Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Reflections on the Christian's call to Obedience to the State:

The two main texts that are referred to regularly: Romans 13:1-7, and 1 Peter 2:13-17.

Beginning with Romans 13:

One of the most important words in Romans 13:1-7 is the first word of verse 3: γὰρ (gar) - Strong's G1063 "a primary particle; properly, assigning a reason (used in argument) — and, as, because..."

"For (think: because) rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad"...

This is (at least part of) the reason given why we ought to be subject to authorities. However, when the opposite is true and rulers become a terror to good conduct and rewarders of bad this reason given by the Apostle has been voided.

Consider this question: "By what standard are good conduct and bad conduct to be determined?" Hopefully for the Christian the answer to this question is clear: it is the Bible, and not whatever the State tells us.

In verse 5 - The reasons for subjection are summarized as - "to avoid God’s wrath, but also for the sake of conscience"

Hopefully there is Christian agreement that God's wrath does not come against us for good conduct. If something is good, and our conscience bears us witness as to the truth of its goodness - then it cannot be sin, regardless of what the 'powers that be' have to say about it.

Romans 13 does not support unlimited obedience to bad laws - and ignoring rules which terrorize good conduct is not sinful.
For a conclusion - let's go to Romans 14: "Let every person be convinced in his own mind... ...For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin."

Continuing with 1 Peter 2:13-17:

The context of the exhortation is the Holy Spirit's instruction to: "Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God" (v.12)

"For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people" (v.15)

Again - we need to consider by what standard we should evaluate our actions as 'good' or 'bad', understanding that for the Christian the Bible is our standard.

The text speaks to the types of authorities we are to be subject to: "whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors"...   But we need to note this important qualifier: "to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right."

Again - right and wrong for the Christian are determined by the Bible's authority.  The same qualifier given by the Apostle Paul is given by the Apostle Peter by the authority of the Holy Spirit.

If the authorities are punishing evil and rewarding good then obedience is required.  However when it is reversed then it seems clear to me that the subjection is voided.  We do it 'for the Lord's sake' who is the sole arbiter of what is good/evil.

In the context of the passage, we are to do good as a witness to the glory of God.  But what if what we consider 'good' is actually thought of by "ignorant and foolish" people as 'evil'?  When "what is vile is exalted" (Psalm 12) this can be the case.

Regardless of what other people think - the scriptures are clear that the glory of God is shown by good works, according to God's standard, and not mere unthinking obedience to authorities.

In conclusion, these two main passages which speak to required obedience to authorities give very clear exceptions where rulers are rewarding evil and reprimanding good.  Our obedience ought to be 'for the Lord's sake' and for his Glory.  Let us allow His word be our guide.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Bonhoeffer on the Over-reaching State (1933)


I have been reading the excellent biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas entitled Bonhoeffer, Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy; A Righteous Gentile vs. The Third Reich (Thomas Nelson, 2010).  This book has been very interesting, enjoyable and enlightening and much is relevant for today given the overreach of various governments into civil and ecclesiastical spheres in their response to the Covid19 ‘pandemic’ that is continuing around the globe.


Bonhoeffer was unique in his prescience into the possibilities the laid ahead for Germany after Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in early 1933 when he was democratically elected as Chancellor of Germany.  At the earliest stages he began fighting against rights violations perpetrated by the Nazis when many in the church saw the issues as ‘minor’ and not worth taking a stand over.  Bonhoeffer is an excellent example of taking a stand at the earliest possible moment; he was intent to curb the Nazis as soon as he could, even when others were not aware of the danger.  This was shown through the essay he published in March 1933 which Metaxas presents and comments upon in his book.  I have paraphrased some passages of the book and present them below for consideration:


Bonhoeffer addressed and answered a vital question relating to the Church’s role for the state in his essay entitled “The Church and the Jewish Question”.  This essay was published shortly after March 1933 as a response to the Nazis ‘Aryan Paragraph’ which removed Jews from the civil service.  It was presented   In this essay Bonhoeffer outlined the role of the Church when the State has overstepped it’s bounds: The church must continually ask the state whether its actions can be justified as legitimate actions of the state. 


In other words the Church's role is to help the state be the state, according to its God ordained limits.  If the state is not creating an atmosphere of law and order, as the scripture says it must, then it is the job of the church to draw the state’s attention to this failing.  And if, on the other hand, the state is creating an atmosphere of “excessive law and order,” it is the Church’s job to draw attention to that too.  The Church can never accept a situation in which “excessive law and order” deprives the right to Christian practice.  Bonhoeffer called this “a grotesque situation”. “The church,” Bonhoeffer said “must reject this encroachment of the order of the state precisely because of its better knowledge of the state and the limitations of its legitimate actions.  The state which endangers the Christian proclamation negates itself”.

