The main reason for cross-border shopping (“Shopping binge,” Cover, April 29) is the high cost of gasoline. Recently, there was a gas war in the B.C. Lower Mainland, dropping prices to only a few cents above U.S. levels. I have since noticed in Seattle that the number of Canadian licence plates in parking lots comprises fewer than 10 per cent of all cars. This is the way to reduce cross-border shopping.
Bert Hock, New Westminster, B.C.
Canadian shoppers are eagerly welcomed by U.S. merchants. But they are about the only ones welcoming Canadians these days. Border lineups (miles long on holiday weekends), traffic tie-ups, crowds in grocery stores and discarded clothing are not doing much for crossborder relations. The only solution—both for the sake of Canadian merchants and U.S. residents—is a crackdown on people who lie about the amount of goods they have purchased.
Marian Van Til-Cassidy, Lewiston, N. Y.
I have some advice for Canadians who crossborder shop: move to the United States, next to your favorite American mall. You will be able to buy beer, cigarettes and other essentials for lower prices. Also, my taxes will no longer be used to pay for your social programs.
Sean Sutherland, Nepean, Ont.
MEECH COVERAGE ON TRIAL
In criticizing CBC TV’s coverage of Meech Lake in 1987, Peter C. Newman relies exclusively on an article by Queen’s University professor John Meisel, who in turn quoted from a speech I made in November of that year (“Distorted images: the CBC on Meech Lake,” Business Watch, May 6). Meisel questions my assessment that personal rivalry with Pierre Trudeau was Brian Mulroney’s sole motivation in negotiating the accord. It was wrong to say that was his sole motivation. As a CBC journalist, I should not have expressed a personal opinion imputing motive. However, while proclaiming distaste for my imputation of motive, Meisel and Newman cheerfully impute mine. The theme of my 1987 presentation was that journalists cannot allow their own views to push them beyond the bounds of fair reporting. As to how my mind-set may have influenced coverage, Meisel presents no evidence to support his “impression” that the CBC had a “bitterly hostile” bias to the accord. As to Trudeau, it was an obvious journalistic decision to seek the views of the chief author of the 1982 Constitution. Public policy debate is enhanced by the clash of views. This is the basic role of
journalism. Meisel cannot have it both ways. If I was able to distort the coverage in 1987,1 must also have been responsible for the “extraordinary efforts to provide ‘competent and balanced accounts’ ” in 1990.
Elly Alboim, Ottawa Bureau Chief, CBC TV News, Ottawa
PUTTING ON THE RITZ
Needless to say, I was shocked by Allan Fotheringham’s column about the RitzCarlton Hotel being converted into condominiums (“Duck! Here come Brian and Mordecai,” April 22). This is a rumor that goes back a year, following plans to build a small office complex over our garage, which is unused space. These plans were scrapped at the time. It never was planned to turn the hotel into condominiums. The same applies to the Ritz Garden: it is closed only because it is being prepared for the coming summer season, and will open in a few weeks. The ducks hope to see Allan Fotheringham there this summer. True, we closed the Maritime Bar and the other small restaurant. This is a decision I made because those establishments were not financially viable. Finally, I would like to point out that a few months ago, the U.S. monthly magazine Institutional Investor rated the Ritz-Carlton the best hotel in Canada, fourth in North America and 22nd in the world.
Fernand Roberge, President and Chief Executive Officer, Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Montreal
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.
A ‘HOPELESS ADDICTION’
The cover of your April 15 issue blazons forth “The future of the car: The world’s biggest manufacturer launches an industrial revolution.” So I anticipated finding information about new environmental standards being set by an industry responsible for one of the single largest sources of air pollution—and, indirectly, for tragedies like the recent Mediterranean oil spill. But I finished with despair. There was not a single line about how GM is responding to our apparently hopeless addiction to its products. What would really cheer up me and other car owners who hate to drive is news that the manufacturers are trying to clean up the dirty machines they produce.
Penny Sanger, Ottawa
The urban automobile is a dinosaur of technology with limited applications in crowded, polluted, noisy cities. For me, the best city vehicle is a bicycle. It provides fast, private, door-todoor transportation at the least cost, both monetarily and environmentally. Compared with Europe, Asia and some U.S. cities where bikeways and secure lock-up facilities are provided, we are extremely backward.
Anne Hansen, Toronto
LEARNING TO HATE THE GST
We may be learning to five with the GST, but we certainly don’t love it (“Living with the GST,” Business, April 15). Ask parents who must pay more for children’s clothing and are finding that heating, electricity and most other services are becoming more expensive. Politicians are deluding themselves if they think that Canadians will forget who instigated this fantastic moneymaking scheme come election time.
