MAIL BAG

MAIL BAG

April 3 2006
MAIL BAG

MAIL BAG

April 3 2006

MAIL BAG

'There has never been an attempted justification by the political leadership, past or present, as to what the exit strategy is, or how our military being in Kandahar is in our national interest'

Canucks in Kandahar

Re: “Canada in Combat” (Cover, March 20). Why is the government endangering the lives of my fellow countrymen in the military by sending them into Afghanistan without a parliamentary debate? There has not even been an attempted justification by the political leadership, past or present, as to what the objectives are, what the exit strategy is, and how the presence of Canada’s military in Kandahar is in our national interest. Mr. Harper should explain who precisely we are fighting, why, and what a victory will look like. John Volkovskis, Gabriola Island, B.C.

Most interesting to see the new modus operandi of Macleans: appeal to both sides of an issue. The editorial package dealing with the deployment of Canadian troops pumped the adrenalin of cover-watchers with its “Prepare to bury your dead” headline while the editorial was supportive of our troops’ mission. Nice juxtaposition.

Franklin Loehde, Edmonton

My son is one of those young soldiers in Kandahar, currently serving in the rural communities where there are threats of insurgency. I live with enough fear and concern for my son’s safety without having my heart ripped out by a sensationalistic magazine cover. Kerry Townson, Waterloo, Ont.

I very much enjoyed and endorse your expressions of support for our current role in Afghanistan (“This is the worst possible time to go soft on Afghanistan,” March 20 ). In the continuing attempt to enlighten the Canadian public, it is probably worthwhile to correct a couple of facts. While it was anticipated that our Canadian contingent in Kandahar would be operating under NATO leadership starting in February of this year, the delayed deployment of some other NATO members’ promised forces has resulted in NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander (SACEUR) declining to take over the mission in southern Afghanistan from the U.S. It is hoped that this delayed change of command will occur by October. As a result, our contingent in Kandahar currently operates as part of the U.S.-led Operation Enduring Freedom. Second, you indicated that “most of America’s front-line combat troops [in Afghanistan] have been reassigned to Iraq.” In fact, this is not the case. The U.S. has 20,000 troops in Afghanistan and is reduc-

ing its commitment over the next year to 16,500. So we are not, as is so often suggested, “taking over from the Americans.” However, we are seriously playing our role and paying our dues in the war on terror and the rebuilding of Afghanistan.

Lewis MacKenzie, major-general (retired), Bracebridge, Ont.

Your editorial on Afghanistan had a serious omission. If the U.S. had not plunged erroneously into an unnecessary war in Iraq before finishing the job in Afghanistan, there may have been no need for Canadian troops. Ross Smyth, Montreal

By making his first trip out of Canada to the UN, Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay has signalled clearly that we will continue to play an important role in the world through the UN. Canadians closely identify themselves with peacekeeping, yet many would be surprised to know that, in terms of contribution of troops to UN peacekeeping missions, Canada now stands at number 32. Perhaps MacKay’s government will look to improve this standing and to make innovative contributions to UN management reform. Kathryn White, Executive Director,

United Nations Association in Canada, Ottawa

The high cost of coal

Thank you for your article “Addicted to blood coal” (Business, March 20). It’s a global story. West Virginia, Nova Scotia, China, Mexico, Colombia.. .cave-ins, explosions, death squads.

Mine owners and utility companies seem quite prepared to take power at any price, as long as that price is paid in displaced communities and in the bodies of workers. No wonder they closed our own mines. We were Westray’d out of the cost-benefit analysis. Isn’t it time everybody used the same balance sheet? Keith Simmonds, Castlegar, B.C.

As a native of Colombia, I am glad Macleans has raised a human rights violation that not only is linked to mining but also to most of the industrial sectors there. I am heartened that Canadians such as Garry Leech are demanding the mining companies stop doing business with suppliers that have been involved in human rights violations. Many have kept silent on a human tragedy that in Colombia leaves roughly 30,000 innocents dead annually, not to mention the millions who have been violently displaced from their lands. Armando Sanchez, Cambridge, Ont.

Building bridges

Re: “Everybody’s Baby” (National, Mar. 20). I trust that John Crosbie cleared his calendar so he could attend the recognition event for Sheila Copps.