Bonhoeffer then went on to enumerate two additional responsibilities of the church in response to state actions that stray from their legitimate role.  Firstly, the Church is “to aid the victims of state action”.  He said that the church “has an unconditional obligation to the victims of any ordering of society”.  This for Bonhoeffer extends to those even outside the Christian community – he was here referring to the Jews in the specific context.  “Do good to all men” he quoted from the book of Galatians. 

Secondly, Bonhoeffer describes that for the church it “is not just to bandage the victims under the wheel, but to put a spoke in the wheel itself”.  The translation is awkward, but in essence Bonhoeffer is envisioning a stick being jammed into the spokes of a wheel to stop the vehicle’s motion.  It is not enough to help those crushed by the evil actions of the state; at some point the church must directly take action against the state to stop it from perpetrating evil.  This is permitted only when the state ceases to be the state as defined by God (i.e. goes beyond punishing wrongdoers) and threatens the practices of the church.  “A church which includes within itself a terrorized church has lost its most faithful servant” - for Bonhoeffer, a state which persecutes or curtails the church’s worship and sets itself against Gospel proclamation has negated itself.

In the spring of 1933 at the first beginnings of Jewish persecution by the Nazis in Germany Bonhoeffer was declaring the duty of the Church to stand up for the oppressed.  At the time this seemed radical even to Bonhoeffer’s most staunch allies in the Church, since the persecutions seemed ‘only minor’ and the horrors that the Jews would suffer later on had not entered people’s minds. 

Bonhoeffer’s three conclusions: the church must question the state, help the state’s victims, and work against the state if necessary, were almost too much for everyone at the time.  But for Bonhoeffer they were inescapable and, in time, he would do all three.

(Eric Metaxas: Bonhoeffer Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy; A Righteous Gentile vs. the Third Reich pg. 152-155)

(Bonhoeffer was executed by the Nazis for his role in a failed attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler)


Thursday, July 16, 2020

Mandatory Masks Letter -

Dear Honorable Councilors,

I am deeply concerned by the passage of the proposed Mask Bylaw at our Board of Health meeting last Friday.

The proposal for a mask bylaw within our City is not supported by science and the present situation in our City does not warrant it.  It is an egregious affront to our civil liberties and personal autonomy and is not likely to survive a challenge under our Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  Mask use in the general public is dehumanizing, alienating and a sign of separation and oppression that has no place in Canada, Ontario and specifically in our great City of Hamilton which I love.

Firstly, the situation in Hamilton does not warrant this Bylaw:

As I am writing this letter I checked the Status of Cases information on the City of Hamilton website and it appears there are only 14 cases left in our community.  From 860 confirmed positive cases, 802 resolved, and there were 44 deaths, this leaves a balance of 14 remaining cases, with only one individual hospitalized.

Hamilton entered Stage 2 of the Ontario reopening plan on June 19th, 2020 – that is nearly 4 weeks ago.  Since that time there have been only 74 new cases in our City.  In contrast, in the 4 week period before June 19th (May 22 to June 19th) there were 173 new cases and during the 4 week period before May 22nd (April 24th to May 22nd) there were 236 new cases.

Suffice to say that although we have opened our City significantly and although we have increased the availability of testing for Covid19 significantly, the number of Covid19 cases has not increased.  We are on a positive trajectory and there is no reason to assume that this will change in the near future. 

On the provincial level we can see that we are at the end of the curve of this pandemic

There is no reason for preemptive masking measures, as can be seen, despite our province’s reopening, on the whole the number of cases has continued to decline.  Given the potential harms that go along with mask wearing I believe that our City should consider the option of waiting to see whether there is any uptick in cases before enacting such strong measures as universal masking. 

Secondly, the current science behind mask use is questionable at best as you will see in the following paragraphs:

The science regarding mask use pre-pandemic has always been clear – the reduction in the spread of influenza and other respiratory illnesses due to the use of cloth masks is not detectable.

In 2019 the World Health Organization compiled a document entitled “Non-pharmaceutical public health measures for mitigating the risk and impact of epidemic and pandemic influenza1 – the purpose of this document was to provide recommendations for the use of Non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) in future influenza epidemics.  The method for the development of the document was to identify NPIs that had potential to mitigate pandemics, evaluate the evidence for their effectiveness and provide recommendations for their use / non-use.  Masks are an NPI which was evaluated in this document.

In order to evaluate the effectiveness of the Masks the Who undertook a systematic review of the scientific literature i.e. studies that evaluated the benefits of mask use in controlled settings.  Their conclusion regarding mask use was as follows:

“Ten RCTs were included in the meta-analysis, and there was no evidence that face masks are effective in reducing transmission of laboratory-confirmed influenza.”

 The recommendation regarding masks in the originally published document was for use by symptomatic people only.  Since that time the recommendation has been updated and it notes that masks are recommended for asymptomatic people only in severe pandemics or epidemics, and the recommendation notes:

“There is no evidence that this (wearing of surgical masks) is effective in reducing transmission”

It is not clear why the WHO would recommend mask wearing when they themselves admit that there is no scientific evidence for their efficacy. 

