The Mail

October 18 1999

The Mail

October 18 1999

The Mail

The Grey Owl legacy

You quote from the Ottawa Citizen, after Grey Owl’s death: “His attainments as a writer and naturalist will survive” (“Rediscovering Grey Owl,” Cover, Oct. 4). Perhaps he will survive as a naturalist, but his writings have been unfortunately ignored by the Canadian literary establishment. A check of several anthologies of Canadian literature for excerpts from his

writings turns up nothing. A fraud writing about beavers is apparently an embarrassment to the custodians of CanLit. Literature is surely an appraisal of texts, not personalities. Grey Owl deserves better.

Bill Plumstead, North Bay, Ont.

I am surprised that in your cover story you failed to note another intriguing connection between Pierce Brosnan, who plays Grey Owl in the film, and the role of an imposter. Brosnan first came to the attention of most Canadians in the television series Remington Steele, in which he played the role of a man with a dubious (though never fully explained) past who pretended to be the title character, a man who, like Grey Owl, never really existed.

Milton R. Best, Kitchener, Ont

“Truth and consequences” was

nicely written. However, as a greatgreat granddaughter of Archie Belaney, I noticed that a mistake was made. Archie Belaney’s first daughter, whom you refer to as Alice, is named Agnes. Alison Pollard, Wasaga Beach, Ont.

Free-market wages

Ross Laver is way off base (“Who’s greedy now?” Oct. 4). Greed and inflated salaries aside, you do not need to be an executive in this country to be disturbed by the new Canadian Auto Workers agreement with Ford. Executive salaries and benefits are negotiated in a free market based on these individuals’ education, skills, management acumen and their ability to attract capital and investment. And when they are discarded, they tend to be scouted and hired by other companies who are willing to pay competitive salaries for the rare skills they possess. On the other hand, who would hire an unemployed autoworker and match their pay and benefits?

Lance Boyle, Ottawa

Auto manufacturers rake in huge profits annually, thanks in very large part to the efforts of their labourers.

CAW members employed by the Big Three automakers in Canada simply want what they have earned. After all, without us, their profits would be nil. Thanks to Ross Laver for offering perspective to those who didn’t realize.

John F. Anderson, Windsor, Ont.

Books online

I wish to comment on McClelland & Stewart publisher Avie Bennett’s plea that Canadians not buy from Amazon.com as they will receive American editions of Canadian novels (“Bennett on books,” Opening Notes, Sept. 27). I agree that we, as Canadians, should support Canadian novelists and publishers, but in many cases the books Canadians want to buy are not available on Canadian Internet sites, or through our local book retailers. The Internet can be a valuable resource, and when time is crucial the easiest site to find will be the most used. Maybe this is a wakeup call for all Canadian companies in all industries: if you don’t provide the goods and services that customers want, they will turn to whoever can meet their demands, regardless of where the company operates.

Cathy Symons, Brantford, Ont.

Refugee care

I am an expatriate Canadian working in an African country. Even though I faithfully pay Canadian income tax (both federal and provincial) each year, as I am required to do, I have to apply each year to receive a child tax benefit and I am not entitled to receive free medical care when I visit Canada. For medical care, I am charged out-of-country rates, which I then submit to a private insurance company. Thus, I was surprised to read in “Canada’s open door” (Cover, Aug. 23) that people who claim refugee status immediately are eligible for free medical care and social assistance. Perhaps on my next visit to Canada I should jump into the St. Lawrence River and claim refugee status. I would receive more benefit from my tax dollars.

J. Greg Sinclair, Bamako, Mali

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: letters@macleans.ca Maclean 's welcomes readers' views, but letters may be edited for space, style and clarity. Please supply name, address and daytime telephone number. Submissions may appear in Maclean's electronic sites. E-mail queries about subscriptions or delivery problems should be addressed to: service@macleans.ca

Census records

As one of a handful of genealogists and historians leading the campaign on the Internet to have the federal government release post-1901 census records to the public after a reasonable period, I must express my disappointment with your cover story (“The search for roots,” Sept. 20). While the article was interesting and informative, I was dismayed to see that an issue affecting millions of genealogists in Canada and around the world was brushed over with a single sentence. For readers who want to ever see another census released in Canada, I would refer them to the Post 1901 Census Project Web site (¡www.globalgenealogy.com/census), where they will find an explanation of the problem. Gordon A. Watts, Port Coquitlam, B.C.

