Monday, May 31, 2010

Conservatism in Canada Died a Slow and Painful Death

I was putting together all of my notes and postings on the hostile takeover of the Progressive Conservative party, that killed the conservative brand in Canada; and realized that it had not been an accidental death but pre-meditated murder.

I'm adding the links at the bottom that show a bit of a chronology, that I will work into a chapter of my book, but then I came across an article written in 1996, that revealed just how organized the crime was.

We talk a lot about the myriad of think tanks and 'non-profits' that became part of the infrastructure of the far-right. We also talk a lot about Harper's muzzling of the press, that allows him to operate in almost total secrecy. But in 1996, David Taras from the University of Calgary, hit on something else that I hadn't really thought of.

The media is not being silenced so much as the fact that they have now become the voice of neoconservatism. And it was not all Conrad Black and his hiring of only right-wing journalists.

What Taras spoke of was the fact that these journalists were not just writing with a right-wing bent, but had physically become involved in promoting the movement.

His point of reference was the Winds of Change conference, organized by National Post journalist David Frum. And if you don't think Frum is right-wing, he went on to write speeches for George W. Bush.
The Winds of Change conference, which took place in Calgary in May 1996, brought together approximately 70 leading right-wing thinkers and activists in an effort to bring unity to conservative forces before the next federal election, expected in 1997. The goal, according to organizer David Frum, was to discuss the prospects for a merger between the Reform and Progressive Conservative parties ....

The conference's real significance, its real meaning, however, may have little to do with whether the goal of unity on the right is ever achieved. More important perhaps is that the conference highlighted a phenomenon that has been taking place for quite some time in American politics, but seems only now to be emerging full-blown in Canada: that an increasing number of journalists have become ardent political activists. Where objectivity was once the gold standard on which the professional credibility of journalists rested, today the rules seem to have changed. Some journalists have been able to enhance their status by openly championing partisan positions and causes. We have in some senses gone back to the days of the party press, the period from 1870 until at least 1940, when fierce and zealous partisanship by journalists was the order of the day. Politics and journalism are no longer separate estates, locked in a relationship of conflict and symbiosis, but are merging in new ways that have been little studied or even recognized.

Journalists as partisan political activists? How could we ever expect a fair and impartial media? Should they not have to disclose that fact with every article?

The following are links to the stories leading up to the official dissolving of the Party of Sir John A. MacDonald in 2003. What former PC MP Flora MacDonald called the end of a 150 year old tradition.

Peter Mackay and the Death of the Tory Party in Canada

Ernest Manning and the NCC

The Fraser Institute's Role

Conrad Black and Media Manipulation

David Frum and Winds of Change

Craig Chandler and the Roots of Change

The Creation of Stephen Harper's Sandbox

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Jason Kenney Has Momentary Lapse of Memory ... Or Maybe He's Just lying

Poor little Jas. Maybe he did just forget to include Gay Rights into the citizenship guide. Maybe he lost the string on his finger or forgot to cut the umbilical chord to Charles McVety.

Or maybe he's just an idiot.


Saturday, May 29, 2010

Marci McDonald's Book and Why Our Media Still Doesn't get it!

I watched Steve Paikin's 'The Agenda', on TV Ontario, where he interviewed Marci McDonald, the author of the explosive new book, The Armageddon Factor. You can watch the tape here.

He had a panel discuss the rise of the Religious Right in Canada after the interview, and it occurred to me that there is something that the media is not getting here. While they appear to still be squeamish about discussing religion, they have missed an extremely important element to this story.

This is not just about the rise of what they call Christian Conservatism in Canada, but the rise of 'American Christian Conservatism' in Canada. Most of these groups that now hold a place of prominence in our government, originated with the U.S. Republican Party, and in fact, many were given seed money from south of the border.

This speaks to our Canadian sovereignty. Why are so many American based groups camped out in the Parliament buildings, trying to legislate our morality, based on their 'Republican' view of morality? Shouldn't this be our business?

One point that Paikin made was that it took three decades for the movement to be successful in the USA, implying that we had little to worry about, since it was still a few years off. However, that is not the case, because the infrastructure has already been created and simply replicated here. Therefore, we didn't need thirty years. Only four.

The Paul Weyrich Factor

On page 79 of the book, McDonald details how just before the 2006 election, a member of Harper's team contacted Paul Weyrich, one of the most influential men in the U.S. Conservative/Moral Majority movement, asking him to advise his people not to speak to the Canadian media. Fearing they would uncover just how connected Harper was to the upper echelons of the Republican Party, it could very well have cost him the election.

But when the results were in, Weyrich was elated. However, while some Republicans were concerned that with a minority Harper's hands were tied, Weyrich reassured them that this was not the case, and posted this on his website:

“Harper is pleased that the media and many in his own party are nay-saying ... such pessimism would lower expectations and give him additional latitude to accomplish his agenda. Harper’s game plan apparently is to pit the federalist Liberals against the Bloc Quebecois and the decentralizing Bloc against big-government Liberals.

“It is not widely known in this country that a Canadian prime minister has more power than a United States president. Harper could appoint 5,000 new officials. (No confirmation is required by the Canadian Parliament.) The prime minister also could appoint every judge from the trial courts, to the courts of appeal to the Canadian Supreme Court, as vacancies occur.

“Harper’s partisans believe he could maintain power for four years, during which time Conservatives hopefully would witness many vacancies created by Liberals leaving the courts. The Supreme Court of Canada currently is dominated by Liberals. As has been the case in the United States, cultural Marxism largely has been foisted upon Canada by the courts. If judges who respect the Constitution were to be appointed they would confirm that such rights are not to be found in that document. Sound familiar?” Paul Weyrich (1)

And has Stephen Harper not lived up to the dreams of Mr. Weyrich? Has he not used and abused his power to create a system that is pleasing to the American Conservative movement?

This is not simply a matter of religion, or an attempt to create a theocracy. This is an attempt to create an American style theocracy, with American money. And since these religious groups played such an important role in Harper's victory, it means that foreign contributions impacted OUR election?

And where do the Canadian people fit into all this? These are the questions our media has largely ignored and are still ignoring.

Evangelicals to the North

In November of 2006, less than a year after Stephen Harper gained power, an American journalist was visiting Toronto, and wrote a piece for CBS, discussing the 'new Canada'.

When things get bad in the United States, it is reassuring to turn to Canada, a country with a high standard of living, a small military and a national health care plan. Canada always seemed to be, if a bit duller than America, also a bit saner. But this is changing. The new Canadian prime minister, Stephen Harper, inspired by the neocons to the south, appears determined to visit the worst excesses of George Bush's presidency on his own country.

... Harper is rapidly building an alliance with the worst elements of the U.S. Christian right. [He] has spent the past three years methodically knitting a coalition of social conservatives and evangelicals that looks ominously similar to the American model. While the Ottawa press corps has been preoccupied with Harper's ability to keep the most blooper-prone Christians in his caucus buttoned up, he has quietly but determinedly nurtured a coalition of evangelicals, Catholics, and conservative Jews that brought him to power and that will put every effort into ensuring that he stays there ... Unfortunately for Canada, Harper has a lot of American help. James Dobson has set up a Canadian branch of his Focus on the Family three blocks from the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa. The organization, called the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada, provides political expertise to and otherwise supports Harper's allies in the bid to turn Canada into an Americanized Christian state. (2)
'An Americanized Christian state'? That is the story that the media has missed.

The author Arnie Seipel closes with this question to himself:
"As I walk the windy streets of Toronto I wonder if those who push past me will wake up and see in Harper's government our own malaise or watch passively as Canada becomes a demented reflection of George Bush's America." (2)
Unfortunately, we now have the answer, three years too late.


1. Christian right eyes Canada, By Bill Berkowitz, Briarpatch, February 21, 2006

2. Evangelicals, To The North: With Bush Ally As Prime Minister, Canada's New Christian Right Rises Up, By Arnie G. Seipel, November 9, 2006

Friday, May 28, 2010

Is Money Corrupting Religion?

The late Charles Templeton (1915-2001), evangelical turned agnostic; wrote a book Farewell to God: My Reasons for Rejecting the Christian Faith. In it he describes his journey from a popular Christian crusader, and colleague of Billy Graham, to his eventual abandonment of organized religion.

At a stage in his life when he was beginning to have doubts about his faith, he went to his friend Graham, expecting some spiritual guidance.

He asked him how he could accept creationism as 'fact' when there was irrefutable evidence that the world had evolved over millions of years. Graham, an intelligent man, told him "I've discovered something in my ministry: when I take the Bible literally, when I proclaim it as the word of God, my preaching has power." (1)

So even if Billy Graham, the scholar, pondered the scientific proofs of evolution, he chose to focus his beliefs on the words in an ancient text, because it was better for business.

Templeton and Graham would eventually part ways, but not because Templeton was losing faith, but because he exposed the enormous amount of money that TV evangelists were pocketing from the collection plates.

