descend to this level is quite disappointing.

Update. Over at Somena Media, Meaghan points out that some of those who have been piling on in the recent Klandergate episode have endulged in similar behaviour themselves.

Update 2. For the best summary of Klander blog affair follow the link to Idealistic Pragmatist.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Hiding Agendas (6): Cindy Silver's appearance before the justice committee

As many of you know, I've been posting over the last week about the career of Cindy Silver, the Conservative candidate in North Vancouver. As I noted here, she denies that she belongs to the religious right, and that her work lobbying for Focus and the Family and other organizations was as a lawyer working for a client, a point that she's made in other contexts (see here, for example.) She has also removed endorsements from Christian Conservatives (see here, here, and here).

What are we to make of Ms. Silver's newfound moderation? For your reading pleasure you might want to check out the minutes of the parliamentary justice committee from April 1, 2003 (here). The theme was (as you might guess) gay marriage and at 11:50 who should appear to make a statement but Cindy Silver. Here she appears as an individual (elsewhere she appeared as someone's lawyer). Anyway, here is the transcript from her testimony:
Ms. Cindy Silver (Lawyer, As Individual): I'd like to thank the members of the justice and human rights committee for the opportunity to appear before you this morning to speak on such an important issue as the future of marriage in Canada.

During the marriage trials, it became evident that EGALE and their partner groups for challenging marriage are not simply seeking equal benefits before and under the law, but are really seeking to ensure and expedite broad social approval for same-sex unions and, by implication, for homosexual conduct. It is really this that is at the heart of the marriage challenge. It is an attempt to use the disciplinary power of language to exact change in people's beliefs and attitudes regarding the moral nature of homosexual conduct.

One of the linguistics experts for EGALE explained how redefining marriage would enlist social institutions in reconstructing people's beliefs in reference to the nature of homosexuality. This is possibly the most disturbing aspect of the same-sex movement, because it is likely that Canadians who for reasons of conscience or faith sincerely believe that marriage is, by nature, heterosexual will likely feel pressure or compulsion from social institutions, such as government agencies, the mass media, the publishing industry, public education and post-secondary institutions, to either limit their participation in the public square or conform their beliefs to the newly minted meaning of marriage.
So these are her opinions, not her clients. She goes on, it should be noted, to argue for the creation of civil unions for gays. But what is her ultimate argument? Don't let gays marry because social conservatives might feel marginalized or might in time come to accept the change.

Now, don't get me wrong. Cindy Silver is free to appear before committees of parliament and argue for what she believes in. Indeed, she should be praised for her commitment. Flying to Ottawa wlll have been an expensive and time-consuming business. But in a sense that's my point. Cindy Silver now wants to make it seem that same-sex marriage is not all that important to her. Surely, however, her testimony before the justice committee undermines that. Stopping same-sex marriage is important to her and she should admit that more openly.

For other Cindy Silver posts, follow the link.

Friday, December 23, 2005

I suggest that we go straight to the feats of strength…

I want to join Jason in wishing a happy Festivus to all. Given that we've been in the airing of grievances stage since the election was called, I suggest we go straight to the feats of strength.

Revenge of the socons

As regular readers know, I've been tracking the influence of the religious right within the Conservative Party since last summer. (See here, here, and here, for example).

Nor is my concern isolated--there has been concern expressed within the Conservative party over their role. In Sudbury, for example, the nomination of a Pentacostal pastor prompted a former Conservative candidate to quit the party (here); there were similar repercussions in Richmond following Darrel Reid's nomination (here).

There are new developments on this front. There are a handful of Conservative politicians whose voting record or publicly stated positions disappoint social conservatives (cf. here). Two of the more prominent in this group are Jame Moore in Port Moody, B.C., and John Baird in Ottawa-West Nepean. Both are prominent, promising, moderate conservatives; both are potential cabinet ministers in any future Conservative government. Both now have prominent local conservatives running against them because they do not toe the anti-ssm line.

The story can be read at Lifesite, which is closely associated with the Campaign Life Coalition, an anti-abortion group.

The aim is nothing less than to defeat these two Conservatives. Consider Pacheco's statement:
“If our campaign were to attract enough votes away from the Conservative Party in Ottawa West Nepean for Baird to lose, the Conservatives will get the message that social conservatives are serious about their politics,” Pacheco emphasized. “Moreover, since the next Parliament is likely to be a minority one again, the Conservative Party, should they lose the seat this election, will think twice about running another anti-family candidate again in two years time. On the other hand, if John Baird wins, the voters of Ottawa West Nepean will likely be represented by him for years and years to come, and there will be no chance of having their socially conservative views of marriage and family represented. In fact, quite the opposite will happen.”
Similar thoughts are expressed by Greg Watrich at his website (here):
Many of us in Port Moody-Westwood-Port Coquitlam voted for our current MP in previous elections. He has served us well in many ways over the years. However, it has become clear that our local Conservative MP has rejected one of the main commitments of his party from the previous election - to defend the traditional definition of marriage. Even after massive public protests, he has chosen to support the Liberals Same-Sex Marriage Legislation.

The Conservative Party has mandated that incumbent MPs can not be challenged for the nomination to be the party candidate in the upcoming federal election. Consequently, many Conservative Party members are supporting me to challenge our MP as an Independent candidate in the upcoming election to give each of us in Port Moody-Westwood-Port Coquitlam the opportunity to vote to restore our traditional values.
The attitude reflected here is highly dangerous for the Conservative Party, and (in my opinion) for the country. Not only are social conservatives organizing to win nominations within the party (which they are entitled to do), but they're willing to wreck the party's chances in ridings where they lose. If we take Pacheco at his word, a Baird win would make the riding association more difficult to take over next time; a Baird loss gives them another kick at the can.

