TheMail

TheMail

August 19 1996
TheMail

TheMail

August 19 1996

TheMail

Canadian pride

Congratulations on the outstanding coverage and reporting of the Centennial Olympic Games. Unlike that of our companions south of the border, Canadian media coverage was thorough, unbiased and classy. In an Olympics marred by problems and commercialism, you elevated the athletes and their families to the heights of distinction they deserved. With respect to both the journalism and the athletics, I have never been a prouder Canadian.

Now that the Olympics are over, the question remains: how well did Canada do? A record for non-boycotted Games in terms of medal wins, and eleventh out of 79 countries that won medals sounds pretty good. It is of note that eight of the countries that did better have larger populations and thus a larger pool from which to find world-

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

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class athletes. On a per capita basis, the best performances came from Tonga, the Bahamas and Jamaica. Cuba finishes fourth and Australia fifth. Canada drops to 23rd, but the only country larger than Canada to do better is Germany, at 22nd. The mighty United States falls to 33rd place. How well did Canada do? It is after all a matter of point of view.

William R. Horne, Prince George, B. C.

'Computer

intelligence'

Microsoft Corp.’s Bill Gates, as the computer genius of this decade, is turning the world around, but Allan Fotheringham seems still to be having trouble with his computer intelligence, and in his fright and shallowness can only hit back with a petty and very dated assessment (“At the feet of the master of the universe,” Aug. 5). Foth refers to “a language so obscure it could be Greek or Chinese.” Wake up to the new world, Foth. It is obviously passing you by.

Ann Falkner, Ottawa

He won, but why?

Thank you for helping the average Canadian understand Boris Yeltsin’s recent election victory (‘Why Yeltsin’s victory was inevitable,” Barbara Amiel, July 15). I have had the opportunity to spend some time in Russia and Ukraine before and after the fall of communism. Often living with the people in their homes, I personally witnessed the frustrations of the former Communist elite who, without their former perks, deeply desire the return of the old regime. Barbara Amiel, in clearly laying out the basics of Russian political thinking, has enabled people in the West to focus on reality. I only hope our government officials and diplomats are as insightful as they negotiate with Yeltsin and support the dawn of democracy in Russia.

Rev. William Ney, Stony Plain, Alta.

Barbara Amiel’s commentary on why Russian President Boris Yeltsin’s victory “was inevitable” is one of the most

J. Eric Seines, Oakville, Ont.

Sympathy and hate

What a sympathetic analysis of Canadians’ togetherness in times of natural crisis, regarding the flooding in Quebec (“Tested by tribulation,” From The Editor, Aug. 5). And what visceral hate and smallness in the same issue about Quebecor Inc.’s Pierre Péladeau ("Péladeau’s power play,” Business). The workaholic publishing tycoon has achieved success by abiding by two credos: give the customer what he wants; and KISS (for Keep it simple stupid). The latter is his insistence in getting and reading halfpage résumés of all his dossiers. In short, he is essentially a shrewd, pragmatic businessman who successfully manages a publishing empire started from scratch. So why belittle him about his past personal and family affairs? Would it be because a nationalist French descendant cannot be accepted in our Canadian Establishment?

Paul X. Laberge, Charlevoix, Que.

pompously self-congratulatory pieces I have ever read. Apparently Amiel believes that the entire Western World could not quite grasp what she knew all along, and she distrusts experts who know only the facts. She will not allow mere facts to interfere with her own assumptions. Like Amiel, the experts have read Tolstoy, Pushkin, Turgenev and others. Unfortunately, 19th-century writers provide few real insights into Russia of the 1990s. Most of us predicted that Yeltsin would win, but for different reasons than those offered so glibly by Amiel.

J. L. Black,

Director, Centre for Research on CanadianRussian Relations, Carleton University, Ottawa

Teamwork

The CIBC-Scotiabank strategic alliance will save on infrastructure cost, and will not lead to large-scale layoffs as reported in your Aug. 5 issue (“Banks team up,” Business Notes). In fact, the alliance will have minimal impact on employment in the near term.

