The Mail

The Mail

July 26 1999
The Mail

The Mail

July 26 1999

The Mail

Shopping Canadian

I read with great interest your discussion of Internet retail (“Net gains,” Cover, July 12). I find my purchasing habits changing in this small urban centre; I can only imagine the impact of “virtual purchases” on rural Canada. May I suggest, however, that Canadian retailers wishing to do business through my computer still have a number of “low-tech” obstacles to overcome.

While both U.S. and Canadian firms recently promised to deliver a DVD copy of the film Elizabeth to my door for $40 (Cdn.), for example, only the Americans had the product in the mail within hours. The Canadian Internet site promised shipment within two weeks. While we need more and better Canadian Internet sites selling a variety of products, we must also develop a commensurate level of customer service to sustain our innovations once the computers are turned off.

Craig Monk, Lethbridge, Alta.

Taxes and health

In “Health care on the line” (Canada, July 12), you quote Quebec cancer patient Hervé Brin as pondering: “I don’t

Letters to the Editor

should be addressed to:

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understand how [Quebec’s health-care system] deteriorated like that.” Our health-care system deteriorated because Canadians view the American taxation system as “better.” Rather than insisting that their politicians avoid white elephants like subsidizing sporting events (the Olympics), international fairs and professional sports (the NHL), they point to tax burdens as “bad.” Lowering taxes that benefit the haves of our society may enable Canadians to meet the tax targets of our American cousins, but it does little to define the soul of our country.

Don MacAlpine, Nipigon, Ont.

Monetary union

What happened between the special issue for July 1 (“Canada’s century”) and the July 5 cover story about monetary union with the United States (“Say it ain’t so”)? Was the first a frothy birthday bash and the second reality? Has the right-wing think-tank, the C. D. Howe Institute, now become Canada’s official propaganda apologist for business and politics? Why do all the articles support the inevitability of monetary union? There were many besides the Council of Canadians who saw the direction of the NAFTA agreement and the power of that agenda to deny our sovereignty. Nationalism has its faults, but why should we trade the Canadian variety for the American one, so the rich can, even faster, get richer and the poor poorer? Eileen Wttewaall, Saltspring Island, B.C.

I am a U.S. citizen and have been a subscriber to your fine magazine for about

II years, but this issue upset me. The

Whither the loonie?

The debate on the possible monetary union with the United States centres so much on the sentimental issue of Canadian sovereignty that some of the more fundamental economic considerations are ignored (“Say it ain’t so,” Cover, July 5). Under the euro in Europe, two points have become clear. First, the European central bank cannot adopt an interest policy that suits everyone, namely a thriving Irish economy and a stagnant one in Italy. This would be less of a problem for Canada, since economic cycles in Canada and the United States are more in tandem. Second, however, European countries have also given up the option to devalue in order to boost competitiveness, which will require a greater degree of labour market flexibility to compensate for the loss. As Canadian exporters have widely benefited from a weak Canadian dollar over the past two decades, the debate on monetary union should focus much more on how competitive Canada would be if its currency really were pegged to or replaced by the U.S. dollar. Richard Morawetz, London

tone of the magazine seemed to be an endless series of anti-U.S. tirades, like earlier issues after the magazine-content decision was reached. For Canada to seriously consider adopting the U.S. currency, I think your problems would have to be on the level of a Third World basket-case economy. Canada is far from that. You have a wonderful country with a bright, well-educated workforce. Your cities are clean, your cultural offerings are extensive and you are poised to continue making a name for yourselves without us. That is why I

Apology

In the June 14,1999, edition of Maclean's, an article titled “The Tax Dodgers" inadvertently may have implied that Peter Nygard and Arthur Hailey had broken the law. There is no evidence whatsoever to suggest any unlawful activities on their part. Maclean’s regrets the inference and apologizes to Mr. Nygard and Mr. Hailey.

treasure Macleans and the CBC, when I can catch them. I have lived in Japan and Mexico. Canada has a high profile in both of those places. You should feel secure and try to emphasize U.S. issues less. Let us Americans enjoy our Canadianbuilt Hondas, listen to the CBC’s As It Happens on our public radio stations, drink your beer and read Macleans. Douglas A. Clark, San Francisco

Cuban cold front

Your article “A deepening chill on Cuba” (World Notes, July 12) reveals a creeping if belated recognition by Ottawa of the true nature of the Cuban regime. It brings vividly to mind the observation of my Canadian war veteran friend on the ingratiating smile of Jean Chrétien in greeting Cuba’s Maximum Leader in 1998. He noted an eerie resemblance to the expression of Col. Charles A. Lindbergh in the famous photograph of his handshake with Germany’s Führer in 1938. Surely the intrepid American aviator knew at the time of Dachau, just as the highly intelligent Canadian Prime Minister had to know of Cuba’s unspeakable political prisons. As was written a long time ago, kindness to the cruel is cruelty to the kind. We longtime friends of Canada hope that this ageless moral precept has been learned finally and definitively.

Robert H. Pines, New York (Mr. Pines servedforfour years in the Bush administration as deputy assistant secretary of state for Canadian affairs.)

Nuclear benefits

“Ethical banking” indicates that Citizens Bank believes that dealing with firms that produce nuclear energy is somehow not ethical (Personal Finance, July 12). I believe I may speak to the “ethical nature” of nuclear energy. About 30,000 diagnostic procedures are performed daily with nuclear medicine (one in three visits to hospitals), which is possible only because of nuclear energy. Food irradiation, endorsed by the World

Health Organization, Health Canada, and the U.S. FDA, is an effective weapon against pathogens like salmonella and E. coli, and is possible only because of the nuclear industry. Radiation therapy is one of the most effective weapons against cancer, and radiation sterilization is used widely for medical instruments, bandages, vitamins, blood products and numerous other items, and is possible only because of the nuclear industry. All of the above were pioneered in Canada, and are still led by Canada. Nuclear power in Canada has avoided the production of a billion tonnes of C02 and its release into our atmosphere. If Citizens Bank continues its current line of reasoning, it may find that it does not attract consumers with a social conscience. Andrew J. English, Project Manager,

Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., Deep River, Ont.

Insult to injury

Allan Fotheringham perpetuates the media’s continuing attacks on Reform party Leader Preston Manning, including his physical characteristics, creating a virtually indelible image (“Disunited alternatives,” July 1). There is no real corresponding criticism of Jean Chrétien, whose physical appearance is off limits. It does not matter that Manning offers Canada some real change—sensible Senate reform, a more rational tax structure, referendums on important non-political national issues, recall, and more genuine democracy. The media decided a long time ago that it did not like Manning and so they continue with the campaign of a thousand cuts.

J. A. Smith, Hantsport, N.S.

Right on, Dr. Foth! It is long past the time for putting the United Alternative to permanent R.I.P Agreed that Preston and Joe must go with it, unfortunately. If they don’t, the long-suffering Canadian citizen, who was so hoping that the next time around things could be really different, will be left with no alternative again.

Phyllis Dawson, Stratford, Ont.