The Mail

The Mail

October 12 1998
The Mail

The Mail

October 12 1998


Clinton's human side

I can’t help but feel that I am missing out on the seemingly national trends of being unfaithful to my spouse and experiencing only a “twinge” of guilt about the infidelity (“Sex and lies,” Cover, Sept. 28). I would not expect—nor want—Maclean’s to examine the issue in moralistic terms, but I am surprised at the cavalier tone I sensed at what is perhaps the greatest betrayal in human relations.

Howard Ryant, Winnipeg

We’ve heard plenty about sex and lies, how about equal space for faithfulness and loyalty to marital partners?

Margaret Nichols, Olathe, Kan.

The continuing support for Clinton is not about job performance, sympathy for the Clinton family, a willingness to forgive and forget, or suspicions of a right-wing conspiracy. It’s about Big Brother. People all over


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the world are astonished that the President of the United States could have the most intimate details of his life laid bare for all to see, and they rightly intuit how much less difficult it would be for the anonymous clerks of government and their accomplices in the media to do the same to any ordinary man or woman. Whereas politicians and the media see Clinton only as the President, the ordinary citizen more easily relates to him as a fellow human, with all the attendant frailties and vulnerabilities. I predict that over the next few American elections, the Republicans who have propelled this crisis will suffer a fate similar to the one handed the Mulroney Conservatives by a population outraged over a government devoid of respect for its citizens.

Peter A. Langmuir, Port Perry, Ont.

In “Defiling sacred premises,” David Shribman states: “But for the Ameri-

can political establishment and for a chunk of the American public, what the President did with Monica Lewinsky in an office where Abraham Lincoln struggled to save the Union, where Theodore Roosevelt conjured up great national power for a country that barely had a navy, where Franklin Roosevelt inspired the nation first to have the faith to save capitalism and then to join the crusade to save democracy, was nothing short of unforgivable.” The current Oval Office was built during Franklin Roosevelt’s administration (1933-1945). Therefore, it is impossible for Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865) or Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909) to have used it. During the William Taft administration (19091913), an oval office was built in the West Wing; however, it is not the Oval Office pictured in Shribman’s article, and again it was built after Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt were in office.

Robert Lechner, Jeffersonton, Va.

I was absolutely astounded to read Diane Francis’s column in which she concludes that “The U.S. President is a ‘dry drunk’ ” (Column, Sept. 28), a term she defines as “someone who does not abuse alcohol, but embodies all the negative characteristics of an alcoholic.” I wonder what part of her professional background has given her the expertise to make such a definite diagnosis. More specifically, I fail to understand how one could condemn Bill Clinton as being

Technology's children

Thank you for examining secrecy concerning children of sperm donors (“The children of sperm donors,” Health, Sept. 28). Adoption groups across Canada urged the minister of health, when drafting legislation on reproductive technologies, not to repeat the errors that were made in provincial adoption secrecy legislation. Research has shown how misguided were many professional judgments that stressed the need for personal anonymity and secrecy of identifying information in adoption. Children created from reproductive and genetic technologies have a right to their identity, including the identifying information of their biological parents. Only identifiable donors should be accepted. To offer donor insemination children only “some social and medical history,” as Dr. Patricia Baird recommends, is discriminatory and disrespectful to the child. How many people who recommend limited genealogical information rights for Dl children would accept this restriction for themselves?

Katherine Kimbell, Co-chair,

Adoption Reform Coalition of Ontario,


trailer trash because he had an affair and lied about it. I would suggest that if every man who recklessly carried on with women, and then “baldly” lied about it, suffered from such a “personality disorder” that he should never be allowed to be a leader, then we would be hard-pressed to find a “deserving leader” throughout history, in any field. It is reasonable to conclude that very few of us were privileged enough to grow up in a world where there are no secrets, denial, dishonesty, poverty, and/or divorce. Should that minority represent the only ones who “deserve” to lead? History has proven that adversity often creates individuals with great character and vision, and yet such persons remain human. As is the case with Bill Clinton and so many of us.

Julie Gagnon, Calgary

Diane Francis observes that Bill Clinton grew up in a dysfunctional trailer-park setting. Therefore, we should all have compassion but should not confer power. If we omitted “trailer park” and inserted “Buckingham Palace,” should we still have compassion but not confer power?

Clarence McDougall,

Mitchell, Ont.

Power failure

In this world of inexpensive battery-powered wonders, such as laptop computers and personal global positioning system receivers, it seems strange that commercial airliners are not equipped with some form of battery backup for their flight data and cockpit voice recorders. I realize that in the case of a catastrophic power failure, the aircraft’s electrically powered sensors would stop transmitting to the battery-powered recorder, but wouldn’t that be a valuable clue in itself? And couldn’t a few low-power sensors for basic information, such as direction, altitude, temperature, be connected to such a unit? We may never know what happened on the Swissair Flight 111 flight deck in the crucial final minutes, because these ultramodern aircraft lack the equivalent of a $20 battery-powered cassette recorder (“Lost in the depths,” Cover, Sept. 14).

