The Mail

October 19 1998

The Mail

October 19 1998

The Mail


Sea sickness

Excellent cover story on “The dying seas” (Oct. 5). Perhaps we as a country should spend more time implementing effective strategies to protect our delicate marine ecosystems instead of bickering over meaningless political squabbles and miscellaneous megamergers. If Canada is to thrive—and survive—into the next millennium, we must take action, placing an emphasis on a clean, healthy water environment with biological diversity. This will involve exploring and understanding the links between a sustainable environment, a viable economy and a healthy community. These relationships must be carefully fostered and incorporated into all government policies. The oceans are the lifeblood of human existence. Without them, we will not be pontificating about the impact of a global society or the diving loonie. We will not be here.

Geoff Woods, London, Ont.


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Submissions may appear in Maclean’s electronic sites.

Will you do a true investigative piece on the potential, and need, for aquaculture development? The industry is young and tiny (in the case of Canada), and must double worldwide in the next 15 to 20 years to meet world aquatic protein demands. Under the assault from environmental groups pursuing a variety of agendas, the industry has struggled to continue this evolution. Look at the total area in British Columbia licensed for aquaculture versus the amount dedicated to log booming—which of these is most environmentally sustainable? We need focused and stimulated research in these areas—not a paralysis of government leadership. What is missing is a framework for ^ risk assessment. In my experience, I environmental assessment typically I measures reversibility and scale of S impact. Agriculture, forestry, urbanS ization, fishing and fisheries enhancement have clearly had an impact, permanently and extensively, on the entire North Pacific ecosystem. The aquaculture industry is being challenged to meet a zero-impact standard. Are the same questions being asked of suburban builders and traditional industries? Let’s help get this industry back on track and continue the work to ensure its sustainability.

Chris Campbell, President, The Cultured Crustacean Co. Ltd., Nanaimo, B.C.

I avoided your cover article for two solid hours before I could bring myself to read it. At the very least, I can claim that my wife and I have all but eliminated our consumption of certain fish, namely Chilean sea bass and grouper. I never want to have to say to my children: “Swordfish? Sure, it was delicious, and I helped drive it to extinction.” Karim Kovacevic, Watertown, Mass.

“The dying seas” deals authoritatively with the problems of overfishing. I suggest two sequels: “The dying lands” and “What should be done.” The answer, while conceptually simple, is both complex and controversial: reduce human population. The world cannot possibly support present populations, let alone current rates of increase.

J. K. Reynolds, Toronto

My Iroquois ancestors used to grow pumpkins, corn and tobacco in what are now Ontario and New York state. After 1610, they

Related stories

It never ceases to amaze me how little Canadians seem to cherish freedom and civil liberty. Perhaps it is because our nation was not forged from the crucible of struggle for such basic rights that we remain so complacent. Your placing of the article on the Chrétien APEC disgrace (“Under the gun,” Canada, Oct. 5) together with another on the ongoing dispute over Bill C-68 and gun control (“Taking aim at the firearms registry,” Canada, Oct.5) was not without significance. Canadians should be very wary of any government that demonstrates such contempt for individual rights for its own political agenda. In a democracy, governments should function with a healthy respect for, if not a little fear of, the will of the people. Canada continues to drift towards the opposite state of affairs and few seem to care. A state without civil liberty is not a democracy. Everyone who feels that we are evolving to a police state please raise your hand (that is, if you are not too afraid that you will get pepper-sprayed for doing so).

Christopher R. Shackieton, Vancouver

tried to meet the Dutch demand for furs, until beaver and otter disappeared from their territory in 1651. Unsustainable exploitation is not new—its size is. If we do not take into consideration past events or learn from our mistakes, history will repeat itself with disastrous new consequences.

Marc Louis Lalanne, Pointe-Claire, Que.

Clinton exposure

In “From the kids’ perspective,” (Cover, Sept. 28), you wrote about how children are being exposed to the Clinton scandal and the negative outcomes. I see this as being so hypocritical. As a Grade 10 student, I was exposed to this more from your magazine than anywhere else, and then you go on to say how terrible the whole thing is. If it’s so bad, and needs to be hidden, what’s the point of writing so much about it? It’s not really anybody’s business anyway, and it has already been too overpublicized. This article only brought out the fact that children—actually, people in general—have been too exposed to this, and I found that you completely contradicted yourselves by printing it as an inset to part of the actual story.

Jessica Lee Ryan, Truro, N.S.


