In what’s sure to come down as a devastating blow to parental freedom, the Supreme Court of Canada unanimously rejected this morning the pleas of a Christian family to have their child exempted from the Quebec government’s mandatory ethics and religious culture course.
“Exposing children to a comprehensive presentation of various religions without forcing the children to join them does not constitute an indoctrination of students that would infringe the freedom of religion of L and J,” the justices wrote in the majority decision.
The high court’s ruling, released at 9:45 Friday morning, comes in the case of S.L. et al. v. Commission scolare des Chênes et al., which involved a Catholic family who took their school board to court after it refused to grant their child an exemption from the province’s controversial ethics and religious culture course (ERC).
The course, which seeks to present the spectrum of world religions and lifestyle choices from a “neutral” stance, was introduced by the province in 2008 and has been widely criticized by the religious and a-religious alike. Moral conservatives and people of faith have criticized its relativistic approach to moral issues, teaching even at the earliest grades, for instance, that homosexuality is a normal choice for family life.
Despite provincial legislation allowing for exemptions from school curriculum, the Ministry of Education has turned down over 1,700 requests, and had even moved to impose the course on private schools and homeschoolers.
Critics warned that a ruling against the family would have frightening consequences for parental authority and risked emboldening provincial governments across the country as they move to impose their own versions of “diversity” education.
To me, what this means is that in Canada, the state decides what children will believe, not the parents. The state will tax parents in order to pay for government workers and government programs. And the state will use these government entities to make the children believe in the state’s values.
What is ironic to me is that Canadians likely voted to grow government. There are a lot of people in Canada who think that it is a good thing for government to help the poor. Many, many economically illiterate Christians also voted to grow the size of government over the last few decades. They voted to empty their own pockets by raising tax rates. They voted to entrust secular leftist bureaucrats with more and more power. They voted to let the state educate their children with public schools and government-run day care. They voted to let government provide health care instead of letting individuals earn and save to pay for it themselves. They voted for taxes that are so high that women cannot afford to stay at home and homeschool their children – they have to work and hand their children off to strangers.
It is very important for Christians to understand that if they believe that it is government’s job to redistribute wealth from rich to poor, then they voted for this. If you believe in “social justice” then you are opposed to religious liberty – and the free practice of Christianity itself. Many, many Christians who don’t study economics and don’t get their economic views from the Bible think that it is a good thing to vote for bigger and bigger government funded by higher and higher taxes. Christians in Canada seem to be proud of their self-inflicted secularism. They think that taxpayer-funded abortions and taxpayer-funded sex changes are a great idea – because “health care is a right”. They think that taxpayer-funded abortion and taxpayer-funded sex changes are authentic Christianity, supported by the Bible.
I have had Christians in Ontario tell me on Facebook that they are pro-life, pro-marriage and pro-family but that they favor allowing a secular government to force all taxpayers to pay for abortions and sex changes. That is what Canadian Christianity amounts to, in many cases – because they don’t understand economics, and what economic policies promote and secure rights – including the right to religious liberty. The right to religious liberty is only guaranteed when government is limited and the free enterprise system is strong. We need to stop deciding our views of politics and economics based on feelings and peer pressure and the desire to appear “compassionate”. We need to ask what the Bible says, and study economics in order to find out what guarantees the liberty we need to live out authentic Christian lives.
I think it’s time for Christians in Canada to get serious about applying the Bible to all of life – including economics.
Terence Corcoran writes in the Financial Post about the Canadian Minister of Natural Resources Joe Oliver.
Through most of 2011, Canadian energy officials in politics and industry watched with bewildered helplessness and some shock as Washington allowed environmentalists to seize control of TransCanada’s $7-billion Keystone XL pipeline issue. They stood by aghast as President Barack Obama, a captive of U.S. green activists and Hollywood movie stars, caved in to political pressure and postponed a decision to approve the project, a potential economic bonanza that promised to deliver thousands of jobs to Americans and billions of barrels of Canadian oil sands production to Texas.
