Your article “Public school shakeup” (Education, Feb. 3) indicates that most of the provinces in Canada have reduced the number of school boards. Education Minister John Snobelen’s proposal for Ontario will, in my view, victimize our students and prove to be unworkable. He is leaving most decisions to a euphemistically named education improvement commission. He has announced the title of the recipe, made known vaguely a few of the ingredients, but not indicated how the cake was to be baked.
means her support system is not close at hand when she needs it most. Most post-operative radiation treatment spans six weeks. That was the deciding factor for me when faced with the decision in 1995. Perhaps these details will explain to your readers the discrepancy between Ontario and B.C. surgical choices for breast cancer.
Anita Ewart, Prince George, B. C.
Ross Babion, Thunder Bay, Ont.
£ A lian Fotheringham cites a £ / jLjoke in his column about the difference between a diplomat and a lady. “When a lady says no, she means maybe. When she says maybe, she means yes. But she never says yes, otherwise she wouldn’t be a lady” (“Out of Africa, but they still take his calls,” Feb. 3). Such blatantly ignorant, sexist statements perpetuate myths and miscommunication while promoting violence against women, making a joke of that violence and implying societal acceptance of it. This is not merely politically incorrect but dangerous and totally unacceptable in an otherwise generally respected magazine.
Debra Bedrock, Paris, Ont.
Simply the best
Breast cancer choices
How disappointed I was to read that the “Mastectomy alternative” (Health Monitor, Feb. 3) was lumpectomy surgery—I had hoped there was a breakthrough procedure. Your note failed to mention that with lumpectomy, radiation therapy is highly recommended. For many women, that treatment requires travel far from home, which
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Métis/Cree writer Barbara Hager’s plea for both sides of the aboriginal issue to reach out to each other in “Basic steps towards understanding” (The Road Ahead, Feb. 3) is simply the best letter you have ever published.
D. B. Anderson, Langley, B. C.
Eaton and Reform
It is very reassuring to learn from Peter C.
Newman that Fred Eaton, chairman of Canada’s premier department store chain, has the common sense to support the Reform Party of Canada (“Fred Eaton speaks out—Bravo Presto!” The Nation’s Business, Feb. 3). I guess all that good living hasn’t addled his brain after all.
George Potter, Fournier, Ont.
Therapeutic touch (“The healing touch,” Health, Jan. 27) should be viewed as a form of positive interaction between health-care givers and patients, and nothing more, until scientific data demonstrate otherwise. The observation that the benefits are likely a placebo effect makes a lot of medical sense. What I do object to, however, is the suggestion that patients have the ability to decide their own treatments and, as such, should not be denied access to them. I find this a very dangerous line of thinking. Hospitals are places where the scientific principles of medicine are put into practice. For patients to be able to dictate forms of therapy that should be made available to them is ridiculous, unscientific and irresponsible.
Dr. Bradley J. Dibble, Barrie, Ont. IS
I was appalled and disappointed in the law profession’s attitude in “Lawyers on trial” (Canada, Feb. 3). The evidence suggests that former Paul Bernardo lawyers Ken Murray and Carolyn MacDonald not only may have obstructed the justice system but forgot what justice means. The sanctity of the lawyer-client privilege most definitely does not apply in this case.
Michael P. C. Bassyouni, Brentwood Bay, B. C.
A complete surprise to some, particularly politicians, but not to others, that the World Trade Organization ruled against Canada on the matter of split-run magazines (“A blow to magazines,” Media, Jan. 27). Former External Affairs mandarin Gordon Ritchie, who helped negotiate the Free Trade Agreement, succinctly summed up the decision: “There will be other assaults. This is the thin edge of the wedge.” The decision raises some questions: how many people comprise the trade organization? how many are Americans? and how many are Canadians?
Bert J. Snelgrove, Barrie, Ont.
I am utterly alarmed at the possibility that we could be invaded by media from the south that could lay waste to our cultural community and publishing industry. If all else fails, we ought to take the word “trade” seriously enough to demand that the American publishing industry and other media-
THE MAILWorking on the rails
Justice René Foisey’s inquiry into the Hinton, Alta., train collision of 1986 harshly criticized work scheduling practices that the inquiry found were directly responsible for the disaster. The 1995 contract with CN employees requiring “train conductors and engineers to work longer shifts” (“Back to the rails,” Business, Jan. 13) has turned train crew scheduling back to the pre-Hinton era. And the recent implementation of remotecontrol locomotive technology, like unrealistic shareholder expectations, does not come free of charge. It requires ancillary equipment, costing as much as 10 per cent of each locomotive converted, and is a technology that is subject to all of the limitations of FM radio communications. The jury is still out on remote-control technology, but there is evidence to suggest that the application of this method of controlling locomotives will be nowhere near as frequent or as cost-effective as CN CEO Paul Tellier, or the shareholders, would like.
