Western Standard

The Shotgun Blog

« Enter, and Exit, the Iggy | Main | Harper says ‘no’ to PetroCanada and ‘yes’ to PetroChina »

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Anti-family, anti-freedom: Heather Forsyth is a bad fit for the new Wildrose Alliance

In 2006, the increasingly authoritarian Stelmach government in Alberta passed the Drug-endangered Children Act, and the sponsor of this legislation was MLA Heather Forsyth, Children's Services Minister at the time.

The new law stands out as one of the worst implemented under Stelmach’s regime, offending both pro-family and pro-freedom advocates in the province. In a column in the Calgary Sun about the new law, former Western Standard publisher Ezra Levant wrote:

Police in Alberta now have the power to seize children as old as 17 from their parents if there are any illegal drugs in the house.

Just to clarify: The kids might not even know about the drugs. Even the parents might not know the drugs are there. There might not even be any drugs -- just "a chemical or other substance" used to manufacture drugs. If any of these things are even in the house, police can seize the children.

Without a trial.

Showing his libertarian side, Levant criticized the law, calling it an "embarrassment" and a "political stunt":

Seizing children without a trial, who are not in any real danger, (other than from mould) does not strengthen our society, it weakens it. It puts the state ahead of the parent-child bond. It allows police to use children as weapons in a battle against their parents. That isn't right.

This is a political stunt, not an act of law and order. It is a circumscription of rule of law, a product of junk social science and cruel and unusual punishment.

It is the nanny state, backed up with guns. What an embarrassment to a government that claims to value families.

(h/t Richard Lake & The Media Awareness Project)

Seizing children from their parents for political reasons does, in fact, weaken society, as Levant argues. On that point, the Calgary Herald reported recently that:

Four of every five children under Alberta government care don't complete high school within three years of entering Grade 10, says the province's child advocate.

In an interview with the Herald, advocate John Mould said provincial data compiled for his latest annual report-- released this fall--confirms his concerns about the high school completion rates of Alberta's foster children.

The rate for children in care hovers around 18 per cent, while the provincial rate is about 70 per cent.

The state has a poor record when it comes to the care of children, but there is a bigger philosophical issue here. The family is the most important component of the social infrastructure of a free society, which is why real pro-family advocates often clash with social engineers.

On this point, in a post entitled "Institutional child care needs more critics," I wrote:

It’s hard to find a literary account of a dystopian society that doesn’t include some form of institutional child care.

In Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, human beings are born artificially in Hatcheries and Conditioning Centers and family life is unknown.

In Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, women of child-bearing age are forced to work as Handmaids, bearing children they will never raise.

In Ayn Rand’s Anthem, children are conceived in Controlled Palaces of Mating and raised by the state in the Home of the Infants.

In George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, family life is controlled and poisoned with suspicion and fear as children are encouraged to denounce their parents for real and imagined Thought Crimes.

While strong families are central to sustaining a free society, advocates for the family are generally well-meaning social conservatives who too often support legislation like the Drug-endangered Children Act. This is invariably counter-productive, to say the least. To empower families, we must first dis-empower the state, a lesson we can learn from history if not from Huxley, Atwood, Rand and Orwell.

Ezra Levant understands this brilliantly; Heather Forsyth does not, which should concern libertarians who have placed their hopes with the new Wildrose Alliance.

Forsyth is making news this week as one of the newest sitting members of the Wildrose Alliance, crossing the floor along with colleague Rob Anderson, the Tory MLA for Airdrie-Chestermere who reliable insiders say has libertarian leanings.

The reason we need the Wildrose Alliance in Alberta is precisely because of Tories like Heather Forsyth. She is anti-family and anti-freedom.

Sadly, as an early defector to the Wildrose Alliance, Forsyth will likely be given prominence in the party that could put her in a position to shape policy, and defend her own authoritarian legacy with the Tories. Consider this: Will a Wildrose Alliance government under libertarian leader Danielle Smith be able to repeal the Drug-endangered Children Act when the sponsor of this legislation is now part of her cabinet?

Heather Forsyth is a bad fit for the new Wildrose Alliance.

Posted by Matthew Johnston

Nothing captures the tyranny of big government quite like dystopian fiction. The books below are all valuable cautionary tales of the abuse of political power.

Posted by westernstandard on January 7, 2010 | Permalink


Wow, well written and good arguments. Best post on this site I think I've ever read. good job.

Posted by: Chris | 2010-01-07 1:35:16 PM

This is distressing news, Matthew. I wasn't aware that Forsyth was responsible for this ridiculous new law.

While I'm excited about the Wildrose Alliance (and how could anyone not be, with someone like Danielle Smith at the helm), having Forsyth on board is making me feel a little disheartened.