In any case, what we have in Hamilton cannot be classified any longer as a ‘severe pandemic’ – with only one individual in hospital, and 14 live cases identified in the community.  The spread of the virus has been decreasing and continues to do so despite the fact that our City is opening up.

The general advice regarding mask wearing prior to Covid19 has always been that masks are for the symptomatic only; or those caring for symptomatic individuals.  For example the Journal of the American Medical Association notes the following in their guidance on the use of masks:

When Should a Mask Be Used?
Face masks should be used only by individuals who have symptoms of respiratory infection such as coughing, sneezing, or, in some cases, fever. Face masks should also be worn by health care workers, by individuals who are taking care of or are in close contact with people who have respiratory infections, or otherwise as directed by a doctor. Face masks should not be worn by healthy individuals to protect themselves from acquiring respiratory infection because there is no evidence to suggest that face masks worn by healthy individuals are effective in preventing people from becoming ill. Face masks should be reserved for those who need them because masks can be in short supply during periods of widespread respiratory infection. Because N95 respirators require special fit testing, they are not recommended for use by the general public3
The WHO changed that advice on June 5, 2020 when they released the document entitled:
“Advice on the use of masks in the context of COVID-19, Interim guidance2
This document notes: “Many countries have recommended the use of fabric masks/face coverings for the general public. At the present time, the widespread use of masks by healthy people in the community setting is not yet supported by high quality or direct scientific evidence and there are potential benefits and harms to consider (see below).”

The potential disadvantages are listed as follows:

• potential increased risk of self-contamination due to the manipulation of a face mask and subsequently touching eyes with contaminated hands;(48, 49)

• potential self-contamination that can occur if non-medical masks are not changed when wet or soiled. This can create favourable conditions for microorganism to amplify;

• potential headache and/or breathing difficulties, depending on type of mask used;

• potential development of facial skin lesions, irritant dermatitis or worsening acne, when used frequently for long hours;

• difficulty with communicating clearly;
• potential discomfort

• a false sense of security, leading to potentially lower adherence to other critical preventive measures such as physical distancing and hand hygiene;

• poor compliance with mask wearing, in particular by young children;

• waste management issues; improper mask disposal leading to increased litter in public places, risk of contamination to street cleaners and environment hazard;

• difficulty communicating for deaf persons who rely on lip reading;

The document goes on to note:

“If masks are recommended for the general public, the decision-maker should:…

• inform/train people on when and how to use masks safely (see mask management and maintenance sections), i.e. put on, wear, remove, clean and dispose;

• consider the feasibility of use, supply/access issues, social and psychological acceptance (of both wearing and not wearing different types of masks in different contexts);

• evaluate the impact (positive, neutral or negative) of using masks in the general population (including behavioral and social sciences).

In light of this information, I have the following concerns:

Why is the City of Hamilton recommending this violation of our Civil Liberties without strong scientific support that the measures proposed will be effective?

Why is our Board of Health using the World Health Organization as a reference in their report to Council, when their recommendation does not match the WHO’s own documents?

Has the City clearly considered all the potential disadvantages to mask use as noted above?

What is the City of Hamilton doing to mitigate these disadvantages?

Since mask use leads to relaxing of other measures, will this universal mask bylaw actually have a negative effect and cause an increase in cases in our community?

How is the City of Hamilton going to train our 600,000 citizens in the proper use of masks?

Has the City considered the psychological harms of mask use?  Both for wearers; an increased sense of fear and foreboding danger; and for non-wearers; vilification, shaming, shunning etc.?

Has the City considered the impact to deaf individuals within our City and those who are hard of hearing who will no longer be able to lip-read in Public?

Is the City of Hamilton opening themselves up to possible litigation due to negative consequences of mask wearing?

I now wish to turn my attention to the Board of Health report which was presented at the committee meeting on Friday July 10th.  I have reviewed the report and I have the following observations and concerns:

The report notes that the by law: “shall be reviewed by the Board of Health every 3 months unless directed otherwise by City Council.”

What criteria will the Board of Health be using to determine whether this Bylaw can be repealed?  What criteria will City Council use to direct Public Health to review this Bylaw?  There is no documentation within this bylaw to note that it is a temporary measure or that it should be repealed at the earliest opportunity. 

There is no criteria in the bylaw to call for its own removal.  Given we are enacting this bylaw in a setting in which community spread is declined, hospitalizations are nearly at zero and there are only 14 active cases, what else can we see happen that will make our City comfortable that this is not necessary?

The Executive Summary of the Board of Health report notes that: “Some jurisdictions around the world, including many in the United States, are experiencing a resurgence of cases since re-opening.”

