No easy way out

December 19 1983

No easy way out

December 19 1983

No easy way out


It was with some disbelief that I read the letter to the editor by John Knifton in the Nov. 28 issue of Maclean's (The divine plan). One sentence stuck in my mind as being representative of an attitude that I have often heard expressed recently, particularly in the press— “Who appointed Trudeau global peacemaker anyway?” Are we to sit back, then, as the rest of the world prepares for its suicide on a grand scale, waiting for someone to be “appointed” peacemaker? Granted, Prime Minister Trudeau is someone who inspires strong likes and dislikes, but surely there are larger issues at stake here. If nuclear disarmament is not a worthy cause, perhaps someone will explain what is.


Thank God the Prime Minister, who is obviously in a much higher profile than I, is using his position to try and reverse the horrifying escalation of the arms race. It would be easy to sit back and do nothing or to be bullied into submission by the United States. It takes courage to stand up and be counted, and if Trudeau should succeed in his stand he will be applauded by all. Isn’t it time Canadians led the applause for one of their ■ ? —BARBARA FOX,

Milton, Ont.


I am sick and tired of hearing people denigrate every single thing that Pierre Trudeau does. Whatever his shortcomings as a person or a prime minister, he is an extremely intelligent man who has dignity and courage. Why shouldn’t he

go on a peace mission? Just because it is only a step in the right direction, does that make it a step not worth taking? Or should he perhaps have appointed a committee to appoint a committee to make a suggestion? I would not vote for the man. I disagree with many of his party’s policies. But I cannot see him or his actions as all black. Surely this is a time to strive for balance and understanding. Knocking everyone who seems to fail us is just the easy way out. —GILLIAN CREIGHTON,

Fonthill, Ont.

It came as a surprise to me that U.S. government officials branded Prime Minister Trudeau’s peace efforts as a “cop-out.” They claim that our contributions to NATO are not significant but they very conveniently forget that the Canadian government, in spite of severe protests, allowed them to test missiles in Canada. So far, they have not done anything concrete for world peace. Here is a country that has taken the initiative; instead of encouraging this noble move, they are denouncing it. I am now convinced that they are not interested in peace. —TEHEMTON MIRZA,

London, Ont.

Christmas cheer from the posties

Recent news told of the offer by our militant postal union to process Christmas mail for 10 cents in place of the statutory 32 cents. If the union members had a genuine interest in Christmas cheer, they might process the seasonal rush with no charge for overtime. This would earn the post office much needed goodwill and save the taxpayers’ money.

— E.L. EATON, Windsor, N.S.

A cause for concern

Articles in Maclean’s form a rich source of reference for historians and other scholars as well as for the general public, and it is for this reason that inaccuracies, no matter how trivial, are a cause for concern. I draw your attention to the excellent article in the Sept. 19 issue that reported on U.S. draft resisters in Canada (The resisters are at home, Follow-up). I particularly draw your attention to the comment attributed to deserter Ronald Windfield to the effect that “on his arrival in Montreal during the FLQ crisis in October, 1970 ... he spotted army tanks in the streets.” There were, of course, no tanks in the streets of Montreal during the FLQ crisis.

—MAJ.-GEN. A.J.G.D. DE CHASTELAIN, Deputy Commander, Mobile Command, St-Hubert, Que.

Amiel and her choices

Barbara Amiel’s column Freedom of choice is immoral (Nov. 21) is so vicious in its personal attacks, so misrepresentative of the case for choice on abortion and so irrational in its argument that it is difficult to know where to begin to respond. Apart from the facts of the case, one must question the logic of

someone who constantly upholds the value of our democratic way of life precisely because of the freedom to choose and then implies that the proclamation of that issue is flighty. —LESLIE PEARL, National Co-ordinator, Canadian Abortion Rights Action League, Toronto

In her column Freedom of choice is immoral, Barbara Amiel managed to cover everything from the pro-choice rally in Toronto to nuclear holocaust in a manner that made me feel someone should be worried about the looseness of her associations. She attacked the leaders of the pro-choice movement for stating that choice was the main issue in the abortion debate but she did not stay in one spot long enough to say what was the main issue. Is Canada’s weekly newsmagazine really the place for such preposterously pontifical posturings?

