December 1 1971


December 1 1971


I am certain that another letter concerning the pleasure that subscribers receive from the “new” Maclean’s will not be out of order. Letters to editors are not written frequently, but I wanted to take out a few minutes just to say what an excellent job you have done on a magazine which I feared was going to perish. Please keep it up.



So poor Glen Willner “is a drylands farmer, and a good one,” and “he believes it is immoral not to grow food in a starving world” — Great Expectations (October). But he sold wheat for 60 cents a bushel last year and he is still harvesting wheat he doesn’t know how he will sell. Nor does anyone else.

Does the federal government (that’s you and I) owe these farmers a living? Should we subsidize them because they like to farm and don’t want to learn new skills so they can move out of farming to take steadyincome jobs in other occupations? There are academic and skill-training courses which they can attend at little or no cost to themselves. If we support the farmer’s income there is little or no incentive for him to move out of farming. In fact, the incentive may work the other way.

Why not let the farming industry become efficient? Large, efficient farming operations not only allow cheaper food production for Canadians but they also enable Canada to compete more strongly in foreign markets. And if Glen Willner is really a good farmer he may well be one of the efficient, business-minded operators who can stay in farming.


The wronging of René

I must protest strongly against the cover of Maclean’s October issue, showing a picture of René Lévesque with two armed men. Mr. Lévesque can surely defend himself and does

not need me, but still I wanted to express to you my indignation for what appears to me as an example of sensational and yellow journalism and even of intellectual dishonesty. I am all the more at ease to express my views that I am not a member of the Parti Québécois, I am just an ordinary citizen who feels that honesty and justice are still worth defending.

You would not have acted otherwise had you chosen to discredit Mr. Lévesque in public opinion and create around him a climate of distrust and hostility on the part of well thinkers, “bleeding hearts” and citizens respectful of law and order. Furthermore, in the very same issue of Maclean’s, one of your writers interviews Mr. Lévesque who declares himself to be a revolutionary, not of the kind who changes things violently but of the kind who does so with votes. You are too familiar with journalism not to know that it’s the picture that counts, specially the front page or cover picture.

And please do not pretend that it was meant to be humorous: you would then have taken the precaution to put some indication that would have made things clear and stated that it was a “faked” photo or a “montage.”

And tell me frankly, would you have accepted a picture of the same kind showing Prime Minister Trudeau at the time he had recourse to the War Measures Act?


* Your October 1971 cover-poster of René Lévesque, flanked by two youthful drug-prone guerrilleros, was a misfit. It actually belongs, by its Goebellian kind of humor, to the April 1970 Quebec electoral campaign. With the blessing and stimulation of the federalist high command, hounds were then on the rampage, barking at their prey and enjoying their tooth-and-nail fiesta. At the time, this was morally sound as the law of this mighty land had to be upheld against this small lot of subversive heretics called separatists. Along with the threats of civil war and economic strangulation (remember the Brink’s coup?), your poster would have found its way into thousands of places and would have sent many Quebeckers, both French and English, quivering.

The federalist junta jumped on the golden opportunity of the Cross and Laporte kidnappings to create a national crisis and launch a massive witch-hunt. Democratic ideals and inalienable civil rights were then “suspended” not to interfere with this nation-saving “operation.” The Parti

Québécois was again the chief villain. Key members were arrested by the hundreds, houses were searched by the thousands, suspected sympathizers were photographed, tape-recorded and filed in every town. A whispering propaganda developed, using the Gestapo process of guilt by association, in order to convince every Quebecker that the Parti Québécois was the hypocritical “democratic” front of the FLQ. For this rapidly growing mass party had to be linked to violence and stained with blood, against all evidence to the contrary, so that frightened and horrified Quebeckers could turn their backs on it forever.

But the “operation” boomeranged against those blood slingers. Lévesque’s long record of integrity, courage and practice of democracy was too well known to every Canadian. Massive arrests and house-searchings were condemned by all true democrats as a breach of political morality and as a complete fiasco. Both governments lost face and lucid citizens will not forget easily that they have been manoeuvred and cheated.


Mon cher Donald

Donald Cameron makes clear in his book column, Last Year In The Peaceable Kingdom (October), his sympathy for the Quebec separatists, including the terrorists. Books by separatists are praised, while those espousing a contrary view are damned. A book of psychiatric case studies contending that terrorism is a consequence of immaturity is dismissed with the suggestion that “protest” cannot be explained in this way. One separatist work is lauded because it may help English Canadians understand “why Quebec wants out.” Another book is commended for its attack upon the Prime Minister and for its analysis of “Quebec’s relentless movement toward independence.” No proof is offered for these impertinent assertions, nor is there even a hint that perhaps a majority of Quebeckers do not want anything of the sort.

Cameron is entitled to his opinions, of course, even to his separatist sympathies, although surely a reviewer ought either to strive to be objective or else frankly avow his prejudices. There is one evaluation of his which cannot be allowed to pass, however, and which is as outrageous as it is fatuous. Writing about Léandre Bergeron’s so-called history, Cameron concedes that it is “partisan, simplified and some-

continued on page 14

Your View continued / times unfair,” but that it “nevertheless proposes a forceful alternative view of Canadian history ...” The mind boggles at this mild criticism (and commendation) of a book which is blatantly racist, absurdly black-and-white in its portrayal of men and events, and strewn from cover to cover with distortions. Any correspondence of Bergeron's book with historical truth is purely coincidental. If Cameron really means what he says about Bergeron's book, then he knows little or nothing about the history of Canada and had better stick to the teaching of English.


