A few questions Al Johnson didn’t get asked-and should have been
May I raise a protest at the failure of your interviewer to bring Albert Johnson (Interview, February 7) to the topic that is the subject of a growing flood of letters to MPS and to newspapers throughout the country—the national catastrophe of the CBC? The foggy platitudes with which Johnson replied to Michael Enright’s questions are only the most recent illustrations of his Ottawa bureaucrat’s ability to present an imaginary situation that bears no resemblance to the reality.
The CBC is a tightly autocratic organization, the directing bureaucrats of which are carrying on a policy of lowering all standards of programming and performance in pursuit of a hypothetical mass audience that never materializes. Johnson talks as if it were possible for a CBC employee critical of this policy to approach him freely and without fear. How does he reconcile this with the suspension of Jeff Anderson of the Radio Arts Department for having the effrontery to sign a petition of arts producers sent directly to the president because they knew it would be ignored by the middlelevel bureaucrats? How does Johnson explain that Robert Weaver, a nationally respected figure in broadcasting, was forced to resign because the president made no effort to protect him against the rivals in the corporation who were bent on destroying the quality and sensitivity of programming Weaver had fostered for a quarter of a century? And when Johnson talks of his meeting with the Vancouver television producers, why does he fail to mention that shortly afterward the Vancouver television producers joined others throughout the country to demand a Royal Commission to investigate the problem of regionalism within the CBC?
The destruction of effective regional broadcasting, which once flourished in Canada (and still does within the BBC), has been one of the main causes of criticism of recent CBC policies. Johnson tries to evade this by stating: “For example, fewer than 50% of all radio programs emanate from Toronto. The percentage of network programming from Vancouver, for example, is around 25%.” But this is not in any way true regional broadcasting; it is network broadcasting, which means that the planning and choice of programs and the financing of them are entirely in the hands of the Toronto headquarters of the English network, which was not the case a decade ago, when many creative and interesting programs originated in the regions.
GEORGE WOODCOCK. EDITOR. CANADIAN LITERATURE. VANCOUVER
The We aver-A nderson episodes referred to by Woodcock occurred subsequent to Maclean’s interview with the CBC president.
Matters of fact, matters of opinion
In her review of books on the North (January 24) Barbara Amiel writes that I am “present adviser to the NWT Indian Brotherhood.” That is not true. Mv work for the Indian Brotherhood, as an economic consultant. terminated on June 30 of last year, and I am now working full-time at the University of Toronto. Amiel manages to bewrong on one of the very few facts in her opinion-ridden piece. If she cannot even get a simple fact right, why should her opinions be thought to be of any worth?
My own answer to that is that on a topic on which there are indeed many opinions, Amiel shows an unerring ability to agree with the least credible and most objection-
able. Why Maclean’s chooses to let her parade her contempt for decency and compassion, on this and other issues, escapes me. It’s all too reminiscent of the I’m-nobleeding-heart approach of Time magazine, which one hoped would no longer afflict this country.
MEL WATKINS. UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO, TORONTO
For the correct answer, divide by five
Sunny, Cloudy, Unsettled (January 10) states that Manitoba’s northern power development, which was originally estimated to have cost $1.5 billion, “has hit five billion dollars without being completed.”
In fact, the cost of northern power development in Manitoba has “hit” approximately one billion dollars, no matter which way you add it up. If eventually, by the year 2000, it ends up costing five billiondollars, then that cost escalation will have to be judged alongside similar cost escalations for other major construction projects, such as Syncrude and James Bay.
EGON FRECH, OFFICE OF THE PREMIER. WINNIPEG
The story should have read “estimates for completion of the project have hit five billion dollars. ”
No need to wait—do it now!
How nice to see our association mentioned in The Great Canadian Shape-Up (January 24). Alas, your statement that the YMCA in Burlington has a waiting list is not correct. We welcome anyone to join us for fitness, fun and fellowship!