He would eventually become an agnostic, because he realized that there was no single god, who was the true God. "We worship the gods of our predecessors." (1)

I often say that the Religious Right has inspired me to become a born again atheist, but I suppose I'm an agnostic, because I do believe there is something bigger than us. But if there is indeed a God, I doubt he'd be pleased that the so-called Christian Conservatives have abandoned him to worship on the alter of the almighty dollar.

Show Me the Money

Classically Liberal, a Libertarian blogger, tells the story of Bob Sirico, once a gay rights activist, and now a Catholic Priest. According to Joseph Bast of the Heartland Institute:
One often hears priests, preachers, and rabbis endorse an activist government able to solve social, economic, and perhaps even moral problems. Fr. Sirico offers a powerful challenge to this conventional wisdom. Religious principles, he says, require that men and women be free to practice virtue or vice, and freedom in turn requires a limited government and vibrant free-market economy. (2)
What the hell? I don't remember that in my Catechism. According to 'Classically Liberal', Sirico was given money from the Atlas Foundation and several other right-wing groups, to start up the Acton Institute, a right-wing think tank, run by a priest who believes in the faith of a free-market economy. Just what god is he following? Nieman-Marcus?

Atlas was, and is, a major sponsor of the Acton Institute run by former faith healer, evangelical, gay community organizer, and now Catholic priest, Bob Sirico. Sirico ran fundamentalist faith healing meetings until he came out as gay. Then he moved on to the Metropolitan Community Churches and started running the Gay Community Center in Hollywood ... He was also one of the first ministers in the country to perform gay marriages as early as 1975. Sirico’s outfit started out as an organization that was going to sell free market ideas to the religious community.

Acton officials got heavily involved in the debate on gay marriage. With Sirico back in the closet (though some conservatives don’t think so) the position they have been taking has been to pander to bigots on the Religious Right.

.... All of them forget that their beloved Father Bob performed same-sex marriages. And in one press interview at the time Sirico told the reporter “I’m hoping to be married to a beautiful man in Los Angeles whose work is translating for the deaf.” By 1977 Sirico was listed by the LA Times as the “organizer of Libertarians for Gay Rights. (3)

Apparently the good father Bob is still living a gay lifestyle, while telling his followers "not to comply with rules and laws forcing them to accept abortion, same-sex marriage and other matters that go against their religious consciences." I guess hypocrisy is now a virtue.

Classic Liberal believes that this trend began when the Atlas Foundation abandoned it's original Libertarian ideals and began preaching the gospel of the wealthy Templeton family.
Over the years institutions evolve, change or slide away from their original purpose. It is inevitable, sometimes good, and sometimes not so good. One depressing change in recent years is with the Atlas Foundation. Atlas began as a libertarian-oriented, free-market foundation that was there to help think tanks around the world with similar purposes.But in recent years Atlas has begun to heavily rely on one specific donor or family, that is the money coming from John Templeton’s foundation or estate. As they have taken millions and millions from Templeton they started pandering to Templeton’s religious bias and prejudices. (3)
One group that falls under the virtue of hypocrisy and the Atlas Foundation, is the Canadian Constitution Foundation. Started in 2002, by a devout Religious Righter, John Weston, they take on cases that challenge the Constitution, in hopes of creating "a limited government and vibrant free-market economy", as handed down from God as the eleventh commandment.

But just in case we doubt they are devout, they will end abortion, same-sex marriage, and pass laws that allow us to call each other horrific names. Which brings me to the twelfth commandment: "Thou shalt abandon common decency and basheth all gays."

If you go to their website and read their mission statement, they lie and steal in the first paragraph. First off they claim to be non-partisan, despite the fact that their new chief, John Carpay was a long time Stockwell Day supporter, and is currently part of the Fraser Institute and the Manning Centre, both duct taped to the Reform-Alliance-Conservative movement. (did I mention that their founder, John Weston, is a Harper MP?)

And the fact that they are listed as non-profit, meaning they escape paying taxes, but have money seeping from their pores, brings me to the thirteenth commandment: "Thou shalt fooleth some of the people, some of the time ..." Amen.


1. Farewell to God: My Reasons for Rejecting the Christian Faith, By Charles Templeton, McClelland & Stewart, 1996, ISBN: 0-7710-8422-6, Pg. 7-8

2."Religion and Freedom." Heartlander. By Joseph Bast, Heartland Institute. January 1, 2007

3. Conservative money corrupts libertarian thinking, By: Classically Liberal, February 19, 2009

John Carpay Challenges Jason's Kenney's Decision to Suspend the Rights of Students at York University

John Carpay is a long time Reform-Alliance-Conservative supporter, running himself unsuccessfully for the Reform Party in 1993, along with Rob Anders and Jason Kenney, who were all supported by the Fraser institute. Carpay was a member of Jason Kenney's Canadian Taxpayers Federation and now runs the Canadian Constitution Foundation, after it's founder John Weston, quit to run for Harper's party in 2005. (1)

Carpay is currently defending the rights of university students to speak openly and without restraint against Israeli Apartheid. He claims that freedom of expression is the lifeblood of democracy, and even if it offends, that right to offend is enshrined in section 2 of the charter of rights and freedoms.

What Jason Kenney has tried to do is silence students at York University, by not allowing them to put up posters advertising anti-Apartheid week. They have not displayed images of dead Palestinian children, nor have they emblazoned a swastika for all to see, and yet they are being forced to remain silent on an issue that is very important to them.

Opposing a country is not the same as opposing a people, and yet Mr. Kenney is trying to class their protests as being anti-Semitic.

Carpay will have none of this and plans to take it to the highest court of the land. Students pay tuition to go to York University, and it is their constitutional right to be able to express freely their dissent.

Of course this is not entirely true. Carpay is actually defending the rights of University of Calgary students to display images of aborted fetuses emblazoned with a swastika. Because you see Mr. Carpay does not really believe in freedom of expression, so much as he believes in the right to simply oppose abortion by using graphic images and a shock factor.

He would never defend the rights of Canadians to speak out against Israel. His corporate and Religious Right backers would have his head. Quite a double standard these people have.

While I am pro-choice, I have no problem with the posters, because if anything they shed light on the thinking of many pro-lifers. Going right to Hitler, they lose credibility, so I would not oppose the posters. Besides, the longer they are visible, the more they lose their shock factor, so they in fact may be hindering their anti-abortion sentiment.

I mean they pulled out all the stops with these. Dead babies and swastikas. What do they have left?

These so called constitutional challenges initiated by Carpay and Weston, are simply more neoconservative nonsense. Because if they really cared about the lives of children, they would be joining the Anti-Apartheid movement at York University, or protecting our rights to oppose the war without being called a 'Taliban dupe'.


Canadian Constitution Foundation Challenge Against Single-Tier Medicare, Ontario Health Coalition, May 2007

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Health, Wealth and Stealth Continued: Faith Healing

A CULTURE OF DEFIANCE: History of the Reform-Conservative Party of Canada

James Lunney is the Conservative MP who has been leading the charge against Health Canada for meddling in the snake oil business.

Since first joining Stockwell Day and his Alliance Party as health critic, he has launched an ongoing battle as an advocate for alternative medicines, believing that they will cut down on wait times at hospitals.

Homeopathy and herbal medicines are fields where there is a lot of potential, and I fully support research money being given to study their effectiveness.

But that is not what Lunney wants. What he wants is for alternative medicines to be reclassified as food so that they don't require the rigorous testing that drugs would.

And these products are being sold as "miracle cures", at exorbitant prices, to unsuspecting customers, while they could have devastating side effects. There is also concern that they might interfere with other medication being taken, and the dispensers of these "cures" are not properly trained or educated in the health sciences.

But what I've found that most do have in common, is radical religious fundamentalism. Even the fascist sites that David Lethbridge found were selling this stuff, still use 'Jesus', when dispensing hate.

I am so frustrated, because I know this is not what religion is supposed to be. Why aren't more of the mainstream churches or the Evangelical Fellowship not stepping in here? If anything turns people off Christianity faster, it will be these crazies who have taken over our government.

It's been suggested that there needs to be a lot more research into Stockwell Day and his troop, and I couldn't agree more, but it's hard, because everywhere you turn it just gets crazier. And I have to be honest, whether I'm following the links to the neo-Nazi sites or the Christian extremist sites, they are no different. They both leave me feeling ill. The horrible things they say about other human beings, is unbelievable.

Have the hate groups just gone underground and now latched onto the Religious Right?

To catch up, these are the previous posts if you didn't see them and thank you to David Lethbridge who led me down this path:

When Lethbridge suggested in his article Prescription for Fascism (1), looking into this, I had no idea. Absolutely no idea. I had mentioned in Health Coalitions a groups called the Consumer Health Organization of Canada, who hold annual 'Total Health' fests, though their list of guest speakers reads more like Ripley's Believe it or Not. In 2000, Dr. (?) Len Horowitz delivered a lecture on 'Why I should be locked up'. That's not what he called it, but what he should have called it. After going on about how it was the U.S. military who actually started the Aids virus and lauding his friend Dr. Icke. (Icke is the man who believes that a group of extraterrestrial reptiles, who can take on life forms, are plotting to take over the world.)

