Monday, 18 June 2018

Post 229--Paradise: Banning Gangs!

NOTICE:  I am behind and will work on this post as soon as I can. In the meantime, I am working on a couple of previous ones, as you probably know. When those are completed, I will do this one.

Prohibiting Satudarah Means a New Success for the Ministry of Justice in Its Handling of Criminal Motorcyle Gangs
Dristel van Teeffelen
Trouw  June 18  2018

Kristel van Teeffelen– 12:11, 18 juni 2018

Members of the banned and dissolved motorclub Satudara  (@ EPA)

The motoclub Satudarah is no more. The Society was dissolved after the court in The Hague pronounce a prohibition this morning. For the Ministry of Justice this signals anew an important victory in its handling od criminal motorcyucloe gangs, even though not all problem are solved with this step.

That the judge should resort to a prohibition was not step to be taken for granted. The right of association is in the constitution and may be restricted only when there are weighty reasons. In the case of Satudarah, a motorclub that exists since 1990, the court recognized enough reasons.The list of criminal behaviours of its members is so long and the culture of the association so violent, that Satudara endangers the public order and is even capable of destabilizing society, the judge concluded.

The society uses violence against its own members who want to disassociate themselves, but also against other citizens. Even board members of other clubs get beat up after members of Satudarah demand that their club join Satudarah. It is striking that many victims do not dare to report this violence for fear of retaliation. Furthermore, the club resists the police actively and the board justifies justice and even stimulates it. All in all, this is enough to conclude that this society is a genuine attack on the security of the society, according to the judge.

The Ministry opted for the avenue of civil rights to achieve a prohibition, just as it did before with another motorclub, the Bandidos. In 2009, an attempt to ban a branch of the Hells Angels ran stuck at the High Court. That judge concluded that the behavior of individual members cannot be attributed to the society.  The Ministry once again aimed its arrows at the Hells Angels, this time on the entire organization and via a civil rights procedure. 
It is questionable whether the prohibition strategy will work.  Satudarah itself argued with the judge that a ban would be useless, because the members could easily continue under a different name.  The judge acknowledged this fact. Nevertheless, a ban on Satudarah in any case means that everything associated with the society, like dress, name, logo and public expression, comes to an end.  In addition, the national LIEC, an organization that is dedicated to combat the undermining criminality, affirms that a firm approach on the part of the Government to criminal motor clubs has delivered fruit.  For example, the growth in members slowed down in 2017. 
Banning of the entire society is but one of the ways by which the Government can put the clamps on criminal motorclubs. For example, in 2017, members of the clubs were imprisoned for committing punishable facts in organized contexts. In addition, many local government during that year closed eighteen club houses of societies that were preoccupied with criminality and violence more than with motorcycle touring.   That ban also holds for “chapters” and support clubs associated with them.                    
Read also (if you can read Dutch!):

Public Ministry: “Time for a ban on Hells Angels in the Netherlands.”
For the oldest Dutch motorclub, the Hells Angels, there is no more place in the society, according to the Public Ministry. The Ministry of Justice has asked the judge for a ban. The club is allegedly a danger to the public order.

“Judge’s Ruling Paralyzes Motorclub Bandidos.”
There is no place left in The Netherlands for Bandidos. The society can no longer operate a bank account or rent a clubhouse, while all assets must be handed over. A Government appointee is to wind up the club’s finances.

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Post 228--Quebec Secular Fundamentalism


Graeme Hamilton: A secular fundamentalism has taken root in Quebec

Graeme Hamilton    National Post   March 20, 2018

Listening to politicians, it can feel as if Quebec is under assault from religious fundamentalists. But they have no quarrel with a secular fundamentalism that has taken root in the province

