MAIL BAG

MAIL BAG

August 27 2007
MAIL BAG

MAIL BAG

August 27 2007

MAIL BAG

‘The mysteries of a child’s brain may be clearer, but the same can’t be said for adults’

LAUREEN HARPER EXPOSED

I RESENT your making a feature of our Prime Minister’s wife (“Wife of the party,” National, Aug. 13). Unlike journalists in other countries, the press here has been wonderfully reticent about exposing relatives of elected officials to undue publicity. I had hoped that it was a Canadian thing.

Joan D. Smith, Victoria

THE STORY on Laureen Harper made me laugh. She supports literacy (despite her husband’s cuts to literacy programs), animal rights (despite his record on the environment), is a stay-at-home mom (despite his approach to child care), and is a role model for women (never mind his cuts to women’s programs.)

D. F. Philpott, St.John’s

PLEASE DO NOT refer to the wife of the Prime Minister as the “first lady.” This is a term that applies to wives of presidents of a republic. The first lady of Canada is Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, followed by the Governor General. The Prime Minister’s wife can never be more than the third lady of the land.

Leslie Ray, Kincardine, Ont.

THE TERM “Mrs. Stephen Harper” on your cover is archaic and insulting and I am truly offended by it. That type of terminology belongs back in the ’50s, not in the 21st

century. Laureen Harper is a charming, smart, savvy woman and shouldn’t be referred to using a term that reduces her to being her husband’s chattel.

Carol Dobson, Halifax

BRINGING UP BABY

THE MYSTERIES of a child’s brain may have become clearer in recent years, as your writer Peter Shawn Taylor says, but I’m willing to take a giant leap and say the same cannot be said for adults (“Learn baby learn!” Education, Aug. 6). Why must Taylor wrap the

issue of child care in terms of an “ideological battleground”? If the best choice in child rearing is, according to your expert Tom Schuller, whatever situation results in the least stress for the child, then let’s provide that situation. Parents need real choices. One choice may be daycare where early childhood educators knowledgeable in child development support, not duplicate, parental roles. Children are nurtured and they learn. Parental stress is relieved, providing parents time and energy to give additional personal attention to their children. None of this seems difficult or pointless to me. Everyone wins; no weapons involved.

Lavonne Carter, Ottawa

LIVING IN A SMALL eastern Ontario community and working in a licensed daycare setting that has been offering excellent services for the past 35 years, I was very proud to see that on the local high school honour list, more than 50 per cent of the students had attended our daycare in their younger days. It would be very interesting to see the percentage of Grade 12 graduates who did attend daycares or nursery schools before age five. And yes, it would be great if licensed services could be universal and free, but for now, we will keep on offering the best services because we care.

Marie Pageau Handfield, Garderie Champlain Day Nursery, Vankleek Hill, Ont.

‘The separatist movement is far from dead. If most Canadians could spend a week with a French blue-collar worker or any French civil servant, they would cringe at the disdain.’

IMMIGRANT STATUS

AS HEAD of the citizenship and immigration division in the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration, I would like to respond to your article about the fees for Ontario’s pilot provincial nominee program (“Worth waiting for?” National, Aug. 6). Because there is such a significant difference between the amount quoted in your article and the actual cost to apply to the program, a clarification is required. Generally, most applicants to Ontario’s PNP will pay $2,000, not the $10,000 you quote. For international students, the cost is $200. The federal government does charge processing fees of approximately $1,000, and, taken together, the total application fees for this program are between $1,200 and $3,000 depending on the type of nominee applying. It is also unnecessary for applicants to retain the services of an immigration lawyer or consultant, which would increase the cost. Katherine Hewson, Assistant Deputy Minister, Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration, Toronto

I AM TOTALLY amazed at the reception that our government is giving to applicants for Canadian citizenship. My wife and I immigrated to this country in 1969, becoming Canadian citizens in 1975We were treated with the utmost respect by government agencies. Now we appear to have a government institution that treats people with disdain. To me, it is despicable that a magnificent country such as Canada can ask people to come, and then show no interest in helping them to become citizens. I also noticed that applications of those interested in becoming Canadian citizens are sent to Buffalo, N.Y., for processing. This absolutely flabbergasts me! Maybe if we sent Immigration Minister Monte Solberg to Buffalo, the process would be simplified. David Cefn Price, Arborg, Man.

BACK IN UKRAINE, I worked as a large animal veterinarian. After I came to Canada in 2003 on a work permit, I worked as a labourer on a dairy farm in Saskatchewan and on a pig farm in Ontario. In 2004,1 got married to a Ukrainian girl and later that year she moved here to join me. In 2005, she was granted a so-called “open work permit,” which banned her from being employed in some industries (education, health care and, surprisingly, agriculture). She had a degree and

experience in accounting and auditing, but her language skills were rather poor. Initially, she was employed as a lab technician. We applied for landed immigrant status in September 2005, and in November 2006 our application was approved. One might call us lucky, but we also did everything by the book. Another couple of our friends, who applied from within Canada but, unfortunately, did not speak English well enough, were ripped off by a number of lawyers who misled them by suggesting a much more complicated way of applying. Their applications were rejected and they were issued a deportation order. Vitaliy Stoyan, Wroxeter, Ont.

