The Mail

November 9 1998

The Mail

November 9 1998

The Mail

College or university

"Why college grads get jobs” was quite possibly the finest work that Maclean’s has ever done (Cover/Special Issue, Oct 26). Once Canadians accept the fact that most four-year university degrees only lead to another degree, then rampant credentialism and inflated qualifications will subside. How did we ever get to this point in the first place?

Christopher Deal, Halifax

My own experience and the results of several studies suggest that your coverage would have been more informative and factually accurate had you included “university” in the title and the theme text. “Why university and college grads get jobs” would have created greater balance in the implied comparison and serve to present a clearer picture of the existing and growing complementarity between universities and colleges. University graduates in the social sciences and humanities earn more and suffer less unemployment than those with technical or vocational training.

William C. Leggett, Principal and vice-chancellor, Queen’s University,

Kingston, Ont.

Recent studies show that university graduates do find jobs. Indeed, they are particularly apt to find professional and managerial positions. They are also likely to find advancement and be promoted in ways that are not always possible for those with technical degrees. The recent developments in labor market conditions for young graduates should not be presented as an either/or proposition (technical diplomas versus university degrees) because it limits the choices and options of individuals. There is a place for both types of graduates and there is certainly room for a mixture of the two. Continuing to portray universities as dinosaurs that refuse to adapt belies the many internships, co-ops and relationships between individual programs and the marketplace that are sprouting on campuses all over Canada.

Louise Robert, Executive director, Humanities and Social Sciences Federation of Canada, Ottawa

Thank you for writing about something that truly matters to young Canadians. For years, I pored over your university rankings trying to determine where to go to school, but when it came right down to it, I chose to go to college, much to the shock of teachers and friends alike. This decision has turned out to be one of the best I have made. In two years of college, I gained practical experience, as well as theoretical knowledge, and made enough contacts to land a job two days after completing school. I understand the problems of not having a degree, and I feel that in time I will return to school so that I may pursue a management position. However, the experience I am gaining now and the lack of debt compared with my friends’ will only benefit me in the future.

Melody Gaukel, Pontypool, Ont.

While there may be others making the same claims, I would say that to ignore Ontario’s Ryerson Polytechnic University and the University of Waterloo was a mistake. A hybrid institute that evolved into a university, Toronto’s Ryerson continues to have more than its share of focus on practical applications rather than ivory tower analyses and may indeed be the model both traditional universities and colleges should look towards as they seek answers. And in terms of turning out what business wants, Waterloo helped pioneer co-operative education and can claim


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Faith and skepticism

As an atheistic secular humanist, I gladly take up “A papal challenge to skeptics and agnostics,” (World Notes, Oct. 26). Why does the Pope favor reason and faith, yet caution against skepticism? Simple. Logic is merely a tool to deduce conclusions from given assumptions. If the assumptions are wrong, the conclusions will be nonsense. Science and skepticism are the tools for testing assumptions to find out if they are true. It took the Church over 400 years to admit it was wrong about Galileo and Copernicus. The world does not have another 400 years to wait for the Catholic church to admit it is wrong about the multitude of errors it commits daily. Of course, modern science erodes faith. However, it only does so when faith demands belief in that which is clearly false. Unless, and until, religions of all kinds learn to accept the real world, instead of insisting that black is white if the authorities say so, they will indeed remain in the “realm of fantasy.”

that its students are some of the most highly prized by business. I would like to read how they measure up to the other colleges and universities, how they evolved and how students and business look at them.

Premium priorities

The Business Council on National Issues has not, as stated in “Capital confidential” (Opening Notes, Oct. 26), changed its position or even shifted its emphasis on Employment Insurance premiums. The council has consistently called for steady reductions in premiums, but not as a top priority. The only shift in our fiscal stance this year has been from an exclusive focus on deficit and debt reduction as the immediate priority to a twopronged approach that also calls for broadly


In Peter C. Newman’s column in the June 22, 1998, edition of Maclean’s, it may have been suggested that Mr. and Mrs. David Walsh were aware of the salting of the cores at the Bre-X mine at Busang. Mrs. Walsh denies that she or her late husband were aware of the salting of any cores. Maclean’s accepts this statement and apologizes to them.

based personal income tax cuts as quickly as the country can afford them. Finance Minister Paul Martin may agree with the priority we give to reductions in Employment Insurance premiums, but of one thing you may be sure—our advocacy of personal income tax cuts has nothing whatsoever to do with partisan sympathy for the minister.

Thomas d’Aquino, President and chief executive, Business Council on National Issues, Ottawa

Graduate defections

«TV/Teasuring the brain drain,” (From the IVi-Editor, Oct. 26) deeply disturbed me, both as a university instructor and as a Canadian. Based on a study by the C. D. Howe Institute, it revealed that 11 per cent of Canadian graduates go to the United States to pursue their careers, motivated largely by significantly higher salaries and lower taxes. The editor’s solution? Canadian governments need to create more economic opportunities and above all “reduce the taxes.” But surely the responsibility for this sad state of affairs lies not with governments or with Canadians collectively, but with the defecting graduates themselves. Happy to receive a high-quality university education, paid for largely by Canadian taxpayers, most apparently choose to repay this beneficence by selling their newfound expertise to the highest bidder south of the border. Where in all of this is the notion of repaying one’s debt to society? Perhaps the more money-driven milieu of the United States is the best destination for such people after all. We should not, in any case, blame ourselves.

Dan Azoulay, Newmarket, Ont.

