The Mail

The Mail

December 20 1999
The Mail

The Mail

December 20 1999

The Mail


I enjoyed reading the hopeful news for people who are unable to have desperately wanted children (“Making babies,”

Cover, Dec. 6). Can you imagine the joy of spineinjured men who are now finding medical help in becoming fathers? One couple I know have their long-hoped-for child, at last—twins, as it turned out. The parents are coping well, enjoying every moment of precious family life together, seldom thinking of the long tortuous route that was necessary to achieve this miracle.

Marty Shultz, Thornhill, Ont.

As I read your article on reproductive technology, the following question occurred to me: why couldn’t these infertile couples adopt a child? The child would be given a new lease on life, and the parents would have a child. It seems to me that this solution would reduce, if not eliminate, the need for unethical medical research.

Tipper McEwan, Trail, B.C.

Thank you for the thorough cover story. I would like to respond to Ottawa fertility specialist Dr. Art Leader’s comments that “there is nobody in Health Canada who has any experience with

Letters to the Editor

should be addressed to:

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these technologies, and they are not asking for advice.” I have found quite the opposite to be true. I’ve met several officials who have a great deal of knowledge and experience with these issues; who have taken the time to consult with individuals and groups about their experiences and concerns; who have attended public conferences and seminars (as well as organized them); and who have been open to listening to all points of view. As well as studying in-depth Canada’s own royal commission recommendations, they have also consulted extensively with experts from other countries and examined systems in other parts of the world. Still, our government officials have a very complex task ahead of them. It’s time for everyone involved to stand behind them and work co-operatively together to create a system that is fairly balanced among the medical profession, the people and the government. Most important, they must support a system whose priority is helping the new families created through new technologies.

Shirley Pratten, New Reproductive Alternatives Society, Nanaimo, B.C.

The depth of personal pain from infertility goes beyond words. Add to that the complexity of new and existing reproductive technologies and you have a recipe for a multilayered serving of many debatable issues. If laws and regulations are so important for these treatments, why then is infertility not a worthy reproductive medical problem for provincial health-care coverage?

Justine Espenant, Executive Director, Infertility Awareness Association of Canada Inc., Ottawa

Human suffering

I am deeply saddened by the situation in Chechnya, where thousands suffer because of the choices of a few (“The train to nowhere,” World, Dec. 6). Why is the world so silent at this time? Is it because Chechnya, unlike Kuwait, has no oil? Or is it because there is no danger of economic instability in the surrounding region, as was the case with Kosovo? While I am sure the situation is not easy to understand or address, surely the human suffering should cause us to respond. Although the United Nations assures us that Canada is the best place in the world, this does not give us the right to ignore those less fortunate. Where is the compassion? Why are we silent?

Rinus Janson, Grande Prairie, Alta.

‘Ramsay: resign’

Singlehandedly, Jack Ramsay has smeared not one, but two Canadian icons that are held in the highest of esteem—a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer and a federal member of Parliament. How can he sit back, fail to resign his seat and still feed at the public trough? He has been convicted by a jury of peer Canadians of attempted rape of a 14-year-old native girl (“Ramsay: the story of a Mountie,” Canada Notes, Dec. 6). Does he understand that? Is that not enough for all Canadians never to hear of him again?

Paul D. Myles, Toronto

The unity issue

Prime Minister Jean Chrétiens recent decision to take the unity debate back to centre stage (“The scrapper’s fight,” Canada, Dec. 6) has both minuses and pluses. On the minus side, the perennial doomsday pundits will assail his desire to rock the boat. They will wish he remained silent and, if they are federalists, hope the debate will be won by default or by the separatists shooting themselves in the foot. On the plus side, you have the decisiveness of a person

now willing to tackle this debate head on and to talk back to the separatists in a manner they have not been used to recently. The separatist cause is based on misinformation and deceit and must be addressed on a logical front and also on an emotional front, in a manner so well practised by the Parti Québécois. In Chrétien, Canada has a person who is a Quebecer and a staunch federalist, a combination best suited to the unity cause. His stance should be supported by all of us who wish to see this debate come to a finality, with the resultant removal of the prevailing uncertainty, once and for all.

