February 5th, 2014 ~ Vol. 84 No. 5
Who's in Charge
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
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Feature Writer
Two news stories this past week demonstrate what happens when we don’t pay attention. When we ignore the fact that more and more interest groups with dangerous agendas are subverting our rights.

No, I’m not a conspiracy nut. Nor a left-wing fanatic. I take my prescribed medications and I try not to watch too many reruns of the X-Files. But I am certain that if we, the silent majority, continue to not pay attention, to not vote, speak up, protest, or agitate – that one morning we will wake up to discover that the democracy we love is ailing.

Like a cancer or virus that enters our body where we are weakest, single-minded interest groups have taken hold of our political structures. They push laws no one pays attention to, take over government committees no one attends, and lobby politicians with promises of riches and power.

In November of 2013, a young woman, 14- weeks pregnant, was found laying on her kitchen floor. Marlise Munoz, a Texas paramedic, was declared brain dead. Her husband and parents decided, based on Marlise’s own wishes, to turn off her life support.

You would think that was the end of the story. The patient made her wishes known, the parents and husband agreed, and the foetus was too undeveloped to survive. Well, this is Texas. And in Texas, The Advance Directives Act says that no one can withdraw life-sustaining treatment from a pregnant woman.

In other words, the rights of the foetus, no matter how young, override any other right. The deteriorating carcass of a once vital young woman must be kept “alive” until the foetus reaches maturity. As the Texas State Attorney put it, “There is a life involved, and the life is the unborn child.”

From the news reports, it seems that few in Texas were aware of the Act until the hospital used it as the basis for its refusal to turn off the life support. Obviously, the foetus right-to-life interest group had been successful in working hard behind the scenes to get their agenda into Texas law. Fortunately, their influence did not extend to the judicial system. On January 26, 2014, the State court ordered the hospital to unplug the life support, chastising the hospital administration for misapplying state law.

The second story is currently taking place in Quebec. The Parti-Quebecois is holding public meetings on its proposed Charter of Values. The Charter’s stated purpose is to ban conspicuous religious symbols. Except, of course, for the crucifix hanging in the Legislative building. Although it does apply to the niqab, the face veil worn by the woman cleaning the urinals.

The right-wing, conservative cabal behind the new legislation says the Charter is about protecting the public from overtly religious symbols, but that’s a lie. It is an attack on anyone other than white, Roman Catholic, Québécois. And even if the Quebec government is holding public meetings, the minister responsible for the Charter has bluntly stated that its passing is not up for debate.

I believe that anyone who covers their face, whether with a niqab, hoodie or ski mask, who won’t have their picture taken because if offends some deity, or wears monk’s robes, a muumuu or a cape when going through airport security, has to follow the same common-sense laws as other Canadians. It has nothing to do with religion. And if people don’t like it, don’t live here. But that has nothing to do with the Parti-Quebecois’ real agenda.

We often dismiss these news stories, thinking that what happens in Texas or Quebec doesn’t concern us. But it does. They are warning signs. Examples of what happens when single-minded interest groups, working behind the scenes, manipulate our democratic rights and hide their handiwork behind phrases like religious freedom, right to life and Charter of Values.

We need to pay attention. Some things are more dangerous than they seem.
February 5th ~ Vol. 84 No. 5
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