The Mail

November 4 1996

The Mail

November 4 1996

The Mail

Parochialism

As an elder citizen, I have watched Ontario premiers of every political stripe act like statesmen (“The secret summit,” Cover, Oct. 21). Ontario Premier Mike Harris’s behavior only confirms what I already believed—he is no statesman.

Pearl Miller, Toronto

The British North America Act of 1867 foolishly gave exclusive rights over education to the provinces. Canada is the only civilized country that does not put education in the jurisdiction of the central power of government. I attended parochial school in Montreal from 1933 to 1940 and we were taught that the bad guys were the English who expelled the Acadians in 1755; the greatness of New France was emphasized—Champlain, the fur traders and explorers. Montcalm was portrayed as a hero, not Wolfe. Mike Harris, if educated outside Quebec, was taught the opposite view of our history. Many Canadians are tired of the bickering of most of our premiers, some of whom act like schoolboys who can’t have their way. This charade must stop. Most Canadians want a united Canada and may be forced to rally a grassroots counterrevolution against Harris, Alberta Premier Ralph Klein and B.C. Premier Glen Clark.

Paul I. B. Staniszewski, Retired justice, Ontario Court,

General Division,

Tecumseh, Ont,

No tanks

In your Oct. 21 issue, you have a photograph of an armored personnel carrier with a caption reading ‘Tank crew at CFB Calgary” (“The baddest guy on the block,” Canada, Oct. 21). The various classes of armored fighting vehicles all have specialized functions, resulting in different names for each. For your magazine to continually lump all AFVs under the catch-all term “tanks” is a regrettable lapse of accuracy.

Andrew Walls, Guelph, Ont.

Not just a kiss

Fred Bruning is quite right in his observation that it is utter folly to impugn a six-year-old as a sexual harasser for pecking another six-year-old on the cheek (“Going overboard on sexual harassment,” An American View, Oct. 21). But, strangely, he claims that all of the current hysteria comes about not through political correctness, but through something Bruning vaguely defines as “anxiety” and “being afraid of one another.” Bruning accurately notes the havoc caused by an increasingly litigious society, but he fails to acknowledge the fact that politically correct ideology has a lot to do with this sad state of affairs.

Christopher Van-Lane, Newmarket, Ont.

Bruning’s column dealt with a couple of silly overreactions by some school authorities and with Americans’ fear of being sued for harassment. Americans at least have the right to sue for harassment; for Canadians, the solution is not as clear-cut. Also, the American media expose such absurdities. Does this happen in Canada? Unless a Canadian is lucky enough to allege being kissed by a politician and can get lots of media coverage by starting a witch-hunt, their only recourse is through the Human Rights Commission. Do you know that in Ontario one can wait more than two years between the submission of a formal complaint and the beginning of an investigation? Americans wouldn’t stand for it. Maybe Canadians’ right to a board of inquiry, instead of a day in court, is a false and empty promise, blocked by bureaucracy, expense and the years through which Canadians have to fight to keep their cases alive. Harassment responses in America may have some silly excesses, but the Canadian media shouldn’t be smug about it.

Barbara J. Layzell, Toronto

A Black eye

Conrad Black’s empire is (so far) smaller than you seem to think it is (“A maverick takes over at The Citizen,” Opening Notes, Oct. 28). The Winnipeg Free Press is still owned by Thomson Newspapers, not by companies under the control of Black. So, to write as you did that Black had “plucked” me from the editorship of TV Guide to become editor of the Free Press was at least premature. In fact, Winnipeg Free Press publisher Rudy Redekop did the plucking. I am also assured that Thomson Newspapers has no intention of selling the Free Press. But, perhaps you know something we don’t.

Nicholas Hirst, Toronto

In all seriousness

In “Small-screen déjà vu” (Broadcasting, Sept. 30), you refer to the Office of Scientific Investigation and Research, the investigative group that has supplied its case files for my show as “a U.S. government organization.” The group is not government-affiliated, although it has been engaged by numerous government agencies to handle matters of logic-defying phenomena. The group is a network of approximately 400 scientists, academics and researchers who are assigned to each case depending upon how their individual disciplines apply. As for the suggestion that the show would be “pretty hard to take seriously,” universities, religious institutions, law enforcement and government departments from all over the world have taken the group seriously enough to engage them since the mid-1960s.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR should be addressed to: Maclean’s Magazine Letters 777 Bay St.,Toronto, Ont. M5W IA7 Fax: (416) 596-7730 111 E-mail: letters@macleans.ca or: 76702.2247@compuserve.com Maclean’s welcomes readers’ views, but letters may be edited for space and clarity. Please supply name, address and daytime telephone number. Submissions may appear in Maclean’s electronic sites.

