The Mail

The Mail

September 15 1997
The Mail

The Mail

September 15 1997

The Mail

'A lonely star'

The shock of the Princess of Wales’s death is felt around the world, but particularly by Canadians since she was Canada’s princess just as Elizabeth II is Canada’s Queen (“Diana,” Cover, Sept. 8). We can be proud of her accomplishments, most recently her efforts in promoting a ban on land mines. But the most important aspect of Canada’s monarchy remains the stability that the institution provides to Canada’s parliamentary system. In this era of distrust of politicians, Canada’s head of state is hereditary, not beholden to any party cadre or bankrolled and a symbol of 300 years of Canada’s history at a time when our national identity is being eroded. Your unfortunate earlier editorial calling for an end to Canada’s monarchy ignored these realities and proposed that Canadians are now indifferent to the royals (“Monarchy’s lost relevance,” Aug. 25). Paradoxically, the cover story that week (“Oh, Diana!”) was on Diana’s affair with Dodi AÍ Fayed, indicating that Maclean’s editorial staff, at least, do not share those views, since they presumably feature stories they feel are of interest to Canadians.

Bruce Woodruff, St. David’s, Ont.

Diana’s brother, Earl Charles Spencer, was very bitter in his condemnation of the media— understandably so. There is “blood on the hands” of every proprietor and every editor who paid exorbitant sums for photographs. If that is so, then is it not equally true that there is blood on the hands of every person who rushed out to buy copies of the publications? It was greed that played a major role in Diana’s tragic death. If the public felt that the media was too invasive—if they had supported her cries for help— they could have stopped buying the tabloids. But that didn’t happen, did it? Now, they are only too willing to condemn the press. The simple truth is that we all played a part in what happened.

Robert H. Thompson, Victoria HI

I watched a full 12 hours of coverage, on several television networks, before anyone alluded to, in my opinion, the ultimate resting place of responsibility: the public’s insatiable lust for trash news. A tragedy has occurred. A tragedy that may have been avoided. While we are all shocked by this loss, let us learn from this experience. Rather than calling for the heads of the supplier, let’s do some soul-searching. If we examine ourselves, perhaps we may realize that what we ought to be looking at is the demand.

John Baker, Pickering, Ont. HI

The truth is that Diana was murdered by the press.

Bob Delaney, Mississauga, Ont. HI

I looked up in the sky last night and I spotted a lonely, bright, flickering star, above some low-lying fog in the harbor. It reminded me of my encounter with a human star who almost shook my hand at Expo 86 in Vancouver. Her grace, her smile defined her star quality. May she rest in peace.

Antoinette de Wit, Victoria HI

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

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As we reel in shock at the untimely death of Diana, it will be easy to blame the so-called paparazzi for contributing to the accident that caused it. These photographers would be much less persistent if they were not paid so much for their work. The media and con-

Corporate payoff

So, Ethyl Corp. of Richmond, Va., is seeking compensation from the Canadian government for a partial ban on a suspected damaging gasoline additive (“Paying the polluters,” Environment, Sept. 1)? What next? Will American small-arms manufacturers sue the government for lost sales due to the gun-control legislation? Will the buggy-whip makers and blacksmiths of the United States sue Canada for banning horses on expressways? God save Canada when the totally unheralded, undebated, unmentioned Multilateral Agreement on Investment comes into play. Then we can forget trivialities like the GST or national standards for health care or special status for Quebec. The multinationals must be served.

Alan A. Ross, Calgary

sumers who read such trash all bear some responsibility for her death. She managed to become an effective international ambassador for good causes in spite of the excoriating pressures of the trash media, and countless people all over the globe will be less well off without her.

Mark Magner, Richmond Hill, Ont.

Smearing Bouchard

Congratulations to Dr. Vivian Rakoff for finally exposing Quebec Premier Lucien Bouchard for what he is: human (“The Bouchard file,” Cover, Sept. 1). I am a federalist and an Anglo, but I can only shake my head in amazement at this pathetic attempt to slur Bouchard. I don’t believe for a moment that this so-called report, commissioned by a Liberal MP and passed on to the Prime Minister’s Office, is anything but part of a federal smear campaign. I wish that Canada had a politician half as passionate as Bouchard is to speak up for us.

Brian Wall, Red Deer, Alta. HI

Now that Dr. Vivian Rakoff has pegged Lucien Bouchard, why not do Prime Minister Jean Chrétien? What implications would Rakoff assign to Chrétien’s throttling of a protester in front of thousands of witnesses, then announcing: “I took him out!”? (A possible Rambo complex?) What is the significance of Chrétien’s propensity for speaking with imaginary people? (A touch of backbencher’s neurosis?) How does Rakoff feel about Chrétien’s claims not to have read the report on Bouchard, even though it was in the hands of his top advisers? (Denial is more than a river in Egypt.)

THE MAIL_

Yvonne M. Wilkinson, Mississauga, Ont.

The armchair psychiatry that you have plastered on your cover is the most embarrassing incarnation of petty invective I have ever seen in Canada. If English Canada put half the vigor into protecting Canada’s identity as Bouchard has put into Quebec’s, we might all stand a chance of shaking off American social, political, cultural and economic domination.

