The Mail

April 19 1999

The Mail

April 19 1999

The Mail

Kosovo conundrum

It is time for our Western leaders to admit that they have created a hell of a mess in Yugoslavia and don’t know what will happen next (“Going to war,” Cover, April 5). President Abraham Lincoln declared war on the southern states to prevent them from seceding from the United States. There was death, wholesale destruction of southern cities and thousands of refugees. Did our leaders seriously believe that the Yugoslavs would not resist the dismantling of their country? Did they not appreciate the consequences of such an attempt? Clearly not. It is time to stop the bombing and return to the negotiating table.

Andrew Schuck, Vancouver

First, it was four of our CF-18s bombing Yugoslavia—a country that is neither invading Canada or its allies, nor threatening to do so. Then it was six CF-18s. As I write, it is 12. And there are growing hints that Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and his boys are considering using Canadian troop invasions. It is morally repugnant to bomb innocent civilians of a sovereign nation that is not an aggressor, regardless of how nasty some of its citizens are. By involving outside countries

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR should be addressed to: Maclean’s Magazine Letters 777 Bay St.,Toronto, Ont. M5W IA7 Fax: (416) 596-7730 E-mail: letters@macleans.ca Maclean’s welcomes readers’ views, but letters may be edited for space, style and clarity. Please supply name, address and daytime telephone number. Submissions may appear in Maclean’s electronic sites. E-mail queries about subscriptions or delivery problems should be addressed to: service@macleans.ca

in a war, you spill more blood, not less. Canada and the other NATO countries are the aggressors. For once, we are wrong and Russia and China are right. Keep Canada out of it.

John van der Veen, Port Stanley, Ont.

The White House has already bombed four nations in six months—Afghanistan, Sudan, Iraq and Yugoslavia —and like an incompetent handyman who uses a hammer for every task, found the cruise missile the most congenial of tools. The only consistent thing in U.S. policy is: bomb, and if it doesn’t work, bomb some more.

Veljko Djuric, Hamilton

The war in Kosovo brings to mind another war that has raged for several years in Sudan. Today’s best estimate is that more than 200,000 people have been slaughtered. This war remains invisible to the UN peacekeepers. Could it be because the combatants are mainly black?

Richard W. Cooper, Penticton, B.C.

It seems to me that when leaders are elected to lead, they ought to lead without a mediaconducted panel discussion (“Going to war, with no debate,” From The Editor, April 5). After all, if decisions are made without giving the media the opportunity to expound their instantly acquired knowledge of any and all topics, then our leaders may, heaven forbid, actually be leading. You suggest this is not the Canadian way, but Canadians for the most part want decisive and unambiguous decisions by their leaders—not some “understanding” according to the gospel of the press.

J. L. Gunn, Winnipeg

The matter in Kosovo is not about the sovereign rights of a nation. It is about humanity’s obligation to stop atrocity when it can. We acknowledged this responsibility once and the world rallied behind our victory in the Second World War. We promised to never again turn a blind eye or deaf ear to ethnic cleansing. We cannot afford to have to learn that lesson yet again.

John Annand, Guelph, Ont.

Youth, crime, justice

The day Justice Minister Anne McLellan introduced her new Youth Criminal Justice Act, our national church coalition called for urgent public education on our country’s “addiction to punishment.” Indeed, “Kids and crime” (Special Report, April 5), illustrates how complex this social problem is, and how much more helpful innovative approaches are than the dead-end, get-tough/go-soft debate. As we rightly worry about the few hardcore, seriously violent youth, we would do well to keep some perspective. Canada incarcerates more youth than most Western countries, uses diversion considerably less and puts youth behind bars at four times the rate of adults. No matter what form justice takes, we should avoid the further scapegoating and labelling of these youths along usthem lines.

Rick Prashaw, Youth justice co-ordinator, Church Council on Justice and Corrections, Ottawa

Rehabilitating Brian

Dalton Camp informs us that Brian Mulroney is in good health, doesn’t smoke and doesn’t drink (“In praise of Martin Brian Mulroney,” Guest Column, March 29). With respect to his previous life as prime minister, Camp reports that this unfortunate “victim of a thousand cuts and calumnies” is unrepentant and “doesn’t give a damn what his detractors say.” Moreover, unlike someone else we know, he would have made it to King Hussein’s funeral. He concludes, therefore, that Canadians should stop blaming Mulroney and get a life. Wow! What a powerful argument. He probably flosses, too. Thanks, Dalton, for providing me with my chuckle for the week. Perhaps you could rehabilitate Alan Eagleson for us next?

Ed Boldt, St. Norbert, Man.