The primary examples given for this in the media are Texas and Florida, however it is also being widely reported in the media that the case counting in these States is far from accurate.  In any case, Florida and Texas have far fewer deaths for their population that Ontario.  Why should what is happening in the southern states have any bearing on the conversation relating to our City?  Hamilton has started opening and the number of cases has declined.  There are a myriad of factors, which could be affecting case transmission in such distant jurisdictions, and so I fail to see why this is relevant to Hamilton.  Hamilton is opening and our cases are continuing to decline, information from the southern states is irrelevant.

Throughout the document the word ‘Enclosed’ is used, however a definition of enclosed is not provided.  Presumably, this word means ‘indoor’ spaces, however indoor spaces vary significantly in size, space, airflow etc.  Given the differences that can exist, why are all enclosed spaces being painter with the same ‘danger’ brush?

The Executive Summary notes that the science on non-medical masks is not definitive. As in my question above - How can our City Council impose a bylaw which severely infringes the rights of Hamiltonians to personal autonomy on the basis of science that is ‘not definitive’?

The Executive Summary notes that jurisdictions with ‘mandates’ have seen more people complying.  Yes – the threat of punitive measures will get you forced compliance.  Make no mistake about what you are doing, you are no longer encouraging – the passing of a bylaw means you are forcing me and my family to wear a mask in public.  I take strong exception to this.

The Executive Summary notes that - “More widespread wearing of masks and face coverings may act as a visual cue that public health measures, including maintaining a physical distance from others, are still required”

This contradicts the idea that masks use is for enclosed areas where social distancing cannot be practiced.  This also contradicts the WHO’s warning that masks provide a heightened perception of ‘security’ which may lead to relaxing of other measures such as physical distancing.  It is very likely that what you are doing will actually lead to greater spread of Covid19 due to an assumed safety behind an ineffective mask.

Within the Historical Background section of the Board of Health report it fails to mention that on June 23rd Dr. Ninh Tran was quoted in the Hamilton Spectator as saying: “We are not looking at making masking mandatory”

On June 29th however, our Mayor, seemingly without the support of Public Health, made a political statement together with other GTHA mayors asking the province to enact mandatory masks. 

This leaves me wondering whether Public Health was driving the bus with respect to our Public Safety, or was this report compiled after the fact as political support for our Mayor, who stepped out on his own accord to score political points?  To what degree are politics playing into this recommendation for mandatory masks?  Was the Board of Health report prepared before or after these statements from our Mayor?

Within the Analysis and Rationale portion of the report it is noted that “the World Health Organization strongly recommend the wearing of masks or face coverings where physical distancing cannot be maintained”.  However if you refer to my quotations from the official WHO documents above, this statement is a stretch.  They conditionally recommended them in severe pandemics where there is widespread community spread, while noting the lack of evidence for their efficacy as well as the associated dangers.

The Board of Health report discusses the spread of Covid19 – however they do not note significant information relating to the spread of Covid19.

The New England Journal of Medicine has noted in a study published on May 21, 20204 that the transmission of the virus requires prolonged contact.  An exerpt from the study is contained below -

The accepted mechanism for the spread of Covid19 is prolonged contact with an infected person for at least several minutes - the mask bylaw does nothing to address this.  The mask bylaw will cover our faces for brief passing moments in indoor commercial settings.  This is not how the virus is spreading; it spread through long term contact with infected individuals in places like retirement homes and Long-term Care facilities.

The evidence provided within the Board of Health report regarding the effect of masking in certain jurisdictions around the globe is anecdotal at best.  While areas such as Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea did better in terms of total cases, the degree to which masks played into that outcome is unknown. 

China is also a nation which uses masks readily and culturally, however that was the epicenter of the pandemic and the virus spread from through and around China, and from China to the world despite China’s widespread mask use.

The Board of Health report noted that face coverings can act as a visual cue for other measures such as physical distancing, however the WHO has cautioned that masking actually provides a false level of security and will lead to a decrease in such practices as physical distancing.  This has been my observation – when people wear masks they feel safe and don’t hesitate to get into each other’s space, when in fact a better option would be to physically distance from each other.

The Board of Health report notes that there are numerous potential negative unintended consequences to universal masking, such as:

· There may be in individual level impacts such as facial dermatitis, facial lesions, itchiness and skin irritation, worsening acne, fogging of glasses, difficulty in clear communication;

· If worn improperly, facial coverings use can present the opportunity to contaminate the wearer; lack of hand hygiene may also cross contaminate the environment

· Individuals who may not be able to tolerate face coverings (e.g. underlying medical conditions) may be stigmatized;

· Depending on how policies are enforced, income and other inequities may be exacerbated (e.g. for those who lack access to masks and face coverings); and,

· Impact on the PPE supply chain should individuals use medical masks in non-health care settings.

These are significant consequences and are almost certain to occur given the requirement for widespread masking.

