The Mail

September 20 1999

The Mail

September 20 1999

The Mail


Online implications

I would like to congratulate you on an excellent article (“Back to school online,” Cover, Sept. 6). I am a graduate of the master's of distance education program at Athabasca University and commend it highly to anyone interested in educational technology, course design or program design. Preparing to enter study for an MBA, I found the Athabasca University program well

suited to my needs. Living in Canadas North poses many challenges. Athabasca University has increased access to higher education for many of us. I applaud its success and support its continued efforts in this area.

Janet Mundrick, Director, Corporate Programs, Aurora College, Inuvik, N.W.T.

Your article omitted one of the key strengths of online education. Courses so specialized that they appeal to only a few hundred students nationwide can only be delivered cost-effectively online. Canadas not-for-profit community—longtime suppliers of distance education—has moved rapidly to embrace the online opportunity. The Canadian Society of Association Executives’ association management education program attracts worldwide interest. Online education also allows rapid improvement to course quality. Research and case studies prepared by students can be incorporated into course content. David Johnston’s and Heatherjane Robertson’s concerns about the lack of human interaction are valid, but the Internet is an irreplaceable tool in specialized education.

Michael Anderson, President and CEO, Canadian Society of Association Executives, Toronto

Dianne Looker, the vice-president of the Acadia University faculty association, makes no mistake when she states that “a lot of battles are going to be fought around online courses.” It isn’t, however, only online courses that raise such fierce opposition from faculty. Any initiative that threatens to reduce the role of teachers as classroom lecturers—that isn’t under direct control of faculty—will be bitterly opposed.

Cathy Tekatch, Grimsby, Ont.

Although I enjoyed your article about online education, I was disappointed that Royal Roads University in Victoria was not mentioned. This institution is at the forefront in Canada in delivering high quality master’s programs through distance learning combined with short on-campus sessions. As a recent Royal Roads undergraduate, I can assure you that what this university is doing, espe-

Cause and effect

Don’t shoot the messenger—in this case the migrants (“Children at sea in a new land,” Canada, Aug. 30). Before becoming “illegal” immigrants, these people became victims. The economic policies and international agreements that our glorious First World governments enter into with multinational corporations allow the plunder of the Third World. These corporations ravish their natural resources and pay exploitative salaries, forcing people to abandon their families and places of origin in search of just compensation for their labour. We lucky people who live in the First World should demand that our governments stop the escalation of the rape of the Third World and its citizens. If fair salaries were paid throughout the world, there would be no more illegal migrants.

Carolina de la Cajiga, Vancouver

dally in terms of developing leaders, deserves attention, and your readers deserve to know about it. Royal Roads has a genuine commitment to building a stronger Canada by developing in students those leadership values that are so notably absent in business and politics today.

John Brackenbury, Victoria

Levy on recording

Charles Gordon omitted one of the main reasons many users of CD recordables are reluctant to pay a levy that supports Canadian songwriters and recording artists: they are not using CD recordables for pirating music, but rather as a storage and distribution medium for computer programs and data (“A small price to pay,” Sept. 13). There is no connection to the music business and it is not an illegal activity, so why should these users pay a penalty? Other entertainment industries manage without this kind of assistance; perhaps it is time for the music industry to put its house in order and stop expecting the public to support it by means other than direct payment for services rendered.

Robert Fysh, Toronto

Letters to the Editor should be addressed to: Maclean’s Magazine Letters 777 Bay St., Toronto, Ont. M5W IA7 Fax: (416) 596-7730 E-mail: letters@macleans.ca Maclean’s welcomes readers’ views, but letters may be edited for space, style and clarity. Please supply name, address and daytime telephone number. Submissions may appear in Maclean's electronic sites. E-mail queries about subscriptions or delivery problems should be addressed to: service@macleans.ca

Helping runaways

I moved out of my parents’ home at 16 and I, too, was attracted to street life (“The anguish of the street,” Special Report, Aug. 23). But my parents, instead of fighting a losing battle, took a deep breath and let me go. Despite a few mistakes, I managed just fine: I am now a wife, mother and PhD candidate. What kept me off the streets and out of trouble? In two words, Dad’s signature, without which, as a minor, I could not have obtained a decent job or leased an apartment. There will always be children who can’t, or won’t, be helped. But in many cases, providing teenagers with the legal means to lead decent, independent lives before they become heavily involved in street life might protect them best against the “dark side” and its temptations. Natalie Boisvert, Edmonton

