February 12 1990


February 12 1990



I could not help but notice that, of your “Twelve who made a difference” (Cover, Dec. 25), at least six of the award winners were nominated for their work in the arts. With the possible exception of Edwin (Honest Ed) Mirvish and Anne Murray, these select few could not have reached their present positions of influence in Canada without the aid of government funding. What a shame it is that, due to the present state of underfunding in the field of the arts, there will undoubtedly be fewer Canadians to take their place on this esteemed honor role in the future.

Ken Cameron, Montreal


Barbara Amiel, in her Jan. 22 column, “Going soft on the evil empire,” attacks William Kardash, former Manitoba Communist MLA, for all the evil committed by the Soviet Union in the name of communism. Amiel has always presented a disturbing caricature of anti-Communist propaganda, but this time she has gone much too far. Her vindictive approach is as rational as blaming every Christian for the Crusades. I very much doubt that she, as an ardent supporter of American capitalism, would be willing to share the blame for the U.S. government’s saturation-bombing of Cambodia and continued support for the genocidal Khmer Rouge it helped create.

Jordan Berger, Ottawa

Barbara Amiel laments the whitewashing of Soviet external aggression and internal repression by journalists writing for the majority of mainstream Canadian newspapers. Sadly, “embracing totalitarianism” is a strong Western newspaper tradition. Western journalists in the Soviet Union hid from the world the death from famine of up to 10 million Soviet citizens brought about by Stalin’s forced farm collectivization program. Under glasnost, the evils of their system have been exposed by the Soviets themselves. Canadian journalists—fearful of offending the Kremlin or unable to “give up on the left-wing god that has failed” —conceal, distort and falsely interpret the facts. For the truth is that appeasers and ideologues, like all fundamentalists, hold facts in contempt.

Dr. Jack Rosenblatt, Vancouver


As chairman of Magna International Inc., I have not received a salary raise for the past five years (“A vintage year for greed and

stupidity,” Business Watch, Dec. 25). Also, during the past two years, I have voluntarily reduced my bonus incentive. My yearly earnings are predetermined by a formula set out in Magna’s governing constitution—a formula that I entrenched and cannot arbitrarily change. The Magna constitution limits management to taking six per cent of the company’s pretax profits. Of that amount, I have historically taken two per cent. The bulk of my

yearly income, therefore, is directly tied to the performance of the company. If profits are down, so is my share of income. But if profits go up, as they did last year, then my income rises accordingly and so too does that of all employees at Magna. Where is the greed or stupidity in that? I worked many long hours and many years to build Magna from scratch. I think most people would call that the old-fashioned Canadian work ethic.

Frank Stronach, Chairman, Magna International Inc., Markham, Ont.


Canadian Pacific has taken over Jasper Park Lodge, where I worked so happily for three summers in the late 1940s (“Animal fun,” People, Jan. 29). The transcontinental route is no more—I predate even the Canadian—but I doubt that the borders of Jasper National Park and Banff National Park have shifted. I think you will find that Jasper Park stops at the Columbia Icefields and, therefore, well north of Château Lake Louise, which, as long as I have known it, has been in Banff National Park.

Joyce Anne Cumings, Toronto



In “Assessing the health risks” (Cover, Jan. 15), you fail to put the quoted concentrations of contaminants in a context that your readers can understand. Consider the 5.30 parts per billion of chloroform found in the Maclean’s sample of Toronto tap water because of the chlorination process. If a resident drank one litre of this water every day for 70 years, the total volume of chloroform taken in would be 0.14 mL—about the volume of a thumbnail. A comparison of this risk with that of the micro-organisms that the chlorine treatment removes puts the matter into perspective. The same arithmetic shows that a different contaminant with a level of one part per quadrillion would, after 70 years, have about the same total volume as a single micro-organism. Can this be truly hazardous?

John C. F. MacDonald, Victoria

Funny how the environment poses a threat only if it’s in our backyards. Toronto tap water contains 5.03 parts per billion of bromodichloromethane, and what is the reaction? Canadians flock to buy bottled water and sleep well

knowing that they are doing their part by using unbleached coffee filters. Meanwhile, in the Third World, millions of children die each year of diarrheal disease caused by drinking water contaminated with sewage and bacteria. Even “clean water” takes on a relative meaning.

Mora Johnson, Peterborough, Ont.