While there may be those who take pleasure in this Conservative civil war--"it couldn't happen to a nicer party"--I respectfully disagree. One way or the other, we will eventually have a Conservative government in this country. It would do us all good if they somehow made themselves fit for that task.


Thursday, December 22, 2005

Hiding Agendas (5): Cindy Silver's appearance before the senate

As I've been pointing out, Cindy Silver, the Conservative candidate in Vancouver North, wants to portray herself as a social moderate, asserting to a reporter from the North Shore News (here) that several of the positions that she publicly took as in-house lawyer for Focus on the Family were not her views, but those of her client.

This cannot stand-up to much scrutiny. In April 1996 she appeared before a senate committee discussing extending federal civil rights protections in matters of employment and provision of services to gays. You can read the whole day's testimony in Hansard (here). But this extract strikes me as especially telling:
I would want to pose the question to the Senate on this issue: How would sexual orientation be protected? I have three children between the ages of 13 and 5. If this bill is passed, what we teach them at home will be different from what they will learn at school. Already, there are pamphlets dealing with homophobia. Homophobia is everyone's problem. The fact is that I am not homophobic. I happen to believe that homosexuality is wrong. If that makes me homophobic, then these pamphlets are telling my children that their mother is homophobic and putting a very nasty name to something which I feel is a deeply held conviction."
What are we to make here of Ms. Silver's excuse that her arguments were as a lawyer and therefore potentially not her views?

Yes, she did appear at the senate as Focus on the Family's lawyer. But her argument here steps from the lawyerly to the personal. She asserts that she didn't want discrimination against homosexuals in employement to be outlawed because she thought that this would make it harder to teach her children that homosexuality is wrong. That may be consistent with her clients' view. But she is not talking about their children but her own.

For other Cindy Silver posts, follow the link.

Hiding Agendas (4): Cindy Silver's petition against recognizing gay relationships

As I've pointed out in several points, it seems that Cindy Silver, Conservative Canadidate in North Vancouver, is trying to portray herself as a social moderate. In a story about her in the North Shore News, Ms. Silver denies being a social conservative at all, and claims that she did not share all the positions that she had to take while she was lawyer for Focus on the Family. This may well be true. Only Ms. Silver knows her own mind.

There are occasions in her career where her actions seem to belie any suggestion of moderation. Here is one of them.

Parliamentary Hansard of Oct. 7, 1994:
Mr. Ted White (North Vancouver): Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36 I would like to present a petition from Cindy Silver and 98 others where the petitioners pray and request that Parliament not amend the human rights code, the Canadian Human Rights Act or the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in any way which would tend to indicate societal approval of same sex relationships or of homosexuality, including amending the human rights code to include in the prohibited grounds of discrimination the undefined phrase sexual orientation.
Ten years ago, Ms. Silver petitioned parliament not to allow any legal recognition of gay relationships. The fact that she is mentioned by name suggests that she not merely signed the petition, but organized it.

Now, maybe her thinking has evolved on this issue, as it has for many of us. But if that is the case, a more forthright acknowledgement of the change and complete clarity of what she will vote for is in order.

(If Ms. Silver or her agents, who seem to read this site, wish to comment, they can email me at

For other Cindy Silver posts, follow the link.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Hiding Agendas (3): look ma, no endorsements!

As you may know, last week I posted about changes to the endorsement page at the website of Cindy Silver, Conservative Candidate for North Vancouver.

It began when someone noticed that Ms. Silver had been endorsed by Sharon Hayes, a former Reform MP who is now on the board of directors of Focus on the Family Canada, for which Silver worked. Someone decided, it seems, that Ms. Hayes' endorsement was not worth keeping and it was deleted (see here, with screenshots).

The old pages were still available through google-cache, however. Once someone noticed that the change had been noticed, the google-cache was purged (see here).

Not only that, but it seems that one of the remaining endorsements contained something that Ms. Silver's campaign managers found awkward. One of her remaining endorsements implied that she was anti-abortion. Here it is:
Cindy Silver North Vancouver

But compare yesterday's page to this morning's:

Cindy Silver North Vancouver

Notice the difference? Cindy Silver's website no longer gives links to her own endorsement page. It is, as I write this, still there if you go to But please go see it now. Who knows how much longer it will last?

For other Cindy Silver posts, follow the link.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Hiding Agendas (2): learning the code

The North Shore News recently published a fairly sympathetic story about Cindy Silver, Conservative candidate in North Vancouver which included this:
Silver is still smarting from an opinion column in the Globe and Mail several months ago that described her as a member of the "religious right." Much of the controversy stems from Silver's five-year stint as in-house lawyer for Focus on the Family, a group which has lobbied against gay marriage and been active on other social issues.

Silver says that was a job and she does not share all of the views of the organization, such as those on abortion. "I'm for respectful disagreement," she says.
Fair enough. But look again at Ms. Silver's endorsement page (which I've pasted at the botton of this post.) Among her endorsements is one from Iain T. Benson, described as a lawyer, speaker and writer. He says about her
"[Cindy Silver] is concerned about the dignity of human person – all human persons – and that is the kind of voice Canada needs more of"
So what's the problem? Unless I'm completely missing the point, "all human persons" is a code for the unborn. Mr. Benson (as you can see by googling him, is Executive Director of The Centre for Cultural Renewal, a think-tank that aims at reinvigorating the religious element in public discourse, which in itself may be a worthy goal. Most of what he writes is serious and thoughtful and deserving serious engagement in the spirit in which it is offered.

