MAIL BAG

January 16 2006

MAIL BAG

January 16 2006

MAIL BAG

'When the U.S. ambassador warns him that criticizing America is a foolish campaign strategy, Martin might want to listen politely.'

On the campaign trail

While I don’t believe that we should bend over backwards to please our neighbours to the south, I think that they do deserve our respect whether they are one of our largest trading partners or not (“Damn Americans,” National, Dec. 26). Can we risk reducing Canada-U.S. relations to schoolyard bickering? I would suggest to Paul Martin that when American ambassador to Canada David Wilkins warns him that criticizing the U.S. is a foolish campaign strategy, perhaps Martin might want to listen politely.

Matthew Brown, Edmonton

Paul Martin may be correct in assuming that his badmouthing of the United States will gain him and his party the votes of a marginal few who make last-minute electoral decisions based on negative stereotypes of the U.S., but I sincerely hope not. For in doing so, he separates himself from the core decency Canadians are widely respected for on this side of the border. He may honestly disagree with us on the war in Iraq. Yet we really do believe that Iraqis deserve a chance to have the first government in the Arab world that reflects the will of its people, and that democracy in Iraq will further global security. As for the Kyoto accord, perhaps we can all take a second look at climate history and planetary realities and come to a reasoned approach that extracts politics and inserts reasoning to achieve a workable compromise. Ron Goodden, Atlanta

After listening to political rhetoric for 40 minutes and not hearing a question answered in a straightforward manner by any of the party leaders, I turned the debate off (“Peace on earth?” National, Dec. 26). Politicians should remember a simple question only requires a simple answer. Jim Kennedy, Whistler, B.C.

Finally, someone in the media has exposed Paul Martin for the fraud he is (“He’s unbelievable,” Dec. 19). Paul Wells’ article on Martin’s “gaseous emissions” should be required reading for every Canadian voter. They would learn how Martin and the Liberals twist everything, right or wrong, good or bad, true or false, to make themselves look great. Canadians just don't realize how much they’ve been duped. John MacEachern, Schömberg, Ont.

The last time people thought it was time for a change we got stuck with eight years of Brian Mulroney. Harper’s Tories are not the Tories of Leslie Frost or John Robarts, they are Bushtype Conservatives. Don’t be fooled. A vote for the Tories, who are not a truly national party, will be a vote for the Bloc, and that takes us closer to a constitutional crisis and the disintegration of the Canada we know. I am reminded of that wonderful line from The Lion in Winter: “What’s the point in asking if the air’s any good when it’s the only thing to breathe?” Look at the Liberals’ record— eight consecutive budget surpluses, the best record of any G8 country, and we are paying down the national debt. So voters are ticked with the Liberals right now. I hope they get over their destructive angst before the vote on January 23 or we will truly be in deep doo-doo. John Birch, Hamilton

I am dumbfounded that support for the Liberal party stayed as high as it did for so long (“Christmas comes early,” National, Dec. 26). Do Canadians not realize the damage the Liberals have done? As a committed federalist, I can only shake my head in disbelief that Canadians, including the thousands who made the pilgrimage to Montreal in 1995 and who swore their love for Quebec, are now prepared to vote again for the same Liberals who botched the referendum campaign. After such a close call, the Liberal solution was to wage a superficial strategy to promote Canada, which only served to enrich a handful of Liberal cronies at taxpayers’ expense and to repulse the vast majority of Quebecers. There is a saying that those who do not learn from the lessons of history are doomed to repeat the same mistakes. We must ask ourselves: can Canada survive yet another Liberal government? If Canadians in other provinces vote for the Liberals again, they will be sending a message to Quebecers that the rest of Canada condones bribery, corruption and lying. Wasyl Wysoczanskyj, St. Laurent, Que.

Linda Frum’s Q & A with Liberal candidate Deborah Coyne (Interview, Dec. 19) reveals all we ever need to know about the Liberal party mentality. First Coyne denies any Liberal culpability in the sponsorship scandal and says “the party itself has been exonerated.” It has not. Then she continues, “Any monies that were paid to the Liberal party, it is my understanding they have been fully paid back.” And that’s it: case closed. We stole it, we returned it. No apologies, no indication that Liberal larceny should mean prison time. Membership does have its privileges. Vic Stecyk, Richmond Hill, Ont.

