The Mail

The Mail

Remembering Gzowski

February 18 2002
The Mail

The Mail

Remembering Gzowski

February 18 2002

The Mail

Remembering Gzowski

When I was a stay-at-home mom in the ’60s and ’70s, Peter Gzowski kept me connected to the outside world (“Peter Gzowski,” Cover/Tribute, Feb. 4). First with This Country in the Morning and then Momingside, as I changed diapers, fed small ones mushed-up food, did laundry and vacuumed, he kept me in touch with literature, music, art, sports, politics and, most of all, with all things Canadian.

And when we actually talked, once, about my cucumber pickle recipe, I felt I was the most important “pickier” in the world.

Maymar Gemmell, Algoma Mills, Ont.

I got to ask the question at the end of the Eveningside show at the Peacock Auditorium the night before Gzowski’s final Momingside broadcast in Moose Jaw, Sask., on May 30, 1997.1 asked: “For 13 years, you and Momingside have held us together, set the example, given us a place to connect with one another. Now, what would you suggest that each of us do to make a difference?” Gzowski’s response still holds up. “I would turn off the TV, cancel the newspapers and magazines, turn off the radio and open the window. I would look out the window, and I would say, ‘Do you realize what an incredible

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country this is?’ If you looked out the window in Montreal or Sherbrooke or Chicoutimi or Quebec City or Rimouski, you wouldn’t see Englishor Frenchspeaking Canadians arguing with each other. You’d see them getting along. You wouldn’t see them talking about stupid language laws. You’d see them getting along and watching their kids playing hockey and trying to get the best price for cheese. If you opened the window in Kamloops or Cochrane or Canmore or Cambridge, you wouldn’t see people arguing about gun laws or distinct society or who’s got this right or who’s got this privilege that I haven’t got. You’d see people getting along with each other, youd see people phoning the Red River Rally, you’d see people going on canoe trips and raising their kids and trying to pay their mortgage and singing their songs and laughing at their jokes and having their memories. You wouldn’t hear them interrupting each other in squabbling, useless, nonsensical two-hour television debates. If we just woke up to the beauty of this country, the dignity and gentility and civility of its traditions and its people, by and large, if we just woke up to it and said, ‘What the hell are we whining about?’ then I think we’d move a long way forward.” So, let’s do it.

Joan Eyolfson Cadham, Foam Lake, Sask.

I never met Peter Gzowski, never talked to him, though through listening to him I felt I knew him. He reminded me of my Dad. What they had in common was a thirst for knowledge and the ability to bend your ear. You wanted to listen to them—you had no choice. They both had the gift of charming a cat out of a tree just by the assuring, caressing strength realized by their voices.

Sheila Robertson, Thunder Bay, Ont.

It has been said that Peter Gzowski connected Canadians from sea to sea to sea. Well, for hundreds of Canadians living on military bases in Germany in the ’80s and

Cross purposes

What an interesting juxtaposition. First, the column of Barbara Amiel (“The low dollar is our fault,” Feb. 4), for whom Canada will never be good enough, then the tribute to Peter Gzowski (Cover) who taught us that Canada is a place to be loved for all its strengths and faults and foibles.

Keith Roulston, Blyth, Ont.

’90s, he also connected those of us across the sea. He kept us informed. He transported us home to our beloved Canada. For that I am eternally grateful.

Mary McGuigan Baglole, Hubbards, N.S.

Being more like them

In her piece on the low value of the Canadian dollar, expatriate Barbara Amiel spouts tired, 20-year-old myths, such as our “uncompetetiveness” vis-à-vis the Americans (“The low dollar is our fault,” Feb. 4). How to explain, then, a 1999 KPMG study that ranked Canada as having the lowest annual business costs of any G7 country? Or a 1999 global competetiveness report that ranked Canada first in terms of developing knowledge workers? Or that our national health-care system helps to provide lower costs to Canadian employers? Or that our workers tend to be more loyal than American ones, resulting in lower turnover rates? Amiel should remove her ideological blinders and start looking at the facts.

Greg Rohovie, Lethbridge, Alta.

“The low dollar is our fault” was like a bracing, fresh breeze in the stale climate of Canadian pontificating. I wonder if Canadians realize how lucky they are— able to enjoy hating and knocking the U.S. while profiting from it in so many ways, including ducking the bill for military defence.

Marnie Pomeroy, Ottawa

Once upon a time there was a Macleans columnist named Barbara whose columns expressed a love for this country. They were sometimes controversial, but always intelligent and well thought out. Then she married a very rich and powerful financier and newspaper magnate, and her columns began to reek of his influence. No longer

The Mail

did she profess a love of Canada, preferring to laud the United States where, she claimed, hard work—and good money— were well rewarded. Readers began to lament that she may decide to move to the U.S., buy shares in Enron and abandon this country. Alas, Barbara was unable to put her money where her mouth was (probably because it was not really her money) and was forced to follow her Prince/Lord Charming off to England. The moral of this story? Who needs morals when you are rich?

