The Mail

The Mail

November 29 1999
The Mail

The Mail

November 29 1999

The Mail


My friends and I were pleased to see our school, the University of Guelph, come out on top in the Comprehensive university category (“The winners,” Cover, Nov. 15). I felt a certain joy when I realized I could now tell my folks that I made the right choice in moving 300 km from Windsor to attend Guelph. One thing that I’ve noticed is sadly overlooked in the rankings due to the difficulty of its measurement is the interaction between faculty and undergraduate students. I came into university fearing the stories of professors who are only concerned with research, teach straight out of the text and are incapable of explaining what they mean. I have experienced none of that at Guelph. That’s one of the things that made me say I saw it coming when Guelph was ranked number 1.

Dariusz Grabka, Guelph, Ont.

As a student attending Mount Allison University, I wish to express my disappointment in the number 1 ranking bestowed upon the school for the eighth consecutive year. Although the benefits of an education received here in such a close-knit community are many, I believe that Macleans has underestimated the negative impact of several events over

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: 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:

the past year. The faculty strike cancelled three weeks of classes, widened the distance between administration and faculty, and left students wondering whether the school really cared about them at all. In my opinion, the Macleans university rankings have helped shift the focus of this school’s administration away from its current students and towards the recruitment of future classes. John Goudy, Sackville, N.B.

As someone who spent 40 years teaching at the University of Toronto —now retired—naturally I’m pleased to see the school rated so highly in your annual ranking. But your criteria don’t cover everything that matters. At Toronto, though you might not guess it from the calculatedly “diverse” faces shown smiling in the university’s glossy publications, some department faculties are not very open to women and non-whites. That does not fit well with my definition of a “great” university.

Jay Macpherson, Toronto

I am among the thousands of individuals who have the privilege of living in the most beautiful city in this country —Saskatoon, the “city of bridges.” The University of Saskatchewan ranked 14th out of 15 universities in the MedicalDoctoral category. This university, which is built like a castle and has a strong reputation for excellent programs, does not receive the recognition it deserves. I am a fourth-year commerce student and my goal is not to leave Saskatchewan and go to Alberta or Ontario where “all the jobs are.” The benefits of living in Saskatoon only add to the positives of going to school here. The cost of living is reasonable. Where

Healthy competition

I very much agree with Ross Laver’s view in his column “The air merger con job” (Nov. 8). Little is done to protect Canadian citizens’ interests. Soon we will have one department store chain, one airline company, one bank, one bookstore chain, etc., because few politicians or bureaucrats will stand up for consumers and say, hey, wait a minute, if we join these two companies they will have a monopoly. Who benefits from a monopoly? Not the consumers. The consumers have been let down by the competition bureau, which appears to rubber-stamp anything any major company wants to do unless people raise a stink about it, as with the banks. Competition? Novel concept and rare in Canada. We need to open doors, not shut them when it comes to competition.

Marlene MacDougall, Calgary

else can a student pay only $210 rent in a shared apartment, and feel safe walking home at 4 o’clock in the morning and not worry about being attacked? Students from the university are recruited by some of the top companies in the world, and many of us will be the leaders of the future. The universities in this Prairie province deserve proper recognition.

Kim Stewart, Saskatoon

Software and morals

Your article on the underground Internet had one very interesting statistic; pirated business software in Canada is estimated at 40 per cent compared with 25 per cent in the United States (“Beware the Internet underground,” Cover, Nov. 8). Does this have to do with Canada’s higher tax burden vis-avis the States? Are Canadians more likely to steal to make ends meet? At least we have lots of social programs but, alas, no morals.

Andy Kalbfleisch, Ancaster, Ont.

