The Mail

Rape in the military

June 1 1998
The Mail

Rape in the military

June 1 1998

Rape in the military

The Mail

How dare you present such a one-sided story (“Rape in the military,” Cover, May 25) to a readership who for the most part have not had the privilege of knowing and working with one of the most professional and disciplined segments of Canadian society—the Canadian Forces. I have served with the Forces for 15 years—I began as a private and am now a major. I’ve been one of only a handful of women serving with thousands of men on one of the largest army bases in the country, CFB Gagetown, N.B.

I served alongside thousands of men in the former Yugoslavia for more than a year. And never in 15 years have I or most of my female colleagues been subject to the treatment your article suggests is routine for women serving in the Forces. The overwhelming majority of our male colleagues are honorable, respectful and professional. The stories you conveyed are heartwrenching, no question. But they are not the norm. You do women and men in uniform a huge injustice.

Maj. Rita LePage, Communications director, Land Force Central Area Headquarters, Toronto

Though never having been raped, thank God, I have suffered from a few degrading acts by my fellow Forces members. I, along with six other females on a French-language training course, was ordered to report to the graduation party of another, all-male unit as “escorts.” We were told that if we did not attend, we would be given extra kitchen duties. Imagine our disgust when we showed up at the party to see a bunch of young men standing around, calling out our names as if we were a possession. Looking back, I can


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only wonder what made me go through with that humiliating and degrading charade. (My heart goes out to the women of our Canadian armed forces who had to suffer the humiliation of being raped and the consequent lack of support or faith in the system that justice could be served against the wrongdoings.) I have served in the military for 15 years now and this is just one of the many incidents that I have encountered. To think that the minister of national defence would believe that sexual harassment is not rife in our Canadian Forces is ludicrous. Master Cpl. Bonnie Sadler, Cold Lake, Alta.

Under international law, rape committed by the forces of one combatant against the population of another is considered a war crime. Responsibility extends through the forces to the highest echelons, whether it is for commission of the act or for allowing such crimes under their command without punishing the perpetrators where they knew, or had reason to know, that these crimes were being committed. Yet these very same crimes seem to be committed on a regular basis in our own armed forces against our own troops. I can’t believe I’m reading this.

Johanna Myyra, Ottawa

I have been a proud military member for nine years. I have seen my share of cutbacks, changes and problems. I am deeply saddened by any type of assault, be it sexual or physical, but to generalize that the Canadian armed forces is a group of rapists is journalistically unprofessional. I have sworn to defend the Canadian way of life, whatever it may be. Please don’t take that honor away.

Master Cpl. Thomas Gardner, Airfield engineer, 8 Wing Trenton, Ont.

Revising history

On May 7,1998, Quebec Premier Lucien Bouchard shamelessly rewrote history by presiding over the unveiling of a monument to the two Second World War Quebec City Conferences of 1943 and 1944 (“Playing

petty politics,” From The Editor, May 18). The monument features the likenesses of U.S. president Franklin Roosevelt and British prime minister Winston Churchill. But Canadian prime minister Mackenzie King, the host, was not honored. Bouchard’s excuse was that King was not invited to private meetings with Roosevelt and Churchill where they discussed military strategy and plans for a postwar Europe. However, it is well known that Canada played a vital role during the fighting, especially on D-Day and throughout the final year of the war. Bouchard’s attempt to erase Quebec’s historical tie to Canada was a rude slap in the face to every Second World War veteran in our country.

Ian Berg, Yorkton, Sask.

Lowering taxes

Diane Francis has hit the nail on the head, simply outlining the major problems in Canada (“A controversial report that Ottawa ignored,” Column, May 18). Terribly high taxes, along with government inefficiency, are killing our economy. There are also great social costs with too many people being either underemployed or overworked. I hope the government will realize that as long as money circulates, they eventually end up with all of it anyway. We urgently need to have lower income taxes to stimulate more spending and create more jobs.

Victor Wagner, Arva, Ont.


Longing for home

As a Canadian who spent some 30 years as a writer, director and producer with the CBC, the National Film Board and the private sector before relocating to the United States a decade ago, I feel compelled to respond to the superb editorial on expatriates (“Feelings for home, abroad,” From The Editor, April 20). I face daily the “you can take the boy out of the Prairies” syndrome. There is, so far, no Indiana chapter of Canadians Abroad/Les Canadiens à l’étranger, so I continue weekly to depend on my Canadian “fix” from Maclean ’s. Working now as a broadcast and newspaper journalist, and radio talkshow host, I am daily bombarded with questions and comments concerning Canada. And I’ve yet to hear a derogatory remark— although the false impressions and comprehension of the world’s second-largest nation continue to astound.

