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Tuesday, 28 April 2015

How The Wildrose Party Won My Vote

Author Matt N.
Similar Topic: How the Wildrose Lost My Vote by Cole D. 

           With the Alberta 2015 Provincial election less than two weeks away, now is the time to understand firmly what party will have your vote.  I have read through the different party platforms, as I was unsure of whose name I would be checking off on my ballot this year, and have given my vote plenty of thought. The Wildrose Party, led by Brian Jean, has my vote, and here is why.

            I am a firm believer in living debt free. If you cannot afford something, then don’t buy it. I understand that there are certain situations where debt is almost required, but not to the extent that we have let our politicians get away with for far too long. This growing attitude of pay it off later is the same mindset that put Alberta as the highest average household debt at  $124,838 in 2014. I’m not innocent either, as I am currently paying off student loans.  The difference being is that I have made cutbacks to my life style, and currently work two jobs as well as operate a business, to ensure that I am debt free within the next 18 months. I would rather not have both the jobs, but I understand that short term sacrifices for long term gain is a key to success. As far as I have seen in the various party platforms, the Wildrose Party is the only party that does not plan to borrow their way out of debt.

            One of the first parties I looked into was the Alberta Party (AP). My curiosity was peaked, because I hadn’t really heard of them, and did not know much about their policies. In their platform, one of the first issues they bring up is protecting frontline workers, and balancing the budget over six years.  They plan on doing this by installing a progressive tax system, which will be fairer to the average Albertan family. I take issue with the word fair, and believe that too often it is used as a way to tip the scales toward which ever demographic has the most voters. The other main point of the AP budget is the increase of corporate tax by 1%. While this sounds nice on paper, not enough people see the potential ripple effect that even this small amount could have. Are we all really na├»ve enough to believe that large corporations won’t increase the cost of their goods in order to maintain their profit margin? For all that we know they could increase their profits, and then blame it on higher tax rates and added expenses.

            If there was one key point in the AP platform that lost my vote, it is their approach to funding all of the budget reversals and social programs. It is the Alberta Parties view that we should use Alberta’s credit, while we have good rates, and borrow the money needed. We should then commit to paying those loans back in a reasonable time, and run the province like a house with a mortgage. Considering that the root words of mortgage translate to death pledge, I am definitely not on board with this plan, and believe that in a province as rich as Alberta, a debt load does not makes sense. It seems that we have forgotten how to sacrifice for what we want, and assume we can take everything and let someone else pick up the tab.

            The next platform was the NDP, led by Rachel Notley. This platform went straight to the masses, and opens with a promise to raise minimum wage to $15/hour by 2018. While this has every barista and dishwasher jumping for joy, an increase such as this most likely would hit small businesses hard. Most of them would not be able to afford this, and would have to raise prices or cut hours. What is needed is a staggered minimum wage system, where employees who are under 18 and/or living at home can be paid less than a “Livable Wage”, which would be the minimum you could pay an independent adult.  The NDP also wants to reverse the Progressive Conservatives (PC) plan to reinstate healthcare levies, and put a heavier tax load on the top 10% of taxpayers because once again, that is what’s fair. Clearly I don’t understand the word fair, because anything that takes from ten percent to ease up on the other ninety percent doesn’t sounds very fair, not matter what their financial standing. Fair, in my opinion, means that whatever you are talking about can be put in the exact opposite position without any problems. Certainly high-income earners can pay more, and maybe they should; but stop calling it fair. We could say it is unfair and they have to live with it, and those with incomes breaching seven digits probably won’t loose much sleep.

            A subtle detail of the NDP platform that I noticed is the amounts of women’s programs that want to enact. They want to create a Women's Ministry, widen the women's shelters program, and help support different organizations working to end violence against women; they likewise support a National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. I agree that something has to be done about domestic violence, as far too many people have become accustomed to this form of treatment during some point of their lives. I do not believe, however, that we should focus solely on one gender over the other. While it is true that women encounter spousal abuse more often, it is only by 1%(Link to study provided below); and a focus on ending abuse in its entirety is needed.

            And finally, the Wildrose Party (WRP). The attention grabber in this campaign platform is no increase to taxes, while balancing the budget by 2017.  This platform has the shortest timeline to debt elimination, and for good reason. The majority of increase being put toward repayment is due to cuts being made. Eliminating corporation grants, reducing government travel and advertising (by 50%) and renegotiation of equalization payments are the cuts that are easiest to agree with, as no ones jobs are directly affected. The renegotiation of equalization payments stands out to me, as it follows a basic principle of financial wisdom. If you want to fill a bucket with water, plug the holes first. Other holes that the WRP plans to plug are a reduction of the number of ministers, a roll back of cabinet and MLA raises, and a reduction of Government of Alberta managers by 33%(over 3 years). Also on the Klein-era chopping block are AHS (Alberta Health Services) managers and consultants, being reduced by 50% over the course of this budget. It truly is unfortunate that anyone should loose his or her job, but this has become a reality no matter who wins the election. The entirety of cut backs (not all listed) will create a $48 million surplus in 2017, compared to the current PC budget that would have us $1.047 billion in debt. Personally, this gives me about a billion reasons to support this budget.

            The most important thing that I want to emphasize is that whether you agree or disagree with me please go vote. As I have said before, I would rather see a party I didn’t vote for win with a 90% voter turn out than an election with a voter turn out below 75%.  Just remember to vote for what is in the best interest of the province, not yourself. In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.”


Household Debt Alberta 2014

Alberta Party Platform


NDP Platform

Domestic Abuse

Wildrose Platform

Benjamin Franklin Quote

Monday, 27 April 2015

One Win for Decency: What Saskatchewan Knows

A furor is being made of the recent legislation in Saskatchewan re-banning stripping in licensed establishments; stripping, in Saskatchewan, in case you have not heard will only be legal for charity purposes and under a temporary and highly restrictive licence. People across the internet are expressing outrage at the supposedly puritanical policy flip-flop by Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall. The update of Saskatchewan's liquor law is a renewed version of a previous law in effect until January 2014.Before 2014 Saskatchewan law stated that liquor could not be served in any establishment that had titillating entertainment and without the liquor as a means to finance such an establishment, and the generous tips, the strip clubs were not a viable business enterprise, and who is surprised by that? I know I would not want to indulge in a glass of milk or perhaps a root beer poured by a half-naked stranger.

