Uncounted beans

December 27 1993


Uncounted beans

December 27 1993


Uncounted beans

In your cover story “The bean counter” (Dec. 13), you produced a chart purportedly to show “Where the money goes.” However, you neglected to show the government’s single largest expenditure, the $40 billion spent on servicing the public debt. This represents approximately 25 per cent of total federal government spending—roughly equal to spending on unemployment insurance and old age security combined, and one-and-a-half times the total amount of transfers to other levels. If we’re going to deal with the deficit without rending the social fabric of the nation, we’re going to have to deal with the interest.

Jordan Grant, Chairman, Bank of Canada for Canadians Coalition, Toronto

Nothing you said in your cover story about Paul Martin endeared him to me as much as your comments about his musical tastes. Anyone who prefers the music of the 17th and 18th century to any other is obviously a man of rare discernment and impeccable taste. My kind of person!

Marlies Regenbrecht, Ottawa

Fruitful research

I can certainly identify with June Rogers’s article “A miracle named Adam” (Science, Nov. 29), as I, too, consider myself one of the lucky ones. After years of attempting to conceive, I was helped, through surgical intervention, to unblock my fallopian tubes and have just given birth to my second child, a healthy baby boy. There are no words to describe how thrilled my husband and I feel. I support and agree with infertility research and treatment. Without the publicity of articles like that written by Rogers, I and many, many others would not be so fortunate.

Cheryl E. Robinson, Moncton, N.B.

As one half of an infertile couple, I am constantly amazed at the lack of understanding given to the estimated 250,000 Canadians who suffer from infertility. Why do people continue to dismiss infertility as a non-issue, unworthy of medical attention and funding? It is a physical disability deserving the same sensitivity and seriousness given to other medical problems. Why isn’t treatment for

other disabilities and diseases also described as “tinkering with Mother Nature” or “playing God”? It’s time to treat infertility with the attention it deserves.

Kiri Reid, Dunrobin, Ont.

One-party rule

You have completely missed the tragedy of the Tories’ decimation (“The number two,” Canada, Dec. 6). The tragedy lies not in the ruins of a political party, but in the fact that there is now no viable national alternative to the Liberals in the next election. Barring an unexpected economic miracle, the Liberals will soon be held with the same contempt as the Tories of 1993. This is guaranteed by the necessity of making many very tough and unpopular decisions in the next four years. If the Reform party should form the next government as a result, even in a minority situation, they will provide the “push” that will complement the “pull” of the Bloc Québécois and the Parti Québécois. This would certainly take Quebec to independence by the turn of the century.

Orland Kennedy, Stirling, Ont.

Society’s children

While deploring the monstrous crime of which the two Liverpudlian boys are guilty, I cannot agree with Allan Fotheringham’s contention that the whole of British society is monstrous due to the class system (“Children of a monster society,” Column,

Dec. 13). I have encountered as much snobbery in Canada as I have in England. There is just as much difference between Bay Street and Baie Comeau as there is between Kent and Liverpool. It is too easy to blame our mothers, our society or our class structures for producing criminals. Good parents sometimes produce rotten members of society; rotten societies can produce exemplary human beings. The crimes of Karla Homolka do not indict Canadian society any more than the crimes of two small boys indict the whole of British society.

Lorraine Rock-Howell, Nepean, Ont.

Talk about going out on a limb. It might be unfair to pick on Liverpool, but the overall message is there: children are a reflection of our society. Call it what you want: “strange circumstances” or “freak boys,” but what took place in Liverpool might only be the beginning. There will be more reflections of our society by our children and, yes, some of them will be nasty. Perhaps part of the problem is allowing violence to be portrayed as acceptable or exciting on TV, or in movies and magazines. As individuals, we must take responsibility for the actions of society and decide how each of us plays a part in the good, the bad and the ugly.

Glenn Stensrud, Calgary

I am an expatriate Brit from near Liverpool and all I can say is: once again Foth hits the nail right on the head. Keep up the good work, always telling it as it really is.

Ken Eccles, Perth, Ont.

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

‘Too much to ask?’

As a proud Canadian, I am outraged at the pounding my country and its judicial system are taking at the hands of American media over publication bans, most notably in the trial of Karla Homolka to ensure that her husband, Paul Teale, receives a fair trial (“Leaks in a gag order,” Canada, Dec. 13). Canada has been vilified on nightly U.S. news programs, newspapers and radio stations and this is an inexcusable invasion of Canadian affairs. The U.S. media have no right to judge my country or the decisions made by our courts. Is it too much to ask the U.S. media to respect the internal judicial affairs of a friend? I believe the U.S. media owe all of Canada an apology.

Guy Desrosiers, Edmonton

Band-Aid solutions

I have to say that Maclean’s grossly understated the damage done by the illegal tobacco trade in Quebec. It amounts to not “nearly a third” but more than two-thirds of the cigarettes consumed in the province

(“Up in smoke,” Canada, Dec. 6). Since the autumn of 1991, we estimate that more than 5,000 persons in the wholesale and retail trade in Quebec have lost their jobs because of the competition from smugglers. There is a provincial government revenue shortfall from tobacco taxes of more than $450 million. There can be no doubt that the ultimate solution to the problem is to eliminate the smuggler’s profit potential. Everything else

is a costly Band-Aid treatment of the symptoms. The restoration of a legal marketplace won’t be “a victory for the cigarette makers”; it will be a clear demonstration by government that criminality and corruption will not be allowed to rule.

