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Posted by on in Economics

b2ap3_thumbnail_VIA-Rail.jpgFewer people are using VIA Rail, more trains are behind schedule, and the Crown corporation continues to bleed money by the millions: that’s what Canada’s Auditor General found when he took a close look at the passenger service this spring.

In 2014 VIA had revenues of $280 million, but spent $597 million in operating costs, plus another $82 million in capital projects (putting down tracks, etc.). That works out to a loss of $399 million, all of it covered by the government. 

So what did taxpayers get for their money?

Well, an economy ticket for a four-day trip from Vancouver to Toronto is roughly $500, but the true cost is $1,100, with the government chipping in the difference of $600.  Even with government subsidies of $55 million for the Vancouver-Toronto route, VIA Rail can’t compete on speed or price. In comparison an economy ticket for a flight on WestJet for the same route can be had for $300 and will take five hours. A bus ticket for a three-day Vancouver-Toronto trip is as little as $250. 

Government intrusion into the marketplace has left us with a business that is slower, more expensive, and costs hundreds of millions of Canadian tax dollars each year. Why, then, does VIA Rail still exist? Because every time they cut service on unprofitable routes, ticket buyers – those who get the bulk of their ticket price paid for by taxpayers – protest. And these squeaky wheels continue to get greased. 


Posted by on in Culture clashes

b2ap3_thumbnail_CRC_20160822-163616_1.jpgSame-sex “marriage” was on the agenda at the Christian Reformed Churches’ 2016 Synod this June. A committee struck in back in 2013 came back with a minority and majority report. Both agreed that CRC ministers would violate the CRC position on homosexuality if they officiated at a religious same-sex ceremony, but the majority report thought it could be okay for a pastor to officiate at a civil ceremony, so long as the couple agreed to remain celibate. 


The committee noted that it was “unusual, but not unheard of, for a pastor to receive a request to officiate at a civil ceremony.” Okay, but how often do we think a couple of guy friends (just friends, mind you!) are going to want to, in the eyes of the State, get married? 

Why, then, did the majority report raise this as an issue worth discussing? 

It’s called muddying the waters.


b2ap3_thumbnail_Euthanasia.jpgThe day after the government unveiled the draft of their euthanasia bill, a Toronto Sun poll ask readers, “Do you think the Federal Government’s proposed doctor-assisted death law is too restrictive?” Too restrictive? How so? What is, as columnist Andrew Coyne puts it, the Left's "chief complaint? That it does not include children and the mentally incompetent.”

The Toronto Sun’s poll question was an example of carefully parsed verbiage meant to lead readers in a very specific direction.  According to an old adage whoever frames a debate wins the debate. That’s why we’re called “anti-abortion” and “anti-choice” rather than “pro-life” – the other side wants to frame us as obstructionists and troublemakers. And that’s why the Sun wants this debate to be about whether the proposed law is “too restrictive.” It’s an attempt to frame the choice so it will be between going with the Liberal legislation as is, or going further. 

Neither option is acceptable and that’s not the debate that needs to be had. What we have to talk about is how very radical this bill is. That’s the word we need to use again and again, with maybe a crazy thrown in here and there. It is radical to:

  • assert some lives aren’t worth living.
  • require doctors become killers (either doing it themselves, or finding someone who will – there is no conscience protection in this bill).
  • encourage suicide rather than prevent it.
  • portray death as a medical treatment, not a tragedy.
  • craft a culture in which parents who require care from their children could now be viewed as selfish compared to other aged parents who took the “selfless” option of killing themselves.
  • remove the firm anchor that all lives are worth living and replace it with a standard that isn’t firm and won’t anchor anything – by what standard can we ensure this suicide option won’t be extended and extended and extended?

The Devil wants this discussion to be about whether this bill is “too restrictive.” As God’s people we need to shift the discussion to how devastating this bill is, how unloving, how devaluing, how arbitrary, how very radical the notion that some lives are not worth living. 

