The Mail

August 16 1999

The Mail

August 16 1999

The Mail


Canadian values

It is deeply frustrating to hear Canadas business leaders constantly flogging our nations tax system (“Hello World,” Cover, Aug. 2). The idea that Canada must reduce taxes to retain its best talent and to be competitive with the United States may have merit, but doing so also implies that Canadians loyal to this country are willing to reform their national touchstones to

more equally reflect American institutions, all in the name of accommodating a minority whose bottom line is income. Our population and hence tax base is substantially lower than in the United States, yet our social programs are more comprehensive. Nortel Networks CEO John Roth, Thomas d’Aquino, head of the Business Coun-

cil on National Issues, and others in the business elite are American wanna-bes who don’t respect the inherent differences between the United States and Canada.

Randy G. Hopkins, St. Catharines, Ont.

Six months ago, I would have been extremely proud reading your cover story on Nortel Networks, but now I view the article as another business plan by a large and distant corporation. On Aug. 4, the company announced the closure of their manufacturing facility in Belleville, Ont., and I am now looking for work with more than 720 other employees. Three years ago, the Belleville workforce, which was less than 1.5 per cent of the population of Nortel, generated almost eight per cent of Nortel’s global revenue. Today, that same workforce is a disposable commodity. John Roth is concerned about the glove compartment of his Jaguar and if his friends’ children will stay in Canada after university. I am concerned whether my four-year-old Chevy will still be on the road for six more years and if I can afford to send my children to university.

Sandy McDonald, Trenton, Ont.

If Nortel’s John Roth and BCNI’s Tom d’Aquino are really serious about tax cuts, then let them forsake the security of their corporate cocoons, seek elected office at the federal level and make their tax-cut mantra palatable to the ordinary Canadians who will have to pay the bill for their foolish and selfserving statements.

Bob Delaney, Mississauga, Ont.

Upon moving to Chicago four years ago, I was dumbfounded by the earnings I was able to keep in my pocket. If Canadian businesses are unable to stanch the flow of talent southward by

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'Canada is just fine’

We hear of the Canadian brain drain. Surely John Kenneth Galbraith is both baby and bathwater in such a scenario. Yet his essay hits the proverbial nail on the head (“A liberal’s debt to Canadians,” Books, Aug. 2). Poignancy, and Galbraith’s ongoing dedication to Canada, lead me to believe we should send many more of our “right stuff” abroad to see, objectively, what Canada really has to offer, and to hold up the reality mirror for our lives. Then we might obliterate our cultural cringe, and realize that Canada is doing just fine, ethically and socially—in spite of our seemingly dispirited, reportedly overly taxed, but sadly rudderless sense of ourselves.

David Anido, Ottawa

increasing salaries and incentives, perhaps the Canadian government would consider lending a hand—i.e. by lowering tax rates, increasing incentives for home ownership in the form of taxdeductible interest, etc. Until things change north of the border, I’ll stay put and welcome the growing population of Canadians in the United States. Stephen Tomlin, Chicago

The brain drain

Diane Francis proposes that Canada should compete head-to-head with the world’s powerhouse economy in offering monetary rewards (“Professors spouting nonsense,” Aug. 2). Not only is this impossible, but it would also inevitably cripple one of the few remaining distinctions between our countries—our socialist system. So go ahead and make Canada into a little America, people will have no reason to stay. Penny wise, pound foolish.

Heath Johns, Winnipeg

The ever-increasing whine from Canada’s business elite and its apologists about the relationship between high taxes and the brain drain threatens to obliterate rational thought concerning the values Canada needs to cultivate if we are going to prosper beyond the year 2000. While I have no doubt many

Canadians are lured to the United States by promises of more money, I do not believe that people ruled by such bottom-line values are really our best and brightest. Canada has always attracted other countries’ best and brightest, a fact Diane Francis unwittingly acknowledges by using Scots immigrant Alexander Graham Bell to illustrate her tirade. So we will continue to attract people who are more likely to value Canadas social conscience and responsibility and contribute to Canadas future than the free agents who have gone south.

Ken Warren, Parksville, B.C.

We have a handicapped daughter, born in the United States, and I had health-care insurance, but we were nickel-and-dimed to death by inane charges such as individual bandages and the pillows she used. Don’t move from state to state, for heaven’s sake, or the maladies you take with you will be deemed by medical insurance to be noncoverable “pre-existing conditions.” My wife, daughter and I didn’t leave the States; we fled. I have been back in Canada now for four years; I like what our taxes buy. I have no desire to return to the States, and though I may not be a “brain,” I do have a PhD.

Ted Venema, Kitchener, Ont.

Diane Francis urges that Canada reach “tax parity with the United States.” Bravo! Parity in taxes would also let us reach parity in crime rates, inadequate (and expensive) health care, poor schools, depressed urban cores, environmental pollution and much more that still distinguishes Canada from that paragon of corporate good times, the United States.

David B. Brooks, Ottawa

The phrase “the best and the brightest” is used to describe that group of young men and women who have attained advanced education and have skills that command high salaries in the marketplace. Since it is an article of faith that the brain drain is real, it seems clear that the best and the brightest will border-hop for money, disavowing any

higher sense of obligation to the country that nurtured them. Best and the brightest? Nah. The best and the brightest still live here in Canada. I live with them and work with them every day.

Arved Sandstrom, Dartmouth, N.S.

Tragic deaths

Barbara Amiel’s description of Carolyn Bessette Kennedy reeks of schoolgirl cattiness, and her intellectual disdain for John F. Kennedy Jr. is obvious in her assertion that his life was a series of meaningless misadventures (“Sadly, charm is not enough,” Aug. 2). I have always respected Amiel’s mind, but I lament her cruel heart.

Danny Schur, Winnipeg

I think Barbara Amiel’s mean-spirited commentary on the tragedy of the Kennedy-Bessette deaths was completely unnecessary. But it is s-o-o-o-oo-o Amiel.

Shannon Matthews, Toronto

The art of war

Your obituary of artist Orville Fisher states that he was the only Allied war artist to take part in the D-Day invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944 (“Courage and the art of war,” Aug. 2). Another Canadian war artist, Lieut. Thomas Wood, was onboard a landing craft, where I served as navigator. I am sure Fisher was also on a Canadian landing craft. Tom Wood died in October, 1997, at the age of 84, leaving as many as 99 works of art in the Canadian War Museum. In 1995, we visited the storage area of all paintings not on display and he saw most of his images for the first time in 50 years. I am sure these two excellent artists were acquaintances down through the years. Perhaps one day all these wonderful paintings will be on permanent display in a new, dedicated gallery for all to view and be reminded of our past and take pride in being a Canadian.

Robert J. Crothers, Wolfe Island, Ont.