Tuesday, 7 February 2017

PM's backtracking on electoral reform a positive move

Those who want to manipulate the present voting system are seeking after un-earned power...admit it.   However, the consequences of varied formulas, will be poorer governance for the country, and that should matter more than anything else.   Our nation would not be better off, and likely could descend to political weakness with jigged systems.   The international challenges are too great, for Canada to shoot itself in the foot.   The recent issue began with the big lie, that the voting system was broken and needed "reform".   Our voting system works just fine, and Elections Canada has sufficient power to tweak things along the way.  We must be vigilant about ‘what’ is being proposed, as well as ‘who’ is doing the proposing.  PF

* * * * * * *

PM's backtracking on electoral reform a positive move

Lydia Miljan  -  Taylor Jackson   Vancouver Sun  February 2, 2017

The federal government is walking away from its campaign promise to change the way Canadians vote in federal elections. In his recently released mandate letter to Karina Gould, the newly appointed Minister of Democratic Institutions, Prime Minister Trudeau said that “changing the electoral system will not be in your mandate.”

The prime minister justified his change in attitude by saying that “a clear preference for a new electoral system, let alone a consensus, has not emerged. Furthermore, without a clear preference or a clear question, a referendum would not be in Canada’s interest.”

Changing the electoral system was always going to be a complicated task. Had a referendum taken place — and it should have — Canadians needed to fully understand that while there may be benefits to other electoral systems, there are also drawbacks.

Consider a proportional representation (PR) system, which the special parliamentary committee recommended in December. While many may know about the potential benefit of distributing seats in parliament more closely to vote shares, there are also costs.

For example, a recent study found that a move to PR would likely lead to higher government spending and larger deficits (borrowing) in Canada. Indeed, the study found that the average size of central governments from 2000 to 2014 in countries with PR was almost 25 per cent larger than in countries with majoritarian/plurality election rules similar to what Canada currently employs. The study also found that PR countries tend to finance this extra spending by running larger deficits.

The reason why a PR system would lead to more government spending and higher deficits is that PR systems tend to elect more parties to the legislature, thereby increasing the likelihood for coalition governments. In order to form coalitions, larger parties must gain the support of smaller parties, often by capitulating on their main issues, which leads to higher levels of government spending.

Moreover, smaller parties in PR systems are able to exert a disproportionate amount of power at the expense of the preferences of the majority of voters who didn’t vote for such parties.  

Consider the drawbacks of another system — the alternative vote (AV) or ranked ballots — which was also a reform option. This system has the potential to reduce competition in our elections, a key attribute of a healthy democratic system.

For example, another recent study examined the impact of adopting AV electoral rules on Canada’s seven federal elections between 1997 and 2015.

The study found that only one party — the Liberals — would have gained seats in every election. In fact, they would have gained an average of 19 seats per election. To a lesser extent, the NDP would have increased their seat totals in more recent elections. Only the Conservatives would have lost seats every election.

The study also found that AV electoral rules would have changed the outcomes in a number of elections, including in 2006 when instead of a Conservative minority government, the Liberals would have won a minority.  

Before any changes are made, or any referendums held, on this issue, Canadians must understand that many of the proposed alternatives come with drawbacks. Changing the electoral system in a hasty manner was never going to be in the interest of Canadians.

The government should be congratulated for its willingness to make a tough political decision that is in the best interests of all Canadians.

Lydia Miljan is an associate professor of political science at the University of Windsor and a senior fellow at the Fraser Institute. Taylor Jackson is an analyst at the Fraser Institute.

Friday, 3 February 2017

Donald Trump spoke in Washington DC on Thursday Feb 2, 2017.

