The Mail

The Mail

April 15 1996
The Mail

The Mail

April 15 1996

The Mail

Hitting below the belt

In view of our present rate of population increase, is “The sperm scare” (Cover, April 1) really a problem?

Vera Mont, Williamsford, Ont.

It occurred to me that your emphasis might better have been directed to the increase in death by breast cancer, due perhaps to the pollution and chemicals in our environment. Now, I don’t have any proof, but I’d be surprised if 6,000 men died in Canada last year from low sperm count. Let’s get our priorities straight.

Val James, Calgary

We persist in ignoring the obvious signs of our carelessness, such as the poisoning of rivers and lakes, the extinction of species and ozone depletion, but can we ignore the prospect of the demise of our race through infertility? I’m glad to see that Mother Nature is finally forcing us to take notice through that which is closest to our egos, our hearts and our future.

Christopher Ball, King City, Ont.

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Humanity’s capacity for self-congratulation will never cease to amaze me. I grew up reading biology texts and wondering at the power of nature. I heard many stories about animal populations that, upon becoming too dense for the resources in the area £ they inhabited, would start dem| onstrating low fertility rates, homosexual behavior and even o mass suicide. These are mea| sures taken by nature itself to £ control the balance of the ecoÏ system. Among the scientists quoted in the story, there was not one who could demonstrate conclusively that manmade chemicals are at fault. Do they not understand that we ourselves are in no way immune to these same forces of nature?

Peter Moorhouse, Toronto HI

Generic medications

One critical fact that was not revealed in your article “At war over Prozac” (Business, April 1) is that generic copies of brand-name medications are not required to be exactly similar. The Health Protection Branch allows a differential of up to 25 per cent in the amount of active ingredients absorbed by the body between the original manufacturer’s dosage and that produced by a generic manufacturer. While this differential may not be significant in some medications, they present serious concerns for medications that require longterm use. Although we strongly support the introduction of generic medications, we want these medications to be clearly identified as different.

William P. Ashdown, President, Depression and Manic-Depression Association of Canada, Winnipeg

Back to the future

Political science professor Nelson Wiseman states that Ontario Premier Mike Harris wants to “get government back to 1985, but the province has changed a lot since then” (“Days of outrage,” Canada, April 1). Yes, the province has changed— its debt is now soaring and its deficit is skyrocketing due to years of Liberal and socialist rule. I say we take the country back to about 1965, when the non-apologist taxand-spenders didn’t have free rein over the

Sitting ducks

In his commentary on the Reform party (“The Jan Brown factor,” Backstage Ottawa, April 1), Anthony Wilson-Smith states: “They cannot shake the image that there are really just two kinds of Reformers: those who use Sundays to go to church, and those who use it to go duck hunting,” I'm not a real fan of the Reform party, but they’re not really the problem. The real problem is that the Liberal party (and the parliamentary press gallery) contains darn few churchgoers and almost no duck hunters.

Tom Fry, Trail, B.C. HI

public purse, and our children and grandchildren weren’t saddled with a future of crushing debts to bear.

David Rooney, Ottawa

This article illustrates that it is time to reduce the privileges given to Canada’s various bloated unions. If teenagers were to hang around the entrance to an office building and verbally abuse and physically hamper workers and patrons from going about their personal business, you can be sure that the police would be expected to disperse the group. If you call yourselves a union, however, you are given licence to exhibit criminal behavior without fear of recourse. The government’s policies are not at issue here, but simply the union’s lack of respect and civility. If they were looking for support from the general public, they were sorrowfully misguided.

Brian C. Myles,

Pickering, Ont.

Punctured balloon

It certainly sounds as if Mysterious Island (“That nasty Nemo,” Television, April 1) will have trouble getting off the CanWest Global launching pad. The helium observation balloon used by the cast in 1865 could, quite simply, not have existed. Helium was only discovered in 1868. Helium is a rare gas in the atmosphere (less than 0.001 per cent). It is produced as a byproduct of radioactive decay, hence the reason for its being found in mineral springs, radioactive minerals and natural gas, the last of these being its most plentiful source. Helium was only conclusively found in terrestrial sources in 1895, and because of our rather profligate use of it, the U.S. government is actually thinking of stockpiling helium, presumably for strategic reasons.

Dr. Neil Hobbs, Kingston, Ont. HI

THE MAIL

'A bad taste'

While nothing can justify the Cuban air force shooting down two unarmed aircraft, politically expedient American outrage leaves a bad taste (“Storm over Cuba,” World, March 11). Regarding Communist China, arguably the world’s most repressive government, the way to encourage political liberalization and human rights is apparently by trade and commercial contacts. Indonesia enjoys similar conditions in spite of naked aggression and genocide in East Timor. But the way the Americans promote healthy change in Cuba is to do everything possible to strangle its economy. Cuba’s main problem is

that it has a large, wealthy, politically active and enduringly bitter group of expatriates living in Florida.

Ron Carleton, Abbotsford, B. C.

Our government’s reaction to Cuba over the death of the four pilots should have been outrage at the ultimate abuse of human rights, rather than preoccupation on what effect U.S. legislation will have on Canada’s trade with Cuba. Obviously, Canada’s official position on human rights abuses is overlooked, as long as a Canadian company is making a buck. Canada has always been admired for its respect of human rights. Let’s not destroy that image.

Jim and Irene Nelson, Ottawa

Not so funny

Informing the public is your job. Having to do so in an amusing way is not. What little regard you seem to have for man’s best friend from your humorous tone on such a horrible and cruel subject as the production of dog-fur coats in Mongolia (“One more reason to keep Fido on a leash,” Opening Notes, March 4). I am sad in having to assume that you have never

experienced the unconditional love a dog gives every day of its life. For this, dogs deserve our respect and kindness. Your words evoked neither.

