The Mail

The Mail

February 7 2000
The Mail

The Mail

February 7 2000

The Mail

E-waving goodbye

“Has Canada missed the wave?”

(Cover, Jan. 24) was of particular interest to me, as my friend and I both left Canada to join Silicon Valley companies shortly after graduating from Queens University in 1994. Since then, a steady stream of fellow graduates have moved to the area to find work. To be sure, the Silicon Valley brain drain affects other parts of the United States as badly as it affects Canada—talent is moving from New England to California as quickly as it is moving from Ontario. That said, my perception is Canadian culture is more concerned with reducing losses than promoting gains. One of the unfortunate realities I have

Letters to the Editor

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found is that accessibility and excellence rarely occupy the same space. Canada as a nation appears more focused on the former than the latter. Risk-takers typically flock to systems that have low barriers to entry—this means low taxes and low bureaucracy. Such a system will inherently create both losers and winners. Until Canada is more willing to allow people to lose, those capable of winning will go elsewhere.

Brad Clawsie, Menlo Park, Calif.

The revelation that Canada appears to be lagging in Internet entrepreneurial spirit might have been more credible had it not come on the heels of Ross Lavers Jan. 17 column, “Takethemoneyandrun.com.” Laver notes that the much-touted Internet revolution in the United States consists largely of businesses that “are swimming in red ink and have little prospect of ever mak-

Terrorist hysteria

The depiction of Canada by a

supposedly responsible American politician and government officials as harbouring hordes of terrorists plotting to attack the United States is fallacious (“The terror hunt,” World, Jan. 24). While I can understand a southern congressmans ignorance of Canadian affairs, there is no excuse for the unfounded statements by officials of the U.S. justice department who hide behind anonymity. If those officials read the intelligence reports of the FBI and CIA, they know Canada is not a haven for terrorists. There are perhaps 300 people in Canada who support, to varying degrees, violence-prone groups abroad, which, for the most part, promote causes unrelated to American inter-

ing a profit,” and entrepreneurs “driven not by a love of clever engineering but by the desire to make a killing in the stock market.” When this virtual wave finally carries its gullible investors out to sea, many Canadian investors wont mind having missed the ride.

Neil R. Thomlinson, Toronto

Anyone who picked up a paper in Canada over the past months read about DocSpace Co., a Canadian Internet start-up that remained in Canada, being acquired for more than $500 million by a publicly traded American firm called Critical Path Inc. This is only one of many success stories beginning to populate the Canadian Internet landscape, one that your article shows could be worth more than $155 billion in the next three years. I put it to you that it is the media’s responsibility to showcase success stories and companies that break the mould, not the shortcomings of the industry, the challenges it faces and the reasons why it won’t succeed. Michael Corcoran, Toronto

I think the Canadian business community is voting with its head instead of its glands. After all, e-business has been around a long time. But in decades past, we just called it “catalogue shopping.” The e-business pioneers were Sears and Eatons and the other catalogue retail-

ests. The majority of these supporters have not engaged in violent acts in Canada. There have been no incidents of Canada-based individuals committing terrorist acts south of the border. While the recent arrests of Ahmed Ressam et al may be interpreted by some Americans as a change in that situation, the reported facts do not entirely justify such a conclusion. Of the four arrested persons, only Ressam has been charged with serious offences related to explosives. Further, it is not proven that Ressam’s intentions were criminal or terrorist-related. This is a time for judicious evaluation of the situation, not for hysterical polemics such as are being heard south of the border.

Alistair Hensler, Retired Assistant Director, Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Nepean, Ont.

ers. The back end of the transaction— payment verification, stock-picking and shipping—is as traditional as it gets. The glitzy electronic front end depends on the purchaser acting in a rational rather than an emotional manner. Just because you have a Web site, it doesn’t follow that your buyers will choose to spend money on it. The bottom line on e-commerce is that it is an additional sales channel—nothing more and nothing less. The rest is all froth, hype and overvalued stock.

Bob Delaney, Mississauga, Ont.

My partner and I have lived your article for the past six months. The only place we received support for the type of funding needed for us to expand is south of the border. In Canada, as soon as you mention any amount more than a million dollars, everyone turns their back. In the United States, a million dollars is too small an amount to deal with for most funding organizations. Technical development can take place in Canada because of the wage differential and pool of talent available, but for the most part, the businesses and revenue, taxes and employment are gone.

Ray Rogers, Technical Director, iCorp Design Inc., North Vancouver

CRTC anachronism

It is not often that I find myself in agreement with Barbara Amiel. However, I do agree with her that the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission has always been another federal government board set up to provide jobs for friends of the government, and has no relevance to the operation of the broadcast industry (“It’s an endangered species,” Jan. 24). Its decisions and pronouncements are evidence it has little understanding of the industry and less of what ordinary Canadians want. To ensure the future health of Canadian broadcasting as content deliverers and providers continue to merge, government should scrap the CRTC without delay.

