New Book

 

 

$21.95 hardcover · 224 pages
9978-1594037641-January 2015

PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY AT

www.amazon.com
www.amazon.ca
www.amazon.co.uk

The theme of The Great Divide is that the populations of the democratic world, from Boston to Berlin, Vancouver to Venice, are becoming increasingly divided from within, due to a growing ideological incompatibility between modern liberalism and conservatism. This is partly due to a complex mutation in the concept of liberal democracy itself, and the resulting divide is now so wide that those holding to either philosophy on a whole range of topics: on democracy, on reason, on abortion, on human nature, on homosexuality and gay marriage, on freedom, on the role of courts … and much more, can barely speak with each other without outrage (the favorite emotional response from all sides). Clearly, civil conversation at the surface has been failing -- and that could mean democracy is failing.

This book is an effort to deepen the conversation. It is written for the non-specialist, and aims to reveal the less obvious underlying ideological forces and misconceptions that cause the conflict and outrage at the surface -- not with any expectation the clash of values will evaporate, but rather that a deeper understanding will generate a more intelligent and civil conversation.

As an aid to understanding, the book contains a handful of Tables directly comparing modern liberal and conservative views across a range of fundamental moral and political “issues” so that curious readers can answer the book’s main question: “Where Do You Stand?” An interesting result in testing this exercise has been the number of people who find they “think” one way, but “live” another.    

 

Good Reading
Essays (37)
Tuesday
Feb212017

Our Faltering, But Still Great Legal System

        It needs criticism and ongoing improvement (and I outline some improvemets in Chapter Fifteen of The Trouble With Canada ...Still!, on the Law and the Constitution). But compared to the legal systems of other cultures? - No contest. Down wiht the myth that other cultures offer legal systems as good!

To Mother England, once again, we owe most of the freedoms from Statism, and the common-law rights that we too often take for granted (tho to be truthful, they have been undermined recently even there).

Superior is the British-based right to private property we have known since the twelfth century. Superior are the individual freedoms and rights to protection from Statism that were enshrined in Magna Carta in 1215, and improved and defended ever since (well, until 1982 in Canada).

Superior is the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty before a jury of peers or an independent judge!

Superior are the rights of citizens to legal appeal to higher courts!

Superior is the right of the poor to free counsel!

Other than Rome at the height of her glory (from whence also we have drawn much in the way of legal practice) no other system has ever provided its people with such a cultural fabric of superior legal rights and freedoms.

Indeed one of the supporting ribs of The Trouble With Canada ... Still! is the nation-defining contrast between the British-based common-law system, and the French-based code-law system, arguing for the superiority of the former. The practical reality that all who have thrown in their lot with the English bottom-up common-law system are free to do anything that is not prohibited by the law, is an extraordinary inheritance of the English people. We are presumed free by birth and by inherited right. This stands in stark opposition to the dictates found in so many top-down nations of history, where citizens are permitted only to do what is specified and allowed – or altered by judges - in a written code.

There is a huge difference in principle and in reality between a regime where you are deemed free by nature to do anything that is not prohibited, and one in which you can only do what is permitted!     

Monday
Feb202017

Dollar Democracy

Much of the first part of my book The Trouble With Canada ...Still! (2010) explains and praises what I have called “the tools of freedom and wealth creation,” and the remarks apply to the US and all other free societies.

To confess, I do not like much of what raw capitalism has produced. Ugly commercial sprawl, grating and incessant advertising, the sexualization of all human life, pornography for sale even in the swankiest hotels, a population taught that the best man is the one who dies with the most toys, and so on. On the other hand, compared to all the other systems – communism, socialism, fascism, the various dictatorships, and the mixed and mixed up systems of most other nations  - ours is amazing.

It supplies the ordinary citizen with largely unrestricted free choice in daily commercial life with respect to how to spend the fruits of personal labour. It is indeed a form of democratic capitalism, or what I have called a “dollar democracy” under which ordinary people make or break those who serve them well or poorly. Okay, we are half slaves to the State because we are forced to surrender up to half our earnings every year. Nevertheless, what I have called our Freedom System is exactly that. It is a superior system of private property rights, contractual rights, legal justice, protection against force and fraud, and investment opportunities large and small that enable the vast majority of people freely to guide their own lives economically, to their own ends, by their own means, in a culture more or less free of normative corruption. That is a unique, superior, universally-duplicable system that we owe to our unique history. We forget this at our peril. 

Sunday
Feb192017

Canada's Great Political System

My next few blogs will describe some of the things that make Canada great - and better than most other countries and cultures ( hope I do not get arrested for writing something so politically-incorrect!)

