Since 1842, Hong Kong has been governed by a colonial government dictated from abroad (“Countdown to change,” Cover, May 10). By rights, it should be part of China’s landscape. I do not appreciate why the West has to dictate its version of running business to secure its superiority over the East. It is indeed very shortsighted to underestimate a civilization more than 3,000 years old rather than to build on strengths and to enhance the dignity of China’s political and economic evolution.
Patricia S. K. Lee, Toronto
Your cover story (“Finding a new life”) was very interesting. I was an immigrant from Hong Kong 12 years ago and moved to a small town, so I do feel I can share some views. Encourage new immigrants to take jobs in small towns: Hong Kong immigrants show reluctance to relocate to small towns even if there is a great job offer. And, if the second generation does not learn English and the Canadian culture well, they will no longer be a transferred wealth, but will become a long-term liability to the country.
Kitimat, B. C.
Fred Bruning’s hindsight view is like all others—nonsensical (“The FBI and other Washington wackos,” An American View, May 10). Had the rescue and arrest effort worked without the Davidians starting their own hell, what would his views have been? The lack of respect for the law enforcement men and women who give their lives protecting him and me is obvious. Why do irresponsible writers get to write their opinions on something they know nothing about? His article is in no way “an American view.”
Charles de Turenne, Renton, Wash.
Trial by media
It is with a great deal of regret that I read your article “Under suspicion” (World, May 3) in reference to the recent tragedy of the death of a civilian in Somalia. It seems that the Canadian press in general has succumbed to the sensationalism of tabloid reporting with hidden allegations rather than the accuracy of facts. I shudder to think how other countries look upon us when our own media does little to promote the positive side of our endeavors.
Gina Meade, Halifax
So, Kim Campbell will eliminate the deficit in five years (“Squeezing Ottawa,” Canada, May 10) without raising taxes (no specifics, of course). It seems to me that former finance minister Michael Wilson promised the same thing in 1984 and couldn’t deliver, despite a booming economy and record tax increases. If our politicians wonder why they have a credibility problem, it’s because we’ve heard it all before—and it’s no truer now than it was then.
Jeff Jones, Pembroke, Ont.
Playing the game
Canada’s left now plays the absurd game of deficit denial. Unfortunately, your essayist grasps neither economics nor arithmetic (“The great Canadian debit game,” Canada, May 10). Whether deficits finance yachts or “economic freedom,” consecutive deficits will increase the total debt until debtservice charges sink the economy. If we decide to continue deficit spending, we must increase taxes, cut services—or wait for the eventual collapse.
Don Carr, Brantford, Ont.
Who signed the Business Council on National Issues’ damnation of government spending? Was it Air Canada or Canadian Airlines? The whiz kids in the banks who backed the Reichmanns? The Curragh management which abandoned its mine? The profit-making banks who are laying off employees to the unemployment rolls? When business fails, it turns to the government for bailouts. Now, it turns on its patron. Let’s all fight the deficit. But we will never win if businesses default on government loans, dump thousands of laid-off workers onto unemployment lines and overextend themselves, but write off their mistakes, and abandon Canada, because exploitation is cheaper in Mexico. Government, at least, is trying.
G. Douglas Vaisey, Halifax
‘Held to ransom’
Your article “The bull is back” (Business, May 3) offers a different perspective. Statistics Canada forecasts growth in Canada’s gross domestic product, encouraging foreign investors to pour billions into this country. I am tired of this country being held to ransom by a “Moody” bunch of suits with calculators telling us we don’t measure up to their “Standard of Poor.” If nine years of policies designed to make Canada “open for business” have led to this mess, maybe we should be questioning not how to manage the debt, but rather how to get out of it. Sometimes, when the game is not going well, no rule change will help. You just have to stop playing—period.
Bill MacLean, Toronto
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.
Hockey has a marvelous past, but a dubious future (“Our game,” Cover, April 26). The fan is no longer one who enjoys the game, but is an investor in a flooded market of collectible gewgaws of dubious quality. The game is poisoned by an inability to rid itself of violence. No other team sport tolerates fighting without banning the player from the contest. And the watered down minor-league quality caused by over-expansion with the likes of the Mighty Ducks makes
the game a laughingstock. The players and owners head towards an abyss caused by the failure to restrain their greed and put a salary cap in place. In the real world, there is unemployment, restraint and a lowering of expectations. In hockey, the only lowering of expectations seems to be that there is a promise that hockey will be less of a sport than ever before. Tom Creighton, Halifax
Maclean’s states that Quebec City hockey teams have “been forced to languish in the shadow of their rivals 250 km down the St. Lawrence River in Montreal.” The last time I looked at a map, Montreal was 250 km up the river from Quebec City.
