Friday, March 21, 2008

The Harper Dictatorship continues

Stephen Harper has been the biggest hypocrite in Canada with respect to the "democratic deficit". After his numerous promises while leader of the opposition, it turns out that the Prime Minister has concentrated more power in his Office than previous governments.

He also flaunts the democratic process by forbidding popular candidates from even running for the Conservative nomination in some ridings. What a disgrace.

Yet Another Social Conservative Forbidden from Running for the Conservative Party of Canada

By John-Henry Westen BURNABY, BC, March 19, 2008 ( - A revolt is brewing in the Conservative riding of Burnaby-New Westminster where the Party candidate in the last election - a strong social conservative - has been denied the opportunity to seek the nomination again despite massive local support.

Last week directors from the local constituency association held a forum discussing their concern at the Conservative Party's decision to disqualify Marc Dalton, the Conservative Candidate of Record for 2006. Prominent social conservative John Pacheco was similarly denied the opportunity to contest the Conservative Party nomination in 2005 which resulted in a firestorm of criticism for the Party.

The Liberal Party has also engaged in such tactics but felt the sting of electoral loss as a result. Liberal Leader Stephane Dion quashed the nomination of a local Liberal Party favorite David Orchard. Prior to taking action, Dion was warned that forcing another candidate would cost the Party a solid Liberal seat - which it did.

No reason was given for the Conservative Party's current decision on Dalton despite repeated requests to the National Council by board members and Dalton himself. Mr. Dalton filed his application papers over one year ago and has hundreds of supporters. He was well-positioned to win the nomination to be held March 29th.

He received notification of his disqualification last week just as the cut-off for signing up new members approached.

"This is unfair and unjust!" said Senna Ip, President of the Riding Association. "I support the right of all three of our candidates to run and would fight for each one of them to stay in the race. Mr. Dalton worked very hard in the last election and has been very busy strengthening our Party and building our membership. For the Party to disqualify him at the last moment with no reason is shameful and heavy-handed".

Thirteen directors and members of the Executive are asking the Conservative Party to allow Mr. Dalton the right to re-enter the nomination race. Members of the group met with National Councilors this week. The Councilors said that it was the local Nomination Committee's decision, yet the local committee said it was the National Committee's decision.

"They're just playing games with us", strongly contests Ip. "The local committee is supposed to reflect the wishes of the Board and the membership. They are not doing that!"

Mr. Dalton was invited to attend the forum. He said that he feels he has an obligation to speak up on behalf of the 400 people who support him, including most of the Conservative riding association long-term membership, young people and people who supported other parties.

Dalton, a public school teacher, said "what type of message are we sending to these young people who are participating in the democratic process for the first time? This type of action breeds cynicism and mistrust. It erodes and demoralizes our base. How will this help our Party build public trust and move us into majority territory?" He added, "On the one hand, our Conservative Party disregards members' desire to choose a candidate, and on the other hand, they become part of an aggressive fund-raising database. This is just not fair, especially towards our new members!" Over twelve thousand people voted for him as the Conservative candidate in the last election.

Dalton remarked that the disqualification may be permissible according to Party regulations, but these unfair practices are not acceptable to the public and run contrary to the principles of accountability and justice that the Conservative Party advocates.

Senna Ip and the other board members hope that Conservative voters and members everywhere will voice their opinion on this matter to the Conservative Party and in public. She contends that the Party must be seen as responsive to the people, especially its grassroots members.

To express concerns contact

Conservative Party Leader
Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Conservative Party President
Don Plett

Religious Believers Happier than Atheists and Agnostics: Study

By Hilary White

LONDON, March 18, 2008 ( - Another study has found that sincere and active religious belief makes people happy, the Daily Mail reports.

Statistical analysis has shown repeatedly that church attendance, family life and stable marriages are the building blocks of a happy life.

Prof. Andrew Clark of the Paris School of Economics, and Dr. Orsolya Lelkes of the European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research presented their research at the conference of the Royal Economic Society in Coventry. They said that religious believers are happier overall than atheists or agnostics. More than this, regular church attendance and an active prayer life make people even happier than passive belief alone.

Data gleaned from thousands of Europeans and British people say that religion can help people cope with life's disappointments and difficulties including the most stressful, such as the death of loved ones, divorce and unemployment. Religious believers have higher levels of satisfaction and suffer less psychological damage from life's troubles.

Meanwhile, church attendance in Britain and elsewhere continues its decades-long decline. Recent figures show a 500,000 fall in typical Sunday attendance in Britain since the last comparable research in 1998. Although these numbers can be seen most clearly in attendance at the Church of England and despite what is being called the "anomalous" and probably temporary rise in attendance at Catholic churches caused by an influx of eastern European immigrants to the UK, Catholic church attendance has also plummeted since the high point of the early 1960's.

But the numbers of people who believe is falling even faster than attendance at weekly church services. People who identified themselves as members of the official state religion have dropped by 40 per cent since 1983. A 2005 study said that only 50 per cent of children are likely to retain the religious faith of their upbringing. The report suggested that the decline in religious belief through the generations is already too far gone for any reversal.

The author one study, Dr. David Voas, said the loss of faith in Britain "is not temporary or accidental, it is a generational phenomenon - the decline has continued year on year. The fact that children are only half as likely to believe as their parents indicates that, as a society, we are at an advanced stage of secularisation." In 2000, a survey found that half of all adults in the UK say they have no religious affiliation, a 13 percent increase from 1983.

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