The good Dr. Horowitz, was at this health convention to flog his new book Healing Codes for the Biological Apocalypse:

"In this next book, what you are going to realize is that I was divinely guided ... [and] was praying to have the Achilles heel of the Illuminati .... Ultimately, I was praying for the Achilles heel because there has got to be a place, a soft spot, that we can knock the oligarchy off and if you've heard me lecture in the past I've always said, I don't know what it is going to be, but in the very last days there will be something happen whereby Satan and his boys will have the carpet pulled from under them and we win in the end.

"Ultimately, why I went on a 40 day fast is because through this new totally exciting, uplifting, new revelations, new codes, that involve creation, destruction, miracles, healing, miraculous healings, including not only personal, but world. I was then so moved because we had our first what is called a healing celebration event, now if you don't have a healing celebrations flyer because first of all I want to acknowledge John and Libby Gardon for putting this whole event together. These are the directors of the Canadian Consumer Health Organization, who put this together every year and if you know them personally they are extremely loving human beings who are only in this because they understand what the illuminati have been doing to suppress true health care and self care, that is preventative medicine, and that they are totally dedicated as David Icke, as myself, as anyone else is on the front lines." (2)

And the good John and Libby Gardon are two of the people Lunney invited to the committee studying his bill on dropping the requirement to have these 'miracle cures' tested before use. The same John and Libby Gardon who invited the late Eustace Mullins, the man who called Jews "furry insects who drink children's blood", to one of their so-called 'Total Health' shindigs.

I'm feeling a little sick, how about you? Not to worry though, because Lunney has the answer: Pig Pills!

James Lunney and Pig Pills

When Health Canada raided offices of Trucorp in 2003, for dispensing illegal drugs, James Lunney went ballistic. Using his Parliamentary office he fired off a press release waging war on Health Canada, suggesting that people now may die if they can't get their hands on the pig pills.

I shouldn't really joke, because there is a chance that the stuff they are selling might have some merit. However, they flog is as a cure for all mental illness, and that's a dangerous thing. I should mention though that recently, the creators of this stuff also made the claim:
"...this product can grow back brain cells, and because the Creator is a lot smarter than scientists, 90% of poor health would disappear ... Will it help everyone? YES IT WILL....”It's a God given answer!” (3)
The trade name for it is EmPowerplus and it has helped hyperactivity and less serious mental disorders, but the problem that Health Canada had was that it had not been properly tested, and they had sent the company warning letters in the past, but they continued to distribute the mixture.

Brad Evenson, the medical advisor for the National Post wrote a lengthy article on the product and it's founders, who came up with the idea after using vitamins and minerals to cure pigs from "ear-and-tail-biting syndrome". Having had experience with mental illness in their families:
The company is now known as Truehope Nutritional Support Ltd. Devout Mormons who wanted to help other families like theirs, the two men vowed to set up so-called Synergy Houses to feed and care for people with bipolar disease, schizophrenia and other mental illness. (4)
Along with the success stories, there are also some tragic ones, and selling a medication as a miracle cure can not only provide false hope, but also create devastating results when people go off their medications as prescribed by medical doctors. Neither man behind the company have any medical training. And none of the people who sell the product from the call centre, are medical professionals.

And along with the treatment, which can run into thousands of dollars, they also offer 'spiritual guidance'. Not for free mind you. One young man spent $ 600.00 in a single month for this support.

It would appear that this is a version of faith healing with a twist, and while there is potential here, they have to go through the normal channels. Do we really want medications on the market without proper trials and labelling?

I'd like to say that James Lunney is the most dangerous member of Harper's caucus. I'd really like to say that, but unfortunately, I can't. And this is not about persecuting Christians or not allowing people to hold personal beliefs, but when they are in government, they have to at least be rational. I can't believe that this is happening, but they were given four years of free rein because nobody wanted to question their religion. And now look at the mess we're in.

Marci McDonald's book The Armageddon Factor*, brought up so many important issues, but I think she could immediately start working on a second edition. Stephen Harper not only allowed this to happen, but encouraged it for power, and now I don't think he knows what to with them. I certainly know what to do with him. Send him to see Dr. Icke.


*The Armageddon Factor: The Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada, By: Marci McDonald, Rndom House Canada, 2010, ISBN: 978-0-307-35646-8 3.


2. Total Health 2000 - March 2000 - Toronto Convention Center, Healing Codes for the Biological Apocalypse, Guest Speaker Len Horowitz

3. Truehope Conference in Shiloh, Ohio, Founders David Hardy and Anthony Stephan presentation, September 16, 2009.

4. Pigs Will Fly, Every good product needs a good legend. By Brad Evenson, MD Review, February 2004

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Health, Wealth and Stealth of Right-Wing Coalitions

I have read several times, a piece written in 2001 by David Lethbridge, a journalist, university professor and activist against mostly anti-Semitism, but indeed any racial intolerance. What Lethbridge uncovered in his article Prescription For Fascism: Alternative Medicine and Right-Wing Politics (1), was a connection between some of the new homeopathic, wellness groups and various 'hate' and fringe organizations, here and in the U.S.

He also links in several places, members of the Reform-Alliance-Conservative movement, and while I initially felt that some of the connections were pretty flimsy, there are two names that keep coming up, though they are certainly not the only ones: Stockwell Day and Craig Chandler.

So I took a closer look at Lethbridge's article and googled a few of the names, and there appears to be a disturbing trend.

Dr. John Stackhouse in his review (2) of Marci McDonald's book: The Armageddon Factor, which was mostly critical; admitted that he was a bit surprised by the number of these groups tied to several key cabinet ministers in Harper's government, in particular Stockwell Day. I, and many others, who have been sounding the alarm for some time, weren't.

Much of this goes back to the inception of the Reform Party, when they adopted a motion to allow right-wing fringe groups to join them, including Doug Christie's Western Canada Concept*, a separatist party. "In short the party leadership was trying to broaden it's right-wing support while not entirely surrendering it's attraction to fringe elements, at least some of whom were present at the Winnipeg Convention." (3)

In fact, some early members of the Reform Party created their own organization to act as a vanguard for these groups, called the Northern Foundation.

"... the Northern Foundation was the creation of a number of generally extreme right-wing conservatives, including Anne Hartmann (a director of REAL Women), Geoffrey Wasteneys (A long-standing member of the Alliance for the Preservation of English in Canada**), George Potter (also a member of the Alliance for the Preservation of English in Canada), author Peter Brimelow, Link Byfield (son of Ted Byfield and himself publisher/president of Alberta Report), and Stephen Harper." (4)
Harper would later claim that he was kicked out of the the NF for not being right-wing enough, and yet several of the original members, still play a prominent role in the movement, including Link Byfield (scroll down a bit) and REAL Women of Canada.

So I'm going to post a series of articles based on Lethbridge's Prescription for Fascism, since several of the names he mentions can also be found in McDonald's Armageddon Factor, bringing them into more contemporary context.

Continue to Health Coalitions


*Stockwell Day's father was a friend of
Doug Christie and a member of the Western Canada Concept Party. He often wrote articles for the party's newspaper.

"His father, Stockwell Day, Sr., was long associated with the Social Credit Party of Canada. In the 1972 federal election he was the Social Credit candidate running against New Democratic Party leader Tommy Douglas in the riding of Nanaimo—Cowichan—The Islands. Day, Sr., supported Doug Christie and was a member of the Western Canada Concept." (Wikipedia)

**One of Harper's new patronage senate appointments, Bob Runciman, a former Mike Harris MLA, was supportive of APEC:

“Leeds MPP Bob Runciman wrote [APEC] a supportive letter last month ... Runciman will be the English preservation group's guest speaker at its April 27 monthly meeting, according to Garner.” (Kingston Whig-Standard, April 11, 1987)

“It is ‘extremely important’ that the various groups opposed to French-language services ‘pull together,’ said Ontario Progressive Conservative MPP Robert Runciman.” (The Ottawa Citizen,
November 6, 1989)


1. Prescription For Fascism: Alternative Medicine and Right-Wing Politics, By David Lethbridge, April 2001

2. Marci McDonald, “The Armageddon Factor”, By Prof. John Stackhouse, May 18, 2010

3. Of Passionate Intensity: Right-Wing Populism and the Reform Party of Canada. Author: Trevor Harrison Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1995. ISBN: 0-8020-7204-6, Pg. 115-116

4. Harrison, 1995, Pg. 121

Monday, May 24, 2010

David Sweet, Spiritual Capital and Reconstructionism

When Darrel Reid was defeated as a Conservative candidate in 2006, he became "Vice President of Project Development for the Work Research Foundation, an organization with the stated mission to “influence people to a Christian view of work and public life.”"(1)

I must admit that I'd never heard of the 'Work Research Foundation' and wasn't quite sure what was meant by a "Christian view of work and public life". So I perused their site, and though they are now calling themselves Cardus, what I found was a bit alarming, beginning with this:

"Our mission is to rethink, research and rebuild North America's social architecture."

