The Mail

The Mail

March 13 2000
The Mail

The Mail

March 13 2000
Whether we like it or not, one of the realities of globalization is that Canada now has far too many high-production cost farmers (“Winter of discontent,” Cover, Feb. 28). This is not the fault of farmers, who find themselves the victims of Canadian costs and geography, as well as the treasuries of other major agricultural countries. Instead of continuing with the failed system of doling out relief money, Agriculture Minister Lyle Vanclief should be looking for new and innovative solutions. For example, well before the desperation levels described in your cover story are reached, offer easy-to-qualify-for training programs and generous living allowances so farmers can use their multiple skills

to find off-farm employment. Let them sell their farm assets while they still have value, without fear of clawback penalties. Give their more efficient, diversified neighbours low-cost or no-cost loans so they can expand without the consequence of crushing debt. Governments and private enterprise give their employees buyout packages when they downsize. It’s time for Canadians to show their gratitude for inexpensive, high-quality food by doing the same for farmers. Paul Bailey, St. Catharines, Ont.

Sorry, but the romance of the family farm is as dated as feudalism. A century ago, my father did all right homesteading 3,000 acres southwest of Medicine Hat, Alta., then an economic size for a family. He died in 1925, and mother sold out to the neighbor, making for an enlarged ranch of6,000 acres, by then the required size for an economic family operation. By the 1940s, the ranch was enlarged to 9,000 acres with the need to stay competitive. In the ’60s, the last remaining son of the original homesteaders in this valley sold the 9,000 acres to a cattle company. Same sad, old story all over the West. George Atkinson, Calgary

I was born and raised on a farm in Alberta. The year before I started farming on my own, barley sold for up to $3.25 a bushel. I put in my first crop and sold barley that fall for $ 1.90 a bushel. If I go broke or get starved out of farming, the land doesn’t miss a year of production because I am not there. If the next person to take over the land can’t make a go of it after a few years, then there is another person after that to try again. The government pays lip service to helping the farmers, but has no real interest in changing anything because the commodities are still being produced. The farmers on the edge being squeezed out can squeal all they want, but it is only a short squeal and then they disappear. Barry Luft, Okotoks, Alta.

Saskatchewan farmers are micromanaged far too heavily by a provincial government perpetually hell-bent on re-election, and a greedy Canadian Wheat Board. Farmers need someone who really cares, a premier to stand up for them, help them diversify and save for the rough times. We in Alberta have learned firsthand that hard work, good government and a strong leader can make all the difference in a foundering economy. Glen Gunderson, Drayton Valley, Alta.

Best man for the job

On Feb. 20, I was given one more reason to be proud to be a Canadian. On that date, the NDP of British Columbia chose their new leader and premier, Ujjal Dosanjh, not to be politically correct by electing someone from a visible minority, but to choose whom they believed to be the best man, regardless of his ethnic origin or the fact he was not Canadian-born (“Sikh power,” Cover, Feb. 21). This speaks volumes for the people of British Columbia, a province that in its history has known a lot of racial intolerance. Moris Lauber, Victoria

Canada in the Sudan

From the moment he asked me to lead an assessment mission to the Sudan, I have been in close touch with Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy, and I can say that his intentions are exactly what Canadians would want in connection with the Sudan: to do whatever he can to promote human security for the people there. He was guided by my advice that, at this time, we should be trying to accomplish this through means other than applying sanctions, which would not, I argued, stop oil flowing. He has also put this issue on the agenda of the UN Security Council, where his predecessors and foreign counterparts did not. I think Bruce Wallace’s column (“A sliding moral scale,” Feb. 28) could have mentioned this so that Canadians might encourage the minister to ensure this forum does something to end the war, rather than asserting that Canada’s foreign policy is sanctimonious and built on hypocrisy. H. John Harker, Ottawa

Busting the boomers

I was extremely pleased to see “Why do you fear us?” by Derek Chezzi (Over to You, Feb. 28). I think it is important for the baby boomers to know how the younger generation feels. People ask me why I, at 25, am still living at home, not understanding that I am unable to obtain a permanent contract and therefore cannot afford a home of my own. Rhonda Wlock, Brandon, Man.

I am a 24-year-old female engineer working on Bay Street. Sometimes people ask me if it’s tough to be a woman in a man’s world. The truth is that being a woman is the minor problem. The real struggle is being a young person in a baby boomer world. When Fm asked by a well-intention superior what I want to be when I grow up, I wonder if I should have stayed at school and done a master’s, if only to have aged a bit before entering the “real world.” While it may make the middle-aged feel younger and more important to see us twenty-somethings in the mailroom rather than in the boardroom, such delusions of immortality can be dangerous. What is going to happen to your companies (not to mention your country) when it’s time to kick back and buy those Winnebagos? S. H. Castura, Toronto

With an attitude like his, Derek Chezzi will be wiping tables for a long time. I’m one of those 50ish types he has such a chip on his shoulder about, except, contrary to his beliefs, as an independent contractor I have no job security or sweet pension plan. If I want income, I have to successfully bid on a project, complete it within budget and then collect payment. I also have two daughters, 26 and 28, both successful in their respective fields of finance and medicine. Neither of them waited around for a fictional someone to retire. Ron Armstrong, Victoria

Young criminals

Joe Wamback and his family have unfortunately been thrown into the world of the victim, not only by the violent beating of his son, Jonathan, but also by our system of justice (“Crusader for justice,” Crime, Feb. 28). He knows only too well now the blatant disregard for public safety that the government continues to show by not taking off the blinders called the Young Offenders Act. My four-year-old son, Joshua, was killed in September, 1994, by a young offender in a stolen van being chased by the police. Joe Wamback now has more than 706,000 Canadians supporting him for changes to the YOA. I am ashamed the government continues to send a message that violence is tolerated and you can get away with murder. Sally Baillie, Richmond, Ont.

You left out the most important part of the article—the Web address for Joe Wamback’s petition for reform of the Young Offenders Act: www. - Johanne Frechette, Keswick, Ont.

Making it big

Bravo for your article “Tea for tens of thousands” (Music, Feb. 21). It sometimes seems that Canadian artists struggle to be recognized in other countries and to gain the fame that they deserve. However, this article shows that our bands are making an impact in other parts of the world. The Tea Party, which is one of my favorite bands, has been well-known in Canada for a few years now, and it is nice to know they are making it big in other countries, like Australia, too. Nickey Tournier, Carman, Man.

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