The Mail

The Mail

Canadian excellence

July 17 2000
The Mail

The Mail

Canadian excellence

July 17 2000

Your feature article about seven high achievers, talking about and praising Canadian attributes, was heartwarming and inspiring, to say the least (“Great Canadians,” Cover, July 1). Canadians desperately need to hear that we are OK, that we are innovative, intelligent, successful, and that we can compete without trying to be like Americans. It is refreshing to hear something positive for a change. Joan Good, Toronto

I enjoyed the “Great Canadians” article, particularly the piece on news anchor Peter Jennings. It brought to mind one of the few times (maybe the only time) Jennings was at a disadvantage in his career. He was a staff announcer at Ottawa’s CJOH TV in the early 1960s. I was the morning-drive guy on what was then CKOY AM, one of Canada’s earliest Top 40 radio stations. One Saturday morning, Jennings phoned to say that he had been assigned, on short notice, to host the TV station’s teen dance-party show that afternoon. He confided that he knew little about the current teen music scene. In return for coaching him, I asked that he interview me I on his widely watched late-evening talk I show. He agreed, and we spent a large ® part of that Saturday going over current hit charts and bio briefs, as well as CKOY’s current playlist and survey of Ottawa’s hits that week. His dance party debut was a success. The same cannot be said for my interview. It came a cropper as we discussed an editorial comment program that the CBC had dropped and CKOY had picked up for broadcast—a subject that I knew even less about than Jennings did of teen music. I did survive, celebrating 46 years on the business end of a microphone this past June 24. Johnny Murphy, Portage la Prairie, Man.

In introducing Denise Donlon of MuchMusic, you remark that she grew up in the “treeless” Toronto neighborhood of Scarborough. We have just been driving through Scarborough on a lovely, warm summer day, and that description is false. There are wonderful green areas through Scarborough, and hundreds of trees, old and new. Dorothy Prosser, Toronto

Peter C. Newman identified many great Canadian inventions, including a number of engineering firsts (“A land of excellence,” Cover Essay, July 1). According to a poll conducted in connection with National Engineering Week in 1999, the heart pacemaker—invented by Canadian electrical engineer Jack Hopps in 1950—is the engineering achievement of the 20th century that makes Canadians most proud. That initial device was huge, and it was 1958 before a pacemaker was made small enough to be implanted in a human body. Hopps himself was fitted with a pacemaker in 1985, and I—a retired engineer—am also one of millions of grateful recipients of his life-extending invention. In the poll, the pacemaker was up against other top Canadian engineering accomplishments, including the Canadarm (used on space-shuttle missions), Imax (big-screen movies) and Prince Edward Island’s Confederation Bridge. Excellence is indeed a hallmark of Canadian engineering. Joe A. Riddell, Onaping, Ont.

Peter C. Newman’s praise of Canada using the example of “Ontario is about to become the number 1 auto-producing region in North America” flies in the face of a comment in the following paragraph referring to our “tragically dysfunctional health-care system.” The success of Canada's automotive industry has often been tied to the much lower cost of health-care expenses, and therefore lower production costs, that car manufacturers incur in Canada versus the United States. Even at a significantly lower cost, I will put our health-care system up against the Americans’ no-system delivery of health care any day. Kudos to Canada on both fronts. Thomas D. Malone, Winnipeg

Everyday heroes

I am an employee of Marc Rivest and David Johnson, the two heroic men who pulled pilot Roland Robert from his helicopter in August, 1998 (“Above and beyond,” Canada, July 1). I came to work for these two best friends, neighbors and business partners in January of this year. My boyfriend’s father was in a terrible car accident three weeks after I started work, and he subsequendtly died of his injuries. I was given time off with pay to get our family affairs in order before and after his death. My new employers, who had never met the deceased, sent food and flowers for the funeral. Another employee at our office could tell you that when his wife gave birth prematurely, these two heroes gave him a month off (again with pay) to deal with all the trips to the hospital. These two guys always put others before themselves. Mary Lampman, Chatham, Ont.