MONTREAL — Listening to politicians, it can feel as if Quebec is under assault from religious fundamentalists. The opposition Parti Québécois wants an observer to report annually to the National Assembly on “manifestations of religious fundamentalism.” The Liberal government has a working group to combat radicalism. The Coalition Avenir Québec proposes banning preaching that runs counter to Quebec values.
But those same legislators have no quarrel with a secular fundamentalism that has taken root in the province at the expense of religious rights. On Thursday, the Supreme Court of Canada sent a message to Quebec that its state-sanctioned secularism can go too far.
In a ruling affirming the right of Montreal’s Loyola High School, a private Catholic boys school, to teach its own version of a provincially mandated course on ethics and religion, the court offered a timely reminder to politicians.
“The pursuit of secular values means respecting the right to hold and manifest different religious beliefs,” Justice Rosalie Abella wrote for the majority. “A secular state respects religious differences, it does not seek to extinguish them.”
The pursuit of secular values means respecting the right to hold and manifest different religious beliefs
The ruling specifically applies to a small number of private religious schools in Quebec, but it resonates more widely at a time when governments contend with questions involving religious rights. Recently in Quebec, mosques have run up against obstacles over fears of religious extremism, and a Muslim woman was told she could not appear before a Quebec Court wearing her hijab. The federal government has taken a stand against the face-covering niqab, saying women cannot wear the garments during citizenship ceremonies.
Interference with a religious group’s beliefs or practices is justified only if they “conflict with or harm overriding public interests,” Justice Abella wrote.
In the Loyola case, the court found that there was no such conflict or harm. The dispute stemmed from Quebec’s 2008 introduction of a course called Ethics and Religious Culture (ERC), which begins in primary school and is continued during four of the five years of high school.
The ERC program resulted from the end of denominational school boards in Quebec and reflected a noble goal of inculcating “in all students openness to diversity and respect for others,” as the court put it. Students would be taught about world religions and ethical questions from an impartial perspective. That is fine and indeed appropriate for public schools but hugely problematic for Loyola, which has been run by Jesuits since its founding in the 1840s and is attended mostly by children from Catholic families.
CP/Graham Hughes
The instructions from the Education Department were that Loyola would not be allowed to teach any part of the ERC program — even Catholicism — from a Catholic point of view. All religions would be on an equal footing. “In an effort to try to be pluralistic, it essentially won’t take a stand,” school principal Paul Donovan lamented when the course was introduced.
Thursday’s ruling states that Quebec’s refusal to allow Loyola to teach an equivalent course from a Catholic perspective has a “serious impact on religious freedom.” And there is an implication that the Education Department’s hard-nosed approach was born out of a suspicion of religious belief.
“The Minister’s decision suggests that engagement with an individual’s own religion on his or her own terms can simply be presumed to impair respect for others,” Justice Abella wrote.
All seven judges who heard the case agreed that Loyola should be allowed to teach a version of the course that reflects its mission as a Catholic school, but there was a difference over how far it could diverge from the official curriculum.
In a partially concurring opinion that argued for less restriction on Loyola, Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin and Justice Michael Moldaver wrote that it is enough for Loyola teachers to treat other religious viewpoints with respect; it does not have to treat them as equally legitimate.
“Indeed, presenting fundamentally incompatible religious doctrines as equally legitimate and equally credible could imply that both are equally false,” they wrote. “Surely this cannot be a perspective that a religious school can be compelled to adopt.”
John Zucchi, whose son was a student at Loyola when the ERC program was introduced and who was a plaintiff in the initial court case, said Thursday’s ruling provides crucial guidance. “This is helping the country to come to what I would call a sane form of secularism,” he said. “We don’t need to shut down one voice in the name of diversity and pluralism, but rather diversity and pluralism mean that all perspectives can be heard and be out in the public square.”

Post 227--Bureaucrats to Assess "Sincere Beliefs"

The powers that be in Canada, consider it a secular country.  Whether that describes the majority of Canadians is something that is assumed, but may not be true. Certainly, there are millions of Canadians who do not consider themselves secular, with me being one of them. But even among those who do not consider themselves secular, there are many who have been so deeply influenced by it that in fact they are secular, including many Christians, in the sense that they support many secular causes.  Just like African Christians are still influenced by African Traditional Religion (ATR), so many Canadian Christians are profoundly influenced by secularism. In Africa, ATR is in the air and people as it were "breathe" it;  in Canada the same with secularism.

