THE MAIL

THE MAIL

June 30 2003
THE MAIL

THE MAIL

June 30 2003

THE MAIL

‘Until there is a commitment to keep our water, food and air clean, there is nothing we can do to keep up with the demands on the health-care system.’ -PAMELA MURRAY, Mississauga, ont.

Letters to the Editor: letters@macleans.ca

Ranking health care

As a nurse-clinician who works alongside interdisciplinary colleagues, I was surprised that you omitted the most important partners in the collaborative health-care team: the patient and family (“Team players,” Health Report/Cover, June 16). Without recognizing them as legitimate team players, health-care professionals are at risk for simply “doing to” our patients when we really need to be working with them.

Andrea Pritchard, Calgary

As a registered nurse working in the psychiatric/mental health setting, I find it alarming to examine your rankings and see nothing that reflects mental-health indices (“Centres of excellence,” Health Report/Cover). I hope that this huge oversight will be addressed in the next national survey, as a significant percentage of Canada’s population is affected by mental illness at various stages in life. Depression and acute manifestations of schizophrenia, among many other diagnoses, along with suicide attempts, are reasons for admission to hospital and often result in very lengthy stays, as well as taxing community resources if the individual is trying to function outside the hospital setting. The emotional, psychosocial and financial stressors that affect the individual and families create a deep gouge in the otherwise remarkable health statistics you have compiled.

Colleen Stewart, Member-at-large, Canadian Federation of Mental Health Nurses, Edmonton

To the public, all that matters is unimpeded access to health care and that there be no point-of-service cost. To governments, all that matters is that health care appears to respond to patients’ needs; hence, stop-gap initiatives like Telehealth, Ontario’s telephone support line that takes nurses from hospitals and seems to provide public access. The continuing service decline will not be stopped without significant resource allocation at every need point, both human (doctors, nurses, nurse-practitioners) and equipment/facility. Correction of the increasing

deficiencies will require lots of time for training people, building facilities and putting supplies in place. The rigid thinking against public/private collaborations or fully private undertakings will only allow demand to continue to exceed supply.

Dr. Richard Gruneir, Leamington, Ont.

Horror, by any other name

Aaron White’s letter “Speaking volumes” (June 9) decries the Israeli practice of destroying the homes of families of Palestinian suicide bombers. The dictionary defines a “suicide” as one who takes his or her life. But these bombers are committing homicide. The fact that they die is a by-product of their own design. Also, all the bombers know very well what the Israeli reaction will be. If they don’t care about their own families, why should anyone else?

Gaby Friedman, Mississauga, Ont.

Friendly skies

“Defending Air Canada” (Mansbridge on the Record, June 16) struck a significant chord. A native Scot and Canadian citizen since 1983,1 have returned to Scotland several times to provide help and support to my aging and ailing parents—always flying Air Canada. After each visit, it is difficult to adequately describe my emotions on enter-

ing the departure lounge in Glasgow for the return flight and catching sight of the reassuring presence of the huge aircraft with its distinctive red logos being readied for transatlantic flight. Air Canada helps define this country and is truly a national institution which we cannot afford to lose.

Ann Brown, Brights Grove, Ont.

As an employee of Air Canada, I would like to thank you for finally saying something nice about this company. It’s been hard enough working the last couple of years, having no idea whether you are going to have a job next month, but it has also made it harder when you listen to the news and everyone is bashing the airline.

Shauna Gaudet, Halifax

The real problem with Air Canada is incompetence. Too many bosses, not enough workers with a tiny spark of entrepreneurial spirit, and stifling unions that don’t allow freethinking employees to move ahead. Let Air Canada go, and open our airways to free enterprise and other countries’ carriers. Dave Sutherland, Burnaby, B.C.

As a surgeon in the Canadian health-care system, I see a parallel situation to Air Canada’s where we are constantly criticized for long waiting times and depersonalized care, while working to maintain a standard of safety for our patients that is more and more difficult to provide. If Canadians wish to salvage those institutions that define us internationally, we will all need an extra dose of understanding. Meantime, I’ll continue to force a smile as I tear open the bag of headphones and helplessly watch the foam earpieces explode forth and roll under my seat, never to be found again.

Dr. Darren Drosdowech, London, Ont.

And throw away the key

Donald Coxe’s insightful hand-wringing about the “Chernobylesque” financial disaster brought on by “shills and mountebanks” is most welcome, but mere exposé is inadequate (“Paying for our sins,” Column, June 16). The greatest step in the economic and moral rehabilitation of U.S. capitalism will occur only when all these shills and mountebanks are escorted into the deepest and darkest clink available. However, I’ll bet you a dime to a stock option that such punishment will rarely happen. Petty thieves

get sure punishment—financial thievery of Olympian dimensions gets at best a slap on the wrist.

Sam Markou, Mississauga, Ont.

Around the world in many days

Derek Hatfield took nearly nine months to race his sailboat around the world (“Solo sailor: Spirit of Canada,” The Week, June 16). Yes, his was the last boat to cross the finish line, but he was third in the overall standings in his class. A class-A sailor with a lot of guts.

Don Carmody, Gagetown, N.B.