Freedom or disrespect

Canada is set to become a totalitarian state if allegations are true that the Prime Minister’s Office or Jean Chrétien himself ordered the crackdown on the students during the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation conference protests at the University of British Columbia (“Under the gun,” Canada, Oct. 5). Since then, Chrétien has shown his indifference to the Canadians—legitimately protesting the visit by brutal dictators to this country—who were pepper-sprayed, jailed and strip-searched by the Mounties. His attitude has enraged all Canadians who value their freedom and his behavior has been arrogant in the extreme. Likewise Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy. (“Awaiting answers,” Canada, Sept. 28). Silent on human rights in Indonesia, China and Cuba, he is also silent on the rights of Canadians at home. The minister is our foreign affairs man. APEC was his party. Why has he nothing to say? To start to mend that image, Axworthy and the PM need to come clean and testify at the APEC inquiry. They may yet have to apologize to the country and the protesters for abusing the power of their office. If that is the case, they must assure Canadians they will be vigilant in upholding the rights of citizens to free speech and protest. And never again should Canadians allow their government to use police to brutally suppress legitimate protest. If we do, we will have descended into the Dark Ages.

Vivian J. Hartnett, Vancouver

The APEC leaders came to Canada to discuss issues unrelated to human rights. Canada’s government officials, as hosts of the conference, had apparently given assurances that offensive indignities would not occur, and in so doing, took on an onerous responsibility. Subsequently, student protesters gave ample warning of their disaffection for the conference. Their actions have since been deemed peaceful, but this is in hindsight. Can we seriously blame the RCMP for being edgy? And what is wrong

The Road Ahead

The other' Year 2000 problem

T"he world’s dire situation as our com-

I puters face the year 2000 and possible “meltdown” is receiving plenty of attention. Estimates of the cost of fixing “Y2K" run as high as $900 billion. With costs of litigation factored in, some exceed $2 trillion. But does anyone seriously doubt the extra money will be found, and the problem solved, one way or another? Yet a much more serious crisis, the survival of millions of children living in absolute poverty, is not addressed with such concern. And that is despite the fact that the cost of solving that problem, about $60 billion per year, is a small fraction of what will be required to reprogram the world’s computers.

In September, 1990, the World Summit for Children took place in New York City. Its purpose was to address the great scandal of our time—that more than 12 million children under the age of 5 die each year from easily preventable causes. The heads of 71 countries set what they considered to be achievable goals for the Year 2000— better basic health care and sanitation, clean water, improved maternal and reproductive health, and better primary education. Since then, progress has been made, to a point.

• The majority of developing countries are on track to achieve the Year 2000 goal of 90-per-cent immunization coverage. Polio is on the verge of eradication. Yet about two million children still die each year from vaccine-preventable diseases.

• Oral rehydration therapy, a simple treatment that saves more than 1.5 million children from fatal diarrheal diseases

each year, is now available in about three quarters of households in the developing world. Yet about 2.2 million children continue to die each year from those diseases.

• Fifty million more children were enrolled in school in 1995 than in 1990. Over 90 per cent of children in developing countries now begin primary school. However, more than 140 million children are still not attending primary school, 60 per cent of them girls.

• Between 1990 and 1995, almost 800 million more people gained access to safe water. Still, water-related diseases contribute to about four million child deaths each year. And the percentage of people with access to sanitation has actually fallen in the developing world since 1990.

• Most developing countries have seen significant progress in reproductive health care and access to family planning services. Fertility rates have shown a remarkable decline, from an average of six births per woman in 1960 to 3.4 births in 1995. Yet in poor countries, an estimated 15 million women are injured or disabled from pregnancy-related causes each year. A woman in sub-Saharan Africa faces a 250 times greater risk of death related to maternal causes than a woman in western Europe.

The extra $60 billion annually needed for universal basic social services is at most seven per cent of the cost of getting the world’s computers past Y2K. Looked at another way, $60 billion represents less than three per cent of the wealth of the world's 500-plus billionaires. Clearly, it is not the means we lack, merely the will.

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.

Blaise Salmon,

President, Results Canada,



with our Prime Minister’s involvement in plans to protect the visiting members—all of them—from possible harassment, or worse? As a country, we do not have much experience combating dangerously impassioned uprisings, but this might have been it. How could Chrétien or the RCMP have known that their precautions were unnecessary? And were they unnecessary? With 2,500 bodies massed on UBC’s Main Mall, who can doubt the anxiety of those in charge of maintaining order? Perhaps some of those demonstrators, left to vent their outrage, could have been killed by armed goons accompanying Suharto. Perhaps pepper spray saved lives.

Marcia Caple, Kanata, Ont.

Canada should be a symbol of political and economic stability, a peaceful, secure nation. We must be an example to the wartorn or economically devastated countries in turmoil, especially as the mighty United States struggles with President Bill Clinton’s misdeeds and the questions of impeachment. Shame on the deluded citizens who would tarnish Canada’s image by pinning a scandal on Jean Chrétien (“Confronting Teflon man,” From the Editor, Oct. 5). The PM obviously acted in Canada’s best inter-

ests as he defended the reputation of our nation. The real crisis in this situation involves the irrational behavior of many citizens as they dwell upon such a pathetically trivial matter and blow it way out of proportion. The government’s time and taxpayers’ money should be used towards the maintenance of Canada’s status as the best country in the world in which to live.