 However, this brings up a larger question and that is why Brad Wall's government turned its back on the introduction to stripping in bars. If there is no limit to the viability of the activities of consenting adults that why has the law returned to the books? Why is it that the furious public, many of them from outside of the province, cannot seem to understand the nature of the 'illiberal law' against stripping?
 Most of those who are protesting the re-criminalization of stripping in bars are surprisingly not progressives, but rather libertarian free market fundamentalists who see no barrier between economic and social transactions.

The argument primarily, focuses on the usual notion of consenting adults and the only barometric to what constitutes appropriate conduct in a free society. The apologists in this case believe that the all moral conduct is relative and that all exchanges between individuals occur in private or, are a private matter, but by becoming, complicit in the exchange of sexual services whatever the form we degrade society. The premier and his government understand this. They know that that stripping is no different that pornography, less explicit is the act perhaps, but still a form of pornography. The equivalency is evident in the way in which women and men are exposed in order to generate a primitive dopamine response in the viewer who then provides monetary reciprocation. Pornography is prostitution through third party; sex is exchanged for money via third party, who views such material. Likewise, the sexual exchange occurs in the strip club between consumer and performer. The performer however is damaged through the exposure. Stripping undoubtedly opens doors to video pornography by deconstructing the barrier of shame that exists to prevent the individual from indulging, or performing in such activities.
 In addition, similarly to the pornographic material viewed by so many men stripping is exploitative to the consumer who finds themselves both degraded in a spiritual sense and fiduciary sense. Unremarked is the fact that many patrons of the stripping establishment are the caretaker of the family finances. The coolridge effect acts on these individuals, bypasses their reasoned faculties, and induces them to invest beyond what the rational mind would in order to satiate the brains demand for sexual variety. 
 However, it is not just the consumer who finds himself or herself damaged by consumption of these services. The performer is also damaged through the performance of dehumanizing and objectifying activities. Although the dancer may attest to the empowerment, that she feels during working hours this is often a shallow temporary validation or not representative of other women in her profession. The quote worthy sex workers who professor their love of the job are a tiny minority: the squeaky wheel gets the grease however.
 What they understand in Saskatchewan is that some exchanges are just not necessary. The business of trading in human bodies is one of them. Though individuals may find themselves, empowered, the costs to society for portraying individuals in an animalistic manner are high. The prohibition of strip bars is to be lauded in that it is a symbolic stand against the further sexualisation of our society that has cost us so highly in human misery.
Some critics hate the prohibition of such establishments because they few it as an infringement on the charter rights of performers. They insist that the law curtails the dancers' right to self-expression, but this is not the case. The charter protects freedom of expression, but why should we classify the strip tease as art? I am not aesthetic philosopher, but it seems to me that these performers are not on stage dancing simply for the sake of it. The strippers are performing because they need to make money and owners need to profit. Often writers, photographers, singers, and painters do so simply because they can. However, how often do you hear of someone who gathers a basement audience and puts on a pro-bono pole dancing party? They do not. An audience does not validate true artists, though they may prefer one, they practice a craft because of greater spiritual rewards exotic dancers do not.
 Again, would the dancers do it on their own? For no money? If not then what are they expressing aside from avarice?
Stripping has been properly relegated to the sphere of charitable causes and away from the public sphere in Saskatchewan. This is because Saskatchewan, despite being a province, still has a semblance, like New Brunswick, of a small town nature. A culture respectful of small-localized communities; in Saskatchewan small town mentality dominates. Respectability remains important in Saskatchewan, not everyone may know your name, but even in Regina and Saskatoon, someone might. Saskatchewan does well to adhere to its rural vision, even its CCF Christian heritage, a dose of moralism is a great thing for a country, and this is a victory for Saskatchewan.

Lastly, Brad Wall is to be commended. He is doing the right thing, and unlike most politicians has the courage to say that he was wrong once before. 

Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons:

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Beaver Bites, Bear Fights: Harper and Russia

Stephen Harper has gone from grandstanding to recklessness in Ukraine. The man is acting the fool in his decision to place Canadian's at risk over Ukraine. Canada cannot win in the P.R battle started by Stephen Harper, but at this point, I am not sure Stephen Harper cares. The Ukraine fiasco may actually be a moral vision he believes in: terrifying.

It was one thing for our prime minister to make a laughing stock of himself as he played big boy and, "shirt fronted" Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit in Australia. It is another thing entirely to send two hundred military advisors to train the ad hoc assembly of militants Ukraine has collected to fight the pro-Russian insurgency in the Donbass region.

Even if we take the word of our prime minister seriously and presume that the soldiers will only be training armed forces, and police, not the Neo-Nazi militants of the Azov Battalion, Right Sector or other Svoboda sympathizers (already being integrated into Ukrainian regular force units) we will still be jeopardizing Canadian good will in the eyes of the world. Our prime minister is entangling our armed forces in a struggle in which Canada has zero interest.

The only interested party in the Ukraine Crisis is our prime minster himself who sees an opportunity to both appease his masters in NATO and by extension the United States while he gathers steam for the upcoming election.  With approximately 1.2 Million Canadians of Ukrainian descent, many presumably residing in conservative party dominated rural constituencies, Stephen Harper is clinging to the opportunity to create goodwill in the Ukrainian Canadian community and it is working: at the expense of electoral support among other opposition groups and likely foreign policy realists among his own party colleagues. But worst of all he is putting our veterans in jeopardy, veterans who have already faced punitive service cuts under the Harper regime, even after they took part in his nation building exercise in Afghanistan.

