The Mail

January 13 1997

The Mail

January 13 1997

The Mail

The future is now

I read with interest your year-end issue (“Canada in 2005,” Cover, Dec. 30, 1996/ Jan. 6,1997). Your analysis of Canada and its people is accurate and insightful. As someone who worked for the federal government for 18 years and lived all his adult life in Ottawa, it is my impression that in the era of globalization, the Canadian economy, and its government, is increasingly coming under the influence of global market forces that the economists and politicians cannot even predict, let alone control. This leads me to wonder if Canadian society is headed to the chaotic state described in Alvin Toffler’s Future Shock. I hope it’s not that bad.

Gordon Ball, Ottawa

This “haves and have-nots” class-war fare doctrine you perpetuate in your year-end poll is getting old. Typically, you asked re-

spondents whether they believe corporate leaders’ salaries should be kept in line with other employees, and the response was obviously yes (75 per cent). Ask those same people if they would reject the large salary if they themselves had the opportunity to take on the top job, and I believe their honest response would be no. Granted, there are social wounds that need to be healed, but the remedy is not to prescribe more war between the classes.

Charles Coleman, Duncan, B.C.

In an issue in which the colPINDER with lective apathetic Isaac Prilleltensky Canadian resignation, voice hits speaks the nail on the head (“Whose society, whose best interests?” The Road Ahead). Prilleltensky defines the cause for the shared collapse of political will. Without their knowledge, the people of Canada have become disenfranchised. If there is no serious examination of the masquerade that parliamentary democracy has become, of course Canadian citizens will be unable to imagine viable alternatives. If economic priorities are always established by the Business Council on National Issues, of course Canadian citizens will feel that the future is no longer in their hands. When will a political party be brave enough to confront the closet totalitarianism that currently determines the economic priorities of our nation? When will a politician speak up for the necessity of restoring democracy, not just for shareholders, but for Canadian citizens?

Peter Harcourt, Ottawa III

Older than you think

For the most part, I agree with your review of the musical Jane Eyre, but I take exception to the comment that “Jane’s solo about the inferior social status of women, Silent Rebellion, makes her sound, ludicrously, as if she had been reading Gloria Steinern a century before the fact” (“Passion in the Eyre,” Theatre, Dec. 16). If you had read the book Jane Eyre, you would know much of Charlotte Bronte’s writing deals with the inferior social status of women. At the time her novels were written, she was criticized for being immoral and unladylike. I would not say that Brontë had been read ing Steinern, rather I would say that Steinern read Brontë, and so should you.

Vicki Trottier Haileybury, Ont. IF

A lot of fat

Your Dec. 23 coverage of “Low-content la bels” (Opening Notes) gave me the kind of shudder that must have occurred on the 1983 Air Canada flight forced to land at Gim li, Man., when a mistake about metric conversions caused the jetliner to run out of fuel. While not as serious, you stated that ? 55-mg can of Hormel’s luncheon meat contained 16 g of fat, quite a feat. It was probably a 55-g can, but that such an error car wind up in print makes me wonder just how metric we really have become.

Martin J. Steinbach Torontos

In your article discussing the lack of nutritional details on food labels in Canada, you compare the labelling in the United States and Canada of Spam and Hellmann’s mayonnaise for fat content. Don’t most Cañad: ans know Spam and mayonnaise are full oí fat? Do people who eat Spam care?

Patrick McGarry, Andover, Me. IF

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

should be addressed to: Maclean’s Magazine Letters 777 Bay St.,Toronto, Ont. M5W IA7 Fax: (416) 596-7730 111 E-mail: letters@macleans.ca or: 76702.2247@compuserve.com

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.

'A turning point'

I would like to congratulate Peter C. Newman on his excellent essay on the subject of the new millennium (“The dawn of a new millennium,” Special Report, Dec. 30, 1996/Jan. 6, 1997). In my view, Newman quite rightly identifies midnight, Dec. 31, 1999, as a turning point and the marking of a new millennium as a public event that will help define Canadian culture for years to come. The advent of a new millennium offers Canadians and the world a tremendous opportunity. It can lead to an increased dialogue among Canadians as to where we have come from and where we are going. This in turn can lead to an increase in understanding, harmony and unity among the people and regions of Canada. Such a national commemoration and celebration will also help define our role in the world at the beginning of the 21st century, and in the process help us to define ourselves and our nation.