Your cover story has touched a chord with many family historians whose curiosity about personal ancestry has become a lifelong quest. However, one point should be clarified. The Univer-

sity of Toronto may be the first to offer accredited classes in the subject of genealogy, but the recognition for the first accredited program for certification in Canada should go to the Genealogical Institute of the Maritimes in Halifax. Daniel F. Johnson, Certified Genealogist (Canada), Saint John, N.B.

A U. S. monopoly?

So, Joanne Nelner has decided to pursue a masters degree in the United States as a result of boring lectures at the University of Saskatchewan (“When learning is dull,” The Mail, Oct. 4). I’m a little confused here. I’ve heard of students moving to the States for opportunity and higher wages, but now to read that our dear neighbours have a monopoly on interesting lectures as well? I’m currently studying for a

master’s degree and am pleased to report that I haven’t fallen asleep yet. And if I do, will I pack up the books and head south? Give me a break.

Glen Bornais, Ottawa

Foth’s island

I read my Macleans from back to front, avoiding the possibility of not getting to Allan Fotheringham’s page. While reading his description of life “on my island in the Pacific” (“No story here, boss,” Sept. 20), I had a feeling I had been there. It occurred to me that although he doesn’t identify his island, it is the same one that is the setting for author Bill Richardson’s Bachelor Brothers Bed dr Breakfast trilogy. It is all there, the deer on the dusty road, the bakery-deli, the characters, the parade and even a femme fatale. I can see the good

Dr. Foth hanging out with the eclectic B&B guests and carrying on ribald conversations with Mrs. Rochester, the brothers’ Bible-quoting parrot.

Robert Webber, Victoria

Postnatal care

“Home too soon” (Health Monitor, Aug. 23) refers to a Toronto study that finds sending mothers and newborns home soon after birth can be harmful to babies’ health. This study highlights the Ontario experience where, with early discharge, the readmission rate for babies increased to 11 per cent from 4.8 per cent. In Alberta’s Capital Health region, which includes Edmonton, we have not had a similar experience. Our newborn readmission rate is consistendy between two and three per cent, and our readmission rate for mothers is below 0.5 per cent. We believe our success has been due to our comprehensive community follow-up after discharge. Sheila Weatherill, President,

Capital Health, Edmonton

E-postal musings

I find it ironic that just days after reading “Canada Post delivers things really well” (“Going E-postal,” Business, Sept. 13), when I go to ask why a parcel sent from North Battleford, Sask., to Calgary has not been received three weeks later I am told that because I didn’t pay an extra dollar for a “traceable delivery” there is nothing they can do. Had I been asked if I wanted a “traceable delivery,” I would have been glad to pay the dollar, but I’m afraid next time I will use a courier, and not the one that is 96-per-cent owned by Canada Post. Elaine Cann, North Battleford, Sask.

I have been a letter carrier with Canada Post for the past 24 years and read your story about e-postal with great interest. For Canada Post, it’s the only

way to go, adapt or die. Canada Post has seen the writing on the wall. I wonder if the Canadian Union of Postal Workers has. If Canada Post’s predictions are true about sale revenues of online services and the decline in personal mail, only fools would think Canada Post would keep as many workers. Of course, CUPW will have a say, but what can it say if there is no hard mail to process? How can it justify all the manpower? If Canada Post does not go after online services, the private sector will just keep carving chunks out of the post office business. Unfortunately, some of my co-workers would rather not have anything to do with computers and just stick their heads in the sand and hope the big bad Internet goes away. Things are going to change very fast for Canada Post and I would rather be working for Canada Post than not working at all. John Simon, Port Colborne, Ont.

Heartening coverage

In a sea of accounts about the difficulties and challenges we live with every day as aboriginal people in Canada, I was heartened by the Sept. 27 cover and its assertion that “a new generation of native Canadians stakes its claim” (“Move over”). As chief of an Alberta First Nation and chairman of the federal National Aboriginal Economic Development Board, I can tell you that considerable efforts are being made across the country in building the capacity of young people. This is an investment that is clearly paying off, particularly in areas such as business development and in creating a new generation of aboriginal entrepreneurs. Macleans is uniquely positioned to provide information to a wide audience both inside and outside Canada. I am pleased you chose to use this position to carry some “good news” about aboriginal achievements, along with stories that offer considerable hope for the future.

