Radio Freethinker

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Posts Tagged ‘Elections Canada’

RFT Ep 249 – Killing the CBC Edition

Posted by Don McLenaghen on April 18, 2014

Download the episode here! 

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Whine of the Week  : Killing the CBC

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As ye sow, so shall ye reap…can also be stated, as ye fast, so shall ye whither, and whither the CBC has. Facing an $100 million budget short fall…thanks to Harper, losing hockey and other factors…the CBC is cutting staff by over 650.

Polling shows the CBC is the most trusted media source in the country, more three-quarters think the government should fund the CBC at a sufficient level…most of those think funding needs to increased.

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The Harper government has regularly and consistently slashed the CBC grant budget after budget while spending  the entire CBC budget on a single F-35 jet…or overpriced frigates. What money they are giving, they think would be better spent by just giving it to private media companies…here’s how that would turn out…

Friday, April 11, 2014

Why are we not moving to a BBC style of funding…create a strong, stable and independent broadcaster, whose sole interest to provide the best of Canada.

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Seriously the Unfair Elections Act is Important

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How did Poilievre become Minister for Democratic Reform, how was the act craft and again…how it can destroy democracy in Canada – The Harper fix is in!

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The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report

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Climate Change…even more certainty and dire warnings, again – The IPCC released it latest report on the state of the worlds climate and we’re serious screwed!

Conclusions of the WG1 report (The Physical Science Basis) are summarized below:

  • “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia”.
  • “Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide have increased to levels unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years”.
  • Human influence on the climate system is clear. It is extremely likely (95-100% probability) that human influence was the dominant cause of global warming between 1951-2010.
  • “Continued emissions of greenhouse gases will cause further [global] warming and changes in all components of the climate system. Limiting climate change will require substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions”.
  • “Most aspects of climate change will persist for many centuries even if emissions of CO2 are stopped”

Conclusions of the WG3 report (Mitigation of Climate Change) are summarized below:

  • The global surface temperature increase by the end of the 21st century is likely to exceed 1.5 °C relative to the 1850 to 1900 period for most scenarios, and is likely to exceed 2.0 °C for many scenarios. With the possibility of an increase as much as 4.5°C
  • The global water cycle will change, with increases in disparity between wet and dry regions, as well as wet and dry seasons, with some regional exceptions.
  • The oceans will continue to warm, with heat extending to the deep ocean, affecting circulation patterns.
  • Decreases are very likely in Arctic sea ice cover, Northern Hemisphere spring snow cover, and global glacier volume
  • Global mean sea level will continue to rise at a rate very likely to exceed the rate of the past four decades
  • Changes in climate will cause an increase in the rate of CO2 production.
  • Increased uptake by the oceans will increase the acidification of the oceans.
  • Future surface temperatures will be largely determined by cumulative CO2, which means climate change will continue even if CO2 emissions are stopped.

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Society Is Doomed

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NASA funded study shows the not only do civilizations collapse, it happens regularly and is inevitable…but there is an upside.

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RFT Ep 248 – Canada Post Bank Edition

Posted by Don McLenaghen on April 1, 2014

Download the episode here! 

 

Fair Elections Dragon

Whine of the Week  :

 

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The Harper government has yet again put forward a omnibus budget bill…topping out at over 300 pages affecting over 20 other pieces of legislation. Why so much in one bill? So as to push it past not only the oppositions throats but also the Conservative party backbenches.

The talk is not about any specifics of the bill but how it is used a political weapon..

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Canada Post Bank

 

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With much discussion about the woes of Canada Post’s immanent demise and the need to cut service, we take a look at the validity of this prophecy of doom and how resurrecting the Canada Post Bank would shore up the crown corp and provide a valued social service.

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International Condemnation of the Fair Elections act

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It seems it’s just not me that is unset and honestly afraid of what is in store for the state of Canadian democracy if the Fair Elections act is passed. 180 Canadian academics have sent the government an open letter decrying the pure partisanship of the law. Now that cry has been joined but another open letter but this time by the worlds leading experts on democracy…that this will not only harm Canada’s democracy the the plight of democracy in the world.

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It turns out that Elections Canada is something we should all be very proud of. It is “the pre-eminent example of an elections administration body.” that is use to help emerging democracies set up their electoral institutions. To quote one of the signatories:

“”When a democratic, established democracy in the west like Canada seems to be curtailing its own ability to do that, it sends a very poor message to new countries in the Arab world, in Africa, in Asia, who are attempting to move from authoritarianism to democracy,”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1EaYPXUxDsE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yaKq-9kpQqY

Take Action:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EqpW2Wnjcpg

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UPDATE:

Pierre Poilievre open to changing controversial election measure

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RFT Ep 242 – What’s Your Sign Edition

Posted by Don McLenaghen on February 11, 2014

Download the episode here! 

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Don’s Rant:

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Don’s Rant’s is an extended look at Bill C-23 the Fair Elections Act and how it can destroy fair elections in the future. More to come in a future blog…

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What’s Your Sign – The evolution of astrology

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In the wake of the controversy, in the skeptic community, about MacMillan Space Center event regarding Astrology, we take a quick look at astrology and how it evolved into the real science astronomy.

