The Mail

The Mail

November 8 1999
The Mail

The Mail

November 8 1999

The Mail

Good health

The breakdown of

health, or sickness, statistics by city was a bit of a revelation (“The Vancouver way,” Health Report/Cover, Oct. 25).

Obviously, the advantage of Vancouver residents over those of, say,

Quebec City in terms of a greater enjoyment of life, and less consumption of tax dollars in sickness-care delivery, is lifestyle-related. By the sound of his comments, Health Minister Allan Rock is coming to the very simple conclusion that the way to constrain health-care costs in an aging population is to concentrate on prevention rather than cure. How to get a population to smoke less, eat right and exercise more? This is nothing more than a prescription for sport. Maybe Rock would like to work with his cabinet colleagues to see the report on sport in Canada—the Mills Report—implemented. This would in time produce a dividend of health and happiness money spent on treatment cannot buy.

Paul Collard, Board member, Canadian Olympic Association, Vanderhoof, B.C.

Your story on the contribution of our so-called West Coast lifestyle to the health of our citizens perpetuates the

Letters to the Editor

should be addressed to:

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illusion of specific etiology. Which is to say, there is never just one single factor or single cause of good health or lack thereof. Implying that there is, complete with your anecdotes of marathoners and other sports weenies, does not do justice to the complexity of human health. Maybe this kind of pill-for-every-ill logic, which has been used to sell everything from pharmaceuticals to jock-type lifestyles, is now being used to sell magazines.

Alan Cassels, Victoria

As a consultant, I feel “Unhealthy habits take a lethal toll” was somewhat ambiguous in its reporting of the area said to have the highest rates of heart disease in Canada: Sudbury, Ont. It is stated once in the article that Sudbury is a regional medical centre serving an area encompassing over 200,000 square kilometres across the northeast of the province. However, the article then discusses issues of health-service delivery from the perspective of the city proper, as if the city embodied the difficulties of this vast region, although it contains only slightly more than one-fifth of the population of the region. Your article provided excellent education on issues surrounding the difficulty of healthcare delivery in a large portion of northeastern Ontario. But focusing on the characteristics of the city of Sudbury in describing the public health of the area in question would be equivalent to focusing solely on residents of premegacity Metropolitan Toronto in a study of the health of the entire province.

Robert Barnett, Senior Analyst, Northern Health Information Partnership, Sudbury, Ont.

The cost of benefits

My eyes welled up and my lips started to quiver with emotion as I read how tough it was for Human Resources Development Minister Jane Stewart to leave her tony condo townhouse to walk the streets in search of adequate day care for her baby (“For the children,” Canada, Oct. 25). My wife and I are smallbusiness people with two skilled and highly motivated employees. When one goes on maternity leave, we are forced to hire a temporary employee who does not have the determination or commitment to the job or the company. The business suffers substantially, as this temp knows that he or she will be there only for a few months, and now a year, if Stewart has her way. Once again, small business, the backbone of the economy, gets screwed. In the future, if a man and a woman of equal qualifications apply for the same job would I hire the man? You betcha. In a heartbeat.

John A. MacEachem, Schömberg, Ont.

The Reid debate

While you quote me accurately in your cover story on Bill Reid (“Trade secrets,” Cover, Oct. 18), you fail to convey the great admiration for Bill that I expressed. It is true that I experienced my share of frustrations while assisting in the production of Bill’s sculpture, but I have never claimed, to you or anybody else, that anyone other than Bill was the sole author of those works. Since the publication of your article, a corporate strategy appears to have been unleashed to protect those who have invested in Bill’s art against questions regarding its authenticity. That strategy, it seems, is to try to discredit those artists who worked for Bill and were interviewed for your story. Sarah Milroy, whose mother, Elizabeth Nichol, was Bill’s Vancouver dealer, is one who appears to have adopted this tactic. Writing in The Globe and Mail, she has taken aim at me and other artists who worked in Bill’s studio, claiming we have shown “disloyalty and lack of compassion”

towards Bill. She claims, inaccurately, that I provoked your exposé, portraying me as an ungrateful beneficiary of Bill Reid. I can only interpret her attack on me and my peers as an attempt to stifle discussion of the issues you have raised—discussion that risks eroding the investment value of the pieces her mother sold. The flurry of articles defending Bill in the wake of your article has prompted me to reflect on the halftruths peppered throughout the growing literature on Bill Reid. If your piece leads the establishment to acknowledge the difference between artistic collaboration and the role of the signature artist as author, then perhaps some good will have come from it.

George Rammell, Vancouver

For Sale: soap carving. Inspiration by Bill Reid and Macleans cover story: thus a small plaque featuring only Reid’s name appears on the carving. Real authorship, me. Price $100,000. Serious offers only need apply.

Ronald A. Kurki, Sardis, B.C.

Having read your article on Bill Reid, I am perplexed by the antagonism and invective in response (“The art world goes on the attack,” The Forum, Oct. 25). The article is honest, fair and carefully researched. It raises important questions about creativity, the nature of art, and art as commerce. You have bravely introduced an unsettling conversation and debate that is long overdue. In fact, the article has done exacdy what we rely on art to do: provoke us to think.

