The Mail

The Mail

February 15 1999
The Mail

The Mail

February 15 1999

The Mail

Pension savings

How dare Maclean’s publish a voice of reason in the debate about pension savings (“The RRSP scramble,” Cover, Feb. 1)? Thankfully, you gave pension expert Malcolm Hamilton the opportunity to proclaim what many Canadians have deduced, that raising a family and paying off the mortgage come first before considering extra pension funding.

The continual bombardment advising us to invest in RRSPs tends to incite frustration and despair. Hamilton’s advice also seems reasonable because retirement allows us more time to continue with the same leisure activities at no extra cost.

Thoughts of a lifestyle change, such as touring the world, should be countered with the fact that age often brings a desire for home comforts, a stable environment and a reduced interest in some activities. Travel and adventure are wonderful when one is young.

Colin Hendry, Richmond, B. C.

Finally, someone to reassure us that retirement doesn’t look so bleak without maximizing an RRSP. It’s refreshing to get a point of view from a pension expert rather than a banker or financial specialist. You can rest assured I won’t be losing any more sleep worrying about my retirement.

Suzanne Snell, Garden Bay, B. C.

Cultural battles

It takes every effort available to limit American domination of our daily lives. We are inundated with their culture: sports, entertainment, politics and religion. Kudos to Heritage Minister Sheila Copps and her


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stand against American attempts to dump their recycled magazines with a Canadian content label (“Raising the stakes over magazines,” Canada, Jan. 25). Having lived in the United States for 15 years and received my university education there, I have an understanding of their desire to saturate the world’s consumer market with their culture. Don’t let it happen or we will be just like them. We are different and it does not take much to figure out how or why.

Jon McCormick, Lone Butte, B.C.

I’m usually in agreement with Charles Gordon’s columns, but not this one (“The new challenge threatening culture,” Another View, Feb. 1). He states: “Most of the cultural community consists of struggling musicians, artists, actors and writers who, far from trying to impose their tastes on anybody, just want to make a living in their own country.” The same could be said about most struggling Canadians, including plumbers, electricians, store clerks, etc. I believe most Canadians expect to make their living by producing a quality product or service, not at the expense of other taxpayers by virtue of government subsidies and regulations. The magazine debate has little to do with culture and a lot to do with ensuring a profit for the shareholders of Canadian magazines. Unfortunately, the Canadian culture we’re trying to protect seems to be only defined as “anti-American.”

Al King, Calgary

In a country with a highly educated population, at a time when it costs more to attend a hockey game or other sporting event than a symphony or the theatre, when it costs more to outfit a child to participate in a hockey league or to go downhill skiing than to take music or art lessons, the idea of a “cultural elite” seems anachronistic. In my view, the elites are composed of wealthy athletes, their promoters, team owners and the corporate elite who benefit from subsidized boxes for viewing them. As one who appreciates the arts, I feel I have as much right to expect our government to protect them as those who request massive infusions of public funds to protect our national sport from being taken over by the Americans and/or Europeans. Why is it considered to be of public benefit to subsidize sports palaces to

'Lighten up'

Since Maclean’s announced my forthcoming demise (Double Take, Dec. 7, 1998), my experience has stunned me. An old macabre joke comes to mind—“when you die, your hair and your toenails keep growing but your telephone calls fall off." I know why. People don’t know what to say. At the end of a conversation, the word “Goodbye" takes on an ominous meaning. “How are you?" is fraught with a different implication, now asked hesitantly. May I offer a word on behalf of we who have cancer. Please, lighten up. For myself, I am simply leaving on an earlier flight than planned. The last time I checked, everyone else is booked. A few friends who went through what I am now experiencing said: “Call anytime when you want to talk.” That works.

Frank McGee, Toronto

watch overpaid athletes, but not arts centres to view performances by underpaid dancers and musicians? The anti-elitist attitude Gordon analyzes may mask an ulterior motive. Perhaps it is preferable to have the masses view sports but not the arts, for the latter stimulate thought and debate about the world we live in and influence our attitudes.

Patricia Scott, Perth, Ont.

