The Mail

April 12 1999

The Mail

April 12 1999

The Mail

War is hell

I am deeply ashamed that the Canadian government sent its military forces to Yugoslavia (“Going to war,” Cover, April 5). I am a Serb who was ethnically cleansed from Sarajevo and recently became a Canadian citizen. To me, it is mind-boggling that NATO attacked my country without a UN Security Council resolution. My heart goes to my family and friends, and (I never thought I would say this) I completely understand President Slobodan Milosevic’s rejection of an agreement that nobody has seen.

Tanja Benic, Halifax

Will NATO now amend its charter to include military action against any country in the world, regardless of the strength of the target nation’s military forces, to justify its current activities? And if a guerrilla war were to erupt in Mexico, or between Scotland and Britain, or between Quebec and the rest of Canada, would NATO assemble a military force to bomb Mexico, England or Canada?

Charles Hooker, Orangeville, Ont.

Mulroney effect

Extraordinary. Dalton Camp admonishes Canadians for continuing to harbour disagreeable memories of Brian Mulroney, and yet over the course of 692 words can offer no reason why we should not, save that Mulroney is a reasonably fit man of 60 who is not Jean Chrétien (“In praise of Martin Brian Mulroney—so there,” Guest Column, March 29).

Ford Pier,

I Vancouver

Brian Mulroney, but are reticent to say out loud. We confidently voted for Brian’s Conservatives and have never regretted it. We have great respect for the man, his business ethics, his family values and, in particular, his dedication to doing what was best for Canada while in office. Sure, he wasn’t perfect, but who among our esteemed leaders is, or ever has been? At the very least, his Conservatives accomplished much more than our current government could ever claim. The constant and unrelenting Brian bashing, led by an irresponsible, Liberalscan-do-no-wrong media, has unleashed on the country an unhealthy bandwagon effect of irrational hatred for far too long. Well, we steadfastly refuse to jump on that bandwagon and we know we’re not the only ones.

Rich and Jay Thistle,

Stratford, Ont.

Dalton Camp proves there is no Tory like a loyal Tory and to show loyalty to such a transparent, self-serving, corporate-driven sycophant of the Reagan-Bush ilk is to further urinate on our big, vulnerable, almost-lost land.

Mendelson Joe, Toronto

Thanks for your touching editorial about Joe Clark (“Joe Clark is back—in time,” From the Editor) and the Camp piece on Brian Mulroney, which almost served as bookends for the issue. It’s to be hoped that the PCs can see how our country needs policies that are not strictly along party lines before hammering out their own. For instance, the party that can limit the bad effects of big business, while optimizing its advantages and supporting small business much more than any party has so far, is probably going to win the next election. That probably means policies

Dalton Camp has finally stated publicly what we suspect many Canadians already feel about

Buy now, owe later

Canadian parents are crying the blues because the “average personal debt is greater than the average disposable income” (“That sinking feeling,” Personal Finance, March 22). And yet their kids, we are told in the cover story (“How teens got the power”), are avaricious consumers with $500 a month to blow. Am I missing something here, or is the juxtaposition of these two articles just a little piece of editorial irony?

Kimberley Jordan Reeman, Surrey, England

that mix all the best of our four mainline parties, not policies of the usual narrow vision we have had in the past. Bob Rae has shown, too late, how it should be done. And the party that sets up the CBC as independent from government in any way, yet tax supported, will certainly get my vote.

Bill Scoffield, Campbellcroft, Ont.

Stronach's progress

Your excellent cover story on Frank Stronach (“Empire builder,” March 29) seems to confirm George Bernard Shaw’s adage: “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

Walter Schreier, Nepean, Ont.


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Canada's poor cousin

You article “Fifty years of Confederation” (Canada/Special Report, March 15) ignores the main reason Newfoundland will continue to be the poor cousin in Confederation. We lost control of our basic and fundamental resources—minerals, fish, oil and water—when we joined Canada. We should, on the 50th anniversary of our contract with Canada, seek to rewrite some of the oppressive terms that have made us weak and dependent and will continue to do so if they remain unaltered. That is the real challenge for our province and its leaders, otherwise there will be only a scattered few of us left to record the centenary. If we fail in this, the next generation of our best and brightest will be born across the Gulf. That is not a pleasant prospect for those of us who still regard this place as our home. God bless thee, Newfoundland.

Douglas Moores, Bay Roberts, Nfld.

