The Mail

July 20 1998

The Mail

July 20 1998

The Mail

Debating 'The 100'

Your cover story made for very interesting reading, but it did have many flaws, not the least of which was its treatment of women. You found room for 16 women among the 100 most influential Canadians: two of these were fictional characters; one, a Nation Builder no less, was singled out because “she gave her husband perspective and contentment”; one was a fortune-teller; one was a scam artist in the mining industry; and one was chosen because she had sexual liaisons with Tory cabinet ministers. It seems to me that this paltry collection of women can only be explained by the limited resources used by your research team. There is no shortage of remarkable women in Canada.

Dana Hearne, Simone de Beauvoir Institute, Concordia University, Montreal

Your panel seems to have confused “important” with “admirable.” An important person is one without whom this country and the world would have been immeasurably dif-


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ferent. But how would things be different today if Georges Vanier had never existed? He was a casualty (along with about 30 million others) of a war that had nothing to do with Canada, he was a governor general (a ceremonial post of little consequence), and, gosh, he was a really nice guy, too. Call him the most perfect Canadian if you must, but the most important? I thought you were trying to show that Canadian history was interesting. Yawn.

Morgan Burke, Vancouver

I was very pleased to see that one of the most important Canadians in history was Reginald Fessenden. It has been an irritant to me, as a broadcaster,

that such an amazing Canadian is virtually unknown to the great majority of the citizens of this country. Although the article did not specifically mention it, the reason nearly a century of radio information and entertainment has been available is because this scientist gave radio its sound. Before that, the only sound was the click of a Morse code key.

Willard Bishop, Kentville, N.S.

Congratulations on a very fine article, “The 100 Most Important Canadians in History” (Cover, July 1). It is such a joy to see famous Canadians displayed this way. Perhaps we can now rename places like Mount Washington on Vancouver Island something like Mount Gould. This article made me, once again, proud to be a Canadian.

Harry McTaggart, Langley, B. C.

A 'pathetic life'

There are thousands of individuals in the world working and contributing to the advancement of society. You could choose to chronicle the contributions of any of these people, which would help your readership’s understanding of how society advances. Unfortunately, you chose Albert Walker and the age-old primitive themes of death, deceit and incest (“Death and deceit,” Cover, July 6). Telling the story of the pathetic life of Walker contributes nothing to your readership.

Marc R. B. Whittemore, Kelowna, B.C.

A native Montrealer

I was born and raised in Montreal. I am not a sovereigntist. I do hope Quebec will remain in Canada. But when I read comments like William Johnson’s about the anglophones’ language rights in Quebec, it outrages me (“ ‘Pit Bill’ unleashed,” Canada, July 6). I do not understand what the anglophones are complaining about, at least the ones who live in Montreal. You can lead a perfectly normal life if you’re an anglophone in Montreal. There is everything you can think of: English newspapers, radio and TV stations, hospitals, universities, colleges, theatres, libraries, pubs, etc. In some areas, it is even difficult to find French-speaking people.

To my knowledge, there never was a better-treated minority in Canada than the anglophones in Quebec, particularly in Montreal.

Emmanuelle Notebaert, Coquitlam, B.C.

'Brain-drain' stats

The chart headed “The brain drain,” attributed to Statistics Canada (“The tax wars,” Canada/Special Report, June 8), may have left the wrong impression with your readers about the migration of professionals into and out of Canada. It illustrates immigration flows into and out of Canada within five professional groups between 1990 and 1995. However, it was not made clear that the numbers published in the chart relate only to the exchange between Canada and the United States. The numbers do not take into account the large flow of immigrants in natural and applied sciences, such as engineers, computer scientists, natural scientists and so on, into Canada from other countries. Furthermore, except in the case of doctors, the numbers presented in the chart are not much higher than those between 1986 and 1990. In other words, they do not indicate that the trend became significantly worse over time. We might also clarify the statement that “one-quarter of all Canadian doctoral students—the ‘best and brightest’—now leave Canada within two years of graduation.” It should be pointed out that almost an equal proportion of these graduates are foreign students. This raises the possibility that a considerable portion of the doctoral graduates departing from Canada may, in fact, be foreign students returning to their country of origin.

