Showing posts with label canada. Show all posts
Showing posts with label canada. Show all posts

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Supreme Court Ruling on Prayer: Some Interesting Effects

Here are a few interesting reactions to the landmark Supreme Court of Canada decision on Wednesday to end prayer in Saguenay Quebec -- which has already had a national effect.

Veronica Abbass has written about the mayor of Cape Breton, who is kvetching about the ruling and vowing to pray in the hallway. Well, good for him.

Hemant Mehta has done some coverage of the mayor of Oshawa, who is threatening to have the prayer before the official part of the meeting within the chambers, which is, of course, a ridiculous and transparent ruse.

Larry Moran has reported that Mississauga is finally going to remove prayer from their city council meetings. Well, she'll obey the law, which I guess means removing the prayer. I wrote about this city in the past. Citizen Derek Gray even appeared before the city council meeting and a crowd of loud churchgoers to try to remove the prayer. That didn't work, but this situation seems impossible for them to weasel out of.

Born again Christian councilman of Halifax, Matt Whitman*, cannot seem to understand why an atheist would have any problem with prayer during city council meetings.
We have to live in a more tolerant world where if someone says 'God,' even if you don't believe in God, or if someone mentions a particular race or political statement, that you can't get so upset about it. This is supposed to be a world of tolerance.
Yes, atheists must tolerate Christians getting all spiritually fulfilled all over the chamber before actual business is done. Christians, on the other hand, should not have to tolerate atheists complaining that state endorsed God worship is alienating, marginalizing and intimidating.
"I like our prayer the way it is and I can feel connected to my God through our prayer. If someone else doesn't believe in God, they don't have to because of the prayer," Whitman said.
Just shut up and sit down and let Matt set the mood for the rest of the meeting by feeling connected with his God.

*Note: Originally I had Whitman down as the mayor of Halifax. Reader Veronica Abbass pointed out to me that the mayor is actually Mike Savage. He's fine with revisiting the prayer question. I guess that's what I get when I blog in the middle of the night.
In light of the Supreme Court ruling, Mayor Mike Savage says it’s a perfect opportunity to take a critical look at the invocation.

“For a long time we were a predominately Christian community. I think people felt it made sense to have the mention of God,” he said Thursday. “We are becoming more diverse, more multicultural.”

For Savage, prayer is a part of life, but he insists that his “beliefs shouldn’t be imposed upon anybody else.”
So, my apologies to the mayor and thank you to Veronica!

Meanwhile, in Quebec, on the day of the judgement, Catholic Bishop of Chicoutimi André Rivest was upset -- because, I think, his religion just lost a privileged position. The article plays back some soundbites. Here they are along with my typically subpar translations.
«Je suis très déçu du dénouement de cette saga. Avec ce jugement, on balaie tous les aspects religieux, et ce, sans nuances».
«Le combat du maire, c'est le combat d'une grande partie de notre population. Bon nombre d'entre nous sont chrétiens et dorénavant, nos croyances ne seront plus respectées».
«On a des droits individuels, mais aussi, des droits collectifs. C'est désolant de constater que l'on ne tient pas compte des droits collectifs dans un débat comme celui-là. »
«Le Mouvement laïque québécois milite, depuis des années, pour faire disparaître la religion de notre société. Ce combat a été conçu pour faire piquer du nez le maire. Pour que, en tant que personnalité publique, ce dernier perde la face devant les citoyens»
I am very disappointed of the conclusion of this saga. With this judgement, we are sweeping away all religious aspects, and this, without nuance.
The mayor's struggle, this is the struggle of a large portion of our population. A good number among us are Christian and from this point on, our beliefs will no longer be respected.
We have individual rights, but also collective rights. It's disappointing to admit that we are not taking account of collective rights in a debate like this.
The Quebec Secular Movement, has been militant for years, to make religion disappear from our society. This battle was conceived to bite the nose of the mayor. So that, as a public personality, this one loses face before the citizens.
Is this some sort of projection? A religion's beliefs need not be a dominant force in the province to be respected. What sort of respect does he then think Muslim and Jewish beliefs get in the province? Or do they not deserve respect?

As for collective rights. This is code for Catholic or Christian rights... or corporations... or an idea or something.

Well, it seems like the majority of Canadians aren't particularly keen on prayer in city halls. An online poll over at The Whig puts agreement with the ruling at 56% versus 31% against. A significant 13% were undecided. In other words, it seems like only a certain breed of activist Christian within government really cares.

Although the Quebec National Assembly dropped prayer way back in 1976, they still have that damned crucifix in the chamber and they're still refusing to take it down. This has been an ongoing thorn in the side of their Secular Charter efforts and the subject of at least one online petition and FEMEN protest. Really, if there's any hope of not looking like a pack of hypocrites, they need to move the thing to a museum.
“The (court) judgment did not mention the crucifix in the National Assembly so it’s important to mention that,” Justice Minister Stéphanie Vallée told reporters after noting MNAs have voted twice, in the recent past, to leave it there as a heritage and artistic artifact.
Right, whatever. Prayer in the Assembly was an artistic artifact and that got tossed.

Surely in Quebec we can come up with something suitably artistic to hang up where the crucifix once was.

Hell, even this would be more meaningful.

Thanks to Stephanie for some portions.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Supreme Court Decision to Ban City Council Prayer Having Immediate Effects

Supreme Court of Canada (source)
Earlier today, I posted about a landmark Supreme Court of Canada decision which unanimously ruled that prayer at city council meetings is illegal. This has also been covered by Canadian Atheist, Sandwalk and The Friendly Atheist.

This is having so many immediate effects, that it's hard to cover them all. I'll try to list off what I know so far. In some cases, mayors are reacting in defiance -- we'll see how long that lasts.

Louiseville will eliminate prayer.
Lévis will eliminate prayer.
MRC de la Côte-de-Beaupré will eliminate prayer.
l'Île d'Orléans will eliminate prayer.
St-Dominique seem undecided, but if it means jail, they'll comply.
Saint-Stanislas vow to continue praying and 'will not be intimidated.'
Saint-Sulpice plan to continue praying.
L'Épiphanie plan to continue praying.

Windsor will eliminate prayer.
Ottawa will eliminate prayer.
Cornwall will stop prayer.
Brampton, who already eliminated the prayer, support the decision.
Mississauga, who vowed to keep their prayer, may be forced to drop it.
Oshawa vows to continue prayer. I think they may try to pull the pray before the official meeting ruse.
Peterborough is considering whether it can say a prayer or not.
Brantford is saying they will make a minor change to their existing invocation.
Timmins is reviewing their prayer to make adjustments as required.
St Thomas is awaiting direction.
Barrie might(!) review their practice.

Calgary seems to be investigating their options.
Edmonton reviewing their options.

Winnipeg is reviewing their current practice.

Nova Scotia
Halifax appears to be looking into their legal options.
Cape Breton feels betrayed by the Supreme Court. Mayor will pray in the hallway!

New Brunswick
Dieppe has decided to modify their opening prayer to be non religious.

Regina will eliminate prayer.

This judgement is and will have immediate effects on all city councils in the country.

I'm collecting reactions from Catholic bishops in these regions. They should be pretty interesting.

