By Medicine Hat News Opinon on January 27, 2018.
I wasn’t going to do this. It isn’t very rewarding to pick low-hanging fruit, and I really don’t like showing disrespect. But I’ve been busy doing other important things like writing a paper for my college class so I don’t have a lot of time to do a proper editorial. So I’m going to go ahead and just comment on Mr. McLennan’s column of Jan. 22, and then briefly address a second issue — the very clumsy move by the federal Liberals on the summer job grants program.
A. Mr. McLennan’s column is a laundry list of things he hates — our prime minister, Omar Khadr, returning jihadists, residential school victims, the LGBT community, political correctness and apologizing. He is wrong, short-sighted, self centred, and unjustifiably angry about every one of these things. He is the Archie Bunker of our age, an angry old man, sitting in the coffee shop, surrounded by other angry old men who feel, correctly, that they no longer fit into modern society. One thing he does like is Donald Trump, who, unlike Canada’s leader, is a stranger to apologizing or admitting guilt. Mr. McLennan, like John the Baptist, sees himself as a harbinger of things to come in Canada. We too will soon be blessed with a Trump-lite revolution. “The pendulum is swinging and the day of political correctness is coming to an end.” I can hardly wait. Finally, hate speech and public slandering will become acceptable. Down with civility. Enough with all this being nice to others garbage. I can hardly wait!
There is, however, one bright light of informed reason in his column that bears mentioning. Mr. McLennan offers an astute assessment on the issue of failing leadership in many of the Indigenous communities in Canada and suggests that “the issue is largely cultural and cannot be solved by the government. The change needed to address this issue must come from within the Indigenous community.” Most would agree. But does that mean that the government should do nothing, or that the larger community is not complicit, or that previous governments have grossly mismanaged this file, and that our colonial past did not erode and cripple Aboriginal cultures? Will turning our backs on this situation make it go away? Old white anger is not the appropriate balm for an oozing historical wound.
And, in closing, I want to very briefly analyze Mr. McLennan’s concluding sentiment. “If you do not agree with my opinions, you are probably wrong.” Opinions, Mr. McLennan, are not ‘statements of fact’. They are not ‘declarations of the truth’. There are therefore no right or wrong “opinions.” It is the observable facts and verifiable evidence within an opinion that are right or wrong, true or false. It is a foolish man indeed, who believes everything he hears and calls others who have heard things differently “wrong.”. Children on the playground do that all the time. Grown men shouldn’t. But that’s just my opinion.
B. Everyone agrees that the work of many faith-based groups is laudable and valuable, but also dependent on the charity of others, including funding from governments. The work they do — running soup kitchens, food banks, second-hand stores, summer camps and other church work serves so many people who depend on this help. It also provides opportunities for students, through summer employment, to discover the value of serving others, to develop work skills, management skills, and to arrive at a more comprehensive view of their communities.
An article in the Jan. 20 Globe and Mail, “Abortion is a right. So is criticizing it,” points out that “The Supreme Court of Canada struck down Canada’s abortion law in 1988, and a year later ruled that the Charter does not protect the fetus.” Abortions have been legally performed in Canada ever since. It is unfortunate that last year one group used its $50,000 grant to actively campaign against abortion. Mr. Trudeau had to respond to this event but his response was clumsy and overreaching. A small amendment was added to the application forms for summer work grants. It asks groups to indicate by checking off a box, that they support the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, including reproductive rights. This sounds to some as if applicants must be pro-abortion. That, clearly and understandably, is an issue for many faith-based groups. They cannot, in good conscience, check off that box, and can therefore not qualify for summer jobs funding.
Mr. Trudeau is wrong in how he handled this matter, and has unnecessarily pulled the scab off an old wound that very few in Canada want to look at. His wording should have made it clear that it is possible for individuals and groups to be against abortion while also respecting the rights of others to choose that alternative. That should have been the end of the story. His chosen wording unfairly and foolishly singled out and discomforted some of the best people in Canada, for no good reason.
Peter Mueller is a long-time resident of Medicine Hat who, in spite of all the evidence, continues to believe we can build a better world.
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