The Mail

Nuclear big leagues

June 15 1998

The Mail

Nuclear big leagues

June 15 1998

The Mail

Nuclear big leagues


All the caterwauling and sanctimonious demands for trade and aid sanctions against India and Pakistan for exploding nuclear warheads reek of hypocrisy (“The ‘Islamic bomb,’ ” World, June 8). The Western democracies are falling all over each other trying to drum up trade with China, a country that not only has nukes to spare, but denies its citizens basic human rights. Russia, also, is a most-favored nation when it comes to trade even though it is armed to the teeth and unstable to boot. Unless the United States is prepared to scrap its own atomic arsenal, in the interest of creating a nuclear-weapons-free world, it will continue to be ignored by developing countries determined to play in the military major leagues.

William Bedford, Toronto


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Mahatma Gandhi must be turning over in his grave. That the country that produced Gandhi would be the new purveyor of Armageddon—I’m afraid I’ll be sleeping less well at night.

Alain Kolt, Morden, Man.

India and Pakistan have spooked the existing nuclear powers who believe they have an exclusive monopoly over such weapons. There is no doubt that sanctions will cause setbacks in these countries, but they also might serve as an impetus to their people to pull up their socks, work harder and not depend so much on foreign aid. Still, I hope one day there will be a mutual defence treaty like NORAD among India, China and Pakistan, and that none of these countries will have to channel their limited resources to testing nuclear weapons, de-

prive their people of the basic necessities of

life and contaminate their environment for decades to come.

Suresh Kurl, Richmond, B.C.

Defensive manoeuvres

Despite my personal experience described in your May 25 cover, “Rape in the military,” I do not believe that sexual harassment, assault and/or rape are any more prevalent in the military than in any other cross-section of society. Unfortunately, the old adage holds true in the military as it does anywhere else: a few bad apples spoil the bunch. For all that is written in an article, there is much left unsaid from the interview once it is edited. I had hoped that your coverage would show that

there is a real need to focus on the investigative and trial process. I was fortunate to have had extremely supportive and professional military police investigators, but found the court martial process traumatizing. Anyone considering joining the military should not be unduly alarmed by the unfortunate stories of a few. A military career can be a very rewarding venture, and I hope those inclined to put themselves above the law will be prosecuted, retire or think twice.

Capt. Catherine Newman (Ret.), Orleans, Ont.

As a then-single servicewoman posted to Camp Wainwright from 1990 to 1995,1 take exception to your allegations regarding the safety of the base and Battle School in 1994. All recruits, regardless of gender, are subject to a curfew while undergoing training. As for the sentries and soldiers with pickaxe handles, it simply did not happen. For five years, I called the base my home. I walked freely around it any time of day or night, often alone, and not once felt my safety in jeopardy.

Cpl. Dorothy (Lightbody) Holdaway, Upper Sackville, N.S.

I have spent more restless nights as a result of your articles than at any other time in the 38 years I served in the Canadian Forces. On the one hand, I congratulate you for making the public aware of a major problem in the military. On the other hand, I deplore, indeed, consider it irresponsible that your editor would make statements that the situation in the Canadian Forces is so bad that a servicewoman “needs a male goon to get justice” and that “legions of women have declined to come forward” (“A wake-up call for the brass” May 25 and “The Forces have a problem” June 1). Equally, his solution to the problem—“a small blue-ribbon panel of three independent-minded people, with a mandate to tour the country in the next two months to hold hearings”—is cute, but of no practical value. This is the worst possible time for the Canadian Forces to have another independent inquiry. “Independentminded” to me means that those three members will not have the slightest idea of what the challenges in the military are really like. Also, it implies a mistrust of the incumbents. If your editorial policy is to give a balanced view, then it must give the military some credit for being able to deal with its problems.


The e-mail started within hours of the publication of the May 25 cover package, "Rape in the military.” The flood included letters from military women who decided to reveal their experiences of sexual assault after reading similar accounts in the magazine. A second cover story, “Speaking out,” generated even more mail. Within three weeks, Maclean’s received 150 letters. Several writers criticized the magazine for bringing the military unfairly into disrepute. Others volunteered to be interviewed or offered praise, including one woman who wrote: “I feel better knowing that I am not alone.” Maclean’s reporters are preparing new stories, but the magazine also has put several willing callers in touch with investigators anxious to reopen their cases.