After years of anger and resentment brought on by the 1992 cod moratorium, it is disappointing that the hopeful signs for Newfoundland’s economy that your article has so eagerly cited are the increased shrimp, crab and shellfish catches. Did we not learn our lesson from seven years ago? Similarly, praise is being handed down to oil extraction projects such as Hibernia and Terra Nova, as well as mining operations such as Inco’s Voisey’s Bay nickel project. Can we really hope to build a strong economy on such a weak foundation? It appears that the government is eager to throw its

weight behind short-term economic fixes rather than self-sustainable, long-term economic development. We should be focusing our efforts on renewable opportunities rather than non-renewable resources and the volatility they represent. British Columbia is currently experiencing a recession in large part due to its forestry-dependent economy. Alberta is also experiencing a dimmer economic future due to its largely oil-dependent economy. Canada is a country filled with intelligent, resourceful people. Shouldn’t we be building a sustainable economy on the backs of these people, rather than patching up our troubled natural resource-based economy?

Lou Spagnuolo, Windsor, Ont.

While it is sometimes fashionable to view Quebec as the only disaffected province, there are other examples. My father, who was born in 1896, knew someone in Halifax who flew the Nova Scotia flag at half-mast every July 1 from 1867 onward until his death.

W. J. Curran, Gloucester, Ont.

Legal gender bias

I wonder how Beverley Smith came to the conclusion that the Canadian legal system is against women (“A Canadian takes her case to the United Nations,” Opening Notes, March 22)? As far as I can see, the opposite is true, even in her own life. Smith had the choice either to be gainfully employed or stay at home. Her husband most likely did

not have that choice—he has to earn the money to support her as well as the children. He is the one who is being discriminated against by the tax laws, not her. As to the legal system, she can, at any given moment, pick up the phone and allege that he has abused her. There is no need for proof— most provinces have a zero-tolerance policy in effect, which means that the man is arrested without questions. If she did that, she would likely be rewarded with sole custody and generous child support payments. There would also be spousal support. There is no question that there is gender bias in the Canadian legal system. Unfortunately, Smith has it the wrong way around.

Eva Saira, Ottawa

Beverley Smith is on the money. The tax w laws of Revenue Canada are not only dis! criminatory, they define the person at home 5 with the children as the chattel of the work! ing partner. Women especially have been relegated to second-class status and are often forced to remain in abusive situations because they have no personal income—chattels are forced to live off the largesse of the wage earner. It is time for the tax laws to be revised, with equality the goal by removal of all references to spouse. Tax individuals. Negative income tax is the solution. Revenue Canada, Human Resources Development Canada and the welfare part of Health Canada should be merged, and all financial interactions with Canadians managed under one roof. The elderly, the unemployed, all Canadians with zero or minimum income would get cash directly. Thousands of people would disappear from the welfare roles. Every equal-opportunity support group should champion this cause because money is the only equalizer.

Murray H. Brooker, St. John’s, Nfld.

The first president

The one thing that Garth Drabinsky cannot claim for sure is the title of “first Jewish president of the student council” at North Toronto Collegiate (“Drabinsky as a young man on the make,” Peter C. Newman, Feb. 1). I was the first Jewish president of NTCI for the years 1955-1956 and Hal Palter was the next for the years 1956-1957. In 1955, Drabinsky would have been five years old.

Larry Steinhauer, Toronto

Foreign aid

Thirty years ago this coming summer, I purchased my first subscription to Maclean’s from an attractive sales representative who approached me on a dock in Masset, B.C. I was 16, and I must have had stars

in my eyes because I purchased a 20-year subscription. I don’t believe I ever saw your lovely agent again, but I’m grateful for all the Maclean’s I’ve seen since then. And this brings me to the purpose of my letter: read Finance Minister Paul Martin’s Feb. 16, 1999, budget, and you’ll discover that Canada’s commitment to foreign aid is in serious decline (“Grand ambitions,” Cover, Feb. 15). I understand that Canada’s official development target for foreign aid, set by Lester Pearson’s 1969 government, is 0.7 per cent of gross domestic product.

Yet for the year 2000-2001, our foreign aid spending will have dropped to a level of

0.26 per cent from a 19971998 level of 0.29 per cent.

UNICEF estimates that every day 32,000 children die from mainly preventable causes. I am embarrassed as a Canadian that my country appears to be admitting defeat in the war against starvation and extreme poverty, when the solution is very much at hand.