Personally, I have mild asthma; however it is exacerbated by mask use and especially in hot temperatures.  I have seen the vitriol in online forums against those who question the need for universal masking and I am anticipating that I will be the subject of vilification, shaming and shunning if I am unable to wear my mask.

As I noted above – the question as to what degree the City are opening themselves to legal challenges and lawsuits due to negative impacts from masks within our City needs to be considered.  If residents sue the City of Hamilton who will ultimately be paying for their settlements?  The tax-payers, or the Board of Health and city councilors who enacted this Bylaw despite the protests of tax paying citizens?

Other questions that I have related to these possible negative impacts are as follows:

To what degree is the City providing adequate training for the proper wearing of masks? 

To what degree will the City be held liable for not providing proper training?

What about those citizens who cannot afford masks?

The Board of Health report notes that the science on face coverings continues to evolve, they then go on to cite numerous studies that were completed since the start of the Pandemic. 

While I understand the need for ‘live-science’ in such a situation as our Pandemic, the ‘Hard-science’ i.e. random control tests which were designed to remove bias have always shown that masks DO NOT work.  Science does not change just because there is a pandemic, the rush to publish new work without peer-review and without oversight leaves these studies very open to possible biases and unrepeatable conclusions.

The Board of Health study also references ‘modelling studies’ however after the debacle which was our province’s reliance on modelling I hope we are not continuing to base public policy on models.  We were told that we could experience up to 100,000 deaths in our province based on ‘modelling’ – that number now appears so ridiculous that it was a crime for it to be presented to the public.  I deny that the City should or can even legally curtain our rights to personal autonomy based on theoretical modelling, and in the face of the ‘Hard-science’ that shows that masks do not work.

At best the masks will provide some source control for coughing and sneezing.  However, those who are coughing and sneezing should be tested for Covid19 and stay home as these are symptoms of the virus.  In any case, your sleeve or elbow are just as effective in blocking a cough or sneeze as a mask.  Masks need to be discarded after you cough into them or sneeze into them as they become a wet breeding ground for bacteria and other viruses.

On a personal note:

Personally I find masks to be dehumanizing and alienating. Showing your face is a beautiful part of our culture that I value highly. You cannot connect with someone or communicate well on a personal and empathetic level with your face covered. Face coverings are for thieves and robbers aren't they? Not for open, healthy, friendly Canadians with nothing to hide - they are a sign of separation and oppression.

To overcome the fears we need to keep opening up and getting back to normal so people can see there is little to be afraid of.  We have a City that is paralyzed by fear and a presentation of the facts, such as where we are on the curve, the decrease in cases and the decrease in hospitalizations – these items are better ways to encourage our City to get back to business.

Given the facts I have outlined above I wish to summarize as follows:

1.     The requirement for universal masks is a violation or personal autonomy, our Civil liberties and Charter rights, it is dehumanizing, alienating and a sign of separation and oppression that has no place in Canada, Ontario and specifically in our great City of Hamilton which I love.

2.     The situation within Hamilton and our Province does not warrant the proposed measures we are doing fine as we continue to open up and cases continue to decline.

3.     The science regarding mask use is clear that they do not work.  The evidence provided by the Board of Health in support of mask use is anecdotal at best and contradicts other valid Health authorities such as the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of the American Medical Association and the World Health Organization.

4.     It is very problematic that there is no clear metric within the Board of Health Report or the Bylaw itself to note when this bylaw will be repealed.  The Bylaw is not even noted specifically as a temporary bylaw.  How will Council determine that these measures can be ended?

5.     Due to the potential negative impacts of masks, their disadvantages and problems noted by various health authorities the City of Hamilton is opening the public up to lawsuits and litigation which will have to be settled by tax payer contributions.  Our City cannot afford this in our weakened fiscal position due to the virus.

6.     The City is not valuing equity and the rights of those who cannot afford masks or cannot wear masks due to health reasons.  Your bylaw has the effect of vilifying and shaming those who cannot wear masks due to the cost or other health issues.

Given these facts, I ask that our Council reconsider universal mask use within our City.  It is unjustified and unwarranted and I and my family am strongly against these measures.  I want what is best for my City and this bylaw is not in the best interests of the City of Hamilton.

Thank you for your consideration.

Best Regards,  Andrew Smith

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Hamilton Mask Wearing - Mandatory???

Re: Hamilton Mask Wearing - Mandatory???

Dear Mayor and Councilors,

I was so startled to see the news in our Spectator today that our Mayor has come out in support of mandatory masks in our City.

Can this be true?  

There is no scientific evidence that mask wearing can impact the transmission of coronaviruses or any other influenza like respiratory illnesses.

This is acknowledged by the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association and many other renowned experts in influenza and other health matters.