Cameron Martin, Hamilton

'Punishing crooks'

The article “Car theft for export” (Special Report, Aug. 17) really outlines the problems we’re having in Ottawa. I am an insurance claims adjuster and I am part of

the International Association of Special Investigation Units. The good news from Ottawa is that the Ottawa-Carleton Regional Police is improving its strategies to fight auto theft. It has set up the Organized Auto Theft, which will meet with representatives of insurance companies, dealerships and rental companies, and the ministry of transportation to continue the fight against motor vehicle thefts. The new group will dedicate efforts to try to convince our government that we need tougher laws and severer sentencing. The group will also work to prevent fraud in the transfer of motor vehicles and in dealing with serial numbers. We must work at punishing those crooks who are stealing our property.

S. Berger, Ottawa

A tragic loss

Tagedy is nothing new to mankind, but somehow it is always a surprise, never loses its power to astonish. Those of us who did not lose a brother or son or husband or father or friend are

shaken nonetheless. We cannot fully share the depth of the sadness of the family and friends of Det. Const. Bill Hancox, who was stabbed to death while on undercover duty in Toronto (“Saying goodbye,” Canada Notes, Aug. 24). But we can remind them of the joy it was to know this fine young man, and think for a moment of the joy they gave him. God bless your soul, Bill Hancox, and give strength to your family and friends to move on.

Nazila Reyhani, Toronto

Referendum majority

Robert Lewis’s commentary on Quebec’s right to separate from Canada on the basis of a 50-per-cent-plus-one vote in a referendum was surprising (“Fifty-plus-one is not enough,” From the Editor, Sept. 7). I and many Newfoundlanders before me have frequently acknowledged that the precedent that best supports the aims of Quebec separatists has consistently been disregarded by the Parti Québécois and the rest of mainland Canada. During a referendum in 1948, a small majority of 52 per cent was sufficient to allow Newfoundland’s elected representatives to negotiate entry into Canada. A 7,000-vote majority, on the second ballot of a

clear question, was enough to bring Newfoundland into Confederation. Regardless of how federalist Canadians feel about the possibility of a fractured nation, the founding principle of democracy has always been the freedom to choose. If a margin of 2 percentage points was good enough to bring one province into this country, shouldn’t the reverse also apply?

Dan MacKenzie, St. John’s, Nfld.

If the Yes vote wins a referendum by a substantial majority in a clearly worded question, then the federal government must call for an immediate election in the rest of Canada, so that the people can elect their negotiating team. I do not want negotiations carried out on my behalf by a bunch of federal MPs from Quebec.

George W. Bailey, Bolton, Ont.

Talking to horses

We were delighted to read your article on “Horse whispering” (Canada, Sept. 21) since our newly launched program, Equine Dynamics, carries the concept of communicating with horses one step further: we train people through horses. Clear communication, gentle firmness and respect are key skills to self-development that can benefit everyone—from business executives to children to victims of abuse. Horses are wonderful creatures to work with because they mirror our feelings and provide immediate feedback. When you discover how a 1,000-lb. animal responds to your direction, you feel like you can take on the world.

Donna Baptist and Cheryl Gibson, Toronto

Pay equity

A Human Rights Tribunal, using a magical formula, has determined that a group of public servants, mostly women, has been underpaid for many years. A Human Rights Tribunal is not a court of law. Their ruling was a dollar-and-cents issue. Was their calculation correct? Perhaps. But when the cost of that decision may be as much as $5 billion, the federal government must appeal. The government represents all the taxpayers of Canada, not only the 200,000 public servants who stand to benefit from the decision. Much has been written about the pay-equity decision, but I have yet to see the salaries and benefits of these public servants, that the Human Rights Tribunal has ruled to be inadequate and the amount they now determine to be reasonable. If asked, the average taxpayer would complain that public servants are overpaid, receive more benefits and are recipients of better pensions than what is available for

comparable positions in the private sector. When taxpayers, who earn less, will be called upon to contribute to the cost of this decision, it is only fair that they are presented with the facts in this case.

Harold Pomerantz, Dundas, Ont.

So Carol Anne Grenier reckons the government owes her $20,000 (“The price of equity,” Canada, Sept. 7). Well, first of all, for “government” read “taxpayers,” and second, nobody owes her a dime. If I felt that I was being underpaid, it wouldn’t take 14 years, a union with a vested interest, and a moronic press release from a non-judicial body to make me look for other work. Why doesn’t the federal government simply ignore the Human Rights Tribunal? That’s what most people with any common sense have been doing for years. Oh, and Ms. Grenier says that at her place of work “nothing is getting done” as a result of the federal decision. And how is this different?

