After reading a well thought-out article on one of Canada’s most notable artists The World of Alex Colville (Cover, Aug. 1), it was upsetting for me to phone the Edmonton Art Gallery and find that the Colville exhibit, which you say is to travel “throughout Canada,” is actually going only to Halifax, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. It is difficult to understand how such an exhibit can put Colville “squarely back in the public domain” when it visits only four out of 10 provinces, thereby making it almost impossible for a large part of the public to enj oy it. — RHONDA VAN HEYS,
Your decision to reproduce Alex Colville’s painting Refrigerator has brought about some discussion among members of my family. Your writer says that painting “is charged with an ambivalent mood of celebration and lament for a precious moment that must pass.” We have been discussing where an owner of the painting might hang it in order to gain most from its artistic merit. On the positive side, an artist who makes sure that a good Nova Scotia dairy gets its product and trademark prominently displayed in his work cannot be all bad.
—JAMES C. NEWELL, Petrolia, Ont.
Canadians in a foreign army
In the Aug. 8 issue of Maclean's your reporter seems to seek our sympathy for Canadians who fought in Vietnam (Canada's unknown soldiers, Canada). This country owes an unpaid debt to the men of the Royal Rifles and the Winni-
peg Grenadiers who rotted in Japanese prison camps after the Hong Kong disaster in 1941. Perhaps the volunteers of the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion who fought fascism in Spain deserve recognition: after all, Canada officially joined that fight in 1939. But those who fought a war of aggression of which Canada never approved, as members of a foreign army, have no more legitimate claim to recognition than the mercenaries with the Rhodesian Army who got their jollies by walloping Africans. Their motives may have been honorable, if misguided, but their claim is unreasonable. If anyone owes them anything, it is the United States, and that is where they should live if they want it.
—ALAN HUGHES, Victoria
Low productivity and a recession
The July 18 cover article The recovery takes shape makes about a dozen references to interest rates as a major factor affecting the vigor and duration of the recovery. A much more important consideration is what happens to the persisting low productivity levels in Canadian manufacturing, especially when salaries and wages are more than 10 times the size of interest costs for total manufacturing in a recent year. The low productivity and high costs in Canadian manufacturing were an important factor in the severity of the recent recession. Problems in productivity and costs have been reflected in the plant closures, corporate bankruptcies and higher unemployment of recent years. Management, labor and government all have a responsibility to give this crucial topic increased attention in the balance of the 1980s.
—DONALD J. DALY, Professor of Economics, York University, Downsview, Ont.
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Life, death and Gabrielle Roy
When Gabrielle Roy, one of Canada’s greatest writers of fiction, died, I thought “surely Maclean’s will make her death—and her life and work—its cover story.” My hope of seeing her magnificent face on your cover was, however, soon disappointed, for your July 25 cover gave Canadians Dr. Henry Morgentaler instead. Here were rich ironies indeed—two individuals we all associate with Montreal, one of whom established an abortion clinic there, where thousands upon thousands of unborn children have died, whereas the other has, repeatedly and lovingly, given life to that city and its people. In her most recent book, Ces Enfants de ma Vie (Children of My Heart), Roy nurtured those offspring in the womb of her imagination (to use James Joyce’s image) and brought them to life with unforgettable tenderness and the deepest love—the same loving acceptance of life as gift and blessing that characterizes all her work. And here’s another irony: Gabrielle was the Roys’ 11th child, la petite dernière, born long after her siblings but still given the chance to live and make her incomparable contribution. —JOHN J. O’CONNOR, Brampton, Ont.
A church divided
After reading Rev. Stuart Lyster’s letter, Disgruntled whiners and a stink (July 18), I was left wondering where he has been for the past few years. The facts are: ministers have found it necessary to protect themselves against the procedures of internal courts in the United Church through the formation of the advocacy group called Clergy Abuse; are considering the formation of a “ministers’union”; find themselves in some cases either on unemployment insurance or welfare payments as a result of dismissal; and contemplate law suits against the church for wrongful dismissal. These are but a few of the symptoms of very serious underlying troubles in this now divided church.
—JOHN G.S. COX, Kingston, Ont.
Amiel at work and play
I have admired Barbara Amiel’s thought-provoking writings, but her attack on Canadian labor is unjustified. Amiel deplores the reluctance of Canadians to accept $4.65-an-hour farm jobs which are cheerfully accepted by imported Mexicans. Consulting my 1983 World Almanac, I see that the per capita income of a Canadian in 1980 was $10,296 and in Mexico it was $1,800. If the comparison holds true for farm labor, the imported Mexican earns about 5.7 times that which he would earn in his own country. If farmers were to of-
fer Canadians an equivalent $26.50 an hour plus transportation, room and board, I am sure there would be no shortage of gleeful applicants wearing straw hats and PabaGel sunscreen.
The erroneous remarks made by Barbara Amiel (In praise of sloth and stupidity, Column, Aug. 1), who equates manual labor with fascist and socialist societies, are completely idiotic. In the world according to Amiel, “both these repugnant ideologies require a great
deal of outdoor work of a grimy nature.” Amiel, despite her great learning, might wake up to the fact that there is a little more to democracy than drinking beer, collecting welfare and watching work. Amiel should try her hand at berry-picking out in Manitoba.
—GARY ADAMACHE, Pickering, 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.
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