March 1 1972


March 1 1972


A dangerous trend is now developing in the realm of Canadian nationalism. We must establish ourselves as a cultural identity distinct from the United States, but this must not be done by trying to follow some path to a distinctly Canadian culture — for there is no such thing. Canada is a cosmopolitan nation in which its diverse cultural identities must remain distinct entities. French Canadians have the advantage of their language; the English are more vulnerable. Being of the same cultural heritage as the Americans, English Canadians can be easily absorbed into U.S. culture. To set ourselves up as an independent culture is impossible, when the United States dominates the North American economy, for economics creates cultures and the result would be an American society with Canadian names. Thus, the trend to complete independence from Britain must be arrested, for it is leading Canada to a cultural void in which it will merely become more of a mirror of American society than it is today. To save herself Canada must grasp hold of the fast-waning legacies left to us by Britain.


Of June we speak

So June Callwood was brokenhearted because of the War Measures Act — June Callwood’s Canada (January). Madame Laporte and Mrs. Cross would hardly share her concern for the rough way those poor young “patriots” were treated.


* Congratulations to June Callwood for her excellent article. It’s time that somebody said it, loud and clear. For too long Canadians have spent their time yammering about what’s wrong with U.S. society and completely ignoring what’s wrong with our own, as though the fact that they are bad somehow makes us good. Well, it doesn’t. We are pretty bad, both in the ways that June Callwood mentions and in a lot of others.

If we could just face the truth now and actually do something about the little people in our society, we might amount to something yet. But until we do we never will.


* You have really surpassed yourself in publishing June Callwood’s nasty, prejudiced and quite hysterical diatribe against Canada and Canadians. There is no way I can let this go by without a reply, since I am one of her typical cruel and rotten Canadians.

I was one of the majority of Canadians who was in favor of the War Measures Act and nothing that has happened since has changed my mind. Were the circumstances to arise again, I would expect and welcome the same action by whoever was prime minister at the time. I really don’t think that if every Canadian had said a little prayer or gone around the streets shaking the hand of everyone he met it would have done much toward controlling the murderous mood of that small minority of people who were behind the kidnappings and murder in Quebec. I firmly believe that the harsh measures were necessary and sensible.

I don’t know one teacher, of the dozens that I have met, who would bash a five-year-old for any reason. With our very active home-and-school system they wouldn’t dare. These things may have happened 50 years ago, but in our present enlightened society teachers are just not like that. I don’t believe anyone could call our schools “jails.” They are training grounds for life, which is competition from start to finish, and God help the young people if they can’t learn that. Nobody is going to coddle them when they go out to make their living, and coddling them in school is doing them the worst kind of disservice.

I don’t believe that our mental health is any worse than that of any other country in comparable circumstances. The increase in mental illness is just a general indication of the sickness of the times in which we live. I would also question Miss Callwood’s statement that only the rich are treated in psychiatric wards of the general hospitals — the poor being sent off immediately to the mental institutions. Troubled people, rich and poor, are first treated in the general hospitals; only if they are too far gone for minor treatment are they committed.

As for the police, I don’t know of one that I can imagine beating up a helpless suspect, and certainly the idea of one of them driving his car at a “helpless underweight teen-ager” is unbelievable. The police I know are fair and impartial, they try to help in every way they can, and I’m sure they are typical of most police. The same can be said for members of the judiciary and the penal system.

I am proud and grateful to be a Canadian. There is no place I'd rather be.


