LETTERS

Innocence abroad?

May 14 1984
LETTERS

Innocence abroad?

May 14 1984

Innocence abroad?

LETTERS

I sincerely hope that the April 16 Justice article, A disputed killing in New Jersey, together with the well-researched documentary done by CBC Halifax Inquiry will lead to correcting an injustice that appears to have been done to Bruce Curtis—a Canadian citizenin a New Jersey court. Although criminal law is not my area of expertise, the information that the media provided indicates that a number of errors in the trial resulted in Curtis’s imprisonment. I agree that Canada cannot interfere with a foreign trial. But when an injustice has been done to a Canadian citizen in another country, we have an obligation to assist in every possible wayincluding diplomatic activity—to right a wrong. However, should his conviction be sustained on appeal, the fact that he was only 18 at the time means that he should, at least, be returned to Canada to serve his sentence in a progressive facility in Nova Scotia.

—DONALD A. MERCER, QC, St. John ’s, Nfld.

Seeds of discontent

Regarding Allan Fotheringham’s April 23 column, Muddifying a new fuzzification: Fotheringham referred to rural dwellers as “Burpies” and states that farmers are “unintellectual.” To be a farmer takes more skill than just shovelling manure. A farmer has to be part businessperson, part mechanic, part veterinarian and so on. Perhaps Fotheringham should spend a week on a farm in spring, just to see what really goes on. —DAN NICHOLSON,

Auburn, Ont.

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I was appalled to read Allan Fotheringham’s reference to “Burpies.” Comments like that only serve to perpetuate the myth that if you are a farmer, you must have a low IQ. There are undoubtedly rural people as cynical and narrow-minded as Fotheringham suggests, but they are the exception rather than the rule. —ANTHONY MARTENS, Dashwood, Ont.

Environmental reservations

Maclean’s is to be commended for the comprehensive report on the recent bombing episode in the Sudan (The mysterious bomber affair, World, April 2). Your report has brought to the light some of the major factors that political observers consider critical to the fate of the present government as well as to the rise and fall of future regimes. But I disagree with your claim that “the Southern forces oppose the 360-km Jongelei canal because it would supply water to the North and to Egypt.” The Nile River is the sole supplier of fresh water to the North and to Egypt; any effort to block the northward flow of Nile water would have to be devoted to the unspectacular task of diverting the course of the Nile. Also, Southern Sudanese forces have neither the desire nor the means to deprive the North or the Arab Republic of Egypt or any other nation of the quantities of water alotted to them by the provisions of Nile Water Agreements of 1929 and their amendments. The people of Southern Sudan oppose the Jongelei because research has revealed that the canal is a potential environmental hazard; it is believed that, if dug, the canal would cause severe and irreparable ecological destruction.

—MOSES MO J WOK AKOL, Grand Rapids, Mich.

Displaying parents’ rights

For once I agree with Barbara Amiel and her reaction to our society’s concept of parenthood ( Which parent owns the child?, Column, April 16). As Germaine Greer observes in another article in the same issue, ours is a child-hating society. Social progress and human liberation will not be achieved by providing greater “choice” to adults. Rather, we must somehow support adults to reduce dramatically the extensive pattern of abuse that characterizes our attitudes and behavior toward those humans on whom any hope for ultimate progress and liberation in our society depends.

—GARY HALL, Vancouver

Thank you for Barbara Amiel’s column Which parent owns the child? I find it amazing how far our “humanity” has come when a child can be killed by its own mother and its father has no “right” to intervene. Has the family unit become so eroded in our society that the law actually condones such a crime? King Solomon was known to be the wisest man who ever lived. Thank you for exposing what fools some have become. —MELANIE DRIEDGER,

Portage la Prairie, Man.

Surely the question is not “which parent owns the child?” but rather “which parent owns the uterus and the surrounding body and emotions?” This has nothing to do with King Solomon. What about the situation where the woman wants the child and the man does not? Could the man force the woman to have an abortion? The growing recognition that it is up to the person in whose womb the fetus develops to make the final decision, hopefully with the agreement and support of the person coresponsible for the conception, is an important step in the long quest of women for autonomy and equality.

—PHILIPPE ROBERT DE MASSY, Hampstead, Que.

Our “progressive” society needs more people like Barbara Amiel arguing the absurdities of the feminist cause. Women who are “pro-choice” should make their choices before they conceive, not when they realize what an “inconvenience” it would be to carry a child full term. It’s time that men took up the fight. — JANET UJJAINWALLA,

Mattawa, Ont.