Additional cities and stories being added as they come in.

Thanks to Veronica Abbass and reader la Nitpickette for sending me updates!

HUGE WIN! Canada Supreme Court to Rules UNANIMOUSLY AGAINST Prayer in City Hall Meetings in Saguenay!

(Posted before the decision):

The Supreme Court of Canada is going to rule today on the prayer in city hall meetings case. This would be the case with quirky Saguenay mayor Jean Tremblay who keeps on trying to get everyone to say his prayer in official municipal meetings -- because: religious freedom.

I'm so sure that the court will rule against the co-mingling of state and church. Because they've been so reasonable in the past with issues like this -- oh, yes, yes I am!

Actually I'm nervous as hell about this because it will likely make a precedent. Unlike many others I've spoken to, I'm not very optimistic about this -- hopefully, I'll be proven wrong.

Tremblay says he'll have a press conference at 10:30 (24 minutes!).

More commentary on this as things unfold.

UPDATE 2015-04-15 10:15AM EDT!!

A WIN for secularism in Quebec and by extension the rest of Canada!

La Cour suprême du Canada rend illégale la récitation de la prière à Saguenay

The Supreme Court of Canada makes Saguenay prayer recitation illegal
La Cour suprême du Canada vient de rendre une décision unanime dans laquelle elle donne raison au Mouvement laïque du Québec et au citoyen Alain Simoneau, qui s'opposaient à cette pratique en alléguant qu'elle allait à l'encontre du droit à la liberté de religion de ses concitoyens.

La Cour suprême condamne aussi Saguenay à verser 30 000 $ en dommages à Alain Simoneau, comme l'ordonnait le Tribunal des droits de la personne dans sa première décision.
The Supreme Court of Canada just rendered a unanimous decision in favour of the Secular Movement of Quebec and citizen Alain Simoneau, which opposes this practice and puts forward that this went against the religious rights of the citizens (of Saguenay).

The Supreme Court also orders Saguenay to pay $30,000 in damages to Alain Simoneau as was ordered by the Human Rights Tribunal in the first decision.
 Huge win! More as it develops! This could set the precedent for the rest of the country!

UPDATE 2015-04-15 10:20AM EDT: Supreme Court ruling can be found here.
The Tribunal’s finding in this case that there had been discriminatory interference with S’s freedom of conscience and religion for the purposes of ss. 3 and 10 of the Quebec Charter was reasonable. The recitation of the prayer at the council’s meetings was above all else a use by the council of public powers to manifest and profess one religion to the exclusion of all others. On the evidence in the record, it was reasonable for the Tribunal to conclude that the City’s prayer is in fact a practice of a religious nature. Its decision on this point was supported by reasons that were both extensive and intelligible, and the background facts, which were reviewed in detail, support its conclusion. Likewise, the Tribunal’s conclusions on the issues of qualifying the expert of S and the MLQ and of the probative value of his opinion were not unreasonable. A relationship between an expert and a party does not automatically disqualify the expert. Even though the Tribunal did not discuss the expert’s independence and impartiality in detail, it was very aware of his relationship with the MLQ and of his views with respect to secularism; it was only after discussing all the evidence, including the substance of the testimony of all the experts, that it decided to accept his testimony.

The prayer recited by the municipal council in breach of the state’s duty of neutrality resulted in a distinction, exclusion and preference based on religion — that is, based on S’s sincere atheism — which, in combination with the circumstances in which the prayer was recited, turned the meetings into a preferential space for people with theistic beliefs. The latter could participate in municipal democracy in an environment favourable to the expression of their beliefs. Although non‑believers could also participate, the price for doing so was isolation, exclusion and stigmatization. This impaired S’s right to exercise his freedom of conscience and religion. The attempt at accommodation provided for in the by‑law, namely giving those who preferred not to attend the recitation of the prayer the time they needed to re‑enter the council chamber, had the effect of exacerbating the discrimination. The Tribunal’s findings to the effect that the interference with S’s freedom of conscience and religion was more than trivial or insubstantial were supported by solid evidence, and deference is owed to the Tribunal’s assessment of the effect of the prayer on S’s freedom of conscience and religion.

UPDATE 2015-04-14 10:20 EDT: Globe and Mail writes:
Wednesday’s ruling will have an impact in dozens of cities and towns across Canada that engage in the practice of reciting a prayer before the start of council meetings. 

Monday, 13 April 2015

James Lunney Blasts 'Militant Atheist Evolutionism' in National Post Piece

Today's Monday and I have a migraine. So, I'm just going to offer you some extracts from James Lunney's dramatic piece in the National Post today: Christianity under siege (!!!!!). If you need to know more context about Lunney, read about it on my blog! He started out being anti-(macro)evolution, but now he's become a social conservative Christian warrior against MILITANT ATHEIST EVOLUTIONISM! Oh yes, he's turned up the rhetoric against militant atheists lately.
Bigotry and intolerance are the trademark of militant atheism and its adherents’ campaign against God. Conrad Black exposed as much in his eloquently written and defended articles recently. As a multi-racial, multicultural, multi-faith society, Canada has been known to a world in conflict as a standard for respect for diversity and inclusion. However, a religious defence of science seems to be the vehicle for the most vitriolic, pejorative, vulgar campaigns of intolerance and ad hominem attacks in Canada today.
Lunney is here referring to two flamboyantly written pieces also in the National Post. I write about them here and here.

My head hurts though, so back to Lunney. Here, he colourfully compares militant atheism to militant Islam.
These public shaming assaults are not in keeping with the nature of scientific inquiry or the character of an otherwise extraordinarily tolerant nation. They are the hallmark of scientism and evolutionism bearing all the hallmarks of religion, but unrestrained by any modicum of respect for anyone who contradicts the tenets of the faith. In this regard militant atheism is more akin to militant Islam than any of Canada’s multi-faith communities.
Only with regards to just this one thing, of course!
The notion that belief in God is incompatible with pursuit of science is a falsehood clung to by a dwindling cadre of atheists in the science community today. It began with Darwin’s cousin, Francis Galton, a brilliant scientist in his own right; and the father of eugenics. While Gregor Mendel, was laying the foundation for modern genetics, Galton was promoting the concept that belief in God was an impediment to the advance of science.
We all know who was big on eugenics? Lunney mentioned it before on an interview. I won't say who -- but why not guess? I'll give you a hint: Godwin's Law. With regards to just this one thing, of course!
Evolutionism is based on a false construct from another century; it is as repugnant as any other form of bigotry. If this campaign for a godless Canada were successful, the Canada that would emerge is one that few Canadians would recognize and most would not want to live in. The “shabby, shallow world of the militant atheist”; it couldn’t be better stated.
I just don't understand how Lunney could believe that he's the guy who really understands evolution -- in opposition to the vast majority of scientists out there. Science isn't a religion or a philosophy or some sort of political statement -- it's the result of centuries of investigation and examining the data.

Lunney's ability to believe that he's got the truth vs the vast majority of the scientific community reminds me of something Tara Hill, ex-anti-vaxxer from Ottawa said on her blog.
I just didn’t trust civic government, the medical community, the pharmaceutical industry, and people in general.  By default, I had excluded all research available from any major, reputable organization.  Could all the in-house, independent, peer-reviewed clinical trials, research papers and studies across the globe ALL be flawed, corrupt and untrustworthy?
Could they?

