MAIL BAG

MAIL BAG

March 3 2008
MAIL BAG

MAIL BAG

March 3 2008

‘Let’s see. Coyne talks about the economy. Wells, foreign relations. And Amiel—her puppy?’

MAILBAG

SEXISM—AGAINST MEN

AS A MOTHER OF TWO intelligent, handsome young sons who attend universities in Ontario, I have observed first-hand what can only be perceived as discrimination against the male gender when it comes to the promotion of post-secondary and graduate education in this country (“Maclean’s 2008 University Student Issue,” Cover, Feb. 18). Your article not only features an attractive young female on the cover, but inside there are many more pictures of happy young women than men. Give us a break. The overt cultural push to promote professional, graduate and postsecondary studies for females in the past 20 years, to the detriment of males, must be moderated. Are males no longer viewed as suitable candidates? Interesting times we live in.

Susan Foulds, Nipigon, Ont.

WHEN I RECEIVED the Feb. 18 edition, I went online and looked at your back issues for the past two years and realized that if your covers are any indication of campus demographics, our university populations are almost completely comprised of young white women. Images like these ensure that disenfranchised youth fail to see themselves represented positively in the national media. I usually try not to over-interpret the meanings embedded in imagery; however, this is beyond coincidence.

A. Gordon Shadrach, Primary Media Literacy/Computer Teacher, Kingsview Village Junior School, Etobicoke, Ont.

I WONDER WHERE the other students are? The overweight; the ones who wear Cokebottle glasses; the kids who are having a badhair day? Is it simply that sex sells at the newsstands?

Murray Mills, Pugwash, N.S.

MEDICINE MEANS MONEY

I READ WITH GREAT interest your story about genetic testing and why people can’t have access to treatment that would help them (“The best medicine you can’t have,” Business, Feb. 18). The fact that Canada has only 245 medical geneticists compared with 450 plastic surgeons is astonishing. When I read the next article in that issue on breast enhancement (“Seeking funds to expand,” Society) and noted the amount of money a plastic

surgeon can make, it became logical that the issue is money.

In my opinion, we need a national dialogue on medicare with a frank discussion on a payas-you-go system. My only caveat is that if doctors opt out of the social welfare system and charge for their services, they cannot bill medicare. Furthermore, when I hear people and the press say we have a free health care system, I see red. We all pay dearly for our health care through our taxes.

Bernard Smith, Walkerton, Ont.

DOG AND CRONY SHOW

Let’s see, in the Feb. 18 issue, Andrew Coyne is talking about the false value of government intervention in the economy, Paul Wells is discussing how far our foreign relations abilities have fallen and Barbara Amiel is talking about—her new puppy (“I lie in bed, the photo of ‘Jonas’ taped to my door,” Opinion)? When there is a hotly contested U.S. presidential race, a political battle over Canada’s future role in Afghanistan and a host of other important topics, why is she given space to ramble on about something that has absolutely no substance or bearing on anyone’s life? I really don’t want to accuse her of having this column because of who she is, or is married to, but come on!

Tyler Waddell, Toronto

BARBARA AMIEL’s column has gone to the dogs.

Angela Trope, Toronto

YOU SHOULD CONSIDER giving Amiel’s column to young people of not-so-wealthy means, who could share their daily lives with us. That would be more informative than an article on pampered pets!

Faye Ingrey, Gatineau, Que.

WHAT A SHAME that so many people feel the need to burn Barbara Amiel at the stake. I believe there are many people who are envious; so envious that they constantly need to criticize anything and everything. Amiel’s writing is daring, provocative and never boring. And while she may call herself an old woman at 67, she is the perfect example of what most of us wished we could be. Madelon Keij, South Surrey, B.C.

WOW! Barbara Amiel is 67? She looks great! William Reid, Thamesford, Ont.

CANADA’S WAR EFFORT

AS AN AMERICAN living in Canada I found your commentary on the situation in Afghanistan perplexing (“Putting hard-earned experience to work,” From the Editors, Feb. 4) and if I were not better informed, I would assume from reading it that Canada was the only military force of any consequence fighting in Afghanistan. Clearly that is not the case.

Canada does have a very important role to play in Afghanistan as part of a much larger effort that includes 43,250 NATO-led international troops under the command of ISAF—15,000 of them from the U.S. This is not to mention the tens of thousands of Afghan troops that have been trained and are now actively taking part in operations.

Canada has 2,500 troops in Afghanistan; the United States has more than 26,000 troops there. Plus the U.S. has just announced that it will commit an additional 3,200 troops for a seven-month tour.

It is true that Canadian troops are located in southern Kandahar province, a dangerous area. However the British, Americans, Australians and Dutch are also fighting in southern Afghanistan. Recent figures indicate that there have been 78 Canadian military deaths, but the Americans have suffered 483, and the British 87, which suggests that they are also taking on a lot of the dangerous fighting.