*******************

Our Great Political System

         I have many complaints about Canada, and out of love for my country have often aired these in writing. But I defend the historical fact that almost no other political system in history – and few for such a length of time – has produced such peace and prosperity combined, when it comes to influence over rulers, with the right of the people “to throw the bastards out.” That is a most lovely right, and a dear gift of our ancestors, to be venerated. Nor has any other system but ours defended to the death the most revolutionary idea of all: that all people everywhere have rights (and duties) that are independent of the culture in which they happen to find themselves. They are rights grounded, it is argued, in human nature, and not in any one culture. This was a claim and ideal of ancient Greek and Roman “natural law” as can be clearly seen in the works of such as Cicero. It was later a Christian claim and ideal spread by the Gospels (and most clearly articulated philosophically by Saint Thomas Aquinas), and it has found a vulnerable success wherever Western values have spread. Further, and despite all that may be reproached of our unique limited representative democratic system embedded in a constitutional monarchy, our right to express our individual views through elected Parliamentarians who in turn are checked by a loyal opposition, and a region-based Senate system (so as not to trample minority regions) – the whole jumble is a superior crowning glory! Included also are our many other inherited checks and balances on raw power. And so much of this we owe to Mother England. I defend all this as a superior system because no other people has ever produced anything as good. The oft-vaunted Greek and Roman democracies were slave-infested systems. Even the American republican system is not as good, as our founders well knew, because the Americans hold elections in which they castigate, vilify, and ridicule each other - we have just witnessed a feast of such frenzied abuse in the American 2016 election - and then, after all candidates have declared that all candidates are incompetent ... one of them is elected! Whereupon, all those who voted for the losers - sometimes more than half of all the people - find themselves unrepresented. But Canadians have a non-political Monarch who always represents and symbolizes them as one united people. Most Canadaisn are unaware that in this sense, the Prime Minister represents only the government of the people, not the people themselves. Only the Queen does that (or within Canada, the Governor-General). It is a superior and noble thing indeed to have a symbol of high decency representing all the people that cannot be touched by partisan politics! So do not pretend other systems are as good … or you may soon find yourself living under one of them!

 

 

Thursday
Feb162017

Romanticism & Multiculturalism: The Roots of Our Soft-Fascism

Romanticism – the Root of Fascism

            Romanticism began by favouring emotion over cold reason and particular local identity and experience over universal experience.  It was especially keen to repudiate the sort of French rationalism that was being imposed on most European nations as a political and even a snobbish cultural pattern. Napoleon had invaded the hundreds of loosely-allied principalities of what is now Germany and re-organized them politically and geographically along rationalist lines. Perhaps the most easily visible symbol of this trend, this rationalist domination, was imposed weights and measures and metrication. Rationalists hated the illogical local measuring systems of Europe – Pounds? Feet? Yards? Chains? Ells?They would eliminate them and impose the universal logical perfection of the metric system. But it was precisely this sort of rationalist homogenization, this threat to local identity that made people very angry. For what could be more human and organic, they said - more us! - than measurement by a foot, a thumb, an arm, a chain? They thought of culture as local, warm, organic, and human, in contrast to civilization which was rationalist, universalist, cold, and inhuman. Most of all, they correctly perceived metrication and all other such administrative tools as aids to State controls, taxation, and conscription.[1]

          In reaction to this homogenization, thinkers everywhere began repudiating all foreign models of universal human perfection that they had for too long been expected to mirror in their manners, thought, and arts. An entire generation of poets and artists began to adopt a more inward model, the metaphor for which was the lamp – the burning inner light of personal identity, and therefore of local, national, and above all, racially-authentic feeling. It was the European Romantic movement that set the tenor for all modern national fascist systems. It was there the distant die was cast even for Canada’s multicultural identity politics. Since the 1960s we have been enduring a Neo-Romantic age.    

           The German Johannes Herder (1744-1803) was Romanticism’s most notorious racial/cultural philosopher. Meditating upon the clash of cultures in the Baltic, he came to the conclusion “that every tribe and people was unfathomably and indestructibly unique.” What made them unique were mysterious “primary forces deep in the collective soul … each Nation represented a truth of its own, which was a compound of blood, soil, climate, environment, experience – in brief, race, geography and history. There was no universal criterion by which to judge nations … Men did not create a nation; a nation brought forth men.”[2] Implicit in this aspect and in all forms of socialism (whether national or international) is an attack on Western individualism and self-reliance, for socialism and fascism are one in conceiving of the individual as a product of unique social forces. Hence, all socialists and fascists attack the very notion of “individual rights,” believing that “if the culture is at the root of the individual’s identity and meaning, then the culture must acquire a mystical, even a God-like status.”[3]  

