MAIL BAG

June 5 2006

MAIL BAG

June 5 2006

MAIL BAG

‘You jumped to incite hatred against Russia. That is really alarming.*

THE NEW RUSSIA

I AM A RUSSIAN-born permanent resident of Canada and I want to know why your cover line read “Russia goes to hell” (Cover, May 22)? Michael Petrou’s article by no means deserves such a grand title. It is just the usual assortment of so-called facts and stories of the kind that have been published in the U.S. for the past two years. What is really alarming is the readiness with which you jumped at the chance to incite hatred toward Russia—and Russians.

You may not want to know it, but the old Cold War started mainly because of bad politicking and misinterpretation on both sides. Playing the same game today is, at the very least, grossly irresponsible.

Dr. Oleg A. Semenikhin, London, Ont.

CONGRATULATIONS for publishing an excellent article. It provides an unbiased and detailed overview of the present political and economic situation in Russia. Also, it is an eyeopener for the Canadian public on the present problems faced by Russia’s neighbouring countries, especially Western-oriented, post-revolutionary Ukraine and Georgia. For over 300 years, these countries have been strategically important for Russia as geopolitical, economic and industrial sources. Vladimir Lenin, shortly after the Russian Revolution of 1917, stated that Soviet power is possible only with the unity of Russian and Ukrainian proletariats. Therefore, history is currently repeating itself. While reading this article, I thought about the 1937 book by

Russian philosopher Nikolai Berdiaev, The Origin of Russian Communism. He implied that no matter the change in form of the autocratic Russian state, it does not change its despotic nature. Obviously, the ideas of Russian chauvinism still live in the minds of historically incorrect fanatics.

Stepan Bilynskyy, Thunder Bay, Ont.

THE INTRODUCTION to your story begins, “A faltering economy, stifled freedoms, scared neighbours, global clout and a threat to start an arms race.” If it hadn’t been for the picture of Vladimir Putin, I would have expected an article about the U.S.

Kevin Byrne, Hanna, Alta.

Petrou writes that the U.S. and its allies “are battling an opponent against whom they must prevail, if democracy is to succeed in Europe and Central Asia.” What opponent is that? Putin? And if Putin is the enemy, how will the U.S. and NATO know they have prevailed against him? When all the countries surrounding Russia are members of NATO? When Russia agrees to sell gas to Europe at subsidized Soviet prices? What does it mean for “democracy to succeed” in Europe and Central Asia? How will we know when it does? From 1949 to 1989 we were told that the purpose of NATO was to prevent the U.S.S.R. from using its military might to conquer the world. Is the purpose of NATO now to prevent Russia from projecting power to Georgia and Ukraine and to compel Russia to invite U.S. investors to take over its gas and oil industry?

Mark Marshall, Toronto

THE RITALIN WAR

DANYLO HAWALESHKA’S article about Danielle Lavigueur and her son Gabriel (“A new war over Ritalin,” Health, May 15) has more to do with how controversial Scientology is than with how dangerous Ritalin is. As a father of three and a man who is concerned about the future of our kids, I have talked with thousands of parents about the very same thing this article should be focused on—the over-drugging of our kids with these dangerous psychotropic drugs and the coercion used to make the kids take them. I have met parents and relatives of suicide victims using these dangerous drugs, and countless others who have experienced severe side

‘ADHD is a label we have put on kids who don't sit still and do their homework’

effects, including permanent brain damage. Nobody cared what my religion was and I didn’t care what their religion was. All I cared about was that parents were getting educated about the truth of what these drugs do to their kids.

Tom Beattie, Fredericksburg, Va.

THANKS VERY MUCH for presenting an interesting article on the war against the “legal” drugging of school kids. First off, I do not share the opinion that all drugs are bad and that we should never use any drug. However, to use mind-altering drugs on schoolchildren is quite another matter. When one really looks into this issue of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, one finds that there is no real

medical evidence that this disease actually exists. What we do have is a label put on kids who don’t sit still and do their homework. Has this changed over the past 100 years? Hardly! Now add a poor diet and sugary soft drinks. Why would we take for granted the opinion from some person in a white coat, advocating putting our kids on drugs rather than feeding them better? Simple. We’ve been bamboozled into believing that control of our kids is just a pill away.

Dr. Joel Parker, Vancouver

WAKE UP, MAGGIE

AS A FELLOW MEMBER of the bipolar disease society, I want to thank you for publishing Anne Kingston’s story about Margaret Tru-

PHOTOGRAPH BY JONATHAN HAYWARD

deau (Interview, May 22). I was diagnosed in 1986, and I am pleased to say that I have been symptom-free for the past 20 years. The more positive publicity this disease receives in the press, the more the public will understand the complexity and the stigma associated with it.

