The government pleads not guilty—with an explanation

September 6 1976

The government pleads not guilty—with an explanation

September 6 1976

The government pleads not guilty—with an explanation


I refer to Remember The Old Saying About Life Being Priceless? (May 17) in which reference is made to the example of swine flu vaccine as an indication of the short-sightedness of government. I must take exception to the implications regarding the swine flu vaccine acquisition program and the suggestion that the Institute Armand Frappier predicted the flu outbreak and that its request for an $800,000 grant to prepare vaccines was turned down.

In late 1974, the then Institute of Microbiology and Hygiene of Montreal presented a proposal to develop a Canadian source of influenza vaccine, which is usually required each fall on a regular basis. Its proposal was carefully reviewed both by the Department of National Health and Welfare and the provincial ministries of health. Subsequently an arrangement was formulated whereby a Canadian production capacity to look after essential needs would be developed over a period of a few years. Its principal features included a $200,000 contribution from the federal government for necessary building renovations and guaranteed purchases by the provinces of a minimum number of doses, to provide the necessary financial security to the institute to undertake the development. On November 4, 1975,1 presented a $200,000 cheque to the director of the institute to initiate the necessary building renovations. Almost all provinces guaranteed minimum purchases of the institute’s products at a price that would include the amortization of an estimated $550,000 equipment debt. Unfortunately, the A/swine mutation of the influenza virus, which no one (including staff of the Frappier Institute) foresaw as late as January or

February of 1976, appeared before the facility could be fully equipped and scaled up to meet the emergency. In part, this was due to a request by the institute to renegotiate some of the terms of the original agreement.


What they don’t know hurts nobody

Flesh Of The Flesh (Family, June 28) on adoption reunions gives rise to serious questions that ought not to be left unresolved. Whatever restraints now stand in the way of adoptees meeting their biological parents they are not merely “barriers... raised by officialdom” as is suggested. The reasons are much more fundamental and go to the basic concept of adoption itself which is essentially a legal concept. It forms the basis for what, in most cases, flourishes into a beautiful lifelong family relationship for both the adoptee and the adopter. The legalities are that, upon adoption, the child ceases to be the child of the biological parents and becomes for all purposes the child of the adoptive parents.

It is in the context of the concept of adoption that the efforts of Parent Finders and similar organizations must be viewed. Is it morally acceptable for an organization to avow a cause that flies in the face not merely of “officialdom” but undermines the basic concept of adoption as clearly embodied in the law? What of the 200,000 adoptive parents in Canada who entered upon adoption on the basis of the law as it now stands, coupled with the assurances given by adoptive agencies that no effort would be made at any time to reveal identities? Are these understandings now to be

seriously undermined by those who would urge a change in the law with an ex post facto effect. If so, adoption becomes little more than another form of foster care—a sort of glorified 18 years of baby-sitting on some other person’s behalf who renounced all claim to the child in the first place. Our organization recognizes, as did the Berger Commission, that in rare cases there might be an overwhelming psychological need (as distinct from mere curiosity) for an adoptee to know who his biological parents are. The law now provides ample opportunity for such a situation through an application to a judge.

It is incorrect to suggest that the Berger Commission recommended a reunion registry for adult adoptees. The very opposite is the case. True, at one stage it toyed with the idea but in part seven of its fifth report it states: “Having considered these proposals, on balance, we are not prepared to recommend the concept of a reunion registry.” Biological origins can be overdone. The fact is that the closest human relationship of our present social order is void of any biological underpinnings— marriage.


We were quite pleased with the article on Parent Finders (Family, June 28). In the past month we have had four more successful reunions, one was a mother reunited with her two daughters who were listed in our Reunion Registry.


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The wrong things for the wrong reasons

Maclean’s is to be congratulated on its choice of Peter Brimelow as its new Business Editor. I have for some time enjoyed and been informed by Brimelow’s journalistic talents, both in The Financial Post and now in Maclean’s. In The Heart’s In The Right Place, But The Head’s Another Matter (July 19) he has outdone himself. I cannot recall having read a more cogent or penetrating analysis of the problems of foreign aid. While those who would substitute emotionalism for clear thinking are sure to howl in protest, Brimelow is quite correct in reminding us that the complexity of the question is such that it cannot be

solved by simply dumping resources onto the Third World. That alleviates guilt feelings, not poverty.

Government-to-government handouts are fraught with hazards too often ignored. Professor Edward Banfield pointed out a dozen years ago that economic development takes place, not when a country’s national treasury is enriched but when an indigenous economic infrastructure is created and the disposable income of the individual citizen rises (“per-capital income” is a statistical abstraction generating more loose talk than economic wellbeing). While it is good that we are concerned about the plight of the peoples of

the Third World, we also need some clear thinking and rethinking on the effectiveness of what we are doing.


Sometimes due credit gets a bit overpaid

It was stated in the opening paragraph of the interview with Dr. Wilder Penfield (April 19) that he had “found the cause of and cure for epilepsy.” I have searched several libraries and Í can find nothing to substantiate this statement apart from the well-known fact that brain tumors often produce epilepsy and that such tumors had been treated many times by Dr. Penfield.

It is my understanding that there are many types of epilepsy. While some may be curable, I have always been under the impression that in a broad general sense the illness could be controlled but not cured—primarily because no cure had ever been discovered.


Dr. Penfield discovered a method of curing some forms of epilepsy through brain surgery. However most forms are not operable and causes and cures are still being sought.

Teaching Fotheringham a thing or two

Allan Fotheringham’s The Unlikely Little Aussie Who Could Teach Canadian Unions A Thing Or Two (June 28) is a well-deserved pat on the back to Jack Mundey for his Green Ban program; but it is also a totally unwarranted slap in the face of the labor movement in Canada. Fotheringham didn’t even have to look beyond Vancouver to find a recent, and typical, example of labor’s social involvement—the De Cosmos Village housing co-op which recently won a Vincent Massey award for excellence in the urban environment. The labor movement, both provincially and nationally, was a partner with churches and co-ops in sponsoring this project and the program that produced some 6,000 units of co-op housing in more than a dozen Canadian cities. Moreover, labor’s role in promoting the development of community health centres, human rights and civil liberties, support for disadvantaged groups, and environmental projects is well known to many Canadians. It has to be assumed that an able journalist such as Fotheringham must also have been aware of the nature and extent of labor’s social involvement; and that his slurs stem from an anti-labor bias, also evident in his snide questions regarding the Mackenzie Valley pipeline. Labor’s frequently stated official position is this: settle native land claims and undertake adequate environmental impact assessments first!

Jack Mundey, in his address to the Habitat Forum, acknowledged the role being played by the CLC in environmental concerns, even if Fotheringham did not.