The Mail

The Mail

November 3 1997
The Mail

The Mail

November 3 1997

The Mail

I was fascinated to read former Tory cabinet minister John Crosbie’s dissertation on the problems of regionalism in Canada (“Crosbie’s Canada,” The Maclean’s Excerpt, Oct. 20). He illustrates his thesis with the patronage awarding of the CF-18 maintenance contract to Canadair of Montreal rather then Bristol Aerospace of Winnipeg, and the subsequent dropping of possibly undeserved consolation prizes on Winnipeg. The inability of Crosbie and his colleagues to understand the difference between a contract fairly won and patronage plums illustrates why the Tories are once again an endangered species in Western Canada. John Diefenbaker is spinning in his grave.

Crosbie on patronage

Ted Whicker, Westlock, Alta. HI

Crosbie’s view of Canada, a land where the sole purpose for the country’s existence is to funnel funds to Atlantic Canada, is interesting. The West has always felt this burden is unfair, but has looked at it through the light of Canadian compassion. It is troubling to see a man make his best argument for national unity on the basis that the Atlantic provinces could no longer suck at the pump. Far from exonerating his government, he confirms that western outrage was justified and that much smaller “dollops of patronage” sent westward were truly poor and cynical compensation for the loss. I just hope other Canadians see much more positive potential in this country than he does.

Steven Frasher, 100 Mile House, B. C.

Jane Jacobs's passion

Much of your article on urban philosopher Jane Jacobs (“An urban legend,” Lifestyles, Oct. 20) concerned her hair, her clothes, her house, her husband, her children, her neighborhood and her recipe, as if anybody cared, in comparison with her extraordinary ideas. I almost choked on the fluff. The best thing would have been an article that ignored the superficial, an article that stepped past the usual ways of defining a woman and went on towards her passion, her curiosity and her vision.

Bill Barr, Edmonton HI

Cherished passport

I was outraged when I read that the Israeli government used Canadian passports to support an assassination attempt in the Middle East (“Are Canadians in jeopardy?” World, Oct. 20). As a Canadian who travels throughout the world on business, there are two things I cherish. First, when I return to Canada my response to Canadian Customs and Immigration when asked: “Do you have anything to declare?” is that I am proud to be a Canadian and thrilled to be home. And second, I cherish my Canadian passport and identity. Our passport provides me with instant respect and credibility. We must not allow the activities of the Israeli government to soil our international reputation.

John Weaver, Paris, Ont. HI

Complex benefits

I can’t believe it. Even the minister of finance, Paul Martin, has trouble understanding the proposed new Seniors Benefit. In his letter of Oct. 20 (“Taxing benefits”), he says: “The Seniors Benefit will be simpler for taxpayers because it will be de-linked from the tax system. It will not be subject to claw-backs. The level of benefits will automatically be recalculated each year, based on the previous year’s tax return.” Sorry to sound simple, but if your benefits are tied to your tax return, isn’t this a linkage? An example proves this: say you draw from your RRSP in 2001. Two things happen: first you will be taxed on this withdrawal at your marginal tax rate. That’s the grab we face right now. But wait. In 2002, Revenue Canada notices that your income has increased by $5,000 the previous year, so it cuts your Seniors Benefit by 20 per cent of your increase, or $1,000. Martin doesn’t call this a claw-back, but he’s going to have a tough time convincing Canadians to the contrary.

Peter Brow, North Vancouver


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Workers' dignity

Betty Storie’s essay on a lost generation of underpaid, unemployed young people, (“How business cheats the young,” The Road Ahead, Oct. 20) was right on the mark. It is a myth that business and industry will regulate themselves. I have watched my two children, now in their 20s, struggle in situations like those described by Storie. I have heard similar stories from friends and acquaintances. Those enforcing the assault on human dignity are unconscious of the harm they are doing and deny that it is unfair. They have been taught that united workers are the real villains and see no injustice in a system that reinforces the powerful and denies remedies to the weak. In the Information Age, we have buried the knowledge that could arm the voter against the disaster ahead. Somehow we must regain it and recognize that civilization depends on the rule of just laws, wisely administered.

Don Smithies, Edmonton HI

The wrong Munk

It was not the CEO of Barrick Gold Corp.

who resigned from the board of the Czech and Slovak Association of Canada in protest over a letter to Immigration regarding Roma claims (“In search of home,” Canada, Oct. 20). I should know, because it was I who did.

Peter Munk, Chiropractor, Toronto

A stinging rebuke

Senator Pat Carney stirred up a hornet’s nest with her suggestion that British Columbia should renegotiate its relationship in Canada and not rule out separation (“The B.C. factor,” Canada Notes, Oct. 6). It seems that Carney acted out of frustration in being unable to resolve matters in as timely and satisfactory a manner as she would like. While this frustration is understandable, her expression of it most certainly is not. We expect our leaders to act maturely and responsibly, and by both these measures she failed miserably and let us down badly.