Sham is a dirty word

As a specialist in Canadian-American relations who has studied in depth the joint boards, committees and commissions that Canada and the United States utilize in the conduct of their bilateral relations, I wish to protest the cavalier, inexcusable manner in which Walter Stewart dismisses those organizations as “in large measure, a sham” — AH Canada Wants For Christmas Is Itself (December). They constitute very efficient and timesaving machinery for dealing with many difficult problems and even for enforcing regulations (as, for example, in conserving the halibut and salmon fisheries of the North Pacific). True, Canadian views carry less weight than do American in the deliberations of the North American Air Defense Command. Nor is that surprising when the United States as recently as 1969 was providing 95% of the operations and maintenance costs of that organization and 92% of its personnel. But Canada’s role is not by any means a purely passive one. As for the International Joint Commission, the International Boundary Commission, the three bilateral fishery commissions and the other agencies not concerned with defense matters, the procedure actually followed bears no resemblance whatsoever to that described by Walter Stewart.


Bigger than a breadbox

I would like to ask for a small favor. Perhaps you could identify this article. I have had it for about 20 years. It was in an old / continued on page 12

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Your View continued / barn I tore down. It was obviously used to grind something. I have asked many oldtimers, none have seen one like it, nor can they tell what it might have been used for. I would like to know what it was made to do and whether it is of any value.


Ears that do not hear

Congratulations to Peter C. Newman for a splendid job since he took over as editor of Maclean’s, a publication I enjoy reading more and more. It has a Canadian personality all its own. If the January issue is a sample of what you have in store for us in 1972, then it would seem to me that your continued growth is inevitable, thus giving our young writers an opportunity to articulate their viewpoints while providing us, the over-50 age group, with a chance to understand them more and more — even when we disagree with their views, as I did in January with Ann Charney’s assessment of the present social and political pulse of Quebec. May 1 respectfully suggest that separatism and independence of Quebec from the rest of Canada is a dead issue in this province; that the noise which seems to impress her comes from a small minority of people and labor leaders who are not taken seriously by the core of our population. There are so many points in Miss Charney’s column with which one could easily take issue. I’ll mention only one, the public meeting held by the unions at the Forum about which she writes “an immense crowd estimated between 12,000 and 15,000 people gathered in a show of solidarity to express their determination to fight the present regime on all fronts.” A little more research would have disclosed that before that meeting was half over, the Forum was nearly empty and that Laberge, Chartrand and company were talking to themselves while that “immense crowd” of bored young people had vanished down Ste. Catherine Street looking for a beer and a bit of fun. I certainly agree with Miss Charney that there is much to be done, in Quebec as in other provinces, to improve social conditions. But I submit that the old French proverb, Aides-toi et le Ciel t’aidera still has merit.


Who’s in charge, here?

The article Down Home No More (January), concerning the struggle by the United Fishermen to gain recognition as the bargaining agent for East Coast trawlermen, was interesting and thought provoking. I think, however, that something should be added. Even though, as the article pointed out, Tommy Douglas had given his support to the fishermen’s fight, the NDP (that supposed friend of the working classes, that stalwart of Canadian nationalism) refused to have the issue even raised for discussion at the general sessions of its leadership convention last year in Ottawa.

I was a witness on three occasions when attempts were made to bring the question before the convention at large. In the first instance, a gentleman rose from the audience and after gaining recognition by the chairwoman was ruled out of order when it was determined what he wished to say. On another occasion the question was raised by a speaker from the audience. At this point Stephen Lewis, the NDP leader in Ontario, rushed onto the platform and again the subject was ruled out of order. On the third occasion leaflets had been passed out as part of a defensive effort by the CFAW. These, in turn, were countered by leaflets that ostensibly represented the views of the Canso Strait fishermen — but of this I cannot be sure, because those who were distributing the literature were quickly ordered from the building by security guards wearing Lewis armbands.

It became clear to me at that convention that not only is the NDP more firmly in the hands of the labor unions than anyone might have suspected — which might, in itself, not be a necessarily bad thing — but that it is firmly in the control of the international unions. As long as that situation continues, the NDP has no more right to assume the role of a Canadian nationalist party than the Liberals, the Tories, or, indeed, the Social Credit, and it similarly has no right to perpetuate the myth of greater democracy within the NDP than within the other parties.


