The Mail

The Mail

May 13 1996
The Mail

The Mail

May 13 1996

The Mail

The refugee trade

Your cover story claims to expose the victimization of innocents by criminals but only victimizes them further by peddling facile answers (“The people smugglers,” April 29). What makes people pay huge sums of money to smugglers, sometimes at risk to their lives? Desperation— caused by the need to escape persecution. Why do refugees have to resort to profiteering smugglers? In large part because countries like Canada put a lot of time and money into building barriers to prevent refugees from coming to Canada.

Janet Dench,

Canadian Council for Refugees,


Your article illustrates how much our immigration and refugee policies need drastic reform. Perhaps we could start by dismissing the incumbent members of the immigration and refugee boards. They have elevated gullibility to an art form.

Joseph Hind,

North Vancouver, B.C.

As a legitimate landed immigrant who came from Sri Lanka to Canada more than 25 years ago, I am disgusted by the lawlessness among the Sri Lankan Tamil refugees in Toronto. Much of the “discrimination” that these refugees claim to have fled from in Sri Lanka are the fictions of a concerted campaign by refugee peddlers to soften Canadians for an ever-larger intake of the “victims.” The well-organized demonstrations of these Tamils, with their florid signs containing outrageous charges against the Sinhalese, should be viewed by Canadians with the greatest skepticism. What really galls me is that these fake refugees are spoiling the atmosphere for the true refugees in this world.

Asoka C. Yapa, Deep River, Ont.


should be addressed to:

Maclean’s Magazine Letters

777 Bay St.,Toronto, Ont. M5W IA7

Fax: (416) 596-7730

111 E-mail:


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.

I am a Tamil refugee claimant and I found your article misleading because it uses a quote from a Sri Lankan government official to prove its thesis. According to that officer, Tamils are only being persecuted by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and that is the only valid reason for them to apply for refugee status. It fails to discuss the ethnic violence and horrific wars between LTTE and the Sri Lankan government or LTTE and the Indian government that led to an explosive growth in Tamil refugees worldwide. Neither I nor most other Tamil refugees left for fear of LTTE.

We left because we were being persecuted by the gov-

ernment. We were arrested in the streets because we are Tamils and our villages were bombed and shelled because we are Tamils.

Thevi Sundaralingam, Ottawa

Am I meant to feel sorry for a bogus refugee who has $70,000 to pay for illegal migration to Canada? In what honest occupation could this needy person earn that much money? We live in an honest, perhaps naive society by global standards, and demonstrate our gullibility by offering international scam artists the benefit of the doubt when they arrive to exploit our concern for human rights, our freedom, and our social, economic and health benefits.

Tanya Ambrose, Mallorytown, Ont.

Your articles expose the farce of Canada’s refugee determination policy as well as the outdated immigration laws that are making Canada a haven for criminals. How does the

'A critical concern'

Your cover story on “The sperm scare” (April 1) was very timely and worthwhile. A decrease in sperm count is not only a critical concern because it could lead to the demise of the human race, but because of the devastation that infertility brings to the lives it affects. I couldn’t disagree more with the readers who dismissed the importance of low sperm counts because of our population growth. Deciding to have children is a most important and personal decision and to be denied this choice is to lose part of one’s identity. The tragedy of infertility should not be trivialized by those not touched by its grief.

Joanne Klein, Elmwood, Ont.

government justify spending Canadian tax dollars to import criminals and then spending more to prosecute and jail them in Canada? It is time the government stopped the flow of these bogus refugees and instructed its foreign offices to stop processing these claims immediately.

Ira de Silva, London, Ont.

In our own backyard

Good grief. An article on garden tours in your April 22 issue (“Ticket to paradise,” Backpack) and no mention of Victoria, an area famous the world over for its gardens. We are encouraged to visit England, Georgia, the St. Lawrence River cruise, France, Belgium and Scotland but no mention of Canada’s most beautiful gardens, surpassed by none.

Vi Hubay, Kelowna, B. C.

