MAIL BAG

MAIL BAG

January 14 2008
MAIL BAG

MAIL BAG

January 14 2008

MAIL BAG

‘You certainly covered the gamut from winners [like Sarah Polley] to twits. Kudos to all.’

BLOWOUT OF THE YEAR

KUDOS TO ALL who had a hand in the special edition (Newsmakers ’07, Dec. 17). You certainly covered the gamut from disasters, winners, losers, feuds, twits and oops, each and every section truly interesting. It was a massive effort and, as a long-time subscriber, I would like to offer my thanks for great reading.

Nancy Flynn, Toronto

A REGULAR ISSUE of Maclean’s normally takes me 10 half-hour bus trips to and from work to read. This so-called double issue took me only six trips. It was so full of irrelevant articles and banal comments that it made People and US magazines look interesting and even slightly intelligent. At least the timing was right, the 14 other trips on the bus allowed me to work on my Christmas lists.

Christian Dylla, Orleans, Ont.

THANK YOU so much for that wonderful special edition: what a blowout! I was particularly impressed with John Fraser’s article on Conrad Black, your newsmaker of the year. No one is all bad, I guess.

Pat Irwin Lycett, Orono, Ont.

IT WAS INTERESTING to read this in John Fraser’s article—“The problem is the man doesn’t think he has done anything wrong, or at least not so wrong that he deserves to go to prison.” Here I thought that it was the justice system that decided whether someone was a criminal and should go to jail. I did not realize that Black himself had any say in the decision. It just doesn’t make sense. Here we have an ordinary citizen like Robert Latimer who has been denied bail for refusing to be remorseful for relieving his daughter of her pain and suffering, while at the same time we have the not-so-ordinary Lord Black who may possibly stay out of jail on the very same grounds.

Julie McDonald, Mississauga, Ont.

I THINK the peasants are getting far too much pleasure from his lordship’s downfall. Conrad and his missus may be obnoxious social climbers, but the schadenfreude over their troubles is way over the top. The lefties are disappointed that Black didn’t get 10 to 20, while his supporters feel he should

have been let off with a fine. I would have saved taxpayers a few bucks by sentencing Black to a year’s day-labour in a Chicago soup kitchen. This would have enabled the pompous one to live in his usual luxurious style by night, while catering to the destitute by day. Rubbing shoulders with the hoi polloi might have given him a fresh view of the real world.

William Bedford, Toronto

BLACK IS MORE intelligent, better educated and generally superior to the rest of us. I wouldn’t argue that. But it is also true that Black is going to prison and I’m not.

T. W. Gossen, Innisfil, Ont.

HOW COULD YOU neglect to include Dofasco’s merger with Arcelor and subsequent takeover by Mittal? It’s a shame that Maclean’s can mention something as trivial as Al Sharpton’s remote connection with Strom Thurmond, but not the loss of nationality of one of Canada’s manufacturing giants.

Andrew Lymes, Burlington, Ont.

AMONG THE 14 PEOPLE whose pictures appeared on the cover of your newsmakers issue, four were women, one of whom was not an actress. Why must I turn to the comebacks section to see a picture of Benazir Bhutto, who is risking her life in pursuit of democracy? I urge you to consider whether your cover is a true reflection of the roles women play around the world.

Alexander Young, Toronto

FREEDOM OF SPEECH

ONCE AGAIN, Andrew Coyne is right on the money (“Got a complaint? Call 1-800-HumanRights,” Opinion, Dec. 17). The actions of several human rights commissions opening investigations on Maclean’s speaks to the insane lengths this country has gone to thwart even mild expressions of free speech. All one needs is a well-developed sense of outrage, a fringe interest group to take up the cudgels and make a lot of noise, and presto, we have a human rights investigation. When Alan Borovoy, longtime general counsel of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, criticizes human rights commissions for stifling freedom of speech, we know it’s time to rein them in.