But what does Mr. Benson mean here, unless to assure to pro-lifers that Ms. Silver is one of them? She believes, he assures us, in the dignity of all human persons.

Ms. Silver wants to assure voters that she is not a prolifer, but includes on her website an endorsement that implies that she is anti-abortion:
Cindy Silver North Vancouver

(On Ms. Silver's other attempts to distance herself from the prolife, Focus on the Family see here.)

For other Cindy Silver posts, follow the link.

Hiding agendas

Blogger Koby here and here discusses again the question of why Cindy Silver, Conservative nominee in North Vancouver has removed the endorsement of Sharon Hayes from her webpage (see here). Apparently Ms. Silver's web-people have made it so that the google cache was purged (for the method, see here).

The point is not trivial one. The decision to get one person or another to endorse a candidate may be a bit arbitrary, but the decision to remove one is less so. To go to the effort of covering-up the fact that an endorsement ever existed surely suggests a clearly defined objective here: to obscure Ms. Silver's association with Focus for the Family and its director Sharon Hayes. (For some speculation about what it is in Ms. Hayes past that is so embarrassing see Koby.)

Part of this is a campaign decision. Clearly Cindy Silver wants to minimize her association with Focus with the Family, for whom she worked. And so, in the recent piece about her in the North Shore News:
Another woman tells her that she's praying Stephen Harper will get in - literally. "Prayer will do it," she says, smiling.

Truthfully, it's not the kind of comment Silver is keen to receive in public.

Silver is still smarting from an opinion column in the Globe and Mail several months ago that described her as a member of the "religious right." Much of the controversy stems from Silver's five-year stint as in-house lawyer for Focus on the Family, a group which has lobbied against gay marriage and been active on other social issues.

Silver says that was a job and she does not share all of the views of the organization, such as those on abortion. "I'm for respectful disagreement," she says.

Silver says she would have preferred to see gay marriage handled as a "civil union" - a position also put forward in the past by Bell - but isn't eager to see the issue come back to Parliament now the law has been changed. If it does, she'll poll her constituents and vote accordingly, she says.
It is difficult to know where to start here. She seems to want to describe herself as a moderate on both same-sex marriage and on abortion. There are, however, reasons to doubt this. I'll try to return this to explain why in another post.

For other Cindy Silver posts, follow the link.

Harper & the fiscal imbalance

There's a good post over at Tilting at Windmill on Harper's attitude towards the so-called fiscal imbalance. He concludes with this point:
There are only two have provinces - Ontario and Alberta. If you are in any other province “fiscal rebalancing” means less money. And if you are in Ontario all the money “saved” will come out of your pocket paying for welfare and prisons for the poorer Canadians who flood to Toronto and the Golden HorseShoe.
While I suspect this might be overstated--depending on the specific 'solution' adopted, Quebec and BC might also benefit from a rejigging of Canada's fiscal arrangements, the point remains valid. A 'tax-point' transferred to the provinces (which is probably what is at issue here) is worth more when given to Alberta than to Newfoundland, and it is worth making clear why that is: it is because the average wages are higher in Alberta and therefore the marginal rate of taxation in our progressive system is higher there. Transferring tax-points would therefore undermine one of the chief advantages of the system. Anyway, go read it for yourself here.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Canada described as 'retarded cousin' by U.S. pundit, in spate of attacks

More American attacks on Canada.

Canada described as 'retarded cousin' by U.S. pundit, in spate of attacks
2005-12-19 15:40:00

WASHINGTON (CP) - Canada has been described lately by a conservative U.S. television host as "a stalker" and a "retarded cousin."

Another pundit recently asked if Canadians weren't getting "a little too big for their britches." There's been a spate of Canada-bashing by right-wing media commentators in the United States ever since Prime Minister Paul Martin's complaints about lumber penalties and U.S. policy on climate change. His remarks prompted an unusual rebuke last week from the American ambassador.

The attacks on Canada have had web bloggers typing overtime and a non-profit group that's monitoring the trend, Media Matters for America, says it's disturbing.

Yet Paul Waldman, a senior fellow for the group, said Monday the criticism is confined to the usual faction that erupts whenever there's criticism of President George W. Bush's administration and it probably won't last past Canada's Jan. 23 election.

"There are always going to be occasions when it pops up. But Canada is never going to occupy an extraordinary amount of American thought," said Waldman.

"It's more like: 'Who can we beat on today?' It's never going to reach the heights of animosity toward France in the run-up to the Iraq war."

Last week, MSNBC host Tucker Carlson, a well-known conservative pundit, let loose with a string of anti-Canada rants.

"Anybody with any ambition at all, or intelligence, has left Canada and is now living in New York," he said.

"Canada is a sweet country. It is like your retarded cousin you see at Thanksgiving and sort of pat him on the head. You know, he's nice but you don't take him seriously. That's Canada."

Carlson also said it's pointless to tell Canada to stop criticizing the United States.

"It only eggs them on. Canada is essentially a stalker, stalking the United States, right? Canada has little pictures of us in its bedroom, right?"

"It's unrequited love between Canada and the United States. We, meanwhile, don't even know Canada's name. We pay no attention at all," he said.

The day before, Fox News host Neil Cavuto highlighted Martin's remark at a news conference that the United States is a "reticent nation" lacking a "global conscience" on climate change. "So have the Canadians gotten a little too big for their britches?" Cavuto asked. "Could our neighbours to the north soon be our enemies?"

Douglas MacKinnon, a press secretary to former Republican senator Bob Dole, also recently accused Canada of harbouring terrorists. "Can Canada really be considered our friend anymore?" he asked in a recent commentary in the right-wing Washington Times newspaper.

