The Mail

January 20 1997

The Mail

January 20 1997

The Mail

The 21st century

In discussing the upcoming century, it was inevitable that some writer in your yearend issue would make reference to Sir Wilfrid Laurier’s famous quote about the 20th century belonging to Canada and include the oft-repeated comment that he was wrong. What a disappointment, however, that it would come from a writer of Peter C. Newman’s calibre. (“The dawn of a new millennium,” Special Report, Dec. 30,1996/Jan. 6, 1997). Laurier was not wrong. Over the past 100 years, Canada has created a nation the envy of the world. Our capacity for war may not frighten anyone, but I don’t believe this is what Laurier was talking about. I believe he was interested in a just and peaceful society, one that would care for all of its citizens and demonstrate to the world what a nation could be. There is no question that

the 20th century belonged to Canada, the question is whether we will allow it to be dismantled piece by piece because we weren’t smart enough to appreciate our accomplishments over the past hundred years.

Brian Ardern, Thompson, Man.

Laurier: 20th century did belong to Canada

Businesses should be profitable, but profits should not be maximized with complete disregard for the damage caused to others. I was very disturbed to read of the antics of AÍ (Chainsaw) Dunlap (“Haves and have-nots,” Cover). His unrelenting pursuit of profits, along with obscene personal enrichment, while laying off 11,200 employees at Scott Paper and another 6,000 at Sunbeam, is simply not acceptable in a civilized society.

Harvey Manson, St. Catharines, Ont.

Barlow and Black

George W. Bailey (“In praise of Conrad,” The Mail, Dec. 30/Jan. 6) writes that he would like to know how many jobs I have created. For the record, the Council of Canadians, which now has 65,000 members and receives no government funding, not even charitable tax status, does indeed have a growing staff, all of whom pay higher taxes as a percentage of their income than do most corporations. The letter writer misses the point of our dispute with Conrad Black. The Hollinger takeover of Southam resulted in considerable job loss nationwide. This pattern of shedding workers is consistent the world over as huge corporations consolidate their power as virtual companies that do not want a permanent workforce. Further, this takeover has given one man control over Canada’s print media unprecedented anywhere in the industrialized world. A free press is essential to a democracy and no one person should be able to use his wealth to buy public opinion. The Council of Canadians is simply seeking rules to prevent this kind of media concentration. Martin Luther King said: “Legislation may not change the heart, but it can restrain the heartless.”

Maude Barlow, Ottawa

The plain facts

I was accustomed to, though appalled at, the local media consistently referring to a murder victim in Regina as a “native prostitute.” Now, I read in Maclean’s the same de-

scription (“Guilty in Regina,” Canada Notes, Dec. 30/Jan. 6). You report the murder trial as “laced with overtones of racism,” and then you go on to perpetuate the overtones. Is there something inaccurate about the straightforward fact that two 20-year-olds were found guilty of killing a young woman? Does the victim’s race or occupation somehow alter the severity of the plain, unadulterated facts?

Jan Nicholson, Lumsden, Sask.

If ever a reason for reinstating the death penalty in Canada was needed, the murder in Regina is it. Despite Fred Bruning’s snivelling on behalf of the current U.S. death row inhabitants in “A death penalty for two teenage lovers” (An American View, Dec. 16), let him try thinking about the victims That’s what the justice system is supposed to be all about: protection for the innocent and retribution for crime.

Judith Dodington, Borrego Springs, Calif.

Tippy penguins

While we were pleased to see a rare reference to penguins in a Canadian magazine, we must advise you that the incidents of penguins tipping over backwards while watching British air force planes flying over the Falkland Islands have been debunked as originating in the comic strip Bloom County by no less an authority than Bird Watching Digestí“The most memorable 1996 absurdities,” The Nation’s Business, Dec. 30, 1996/Jan. 6, 1997). Having observed penguins both in the Falklands and in Antarctica, I find it difficult to imagine them falling over backwards, as they are extremely surefooted. We can only hope that the Liberal caucus mentioned will be as adept in 1997 in handling their political terrain.

