Sat, March 19, 2005
Facts don't matter to this Liberal
By LICIA CORBELLA -- Calgary Sun
Ontario Liberal MP Ruby Dhalla owes Conservative MP Cheryl Gallant an apology.
Dhalla, a newly elected MP for Brampton-Springdale, called on Conservative Leader Stephen Harper to either reprimand Gallant or refuse to sign her nomination papers for the next federal election because of "ludicrous, crazy statements" Gallant made in a pamphlet she mailed out to her Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke constituents.
"Trust me, (Gallant's pamphlet) is quite shocking," Dhalla said yesterday from Montreal, where she is attending the Conservative party's policy convention in order to pounce on any "ludicrous" statements made by Conservative delegates.
I have not seen a copy of the pamphlet, so I asked Dhalla to read to me the statements she found most "shocking".
The pamphlet, complained Dhalla, is entitled: Is Christianity under attack in Canada?
Then she read the following: " 'The government has launched a campaign of intimidation to silence churches by dispatching tax collectors to threaten the charitable tax status of denominations who speak out against the Liberal government.'
"That view is just so tremendously extreme," said Dhalla. "I think it is a completely crazy and ludicrous statement to say that tax collectors threaten the charitable status of churches."
Crazy and ludicrous? How about utterly accurate and true?
On Oct. 21, I wrote a column that exposed such "ludicrous" political thuggery as described by Gallant.
During the federal election campaign in June, Catholic Bishop Fred Henry was called by a bureaucrat with Canada Customs and Revenue Agency and threatened that the church's charitable status would be revoked if he continued to speak out against Prime Minister Paul Martin.
The bureaucrat, a man by the name of Terry De March, who works for the charitable division of the CCRA in Ottawa, objected to Henry's June 6 pastoral letter which stated: "Prime Minister Paul Martin is frequently described as a 'devout Catholic.' However, his recently clarified position regarding abortion and same sex unions is a source of scandal in the Catholic community and reflects a fundamental moral incoherence."
Bishop Henry says he was clearly threatened by De March.
"I regarded it as a veiled threat -- 'You better keep quiet or else we'll pull your charitable number' -- that's what I took the whole thing to mean," said Henry of his telephone conversation with De March.
I read Bishop Henry's comments to Dhalla and after saying she was "surprised" and that "we didn't realize that any threats were ever made, she went on to say: "The CCRA would never go and threaten any individual. It's not their mandate."
So, I asked her, "are you calling Bishop Henry a liar?"
"I'm not calling him a liar. I'm just saying that it's not their mandate, right, to go and provide threats to anybody?"
I agree, I told her but sometimes people break their mandate. Nevertheless, it happened. Prior to the election, lawyers for the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops were also warned they would lose their tax-exempt status if they became politically active in the election, which included supporting traditional marriage.
I also asked Dhalla how she would characterize the bigoted poll Liberals engaged in last April when it asked voters "if they'd be more or less likely to vote for the Conservatives if they knew the party had been "taken over by evangelical Christians."
Such questions are an example of U.S.-style "push polling," where the purpose is not to gauge public opinion, but to "push" a negative opinion about one's opponent.
Dhalla said she didn't mind that, though many of her fellow-Liberal MPs did. How would she feel if the question were asked about Sikhs, which is what her faith is? She said "it wouldn't bother me."
I brought up numerous examples of this kind of discrimination, but Dhalla didn't care.
"So," I said to her, "you're outraged by Gallant's statements but when you learn that her statements are based on an actual event you are not outraged by the event. As an MP you should demand that Terry De March be put under oath and asked about his threats to the bishop, shouldn't you?"
No, she said, because "the bishop is entitled to his beliefs and we're entitled to ours."
Right. Here's mine. Dhalla is a hypocrite who owes Gallant and all members of the Conservative party an apology.
You will know you have spoken the truth when you are angrily denounced; and you will know you have spoken both truly and well when you are visited by the thought police.