"What other question can be asked when the Canadian government not only willingly allows Islamic terrorists into their country but does nothing to stop them from entering our nation?"

U.S. Ambassador David Wilkins warned Martin last week to tone down anti-American jabs or risk hurting bilateral relations. But Martin was unrepentant, saying he would "not be dictated to" by the United States and his hard line appears to be resonating with some voters.

While the offensive from American pundits isn't widespread, it still has the potential to affect cross-border ties, said Waldman.

"On Capitol Hill, the TVs are turned to Fox News. This kind of media environment is what the White House pays attention to," he said.

"That hostility is probably shared by a lot of people in the administration."

Harper on division of seats

The following is from a story in the Edmonton Journal.
Harper made his own grassroots appeal, telling supporters Saturday in Vancouver that the current NDP bears little resemblance to the populist Tommy Douglas or Dave Barrett variety of the past.

“Today’s NDP is no longer a party of ordinary British Columbians. It’s for high taxes, it’s soft on crime, and it puts the demands of special interests ahead of the needs of ordinary working families,” Harper said.

The Tory leader made the pronouncement on the weekend after unveiling a broad “Stand up for B.C.” platform that includes the promise of more House of Commons seats for B.C., Alberta and Ontario — a potentially risky move in Quebec because it would reduce slightly that province’s relative share of seats in Parliament.

Harper, in an intense three-way race with the Liberals and New Democratic Party for B.C.’s 36 seats, predicted that Canadians will be staying up late on election night to see if West Coast voters will boot the Liberals from office.

The Conservatives are locked in a battle with the NDP in many parts of B.C., fighting over the populist, anti-establishment vote that swung to Reform in the 1990s but has started moving back to the NDP.

“British Columbia could elect some opposition MPs for a party (the NDP) that won’t change a government, or they can elect opposition MPs for a party (the Tories) that’s going to throw the entire political establishment out on its ear,” he said in an interview.

Canada’s current formula for redistributing seats every 10 years is biased against Ontario, Alberta, and B.C. because Quebec and the smaller provinces have constitutionally-guaranteed minimum number of seats.

Harper predicted that B.C. would get four more seats to go to 40, Alberta two or three more than their current 28, and Ontario would go from 106 to 116.

Quebec, which has 75 seats in the 308-seat chamber, would see its relative share of seats compared to larger provinces drop slightly under the Tory plan.

“There may be some reaction (in Quebec) on that, but we’re simply doing a fairer system here,” he said, stressing that the Constitution intended to have provinces represented based on population.

“We’ve departed simply too far from the reality.” He said there are “other ways” to deal with Quebec’s concerns, and said he’ll reveal those plans later in the campaign.
Strangely, this is cast as especially effecting Quebec. (Well, not that strangely.) In fact, however, the effect on Quebec would be minor, which would see it's share of parliamentary seats go from 75 of 308 (24.4%) to 75 of 324 (23.2%).

The real effect that this would have would be on the smaller provinces. Under the current system, PEI is overrepresented by 2, NS by 2, NB by 3, NF by 2, Manitoba by 3 and Saskatchewan by 4. Is Harper arguing for fewer seats for them?

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Standing up for BC at whose expense?

The Conservatives have released a BC plank to their policy platform. Included within it is this statement, which deserves to be fleshed out a little:
Under a Conservative government, British Columbia will have more seats in the House of Commons and more equitable representation in the Senate.
How will this be accomplished? Changing the number of senate seats for BC is in itself a reasonable proposal--but the only way to accomplish that is to negotiate an emendation to the constitution, which is a pretty hard thing to do.

And an increase in the number of seats for BC? Perhaps that's justifiable, too, but it would be a difficult thing to do without decreasing the number of seats allotted to the Atlantic provinces, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Harper wasn't joking, he was mocking

Several bloggers, including Skippy the Wonder Dog have made some good points about the controversy about Harper and his comments to a right-wing think-tank in 1997.

Some of Harper's defenders have offered that Harper was joking, when he said. But consider the context and the butt of his jokes. This is some of what he said:
First, facts about Canada. Canada is a Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term, and very proud of it. Canadians make no connection between the fact that they are a Northern European welfare state and the fact that we have very low economic growth, a standard of living substantially lower than yours, a massive brain drain of young professionals to your country, and double the unemployment rate of the United States.
And he said it in front of a rightwing American think-tank.

Now, I'm not sure whether this was joking or not. (There are jokes in the speech, as one would expect.) But I think that saying that this was meant as a joke rather misintereprets the tone. Harper may indeed be looking for laughs, here. But from whom? and at whose expense?

Harper is not joking. He is mocking. And he is mocking his own country before American right-wingers in order to get a few laughs.

Personally, I don't think that's funny.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Why did Cindy Silver remove the endorsement of Sharon Hayes?

Everyone no doubt remembers the foofurah last May about the way in which the religious right had been able to capture Conservative nominations in several ridings.

One of the nominees about whom concern was expressed was Cindy Silver, who had been legal counsel for Focus on the Family.
Cindy Silver North Vancouver

Until recently, however, Ms. Silver's endorsement page looked slightly different. Thanks to the miracle of google-cache, we know that it looked like this (here is a screen capture):
Cindy Silver North Vancouver

Who is Sharon Hayes? She is a former Reform MP who represented Port Moody-Coquitlam from 1993-1997. Ms. Hayes is best remembered for issuing a press release on Parliamentary letter-head accusing the Chinese of eating aborted fetuses. She is now on the board of Directors for Focus on the Family Canada.

