The number 1 rule of all columnwriting is always trust your readers. Do not question your readers. (With out them, I'd have to get a real job. Would have to work for a living.) Above all, always obey your readers. I have a letter to hand.
It is from Rae Ellingham of Gibsons, B.C. To wit:
“Seems ages since you presented us with a selection of letters and comments from your loyal fans. Why not give your mind a rest and scoop some mail out of the wastepaper basket? How is the Ordinary Canadian feeling these days? Hope you’ll oblige. The mind badly needs a rest and the wastepaper basket is full. There are many Ordinary Canadians out there.”
W. H. Joe Watson of Mississauga, Ont., writes:
“Dear Mr. Fotheringham: You dosed out an interview with Joe Clark by asking the question, ‘Who’s the real external affairs minister?’ The answer is ‘Joe Clark.’ He is probably the finest external affairs minister this country has ever had and may have been the finest prime minister had he had the fortune to marry any other woman in the world but the woman he chose. Whoopi Goldberg would have been a career enhancement at that time for a man with Clark’s aspirations. Now I have a question for you: If there were an Academy Award for Gratuitously Insolent and Smug Columns, could we possibly improve on yours of March 27?”
R. E. Stansfield of Aylmer, Que., writes: “How I do tire of Allan Fotheringham’s pontificatory tripe. George Bernard Shaw was right when he labelled sarcasm as the lowest form of wit.... If there has been a true waste of Canadian forest, it is indeed Allan Fotheringham’s anemic efforts at objective journalism.”
Mrs. K. M. De Boer of Woodstock, Ont., writes:
“Your scurrilous attacks on Premier Bill Vander Zalm show a hatred and frustration which is fuelled by the fact that you cannot find any wrongdoing in Vander Zalm. I am enclosing
an article from the London Free Press which shows that Vander Zalm has turned a huge deficit into a surplus in a short time, a feat no other premier or prime minister has been able to do. Not bad for a man who ‘masquerades’ as a premier. We should be so lucky in Ontario with our ‘competent premier.’ ”
Michael Crook of Toronto writes:
“I attended the lecture, at Wetmore Hall at the University of Toronto, which you gave. I’m a second-year political science and history student. I was quite disappointed and felt personally attacked when I heard your comments regarding Svend Robinson. You insinuated that there is a direct relationship between Mr. Robinson’s being gay and his ability to be a good member of Parliament or possible cabinet minister. Even your slight remark, Mr. Fotheringham, reeks of homophobia. Moreover, I and the other gay students in the audience, whether out of the closet or not, felt personally
demeaned. Who Svend Robinson sleeps with is none of your business nor does it have any bearing on his abilities. By re-electing him, his constituents are expressing faith in those abilities. The very ones he has been showing in the House for years, before and after he ‘came out.’ Your offhanded quip showed support for that repressed attitude in society which banishes lesbians and gay men to lives of despair. Having lived in Wetmore Hall for two years, I can verify the estimate of gay people in society as hovering around 10 to 15 per cent. One in 10. Do you realize the implications of your statement? I felt personally demeaned by your rejection of the element in Mr. Robinson which is also in me. I expected more enlightened, progressive attitudes from the inaugural speaker of this lecture series.”
Donald S. Fox of Osoyoos, B.C., writes: “Someone showed me your piece on Vander
Zalm, entitled ‘Wait four days.’ I thought it perfectly illustrated Jesus’ words that what’s in the heart will come out and it is this that defiles the man. In case you are unfamiliar with the words, here they are: ‘What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these things come from within and defile a man.’ (Mk 7 20-23.) I don’t question your writing ability, only the use to which you are putting it. Why not change direction and begin to write something that all Canadians could appreciate, not just for the passing moment, but for years to come? Something you yourself could live with and be
proud of 10, 20 or even 30 years hence?”
Vera M. Woods of Fort Frances, Ont., writes:
“Fotheringham. I don’t know why you have such an aversion to our Royal Family, but I surmise it could be because you don’t really know anything about them. You really are a bit of an opinionated ass, you know. Do you have a wife? I don’t envy her, that’s for sure. And I dare you to print this!!! (Of course, you won’t.)” Bruce Stirling writes from Tucson, Ariz.: “There have been times, especially when you wrote from Washington, that I felt that you were a smart ass verging on the idiotic. I have never been able to understand why most of our media people are such nerds. For the most part, we have third-rate politicians—and the National Press Corps can only aspire to that standard. Is it Canadian libel laws that seem to turn our journalists into superchicken? Please keep up the good work.”
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