Off the hook?
Bloc Québécois Leader Lucien Bouchard seems to believe that Quebec will be able to dictate the terms of its secession because Canadians will gradually lose the political will to oppose him (“Is separatism dead?” Cover, April 24). However, popular support for Fisheries Minister Brian Tobin’s forceful reaction to Spanish overfishing should be a signal to Bouchard that Canadians are not so willing to abandon their convictions as they are reputed to be.
Timothy Pad, Waterloo, Ont.
With the unattractive notion of separation dying on the vine, Bouchard has now engaged in a desperate attempt to once again try to sell the concept of sovereignty-association. The vast majority of Canadians want Quebec to remain an equal and respected partner in Canada. All that is standing in the way of this is the constant disruption by self-serving, professional politicians like Bouchard.
Paul J. Arnold, Victoria
Separatism is not dead. It is dishonest: it is not reacting against injustice, it is creating injustice. Separatists are enthnocentric ultranationalists whose culture and language have been nurtured and protected in Canada. It is ironic that they now slap the face of the country to which they owe the survival of that identity.
Mary-Ellen Collura, Campbell River, B. C. IS
“Is separatism dead?” is a question that Canadians will be asking themselves until one of two things happen: either Quebecers accept their role in Confederation as equals and look towards a future in Canada with optimism and confidence, or Canada dissolves and is absorbed by the United States.
José Raul Dino, North Vancouver
For the halibut
I found George Bain’s column (“Brian Tobin’s fishy politics,” Media Watch, April 17) annoying and insulting. Why should Canada, having recognized its own errors in overfishing and taken draconian measures to correct them, stand aside and let Spain or any other nation continue to decimate the
remaining fish stocks? Like most Canadians, I fully support Tobin and Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, and reject the false sophistication of critics like Mr. Bain.
James W. Briggs, Edmonton
With all the media attention about who should and who should not be permitted to view the Paul Bernardo videotapes (“Private grief, public interest,” Canada, April 17), we seem to have lost sight of a most significant point. The 12 jurors and the judge who will be required to view those tapes represent us, the public, and therefore the public can be assured that our interests will be adequately served. Are the media trying to suggest that our courts are so incapable of administering justice that only Big Brother media can adequately represent the interests of the public?
Gerald Black, Brantford, Ont.
In putting your seal of approval on books by Caroline Malian and Isabel Vincent (“Innocents abroad?” Books, April 24) on two Canadians, including our daughter, jailed in Brazil, you have unquestionably accepted what these authors have written as definitive, without checking their sources, or looking for distortion. At the same time as these authors were promoting their condemnation of David Spencer and Christine Lamont, the Human Rights Commission of the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies, acknowledged the injustices. In an April 5 report, the commission found that the 28-year sentences were excessive and that the case
should have been tried as a political matter with consequently lower sentences. The allegations of these two authors go far beyond those of the Brazilian courts, where even the prosecution accused Christine and David of only peripheral involvement.
Marilyn and Keith Lamont, Langley, B. C.
In your April 17 cover story (“Inside stories”) on the firings of Pamela Wallin and Keith Morrison, you quote Ann Medina who recalls that her onetime senior editor, a Don Owen, presumably me, once told her to get contact lenses because her glasses made her look too old on air. I never said any such thing to her, nor would I have made that kind of ageist or sexist comment It’s especially hurtful coming from a journalist I have long admired.
John Owen, CBC-TV News, London, England
Overseas, democratic socialists have produced hard-nosed, pragmatic leaders such as Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating. In Canada, the democratic left features the likes of Charles Gordon promoting the Alfred E. Neuman school of economics, i.e., “What, me worry about the national debt?” (“Why there is hope for Canada’s left,” Column, April 24). Nothing will destroy the Canadian worker’s standard of living more effectively than a currency crisis. As long as the NDP and labor movement leadership countenance glib talk of “deficit hysteria,” the mass of Canadian voters will continue to judge it unfit to run a lemonade stand.
Michael Helfinger, Willowdale, Ont.
‘Right on target’
Finally, someone in the media has recognized the gun registration bill for the farce that it is (“Pro-choice gals-for-guns make sense,” Column, April 3). Barbara Amiel’s column is right on target in that Justice Minister Allan Rock’s bill is not a crime-control measure, but merely targets legal gun owners. Constituents will not forget those members of Parliament who vote for this ridiculous bill.
Gordon Hansen, Waldhof Ont.
It was very reassuring to read that someone in Canada still supports the basic rights that were established hundreds of years ago. As Canadians, we do have the right to have and use firearms, the right to fair treatment from the police and the courts, and the right to petition our governments for a redress of grievances. Right now, in Canada, these three fundamental rights are all under attack.
