LETTERS

November 28 1983

LETTERS

November 28 1983

LETTERS

Apology

In a Nov. 21 article, The ‘Mercy' Killers, Maclean's should have included the facts that Vancouver neurosurgeon Patrick Murray recommended to Stephen Dawson’s parents that the boy should have a life-saving operation and that he offered to perform the operation himself. The magazine did not intend to imply in any way that Dr. Murray encouraged the Dawsons to reach any other conclusion. Indeed, Dr. Murray did not participate at all in the Dawsons’ decision to withhold an operation. Maclean's regrets any embarrassment the story has caused Dr. Murray and his family.

The divine plan

Prime Minister Trudeau’s idea of Canada taking the lead to prevent a collision of the superpowers is a good one. However, it is only half an idea, without strength, plan or organization. The Prime Minister of Canada travelling around the world imagining himself to be a new Messiah is just silly. What is needed to make this idea succeed is for Canada to persuade the European Community countries, India and all the Commonwealth, Mexico, Brazil, Japan and China to join together in a new organization dedicated to peace and trade. —TEMPLE BUTLER,

Stephenville Crossing, Nfld.

In reference to Allan Fotheringham’s Nov. 7 column, Peace missions and polls: I would like to thank him for opening

the eyes of all Canadians regarding this issue. Who appointed Trudeau global peacemaker anyway? Are all of us supposed to step back and say: “What a worthy thing for Trudeau to do. I think I’ll vote for him next time after all”? Not likely. —JOHN KNIFTON,

London, Ont.

Who really has power in B.C.?

In your Nov. 14 issue you show a photograph with the caption “Striking B.C. civil servants” (Showdown on the West Coast, Canada). What was, in fact, shown was a lineup of buyers at the only liquor store in the province that remained open at the time—The Park & Tilford Distillery. The photo is proof, perhaps, that labor relations in British Columbia would drive the soberest citizens to drink. —WILLIAM R. FORCE,

West Vancouver

I am getting quite tired of listening to the B.C. government union workers whining about their precious job security as though they were the only people facing layoffs and uncertainty. PWA, CP Air and various woodworking employees are all experiencing proportionate layoffs. These are hard times for everyone. —SUSAN RABBITTE,

Norman Wells, N. W. T.

It has been said, especially in British Columbia, that the government has too much power. As far as I am concerned, the only group of people with too much power is the unions. Any organization that can tell me I cannot work unless I become a part of them is too big. Any group that can take a day’s pay away from my family to support something I oppose has too much power. Those things are happening in British Columbia right now. — B.L. ERICKSON,

Delta, B.C.

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Controlling the back-bench seals

Allan Fotheringham is on the right track but heading in the wrong direction. In his column The capital of political confusion (Oct. 24), he finds that the reason why people have lost confidence in the House of Commons (and subsequently why Brian Mulroney’s poor showing in the House will not deter his ambition to be prime minister) is that the Liberals have made a mockery of the proceedings. In fact, the Liberals succeed in making a travesty of our revered institution because of John Q. Public’s apathetic (or pathetic) attitude. It is only when we place more stringent controls on our elected officials that the Commons will cease to be “a home for trained back-bench seals” and once again become a forum for the debating and passing of Canadian law.

—KEITH E. PERLIN, St. John's

For love of Canada 1

I must take exception to Elizabeth Croft’s comments concerning the Canada 1 campaign (Marketing a milliondollar toy, Letters, Oct. 31). By implication and assumption, she does a disservice to those who worked so hard to get Canada 1 to the semifinals, as well as to the countless supporters who remain anonymous. It is an affront to the Canada 1 supporters to suggest that they “could have helped groups in far greater need.” How does she know what groups those people may already be supporting? And, incidentally, many of the supporters whom Peter C. Newman mentioned are individuals, not corporations. I strongly disagree with her broad statement that the team was “glory seeking.” Anyone who knows sailboat racing knows that most of them were in the campaign for the simple love of the sport. —TED YOUNGS, Kitchener, Ont.

Rewrites of a social contract

B. C. Premier William Bennett is “rewriting the social contract” all right, but it is not at all clear that his initiatives are as benign or coherent as Peter

C. Newman seems to believe (Rewriting the social contract, Business Watch, Oct. 17). For example, Bennett already has all the power he needs to cut expenditures on universities. Indeed, he slashed their budgets in the middle of the last fiscal year. He could cut their budgets again, at will. Do people really need to be reminded that the autonomy of universities is not merely some nonfunctional artistic ornament? University autonomy is one of the chief features that distinguish democratic and enlightened societies from repressive and authoritarian regimes of both the

left and the right. If Bennett wants to reduce public expenditure on universities, fine. Let him do it and answer to the electorate in due course. However, let us also see his government demonstrate a genuine allegiance to the conservative credo, “who governs least, governs best.” Establishing a labor commissariat to implement the diktats of the central authority in the universities has nothing to do with saving money and ought to be seen as a dangerous and unwarranted experiment in authoritarianism. —PATRICK GRASSICK, University Counselling Services, The University of Calgary, Calgary

A few years ago there was talk of a recession coming. Everyone knew it. So our premier decided to fix everything in British Columbia and build B.C. Place, including the stadium, a rapid transit system, and, best of all, we would have Expo 86. Don’t get me wrong—those things would all be great, if we could afford them. Bennett looked to the future all right—to the time when he would have so many concrete monuments to himself. But we can’t have our cake and eat it too, so out with the necessities. Bennett says several hundred people are being employed for this project. But thousands may be fired from the government ranks now because we can’t afford everything. That’s progress? Could he not have hired the same number of people to improve what we have now—to build decent housing for people on low incomes, to improve health care, education, human rights and human resources departments? When the needs of the people who pay the taxes were met, maybe the premier would deserve a few monuments, and we could afford them. And perhaps even the populace could afford to enjoy using them. Now, neither the province as a whole nor the public can afford either.