'Canadian media coverage has tried to spin Haiti into some kind of basket-case country by using racist stereotypes and proposing that what is needed is more of our help/

Look back in anger In your Dec. 26 double issue, I found the section “Newsmakers 2005” irritating: fragments of information under a bewildering array of pictures and photos make for fractured reading that gives no pleasure and does not really inform. Why such bite-sized treatment of too many so-called newsmakers? Do I really want to know who were the “Rats” or “Winners” or “Losers”? I especially do not care about the “Wardrobe Malfunctions.” I do appreciate tongue-in-cheek items, but if all the text is written in this same style, the approach loses its appeal. I have always seen Maclean’s as a magazine that gives solid information, and food for thought. Newsmakers gave me nothing but a headache. Maria Virjee, Ottawa

Surely you have to be kidding in the selection of your list of interesting candidates for 2005. Pope Benedict (“Rookies with baggage”)? Since becoming the Pope, he has been Benedict the Invisible. I am not Roman Catholic or even religious, yet Pope John Paul II had an appeal that transcended all religious beliefs. Still, I agreed with your choice of young hockey star Sidney Crosby (“Entrances of the year”). He was the best possible selection from your list.

Dave White, Monkland, Ont.

Once again you celebrated the noisy and banal. Why wasn’t there any mention of Bob Hunter, first president of Greenpeace, winner of the Governor General’s award for literature and fighter for a saner, cleaner ecofriendly world? Or Paul Watson. He’s still alive and fighting to save the whales. Maclean’s has totally ignored the warriors who are trying to save the planet in spite of a lack of support from those who will eventually destroy it. Linda Weinberg, Anmore, B.C.

In particular, I take exception to a “Rookies” item. You say that new German chancellor Angela Merkel formed a coalition including “just about everyone except the Anarchist Clown Party.” This is a very unsophisticated remark. Denigrating German politics, even in jest, is a disservice to your readers and a slap in the face to people of German origin.

Oh, and except at the Oktoberfest, you will be hard-pressed to find people in lederhosen. This is the 21st century: we wear jeans, just like you. Mayken Brünings, Vincennes, France

Anchor away It was with a tear in my eye that I read Peter Mansbridge’s last Maclean’s column (“Act 2— and a final curtain,” Dec. 26). I always went straight to Mansbridge as the first order of business upon receiving your fine magazine. I admired his writing style; I admired his opinions; and I admired his down-to-earth approach. He will be greatly be missed, and not just because he is a fellow westerner. Louis G. Mandin, Sherwood Park, Alta.

AIDS and Africa

I realize that I am late in responding but it took me a while after reading your story on AIDS prevention to gather my thoughts (“How not to stop AIDS,” World, Dec. 12). I was unimpressed with the narrow-minded angle of the article. I don’t deny that prevention is one of the most important tools available to curb the HIV pandemic, but denying lifesaving treatment to millions of Africans is simply a continuation of the world’s inclination to ignore the appalling state of African societies ravaged by HIV/AIDS. If we do not continue to advocate for increased availability of antiretroviral drug treatment for Africans, the number of orphans and households headed by children will continue to rise at an alarming rate. If all of the people currently infected with HIV are allowed to die, then the already chaotic structure of society in many African countries will become even worse. For once, let’s stand up for African people and help bring the afflicted the humane ARV drug treatment they need and deserve.

Milvi Tiislar, Toronto

Bees knew it

So, a Caltech professor has solved the mystery of bee flight. C’mon (“Birds do it, bees do it,” Dec. 12). Anyone who knew the least thing about lift, drag, airspeed and angles of attack knew perfectly well at least 65 years ago that the phenomenon of bee flight simply had to involve precise, millisecond rotation of the bee’s wing on its lateral axis. The wing has to rotate, rise and advance at a low-drag, zero-lift angle, then instantaneously assume a high-lift angle for the following down stroke, thereby simultaneously lifting and propelling the bee forward. The hum is the tipoff to the frequency at which this cycle happens, probably 20 to 50 times per second. The bee is merely one of innumerable creatures that use this method to fly, from gnats to condors. For this “discovery” some scientist was paid money? Wow.

Frank Gue, Burlington, Ont.