The summer of ’14

My first reaction on reading Christina Newman’s The Best Years Of My Life And Other Lies (January) was that she had gone back to a Homecoming too soon. After all, 15 years (added to 20) do not provide time for the really long-range view required to assess the changing situation. Nevertheless, it makes pleasant reading to note her appreciation of former professors — Northrop Frye et al — and it is gratifying to an older University of Toronto graduate to learn that her Victoria colleagues did, in fact, devote themselves seriously to the study of English literature. Mrs. Newman’s many literary contributions reflect the value of that training. I have read her story twice.

My own experience of Homecomings goes back to the 25th, the 40th, and, more recently, the 50th class reunions of 1T4 University College. We were a small group in honors chemistry at graduation, six in all. One of our two top graduates went into teaching, the other into industrial research; both did well. Of the remaining four, one rose to a position of importance in the federal government service, one became a prominent stock broker, one a publisher. The remaining one found a hero’s grave overseas.

Why did we go to college? Two of us, I think, because of home and social pressures (it was the right thing to do); two, I know, were persuaded by their high-school science teacher to study chemistry, and perhaps present the world with a new breakfast food or some other profitable product; another for much the same reason; and the one intent on teaching obviously knew what he needed to ensure success in the academic world.

The summer of 1914 offered few opportunities for employment of chemists. One of our class had what he considered to be a practical idea for reduction of costs in bread-making. He needed support for the development of his idea and suggested to several managers that he might do the necessary research work in the university and at the same time learn the practice of bread-making by working in his plant. No bread-makers on whom he called were interested. The other members of our class scattered to find jobs as fire rangers, and some to work as farm help in western Canada. But in the end, they all found ladders to climb in the chemical field.

I found I was the only member of our small class at each of the three Homecomings I have attended. But the pleasure of living in residence, making the acquaintance of classmates from other fields of study, seeing new developments, and even the joy of listening to “the girl who conducted our campus tour, firmly reciting facts about the new Medical Building, etc.,” made it worthwhile. I hope Mrs. Newman will not be discouraged by her first visit, and that she may live to enjoy many subsequent Homecomings — but perhaps they should be spaced out a bit.


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YOUR VIEW from page 12

One up for Cable TV

Reading Heather Robertson’s television column (January), I was delighted to find someone finally who has some insight into cable TV. I’ve been working with a number of cable systems for the last year and I’m getting sick of the criticism we get from professional reviewers. They see the television bingos and local gossip shows that every system carries and on the basis of that take an overly harsh view of the whole of community television. In working with cable systems, I’ve found that the ones that involve the community in every aspect of programming, both in front of and behind the cameras, are the ones that produce the best kind of community television. I’m 17 years old. I tried to get into radio, and found that nobody would train me or give me an opportunity to learn. Now, with the help of the cable company for which I work, I’m going to be able to produce television programs for a credit course I’m taking in high school. The professional broadcasters may laugh, and the critics may laugh, but community TV is doing a lot more good than anyone gives it credit for.


The Gourlay Game

In connection with Donald Cameron’s book column in December, may I correct a few misconceptions about the career of Robert Gourlay whose biography, Robert Gourlay, Gadfly, I have just published? Robert Gourlay did not call the people of Upper Canada to convene a popular assembly. Such an assembly had been provided by the Constitutional Act of 1791, but it was being prevented from functioning by prorogation two years in a row. The issue was the control of the public purse. Nor was Robert Gourlay banished on a charge of sedition. He was twice acquitted of that charge. No jury of independent men would convict him for saying what they knew was the truth about certain aspects of government policy. He was banished for not leaving the country when ordered by two appointed councillors, under a quibbling reinterpretation of the Seditious Alien Act of 1804. If he obeyed the order, no man, he said, would be safe from similar persecution in Upper Canada. But if Cameron’s review errs a little in fact, he caught the spirit of the Gadfly: “Gourlay passes to Baldwin ... Do we shoot? Do we score?”