Fake Feminism

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I’m fed up with fake feminism. The British Broadcasting Corporation now finds itself in a censorship scandal. In a program about the Commonwealth Games, the film’s presenter was grappling with a judo champion, and after he was sent crashing to the floor… And I must warn you, it’s graphic content here…. After being pummeled, he said:

 

“I am not sure I can live that down – being beaten by a 19-year-old girl.”

 

Oh, the horror. Thank goodness the sage and sanctimonious editors censored the too-vulgar-for daytime diction by the program’s second air-time. What? You’re not sure which word was edited out. Why “GIRL” of course. Because, well, the BBC didn’t want to injure the collective feelings of the female species.

 

“They had more time to edit it the second time,” a BBC spokeswoman said. “Mark didn’t mean to cause offence. But the word ‘girl’ was taken out just in case it did.”

 

Although it isn’t the first instance of BBC censorship, this case is particularly puzzling to me. Sure, I get news organizations aim to guard the emotions and reputations of TERRORISTS when they bar that term, replacing it instead with the word ‘militants,’ but… Girls? Really? Wake up Britain, blessed home of the Spice Girls. Girl Power, baby yeah.

 

Seriously though. Here, I should remind viewers that the BBC was, in all truth, the inspiration for George Orwell’s great novel 1984. And now, this business of cherry picking words from the English lexicon bears eerie resemblance to Orwell’s notion of Newspeak: a twisted take on the English language– the role of which was to demonstrate how repeated alteration of language by media can be used to politically deceive and manipulate, leading to a society in which folks mindlessly accept propaganda as reality.

 

And, sure, there might be argument to be made in the case of the ‘terrorist’ to ‘militant’ switch, but I can’t see what motivation there can possibly be remove ‘girl’ from BBC broadcasts. Except if, perhaps, this is just the sort of thing we should expect from a Western society, which has fallen into the wiles of fake feminism.

 

In this era that follows sexual revolution, fake feminists recite the litany of appropriate language, while their sacrament is abortion.

 

Slut shaming: bad, prostitution: good. Rape culture: evil, having a guy hold the door: nearly as bad.

 

Speaking of feeble feminism… Wonder if the BBC consulted the slactivists behind the ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ Campaign on their use of the r-rated g-word.

 

Campaigns such as those and the #YesAllWomen movement, following the Santa Barbara massacre falsely read feminist talking points into a situation, which ultimately undermines lessons we could have otherwise learned.

 

‘Bring Back Our Girls’ was, simply put, a sham—not support. In what world did the First Lady and her wannabe Canadian counterpart think the Boko Haram terrorists would respond to hashtag diplomacy? That, more than any use of the term ‘girls’, is the offensive bit: demeaning the agony of those kidnapped while elevating the egos of those holding signs.

 

And the Santa Babara shooting, much like twin case of Montreal’s L’Ecole Polytechnique missed a teaching moment all together. It was not about male chauvinism and violence against women. Rather, the opposite.

 

Inside the so-called ‘manosphere’ of Elliot Rodger, was a boy inundated with images of sex and power, but… he didn’t even know how to ask a girl out on a date. In his 141-page memoir, Rodger barely mentions his sister until the near end. He describes hearing her have sex with a man one night. But, troubled Rodger can’t understand why a guy without a car can get laid but he, with his shiny BMW, can’t even get a date. Youth today can tell you about every sexual position, the ins and outs of the opposite gender, but when pressed: wouldn’t know how to ask the object of their desire out to the mall for a soda.

 

When Marc Lepine asked men to leave that Montreal lecture hall so he could proceed with his rampage, they did. And, after Lepine had reached a satisfactory temperature in his bloodbath, he walked down the hall, past those same men he dismissed. They did nothing. Somehow, this tragedy translated to too much testosterone in Canada and it’s victimization of women. Ask me? We could have done with more testosterone that tragic day.

 

In this era of an Offend-luenza epidemic, we have become entirely misdirected. Women’s rights are conflated with abortion rights and the role of feminists is to police our diction. Don’t believe me? Mark my words. At the end of this week’s Maternal Health Summit, the chattering classes will have one observation: Canada isn’t funding abortions abroad, a mandate they don’t even have at home.

 

Look, BBC and MSM: Instead of concerning yourself with targets from your fake feminist foxhole, perhaps you could cover stories that are objectively offensive to women… Like the Sudanese woman who just delivered her child and now faces 100 lashes and hanging for daring to marry a Christian. Or the pregnant Pakistani woman who was stoned outside the courthouse last month, before her trial, because her marriage was not arranged. There are women and girls across the globe who face problems bigger than hurt feelings. So, please, leave our language alone.

Uniting Catholic and Orthodox Churches

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While Mainstream Media spent the weekend dwelling on the evils of the NRA and the virtues of the Kardashian-West wedding, this Sunday marked a historic meeting in Jerusalem between Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, spiritual head to Orthodox Christians. The Church leaders took part in extended talks, during which they signed a Declaration of co-operation between their two Churches. Now, before I tell you why crossing the canyon between these two bodies, which jointly consist of 1.5 billion people, is a very, very good idea: let’s recall how we got here. The primary reason for the religious retreat in the region was to mark the 50thanniversary of the meeting between Pope Paul the sixth and Ecumenical Patriarch Athen-a-goras of Constantinople in 19-64. That embrace ended 900 years of mutual excommunication and estrangement sparked by the Great Schism of 10-54. The split in Christendom came when Pope Leo the nineth excommunicated the Patriarch of Constantinople over disputes such as papal supremacy (read: Constantinople wanting to be in charge of its own affairs) and the Nicene Creed, a liturgical profession of faith. Basically, Rome added a clause to the Creed, because of heresy in France and the Greeks got ticked ‘cos amendments to a Council document should be settled through another Council. Ask me? They were right, but I digress. Prior to 10-54, the Eastern and Western halves of the Church had their share of conflicts, see Eastern iconoclasm and the Photian schism for more on that. The final sacred straw, however, came after the capture of Constantinople by the Fourth Crusade. The sacking of the Church of Holy Wisdom and establishment of the Latin Empire appeared to be an attempt to supplant Byzantium, the Orthodox Empire, and rancor around the period still rings today.  This, even after St. John Paull II extended a formal apology for the sacking of Constantinople to the present Patriarch of Orthodoxy.

But long before the apology, reunion was attempted twice: once in 12-74 at the Second Council of Lyon and again in 14-39 at the Council of Florence. On both occasions, the Orthodox people as a whole rejected the councils. Recent decades, however, have seen a renewal of ecumenical spirit and dialogue between the Churches.

And that’s a very good thing. Don’t get me wrong; I get the lack of will to amalgamate on the part of the Orthodox. They feel hurt and harmed post Papal excommunication, and plundering (everything from the relics found today in San Marco to the Shroud of Tourin), not no mention Byzantium’s subjugation for 70-some years (though, my read of history says the Venetians, not the Latin Rite are to blame—they simply wanted Byzantium tossed from trade). But, for a Church so deeply rooted in notions of history and tradition, perhaps it’s time they reclaim their true and oldest history—one under the Pope, as a “first among equals,” as it was before the Great Schism.

Full disclosure here: I was baptized in the Greek Orthodox Church but attend a Ukrainian Catholic Parish regularly. The move came after years of spiritual direction and scriptural tutelage. It was only after I examined the conflicts and common-ground that I grew to understand the term ‘Catholic’ was not synonymous with ‘contaminated.’  Simply put: Christ didn’t leave us with a Bible, no matter what some Protestants might tell you. He left us with a Church; namely, one formed on the rock of Peter, whose throne is inherited by our vicar in Rome.

See, unlike the Protestant churches, the Orthodox Church and Catholic Church have nearly all matters of theological and practical importance in common.

