Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Parti Québécois fading?

Parti Quebecois leader Pauline Marois
Parti Quebecois leader Pauline Marois | Photograph by: Paul Chiasson, CP , Vancouver Sun

The Parti Québécois seems to be fading in the stretch run to Quebec’s September 4, 2012 general election. At least, this is what is suggested to me by a new Forum Research telephone poll conducted for and reported by the National Post.

Of the 1,602 respondents, more than a third (35%) said they would vote for the Jean Charest’s Liberals, more than a four-point increase in support since last week’s poll. Better yet, the gain seemed to come at the expense of the PQ, whose popularity dipped six points to 29% since Forum’s last poll. The third-place party, Coalition Avenir Québec, stayed unchanged at a respectable 24%.

Encouraging news for those of us who were convinced the incompetence—and perhaps corruption—of Jean Charest’s Liberal government might have provided the PQ with the opening they needed to once more put Canada on the edge of constitutional crisis with their blackmailing threats to separate, and to do so even though a 49% minority of Quebecers may want to remain in Canada.

I want Quebec to remain in Canada. I do not, however, believe the federal government should continue to pay out equalization payments to the tune of $7-billion plus to that province, which has received $56.7-billion—a whopping 54% of the $107.4-billion our federal government spent on equalization from 2005/06 to the present year.

Frankly, I do not believe a majority of Quebec residents want to separate from Canada. Support for sovereignty would, however, be enough to “tease” the rest of Canada and keep the country “off balance” for the full term of a PQ government.

And, in these unsettling economic times, our country can do without that.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Muslim tolerance and love?

In a stunning example of bigotry and intolerance, a Pakistani Christian girl is being held in prison after her Muslim neighbours accused her of burning pages of the Koran, thereby breaking Pakistan’s blasphemy law. 

An angry mob of over 500 people had reportedly gathered outside her house in Islamabad. They insisted she had burned pages from the Koran, even though police said they had found no such evidence. At the police station, though, they apparently found that the girl had a shopping bag containing religious and Arabic-language papers that had been partly burned—but no Koran.

Since few people in Pakistan speak or read Arabic, the more ignorant among them assume anything in Arabic is from the Koran.

Perhaps more frightening is the fact that this is not an isolated case.

In July, thousands of people in Bahawalpur, central Pakistan, reportedly beat a man to death and set his body on fire. The man had been jailed after being accused of desecrating the Koran, and a mob had dragged him from a police station before beating him to death.

Being a Christian in Pakistan is, apparently, a dangerous thing. And this latest incident demonstrates just how backward the people of that wretched country are. Zora Yusuf, head of the Pakistani Human Rights Commission, has been quoted as saying his country’s blasphemy laws have “been exploited by individuals to settle personal scores, to grab land, to violate the rights of non-Muslims, to basically harass them.”

What disturbs me most about these reports is the number of immigrants Canada accepts from Pakistan. Intolerance seems common in that country and widely accepted, especially intolerance based on religion. The anti-blasphemy laws are one case in point.

Attempts to reform or moderate those laws have not been successful. Quite the contrary as just last year two politicians spoke out against the laws and were killed for their efforts. This implies the blasphemy laws are broadly accepted and supported.

People who support such cruel and unjust laws are not the sort we want here. We have our own problems without importing beliefs and cultural customs which belong in the dark ages.

American politicians say the darndest things

I’m back from my summer hiatus and notice that not much has changed on the political stage here in Canada, though, south of the border the election scene is heating up as the parties get set for their big national conventions.

By the way, while I was off, I found that I’d inadvertently deleted all the images on this blog. I’ve decided to leave things as they are and not repair the images other than the header—too much effort for limited return. Stuff happens, eh? [Sigh…]

In one of those say-it-isn’t-so moments, I read that Todd Akin, a Missouri congressman, caused a real fuss on Sunday by making a comment about rape and abortion. He said something really stupid about women’s bodies being able to prevent pregnancies if they are victims of a “legitimate rape.” Now he’s, understandably, facing calls from fellow Republicans to drop out of the Senate race. [Full story here.]

Could a grown adult in these modern times really believe—as Akin has said—that, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” It stretches belief to its limits, but apparently he used those words on camera in a TV interview aired Sunday on St. Louis station KTVI.

How dangerous is it to have this sort of person making the laws of the land—or, at least, having input to legislation? Hopefully, Akin’s fellow congressmen will view him with the disdain he so richly deserves.