If you link to their audio section and scroll down to a 2005 recording, you can listen to a lecture series on something they call "spiritual capital." And just so there's no mistake, the re-introduction by Michael Van Pelt, clearly states that Cardus is the new name for Work Research Foundation. And Darrel Reid, Stephen Harper's deputy chief of staff, went right from there to Harper's office. From their site:

The third installment of our thINK audio series is here, and our latest WRF product is just in time: spiritual capital is a concept which provides the tread for walking faithfully in a society that gets more secular every day. First, David Sweet introduces, in layman's terms, the idea of "spiritual capital." (2)

For those who don't know, David Sweet is the MP for Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale, a backbencher in the Harper government. He introduces himself as the Vice-President of Business Development for the group.

I listened to all of the speakers and if there was ever a scripted mandate for a theocracy this is it. On his website, Sweet refers to himself as a motivational speaker, and it's pretty clear after listening to 15 minutes (twice) of his speech, that he is motivating business leaders to create a Christian workplace.

He praises one such leader for printing that his "Purpose was to honour God" on his business cards. Sweet goes on to describe what spiritual capital is, by suggesting that it could be equated to social, physical and human capital, all requirements to maximize profit. "Faith" economics and devoting your business to the "Glory of God". (when I was roaming I was linked to The Christian Labour Association, that even encourages companies be unionized by Christians)

The next speakers continue along the same vein, and what they describe is a Utopia where a company's mission statement is reflective of "Christian values", with a healthy dose of redemption.

They suggest that if a company bases their business on these "Christian values", it will be a workplace with integrity and little conflict. And rather than discouraging employees from discussing their religious beliefs, they encourage open discussion, even for non-Christians.

It's not too difficult to see what would take place here. You have a business with a stated Christian hierarchy. You employ non-Christians and then encourage open discussion of religious beliefs. Sounds like proselytizing to me. And what happens if those non-Christians don't see the light? Will there be accusations of religious harassment, that would be similar to sexual harassment, where an employee is "saved" or risks losing their job?

Darrel Reid once suggested that gay rights are a form of Nazi tyranny. Is there a place for gays in this wonderful, non-conflict workplace?

Templeton Foundation

One of the groups that David Sweet promotes is the Templeton Foundation:

The mission of the Templeton Foundation is: to serve as a philanthropic catalyst for discoveries relating to the Big Questions of human purpose and ultimate reality. We support research on subjects ranging from complexity, evolution, and infinity to creativity, forgiveness, love, and free will. We encourage civil, informed dialogue among scientists, philosophers, and theologians and between such experts and the public at large, for the purposes of definitional clarity and new insights.

One of those 'Big Questions' is answered through intelligent design, rather than evolution. The foundation has also been embroiled in controversy, because despite the fact that they claim to be non-partisan, they regularly provide funding to Conservative groups, including Ari Fleischer's Freedom's Watch.

They have also garnered "criticism from some members in the scientific community who are concerned with its linking of scientific and religious questions."

Another speaker mentions that they had just completed a project with the Max De Pree Center, in Pasadena California, where they promote a 'servant leadership' program, and recently hosted a seminar on the "Morality of the Market."

So what does this all mean?

David Sweet and Darrel Reid from the Harper government are both involved with the Work Research Foundation, now Cardus, who are working to 'Rebuild North America's social architecture' by promoting Christian businesses.

Michael Van Pelt, another speaker on the podcast, is a new appointee at Rights and Democracy, which has been embroiled in controversy after their hostile takeover by the Harper government.

Ray Pennings, another speaker, is the chair of Redeemer University College, where the 4th speaker, Gideon Strauss is one of the faculty.

David Sweet hosted a National House of Prayer 'dessert reception' there, where the faithful were invited to "Come and hear what God is doing in our Government." And Redeemer College recently received three million dollars of public money - our money; despite the fact that they are an elite private Bible school.

Welcome to Reconstructionism 101. Leave your souls at the door.


1. Wikipedia: Darrel Reid

2. Spiritual Capital, By Ray Pennings and Michael Van Pelt, CARDUS, July 1, 2005

My Apologies to Timothy Bloedow, But I do not Hate Christians

A CULTURE OF DEFIANCE: History of the Reform-Conservative Party of Canada

I posted an item yesterday about the Evangelical Fellowship, and received an email from Timothy Bloedow, legislative assistant to Reform-Conservative MP Maurice Vellacott, correcting an error I had made regarding affiliation. I have temporarily taken the posting down, but will repost once I have corrected the error, because I still believe that the message is an important one.

However, Mr. Bloedow accused me of hating Christians, and nothing could be further from the truth. What I pointed out to him is that since the Religious Right movement has decided to enter the "public square", as they like to describe their political activism, they can no longer declare religious immunity.

They are helping to determine how our tax dollars are being spent, so we have a right to question their motives. And we also have a right to expose groups that claim to be non-profit, enjoying all of the tax breaks that go along with that, when they are clearly simply another voice for the Harper government.

Stephen Harper himself once complained about Stockwell Day exploiting religious groups for political gain, when it was discovered during their leadership race in 2002, that The Campaign Life Coalition, an anti-abortion lobby group backing Day, had sent out 130,000 letters asking its supporters to donate money so the organization could buy memberships in bulk to help their chosen candidate. (1)

I visited Bloedow's website, and he has an item where he is attacking Marci McDonald's book, The Armageddon Factor. Or actually he is attacking Prof. John Stackhouse's critique of the book, when he concurs with her that "there are Christians about whom even other Christians should be wary, especially those who talk about things like theocracy and Christian government (Reconstructionism). For some reason, almost everyone who thinks Christian theocracy also thinks stoning of homosexuals as though the two are synonymous." (2)

Bloedow suggests, and rightfully so, that murder is a criminal offense, so the actual physical act of stoning someone to death would be against the law. Fair enough.

However, there is more than one way to 'stone a homosexual'. Or a woman. Or Muslims. Or any other identifiable group being marginalized in the name of Christianity. You do it by cutting their funding. By erasing them from a guide on Canadian identity and by viscerally attacking them on what are supposed to be "faith based" websites.

In his defense, Bloedow's site is mild compared with many others I've visited, but in at least one headline he refers to 'Equal' or 'Same-Sex' marriage as "Homo-sexual marriage", as if a person's identity is based solely on their sexuality.

We don't call it "hetero-sexual marriage" or "people who like threesomes marriage". It is simply "marriage". It is two people committing to one another, who want to share that commitment with family and friends, and who want to be recognized as equal citizens.

So when I posted the following 1987 quote from the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, it was with the utmost respect:

The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada affirms the rights of all Canadians, including homosexuals, to share in the privi­leges of a free and democratic society. We uphold the view that the Scriptures teach that homosexual practice is unac­ceptable. At the same time, we call on all Christians to affirm justice and equality to all people. (3)

On Bloedow's suggestion, I am going to write to them to apologize for aligning them with the new branch of political evangelism that does not seek "to affirm justice and equality to all people."

And as I told him, Marci McDonald has opened a debate that was long overdue, and may have actually done them a favour. She has brought what they call 'Christian Conservatives' into the "public square." We just want to know who they are and what they want from us. And if they are indeed being partially funded by their American counterparts, that speaks to our sovereignty, since it means that a foreign country is meddling in Canadian democracy.

And we also want to know why all the secrets. Secrets only lead to speculation, so if your intentions are not as being warned, you tell us what they really are.

I quoted from the Evangelical Fellowship because I've always been drawn to religious organizations with messages of tolerance. That's what I grew up believing Christianity to be.

And maybe that's why so many of us are speaking out against this movement, because it is not about instilling "Christian values", but destroying them.


1. Day slips into Bible college for Rally, By S. Alberts, National Post, February 13, 2002

2. What does theocracy REALLY mean? By Tim Bloedow, Christian Government, May 23, 2010

3. Fragmented Gods: The Poverty and Potential of Religion in Canada, By Reginald W. Bibby, Stoddard Publishing Company, 1987, Pg. 160

Another Excellent Posting by Murray Dobbin on Flaherty's Roulette Wheel of Our Finances

Several days ago I posted a tongue in cheek piece on Jim Flaherty's playing fast and loose with our money.

Our biggest concern of course is his inviting sub-prime mortgages into Canada to destabilize our once sound banking system.

And while Flaherty and Harper are loudly suggesting that Canada did not have to bail out our banks, we very much did, by having to buy back an enormous amount of "high-risk" debt.

According to journalist Murray Dobbin:

First, we put up $70 billion to buy up iffy mortgages from the big five banks, through the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, taking them off the banks’ balance sheets. That is almost the exact equivalent the US bailout – it spent ten times as much, $700 billion, and its economy is about 10 times as large.

