Good news day

Well it may not all be great news, a lot of things caught my eye today.

First, it’s not news that Harper is in contempt of parliament for not turning over documents demanding by parliament, but now it’s official. It’ll be an interesting two weeks to see if he learns how to share and play nice with the other kids. And despite all the media framing, I don’t see it as election versus giving out the documents, Harper can easily prorogue (since he has two established precedents), pass it off to the senate or find some other way to stonewall the opposition.

Next, the Pirate Party of Canada has officially been registered as a political party. Not sure yet if I’m going to actiely support them, but I do tend to agree with their basic stance.

Also, Harper can’t help but show his true colours and has decided to set a double standard by cutting funding to abortions in his aid packages while they are legal and funded here.

Finally, those evil, greedy, money-grubbing bankers were exposed as exactly that in front of the US Senate, with everyone digging into them.

Tomorrow I fly to Edmonton to move the fiancée out here.

Pharmasave against contraception?

I received the following email via the Humanist Canada mailing list:

I was horrified to discover yesterday, that the Jubilee Pharmasave at 1775 Fort St., Victoria BC, V8R 1J3 (250-595-1471) does not carry Plan B (the morning after pill) for "ethical" reasons! They called it an abortifacient!

I thought pharmacists would hold the health and safety of the public as their first consideration in their professional practice and that the public would include women who hope to prevent an unplanned pregnancy. Apparently not at the Jubilee Pharmasave.

They also claim that they do not expect any financial consequences from this decision. I think they are mistaken.

Please pass this on to all of your pro-choice friends and contacts.

Pharmasave is a mid-sized pharmacy chain in Canada and has “over 400 independently owned pharmacies.” It’s not clear whether this Victoria Pharmasave is unique in its apparent unwillingness to stock legal contraceptives, or if it is a chain-wide phenomena.

Short-sighted and dogmatic

Stephen Harper is taking his fundamentalist ideology to a new level by cutting any support for family planning initiatives from the June G8 meeting. The reasoning is flawed, short-sighted and stupid:

Birth control doesn’t fit with saving lives.

On the surface this statement almost makes sense. But when you consider the indirect costs, health risks, and difficulties associated with birth and young children, especially in impoverished areas, you can probably see the need for some initiative.

Even George W. Bush supported birth control projects, albeit he preferred the flawed natural planning method and abstinence and banned money to organizations that provided any services surrounding abortions.

Harper claimed a few months ago that he cared about the women and children of the third world. He’s either a liar or has a really twisted vision of helping.

(h/t Melany)

No anti-choice ads for Kelowna

I noted a week ago that an anti-choice group in Kelowna had gotten approved to show their graphic and misleading ad to local TV viewers.

It turns out that CHBC-TV has blocked the ad for being too offensive for some of their viewers.

I have to agree with Unrepentant Old Hippie on this one:

Other than that, I’d actually be against pulling it — the fetus fetishists have as much right as organizations like PETA to flog their cause.  And they sometimes get more mileage (not to mention the persecution high they’re forever chasing) from being “censored” than they do when their campaigns run themselves out and die quiet and unremarkable little deaths.

While you may not like what they say, they still have a right to say it.

In the news

A few quick stories of note recently:

  • A whooping cough outbreak is occurring in the BC West Kootenay region because woo-woo parents think vaccines are evil and now their children are at risk of dying. And some people ask what’s the harm in letting people believe in alternative medicine.
  • Speaking of unfounded woo, NDP MP Denise Savoie has claimed that evil “toxins” are to blame for NDP Leader Jack Layton’s recently diagnosed prostate cancer. Throw out the fact she doesn’t state what specific toxins cause cancer and implies all chemicals are evil. Perhaps cancer is more frequent now because we’re living longer and are better at detecting it.
  • Further to the Jack Layton story, it’s commendable to see everyone setting aside partisanship to wish him the best for a speedy recovery.
  • The BC Civil Liberties Association is rightly backing the right of University of Victoria’s Your Protecting Youth pro-life student group. While I disagree with the groups stance, they do have a right to exist and organize and pushing them aside is the wrong thing to do. If the group crosses the lines of civil discourse and propagates falsehoods, then there may be a case for disbanding them, but the same ought to apply to any and all campus groups.
  • The Kamloops Atheists report that the local “Daily News” paper refused to publish any atheist material in their religion page since “the rest of the paper was for atheist material.” They subsequently didn’t publish the request article anywhere in the paper. Further they note that the Kamloops Christian School is teaching Biblical Creationism with equal time to the “theory” of evolution.
  • Finally, to end on a positive note, the Centre for Inquiry Vancouver has just hired Radio Freethinker co-host Ethan Clow as their new Executive Director, making him the third paid CFI employee in Canada. I look forward to see continued success for CFI and wish Ethan the best of luck. Further to that, I’ve accepted a position as CFI Canada’s Campus Outreach Director, and hope to continue the success of the dozens of student groups across the country.