Your article smacks of fear-mongering and naïveté. I am not a consumer of pornography or pirated software, but

its painfully obvious that the Internet, the World Wide Web portion at least, is full of pornographic sites and pirated software. There are good, legitimate sites on the Web, too, but the real money has been made from porn. If Microsoft or Netscape had come up with a faster way to download files, your report probably would have been more celebratory in nature. Hotline, an unknown, discovered a file transfer accelerator and some of its clients have been of a shady nature. So what? The legitimate sites will follow. Universities will be thrilled with the idea of speeding data transfer, radio stations will enjoy richer broadcasts on the Net, and Hodine will improve. As long as it isn’t typecast by your magazine.

S. C. Beach, Edmonton

In defence of Bill Reid

I am shocked by the scurrilous article about Haida artist Bill Reid (“Trade secrets,” Cover, Oct. 18). Reid was truly a renaissance man, a fine writer and public speaker, a superb goldand silversmith and a great sculptor-carver

Bill Reid’s legacy

Much of the debate at a two-day symposium on the legacy of the late Haida artist Bill Reid, held this month at the University of British Columbia, turned on a Maclean’s cover story in the Oct. 18 issue. In it, Senior Writer Jane O’Hara detailed how many of the later works attributed to Reid were in fact executed by other artists, Haida and non-native. Most of the symposium participants defended Reid and criticized Maclean’s. Some of their comments:

Robert Davidson, a Haida carver: “Bill Reid has become the ambassador of Haida art, taking it beyond Haida boundaries. His work speaks for itself.”

Guujaaw, president of the Haida Nation: “Poor Bill must be the most

whose powerful line is unmistakable in the menagerie of Haida creatures and totems that he has left behind as a national heritage. All created with that rarest of qualities, delightful humour. The apprentices who met his high standards were lucky to be trained in his studio, and are now among Canada’s leading artists.

Edith Iglauer, Garden Bay, B.C.

‘Infamous criminal’

It is nice to know that male chauvinism is alive and well and living at Macleans. Your description of Karla Homolka is a case in point (“A killer mrns to the courts,” Canada Notes, Nov. 15). Her role in the sex slayings of two innocent teenage girls is well known and on tape. She should be regarded as an infamous Canadian criminal in her own right. Your description of her is then a trifle belitding: “The former wife of convicted sex killer Paul Bernardo.” Give her her dues. She herself is scum worthy of scorn and not just by association to her bad choice of mates.

Robert Graham, Aurora, Ont.

dissected thing outside of a lab. One thing I know is, the more you chop something up into litde pieces, the harder it is to recognize what it came from.”

Lavina White, Haida elder and wife of a carver: “How can he answer? Why pick on him now? He was a genius. Haida art is very demanding. How hard it must have been for him to be unable to do the kind of work he still had to do. The media have been very cruel to native people, and this is just one part of it.”

Diane Brown, a Haida language teacher from the Queen Charlotte Islands: “I’m sure he had many inner conflicts. I thought the more the inner conflicts raged, the more beautiful the art became.”

Jim Hart, a Haida artist and Reid assistant: “I held him in a light equivalent to God.”

Looking for news

Anthony Wilson-Smith is bang on. “The curse of ‘Me Journalism’ ” (Backstage, Nov. 1) is simply reflective of the me, me, me ethic in our age of celebrity. It is incumbent on all of us to go beyond such childish self-importance and self-centredness. Civilization proceeds best when individuals regard themselves as boring, and other people and other things as interesting. There is great irony here: true personal fulfilment, the true finding of self and true importance springs from losing oneself in other matters.

Wayne Joseph Kelly, Courtenay, B.C.

Anthony Wilson-Smith’s column makes a valid point worth noting. However, while skilfully skewering even some of his colleagues, WilsonSmith has yet again fallen soundly into the deeper abyss of “us journalism.” Journalists writing about journalism err in valuing the act of their writing over the unfolding of events that actually affect our lives. We common people outside of their vaulted sphere need no further record of their incestuous community. WilsonSmith should get out more.

David Foster, Mackenzie, B.C.

