'All for ourselves and nothing for other people' seems in every age of the world to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind. -Adam Smith "All the 'truth' in the world adds up to one big lie." Bob Dylan "Idealism precedes experience, cynicism follows it." Anon

October 17, 2011

Canada's Christian fundamentalist Prime Minister tells millions of poor no need to protest

Chain The Dogma   October 17, 2011

Canada's Christian fundamentalist Prime Minister tells millions of poor no need to protest

by Perry Bulwer

Today, October 17, is the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.  I doubt Canada's fundamentalist Christian Prime Minister is even aware of it given his refusal to implement any kind of poverty reduction program let alone one that eradicates poverty, which is possible to do in such a rich, stable country as Canada. Here is what Stephen Harper said  when asked for his comments on the Occupy Canada protests that began here on the 15th.

"Canadians understand that Canada has performed very well during the global economic recession," he said. "We've managed to create more growth and more jobs than just about any other industrialized country. We are extremely focused on the needs of Canadians and the needs of the middle class. We obviously have a very different situation here — we didn't bail out our banking sector. Our banking sector was the strongest in the world."

As is the habit of demagogues, they always mix in some truths to disguise the lies. That is especially true for Harper, who manipulates or ignores facts that contradict his ideology. That is something that has occurred over and over again in various positions taken by the Harper government, including drug policiesmaternal health policies, crime and punishment policies, fishery policies,  as well as in its undermining of one of the most respected statistical gathering agencies in the world, Statistics Canada.

Harper's comment on the current global protests is no different. Breaking it down sentence by sentence, here is how I see it. In his first sentence he presumes to know what all Canadians understand. After ruling with a minority government for so many years, the recent parliamentary majority he won has gone to his head . He seems to actually think the majority of Canadians are conservatives who voted for and support him, when that is far from the truth. Only 60 percent of Canadians voted  in the last federal election and only 40 percent of them voted for Harper's party. Clearly, only a minority of Canadians support Harper, but more than that, those statistics show that forty percent of Canadians obviously feel voting is a waste of time. It seems to me that those who do not exercise their right to vote are protesting against the inertia and inequity of the current financial and political systems just as much as the Occupy protesters are, since the status quo remains regardless of which political party is in power. Small protest crowds in Canada do not indicate the true numbers of Canadians who feel disenfranchised by the present system. Mocking and dismissing those protests is a foolish mistake.

The claims Harper makes in the second part of the first sentence and the second sentence of his comment are probably true to an extent, but when he says "Canada has performed very well" and created "more growth and more jobs" he means in comparison to other countries. It is true that the unemployment rate has recently dropped slightly, but that is small comfort for those still without a job who may lose their homes, let alone those without a home. So who exactly has benefited from Canada's good performance? It is definitely not the four million citizens living in poverty, including 300,000 homeless.

Harper's next claim is that his government is focused on the "needs of Canadians and the needs of the middle-class". False. He most definitely is not focused on the needs of all Canadians, since he refuses to address the issues of poverty and homelessness affecting the most vulnerable citizens, as recommended by a parliamentary committee, and as set out in Bill C-233, An Act To Eliminate Poverty In Canada,  which is a Private Member's Bill proposed by an opposition MP so unlikely to pass under a Conservative majority.

Neither is Harper focused on the needs of the middle-class, as the evidence below illustrates. Harper's final claim in that comment on the Occupy protests is that the situation in Canada is very different from that in the United States, because of our superior banking system. This is a perfect illustration of mixing lies with truth. While it is true that the Canadian banking system didn't need bailing out and is recognized around the world for that, it is not true that the situation in Canada with respect to the Occupy protests is different than in the United States. In fact, the situation is worse.

According to the recent report, "World Income Inequality",  by the Conference Board of Canada: "The increase in income inequality has been more rapid in Canada than in the U.S. since the mid-1990s." Anne Golden, president and chief executive explained:  “Even though the U.S. currently has the largest rich-poor income gap among these countries, the gap in Canada has been rising at a faster rate,” adding that high inequality raises both “a moral question about fairness and can contribute to social tensions.” The conclusions in that report are supported by the December 2010 study by the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives, "The Rise of Canada's Richest 1%".

The Rise of Canada’s Richest 1% looks at income trends over the past 90 years and reveals the 246,000 privileged few who rank among the country’s richest 1% took almost a third (32%) of all growth in incomes between 1997 and 2007.