—WENDELL W. WATTERS, Hamilton, Ont.

It annoys me that Maclean’s gives such prominence to the right-wing opinions and convoluted arguments of Barbara Amiel (Freedom of choice is immoral). In the first place, there can be no moral decisions without freedom of choice. Secondly, she assumes that all choices today are made for reasons of conve-

nience, not regarding quality of life or personal conscience, particularly those of women who choose to have an abortion. She also implies that the poor can find the money to come to Toronto from far away for at least one night “to kill one’s child.” Amiel is denying women the opportunity of making a moral decision, as if she were the only one who could. And isn’t she assuming a lot when she says everyone who was interested in hearing Gloria Steinern is “free from the burden of moral sensibilities?” —CYNTHIA DICKIE,


If Barbara Amiel wishes to concern herself with “virtue” and enter a “classical debate,” she had better start thinking logically rather than spewing self-righteous twaddle. The headline (and substance) of her column in the Nov. 21 issue is a contradiction in itself. Freedom of choice cannot be immoral. There is no morality without choice. What Amiel really means is that her choice is better than someone else’s.


Millgrove, Ont.

In Barbara Amiel’s latest column, her basic argument is that the most important element in the abortion question is not that “the issue is choice” but that “there is a moral decision to make.”

Surely she knows that being able to make any decision implies having had a choice. The Elmwood Club committee members are not disregarding the obvious moral dilemma; they are simply identifying the logical first step in the decision-making process. First you need the right to a choice; then you can make a moral decision.


Barbara Amiel’s assertion that the freedom-of-choice stand on abortion and the message of The Day After are both immoral in the same sense strikes me as rather odd, particularly in view of her conclusion that “the quality and way in which we live surely have roles to play in our policy decisions.” With this last “moral” point of view I heartily concur. An unwanted pregnancy can hardly give rise to quality upbringing, and anybody’s subhuman existence after a nuclear holocaust would seem to be the ultimate insult to our Maker. —MURRAY STEWART,


Nuclear power’s rationale

As engineers in the nuclear industry, we wish to take issue with some statements in your article The fallout from nuclear closures (Canada, Nov. 14). The

claim that a gallon of radioactive tritium spilled into Lake Ontario is incorrect. A small amount of heavy water, containing about one part in 400,000 of tritium, was released into the lake. This amount is undetectable against the background of naturally occurring tritium already there. And singling out the Candu reactor with the charge that its pressure tubes cannot be inspected during operation is a little puzzling, since all reactors have to be shut down for inspection. Equally strange is Energy Probe’s apparent preference for pressure-vessel reactors. Just because others decided to build pressure-vessel reactors and we opted for Candu pressure-tube reactors does not mean that they are right and we are wrong. A comparison of reliability for the two types over the past decade shows Candu with a big lead, which it will maintain in spite of the current pressure-tube problem. Also, the consequences of leakage are much reduced in the Candu, with its 400 separate pressure-tube “minireactors.” In their outrage over the high costs of reactor shutdowns and tube replacements, Hydro’s critics seem to be missing one key point: most of those costs are for the much more expensive replacement power from coal-fired plants. Without nuclear, Ontario’s electricity consumers would have been paying those higher costs all along. As it is,

nuclear power plants have saved them hundreds of millions in electric bills and have reduced acid rain and pollution by cutting back on the burning of coal. Maclean’s always does an excellent job of presenting the views of nuclear power’s opponents. There are plenty of knowledgeable people on the other side; if you are interested in balanced reporting on the subject you might consider consulting them occasionally.


Streetsville, Ont.

Justice begetting injustice

I find myself totally enraged at the injustice of the judiciary system after reading the Roy Ebsary Passage in your Nov. 21 issue. A man, having served 11 years in prison for a crime he did not commit, must pay $82,000 in legal fees! There is something a little wrong with a justice system that, having undone one injustice, creates another. I am disgusted with the Canadian justice system. —ROBERT SQUIRRELL,

Oshawa, Ont.

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.