George Fleischmann, Toronto

I FEEL COMPELLED to subscribe now, as a sign of moral and financial support, while you battle the complaints filed against you by the Canadian Islamic Congress. Regardless of whether one agrees or disagrees with Mark Steyn’s article “Why the future belongs to Islam,” excerpted in your magazine on Oct. 23, 2006, from his book America Alone, or your decision to publish it, the use of a quasijudicial body to suppress freedom of speech is an appalling disgrace. The right to free speech is, and always will be, more important than the right not to be offended, and I believe all freedom-loving Canadians should stand with you in this.

Greg Rose, Ottawa

I’M ECSTATIC that Maclean’s is finally being held accountable for the contents of its publication. I previously attributed such articles as “Why the future belongs to Islam” to a slanted, hate-filled reporting staff, but it appears as if the hatred seeps right to the top. The reason we have laws against hate speech is that it inevitably causes hate crimes. As a law student, I won’t forget how the magazine attempted to tarnish the name of my profession as well, and I’m sure that during the course of my professional career, I will make it a point to hold it accountable.

Omar Ha-Redeye, LL.B. candidate, University of Western Ontario, London, Ont.

IT’S BECOMING more and more obvious that we are slowly losing our freedom of speech because of our intense desire to maintain a strict political correctness and to offend

nobody. I have yet to see an article written that could not offend someone. Freedom of speech should include the freedom to offend, as long as it is done graciously, sensitively, and with truth as the highest priority. Herman Salomons, Red Deer, Alta.

THE CIC’S COMPLAINT to human rights commissions is proof that we in the West lack the strength to resist Islam. This is indeed the thin edge of the wedge. We are too busy trying to accommodate the Muslims when we should be confronting them about their intolerance, their bigotry and their misogyny. I have written to the Canadian Human Rights Commission expressing my desire that it dismiss the CIC’s assertions regarding Steyn’s article. I doubt it will. The bureaucrats on these commissions are too politically correct. I wish you luck in your fight against the CIC for free speech and urge you not to give in to self-censorship.

Richard John Purvis, Toronto

PLACING LIMITS on free speech is a slippery slope, but that is not the only issue in play here. There is often a fine line that is crossed between opinion and hate propaganda and our laws need to reflect this more effectively. Where do we draw the line? When a group of people is harassed or when someone is beaten? How about killed? When your writer Andrew Coyne sits on a high horse spouting the ideals of free speech, he doesn’t stop and think about the consequences of his words. The CIC, while maybe overzealous in this case, is just trying to fight the ever-growing tide of hate propaganda messages that flood the media daily.

Lauren Demaree, Windsor, Ont.

MESSAGES FOR AMIEL

BEING ABLE to bask in Conrad’s billions perhaps affords Barbara Amiel the time to whim-

sically muse on the timelessness of the handwritten letter while sniffing her $2,000 cuff for $5,000 perfume to block out the pong of her flustered contempt for the typed letter (“ ‘Thanks for dinner’ just doesn’t count,” Opinion, Dec. 3). And while, in fact, I do agree wholeheartedly with Amiel about moronic modern Internet abbreviations and the undying beauty and charm of a letter written in cursive, at its root what matters is the impact and emotion of the message being written, no matter what the medium. Her callous, patronizing view is short-sighted and out of touch. Email is just putting to use the advantages of today’s technology. Do you think the Mitford sisters would’ve chiselled their letters in stone rather than use pen and paper because it was more rustic?

Russ Cooper, Cranbrook, B.C.

I COULD NOT HELP but see parallels between Barbara Amiel’s article about the Israeli condition and the propaganda spouted by the Israel lobby in the U.S., in which any person who opposes Israel is labelled anti-Semitic (“Flickering lights, burning bravely in the dark,” Opinion, Dec. 17). This gives Israel and its supporters carte blanche to commit gross human rights abuses against Palestinians, and is used to delegitimize criticism of the state itself. Why is it that Israel is immune from this kind of criticism when other states are not? Perhaps it is because Israel is not a legitimate state at all, and its supporters find comfort in being able to shield themselves from the slings and arrows of critical thought when they equate this attack with Jew-hating.

Lindsay Blackwell, Waterloo, Ont.

NOT-SO-GOLDEN IN B.C.

