The Mail

The Mail

December 16 1996
The Mail

The Mail

December 16 1996

The Mail

Medical treatment

Dr. John Teskey has taken an excellent low-cost education with him to a highpaying job in the United States (“Radical surgery,” Cover, Dec. 2). When we have, without his help, wrested Canadian medicare back from the short-sighted politicians, and when he tires of the high-pressure, low-service atmosphere of medicine as practised in the United States and wishes to come home, what contribution will he bring? Will he return some of his new wealth, with thanks, to our benevolent society?

Kelly Borrowman, Calgary HI

As a faithful reader of the magazine, I stumbled on the sentence “as well as anglophone suspicions that cutbacks are hitting their hospitals disproportionately.” The whole issue is about the “radical surgery” in hospital funding. So what’s the point about “the anglophone” suspicion? It’s about money. I resent being put in opposition to Anglo-Quebecers when the time is coming to share what is left of federal

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medicare. Anglos and francos must co-operate— that’s the best way to a prosperous Quebec.

Pierre Bouchard, Charlesbourg, Que. El

Universities

Each year, I enjoy reading your issue on the ranking of Canadian universities (“Universities 96,” Cover, Nov. 25). As a high-school teacher, I like to discuss it with my students. An addition they suggested was to indicate the proportion of graduating students who obtained employment in their field of study last year. Perhaps this is another indicator of which is the best university. It is definitely one that may affect their choice of school and program.

Rick Dell, Chaplean, Ont. Hl

As a Manitoban studying in Montreal, I found your university ranking issue significant. Universities like Calgary, Manitoba and Saskatchewan will always be rated poorly unless they too are in a position to be more selective in student admissions. Not every university can set rigorous admission standards, and if they did we would have an elite and privileged system of empty universities.

Kasim Salim, Montreal HI

I wish to disagree with comments made by Trevor Lines, president of the University of Manitoba’s students’ union (“Reality 101”). Students are not “tuition-paying clients,” as he maintains. The university is not a big factory that produces education and graduates the way Toro produces lawnmowers. Unlike what Lines says, the university does not automatically improve its output (jobs for graduates) if you increase the input (tuition). A university is not a business and it is a tragic mistake to treat it as such.

Michael Taylor, Academics commissioner, University of British Columbia Alma Mater Society,

Vancouver HI

As a high-school senior and a strong believer in the liberal arts philosophy regarding higher education, I was disappointed by the one-sided perspective presented in “Reality

UN democracy

The U.S. veto of Boutros BoutrosGhali’s nomination for a second term as head of the United Nations (“The battle begins,” World, Dec. 2) demonstrates the fundamental problem with the makeup of the UN Security Council. It is time for the Security Council to reflect present realities and, at the very least, do away with the veto powers of the permanent members. Only then will these members be forced to accept the will of the majority of nations. As for the United States (which owes $2 billion to the United Nations), it is ironic that a nation that so actively promotes the values of democracy relies on an undemocratic veto to ensure its agenda is followed.

Darryl R. Toews, Kane, Man. HI

101.” It is reprehensible for universities to succumb to the pressure to become jobtraining facilities. If universities no longer value the amelioration of intellect and analytical thought over the development of jobrelated skills, perhaps it is time that they rethought their mission statements.

Alex Mazer, Suffolk, PE. I. HI

Relocation costs

Five hundred residents of Davis Inlet will be relocated at a cost of $70 million (“Relocating Davis Inlet,” Canada Notes, Nov. 25). At an average of five persons per family, there would be about 100 families. I wonder if anyone considered giving each family a cheque for $700,000 and letting them relocate to wherever they wanted?

John A. Fraser, Toronto

Banks and profits

In the Dec. 2 issue, Toronto-Dominion Bank president Charles Baillie asked “what precisely are we [the banks] doing that’s wrong?” (“A credit card controversy,” Business Notes). Well, Mr. Baillie, here are just a few things: How about charging us fees to use our own money, while you use it to make huge profits? How about hitting us with so many service charges that even the people at my local branch were unable to explain some of them to me? How about laying off the thousands of people who serve you loyally while making those record-breaking profits?

