MAIL BAG

‘Lynn Johnston’s frankness was a nice change from the frequent trite replies of celebrities’

September 29 2008
MAIL BAG

‘Lynn Johnston’s frankness was a nice change from the frequent trite replies of celebrities’

September 29 2008

‘Lynn Johnston’s frankness was a nice change from the frequent trite replies of celebrities’

MAIL BAG

HOW SMART IS YOUR CITY?

YOUR ARTICLE about the Canadian Council on Learning’s 2008 Composite Learning Index that compared data to determine Canada’s smartest and most cultured cities ranked Quebec City as one of Canada’s least cultured cities (“Canada’s smartest cities,” Special Report, Sept. 8). Not enough culture in Quebec City? At the Plains of Abraham in July, there were 70,000 people watching Charles Aznavour, the greatest French singer still alive, and 270,000 watching Paul McCartney, the greatest British singer still alive. In August, 50,000 heard the Quebec Symphonic Orchestra play Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture and Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana. There were 100,000 watching Salvatore Adamo, Patrick Bruel and other French singers; 200,000 went out to watch Céline Dion. All that in a city of three-quarters of a million people. And I haven’t even mentioned the Louvre exhibit, which has had more than 200,000 visitors this summer, or the unbelievable “Image Mill” of the genius theatre artist Robert Lepage, the most striking art creation Canada has seen in this century. Is that enough culture for you?

Jacques Noel, Quebec City

MACLEAN’S MAY want to broaden its criteria for determining Canada’s “Most Cultured City.” I’ve lived in Calgary, which was given the top honour in this category, for 12 years and routinely see more culture in my yogourt. However notable it may be that we have a high percentage of people who spend money on museums and the arts, it certainly hasn’t translated to the everyday, street-level feeling of “culture” that one feels in many great cities in Canada and abroad. Good thing we apparently have a smart city too—maybe some people will figure out how to reduce the cultural blight of our cookie-cutter homebuying, Croc-wearing, pickup truck-driving, big-box shopping populace. Until then, please remove us from the top of your list— we’re not worthy!

JeJfFunnekotter, Calgary

I READ WITH INTEREST Paul Wells’s article, “Decoding the Universe” (Special Report, Sept.8), which provides a glimpse of activity going on at Waterloo’s Perimeter Institute. Mike Lazaridis, the founder of RIM, has to be commended for his altruism in establish-

ing a scientific think tank that in all likelihood will not influence his primary business objective in the slightest degree. Top marks also go out to recently retired founding executive director Howard Burton for educating a wide range of groups and individuals on the merits of theoretical physics. Anyone interested in physics might enjoy watching Perimeter’s public lectures, accessible on www.perimeterinstitute.ca.

David Wallik, Oakville, Ont.

I WAS DISMAYED to find that Waterloo, Ont., didn’t make the smartest cities list. Waterloo, with a population of 115,000, has three degree-granting institutions, 40,000 full-time

post-secondary students, and 75 research institutes, including the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics. Waterloo is the Hartford, Conn., of Canada, with six insurance company head offices and a world-renowned technology industry that includes Research in Motion and its BlackBerry. In addition to all of this, the Intelligent Community Forum in New York named Waterloo the “World’s Top Intelligent Community” in 2007Waterloo deserves to be on the top of the list. Herb Epp, Former Mayor, Waterloo, Ont.

OUR CITY COUNSIL says wees a schmart city. How cum we not on de list?

Allan Hunt, Waterloo, Ont.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Waterloo wasn’t included in the “How smart is your city?” ranking

because the list only included cities with a population of 100,000 or more as of 2006, plus capital cities. You can find the rankings for all 4,700 communities across Canada at: www. macleans. ca/smartcities.

FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE

ANNE KINGSTON’S interview with cartoonist Lynn Johnston (Interview, Sept. 8) was somewhat unusual in that it was unaffected and had a measure of conversational muscle. Some of what Johnston said struck me as unconsidered but her frankness was a nice change from the frequent trite replies of celebrities. I’ve read Johnston’s strip, For Better or For Worse, on and off over the years. The daily depiction of the Pattersons was at times endearing and spot-on, but at other times the series was too sentimental, or the humour didn’t work for me. Still, I’m not quite willing to throw out the sheepdog pup with the bathwater. Johnston’s interview intrigued and her new experiment, an enhanced, rearview retelling of the family story, has piqued my curiosity. I’ll probably give the series a closer look this time around.

Mel Simoneau, Gatineau, Que.