“That's a bigger piece of the action than any other generation of rich Canadians has taken,” says Armine Yalnizyan, CCPA senior economist and the report’s author.

“The last time Canada’s elite held so much of the nation’s income in their hands was in the 1920s. Even then, their incomes didn’t soar as fast as they are today. It’s a first in Canadian history and it underscores a dramatic reversal of long-term trends.”

Post-war, Canada became more equal with the rise of the middle class but by 2007, the richest 1% reversed equality trends, amassing incomes gains reminiscent of the 1920s.

Among the report’s findings:

From the beginning of the Second World War to 1977, the income share of the richest 1% dropped from 14% to 7.7%;

By 2007 they’d made a comeback: the richest 1% held 13.8% of incomes;

Since the late 1970s, the richest 1% has almost doubled its share of total income; the richest 0.1% has almost tripled its share of total income; and the richest 0.01% has more than quintupled its share of income.

So, there is the evidence that exposes Harper's blatant lie that the Canadian situation is different and better than in the United States. The Occupy protests here, and where ever they occur, are focused on the inequities and corruptions of financial and political systems. That old truism, "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer", has never been so true or so obvious as today in Canada, so Harper is both ignoring the evidence, which he is well known for, and lying to the people he supposedly serves. I think that comes easy to Harper, because of his membership in the fundamentalist, evangelical Christian and Missionary Alliance church.

One Canadian situation that is different than in the U.S. is the fact that Harper's religious beliefs and affiliation are not well known in Canada and rarely discussed. I don't think I need to describe just how different that is from the U.S. situation, where religion plays a central role in politics. However, the fact that Harper is an evangelical fundamentalist, or pretends to be one to win votes, ought to be a wake-up call to Canadians. Here is how a former evangelical and co-founder of the Religious Right, Frank Schaeffer, explains the role of Christian fundamentalism in the exploitation of the many by the few in the United States:

As the Occupy Wall street movement spreads across the country and the world, we must bring attention to the enablers of the top 1 percent exploiting the 99. Fundamentalist religion made this exploitation possible.

Evangelical fundamentalism helped empower the top 1 percent. Note I didn't say religion per se, but religious fundamentalism.

Why? Because without the fundamentalists and their "values" issues, many in the lower 99 percent could not have been convinced to vote against their (our) economic self-interest; in other words, vote for Republicans who only serve billionaires.

Wall Street is a great target for long-overdue protest, but so are the centers of religious power that are the gatekeepers of Republican Party "values" voters that make the continuing economic exploitation possible.

Fundamentalist religion -- evangelical and Roman Catholic alike -- has delegitimized the US government and thus undercut its ability to tax, spend and regulate.

The fundamentalists have replaced economic and political justice with a bogus (and hate-driven) "morality" litmus tests of spurious red herring "issues" from abortion to school prayer and gay rights. The result has been that the masses of lower middle-class and poor Americans who should be voting for Democrats and thus their own economic interests, have been persuaded to vote against their own class and self interest.

In Canada, religion does not play such a prominent role in public political life, but that does not mean that the religious right are not active behind the scenes  on core conservative values such as abortion and gay rights. Harper has always had to keep tight control over his caucus on those and similar issues, because the majority of Canadians are not conservative and do not agree with Harper's party. And so Harper lies and obfuscates. For example, he says he will not reopen the debate on abortion, which is legal in Canada, but he continues to export anti-abortion ideology and policies through international aid projects, revealing where he really stands on the issue.

If religion does not play such an overt role in Canadian politics or society as in the U.S., then why should we care what Harper believes? Because as Schaeffer explains above, religious fundamentalism helped create and increase the financial, social and political inequities that are now the focus of worldwide protests. Furthermore, it is important to know if our politicians who create laws and policies base those on evidence or ideology. Harper's government has made it very clear that ideology is far more important than evidence. At the end of it's years long fight against InSite,  for example, the government's arguments at the Supreme Court of Canada against the facility were all based on ideology or jurisdiction. Government lawyers presented no evidence of harm to counter the stacks of evidence proving that the facility saves lives, reduces harm and produces benefits for individuals and society. Likewise, by building more prisons and pushing a new crime bill Harper intends to pass with his new majority, he is completely ignoring solid evidence that crime has been falling for the last 20 years, not increasing.