Tessa Hartwig,

Victoria

'Only in America'

The funeral home chain The Loewen Group Inc. of Burnaby, B.C., received typical American justice (“Crisis for a funeral giant,” Business Notes, Feb. 5). Even case-hardened Americans are in total disbelief of the treatment of the Canadian firm [which will be paying a Mississippibased funeral home and insurance company $240 million in cash and stocks as a result of a dispute arising from its purchase of two of the firm’s funeral homes in that state in 1990]. Our whole legal system has gone haywire. My apologies to the Loewen Group and to all of Canada. As the saying goes: “It could only happen in America!” W. S. Whitehurst, Fresno, Calif.

Leaving Quebec

There is no doubt in my mind that as anglophones leave Quebec for economic and cultural reasons (“The new ‘Anglo angst,’ ” Cover, March 4), it will prove to be a loss for the province. I think things will be the worst, however, when francophones leave Quebec for the same reasons—and some have already done so.

Jean-Claude Béhar,

Toronto

Republican origins

Your comment that Abraham Lincoln was a founder of the Republican party is incorrect (“Becoming a brawl,” World, March 4). The party was founded as an anti-slavery political party in 1854 in Wisconsin. Lincoln, also anti-slavery, was living in Illinois and was a member of the dying Whig Party until the late 1850s. He ran for the presidency as a Republican in 1860, but constantly battled the “radical Republicans” in Congress who wished harsh and vengeful treatment of the defeated South after the Civil War. Accordingly, Lincoln distanced himself from the excesses of the Republicans and changed the name of the party to Constitutional Union during his 1864 bid for re-election. One can only imagine how Lincoln would view the sorry state of affairs of the often bitter and backward-looking Republicans today.

James S. Flanagan, Norwich, N.Y.

THE MAIL

Manning's coiffure

I am disappointed in Peter C. Newman for his smart-ass remark about Preston Manning’s hairdo (“Memo to Paul Martin: It’s jobs, jobs, jobs!” The Nation’s Business, March 18). We aren’t interested in what is on Preston Manning’s head, we are interested in what is in it.

Mary Wiseman, Red Deer, Alta.

'Horrifically graphic'

My wife and I strongly object to being subjected to such horrifically graphic images as the beating of the Haitian accompanying the article “Buying time” (World, April 1) at any time, but to come across one in Canada’s Weekly Newsmagazine, which is perused by our children, is very disturbing. Certainly such atrocities must be reported, but incidents like this can surely be documented by the journalists.

Laurence M. Hall, Burnaby, B. C.

'V' as in violence

While I applaud Canadian ingenuity with the invention of the mighty Vchip (“Disarming the tube,” Television, March 25), I am quite amazed everyone views it as a panacea—including the Canadian conscience, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. As I remember, Baby Blue movies were introduced to Toronto late-night television in the 1970s with much debate regarding the morals of late-night TV viewers. I believe they were eventually yanked because the moral majority outvoted the smutty minority. Now, the V-chip will change all of that. What will the response be when outcries against increased violence, sex, etc., are met with a simple, “If you don’t like it, turn on your V-chip”? Why will the networks turn up the heat?

The Road Ahead

In search of a collective identity

Prominent Canadians who have worked closely with the unity crisis— including Keith Spicer and Joe Clark—frequently remark that Canadians do not understand each other and are ignorant of their own history. Canadians do not share a strong collective identity. A country without a sense of history is like a person without a memory—a lost soul. Without the collective identity provided by a sense of history, how long can a country remain united?

One step towards solving the unity crisis would be to ensure that citizens share a sense of their history and culture by demanding that the provinces offer mandatory courses in those subjects. That is not being done in Ontario, the largest province—its high-school curriculum does not include a mandatory course that deals with the entire history of Canada. The only

Joe Stafford

Oshawa, Ont.

mandatory course in Canadian history focuses on Canada since 1900. Ontario students are graduating without a real understanding of their country.

If the high-school curriculum does not change, imagine what future historians would say about Canadians if their country falls apart. They would say that Canadians did not even care enough about their country to learn about their own history and culture.

A few years ago, a principal visiting from a Ukrainian school shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union noted that the Communists had tried to destroy Ukrainians’ collective memory by denying them the right to learn their own history. In Canada, we do not need any assistance—we are undermining our own sense of identity by failing to teach our own history.

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.

Simply to better compete with videos, pay TV and dish technology, which are pumping ever-increasing amounts of “V.”

Ron LaPlante, Sudbury, Ont. m

Our 'darkest chapter'

I agree with Desmond Morton that Quebecers could well feel resentment and worse for their treatment by the Ottawa government in 1885 (‘The alternative to force or divorce,” The Road Ahead, March 25). That was the darkest chapter in our history and many of us English-speaking people have been pleased to see Louis Riel reinstated as the real patriot he was. As to 1917 and 1944, those who were against conscription should have realized that they

were not “fighting England’s wars,” but helping to protect the democratic world. A vast ignorance prevailed among many of those who fought against the Meech Lake and Charlottetown accords. What we were really voting against was Brian Mulroney, and it worked.

Jessie I. McLean, Winnipeg

In the paragraph about the lack of respect from the rest of Canada, Desmond Morton missed the cancellation of French-language rights in Manitoba in 1890. That province was officially bilingual up to that time. The action taken then, in the aftermath of the Riel Rebellion, was an early and significant cause of our national disunity.

Wilfred L. Highfield, Calgary