Abid Salman, Ile Bizard, Que.

So Jean Chrétien considers his offer to write the question for the next Quebec referendum proof that he is a hardliner. I beg to differ. A hardliner might say: “You are not breaking up my country. Period.” A hardliner might suggest that any individual who does not desire to be Canadian simply emigrate. A moderate might agree that this country can be divided by referendum, but only if each Canadian has a vote. Only a separatist or a fool would concede any one province the unilateral right to secede. David Lowther, Victoria

Jesus and churches

The cover story “Jesus at 2000” (Nov. 29) highlights the diversity of the Christian church in Canada. Unfortunately, the church has not always respected its own diversity. That is why the countrywide bell-ringing at noon local time on New Year s Day, to which you refer at the beginning of your article, is significant. It is a project ofTogether 2000, a historic first joint effort of the Canadian Council of Churches and the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, two groups that have not always respected each other, but who together represent most Christian traditions in Canada. Churches without bells are planning other kinds of joyful noises, including aboriginal drumming coast to coast and north to the Arctic Circle, music by the inner-

city poor in Toronto, and thousands of others. Bells are a traditional call to prayer, and in a world where divisions so often lead to bloodshed, these bells will signal a moment of prayer, solidarity and goodwill within Canadas largest religious community.

Carolyn Whitney-Brown, Co-ordinator, Together 2000, Toronto

Your article ignores the fact that many Canadians (especially young Canadians) understand that all gods are makebelieve and that religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it, good people will do good things and evil people will do evil things.

Raymond Blessin, Kamloops, B.C.

As a retired Anglican clergyman, I was disappointed with the title of your story “Jesus at 2000,” which awakened high expectations. In fact, the article was not about Jesus but about churches. They have always been changing, and some have not survived change, but He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Rev. Leonard Griffith, Toronto

In “Jesus at 2000,” his name appeared just four times in a 10-page story and there is only one passing reference to what he stood for. And I challenge the assumption that Christian churches are alive with the spirit of Jesus in 2000. Walter Hayes, Toronto

Jesus Christ and the comedian Tom Green (“Shocking Green,” Television) mentioned together on the cover of Macleans is the clearest sign yet of the coming apocalypse.

Paul Makulski, Waterloo, Ont.

I am responding to a letter from John Granic who stated Christianity would not have to reinvent itself if prayers were answered once in awhile (“Christian challenge” The Mail, Dec. 13). Perhaps this gentleman is unaware that God does hear you when you pray and He does answer all prayers, but sometimes the answer is no. Could it be that Mr. Granic is the one who is not listening?

Jo-Anne Trepanier, Pickering, Ont.

‘Al s Ontario’

Shame on Dr. Foth. Surely he knows that his usually poignant cynicism relies on a modicum of detachment. His feelings about Ontario and its premier are far too personal to be of any critical value to his readers (“Beware Mikey’s Ontario,” Allan Fotheringham, Nov. 15). And, really, what Vancouverite wouldn’t trade Hastings for Bay—even on a good day? Harry McKeague, Toronto

“Beware Allan’s Ontario” is what we should be saying. I presume Fotheringham has enough knowledge of law that he would know that the proposed penalties for the littering and obstructing offences now committed by squeegee kids, drug users and hookers are maximums only imposed in conditions involving repeat or serious offenders. These days, you don’t get six months in jail for offences with far greater consequences, even though the maximums for some of those are numbered in years. Are we to assume that even this mild, graduated form of penalty is not acceptable in Allan’s Ontario? Is littering with dangerous and filthy objects acceptable? Is intimidation and harassment all right as well? Ours is a beautiful city, one I’m tired of being made less so by the gradual acceptance of antisocial behaviour. I, for one, am angry when my wife and daughters are intimidated and frightened by these people on dark street corners. I’m tired of seeing used condoms and needles littering school grounds to be found by our children. What about the rights of the great majority of us who work each day and provide the tax base for social and other programs—and just want to go about our lives unhindered? Michael Boothby, Oakville, Ont.