Canadian Blog Awards Round 2

I placed fourth in Round 1 of the Religion and Philosophy section of the 2009 Canadian Blog Awards. Thanks to everyone who voted but the work is not done yet, as now begins Round 2.

I came in fourth of five qualifiers, and have taken a look at the competition.

I’m the only atheist on the list (Armchair Antichrist didn’t make it through), but Benedicton Blogs On and Pulpit and Politics are both liberal Christians who I likely have a reasonable amount of shared ground with. Benedicton writes exposés at Religious Right Alert and has frequently criticized Stephen Harper’s theocons. Meanwhile, P&P is written by former NDP MP Dennis Gruending.

However, leading the pack is the newer (his archives only go back to October) “Bible Journey” which is an anti-homosexual and anti-choice Christian website:

Another controversial passage of the Bible is the above — the passage where the Lord condemns homosexuality (lying with a man as you would lie with a woman). Sex being for marriage, it would be inappropriate to assume that God wants churches to support the marriage of same-sex couples of some of those more "progressive" "Christian" demoninations have done.

Despite the controversy of Leviticus 18, it’s still quite clear what we are to make of it…take it at face value. [Source]

Finally, we have Anglican Samizdat filling the fifth spot in the finalists. AS seems to have taken a shining to the denialist wave surround the manufactured Climategate controversy, and attacks a progressive Christian charity run by the Anglican and United Churches of Canada. He even takes to putting attack quotes as “Fanmail” on his sidebar. My favourite is the irony of a regressive Evangelical Christian making Douglas Adams references, considering Adams was both a “radical atheist” and an environmentalist.

Round 2 voting is open, and for the Religion and Philosophy section, I recommend myself (I do need my ego stroked), Benedicton Blogs On and Pulpit & Politics. Let’s keep the anti-science/human rights blogs out of the medals.

As for the political category of the Awards, I was eliminated in round 29 of 49. Of the top 10 Political Blogs, my picks are Daveberta, CalgaryGrit, and Buckdog (in no particular order).

Harper’s stance explained

A few days ago I brought up how no one really cares to point out how atrocious China’s human rights record is, and how Harper half muttered it again under his breathe after visiting the country for a spanking.

Soon after I saw Murray Dobbin had posted a hypothesis about why Harper is willing to attack the human rights record in China while overlooking atrocities in Afghanistan and other countries:

One of Harper’s most important constituencies – the anti-abortion movement – has China at the very top of its hate list.  If you believe abortion is murder then there are more babies killed in China every year through abortion than in all the rest of the world combined.

Now, Harper’s association with the religious right, while somewhat quiet, is well established and you can easily find evidence of how much pro-lifers hate the Chinese government (and not just because they’re dirty Communists). So perhaps it does all make sense now.

If no one attended, it’s not news

Oh the SFU Peak. So thin on content that they still publish stuff by Sam Reynolds (who a few weeks ago tried to argue that torture’s cool as long as it’s called “enhanced interrogation”), like today’s “Campus News” piece entitled “Pro-life demonstration draws few supporters.

Of course titles are generally chosen by the section editors, so we don’t know what Sam’s first choice title would have been.

The article focuses on a recent event by SFU Students for Life (they’re anti-choicers, not perpetual students I think) that tried to use the shock value of the abortion-Holocaust comparison. The article spends about 2/3s of its length to explain what happened at the event, where only 17 actual human beings were (likely including Sam Reynolds, the speaker, and SFU SFL president).

Think about this: Almost no one attended the event (I had noticed the posters which were lacklustre white pieces of paper posted inconspicuously around campus), yet they now have the opportunity to use the News section (i.e. not the opinions) to spread their comparison.

Now, campus apathy makes a good story in regards to student politics and perhaps lacklustre student life, but picking a single event that tried to push an agenda almost everyone on campus hates and then making it our to be headline news? I call bias.

And notice that I choose to publish this here on my blog as opposed to sending anything in to the Peak, since there’s no reason to give this “debate” any more voice than it’s already received.