Furthermore, Stephen Harper does not seem to be able to understand the difference between existential threats of a genocidal and terrifying nature and a local border skirmish rapidly escalating at the behest of a western backed junta. Stephen Harper's call for interventions in Iraq are a startling alternative to his Ukraine folly. In Iraq Saddam Hussein had crushed the Kurds under his rule, invaded both Kuwait and Iran, and enacted massive pogroms against the Marsh Arabs and other Sunnis within Iraq. Saddam was a genocidal fiend who terrorized the people of his country, and there was a case to be made in favour of intervention and nation building after the gas attacks on the Kurds. Most cry that WMDs were never in Iraq, but they take a very narrow definition of what constitutes a WMD—and at their own shame. I am no pacifist. I believe there is a place for multilateral action in the Congo, Palestine, Darfur, and Iraq just to name a handful, but this Ukrainian entanglement is a terrible idea. Stephen Harper cannot seem to see a difference between a genocidal millenarian evil in ISIS and his Ukrainian travesty where no matter what the western nations do they will only succeed in compounding the problem.

Stephen Harper for all his endorsements of national self-determination cannot seem to put the wishes of the Ukrainian people in the Crimea and Donbass regions above international law: international law itself being an oxymoron. But this does show just how in the foreign policy sphere our prime minster manipulates whatever he needs to in order to ensure that his vision can be endorsed by whatever trivial metric he chooses.

Ukraine itself is a country of debatable paternity and realism. Ukraine first truly came into existence at the end of the First World War as part of the draconian Brest-Litovsk treaty of 1918. Before 1918, Ukraine had been made up of parts of the Austrian, Lithuanian, Polish, Russian, and Ottoman Empires. As much as our leaders love to draw neat lines across the world to divide it in perpetuity, the world is not made up of neat lines and enclaves exist everywhere. We cannot have both the right to self-determination and the hack and slash borders drawn at the close of the Great War. Ukraine in many ways is just another Africa, Palestine, Czechoslovakia, and former Yugoslavia not in precise terms, but rather in its amalgamation of two peoples who now have differing interpretations of sovereignty. It is no surprise that the east of the country wishes to pull away from Ukraine, they are Russians, and likewise the west has long been tied closely to the more western portions of Europe. We deny these differences at our own folly. The Euromaidan revolution was a revolution in Kiev; it was not a revolution countrywide. This is something again unrecognized by our prime minister.

Stephen Harper condemned the referendum in Ukraine. It is to his shame that independent PEW and Gallup polls have found widespread support in the peninsula for President Putin and Russia. Why need he press further? The swifter defeat falls upon the Kiev government the sooner the process of rebuilding the bankrupt and backward country can begin.

It cannot just be a moral crusade and a lack of realism, which drives our prime minister. Rather it must also be the fact that he envisions himself as some sort of cold warrior in an era when the cold war is long dead. He wishes to take up the role he wished Canada had played in the cold war—that of the major player in NATO—I can think of no other childish reason our prime minister would pit himself against such an adversary as Russia. Russia has immense stockpiles of nuclear weapons, and whether or not its GDP is comparable to China, the USA, or many other smaller nations, which it isn't—is irrelevant. Ever since Peter the Great pushed the Russian frontier into Europe the Russians have viewed themselves as a super power, and super powers act on their own terms to protect their interests, often legitimately, often not. However, super powers are never ones to kowtow to their lessers.  Nevertheless, to engage Russia with any presumption of equality Stephen Harper makes a fool out of Canadians. Our tiny military force, some 51,000 Active personal in contrast to Russia's 2.5Mil ignoring the massive disparity in the rest of the capabilities, would be funny if it weren't for the fact that our prime ministers eagerly presumes he has NATO backing, and therefore the privilege of talking big. When in fact Vladimir Putin almost certainly finds it laughable that we presume to speak so loudly for so many others.

Vladimir Putin wins because he knows NATO has a false consensus and there is very little likelihood that the NATO alliance would actually act to intervene for the sake of a small Baltic nation or Ukraine. This is because unlike the Soviet Union the modern Russia does not threaten the world it only seeks to act in its interest. Something that the west needs to come to terms with as the global great power polarity shifts toward, Russia, India, and China.

Russia has been bullied by the west; the expansion of NATO seemed almost punitive as the former republics of the Soviet Union swallowed up despite the implicit guarantees of Bush Senior. So the west knew full well what it was doing as it pushed past Putin's red lines in Serbia, and now Ukraine... and our Prime Minister has been back channeling since the crisis began. Stephen Harper has done a great deal of good for Canada, but like his free trade his foreign policy has been disastrous. Again, he is playing political games he cannot win, against an adversary he need not have. Stephen Harper like his counterpart David Cameron, and to a lesser extent Barack Obama accept a multi-polar world on paper, but do not in action. Little do they know that for all their combined praise of international norms, they only make the actions of the international institutions more difficult  by exiling and provoking Russia, but Russia is still weak, unlike China so Harper had better bite the bear while he can.

Harper, "actions we saw before the second world war." 

Stephen Harper: "Get out of Ukraine."

Follow up Gallup and Pew polls have found support for the integration of Crimea into Russia

200 Training staff to Ukraine

Ukrainian Canadians

Volunteer Battalions being integrated

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Gun Culture: From Tools to Toys

Author: Matt N.