The international operation in Afghanistan is a shared effort (which arguably needs

to be shared with more of our NATO allies). However, if Canadians were more aware of the sacrifices of other nations, especially those forces fighting side by side with Canadians, they would be more willing to listen to the long-term recommendations of the Manley report.

Robert Frerck, Quebec

AM I THE ONLY CANUCK who’s embarrassed by our politicians begging NATO leaders to contribute 1,000 troops to our Afghanistan mission? Our fathers, grandfathers and greatgrandfathers numbered 600,000 in the First World War, a million in the Second World War and tens of thousands in Korea, so why can’t we come up with 1,000 more soldiers on our own until the end of our initial commitment in 2009?

GregJ. Edwards, Delta, B.C.

DYNASTY: THE REAL DEAL

THE BUSH FAMILY and the Clintons have been in charge of the U.S. for the past 20 years (“Why the Clintons shouldn’t be president,” World, Feb 18). They both have treated the presidency as a torch to be handed on. The country needs a break. America is in desperate need of fresh blood; a visionary, a leader, not a mocking bird. Barack Obama and Mike

Huckabee appear to be different from the pack. Neither strikes me as outstanding, but they each seem to have the courage to turn America back toward its glory days; neither Hillary Clinton nor John McCain would do that.

Jacob Kasperowicz,

Kirkland, Que.

ALTERNATIVE SCHOOL

After hearing a lot of misinformation about the proposed “Africentric Alternative School” by the Toronto District School Board, I found it quite refreshing to read Maclean’s editorial on the matter (“Choice in education,” From the Editors, Feb. 18). The fact is the TDSB currently has 40 alternative schools, elementary and secondary, listed on its website. It includes schools for students interested in the arts, for Aboriginal students, for gay and lesbian ones, French immersion and so on. The board is simply suggesting another alternative school.

Thanks, too, for using the phrase “choice

improves performance.” I have been quite boggled by the politicizing of the proposal. Irrespective of whether the failure problem among black students stems from negative school environments or societal factors, does it not behoove us to do something to fix the problem, especially since there are Canadian and American examples that alternative schools work?

Erma Collins, Markham, Ont.

‘My doctor told me to buy your magazine and read the piece on the SpineCor brace. Without your article, I never would have known about it.’

RIDING FOR A FALL

ED STELMACH HAS TAKEN an economy that was the pride of Canada, an economy that was one of the best in the world, an economy that was paying the bills for federal spending throughout Canada and ruined it after his short year as the provincial leader in Alberta (“Are Alberta’s Tories out of gas?” National, Feb. 18). With the huge cuts in mineral land sales, cuts in reinvestment and layoffs taking place in Alberta due to Stelmach’s decisions, the rest of Canada needs to expect a large decrease in transfer payments from Alberta to Quebec and other provinces that are not lucky enough to have the vast resources we have in Alberta.

Stelmach is doing some backpedalling, however, I feel it is too little too late for two reasons: foreign investors now believe there is a risk premium to investing in Alberta as they see a government that has gone back on its word, not unlike the governments of Ecuador, Kazakhstan or Russia; and Stelmach is making changes that benefit the large companies who seem to have access to the premier behind closed doors. The real tragedy will be the small gas companies who cannot afford to drill deep gas wells (over 2,000 m) or cannot afford the land base for shallow gas resource plays. The small gas companies who have helped build this country and who have helped get Alberta out of debt are now going out of business or being forced to merge.

Joe McFarlane, Calgary

LAST WORD ON THE BRACE

I WOULD LIKE to express my heartfelt thanks to Sharon Dunn for her article on the SpineCor brace (“Amazing brace,” Health, Feb. 4), as well as my family doctor, George Thornhill, for advising me to buy the magazine and read the article. I have suffered with scoliosis for over 45 years. This brace will hopefully keep me on my feet and in much less pain. I went to the SpineCor website and discovered that the brace is now available in Canada, to both adolescents and adults, and I’m assuming this is due to the dust that Dunn stirred up doing the research for her article. So again, thank you, Sharon. Without your article I would never have known about the brace. I have been in touch with the co-inventor Dr. Charles Hilaire Rivard and he has referred me to Dr. Louise Marcotte (also in Montreal), who will be fitting me with the brace. This brace will give hope and relief to thousands of scoliosis sufferers who, like me, refused surgery, but could only look forward to getting more crippled with age.

Charlotte Fowler, Grand Bay-Westfield, N.B.

IN PASSING

Kon Ichikawa, 92, filmmaker. Working with his screenwriter wife, Natto Wada, he made some of Japan’s most highly regarded postwar films, including The Burmese Harp, a rare expression of Japanese regret over the Second World War. He also created Tokyo Olympiad in 1965, considered by critics to be a milestone in documentary filmmaking.

Val Ross, 57, journalist and author. After several years at Maclean’s, she worked at the Globe and Mail—most recently as an arts reporter—and won a National Newspaper Award in 1992. The award-winning children’s book author (The Road to There) had recently been working on an oral history of Robertson Davies.