MAIL BAG

December 4 2006

MAIL BAG

December 4 2006

MAIL BAG

‘By standing for everything, the public has diminished the impact of a standing ovation’

IGGY’S RESTLESS QUEST

THE MORE I READ and hear about Michael Ignatieff, the more it looks to me that his quest for the leadership of the Liberal party and, perhaps, the country, is all about him and not about service to Canada (“Are you good enough for Michael Ignatieff?” Cover, Nov. 20). His quest appears to be the next step on a restless journey for self-fulfillment. There is no doubt that a big ego is helpful when seeking political leadership, but one would hope that some motive, other than self-actualization, is driving would-be leaders.

Birte Ertmann, Nepean, Ont.

UNFORTUNATELY FOR IGNATIEFF, along with his being an intellectual comes an air of superiority and aloofness. I cannot imagine the average Canadian ever being able to relate to this individual. Another of Ignatieff’s downfalls could be his foot-in-mouth disease, as demonstrated by his recent labelling of the Jews as war criminals for their actions in Lebanon and the remark about Quebec being a nation. The transition from being very much an individualist to the leader of a country may also throw a major curve at him. Maybe Canada is just the wrong country for Ignatieff to have his vast abilities appreciated. We tend to like our politicians more low-key.

Larry Comean, Ottawa

COMPARING IGNATIEFF to former U.S. president Bill Clinton does not wash. Clinton understands policy clearly and expresses it in precise language. He knows how to connect. I would think that a man like Ignatieff, who spent the past 30 years outside the country, would modestly re-enter and learn and not look for a coronation. Liberal delegates should be careful and thoughtful before choosing their new leader.

Craig Posner, Winnipeg

THE QUESTION SHOULD BE, is Michael Ignatieff good enough for Canada? For 30 years we were not good enough for him to work and live here and help support our economy. Why should we even consider him as a future prime minister? He should go back to the U.S. or England where his policies are more in line with George W. Bush’s and Tony Blair’s. I am sure there are many faithful Canadians who can do the job.

Claire M. Schmidt, Windsor, Ont.

NINE PAGES OF MICHAEL IGNATIEFF was over the top. You evidently support this carpetbagger’s run at the leadership. I have to say that many non-partisan readers, like me, couldn’t care less. Nevertheless, your credibility was restored when I reached The End. As an old soldier, your pictorial tribute to the 42 young Canadians who have sadly given their lives in Afghanistan touched me deeply and reminded me that, as we continue to huff and puff about politicos, your generally excellent magazine brought home the things that really matter—the sacrifice of young Canadian lives in what they regarded as a just and justifiable cause.

Barrie Wall, Gibsons, B.C.

GAMES CHILDREN PLAY

AS A DAYCARE PROVIDER who has worked with children over the past 11 years, I can wholeheartedly relate to Cynthia Reynolds’ article about the disappearance of once classic games (“Dopes with a rope,” Home, Nov. 6). I have made a choice to have no video games, computer games or electronic toys in my home for the children to use. Most parents are surprised by this, but once I explain both my desire to have the children entertain themselves and the future benefits this has, many understand. Some do not. It is sad to realize that many children do not even know that you can make a kind of Play-Doh at home or have a great time running around the backyard with a ball. Entertaining children when they are more than capable of entertaining themselves is a dangerous path with many long-term consequences.

Nicole Cash, Wee Care Dayhome, Strathmore, Alta.

WHEN WE TAKE OUR CHILDREN to an institution for care, we must realize that they will follow instructions all day long. They are told when they can play outside, when it’s puzzle time, when it’s washroom time, when it’s snack time. There is no such thing as responding to a child’s individual needs. When children are directed in all aspects of their day, is it any wonder they are ill-equipped to deal with free time when it comes their way? Lori Klassen, Winnipeg

STARVED FOR OIL

AS A NEOPHYTE in the geopolitics of energy, I found Annette Hester’s piece (“Mexico’s energy crisis has arrived,” Business, Nov. 13) awakening. Do we fully appreciate the lessons we could learn from Mexico’s experience, the potential pressure that could be put on Canada by our continental trade partners, or the consequences on gasoline prices, regional economic balances and labour demands? Indeed, Mexico’s energy crisis would have an impact on Canada’s economic, social and environmental policies, both domestic and foreign. The author’s analysis is well put. It behooves our nation’s leaders at all government levels to wake up and take action now.

Dr. Rey D. Pagtakhan, East St. Paul, Man.

KEEPING YOUR SEAT

I COULDN’T AGREE MORE that the standing ovation has lost its original purpose (“Everybody please sit down,” Stage, Nov. 13). My parents taught me that a standing-0 should be reserved for a superlative performance, the quality of which one hasn’t had the good fortune to see before and likely won’t again. I can’t count the number of theatre and music events where I’ve felt obligated to stand because those around me have, whether the performance has been sub-par, average, or even pretty good (I often resist and just stay in my seat). By standing for everything, the public has diminished the impact of a standing ovation. It is a reflection of how we’ve come to accept and encourage mediocrity! I applaud your article.

Bill Petch, Belleville, Ont.