Douglas Darroch, Houston

New learning ideas

As one who was only tested for dyslexia at the age of 22,1 know what it means to face a lot of years of questions about

slow reading and comprehension skills, and wish to thank you for taking the time to address the problem (“Why kids can’t read,” Cover, Sept. 7).

People with dyslexia are usually above average in intelligence. Most have developed very elaborate coping mechanisms to hide the fact that we see “saw” as “was” and can never remember if “i” or “e” comes first in any given word. Many of us work

better in a society where everything is spoken rather than written. We need to find the ideal way for individuals to learn, not to try to design one system for all. Such a system will only continue to frustrate more than it will teach.

R. Glenn Ball,

Nanaimo, B. C.

After reading your articles on “Why kids can’t read,” I had an inspiration. As an educator myself, I know that one’s own schooling is often a crucial factor in a person’s decision to become a teacher. Also, consider that parents of learning disabled children generally prefer segregated classrooms. Wouldn’t it be a fabulous idea to

create special schools (or programs) for learning disabled students who want to become teachers? Then, who better to teach the mainstream classes than these graduates? With their very own personal experience, I’m sure they would make excellent teachers— both for others with learning disabilities, and also for those without.

Pauline Anne Kaye,

Baie-Comeau, Que.

Tuition caps

I was shocked that the dean of the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario in London, Larry Tapp, would say: “First, I had to get the God damned caps off tuition” (“Battling the brain drain,” Ann Dowsett Johnston, Sept. 14). As a university student who is paying $3,353.24 in tuition—not including the additional costs of books and lab manuals, which is more than $500—the idea of getting rid of tuition caps is appalling. The Canadian Federation of Students has released statistics saying that “between 1985 and 1997, the consumer price index, the average annual change in

costs of goods and services, rose 38 per cent. Over the same period, the tuition fee annual index, the yearly average increase in tuition fees, rose 155 per cent.” The thought that some universities wish to charge even more makes it seem as if education has become a rich person’s privilege and not a regular student’s right. If students who are not wealthy are unable to attend university because of circumstances that they cannot control, the majority will probably never earn much more than minimum wage in a world where postsecondary education is key. If, by chance, they are able to take out a student loan, the only way to pay off the huge debt-load by the time they are out of school is to take the highest-paying job they can find in their field —which usually is in the United States. And you wonder why we lose our best students?

Ashley Dyck, Winnipeg

'Lifting the silence'

Kudos to Allan Fotheringham for overcoming his recent battle with cancer. Though his Sept. 14 column was laced with his trademark wit, it also contained an important message (“As I was saying, before I was so rudely interrupted”). A few years back, Fotheringham also wrote an excellent piece about the waning interest in cancer research, largely because AIDS had become the “vogue” disease that celebrities threw their support behind. (This, despite the fact that cancer kills hundreds of thousands more people each year.) Hopefully, articles like Fotheringham’s will help lift the blanket of silence surrounding prostate and other forms of cancer.

Derek Ramm, Toronto

It was with great sadness that I read about Allan Fotheringham’s bout with prostate cancer. I hope that his treatment went well and I wish him many more years of good health. One detail troubles me about his column. Fotheringham referred to prostate cancer as a “male-only disease” and to breast cancer as a “female-owned disease.” Unfortunately, breast cancer is by no means a “female-owned disease.” Men also do suffer and die from breast cancer. If male pride makes it difficult for them to discuss prostate cancer, imagine how difficult it would be for a man to admit to his buddies that he has to have a mastectomy. Perhaps breast self-examination should be a priority for both men and women. Both of these diseases are a great tragedy and it is hoped that we can soon find a cure. And, guys, your health is more important than your pride. Take care of yourselves.

Natalie Tessier, Azilda, Ont.

APEC scandal

We are dealing with an ugly situation, the main subject being our Prime Minister’s approach to the former Indonesian dictator Suharto (“Awaiting answers,” Canada, Sept. 28). Let me quote a few sentences from the book by the respected American journalist William Blum titled Killing Hope: “The government administers the nation on the level of the Chicago gangsters of the 1930s running a protection racket. . . . Death squads roam at will, killing not only subversives, but ‘suspected criminals.’” In 1975, Indonesia invaded East Timor. It was the beginning of a massacre that killed 200,000 out of a population of some 700,000.” This was the leader our Prime Minister welcomed with open arms.

Bert J. Snelgrove, Barrie, Ont.

What a disturbing thought it is that the only thing our government could think to do to protect Canadians against gun-toting dictators at the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation conference was to pepperspray Canadian citizens.