Anyway, in her words: "When I first met Cindy twelve years ago I saw in her a unique combination of skills. Here is a woman whose person priorities are in place, who gets to the crux of the legal issues and find soutions, who speaks and writes well, and is wiling to wrok with and on behalf of others. As one of the first women elected to represent the Reform/Alliance Party, I would be delighted to see Cindy take the btaon and run with int in the next Conservative government."

For other Cindy Silver posts, follow the link.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Former candidate quits Conservatives over take-over by religious right

There's a story from Sudbury from last week that raises again the issue of the influence of the religious right within the Conservative Party.
Party over for former Tory

The man who ran for the Conservatives in Sudbury in the 2004 election has quit the party. Stephen Butcher, who came in third place behind Diane Marleau and Gerry McIntaggart, with 9,008 votes, said he no longer supports the values of the party.

“I no longer feel the Conservative Party of Canada, under the leadership of Stephen Harper and the present national council, represent the core values of the old Progressive Conservative Party of Canada prior to the merger of the two parties,” he said in a letter which he released to the media.

Butcher said he believes the party is on a mission to promote Christianity, and will make anti-abortion and anti-gay legislation a priority if they form the next government.

He also disagrees with the way in which Kevin Serviss, the present candidate for the Sudbury Conservatives, was nominated last spring. Most of the people who voted for Serviss came from the church where he is a minister, and had bought party memberships right before the nomination, he said.

The president of the riding association, Bob Bateman, said he’s sorry to lose Butcher as a party member. However, Butcher fully supported the party’s policies in 2004, he said. No rules were violated during the nomination process, said Bateman.

“I have the feeling that Stephen is smarting. He had run a hard election the last time around, and the process being what it is, he was undervoted at the convention when he would or could have been re-nominated,” he said. “I fear there may be some sour grapes here.”
(For the original story of Serviss's nomination, see the story here and here.)

Friday, December 02, 2005


There has been much discussion both in the MSM and in the Blogworld about two positions recently taken by the Conservative Party.

The first was Harper's announcement that a Conservative government would hold another vote on same sex marriage; the second was his announcement that the Conservatives would lower the GST by 1% immediately, and another 1% in the near future.

It seems to me, however, that the combination of the two is significant. The two most important parts of the Conservative coalition in this country are Social Conservatives and Fiscal Conservatives. How do these two policies reflect on that coalition?

Clearly the promise to have a vote on SSM is a gesture to the so-cons. Might a lowering of the GST as one to fis-cons? Here there is a problem.

GIven a choice as how to lower taxes, most conservative economists argue strongly that it is economically better to tax consumption (like the GST does) than to tax production though the capital gains or income taxes. (See the survey of economists' views, here).

What's interesting about the Conservatives' two big policy announcements of the election is that it reinforces the idea that fiscal conservatives are less influential in the party than social conservatives.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Buckets of inquisition

With a hat-tip to the Wingnuterer, I took the 'which Monty Python character are you' test and got the followin results:
You are a cardinal! You love to try & get others into trouble, even if you have to make up lies...NO ONE expects the Spanish Inquisition!
You are a cardinal! You love to try & get others
into trouble, even if you have to make up
lies...NO ONE expects the Spanish Inquisition!

What Monty Python Sketch Character are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Saturday, November 12, 2005

NP story on Evangelical activism

The National Post has a story today on a conference at the Crossroads Centre (which is where 100 Huntley Street is based). It is being organized by Tristan Emmanuel, who had appeared in the news last spring when stories about an alleged evangelical take-over of the Conservative Party.

Canada: Christians seek voice in politics: Evangelicals 'mocked'
Siri Agrell, National Post

Saturday, November 12, 2005

BURLINGTON, Ont. - With its neatly arrayed chairs and Christmas decorations, the atrium of the Crossroads Centre looks more ready to host a nativity play than a political workshop.

But 150 evangelical Christians from across the Golden Horseshoe region of southern Ontario will gather here today, outside the studio where the evangelical TV show 100 Huntley Club is filmed, for a lesson in political activism.

"In order to see anything different in Ottawa, we need to see a change in our culture," said Tristan Emmanuel, a conference organizer and executive director of the Equipping Christians for the Public-square Centre. "People need to change. The church needs to change."

In the United States, the Christian community has emerged as an influential force behind the current Republican administration and the impetus toward faith-based initiatives.

Mr. Emmanuel believes that a similar move is necessary in Canada, but it is up to evangelical voters -- not political leaders -- to drive the agenda.

So Mr. Emmanuel is planning a televised town hall meeting in January, coinciding with a possible election call, when Christian Canadians could discuss their beliefs and priorities in an open forum.

By organizing events around political involvement rather than partisan stripes, he hopes party leaders will recognize the electoral advantage of acknowledging the Christian community in their campaigns.

"They're politicians and a politician won't take a step unless it's politically advantageous," he said.

Three million evangelical Christians live in Canada, a voting bloc whose political voice should not be dismissed or underestimated, Mr. Emmanuel said.

Christians have long been vilified by the Liberal party, he said, a trend crystallized by the public derision heaped on the creationist beliefs of former Canadian Alliance leader Stockwell Day.

"People like myself have been mocked over that issue," said Mr. Emmanuel, who is studying at the McMaster Divinity College in Hamilton, Ont. "You would never do that with anyone else's religious views."

During Mr. Day's unsuccessful campaign to unseat the Liberals, Mr. Emmanuel said many evangelical Christians watched as religion was used to undermine Mr. Day's credibility as a leader, in spite of the fact that both former prime minister Jean Chretien and his replacement Paul Martin are avowed Roman Catholics.

But Mr. Emmanuel said he reached his breaking point during the 2004 federal election, when the Liberal government threatened the electorate with the Conservative party's "hidden agenda," which he believes was a thinly veiled attack on Christian beliefs.

