July 15 1996


July 15 1996


Volunteer spirit

With all the negative things going on, your cover story “Local heroes” (July 1) was great reading. Many people are involved in the community and their stories need to be told.

Irv Wilson, London, Ont.

Your “Local heroes” articles were a timely contribution to the national discussion of options in the current austerity, presenting proof (if any was needed) of the importance of individual volunteer efforts. For the past year, we have been facilitating these efforts for the millions of Canadians who now find much of their information in cyberspace. CharityVillage has maintained an on-line, Canada-wide, volunteer bulletin

board ( cvhome.html) in co-operation with volunteer centres in major cities. This service, which allows users to browse hundreds of volunteer opportunities on-line, is updated weekly. Users tell us that they appreci-


should be addressed to:

Maclean’s Magazine Letters 777 Bay St.,Toronto, Ont. M5W IA7 Fax:(416) 596-7730 ® E-mail:

or: 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.

ate the opportunity to match their skills and interests with the needs of charitable organizations.

Doug Jamieson, Webmaster, CharityVillage, Toronto ®

Biagio Vinci, restaurateur to the homeless; New Dawn Enterprises, a community economic development corporation; and StreetCity, a village for the chronically homeless; so many “local heroes.” Ah, Canada, thou dost live still.

Thomas P. Burke, Osaka, Japan ®

Your July 1 editorial, “Making a difference,” celebrating “people trying to pull together for the common good” continues your insidious polarization of community and government. You say people “long ago stopped looking to governments to solve their problems,” but what about medicare, employment insurance, education, etc., all examples of how the community, through government, solves some very basic problems of modern living. The constant media attack on government and politics per se constitutes one of the gravest threats to democracy in this century.

Richard Allen, Hamilton

I Too much TV

I TV /f a clean’s recently headlined s 1VX stories on the growing use s of Ritalin (“The ADD dilemma,” Life, March 11) and the ill effects of excessive TV watching on the young (“Toxic TV,” Cover, June 17). Is it possible there is a link between these two phenomena? Surely we should not be surprised that very early exposure to television, with its thrill-a-minute excitement and ever-changing pictures might ill-prepare a child for the relative stagnation of the classroom. Is anyone researching whether there is a direct correlation between the increase in the number of children with attention deficit disorder and the consequent use of Ritalin, and early television exposure in these children?

Philippa Borgal, Ottawa

Isn’t it just like us to look for easy answers and a quick fix? Our kids aren’t reading enough, they’re watching too much TV,

Staging the Merchant

Clifford Leach—one of the late, great English professors at the University of Toronto—once said to me: “Never assume that Shakespeare is any less sensitive than you are yourself.” A warning not always heeded when The Merchant of Venice is taught or produced. But Marti Maraden, director of this year’s Stratford production of the Merchant, mightily deserves the applause she is getting for a fine production that sensitively explores the issue of bigotry, and openly displays the money hunger of the so-called gentlemen of the play (“Wrestling with bigotry,” Theatre, June 17). High-school teachers can continue the work of Stratford’s Merchant and help undo the harmful lessons in bigotry that children learn in the street and from traditional interpretations of the play.

Ada Craniford, Etobicoke, Ont.

youth violence is on the rise. Who, or what, is to blame? It must be—TV! Surely it can’t be the parents’ responsibility to monitor what kids are watching; surely it can’t be the parents’ responsibility to teach kids the difference between right and wrong. So what to do about it? No problem, just get a V-chip, sit back, relax, and let the TV worry about what the kids are watching.

Ian Sutherland, Lethbridge, Alta.

Compared with the action and color and sound of any TV show—even the educational shows—the classroom is a very boring, static place. Kids now want their teachers to entertain them just like the TV does, and when that doesn’t happen they tune out. So the problem just isn’t with the violence and antisocial behavior the children see on the TV, it’s the medium itself that is the problem.

Mel Bohn, Omaha, Neb.

Speaking out

I read with interest your interview with Gulf Canada Resources Ltd. CEO J. P. Bryan (“A Texas-style response to the unity question,” Business, June 24), and it brings to mind the absence of any similar comments from the head of other corporations in Canada challenging the Parti Québécois and their attempts to destabilize my country and steal their own. However much I like Mr. Bryan’s thinking and his willingness to voice his thoughts, there


are four things wrong with his having said what he did: he’s an American, representing to Quebecers a western Canadian attitude, speaking in English and providing yet another flag-burning-type grief for the cause of the separatists in this province. But if the Liberal government in Ottawa doesn’t have the guts to speak out as has Mr. Bryan, why should other business leaders stand in its place? And if everyone leaves the task for somebody, then nobody will do anything and we will continue to languish in a sea of uncertainty and stress.