ADAM, EVE AND DINOSAURS

I ENJOYED BRIAN BETHUNE’S ARTICLE on the evolution vs. creation battle in the U.S. (“Are you with us or against us?” Faith, Nov. 13). One can understand prominent biologist and author Richard Dawkins’s zeal in promoting the scientific view on this issue. After all, a political leader who, as one wag put it, believes that Adam and Eve rode to church on a dinosaur hardly inspires confidence, given the pressing scientific and technological challenges facing mankind. I would differ with Dawkins on one point. I can accept that equally prominent geneticist Francis Collins believes in God. However, speculating on who “kick-started the universe 14 billion years ago” is a bit like counting the proverbial angels on the head of a pin. The fact is it happened, and Collins understands and accepts the scientific evidence for evolution. By way of contrast, intelligent design (a creationist tyrannosaur in a trilobite’s clothing) is not science; it is religious dogma. The fact that half of Americans believe in strict Biblical creationism is an unsettling statistic.

Gordon Kosakoski, Kamloops, B.C.

IN VIEW OF the massive evidence supporting evolution, the followers of creationism and intelligent design should perhaps come to terms with reality, and claim that God created evolution too.

Lochan Bakshi, Edmonton

I AM NOT SURPRISED that once again the mainstream media has gone out of its way to bash creationists. Bethune mentioned the fact that there is a large percentage of the population who do not wholeheartedly believe in evolution, but he did not mention why these people believe what they believe. In fact, I have yet to see one article even remotely discuss any of the arguments against evolution. Maybe if Bethune had researched both sides of the debate, his article wouldn’t be so one-sided.

Aaron Krafczyk, Fort St.John, B.C.

RICHARD DAWKINS MAKES a very logical step-by-argument, leaving the creationists to fill in their dismissal of obvious facts and logic by using faith. By calling this failure faith, they have tried to make it into a positive attribute. If we naturally evolved, each of us is a living miracle. If we were created, it was a botched job. I can think of quite a few improvements in our intelligent design— we could do without suffering of children, and cancer, just for a start.

Dr. John Cocker, Stouffville, Ont.

IN THE 21ST CENTURY, due to the progressive growth of our human animal consciousness, memory and intelligence of love, compassion, co-operation and understanding, Abraham’s god is obsolete and stunting to our future progress with his demands for us to fear him, adore him and obey him with unquestioning blind faith or burn forever alive in his vengeful barbaric hell. Bethune never once mentioned the word brainwashing, but it is evil for parents to brainwash their children into believing in Judaism, Christianity or Islam when they could simply set a good example and let them form their own beliefs, characters and personalities.

‘Like it or not, the existence of any civil society depends on the judicious use of force’

Cy Poissant, Blairmore, Alta.

INVESTING IN UNIVERSITY

THE QUESTION YOU POSE about the economic value of a university education (“Should everyone go to university?” Nov. 13) has an obvious answer. No, not everyone is suited for a university education. However, to imply that a degree in the humanities is a waste of time because a science degree earns more income misses the point. Grade school teaches us the basics. In secondary school, we learn how to learn because we will spend the rest of our lives learning. University teaches us how to think because critical thinking is necessary for a democracy to function in a world full of misleading advertising and sleazy politicians. I was told a university degree is worthwhile even if I didn’t earn a nickel more. That is as true today as it was more than 30 years ago when I graduated.

Gerold Becker, Thunder Bay, Ont.

WHEN I HAVE a hard time finding an electrician to do installations at my school and hear stats indicating that more plumbers make in excess of $200,000 than lawyers per capita, I wonder if you’re missing something. Perhaps a ranking of apprenticeships and skilled trades is in the works?

Mark Robinson, Principal,

W.C. Eaket Secondary School, Blind River, Ont.

‘JUDICIOUS5 FORCE

A COUPLE OF WEEKS AGO, with almost perverse pleasure, the CBC repeatedly made the point that only half of Canadians support Canada’s involvement in Afghanistan. (Support is even less in Quebec, it said.) In contrast, Sean Maloney presents us with wellthought-out reasons for our being there (“The exit strategy,” National, Nov. 13). While the CBC tries to generate doubt about our chances for success, without explanation of what is meant by the word, Maloney presents the issue in a way that can be debated. It seems apparent to me that Canadians and other NATO forces have already been highly successful in Afghanistan. If we pull out prematurely and turn the country back over to the Taliban, we will likely soon find ourselves back where we were prior to 9/11. Like it or not, the existence of any civil society depends on the judicious use of force. Just try abolishing the RCMP and see what happens in our civilized country.

Fred Musial, Whitehorse

IN PASSING

Milton Friedman, 94, economist. His theory on inflation changed the world’s monetary policies. He argued that by tightly controlling the money supply, inflation could be kept down, allowing producers to plan better and to produce more efficiently. Initially adopted by Washington, this became orthodoxy throughout the West.

Robert Altman, 8l, filmmaker who started by directing episodes of TV series such as Bonanza. He was celebrated in 1975 for his overlapping storylines in Nashville. He also made the quirky comedies MASH (1970) and The Player (1992).