Dalton Camp, in praising Brian Mulroney, could also have mentioned that his meeting with David Milgaard’s mother was the turning point in her 23-year campaign to free her innocent son. Joyce Milgaard, in her heart-rending book, which you excerpted in the same issue (“A taste of freedom,” The Maclean’s Excerpt), tells how she was spurned by the justice minister, but Mulroney kindly spoke to her. Mulroney’s impassioned speech against capital punishment undoubtedly changed the Conservatives’ pro-death penalty position and thus saved others who, like Milgaard, could be victims of miscarriages of justice.

Martin Haase, Chester, N.S.

Seeking root causes

I realize that the focus of your special report on community-based responses to homelessness (“Small solutions,” Special Report, March 8) was on solutions. Nonetheless, I believe that we will never find a lasting solution to homelessness until we address the various problems such as alcoholism, drug abuse and mental illness that eventually leave people in such an unfortunate state. Before we can repair our social safety net, we must learn which strands are broken.

Joseph Mayer, Ottawa

Passing the physical

It was refreshing to read Barbara Amiel’s column (“Sorry, folks, gender differences are real,” March 15) about the female firefighter in British Columbia who failed the physical test. Finally, someone has the courage and common sense to acknowledge the glaring fact that we are all different, each with our own unique skills and abilities. We do not all have the patience to be teachers, the dexterity to be surgeons, or the strength to be firefighters. But as long as everyone has an equal opportunity to apply for a stated position, and everyone is considered without prejudice, then failure is not discrimination, it’s life.

Mark Hillenbrand, Shellbrook, Sask.

Here we have again Ms. Amiel’s tiresome rant about how much she dislikes women other than Margaret Thatcher. This time, she suggests the United States will have to protect Canada as the Canadian Forces become soft by coddling its servicewomen. I

would like Ms. Amiel to tell that to Canada’s ex-servicewomen who continue to suffer the debilitating effects of the Gulf War syndrome, or to the servicewomen who went to Afghanistan to help clear that country’s land mines, or to the servicewomen who went to Rwanda and saw such unspeakable horror. Their experiences are just a few from an evergrowing list. The next time Ms. Amiel chooses to belittle women, I suggest she not pick women who are serving their country, quietly and proudly.

Rosemary Park, Richmond Hill, Ont.

I have to agree wholeheartedly with Barbara Amiel. I’m a 50year-old woman who would like to represent our country in figure skating in the next Olympics. I have noted that all of the qualifications seem to be geared towards young, fit women who can skate really well. I think I’ll get a lawyer.

Maureen Stetina, Vancouver

Sources of power

Jim Fulton’s ‘Wild weather, polluting fuel” (The Road Ahead, March 15) makes no mention of nuclear power as an alternative to fossil-fuel power generation. His David Suzuki-inspired commentary on the present and his vision of the future epitomize West Coast, Lotusland thinking. In Ontario, we produce about half our electrical energy from nuclear power, which is why our greenhouse gas emissions are much lower per capita than those of other provinces and states. Nuclear power is also the reason France produces much less carbon dioxide than Britain and some other European countries. My vision of the future is more prosaic: nuclear and hydroelectric power coupled with an increasing number of electric and hybrid vehicles to offset the expanding use of gas and oil for heating and public transportation. The shriller voices of conservation are losing the battle for the minds of ordinary Canadians, who, perversely, are buying SUVs and personal trucks instead of fuel-efficient cars. Renewable energy via solar panels is surely a nonstarter in the soggy West Coast region. Windmills could become an economical means of producing small quantities of electricity, but their users may have to get by with candles and lanterns when the only available wind is hot air.

Philip R. Stratton, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.

Old game, new rules

Your article about the cultural power of socalled Generation Y was excellent (“How teens got the power,” Cover, March 22). However, as someone who was born in 1981, I am dismayed that I am included in this group. Those aged 16 to 21 years should not be included in Generation X or Generation Y. The truth is we are not cynical like Gen Xers, yet we don’t conform to many stereotypes that our younger Generation Y counterparts confirm to be true. Some examples are:

1. Many of us live on our own, or are saving up for school. As a result, we don’t spend our money on designer clothes.

2. Most of us can’t stand talentless bubblegum bands like the Spice Girls or The Moffatts.

3. Most of us are gleefully awaiting the day that teenage lotharios like Leonardo DiCaprio and Dawson’s Creek star James Van Der Beek become has-beens hosting latenight infomercials.

This list could continue forever. If you ever do a story about the Echo Generation again, could you please call its older members something else, like the Float Generation or De-Generation X?

Curtis Brown, Winnipeg

The article about teens gaining power in today’s consumer world raised many intriguing and well-defined points. But it failed to address the more important issue of the advertising industry’s lack of morals and how that has caused this age of overconsumption. As a Generation Yer myself, I know the influence brand names and image have on my peers and me. However, we’re up against multimillion-dollar corporations hungry for every cent they can suck out of us and our parents. It is a constant battle, one where we continue to lose grasp of reality by being submerged in the material. However, there are those of us who do check labels to make sure our clothes weren’t manufactured by exploited Third World workers. We are few, but we are growing. Corrupt and greedy corporations beware; we know your game, but we’re making our own rules.