—KATHLEEN BURNS, Lake Cowichan, B.C.

In defence of offence

I am writing about the many protests in conjunction with United Nations Disarmament Day, Oct. 22, against the testing of the U.S. cruise missile in Canada and the U.S.-Soviet arms race. Like anyone else, I believe in the preservation of world peace. We must wake up and realize that the Soviets cannot be trusted and that they have no intention of negotiating peace. One only has to look at their aggressive infiltration of Hungary, Afghanistan, Poland and Czechoslovakia to understand that their ultimate goal is to destroy our democracies. In my opinion, we must maintain the freedoms so many have died for in past wars. The Western hem-

¡sphere must make it perfectly clear that in the event of any Soviet invasion of the West, there will be nothing to gain but world destruction. The best defence is a strong offence. I support the cruise. —TIMOTHY C. THIBAULT,

Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.

Faith in Peter Herrndorf

As a subscriber to Toronto Life, I found your flip reference to it insulting (A resignation shakes the CBC, Media, Oct. 31). The magazine’s commitment to highquality fiction and social commentary has been recognized by the judges of the National Magazine Awards, who last year honored it more than any magazine other than Saturday Night. If it were just a “glitzy lifestyle” magazine, I would not read it, and I’m sure ex-CBC executive Peter Herrndorf would not have chosen to work there when he left a powerful and prestigious job.

—DAVID OLIVE, Scarborough, Ont.

The logic of reversion

It has become increasingly evident that Canada’s weekly newsmagazine has adopted a rational and logical approach to journalism by reverting to the use of imperial measurement wherever necessary. Maclean's, unlike a number of its competitors, has had the foresight and integrity to speak to Canadians in a language they understand. They have courageously chosen to identify themselves with their readers rather than an illconceived policy unacceptable to the majority of Canadian citizens.

—WILLIAM DOMM, MP, Peterborough, Ont.

The price for Pearl Harbor

Referring to the letter of Bruce Colebank in the Oct. 3 issue (Balancing terror): he seems upset at the atom bombing of Japan in the Second World War. I am wondering if he is old enough to remember Dec. 7,1941. If he is not old enough, he should look it up. After all, the Japanese brought it on themselves.

—MURIEL WOOD, Halifax

As the Crow changes

I hope those western children referred to in Last stand for the Crow (Canada, Oct. 17) have been given a more accurate account of the history of the Crowsnest Pass rate than the one presented by Maclean's. Referring to the “historic” deal between the CPR and the Laurier government, which was the origin of the Crow rate, the article says, “Laurier promised CPR the money it needed to build a transcontinental line

if, in turn, it promised to carry prairie wheat from western farmers to the sea or lake ports at the same low rate—forever.” Right year, wrong deal. The Crowsnest Pass Agreement of 1897 had nothing to do with construction of the CPR transcontinental line. The main line had been completed 12 years earlier in 1885 when Sir John A. Macdonald’s government was in power. Under the 1897 agreement, the company undertook to construct a secondary line, extending its rail system from southern Alberta through the Crowsnest Pass into southern British Columbia. The main transcontinental line through the Rockies was already in operation. As for the reference to “forever,” there is very little about the Crow agreement that has not been changed over the years. In 1925 it was replaced by a statute, which applied the rate to both major railways. The original agreement covered grain and flour moving only to the Lakehead, but by 1927 the rate applied to westbound movements as well. The statute also expanded the number of railway shipping points covered by the rate. Today the rate applies to four times the number of points in the West that were in effect at the time of the 1897 agreement. —R.A. FERGUSON, Public Affairs, Canadian Pacific, Montreal

The lingual limits

Cheers for William W. Bowness’ letter, When English becomes illegal (Oct. 17). We hear very little of the difficulties of the anglophone in Quebec but a great cry that the French language is not being made available. The British North America Act set out the limits, and that is as far as we should have gone, instead of now requiring, among other things, that manufacturers print both languages on merchandise at our expense. Why not all the other minority lan guages, if the BNA Act is not to stand?

In praise of Strathroy, Ont.

Every week I enjoy reading Allan Fotheringham’s column. My eyebrows rose that much more after discovering the reference to Strathroy, Ont., in his Oct. 31 column, Oh Canada: they stand on guard. I tell him, solemnly, someday a prime minister will come from that “burg.” —CHRIS NAUS,

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, Maclean Hunter Bldg., 777 Bay St., Toronto, Ont. M5W1A7.