If the law is an ass, the cannabis law is a colossal one
Your Preview item concerning the government’s failure to introduce reforms to the Narcotic Control Act in the House of Commons (September 20), while of great interest, misses the point. The continuing reluctance of the government to have this very important legislation passed is a matter of great regret, but the real victims are those who are charged with importation of cannabis, trafficking in cannabis, or having possession of cannabis for the purposes of trafficking, and not those who are charged with the simple possession of the stuff. Those who are presently found guilty of simple possession usually receive a fine and, before some magistrates, even a discharge. This would probably still be the case after the new legislation is passed and proclaimed
Those who are now found guilty of trafficking or possession for the purposes of trafficking, however, almost certainly go to jail. The courts have decided that, as parliament by ancient legislation ordained a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, the convicted person should be locked up. Those who are convicted of importing cannabis must, by law, be sentenced to seven years imprisonment, the kind of sentence that one might expect for a very serious armed robbery or a manslaughter. The proposed legislation dramatically changes this, giving the courts discretion to sentence according to the individual case.
The present provisions constitute, in our opinion, the greatest single source of injustice in our criminal law and it is disgraceful that the government continues to procrastinate on the making of a very rational and a very sensible reform.
J. WALTER THOMPSON, MOIR, THOMPSON & ASHLEY, HALIFAX
Confirmed—by one who’s been there
I want to congratulate Barry Callaghan on his excellent report South Africa: Twilight For A Master Race (September 20). Of distant Dutch and British extraction, I was born and bred in an Afrikaner-dominated town, attended the Dutch Reformed Church, was educated at an Afrikanerdominated school and I can vouch for the broad accuracy of both the letter and the spirit of Callaghan’s article. The truth may be sad and tragic but it remains the truth nevertheless.
It is only through such informative articles, based on historical facts, that people outside of South Africa are going to realize the full extent of the inhumanity of that 28year-old Nazi regime. Then perhaps Canadian and other Western financial and industrial institutions that make such handsome profits out of apartheid will stop attempting to excuse and justify their trade with the Afrikaner-Nationalist government there.
JOHN DOMMISSE, MD. TORONTO
‘Birth’ is in the eye of the beholder
Dr. Morgentaler, in the Interview with Maclean ’s (October 4), stated that up to five months after conception we are dealing with a “project” because it is too “small” to be considered a baby. This thinking is the result of his own research and study. He obviously would be biased because he would rather feel that he is not taking human life.
In October 1967, the First International Conference on Abortion was held in Washington, DC. It brought together authorities from around the world in the fields of medicine, law. ethics and social _ sciences. They met in a “think tank” for
several days. The first major question considered by the medical group was: when does human life begin? The group was composed of biochemists, professors of obstetrics and gynecology, geneticists, etc., and was represented proportionately as to academic discipline, race and religion (e.g., 20% were Catholic). Their almost unanimous conclusion (19 to 1) was: “The majority of our group could find no point in time between the union of the sperm and egg, or at least the blastocyst stage, and the birth of the infant at which point we could say that this was not a human life.” The blastocyst stage is shortly after fertilization and would account for twinning. They continued: “The changes occurring between implantation, a six-week embryo, a six-month fetus, a week-old child, or a mature adult are merely stages of development and maturation.”
There has not been, before or since, a more important or a more qualified body of natural scientists who, as a group, have thoroughly discussed and come to a conclusion on this subject.
MRS. DONNA KUNTZ.
Are pigs getting another bad rap?
Your article Epidemic Of Epidemics (September 6) is headed by a photo of a hog and beside it you state that hogs are carriers of swine flu. It has been announced on national TV that hogs are not carriers of the disease and that the flu has no relation with swine. Would you please check into this.
c. J. SHEPPARD. MCCREARY, MAN.
Health officials have recorded several cases where swine flu has been transferred directly from pigs to humans.
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O deliver us from ‘professionals!”
Judith Timson’s The Apprenticeship Of Billy Bennett (September 20) has it all wrong. The former socialist administration is referred to as “Dave Barrett and his bumbling NDP government” while the Bennett government is termed “professional.” A little digging into the facts would shatter these myths:
1) When the Socreds took over in December 1975, the unemployment rate in BC was 7.5%. By May, the unemployment rate had moved up to 9.8% and is currently 8.3% (August, ’76). During January-May, 1976, the unemployment rate under the Socreds averaged 9.1% while during the corresponding period under the NDP in 1975 it was 8.1%. This increase in the BC rate has occurred at the same time as the national unemployment rate has declined from 7.5% (January-May ’75) to 7% (JanuaryMay ’76).