"They used a strategy to vilify a natural constituency of the Conservative party," he said. "Normally you go after your opponent, not a specific community who might support him."

That was the moment he decided evangelicals had to demonstrate their political influence, not by throwing their weight behind a specific candidate but by making their voices heard at all levels of politics.

"Ideally, what we want to be is an organization that defends and advocates for Christians who want to be involved in the public square," Mr. Emmanuel said.

To that end, the conference has not invited MPs or would-be candidates to speak today, but rather Christian activists who believe their beliefs have been misrepresented or maligned.

"I basically looked at the last 10 years of political marginalization of the Christian view," he said of the invited speakers. "I think what people will take away is that this is happening, this mistreatment of our standpoint is not theoretical."

One of the speakers who will address attendees today is Chris Kempling, a B.C. teacher who was suspended from his job as a guidance counsellor after writing a series of letters to his local paper that criticized same-sex relationships.

The conference will also hear from Stephen Bennett, a U.S. radio personality, musician and public speaker who has flown to Canada to discuss his personal rejection of homosexuality. A self-professed "former homosexual," Mr. Bennett is now married to a woman and has dedicated himself to reaching out to "homosexuals who want to escape the lifestyle."

Mr. Emmanuel said the evangelical community is not necessarily going to fall in line behind Mr. Harper's Conservatives.

"I want to be careful not to be too critical, but I think Stephen Harper could do a better job defending our community," he said. "To be honest, I was shocked at his inability to fight for his beliefs and to keep the [sponsorship scandal] in the forefront of the debate."

Contrary to popular belief, he said evangelical voters are not politically monolithic.

Christians interested in social outreach and other "compassionate endeavours" might have a natural proclivity toward Liberal or NDP candidates, he said. But he said it is the public disavowals of religion that push the evangelical constituency toward the Conservatives.

"If you constantly marginalize us, that's when we could galvanized into one voting bloc," he said. "But really we're all over the map. We're pretty open-minded people."

Friday, November 04, 2005

The quantum mechanics of search engines

Most of the time, they do most of what you expect. Sometimes, however…

To see what I mean,
  1. go to
  2. In their search window, type "conservative t-shirts"
  3. hit return
Here is a screen capture of what I got on Nov. 4th:

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Here's an interesting one…

Literally, A Web Log, is a blog dedicated to track the abuse of the word 'literally'. Hmm. And people think Buckets of Grewal is weird….

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

August 24, 2005: Jakarta Post: Police target illegal institutes

The Jakarta Post
August 24, 2005


After sealing off the Institut Manajemen Global Indonesia (IMGI) for allegedly selling fake academic titles, the National Police said on Tuesday they were investigating 19 additional educational institutions. National Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Saud Usman Nasution said the 19 institutions were reportedly operating in Jakarta without licenses from the Directorate General of Higher Education at the Ministry of National Education.

The institutes include the International University Transfer Program, the International Agyata Foundation, the American Management University, the American International Institute of Management and Technology, the Washington International University, San Pedro College of Business Administration and Kennedy Western University.

"Their operations are similar to that of IMGI, which offered fake diplomas to the public for small amounts of money," Saud said.

He said the names of the 19 institutions had been obtained from the Ministry of Education.

The police have yet to make any arrests and are still gathering evidence against the institutes.

IMGI was reportedly working with American World University, Northern California Global University, Jakarta International Management Studies and Senior University to issue allegedly unauthorized diplomas, ranging from bachelor's degrees to doctorates.

As the investigation proceeded into IMGI, its graduates began to return their fictitious diplomas to the police.

Another National Police spokesman, Brig. Gen. Soenarko, said his office received a master's and a PhD issued by IMGI in May 2001.

The academic certificates were turned in by a graduate identified only by the initials SW.

"We promise that graduates who willingly return their certificates will face a less harsh punishment," Soenarko said.

He said the IMGI database showed that more than 100 PhDs and approximately 400 masters of science were issued by the institute.

To receive the degrees, it is alleged people simply had to pay between Rp 1.5 million (US$ 150) and Rp 5 million.

Several top government officials, including a former vice president and former Cabinet ministers, along with Muslim clerics and a number of retired senior police officers, are among the some 5,000 graduates of IMGI.

If these graduates are found to have used their academic titles from the unregistered educational institute, they could face up to five years in jail or a maximum fine of Rp 500 million (US$ 50,500), according to the National Education Law.

Eva C. Komandjaja, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Faron Ellis' earlier 'research' on Western independence

There's been some interesting reactions to the recent story in the Western Standard that claims that separatist sentiments in the west are soaring. Over at the Grandite, it's been pointed out (here and here) that JMCK and Faron Ellis, who did this poll, is not really at an arms length from the Western Standard.

Faron Ellis is described thus in the Western Standard story:
The research, which was conducted by pollster Faron Ellis, a political science professor at the Lethbridge Community College, was commissioned by the Western Standard to determine how well the federal government under Prime Minister Paul Martin has been managing the issue of western alienation–something that Martin promised to reduce as part of his 2004 election campaign.
The description is probably misleading. Lethbridge Community College has no Political Science Department, so Ellis is hardly a 'political science professor', all the more since being a community college, the LCC will not have 'professors', but 'instructors'. As far as I can tell he is an instructor in 'Applied Social Sciences' and in charge of Citizen Society Research Lab, which describes itself as
"an applied research and teaching initiative specializing in quantitative public opinion studies. Each semester, Lethbridge Community College and Athabasca University students conduct one omnibus public opinion survey within the city of Lethbridge."
At the site, you can find earlier student surveys, including one on one of Dr. Ellis' favorite themes, Western Independence, 'published' in March 2003, which tracked support in Lethbridge for the statement "Western Canadians should begin to explore the idea of creating their own country" and got these results:
Feb. '01 Oct. '01 Oct. '02
Strongly Support 4.7 4.6 4.6
Support 14.2 17.4 18.0
Oppose 42.7 42.0 43.4
Strongly Oppose 38.4 35.3 31.8
The question is reminicent of the one in his famous 'Kyoto poll' that was released in Nov./Dec. 2002 that I mentioned here, quoting a Calgary Sun report on it.

