The Mail

July 1 2001

The Mail

July 1 2001

The Mail

Art restitution

Congratulations for “Tainted lady,” (Cover, June 18) on the movement to return art that was originally stolen or otherwise illegitimately appropriated. The appeal of the campaign for the restitution of the Parthenon (Elgin) Marbles from Britain to Greece you referred to in your article is similar to the appeal for the return of the Dürer work. In downplaying the many arguments regarding the illegitimate removal of the Marbles, we are appealing to the sense of fair play of the British people and government. After all, the Greeks have given much to the world, including the Olympics, and we believe it is time to give back the Parthenon Marbles in time for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.

Steve Ashton, Secretary, Canadian Committee for the Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles, Thompson, Man.

When Albrecht Dürer created that drawing, he had the light source come from the left, casting a shadow to the right. But today, 500 years after she was first drawn, the Nude Woman with a Staff casts a shadow to the left, falling on the Macleans

banner. If the “Tainted lady” is returned to Poland, will her tainted shadow follow, as well?

John Christie, North Vancouver

In “Tainted lady,” Polish Ambassador to Canada Pawel Dobrowolski consciously or unconsciously chose to begin the history of Lviv in 1349. However, the origins of Lviv predate its Polish control in 1349 to the ninthto 12th-century Old Ukrainian state of Kyivan Rusi and its Halycz (Galician) principality. Surely, if Dobrowolski is sincere in his intentions regarding ownership, then he should begin with the Black Madonna in todays Poland and return it as a gesture of goodwill to Ukraine.

Ihor and Orest Cap, Winnipeg

Urban renewal

Mary Janigan is right on the money regarding the downtown renaissance of major U.S. cities (“The plight of the cities,” July 18). Business and leisure travel has recently taken me to many U.S. cities, and it appears there is one common objective that each aspires to, and that is to bring people back downtown. Clearly, they have recognized the importance of the urban economy and the vital role that cities play with respect to how we are perceived internationally. It is time we did the same. Chris Kemp, Waterdown, Ont.

Mary Janigan contends that Canadian cities are in a financial straitjacket because of “regulations [that] tightly control the type of taxes a city can levy” and that municipal taxation policy is limiting urban growth when compared with American cities, but what she conveniendy forgets to mention is that Canadians pay the highest property taxes in the developed world. Second, she contends that higher levels of governments have cut municipal grants.

Higher levels of government are too busy spending money on television shows and magazine subsidies to be worried about urban development. This kind of spending may not spur economic growth, but it does spur political votes.

Craig Smith, Lucan, Ont.

Tm starting to wonder what the federal government does. It doesn’t pay for much health care anymore or for much postsecondary education. It won’t help build or maintain our highway system. It doesn’t support a viable coast guard or even a medium-sized military. If a government doesn’t take up its two major responsibilities of (a) building infrastructure and (b) providing a safety net for citizens in dire straits, then why do we let it take so much from us in taxes?

Geoff Dean, Surrey, B.C.

Molson’s Canada

While Molson pays tribute to events that served as the backbone of our country in its new “I am. Canadian” commercial, the fact that our history is being used to make a dollar doesn’t sell me (“The patriot game,” Business, June 18). Instead of considering the new commercial as a national

Saudi nightmare

My heart bleeds for Bill Sampson, the Canadian incarcerated in a Saudi Arabian prison (“Prisoner of Riyadh,” Cover, June 25). Back in the early ’80s, my then-husband was arrested at a villa he shared with two other architects in Riyadh because of a supposed traffic violation by one of his work colleagues. The Saudi police tricked this chap into giving them entry to the villa to search his room, but then they searched the whole villa. They found no alcohol, but they did find wine-making equipment—gerry can, siphons—in their kitchen. My husband and two others were arrested and charged. The trial was a farce and they all spent 11 months in prison with 90 lashes at the end. My husband and his work colleagues were Scottish, and there was nothing the British government could do for them.

Lilian Gray-Jones, Calgary

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outcry of pride, it may be perceived as another CEO trying to make money on Canadians’ psyches. Then again, perhaps the anthem will work. With sex, drugs and beer on the brain, the target age-group may not notice that they’ve just sacrificed their identity to Molson’s.

Kimberly Anderson, Brampton, Ont.

Missing from your piece on beer and flags: Saskatchewan is home to Molson’s strongest market share in Canada. We’re also home to a perfecdy productive brewery

that Molson is about to close. Worse, like an empire departing the colonies, Molson reportedly plans to dismantle the equipment and carry it away. Past experience shows that if you leave the equipment in the hands of the locals, they will begin brewing their own beer. Molson’s excuse? They need to consolidate production to become internationally competitive. Good luck in the United States, Mr. Molson. Just add water.

T. W. Elliott, Regina

Amiel on Labour

I have no problems with Barbara Amiel defending the the fallen leader of Britain’s Tory party, but I feel her characterization of Tony Blair and the Labour Party to be unjust (“The right man for the times,” July 18).

Her column didn’t mention that the Labour Party’s first term in office saw more than one million people lifted out of poverty, the introduction of the first-ever minimum wage, billions of pounds introduced into the health and education sys-

tem, democratic reforms in Wales and Scotland, peace in Northern Ireland, increased arts funding and an emphasis on taxing those who damage the environment. There is also a small matter of ungraciousness, as it was Blair who recommended her husband, Conrad Black, to the House of Lords.

Michael Cowie, Halifax

It’s not surprising that Amiel would know little about the historical achievements of the Labour Party, but Blair is actually the third Labour prime minister to win back-to-back victories, not the first. Clement Adee won in 1945 and 1950 and Harold Wilson won in 1964 and 1966, then earned consecutive victories again in the spring and fall of 1974.

Clive Baugh, Hamilton

End-of-life decisions

I could have been the physician described in “Mom’s fine, just fine” (Over to You, June 18). I certainly have had just such an unsettling discussion with the patient and family many times in the past 20 years. It is both my personal and professional opinion that a person who is reaching the end of their natural days should be allowed to pass away as quiedy, painlessly and with as much dignity as possible. Unfortunately, hospital policy throughout Canada demands that a resuscitation be attempted on all who die (regardless of cause), except when a formal decision has been made not to. That decision must be discussed with the patient and usually with family (or family alone where the patient is not competent) . This entails discussing the full impact of the terminal illness, the procedure of resuscitation and the likelihood of futility of the resuscitation. It has been debated whether doctors should be able to write these orders without discussion where death is inevitable. However, opponents state that doctors are not always correct in their predictions and that patients should always be involved in decisions regarding their care. It is a rock and a hard place.

For more letters

Dr. Dawna M. Gilchrist, Associate Professor of Medicine, University of Alberta, Edmonton