The Catholic Church recognizes the Orthodox have a valid priesthood, based on apostolic succession. And, the number and significance of their sacraments are also legitimate. Unlike the Protestant churches that profess and practice consubstantiation; when the Eucharist is consecrated by an Orthodox priest, transubstantiation takes place. That is to say, only in a Catholic or Orthodox Church, when a priest says, ‘Take, eat this is my body… This is my blood’, will the bread and wine change species to the Holy Body and Blood of Christ. So, what does that mean? Well, despite urban legend, there is no law disallowing a visiting Orthodox from receiving the Eucharist in a Catholic Church. Vatican II confirms Catholics, likewise, may receive the sacraments in the Orthodox Church but that’s not necessarily what happens in reality. Just this weekend I heard of two Catholics who attempted to receive communion in a European Orthodox Church but were turned away, called ‘Schismatics’.

Even still, the present dispute is not beyond dialogue or repair. The major disagreement, as far as I can tell, rests on two major issues and one minor ones.

 

Pope – Infallibility of

ORTHODOX: Papal Infallibility is rejected. The Holy Spirit acts to guide the church into truth through (for example) ecumenical councils. This Orthodoxy recognises the first seven ecumenical councils (325-787) as being infallible.

CATHOLIC: The Pope is infallible when, through the Holy Spirit, he defines a doctrine on faith and morals that is to be held by the whole church. This is a dogma and is therefore a required belief within Catholicism.

 

First, the infallibility of the pope—a doctrine that says the pope cannot be wrong on matters of theological importance, doctrines on faith and morals that are to be held by the whole church. To Orthodox Christians, papal infallibility is rejected. Here, the solution is simple: the Orthodox need to deal with the facts. The Pope has never been wrong or in need of correction on theological matters. Sure, there were three near misses, but mistakes were never made. Ever. Contrast that with the fact that Orthodox history which has seen the likes of Patriarchs subscribe to full blown heresies, such as an embrace of Arianism.

 

Holy Spirit

ORTHODOX: The third person of the Trinity, proceeding from the Father alone as in the original Nicene Creed. The Father sends the Spirit at the intercession of the Son. The Son is therefore an agent only in the procession of the Spirit.

PROTESTANT: The Holy Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son. The Nicene creed includes the filioque (Latin: ‘and the son’).

CATHOLIC: Agrees with the Protestant view.
Ambrose of Milan (340-397) wrote: ‘When the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, He is not separated from the Father, He is not separated from the Son’.

 

 

Second, the nature of the Holy Spirit, the catalyst to the original Great Schism. While Orthodox view the third person of the Trinity, proceeding from the Father alone as in the original Nicene Creed, Catholics view the Holy Spirit as proceeding from the Father and the Son but not separated from Them. While I am not a theologian, I consider myself qualified to comment on procedure. The Orthodox have a legitimate sense of grief in that the Creed, which was formed qua Council, was changed without one. Simple solution: call another Council as a form of peace talks with the Orthodox and proceed accordingly. God willing, language and theological terms agreeable to both sides will be reached.

 

Clergy – Qualification for

ORTHODOX: Priests and Bishops must be male, but deaconesses are permitted, though the order is dormant.
Priests and deacons may marry before ordination but not after. Bishops, on the other hand, must be celibate.

CATHOLIC: All clergy are required to be male. Priests and Bishops must also be celibate, with the exception of Eastern Rite Catholics and Anglican married clergy who subsequently convert to Catholicism. These groups are allowed to have married priests.

 

 

Now, with respect to minor differences, the main and glaring conflict is that of married clergy. While both Churches accurately accept only male priests and bishops, Orthodox clergy, but not bishops, are permitted to marry. Here, the Catholic Church might do well to revisit the issue of married priests. Until the 12th century, Catholic priests could marry, but this changed for two reasons, none of which were founded in scripture or tradition. First, following from problems with property. When a priest died, his wife and children were left in church property and were reluctant to leave. Secondly, there was a lack of good moral lives that were being led by married Roman Catholic priests. It took over three centuries to complete the transition from married clergy to celibate clergy. And even now, some Churches under the Vatican, such as the Eastern Rite have married priests, which have presented little to no problems as far as Rome is concerned. Ask me? The idea of marriage classes from a married priest is more appealing than the opposite. At the very least, the Orthodox Church can rest assured the likelihood bringing their married clergy under the helm of the Pope would be accepted, based on the precedent already set.

 

Today, the global war on Christians is at an all-time high. According to Vatican numbers, by some relation to their faith, over 100 thousand Christians are murdered every single year. Just last week, a Sudanese woman was sentenced to death simply for marrying a Christian. Even still, popular culture in the west appears only nominally aware of the endemic.

 

Common Declaration of Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

8. From this holy city of Jerusalem, we express our shared profound concern for the situation of Christians in the Middle East and for their right to remain full citizens of their homelands. In trust we turn to the almighty and merciful God in a prayer for peace in the Holy Land and in the Middle East in general. We especially pray for the Churches in Egypt, Syria, and Iraq, which have suffered most grievously due to recent events. We encourage all parties regardless of their religious convictions to continue to work for reconciliation and for the just recognition of peoples’ rights. We are persuaded that it is not arms, but dialogue, pardon and reconciliation that are the only possible means to achieve peace.

 

And yet, when the pope and patriarch this weekend expressed their shared concern for the situation of Christians in the Middle East, it made international headlines. Folks, there is a truth to the term strength in numbers. But, I am a realist. I remain doubtful that statist churches like that of the Russian Orthodox will amalgamate with Rome any time soon. That, keep in mind, is a church which embraces President Putin, despite his excommunication by the monks of Mt Athos, and once spied on it’s laity, relaying information gathered in the confessional to the Soviets, whilst they were in power. Should an Orthodox Church blanket itself with the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica, it might likely be the Greek Church that leads the way. The Greek Orthodox Church is not nearly as extreme and doesn’t report to a state department about religious affairs, but to Holy Synods— they are moved by a spirit of faith and would do well to inform their flock about present truths. In the meantime, I continue to pray for unity of the Churches. And, even if unity is a long way off, popes and patriarchs need to keep plugging away.

 

 

Euthanasia in Canada – the debate that won’t die

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Assisted suicide advocates from British Columbia have filed their written argument against an appeal court decision. The B-C Civil Liberties Association says it now has more than 15,000 pages of material it wishes to present before Canada’s highest court in October.

To be sure, the Supreme Court’s already heard a ‘right to die’ case from the same region in 1993, with Victoria resident Sue Rodriguez. The ALS patient wanted to chose her expiration date but the S-C-C upheld our country’s laws banning assisted suicide, leaving Rodriguez to take her own life one year later with the help of an anonymous doctor. I’ll spare you the sermon on why our elected House of Commons, and not the appointed Court Party, should be in the business of legislating licenses to kill.

Suffice to say, as recently as 2010 the House debated doctor-assisted death and the bill was dead on arrival, defeated by a margin of 228 votes against to fifty-nine votes in favour. Today, Justice Minister Peter MacKay says he has no interest in revisiting the debate. Even still, not-so-socially-Conservative M-P Stephen Fletcher recently introduced two private members bills to legalize assisted suicide in this country. It’s doubtful the bills will see a vote before the next election, but Mr. Fletcher’s Bill comes on the heels of Quebec’s turfed Bill 52, covertly coined “Medical Aid in Dying”—thrown out only because an election was called. The euphemistic label of the bill aimed to redirect what would otherwise be a federal offence under the provincial jurisdiction of healthcare—a tactic to downplay the Quebec government’s deliberate intention to legalize euthanasia.Euthanasia is not healthcare and it’s against the law.

For good reason… Unlike the abortion debate, there’s no scientific question about the nature of the species before or after the act. Before euthanasia or doctor assisted suicide the person is alive. After, he or she is dead. Folks aren’t confused about that. The science involved in this case is political science: how policies involving the deliberate killing of someone by act or omission have been implemented—for better or for worse.

Look folks, I’m not one easily sold on ‘slippery slope’ arguments, but in the case of euthanasia and assisted suicide every instance of ‘strict guidelines’-to-start devolves into an ever-expanding category of those who are deemed ‘killable’.

The decade-old Belgium model has already proven to be deadly dangerous.

