The Mail

July 19 1999

The Mail

July 19 1999

The Mail

Dollar distress

A common currency with the United States is not advisable if Washington has control over monetary policy (“Say it ain’t so,” Cover, July 5). Canada would have to have input on these policies before a common currency was adopted, which the United States would likely not agree to. If a fluctuating exchange rate is causing problems for Canadian business, maybe the Bank of Canada should consider setting the exchange rate at specified intervals instead of allowing the dollar to float.

Doug Miner, Edmonton

I do not understand how Canadian sovereignty would be further compromised by replacing the Queen with George Washington on our currency. If we are doomed to have a foreigner’s face on our money, I would much prefer a republican to a monarch.

Gerry Germain, St. John’s, Nfld.

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If all Canadian citizenship and sovereignty can be boiled down to mere currency—a tool of economic exchange— why fret about losing it at all?

Gord Moodie, Vancouver

Having originally opposed the idea of a common currency with the United States, it now occurs to me there would be one immediate tangible benefit: being able to get rid of those heavy, clunky coins the government foisted on us in lieu of paper money in ’87 and ’96.

Jim Harris, Ottawa

In “The giant falls south” (Cover, July 5) you claim “most B.C. residents—other than worried environmentalists—embraced” the sale of MacMillan Bloedel Ltd. to the U.S. firm Weyerhaeuser Co. I am curious as to how you conducted your poll of B.C. residents. Are you assuming that Forest Minister David Zirnhelt speaks for the residents of British Columbia when he comments, “but that’s the way the world is now”? Had you attended any of the public meetings dealing with the proposed transfer of publicly owned Crown lands to MacMillan Bloedel, you would have witnessed municipal leaders, I.W.A. members, MacMillan Bloedel employees, pulp and paper workers, small and large independent logging contractors, hunters and fishers, Council of Canadians as well as the “environmentalists” expressing their opposition to the proposed foreign ownership of British Columbia’s remaining oldgrowth forests and all of the private forest land that MacMillan Bloedel owns on Vancouver Island. Are you trying to manufacture consent?

Scott Tanner, Qualicum Beach, B.C.

I want the government of British Columbia to say no to the sale of MacMillan Bloedel. I do not want

The loonie bin

July 1 seems a most appropriate day to consider the newest in far-out intellectual fads—the trashing of the loonie in favour of the American greenback (“Say it ain’t so,” Cover, July 5). The academic and diplomatic promoters of this idiocy have surely allowed their Canadian souls to be vulcanized by the heat and pressure of trading with the Americans. How else would one explain persons of some stature promoting the trading away of one of the foundation stones of their national birthright? One wonders what these promoters of the U.S. buck do at home on Canada’s birthday. Maybe they go into a closet and wave the Stars and Stripes where their neighbours can’t see them. The capitulation of the government over the split-run magazine issue shows how unlikely it is that Canada will stand up to the bullying tactics of Yankee traders. Let us hope that somewhere in this magnificent land of ours there stands in the wings a person with the understanding of the soul of Canada, a person with the determination, political leadership skills and courage to challenge the notion that the cancer of American domination will triumph.

Larry Forster, Victoria

Canada to become a “branch plant of the United States” (“Sold: British Columbia,” Allan Fotheringham). What’s more, I can’t believe I am alone in my feelings. I am totally frustrated with the media reporting on this sale. From Day 1, it has included phrases like “no one cares,” and “no opposition.” I am worried that this sale will somehow be used in an attempt to save NDP political fortunes by trying to show that they have turned the B.C. economy around. If the NDP approves the sale, they are selling out British Columbia.

Daphne McFarland, Surrey, B.C.

Know what made my Canada Day depressing? In Ross Laver’s column (“Lament for the loonie,” July 5), I encountered the familiar tune of “give up, it is all over, bend over now and have the American flag branded on your

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butt.” Apparently we can all be richer that way. Except for the poor, of course, who can look forward to a trendier, harder-edged, American-style poverty, with added violence and reduced health care. I know Europeans have felt beleaguered by their process, but can you think of a single European national government that would relinquish language, autonomy, history, culture and the right to try to solve its own problems so that it could be absorbed by the United States?