Secondly, the Harper government established a fund of $200 billion to backstop the banks – money they could borrow if they needed it. The government had to borrow billions – mostly from the banks! – to do it. ..

Third, the government now insures 100% of virtually all mortgages through CMHC eliminating risk for the banks – and opening the door to the ridiculous flood of housing loans we have seen over the past few years. The result: housing has become unaffordable for tens of thousands of Canadians and new rental housing has dried up.

Yet after loading us with this extra debt and risk, they are fighting tooth and nail against the "Robin Hood" tax, which might help to stabilize our economy.

I know that neoconservatism means starving the beast, but this hungry beast could devour us, as we have been left vulnerable, without the protection we mistakenly believed was there.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Ezra Levant Gives Marci McDonald's Armageddon Factor a Thumbs Up!

" In her book The Armageddon Factor, Marci McDonald has a lot of nasty things to say about Christians in Canada. She calls hem "retrograde and exclusionary," "militant," "radical," practitioners of "apartheid" who have a "dark and dangerous vision." And then she takes a run at Jews and Sikhs, too."

That is from Ezra Levant's column in the National Post, discussing McDonald's new book.

I was just on the Amazon site and they have sold out, and with ringing endorsements from the Conservative naysayers I think it's destined to be a best seller.

What Levant is trying to do, is just what we expected the Religious Right to do. Claim that the book is an attack on Christians (and of course he includes Sikhs and Jews). However, it is not an attack on any one's religion, only an expose of the political clout of the Religious Right.

This is something that needs to be debated in this country, not from a religious viewpoint, but from a political one.

As things like abortion, same-sex marriage, tolerance for Muslims and war are argued on their merit, it's important to know how much money is coming from the American Religious Right to interfere with our political process.

And the fact that Stephen Harper has openly courted this political movement, even if, as he claims, it means putting more muscle into our foreign policy, that's critical information.

But thank you Ezra and all others in Harper's inner circle. Keep those comments coming, because the book couldn't have a better endorsement.

And to borrow from Shakespeare: Me thinks thou ..."dost protest too much."

In the Light of Day: Anne Coulter, Tom Tancredo and Controlled Controversy

In April of 2009 U.S. Republican Tom Tancredo was supposed to speak at the University of North Carolina.

According to the Raleigh News and Observer

Before the event, campus security removed two women who delayed Tancredo's speech by stretching a 12-foot banner across the front of the classroom. It read, “No dialogue with hate.”

Police escorted the women into the hallway, amid more than 30 protesters who clashed with the officers trying to keep them out of the overcrowded classroom. After police released pepper spray and threatened the crowd with a Taser, the protesters gathered outside Bingham Hall.

Police spokesman Randy Young said the pepper spray was “broadcast” to clear the hallway. He said officers' use of force was under investigation by the department. But campus visitors and some faculty members in the capacity crowd of 150 urged the students to let Tancredo speak.

The protesters relented, and Tancredo began to speak, describing failed state and federal legislation aimed at providing in-state tuition benefits for undocumented immigrants. Two women stretched out another banner, first along one of the aisles and then right in front of Tancredo. Tancredo grabbed the middle of the banner and tried to pull it away from one of the girls. “You don't want to hear what I have to say because you don't agree with me,” he said.

The sound of breaking glass from behind a window shade interrupted the tug-of-war. Tancredo was escorted from the room by campus police. (1)

Tancredo was a controversial Republican candidate for the presidency. He is strongly anti-immigration and once suggested bombing mosques in the Middle East as a deterrent for another attack on the U.S.

He is also the honorary chairman of Youth for Western Civilization, a group financed through the Leadership Institute of Morton Blackwell. According to YWC there were about 300 protesters at UNC that night, and even the professors were encouraging the students. They also claimed that they threw rocks through windows smashing them. But according to the news report one window to the classroom where Tancreno was speaking, was broken when an over zealous protester pounded on the glass.

He later apologized and was dealt with.

However, given the expected volatile nature of his visit, why did they have him speak in such a small classroom? Why not one of the halls? The university did not try to prevent him from appearing.

It's called controlled controversy and it's one of the techniques taught in the Campus Leadership Training program at the Leadership Institute.

Unlike chapter-based political organizations, CLP clubs are unaffiliated with either the Leadership Institute or each other. According to Blackwell, this trait offers a serious advantage: "No purges." The clubs' independence also comes with the benefit of plausible deniability. "You can get away with stuff that you would take a lot of flak for doing in the College Republicans," says CLP director Dan Flynn. (2)
The Youth for Western Civilization, which has been cited as a hate group, for their pro-white messages, hosted Trancedo because they knew he would rile the student groups. They advertised heavily and deliberately made sure that the venue would not house everyone wanting to attend. Most of the people in the audience were "silent protesters".

When he spoke, they turned their chairs around, so he would be speaking to their backs. Tancredo himself, was the first to make a move when he grabbed the banner the girls were holding up. This angered those outside the classroom and the police had to quiet them with the 'threat' of a tasar which they shot into the air creating an arch.

I saw the video and it was a heated exchange, but not a violent exchange. I believe the only people hurt were the man who accidentally put his fist through the glass and Tancredo when an officer stepped on his toe.

And despite the fact they claimed that the university professors were involved, they were actually trying to quiet the students down and told them to "let him speak."

But it worked beautifully. Because despite the fact that Tancredo's message was against multiculturalism, the news the next day was about the "extreme left wing groups," their violent protests and their attempt to silence free speech. The university publicly apologized and the YWC snickered and high-fived, as they had carefully engineered themselves into becoming the 'victims'.

Anne Coulter and a Little Controlled Controversy

Ann Coulter is the controversial American comedian, in the Howard Stern vein. Her shtick is gay and Muslim baiting.

Popular during the Bush administration , it would appear that she was past her prime. That stuff is only funny to those who find it funny, for a while, and then it just gets tired and old.

But then a group calling themselves the International Free Press Society in conjunction with the Clare Booth Luce Policy Institute, sponsored her visit to three Canadian Universities: Western, Ottawa and Calgary.

Before the Ottawa event, a $250.00 a plate dinner was held for Conservative supporters, sponsored by the Ottawa Campus Conservatives and arranged by Ashley Scorpio, who is listed in the government's electronic directory, as a "... staffer working in the office of Conservative MP Gerald Keddy. She has also worked for Ontario Conservative MP Patrick Brown and was once an administrative assistant in the Harper PMO". (3)

Because of her books and columns, bashing anyone not a neoconservative, the Provost of the University of Ottawa sent Coulter a letter with a gentle reminder that Canada had tougher hate speech laws than the United States, so she should be mindful of that.

Just what her team had hoped for. Ezra Levant went nuts and turned the whole thing into a three-ring circus. According to him there were 2000 violent protesters all after her head. So threatening were they, that poor Ms. Coulter had to cancel the event because the Ottawa police warned her that they could not offer her protection.

Apparently her new shtick is making stuff up, and her side shtick Ezra Levant, played the bumbling clown.

First, contrary to what Coulter seems to suggest in a brief phone interview with scribe Colby Cosh, it was not the police who "shut it down." I spoke with Ottawa Police Services media relations officer Alain Boucher this morning, and he told me, in no uncertain terms, that it was her security team that made the decision to call off the event. "We gave her options" -- including, he said, to "find a bigger venue" -- but "they opted to cancel ... It's not up to the Ottawa police to make that decision." (4)

It was clearly nothing more than a publicity stunt and a bit of controlled controversy, because the debate became about "freedom of speech, " and not hate-mongering, which was far more damaging, because we are now asked to decide whether or not we think it's OK to bash Muslims.

Because if it had been about free speech, there would have been no trouble with George Galloway visiting. And since we now know that Jason Kenney was directly behind it, the Conservatives and their supporters don't get to play that card.

But what I would like to know is who these people are who arranged her visit, and what they have to do with the Conservative Party of Canada.

The International Free Press Society

Despite the fact that it was determined that Coulter cancelled the event herself, and the biggest threat was that someone jokingly commented that they would like to pie her, the website of the International Free Press Society had this to say:

It is interesting to see the aftermath of Canada’s Ottawa University after an unruly crowd of leftist and Islamic protesters through threats vandalism and intimidation, shut down a planned speech by Ann Coulter.

You can visit their site here if you want to learn more about Ezra Levant. And here. They are definitely fans.

But who are they? Three words: Islamic hate group.

Their founder, the Danish Lars Hedegaard has stated that: "The modern Islamism, which nearly all Danish imams advocates call themselves a religion, but is first and foremost a political ideology in line with communism and Nazism."

You can buy copies of the Danish cartoons from them for $ 250.00 a pop, and presently they are raising funds for the Dutch MP Geert Wilders.

The fiercely anti-Islam Dutch MP Geert Wilders has been traveling through the U.S. this week on a highly-publicised trip to meet with politicians, promote his controversial film ‘Fitna’, and raise money for his legal defence back home.