Donald Trump spoke in Washington DC on Thursday Feb 2, 2017.   Below is an edited portion of the transcript.  You will never see this on CBC, even though the CBC played some other comical parts where Trump was joking around.
Trump said: This gathering is a testament to the power of faith, and is one of the great customs of our nation.    I hope to be here seven more times with you.
But most importantly, today I want to thank the American people.   Your faith and prayers have sustained me and inspired me through some very, very tough times.   All around America, I have met amazing people whose words of worship and encouragement have been a constant source of strength.
What I hear most often as I travel the country are five words that never, ever fail to touch my heart, that's "I am praying for you." I hear it so often, I am praying for you, Mr. President.
No one has inspired me more in my travels than the families of the United States military. Men and women who have put their lives on the line everyday for their country and their countrymen.  I just came back yesterday, from Dover Air Force Base, to join the family of Chief William "Ryan" Owens as America's fallen hero was returned home.
He died in defense of our nation.  He gave his life in defense of our people. Our debt to him and our debt to his family is eternal and everlasting. "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."   We will never forget the men and women who wear the uniform, believe me.
From generation to generation, their vigilance has kept our liberty alive. Our freedom is won by their sacrifice and our security has been earned with their sweat and blood and tears. God has blessed this land to give us such incredible heroes and patriots. They are very, very special and we are going to take care of them.
Our soldiers understand that what matters is not party or ideology or creed, but the bonds of loyalty that link us all together as one. America is a nation of believers.  In towns all across our land, it's plain to see what we easily forget -- so easily we forget this, that the quality of our lives is not defined by our material success, but by our spiritual success.
I will tell you that and I tell you that from somebody that has had material success and knows tremendous numbers of people with great material success.   Many of those people are very, very miserable, unhappy people.
And I know a lot of people without that, but they have great families.  They have great faith; they don't have money, at least, not nearly to the extent; and they're happy.  Those, to me, are the successful people, I have to tell you.
I was blessed to be raised in a churched home. My mother and father taught me that to whom much is given, much is expected.  I was sworn in on the very Bible from which my mother would teach us as young children, and that faith lives on in my heart every single day.
The people in this room come from many, many backgrounds.  You represent so many religions and so many views.  But we are all united by our faith, in our creator and our firm knowledge that we are all equal in His eyes.  We are not just flesh and bone and blood, we are human beings with souls.  Our republic was formed on the basis that freedom is not a gift from government, but that freedom is a gift from God.

It was the great Thomas Jefferson who said, the God who gave us life, gave us liberty. Jefferson asked, can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God. Among those freedoms is the right to worship according to our own beliefs. That is why I will get rid of and totally destroy the Johnson Amendment and allow our representatives of faith to speak freely and without fear of retribution. I will do that, remember.
Freedom of religion is a sacred right, but it is also a right under threat all around us, and the world is under serious, serious threat in so many different ways. And I've never seen it so much and so openly as since I took the position of president.
We have seen unimaginable violence carried out in the name of religion. Acts of wantonness.   Horrors on a scale that defy description.   Terrorism is a fundamental threat to religious freedom.   It must be stopped and it will be stopped.  It may not be pretty for a little while.  It will be stopped.
Things will be different.  We have seen peace loving Muslims brutalized, victimized, murdered and oppressed by ISIS killers.   We have seen threats of extermination against the Jewish people.  We have seen a campaign of ISIS and genocide against Christians, where they cut of heads.  Not since the Middle Ages have we seen that.   They drown people in steel cages.   Nobody's seen this for many, many years.
All nations have a moral obligation to speak out against such violence.   All nations have a duty to work together to confront it and to confront it viciously if we have to.
So I want to express clearly today, to the American people, that my administration will do everything in its power to defend and protect religious liberty in our land.   America must forever remain a tolerant society where all face are respected and where all of our citizens can feel safe and secure.
We have to feel safe and secure.  In recent days, we have begun to take necessary action to achieve that goal.  Our nation has the most generous immigration system in the world.  But there are those that would exploit that generosity, to undermine the values that we hold so dear.  We need security.
There are those who would seek to enter our country for the purpose of spreading violence, or oppressing other people based upon their faith or their lifestyle; it’s not right.  We will not allow a beachhead of intolerance to spread in our nation.  You look all over the world and you see what's happening.
So in the coming days, we will develop a system to help ensure that those admitted into our country fully embrace our values of religious and personal liberty; and that they reject any form of oppression and discrimination.  We want people to come into our nation, but we want people to love us and to love our values, not to hate us and to hate our values.
We will be a safe country, we will be a free country and we will be a country where all citizens can practice their beliefs without fear of hostility or a fear of violence.   America will flourish, as long as our liberty, and in particular, our religious liberty is allowed to flourish.
America will succeed, as long as our most vulnerable citizens -- and we have some that are so vulnerable -- have a path to success.  And America will thrive, as long as we continue to have faith in each other and faith in God.