Edith B. Shore, Sutton, Ont.

It has always appeared as though Ross Laver is the all-American boy at Macleans —his essays on American-centric business and overt commercialism display an awkward position for a national magazine. This is his third instalment on the fate of the sovereign Canadian dollar since January (when 11 European states adopted the euro). Each time, he has applauded the concept of a single North American currency. He not only celebrates the explicit advantages gained for the established fiscal elite (apparently, his only examples), but he also ignores how this vision dilutes Canadian culture.

Kelvin Charles Beaudette, Toronto

Defining moments

In “Canada’s century: 25 events that shaped the country” (Cover, July 1) in the 20th century, the inclusion of the Chinese Head Tax of 1885-1923 was odd for what has truly been the century of the immigrant in Canada. As a regressive (and reprehensible) policy, the head tax was born in, and representative of, the 19th century. What really marked immigration in this century was the eventual repeal of the Chinese Head Tax, the recruitment of millions of nonEnglish-speaking East European immigrants, the implementation of a nonracial-based immigration policy in the 1960s, and the warm reception of tens of thousands of Southeast Asian “boat people” refugees in the early 1980s, which created the private refugee spon-

sorship program. Today, Canada has the highest per-capita intake of immigrants in the world.

Jeff McMurdo, Chelsea, Que.

The economics of building the Avro Arrow, one of your 25 country-building events, varied dramatically based on how many aircraft were to be built. Recent stories about the Arrow (including Macleans) attempt to bury this magnificent Canadian achievement with gloomy revelations about the cost overruns and apparent lack of a foreign market. It is true that Gen. Charles Foulkes (then chief of staff for the department of defence) opposed proceeding with the Arrow because of the impact on the overall military budget. However, this does not warrant the conclusion that the Arrow cost too much and that the Diefenbaker government’s decision to effectively scrap the heart of the Canadian aerospace industry was right. They were wrong. They were shortsighted. The Bomarc was a disaster. Manned bombers are still in service today. No American, European or Russian interceptor in the ensuing 20 years bested a fully developed Arrow in terms of flight performance. Canada missed a major opportunity due to government and military myopia. The Arrow is history now, but it still feels great to think what might have been.

Chris Scatliff, Oakville, Ont.

War hero

Much is being said about the inadequate teaching of Canadian history. The lack of knowledge of Canadian history was apparent when Macleans dismissed the passing of one of our war heroes with five lines in Passages (July 5). The death of Second World War Canadian general George Kitching was a major news item in the Netherlands where he was revered as a hero. Incidentally, the Germans did not surrender to Kitching, although he was there at the table, but to the commander of the First Canadian Corps, Lt.-Gen. Charles Foulkes.

Bert Hilkes, Ottawa

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‘The opera can wait’

Charles Gordon provides great advice when he writes that Canadians should support the well-being of our own culture by attending more events, rather than passing time roaming around shopping malls (“In the Canadian way,” June 21). He is also correct when he writes that the vast majority of artists in this country may as well be considered volunteers given the meagre income they can receive for their efforts. On a positive note, the composer-in-residence program at the Canada Council is an unqualified success. Many organizations have used this program to bring a Canadian composer into their organization. The requirement that matching funding be provided by the performing organization ensures that the composer receives a reasonable standard of income. Having active and visible composers employed by Canadas opera companies, orchestras, ensembles and choirs is contributing substantially to more performances of Canadian music.

John Burge, President, Canadian League of Composers, Kingston, Ont.

Charles Gordon is wrong in saying Canadians are “not lacking for money.” The recession may be over, but the struggle to maintain a standard of living goes on. The proliferation of giant retailers has its root cause in a simple reality: a demand born out of sheer necessity. Most Canadian families have now come to face the reality that a single income is no longer sufficient. Both partners must work full time. They are struggling to find some way to keep what they have and, they hope, leave something for their children. Decades of onerous taxation have deprived Canadians of any option. Taxes account for a larger deduction from income than food, shelter and clothing combined. If it is necessary to struggle with a cart and crowds at Wal-Mart or Costco in order to save a precious few after-tax dollars, it will happen. The opera can wait.

Daniel Philippot, Richmond, B.C.