Nearly $30 million

In his column on Canadian theatre — Let’s Really Hear It For Canadian Theatre (October) — David Gustafson praises the government for making large sums available to the Canada Council for support of the arts. Welcome as these good words are, I should point out that the sum he mentions is much too high. He was probably thinking of the council’s total expenditure when he wrote that it would spend $30 million on the arts this year. Besides assisting the arts, the council also gives extensive support to the humanities and social sciences. In fact, the council expects to spend about $12 million on the arts during the current year.


Hello, Bona Vista

I come to you with my quiet, foul languaged, Newfoundland inferiority complex to, first of all, praise your holy magazines and secondly, ask why, for the nth time. To show that my heart is in the right place (by your stringent standards, of course) I would like to sprinkle the petal of the rose about your complacent ears and hairy armpits, for the alteration of Maclean’s, a magazine of the finest quality, finally.

But now that I have done my painful duty I must get to the point. Your editor must either be a Yank, a bigot, a half wit or a kindergarden dropout. Peter C. Newman has got to be some sort of twit. Your associate editors must have watermelon seeds for brains or a severe case of cranium emptifity, and the rest of your staff I assume to be a repossessed computer. Why? You may well ask for your comprehension is hardly that of a plumb. To explicate proceedings — “What have you and your staff got

against Newfoundland?” Why? If you are, as you boldly claim, Canada’s national magazine, why do you ignore the existence of my native land? Granted half a million is not as large a market as Ontario, but surely you can't be serious. Each issue holds another insult to myself and my fellows. As the many previous instances of maltreatment of which my inflamed pen has notified you, I again take up the cause. In Phyllis Webb’s Canada (October), my island-Labrador home is again belittled — poetically, yet belittled none the less — by being excluded from the Canadian parentheses.

A minor point. But may I swing in a more meaningful direction. A different publication, the seemingly good ideaed Canada And The World for students of world affairs. Young minds which believe what they read in spite of teachers like . . . well . . . myself, for example. In case you question my claim. I'll give you an example of an answer I received in a grade 11 history quiz: “The English Bill of Rights is important because it is the foundation of America’s freedom.” Or, in the same quiz from a different student: "The Habeas Corpus Act was an act to protect American citizens from illegal arrest.” Tragic! Yes. Unnerving for a teacher who knows that a certain element of every class sleeps through class and depends solely upon "the book.” In this case the book is written by a person of American extraction, naturally.

Under a different editor and staff Maclean’s once published the following: “In 1958 Canadian television matched the railway achievements of Sir John A. Macdonald by completing a microwave TV link from Victoria, BC, to Sydney in the Maritimes, a distance of more than 4,000 miles. This gave Canada the longest TV network in the world and allowed live television programs to be seen simultaneously anywhere in the country.” That was nine years after Canada grudgingly allowed our admission to Confederation and the article was published almost 22 years after, when Newfoundlanders were beginning to consider separation on social grounds (some never wanted to be a part of the “great Canadian wolf” although most were and still are proud to fly the maple leaf).

Ottawa is still closing down our services, such as post offices, and cutting us off by increasing the ferry rates, which is against the terms of union; our passenger rail service was replaced with buses (that stole a big chunk of our Newfie Bullet folklore).

But we’re only half a million.

No more please. I have to take ignorance and bigotry from our southern big brother and his publishers. Must I also from Canadians? This is my first year teaching and I’m making a lot of mistakes and have a lot to learn but I can’t take this insulting ignorance. Please! No more! I don’t want to cancel my subscription to Maclean’s, but I’m a man of flesh and blood like any other, and when I’m kicked I hurt.


Adieu, Quebec, adieu

Richard Simeon's article, The Perils And Politics Of Separation (October), fails to mention the benefits that would result from our long-overdue disassociation from Quebec: (1) a truly united Canada, with one official language — English; (2) a better political balance (the West and the Maritimes vs. Ontario); (3) the selection of a truly national flag through a national referendum; (4) the use of hundreds of millions of additional tax dollars for the improvement of nine provinces rather than the futile appeasement of one; and (5) the acquisition of a transportation corridor (for the construction of a super railroad and an expressway) through New York and the New England States linking Ontario and the Maritimes.

The Ontario-Maritimes rail-highway corridor must run through the United States. Location in Quebec would result in endless harassment and sabotage. This corridor, featuring containers and unit trains for bulk cargoes, would render the St. Lawrence Seaway obsolete. Those who must use it could depend on the U.S. to guarantee its continued operation.



In Peter Newman’s article on Sweden — Sweet Sweden (October) — you wrote: “ . . . the Swedes must top everybody when it comes to drinking.” The fact is that the annual per drinker consumption in litres of absolute alcohol of Sweden (8.4) is less than one third of France (25.9), approximately half of West Germany (16.0), Austria (16.0) and Switzerland (15.8), and about two thirds of the U.S. (12.0) and Canada (11.1). Among the Western nations, only the Netherlands (7.7), Finland (5.9) and Norway (5.9) have a lower per capita consumption.