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Live Taping: Conrad Black & Christopher DiCarlo Talk About 'Decline of Christianity'

Last week, Canadian Atheist announced that Christopher DiCarlo would be appearing on a television program over at Vision TV co-hosted by Conrad Black! If you're in Toronto, you can be in the studio audience -- all whilst living in your shabbyshallow militant atheist world!

It's on Wednesday, April 15th. You can find space-time coordinates for the taping over at Canadian Atheist or at the program's website.

Dr. DiCarlo has some serious creds and I'm thrilled to see he'll be representing the Centre for Inquiry:
Dr. Christopher DiCarlo is a fellow, advisor, and board member of the Society of Ontario Free Thinkers and the Centre for Inquiry Canada. He has been invited to speak at numerous national and international conferences and written many scholarly papers ranging from bioethics to cognitive evolution. His book entitled How to Become a Really Good Pain in the Ass: A Critical Thinker’s Guide to Asking the Right Questions was released world-wide by Prometheus Books in July 2011.
I first heard him interviewed on the David Pakman Show and I'd go just to hear him -- but you'll get to hear Conrad Black, defender of tired old proofs for God and spinner of fifty dollar words, talking about The Decline of Christianity! This ought to warm every shallow atheist's heart!
THE DECLINE OF CHRISTIANITY? Hosts Conrad Black and Faith Goldy explore the fate of Christianity in the wake of diminishing congregations and persecution in the Middle East.
Okay, I'm not a supporter of the persecution of Christians in the Middle East. That's a legitimate problem -- unlike the fake persecution Christians are getting here in Canada.

So, I've been holding back on the name of the show until now. It's called The Zoomer. Unaware of what a zoomer was I checked out the definition for zoomers over at Urban Dictionary. Here are some of the many usages of the word. I left out some of the more obscene ones.
1 - zoomers (195↑: 36↓)A Slang term for Shrooms/Mushhrooms.

2 - zoomers (92↑: 15↓)word for magic mushrooms. -- last night i got all ripped on zoomers.

4 - zoomers (39↑: 45↓)In parts of southeast Michigan, Person who is tells tall tails and shows off..flashy person. Originally a person who drives around alot. -- Ever since he got his car hes become such a zoomer.

5 - zoomers (29↑: 38↓)A person who sells fake drugs and then takes off before being found out. -- Damn! that zoomer just sold me cat nip!
8 - zoomer (84↑: 96↓)A person who goes to Churchy and shags animals especially dogs up the butt. Zoomers are known to have a lot of money and shag eachother when there isnt a hairy animal in sight.

9 - zoomer (13↑: 27↓)Instance in which one accidentally inhales a small piece of Marijuana whilst smoking a cigarette of said substance.

10 - zoomer (15↑: 30↓)Similar in nature to a flaming hard core nerd, but spacier, and typically cross eyed.

12 - zoomer (6↑: 35↓)Exceedingly long pointed breasts.
Given his last two columns on atheists, I suppose it's plausible that one or more of the above could possibly apply to a program hosted by Conrad Black -- except for the really vile ones, of course -- but I'm more inclined to think that nobody under forty five actually knows what a zoomer is.

Wikipedia informs me it's a person born between 1946 and 1964 -- otherwise known as a baby boomer -- many of which probably took zoomers sometime in their far flung hippy pasts!

At any rate, it should be a very interesting conversation -- or potential showdown -- viewed with or without zoomers.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Judge Orders 10 Year Old to Get MMR Vaccination Against Mother's Will

Good news from Kitchener Ontario. A 10 year old girl has been ordered to receive her MMR vaccination shot before leaving the country to Germany on a vacation. The two parents and daughter are protected by a publication ban, so nobody knows their names.

Her parents are separated and the mother refused to allow her to get vaccinated -- cuz she knows more about the science than all those lousy doctors and nurses -- while her father wanted her to get the MMR vaccine. Dad took mom to court. Dad won. Their daughter is due to get the shot on Monday.
In addition to ordering the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine, Ontario Superior Court Justice R.J. Harper ordered the mother “not communicate with a child in a manner that would be negative to the child receiving vaccinations.”

The girl’s father said Friday that he is thankful for the ruling. “The reality for me is that it’s my daughter who won today,” he said.

The girl’s mother, meanwhile, continued to suggest science supports her view that vaccines are not safe or effective. “If people were to look into the science,” she said, “they would find that these diseases were on the decline before vaccines were introduced.”
This anti-vaxx business seems to be like a religion. No matter how many experts say vaccines are safe, there is just no satisfying them. The article even states that out of the 330,000 shots given in Ontario last year, there were only 49 cases of mostly mild side effects -- no deaths.

You can watch the strange rationalizations against getting the vaccine on the news report video. There is no news of the daughter herself having any problem with it.

Friday, 10 April 2015

James Lunney vs. 'Big Atheism'

Oh wow, it's Friday and Canadian MP, DR James Lunney, has posted something else to his blog. This appears to be special content only available through his Twitter feed because I don't see it when I click on his blog from the website directly.

In case you haven't been following:
He misspelled atheist but that's okay, I understand what he's getting at anyway. I'm just happy I subscribe to his Twitter feed and I think you all should too. In addition to his blog posts, he also tweets incontrovertible proof of intelligent design -- or at least anti (macro!) evolutionism.
Hopefully more scientists in the field of biology will see his tweets and look at this video! For sure they'll realize they're wrong!

You would have gotten to see the link to this absolute proof that evolution is total hokum, which he mentions in his blog post, if only you were a Lunney Twitteratus. I'll keep plugging his feed! You can't stop me!

Along with the above video and a story about an orthopedic surgeon, this latest blog post tells us all about Big Atheism in Canada! It's the NDP party, and militant atheists in big banks and corporations. 
Militant Atheists, Evolutionism, the Campaign against a Christian World-View

Who is funding the campaign to discredit and diminish a Christian world-view in Canada? Ian Capstick former NDP strategist and communication director, describes himself as a militant atheist. He stated on national TV he had “to take James Lunney down”! Really?  Does Ian Capstick speak for the NDP when he states he is going after the charitable tax-exempt status of the church? Is it militant atheists in the big banks and corporations that are forcing doctors to undertake costly charter challenges to protect long-standing conscience provisions struck down by their licencing boards and TWU to graduate law students?

The campaign to target Christian politicians and make them appear unintelligent, uneducated and therefore unelectable is based not on science but a clash in world-views increasingly untenable due to advances in molecular and cell biology. Evolutionism is a religious world-view clung to by a dwindling cadre of scientists, militant atheists and the uninformed who insist (macro) evolution, from simple molecules to higher life forms by random undirected acts, is a fact.
The party's over! Lunney is onto us!

I like how he exposes Capstick's plans to end the religious privilege of tax-exempt churches as a bad thing!

Further developments include a rather angry looking Lunney in this CHEK news interview.

Note: Some of this post was extended to include the CHEK news piece on Lunney after initial publishing.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Ottawa Mom Drops Anti-Vaxx Belief Too Late: Seven Children Get Sick

Boy having a whooping cough fit. (source)
Ottawa mother of seven, Tara Hills, stopped vaccinating her children after the fourth was born because she grew suspicious of the medical community and fell into the anti-vaxx crowd.