         Richard Wagner, the most notorious musician of this movement, invoked triumphalist German folk-life and warrior lore in his operatic extravaganzas. The most influential recent philosophical giant evoking this lore was the brooding philosopher from the Black Forest, Martin Heidegger. His wife sounded like one of our own multiculturalists when she said that fascists like herself and Martin had not committed “the fatal error” of believing in the equality of all human beings (for them, all races are uniquely different); rather, their whole struggle was “to recognize the diversity of peoples and races.”[4] These seekers of inner truth were arguing passionately that human identity burns with a profoundly local, racial, tribal, and national flame, and that the enemy of true identity is the philosophy of the French-type of universalism and internationalism. This, Herder had described as “the slime of the Seine.” This reaction was feeding the flames of national socialism and the Nazi program: Heidegger was for a time Rector of Freiberg University and the unofficial philosopher of the Nazi party. The party slogan intended to sum up “identity,” was Blut und Boden – “blood and soil.” I have developed arguments elsewhere that trace the course of this Romantic passion as it was shaped by the German philosophical reaction to Western thought, and how in politics it developed into fascism.[5]

               Without stretching the point, it seems clear that the recent, if now fading “post-modern” movement (which also repudiates all universal thought), and the moral and cultural relativism that accompanied it (which rejects all universal moral and cultural standards), found a confused - and confusing - home in Canada. In a 2006 Library of Parliament Research Report on “Canadian Multiculturalism,” the authors say that “As fact, ‘multiculturalism’ in Canada refers to the presence and persistence of diverse racial and ethnic minorities who define themselves as different and who wish to remain so.”[6] To this official extent, Canadian multiculturalism identifies and promotes separate racial and ethnic identities, and as such, it must be understood as a clearly-expressed nationalistic form of soft multi-fascism – a fascism not of a single race (as in War-time Germany) but of many races, or tribes. The history of classical political and moral liberalism in Canada is still, and will likely always be strong enough to inhibit any unitary fascism of the type seen in Europe. But if I am correct that soft multi-fascism is already present,  then we have begun a journey down  a potentially dangerous road.  At the least this means Canadian multiculturalism is an official racist doctrine.

           A recent social study by the University of Toronto confirms this predictable trend: compared with their parents, the second generation of visible minority immigrants now feels less, not more Canadian.[7] Professor Zheng Wu of the University of Victoria found that the higher the concentration of people from their own ethnic group in the neighbourhood, the less adult immigrants feel like they belong to Canada.[8] The prestigious Harvard sociologist Robert Putnam has vigorously underscored the fact that immigration and diversity are reducing social solidarity and social capital.”[9] In 2004 a Statistics Canada report revealed that whereas Canada had six “visible minority neighbourhoods” in 1981, by 2001 there were 254. Some time ago, the American Senator Huey Long warned, “When fascism comes to America, it will come in the name of democracy.” People will vote for it. Well, we voted, and it is here now, in a soft form. It is everywhere in the West under names like multiculturalism and diversity. Soft, but here, nonetheless.[10]               

 

 


[1] On this, see the fascinating work by James C. Scott, Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1998).

[2] J. L. Talmon, Romanticism and Revolt: Europe 1815-1848 (New York: W.W. Norton &Co., 1967), p.96 ff.

[3] Gene Edward Veith Jr., Modern Fascism: Liquidating the Judeo-Christian Worldview (St. Louis: Concordia, 1993), p.37.

[4] Cited in Gene Edward Veith, Jr., Modern Fascism, p. 134 [emphasis added].

[5] William D. Gairdner, The Book of Absolutes: A Critique of Relativism and a Defence of Universals (Montreal-Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2008), esp. Chap. 11, “German Philosophy and the Relativist Revolt Against Western Civilization.”

[6] See Michael Dewing, Marc Leman, Political and Social Affairs Division, Parliamentary Research Branch, Current Issue Review: “Canadian Multiculturalism, Revised March 16, 2006. This report is weakened by spurious assumptions with respect to Canada’s constitutional founding. For example, on p.2 the authors State that Canada’s English and French Founders “appointed themselves the official founders of Canada.”

[7] Jeffrey G. Reitz, Rupa Banerjee, Mai Phan, Jordan Thompson, “Race, Religion, and the Social Integration of New Immigrant Minorities in Canada” Munk Centre for International Studies, University of Toronto, September 2008 (contact: Jeffrey.reitz@utoronto.ca ).

[8] “Ethnic Enclaves Weak Link, Study Finds” (National Post, June 2, 2010).

[9] See Robert Putnam, E Pluribus Unum: Diversity and Community in the 21st Century, cited in Herbert Grubel, The Effects of Mass Immigration on Canadian Living Standards and Society (Vancouver: The Fraser Institute, 2009)

[10] A fascinating treatment of this historical and political trend is Jonah Goldberg, Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning (New York: Doubleday, 2007).  

Thursday
Feb092017

Canada's Phony Refugee System

There is currently much agitation in the USA over immigration and refugees. Canadians are prone to judge the American dust-up with a certain supercilious air, while knowing very little of the situation at their own doorstep. 