When the government insists on neutrality of religion, it defines neutrality in a secular way--which means it is not neutral. To make it worse, our high government officials at every level of government, are highly educated people in a secular perspective, but in religion they are at the level of Religion 101. They are at best at Grade 1 level in religion. So, people with Ph.D.'s, highly educated, think their insights in religion are at the same level as their knowledge of their subject of graduation.  In fact, their knowledge does not go beyond Grade 1--which means they are bound to get it wrong.  Highly sophisticated officials make Grade 1 decisions about religion and often sound stupid and clumsy., all the way to the top, hardly anyone excluded.

Now, it is with that scenario that mid-level Quebec officials are to make decisions about sincerely held religious beliefs and on that decision decide other things for citizens.  But they do so at a Grade 1 level! How can you trust that situation, those decisions or those officials? 

Okay, now go read the rest of this post and then see what you think of the issue.  Can you really have confidence in the decisions to be made?   

Greame Hamilton recently published an article in the National Post of June 6, 2018, that appeared also in some other newspapers, including the Vancouver Sun of the same date.  The Sun  title of the piece is "Quebec to assess 'sincere beliefs.'"

Beginning next month, at least one employee in every Quebec government body, municipality, transit agency, school board, university, daycare and hospital will need a new skill: judging the sincerity of religious beliefs.
Across the province, hundreds of “accommodation officers” are getting crash courses on whether to accept or reject requests for accommodations made on religious grounds, such as meals respecting dietary restrictions or time off for religious holidays.
In recently published guidelines, the provincial government says the officers will apply a number of criteria established over time thorough jurisprudence, including whether the request for a religious accommodation stems from a “sincerely held belief.”

Quebec women attend a protest in 2010 Allen McInnis/The Gazette

This month’s training blitz is the final chapter in enacting Bill 62, the Liberal government’s controversial legislation that it hoped would settle a decade-old debate over the place of religion in Quebec’s public sphere.
But there is no sign the law has settled anything. Its most controversial provision, prohibiting people from giving or receiving public services with such face-covering religious garments as the niqab and burka, has been suspended pending a court challenge.
And the entire law could be short-lived, as the front-running Coalition Avenir Québec has promised to “tear it up” if elected in the Oct. 1 provincial election.
In comments last month about the new guidelines on religious accommodations, Justice Minister Stéphanie Vallée did little to dispel the impression that the law is a solution in search of a problem. “There is no invasion of requests for religious accommodation, as some would have you believe,” Vallée told a legislature committee May 16.
In fact, less than five per cent of the 582 complaints of rejected accommodations received by the provincial human rights commission in the last five years alleged religious discrimination. The large majority — 90 per cent — related to physical disabilities.
The new guidelines for dealing with requests for religious accommodations take effect July 1. It is expected that existing employees will take on the work.

Quebec Justice Minister Stephanie Vallee provides further details about how the government’s controversial Bill 62 will be implemented at the legislature in Quebec City Tuesday, October 24, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot

The government has published a 15-page guide aimed at clarifying the process, but its instructions are vague. “A request may be reasonable in a large organization, but unreasonable in a small one,” the guide says. “The analysis is carried out on a case-by-case basis. It is important to be innovative and creative to find a solution acceptable to all.”
To be approved, an accommodation must address a situation of discrimination under the provincial Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, it must be based on sincere religious beliefs, it must be consistent with the principles of equality of the sexes and state religious neutrality, and it must not cause undue hardship for the government agency concerned.
Isabelle Marier St-Onge, an aide to Vallée, said it was impossible to offer a template for specific accommodation requests. She gave the example of two women police officers seeking to wear the Muslim headscarf known as the hijab, one in Montreal and one in Quebec City. The one in Montreal might be prepared to wear a sports-type hijab posing no safety risk, while the one in Quebec City might insist on a more free-flowing garment that would pose a danger.
“The Montreal request could be accepted and the Quebec City one refused,” Marier St-Onge said.

Marie-Michelle Lacoste, who now goes by Warda Naili after converting to Islam, left, and her lawyer Catherine McKenzie speak to the media at a news conference Tuesday, November 7, 2017 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

While the safety issue in her example makes an accommodation officer’s job relatively easy, things will undoubtedly become trickier when trying to establish whether a request is based on a sincerely held belief.
The guidance from the government states: “The religious belief that is asserted must be in good faith, neither fictitious nor capricious, and must not be an artifice. It is not necessary for that practice or belief to be based on a religious precept recognized by established religious authorities or shared by a majority of believers.”
Supreme Court judges have wrestled with these questions; now it will fall to mid-level bureaucrats.
Nathalie Roy, secularism critic for the Coalition party, said the government should have provided more specific guidance, drawing on previous cases adjudicated by the rights commission. “I worry that the door is being swung wide open to subjectivity in these decisions,” she told the legislature committee.
Her party, like the opposition Parti Québécois, wants stricter rules barring religious symbols for all state employees in a position of authority, from police officers to teachers. “For us, a school is not a church . . . and a police car is not a place of worship either,” Roy said.
Vallée accuses the opposition parties of seizing on the secularism issue to sow division.
“This question of identity is polarizing . . . and certain political parties will no doubt try to exploit it in the coming months,” she said at the committee hearing.
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Thursday, 31 May 2018

Post 226--What's in a Name?

There's just a short item in one of Vancouver's "street newspapers," the newest one actually, Star Metro Vancouver (May 22, 2018), the author of which is Cherise Saucharan.  "Cherise"--ah, people concoct such interesting names these days, but usually names without historical foundation.

Remember that in the previous post I complained that a major characteristics of liberalism is disdain for the past and for traditions? This has also carried over into the naming of children. My first name is that of my paternal grandfather, since I am the first son in my family.  My middle name is "Harm," after my father's oldest brother. And so it went in my tradition.  But liberals don't like tradition and so they seldom name their children after senior family members; they just concoct any name they like, perhaps an existing name or something they concoct themselves. 

Liberalism is a powerful ideology that has even spilled over onto people who would be shocked to be called liberal. My wife and I, staunch non-liberals as we are, fell for that when naming our children. The first names of the first two were just shaken out of our sleeves and had no historical connection to our extended family. Their names arperfectly fine, but they are the product of liberal spill over. They are Cynthia and Kevin respectively, with Kevin being the oldest. In this post, I follow tradition: Ladies first!

But we did not fall for that liberal tradition altogether. Our daughter's middle name is a combination of both of her grandmothers. Sadly, neither grandmother accepted that name as legitimately named after them.  The middle name of our first son is that of my youngest brother, Dick. Dick is the youngest of ten siblings and the only born Canadian in my birth family. We decided to honour him through our first son, for, we reasoned, being the last of ten, no one will name any of their children after him.  For years, Dick did not believe our explanation, but after we repeated it enough over the decades, I believe he's come around and accepts it--with some degree of pleasure, I believe.

But that son has a third name or, if you prefer, a second middle name: Samu'ila. Though born in the USA, it was during our Nigeria missionary years. We had been married seven years before his arrival and so we called him Samu'ila, which is the Hausa version of Samuel, whose birth story you find in the Old Testament at I Samuel 1.  That Samuel was also the end product of many years of agonizing prayer. Of course, it wasn't only prayer that brought him into this world--just thought you should understand!  Hausa is a major West African language that we spoke during our 30 years there and still speak. 

By the time our youngest son came around, we had come around as well--from that liberal spill over, that is. We named him after our two grandfathers. We retained the original Dutch version of my father's name Wiebe and that became his our son's first name, of which he has always been proud and even used it as a successful ploy, together with his Nigerian dress, during his election campaign for college student council. His maternal grandfather's name was a Frisian one difficult to pronounce for non-Frisians. After the family's immigration to the States, he took the name "Charles,"probably the closest English equivalent, but if we used that for his middle name, his initials would be "W. C." Those who know gentrified English, will realize that this would make him a butt of jokes: "water closet"-- in other words, "toilet!"  So we turned to "Karl" instead.