That faith in God has inspired men and women to sacrifice for the needy, to deploy to wars overseas, and to lock arms at home, to ensure equal rights for every man, woman and child in our land.   It's that faith that sent the pilgrims across the oceans, the pioneers across the plains, and the young people all cross America, to chase their dreams.   They are chasing their dreams; we are going to bring those dreams back.
As long as we have God, we are never, ever alone.  Whether it's the soldier on the night watch, or the single parent on the night shift, God will always give us solace and strength, and comfort.   We need to carry on and to keep carrying on.
For us here in Washington, we must never, ever stop asking God for the wisdom to serve the public, according to his will. That's why President Eisenhower and Senator Carlson had the wisdom to gather together 64 years ago, to begin this truly great tradition.   But that's not all they did together.  
Let me tell you the rest of the story.   Just one year later, Senator Carlson was among the members of Congress to send to the president's desk a joint resolution that added, "Under God," to our Pledge of Allegiance.  It's a great thing.  Because that's what we are, and that is what we will always be, and that is what our people want; one beautiful nation, under God.
Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America. Thank you very much. Thank you.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Anti-Semitism still alive in BC

Can one believe that in 2017, a Canadian Institution of higher learning is still engaged in Anti-Semitism, discrimination, and a follower of fake news etc.   There was a polite protest, and in response, a very weak apology and correction.   However, one must ask what is in the water that this institution is drinking.   Where do such outrageous attitudes come from?   There is a deep problem.   We are not living in 1933 Nazi Germany.   Certainly, social awareness, human decency, and human rights laws, have evolved since then?   I suppose not, at the Island School of Building Arts (ISBA) British Columbia.   Since when did hate behaviour require “significant thought and listening to all interested parties” for corrective action? PF

from CIJA

Dear Supporter:

This morning, I was absolutely outraged to read the news that an Israeli applicant to the Island School of Building Arts (ISBA) in British Columbia was told that it was refusing all applications from Israel due to “conflict and illegal settlement activity in the region”.

In my thirty years of working for our community, I have never come across a single incident of a Canadian school adopting such a policy. This is why I wanted to ensure we had an accurate understanding of the facts of the incident. CIJA’s team in Vancouver quickly contacted the school to express our deep concern and determine if the school had a policy of boycotting Israeli applicants.

Shockingly, in its reply to CIJA’s intervention, the school openly admitted that they boycotted Israeli applicants – and that they are reversing this policy immediately. The final exchange between the school and our Pacific Region Director, Nico Slobinsky, may be read below.

This incident has seized and unified our community, and we note that other community organizations engaged and took action parallel to our efforts. While we are pleased that swift intervention has led to a positive outcome, this incident is emblematic of the dangers of BDS. I won’t mince words: this was a disgusting and shameful attempt to ban an Israeli simply for being Israeli. We cannot and will not let such blatant discrimination go unchallenged.

This incident also affirms the importance of relationship-building with elected officials at all levels. We are thankful that we have such a strong champion for expanding BC-Israel ties in the Government of BC. We have raised this matter with officials in the BC Ministry of Advanced Education. We will update them accordingly, continue to voice our alarm regarding the fact that this school had such a policy in the first place, and explore additional avenues of accountability.