T. Scott Murray, Director, Culture, Tourism and the Centre for Education Statistics, Statistics Canada, Ottawa

Land of opportunity?

In your June 22 edition, The Road Ahead was titled “Land of opportunity?” In this article, the author whined that despite his impressive qualifications he could not find work. There is a very simple solution for someone as qualified as this, and which follows the approach that tens of thousands of immigrants have followed over the many years people have been coming to Canada: Start your own business. If the author is as good as he says, then he will find Canada is indeed the land of opportunity. If not, well, then perhaps the problem is not Canada.

Christopher Shore, Bucharest

The brain drain

Rarely mentioned in articles such as “The tax wars” (Canada/Special Report, June 8) and letters dealing with Canada’s taxation is the fact that we live in a larger country than the United States with about one-tenth the population. If we tried to run this country on the same rate of taxation as the States, we would have to reduce infrastructural services and our social programs drastically. It should also be recognized that at least

some of the brain drain, particularly in scientific fields, occurs because of reduced opportunities for new graduates because of government cutbacks to scientific research.

At Stevenson, St. Catharines, Ont.

Remembering Flora

I was glad to see Flora McDonald resurface in Opening Notes, June 15 (Double Take). Before that article appeared, I had hoped to hear she was again challenging the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party. I felt she was the best-qualified candidate in the 1976 leadership and was only beaten by her gender. Even today, I feel she is still the strongest candidate.

Dewey Cummins, South Hazelton, B. C.

The health report

I found your health report very enlightening, especially for what it demonstrated and did not explore (“The Maclean’s Health Report,” Cover, June 15). Politicians tell us that seniors account for a major share of health-care dollars. However, you barely

mentioned seniors in your report. In fact, the number 1 use of hospitals, according to your report, is pregnancy and childbirth and obstetrics—hardly a seniors’ issue. On the other hand, this use demonstrates that younger women will be bearing the brunt of hospital closures. Second, seniors have been described as the major group of “bedblockers,” who prevent the efficient use of hospital beds. But your report shows that the number 1 cause of bed-blocking is tonsils/adenoidectomy—again, hardly a seniors’ matter. I don’t know what’s more shameful in our country: the mythologizing or the reality.

Lillian Morgenthau, President, Canadian Association of Retired Persons, Toronto

“The Maclean’s Health Report” failed to address the benefits of parks and recreation as important determinants of a community’s health. Factors such as diet, education and income pale in comparison with affordable access to green space, active living and recreation. In the evaluation of where health dollars should go, federal and provincial authorities should look more closely at the role municipal leisure services play in keeping our overall health bill in check.

Gaétan Royer, Surrey, B. C.

Military conduct

Maclean’s is to be congratulated for the coverage of one of the darker aspects of life in the Canadian Forces (“Abuse of power,” Cover, July 13). Canadians have the right to be informed about the personal conduct of the members of the Forces. However, in fairness, your readers deserve to be informed of what measures the Canadian Forces have taken to address the issue of sexual misconduct among its members. The Canadian Forces are investigating cases of sexual misconduct, some of which go back a decade or more, through a process that operates independently of the chain of command. The investigations are and should be thorough; and, when required, justice is sought to bring closure to the incidents. The minister of defence, Art Eggleton, and Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Maurice Baril are proactive in their efforts to reach a level of zero tolerance and to ensure that members of the Forces are a national resource of which Canada can be proud.

Alain Pellerin, Executive director, Conference of Defence Associations, Ottawa

Tax calculations

John Getson falsely imagines that a flat income tax is significantly simpler than the progressive one we now have (“Is growth part of the problem?” The Road Ahead, July 6). In truth, a change from the current progressive tax to a flat one would eliminate exactly one subtraction and one addition from the overall tax calculation. Elimination of “the numerous loopholes and questionable deductions” would, of course, simplify things immensely. They could be removed and still keep a progressive tax. A flat tax would be just as difficult to compute as a progressive one. It would be great for the rich, but a lot less fun for the average taxpayer.

Philip H. Smith Jr., Waterloo, Ont.