What was AI Johnson doing? All Fotheringham had to do was ask

May 2 1977

What was AI Johnson doing? All Fotheringham had to do was ask

May 2 1977

What was AI Johnson doing? All Fotheringham had to do was ask


Allan Fotheringham very correctly asserts that the CBC must remain independent of any political pressure or direction in Thou Shalt Have No Other Gods Before Thy Government (April 4). I asserted the same thing, in even more unequivocal terms, during the recent barrage of political criticism of the CBC. Specifically, I said I would resign before I would accept political direction or pressure on the programming or the management of the CBC. I only regret that in one part of his story, Fotheringham got his facts wrong. He asserts and then asks: “What Johnson was doing, submitting in person to the bullying of the Liberal caucus, is a mystery that still remains. Since when did the president of the CBC have to become the target of one party’s caucus?” A simple phone call to me would have given Fotheringham the answer. I did not “submit,” or agree to become the target of one party’s caucus. When I became president of the CBC, 1 made it known to the chairmen of all party caucuses in the House of Commons that 1 would be prepared to meet with them once a year to discuss any questions they, as members of Parliament, might have concerning the CBC and its parliamentary mandate. All parties responded favorably and I met all four Parliamentary caucuses early in 1976 and again in 1977. On the basis of a plain and palpable error in fact, Fotheringham concludes that the loyalties of the president of CBC “were more to his government than to his staff.” This is manifest nonsense.


Reforming ‘the system’ from without

1 think Dr. Gregory Baum (Interview,

April 4) is the first Christian theologian within the Roman Catholic hierarchy who stands up for his convictions. He is displaying the true Christian concern when he sees that the church’s teachings in the lives of common people is not relevant. Pope John made a lot of waves in the world and earned the respect of every Christian. I hope Baum creates waves towards reform on outdated negative orders.


There were no shock waves felt by the intelligent Roman Catholic world when Dr. Gregory Baum resigned from the priesthood, only relief. Dr. Baum, in effect, is a Trojan Horse using his position to undermine the church. His views appeal only to those individuals who wish to justify their behavior and evade their responsibility to God and to society.



With reference to Allan Fotheringham’s Internal Warfare Strikes Toronto Literary Mafia Family (March 7), would you please explain whether it was J. L. Granatstein or Fotheringham who awarded the late Rt. Hon. Arthur Meighan the posthumous knighthood.


The error was ours. By the way, the name is Meighen.

Not guilty, with an explanation

The Implant That Could Replace Insulin, And Even Go It One Better (April 4) contains some inaccurate and unfair comments concerning Connaught Labora-

tories. In the last paragraph, Maclean’s states: “Last year unhappiness among some physicians led to an investigation of Connaught by the Canadian Medical Association, whose report found the lab’s facilities to be ‘grossly inadequate.’ ” The facts are:

a) The CMA investigated the quality and safety of Connaught’s products at Connaught’s request for the purpose of reviewing, by independent and scientifically knowledgeable experts, allegations published in the press which Connaught knew to be both unfounded and irresponsible.

b) The Committee of Experts assembled by the CMA did in fact report that all allegations relative to the safety and efficacy of Connaught’s products were unfounded.

c) The CMA Committee did not find Connaught’s facilities to be “grossly inadequate.” Examination of the report indicates that the Committee did use that phrase—not in connection with Connaught—but with reference to the Government of Canada’s Bureau of Biologies, at Ottawa. This is the national regulatory authority and is not connected to Connaught in any way.


Sorry old-timer, the new order’s arrived

Allan Fotheringham’s Money Still Can’t Buy Happiness—And If You Don V Believe That, Check Out Alberta (March 21) will undoubtedly give many Albertans hearty chuckles.

Fotheringham suggests that Albertans livç in “a musclebound Switzerland,” and that we feel “frustrated and trapped.” What utter nonsense! Is he showing fear

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Where there’s hope, there’s life

In The Collapse Of Britain (April 4) Barbara Amiel has presented a picture of Britain that is too bleak and pessimistic to be totally true. Having recently visited England (my native land) I saw very little evidence of the gloom she so painstakingly sought out. If her article had been published in Britain she would have been laughed out of the country. Despite persistent reports to the contrary, the situation in Britain, although not good, is not as disastrous or hopeless as the press here would have us believe.


