November 16 1992


November 16 1992


A lesson for politicians

I found it refreshing to finally read an article on the constitutional debate that made an effort to examine the real reasons underlying Canadians’ rejection of the Charlottetown agreement (“Why Canadians voted No,” Cover, Nov. 2). The deal was a bad one for Canada. Many of the accord’s provisions were hastily slapped together because of a looming deadline and left too much for future interpretation by the courts. Overlay this with proposed amending formulas that gave Quebec and aboriginal groups vetoes over the most contentious issues in the accord and I believe the Canadian public voted with their heads. The politicians are guilty of spending millions of our tax dollars to win Yes votes with empty, emotional appeals to the heart instead of intelligent arguments directed at the minds of Canadians. The message: Do not underestimate the intelligence of the average Canadian.

Jeffrey Clay, Vancouver

Maclean’s boasts an impressive list of editors, writers, bureau chiefs, researchers and correspondents and I waited in anticipation for the coverage, analysis and insight this team would provide in the special post-referendum issue. Imagine my disappointment when out of my mailbox comes “A Maclean’s/Decima poll on why Canadians voted No.” We have already been polled to within an inch of the life of our country. In the wake of such a resounding referendum result, what possible good could come of yet another poll? Canadians took a chance and took a stand in the referendum, now it is time for journalists and editors to take a stand in the referendum’s wake.

Janice Johnson, Montreal

Canadians must be the laughingstock of the world. Who else would allow politicians to spend tens of millions of our own dollars so that we could tell them that we are not following their lead? As a strong supporter of the accord, I am bitterly disappointed by the failure of the best minds in all the federalist parties in the country to come up with a strategy to convince Canadians of its merits. In setting a deadline to go to the people, Quebec set the trap and Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and the rest of the political brains fell in. From the wording of the question, they must have been convinced that Canadians outside Quebec would pat them on the back, saying “well done so far,” demonstrating to Quebecers that we want them to remain part of Canada. In more honorable times, failure to lead would dictate resignation. However, since few will voluntarily bow out,

they must grasp the only element of the accord that has widespread support, and give the First Nations of this land the place at the table they so rightly deserve.

Ernest O’Neill, Dunrobin, Ont.

In the referendum aftermath, I cannot believe your statistics, at least as far as British Columbia is concerned. I am a chartered accountant with clients of above average intelligence, above average income and above average age. I did not find among them even a handful who voted Yes to the terribly flawed proposed Constitution. In our frequent discussions, inevitably we would begin with “The U.S. Constitution says all men are created equal,” but our proposed Constitution’s opening statement made it clear that all people were not created equal. As one of my esteemed friends said, it was a bunch of socialist, collectivist nonsense.

Lionel Such, West Vancouver

What next, Pierre?

I am eagerly looking forward to seeing Maclean’s next issue. This should be the one in which Pierre Trudeau tells us what to do next. The first part was so easy.

Edward W. Barrett, Montreal

In reading your Nov. 2 issue on the referendum, I was impressed by the negative nature of the commentary. Perhaps this was justified, for the referendum did indeed stir up prejudices against government, against racial sectors and

against the weakening of Canada. However, there were positive aspects in the No vote. In discussion groups I attended, I was struck by the number of thoughtful persons who had a confident, almost boisterous view of being Canadian. To them, cultural and historical differences could still be maintained and respected within such a Canadian framework, without being stamped forever in the Constitution. I would hope that political leaders and the media could now focus on such positive aspects so that a new vision of Canada can emerge over time, and under which historical differences may dissipate.

John Thompson, Victoria

Two events, one cover

All week long, I have been running to the mailbox anticipating the Nov. 2 issue of Maclean ’s. When my copy arrived, I was more than a little disappointed to see an ominous red No glaring up at me. In the top comer there was a tiny triangle with a picture of the Blue Jays. I understand that your magazine dictates a political format and, granted, it was slightly inconvenient for the World Series and the referendum to have occurred so close together. However, sporting events have always been political as well and I have to question the way in which you marginalized the Blue Jays’ victory in order to display the No vote in the foreground. Did you flip a coin when you chose the cover, as so many Canadians did when they decided how to vote? In the course of one week, a baseball team was able to do what countless politicians have not been capable of since Canada was conceived—unite Canadians. For this, the Blue Jays deserve to be applauded from coast to coast.

Paula Schuck, Waterloo, Ont.


Deploring a tragedy

I take strong exception to the closing words of your article on the mine explosion at Yellowknife (“The hunt for a killer,” Canada, Oct. 5), in which you wrote that the perpetrators of the explosion have “tragically rewritten the rules on labor disputes in Canada.” That is like saying that in the wake of an incident in which a former employee returns to blast his supervisors and co-workers with a shotgun, a precedent has been set, and in the future this must be considered one of the options open to those seeking redress for wrongful dismissal. The alleged multiple murder at Yellowknife has been repudiated and deplored by everyone on either side of the labor dispute. Canadians in general, and influential journalists in particular, should be clear on this: an isolated act of criminal violence remains just that. It does not change the rules.