BELGIUM MODEL

- 1/3 of euthanasia deaths performed without patient consent

- 1/5 of nurses admitted being involved in the assisted suicide of a patient.
-  1/2 of nurses administering euthanasia did so without the patients knowledge and consent.
- 47% of the assisted deaths go unreported in Flanders region of Belgium

According to studies in the Canadian Medical Association Journal one third of euthanasia deaths were illegally performed without patient consent in Belgium. One fifth of nurses there admitted to being illegally involved in the assisted suicide of a patient. And nearly half of these also said there was no consent. What’s more is that 47% of assisted deaths in the Flanders region have gone unreported. A woman in Belgium with anorexia nervosa recently ended her life by euthanasia and Belgian twins who were born deaf were euthanized out of fear of blindness, while Belgium is presently experimenting with euthanasia and organ donation.

Keep in mind, Quebec legislators admit to modelling their recent euthanasia attempt in Bill 52 after Belgian legislation.

SWITZERLAND

1942 -legalized assisted suicide for compassionate reasons
2007 – Expanded to those with mental illness including the depressed
Today – destination for suicide tourism

Switzerland, on the other hand, was way ahead of its time, legalizing assisted suicide for compassionate reasons back in 1942. By 2007, the nation expanded the legislation to cover those with mental illness including the depressed. Today, Switzerland is a destination for suicide tourism, attracting even healthy foreigners and couples on suicide pacts.

NETHERLANDS

1984 – stops prosecuting doctors who commit euthanasia 
1995 – Dutch Supreme Court approves assisted suicide for the depressed
2006 - euthanasia of children under 12 no longer prosecuted (Groningen protocol)
Today – 550 annual cases without request or consent

And the Netherlands stopped prosecuting doctors who commit euthanasia for the terminally ill in ’84. Less than 10 years later, the Dutch Supreme Court approved assisted suicide for the depressed. A decade after that, courts stopped prosecuting euthanasia for children under 12. Government studies today show 550 annual cases of termination without request or consent.

In all three case-studies I’ve presented to you, medical communities proclaimed “strict guidelines.” In time, every protocol and safe-guard proved to be worthless.

If euthanasia advocates get their wish, they will drag Canada, inch by inch, into the same nightmare world. Is this really the future we want for Canada?

If Canada institutionalizes a right to die it will also institutionalize a license to kill, which has been widely abused in every place it’s been permitted. And, should euthanasia be seen as a right of the individual, especially with terms like “medical aid in dying,” that will make it near impossible to protect the freedom of conscience of doctors and other medical health practitioners who wish to deny the death penalty as a prescription for patients.

Moreover, euthanasia and assisted suicide will create a duty to die for the weakest members of society. By creating a license to kill and commit suicide, our society will calculate value in human life based on pleasure and well being of an individual. You drool and need someone to change your diapers? You’re a bummer on play-dates because of some psychological or physical pain? You’re old and sick? Well, don’t burden your loved ones any longer. Just take this pill and the pain will go away. The gentle audience will forgive me, but I’m one of those crazy Canadians who sees people, even those in a persistent vegetative state, as human beings. I’m just one of those freaky folks who views people with mental or physical handicaps as having the same intrinsic value as any other human being. I do not see them as better off were they dead.

If folks want so-called death with dignity, without the ordeal and drain on a family unit, here’s an idea: more palliative care.

SOLUTION IS MORE PALLIATIVE CARE

- 16% – 30% of Canadians (10% – 20% in Quebec) have access to or receive hospice palliative and end-of-life care services

- 90% of Canadians who die can benefit from hospice palliative care.

Only 16 to 30 per cent of Canadians who die currently have access to or receive hospice palliative and end-of-life care services. At 10 to 20 per cent, the numbers for palliative support are even lower in Quebec. This, while 90% of Canadians who die can, in fact, benefit from hospice and palliative care.

With attempts to usher in euthanasia at the provincial and federal levels, and now in the courts—this debate is not going away and I, for one, welcome it. What I’m not interested in, though, is a one-sided debate. Because I know: the more facts and information Canadians have about euthanasia and assisted suicide, the more they will oppose it.

A CASE FOR TRUDEAU’S EXCOMMUNICATION

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Excommunicate Trudeau.

Apart from being the drama teacher turned Liberal leader, Justin Trudeau is a self-professed Catholic and abortion extremist. By my read: that earns him the badges of heretic and excommunicant.
Now, before the non-faithful reach for the remote, hang-in. See, what irks me here is this: despite labeling the P-M a panderer to Jewish and Ukrainian communities this week, Mr. Trudeau appears to be paying protective lip service to a faith group while his actions most seriously offend it’s core teachings and truths.

 

Excommunication, often misunderstood, doesn’t amount to being banned from church or stripped of one’s Catholicism.

(1) Excommunication as ecclesiastical penalty 

- Excommunicants remain Catholic because of baptism 

- Still obligated to attend Mass

- Deprived of all sacraments (except for the Sacrament of Penance). 

- Forbidden from employment or holding any position of authority in a diocese or parish

- Deprived of a Catholic burial.)

But it does denote a denial all sacraments, save one: confession. With excommunication comes a spiritual medicine in the form of a wake up call and, hopefully, a movement to repentance. In short, it’s reversible, meant as a last resort.

 

So, is Mr. Trudeau a candidate for this most severe form of ecclesiastical penalty? And, is it already a done deal? Has he, in effect, done it to himself? Setting aside his support for Parliament’s Transgender Bathroom Bill, Toronto’s tax-payer funded Gay Pride Parade, and his pot obsession; let’s focus on his abortion advocacy, considering these grounds for automatic excommunication, according to Canon Law…

 

Never mind the point about procuring an abortion; referring to the specific action of obtaining or securing an abortion for himself (unlikely), or for another (which is impossible for me to know, and I don’t wish to speculate).

Trudeau’s not guilty of apostasy either. Justin himself said, “My own personal faith is an extremely important part of who I am and the values that I try to lead with.”

But, I want to draw your attention to this third point: Heresy: defined as the post-baptismal denial of some Catholic truth.

 

Although the case for excommunication qua abortion advocacy is not clear-cut in Canon Law, there is a precedent in Vatican history, 3 cases by my count. And, a formidable argument can be made that Justin does indeed deny a Catholic truth (namely, that abortion breaks the 5th Commandment, thou shalt not kill), and has, therefore, fallen into heresy, an excommunicable offense.

 

‘But,’ you say, ‘Justin told us he’s opposed to abortion personally, being pro-choice is just politically pragmatic.” Wonder how a practical politics calculus factored out that time Trudeau threatened to support Quebec secession if Harper opens the abortion debate (something the PM promised never to do, by the way).

 

“I always say, if at a certain point, I believe that Canada was really the Canada of Stephen Harper – that we were going against abortion, and we were going against gay marriage, and we were going backwards in 10,000 different ways – maybe I would think about wanting to make Quebec a country… Oh Yes. Absolutely. If I no longer recognize Canada. For me, my values, I know them very well. But I believe profoundly in Canada, and I know that Quebec within Canada can [restore] this alll…” 

 

So, abortion is more important a value to Trudeau than national unity. Now, is that the thought experiment of a politically prudent Catholic, or a radical proponent of abortion?

 

And Justin’s extremism doesn’t stop there.

Asked by a reporter his view on one Conservative MP’s motion to condemn sex-selective abortion, Justin replied with a statement to show his unrestricted support for killing babies in-utero:  “For me, a woman’s right to choose is a fundamental right.” Right, Justin. Never mind the targeted holocaust of female fetuses in places like China, India, and even here in Canada.

On the topic of fundamental women’s rights, Trudeau voted against C-510 the bill aimed to protect pregnant women from coercion to abort. What’s more, in 2012, JT voted against MP Stephen Woodworth’s Motion 312 to study, just study, whether a child in the womb can be considered a human being based on developments in medical science over the past 400 years ago, the time from whence our definition of life originates.