Lt.-Gen. J. K. Dangerfield (Ret.), Kelowna, B.C.

I commend Maj. Dee Brasseur for speaking out about sexual harassment and for all the groundwork that she has laid for women in the Canadian air force (“Speaking out,” Cover, June 1). I would, however, like to set the record straight regarding Snowbird tryouts. Pilots serve two years on the team with half being replaced each year. The remaining pilots are the selection committee for the following year’s applicants. I was on the team during one of Dee’s attempts to get a tryout, and in that particular year we had approximately 80 applications for the eight positions. During the selection phase, we looked at everything from flying/personal evaluation reports, experience, physical fitness to compatibility with the existing team members. With so many applicants and such a large talent pool to choose from, we selected the eight that were, in our opinion, the best possible pilots to “fly off” against each other for the four positions. Gender was never an issue, only ability.

Joe Parente, Snowbird 2, 1986-1987, Hong Kong

Part of the reason for the low morale in the armed forces is the full integration of women in combat units. The idea of females fighting side by side with males is mind-boggling to anyone with any experience of war. Thousands of Canadian women served overseas in the Second World War, but not in combat. If they want to be at the front and in the fighting forces—and some of the

toughest sergeants I ever met were in the Canadian Women’s Army Corps—they should have their own units. That would solve all the present problems. Putting female and male sailors in a submarine where there is no privacy is the sort of idiocy that could only come from a defence department subverted by the politically correct. If women want to be submariners, they should have their own submarine.

Peter Stursberg, West Vancouver, B.C.

Tempest in a hospital

In 1990,1 rode my bicycle across this great country and found tremendous anger at former prime minister Brian Mulroney and the premiers for promoting the Meech Lake accord without consideration of the opinions of the public. I experienced that same anger in Ottawa in recent weeks over the appointment of David Levine, a onetime separatist candidate, to head the new Ottawa Hospital (“Condition critical,” Canada, June 1). As

both the Bloc and Parti Québécois advocate destruction of this great country, that makes them traitors in my opinion. It is frustrating that there is nothing we can do except withdraw our financial support to the hospital.

Peter M. Jones,

Gloucester, Ont.

As an Ottawa resident who has recently spent many months in a Montreal hospital because the specific medical services I required were not available in Ottawa, I am amazed at the shortsightedness of my fellow citizens who claim that they will no longer contribute to our newly amalgamated hospital because of the Levine affair. Don’t they realize that their contributions are an important element in allowing our local hospitals to purchase leading-edge equipment and provide a broad range of healthcare programs? Or would they simply move to the nearest major centre where such services are available—which, in this case, just happens to be Montreal?

Alan Robinson, Ottawa

Worst marine disaster

I have greatly enjoyed your recent articles on the Titanic, both on the real and the Hollywood version, and in particular the auxiliary article on the SS Atlantic in the June 1 issue (“Revisiting a seaside graveyard,” Travel). However, I must point out that neither the Atlantic nor Titanic ever held the “dubious honor of being ‘the world’s worst single-vessel marine disaster.’ ” That distinction belongs to the steamship Sultana, which exploded on the Mississippi River on the night of April 27, 1865, while transporting over 2,400 Union soldiers home after their release from Southern prison camps at the end of the Civil War. Of that number, approximately 1,800 died, nearly 300 more than on the Titanic and three times the number on the Atlantic. As documented by Jerry 0. Potter in his book The Sultana Tragedy, there are many

reasons that this greatest of all maritime disasters has remained relatively obscure. First, timing. This disaster occurred within weeks of the end of the Civil War, the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, and the subsequent killing of John Wilkes Booth, relegating this major event to minor status even at the time. Second, social standing. The victims were largely sons of Midwestern farmers and artisans—no East Coast aristocrats to command attention. Most important, however, was the fact that the irresponsible events leading up to the tragedy implicated the army, major manufacturers, and several state and federal officials, including Lincoln himself. Perhaps, in time, this subject will be made into another blockbuster movie, or, more likely, as with Amistad, will again demonstrate that films about ships with poor passengers don’t sell.