The Collapse Of Britain struck a familiar note which forced me to sit down once again and diagnose the “English Disease.” Since my recent return from a 17-year stint in England, I have tried explaining that country to many people, including myself. As Barbara Amiel discovered, the symptoms are legion. There are endless examples from public and private life, profound or trivial, disturbing or anecdotal and I don’t propose to indulge. They form at best a bizarre kaleidoscope and at worst a credibility gap of Atlantic proportions.

Britain is no longer a state, but a state of mind. One of the hallmarks of a sovereign state is the exercise of power. Britain no

longer calls the shots. On one hand, she is in hock to international bankers who loan money on their terms, imposing preconditions and policy restrictions; on the other hand, she is hostage to trade unions who operate beyond the law, solely in the interest of their own members. The present government has little room to manoeuvre. An election tomorrow would change little. Whatever party came to power, much of that power is preempted.

Democracy is hamstrung; decisionmaking falters. A sense of hiatus—the suspension of decision and indecision alike— seeps through the country like fog. You can feel it and smell it but try and put your finger on it. Urgency and immediacy have no meaning. Everything drifts.


The crime of punishment

I was deeply moved by Michael Enright’s excellently written article, The Halls Of Anger (March 21), on Canada’s treatment of men in prison—human beings whose errors happened to fall into a different category than those of the rest of us. Obviously the heart of this problem rests in the heartlessness of the uncaring and punitively minded public; and I would like to suggest that this public has been shaped in its individual childhoods by parents and other authorities who rule by the punishment ethic. Every “bad child” grows up to become a merciless member of the righteous society that believes “bad men” should be cast out from the human race. As we begin to realize that every'child is born good, and learn how to preserve that goodness with loving care and the abolition of punishment and all the attitudes that go with it, we will move toward reducing in numbers the bad men on one side of the bars and the bad men on the other who judge them.


The Halls Of Anger is a classic example of the typical biased, self-satisfied, ultra-liberal drivel that the public is constantly being exposed to in Maclean's. To expose cases of injustice and cruelty inside our federal prisons is one thing—the people are entitled to the facts. However, to subject us to an obviously amateur piece of journalism touting Canada’s criminals as near-martyrs is another thing.


I want to compliment Michael Ènright on his dynamite piece of work. The Halls Of Anger. He writes with incredible enthusiasm and incisiveness; dissecting the major issues and making them readily apparent to all those fortunate enough to have read the article. It is structurally flawless, molding the mounds of documentation into a pictorial—both descriptive and conclusive.


Ask and ye shall receive?

In George Chuvalo Is Still On His Feet (January 24) Barbara Amiel reports: “But when the East End Boxing and Youth Centre applied to Wintario (the enormously wealthy fund the Ontario lottery system has created) for funds to keep the gym going, they didn’t even rate an answer.” That is not correct. The only application the East End Boxing and Youth Centre made to Wintario was on March 24, 1976, for boxing gloves and other equipment. The requested material was supplied on June 16.




According to East End Boxing Club director Kenneth Cleveland, a letter of application for funds (not equipment) was made to Wintario by last year’s director, Constable Malcolm Gibson of the Metropolitan Police Force. Cleveland claims that Gibson ’s letter received no response and that the club received no funds.

The right thing for the right reasons

So Dennis McDermott (Interview, March 21) is put out because of the too ready acceptance by provincial NDP governments of federal wage and price controls. It doesn’t seem to occur to McDermott that these governments accepted controls in the honest belief that they would protect the workingmen, along with everyone else, from the ravages of inflation. As he said to your interviewer, without controls manufacturers can unilaterally raise prices, but “a wage has to be bargained from a hardnosed employer.” So who stood to gain the most from controls? McDermott’s thinking throughout your interview reveals the narrow-mindedness that one has come to expect of union officials (witness his remark about universities as places “to sit in as an alternative to work”).


Your interview with Dennis McDermott of the United Auto Workers should help to dispel the hidebound, negative attitude in Canada toward labor, unions and all their works while at the same time accepting without question arbitrary price increases from the corporate sector. Unfortunately, this attitude has always received traditional nurturing from the professional elite (the most powerful unions of all) and most of the Old Guard politicians.


The Disney (per)version

It comes as no surprise that Jay Bruce and Heather Sommers (Letters, March 21) as well as most North Americans fail to comprehend the underlying reality of Disney Land and Disneyworld and consequently misunderstood Walter Stewart’s The Better Mousetrap (February 21).

