The Mail

September 2 1996

The Mail

September 2 1996

The Mail

To be or not to be

Your Aug. 19 cover featured a beautiful photo of what we all once were—a child in the womb (“Beyond abortion”), and the slash read “Life on Mars?” How totally bizarre it is to be excited about possible ancient organisms on Mars and at the same time no longer even need to discuss the need to legally protect living children in the womb here on Earth.

Jane Wright, Chatham, Ont.

Only the fetus’s relationship with the mother is relevant to the abortion issue. In the realm of justice, individual rights delimit personhood, not vice versa. Fortunately, the Supreme Court of Canada recognized this in 1989 by ruling that in a just society a pregnant woman’s individual right to control her own body causes her fetus not to be a person. The anti-choice movement is guilty of putting the cart before the horse with respect to the just correlation between personhood and individual rights.

Charlene Goodman, Shelburne, Ont.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

should be addressed to:

Maclean’s Magazine Letters

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Submissions may appear in Maclean’s electronic sites.

The subhead on your article “Beyond abortion” claims “Advances in science leave an old debate in the dust.” If the old debate to which you refer is whether abortion should be legal, then nothing in your article justifies your subheading. On the contrary, the issues discussed show how inadequate is the claim that fetuses are merely masses of tissue that can be disposed of freely. Advances in science do not leave an old debate in the dust. They move the debate back onto the front burner.

John Tors, North York, Ont.

The article "They deal in death” gives a one-sided, negative impression of the part of Toronto in which I live. The area near Parliament and Gerrard streets is described as “tough, inner-city Toronto.” More accurately, it is an area of great diversity. The street I live on includes among its residents rooming-house tenants, professionals and people ^ employed in the arts. Too many 1 cities have been eviscerated by te the impression that their centres I are too tough for respectable peo¡E pie to frequent. If the purpose of § this description is to depict anti! abortionist Rosemary Connell as a ° heroine for standing at this corner (where I regularly wait for the streetcar) , how much more heroic she would be if she attempted to understand the social problems that create the need for abortions in inner-city Toronto.

Helen Barron, Toronto

I would like to respond to the portrayal of myself and my circumstances in Maclean’s recent article “Beyond abortion.” I must clarify a couple of points. My other children were not “removed from” my “Toronto home by children’s aid officials.” They were given by me into the care of relatives in a specific effort to prevent them becoming the interest of children’s aid officials. I will thank you to retract that statement. Indeed, where I am quoted as saying that enforced entry in treatment programs is a bad idea, the possibility of such removal of children from their mother is a large motivator for women to reject treatment. There is always a fear that once children are surrendered to outside authorities, they will never be returned. This is by itself enough reason to prevent a mother from seeking treatment, but more central an issue for the addict is that the enforced treatment is

Dance and sport

I wish to register my objection to the contents of the article "The tarnish on the dream” (Cover, Aug. 12), which states: “Amid the hype, the commercialism and the absurdities (absurdities that will persist: ballroom dancing might be an official demonstration sport in Sydney), it was hard to find reminders of the Olympic spirit.” The inference that it is absurd to consider sport dance, originally known as ballroom dancing, as an Olympic sport is insulting to the thousands of athletes who are pursuing this sport around the world. I believe that sport dancers must meet conditioning standards as strenuous as many present Olympic athletes, and are willing and capable of upholding the Olympic traditions and examples set by competitors in other sports. I sincerely trust that we will be given the chance of doing so.

K. W. McGrail, President, Canadian Amateur Dancesport Association, Halifax

only a punishment and that once it is completed the urge to return to drug use is huge: both a rebellion against the authority that imposed the punishment and a relief from the pressures and torments that accompanied it. Harmful as drug use is to an unborn fetus, being in the care of a relapsed mother can be terrifying, injurious, even deadly to a child. I am not “firmly opposed to forcing pregnant addicted women into drug treatment to protect their fetuses.” I believe that both fetus and child should be protected as far as it is rationally possible to do so. What I do believe is that it is a dangerous mistake to force treatment upon a person intent on denying their illness. I accepted my illness and sought treatment. I do not have strong opinions about who has rights to what. I am only grateful to have a happy, healthy child, and hopeful that other women in my situation will be as fortunate, both in finding a bene ficial program and in realizing results as joyous as mine have been. I had hoped that the article would aid that process. I pray this letter does.