Wendy Hamblin, 100 Mile House, B.C.

Tired of twaddle

Regarding Allan Fotheringham’s column “The cruel pleasures of a lost weekend,” (Column, Special Issue, Oct. 19): Fotheringham has become as tiresome as a certain TV quiz show that he appears on. What self-indulgent and idiotic twaddle.

James N. Knechtel, Victoria

Not with a bang?

Your cover story in the Oct. 19 issue was not an explosion but a dud (“Secrets from the back room”). Why you wasted seven pages on this story is beyond me. As a long-term subscriber, I expect better stuff from Maclean’s. The only point of interest was the textbook analysis of the results of the Election Expenses Act. Another example of how Canadian politicians look after themselves with taxpayers’ money and incidentally add to the deficit.

John P. Byers, Edmonton

The RU486 option

As a longtime believer in the pro-choice movement, I was rather upset when I came across your article on the French drug RU486, which can quickly and safely induce abortions in women up to the ninth week of pregnancy (“Morning-after help,” Medicine, Oct. 19). My dismay does not arise from the existence of such a drug, but rather from the fact that it has not been approved for use in


Canada. The decision to end a pregnancy is often a very difficult but unavoidable one. Why add to a woman’s troubles by forcing her to undergo the trauma and humiliation of a clinical abortion when RU486 is obviously a better choice? The sooner this drug is approved in Canada the better. As controversial as it may be, we must realize that abortions have gone on for years and will continue in the future. The best we can hope for is to make them as safe and painless as possible for the women involved.

Rebecca Halisky, Nepean, Ont.

How ironic. In your story on the drug RU486, which induces menstruation, you chose to adorn the page with a photo of a young woman dressed in suggestive lingerie. While the article speaks of the struggle to bring RU486 into the country, allowing Canadian women more control over their bodies, the photo reduces and objectifies women. As women try to advance in all aspects of society, medical or otherwise, the picture ensures that we are held back.

Shauna K. Powell, London, Ont.

A rally for Canada

I was pleasantly surprised to see a picture of our rally in Maclean’s, until I read the caption “A Montreal Yes rally....” (“The meaning of Yes and No,” Canada/Cover, Oct. 12). As one of the organizers, I would like to clarify that this rally was planned long before a referendum was announced and was our way of celebrating Canada and being Canadians. The participants, and those in similar rallies across Canada that same weekend, wished to demonstrate our common interest in a strong and proud Canada. Any connection with the Yes or No sides in the referendum was therefore a misrepresentation of our message.

Diana Burke, Montreal

‘Utterly lost’

Finally, an article that acknowledges that a unilingual anglophone can get along quite well in Quebec, but a unilingual francophone in Ontario is completely and utterly lost. I wish Benoît Aubin (“A Québécois perspective,” Referendum File, Special Issue, Oct. 19) had looked in the phone book for the number of l’Association canadienne-française de l’Ontario, the number the operator could not find. I would have liked to speak with him regarding the frustrations of living in French in southwestern Ontario. The perception that EnglishQuebecers are suffering terribly is difficult to


circumvent, and Bill 178 resulted in fuelling this misconception. Granted, English signs cannot be displayed in Quebec. However, English children can be educated in their language from day care to post-university anywhere in Quebec. We can place French signs on any of our businesses, but without an educational system, our children cannot read those signs and are being assimilated at a rate of two out of three.

Diane Dubois, President, London-Sarnia Chapter, l ’Association canadienne-française de l’Ontario, St. Thomas, Ont.

Turning a blind eye

With world and national events dictating intense media coverage, the recent awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Guatemalan Indian rights activist Rigoberta Menchu will bring back memories to some of us of a painful and bloody period in her country’s history (Passages, Special Issue, Oct. 19). During the 1980s, the Guatemalan right-wing government’s military and death squads tortured and killed thousands while much of the world watched. Menchu’s personal tragedy involved the killing of her parents and her teenage brother. And while the country’s cataclysm ensued for nearly a decade, the United States continued to pour millions into successive military government coffers. Even now, despite a slowdown in the bloodletting, Guatemala is still high on the list of Amnesty International’s human rights violators.

Bert Snelgrove, Barrie, Ont.

‘Fresh new breed’

I was astounded to read Maclean’s comments characterizing the Reform party ad campaign as having “tended to ignore the content of the deal in favor of sharp personal attacks” (“As time runs out,” Cover, Special Issue, Oct. 19). This is a complete distortion of the nature of these ads, which were crafted to concentrate on content and to avoid any sort of inflammatory rhetoric or personal comment whatever. Maclean’s supports this interpretation with a single example: Manning’s repeated reference to the accord as the “Mulroney deal.” If, after six weeks of intense campaigning, this is the best example of a personal attack that Manning’s critics can produce, Manning truly is a fresh new breed of politician.

Dan Colborne, Calgary

Letters may be condensed. Please supply name, address and daytime telephone number. Write: Letters to the Editor, Maclean’s magazine, Maclean Hunter Bldg., 777 Bay St., Toronto, Ont. M5W1A7. Or fax: (416) 596-7730.