May 7 1984


May 7 1984

Maternal rewards


In her new book Sex and Destiny Germaine Greer has proposed the remedy of motherhood to cure the disease of trivialized sex—which she herself had at least a hand in creating (Life with less sex, Cover, April 16). While her delayed confession of error is commendable, her remedial proposal is regrettable. In her idyllic binge Greer seems to have entirely overlooked the problems of population and poverty threatening the very survival of underdeveloped countries. The areas that she finds to be rewarding havens of maternity, like India, are places in which motherhood for the millions is not a matter of choice. Contrary to her thesis, the very fact of widespread contraceptive use in Western societies may actually be an indication of a higher value and a greater sense of responsibility associated with motherhood and children; indiscriminate motherhood, like indiscriminate sex, may in the end be worse than the disease it sets out to cure. With Greer’s maternal home brew, motherhood, like sex, may also end up becoming trivalized. What will she think of next? —M. MUJEEB-UR-RAHMAN,

Charlottetown, P.E.I.

Germaine Greer is part of a long tradition of metropolitan arrogance—the tradition of the missionaries, political or religious, who decide whether the cultures of “lesser” societies are good or bad, to be extolled, explored, exploited or expunged. It produced the Inquisition and the slave trade. More recently it has produced the meddling, causebearer of Left or Right who fervently supports what he or she would not per-

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sonally tolerate. A totalitarian state is hell if you live there while believing in freedom of expression, association and movement. I see The Female Eunuch and Sex and Destiny as brilliant personal polemics with some provocative ideas, but essentially simplistic and self-indulgent. —DWIGHT WHYLIE,

While I agree with Germaine Greer that sex has become far too casual, I question her advice on birth control. According to your article, Greer “proposes a return to less risky, nontechnical methods of birth control, such as coitus interruptus and abstinence.” I fully agree that abstinence is the least risky, most effective method of birth control and should be practised more often. However, to suggest that coitus interruptus, or withdrawal, is at all a method of birth control is utter folly. To present Greer’s advocacy of it without pointing out the danger of that method of birth control does a dangerous disservice to your readers.


Germaine Greer speaks of exploitation of the female in the past and present when it would seem to me that she, along with most other feminists, are the exploiters of the intellect of both females and males. Greer is an opportunist and exploiter who sits on the fence and jumps off when the time is right to capitalize on the problems of the times.


Distortion or fact?

In your March 19 Dateline on Kampuchea {The new guerrilla offensive) you state that Pol Pot’s “fanatical threeyear reign of terror had left an estimated two to three million Kampucheans dead.’’ Estimated by whom? In fact, the figure has never been substantiated and, according to Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman in The Political Economy of Human Rights, it is a fabrication of Western propaganda. What is frightening is that the Western media succeeded in turning a gross distortion into an accepted fact.

—DAVID HUMPHRIES, Brampton, Ont.

A negative affirmative

If the House of Commons committee report recommending affirmative action employment practices is adopted, it will become more difficult for the majority of Canadian young people to get started in a job or career {Shedding light on the minorities, Law, April 9). Employers will be coerced into hiring and promoting visible minorities, regardless of ability or talent. With j ust so many j obs to go around, what happens? Affirmative action is the opposite of a democratic principle because it discriminates against the majority. Encouraging multiculturalism won’t make Canada a great nation. By yielding to demands of the minorities for special privileges such as affirmative action programs and by glorifying cultural differences through heritage classes in schools, our politicians are creating divisiveness. Immigrants who wish to make Canada their home should be prepared to adapt to our language and customs. Otherwise, why emigrate? —RON BELL,

Peterborough, Ont.

In the matter of the profound compensation to Japanese Canadians, Pierre Trudeau’s saying that we cannot be held responsible for what our fathers and grandfathers did is not only hypocritical but misleading. His government has greatly benefited from the proceeds of the sale of goods and property seized when those people (many of whom had been born in Canada) were forcibly removed from their homes and businesses. They received only a tiny fraction of what their property was worth, and the government was then able to resell those items at a profit. Since this probably went into the coffers of the Canadian government and has no doubt collected interest in the meantime, the present administration is now enjoying the proceeds of this atrocity.

—JESSIE H. BOWES, Lethbridge, Alta.