At the same time, the rapid nature of today’s developments reminds me that the world moves faster than ever before. In a digital age in which a single individual or incident can garner international headlines in minutes, it is more important than ever that we remain vigilant and strategic in identifying, exposing, and confronting those who seek to isolate the Jewish State. 

Sincerely, Shimon Koffler Fogel   CIJA CEO


Response from the Island School of Building Arts

Mr. Slobinsky,

After significant thought and listening to all interested parties, ISBA has decided to rescind any restriction placed on accepting students from Israel and apologize for any inconvenience.

ISBA remains acceptant to all and will continue to do so without restrictions.

Regards  Patricia Rokosh


Letter from CIJA to the Island School of Building Arts

We write to express our deep concern about emerging reports on print and social media to the effect that an Israeli student has been denied an application to study at your school due to “conflict and illegal settlement activity in the (Middle East) region”. If this is indeed the case, we would like you to inform us of how and by whom was this decision made? It appears that ISBA is actively discriminating against Israeli nationals based on their place of origin, ancestry, and/or religion.

The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) is a national, non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of Jewish life in Canada by advancing the public policy interests of Canada’s organized Jewish community. We combat antisemitism and discrimination in all its forms and advocate for fundamental rights and freedoms.

We look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

Respectfully Yours, Nico Slobinsky  Director, CIJA, Pacific Region

Jason Z. Murray  Pacific Region Chair, CIJA

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Friday January 27th, is International Holocaust Remembrance Day.  As Co-Presidents of the Canadian Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Descendants (CJHSD), a CIJA affiliate, we personally invite you to help us commemorate the victims of the Shoah. 

CJHSD has joined CIJA and the World Jewish Congress in what will be the largest global Holocaust commemoration ever. Please join hundreds of thousands around the world who have already participated in the We Remember campaign. It’s easy. Just take a photo of you, your family and your friends holding a sign that says ‘We Remember’ and then share it on social media with the hashtag #WeRemember. You can download a sign here.   http://www.cija.ca/we-remember-campaign/

We, the Survivors, remember. How can those of us who witnessed firsthand the most barbaric and horrific acts against our people ever forget? We also remember, with gratitude, the many families who were honoured as Righteous Among the Nations for their courage and heroism. 

As the number of Survivors dwindles, it is more important than ever that the horrors of the Shoah remain present in the public consciousness so they are never repeated. As Survivors, we’ve drawn enormous strength from the outpouring of support demonstrated through commemoration activities in Canada and around the world.

We must pass the torch of remembrance to the next generation. Please reach out to friends, schools, churches, synagogues, youth organizations, and community leaders and encourage them to participate in the We Remember campaign.   

Together, let us renew our collective vow: Never Again. 


Hank Rosenbaum and Sidney Zoltak

Co-Presidents, Canadian Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Descendants (CJHSD)