Posted by: P.M. Jaworski | 2010-01-07 1:42:13 PM

How is saving kids from drugs "anti-family" - if anything it is pro-family. The law appears to not go far enough.

Looks like your new party has proven to be a lemon. I recommend stop seeking absolute perfection and go for degrees.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2010-01-07 1:57:35 PM

I'm not looking for perfection, ZP. I'm still very hopeful that the Wildrose Alliance will lead Alberta back to prosperity and freedom.

The law in question, however, is anti-family as it literally breaks up the family even in those instances where children are well cared for.

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2010-01-07 2:04:28 PM

Thanks, Chris. I appreciate the positive feedback.

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2010-01-07 2:05:03 PM

Well this is a eye opener! I too had great hopes of the wildrose actually returning personal freedoms and common sense to Alberta - I may have been wrong. I have heard a few other comments in the media from Danielle that challenged my belief she is a true libratarion and made her appear to be just be the same old type politicians we have had in alberta, that are destroying alberta. You are right-Heather Forsyth is a very bad fit and I worry who will be next opportunist from the liberal er I mean conservative (in name only)party.

Posted by: JohnnieOil | 2010-01-07 2:29:28 PM

"While strong families are central to sustaining a free society" I realize this is the standard boilerplate churned out by christianity, but where is the actual evidence to support this claim?

"advocates for the family are generally well-meaning social conservatives" Is this not conjecture? Where is the evidence by way of measurable statistic to support this claim?

"This is invariably counter-productive, to say the least." How so? Who said? where is the evidence to support the opinion or at least the reasoning behind the claim.

"To empower families, we must first dis-empower the state a lesson we can learn from history if not from Huxley, Atwood, Rand and Orwell" propaganda, writers cloaked and then reported as historical fact by outright saying we can learn a historical lesson from some fiction novels regardless of what they represented philisophically, holy cow Matthew!

"Ezra Levant understands this brilliantly Heather Forsyth does not," one mans opinion,"understanding" is such a broad term. What Is Matthews level of understanding?

I could go on but I think I have made my point,and my point is, it is the best thing Chris has ever read.

Posted by: Vegan Philosopher | 2010-01-07 3:16:17 PM

Good article, its what keeps me coming back. Vegan, are you arguing just to argue? I like you, you offer up a different view on a lot of topics, but do you really think the government is the best parent a child can have? As to the Wild Rose Party, by accepting Forsyth into the party just proves they will be just like those before them. Once they belly up to the trough, all the high minded ideals will fade away, and they will be more focused on keeping their high paying jobs. If you expect anything different....well good luck with that.

Posted by: Steve Bottrell | 2010-01-07 3:52:38 PM

Vegan, I was not equating fiction writers to historians. I took care to distinguish the two. Please be a more careful readers. Thanks.

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2010-01-07 4:11:33 PM

Heather Forsyth can and should be taken out at the nomination stage ahead of the expected 2012 election.

Ideally, she will resign long before that and allow Danielle to take a seat in the legislature.

Her admission at this point serves only two purposes: a) she gets to stick it to Ed; b) WAP gets official party status and resources, and burns the NDP in the process.

Forsyth could, of course, renounce her bully state background. Few will hold their breath, hwvr.

Posted by: JC | 2010-01-07 4:16:05 PM

JC, excellent comment. I agree completely.

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2010-01-07 4:19:09 PM

"Good article, its what keeps me coming back. Vegan, are you arguing just to argue"...

Short answer yes, it has to do with Matthew fixing the fight to serve his limited ideals spectrum.

Posted by: Vegan Philosopher | 2010-01-07 4:31:11 PM

Vegan, I was not equating fiction writers to historians. I took care to distinguish the two. Please be a more careful readers. Thanks.

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2010-01-07 4:11:33
I guess you are correct I misread the last part probably due to seething. What about the first critisisms you disregarded because of one error at the end? Premise of my argument is still the same, and it is that you are just as opinionated and subjective based on only your perceptions as anybody on this site, so who made you the govenor of thought parameters? Please don't chastize me again in front of the guys its not fair when you are just a messanger and a devote of someone elses entire philosophy. We all matter or none of us do.

Posted by: Vegan Philosopher | 2010-01-07 4:45:32 PM


Taking kids away from their criminal junkie parents is a good thing.

The reason kids under Alberta's care perform so badly is precisely BECAUSE of garbage parents out their addicted to drugs and neglecting their children.

This legislation provides help for kids caught up in situtations in which their parents are getting their due justice.

Libertarians see a jack boot around every corner.

Posted by: Jeff | 2010-01-07 7:17:03 PM

Jeff, the parents in questions don't have to be "criminal junkies" as you put it.