David Woolf son, Co-founder and executive director, Millennium Council of Canada, Torontos

Big-bank interest

For several months, I have watched with increasingly cynical amusement as Peter C. Newman acts as an apologist for Canadian bankers in such columns as “Soothing noises from the virtual banker" (The Nation’s Business, Oct. 28). I am familiar with the “we have to be big to compete globally” argument and have no objection to bigness, but I don’t appreciate it being built on my back. As an expatriate Canadian, I am well equipped to give a point of view from the other side. I still have an account with a Big Six Canadian bank that earns 0.24-per-cent interest. I have two bank accounts here in Washington state. My main high-activity account pays 1.5-percent interest, and another low-activity money market-type account pays 4.86 per cent. This demonstrates that interest rates in the United States are far superior to those in Canada. Contrary to the assurances of Newman’s prevaricating pals, where real competition exists (as opposed to six banks owning the entire country), the little guy is usually in a much better position.

Michael Goetz. Vancouver, Wash.

THE MAIL_

Credit-card interest

In case MP Paul Zed hasn’t noticed, there are thousands of low-cost credit cards around (“Bashing Zed," Business, Dec. 16). From the time of your purchase until the due date on your statement, you can enjoy at least one month of an interest-free loan, providing you pay the balance when due. That is a simple solution to high-interest-rate charge cards.

Pearl Miller, Toronto

UN participation

I agree with Harvey L. Webber’s assessment of Canada’s peacekeeping role (“Canada’s ‘delusion of grandeur,’ ” The Road Ahead, Nov. 25). It makes sense to fulfil our obligation as a member of the United Nations, but only as far as our resources permit. Canadians continue to demonstrate a humanitarian spirit but should not go blindly on while other more wealthy nations ignore their responsibility by not keeping up their payments to the United Nations. We continue to participate, at considerable expense, while the people we pay to protect do not appear willing to save themselves. The United Nations should continue its role in peacekeeping, but with less dependence on Canada and a more equal share from other countries.

Robert Webber, Victoria Inspirational people

Today, I am proud to be Canadian. After picking up other newsmagazines and reading reviews of 1996 that focused almost exclusively on sports, music and theatre, I was inspired to pick up Maclean’s and read of Canadians who have accomplished great and worthwhile things (“The eleventh annual Honor Roll,” Cover, Dec. 23). Some of these people were just ordinary people, others excelled in their field, but all deserved the recognition they received. I put down the magazine even more determined to do my part to make Canada an even better place to live. Thanks, Maclean’s, for inspiring news coverage.

Carole Brousson Anderson, Port Moody, B. C. Ill

THE MAIL

I would like to commend you on your fine choices for the annual Honor Roll. The article on teacher Bruce Craig was especially meaningful and made me recall those special teachers who have and continue to develop my strengths and abilities. I have gained more insight from teachers who are honest and open rather than those who view their profession as nothing more than a job. Teachers put themselves on the front lines to help raise a generation. To Mr. Craig and teachers everywhere who sacrifice themselves for the nurturing of the succeeding generation, thank you.

Alexander C. Philip, Toronto HI

I would like to applaud the 14 Canadians in your Honor Roll. I would also like to note that four of the seven women you honored are single, two others are in a relationship, presumably without children, and one has grown children. Is there a message here that for women to achieve honor they must sacrifice having children in order to dedicate themselves to causes they hold dear? What about the women who, for a time, sacrifice sleep, time alone, time with loved ones, their own ambitions and causes they hold dear in order to dedicate themselves to the raising of their small children? I would like to see some of these people represented in your list of Canadians who have achieved greatness.

Sheila Jenny, Oakville, Ont.

