An apology/Losing labor’s love/Cleaning up the CBC

November 1 1974


An apology/Losing labor’s love/Cleaning up the CBC

November 1 1974


An apology/Losing labor’s love/Cleaning up the CBC

In an article on Ron Lancaster (Kind Of A Loner, October) Maclean’s erroneously reported that a Winnipeg automobile dealer provided a car for Lancaster’s use. In fact, the car was provided by a Regina dealer. Maclean’s regrets any embarrassment our error caused Lancaster or the Regina dealer.

Benefits of labor

Since I am one of those whom Ed Finn has labeled “a bright young union careerist,” in Labor’s Love Lost (May), my reactions to his article may be of some interest.

The Canadian labor movement is not a pyramidal monolith. Its leaders, once elected, do not acquire the power to march legions of workers hither and thither. It does not conform to the neat corporate models that journalists find convenient. Ed Finn’s article indicates that he knows something about these realities but it nevertheless manages to cater to the mistaken notion that the Canadian Labor Congress is the “head office” of Canadian unions.

My beef is not with Finn’s pessimism so much as with the many completely unsubstantiated allegations and implications upon which it is apparently based. Let me deal with a few.

Finn says: “. . . labor’s social activism doesn’t go much beyond the passing of pious resolutions at conventions . . .” and later: “At the level of the individual union — where the action is — the emphasis is almost entirely on market unionism.”

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I don't know what unions Finn has been observing but if he had visited some Steelworkers locals, for example, he would have found members and officers actively engaged in work for the New Democratic Party, the California grape and lettuce boycott, various community organizations and the union's own wide-ranging internal membership education activities. He would have been able to. read union presentations on taxation, northern development, the energy crisis, the needs and rights of Candian Indians and to attend seminars on women in the work force. These are only a few examples of what goes on in my union. Many of these same subjects are discussed at summer and weekend schools put on by the Canadian Labor Congress and normally attended by members of unions too small to support their own education departments. Since the Forties labor has run, through the central congress, the provincial federations and the individual unions, what is probably the largest grass roots adult educational system in Canada.

Organized labor’s influence in the field of health care, social security and social standards has been and will continue to be of immense value to all Canadians, union members and others alike. Oddly enough, the period during which labor’s combination of collective bargaining and political activism has had its most notable successes has been the period since the two former congresses united to form the Canadian Labor Congress — while, according to Finn, the move-

ment was doing a Rip Van Winkle.

Another disservice both Finn and Maclean’s have done the unions is the crude chauvinism applied to the international unions. You are, I suppose, entitled to call the executive council of the CLC “The Union Establishment” but you are not entitled to imply, as you have done, that some of its members are less Canadian than others because they lead or hold memberships in international unions. If you or Finn have evidence of some sinister U.S. manipulation of these or other Canadian unionists, be specific and provide names and incidents. I have been a member and representative of the United Steelworkers of America, one of Canada’s largest unions, for about 20 years. I think it is the best union in Canada. Whether I am right or not I hope will depend on the record and not on cheap smears.

As for Eugene Forsey, Harry Crowe, Cliff Scotton, Dick Nielsen and Harry Waisglass, whom Finn implies left the labor movement in frustration and disgust, their creativity stifled, Maclean’s should perhaps have interviewed these gentlemen. I know most of those named personally and doubt that they would sustain Finn’s argument. I am proud of the contribution these and other former union people have made to government, politics, the arts and letters.

The momentum of the Canadian labor movement consists more of mass than velocity. Our prime asset is people working together and this movement has changed and benefited Canada in many ways, some of them hard to measure. Ed Finn and Maclean’s appear to prefer something flashier but less substantial.


Corrupting the news

One complaint I have about the CBC. I would have liked Val Clery to quote in his article, CBC: Programmed For Failure (lune), concerns the existence of commercials in the one hour of News and Current Affairs that the local CBC stations across the country provide five nights a week for suppertime regional audiences (i.e., Hourglass in Edmonton and Vancouver, 24 Hours in Winnipeg and Toronto, City At Six in Montreal).

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You’ll recall that the CRTC congratulated the CBC for keeping News and Current Affairs free of the taint of commercials. And it is true that network News and Current Affairs programs are commercial free. The single, exception is Take Thirty, but who cares about an afternoon program with a small audience of ladies? And who worries about commercials in locally produced programs? Certainly not the CBC, which needs the great amount of money these local pro-

grams earn, and, apparently, not Pierre Juneau and his colleagues even though they know as well as does the CBC that, by acclaiming commercials in a News and Current Affairs program such as Edmonton’s Hourglass, the corporation is guilty of violating one of its most necessary and respected traditions.