Votes, Surveys and Policy Decision

Vote

Motion 312: Studying Canada’s 400 Year Old Definition of Human Being

No

Bill C-510, to protect pregnant women from coercion to abort

No

You’ll forgive my callowness, but such votes seem to present the perfect opportunity to reconcile Justin’s alleged personal beliefs with a politically palatable platform. Think about it: “Like, I can’t vote for you, Justin. I saw how you voted. You’re totally anti-abortion.” “Look, generic voter girl, I’m not anti-abortion, I’m pro-science.”  What’s Mr. Trudeau so afraid of?

Of equal importance: what’s the church so afraid of today? Don’t get me wrong: nobody should rejoice in someone’s excommunication; we should save that joy for the moment when that Catholic makes the prayerful decision that he needs to change his ways… and come home. But who will remind public figures of in-house rules, if not the Church herself? From Napoleon to Jackie Onassis, political figures have been excommunicated before. The right to excommunicate is a consequence of the fact that the Church is a society. Every society has the right to exclude and deprive advantages to its unworthy or grievously culpable members. Pro-abort politicos who coddle the Catholic vote by flashing membership cards are more popular and powerful than ever. But, despite an established legal structure to do something about it, the Catholic Church is allowing these politicians to get away with murder.

NATO ACTION IN UKRAINE NOW

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Less talk and more action in Ukraine.

Sitting face-to-face but not seeing eye-to-eye, Secretary of State John Kerry met with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, on Sunday. Must have been an awkward afternoon around the diplomatic drawing board, way I see it. Four hours of Kerry pleading, “Pretty please… Won’t you pull back your troops?” Only to be met with Sergey’s, “I’ll take that to the Kremlin. In meantime, why don’t we turn Ukraine into federation? You divide, we conquer.” Four whole hours of soft power talks, without a single Ukrainian at the table—another conversation— and not a thing accomplished.

Diplomatic isolation, asset freezes, travel bans on oligarchs, even angry Obama phone calls to Moscow were appropriate at a time—but objectively ineffective. Mr Putin laughed off US sanctions that targeted his inner circle, promising the Russian government would “have the back” of those on the list. And did you hear? Vlad ordered fireworks over Moscow after the second round of US economic sanctions.

Look, I’ve never been one to argue “give war a chance,” so well meaning bleats aimed at painting me as a neo-con can remain calm.

But you’ll forgive me if I just don’t get what kind of playbook the White House is employing.

It’s no secret Obama’s no foreign policy president—compounding the problem: Putin knows his record. Obama gave up Bush’s win in Iraq; even helped topple slavish American allies in Egypt and Libya. And Putin himself has taunted Obama in Iran, in Syria, and with Edward Snowden. But this leaders’ game of cat-and-mouse is unlike the others… It is much, much worse.

Quite apart from the humanitarian catastrophe in Ukraine, where dozens are missing and tens of thousands of Russians, Ukrainians, and Tartars have been turned into political refugees… The invasion of Crimea by the expansionist Russian federation marks the destruction of the present system of international relations and public law.

Either Obama is in denial of these facts or perfectly incompetent.

To be sure, the probability of war in Ukraine’s southeast is high. When Russia invaded Crimea, it mobilized 150,000 troops along Ukraine’s eastern frontier. Most of those forces still terrorize Ukraine, never mind Putin’s pull-back promise to German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday– some 20,000 troops still occupy the peninsula and provocateurs sent by Moscow continue to stir unrest. And, like a holy hangover of the region’s Soviet past, Ukrainian Catholics are completely paralyzed in the occupied territory, where priests in Crimea have been kidnapped, accused of being ‘Vatican agents’ by Russian supporters.

For Putin, the Cold War ended, as he put it, “tragically.” He will turn the clock back as far as intimidation through military power, economic leverage and Western inaction will allow.

                                                            RUSSIA                       UKRAINE

Annual Defense Budget (USD)       $76,600,000,000      $4,880,000,000

Fit for Military Service                    46,812,553                15,686,055

Active Military Personnel               766,000                      160,000

Total Tank Strength                        15,500                         4,112

Total Aircraft Strength                   3,082                          400

Total Nacy Ship Strength               352                             25

And with 15 times the cash being dumped into their annual defense budget, Vlad has the military and economic power he needs to successfully crush Ukraine and her people. See, while world leaders were busy drawing down troops and spending less on security, Russia has been increasing her military might since the Cold War. Today, the Russian Army is virtually unopposed in Central Europe.

“Parts of Georgia, Ukraine, Belarus, the Baltic States and Finland are states where Putin claims to have ownership.” – Andrej Illarionov, Former Putin Aide

And now, an ex-Kremlin aide warns Putin wants to annex Finland, Belarus and the Baltics. I, for one, believe him.

The immediate concern for world must be to show Russia that FURTHER MOVES WILL NOT BE TOLERATED and that Ukraine’s territorial integrity is, indeed, sacrosanct. Putin is a narcissistic sociopath… a megalomaniac. Like the bully on the playground, he does not respond to soft power; to reason or arguments. Putin must face a threat of physical force in order to even consider changing course… hard power fighting hard power.

So, who should supply that muscle?

No country can on its own. Look here: Obama’s indebted America is not a reliable ally or consistent power. When the interim Ukrainian Prime Minster  met with Obama, his request for weapons was politely declined. Instead, the Obama administration offered uniforms and military meals… As if Ukraine was going to the Garrison Ball. And forget handicapped Europe… She’s has welcomed tens of billions in dirty money from a who’s who of Russia’s most unsavory business men, all along doing little to wean herself from Russian oil and natural gas.  And our P-M, despite leading the class in harsh rhetoric, has totally abandoned the traditional conservative build-up of armed forces and defense industries. Canada might talk the talk but we certainly can’t walk the walk.

So, only NATO is apt to provide a robust defensive strategy and lift the Ukrainian militarily out of its present isolation. “But Ukraine is not a NATO nation,” you say. That’s right, but why aren’t they? Following the Georgian crisis, Obama’s Russian “reset” led to an abrupt revision of plans… Talk of Ukraine and Georgia’s future in NATO ceased. Moscow cheered.

To avoid consensus-building an sticky precedent, a NATO coalition of the willing ought to be formed and three actions taken.

1.      Arm Ukrainian nationals

2.      Deploy intelligence capabilities and military trainers

3.      Conduct a military exercise

First, the Ukrainian P-M’s request for military equipment should be immediately approved and, above that, anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons should be included. These weapons will complicate Russian military planning and add risk to its tyrannical operations. And, as a point of taste, U.S. equipment might bring back unpleasant memories of when Soviet forces encountered Western weapons in Afghanistan.

Second: the alliance should deploy intelligence capabilities and military trainers to Ukraine. The deployment of military trainers to Georgia was one of the most effective elements of the U.S. effort to bolster Georgia’s security after it was invaded by Russia in 2008.

Third: NATO allies and partners should soon conduct a military exercise in Ukraine as part of the effort to train the Ukrainian military. The alliance’s plan to wait until its next scheduled exercise in Ukraine, this summer, could incentivize Russia to take additional military action before then.

Ukraine is our Sudetenland and Russia our Berlin. The same dynamics are at play: barefaced racism, xenophobia, a violent nationalism unbending to moral scrutiny, and the reproduction of lies by ranting lawmakers. Appeasement didn’t work then and it’s already not working now. Enough of round tables and photo-ops, statesmen. Less talk, and more spark— for 46M Ukrainians, for the balance of power in this world, for freedom. Anything less won’t satisfy me.

FAITH OVER FEAR

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An apology for being seemly absent from media; however, these are the events redirecting my energies as of late…

On October 18th, my mother was admitted to hospital in Toronto and we’ve been here, day and night, ever since.

See here, my mom has stage four cancer. We often joke about it being stage five or six, even though there’s no such thing. Reason is: mom was given weeks to live, months at the very most, after being told she had cancer in her gynaecological area, which spread from her breasts, hitting every organ on the way down, affecting her lymphatic system and bones as well. That was in February of 2008.

Five years later, mom was doing wonderfully well. The Holy Rosary was her only medicine and doctors couldn’t figure her out.

The situation changed dramatically when oncologists insisted mom try chemo for the first time in early 2013. After only two rounds, she lost 30 pounds and became very weak. She also began accumulating fluids in her stomach and lungs. After being admitted to hospital in May, mom had over eight litres of cancerous fluid drained from her stomach and two litres from her left lung.