Pearl Miller, Downsview, Ont.
In “Living with the GST,” you state in the subtitle that the tax “no longer causes public outrage.” I must disagree. The GST is nothing but legalized theft by a money-hungry government that has gone out of control. Every cent of GST I pay is an outrage.
Dave Price, Binbrook, Ont.
THE TRUTH ABOUT WAR
I believe that A. C. Brewer’s letter was right on the mark when it stated that if “people are to understand how barbaric war really is, they must see more of its tragedy and less of its pageantry” (“The real Gulf story,”
April 15). I think that if people would see the human butchery in all its gruesomeness, they would scream at their leaders to stop it. If rationality will not prevent us from warring, maybe the sheer horror of it will.
Stan Penner, Landmark, Man.
A CANADIAN SOLUTION
Your article “A view from the year 2000” (Canada/Special Report, April 8) reflects the typical Canadian attitude about our future as a country. Exodus from the Atlantic provinces? Suicides in the Prairies? Give me a break. Those are scare tactics from people afraid of the realities of a changing world. Instead, we must invest in educating our youth with the eventual goal of having a healthier and more competitive economy. This may also lessen the need for many social programs like welfare, while ensuring that we can always afford the truly essential ones, like health care. The solution for Canada’s future is to face the world as it really is: a race track on which we are falling behind.
Claude Spino, Victoria
In “A view from the year 2000,” the Yukon and the Northwest Territories are, typically, left out—as they have been in most articles ever written about Canada’s future. Perhaps they should settle their land claims and quietly depart with all their oil, gas and mineral reserves. Maybe they could even form an Arctic federation with a newly independent Alaska and the Republic of Siberia?
Alison Cartwright, Fort Good Hope, N. W. T.
Your article “Loosening the grip” (Canada/ Special Report, April 8) ignores the effect that the federal government’s handing of power to the provinces will have on the smaller provinces. It is of no use to Nova Scotia to have additional fiscal responsibilities because the province has no money. Just because the rich provinces are doing fine does not mean that Ottawa should unload its woes on the weaker ones. This kind of self-seeking, inward-looking solution must end.
Thomas N. B. Creighton, Halifax
A LOUSY DEAL
In Diane Francis’s column of April 8 (“A modem hero for a developing nation”), she states that “a North American free trade area [will] produce economic benefits for all three countries.” But the experience Canadians have had with the FTA casts doubt on Francis’s assertion. The Canadian federal finance department, in a report released in January, 1988, stated that “the economic benefits of the FTA will start to be realized shortly after the
implementation of the agreement.” To date, these benefits have been illusory. Our economy has deteriorated, our dollar has skyrocketed, and Canadians have been subjected to the first made-in-Canada recession. These failures should lead us to question the wisdom of becoming involved in another unnecessary agreement.
Ted Krasowski, Niagara Falls, Ont.
In “Planning a referendum on a new constitution” (Business Watch, March 25), Peter C. Newman exemplifies the superficiality of much of the comment on the current constitutional debate. Sharon Carstairs and Clyde Wells based their opposition to the Meech Lake accord on sound constitutional precedents. In short, they had the courage to challenge the belief that Quebec has always been left out of Canada’s development. Sadly, our country is in a sorry state because of spin doctors like Newman, who spend their energies attempting to make the constitutional aberrations of Prime Minister Brian Mulroney seem credible.
Ian Holter, Surrey, B.C.
Peter C. Newman’s reports on the business community, into which he has a special insight, are often interesting. But he does not seem to realize that the main casualty of his ongoing vilification of Clyde Wells and Pierre Trudeau is his own credibility. If he cannot think of these individuals without foaming at the mouth, that is his affair. But reminding several million readers each week is a waste of trees and an abuse of responsibility.
ONE DOCTOR’S VISION
Not all people who have undergone excimer laser eye surgery have been as lucky as Shirley Armstrong, the patient mentioned in “Reshaping vision” (Medicine, March 11). While the procedure may offer shortsighted patients clear vision, it also has the potential to adversely affect the vision of these same patients who are, after all, well served by either contact lenses or glasses. I feel, however, that the theory behind the surgery is sound. But our understanding of corneal healing is far from complete, and the laser technology will likewise have to be refined before the technique can be considered safe. A moratorium on the technology should be instituted until the proper regulatory framework for excimer laser eye surgery exists.
Dr. A. Gardner Watson, Director, University of Ottawa Eye Institute,
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