To own or not to own is really the question. The topic of firearms and gun control has to be one of the most hotly debated, sometimes fierce discussions in modern politics. Quite ironic when you consider the content of what is being discussed. Both sides of the issue have their extremes, from civilians better equipped than a small military, to those who would make slingshot licenses mandatory: if they could. As is the case in most issues that arise, some sort of balance needs to be found. Both sides will have to compromise, but who should give up ground?
One of the most substantial factors to gun related issues is culture. There are many places in the world that guns are strictly controlled and others that you would think they were party favors, given away at social gatherings. Countries like Australia and Japan have very strict gun laws, whereas the United States and Canada are more lenient. Now don’t believe that I am saying that the US and Canada have similar guns laws (trust me, we don’t) but considering that the average citizen can obtain access to firearms from shotguns to handguns, I consider that lenient. In Canadian culture, it is not unusual to know at least one person who has several firearms. I can’t speak for Americans, but I imagine it is the same case there. Difference being is that in Canada, those firearms are more hunting focused, whereas south of the border, it ranges more from hunting to defense. Personally, I prefer to have a variety of guns for a variety of purposes. A small rifle (.22) for grouse or vermin, a larger one (30-6) for big game, and a shotgun or two (12 and/or 10 gauge) for waterfowl, trap shooting or possible animal defense. Any guns after these are great, but I don’t feel that I need anymore. If I saw one I liked and had the money sure I would buy more, but these would be add-ons (Like a guitars players 4th, 5th and 6th guitar). In America though, more people put focus on  defensive guns than in Canada.
Canada, due it its more restrictive laws, classifies guns as either restricted or prohibited.  firearms in the US. This is largely in part because of the Second Amendment, which states their right to bare arms. I would love to be allowed to have a side arm on my hip while hunting, but unfortunately that is quite illegal here in the great white north. Handguns (Which fall under Restricted firearms) are only allowed to be worn with a special license, which is incredibly difficult to obtain outside of the military and police. In a general sense, gun ownership is seen more as part of being an American than it is being a Canadian.
 I treat my guns as I believe guns should be treated. All of my firearms have lockable cases, trigger locks and are never left around the house. They do not get lent out to buddies or put away dirty, and definitely are not left loaded. I follow the rules when it comes to firearms, but I know plenty who don’t. More often than not it is the ones who do not follow the rules whose weapons are the central focus when an accident or tragedy takes place. This gives all gun owners a bad image and suddenly the media is blaming the gun itself instead of the person behind it. By that logic, Louisville Slugger should hold home run titles, not Barry Bonds. We refuse to take responsibility for ourselves and shift the blame to the object and not the user.
If we are to preserve our right of gun ownership, education on the subject must be improved. I believe that a knowledge on proper gun safety and maintenance at a younger age helps to develop more responsible gun owning adults. Children who were raised in a home where the gun was a tool that was dangerous if misused continue to have that attitude as they grow older and can obtain their own. This attitude gets past on, and what you have is traditions which bond the family bonding traditions like someone’s first successful hunt. The hunt itself teaches quite a lot to the people involved. Patience, remaining calm in all kinds of situations and a respect for what you are hunting develop, as you become a regular hunter.
Gun culture is at a point of substantial change. Washington Post writer Christopher Ingraham’s article on the change in gun ownership  points out that even though gun manufacturing is up, the amount of people holding them is down. A pattern where higher income families are more likely to own firearms has emerged, and builds on to the gap between the income classes as this frequency becomes more relevant. Other sources however, state that the findings are misleading, as research was done with door-to-door polling, and plenty of people wouldn’t feel comfortable telling a stranger at their door how many guns they have. A study performed by Gallup has support for firearms up, while ownership has remained fairly the same over the past handful of years. 
 So no matter whose research you find to be more accurate, there is one thing that does not change between the two of them, and that is that people own guns. The reasons for their ownership can largely vary, from the rancher who needs to shoot predators, to the homeowner who wants to defend his family. Firearms can be part of a healthy, well functioning home if treated properly; comprehensive work is needed to create stability in the home, rather than scapegoating an inanimate object. 

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Why I may vote PC again, or how Wildrose lost my vote.

Cole D. 
More on the 2015 Alberta election see also Elections: Your Vote Matters

Wildrose 2016, I was certain they had my vote, but that changed. Now with the election coming up on May 2nd and after spending a short period volunteering on behalf of a local candidate I can safely say that there is no certainty in my vote for the Wildrose Party this cycle.
Alberta is unique, in that its two leading parties are 'conservative,' what kind of scrutiny may contradict this is not under discussion at this time. However, this duality in conservative parties makes for a great deal of fluidity in voter preference.

 I found myself adamantly in support of the down and out Wildrose Party who had just experienced a defection of nine MLA's to the Progressive Conservatives, a likely bait and switch, which crippled the opposition.
 During a further conversation with a local candidate, it was acknowledged that Social Conservatives in the Wildrose Party were presumed, not unjustifiably, to have lost the party the 2012 Alberta election. Fear mongering on behalf of the Redford campaign led to a windfall of votes by public sector workers and youth distressed by the proposition of a social conservative party in power. The, 'I never thought I would vote PC,' slander campaigns  and the, 'not your parents conservative party' slogans were emblematic of the skill in which the PC party manipulated strategic voting to their advantage.
Sure a few comments, dug from Alan Hunsperger's website years previous indicted the party, but I admired Danielle Smith's willingness to stand up for the religious freedom of her candidate and statements made in the capacity of religious leadership. I do not condone the remarks, but I understand the unwillingness to condemn them; however, Albertans' didn't the Wildrose, won 18 seats, but barely made a dent in Calgary or Edmonton.   

Wildrose withdrew from any open social conservatism in its caucus and in turn, Albertans are left with little to distinguish the two conservative parties contending for leadership. What this meant for me was that I was now watching a presumed race to the bottom as between the two parties. I expected an austerity budget from the PC party under Jim Prentice, and likewise an austerity response from the Wildrose party, but instead Jim Prentice came out with a relatively logical and measured response to increasing revenues independent of the now minimal price of oil. As a Red Tory I was happy, but I do not trust Prentice.
This leaves me with a libertarian party divorced from social concerns, or even the debate of them; lest they lose contention in the leadership race, and a Red Tory administration, which is mired in corruption and excess, but at least has generally speaking, maintained some sort of mandate and ability to discuss social concerns.
This leaves me concerned about the Wildrose Party going forward. Virtually the entire party platform consists of maintaining the flat tax and reversing the new budgetary measures introduced by the PC party. A winning strategy if you want to be elected in rural Alberta and the boardroom, but one that leaves me deeply skeptical about whether or not your party can balance the budget. The fact that no alternative revenue sources are being investigated by the Wildrose leadership is concerning and shows an idealistic streak strongly divorced from reality. Even a cursory mention to of a sales tax and incentives for value added industries in Alberta would go a long way to ensuring my support, but it will not happen.
This leaves myself as a voter deeply disappointed once again. Why? Because the Wildrose party, out of fear, is not playing hardball politics anymore; they are not brave; they are playing it safe. Savvy, sure, but they have lost their edge and in turn, many skeptics as well.

The Descriptive Rep Fallacy: Womens' place in political life.

