MAIL BAG

March 5 2007

MAIL BAG

March 5 2007

MAIL BAG

‘Students email essays to parents for editing or rewriting. Call it fraud lite.’

THE SEXTUPLET DEBATE

I AGREE that B.C.’s decision to take temporary custody of three of the surviving babies born prematurely to Jehovah’s Witnesses was beneficial to the children’s welfare (“The sextuplets: whose babies are they?” Cover, Feb. 19). I remain concerned, however, that if left unchecked, this abuse of judicial power could lead to further violations of the religious beliefs of Canadians that are supposed to be protected by law. This kind of executive decision-making is an embarrassment to any freedom-loving people.

Bo Friggstad, Regina

YOU DIDN’T NEED to ask who the four remaining babies belong to: they belong to their parents. I may not agree with their objection to blood transfusions and the courts may overrule them on medical grounds, but they are practising their faith as they see fit. Being a Jehovah’s Witness does not make you an unfit parent.

Margaret A. Kennedy, Oakville, Ont.

I DOUBT that B.C. would have bypassed a court hearing to give transfusions to the babies if the issue was not urgent. By the time the government got through the legal red tape and court proceedings, the babies might have been dead. These children have no religion yet, unlike the examples you included of Sarah Bahris, who was 14 when she was diagnosed with cancer, or Bethany Hughes who was 16. Sarah and Bethany had the ability to make their own decisions.

Elizabeth Allen, Brampton, Ont.

LIVING HIGH AS A SPY

I FOUND your Feb. 12 issue interesting reading, in particular Michael Friscolanti’s article about the Muslim informant who helped the RCMP arrest 18 young Islamic extremists in Toronto (“The four-million dollar rat,” National, Feb. 12). How can someone justify an attempt to extort millions of dollars from the RCMP and taxpayers to live a life of comfort and then try to righteously package it as an effort to “maintain Islam’s good name in Canada”? While I commend the RCMP for doing whatever it can to preserve our security, it seems like this person got away with a shameless money grab for information that holds no guarantee of any convictions. Everyday, ordinary citizens help police bring criminals to justice, not for

money or houses, but for the knowledge and satisfaction that it is the right thing to do. If it had been a member of his family who had been killed on 9/11 or murdered in Madrid or London, the informant’s motivations might have been different, or at the very least cheaper for the rest of us.

Brad Bruce, Kingston, Ont.

KUDOS TO Maclean’s on the exposure of this “star Muslim informant.” Once the Toronto 18 trial is over, this high-living, fine-dining mole needs to be fully exposed. If Stephen Harper can apologize to Maher Arar for the RCMP’s wrongdoings, what is stopping the RCMP itself from apologizing, this time for its heinous entrapment deal.

Jalal Hussain, Brossard, Que.

ADDING FUR TO THE FIRE

MY, MY, how eco-sensitive of Greenpeace to use a faux fur polar bear in its photo-op on Parliament Hill (Capital Diary, Feb. 12). Faux fur is a petrochemical product derived from crude oil, a non-renewable resource using a lot of pollutant-producing energy to make the necessary polymers. Is Greenpeace ignorant of the source of the product? Or is it practising hypocrisy in the interest of expediency to have a fast fundraising event?

Jim Winter, St.John’s, Nfld.

EVERYONE’S A CHEATER

SEVERAL YEARS AGO I was quite shocked to find an acquaintance editing her child’s university essays, a practice she continued right

through that child’s post-graduate studies (“The great university cheating scandal,” Education, Feb. 12). Since then I learned that it is not uncommon for university students to email essays to parents for editing, correcting or rewriting. From the casual and almost cavalier manner with which such parental admissions are dropped into conversation, one can only conclude that this is a perfectly normal mode of behaviour, and I assume the aiding and abetting began long before the offspring entered university. Is it just me, or is this not a form of deception? Perhaps we could call it fraud lite.

Luisa Martin, Toronto

AS A MATH TEACHER at a university college, I see students who don’t know their times tables, who don’t know how to divide fractions, who can’t figure out percentage problems, who can’t use formulas and can’t solve applied problems. My colleagues who teach English could spin a similarly depressing tale regarding spelling, grammar, clear sentence structure and paragraph organization. And yet these students have earned their high school diplomas.

Geoff Dean, Surrey, B.C.

FOLLOWING A LONG career teaching in elementary and secondary schools, I worked as a truck driver. Part of my training involved an all-day air brakes course given by an apparently reputable truck-driving school. At the end of the course, the class of some 50 men and women was given a test. The instructor handed out the exams and left the room. Soon the participants were walking around, discussing the questions. It was blatant cheating. I was appalled thinking these people could soon be licensed to drive 18-wheelers on our highways. Evidently cheating exists at all levels of education.

Dick Jones, Weston, Ont.