Ron Bashford, LaPorte, Ind.

I just finished reading “Feelings for home, abroad” (I may be a few issues behind, but Canadian news and opinions, no matter how out-of-date, are always welcome). My wife and I are two of the growing breed of Canadians living in the United States. We made a conscious decision to live in Utah for a while, because it was a challenge to try something different. Since moving to the States, I have met many wonderful people and my general impression of Americans has improved. But at the same time, my dislike of the “culture” of the United States has increased, and my appreciation for what we had in Canada has increased as well. It is frustrating for those abroad that Canadians at home are unaware of our collective blessings, and that is why the unity issue takes on more urgency for us than it seems to for those living at home. It is not the possibility of Canada breaking up that is so worrisome; it is that the leaders on both sides of the issue do not seem to be aware that, given a breakup, there will be two countries closer to becoming what the United States is and less of what makes Canada the country of envy around the world.

Kelly Mamer, Layton, Utah

Righting history

Michael F. Chui states that “the cultural mosaic of Canada has grown from two main stripes—English and French—into a fabric of many hues and colors,” and thereby perpetuates the myth that Canada’s first European settlers were mainly English and French (“In praise of multicultural diversity,” The Road Ahead, April 27). After the

French, many came at the behest of the British government— but they were mostly not English. The first “English settlers” included as many Germans and Gaelic-speaking Scots as English. Multi-ethnic immigration, accompanied by assimilation of language, if not culture, has continued to the present, leading some of us to forget our past. If we do not remember our past, how can we guide our future?

Gordon D. Hebb, Halifax

Spoiling a story line

How dare Peter C. Newman be so presumptuous and have such a lack of consideration for the viewing public. He spoiled my weekly TV time-out by revealing, before Joe Public had a chance to see it, a Traders episode story line and its dramatic ending in such detail that it rendered that week’s show without impact (“Traders: A TV drama too close for comfort,” The Nation’s Business, April 27). Over the years, I have enjoyed Newman’s columns, not always agreeing with them, but this time, he disappointed me. The creative talents and effort of people who make a living producing such works were pre-empted by a thoughtless usurping of their story line, just to make a point which could have easily been accomplished by relating to other past episodes or delaying it by one issue.

Leon Schäumer, Toronto

Name brands

There was a time when some people got paid to walk around carrying advertising on boards front and back. Now we are expected to pay big money to do essentially the same thing for big outfits such as Nike, Roots, etc. (“Fame, friends, fortune,” Business, April 13). Oh, well, as they say, there is one born every minute.

Al Stevenson, St. Catharines, Ont.

‘Before divorce'

We are such a selfish people. Wouldn’t it be novel to try to think of the children before the divorce (“After divorce,” Cover, April 20) ? It is time for us to grow up and behave like adults instead of immature babies only thinking of what we want. We are destroying our children in order to satisfy our own whims. This is the harvest that we are reaping from the me-first generations that we have sown.

Joyce Munro, Calgary


Words and actions

U'T'Mie impasse over hepatitis C” (Canada 1. Notes, May 25) includes a Premier Mike Harris paraphrase of federal Health Minister Allan Rock’s recent posturing regarding compensation for hepatitis C victims. However, you failed to place quotation marks around the minister’s comments. As a result, those remarks appear to be a direct quote from the premier. In fact, Harris was paraphrasing Rock as making statements to the effect of “I [Rock] had to bring the provinces, kicking and screaming [to the table], because they didn’t want to do anything. I’ve [Rock] been a good guy.” While Harris has shown great leadership on the hepatitis C compensation issue, he was not taking credit for bringing the provincial health ministers together, as was suggested by your story.

Rob Reid,

Press secretary, Office of the premier, Toronto

Ontario Premier Mike Harris’s abrupt “wave of niceness” is entirely consistent with every other action his government has taken: lacking in long-term planning, suspicious and created entirely out of self-interest (“The gentler touch,” Canada, May 18). The Tories have the next election in mind, not compassion.