A family archive

I read with interest the article “In the tracks of adventurers” (The Maclean’s Excerpt, Nov. 8). My grandfather William Elliott, an architect in Brandon, Man., was present when the two young men reached that city. Our family history describes the event: “In September, 1912, a motor car reached Brandon driven by an Englishman and an American on a cross-Canada tour, the first to do so. The car was a 30horsepower Reo, manufactured in St. Catharines, Ont. It poked right along, highway or no highway. The diary of the trip noted that the two men left Portage la Prairie, Man., at

8:15 a.m. They got stuck for two hours in a slough and reached the Prince Edward Hotel in Brandon at 5:30 p.m. The two men were greeted by the mayor and local businessmen, including Will Elliott. Elliott was president of the Brandon Motor Club and he provided assistance to the young men by piloting them westward as far as Elkhorn, Man.” Gertie Kingdon, Oakville, Ont.

Paying off the debt

Wow! A surplus of $95 billion to spend—what a great federal government we have (“Tax breaks for techies?” Canada, Nov. 15). The first thought is, what surplus? That money is only available in part because the federal government stole money from pension funds (which should be put back immediately), cut transfer payments to the provinces and made other questionable cost-cutting measures. Second, how can we have a surplus when Canada has a multibilliondollar national debt? Surely any possible yearly surplus should go to paying that debt, which would save money servicing yearly interest on that debt. Third, how can taxes be lowered when we have such a huge national debt? This debt will never go away until it is paid off. Maybe taxes should be raised. Last, we the people are maybe the fools for not having installed a truly democratic government where voters have the power of recalling elected representatives. If this were so, we would probably not have a national debt.

Fred Cameron, Winnipeg

Health promotion

As a health professional (temporarily living in the United States) who has worked for years in the area of health promotion and disease and injury prevention, I was delighted to read your article (“The Vancouver way,” Cover/Health Report, Oct. 25). It

clearly shows that a health promotion approach can help us to understand the factors that contribute to the health of individuals and communities, and, on the other hand, to understand the factors that contribute to disease and illness. Knowledge of the problem is key

to moving forward to becoming a healthier Canadian population, but so is the commitment of resources. I was discouraged by federal Health Minister Allan Rock’s intangible comments about financial investment in health promotion. When he says, “What I want to

stress is I’m not suggesting taking money from where it’s needed in health care and diverting it into promotion,” he is really supporting the traditional belief held by many, including health professionals, that health promotion is an “add-on” to the health-care system, and is not an essential component in the health-care continuum.

Faye Skaarup, Colorado Springs, Colo.

We here in Saskatoon have long known that we are one of the best places to live in Canada, but this has been a well-kept secret. With ratings of second, third and fifth best in the published charts in your Health Report, this belief is reinforced. Thank-you for not mentioning us in the body of your report so that less-observant people will not flood in from less-healthy locales and distort our record. After visiting Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary, I return each time to lovely, little, healthy Saskatoon and count my blessings that the powers that be tend to ignore us. Robert Caswell, Saskatoon

Millennial challenge

“Where will you be at midnight?” (“Millennium countdown,” Cover, Nov. 1). Who cares? Yes, the millennium is a cause for celebration, but not because it falls on a certain hour on a certain day. The real reason is because it is a time for humanity to reflect on its triumphs and its failures. Our greatest triumph has been our survival in spite of our inhumanity. Our greatest failure has been the unwillingness of the gifted, the privileged, the rich and the powerful to share with those who have been less fortunate and those who have been disenfranchised. Why do we continue to see on the silver screen a constant barrage of malnourished and starving children thousands of miles from our homes? How long can we continue to live without making a collective, concerted and earnest effort to improve the world? So I say celebrate. Let’s get that millennium bug out of our systems, because we’ve got some work to do. If that other bug—the Y2K one—should send us all up in flames, we will deserve it.

Taxes and children

Mel Hurtig is to be commended for continuing to raise awareness regarding the plight of children who live in poverty in Canada (“When kids go hungry,” The Macleans Excerpt, Nov. 15). It was overwhelming to read about the little girl who was sneaking her younger siblings into the school lunch program, or the little girl who would not remove her boots because she had no socks. It is obvious that support is required for those Canadians who do not possess the necessities of adequate food, clothing and shelter. Those of us who live in comfort do not require tax cuts. Edith Gvora, Victoria

Mel Hurtig seems to think, contrary to general understanding, that there is indeed such a thing as a “free lunch.”