As a member of Canada’s air force, I am proud of Master Cpl. Rob Fisher’s accomplishments. He is an inspiration to all serving members of the Canadian Forces, and to all of Canada. We’ve seen what’s been wrong with the Forces; Fisher is but one example of what is right.

Capt. Chris Bowen, Winnipeg ¡M

The Road Ahead

Wanted: new ideas for a new society

Maybe it is time to establish a new relationship between Canadians and their government. Internationally, we are rated the best place to live. Domestically, a large segment of our society is barely able to have a decent life. What do we have to look forward to? The road ahead is leading to greater separation of rich and poor, employed and unemployed. The encouraging signs of an economic turnaround unfortunately encourage the description “jobless recovery”—the ultimate oxymoron. The unemployment seed can blast the recovery to smithereens.

It all begs for societal change. A society embracing automation and high-tech efficiencies to create a healthy recovery—but without provisions for the individuals made redundant—is headed for conflict. We are widening the gap between the haves and have-nots. The challenge is to find a solution that blends the need for global efficiencies with gainful occupation for all elements of a workforce.

Unemployment is unacceptable in a healthy economy. And downsizing for better returns in business or government should have an obligation to invest a part of those returns in new employment.

It is time for business, labor, government and independent thinkers to consider a new relationship among all the people who contribute to our society. We need ideas that take into consideration the fact that, in the cyberworld, fewer and fewer people are needed for essential production. The challenge is to create a brave new world here in Canada, blessed as we are with riches, talent and brains. Add to those elements compassion for all, and we may live up to the designation as best place to live.

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.

John Foss, Hamilton

The other side

In your article “Overstretched in emerg” (Cover, Dec. 2), you referred to a HealthCare Plan member who received a quintuple bypass operation. Once this particular member of our Health Maintenance Organization decided to go public with inaccurate details of his case, we felt obliged to go public with the facts. The member walked into our medical centre on a Saturday complaining of chest pain. He was seen immediately, evaluated, and it was recommended he be admitted to Buffalo General Hospital for further evaluation. The patient expressed a reluctance to do so and elected to go home with instructions to go immediately to the hospital emergency room if symptoms increased, and in any event to call his primary care physician on that following Monday morning for an appointment. Efe did call on that Monday and was promptly seen by a physician who admitted him from our medical centre to the hospital for a cardiac workup. Efe did have bypass surgery. This is far different from the version presented by Maclean’s, which stated our physician “told him nothing was wrong and sent him home.”

Dr. Arthur R. Goshin, President and CEO, HealthCarePlan, Buffalo, N. Y.

THE MAIL_

Kudos for your issue on health care. It appears that doctors in Canada and the United States have more in common than ever before: physicians in Canada and the United States should organize as trade unions. What’s more, it should be clear now that patients also need their doctors to have unions.

Dr. Robert L. Weinmann, President, Union of American Physicians & Dentists, Oakland, Calif.

'His crown is slipping'

Your bum rap of Jean Chrétien as snarly was backed up by a photo of the year in which the Prime Minister grabs a demonstrator by the throat (“And promises to keep,” From The Editor, Dec. 30,1996/Jan 6, 1997). If this demonstrator at a national Flag Day ceremony thought he could ruin a date with thousands of children, then he should have thought again. Fortunately, the Prime Minister responded as he did. Would you have preferred he had cowered away?

Bill Fairbairn, Ottawa

Prime Minister Chrétien promised that if elected he would eliminate the GST (“Did Chrétien lie?” Canada, Dec. 23). Canadians are aware of this. And so is he. But his stickhandling in the matter has caused him to lose credibility. Most Canadians would rather have seen Chrétien admitting that he cannot fulfil his promise because we are on the road towards financial recovery. A simple “I’m sorry” would have been sufficient and would have restored the people’s trust in him. I guess that politics and telling the whole truth are not compatible.

Jean Houde, Trenton, Ont.

The Prime Minister’s crown is slipping. No politician makes an honest $18-billion mistake.

D. M. Schmitt, Waterloo, Ont.