Linda Morris, Ottawa

“I’VE HAD TO REALIZE I’m not special” is Margaret Trudeau’s quote emblazoned across the cover of your magazine. If she finally realizes it, why doesn’t Macleans? With all of the rich characters who call this country home, surely you could have found a fresh face—a vital new mind—to interview. Trudeaumania is over. Move on.

Jeff Dewsbury, Langley, B.C.

I FELT A BOND with Margaret when I first arrived in Canada as a new wife in the 1970s, particularly when my first child was born in the Margaret Trudeau room at Women’s College Hospital. She was very young and inexperienced to be the wife of a prime minister, let alone a man so much older than herself. The media has always been very hard on her and yet she handled everything with as much grace as she could muster. I cried for her when she lost her son and then Pierre and I’m so happy to hear she has come out of the black tunnel and is so positive about the future. We can all learn a lot from her strength and her ability to be herself against great odds. I say, bravo, Margaret, and keep on trying to educate us all about mental health and moving forward.

Jan Cross, Toronto

WHAT’S IN A NAME

IN MY 20 YEARS as a cabinetmaker building kitchens and furniture for the folks of Muskoka, I’m sure I’ve been called a few names. But until I was quoted in your article about home offices at the cottage, nobody has ever called me “David” (“You call this working?” Home, April 24). Not that there is anything derogatory about the name; it just doesn’t happen to be mine.

John Swainson, Hodges Landing Urban Country Kitchens and Furniture, Hawkestone, Ont.

‘McColl is not the only veggie vixen to hail from Canada. Pamela Anderson is known the world over.’

TRAGEDY AND CELEBRITY

AS THE TRANSFORMATION of Maclean’s into a glitzy, pretentiously edgy magazoid proceeds, this long-time subscriber takes comfort from the presence of a writer of Barbara Amiel’s quality (“Clooney isn’t touching this one,” Opinion, May 22). As so often, her historically grounded, incisive analysis of a specific case (here the calamity of Darfur) allows her to illuminate the universal nature of antagonisms which transcend both time and place. In the event, what might appear to some as a cynical (not to say nihilistic) conclusion points up the essential futility of seeking solutions to vast human tragedies through the habitually unreflective, and occasionally conflicted, intercession of celebrities (think George Clooney, think Romeo Dallaire). Lose Amiel, lose this subscriber. Zoltán Roman, Victoria

VEGAN DELIGHTS

THANKS FOR THE STORY about Toronto’s Stephanie McColl, named Sexiest Vegetarian Alive by PETA (“Fishermen need not

apply,” Newsmakers, May 22). I went vegan last year. I eat a wide variety of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and beans and really enjoy my meals, plus I don’t have to worry about bacterial transfer. Becoming veg or vegan makes you feel great in mind, body and spirit. So whether your motivation is health, animal welfare or treading lighter on Mother Earth, try it.

Michael Hayward, Toronto

McCOLL MAY be PETA’s newly crowned Sexiest Vegetarian Alive—but she’s not the only

veggie vixen to hail from Canada. Shania Twain is a previous winner in PETA’s celebrity poll, and of course Pamela Anderson is known the world over as a vegan Venus. Why are so many Tofutti cuties swearing off meat? Fatty animal foods can make your belly bulge and your energy sag, killing both your sex drive and your sex appeal. Vegetarians tend to be slimmer than their carnivorous counterparts— without having to count calories—and they have better endurance.

Lindsay Pollard-Post, staff writer, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Norfolk, Va.

GOTHS ARE NO KILLERS

WHILE IT IS terribly unfortunate that a family was murdered in Medicine Hat, Alta., it is equally unsettling that the community seems to be blaming it on Goth culture (“A lesson in bad taste,” National, May 22). The school assignment that suggested to junior high students that Goths are manic-depressive self-mutilators was certainly in poor taste, both because it was given to young children and because it painted an inaccurate picture.

I am a Goth and I can assure you that our affinity for black clothing and white makeup does not make us more liable to harm ourselves or kill our parents.

Marla Crews, Toronto

THE GOTH CULTURE issue is designed to distract us from considering the devastation done to a 12-year-old girl by someone almost twice her age. The “boyfriend” is a pedophile, preying on an impressionable girl. Sexual exploitation is not part of the Goth culture. Jocelynn Bathgate, Victoria