MAIL BAG

July 7 2008

MAIL BAG

July 7 2008

MAIL BAG

OFFSIDE AND OFF TUNE

I WAS ONE of the slack-jawed hockey fans Charlie Gillis referred to in his excellent article about the Hockey Night in Canada theme song (“Dumb-da-dumb-da-dumb!” Sports, June 23). Its composer, Dolores Claman, deserves every dime she can get for this valuable tune. The sheer arrogance, lack of vision and dismissive attitude of CBC Sports executive director Scott Moore and other CBC brass is astounding. I watched Moore trying to explain why the theme would no longer be played. While he was at it, he pointed out that Canada’s national broadcaster would not be at the Olympics and the CFL would go to another network. We’re not to worry though, as Moore proudly pointed out that we could all tune in for figure skating. Now I’m wondering why I would need to tune in at all.

Leonard Taylor, Cambridge, Ont.

‘If Dolores Claman had the pride of a true Canadian, she’d donate the Hockey Night theme’

KUDOS TO the CBC for not bending to extortion. If Dolores Claman had the integrity and sense of fairness and national pride of a true Canadian, she would have donated her tune to the CBC as a national legacy. She has already received hundreds of thousands of dollars for it over the years. Shame on CTV for purchasing her selfishness.

Harvey B. Sarnat, Calgary

HERE’S A SUGGESTION: at the opening home game of the Leafs in the 2008-2009 season, the entire arena should break out in song with the familiar HNIC refrain if CBC won’t air it. I dare Torontonians to do it! What’ll Claman do, take 20,000 people to court?

Donald Blair, Toronto

THE HNIC THEME controversy shows once again the incredible incompetence of the CBC minions and their handlers. In the past they have put a stake in heart of the CBC radio orchestra, pulled the plug on informative, intelligent programming in favour of mindless quiz shows, and failed to properly fund Canadian-made drama. Now the Harper government is flirting with ways to control content through Bill ClO. Gosh! One might think that this is all a war of attrition to see the privatization of “Canada’s Voice.” In spite of the recent brouhaha, CBC radio and television is intelligent and informative and is recognized internationally. It greatly influences national identity and holds a steady mirror up to national and world events. It is something that every Canadian must fight to keep.

Bob Lewis, Maple Bay, B.C.

CBC HAS COMMITTED a gross misconduct toward both the Canadian people and their heritage in its decision to ice the Hockey Night theme. CBC is attempting to replace the irreplaceable. Why don’t they facilitate the additional dropping of the Canadian flag or the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms? I suggest the producers find a diction-

ary and define “icon,” “sacrosanct,” “trust,” and “responsibility.” CBC should reinstate the theme and drop executive producers, starting with Scott Moore.

Rina Gulli, Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.

YOUR ARTICLE MISSED the biggest fiasco of all: giving Don Cherry a continued presence! I switch channels every time he comes on, and I’m in the “older” crowd that is supposed to appreciate him.

Edward Oke, Olds, Alta.

IT’S NOT ABOUT THE SONG, or Don Cherry, or the Toronto Maple Leafs—although it could well be about the dedicated and inexplicable admiration shared among the three. It’s about a strategy at CBC that seeks an audience that is not well-defined and may not even exist. The song is grand but it is just a song; change your phone ring and you’ll soon get tired of hearing it. Here’s how you get more people to watch CBC’s HNIC. Keep Ron MacLean and his panel in the second period break. In the first period break, let Ron talk to someone who has something to say to “all you kids out there,” someone like former hockey pro Kelly Hrudey. Drop Don Cherry and playby-play man Bob Cole—neither speaks the language well and they are not good role models. Get someone who calls the game that’s being played, not the one in his mind. Show us games from real contenders in the NHL rather than so many Toronto games. It’s not rocket science, so why is CBC losing ground in both radio and TV?

Rose-Marie Batley, Ottawa

THERE I WAS on a sunny day about to enjoy a fabulous breakfast until I reached for my favourite magazine and saw the cover! My wish beyond all hope has always been that Cherry would find God and join an order of cloistered monks somewhere in Italy for the next 50 years but no, he ends up on your cover. Could you not have put a pic of a smiling Ron MacLean instead?

Normand Shearer, Waterloo, Que.

