The Mail

The Mail

November 24 1997
The Mail

The Mail

November 24 1997

The Mail

I am appalled by the ruthlessness Ontario Premier Mike Harris displays in characterizing the teachers as a special interest group concerned only with preserving its prep time (“Under siege,” Cover, Nov. 10). The teachers are at the front lines in what seems like an endless battle since the beginning of this government’s mandate, defending the humanitarian values of our society from the arrogant agenda of Harris and his cohorts.

Donald Strange, Woodstock, Ont.

Harris wants to cut another $500 million or more from education. How will the system improve with such a budget cut? In my sister’s Grade 12 classes there are 30 to 40 stu-

Taking sides in Ontario

dents per class and three to four students per textbook. One-quarter of the students sit on the floor and take notes on their laps because there are not enough desks. In my junior high school, we have barely enough math textbooks for a class of 31 students. Tape is the only thing holding our English and French books together. If we cannot afford necessities such as textbooks, we obviously do not have enough money for science equipment, musical instruments, art supplies or new computers. Ontario students are already suffering from Harris’s previous billion-dollar budget cut. With another financial drain, Ontario’s education system will leave students futureless.

Niloufer Moosa, Toronto

For decades, teachers have been attending staff meetings where principals announced yet another government initiative in education. Many teachers objected to the Whole Language approach at the expense of phonics. Teachers never asked for the Common Curriculum. Few were fully behind StudentCentred Learning. Fewer still supported having five or six editions of various textbooks for one subject rather than having the same book for every student. The use of writing folders was seen by all but the “upwardly mobile” as a needless expense. Cooperative-Learning techniques continue to have questionable educational value for many teachers. Teachers heralded the inception of special education classes in the mid-’80s, only to have them replaced under the guise of the new and improved government educational initiative called “integration” and “modified program.” Invariably, principals met the challenge of dismayed teachers, responding that the new policies came from the ministry of education and that nothing could be done about them. But through it all, many teachers kept a steady hand, applying some semblance of the traditional middle-class values of hard work, discipline and accountability despite ever-increasing class sizes and meaningless government directives.

J. W. van Manen, Oshawa, Ont.

As a survivor of Alberta Premier Ralph Klein’s reforms, I can sympathize with Ontario’s plight. However, these cuts worked in the long run and Alberta is now reaping the rewards of a balanced budget. As for Bill 160, standardizing education does actually benefit the children.

Tracey Knowlton, Cold Lake, Alta. HI

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

should be addressed to:

Maclean’s Magazine Letters

777 Bay St.,Toronto, Ont. M5W IA7

Fax. (416) 596-7730

HI E-mail: letters@macleans.ca

Maclean’s welcomes readers’ views, but letters may be edited for space and clarity. Please supply name, address and daytime telephone number.

Submissions may appear in Maclean’s electronic sites.

Barker's passenger

William Barker’s epic single-handed battle against as many as 60 German scout planes in the final days of the war speaks for itself (“A larger-thanlife hero,” Opening Notes, Nov. 3). But that is not Billy Bishop in the rear cockpit in the photograph. It is His Royal Highness, Edward, Prince of Wales. Barker took the young prince for a joyride over the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral. The aircraft was the first Sopwith Dove, a two-seater version of the sweet-handling wartime Pup. The exploit is remarkable in that it took place in the spring of 1919 when Barker was just out of hospital and still had one arm in a cast.

Rob Mackenzie, London, Ont.

Your Nov. 17 report (“The battle for Ontario’s schools,” Canada) states that only two teachers crossed the picket lines at Credit Meadows Elementary School in Orangeville. In fact, there were three teachers, as well as educational assistants, secretaries and several parents in attendance with a varying number of students.

Wes Keller, Orangeville, Ont.

Two Dalton Camps?

Having read Dalton Camp’s essay “Renegade revolutionaries” (Cover, Nov. 10), I have come to the conclusion that there must be two political writers in Canada with the same name: the one I have admired for many years for his wisdom and political insight, and the other who wrote this particular article. Would the real Dalton Camp please stand up?