I questioned above whether Harper is a true believer or just using religion as a political tool. I think that latter scenario may be more common in the U.S., where it is political suicide not to have a religious affiliation of some sort. There are only 28 atheist members of Congress,  but only one of them is willing to admit that publicly, which means the other 27 and probably many other members are hiding or lying about their religious beliefs. I think Harper may actually be a sincere believer, however, because of his consistent refusal to consider valid, scientific evidence in favour of ideological positions, which is a trait of religious fundamentalists. As I mentioned above, that is something that has occurred over and over again in various policy positions taken by the Harper government. Considering the strictly fundamentalist and evangelical tenets of Harper's church, it is really no surprise he discounts scientific evidence when formulating public policy. After all, he chooses to attend a church that believes in creationism and rejects evolution, even theistic evolution, believes the Bible was verbally dictated by God and therefore without error, believes in faith healing, and believes Jesus was born of a virgin and will return any day now. But where does Harper's religion put him in relation to the millions of Canadians struggling with poverty that his politics and policies have ignored? The cries of the poor do not move him, and so his holy book condemns him as a hypocrite:

But if a person has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need and that person doesn’t care, how can the love of God remain in him? I John 3:17 


A modest proposal to end homelessness in Canada

Asbestos, Abortion and the Canadian Prime Minister's cats

Beware of any religious organization with Family in its name

October 13, 2011

A modest proposal to end homelessness in Canada

Chain The Dogma       October 13, 2011

A modest proposal to end homelessness in Canada

by Perry Bulwer

Prime Minister Stephen Harper likes to boast that he represents a majority of Canadians and that "... Canadians are essentially conservative people."  It is a hubristic boast based on our flawed electoral system that gave him a majority government for the first time, but with only 61 percent of Canadians bothering to vote, and just 40 percent of them supporting Harper, he certainly does not represent a majority of Canadians.  Immediately after the election he declared,  "We must be the government of all Canadians, including those that did not vote for us", which would be most of them. Yet, Harper's first order of business with his new parliamentary majority is aimed at the unfounded concerns of a minority of Canadians, his conservative constituency. Relying on demagoguery and propaganda, Harper campaigned on promises to increase efforts to combat crime, including emulating failed U.S. programs such as mandatory sentencing and prison expansions, despite the fact that crime has been steadily decreasing for the past 20 years in Canada.

Harper doesn't like facts that don't support his ideological agenda, so he simply ignores the statistics of falling crime,  just like he ignores the facts of poverty in Canada. Four million people live in poverty in one of the richest countries in the world.  One million Canadian children, one out of seven, live in poverty. There are as many as 300,000 homeless citizens in Canada, and probably many more. Moreover, attempts to count them usually leave out those at risk of homelessness, such as those living in sub-standard housing or who disproportionally pay anywhere from 30 to 80 percent of their gross household income on housing. I say "attempts to count them" because Canada does not keep national statistics on homelessness, which the UN has criticized it for. Canada is the only G8 country that does not have a national housing strategy. Furthermore, Harper's government recently refused to accept the main recommendation of a Parliamentary committee to develop and implement a poverty reduction plan,  even though such a plan would cost society far less than the status quo.

Therefore, since Prime Minister Stephen Harper refuses to take any significant step to reduce poverty and homelessness in Canada, but is willing to enact unnecessary or unjust laws and build more prison space for an increased prison population put there by those laws, I propose that the homeless commit one of the victimless crimes that carry mandatory minimum sentences. They should then immediately turn themselves in and admit guilt, which will provide them with free room and board for the length of their sentence. Once that is complete they simply need to disobey the conditions of their release, or recommit the crime, if they are still in need of housing.

That's the perfect, final solution to end homelessness in Canada, housing them in all the new prison cells Harper is building. All it will cost the homeless is their freedom, but poverty and homelessness is a prison of a different kind, so loss of freedom in exchange for a dry bed and two hot meals a day may be preferable to dying a slow death on the street or in sub-standard housing. And depending on the prison, they will have access to recreational areas with TVs and games, exercise facilities or yards, educational opportunities and programs in a library, a medical clinic or hospital, various employment opportunities, counselling and religious services, and a visitor's area for entertaining guests. It is the ultimate in supportive housing.

But what will that type of 'supportive housing' cost tax payers? Stephen Harper, being a trained economist, should know that it is far more than it would cost to provide that homeless person with a decent home in the first place. Here are some numbers to put this all in perspective. Since Harper came to power in 2006, the cost of the prison system has risen 86 percent.  The cost per inmate per year is now around $120,000.  A homeless person costs society much less than that, but much more than if they were provided housing and intervention services, because of the disproportionate demand they place on emergency shelters and police, ambulance, emergency room and similar services, including the court system. Those costs can be around $42,000 for a homeless person in Calgary, as reported in a study by the National Council of Welfare (NCW), or as much as $55,000 per person per year in British Columbia, as cited in a report on homelessness by that province's Auditor-general.  On the other hand, that same B.C. report put the cost of supportive housing and social services for one homeless person at $37,000, while the NCW report says that those costs would only be between $13,000 and $18,000.