A provincial affair

The language dispute is indeed a provincial matter, though not so much in the territorial sense {The new politics of language, Cover, April 2). The controversy reeks of petty, provincial views. Anglophones and francophones feel mutually threatened by the other’s language. If they would but leave the borders of Canada they might gain a broader perspective. In most countries teaching children a second language is considered an integral part of a wellrounded education. When children in a

multilingual country like Switzerland learn a second or third language, it does not undermine their mother tongue. Historically, French occupies a special place in Canadian society, and as a result it is a logical choice as a second language. Nevertheless, Canadians must realize that it does not matter terribly which way they go in the language debate. The international status of English is solidly established. If English is the second language choice of most European countries, then I think that Canada’s francophones should accord it at least as much recognition. While

French and English should be taught in the schools, official bilingualism has proved prohibitively expensive. The other 95 per cent of the Manitoba population should not be expected to foot the bill for the five per cent who are French-speaking. —JO BALET,

Mississauga, Ont.

It seems that Brian Mulroney is just going to echo Pierre Trudeau’s theme pushing French-language rights across Canada. Neither Trudeau nor Mulroney ever mention Quebec’s Bill 101, which shuts out the English language in Quebec. If the federal government cannot discipline Quebec, then obviously it has no jurisdiction in any other province when it comes to language rights. Mulroney, in courting Quebec’s votes and hopefully Ontario’s, will, like Trudeau, ostracize the Western provinces. So be it. It will save us a trip to the polls.

—A.M. FLEMING, Duncan, B.C.

I am most thoroughly weary of the continual clamor about language rights. Bravo to John Turner for an honest, rational response to the irrational nonsense spewed forth by most politicians, and the media, in pursuit of the spotlight. He appears to be the only sincere individual in the lot. The Liberals have used the issue to retain power. They have been successful—at retaining power. The province of Quebec does as it pleases with regard to language rights, so why shouldn’t Manitoba do the same? —M.A. LEWIS,

Fort McMurray, Alta.

Why is it that politicians condone the contesting of unilingual English speeding tickets in Manitoba but not unilingual French speeding tickets in Quebec? —R.H.M. WATT,


The cause of justice

After reading the report on the deaths of babies at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children (The baby murders, Cover/Special Report, April 9) I feel a deep sense of outrage that nurses in that hospital should be subjected to this kind of harassment by the commission and the media with no apparent support or demand for testimony from the doctors who were ultimately responsible for the care of these babies. Their names are not even mentioned. Are the nurses being made the “fall guys” in this dreadful situation? If everyone who had any contact with the babies is suspect, what about other hospital staff who had access to the nursery? Nurses should learn from this situation to take out liability insurance and have lawyers to represent them. At present, they are

most vulnerable. Furthermore, public inquiries of this nature do irreparable harm to innocent people while not furthering the cause of justice. The media are the only ones who benefit.

—REV. ALICE HOGMAN, Fort Frances, Ont.

Regarding The baby murders: “the source of relentless interest” in the crime is that “no more helpless or innocent victims could be imagined.” It seems to me, to say the very least, extremely ironic that so much public concern and sympathy is being expressed at the loss of those children when, in the

same city and in the same year, respected doctors at work in other respected hospitals are allowed to quietly continue to remove unborn children from the wombs of their mothers and one well-known doctor, with great public sympathy, stands trial to defend his right to operate abortion clinics. The baby murders are indeed very horrible and warrant our grave concern, but can less be said of the thousands of unborn children who will die with parental consent in other Toronto hospitals this year? Are they less helpless or innocent? —MIKE WILKINS,

Markham, Ont.

The Grange commission’s inquiry is the greatest witchhunt since the McCarthy era. It is trying to do the job that the police should have done before charging nurse Susan Nelles with murder. If an inquiry was needed, it should have been done without TV coverage, making it such a sensationalized media event. The whole nursing association deserves an apology for the way they are being por-

trayed. If this is the way justice works in Ontario, then we are not far from Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four.