Needling doctors

Douglas Geekie, the communications director of the Canadian Medical As-

sociation, has every right to quibbl with my candid enthusiasm for aci puncture therapy as expressed in th May issue of Maclean’s. But I thin he has no right to accuse me of ir accuracy or especially of perpetratin a medical hoax — “a cruel misleadin hoax,” as he put it — on the Can; dian public.

Whether Mr. Geekie and the cói servatives of the medical professio like it or not, acupuncture does worl What bothers them, I think, is that doesn’t fit into their narrow thinkir -— the narrow thinking that has cha acterized and occasionally retarde the progress of western medicine, don’t want to go overboard: as I sa in my story, w'e are for the most pa better off for the cautious and coi servative approach our doctors ha's shown. But it has its negative side ; well, and it is — as Mr. Geekie provi in his letter — cloyingly self-righteou What he’s saying, whether he believi it or not, is that the Chinese, t'r Japanese, the French, Germans, Au trians et al have been practising i responsible medicine, and have bee therefore disregarding their patient by the employment of acupunctuf This is chauvinism of the worst kirn What he is saying is that while w meaning Western Doctors, may n( have all the answers, we will certainl

— because of our infallible methoc

— discover them.

Whether he recognizes it or no acupuncture has been shown to wor on all the things I said it worked fo He would deny that, a priori, but th; is expected and of no consequence 1 me. And if my article held out hoj to some people who felt their pligl was hopeless — because Mr. Geekie western medicine could do nothing fc them — then Em glad, because hop any hope, is better than being coi signed to the trash heap of the sciei tifie system.


Canadian Camelot

Is June Callwood in Margaret’s Fit Hurrah (August) attempting to insta a “Jackie Kennedy” in Ottawa? Do Canada need one? Miss Callwooc overpowering article indicates that si believes we do. It also appears th she would be pleased to lead such ; image-making project. That is, gi' Canada a First Lady who was and “well-to-do, brainy, beautiful aí adored by all.”

If Mrs. Trudeau sincerely does n wish to be “packaged” as Miss Ca wood leads us to believe, then pe haps Mrs. Trudeau will in the futu shy away from Miss Callwood's es

nest attempts to do so. Finally, I would like to ask you to expand the Your View section of your magazine as it is one of the most enjoyable parts of Maclean’s.


It is truly difficult to describe the sensitivity of a person in words let alone in print. However, the article entitled Margaret’s First Hurrah written by June Callwood (August) achieved what seemed to be the impossible. When reading the article and viewing the accompanying pictures one has the illusion of actually standing with Canada’s First Lady and experiencing what is written in words.

A truly wonderful work of journalism for which the author and Maclean’s magazine are to be heartily congratulated.


Even though some Canadian journalists seem to demand the creation of Camelot North I do wish they would show respect for and understanding of our political culture. Mrs. Trudeau is the Prime Minister’s wife; she is no more Canada’s first lady than Mrs. Wilson is Great Britain’s. If hierarchical labels are essential, then please do Mrs. Léger the courtesy of being correct.

As for the article’s substance, I set out to learn about someone who has been described frequently as a beautiful human. After plowing through a collage of gushy clichés it became apparent that the author had told me about a prime minister’s private groupie.

While it is difficult to know where the author’s head is -after reading Erna Koffman’s The Big Rip-Off, I understand why it is where it is. Methinks instead of journalism Ms. Callwood was doing a little myth mongering.


Paying our dues

Marian Engels makes a badly misdirected demand on Canadian readers in her article Our Authors Are Being Ripped Off (June).

As president of the Writers’ Union of Canada, she asks that we adopt “a library compensation” system through which published Canadian writers might gain greater monetary compensation for their work.

A more positive approach might be for the Writers’ Union to voice its grievances to the publishers (over a negotiating table as other unions do) instead of encroaching on one of the few social freedoms we have left —

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going to a free public library. A further union negotiating point might be the lowering of book prices.

A good union is responsible for more than just the material betterment of its members, it is also responsible for bettering the society that spawns its existence.


Cook’s Tour

Every now and then Maclean’s magazine comes through with a story that touches the heart and makes one realize the vast differences and ignorance we Canadians live amidst.

Michael Cook’s Twenty-Five Years Too Late (August) should be read by all Canadians for not only does it point out our total lack of serious concern for Newfoundland but also what we must overcome if we are to survive as a nation.

