Press Feed
Pages Menu

Brendan Steven

Lies and falsehood from the prostitution lobby

Recent court rulings in Ontario have brought the question of prostitution to the forefront of the Canadian public policy debate. They have also led to the usual calls by the prostitution lobby for the legalization of their “trade.”A shocking number of otherwise intelligent people in this country have hopped onto the progressive bandwagon of advocating for legalized prostitution. Many of those people are probably red in the face as they read this column, noting that I use the word prostitution, instead of their more politically correct “sex trade.” Colonizing mainstream language to normalize these activities is but one step on the road to Canada enabling one of the most inherently abusive industries known to man.Uninformed people of all political stripes, including many misguided libertarians, frame this debate in the same light as the alcohol Prohibition of the early century. They make two distinct claims that I will endeavour to respond to. First, that prostitution is not inherently an industry of abuse and social vice. Second, that legalizing and regulating prostitution will eliminate those vices currently associated with the practice. In the words of an editorial by The Economist in September 2004, “Criminalisation forces prostitution into the underworld. Legalisation would bring it into the open, where abuses such as trafficking and under-age prostitution can be more easily tackled. Brothels would develop reputations worth protecting.”There is no strong objective data to stand upon when arguing that prostitution is not inherently a social vice of significant proportions. Dr. Richard Poulin is a Professor of Sociology at the University of Ottawa, an authority who has studied the nature of prostitution thoroughly. In 2005 he published a study entitled “The legalization of prostitution and its impact on trafficking in women & children”. His findings include the following:-  Studies of street prostitution in England established that… Read More

Environment debate full of hot air

This week, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews released Canada's first comprehensive anti-terrorism strategy. The strategy not only discusses the threat of radical Islamism, but also "low-level violence by domestic issued-based groups". Sierra Club Canada and its cheerleaders in the NDP are angry that the government dared to talk about the threat of issued-based terrorism. Why? According to Sierra Club Director John Bennett, the inclusion of such threats is only an attempt to "marginalize the environmental movement". NDP MP Megan Leslie described the report as one part of the government's efforts to "demonize" environmental advocacy.Politely, that view must be disregarded. The government has every right to shed light on the skeletons in radical environmentalism's closet. The Sierra Club and the opposition parties cannot wish away the sins of the past and present. The government's anti-terrorism efforts must include an honest appraisal of modern terror threats, and the evidence of both history and the present is clear: environmental terrorism is a source of low-level domestic violence that must be stopped.We've seen this threat already in Canada. In 2009, Encana Corporation suffered a series of pipelines bombings that cost the company millions. Residents of the Tomslake area of British Columbia were subjected to months of tension as police searched for the radical environmentalist who committed the six bombings. While thankfully no one was injured in these attacks, the bomber was clearly willing to risk the lives of others: the final explosive went off a scant 500 metres from a group of workers. To this day, the bomber has never been found.The Encana bombings are only a recent example. Recall the violent actions of the Earth Liberation Front. In 1998, they burned down a Colorado ski lodge. In 2001, they used arson to destroy a series of homes on Long Island to protest man's… Read More

Negative Income Tax: a New Take on Taxes

OTTAWA - You would be forgiven for having never heard of the Croll Report. The fruit of a Senate committee on poverty, the report was published in 1971. It stated plainly that the structure of the Canadian welfare state was failing.  The report proposed a bold innovation to fix that problem: the implementation of a nationwide negative income tax. The time has come to fulfill that recommendation.Negative income tax is one of those great ideas whose time has never come. The principle of NIT is simple. Government determines a particular annual income at which someone could maintain a living. Government in turn assures that anyone falling below that income line is "topped up" with a direct cash transfer, literally the opposite of an income tax. The transfer amount would equal the amount of money you would need to reach the minimum income line.The program was proposed by famed economist Milton Friedman as a simple means of replacing the welfare state. He argued that a simple, direct transfer to allow citizens to reach a basic income line would eliminate the need for complicated welfare programs. It would be an effective way of combatting poverty without the labour market distortions and stalled income mobility caused by welfare dependency.Suffice to say, the Croll Report was enthusiastic about the idea. Shortly after the Report was published, the Government of Manitoba indicated its interest in testing NIT. The result was the "Canada-Manitoba Agreement Concerning A Basic Annual Income Experiment", referred to more simply as Mincome.This otherwise hopeful project ended in quiet failure. In 1979, the program was discontinued as a result of altered experimental objectives. The program never published a final report or findings, leading to a haphazard analysis by Canadian academics attempting to make sense of the mass of data that was dropped in… Read More

Liberal Party wants an ethics election… it will still lose

In order to run an election on a government scandal, you first require a government scandal.Apparently, no one has told the Liberal Party.We have all been reading the endless election speculation that had dominated headlines these past few weeks. Canadian punditry is out in force on the question of whether or not the polls will soon open in a federal election.The entire prospect at the moment seems to be a dismally bleak affair. Despite the Harper government’s newfound buoying in recent polls, Conservatives should not be so hungry for their long-awaited majority. Beyond the well-known shakiness of polls, the 43% popular approval rating has only held at that level for a few weeks time. It is all well and good to say that these were the numbers Jean Chretien won majorities with, but Jean Chretien isn’t Stephen Harper. While the Conservative Party has been able to count on higher support during election periods, they cannot roll the dice on that possibility nowThus, it seems to me that we are on a crash course towards an election that will produce the exact same results we had last time: another Conservative minority. There is a reason why no party wants to out themselves as the one seeking to bring down the government. Canadians know the cost of elections, and they will undoubtedly punish those who are too eager to go to the polls.The Liberal Party thinks that it has found a winning issue: the Government’s ethical record. Good for them. It’s clear that Michael Ignatieff will never be able to win an election based on issues. His earlier sabre-rattling over the F-35 contract and corporate tax cuts was clearly not winning him political points. Polling shows most voters respect the competency of the Harper government, and its strong economic record. They may… Read More

Free speech and media uproar

"Bob Rae is back." A robotic narrator speaks into the mike. "First he was the job killing Premier who threw Ontario into the worst recession since the Dirty 30's." An image of a young Premier Rae appears, smiling, flickering in and out of the shot as the narrator drones on. "Now, he's plotting to take over the Liberal Party." The screen darkens.These are the opening scenes of a video produced by the National Citizens Coalition. It is short, no more than 50 seconds long. Yet this 50 second clip has produced a small uproar from the opposition benches.These 50 seconds have drawn sharp criticism from the likes of Liberal MP Jim Karygiannis, who says the ads mean to indirectly support Stephen Harper. He says this despite openly supporting Bob Rae for the leadership of the Liberal Party. Never mind that the ad does not say a word about Stephen Harper. "If it quacks like a duck, if it walks like a duck, if it smells like a duck, it is a duck," in Karygiannis' own sophisticated words.Both Karygiannis and NDP MP Joe Comartin believe that the release of this simple 50 second ad justifies a rewrite of Canada's third party election advertising laws. In Karygiannis' words, "This is where we need legislation that says that anything spent in order to do character assassination, to portray, to move a particular leader before a campaign should be accountable for them during the campaign."I can understand the fear gripping both Comartin and Karygiannis. One is supporting Rae for the Liberal leadership, and the other undoubtably seeks to defend Ontario's only NDP premiership. Both men are scared that Canadians will be reminded of Bob Rae's record.There is no way to sugar coat Bob Rae's disastrous term as Ontario's premier. From 1991-1993, he raised income… Read More
Page 1 of 512345