Heather Whyte, Director, National Media Relations, CIBC, Shelley Jourard, Manager, Public Affairs, Scotiabank, Toronto

THE MAIL_

Shallow pursuits

It is often pointed out that North American society fails to take adequate care of its elderly population. The cover article “The body builders” (July 8), about cosmetic surgery, casts a new light on this conception, albeit unwittingly. The obscene growth in the number of people willing to go to any lengths to preserve a beauty clearly and narrowly defined as youthfulness shows how much our society has suffered from a collective failure to acknowledge the dignity of age. Perhaps if, as in many other cultures, North American society boasted homes in which lived family members of all ages, we could aspire to create a society that was in fact, as well as in conception, egalitarian. Instead, the pursuit of eternal youth makes a mockery of a society claiming to value hard work and personal merit above caste and creed.

Jill Macdonald, Colombo, Sri Lanka

In a very American way, you stated that Dr. Lloyd Carlsen of Woodbridge, Ont., operates “the only cosmetic surgery hospital in North America.” Not really so. In Montreal, the Centre Métropolitain de Chirurgie Plastique is a 20-bed, three-operating-room hospital, created in 1973, dedicated to cosmetic surgery. So, there are at least two

cosmetic surgery hospitals, unless, of course, someone considers Quebec as not being part of North America.

Dr. Charles Robert Taché, Directeur général, Centre Métropolitain de Chirurgie Plastique Inc., Montreal

As I was reading, at first horrified, then amused, your report on people judging their worth by lines, sizes and shapes, one phrase kept coming to my mind: cogito ergo sum (I think, therefore I am). Maybe one day, those among us who are so inclined shall be able to take advantage of brain enlargement operations.

Roberto Pavesio, Banff, Alta.

Second debut

You say Ashley Maclsaac’s fans have bought almost 200,000 copies of his 1995 debut CD, Hi, How Are You Today? (“Maclsaac’s fancy footwork,” People, July 29). What about those of us who bought his 1992 debut traditional recording, Close to the Floor? He may have debuted his “brightly dyed cropped hair” in 1995, but his fans have been around much longer.

Terry Whitmell, Mississauga, Ont.

'The Jacob affair'

As a navy veteran of the Second World War, I have followed, with more than just casual interest, the fallout from the outrageous communiqué of MP Jean-Marc Jacob, sent to francophone members of Canada’s military preceding the Quebec referendum last October, about which Diane Francis writes in her column in your July 22 issue (“Political correctness and the Jacob affair”). Thank you for this exposé. Canadians, including all people in Quebec, should be made aware of this situation. The allegation of treasonous and seditious behavior by Jacob is a serious matter. It was not dealt with appropriately. The desire of members of the House of Commons standing committee on procedure and house affairs to protect their own hides and their party is shameful. To whom do they pledge allegiance when they are sworn in as MPs? During wartime, getting five days in the slammer to pick oakum was not uncommon punishment for failing to salute an officer on the other side of the street. Traitors were court-martialled. Jacob deserves no less.

Dave J. Anderson, Victoria

As a retired francophone military officer and pilot who spent more than 26 years in the Canadian air force, I felt deep sadness as I read Diane Francis’s column. Readers

may pay little attention to her comment that a separatist ideology exists within the military, but it is true and very disturbing. In return for expensive flying training paid for by Canadian taxpayers, and a challenging and satisfying career, I felt absolutely obligated to repay my debt to my country by supporting and defending my employer, the government of Canada. Most regrettably, the total absence of military and political leadership has destroyed the military ethos to the point where, among some francophone military officers, support for separation became open, unequivocal and unquestioned. Disloyalty to Canada has become an accepted way of life within this privileged community. While I agree wholeheartedly with Francis’s comment to eradicate the separatist element within the military, it will never happen—because of military inertia, political appeasement and public apathy. And the taxpayer suffers. Bravo, Diane, go get ’em.