Author: Cole Dutton

As women are becoming more widely represented in professional fields such as business and finance 38% in 1987 to 51% in 2009, doctors, dentists and other health fields excluding nursing 43% in 1987 to 55% in 2009, and in the academy with 61% of Canadian university graduates in 2007 being women. People are looking toward politics and questioning why little change has occurred. Across the globe, women have accounted for 1.4% of heads of state since 1900, a seemingly alarming statistic. Women, when not the daughter, sister, or spouse to a prior ruler only made up .78% of rulers since 1900. In examining Canada we can hope to get an idea of both the efficacy of gender quota's and an understanding of whether or not gender quotas are needed to ensure democracy effectively represents the interests of the women and the public as a whole. Gender quotas are neither necessary, nor represent the best interests of women.

Canada is a highly developed country and a multicultural and multi-ethnic society with a large immigrant population. Most of Canada's population is of European descent and immigrated to the country under the national policy 1885-1905. Canada is officially bilingual and the majority of the Canadian population speaks either English or French as a first language. However, not multi-ethnic at the turn of the century Canada nevertheless had to deal with a disproportionately large number of non-Anglo and non-francophone immigrants.

Canada has experienced moderate gains in the representation of women in their representative houses; in Canada Women hold 25% of seats in the Commons and 38% in the Senate. Canada has had one female Prime Minister: Kim Campbell. Campbell spent just a little longer than 5 months in office.

Those who work to advocate for gender parity in the Canadian House of Commons do so using a number of specious arguments to agitate for gender quota's as a means to achieve descriptive representation. They suggest that women are experiencing hidden impediments to their political advancement, and women's lack of representation in the legislature undermines, "women's issues" and sets a poor example for aspirant women who wish to achieve political successes of their own. Groups currently argue that women need minimum representation in parliament in order to ensure their voices are not stifled and they feel no pressure to vote along masculine lines. A minimum representation of 30% in the legislature is usually suggested in order make a substantive women's bloc. Yet, Canadians, have nearly reached that level of representation without any top down manipulation of our democratic institutions.

Upon closer examination, it is clear that the claims of the feminist lobby raise further questions. Firstly, it does not ask what women themselves want. Political philosopher Larry Arnhart believes, "that we can assess the moral value of a society by judging the extent in which it satisfies our natural desires and proclivities." This statement explains why so few women engage in politics: they do not want to do so. The answer lies largely in motherhood; a political career is intense. Motherhood remains the single greatest difference between men and women; economist Thomas Sowell notes women tend to avoid intensive careers, and this leads to economic complications," [Maternal desires are] especially important when it comes to high levels of achievement in the most demanding professions," politics being one. Sowell notes women consistently choose jobs with less demanding hours, and when polled about whether or not they desire a high-powered career, women regularly say no. Yet, if we control for marriage, children, and education the difference between women and men in nearly all professional fields disappears entirely.

Proponents of gender quotas also fail to note that introducing mandatory quotas would create a number of secondary problems. Relying on faulty assumptions gender equity advocates suggest that women's issues need 30-50% stake in the commons to make the legislative agenda. However, this creates the assumption that women share a common set of desires and principles. As Carol Bacci states women share, "common interests, based on historical disadvantage." Is this true? Pamela Paxton inadvertently notes women's issues are a questionable concept, "Many studies of male and female legislators have demonstrated that women tend toward the political left . . . . But much of the difference between men and women disappears if the political party is taken into account." Margret Thatcher would agree.

When we examine the claims made by advocates of gender quotas, we realize that women have not failed to enter politics due to discrimination, but rather because it is unsuitable to their desires and goals. Further, if we introduce mandatory quotas we complicate Canadian democracy; we end up taking power from the voters who wish to choose their representative and we undermine the concept of equality of opportunity. Currently in Canada, both the Liberal Party of Canada and the New Democratic Party have introduced soft (non-sanctioned) party quotas to ensure some degree of representation in the parties, and in 2005, the two parties made up 50% of the Commons and had a combined 21% female representation. In 2015, women make up 25% of the Canadian parliament. Women have made great strides in political representation and living standards and this is without dictation from above. Party quotas serve as a means to get women involved in the political process, yet keep parties free to act independently and voters free to choose. Party quotas are the only reasonable way forward, implemented independently by parties, but in the end greater political participation is open to women if they choose to seize the opportunity, and many are, on their own terms.

Works Cited
Arnhart, Larry. Darwinian Conservatism. Exeter UK: Imprint Academic, 2005.
Bachetta, Paola and Margret Power ed. Right Wing Women: From Conservatives to Extremists Around the World. New York: Routledge, 2002.
CIA World Factbook. "Canada People and Society,"
Dahlerup, Drude ed. Women, Quotas and Politics. New York: Routledge, 2006.  
De Brou, Dave and Bill Waiser ed. Documenting Canada: A History of Modern Canada in Documents. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada: Fifth House Publishers, 1992.
Inter-Parliamentary Union. "Women in National Parliaments,"
Ludwig, Arnold M. King of the Mountain: The Nature of Political Leadership. Lexington Kentucky, USA: University Press of Kentucky, 2003.
Paxton Emily, and Melanie M. Hughes. Women Politics, and Power: A Global Perspective.  Thousand Oaks California, USA: Pine Forge Press, 2007.
Roberts, J.M and Odd Arne Westad. The Penguin History of the World Sixth Edition. London: Penguin Book  Limited 2013.
Sowell, Thomas. Economic Facts and Fallacies. New York: Basic Books, Perseus Book Group, 2011.
Statistics Canada. "Trends in University Graduation, 1992 to 2007,"
Statistics Canada. "Women in Canada at a Glance Statistical Highlights,"
Valian, Virginia. Why so Slow: The Advancement of Women. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999.

Elections: Your Vote Matters

Author: Matt N. 

When I heard Premier Jim Prentice was calling an election this May, I was excited that conversations of substance on topics that actually matter would begin to take place at work, and was curious to listen to the political opinions of my coworkers. To my surprise, I was the only person who even knew that an election was to take place in under 2 months.

