MAIL BAG

January 1 2007

MAIL BAG

January 1 2007

MAIL BAG

'Building eight-foot-high wildlife fencing is a somewhat simplistic and costly solution1

DION: OUR NEXT PM?

IF Maclean’s is to be believed, the “elegant” Michael Ignatieff is one step away from sainthood (“Behind the scenes of the amazing race,” Cover, Dec. 18). Certainly he has a lot of good ideas, but there are reasons why he did not have the support that everyone thought he had going into the convention. Notable among them is his backing of the U.S. war in Iraq. That lack of judgment scares people like me who see how our present government is cozying up to the U.S. As far as Stéphane Dion is concerned, I would not write him off just yet. I was quite impressed with his acceptance speech and subsequent performance in Question Period, as well as interviews with the press. I think he will be just fine as our next prime minister.

Chas van Dyck, Winnipeg

IT IS MY HOPE that the Liberals do not get back into power for another 10 years so that the Conservatives have time to clean up the financial mess, stop spending on all sorts of costly national programs, protect our borders, increase our presence in our northern waters and build an efficient army—all things foreign to Liberal governments. Stéphane Dion, for all his academic degrees, will only follow Trudeau in alienating the West because he will want it to pay to clean up the Canadian pollution mess. He will not dare risk alienating his base in Ontario and the Atlantic provinces.

André Lécuyer, Ottawa

WHAT STRUCK ME as the most startling about the entire Liberal leadership race was how excruciatingly long it lasted and how much ink Maclean’s devoted to it. Thank goodness it’s over and Maclean’s can get back to reporting what the ruling government is doing and not what the hapless Liberals wish they were doing.

Carolyne Aarsen, Neerlandia, Alta.

THE DION TORTOISE passed the Ignatieff hare at the finish line in a real Aesop’s fable. Our battered planet has seen political hares George W. Bush and Tony Blair lead us into destruction with their full-speed-ahead attitudes. We need a few more tortoises like Dion to issue the less flashy command of launch the lifeboats.

G. James Thomson, Oakville, Ont.

DID PETER C. NEWMAN follow a different Liberal leadership race than the rest of us (“Fearing the man who would have been king,” National, Dec. 18)? Had Ignatieff truly been a man on fire, I suspect that he would be Liberal leader today. In actuality, his entire campaign seemed to have an air of detachment; Ignatieff ventured into the business of politics with smirking bemusement. To Liberal and non-Liberal observers, his crusade appeared less about Canada and more about a great achiever seeking his newest challenge. His incautious remarks on the Constitution, for example, were not the stuff of great ideas,

but clever political ploys, and his strong support among Quebec delegates suggests that they paid off. Liberals desperately wanted the man that Newman describes: a man who shot from the hip, who dared Canada to dream of a greater future; a new Trudeau, in other words. What they found was a stodgy intellectual who prefaced his most controversial remarks by citing his own academic credentials.

Brian Kuchar, Kingston, Ont.

STÉPHANE DION is no Joe Clark, notwithstanding the blustering of Peter C. Newman. When the Toronto Star famously asked Joe Who? in 1976, Clark was a first-term backbench MP without a legal, business or academic background. Dion, in contrast, has served with distinction for 10 years in the federal cabinet. He crafted the masterful Clarity Act, which ensures no province can

be seduced into leaving Canada by subterfuge, and he fashioned an environmental program that will contribute effectively toward ameliorating climate change if he is ever given the chance to implement it. As a Liberal convention delegate who supported Dion on every ballot, I can assure your readers that Newman’s foolish characterization of this man is way off the mark.

Ray Argyle, Toronto

CULL OF THE WILD

BARBARA RIGHTON has identified a serious and growing problem: moose-vehicle collisions (“Of moose and men,” Nature, Dec. 11). The damage of hitting moose includes material loss to vehicles, human injuries, human fatalities, call-out costs for police, veterinarians and wildlife officials to deal with injured or dead moose, loss of meat and hunting opportunities, and the societal costs of traffic delays. Wildlife managers have historically been in conflict with transportation agencies in placing management emphasis on increasing moose populations, which cause increasing moose-vehicle collisions. Building eight-foothigh wildlife fencing is a somewhat simplistic and costly solution. The major challenge facing wildlife managers is to develop specific harvest reduction methods along identified high-risk traffic corridors to significantly reduce accidents—and build public support for such an action.

H.R. Timmermaan, Regional Wildlife Biologist, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (retired), Nolalu, Ont.

BOYS’ NIGHT OUT

THE PICTURE of those wannabe Trailer Park Boys hiding their eyes behind sunglasses certainly illustrates the sort of low-class misogynist so self-centred as to ask his wife for permission to be unfaithful (“You want what for your birthday?” Home, Dec. 4). Just how stupid are these low-lifes? Surely their wives aren’t as naive as your article makes them out to be. Make no mistake about it; they are asking for permission to get laid and not be subjected to the punishment they so richly deserve. One would hope any wife’s second response to such a request includes the warning that her husband’s life will be made a permanent living hell if he is unfaithful. The first response, of course, would be a severe, drawn-out, Bible-thumping tongue-lashing

for having the preposterous gall and inconsideration to ask such a thing.

Jim Skelton, Coldstream, B.C.

THE POLITICS OF COLOUR

IN LUIZA CH. SAVAGE’S STORY on Barack Obama (“Black enough?” World, Dec. 4), Savage states that immigrants from Africa and the West Indies have had greater success in the United States than descendants of American slaves. Call me crazy, but surely success can be measured beyond Washington’s Beltway. After reading this article, I was struck by the obvious—the very fact that American voters are considering if Obama is black enough or white enough to run their country means they are far from living in a society where skin colour and race are no longer an issue. How about simply considering what this man stands for? Maeghan Fowler, Ottawa

MISSION IN MOSCOW

WRITING ABOUT Moscow’s belligerence (“Russian roulette,” World, Dec. 4), Sean M. Maloney and Richard Martin say, “There is a larger agenda, and the West needs to figure out what it is.” Russia has always had one goal. When my late mother was in school in Latvia during the 1941 Soviet occupation, a Russian teacher pointed to a map on the wall with various countries in red and said, “Now, only these countries are red, but one day the whole world will be Communist Red.” Since the turn of the 20th century, the West has bailed Russia out whenever it was stressed. With the billions it has received in recent years, Russia has reorganized its infrastructure and regained its military power. One alleged Russian spy caught in Montreal is almost laughable. With our lax immigration laws, we can be assured that far more Russians are infiltrating every sector of our government and economy. Edite Lynch, Barrie, Ont.

IN PASSING

Ahmet Ertegun, 83, music industry executive. The co-founder of Atlantic Records, he fostered the careers of Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles and the Rolling Stones. He was attending a Stones concert in October when he slipped, hit his head and fell into a coma from which he never recovered.

Lamar Hunt, 74, football team owner. He helped start the American Football League in 1959 after he’d been unable to buy an NFL team. The leagues merged in 1966, partly thanks to a meeting between Hunt and Dallas Cowboys owner Tex Schramm in a parking lot. Hunt is also credited with coining the name “Super Bowl” after children’s rubber “super balls.”