Bob Liddycoat, Thorold, Ont. HI

Radio active

In response to the cover story on Morningside (“Gzowski’s last stand,” Nov. 18),

I am one of those faithful listeners who has laughed and sometimes cried with Peter Gzowski over the years. I have learned more about this country and its people, both ordinary and not so ordinary, from this program than anywhere else. I was not born in Canada, and when I explain to friends and family from outside this country that one of the best things about being Canadian is listening to the CBC, I mean it. CBC Radio is my community. Perhaps more Canadians don’t listen than do, but the same could be said about playing hockey, watching any program on CBC TV or reading a newspaper. Does this mean that an institution of such high quality that means so much to so many should be gutted? It is beyond belief that such an efficient, well-run and beloved organization as CBC Radio should be fighting for its life at a time when national institutions we care about are so few. What are we doing and what have we become?

LaVerne Russell, Kingston, Ont. Ill

As a Canadian and a taxpayer, I read “Gzowski’s last stand” with interest. Although Gzowski is “furious with the CBC brass,” especially that “son of a bitch” CBC president Perrin Beatty, he leaves me cold. Beatty, an experienced federal MP for many years, was a wise choice for a monumental task—the downsizing of an overextended corporation. As a retired teacher, hospital volunteer and grandmother of seven, I am more concerned about maintenance of sufficient qualified staff in educational and health-care systems. Let’s get our priorities straight. Gzowski’s reaction is disappointing.

Sheila Wilson, Toronto

Perrin Beatty, don’t ruin CBC Radio. I lived in Washington for 11 years and speak from experience. Even in this centre of global power, it was frustrating to search the radio dial without success trying to find programs as interesting and stimulating as Morningside. Please do not let 3 programs of the calibre ! of Morningside, As It 1 Happens, Sunday Morn8 ing and others die. While I one of the CBC’s critics, ° Geoff Pevere, is quoted as saying that less than 15 per cent of the entire population listens to Morningside each day, this group is made up of thinking listeners who do things. Incidentally, until this article, who ever heard of Geoff Pevere?

B. Fay Armstrong, Ottawa

Greener pastures

I suspect that, prior to their decision to step back and live a more frugal life, none of the people portrayed in “Cashing out” (Cover, Oct. 28) had ever had any worries as to where their next meal was coming from. They could well afford to give up their incomes. It would be interesting to revisit these people again, say in five years, during the first year of the new millennium, to find how many of them had concluded that it’s not all bliss in the country and have returned to their lavish, if hectic, previous lifestyles.

Harvey Manson, St. Catharines, Ont.

'Long-lasting damage'

tt'TVhe credibility gap” (Canada, Nov. 11) 1 states that “the transgressions of [B.C. Premier Glen] Clark and his government are minor,” and that British Columbia’s standard for scandal is gauged against former premier Bill Vander Zalm’s 1991 real estate dealings. There is one difference. Although Vander Zalm’s dealings were inappropriate and unethical, the only people who really felt any effect from them were his real estate agent, fellow party members and close associates. Now, we have a government that misled the entire population of British Columbia. They wanted us to believe the budget was balanced and we had a surplus. When it became clear that this was untrue, they told us that thousands would lose their jobs and that the untouchable Forestry Renewal

Fund would be raided to help get the government out of the situation it had created. I say let them lie in the bed of their making. But like the fools that we are, we will allow them to manufacture a “balanced budget” on the backs of us all, then forget how they got there when we vote again. This is exactly what our premier is counting on—our apathy—and he can’t believe his good fortune.

Susan Stackhouse, Mill Bay, B. C. HI

Where credit is due

«TVJazis, gold—and justice” (World, Nov.

IN 11) was by far the best-written article regarding challenges laid by Holocaust survivors against Swiss banks. I learned more from reading this article—specifically that Swiss banks are by law permitted to absorb dormant accounts, rather than turn sums over to government authorities as required in Canada and the United States—than from anything else I have recently read. I find Maclean’s review of the news, particularly of the world and the United States, refreshing, insightful and of high quality.

Andrew Käser, Portland, Ore. E

Biblical divisions

I am troubled by the fact that a nation that is professedly 68-per-cent Christian and only one-per-cent Jewish (“How very different we are,” Special Report, Nov. 4) allows the New Testament message of mercy and forgiveness to be overwhelmed by the Old Testament one of judgment and vengeance in your story about the resignation of Quebec’s lieutenant-governor, Jean-Louis Roux (“Paying for the past,” Canada, Nov. 18). Few deny the horrors of the Holocaust, but is it not time to acknowledge that acid corrodes the vessel that holds it?

