The Mail

The Mail

May 27 1996
The Mail

The Mail

May 27 1996

The Mail

'Empty promises'

This is yet another example of the blatant contempt our governing elite show for the taxpayers of this country (“The Sheila syndrome,” Cover, May 13). This blip on former deputy prime minister Sheila Copps’s résumé is costing the Canadian public hundreds of thousands of hard-to-find dollars. It’s another example of a system that does not work for anyone but the politicians. I am calling on the Commons to pass a law prohibiting anyone who resigns as a member of Parliament for breach of promise or trust from running again. Then they will have something to lose for their loose lips and empty promises that the rest of us end up paying for.

Lloyd S. Clark, Surrey, B.C.

What an unseemly fuss you make over Sheila Copps’s failure to keep a promise. Let he or she who has always kept a promise stand up, be recognized and receive a saintly crown.

George A. Wallace, Cobden, Ont.


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Like the pols they are, methinks that Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and Sheila Copps are trying to fool Canadians into thinking she has resigned. At a cost of a half-million dollars to the taxpayer, she is simply taking a break from the heat in Ottawa and going home for a six-week love-in with the voters of Hamilton East.

R. D. Fry, Marathon, Ont.

Too many people are trying to keep a game of “dog pile on Sheila” going right now. In the mean-spiritedness of this game, the meaning of the words “public service” seem to be forgotten. We ought to be grateful that people with energy, spirit and ability will take public office. Moreover, we ought to take heart that some of these people are like Sheila Copps, who won’t go away without a good fight.

Bill Angus, Port Coquitlam, B. C. HI

The voter would have us believe that the solution to these unkept promises is to make politicians accountable for those promises. The solution I am proposing is a new political movement of voters who will write their politicians the following: “We, the undersigned, admit we are a great deal responsible for the expensive promises you have made. Therefore, for the sake of future generations, we unequivocally absolve you of any requirement to keep your election promises. Furthermore, should you insist on

keeping more than 60 per cent of your promises, we will demand your immediate resignation.”

Rev. G. W Mitchinson, Victoria HI

Would Reform MP Bob Ringma, a retired major-general, have sent a black soldier to the back of the platoon as he was advancing on an enemy position (“Spilling political blood,” Canada, May 13)?

Daniel R. McLaren, Prince George, B. C.

General trust

The voracity of the holier-than-thou media never ceases to amaze. If you think Gen. Jean Boyle is a liar, then why don’t you say so (“Who are they trying to fool?” From the Editor, April 15)? Back in the ear-

Troubled waters

I followed with interest your articles detailing the dismantling of the Pacific fisheries (“A dark day for the B.C. fishing industry,” Canada Notes, April 8). Some years ago, I owned and operated a trailer. Now, I cruise the coastline for pleasure. I would have to say that Ottawa has had no discernible policy regarding the B.C. fishery, unless you can call preferential treatment to the large packers who operate the seiners a policy. By making licences unaffordable, thereby devaluing boats and shrinking the independent fleet, Ottawa is unwittingly backing up the big operators at the cost of coastal communities and jobs in all sectors. When you hear horror stories about entire clam beds being (illegally) harvested for foreign markets, and when you sit in coastal restaurants beside tables of seiner crews joking about wiping out entire schools of salmon in restricted or even forbidden runs, then you have to wonder about the federal government’s ability to manage and patrol what is, after all, a regional industry. Ottawa is, as usual, too far away to listen.

Barney Taylor, San Jose del Cabo, Mexico

ly 1980s, when Boyle was my squadron commander, a classified document went missing. In an effort to find the file, Boyle gathered his officers and told us that, since he was fairly certain he hadn’t lost or misplaced it, perhaps someone else had. He also said that he was prepared to accept responsibility for one of his subordinates having misplaced the document, but as for acting inappropriately himself—no way. His point was that someone has caused us a great deal of trouble, there will be no names taken, but let’s find the document if we can. Boyle taught me something that day that you would be wise to consider. Leadership and responsibility are not always about being the appointed fall guy. They can sometimes mean picking up the pieces when others have screwed up. With regard to the Somalia affair, I suspect this is exactly what the chief of the defence staff is trying to do: to apply the lessons of this sordid affair and move on. I believe in the chief, not only because I am fortunate to know enough of his character, but also because I know that to be appointed chief of defence you have to repeatedly prove that you deserve that trust. Were you a bit more objective in your analysis, the citizens of this nation might come to this same conclusion.

Maj. M. J. Prudhomme, Fairfax, Va. HI

Royal blues

As a devout republican, I saw the headline on the April 22 issue (‘The last Queen?”) and thought: thank God, Canada has finally grasped real democracy. To my disappointment, the story did not reveal anything we colonial subjects did not know—that is, the institution of the monarchy has outlived its usefulness and has no functional purpose in a modern democracy. The question we must ask is: do we have enough confidence in ourselves to enter the 21st century as Canadians, or are we content to pay homage as second-class British subjects, as the rest of the world passes us by in real, democratic political change?

Andrew D. Kavanagh,

I want to thank you for the wonderful cover story on the monarchy. Queen Elizabeth II has been a symbol of Canadian unity for more

than 40 years now, and I don’t believe any politician could do the job of head of state half as well. The monarchy has survived far worse than the Princess of Wales and the Duchess of York, and will no doubt survive its current problems.

