Oh to be in Ottawa, now that Allan’s not

May 3 1976

Oh to be in Ottawa, now that Allan’s not

May 3 1976

Oh to be in Ottawa, now that Allan’s not


As an ex-Torontonian living voluntarily in Ottawa for the past two years, I feel compelled to respond to Allan Fotheringham’s Dullsville-On-The-Rideau ... (March 22).

His prejudiced comments on Ottawa show a distinct lack of imagination and initiative. It seems he can only moan about the weather and the dullness of other people’s conversation, the dullness of which might be in direct response to his own.

I suppose that most people coming from “grasping, voracious” Toronto are lost when they find themselves in a city with a more subtle appeal. Ottawa has its own special personality, and it has a lot to offer to the aware individual. In beating the same old path to the Chateau Laurier to gape at passing politicians, Fotheringham failed to discover the newer and more interesting places that the Ottawa area has to offer. Ottawa is different from any other city—as all cities should be—and vive la difference!


In Dullsville-On-The-Rideau, I dare say Allan Fotheringham has been too long in the mountains .. . whilst in the valleys he writes as if from on high.


Ought you, in all fairness to the other golden orbs of this realm, allow Allan Fotheringham to extol with so little balance the virtues of Ottawa? Any of us who have lived there—even for a few years— know he exaggerates wildly in his praise of the city’s energy, style and weather—particularly the weather. I think those people must have done something wrong some-

time and brought it on themselves.


I sincerely wish that Allan Fotheringham had begun Dullsville-On-The-Rideau by announcing that he was suffering from calcification of the mind rather than leaving this key admission to the last paragraph.

At the very least, it would have been a valuable aid to understanding his vitriolic approach. At best, it may well have prevented a further injustice: the time I wasted wading through all his jaundiced outpourings.


With Dullsville-On-The-Rideau Allan Fotheringham has written a particularly vituperative article about Ottawa. He remarks on “the dullness of the people,” “the beastly weather,” the “isolation from reality,” and ends with, “Ottawa does not represent Canada as nothing in Canada is so dull.”

Well, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and you can’t please everybody. It would be interesting to hear Fotheringham’s description of some city that has earned his approval. This would not be Victoria: “God’s waiting room, floating adrift on a fantasy island oblivious to real life.” Nor would it be Toronto: “the grasping voraciousness of Toronto (not a New York as someone said, but a failed Boston).” Perhaps it would be Montreal, “the verve of Montreal” (whatever that means). Ottawa may be Dullsville to Fotheringham, but that is better than beingMuggsville.

It would have been illuminating, however, to follow Fotheringham on his threeday sojourn in Ottawa to determine how his unfavorable impressions were secured. Perhaps the severe Ottawa climate caused Fotheringham to feel stiff in the joints. My advice to him for the future is to keep out of those joints. He will find the interesting and imaginative residents of Ottawa skating on the canal or skiing in the Gatineau Hills.


One hand clapping for Ed Schreyer

Your Interview with Ed Schreyer (March 22) shows he is streets ahead of his NDP colleagues in that he recognizes that the labor-oriented, high-consumption society we have constructed over the past 30 years creates high expectations and, at the same time, makes it impossible to meet them. Now if he could only see that the problem is primarily political, many conservatives (small c) could accept him readily.

Let me point out one small corner of the whole. Schreyer speaks as if $30,000 a year or more were the sure mark of membership in “a certain fashionable elite.” I’ve got news for him. That elite is rapidly centring in Ottawa. Only 373 people in the federal civil service got that much money in 1972. By 1974 the number was 2,165. Following the normal course of events, the size of this group at the end of 1975 will not be announced until sometime in late summer. However, given the recent rate of increase in the size of the candidate group (those earning at least $26,000 but less than $30,000), it will probably be nearer 5,000 than 4,000.

This is the same group that got its increase through in July, 1975, well before the imposition of wage-and-price controls on the less fortunate. There are times when inside information and a privileged position can pay off handsomely. A deplorably large number of citizens believes that this timing was planned, not fortuitous.