As a professional social worker who works with young people, I agree that many kids run away from parents who care about them. What concerns me is the way parents show how they care. Parents who are authoritarian in style often want to break the young persons spirit at a time when it is essential the youth find a sense of personal identity. Compliance is rewarded and difference is not tolerated. Young people need unconditional love and acceptance from their parent figures. This does not mean that the parent must become permissive and condone actions that are not respectful. This means listening with the heart as well as the mind, and setting reasonable, ageand stage-appropriate expectations. Like adults, children and young people gravitate towards places where they feel loved, supported and accepted. Parents of runaways would benefit from spending less time blaming themselves or their children for their difficulties and focus on connection with, rather than control over, their runaways.

Sharon Hodge, Kelowna, B.C.

Rusty’s story, in particular, really got to me. How could a father turn away his 13year-old son from his door after his mother had abandoned him? With our Canadian affluence, humanity and love of children, we should build a megacentre of life and learning for runaway kids in each province. Offending, irresponsible, abusive parents should be brought to task and legally required to financially support these centres. Such centres would not only offer food and shelter, but also jobs, educational programs and opportunities for sports, artistic expression and recreation. Street kids would be empowered to help run the entire program, which would raise vital self-esteem. Build the centres and the kids will come. The payback to society in both human and economic terms would, in the long term, more than compensate for the expense and human effort required to build such centres.

Brian MacKinnon, Winnipeg

You emphasize some very pertinent facts about homeless and runaway youth: the vast majority of street kids have run away from physical or sexual abuse at home; and there is a void in providing services for this troubled population. In Vancouver, there are an estimated 500 to 1,000 kids living on the streets on any given night. And while there are safe places where young people can stay for up to a week, there are few places that they can call home for any length of time. One of them is Vancouver’s Covenant House, a crisis intervention centre and residence for homeless and runaway youth. Young people who are looking to get off the streets can stay with us, in their own room, for as long as it takes to reach their goal. Working from a social work perspective, we encourage young people to commit to a plan to get off the streets, whether it be going to school, getting a job or returning home. These young people need counselling, support and unconditional love to heal the wounds of their past. Obviously, more needs to be done, but it will take the efforts of the kids themselves, social service providers, parents, the community, government, etc. If the abuse of children can’t even be prevented in their own homes, how can we expect the streets to be any safer?

Sandy Cooke, Executive Director, Covenant House, Vancouver

‘Onex-orable’ deal

Gerry Schwartz’s Onex-orable proposal for a single national airline for Canada—which would forever bear the unflattering name of Air Ger—flies in the face of all sense of fairness, even in the worlds of business and politics (“Air Gerry,” Business, Sept. 6). Over the past decade, Canadian Airlines has demonstrated with textbook precision how not to run an airline. Its panhandling panache for extracting government handouts has only driven it deeper into the red. Standard rules of business dictate that Canadian Airlines should have been taken off life-support years ago, but the government kept infusing it with monetary placebos in hopes of gaining much-needed western votes. Maybe finally, it will be rewarded, as Schwartz’s plan simply lets the loser win—at least on the surface. But over time, the real winner will be American Airlines. Why else would it donate half the funds for Schwartz’s deal if complete control wasn’t in its grasp?

Keith Hatfield, Halifax

Air Canada has three times the debt of Canadian Airlines, and with the exception of last year, any profits made by the airline have been achieved by the sale of assets, not by operations, something that is confirmed by Air Canada’s share value, which has hovered at around $6 for the past decade. Canadian is a viable airline by way of its value to American Airlines, and will survive in some fashion with or without a merger with Air Canada. Surely Air Canada is equally desperate for a solution to the woes that beset the Canadian airline industry.

Nick Beveridge, Burlington, Ont.

Dalton Camp’s column on the Air

Canada-Canadian Airlines merger carried more punch than anything I’ve seen from our so-called left lately (“Once upon a treasured airline,” Sept. 6). It’s about time more Canadians wake up to how deregulated competition only leads to greater monopolies, higher prices and declining services. Perhaps if we ever questioned why a

level playing field should be created by removing rules, we might eventually recognize that “globalization” isn’t about corporations competing for our business, but the public competing for theirs.

Gavin Hearn, Mayne Island, B.C.

