LETTERS

November 14 1983

LETTERS

November 14 1983

LETTERS

Science civilized

In A promising attack on cancer (Cover, Oct. 31) you note that Canadian researchers have spent $250 million trying to find a cure for cancer and that the prospect of discovery is now in sight. Every person in Canada, in effect, has invested just $10 to fund the cause. In my opinion that is not a failure but an indication of what a small investment can bring in terms of health and well-being to mankind, if we have the wisdom to recognize it. We have a great deal to learn about ourselves and how terribly frail we are as a species. Without research there is no hope for the cure for the many life-threatening diseases. —ARTHUR J. HUDSON, MD,

London, Ont.

I was interested in and pleased with the Oct. 31 issue as it contained so much upto-date, in-depth information on the fight to cure cancer. But I noticed in several articles references to tests done on fetal tissue. Why is fetal tissue used? How is it obtained (i.e., from dead or living fetuses)? Where is it obtained? Do the mothers know? I would be sincerely interested in hearing answers to these questions. —CLAUDINE GOLLER, Scarborough, Ont.

The cover story held some interesting promises that medical research may be slowly emerging from the barbaric dark age of vivisection into the realm of civilized and truly scientific research. For all the thousands of researchers, hundreds of thousands of hours and millions of dollars spent on inflicting suffering on countless numbers of animals, at long last there seem to be some

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signs of acknowledgement by the scientific community that there must be better ways to alleviate human suffering. While extrapolation from the mouse to the human has failed miserably, there is hope that at long last researchers will instead seek out a cure for cancer in humans. Once we move out of the rigid, futile and enormously expensive arena of vivisection, perhaps we can begin to relieve some of the agony of human cancer patients. —VICKI MILLER,

Mt. Albert, Ont.

Grenada’s threatened dream

I was incensed by the article Bishop’s last stand (World, Oct. 31). It implied that former Grenadian prime minister Maurice Bishop and the Peoples’ Revolutionary Government (PRG) had failed in their promises to Grenadians and stated that Bishop’s record was spotty. It ignored the fact that, while unemployment figures for 1982 were 14 per cent (and that included all unemployed persons, unlike Canadian statistics), the figure before the 1979 revolution was 49 per cent. It ignores the fact that the standard of living of Grenadians has been increasing steadily since 1979 and that the Grenadian economy grew by 5.5 per cent in 1982, a growth rate unprecedented in the West, and perhaps the world, for that year. Those successes, and the setting of an example for an independent course of development rather than a drift toward Cuba and the Soviet Union, alienated the United States. The United States accuses a country of being a Soviet satellite, cuts off all aid and watches as the country turns to others who will provide aid and assistance. One hopes that the real record of the PRG will someday be widely recognized so that the dream of Grenada, of a people charting an independent course of development, will not die, despite the death of leaders and the cruel crushing of the country by U.S. military aggression. — DEBORAH POWELL,

Ottawa2

Culture’s history out west

Having read with interest Peter C. Newman’s Oct. 10 Business Watch column (Vancouver's $5-billion future), I would like to take exception to one statement that he makes. He states that “the brand new Vancouver Art Gallery ... will allow world-class exhibitions to be brought West for the first time. (It is, after extensive renovations, earthquake-proof.)” For the past 15 years the Vancouver Museum (formally named the Vancouver Centennial Museum) has been hosting world-class exhibitions in an earthquake-proof building, exhibitions that have included The Treasures of London, Kosmos ’77: The Russian Space Exhibit and Art From the People’s Republic of China. Not only have we hosted world-class exhibitions, but we have also initiated and planned them. While we all congratulate the Vancouver Art Gallery on its wonderful new facility, we would like to let people know that “culture” has been available out here in the boondocks for quite some time now. Indeed, the Vancouver Museum—which will celebrate its 90th anniversary in 1984—has been in existence, pushing “culture,” for almost as long as the City of Vancouver has existed. —RAYMOND MCALLISTER,

Public Relations Department, The Vancouver Museum, Vancouver

Democracy and the PQ

I left Quebec many years ago, and I can see that I made a good move when I read More muscle for strikers (Labor, Oct. 17). I have been working for more than 25 years. I never agreed to be part of any union. I thought that Bill 101 was absurd. Why is it illegal to speak English in Quebec, while in all other provinces you have the right and the freedom to speak French or English, Chinese or German? Now with Bill 17, Premier René Lévesque is certainly asking for the destruction of Quebec. I do not think it is democratic to prohibit a company from assigning nonunion employees who are not management to a striking or locked-out union member’s job.

—GUSSIE DECARIE DESJARDINS, Vancouver

Anticulture or folklore ?

