An institute promoting marriage and family are now judging cities
A clipping from yesterday's Vancouver Sun caught my eye and so apparently it caught reporter Chad Skelton's eye as well. Titled Vancouver named among most family-friendly cities in the country I immediately took interest in the name of the group behind it. The Institute of Marriage and Family sounded like it would have been a faith-based group of some kind behind it.
Thankfully, Skelton has done all the digging and more that I may have and I highly recommend reading his blog post. Here's what Chad found:
Supporting public funding of private schools is certainly a valid point of view. But what does that have to do with a city being family friendly? And while there is plenty of evidence two-parent households are better for kids than single-parent households, focusing on the number of single parents seemed a bit odd for a city ranking (especially since it's hard to see how, say, moving to Winnipeg is going to increase your chances of divorce).
I started to wonder who was behind the rankings and whether they had an agenda beyond just gathering the facts.
The institute's website looks pretty professional -- a lot like those of many government-funded, independent research institutes. I didn't see anything on the site that suggested they had a particular religious or political point of view. A Google search turned up some blog posts suggesting the institute was funded by the right-wing religious group, Focus on the Family Canada. But I wanted something a bit more solid.
So I did a bit more digging and turned up several stories linking the institute to Focus on the Family and right-wing religious causes.
Good for Chad for looking into this further. I too wondered how Vancouver – which I know is a wonderfully family-friendly city – got this designation when the typical rant about us is that the housing is too expensive and taxes too high.
Chad's pretty clear that he takes no issue on the beliefs behind the organization – they're entitled to their views. He's more concerned about transparency:
I'd be equally annoyed if, say, a research group tied to Egale Canada came out with a list of "family-friendly" cities -- giving bonus marks to cities with high rates of same-sex marriages or adoptions -- and didn't disclose its support for gay rights.
In Canada, by in large we're pretty quick to pounce when we think that right-wing or religious groups are feeding us information. When it comes to large foundations supporting environmental causes we do not seem to devote as much energy it seems to what motivates these groups. I welcome more scrutiny from Skelton and other media on all these entities spending big bucks trying to sway public opinion.
- post by Mike