What follows is an except from Chapter Thirteen of The Trouble With Canada ...Still! (2010). I encourage visitors to this site to get the book and read the whole chapter. It is quite a shock. 

If things have changed, I suspect they have only gotten worse. 

******************

Phony Refugee Claimants

           The UN estimates that over 4 million human beings are smuggled into various countries each year, most of them by criminal organizations that reap over $7 billion from this enterprise. They are told: If you want to get into Canada fast, just lie. Tell the border officials you will be “persecuted” or tortured if you are forced to return home.

           In 1987, according to the Department of Immigration, more than 26,000 people claimed refugee status[1] in Canada. Based on the standard used by the United Nations Convention on Refugees, nearly 85 percent of the claims were found to be false. Such scandals have been known for a long time: in 1981, even our very liberal Immigration Minister Lloyd Axworthy complained of the 75,000 refugees we took in that year that “a lot of them are claiming they left for political reasons, but in fact it’s economic.”

          Nothing has changed. In 2002, citizens from 152 different nations many of which no other nation in the world but Canada would consider to be refugee-producing, claimed homeland persecution and therefore a right of asylum in Canada. How can this be? How can people who enter Canada illegally get away with naming almost every nation on earth as a place dangerous to life and limb? How soft-headed are we? Very: a Canadian federal court judge recently declared the United States of America “unsafe” for refugees! And … in December of 2004 Canada’s government passed a law enabling anyone charged with a capital offence in another country to seek legal asylum in Canada.  In this way, as former Canadian ambassador James Bissett put it, we “laid out the welcome mat for murderers.”

           I would say Canada is now in a tight spot on this score. We have signed UN treaties against torture, which prevent us from deporting phony asylum-seekers claiming homeland persecution, and we have passed laws saying that all “individuals” in Canada automatically have the full Charter rights and freedoms of citizens. Now there are obviously some very unsafe countries in the world, and we must always be open to helping genuine refugees according to our own capacities, as long as they do not overwhelm us. But the vast majority of asylum-seekers are economic refugees out “immigration shopping,” which means they are hunting for the country with the slackest entry conditions, the greatest number of free benefits, and the least likelihood of sending them back home. Having chosen Canada, they then choose to lie, break the rules, and jump the immigration queue under false pretenses. How false? Hard to say. Martin Collacott, former Canadian high commissioner to Sri Lanka informs us that “in one year alone, 8,600 Sri Lankans with refugee claims pending in Canada, applied to the Sri Lankan high commission in Ottawa for travel documents so they could go back to Sri Lanka for visits.” Most European nations now avoid this problem by refusing all refugee claimants from “safe” countries (those with a democratic system, a rule of law, etc). Canada proposed this idea as recently as 1989 but it was opposed by a self-interested immigration lobby (there is no other kind, it seems). At any rate, this is how Canada has become “a home away from home” for millions of people whom we subsidize to ensure their deepest identities here are still rooted in their countries of origin. 

             Since 1985, over 700,000 asylum seekers have entered Canada without proper scrutiny. Actually, with no scrutiny whatsoever.  Many of them are brought here with false documents by clever human smugglers, for large fees. Smugglers guarantee them at least a few years here, fully-paid by Canada’s government until their case reaches the front of the refugee-hearing lineup. But after a few years (if they get married and have a baby or two), it is unlikely they will get tossed out. Their offspring are automatically entitled to Canadian citizenship, and they are granted a full hearing, given tax-paid legal services, rights to appeal if denied entry, full medicare, dental, and social services, the lot. Canada remains the only western nation without any preliminary screening process for sorting out potentially deserving claims from those that are manifestly unfounded. At a cost of $10-$12,000 per year per claimant, estimates are that we spend a billion dollars per year dealing with this mess. One step we could take is to change the rules: Canadian citizenship should not be granted to immigrant children unless their parents are already Canadian.

             More shocking is the fact that although many thousands of phony refugee claimants are ordered to leave Canada each year … most of them don’t. In May 2008, Canada’s Auditor-General reported that there were 41,000 warrants of arrest outstanding on illegal immigrants. They are somewhere in Canada, but authorities do not know where. We do not know how many of them may have communicable diseases, or criminal records, or are terrorists.  Canada’s most notorious asylum seeker was “the Millennium Bomber” Ahmed Ressam who in reality was an Al-Qaeda operative. He lied when showed up in Canada, was admitted as a refugee, and was then caught crossing the border into the U.S. with a truck-load of high explosives. He was on his way to blow up the Los Angeles airport.  

 

Is “The Economy” a Good Reason for More Immigration?

          Many argue that because we have an aging society, a changing ratio of retirees to workers, and falling fertility rates, we need lots of immigrants or the economy will eventually go into a tailspin. This argument seems plausible - at first- because without sufficient bodies who will buy the food, rent the offices and retail spaces, buy the diapers, and so on? The prospect of a rapidly falling population is scary, and the looming demographic winter seems real. Canada’s own Annual Report on Immigration notes that immigration will be “a key source of workforce growth in the future.” But bad thinking has produced what looks like a false assumption.

