Workers on strike, students uncertain about the affordability of their education, families feeling the crunch of an increasingly hostile tax system, elderly worrying about their pensions—these are the problems which Canadians wake up to every day. The fact that no one seems to be realistically addressing these problems only adds to the crisis.

At last, a window of hope may be opening this May 27-30 in Toronto. A starting point for regaining control of an out-of-control system is available in the 11 Panamerican Conference on Family and Education.

In order to properly address the wide scope of the rather unwieldy proposition of “Building the Civilization of Love.” the conference’s theme, the program has been divided into five sub-themes. Dr. Allan Carlson, President of the Illinois-based Rockford Institute, and Archbishop Francis Stafford of Denver headline the sub-theme on economics, a crucial and controversial factor in building a new civilization.

Dr. Carlson, a Lutheran and long-time proponent of the family wage advocates an economic system tempered by Christian Charity.

Christopher Check, Executive Vice-President of the Institute explains the idea of the family wage: “the employer, motivated by charity, prejudices his wage scale to pay an individual a salary sufficient to support his family.”

Check cities the example of Henry Ford, who wanted his factory workers to be able to afford one of the cars they assembled. He goes on to note that, since 1964, it has been illegal in the U.S. to pay a married employee more than an unmarried one. Canadian taxpayers encounter similar obstacles—a couple is worse off married than divorced or unmarried at tax-time. Yet the importance of the stability and health of families is largely neglected in economic considerations.

Check assesses the popular response to Pat Buchanan early in the Republican Party primaries in the U.S. as attributable to the combination of Buchanan’s well-known and consistently staunch defence and pro-family and pro-life initiatives and his populist economics, specifically his protection of the jobs of American workers.

“Buchanan’s economics can trace their roots to the social encyclicals of the Catholic Church,” he explains.

The Most Reverend Francis Stafford is an expert in the Catholic Church’s social teachings. His extensive service in various United Nations’ National Conference of Catholic Bishops committees and his present membership in the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith promise an interesting and helpful consideration of “Social Doctrine of the Church and the Family.” With the Pontifical Council for the Family as one of the conference co-sponsors, Archbishop Stafford will reveal the valuable resources which Catholic Church can offer people of all faiths.

Conference organizations have received a very positive response for many families who have overcome to economic obstacles to attending the conference. Co-coordinator Peter Ginemi of Hansport, Nova Scotia, says that “in the context of many professional events, it’s cheap. We used to organize parenting courses in the San Francisco Area and if people found it expensive for nine months of classes we would say, ‘would you spend two hundred and fifty dollars to keep your child out of jail?” Soon enough you have over $5,000 worth of reasons.”

The chair of the conference’s steering committee, Paul Tomory, reports that after promoting the conference to a gathering in the London, Ontario, area, one man approached him saying, “Since I heard about the conference I have been saying that I can’t afford to go. Now I see that I can’t afford not to!”

Students wishing to attend the event can benefit from a reduced registration rate. OAC students are encouraged to attend a special university preparation workshop with a minimal registration fee.