The Mail

February 14 2000

The Mail

February 14 2000
I’ve decided your Jan. 31 issue (“The best & worst mutual funds,” Cover) is more of a keepsake than your millennium edition. “Too good to be true?” is second to none as a reminder of the foolish times in which we live. The “new era” that has supposedly reformed the business cycle is nothing more than the hyper-myopia of economists who forget were in the midst of the greatest financial asset inflation yet. Financial assets are being used to leverage loans and pay programmers in much the same way that legal tender is used. With stock markets worth 1.5 times what the U.S. economy produces, and growing, we have too much money chasing too few goods. RRSP-holders beware.

Eric Miller, Ottawa


I take great exception to “Celluloid sorceress” (Films, Jan. 31). The “bearwalker” is a myth, and that some people claim to believe it does not in any way make it a reality. And how in the world would anyone think that assault, “physically, mentally and emotionally,” could be “accidental” in the first place? The practice of bear-walking provides a cover for violence in native communities, particularly against women, as the film reviewed, Back roads, exemplifies. The promotion of spiritualism and mythology obstructs scientific thought and contributes to the isolation and dependency of aboriginal people. Articles like this help to maintain those conditions. Albert Howard, Toronto

Negative images

Seeing a photograph of the black, tumour-ridden lungs of a (deceased) smoker was the final straw I needed to kick a nasty 10-year, one-pack-a-day nicotine habit. This was five years ago, and I love being a nonsmoker. I truly hope to see graphic images like those proposed on all cigarette packages— soon (“Truth and consequences,” Health, Jan. 31). Ulla Albrecht, Lion’s Head, Ont.

If we are serious about preventing more Canadians from getting hooked on smoking, we need to target the positive image it has been given. And this includes the media, not simply the advertising produced by the tobacco industry. In your story, teenager Arthur Kaznowski and tobacco industry spokesman Rob Parker are both correct—you can publish the health hazards in intense and graphic detail, but there will always be people who will smoke anyway. This proposal is a bold move by federal Health Minister Allan Rock, and I wish him every success in shoving it down the industry’s throat. But I challenge Rock to go one step further and attack the problems we face with sex and alcohol, such as drunk driving, binge drinking, promiscuity, unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. I believe we cannot begin to face these problems until we challenge the positive and two-dimensional images they have been given through the media. Mark D. Ronhaar, Southport, Man.

I have a seven-year-old son who is your proverbial risk-taker, no danger is too great! He only just confessed to me his longing to try smoking when he is old enough. I was quick to show him the effects of smoking—the picture in Macleans of what will happen to the brand-new teeth soon to fill the gaps in his pumpkin-like mouth. The result is exactly what I was hoping for: not a comment from him, just deep thought. Why wait until our children are teenagers to show them these thoughtprovoking pictures? Let’s start in elementary schools, where the thoughts of “smoking is cool” are already embedding themselves into their sponge-like, easily influenced little minds. Julie Sherwood, Burlington, Ont.

ATVs on the Trail

I, too, am dismayed and angry— and sickened—that part of the Trans Canada Trail is being opened up to ATVs and other motorized vehicles (“A hikers’ dream gets lost in the din,” Opening Notes, Jan. 24). I’m sure this new motorized trail is not what thousands of hikers have supported and looked forward to. I’m withdrawing my support of the trail. I’ve asked for my donation to be returned, and it might force the policy-makers to rethink this decision if others did the same. I have no interest in supporting these noisy, polluting (and often reckless) forms of recreation. We need a little more peace and quiet! Dan Pernokis, Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.


