Only the gas is a ‘poly-killer’; the products are harmless

June 14 1976

Only the gas is a ‘poly-killer’; the products are harmless

June 14 1976

Only the gas is a ‘poly-killer’; the products are harmless


Poly-Killer (April 19) may have needlessly terrified many Canadians and harmed a highly responsible industry since you failed to clarify the following points: a) Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is a solid plastic—| not a gas. There is no evidence or even sug-gestion that anyone anywhere has suffered any ill-effects from handling or using PVC products; b) vinyl chloride gas (the raw material from which PVC is made) is the material linked to 45 cancer deaths throughout the world. All of the deaths were employees associated with PVC resin manufacturing exposed to high concentrations of the gas for many years; and c) since “blowing the whistle” on itself in January, 1974, the industry has reacted promptly and diligently to eliminate any hazard to employees.

The implication of your article is that people are in jeopardy of getting angiosarcoma of the liver from floor tiles, plastic flowers, upholstery materials and packaging. This is as remote as suggesting that readers might contract cancer from carcinogenic solvents or inks used to print your magazine.



Reflections on the ‘terrible beauty’

Congratulations on A Little Bit Of Hell (May 3). To my knowledge this is the first historically accurate account in a Canadian magazine dealing with the atrocities committed by groups other than the IRA. The article must be a surprise to many Ca-

nadians because the facts do not jibe with their preconceived views as perpetrated by the British propaganda machine.

Since I have been studying in depth the history of Ireland for a number of years, I can fully corroborate Hubert de Santana’s findings. His skill and bravery in the writing of this concise account is most praiseworthy and I hope that it is not the last of his articles on Ireland. They are needed to balance the one-sided picture that has been presented to date.


Never have I read a more biased piece of writingthanzl Little Bit Of Hell. Hubert de Santana is obviously a sympathetic supporter of the IRA side in the conflict and the Catholic point of view in general. Only the atrocities committed by the Protestants are described in gory detail; only the explosions and their horrible results perpetrated by Protestants in Dublin are lingeringly portrayed. No mention is made of the terrible slaughters perpetrated by the IRA in London or the fact that the Protestants committed no atrocities at all till provoked by months of brutal bombings by the IRA. The British are portrayed as evil torturers; their prison, Long Kesh, is compared to Dachau, whereas in reality Dachau was a thousand times worse and its victims demonstrably innocent. The “romper rooms” of the Irish, where traitors are slowly tortured to death, are glossed over as if very unimportant, yet they far more closely resemble Dachau. But, as usual, it is the Englishman who is cruel. Incredible.


A Little Bit of Hell has to be one of the finest articles written on Northern Ireland ever. Santana sorts through the highly complex social and political issues for us, keeping them in their proper historical perspective. The wonder of it all is that he succeeds in clarifying the situation while remaining unbiased. This article is further demonstration that Maclean ’s has come of age as a number one newsmagazine.


It is time my generation made it quite clear that the Nazi concentration camps were unique. Hitler’s plans to exterminate European Jewry were detailed and worked on systematically—a plan of genocide set up over many years.

I believe Hubert de Santana when he says in A Little Bit Of Hell how horrible was the Long Kesh concentration camp outside Belfast. But that the editors of Maclean’s permit him to describe it as a “mini-Dachau” is stupid and dangerously misleading.

I do not believe that the idiot and bigoted Protestants, or those other Christians, the dogma-driven Catholics, have a plan of complete extermination, one for the other—even if it is only because they lack the organizational ability.

Since I helped place children from the concentration camps after the Second World War, I will not tolerate the use of “mini-Dachau” for an Irish prison that I am sure did not contain hundreds of children or a mind-freezing blueprint for genocide.


Editor’s note

In A Government Under The Influence (May 17), a photograph was published of George Sinclair, Chairman of Mac Laren A dvertising Ltd. Although the story was basically about the Sky Shops affair, it detailed some of the

dealings that business firms, including MacLaren’s, have had with the federal government. In this context the cutline under Mr. Sinclair’s photograph (“Sinclair (above) who’s happy to share in the spoils”) was both unfair and incorrect. Maclean’s regrets the implication and apologizes for the error.

Mister No? It all depends on who asks

I was disappointed in Mister No (May 3) on Treasury Board President Jean Chrétien. Even a cursory examination of Chrétien’s record should have convinced Glen Allen that the real Chrétien’s “Mister No” image is in fact marred by a considerable number of warts.

I would be the last to deny that Chrétien has indeed effected savings in federal expenditures. We have all seen the knife Treasury Board has been wielding which has been aimed especially against those least able to look after themselves.

First hit was health care with the introduction of limits on federal contributions to the provinces under the Medical Care Act. Then came limits on funds for postsecondary education. Then, perhaps most criminal of all, cutbacks in funds for much needed applied medical research—an area already starved for funds in this country. Housing did not escape the axe. CMHC was sent scurrying back to the drawing boards at the ninth hour with instructions to reduce its 1976 capital expenditures for housing programs to a little more than a third of last year’s payout. Now we all face the prospect of high provincial and local government taxes as a result of the federal government’s latest decision to unilaterally and retroactively reduce the amount of tax revenue it will transfer to the prov-

inces. Ontario and Quebec have raised medicare premiums substantially.

Chrétien certainly can save money—especially where it hurts. But we should also look at where he spends.

Since 1968, we have seen a remarkable increase in the number of senior executive (sx) employees in the federal public service whose current salaries range from $27,500 to $54,000. In 1968 there were 381 sx employees in the federal public service. By October, 1975, the number had jumped to 1,260. It is interesting to look at what happened in the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development of which Chrétien was Minister from 1968 to 1974. In 1969 the number of sx employees in that department was 16 and by 1974 the number had increased to 47.

Foreign travel is a big benefit of working for the federal government—at least in the upper echelons. Excluding the three departments (National Defense, Manpower and Immigration, and Industry, Trade and Commerce) who would not give travel expenditures, federal departments spent $25.9 million between 1970 and 1974, sending an average of 6,467 employees per year on trips outside the country.

At the other end of the scale restraint is much more evident. Over the past four years, we have seen a significant increase in the number of temporary employees

which, incidentally, saves on supplementary benefits that otherwise would have to be paid to these employees. Between 1971 and 1975, 17 federal departments increased the number of temporary employees from 8,013 to 18,679.


If George wouldn’t, somebody had to

In You Too Can Be The Heavyweight Champion (April 5) Jerry Gladman takes the Canadian Professional Boxing Federation (CPBF) to task most unfairly for stripping George Chuvalo of the Canadian heavyweight title. Let’s set the record straight: a) Chuvalo did not lose his title purely because of his long inactivity in Canada but also because he hadn’t fought anywhere for two years. Totally inactive boxers should not hold championships; b) the CPBF cannot be held responsible for Chuvalo’s inactivity—it’s up to the fighter and his manager to secure bouts and maintain a good standing in boxing ratings; c) before stripping Chuvalo of his crown, the federation twice wrote to his manager, Irv Ungerman, inquiring about his boxer’s status and intentions. At that time Chuvalo was not training or actively seeking bouts and he appeared to be in retirement. No reply was received.