The Mail

Looking back

April 20 1998
The Mail

Looking back

April 20 1998

Looking back

The Mail

At the time your story about Pierre Trudeau was released (‘"When we were young,” Cover, April 6), Trudeau and his son Sacha were staying at our resort near Vernon, B.C. During his visit, he took the time to speak with many local residents and skiers. By all accounts, everyone who met him was thrilled and report him to be a gentleman in every sense of the word. We enjoyed reading about Trudeau’s past and present.

Gord Vizzutti, Silver Star Mountain Resort, B.C.

Pierre Trudeau’s lasting gift to this country is not so much that he defined Canada to the world, but that he defined Canadians to themselves. Before Trudeau, Canadians looked upon themselves as quiet, peaceful folk with the determination to get tough in the corners when the occasion merited. But Trudeau changed the Canadian character by showing us that style and grace could be incorporated into our national identity without losing the traditional traits of reserve

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and entrenchment of ideals. He encouraged Canadians to look beyond standpat ideologies and gave us the confidence and charisma required to succeed on the world’s stage.

Frank K. Petermann, Toronto

Robert Lewis’s article on Pierre Trudeau referred to my having floated the notion of restoring the death penalty. I did not do that. Rather, it was my suggestion that we consider a referendum on capital punishment. The vast majority of articulate Canadians who, in fact, opposed the death penalty had been sitting on the sidelines since its abolition, leaving the Liberals to carry the can alone.

Otto Lang, Winnipeg

I was taken aback at your love affair with our socialist pretender Pierre Trudeau. Particularly repugnant was the comparison with John Kennedy, who not only lost a brother in the Second World War, but placed his life in harm’s way as a U.S. naval officer, while Trudeau remained a white-feather civilian. Both these men, however, were great seducers who mesmerized their respective citizenry into launching a lavish borrow-and-spend spree leading to a fiscal poorhouse. It would seem other people’s money can be used and abused even to the point of buying a legend.

D. Grant DeMan, Royston, B.C.

Pierre Trudeau fits like an old shoe. He evokes comfortable memories that, in the shadow of time, seem to eradicate the infuriating actions he took in so many policy fields. Trudeau remains proof that Canadians are drawn to “star power,” even in politics.

William C. Stratas, Toronto

The allure of Trudeau is as vibrant among my generation as that of my parents (“Pierre who?”), for different reasons. We came of age politically during the 1980s, an age of ideological conservatism and some of the most dramatic decentralizing of power our nation has experienced. Younger Canadians are equally nostalgic for a prime minister who articulated and symbolized a united, social de mocratic Canada, who defended the interests of the federal government against individual provinces, who made it OK to be a nationalist. We perhaps cannot comprehend Trudeaumania in its sheer optimism and

hope for the future, but it is for those same reasons we admire and respect the man who inspired them a generation ago.

Claire Campbell, London, Ont.

Your writer Joe Chidley thinks Gen Xers “have a different way of remembering the past,” and he believes Pierre Trudeau and John Kennedy “were bigger on vision than they often were on the nuts and bolts of governance.” Born in 1968, I qualify as a Gen Xer, I suppose. However, I “remember” the PET years and some of the hype. Is our way of remembering really that different from that of our parents? Are we not remembering Trudeaumania as a way of saying thank you for the vision? Do we not need leaders with such visions? If there is no vision, the nuts and bolts of governance are pointless.

C. 5. St. Amand, Weyburn, Sask.

Famous monsters

According to Anthony Wilson-Smith (“On safari in the townships,” Backstage, April 6), Magog in Quebec’s Eastern Townships is “a bland municipality best bypassed,” but I wonder if this is true. Magog, situated on the shore of Lake Memphrémagog, boasts the most-seen Canadian monster of modern times. Now I am excluding sometime area residents like Jacques Parizeau and Conrad Black. What I have in mind is Memphré, the monster of Lake Memphrémagog. From time to time, this serpent-like creature surfaces and is spotted, rather in the manner of Brian Mulroney and, come to think of it, Pierre Trudeau, another area resident. Hardly “bland”!

John Robert Colombo, Toronto

THE MAIL

Debating euthanasia

It is puzzling that in your March 23 issue you published only one letter pointing out the possible improper IV insertion and defending dignified palliative care in the treatment of Paul Mills, while six letters appeared in defence of Dr. Nancy Morrison and euthanasia (“Missing care,” March 23). Let us preview a future scenario if, heaven forbid, euthanasia became legal. It would begin with a committee of at least two physicians to review each case, to determine if there is a “necessity” and not just a convenience for ending a patient’s life. In no time, a rubber stamp review would take place because of the time factor. Human life is being cheapened in our society of death. Palliative care with limitless analgesics to eliminate pain for terminally ill patients is far more dignified than making killers out of our doctors who have been trained to save lives.

Marion LaBonté, Ottawa

Does a doctor have a right to end a patient’s life? I don’t know. Does a patient have a right to decide when he or she has had enough suffering? A resounding yes. After suffering a horrible ordeal with cancer for 19 months, my father wanted to go to the hospital to

spend his last few days in pain-free resignation. He was told by our medical establishment this was possible now, with all the painmanagement strategies available. Most of those strategies, however, are guided by physicians’ fears of overmedicating. Doctors who attended during my father’s last three weeks of agony would not even listen to his pleas to increase his morphine. If my father had asked me to assist in ending his terrible agony, I would have. At least he would have been able to leave this world on his terms, not a misguided bureaucracy’s.

