MAIL BAG

‘When a parent starts dating, it may take a year for the children to accept it, never mind agree’

March 10 2008
MAIL BAG

‘When a parent starts dating, it may take a year for the children to accept it, never mind agree’

March 10 2008

‘When a parent starts dating, it may take a year for the children to accept it, never mind agree’

MAIL BAG

WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE

I BELIEVE THAT more victims of crime should make their experience known to the public and thank Dan Hill for his article about his teenage son’s dangerous friends in Maclean’s (“Every parent’s nightmare,” Society, Feb. 25). It so movingly presents an ugly side of Toronto—the feral youth gangs who bring robbery, intimidation, injury and death to all levels of the city’s society. In dealing with them, the Youth Criminal Justice Act of2003, designed “to strike a balance between the rights and responsibility of the young person and the rights of the community to be protected,” appears to be as ineffective as the Young Offenders Act it replaced. This legislation claims to offer improvements on the Juvenile Delinquents Act of 1908, and while it doubtless provides more humane treatment of young criminals, its application offers society in general less protection than was available a century ago.

The adult justice system appears to be no better. It gave David Hill’s friend Eric Boateng, a youth justice graduate, a revolving door while he continued his criminal career. It also permitted inmates of the Don Jail to continue their intimidation of the Hill family from within its walls. The Hill family deserved better. We all deserve better. Those responsible for our justice system should be ashamed.

Michael Algar, Toronto

DAN HILL is a guy who put his career above his family and now he drones on about what a hellish experience he went through. Hill, unlike many others caught up in a similar situation, had the financial means to move to a less violent area in Canada, but his answer was to stay in Toronto and ship his son away for two years. Shame on him.

Stephen Weber, Cowichan Bay, B.C.

HORROR AND RELIGION

MIDDLE EAST EXPERT Graham Fuller’s comment that “almost all the real horrors of the 20th century—Franco, Mussolini, Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, Mao Zedong—had nothing to do with religion” overlooks, to name a few examples, the Vatican’s treaties with Mussolini and Hitler, both of which furthered the horrific causes of these monsters; the murder of millions of Jews; decades of state-sanctioned and terrorist-related murders in the

Middle East and Ireland; two eras of mass murder in Serbia, both of which had direct ties to religious affiliation; and the lack of resistance and, in many cases, outright assistance of Rwandan Catholic church officials in the slaughter of the Tutsi people (Interview, Feb. 25). In considering Fuller’s CIA credentials, I am reminded that there is no greater oxymoron than “government intelligence.” Brian Smith, Toronto

I HAVE JUST READ and reread the interview with Graham Fuller. It is time to tell it like it is, as Ayaan Hirsi Ali did in her book Infidel,

which should be required reading for all government officials. At 47,1 accepted a one-year contract in Saudi Arabia. As a single female living under sharia law 24-7, it was a very long year. At 67,1 feel no need to be politically correct, but I do feel a great need to speak out to my fellow Canadians in the hope that they will stop worrying about appearing to be racist and instead worry about the future of their grandchildren.

Fay Hill, Vernon, B.C.

ALL FULLER can talk about is how bad the West and the U.S. are and how mistreated Islam is. He even goes out of his way to trash Fox News. Even CBC advertises on Fox News because it knows everyone is watching.

C.F. Hollway, Castor, Alta.

VIEWING THE FOUNDING of the State of Israel as a sop to European conscience at the

expense of Islam ignores the fact that the Jews did have a significant sovereign state in the area and that they were defeated and expelled not by the Arabs (there were no Muslims then), but by the Romans. So, choose which edge of the sword you want to use to cut this Gordian knot: Western imperialism, or aboriginal rights. The Middle East is a land with no history, only myth. If its residents ever establish a modus vivendi, it will represent a victory of mind over heart.