Mary Jane Beattie, Halifax
‘Sick to death’
Barbara Amiel laments that “the hatred consumes both sides,” in her succinct look at the Middle East. The descendants of two or more tribes—all Semites—gut each other for their square miles of territory in 1993,
the supposed beginning of the so-called peaceloving Age of Aquarius. In Waco, Texas, an FBI offensive consigns more than 70 cult members to fiery deaths. In former Yugoslavia, women, children and elders are slaughtered for ethnic and religious reasons. Our balding, overpopulated planet is sick to death. Etienne-Guy Poirier, Toronto
A bigger problem
Suicide in our district is not a native problem, nor is it a young people’s problem (“ ‘A time bomb,’ ” Canada Notes, April 26). Suicide is a Northern Ontario problem that has reached terrifying proportions. It is an in-
creasingly common response to the severe economic depression of our area. We are plagued with unemployment and dropping wages; we are watching entire towns vanish off the map. We are watching businesses pull out of our towns, train routes bypassing us, bus schedules becoming increasingly inaccessible. Funding for suicide-prevention programs is being cut along with the jobs. Our social workers, counsellors and clergy are fighting a painful and uphill battle with little or no support from our government. Once again, Northern Ontario cries out in agony; and once again, our voices are blowing in the wind.
Rev. Joanne R. Stoskopf St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Geraldton, Ont.
‘Fighting to survive’
Charles Gordon’s excellent article “When Canada shuts down,” (April 19) simply reiterates what many activists and entrepreneurs have been saying for years about “the system,” as we still call it. He asks where the innovators, dreamers and risk-takers have gone. Well, Charles, they are where they have always been—here—although many are now busy just fighting to survive the poverty of body and spirit that a system based on elitism, fear and self-interest, which only produces mediocrity, has stifled them with. Unless Canadians look beyond their immediate problems and concerns, recognizing those symptoms of a wider sys-
temic malaise, and work together to end this spreading disease, we shall only be able to turn on CNN and watch not only the system die but, along with it, all those innovators, dreamers and risk-takers who could have propelled Canada into a strong sustainable future.
Mia Benjamin Robinson, Richard Tavarov, Kenneth Robinson, Edmonton
The proposed closure of Canada House in London has little to do with defeatism or government cutbacks. Instead, it has everything to do with the economically inevitable pursuit of continentalist policies by Canada and Britain at the expense of the Commonwealth. The edifice with our name carved into it may have given us some visibility in the Mother Country half a century ago, but Britain’s most important transatlantic relationship now is with the United States. For better or worse, the demise of Canada House, like the degradation of the royal House of Windsor, is little more than a final nail in the coffin of a once-close Anglo-Canadian relationship.
Christopher Carss, Chemainus, B. C.
It was irresponsible of Peter C. Newman to state that “we are collectively and individually bankrupt. Kaput. Broke.” (“If we don’t crush it, debt will destroy us,” Business Watch, April 26.) Canada is not broke. To suggest otherwise incites needless panic and leads to misguided policy prescriptions. The federal net public debt as a percentage of the gross domestic product was higher after the Second World War than it is now. Canadians at the time, unlike the current generation, did not become hysterical over the size of the debt. Instead, they kept a level head and set out to build one of the most prosperous nations in the world. The debt was eventually eroded over the years as a result of policies that created strong economic growth and low unemployment. There is much we can learn from our forefathers about economic management. The most important lesson is to keep cool.
Louis Musto, Gloucester, Ont.
I do not think that anyone could argue with Peter C. Newman’s position that our debt problem will push us over the edge in the very near future unless almost draconian steps are taken immediately. I do take issue with his statement that “despite the deep cuts in government expenditures that have been painfully administered by Ottawa and most provincial administrations over the past
decade, our overdraft is still growing.” I do not know what planet Newman has been living on, but such provinces as Saskatchewan, Alberta and Ontario have not significantly reduced expenditures. And the federal government has not done anything resembling deep cuts in relative or absolute terms. In fact, that is precisely our problem—neither provincial nor federal governments have faced up to this issue.
R. E. Henderson, North York, Ont.
The economist J. M. Keynes, during the Great Depression, advised the governments to counter the market cycles of recession by deliberately going into debt. This debt was then to be paid off during times of economic recovery. Isn’t it ironic that our federal and provincial governments have increased debt during the booming late 1980s only to have to cut their deficits during the recession of the early 1990s? A normal recession can lead to “deflation, which is a less harsh word for depression.” Peter C. Newman ended his article with the hope that his children’s generation would forgive his own. Unfortunately, they have no time for forgiveness: they are too busy looking for jobs.
Jeff Scott, Kingston, Ont.
I am appalled that politicians, in these dismal economic times, were persuaded to donate taxpayers’ money for a museum of humor (“Montreal’s fun house,” Museums, April 12). And to charge admission. While visitors listen by headphone to witticisms of humorists, past and present, I presume that they come across P. T. Barnum’s adage, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” This project is surely proof of it.
Ruth Brown, Toronto
I am incensed by the apparent methods of the complainants to the commission of inquiry on pornography (“The centrefold war,” Canada, May 10). Regardless of my opinion on pornography, the attack on the proprietors of the comer stores cited is misguided and unfair. In the midst of a terrible economy, they are trying to function by working incredibly long hours and providing excellent service. I live in the neighborhood and could not begin to list the kindnesses offered by these storekeepers, particularly to my children. They deserve commendation, not confrontation.
The story you want is part of the Maclean’s Archives. To access it, log in here or sign up for your free 30-day trial.
Experience anything and everything Maclean's has ever published — over 3,500 issues and 150,000 articles, images and advertisements — since 1905. Browse on your own, or explore our curated collections and timely recommendations.WATCH THIS VIDEO for highlights of everything the Maclean's Archives has to offer.