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Rona Ambrose Speaks  

January 2017  Rona Ambrose   Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada
With the arrival of a new year comes a certain level of optimism and excitement for what lies ahead.
But troubling news has come to light that I felt compelled to share with you.   News that not only affects us, but future generations of Canadians.
Remember when Stephen Harper warned us that Justin Trudeau would let deficits spiral out of control?  The Liberals laughed!   They said it was preposterous – all they were proposing were “modest” deficits of “only” $10 billion per year.
But over the Christmas break, Finance Canada quietly released their latest long-term economic and fiscal forecast.   What’s in store for Canadian taxpayers now?  Annual budget deficits for the next quarter century.
Analysts predict the bigger deficits could lead to the collapse of our economy.   In 2015, our Conservative government proudly balanced the budget. Since then, Trudeau has implemented terrible fiscal policies.   This will culminate in $1 trillion in federal debt in the next 15 years.   And $1.5 trillion by 2050.   Not so funny now, is it?   It is often easy to disregard the content of these emails as just regular politicking, business as usual.   But this is something new.   
The seriousness of what Justin Trudeau is doing to our country can’t possibly be understated.   He is mortgaging the future of our country.   He is saddling our children, and their children, with debt.  (it has to be paid back with interest which can crowd out money needed for health-care and pensions)
Help us to bring fiscal common sense back to Ottawa.   Our Conservative policies allowed us to balance the budget in 2015.   And we had a plan to erase Canada’s debt within 25 years.   But now we’re facing generations of debt.   And for what?   Trudeau’s promised infrastructure projects are at a standstill, full-time permanent job growth is non-existent, and the economy has stalled.
I’ll be blunt: Trudeau’s plan to stimulate the economy by spending more has failed.   Canadians deserve better!   Canadians deserve a government willing to make the hard choices necessary to ensure prosperity in our economy.   We are the only party ready, willing, and able to keep Canada on track.   Support us, so we can fight to save the economy of tomorrow.
Sincerely,   Rona Ambrose,   Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Religion Plays the Role

“the presidency of Trump — and how religion does or doesn’t play a role — is expected to captivate the country in 2017.” 

The article below touches on this, that reveals why the American “big media” missed the grassroots voter surge for Trump.   Canadians were surprised at the election results, because the media, does not sympathetically report on the emotional issues at the “religious belief level”.   Trump supporters, had enough of the leftie moralizing and behavioral hypocrisy.   They held their noses and voted for Donald, as they recoiled from the government legacy.   The prospect of Hillary, meant more of the same, and the ideas of Bernie followers in her camp, sealed the deal, as voters recoiled.   Sarah writes about what really moves votes.