Immigrant burden

In the context of today’s illegal Chinese immigration, it may be interesting to look at legal but unwanted British immigration in the early 19th century (“Children at sea in a new land,” Canada, Aug. 30). British immigration, encouraged by the English merchants of Montreal and Upper Canada Loyalists in order to people the wilderness and to offset the French-Canadian preponderance, rose steadily after 1825, reaching 50,254 in 1831. The poverty-stricken immigrants were packed into the unhealthy holds of the timber ships coming back to Canada (not much different from the smuggled Chinese refugees). After a long voyage that was more often a battle for survival, they were put ashore at Quebec and Montreal, frequently penniless and disease-ridden. Many became public charges; in 1832, the Quebec assembly passed a bill establishing a head tax, to be paid by the captains of the immigrant ships, to offset the financial burden the immigrants caused. Immigration became, to certain wild French-Canadian eyes, an English conspiracy to wipe them off the face of the earth. Many of those early immigrants were victims of shipping agents and land speculators who hoped to profit from the human cargo. While the new illegal immigrants should receive compassion, those who are involved in the smuggling of human beings should be treated firmly.

Mahmood Elahi, Ottawa

Maclean’s published an article about smuggling Chinese illegal immigrants to North America, twice mentioning the name Lithuania (“Canada’s open door,” Cover, Aug. 23). Readers might be left with the impression that Lithuanian ships smuggle illegal immigrants to North America and that, in this case, these people boarded a vessel while it was in Lithuania. Neither is true. Lithuanian institutions are very serious about their international commitments and they are doing their best to control the flow of illegal refugees through Lithuanian territory. Lithuanian authorities were closely watching the ship, which was hiding illegal human cargo, cargo that obviously got on the ship before she entered Lithuania. Ambassador Alfonsas Eidintas, Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania, Ottawa

Judges making law

The issue of judges being out of touch with Canadians is shown not so much by the pronouncements of such as retiring Chief Justice Antonio Lamer of the Supreme Court of Canada (“Activists in black robes,” Canada, Sept. 6), but in the sentence imposed on Fredericton shopkeeper George MacFarlane (“Vigilante shopkeeper,” Canada Notes). MacFarlane, who received a conditional sentence for firing a shotgun at thieves robbing his store for the—count ’em—sixth time, was also ordered by the judge to take an “anger management course.” I wish the judge in this case would explain to me just why MacFarlane shouldn’t be angry, when anger is the only rational response. MacFarlane, I’m pleased to see recorded by Macleans, is “unrepentant.”

Wally Moran, Orillia, Ont.

Justice Beverley McLachlin used ignoratio elenchi, the art of answering any question except the one that was asked, when she said: “[The Supreme Court] does not march out and say, ‘We think there is a problem here—we are going to rule on it.’ ” That is not what troubles Canadians about the Supreme Court. It is what appears to be its tendency to make, rather than rule upon, law, and to make mystifying judgments, costly to wellmeaning citizens, without giving reasons so that we can be guided in future. The Supreme Court had better get used to it; an increasingly sophisticated, less-thanpatient, overgoverned citizenry will often

criticize its rulings and the very methods by which it is constituted. Judges call it judge-bashing. Do we, the lay peasants, hear what might be called judgewhimpering?

Frank Gue, Burlington, Ont.

Goodbye to Eaton’s

I said goodbye to a friend today. When I was a child, visiting her was a real event—we even dressed up for the occasion. I spent hours glorying in her toys, and later explored her books and clothing. She fitted me with my first three pairs of glasses, and helped me learn how to sew by providing me with patterns and supplies. When we got tired, my mother and I would have tea in her magnificent dining room. I hardly recognized her when I visited her today; everything was expensive and in the wrong place. But I will certainly miss Montreal’s downtown Eaton department store (“The end of Eaton’s,” Business, Aug. 30).

Mary Ruth Gehr, Montreal

Gospel truth

Allan Fotheringham writes that Matthew Fisher’s father named four of his sons (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) after Christ’s disciples (“An apostle of the black art,” Aug. 30). In fact, only two of those names (Matthew and John) appear in Gospel lists of disciples (more accurately, apostles). Mark and Luke had no direct contact with Jesus, but were supposedly later companions of Peter and Paul, respectively. It would be more accurate, therefore, though less felicitous, to say that the four sons were given the names attached to the titles of the four Gospels. Charles P. Anderson, Professor Emeritus, Religious Studies, University of British Columbia, Kamloops, B.C.

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were faithful believers, brilliant theologians, dedicated researchers and like Matthew Fisher, engaging writers, but not in the picture at the Last Supper.

Rev. John H. Brown, Port Perry, Ont.