November 4 2002


November 4 2002


'I take exception to the contemptuous tone Peter Donolo uses toward people in Canada who see value in Her Majesty.’


‘Long may she reign’

Watching news headlines during the 12day visit of Her Majesty to Canada left no doubt in my mind who provided the best public role model (“The Queen in Canada,” Cover, Oct. 21). Measured against the gauche, inept John Manley and the persistently aggressive George Bush, the grace and dignity of Queen Elizabeth was most inspiring. If these thoughts make me a “monarchist,” so be it. I like seeing the happy, respectful faces of “ordinary” citizens when they are in the presence of the royals. It is a refreshing contrast to placardcarrying protestors and non-participating voters. Until Canada produces more political leaders who demonstrate la majesté, long may she reign.

E. L. Donaldson, Calgary

Why do we have to be subjected to the cost of prostrating ourselves before the House of Windsor? Why pay to keep a Governor General as well as Lieutenant-Governors in every province? Paying for the leeches of the house of Windsor is another consequence of history that we Canadians no longer can afford. Dump the monarchy. Burt Cohen, Armstrong, B.C.

My, but those “monarchist grannies” to whom Peter Donolo refers (“A natural evolution,” Cover Essay, Oct. 21) are masters of disguise. In the crowds of people who turned out to see the Queen, those grannies were able to make themselves look like children, teenagers with tattoos, Inuit, Asians, blacks, young and old—an awful lot like a cross-section of Canada.

Byron Thomas, Toronto

Did John Manley make you do it?

Heather Hall, Campbellville, Ont.

The Crown stands for the things that unite us, while Peter Donolo’s politician pals represent the things that divide us. The Queen and her team of governors guarantee that the Constitution is obeyed; they honour Canadians for bravery and volunteerism,

encourage tolerance and community spirit and teach practical civics in their 5,000-odd public engagements each year. Donolo is a dreamer to suggest that constitutionally it would be simple to abolish the monarchy. The debate would make the constitutional bickering of the 1960s to 1990s seem a church picnic by comparison.

John L. Aimers, Dominion Chairman,

The Monarchist League of Canada, Oakville, Ont.

SCRATCH MANY A MACLEAN’S READER AND THE BLOOD WILL RUN ROYAL BLUE. TRUE, WE RECEIVED numerous letters in support of Peter Donolo's essay endorsing the abolition of the monarchy. But for passion, they don’t compare with readers who saw Donolo's argument as an attack on the very fabric of Canada. “It must have taken Mr. Donolo considerable courage and fortitude to write such drivel," according to Edwin R. Wood of Brighton, Ont.

“He obviously represents certain subversive elements.” Thomas Baxter of Thunder Bay, Ont., was equally direct: “Your little ‘essay’ exemplifies all that is wrong with our politicians and their mandarins in Ottawa, and with a large portion of the media, like yourselves for daring to publish such nonsense.”

I wholeheartedly agree with Peter Donolo’s view that the monarchy has outlived its usefulness in Canada. With the Statute of Westminster (1931) giving our country an independent foreign policy, the adoption of the Canadian flag (1965) and the patriation of our Constitution (1982), Donolo is correct in asserting that there is one more act needed to completely sever all ties to our colonial past. We must always remember that the monarchy is an inherently undemocratic institution and we would all be richer without its presence.

Khalid A. Jasanl, Thornhill, Ont.

The Queen as head of state is a cosmetic anachronism compared with what truly marks us as a colonial outpost: our slavish retention of the British political system. From our appointed senators to our unelected Supreme Court judges and our overpowerful Prime Minister’s Office, Canadians have held on to the elitist British political model. Canadians should get over their concern with unsubstantial change such as getting rid of the Queen and focus on developing a truly Canadian political system. Robert Stewart, Toronto

It’s apparently too much to ask that Canadians simply be allowed to enjoy the Queen’s visits. For those who object to the role of the monarchy in Canada, it should be easy enough to ignore them.

Hugh J. Church, Nlagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.

Of course the Crown is symbolic. To Peter Donolo it would appear to be symbolic of mundane things like the misdeeds of princes or of bored, spoiled royals. To more serious thinkers it speaks of Magna Carta, Parliament, habeas corpus, English common law, Trafalgar, Milton, Shakespeare and the terrible wars of the 19th and 20th centuries in which we determined how we would be governed. And now, a symbol of this experience is foreign to us?