Although Wilders’s stated goal has been to campaign for free speech, his trip has been sponsored and promoted by an unlikely coalition of groups united primarily by their hostility towards Islam. His backers include neoconservative and right-wing Jewish groups on the one hand and figures with ties to the European far right on the other.

On Friday, he capped his busy week with an appearance at the National Press Club. At the event, he reiterated his calls for a halt to immigration from Muslim countries and pronounced, to raucous applause from the audience, that "our Western culture based on Christianity, Judaism, and humanism is in every aspect better than Islamic culture".

Wilders is also known for campaigning to ban the Koran, Islamic attire, and Islamic schools from the Netherlands, and for proclaiming that "moderate Islam does not exist."

... An event he held at a Boston-area synagogue was sponsored by the Republican Jewish Coalition, an influential group whose board members include casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, and neoconservative writer David Frum, who attended Wilders’s Friday event in Washington. (5)

Well there you go. David Frum and Ari Fleischer. Both Bush administration alumni and Harper insiders. Frum is a good friend of Jason Kenney, Stockwell Day and Ezra Levant, and his sister Linda, was one of Harper's patronage senate appointments. And we all know Ari Fleischer, who has been given untendered contracts by our government, to help fend off accusations of alleged war crimes.

And the Clare Booth Luce Institute is just kind of a silly Conservative women's group who publish a calendar every year of "Hot Conservative Women".

Boy is the Conservative brand ever in the gutter. Hatred and exploiting women. And they claim to do it all for Jesus. No wonder so many people are turning to atheism.


1. Protest Stops Tancredo Speech, By Jesse James DeConto, Staff Writer, Raleigh News and Observer, April 15, 2009

2. My Right-wing Degree, By Horwitz, May 24, 2005

3. Ann Coulter and Canada's Conservatives, By: David Akin,, March 23, 2010

4. Sorry Ann Coulter, Canada's Just Not That Into You, By Michael Rowe, Huffington Post, March 25, 2010

5. Dutch Foe of Islam Ignores US Allies' Far Right Ties, By Daniel Luban and Eli Clifton, IPS, February 28, 2009

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Stephen Harper Revives the Accurate News and Information Act

In 1935, Alberta elected the first Social Credit government in the world and a man by the name of William Aberhart, would be named premier of Alberta.

Upon his death, his lieutenant, Ernest Manning took the reins and ran Alberta for several decades. Later Ernest's son Preston Manning would found the Reform Party and his lieutenant Stephen Harper would head up the same party under the Alliance banner and later the (Reform) Conservative Party of Canada.

In a 1997 speech to the Council for National Policy, Stephen Harper himself stated "The predecessor of the Reform party, the Social Credit party ..." and also claims that "It's the closest thing we have to a neo-conservative party ...". (1)

From the moment that the social credit movement began, Aberhart, dubbed "Bible Bill", waged war on the media, and after his election victory, according to Time Magazine:
Without crudely borrowing the name of Germany's "Ministry of Propaganda & Public Enlightenment," Premier Aberhart announced that Alberta Government news will hereafter be "dished out in platters" by a bureau with exclusive monopoly of statements from the Premier & Cabinet so that ''there will be no more scoops." (2)
But journalists doing what journalists do, scooped him all over the place. This prompted the Alberta legislature to pass what was called The Accurate News and Information Act, which essentially was an attempt to muzzle the press, and according to Time Magazine: The .. bill would force Alberta newspapers to give as much as one full page to presentation of the Government's views verbatim at any time upon demand. (3) And:
The act empowered the chair of the Social Credit Board to require a newspaper to reveal the names and addresses of its sources, as well as the names and addresses of any writers, including of unsigned pieces. Non-compliance would result in fines of up to $1,000 per day, and prohibitions on the publishing of the offending newspaper, of stories by offending writers, or of information emanating from offending sources. The act also required newspapers to print, at the instruction of the chair of the Social Credit Board, any statement "which has for its object the correction or amplification of any statement relating to any policy or activity of the Government of the Province." (4)
The Supreme Court eventually overturned this measure as being unconstitutional. But the real story here is the media's reaction. They fought William Aberhart tooth and nail and they won. Don Brown, the reporter who led the charge and his paper, the Edmonton Journal were awarded a bronze plaque from the Pulitzer Prize committee, the first time it honoured a non-American newspaper. And ninety-five other papers, including the Calgary Albertan, Edmonton Bulletin, Calgary Herald, Lethbridge Herald, and Medicine Hat News, were presented with engraved certificates. (5)

Fast Forward to Another 'Time':

In 2006, roughly seven decades after the founder of this movement, William Aberhart, attempts to strangle the media; his successor, Stephen Harper also makes Time Magazine, as they report that:
--The PMO has restricted what Cabinet ministers, embassies, consulates and some Members of Parliament can say and do without first having their plans vetted by the PMO.

--Officials decide which reporters get to ask questions at the Prime Minister's press conferences and sometimes pass over those they suspect have questions they don't want to deal with.

--The PMO has not announced some of Harper's meetings with national and international leaders.

--The PMO has placed undue restrictions on allowing reporters into photo ops in the Prime Minister's Centre Block office, even though they have traditionally been allowed access. The PMO last week beefed up security and allowed only photographers and camera operators into a meeting in which children presented daffodils to Harper as part of a campaign to raise awareness for cancer research. Reporters who had been barred from the session got into a minor shoving match with Commons security guards.

With Parliament starting a new session this week, the journalists, at least, say the issues at stake are critical. "We contribute as members of the press to holding the government accountable for its actions," says Latraverse. "Canadians should be worried when they see the government trying to exert such an unprecedented level of control." (6)
But a lot has happened since 2006, and what we have today is a government that does not speak to us, except in carefully scripted soundbites, and a media that gave up the fight long ago.

So should we really be surprised to learn that when youth were invited to 'question' their prime minister' that this would happen:
Youths who participated in a question-and-answer session with Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Monday say their questions were edited by the Prime Minister’s Office. Other youths had earlier explained that the questions were selected by Vision Internationale, a non-profit Christian group, and then edited by Harper’s office.
And when Anna Fricker, a young ambassador for the group, discovered that her question on maternal health had been edited, she spoke out:
Fricker was then interrupted by an organizer who would not identify herself except to say, "I’m supposed to be handling the media." "I would appreciate if you could just work with us so that we can keep this consistent message," she said. "I’m just supposed to keep this under control."
A Christian group hired to "keep this under control". Whose control?

And the Globe and Mail also stated that he avoided any questions on the environment, something young people are very concerned about:
Raimey Gallant is putting on the record the question she wanted to ask Stephen Harper at a G8/G20 forum Monday but couldn’t because of a process she believes was so stage-managed as to be insulting.

The 30-year-old student from Winnipeg’s Red River College wanted to talk to the Prime Minister about the environment. She wanted to ask about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and she even censored herself by making her question a little tamer in hopes it would be picked. It didn’t happen.

... Anything beyond the economy, including issues frequently covered by the national media, is a “sideshow,” the Prime Minster said.

“The whole sideshow thing, I think that insulted me the most,” Ms. Raimey told The Globe today. “I was really upset by that. I find it extremely insulting because we are Canadians, too, and these issues are important to us. If our Prime Minister thinks they are sideshows – I mean this isn’t a government of one.”
This "isn't a government of one"? Silly girl. Of course it is.

But as much as the media is now crying foul, it should not have taken a group of young people to point out that government information is so "stage-managed it's insulting." It should be insulting to everyone in this country, especially our media.

Because the real story here is that they did not fight this. They laid down for a man who is not only taking his own photos and writing his own copy, but "dishing out news on platters."

So who among them will win a plaque from the Pulitzer prize committee for breaking through the silence? How many Canadian newspapers will win certificates for standing up to this totalitarian regime?

These young people deserve an apology. But not an apology from the PMO, but an apology from Canada's press who allowed this to happen.

Thomas Jefferson once said: "Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost."

The media should uphold that in the same way that a doctor upholds the Hippocratic Oath to "first do no harm". But as these young people have pointed out, the harm has already been done.


1. Full text of Stephen Harper's 1997 speech, CBC News, December 14, 2005

2. Social Credit Improved, Time Magazine, September 16, 1935

3. Bill's Bills, Time Magazine, October 18, 1937

4. Bible Bill: A Biography of William Aberhart, By: David R. Elliot and Iris Miller, Edmonton: Reidmore Books, 1987, Pg. 272-273

5. The Dynasty: The Rise and Fall of Social Credit in Alberta, By John J. Barr, McClelland and Stewart Limited, ISBN 077101015X, Pg. 112-113

6. Controlling The Message, By Steven Frank, April 03, 2006

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

From Tommy Douglas to the Exclusive Brethren: What a Journey

A CULTURE OF DEFIANCE: History of the Reform-Conservative Party of Canada

"If instead of giving gems or flowers, we could drop a beautiful thought into the heart of a friend, that would be giving as the angels give." Tommy Douglas

The wonderful Tommy Douglas (1904-1986) once told a story of a day when his father, a burly iron worker, returned home at a time when the local minister was visiting.