It is of some family interest and pride  that Grandfather's complete name is Prins Charles, a name you've heard before, I'm sure. The family is kind of proud of that connection to Prince Charles, but regret that the similarity stops there! They would have liked an invitation to the latest wedding!

If you are an analytical reader, you may have noticed I have described liberals both as anti-tradition and traditional at the same time, something that only looks like a contradiction. Traditional liberals tend to be against long established traditions--and that is their tradition. Yes, they have their own traditions, the ones they themselves created over a period of time that is long enough to have created new traditions. You might say they are non-traditional traditionalists. This is another good topic for another day, soon. 

Did I ever get side tracked today. I was going to talk about Cherise's article and never got to it. Well, to entice you to look for it within a few days, here's what would have been today's title: "My Body a Distraction?"

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Post 225--Centennial of (Some) Women's Suffrage in Canada

This blog contains more critique of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau than praise, something I am not proud of and does not make me happy. I would much rather have reasons for praise than critique. I would much rather be happy with my PM than unhappy. But as a Christian, I cannot not see myself happy with a Liberal government, for the essence of liberalism is to downgrade, if not actually despise and have contempt for established age-old traditions, many of which belong to the order of creation.

The last statement in the above paragraph probably sounds like I'm a dyed-in-the-wool kind of conservative. I'm not! Definitely not!  But that's for another post. Actually, my deepest attitudes and theories are embedded in this entire blog. If you've been reading my previous 224 posts, you will have grasped at least something of my perspective--neither liberal nor conservative but Reformed Christian. As I said, for another post.

But today I agree with and support our PM, something that gives me joy. Again, it is not 100%, but when you celebrate something, you don't major in qualifications; you just joyfully celebrate. And that's what I'm doing today. And I invite you to join the PM and little me.

You may remember that one of the first actions of our PM was to appoint a Cabinet marked by gender parity as well as racial diversity. And, you may remember, I expressed praise and gratitude for that move.  Unfortunately....  No, no, I don't go there today. Just celebrate! That step by the PM was a huge step forward in the process of empowering women in our country. It wasn't all women at that time, something the PM acknowledges below, but it was a huge and significant step forward in the dynamics of developing history. Please remember my "Tomato Post" no. 224. Tomato history is an interesting example of history developing forward and opening up towards richer variety and differentiation; The suffrage issue is not merely an example but actually a huge step towards the liberation of 50% of Canada's population. It significantly pushed history forward and opened it up.

Today, we join the PM in celebrating the centennial of that first huge step of women suffrage. Please read his statement below and celebrate. 


Statement by the Prime Minister on the 100th anniversary of women winning the right to vote in federal elections

May 24, 2018
Ottawa, Ontario

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today issued the following statement on the 100th anniversary of women winning the right to vote in federal elections:
“One hundred years ago, women in Canada gained the right to vote in federal elections for the first time. Today, we recognize the countless women who have transformed politics in Canada and shaped a better country for all of us.
“This decision was a turning point for gender equality and a victory for Canadian democracy. When more voices are heard, we shape laws that reflect who we are and decisions that improve the lives of Canadians. Social activists and feminists worked hard to win the right to vote. Our democracy is stronger because of their commitment to their convictions, and their vision for a more just future.
“While this anniversary represents an important milestone in the quest for equal rights in Canada, not all women benefitted from this progress. Indigenous women, Asian women, and others were denied the right to vote. These exclusions remind us that progress does not always happen equally, and we must do more to make sure everyone’s rights are respected, promoted, and valued.
“Canada continues to work hard to address the obstacles women and girls face. Here at home, we are taking steps to promote women’s participation in the workforce, support women’s leadership, reduce the gender wage gap, and fight gender-based violence. In 2018, Canada put gender equality at the core of the federal budget, and made empowering women and girls a key theme for our G7 presidency. Thanks to measures like our Feminist International Assistance Policy, we are working to empower women and girls and advance gender equality around the world.
“The 100th anniversary of women winning the right to vote in federal elections reminds us that we are stronger when everyone, no matter their gender identity, can participate freely, fully, and equally in our democracy. A century later, women’s leadership continues to push Canada forward. Today, let’s celebrate the achievements of the many women who have shaped our country. Let’s honour their legacy, push for justice and equality, and make sure all voices can be heard.”