Celtic pride

Glasgow Celtic have been since their inception in 1888 a multi-denominational team, unlike Glasgow Rangers (“Challenging the religious bigots,” Sports, April 29). The Union Jack and St. Andrew’s Cross also fly at Celtic Park, alongside the Irish tricolor, which is there in honor of its founding members. Your article is very slanted against Celtic supporters. How can this be when for more than 100 years the Rangers club never had a Catholic employee in any capacity, let alone the playing staff? I am Protestant in faith and, like untold numbers worldwide, proud of being a “Celtic man.”

Jimmy Steel, Saskatoon

Out of tune

How can Trent Frayne possibly argue against the playing of the national anthem at sports events (“Why play national anthems anyway?” Sports Watch, April 8)? Doesn’t he read the magazine that his column is written in? In a Maclean’s poll (“A quiet passion,” Cover, July 1, 1995), you reported that “nearly nine out of 10 (89 per cent) of all respondents say they feel pride when they see the flag or hear the national anthem.”

Donald P. Mclnnes, Pictou, N.S.

Surely one of the most asinine bits of American culture we have imported is this practice of having a soloist sing the anthem before a game. If we must have them, why not just play a good recorded version on the PA system? It’s hard to take much pride in 0 Canada when it’s being massacred by some rock star.

R. S. McKegney, Toronto

Credit due

The photograph of the woman smoker used to illustrate “Heavy breathing” (Opening Notes, March 11) is my work, not that of video-maker James Walker of Premier Productions who was interviewed in the article. I gladly provided Maclean’s with an interview and the photo, but in the end was given only partial copyright credit.

Edward Luisser, CoherentLight Photography, Oklahoma City, Okla. HI

'How Canadian'

Three cheers for Peter C. Newman. He has put into words what many Canadians are thinking about our American neighbors. Comparing us as Pluto to the Americans’ Mickey Mouse (“Let’s not play Pluto to Mickey Mouse,” The Nation’s Business, April 8) was a perfect analogy of

what happens when the Americans think they can take the upper hand with Canadians. It really galls me to have them tell us what our relationship should be with a foreign country. This is one reason I continue to read Maclean’s—it reminds me of how proud I am to be a Canadian.

Lynn Gibson, Whitehorse

Peter C. Newman’s column is yet another example of the American bashing that has graced the pages of Maclean’s for as long as I have subscribed. I am a Canadian married to an American, living in the United States, and I am sick of reading the same load of self-pitying rhetoric week after week. My husband and I lived in Canada for two years, and I constantly had to justify his nationality while he had to fend off barbs about the racist gun-toting rednecks who are supposedly the sole inhabitants of his country. WTiile living in the United States, no Americans have been hostile towards me, or asked inane questions about Canadian igloos. Instead, they have asked why I would ever want to leave a home as beautiful as Canada. I wouldn’t give up my Canadian citizenship for anything, but I may not be as sentimental about my subscription to Maclean’s.

Wendy French,

Portland, Ore.

As an American who has been reading Maclean’s regularly for several years, I found Peter C. Newman’s column amusing. He describes how “the Americans try to grind down our culture.” We may be grinding down your culture, but I’m not sure how much we are trying. I’m not sure that all 264,663,448 of us really care. Newman apparently thinks that we all missed the circus nature of the O. J. Simpson trial and that we have a monopoly on greed and violence (think about the Westray coal mine and Somalia, Peter). If Canada is the No. 1 place to live, why don’t you show us how it’s done? Instead, you whine about how we do things. How Canadian of you.

Stanley C. Gardiner, Auburn, Ala. HI


That Brian Mulroney equates his present predicament with the predicament of Joseph K. in Franz Kafka’s The Trial is consonant with Mulroney’s characteristic sophistry and odium (“Straight out of Kafka,” Canada, April 29). As prime minister, Mulroney did more to undermine Canada than any politician in our recent history. That he is now suing Canada and Canadians for $50 million is not surprising.

Catherine Wright, Ottawa

While I am no fan of Brian Mulroney, the manner in which the Liberal government and the media have prejudged and handled his case is criminal—it’s enough to forgive the man for half the sins of his nine years in power.