R. B. Pinkney, Winnipeg H

A book by its cover

I would like to applaud Council of Canadians chairwoman Maude Barlow for her presence of mind to be photographed next to a copy of Jerry Mander and Edward Goldsmith’s book The Case Against the Global Economy— an excellent collection of essays, including one from Barlow (“The prince of papers,” Cover, Nov. 11). If Conrad Black took the time to understand the issues raised by Barlow and her colleagues, he might realize how antidemocratic and unjust it is for him to downplay the importance of the consolidation of media power that he represents, and the monoculture of thought that he chokes us with.

Cam Brewer, Eugene, Ore. H

Darwinian medicine

I found Barbara Amiel’s reference to economically useful and economically useless lives (“How to preserve the health-care safety net,” Column, Dec. 2)—distinguishing between “us” and “them” to determine entitle ment to medical treatment—utterly reprehensible. Should retired people, whose energies and endeavors helped build the Canada that the United Nations ranks first among nations in terms of quality of life, be relegated to the end of the medical queue for being economically useless? Darwin never posited survival of the economically fittest, let alone suggested that they should be entitled to preferential medical treatment.

Gerrit Gerritson, Victoria

Playing Anne

Please be advised that Sarah Polley did not play the role of Anne in the CBC’s Road to Avonlea (“Passion and Porky Pig,” Films, Nov. 25), rather she starred as Sarah Stanley. It was, of course, Megan Follows who portrayed the imaginative Anne Shirley in the movie version of Anne of Green Gables.

Kirsten A. Deane, Regina

Quality of education

It was appalling to discover that Ontario Grade 8 students scored dead last in math and science (“Making the grade,” Canada Notes, Dec. 2). Yet the government continues to cut school funding, close schools and generally ignore the fact that quality education is sadly lacking in Canada. Forget providing breakfast to students (“Too many hungry kids,” Nov. 18); provide smaller classes, better-trained teachers and a more rigorous course of study.

Wendy Frank, Dundas, Ont. Hl

It appears in educational news that only bad news “makes the grade.” It certainly has been my observation as a teacher of 33 years that our performance in elementary mathematics and science leaves something to be desired. But what about the good news: the fact that in the same Third International Mathematics and Science Study results published in Science in the Oct. 18 issue, Canadian secondary school students stood head

and shoulders above China, Russia, Germany, Korea, Japan, France, Australia, the United States and Switzerland. If the media want to write about something exciting, write about the performance of our secondary students. Perhaps the media are ignorant of the good news out there, or perhaps it is fashionable to knock the education system.

John Bertram, Alliston, Ont. HI

The Road Ahead

Business with a conscience

There are in the world at least two sets of humanists: those who add powerful, stirring words like “justice” and “compassion” to the cultural air, and those who add jobs that enable people to live with some independence and dignity. Since nobody can live on words, it is clear the latter are by no means inferior to the former. Indeed, a successful business run by a management that takes some pleasure in providing comprehensive medical benefits and paying superior wages to reliable workers is a beautiful human creation, a genuine work of art. Business art, like all art, is not common-, it requires persons who feel the pathos of humanity and want to contribute something worthwhile.

The free-enterprise economic system has been badly tarnished by those in top management who arrange obscenely high incomes for themselves, plus expensive perks: human greed clearly knows no bounds, and power corrupts even the wellintentioned. This blight, however, could be largely rectified by legislation requiring all employers to recompense their most highly paid officer no more than a stipulated multiple of the salary of their least recompensed full-time employee.

For example, if Magna International Inc. can afford to pay its CEO almost $50 million a year, it would have to pay its cafeteria staff $150,000 a year (or whatever; the multiple in this example assumes the company would still be paying the top guy 333 1/3 times more than the ones at the bottom of the ladder). Apart from anything else, excessive personal wealth is an ugly, unfeeling ideal to hold up to the young.

Against an ideal of equality, any version of a free-enterprise economy will fall short. Adults, however, should learn from history: commune and communism equality have been tried, and failed badly. Equality must fail since it is illusory, unattainable. What is attainable is a large measure of social freedom guaranteed by laws enacted by representatives subject to elections every four years or so, socially useful work to do, and the personal dignity of independence thanks to earned income.

Many people view all commerce as necessarily ugly—yet are eager to earn and buy. Less envy, more appreciation of creative human effort and a deeper sense of the fragility and mystery of life would benefit us all.

Laurence Stott,

Unionville, Ont.

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.