The Mail

May 31 1999

The Mail

May 31 1999

The Mail

Selling water

The sale of large volumes of Canada's water would surely be a prelude to massive water diversion schemes (“Hot water,” Canada, May 17). Worldwide experience has shown that the effects of water diversion are unpredictable and irreversible. An examination of the Aral Sea catastrophe in western Asia, where an irrigation project diverted water from two rivers, should be mandatory for any Canadian politicians bent on selling off an integral part of our birthright, which should be respected and not exploited. The project succeeded in cultivating a huge desert region, but the sea has retreated 100 km from its original shoreline, causing the collapse of local fishing and shipping industries.

Tom Maccagno, Lac La Biche, Alta.

Maybe by selling water we could pay off the country’s huge debt, pay for decent medicare, take care of the homeless and adequately fund our educational system. I don’t mean to sell our precious water from any lake or river where it will mean hardship, or to leave less water for any Canadian citizen—that has to be guaranteed. But why not pump it off just before it flows into the oceans, and sell it to anyone who will pay our price? Think of the side benefits, too, in building pipelines to ports to fill Canadianmade ships, manned by Canadians,

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with water for transport around the world. Move over APEC, here comes Canada into the 21st century.

Ross Malabar, Surrey, B.C.

A single airline’

It is unconscionable that governments should expect two airlines to compete against each other and still provide service on uncompetitive routes where the social benefits far outweigh the potential for profit (“A cloud over Canadian,” Business, May 10). Is it really so difficult to revert to the idea of a single national airline? Can we not combine the best virtues of Canadian Airlines and Air Canada, improve their efficiency by avoiding duplication of support services and ensure the continuity of service on unprofitable but socially necessary routes by a wee bit more government intervention? Just one national airline that we can be really proud of is surely not too much to ask. Taran Hewitt, St. Catharines, Ont.



While attending the April, 1998, launch of a shuttle flight carrying an old friend, Dr. Dave Williams, at Cape Canaveral, Fla., my family and I had the privilege of having Julie Payette host our pre-launch bus tour of the Kennedy Space Center. She was an animated and inspiring host; her knowledge and energy were infectious. Your article perfectly captured Payette’s spirit, drive and, above all, enthusiasm (“Ambition accomplished,” Space, May 17). In fact, these are traits shared by all of Canada’s astronauts—we have also been fortunate to meet Dr. Roberta Bondar and Marc Garneau. They do their country proud as they work hard to expand the frontiers of human knowledge.

Bruce M. Gravel, Peterborough, Ont.

The trouble with lists

Allah Dodderingham (yawn) in his almighty wisdom, failed to include his mediocre self in his litany of ne’er-dowells (“In praise of mediocrity,” Allan Fotheringham, May 17). If ever he gets around to adjudicating on muckrakery, he truly will most certainly head the list. Mel D. Ames, Oyama, B.C.

Let me join the crowd who’ve pointed out Allan Fotheringham’s big omission of Alberta’s Ralph Klein from the mediocrity column. Some say Klein should be number 1 on such a list.

K. M. Simpson, Abbotsford, B.C.

Risky food?

Judy Wasylycia-Leis, federal NDP health critic, is correct in the assertion that Canadians need to know that genetically modified foods are safe to eat and not destructive to the environment (“Tampering with the natural order,” Health, May 17). But her suggestion that “at the moment, we have no assurances at all” is puzzling. All genetically modified seed products must undergo several years of rigorous testing and evaluation, including potential risks to the environment and to human health, before they can be used or sold in Canada. No new product is released for

commercial use until federal government scientists are satisfied that the product is safe. Critics may ignore the safeguards in Canadas regulatory system to support their viewpoint, but consumers need to know that those safeguards are in place.

Jim Fisher, Chairman,

Agriculture Groups Concerned About Resources and the Environment, Walkerton, Ont.

How can the Canadian government allow the distribution of genetically engineered foods to unwitting consumers? It’s bad enough that we already have indirect contamination of our food from air, land and water pollution, but now we are adding unknown and untested substances to the food we eat. Foods that contain genetically altered material must be clearly labelled so consumers can make an informed decision. Tina Brajic, Hamilton

Taxes and services

Diane Francis has hit the nail right on the head (“It’s high time to cut the fat— and taxes,” May 3). The multitude of government layers, as well as overpaid civil servants, has been crippling Canada’s economy for many years. However, might I add that workers’ unions across this country have played a major role in this as well? They wield too much power these days in promoting overpayment to workers.

Bob VandenBygaart, Ottawa

Like all taxpayers, I’m for cutting fat in government. But what caught my eye in Diane Francis’s column was her flawed comparison of what U.S. governments pay per capita for health services ($2,482) versus what Canadian governments pay ($1,767). The administration (and profit) component in U.S. health-care funding is several times more than the Canadian equivalent. Removing this cost component would see the per capita costs move closer to each other. Canadian healthcare services, being pretty well universal, would have the per capita costing based on the beneficiaries of the system, the

total population. In the United States, the beneficiaries of Medicare are senior citizens, who require more, and highercost, health services. U.S. Medicaid is available to the destitute, who usually delay seeking help until desperation forces them, again a higher-cost situation. Taking these factors into consideration would bring the U.S. and Canadian figures much closer, and in my view, present a strong argument for a Canadian-style health-care system. Thus, the argument in Francis’s first paragraph, that despite levying lower taxes, the U.S. government spends more on a per capita basis for health care, falls flat.

Will Bohm, Toronto

The wrong federation

In your article “The Games begin again” (Wo rid/Special Report, March 29), you stated that Kim Un Yong, “who is president of the International Taekwondo Federation, ‘really lost it’ ” in a confrontation with two International Olympic Committee members. Kim, in fact, is not the president of our federation; he is the president of the World Taekwondo Federation. Our president is General Choi Hong Hi.

Craig Stanley, Executive vice-president,

Canadian Taekwon-do Federation, International,

St. Albert, Alta.

A moral question

I wonder about the 36 per cent of Canadians who say “it is not morally wrong to cheat on taxes” (“Goldfarb poll,” Opening Notes, May 3). Do they really believe this? If so, you would think they would be out there lobbying the government to change the law to make it legal to cheat on taxes. And at least some of them would surely have the courage of their convictions and make their cheating public as an act of civil disobedience. The fact that they don’t suggests they really believe that cheating on taxes is morally wrong, but are going to cheat anyway. In other words, they are nothing but a bunch of hypocrites. William Hughes, New Denver, B.C.