No matter which figures you use, providing decent housing for the homeless saves society around $20,000 for each person provided a home, and is around $100,000 cheaper than housing that person in prison. But beyond the financial costs, once the homeless and near-homeless are provided stable housing and food security, many are then able to turn the energy they expended on daily survival to more productive activities that will benefit themselves and their communities. While I understand that there are some programs and projects that are slowly tackling this issue, those efforts are inadequate for solving the problem. What I don't understand is why the federal and provincial governments do not make ending homelessness their top priority. I think it is safe to assume that all politicians in this country live in comfortable homes, while many of their constituents do not. If, as they like to brag, they are public servants, then why are they not fighting like hell to make sure that not one single Canadian is forced to live on the street or in sub-standard housing for one more night, let alone one more month or year? Homelessness across this country could be ended within a year or two if the same resolve and resources were poured into solving the issue as were spent for political summit meetings and sports events. Here's another less modest proposal than my 'prisons for the homeless' suggestion.

In 2010, the Federal government wasted over $800 million for two international summit meetings that accomplished nothing. Much of that cost was to protect the politicians from the citizens they supposedly serve.  It now intends on wasting at least $2.2 billion on prison expansion and other costs associated with Harper's new crime bill.  The federal government is also spending nearly $1 billion on removing asbestos from Harper's workplace and home.  That is $4 billion Harper's government has recently spent or will spend unnecessarily, at least when there are more urgent priorities. In British Columbia, the government recently spent $6 billion on the Olympics.  It has also spent over $500 million to renovate BC Place, a sports stadium. Neither the 2010 Olympics  nor the BC Place renovations will provide the economic benefits promised by politicians. In total, that is $6.5 billion that the B.C. government spent recently on projects that benefit only certain segments of society, but certainly not the poor. Together, these few projects I've mentioned cost over $10 billion. How far would that amount go towards ending homelessness within a year or two?

I am not a housing expert nor have I studied any research on homelessness and how to end it. My perspective on this issue is from the street level and my suggestions are simplistic, but that may be why they could work. We don't need anymore discussions, conferences, promises and planning, we just need action, now. I recently saw an advertisement for a used three bedroom mobile home for less than $30,000. That got me thinking. Since the government has access to any land it wants and has the buying power to gain savings through mass purchases, it could easily set up ready to live in mobile or container home  parks. If we take $30 thousand as the average yearly cost to society for each homeless person, and use that amount as the cost for each mobile or container home to house them, the $10.5 billion dollars detailed above would have bought 350,000 homes. The estimate I cited above is that there are around 300,000 homeless people, so my proposal would actually end homelessness in Canada, though the problem of those living in sub-standard housing would still need to be addressed.

The land for these new parks could either be crown land, so free, or expropriated land, which would have associated costs. However, the one time costs for the land and new mobile or container homes, as well as any ongoing costs for services such as sewer, water and electricity, could be covered by the housing allowance people on social assistance receive, which in the case of B.C. is $375 a month. If the government finds that amount insufficient for covering its expenses then it could simply raise that amount it provides for housing support. The B.C. government is not currently willing to raise that amount for the benefit of the poor, even though it is impossible to find adequate rental accommodations anywhere in the province for that price. However, if it were to become the landlord for these new homes for the homeless, perhaps it would wake up to how ridiculously low the housing support is.

Okay, I realize this is a simplistic solution, but if governments can come up with money for useless meetings and games during times of financial instability, why can't it come up with the same amount of money to house destitute citizens? When the roof on B.C. Place began to leak after a storm and needed replacing to protect sports fans from getting wet, the government somehow quickly found the money to renovate it, yet there is no money to provide a permanent roof for citizens sleeping on the street? There is plenty of money to remove asbestos from Stephen Harper's home and work place, to ensure that he and his parliamentary colleagues have a safe environment to work and live in, yet there is no money to ensure that the homeless have a safe, secure environment to live in? Governments frequently claim they have to pay top bureaucrats and CEOs of crown corporations huge salaries, benefits and bonuses because of their specialized expertise. So why can't those experts come up with solutions to quickly end homelessness? With no expertise or special knowledge, I came up with my solution in no time at all, and the government doesn't even need to pay me for the advice. At least under my modest proposal, the homeless will not have to live in Harper's prisons and they won't have to eat children to survive.