From the WHO:
Non-pharmaceutical public health measures for mitigating the risk and impact of epidemic and pandemic influenza" (pg.20) - 'Masks worn by asymptomatic people are conditionally recommended in severe epidemics or pandemics, to reduce transmission in the community. Although there is no evidence that this is effective in reducing transmission, there is mechanistic plausibility for the potential effectiveness of this measure.'  

And if you look further at the Appendix which contains the scientific literature review that led to their recommendation it notes: "Ten RCTs (randomized control trials) were included in meta-analysis, and there was no evidence that face masks are effective in reducing transmission of laboratory-confirmed influenza."

Further from the WHO:
"Non-medical, fabric masks are being used by many people in public areas, but there has been limited evidence on their effectiveness and WHO does not recommend their widespread use among the public for control of COVID-19..." 

From the Journal of the American Medical Association:
"When Should a Mask Be Used?... Face masks should not be worn by healthy individuals to protect themselves from acquiring respiratory infection because there is no evidence to suggest that face masks worn by healthy individuals are effective in preventing people from becoming ill." 

It is amazing to me that our councillors would suggest a significant intrusion into the details of the lives of your constituents and the operations of our many important businesses where there is NO SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE that such measures will have any benefit.

If people want to wear a mask that is fine.  I am not even that opposed to seeing their use "encouraged" or opposed to businesses requiring them.  I wore one while I got my haricut on Saturday, no problem.  However - I take strong issue with passing of By-laws, complete with punitive measures and fines in support of something for which there is no scientific evidence for the efficacy.

What we need from our councillors is reassurance that this virus is nearly beat in our community - we are down to 90 (ish) cases the last time that I checked and the numbers keep going down.  Our death count is very low when reviewed against comparable Municipalities and for this we should be thankful.  

If this matter proceeds to discussion at a Council meeting I will be entering my letter into the record and may attempt a delegation request so that this can be discussed further.  

Please do the right thing.  Mandatory masks are not right for Hamilton.

Best Regards, 

Andrew & Nadine Smith (Petra, Daniel, Fanny)
25 Bentley Place
Hamilton, ON  

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Where has the Covid19 danger really been?

Where has the Covid19 danger really been? 

Long-term-care (LTC) facilities.  What a travesty. 
The reporting from our military over the conditions found there are sobering.

81% of Canadian deaths have been amongst residents of LTC facilities, in Ontario that is some 1745 deaths of 2155 total deaths 

Let that sink in. 
410 deaths amongst 14,730,000 people of Ontario not in LTC. 
1745 deaths among the +/- 70,000 residents of LTC facilities.

Some stats on LTC residents: 90% have some form of cognitive impairment, 86% need extensive help with activities such as eating and going to the washroom, 80% have neurological diseases, 76% have heart/circulation disease, 40% need monitoring for acute medical conditions, 50% of residents are over age 85. 

The average time spent by a resident in a long-term care facility before death is 2 years – this is the last stop before heaven. 

I am not saying their deaths are any less of a tragedy, all death is a tragedy.  But, these people were already ‘locked down’ – and it actually made things worse for them.  People have brought the virus to them because it was rampant in the community before the lockdown was even implemented. 

Imagine being locked down in your home, but people kept coming and going all day long and you could do nothing about it.  Couldn’t leave, couldn’t avoid them.  The only grace I see in this is that many of these folks don’t realize what happened, and given their age hopefully most of them had a chance to hear the Gospel during their lifetimes.

The only way to protect them is to quarantine the sick from having access to them.  However it is clear that the virus was rampant in the community prior to the lockdowns being implemented, because people were not going into these facilities with symptoms, but they left passing the virus to residents.

Biblical quarantine laws are applicable here and their wisdom is valid.  Quarantine the sick; keep them away from the healthy.  You can read about it in Leviticus 13.  In the case of LTC facilities, ‘the camp’ is the facility.  The sick is assumed to be everyone, given the plausibility of asymptomatic cases.  Show yourself to the priest: is ‘get tested for Covid19’.  No one should have been going in and out without testing, from day one.  I will write again later about why and how this quarantine law should have been applied wisely to the general populace.

We should be concerned about this because of what happened and the conditions that have come to light.  But also - let's face it - there is a good possibility that many of us will be in these facilities one day.  If nothing changes that is a scary thought.  

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Doug Ford extended the emergency orders until June 9th and I ask, for what purpose?

Doug Ford extended the emergency orders until June 9th and I ask, for what purpose? 


We were told these measures were to flatten the curve so our healthcare system was not overwhelmed.  If you accept that justification then please review the current hospitalization statistics.  We have 33,000 ward beds in Ontario; right now 850 people are hospitalized with Covid19.  We have 2000+ ICU spaces, right now 134 spaces are being used for those with Covid19.  My neighbors are both nurses, they have told me that the Hospitals have been ghost towns, though now finally some regular things are starting to pick up again. 


