Thursday, July 23, 2009

'Honour?' Methinks not....

On June 30, a car carrying three girls and another woman crashed into the Rideau Canal in Kingston. The incident has been suspicious in nature since its occurrence, and the case has taken another suspicious turn. Police have arrested three people, a Montreal couple and their 18-year old son, for the murder of their three daughters.

While police have not confirmed whether this crime was culturally motivated, they are currently looking into the possibility that it was an honour crime. The family originated from Kabul, Afghanistan and were practicing Muslims.

The case demands an examination into the number of radical Muslims living in Canada today. While a great deal of Muslim Canadians are well-adjusted, hardworking, and civilized individuals, there is increasing media attention shedding light on those who are not.

High profile murders such as that of Mississauga teen Asqa Parvez several years ago, and now this case, draws attention to the frightening number of radical Muslims living among Canadians. It is a difficult conundrum that we are in; on one hand we as Canadians pride ourselves on diversity and multiculturalism, while on the other hand we have a duty and obligation to defend the basic human rights of ALL of our citizens, regardless of their creed or sex.

How do we spot and catch the perpetrators of so-called 'honour killings?' It is too easy to call for immigration restrictions on all Muslims, when in reality that is not the answer. Unfortunately, it is no easier to spot and catch a would-be 'honour' crime perpetrator than it is to walk out on the street and randomly pick out a would-be serial killer. Hopefully, Canadians can bear in mind that Islam can be interpreted in any number of ways, much the same way as Christianity. Islam is not the only religion to produce monsters; Christianity bred the Bountiful polygamist cult, the assassination of Dr George Tiller, and countless other lowlifes throughout history. Islam is not necessarily the problem; it is the varying contexts in which Islam is interpreted that gives rise to monsters.

Monday, July 20, 2009

what will be, will be

The head of Ontario Provincial Police today announced the discovery of human remains about 95 kilometres north of Woodstock, ON, which they believe are "almost certainly" those of missing 8-year old Victoria Stafford.

"We have some very strong leads that cause us to believe that we have in fact located the human remains of Victoria Stafford," said OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino.

This recent discovery has caused an outpouring of anger and calls for capital punishment on CBC comment boards and blogs alike, which raises a difficult and heated question: should the death penalty be legalized in Canada?

While the 'eye for an eye' ideology does seem especially poignant in cases as tragic as that of Victoria Stafford, the actual process of instituting the death penalty is impractical and unrealistic for a nation such as Canada. The cost of conceiving, organizing, regulating, and applying capital punishment would be immense, not to mention irresponsible given the current economic climate. Look, for example, the challenges Obama is facing in instituting a new health care system. Now, add in the mix of emotion and radical ideology involved in the abortion debate. Combine the two, and now try to imagine any Canadian politician willing to invoke that kind of Charter overhaul.

It simply does not make sense to create such a system given the rare chance that it would actually be used. How many times is the death penalty handed down in US court cases? How many times is capital punishment actually carried out? Prisoners sit on death row for decades before actually being executed. Meanwhile, criminals who are convicted of murder and do not receive the death penalty head off to prison, where I wager to say they get what's coming to them in a much quicker and cost-effective way.

Why bother paying to institute the death penalty when the other inmates will deal out justice to the monsters who are convicted of preying on children? It is said that there is no honour among thieves, but that doesn't seem to be the case among prisoners. Screw keeping the child killers in isolation to 'protect them;' let them be subject to the mercy of other inmates.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Dignity vs Dignitas

In a Globe and Mail article published this morning, it was announced that the Quebec College of Physicians is contemplating whether to advocate the legalization of euthanasia. The College is set to release a document this fall with their findings from a three-year ethical task force, one of which is the conclusion that Quebec society has evolved to a point where it could tolerate euthanasia in specific circumstances.

This announcement reignites the "right to die" debate, and will force Canadian politicians and citizens alike to critically examine the state of palliative care in this country. Some will argue that if the quality of palliative care is increased, there will be no need for euthanasia. I argue that this is a separate situation. The question is not whether an individual receives adequate care while they are dying, but whether the individual should be forced to endure the process of dying in a way that is unappealing to them.

While most people confront the euthanasia debate from a "right to die" perspective, I have to say that it should be confronted from a "right to life" perspective. If life is a right, it entails that one also has the freedom to live their life in a way that is pleasing and enjoyable to them personally. An individual's (and in this case patient's) life is theirs to do with as they choose, and it is hypocritical that someone's "right to life" (and right to live life as they want it), should be curtailed by bureaucrats. If a person wants to die, that is their choice because it is their life. If they no longer want to live that life- or, as in euthanasia cases, they are dying anyways- that choice is theirs and theirs alone. The Canadian government does not control what clothes we put on in the morning or what music we listen to, or even what religion we practice. What right do they have to control how an individual wishes to end their own, and only their own, life?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Almost exactly two years ago, the world protested the Chinese crackdown on Tibet. Their lockdown on rioters drew international criticism, an outpouring of pro-Tibet sympathies, and threats to boycott the Beijing Olympics.

Now, there has been another crackdown on Chinese minority rioters; this time, the world is very nearly silent. When the Uyghurs rioted in Xinjiang earlier this month, Chinese police cracked down on the rioters, leaving 140 people dead and over 800 injured. The only thing the rioters demanded was justice in the June deaths in two Uyghurs.

Xinjiang rioters were not out to overthrow the government, re-instate religion, or demand autonomy. They asked for justice in the deaths of two of their own.

Why did the world speak out and condemn China's crackdown on Tibet, but is now unwilling to anger Beijing over its treatment of another minority riot? Any number of reasons could apply here: China's international power is greater now than it was two years ago, or maybe the Western powers just don't care that the crackdown was against Muslim minorities. Either way, it is sad that international powers have let this moment slide without so much as a slap on the wrist.