THE MAIL

July 1 2004

THE MAIL

July 1 2004

THE MAIL

‘The idea of Stephen Harper as PM fills me with dread. He may sound like a reasonable man, but make no mistake, leopards don’t change their spots.’

Heien O'Reilly, Edmonton

Pre-election jitters

I’m a dual citizen of Canada and the United States and spend roughly half my time in each country. As such, I’m appalled at the possibility of Stephen Harper becoming prime minister (“Our next prime minister?” Cover, June 14). He and the new Conservatives constitute a frightening parallel to George W. Bush and the Republicans. Never mind Harper’s so-called “hidden agenda,” his stated agenda of tax cuts and increased military spending will result in the Americanization of Canadian society. If you vote Conservative, be prepared for huge deficits, inflation, the shredding of the social safety net, along with the curtailment of gay rights and women’s reproductive choice.

John Sass, Grand Bend, Ont.

Not since the Quebec referendum of October 1995, when Canada almost became a divided country, have I felt such overwhelming fear for this wonderful nation. I refuse to believe that Canadian citizens would sacrifice all the freedoms and rights that we have gained over the years to a party that tries to pass itself off as the “Conservative Party.” Stephen Harper et al. are only using the Conservative party name as a drawing card for votes from the uninformed and those who will, at any cost, vote anything but Liberal. Harper’s “Conservatives” are so far right in their ideology that any true conservative will run away as far to the left as he/she can go.

Barrie Munro, Calgary

On your June 14 cover, you asked, “How do you like the sound of Prime Minister Stephen Harper?” The answer: We love it!

Linda and Ross Ball, Ingersoll, Ont.

The scariest cover you’ve ever produced. We’ve hidden it from our grandchildren. John Q. Gregg, Quathlaski Cove, B.C.

In their anger over corruption perpetrated by Jean Chretien’s cabal, many Canadians appear to have forgotten the reasons they wanted Paul Martin to become our next

prime minister. In 1993, Martin took the most difficult job in Canadian politics, minister of finance, and did what most people thought was impossible. He eliminated the deficit while presiding over a period of unparalleled growth; growth that has continued, even as the U.S. economy has faltered. In other words, Martin proved his competence and earned his chance to be prime minister.

Scott McMeekin, Toronto

It is unfortunate that many people in our country do not make the effort to educate themselves before the vote, and it does a greater disservice to our country when people do not bother to vote in elections at all

Remembering Reagan I

The former president’s death evokes a memory

Michael McCafferty of Regina was 24 when he shared an elevator with Ronald Reagan in 1975, five years before the former actor became president. They were attending a Young Republicans convention and Reagan complimented McCafferty on his interest in U.S. politics. “He was my hero,” writes McCafferty, “one of the giants of history, along with Lincoln and Churchill.”

levels of government. Voting for our leaders is not only our right but also our responsibility as citizens. It is also the responsibility of all media to help educate the public as to its choices. Unfortunately, we are subjected to severe bias in our newspapers, magazines, television and radio, which makes it difficult to be properly informed. Where is the coverage of the Green Party? Why wasn’t the leader of the Green Party, a party that has a full slate of candidates, invited to take part in the televised debate? Maybe if its message got out, that would appeal to a lot of the undecided, or change a few minds.

Vicki Strelioff, Saskatoon

As a volunteer, I visit with lifers in Kingston’s Collins Bay medium security institution on a regular basis (“Doing your time—and casting your ballot,” Cover, June 14). They are human beings who have made mistakes and have been through life’s extreme challenges. Advocates of prisoners’ right to vote and other rights desire to see accountability and responsibility, but also wish to see valuable and contributing members of society. The Canadian public needs to understand that the large majority of convicts return to their communities. If they are not supported and given the chance to contribute and feel valuable, such as by voting, they may harm the community again.

