October 16 1978


October 16 1978


Quite a different story

In your article, Giving the People What They Want (Sept. 25), you suggest some Liberal candidates might want to put some distance between themselves and Pierre Trudeau in the October byelections. In support of this, you quote Westmount candidate Don Johnston as saying, “I’ve known Pierre Trudeau for 20 years, but it’s troubling me. Maybe the best thing is just to say nothing.” The remark is generously attributed to my column. But while the quotation is textually accurate, it couldn’t be more out of context. The piece ran last April 7, just after Johnston was nominated in the new riding of St. Henri-Westmount with a view to an early general election. It was a vigorously contested nomination, and at least two other candidates were trading on their acquaintance with the prime minister. Johnston’s dilemma was that he really does know Trudeau reasonably well. On occasion, Johnston has acted as Trudeau’s personal attorney and, for example, drew up the PM’s marriage contract. These points were made in the Montreal Gazette piece, and the Johnston quotation was in the context of his not wanting to make political mileage out of a personal friendship.


Blame where blame is due

In Wayne Lilley’s article on the Toronto Argonauts, The Argo Bounce .. . (Sept. 25), he says William Hodgson “ ... first brought in as general manager a defensive lineman from arch-rival Hamilton ...” This is a reference to John Barrow, who was hired by me, not by Hodgson. Lilley goes on to say, “ . . . then for a coach, he hired a man whose claim to fame had been trying for three years to turn O. J.. Simpson into a blocking back.” This is a reference to John Rauch, who also led a team to the Super Bowl. He was also hired by me.


Castro si, critics no!

After reading William Lowther’s article, The Enemy Grows Older (July 24), I get the impression that a successful invasion of Cuba by the Miami-based exiles and a return to the corrupt, poverty-stricken and vice-ridden days of Batista is becoming a popular theme of late. As far as the present regime is

concerned, Castro’s African involvement cannot be condoned even though it may be one way for Cuba to pay back some of the huge economic aid provided by the U.S.S.R. On the other hand, if the U.S. had been a bit more realistic by not trying to bring the little island of some 10 million persons to its knees, there is

good reason to believe that Russian influence today would have been much less. I visited Cuba this year, and had the opportunity to talk to many Cubans

while spending several days in Havana and the countryside with no restriction of movement. Contrary to Lowther’s report, there is a shortage of labor—not high unemployment. Despite the fact there is some dissatisfaction due to the slow increase in the standard of living, we did not meet a happier group of people.


Signs of our times

Pierre Berton writes: “There is no jurisdiction that I know of in the world—not the Soviet Union or China or Cuba or anywhere else—which makes it a crime to erect billboards, street signs, pointof-sale literature or even menus in any language but the majority language of the country” (Letters, Sept. 18). He need not look so far away. As a start he might visit Switzerland, where Italian has had legal priority over other languages on public signs in the Canton of Ticino since 1931. In Belgium, Flanders has been officially and legally unilingual since 1932 and recent decrees require private industries and businesses to operate solely in Dutch. Berton does Canada a disservice when he suggests that Bill 101 is in any sense unprecedented among bilingual or multilingual countries, or even extreme in its general aims. In the light of the Swiss and Belgian examples, English Canadians should view unilingualism in Quebec as normal, necessary, and tending to reduce one source of discontent with confederation among the Québécois.


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Czechs and balances

I must protest Michael Dobbs’s article, Czechoslovakia 10 Years Later: The Torch is Quenched (Aug. 21). How in the world can Dobbs tell that Czechs are “preoccupied with mundane concerns rather than with such lofty values as freedom and democracy ... ?” A line such as “the faces of the passersby . . . are tired and passive . . is a great opener for a novel but is hardly appropriate in an article which is meant to provide readers unable to visit Czechoslovakia with a better understanding of the country.


How to look just awful

I don’t like the clothing styles displayed in your article, Canada in its Fashion (Sept. 4). Let’s have some styles which we can wear, not ones which make us look goofy to our friends.


The All-Canadian Boy

I enjoyed Allan Fotheringham’s column on Pierre Berton, “Why, Man, He Doth

Bestride ...” (Sept. 25). Last week I caught a snatch of a television show in which the “man on the street” was being asked to name his or her Canadian

heroes. Two said that Gordon Lightfoot took first place, two could not name anyone, and one chose Margaret Atwood. I chose Pierre Berton. He is a hero to me. First, he is rich. Second, he has an imposing presence. Third, I have

always been fascinated by his work. He is an altogether interesting person, someone without fear, someone with drive.


The unready generation

The Hall-Dennis revolution, like all revolutions in history, was very harmful. Millions of people (university students, teachers, and parents) are still suffering from this disastrous revolution, including members of my family. Lloyd Dennis must have a lot of nerve to say that Living and Learning is a valuable document and is still in his heart.


After reading the interview with Lloyd Dennis (Sept. 4), I feel the liberalization of education expounded by the HallDennis Report is a good idea, in theory. In practice, however, success depends on better training of teachers, constant evaluation of teaching methods, and a greater involvement on the part of parents. As an employer, I honestly feel that the quality of education—quality being a highly subjective term—is de-

dining. As the proportion of white-collar workers increases, it is important that young people be trained for business with a solid grounding in the basics. This is what seems to be deteriorating.


True patriot’s love

In his referendum debate column, Cry “Compromise!” and Let Slip the Dogs of Royal Commission (Aug. 21), Charles Long describes Canada as compromising, inconsistent, apathetic, and incapable of agreeing on or facing any issue. He says repeatedly that Canada is unique in its badness. He extols the Americans and their “innate need to know, clarify, and to explain.” I have travelled across most of Canada and I have yet to meet any individuals who fit Long’s description. I feel he is unjust in claiming to be a typical Canadian. It upsets me to think there are people like him, out to destroy Canada, to brainwash Canadians into thinking of themselves as he seems to.


Look back in rancor

William Casselman’s vituperative diatribe against the CBC as a corporation and against Jack Craine in the column, There’s Nothing Wrong with the CBC . . . (Sept. 25), seems like nothing so much as the bitching and moaning of a bitter former employee. I, and others in the media, know Jack Craine to be a dedicated, capable, and creative manager with a fine record of accomplishment at the CBC in both radio and television. Management at the CBC saw no use for Casselman as a producer. This is likely the real reason for Casselman’s opinions of the corporation.


Somewhat disassociated

As a journalist and frequent reviewer of books for some 25 years I would not presume to question Alastair Dow’s opinion of my book, Clairtone, in his review, The ClaiHone Debacle: Too Many Political Cooks (Sept. 25). Dow makes a mistake, however, when he states that Nova Scotia authorities refused to provide me with Clairtone material “ . . . knowing that Hopkins was an associate of Munk and Gilmour ...” At no time during the five years plus required to research and write the book was I an associate of Peter Munk, David Gilmour, or of any of their companies.

The Nova Scotia government refused me access to the files because, in the words of ex-premier Gerald Regan: “It would not be in the public interest to open the Clairtone files to anyone.” For the record, a company with which I was associated did some consulting work for Munk and Gilmour’s company in the early stages of their Fiji project, during 1969 and 1970. Since March of this year-long after the book had been written and sent to the printer—I have

been doing some marketing work for Travelodge, Australia, a hotel-chain subsidiary of Southern Pacific Properties, the company in which Munk is chairman and Gilmour is deputy chairman. Neither of those business associations had any bearing on the contents of the Clairtone book, and my only contact with Munk and Gilmour between 1972 and 1977 was as an interviewer conducting research necessary for the book.