Chris Wadsworth, Vancouver

Pointless challenges

Thankfully, the Supreme Court of Canada has finally put an end to the ongoing challenges by the Red Cross and others to Justice Horace Krever’s report on the tainted blood scandal (“Clearing the way for action,” Canada Notes, Oct. 6), a challenge that has already delayed release of the report by 18 months and caused additional suffering to the families of the tainted-blood victims. Surely, it is now time for all those involved with this tragic event to cease their delaying tactics and be accountable for their actions. As the Supreme Court has recognized, Krever’s mandate was to get and publish the facts even if this reflected adversely on some parties. Otherwise, the entire inquiry process would be rendered pointless.

H. Brian Dickens, Perth, Ont.

Lost in space

Does anyone really know why all those billions are being spent on space exploration, and what mankind can hope to gain from it (“Staying on board,” World, Oct. 6)? Space colonization seems like such a farfetched notion; why all the fuss to explore worlds that are uninhabitable? The $55 billion about to be spent building the space station Alpha over the next five years could surely be put to better use here on Earth where we live and breathe.

Anne Zamolo, Wawa, Ont.

Exposed agenda

Letter writer Iain Wilson wonders why Reform party Leader Preston Manning’s religious “agenda” is any different or “more dangerous” than any other politician’s personal (aka political) agenda (“Political insider,” The Mail, Oct. 6). Five little words make all the difference between day-to-day life in our country and life in the Middle East, for example, and they are: “separation of church and state.”

Holly Kramer, Toronto

Rakoff and Freud

Why does everyone keep dumping on Dr. Vivian Rakoff for his psychiatric evaluation of Quebec Premier Lucien Bouchard (“Patient mistreatment,” The Mail, Oct. 6)? He is only following a long, if not particularly honorable, tradition, one reaching back to the founding father of psychiatry himself. In 1932, Sigmond Freud came out with a book called Thomas Woodrow Wilson: 28th President of the United States: a Psychological Study. Like Rakoff, Freud had never met his subject. Unlike Rakoff, he stated in his preface: ‘To publish the results of such a study of deep psychic mechanisms and expose them to public curiosity so long as the individual lives is certainly admissible. That the subject would consent to publication during his lifetime is altogether unlikely. . . . When, however, an individual whose life and works are of significance to the present and future has died, he becomes by common consent a proper subject for biography and previous limitations no longer exist.” Throughout this character study, Wilson, who had died eight years earlier, is denigrated for his physical unattractiveness, his one-track mind and, above all, his supposed identification with the Messiah. So much for scientific objectivity.

Warren W. Wilson, Toronto

Presto chango

Allan Fotheringham must have done some relentless research to find out where Preston Manning shops for his suits (“See Presto change from geek to Roboman,” Oct. 6). Though it would surprise Fotheringham, even out here in the hinterland we have some rather nice stores, some even sell Hugo Boss and Armani. It is true, as Fotheringham says, that former prime minister Pierre Trudeau remained constant, his essential core never changed. He never admitted a mistake, though he made many. His legacy to western Canadians is his unforgettable middle finger, a staggering debt, the National Energy Program and Mirabel airport, for which we will all be paying for some time to come. Manning, of course, will never raise his middle finger (his good manners will remain constant), though, I think, at times, some journalists really deserve the gesture.

Laura Williamson, Edmonton

Minefield for Canada

I don’t understand Canada’s moral, never mind pivotal, role in the land-mine treaty ban (“Landing the prize,” World, Oct. 20). Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy repeatedly lambastes the United States on the issue, and complains of American sanctions against Cuba. Axworthy was the fellow who went to Cuba recently to shake hands with Fidel Castro in retaliation for the HelmsBurton Act. It was Castro’s Cuban military, backed by the former Soviet Union, that exported its Communist philosophy and terror to Mozambique and Angola. The horrible photographs that are flashed around the world today of the devastation land mines cause to humans are mostly from these two areas. Ban land mines? Most definitely. But why does Axworthy need to bash the United States, Canada’s best friend and trading partner, on this issue? Scoring political points with a near-useless treaty does not impress anyone, least of all the Americans.

Vivian J. Hartnett, Vancouver

'Three amigos'?

The Canadian ambassador to Mexico, Marc Perron, made some forthright statements about Mexico, but he didn’t go far enough (“Undiplomatic attack,” World, Oct. 20). The latest Amnesty International report condemns Mexico for its human rights violations. Murders still occur among those who oppose government policies. During the era of former president Carlos Salinas de Gortari, some 200 people, including journalists, opposition members and labor leaders, were assassinated. And during the same period and into the presidency of Ernesto Zedillo, more than 20 billionaires have been created. Come to think of it, isn’t Mexico with its drug trade, which finds its way into Canada and the United States, one of the “three amigo” partners in NAFTA?

Bert Snelgrove, Barrie, Ont.

Whale of a fight

If Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society was so concerned about the whales (“Greenpeace harpooned,” Opening Notes, Oct. 13), then perhaps his time would be better spent trying to change the laws of both Canada and the United States that allow for the bowhead whale, an endangered species, to continue to be hunted by “special permit” and by aboriginal groups. Watson’s request that the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service investigate Greenpeace’s role in assisting aboriginal hunters, who requested help, tow their quarry ashore reeks of childish rivalry. Would he rather the already dead whale go to waste and another be hunted to replace it?

M. G. Stanley, Glovertown, Nfld. HI