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Theo Newman

David Cameron’s European Union affair

On October 24th the House of Commons in the United Kingdom resoundingly rejected a private member’s bill that would have called for a national referendum on whether the UK should leave the EU. The bill was tabled by Tory MP David Nuttall, after a petition on the issue received well over the required 100,000 signatures. All three major party leaders instructed their MPs to vote against the bill, with the Tories issuing a three-line whip, the harshest order a party can give, requiring all MPs to vote the party line. As expected, the motion failed when only 111 MPs voted for the motion. However, that included 81 Tory MPs who defied their party Whip, and voted with principle. The revolt is by far the biggest backbench rebellion David Cameron has faced since becoming Prime Minister, and has confirmed what many people already knew, that David Cameron is not a eurosceptic.      Ever since his election as party leader in 2005, many committed conservatives have doubted whether Cameron was actually ‘one of them’ or whether he was simply saying what he had to say to appease the vast majority of the Tory party, who are committed to conservative values and are sceptical about any sort of European integration. For any of those who still harboured delusions, Mr Cameron has finally come out of the closet.To a casual observer it would have seemed as though the 2010 election results were a failure for Cameron, because he was forced into a coalition with the progressive and pro-integration Liberal Democrats. However, in private, Mr Cameron was probably jumping for joy over the results, because they meant that he would be able to govern not just moderately, but actually on the left, which he has been doing quite well on most issues, including the EU.When the… Read More

Why the Pope is right about AIDS in Africa

This weekend Pope Benedict XVI will be making a three-day trip to the small West African country of Benin.  HIV and condoms will not be directly on the agenda during his visit, yet it will be impossible for the Pontiff to avoid these questions, especially after the infamous "Condom-Gate" incident that occurred during the Pope’s last visit to Africa in March 2009.  In a bite sized clip taken from a much longer answer to the question of AIDS and condoms the Pope said:“I would say that this problem of AIDS cannot be overcome merely with money, necessary though it is. If there is no human dimension, if Africans do not help [by responsible behaviour], the problem cannot be overcome by the distribution of prophylactics: on the contrary, they increase it….”This quote attracted a lot of attention and some very vicious attacks directed at the Pope by seemingly polite and level headed people.  The socialist Spanish government of Jose Zapatero sent a million condoms to Africa in protest.  Yet, when one looks at the empirical data, the Pope is right about the AIDS epidemic in Africa. Condoms are not helping the situation and are in fact making it worse.  Behaviour change and not distribution of prophylactics is the key to defeating HIV/AIDS in Africa. The HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa is unprecedented.  There are around 23 million people in Africa living with HIV/AIDS and millions have died as a result of the deadly virus.  Many people accuse the Roman Catholic Church of being responsible for this, with serious accusations being thrown towards the Pope calling for him to be arrested for "crimes against humanity."  To fight this epidemic two methods have developed over time, the first one being the condom code and the second one being ABC. The condom code insists on a sex… Read More

All Serious Conservatives Should get behind Mitt Romney

As the republican presidential primaries fast approach it is time that all conservatives started seriously considering who they want as their presidential nominee.  The race has so far been a very eventful one with many surprises, but as primaries in states such as Iowa and New Hampshire approach Republicans have to start deciding which candidate they want to challenge and unseat Obama. Much to the groans of many Republicans, the only viable choice has to be Mitt Romney and now is the time to admit it.Let me begin by stating that Romney is not my first choice.  Jon Huntsman is by far the best-qualified candidate and he has a very strong (and very conservative yet pragmatic) platform that includes intelligent economic policies with well thought out and genuinely conservative foreign policies. However, everyone knows Huntsman is not going to win the nomination and he has consistently polled at numbers that make him an insignificant candidate. There are two schools of thought within the Republican Party as to what type of candidate would be the best choice for 2012.   Some Republicans think that now is the time to nominate an ultra-conservative candidate; they smell blood and sense that Obama is weak.  For these people, 2012 is the best opportunity in a generation to nominate a ‘true conservative’. Others (including myself) think differently.  Although Obama is weak it is absolutely crucial that an electable candidate is chosen to run against him.  Obama is going to have to run a very negative campaign because he has no significant successes to show. Therefore his only viable strategy is to scare people into thinking that the consequences of having a Republican president are too terrifying to make them worth voting for. An ultra-conservative would make this strategy much easier. There are undoubtedly two Republican priorities in 2012.  Firstly, the overriding… Read More

Dr. Death?

There is a battle brewing in Canada over an issue that seemed to be settled nearly two decades ago.  In 1993 the Supreme Court decided in a 5-4 decision to hold that the prohibition of assisted suicide does not violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  Yet, a supposedly impartial report from a specially constituted committee to the National Assembly of Quebec has recommended changes to the law in order to allow for legally protected euthanasia. The report states that legalizing euthanasia is not a drastic change to the law, but merely an ‘incremental change’ to the law, and that euthanasia should simply be added to one of the many options for palliative care. And in November of last year an ‘expert’ panel concluded that provisions should be made to end the prohibition of euthanasia.  A case currently before the B.C Supreme Court is once more challenging the ban on euthanasia.  Gloria Taylor is a 63-year-old woman with the horrific neurodegenerative disease ALS, also called “Lou Gehrig’s disease”.  The push for legalized euthanasia comes even though just last year bill C-384, which would have legalized the practice, was overwhelmingly rejected by parliament 228 votes to 59. Those in favour of assisted suicide use cases like this one to create a very powerful argument, dragging people into the pro-euthanasia camp by appealing purely to emotion.  You will almost always hear the claim from those in favour of euthanasia that everyone has the right to die with dignity.  This may be great political rhetoric, but it really doesn’t hold up to any examination.  Since when did dying with dignity mean having your doctor inject a needle into your arm? What is dignified about having a lethal dose of poison injected into your bloodstream?  It is also often claimed that the decision to end one’s life… Read More

The war that must be fought

Prime Minister Stephen Harper recently attended the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia, a fitting location for a conference where drugs and the bloody war being raged around them were set for centre stage.  Harper was heavily criticized by many of his Central and South American counterparts for his refusal to entertain any discussion around an end to the ‘War on Drugs’ and legalization/decriminalization of illicit substances for recreational use.  This comes as no surprise.       Since outgoing Mexican President Felipe Calderon launched an all-out war against the powerful drug cartels in the country in 2006 the violence has increased dramatically, with around 50 000 deaths in Mexico alone.  Just as worrying is that the violence is spreading throughout Central America.  Guatemala in particular being heavily affected, and there are worries that Guatemalan political institutions, not as strong as their Mexican counterparts, will be unable to cope with the increasing pressure of the brutal and powerful drug cartels.  Even more worrying is that the violence has begun to spread to North America, with the murder of Arizona rancher Robert Krentz and an upsurge in gang violence in Vancouver just a few examples of how this war is getting uncomfortably close to home. The current policy initiatives being taken to address this problem clearly aren’t very effective.  Violence, drug abuse and lives destroyed as a result are not decreasing and significant. Increasingly, scholars, intellectuals and even leading politicians are telling us that decriminalization is the only viable way forward.  However, the reality is that the violence in these countries isn’t solely about drugs, and to argue that the violence in Central America could be ended with the legalization of drugs is a gross oversimplification and misunderstanding of the situation. Although the war on drugs itself has thus far failed, the war on drug… Read More
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