Doug S. McGinnis,


Leaving home

Contrary to Peter C. Newman’s reference to high taxes as “The biggest threat to Canada’s future” (The Nation’s Business, March 8), I left Canada in 1959 for higher education, not lower taxes. For two decades, my wife and I met and entertained Canadian students, encouraging them to return home. I would not encourage them now. Our children are all employed in the United States for the following reasons:

1. Merit and competence count there.

2. The United States is an open system, ours is closed: opportunity versus stand in line and wait.

3. Canada offers no support for higher education.

4. Canada has little appreciation of talent— even an anti-intellectual bent.

5. Canada ranks last in research and development.

6. Canada suffers from endless navel gazing for organizational and institutional change.

7. Canada uses 1920s-era public administration and policy analysis.

8. Canada values control over freedom.

9. The GST is a regressive tax imposed against the wishes of a majority of Canadians.

10. Canada has an unhealthy concentration of power and wealth.

11. The megaproject mentality is pervasive in all Canadian governments at the expense of job-creating small business.

12. The banks are not interested in small business or Canada’s well-being. Banks drive far more brains and entrepreneurs out of the country than taxes ever have.

13. Taxes.

William G. Hills, Cranbrook, B.C.

Heart problems

Your report about bacterial infection as a possible cause of heart disease (“Bacteria and the heart,” Health Monitor, March 8) was potentially misleading. It stated that Chlamydia pneumoniae bacteria, which can be transmitted “sexually or by inhalation,” can damage the heart and blood vessels. On a quick read, a reader might assume that the well-known sexually transmitted disease is the main concern here. In fact, there are three different types of chlamydia bacteria involved: trachomatis (the sexual disease variety); and pneumoniae and psittaci (respiratory infection varieties). An important unreported fact is that some form of chlamydia may be present in up to 90 per cent of all people in their lifetime. While researchers theorize that only people with overzealous immune systems are at risk (it’s the immune response that can trigger heart problems), the wide prevalence of chlamydia infections is an important part of this news story.

David Adeney, Burlington, Ont.

When Microsoft started out, it was the little guy jumping into bed with Big Blue, the symbol of corporate establishment (“Bill Gates besieged,” Cover, March 15). When Microsoft beat IBM in the operating system wars, it was still considered a victory for the up-and-coming company that moved fast on its feet (even though Microsoft had already grown into a giant by that time). Friends of mine who had just graduated from university at the time looked up to Microsoft and its CEO, Bill Gates—typical of the antiestablishment thinking generally found on university campuses. However, the tables have now turned. Microsoft is the “evil empire” now, and if you talk to the computer science students of today (who will be the programmers of tomorrow) most have an intense dislike for Microsoft, preferring instead to opt for Iinux as the operating system of choice. Microsoft has proven time and again that it is no longer the agile company that took on IBM and won. It has become a behemoth that is slow to react. It may never come to pass that Iinux will take over Microsoft in terms of number of installations, but we can look to the Apache Web server software as an example of freeware that has surpassed all other vendors (Microsoft included). By some counts, more than half of all Web servers in the world are using Apache (which happens to be available for Linux, too). If Apache can do it, why not Iinux?

Toppling giants

Cesar Mugnatto, Toronto

Cult of the Internet

The “delusions and madness of crowds” referred to by John Koopman in “The myth of Internet profits” (The Road Ahead, March 8), and the “Y2K problem” (The Mail) as described by L. A Cummings in the same issue can only be explained by our love affair with information technology. As with any love affair, we overlook or ignore basic flaws and irrational situations. It’s the only explanation for why these incompetents who violated our trust and created a panic with the Y2K fiasco now expect us to buy their Internet stocks. These gurus of information technology have created a legion of unquestioning followers that would make any religious cult envious.

Francis Cottier, Napanee, Ont.

Women at work

In his column “The home fires burn” (March 15), Bruce Wallace described as “laughable” my premise that mothers who work outside the home work longer hours than stay-at-home mothers. I wish to point out that according to a Statistics Canada study based on the General Social Survey of 1992, “As Time Goes By: Time Use of Canadians,” women with children who were employed full time spent an average of 10 hours per day working, compared with eight hours per day for mothers who were not employed. The women themselves answered the questions. When women enter the labour force, the amount of time spent at paid work is not equally offset by a decline in the time spent on unpaid work. Rather, total work time increases. This is not a feminist perspective, as Mr. Wallace says, but the result of actual objective data.

Hedy Fry,

Secretary of state, status of women, Ottawa

Travel and tourism

I have experienced many places in this great world—including the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe—and object to Charles Gordon’s musing “Is real travel even necessary?” (“Bungee jumping over Victoria Falls,” March 29). Such statements clearly illustrate the dramatic difference between the traveller who explores and experiences different cultures and the tourist who merely wants to photograph the highlights. The traveller seeks to understand, to learn from and to celebrate the differences among us— and does not demand or need the comforts of home. Travelling is about the cultural experience gained from the journey from learning and experiencing the customs, traditions and way of life of the locals. A traveller has respect. A tourist has a camera.

Dorothy McCabe, Toronto