MAIL BAG

MAIL BAG

November 12 2007
MAIL BAG

MAIL BAG

November 12 2007

MAIL BAG

‘What you call a “drunken brawlfest” cannot all be blamed on Queen’s students’

A BIG HAPPY FAMILY

ANNE KINGSTON presents an interesting look into new family forms, as seen by author Cate Cochran. (“Upstairs mom, downstairs dad,” Home, Oct. 29). Cochran’s book Reconcilable Differences features ad hoc families with such arrangements as one divorced parent on the main floor and the other upstairs, with their children sandwiched in between them. But no matter how close this brings the children to living with both parents, Cochran and her ex-husband are still divorced and there is a lot of evidence to show that children of divorce do not fare as well in a number of different ways. What might have happened if the effort these two put toward remodelling the family home was put into repairing the marriage? After all, by Cochran’s own admission it was not abusive; rather the dislocation was “the result of boredom.” Guess these adults are getting what they wished for: an ex-husband dating other people in a shared dwelling is many things, but not boring. Then again, perhaps the kids are better off without two parents to supervise them—backing out of a commitment because you are not sufficiently entertained is something we rightly associate with immaturity.

Andrea Mrozek, Manager of Research and Communications, Institute of Marriage and Family Canada, Ottawa

THE WORST PM EVER?

YOU HAVE got to be kidding! Mark Steyn’s story on Jean Chrétien should have read “He’s still da fool” (“He’s still da boss,” Cover, Oct. 29). Here was a PM who single-handedly destroyed our military, brought Canada-U.S. relations to an all-time low, was soft on crime and terrorism, alienated Western Canada and Quebec and was largely responsible for the contempt and disinterest with which politics and politicians are now viewed. He governed with an alarming smugness and an annoying sense of entitlement and treated his successor with the utmost contempt and disrespect. I surely don’t miss him and I am certain that history will remember him as a leader severely lacking in skills and aplomb. As for me, I consider him the worst PM ever. Ken Whitehead, Dartmouth, N.S.

EXCEPT AS FODDER for the comedy shows,

I warrant that most Canadians do not miss Chrétien one bit. His true character was

once again in evidence in the timing of his memoirs, My Years as Prime Minister: he deliberately threw fuel on the bonfire that the Liberal party has become. His bitterness regarding Paul Martin is obvious and while Martin was aptly titled “Mr. Dithers,” at least he has some class.

Lorraine Williams, Kitchener, Ont.

YES, WE miss him. We miss his passion, his “ Vive le Canada. ” Our present PM may speak both official languages, which of course Chrétien had difficulty with, but somehow we understood him. He could express his love for our country in an emotional way, which I doubt Stephen Harper could understand. David Leigh, Victoria

I SEE OUR ex-PM is in the news again, trying to sell a book. I just have one question: did he say anything about how he abandoned the sinking ship and left poor old Paul to plug the holes? What makes me mad is the way the media have let him get away with it. Vern Murphy, Kingston, Ont.

PARTYING HEARTY

Maclean’s photos and caption were misleading and show a bias against Queen’s University (“Just another homecoming,” Week in Pictures, Oct. 29). Of the 54 people arrested, of course, you had to include a picture of someone wearing an old engineering jacket. No self-respecting applied science student would be caught dead wearing that jacket today. And what you call the annual “drunken

brawlfest” that unfortunately is held in the student ghetto cannot all be blamed on Queen’s students. Sure there are Queen’s students who party too much, just as there are students who do the same at any other university or college or high school. However, I am sure many of the partygoers have never seen the inside of any lecture hall at Queen’s, nor will ever have that opportunity. If you don’t believe me, do the math. If 6,000 people attended the party, that is 43 per cent of the university’s 14,000 undergrad population. Quite a high percentage, don’t you think? Furthermore, taxpayers did not “shell out” $467,000 so Queen’s students and alumni could show their school spirit. Taxpayers shelled out the money to help control a street party.

D.L. Desaulniers, Ottawa

I HAVE TO WONDER what sort of culture Queen’s University is fostering, that in this day and age homecoming continues to be the completely irresponsible mess that your photographs captured. With a more or less four-year turnover rate of undergraduate students, it doesn’t seem an overwhelming task to change the psychology of the campus and find a more socially appropriate way for students to express their school spirit. Other universities manage to do it. Perhaps Queen’s should increase its tuition rates to cover the taxpayers’ cost of policing their student body and repairing the damage they do. And perhaps Maclean’s should include some of the pictures from this recent issue in the next cover story it does on university rankings. Deb Miller-Cushon,

Merrickville, Ont.

SWEATSHOP BUYS

IN SPITE OF your positive outlook on the troubled manufacturing sector in Canada, the diminishing labour component for industry is real (“Manufacturing dissent,” Business, Oct. 29). Indeed, a small percentage of the population will one day be able to do all that is needed. That this requires social adjustments is no justification for the oversimplification of the current manufacturing sector’s predicament. Consumers congregate to low-cost imported products without consideration for the differing labour, environmental or quality requirements with which these products gain some of their competitive advantage. We inadvertently

‘By the way, dollar stores sell aluminum water bottles that look just

like the pricey ones, at, you guessed it, $1 each. But how safe are any of them?’

encourage sweatshops, chemical dumping and corruption. In short, the capitalistic component of consumers typically rules over their social conscience at the cash register.

