The Mail

The Mail

October 14 1996
The Mail

The Mail

October 14 1996

The Mail

General standards

About the only thing that I and, I suspect, many other retired and serving soldiers will agree with in Maj.-Gen. Brian Vernon’s egotistical interview is his call for Gen. Jean Boyle to resign (“‘A sense of distrust,”’ Canada, Sept. 30). His defence of Col. Serge Labbé [who has been accused of offering a case of champagne to the first Airborne soldier to kill a Somali] is being eroded rapidly as more soldiers testify in the Somalia inquiry; certainly, claiming that Labbé is arguably the best officer in the army is preposterous. But personal evaluations aside, Vernon reveals his own very limited leadership skills and knowledge of his profession throughout. He boils the Somalia scandal down to the one beating death and ignores the other killings, the racist behavior, the drunkenness on duty and, most telling, the numerous levels of coverup by soldiers, civil servants and politicians. By suggesting that the American sergeant who killed a Somali “kid” who stole his sunglasses was correctly disciplined by being “busted to private, fined—and it all happened within a

week,” Vernon reveals the moral gap that separates him and many other officers from the citizens of Canada and from proper professional standards. One wonders how in hell he got the major-general rank.

Retired colonel James H. Allan, Kingston, Ont.

One can only applaud the courage of Maj.-Gen. Brian Vernon who has always understood the role and responsibility of leadership and who has demonstrated in various roles of field command over many years his respect and understanding for the common dogface in the trenches. Clearly, Gen. Jean Boyle must resign before any meaningful efforts can be undertaken to restore our military capability, which is severely damaged to the point that we have lost the respect and confidence of all our allies. Our association continues to maintain that the disbanding of the Airborne was illadvised and overkill, and time, plus study, will prove the folly of that decision.

R. F. Anderson, Past president, 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion Association, Toronto

After reading your interview with Maj.Gen. Brian Vernon, I picked up U.S. Gen. Colin Powell’s biography, My American Journey. With a sense of déjà vu, I read his comments on rampant careerism, old-boy assignments and inflated rewards, followed by: ‘The army has created an environment that rewards relatively insignificant, short-term indicators of success, and disregards or discourages the growth of long-term qualities of moral strength.” We are not alone!

David S. T. Blackmore, Toronto

Airwaves that bind

On a national level, English radio was certainly hit very hard. But on a local level, francophones in Western Canada and Windsor got the unkindest cuts of all (“The unkindest cuts,” Broadcasting, Sept. 30). For instance, francophones in Saskatchewan will lose their daily half-hour news program on television. It will be replaced by a daily 10-minute feed to Winnipeg. Meanwhile, French radio will be reduced by more than 50 per cent. French media is of

vital importance for the survival of the official minority—I am less concerned about the survival of the English majority. At the very least, CBC president Perrin Beatty’s decision will weaken the French community outside Quebec.

Véronique-Marie Kaye, Regina

I’m confused. Our government would have us believe we should be proud Canadians: wave our flags and get to know each other. Why then are they destroying our national radio and television service, the CBC? This is an institution that informs us about one another and about our different regions. It’s what binds us. The government’s decision is not only confusing, but a tragedy.

Vicki Robichaud, Nanaimo, B.C.

Fallen candidate

I am looking with disgust at the photo of U.S. Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole, which appeared in the Sept. 30 issue (“Down—and out?” World). I am wondering why Dole’s fall in Chico, Calif., is being used to foreshadow his electoral defeat. I am not aware of any prerequisite to becoming president of the United States that outlines an immunity to everyday mishaps. It is clear that the image is to convey the message that Dole is susceptible to accidents, which would appear to discredit his strength and leadership. The sad reality can be posed as a question: are we electing candidates for their leadership qualities and their ideologies or for their divine ability to

Rejecting Canada

In letters reacting to your story on spying (“The new spy wars,” Cover, Sept. 2), several writers expressed fear that the United States has territorial designs on Canada (“Canadian spies,” Sept. 16). A similar theme of conquest turns up in U.S. stories on Quebec’s separatism. My question: why would we want any of Canada? Seizing Ontario, for instance, would yield Ontarians. Sure, they woke up and elected Mike Harris, but these people are more likely to be another Massachusetts or Minnesota, tax hells where all that is not mandatory is banned. I’m not willing to risk taking in as voters some 29 million people who are so brittle they seriously tried to ban 18-inch satellite dishes. Mess up your own country. Mine has problems enough.

Patrick MclHieran, Duluth, Minn. Ill


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avoid mishaps? The photo of Dole was inappropriate and depicts nothing that demonstrates the character of a clearly exceptional politician.

Jennifer Morrison, Windham Centre, Ont. Isl


As your excellent article pointed out, the emergence of global antibiotic resistance is of concern to everyone (“Outbreak,” Cover, Sept. 9). Unfortunately, Maclean’s misspelled the named of Rhone-Poulenc Rorer’s new breakthrough antibiotic, Synercid. This drug currently is undergoing trials in the United States. So far, more than 700 patients suffering from infections that were resistant to other antibiotics have been successfully treated with Synercid.

Frank Stonebanks, Anti-infective product manager, Rhone-Poulenc Rorer Canada Inc., Montreal

Night-school teacher

I read with interest your article on Guy Vanderhaeghe (“How the West was wounded,” Cover, Sept. 23), about his new book, The Englishman’s Boy. But, as a student in his class, I can verify that Mr. Vanderhaeghe actually teaches creative writing at the University of Saskatchewan and not just a lowly “Saskatoon night school.” And he’s not too bad at it either.

Jon Filson, Saskatoon

Saving the children

There has been a lot of talk about the role of social workers, the children’s aid society, the police and so on in preventing child-abuse deaths (“Children in danger,” Canada, Sept. 30). There has been no mention of the general public itself. There

is no way the problem is going to be controlled to a nearly effective degree without the active participation of an informed and aware public.

Newman Hajal, Toronto

Your report questions how 21 social workers and 24 physicians had failed to recognize the danger faced by five-year-old Matthew

Vaudreuil. I would question how a system that allows a patient to visit 24 different physicians over a five-year period can expect any better. Some form of “signing on” with one family physician would help this situation, as well as many others that render our health-care system inefficient and frustrating for patients and doctors alike.

Dr. R. S. David, Fort MacLeod, Alta.