A word on winsomeness: we don’t need to scream these words. When we call it radical, we don't need it to come out as some sort of screed...though it would also be strange to talk about a life and death issue completely dispassionately. Thus to frame the debate properly we need to speak with passion, and also self-control. We need to present the choice as it really is, between going with this radical legislation, or returning to the sanity of acknowledging all life as precious. That's the real debate. We need to make sure it continues to happen.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_If-the-unborn-web.jpgIn the West we believe all people should be treated equally, no matter their age, race, religion, etc. But why is that? Why should we treat all people equally when, in any way you measure it, no two people are equal? We differ in size, intellect, strength, coordination, hearing, visual acuity, musical aptitude, and in the amount of hair we have left on our head. No two of us are the same so why should we get the same treatment?

In any other situation we don’t treat unequal things equally. We hang a Rembrandt up on a museum wall, while our kids’ efforts only make an appearance on the fridge. Both are art, so why don’t we treat them equally? We recycle our newspapers but save our dollar bills securely in banks. Both are printed paper so why don’t we treat them equally? 

Because they aren’t equal. 

So let’s ask the question again: if we don’t treat unequal things equally, and in any measurable way no two people are equal, why should we treat people equally?

The Christian answer


Posted by on in Uncategorized

b2ap3_thumbnail_Unjust-judge.jpgDuring the election campaign it wasn’t always clear who our next prime minister was going to be. What was clear was that no matter who won, the unborn were going to lose. We had a pro-choice prime minister going in, and we have one still. And the situation we face is that before we next go to the polls another half million children will be dead.

This is wickedness on a grand scale, but it’s also a routine sort of evil. It happens to one baby at a time, every couple of minutes or so, and during regular business hours. A boy, then maybe a girl, one after another, ripped from their mother’s womb, torn apart and the pieces collected. Just another profitable murder, efficiently executed, done at the insistence of the child’s parents and with the approval of this government and this prime minister.

We could see this result coming, but now that we’re here what’s to be done? Parliament is decidedly pro-choice, so does that mean we can’t do anything for the unborn legislatively? 

No. Jesus told the Parable of the Persistent Widow (Luke 18:1-8) during a very different time, and while He didn’t intend it first and foremost to serve as a guide to how best to engage in effective pro-life political action, it is that too. There once was a judge, Jesus tells us, “who neither feared God nor cared what people thought.” Living in the same town there was a widow in need of help, and her only means of getting justice was to turn to this judge. So what to do when faced with an unjust judge? 

“[She] kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”


At the start of 2015 the Reformed Churches of the Netherlands-Libeb2ap3_thumbnail_FRCA-2.jpgrated (RCN) had a sister-church relationship with both the Canadian Reformed Churches (CanRC) and the Free Reformed Churches of Australia (FRCA). That’s only half true now: at the FRCA’s synod this year the denomination decided to suspend their relationship with the RCN. 

What is the reason for this suspension? Well, at the FRCA’s previous synod in 2012 they decided to express to the RCN that they had serious concerns that the Dutch denomination was evidencing “a liberal way of interpreting Scripture.” Examples given included how the RCN was allowing one of their seminary lecturers to assert “creation to be a myth, along with much of Genesis 1-11.” Another related to how the RCN had adopted regulations that allowed for the amalgamation of RCN congregations with those of the Netherlands Reformed Churches (NGK). This was objectionable since the NGK have, since 2004, allowed women to be ministers, and they have also mandated a study as to whether practicing homosexuals may fill the offices of elder and deacon. 

The RCN didn’t heed this warning. Since there was no change the FRCA felt they had no choice but to suspend their relationship and warn the RCN that “if the next synod of the RCN in 2017 does not express and demonstrate evidence of repentance” then this sister relationship “will become untenable.” In other words, it will end.

In the meantime this suspension means that FRCA congregations will no longer automatically accept attestations from the RCN, and the denomination’s pulpits will no longer be open to RCN ministers.

While the CanRC has expressed its own concerns, at this point they are continuing on with their sister-church relationship with RCN. 



  • Silly, smart and smashing

    Folks at the Discovery Institute, an Intelligent Design think tank, have created an online video game (www.pandaID.notlong.com) in which you are a tank shooting at pandas that come out of the sky yelling anti-Intelligent Design slogans. This is very weird… and very fun.