“A Humanist Reflection on #Elxn42”

From what he promised during the campaign, there are lots of policies that I’ll be looking for Trudeau to follow through on, including:

♦ Action to legalize physician assisted dying

♦ Reversing the muzzling of scientists

♦ Keeping his commitment to be pro-choice

♦ Implementing the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Report and an inquiry into murdered and missing indigenous women

♦ Urgent action on the environment and climate change

♦ Democratic and electoral reform

And beyond that, I’ll also be hoping to see the new government:

♦ Add gender identity and expression to the human rights code

♦ Repeal Canada’s blasphemy law

♦ Close the Office of Religious Freedom or expand its scope to support freedom from religion

I’ll also echo the open letters from Amnesty International CanadaEvidence for Democracy’s Katie Gibbs, and BC resident Cassadra Effe. I think for many Canadians, there is a feeling of hope and change in the air.

Finally, I’ll also be watching the Conservative leadership race closely. I won’t be surprised if some contenders will try to reopen the abortion debate in Canada and roll back hard-fought rights. We need to make sure secular voices within the Conservative Party are heard, who are willing to stand up for freedom of expression, individual liberty and human rights.”

I share Bushfield’s expectations; however, I would like to see External Advisory Committee (EAC) on Religious Freedom disbanded and the Office of Religious Freedom closed.

10 thoughts on ““A Humanist Reflection on #Elxn42”

  1. “We need to make sure secular voices within the Conservative Party are heard”

    Is Bushfield off his medication, becoming delusional?

    • Somewhat delusional perhaps, maybe just optimistic.

      The most important single idea is to defend the right to not be religious. This will protect all the young adults from thuggish reprisals: both here and abroad.

  2. I think for many Canadians, there is a feeling of hope and change in the air.

    Casual southward glances over the past several years really ought to have inoculated Canadians against the blandishments of hopey-changey politicians with suspiciously thin resumes and little sign of the grit needed to make and implement tough decisions. Even as a non-humanist, I’d go along with about two-thirds of Bushfield’s laundry list, but whether Prime Minister Trudeau II (the Unready?) will be able to get much of it done seems questionable at best.

  3. “Prime Minister Trudeau II (the Unready?)”
    How about Trudeau the Younger.

    • Afraid he’ll turn out to be Pitt-iful?

      • On a positive note, he is young enough to learn. He was trained as a teacher.

        If Trudeau, the younger, evolves as a secular champion it would benefit us all. It would also make decision making, for himself, a lot easier. Secularism has to rely on rationalism almost exclusively.

        • It would also make decision making, for himself, a lot easier. Secularism has to rely on rationalism almost exclusively.

          Oh, I don’t know about that. Secularism comes in a few different flavours, but none of them offers much in the way of a positive set of goals, beyond ensuring that the government maintains some kind of neutrality in religious matters. Rationalism can help you figure out how to achieve your goals, but again can’t tell you which goals to pursue in the first place. For that you need something beyond secularism and rationalism – an ideology like humanism, perhaps, or at least a set of attitudes and aspirations.

          I agree, though, that Trudeau the Younger may grow into his new job. From what I’ve seen so far, though, it would have to be a remarkable transformation. He seems idealistic in a callow, sophomoric way that just doesn’t cut the mustard for the leader of a serious middle power in a turbulent world.

          • > Rationalism can help you figure out how to achieve your goals, but again can’t tell you which goals to pursue in the first place.

            That is not true at all. Of course rationalism can not only say which goals are worthwhile, it can suggest goals to begin with. It obviously can’t answer *ALL* questions – some questions have multiple equally rational answers, and there are some questions we cannot answer by rationality alone simply because we lack perfect information – but it simply not true that rationalism requires any sort of guiding principle to direct it.

            In fact, if you do want to combine rationalism with an ideology like humanism, that ideology has to be rational itself, or at least compatible with rationalism. You can’t combine an irrational ideology with rationalism – that wouldn’t make sense. Thus rationalism is fundamental; everything must start with rationalism – or at the very least be compatible with it – or you get nowhere.

            As for humanism specifically, it is not that rationalism is incomplete without it. In fact, humanism *IS* rationalism, just narrowly applied to specific questions. Humanism is a subset of rationalism.

            I do agree with you say about secularism – it is not intrinsically good. Secularism done for bad reasons is still bad, and it *can* be done for bad reasons. You can’t have a good government that isn’t secular, but you *can* have a bad government that is.

            > He seems idealistic in a callow, sophomoric way that just doesn’t cut the mustard for the leader of a serious middle power in a turbulent world.

            Couldn’t you just as easily say that about every new leader that has ever taken their first term power in the free world? Seems to me that exact statement could have been applied to Harper in 2006. The only difference was that Harper’s idealism was ultimately self-serving, while Trudeau’s is arguably more broadly and altruistically aimed (which you can call airheaded or pie-in-the-sky thinking, of course, but that’s just a matter of opinion). And, frankly, I’d say that’s a good thing.

          • “but it simply not true that rationalism requires any sort of guiding principle to direct it.
            In fact, if you do want to combine rationalism with an ideology like humanism”

            This is where I think your argument fails. Humanism is rational, in a sense, because it is practical from a human point of view. But….and this is a huge butt…. from a rational point of view humanity and its effect on life on earth can rationally be compared to a plague… climate change, mass extitinction…etc..

            So humanism is rational, for humans. But rationality, is about logical premises. If you remove the premise of human survival, then as the crazy animal rights types rationally point out, humans are not good for life on this planet. Sure we went to the moon, but so what? Humanism is primarily egocentric, and only rational, if you accept unsupported premises about our superiority.

  4. @Indi

    Humanism is a subset of rationalism.

    It’s actually closer to being the other way round, as far as I can see. If you accept the Humanist Manifesto as more or less representative of humanist thought, a commitment to rationalism is definitely in there, but there are also plenty of things that don’t follow automatically from a rationalist perspective (considering it “a planetary duty to protect nature’s integrity, diversity and beauty”, for example). Rationalism is just the idea that we can understand things through the use of reason. Rational thought can give you a pretty good idea of the likely consequences of feeding rat poison to your neighbour’s beloved poodle or becoming an organ donor, but can’t tell you (by itself) whether you should do those things.

    The only difference was that Harper’s idealism was ultimately self-serving, while Trudeau’s is arguably more broadly and altruistically aimed…

    Harper certainly had his drawbacks as a leader, but I don’t think excessive idealism was one of them. He seemed to understand perfectly well (a little too well, if anything) that life was always going to be tough and unfair, and that his ideas were always going to encounter significant opposition. As a result, his approach to governance was usually cautious, calculating and incremental. He chose his battles carefully, and fought them viciously. That’s pretty well the opposite of idealism.

    Maybe it takes just a touch of idealism to run for political office, but Trudeau the Younger appears to have endless heaps of the stuff without counterbalancing reserves of hard-headedness and strategic thinking. With luck he’ll either grow up fast or have the minimal sense to appoint a good cabinet and get the hell out of their way.

    @Joe

    I don’t think comparing humanity to a plague is particularly rational, given that Earth’s biosphere isn’t the kind of coherent, integrated entity that can succumb to sickness – it’s more like a shifting equilibrium among different species whose relationships with each other are competitive and exploitative. And even if we forget about the specific idea of humans being a plague, I don’t see how caring about the welfare of the Earth as a whole is any more (or less, admittedly) rational than caring about the welfare of humanity, or the welfare of a subset of humanity, or the price of tea in China. You care about what you care about, right?

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