Stories for the Left Column of the Columns Page
Does creating jobs for Canadians rate higher than respecting human lives and human rights in Saudi Arabia? The Canadian government would seem not to care. Federal government approval of a $15-billion arms deal with the Saudis last year was given without performing a required assessment of the country's human rights record. The government proudly announced the sale of light armoured vehicles (LAVs), known colloquially as tanks. But when researcher Ken Rubin dug into the sale, the department of foreign affairs gave no evidence that it is monitoring human rights in the oil-rich country and said it has not assessed the human rights situation there for the past two years.
Read the rest of entry »
Anti-religious secularism would appear to have won the game in Western civilization. The highest value today, a value which cannot be questioned, is that of human freedom. The autonomous individual is king (or queen) in our culture, and any societal force which attempts to limit that autonomy is playing a reprehensible game. The Church - the Catholic Church above all - is, not without reason, cast as the main opponent of the culture of individualism. It is the Church, so the theory goes, that "imposes" moral obligations and duties on its flock and would like to do so for the whole of society.
The role of a university president is varied and always interesting. I can truly say I was prepared for the bulk of the issues that have come my way, but there are still some that have caught me by surprise. Sometimes an issue can emerge that is so unexpected that it leaves me speechless. One of the most unusual matters I dealt with last year was a formal complaint about our answering service.
The election of Alberta's first New Democratic Party government promises to usher in a period of political change which will be both exciting and uncertain. We have heard many times in recent weeks that business does not like uncertainty, but uncertainty is a normal part of democracy. While thanking all those MLAs defeated in the May 5 election for their years of public service, we also congratulate Premier Rachel Notley and her new government. That government, we hope, will be guided by four basic principles:
A farmer hired a man to work for him. He told him his first task would be to paint the barn and said it should take about three days to complete. But the hired man was finished in one day. The farmer set him to cutting wood, telling him it would require about four days. The hired man finished in a day and a half, to the farmer's amazement.
As if we don't have enough to worry about with weapons already in existence, the "killer robot" weapons of the future demand our attention now. The Holy See thinks so and has released an impressive document attempting to convince the international community to ban these weapons before they become part of the growing arsenals of nations. Killer robots are known more formally as lethal autonomous weapons systems, that is, weapons that select their own targets without any human control. Such systems would challenge the relationship between human beings and the application of force.