MAIL BAG

MAIL BAG

September 10 2007
MAIL BAG

MAIL BAG

September 10 2007

MAIL BAG

‘For those who tolerate a bullying boss, there is consolation in knowing that what goes around, comes around’

THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING

RUSSIA IS FOLLOWING in Germany’s footsteps (“Putin the terrible,” World, Sept. 3). In 1934, Hitler increased the size of the German army, while last week Putin promised to plow billions into military-related industries. In 1936, Germany re-militarized the Rhineland, while in August, the chief admiral of the Russian navy presented the idea of re-militarizing the Mediterranean. Germany began signing treaties with other nations; Putin took part in war games with China, and seems to be trying to pull former Soviet countries back into Russia’s sphere of influence. In 1938, Germany walked into Austria. In August, Russia just walked up to the North Pole to place its flag. True, the North Pole is uninhabited, but it still shows Russia can take what it wants with no real consequences until it’s too late, and although Russia has yet to annex a country simply because it is filled with ethnic Russians, the idea may seem too tempting for Putin to resist. Putin did not write a book about his intentions like Adolf Hitler did, but the similarities between Russia and the Nazis may be an even clearer signal, and harder to ignore. Many academics say these are just symbolic steps, but what if they’re not? Julian G. Ferguson, Toronto

ARE YOU SURE that’s Russia you are talking about? “Neo-fascist, ultra-nationalist”? Right caption, wrong photo! Don’t you have one of George W. Bush on file?

Peggy Nixon Gualtieri, Ottawa

I HAVE GATHERED that you like your Russia coverage dark, faithful to the line that Putin is leading Russia back to fearful oppression at home and aggressive confrontation with our interests abroad. Still, I found your cover story simply unworthy of a mature publication. To equate Putin with Hitler is to insult not only the Russian president but the Russian people, who respect and have re-elected Putin for his leadership in restoring the stability of their state after a decade of painful chaos. Given that Western security promises made to Russia have been broken, that treaty obligations with it have been abandoned, that NATO has been robustly expanded, that nuclear arsenals (and new weapon development) have been re-validated in Washington, that U.S. military aircraft have sustained their patrols of international airspace (with no

complaint I’ve heard from us), and that the fearful alarmism in your story is about par for the Western media course, it’s no wonder Russians are profoundly provoked.

Chris Westdal, Chelsea, Que.,

Canadian Ambassador to Russia, 2003-2006

VLADIMIR PUTIN is sophisticated, intelligent and possesses a certain degree of finesse. He is a reformist who clearly sees the enormous benefits in Russia pursuing American-style economic and industrial growth to move his country forward. Indeed, Putin is creating a “neo-fascist, ultra-nationalist” political entity.

But it is not a “monster.” Russia is turning out to be an economic powerhouse propelled by abundant natural resources, young Turks, modern technology, and an insatiable desire to conquer the world. Beware America! The sleeping giant is still awakening to the realities of the modern world under the able stewardship of Vladimir Putin. Once fully energized, Putin’s Russia will be a formidable force.

Rev. Chris Dilliwal, Winnipeg

BAD BOSSES

IT’S ABOUT TIME that Maclean’s wrote about bullying bosses and what some people are doing to get even (“You *#%&!” Business, Sept. 3). I worked for such a man in the fashion business. He still continues to be a bully, routinely singling out people for minor issues and torturing the company’s employees as a whole. Sadly, his reign of terror continues unchecked by his European masters because

of the enormous gains he contributes, year after year, to the bottom line. New prospects continue to keep walking through the front door as the battered run out the back because this company is viewed as a great starting point in the fashion business.

Antoine Beets, Toronto

THANK YOU for your article on bullying bosses. The list of bad behaviours you mentioned like shouting, abusive language and slamming doors is not exhaustive. Others include excusing plagiarism, lying about a person’s educational credentials and placing unjustified written criticism in a personnel file without even notifying the person affected. Legal action is fine, but for those who have suffered from a former boss who was a bully there is only the consolation of knowing that usually what goes around, comes around.

Michael Wood, Toronto

AS AN EX-EMPLOYEE of a large grocery chain I endured a hell on earth for over 10 years. Not only did I put up with harassment from some customers, but I was continually lied to and intimidated by a manager. As a result of going over his head, I was continually subjected to his harassment and threats. I became physically sick and depressed and my performance did suffer. The manager took delight in terminating me. I find it laughable for such a big money-making corporation to be so out of touch with its employees. Is it not apparent to corporate executives that it’s the employee on the floor who makes the machine run? I’m really glad I’m not there anymore.

Margaret J.Collins-Clapp,

Demorestville, Ont.

