April 14 1997


April 14 1997


Drugs and the RCMP

Your cover story puts the RCMP in a position of ineptitude previously matched only by the Keystone Kops (“Murder mysteries,” March 31). It is appreciated that the combination of ethnic, lingual and gender correctness demanded by their even more inept political masters may be largely responsible. It is further agreed that the legal system in Canada places sometimes insurmountable obstacles in the path of any group trying to interfere with the “rights” of criminal organizations. I, for one, do not believe that any member of the RCMP is the informant. Let’s give them a free hand to identify the real culprits, without impediments from justice department officials.

J. W. Logan, Victoria HI

Fainthearted law

There comes a time when a clear, definitive line must be drawn. I write, of course, of the recently controversial “fainthope clause” for violent criminal offenders (“A killer’s bid to go free,” Canada, March


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24). The idea that a dangerous convicted monster may one day walk free at the very real risk of reoffending is objectionable, at best, ludicrous and frightening, at worst. The need has been voiced: the punishment must fit the crime, not only for the sake of justice but for the sake of deterrence as well.

Michelle Parish, Calgary

Footing the bills

Perhaps your letter writer is correct when he writes about how reprehensible is the expectation that his generation should have to pay for the retirements of all of us baby boomers (“Pension universality,” March 31). I suggest that, in return for being exempted from this responsibility, the “under-

30s workforce” turn in their car keys, cancel their telephone service, and take out extensive mortgages to repay the true costs of their education. People like the letter writer, after all, are driving on my roads, using electronic communications systems built with my tax dollars, and have received a highly subsidized education on my back.

Peter Kingsmill, Hafford, Sask.

Minority government

Surely Peter C. Newman was jesting when he wrote that a Liberal minority would make for great government (“Upsetting

Chrétien’s applecart,” The Nation’s Business, March 31). He could not have seriously contemplated any minority government resolving the major economic and constitutional problems that confront us. A weakened central government would have little or no leverage with the provinces, particularly with Quebec. Minority governments may have their place in history, but this is not the time for one.

Alistair Hensler, Nepean, Ont.

New Cold War

It was with a sense of dismay that I read the report on the deplorable act of the Jordanian soldier’s shooting of several Israeli schoolgirls (“Shame and anger,” World,

The wrong star

Increasingly thoughtful coverage by the news media is one byproduct of the rising profile of women’s hockey, and Maclean’s report on Canada’s national women’s team is a case in point (“The home team,” Women in Sports, April 7). But a caption misidentified Nancy Drolet, one of the most exciting players in women’s hockey, as goalie Danielle Dubé. It’s too bad that a story that helped boost awareness of the women’s game also illustrated that Canada’s female hockey heroes remain too little-known.

John MacKinnon, Manager of communications, Canadian Hockey, Calgary

March 24). The line that offends me is: “The initial findings of a Jordanian military investigation suggested that the gunman was ‘not a Palestinian, not a lunatic and not a devout Muslim,’ any of which might have explained his conduct.” To imply that the attempted mass murder could be understood if it had been a “devout Muslim” on the other end of the trigger is to further perpetuate misconceptions, misinterpretations and mistakes, with the result that your less informed readers hold on to the idea that our societies are naturally against each other. “Devout Muslims” don’t kill schoolgirls. This is the replacement of the Cold War mentality pitting different civilizations (Islamic world versus the Judeo-Christian world) against each other.

Mark Zeitoun, Ottawa

'Workplace woes'

Charles Gordon’s column about people feeling desperate to do something they can be proud of—and become less emotionally dependent upon a changing workplace—was spot on (“Piano lessons, bird watching and golf,” Another View, March 31). He nailed all the workplace woes of the ’90s. I felt like he was describing my life: working 9 to 5 (instead of 9 to 9 like I used to), playing the piano, dancing, telling stories and watching for the occasional bird in Corner Brook.

Elinor Benjamin, Corner Brook, Nfld.

'On the line'

I followed with disgust and revulsion the treatment accorded Maj. Barry Armstrong throughout the Somalia inquiry (“Accusations of murder,” Canada Notes, March 24). In doing his duty to the military and medical profession, this courageous officer is attacked, pilloried and vilified before the whole country. Instead of backing down from what must have been intense pressure from his superiors, he steadfastly stood his ground, thereby putting his military career on the line. The defence department should be openly recognizing and praising his integrity, not treating him as an adversary.

E. S. Henderson, Comox, B. C.

Ethnic harmony

Maclean’s missed the most vital part of Toronto in its coverage of our wonderful city (“The fight for Toronto,” Cover, March 17). Judging from the photos that you chose to print, it would seem that Hogtown is also a bastion of Caucasians, save for minor exceptions. It might be interesting for your readers to know that Toronto

is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world. It has achieved a harmony that is sadly missing in some other supposedly world-class cities.

Brian Mahoney, Toronto 111

'20/20 hindsight'

In his article about the Eatons, Peter C.

Newman disapproved of Lady Eaton’s praise of Mussolini in 1927 (“From dynastic myth to mere mortals,” The Nation’s Business, March 10). One must remember that Mussolini’s policies had socialist roots, he was very popular at that time, made peace with the Vatican and was on the right track until the 1930s when he aligned himself opportunistically with Hitler. Hindsight is always 20/20.