Here’s what we think will be the major religion stories of 2017.  By Sarah Pulliam Bailey January 3, 2017  Washington Post
The new year could be turbulent for religion in America.   Several hot-button issues — including immigration, abortion, poverty, health care, gay rights and education  —will put religion near the center of public life and debate.
But the issue that could especially flare up?   In a Trump administration, “religious freedom” is expected to either flourish — or come under attack — depending on who defines religious freedom.
In a divided, angry America, religious freedom is frequently seen through the lens of the “culture wars,” says Charles Haynes, director of the Religious Freedom Center at the Newseum.   Once Donald Trump is inaugurated, many religious conservatives will seek to rollback culture war advances made by President Obama, including on abortion rights and LGBT rights.
“For some, religious claims for exemptions and accommodations are a form of bigotry,” Haynes said.   “For others, minority religious groups — especially Muslims — are an existential threat to American traditions and values.”  
Many observers are especially watching how Trump’s relationship with Muslims in the United States and abroad will unfold after he campaigned on a pledge to ban Muslim immigrants.   In the weeks ahead of his inauguration, Trump’s advisers have issued conflicting statements about the status of his plan.   Trump’s own statements have been a mix of repeating, softening and vaguely re-endorsing a ban, so it’s unclear what might take place.
Trump’s policy on Muslims is likely the most anticipated religion story because Americans could see it as a referendum on anyone’s right to free belief, said Rashid Dar, a research assistant at the Brookings Institution.
“If the floodgates are opened to discrimination based on ideology or belief, then it threatens all Americans, who will have to ensure that they are not the next victims of policies aimed at rooting out ‘un-American’ beliefs,” Dar said.
Another major story expected early in Trump’s administration includes any changes to the Supreme Court. (in an appeal to religious conservatives, Trump promised to appoint justices who oppose abortion.)
Many of the current religious freedom battles could quickly disappear during Trump’s presidency, especially if the Affordable Care Act — the target of many religious freedom lawsuits and conflicts — is repealed, Haynes said.
Other battles may worsen, he predicts.   Many Native Americans, for example, fear that their religious freedom will suffer a significant blow if the Trump administration reverses the Obama administration and allows the Dakota Pipeline project to go forward near the Standing Rock Reservation.
Many religious conservatives think the Obama administration had overstepped on issues of religious freedom in areas such as contraceptive access under the Affordable Care Act and gay rights, especially the Supreme Court’s decision that was seen as providing sweeping protections to same-sex couples and potentially threatening the tax-exempt status of religious organizations.   Will the Trump administration now work to address these concerns?
Many states will be emboldened by the election to pursue laws that provide broad religious exemptions to same-sex marriage, and the ACLU expects more religious freedom bills than ever this year.   These cases will possibly resurrecting debates over what the government can — or can’t — compel faith organizations to do.   For instance, will business owners be required to follow anti-discrimination laws and bake a cake for a gay wedding if it violates their religious beliefs?
Other scenarios observers are considering include: Will legislators renew efforts to pass “anti-Sharia” laws and seek to limit what they see as the growing influence of Islam in America?
Will Trump fulfill his promise to end the Johnson Amendment, which prevents certain tax-exempt organizations such as churches from endorsing or opposing political candidates?   Will he quell concerns from some that academic institutions could lose federal funding over issues such as gay rights?
Will he reverse Obama’s declaration that transgender students must be allowed to use bathrooms consistent with their gender identity, a question the Supreme Court is considering?
The concept of religious freedom as protected under the First Amendment has become polarizing, but Haynes said it has one definition: Liberty of conscience for people of all faiths or of no faith.   “This should mean taking claims of conscience seriously and providing accommodations whenever possible,” Haynes said.   “And it should also mean standing up for the rights of others, including those with whom we deeply disagree.”
Other religion-related stories are expected to surface under a changing administration.   With reports of rising incidents of Islamophobia and anti-Semitism during the 2016 campaign, activists will look for ways to counter bigotry.   Will Trump’s presidency create unlikely bedfellows and spur interfaith efforts or racial reconciliation efforts? Some are less hopeful.
“Cynical me says the racial reconciliation efforts won’t happen,” says Anthea Butler, a religious studies professor at the University of Pennsylvania, who believes churches are drawing a line for or against Trump.   “I think that ship sailed a long time ago in the 1990s and things are too polarized right now.”
A conservative shift could also spur a rise of the “religious left.” For instance, some religious institutions are planning to offer sanctuary to undocumented immigrants.   Other organizations may undertake their own acts of resistance — and dozens of religious leaders, for instance, have already signed an open letter vowing to organize against bigotry.
Immigration is changing the face of religion in America. Hispanics are the fastest growing segment of the evangelical church.   They also make up a considerable portion of the Catholic Church in the United States.
“Pastors across the country view immigration not just as a political issue but as a church issue because many members of their churches are immigrants who will be significantly impacted by any changes in immigration law or policy,” said Jenny Yang, vice president of advocacy and policy at World Relief.
Policy changes in other major areas, such as health care and education, will be watched closely by religious advocates. Education activists are eyeing issues related to public education and federal funding because Trump picked Betsy DeVos as his secretary of education.   DeVos, who has deep ties to Reformed Christian circles in Michigan, favors school vouchers, a position that appears to be motivated by her Christian faith.
Christianity has been on the decline in the U.S., but religious voters such as evangelicals (26 percent) and Catholics (23 percent) made up a significant chunk of the electorate in 2016, especially compared to voters who do not affiliate with religion (15 percent).   Will Trump deliver on his promises to religiously conservative voters? Will they play a large role in his administration?
Many other religion stories this year will unfold apart from Trump’s presidency, which we will cover in news, analysis and commentary here at Acts of Faith. Globally, Protestant Christians are expected to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s “95 Theses,” the theological propositions and questions for the Catholic Church considered the spark for the Protestant Reformation.   And Pope Francis is expected to continue to shape a Catholic Church that emphasizes the marginalized.   But the presidency of Trump — and how religion does or doesn’t play a role — is expected to captivate the country in 2017.

