MAIL BAG

July 21 2008

MAIL BAG

July 21 2008

MAIL BAG

‘Stéphane Dion’s “rob Peter to pay Paul” carbon tax has to be the grandfather of all scams’

PORN REFORM

YOU TELL US THAT more and more young boys are looking at porn online (“Guess who’s watching porn,” Home, June 30). While that in itself is a tragedy for our entire society, it is also a tragedy that the experts our society consults for advice do not see this issue as a problem. Your article quotes sex therapist Robert Burgoyne, who thinks boys who look at porn are just showing a healthy curiosity, and that they could just be “hopeless romantics.” Instead of asking Burgoyne, ask any wife if it is romantic when her husband looks at porn.

Julie Lundy, Edmonton

I ALMOST LAUGHED out loud when I read that a 2004 Columbia University study found that 37 per cent of 12and 13-year-old boys view porn. All of my friends did when we were the same age, but we had to get it from under our dads’ mattresses. The only thing that has changed is the medium.

Jacob Kennedy, Belleville, Ont.

THE REASON THERE are inadequate regulations on Internet porn is because the adults who are in a position to regulate porn are users themselves. It is pointless to even think of trying to help kids avoid this problem as long as we adults are indulging ourselves. Peter Nation, Vancouver

I AM NOT HOPEFUL that Internet service providers will do much about children accessing porn. Heck, they won’t even block sites that show children subjected to rape and abuse, and those sites are criminal. Perhaps they have too many paying accounts.

Brian Rushfeldt, Calgary

WE DEFINITELY don’t need some inept government bureaucrats coming up with an Internet filter that will likely not work, come in way over budget and take several years to complete. There are already free services ('OpenDNS.com is one) that work effectively at blocking adult material and other types of content. They take a few minutes to set up on your computer or home router, can be locked with a password, require no downloads and are reliable. Parents can do their part to save their kids from porn by visiting some of these sites.

Ryan Olthof, Edmonton

YOU SAY “it’s a puzzle” that the Canadian government hasn’t got around to monitoring what children watch on the Internet. No it’s not. It’s a parent’s responsibility, not that of the state. No puzzle at all.

Frank Hilliard, Grand Forks, B.C.

THE SPUTTERING CARBON TAX

STÉPHANE DION has taken the fight for humanity’s environmental future to Stephen Harper with his plan for a carbon tax (“Stéphane Dion’s hail Mary gamble,” National, June 30). Dion proposes a tax-neutral green shift: taxing things we don’t want—pollu-

tion—and reducing taxes on things we wantincome and investment. Harper counters by accusing Dion of trying to screw Canadians. Dion is proposing a constructive, mature, alternative to the denuding of sound environmental management. Let the debate begin. Eugene Parks, Victoria

STÉPHANE DION says we should trust him on the revenue neutrality of his carbon tax proposal because it will be scrutinized by the auditor general. This is the same auditor general who routinely commented on ADscam, the Human Resources Development Canada boondoggle, the uselessness and fiscal insanity of the gun registry and many other issues during the multi-year Liberal reign of error. The Liberals didn’t listen to her then. Why should we believe that they will this time?

HOW MANY TIMES can you be called stupid before you can’t take it anymore? When any Liberal government makes a proposal about anything, all Canadians should take their money out of the bank, pack up and run for the hills. Any Canadian who believes this is not a tax grab needs a psychiatrist. Once again, Liberals are telling Canadians how stupid we are, and that as individuals we do not know how to do our part to fight climate change.

Harley Collison, Ottawa

DION’S “rob Peter to pay Paul” carbon tax has to be the grandfather of all scams.

J.F. Bailey, Crestón, B.C.

YOUR STORY on Stéphane Dion’s carbon tax states correctly that Sustainable Prosperity, a new policy research initiative, held a meeting in March that brought together academic, business and environmental leaders to discuss market-based policies to address climate change. However the article is not quite correct in saying “participants were asked not to speak about their discussions, but the conclusions ... were circulated selectively... in industry and policy circles.” In fact, the conclusions are available for anyone to read on our web site, www.sustainableprosperity.ca. This group agreed that putting a price on carbon emissions is essential for Canada to begin seriously tackling climate change, either through a carbon tax or a cap and trade system (or a combination). The key is to put a high enough economy-wide price on emissions to motivate people and companies to choose cleaner alternatives. Hopefully, as your article claims, governments are listening.

Stewart Elgie, Chair, Sustainable Prosperity, Ottawa

HEALTH AND WEALTH

IF WE WERE still wondering about the role greed has to play in American culture, Steve Maich, unwittingly or not, nailed it in his recent article about Apple CEO Steve Jobs’s health and whether investors have a right to know if he is sick (“When the personal is public business,” Business, June 30). Jobs is a truly unique individual, a real visionary and one recently humbled by his bout with pancreatic cancer. And yet we have a bunch of investors whose only concern is whether

their stock price will continue to rise. It’s a sad day when the lure of money is more important than compassion.

Les Hewitt, Calgary

GAS ATTACK

IN “THE PUZZLE of Frozen Gas” (Business, June 30), research scientist Roy Hyndman says it is unlikely that a runaway greenhouse effect could result from the evolution of methane created by releasing the gas hydrates that exist on the ocean floor. He’s missing the obvious. Gas hydrates exist right up to the pressure/temperature boundary that allows their formation. Heat the water a little and these borderline hydrates will begin to liberate their methane. More methane in the atmosphere will lead to more warming and hence more hydrates liberated. Of added concern, when a gas such as methane bubbles through sea water, it scrubs out other gases such as oxygen. No prize for guessing what this will cause.

