Tory Minister Expresses Tory View, Shock and Horror Ensue

- December 16th, 2013

Industry Minister James Moore drew ire this weekend after comments to the effect that it’s not his problem how other Canadians manage their lives.

Apropos of news that British Columbia maintains the highest levels of child poverty in the country, a reporter for Vancouver’s News 1130 asked Moore whether Ottawa has any responsibility for this epidemic.

“Obviously, nobody wants kids to go to school hungry, but yeah, certainly we want to make sure that kids go to school with a full belly, but is that always the government’s job, to be there to serve people their breakfast?” Moore responded. “Is it my job to feed my neighbour’s child? I don’t think so.”

Outrage ensued. The Twittersphere called him the Grinch, among other things. Child poverty watch groups want him to apologize.

For his part, Moore claims to have been quoted out of context. Whatever the context his comments were intended to be taken in would be met with great interest, though none of us are holding our breath.

However lacking in compassion Moore’s comments may have come across, they should be of surprise to absolutely no one.

How could anyone with a remotely working knowledge of political ideologies in Canada be shocked to hear a Conservative express what is an entirely predictable Conservative view?

It is no secret that Conservatives tend to see charity as an act up to the individual, not something over which they see the government as having any responsibility.

By definition, Conservatives believe the role of government should be kept to a bare minimum. Anyone having a hard time is on their own, likely victim only of their own poor choices.

The undoing of the social safety net is a point of pride for these Tories. Whether it’s Employment Insurance, CPP or any other program designed with the idea that by helping each other, we help ourselves, Tories see these initiatives as things that develop dependencies among Canadians. Not things that help.

If Moore’s comments are a departure at all, they are only inasmuch as they were perhaps more blunt than the doublespeak Canadians usually hear from this government.

No, Moore’s belief that neither he nor his government have any responsibility in alleviating child poverty is not especially compassionate. But it shouldn’t come as a surprise either.

UPDATE: Moore apologized just before 1pm Monday on Twitter, saying: “An apology. The cause of fighting poverty is not helped by comments like those I made last week. I am sorry.”



Canada needs to do more to protect teens from porn, sociologist says

- November 20th, 2013


OTTAWA — Canada can reduce the demand for prostitutes by better limiting teenagers’ access to pornography, Wheelock College sociologist Dr. Gail Dines says.

“We have 40 years of peer-reviewed studies that shows that pornography shapes the way boys and men think about women,” the Boston-based professor told a press conference on Parliament Hill Wednesday. “It shapes their behaviour as well.”

She said the earlier boys start viewing porn, the less they’re able to perform sexually without it, while their appetite for uninhibited sex partners increases. Read more…

“Everyone had a good chuckle at your questions”

- November 14th, 2013

The government pulled together a press conference Thursday morning to share with the media all the great work they’re doing, helping victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

International Development Minister Christian Paradis explained in his deeply broken English that Canada has shown “compassion” and “leadership” when it comes to its humanitarian aid to the ravished Pacific country.

“Our soldiers are helping these people,” he said.

Interestingly, reporters on the ground in the Philippines are being told by the military all questions about what they’re doing have to go through Ottawa. The reporters don’t understand why – isn’t it in the military’s interest to explain all the great work they’re doing?

Military personnel are not known for their opposition to authority, but these directives not to talk came down from on high – the government – and are leaving many wondering whether the government’s “compassion” and “leadership” in the Philippines don’t have more to do with optics than actually caring about helping Filipinos.

Asked at the press conference why military had been given this directive, a military official only said his personnel follow orders, they don’t dictate them. Paradis had left the building by then and couldn’t answer the question himself.

Political staffers involved in the press conference said only that they were amused by the question of why military would be directed by the government not to talk to reporters on the ground.

“Everyone had a good chuckle at your questions,” was the way one put it.


Canada’s terror list grows

- November 8th, 2013


OTTAWA – Canada’s list of banned terrorist entities is growing, with the addition of two Islamist groups Friday.

The list now includes two more al-Qaida-linked groups: Jabhat Al-Nusra, also known as the Front for the Defense of the Syrian People, and the Signatories in Blood, which is active in West Africa.

Jabhat al-Nusra is one of the rebel groups taking over territory in northern Syria recently, creating new concerns for Western backers of the opposition to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.

The Signatories in Blood is believed to be behind a hostage-taking at an Algerian gas plant last January that also included Canadian involvement, along with suicide bombings in Niger in March.

Public Safety Canada says in its regulatory filings for the expanded list that “everyone who knowingly participates in or contributes to any activity of a terrorist group … is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment.”

Blast from the past: Harper on Senate reform 2006

- November 6th, 2013

I came across this speech today – an address by then rookie Prime Minister Stephen Harper before a Senate committee discussing his plans to reform the upper chamber. Some seven years later, the federal government is readying to argue Parliament has the power to move ahead alone with reforms including implementing term limits before the Supreme Court of Canada next week.

There’s video here

Harper on the importance of Senate reform:

As everyone in this room knows, it has become a right of passage for aspiring leaders and prime ministers to promise Senate reform – on their way to the top. The promises are usually made in Western Canada. And these statements of intent are usually warmly received by party activists, editorial writers and ordinary people. But once they are elected, Senate reform quickly falls to the bottom of the Government’s agenda. Nothing ever gets done. And the status quo goes on. Honourable Senators, this has got to stop. For the Senate must change. And we will be the ones to make it happen. The Government is not looking for a report. We are seeking action.

On “modest” Senate reforms like term limits:

“We must act.  The Government believes that S-4 is achievable through the action of Parliament itself….The key point is this. We are seeking limited, fixed terms of office, not decades based on the antiquated criteria of age. I have carefully reviewed your deliberations on this Bill. Some Senators have said the Bill goes too far.  Others have said it does not go far enough. But we can all agree on one thing:  it does go somewhere.   Somewhere reasonable, and somewhere achievable.
And in conclusion:
I would like to read a quote from a book I reviewed recently. On page 206, the author writes, and I quote: “Probably on no other public question in Canada has there been such unanimity of opinion as on that of the necessity for Senate reform.” The author is Robert MacKay. The book is The Unreformed Senate of Canada.  The year is 1926.