J. M. Jordan, Stouffville, Ont.

It is difficult for me to understand how some Canadians could want to do away with an institution that has served the nation so well. Why do Canadians have to be incessantly tortured with constitutional problems? Why can’t you just, on occasion, leave well enough alone?

John ROSS, San Diego, Calif.


Shackled POWs

According to stories I heard from Dieppe survivors, the order to shackle the hands of German prisoners of war was in retaliation for the shackling of Canadian POWs captured at Dieppe by the Germans (“The Bowmanville riot,” History, Oct. 7). That, in turn, was prompted by a copy of the Canadian operation order, seized by German soldiers, which advised the invaders to “tie the hands” of all German prisoners. Brig.-Gen. Potts, commander of Central Command, was visiting the Kingston, Ont., POW cage in Fort Henry when the order to shackle German prisoners was sent by army headquarters in Ottawa directly to all prison camps. When he saw the bound prisoners, he ordered the shackles removed, despite staff objections that it was an order from Ottawa. He then sent a nasty message to his army headquarters superiors. Gen. Potts, an amazing Canadian who began his army career as a private in the First World War, would not tolerate stupidity.

Charles Hooker, Orangeville, Ont.

Honourable mention

It’s amazing how many run-of-the-mill politicians have received the Order of Canada, yet someone like Paul Anka (“‘Longevity is what I’m about,’ ” Q&A, Oct. 14), who has always credited Canada with giving him a good grounding, has not yet been a recipient.

Douglas Cornish, Ottawa

Toronto bashing

I was sorry to read about the expatriate Newfoundlander’s unfortunate experiences in Toronto after being stranded there during the unprecedented events of Sept. 11, 2001 (“Inhospitable,” The Mail, Oct. 7). By contrast, the hospitality shown those stranded in Gander, Nfld., deserves her pride. However, she does not appear to understand how the circumstances and dynamics of a large metropolitan centre would affect the logistics of matching willing hosts with stranded passengers. The difference is not, as she interprets it, due to the so-called heartlessness of the vast and varied population of the Greater Toronto Area-we reflect just about every culture in the world, including smalltown Newfoundland.

Sabrina Dennis, Mississauga, Ont.


In case of divorce

With all the comments and criticism of parents who want the lifestyle that can only be afforded by a two-income family, the real reason for this situation has been obfuscated (“Lap of luxury,” The Mail, Oct. 28). How many of these young parents have become aware of the loss of income related to divorce? Married to a lawyer, I stayed home with my four children. Divorced after 18 years of marriage, it took me three years to earn enough for us to escape living below the poverty level. I had been a teacher but there were few jobs, so I had to find a new career path. I taught my children that mothers should not give up their careers. I advised my daughters to somehow maintain a presence so that if they needed to go back to work, it would be possible to resume their careers. Jan Labrick, Toronto

Living with the sniper

As a longtime resident of Virginia, next door to Maryland, I found your article on “what it’s like living in a climate of terror” perhaps a bit overdramatic (“In fear of a serial sniper,” Letter from Maryland, Oct. 21). True enough, the sniper’s actions have made us all act with a little more caution than usual. But I think many of us are developing a fatalistic determination not to let this person or these persons take over our lives. As bad as all this has been, most of us will survive it. The British learned this during the Blitz. The Israelis have demonstrated it for over 50 years. Now it is our turn to learn, and learn we will.

Jack Brannelly, Ashburn, Va.

Sick of pollution

No wonder people’s health problems are worsening, when our environment is deteriorating on a worrisome scale (“Trouble spots,” The Maclean’s Health Report, Oct. 21). Not only should Canada and other nations sign on to the Kyoto agreement, but we/they should also begin fully exploiting such clean sources of energy as wind, sunlight and tidal/river flows. For many years, California has exploited the winds; that state seems to be a good starting point for cleanenergy ideas. And, really, what good is creating millions of jobs—the rallying cry of politicians—when people are sick, dying or already dead because of environmental degradation? It’s quite depressing.

Frank G. Sterle Jr., White Rock, B.C.

Realistic master

Though Robert Bateman’s voice in the wilderness is as strong as ever, it’s long bugged me that his realist depictions of wildlife have been largely ignored by the fine-art establishment, especially the major publicly funded galleries (“Robert Bateman soars with the birds,” Art, Oct. 21). For my eyes, Bateman’s really a vanguard master painter. Mendelson Joe, Emsdale, Ont.