Horse hockey

I gather Will Ferguson wasn’t too enamoured of Saskatoon’s winters (“Tale of two cities,” Will Ferguson’s Canada, June 16). I grew up in Saskatoon in the ’30s, and winter was the best of the four seasons. Winter was snow forts, angels in the snowbanks, skiing on barrel staves, snowball fights and road hockey. We called it “shinny”—mailorder catalogues were stuffed in stockings for shin pads and we used frozen horse manure for pucks. We called them “road apples,” but in the spring thaw they became “muffins,” and nobody wanted to play in goal. Those of us who emigrated will tell you Saskatoon is the best place in Canada to be from.

Bob Thompson, Victoria

What slump?

I have been considering travelling to Ontario later this summer for a two-week holiday.

Having not yet booked my flights, I was surprised that, despite falling numbers of tourists, it’s hard to get a return flight from London to Toronto, and the cheapest scheduled flights are running at least $1,350. It’s not surprising tourist numbers are down (“A virus strikes tourism,” Business, June 9), and it’s not all to do with SARS. Could it be that the besieged tourist industry is still trying to wring every last dollar/pound out of the travelling public?

Paul Broadbent, Rochester, England

Cultural decline

I loved the black-and-white photo of the traditional Inuit seal hunters (“Life at the top of the world,” The North, June 16). However, I take exception to the statement that “urban-based animal rights activists... have wreaked so much havoc in the lives of the Inuit.” I would suggest that Ottawa’s attempt to “ ‘civilize’ the Inuit by bringing them into closer contact with churches, schools and nursing stations” is the real cause of any havoc wreaked, TVs and videos being the final kiss of death to a once smiling and proud culture.

Kurt Crist, Unionville, Ont.

Conventional wisdom

Rick Salutin has managed an accurate account of the 2003 federal Conservative leadership convention (“Troublesome Tories,” Politics, June 16). Post-convention, we were force-fed newspaper and TV commentators’ spin on everything from “The Deal” to “The Cult”

and it was refreshing to read a well thoughtout analysis. But even Salutin seems to have difficulty grasping the dedication that motivates those who support David Orchard. For many of us it is his uncanny ability to bring a broad range of people with diverse backgrounds, social status and education together for the good of a common cause. It is his grasp of the issues affecting everyday Canadians and his courage to speak out on them. It is his calm, genuine, selfless demeanour that has kept him in service to his cause for the last 25 years. Canada—he believes in her greatness!

Loreta Learmonth, Kelowna, B.C.

Having attended the convention as a David Orchard delegate, I found Rick Salutin’s article to be the most insightful of all the reports I read. Yes, the outcome was surprising, one that will help to save this historically significant party. The addition of Orchard, a centrist, will again make the party attractive to the majority of Canadians. Finally there is an alternative to the Liberals.

Ian Gartshore, Nanaimo, B.C.

Long-playing nostalgia

I read your paean to the long-playing record with some bemusement, since I’ve heard that side played many times before (“Long live the record,” Low-tech, June 16). We were treated, once again, to the hyperbolic sentiments about the “LP’s tonal warmth and range, so conspicuously absent on CD” or “vinyl’s unsurpassed sound quality.” The first CD I ever heard in the early 1980s was at a private showing by an engineer from Sony, who had brought a demonstration machine from headquarters in Japan. I remarked that the sound quality was, indeed, breathtaking, but the most impressive thing about the CD was that it would sound exactly the same one year later. That is the essential difference between the digital system, as represented by the CD, and the analog, embodied in the LP. I hardly play my LPs any more, because it is simply too much of a performance to have to clean the record, clean the stylus, make sure your hands don’t touch the playing surface, etc., etc.

Keeble McFarlane, Toronto

Blast from the past

I was surprised and absolutely delighted with the article and pictures of Chow Dong Hoy, who was a very good friend of both my

mother and my grandfather, J. D. Pearson, who owned the Quesnel Hotel in the 1930s (“Lost portraits of the past,” Photography, June 16). I have very fond memories of shopping in Hoy’s general store and of his children, but the most remarkable was of having a Chinese New Year’s dinner at his house. It was authentic and simply delicious.

Dona Clark Atkinson, North Vancouver

Queen of Canada

The year 2003 is not only the 50th anniversary of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II (“Elizabeth then and now,” The Week, June 16), it is the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the separate title of Queen of Canada—a development that was of crucial importance in the maintenance of the Crown as the form of government and framework of Canadian society. Canada’s adoption of the title Queen of Canada was the fulfillment of a dream going back to the Fathers of Confederation, who wanted the Dominion of Canada to be named the Kingdom of Canada. God bless our constitutional monarchy and God save the Queen of Canada. Long may she reign over us.

Daniel Sauvé, Ottawa

Thank you Pauls

As a financial planner, I was pleased to read Paul Wells’s column “Our golden oldie days” on the Canada Pension Plan (The Back Page, June 16). I have been able to feel much more confident in assuring skeptical clients that their Canada Pension should be there for them since the premium and investment changes have been made. Most Canadians want to count on their government to spend taxes wisely and run programs efficiendy. Unfortunately, their faith has been tested sorely in recent times by mismanagement at HRDC, the gun registry fiasco and a prime minister who no longer seems to care to govern. We would like government to look beyond the next election date in our interest and fix problems before they blow up. But this rarely happens. Paul Martin and the provincial finance ministers did the unthinkable. They saw a future problem and agreed how to fix it! The changes in premiums mean I now pay 9.9 per cent of my income to the CPP to ensure my pension is there when I retire. I’m willing and happy to do so in order to avoid the results of poor planning evidenced in Europe.

Gary Scobie, Burlington, Ont.