DOG DAYS

IN YOUR EDITORIAL (“Hounded by the pack,” Sept. 3), you compare Michael Vick’s involvement in dog fighting and the resulting public outrage and consequences to other misdeeds of various athletes and state that, “Vick’s case will stand out as disproportionate at best, and deeply hypocritical at worst.” What you seem to overlook is the fact that the outrage was directed not so much at the dog fighting, which in itself is a despicable act, but more at the killing of the dogs by electrocution, strangulation and starvation. Anyone who gets his jollies by the barbaric, torturous kill-

ing of innocent, helpless creatures is neither human nor animal, but a monster, and as such deserves the harshest punishment. Sermin Heyck, St. Clements, Ont.

SPEAKING OUT

WHAT A GOOD news story (“An Aboriginal ‘glasnost’,” National, Sept. 3)! For far too many years Canadians have been reluctant to speak out against the Aboriginal situation for fear of offending or being labelled racist. However, when one of their own speaks out loudly and realistically it is time for everyone to take note. The status quo is no longer feasible for Canada nor for the Aboriginal people. Chief Phil Fontaine and others have passed their “best before” date. Let intelligent, hardworking, realistic people such as Clarence Louie take the lead and bring Canada and all its peoples out of this quagmire.

Mary Ann Hocquard, Kettleby, Ont.

A NEW DAY?

I READ WITH very real interest your article on our minister of public safety (“The nine lives of Stockwell Day,” National, Aug. 27). As an Albertan, I remember when he was in Ralph Klein’s Tory government and said such things as, “I want to know how many women in Alberta are physically battered and not just insulted by their husbands. If we talk insulted by their husbands, then I’m afraid that I’m guilty from time to time of abusing my wife.” Or how about this gem: “Homosexuality is a mental disorder that can be cured by counselling.” This he said in 1997, using his power as a provincial cabinet minister to challenge the human rights case of Delwin Vriend, a gay Albertan. They say that

time changes all of us. And perhaps Day has changed. But all Canadians should be wary. Rev. Linda C. Hunter, Calgary

PAYING FOR PLASTIC

CHARGING FOR EACH and every plastic bag used by shoppers in the province of Quebec is certainly a way to kick-start people’s thinking about the environment (“Plastic tax: paying for a shopping bag,” National, Aug. 27). But it always surprises me how we in Canada look at such ideas as if they are innovations. Germany introduced levies on plastic bags at least 15 years ago. Why don’t those who make decisions about the protection of our environment spend a few weeks in Europe? If they keep their ears and eyes open, they’ll come back with bags full of great ideas. RolfG. Kempf Toronto

I AM ALL IN FAVOUR of charging shoppers for plastic bags, but 20 cents a bag is not enough. If shoppers were charged $ 1 per bag, they might think twice and start using canvas bags, and not just at grocery stores either, but at all stores whether they be clothing, household items or electronics. Hasn’t our environment suffered enough?

Kim DeBakker, Calgary

MOREONGARDASIL

THANK YOU for doing a cover story on the HPV vaccine (“Our girls are not guinea pigs,” Health, Aug. 27). I learned last year that our provincial health department was investigating mass inoculations, and as the mother of a daughter, I had a number of concerns. I was additionally worried that any resistance to such a program would be labelled as fringe

or freakish. Your bringing attention to the concerns about such a program will hopefully help bring a more cautious approach into the mainstream.

Sandra Perrin, Edmonton

TO DATE, there is no evidence that either of the HPV vaccines have significant side effects, other than minor discomfort of short duration at the injection site. These vaccines are safe based on the vaccination of tens of thousands of women. Your article extensively cites reports from the Canadian Women’s Health Network, an organization not involved in any scientific trials and not a participant in any vaccine or cervical cancer trials. So-called medical experts from this group compare pneumococcal vaccine to HPV vaccine in terms of raising an alarm that HPV vaccination will result in other HPV strains becoming more prevalent. This comparison is inappropriate. Bacteria and viruses are as different as apples and oranges. Furthermore, regular Pap smears are an important component of regular health screening and will continue to be required with or without vaccination. Pap smears are safe, but not as effective as you suggest. Therefore, utilizing them as a sole strategy to prevent cervical cancer is less than satisfactory. In providing a safe and effective option for protection against a common sexually transmitted virus which causes cervical cancer, we are acting wisely.

Dr. Barbara Romanowski,

Clinical Professor, Division of Infectious Diseases, University of Alberta, Edmonton

AFTER READING your article on the potential dangers of Gardasil, it appears that the influence of pharmaceutical companies is so overwhelming that we will offer up a generation of youngsters in service to their profits. Have we learned no lessons from the disastrous effects of thalidomide and the synthetic estrogen diethylstilbestrol (DES)?