Lisa Sansom, Uxbridge, Ont.

Casino pros and cons

While I agree that casinos bring about a host of social and financial problems, one sentence in your articles struck a sour note (“The curse of casinos,” Cover, May 11). The Addictions Foundation of Manitoba’s gambling programs co-ordinator Gerry Kolesar is quoted as saying: ‘We have calls from adults who are afraid their parents are spending their inheritance, but the parents don’t want to come for treatment.” What a shame that these frightened callers seem more concerned about their own material gain (or loss of it) than their parents’ gambling addiction. The parents are not spending their children’s inheritance, but rather their own money. I certainly do not wish any kind of addiction on anyone, but if my parents want to spend my “inheritance” on things they enjoy, be it renovating their house, buying a new car or a trip to a Canadian or Las Vegas casino, that’s fine.

Debbie Dumaresq, Toronto

Your analysis of gambling activities in Canada is accurate and insightful. As a worker in the field of gambling addiction, I find it amazing that while our governments are enforcing hardline policies against tobacco, drugs and drunk driving, they are, at the


same time, energetically promoting an activity as addictive and as lethal as VLT gambling.

Serge Drolet, Montreal

The grapevine

Of course I blame Don Cherry for the sad state of our beloved game of hockey in Canada (“Is Don Cherry what’s wrong with Canadian hockey?” Cover, May 18). But I also blame the CBC who, for purely pecuniary reasons, allowed him to continue to publicly expose his acute xenophobia long after it became evident that he was in over his head. I also blame our major junior hockey program that insists on recruiting and developing, al£ most exclusively, big, rough, slow § and dumb players for the NHL I also 1 blame minor league managers and Ú coaches for screwing up the heads of d eight-, 10and 12-year-olds with their £

North American win-at-all-costs phiCherry: a human being just like the rest of us

losophy. I also blame the media for continuously describing and showing too few positive highlights, preferring instead to show close-ups of big brutes injuring smaller players. But most of all I blame a country that has slumped so low as to have created a need for its citizens to make heroes of such wretched personalities. To those wonderful European athletes now leading almost all NHL categories, my apologies for the abuse they have taken from players goaded by Cherry and company. And my sincere thanks for providing us with glimpses of what a great game hockey can be.

Jean Paquette, Hull, Que.

Despite his poor taste in clothing and usedcar salesman banter, Don Cherry is a Canadian folk hero who, unlike many Canadians, has the courage to say what he thinks, regardless of how unpopular that opinion may be. Cherry is not what is wrong with hockey in Canada, but rather it is Canadians’ overly sensitive manner that is what is wrong with Canada.

David Waddell, Kyoto, Japan

The suggestion that Don Cherry is what is wrong with Canadian hockey is ridiculous. This view is not even remotely close to the real problem. Minor hockey is the real problem, and if we don’t hurry up and fix it, we are going to continue to cry about our lost Canadian game. When are people going to realize that we cannot continue to take children and brand them good or bad at the tender ages of 7 and 8. More and more kids are sick of the sport when they reach age 14 or

15, and quit playing when they are starting to realize their potential. Children’s hockey should be structured for fun, with skill development the top priority, followed by a gradual move to competitiveness.

Steve Evans, Saint John, N.B.

One of my earliest memories as a kid is seeing Don Cherry driving to his jet-black Elm Drive, Rochester, N.Y., home. We knew he was the Amerks coach, and we followed him up the driveway to say hello. He’d say “Hi” back, and, reaching into his trunk, would hand us a hockey stick. I wish I still had one of them. Canada is far better off for letting one express opinions rather than to squelch them. What’s best for hockey? Well, as a hockey dad and coach, I have to say that it’s a caring, nurturing, patient, teacher of fundamentals. I tell my boys: have fun, develop a work ethic to learn, and practise excellence; a champion is one who works for something larger than himself. I like Don Cherry and enjoy listening to him. I don’t agree with all his ideas, but so what? I can still remember him looking down on me and smiling. He’s a human being just like the rest of us.

Joel Montione,

Rochester, N. Y.

As the mother of an aspiring hockey player, I wish to add my words to your recent article about Don Cherry. The kids in hockey hang on his every word. Hockey could teach our kids many valuable lessons for life. However, when one of the heroes of hockey is someone who advocates such things as


fighting and is against foreign players in the NHL—an un-Canadian attitude—that is extremely unfortunate. He may increase TV ratings, but our children and their futures are worth more than the ratings.