Susan Haines, Ottawa

I am the student who asked the question: “Why can’t people under 18 vote, but the government still taxes us? (“The Rating Game,” Cover, June 14).” Young adults are mature enough to hold down jobs, drive, join the military, pay taxes and even live on their own. But we are disenfranchised individuals who, whether the government likes it or not, have a great deal to say about the welfare of ourselves and our communities. Courtney Noble, victoria

Modern D-Days

As a soldier, I challenge the assertion made in one of your D-Day pieces that there are no just wars or noble causes to die for (“What would you die for?” Cover, June 7). Anyone who thinks that evil was extinguished in 1945 obviously does not follow the news. In our time, children have their limbs hacked off by laughing militiamen, and they are forced to participate in the killing of their own parents. Women are gang-raped and their

husbands and sons murdered by the truckload. The perpetrators of these acts are bad, bad people. Too often, the only way of stopping them is to kill them, or at least credibly threaten to do so. This is the job of honourable soldiers. They protect those who cannot protect themselves. To do that, they must be able to fight well and, yes, die if it comes to that. I would not consider such a death a stupid or pointless one.

Maj. Raymond Farrell, Ottawa

Your magazine brought out a flood of emotion that is difficult to describe as I saw my dad’s face in a photo of the troops about to disembark from their D-Day landing craft (“When memory fades to black,” Cover, June 7). I remember my dad, Fred (Buck) Johnson, saying that they got rid of those bikes, seen in the same photo, as soon as they hit the water and were being shot at. I felt like a little kid seeing my dad this way and I told everyone I could of how proud I was of him and repeated as much of his stories as I could remember. This was the first time I had seen this picture, letting me glimpse my father as a young man before I was born.

John Johnson, Hamilton

In his otherwise excellent article “When memory fades to black,” Rudyard Griffiths describes the “execution” of Canadian troops by SS Gen. Kurt Meyer. These Canadian troops were unarmed prisoners of war who were interrogated and then shot on Meyer’s order. They were murdered, not executed. In my former hometown of Apeldoorn, Holland, American flyers were hauled out of their cells, shot and their bodies placed on street corners with a sign on their chest reading “Terrorist.” They also were murdered, not executed. Let us not minimize these and other atrocities by using imprecise language— it diminishes the heroism of the troops who saved the lives of millions, including mine. J.N. Besier, Duncan, B.C.

Beautiful Newfoundland

What wonderful Canadians, but what a shame that so many must leave to find employment on the mainland (“Goin’ down the road,” Ten Lost Years, June 14). My wife and I racked up 2,900 km three years ago travelling throughout Newfoundland. We were astounded by the breathtaking beauty of

this great land. Of course, its finest resource is the people—beyond friendly, they are cheerful, informative and helpful. However, we were saddened to learn that to earn a decent living they had to travel, in some cases to western Canada, for employment. One young man who worked at the Viking village in L’Anse aux Meadows said his dad, who was working in Calgary, crossed off the days on the calendar to when he could return. What a pity.

Alan Fyke, Kingston, Ont.

Prisoner treatment

Of all the arguments and excuses put forth in your letters section in favour of the war in Iraq, and now the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, surely there can be none more sickening than the idea that the torture of prisoners by U.S. soldiers is somehow made tolerable simply because it’s “a very far cry from what Saddam did at the same place” (“Relativity of torture,” The Mail, June 14). Since this war was, among other things, supposed to put an end to this kind of cruelty in Iraq, surely it isn’t unreasonable to demand a somewhat higher standard of behaviour from the occupying forces?

You brought out a flood of emotion that is difficult to describe as I saw my dad's face in a photo of the D-Day troops

Peter Landers, Haileybury, Ont.

Barbara Amiel just does not get it. In describing the treatment of Abu Ghraib prisoners by American military guards, she states, “Appalling though it is, the odd rape or simulated electrocution doesn’t cut much mustard in comparison with methods the terrorists use on their prisoners” (“Taming the house cat,” Column, June 14). Since when is it acceptable to dehumanize, rape and torture prisoners? The lesson espoused by Amiel and her cohorts: as long as the guards are not beheading prisoners, anything goes. She and her fellow neo-con apologists disgust me with their morality of convenience when they fail to speak out against injustice, wherever it may occur, by whoever perpetrates it.

Reg Sackmann, Toronto

Determined youth

Reading the special report about the 25 young people chosen from a group of 400 nominees was a real joy (“The best and the brightest,” May 24). My hope is that parents of young students as well as their teachers will use that report to inspire others. The common characteristics described in the profiles of each person are determination and selflessness. They also conveyed the joy they felt in following their interests and abilities. Please continue to present profiles of Canada’s young people who are already achieving so much and who will continue to have such a positive effect on not only the lives of Canadians, but worldwide.

Nancy Rogers, Hamilton