Alan G. Seager, Beaconsfield, Que.

I have three small words for J. P. Bryan: “Yankee, go home.”

J. F. Conway, Regina

Black apologists

It’s interesting to see George Bain add his name to the growing number of veteran journalists who see the coming reign of Conrad Black over much of our printed thoughts as benign, even mildly positive (“Conrad Black and the benefit of the doubt,” Media Watch, June 24). I have often considered the Canadian media to be subservient and unimaginative, but this growing “Black list” of apologizers surprises even the most unimpressed media watcher. Bain and others are going to great lengths to blame the flaccid state of our print media on the writers themselves, rather than on those who create the venue and ambience in which they toil. The argument being, in Bain’s case, that media owners such as Black would have to be “nuts” to destroy their own product. Has Bain read Black’s Saturday Night recently? It veers between the tediously predictable and obnoxiously sensational—and has become increasingly irrelevant to most people’s lives. Is this because Canadian journalists with any creativity and insight (sometimes found in former incarnations of Saturday Night) have suddenly lost their

talent, their drive? I don’t think so. Perhaps the saddest result of Black’s heavy-handed influence is that I and many Canadians looking for stimulation and diversity— or just a good read—are turning to the more liberal U.S. magazines. Thank God free-market competition continues to exist somewhere.

Kathleen O’Hara, Ottawa

Bain on Conrad Black is a weak defence of the indefensible. We need a new approach to newspaper publishing. The banks that now finance the Black tide should support

employee ownership and control. That form of ownership would make the media accountable to their communities rather than Black with his right-wing, bottomline values.

Vaughan Lyon, Peterborough, Ont.

Centennial memories

I was moved by the letter from Katherine Allen of Ottawa and her memories of the 1,000-voice choir of students from the Ottawa Public School Board, which cele-

brated the Centennial here in 1967 (“Let the songs of Canada be heard,” The Road Ahead, June 24). Her description of the red capes as part of the Maple Leaf in the Canadian flag led me to suspect that she speaks of the event realized by the late John Gunn Sutherland, then supervisor of music at the board. I was a newly appointed music consultant, and given the job of figuring out where people wearing the red capes should sit. The Christmas vacation was spent tearing bolts of red material into the proper-sized pieces, which would then be assigned to our various home economics departments for the finishing touches. The seating plan of the auditorium was transferred to a large sheet of cardboard and the planning began. Can you imagine the excitement of the first rehearsal when the red capes were assigned to the children in those seats? To my amazement, it worked. Thank you Ms. Allen for remembering this experience. It was special for us, too.

Barbara Clark, Ottawa

Most expensive city?

Perhaps it is Peter C. Newman who has caught mad cow disease, and not British Prime Minister John Major, as he suggests in his rambling and inaccurate tirade against Britain (“Has Major caught mad cow disease?” The Nation’s Business, June 24). There is no place called Hockney Heath in England, and the M42 circles Birmingham, going nowhere near London. But calling London the “world’s most expensive city,” based on a $7 meal, is a bit more significant. Try Tokyo, or a city in Germany, or any town in Switzerland, where a good rule of thumb is that you can either eat or stay in a hotel, but not both. As for Britain’s social and economic distress, its low inflation rate, unemployment at around six per cent and superb public services come to mind. The $7 cost of Newman’s bowl of soup has much more to say about the value of the Canadian dollar than the cost of a pub lunch in England.

Marilyn Baker, Richmond, B. C.


In the mainstream

Your recent article about Olympic hopefuls (“Carrying the torch,” Olympics, May 13) was inspiring in its portrayal of Canadian athletes, most notably those seeking to participate in the Paralympics in Atlanta. The stories of blind lawn bowler Peggy Casey and swimmer Tony Alexander, who has cerebral palsy, are tales of courage and perseverance beyond those of typical athletes. Their stories express triumph not only in the sports arena, but in the face of adversity in their lives. The fact that Maclean’s tells their stories in the midst of those of able-bodied athletes must be commended, for it recognizes the victory of these athletes in their fight for recognition by the mainstream of society. As a parent of a child with disabilities, I can confirm that these athletes serve as models of success and as beacons of hope for others.