Mom had a catheter placed in her stomach where I could drain her three times a week and one in her left lung, drained weekly by a nurse.

We decided to stop chemo before it killed her.

We then opted for regular intramuscular injections to slow her estrogen, which is feeding the cancer.

The side effects of the injections were worse than the illness, we planned to tell doctors in late October that it was time to change course: Go back to what was best– prayer and hope in The Lord.

By mid-October, however, mom underwent an upper GI scope. Thereafter, a known lymph node on her mid-chest seemed to double in size by the day. The pain it caused her was immense and worsening. This, coming from a woman who refuses or take more than a quarter Percocet at a time– a true soldier.

A few days after the scope, mom was scheduled for an appointment with her respirologist to discuss draining her right lung, which had accumulated so much fluid that she was having shortness of breath. However, an hour before the appointment, mom was vomiting bile and was in excruciating pain.

I called the doctor to cancel. To my surprise, the doctor himself picked up the phone, “Faith,” he said, “it’s when someone is sick that they should see a doctor. There’s no such thing as being too sick to go to hospital.” He told me to take mom to ER. It was after four other doctors said the same that I decided to pack a suitcase and boogie on down to the hospital.

As we drove near the front doors of emerge, a car in an ideal parking spot pulled out. My first thought was, ‘God is watching over us. He will provide.’

I know what you’re thinking, ‘It’s just a parking spot.’ But the events that followed that day and everyday thereafter prove otherwise.

When I ran into ER asking for a wheelchair, the nurse pointed to a big cushiony black one and said, “This is the only one we have.”

‘Good,’ I thought, ‘it’s the only one mom likes. The harder-formed plastic alternatives would have left me little choice but to piggyback my frail mother.’

Unlike ever before, we were rushed through triage in what seemed like a few short hours (this is socialized Medicare, hours are equivalent to minutes elsewhere).

Everyone agreed: mom had an infected lymph node, she needed to be put on a high dose of strong antibiotics as we prepared for further testing and a possible incision.

I jumped on my phone and began imploring my faithful friends for prayers. We didn’t want any surgery, hoping instead for a natural healing through Our Lord.

Then came the first of many spiritual attacks: Our nighttime ER doctor. In a conversation none of us was prepared for, he asked if my mom knew where her cancer would bring her.

“Yeah. I’m eventually going to die. What’s your point?” my mom fired back.

“Well, we have to talk about options if your heart stops while we are operating. Would you want to be reccessitated?”

At that moment it felt as though all our hearts stopped. Keep in mind this was in the day of the Supreme Court ruling that families ultimately trump doctors when it comes to end of life situations. Only issue: I had been busy with mom all day and was foggy on the news item and its, now, most prevalent details.

“Well, you’re a doctor,” mom started, “it’s your job to keep people living. And I’m a Christian. So you do everything you can to keep me alive and I’ll leave the rest to God.”

After that clear message, the doctor asked my mom to sign a Do Not Recessutate Form four more times. She said no each time, at which point he said, “Holler if you change your mind.” Who knew one must want to die in order receive five-star service in an emergency room?

We were eventually transferred to the GI unit, but told it would be temporary– until oncology had a bed.

GI was a dream: A bed by the window on the sixteenth floor, with a view of the city and diligent nurses who quickly fell in love with my mom’s humour, and God-loving spirit.

Mom began witnessing and ministering to any doctors, nurses and patients who would listen. And, boy, did they listen. Some medical professionals would stay for upwards of 20 minutes at mom’s bedside to hear her praise and give thanks to The Lord. And I don’t think it’s just because they’re government workers. I truly believe it’s because they were mystified by my mom’s faith, despite her circumstance.

After her CT scan Saturday morning, mom returned to her bed with my sister, Alexandra. I was outside looking for a parking spot at the time.

“Lex, ask the nurse for a Percocet. The pain is excruciating,” mom said grabbing the inflamed bump on her chest, now the size of a large orange. Following orders, my sister darted outside the room while mom reached across her bed for some soup.

Suddenly, mom heard a loud ‘ppssshhhhh’ sound coming from her midsection. She figured the abscess had ruptured and expected to see wetness around the size of a quarter on her white shirt. When my mom looked down, she found her whole shirt was drenched with fluid, and it wasn’t slowing down.

“ALEXANDRA!” mom screamed, pressing the nurse call button with all her strength.

My sister whipped around to see the light above mom’s door flashing, “Hurry!” she yelled, “We need a nurse in here!”

Four nurses leapt to their feet and rushed into mom’s room.

“I’m scared!” mom confessed aloud, “Lord Jesus, help me.”

“Our Father…” my sister began, arms hysterically flailing in the air, wide-eyed to the sky, “Who art in Heaven,” she continued, “Hallow-” nurses stopped her before she performed a full exorcism on anyone within reach.

“You have to leave,” one nurse said firmly, “we need quiet.”

I found Alexandra outside the room hyperventilating, understandably shaken by what she just witnessed.

“What happened? What’s going on?” I demanded to know.

“It’s ok,” she responded, “Mom’s ok. It’s just that the thing burst. And… And it was really scary,” she cried.

At that moment, I was overcome with a feeling that can only be described as Heavenly peace. I marched to mom’s room.

“I heard the good news,” I started, amid the nurses frantically tearing open sterile gauze packages, in a race to clean the output from my mom’s chest, overflowing unceasingly, “the doctors won’t have to operate!” I added.

My mother told me later, when she saw me walk in with such an air of calmness, it’s what grounded her in a time of utter chaos. I told her I didn’t know where that tranquility arose from if not from the Holy Spirit Himself.

After nurses dressed my mother’s new wound, we three Goldy girls were giddy with excitement.

“Praise God. Doctors don’t have to cut me open!” mom started.

“I’m so happy the pus is coming out,” Alexandra added.

(Admittedly, we’re a weird family…)

“But, Lex, smell this. It doesn’t smell like pus,” mom said pointing to her chest.

(Like I said: weird.).

Alexandra, naturally endowed with scent-superpowers took a sniff, “Yeah. It smells like apple cider.”

Mom consumed two glasses of apple juice before the eruption in order to dilute the radioactive contrast ingested for the CT scan earlier that day. We thought little of this, and continued giving thanks to God.

That evening, a senior GI doctor came in with another doctor about half his age and stature.

“Julia,” he said in a thick Germanic accent, “the CT scan shows that the hole in your chest is not, in fact, a result of infection…”

We all held our breath. If not an infection, what could it be?

“You have a fistula– an abnormal tunnel between tissues. This tunnel has connected your stomach to the area outside your skin.”

“So, you mean this isn’t pus?” mom asked, pointing to her chest.

“No. It is acids from the stomach.” The doctor replied matter-of-factly.

I felt my heart sink into the pit of my own stomach, my head began to spin. ‘You can’t faint,’ I thought, trying desperately to think rationally, ‘If mom dies tonight, you can’t be in ICU with a cracked skull.’ An odd thought, but it seemed logical at the time.

The older doctor shook my mom’s hand and bid her goodnight.

Immediately, my head turned towards my mother. I wanted desperately to screen her for any sort of reaction. What state was she in? What did this mean? Would she make it through the night? I had so many questions. My mom is always the one providing answers in my life– about everything. Surely she knew more than me in this instance as well…

“Oh. My. God.” My mother mouthed, as tears streamed down her face. My sister at one side, and me at another. We each grabbed one of mom’s hands. I felt a lump grow in my throat.

The three if us wept together for four hours. We talked about funeral arrangements: which home, what casket and of course which liqueurs, brandies would be served, as well as the desirable muscularity of my mom’s future pallbearers. My mom’s a famed party planner, she wasn’t about to let her last bash go without strict attention to detail.

We wept and wept. But just before going to bed mom said, “In hindsight, isn’t it clear God has been in charge of every minute, every detail while we’ve been here?”

“Yes,” Alexandra and I answered in harmony.