No such green hijacking is going to take place in Canada, at least not without an official fight. On the eve of hearings, which begin Tuesday in Kitimat, B.C., into the $5.5-billion Northern Gateway pipeline — to carry the same oil sands production from Alberta to the West Coast and on to China — the Harper government clearly aims to do what Barack Obama cannot or will not do in America, namely stand up to the growth-killing professional green movement.
It is a cliché in journalism to declare metaphorical wars at the drop of a news release. In this case, it looks like war is exactly what Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver launched Monday in an unprecedented open letter warning that Canada will not allow “environmental and other radical groups” to “hijack our regulatory system to achieve their radical ideological agenda.”
What a welcome war this is. Never before has a Canadian politician challenged the hitherto saintly protectors of the environment in such direct language. More importantly, Mr. Oliver took straight aim at a troubling trend in Canadian environmentalism — the foreign funding of Canadian green activist groups with the express purpose of shutting down Canadian resource development — first documented in the National Post by Vancouver investigative writer Vivian Krause.
“These groups,” said Mr. Oliver, “seek to exploit any loophole they can find, stacking public hearings with bodies to ensure that delays kill good projects. They use funding from foreign special interests to undermine Canada’s national economic interest. They attract jet-setting celebrities with some of the largest personal carbon footprints in the world to lecture Canadians not to develop our natural resources.”
Consider this story from the Vancouver Sun. (H/T Andrew)
Canadian ideals are shifting to the right, being taken over by a “unique strain of conservatism,” a poll from Preston Manning’s Calgarybased think-tank shows, the former Reform party leader said Wednesday.
This was the second year the Manning Centre for Building Democracy conducted the poll, which asked Canadians about their attitudes toward values and policies generally ascribed to Conservatives. Last year’s results indicated similar movements, with more people saying they don’t want government peddling grand views and having its hands in all aspects of society.
The only exception to this opinion is public safety and security policies, Manning said in an interview Tuesday.
Of those surveyed, 65 per cent said government should focus on current issues, and 67 per cent said government should decrease in size to do more.
Canada, it seems, has arrived at a point where its citizens have shifted their expectations for government, said Allan Gregg, the head of Harris Decima, which helped with the polling.
“(Government) is no longer the grand designer,” he said.
But the national shift isn’t necessarily being ascribed to Stephen Harper, who has been prime minister for slightly more than five years.
“This can’t be traced back the last two or three or four years,” said Andre Turcotte, president of Feedback Research Centre, which also helped with polling and interpreting the results. Instead, he said, this is something that has been happening since the late 1980s -around the same time the Reform Party began its rise.
Turcotte couldn’t speculate to whether it was by design or surprise, but he said that in 2008, Harper tapped into what many wanted out of government -being smaller and more focused on specific issues.
“As these conservative values become mainstream values, people will less and less identify them with Conservatives. People will just say these are Canadian values,” Manning said.
The poll was conducted from May 4 to 11, almost immediately after the election. A total of 1,000 interviews were conducted with randomly selected Canadians, resulting in a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points 19 times out of 20.
I blogged recently about how Canada’s economic numbers are vastly superior to the American numbers. I think the Canadians are learning what works by comparing what they’ve been doing (e.g. – corporate tax cuts down to half of our rate) compared to what we’ve been doing, (e.g. – massive bailouts and government spending). They know that they are better off than we are, and they know that conservative policies work – they’ve lived through it. That’s why a country that used to be liberal is now trending conservative. Prime Minister Stephen Harper gave them a five-year economics course and they gave him rave reviews as a professor, and a BIG promotion.
Conservative leader Stephen Harper has emerged from the election campaign as a much more powerful prime minister and will lead a majority government with four years to change the country.
At a rally of his supporters here, Conservatives cheered and celebrated Monday as the results rolled in from throughout the country, confirming that Canadians, in large numbers, had given Harper the trust he had sought in the five-week campaign.
As the evening wore on, Harper’s party was coming within striking distance of reaching the benchmark threshold — 155 seats — they needed for a majority. When the Tories crossed that threshold, a great cheer erupted in the hall here in Calgary where supporters had gathered to celebrate and listen to Harper’s speech.
