Category : Canada

John Stackhouse-Getting the Facts Straight about Religion at the CBC

The CBC’s Neil Macdonald embarrassed himself this past week by letting loose on all things religious under the guise of a warning about new Conservative leader Andrew Scheer. “Andrew Scheer says he won’t impose his religious beliefs on Canadians. We’ll see,” says his headline.

In the meanwhile, however, we can worry about the likes of Neil Macdonald imposing his views on us instead.

Mr. Macdonald starts badly by claiming that he is rigorously committed to facts while “religion, though, is something else. It is by definition not fact-based. It is a pure belief system.”

As a scholar of religious studies, I am unaware of any reputable textbook or dictionary that would define religion in this peculiar way.

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Posted in Canada, Media, Religion & Culture

(CBC) Could Anglican Bishop stop Pointe-du-Chêne’s controversial campground project?

The Anglican Bishop of Fredericton could be the man to stop a controversial campground project near Parlee Beach.

Bishop David Edwards was taking a walk in Pointe-du-Chêne on Wednesday, part of an annual pilgrimage he set out to do through the seven archdeaconries of New Brunswick.

But during his morning hike, he was approached by residents concerned about plans for a mega-campsite on Pointe-du-Chêne Road.

The park of 600 to 700 campsites, which Health Minister Victor Boudreau formerly held a stake in, would be the largest in the Maritimes.

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Posted in Canada, Energy, Natural Resources

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

–Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)

In thanksgiving for all those who gave their lives for this country in years past, and for those who continue to serve”“KSH.

P.S. The circumstances which led to this remarkable poem are well worth remembering:

It is a lasting legacy of the terrible battle in the Ypres salient in the spring of 1915 and to the war in general. McCrea had spent seventeen days treating injured men — Canadians, British, French, and Germans in the Ypres salient. McCrae later wrote: “I wish I could embody on paper some of the varied sensations of that seventeen days… Seventeen days of Hades! At the end of the first day if anyone had told us we had to spend seventeen days there, we would have folded our hands and said it could not have been done.” The next day McCrae witnessed the burial of a good friend, Lieut. Alexis Helmer. Later that day, sitting on the back of an ambulance parked near the field dressing station, McCrea composed the poem. A young NCO, delivering mail, watched him write it. When McCrae finished writing, he took his mail from the soldier and, without saying a word, handed his pad to the Sergeant-major. Cyril Allinson was moved by what he read: “The poem was exactly an exact description of the scene in front of us both. He used the word blow in that line because the poppies actually were being blown that morning by a gentle east wind. It never occurred to me at that time that it would ever be published. It seemed to me just an exact description of the scene.” Colonel McCrae was dissatisfied with the poem, and tossed it away. A fellow officer retrieved it and sent it to newspapers in England. The Spectator, in London, rejected it, but Punch published it on 8 December 1915. For his contributions as a surgeon, the main street in Wimereaux is named “Rue McCrae”.

Posted in Canada, Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Poetry & Literature

(G+M) Mark Kingwell–Artificial intelligence in 2017 means respect, not fear

…fear remains the dominant emotion when humans talk about technological change. Are self-driving cars better described as self-crashing? Is the Internet of Things, where we eagerly allow information-stealing algorithms into our rec rooms and kitchens, the end of privacy? Is the Singularity imminent?

But fright is closely seconded by wonder. Your smartphone makes Deep Blue look, as Mr. [Gary] Kasparov has said, like an alarm clock. In your pocket lies computing power exponentially greater than a Cray supercomputer from the 1970s that occupied an entire room and required an elaborate cooling system. Look at all the things I can do, not to mention dates I can make, while walking heedlessly down the sidewalk! This is familiar terrain. The debate about artificial intelligence is remarkable for not being a debate at all but rather, as with Trump-era politics or the cultural-appropriation issue, a series of conceptual standoffs. Can we get past the typical stalemates and break some new ground on artificial intelligence?

I think we can, and Mr. Kasparov himself makes the first part of the argument. We can program non-human systems, he notes, to do what we already know how to do. Deep Blue won against him using brute force surveys of possible future moves, something human players do less quickly. But when it comes to things we humans don’t understand about ourselves, and so can’t translate into code, the stakes are different. Intuition, creativity, empathy – these are qualities of the human mind that the mind itself cannot map. To use Julian Jaynes’s memorable image, we are like flashlights, illuminating the external world but not the mechanisms by which we perceive it.