The odd thing is that Ellis' separatism-rising-because-of-Kyoto poll (also done for JMCK) gathered its data at about the same time as Dr. Ellis had his students polling citizens of Lethbridge on their attitudes. But compare the numbers. When asked how the government should respond to the ratification of Kyoto, the JMCK poll (run by Ellis at almost exactly the same time) got these results:
Nothing can be done 43.8
Explore Independence 46.8
Seek to join U.S. 9.4
The question is, why did nearly identical questions asked at nearly identical moments get such different results?

Friday, August 05, 2005

Fun with figures: Western separatism is declining

The recent story in the Western Standard claims that separatist sentiments in the west are soaring. 43% of Albertans agreed with the statement “Western Canadians should begin to explore the idea of forming their own country”.

This struck me as rather remiscent of a poll conducted by the same pollster and same firm three years ago. (On the methodology of that poll see here.) It asked what Albertans should do if Kyoto was confirmed: 55% said they would be open to considering separation if Kyoto were ratified.
Calgary Sun
November 18, 2002 Monday, Final Edition
SECTION: News; Pg. 3

by Michelle Mark, Calgary Sun

Most Albertans would rather talk separation than take the Kyoto Protocol lying down, results of a new poll show. In fact, more than 55% of the 1,204 Albertans approached by JMCK Polling said they would be open to those possibilities if Kyoto is ratified against Albertans' wishes.

"Support (for Kyoto) is continuing to drop in Alberta," said pollster Faron Ellis, who conducted the research. "In a hypothetical situation, if it comes down to the two options of capitulate or fight, it looks like more Albertans are willing to fight at this stage."

The poll, conducted by phone between Oct. 30 and Nov. 9 of this year, targeted a random sample of Albertans from across the province, Ellis said, adding that while JMCK Polling normally conducts the surveys on behalf of paying clients, this one was sparked primarily by his and his partners' curiosity.

The first two questions asked Albertans if they'd heard of the Kyoto Protocol and, if so, did they think the federal government should ratify it? Slightly more than 94% of respondents confirmed they had heard of Kyoto and 57% of them opposed its ratification.

The third and final question asked Albertans if the federal government ratified Kyoto against the wishes of the Alberta Government, what should Alberta do? Respondents were given the following answers to choose from:
  1. There's nothing we can do.
  2. Albertans should begin to explore other options such as independence from Canada.
  3. Alberta should seek to join the U.S.
In general, Calgarians were found to have stronger opposition to ratifying Kyoto than Edmontonians, and more of a willingness to go to extremes in defiance of it.

Ellis, a seasoned political scientist, said he was surprised to find more than 9% of Albertans hypothetically supported the drastic measure of bypassing separation and hooking up with the U.S. "Clearly people are willing to choose the radical political approaches than sit by and do nothing," he said.

However, Ellis conceded that being in favour of discussing separation in a what-if situation and actually supporting separation are two very different things. "Certainly, different words would give you different numbers," Ellis said, adding attaching Kyoto to the issue of separation significantly drives the numbers up. "It's not as clear a read on independence itself as it is on what a fighting mood Albertans are getting into over Kyoto," he said.
- - -
Male Female Alberta
* Ratify 25.0 22.7 23.9
* Don't Ratify 61.1 52.5 56.9
* Undecided 5.4 8.7 7.0
* Don't know enough 8.4 16.0 12.3

- - -
Calgary Edmonton Total Alta
* Ratify 19.1 37.5 23.9
* Don't Ratify 63.5 40.0 56.9
* Undecided 6.1 7.9 7.0
* Don't know enough 11.3 14.5 12.3

- - -
Male Female Alberta
* Nothing can be done 40.9 46.6 43.8
* Explore Independence 49.3 44.5 46.8
* Seek to join U.S. 9.8 8.9 9.4
That was the story three years ago. To judge from this, there are now fewer people willing to consider separation.

There are, of course, two other polls that are relevant. In the last provincial election, the Separation Party of Alberta gathered 4680 votes, less than 1% of the total votes cast. Four years before that, candidates associated with the Alberta Independence Party gathered 7521 votes running as independents.

Judging from both sets of data, support for separatism is declining.

[Edited to replace Alberta Report story with a Calgary Sun story that is a little shorter and a little more direct.]

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Equalization math 2: net benefits of the Equalization Programme

As I mentioned in my first post on equalization (here), equalization is a federal programme that is funded by federal taxes. The 'share' of the cost that falls to each province is roughly equivalent to share of the country's total taxation that that province pays.

Roughly 13% of federal taxes are collected from Albertans. Therefore, 13% of the cost of equalization is born by Albertans. Quebecers pay about 20% of federal taxes, and therefore fund 20% of the equalization. The difference, of course, is that the Quebec government gets an equalization cheque and Alberta doesn't. (This isn't accidental--that's the way the program was set up to run.)

This table attempt to sketch out in a rough way where the net benefits are. Each province's share of the tax burden is assumed to be their share of the cost of equalization.