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Veiled Voting or veiled racist?

Posted by Don McLenaghen on February 23, 2011

Previously I discussed accommodationalism involving both limits on intolerance and tolerance. In researching that post, I discovered a story that has put me in the uncomfortable position of agreeing with our Conservative government – veiled voting ban. A private members bill is making its way through Ottawa that would force those wishing to vote to be visually identified by Elections Canada. Under the current law, voters are not specifically compelled to show their faces. There is no data to suggest that face covering was actually a problem for Elections Canada staff. The agency reported that no one failed to comply with requests to identify themselves during the 2008 vote. Elections Canada has retained the right to ask someone to swear an oath attesting to their eligibility to vote, if they refuse to remove a face covering. If the voter declines the oath, the agency doesn’t let them vote. This law would allow visual confirmation that no voter fraud is being perpetrated.

Quebec Conservative backbencher, Steven Blaney who is bringing forward this private members bill, wouldn’t say his bill is aimed at Muslim women, but said there have been incidents in which voters showed up at the polls wearing ski masks or Halloween masks. I think also this extends to photo ID. There have been calls by religious or cultural fundamentalist that people be able to wear face covering FOR THEIR PHOTO ID, for such things as drivers licences or passports. This is just stupid and makes the idea of visual identification farcical.

Immigration minister Jason Kenney said “I don’t think we should be adopting the French idea of banning (the burqa)… I don’t think we should be regulating what people wear but when a citizen comes to deal with the government, particularly to exercise their right to vote, I think it’s entirely reasonable that we say we need to confirm who you are and a facial identification is a reasonable way of doing that”.

The real test for this law, and perhaps the reason it should not pass is, will it be equally applied to anyone who does not have photo id? Here we see the fine line between appropriate safe guards and racism. The purpose of this law is to ensure faces match photo id, however under current laws, those without photo id (but having an uncovered face) can vote provided they present other id. Conceptually there is no difference between the two. So if we insist that those unwilling to show their face to collaborate photo id are disallowed from voting, we should also insist that those without photo id in the first place be disallowed. Or are we willing to accommodate the forgetful but not the modest?

(Canadian edit)

 

What are your thoughts?

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Accommodationalism

Posted by Don McLenaghen on February 20, 2011

I have been tracking a number of stories in Canada this week relating to accommodation…religious – or if you wish to use a less loaded term cultural – accommodation. At first, I saw these stories as short segments we could use as examples of how dogma, both religious and secular, could take small incidences and blow them out of proportion. However, as I did more research I saw a growing connection between them and that there was a bigger issue being played out.

My first thought, and the one that is raised most often in these debates, is the concept of multiculturalism. I think that is valid issue for discussion and something we will be focusing our skeptic eye on in the near future. However, there was another greater thread being woven by these issues that is the concept of ‘accommodationalism’.

As a Dawkian atheist, I think religion is innately bad for society; however,this can itself be a dogma that has lead others to support people or actions that are harmful to the cause (notable the xenophobic Pat Condell). So, I could not just rule out accommodationalism’ because I think there is a place for it in an open well-functioning socialist society and thus an issue worthy of a greater examination. The stories that inspired this segment were the Sikh kirpan (ceremonial dagger) and the Islamic hijab (head cover) or nijab (face veil). I would have included Mormon Polygamy for more ethnic diversity but we covered this rather extensively in a previous episode although I think it worthy of a re-listen to.

On Feb 9th of this year, the Quebec parliament officially banned the Kirpan from the provincial legislature. This was the culmination of several weeks of controversy over the claimed right of Sikhs to wear the religiously required ceremonial dagger while addressing the legislature. Here is that story.

A group of four Sikhs, representatives of the World Sikh Organization, were scheduled to make a presentation at Quebec’s national assembly on Bill 94. This bill is itself controversial and was being reviewed in an effort to find a reasonable accommodation of the religious and cultural practices of minorities in the Quebec civil society. This delegation of Sikhs were denied entry to the legislature because they refused to remove their kirpans.

According to security services, “This decision was taken by the security services, solely for security reasons”. The guards offered them the option to put the kirpan in a safe place, but the offer was refused and they were denied entry.

Balpreet Singh, a member of the delegation, said “We weren’t allowed to enter because we wear the kirpan, which is a bit ironic because we were here to speak upon the issue of accommodation and we weren’t accommodated”

The Bloc Québécois wasted no time taking up the issue. “It was a well-founded decision [in Quebec] and it is perhaps time that Parliament adopt similar rules”. Conservative MP Navdeep Bains accused the Bloc of seeking to make cheap political gains from the controversy. He said, “I’ve been wearing a kirpan since 2004 and they have never raised this as a cause of concern.”

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously in 2006 that a total ban of the kirpan in a Quebec school violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms because it infringed on religious freedoms. However, the court allowed school boards to impose some restrictions in the name of public safety.