"As was his custom, [he] tramped into the kitchen in his dirty pants and boots, the smell of molten metal still clinging to him. "I'm going to have a bottle of beer," he told their guest. "Would you like one?""

The straight laced minister declined.

Douglas claimed that his mother and the rest of the family were horrified, and he decided on that day that if he was going to be a minister, he would be "one who would accept a glass of beer at a parishioner's home, who would accept his parishioners as he found them and would strive to be one of them." (1)

What inspired Tommy Douglas was not the judgemental man of the cloth, but the pain he saw in the faces of his family, the judged, and he vowed to never inflict that kind of pain. He vowed to be one of them and he was always one of us.

Marci McDonald's book, the Armageddon Factor*, will hopefully encourage debate in this country, about the influence of the American Religious Right movement in all it's ugliness. They are promoting a culture war, that is supposed to pit Christians against non-believers.

But we have to remember that this will not be a war against Christians, but against a political movement that is threatening to tear down Canadian society. And I firmly believe that Tommy Douglas would be on our side.

Because he was the epitome of the Canadian spirit. One of the nicest men to have ever called Canada home.

The Exclusive Brethren and the Harper Government

Out of nowhere in 2004, an obscure religious sect burst onto the political stage in Australia. Almost unheard of until then, the Exclusive Brethren was suddenly spending up big in election advertising in support of conservative political parties. But its members were shy to the point of paranoia about who they were, preferring, as they said, to fly under the radar.

Brethren members assiduously lobbied politicians, but did not vote. And they were very close to the-then prime minister John Howard.

What exactly was their interest in politics? Why did their activism suddenly blossom almost simultaneously across the world, from Canada and the United States to Sweden and Australia? And how did a small, fringe group, whose values are utterly detached from those of most Australians, infiltrate the highest office in the land? (2)

In the run-up to the 2006 federal election campaign, and the debate over Bill C-38, referred to as the same-sex marriage act; international fundamentalist groups took a keen interest in the Canadian political scene. Fearing what it meant if the gay and lesbian communities were given equal rights in Canada, they threw millions of dollars behind a variety of movements, all to interfere with our political process. And the man who was running to represent them, Stephen Harper, promised to embrace that interference, rather than protect our sovereignty.

To the American Religious Right there was a concern that our "loose morals" would head south, but why such a keen interest from the Exclusive Brethren? A cult from the United Kingdom? They have now set up offices in Calgary and apparently are even establishing schools here. Do they also believe that Canada will be hosting the "end times", and want a front row seat?

Although they are throwing money into all movement conservative governments, and attacking liberal ones. Their political demands are a seamless mix of business breaks and hard-line Christian morality. Under Hales, the Exclusive Brethren have become a new player in the right-wing politics of the world. And they have lots and lots and lots of money. (3) (my emphasis)

Australia - They poured a lot of money into John Howard's campaign and seem to have had ready access to the PM, much to the dismay of other church groups, committed to social justice. (4) They also made things difficult for the opposition.

A feisty night of heckling in the 2004 Australian elections was the first - but neglected - clue that the sect had plunged into politics. Greens candidate and intelligence whistleblower Andrew Wilkie was at the Gladesville RSL campaigning when a dull night turned nasty. "They had such a threatening presence about them," Wilkie recalled. "They weren't violent but they were very aggressive."

Voices from the back taunted the candidate about his own marriage and about party leader Bob Brown's homosexuality. "I completely enraged them by endorsing Bob and his sexuality. It got them really wound up." All in all, it was an ugly experience. "I'm pretty streetwise," said Wilkie. "But I was rattled." (3)

United States
A fortnight after Howard's re-election, a group called the "Thanksgiving 2004 Committee" registered with the US Internal Revenue Service and placed ads in Florida newspapers supporting the Senate campaign of Cuban-American Mel Martinez, a passionate campaigner against gay marriage ... On election day, the committee placed a hugely expensive full-page ad supporting Bush in The New York Times under the banner headline: "America Is In Safe Hands."

When the financial returns of the Thanksgiving 2004 Committee were published by the Federal Elections Commission in January last year, they revealed that US 377,262 (almost $517,000) of more than $US600,000 raised by the committee came from a Londoner called Bruce Hazell. Press calls to Hazell established little except that he was Exclusive Brethren. (3)


A political conflagration was soon blazing as the Canadian Parliament debated same-sex marriage. In March last year, households in the electorate of every member supporting the bill received a greeting card raging against the legislation: "The suicidal rush to fundamentally change a 6000-year-old
institution is the canker that will destroy the roots of Canada's 'living tree'."

"What I do not respect is tens of thousands of dollars being spent anonymously with absolutely no way to contact this organisation," said a Canadian Liberal MP, Mark Holland. "My office has been contacted by hundreds of residents who are extremely upset. Maybe this is acceptable to the Opposition but I would like to know who is behind it. We do not know who is behind it. Is there foreign money? Is there a political party behind it?"

His questions were answered by advertising agent Ron Heggie a few days before the Civil Marriage Act was passed last July. Questioned by journalists after placing
a newspaper ad attacking the legislation, Heggie said he and the "Concerned Canadian parents" were Exclusive Brethren. ... (3)

They also took out a full page ad in the Hill Times. (5)

According to Marci McDonald* the Brethren have hired the services of Conservative insider Gerald Chipeur, who has represented the Reform-Alliance-Conservative Party for some time. He was the one who wrote the letter to the Bloc asking for a coalition with Stockwell Day in 2000. (6) Day stated that he knew nothing of the letter but a story in the New York Times published then, revealed otherwise. They also quoted his backer, Conrad Black as lambasting Day for fooling around with separatists. (7)

Chipeur has become the regular counsel for cases challenged on the basis of religious freedom, in the same way that Doug Christie became synonymous with representing the neo-Nazis. There is certainly nothing wrong with that, because everyone has the right to hire a lawyer, and when you can afford it, an expert lawyer. A funny co-incidence is that Chipeur has had a long relationship with Stockwell Day, while Day's father had a long relationship with Doug Christie. It's common knowledge available on Wikipedia.

His father, Stockwell Day, Sr., was long associated with the Social Credit Party of Canada. In the 1972 federal election he was the Social Credit candidate running against New Democratic Party leader Tommy Douglas in the riding of Nanaimo—Cowichan—The Islands. Day, Sr., supported Doug Christie and was a member of the Western Canada Concept.

I don't think Canadians realize how well connected the Harper government is with the Religious Right, not only in America but elsewhere. They are wealthy and they are motivated. Just getting rid of Stephen Harper will not be enough. We have got to vote to get rid of this party, and once they are gone lobby government to put legislation in place that will prevent something like this from happening again.

A good place to start would be to cancel 'non-profit' status the moment a group becomes partisan, and any church that gets involved with a political party, also loses their tax exempt status.

And we have to be diligent. Everyone should have the freedom to practice their religion, but no one should be given the power to legislate it. Tommy Douglas promoted a social gospel that was inclusive of everyone. This movement on the other hand, is inclusive and divisive, and most members are not even Canadian.

I want my country back.


*The Armageddon Factor: The Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada, By: Marci McDonald, Random House Canada, 2010, ISBN: 978-0-307-35646-8


1. Tommy Douglas: Building the New Society, By Dave Margoshes, XYZ Publishing, 1999, ISBN: 0-9683601-4-9

2. Behind the Exclusive Brethren, By: Michael Bachelard, Scribe Publications, 2008, ISBN-10: 1921372281

3. Exclusive Brethren: Hidden prophets, By: David Marr, Sydney Morning Herald, Australia, July 1, 2006

4. Elusive Exclusive Brethren, By Wendy Carlisle, ABC Radio Australia, April 30, 2006

5. Secretive religious sect behind anti-gay ads: MPs targeted by mail and ads funded by Exclusive Brethren, By Peter O'Neil, July 15, 2005

6. Day denies report of 2000 coalition plot with Bloc: Former Alliance leader once told reporters, 'I'm not big on labels', CBC, December 3, 2008 .

7. Rightist Shocks Canadians By Flirting With Separatists, By James Brooke, New York Times, August 3, 2000

Monday, May 17, 2010

Catechism and the Indoctrination of Children

When I was about nine-years-old I met a girl about my age, who had just moved into the neighbourhood. It was at the beginning of summer vacation and for the next two months we were inseparable.

Sleepovers, shared meals and shared lives. We had become like sisters.

Until the day I uncovered a "secret" that changed everything.

One of our favourite places to play had been in a nearby public schoolyard. The paved area was perfect for skipping and they had a swing and a climber. Things not found at my school, which was some distance away.

One day in late august, we ventured a bit closer to the school building and walked around the parameter. My friend would peer into the windows and remark on the things she saw inside.