William Shookhoff, Toronto

For sale by owner

I read your article “Lower fees for the asking” (Personal Finance, May 18) with glee since I have sold my home twice without the help of a real estate agent. It is no harder to sell on your own than to sell through an agent. The trick is to always have the house “show ready”; the other trick is to ask for a realistic amount. People are under the misconception that you have to have a real estate agent for legal reasons. Regardless of using an agent or not, you always need a lawyer. Real estate agents are simply the salespeople.

Julie Preston, Aurora, Ont.

The price of freedom

Robert Lewis’s editorial “Playing petty politics” is on the mark (From The Editor, May 18) except for his mention of “more than 5,000 French-Canadians” who were killed or injured in Canada’s war effort. The exact figure is difficult to give, but the total would be much closer to 10,000 if one considers that for every man killed, there were close to and sometimes more than three wounded. The casualty lists to

which I have had access as a professor reveal that in the four French-speaking infantry units at the “sharp end” in battle, about 1,300 officers and men were killed and close to 4,000 were wounded. This excludes the hundreds of French-Canadians who served in non-French units, such as the North Shore (New Brunswick) or Ontario’s Essex Scottish regiments. It also does not take into account those who served in non-infantry units, such as artillery, armor or support services. The navy had its share of such fatalities, as did the air force. The freedom Quebec Premier Lucien Bouchard enjoys, along with his cohorts who would destroy this country, was bought at a heavy price paid by Canadians of all kinds.

A. Gilbert Drolet, La Salle, Que.

Gambling economics

The articles on casinos were timely for those of us in British Columbia (“The curse of casinos,” Cover, May 11), where the zeal of the provincial government to tap gambling knows no bounds. Is this the legacy we are passing on to our children? Our social programs are being propped up by

whatever savings we can squeeze out of people. Whatever happened to the concept of government showing leadership?

Bill Lillicrap, Chilliwack, B. C.

I still cannot understand why casino gambling is such a problem. I live in Niagara Falls and before the casino, this town was sinking faster than the Titanic. Things are booming now. In the end, I guess, time will tell. Until then, let the city prosper and keep our citizens working and earning a living.

Paul K. Lemire, Niagara Falls, Ont.

Don Cherry's hockey

Don Cherry (“Is Don Cherry what’s wrong with Canadian hockey?” Cover, May 18) has reduced our national sport from a game of skill, speed and finesse to bush-league hockey. We have to get back to the basic skills of the game and make it so everybody can participate, not just the Don Cherry crowd from his bush league.

Darryl Tedford, Penticton, B. C.

Don Cherry has said he will ban foreign hockey players on his Ontario Hockey League Junior A team. How different is that from the CRTC saying that all radio stations must play at least 30 per cent Canadian music? The CRTC quota is meant to help Canadian artists. Cherry is doing the same thing. He is giving hardworking Canadian hockey players a chance to play in a league that helps them towards a career in hockey.

Terry Wilson, London, Ont.

What people like about Don Cherry is he is not afraid to speak his mind. The audience is keenly aware that he is not being told what to say by the people who pay him. The CBC deserves much credit for keeping Cherry on the Hockey Night in Canada broadcasts.

David Laurie, Calgary

Don Cherry hit a new low on April 11 during the Edmonton-at-Calgary game. During a break in the first-period action, he interviewed Alberta Premier Ralph Klein who was sitting in the stands. As the interview concluded and the puck dropped, a fight broke out, prompting Cherry to say that hey, there’s a fight on the ice, this is great. I wondered what kind of message kids would take from that remark in an age when Canada supplies unskilled, slow-footed goons to the NHL, while Europe provides the Jaromir Jagrs, Daniel Alfredssons, Alexei Yashins, Pavel Bures, Teemu Selannes, Mats Sundins, Peter Forsbergs, etc.

Bill Marshall, Mississauga, Ont.