           Canada’s first serious study of this question was carried out in 1985 by The Macdonald Royal Commission on “The Economic Union and Development Prospects for Canada.” Its conclusion was that “immigration did not contribute to economic growth, but in fact caused a decline in per capita income and real wages in Canada.”[2]

          Now the C.D. Howe Institute has warned (July 2009): “for Canadians to expect more, younger immigrants to counteract the effects of low past fertility on workforce growth and aging would be a serious mistake.”[3] The Institute’s sophisticated projections tell us that “only improbably huge increases” in “net” immigration rates (after subtracting all those who return home) of “more than 2.5 times” recent rates (600-700,000 new immigrants per year) have any chance to “offset” the consequences of lower past fertility. Even when “age filters” favouring much younger immigrants were plugged into the projections, they showed the need for a future Canadian population ranging between 60 and 200 million people before the current aging and falling fertility factors were neutralized. Projections relying on immigration flows to improve the economy tended “to produce explosive population growth, with ludicrous terminal numbers….” In the year 2050 Canada would need 7 million immigrants.

           The conclusion was that better and faster results could be achieved by raising the age of retirement from 65 to 70, boosting natural fertility rates from the current 1.5 children per women to 2.1, and increasing productivity (real output per worker) by 1 per cent. The authors also cite a major 2004 study of the European situation by the RAND corporation. It concluded that “immigration could do little to mitigate the challenges created by low fertility in the European Union” because, as in the numerous Canadian studies cited, “the momentum of the resident population largely overwhelms immigration’s influence.” More sobering: the United Nations Population Division has concluded that for Europe to rebalance its own demographic mixture to avoid eventual collapse it would require over 700 million immigrants by 2050 - more than the present population of the whole of Europe! [4]

          In his survey of Canadian immigration research, Martin Collacott points out that “the government’s own research” indicates that immigration plays a minor role in boosting the economy. “Overall economic performance of newcomers,” he writes, “has fallen below that of earlier immigrants and people born in Canada. A major reason for this is the priority given to family-class immigrants,” none of whom is required to bring any marketable skills to Canada, nor to speak either official language.[5] Underlining the problem of immigrant illiteracy, Frank McKenna of the TD Bank Financial Group said that the immigrant illiteracy issue is “sort of like boiling a frog, it's not … something that would alarm people, because it's not all that evident; we just gradually become poorer as a nation as a result of this loss of potential.”[6] Adding to the complexity is the fact that immigrants to Canada increasingly are coming from areas such as Asia where English and French are not native tongues (up to 40% of Canada’s new immigrants speak neither English nor French). The concern is that the economic wellbeing of newcomers has been deteriorating over the past twenty-five years, with unemployment and poverty levels significantly higher among immigrants than among Canadian-born citizens.

           In sum, too many immigrants arrive with no skills, no common language with which to engage with their host country, and immediately demand free social, medical, dental, and unemployment benefits. This phenomenon is all but international now and is causing some panic in many established welfare States because, as European analyst Martin Paldam found, “the traditions of protection of the weak cause adverse selection of immigrants, so that most are unskilled.” However, welfare States, he warns, only survive if they stand on an implicit compact: we all give, in order, if necessary, to receive. People will accept high levels of taxation if they believe recipients of welfare are like themselves: if they “have made the same effort to be self-supporting and will not take advantage.” However, “if values become extremely diverse in a diversified population, then it becomes difficult to sustain the legitimacy of a risk-pooling welfare State.”[7] In plainer words, if you set your country up to attract freeloaders – they will come.

          George Borjas of Harvard University (himself an immigrant) and perhaps the world’s most acknowledged authority on this question, echoes the findings of other major studies done since the mid-1980s by mainstream economists in Canada, the USA, Australia, and the UK: the only significant economic impact of immigration is to reduce the wages of native workers.[8] 

           In 2007 a Statistics Canada study, “Chronic Low Income, and Low Income Dynamics Among Recent Immigrants” revealed that notwithstanding the emphasis on education in the “skilled worker” category of immigrants, “their earnings in relation to native Canadians were significantly lower and continue to deteriorate.”[9] Professor Alan Green of Queen’s University has stated categorically that “the current political posture of using immigrants to solve economic problems is no longer valid.”[10] 

          To conclude: a recent study by economist Herbert Grubel of Simon Fraser University revealed that the 2.5 million immigrants who came to Canada between 1990 and 2002 received $18.3 billion more in government services and benefits in the year 2002 alone than they paid in taxes for that year! Grubel states that this amount was more than the federal government contributed to health care in 2000-2001, and more than twice what it spent on defence.