D. M. Schmitt, Waterloo, Ont.

Politics and generals

Until now, I had always believed a person required a law degree, a lust for power and a few votes to give them the Teflon ability to deny wrongdoing. I see now that a general’s leaf can be just as effective (‘What did he know?” Cover, April 15). Now retired after serving with pride for 20 years, I feel shame at seeing the bottom end of the chain of command carry the can, while our so-called leaders run for cover. The loyalty they preach now rings hollow.

Mike Simpson, Comox, B. C. IS

Finding the words

Although constitutional history demands that we recognize that the British North America Act was enacted in 1867 by the then-living English-speaking and French-speaking peoples, anthropology demands that we recognize that the territory we now call Canada was founded first by

the aboriginal people (“One distinct mess for federalists,” Canada, April 29). A win-win solution would involve moving away from the use of comparative words, such as “distinct,” and moving to the use of descriptive words such as : “Quebec is the primary preserver and advocate in Canada of French life, language, culture and customs.”

Peter Drosdowech, Winnipeg

Dialysis discovery

Your article describing a new kind of renal dialysis was of great interest (“A better alternative?” Medicine, April 15). It would, however, have been a golden opportunity to remind Canadians that Toronto physicians pioneered this whole field. The first such machine in the Western Hemisphere was designed and constructed in the basement of a North Toronto home. I was a senior medical student who was invited by my chief, Dr. Gordon Murray, to

assist in this avant garde project. The massive, cumbersome machine required three men to move it. As it was wheeled to the patient's bedside, many patients called it “an invention of the devil.” It was indeed an exciting day in 1945 when a patient in total renal shutdown was subjected to emergency dialysis on Ward F of the Toronto General Hospital. By the fifth day, this desperately ill patient began to rouse. From then on, the recovery was much more dramatic and by the 14th day, her own kidneys began to recover as expected. There was jubilation everywhere on the day she went home to her family.

Dr. Raymond 0. Heimbecker, Collingwood, Ont.

Planning ahead

I write to comment on the letter by William Winegard (“The cost of missing the R and D boat,” The Road Ahead, April 22). Mr. Winegard, former minister of state for

science and technology in the Mulroney government, is quite right when he says that in the past the federal government’s science and technology spending has been a “leaky boat with a good crew but no one at the helm.” The Mulroney government had no comprehensive strategy for its S and T spending and no way to hold the government accountable for results. It is for this reason that our government recently released the S and T strategy—Science and Technology for the New Century. The strategy reinforces the importance of basic research, while focusing on building partnerships among the private sector, academic institutions and government to ensure the rapid application of new knowledge. It puts in place a new governance system for the government’s $5.5-billion annual direct investment and it lays out a clear set of goals and a new system of accountability for results. Science and technology are critical to Canada’s economic prosperity and the Chrétien government, unlike its predecessor, is at the helm.

Jon M. Genard, Secretary of State for Science, Ottawa

'Glum prophecy'

I was 10 years old during the 1968 election campaign of Pierre Trudeau, and one night after listening to one of his speeches, my father turned to me and said: ‘You know what he is doing? He is buying my vote with your future.” Dad went on to explain to me that when I was his age (38 in 1968, which I am now) my taxes would be through the roof, my standard of living would be lower than his was in 1968 and my future and that of my children would be dim because of the extravagant promises being made by Mr. Trudeau. Now, after 28 years plus of drunken-sailor spending by Trudeau and Brian Mulroney, my father’s glum prophesy has pretty much come to pass. Why was this chain of events so obvious to a high-school vice-principal in 1968 and so unexpected to a bunch of high-powered economists in the intervening years?

Peter R. Frise, Kanata, Ont.

Voter madness

Allan Fotheringham ably diagnosed our politicians with the symptoms of madcow disease (“Who says only the cows are mad?” Column, April 15). What he failed to diagnose was the chronic, endemic madcow disease present among the voters who elected these loony politicians.

C. J. West, Crestón, B. C.