The nation’s mood

October 6 1986

The nation’s mood

October 6 1986

The nation’s mood


Your feature on the political mood of the nation was immensely frustrating (“Mood swings,” Canada/Cover, Sept. 8). While dwelling at great length on such trivia as how many people would choose hockey player Tiger Williams or comedian Howie Mandell to be Canada’s next prime minister, it omitted any mention of the difference in political preferences of men and women. Only as an afterthought is pollster Allan Gregg quoted as saying, “There will be a particular focus by the parties on female yuppies and Quebecers.” At a time when it has become obvious that women and men often have differing political views, it is incredible that you should have neglected to provide the figures that explain Gregg’s tantalizing conclusion. -LOUISE DULUDE,

President, National Action Committee on the Status of Women, Toronto

Now our Prime Minister hopes for a more statesmanlike image by distancing himself from the political fray (“The Tories fight back,” Canada/Cover, Sept. 8). Brian Mulroney is not a statesman, and it is highly improbable that he will ever become one; he is a politician who has decided to avoid answering awkward questions in the House of Commons by the simple expedient of absenting himself. It’s a good ploy to have the deputy prime minister stonewall in the House while the Prime Minister is crisscrossing the country, desperately wooing the voters. We have a leader who is more con-

cerned with being loved than he is with running the country. —ROSALIND JONES,


I am bemused but not amused by the constant barrage of results of various opinion polls on which leader or which party is in favor with a select group of people chosen to tell all or nothing, as the case may be. Frankly, I have had enough. Surely there are more important things to report or to do in-depth studies on. -JIM MACKEN,


Seeing the real America

I take issue with Fred Bruning’s column “Nothing succeeds like excess” (An American View, Sept 8). While it is regrettable that Bruning found the Statue of Liberty “shindig” a bust, I am more concerned that the balance of his analysis of America today, characterized by one excess after another, is quite wide of the mark. I invite Bruning to attend a 4H Club meeting in Hempstead, Tex., a farm family’s 40th wedding anniversary in Goodland, Kan., a team of eight-yearolds holding hockey tryouts in Fairbanks, Alaska, or a citizenship ceremony in San Antonio, Tex., where hundreds of excited former immigrants took their oaths. If Bruning accepted this invitation, he would find enthusiastic, hardworking, charitable and proudly patriotic Americans, instead of the lethargic excesses he sees outside his own window. -HARVEY H. HUETER,

Canyon Lake, Tex.

Sanctions and influence

Among the plethora of half-baked ideas in Barbara Amiel’s column “A discordant song of sanctions” (Aug. 18), one of the more ridiculous is the assertion that sanctions failed to change policy in Rhodesia. By 1979 Rhodesia had accepted black majority rule, which would seem to constitute a change in policy. Evidence of the effectiveness of Rhodesian sanctions can be found in the South African Weekly Mail between June 27 and July 3, 1986. When asked whether economic sanctions were effective,

white Rhodesian businessmen agreed that this policy seriously hurt the white minority regime of Ian Smith. The more quickly Amiel begins presenting her evidence, the more quickly her arguments can be demolished and serious debate can get started. —PHILIP DEMONT,

Barbara Amiel’s antisanctions argument exaggerates and twists reality. Firstly, Amiel states that Malawi, Zambia, Ghana and Kenya are all strongly repressive. She seems to be unaware that Kenya’s one-party system is plural-

istic and competitive. Election to office is highly contested, and there exists lively and searching parliamentary debate over the country’s most pressing political issues. Secondly, Amiel argues that other African countries are also practising racist policies, citing Uganda as her example. Ugandan Asians suffered from racist policies during the 1970s under the regime of Idi Amin. Today, with Yoweri Museveni as president, Uganda is undergoing a process of national reconciliation aimed at all Ugandans, Asian or not. —SCOTT TAYS,


Barbara Amiel must examine the morality of sanctions not in terms of expediency but on the merits of the sanctions themselves. Sanctions are strictly a signal to 24 million blacks in South Africa that we know their position is intolerable and that we are doing what we can. Amiel wants to stay cozy with Botha to influence for the good. How long is she willing to wait for that good? How many times must Botha tell us himself that he is not going to be influenced before we believe him? -MARIANNE KÍM,


Barbara Amiel is either a Joan of Arc or a masochist. Now, she will be pilloried for daring to state the truth: “Sanctions have never worked in the sense of bringing about a fundamental change in the political system of a country.” The whip that falls upon apartheid will certainly fall first, and hard, upon the blacks. Amiel says that South Africa needs a Marshall Plan—help, not punishment. I applaud. Canada’s stance has been adopted to save the Commonwealth, which may be expedient and even worthy in the short view, but it is not necessarily the moral solution.



It was refreshing to read Barbara Amiel’s column after all the humbug, hypocrisy and guff. Her point is well taken and timely—that to agree with Margaret Thatcher that sanctions against South Africa are useless and may be detrimental to black people does not mean that one agrees with the policy of apartheid. It would seem that Canada, like several other states, is deflecting attention from the garbage in its own backyard by shouting about what is wrong with the next-door neighbor’s. Has there not been a kind of apartheid for our native population?


Grimsby, Ont.

I have just had the pleasure of reading Barbara Amiel’s column on sanctions. My question is: when is she going to run for prime minister? Her logic and keen grasp of both international and national

affairs are amazing. Such a combination of wit, wisdom and pragmatism is a rare find in any human being these days.


Equal time for candidates

Your recent article on Joseph Kennedy n’s campaign for the House of Representatives (“All in a Boston family,” World, Sept. 8) apparently deserved a large photo and approximately 1,500 words of text. Then, a final paragraph of only 140 words observed—almost as an afterthought—that Kennedy’s sister Kathleen is also running. So much for equality! -BRUCE MATHER,

Oshawa, Ont.

Respect and the law

The experience of Donald Marshall (“Eleven years of hell,” Justice, Sept. 8) is just one illustration that our judicial system leaves much to be desired. When an innocent man can spend 11 years in jail, something is very wrong. As a result, many law-abiding citizens have lost their respect for the law in general and the courts and judges in particular.

-ROBERT ANES, Brantford, Ont.

No steam in the streets

Journalistic flights of fantasy again distort basic facts. The Nova Scotian summer (“Tempest in a strip joint,” Behavior, Sept. 1) was not “steamy,” nor plagued by “cloying humidity.” It was cool and wet here. The strip joints were probably the only steamy places in Dartmouth. Given our brisk temperatures, maybe the patrons went in to get warm. -MARTY TELENIETZ,

Dartmouth, N.S.

The positive side of taxes

Of course fairer taxes are a good idea (“A promise of fairer taxes,” Business/ Economy, Aug. 25). Of course we spend more on taxes and less on basics now than in 1961. We get more of the basics for less now, and so we can, and do, spend more on public goods such as health care, environmental protection and social well-being. If it is fairer taxes we want, why not shift the tax burden from individuals to large corporations? Yet we do not hear the Fraser Institute advocating this: it uses fair-tax rhetoric merely to promote its basic goal of reducing both the supply of public goods and the redistribution of income.

-PETER J. USHER, Clayton, 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.