Okay, I have been using the term Kirpan a lot but many…maybe most…don’t know what one is. The kirpan is both a defensive weapon and a symbol. Physically it is an instrument of “ahimsa” or non-violence. The principle of ahimsa is to actively prevent violence, not to simply stand by idly whilst violence is being done. To that end, the kirpan is a tool to be used to prevent violence from being done to a defenseless person when all other means to do so have failed.

Symbolically, the kirpan represents the power of truth to cut through untruth. The Reht Maryada, a Sikh religious text, does not specify the length of the Kirpan or the construction of the various parts of the Kirpan or how and where it is to be worn by the devotee.

So, one of the issues raised by Bill 94 was the push by the Parti Quebecois to regulate Kirpans, which as I mentioned they seem to be accomplishing. Some may see this as a strictly civil rights issue while others a security issue. I think one line made by MNA Louise Beaudoin encapsulated THIS issue. They said “It may be a religious choice, but maybe it’s not a choice that everybody should accept everywhere” and therein lies the rub.

One of the reasons people adopt these religious customs is to show their commitment and SACRIFICE for their beliefs and that is their right; however at what point do their choices begin to infringe on my life. First, being around a dangerous weapon may be a decision they are willing to live with but I fail to understand why it is one that I must also accept? There are limitations placed upon me as to where and how I may carry a gun; why should the specter of religion suddenly allow me special privileges.

Secondly, as mentioned, the construction and placement of the kirpan are not strictly speaking ‘written in stone’, so it is possible that the kirpan be, for example a harmless 3 cm in size or encased in resin…maintaining its symbolic meaning while removing it as a physical threat. Lastly, one aspect of these religious practices is the idea of sacrifice. They have chosen this path and accepted the sacrifices that are to be made…so accept the limitations imposed by your decision and don’t try and change the world so there no longer is any sacrifice in the choice…removing the ‘sacrifice’ part…that somehow defeats the purpose doesn’t. In this case I don’t see that any accommodation should be made.

This leads me into a related story, also focused on Bill 94. The heart of this bill would deny government services to those covering their faces. About a year ago, Naïma Atef Amed filed a complaint with the province’s human rights commission because of her experience at a government-funded language class for new immigrants in Montreal. The school insists that to learn French, the instructor must be able to see the face of the student. When Amed refused to take off her veil, she was kicked out of class.

Now, this is another example of someone who should be willing, at least on the surface, to accept the sacrifices her beliefs have imposed upon her; however in this case I am willing to say that an accommodation is appropriate. This case differs in two key ways; first whether or not she wears a nijab will have no effect on my life. The nijab, at least the ones I have seen, are not sharp weapons; so my previous complaint about safety does not seem to apply. Further, there still is the sacrifice aspect in her compliance because it will (assuming the school was not being vindictive) hamper her ability to learn French if the instructor is unable to ‘see her face’. The teacher will do as good a job as they can but there is no necessity, that I can find, for Amed to be forced to remove her nijab. Also, I do not think that wearing a piece of clothing, a catholic habit, the hijab or even a hockey mask, should preclude one from accessing normal civil services. Bill 94 states that any civil service can be denied to anyone who refused to remove their veil; this is secularist (or maybe just xenophobic) dogma. In this case, I think Bill 94 is wrong and that accommodation is appropriate.

That said, there are limits even in this class of complaint. I have only told you part of Amed’s story. She was not actually expelled JUST because she refused to show her face…the school could live with that. However, she insisted that she sit at the back of the room so as to avoid the possible ‘gaze’ of 3 men also in the class. She did at one point agree to lift her veil in private with a female instructor but backed out on this compromise when no assurance could be made that a female instructor would be available for future lessons. She refused to partake in ‘round table’ exercises because she could not tolerate any of the men in her class see her eyes. This attempt to accommodate Amed continued for three months until the disruption in the class to the other students forced the instructor to remove Amed. I think at this point, Amed has failed to understand that accommodation is a two way street.

Having the complete story perhaps we can understand why the decision to expel the niqab-wearing woman was widely supported in Quebec. This includes a few noteworthy people.

Constitutional lawyer Julius Grey, who defended the right of inmates to smoke in prison and the right of Sikh students to wear ceremonial daggers in class said “Accommodation should not lead to separation”.

Yolande Geadah, an Egyptian-born writer, said: “There is no possible compromise with people with such inflexible attitudes.”

Raheel Raza, a Pakistani-born Muslim women’s rights activist, said: “When we come to Canada, we’re not coming to the Islamic Republic of Canada.”

So, to wrap up this thought. We (as most Canadians and most atheist) do not believe cultural groups should be discriminated against but what if the cultural trait that is the cause/object of the discrimination is a religious one? As secularist, we do not think religion should be protected…that i should be treated like any other social “harm” (that is if we regulate guns, we should not treat ‘religious guns’ differently).

Further, as a Dawkian Atheist, I think every effort should be made to cure society of religion…but what happens when those efforts are co-opted by racist (such as Draw Mohamed day?). I think I remain rationally committed to my form of anti-spiritualism while denying support for hate groups provided I use the scientific method guard against that new form of secular dogma. I will discuss this more in an upcoming blog about a new bill being debated requiring visual confirmation of voters.

What are your thoughts?

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