2) During 1975 (January-May), the NDP government held the rate of inflation in Vancouver to an annual level of 5.3%. During the corresponding months in 1976 under the Socreds, the rate of inflation has skyrocketed to an annual rate of 17.3%. Again, as BC’S situation deteriorates, the national figures during the same period show a decline from an annual rate of 6.2% (January-May ’75) to 5% (January-May ’76). The major factor in BC’S jump in the cost of living has been the rise in the price of government services and tax increases brought in by the Socreds.
3) The most disturbing thing about the new Socred government is that the enormous tax increases were instituted on the basis of faulty figures. The recently released midyear economic review shows that the Socreds had overestimated the supposed $541 million deficit under the NDP by $135 million. Combine this with the $181 million transfer to icbc—which ICBC showed it didn’t need by immediately lending it back to the government—plus the premature payment of $83.9 million to BC Hydro and BC Rail, then last year’s $541 million deficit turns out to be a four-million-dollar surplus.
The only promise that Bennett is beginning to show is an uncanny ability to destroy the BC economy. Oh, if we could only replace the professional grey-flannel-suit Socreds with the bungling NDP, we might be alright yet.
TOM GUNTON, VANCOUVER
The game of the name
I had to stop in the middle of reading How Joe “Who” Became The People’s Choice (September 20) to question the Toronto broker who said “I can’t trust a man who doesn’t wear the pants in his family.” Good lord, if that isn’t a form of bigotry, what is? How on earth does Clark’s wife’s surname affect the “wearing of pants” by Joe Clark? Presumably the broker believes that a man holds a whip over his wife and family and makes all the decisions—even to which day to do the washing—and
doesn’t allow even conversation in which family members might make suggestions as to their preferences.
NONIE WILDMAN, VANCOUVER
Joe “Who” indeed! Your cover shows an appalling ignorance on the part of you “Upper Canadians.” Every Westerner knows who “Joe” is and we here in the Maritimes know that the next Prime Minister will be none other than Joe McTeer. JAMES E. FEATHERBY, WATERVILLE, NS
Clarity begins at home
On the whole, your article on the “Heir Apparent” was a well-balanced portrait of the man who is hoping and trying hard to supplant the Liberals in Ottawa. Why, though, does our “national” magazine find it necessary to join forces with the shallow and jealous thinkers who try to make Trudeau the scapegoat for all the country’s troubles? Many of these troubles can be laid at our own personal doors as individuals, along with corporations and unions. Haven’t we refused stubbornly to accept our own responsibility for the present economic situation which we have brought on ourselves by our selfish extravagance and greed?
A. G. MACPHERSON, PORT CREDIT, ONT.
Truth, justice and the American way
An excellent newsmagazine such as Maclean’s should not squander one line,
much less a whole page, on pieces such as Walter Stewart’s anti-American diatribe Why Does God Look After Fools, Drunkards And The United States? (September 6). Just what is achieved by publishing a collection of negatives about life in a U.S. city? The impression it gives, of course, is greatly out of balance. Do you honestly feel that carping about one’s neighbors contributes effectively to the development of a national esprit de corps in Canada?
MADELEINE CORNETT MACFARLAND.
Canada first, last and only (sigh!)
Clive Cocking’s The CBC May Serve Canada Coast-To-Coast But This Coast Would Prefer Self-Service (September 20) and Martin Knelman’s To The CBC, Thanks From A Grateful Nation (August 9) make interesting but depressing reading. “Canadian culture” is a noble ambition and as a true-blue Canadian how can one possibly object to Canadian content whether regional or national? It is not really all that difficult if you live in a onestation town. One solution to CBC’S programming might be to ship the entire senior management to Jasper and force them to watch one week of “Canadian content.” In Jasper the townsite residents have, for years, been petitioning for cable TV. The CRTC’s latest ruling indicates that because we do not receive two stations at this time we cannot have cable. Canadian culture is
fine but I wonder if there is such a thing as an overdose!
KEITH DEWAR. JASPER, ALTA.
Clive Cocking’s column on the CBC was rather timely from our point of view at the other end of the country. We have just learned that the CBC is planning on closing down our local FM studio in January, after just 18 months on air, as part of a decision to centralize all FM broadcasting from Toronto. Apparently CBC chiefs are disturbed that the FM network has not been as successful as it might have been, a point not really at issue, for how many people want to listen to stereo talk shows night after night? Their answer to the problem, however, which involves cutting out our local morning show—one of the best shows on FM and by far the best choice on the air at that time of day—is beyond comprehension. What is needed is not more Toronto based feed, but more local broadcasting.
PETER FISHER, ST. JOHN'S
People who live in glasshouses...