Dennis ]. Taylor, Campbellville, Out.

Dalton Camp’s essay on the Ontario teachers’ strike and the Harris government’s systematic destruction of the province’s social fabric is a brilliant piece of political analysis and a devastating indictment of “this peculiar renegade government that calls itself progressive conservative.” The man should have been prime minister.

Robert Deutsch, Thornhill, Ont. HI

Postwar Germany

Having read the review of James Bacque’s Crimes and Mercies: The Fate of German Civilization Under Allied Occupation, 19441950 (“Were the Allies genocidal?” Books, Nov. 3), I feel compelled to set the record straight. It is true that atrocities had been committed on both sides. It is also true that thousands of civilians died. To state, however, that millions had been starved to death by the Allies is a lie. From January, 1945, until Germany’s surrender on May 8,1945, the Americans were stymied to find shelter for aver a million German soldiers. As a result, prisoners were exposed to inconceivably bad weather. They literally wallowed in mud. With the lack of proper hygiene, it stands to reason that a health hazard existed, but those who did die in the camps succumbed to dysentery, not starvation. At no time did the Americans deny food to the prisoners. *\s far as the civilians are concerned, Bacque never considered the devastation of our xansportation system. In fact, grain ships vere stacked in the estuaries of the Weser ind Elbe rivers because the ports were a pile nf rubble. I know. I was there. I was born in Düsseldorf, Germany, and was 16 when the nightmare ended.

Matthew Beaugrand, Penticton, B.C.

Prof. Jack Granatstein credits James Bacque with a “well-developed sense of truth and justice.” Nonsense. Since Other

Losses appeared in 1989, Bacque has been caught up in the emotions of the topic, refusing to embrace either logic or facts. Maclean’s devotion of most of its story to a repetition of Bacque’s outlandish allegations is a further disservice to readers. Prof. Günter Bischof was the sole critic with relevant expertise cited’ in the lengthy article. But dozens of other Second World War scholars—Profs. Gehard Weinberg and John Keegan among them—are part of an overwhelming array of international condemnation. Bacque claims they are merely “envious that an amateur like himself has made an important historical discovery which they overlooked.” The truth is that professional historians devote their lives to the careful and balanced study of history. They are not novelists, like Bacque. And they fear that irreparable harm will be done to historical accuracy if such outrageous claims continue to be promoted. It is not true that nearly one million German POWs died in American hands at the end of the Second World War. It is equally untrue that nearly nine million civilians died from Allied vengeance. Thanks in part to free publicity from Maclean’s, Crimes and Mercies may now become a best-seller. If so, at least list it in the appropriate book column: fiction.

Richard Wiggers, Washington IS

In answer to McGill University historian Peter Hoffman’s nonsensical request for me to say where the bodies of the dead Germans are: not even a sizable minority of the victims of Stalin’s terror in Ukraine, or of Hitler’s in Poland, or of Mao’s in China, have been dug up and counted. These atrocities are part of history despite the lack of a body count. The former West German government and the German government today have forbidden people to dig for bodies in the sites of former Allied camps. Listen to the voice of Christian conscience in Germany in November, 1945: “Thousands of bodies are hanging from the trees in Berlin and no one bothers to cut them down. Thousands of corpses are carried into the sea by the Oder and Elbe rivers. Thousands and thousands are starving by the highways.” That was written by the Bishop of Chichester quoting a German pastor and was printed in The Christian Century.

James Bacque, Penetang, Ont.

Germany under Allied occupation was a place of hope and rebirth: the Allies did not convert Germany to “a starvation prison,” as alleged. I will be in the census statistics cited for 1946 to 1950, as I was born there during this period: my father was in the religious affairs section of the Control Commission. In the initial days of occupation, with the evidence of the Holocaust freshly discovered, the Allies were cold to the Germans, but this was soon replaced by compassion and magnanimity, together with the greatest admiration for the courage and humanity of Germany’s new leaders. In postwar Germany, Canadians and Britons did their utmost to help. From July, 1946, to July, 1948, Britain voluntarily imposed bread rationing on itself, starving itself to divert Canada’s grain to feed Europe. This act of altruism has few parallels in history. In the fractious state of modern AngloGerman relations, there has pointedly been no commemoration of the 50th anniversary of bread rationing. Yet perhaps the reward is in ourselves: if the Allies had refused help, could our own nations ever again have looked at themselves in the mirror of conscience?

