The Road Ahead

The Mail

August 4 1997
The Road Ahead

The Mail

August 4 1997

The Mail

'Missing' in the burbs

I live in the development just slightly north-west of McKenzie Towne in Calgary called Stonegate. Your cover story ("The new burbs,” July 21) certainly raised some emotions in me about life in the new suburbs. Despite their rhetoric about using less land for their developments, developers have embraced this New Urbanism because they can generate more revenue per acre. I should know as I live on a postage-stampsized lot, in a development whose zoning is residential, single homes on non-standard narrow lots. Stonegate is a very popular community that is going into its fourth and final development phase in under three years. But the attraction of living in a place like this is less for a sense of community than for the appearance and the relatively cheap prices of the houses. This type of de-


should be addressed to:

Maclean’s Magazine Letters

777 Bay St.,Toronto, Ont. M5W IA7

Fax: (416) 596-7730

HI E-mail:


Maclean’s welcomes readers’ views, but letters may be edited for space and clarity. Please supply name, address and daytime telephone number.

Submissions may appear in Maclean’s electronic sites.

velopment with the garages out back, however, still doesn’t mean there is automatically a feeling of community. There are still way too many cars parked out front, and, yes, you do hear your neighbors because the average space between houses is only four feet. Fortunately, we are blessed with great neighbors on both sides. But deep down in my heart, I want more land and a larger house that will give me a little bit more buffer between the next house and ours.

Andrew Knapper, Calgary

In the “soulless” burbs, home has become little more than a pit stop in life’s rat race. My experience as \ a stay-at-home mom in a fringe ¿ community bordering a large city

1 is that the lights are on but no-

2 body’s home. Quietness reigns in § a ghost-town atmosphere from o breakfast to dinnertime during the 2 work week as parents drive long

commutes to jobs that support living in an affordable clone they can call their own. The kids are likewise ferried off to schools and day care. Seniors are underrepresented. New Urbanism can rearrange the facade of suburbia, but only a radical change in the economy can bring back the missing persons. As in nature, biodiversity is an indicator of the health of a community.

Laure W. Neish, Penticton, B. C. HI

In Kelowna, we refer to places like Sandstone village as walled cities. These developments continue to be erected in some of the most beautiful areas of the city, taking some of the best space behind their iron gates and giving nothing back to the town. As a person living outside these barriers, I do not approve of segregated areas within my city in which I cannot walk or drive. On the other hand, I can see why many would choose these communities for the freedoms they provide. After all, that’s what the Maple Leaf is all about, isn’t it?

Jaye Burke, Kelowna, B. C. HI

As longtime residents of a gated townhouse complex of more than 100 residents, we read with amusement your article “Safe and sound behind the gate.” Regarding the reference that people like us are not community-minded, we would like to point out that we

Quiet pride

Further to the suggestion of a Canadian pledge of allegiance from John H. McEown (“A hand on the heart for Canada," The Road Ahead, July 21), I would like to contrast my two experiences as an immigrant. I arrived in New York City from the United Kingdom in 1959, and very soon became accustomed to two questions being asked of me: “How long have you been here?” and “Are you going to become a citizen?” (I did indeed become a U.S. citizen in 1965.) Through a variety of business and domestic circumstances,

I found myself in Montreal in mid1969, again asan immigrant. So I have now lived in Canada for 28 years, and I was granted Canadian citizenship in 1984. Not once in all these years did anyone put those two questions to me. Why the difference? Canadians don’t seem to need confirmation from strangers that their country is a desirable place to live, and even when they are really proud of Canada, they usually don’t make a big thing of it.

Cyril Kalfin, Kingston, Ont.

have a network not only for social gatherings, but also for problems of illness and loneliness. An emergency preparedness committee is being developed. We have pretty gardens and tidy (but not miniature) lawns. We don’t have a manmade stream murmuring, but we do have ducks quacking in our six ponds. No noises? We must admit that we hear tennis balls next door and the occasional golf ball hitting our roof. And yes, we sit smiling while we watch the lawn being mowed and the leaves being raked—by the gardener. Security, great neighbors “behind the gate,” and we get to call it home.

Robert and Harriet Kendrick, Victoria

Lack of faith

My compliments to you on the thrust of your well-written editorial ‘The silly season is here,” Quly 21). Your assessment of the irresponsible performance of the tenant at 24 Sussex Drive as “our boastful Prime Minister” is right on the money. I share your views. As a wartime veteran of Canada’s merchant navy, I have nothing but contempt for the ongoing record of hypocrisy, insensitivity and downright duplicity that characterizes the performance of successive federal governments.

Phil Etter, Belleville, Ont.


'Road less travelled'

Despite resistance, born out of too many stories about the plight of Generation X, I reluctantly read ‘TOO Canadians to watch” (Cover, July 1). I was wowed by the stories of people who have chosen to take up the challenges that confront them and make the rest of us take notice. They inspire us to remember that most of us, no matter what generation, hoped to walk “the road less travelled.” The story of Judith Anderson in particular grabbed my attention. It made me want to get up and make a difference today.

Pat Russell, Dawson City, Yukon 111

Is it democracy?

Kathryn Woodward’s letter in the June 9 issue asks if the disparities in the size of ridings is really democracy (“Count yourself out”). Canada, it seems, will never have a perfect system of representation. Since before Confederation, we have been grappling with popular representation versus geographical representation, urban versus rural, and recently, representation based on re gion, gender and language. The government

must provide a balance between all these concerns and we as a people must vote with this in mind. Under a system with equal ridings based on population, the urban centres would dominate the decision-making in this country. Judging by the recent results, the Liberals would have had an enormous majority and the northern three-quarters of Canada merely one voice.