Retired major Marc Simard, Winnipeg

I subscribed to Maclean’s to understand English Canada better. I want Quebec to remain part of Canada. In fact, I was president of the No committee in my riding in the last referendum. Unfortunately, the mad ravings of columnists like Diane Francis may accomplish what 30 years of Parti Québécois propaganda failed to do: convince me that there is no place for

Quebec in Canada. The last straw was Francis’s column on the Jacob affair. Suggesting a witch-hunt in the armed forces and “bouncing out of Parliament” a duly elected MP (even if you don’t share his views) is sick, undemocratic and fascist. If the views of such columnists are representative of English Canada, the country does not stand a chance.

Pierre Dallaire, Hull, Que.

Hold your horses

Your article “Sex and the modern athlete” (Cover, July 22) contains the sentence: “And then after they’ve competed, it’s like, woah, throw caution to the wind.” Woah? Is this a new word Canada’s Weekly Newsmagazine is introducing to the English language? Or perhaps it’s a misspelling of the word “whoa”—after all, short words can be tricky to spel.

Charles Crockford, Waterloo, Ont.

New hope

Thank you, Peter C. Newman. Your column “Pier 21: the place where we became Canadians” was your most inspiring (The Nation’s Business, July 22)—a very great tribute to “boat people,” including my

parents who arrived in 1910. It was also a most propitious column in this era of postreferendum trauma to give us hope for a united Canada in the future.

Donald E. Hunter, White Rock, B. C.

Not amusing

The actions of the United States, and in particular the vitriolic rantings of Senator Jesse Helms, over Canadian business interests in Cuba, would almost be humorous were they not so tragic for the Cuban people (“Cross-border ban over Cuban investment,” Business Notes, July 22). No one denies that the dictatorship of Fidel Castro must end. But that the United States, whose illegitimate embargo and decades-long Cold War with Cuba have in fact helped sustain Castro, should attempt to dictate to any other nation how to conduct business is the ultimate in hypocrisy, not to mention contrary to the spirit and word of international law. Were the bigoted, McCarthyist ravings of Helms to fall upon deaf ears, they would be amusing. But in an election year, they carry weight all out of proportion to their merit. I fear the Canadian government, in its infinite desire to never take a stand lest it offend a business partner, will talk much, but do little.

James R. Diaz, Ottawa

THE MAIL_

Many-sided story

Bravo. “Banker, Tiger, soldier, spy” (Special Report, Aug. 5) is an incredible story that bares Canada’s foolishness in adopting Sri Lanka’s separatist Tamil terrorists as conventional refugees. It has been no secret since the mid-1980s that Tamil terrorists have been funding their war for a separate state, Eelam, with millions of Canadian dollars collected through extortion, narcotics trafficking, refugee smuggling and forged passports. This Tamil story is unsettling. It is time that the Canadian government closed the barn door on these terrorists and showed some gumption and accountability to save Canada’s innocence, civic sense and the liberties of our democracy.

Asoka Weerasinghe, Gloucester, Ont.

I find it offensive that Maclean’s magazine has chosen to do a series of articles targeting Sri Lankan Tamils in Canada. In the spring of 1995,1 travelled in Sri Lanka and went to war-torn regions of that country. I found women who had legs blown off by land mines after soldiers forced them to carry their children through mine fields; teenage children with their eyes burned by kerosene during interrogations; the family of a mother who was killed when she asked the police about her detained son. For the average Tamil living in a region the security forces operate in, fear of arbitrary and irrational violence is a daily routine. Many Tamils would prefer a more democratic alternative to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. But historically, the government has reacted violently to moderate demands made by Tamils. To say that they would all prefer to have a nonviolent government is to understand a normal desire all people have to live without fear.

Raoul Boulakia, Toronto

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have recruited some shady characters living in the murky field of intelligence gath-

ering and crime. Based on information that those people have provided, the police are painting a picture of Sri Lankans living in this country as guerrillas engaging in criminal activities. By publishing this highly inflammatory Special Report, you have aided

in alienating the Sri Lankan Tamil population in Canada from the mainstream of society by presenting them as guerrillas, terrorists and criminals.

Prapaharan Thambithurai Vancouver