Otto Brody, Regina

No worries

I’ll grant you that the second generation Chrysler Concorde is gorgeous, just as I thought another recent Chrysler design was the first time I saw it (“Driven by de-

sign,” Business, March 17). I can assure you, however, that as the owner of that car—a Neon—its beauty is skin deep and my frustrations with it know no bounds. I was taken with its looks, innovative design and ostensible affordability. After all, if a vehicle has been conceived by sophisticated computer-assisted design, what could possibly go wrong, despite the fact that it has been untried in the real world? Well I found out, and I continue to find out, on both counts. I don’t think the Japanese have much to worry about.

Roger Clarke, Toronto III

Scientific advances

It is sad to see the way people react when faced with a wondrous development such as the cloning advance made with the sheep Dolly (“The Dolly debate,” Special Report, March 10). I am wondering if Jonas Salk’s and Alexander Fleming’s discoveries were received with the same uninformed hysteria. This is a truly advantageous breakthrough and will show itself to be so if it is allowed; although regulation is necessary, you cannot stop science, but you can hope it goes in the right direction.

Rob Coote, Winnipeg Mi

Along party lines

Your special report on NDP Leader Alexa McDonough’s efforts to revive the fortunes of the party fails to ask the question of whether they will be able to craft a credible and progressive message for the upcoming election (“From the ground up,” March 31). The federal Liberals have overshot their deficit reduction target by more than $5 billion and seem determined to continue doing so. By using this fiscal dividend, the NDP could construct an alternative budget centring on a mix of measures to fight child poverty, restore some of the health-care cuts and begin a national child care policy. In addition, the NDP could put forward some innovative ideas on work-time issues, such as job sharing, since nothing remotely approaching full employment is going to be achieved by traditional means.

Simon Rosenblum, Toronto

It was absolutely unnecessary for your article to include information about whom Alexa McDonough is having a relationship with. I’m surprised you didn’t ask her what kind of cookies she likes to bake.

Mimi Williams, Edmonton IE

How predictable is the media display by Tory Leader Jean Charest entering our living-rooms these days (“On the comeback trail”). The Chrétien Liberals know that it is in their interest to promote the division of conservative-minded voters, and Charest has responded by playing his role as the savior of Canada by trying to sound as much like a Reformer as he can while winking back that he will always be a true socialist. Charest was one of the Red Tories from Quebec who pushed the Mulroney government further and further into financial trouble. Now, he is asking us to believe that he is the champion of conservatism.

Paul Arnold, Victoria

When separation meets NAFTA

The Road Ahead

As a Canadian teaching management studies at Texas A&M University, I listened with interest to several debates

about the future of Quebec and the Rest of Canada (ROC) during a conference I attended in Toronto recently. I was struck by the emphasis on current and short-run costs of separation. These debates miss an important long-run point: an independent Quebec would lose much of what it is fighting for because of its need to join the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Assume that Quebec separatists are successful and in 10 years Quebec is a sovereign nation. Two implications stand out. First, Quebec would want to belong to NAFTA, because if it did not, it would lose the economies of scale that come from access to a larger market. The application for membership would not be an easy one, however, since the United States would clearly press for removal of many of Quebec’s barriers to trade (e.g., Hydro Quebec subsidies, the requirement to dub French films using Quebecers, dairy-farm subsidies)—barriers that Quebec has been able to keep as a province because of its subfederal status within Canada. NAFTA membership would mean high adjustment costs for Quebecers, similar to the ones now affecting Mexico.

Second, from my current position next to the U.S.-Mexico border, I am struck by the differences in size of the linguistic groups in North America. Total population is about 380 million (Canada, 30 million, United States, 250 million, Mexico, 100 million), including more than six million francophones (mostly in Quebec), 125 million

hispanics and 249 million anglophones. The francophone share is less than two per cent of the total, and falling. If Quebec separates, what businesses supplying the North American market will be willing to pay the costs of putting French labels on their products, in addition to English and Spanish labels? I suspect not many. Therefore, if Quebec insists on French labelling in order to protect the French language—a key justification for separation—the benefits of economic integration will not materialize. Quebec would become economically marginalized within North America.

Within Canada, Quebec now accounts for about one-quarter of the population (although that percentage is falling, too). In addition, Quebecers are well represented in the federal government. French labels are required on products, French is required for important federal jobs, and French immersion programs proliferate in Canadian schools. Thus, the French language is protected and nurtured within Canada. These policies would not likely remain in place after separation. Given the imperatives of NAFTA, if Quebec separated, Spanish should replace French as the second language of choice in the ROC.

The long-run effects of separation should be a more powerful reason for Quebec to remain in Canada than any reference to the current and short-run dislocation costs of separation. Political separation and economic integration are incompatible goals for Quebec. The simple imperatives of the North American market—the Chinese curse of death by 1,000 cuts—will turn “maître chez nous” into “mi casa es su casa."

Lorraine Eden, College Station, Tex.

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.