Not long ago, after hearing about the recent measles outbreaks, her and her husband started looking into vaccines again and left the anti-vaxx community. Sadly though it was too late and her seven children now have contracted the disease -- the youngest is 10 months.
Hills said she had recently started rethinking her position on vaccinations. Before her youngest was diagnosed with whooping cough, she said, she met with her family doctor to put together a "catch-up vaccination schedule" for her children.
Her kids are now on antibiotics. Meanwhile there is concern that they might have infected others with the disease, including her sisters' toddlers and 34 week old son, who is still in a neonatal intensive care unit. Her niece is also too young to be vaccinated and could not be infected.

I have no smug 'I told you so' for Hill, even though she does recognize the family could be on the receiving end of this -- from both sides. Frankly, I feel nothing but sincerely sorrow and empathy for her and her children since this illness is no freaking joke. It's deadly serious and absolutely miserable for the children. It can go on for weeks even with recovery.

Hill describes her journal from science denial back to evidence-based medicine in a blog post: Learning the Hard Way: My Journey from #AntiVaxx to Science at  The Scientific Parent.
We had vaccinated our first three children on an alternative schedule and our youngest four weren’t vaccinated at all.  We stopped because we were scared and didn’t know who to trust.  Was the medical community just paid off puppets of a Big Pharma-Government-Media conspiracy?  Were these vaccines even necessary in this day and age? Were we unwittingly doing greater harm than help to our beloved children? So much smoke must mean a fire so we defaulted to the ‘do nothing and hope nothing bad happens’ position.

For years relatives tried to persuade us to reconsider through emails and links, but this only irritated us and made us defensive.  Secretly, I hoped I would find the proof I needed to hold the course, but deep down I was resigned to only find endless conflicting arguments that never resolved anything.  No matter if we vaccinated or not, I thought, it would be nothing more than a coin toss with horrible risks either way.
Finally after the measles outbreak at Disney Land, she began to see her own cognitive dissonance.
I just didn’t trust civic government, the medical community, the pharmaceutical industry, and people in general.  By default, I had excluded all research available from any major, reputable organization.  Could all the in-house, independent, peer-reviewed clinical trials, research papers and studies across the globe ALL be flawed, corrupt and untrustworthy?
She also appears to be pitting the hard hat on for any blow back from the anti-vaxx community. I'm absolutely certain there will be some.

At the time of the writing of her compelling blog post, her eldest two sons were improving while the youngest four were quickly deteriorating. Ontario Public Health is apparently monitoring the situation.

My thoughts are with the Hill family. I really would not wish this onto my worst enemy.

In another post, Tara submitted some videos of her children in coughing fits so dreadful that the blog administrators at The Scientific Parent felt they couldn't share. Instead the provided an edited audio file of other children with the coughs.

In the interest of perhaps scaring some parents into the sensible act of vaccinating their children, I'll submit this video from Wikipedia of part of a coughing fit.

I'll add this from Wikipedia:
After one to two weeks, the coughing classically develops into uncontrollable fits, each with five to ten forceful coughs, followed by a high-pitched "whoop" sound in younger children, or a gasping sound in older children, as the patient struggles to breathe in afterwards (paroxysmal stage).

Fits can occur on their own or can be triggered by yawning, stretching, laughing, eating or yelling; they usually occur in groups, with multiple episodes on an hourly basis throughout the day. This stage usually lasts two to eight weeks, or sometimes longer. A gradual transition then occurs to the convalescent stage, which usually lasts one to two weeks. This stage is marked by a decrease in paroxysms of coughing, both in frequency and severity, and a cessation of vomiting. A tendency to produce the "whooping" sound after coughing may remain for a considerable period after the disease itself has cleared up.

Please get your children vaccinated against whooping cough.

via Pat G

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Quebec Naturopath Found Not Guilty After Illegally Injecting Patient Resulting In Lethal Infection

Mitra Javanmardi is a Montreal naturopath who injected an ailing 84 year old man, Roger Matern, with magnesium. The injection was contaminated with bacteria and the Matern died 16 hours later. In Quebec, naturopaths are not allowed to administer any treatment intravenously.

So it's cut and dry -- simple. Javanmardi broke the law and through her illegal action and negligence, a man died. Now she's walking off scott free. She's been found not guilty of involuntary manslaughter and criminal negligence causing death.
"The judge recognized that the victim died of receiving an injection that was contaminated [by bacteria], and obviously the accused is not supposed to do any injections or IV treatments here in Quebec," Crown prosecutor Geneviève Dagenais said outside the courtroom.
No kidding!

Gabrielle Matern, the man's daughter is understandably upset -- she rightly calls is a miscarriage of justice -- and her mother, widow Denise Patern, is now an emotional and mental wreck.

The Quebec College of Physicians has already sanctioned Javanmardi, whatever that really means. Although, this wasn't just neglect! This was a willful breaking of the law. She knew she wasn't allowed to inject, but she did. So what does the judge have to say in her defence?
In handing down her the verdict in Quebec Court, Judge Louise Villemure recognized that the naturopath was not supposed to administer intravenous drugs, but said Javanmardi had received appropriate training and expertise in the United States.

She also received training in Ontario, but was not certified by that province.

Villemure said Javanmardi acted in good faith when treating Matern and took all necessary precautions.
I'm truly at a loss for words here. If she was so qualified then how did the bacteria get there? Dirty needle? Poor storage of the solution? Why wasn't she capable of properly observing the patient after the injection? In Quebec, patients are observed for fifteen minutes after a vaccine, for example.
Denise Patern testified that Javanmardi suggested a magnesium injection to help the ailing man, promising that there was no danger of negative medical interactions.

Matern began feeling ill about 15 minutes after the injection, and died in hospital the following day.
How is she qualified to decide whether or not the injection poses a medical danger? Why didn't she do something after he began to feel ill within 15 minutes of the injection? What do laws and regulations on who can inject people mean if people can break them like this, anyway?

It seems to me like this naturopath, at some level, must have believed she was above the law -- and it does appear that, for now, she is.

The Crown is considering an appeal.

via Pat G

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Do You Believe In God? National Post Readers Answer The Question

A picture of God.
Ever wonder why people believe in God? I sure do. Why not pop over to the National Post to be confused and befuddled by the responses. There are also some nice answers from atheists there as well, but most are believers with confusing support for their faith.

Here's one of my favourites from Gordon Akum in Toronto.
I embrace a rational view of God, such that finite man is not capable of knowing and understanding a complete entity outside of time. Therefore, to man, the best he can understand is what God is not in human terms, thus, a negative proof of God. Therefore, I tend to leave the door open, ever so slightly, to the possibility of God’s existence, with a healthy dose of critical scepticism. Thus, my bets are hedged.
So nobody can know and understand an entity outside of time. So we can only understand what God is not -- a negative proof for God? How about 'God is not real?'

I don't get it, but I thank him for sharing and welcome him to write in with further explanation to the blog!

Rafe Mair's Defence of James Lunney's Creationism Misses the Mark

Rafe Mair has come out in defence of MP James Lunney's creationism and what a defence it is.