I went to university in the United States and had a great time learning about our neighbor to the south, but I had no intention of living and working there after graduation. I wanted to come back to my country to make a contribution to my community and give back

to Canada. However, after four months of looking for a job with only one interview, I am ready to take off for the United States, where six of my friends have already found high-paying jobs. I still hope to live in Canada, but with $33,000 in student loans and car payments, the United States looks very attractive right now.

Fiscal champion?

For Peter C. Newman to be so gushy about Finance Minister Paul Martin’s recent performance on the state of the economy and not mention the words “hollow,” “misleading” or “self-aggrandizing” is mind-numbing (“Paul Martin’s real, revolutionary goal,” Tlie Nation’s Business, Oct. 26). Martin’s and the Liberal party’s fiscal accomplishments have been on the backs of taxpayers and the provinces through reduced transfer payments—clear and simple. Nowhere does Newman mention that from 1994 to 1998 the federal debt went up another $71.7 billion and yearly interest payments went from $38 to $41 billion while this fiscally conservative champion was holding back the horde of big spenders in the cabinet. All this

during a period of unprecedentedly low interest rates and a booming economy. Lord help us when the economy turns down.

Harvey Stark, Vancouver

Phone-scam victims

Reading “Phone scams” (Canada/Special Report, Oct. 19), I sympathize very much with the victims. However, with the scams that you reported, at least they were in violation of the law and the authorities are able to take action. My husband and I have been scammed, too, losing $1,895 to the culprits and over $1,200 in legal costs to save ourselves from further dealings with the scammers. Just over a year ago, my husband and I went to a presentation on a vacation club package and got hooked. We paid a $1,895 deposit but discovered as soon as we got home that something was terribly wrong. We went back the very next morning and demanded cancellation of the deal. Of course, we didn’t get anything back. When we reported this to the police, they said they could do nothing for us. Basically, what the company was engaging in was in accordance with the law. They used power-selling techniques during which there was serious mis-

representation, and we signed papers that were in total contradiction to what we were told verbally. Somehow, we did not see these deviations—we are two well-educated and intelligent individuals. The company had so much faith in the strength of their scam that it even sued us for payment of the balance of $8,500. We hired a lawyer to file a counterclaim. But unfortunately, we do not have the time, energy or money to keep up the fight. Our legal system does not seem to be protecting innocent, law-abiding citizens.

Kitty Leung, Unionville, Ont.

As much as I detest the institutional inertia that prevents action against fraudulent telemarketers, I find I cannot generate much sympathy for most of the victims. Greed can only explain so much: add a credulity bordering on stupidity and you realize that the reservoir of saps has only just been tapped.

Doug Pasnak, Edmonton

Merger polls

I wish to set the record straight with respect to “An ever-tougher sell,” (Business, Oct. 19). It gives the clear perception that Pollara Inc. has been engaged by the Toronto Dominion Bank to measure public

opinion and advise on the proposed bank merger. Although Pollara does some polling for TD Bank, it has not conducted any polls or provided counsel on the bank merger in any way, shape or form. We have no plan to do so in the future.

Michael Marzolini, Chairman, Pollara Inc., Toronto

'This Canada of ours'

Your cover story regarding our dictatorial Prime Minister comes as no surprise (“For the love of power, “ Oct. 19). I have never understood the reputed affection for Jean Chrétien. He is what he has always been, a partisan mediocrity. He was elected, and might be again, for precisely two reasons: he was not former prime minister Brian Mulroney and he is not Reform party Leader Preston Manning. But what has happened to this Canada of ours? It is now little more than a Potemkin democracy, a banana republic without the bananas, its promise betrayed by the tiny corporate-political elite that dominates it and by a compliant, complacent middle class. Perhaps, whatever we once dared to hope, the people are not up to the land.

John Goodchild, Toronto

Canadian prime ministers with a majority government and in their second or third term are famous for the mind-set we see in Chrétien. Canadians have been remarkably consistent in their response to leaders who lose touch with Canadians and start acting like autocrats. This time, though, with a fractured opposition and no viable national party in the wings, it may happen that we will end up with a three-way split in Parliament that will render any attempt at governance impossible. Maybe our southern neighbor’s simple system (two parties, systemic checks and balances) has something to teach us, after all.

M. E. Lang Collura,

Campbell River, B. C.

Perils of aquaculture

Thank you for your insightful cover story “The dying seas” (Cover, Oct. 5). It provided the fiill context for the debate that is raging around salmon aquaculture. The salmon-farming business is about the race to the bottom both environmentally and economically, not about creating jobs in coastal communities. Recently, independent scientists report Atlantic salmon, escapees from a fish farm, have been found spawning in a wild B.C. river—something the industry and the department of fisheries and oceans said

could never happen. This is the salmon equivalent of firing a “smart bomb” into a maternity ward—delivering disease, predation and competition to our wild fish. There are strong economic arguments against salmon aquaculture as well. Currently, there is a glut of farmed salmon, with 706,000 tonnes produced worldwide in 1997. This not only leaves the price of farmed salmon flat, but also drives down the price for wild salmon, making fishermen fish more just to stay afloat, and jeopardizing conservation. The concern about disease outbreak is real. Norway and Scotland and now New Brunswick have had crippling epidemics in their salmon farms. Our federal and provincial governments must put in place safeguards that prevent these outrages. This means phased conversion to closed-loop containment systems for all salmon aquaculture operations—preventing escapes, pollution and disease transfer. But the aquaculture industry complains they are too expensive. It seems industry would prefer that taxpayers take the risk of paying millions of dollars in compensation rather than require industry to invest in preventive systems. When industry howls that closed containment systems are not economically feasible, governments should ask them: not economically feasible for whom?

Lynn Hunter, David Suzuki Foundation, Victoria