The Mail

March 9 1998

The Mail

March 9 1998

The Mail

Setting the bar higher

The inevitable soul-searching in the wake of two national hockey disasters at the Olympics brought a flood of irrelevant verbiage directed at Canadian and American managers, coaches and players (“Hockey meltdown,” Cover, March 2). Let’s face it: what we have seen is a well-deserved defeat of NHL hockey by European hockey. Some of the Czechs and Finns playing in North America may have been infected by the style of their NHL clubs, but when they play for their countries they follow a game plan that does not rely on hitting, waist-high stick work, blocking the goalie’s view and hoping for an accident, and dumping the puck into the corner with a 50-50 chance of recovering it in a wrestling match. The best European players and, I bet, the Bobby Orrs and Wayne Gretzkys know that intentional goals are scored with the puck under control. The best hockey game (if not the best hockey) in North America is currently played by women. If Canadians insist that Don Cherry’s hockey is “their” game, so be it. But let's stay out of the Olympics.

Fred De Wiel, Calgary

I can certainly understand CBS’s decision not to show any curling, and instead, concentrate on the athletes who came to the XVIII Olympic Games. Curling differs little from lawn bowling, except that it is done on ice. Should lawn bowling be included in the next Summer Games?

Robert Lawrence, Regina

, Shipshape navy

\ 'ITThat “aging fleet” are you 1 V V looking at (“Bound for the j Gulf,” World, Feb. 23)? HMCS ■ Toronto is one of 12 modern : frigates in the Canadian navy, along with the completely modernized Tribal class destroyers and brand-new coastal defence vessels. Only the replenishment ships, submarines and helicopters fit your description. The fleet, as a whole, is more modern than at any time since the start of the Second World War.

Robert H. Thomas, Kingston, Ont.

Gulf's 'gunslinger'

Deirdre McMurdy (“Gulf’s miscast cowboy,” The Bottom Line, Feb. 23) and Peter C. Newman (“Calgary says goodbye to a Texas gunslinger,” The Nation’s Business) in the same issue have slightly different takes in their farewells to J. P Bryan, the “savior of Gulf Canada Resources Ltd.” According to McMurdy, “the tough-talking Texan bought 25 per cent of Gulf in 1994—then promptly slashed 40 per cent of its staff.” Newman appears to fawn nostalgically over the image of the fast-shootin’, rootin’-tootin’ gunslinger who, like that peaceful Wyatt Earp, is really a very nice guy—a sensitive “art historian.” As McMurdy points out, however: “Bryan leaves Gulf with $2.7 billion in debt at a time when world prices have dropped sharply and the company’s stock is trading around a oneyear low.” He also leaves Gulf “cushioned by a hefty severance package.” Ah well, when you’re in the big league, you have to make it big, one way or the other.

Albert Tunis, Ottawa

Peter C. Newman writes that “everybody made a fuss over the fact that [J. P Bryan] wasn’t asked to join the Petroleum Club.” Not so. Professional men and women can join the

'Rats' in the Senate

It is laughable that the Canadian Senate now holds the absentee senator, Andrew Thompson, in contempt. What right does this undemocratic body have to sit on its high horse and proclaim a holier-than-thou attitude towards one of its own, when it knows of many such rats in its ranks? I say we deserve the Senate we’ve got: we deserve the likes of Thompson. We deserve them because we are complacent about real democracy and political change. As long as we accept this unholy and privileged vestige of feudalism, we deserve everything we get, and at $64,000 a year, each of those unelected representatives is laughing at us all the way to the bank.

Daniel R. Li Ilford, Hubbards, N.S.

Calgary Petroleum Club if they so desire, provided they have two sponsors, a decent record and there is no waiting list. Even I managed to do that some years ago, though I recently resigned. The reason Bryan preferred the Ranchman’s club was quite logical: he lived in the same building. All he had to do was take the elevator to eat there.

Hanka Martin, President, Nitram Exploration Ltd., Calgary

Education reform

Hoops Harrison should be commended for his dedication and commitment to education reform in Canada (“A player named Hoops,” Education, Feb. 23). As a university student, I find his leadership inspiring. Rising tuition fees are increasing student debt and creating barriers for working-class students. As a democratic country, we owe our student population the right to be educated regardless of class.