Loreen Husband, Dauphin, Man.

A few years ago, I used to enjoy watching NHL hockey. Now, I only watch international players who play with finesse and skill while our players are taught to be belligerent, brutally physical players. Don Cherry’s Rock ’Em Sock ’Em approach to playing left our men out of the medals at Nagano, Japan, and the 1996 World Cup.

Marion Harvey, Kamloops, B.C.

Banking alternatives

After reading your article “Is bigger really better?” about the big bank mergers (Cover, May 4), it became crystal clear that it is time for Canadians to take a close look at a great alternative to the big bank—the credit union. Offering all financial services, community credit unions have and will always hold as their first priority the community in which they exist. People and community first. Sounds good to me.

Guru Raj Kaur Khalsa, Vancouver

On several instances, but most recently in “The challengers” (Business, April 27), Maclean’s has asserted that the two new merged banks, Royal Bank-Bank of Montreal and CIBC-TD Bank, will “control” 70 per cent of the country’s banking assets between them, leaving readers with the impression that there is little, if any, competition in the financial services industry in Canada today. According to Statistics Canada and other publicly available sources, those four banks now have a 31-per-cent share of all domestic assets within the private Canadian financial services sector. In

fact, there are hundreds of other companies that compete with Canadian banks, such as credit unions, caisses populaires, trust companies and mutual fund companies, foreign banks and nonbanks. Many other large foreign financial firms, like Wells Fargo, ING and Hongkong Bank have already carved out a significant presence, and others, like Countrywide Credit Industries Inc. (the North American leader in mortgages), are making plans to come—which is certainly good news for Canadians.

John McCallum, Senior vice-president and chief economist, Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto

The blood debate

Without blood products received from the Red Cross, many hepatitis C sufferers wouldn’t be alive today. Certainly, there was a great deal of negligence on the part of the Canadian Red Cross in not using available tests earlier, but before 1986 those tests were not considered reliable enough to screen the blood supply for hepatitis C. So how can one blame the Red Cross and expect compensation for tainted blood received before this date? I sympathize with those suffering from this illness, but a line must be drawn somewhere. The government cannot be expected to give money to everyone of ill health (“Turning on Ottawa,” Canada, May 18). Perhaps those diagnosed with hepatitis C from tainted blood received before 1986 should concentrate on the fact that they might not be here today had the blood supply not been in place.

Gabrielle Sher, Berlin, Germany

Israel and Palestine

There is no enigma about Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu (“The Bibi enigma,” World, May 18). He follows

slavishly in the footsteps of his predecessor, Yitzak Shamir, who maintained an impasse between Israel and the Palestinians for years with his stall, stall, stall tactics. In contravention of UN resolutions and agreements for more than 30 years, Israel under Netanyahu has become a pariah, intransigent, dangerous, and inflicting misery and oppression on the people of Palestine.

K. W. Johns, Saint John, N.B.

Letter writer Pete Byer is to be “congratulated” for showing us the kinder, gentler face of international terrorism in Hamas’s sponsorship of health clinics in Palestinian-controlled territories (“Politics and terrorism,” The Mail, May 18). As for Byer’s remarks regarding Israeli versus Palestinian armaments, no Palestinian bus commuters go in fear of Israeli terrorist suicide bombers, as far as I’m aware. Nor can I find even a putative Palestinian state threatened with complete destruction in Israel’s constitution. Please, stop sleeping with the enemy and renew your membership with the civilized world.

Warren Wilson, Toronto

Is the Auto Pact dead?

Canadian Auto Workers union president Buzz Hargrove, the anti-globalizationist and anti-free trader, did an about-face during the Daimler-Benz and Chrysler marriage (“Driven to merge,” Business/Special Report, May 18). According to assurances made by Hargrove, imported DaimlerChryslers would enter Canada duty-free. Does that mean the Auto Pact is now dead in the water? It seems hypocritical when the 6.7-per-cent duty is paid by buyers of Toyotas or Hondas and will not be paid by buyers of Daimler-Chryslers. By eliminating all tariffs, car buyers in Canada would have lower-priced Canadian and imported cars, higher car sales, and more money in their pockets to spend on other things.

Herman van der Veen, Oshawa, Ont.