Rabbi Geoffrey J. Haber, Calgary

Pre-revolutionary beer

In your article “No small beer” (Business, June 17), you claimed Bacardi Ltd. was using a marketing gimmick, i.e. “resurrecting a beer it says it produced in pre-Castro Cuba” to lure beer drinkers. I take exception to the inference that our claim is at best suspect, and at worst untrue. The beer in question is Hatuey, and prior to Castro’s revolution it had a 50-percent share of the Cuban beer market. The brew master, Eduardo McCormick, wrote down the formula for Hatuey and managed to escape from Cuba with it and his family days after Castro confiscated the

rum plants and breweries. Today, Hatuey is brewed in Baltimore using the very same formula that Mr. McCormick spirited out of Cuba more than 35 years ago.

James C. McLarnon, Assistant vice-president, marketing, Bacardi-Martini Canada Inc., Brampton, Ont.

Liberal conservatives

Conservatism’s future, according to Peter C. Newman, apparently lies in liberalism (“A positive view of conservatism’s future,” The Nation’s Business, May 27). Isn’t it odd that while most Canadians believe in old-fashioned virtues like optimism, charity, enterprise, moderation and justice, the approved politics focuses on race, fairness, regulation, deviant lifestyles, and avoidance of accountability. A truly conservative leader with a spine of steel would win the votes, the gratitude and the love of ordinary Canadians.

Eric Doll, Kitwanga, B. C.

Majority rules

Diane Francis’s view of history suffers from selective memory. When British Columbia elects a socialist government, she goes on ad nauseum about our failed political system because the results did not reflect the majority’s wishes (“The Winds of Change are gaining velocity,” June 17). I do not recall her ranting on about a failed political system when the same result happened with the Conservative party under Brian Mulroney over the Free Trade Agreement. My recollection was that she was quite enthusiastic about the results.

Aldo Violo, Etobicoke, Ont.

Thanks to volunteers

I am very grateful to those volunteer readers who read Maclean’s onto cassette for the blind. Having the magazine on tape gives us the feeling that we’re not so isolated from the reading public.

Bruce Atchison, Edmonton HI

Responsible students

I enjoyed your positive coverage of our schools and the serious problems that today’s students are facing (“Brave new schools,” Cover, May 20). It was refreshing to read about the responsibility students are taking upon themselves to collaborate and support one another.

Sue Ball, Toronto

THE MAIL Revising history

In the June 10 Road Ahead (“Exorcising national fairy tales”), Frank MacKinnon states his intent to denounce some socalled fairy tales of Canadian politics as a step towards a solution to Canada’s problems, but unfortunately he sounded as if he was denouncing francophones. He states that Huguenots were discriminated against in Quebec, but forgets to mention that Franco-Ontarians, among other francophone groups, were denied French schools not so long ago. He then goes on to call the Acadian deportation a simple exodus, which is quite an understatement. If Mr. MacKinnon is really intent on finding solutions for Canada, maybe he should stop having such a one-sided view of the country.

Marie-Josée Potvin, Kingston, Ont. Ill

As one who counts among his ancestors early francophone and early anglophone settlers, I want to know what Frank MacKinnon is implying by saying those first here were merely economic exploiters and “the real pioneers came much later.” It is only a thoroughly colonial mentality that would seek to downgrade our own founders and our own history in favor of the latest fashion or culture from overseas.

Stephen K. Roney, Ch’onan, South Korea

Letters from Brian Peters and Bernard D’Eon in the June 24 issue of Maclean’s (“ ‘Learning the lessons’ ”) have questioned my account of the exodus of the Acadians. The plight of the Acadians is misunderstood because their own mistakes have been forgotten, especially the mischief of one of Canada’s leading villains, Abbé JeanLouis LeLoutre. Historians, says the Canadian Encyclopedia, have regarded LeLoutre as a “political agent for France” and as a “consummate missionary using every means to keep French-Catholic Acadians from British-Protestant domination.” What was an encouraged exodus urged by LeLoutre and his followers is unfortunately touted as an expulsion. The sequel is seldom mentioned—the displaced Acadians were allowed to return in 1764 after the war ended. This was a privilege denied to the Huguenot French-Canadian Protestants of Quebec in 1685, who were victims of Canada’s real expulsion. If facts and ideas of Canadian history were frankly and publicly discussed, and told in schools, we would not now, in the words of letter writers, be motivated by the “darker moments” or “the pain of our ancestors.” Our history will give us much pride and inspiration if we give it a chance.

Frank MacKinnon, Emeritus professor, University of Calgary,