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Posted in Canada, Philosophy, Science & Technology

(Economist Erasmus Blog) A polygamy trial in Canada tests the limits of conjugal freedom

In 2011, the Supreme Court of British Columbia issued a landmark decision running to 335 pages: it opined that although anti-polygamy legislation does indeed impinge on religious freedom, it is necessary in view of the harm which multiple marriage causes to children, women and society. It was that ruling which paved the way for the current trial.

Blair Suffredine, Mr Blackmore’s lawyer, is defending his client on grounds that society recognises the legitimacy of other non-traditional unions, including common-law marriage. He has said: “Because of Blackmore’s religious belief, because he has more than one relationship, he’s being prosecuted. If he didn’t have a religious ceremony and just had all these children with different women, it would be fine. The sole distinction is [that] Blackmore went and had ceremonies for each one….”

The decision will be watched with interest in many democracies. There is no liberal democratic state where polygamy is legal, but the practice is recognised, either formally or de facto, in around 60 countries round the world, mostly Muslim. In practice, courts and authorities in democratic countries have often accorded some recognition to polygamous unions forged elsewhere when adjudicating, say, social-security benefits or child custody. That includes Canada, where immigration authorities insist, of course, that each newcomer must declare only one spouse but have been willing in principle to allow children from a father’s other marriages to enter the country.

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Posted in Canada, Religion & Culture

(AJ) In Canada, 3 Anglican dioceses have married eight same-sex couples since General Synod 2016

Eight same-sex couples have been married in three Anglican Church of Canada dioceses, ahead of General Synod 2019, when a resolution to allow same-sex marriages will be presented for final approval.

Since General Synod 2016 approved – on first reading – a proposed change in the marriage canon (church law) to allow same-sex marriages, four weddings of same-sex couples have taken place in the diocese of Niagara, three in the diocese of Toronto and one in the diocese of Ottawa, according to the offices of the respective diocesan bishops. Several other same-sex couples in the dioceses of Toronto and Ottawa are also preparing to walk down the aisle.

In the diocese of Montreal, Bishop Mary Irwin-Gibson said she is currently going through a discernment process with four same-sex couples considering marriage.

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Church of Canada, Canada, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture

(Vancouver Sun) British Columbia Polygamy trial now to include a constitutional challenge of the law involving questions of religious freedom

That reference case concluded in 2012 with the B.C. Supreme Court upholding the law on the basis that polygamy’s harms were sufficient to warrant a limit on religious freedom as well a freedom of association and expression.

Referring the law to the court was initially recommended a decade ago by the first special prosecutor, Richard Peck. He said a reference was preferable to a trial, which could be “a cumbersome and time-consuming process”.

Peck said “an authoritative statement from the courts” was needed because since the 1990s, the B.C. attorney general’s ministry had refused to press charges based on legal opinions suggesting that the law was invalid.

Peck disagreed and wrote that the harms of polygamy were extensive enough that they would likely be considered a reasonable limit on Charter-protected freedoms.

“Religious freedom in Canada is not absolute,” he said. “Rather it is subject to reasonable limits.”

Read it all.

Posted in Canada, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Mormons, Religion & Culture

(Globe+Mail) Sheema Kahn–Cultural sensitivities must never override gender equality

While Canada has legislation against the practice of FGM, there are no laws that prosecute parents who send their daughters abroad to have the procedure done. In contrast, France and the United States have outlawed “FGM tourism.” It is time for Canada to follow their lead.

And while Ottawa has moved to address FGM, our governments have failed to address female feticide. They ignored the call by Dr. Rajendra Kale, in 2012, to ban disclosure of the sex of a fetus until 30 weeks (after which point an abortion is difficult). South Korea banned such disclosures in 1988, helping to reverse gender imbalance.

Finally, there can be no change unless there is opposition within communities. There will be pressure to circle the wagons in wake of negative media coverage. I still remember an Ottawa community leader telling a local congregation, following the “honour killing” of Aqsa Parvez, that the media were trying to make the Muslim community look “bad.” Outrage was not directed at family violence, but at the media for covering that violence.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Canada, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Politics in General, Violence, Women

In Canada, Owen Sound Anglican church merger seen as a ‘natural step’

Owen Sound’s two Anglican churches will become one in June.

In February, the congregation of St. Thomas Anglican Church, in a 91-year-old stone building at 1331 4th Ave. W., asked if it could join St. George’s Anglican Church at 1049 4th Ave. E. in downtown Owen Sound.

The Rev. Claire Miller of St. Thomas church said the financial burden on the small congregation grew too heavy to bear alone. As both churches have shared services and social events, it seemed a “natural step” to join, she said Wednesday, pausing from preparing for Easter Sunday services.