Bill MacLean, Toronto

Stick to UN peacekeeping

As Michael Ignatieff is unsure of Canadas role in Afghanistan, hinting we might be seen as part of an imperial legion, I suggest that Canada only accept future peacekeeping missions under the United Nations (‘“We must wake up,’” Q&A, Feb. 4). Its charter remains the highest form of international law, often ignored by the U.S. We owe it to our dead veterans of the Second World War to make the UN work more effectively and to decrease world domination by any single military power. Peace and justice under law is the ultimate goal.

Ross Smyth, Montreal

Minding manners

Elitist John Ralston Saul has his cake and now wants to eat it, too (“Philosopher king,” Books, Feb. 4). Only in Canada. He keeps all his options open and only tweaks the nose of the U.S., the educated and the creators of wealth who buy his books.

Sylvia Makk, Richmond Hill, Ont.

You write that the controversy over John Ralston Saul’s new book On Equilibrium was fired up because Saul refers to President George W. Bush as a “rather frail, awkward man on television”. That is not the nub of the controversy. He showed a distinct lack of “equilibrium” when he suggested Christianity was responsible for the Holocaust (the Nazis were hardly Christian) without any reference to the religion of the troops that liberated the concentration camps. That he should do this, as well as slight our best friends, the Americans, while living in our house, eating our food, travelling on our account

and using his vice-regal status as a megaphone displays, if nothing else, very bad manners.

Vic Stecyk, Richmond Hill, Ont.

Canada is hockey

With regard to Andy Nulman’s blasphemous article titled “A hip check on hockey” (The Back Page, Feb. 4), I feel the need to make a few comments. I think his ideas for changing the game that defines our country could almost be considered treason. The other week in an anthropology class we were trying to define what it means to be Canadian. The answer was hockey. For as long as I can remember I have been passionate about the history and the rich cultural context the game holds for our country. My first clear memory of hockey is of the 1987 Canada Cup when Gretzky fed a pass to Lemieux, and of Mario roofed it where grandma keeps the shortbread. My parents tell me it was all I talked about for a week. Hockey and its history mean so much to so many Canadians. Ask people on the street the following questions: 1) Who was Canada’s first prime minister? and 2) Can you hum the tune for Hockey Night in Canada? I think we know which will be answered with more accuracy.

Steve Stevenson, Victoria

Stay-at-home tax

Hooray for the “pigheadedness” of Beverley Smith (“Smith stokes the home fires,” Overture, Feb. 4). I have long been insulted that our federal government pays no recognition to stay-at-home parents within the federal income tax system. I get steamed reading about how everything

from summer day-camps to after-school programs are tax deductible for twoincome families, whereas for us it is an outof-pocket expense. It feels rotten to think that our society does not value the work that we do as unpaid caregivers in the home. Kudos to Smith for fighting for us. Dianne Morris, Halifax, N.S.

I am a divorced mother of two, now grown.

I totally disagree with Smith on this issue. I raised my children by myself while working full-time. Working parents contribute to our taxes, therefore they should be entitled to a tax credit. Being a stay-at-home mother is a personal choice. Taxpayers should not be on the hook for this decision. Tina Marie Mason, Ajax, Ont.

Musical chairs

Why would the CBC be thinking of changing This Morning when they finally have Shelagh Rogers in the chair (“What will This Momingbñngi” Overture, Feb. 4)? If we can’t have Peter Gzowski, Shelagh is the best.

Mary Mae and Jim Popiel, Elmvale, Ont.

Prosecuting Milosevic

I couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of pride for a very special Canadian when I read about war crimes prosecutor Dirk Ryneveld in your article “Taking on Milosevic” (Justice, Feb. 4). Who would have thought that a young man living up the hill from us in Kimberley would someday be responsible for unravelling such a dark chapter in human history?

Lorraine Vickerman, Richmond, B.C.

Foreign ministers

You state that our new foreign minister, Bill Graham, vaulted to “an unheard-of promotion” (“Power games,” Canada, Jan. 28). Further, former prime minister Joe Clark had nothing but criticism for the new member of cabinet. What a short memory Clark has. In 1979, he appointed Kingston MP Flora MacDonald to the same portfolio. MacDonald had not only never been in cabinet, she had spent less time in the Commons as well. Graham is a three-time elected MP and has been chair of the foreign affairs committee for six years.

John E. Haynes, Winnipeg