Euan Nisbet, Englefield Green, England HI

Bacque has conducted wide-ranging research, interviewed hundreds of German prisoners and army officers, and amassed thousands of pages of evidence from army archives. I felt this policy personally, even in a POW camp in America. After the German surrender, our rations were drastically cut down and I lost 20 lb. within a very short time. My father, a well-known economist and opponent of the Nazi regime who lived in Berlin, died of starvation shortly after the war. Bacque’s book is a courageous discovery that should be appreciated as a milestone in the interpretation of the Second World War.

Stefan W. Stillich, West Hill, Ont.

Washington blues

I am extremely distressed by the tone of your article about Washington (“A blight at the centre of power,” World, Oct. 13). Specifically, rather than placing the blame only on Mayor Marion Barry (who, we acknowledge, has many faults), I would hope that you could report on the plight of our “non-citizenship” status: we pay taxes without representation in the U.S. Congress; we do not receive anywhere near the appropriate federal funding to support expenses connected with the federal buildings in the city; the District of Columbia must pay for police, sanitation and emergency aid for so-called free-speech events on the mall, whose sponsors are not required to make any contribution. Yes, there have been management problems, but I hope that you could help educate the citizens of Canada and those in the rest of the United States who do have representation in Congress, who can capture “pork” projects, deny D.C. residents appropriate rights of citizenship and continue to fool the rest of the country into believing that D.C. residents are all buffoons or worse.

Coralie Farlee, Washington

Success and gender

I am not impressed by the cover story “Canada’s top women CEOs” (Oct. 20). Just because one makes a lot of money doesn’t mean one is virtuous. Peggy Witte, CEO of Royal Oak Mines Inc., continues to defy the government by ignoring clean air legislation, and cries like a spoiled brat when British Columbia denies her a mining property in the protected Tatenshini area. Similarly, Maureen Kempston Darkes, CEO of General Motors of Canada Ltd., can only operate by clamping down on workers rather than involving them and building them up. It is disturbing that you hide Jane Jacobs at the back of the same issue (“An urban legend,”

Lifestyles). Her life’s work has produced 1 valuable wisdom about | our society. She has inf vested in numerous CL worthwhile projects, and she has done so alone without a board or stockholders to back her up. She has nurtured generations into thinking responsibly and sustainably. Jacobs is a real heroine—she is the kind of woman we should be celebrating.

Ross Burnet, Yellowknife HI

Your story may have tried to portray the featured women as heroines in an evil, maledominated society. It only shows women finally figuring out, however, what male executives have known for decades. In order to reach this level of success in the corporate world, one has to have drive, brains and, yes, a sense of humor. In short, gender has nothing to do with reaching your dreams. So why bother showcasing successful people on—if you permit me to be direct—what hangs between their legs when it is what hangs between your ears that matters?

David Gay, Toronto HI

The wisdom of Jane

Your otherwise excellent vignette of Jane Jacobs (“An urban legend,” Lifestyles, Oct. 20) unfortunately failed to mention what surely has been her most significant Canadian work—her 1997 Massey Lectures on the CBC entitled Canadian Cities and Sovereignty Association. Those lectures are the basis for her book The Question of Separatism: Quebec and the Struggle over Sovereignty. It is a small book, but it contains much wisdom that should be reviewed again by all parties to the ongoing dispute over the possibility of Quebec separation.