Skeeter Abell-Smith, Saskatoon m
Barbara Amiel accurately points out that Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and Justice
Minister Allan Rock are unable to do anything about crime, but underscores their desire to garner votes in large crime-ridden areas by promoting simplistic solutions that appeal to fear and ignorance. It is indeed unfortunate that the millions, some say billions, of dollars that will be spent implementing Bill C-68 could not be channelled into relieving some of society’s real needs.
Jon Taylor, Craven, Sask.
Barbara Amiel states that “Canada is usually about three to five years behind America in public policy trends.” For which I say: “Thank God!” As one who did national service in the British Army from 1948 to 1950, at the time of the Czech coup and the Berlin airlift, I was properly trained to kill with everything from rifles to a 9-mm Browning automatic. I have never owned a gun, see no need for civilized people to do so, and hope that Canada will fall even further behind U.S. public policy trends.
A. K. Maconochie, Ste.-Anne-de-Bellevue, Que.
So Barbara Amiel would like to be able to drop down to the mall and pick up a shopping bag full of handguns, no questions asked. So would every stalker, sadistic wacko, sociopath and would-be Dirty Harry with a compulsion to act out. And as for those outraged
sport hunters in our midst, may I point out that it is just as much fun with a registered gun?
Bob Waldon, Alert Bay, B. C.
Bravo Trent Frayne for “No heroes, please, we’re Canadian” (Sports Watch, April 10). I’m sick and tired of our great legends being ignored. I’m proud to be Canadian and, for me, Conn Smythe’s name is as synonymous with hockey as Babe Ruth’s is with major-league baseball.
Chris Charlebois, St. Catharines, Ont.
The suggestion in “Schooling the disabled” (Education, March 27) that, in future, schools may not be able to afford to educate children with special needs “in any setting” displays a shocking disregard for human rights. Children with disabilities have a right to an education. If there are problems integrating them into the classroom, it is because educators have moved belatedly during a time of shrinking educational budgets. Amid the panic over debts and deficits can be heard echoes of social Darwinism. I only hope that disabled children are not among the victims of this latest outbreak of the survival of the fittest.
Richard Starr, Dartmouth, N.S.
I was amazed at Peter C. Newman’s geewhiz reaction to David Suzuki’s disclosure of an entirely new concept of national accounting (‘Welcome to the world of Suzuki Economics,” The Nation’s Business, April 3). For the past decade, an active worldwide group of ecological economists have been at work, largely in Great Britain, the United States and Sweden, on an integrated accounting system, leading to the development of an
environmentally adjusted domestic product measurement. Economics and sustainable development scholars and writers have also proposed an ecological taxation system to supplant systems currently in use. I hope our present penchant for looking inward does not blind us to what has been happening elsewhere, and that in the interests of nationalism, we reinvent the wheel, rather than being an essential part of the world sustainable development community.
Bryan Farrell, Professor emeritus, Environmental studies, University of California, Santa Cruz, Calif, jg
Kudos to Peter C. Newman for publicizing the fatal flaws of orthodox human-centred, growth-addicted economics. It is long past time that we accepted that full integration of economics and ecology is essential for the achievement of a just and sustainable future for all life on the planet.
Jim Sutherland, Kingston, Ont.
A picture accompanying your March 27 special report, “Who owns the sea?” on the turbot wars shows Newfoundland fishermen dipping cod from a full trap. The caption
says nothing about when this picture was taken. Since very few cod have been caught in inshore waters since the first moratorium (1992), such a picture may mislead many of your readers. We in Newfoundland and Labrador wish that full cod traps were still common. Sadly, they are not; more sadly, they may never be again.
R. B. Knight, Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Nfld.
The true value of the fish war is not only that it shows that Canada is willing to stand up and take action when necessary, but that the media attention has created a critical awareness of this very important conservation issue. As an “Upper Canadian” who “comes from away” and has had the good fortune to be welcomed by the open-hearted and goodhumored people of the Rock, I find it exciting and reaffirming that others are rallying behind fishery concerns.
Lisa Pitre, Ottawa
It concerns me when I read about MPs being disciplined for voting in accordance with the wishes of their constituents as three Liberals did in opposing the proposed gun-control legislation (“Paying the price,” Canada Notes, April 17). It was always my understanding that in a democracy citizens expressed their views through their elected representatives. Those MPs who stood up and honored their promise to their constituents deserve our full support. Without their stand, Canadians would not be aware just how close we are to a dictatorship.
John Taylor, Oakville, Ont.
As a family physician, I read with some interest the column by Diane Francis “A few simple ways to cure medicare” (April 10). I think her suggestion of user participation in the purchasing of health-care services is the only workable method of making both patients and physicians accountable. It would undoubtedly lead to the saving of billions of dollars, and would also act to preserve the excellent health-care system that we share.
Dr. Ralph Suke, Tobermory, Ont.