If the justification was flatten the curve - to what level?  Below the capacity of our hospitals.  It’s been done.  What is the purpose at this point? 


They tell us to prepare for a second wave.  There was never a first wave.  The projected ‘bad-case’ scenarios were so far off it amazing.  Examples:  Hamilton maximum 19 of 450 extra Covid beds were ever used.   Burlington Joseph Brant Hospital: rushed to erect a 93 bed Covid19 unit for the uprush in patients, none were used yet to my knowledge.


I have posted statistics twice in the past on here relating to age category cases and deaths.  97% of deaths are amongst those over age 60.  The last time I checked zero deaths had occurred under age 20, your chances of fatality if you are age 20-39 is 0.3% (worst case), if you are age 40-59 is 1% (worst case). 


I say worst case because these numbers are based on cases revealed by testing.  Not everyone with Covid19 is tested, only those with the worst symptoms who are bad enough to go to the hospital.  There are many more cases present in the community than have been revealed by testing. 


For example, Spain completed anti-body testing amongst 60,000 of their residents.  This antibody study revealed that only 9.2% of cases had been revealed by testing.  Basically this means that you can adjust the death statistics downwards by a factor of 10, so 0.3% becomes 0.03%.  1% = 0.1%.  This coincides with studies in other jurisdictions which indicated that the number of actual cases could be up to 20x more than those revealed by testing.  In fact CDC has now reported that the estimated Case Fatality Rate amongst all age categories is 0.26% or 1 in 385.  This is very low.  The yearly flu rate is about 0.15%.


Why would we shut down the entire economy, lock people at home and put them out of work for something that is of negligible risk to the vast majority of the population?  65 is the age of retirement in Ontario.  I would hazard a guess that well over 90% of people over age 65 do not have to go to work to earn an income day by day.  It is much easier for them to stay put.  Those aged 20-60 though is another story; most of us do need the opportunity to earn an income.  All ages are important and all people are important, but it is a fact that some can stay at home and protect themselves easier than others.  I will gladly serve our elders and bring them groceries etc. if it means that my friends can all go back to work.  


Where has the danger really been?  Long-term-care (LTC) facilities.  What a travesty.  83% of Canadian deaths have been amongst residents of LTC facilities, in Ontario that is some 1789 deaths of 2155 total.  Let that sink in.  Only 366 deaths amongst 14,730,000 people of Ontario not in LTC.  1789 deaths among the +/- 70,000 residents of long-term care facilities.  


Some stats on LTC residents: 90% have some form of cognitive impairment, 86% need extensive help with activities such as eating and going to the washroom, 80% have neurological diseases, 76% have heart/circulation disease, 40% need monitoring for acute medical conditions, 50% of residents are over age 85.  The average time spent by a resident in a long-term care facility before death is 2 years – this is the last stop before heaven.  I am not saying their deaths are any less of a tragedy, but these people are already ‘locked down’ – and it doesn’t help them.  People have brought the virus to them anyways.  Imagine being locked down in your home, but people kept coming and going all day long and you could do nothing about it.


It was known that these were the people at risk, so ignorance is no excuse.  We had ample data from Italy showing that the deaths were amongst those age 80+ and mostly in LTC.  Ontario’s own statistics on case-fatality-ratios (CFR) from the slides presented April 2, 2020 showed that only 7 of 67 deaths at that time had been among those less than age 60, while 36 were above 80, with a CFR of 16%.  So why were the elderly not protected?  They should have been testing everyone who went in and out from day one. 


Quarantine the sick.  But once the virus is out – we are all assumed sick, so there is no point in a lockdown.  Places where the vulnerable are located such as LTC facilities can be protected through restricted access and testing.


Once the virus is in the population it is impossible to stop it spreading.  It is debatable whether the lockdowns can even slow the spread.  Perhaps to a small degree at best.  It has been documented though that within the United States there is no correlation between the degree of lockdown measures and the spread of the virus.  If anything, the states with stronger isolation measures were hit harder.  In any case, the spread in Ontario has been slowed sufficiently that hospitals are not at risk of turning anyone away.   It is well past time for the lockdown to be ended.




Monday, May 09, 2016

OCHEC Conference, Notes

Nadine and I had the joy of attending the annual conference of the Ontario Christian Home Educators' Connection (OCHEC) this past Friday and Saturday at Redeemer University College in Ancaster.  The conference featured keynote addresses from Jonathan Lewis, the editor of Home School Enrichment Magazine and Mike Farris, the founder of Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) and the founder and chancellor of Patrick Henry College.  In addition to the keynote speeches there were numerous workshops covering a myriad of topics pertinent to home education and other related issues.  There was also a large group of exhibitors displaying all the latest curriculum materials for parents to browse and/or purchase.