My first assumption was maybe I just happened to look at various news-feeds at the right time, and word had not spread as fast as I thought. In today's digital age, that was a distinct possibility. This turned out to be true in some cases; however, there was a more common mindset among many people my own age: they truly do not care. It was baffling to me how many people in my age range (20-25) believe that their vote doesn't make a difference. One individual had said that they don't vote because they don't believe in our government, and none of them should get their vote. The mindset that our votes are a type of payment towards politicians needs to stop. Yes, it is true that our votes do put politicians into positions of power, but our votes also decide who is at the helm of government.

The last provincial election is proof enough of this fact. The Wildrose Party was the first legitimate threat to the long (44 Year) reign of the Progressive Conservative Party (PC) in Alberta. The traction they were gaining with their grassroots approach to organizing appealed to many, in particular those who believe in Social-Conservatism and had enough of the entitle attitude of the PC Party. The closer election day became, the more the PC party campaign shifted from, "vote for us!" attitude to a, "at least we're not THOSE guys." I remember hearing from people who would regularly vote for the liberal or New Democratic Party (NDP) saying that they were voting PC out of fear of a Wildrose Government. What happened? The PC won a majority, and those people went back to saying how much they hated the progressive conservative party.

To credit the Wildrose, they had become an effective official opposition, quite often being very vocal about misdeeds by various MLA's, and helping to bring light to wasteful government spending, primarily targeting Alison Redford. The Government fleet of planes being one example. What happened next was in my opinion, one of the most undemocratic events to take place in Alberta Politics. Danielle Smith, the leader of the Wildrose Party, Crossed the floor to join the PC party and brought eight other MLA's with her. The absolute gut-wrenching feeling I had reading this almost made me wish to live in a different province.

Why do I even vote if they can just switch parties? Is it possible for an individual to be so spineless in their beliefs that jumping on to a ship they have been trying to sink seems like a good idea? All of those people who voted for the sole purpose of keeping Wildrose members out of power now feel betrayed by our system completely, and I don't blame them. I don't believe politicians realize the severity of their actions, and the effect it has upon the public.

The fact is that new, eligible voters are not voting as much because they don't feel like anybody is listening. Ironically, if every person who believes his or her vote doesn't count voted. It would make a difference. At first, it may not be a sizable one. A few wins here and there, maybe not even that. Maybe just a few close races. The key here is that sometimes, any change is welcome change. Our generation seems to fail in understanding that by not voting, you are still voting. Voter turnout is low among younger demographics (under 30) than it is in the older bracket (over 30). What this means is that the older generations are receiving greater say in our daily lives, as well as our futures. Some will say that whoever is in power doesn't affect them, and then complain that the price of alcohol and tobacco went up, or that corporations are contributing enough tax dollars. These things didn't just magically happen. If you don't agree with it then accept responsibility for your surroundings and work to change it for the better. The reality is that a government is the reflection of the voters' mindset. If you don't approve of the current government and you don't vote doesn't mean that their supports will do the same.

I remember turning 18 and being filled with a sense of freedom, because now I was allowed to participate in so many new things. Being allowed to buy liquor, tobacco, and going places you weren't allowed to before was exciting! Finally, you decide to move out, and not being under someone else's roof is the next rush of freedom that nearly knocks you off your feet. You don't notice for a while that you are still under someone's roof, it just because less obvious and a whole lot bigger. Instead of the house rules of parents, you are now playing by the house rules of the government, with one key difference: if you choose to you can have a say in the makeup of the rules. Growing up, if you could be part of the decision making process when it came to what chores you had to do, your bedtime, and allowance, would you ever not want to have a say?

Politics has become a challenge of who can get people to the ballot, and the Progressive Conservative Party (and the Federal Conservative Party) have always better mobilized supporters, not had more supporters in total. The conservative party has ensured a majority for nearly two generations of voters. The year they gained power in Alberta Americans were protesting the Vietnam War, Jim Morrison was found dead in France and DB Cooper had pulled off the only unsolved Skyjacking in US history. That was 1971. Therefore, I strongly encourage everyone, regardless of affiliation to go out and vote this May. The government needs a shake up, and it has been too long since the bad fruit fell from the tree.

Image of Danielle Smith and Jim Prentice Coutresy By Dave Cournoyer (Flickr) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Monday, 13 April 2015

The Conservative Reading List Part 1

This article was original published as a standalone, however it will now be expanded to include a number of additional pages, and they will be expanded as time goes on so that I can provided a diverse and satisfactory reading list to aid the individual in developing and understanding their own conservative disposition. 

1. Darwinian Conservatism by Larry Arnhart

 A fantastic book I found at the university library. Arnhart makes the case for a conservatism based on the immutable truths of biological human nature. He establishes firm criteria in which we can evaluate the desirability and justice of a society. The book is short and can easily be read in a day. Darwinian Conservatism affirmed my conservative temperament in relation to my lack of religious faith, and helped me in understanding that a secular right is possible without contradictions. Some may disagree, but I doubt it after reading this phenomenal book.

2. The Rage against God by Peter Hitchens

I admit some bias in this recommendation. As a public figure I admire Hitchens vitriol and outspoken nature. He refuses to let serious conservative issues die in public discourse, and he was my first introduction into so called Paleo-Conservatism. Rage Against God was as interesting in Form as in substance. The book was written as polemic against his late brother, and world-renowned liberal, socialist, and atheist thinker Christopher Hitchens. Hitchens constructed the book as a partial historical analysis, a short biography, and an polemic against his brother. Each segment is unique in focus, but forms an easy to read whole which paints a picture of how a young man can find his way back into faith.

3. The Road to Serfdom by Friedrich Hayek

Austrian Economist Friedrich Hayek published the Road to Serfdom in the pivotal year of 1944.  The book changed the way I thought about government intervention and planning on a visceral level. Though not technically a conservative tract it still merits reading. Hayek does much to make connections between National Socialism in Germany and Marxism-Leninism in the Soviet Union. Finally, he discusses how and why democracy and the utmost liberalization and localization are paramount if a nation is to prevent the devolution of the modern welfare state and Keynesian economy into a draconian statist system. A must read.

