Throughout the constitutional debate, there was much talk about the people’s lack of confidence in our politicians’ ability to lead us (“What happens next,” Cover, Nov. 2). On Oct. 26, they offered us the opportunity to take that leadership role and we failed. In a country as vast and diverse as Canada, leadership is about compromise. Our leaders were able to come up with a compromise, but when they left it up to us, we were not able to set aside our differences, we were not able to understand our neighbors, we were not able to compromise. If anything was proven, it was that our politicians are more capable of governing than we are, and that task should be left up to them.
Kent Kirkland, Yellowknife
It still makes me mad to think how close we came to the cliff, but we did not run over it. We took back our democratic rights and refused to believe our leaders. This morning, the dollar is up, the prime rate is going down and the Canadian market is going up. But even better than that, the Canadian political scene will never be the same again. Thanks to the media, and us. Not them.
Douglas Clark, Aurora, Ont.
I know quite a few Canadians who voted No either because they saw the polls and wanted to go with the majority or did not understand the deal enough to say Yes to it, just as many Canadians would not sign a contract that they cannot understand. It is sad and unfortunate that most Canadians used Pierre Trudeau and rumors as their main sources of information. Lots of anglophones think “distinct” means that we are somehow superior, while it just means we Quebecers are different. Any Canadians who cannot understand why should come and visit Montreal. Westerners will feel like they are in Europe here, while I often confused Edmonton for an American city when I visited this summer. But the Canadian touch was present, as it is in Montreal. It is that difference that makes Canada unique. Long life to our wonderful country.
Jean-Marc Renaud, Montreal
Competing and apparently irreconcilable—yet highly principled—views on governing this vast territory have been a part of the Canadian experience from the beginning. The genius of this country has been that we were always able to compromise and find middle ground. It was
never particularly exciting or visionary, but we made it work. We have tragically repudiated our leaders in their attempt to bring us together. A historic opportunity to reach out to one another and affirm that the country belongs to all of us has been lost. The message sent across the country is that compromise is anathema. The Canada that I loved and was proud of seems to have come to an untimely end.
Theodore Dueck, Waterloo, Ont.
‘Not so bad after all’
As an American deeply interested in Canadian politics, I compliment Maclean’s for a great job of keeping an outsider in touch with the various strands of your constitutional web. I would not presume to try to analyse why the Charlottetown accord was defeated, but to make one dispassionate observation: for all the discussions, symposiums, conferences, papers and arguments, the final agreement and ultimate rejection, and all their complaints, Canadians decided that, on balance, their current Constitution is not so bad after all.
Alan Thayer, Commerce Twp., Mich.
Hurrah! My faith in the Canadian people is justified. They saw it for what it was and struck a solid blow against B.S. The needs of Canada must come before the demands of provinces and special-interest groups. As a leader for the 1990s, we need a sort of Pierre Trudeau clone who is prepared to kick the provinces in the
butt. We have had enough of leaders who would give away the store in order to be re-elected.
Neil Morrison, Elmira, Ont.
The pundits have it wrong. Maybe Canadians did not want socialism or more power for the provinces entrenched in the Constitution. The accord was designed to meet today’s problems, not to build for the future.
Charles Schom, St. Andrews, N.B.
Canada has said No to a Constitution constructed to satisfy Quebec’s desire to be a separate country within Canada. It seems obvious that the politicians do not have the courage to face up to the obvious fact: the problem is unsolvable. So, Brian Mulroney, Robert Bourassa and all the rest of you Yes-sayers, read Canada’s lips—no more distinct-society nonsense.
Thomas P. Millar, Vancouver
Cheering up the nation
Congratulations, Toronto Blue Jays, not only for winning three for three, and making history, but for giving this country something to cheer about (“There is joy in Hogtown,” Sports, Nov. 2). The Jays have taught us more lessons than a stint at summer school—work hard, play your heart out, nevei give up, win with teamwork and always conduct yourself with dignity and respect.
Kathryn Nowicki, Mississauga, Ont.
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.
No magical solutions
The major ailment of Canada is the politicians’ failure to address the economic ills of our nation (“The fear factor,” Canada/Cover, Oct 12). The reality of the situation is that no politician has the fortitude to tackle the economic crisis. They would prefer to wait and hope that, if and when the United States recovers, the recovery will spread northward. The government does not possess the magical solution to our economic woes. Its solution has
been to keep all the focus on the constitutional issue. Either way, politicians will be indifferent to the economic suffering of Canadians.
