I feel happy, sad and jealous about the reunion of Joni Mitchell and her daughter Kilauren Gibb (“Joni’s secret,” Cover, April 21). It’s hard not knowing where you come from. After four years, and with the help of a social service agency in Montreal, I’ve found my birth mother. Through a social worker, we will establish contact in the form of letters to get to know each other a bit. As much as I want to meet her, she is not yet ready to take that step. So I’m jealous and saddened by the fact that I haven’t been so fortunate to meet my birth mother yet, and happy that another reunion between an adoptee and a birth mother has been successful. I’ve never felt embarrassed by the fact that I’m adopted. It is a good thing. I love my (adoptive) parents more than anything else. They’ve always been there and continue being there for me to support me in my search.
Jennifer Fabb, Mississauga, Ont. IS
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Being an adoptee who, in October, 1995, found my birth mother after 36 years, I was instantly compelled to read your article on Joni Mitchell. Thank you for being so sensitive to the adoptive family. My adoptive mom also has problems at times with my reunion and it is true that it does affect everyone in all the families. In Parent Finders, we are often cautioned about the honeymoon period, which Joni and Kilauren are obviously still going through. I would be interested in see| ing how this story unfolds I three years from now. Reunions can be a lot of work, but they are well worth it.
Lisa Bishop, Halifax
When it came to determine the cover story, did you forget that all-important question: is “Joni’s secret” really more important and more newsworthy than the history of Canada? Leave the tabloid writing to the tabloids.
John Buffett, Mississauga, Ont. HI
Do kids need ESL?
More than a million dollars, a veritable cornucopia, is available for the promotion of multiculturalism and the teaching of English as a second language (“Who should pay for ESL?” Education, April 14). It would be magnanimous if we enjoyed a debt-free country and could afford such grandiose treatment. But simply, we cannot. Where else in the world are its citizens subsidizing immigrant language instruction?
Roger Charles Zahar, Burnaby, B.C.
Why is it necessary to teach ESL to immigrant children in elementary schools ? As the children of immigrants who arrived in Canada in 1951, long before the days of second-language and heritage-language programs, my brother and I entered first grade without a word of English, and we spoke it like natives by Grade 2. We immigrant children of the past did not seem to drop out of school more often or develop more problems than our Canadian-born classmates. On what are the current assumptions based? I would be interested in knowing how many
When I lived with my grandparents while attending the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton in the early 1980s, my grandfather introduced me to Maclean’s magazine by having me read and critique Allan Fotheringham with him. Gramps has read Maclean’s for as long as I can remember, and I am certain that he felt honored to see his picture in “Return to Vimy” (World Notes, April 21). Unfortunately, the photograph is incorrectly identified. The First World War veteran in the forefront is my grandfather, Gordon Alexander Boyd, age 98, of Fredericton.
Joanna Dermenjian, Kingston, Ont.
first-generation non-English-speaking students have dropped out of school over the years, compared with native-speakers, both prior to and after ESL came into effect; I would be interested in knowing how many, proportionately, went on to other or higher education. ESL funds might more usefully be applied to teaching English to the older siblings and parents, for whom language-learning is more difficult, and to special education or enhanced education programs.
Iqaluit, N.W.T. HI
Skills and funds
Your article on the desperate need for computer programmers in Canada made it clear that educators and government need to focus on drawing people of all ages and skills into the technology field (“Desperate for help,” Business, April 21). As a recent graduate of the master of library and information studies program at Dalhousie University, I find myself needing further education in order to gain the competitive edge. But with $20,000 in student loans and no long-term job prospects on the horizon, how am I, or my peers, expected to afford a $17,000 computer course to gain the needed skills? Clearly, if the powers that be want to get results, we need better funding for students, and far better job prospects in all areas.
Dan Trivett, Halifax
Proof of leadership
I appreciated Peter C. Newman’s “The Liberals’ agonizing election challenge” (The Nation’s Business, March 17). It is true that “Canadians are longing not just for leadership, but for a vision of their future.” I am a Canadian living and working in a former Soviet republic where nationalism has been very evident in this decade and where people are having to live with the terrible eco-
nomic consequences of dismantling their nation. I do not want such a fate for my Canada. I, like so many Canadians, do have a vision for our future. We dream of a country in which Frenchand English-speaking Canadians are optimistic about their unique, unified nation—where Quebecers are accepted as a nation within our nation and enjoy special powers that enable them to fulfil their visions, too. We dream of a Canada moving into the next century with its dif-
ferences as its greatest strength. Where are the leaders who can see this vision and lead us there?
John Norton, Lieutenant, The Salvation Army, Rustavi, Georgia HI
I hope for the sake of H. J. Heinz and Welch Foods Inc. that officials in the federal Health Protection Branch do not read “Nature’s medicines” (Health Monitor, March 31), which indicates new research on the therapeutic value of tomatoes and purple grape juice. The HPB is currently spending a lot of money and effort trying to regulate and classify herbs as drugs. Their rationale is that if any substance has a therapeutic effect, it is a drug and must be regulated as such. The public will, of course, need to be protected from manufacturers who can now point to the health benefits of these foods so their sale will be restricted to the pharmacy. Perhaps the Health Protection Branch is aptly named: they are very good at protecting us from good health.