In a society in which the hand of government falls with a steadily increasing strength upon an ever-widening range of activities, a foot on the ladder leading to the upper ranks of the civil service is the surest road to an elite position.

Schreyer has shown that he understands the economic problem. Our very real respect for him would take a vast jump if he could also realize the political problem that his proposed solutions create.


I enjoyed your interview with Premier Ed Schreyer of Manitoba very much. Thank goodness there’s one politician who is not too afraid or too vote-conscious to tell things as they are: that natural resources are being depleted rapidly; that they won’t magically last forever; and that the myth of progress is just that—a myth!

I would like to see some of the major inequalities rectified so that labor could more gracefully accept wage controls.

Hooray for Ed Schreyer!


To Maclean’s, one cuff behind the ear

I very much enjoyed reading your issue of March 22, particularly The Sky Shops Man, an article on fellow Pictonian Elmer MacKay. Michael Enright presented a very interesting biographical sketch but he has carried poetic license to the extreme and he has not watched his accuracy.

Too many writers fail to establish properly their geographical information. I was amazed to find that miners from England and the Continent “poured into New Glasgow which sat on the largest coal deposit in North America.” I doubt that the citizens of New Glasgow welcomed the thought of being the coal-mining town in Pictou

County. Only the neighboring towns of Stellarton and Westville can claim that honor, and they defend it vehemently.

Being a native of Stellarton myself, I readily recall the districts of my home town, one of which you referred to as “Red Row.” Enright’s description of the area as one of the “mean streets in a tough part of town” is totally unjust. This was the “ company” end of town, where miners and their families lived in dwellings supplied by the coal companies. Sure the miners were tough! They had to be to survive! They were a remarkable breed of man who lived through the depression feeling it more than others—waiting for the 3 p.m. whistle to let them know whether they had a half or a full day’s work on the morrow. From this “tough part of town” came the worldfamous “Draegermen.” I hardly think they raised their children much differently from others—a “cuff behind the ear” was not solely attributed to the upbringing of offspring in this section of town.


The sins of omission

It appears that the meaning of controversy (“discussion in which opposite views are advanced and maintained by opponents”) eludes Maclean’s. The abortion controversy, which has split the church and the medical and legal professions, and which involves great issues of life, liberty and the rule of law, deserves more impartial treatment than you have given it in Morgentaler’s Rainbow (February 9).

Your report might lead a reader to suppose that a practising Catholic is unfit for public office; that a minister of justice should abandon his conscience and the law to serve the interests of the moment.

Dr. Morgentaler’s medical license was suspended, not, as you suggest, as part of a persecution conspiracy but quite likely because there is evidence that he reused disposable vacurettes, exposing his clients to the risks of infection (the Montreal Gazette, December 24, 1974).

As “Canada’s Newsmagazine,” you do your readers a disservice by presenting only half the facts. You may have strong feelings on this issue, but if your cause is just all the facts will bear you out.


Professional snobbism strikes again

1 was dismayed by Dr. R. M. Taylor’s reference in The ‘Fear Of Dying’Is A Legitimate One (Letters, April 5) to “Gifford-Jones” as “a general practitioner with no special background that would qualify him as an expert.” Apart from the fact that “GiffordJones” is an obstetrician/gynecologist, I feel that statements like this contribute greatly to a sense of division in the medical profession, and thence to a sense of bewilderment among patients.

The College of Family Physicians of Canada has been working for 22 years to eradicate the old saying “he’s just a GP” by ensuring that the training received by today’s family doctors is of the highest standard. One should not equate lack of “expert” status with the practice of general medicine—especially not in the field of prevention.


The crusades are over—or should be!

We read your magazine more and more; it is getting better all the time. But may 1 suggest that you try to be more objective, and that you do not show so much bias, even venom and cruelty. You are now a newsmagazine, not a crusader for pet peeves.