All in all it was a great weekend.  My mom graciously came over and watched our daughter during the day and they had a blast together.  As for Nadine and I, though with a 4-month old in tow we were limited with respect to the amount of activities we could participate in, we still found the weekend to be a rewarding experience (even though Nadine got sick on Saturday....  thankfully she is feeling better now).


I am hoping to make several posts with summaries of the various workshops which we participated in.  The first is below, it was the opening address from Jonathan Lewis entitled, 'Strength in our Convictions: Eight Reasons Why Homeschooling is Worth It'. 


Though the talk was primarily directed at parents already homeschooling, I hope all parents will take the time to consider his points below.  When people ask me why we are planning to home-school my response is that 'It is our conviction that Christian education is the God honoring path which parents should take, and who better than parents to carry out that task'. 


I usually get the 'that's nice' response, both from Christians and non-Christians and a frank discussion rarely ensues.  It can be difficult to discuss this subject with other parents; I feel that this is because many parents can feel threatened when someone questions their parental choices.  Is it a matter of personal preference, or does the Bible speak clearly regarding education?  How can the principles of wisdom found in God's word lead us to correct conclusions on this subject?  I hope these are questions we are all willing to ask. 


Emotions aside, I hope that all parents can consider objectively what God requires of us and where the path of wisdom leads with respect to educating our children.  I found the points below to be well worth contemplating.



Strength in our Convictions: 8 Reasons Why Home-Schooling is Worth It

(Jonathan Lewis)

Homeschooling is about convictions.

1.  Without God Learning is Empty:

-"What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world yet forfeits his very soul?" 

 -secular education has been set up as society's saviour, but it cannot save (Christ Alone can save!) 

 -Theology and Anthropology are the two most important subjects (Theology, Who God Is - Anthropology, Who We Are)

-Secular education by definition leaves God out - but how can we leave out the very foundation of knowledge? 

-education without reference to God is dishonoring to our creator and builds on a foundation of sand that is sure to collapse.

2.  Virtue is More Important than Academics:

-it is evident that there is a crisis of character in our world today

-character training simply does not take place in public schools today

-despite good intentions of some teachers, with 30 students 'character training' often amounts to crowd control

-one teacher cannot nurture and develop 30 students by themselves
-character is king, and a child with character makes a better student

-education should prepare our children for a life of virtuous service to others, and is ultimately training for eternity

3.  There is more to School than Books:

-there is success you cannot quantify on standardized tests

-life itself is the test and education should be about life itself

-with homeschooling life is our curriculum and the world is our classroom

-virtue is its own reward, and a life lived for Christ trumps academic achievement

-homeschooling combines the best of both, it is statistically better academically speaking

4.  No one can take care of a child better than their own parents:

-the experts are not more qualified than you are

-studies have shown that greater amount of schooling in education (i.e. M.A. in Education) does not correlate to better teacher performance

-if God has given you specific children he has also equipped you to educate them

5.  There is no such thing as an 'average child':

-mediocrity is the wellspring of uniformity

 -classrooms are like assembly lines of education with a 'one-size fits all approach

-homeschoolers can be free from the 'grade-level' mentality
-children can be gifted in out subject and struggle in another, homeschooling gives more freedom to spend time where it is needed

-one-on-one time from a parent who loves and cares for their child far more than any teacher cannot be beat

6.  Socialization Isn't Everything: Better no socialization than bad socialization.

-the best is positive socialization that is accomplishes a purpose

-"It is better to be alone than in bad company" - George Washington 

-schools are heavily peer based (e.g. 30 students, one teacher)
-"Do not be deceived 'Bad company corrupts good morals'" (quoted by the Apostle Paul, 1 Cor.15:33)

-the Bible warns even adults regarding the company that they keep

-remember the warning - "do not be deceived", many people are deceived about this

-"whoever walks with the wise will become wise, but a companion of fools will suffer harm" (Proverbs 13:20)

-"folly (foolishness) is bound up in the heart of a child" (Proverbs 22:15)

-when children spend time with other children does their behaviour improve or deteriorate?  (it deteriorates!)

-Prov. 22:15 continued - "but the rod of discipline will drive it (folly) far from him" 

-it is the parents role to teach and disciple their children in accordance with the principles found in the word of God

-better socialization takes place in spending time with family, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and church family, sunday school teachers, pastors and mentors

7.  Not Just about Education, it is about lifestyles:

-it is a mistake to view all educational options as equal

-every educational approach comes with a distinct lifestyle that influences family life, from subject matter to scheduling to homework etc.

 -homeschooling is the superior choice because that is how God designed and established the family from Genesis

-Deut. 6, "when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, when you rise up", this is describing a lifestyle

8.  The Product is a Result of the process:

-education is not a neutral process

 -leaving God out of school is not neutral, it is actually teaching children that God is not relevant or important (infers a sacred/secular divide)

-it is a mistake to believe that as long as a child is educated it doesn't matter how it happened

-the road we follow dictates the destination we arrive at