The Conservatives success came as the NDP made historic gains at the expense of the Liberals and Bloc Quebecois, which saw their popular vote drop as they lost seats.
In recent days on the hustings, Harper had portrayed the election as having historic consequences for the country. In addition, his own personal future was at stake.
It was clear that with a majority victory, Harper will be regarded by historians as a political success story who united the political right in Canada.
He will have a four-year mandate to implement significant change in areas ranging from tax policy, to the criminal justice system, to foreign affairs.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has won for a third time the leadership of Canada, in a stunning vote which changed the country’s political landscape.
As the ballot counting wore on over six times zones and more than 5,000 miles from Atlantic to Pacific, Harper won his great aim, a majority government after two minorities in 2006 and 2008. The television networks declared his majority victory well before 11 p.m. ET. The Conservatives may have won 160 to 165 seats when 155 are needed for a majority in the 308-seat House of Commons.
While a Conservative victory again was always considered quite possible, the countrys political landscape was altered in three stunning ways:
The New Democratic Party, a rump group of social democrats in the 41st Parliament with 36 seats in the 308-seat House of Commons, surged into becoming the chief opposition party in the 42nd Parliament with about 105 to 108 seats.
The former chief opposition party, the historically great Liberal Party of Canada, the government of the country for more than 100 years of Canada’s 144 years since Confederation of separate British colonies into one nation, sunk to a very poor third with perhaps 30 seats. Michael Ignatieff, who became Liberal leader exactly two years earlier to the date, was looking to lose his Toronto-area seat.
The Bloc Quebecois, the separatist party from the French-speaking province of Quebec, was wiped out by the surging NDP, from 47 of Quebec’s 75 seats to perhaps two seats.
While the social democrats in the new Democratic party hold a powerful position in the House of Commons, the Conservatives with their majority will enforce a program which by and large is what foreign and domestic business and investors prefer.
The Conservatives will bring back a budget which was lost in the last Parliament when the election intervened 36 days ago, and will continue with a further tax cut for corporations, but a reduction in spending it said would bring back balance during 2014, erasing the federal budget deficit the Conservatives created after 11 years of Liberal government-created surpluses.
Prime Minister Harper campaigned for a majority saying his Conservatives were the prudent economic managers while the others were “tax and spend” parties. He will keep the same course. Economists have said that they see no significant changes in deficit reduction or in monetary policy under the Conservatives.
There are three important reasons voluntary exchange is good not only for the contracting parties but the world as a whole:
(1) Trade improves global efficiency in resource allocation. A glass of water may be of little value to someone living near the river but is priceless to a person crossing the Sahara. Trade delivers goods and services to those who value them most.
(2) Trade allows partners to gain from specializing in the producing those goods and services they do best. Economists call that the law of comparative advantage. When producers create goods they are comparatively skilled at, such as Germans producing beer and the French producing wine, those goods increase in abundance and quality.
(3) Trade allows consumers to benefit from more efficient production methods. For example, without large markets for goods and services, large production runs would not be economical. Large production runs, in turn, are instrumental to reducing product costs. Lower production costs lead to cheaper goods and services, which raises real living standards.
Evidence supports the idea nations more open to trade tend to be richer than those that are less open. Columbia University economist Arvind Panagariya wrote in a paper “Miracles and Debacles: Do Free-Trade Skeptics Have a Case?”: “On the poverty front, there is overwhelming evidence that trade openness is a more trustworthy friend of the poor than protectionism. Few countries have grown rapidly without a simultaneous rapid expansion of trade. In turn, rapid growth has almost always led to reduction in poverty.”
According to the Cato Institute’s 2004 report on Economic Freedom of the World, which measures economic freedom in 123 countries, the per capita gross domestic product in the quintile of countries with the most restricted trading was only $1,883 in 2002. That year’s per capita GDP in the quintile of countries with the freest trading regimes was $23,938.
Harper holds the B.A. and the M.A. in economics from the University of Calgary. He knows this stuff cold.
Here’s an article from The Heritage Foundation, another think tank. This article outlines five reasons why free trade is the best economic policy.