MARLEEN HOOLBOOM, CHAIRPERSON, PHYSICAL PROGRAM COMMITTEE, YMCA, BURLINGTON, ONT.
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Racism: less a response than a choice
Having done extensive research on the phenomenon of racism in Toronto, we would like to take issue with certain aspects of your analysis of the problem. The article is fundamentally concerned with external factors which apparently produce the effect of racism (unemployment, economic insecurity, large percentage of “colored” immigrants, etc.). The problem with this approach is that it ignores what Sartre has called the “passion” of racism. The sources of racism cannot be sought only in logical, rational explanations such as the ones you have given. For ultimately to be a racist is to choose to hate, and to choose to approach life in an illogical, nonrational way. This choice is made by individuals in any circumstances of life.
We cannot just look at the externals of Canadian society which supposedly cause people to make this choice—in the end we must look for the explanation in the area whence all human problems emanate— the human heart and mind.
JOY CRYSDALE AND NANCY DURHAM, GRADUATE SOCIOLOGY STUDENTS, YORK UNIVERSITY, TORONTO
The article on racism appears to be fluently written and well researched. However there are a couple of things that should be mentioned. White Canadians who are advocates of East Indians “going back where they came from” because they appear to be following their own customs and, so far as the Sikhs are concerned, adopting their own mode of dress, should be made aware that these selfsame whites are responsible for exactly the same behavior when they live in Asian countries.
White people (Americans, Canadians, Europeans) of whom there were a large number living in the city in Pakistan where I was born, tended to live in ghetto-like communities where they spoke their own languages, wore their own dress, practised their own faith and generally brought their children up away from the “contaminating” influence of any of the native people. Most of these whites never made any attempt to learn the native language or customs, yet they were never harassed to my knowledge and they lived in beautiful houses with as many as six or eight servants. Canadians seem to forget that no matter where people travel in the world, they tend to bring their customs with them. It is human nature.
MRS. A. BOURKE, HAMILTON
Let’« give blame where blame Is due
The heading for your King Kong film review (January 24) lists Dino De Laurentiis as the film’s director. John Guillermin (actual director) may take exception to this even though the well-known showman Dino may have seemed in control. Then Urjo Kareda seems to think, as other reviewers have, that Kong was really a mechanical model. The fact is that Rick Baker played Kong in all but a few brief scenes, e.g. shots of the arm, hand, and a few stationary long shots. A “man in a monkey suit,” to quote Kareda, did attack the commuter train. Also what were the other monsters in the film? I saw only one—an admittedly rubbery-looking snake.
DANIEL PHELAN, TORONTO
I agree with Urjo Kareda’s attack on the remake of King Kong. However, I must protest the statement that “the film doesn’t depart appreciably from its predecessor.” There can be no comparison between De Laurentiis’ multimillion-dollar imitation and RKO’S 1933 original classic. Most visibly absent from the current film is the incredible footage of battling prehistoric monsters and of Kong himself so painstakingly modeled over years by Willis O’Brien, filmed using stop-action photography, and supplemented with a delicately created soundtrack. De Laurentiis’ own publicist admits their lone plastic snake was a dismal failure. Combine this with a pathetic script and a leading lady whose earlier success as a model can only be explained by the fact that she didn’t need to open her mouth, and consider that 40 years of technology and $38 million separate the two films: Kong 76 is an insult to the genius of the late Merian C. Cooper, Edgar Wallace and O’Brien.
My regret is that millions have not had a chance to appreciate the genius of Kong ’33 who earned RKO its Academy Award for pioneering special effects before there ever was such a category.
ROY JAMIESON, DARTMOUTH, NS
A wait of three to six months is in order for anyone wanting to see the original King Kong, RKO, which owns Kong ’33 and a share in Kong 76, has taken the 35mm version off the market temporarily. The 16mm print is still in distribution.
