The Mail

The Mail

Eaton's mistakes

March 24 1997
The Mail

The Mail

Eaton's mistakes

March 24 1997

The Mail

Eaton's mistakes

Like generations of Canadians, I too had my first job at Eaton’s, first at Christmas, then regular part time and finally for three years, full time. The lessons I learned certainly stayed with me, but it seems Eaton’s lost sight of them some time ago (“The empire strikes out,” Cover, March 10). What used to be stocked was what the customer wanted, and a broad selection was considered to be essential. If you see an attractive item now, it won’t be stocked in a range of sizes. Finding a clerk is impossible, but you can be certain there will be security personnel peering at you through the racks. Any clerk you can find will be supremely unknowledgeable about the merchandise and probably frantic because he or she is responsible for a number of departments. Many

cash desks sport signs instructing customers to go to another desk, also unstaffed. It should surprise no one that Eaton’s is going under. Perhaps amazement should be reserved for the fact it didn’t happen sooner.

Nancy S. Fraser, Ottawa

I find it darkly funny that all the Eaton’s senior management in your picture are white men, most of them of a “certain age.” I wonder how much time any of them has ever spent shopping in department stores. It is no wonder Eaton’s doesn’t know who their customers are or what we want.

Nancy Capper, Toronto

One can’t help but wonder why the Hudson’s Bay Co. has managed to survive the big U.S. monsters, such as Wal-Mart, and yet Eaton’s sales and revenues have gone down. A week does not go by that I don’t receive a flyer


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from the Bay, advertising yet another sale, but I can’t remember the last time I received one from Eaton’s. Had the greatgrandchildren of Timothy Eaton inherited his aggressive sales and advertising methods, they wouldn’t find themselves rubbing great-grandpa’s foot as much as they have lately.

Colette M. LaBrosse, Montreal


Allan Fotheringham laments that on budget day, 400 of his fellow scribes were locked up in a chilly hangar with inedible food and bad coffee (‘Why budgets are no longer made in secret,” March 3). Too bad they didn’t throw the key away and leave them there: the government missed another golden opportunity.

Gordon Ford, Clayton, Ont.

As a member of 742 Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron, which meets in the hangar where the budget lockup took place, I must take issue with Allan Fotheringham’s comments. This hangar is not cold, or abandoned; it is well-heated, dry

Propagating myths

As a welfare mother, I could not believe the comments made by letter writer Belinda Beveridge regarding the state of the nation’s poor (“Affording children,” March 10). Myfamilywas not always on welfare. When the decision was made to have our first two children, we had a secure household income. But due to circumstances beyond our control (downsizing), that secure income was suddenly gone and we were forced, like many other families profiled in the Feb. 24 special report, “Growing up poor,” to seek help from the government. And when we found out about our third child, we had to make do with what we had. I am truly appalled at the mere suggestion that people in this situation should consider having abortions. That comment could have been used as part of the Nazi propaganda machine back in the Thirties and Forties. Should those who can’t afford children be restricted from having them? How much does a family have to make per year before they are allowed to have children? As for sex education, it is not the lack of it that has put people in this predicament, but the lack of stable, well-paying jobs that has forced people to seek help from government agencies.

Kelly-Lee Rose-Carson, Elliot Lake, Ont.

and used frequently by the air cadet squadron and the government as a reception centre.

Dan Parker, Kemptville, Ont. HI

Constructive cloning

Your March 10 insight into the cloning of Dolly is truly typical of the sensationalist nature of meeting the demands of a fearful public (“The Dolly debate,” Special Report, March 10). The wisdom that society should accept is that the further understanding of cellular genetics can have a powerful positive impact. If the Roslin research team were next able to isolate pieces of genetic material that were linked with cancer resistance, would they not become the next Banting and Best? The key issue is constructive use of knowledge.