Patrick Harrison, Vancouver

Now that we seem to have gotten the psychiatrists involved in the unity debate, I’m sure the psychics and aliens can’t be too far behind. Pitiful is the only word that comes to mind in describing the mind-set of federalist forces in Canada today. Keep this up and this country will be lost for good. By insulting the leader of a people, especially one as credible as Bouchard, you insult the people themselves.

Ara Talaslian, Montreal IE

The Road Ahead

Sovereignty and democracy

With the very future of their country at stake, Canadians within and outside Quebec need to redouble efforts to understand each other. This calls for the articulation of a Canadian perspective that is at once sensitive and forthright. The following ideas are offered:

1. Canada will constitutionally recognize the special responsibility of the Quebec national assembly to preserve and protect Quebec’s distinct linguistic and cultural character.

That would not give the Quebec government any additional powers nor satisfy Quebec sovereigntists. But it would deprive them of the ability to claim that Canadians are not prepared to recognize Quebec's distinct character.

2. The Canadian federation is flexible and dynamic.

As has happened many times in the past, there can be adjustments in the division of powers between the federal and provincial/territorial governments in order to recognize their unique features or to make the federation more efficient.

3. Quebecers already enjoy full autonomy. Quebec sovereignty would not make Quebec’s people any more sovereign than they are now. They already delegate certain powers to their provincial representatives and others to their federal representatives. The issue, therefore, is whether they would be better served by a concentration of power in Quebec City than by the checks and balances provided by the separation of powers in the federal system. In the event of Quebec’s separation, politicians and bureaucrats in Quebec City would certainly exercise more power than they do now. But that is not the same as the people having more power.

4. A simple majority (50 per cent plus one) in favor of a dear question to terminate Quebec's membership in the Canadian federation would be sufficient to allow for negotiation of the terms of Quebec’s secession.

In fact, any Quebec government that would proceed with sovereignty on the basis of such a slim margin would be faced with major internal strife, as nearly half the population would be opposed. The precedent of continuing the political fight against the referendum victory by the opposite side has already been set by the sovereigntists. This ongoing turmoil would not be good for Quebec. Unfortunately, by stating that a simple majority would not be good enough for separation, the federal government has transformed an issue that ought to be quite thorny for Quebec sovereigntists into an apparent unwillingness to recognize a democratic decision by the people of Quebec.

5. Canadians do not advocate the partition of Quebec anymore than they advocate the partition of Canada.

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Both prospects are equally abhorrent, but neither can be ruled out. Quebec sovereignty means the partition of Canada. If this were to happen, the impetus for the partition of Quebec would come from people in Quebec who wished to remain within the Canadian federation. No Quebec government could deny these people the right to self-determination upon which its own declaration of sovereignty had so recently been based. That, too, is democracy.

Tony Manera,

Nepean, Ont.

(Tony Manera is a former CBC president.)

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.

Erroneous quote

Your Sept. 8 edition seriously misquotes me in Peter C. Newman’s column (“An opportunist blinded by ambition”). Newman has written to me acknowledging that the last two sentences were not mine. He says: “What happened was that I used your quote about Lucien Bouchard, then added my personal feelings (‘I hate the guy. He is trying to destroy my country.’), and an editor mistakenly included that statement in your quote.” Although I am a fiercely committed federalist, I have never personalized my opposition to sovereignty. There are millions and millions of Quebecers who support the sovereigntist option. Hating them is, at best, a completely useless emotional drain and, at worst, when expressed publicly in this manner, counterproductive. Despite his undoubted charisma and significant leadership qualities, if Bouchard were to disappear from the scene, the problem of Quebec’s failure to reconcile itself to the constitutional changes the rest of us undertook in 1982 would remain.

THE MAIL_

Stanley H. Hartt, Toronto

Camp on poverty

It was refreshing to read the column by Dalton Camp (“A proposal for the premiers: think small,” Guest Column, Sept. 1). He has outlined one of the major injustices in our affluent country, and challenged our political leaders to exercise the power that they have to deal with homelessness. Since all parties in the House of Commons have agreed to eliminate child poverty in Canada by the year 2000, I hope that the members of Parliament will act upon the modest proposal made by Camp.

Allan Baker, Toronto HI

So the maharishi Dalton Camp has come down from the ivory mount to minister to the lowly paeans. He is dismayed by Finance Minister Paul Martin’s deficit fighting and correlates this to the lost generation of unemployed youth. What poppycock! Camp spent his career turning the Conservative Party of Canada hard to the left, leaving anti-Liberal voters with a kind of Liberals-Lite as an alternative. Camp was part of the tax-and-spend malaise that characterized Canadian politics before Jean Chrétien was embarrassed into cutting spending by the Reform party. Sorry, Dalton, you were part of the disease, not the cure. We are paying big time for your socialist policies. Perhaps if taxes weren’t so high in Canada, businesses would have invested money in industries that would employ those youngsters you care so dearly about.

Dennis Taylor, Calgary HI

Closet Liberal

I got a chuckle out of John Crosbies state ment: “I would go back to being a Liberal again before I would have anything to do with the Reform party” (“Reform party took ‘crackpots, nig-nogs,’ ” Opening Notes, Aug. 25). It was the true conservatives who left the Conservative party for the Reform party and left the Tories with only two MPs. Was the Conservative party under Brian Mulroney any different than the Liberal party? No sir.

Al Egan, Kitimat, B. C.