All of the people in “Above and beyond” risked their lives for someone else. Well, I have a story that almost went unrecognized. On June 8, 1997, while my parents were gardening at their home near a private airport in Ariss, Ont., a small Piper aircraft fell to the ground just behind their property and burst into flames. My father got to the burning aircraft and, with neighbors Trevor Barton and Susanne Foster, was able to get one of the two occupants out. My mother grabbed a bedspread and put it in cool water to help the victim. They were able to keep him alive long enough for his parents to be notified and say goodbye to their son. My father and his neighbors received the Commissioner’s Citation for Bravery. He was nominated for a Carnegie Medal, but never received it. My father is the most wonderful man I have ever met. There is nothing he wouldn’t do for anyone. Lisa Montgomery, Ariss, Ont.

‘Protest mentality’

Thank you for choosing to publish the guest submission, “Proud of my protester son” (Over to You, Beverly Young, July 1). It was so refreshing to get a glimpse of the other side of this story in the mainstream media. I attended teach-ins in Victoria and Seattle and was very impressed by the commitment to positive solutions to rampant globalization by people of all ages from around the world. Joanna Wilkinson, Victoria

Bev Young’s piece illustrates a significant problem with today’s protest mentality. Gandhi taught the world how to protest. Everyone has forgotten. There is a core of protesters who are like the soccer hooligans of England. They don’t care about the game, they just want to smash some heads. Because of this lunatic fringe and how they have transformed protesting, Young’s son (probably a very committed young man) goes to the Windsor, Ont., protest, gas mask in hand. If he was simply going to educate the Canadian public about human rights abuses in various parts of the world and let leaders of the Organization of American States know that Canadians are against violations of human rights, why did he need a gas mask? I can assure Young and her son that in the Windsor media and the national news, there was never a clear explanation about the issues that the protesters were trying to bring forward. Dr. Pat Duronio, Windsor, Ont.www.macleans.ca for more letters

In her article, Beverly Young asks: “Why am I writing this?” I know. To excuse the bad behavior of her shiftless son. Ken Tacium, Winnipeg

‘Brawn and brain’

Canadian universities may provide quality academic programs, but missing from the student body at most schools is a sense of spirit and pride in sports. Even at large schools, regardless of the sport, student attendance is very low at intercollegiate contests. Increasing the value of athletic scholarships (“Raising the stakes,” Education, July 1) will entice higher-quality athletes to enroll in Canadian universities. In turn, their presence on teams will raise the level of performance, which, in turn, will attract more fans to the games. There is no shame if our universities begin to strut brawn as well as brains, and give students, who normally quietly ponder academic questions, reason and opportunity to cheer and shout. Lawrence E. Licht, Professor of Biology, York University, Toronto

Continued suffering

As treasurer of a United Church, I have taken a keen interest in the horror stories that have unfolded recently regarding past happenings in native residential schools and the impending financial implications they may have (“Abuse of trust,” Cover, June 26). While I would never condone the incidents of abusive treatment that went on, I have often wondered if it would be more productive to provide some sort of therapeutic counseling for the victims instead of throwing money at them. I was disgusted to read that this unfortunate situation is being exacerbated by legal parasites. What’s next? Will lawyers contact people in women's shelters, homeless shelters, etc., to promise big bucks for those less fortunate by claiming wrongdoing at the hands of their caregivers? Roy Peterson, Prince Albert, Sask.

Shakespearean acting

You write in your article regarding actor Paul Gross’s Hamlet at the Stratford Festival that “Gross had acted Shakespeare only once before, when he played Romeo in a 1985 Toronto production of Romeo and Juliet” (“Passionate prince,” Theater, June 19). Not so. Gross played lead roles in professional productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, As You Like Lt and The Winter’s Tale at Northern Light Theater in Edmonton in the early 1980s, having previously performed in A Midsummer Night’s Dream during his training at the University of Alberta. Frank Moher, Gabriola Island, B.C.


Clarification

In an article published in the April 10 issue of Maclean’s (“A contrarian on AIDS”), I commented upon The Virus Within, a book authored by Nicholas Regush. My comments were intended to convey my strongly held conviction that HIV is the proven cause of AIDS. My remarks were directed at some of the messages conveyed by the book that I was concerned would confuse HIV sufferers and damage the public-health effort to combat HIV infection and AIDS. That continues to be my concern in this debate. I disagree strongly with scientific arguments presented in the book. I did not intend my comments to be a personal attack on Mr. Regush or to cause him to be shunned. To the extent that my statements were interpreted as a personal attack, I retract them and I regret any embarrassment my comments may have caused Mr. Regush personally. Dr. Mark Wainberg, McGill AIDS Center, Montreal


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