E. W. Kieckhefer, Milwaukee, Wis.

Passport to trouble

Having spent just under three months in Jordan and Egypt this summer as an archeology student, I followed the botched assassination attempt by Mossad agents travelling under Canadian passports with great interest (“Are Canadians in jeopardy?” World, Oct. 20). As a Western female traveller in the Middle East, I experienced uneasiness at times. When I identified myself as a Canadian, however, the enthusiasm, heartfelt welcome and respect I encountered was heartwarming. I applaud the government’s recall of the Canadian ambassador since the actions of the Mossad and the Israeli government have tainted Canadians travelling abroad, especially in volatile areas, with suspicion and even mistrust. No Canadian should have to wish that they carried an American passport instead (‘Tracking spies,” Newsroom Notes, Oct. 13). Unfortunately, the Canadian ambassador has returned to Israel with the requisite, but empty, Israeli apology. No doubt it’s business as usual. I only hope a legitimate Canadian doesn’t suffer as a result.

Lucy Di Pietro, Maple, Ont. SI

Surfing for Due South

As a rule, I don’t watch a lot of television, but your article on actor Paul Gross (“Amazing Gross,” Cover, Oct. 13) piqued my interest in the show Due South. I was further intrigued when I learned Callum Keith Rennie had joined the cast, as I have become an admirer of his work. Well, I am now an ardent fan of the series, catching the current episodes on CTV and reruns on Showcase. Thank you, Maclean’s.

Patrizia Fuccenecco, Quesnel, B. C.

Proud to be a Newfie

After reading a letter from the members of the band Great Big Sea in the Oct. 6 issue (“ ‘Derogatory term’ ”), I feel compelled to respond. As a person from Witless Bay, and as one who has studied and taught about different cultures, I have absolutely no objection to being called a Newfie. There is nothing disrespectful, negative, insulting, embarrassing or objectionable about being called a Newfie. Neither does the nickname connote a lack of intelligence. The term is in itself a part of our culture and we are indeed a rare breed. I really think Great Big Sea should lighten up.

Anita Tobin, Witless Bay, Nfld. S

Sinking the subs

I salute Peter C. Newman for writing the best piece of satire that I have read this year (“The case for buying four British subs,” The Nation’s Business, Oct. 6). At first, I took the column seriously and was about to write a point-by-point rebuttal. But I realized that Newman could not possibly have been serious with his claim that, even with no plausible military enemy in sight, these Cold War relics would still be worth buying to deter drug smugglers and fish rustlers. Similarly, by praising the barter deal proposed by the British (four subs in return for eight years’ free use of flight training facilities), Newman must have been checking to see how many readers were alert enough to figure out that the cost of the submarines would show up on the government’s bottom line just as if we had paid cash. Finally, Newman cleverly mocked the feeble case for buying used British subs by putting forward the preposterous argument that four submarines would increase our influence on American policy. Congratulations, Newman, your tongue was so well disguised in cheek that you almost fooled me.

A. A. Sayeed, Kingston, Ont. HI

Abundance of hope

As a recent resident of Winnipeg, I understand the devastation a flood can cause to a city (“ ‘I’ve cried two rivers,’ ” Canada, Oct. 6). I take exception, however, to Winnipeg resident Rosie Neufeld’s comment that she is living in Third World conditions. Living in a real Third World country, I cannot compare that lifestyle to the lifestyle in a country like Canada that is so affluent. No matter how difficult things may get from time to time, one thing that Canada has in abundance is hope, dreams and memories of good times. Be thankful for a government that takes the people’s needs into consideration. To many who live in a Third World country, Canada is a faraway dream, a fairy tale.

Linda Geerts, Dominican Republic El

Carbon tax

In “Just saying no to the carbon tax” (The Road Ahead, Oct. 27), Arlene Crossman implies that the federal government could not be trusted to wisely administer the revenue from a carbon tax, and that tax credits on “environmentally supportive merchandise” are the way to go. Emissions of carbon dioxide must be reduced, and I would argue that a carbon tax is the most effective and efficient way of doing this. If the cost of energy from fossil fuels were to increase due to a carbon tax, consumption would decrease. At the same time, increased energy costs would be a sufficient incentive for the private sector, to develop new, energy-efficient technologies that could be sold in Canada and around the world, therefore ameliorating the problem of climate change and contributing to economic growth in Canada. What should the federal government do with this extra revenue? How about reducing (or perhaps eliminating) the GST?