Namely, he's defending Lunney against Richard Littlemore's amusing piece, Social media smites creationist James Lunney, ex-Tory MP where Littlemore points out that the public has every right to point out politicians' silly beliefs when they see them -- for the sake of the common good!
When we lived in villages, everyone knew the fool. And when he said something silly, the people either pointed and laughed and or they turned away in embarrassed sympathy. In either case, they didn’t elect him chief.
By all accounts I've read, Mair is a brilliant lawyer with a great list of achievements. This defence is not one of them. Let's take a look at it.

After explaining that he is a lukewarm Christian (read: Anglican) and singing the praises of chiropractors as 'bona fide healers who the public vote for consistently with their wallets because they bring relief the medical profession cannot' -- something sort of like homeopaths and those scam artists in Florida, the Hippocrates Institute -- Mair got to the meat of his argument.
Dr. Lunney's main sin, evidently, is that he is a creationist and denies the theory of evolution as propounded by Charles Darwin. Evidently creationism is so way out a view as to be unacceptably unorthodox, not to mention embarrassing to the Prime Minister.
I shall have to send my time machine for Mair, as he's obviously stuck alongside Lunney and countless other creationists in the nineteenth century. It's possible, I supposed, he's missed the memorandum that Charles Darwin died in 1882. It may seem astounding to someone whose religion stands by the words of a man who died 2,000 years ago, but the science around evolution has changed since Darwin laid it out!

This betrays a gross misunderstanding of the science that only gets worse as the defence goes on. Scientists have not been sitting on their laurels since 1882. They've been testing, correcting and expanding the theory of evolution all along. Lunney is challenging the findings of multiple fields of biological science for over a century.

Mair redeems himself by getting the following right, though:
My religion believes in a man who could walk on water, who fed thousands with food sufficient only for scores and turned water into wine. He also raised the dead and ascended bodily into heaven upon his own death.

The senior Christian religion believes all that plus that when one takes communion, the bread and wine turn into the actual flesh and blood of Christ.

Mormons believe that the true beliefs were found by a guy named Joseph Smith, inscribed on golden tablets which he transcribed into a new "Bible", after which he somehow lost the gold tablets.

I could go on but only wish to make the point that there's not a religion in the world that I know of that doesn't strain normal credulity in its teachings.
Indeed. It's all completely ridiculous. So why on earth would you get your ideas about reality from it? Why in heavens name would you challenge the scientific method by substituting your favourite myth or fairy story?
Dealing with evolution I can't quarrel with what Darwin had to say. I'm no scientist and certainly it would appear from the physical evidence that he's right. However he doesn't go all the way and this is where I personally argue with evolution. 
Darn tootin! You're not a scientist and neither is Lunney and so why are we having this argument?

In fact, what is even meant by the above paragraph? If Mair admits he's not a scientist and that the physical evidence he sees confirms evolution, then why proceed?

It's because Mair takes issue with the completely unrelated problem of how life first began on our planet. He then has a problem with the very very completely unrelated problem of how the universe began!
The question I have is, where did the water and the amoebae come from? I go further than that. Science tells us that it all started with some matter the size of a golf ball exploding into the universe as we know it. Without dealing with just how remarkable that is, the question arises, where the hell did the golf ball and the necessary oxygen come from? 
Indeed. Where did the golf ball and the oxygen come from? If only the cosmologists had any sort of idea whatsoever, right? Then the biologists would know how the different species of animal came to be.

I mean, how are we supposed to know how golf balls even work until we know how they were made, who invented them, the inventor's birth place, parents, grandparents...

He then points out that if we all don't know for sure, then why is postulating an infinite being outside of time and space that knows everything and can do everything and is utterly beyond our comprehension or ability to explain any more silly? Why is a completely incomprehensible thing for which no one has any proof of more silly... than, say... trying to come up with actual plausible, testable solutions to the problem?

He goes on to point out that many religions -- which he's pointed out above make completely irrational claims -- reject evolution. I'll help him out with this graphic from Wikipedia.

This is completely predictable for belief systems based on dogma lifted from non-evidence based... well... fairy tales.  I'll then invite him to take a look at Project Steve on the same Wikipedia article:
The Discovery Institute announced that over 700 scientists had expressed support for intelligent design as of February 8, 2007. This prompted the National Center for Science Education to produce a "light-hearted" petition called "Project Steve" in support of evolution. Only scientists named "Steve" or some variation (such as Stephen, Stephanie, and Stefan) are eligible to sign the petition. It is intended to be a "tongue-in-cheek parody" of the lists of alleged "scientists" supposedly supporting creationist principles that creationist organizations produce. The petition demonstrates that there are more scientists who accept evolution with a name like "Steve" alone (over 1200) than there are in total who support intelligent design. This is, again, why the percentage of scientists who support evolution has been estimated by Brian Alters to be about 99.9 percent.
There are many scientific and scholarly organizations from around the world that have issued statements in support of the theory of evolution. The American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world's largest general scientific society with more than 130,000 members and over 262 affiliated societies and academies of science including over 10 million individuals, has made several statements and issued several press releases in support of evolution. The prestigious United States National Academy of Sciences, which provides science advice to the nation, has published several books supporting evolution and criticising creationism and intelligent design.
Oh, but it's still totally open for debate amongst believers of religions which assert the existence of flying chariots, arks containing every animal in the world, talking donkeys and snakes, etc. Science be damned, we still don't have buy in from those groups.
Since by any objective standards all religions are goofy, why is Dr. Lunney any goofier than the rest of us Christians, Muslims, Jews and so on?
Not at all. I would say his beliefs are right on par with the official doctrines of these religions. If he believes these things then he is just as deserving of the same sort of ridicule ardent believers of other silly things are.

Don't get me wrong though. I believe the vast majority of religious people in the 21st century, possess more sense than what their religion itself states. How could anyone function in the modern world if this weren't the case?
No, Dr. Lunney is right – this is a matter of freedom of belief and freedom of speech. That this embarrasses the Prime Minister and his resident toadies, or indeed Richard Littlemore, scarcely alters the basic right in a free society to hold one's own beliefs and express them without incivility and ostracism however unorthodox they are or how goofy they may seem to others, even to the vast majority. 
I'm not certain what Mair is asking for. Does this blog post cross the line? Are we permitted to point out the error and then required to apologize for our insensitivity or any sort of emotional harm it may cause? Are we allowed to satirize Lunney, or is that forbidden? Will we hurt all important religious sensitivities and risk jail time like in Russia, Iran or Egypt? Can we poke fun at the ridiculousness of his ideas and question other assumptions he may have which might affect his policy as a politician or would this be too offensive for him... for the law?

Where's the line, precisely, Mair? Who gets to decide when it's been crossed?

Because people demanding respect for their deeply held religious beliefs in our society and crying foul and screaming slander when they do not get it -- that does slide into the territory of blasphemy and blasphemy laws.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

James Lunney Asks If 'Militant Atheists' Define the 'New Canada'

Brian Lilley (left) interviewing James Lunney (right). (source)
I don't recall ever seeing the news site TheRebel before, but it sort of reminds me of Glenn Beck's outfit, The Blaze. I can't quite figure out exactly how the two seem similar to me. Maybe it's because The Blaze is where Beck went after leaving Fox News while TheRebel seems to be where Ezra Levant and Brian Lilley went after Canada's own Sun News croaked.