“From our first parking spot down to the minutes between the necessary CT scan and the second this thing ruptured… He was always in control.” Mom carried on, “And, if we’re so confident that He’s overseen every detail of yesterday and today, shouldn’t we have faith in the fact that He knows what tomorrow is to bring?”

For the first time in what seemed like forever, hope returned to my heart. My mom was right. God had been revealing His mystery, his grid-work, throughout the previous hours, days– heck– my whole life! Why would I fear the unknown now?

And so began our concerted conversion, one we’d have to perform daily, sometimes more than that, to chose faith over fear.

I prayed God would reveal His Will to us in the plainest way possible.

And that, He did.

Our favourite doctor tilted at the recommendations of his superiors. Instead of the high-risk procedure of installing a stent into my mother’s stomach, mostly filled with cancer, he recommended my mom begin TPN, intervenors feeding to allow the stomach time to heal. While he described why he thought this was the better route, the hospital priest walked in. We took this as a sign and agreed to treatment.

It’s now been over a week since my mom’s been fed through intravenous. She’s not permitted to take anything by mouth– not even water. She talks about Jesus’ temptations in the desert and how He went without food or hydration for 40 days. Often, though, mom’s mouth becomes extremely dry.

“I thirst,” she said once, reminded of Christ’s words on the Cross.

And her shared sufferings with Our Saviour don’t stop there. Since the eruption, mom now has five holes in her body: three catheters, one picc-line, and the fistula. Five wounds– the same number as Christ during His Crucifixion.

We’ve since moved down the second floor, here in oncology. Unlike the depressing, palliative-patients-only zone I thought it’d be, mom’s got a single room and we’re surrounded by nurses who aren’t too shy to knock on mom’s door, in hopes to hear her minister to them.

We’ve passed the seven day TPN trial period and the wound has not closed. But we have not lost hope. Mom will carry on with TPN, without food or drink for as long as it takes to heal her fistula. She offers such sufferings for the conversion of souls.

Her wounds, her thirst, and her greatest desire– the turning if hearts to God– is now united to Her Creator.

But, there is one more union to make: a union of will.

Yesterday mom told me she had a conversation with God.

“I’ve raised you girls with His help. You’re both fiercely independent. I’ve done what I wanted to do in this life: raise my children. But I don’t know that I’ve done all of what God wants me to do. If He needs me up there, I understand. And I told Him so. I hope you’re not upset with me. I’m not done fighting here. But I shouldn’t fight with God. His Will be done. And I’m ok with whatever His Will is.”

Mom admits her hope is to stay here, with her children, on earth. She wants to continue being an instrument of His Holy Love: carry on planning her famed ‘Praise be to Jesus’ parties, continue preaching to friends and strangers, instilling pearls of wisdom to her daughters.

My hope is identical to my mom’s.

For now, we pray for a miraculous healing and continue giving thanks. Thanks for our blessings: each other, this life’s lessons, the power of prayer, and Our God who endowed us with it all.

Please join my family by keeping my mom, Julia, in your prayers. From my family to yours: Thank you and God bless you.

PONTIFF-FICTION PONTIFICATION

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Have you heard? The Catholic Church announced sodomy is sweet and abortion is a-ok!

Actually?

No. Not even close.

However, today’s headlines from your local liberal and mainstream media would have you believe that’s the case.

What…? The words ‘homosexuality’ and ‘abortion’ uttered by *the* Pope and you… Expected an accurate, fair portrayal by the same publications that regularly condemn the pulpit?

Let’s be very clear: It’s the liberal media that obsesses over abortion and all things gay. Consequently, the Church only makes the news when either or both topics are mentioned. And, as a person in her mid-twenties, I can’t recall a time when the media wasn’t trying to convince us that this Pope is more liberal than the last.

Take these quotes from Pope Benedict XVI, for example:

“It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the church’s pastors wherever it occurs.”

“It is theologically and anthropologically important for woman to be at the center of Christianity. Through Mary, and the other holy women, the feminine element stands at the heart of the Christian religion.”

These were deemed “liberal” at their time.

So, when Pope Francis asks we focus on forgiving all– including women who have had abortions or people performing gay acts– he is not diverging from his predecessors (forgiveness [following true contrition] is a Catholic Catechism ‘thing’, not just a Pope Francis ‘thing’)– he in no way is changing dogma.

The Pope’s most recent comments are not about doctrine, they are about marketing.

And good on him!

I, too, find the conversation around the Church too narrowly focused on too few issues.

Catholics need to remember that Catholicism is more than the pro-life cause (not that we should *ever* forget that cause), for example: Forgiveness through Our Redeemer, the healing graces of the Sacraments, the power of the Holy Spirit to transform people’s lives, the beauty of a regular prayer life, fasting, conversion, etc, etc.

Our fixation on the man-made politicization of our faith has led to the neglect of other areas of spiritual life.

And, after all, those other areas of spiritual life act as doors, not walls, to our faith: A faith based on, not human judgment, but forgiveness for sinners.

MADE IN CANADA: SELF DEFENCE IN THE LEGAL SYSTEM

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Canada doesn’t have a justice system, it has a legal system: Just ask Ian Thomson.
Remember him?
Thomson of Port Colborne, Ontario was acquitted in January on trumped-up charges that he failed to store his firearms safely. The  former firearms instructor and Canadian Armed Forces veteran called 9-1-1 in the pre-dawn hours of August 22, 2010 when he awoke to masked men throwing Molotov cocktails at his home. After one of the firebombs crashed through his kitchen window, Thomson retrieved a pistol and a revolver (both legally owned and registered) from his gun safe.
A network of 12 perimeter surveillance cameras recorded the entire attack in detail. It shows the  lowlifes lobbing Molotov cocktails at Ian’s house while uttering death threats.
Thomson’s was a clear ‘made in Canada’ case of self defence:  Intruders charged only after the victim is detained, resulting in the vet being out of pocket for nearly $60,000 in legal fees.
But, so long as the masked career criminals known to police behind bars– Thomson could breathe a little easier.
Today, however, he fears for his life once again.
On Tuesday Mr. Thomson learned one of the villains who attacked his home with the intention of murdering him,  Randy Weaver, 48, is being released from jail.

Weaver, the arsonist ringleader, faces 51 criminal convictions (48 before his attempt to burn Thomson’s house down with the owner still inside) and admitted in court to taking $5,000 to conduct the criminal act. A better indication of this monster’s character  might be understood through one conviction in particular: Armed invasion in Welland, Ontario, where an autistic child resided– Weaver wielded a machete before the boy after breaking in.

Thomson received word of his attacker’s surprise September 11 hearing for a reduced sentence only one day before it was scheduled. Thomson tells me he couldn’t make the appeal as he was held up in court with his neighbour, the result of a long-simmering property dispute between the two.
Weaver saw his sentence reduced from three to one and a half years. By Thursday night Weaver was released.
Now, Thomson is requesting a concealed carry permit; however, he doubts the demand will materialize.
“No way it’s going to happen. All I want to do is defend myself. I’m well qualified. I’m well trained. Why shouldn’t I have a sidearm to protect my life?” Says Thomson.
When I asked him how long it takes for police to respond to an emergency in his area, Thomson laughed.
“It’s hard to say. On average between 10 to 20 minutes.”
Thomson then pointed to his voicemail message from Niagara Regional Police, which indicates a wait-time of up to an hour.
Firearm law expert and Thomson council, Ed Berlew, said about the request for a concealed carry permit, “It’s going to be difficult to obtain. There are very few in Ontario.”
Estimates peg the number of permits somewhere below 100 across the whole province of Ontario, a well-kept secret, with little indication of who possesses one and for what reason.
Next steps for Thomson include writing to the province’s Chief Firearms Officer to request an application. Then Thomson will be asked to produce police reports, which make a case for why the permit is necessary.
Thomson adds,”The system has not only let me down. It’s let down all of society. Weaver serves half his sentence and I am now living  in indescribable fear.”

