The Mail

The Mail

September 6 1999
The Mail

The Mail

September 6 1999

The Mail

Dealing with refugees

Your Aug. 23 issue on “Canada’s open door” starts out on the wrong foot with your cover asking the question: “Should we let migrants stay or send them back?” In my view, the question is: “Should we let illegal migrants stay or send them back?” Canadian fairness does not embrace illegally jumping the queue.

W. J. Lomax, Durham, Ont.

I was so pleased to read Irving Abekas opinion piece on the supposed refugee crisis that’s “threatening” Canada’s western shores (“Let’s get a grip”). Having seen numerous sensational, bordering on racist, articles, not to mention unscientific opinion polls about the latest influx of refugees, it was indeed refreshing to read a reasoned, well-

thought-out article on the subject. Canada welcomed me 31 years ago when I emigrated from the United States. I hope we continue to do so for other people coming to Canada. To do otherwise would not be Canadian. Barbara Irwin, Victoria

Bully for former Immigration and Refugee Board member William Bauer. Now, we need politicians with his concern for the disintegration of Canadian values and the acceleration of illegal mayhem. If our government chooses to bypass the queue of honest and industrious potential immigrants in favour of those who have already flouted Canada’s laws by a dubious back-door arrival, can’t we presume that the government rewards duplicity rather than honesty?

Gillian Wills, North Vancouver

Before Canada starts spending money putting refugees on social assistance, providing them with medical care and a home, our country should first resolve its own internal issues. Our political representatives should focus on our people, our poor that live on our streets. Canada has important and urgent issues to solve that directly affect the lives of Canadians, before thinking of immigrants.

Sara Berger, Ottawa

It was interesting to learn that illegal migrants who claim refugee status are entitled to free medical care while awaiting “a process that can take months or, more likely, years.” I moved back to Canada this past February, after living in the United States for some years with my American wife. Not only did it cost us almost $1,000 in immigration and medical checkup fees, but despite my five years in the Canadian Forces, neither one of us was entitled to

free medical care until we had lived here for three months. Obtaining interim insurance was a substantial expense, and now we still pay our dues every quarter for B.C. medical insurance. It annoys me that our government is more generous in providing medical benefits to illegal migrants than it is to one of its own citizens, and one who served this country in the military at rather pitiful wages.

Edward Brewer, Gabriola Island, B.C.

Parent of a street kid

As I read your report on runaway kids (“The anguish of the street,” Special Report, Aug. 23), I could relive the anguish of being a parent of a runaway. I, too, have a daughter who, at 19, has been living the life of a street kid for more than a year. An honour roll student with great potential, she completed Grade 12 before setting out on the road. As a family, we went for counselling. My daughter also saw family counsellors, psychiatrists, psychologists, addiction counsellors and sexualabuse counsellors. Several of these professionals reported that nothing was wrong; she just needed to experience more freedom. I am shocked at how many professionals in the counselling field are so naïve and inexperienced in dealing with these high-maintenance children. I call them this because they truly take all of one’s energy, love and patience. I have come to accept that there are children who, no matter what kind of home they come from, will be attracted to this dark side of life. There are those who would be quick to chastise the parents, making them pay for any damages incurred by these headstrong kids and blaming them for their inability to control their children. It is this type of thinking that will lead to further devastation in families and more runaways. There are thousands of parents crying out for help with their street kids, and even more who have given up hope. Frustration abounds, when at every point the hands of parents and police are tied. Parents rights have diminished, yet they remain liable for the choices their children make. Where is the sense or logic in this? Kathleen Ruck, Trenton, Ont.

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: 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:

The Mail

By any other name

The great Foth has been royally taken in (“An English country wedding,” Allan Fotheringham, Aug. 9). He seriously believes that Nicholas Shakespeare is a direct descendant of the Bard of Avon and repeats without question all the snobbish drivel handed to him. William Shakespeare had three legitimate children: two daughters, Susanna, who married John Hall; Judith, who married Thomas Quiney; and an only son, Hamnet, who died in 1596 at age 11. Alas, the Shakespeare name did not descend directly from Will. Could it perhaps be the champagne and the “unusual brilliant British sunshine” reflecting in the diamond tiaras that made Allan Fotheringham so gullible?

Terry Gregory, Edmonton

Future schlock

If Nortel Networks Corp. is the future, then exclude me, please (“Nortel’s driving force,” Cover, Aug. 2). At the A&P Tennis Classic this year, televised by Fox Sportsnet, Nortel chief executive officer John Roth spent some of the $ 150 million in his advertising budget on “virtual” ads, which were projected onto the playing surface during the matches. The players don’t see the ads, of course, but it is very distracting to the viewer. What’s next? Virtual ads on coffins during televised funerals?

Jim Geiwitz, Victoria

It is a misconception that the only thing driving Canadian talent to the United States is the tax situation in Canada. In Silicon Valley, the salary and benefits are great, the possibility of hitting the big time with one of the many startups is inspiring, but it goes beyond the financial gain. It’s also about the opportunities and experiences that are available here. This is the place where technology changes daily and risk-takers are rewarded. We considered moving back to Canada last year, but the technical positions that were offered were three steps behind what we were doing when

we arrived here three years ago. Beyond the great salaries, encouraging employees to be innovative is one of the Valley’s real draws.

Kim and Chris Fullerton, Mountain View, Calif.