Lome Buhr, Edmonton

Backroom powerhouse

“Harper’s Eleven” (Cover, Mar. 13) should be an even dozen. Ray Novak, Mr. Harper’s aide for four years, has the PM’s ear on any topic at almost any time. And Novak is like Mr. Harper: underrated and overachieving. He holds more sway than any MP and is timetested throughout all of Mr. Harper’s battles. Gordon Elliott, Calgary

Animal rights vs. human wrongs

Re: “Saving animals, they hunt humans” (Science, March 20). Given writer Gloria Kim’s unequivocal reinforcement of researcher Ed Walsh’s whiny diatribe, one would think that this vivisector sat around petting the little kitties and giving them catnip. Nothing could be further from the truth. Walsh wasn’t a victim in this case, the cats were.

Dennis Carlson, Fort Erie, Ont.

Gloria Kim’s piece did nothing to engender any sort of reasoned debate about the necessity of animal experimentation or vivisection. I would like to point out that there are many anti-vivisection groups that do not promote the use of threats or violence but

'Mr. Playboy, Hugh Hefner, has indeed lived out a male fantasy—that of a 17-year-old. His condition is known as arrested development.'

who seek to eradicate any need for the use of animals in research by promoting safer and more humane research methodologies. Many of the experiments that have been conducted on animals in the name of science are unnecessary and unbelievably cruel.

Gilbert Tamlin, Bristol, England

Hef at 80

Hugh Hefner at nearly 80 (“Happy Birthday Mr. Playboy,” Media, March 20) is as creepily disgusting as Michael Jackson is, each in his own way. As my kids used to say—yuck. Joanne Reaume-Efigleby, Brantford, Ont.

Imagine what sort of civilization we would have if all men emulated Hef, and all women tried to be Cosmo girls. Hef has indeed lived out a male fantasy—that of a 17-year-old. His condition is known as arrested development. Dave W. Reesor, Calgary

The big-band king

Thank you for the profile of Mart Kenney by his grandson, Jason Kenney. Growing up on the 7th Concession of Vaughan Township (now the city of Vaughan, Ont.) in the 1950s and 60s, I lived down the road from Mart Kenney’s Ranch, which was a popular dance hall for many, including my parents and their friends. It is interesting to note that, like his grandson, Mart was also political. He was a staunch supporter of Pierre Trudeau and an active Liberal. In 1968 he sought the federal nomination in the local riding but was defeated by Barney Danson.

Cathie Watson, New Glasgow, N.S.

No more Mr. Mastercraft

Congratulations Maclean’sl I see your smear campaign has succeeded in getting the Canadian Tire Guy fired. Way to go! That piece of heavy-hitting journalism written by the brilliant John Infini (“What a tool,” Oct. 31,2005) really must have you guys popping the champagne corks in the office today. Political corruption, Canadian soldiers at war, tuition hikes...bah! Who cares? Now getting people terminated, and taking a nice paycheque out of some poor family man’s pocket—that, my friend, is good journalism.

James Rae, Toronto

Maybe Canadian Tire should have kept the poor guy employed—then maybe I could have found out what kind of pump is in the Simoniz 2600 psi gas pressure washer. No one at the local store seems to know. I say bring Ted back, no matter how corny he is.

Fred Oake, Calgary

Remembering the Alamo

Mark Steyn (“We shall fight them at the water cooler,” March 20), quotes from Robert Greene’s book The 33 Strategies of War, saying: “The battle became a rallying cry— ‘Remember the Alamo!’—and an inspired American force under Sam Houston finally defeated the Mexicans for good.” However, Sam Houston commanded a force of people primarily from Mexico who considered themselves citizens of the Republic of Texas, not Americans. The Mexicans weren’t defeated “for good” until the U.S. army, under Gen. Winfield Scott, took Mexico City in 1847,11 years later.

Jacqueline Davis, San Antonio, Texas

Sad, but so what?

As a mother of three daughters, I was moved to tears by your obituary of Shauna Ann Stuewe (“The End,” March 20). She was obviously a very special young lady and I feel for her family, but the question must be asked, why profile her in Maclean’s?

Catherine Fraser, Calgary

Surely there were more worthy people to profile than an American Christian cheerleader? All of Europe, South America, Asia, etc., and this was the one you chose? Canadians are from all parts of the world. Let us hear more of their stories and the countries they come from.

Merike Kalm, Minden, Ont.