Canadian Senate: All Things to All Interpreters

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In light of recent scandals in the Canadian Senate and New Democrat calls for abolition, thought to post a piece I penned a few years back (for academic purposes) that examines arguments for Senate reform and abolition.  Here she is…

The Canadian Senate: All Things to All Interpreters

The role, adequacy, and future of the Senate in Canada’s parliamentary system has been a matter of debate in political discourse almost since the time of Confederation[1]. Such discourse has involved proposals for Senate reform and abolition, while a move in either direction would necessarily involve an amendment to the Constitution Act of 1867[2]. The following sections outline the normative issues surrounding the debate, including the upper chamber’s function and role; as well as, its representative ability with respect to legitimacy, regionalism, and society.

[1] The topic of reform of the Senate was first debated in Parliament in 1875, only 12 years after Confederation when the constitution of a Senate was fundamental to the pre-Confederation agreement. Moreover, the suggestions regarding Senate abolition were first advocated by the Progressive Party in the 1920s.

[2] The provinces, particularly the Maritime Provinces would have a strong claim to be consulted on any amendment altering geographical representation, following from the fact amendments to the constitution of the Senate are not expressly under neither federal nor provincial legislature jurisdiction alone. Under the Constitution Act of 1982, Senate amendments require the support of Parliament plus seven provinces representing a minimum of 50 percent of the population.

Function and Role:

To begin, Lord James Bryce divides the manifestations of upper houses into three classes, where the Canadian Senate belongs to the second class—endowed with powers that are legally almost equal to those of the lower chamber but, in practice, much less—taking on a complimentary role to the House of Commons.  Practically, the Senate performs four technical functions: revision of legislation[3], initiation of Private Members’ Bills[4], the capacity for origination of general debates[5], and participation in the committee system[6]. Substantively, a review of the Confederation Debates indicates Canada’s Founding Fathers established the Senate to perform two tasks; namely, to keep a conservative eye on the elected chamber as to safeguard propertied interests, and to defend minority interests the House of Commons might threaten.

[3] Once a bill has passed three readings in the House of Commons, it must proceed through the same stages in the Upper House before it becomes Canadian law. The Senate may amend, delay, or refuse to pass government bills.

[4] Private Members’ Bills do not have a demonstrable effect in the creation of national legislation; however, Kuntz argues they arouse the Government’s attention, following constructive discussion.

[5] Kuntz characterizes these debates as possessing a level of academic detachment, through which public opinion can be expressed.

[6] There are three types of committees. Select standing: a combination of laymen and experts tasked to legislate, scrutinize, and inquire. Special committees: appointed mostly for the sake of inquiries. Joint committees: between both houses, for issues that have drawn significant public attention.

Reform:

Following observed trends of low Senator attendance during upper chamber meetings and committees, literature specifies two central arguments with respect to reform of the Senate’s function and role. First, there exists an objective to reduce powers of the Senate, such as lessening terms of appointment and restricting legal powers. Consequently, the tendency of reduction in reform would make the upper chamber more amendable to the government of the day. Second, is the objective for a more effective Senate that could activate increased influence in the government of Canada. This scheme does not necessitate a strengthened Senate with respect to legal powers; rather, it suggests the implementation of term limits, generally recommending six to 10 year terms, inferring frequent changes of membership would encourage greater activity and alleviate public criticism. However, it may be argued that such a system would inevitably result in opposition parties being more quickly rubbed out than under the present system due to the normal longevity of Canadian governments. MacKay argues it would not be beyond conception that, following an agreement of abolition; Canadians would invent some other means of performing legislative functions currently carried out by the Senate. Looking to the Norwegian upper house for suggestions, he illustrates a weak body with a suspensive veto[7]; claiming, the primary function of this chamber is to provide a second look at legislation. MacKay concludes there exists no reason as to why a house with such a function should have limited, rather than widened, powers.

[7] Which may be overridden within 15 days by a vote during a joint session of both houses.

Abolition:

Campbell notes two legislative roles in the Senate, “business review” and “social investigation”[8], which have evolved since the 1960s. The author asserts the Senate’s central function is the protection of major business interests and financial concerns, while it executes this role through “business review”. That is to say, business review causes regular change, delay, amendment, and even deletion of legislative provisions that might jeopardize major business and financial concerns. Business reviewers take part in “elite accommodation”, acting as liaisons between political and business communities; first, by employing personal contacts to pressure civil servants, members of the executive and legislative branches to promote amendments to bills that serve the business community[9]. Second, business reviewers make use of Senate committees[10] to conduct clause-by-clause examinations of bills pertaining to business-related matters. This, thus, leads to an advantage of the former group over their social investigator counterparts, as business reviewers have been able to institutionalize their role. Campbell outlines social investigation to be a secondary role the Senate has undertaken to examine social problems and propose policy alternatives; however, Campbell notes the role encounters stiff resistance from leadership within the Senate[11]. Campbell proposes abolition of the senate as reform becomes difficult, while the institution itself resists efforts toward modification. Campbell offers two reasons as to why resistance occurs. Firstly, as it now exists, the Senate provides a setting where business review can take place and, therefore, make accommodations between the business and political elite. This, consequently, advances the political fortunes of any government. Secondly, the Senate’s structure perpetuates dominance of business reviewers, which Campbell refers to as the oligarchic special interests within the upper chamber and policymaking process. That is to say, this “lobby from within” frustrates efforts of maverick senators in their attempts to respond to communities outside finance and business.

[8] Research points to a marked difference between business reviewers and social investigators, who disproportionately: represent non-urban areas, have resided for an extended period of time in the Atlantic provinces, are not lawyers, index altruistic motives for their legislative involvement, and view themselves and answerable to sub-groups and interests.

[9] Preferring private mediations for disputes between public leaders and the private sector, rather than public debates.

[10] Particularly Banking, Trade, and Commerce Committees.

[11] Stiff resistance refers to denied funds and committee time for special studies.

 

Representation: Legitimate and Democratic, Regional and Societal

Legitimate and Democratic:

Appointed by the Governor General, who is advised by the Prime Minister, Senators currently have a guaranteed term until the age of 75. Critics assert the current system of appointment results in a lack of legitimacy.

 

Reform:

A plethora of proposals calling for Senate reform equate the elected status of Senators to legitimacy.  It must be noted, however, the form of election remains unclear within these schemes[12]. In addition to differences between forms of elections, there remains a diverging opinion as to how constituencies ought to be viewed. Suggestions envision treating each province as a single constituency; however, others call for individual constituencies within provinces, so as to represent ‘community interests’ rather than a vast population. Lastly, some schemes propose coordinated upper and lower house elections, while others do not. Despite diverging opinions regarding the technicalities of an elective Senate, MacKay indicates three ways in which elections would change the character of the Senate: the Senate would claim to represent the popular will, a partisan house would replace the present non-partisan attitude, and the upper house would evolve into a second master of the Cabinet. The effect of an elected Senate, then, might result in dilution of the chamber’s independence and a disruption of the present balance between the two houses. Previous efforts of elective reform include Pierre Elliot Trudeau’s Constitutional Amendment Bill C-60, which proposed a “House of the Federation”[13] in place of the Senate. The upshot of Trudeau’s scheme was the “Triple E” Senate proposal, put onto the constitutional agenda in 1981 by the Canada West Foundation[14] . This proposal advocated a reformed Senate ought to have: greater equality in the distribution of seats among the provinces, direct election of Senators by citizens, and effective legislative powers in order to take on a greater role in the federal legislative process.

[12] Most popular are those that call for: the single transferable vote (utilized in Australian Senate elections), a list system (used in the selection of Germany’s lower house seats), or the customary simple plurality vote, in consistency with the lower house elections throughout Canada.

[13] This new house was to be selected through indirect election by the House of Commons and provincial legislative assemblies.

[14] Favoured by, among others, the Alberta government and the Macdonald Commission.