Venus Carter, Toronto

Ongoing debates

Diane Francis’s latest salvo against francophones (“Ottawa badly out of touch —yet again,” Aug. 19) needs to be put in context. She states that the francophone minority has “more than enough protection for its language and culture.” But

THE MAIL_

British Columbia still refuses to enact a legislative scheme that would give the francophone community control over French education in accordance with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In most provinces, francophone minorities have to fight constantly to see their legal rights heeded by different levels of government. If we are to prevent Canada from breaking up, I think we should start to respect the needs and aspirations of francophones and anglophones wherever they live in Canada.

Diane Côté,

President, La Fédération des francophones de la Colombie-Britannique, Vancouver

Diane Francis exposes the folly of resurrecting Meech Lake, and how appeasement has failed to satisfy separatists. She misplaces the blame for the current predicament, however. Canadian voters elected a Liberal government with a history of promoting “unity at any cost,” and now complain about the government’s willingness to appease Quebec. They have no one to blame but themselves for failing to exercise their freedom of choice.

Jim Davis, Toledo, Ohio

One comment by Stéphane Dion, Canada’s minister of intergovernmental affairs, got my blood boiling—yet again. Distinct society status, he says, is a way for all Canadians “to express solidarity with Quebecers in their effort to preserve a vibrant and dynamic francophone society in an anglophone North America.” If this is such a vibrant and dynamic society, why does the rest of the country have to be legislated to preserve it? If we have bona fide culture in this country—of whatever persuasion— why do we have to legislate it or fund it? If it can only be preserved by legislation, is it really viable after all? Where does common sense come into play? It certainly doesn’t appear to be in evidence in those governing this democracy. I fear for Canadians’ sanity.

Susan Nelligan, Woodstock, Ont.

à I1H‘ Road Ahead

Educate employers, not the young

Why are there so many unemployed young people in Canada? As an educator, I have some ideas about that, and some suggestions for a remedy.

Young people from kindergarten onwards are told by their educators: “You can do whatever you wish. It’s all in your mind.” “You are unique." “Play and learn.” “Aim high and you will reach high.” Are we educators really qualified to prepare children for their futures in the working world?

Few of us have entered the world of business. We stay in the neverland of classrooms, where we teach from books and not reality. No wonder our students gaze out of the windows as we expound the mysteries of algebra, history or, in my case, French (in an area where no one understands French).

We don’t tell them that out there in the real world of hard-core business you cannot do whatever you wish, you cannot foul-mouth or cheat your boss, and no one really cares about your uniqueness—or believes in the formula “Play and work.” No wonder these poor young people cannot find a job in the real world, where one must clean floors and bathrooms for

Marie Sadro,

Vancouver

the customers, where one must obey the boss to the letter, where one cannot cheat at the cash register, where one cannot skip at will, where no one cares if you are having fun. Poor young men and women!

And now our government wants to put them into more courses before qualifying them for an unemployment cheque. Dear government, take a word of advice from an experienced educator of the young. Don’t give more courses to the young! Give course to the bosses, the employers, so that they can help these young people weather the shock of reality. Let’s go back to the old concept of apprentices and masters rather than throw these “adult” babies into a pool where they cannot swim.

The government should make it an obligation (through taxation or other means) for employers to take on and guide apprentices for two or more years. That would permit young people to adjust to the stress, responsibilities and accountability of the working world. It is only by exposing young people to reality that we will help them to become functional and self-sufficient. And this reality can only be provided on the job by an “educated” employer—not by a fatherly government.

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.

'Brainwashed'

It was with stunned amazement that I read the Aug. 12 edition of The Road Ahead (“A model for sovereignty-association”). George Primak argues that the recent agreement between Russia and Belarus can somehow be a model for a Quebec-Canada union. Does Mr. Primak not realize that what he proposes is exactly what Quebec sovereigntists want: two independent nations with a common cur-

rency, co-ordinated economic policy and open borders. This is in no way a compromise. It accommodates sovereigntists only. Mr. Primak writes in a manner that suggests he cares about Canada and its future. However, he is a sovereigntist without realizing it. It seems that separatist politicians have not only successfully brainwashed their own supporters, but they have also done so to federalists.

Shawn Forrest, Roxboro, Que.