July 6 1981


July 6 1981


Hard to swallow

Don't Drink the Water (Cover, June 22) demonstrates the ignorance and reluctance to deal with groundwater pollution by municipal, provincial and federal governments. Wastes that are out of sight are no longer out of mind. Hydrocarbons exist for millions of years in the ground and the bacteriological action is exceedingly slow in aquifers. Mother nature’s self-cleansing process will be measured in terms of geologic time, not in generations. Our society may well be out of sight before the aquifers are cleansed. —DON SCOTT,


In addition to the fact that we don’t know how harmful are the chemicals seeping into our wells, there is also the issue of property rights. If my neighbor throws something onto my property, he has violated my rights. All those whose wells have been polluted by nearby chemical dumps should demand removal of the pollutants. The extreme cost of such a cleanup would cause all polluters to modify their methods so that a clean environment would become a normal operating cost.


Your article mentioned the presence of uranium in well water in an area of Nova Scotia near Halifax. The information as presented is basically correct; however, I would like to point out that,

in contrast with every other one of the numerous water quality problems you outlined, the uranium present in groundwater in Nova Scotia is due to natural uranium occurrence. It is not a man-made pollution or contamination problem as implied by the article as a whole. —DAVID A. GRANTHAM,

Chairman, Provincial Uranium Task Force, Department of Health, Bedford, N.S.

The lady takes pen to hand

Writing letters to the editor is boring, and there’s been open season on me for so long that mostly I don’t bother, except when my veracity or that of those I work with has been questioned. Alden Nowlan (Retiring Age-Old Stereotypes, Podium, June 22), it seems, is not ex-

empt from fashionability: he too thinks he doesn’t have to do his homework when it comes to slinging a few used tomatoes my way.

Snowbird, the television play he sneers at, was based on an idea from the director, Peter Pearson, and considerable research done in trailer parks by a professional researcher. There are many people older than Alden Nowlan who live a nomadic existence in trailer parks, those of Canada in summer, those further south in winter. It’s often cheaper than an apartment and they enjoy it. And yes, some of them do live together without being legally married, abhorrent though this may be to Mr. Nowlan. That way they get the benefit of two pensions, which means something to them since they are not from “the upper-middle class.” Nor do I consider the men who choose to live this way “old bums,” as Mr. Nowlan does.

We received a number of letters thanking us for doing the story. The letters, too, were from people considerably older than Mr. Nowlan. I hope he does make it to 60, since he’s a fine poet. And I believe him when he says he’s going to be a damned old crank. I just hope he learns, sometime in the next 11 years, to be a conscientious and accurate old crank as well. —MARGARET ATWOOD,


Alden Nowlan is a man with insight. He has accurately depicted the attitudes of today’s society with regard to senior citizens. Condescension is, indeed, worse than ridicule. Young or old—who wants to be patronized? —BEA TAYLOR,

St. Catharines, Ont.

Monetarist attack on ivory tower

You do little for your credibility when you blame Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan for the fiscal problems in their respective countries (The High Cost of Money, Cover, June 8). These situations have been developing over many years. Only time will tell whether or not the policies are effective. We do know that Reagan and Thatcher are the only two leaders with the political courage to try to do what must be done. As for the experts, any fathead can sit in an ivory tower and dream up abstract theories. —R.K. LEIGHTON,

Pitt Meadows, B.C.

Below the belt

According to your editorial The Cure for Inflation May Turn Out to Be a Killer (June 8), “everyone who retired with $100,000 10 years ago has been mugged by inflation of about $60,000.” Even a very conservative investor would have increased that sum to $225,000 in 10 years. To blame the government policies for all the inflation, considering that the price of OPEC oil rose 1,200 per cent in the same period, looks like “negative journalism.”

—V. STROMANIS, Lennoxville, Que.

That’s that

I was dismayed at the irresponsible journalism reflected in Barbara Amiel’s column A Lesson in Oversimplification (June 15). She fails to acknowledge the need for values


Send correspondence to Maclean’s, Box 1600, Station A, Toronto, Ontario M5W 2B8

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education as perceived by responsible educators, as well as the enormous difficulties in setting up practical and effective programs. She indicates no understanding of books like Canada Today which are honest attempts to treat important moral issues in terms meaningful to young people. She has, in effect, discussed and dismissed the complex dilemma of preparing students for moral issues in three columns of type. Talk about oversimplification!


A fond farewell

Thanks for remembering Barbara Ward (Dame Barbara's Distant Early Warnings on Spaceship Earth, Editorial, June 15). She was a fine, deeply concerned human being, and there are never enough of the likes of her. It was she who had the overview about what was wrong with the world and the optimism to feel that it could be put right.

—LYAL BROWN, Vancouver, B.C.

An offensive defence

After the Israeli air force operation inside Iraq and the destruction of the nuclear research plant in Baghdad (Fallout Spreads From Osirak, World, June 22) I am completely confused. Can anybody define the concept of self-defence anymore? Anyone other than Prime Minister Menachem Begin of Israel, that ÍS. —ELIE M. NASRALLAH,


Under the U.S. Arms Export Control Act of 1952, American-supplied weapons are required to be used only for “defensive purposes.” It seems self-evident that this law that is currently being

invoked against Israel’s use of F-16 bombers against Iraq would also apply to the U.S. supply of offensive weaponry to the El Salvadoran junta. It is interesting in this connection to recall External Affairs Minister Mark MacGuigan’s remark on U.S. aid to the junta: “I certainly will not condemn any decision the United States took to send offensive arms there.” —GEORGE MESSIER,


All that remains

I was pleased to see the essence of our maturing problem finally being made public (Adrift in a Never-Never Land, Podium, June 8). Mavor Moore summarized very well the deficiencies in Canadians’ attitudes when it comes to selling ourselves. Culture and education are the foundations of society. I find it tragic that governments and many Canadians view cultural affairs as luxuries. It is ironic that that which we belittle is all that remains of the glorious, ancient civilizations.


Vancouver, B.C.

A thousand plaudits to Maclean 's and to Mavor Moore for exposing the excuses we use to explain our failure to develop a Canadian identity. Charles Jaffe’s accompanying cartoon also speaks volumes. Canada does indeed provide an inhospitable environment for the development of a “star system”—not only in the arts, but also in business, science, medicine, technology and all other fields of endeavor (“If you’re so good, why are you still here? ”). Let’s hope Moore is eventually given the support he needs to get on with creating a cultural identity for Canadians, despite the fact that we seem not to want one.



The bigger they are...

It appears Admiral Harry Train has fallen victim to the phobia particular to military strategists and planners when just numbers of ships (or missiles) are counted and not their actual qualities or capabilities (Facing the Blue Water Threat, Q&A, June 8). In this era of “smart” missiles I doubt the logic in spending any money on more surface ships, which could rapidly become large and expensive floating targets. We must speak out against this senseless waste of money and resources.


Peterborough, Ont.

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