The Mail

The Mail

February 21 2000
The Mail

The Mail

February 21 2000

The Mail

The railways

Sir John A. Macdonald must be rolling in his grave. The first prime minister declared that in order for Canada to remain Canadian, we must have an eastwest transportation system and that it must be subsidized (“Rolling south,” Cover, Feb. 7). I would suggest that Canadian National Railway CEO Paul Tellier take one day off a month and think about what he is doing to Canada. Jean Leahy, Fort St. John, B.C.

As a follower of the mega-merger movement in the United States, it has become very clear to me that, so far, the mergers have proved less than successful. The Union Pacific-Southern Pacific merger brought chaos to Texas, and nearly brought Union Pacific to its knees. Norfolk Southern and CSX are

Letters to the Editor

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having huge problems “digesting” Conrail. Everywhere, shippers are furious. Intentionally or otherwise, your article may have illustrated very neatly what the Canadian National-Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. merger is all about. Much of your article was about Paul Tellier and not the railways, and I fear that much of this merger is about Paul Tellier and not the railways.

Martin Watts, Virden, Man.

As a recent traveller on Via Rail from Vancouver to Halifax, I object to your understatement of what Via really does, and your focus solely on the Ontario-Quebec perspective (“Getting Via back on track”). While the QuebecWindsor corridor may represent 85 per cent of the ridership, as stated, it represents only a third of the territory serviced by Via Rail. And the service provided on Via is outstanding; the facilities provided are first-class, as advertised. Canadians wanting to escape the regionalism of whatever area they come from would benefit greatly from that ocean-to-ocean trip on Via Rail.

David Foster, Mackenzie, B.C.

Trans Canada Trail

Your negative article on the Trans Canada Trail project fails to mention that most ATV-accessible parts of the trail are located in Canadas North and other remote regions, where ATVs are a way of life (“A hiker’s dream gets lost in the din,” Opening Notes, Jan. 24). Other sections travel over public land and through provincial parks, where local governments, not the Trans Canada Trail Foundation, regulate ATV accessibility. The article states that the Trans Canada Trail’s founders had envisioned a quiet cross-country corridor. The TCTF’s literature has always indicated

that the trail will also travel through densely populated urban areas and that snowmobiles are one of our core activities. We have always been honest in our publicity. Please ensure that you have all the facts before criticizing a project that so many have worked tirelessly to realize.

John Bellini, Executive Director, Trans Canada Trail Foundation, Montreal

‘Stevie Y’

Thank you for your article on hockey player Steve Yzerman (“The modest man from Motown,” Sports, Feb. 7). I always enjoy reading about a hometown boy who makes good, and he seems a decent guy. But I am no longer satisfied with decent guys (or gals) who happen to earn $12 million a year in sports or entertainment. I agree with TV-show host Oprah Winfrey, who said recently that there comes a point where you can’t spend all of it anymore and you have to start giving back to the community. Social workers, teachers, nurses and caregivers of all kinds are more worn out than Yzerman at the end of the day. So don’t just tell me he’s

Brands and quality

As a brand manager in a company that is not sure whether it believes in branding, I found your article “Waging a war on branding” (Business, Jan. 31) rather provocative. Branding of Texas cattle has been commonplace, but not for the reasons popularized by Hollywood. Cattle were branded by the rancher to aid in their sale; the stockyard buying the 200 head knew who was standing behind the sale if five of them keeled over a few days after the cheque cleared. To this day, that is still the basic concept behind branding; brands reduce the risk to the customer. I agree that corporations are maybe overdoing it with brands, but when you think about it, the consumer still wins, because when quality starts to slip, things need to be rectified very quickly if permanent damage is to be avoided.