Sex and motherhood

It amazes me that Germaine Greer and similar feminist writers have such a large following (Life with less sex, Cover, April 16). I suppose that some women need to be told how to think, feel

and behave, just as some need to be told what to wear. That Greer’s advice turns 180° on itself seems no more confusing to them than the shifts and reversals in political ideology to the hapless citizens of some Communist countries. I also find it difficult to understand how anyone can take seriously a person who sterilizes herself with her abortions and her promiscuity and then nostalgically writes of the merits of child-bearing and child-rearing like a badly burned sun worshipper extolling the shade.

—R.V. WORLING, Long River, P.E.I.

In Life with less sex Germaine Greer makes the sweeping generalization that population control programs in the Third World have been characterized by arrogance, bigotry and inhumanity. As a member of the international family planning movement, Planned Parenthood Federation of Canada has long worked to provide universal access to information on family planning and services to the literally hundreds of thousands of women who are dying each year because they lack effective birth control. Does Greer really believe these women use birth control to engage in

recreational sex instead of using it to space both the number and timing of children they are having and to improve the quality of their life? What right does Greer have to force her choice— abstinence—on these women and deny them a basic human right? Instead of pouring her energy into ordering bottles of champagne “at every opportunity,” Greer should devote her attention to bettering conditions for women and children in the Third World.

—DAVID MOORES, MD, President,

Planned Parenthood Federation of Canada, Ottawa

After reading Life with less sex and The long, hard march for liberation (Cover box, April 16), hope dawns that at long last the “liberation” movement may be following its rightful course—providing an atmosphere in which women can grow and develop, free of meaningless restriction, and make the best personal contribution to humanity. Because nature granted women the privilege to populate this world, we inherently must accommodate our intellects, our bodies and the basic instincts of our hearts to the responsibilities inevitably demanded by a position of such trust, whether we exercise the option or not.

—LOUISE N. PATTINGTON, Fournier, Ont.

A French immersion

Parents are lining up to enrol their children in French immersion classes, a result of The new politics of language (Cover, April 2). Many may regret their decision when they discover that students do not learn as much mathematics and geography in French as they would in English. Learning to read in the early grades is especially difficult. Report card results can be misleading because courses and tests can easily be watered down. If the sole purpose of a child’s education is the mastery of French, immersion is probably the best answer. However, there are a lot of people who are acting under the illusion that French immersion will solve Canada’s unity problems. There is a need for greater understanding between French and English Canada, but this will not be accomplished by immersion.

—ROBERT W. PICKEN, Beaconsfield, Que.

A curious logic

While Alexander Bruner writes so appreciatively of Israel’s democracy at work (Alive and well, Letters, April 16), he conveniently forgets the flagrant and numerous violations committed by Israel against the fundamental human

rights of the Palestinian people in the territories occupied in 1948 and 1967. It is a curious logic that suggests that the Palestinians living in Israel should be content with the loss of birthright, home, human heritage and human dignity because settlers in their former homeland “peacefully” and “democratically” vote among themselves as to how to divide up the property.

—AZIM KAMRAN, Brossard, Que.

A rare talent for humor

Regarding the article about Sondra Gotlieb (People, April 9) and the tradition-bound reaction of anonymous mockers of her fine sense of humor: surely a Canadian woman, by marrying someone who subsequently becomes successful, has not contracted away her personality, her wit or her right to exercise a rare talent for humor. If being boring is what Canada requires of spouses of diplomats, then let us pay them for being so and include humorlessness and subservience to etiquette in their contracts. Otherwise, let us keep quiet and enjoy our funniest ambassador of goodwill. —LINDA LONG,

Edmonton

Bell: no sleepy monopoly

Peter C. Newman’s article New conquests by the Bell empire (Business Watch, April 16) made a number of encouraging observations about the recent acquisitions by Bell Canada Enterprises Inc. It was a pity he felt it necessary to indulge in extreme journalistic

licence in describing Bell Canada’s earlier performance as that of a “sleepy monopoly producing indifferent dividends and mediocre telephone service.” Hardly an appropriate description for a company that has provided a quality of telephone service judged internationally to be among the best in the world; invested heavily in the establishment and development of what is now one of the world’s most successful telecommunications manufacturing companies (Northern Telecom); participated in the establishment and growth of the largest privately owned research and development organization in Canada (Bell-Northern Research), and through successful international competition against the best in the world has brought billions of dollars of revenues to Canada’s balance-of-payments account. If that was the performance of a sleepy monopoly, just watch us when we wake up! — J.V. RAYMOND CYR,