Rolph Poorter, Etobicoke, Ont.

Medicare concepts

The article by Dr. Christopher Simpson (“Saving health care by privatization,” The Road Ahead, July 7) reveals the fatal flaw in the Canada Health Act. It is the edict that requires the health ministries of each province to be the exclusive paymasters for every medical attention given to all persons in Canada. It is instructive to contrast this ordinance with the counsel of the originators of the concept of medicare in Canada. The book Social Planning for Canada, published in 1935, was authored by seven wise Canadians—Eugene Forsey, J. King Gordon, Leonard Marsh, J. F. Parkinson, F. R. Scott, Graham Spry and Frank H. Underhill, not a

right-winger or a doctor in the lot—with a preface by J. S. Woodsworth who was the leader of the CCF. Here is their recommendation from the section on health and welfare services: “They [the doctors] should not be confined to practise under the plan of state medicine, but should be allowed to do ‘private practice’ outside of it, for those persons who demand more attention than the state scheme authorizes.” It seems the wheel has come full circle. Perhaps by following this advice and the advice of Simpson, medicare can be saved. But there may not be much time. So many of the good doctors are leaving and our good hospitals are closing.

Bill Robertson, Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.

Hong Kong poor

Remembering my father’s stories of the Hong Kong he saw in the mid-1960s, where people who were unable to afford homes had to camp out on hillsides, I’ve been waiting for “The ‘cage people’ ” (World, July 7), your article about the tiny “bed spaces” that poorer Hong Kongers live in. We finally see where the Conrad Blacks and Thomas d’Aquinos of the world want unfettered capitalism to take Canada.

Marilyn Olmstead, Ottawa


Year-round school

I will not dispute the academic advantages of year-round schooling for our publicly funded system, but I must point out some serious disadvantages (“Summer school,” Education, July 14). First of all, to equip every school with air-conditioning to keep students comfortable would be a massive expense. Second, when would universityand college-bound students finish their final year of high school? And would they consequently have enough time to earn enough money for their first year? With the attempt at rebuilding the nuclear family in Canada, why rob families of the most lucrative season for creating childhood memories at the beach, on the road and in the backyard?

J. Paul Jacula, Oshawa, Ont. ®

Our schools were originally set up with long summer breaks because most Canadians were rural people at the beginning of this century and the children were needed to help with the work on the farm. As a teacher, I feel it’s illogical to shut down thousands of schools for two months. We could have a four-semester school year with two-week turnarounds. This would allow parents and students to choose the pace of their learning. I certainly would love two weeks off in the middle of February for some sun in the south, and I could always take off a semester, if need be, for further studies. Many schools are already air-conditioned, so such a move need not be too costly. Let’s get our education system into the 20th century before we enter the next millennium.

Ed Dev ai, Toronto

Safe drugs

In your article on the use of nifedipine in Canada, Maclean’s did not report a number of important facts in covering Health Canada’s conclusion, with the advice of an

expert advisory group, that short-acting nifedipine is safe and effective when used as indicated (“Guarded approval,” Health Monitor, July 21). Health Canada now joins the United States Food and Drug Administration and European regulatory agencies who have reviewed all of the available evidence and reached the same conclusion. Moreover, the vast majority of Canadians use the long-acting form of nifedipine, the safety of which has never been in question. Finally,

two recent long-term studies not only conclude that treatment with long-acting forms of drugs in this class are safe and effective, but that they actually benefit patients by reducing strokes and other cardiovascular complications.

Corey B. Toal,

Product development manager, cardiovascular,

Bayer Inc., Healthcare division, Toronto

Ground rules for separation

The Road Ahead

The time has come when decisions have to be made to save the best nation on Earth, our beloved home and native land—Canada. People across this great land are watching in horror as the real possibility develops of it breaking up. Add to the perennial threat from Quebec the disenchantment among westerners who feel they can go it alone, and the chances of separation have increased substantially. Parliament must act now and it must act fast if this country is to survive united. To that end, I propose the following articles to govern the application of a province or territory to separate from Canada:

• Parliament would determine, by a simple majority, the question to be posed to the provincial or territorial electorate. No supplementary questions would be allowed on the ballot.

• International observers from mutually agreed-upon countries would monitor the separation referendum.

• Sixty-seven per cent of registered voters of the province or territory would have to vote for the referendum to be valid.

• Sixty-seven per cent of those who do cast ballots in a referendum would have to

Andrew Ee,

Burnaby, B.C.

vote Yes for the separation to happen.

• In the case of a No victory, no other referendum could be held for at least 10 years.

• Following a Yes victory, each municipality or county would vote again to determine, by a simple majority, if it wished to leave or stay.

• The parts that vote to separate would assume a proportionate share of the national debt, based on population.

• All fixed assets (land, buildings, etc.) owned by the federal government would be sold to the separated state at fair market value, to be determined by mutually agreed-upon appraisers. Movable assets would be transferred to Canada.

• The rest of Canada would be allowed ground and air access in perpetuity, subject to customs and immigration procedures.

• All federal employees in a separated area would be guaranteed employment if they relocated, or a severance package.

• A province or territory that voted to separate may apply to rejoin. In that case, Canadians would vote on the application, with a 67-per-cent margin of approval needed for re-admission.

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.