“A few simple ways to cure medicare” doesn’t exhibit Diane Francis’s usual acumen. The affluent minority will continue to get good medical coverage by subscribing to medical insurance. The burgeoning poor will receive free medical coverage, and the majority of us will shoulder the burden. Who among us will question medical experts about the necessity of treatment or the legitimacy of a test? Or bargain down fees, determine when charges are fictitious, or countermand a doctor’s authority?
Andy Lipnicky, Barrie, Ont.
Simply transferring health-care costs from the government to the private sector will not lower expenditures. In fact, the overwhelming evidence is that if private insurers are involved, health-care costs will increase. This is precisely the problem with the American system.
Stephen Motluk, Georgetown, Ont.
Congratulations to Diane Francis on the cure for medicare—making people pay a small percentage of their taxable income. It is quite in keeping with the whole idea of insurance, which is to save one from financial ruin rather than to pay the whole cost. In addition, it maintains the almost sacred concept of universality, in that people with little or no income would still obtain care at little or no cost.
Emanuel Läufer, Halifax
The need to know?
As I read in Canada’s weekly newsmagazine about the death from AIDS of gangsta-rapper Eric Wright (Passages, April 10), a “onetime drug dealer” in Los Angeles, whose music “included the use of obsceni-
ties” and was “believed to encourage violence against police officers,” the question occurs to me—why are you telling me this?
Kenneth Nimigon, Lindsay, Ont.
Having just read your review of Linda McQuaig’s book Shooting the Hippo (“An attack on the gospel,” Books, April 10), it was clear from the opening paragraph that this was not going to be a book review,
but an attack based solely on the book’s premise, which your reviewer (along with all reasonable Canadians, apparently) finds laughable. Despite your contention that “there is no longer any serious debate over deficit reduction,” there are, even among those of us who never owned a mood ring or pet rock, a deluded few not fully converted to the soundness of slashand-burn fiscal policy. Until your reviewer and his self-assured band of like-minded
thinkers can prove that economics is an absolute science, and their view is beyond question, there remains room at the grown-ups’ table for dissenting voices like McQuaig’s.
Daren Foster, Toronto a
There is surely more useful and relevant “news” material available than wasting an entire page on an ideologue’s amateurish economics that are as flawed technically as wanting for elementary common sense. Amazing that anyone still does not understand that interest rates are set by markets and not the central bank, and that only high rates can attract the credit needed to finance a huge debt and continued deficit spending. Still, McQuaig will find favor with the legions of takers in this country who could never be satisfied that producers are being taxed enough to support them as they expect.
G. C. Theriault, Nepean, Ont.
The article “My father, the liberator” by Allen Abel (Cover, April 3) reminded me of my late father, who served overseas during the First World War, and his disinclination to tell me directly about his experiences in the trenches. There seemed to be an unwritten rule that he and his wartime buddies would never talk to outsiders about their part in the war. From the time I was about nine or 10 years old until my teens,
the little I learned about this period was from overhearing these veterans talk among themselves. The men would allow me to listen as long as I held my tongue. Years later, I attempted to get my father to talk about his war experiences, but he was still reluctant to do so. My conclusion is that he considered sufficient that which I had overhead many years earlier.
Peter Stephens, Barrie, Ont.
So often my generation is criticized for a lack of appreciation of our parents’ role in the Second World War. Your April 3 publication was excellent, and reminded me of the efforts of those who selflessly defended this great country. My mother, Peggy Black, served overseas in the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps with the No. 1 General Hospital. My father, Thomas K. Fleming, trained troops here in Canada with The Royal Regiment of Canada. I, for one, am extremely proud and grateful for their contribution. It is unfortunate that neither of them lived long enough to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the end of the war. Lest we forget.
Rosemary Fleming-Featherstone, Bracebridge, Ont.
Maclean’s is to be congratulated for including the wartime experiences of one of the 21,000 Japanese-Canadians uprooted during the Second World War, a shameful event in Canadian history of which many Canadians are still unaware. A fact not mentioned in your introduction to Connie Matsuo’s story, however, is that JapaneseCanadians were deprived of their full citizenship rights until April 1, 1949, nearly four years after the end of the war. In addition, although discriminated against and interned by their own government, Japanese-
Canadians did in fact volunteer to serve their country and eventually did so around the world. And, Japanese-Canadians fought and died in both world wars.
Kathlyn Horibe and Baco Ohama, National Association of Japanese Canadians,
Maclean’s welcomes readers’ views, but letters may be edited for space and clarity. Please supply name, address and daytime telephone number. Write: Letters to the Editor, Maclean’s magazine, 777Bay St., Toronto, Ont. M5W1A7. Fax: (416) 596-7730. E-mail 111 firstname.lastname@example.org