President, Bell Canada, Montreal

A fluid description

In contrast to Allan Fotheringham’s description of Thomas Hardy’s Ale as “lighter fluid that has gone bad” (Coming of age in an elderly land, Column, April 16), let us ponder the prose of Hardy himself. His more fluent contemplation of ale may apply: “It was of the most beautiful color that the eye of an artist in beer could desire; full of body; yet brisk as a volcano; piquant; yet without a twang; luminous as an autumn sunset; free from streakiness of taste; but, finally, rather heady.” Possibly a royal commission should study the differences of opinion on such an important matter. —R. W. WARNER,

Vancouver

Lost in the middle

I am surprised that nobody seems to understand the real reason behind the NDP’s dramatic decline in popularity (The NDP’s fight for survival, Cover, April 23). A polarization has taken place in Canadian politics, and the only real choice is between either a Liberal or Conservative government. A polarized electorate votes for a government, not an opposition, and every informed voter knows that the NDP cannot possibly elect enough MPs to form a government. The most incisive comment in your story came from former NDP research director James Laxer. Four years of shrill, high-pitched criticism of the Liberals by the NDP helped the Conservative cause more than the NDP’s. The NDP should have been much more critical of their/our real enemy—the Canadian version of right-wing Rea-

ganomics as represented by the Conservative party. Relentless criticism of the moderate left policies of the Liberal government gave more credibility to the right and to its claim that the Conservatives were the only credible alternative. By being critical only of the Liberals, the NDP damaged their own cause, and we now see the results in the opinion polls. —BRIAN BAKER,

The price of generosity

Although your April 9 Canada article MacEachen’s Liberal largess draws needed attention to Allan MacEachen’s willingness to use taxpayers’ money to shore up his personal popularity, it leaves the false impression that this practice has benefited the people of Cape Breton Island. Indeed, few Canadians have suffered as much as Cape Bretoners from government decisions based on political rather than economic criteria. If the millions of dollars that the federal government poured into Cape Breton over the years had in fact been used in the best interests of the residents of the island rather than in the best interests of their member of Parliament, the area would certainly be better off today. The decision to move the Nova Scotia Nautical Institute (NSNI) from Halifax to Port Hawkes-

bury is an excellent example of a government action more oriented toward the well-being of MacEachen than toward the welfare of his long-suffering constituents. Government documents released in January show that the federal authorities had no idea what the cost of the move would be when the decision was announced. Indeed, the total cost is now set at $22.5 million— more than double the original estimate of $11 million. If there is $22 million to spend in Nova Scotia, would it not make more sense to locate and upgrade the NSNI in the most efficient way possible and to use the excess millions to invest in facilities that are truly needed in Port Hawkesbury? One could do a lot of good with $11 million, which appears to be the price of MacEachen’s largess.

—TOM SIDDON, MP, PC Caucus Spokesman on Economic Development and Science and Technology, Ottawa

Wooing the electorate

The charade is upon us once more, and we currently have a pair of Central Canadian lawyers wooing the electorate with guarded promises that they, and they alone, have the solution to the problems of our country. It becomes humorous when I recall a CBC public af-

fairs program of 25 years ago, during the Diefenbaker regime: former mayor of Ottawa Charlotte Whitton, when asked the difference between Liberals and Conservatives, replied, “We’re in, they’re out.” A pretty concise remark when one thinks about it. It is such a pity so many Maritimers still feel Sir Wilfrid or Sir John A. are still hovering somewhere out there on this sad political scene. —FRANK FOLKARD,

Vancouver

It has always been my understanding that we elected our representatives on the strength of their capabilities and not on their opponents’ incapabilities. A prerequisite for running for political office now appears to be the possession of a talent for mud-slinging. I am finding it more and more difficult to recall any political position as stated by our leaders, including the gentlemen currently running for the leadership of the Liberal party. This country is faced with some very serious problems, as is the rest of the world, and constant discrediting of each other is hardly a productive action. It frightens me that we could elect a person as the leader of this country simply because he is more physically attractive and more able to diminish his opponents’ strengths.

—JANE PAQUETTE, Woodstock, Ont.

A large fallout

Terrific! Jim Coutts announces he will not run for leadership of the Liberal party, and there he is in Canada’s weekly newsmagazine (Choosing not to run, Canada, April 16). It may interest you to know that my neighbor as well as 10 other people I know have also decided not to run. Details can be supplied in time for your next issue. — JOHN GAGNE,

Delta, B.C.

A misnomer

Regarding the letter in your April 30 issue written by Mamzer Ben-Zona of Cornwall, Ont. (.Alternatives and solutions): I would suggest to you that the writer is not what or whom he claims to be. As a Hebrew-speaking person, let me give you an exact translation of his name: a mamzer is an illegitimate child, and ben-zona means son of a prostitute—therefore, in full, the “bastard son of a prostitute.” Perhaps in future you should request translations of names not readily recognizable to you.

—HELEN GILBOA, Nepean, 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.