What is happening in both the House of Commons and the Senate at the moment represents a serious enough threat to our democracy that we require remedial efforts in real time, far in advance of whatever constitutional refinements to these institutions that might lie in the future. Our focus should be upon the selection process for Senators, at least in the interim.
When I first heard about the dismantling of the Canadian International Development Agency in the government's recent budget, I was rather dismayed. Nonetheless, upon delving into the issue further, it became clear that my initial reaction was quite misguided. International aid from Canada is not coming to an end; the budget has merely initiated the merging of CIDA with the Department of Foreign Affairs. The aim is not to slash aid, but rather to have a more synergized approach to its deliverance in developing countries. The merger of CIDA with DFAIT ensures the money our government spends internationally will be more focused, effective and better reflect and preserve the national interests of Canada.
Child pornography is heinous. No one will quibble with that statement. We learn from the story of Moses and Pharaoh that questions being raised by people like Conrad Black, Jonathan Kay, et al require us to suppress our emotions and implement critical thinking in order to respond objectively, fairly to abhorrent behaviour and crime. I think we sell ourselves short as a society if we do not talk about this issue, or any morally difficult issue, because of fear or repulsion. We are a democratic society whose morals, values and ethics are based on a fine balance between justice and mercy
There is no doubt that social media is contributing to great positive changes in our world. But we must not forget or ignore its dark side. Today, we have masses of information that are sent via instant messaging, tweeting, tumblr, YouTube. Speed is a priority, brevity is important. There are social implications that come with this technology. Among other things, we are losing accuracy and time for critical thinking. Tom Flanagan is a recent recipient of information fallout. Look how quickly he was judged and "dropped" by friends and peers. Is this our future: Fear of attacks on social media stifling different voices and difficult but necessary problem-solving?
It comes as no real surprise to those who have witnessed Tom Flanagan casually call for state assassinations or defend the very civilizing project that led to the abhorrent Indian Residential School system to learn that he made flippant comments regarding child pornography while giving a talk on the Indian Act. So when Flanagan, a former adviser to Stephen Harper, was summarily dropped as a commentator by the CBC and labelled a persona non grata by the Alberta Wild Rose Party and Conservative Party of Canada, the reaction among many in academia was: What took you so long?
Arguments got heated this week in the wake of a YouTube video showing academic Tom Flanagan saying that the viewing of child pornography does not "harm another person," and that he "has some grave doubts about putting people in jail because of their taste in pictures." It's frustrating that the incident has been cast simplistically as Flanagan revealing himself to be "okay with child porn." As inelegantly as he went about it, Flanagan seemed to be trying to get at a legitimate question: Is criminalizing the act of viewing evidence, after the fact, of a disgusting crime a reasonable curtailment of freedom expression?
EDMONTON - Former Stephen Harper strategist Tom Flanagan has been widely and swiftly condemned for suggesting that people looking at child pornography...