As Levant points out, there doesn't have to be any drugs in the house, and even if the children are generally well cared for, they can be removed from the home.

It's bad legislation.

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2010-01-07 7:37:07 PM

The amount of bad parents due to drug use is minimal, meaning there really aren't that many of them. The media and government just makes it seem that they are on every block. This aside, instead of punishing them, how about helping them? Instead of feeding our money to the prison and justice systems where little is actually done to improve these peoples lives, lets funnel the money into programs that actually help instead. Addiction is a disease, not a crime.

Posted by: Steve Bottrell | 2010-01-07 8:37:10 PM

Who needs children anyways, just think of the freedom and extra drug money a person could have, its win win? The trick is getting the government to keep them until they are of age, so there are no legal implications after releasing them into the walmart work release program, or some other form of lifetime gainful employment.
This would also help government grow yet again which is first nature in our country so it must be right. I applaud the brave legislation, it was not at all an affront to induvidual liberty because induvidual liberty is a possession of government and not the induviduals right at all.

Posted by: V.....reagan Philosopher | 2010-01-07 9:06:20 PM

Hey, Jeff:

So glad you strongly support government approved drugs, aka pharmaceuticals -- otherwise you'd be calling for children to be removed from 90% of homes in this province. Legal drugs undoubtedly have a greater impact on society than the illegal variety. Minus the collateral damage from the War on Drugs, of course.

Perhaps too, we should take a closer look at all the booze out there in homes with children -- alcohol is widely acknowledged to do more damage to children than drugs ever have.

Next, we could take children out of homes that consume raw milk. The War on Farm Fresh Milk is only just heating up (or is that pasteurizing?)...

Jeff, the only jackboots I see are on your feet...

Posted by: JC | 2010-01-08 12:42:01 AM

We can turn our economy around, but it will be tough sledding. A new book is due out on Amazon.com that tells how we became the most prosperous nation in the world. It is called SAVE PEBBLE DROPPERS & PROSPERITY. You’ll find it on claysamerica.com. It points out why prosperity comes only from individual freedom. The economy will never recover as long as government strangles small business and start-ups in gear and in dreams. The jobs are found in the small, private sector created by pebble droppers, entrepreneurs with vision and a belief government will not interfere. Obama’s mercantilism is a virus. Claysamerica.com

Posted by: Clay Barham | 2010-01-08 8:56:13 AM


Seeing as you are Sociology PHD, how is it possible for you to ignore all the empirical data which makes clear that to be a conservative puts you on the side of religious ideology first, and real personal freedom no where in the scope of things? Please no pie in the sky about the conservative philosophy which is absent from reality, just the straight skinny dr.
Is your site evil disguised as freedom? I can see your efforts to manufacture consent, and I have no doubt some flock to your on HTML ideals but is that putting your education to good use, if its dishonestly agenda driven?
I like conservatives not, so let me have both of your NRA barrels, that you keep under your pillow.

Posted by: Vegan Philosopher | 2010-01-08 9:13:24 AM

I guess the handmaiden should have kept her mouth shut, let this be a lesson to dissenters, or even thinkers, toe the line! :)))

Posted by: Reagan Philosopher | 2010-01-08 9:32:15 AM

Hmm. Methinks that PC policy -- which includes what bills are passed -- is the province of Caucus exclusively. Caucus decisions, as we now know, are determined by Ed.

Just because Forsyth moved the bill doesn't have to mean that she agreed with it -- if it was Ed's agenda, she would have HAD to sponsor it, because she was the responsible Minister.

Posted by: John | 2010-01-08 4:53:26 PM

@John: Oh. So she was 'just following orders'?
And that makes it OK?
She should have resigned if she opposed the fascist legislation in question.
We have no evidence that she did oppose it.
She just trotted it out and imposed it on the people of Alberta.

Posted by: JC | 2010-01-08 5:51:18 PM

Do not overlook the fact that Rob Anderson was a main sponsor, if not also architect of, Bill 44, the dog's breakfast of a bill that amps up the Human Rights regime, and further complicates parents' relationship to state education.

The WAP appears at times to be drifting badly sideways in such a way as to make it difficult to say why they would be an improvement over the PCs.


Posted by: The Dog | 2010-01-12 1:38:49 PM

Does the leader of the WAP REALLY need to pay homage to the CBC's unfunny court jester?

On to more fun. I have a date with Rick Mercer at West Edmonton Mall this afternoon. 34 minutes ago from TwitterBerry

Posted by: The Dog | 2010-01-12 1:51:46 PM

I'll have to look into that, The Dog. Thanks for the great post.

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2010-01-12 5:52:23 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.