Finally as she reached the windows to a room without juvenile pictures on the wall, she said "I wonder if that will be my classroom." I was mortified. We had never discussed religion or school all summer, but on that day, I discovered that my new friend was a Protestant.

I was Catholic and we were taught not to trust Protestants, because they were not going to Heaven and may try to lure us to their wicked ways.

Up to that time I had been very careful to choose my associates wisely. However, many of my regular playmates lived closer to the separate school I attended, so we didn't see each other much in the summer. I had let my guard down and was terrified of the consequences.

So when Sunday rolled around, I couldn't wait to get to Church. Throughout the Latin mass, I fidgeted until the time for Confession. I practically fell to my knees before my executioner, hurrying through the "Bless me father for I have sinned ... " I'm sure I included the usual laundry list of a nine-year-old sinner. "I told a lie, I hit my brother, I 'accidentally' dropped my sister's transistor radio into a sink full of suds because she wouldn't let me listen to it."

But then came the whopper. The one I was sure would shake the rafters of the church and cause the statue of the Virgin Mary to weep. "And I played with a Protestant."

I have to admit the reaction from the old priest was not what I had expected. He chuckled. He actually laughed at my demise. And when handing down my sentence of five Hail Marys and as many Our Fathers, he left me with a bit of advice. "Instead of a friend become not an enemy to thy neighbour: for an evil man shall inherit reproach and shame..."

Actually, I don't really remember if that was the quote he used, though it was probably something from Ecclesiasticus, because he often mentioned that in his sermons. The only part of the mass I remembered, because it was the only time he spoke English.

But whatever it was, it translated to "lighten up". However, my Catechism had trained me well, and I never saw that girl again, except in passing. She found other friends from her school, and I got on with my life.

It was only later that I realized that the Catechism that was drilled into my head for the first hour of every school day was an indoctrination, not a teaching. And for that reason I never sent my own children to separate schools, even though I know they don't teach that way now. I did have them all baptized Catholic, however, so I guess a little of the "guilt" stayed with me.

Public Schools Thine are my Enemy

At the 1991 Reform Party Assembly, a guest speaker was William Gairdner, author of the book The Trouble with Canada, which journalist Murray Dobbin stated ".. helped lay the groundwork for Reform Party policy." (1) Reform Party policy which was then being drafted by Stephen Harper.

The Reformers gathered in Saskatoon saved perhaps the loudest cheers, whistles, and applause for Gairdner's last shot: 'And my favourite proposal, by the way, is returning choice to education by privatizing every school in the country'.(1)

Public schooling has long been a target of the Religious Right, both here and in the United States. Part of the reason is their belief in a social Darwinism, with a clear societal structure. Stephen Harper has always been against any social programs that promote universality, forgetting that things like universal health care and public education helped many Canadians to rise to the top.

In a speech to the National Citizens Coalition in 1994, while still MP for Calgary West, he crowed over public policy changes that he attributed to the Reform Party’s influence:

"The Liberal government in Ottawa has announced... no new major social spending programs," he said. "Universality has been severely reduced: It is virtually dead as a concept in most areas of public policy. The family allowance program has been eliminated and unemployment insurance has been seriously cut back." (2)
Later when he was running the NCC, he endorsed a private school tax credit proposed by the Ontario government of Mike Harris, and told the Hill Times that "pulling their children from 'union-run' schools should be a viable option for all parents." (3)

So should it come as any surprise that the Canada Action Plan included 26 million dollars being funnelled to private Bible schools? (4)

Because that is the real reason why movement Conservatives, like Stephen Harper and many members of his caucus and staff, oppose public education. Religion or lack thereof. They are afraid that the concept of secularism is depriving their children of an education drafted within a Biblical framework.

And this is why they prefer home schooling or private faith based schools, which are often an indoctrination, more than an education that will prepare children for the real world. That will allow them to interact with people of all faiths, even if that faith does not include their God or any god at all.

Religious leaders are well aware of the vulnerability of the child brain, and the importance of getting the indoctrination in early. The Jesuit boast, 'Give me the child for his first seven years, and I'll give you the man,' is no less accurate (or sinister) for being hackneyed. In more recent times, James Dobson*, founder of today's infamous 'Focus on the Family' movement," is equally acquainted with the principle: 'Those who control what young people are taught, and what they experience – what they see, hear, think, and believe – will determine the future course for the nation. (5)

And Marcie McDonald also writes of James Dobson and his views on public education:

In the United States, Dobson has urged parents to abandon the public school system, which he sees as a breeding ground for secular humanism, hostile to the Book of Genesis and prayer. “I hope I live to see the day when, as in the early days of our country, we won’t have any public schools,” agreed Jerry Falwell, the founder of the Moral Majority that helped sweep Ronald Reagan into power.

“The churches will have taken them over again, and Christians will be running them.”Those may be long-term aspirations, but the US religious right has learned that patience pays off. (6)

Jim Flaherty: the Man on a Mission

In Flaherty's 2007 budget, he slipped in a little gem, that allowed our tax dollars to fund tuition fees for private religious schools.**

He and Stephen Harper defended the move, by saying that it would also apply to public schools. But public schools don't charge tuition:

The Harper government is giving a tax break to families who send their kids to elite private schools, raising the ire of public education advocates.

Under a little-noticed measure in last month's budget, scholarships and bursaries to attend elementary and secondary school will now be fully tax exempt. Finance officials estimate the new exemption will mean "significant tax savings" for about 1,000 students – or, by extension, their parents.

Officials insisted that the exemption applies to scholarships for either public or private schools. But they couldn't supply any examples of public schools – which are funded from the public purse and don't charge tuition fees – awarding scholarships or bursaries. (7)

This despite the fact that Canadians have consistently stated that they do not want their tax dollars funding these "elite" schools. In fact it cost John Tory the election in Ontario, because he proposed funding religious schools. And I actually liked John Tory, though I still bear the scars of the Mike Harris regime, so won't be voting conservative again anytime soon.

But anyone who has followed Jim Flaherty's career knows that this has long been a goal of his.

I already mentioned the fact that Stephen Harper's National Citizens Coalition threw their support behind his move to grant huge tax credits to this country's religious elite, who could afford to send their children to private Bible schools.

When he was running against Ernie Eves for the provincial leadership in 2002, an American freelance journalist wrote of Flaherty:

His full-bodied, conservative platform of tax cuts, privatization, and school choice, first caught the attention of grassroots conservatives with his unexpected announcement in last year's budget of a $3,500 ($2,300 USD) per-child tax credit for parents who send their children to independent schools. The measure, according to Laura Swartley of the Milton*** and Rose D. Friedman Foundation for School Choice, is the most generous education tax credit in North America. It alone has won Flaherty the support of social conservatives and minority religious groups. (8)

Ernie Eves responded by suggesting that the education tax credit would help religious schools that "teach hatred."

My point exactly.


*James Dobson is the founder of Focus on the Family and one of the most prominent members of the U.S. Religious Right. His group is mostly anti-gay, anti-abortion , anti-Muslim and anti-women's rights. He provided 1.6 million dollars to establish a Focus on the Family in Canada, which was started up by Stephen Harper's current deputy chief of staff, Darrel Reid, and many members of Harper's caucus belong to it.

**If you think that Flaherty is somehow a "Godly" man, check out this story by BCer in Toronto. It would appear that Flaherty and his wife cashed in on the budget, by allegedly cheating taxpayers out of almost a million dollars. He has a lot of documentation.

*** Milton Friedman was Ronald Reagan's financial guru and both he and his wife were longtime supporters of the Fraser Institute, the voice of the Reform movement . If you want to read a good book that follows the money to that institute, I recommend Not a Conspiracy Theory: How Business Propaganda Hijacks Democracy, By Donald Gutstein, Key Porter Books, 2009, ISBN: 978-1-55470-191-9


1. Preston Manning and the Reform Party, By Murray Dobbin, Goodread Biographies/Formac Publishing, 1992, ISBN: 0-88780-161-7, pg. 165-166

2. Will the real Stephen Harper please stand up? A citizen’s guide to comparing election campaign promises to deeply held beliefs, By Murray Dobbin, January 10, 2006

3. So What DID Harper Say? The Conservative Leader's sound bite file on everything from taxes to Iraq, health care, gay marriage, nature, left wingers and keeping, By Tom Barrett, The Tyee, May 20, 2004

4. The Armageddon Factor: The Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada, By: Marci McDonald, Random House Canada, 2010, ISBN: 978-0-307-35646-8, Pg. 46

5. The God Delusion, By Richard Dawkins, Houghton Mifflin Company, 2006, ISBN: 13-978-0-618-68000-9, Pg. 177

6. Stephen Harper and the Theo-cons: The rising clout of Canada's religious right, By Marci McDonald, The Walrus, October 2006

7. Private school families get tax break, Toronto Star, April 03, 2007

8. Looking North: Election time in Canada. By David Curtin, March 18, 2002