So guess who got interviewed on TheRebel. Yes, it was the rebel creationist MP, James Lunney who's been making headlines up here in Canada and internationally. He's been talking about the horrendous abuse and persecution he and other religious folks need to endure these days.

In his case it seems to be mainly, cyber trolls on Twitter. They've have been mocking his religion and his rejection of evolution -- it's really upset him. This sort of open criticism and ridicule is apparently un-Canadian and should not be happening.

Here's the interview:

I'll admit, I stayed up way too late transcribing this stuff.
It seems that they're trying to trap social conservatives on a false construct of evolution -- which can be defined different way, means different things to different people.
Well, yes. The word evolution can mean all sorts of things, but here Lunney is referring to the biological process of evolution of living things. From what I understand, this has a narrow scientific meaning -- you cannot just pick and choose.
There seems to be a deliberate construct to attack social conservatives over this thing about evolution -- "You don't believe in Darwin? You don't believe in science." -- which is patently false. It's a false construct from another century. There's an ancient bigotry there that I'm personally offended to (sic) because I actually know something about this. 
I have no idea what this ancient bigotry is exactly. Is this people finding it ridiculous that a man with degrees in chemistry and zoology along with a four years of chiropractic -- an armchair scientist -- somehow knows more than the vast majority of professional biologists out there? You know, I think one might call that common sense, not bigotry.

Now, Einstein was a mere patents officer and he came up with a theory that changed the world in his spare time. So, by all means, Mr. Lunney, do publish your findings in a peer reviewed scientific journal and convince the scientific community. Your Nobel Prize awaits.

Anyway, this is followed by the usual creationist "it's so complicated it cannot have evolved" spiel we hear so very often. He brings up the question about how the first cell came into existence, which is not really the question evolution even pretends to address. Evolution picks up at the point where life is already in existence. How the first cell came along is a different problem.
Well, Darwin was a great scientist in my view. He made fantastic observations. It's the interpretation of those today, because you see, cell theory was just developing, they didn't have the microscopes we have today, they didn't have electron microscopes, they didn't know about organelles, they didn't know about all the mitochondria, and golgi apparatus in there and ribosomes and how that worked. And actually there are videos kids are watching today that are fascinating on the constructs of what's going on... there are factories inside your cells... couldn't possibly be formed by random events... and that's where the macro evolution theory is totally stalled. 
I've just learned that Charles Darwin died in 1882. It's so nice of Lunney to fill us all in -- along with the all the biologists who ought to now pay attention! Thanks Lunney for letting them in on all the exciting scientific developments in these past 130 years! Okay scientists, you can put down your copies of Origin of Species right now and start actually testing Darwin's theory!

What? You have all been testing the theory and tweaking it and improving on it and expanding on it since 1882 and it still stands the test of time? How could Lunney have possibly missed that after two bachelor degrees in unrelated scientific fields and four years of study in chiropractic followed by a political career? Inconceivable!
Look, the stone that has stopped evolution is a living stone, it's the cell. We had a stone that took down a big man, a giant in his day, many centuries ago, it was defying the armies of ancient Israel and Goliath took down a giant of a military man with a stone.
Uhmm... I think you mean David shot Goliath... or Achilles... or Gilgamesh or something. It's in an old book. I'm just an atheist, what do I know, right?
We had a former NDP member of Parliament who put himself between God and his purposes and he had a little trouble with his stone, it landed in his pocket. See ultimately God is not mocked. The stone that has defied the macro-evolution theory is infact living stones and you're made up of 80-100 trillion of them and they cannot possibly explain that this happened by random events - so they're looking at either ET did it or God did it -- but you're not allowed to say that God did it...
Oh please! Be my guest! I allow you to say that anytime you want!

Exactly, why are we looking at ET did it or God did it? What a stupid false dichotomy that is. How about we don't yet know how the first cell(s) came to be? Why can't we go with that?
You know, Brian, I'm concerned that every social conservative, who is running for office at the senior levels is going to be confronted by the canard -- "Do you believe in Darwin? Don't you believe in science?" ...
You don't need to believe in Darwin like he's Jesus or anything. However, the question is still a valid enough one. People want to know if you trust scientists or if you have some other wacky set of beliefs which prevent you from accepting current scientific consensus. Why should anyone be afraid to answer the question unless they are scared they'll sound utterly ridiculous to the Canadian public? Is this not all the more reason to ask?

Here's the worst of it from Lilley:
Evolution is a theory. In science there are theories and they come and they go. Newtonian physics was a theory that scientists accepted for a long time. They no longer do.
I knew I got a lousy education at McGill! They taught us Newtonian physics and we hardly even touched the Theory of Relativity. You know why? Because for things that aren't super big or going super fast, it works just fine.

His idea is that people should be constantly questioning theories in science. This is, of course, essential because we can't trust scientists to do this! Oh no! They just sit on their laurels. Is this projection? I mean, do social conservative Christians perhaps look at scientists and imagine they must hold on to some sort of holy doctrine exactly like fundamentalist Christians?

Lunney goes on to bemoan how sloppy people have become with science these days.

Then, all of a sudden: Nazis! Eugenics! Atheists! (6:50)
I think, perhaps, Darwin was far more open than his cousin, who started this false construct that you can't beleive in God -- it was an impediment to studying science. His name was Francis Galton, he was the father of Eugenics. We know how well that worked out for the world. Led to the Holocaust and murdering of millions of Jews in the worst genocide in modern history -- but also to millions of other people being killed. The notion we can get rid of the weak and disabled or people that we don't like and just kill them to build a superior race. That was Francis Galton and it is still carried through by the minority of atheists who dominate science in America, although not other parts of the world.

At 10:43.
It's unthinkable, it's unthinkable that any faith in a multi-racial multi-faith multicultural country -- that any person of any faith should be ridiculed publicly for what they believe. It's totally out of character with our country.
Lunney then goes after Ian Capstick (@iancapstick) who he says is going after him to protect legal same sex marriage in Canada.
You know, he describes himself as a militant atheist and my question is does that define our new Canada? Let me say, Brian, just today Al Shabaab is responsible for attacking a Christian community -- 70 people dead so far -- in Kenya. The atrocities are racking up, it's so hard to keep track of them. But what does it say to people who have fled persecution in other lands and have come here to Canada like the Coptic Christian community in Toronto, who had a memorial for 21 of their co-religionist Christians who were killed by ISIS on the shores of the Mediterranean with their throats slit just because they were migrant workers and they were Christians? What does it say to them when they see their views being trashed here by people who want to take their right to their beliefs? They just fled persecution.
Oh please! Nobody is trying to take away your right to your beliefs! Here's what it says to them: 'You have the right to believe in whatever you like, but no ones beliefs are beyond criticism.' This is a basic principle of secularism and if the day comes when religious people have the right not to have their religious sensibilities disturbed, we have become modern day Russia where you can be thrown in jail for upsetting Christians. Then we've become modern day Saudi Arabia or Egypt when atheists are thrown into jail or whipped and murdered simply for saying things which hurt or upset religion. Is that what Lunney wants? Because it sounds like it to me.
What does it say to the family of Shabaz Bhatti, the man who was the Minister responsible for religious minorities in Pakistan. He was here in Canada, he was offered refuge but he went back to defend the people he was responsible for. What does it say to his family in Toronto when these militant atheists and the despicable comments I've had through social media from a bunch of people believing a false construct about evolution that want my ignorant views removed from Parliament. You know, what does that say to this community about the country that they've come to which normally had a reputation for tolerance. Is it militant atheists that define the new Canada? That's what I'm asking the media today.
I can tell Lunney is very hurt. Very un-Canadian of online atheists, eh? Back in the day, religion was beyond question, criticism, ridicule or mockery. Thankfully, this time seems to be drawing to an end. It happened earlier in Quebec, during the Quiet Revolution. It seems like the rest of Canada is catching up.