1 congratulate Allan Fotheringham for laying the issues on the line. I totally agree with his statement that many of our elected officials with their “vacant stares” should not be lined up with the likes of Alberta’s Peter Lougheed, Saskatchewan’s Tommy Douglas or even Quebec’s René Lévesque. Where are our future statesmen? Then again, the claim “we get the government we deserve” once again rings

true. Perhaps, the voters of Ontario will become more aware of the government they have chosen.

Perry Kalynuk, Virden, Man.

Get rid of the YOA

“Death of a dream” outlines the spectre of teen violence manifested in the beating death of Dmitri Baranovski (Canada, Nov. 29). The mind-warping overdose of violence on television, at the movies and in video arcades is coming to its natural conclusion. With exposure to senseless violence coupled with the “licence to kill” inherent in the Young Offenders Act, these sorts of incidents are almost predictable. And, unfortunately, they will continue to escalate. That is, until a government with guts and foresight gets rid of the YOA. All the social analyses and politically correct words of the experts will do absolutely nothing to stop these thugs. They should be tried as adults, and some real teeth should be put back into our legal system.

Lewis D. Jackson, Barrie, Ont.

Raising fears

Once again, with no particular reason, Barbara Amiel launched a savage attack on Islam and Miuslims (“The Christian war against Israel,” Nov. 22). The issue I want to highlight is her phrase “Though the adversary of Christianity is Islam.” I find that a clear invitation to violence towards me as a Canadian Muslim living freely in a Christian society. I wonder if I, or one of my family members, gets assaulted, do I blame the attacker, or do I blame the media?

Amro Gamal, Ottawa

Colours of freedom

It was with great interest that I read “Underground to freedom” (Letter from North Buxton, Nov. 29) about the origins of the black community that settled in the town of North Buxton, Ont. I spent my whole childhood within half an hour’s

drive of that village and only heard passing references to it. Finally, in October, I took the time to visit the museum, view the film, see the artifacts and visit the original schoolhouse that is waiting to be refurbished. It was a glorious autumn afternoon filled with the glowing oranges and golds of nature, and I could only image how overcome with emotion the first former slaves must have felt arriving at this safe haven.

Annette Lalonde, Toronto

Farm-aid alienation

The article “Anger over farm aid” (Canada Notes, Nov. 8) contains factual errors so large you could drive a Flexi Coil air seeder through it. The much-touted $900 million is not just for Prairie farmers, or for just one year. It is a national program for the 1998 and ’99 crop years. Although Saskatchewan has one-half of Canada’s farmland, Saskatchewan’s share of the ’98 program has only amounted to $100.7 million to date. Meanwhile, Quebec has already received a $116.7million direct transfer under the program, no strings attached. It is actions such as these that fuel the fires of western alienation and separation. Until consumers wake up and realize their best interests are served by strong family farms, the corporate agenda will proceed uninhibited, ramming unwanted genetically modified organisms and hormones down their throats. Eventually, all consumers will pay a heavy price for their lack of attention. Don Voss, Spiritwood, Sask.

Chretien’s stand

Reading Anthony Wilson-Smith’s column “Ottawa’s odd couple” (Backstage, Nov. 15), I was most annoyed at his generality: “The Prime Minister’s more hardline stance is just fine with most other Canadians.” I won’t suggest percentages, but I feel that there are many Canadians who are sick and tired

of Chrétiens stance towards French Canada. We are so fortunate to have a country of such diversity and the Prime Minister ought to be interested in reconciliation rather than constant confrontation.

Phyllis Swaren, Ottawa

Facing down Castro

Thanks to Bruce Wallace for pointing out the bravery and resultant moderate success of the governor of Illinois, George Ryan, in facing down the obstinate Fidel Castro of Cuba (“A time for tough talk,” Nov. 22). Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy, please take note.

John Metcalfe, Greely, Ont.