“I think it was a very obvious decision,” Miller said. “From a practical sense and a business standpoint it makes sense to consolidate and pool resources and have a larger Anglican presence, one Anglican presence rather than being split.

“But I mean it is very emotional. People were born and baptized in this church, and married and there’s been funerals. So they’ve spent their life, this has been a big part of their spiritual and their social lives as well.”

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Posted in Anglican Church of Canada, Canada, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

In Canada, Where Muslims Are Few, Group Stirs Fear of Islamists

Patrick Beaudry, bejeweled, tattooed and bearded, lives on a remote wooded hillside in rural Quebec, worrying about living under Shariah law.

A year and a half ago, he huddled with two friends in a Quebec maple sugar shack, discussing how to stop the spread of what they call “invasive political Islam” in Canada. They formed a group called La Meute, or Wolfpack, created a Facebook page and invited like-minded people to join.

Within a month, they had 15,000 followers. Today, the number has surpassed 50,000, and the group is still attracting people. Now, Mr. Beaudry and his colleagues say they are shaping those followers into dues-paying members who will give the group financial muscle and, they hope, political clout.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has publicly opened Canada’s doors to refugees and presented a face of tolerance and inclusion in a world increasingly hostile to migration. But as Canadian immigration policy has transformed the nation over decades, pockets of intolerance have grown across the country.

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Posted in Canada, Islam, Religion & Culture, Violence

St. John Anglican church In Ontario closing

A place of worship for 123 years, the Anglican Church of St. John the Evangelist will close its historic doors at the end of April, another casualty of a dwindling congregation.

The exterior of the unremarkable building, now sandwiched between a transmission repair shop and a busy plaza at 150 Colborne Street West, is often overlooked, said Rev. Douglas Pizzey, who has headed the church for more than two years.

But the glorious nave and sanctuary with its memorial stained glass windows, oak pews and extensive woodwork, often take visitors aback.

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Posted in Anglican Church of Canada, Canada, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(Globe+Mail) Michael Devillaer: Pot legalization: Canada doesn’t need another profit-seeking drug industry

First, the research is clear that the great majority of current drug-related harm and economic costs arise not from the misuse of illegal drugs but from legal, regulated drugs: tobacco and alcohol. The extent of harm and costs is enormous, and continues year after year.

The epidemic of opioid deaths that has been sweeping across North America had its genesis in the conduct of the legal pharmaceutical drug industry.

Second, we have a history of pan-industry failure to balance revenue interests with the protection of public health. Industries protect their revenue by disregarding existing regulations and opposing the introduction of new evidence-based reforms. They also have a history of breaking the law to maximize revenues.

Third, government has been reluctant to adopt evidence-based regulatory reforms, and the effectiveness of existing regulations is often compromised by permissive enforcement. Rarely-assessed penalties are typically insufficient to discourage recidivism. In sum, drug industry regulation is not simply less than perfect, it is seriously less than adequate, and contributes to the perennial high levels of harm from drug products.

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Posted in Canada, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Politics in General

(Daily Beast) Want to Raise Kids with Your BFF? Move to Canada

Can you legally parent with a close friend? In Canada it is possible.
Natasha Bakht and Lynda Collins are making history. They have become the first women in a non-romantic relationship to legally co-parent a child.
Collins decided to help Bakht when her son, Elaan, was diagnosed with spastic quadriplegia. Elaan appeared healthy at birth, but doctors quickly found parts of his brain were dead.
After the diagnosis, it was clear Bakht was going to need more help than she had originally planned. “So I had the appetite to help and she had the need and so I was over here a lot, day in, day out. What we found is that we’re really happy parenting together,” Collins tells BBC News.

After a two-year long legal battle, Bakht and Collins became “co-mommas” in November and could not be more thrilled.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in Canada, Children, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Men, Psychology, Women

Charles Henry Brent for his Feast Day–A Historical Plaque for Him from Ontario, Canada

Confronted by the devastating moral and physical effects of opium addiction, Brent became an uncompromising advocate of drug control. He urged international co-operation in eradicating drug abuse and served as president of the Opium Commission at Shanghai (1909) and the Opium Conference at The Hague (1911-12).

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Posted in Canada, Church History, Drugs/Drug Addiction

(Vancouver Sun) When churches become marijuana dispensaries

It was probably inevitable, especially on the cannabis-loving West Coast.

A Christian church has been turned into a marijuana dispensary.

The quaint building that used to house Shawnigan United Church on Vancouver Island has now been “re-christened” the Green Tree Medicinal Dispensary.

There is symbolic power in the transformation. And, depending on your tastes, the metaphorical shift is positive or negative.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Canada, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, History, Religion & Culture, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues