The Mail

The Mail

April 2 2001
The Mail

The Mail

April 2 2001

The Mail

Ancient travels

It is surprising, and not so surprising, to hear the controversy over the origins of North Americans raised again (“Mystery of the first North Americans,” Cover, March 19). More than 10 years ago, a book by the American mythologist and folklorist Joseph Campbell, Flight of the Wild Gander, traced art and pottery design around the world, concluding convincingly that men and women also travelled from Polynesia across the Pacific Ocean. I think it is a given that if the truly comfortable southern regions were not already extensively populated, the nomadic peoples would not have been nomadic. That indicates civilization—that’s what happens to populations of any real size—and that indicates history more ancient than we presently accept.

Hugh McGillivray, Kelowna, B.C.

Archeology, like all science, does not purposely ignore new provocative data like the idea that the ice corridor had remained closed during the entire Clovis culture period. New data are often analyzed and then rejected if judged improbable. Only well-backed theories will eventually (sometime many years later) be accepted by the „ scientific community. This is the way 1 all science is made. As for the theories I that the first inhabitants of the Amer| icas came by boat from Australia, there £ is a world of difference between being one or two days away from shore and food and one or two months away from shore and food. A hunter who came from Asia by foot or by boat using the land bridge would be following a food supply. A hunter coming from Europe along the ice cap would have nothing to eat for weeks.

Nicolas Cadieux, Montreal

The real mystery of the first North Americans is why they were treated so savagely Humanity would have a better sense of its past, and of its future, if the Europeans had stayed home.

Bruce Warren, New Westminster, B.C.

I am amazed you made no mention of Norwegian explorer and writer Thor Heyerdahl, who more than half a century ago asserted that human populations throughout the world have had repeated, though sporadic, contact with one another. It was on the basis of that theory that he undertook the Kon-Tiki,

An absurd debate?

Is it not absurd to debate the safety of weapons of war, an abhorrent state of the human condition that inflicts unspeakable horror and untold suffering on soldiers and civilians alike (“Lethal weapons,” Special Report/Canada and the World, March 19)? The more we are exposed to the effects of military actions, the less likely we are to unleash them except in the most dire of circumstances. War is not the clean surgical Nintendo video clips we see on the news each night. Weapons are designed to kill and cause damage, that is their function, no more and no less. Let’s not lose sight of the forest for the trees. Douglas Williams, Calgary

Aku-Aku and Ra expeditions, thereby demonstrating that it was possible for prehistoric peoples to have made such prolonged voyages with the technology that was available to them.

Ted Engel, Vancouver

Debating death

Dr. Foth’s predictable rant regarding the death penalty (“Death penalty insanity,” Allan Fotheringham, March 19) breaks no new ground with me, nor, I suspect, with any of the other “uncivilized” supporters of this just penalty. If we are to believe Fotheringham, fully 66 per cent of the population of the United States and more than half of Canadians are nothing more than “nuts,” and certainly not “civilized.” How nice indeed, for Foth and his liberal elite buddies to have all the answers to this never-ending debate. The death penalty argument never was about de-

terrence, despite what the abolitionist side would have you believe. I do not believe in capital punishment for every murder. But every once in a while, a killer comes along who so defiles the public trust that the death penalty seems the only way of drawing the line. Gordon P. MacKinnon, Mississauga, Ont.

State murder is insane. I abhor the barbaric practice. The purpose of punishment is to deter, so it should be done at high noon in front of City Hall in living colour before television audiences. I wonder how long the practice would continue if that procedure were followed in all cases.

Bruce Jack, Fredericton

Whenever there is talk against the death penalty, I hear names like GuyPaul Morin, David Milgaard or Donald Marshall. But what about the likes of Paul Bernardo, Clifford Olson and the other brutal repeat offenders that have criminal files as thick as an encyclopedia? While we pamper them in prisons, we lack resources in our healthcare system to treat serious diseases in nice law-abiding people. The world is not crazy and some state murders are not insane if it makes our nation safer and more peaceful.

Louis Tousignant, Baie-Comeau, Que.

Stop the bullies

Students killing students and teachers is indeed a very terrible thing to read about (“Bloodshed at an American school,” World Notes, March 19), live through and imagine. It breaks my heart each time I read about those involved in such tragedies.

Yes, security guards, point checks, and peers, teachers and family watching for potential signs of violence all must be maintained, but what about focusing on stopping the behaviour of the taunters who cause the student to feel so desperate and lonely as to want to commit such violent acts? The bullying, teasing,

ostracizing and many other forms of cruelty must be controlled and punished. We must be proactive in these situations. Take seriously the complaints of the abused student, watch for signs of stress, and teach students that their actions could cause someone not as stable as they are to react inappropriately. The common catalyst must be recognized and removed. Many acts of violence happen because the student feels the only way to stop his torment or get attention is by doing something drastic and tragic. Lets start at the root of the problem, and by directing attention to this we will be able to save children’s lives—the tormented and the tormentors.

