The Mail

The Mail

October 28 1996
The Mail

The Mail

October 28 1996

The Mail

Power politics

Your story on “The power game,” (Cover, Oct. 14) was very illuminating. It explains many of the ills that pervade Canadian society. Looking over your list of who has access to power, it becomes frighteningly clear that we truly have government of, by and for the CEOs. Notably absent from among those whose voices are heard: scientists, educators and artists. This explains why, despite having one of the lowest levels of per capita funding for research in the developed world, our leaders cut a further 10 to 15 per cent from scientific granting councils. As a result, the brain drain continues. Young scientists leave, not for greener pastures, but because they are being driven, unwanted, from their own land. It also explains brutal cuts to education, and government pressure to make universities into mere corporate training centres. Aldous Huxley was right—too many alphas are not a good thing. Finally, it ex-

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plains why, in a vast country struggling to understand and explain itself, our communication and transportation links are slashed and our arts are allowed to wither. So, following leaders who have no vision beyond the bottom line, we are becoming the perfect corporate society—brainless, heartless, soulless drones, hewing wood and hauling water for the multinational business elite, until there is no more wood and no more water.

Steven C. Smith, Halifax III

There is one element missing in “Who’s up and who’s down in Jean Chretien’s Ottawa”— the ladies and gentlemen of the media. On the other hand, it may be very dangerous— and not in the least diplomatic—to produce.

Laurier L. LaPierre, Ottawa

Amid the “Underrated” we find Penny Collenette, who, gushes the blurb, “knows how to make Chrétien laugh.” Great. Just what the country needs—a court jester.

Daniel J. Christie, Port Hope, Ont.

Security strike

After reading “Showdown at GM” (Business, Oct. 14), I felt that the implication of the article was that of condemning Canadian Autoworkers president Buzz Hargrove and his autoworkers. Economist Sherry Cooper of Nesbitt Burns Inc. flatly states that this strike will hamper the rebounding economy, thanks to the CAW. If outsourcing of work and jobs goes unchallenged, the slowing down of the economy will pale in comparison to the devastating effect this action will have on the community, province and, indeed, the country. Thank God a dynamic leader like Hargrove and his negotiating committee fought for a more secure future for all workers.

Lynn Pollock, Sydney, N.S.

Quebec's strike vote

Anthony Wilson-Smith (“Flawed as a practitioner, Bourassa lived for politics,” Backstage Ottawa, Oct. 14) relates Quebec Premier Lucien Bouchard’s comparison of a referendum Yes vote to a strike mandate for a union to bargain for a better deal. It is a pity that he has yet to come to the realization that when the demands being sought are too unreasonable, the result is that the company

Future in context

The excerpt from Angus Reid’s new book Shakedown: How the New Economy Is Changing Our Lives, was fascinating reading (“Where have all the buyers gone?,” The Maclean’s Excerpt, Oct. 14). The federal Liberals, preparing us for an election in the near future, are suddenly tripping over themselves with assurances to Canadians that all is well, just re-elect us. Union leadership is oblivious to the forces of the market and the need for profits to pay back the investors, without whom no business can function. Renewed union demands only exacerbate the current difficulties. Even big business needs to be more aware of the fact that every time they scale back, close down or relocate to other jurisdictions, they too contribute to the economic vicious circle. As Reid says, it is all Economics 101, but he puts it in a much easier-to-understand context. The future does look dim, but it is better to understand it than to ignore it.

John J. VanDinther, Thornhill, Ont.

simply goes out of business, and there is no deal at all. In any case, Bouchard’s “union” already has a considerably better deal than those of any other “unions” in the shop and we’d all be better off if he chose the route of co-operation instead of confrontation.

Glenn Hawley, Calgary ®

Peanut allergies

As the parent of a child with a peanut allergy, I find it appalling that some parents would give convenience a higher priority than the life of a child (“Caught in a jam over peanut butter,” Opening Notes, Oct. 7). Banning peanut products from the schools will not “make children needlessly fearful of the world around them.” It should teach tolerance and consideration of others’ differences and hopefully impress upon them that their own convenience or likes can never be deemed more important than the life of another.

Patricia J. Moser, Markham, Ont. JK

The problem of work

Peter C. Newman’s exposition of the ideas of philosopher Frithjof Bergmann (“A philosopher’s dream of making work fun,” The Nation’s Business, Oct. 7) was an interesting exploration of one alternative to

the overwork/underwork dilemma that our society faces. It should be noted, however, that many others have advocated similar solutions in the past, solutions that avoid some very important social and economic problems that Bergmann has ignored. While corporate executives might indeed be persuaded to forgo their present shortsighted “quarterly statement” views, it is highly doubtful that they would sacrifice long-term corporate profits for the sake of social stability when other alternatives are available. The present behavior of North American corporations indicates precisely the opposite. There is also the matter of the growing number of people who, for whatever reason, can never fit into a corporate culture, part time or otherwise. A realistic solution to the problem of shrinking work can only come from local and individual initiative, not through the benevolence of corporate behemoths.

Pat Murtagh, Winnipeg

Smallwood's hydro

The misrepresentation of the facts surrounding the negotiation of the Churchill Falls hydro contract has always been tiresome (“The politics of the high wire,” From the Editor, Oct. 7). When you refer to the “deal that former premier Joey Smallwood signed,” you imply that Smallwood was responsible for the contents of the contract. Not so. The contract was, with the political assistance of the Newfoundland government, negotiated by the majority owner and operator of the hydro project, Brinco (the British North America Co.). Yes, Smallwood was guilty of political grandstanding, wanting to take all the credit for what was at the time the largest hydro development in the world. But to suggest that he was responsible for other than rubber-stamping the contract is naïve. If anyone is to be blamed concerning Churchill Falls, it should be former premier Frank

some disturbed boys stalk and sexually harass female classmates. It would be unacceptable for an adult male to grab or kiss an adult woman, or to harass her with crude sexual suggestions, yet your article takes a light approach to these situations because children are involved. Why should a little girl have to deal daily with such frightening and violating behavior from one of her peers?

Debra Miller-Cushon, Merrickville, Ont.

Anglos go home

The Quebec minister for the Montreal region, Serge Ménard, has labelled the “Walls of Shame” project dishonest rather than acknowledging the racial hatred that obviously exists in Montreal (“Montreal through a lens darkly,” Opening Notes, Oct. 14). It is racism itself, not the evidence of it, that is harmful to “the image of the city and all French Quebecers.” Will it take a lynching to crack through the official denial? Hatred spreads, especially in difficult economic times. The Quebec government should address this problem quickly.

Shelley Egan, Kamloops, B.C. Ill

Case for competition

Your story “Squeezed at the pump” (Business, Oct. 7), illustrates more than the assault by big oil interests against smaller competitors. Similar wars are being waged against smaller retailers and family farmers, not the least of which is the egregious media monopoly that has just reared its Black head in Canada. Canadians need to realize that running to the big oil companies for cheap gas may help them in the short run, but if competition is snuffed out, just watch gas prices rise astronomically.

Victoria Hogan, North Vancouver H

Canadianisms

As a Canadian of British origin, I wonder if “marketing board” qualifies as a specifically Canadian phrase (Opening Notes, Sept. 30). The Milk Marketing Board has held sway over English farmers for decades, as has the Egg Marketing Board. As for “riding,” I have to wonder about the ridings of Yorkshire, which disappeared as political entities in the mid-1960s’ reorganization of British counties. I look forward to adding the ITP Nelson Canadian Dictionary of the English Language to my library and discovering more about these so-called Canadianisms.

Michael Taylor, Houston III