          And finally – let us bash the “Bigger is Better” myth. A bigger economy is not necessarily a stronger one. China, for example, has a huge economy because it has more than a billion people. But in per capita earnings it is around 100th in the world - whereas Canada is in the top ten. As long as a strong economy of any size continues to produce sufficient numbers of babies to maintain viable age-to-dependency ratios (ratio of born to dying, and workers to retirees), a country will remain stable. Small but strong stable economies such as those of Switzerland, Finland, the Netherlands, Austria, Singapore, and Hong Kong, do not have to be big. Neither does Canada.

 

 

Coming…  or Going? How Committed Are They to Canada?

            A 2006 Statistics Canada study revealed something rather astonishing. Many thousands of immigrants do not come here to become Canadian or make Canada their home: more than one-sixth of all immigrants who come to Canada return to their native countries within a year, and one-third within 20 years! So if over twenty years we took in 5 million immigrants, some 1,666,000 went back home. Any citizen forking over tax dollars to screen, interview, educate, and supply free government medical, legal, language training, and subsidized education services to admit millions of people to Canada as citizens in the first place, might be forgiven for getting a little angry at learning they take what they want from us and then go back home (not to mention the amounts of cash they send out of Canada while they are here. The bulk of the returnee-immigrants in the 25-45 age group are people who entered Canada in the “skilled worker” or “business” category; some 40% of all professional male immigrants leave Canada for good within a decade. Readers will be forgiven for thinking many of the immigrants who come are “citizens of convenience.” But do they know much about Canada’s deep culture? Would they die to defend Canada? Don’t hold your breath. If our own government tells us so many skilled workers and professionals are leaving, who stays?

         Canada is at war just now, and we have had a very proud history of immigrant warriors willing to fight and die to defend us. But is this true since multiculturalism took hold, that is, since we began subsidizing and encouraging immigrants to maintain their original identities? In “Who Fights and Dies for Canada?”[11] Douglas Bland, chairman of Queen’s University’s Defence Studies Program answers the question bluntly: “Young white men, that’s who fights.” Of the 133 Canadian to who died in the recent war against terror (as of January 2010) there were six soldiers from visible minorities. Despite significant efforts since 1982 to attract military personnel from all social groups, visible minorities - now at 16% of Canada’s total population - make up only 3.4% of Canada’s armed forces. But then, how many of Canada’s soldiers, visible or not, are from big cities? Either way, this race-divide further underlines the urban-rural civil war of values to be discussed below. Here is a more interesting question: if Canada went into a direct war today against say, an Islamic country: would our immigrant-citizens from that country fight with Canada, or against? In the past, when we insisted on assimilation and patriotic allegiance, we knew the answer. Today, it remains a question mark. I think all immigrants to Canada should be required to sign a Vow of Citizenship that among many other things would include a statement to the effect that in the case of a conflict or war with their country of origin, they would, if required, unhesitatingly defend and fight for Canada.

 

 


[1] The terminology, as explained by Martin Collacott, is as follows: Canada is the only country in the world that uses the term “refugee-claimant” as an exact equivalent of the term “asylum-seeker” used by other countries (i.e. someone who arrives on your soil and asks to be accepted as a refugee for permanent resettlement). When it comes to the general term “refugee,” our usage is the same as that of other countries: it refers to people who have fled their own country and are living somewhere else until they can either return home or are accepted for permanent resettlement somewhere else– usually with the help of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.

 

[2] From an article by James Bissett, former Ambassador and Executive Director of the Canadian Immigration Service,  “The Current State of Canadian Immigration Policy,” p.6, 2008

[3] Robin Banerjee and William B.P. Robson, “Faster, Younger, Richer?: The Fond Hope and Sobering Reality of Immigration’s Impact on Canada’s Demographic and Economic Future,” C.D. Howe Institute Commentary, no. 291, July, 2009.

[4] See Christopher Caldwell, Reflection on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West (New York: Doubleday, 2009), p.47.

[5] Martin Collacott, “Canada’s Immigration Policy: The Need for Major Reform,” in Public Policy Sources, The Fraser Institute, No. 64, 2003. 

[6]He is referring to the story of how if you drop a frog into a pan of boiling water, it will immediately leap out. But if you start with cold water and gradually raise the temperature, the frog will sit until it dies (National Post, Sept. 28, 2009).

[7] Martin Paldam, cited in Herbert Grubel, “Immigration and the Welfare State in Canada: Growing Conflicts, Constructive Solutions” Public Policy Sources No. 84 (Vancouver: The Fraser Institute, September 2005), p.24ff.

[8] See George Borjas, Heaven’s Gate: Immigration Policy and the American Economy (Princeton University Press, paperback, 2001).

[9]  James Bissett, “The Current State of Canadian Immigration Policy,” p.7, 2008. From Statistics Canada Catalogue No. 11F009MIE – 2007198.