John R. Woodhouse, Kemble, Ont. HI

My daughter was born with congenital defects resulting from my contact with rubella in the first trimester. This has left her blind and developmentally delayed. To say


that cloning could be used to prevent this from ever happening in the first place sounds perfectly rational. But I do feel we are playing with issues that go far beyond the rational arguments of the scientific community. To remove the opportunity to continually remind ourselves of the need to accept imperfections, and of our need for compassion and kindness, is to remove a very fundamental aspect of ourselves as human beings. Without this, we have nothing.

Susan Cain, Brampton, Ont.

‘The prospect of evil” raises what must be the most important concern in human history to date. One of the avenues of technology pursued by Hitler’s scientists was the cloning of humans to produce a perfect Aryan race. A perversion of the goal was dramatized in the movie The Boys from Brazil, which gave us a cinematic version of what a horrible threat to humanity the cloning of human beings could pose. The potential disasters from cloning human beings surely warrant an immediate abandonment of its research and development, no matter how intriguing its scientific aspects. Scientists have already screwed humanity with one of their brainchildren— the “peaceful” use of “safe” atomic energy produces an endless supply of nondisposable radioactive filth. I do not think humanity is ready for another scientific achievement of this sort.

Doug Phippen, Sarnia, Ont.

Never say die

Ross Laver doth generalize too much in “Death of a car salesman,” (Personal Business, March 10). There are lawyers of integrity and shysters, good doctors and quacks, honorable politicians and hacks. In the world of automobile distribution, the great majority of dealers work hard, employ

thousands, serve their community and deal with integrity. There are, of course, some who do not. To dismiss one of the greatest examples of successful franchising and free enterprise as an “archaic, grossly inefficient distribution system” is to be out of touch with reality. Automobile dealers are a knowledgeable and formidable force who know how to compete and survive. The dealer franchise system will be a tough competitor, improve itself as necessary and will not go away.

Michael B. Lawrence, Chairman, Canadian Auto Auction Group, Dorval, Que.

Gardens denials

In your article “Grim tales from the Gardens” about allegations of longtime sexual abuse of young boys by staff at Maple Leaf Gardens in the 1980s (Canada, March 10), you state: “Still, the board refused to admit any responsibility—a fact that troubles both child welfare advocates and experts in corporate ethics.” It may be troubling to some, but it should come as no surprise: after all, when cabinet ministers, leaders of the church and military officers can deny, with impunity, knowledge of, or responsibility for, acts of their subordi-


nates, there appears to be little hope for mere hockey executives and “temple” managers.

Art Ponder, Thunder Bay, Ont.

It is the responsibility of every citizen (and, yes, corporation) to report to police any instance or allegation of abuse. For Maple Leaf Gardens administration to unequivocally state that its legal responsibility had been expended by an independent, and obviously incomplete, investigation is a perpetuation of deceit.

April Doyle, Kamloops, B.C.

'Who owns minerals?'

The single question of importance that arises from the gold discovery in Busang, Indonesia (“Greed, graft, gold,” Cover, March 3), and incidentally, also from the nickel find in Voisey Bay, Nfld., and Lac de Gras, N.W.T., is: who owns minerals? Surely minerals form an integral part of the land and one could argue that the rightful owners are the people who have lived on the land for thousands of years.

Ralph Kretz, Professor, geology department, University of Ottawa, Ottawa

Pride of place

Abraham Angik-Ruben’s sculpture Spirits of the Land stands quite proudly in the lobby of the Alberta Stock Exchange and not, as the article indicated, in Calgary Place (“Swinging times,” Cover, Feb. 24). The sculpture is a stylized Inukshuk representative of the landmarks used in the Arctic to guide travellers and hunters, and, to the best of our knowledge, is the largest Inuvialuit sculpture in Canada.

M. Damien Mills, Calgary

Time is all he got

In your Passages item (March 17) about the ruling against Artie Shaw’s claim against my film, Artie Shaw: Time Is All You’ve Got, the judge stated that Mr. Shaw could not unilaterally rewrite the original agreements between us. The judge further stated that Mr. Shaw’s claim against me was triggered only by the film’s Academy Award. The judge also ruled that I had lived up to all my obligations concerning the film and that Mr. Shaw’s claims were unfounded.

Brigitte Berman, Toronto