John Davis, Ottawa

Education and poverty

Your article “The roots of failure” (Education, Sept. 26) demonstrates the serious impact that poverty is having on Canadians. As banks revel in record profits and the gap between rich and poor widens, it’s time to ask what our government and the financial sector are doing to serve the poor. Regrettably, unemployment and welfare have proven to be expensive and relatively ineffective at eliminating poverty. What’s the alternative? One of the most effective tools for fighting poverty is micro-credit. That entails small business loans to poor families that allow them to become self-employed so they can pull themselves out of poverty. Microcredit programs—which began in rural Bangladesh and now operate in various parts of the world including Canada—boast an impressive success record and an extraordinary 97-per-cent repayment rate. There is clearly room for our government to play a role in investing in sustainable poverty reduction by making financial services accessible to the poor.

Karen Hodgson, Victoria SI

Early childhood educators and others who have worked in the social services field have known for many, many years of the correlation between poverty and illiteracy. Articles and reports have been published, recommendations made, letters written, proposals submitted, presentations delivered. We have spoken to parents, community groups and municipal, provincial and federal politicians. We have lobbied for change at the preschool level where learning really counts, for at least 20 years. With every change in government comes a perceived change in policies and procedures. But has anything really changed? Has anything been done? No.

Karen Cashin, Orono, Ont. Ill

Truth in politics

Federal Finance Minister Paul Martin claims that our backs were against the wall in a debt crisis “more than anyone realized” in 1993 (“Who gets the cash?” Canada, Oct. 27). I am sure he will recall the political turmoil caused by former prime minister Brian Mulroney when he argued that public debt was the major problem of Canada’s at that time. Perhaps it is time in history to pause and honestly decide who we should value in Canada: those who state the truth and try to lead us away from danger without regard for personal consequences, or those who say exactly what we want to hear.

Peter Tarie, Belleville, Ont. JU

Technological bias

I was disappointed by the tone and language in your article “Millennium mayhem” (Business, Oct. 27). The first offending instance is: “Call it the ultimate revenge of the nerds.” This implies there was some malicious and premeditated intent on the part of programmers to cause difficulties. Programmers did not write code to purposely create a difficult situation; they were simply bound by limitations of the computer hardware. A second critical statement is: “How did the geeks goof?” and another is: “The problem is bound to be solved—but at this rate, it may take until the year 3000.” Any useful information in the article is nullified by this exaggerated statement. This article promotes a bias against technology workers and careers in technological fields.

Cameron Bush, Calgary 111

The IFIC's role

In contrast with statements made in “Guarding the henhouse” (Personal Business, Nov. 3), the Investment Funds Institute of Canada is not pushing to run its own show or threatening to take the Ontario Securities Commission to court over its policies on regulation. IFIC has advised the OSC that some of the proposals on the table in negotiations leading to the establishment of a self-regulatory organization for mutual fund distributors appear to violate the Securities Act. IFIC has also warned the OSC that such provisions may increase the risk of litigation, particularly from distributors that are not IFIC or Investment Dealers Association members, and litigation would decrease the likelihood that effective self-regulation of the industry would be implemented quickly. Nor has IFIC played a role in Jack Geller’s plan to step down as acting chairman of the OSC. In discussions aimed at establishing an SRO for mutual fund distributors, Geller has impressed us with his handling of the issue, and we look forward to continuing these discussions with him.

Thomas A. Hockin, President and chief executive officer, The Investment Funds Institute of Canada,

Toronto

A blast of hot air

Scientist Richard Haskayne and oilpatch executive Jim Bruce, both recipients of the Order of Canada, are at opposite ends of the spectrum on global warming (“Facing off over greenhouse gases,” Canada, Nov. 3). And while media, environmental groups and government gush over greenhouse gas emissions and their possible impact on climate, there is little substantive debate. Instead, there is a consensus to regulate emissions and penalize oil-and-gas producers. It is like finding a person guilty without waiting for the jury’s verdict.

Dr. M. L. Khandekar, Unionville, Ont.