4. Conservatism an Anthology from David Hume to Present by Jerry Z. Muller

This book is hard to find but phenomenal. It is a compendium of political writings from numerous sources, obviously David Hume to Present, but also includes Burke, Kristol, Maistre, Choate, Churchill, Madison and dozens of others. What sets this anthology apart is the fact that it is neatly divide by topic and the footnoting is phenomenal. Each page has thorough discourse precisely where it is needed, and no arguments seem anachronistic, everything is timeless. Muller has written excellent introductory essays for each work, which always contextualize and ensure that you completely understand the background to any of the pieces in the collection.

5. The Meaning of Conservatism by Roger Scruton

Roger Scruton is possibly the best known of British philosophers in the 21st century and a brilliant mind that is likely best known for his take on Green Conservatism. Roger advocates for conservatism and love of place or Oikophilia as the answer to our growing environmental disaster, but his book the Meaning of Conservatism is the one that put him into iconoclast territory among his peers in the academy.  Much of the Meaning of Conservatism focuses on our modern understanding of the individual and the state and the way in which the individual is the conclusion of our modern nation state and the rights and responsibilities granted by the nation state. The Meaning of Conservatism places conservatism in its unique context among other philosophies and provides a strong argument about how conservatism fits in relation to the state, society and the free market. If you read one book by Roger Scruton you cannot go wrong with the Meaning of Conservatism.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

A Thought on Marriage

Author: Cole Dutton

What does marriage mean today? Is it still a sacred pact? A sacerdotal bond of dependence, affection, and sustenance between two equals? Is it dying on the vine in the developed countries of the world? I say it is all the above and more, and needs an evaluation.

Numerous intellectuals and journalist have questioned the failure of marriage since the mid-20th century from Charles Murray, Peter Hitchens, and Hannah Rosin. Some speculate that its deadbeat fathers or an irreligious culture. The answer is far from obvious. I am going to do my best to propose a handful of solutions to the marriage problem.

Other propositions seem to be exclusively in the domain of the radical liberals and leftists who seek to undermine the family as a social unit, and expand the state in its place. Most often, the propositions centre on the concept that marriage is an outdated institution; the intellectual left makes severe and absurd reference to the socialist and Jacobin interpretations of marriage as a simple contract or worse as coercion within the family; ideas espoused by the Russian and French Revolutionaries. Few today, it seems, support the wonderful institution at least not in the traditional format: which, is perhaps the only true format; they instead desire to paint matrimony in the light of a contract. A bond only subject to the affection between two people; yet this destroys the social utility, and the greatest source of succor in human life. Sadly, as the public paradigm shifts to greater liberalization and casual interpretation of the institution the sustenance of marriage is ignored or misunderstood

Yet, as citizens of the 'right', what do we say? We look at the plague upon our society, the destruction of marriage, and collectively we despair and agonize. With sermons, the theocrats state that it is a holy institution between a man and a woman and that is the only possible relationship, but is that really all? Is that really the best we can do as responsible members of society? We as conservatives have to evaluate our concept of marriage. We must face up to change and realize that what we strive for was idealistic to begin with, and we have a chance, now and possibly only now, to ignite a marriage renaissance. However, a number of specific issues keep this Renaissance at bay: some hold a religious definition of marriage as the only one; many refuse to see the value in homosexual marriage to the conservative cause; still others do not acknowledge alternative sexual relationships; meanwhile, the timid among us do not, cannot, bring up the destruction wrought by no fault divorce and the social sanction offered to single parents. All these subjects obscured as they are by conservative timidity, and canon, have betrayed us, and worse yet; they have betrayed the greatest beneficiaries of marriage: the children.

To discuss the religious foundation of marriage is not to evaluate its validity, it is valid, and beautiful and necessary, but should not be all encompassing. Rather, religions place in the institution of marriage should be utilitarian and open to disengagement. No doubt, the religious institution of marriage has value, even to the secular right, the traditions serve to legitimize and sanctify the bonds, but the dogmatic notions exclusively antecedent to matrimony alienate many, the right knows this in most parts of the world. The religious bonds to marriage need reconsidering in an ever more secular society failing to do so will prevent the union of new families and limit acceptability among the atheistic. Failure to do so will not only damage families, but the conservative movement in the western world itself.

Ideally, we could limit non-religious ceremony to civil unions, but it is plain in Canada and most other western nations this solution is unpalatable. However, by accepting a secular marriage as equivalent or at least an admirable alternative to a faith-based union we do much to broaden its acceptance.

Homosexual marriage is another tricky topic for the conservative to indulge. It is difficult precisely because the vast majority of the conservative population holds religious principles or happens to hold sympathies, as I do, for those principles. In theory the marriage, at least in the Judeo-Christian sense is a union between a man and a woman for the benefit of bringing children into the world and thereafter, raising such progeny as the parents are best suited. Most polemics, which address the legitimacy of homosexual marriage either, insist it is ungodly by nature and harmful for children. Nevertheless, would we not as concerned citizens prefer that children be brought up in a stable, married, two-parent household than the single parent alternative? Others stress that the Homosexual matrimony removes the emphasis on child rearing, as homosexuals have no ability to produce genetic children with their same sex spouse. However, this ignores surrogacy, and adoption as a means in which the child focus of marriage can be preserved.

Possibly superseding all these other considerations is the fact that Homosexual marriage is growing, rapidly, and homosexuals provide probably the best ally to the conservatives who wish to preserve the institution. Statistics Canada reports that heterosexual marriage fell to 67% in 2011 while homosexual marriages have risen 181% between 2005 and 2011. Clearly, homosexuals are embracing marriage at an unprecedented rate; heterosexuals meanwhile are abandoning the institution in droves for either single parenthood or an unstable common law relationship. Therefore, a pragmatic conservative would ally themselves with the growing number of happy, healthy, married families headed by homosexuals.

On a more personal basis there is a refusal among married couples to propose or engage in any form of alternative sexual lifestyle. No doubt these decisions are far from universal or universally beneficial. However, in an ever more sexualized world, with sleek new communication technologies the possibility of infidelity is growing. What is the modern couple to do? A man or woman may love their partner yet after ten years wish for more. I propose couples work to address this sexual mismatch in as logical way as possible and come up with some alternative structure. Dan Savage a popular commentator notes monogamy may be punitive to men. Whether we agree or not most people know at least one family that has suffered an unnecessary divorce due to adultery. Rather than see any more divided families I suggest that those who can do so consider accommodating their sexual desires in a more diverse manner in order to stabilize the household and maintain their relationship.