Sylvain Charron, Timmins, Ont.

Canadian celebration

The 1999 Pan-American Games—to be held in Winnipeg from July 23 to Aug. 8—may very well be the “great celebration” needed to infuse Canadians with national pride (“Canada needs a great celebration,” The Road Ahead, Feb. 23). Everyone involved with the ’99 Games certainly believes this to be the case. Five thousand athletes from 42 nations will compete in 41 sports, making the ’99 Games the third-largest multi-sport event ever held in North America, eclipsed only by the Summer Olympics

in Los Angeles and Atlanta. These Games have already had a wonderful effect of rejuvenating the communities in which many of the sports will be held, and are creating a great sense of pride in one’s city, province and country.

Sandy Riley, Chairman, Pan Am Games Society (Wpg. 1999) Inc., Winnipeg

Curling in Canada

When you think of curling in Canada today, you think of the Sandra Schmirler rink of Regina (“Sweep stakes,” Special Report, March 16). Marcia Gudereit, Joan McCusker, Jan Betker and Schmirler have combined to become the finest women’s curling team ever. Although this rink has achieved success due to its skill and commitment as a unit, special mention must be made of skip Schmirler. She has accepted her leadership role and performed under pressure in an exemplary manner during her team’s toughest matches. Schmirler has also been a key reason for the growth of curling interest on television in Canada. Sandra Schmirler is deserving of recognition as Canada’s preeminent female curler of the 20th century.

Jeff Allen, Toronto

THE MAIL

Sounding the alarm in Alberta

'A pejorative term'

Your fine article on the corruption of Palestinian leadership is marred by the incorrect association of the word falasha to its Hebrew meaning “invader” (“Corrupting the dream,” World, March 30). Falasha comes from the Ethiopian Geez language, meaning “stranger.” It was a pejorative term used by other Ethiopians to marginalize Ethiopian Jews.

Rabbi Wayne Allen, Toronto

Children and guns

^TXThen children kill” (World, April 6) V V focused significantly on guns being a common part of Arkansas culture, with the usual slant towards gun control. Although guns have been a part of our rural culture for hundreds of years, their increasingly horrific misuse by children seems to be a more recent phenomenon. Recognition that gun misuse is only a symptom is crucial to our society finding solutions to the increasing violence within it. When children are exposed to thousands of murders on television, it is easy to surmise that some of them will see it as a solution to life’s problems. Focusing on what weapon was used, rather than the factors that led the killer to choose murder, will never effectively reduce reoccurrence.

Normand Morin, Hanmer, Ont.

Miami blues

Your reference to me as a New York City art dealer will leave potential artistic geniuses at a loss as to where to find me (“Driven to paint,” Opening Notes, Feb. 23). The Joy Moos Gallery is in Miami, and prior to moving here some 20 years ago, I was happily exhibiting the best of Canadian and international art in Montreal.

Joy Moos, Miami

In the wake of the so-called Vriend decision—the Supreme Court of Canada’s direction to Alberta on April 2 that its human rights legislation must include protection against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation—I am saddened and alarmed by the level of fear and intolerance that seems to exist in my chosen home province of Alberta. When asked by gay and lesbian friends from across the country why I would choose to live in “redneck" Alberta, I answer that it’s a natural, beautiful place with wonderful, friendly people who are more accepting than people think. I’m beginning to wonder.

While I still believe that a silent majority of Albertans do support basic human rights protection for all citizens, I worry that the scare tactics of a loud, organized, rightwing minority are having a frightening effect. Due to a lack of human rights protection, there are naturally fewer “out” gays and lesbians in this province than in other places where I’ve lived. Because of that, many Albertans think they have never met a gay or lesbian person, and are naturally ignorant, and thus fearful and against the recognition of their human rights. This vicious circle must stop.

The truth is, they do know (and may very well love and respect) gay and lesbian people—they simply don’t realize it. Another common misconception is that these rights will supersede religious rights. If—as in the case of Delwin Vriend losing his job at a Christian school—religious rights come in conflict with an individual's rights, the human rights commission would make a ruling based on that particular case. In my

Steve Mulligan,

Edmonton

opinion, the commission may have ruled against Mr. Vriend (and perhaps rightly so). But he still deserves the fundamental right to have his grievance heard.

Finally, the fear has again been raised that by providing basic protection from discrimination to gay and lesbian people, we are somehow promoting homosexuality and threatening traditional families. I’m not quite sure how one “promotes” something which is, as nearly as we can determine, genetic and/or somehow unknowingly instilled during childhood. I can tell you from personal experience that homosexuality is not a choice, nor is it a trend. It has always been around and will continue to exist, in approximately the same percentage of the population, for eternity.

As for the family, this court ruling will have the following effects: a) fewer of our young people will commit suicide because they won’t feel as much (government-sanctioned) contempt by society; and b) fewer men, women and children will find themselves in destroyed families after a parent finally admits to having married out of fear of his or her true sexual orientation.

By providing this protection we are simply making a few people’s lives a little happier and easier, and therefore also making the lives of all those in contact with them happier and easier. It’s not hard to create a better world. It can be done in the province of Alberta right now, through the kind of leadership Premier Ralph Klein showed last week in accepting the court’s decision. It will also require education and understanding. Without them, the cycle of ignorance will continue.

The Road Ahead invites readers to advance specific solutions to Canada's political, social and economic problems. Unpublished submissions may run condensed as regular letters or appear on an electronic bulletin board.