October 1, 2011

Asbestos, Abortion and the Canadian Prime Minister's cats

Chain The Dogma      October 1, 2011

Asbestos, Abortion and the Canadian Prime Minister's cats

by Perry Bulwer

Several Canadian Parliament buildings, including the Prime Minister's residence,  are currently undergoing renovations to remove deadly asbestos used as insulation for decades before it was known to cause cancer and other deadly diseases. That particular kind of remedial renovation has been going on across the country for some time now, in all kinds of buildings including homes and schools, because there is absolutely no doubt that asbestos kills people.  Those renovations on Parliament Hill will cost taxpayers close to one billion dollars, but the politicians and bureaucrats who work and live there deserve a safe environment so the cost is justified. Or is it? Perhaps those politicians, who love to call themselves public servants, ought to actually serve the public before serving themselves, and first end homelessness and near homelessness by ensuring that all citizens have adequate, safe housing before they fix up their own house. They obviously care little about the citizens they claim to serve, especially the poorest ones, but even worse, most of the politicians, including a medical doctor, who are part of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government have absolutely no qualms about exporting Canadian-mined asbestos to poor countries where it will surely kill people. Either that or they simply ignore their conscience and obey the dictates of our anti-democratic Prime Minister.

To save the Canadian asbestos export market, which brings a mere $90 million into the economy (that's 10% of the cost of renovating just those Parliament buildings), Stephen Harper ordered his government delegates attending the 2011 Rotterdam Convention to oppose listing asbestos in the international list of hazardous chemicals. Listing asbestos as a hazardous material would not prevent Canada from exporting it. Instead, listing it would simply require Canada to acknowledge the well established harms to health it causes and provide health information labelling on export shipments. Yet Stephen Harper is not willing to take even that minimal step to protect people in poor countries, including women and children, who will be exposed to Canadian asbestos, though he is willing to protect himself and his colleagues by spending a billion dollars to remove it from his home and work place. That deadly hypocrisy is obvious to both the international  and domestic communities.

Adding to Harper's hypocrisy on the issue of asbestos is the fact that he claims  to be an international advocate for maternal and child health. In September 2011, a day before attending a high-level conference at the U.N. on maternal and child health in developing countries, Harper stated: "Canada continues to play a leading role on the world stage – from improving the health of women and children in developing countries to ...."  If that is true, why is he endangering the health of women and children by allowing exports of Canadian asbestos and insisting that no health warnings of its toxicity accompany those exports? He is obviously aware that asbestos is dangerous to health, otherwise why remove it from the Parliament buildings at such great expense at a time of serious fiscal instability. Does Harper think women and children in India, for example, do not deserve the same protection from asbestos as he and his colleagues, or the women and children of Canada? Here is how asbestos affected just one Indian family.

One thing Rajendra Pevekar remembers from falling asleep on his father’s chest as a child is the smell of burnt plastic and the shiny specks of dust sticking to his clothes.

What Pevekar didn’t know was that the dust had a name -- asbestos -- and a record of wrecking the lungs of those who inhale it. Only last year did he draw a connection between the fiber from the auto-parts factory where his father worked sweeping the floor, the man’s early death, the disease that left his mother crippled and his own shortness of breath.

“This is a slow poison,” Pevekar said in an interview at his home in Mumbai’s working class neighborhood of Ghatkopar. “It destroys your lungs and you don’t even know it.”
Canada was India’s second-largest overseas supplier of asbestos in 2009, trailing Russia, according to the United Nations Commodity Trade Statistics database.

We should not look to Harper's politically motivated public statements expressing concern for the health of women and children, but to his actions, which demonstrate exactly the opposite. It is deceptive of Harper to claim a leading role in improving women and children's health internationally when he continues to insist on Canada's right to export toxic materials that will kill many of those women and children, or when he prohibits any Canadian funding from going to international reproductive services for women.

Harper's desire to be seen as an international advocate for women and children's health began during the lead up to the G-8 summit meeting held in Canada in June 2010. His approach to the issue, informed by the religious dogma of his church, was controversial from the start because of his insistence that no Canadian funding be used for any international project that included contraceptive or abortion services. U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, did not hesitate to publicly criticize Harper's position during her visit to Canada in March 2010, stating:

You cannot have maternal health without reproductive health, and reproductive health includes contraception and family planning and access to legal, safe abortion.
I've also been very involved in promoting family planning and contraception as a way to prevent abortion. If you're concerned about abortion, then women should have access to family planning. And finally, I do not think governments should be involved in making these decisions.

