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{mosimage}It's almost impossible to think of a ruder present for Canada's 139th birthday. On July 1, the Governor General of Canada announced that Dr. Henry Morgentaler would receive the Order of Canada, the nation's highest honour.

It gets worse

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{mosimage}Over the last few months, we’ve been warning about the power of the federal and provincial human rights tribunals and their willingness to abuse this power to trample on the Constitution. Yet our fear was more about the potential for greater abuse, rather than existing practice.

However, events are moving more rapidly than expected — and for the worse. A decision by the Alberta Human Rights Commission represents the most flagrant abuse of constitutional rights yet demonstrated across the country.

Act of Contrition

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{mosimage}Hardly has there been a period in history in which our past sins have weighed so heavily on our shoulders. The enormity of humanity’s abuse of humanity — in fact of the entire planet — has never been so apparent to us.

So the mass apology has become an icon of our repentant age. Pope John Paul II used the apology to good effect, shining a light on the travesties of past church leaders, whether inflicted on women, indigenous tribes, religious dissenters or, in the case of the Holocaust, the Jewish people.

Declined with thanks

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The news last week that a huge donation (valued at $19 million for church and land) to build a church in the Greater Toronto Area from auto parts magnate Frank Stronach had been turned by the archdiocese of Toronto created some awkward moments. No one likes to walk away from such magnificent generosity; nor does a potential donor like to see his offer of a gift spurned.

From boys to men

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{mosimage}The Jesuits used to claim that if they could take charge of a boy’s education at age seven, they would turn out a fine mature man ready to serve God and country. Today, as we celebrate this Father’s Day, in much of industrialized society, the boys are still there, but the men are increasingly missing in action.

Accommodation Part II

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{mosimage}Last week, we offered some general comments on the report of the Bouchard-Taylor Commission on reasonable accommodation in Quebec. By and large, the commissioners used common sense and open-mindedness in dealing with very real tensions over religious and cultural differences between immigrants and older Quebec communities.

Common differences

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{mosimage}The release of the Bouchard-Taylor report May 22 on reasonable accommodation of religious and ethnic differences in Quebec offered a useful corrective to some of the alarmism creeping into public debate on this issue. As one of the first official and systematic examinations of how Canadians integrate newcomers into our midst, it holds valuable lessons for all of us.

Restoring credibility

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{mosimage}No one says being an Ontario Catholic school trustee in these times is easy. The vast majority of trustees recognize, too, that theirs is a vocation with few rewards and a grinding workload. So the temptation to ease that burden in questionable ways may be understandable — even as succumbing to it is never acceptable.

The party's over and the poor weren't even invited

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{mosimage}Economists — practitioners of the “gloomy science” — are gleefully telling us the party’s over. The boom times have disappeared, pffft, into thin air, replaced by recession and unemployment. But statisticians are now saying that most Canadians were not even invited to the party to begin with.

Thanks for 100 years

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{mosimage}A century ago, on Sept. 23, Msgr. E. Alfred Burke, a priest of the diocese of Charlottetown, started a small organization that would go on to do very big things indeed. It was the Catholic Church Extension Society of Canada, now known as Catholic Missions In Canada (see article here).

Freedom's foes

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{mosimage}If there is still any lingering scepticism among Canada’s opinion makers about the worrisome ambitions of the country’s human rights tribunals, it should be dispelled by the latest statement from Ontario Human Rights Chief Commissioner Barbara Hall.