‘Interesting irony’

Regarding “A vanishing memory” (History, Nov. 15), about forgotten Canadian soldiers who fought in the South African War a century ago, and “When kids go hungry,” the excerpt in the same issue from Mel Hurtig’s book Pay the Rent or Feed the Kids, about the pervasiveness of poverty among Canada’s children—I’m a Canadian, and I hang my head in shame.

R. S. Huntley, Harrow, Ont.

I found the contrasting articles “Tax breaks for techies?” (Canada, Nov. 15) and the excerpt from Mel Hurtig’s latest book an interesting irony. If members of the Information Technology Association of Canada want a tax break, why don’t they consider making substantial charitable donations to a registered charitable organization that looks after the feeding of poor children? If such an organization is not in place, then they could put their considerable energies lobbying for a tax cut to better use by helping to set up such a charity. At the top tax bracket, a donation would probably save more than any rate cut, and do more good in the long run.

Malcolm A. Shaw, Calgary

Remember the victims

The Montreal Massacre should never be forgotten (“A stain that will not fade,” Canada, Dec. 6). This heinous crime is unique in Canadas history as a blight on the love and respect we have for our fellow citizens. I still remember the horror that engulfed me the morning I heard of the massacre at the University of Montreal’s Ecole polytechnique. The one thing that grates on me each year, however, is that the media immortalizes the murderer by continuing to name him. Isn’t it time that we stop naming him and just refer to him as the cowardly perpetrator of a violent and senseless crime against innocent, defenceless women? Let us remember his 14 victims instead, and pray that we as a society will never forget their names.

David W. McKibbon, Cumberland, Ont.

What the media fail to comprehend is that Marc Lépine is not all Canadian men. He is no more representative of Canadian men than Karla Homolka (convicted of manslaughter in the deaths of two teenage girls in Ontario) is typical of Canadian women. Every year, the media and feminists lump all men in the same category as Lépine. Will they change their approach to this tragedy and finally understand that we men are not all Marc Lépines? Not so long as the media can use this tragedy to sell advertising and the feminists can exploit those 14 dead women to get government guilt grants.

J. Kirby Inwood, Toronto

‘A finite ranking’

Over the past five years in Winnipeg, I have been privy to the satisfaction at my own institution about our consistent middle-of-the-pack performance in Macleans annual university rankings (“Measuring excellence,” Cover, Nov. 15), and the wailing and moaning at Winnipeg’s other university, the University of Manitoba, about their consistent bottom-of-the-pile performance (this year being a notable exception). However, now that the University of Saskatchewan

has dropped a rank, I read an exhortation that Saskatchewan “does not receive the recognition it deserves” (“Universities,” The Mail, Nov. 29). I have often heard University of Manitoba faculty and staff make the same sort of claim. I would like to remind everyone, regardless of the validity of the criteria selected and the accuracy of the measurement, that in a ranking of a finite set of institutions, someone has to be ranked last. Let’s keep in mind that that doesn’t mean the institution is a poor university, nor that no one should ever attend it. Relative rankings have to be properly understood.

Norm Gall, Lecturer, University of Winnipeg, Department of Philosophy, Winnipeg

Using such criteria as highest entrance requirements and most tenured professors, Macleans continues to reward exclusivity and completely misses the mark in its ranking of Canada’s universities. As someone who had a thoroughly enjoyable academic experience at the University of Manitoba (periodically ranked poorly by Macleans), and is currently enjoying study at Ryerson Polytechnic University in Toronto (another of your bottom-feeders, despite its overwhelming success in the reputation category), I have come to see the survey as little more than an illinformed, poorly researched insult. Fiftyone weeks a year, Macleans distributes an informative, relevant and well-crafted magazine. Every November, however, its elitist roots begin to show.

Chris Epp, Toronto

An artistic award

The article “Trade secrets” states that a silver box by Haida artist Bill Reid “won the Saidye Bronfman Award” (Cover, Oct. 18). In fact, the Saidye Bronfman Award for Excellence in the Crafts is presented to an artist in recognition of the full scope of his or her work. In Reid’s case, the jury considered a full artistic history and slides of major work dating back to the 1960s.

Stephen Inglis, Director General, Research and Collections, Canadian Museum of Civilization, Hull, Que.