I STILL CLEARLY recall my furniture design course, where the final project was to build a deck chair. A classmate presented a storebought chair that he disassembled and then reassembled, changing a few screws to make it look as though it was created from scratch. He was fruitfully rewarded with an A. I also had classmates who paid other students to trace their technical drawings. Why were they doing this? Because they knew they could. Janice Wong, Montreal

STAY HOME, SAY NO

AFTER READING your question and answer piece with author David Walsh (Interview, Feb. 12), I am looking forward to reading his book, No: Why Kids—of All Ages—Need to Hear It and Ways Parents Can Say It. After more than 30 years of teaching high school, I can tell you that he is right on the money. Many parents do need to spend more time with their kids. We must find some way to make this happen. It will have a monetary cost, but it may be cheaper than the problems that will have to be resolved in the future. It is time that parenting was viewed as a job and the stay-at-home parent as a full-time worker. Rick Dell, Chaplean, Ont.

EDIE SEDGWICK STYLE

WITH REGARDS to Edie Sedgwick’s trademark style, I object to Barbara Amiel comparing w Edie to Paris Hilton (“Get out the fishnets,” “ Fashion, Feb. 19). Puh-lease! Only in her 8 dreams could Paris be such a fashion icon or g anything at all memorable, m Teresa Banner, Sooke, B.C.

5 CREDIT WHERE IT’S DUE

£ I READ YOUR STORY about the opening of a üj $4-million infectious disease laboratory in

Nairobi, which you say was paid for primarily by the Canadian government (“Out of Africa,” Good News, Feb. 5). You failed to mention that the lab is a joint partnership between the University of Manitoba and the University of Nairobi. As one of only three such labs in all of Africa, it will play a central

role in the world-renowned HIV/AIDS research collaboration between the two universities. Through this partnership, U of M researchers have been instrumental in identifying that HIV/AIDS can be transmitted heterosexually and from mother to child in breast milk, and that a natural immunity to the disease exists among some sex workers. It has also developed new strategies for prevention of transmission. These findings are being applied to U of M HIV/AIDS prevention and research programs in India.

John G. Alho, Associate Vice-President (External), University of Manitoba,

Winnipeg

REACHING OUT

I THOUGHT that you might be interested to know how far your magazine travels. After I have finished with my issue, I send it to my daughter in Ethiopia who shares it with friends and then sends it on to a refugee camp where it is one of the few sources available to help people learn English and about Canada. Dale Johnston, Ottawa

THE FACT that you are sending your magazine to the troops in Afghanistan (From the editors, Feb. 12) makes me proud and pleased

‘Unless Nézet-Séguin is among the greatest conductors in history, he is no Wayne Gretzky. For goodness sake, Gretzky is the Bach of hockey.’

that I am a subscriber. Our troops deserve all the encouragement we can give them.

Jack Robertson, Abbotsford, B.C.

THE GREAT GRETZKY

IN SPITE of your headline on the story about Montreal music conductor Yannick NézetSéguin (“The Wayne Gretzky of conducting,” Music, Feb. 19), unless Nézet-Séguin is considered among the greatest conductors in history (or the greatest), he is no Wayne Gretzky. Gretzky was the Bach of hockey, for goodness sake.

Douglas L. Martin, Hamilton

LARGELY DUE to media hype, we appreciate what Gretzky and his ilk have done for sport in Canada. We have attended several of Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s conducted concerts here in Victoria and cannot say how much we have enjoyed and lauded his conducting abilities. He has brought out the best in our orchestra and inspired us with his remarkable presence, vitality and ability.

Sue Hyslop, Sooke, B.C.

SEX AND THE SINGLE GIRL

THE Q & A with author Laura Sessions Stepp on girls “hooking up” with guys for casual sex made me question the integrity of your magazine (Interview, Feb. 19). As an 18-yearold woman, I find the stereotype that Sessions Stepp creates unfair and based on false assumptions gathered from a small group. When she says that she suspects oral sex is more common than holding hands, she truly steps out of bounds. I know of many parents

who read Maclean’s and rely on it to be a source of accurate information and informed opinions, and this is truly a disgrace. Stephanie Cook, Calgary

I WAS THRILLED to read Sessions Stepp’s comments on girls and anonymous sex. As a society, we need to acknowledge the dark side of the message that love can wait, while sex is something altogether different. I tell every young woman I meet, save yourself the heartbreak, loneliness, STDs and infertility, and follow your heart.

Catherine Szabo, Toronto

IN PASSING

Ryan Larkin, 63, filmmaker. A rising star in animation at the National Film Board during the 1970s, he created the much praised short film Walking, but later succumbed to addiction and lived for years on the street. He was the subject of a 2005 animated short, which won an Academy Award. Recently he had found new animation work for MTV.

Celia Franca, 85, founder of the National Ballet of Canada. Following a dancing career in her native Britain, she cofounded the Toronto company in 1951 while supporting herself as a file clerk at Eaton’s. She also founded the National Ballet School to supply the ballet with trained dancers. Franca was the company’s artistic director for 24 years.