[10] Cited in Herbert Grubel, ed., The Effects of Mass Immigration on Canadian Living Standards and Society (Vancouver: The Fraser Institute, 2009), p. 9.

[11] National Post, Nov. 7, 2009

Monday
Jan302017

How I Reversed My Vascular Disease

                      Let me begin with what will strike anyone familiar with the matter of vascular disease as an heretical statement:  I am fairly certain that my vascular disease is in the process of reversing, as the numbers at the end of this brief story seem strongly to indicate. So I want to share this story, because if my personal experience is tested and proven in a sufficiently rigorous way with a large group of subjects, the consequences for the relief of human suffering would be quite astonishing.

                    I first began limping, due to a very painful left calf muscle, at the age of 73 on a beautiful spring day in 2014. I was on the way to our mailbox at the end of a long country driveway when it began, and I thought -  "A charley-horse.  It will heal soon.  No problem."  But it lasted for three months. At one point, I couldn't walk for more than a hundred yards without needing to rest until the pain went away, and for a former Olympic athlete who has kept physically active at a very high level all his life, this was rather disconcerting.

                     After a basic ultrasound scan, I got the bad news that despite a good diet and lifelong participation in endurance sports, I had serious vascular disease in both legs, and I ended up with the top vascular specialist at Toronto General Hospital.  More serious scans followed.  Meanwhile, the limping had stopped, which was a great relief. But the specialist warned: "This is a progressive disease, it will be back." Until then, I was to see him annually for ultrasound monitoring to track the rate of narrowing of my arteries. So I went home a little shocked and depressed, but was soon all over the internet and Google Scholar, looking for good research on this disease in the best medical journals. What I found out, and what I did, in the somewhat desperate hope of at least stalling, if not reversing this condition, amounts to a rather surprising story.

             It is a story about dynamite, the Nobel prize, and a substance produced by the human body called Nitric Oxide (the chemical symbol is NO). Alfred Nobel, who suffered from heart disease, and died of it in 1896, had been informed by his company doctor of the curious fact that of their  many thousands of employees, the hundreds who were being monitored for their angina, had remarked how they felt much better when at work, than at home on the weekends. Nobel's many factories produced dynamite, which is made with nitroglycerin, which emits Nitric Oxide as a gas. The company doctor realized there was some mysterious connection between this gas, which permeated all the factories, and the relief of angina. So he begged his boss to go into the factory and breathe some in daily. But Nobel refused, insisting that nothing so destructive as dynamite could possibly heal the sick, and soon thereafter, he died, aged 63.

                  This interesting and ironic tale is related in a little book by Dr. Louis Ignarro, entitled NO More Heart Disease, to which I was led by my own research in the medical journals . The "NO" in the title is a play on the chemical symbol for Nitric Oxide.  It happened that Drs. Louis J. Ignarro, Robert F. Furchgott, and Ferid Murad were jointly awarded The Nobel Prize in Physiology/Medicine in 1998, "for their discoveries concerning nitric oxide as a signalling molecule in the cardiovascular system." Why was that important? Because the small amounts of Nitric Oxide that are produced naturally by the human body have the effect of relaxing the lining of arteries and blood vessels. This in turn improves blood flow, lowers blood pressure, alleviates limping, and other clinical symptoms of vascular disease.

               So the hunt was on for ways to boost the body's own supply of Nitric Oxide.  It soon became clear that some natural amino acids such as L-Arginine, which are found in red meats, poultry, fish and dairy products, boost the body's own production of Nitric Oxide.  Experiments have shown that patients put on an intravenous drip of L-Arginine get an immediate boost of Nitric Oxide, which dilates all their blood vessels and arteries. But feeding people pounds of these foods, or hooking them up to an IV drip all day is impractical.

                 So in his book, Dr. Ignarro recommended taking a combination of NO supplements and anti-oxidants in what I call the "Ignarro cocktail." This is a combination of L-Arginine powder (which can be made in a lab. He recommends up to 6 grams/day), L-Citrulline (750 mg/day), and the anti-oxidants Folic Acid and Alpha-Lipoic Acid. So, in a hopeful, but I admit highly skeptical frame of mind, I bought all these powders and pills, and have been taking them daily for two years.

                  Just before I began this solo experiment, within minutes of cycling up a moderate hill, I was getting extremely sharp ischemic pain in the front-thigh areas of both legs (specifically, in the rectis femoris and vastus medialis muscles). This was so painful I actually considered giving up the cycling I have loved for four decades. However, within a month of taking this daily cocktail - and I am speaking now as a natural-born skeptic - I was simply astonished to find that on the same hill, same rate of pedal rotation, same gearing - my intolerable pain had reduced to a bearable level, and nothing I could do by way of more intense effort could produce the former acute pain.  As a clinical fact,  an effect of this magnitude, and so soon, was simply hard to believe. Now I was more determined than ever to stay on the cocktail.