Abolition:

Despite various proposals surrounding an elected Senate, Campbell charges the Senate as “antipathetic to democracy,” immune to substantive reform; consequentially, it should be abolished. This follows from an examination of the way in which Members of Parliament become social investigators in the Commons; while it is clear elected Senators would take on the role as a matter of partisan competition in rural ridings’ political environments, not from individual interest. That is to say, their colleagues from urban centers would continue to have preference in business review positions; thus, a crucial component for making the Senate less oligarchic would still be missing despite the introduction of elections. Similar calls for abolition include the New Democrat Party’s central objections to the existence of the Senate, stating the chamber is undemocratic due to the system of appointment, including its property qualifications, and the composition of individuals who represent their own interests rather than the citizens’. Furthermore, MacKay evidences the United States Senate as exemplary of dangers likely to follow an elected upper house. Since the Senate is the smaller body of the two houses and its members are elected at longer intervals and represent larger constituencies, the added derivation of authority from the people would amount to the upper house winning out in the campaign for power in a bicameral system . Furthermore, the author points to nations with elective upper houses, which have undertaken additional precautions to limit the powers of the chamber as to ensure lower house supremacy and avoid political deadlock.  Secondly, C.E.S. Franks points to the difficulty surrounding an elected upper chamber as he questions if such an institution would be more vulnerable to the influence of lobbies than an appointed one. Furthermore, Franks asks how an elected Senate would reduce federal-provincial conflict and, short of a definite answer, he warns of the potential for increased fractious party relations between houses. Lastly, Franks is critical of expected voter participation in Senate elections, be they simultaneous or non-simultaneous processes with those for the lower chamber. A final argument that seeks to dismiss the assumption that elections confer legitimacy might be called the general decline of legislatures. This line of reasoning points to evidence demonstrating significant public dissatisfaction with Canada’s popularly elected chambe.  Furthermore, this group points to the fact counsel[15], alongside consent, is a primary function of parliamentary institutions; thus, what the members of the upper house do, not how they received their position, should be the test of their legitimacy.

[15] To underscore this point this group argues that, although support for the monarchy in Canada is in slow decline, no one has suggested the office of governor general, as representative of the Canadian Crown, is illegitimate.

Regional and Societal:

Established as the legislative body founded on regional representation[16], the upper house was intended to ensure the protection of provincial interests in the Canadian federalist model[17]. Additionally, there exists a tenet of liberal democracy, which states all sectors of a society should enjoy reasonably equal access to governmental decision makers.

[16] Regional representation for each of the three vast geographical divisions at the time of Confederation: Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritimes who were especially compensated for their weak numerical position in the lower house. This principle was later extended to the Western provinces, which translates to 24 seats per a region with the remaining nine of 105 currently divided between Newfoundland and Labrador, the Northwest Territories, Yukon, and Nunavut. The notion of regional representation stands in contrast to representation according to population in the House of Commons, while the lower house assures the will of the people prevails in federal matters.

[17] Especially in the case of Quebec.

Reform:

Various suggestions have been made as to how the provinces might be better represented within the Senate. One proposal worthy of consideration is the notion of provincial appointments, which advises one-fourth to one-third of the seats in the upper chamber ought to be filled by individuals recommended by the respective provincial administration for a short-term basis. Provincially appointed senators would, then, be endowed with increased representative capacity[18]. The presence of provincial appointees, however, would likely cause an increase of party considerations and, thus, diminish the independence of the upper house. Moreover, provincial appointments might become too influential in the affairs of legislation so as to upset the present balance between the two houses or between the Commons and Cabinet. In addition to provincial appointments with respect to regional representation, remains the Triple E view, which is territorially based and calls for greater provincial equality in Senate seat distribution. However, the Triple E proposal is scant for analysis regarding how the new Senate would work with the Commons and what provisions there would be for remedying deadlocks. Beyond minimal depth offered with respect to territoriality, the Triple E scheme lacks vigor with respect to societal representation; insofar as, although there is no express violation of the aforementioned tenet of liberal democracy, the system makes no mention on the status of Quebec or First Nations. This remains the case, despite the Renewal of Canada Institutional Reform conference in 1992, which advocated for a “Triple E Plus” system that would encompass all dimensions of Canadian societal diversit.

[18] Furthermore, this reform would tend to avoid the situation that currently arises, however occasionally, when the opposition is reduced to negligible proportions in the Senate.

 

Abolition:

Campbell’s dismal outlook on reform proposals continues into the areas of regional and societal representation; insofar as, recommendations of lower retirement age, more western representation, or appointments by the provinces themselves fail to strike at the upper chamber’s oligarchic disposition. For example, Campbell forewarns that the trend for Prime Ministers to appoint partisan, political, and business figures would be no different if Premiers were left with the choice. Campbell asserts the Senate has not fulfilled the expectations of the Founding Fathers; insofar as, rarely has it ever appreciably protected regional and provincial interests, functioning mostly to protect propertied interests against actions by the lower chamber. Those who call for the abolition of the Senate note the upper chamber’s contribution to investigations involving issues such as poverty; however, criticism of present-day brokerage in the upper house between the worlds of business and government outweighs altruistic productions. Furthermore, Campbell indicates a violation of the tenet of liberal democracy, which states all sectors of a society should enjoy reasonably equal access to governmental decision makers, which follows from his critique of the unrepresentativeness of Senate appointees as discussed in the aforementioned section regarding democracy.

 

Conclusion:

In light of the aforementioned overview of the normative points of divergence between those who propose reform and those who advocate abolition, it is clear the role, adequacy, and future of the Canadian Senate is a complex issue.  If and until the legislature departs from the status quo, with anticipation of politicking thereafter, Canada’s upper chamber will remain as it has been since the nation’s nascence; that is, “all things to all interpreters”.

Bibliography:

  1. Campbell, Colin. The Canadian Senate: A Lobby from Within. Toronto: Macmillan, 1978.
  2. Elton, David and Peter McCormick. A Blueprint or Senate Reform. Calgary: Canada West Foundation, 1990.
  3. Franks, C.E.S. The Parliament of Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1987.
  4. Gibbins, Roger. Senate Reform: Moving Towards the Slippery Slope. Kingston: Institute of Intergovernmental Relations, Queen’s University, 1983.
  5. Howe, Paul and David Northrup. Strengthening Canadian Democracy: The Views of Canadians (Policy Matters) 1, no. 5. July 2000, Institute for Research on Public Policy, 8-14.
  6. Kunz, F.A. The Modern Senate of Canada, 1925-1963: A Re-Appraisal. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1965.
  7. MacKay, Robert A. The Unreformed Senate of Canada. London: Humphrey Milford for Oxford University Press, 1926; rev. ed., Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1963.
  8. Report of the Special Joint Committee of the Senate and of the House of Commons on Senate Reform, January 1984.
  9. Smith, David E. The Canadian Senate in Bicameral Perspective. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2003.

CONFESSION: RCMP GUN GRAB INCLUDED LEGALLY STORED FIREARMS

Posted on by Faith Goldy in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
While RCMP refuse to answer key questions surrounding the High River gun grab, some new details are coming to light thanks to the passion for truth that spares nothing at Sun Media– they are as follows:
- RCMP have have given us a number of firearms seized, though it’s a moving target. Today we hear the total is 539 seized, lowered from yesterday’s 560.
- Roughly half have been returned.
- No breakdown of ratios (i.e. restricted, non-restricted);  however, least one person had a ‘prohibited’ firearm, which has not been returned.
- Firearms seized did  include restricted firearms, in which case documentation including an up to date possession/acquisition was produced. ‘Other arrangements‘ were made if police felt the owner was lawfully entitled but didn’t have proper paperwork. In cases where PALs were lost, RCMP say they checked their possession/acquisition database for records of the individual’s license…
- No word on whether folks with restricted firearms saw their guns returned only if they came with a short-term Authorization to Transport (ATT) issued by Alberta’s Chief Firearms Officer, as per Canadian  law… An important detail since a failure to ensure as much would make the RCMP complicit in a criminal act
- Authorities say they contacted each owner who had a firearm seized, it’s not everyone has picked up their property.
… AND, the answer to the million dollar question law-abiding gun owners have been asking since news of the gun grab broke…
RCMP say there very well may have been guns with trigger locks that were seized as they were ‘out in the open’ – Translation: FIREARMS WERE LEGALLY STORED BUT RCMP TOOK THEM ANYWAY.