George W. R. Bowman, Winnipeg

With a very little research, Barbara Amiel would have found that her statement, “I suspect that close to half the CBC budget goes on maintaining an anachronistic infrastructure of transmission towers, low power relays and the huge engineering network essentially superseded by technology,” is incorrect. The total cost of the transmission and distribution infrastructure used to be less than one-tenth of the total CBC budget and is shrinking.

David L. Garforth, Retired CBC Director of Broadcast Delivery and Distribution, Beaconsfield, Que.

Long-term care

What great articles about the impact of caring for aging relatives (“All in the family,” Cover, Jan. 17). As an organization that represents 13,000 workers and 60,000 volunteers helping people live at home, we endorse the need for greater knowledge of the impact on families. Everyone, including governments, needs to realize that investment in support is critical to health care in Canada. Joe McReynolds, Executive Director, Ontario Community Support Association, Toronto

As a family physician with 25 years’ experience in caring for the elderly, both at home and in long-term-care settings, I was appalled at your biased reporting. My experience with these homes and their health-care staff is virtually the opposite of what you try to portray. Most of these employees—from the astute and dedicated nurses through to the caring and efficient support staff, such as personal care workers, volunteers or even housekeeping staff—usually perform their jobs with great dedication and, yes, love for the residents. You are looking for the Great Canadian Healthcare Scandal in long-term care, but it is simply not there.

Dr. Jack Sommers, Medical Director, Northwoodcare Inc., Halifax

When my mother was transferred to the first available nursing-home bed from hospital, our family entered the

black hole of standards in nursing-home care. One huge problem is scrutiny. I can find out far more about a hotel room in the Dominican Republic than I can about a nursing-home room down the street. There is no rating system to help families make tough decisions. Visits and tours are restricted by appointment only, usually at a time when most people are at work. There is no way to compare decor, hygiene, ratios of full-time staff, activities, quality of furnishings and supplies, meals or facility design. Alzheimer floors are sometimes worse, because they are secure and even less public. In the name of confidentiality, too much stays a secret, including shoddy professional practices. An independent rating system would reward the good homes and force the bad ones to clean up their act.

Susan Dykstra, Toronto

The government tells me where I can have a cigarette, when I can drive a car and when I can have a drink. Almost every aspect of my life is regulated by the government in some way. When is it going to regulate nursing homes with some reasonable standards?

Beth Mouratidis, Barrie, Ont.

Photo deterrents

So Health Minister Allan Rock is going to order photos of cancerous lungs, etc., on cigarette packages (“Truth and consequences,” Health, Jan. 31). How about photos of the vacant eyes of kids born with fetal alcohol syndrome, or a bloody, gory dripping liver ruined from booze placed on liquor bottles? It makes about as much sense. What a waste of resources and time.

Ron Davies, Spruce Home, Sask.

Two Rhodes women

Congratulations on your fabulous Jan. 1,2000, edition “Faces of the future” (Cover). Regarding Roshni Dasgupta being described as the “first South-AsianCanadian woman to win a Rhodes Scholarship,” I only want to point out that

my niece, Diane de Kerckhove, whose mother is an Indian-Canadian, became a Rhodes Scholar a few years before. Diane is now an astrophysicist and senior fellow at Oxford.

Ferry de Kerckhove, High Commissioner for Canada, Islamabad, Pakistan

The history of art

The article “Looted art returned” (World Notes, Nov. 13) refers to The Marriage Feast at Cana, a work of art by Giorgio Vasari that was handed over to the Hungarian government as a goodwill gesture. It was never “looted.” In fact, it was sold in 1961 by a Hungarian government-run agency in power during the Communist era, which does not speak well for them.

Guy Cogeval, Director, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal

Miners’ expectations

Several years ago, angry, unemployed Cape Breton carpenters burned down a building under construction because the owner of the building was using nonunion labour. The owner did this because Cape Breton labour was not competitive. In “Anger from the deeps” (Canada, Jan. 24), it’s mentioned that several schemes are being contemplated to bring some high-tech industry to Cape Breton. Why? Is Cape Breton prepared to be competitive? Clearly not. After $4.4 billion has been sunk into historically unprofitable enterprises, it does not seem that Cape Bretoners are prepared to make the necessary sacrifices. While I have a great deal of sympathy for the out-of-work miners, the concept that a miner, if he works hard, “could count on a job for life” is absurd. I am the owner of a high-tech enterprise and I would move it nearly anywhere that gave me a competitive advantage. However, under no circumstances would I move my company to Cape Breton. Because of endless government handouts, Cape Bretoners have developed unrealistic expectations of what is their due.

Tony Warren, Edmonton