The Maclean’s poll showed that the No. 1 concern for most Canadians is a wide spectrum of social issues, including health care, education and poverty (“We are Canadian,” Cover, Dec. 25/Jan. 1). This seems in stark contrast to the platforms we were presented in the November federal election by most of the national parties, which were heavily slanted towards tax cuts and debt reduction. One must wonder: why were the parties so myopically focused on issues that resonate with, according to your poll, only about eight per cent of the population? The answer is contained within the demographics of the poll itself. As your article pointed out, this group was composed mostly of “essentially higherincome-earning males.” It is not supposed to happen in a democracy, but in Canada, it is clear that he who pays the piper calls the tune.
Rory McRandall, Bancroft, Ont.
It is not surprising to see Canadians more interested in increasing spending on health care than paying down our debt. I wonder how many of us would support that view if we were to look into the future 10 to 20 years. As baby boomers age, there will be an unprecedented demand for more spending on
health care. The health-care crisis of today pales in comparison to what it will be like in 20 years when the percentage of the population greater than age 65 will be 50 per cent larger than it is now. Governments should work to pay down a large portion of our debt over the next seven to eight years when financial times will be good to prepare us to deal with significant social issues in the future. If we don’t, our income tax levels will increase significantly and we will have no choice but to introduce a formalized two-tier system of health care.
Rick Goldring, Burlington, Ont.
It is interesting to note that despite the apparent concern about social issues revealed in your annual survey, Canadians have become quite cynical about government’s ability to affect issues like environmental protection and poverty. You suggest that Canadians are willing to wait for tax relief while the government addresses social problems; yet according to your poll, 52 per cent of Canadians feel that government is “undertaking too many functions and individuals should be more responsible for their lives.” Perhaps Canadians realize that while the intentions of federal job-creation programs may reflect their ideals, their implementation and effectiveness leave much to be desired.
Craig Smith, Lucan, Ont.
Let’s join Britain
As a political economist,
lo these 50 years, I heartily agree with Peter C. Newman’s likely outcome(s) for Canada should the North American Free Trade Agreement be converted to a “Common Market” (“The end of Canada?” Essay, Jan. 8). Just as surely as Britain’s culture and heritage is being submerged by continental Europe’s union, so will Canada be smothered in a common-market union of the Americas. My model of a future NAFTA is to change the name to North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement and invite Britain to join us. We have a common culture, language, system of law, business ethic and acumen that would create an economic dynamo. Later, we might ask other Commonwealth countries, such as Australia and New Zealand, to join the new NAFTA. Thus, our sovereignty and unique qualities would remain and be fostered. Hugh Douglas, Dorval, Que.
I cannot help noticing that more than 50 per cent of your article “Public pillow talk” focuses on the sex lives of people with multiple lovers or homosexual tendencies. Yet your poll identifies that far fewer than 50 per cent of Canadians are involved in such lifestyles. Surely you are not manipulating your results so that you attract your readership by titillating their coarser interests? If so, I am afraid you are promoting lifestyles that are demonstrably fraught with emotional and physical pitfalls without discussing those dangers. To paraphrase former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, the pollster has no business in the bed-
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rooms of the nation. My compliments to those polled who chose not to answer your superficial questions.
Doug Raynor, Huntsville, Ont.
The apparent preoccupation with sex continues at a high price (“Titillating times”). With a pandemic of sexually transmitted diseases numbering more than two dozen, some of which are easily transmitted regardless of condom use, sexual intimacy carries a high price. Love and marriage should be the precursor to sexual intimacy. Sex was meant to be the physical expression of affection in a monogamous relationship, not an animal a a of lust that society has embraced in its physical hunger for instant sexual gratification.
Edward Kennedy, Harrowsmlth, Ont.
A new system
Most comments from Western Canada indicate that the East votes Liberal and the West, Alliance, suggesting a split between the two (“Election results,” The Mail, Dec. 18). This is not an in-depth analysis, for if you look a little closer you will see almost 50 per cent of Ontarians did not vote Liberal. A similar situation exists in the West and the Alliance vote. Our electoral system seems to distort voting patterns, emphasizing differences rather than the opposite. Under a proportional system, Ontario would elect only about 50 members for the Liberals with the other three parties receiving the rest of the seats. Then what would the West say? What would have been the outcome of the election if we had a proportional system? Its time for change.
Jim Clark, Toronto
Thanks to Barbara Amiel for such an insightful column (“Lingering U.S. election myths,” Dec. 25/Jan. 1). As an American, reading Macleans shatters
the myth that all English-speaking people in North America are the same and have the same point of view. Amiels column does that for the recent U.S. presidential election in pointing out the inconsistencies of the “common wisdom” purveyed by the mainstream U.S. media. Her analysis is clearly thought out and to the point, unlike so many others who deal only in perceptions. This column truly was a no-spin zone. Steve Paulson, Pittsburgh
I always enjoy reading Barbara Amiel s columns, although I admit that sometimes I find myself looking in vain for a punchline. Perhaps she could preface her writings with a hint as to whether she is sharing a bit of ironic humour with her readers. In “Lingering U.S. election myths,” she dismisses any concerns over the barely 50-percent turnout for the U.S. presidential election. According to Amiel, Americans stayed away from the polls in droves because a) “voters know that both political parties could reasonably govern America, so why worry,” and b) “a lot of Americans don’t care much about government because it simply interferes with their lives; something’s very right when a country appears so well run that citizens just don’t bother.” This Orwellian logic naturally leads to some other convenient conclusions: since blacks, Latinos, the poor and marginalized in U.S. society have the lowest voter turnout, they must be the happiest of all. Amiels tortured logic is a great example of a loyal commissar’s devotion to a system that serves her pampered class.
Brian Bacon, Vancouver
Did Foth get a big fat employee discount for the full-page ad he ran about his son’s book (“Dr. Foth Jr., I presume,” Allan Fotheringham, Dec. 25/Jan. 1), or was he actually paid for his musings?
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