Maclean’s repeats the gospel according to John Roth about how Canada is insane to be driving high-tech workers south of the border with our taxes. In the same week, I also read advertisements posted in an Internet newsgroup where many high-tech workers look for jobs. With the exchange rate, some postings offer jobs in Houston that pay $144,000 versus $85,000 in Canada; that means 70 per cent more money for the same work, with the same experience requirements. This ratio is typical of the high-tech industry, including companies such as Nortel that have both U.S. and Canadian employees. The only reason Roth still employs any Canadian workers at all is because he can pay them so much less than his U.S. workers. Now, he insists that we subsidize this exploitation further and abandon our hard-won social safety net to do this for him. Why do leading editors and journalists see no issue here? Richard Curzon, Ajax, Ont.

In lieu of love

If, in a marriage, your primary focus is your own sexual fulfilment (“Sex and marriage,” Cover, Aug. 9), you’re basically focused on what you yourself can get out of the relationship—which means that when the getting ends, the marriage can end, too. The real key to marital success is mutual devotion to meeting your partner’s needs and desires (non-physical as well as physical). There’s a word for this focus on giving rather than getting, a word never once mentioned in your articles: love.

Mark Azzara, Danbury, Conn.

After reading your sex and marriage cover story, my wife and I took comfort in the fact that after more than 25 years of living together and marriage, we still argue about who should be on top.

Steve Elson, Belleville, Ont.

Canadian soldiers

Is anyone keeping track of all of the

scandals that Defence Minister Art Eggleton and Defence Chief Gen. Maurice Baril have promised to get to the bottom of (“Legacy of a sick war,” Canada, Aug. 9) ? These two guys should have the grace and guts to resign.

Gary Naylor, St. Eleanors, P.E.I.

It is hard to reconcile the benevolent treatment of illegal immigrants with the disgraceful treatment of Canadian soldiers. We have about 250 boat people from China, some of whom may well be part of the organization that sold passage on the boat, most of whom are in very comfortable circumstances on a military base with accommodation, food and medical treatment freely provided. On the other hand, soldiers who are disabled as a result of serving their country in the former Yugoslavia are denied treatment and disability pensions. Those soldiers were in top-notch medical condition before they went to the Balkans—or the same medical authorities who now question the cause of their illness would not have permitted them to go. There is something fundamentally wrong with a government that not only tolerates, but generates such a perverse situation.

P. J. Mitchell, Victoria

As a Canadian military officer serving in the United States, I have a different perspective on defence issues back home and I must say that our news media clearly enjoy hammering away at those of us in uniform, as well as the institution we proudly serve. The real stories, although not as sexy as the never-ending search for scandal, are innumerable. The underfunded, undermanned Canadian Forces do more with less than just about any other military in the world, and out of all proportion to our tiny size. This seldom is appreciated by the press, who expect us to focus on investigating ourselves to death instead of carrying out the military tasks set for us by the government. This soldier is tired of having his repu-

tation, and those with whom he serves, impugned in the media. The time has come to stop this unjust crusade. We are good and we know it. I think the majority of the Canadian people know it as well.

Maj. Ken Hynes, Canadian Forces Liaison Officer, Fort Bliss, Tex.

Relieving pain

You seem to have overlooked an area of pain research just beginning to gain acceptance (“Coping with pain,” Cover,

Aug. 16). It is now suspected that laughter releases natural painkillers—endorphins—which have been documented to reduce pain. Norman Cousins in his best-selling book Anatomy of an Illness stated how five minutes of laughter produced two hours of pain-free sleep. We at The Cheers Project, as well as other humorists across North America, are finding that laughter, in addition to providing psychological escape, can also effect physiological relief.

Melanie Burnell, CEO, The Cheers Project,


Social work in health care has a long history of involvement in assisting patients and their families manage emotional pain and adjustment to disease.

The profession is instrumental in the lives of individuals who are adjusting and managing distressing challenges by advocating for change, offering support, and encouraging patient self-determination and well-being. I trust the exclusion of this noble profession from your article was an oversight.

Linda B. Fischer, St. Joseph’s Health Centre, London, Ont.

In the past year, I went from a grumpy 45-year-old sporting events spectator suffering from chronic lowerback pain and excruciating tendinitis in my knee coupled with shin splints, to an energetic 15-year-old again, able to participate in many of my favourite athletic activities. How? In a word, orthotics. A three-year-old corn problem finally prompted me to seek medical advice

The Mail

from a podiatrist and after being fitted with the devices, the maladies seemed to magically disappear. When I revisited the doctor and expounded on my new lease on life, he just wryly looked at me and said: “Well, of course, you’ve been walking off balance for years.” After reading your cover on pain, I shudder to think about the amount of anti-inflammatory drugs I have taken over the years.

Dave Zeldon, Simcoe, Ont.

The way it was

Two letters about Barbara Arméis column on the death of John F. Kennedy Jr., his wife, Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, and her sister Lauren Bessette describe Amiel as cruel and mean-spirited (“Tragic deaths,” Aug. 16), and what amazes me is that there is no one out there who appreciated her article enough to praise it. I admit I was shocked when I read what she said of the plane crash, because she was the only member of the media who dared to suggest the event was not the “American Tragedy” it had been so ineptly titled. While others glossed over the novice pilot’s lack of flying skills and tried to excuse him by damning nature, Amiel did not shy from putting blame where it was deserved: actions have consequences, and no amount of looks or breeding can save you from that fact.

Dalia Tubis, Toronto

Though it troubles me that people such as the Kennedys are often deified by the public, it concerns me more when they are so eagerly put in their place by those who feel this insatiable need to do so. JFK Jr. and his wife were neither saints nor were they simple. We mourn their loss not only for who they were, but also for what they never had a chance to become. I have come to realize that sadness during these times is only representative of the grief inside of us all. Sadly, enough is often not enough for people who do not understand this.

Jill DaSilva, Calgary