Finally, I suggest we as a society, especially those in government begin to re-evaluate the incentives around marriage that have evolved ever since the advent of no-fault divorce. It used to be that a man or woman had to commit a transgression to qualify divorce. Often such allegations had to be proven in a court of law. A marriage could not simply end because someone was unhappy or desired adventure or independence; the contract was binding. No fault divorce has been catastrophic and separating families simply because the parents are unhappy. It is strictly speaking, nonsense. Others claim that an unloving mother and father will raise a child in a toxic environment. However, this is absurd what matters is appearances and love for the children. Children are not privy to intimate details among mothers and fathers anyways. Parents must stay civil and married for the children.

Knowing that divorce is unlikely to return to its previous legal format any time soon I see another possibility. Divorces are largely initiated by the wife: a common statistic is 70% initiation by the wife. In addition, most divorces filed in Canada according to Statistics Canada are filed under living apart as the reason for marriage breakdown not abuse or adultery. Divorce is disastrous especially for men, and children. Children are deprived a father and a whole household meanwhile men are exploited by a vicious family court system were they pay child support under the threat of imprisonment.

Therefore, I propose a return to open shaming and stigma applied to single parents who chose to end their marriage for trivial reasons, and further condemnation for anyone who fails to bring a second parent into the household in a timely manner. Meanwhile, children, who are now a part of whole family, made up of stepparent and biological parent should no longer require child support from the second parent.

In an ideal world, we would pressure legislators to deny alimony/spousal support, and child support to any spouse who initiates a divorce without cause. In the end, a change in incentives should cause more of our youth, both men and women, to engage in marriage and increase the productivity and health of our society.

Marriage is the eternal solution to raising healthy children who do not engage in harmful behaviors. It is time we bring marriage back to the fore even if it means we entertain new solutions; society will be better for it.

Friday, 10 April 2015

Canada Needs An Army

Author: Cole Dutton

Canada does not need an army to fight. Canada needs an army for the health of its citizenry. Far too often spoiled teens, young adults, and even baby boomers shrug off the sacrifices of our armed forces. It is disturbing; many a reservist and many a soldier have experienced ridicule for their service. In the wake of Afghanistan 'support our troops' has become blasphemy in some circles. The armed forces, a historic and treasured institution, are often associated with neo-conservative foreign policy, not charitable desire or service to other human beings.

Yet, it is the protective impulse that most dominates the minds of soldiers. Nearly every soldier believes in one thing: the obligation to protect others, a soldier desires to fight, and stand in harm's way so no one else must do so. A soldier wears their uniform each day, because they love others not because they are thirsty for blood.

It is a shame myths persist about the lifestyle and motivations of soldiers. Our armed forces serve many a purpose not least of which is to serve as glue for our citizens, fostering pride in the nation and esprit de corp. A young person learns to work hard when they don the uniform and see beyond the limits of Canadian society. Lastly, service in the armed forces knows no such thing as poverty, nor wealth. National conscription for both the graduate student and the destitute single father means removing the superficiality of social distinction, while acquiring a valuable skill set. Couple the effects of unity, civic pride, work ethic, and egalitarianism and you have a recipe for social wellness and cohesion.

So what is the proposition for a better Canada? Two years hard service bearing arms for all citizens as a national guard either beginning abruptly after high school or immediately after graduation from the academy.

Canada is a diverse place. 35 million people spread out over nine million square kilometers. Canada is white majority European in descent, and yet Vancouver and Toronto whites are in the minority. Canada as we understand it is a multicultural society. Ignoring the merits or flaws in the diversity agenda, temporarily, allows one to see that Canada has a unique social dynamic in which it must reconcile its population. Could it be, the best way to bond diverse citizens is to put their lives in each other's hands? By doing so, each Canadian becomes responsible for their neighbor whether they are a Saskatchewan farmer's daughter or a Caribbean black this interdependence will foster trust.

Canada lacks a pledge of allegiance. Canada has no mutually acknowledged fire that forged the nation, Vimy Ridge? Maybe, but it is no American Revolution, no national idea binds Canada. Yet, together marshaled under a flag, diverse people cannot take their identity and freedom for granted. Three generations have grown without having to ask why would I fight for Canada? And, without having to ask why, we no longer build civic virtue or understand the concepts that underlie pride in the western way of life. By bringing these questions up naturally people will come to understand they must protect Canada both physically and spiritually. Unique heritage and tradition become fallible, physical, only when one stands again in the boots of their forefathers and has faith in something greater: a shared past.

It may scarcely be argued that our youth know or desire to work. Most young adults float through the first ten years after high school on student loans, bouncing from major to major. Others drift from job to job trying to gain skills and aptitude for a difficult job market where employers are less and less likely to hire those people with an undeveloped skill set. The armed forces provides one, suitable, avenue to build workplace skills and confidence. One need only to look at the Canadian forces job postings to realize that one can be a soldier without ever firing a gun, beyond basic training: the forces require mechanics, recruiters, electricians, lawyers, social workers, cooks, and engineers to name just a handful of positions on offer. A profession in the armed forces creates a professional for life.

Canada is no Marxist paradise, and that is a good thing. However, we do have a growing problem with inequality and charity. Few people in this country understand the plight of those beyond their community; therefore, a substitute community is required. Activists who seek to integrate and equalize Canadian society make arguments often for reconciliation through formal apology and government compensation. This social justice from the top down is not, and never will be effective. These efforts do nothing to heal the rifts between people. Of course, a Toronto executive misunderstands an on-reserve Indian, but government apology does nothing but build resentment among those of whom the government believes it represents. If we wish to build an understanding between Canadians, making them serve side by side can only aid in this pursuit.

So what does Canada give up with a vast expansion of our armed forces? Canada gives up perhaps 3% of GDP in devotion to the armed forces. What do Canadians gain? A skilled workforce ripe with discipline, solidarity, and confidence it is no coincidence that 'the greatest generation,' over saw a vast expansion in living standards and wealth, and it is no coincidence that they all served something larger than themselves... Together.