Gordon Trudell, Hamilton
A better place
I take exception to Barbara Amiel’s blanket condemnation of Canadian multiculturalism (“Society’s nightmare: multiculturalism,” Column, Oct. 12). Each year, about 200,000 new people choose to make Canada their home. By all standards, a society whose ethnic makeup is changing as rapidly as Canada’s should be seething with racial tension, if not exploding in ethnic violence. But we are not. What makes us different from Europe, the United States or other countries is multiculturalism. Eastern Europe and the former Soviet republics could use a large dose of Canadian-style multicultural tolerance. Multiculturalism is far from perfect.
But it works. The Canadian multicultural mosaic absorbs people into the fabric of the Canadian nation as effectively as the U.S. melting pot. It just does it with more humanity.
Bob Delaney, Mississauga, Ont.
I am embarrassed and terrified at the regression of American attitudes towards women. Comments in your article “American Dreamers,” (Special Report, Oct. 12) aimed at Hillary Clinton reek of prejudice, hypocrisy,
misogyny and a disturbing double standard. While fathers and their roles in the family are blithely ignored, the American public is getting away with hatred that could never be aimed at another race, culture or religion without moral outrage. Wake up, North America. I’d vote for Hillary Clinton in a minute.
Kristin McKinnon, Toronto
Given their record of assuming credulity in the Canadian population, it will not be surprising at the next election to see Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and the Progressive Conservative party try to grab political benefit from an overdue $28-billion public works project (“A major policy change,” Canada, Oct. 5). But there isn’t enough gullibility in the land for them to succeed. With the plan to improve some of the nation’s decrepit transportation
infrastructure, the Tories are merely acknowledging that years of obsession with government restraint as a deficit-fighting tactic have hurt people living here and now. For such belated recognition, they should expect no more than a little softer kick at the polls.
Jeffrey Barnard, Toronto
Your article raises some interesting questions that need answers before we allow our various levels of government to tear off on another orgy of vote-winning paving without revealing whether it covers any more than intercity highways and airport runways. Surely there is a greater need for public transit than there is for building new highways. Even in the intercity area, would funds not be better spent on improving Via Rail service than on air transport, which is the costliest way to move either passengers or freight? There is a need for a balanced transport policy to be developed before our governments embark on further pandering to the view that all our transport needs can be served by motor vehicles and airplanes.
R. H. Tivy, Surrey, B.C.
The Royal Bank, guided by its economists and with the approval of its directors, has lost billions of dollars in the near bankruptcies of Dome Petroleum, Argentina, Mexico, Brazil and, most recently, Olympia & York. Why, then, do people like Peter C. Newman in his Business Watch column ( ‘Giving the Yes vote its flesh and bones,” Oct. 5) put so much credence in the Royal Bank study on the costs of Quebec separation?
Steve Ottridge, Vancouver
The Royal Bank says, “Two sovereign states cannot share a single currency while exercising independent political control.” But does not Luxembourg operate on the Belgian franc? And Liechtenstein on the Swiss franc? And Monaco on the French franc?
E. W. Kieckhefer, Milwaukee
It would seem that American voters should concern themselves less with William Clinton’s activities during the Vietnam War and more with what George Bush was doing during the same period (“Vietnam’s dark shadow,” World, Oct. 5). What with the CIA’s involvement in drug trafficking in Southeast Asia,
many American servicemen who managed to survive the war came home addicted to drugs. They may have been better off had Bush avoided service in the CIA.
Gwen North, Moncton, N.B.
A tragic state
It is extremely disheartening and disturbing to be shown that we live in a world where people could value employment over human life (“Death in the deeps,” Canada, Sept. 28). My heart goes out to the families of the men killed in the Giant gold mine, and to the rest of us who have to live in a world that seems to increasingly lack morals.
Maureen Wagner, Pembroke, Ont.
A capful of hats
What’s with this E. J. Epp letter of complaint regarding Fotheringham’s use (abuse) of the English language? Fotheringham hasn’t been speaking English for 20 years. Guess that’s why his messages get through to us non-professor types. That’s what they call “talking through his Tractor Hat.”
Maureen Ehman, Holdfast, Sask.
My cap is off to Allan Fotheringham (“The proper rules for tractor hats,” Column, Oct. 19). As he skilfully avoided capitulating to the proper rules and revealed his “captiousness” to professorial patronizing, he capitalized on the chance to put Kenora firmly in its place, and was able to capsulize views on the referendum, the oxymoron and the credibility of the NDP. I defer to his capacious wisdom by not signing as a professor, although there are a bunch of us college teachers in Oakville to whom that title was gratuitously awarded in a former contract. Therein may lie a clue to the case of Epp, the phantom professor from Kenora.
Roger Johnston, Oakville, Ont.
Your magazine reeks of politics. Too much of a good thing can be cloying. What else is new? Well, for one thing, Allan Fotheringham, whose columns I read avidly and constantly. His humor is what prevents me from becoming a psychiatric couch potato.
Frank Ricard, Dorval, Que.
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.
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