Your piece on Nova Scotia’s retiring business empire (Business, Sept. 26) was well written but inadequately researched. More of an anticulture than a “Maritime business folklore,” the Sobeys’ record as entrepreneurs has earned the family a lot of justified criticism as businessmen. Instead of interviewing “investment brokers,” you should have made contact with the many small Maritime businesses that are locked into Sobey leases, by which

they are not permitted to compete with Sobey businesses. Frank Sobey is right when he says “I’ve made more money out of other people’s businesses than I have out of my own.”

— MICHAEL MATHESON,

Dominion, N.S.

The emotions behind the Crow

The federal Liberals’ position on abolishing the Crowsnest Pass freight rate reveals to the country as a whole what those of us born in Western Canada have known in our hearts and souls for many years. The current despicable and isolated regime of rigid bureaucratic and political legalists in Ottawa utterly lacks comprehension of the emotional basis of Confederation as an ongoing process. —LES WHEATCROFT,

Toronto

Money where credit is due?

Verne McKay of the Royal Bank is proud of a recent loan to a Brazilian government corporation (Banks support a soaring success, Letters, Oct. 3). Brazil is a poor credit risk, according to the International Monetary Fund. I wish the Royal would be that generous with Canadian small businesses with small collateral. — J.T. SHILHAN,

Sudbury, Ont.

How metric keeps us quiet

What a delight to hear my own opinion so well voiced in Charles Gordon’s column {How much is that in English?, Oct. 10). I am not a bigot or a redneck but I still say to hell with the metric system for the same reasons as Gordon does. When my dad taught me to cut a piece of wood, it was 12 inches long, not how many bloody centimetres. Gordon is absolutely correct when he says that the metric system has blotted out a comfortable system of verbal reference, which had meaning to different parts of our lives. Now we just do not talk about it any more. —R.C. SMITH,

Kelowna, B.C.

Bennett’s checks and balances

In his interview with Peter C. Newman ( ‘There is no easy way to lay off people,’ Cover, Oct. 17), B.C. Premier William Bennett’s most important statement was probably “ ... agencies not responsible to the government and therefore to the people were somehow more pure than government departments themselves .... They were given powers without having any checks and balances . . . . ” The proliferation of such quasijudicial agencies is one of the most frightening and dangerous things that governments have done in recent years. Those agencies have awesome powers and appear to be beyond the control of our elected representatives. The B.C.

Human Rights Commission was one of those and probably did more to infringe personal liberties than to right many perceived wrongs. Its replacement by a body responsible to government should be applauded, and more bodies of a similar nature should be dismantled.

—G.H. EVANS, Winnipeg

How could Peter C. Newman, considering his writing and reporting credentials, plus the fact that he resides in British Columbia part of the year, miss the major issues raised by the opposition to Bennett’s budget? Consider, first

and foremost, the matter of Bennett’s mandate. Yes, a majority voted last May for the Socreds. Yes, in all probability, the winning margin was decided by Bennett’s emphasis on a motherhood issue—restraint. However, by no means did the voters endorse a mandate to impose the contentious bills. That is for certain since the policies of those bills were unveiled (in the least democratic fashion) after the election campaign. Not only that, but the campaign-time denial of several rumored policies, which are now being rammed through the legislature, raises the most fundamental questions about democracy. The

opposition in British Columbia is not against restraint—it is for government responsible to the people, for people’s involvement in the shaping of economic restraint measures, for continued grassroots involvement in education and land-use planning. The opposition sees no spending restraint in the cancellation of the rentalsman, the human rights commission and a number of preventive welfare programs, but merely a shifting of costs to those least able to pay and to future taxpayers saddled with the extra future costs of incarceration or chronic remedial care.

—PETER CODA, Vancouver

Kindergarten for intellectuals

Your Education article Rethinking Kindergarten (Oct. 17) ought to have been called Dethinking kindergarten. I would sure like to know where all those cruelly intellectual kingergartens are that make poor, unsuspecting kiddies think enough to do permanent damage to their weak little brains. In Manitoba the kindergarten curriculum consists of 10 numbers, six colors and how to tie your shoes. The fact that most children have already learned those things before they get to kindergarten is of no interest to our educators. Why? Because children ought not to know those things before they get to kindergarten. Why not? Because studies show that they are not yet ready to know those things, and, therefore, they ought not to have learned them. And if they have learned them, it was not real learning, of course, since they were not yet at the right developmental stage to learn them. Consequently, they need to be taught them all over again. The fact is, the educational systems of this country have never erred on the side of too much thinking. The fact is, the supposed experts quoted in your article are always willing to leap at any least bit of spurious and unthought-through evidence that suggests children are learning too much and to use that evidence as an excuse to teach them even less. The fact is, the school systems of our country are not interested in teaching children anything except the one thing they are bound to know already: how to be themselves. Your article admits, finally, that there are not many well-trained kindergarten teachers around. That is right; there are not because our system easily persuades would-be teachers that their chosen profession is a branch of social work—therapy instead of thinking.

—PERRY NODELMAN, Winnipeg

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