Dan Aykroyd, Los Angeles

Job-creation myth

THE MAIL

With regard to the special report dealing with job creation by the federal government, it amazes me that you still subscribe to the discredited theory that government can create jobs (“The heat is on,” Oct. 7). Governments by their very nature create bureaucracies, not jobs. Have we already forgotten, or perhaps never clearly understood the lesson of the massive collapse of the greatest bureaucracy in human history? The stark failure of socialist state intervention and control as exhibited by the former Soviet Union should open all our eyes to economic reality. In the early 1970s, the federal government decided to take the country into massive debt for the first time since the war years. Why? It was felt at the time that the government simply had to do something about the unemployment problem. Every single year since then we have continued on this insane course, until we find ourselves nearly a trillion dollars in the glue. A massive reduction in taxes and government spending is the only way we will ever extricate ourselves from this monumental mess. I, for one, have had enough of government assistance in creating jobs. So should you.

Daniel Philippot, Richmond, B.C.

Martian discovery

In general, I have been favorably impressed with Maclean’s coverage of technology issues, space science in particular. But “The neighbor” (Space, Oct. 14) contains a glaring error worthy of mention. Mars was not “discovered” by Galileo. It can be seen on nearly any clear night, and naked-eye observations of Mars are recorded in ancient literature.

Retired master corporal Bruce Neufeld, Bradenton, Fla.

Sales pitch

Of printing executive and outsourcing vendor Mark Campbell your article says, “He likes to pitch his talents to vicepresidents, because the folks lower down tend to feel threatened by the outsourcing phenomenon” (“Is your job safe?” Cover, Sept. 30). I would suggest that there are other reasons why he prefers to deal with senior executives. First, there are folks in the upper ranks of most companies who don’t have a clue how the core portion of their company’s business is conducted. These folks are far more likely to fall for a slick sales pitch. Second, if a middle manager makes a bad deal, the mistake won’t be repeated; if a vice-president signs a bad contract, the mistake won’t be admitted. Outsourcing is not necessarily a bad idea, but it’s a step in which all stakeholders have to be consulted.

Tom Fry, Trail, B. C. Ill

Threat to 'have-nots'

am a Grade 10 student at Bishop McNally High School in Calgary, and I am writing in response to “On the offensive,” (Canada, Sept. 2). I disagree with the Courchene report that Ottawa should withdraw from social programs completely. The “have-not” provinces would only lose if the federal government removed itself from health-care contributions. Sure, provinces such as Alberta and Ontario might benefit, but how could we continue to call ourselves a whole country, knowing that we could be depriving health care to fellow Canadians? We all have the same rights and privileges and should be offered identical health-care programs no matter where in Canada we choose to live.

Shannon Reid, Calgary

Conflict in the church

Your article on my attempted delisting at the hands of the United Church captured some, but not all, of the sheer lack of credibility of the church (“The United Church confronts an activist,” Canada, Sept. 16). The demand that I undertake a psychiatric examination, on which the church has built much of its argument, was in fact dropped completely by church negotiators, only to be revived seven months later after I went public with my case. It is, therefore, dishonest and misleading for the church to claim that it had a serious concern about my mental stability when it clearly was using the demand for a psychiatric examination as a disciplinary measure. I also question the validity of the church case against me when only two months after my dismissal, I was told that all the demands on me from Presbytery would be dropped if I left British Columbia and sought employment elsewhere in the church. Perhaps it’s time that church officials simply admitted that it wanted to get rid of a dissident. Such honesty would be a welcome change.

Rev. Kevin Annett, Vancouver

As a supporter of Rev. Kevin Annett, letter writer Jennifer Wade is mistaken on a number of points (“Clerical defence,” The Mail, Sept. 30). While it is true that the B.C. Conference executive secretary, Rev. Brian Thorpe, is being called as a witness at the Annett hearing, he is not being called to “testify against” Annett, but to give testimony regarding the processes used by the United Church that have preceded this hearing. While it is true that Mr. Thorpe recommended the names of panel members, it was the B.C. Conference sub-executive who appointed those members. Mr. Annett was not branded “a psychiatric case” nor should the direction he was given be characterized as a “tactic to intimidate.” In fact, Presbytery felt Mr. Annett would benefit from a psychiatric assessment in order to plan for his future and because they were concerned for his emotional stability. And finally, while it is regrettable that such situations develop, it may also be argued that if the church were not to exercise the oversight it entrusts to Presbyteries, then society might well sanction it for failing to provide adequate supervision of its ministry personnel.