YOUR ARTICLE was worth reading. I applied for permanent residency in 1998 as an immigrant from the U.S. When I did receive my document for permanent residency, it incorrectly stated my mother tongue as Tagalog, the national language of the Philippines. In my application I had submitted that I was born there (where my parents had been working), but that I was an American citizen. A form explained that I was to correct any errors on the PR documents, but didn’t offer any contact information in order to provide the correction. After some effort, I tracked down a human being who told me I would have to go back to the border where I could have immigration review the mistake. At the border, the officer explained that this was a computer error. He took out a pen, crossed out

the word Tagalog and wrote in the word English. This was now my officially updated official immigration document.

Lisa Van Buren, Ottawa

A WATERY GRAVE

HAVING SPENT a fair bit of time in Kugluktuk, Nunavut, over the years, I know that Harry Aviak was a good man (The End, July 30). Your reporter Kate Lunau wrote a real tribute about his all-too-short life. As an Aboriginal person who has hunted by snow machine for 30 years and netted fish for my family for a long time, I appreciate reading about other northern Aboriginal people. However, in the last paragraph of the story I cringed when I read that, when he was water skipping, Harry’s snowmobile “inexplicably” stalled and sank. Let’s get real. No matter how many times he had raced his machine across open water before, internal combustion engines meant to be on solid land do not work well when they’re wet. As a lawyer, I think the right thing to have written was that this accident was reasonably foreseeable. Garth Wallbridge, Yellowknife

SEPARATISM NOW

THE SEPARATIST movement is far from dead (“The end of separatism?” National, Aug 13). If most Canadians could spend a week with a French blue-collar worker or any French civil servant, they would cringe at their disdain for Canada as a whole and for English-

speaking residents of Quebec in particular. Separatists have a deep-rooted hatred that festers from generation to generation. There is also the immigration factor. Quebec is the only province that can choose who comes into the province. Rest assured, the separatists have used this advantage to recruit immigrants who can be helpful in their next push toward independence. When Quebec declares independence and the floor falls out from below your feet, remember my comments. Jacob Kasperowicz, Kirklatid, Que.

IT IS QUITE ironic for polemicist Pierre Falardeau to state that there are too few intellectuals, artists and thinkers in La Belle Province to feed the separatist flame. Quebec’s population is more educated than it has ever been and there is unequivocally no shortage of talented artists. The problem facing separatists these days is that they are up against a population which is smarter and better informed than in the past. Nowadays, the separatists’ largest audience rests with the least educated and those who do not have much to lose in the event of separation. As for the rest, the majority realizes that their future lies in a united Canada. So what about Falardeau’s comment on Quebecers being imbeciles? Like any 10-year-old would gladly tell you, it takes one to know one.

Nicolas Barbe, Montreal

WHEN THE CHARTER of the French Language (Bill lOl) became law 30 years ago, I was hosting a talk show at a Montreal English radio station, CJAD. As Benoit Aubin writes (“Bill 101: A gift we never expected,” National, Aug. 13), the bill’s passage provoked enormous turmoil in Montreal’s English community: head offices moved to Toronto and vans trundling

thousands of English Montrealers out of the province clogged Hwy. 401.1 refused to join the hysteria and was excoriated in English community newspapers as that quasi-separatist ex-Jesuit from Toronto. Of course, I recognized there were injustices in the bill (subsequently dealt with by the courts), but it was clear that its main thrust—more recognition of French Quebecers—was right on target. Subsequently I had many arguments on air with Dr. Camille Laurin about his application of the bill. Good psychiatrist though he was, I expect he never realized that his beloved language charter would eventually become a bulwark keeping Quebec within Canada. Neil McKenty, Montreal

DRUGS FOR ADDICTS

IN YOUR ARTICLE on the experimental proposal for chronic addiction substitution treatment (CAST), a plan to give drugs to addicts as a form of harm reduction in Vancouver (“Take a chill pill,” National, Aug. 6), your reporter quoted me as asking, “What are we going to do when addicts start developing increasing tolerance to dextroamphetamines? What happens when we can no longer treat for euphoria?” I don’t recall having said anything that incoherent. I pointed out that amphetamine-addicted individuals would be sensitized to any stimulant and that many of them would have such a high tolerance that for them to achieve the euphoria they seek, they would have to take toxic doses of stimulants. I asked what CAST would do—give them toxic doses or give them “safe” doses and ask them not to use more from illicit sources? I said that if CAST proponents didn’t know that many addicts would supplement their prescribed stimulant dose with street sources, their ignorance would be alarming. And if

CAST proponents did know these facts and didn’t put them on the CAST website because they didn’t want people to think about them, that would be disturbing. Addiction is a multifaceted disease which responds very well to an intensive, indefinite and comprehensive abstinence-based treatment program. The proponents of harm reduction often cite “the Swiss experience,” but they never mention that Switzerland has 5,000 detox beds and detox on demand, about one bed per 1,000 citizens. B.C. has about one bed for every 20,000 citizens, and it’s very hard for an addict in crisis to get access to one. Our failure to offer comprehensive treatment to our addicted fellow citizens is at the root of the tragedy in the Downtown Eastside and is our great shame. Donald G. Hedges, MD,

New Westminster, B.C.

IN PASSING

Merv Griffin, 82, entertainer. A band singer in the 1940s, he went on to become a talk-show host. He said he interviewed 25,000 guests in 24 years on television. Portly and affable, he was also the inventor of the TV game shows Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune, selling both at great profit to Columbia Pictures Television in 1986.

Brooke Astor, 105, philanthropist. A leading New York City socialite, she was famous for her motto: “Money is like manure, it should be spread around.” She gave US$200 million to charities and to her city’s cultural institutions. Last year, Astor’s friends and relatives alleged in court papers that her son was neglecting her care and looting her estate.