All Canadians are “as much a victim of circumstance” as our “own distorted vision.”

It’s time we woke up and tried a little respect and understanding for all the provinces and territories and people of Canada. If we don’t we'll only drown in our ignorance and carelessness of others’ feelings.


A Pinsent Fan

In John Hofsess’ article Pinsent’s Progress (August) Gordon Pinsent says that while trying to sell the script for The Rowdyman in Los Angeles — “one guy told me he thought it would be a great vehicle for Steve McQueen.”

Can you imagine Steve McQueen in the role of a Newfoundland paper mill worker? They would have had to turn the movie into a comedy for that, and McQueen makes no better a comedian than he makes a “Newfie.”

I am grateful that the script stayed in Canada and that Pinsent was its star.


Our pleasure

My husband and I enjoyed Mainstreams by Hugh MacLennan (August) and John Hofsess’s Pinsent’s Progress. But best of all we loved Scandinavia By Sea.




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Driving Oscar Wild

Let us get our trivialities straight. Bret Taylor repeats one error so many times in Grand Hotels (June) that it begins to irritate. It must be explained to him (or to the Empress Hotel) that “high tea” is a British sitdown, after work, evening meal. It might consist of cold meat and salad, poached eggs, kippers, quiche Lorraine (known as bacon and egg pie) or any other substantial dish that is not called dinner because dinner is at 1 p.m. It is usually called “tea”; white-collar workers might have “lunch” (or “luncheon”) at midday and “dinner” at night, or they might have “dinner” at midday and “tea” at night; they sometimes feel obliged to call the latter “high tea” to distinguish it from the four o’clock afternoon tea which they might or might not have had in between. The four o’clock tea is the Oscar-Wilde-cucumber-sandwiches-and-muffins, or the sippingladies-of-Victoria-BC affair, mainly for the idle rich. For the less rich it may be called “a cuppa.” “High tea” is solid, satisfying and nourishing, and is sometimes called “supper” or “meat tea” or “the evening meal.” It is all really quite simple, and one fact is indisputable — never, never would Oscar Wilde or sipping ladies have “high tea.”


The CIA in Canada

Thanks to Bill Macadam and James R. Dubro. While their article How the CIA Has Us Spooked (July) contains disturbing news about “intelligence” activity in Canada, it performs an important service in sounding the alarm. As a Canadian residing in the U.S., I hope Canada will learn from recent American experience about the danger of granting surveillance authority to organizations that are not accountable to the government. Surely this is one of the lessons of Watergate.

And what justifies the UKUSA Agreement: “Through this agreement, Canada . . . undertakes to conduct signals intelligence (i.e., eavesdrop) .. . for the United States.” The authors report that “Canadian intelligence, functioning in opposition to official government policy, provided the CIA with invaluable assistance throughout the whole U.S. adventure in Vietnam.” They point out that “where Canada’s policy emphasizes peacekeeping and neutrality, her position is severely compromised.” Amen. I sincerely hope other Canadians will ex-

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press their outrage at such duplicity and hypocrisy.

I do not interpret the Macadam and Dubro article as a call for noncooperation with the U.S. Indeed, I believe the principal danger of an anti-American attitude is the likelihood of its leading to the “my country, right or wrong” mentality which has survived for so long down here. I believe the authors’ message is summed up in “The power of the nondemocratic wing of government thus continues its steady and unchecked march toward its inevitable end, the distortion of the democratic process.” It’s an urgent message. Canada ignores it at her peril.


01’ man river

Bravo to Hugh MacLennan for his exquisite observations about the rivers (and the people) of the 1960s (Mainstreams, August) He writes “. . . they have not been educated to be ashamed of their humanity. They did not believe that man is a fallen creature. What they did believe, or rather what they knew, was something far more revolutionary. A simple truth of incalculable importance to human sanity had finally permeated the consciousness of the young . . . Man is not a fallen innocent but a risen animal. In spite of all his follies and crimes, on balance he has more cause for pride than for shame.”

First of all I wish to share the elation I get from reading these thoughts being put so eloquently.

Secondly, as much as I am convinced of the profound insight and accuracy of the concept of the risen animal, I wonder how really widespread such consciousness is. I am, therefore, inclined to credit MacLennan (along with Robert Ardrey among others) with being one of the creators of the consciousness he speaks of, rather than a mere discoverer of it in others. But more power to him for that!


Latvia by sea

The article Scandinavia By Sea{August) commits one grave error — the “map” that accompanies it is inaccurate. Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, now Soviet republics of the same name, have been obliterated. These ancient countries deserve recognition.