Michel Gadbois, President,

Quebec Food Retailers Association, Montreal

One would assume that history—as much as it repeats itself—would teach us some things. It appears that the anti-smoking lobbyists have got the various governments of Canada so tied up in knots, they’ve given up common sense. Are we going to have a repeat of the Prohibition era with gangland-style smuggling and violence? Prohibition does not work. It causes untold misery to many, while enriching the few. If governments come to their senses and sell cigarettes at a fair price, the least that will do is drastically reduce the violence—and add much needed revenue to government coffers.

E. S. Terry, Edmonton

Free speech

Allan Fotheringham’s column of Dec.6 .(“Done in by the PC Police”) left me angry, disgusted and with a foul taste in my mouth. How dare he castigate the University of New Brunswick for its suspension of the professor who wrote the article on date rape? Fotheringham writes that the professor was just stating his viewpoint, which is his right. Right? Wrong! Professors are viewed by many students as role models. This man had the gall to write that date rape is an acceptable and understandable sexual outlet for men. If he feels so strongly about that twisted idea to write about it in a newspaper, then

he should also be strong enough to take the heat for it. Of course, he should have been suspended—how can a respectable school allow such a chauvinistic attitude?

Anne-Marie Monlezun, Dawson Creek, B. C

Once in a while you read an article that tickles you pink, and Allan Fotheringham’s did just that. “Females”—there, I said it! Castrate me, stick needles in my body—I said the “word.” I’ve been a bad little man and now I will be punished. To constrain writers from expressing their views is a mockery of our times and a fundamental breach of freedom of expression. Alienate, ostracize and criticize, but I will remain myself, notwithstanding the Political Correctness Police, and will express myself as I please. The state—or anyone else—ought not to interfere with free expression. Back off, I’m sick and tired of the PCP absurdity.

Anthony B. Lemieux, Waterloo, Ont.

As a group of university students confronting the issue of date rape on an almost daily basis, we applaud your decision to report on the recent events that occurred at the University of New Brunswick (“Conflict on campus,” Canada, Nov. 29). Date rape is a contemporary issue on all Canadian university campuses and to continue to debate its existence amounts

to a waste of time and money. A true effort at eliminating campus sexual assault requires administrations to endorse binding institutional policies and to provide a structure that is capable of responding to incidents as they arise. Our own efforts at implementing these measures at the University of Victoria have so far been met with a frustratingly high level of administrative apathy. The question that remains for us to pose is: what will it take?

Tina Walker, Brent Johnston, Date Rape/Dating Violence Education Project, University of Victoria, Victoria

Surely freedom of speech includes the freedom to condone violence. We may abhor the view “men need to rape women,” and that is our right. But the freedom to offend is as sacred a right as the freedom to praise. Any attempt to silence a view on the grounds that it offends is dangerously repressive and flies in the face of any definition of free speech.

Mo Bock, Gananoque, Ont.

Not freeloaders

If Diane Francis had been fair in her Nov. 22 column, “Trying to survive in an unequal nation,” she would have noted that Maritimers spend millions of dollars educating our best and then with sadness see them go to work in Ontario or Alberta. After Confederation, tariffs protected Central Canada’s industries while our trade with the United States was sacrificed. Ontario received the cream while we, the “have not” provinces, in spite of transfer payments and benefits, are living on the skim milk. I trust this puts our situation in a better light.

Dr. L. George Dewar, O’Leary, P.E.I

I would like to say a word on behalf of the freeloaders Manitoba and Saskatchewan. When grains and oilseeds are shipped to Ontario for flour, cereals and cooking oils, the freight rate is deducted from the producer’s pay. When goods are purchased from the East the freight is added to the cost—we pay both ways. Grains, when sold for export, provide jobs in transport and bring in foreign currency to help the balance of payments. Really, Ms. Francis, let’s be more open-minded. Come out west and see the communities people have built and maintained. We could do better—but we’re caught in the middle of the grain-subsidy game. Prairie people are not freeloaders.

Jim Hubbs, Milestone, Sask.

Small but mighty

Your universities survey (“A measure of excellence,” Special Report, Nov. 15) was not fair to Memorial University of Newfoundland, which declined to participate. Memorial is headed by Arthur W. May, a Newfoundlander and one of its graduates. And three of the universities surveyed— Saskatchewan, Victoria and Waterloo— are also headed by Newfoundlanders who are graduates of Memorial. Not bad for a small province and a small university.

M. E. Smith, St. John’s, NJld.

I wish you had published the universities issue 25 years ago when I was getting ready to go to university. However, there are many people, myself included, who use universities part-time. We mature students go back to university to take on-campus courses or, because of other commitments, correspondence courses. I would like to see you include articles, with rankings, on what universities provide to mature students in onand off-campus programs.

Maj. G. R. Hall, London

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