David F. Hughes, Secretary-treasurer, Division 295, Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, Toronto
Who is 'the enemy'?
The idea that government should be run like a corporation has now reached its logical conclusion. With the exception of a few credit unions and co-ops, businesses are dictatorships, not democracies. Local democracy, filled as it is with arguing citizens who have not been elected by Diane Francis and her corporate friends, is a messy impediment to the Harris downsizing agenda. The Fewer School Boards Act empowers the provincial cabinet to change any law that gets in the way of less democracy. Most of the trustees and councillors in Ontario are not “fat cats.” They are your hardworking neighbors. Some of them, however, are getting in the way by actually thinking that children, public transit, the environment and welfare moms are more important than the bottom line. Francis takes as her model of efficiency the city of Chicago, a metropolitan area well-known for its lack of real democracy, its horrendous municipal services and the size of its slums. She crows about California, a state renowned for its poverty and pollution, as well as the failure of Proposition 13, which gutted its school system (“A time to reduce the official head count,” Column, Jan. 20). The public needs to ask itself why the local people they have elected to office are suddenly the enemy.
Jane Mitchell, Public School Trustee, Waterloo County Board of Education, Waterloo, Ont. IS
The Road Ahead
Management instead of leadership
related industries purchase and publish more Canadian content to balance that trade. It should not remain a one-way street.
Daphne L. Hunt, Toronto ¡Ml
I am a chartered financial planner and “Building wealth the smart way” (Cover, Jan. 27) really offended me. I do not charge a fee; I tell my clients I will be compensated by the fund companies in which they invest. One of your sources says she does not “understand why anyone is paying for any fixedincome money-market funds or bonds.” Maybe she would like to pay the trustee, registrar, auditors, legal staff, plus the service reps who answer the phone, the costs of mailing out statements and the general office expenses as well? And she goes on to say that “loads are being charged to pay for the sales force, and what the sales force is doing is giving lousy advice because they are not being paid directly for it.” That is ridiculous. I would be recommending the same good fund whether I were paid by fee or commission.
Barbara J. Perroni, Parksville, B. C.
'Priorities and limits'
Charles Gordon’s accusatory column states that conservatives “invented” a philosophy to justify keeping their money from higher taxes (“Achieving virtue through stinginess,” Column, Feb. 3). Isn’t this a bit of the pot calling the kettle black? In his rant, he has invented a policy for them. He decides that governments are stingy when they try to balance the books.
Marilyn Baker, Richmond, B. C.
Charles Gordon seems to have forgotten his own standards for democratic govern-
Doug Young, the new “tough” minister of defence, has objected to criticism directed at his department by retired military officers and condemned them for not speaking up while they were still in service. Is he not aware that military regulations prevent serving members from disagreeing with or openly criticizing departmental policy? If he really wants to find out what’s wrong with the Canadian Forces, why does he not allow the Somali inquiry to complete its examination? Instead of hiring a high-priced panel of academics, he should read the recently published book Tarnished Brass, by Scott Taylor and Brian Nolan. He would find out that the main problem is the bureaucratization of National Defence headquarters over the past three decades.
In my view, the seed for the decline in military leadership was planted when the Pearson and Trudeau governments integrated and later unified the Canadian Navy, Army and Air Force. In order to gain the support of at least some senior officers, the politicians upgraded the position of chief of the defence staff to a four-star general, despite the fact that unification resulted in a sub-
Maj. Jerry Kasanda (ret.),
ment; that governments do things that people like. It took Canadians a long time to recognize that they had to set priorities and limits for government spending simply because the list of items that lobbyists can call worthy causes is endless, while our collective ability to support such causes is finite. Gordon casts aspersions on the majority who elected fiscally conservative governments in several regions of the country by suggesting that they support homeless-
stantial reduction of the total strength of the regular force. When defence minister Paul Hellyer handpicked his new chief of personnel, and in the process bypassed a number of senior officers with an unprecedented promotion of a commodore to vice-admiral (rising two ranks in one day), he triggered the resignation of a number of capable senior officers. Leadership, and particularly leadership by example, began to be replaced by personnel management.
Like any other country, Canada needs an effective military force, but there must be some sweeping changes at the top echelon. We must pressure our politicians to purge DND of those self-serving bureaucrats— civilian as well as military—-who have abrogated responsibility for leadership and become primarily interested in their own career and perks. The minister must ensure that those who are entrusted with leading our sailors, soldiers and airmen/women are prepared not only to lead by personal example but also to place the well-being of their subordinates ahead of their own. That is the only way to restore the esprit de corps which is so essential for operational effectiveness of any military organization.
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.
ness for the homeless, funding cuts for aid organizations and ridicule for the federal government’s Zairean initiative. This is poppycock. Gordon is trying to suggest that the entire movement is meanspirited. He should be reminded of the general principle that unbridled government spending on every conceivable good cause is not a viable policy.
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