The Mail

September 28 1998

The Mail

September 28 1998

The Mail

Crash aftermath

It was not without empathy that I heard the news of the Swissair disaster at Peggys Cove, N.S., yet any tragedy of this magnitude always seems a little removed from everyday life. The morning after receiving my Maclean’s, I read: “The final signal for that action from the cockpit to the crew seconds before impact would be the code words ‘Brace, brace,’” (“Lost in the depths,” Cover, Sept. 14). In that moment, I lived as one of the victims and I cried for them. Thank you for reminding me of what true empathy is, as we are all connected, not only through tragedy, but in every day of our lives.

Karen Schulman, Toronto

In “A terrible toll” you wrote that on May 7, 1944, the Royal Canadian Navy frigate Valleyfield was sunk with her entire crew.


should be addressed to:

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777 Bay St.,Toronto, Ont. M5W IA7

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That is not correct, for if it were, I would not be writing you. My father, Stanley C. Tapson, is one of 38 survivors of that torpedoing.

C. Drew Tapson, Milton, Ont.

Learning abilities

The regular classroom is still predominantly verbal, linguistic and logical-mathematical in its teaching style (“Why kids can’t read,” Cover, Sept. 7). These styles work well for approximately one-third of all children, but with diminishing returns for children with other learning styles. Our own work in literacy has shown that when a learner’s style is taken into account, all can succeed. We do not subscribe to the disability myth. We promote a giftedness paradigm that asserts that all children have gifts and talents. In our view, we know more than enough to educate all children successfully. For those who are labelled into back rooms, it is a lifelong sentence to failure. And the no-money argument is very thin. We already spend hundreds of millions cleaning up and warehousing people who have been systematically failed by education. We can and must do better.

Dr. Marsha Forest, Director, Centre for Integrated Education, and Jack Pearpoint, President, Inclusion Press, Toronto

Your picture of the “normal” and “dyslexic” brain misleadingly suggests a neurologically based cause for specific reading disabilities. This correlation can also go in the other direction—poor readers, or even fluent readers faced with challenging reading material, will expend more and somewhat different energies in reading compared with fluent readers dealing with easy material. As readers are given less-challenging reading, activation patterns change. Such pictures of the brain look impressive, but explain little of the causes and nature of learning disabilities.

Teresa A. Ukrainetz, Assistant professor, department of speechlanguage pathology and audiology, University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyo.

We feel you missed an important part of the story by not reporting on the status of postsecondary education for Canadian students

Breaking it gently

Sorry to break it to the big guy, St.

Louis Cardinals baseball player Mark McGwire, but he is actually taking a steroid (“Popping the muscle pill,” Health, Sept. 7). Androstenedione is just one of hundreds of steroids that originate from the gonads and adrenal glands. I suspect Dean Pipher of MuscleTech Research & Development knows that too; otherwise, he should get to know his product line a bit better. As for Pipher’s quote that he is “offering an alternative to steroids that is somewhat natural,” let me remind him that good of testosterone is 100-per-cent natural too.

Rob Lofstedt, The Atlantic Veterinary College, Charlottetown

with learning disabilities. To date, services to postsecondary students with learning disabilities in Canada mirror those of the school system—disparate, insufficient and discontinuous. With 45 per cent of all jobs created expected to require more than 16 years of education and training by the year 2000, it is imperative that students with learning disabilities aspire to and have the option to attend college or university. Postsecondary institutions must be prepared to provide programs that ensure these students have a chance for academic success and they must begin now.

Lex Wilson, Jane Drover and Lynne Owen, The Meighen Centre for Learning Assistance and

Research, Mount Allison University, Sackville, N.B.

I would liken the development of a child to that of teaching someone to play the piano. If that piano is not properly tuned, then no matter how innovative the teacher, one is not going to get the desired outcome. Simply discovering a new way of evaluating the poorly tuned piano—the brain with magnetic resonance imagery—does not confer understanding. Cognitive and emotional dysfunction results from exposure to material that our biology can’t properly metabolize: moulds and chemicals from poorly constructed and/or furnished buildings, inadequate lighting, heavy metal toxicity, as well as exposure to pesticides, PCBs, dioxins, industrial chemicals, and, above all, poor quality food and the wrong food. For our children’s sake, we must address these real issues and stop looking for Band-Ad solutions advocated by the profit-making pharmaceutical industry.

David J. Forgie, Rothesay, N.B.


In defence of K.C.

As we waited for the opening bars of an all-Mozart evening performed in July by the New Brunswick Symphony Orchestra in the beautifully restored Imperial Theatre in Saint John, my sister mentioned that she saw one of K. C. Irving’s sons in the audience. That triggered a memory of a passage in the biography K.C. by Douglas How and Ralph Costello telling of efforts to bring the old Imperial back to life in all its glory. When he was retired and in his mid-80s, K. C. Irving was consulted by his sons who had been approached about restoring the Imperial in a project that would bear his name. “Do they want some money?” he asked. “Probably,” he was told. “Well, give them some money on the understanding that they keep my name off it.” And, of course I thought of it again when I read a letter signed by three Irving sons (“K.C.’s integrity,” Aug. 17) in response to an article that sounded like an act of vengeance from Peter C. Newman (“How could K. C. Irving make the list?” The Nation’s Business, July 13). Canadians have a long history of shooting down their heroes: next we’ll hear that Laura Secord was a Yankee comfort woman.