Two weeks before that Clinton visit, Canadian Foreign Minister, Lawrence Cannon, announced that birth control would not be part of any maternal health program supported by Canada. Two days later, Prime Minister Harper seemed to reverse that position, stating that contraceptive services would not be ruled out, but he remained adamant that abortion services would not be part of any Canadian funded program.

Stephen Harper is a member of the evangelical, fundamentalist Christian and Missionary Alliance church,  so he has no choice but to oppose abortion, though it is politically dangerous for him to say so publicly. That is why Harper has never publicly affirmed that right of citizens, although abortion is legal in Canada and supported by a majority of Canadians. Since 2006, when he was first elected, until the most recent federal election in May 2011, Harper led a minority government. That meant he did not have the political clout to reopen and win parliamentary debates on issues important to his conservative constituents and caucus, such as the legal right to abortion or same sex marriage, which became legal in 2005. Harper managed to avoid the issue of abortion during those years, however, in the lead up to the election in May of this year, and with a majority government within his grasp that he did not want to jeopardize, he was forced to reassure voters he had no intention to reopen that debate. But now that he has won that majority (though only 40% of those who voted, voted for his part), and despite those assurances, it seems political debate on abortion has reopened even though it is a constitutional right.

Harper's claim that he had no intention of reopening parliamentary debates on abortion was undermined by the actions, or more accurately deliberate inactions, of one of his cabinet members, International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda, who was undoubtedly directed by Harper. Applications by Planned Parenthood in 2009 and 2010 for funding were ignored by Oda, prompting one of Harper's Conservative MPs, Brad Trost, to declare during the 2011 election campaign  that the government had defunded Planned Parenthood because of its support for abortion and therefore had reopened debate on the issue. That wasn't exactly true, as no decision had been made, but it forced Harper to make those assurances that he would not reopen the abortion debate while he was Prime Minister. After the federal election this year, Planned Parenthood submitted a revised application for funding and in September 2011 Oda approved funding to provide sex education and contraception, but only in five developing countries where abortions are illegal. That decision by Oda prompted Trost to state: "So in reinvigorating the debate as they have by funding IPPF, you'll see more politicians like myself will be discussing the matter. In a respectful way, but it will be discussed."

Although Harper is legally restrained from denying Canadian women their legal right to abortions, he has no problem exporting his fundamentalist ideology abroad. He can't help himself, it is what evangelists do. Morally, however, I see no difference between exporting asbestos that will kill women and children in developing countries and exporting religious ideology disguised as aid that comes with contractual conditions that prohibit life-saving and live-improving health services because of dogma. But morality is not Stephen Harper's strong point, if his official website is anything to go by. As I wrote in a previous post:

Around four million Canadians, including more than one in seven children, live in poverty yet the Harper government recently refused to accept the evidence-based recommendations of a Parliamentary committee to develop and implement a poverty-reduction plan. One in seven Canadian children in poverty amounts to over one million poor children. It is a national disgrace for one of the richest countries in the world, yet Prime Minister Harper shows more compassion and concern for the welfare of cats than children. His official website demonstrates that clearly. The home page under Family Center provides information on how to foster or adopt pets, but nowhere can you find any concern for the welfare of a million children suffering the indignity of poverty.

Perhaps Harper thinks a million Canadian children suffering the indignity of poverty is nothing compared to the suffering of an estimated 70 to 100 million feral cats in North America.  Or maybe his concern for cats is nothing more than mere politicking. "This public cuddling and cooing might have something to do with presenting a warmer image of the Prime Minister, but the Harpers seem legitimately committed to the cause of feline welfare," speculated Aaron Wherry in Maclean's.  Too bad Stephen Harper is not legitimately committed to improving the welfare of children living in poverty, or the estimated 67 to 78 thousand Canadian children living in care homes, most of whom are awaiting adoption. He would rather promote the adoption of house cats, which are an invasive species not indigenous to Canada, than promote the end of poverty, sub-standard housing, and homelessness for Canadian citizens and their children.


Canada's Christian fundamentalist Prime Minister tells millions of poor no need to protest

Red Cross emergency mission to Indian reservation exposes Canadian apartheid