Friday, 23 December 2016

The Christmas Story

The Christmas Story
Long ago, about 2000 years, when King Herod ruled Judea (now part of Israel), God sent the angel Gabriel to a young woman who lived in the northern town of Nazareth. The girl's name was Mary and she was engaged to marry.
The angel Gabriel said to Mary: 'Peace be with you! God has blessed you and is pleased with you.' Mary was very surprised by this and wondered what the angel meant. The angel said to her 'Don't be afraid, God has been very kind to you. You will become pregnant by the Holy Spirit and give birth to a baby boy and you will call him Jesus. He will be God's own Son and his kingdom will never end.' Mary was very afraid but she trusted God. 'Let it happen as God chooses.' she replied to the angel. Gabriel also told Mary that her cousin, Elizabeth who everyone thought was too old to have children, would have a baby boy whom God had chosen to prepare the way for Jesus.
Mary said goodbye to her family and friends and went to visit her cousin Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah. Elizabeth was very happy to see Mary. She knew that Mary had been chosen by God to be the mother of his Son. An angel had already told Zechariah that Elizabeth's baby would prepare people to welcome Jesus. He was to be called John. Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months and then returned home to Nazareth.
Joseph was worried when he found out that Mary was expecting a baby before their marriage had taken place. He wondered if he should put off the wedding altogether. Then an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and said: 'Don't be afraid to have Mary as your wife.' The angel explained that Mary had been chosen by God to be the mother of his Son and told Joseph that the baby would be named Jesus which means 'Saviour' because he would save people. When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel had told him to do and took Mary as his wife.
At this time, the land where Mary and Joseph lived was part of the Roman Empire. The Roman Emperor Augustus wanted to have a list of all the people in the empire, to make sure they paid their taxes. He ordered everyone to return to the town where their families originally came from, and enter their names in a register (or census) there. Mary and Joseph traveled a long way (about 70 miles) from Nazareth to Bethlehem, because that is where Joseph's family came from. Most people walked but some lucky people had a donkey to help carry the goods needed for the journey. Joseph and Mary traveled very slowly because Mary's baby was due to be born soon.
When they reached Bethlehem they had problems finding somewhere to stay. So many people had come to register their names in the census, that every house was full and every bed was taken in all of the guest rooms. The only place to stay that they could find was with the animals. People often kept animals in the house, especially at night, and used them like 'central heating'! People normally slept on a raised/upper level with the animals below to give them extra warmth.
So in the place where the animals slept, Mary gave birth to Jesus, the Son of God.
In those days it was the custom to wrap newborn babies tightly in a long cloth called 'swaddling clothes'. Jesus' bed was the manger that the animals ate their hay from.
In the hills and fields outside Bethlehem, shepherds looked after their sheep through the long night. As the new day began, suddenly an angel appeared before them and the glory of God shone around them. The shepherds were very, very scared, but the angel said, 'Don't be afraid. I have good news for you and everyone. Today in Bethlehem a Saviour has been born for you. You will find the baby lying in a manger.'.

Then many more angels appeared, lighting up the sky. The shepherds heard them praising God singing: 'Glory to God in highest, and peace to everyone on earth.' When the angels had gone the shepherds said to one another, 'Let's go to Bethlehem to see what has happened.' So the shepherds went to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph. The baby Jesus was lying in a manger as they had been told. When they saw him, they told everyone what the angel had said and everyone who heard the story were astonished. Then the shepherds returned to their sheep, praising God for sending his Son to be their Saviour.
When Jesus was born, a brand new bright star appeared in sky. Some Wise Men in faraway countries saw the star and guessed what it meant. They were very clever men that studied the stars and had read in very old writings that a new star would appear when a great king was born. They set out to find the new king and bring him gifts.
The Wise Men followed the star towards the country of Judea and when they got to the capital called Jerusalem they began to ask people: 'Where is the child who is born to be king of the Jews?' Herod, the king of Judea, heard this and it made him very angry to think that someone might be going to take his place as king. Herod sent for the Wise Men to come to him. He told them to go on following the star until they had found the baby king. He said: 'When you have found him, let me know where he is, so that I can go and worship him.'. But Herod did not tell them that he really had an evil plan in mind to kill the new king.