Such a bad rap for one so young
I feel that it is rather strange that Urjo Kareda would seem to miss the real faults and merits of a film but that is what he does in examining Nicholas Gessner’s The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane (February 7). In the context of the film, what Jodie Foster is becoming as Jodie Foster is irrelevant. What she is as Rynn Jacobs is what the film is all about. This girl, one of the most disturbing characters to appear on the screen in some time, can be excused for being awkward: what 13-year-old is not? Moreover, she goes through some pretty strong emotional crises, the direct result of the totally isolated and antisocial existential life that Rynn and her father build. Because of this, she is responsible for three deaths, is forced to trust an outsider (Scott Jacoby’s Mario) and finally realizes that she has lost her cherished goal—control of her personal destiny.
Kareda is correct, however, in calling the film a botch. Scriptwriter and author Laird Koenig deserves the most blame for the ineptness of the work—especially the scenes with Foster and Jacoby. The love scene does not seem to me as painful as it does to Kareda, but Koenig could have tried to find a better way of handling it. Under these circumstances, perhaps The Little Girl should have been left unfilmed. But Jodie Foster should not carry the blame alone.
PAUL CONSTABLE, TORONTO
Generally pleased, with a minor quibble
I am pleased to see you devote an article to the unusually harmonious labor management relations in Austria as in A n A Iternative To The Strike? Yes. A Good One (January 24). Canadian readers are familiar with the success of the West German economy in avoiding lengthy, costly strikes but the equally, or even more, impressive achievements of smaller countries in this regard are often overlooked.
However, I should like to correct a mistake in the story. The last German troops were “ushered” out of Vienna by the victorious Soviet army in April 1945. The soldiers who left Austria in 1955 pursuant to the Austrian State Treaty were those of the four Allied occupation powers (Great Britain, United States, Soviet Union and France).
HEINZ A. BURGSTALLER, KINGSTON, ONT.
See what we’re doing, not what we did
Although What Goes Up Must Come Down (November 29) gives the impression of being an up-to-date account of the acid rain problem, the emission rate of sulphur dioxide quoted for Murdochviile definitely does not reflect the current situation. The figure obviously dates back to 1972 when the mining operations at Gaspe' Copper Mines underwent a major expansion. During this expansion several million dollars worth of pollution control equipment, including an acid plant, was installed for limiting particulate and sulphur dioxide emissions. Not all industry is “hung up on cost/benefit ratios.” In our case, the production of sulphuric acid resulting from the desulphurization of stack gases is costing us money.
RON ROBERTSON. ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROL COORDINATOR.
GASPE COPPER MINES, LIMITED, MURDOCH VILLE. QUE.
Strangers in a strangely hostile land
I myself am an immigrant to Canada and I was relieved to read Racism? You Can’t Argue With The Facts (February 7). It seems to me that there is a sort of hypocrisy present in a country that so actively opposes racism abroad, when it is so obviously becoming a part of the Canadian way of life. Many immigrants choose to come to Canada rather than the United States because Canada promoted an image of so called “ethnic diversity,” where it is possible to start a whole new life free from any form of prejudice or persecution. Sadly this is not so. Most of Canada’s residents today were or are immigrants from their mother country due to either political or racial persecution and they have come here to seek a better life. I think it is time for Canadians to wake up to the problems of the new immigrant. Assimilation does not occur overnight and unless we as immigrants are made to feel at home, assimilation will never take place.
CATHY AQUART. VICTORIA
I am sickened and saddened to learn of the dimensions of the racial hatred growing in our society. Is the golden rule now passé? What can people of goodwill do to help these victims of man’s lowest instincts? What can we do to promote respect... the self-respect that allows us to respect all others?
Thank you so much for a badly needed article on racism. At last the issue is out in the open and on paper for all to see. Too many naive Canadians, when asked about overt racism, will instantly point the finger of blame at their American neighbor. In the same breath they will strongly assert that there are no such biases in the true north strong and free. Your article accurately buried that myth once and for all.
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