PMO Media Relations:
This document is also available at

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Post 224--Tomatoes: Opening up of History

I have occasionally used the word "Reformational" or "Reformational Philosophy," a perspective to which I adhere.  It is also known by other names like "Neo-Calvinism" or "Kuyperianism" and, more recently, "Transformationalism." These names all have their reasons in history and are valid. However, "transformationalism" seems to be taking over as the most popular right now.  Fine. I have no problem with it.  In fact, my pastor, Trevor Vander Veen of the Vancouver Christian Reformed Church has outrightly adopted it as his favourite term in his recent doctoral dissertation. I go along with him, except that I have used "Reformational" or some derivative for long in all my writings and publications, so that I will stick to that one, though I have come to prefer "transformationalism."  Bear with me and remember that, please, in subsequent posts. The "scientific" formula from now on in this blog is:


I use "Reformational" or "Reformationalism;" you think "Transformational" or "Transformationalism."  Agreed?

The Reformational perspective is big on the idea of the dynamic opening up of history as central to its philosophy of history. Today, as you may have suspected from the title of this post, I will refer to the history of the "humble" tomato as an example of this opening up process.  Brian Minter of Chilliwack BC is one of the main gardeners in our province. Just check out many of his online articles. In this post, I refer you to his article in the Vancouver Sun of May 12, 2018, (p. C2). See the website at the bottom of this article if you want to read it in its entirety. He wrote the history of the acceptance of the tomato among the nations and cultures of this world.

As popular as the tomato is today, probably in every nation where it can grow, that has not always been the case. Minter writes that it "suffered from bad PR for 300 years." Its early history may be a bit foggy: among the people of the Andean Mountains in South America, "they may have been eaten by the local indigenous peoples," but there is no evidence they cultivated it. Animals also ate them and may have been responsible for its spread. The Aztecs were the first to cultivate them.  In 1520, Hernan Cortes saw the tomato in a local market, took it home to Spain, from where it spread elsewhere. Early "experts" declared it dangerous and thought it provokes "loathing and vomiting."

From Europe it was carried back to the Americas, where the Puritans thought it looked "too sensuous" and must be evil. However, an American world traveler Colonel Robert Gibbon Johnson brought home a collection of various seeds and sought to dispel the notion they were dangerously poisonous. He announced he would publicly eat a whole basket full of them in Salem, NJ.  His physician predicted dire health consequences such as "foam and froth at the mouth,... double over with appendicitis,...and expose himself to brain fever." Enough to scare anyone away, I should think.

He survived the ordeal and gave the tomato a new start. By 1835 it had become a staple in the American diet. Sorry, Minter lives in BC, but I do not know his history. Whatever, it is a pity he ignores the Canadian history of the tomato. Well, I have complained about that issue before and do not know just how to avoid that annoyance without spending a lot of extra time on these blogs, which I do not have. At least, Minter lives and writes in Canada, BC even. Today, Canadians as well as their American cousins, grow "hundreds of varieties."

Since I am generally fascinated by food (probably too much!), I find this a very interesting story. Something so common and yet such a convoluted history.  As a half-baked Reformational philosopher, I....  No, wait, I am not a philosopher, not even a half-baked one; I am an adherent, a consumer of philosophy, a practitioner. This is a great example of the opening up of the historical process from near nothing to hundreds of varieties, from the almost unknown to the highest refinement and popularity.                                                         

So, thanks, Mr. Minter, for your hard work of gardening and for helping people enjoy not only the fruit of your research, but even the tomato itself. A great story. I encourage you, readers, to read his whole story at < >, and then look him up for more of his stories on the internet. An interesting example of the opening up of history--and a delight to eat!