Erin Moroz, Calgary

One of the first things I learned as a student in the 1960s was that there is freedom of expression in Canada, but not freedom from police harassment. For decades, there has been no freedom of anti-government expression in Indonesia and thousands of protesters are dead as a result. I salute those who turned up to protest at the APEC conference, which mostly ensures the rich get richer and the poor poorer. In the meantime, who in Canada is protecting our freedoms?

Jean Dare, Toronto

Some kids being pepper-sprayed is nothing compared with what happens to natives in Canada. Where is the uproar when natives are subjected to land mines and automatic

The Road Ahead

Let's just get on with the job

There is still a deficit in this country. It is not monetary and yet it is having a powerful effect on our monetary situation. It is a deficit of gratitude.

Over the years, as Canadians shifted the burden of health care, education and other services from individual families to institutions, they have gradually lost any firsthand understanding of the daily tasks and requirements for healing the sick, teaching youth or providing services necessary for the well-being of our citizens. As this awareness is lost, assumptions begin to be made based on ignorance. So if a doctor does not provide a quick fix for an unhealthy lifestyle, or a teacher does not provide individual attention for a student in a class of 30, they are deemed incompetent and overpaid. We conclude that the whole system is going to hell in a handbasket and that it is time to tear it apart and sell off the profitable bits.

Despite the fact that the United Nations

Linda Easton,

Goderich, Ont.

weapons at Gustafsen Lake, B.C.? Where is the uproar when a native is shot dead and the files conveniently disappear (“The Ipperwash files,” Canada Notes, Sept. 28)?

Henri Chevillard, Winnipeg

Endangered species

In the article “Looking for a spark” (Canada, Sept. 28), Joe Clark comments on Progressive Conservative party leadership candidate David Orchard’s supporters, saying that “they’d be saving whales one day, and now they’ve turned their sights on

has named Canada the best country in the world to live in for the past five years, the constant whine continues among the citizens of this land. Just as a marriage can fall apart as each partner loses appreciation for the other’s contributions, so, too, can a country.

Perhaps it is time we stopped our whining and began to count the blessings of this wonderful country. Rather than jumping on the political and economic bandwagons that are rapidly dismantling Canada, let’s focus on what is right about our institutions and base any criticisms on clear, factual understandings about the services they provide and the burdens being placed again on our shoulders if they should disappear. Because many of these burdens will be shifted to the shoulders of women, I challenge women to cast aside their “poor me” stance and begin to accept the power they are capable of wielding, and to speak up and organize themselves to preserve the best of Canada.

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.

us.” As a David Orchard supporter and newly minted member of the Conservative party, I’d like to say that Clark is both right and wrong. It’s a good idea to save whales, but we’ve given up on the dinosaurs.

Paul Davy, Parry Sound, Ont.

The greatest opportunity to “unite the right” in Canada lies with David Orchard. This is not because of his politics or vibrant personality, but because of his position to administer the final exit to the Conservative party. David Orchard is the best option for Reform party supporters, “unite the right” supporters, and those who simply dislike the Conservative

party and want to deal a final death blow. Want to ruin the Conservatives? It’s simple—join up and vote for David Orchard! Even the die-hard Tory supporters who remain could not tolerate Orchard at the helm. They will either resign or cause such incredible infighting that the whole organization will move quickly and steadily into oblivion. When this happens, it will be up to the Reform party to change its name, appear to welcome everyone (while really siphoning off the rump of the Tories), and for the first time in years present a viable alternative to the Liberals.

Paul Holmes, Victoria

'Seeing' the Internet

Thank you for writing the interesting article on the new mouse system for blind persons (“A seeing-eye mouse,” Education Notes, Sept. 28). The development of assistive devices, such as the Virtual Reality Mouse, have allowed disabled persons to greatly increase their presence in today’s information-intensive, computer-dependent workplace. It should be noted, however, that the article gives the false impression that a mouse system is required to operate within the graphically based Windows operating system and to gain access to the Internet. All well-designed Windows-based programs allow the user to access all menus and icons using the keyboard alone. The graphical point and click nature of Windows programs has resulted in a dependency on the mouse, even though we can adequately use a computer without it.

Andrew M. Costello, Hull, Que.

Affordable education

Saskatchewan the cheapest (“University roundup,” Education Notes, Sept. 28)? We beg to differ. For 14,000 Canadians, the least expensive province in which to get a university education is their own. They can live in their own communities while taking fully credited undergraduate or graduate courses at a distance from Athabasca University. The fees for a three-credit undergrad course are $372 for students living in Alberta and $422 for students living elsewhere in Canada. Tuition, books, software, course materials and e-mail and toll-free access to one-on-one tutoring is all included. For a lot of students, distance learning over the Internet or through more traditional media—printed materials, software, tapes— is a choice worth investigating.

Pam Patten,

Communications officer, public affairs, Athabasca University, Athabasca, Alta.