Mary Macdonald, Vancouver

I did not know Bill Reid. I do know his works. I also know the works of Michelangelo and Rodin. I know that all three of these artists had help making many of their pieces and that this procedure is normal, acceptable and necessary. There is a great deal of difference between collaboration and guidance, and it is the latter approach that I would imagine is the appropriate term for what would have been the studio relationship between artist and helpers with

all of the aforementioned sculptors. I cannot speak of Reid’s relationship with others, but I can emphatically state that his works are marvels of creation and that they will live on as his own original creations. He was the sculptor no matter who held the chisel or the rasp in their hand.

Prof. Neil Fiertel, Department of Art and Design, University of Alberta, Edmonton

I found the article on Bill Reid fascinating and informative. Of course, many of us know there are often people in the background helping to bring a creation to completion. What left me most disturbed at the end was the question of authenticity: the deceit. The idea that much of Bill Reid’s work towards the end was not his but those rallying around him was upsetting to say the least. And the audacity, calling himself a Haida supporter on one hand and treating them like second-class citizens by not acknowledging their talent is appalling. It seems to me, in the end, it’s all about money, not art, and certainly not integrity.

Judith Shaver, Toronto

If 1 wanted to read trash like the article on Bill Reid, I could buy the National Enquirer. I expect more from Macleans. W. P. Birge, Victoria

Looks and leadership

1 read with dismay Barbara Amiel’s put-down of Joe Clark (“Canada’s leftwing batde,” Oct. 25). She begins the column by saying that Joe is a “silly person” whose face reminds her of a chicken. Clearly, Joe can do little to compete visually with the rugged, angular looks of her husband. On the other hand, Joe can compete with her husband (or anyone else on the current political scene) in formulating the policies that Canada needs for the future. One of Joe’s strengths (and perhaps one of his weaknesses) was that he identified issues important for Canada before they registered on the general public consciousness. It was the Joe

Clark government that first identified the need to tackle high and rising deficits and first laid out the need to privatize Crown corporations. It first demanded that social programs be set up on a sustainable basis. Finally, it was Joe Clark who decided to put the country’s interests before his own by resigning from the leadership of his party rather than lead a divided party into an election. Personally, I would rather take my chances on a principled leader than on a charismatic or popular leader lacking of vision.

Paul McCrossan, former MP, Toronto

Amazed, indeed aghast, though I am at the cut-glass precision of Barbara Amiel’s memory after all these years, I must correct her on one point—tiny to anyone who doesn’t labour in the stunted vineyards of the printed (magazine) word, rather larger to anyone who does. Or did. Everything she writes about George Jonas, his motorcycle feature, the prime minister of the day and my comments after the piece appeared sounds absolutely correct (and this some 20 years ago), but she errs in describing me as the editor of The Canadian magazine at the time. This is elevating me presumptively to the peerage. It would have been nice, I guess, but the truth is I crave this less than others. So the record should show that I was merely the managing editor, underling to Ann Rhodes, known to some as “the browneyed mistress of the keys,” and to all as The Editor, and a very fine one.

David Cobb, Toronto

Auto Pact complexity

I do not expect Macleans editor-inchief to give a dispassionate analysis of Canadian policy towards the magazine industry, and his Oct. 25 piece lives up to expectations. His comment that “Canadian cultural policy can be stranger than a TV drama” certainly rings true and is equally applicable to Heritage Minister Sheila Copps’s failed efforts to further protect Macleans from foreign competition. But he is way off base in saying that a recent World Trade Organization ruling has, in effect, “shut down the historic

Canada-U.S. Auto Pact” (“A hot issue the government ignored,” From the Editor, Oct. 25). He is not alone. Many others have failed to grasp that this ruling attacked only one small element of the legislative scheme devised in the 1960s to implement the Canadian Auto Pact. Its basic provisions—having to do with duty-free trade in vehicles and parts between Canada and the United States— were not at issue and remain in place under the umbrella of the FTA and NAFTA. The arcane provision of which the WTO disapproved was originally conceived as a means of avoiding the hassle of getting a waiver from the GATT contracting parties for the 1965 bilateral free trade agreement between Canada and the United States on motor vehicles and parts (the Auto Pact). The U.S. government obtained such a waiver, allowing it to discriminate openly against other GATT members in favour of imports from Canada. Unfortunately, another unintended consequence of the Canadian Auto Pact regulations was that, by their sheer complexity, they were doomed never to be well understood by the popular press in Canada.

Lyle Russell, Ottawa

Beavers of Argentina

Regarding your article “Big bucks for beavers” (Opening Notes, Oct. 25) where you quote filmmaker Bill Carrick as saying, “I did some research and discovered that in the 1940s some Argentinian decided to make some money selling beaver pelts, so he got a couple from Saskatchewan.” To set the record straight, it was my grandfather, Tom Lamb of The Pas, Man., who transported 20 live beavers, all caught near Moose Lake, Man., to Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, in 1946. Furthermore, it was the Argentinian government that contracted him to relocate the breeding pairs for a fur-bearing investment. Too bad they hadn’t first realized that the majority of the bridge supports in their country were constructed of wood. The rest, as they say, is history.

Tracey Lamb Kirouac, Grande Prairie, Alta.