Saturday, June 09, 2007

Was The $30M Schwarzenegger-McGuinty Deal For Non-Embryonic Stem Cell Research?

Earlier this week Vote Life, Canada! sought to bring some pressure to bear on the Catholic Bishops of Canada in regard to the recent scandal caused by pro-abortion Catholic politicians who were “devout” and “dedicated” to their faith.

As you may know the Bishops, to date, have declined to address the scandal.

In the middle of this commotion, a day or two after our Press Release, we received an email from an MP who directed us to a news item indicating that the $30M Schwarzenegger-McGuinty deal would not involve embryonic stem cell research but rather adult stem cells from cancerous tumours. One sentence buried in the midst of a lengthy article by the National Post on Schwarzenegger’s visit, an article mostly surrounding economics and environmental issues, served to carry this vital information.

Vote Life, Canada! immediately set about to try to corroborate this information, recalling from experience that it is sometimes very difficult to get to the heart of the truth with large corporations and government organizations. Two years ago, in an effort to clarify details of reported funding for embryonic stem cell research by the Canadian Cancer Society [a different organization than the one to receive the $30M funding] the writer of this blog had to dig below the surface of standard public statements to get a clear picture of the truth.

And without surprise, arriving at a true picture related to this latest Ontario deal was going to require more than a simple phone call. After two days of calling and leaving messages for Dr. Tom Hudson, President and Scientific Director of the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, no calls had been returned; this despite the fact that Dr. Hudson was said to be in the office but at meetings.

Other phone calls were made to different parties in the cancer/stem cell field and some limited but useful information was gleaned from one individual high up in the food chain of Canadian embryonic stem cell research. Other phone calls and messages were not returned.

However, yesterday I was able to easily connect with the Communicators Director at the OICR and I had a helpful conversation regarding my inquiry. I was assured that the $30M stem cell funding was indeed directed towards [adult] cancer stem cell research and not human ESCR. The Director was forthright and appeared competent to answer my questions. It was certainly a relief to hear the Director’s assurances that the money would not be spent on ESCR but I was concerned when I learned that the OICR was not planning to issue any sort of public statement related to this matter. Wouldn’t it be wise to at least post the needed clarification on their website at least? Surely other Canadians are concerned about the issue.

I asked the Director if the OICR would respond in writing to a letter from me requesting confirmation of the information that was shared over the phone. The Director responded in the affirmative and so today I prepared a letter from Vote Life, Canada! to OICR covering the points of concern. Hopefully the letter from OICR will properly address the concerns and clear up the whole question.

I will report the contents of the letter to the Vote Life, Canada! blog as soon as it is received.


So now some readers will certainly ask: If the $30M deal was not going to support embryonic stem cell research, wasn’t the call by Vote Life, Canada! to Archbishop Collins a miscalculation and wasn’t it unwarranted?

Not in the least.

If efforts by Vote Life, Canada!, who combed the news reports for days for all available details, could miss that one sentence [with as yet unsubstantiated information], what can be expected of Mr. Joe Public? Obviously what’s in everyone’s mind, and particularly in the minds of the Catholic faithful, is that two renegade Catholic politicians are publicly defying the faith while claiming to be good Catholics and at the same time engaged in support of the gravely immoral activity of embryonic stem cell research. No one could be blamed for thinking exactly that. That was the perception and the perception is just as effective at scandalizing people as the truth itself.

It really doesn’t matter even if the Bishops knew the stem cell research wasn’t of the human embryonic kind because their knowledge would not in the least have cleared up the confusion in the minds of the faithful without an appropriate public statement. In addition there is the outstanding issue of the politicians’ claims to be in good standing with the Church which has been a long standing scandal with Canadian Catholic politicians and demands urgent address.

We get a very useful and timely example from Cardinal Pell in Australia, who has been the subject of three recent posts on the Vote Life, Canada! blog. In current news the Cardinal is making public statements, almost daily, on exactly the same kind of scandal involving Catholic politicians and the funding of embryonic stem cell research

Whether or not Cardinal Pell follows through on the legitimate discipline for these politicians which he has suggested may apply [and indeed it DOES apply!] at least the Cardinal can never be blamed for failing to address the public nature of the scandal, which is exactly what needed to be done in order to defend the faith and to remedy the scandal. He has condemned the separation of faith from political life which the politicians displayed and he has condemned in no uncertain terms the evil of embryonic stem cell research and everyone in Australia now knows it. The effectiveness of his approach is unarguable since even Australia’s national daily newspaper clearly states [scroll down to find the story] the core issues for the benefit of the entire nation and commends the Cardinal for holding fast to eternal truths.

This is precisely what Canada’s Bishops needed to do in our current circumstances with the recent visit of Governor Schwarzenegger.

Vote Life, Canada! therefore stands by its actions and its call to Canada’s Bishops.

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