Mary-Frances Denis, Manager, public relations and information, The United Church of Canada, Toronto

Cost of living

In my opinion, the article ‘To rent or to buy?” (Personal Finance, Oct. 7) didn’t provide the full story. The analysis based simply on monthly mortgage payments does not included all the real—and large— costs of owning not incurred by a renter. The fictional Ottawa couple would incur monthly costs in property taxes and would also be liable for maintenance and repairs. Now, let’s calculate the income a couple choosing to rent would earn over 25 years on their down payment of $15,600. I must express surprise that a lobby voice for the mortgage industry would have missed all these additional costs in their comparison.

Dave Rotor, Cumberland, Ont. Corporate dinosaurs

THE MAIL_

Boy, things sure have changed in Canada’s auto industry. Productivity is booming. We have a huge trade surplus. Corporate profits are at all-time highs. Deirdre McMurdy says workers must “adapt to this change”—accepting downsizing of hugely profitable companies and allowing our work to be sold to the lowest, most desperate bidder (“Why the CAW is wrong,” The Bottom Line, Oct. 21). In the dog-eat-dog ’90s, our view that successful corporations have a responsibility to the communities that made them rich might seem old-fashioned, even quaint. But GM is the real dinosaur; as if this were still the Industrial Revolution, they think that just because they own the company, they can cheapen and degrade labor all they want. We will never succumb to the cynicism of corporate cheerleaders like McMurdy, who believe that this is the natural and inevitable way of doing things.

Basil (Buzz) Hargrove, President, Canadian Auto Workers, Toronto

Media and Chrétien

I know of no one more qualified to write on media distortion of the news than George Bain, longtime Progressive Conservative apologist. In his column “Are the kid gloves finally coming off?” (Media Watch, Oct. 21), he suggests that Prime Minister Jean Chrétien has been given an extended honeymoon. Is he suggesting that the press has been able to convince close to 60 per cent of the Canadian public that this government is doing well? I suggest George is out of touch—the media don’t have that much weight, disappointing as it may be to some of the legends of journalism. Chrétien has received full and deserved criticism on issues from a media much more objective than Bain was during the Trudeau years.

Dick Melville, Victoria

The Road Ahead

Long-suffering Quebecers

I have lived in Quebec since I immigrated to Canada 30 years ago, and I plan to continue living here for the rest of my days. Never have I felt unwanted, persecuted or undesirable by my fellow citizens speaking either French or English. Following both Quebec and national news daily in both languages, I have become impatient and irritated by the constant Quebec-bashing in English Canada and more recently by certain Montreal anglophones. Where else in the world can a minority go unpunished for bashing a majority on a daily basis as Quebec’s anglophones do, even when this minority is better treated than any minority in the world I know of?

French Quebec has been lied to by Canadian politicians over the last decade and the people still remain peaceful. During the 1980 referendum, all Quebec Liberal MPs, including Jean Chrétien, promised to resign if no new constitutional arrangements with Quebec were made after a No vote. English-Canadians applaud when they hear anti-separatist campaigner Howard Galganov and company insult millions of Québécois, when columnist Diane Francis bashes Quebec, when Newfoundland Premier Brian Tobin wants to break a legal contract with Quebec. When it is proposed that a gas pipeline run through Quebec, English Canada is dead set against it—the same people who say they want to keep Quebec in Canada. And the people of Quebec remain peaceful.

The natives are used as pawns in the Quebec-bashing game, using such ill-advised leaders as Matthew Coon Come, who has become rich thanks to Quebec taxpayers under the more-than-generous James

Bay agreement. Again, a group of people is pitched against by English Canada, even though this group is collectively much better treated in Quebec than in any other province. And guess what? The people of Quebec continue to be peaceful.

Now, Ted Wright of Toronto gets on the bandwagon publishing photographs of anti-English graffiti in Montreal, and slanders Quebec all over the world. He is dead wrong in his action, just like the Galganovs and Francises. None of this contributes to the unity problem in Canada. (And, by the way, I have seen many anti-French graffiti in Montreal, in English, as far back as the 1970s.) It makes me wonder how long the people of Quebec are going to take it before the lid blows off and things get completely out of control. You cannot get away unpunished if you insult, bash, lie and batter the one you say you love.

It’s time for people to speak up and demand that Quebec be recognized in the Constitution for what it is, without strings attached, and that the powers it needs be given to the provincial government. Let’s also use Canada’s law against hate propaganda to stop all these people who are defaming and insulting the francophones of Quebec. This in turn will allow the people to get on with their lives and start creating jobs. And as a last thought, why not have a national referendum together with the federal election in 1997 asking people straightforwardly if they agree to implement the ill-fated Meech Lake accord?

If Canadians refuse the big compromise, then we all have to live with the consequences since we may not be that lucky in a third referendum.

The Road Ahead invites readers to advance specific solutions to Canada's political, social and economic problems. Unpublished submissions may run condensed as regular letters or appear on an electronic bulletin board.

Werner Zuercher, Phillipsburg, Que.