Your readers should not be as shocked as they might be at the list of chemicals found in our drinking water. One such chemical that many communities have added to their water is fluoride. You should have mentioned that science does not know the long-term effects of fluoride accumulation. Because Canadians are concerned about their drinking water, why have proponents of fluoridation made matters worse by raising concerns about another chemical? Fluoride may save a few teeth today, but we may be kicking ourselves in the future.

Dale Hill, Lethbridge, Alta.

Your Jan. 15 cover story “Danger in the water” states that one major supermarket, in its effort to address environmental concerns, is offering “recycled toilet paper.” Taken literally, it sounds disgusting.

James Slyfield, Bowmanville, Ont.


Talk of separation is not ridiculous (“Selling off Canada,” Letters, Jan. 22). If the federal government brings in the Goods and Services Tax, every province should separate.

Fred Kirkman, Victoria


In your cover article on the Romanian revolution (“Romania unchained,” Jan. 8), it is possible that your journalists are color-blind, making it impossible for them to distinguish between blue and black. The Romanian flag is blue, yellow and red.

Cindi Underwood, Houston


Like most people in Europe (and I hope in Canada), I was shocked and saddened by the recent American invasion of Panama and profoundly shamed, as a Canadian, by my government’s immediate endorsement of it (“The Panama war,” World, Jan. 1). If Prime Minister Mulroney had hoped to serve notice of his country’s status as America’s most reliable lackey to the world, he will not have been disappointed by press coverage on this side of the Atlantic. As for the assault


itself, one can only hope that the day will soon come when the United States learns the lesson the Soviets seem finally to have learned, where the sovereignty of other nations is concerned.

David Dylan Gray, Budapest

Your Jan. 15 editorial, “In Search Of Justice,” offers a very perceptive assessment of the U.S. invasion of Panama and the seizure of Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega, both actions being a clear violation of international law. It is rather ominous that American public opinion, except for certain brave voices, is either warmly supportive or eerily silent with respect to this latest round of gunboat diplomacy; and that Ottawa obediently falls in line.

Betty Eckgren, Victoria

How can questions of international law or morality be considered without regard to motive? However debatable and tragic the Panamanian invasion was in some respects, it is absurd to compare it with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The death of communism in Eastern Europe will have, it is hoped, a profound effect on the moral malaise and philosophical confusion stemming from the post-Vietnam

era. While the U.S. may continue to be prone to violent error in foreign policy, let us hope that its moral underpinnings will no longer be glibly equated to those of totalitarian regimes.

Pat McKitrick, Winnipeg


As a very regular reader of Allan Fotheringham, may I express my disappointment at his prediction for the Toronto

Blue Jays (“Winners and losers for 1990,” Column, Jan. 1). They did not choke in 1989. They played a glorious second half of the season and were then beaten by what was obviously the best team in baseball. And they made that contest close in each game. They were far better than the team from San Francisco, which wound up opposite Oakland in the World Series. Dr. Foth should stop reading sports pages and actually attend some of the Blue Jays games.

Dennis D. Sweeting, Lindsay, Ont.



If the supporters of Via Rail all had their way (“Doubting the motive,” Cover, Jan. 1), we would still be watching black-and-white television, using the slide rule and have tubes in our tires. We must prepare for the future, not idle in past glory.

Hans Herchen, St. Albert, Alta.


When asked whether individuals think of themselves first as federal or as provincial citizens, results from your annual survey of national opinion showed that responses differed substantially between Manitoba and Alberta, as well as between New Brunswick and Newfoundland (“An uncertain nation,” Cover, Jan. 1). This suggests that the Prairie and Atlantic regions of Canada are not as homogeneous as pollsters might like. Unless it can be shown that the results from provinces within these regions do not differ significantly, it is misleading for them to be lumped together, especially in matters of bilingualism and multiculturalism, which have had widely differing histories in these provinces.

Gerald Loewen, Minneapolis


Regarding “Fictional reservations in the foothills” (Opening Notes, Jan. 8), if you look at a map of Alberta, you will see Hobbema is located between the towns of Ponoka and Wetaskiwin in central Alberta. This is a far cry from southwestern Alberta, and not even within sight of the foothills of the Rockies, even on a clear day.

James A. Duncan, Saskatoon


If, as economists estimate, every one-cent rise in the dollar means a loss of $1 billion to $3 billion in export sales (“Policy under fire,” Business, Jan. 8), and considering that most of our exports consist of unprocessed natural resources, I say let the dollar rise. As long as we rely on selling off our trees, oil and ore for our prosperity, we will never acquire the initiative and innovation needed to be a truly industrialized nation.

Richard Weatherill, Sidney, B.C.

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.