Religion is a human idea put forth onto the marketplace of ideas. Like scientific theories, it must be questioned constantly and put to tests. If it is found to rest on no evidence or on ideas which are patently ridiculous, then it deserves ridicule.

Friday, 3 April 2015

James Lunney Dishes Out Pure Joy

James Lunney made good on his promise to defend his Christian faith much sooner than I had anticipated. To be honest, it took me a little off guard when, the day of my most recent ebullient post about him leaving the Conservatives so he could totally let loose, he totally let loose during session of the Parliament!

On April 1st -- purely coincidental! -- he stood up in Parliament as an Independent and embarked on a long, rambling speech. He seemed to have a beef with cyber bullies who made fun of him when he questioned evolution on Twitter before the Speaker of the House shut him down for, essentially, being totally random.

Here's the video.

Others have reacted to this. You can read about it over at Larry Moran's Sandwalk, Hemant Mehta's Friendly Atheist, Veronica Abbass at Canadian Atheist, and PZ Myers Pharyngula.

I'd just like to add that Lunney also has a blog which people -- well, the media at least -- do read.  He also has a Twitter account -- with more followers than me. He can appear on television pretty much whenever he wants, publish to national newspapers and even sell a book if he wanted to. So why impose his victim complex all over other members of Parliament -- tying up our country's government? I'm certain every member of the chamber has access to at least one of the above media. If not, then surely a memo could be sent about!

What sort of media stunt is this? Well, the Christian advocacy group My Canada sure are mighty impressed with Lunney's Commons stunt for FREEDOM(tm)! In fact, this group appears to support all the very same things Lunney's been talking about.

Well, let's follow along with some of Lunney's remarks in Parliament.
... I believe there is a growing and malignant trend by what some would call cyber trolls to engage, entrap, belittle, and embarrass politicians of faith over false constructs of the word “evolution”.

In the past month, there were a few words exchanged on social media, apparently inflammatory words: science, managing assumptions, and theory or fact related to macroevolution. ...
Yes, we trolls have been cyber slandering Lunney over evolution, but we've got it all wrong. He isn't questioning evolution, he's questioning macro evolution. This distinction he makes -- a common one amongst creationist apologists -- is hilarious on its own. I won't slander Lunney but I'll happily make fun of him for this too.
After 15 years of serving among members, most of my colleagues would know that I announced more than a year ago that I would not be seeking re-election, so why not just slough it off, shrug it off, let it blow over, and ride off into the next chapter of my life—why, indeed? Maybe it is because I have a background in science. My credentials, modest as they are, are superior on this file to those of many in the chamber and most of my critics. Maybe it is because I have Irish in me and I do not like to be bullied. Maybe it is because, in my time as an MP, I have been sued and exonerated by the courts over the use of the title “doctor”.
Lunney's still mad because someone sued him for using the title Dr.  It's all explained in Wikipedia.
In 2006 Lunney was sued by Robert Pound for the use of the term “Dr” on all campaign signs and promotional materials. Pound stated that “The Chiropractors Act states that chiropractors "may display or make use of the title 'doctor' or the abbreviation 'Dr.', but only as 'Doctor of Chiropractic', 'Dr. of Chiropractic', 'Chiropractic Doctor' or 'Chiropractic Dr.'"Pound had previously filed a grievance with the B.C. Chiropractic College, which quickly dismissed the complaint in January 2007. The case went to the BC Supreme Court where the presiding judge, Justice Douglas Halfyard exonerated Lunney ruling that the use of the title “Dr.” did not “infringe any legal or equitable right” of the petitioner, Robert Pound. The judge also called the timing of Mr. Pound’s complaint “suspicious to say the least” –referring to the timing of the petition close to the federal election. Pound was ordered to pay Lunney’s legal expenses.
I don't have the links handy, but I keep running into stories about theocons and evangelicals in Canada who call themselves doctor but have really dubious credentials. He's got a Bachelor of Science and a Doctor in Chiropractic -- in other words, he's not qualified to speak about biology and evolution in any expert manner.
Many colleagues represent constituents beyond the ones who elected them. I hope that no members of any faith community in Canada are compelled to defend the beliefs of their communities in the future. 
Boo hoo. I hope that people are challenged to examine and defend their beliefs, constantly.

He went on into a talk about whether or not the prevailing science is always right. Of course the answer is no, the prevailing science is not always right. If it were, we would have no need to continue using the scientific method or to advance it any further -- it would become religion and be dogma.
Scientists are gagged over a false construct related to the theory of evolution, which is bogged down at the cell. It is something I know something about. We are made up of 80 trillion to 100 trillion of them. They cannot explain where the first cell came from. Scientists are gagged and educators who disagree are gagged. Academic freedom is imperiled. In fact, anyone who dares make the slightest remark related to this has an inability to speak. A member of the Alberta provincial legislature, the new education minister, was trapped by this issue.
Uh oh. Someone's been watching Ben Stein's Expelled movie. What's ironic here is that a climate change denying, anti-evolution politician is crying out that scientists are being gagged and he's right! In Canada, it's his own previous party, the Conservatives who are actively gagging scientists like there is no tomorrow. Just look it up on Google! If the scientists were free to share their findings, Lunney would have even more to disagree with and use to feed his personal conspiracy theories.

In my last post I happily challenged Lunney to defend away. Now I'm beginning to wonder if any of us can possibly keep up.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Health Canada Shuts Down Another 'Bleach Cure' Vendor

Portion of image from OxyChem's Sodium Chlorite Handbook (p.6) technical information guide for the compound.
I first wrote about the horrors of Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS) back in 2013, when Kerri Rivera was actually recommending that parents of autistic babies pour the 28%(!) Sodium Chlorite solution into their babies' bottles! It literally burned out children's digestive tracts.

Happily, Health Canada cracked down on this dangerous scam last October. At that time, they shut down one of the local suppliers by seizing stock and equipment.

Most recently, on March 25th, another MMS vendor in Burin, Newfoundland, was shut down.
Health Canada is reminding Canadians that consuming a product sold as "Miracle Mineral Solution" (MMS) may pose serious health risks, following a Health Canada seizure of an MMS product from a vendor in Burin, Newfoundland on March 25, 2015.
Health Canada reminds us that if anyone knows of MMS products being sold anywhere in the country, they should report it by calling 1-800-267-9675.