The Walt Disney entertainment empire is one of America’s largest industrial enterprises, ranked 502nd in the nation with sales exceeding $175 million. The corporate structure that manages this vast assemblage of entertainment and popular culture is a model of modern conglomerization. What makes it so profitable is the skillful utilization of a systems approach to entertainment and especially to the use of the mass media. The Disney empire deals largely, though no longer exclusively, in imagery. The transcendant message transmitted by Disney films, tape, comic books, in the great outdoors and in suburban scenarios can be articulated as: behold a world in which there is no social conflict. The world is a happy place and the American middle class experiences the world at its best. There are some “bad guys,” but they are individuals, not representatives of significant social divisions.

While the throngs wander through the self-designated “happiest place on earth” in automation conformity, drinking, eating and resting at their own considerable expense, they may eventually enter the “Hall of Presidents.” Here they will be privileged to listen to a speech of Abraham Lincoln’s that is surprisingly uncontroversial. There is no evidence in the speech of the slavery issue or the Civil War. This empty and yet very meaningful message, in terms of possible effect on the audience, tells us what the entertainment that Walt Disney Productions creates is all about—the evisceration of social meaning and the reinforcement of the status quo. Disney uses animality, infantilism and innocence to mask the web of interest that forms a socially and historically determined and concretely situated system; North American Imperialism.




This fellow Turner had such promise

Robert Lewis’ The Turner Campaign (March 21) admirably portrayed some of the frustrations and fantasies at work in the Canadian body politic, as we all watch with curiosity the unfolding of this leaderin-exile scenario. Will the law offices of McMillan Binch be to Turner what the tiny French village of Colomey-les-Deux-Eglises was to Charles de Gaulle, a dramatic waiting place dominated by his august presence which increasingly stood in so eloquent a contrast to the crumbling regime that he became the obvious one for the people to summon back to guide their country through its hour of need? Or will it instead simply become the political graveyard of one who showed such promise in earlier, better days, but who now has retreated so deeply into the corporate boardrooms of the nation that he will be well beyond earshot, not to mention shared concerns, of the common people of Canada, should they wish to recall him from exile?


(hat a new champion in Canada is slowly and forthrightly wresting the crown of vigor, vitality and vision from weary and woeful central Canada? Dear Allan, Canada does not stop at the St. Clair river. It has escaped the bounds of the Upper Canada syndrome; it has been growing steadily for years with a vitality and a maturity unmatched by other Canadians.


The possibilities do seem endless ...

Stay Or Go? (April 4) on the agony of the poor English-speaking Quebecker was first class. Now I have no doubt that you are preparing a follow-up for your next issue: the cover of Maclean’s showing a Canadian flag pushing out a French family, with the title: Stay Or Go? The Agony Of The French-Speaking Canadian and inside: Canada’s French, A Vanishing Minority. After that one, you will also be well advised to have an issue picturing a native family being pushed out by two flags.


Errors of commission

My debut as Maclean’s dance writer in Good Things Do Come In Small Packages (April 4) was not particularly auspicious. There are no fewer than four errors. Two of these, a typographical mistake and a factual error (the National Ballet has 62, not 65 dancers) are relatively minor. But the misspellingofthe namesof Marina Eglevsky and Norbert Vesak are embarrassing and unconscionable, particularly since these individuals are so well known in the Canadian performing arts scene.


The railroading of the railroad

In Workin’ On The Railroad (March 21), Maclean’s might have looked at the growing movement across Canada for improved passenger train service, instead of producing the usual negative clichés about money-losing trains. No mention is made of the immense potential in energy savings with a modern, efficient rail service, nor of the value to the environment of a nearly pollution-free mode whose land requirements are minimal. The article also ignores fundamental reasons for the present state of passenger rail in Canada: massive federal investment (i.e. subsidy) for air transport and provincial investment in highways (both of which are “money-losing”), but virtually nothing for rail; a blatant anti-rail bias in Lang’s Ministry of Transport, so preoccupied with Mirabel and STOL aircraft that it is incapable of taking rail seriously; CP Rail’s deliberate efforts to discourage passengers; CN’S valiant attempts to improve service thwarted by MOT’S refusal of funds, VIA Rail can and will succeed if Canada’s priorities are changed, i.e. if a fraction of the money lavished on airports and freeways is invested in rail.