Ouch! Do I sense the hiss of an aging cat clawing away at the perk and ambition of the feisty Jan Wong (“Lunch with Jan Wong,” Jan. 31)? Perhaps Allan Fotheringham, in realizing his prose has been limited to tales from an over-the hill traveller, feels threatened by a woman who reminds him so much of himself (as a young buck) that all he can do is toss about petty insults regarding her dining etiquette. Kasie Colbeck, Toronto

I delighted in Allan Fotheringhams column about lunch with Jan Wong— the two Mr. Blackwells of journalism are perfectly suited to duking it out in a viper pit. However, when Mr. Pot calls Miss Kettle a cheap tipper, I must point out I served Fotheringham a gutful of his favourite single-malt scotch on an authors’ evening in Toronto’s Coyote Grill in 1993, and he left me not one sou. Elizabeth Bricknell, Toronto

Foth said Jan Wong left only an $8 tip on a $70 restaurant bill. No customer should be expected to pay a gratuity on the taxes, only the food, beverage and service portion. Deducting eight-percent Ontario sales tax and seven-percent GST leaves a tab of $60.87. An $8 tip works out to 13.14 per cent, a lot closer to the 15-per-cent guideline than Fotheringhams slight suggests. Jerry Dykman, Morden, Man.

Allan Fotheringham was at his finest in his “Lunch with Jan Wong.” Anyone who appreciates rapier-sharp wit with a charming dose of conversation by implication has to conclude that this piece was a virtuoso performance. I felt as if I was there witnessing every action. I had to read it twice to take in every bite. Bill Hazlewood, Toronto

Canadian health care

The medical manpower crisis today in Canada is due to a deliberate effort by government to control the working lives of self-employed physicians by coercion and regulation (“Paying doctors to keep us healthy,” Health, Jan. 31). This policy must end immediately or the situation will get even worse. We are all tired of the daily abuse heaped upon us by many segments of society. Our skills are taken for granted despite long hours of dedicated service for bargain-basement fees. Our stress levels are too high and the personal-tax bite is a killer. Most of us have given up already. Dr. E. F. Dobkin, Toronto

I am pleased that you have brought attention to the care of the elderly and the looming crisis of aging baby boomers (“All in the family,” Cover, Jan. 17). However, I am appalled at the portrayal of nursing homes. The image described is one that may have applied in the 1950s and ’60s, but is not common anymore. I have worked as a registered nurse in long-term care for 20 years. During this time, I have visited many homes that do not in any way fit the image portrayed. In fact, I, along with my colleagues, have worked very hard to dispel these myths. It is a shame that our trusted national magazine has done such an injustice to the long term-care industry. Betty Matheson, Tatamagouche, N.S.

Your article “Hidden heartbreak” (Cover, Jan. 17) was thorough, informative and a wake-up call to people that a serious issue is at hand. One of our main objectives at the Alzheimer Society is to make people aware of the coming onslaught of those who will be affected by Alzheimer’s disease and to encourage action that will prevent a crisis. Your article has helped greedy in this matter. Steve Rudin, Executive Director, Alzheimer Society of Canada, Toronto

My father was the 69-year-old gentleman referred to in your recent editorial about the health-care system (“A modest proposal for the ER crisis,” From the Editor, Jan. 17). He died in Weyburn, Sask., after waiting two days for a cardiac bed in Regina. To be honest, the complication that killed him after his heart attack would probably have killed him whether he was in the cardiac-care unit in Regina or at the Ottawa Heart Institute. But the lack of a cardiac bed in Regina robbed him of any chance that he did have for survival. He was a fit, active nonsmoker. He was too young to die. The problem was that every cardiac bed in Regina was full with cardiac patients, and there were others in rural Saskatchewan waiting as well. The cardiac-care unit is a lifeboat and when it is funded with too few beds for the people who need it, people have to wait. This wasn’t a bizarre event, this is a typical example of the way the health-care system functions. The reality in Canada is that patients on long cardiac waiting lists die, patients waiting more than a year for a total hip replacement suffer, and cancer spreads while waiting two months for diagnostic-imaging studies and months more after to see an oncologist or radiation therapist. My father’s doctor did everything he was supposed to do to get my dad transferred. He called the cardiac unit numerous times. A Regina cardiologist who just happened to be doing a traveling clinic in Weyburn saw my father and recommended that he be transferred to Regina. To blame the rural doctors for miscommunication as has been done in the media by healthcare administrators is just plain crap. The system needs to be fixed. Dr. Paul C. Grimm, Associate Professor, Pediatric Nephrology, University of California at San Diego

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