Peter Newman’s Interview with Adam Zimmerman (September 20) was most informative. It went a long way to illustrate the ethical void—the lack of a social conscience—that besets most executives of major corporations. The insensitivity of Noranda’s executive vice-president to the plight of the Chilean people reflects the attitude of the multinational corporation in a
world where return on investment is crucial to economic survival. The inconsistency of Zimmerman’s remarks pertaining to the expropriation of the potash companies by Premier Blakeney’s government and the “feasibility study on a major copper property” in Chile by Noranda only serves to concretize an existing reality. If Blakeney’s take-over of the potash companies is immoral and dishonest, how much more serious is the immoral action of Noranda in its attempts to close a deal with Chile’s fascist-repressionist military junta? With Noranda’s involvement in Chile we Canadians are being indirectly implicated in this morally reprehensible act.
DAVID J. NORMAN, EDMONTON
If Adam Zimmerman possesses the educational and lifestyle prerequisites to be “The ultimate Canadian WASP,” then he certainly has the attitudes to match. I am increasingly disturbed by the logic of our corporate elite which suggests that to regain control over our own natural resources is “immoral” and “dishonest” but to support one of the most ruthless military dictatorships in the world is just fine and dandy because it is “restoring order to the Chilean economy in a way that is acceptable to a lot of the people.” Zimmerman and I have obviously been talking to different Chileans!
BRIAN HUNSBERGER, WEST MONTROSE, ONT.
But seriously, folks...
I’m curious as to who is serious about the Art section on Jack Bush (September 20). Or rather, who is gently teasing us with pretending to take it seriously? From what I have read from the pens of critics, my hunch is that both the editors of Maclean’s and Bush are chuckling quietly at slipping in those paint advertisements as art. I counted 18 smears of color; any well-used palette could do better.
K. P. CLARKE, PORT WASHINGTON, BC
Let them eat bureaucracy
Terence Dickinson’s Feed The World’s Starving Millions? We May Not Be Able To Feed Our Own (September 20) makes it seem as though both Dickinson and the Science Council of Canada have overlooked one danger signal, at increasing risk to our survival—the tendency of both federal and provincial governments in Canada to inhibit food production in this country to our own detriment and that of the world by interfering more and more with the free market system. Ottawa spends millions buying up “surplus” butter and eggs and spends more millions just to keep them in storage until they go bad, and often long after they are not fit for any use.
Provincial governments interfere with the production of a number of agricultural products by allotting quotas to farmers producing eggs, butter, potatoes and other vegetables as well as fruit, and by inter-
fering with the free transport of these products across provincial boundaries. By means of this interference they discourage the efficient producer and keep the inefficient producer in business to the detriment of the public which must pay for this tomfoolery in two ways: higher prices for the food and increased taxes to finance the cost of hampering production.
Communist countries have turned their backs on private ownership and control of agricultural land and as a result food production perennially falls short of the amount required to feed their peoples. Poland, I understand, is an exception since its government has had sense enough to leave some measure of control of agricultural production in private hands. Russia, however, which was a big exporter of grain before 1914, is now a consistent importer. As Khrushchev is reputed to have remarked to Mao, “When all the world is Communist where will we get our wheat?” H. R. MOFFAT, NANAIMO, BC
Noting the article Where Did The Schools Go Wrong? in the back-to-school edition of Maclean’s and the associated question, Are Canadians Getting Their $12 Billion Worth? (September 6) I would suggest that to the extent schools were affected excessively by articles such as Why Good Teachers Don’t ‘Teach’ Anymore (May, 1967) they would have been prime candidates to “go wrong.” The decade of the Sixties witnessed a wave of publicity that leaned heavily to creativity and inspiration in the educational process. While there was merit in many of the ideas that were being advanced, the balance so necessary for a good climate of learning was upset by the glamour associated with highly publicized gimmicks in school organization and programs. If it is not the responsibility of the teacher to “teach” what is there to ensure and to underpin a structured, sequential program through which children will acquire the skills of literacy and numeracy and the basic concepts of science and the cultural heritage?
D. A. BRISTOW. DIRECTOR OF EDUCATION, THE NORFOLK BOARD OF EDUCATION, SIMCOE, ONT.
The Queen’s English.. .uhh, British
If your magazine expects to be accepted as a reliable newsmagazine for this country, surely we ought to expect a degree of accuracy free of common American mistakes such as in Preview’s The Woman Who Could Be Queen (October 4). In this article about the possible romance involving the Prince of Wales, you refer to the young lady as a possible future “Queen of England.” Is it too much to expect that a Canadian magazine should know that there has not been a Queen of England since 1707 when the Act of Union brought about the formation of the United Kingdom?
W. S. THOMSON. OAKVILLE, ONT.