Amanda Card, Golden, B.C.

While Canadian universities and colleges agonize over setting fair tuition fee schedules, the average teen spends $500 a month on designer-label clothes, cosmetics, CDs, body-piercing, etc.? I would suggest that they save some of this disposable income

now for further education, in order to avoid enormous debt-loads later and be truly independent and free.

Yolande Gagnon, Chairwoman, board of governors, St. Mary’s College, Calgary

In the article “Goodbye girlhood,” girls are described as having “fragile psyches” (a term rarely used to describe boys of this age) by psychologist Mary Pipher. As girls’ bodies mature earlier and they are forced to grow up faster, perhaps it is time for society to give the women of tomorrow more credit today. These girls may surprise you with their maturity, intelligence and, yes, even their strong psyches.

Tamatha Trenholm, Halifax

Watching Dawson’s Creek, wearing makeup and drooling over celebrities hardly proves maturity. Girls have not influenced the commercial industry by their early womanhood; in fact, it is the contrary. Advertisers have widened their market to destroy whatever bits of childhood preteens have left in them. Having been there no less than three years ago, I clearly remember the giggling of friends in response to words like “nipple.” At the same time, they watched shows like Friends and Beverly Hills 90210 and were

avid readers of magazines such as Seventeen. They loved clothes and had a different crush every week. They were losing their connections with a childhood of rolling in the dirt and having boys as best friends, not boyfriends. Unless you can say that exposure to advertising by opening a magazine or turning on the TV is their fault, it’s not they who did it to themselves.

Elizabeth Curry, Wynyard, Sask.

Bared or barren?

Unlike Alanis Morissette, I have never had the “octaves” to bare my soul’s cupboard to an audience of thousands (“Reinventing Alanis,” Cover, March 8). But you have to examine what’s being bared: Morissette’s interior insights just don’t have the stamina. For a contemporary voice, why not try Melanie Doane’s Waiting for the Tide? That captures the

mood of financial terror, lost loves and broken spiritualities: the lot of today’s Lost Tribes who can’t afford to wing to India when we feel like it.

A. J. Gardner, South River, Ont.

If Joe Public would only stop listening to music with their eyes, this pop diva hype (“The season of the diva”) would suddenly fall into perspective.

Danny McErlain, Toronto

I Speculation levy

I Tt is remarkably good news that ^ ACanada’s House of Commons has voted to lead the way in the international adoption of a levy on currency speculation, which will both stabilize economies and generate revenue for global poverty reduction and other vital work (“A speculation tax to help the poor,” The Road Ahead, March 22). This initiative could easily surpass Canada’s success with the land mine ban in importance. Now, that is a millennium project worth getting excited about.

Blaise Salmon, Victoria

THE MAIL

Necessary choices

It stands to reason that it would take someone from outside the country to point out the drivel that sometimes emanates from Canadians and Canadian politicians (“The myth of ‘having it all,’ ” The Road Ahead, March 29). Contrary to the views of some people quoted in your March 1 cover report on the pressures on working parents (“The mother load”), it is necessary for us to make choices. To “have it all” often means having to “do it all.” This can lead to a life of unnecessary stress for women who really think it is possible, and indeed, is somehow expected by the intelligentsia in our country. This line of thinking has created, in large measure, many of the maladies we are confronted with. Such a choice is made implicitly, if not explicitly. The choice is distinctly unintelligent when it leads us to do many things poorly instead of a few things well. This is often the choice we are making whether we realize it or not. We have suffered too long from the mistaken belief that we can, and are entitled to, have it all. It’s time we started talking about our responsibilities as well as our rights and entitlements.

Gail Keith, Fonthill, Ont.

Defining ‘disabled'

I read the article on fibromyalgia with personal interest (“Mysterious malady,” Health, March 15). Unfortunately, having to prove disability does not stop with CPR I was given an intense examination four years ago by an orthopedic specialist chosen by CPP who in turn reported her findings to my doctor. This letter was the most descriptive my doctor had seen in 35 years of practising medicine, and I did qualify for CPP Now, I have to prove this all over again with Revenue Canada, which does not, it seems, consider anything less than being bedridden or totally helpless as disabled. It does not accept the stringent guidelines of CPP and that department’s qualified medical specialists, preferring instead, it seems, to use the judgment of clerical staff. It is bad enough to be ill and have to cope with the resultant loss of income without then having the additional burden of explaining to all and sundry what, why, when and how. The specialist and physician know the difficulties their patients are experiencing and their expertise should be good enough for Revenue Canada. People with this so-called mysterious malady do not want preferential treatment, they want what is just and rightfully due. Unfortunately, people with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome do not have the stamina to lobby Parliament, or the funds to pay others to do so.