Marc Grushcow, Toronto

AFTER READING Andrew Coyne’s article about the Afghan mission (“Onward armchair generals, marching as to war,” Opinion, Feb. 25), it was refreshing to read that Graham Fuller, who is knowledgeable in Middle East affairs, suggests a political dialogue to end the war in Afghanistan. Andrew Lutz, Winnipeg

MOMS AND DADS ON DATES

THE ARTICLE about divorced and widowed dads dating again was an interesting read (“Hey Dad, your girlfriend’s gross,” Help, Feb. 25). Being the son of parents who divorced nine years ago, I agree with most of what was said. However, regardless of when a parent starts dating, it is likely to take a minimum of a year for the children to accept the decision, never mind agree with it. Having, a mother who dated without telling us, but not without our knowledge, for six years, I can say that it is always best to be upfront with your children about who you are seeing because it is not likely to be any easier if you wait. My mother recently became engaged, but failed to tell any of us (myself, 18, and my two brothers, 16 and 19) for two weeks after she had accepted the proposal. We were all deeply insulted by this lack of consideration.

James Moss, Oshawa, Ont.

FREE (DOWN) LOADING

LIKE MANY PUNDITS on the subject of music copyright, Andrew Potter has found a simple and wrong solution; he recommends paying for illegal music downloads by levying a tax on Internet access (“No one likes to pay for music—or much else,” Opinion, Feb. 25). There is more than music on the Internet to be downloaded, and much of it is legitimate. I refer to open source software. These programs are copyrighted by their authors, but

licensed to be freely downloaded. I do not download music, but in spite of that, when I buy blank CDs or DVDs to use strictly for computer data, I pay the tax (referred to by its apologists as a levy) to compensate artists for lost royalties.

I agree that artists should be paid for their work. It is interesting, however, to note that in all the time that the tax has been collected, it is my understanding that no artist has ever received any money. I suspect this is because the collection agency cannot figure out who should get it, or how much they should get. So the proposed scheme by Potter suffers from two major faults. First: no one can decide who gets the money. And second: many innocent downloaders will be paying a tax to subsidize the non-paying illegal downloaders. Punishment for all, for the sins of some, has been discredited. It’s time for the music industry to figure out how to sell its product to those who want it and get a fair return for the artists.

William T. Marchant, Halifax

It is unfair for artists, record labels and the like to lose revenue by people who steal music through downloading and sharing music files. However, by levying a tax on Internet access to pay for this, one is requiring everyone to pay for the music company’s failed business model. Why should I be penalized for the acts of others? Cellular phones have Internet access. So do most homes and businesses. Are we to have a tax on each of them? Should a business that deploys software to prevent people from downloading illegal music con-

tent have to pay a fee for music? We are already being unfairly penalized with things such as fees on blank CDs, which a great deal of people use for pictures and data. Although I sympathize with the music industry and the artists, I am getting tired of all the efforts to solve the problem by making everyone pay, including those who don’t download.

Bill Armstrong, Calgary

AN INCONVENIENT LAW

I AM ASTONISHED that the recent enactment of the “pay before you pump” law in British Columbia has not caused a firestorm of protest, especially in this province (“Work late, safe,” Good News, Feb. 18). This law is a clearcut example of a government meddling in an area outside its purview. It is the responsibility of democratic governments to enact laws that protect, or are in the interest of, a significant percentage of the general populace. This law protects only a minuscule fraction of the people, those who work the night shift at gas stations, and is both an annoyance and an inconvenience to everyone else. Surely it is the inherent right of individual service station owners to decide if a pay-before-purchase policy is needed in a particular area (as is common in the U.S.). What’s next on the legislative agenda of the B.C. government? Pay before you purchase supermarkets? Joseph M. Muchowski, Westbank, B.C.

TAKING A FLYER

I WOULD like to tell ACE Aviation Holdings CEO Robert Milton that, as a retired employee of Canadian Airlines, he makes me ashamed and frustrated (“Come fly with me,” Newsmakers, Feb. 25). Under his leadership he managed to destroy a fine airline, Canadian, and now he wants our government to change the rules so another national treasure, Air Canada, can be owned by outsiders? What is he thinking? I hope someone in our present government is awake and not fooled into giving away the farm.

Eric McIntosh, Surrey, B.C.