Laura Alper, Toronto

THIS MASS INOCULATION of young girls is an absolute abomination (“Our girls are not guinea pigs,” Health, Aug. 27). Unfortunately most people are too stupid to realize that the only winners in this inoculation extravaganza are the pharmaceutical companies.

Wilma Ferguson, Stratford, Ont.

HARPER AND THE MRS.

I AM WRITING about the letters you got for using the term “Mrs. Stephen Harper” on your Aug. 31 cover (Mail Bag, Aug. 27). One reader said it was “archaic and insulting.” I feel it was tongue-in-cheek. I do not need my journalism spoon-fed to me and I appreciate

T am in favour of charging for plastic bags, but 20 cents is not enough. If shoppers were charged $1 a plastic bag at all stores, they might think twice and use canvas.’

the approach you took. I feel a great sense of pride when I am referred to by my husband’s first and last name. In a society that does not seem to put too much emphasis on marriage, I wear my husband’s name with pride, and I surely hope that the Prime Minister’s wife does as well.

Corey Robertson (Korinne),

Leamington, Ont.

THIS CONCERNS the sour comments about Mrs. Stephen Harper. I must say I enjoyed your article. Mrs. Harper is a charming, vital, committed Canadian wife and mother. Prime Minister Harper is lucky to have her.

Joan R Mitchell, Victoria

TERRORISM AT HOME

YOUR ARTICLE on Pakistani extremism erroneously cites Toronto Muslim leader Aly Hindy as a radical (“The radicalism at our doors,” World, Aug. 27). The reality is that Hindy has consistently opposed terrorism, and plays a crucial role within the observant Muslim community of dissuading radicalized youth from turning to violence. It’s exactly this type of indiscriminate labelling that will not only miss intended targets of any proposed immigration screening, but will also exclude key individuals that play essential functions. Our best hope is to stop alienating fundamentalist Muslims like Hindy, and work with them to encourage the youth to maintain their civic responsibilities.

Abu Hanifa At-Tarantawy, Toronto

CITIZENSHIP and Immigration Canada must work hard to weed out those potential new citizens of Canada who would foster radicalism. The key to this article is the fact that even allowing small numbers of radical idealists into the country will spread their attitudes and destabilize our society. The criticism from human rights groups who say it is wrong to weed people out because of their beliefs is

perhaps the most dangerous. Our new immigrants must be told that if they commit a serious crime here they will be deported. Sue Sheldon, Edmonton

TROUBLED WATERS

I WAS INTRIGUED when I saw your piece about the New Brunswick government’s announcement regarding its plans to replace a causeway with a bridge over the Peticodiac River near Moncton (“Unplugging Canada’s worst river,” National, Aug. 27). But this is not quite a done deal. The announcement was met with many cheers. It was also met with anger and disappointment. A citizens’ group dedicated to preserving a head pond created by the causeway gates is mulling over legal action in order to force the government to cancel the project. There are also concerns that opening the river will cause environmental issues, particularly if it were to flow through the city of Moncton’s old dump along the riverbank. I’ll wait until my drive home is disrupted by construction before I believe it.

Jen Hudson, Riverview, N.B.

FEELING THE LOVE

MY EXPERIENCE WITH the Allied Network dating service was very similar to those of the people you talked to (“$2,500 to date this doofus?” Help, Sept. 3). They didn’t mention any prices over the phone, and when I was done with my initial interview, I had never had such a bad case of sticker shock in my life! Eventually, I settled on spending around $2,000 to meet four people. One of the many problems I had was that I would hear relatively little about the potential match before having to decide whether to meet them or not, and when I considered that each person I met was going to cost me one-quarter of my membership fee, I decided I was going to wait until someone I was interested in came along. The counsellors seemed to get very impatient with me. While I am sure that there are some satisfied customers out there, this service is not one I would recommend.

Paul Pancham, Ajax, Ont.

I CAN UNDERSTAND why your 42-year-old single lawyer “Diane” feels frustrated in trying to find a soulmate. “Someone puts your living room together. I figured they should put this together too.” Who knew? A suggestion: perhaps she should get her personal shopper to do the dating for her. On a positive note, I’m sure she’ll give her future mate all the love that money can buy.

Cyril Gibb, Toronto

IN PASSING

Grace Paley, 84, writer and activist. Although she penned only three shortstory collections, including The Little Disturbances of Men in 1959, their frank sexuality and irreverence made them instant hits. She was also known for antiwar activism and was an early activist for environmental issues.

Raymond Barre, 83, economist and politician. One of France’s leading economists, he was instrumental in developing the European Union’s common economic policy. The author of Economic Policy, a text still in use five decades later, he served as the nation’s prime minister under president Valéry Giscard d’Estaing from 1976 to 1981.