Edward W. Barrett, Montreal

Occupational health

It was refreshing to read the article “Unwell and untreated” (Health, Aug. 10). Too often, the media have chosen to show one side of the issues of mental illness, often to the detriment and further stigmatization of many people. An important issue was raised regarding the provision of make-work versus real work for persons with a serious mental illness. Previous policy (still practised in many places) sought to occupy persons with a mental illness with a variety of mundane and meaningless tasks. These practices aimed to meet a human need to be involved and to make use of mind and body. However, what these practices failed to offer, and what Ontario Council of Alternative Businesses does address, is the need for all persons, regardless of impairment, disability or handicap, to be involved in meaningful occupation. Positive media attention that focuses on the strengths and capabilities of persons with a serious mental illness will help to lessen the ongoing stigmatization and, I hope, will enlighten society to the many social issues faced by consumers and/or survivors in the advent of hospital restructuring within Ontario. Political will is needed to encourage a flow of dollars out of bricks and mortar and into the hands and pockets of those who need it.

Karen Rebeiro, Sudbury, Ont.


Dollars for doctors

The question “Should MDs control health spending?” (Health Monitor, Sept. 14) is absurd. We need a more holistic approach to health care in this nation, including keeping our population healthy and out of hospitals and doctors’ offices. Doctors are only one segment of the team of health-care workers and so should not be the decision-makers.

Hattie M. Dyck, Truro, N.S.

Welcome back

I am a fan of Allan Fotheringham, but I wasn’t concerned when I learned he had cancer of the prostate (“As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted,” Sept. 14). Only the good die young.

Bob Thompson, Victoria

I’m glad that Fotheringham is back. Like many Maclean’s readers, I have missed his fresh viewpoints on the Canadian scene. A few years ago, after my bout with breast cancer and its treatment, I read a witty Fotheringham column concerning the idioms with which we discuss various diseases. He seemed to think it strange that we use the terms of the battlefield when we describe the big “C.” I have but one question of the Foth: now that you have crossed over into what has been called “that other place,” do you not feel you’ve been at war?

Dee Pankiw, Elk Point, Alta.

Dr. Foth, how dare you? Those of us who open our Maclean’s to the back page first have become accustomed to being educated as well as entertained. How disappointing that you “not only didn’t know exactly where the prostate was, [you] didn’t know what it did.” I still don’t know. Why didn’t you tell us?

Milt Schindel, Peterborough, Ont.

A friend, indeed

I was astonished to read of former deputy prime minister Don Mazankowski that “despite being elevated to the ruling Tories’ inner circle, he never became a personal friend of Brian Mulroney” (“Double take,” Opening Notes, Sept. 7). Former prime minister Brian Mulroney named Don Mazankowski as minister of transport in his first government, paying no heed to the fact that Mr. Mazankowski had opposed his two leadership bids. Mr. Mazankowski

then went on to become deputy prime minister, minister of finance and held key leadership roles in cabinet. As well, he was Mr. Mulroney’s seat mate in the House of Commons. During their decade-long association, the Mazankowskis were regularly included in public and private celebrations at both 24 Sussex Drive and Harrington Lake. If Don Mazankowski ever had a better personal friend than Brian Mulroney in his political career, I would dearly love to know his name.

Senator Marjory LeBreton, Ottawa

T ho Road Ahead

An indivisible Confederation

The recent ruling of the Supreme Court of Canada about Quebec’s right to separate gives the federal government the opportunity to end the dispute about Canadian unity peacefully and forever. The court ruled that Quebecers have the right to secede, but cannot do so unilaterally. A logical consequence of this ruling is that the citizens of all provinces have the right to separate. At any time, now and in the future, citizens of every province can destroy the Confederation of Canada.

For that reason, the federal government should offer all Canadians the following options in a nationwide referendum:

A: To renew their province’s membership in the Confederation of Canada and to give up the right to secede.

B: To negotiate the conditions for independence.

Unless the rules are changed, such provincial decisions seem to need only simple majorities of 50 per cent plus one. But I believe that we can expect an overwhelming support for an indivisible Canada from coast to coast, including in Que-

Berend Jonkers


bee. There, the voters have already twice rejected a sovereign Quebec in spite of confusing referendum questions and the disappointing fact that since 1982 our lawmakers have tried in vain to create a new Constitution.

In the unlikely case that citizens of a province chose option B, they would have to make a final decision at a later date, once the conditions for independence were determined in negotiations involving the federal government and the leaders of that province. (In consultation, of course, with important segments of both those societies.) The voters would then have the choice to make their province either a sovereign state under the agreed-upon terms, or—once again—a member of an indivisible Confederation of Canada.

The advantages of this approach are obvious. All Canadians would decide their future. And there is a great chance that all provinces in the nationwide referendum would opt for an indivisible Confederation of Canada. Such an outcome would bring an end to a long nightmare.

The Road Ahead invites readers to advance specific solutions to Canada's political, social and economic problems. Unpublished submissions may run condensed as regular letters or appear on an electronic bulletin board.