Haiti from another angle

It was curious that Tony Keller’s article on Haiti (“Three smarter ways to save the world,” World, Dec. 19), didn’t mention the case of Amnesty International prisoner of conscience Rev. Father Gerard Jean-Juste. Father JeanJuste is the leading presidential candidate for the Fanmi Lavalas party, and is considered by

many to be the most popular politician in Haiti. Sadly, Canadian media coverage has tried to spin Haiti into some type of basketcase country using racist stereotypes and proposing that what is needed is more Canadian help. Nowhere is there a discussion of the fact that Canada has already helped Haiti too much: by overthrowing the country’s president; recognizing the current regime; and overseeing the arming and training of the feared Haitian National Police, a force largely responsible for the sharply deteriorating human rights situation in the country since February 2004Kole Kilibarda, Toronto

'Phillips has written several books, and received the Order of Canada and an honorary doctorate from the University of Waterloo. Obviously, more than a few people respect his accomplishments.'

A storm of protest

I found the article questioning the credibility of Environment Canada’s senior climatologist David Phillips (“Canada’s ‘Chicken Little,’ ” Science, Dec. 19) very unfair. Phillips has written several books, and received the Order of Canada and an honorary doctorate from the University of Waterloo, among other recognitions. Obviously, more than a few people respect his accomplishments. Perhaps some research on the scientific credentials of the self-proclaimed experts who felt it was their duty to criticize him would have been in order. In my opinion, Maclean’s credibility has fallen below that of Phillips’s detractors and that is really saying something.

Michael Eby, Victoria

Interesting that your author only quotes folks who disagree with climate change in the David Phillips article. It is inarguable that the vast majority of credible scientific opinion leaves very little doubt about the reality of climate change. Even the arch conservatives at the Pentagon are quite alarmed at the possible consequences. And one can hardly doubt that the Fraser Institute might have an agenda that is not overly concerned with the environment.

Patrick Pender, Richmond, B.C.

First, Phillips earned an M.A. in geography, not a B.A. Second, the daily, monthly and seasonal weather forecasts are products of Environment Canada, not David Phillips. As your article clearly states, Phillips is a climatologist, not a forecaster. Third, the criticisms of Phillips by other professionals are wholly unfortunate. It is disappointing that they chose to publicly criticize the distinguished achievements of a 2001 recipient of the Order of Canada—our country’s highest honour. Janet Brotton, North York, Ont.

Withering on the vine

Thank you for your excellent article on Canada’s embarrassing performance at the World Trade Organization talks (“A raw deal,” Business, Dec. 19). However, the writer missed a couple of key details that might help explain why Canada, “the most trade dependent country among the G8 industrialized nations,” won’t eliminate agricultural tariffs. Eastern Canada has 181 seats in the House of Commons, is the power base for the Liberal party, and has an agriculture industry that is heavily and comfortably reliant on the protected supply management sector (dairy, eggs and poultry). The Prairie provinces, on the other hand, send only 56 MPs to Ottawa and have an agriculture industry that is based on exports of 80 per cent of their grains, oilseeds and beef. Consequently, our federal government is making agricultural trade decisions that are in the best interests of Eastern Canadian farmers but sacrifice the Western producers who wither on the vine while competing unsuccessfully against U.S. and E.U. agricultural subsidy war chests. If Canada’s lack of co-operation—or recognition—at the Doha round of talks contributes to their failure, it will not only continue to

further improverish disadvantaged Third World farmers but Western Canadian farmers as well. But then again, in the opinion of the federal Liberals, is there really much difference?

Bert Lowry, Neepawa, Man.

In the eye of the beholder

I’m writing in response to Danylo Hawaleshka’s article about body dysmorphic disorder (“I hate my legs,” Health, Dec. 19). I know it’s not wise to self-diagnose, but as I read the list of symptoms, including an addiction to plastic surgery and, in extreme cases, self-mutilation, it was evident that this story was talking about people like me. I have lost hours of my life staring into a mirror repulsed by my reflection and wishing that all of my flaws would just disappear. I am 32 and have struggled with this feeling of self-loathing since early childhood. When I look at other people, I find them either beautiful or at least pleasant to look at. When I see my own reflection, I become very upset and desperately try to find an aspect of my physical appearance that I can be happy with. I have yet to discover even one. What motivated me to write to you is the fact that knowing is half the battle. Your article was precise and informative, and I feel certain that I’m finally on the right track to getting not only some insight, but potentially some help. Heather Caldwell, Toronto