MAYBE CBC COULD deduct a few dollars from the salary of Don Cherry, with his voice like a squawking saxophone, to pay the fee for the full, rich brass sound of the HNIC theme. There is more collective memory evoked in that music than it might realize.

Paul Grady, Toronto

IN A PHOTO CAPTION, Maclean’s says that “Don Cherry’s open support for the Maple Leafs rankles fans outside Ontario.” The implication? Either there are no other NHL teams in Ontario, or the fans of those teams are not rankled by Cherry’s open support of the Leafs. Should Ottawa Senators’ fans not be rankled by Maclean’s ignorance of their team’s existence or, alternatively, by Maclean’s assumption that Cherry’s support for the Leafs doesn’t bother Sens’ fans?

Bob Morris, Ottawa

HOW HOSPITALS MAKE US SICK

BLAMING THE DESIGN of hospitals for the spread of contamination is letting the administration off easy (“Death traps,” Health, June 23). One administrator in Nicholas Kohler’s article mentioned cutting down on cleaning

staff to save money. Hospitals are no longer clean, nor are they inspected on a daily basis by a competent head nurse or administrative staff. This should be a priority. Available sinks and private rooms with separate toilets are the ultimate solution. But private rooms for everyone is not going to happen any time soon, and even that will not suffice if cleaning is not done properly. In the interim, we need to clean up our hospitals and not skimp on cleaning costs. It is no wonder patients are getting sick. Hospitals need to clean up their act in more ways than one.

Connie Atkinson, Collingwood, Ont.

MORE WAR PROPAGANDA

HERE’S HOW THINGS LOOK in Afghanistan (“Not a pretty picture,” National, June 23). On the one hand, we have the reality: brutality increasing exponentially, crippling corruption and squandered aid money. On the other hand, we have Canada’s feel-good “signature projects”: to build or upgrade 50 schools, to provide clean water from a refurbished dam, and to immunize Afghan children against polio. You ask whether the feelgood projects are part of a real solution or a distraction from the appalling reality. John Geddes’s article makes the grim picture abundantly clear. The feel-good projects don’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell of succeeding in that fractious patchwork that is Afghanistan. They do serve the purpose of war propaganda: making military personnel feel that they are accomplishing something worthwhile in putting their lives on the line, and justifying to Canadians that our government’s decision to remain in Afghanistan is sound.

Ian R. Stewart, Fredericton IT SURE ISN’T a pretty picture. The question now is how did it get that way and how do we make it prettier? Are we going to throw more good billions after bad billions? We didn’t start this war and we didn’t create the upheaval. The Russians, Americans and the gung-ho English should bear the burden of this conflict. I would agree to humanitarian aid, helping to build schools and food programs. Otherwise, I would get out of there as fast as possible. Too many of our soldiers have come home in coffins.

WalterMatle, Brampton, Ont.

DIRTY POLITICS

I WAS DISAPPOINTED with your article about the La Chureca landfill in Managua, Nicaragua (“Talking trash,” World, June 23). The situation in La Chureca was caused by members of the Sandinista central government, which is in conflict with Managua’s Mayor Dionisio Marenco. Marenco has recently distanced himself from the Sandinista President Daniel Ortega. The crisis in La Chureca was orchestrated to discredit Marenco. The main issue was that garbage with recycling value was being selected and taken out by the garbage collectors before it was deposited in La Chureca where the poorest of the poor try to make a living. People loyal to the central government, and who never worked at La Chureca, were spearheading the protest, threatening to stone the garbage collectors if they tried to deposit garbage in La Chureca. Marenco asked for police intervention to restore order. President Ortega admitted he had ordered the police not to act. It didn’t matter to him that garbage was accumulating on city streets and schoolyards, and that there was potential for epidemics. Thankfully, Elena Montobbio, who heads the Spanish International Cooperation Agency, has made it clear that this or any other political problem won’t endanger the plan the government of Spain has for La Chureca.

Maria M. Pineda, Hamilton

WHAT’S NEXT? SHEEP BURPS?

