December 20 1982


December 20 1982


MX: now or never

Regarding your Dec. 6 cover story, A Doomsday Decision: when existing nuclear weapons have the capacity to kill every man, woman and child on the face of the planet some 32,000 times over, I can only reflect that the world needs the MX missile system as much as a drowning man needs another mouthful of water. —REV. AL FARTHING,

Penetanguishene, Ont.

Does anyone out there actually believe there will be survivors after a nuclear war? And what would be the point of trying to survive? Life is no fun when there is no one to live it with.

—PAT COOK, Vancouver

Exterminating seals

Seal Wars: The Final Battle (Canada, Dec. 6) is a blatant piece of propaganda. Some examples: the seal “industry” way be worth $7 million, not $12 million,to Canada, but the cost to taxpayers of managing and protecting it, together with worldwide public relations efforts to justify it, amounts easily to that much. What profit there is goes mainly to Norwegian interests, whether they operate under their own or the Canadian flag. The commercial hunt is not a traditional way of life for the Inuit, who kill few harp or hood seals. Far from increasing in numbers, the harps have, according to the best nonpartisan data, decreased by at least 80 per cent since large-scale commercial hunting of them began. Relatively few Quebeckers and

Newfoundlanders still go sealing, and then only for a few days or weeks each year. Their average income from this source in 1982 was only slightly more than $1,000. Commercial sealing is not vital to any Canadian community. Bleeding hearts and publicity seekers are not the essence of the anti-seal hunt movement. The protesters include many independent biologists and, as a recent Gallup poll revealed, 60 per cent of Canadians in general, not one of whom is given a say in your piece. There is only one real reason for continuing the slaughter. Since fish stocks are rapidly being depleted through human greed, no room remains for nonhuman competitors. Therefore, all species of seals in Canada’s Atlantic and Pacific waters must be “reduced to tolerable levels”—which is Ottawa doublespeak for effective extermination. In a moment of unguarded truth, the former minister of fisheries and oceans, Roméo LeBlanc, recently confirmed that if there were no commercial hunt, government agencies would proceed to decimate the harp and hood seal herds, even as they are now decimating the grey and harbour seals.

—FARLEY MOW AT, Port Hope, Ont.

An ex-politican reflects

Your People article of Nov. 29 has misrepresented my observations, particularly as to campus life. The change from the pressures of politics to the experiences of a university is obvious but no less demanding or rewarding. Preparation, research and writing place an enormous demand on academics. Unlike the political world, however, universities at least afford an opportunity for reflection and reasoned discussion.


Saskatoon, Sask.

Hyphenated ethnicity

In his Nov. 15 Podium, How Multiculturalism Corrupts, Larry Zolf contends that a lot of tax money is wasted on maintaining ethnic cultures in order to keep ethnics separate, “tongue-tied and impotent.” Multiculturalism, he claims, is “the most divisive idea ... since separatism,” an opinion that he supports only by stating that ethnics in Canada, unlike those in the United States, are hyphenated, unequal and outside the political mainstream. I must say that this particular article is probably the worst distortion of what really is happening in Canada that I have seen from Larry in a long time. It seems to me that in the old days, when we shared an occasional glass together as fellow journalists, he was a lot more rational and a lot more contemporary in his information. I don’t know where Zolf has been hibernating, but the United States has long repudiated the myth of the melting pot, and its citizens, active in ethnicity, like others all over the world, have become highly self-aware and vocal.

—JIM FLEMING, Minister of Multiculturalism, Ottawa

Larry Zolf’s Podium on multiculturalism in Canada is by far the best and most accurate account of that misguided policy that I have read in years. He might have added that the Canadian government, and some Anglo-Canadian nationalists, often portray Canada’s alleged multiculturalism as making Canada distinct from the United States with its melting pot. This is indeed a weak peg upon which to hang the Canadian identity. As a hyphenated Canadian who has lived in the United States for six years, I see little evidence of a melting pot. Ethnic diversity exists and is thriving. What the United States has, despite all its troubles, and what Canada does not seem to have, is a strong civic culture. This general belief in the nation’s values and institutions makes possible the kind of unity in diversity that Canada needs if it is to overcome its own difficulties. —JOEL J. SOKOLSKY, Washington, D.C.

Kurelek:the people will decide

You may think that the Kurelek phenomenon ought to be given “a welldeserved rest” (A Return to Those Familiar Places, Art, Nov. 29), but that’s just not going to happen. As the publisher of seven Kurelek books which have sold 400,000 copies in 10 countries,

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I know just how powerful is his effect— and how lasting. It is actually only in Canada that art critics deprecate Kurelek and pretend he is only for people who know nothing of art. A prominent German art critic, Peter Härtling, wrote the introduction to that edition of the Prairie books, and press art critics called it “a masterpiece.” In London, when Canada House gave a Kurelek exhibition in 1978 (largely at the instigation of his U.K. publisher, Collins, not because any Canadian art organization suggested it), it turned out to be the largest-attended art exhibition ever

held in that building. You can criticize, analyse, pooh-pooh and try to ignore Bill Kurelek’s art all you want—actually it is only the lonely art establishment and the effete critics in Canada who do it—but there is no defence against its power. It comes through to touch, pain and move people, even people who know nothing of his tortured childhood and youth. In the end, it is people—and not art establishments— who decide what will last and what they will crowd to see. —MAY CUTLER,

President, Tundra Books, Montreal