Michel Castagner, Willingboro, N.J.

an honest sportsman, a role model, a good husband and father. Tell me he’s funding breakfast programs or offering scholarships to inner-city kids, or supporting medical research or the arts. Although a pensioner myself, I routinely assign about seven per cent of my aftertax income to the causes I support. Tell me Yzerman does the same (or better) and I’m really going to be impressed. Joan Johnston, Toronto

Thank you for writing an article about the highly talented and amazingly underrated Steve Yzerman. It is about time everyone knew what hockey experts and Red Wings fans have known for years: if there is such a thing as the perfect hockey player, it would be Stevie Y. It scares me that he may retire from playing in three more seasons. There is no way he could ever be replaced on the ice, or in our hearts.

Jenn Everaert, Wallaceburg, Ont.

Taxes, spending

The article “Money to the wind” (Canada, Feb .7) regarding the internal audit of the $ 1-billion job-creation programs in the federal human resources department upsets me immeasurably as a taxpayer for more than 50 years. It boggles the mind to even try to imagine such a sum of money being doled out with little or no accountability when we all know how niggardly this government has been in funding postsecondary education and health care. This kind of questionable spending priorities and financial administration is nothing short of criminal and calls for a full-scale investigation by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

F. M. Frey, Okanagan Falls, B.C.

Let me assure you that not all projects that have been funded by the federal human resources development Canada budget are of a controversial nature. The commitment and vision that our local human resources development office has shown to Gateway Café Youth Job Network Centre is worthy of notice. This project has facilitated the support of at-risk youth in finding meaningful and lasting employment. To date, we have assisted more than 400 people between the ages of 15 and 29 in

finding full-time jobs. This, in turn, empowers these young Canadians and enables them to be contributing members of our society. Jane Stewart, the human resources minister, deserves credit for the decision taken by her hardworking staff at Toronto’s Danforth office to invest in our Canadian youth.

Mario F. Ferri, Executive Director, West Scarborough Neighbourhood Community Centre, Toronto

Gambling seniors

Casinos make their money in a way we can all do without, especially seniors (“Gambling it all away,” Canada, Feb. 7). Earning one’s living by selling people a service they do not need is possibly the most unproductive use of a human life. To thrive off those who are vulnerable and addicted to gambling should be deemed a crime. Sure, casinos bring in the big bucks for government and charities, but how much productive time and how many lives do they destroy? May all people realize what a black hole casinos really are and find better alternatives.

Joe Hegedus, Edmonton

I read with interest the story about gambling, having recently been to Casino Rama for the first and last time. I have never seen so much money eaten up by slot machines and gaming tables in so little time. To me, this type of gambling is nothing more than the government’s legal method of extorting money from the very people who really cannot afford to be there and do not have the strength to walk away.

Lori Stanson, Kitchener, Ont.

Your article was simplistic. I doubt you could find even one more person like the frequent gambler 75-year-old Elsie Rice. As well, no one in the accompanying photo looks to be a day over 40. Most of the seniors I know budget a portion of their income to lotteries, casinos, etc. Even if it’s 20 per cent, what else have they got to spend it on? Downhill skiing? Bungee jumping?

I suspect if you did a study of people over 60 with gambling addictions, the numbers would be significantly less than those of younger generations.

Allen Wrigley, Barrie, Ont.

It is not at all patronizing or paternalistic to expect all provincial governments to inform seniors—and other age-groups—of issues around gambling and problem gambling. All citizens are currently dealing with a massive knowledge gap in this area. Now that very rapid electronic gambling machines are being promoted and expanded into Canadian communities, the need for consumer education is even more evident. The reality is that fourto six-second game cycles are not more of the same. A lot of money can be lost in a very short period of time.

Nancy Langille, Belleville, Ont.

The wrong province

Your article “Reform’s gamble” (Canada, Jan. 31) caught my attention. Last time I checked, I lived in the province of Saskatchewan and Lee Morrison was the MP for the riding in which I reside—the Cypress Hills/ Grasslands constituency, located in Saskatchewan and not Alberta as your article would suggest.

Ingrid Cazakoff, Shaunavon, Sask.