HOW DARE Lynn Johnston suggest that adultery is a form of recreation and rampant in small northern mining towns? It is also absolutely outrageous and biased to suggest that men such as her ex-husband, who work in proximity to beautiful women, will inevitably stray. There are beautiful people everywhere you go—does that mean we should all start taking up with each other? Don’t homely people fall in love or have affairs? I’ve learned after 34 years of ups and downs you must constantly work on a marriage. The minute you take your eyes off the project it is doomed. No doubt Johnston is hurt and bitter because she missed the opportunity to mend her own broken relationship.

Jane Petryna, Georgetown, Ont.

DAM-BUILDING DEBATE

JOSEPH BOYDEN’S article about the Ontario Power Authority’s plans for building dams along the Moose River was very informative (“Prophecies and power,” Environment, Sept. 8). I am fortunate enough to have learned at a young age the richness and uniqueness that the James Bay land basin has to offer. As Cree people, we have held strong to the traditions,

culture and beliefs that help us in our day-today lives. How in today’s society do we hang on to those values? We do so by being proud and always having a connection to the land and water. I believe man will destroy itself by taking resources and never leaving enough for future generations. We have always been taught to take only what you need. Taking too much only means others have to go without. John A Rickard, Moose Factory, Ont.

I HAVE SPENT a great deal of time working in and with the people of Northern Canada, and while I identify with many of the comments that Boyden makes about the Moose River Basin, I would like to comment on one point. As Boyden wrote, I did make a presentation on Ontario’s proposed Integrated Power

System Plan (IPSP), the same one that I had made to over 400 First Nations and Metis leaders during a series of regional meetings in May and June of 2007. The OPA wrote three separate letters to all First Nations in Ontario during the spring of2007 about the development of its plans for Ontario’s power system. The Moose Cree’s land negotiator, Mr. Ernest Rickard, chose to attend the Toronto First Nation forum that the OPA held in June 2007. It is difficult, therefore, to understand how my comments came as a surprise to Moose Cree Deputy Chief Charlie Cheechoo. Further, contrary to the statement in the article that the Moose Cree were “left off the invitation list” to the hearing before the Ontario Energy Board, the OPA provided notice of this hearing to all First Nations. The OPA has always understood that none of these potential projects can proceed until such time as the ultimate builder of the project engages in extensive dialogue with First Nations. Brian Hay, Director, Corporate Communications and Public Affairs, Ontario Power Authority, Toronto

WHEN I FIRST READ Joseph Boyden’s article, I was on a mission to Ontario’s north to learn more about the opportunities for renewable energy development. My trip put me in touch with the same people that Boyden’s piece mentions. The Lower Mattagami offers Ontarians an exciting opportunity to expand renewable energy and generate a sustainable form of revenue for local First Nations. In a meeting I had with Moose Cree Chief Norm Hardisty and an executive of Ontario Power Generation, we agreed that opportunities on the Lower Mattagami would only ever be

contemplated on the condition that the Moose Cree not only supported it, but were active partners with a sustainable revenue stream. The working model that we have in mind can be seen in Ear Falls, Ont., the traditional territory of the Lac Seul First Nations. There, 12 megawatts were achieved with the addition of new technology and an agreement that gives Lac Seul First Nations 25 per cent ownership of the hydroelectric generating station. The people of northwestern Ontario gain increased access to clean, green power and the First Nations gain a sustainable revenue stream and the pride of ownership that goes alongside it. As Ontarians fight climate change together, transitioning off coal power will ask us to look closely for opportunities with wind, sun and water as the fuel source. Make no doubt that working with First Nations is a precondition for success.

George Smitherman, Deputy Premier of Ontario, Ontario Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, Toronto

MORE BEACH VOLLEYBALL!

YOUR STORIES of our Olympic athletes in Beijing (“Highs and lows at the Games,” Newsmakers, Sept.8) refers to the heavy exposure of beach volleyball in China, including the exposure of the bikini-wearing cheerleaders. Lucky Chinese. Watching the Games on CBC, I never saw the cheerleaders. The CBC’s attitude may explain why their viewers were repeatedly shown events featuring athletes like kayaker Adam van Koeverden, but largely denied much prettier sights like synchronized swimming and rhythmic gymnastics. I suppose we should expect our hockey channel to stick with views of sweaty male athletes. Julian Swann, Ottawa

IN PASSING

Richard Monette, 64, theatre director. He moved to London to appear in a stage production of the racy musical Oh Calcutta! in 1970 before returning to a career as an actor in Canada. He appeared in the English version of Michel Tremblay’s Hosanna and took some 40 roles at the Stratford Festival. He became artistic director there for 14 seasons

David Foster Wallace, 46, author. The American creator of the 1,079-page novel Infinite Jest was described by many literary critics as a Thomas Pynchon of the information age. Hailed for the breadth of his intellectual inquiry, which ranged from computing and pop culture to Greek poetry, Wallace took his own life.