The April 9 cover of Maclean's is substandard and macabre. It negates the factual and well-written article within the magazine. This kind of sensationalism enhances the apprehension of parents who have children at the hospital and further demoralizes the staff, which is striving to provide the best possible care for all families there. This kind of reporting does nothing to sup-

port an institution in which many good things have continued to happen throughout these troublesome times. It also must reinforce the memories of the tragic events for those parents involved. —REBECCA FRANK,


The French factor

I was astounded by an excerpt in Canada climbs aboard (Space, March 26) which says, “Garneau, the only FrenchCanadian of the six, acknowledged that his French background was probably a factor in Ottawa’s decision to choose him.” Why should the federal government, when conducting a nationwide competition for such an important assignment, be partial to an applicant because of his or her French background? In what way is Garneau’s French background superior to the background of any of the other five members of the Canadian astronaut team? Ill fares the day for Canada when a French background becomes a factor or reason for an appointment or an award from the federal government. — D.C. MAC FADYEN,


Making youths accountable

Your article New laws for young offenders (Law, April 9), while dealing with an issue of great concern, contains certain inaccuracies and misleading statements which must be addressed. The statement that many judges, lawyers and children’s rights activists feel that the new law for youth is “full of contradictions” is unfair to those who drafted the legislation. Anyone who has examined the Young Offenders Act will be struck by the consistency of the law, from the policy section throughout, especially with regard to the philosophy that a youth, as a responsible young adult who has come into conflict with the law, must be held accountable for his illegal actions. The old law did not sentence or convict a young person—a delinquency, in accord with the parens patriae focus of that law, was not a crime. Young people will now face specific charges and, if convicted, fixed sentencing. They will be housed in facilities separate from adults, not in prison. A most important point is the new policy that young people are to be incarcerated only as a measure of last resort; the new law means that we are going to have to deal with young offenders more and more in the community and that the community will have to take a more active role in preventing crime.

—MICHAEL SMITH, Edmonton John Howard Society, Edmonton

Equal rights for parents

I feel understanding and compassion for the man in Barbara Amiel’s most perceptive social commentary Which parent owns the child? (Column, April 16). Neither parent of any child, born or unborn, should ever be allowed the power to deny the other parent the right to show his or her parental love.

—IHOR LAPKA, Windsor, Ont.

Setting the record straight

The article Shelter for the poor (Housing, March 12) manages to resurrect several unfair and untruthful criticisms about co-operative housing. It suggests that housing co-ops are populated mostly by undeserving middle-income people. That suggestion is unfair and untrue. Although the program was designed to develop mixed-income communities rather than low-income ghettos, the recent Canada Housing and Mortgage Corp. evaluation shows that 82 per cent of the benefits went to households earning less than $15,000 per year. Of course, there are some middle-income families living in co-ops. That same CMHC evaluation showed 12.6

per cent of co-op households had family incomes above $30,000 per year. But this must be compared to the fact that 37.1 per cent of all Canadian households had family incomes above $30,000 per year. You also ignore the economics of the current rental market. Nobody can produce new, moderately priced rental units in the market without some kind of government subsidy. Without any subsidy a newly built, small two-bedroom apartment in Toronto would have to rent for $1,000 a month. This is about $400 over the current market rents. On the basis of a quarter of one’s income for rent, a household would need a $48,000 yearly income to afford the unsubsidized apartment. The latest statistics show only 15.3 per cent of Canadian households with family incomes of more than $45,000 per year. The experience of Canadian housing co-operatives over the past decade demonstrates that it is one of the most effective ways to provide direct assistance to the core needy, stimulate the creation of a stock of affordable rental housing and encourage the formation of mixed-income communities. —GLENN HADDRELL, Executive Director, Co-Operative Housing Foundation of Canada, Ottawa

A once-muted voice

What indeed does the United States want of Nicaragua (Preparing to lift the mines, World, April 23)? Voices in the White House are demanding free elections (already promised for November of this year). Meanwhile, the buildup of U.S. armed and trained CIA-supported military continues across the Honduran border, having already destroyed much of Nicaragua’s badly needed oil supplies; the mining of three vital ports has resulted in the damaging of several foreign vessels carrying oil, medicine and school supplies to the people of this small Central American country; the United States has imposed harsh economic sanctions, including cancelling vital trade. That raises the question, why did the United States so actively support the 43-year rule of the Somoza dynasty, which imprisoned and tortured thousands of dissenters, raped the economy, controlled much of the industry and reportedly pilfered part of the aid designed to relieve the suffering and devastation caused by the disastrous earthquake in the country’s capital?

—B.J. SNELGROVE, Barrie, 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.