Wisdom at the wheel

Kwesi Yeboah speaks the truth about many cab drivers (“Cabbies and culture,” Over to You, Oct. 21). I have struck up many a conversation with them and have come out with a greater knowledge of the world. Recently, I had a long and interesting conversation with a driver from Nigeria. Such optimism and a general positive oudook I have never come across. Let it be known that to judge on first impressions is to deny oneself much knowledge.

Andreas Stavropoulous, Toronto

The cost of spending

“Illness in the system” (Health Care, Oct. 14) states that B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell is committed to deficit reduction and “to pursuing an ideological quest for smaller government.” How many times during the 25 or so years that governments in Canada ran massive deficits and mortgaged the country’s future did the media accuse Pierre Trudeau, Bob Rae and their ilk of “pursuing an ideological quest for bigger government”? My bet is not once. In 2001-2002, the interest charges on the federal debt could have paid


for a lot of hospitals. So who has done more harm to the welfare state: those who advocate balanced budgets or those responsible for such massive overspending that the country can no longer service the needs of its citizens?

Ken Davidson, Minneapolis, Minn.

During the past few months, due to the illness and subsequent passing of my elderly father in the West Kootenays, I witnessed the results of the initial stages of the cutbacks by this uncaring Liberal government (“Horror stories from the Kootenays,” Health Care, Oct. 14). I have many friends in the area and I am deeply distressed with the travelling distances necessary to receive any kind of specialized medical care or even hospitalization. Cutbacks in the amount and the quality of home care for the elderly and infirm have caused great hardships for many people. It seems that the people of rural B.C. have been labelled second class, not important enough for the Liberals to care about.

Janice Backlund, Brandon, Man.

Since the Vietnam War, Nelson, B.C., has been known as a hotbed of NDP radicals and activists. I lived here in those days, when U.S. draft dodgers arrived in droves. They and their offspring are well-organized socialists and are expert at protesting anything the government doesn’t give them, or takes away. The fact is, after 10 years of horrific mismanagement of taxpayers’ money by the NDP government in British Columbia, the health-care system has to be reorganized and repaired. No one can say that health care in Nelson is poor. Those trips to Trail are not traumatic and they’ve been routine for years.

Harvey Wenschlag, Nelson, B.C.

A shot in the dark

Thank you so much for having the courage to feature the article “To vaccinate or not,” (Health, Oct. 7). I wish the U.S. press would take your lead. My son has autism and I firmly believe childhood vaccines played a role in his disorder. He is currently undergoing chelation to remove the metals in his body and we are hopeful his condition will improve. Maybe vaccines containing thimerosal are perfectly safe. But if that’s the case, why won’t the medical community and drug companies prove it to worried

parents by conducting meaningful, independent studies?

Mindy Poist, Dayton, Ohio

The statement by Dr. Joanne Embree, chairwoman of the Canadian Paediatric Society’s infectious diseases and immunization committee, that the risk potential posed by thimerosal in vaccines is equivalent to an Elvis sighting is rather cavalier. Dr. Paul Varughese’s choice—“Would a parent prefer a child to have a disease as opposed to a minute amount of mercury?”—is unacceptable. Both opinions, expressed by influential immunization advocates, contribute to the continuing erosion of public confidence. William Benoit, Kitchener, Ont.

Interfaith feast

While I was for the most part delighted by Irshad Manji’s commentary “Thanks to my country” (The BackPage, Oct. 21), her first statement has left me puzzled: why has she suggested that Thanksgiving is a Christian holiday? Last time I checked, Thanksgiving has been a North American celebration of nature’s bounty since long before this land

was trod upon by Christian feet. Many foods traditionally served on this holiday—turkey, squash, wild rice, cranberries—are native to this continent. The themes of Thanksgiving, while having originated in First Nations culture, are compatible with most religions of the earth, which explains why they were so readily adopted by early Christian settlers. We are all thankful to the Great Spirit for providing us with life and sustenance. Perhaps if we looked closely, we would find that many religious rites and traditions follow motives that are universal in nature, and not specific to one cultural group.

Monika Becker, Cobourg, Ont.

Irshad Manji’s admiration for an immigrant mother who considered it a privilege to serve on a trial jury is to be admired. They are absolutely right. I have served on three juries, twice in Canada and once in Singapore. Jury service is a way to pay in some small way for the legal privileges and protection we enjoy in this country. I have nothing but contempt for those who try to avoid this commitment.

Terry Simms, Halifax