Marc Soubliere, Belleville, Ont.

‘ALLEGED’GENOCIDE

YOUR ARTICLE TRIES to explain the disputed genocide claims by Armenians and the Turkish reactions, but the headline gives the impression of a factual genocide (“Genocide denial,” World, Oct. 29). In fact, there is tremendous debate over the issue and, despite political lobbying, the alleged genocide has not been proven historically. The Armenians have tried every avenue, including terrorism, to reach their goal. But they don’t bring their genocide allegations before the International Court of Justice in The Hague because genocide allegations are unsupportable by historical facts—archives, authentic documents and unbiased historians reveal a different story than the Armenian version of what happened almost a century ago.

In Canada, the U.S. and some other countries, it is unfortunate that the Armenian diaspora’s political power and influence transforms many politicians into fake historians. By believing onesided stories of the diaspora, these politicians think they have the knowledge and authority to give the Armenians a stamp of approval. Why is it they adopt the Armenian allegations? Is it because Armenians are Christian and Turks are not? Or is it because there are tens of thousands of Armenians in their constituencies and very few Turks?

Bora Hincer, Kingston, Ont.

YOUR ARMENIAN genocide denial story was good, but was focused on the Armenian diaspora and missed exploring the views of the people in Armenia. The genocide resolution will eventually pass in the U.S. Congress. Your story referred to the reasons why this is happening. What your story missed is that the eventual settlement of this issue will have to happen between the people of Armenia and Turkey and not foreign parliaments. Turkey and Armenia should immediately establish diplomatic relations that will start a genuine dialogue. It will take time, but there is a long history of closeness and tolerance between

these two peoples. Armenians, the oldest Christians in the world, were the architects of mosques in the Ottoman Empire. And for the last two years, Turks voted for an Armenian singer at the Eurovision Song Contest. Garry Aslanyan, Ottawa

WATER WOES

PERHAPS YOU CAN clarify something regarding the water bottle debate (“Plastic bottles get the eco-boot,” Environment, Oct 15). In the story you describe the pricey bottles as being stainless steel. However, in the caption next to the picture you describe them as aluminum. So, which are they? By the way, dollar

stores also sell aluminum bottles, and they look just like the expensive version, at, you guessed it, $1. They have a gold coating on the inside, I assume to protect the beverage from direct contact with the aluminum. But how safe are these aluminum versions with respect to Alzheimer’s? Are we trading one risk for another?

Becky Romaniuk, Stouffville, Ont.

MISSION POSSIBLE

THE MATTER of Canadian sovereignty in the Far North is a very topical subject these days, and while Sean M. Maloney’s account of the 1958 discovery of the Russian Tu-l6 jet bomber on North Pole 6 was extremely interesting, I found it to be somewhat off the mark (“The spies who went out in the cold,” World, Oct. 29). As a young RCAF officer, I participated in navigating the Lancaster to and from North Pole 6 and in photographing the Russian Badger aircraft. Contrary to Maloney’s account, when we departed Alert for the ice island, there was no doubt about what our mission involved. Well in advance of our Ottawa departure for the north, our

crew was clearly briefed on the situation at North Pole 6 and on what military intelligence expected from us: photograph the Badger from a carefully established altitude so the physical dimensions of the aircraft could be determined and get the number identifier from its tail section. If there was any surprise when

we arrived at the ice station, it was to find the Badger parked alongside a DC-3 aircraft. After a quick low-level run over the Badger to read and photograph the identifier on the tail section, we climbed to a few hundred feet and, using the vertical camera, simultaneously photographed both aircraft. The DC-3 provided a near-perfect scaling factor for determination of the Badger’s dimensions. Within a matter of minutes of our arrival at the ice station, we were on our way back to Alert.

Maloney states that North Pole 6 was drifting in Canadian waters. My recollection is that it was drifting inside the Russian sector. This is supported by the decision taken to launch the sortie from Alert rather than from a more southerly Resolute Bay. Also, the duration of the flight (recorded in my log book) was

sufficiently long to support our having travelled to and from a point well within the Russian sector.

Finally, I can state that from the crew’s perspective, the flight to and from North Pole 6 was pretty much routine, not the harrowing journey as suggested by Maloney. Perhaps someone not directly familiar with those four fabulous Rolls-Royce Merlin engines might conclude that a 10hour flight over the Arctic Ocean in 1958 had to be harrowing. Larry C. Henry, Nepean, Ont.

IN PASSING

David Adams, 79, dancer. He performed with the Sadler’s Wells Ballet in London, England, where he met Celia Franca. He later returned to Canada and became principal dancer with Franca’s new National Ballet. As well as being a noted choreographer, Adams performed with numerous European companies.

Robert Goulet, 73, American-born, Canadian-raised baritone most famous for his signature song, If Ever I Should Leave You, which he first performed 47 years ago alongside Richard Burton and Julie Andrews in the Broadway musical Camelot. Goulet was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis last month and was awaiting a lung transplant at a Los Angeles hospital.