Chris Dollard, Nanoose Bay, B. C. HI
In many years of reading Maclean’s, I have never found that it promotes a “Beverly Hillbillies characterization” of the West, nor have I noticed that articles about Western Canada are particularly infrequent (“Megacity questions,’’The Mail, March 31) .Torontobashing is an example of the kind of petty regionalism threatening to tear this country apart. Let’s learn to appreciate Canada’s diverse regions and cities, rather than nurse grudges and spit venom at each other.
Peter Mitchell, Thunder Bay, Ont.
Allan Fotheringham’s article on the Bre-X Minerals Ltd. scandal is slanted and prejudicial towards the Vancouver Stock Exchange (“The treasure of the Sierra Busang,” April 7). I recognize that the VSE can be a sleazy promotional operation, but it serves a vital purpose to the world mineral exploration business. The irony here, though, is that Bre-X is originally an Alberta Stock Exchange company—the exchange that tries to put itself above the antics of the VSE. So quit dumping on the VSE. It’s not their fault this time. Remember that Afton Mines, Prime Resources (Eskay Creek), and Diamond Fields (Voisey’s Bay) are all big moneymakers for investors on the VSE.
Thomas Drown, Vancouver
Gunning for votes
You say, regarding Justice Minister Allan Rock’s firearms control Bill C-68 that “the polls show that the vast majority of Canadians favor the law” (“Ready to rumble,” Canada, April 21). That is a serious error. The April 11 Globe-Environics poll showed that 49 per cent of Canadians feel the Liberals did a “bad job” of handling the gun-control issue. Only 31 per cent feel that they did a good job. Those who oppose the bill are a river a mile wide and a mile deep. Ask former prime minister Kim Campbell and former Ontario Liberal leader Lynn MacLeod what happens when you turn the firearms community against your party. Ask Ontario Premier Mike Harris what happens when the firearms community swings in behind you during the final days of an election campaign.
David A Tomlinson, National president, National Firearms Association,
Rankled by rankings
The ranking of Canada’s prime ministers (“Historians rank the best and worst Canadian prime ministers,” Special Report, April 21) placing Brian Mulroney eighth left me wondering what counts in history. Mulroney led this nation through two terms during a strong economic period, not of his making, and managed to double our debt. He then made it his personal goal to resolve the constitutional dilemma, not in a patient progressive way but with a series of arbitrary deadlines dictated by his term in office and his search for glory. When he failed, he slipped out of the arena and left the party to clean up the mess. Your historians can gloss over the damage wrought by this person on the country and on his party, but the rest of us are still paying the price.
R. A. LeCraw, Newmarket, Ont. HI
It is too bad that mainstream historians rarely consider history through the eyes of disadvantaged groups. Sir John A. Macdonald’s policies nearly exterminated aboriginal peoples in Canada. His national dream was built on the backs of badly abused immigrant Chinese laborers. William Lyon Mackenzie King would receive poor marks from Jewishand Japanese-Canadians. None of these prime ministers, perhaps with the exception of
Trudeau who introduced multiculturalism as government policy, could be said to be representative of any but the dominant groups. Canada’s political history was, and continues to be, racist, sexist and elitist. Greatness is in the eye of the beholder.
Valerie Pruegger, Calgary HI
It is incredible that the scholars listed so much about Mackenzie King and managed not a footnote about his role in what is probably the saddest and most shameful chapter in Canadian history. Canada’s heroic efforts in the Second World War will long be remembered, but it was also a time when racism was government policy. In the prewar period, it found expression in its denial of a safe haven in Canada for thousands of European Jews trying to flee the horrors of Nazism. During the War, government-sanctioned discrimination came into effect when it arrested and interned Japaneseand Italian-Canadians. King probably believed he was acting in the best interests of the country. Which makes him the great politician the historians consider him to be. But not necessarily a great human being.
Joseph Lipson, Toronto
I am totally astonished that Pierre Elliott Trudeau is ranked fifth by your experts. Here stands a man who flimflammed our citizenry with affectations, whose government lived high on the hog while the populace went into insurmountable debt and had the affront to thumb a final farewell “up yours” as he left.
Grant DeMan, Royston, B.C.
It was a good idea to run the feature rating the prime ministers, but I couldn’t believe the judges rating Louis Saint-Laurent so highly. The country was in such a pink of health in those years that anyone could have presided over it. Uncle Louis was one of the least inspirational prime ministers the country has ever produced. Thankfully, you brought Dalton Camp to the rescue (“A dissenting view”), and brought some fine perspective to the matter.
Lawrence Martin, Ottawa
Based on the yardstick of those who changed the country for the better (and not just ran it well), I rank Lester B. Pearson number 2, second only to Sir John A.
George Daum, Coquitlam, B.C.
It seems your historians cannot remember the 1969 Official Languages Act, nor do they remember it was Trudeau who defeated René Lévesque in 1980, patriated the Constitution and gave us the Charter. In nine traumatic years, Mulroney squandered this legacy, leaving the country facing the twin threats of assimilation into the United States under the massive economic union he signed and a growing secessionist movement in Quebec. Your article was a graphic reminder that no one can rewrite history better than historians.
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