The ice-covered Arctic Ocean reflects over 90 per cent of the radiant energy from the sun. When the Arctic Ocean is ice-free, it will absorb this energy and then it could well warm up areas outside the Arctic that will also begin to release methane. The melting of the Arctic ice is about 30 years ahead of the predictions of the most pessimistic models. What is interesting from the point of view of a disinterested observer is that these changes are likely to occur very sharply over, at most, a few years.

William Hughes-Games, Waipara, New Zealand

CULINARY CONTRETEMPS

I DO NOT FEEL that it’s right for a national magazine to single out and insult one restaurant in Canada and I do not find Jacob Richler’s article about dining out in Quebec City (“Where you’ll want to eat in Quebec,” Taste, June 30) to be at all fair to Aux Anciens Canadiens. My husband and I attended the Winter Carnival last February and, after watching the dog sled races, went to Aux Anciens Canadiens for lunch. The atmosphere, staff, and service—not to mention the food—were excellent. We ate at other restaurants in Quebec City and thoroughly enjoyed our visit, the carnival, the people and the beautiful city of Quebec.

Lenore Hogan, Connor, Ont.

FLUORESCENT SPARK

YOUR STORY ABOUT compact fluorescent light bulbs (“Light Wars,” Science, June 30) conveyed some common misconceptions. The federal and Ontario governments are phasing out inefficient lighting: there is no ban on incandescent bulbs. If new min-

imum energy performance standards can be achieved, incandescent lighting will remain available.

And although incandescent bulbs generate waste heat, they are an expensive technology for reducing home heating bills compared to increasing insulation and air sealing. This heat also causes higher air conditioning costs. Regarding the mercury content in CFL bulbs, a watch battery contains five times as much, and older home thermostats 100 times more. Although CFLs do require separate waste disposal, so do products like paint, batteries and.cleaning products. Some retailers are now collecting old CFLs for recycling and more will follow.

CFL technology has improved dramatically over the last decade. Leading manufacturers are reducing costs and improving

â‘Two pages on Angelina? Could we maybe have more coverage of Canadian Olympic athletes?’

quality. CFLs remain recommended as an energy-efficient alternative to traditional incandescent light bulbs. PeterLove, Ontario's ChiefEnergy Conservation Officer, Toronto

ISOLATING A THUG? YOU SAY ZIMBABWE'S President Robert Mugabe is a "rogue and a thug" ("The real Mugabe," Seven Days,June 30). You suggest he be isolated. What will that do? Drive up commodity prices? Incite violence? Initiate conflict for land? Make it difficult to live in Zimbabwe? This has been Zimbabwe for years, and no amount of political or eco nomic pressure will rid the country of this brutal dictator who cares for power for its own sake, and will hold onto it no matter how his people suffer. I'm not a violent per son, butT suggest that the woes of Zimbabwe wifi not be solved until Mugabe is dead and Zimbabwe's people are allowed to choose their own path in freedom. Rob Tonus, Peterborough, Ont. IN PRAISE OF McCAIN WITH THE OVERWHELMING media hype surrounding the Barack Obama campaign

and his youthful visage, it is nice to see th occasional story regarding his seemingl' forgotten opponent,John McCain, who ha not quite yet lost the election ("Not jus McBush," World, June 30). The media'

obsession with image politics and easy seduc tion by excellent speeches has made many believe Obama somehow is about to usher in a new era of change away from partisan politics, even when he has consistently tugged the party-line on every issue, completely unlike the fiercely independent-minded McCain. Having seen Obama praised and fawned over on Maclean's cover before, I am glad to see you offer some sort of bal ance in your defence of the other, less excit ing nominee. FarooqJahan, Surrey, B.C. `SUBLIME' ANGELINA IN BRIAN D. JOHNSON'S article about Ange flna Jolie ("You think raising twins scares me?" Film, July 7), he quotes Jolie telling Vanity Fair, "pregnancy makes me feel very sexy." But wait. He describes that writer as a "besotted journalist." Johnson then goes on to describe Jolie this way: "The skin

doesn't lie. Dressed in an ivory skirt, silk blouse and caramel stilettos, Jolie looked sublime." Caramel stilettos? He also said, "her intelligence came as a shock." And then you devote two pages to Angelina? Could we maybe have more coverage of Canadian Olympic athletes? Lynn Mellor, Santa Barbara, Calif A FATHERLESS CHILD IN HIS SPEECH on Father's Day in a Chicago church, Barack Obama says, "Any fool can have a child. That doesn't make you a father" ("Amen," Seven Days, June 30). I was a Hil lary Clinton fan, but reading that Obama's father left him when he was two years old moved me. Fathers do willingly walk away or die prematurely; either wayithurts beyond measurement. I was a city bus driver and am now an occasional high school teacher and both positions have given me the oppor tunity to deal with children of absentee fath ers. I can tell you that all children need a father; to me creating a fatherless child is the greatest of sins. Patrice Bédard, Windsor, Ont. CORRECTION: In its story on railway safety ("How CN's public image went off the rails," Business, July 7), Maclean's reported that Canadian National Railway Co. planned $2.5 bfflion in capital spending for 2008. In fact, the amount is $1.5 billion.

IN PASSING lohn Templeton, 95, financier. He was a pioneering mutual fund manager: from 1954 to 1992 his Templeton Growth Fund returned alucrative average 14.5 per ceni a year. Devoutly religious, he set up a US$1.5-billion charity endowment and sponsored a prize to recognize achieve ment in spiritual matters. Bob Ackles, 69, sports executive. He started as a water boy for the B.C. Lions in 1953 and rose through the ranks to become the team's general manager Although much loved in Vancouver, he left to join the NFL in 1986. Ackles re turned to Canada in 2002 to success fully rebuild the debt-ridden and largely ignored B.C. Lions.