Not just a free lunch, in Hurtigs view, but also a free “breakfast, dinner and snacks to children in need.” To be sure, no child should go hungry. But using only the “Aspirin approach” favoured by Hurtig of spending unlimited taxpayer dollars to provide taxpayer meals, without dealing with the cause of poverty, would lead direcdy to large government deficits, escalating tax rates and greater job losses, which, in turn, would exacerbate the degree of poverty. What needs to be done is to improve the economic health of Canada, and therefore all Canadians, by reducing (or eliminating) job-killing taxes and by reducing the onerous tax burden now placed on Canadian workers. Work is the antidote for poverty. Coincidental with these tax reductions should be heightened programs to retrain Canadians whose skills are no longer in demand and to educate

prospective parents about the very serious responsibilities they (not government) have to their children—providing the necessities of life.

George Coleman, Ottawa

On reading Mel Hurtig’s “When kids go hungry” about the two children, one four, the other five, sneaking into the school to eat, I thought of how shortsighted and mean spirited we had become in our preoccupation with the deficit. I also thought of the Jesuit expression, “Give me the child for the first seven years, and you may do what you like with him afterwards,” recognizing the importance of early childhood in the development of the adult, and the nation. Bruce Smith, Burlington, Ont.

Life in Ontario

Allan Fotheringham’s column “Beware Mikey’s Ontario” (Nov. 15), in which he called our elected Ontario government some unflattering names, turned me completely off. Fothering-

ham forgets that our present government was voted back for a second term with a majority for keeping its election promises the first time around.

Henning Raven, Ajax, Ont.

Allan Fotheringham, you are my

hero. Thank you for your on-target review of life in Ontario, for squarely displaying some of the miseries of living in Ontario under its present government. An unfortunately large group of people here are so busy running their businesses, they are not yet conscious of the fact that Ontario’s government is like a speeding-out-of-control time clock running backwards.

Paula VanderWeyden, Niagara Falls, Ont.

The new CBC head

Congratulations to Bob Rabinovitch on his appointment as CBC president and CEO (“The CBC’s new boss,” Canada, Nov. 1). Ever since I set foot on Canadian soil some 40 years ago, the CBC was and still is my staple,

first in radio, later in television. My uneducated advice to the new president: keep The National at 10 p.m., keep all public affairs programs, and please find sponsors to broadcast the Formula One race events again.

Wolf Arnold, Mississauga, Ont.

Gratuitously speaking

In Robert H. Pines’s letter about the recent speech by U.S. President Bill Clinton at a conference on federalism in support of an undivided Canada, he states that Clinton “has gratuitously chosen to express views favouring one faction in a friendly foreign country over another” (“American intrusion,” The Mail, Nov. 15). With all due respect to Pines’s gratuitous attempt to have a go at Clinton, since when did a democratically elected government— fully supported on the issue by three of the elected opposition parties in the House of Commons, whose position is that Canada should remain united as a country—become a faction, to be

equally compared with a diminishing number of citizens in one province who want to break up their country in the name of independence for that province? Canada had far more to fear from American intrusion when we had a prime minister whose sycophantic fawning to the United States was the stuff of legend—that would be when George Bush was president.

Margaret Fern, Shaunavon, Sask.

Character flaws

An otherwise fine review of William Osler: A Life in Medicine (“Model doctor,” Books, Nov. 8) was marred by a gratuitous value judgment: that Osier was “a man who seems uncommonly good, with only one character flaw— smoking.” Really, now. I’ve been a pipe smoker for 50 years and it has enriched my life greatly. I’m sure the lady that I live with, a non-smoker, could find character flaws in her companion, but the pipe isn’t one of them.

Tomas Feininger, Quebec City