BEFORE CHRISTENING Gordon Campbell Canada’s most popular premier (Gordon Campbell makes a U-turn,” National, Dec.

‘The booming economy in British Columbia does not reflect Premier Gordon Campbell’s actions, but rather high commodity prices and a continued Vancouver real estate boom driven by immigration’

10), you might have checked with a few British Columbians, many of whom have a different opinion. The booming B.C. economy does not reflect Campbell’s actions, but rather high commodity prices and a continued Vancouver real estate boom driven by immigration. The resulting tax largesse is being spent on the Olympics and associated mega-projects aimed squarely at supporting business in the Vancouver area. These have driven up costs of construction for badly needed housing and stifled industrial development in other parts of the province, whose needs are largely ignored by Campbell’s government, even as their economies wither. Yes, Campbell did cut provincial tax rates, a real saving for upper-income earners, but B.C.’s tax laws continue to discriminate against those who most need help. Tax brackets are lower and deductions for students and the elderly are substantially less, and pharmacare deductibles absorb a disproportionate share of lower incomes. Campbell’s apparent progress on native land claims is tempered by critics’ concerns for both the high cost and the type of powers being transferred. Even Campbell’s vision of free enterprise is a selective one, with taxpayer money supporting the fabulously expensive Vancouver Convention Centre (a boondoggle that would shame even the NDP), while an essential ferry system that (mis)serves almost a million residents is left struggling to pay its own way. If Campbell survives the next election it will be more a comment on the hopelessness of his opponents than on the effectiveness of his government in serving the majority of British Columbians.

R. Gary McCaig, Port Alberni, B.C.

ROCK ’N’ ROLL CLASSROOM

HAVING GROWN UP in the radio era and using ’60s and ’70s pop music in my English classes, I enjoyed immensely Brian D. Johnson’s engaging article on old rock stars striving to save the airwaves (“Rockin’ the radio,” Music, Dec. 17). I too used to huddle around the radio and listen to Alan Freed from WINS New York, or Peter Tripp play the hit parade every night on WNEW New York. How intriguing to see how current DJs like Randy Bachman are using today’s technology to bring back the oldies. I don’t believe such celebrities are wallowing in nostalgia, but are making us aware of pop culture and

its continuing impact. Today when we listen to Steven Van Zandt or Bachman, we are not only hearing the oldies, but dancing (in our minds) around the gym again. I am not surprised that Van Zandt plans to put rock ’n’ roll on America’s high-school curriculum. Using the poetry of the Beatles was the only way I could reach my high-school students. Bernard J. Callaghan, Charlottetown

ALLEGATIONS OF SCANDAL

IT IS AN EXCRUCIATINGLY painful stretch to think that a man of Brian Mulroney’s experience did not understand that taking cash payments from a sketchy foreign operator was stupid (“Why did so many trust this man?” National, Dec. 17). Is it really possible that he needed the money so badly he was willing to risk taking it from a sleazy guy like Karlheinz Schreiber? Mulroney insists he didn’t do anything illegal. But I gotta tell ya, from where the rest of us are sitting, something sure stinks out loud.

Mary-Jo Maur, Kingston, Ont.

I DON’T KNOW what people are thinking about when they complain about the cost of getting to the bottom of the Schreiber/Mulroney affair. We have little enough confidence now with our elected representatives and the notion or even the suspicion that they don’t obey the rules and regulations is quite sickening. To whine about the cost and say the investigations should be stopped makes as much sense as saying that the cost of prosecuting Robert Pickton is a waste of money. Jim Drew, Ladysmith, B.C.

IN THE STORY on the far reach of Schreiber in Canada, your writers say that in 1983, the man poured money into the dump Joe Clark campaign, and that, at a Tory party gathering, Clark received a lacklustre vote of confidence from the party. An endorsement of 66.9 per cent was hardly lacklustre. The story further states that Clark was forced, thereafter, to call a leadership convention. If memory serves, it was Clark and presumably his advisers who decided that mandate was insufficient and chose to seek a higher level of support at a full convention. Nobody forced Joe to do anything.

L.B. Simpson, Willowdale, Ont.