The Wise Men followed the star towards Bethlehem (where it said that the king would be born in the old writings). It seemed to stop and shine directly down upon the place where Jesus was.
The Wise Men entered the house where they now lived and found Jesus with Mary, they bowed down and worshipped him. The Wise Men spread the the gifts they had brought before Jesus. The gifts were gold, frankincense and myrrh. The Wise Men were warned in a dream, by God, not to go back to Herod. So they returned home to their countries in the East by a different way. 
When the Wise Men had gone, an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream. 'Get up,' the angel said, 'take Jesus and Mary and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for Jesus to kill him.' So Joseph got up, took Jesus and Mary during the night they left for Egypt, where he stayed until Herod died.
When Herod realized that he had been tricked by the Wise Men, he was furious and he gave orders to kill all the boys aged two or younger in Bethlehem and the surrounding area. This was to try and kill the new King, as his plan to find the location of the new king from the Wise Men had failed.
After Herod had died, Joseph had another dream in which an angel appeared to him. The angel said, 'Get up, take Jesus and Mary and go back to Israel, for those who were trying kill Jesus are dead.'
So Joseph got up, took Jesus and Mary and they went back to Israel. But when he heard that Herod's son was now king of Judea, he was afraid to go there. So instead they went to Galilee, and lived in their old town of Nazareth.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Merry Christmas for the nation

The Trudeau Liberals are discovering that leading a nation is more than delivering platitudes and posing for selfies.

Looking over last year, the previous Conservative Government had left us a ‘balanced budget’ and an ‘economic blueprint’ to keep Canada moving forward, midst a troubled world.   Many hoped the Liberals could use this advantage and build upon it.   That hope was misplaced.

The Liberals campaigned on “Change” and “Sunny Ways.”  However, competent administrative substance is missing, and Canada is sliding down.   Looking back, we must ask if the Liberals accomplished much this year, aside from tripling the deficit, introducing another tax on everything (carbon tax), and breaking election promises.

The record reveals that the first year has been the least productive in decades.   Previous governments passed an average of 48 bills in their first year.   Following the Conservative majority, 58 bills received Royal Assent; but for the Liberals this year, the number is a mere 11.   Moreover, what should we expect from a Prime Minister who didn’t bother to show up to the House of Commons 66% of the time?   Unbelievable!   He’s managed to attend just 18 of 53 Question Periods this past session.  

Instead of facing his duty of Parliamentary accountability in the House of Commons, Trudeau spent his time jet-setting on the taxpayer’s dime.   Therefore, the expected balance of domestic and foreign attention is off base, as in some cases it was just to attend exclusive high-priced cash-for-access fundraisers.   Attendees included Chinese billionaires; one received government approval to open a bank, shortly after he spoke with Trudeau at an event.   This is a legal and ethical issue.   Trudeau tells voters not to worry.   He says his fundraisers have no sway on decisions.   If this were true, why would affluent special interests, be so willing to pay so much?

The Ethics Commissioner has expressed significant concern about these fundraising tactics, and has asked for a private review with Trudeau to deal with the situation.   The Lobbying Commissioner isn't buying the Liberal spin either.   She has opened an investigation into the matter.   Additionally, a third government officer has opened up a separate formal investigation.   The Federal Privacy Commissioner is looking into concerns, following the catastrophic launch of the “mydecomcracy.ca” survey on electoral reform.  

This poor record adds up to a sad reality.   Justin Trudeau may be good at taking selfies, but very poor at governance.   While the Liberals revert to their old tricks and ethical blindness, Conservatives remain focused on replacing them in the next election!   Help us stand up and defend Canada.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays!