Monday, May 28, 2007

50% Of This Headline Is Wrong

No, not the headline at the top of this post, the headline "Canada Catholics 'ordain' women" at the top of this BBC News story. The 'Canada' part seems reasonable as it describes events in Toronto; the 'women' part would be accurate, if better spelt 'wimmin'. The other two words in the headline, not so much.

So a group of radical feminist theologians and their hangers-on decided to stage a ceremony and call themselves Catholic bishops, priests and deacons. Unfortunately, the Church's teaching is clear; ordination is restricted to males only and anyone conducting themselves in the way that these women do is subject to excommunication. Therefore, the ceremony was not an ordination, nor are the women concerned Catholics.

This reminded me of Kathy Shaidle's superb answer to the Toronto Star's questions about equality rights and religious tradition, and while searching for that link, I found her link to the Baby Boomer Death Counter, which is more than superb.

The big problem with all these movements for women's ordination, or other trendy ideas du jour, is, as Kathy rightly says, that they have the thing backwards. They're not trying to be faithful to God and the Church, they're trying to make God and the Church faithful to their transitory 2007 liberal beliefs and values. And the really big problem is that when such modernist and revisionist movements succeed, as they have in the Anglican Communion of late, it's the people who haven't changed, the people who haven't done anything wrong, the people who have remained faithful and contributed lifetimes of service, that either have to tie their consciences in knots, or have to leave. And when they are forced to leave, they're sued and chased for every last penny and every last brick of church property, so they leave with nothing.

When the Church of England voted to ordain women in 1992, I found myself in a real struggle of conscience. It wasn't clear to me what this change, made in isolation from Rome and the Eastern Churches, meant for the validity of Anglican orders and sacraments. Not that I claim to know the mind of God, not that I know that the orders aren't valid, but there is now a question. I don't know the answer, but I suspect that if there is one, it will come from Rome, come in the right time, and come with a theological basis for the whole church. I'm not convinced God would choose to turn the apostolic succession upside down through a bunch of stout middle class English ladies taking tea at the CofE's General Synod.

At least in England, some provision and allowance is made for those who can't in conscience accept women's ordination. In Canada, you can't be an Anglican and question women's ordination at all. So it was that in the end I made the journey that I had to make; to the Roman Catholic church. Women like those in Toronto, who agitate for change should have the integrity to do what I had to do, to pack up and leave, and go do their own thing in their own religion. That they won't tells me that their quest is far more material and far less spiritual than they claim.

Ken Dryden's Vision

of a National Childcare Service apparently includes some dirty little secrets.

From the Red Star (God knows, no friend to supporters of childcare choice or so-called 'traditional' families):
You're not supposed to know it, but children in licensed centres endure filthy conditions, bad food and physical and emotional harm.
Full story here.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Experts Agree...

Reading Mike's take on the ineffectiveness of chemical castration, I was reminded of this classic piece of 1980s BBC satire...

Thursday, May 24, 2007

It's An Ill Wind

News in Smiths Falls This Week that former town lawyer Tim Ray has been sworn in as an Ontario Superior Court judge. While this is a great achievement and TDPC congratulates Mr. Justice Ray, it's worth remembering that Montague residents are more familiar with the new jurist as the lawyer who advised council in their failed lawsuit against Don Page.

Many commenters, including me, felt at the time that Mr. Ray was the one party who escaped all responsibility for his share in the debacle - there are other comments on this blog from residents who felt quite strongly that the legal advice given to council must have been flawed.

It would seem that Mr. Justice Ray, although his career has not suffered in the least as a result of the landmark case, has at least taken on board a lesson from the experience. In the SFTW article he is quoted as saying:
The Superior Court is a very important court. It's an important position. The court is there as guardian of rights and freedoms of the individual against the state.
Quite right, Mr. Justice Ray. If only you'd thought that way just a little earlier, a great deal of trouble and a great deal of money might have been saved.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Why Am I Here?

Reflecting on the past year of blogging, and having thought long and hard on Mike's post Why Am I Here? I have decided that I should explore this question as well. Why this blog? What is it that motivates my involvement and engagement in the political world, in the volunteer sector, in the contributions I try to make to the world?

My father died from colon cancer at age 60; I was 14 at the time. He was sick for about a year and I watched him slowly deteriorate. I was the only child left living at home; my sister and my four older brothers had already left home by this time. My father was a remote figure in most ways and, despite being a schoolteacher, was not terribly good with kids. He didn't really start to get along with his children until they were young adults; this didn't happen for me as by the time I reached that stage he was already dead. He also suffered from severe depression and what would now be known as PTSD from his WW2 experiences; this had moderated a lot by the time I came along but my elder siblings suffered for his moods.

Perhaps because of this we all experienced his death in different ways, I think. I don't know, as to this day, 25 years later, not one of my siblings has ever asked me how I experienced it. I'm not sure they knew what to do with the kid brother at the time, or what to say to him, and so they said nothing. It's too late now.

My father taught mathematics and physics, but was scornful of undue specialization, particularly in education. He used to believe that if you were to teach, you should know as much as possible about as broad a spectrum of subjects as possible; he also wrote poetry and prose, translated Latin classics, painted, and loved music. His example taught me curiosity and a love for general knowledge; he taught me to be interested in the world around me.

Because he didn't really enjoy his own children, he didn't teach me much about the practicalities of life; what skills I have as a handyman, or with mechanical things, are self-taught through necessity. He would sometimes try to involve me in one of his bizarre projects - he built a boat in our backyard - but inevitably I'd make a mistake, be told I was an idiot and be sent indoors. Indirectly, although I missed out on woodworking skills, I learned tolerance this way, if only not to be like him.

My father was stubborn as an ox, and I learned this too. He always stood firmly for what he believed, and although I'm sure a lot of what I now believe would make him spin in his grave if he had one (he was buried at sea in a force 8 off Felixtowe in Eastern England, with most attendees being violently seasick), the point of standing up for it I learned from him.

I have MS of his poetry and I have his commonplace book - the historical predecessor of blogs. He would note down quotations that appealed, news snippets such as the founding of Israel, literary references, humor, and some of his own journal-style writings. I've learned what I know of the man mostly from this writing; it's taught me that you should leave more for your children than just a couple of books, but that writing and putting as much of yourself as you can in some kind of permanent form is a valuable way for your children and grandchildren to get to know you.

To sum all this up, my father taught me the one thing that really is the reason I'm here; he taught me to care. To care about right and wrong, to care about people - not in some wishy washy nanny state way, but in a real down to earth, making a difference kind of way. To care about learning, to care about issues and arguments, to care enough to make whatever contribution you can. This blog is simply one expression of this, but that is why it's here.

The Year of The Doggerel

Yes, it's been a year since I took the plunge into blogging and started The Doggerel Party. In that twelve months, I've learned a lot. I've learned that making bad jokes gets you into the national media and making better ones doesn't attract all that much attention. I've learned that you can use a tiny spark to light a big fire, never more so than in small town local politics. I've been accused of being on both sides of the same argument at the same time, which I guess proves I'm more balanced than even I thought I was. I've made mistakes, I've written some things I'm very proud of.

I took inspiration from some folks and I've made several new friends, and met a bunch of interesting people. I've had people try to guess my real identity and come up with some pretty wild and funny guesses in the process.

I've had busy weeks with lots of posts and quiet times when real life, dogs and small children conspire to keep me away from the keyboard.

Most of all, I've had a lot of fun. Thanks for reading and I look forward to Year 2.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

If The Label Fits...

Anarchist and confidential document leaker Jeff Monaghan of Ottawa has been complaining about being 'labelled' an anarchist. On the Friday edition of CBC Radio's afternoon show All In A Day columnist Don Martin said 'I know he's been emailing your producer to say he's not an anarchist, but that's what he is,' and today Monaghan has published this letter taking exception to the label again.

This is strange, because while Monaghan's letter says:
I eschew labels and identity politics. My ethical standpoint is my own and not that of any ideology. I support people, not an ideology.

and yet at the same time, he seems to have no difficulty describing Prime Minister Stephen Harper as a radical neocon theocrat. That's not just a label, that's three of them. And all three of them demonstrably untrue. If anyone can point to a 'radical' move of the present government, or any policy that they've carried out that could be justifiably described as 'neocon', or any policy that's been in any way driven by any kind of theological motivation, I'd love to hear it, but the truth is it doesn't exist. The 'scary, religious-right, neocon' Conservative myth has been so successfully debunked that our government is now nowhere near right-wing enough for many voters tastes.

True or not, you don't get any more 'labels and identity politics' than that. So much for eschewing them, Mr. Monaghan. So. In the spirit of his request, TDPC will refrain from labelling Mr. Monaghan an 'anarchist' and simply observe that he is an immature, dishonest and untrustworthy individual, with a level of political thinking of about the 11th grade, who is clearly, despite all protestations otherwise, thoroughly enjoying his fifteen minutes of fame.

Happy Mother's Day

It's Mother's day. Here at Party HQ, my daughter bought Doggerelle some perfume and a carefully selected card, then made her a fabulous painting at Sunday School. The corgis did manage to find a card, but rather spoiled the effect with their gift, which comprised lightly chewed objects obtained from the garbage can. So much for the glamour of Mother's Day.

On a serious note, however, I'd just like to remind all mothers out there that, despite the best efforts of a quarter century of feminists to denigrate motherhood, and despite their campaigns to drag all women off to the office or the call centre or the store checkout instead, mothering remains the most important occupation in existence and mothers continue to shape the future of our country and our world more than any other class of people.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Stephane Dion on The Current

Listening to St├ęphane Dion on CBC Radio's The Current this morning was a breath of fresh air. After the Tory fumbling of the (albeit manufactured) Afghan issues and recent less than exciting polls, it was nice to hear a bumbling, English mangling Dion in full denial mode for half an hour. A reminder that, although things may have gone a little wobbly for the government in recent days, their troubles don't even come close to those of the Liberal party.

Challenged on the 10 years of Liberal inaction on Kyoto, Dion avoided the question - to the host's credit she did press him on this to the point that he admitted he wasn't going to answer it. Again and again he kept referring to "my plan as Minister of the Environment" - meaning the tiny attempts he made on the environment in Paul Martin's government. He was forced to fall back on the lame excuse that the Conservatives would have opposed Kyoto measures during the late 90s - of course he can't explain how exactly this stopped Chretien's majority government from doing something.

What also struck me was that in a full half-hour interview, Dion hardly mentioned his party or anyone else in it. He never used"we"; everything was "I" and "my plan". It was almost as though the Liberal party didn't exist. He wouldn't account for his party's actions while in government and he didn't talk about his party in any kind of future sense either. It was one man's ego against the climate. That works for a strong leader with charisma. 'Nuff said.

As a Conservative, it was a pleasure to listen to this interview and remember what we're up against. If I were a Liberal I'd have been cringing. I had thought the Liberals had been keeping Dion out of sight both in the House and outside it - and that this was helping their polls improve - but he escaped here. If this had been an election campaign stop the wheels would be falling off the campaign bus round about now.

As a special bonus, saving the best until last, Dion was extremely proud of his record on the protection of "endangered PCs". Who knew?

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

If You Want To Be Canadian

Charles Roach, a permanent resident of Canada, wants the courts to remove the Queen from the oath of Canadian Citizenship.

It's been a while since I took my own citizenship test, but I seem to remember that the Queen is Canada's head of state. So I really can't see how pledging allegiance to her, in that capacity, can be unconstitutional.

Once you're a Canadian citizen you have every right to believe in and argue for the abolition of the monarchy, however, you can't with any integrity want to become a Canadian and at the same time reject Canada's head of state. Take the oath first, and then work to make change if you wish, Mr. Roach. Otherwise you're just a hypocrite.

The Warren and Randy Show

Warren Kinsella launches the Daily Hillier. Suddenly a backwater of Eastern Ontario might become centre stage in provincial politics. Fasten your seatbelts. Warren also notices that in Kingston, the Ontario PCs are reduced to posting a help-wanted ad to find a candidate.

Another Reason To Love The Country

... actually, several reasons. Snapped from the living room window by Doggerelle yesterday morning. Got to love a 12x optical zoom.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

This Is Why We Left The City

We used to live in the Glebe neighborhood in downtown Ottawa. This affluent and once-trendy area is populated by upper-middle class soccer moms, the granola crowd and property speculators. There are exceptions of course; there are some 'old money' folks and some families who've lived there for the last 100 years.

There's a lot going for the Glebe - some great pubs, interesting stores and walking distance to everything. But the atmosphere and the subculture becomes oppressive after a while - and there is no better example than this story from today's Ottawa Citizen.

Yes, the people of the Glebe are so immune from the real social problems and crime that plague some less well off neighbourhoods that they called in the graffiti squad to deal with those wretched, deliquent, dangerous five year olds and their hopscotch. Most people would be glad to see kids playing such a harmless, old-fashioned game instead of Xbox-ing or worse. Pathetic.

A Park for Montague?

Mike recently forwarded me some very exciting looking plans for a park and educational grounds development at the Montague Public School site. Apparently these plans have been drawn up by the MPS Playground Development Committee under the sponsorship of the school board. The Committee is seeking feedback through the school by May 11, but if anyone not directly connected with the school has any comments, post them here and they will be passed on.

Here's the plan (click for full size version).

For myself, I think this plan looks absolutely fantastic. There is lots of work to be done in terms of costing, and then looking at how the money could be raised. It's a 10 year plan though, so fundraising can be done in stages and from different sources.

Here's something really exciting that the whole township can support. We've been talking about 'moving on' for a long time now. This project gives us all a chance to do just that.

Hillier Wins: Liberals Salivate

Randy Hillier has, as expected, won the Ontario PC nomination in Lanark, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington. The Ontario Liberals wasted no time in issuing this press release.

As a dog owner, I would advise John Tory to invest in a short leash and an effective muzzle at this point. While the Liberals' gloating may be premature, there is a danger of the scenario their press release depicts becoming reality rather than Liberal spin.

Randy Hillier has been undeniably effective in leading the Rural Revolution, but party politics is a different game altogether. Asset or liability? We'll know soon.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Montague Dog Tags: A Last Woof

A previous post on the issue of dog tag changes and bylaw enforcement in Montague stirred things up rather more than I intended. So here are some final thoughts on the matter.

First, in my particular situation the reason I received a letter was that I had forgotten to mention that we had changed dogs during the year and were therefore registering what looked like a new dog, without mentioning that we no longer had one of the three from last year. Rather than a record keeping error, this was actually a case of extreme diligence at the township office. I should have checked my facts before I posted.

Secondly, most of the negative reaction which came my way both on and off-air, was triggered by the reporting in Smiths Falls This Week and the Record News of what came across as a new enforcement drive. Newspapers being what they are, they portrayed this as coming from the bylaw officer, Laura Lowson, rather than coming from council. In fact, all of these things are driven by council and as residents, if we're not happy, it's council that should be responsible. Laura's just doing her job as directed by council. If the change in process was not adequately communicated to residents, that's at council's door too.

To Laura Lowson, who, as I said before has been nothing but polite and helpful in all my dealings with her, an apology for unfairly singling her out in this controversy. At the end of the day, the whole dog control law and enforcement process exists to protect animals, keep them safe and prevent abuse and cruelty. Those are goals we can all get behind.

That's my last word on the subject. We now return you to regularly scheduled Country Living At Its Best.

One final thing: Angie really likes the natty new colour of the dog tags this year.

Made In Heaven?

Following Elizabeth May's teary-eyed sermon delivered in London, Ont. on Sunday morning, it appears that the whole May-Dion marriage may indeed have a religious dimension.

Ms. May is an Anglican minister-in-training and attends St. Bartholomew's church in the New Edinburgh neighbourhood of Ottawa. The Rector of St. Bartholomew's is the Rev. Sharon Schollar. In a previous life, before ordination - and afterward too - Ms. Schollar pursued a legal career and was also active in political life; her biography says that she worked in the office of 'a Leader of the Opposition, a Prime Minister and several Cabinet Ministers'. Most recently, in 1996, she was listed on the staff of former Liberal Minister of Public Works, Diane Marleau.

So the Rev. Schollar is clearly well-connected in Liberal circles and doubtless very well connected with Elizabeth May. Is the whole Green-Liberal marriage being made, if not in heaven, at least in church?

Life Imitates Art