Canada's trade

Canadians should pay attention to the British securities trader quoted by Ross Laver in “The death of nationalism,” Qan. 25). Without the euro, the trader says, Britain risks becoming “the Canada of Europe—marginalized and dull on the outside of a great trading bloc.” The Free Trade Agreement and the North American Free Trade Agreement leave many non-tariff barriers to Canada-U.S. trade in place, chief among them exchange-rate risk. As long as these remain, Canada will miss out on its fair share of new manufacturing investment, as well as corporate head office and R and D activity. Talk of currency union or regulatory harmonization sends our political class and


A computer failure last week unfortunately deleted many letters to the editor sent by electronic mall between Jan. 1 and Feb. 3. We invite anyone who e-mailed letters in that period to resend them.

intelligentsia retreating into denial mode. This is because globalization and continental integration represent a threat to their power and prestige. I fear that our elites’ desperation to remain big fish in a small pond condemns us all to a second-rate future.

Michael Helfinger, Toronto

Nonpartisan position

I wish to correct a serious error in your article on the Eric Berntson trial (“A senator in court,” Canada, Jan 25). The statement in error is the following: ‘The RCMP were first alerted to the fraud in July, 1991— shortly before Roy Romanow’s New Democrats ousted the Conservatives—when legislature clerk Gwenn Ronyk reported some suspicious invoices.” I did not report suspicious invoices to the RCMP. I did not initiate the investigation nor alert the police in any way. This has been substantiated in many of the related trials. This inaccurate report is a serious matter because it may undermine the confidence of current members of the legislative assembly in my ability to serve them as clerk in an impartial and nonpartisan way. The damage is compounded by the insertion in the same sentence of the reference to the New Democrats ousting the Conservatives, which suggests a political linkage.

Gwenn Ronyk, Clerk of the legislative assembly, Regina

Double standard?

I was disappointed with the news about the Olympic bribery scandal (“Grabbing for gold,” Olympics, Feb. 1). Last October, I attended the Ontario Olympic Youth Academy, a conference aimed at developing leadership skills in high-school students. I learned of the responsibilities of the International Olympic Committee, one of them being to promote and develop physical and

ireat photo, wrong soldiers

In your cover story “A storm to remember” (Jan. 25), the excellent photograph taken by Kevin Frayer shows soldiers shov-

el ling snow. Unfortunately, they are misidentlfied as being members of the Roya! Canadian Dragoons, the soldiers brought in from

moral qualities, the basis of sport. Ironically, the revelations of the IOC’s recent actions contrasts with its idea of Olympic goals. If the guys at the top of the ladder aren’t able to step up to their own ideals, how do they expect to lead the youth into believing the Olympic principles?

Phuc-Nhi Phuong, Kitchener, Ont.

Child pornography

As a librarian who often encounters threats to intellectual freedom, I am dismayed by Canadians’ hysterical reaction to the B.C. Supreme Court’s ruling on possession of child pornography (“Striking a nerve,” Canada, Feb. 1). What the court has in effect affirmed is that no one has the right to enter a citizen’s home and arrest him simply because of the reading material he owns. That should strike most of us as a reasonable limitation on state power, and the fact that it doesn’t is frightening. Future genera-

^ CFB Petawawa. The four soldiers shown digging through the snowbank are members of the Royal Regiment of Canada, an army reserve unit based in Toronto. The soldiers are from left to right: CpI. Raul Roventa, 21, Master CpI. Gary Walters, 36, CpI. _ Kerry-Ann Cameron, 21, § and CpI. Phil Cheung, 20. I They were part of the 320 I reserve soldiers who voluns teered to serve during Operation Preamble in the Toronto Battle Group, the military formation created in response to the request for assistance.

Capt. Stephen Roberts, Public affairs officer, Toronto Battle Group

tions may regard our eagerness to jail people for perusing forbidden arrangements of coloured dots on pieces of paper with the same horror as we regard the Spanish Inquisition. As for the supposed moral crusaders who plastered wanted-style posters of the accused throughout his neighbourhood, I wouldn’t want such abusive personalities anywhere near my children.

Mark Kennedy, Toronto

B.C. Justice Duncan Shaw’s use of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to both legitimize and decriminalize the possession of child pornography relegates it to a document of comic status. Inexplicably, this ruling fails to acknowledge both the deviant nature of child pornography and the victimization that possession perpetuates. One could only wish Shaw’s zealous defence of rights extended to those most vulnerable in this equation.

Timothy Trombley, Fort Erie, Ont.