WITH OIL the way it is, any government suggesting a tax is suicidal (“Coming clean: what Dion needs to tell us,” Opinion, June 23). I must say I am sick of taxes. A carbon tax will only benefit the rich. Ordinary people can’t afford it because we are taxed to death and then some. I have visited Toronto twice in the past six months and nowhere have I found office lights turned off at night. I’m sure if Maclean’s checked its building the same is true. It seems the small communities adhere to the conservation plan only to be negated by the large cities. Come on guys, don’t just spout bulls-t, get with the program.

Angus Blaise Gillis, New Waterford, N.S.

‘In New Zealand, the burps of sheep and cattle are a major source of greenhouse gases1

I’VE READ Andrew Coyne’s column a number of times and am still not sure what a carbon tax is or should be. Carbon is ubi-

quitous on planet earth. Except for water and hydrogen, everything we eat, drink or combust contains carbon. Now that asbestos suits and iron chastity belts have gone out of fashion, the same can be said about the clothes we wear. Should everything containing carbon be taxed? Please note that Canadians’ “bovine” response to new ideas is greatly exceeded in New Zealand, where the burps of sheep and cattle are a major source of greenhouse gases. It is proposed that livestock farmers pay a tax if they exceed government-imposed limits on greenhouse gases. The farmers are not amused. Let’s stop using the term carbon tax until there is some consensus on what it means.

William Armstrong, Ottawa

A VOTE’S A VOTE

REGARDING Andrew Potter’s column on political attack ads (“Negative ads don’t deserve such a bad rap,” Opinion, June 23), my own reaction to negative ads is to be inclined to vote for another party. I find that attack ads present half-truths. To me, the underlying message of the party using them is: we aren’t giving you, the voter, the whole picture, but if you are too indifferent, lazy, or stupid to get the whole truth, our party may as well have your uninformed vote as any of the other parties. Contrary to Potter’s opinion, I don’t see how this would “enhance democratic dialogue.”

G.H. Fraser, Ottawa

VAN LOAN’S FAN CLUB

In your article on Peter Van Loan (“The man who ate question period,” National, June 23), you forgot to add one very significant detail— Van Loan fights tenaciously and successfully for his constituents. The voters of York-Simcoe are aware of this fact.

T.W. Gossen, Innisfil, Ont.

SENT TO THE BLACKBOARD

YOUR FLIPPANT COMMENT about the preference of parents for home-schooling instead of sending their children to regular public schools is outrageous and a massive insult to the tens of thousands of teachers across this land (“Teacher trouble,” Seven days, June 23). I have been a proud schoolteacher for 31 years. The vast majority of us (probably 100 per cent) work hard to make excellent educational experiences for our students and do so in a caring, professional way. And you imply that many of us are mean-spirited, drunken murderers?

John Caldwell, St. Lambert, Que.

CAN WE SEE SOME ID?

SO TALK OF RAISING the drinking age in Ontario to 21 is “Good News” (“Drunk ’n’ disorderly,” Seven days, June 23)? All this does is create a problem of underage binge drinking and fake IDs. Young people will always find ways to get alcohol. Take it from someone who just turned 19, raising the drinking age will just drive people to drink in unsafe environments. Plus, 18to 20-yearolds can vote, fight in a war, go to jail and gamble away their money, but can’t have a beer? The real solution to this problem is to educate young people on the dangers of drinking, as well as drinking and driving.

David Burr, Ottawa

TALKING SHOP

IT WAS INTERESTING to read the article by Colin Campbell about the California connection to electric cars (“The new capital of cars?”, Business, June 23). However, I was very disappointed that Toronto-based Zenn Cars was not mentioned in the article. I realize the article was about the Silicon Valley similarity to electronics, but with a viable electric car manufacturer in Canada, we should promote it whenever possible. If the ultracapacitors being designed for Zenn by EEStor are anywhere near as good as promised, then the companies you mentioned will never be more than bit players.

Don Mahony, Milton, Ont.

IN PASSING

George Carlin, 71, comedian. A more conventional comic when he first began performing in the 1960s, he subsequently developed an anti-establishment persona. His skit “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television” led to a legal case that went to the Supreme Court, which ruled that content on public airwaves could be prohibited if children might hear it.

Kermit Love, 91, costumer. He worked with ballet giants such as George Balanchine, but his greatest fame came as the designer, along with Jim Henson, of Sesame Street characters like Big Bird. Love, who played Willy the Hot Dog Man on the show, said his name had nothing to do with that of the famous frog.