Freda A. Rumford, Okotoks, Alta.

THE MAI!

'We work hard'

I’m a resident at Project Turnaround and I am angry to see that our positive accomplishments were overlooked (“Project Turnaround,” Special Report, April 5). The way that myself and another resident saw the article was that we are just here doing time, being “barked at” by the staff, and learning how to march. There was nothing written about the hard work that we do here, the performance guides that we have to complete to advance the levels, the mandatory groups that we take to help with such problems as drug abuse and anger. We don’t just show up here and behave to earn our privileges. We have to work hard writing essays about self-discipline, selfesteem and decision-making. A lot of us don’t see ourselves as “delinquents” or “criminals,” we see ourselves as young men that have made mistakes and want to change. That’s why we are here.

A resident, Project Turnaround, Moonstone, Ont. (The name of a young offender cannot be published)

ADD-parenting link

Dr. Gabor Maté’s theory that attention deficit disorder is a result of poor “attunement” between child and parent reminds me of how autism was postulated to be a result of poor parent-child interaction (“Genes or parenting?” Health, April 5). The autism-parenting link has been debunked, but now, thanks to Maté’s ruminations, pediatricians again have to reassure parents that their child’s ADD is not due to their lousy parenting skills. Maté’s unsubstantiated postulations are a backward step, especially as the biologic (biochemical and genetic) nature of ADD is becoming increasingly well documented.

Dr. Stephen Wainer, Calgary

The Internet weapon

Since the outset of NATO’s attacks on Yugoslavia on March 24, Serbs have bombarded media outlets in the participating nations by electronic mail with graphic accounts of life on the receiving end of the bombing. The e-mail, though unconfirmed factually, vividly demonstrates how individuals are increasingly using the Internet to bypass traditional sources of information and spread their point of view. Excerpts from the mail flowing into Maclean’s:

I am 27, born in Belgrade, graduated from the faculty of law. I conducted a normal life: going to the cinema with my girlfriend, Sunday lunch with my parents, meeting with friends, watching basketball games, enjoying a rock concert and listening to music. Two weeks ago that changed. Now, it is nights in shelters, my mother crying all day and remembering the Nazis bombing Belgrade in 1941, my girlfriend on the edge of a nervous breakdown. A few weeks ago, war looked far away from me—Iraq, Palestine. I was planning to marry and have children. Now I ask why? To raise sons for the army?

Aleksandar,

Belgrade

I am Serbian student born in Pristina and studying the Albanian language at the University of Pristina. I don’t know if I am going to be alive tomorrow, so I want to write you something about Yugoslavia, Kosovo, the Balkans, Serbs, Albanians, love, death, fear, children, tears—something real about the situation in Kosovo. The centre of Pristina is totally ruined by NATO’s smart bombs. They plan to “stop the humanitarian catastrophe” by killing thousands of innocent people in Yugoslavia?

Milan Orlovic,

Pristina, Kosovo

Where is the end of lies and injustice? I believe there are many people in the world and in America who consider themselves just and truthful, but they need right information. It’s up to you to provide it.

Vladimir Djacic, Novi Sad, Yugoslavia

I am 25 years old and I have a wife and threemonth-old daughter. I must ask you or anybody in America to stop this madness. NATO is killing innocent people. According to CNN this is “a strike against Slobodan Milosevic,” but it is not. Airplanes do not hit him. Where was NATO during the ethnic cleansing of Croatia and Bosnia? The people of Kosovo will

be able to return home after this aggression of NATO and the fight against the Kosovo Liberation Army terrorists. The KLA was killing and frightening Serbian people for 10 years. Kosovo is Serbian for over 1,000 years. My country was built there and our Orthodox monasteries are proof of it.

Predrag, Masha and Alexandra, Belgrade

For 10 days, we have been living under NATO air strikes supported by an unbelievably aggressive campaign in the western media against the Yugoslav people. On the evening of March 24, five missiles struck Novi Sad, two of them only 150 m from the skyscraper in which I have been living since I was two years old. Glass from the windows fell on our heads, doors were split in half, elevators stopped, there was no electricity, children were screaming. We were sure the world would not allow this to happen at the end of the 20th century, but unfortunately that was only the beginning. We feel no fear, only anger and desperation. A lot of people have been misled by information created in the western media and by NATO spokesmen. Civilians are being badly hurt, houses, schools, faculties, hospitals and kindergartens destroyed. It is high time you woke up! Serbia bleeds today. You can help that stop.

Ankica Krstic, Novi Sad, Yugoslavia