C. A. Graham, Windsor, Ont.

‘Disturbing’ phones

Regarding your Business Note on government plans for controlled cellphone jamming (“A call to jam cellphones,” March 19), I cannot tell you how disturbing these cellphones are to me. By taking away the little public space left to human beings, they seriously degrade our quality of life and dignity. Restaurants, trains, public washrooms—their presence goes on and on. I find it outrageous that manufacturers would want to block controlled jamming, with the lame excuse that it would interfere with emergency calls. I only hope the government will persevere with these measures.

Barry Lane, Sillery, Que.

Once again, I am extremely annoyed by an attempt to regulate social behaviour. For Industry Canada to even consider licensing cellphone jammers is yet another obvious waste of government money. People should have enough sense on their own to be courteous to others. What next, licensed muzzles for people who choose to be rude enough to talk during the movie? Ridiculous.

Todd Underhill, Quispamsis, N.B.

A matter of degrees

The story “Raising the requirements” (Education, March 12) includes the statement, “If young people want to make a career in nursing, a degree is going to be a necessity.” There are two sectors of professional nurses in Canada, registered nurses and registered practical nurses (or licensed practical nurses in provinces other than Ontario). There are over 33,000 RPNs in Ontario, many of whom provide nursing care in hospitals, long-term-care facilities and the community. In Ontario, RPNs are regulated by the College of Nurses and recendy, like the RNs, have undergone a review of competency profiles. As a result, the RPN education requirements have been advanced to the diploma level and must be secured through an approved college. Continued collaboration in health-care delivery will help to address the concerns of the current nursing shortage.

Patricia Nesbitt, President, Registered Practical Nurses Association of Ontario, Mississauga, Ont.

Winnipeg’s mayor

I applaud your article on Winnipeg’s mayor, Glen Murray (“Winnipeg’s pride,” Canada, March 5). While travelling recently, I happened upon a small

town in western Kentucky, with a distinctly segregated population. The townsfolk were very comfortable letting sleeping dogs lie. One evening, I asked a group how they would react to a gay mayor. I was confronted with a number of less-than-enlightened responses, which I could only shrug off politely. Although I may not entirely agree with Murray’s political effectiveness, I admire his drive, ambition and courage. I am proud to live in a city that values people for what they represent, rather than whom they represent.

Mike Guthrie, Winnipeg

Western alienation

In his letter, Ruben Bellan argues the Alberta government owes its underground resource revenues to a federal order-in-council of 1887, providing homesteaders with only surface rights to their land, so that the federal government might have subsurface revenues (“Alberta boom times,” The Mail, Feb. 26). He went on to say that the terms of Confederation allocated natural resources to provincial governments, implying these revenues always accrued to provinces. What he neglects to say is that the federal government withheld the transfer of all natural resources, land (surface and subsurface), forests, water,

etc. from provincial control in the Prairie provinces until the British North America Act was amended in 1930. It is inconceivable that this could have been done in Ontario and Quebec. The net result of this delay was that huge revenues went to the federal government. The West has, in many ways— from these beginnings to the National Energy Program—been treated in a cavalier way by the federal government. Now that Albertans, in particular, are reaping the benefits of living in that province, it is befitting that the rest of Canada acknowledge and celebrate their good fortune, rather than attempt to discredit it.

Jim Coliinson, Plcton, Ont.

Independent living

I was surprised and delighted to see the article on what happens to disabled children after their parents die (“Planning for a life after death,” Life, March 5). I will tell you: nothing. I know from personal experience, for I have a physical disability and both my parents are gone. The article implied that people like me are in the minority. That may be true, but I have been making my own decisions for a long time. When I decided to go to university, my sister thought I should go to Alberta, but I chose Brandon in Manitoba. I loved every minute I was there. Not every disabled person needs their parents’ help from the grave.

M. E. Hanson, Saskatoon

I am a university-educated 50-year-old with cerebral palsy. For 40 years, looking at me you would have seen a determined young lady with no speech, an unbalanced walk and use of only one spastic hand, enjoying the heck out of life. My husband called me “a RollsRoyce engine in a VW Beede.” Today, that Rolls has a badly smashed body as the result of a stroke in 1998. My husband is now my primary caregiver. What happens to me when he is no longer able to give me the 24-hour care I require? My bath alone takes an hour to properly do. Nursing homes do not have that quantity or quality of time. For us, it is an impossible question to answer.

Anna Simmonds, Fenelon Falls, Ont.