April Nauta, Grimsby, Ont.

Yes, it would be nice, as Bruce Wallace points out in “A leader in the House” (Oct. 5), if our politicians would share more than just the limelight of a man like Nelson Mandela, whose agenda goes beyond the glorification of his own ego. Unfortunately, in their everyday affairs, they are more likely to be swayed by such dyed-in-the-wool megalomaniacs as Suharto, as our own PM has exemplified at the APEC summit. By helping to protect such a so-called leader, Chrétien is also encouraging, whether he admits it or not, the corrupt and decadent values that Suharto represents. Values that put greed before human rights and that are at the heart of the present economic crisis shaking the globe.

Charles Leduc, Vancouver

Gun registration

Your article concluded that not all Canadians agree on gun control. In light of a decision rendered by the Alberta Court of Appeals, the dissension over firearms registration and licensing extends to the judiciary as well (“Taking aim at the firearms registry,” Canada, Oct. 5). Four of five justices ruling on the constitutionality of Canada’s Firearms Act concurred that Bill C-68 does tread upon provincial jurisdiction. The ruling upholds the federal government’s right to implement the controversial legislation, but it also opens the door for appeals to the Supreme Court of Canada. Aside from the costs and the constitutional concerns, there is also the frightening possibility that C-68 will make us less safe by making a shopping list of firearm locations available to criminal computer hackers. You point out that police chiefs want the laws so that officers will know what firearms are present at an address they are about to enter. Yet, frontline police officers—the people going through those doors—won’t be made any safer by registration. Police always assume there may be weapons present in any dwelling being entered under unknown circumstances. We can also be certain criminals won’t be registering their guns, so a registry may give a false sense of security to officers investigat-

ing a so-called clean address. There will also be fewer frontline officers. As police agencies scramble to set up the registration system, uniformed officers are being shuffled behind desks to handle paper. Isn’t it time for the government to rethink its guncontrol policies?

R. G. Morgan, Executive vice-president, The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, Peterborough, Ont.

Justice Minister Anne McLellan’s statement that “Canadians have decided they believe in gun control” in answer to concerns over Bill C-68 is simply not true if she means to suggest Canadians want to force hunters to register their guns. I doubt the average suburbanite really cares whether the guns my husband and I use to hunt are registered. With regard to the polls, ask yourself, do Canadians really believe in gun control, à la C-68, or rather do they believe measures are required to reduce violent crime in our society? If the answer is the former, then gun owners should respect the will of the majority. If, however, the concern is about the reduction of violent crime, politicians had better start enacting laws that deal with the causes of violent crime rather than making hunters the scapegoats. One final thing: has anyone offered any plausible explanation on exactly how C-68

will help reduce gun-related crime? I haven’t yet heard of a single example of how registry of law-abiding gun owners’ guns will do that.

Joanne Morin, Hanmer, Ont.

Grateful families

As a survivor of the experience of the disappearance of a loved one, I speak firsthand when I say that if it hadn’t been for Tim MacFarlane and Brad Falconer from Canadian Amphibious Search Team, the search for my sister’s husband, my best friend, would have been an impossible undertaking (“The body hunters,” Canada, Sept. 21). Collectively, as a family, we had exhausted all the avenues available to us to determine his whereabouts and to shed some light on what had happened on the night of his disappearance. The authorities—the Canadian Coast Guard, Delta police and the Richmond RCMP—had done their best. Tim was referred to us by an acquaintance in the police department more than three weeks later. Apparently, CAST was aware of the case but was prohibited from contacting us. Tim and Brad listened compassionately to our plight and gave us some hope. They made us feel satisfied that we had done everything possible in our power to locate

him. This in itself lifted a great weight off family and loved ones’ shoulders. When he was eventually found and laid to rest, the process of closure and healing could finally begin. Organizations such as CAST should be made part of police departments’ investigative team to assist them in the arduous and painstaking search for clues to what happened and where the person might be found in the days, not months, from his or her disappearance. There’s a misconception out there among the general public that when someone goes missing the police will do everything possible to find him or her, dead or alive. For so many reasons, be they budgetary, lack of manpower or lack of political will, survivors are left waiting in agony and feeling hopeless. You’d think that in a country such as Canada, and with 21st-century technology at our disposal, police departments across the nation would be given adequate funding to keep in place a task force that would do what organizations such as CAST do, but at no extra expense to the families involved. What happens to the people who can’t come up with the $1,000to $5,000-aday fee that is required to cover costs? Do they lose hope? Is this asking too much? To all the members at CAST, keep up the great work—it’s priceless.

Ralph Sammarco, Richmond, B. C.