% of tax burden* Program cost (mil.) Benefit (mil.) 2003/4 Net benefit (mil.) pop. (2001) net benefit per capita
Nfld 1.05% $113.00 $766 $653.00 512,930 $1,273.08
PEI 0.28% $30.60 $232 $201.40 135,294 $1,488.61
NS 2.27% $247.20 $1130 $882.80 908,007 $972.24
NB 1.68% $183.10 $1142 $958.90 729,498 $1,314.47
Que 20.70% $2,256.00 $3764 $1,508.00 7,237,470 $208.36
ON 44.24% $4,822.50 0 $(4,822.50) 11,410,046 $(422.65)
MN 2.85% $310.80 $1336 $1,025.20 1,119,583 $915.70
SK 2.42% $263.00 0 $(263.00) 978,933 $(268.66)
AB 12.33% $1,343.00 0 $(1,343.00) 2,974,807 $(451.46)
BC 11.75% $1,280.90 $590 $(690.90) 3,907,738 $(176.80)
Yuk 0.08% $8.80 0 $(8.80) 29,900 $(294.31)
NWT 0.14% $15.60 0 $(15.60) 40,000 $(390.00)
Nun 0.06% $6.60 0 $(6.60) 27,400 $(240.88)

The pattern is one that is fairly well-known. Ontario makes the largest contribution to equalization, which is perfectly appropriate given that it is almost half the country's economy; Alberta makes a large contribution given its size (13% of the cost, though having only 10% of the country's population); BC and Saskatchewan pay in more than they get out. Quebec receives the largest cheque, but on a per capita net basis the sums are quite modest.

*Note: the share of taxes is an old number and reflects only federal income taxes. So this table is useful only for illustrative purposes. If you know more recent or exact figures, by all means mention them and I'll update the table.

Update. Andrew Spicer conducted a similar exercise here and got roughly similar results. (I suspect that his numbers are better than mine.)

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Welcome to Bouquets of Gray

This is my second blog. The first, which was dedicated to discussing the Gurmant Grewal tapes, was more successful than I'd expected, and, given the amount of information that became available about the Grewal Affair, it became clear that if I continued to post on other questions, my work on Grewal would soon disappear into the mysts of time. Instead, I've decided to leave Buckets more or less as it is, and create a new blog. Here it is.

Down in the archives you'll find some old posts that I've moved from the Buckets site that were not related to the Grewal affair.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Equalization math

Several bloggers have already noted the new call for Alberta to separate made by Leon Craig, an emeritus professor of political science from the University of Alberta. (See especially the discussion of Muck Shoveller, a former student of Craig, here and, especially, here.) Prof. Craig has published an essay with the folksy title, 'Let's get while the gettin's good', which begins with this paragraph
To be sure, the $250 million of graft involved in the Adscam racket is but a small portion of Alberta’s annual donation to keeping Quebec tenuously tethered to the rest of Canada, barely a week’s contribution of the $12 billion Ottawa sucks out of Alberta every year in “equalization” payments (which the Liberal party then uses to buy votes east of Cornwall), a mere $60 of the almost $3,000 that every man, woman and child in Alberta pays per year for the privilege of remaining in a federation governed for the benefit of Ontario, Quebec and cronies of the Liberal Party of Canada.
The prose is, frankly, pretty sloppy, and its invective cliché, but let's leave that aside. Instead let's concentrate on the math behind his characterization of what equalization costs Alberta. Prof. Craig asserts two things here: (1) that equalization costs Alberta $12 billion per year, and (2) that this is 'sucked out' of Alberta in '"equalization" payments. (I'm not sure why he uses quotes here; perhaps someone can explain.) On the Buckets Truth Index, both statements sit somewhere between highly misleading and rank nonsense.

First, Craig mischaracterizes equalization payments. Alberta does not make any equalization payments--check its annual budget and public accounts if you don't believe me. Equalization is a program in which the Federal Government makes payments to some, but not all, of the provinces. At the moment there are eight provinces that qualify--all but Ontario and Alberta. (If you need to review the facts about this program, see here.) It cost $8.7 billion per year in 2003-4 (here), which is about 4.6% of the federal budget of $189 billion. Where do the Feds find this money? Out of the federal budget, which comes from federal taxation, which Canadians from all provinces pay.

Second, Craig is obviously wrong to imply that Alberta's share of equalization comes to $12 billion--which would be truly remarkable for a program that costs $8.7 billion. What is Alberta's share? Strictly speaking, of course, Alberta doesn't have a share, since it makes no payments. The money for the program comes from the federal taxes paid by individual and corporate Albertans. Now, we could roughly calculate what Albertans collectively pay towards equalization, since figures are available for share of federal taxation by province. The ones I have to hand are out of date (2000, I think) and are only federal income taxes, but they should give us a rough idea:
  • Nfld 1.05%
  • PEI 0.28%
  • NS 2.27%
  • NB 1.68%
  • Que 20.70%
  • ON 44.24%
  • MN 2.85%
  • SK 2.42%
  • AB 12.33%
  • BC 11.75%
  • Yuk 0.08%
  • NWT 0.14%
  • Nun 0.06%
  • foreign 0.15%
So, Prof. Craig raises the question of how much Alberta is paying towards equalization. Albertan's share will be equal to its share of total federal taxation, or 13% (rounding up). The total budget for the equalization program in 2003/4 was $8.7 billion. 13% of that is $1.1 billion. Not a trifle, but only a small fraction of Prof. Craig's $12 billion.

What went wrong with Craig's math? Did he slip a decimal point? I will try to return to this in a future post*, only pointing out here that it's a good thing that Prof. Craig taught Political Science in university rather than math in high-school.

    *For this post, see here