They also provide a postal address, but why on earth would you want to do that if you know people are giving their kids bleach to drink? If you're concerned about anonymity use a payphone or Google Phone.

via Veronica Abbass

Saudi Arabia Bestows Greatest Honour Ever Onto Quebec

Photo posted on Premiere Philip Couillard's Facebook page of the leaders of all major political parties in the National Assembly. The members of the National Assembly unite in support of the wife of Raif Badawi, Mrs Ensaf Haidar. (source)
As I've reported, back in February, the Quebec provincial government and the city of Montreal both formally and unanimously passed resolutions in support of jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi.

Apparently -- it makes me blush just thinking of it -- the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is greatly irritated by this meddling in their devious affairs and have complained officially via the Saudi ambassador to Canada. This makes me immensely proud as a Quebecer.
In a letter obtained by the CBC dated March 10 from the Saudi ambassador to Canada to politicians at the National Assembly, the ambassador says Saudi Arabia “does not accept any form of interference in its internal affairs.”

“The Kingdom does not accept at all any attack on it in the name of human rights especially when its constitution is based on Islamic law, which guarantees the rights of humans and preserves his blood, money, honour and dignity,” writes Naif Bin Al-Sudairy.

The letter goes further, blaming international agencies and the media with tarnishing Saudi Arabia’s reputation.
They also sent the letter to the federal government, who have somewhat supported Raif via the Foreign Minister and the Office of Religious Freedom, but they've never condemned Saudi Arabia for this brutality as a government body.

I'm sure the letter to Canada will make sure the Federal government puts Quebec back in its place. Yes, that's worked out real well over the past century or so.

This is no interference. This is merely what decent people do -- call out tyrant states who participate in flagrant human rights violations and resolve to do what they can to help the victims and denounce the torturers. There are no teeth to these resolutions, no economic sanctions or military action. It's just bad PR -- which is what Saudi Arabia deserves.
... The Kingdom does not accept at all any attack on it in the name of human rights especially when its constitution is based on Islamic law, which guarantees the rights of humans and preserves his blood, money, honour and dignity ...
Hold on a moment while I process this.

It's those international agencies with all their secular ideas of human rights, of course, which are the real problem. Oh yes!

Well, Quebec politicians are refusing to apologize or back down. In fact, if there's one thing the Saudis will need to learn is that Quebec is not easily silenced (e.g. do not give a f*ck). This appears to also be across all parties.
“Regimes which have an unacceptable attitude on freedom of expression have to expect that we are going to get involved in their affairs,” said Parti Québécois MNA Jean-François Lisée, a former international affairs minister and former journalist.

“Human rights is everyone’s business,” added Marie-Victorin MNA Bernard Drainville, a candidate for the PQ leadership. “Mr. Badawi’s wife is now living in Quebec, she’s a Quebecer and she’s living in Sherbrooke with her children. It is our responsibility and our moral duty to fight on her behalf.”

And Québec solidaire MNA Amir Khadir congratulated politicians for keeping up the pressure on the regime noting the letter to the legislature is proof Quebec has got its attention.

“The barbaric situation Badawi finds himself in has sparked solidarity movements all over the world which are being transformed into political pressures,” Khadir said.
Actually, according to Amnesty International’s Mireille Elchacar, the very same letter has been sent to all political states which have commented on the Raif Badawi case. So I'm guessing the Americans probably got it as well. Still, Quebec is a province within Canada, so I think it gives us something to brag about over, say, Ontario.

Head of Toronto Catholic School Board Accuses Board of Health of Discrimination Against Catholics!

Monday, I posted about Angela Kennedy's nomination to the Toronto Health Board. Although Kennedy was a nurse specializing in diabetes for forty years, she still had some non-evidence based beliefs which concerned the existing board members.
Kennedy, a registered nurse specializing in diabetes education, has voted against homosexual-activist clubs being permitted in schools, opposed HPV vaccinations in schools, and self-identifies as Pro Life.
I thought it was a bad idea and hope she would not be approved onto the board.

Well, Monday evening the board voted to deny Kennedy membership by a fairly slim margin.
City council has voted 20-17 to put a Toronto District School Board trustee onto the 13-member board of health, bumping the Catholic school board’s nominee after critics objected to her voting record on a range of topics.
Board Chair, Joe Mihevc, who opposed her appointment commented on her staunch anti-GSA voting record.
“Would we allow that as a society if it was black-white alliances? That’s what human rights are about and those perspectives in a public health context just won’t work.”
Could you imagine how a view like this would translate to people's health care? Kennedy is also against VPV vaccinations in schools and a woman's right to choose an abortion.

Naturally, Kennedy is claiming this to be a discrimination against her beliefs -- no, hold on... yes, it is discrimination against her beliefs, because they do not happen to be compatible with the science behind modern medicine.

Just yesterday, the head of the Toronto Catholic School Board, Mike Del Grande -- who had sent a stern letter of support for Kennedy -- came out with charges that Catholics Need Not Apply to the Toronto Board of Health.
TCDSB chairman Mike Del Grande said the vote to block Kennedy’s appointment is a “black stain and a black day” for the City of Toronto that sends a message that “Catholics need not apply.”

A day after councillors openly debated whether Kennedy’s views on abortion, HPV vaccinations and gay-straight alliances disqualified her from being on the board, Del Grande pointed out the city’s motto is supposed to be “Diversity our strength.”
“To basically go after her because of her moral beliefs then I guess the message to a significant minority in this city in this province is ‘Catholics need not apply.’”
I'll be interested to know when they'll bring on a Scientologist, who will want to ban psychiatry and deliver e-meters to all clinics in the city. Also, don't forget the Christian Science folks as well. Let's make room for the Raelians and their sensual massage healing techniques along with some good New Age crystal healing power. Homeopathy would also need to be instated as well -- lets get at least one of those practitioners.

What do you say? All that's silly? Oh, right, it's because Kennedy is Catholic, not some silly false religion. My bad. Gotta know where to draw the lines once you start treating religious belief at the same level as scientific study and evidence.

I actually have no problem with any of these religions being represented in a Health board, so long as I had some indication that the practitioners still held evidence-based medicine above their kooky supernatural beliefs. In other words, they kept things properly secular.

Actually, the Board doesn't have a problem with Kennedy's Catholicism either! Not only would it be insane to believe that the majority of the board are atheists or secularists, but quite logical to realize that in Ontario most would be Catholics just like Kennedy!
Mihevc — who describes himself as a social justice Roman Catholic — dismissed Del Grande’s claim that council was saying “Catholics need not apply.”

“I’m Catholic, I’ve applied, I’m the chair (of the Board of Health),” Mihevc said.

“If you look at the vote on council, many of the people who did not support her candidacy were Catholics and are Catholics in good standing.”
Clearly this is not about her being Catholic. It's about her own unscientific, freedom-limiting and potentially harmful voting record she's built up over the years. It's simply not compatible with the mandate of a modern healthcare system.
“I think council should be diligent in making sure that people who are selected to agencies, boards and commissions, who basically do not support the very mandate of that agency, board or commission, not be permitted to serve,” Mihevc said.
Kennedy says she'll file a human rights complaint.

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