Here is an excerpt from one reason from the list of five:
REASON #1: Higher Standard of Living
The most compelling reason to support free trade is that society as a whole benefits from it. Free trade improves people’s living standards because it allows them to consume higher quality goods at less expensive prices. In the 19th century, British economist David Ricardo showed that any nation that focuses on producing goods in which it has a comparative advantage will be able to get cheaper and better goods from other countries in return. As a result of the exchange, both trading parties gain from producing more efficiently and consuming higher quality goods and services at lower prices.
Trade between nations is the same as trade between people. Consider what the quality of life would be if each person had to produce absolutely everything that he or she consumed, such as food, clothing, cars, or home repairs. Compare that picture with life as it is now as individuals dedicate themselves to working on just one thing–for example, insurance sales–to earn a salary with which they can freely purchase food, a car, a home, clothing, and anything else they wish at higher quality and lower prices than if they had done it themselves.
It simply makes sense for each person to work at what he or she does best and to buy the rest. As a nation, the United States exports in order to purchase imports that other nations produce more skillfully and cheaply. Therefore, the fewer barriers erected against trade with other nations, the more access people will have to the best, least expensive goods and services in the world “supermarket.”
Producers benefit as well. In the absence of trade barriers, producers face greater competition from foreign producers, and this increased competition gives them an incentive to improve the quality of their production while keeping prices low in order to compete. At the same time, free trade allows domestic producers to shop around the world for the least expensive inputs they can use for their production, which in turn allows them to keep their cost of production down without sacrificing quality.
In the end, the results benefit both producers–who remain competitive and profitable–and consumers–who pay less for a good or a service than they would if trade barriers existed.
There is no loser to free trade exchanges, otherwise the participants to the trade would not make the trade at all. Both parties gain – that’s why they choose to make the trade.
The Liberal government had forecast a small surplus earlier in the year, but a worsening North American economy led to a $700 million deficit before Rae took office. In October, the NDP projected a $2.5 billion deficit for the fiscal year ending on March 31, 1991. Some economists projected soaring deficits for the upcoming years, even if the Rae government implemented austerity measures. Rae himself was critical of the Bank of Canada’s high interest rate policy, arguing that it would lead to increased unemployment throughout the country. He also criticized the 1991 federal budget, arguing the Finance Minister Michael Wilson was shifting the federal debt to the provinces.
The Rae government’s first budget, introduced in 1991, increased social spending to mitigate the economic slowdown and projected a record deficit of $9.1 billion. Finance Minister Floyd Laughren argued that Ontario made a decision to target the effects of the recession rather than the deficit, and said that the budget would create or protect 70,000 jobs. It targeted more money to social assistance, social housing and child benefits, and raised taxes for high-income earners while lowering rates for 700,000 low-income Ontarians.
A few years later, journalist Thomas Walkom described the budget as following a Keynesian orthodoxy, spending money in the public sector to stimulate employment and productivity. Unfortunately, it did not achieve its stated purpose. The recession was still severe. Walkom described the budget as “the worst of both worlds”, angering the business community but not doing enough to provide for public relief.
[…]Rae’s government attempted to introduce a variety of socially progressive measures during its time in office, though its success in this field was mixed. In 1994, the government introduced legislation, Bill 167, which would have provided for same-sex partnership benefits in the province. At the time, this legislation was seen as a revolutionary step forward for same-sex recognition.
[…]The Rae government established an employment equity commission in 1991, and two years later introduced affirmative action to improve the numbers of women, non-whites, aboriginals and disabled persons working in the public sector.
[…]In November 1990, the Rae government announced that it would restrict most rent increases to 4.6% for the present year and 5.4% for 1991. The provisions for 1990 were made retroactive. Tenants’ groups supported these changes, while landlord representatives were generally opposed.
Be careful who you vote for, Canada. We voted for Obama, and now we have a 14.5 trillion dollar debt and a 1.65 trillion deficit – TEN TIMES the last Republican budget deficit of 160 billion under George W. Bush in 2007. TEN TIMES WORSE THAN BUSH.