Chief Roy Whitney,

Tsuu T’ina First Nation, Alta.

It’s difficult to reconcile the worlds of old and new at anytime, but with native North Americans it is especially hard. I work in corrections and am native myself, and it is extremely hard to deal with the disproportionate number of natives in prison and stay positive. Our parents were pivotal in creating the climate for change and the breaking of cycles. Yes, they made some colossal mistakes, but given the mess they started with, its surprising that they could even begin to overcome the inertia created by the governments of the day.

Barry French, Pinawa, Man.

Airline assets

At what point do Canadians who don’t just look on Canada as full of assets to be sold to the neighbours start to have input into the discussion about the airline sale (“Flying the flag,” Business, Oct. 4)? At what point in the sale of Canada does Canada stop being

Canada? When can we stop Canadians from selling Canada and blaming it on “NAFTA says we can”? There are many ploys being used: the Trojan horse, where American Airlines supplies 60 per cent of the money and only wants 13 per cent of the equity and Gerry Schwartz says that the airline will stay Canadian; and the muddy-water trick, where an American, Air Canada’s CEO Robert Milton, plays the nationalism card, while a Canadian, American Airlines CEO Donald Carty, criticizes the nationalistic stand. Considering that the neighbours have been caught with their hands in the cookie jar, and desperately want a way out, maybe now well get some reaction from our government of capitulation.

René Moreau, Toronto

The minister of transport has said two alarming things: first, “We will protect the public interest,” and second, “We want a Canadian solution.” Canadians no longer want the government trying to protect their interests other than in a very few strategic areas. Protection means some type of artificial interference, which is put in place to substitute or simulate the effects of natural unrestricted competition in an industry. There are too many examples of the government not being equipped to adequately protect the public interest. The recent fiasco with the blood industry is a prime example. Wanting a Canadian solution ultimately means spending millions of taxpayer dollars in order to support the idea that the airline industry is owned and operated by Canadian citizens. This is somehow felt to be important insofar as the average Canadian is concerned. I don’t think that is the case at all. Canadians want to be transported by air safely—that is their paramount concern—and beyond that, they want the best fares possible and reasonable availability of service.

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

Peter C. Newman prefers to fly the cozier, down-home airlines (the ones extinct or in the red) (“Gerry Schwartz has the right stuff,” Sept. 13). The multi-

award-winning Air Canada is “impersonal.” Yet, he then sings the praises of Gerry Schwartz. Takeovers are definitely not impersonal and are headed by people who are definitely not cozy, but obviously, according to Newman, Schwartz is different. Out of the goodness of his heart, he will save Canadian Airlines. He will relieve the burden from Ottawa. Thanks, Gerry, is there anything we can do to repay you? Here, take Air Canada. Want a fluffier pillow while you’re in bed with the feds? How about a beautifully framed picture of all those families who will be left jobless in this deal?

Heather Goodfellow, Green Valley, Ont.

Jewish superiority

In writing wistfully about antiSemitism, Barbara Amiel has Thomas Cahill on her side (“Jews and Sunshine.,” Sept. 27). The subtide of his book The Gifts of the Jews is How a Tribe of Desert Nomads Changed the Way Everyone Thinks and Feels. Well said. The Jews are superior for three reasons, mainly. They had to struggle to survive, their religious leaders could always marry and their heroes were not regularly killed in wars. Superiority brings envy and, sometimes, dislike. It is a price for success.

Russell A. Palmer, Vancouver

Maybe Barbara Amiel could “understand why the Jews have been hated with such persistence in so many cultures over so many centuries” if she could consider a few original seeds of the matter. How can a people who from their biblical start considered themselves as the “chosen people” avoid being singled out? And having set themselves in that marginal position of hard survival, the Jews became economic experts whose talents were soon largely exploited by gentile governments. How could they keep from being considered responsible and accountable for global economic disparities?

Gilles de La Fontaine,

Ste-Marthe-du-Cap, Que.