It is unfortunate that you chose to use such inflammatory rhetoric to describe the school situation in Quebec (The Leaning Tower of Babel, Canada, Sept. 21). You characterize Quebec’s school system as being “rife with political battle” and imply that while for most Canadian pupils the start of school is an optimistic time, for Quebec’s pupils this is not the case. This is an exaggeration. To speak of a “history filled with hate” is ill-considered rhetoric. In many ways Quebeckers of all political stripes are far more tolerant of cultural and linguistic differences than most other Canadians. And certainly the general atmosphere in Quebec is far more calm today than it was five or 10 years ago. —PETER HARTGERINK,
I disagree with the tone of your article on the Quebec school system. Being a product of that educational system, I don’t believe that Education Minister Camille Laurin’s plan to homogenize it constitutes dragging it “kicking and screaming . . . into the 20th century.” Quebec’s school system has worked as well or better than those of its sister provinces and it has weathered language strife.—JOHN WEISSENBERGER,
A delicate Green Hell
Your article Dipping Into the Amazon’s Pot of Gold (Dateline, Sept. 14) rekindled the age-old adventure tales of the Amazon offering unlimited riches to anyone who can conquer the “hostile Amazon jungle” or the “Green Hell.” In reality, the Amazon tropical rain forest is a very fragile ecosystem that cannot withstand the intensive encroachment of a strictly economic development policy. The Brazilian government has tragically overlooked this sensitively balanced environment in its ruthless attempts to exploit the mythical wealth of the Amazon. Had you investigated the
mining in these terms you would not only have avoided a false image of unlimited wealth, but would have more importantly added to the need for a more realistic understanding of the Amazon. —HENRY R. WEILENMANN,
Swamping the wrong boat
Perhaps I missed something in the coverage of the outcome of the August federal byelections. I thought Dan Heap, the NDP candidate, had defeated Jim Coutts. What a surprise to read in your article Joe Who Until When? (Canada, Sept. 21) that the Tories had “swamped” the Liberals in the two byelections. —DOROTHY LONG,
Justice on the board
Les Bewley’s article Amputating the Judicial Arm (Podium, Sept. 21) should be read by every member of every legislature in this country and taken to heart. Too many long trials absorbing vast amounts of talent have had their results rendered meaningless by persons on a far-removed review board.
— BRYON BRETHET, Barrie, Ont.
I cannot share Bewley’s views. A long sentence can render a convict absolutely useless once he is released. I was present at a hearing of the parole board inside a prison and was very much impressed with its fairness. It gives hope to someone who previously had lost all hope. —T. SMITS,
What’s the matter with kids today?
Unfortunately you showed little critical ability and a marked tendency to repeat clichés in your article The Lost Kids of the ’80s (Living, Sept. 14). The cause of the current crisis among young people has little to do with “narcissism,” “the Me decade” or any other similar cute buzz words. The majority of today’s young people will be living at a lower standard than their parents knew. The growth in wages has ceased, for the first time since the 1930s, to keep pace with inflation. It is pleasant for wellfed intellectuals and journalists to lecture people about a return to less materialistic values, but when it comes down to reality a certain disillusionment tends to set in. And when faced with the tortuous posturings of politicians it is difficult not to be cynical.
— MARK S. GIBSON, Toronto
You only told half of the story about kids of the ’80s. It is the system that has produced a sick society. In an adversary system someone has to be right and someone wrong. In our society what we are witnessing are two wrongs and/or two insanities. You can’t put a bandage on a wound that needs surgery. The system needs changing and thus the people. —ELIZABETH A. MORRISON,
Your article should have concluded with parents take heed, not heart. Some very good points were raised about the alienation that is prevalent and the world situation which is so discouraging. If
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parents began their child-rearing with mutual understanding and communication, relationships might be different. However, as usual we are faced with attempting to rectify a situation bred through ignorance. —BRAD McFADYEN, Kitchener, Ont.
Danger from the depths
Roderick McQueen’s opinions in Trapped in the Mills (Column, Sept. 7) are most dangerous in a democracy. They run counter to the principles of our laws that were well established by the wisdom of our courts from the beginning of recorded case law to the present. Our courts have viewed any activity that tends to attack or destroy public trust to be most serious and have always dealt with it in a most severe manner. If McQueen’s principles were followed it would allow the Ontario Securities Commission, at their discretion, to place certain people above the law.
To serve and...?
In your article on the McDonald commission (Black Marks for Scarlet Coats, Cover, Sept. 7) you state that because the new security intelligence agency “spooks” will be civilians, they will not have the “rights” of police officers “notably the right to break the law ...” and “if an SIA operative . . . has to make an illegal entry, he or she will bring along a policeman.” You would think that we would have learned that the only right of police officers is to uphold the law, not break it. If this is how the new agency intends to operate it would appear that the commissioners lost four years of their lives and Canadians a great deal of money. —FRASER MANN,
Erudition in error
As Canadians, I am sure Peter Newman, Roy MacGregor and I would be interested to know whether Canada’s coastline is 64,320 km long as reported in the editorial or more than 80,000 km, as in the cover story (Not Enough Bangs for Our Bucks, Aug. 31). This variance between two such erudite gentlemen should be explained! — W.E. GILDAY, Granton, Ont.
Business and displeasure
Alf Powis’ indifference to social concerns expressed by Amnesty International and others is distressingly irresponsible (A Sidelined Quarterback, Profile, Sept. 14). If this person embodies our business community’s values, as you suggested, I believe that it is time to change values. -G. PAÚL NICHOLSON,
On the whole I like Allan Fotheringham’s tongue-in-cheek observations (.History Replayed in Portugal, Column, Aug. 31). There is always a good laugh, criticism, sarcasm and sincerity, but why does he still compare Germans with Asiatic Huns? The Huns, under Attila, were barbaric people from Asia who wanted to conquer the Roman Empire and were defeated by the Goths, a Germanic tribe, in 453 AD. Isn’t it about time Canadians showed understanding and respect to the German people, innocent victims of Hitler the madman?
— MARGARET M. THOMSON, Edmonton
Letters are edited and may be condensed. Writers should supply name, address and telephone number. Mail correspondence to: Letters to the Editor, Maclean’s magazine, J>81 University Ave., Toronto, Ont., M5W1A7.
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