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Rory Leishman

Freelance journalist, author of a weekly national affairs column for The London Free Press and Sun Media Newspapers in London, Ontario. Mr. Leishman's work also appears in various other journals, and he operates his own web site where others of his essays can be viewed. He can be reached via e-mail at rleishman@home.com.

Click here for essays by Rory Leishman
Thanks to a 30-per-cent hike in welfare benefits by the Peterson government of Ontario, the costs of the system doubled during the latter half of the 1980s and the number of welfare dependants rose by close to 190,000. By the time the Harris Conservatives took power in 1995, the province's annual welfare bill had reached $6.8 billion, up from $1.3 billion in 1985, and the number of welfare dependants was close to 1.3 million, up from fewer than 500,000 10 years earlier. ... Since Wisconsin Works [a workfare program in Wisconsin] came into effect on September 1, 1997, the number of people drawing cash assistance from the state has dropped by 77 per cent. Today, there are scarcely 7,000 families enrolled in the state's workfare program, down from more than 98,000 welfare families when [Tommy] Thompson became governor in 1987.

Jan. 21, 2000 - from a column published in the London Free Press
... UNICEF ... suggests that a family is living in poverty if it has a household income after taxes that is less than half the average for all households of the same size in the country as a whole. By this measure, the percentage of children living in poverty ranges from 26 per cent in the United States to only 1.1 per cent in the Czech Republic. However, given that average incomes are almost six times greater in the United States than in the Czech Republic, it follows that a family in the United States might be wealthy by Czech standards, but have less than a poverty-line income according to the UNICEF measure. Yet UNICEF also insists that hardly anyone is poor in the Czech Republic. This is absurd.

Dec. 17, 1999 - from "Major hike in welfare benefits would do more harm than good", published in the London Free Press
Canadian constitutional scholars used to view the excesses of American judge-politicians with smug condescension, noting that Canadian courts would never second guess the wisdom of a statute that had been duly enacted into law by elected representatives of the Canadian people. Unfortunately, scholars can no longer make such statements. Since the Charter of Rights and Freedoms was incorporated into our Constitution in 1982, the Supreme Court of Canada has routinely struck down laws enacted by Parliament or a provincial legislature on grounds of policy, amended statutory laws from the bench, ignored the law altogether, and told legislators what laws to enact. In the past, such high-handed judicial encroachments by non-elected Canadian judges were unthinkable. Today, the inconceivable has become routine.

1998 - from "Robed dictators", published in The Next City Magazine
The poverty standard used by the National Council of Welfare ... rises with average incomes so that by the council's cockeyed reckoning, the current poverty line for a family of four living in a major urban area is more than $33,000, up from less than $20,000, after adjusting for inflation, in 1960. By this ever-rising measure, it's certain the poor will always be with us. Christopher Sarlo points out in Poverty In Canada that most Canadians deemed impoverished by the council enjoy a higher living standard than the average just a few decades ago. Thus, while fewer than half of Canadian households had a mechanical refrigerator in 1951, by 1989, 99 per cent of households living below the National Council of Welfare's poverty line had such a refrigerator, 62 per cent had cable television and 50 per cent had at least one automobile.

Dec. 17, 1999 - from "Major hike in welfare benefits would do more harm than good", published in the London Free Press
Study after study has confirmed that employable people who rely on handouts from the state instead of an earned income are prone to depression, despair, drug addiction and family violence. Children who grow up in welfare homes are much more likely than their peers to drop out of school, have children out of wedlock and end up as adults in poverty-perpetuating reliance on welfare.

Aug. 18, 2000 - from "Striking Success for Workfare", published in the London Free Press
Unlike libel, slander and the anti-hate law provisions of the criminal code, truth is not a defence against a charge of violating the bans on statements expressing hatred or contempt for members of protected groups in the Canadian or Alberta human rights codes. Furthermore, the Supreme Court of Canada -- the most fearsomely oppressive institution in Canada today -- has decreed that the absence of truth as a defence in these codes does not violate the guarantee of freedom of expression in Section 2 of the Charter.

Apr. 24, 1999 - from "'Civil Rights' Trump Free Speech in Canada", a presentation to the Civitas National Conference, Toronto
[Supreme Court] ... judges who usurp the legislative authority of Parliament are an affront to democracy and the rule of law.

Sep. 05, 1998 - from "Chief Justice Should Explain the Egregious Feeney Ruling", published in the Montreal Gazette
Would elimination of [film production subsidies by governments] deal a mortal blow to film and television production in Canada? Surely not. Canadian film and television workers enjoy a huge competitive advantage in the form of a Canadian dollar that is worth less than 70 cents U.S. To insist that these talented Canadian workers should also benefit from unfair subsidies for foreign-content productions at the expense of other Canadian taxpayers makes no economic or moral sense.

Aug. 21, 1999 - from "Film-production subsidy war looming with the United States", published in the Financial Post
... the Supreme Court of Canada set an astonishing precedent [in its 1990 Schacter decision] by asserting that the Charter has empowered the courts to read new provisions into a statute law if, in the court's opinion, the change is necessary to make the law conform to the Charter.

1998 - from "Robed dictators", published in The Next City Magazine