Mike Weiler, North Bay, Ont.

Millennium bug

In your Feb. 16 issue, you ran a Business Notes item titled “Millennium bug alert” about the bug that will cause computers to crash in the year 2000. I’m astonished to see that my tax dollars have gone to a federal task force whose best recommendation is that small and midsize Canadian businesses be denied financing and insurance if they fail to deal with the bug ahead of time. The millennium bug is a serious financial burden on this sector of the economy, and we in small

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR should be addressed to: Maclean’s Magazine Letters 777 Bay St.,Toronto, Ont. M5W IA7 Fax: (416) 596-7730 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.


and midsize businesses keep waiting for the federal and provincial governments to step up with some real help and viable solutions. The silence is deafening.

Fred Nickerson, Yorkton, Sask.

Suicide investigation

This letter is in regard to the anonymous letter you published in your Feb. 23 issue concerning the tragic suicide of Kenneth Au Yeung (“Schoolboy suicide”). We, the Grade 12 class, wish to make this absolutely clear that we were in no way, shape or form discouraged from contacting retired judge Lloyd Houlden, who is heading the inquiry for the Toronto Catholic School Board.

Mark Angelo and 24 others, St. Michael’s Choir School, Toronto

It still amazes me from reading your story about the unfortunate death of a student at St. Mike’s that there are people who value an institution over a person. One would expect that an investigation into any allegations of this nature would be forthright and complete. I am dumbfounded to read of the administration’s point of view in this matter. Is the education system for the children or the people running the system? This institution cares more about how it is viewed by the outside world than about the students attending the school.

Geoffrey Ernest, Oakville, Ont.

The court and Quebec

If, in its final decision, the Supreme Court of Canada decides that it cannot rule on the matter of whether Quebec has the right to unilaterally secede from Canada because it is a political matter, it will be abrogating its judicial responsibility and authority to rule on a strictly legal issue of supreme importance (“Can Quebec secede?” Canada/Special


Report, Feb. 16). It may be a political issue in the province of Quebec, but on a national scale it is solely a legal one involving the integrity of this nation, its Constitution and its borders. To decide otherwise (or worse, in their favor), we would be announcing to the rest of the world we are unable to make legal rulings of national importance and prefer to hide behind the hem of political semantics. R. H. Nucich, Revelstoke, B. C.

The federal government’s Supreme Court challenge to the legality of unilateral secession by Quebec seems like a dry, dispassionate way to debate the very survival of a country. It is essential, though, to define the rules of engagement before the battle begins. And a battle it will be if the separatists succeed. The Supreme Court ruling is not sought to prevent Quebec from separating—it is a weapon to be added to the arsenal in case it does. Quebecers need to know that if they vote to betray and destroy Canada, they will be making bitter enemies of what used to be 22 million of their closest friends and fellow countrymen. We may seem unemotional now, but following a Yes vote, the first thing we will do is tell them to shove sovereigntyassociation somewhere painful. They will see a passionate side to us they will wish they had never tapped. Chris Glover, Cambridge, Ont.

A raise for the PM Right on, AÍ (“Scrutinizing the lamentations of Jean Chrétien,” Allan Fotheringham, Feb. 23). A nice barb, well done. I don’t know what language our PM speaks, but you can certainly add whining to the list. would be interesting to add up the perks Chrétien has at the public’s expense, and determine the dollar figure he actually earns. Then, perhaps, we, including Chris Murray, the lowest-paid NHL hockey player, all could do some whining. Rob Greenfield, North Bay, Ont.

Maclean’s arrives on Tuesdays or Wednesdays and the page to which I turn to first is the last one. Fotheringham’s columns often amuse me, occasionally enlighten me, but never, until this last issue, have I ever been offended by his writings. It seems that he found himself groping beneath the skirts of his personal muse for some inspiration and, being rejected, came up with a sophomoric diatribe against the Prime Minister hoping that it would serve as a substitute for a suitable topic. Truly, Mr. Fotheringham, this is beneath you. H. D. Sanders, North Vancouver