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Critical Analysis of Health Canada

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“Health Canada Inadvertently Discloses Facts Planned Parenthood Would Like to Suppress” an essay by Ted Byfield, a Western Canadian journalist and founder of an Alberta based magazine The Report. “Health Canada” appears to have logical strengths including a cause and effect argument supported by statistics and reference to authorities present on both sides of the case. One must look closer into the strengths and weakness’ of Byfield’s argument to see that although the statistics seem impressive, they in reality do not support his point. With this one can determine that his causal argument fails to be valid in assessing population decline.

In this essay, Byfield suggests that Canadians are working too hard, and with the demands of work they are putting off having children which is in turn leading to a population decline that will have negative economic consequences in the Western world. He begins by discussing past notions of a “population explosion” (222), which was a prediction of the world to be over crowded, a prediction that never presented itself. Byfield further supports this when he uses an appeal to authority, Paul Ehrlich’s prediction that by 1980 “65 million Americans would die of starvation” (222). As he progresses through his argument he writes about the real problem not to be a serious population decline, but a “birth dearth” (222).

He goes on to reference a journalists writing about government credibility being ruined for the belief in overpopulation changing to the now declining population. Byfield continues his argument by bringing forth an abundance of facts and figures regarding the falling birth rates in both developed and undeveloped countries. He adds emotion in his writing when he calls Planned Parenthood a “zealous preacher of the Save-the-World-with-Smaller-Families message” (223), which he then suggests that it is not very likely that they would go back on what they have said in the past. Byfield concludes by reinforcing that women must want to have children, but work is of too much importance which may prove to be a tough mindset to change.

To start, “Health Canada” did indeed use authorities on both sides of the argument in population growth and decline to make a seemingly valid causal argument. Byfield first writes of research conducted by Professors, the research concluded that both men and women “have not started a family because of work” (222), this is the foundation for his argument that sets a strong example of an underlying reason people are not having children. Byfield uses his appeal to authorities when he takes direct quotes from journalist Tom Bethell in an issue of The American Spectator magazine.

When discussing government officials Bethell writes “That saying there are too few people, so soon after the hue and cry about there being too many, would destroy their own credibility” (223), this quote is used to show that there are other credible sources that support the argument he is making himself. Immediantly after reviewing the writing from Bethell, Byfield makes use of another authority in a different manner in writing “Other governments are in a similar case, since pretty well everybody bought into the Ehrlich “population bomb” expectations” (223), although he is discrediting the authority of Paul Ehrlich, by including multiple views on his case, Byfield is allowing one to view his argument as a more credible source.

Looking at Byfields essay from a different point of view, one can see that he uses an abundance of facts and figures that seem quite impressive, but to what extent they apply to his argument is actually about is what’s surprising. He talks about the birth rate in developed countries “each woman must have an average of 2.1 children” (223), and this is just to sustain the population, at first glance those numbers seem to make a valid point, until one realizes that all Byfield has mentioned is that it is in developed countries, not a true statistic on the Canadian economy. Byfield further makes this error when he presents more figures pertaining to European averages, “In Italy, where about one million babies were born in 1964, only about 500,000 were born last year” (223), calling it “an impending economic disaster” (223).

Byfield goes on to say that if in fact European birth rate returned to 2.1 that “Europeans current population of 727 million would still drop by 171 million by 2050.” (223). He also uses examples of developing countries and their drops in birth rates, “Egypt, whose rate in 1960 at something over 7.0 was the world’s highest, is down to 3.9” (223), this example which Byfield brought forth to show population decline actually contradicts what he is trying to prove. Although birth rates are declining world wide, looking at the figures that have been presented, one can see that the developed countries low birth rates are balanced by those in the developing countries which means that even though birth rates are declining, there is still population growth.

Byfield only mentions Canada in his statistics when he says “Thailand’s even lower than the American and Canadian levels” (223), this proves to show that his figures are flawed in many ways. His figures seem to be selectively chosen to account for the fact that there is a growth rate decline all over the world, unfortunately because the statistics brought forward were only to try and help his claims, it weakens his credibility and leaves one with more questions than answers pertaining to the declining population growth.

With Ted Byfield’s essay, “Health Canada”, one can see that using a causal argument, reference to authorities and statistics is necessary to bring logic to the issues to make a sound case. Byfield unsuccessfully achieved the purpose of his argument because of his flawed causal argument, one sided use of authorities, and his use of evidence which does not connect to the point. Taking a look into all the aspects needed to make a correct analysis, one can see that with the proper use of authorities and evidence, creating a logically credible piece of writing is attainable. Accounting for the array of strengths and weaknesses in Byfield’s argument, one can see that the strengths are outweighed by all the weaknesses, making the argument as a whole less valued and credible.

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