Mark E. Dunn, Knoxville, Tenn. SI

It is time we all stood up for our Queen: she long ago proved herself. As far as her family goes, she lets them make decisions for themselves. As a mother of three, we can only pray our children will grow up and be responsible for the decisions they make. It is not an easy task—to raise a family and work full time.

Ethel Douglas, Nipigon, Ont.

Finally, an article expressing the growing doubts about the royals. The hapless Brits have saddled themselves with these parasites at a staggering cost. This is England’s problem, however, and shouldn’t be ours.

Wayne Langton, Victoria

Prison reform

I have worked in rehabilitation in a detention centre and have read Justice Louise Arbour’s report; your April 15 article was excellent (“The prison system: ‘Cruel and degrading,’ ” Canada/Special Report). I would suggest that one way to start the healing process would be to ask the inmates to give the names of the guards whoA

treat them well, instead of asking them to point accusing fingers at guards who may have broken the law. The good guards— and I stress that I met many excellent professional correctional officers—could be asked to explain their philosophy, develop a strategy for workshops and try to re-educate the rest of the guards. Finally, the public needs to understand that the punishment is, first, being taken out of society and away from one’s daily life and family, and second, the loss of reputation and the record of a conviction, which can translate into never again being able to

hold a job. We don’t have to be cruel. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

Ghislaine Dean, Burlington, Ont. Ill

The flip side


hile pondering how the Liberals’ GST betrayal might impinge on their electoral fortunes, Bob Lewis states that “voters tend to have short memories” (“An old Liberal tradition,” From the Editor, May 6), but then he suggests

that the reason that Pierre Trudeau lost the 1979 election was his flip-flop on wageand-price controls. If that is the reason, then it is an injustice to voters to say that they have short memories: Trudeau’s celebrated flip-flop occurred in 1975. I would hardly call the intervening period short.

David Moffat, Gloucester, Ont.

The last word

Herman Rempel writes in the April 29 issue about the “Is God a woman?” cover (The Mail, April 8) that “I wish Maclean’s would give as much space to defend my God as they gave the female activists.” Personally, I have never been able to understand why an omniscient and omnipresent God cannot defend herself.

Ed Gilbert, Barrie, Ont.

Cheese it, the cops

No Canadian has died from eating rawmilk cheese (“Mightily cheesed off,” life, April 29). Thousands have died from smoking, but it is still legal. Perhaps Health Canada should take their cue from federal and municipal smoking regulations—a warning on the package, no eating rawmilk cheeses in federal buildings, and restaurants must reserve 50 per cent their space for non-raw-milk cheese eaters.

John Zandbergen, Kanata, Ont.

Equal treatment

Here we go, again. Another full-page story on how anglophones in Quebec must fight for their rights. Seems like every other week an article appears in Maclean’s telling us how bad the English community is being treated in Quebec (“ We’re ready to fight,’ ’’Canada, May 13). Yet year after year, the commissioner of official languages tells us another story in his annual reports. If Maclean’s wishes to remain a trusted and respected national magazine, should it not be more evenhanded by telling us how the French minorities are being treated in the rest of the country? And one wonders why Quebecers want to separate.

Pierre Davis, Azilda, Ont.

'Such a bitter peace'

Barbara Amiel mimics the Israeli right in her disinformation diatribe concerning the Palestine Liberation Organization and the changing of its infamous charter (“How the facts can contradict the story,” Column, May 13). The facts are quite clear. Those clauses that called for the destruction of Israel are now null and void, case closed. Yes, the Palestinian National Council will be drafting a new charter, but surely this is only obvious since the previous charter has been so dramatically stripped down. Sometimes, one has to take yes for an answer and get on with the difficult negotiations ahead.

Simon Rosenblum, National co-president, Canadian Friends of Peace Now, Thornhill, Ont.

Why must Barbara Amiel persist in her one-woman vendetta against Middle East peace? She acknowledges that the prime minister of Israel and “every major newspaper” have hailed the moderation of the PLO charter as a major concession towards peace. She might have added the President of the United States and the Prime Minister

of Canada as well. But Amiel knows better. The peace terms will be painful for the Palestinians, who seem likely to end up with less than six per cent of the country they owned at the beginning of the century. Why cannot Amiel recognize, as has Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, that Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat is risking his life by leading his people towards such a bitter peace?

Peyton Lyon, Ottawa

I would like to commend Barbara Amiel for being fair, accurate and asking a lot of relevant questions about the Middle East peace process. Western media reports are so one-sided, so sensational and so full of unfair indictment of Israel that the danger

to the nation of Israel could be tremendous. When a lie is repeated many times, people will believe it.

W. K. Yau, Scarborough, Ont. HI

Death of a hero

I was very disappointed that you barely mentioned the passing away of Gen. Jean Allard (Passages, May 6), the first francophone chief of the defence staff. To FrenchCanadians, he is revered as a war hero and as a pioneer of French-language rights within the armed forces. Better make it “English Canada’s weekly newsmagazine.”

Stephane Bruneau, Gloucester, Ont.