                 After one year of this self-treatment, I underwent the exact same ultrasound scanning as the first year. These scans measure the speed of blood through the arteries. When you pinch a hose, the water speeds up. Similarly, when an artery is narrowed by vascular disease, the blood-flow speeds up, and the speed is expressed in the number of centimeters the blood flows per second. The result is called "Peak Systolic Velocity," or PSV, and to my ever-hopeful but cautious delight, after one year on the Ignarro Cocktail there were some improvements (lowered blood-flow speeds) in parts of my right leg, which had the least disease. This was dismissed as an insignificant random variation by my vascular specialist and his staff. But I thought otherwise, because by this time, after a year of self-treatment, my sharp thigh pains had almost completely vanished from both legs. So I decided to stay on the Cocktail for another year.

                 In December of 2016, more than two years after my first baseline ultrasound, and after 24 months of daily boosting of my Nitric Oxide levels, I had my third ultrasound, and the rather astonishing results shown below popped out of the scanner. The 2016 column for each leg gives the PSV numbers for all ten sites scanned on each leg, and upon seeing them, my jaw dropped. I just couldn't believe what I was seeing.  The medical intern who reviewed these results with me was also staring at the results, rather speechless. She couldn't believe her eyes, either.  Significantly lower PSV speeds in 17 of the 20 sites scanned in my legs, for some of them, more than 40%? Might this have resulted from a change in my blood pressure compared to the last scan? But we checked. The blood pressure was exactly the same on both scans. So she ran out of the room to get the vascular specialist. I waited, somewhat stunned. Did I dare believe that the solo experiment on which I had embarked was not just slowing, or stalling, the progress of this terrible disease, but perhaps (could it be?), it was actually reversing it?  Unheard of!

                  My specialist appeared, with an appropriately skeptical scientist's demeanour. Then he studied my PSV numbers, looked at the improvement in 16 of the 20 "wave-form" numbers, and then at the fact that the plaque in my aorta has almost disappeared, and said: "These numbers are significant." He then asked more detailed questions, took notes on what I have been doing, wondered out loud what this might mean, said a solo experiment is of course inconclusive, but still ... "these are great numbers."  Then he was called away to care for another patient. Meanwhile, I went home, wondering if this could be the match that would light a fuse for further research - work that could possibly alleviate the suffering of millions.

                  Vascular disease is due to some combination of lifestyle and genetics. I don't know exactly what. But I will continue with this regime for another year in the hope of further reversal. I will also do my best to spread this news in the hope that others who suffer from vascular disease may benefit. 

                   If anyone reading this has knowledge of vascular disease experts who may be able to help substantiate this experience by way of setting up a controlled experiment, please forward this story to them, and ask them to feel free to contact me if they wish. 

                                                                 **************

                                                          My  Vascular Ultrasounds    

Blood flow is expressed in Peak Systolic Velocity (cm. per sec.). The 2016 column tells the story.  I can't seem to align the columns precisely. But you get the idea ...                             

                                                      Right Leg                                                          Left Leg                      

                                              2014     2015         2016                          2014        2015       2016      

                                                ________PSV_______     %/+-             ________PSV_______        %/+-

common iliac prox.              136        129           148    ( +15)              127        155        135          (-13)

external iliac distal              170        176            134    (-24)                155        164        123          (-24)

common femoral                154         122            152   (+26)                118         120          80         (-33)

profund femor. prox            238          265             64    (-76)                163        160          121       (-24)

superfic. fem. origin            116          116            68    (-41)                   54          65            67        (0)

"                 "      mid          150          109            83    (-24)                   83        118            77       (-35)

"                  "     dist           167           138          50    (-64)                  418       438          353        (-19)

popliteal prox                         93             78          66   (-15)                     61         84             56        (-33)

anterior tibial DP                    57             86           51   (-41)                    42        88             78         (-11)

posterior tibial PT                   43             62              45   (-27)                  33        58             28         (-52)

Overall percentage change:               Right Leg:    (-29.7%)                                             Left Leg: (-24.4%)

Average Decline in PSV, Both Legs combined:                                     (-27%)

* Aorta Scan.  For 2014, the technician reported:  "web-like plaque noted in distal aorta with turbulent     flow."  For 2015, the same technician reported: "Unable to document previous web-like plaque."  For 2016, another technician reported: "only minor plaque"

Comment: This Table of PSV results seems to show that by the time of the 2015 scan, after a year of self-treatment,  the disease was still progressing in the worst (left) leg, but was beginning to reverse in least blocked (right) leg. But ... one year later, the disease seems to be reversing in both legs.

Wave Forms: The Wave Forms also improved, compared to the year prior, in 17 of the 20 sites scanned.