HAVING JUST returned from a trip involving many airline flights, the item about Robert Milton—in particular the mention of spinning off Air Canada’s maintenance divisionstruck a chord. I took four flights on Air Can-

‘Drug testing for marijuana only shows that a person has used it sometime over the past month. It’s ludicrous to think that someone who smoked on Saturday night is impaired on Monday.’

ada. On the first two, the sound system for the inflight entertainment didn’t work. On the third flight, my tray table fell into my lap each time the passenger ahead of me moved in his seat. On entering the plane for the fourth flight, my expectations increased because it appeared to be brand new. This optimism was short-lived. Being a red-eye

flight, soon after takeoff the main lights were turned off. Not ready to sleep (no blankets or pillows were provided), I tried to turn on my seat’s overhead light. It didn’t work. I asked the attendant how come, in a new plane, the light didn’t work? He informed me that it was not a new plane, it was a refurbished plane. Then I thought I would watch a movie on the little screen in front of me. Guess what? It wasn’t working!

During my trip I flew with Air New Zealand six times. Everything worked and the service was excellent, including the provision of blankets and pillows. As a proud Canadian, I am embarrassed and ashamed of Air Canada. Maybe there should be more focus on the service and a little less on the bottom line.

Keith Matthews, Cobourg, Ont.

CUSTER’S LAST LAST STAND

I HAVE JUST READ Peter Shawn Taylor’s story about country singer Corb Lund’s concept album, Horse Soldier! Horse Soldier! (“An Albertan rides to the rescue,” Music, Feb. 25) and I take exception to his comment about

Lt.-Col. George Armstrong Custer. Taylor refers to Custer as an obsessed lunatic out to slaughter Indians. That idea is outdated and was based on the image of the man in the film Little Big Man, which was not intended to reflect actual history. Custer was not only one of the most decorated heroes of the Civil War, but he had empathy toward Native

Americans as he indicated in his autobiography My Life On the Plains. The negative policies at the time toward the Indians came from his superiors in Washington and the railroad barons who wanted to push west. Thomas A Anderson, Victoria

DOPE AND THE PATCH

IF DRUG TESTING proved actual impairment, I would have no problem with it being used on the work site, but it does no such thing (“One toke over the line,” National, Feb. 18). Drug testing, in the case of marijuana, only shows that a person has used it sometime over the past month. As it currently sits, it is no more than an Americanized witch hunt in Canada. It is ludicrous to suggest that a person who smoked a joint on Saturday night is in any way impaired on Monday morning, but the stupidity of drug testing knows no bounds. I am not surprised to read in Chris Selley’s story that the Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission in Fort McMurray, Alta., has had a 25 per cent increase in clientele over the past 18 months, but I am sure that few, if any, of those cases

are marijuana related. Alcohol and cocaine are the drugs of choice in the oil patch and I understand that they clear the system far faster than marijuana.

Lynne Williams, Ladysmith, B.C.

A DO-NOTHING ECONOMY

I THOUGHT THAT Andrew Coyne’s column about fiscal stimulus (“The best stimulus is no stimulus at all,” Opinion, Feb.l8) was off to a good start, mostly because I agreed with his premise. Unfortunately, Coyne’s assertion that the “Harper government has been admirably unwilling to follow the Americans’ lead” in issuing a stimulus package flies in the face of the most recent unsolicited and unnecessary tax cuts. Coyne says we don’t need a deficit. In a country with a $500-billion national debt, multi-billion-dollar deficits in infrastructure such as roads, water and sewers, and housing, not to mention health care, postsecondary education, and the environment, the $12-billion tax break announced last fall is the Conservative equivalent of a stimulus package—and it too carries a heavy penalty in the long run. Over the next five years it means the government has $60 billion less to spend doing what everyone agrees needs to be done. It may be politically expedient, but it is still foolish.

Jerry Storie, Brandon, Man.

IN PASSING

Janez Drnovsek, 57, former Slovenian president. During his tenure, he led Slovenia to freedom from Yugoslavia with minimal violence, and established his country as a member of the EU and NATO. In 1999, Drnovsek was diagnosed with kidney cancer and adopted a holistic lifestyle, but more tumours grew. He wrote bestselling books about his ecological and humanitarian values.

Johnnie Carr, 97, civil rights leader. In 1955, along with her friend Rosa Parks, Carr boycotted buses in Montgomery, Ala., to protest racial segregation. Seven years later she succeeded Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. as president of the Montgomery Improvement Association. Carr had recently suffered a stroke, but she maintained the post until her death.