Valmar Kurol, Montreal Antarctic Society, Montreal


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'Simplistic reading'

I was outraged that you printed a letter that reeks of anti-Semitism (“Biblical divisions,” Dec. 16). Not only does the letter writer worry about Jewish influence, but he claims that the Old Testament is distinguished by judgment and vengeance in opposition to the mercy and forgiveness of the New Testament. There are many layers of interpretation for each passage in the Hebrew scriptures, and a simplistic reading in English gives a distorted understanding of

them. I suggest the writer and his ilk should listen to what Jesus taught his followers: ‘Ye shall know them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:16). In this century, Jews have been in the forefront of various civil rights movements and have donated disproportionately to various causes.

Jacob Mendlovic, Toronto


From London to Paris

In “A fire in the Chunnel” (World Notes, Dec. 2) you state that high-speed trains whisk passengers through the 51-km-long tunnel in about three hours. This means an average speed of 17 km/h, hardly high speed. In reality train transit time through the tunnel is approximately 24 minutes, an average speed of 130 km/h. The Eurostar trains cover the entire 500-km distance between London and Paris, including through the Chunnel, in three hours. Further, the shortest ferry service takes less than two hours, not seven hours.

Alan M. Green, St. Albert, Alta.

Promoting movies

Charles Gordon states how difficult it is to see quality cinema these days and he is largely right (“Yes, Virginia, they can make a good movie,” Another View, Dec. 23). However, The English Patient is not the only good film to come out this year. It just happened to be one of the few that had any kind of promotional budget behind it. Hollywood films are largely made by committee. As a result, projects are not given the green light based on quality of script, but on who is in it, how broad an audience it can reach, how well it can be tied in to retail products, and its potential shock value. The audience does have the power to make changes, because there are good alterna-

tives out there. Don’t go to see what’s being heavily promoted, go to see what isn’t. Write to your local theatre and tell them you want to see some variety. Help support the quality and boycott the crap.

Christopher Ball, King City, Ont.

Yes, Charles Gordon, “they” can make a good movie, but “they” are not Hollywood. It is the independent producers who do make good movies. Unfortunately, these films are generally only screened in the handful of independent cinemas in Canada. Saskatoon is fortunate to have one of these cinemas, but as a board member of the communityowned Broadway Theatre, I know very well the problems independents face in marketing these films. Sad to say that 95 per cent of the films screened in Canada are American films and they are generally pretty awful. Canadian film-makers and independent cinemas deserve the support of Canadians and their governments as they are an important aspect of our national identity.

Nayda Veeman, Saskatoon ¡si

Excellent selection

Thank you for recognizing excellence in teaching as you did in selecting Bruce Craig for this year’s Honor Roll (Dec. 23). We have always been happy that our children attended Cypress River School, not only because they learned from excellent teachers, but also because they have received the care and nurturing so important to their growth as individuals. Bruce Craig is indeed a fine teacher and human being.

Glenn and Annette Young, Cypress River, Man.

In your Honor Roll issue you refer to the 30year-long association of William Hutt and Martha Henry. I recall 34 years ago this past summer I had the good fortune, as a 16-yearold, to attend the Stratford Festival where I had my first experience of professional theatre. That summer of 1962, William Hutt

played Prospero in a wonderful Tempest and Martha Henry, a new graduate of the National Theatre School, played her first professional role as Miranda. Others in that fabulous cast included John Colicos in a strange fishlike costume as Caliban and, of all people, Bruno Gerussi dressed neck to toe in a coral-pink bodysuit, playing an athletic and thoroughly masculine Ariel.

Alex Hawkins, Edmonton IS

Many thanks for the 1996 Honor Roll. I may speak for many in suggesting you do a story on those who did not quite make it. Most Canadians are in that category: they do their jobs faithfully, tend their homes, nurture friendships and their families and make their contribution to community life. They are the backbone of the country and its real heroes.

N. Dermott Mclnnes, North Vancouver

Taking control

After succumbing to the bleak outlook of various polls, it was like a breath of fresh air to read The Road Ahead by Isaac Prilleltensky (“Whose society, whose best interest? Dec. 30/Jan. 6). We are still a rich country, but until we elect a government that will challenge corporate power and take control of the nation’s finances, we will continue to drift down the path of no return.

William Sloane, Pilot Mound, Man.

Isaac Prilleltensky’s submission gives a tired rerun of discredited socialist ideology concerning the best economic course for Canada. The ordinary taxpaying citizen has a much greater opportunity to avoid taxation than do corporations, and to say that powerful industries operate a shadow cabinet is purely socialist propaganda. Left-wing ideology and dogma will never serve as a sensible base for Canada’s economic future.

R. H. Eldridge, Victoria