The Mail

The Mail

April 22 2002
The Mail

The Mail

April 22 2002

The Mail

The right stuff

History will show that, throughout Britain’s triumphant and turbulent 20th century, the one constant that allowed the country to remain proud of its monarchical heritage was the Queen Mother (“Queen of hearts,”

Cover, April 8). At crucial times in the survival of both monarchy and country, the Queen Mother was able to hold together the moral and spiritual fibre of England as it dealt with the abdication of Edward VIII and then stood against the Nazi blitz of London.

Dan Kowbell, Toronto

As Rudyard Kipling so apdy put it: “If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, / Or walk with kings—nor lose the common touch.” It was because of this so-called common touch that the Queen Mother could relate to the common person, and in many ways she saved the Royals from extinction and from themselves. Douglas Cornish, Ottawa

I, like millions, felt an affinity to this woman, who was always exquisitely dressed, happily waving at her beloved fans. Fortunately, Prince Harry has inherited her affable smile and she will live on in our hearts and souls. She represented

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strength, an absolute joy of life and living, and was the last bastion of the Old Guard at Buckingham Palace. My thoughts and prayers are with the Queen.

Marie Roberts, Los Angeles

How relevant is the Queen Mother for Canada in the 21st century? Yes, she lived an interesting life and was a well-loved Royal, but does this really mean anything for Canadians? Technically, the Queen is our head of state but, in reality, the Prime Minister is Canadas face to the world. Canada is a great country but we can’t be truly great until we get rid of the vestiges of an outdated system.

David Wildeboer, Fort Macleod, Alta.

In addition

That Gene Kinoshita’s fine 1984 addition to the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto should fall to the wrecking ball is a great shame (“Trading the past for flash,” Architecture, April 8). The excrescences of Daniel Libeskind’s expansion design are an affront to the values of continuity, the preservation of what is good and useful, and the understanding of our past. It is to honour these values that we have museums at all. isobel Raven, Toronto

Casting aspersions

Unless and until Izzy Asper realizes that the news isn’t about loyalty but about the truth, he’s going to continue to be regarded by journalists and the Canadian public as a tinpot dictator and a threat to Canadian media integrity (“Can the Aspers do it?” Business, April 8). I never thought I’d say it, but I long for the days of Conrad Black. R. W. Burgess, Ottawa

Drawing the line

OK, let me get this straight. It is acceptable in Canada to write about raping, beating and torturing children, if the prose itself is

Racism at large

A reader asks about signs of antiSemitism in 1940s Toronto (“Hider’s toll,” The Mail, April 8)? Etched in my mind is the sign “Gentiles only.” I was 9 then, and with my parents in their 1932 Chevy, entering Woodland Park, east of the city, when I asked my dad what the sign meant. His reply: “No Jews allowed.” I knew from Sunday School that Jews were the chosen people so I was a bit puzzled. When I asked why, I was told Jews were messy and threw their litter everywhere. It seemed to me that Jews must have been sneaky, too. There was considerable litter in the park and I assumed the Jews must have snuck in at night to spread it. Twelve years later in the southern U.S. I saw a similar sign, “Whites only—blacks enter at rear.” These signs have disappeared and are not missed.

Stewart Baker, Ottawa

judged to have artistic merit (“Can child pornography have artistic merit?” The Week That Was, April 8). It is not acceptable to write about these same subjects if the writing does not have artistic merit. So an educated and articulate person is not breaking the law when describing and advocating as entertainment horrendous violations of a child’s person, but an uneducated person, not similarly gifted, is a pornographer when expressing those same thoughts. In that case, better tell the two-tiered health system to make way for the new two-tiered legal system.

Bob Little, Dartmouth, N.S.

The question of whether child pornography can have artistic merit should concern all artists, regardless of their sexual practices, because the issue always boils down to censorship, the most dangerous of ships. Censor nastiness and so goes the death of imagination. Hieronymus Bosch, Picasso, Dali, Zappa, Crumb—these are artists who shocked and offended many but, in the end, their nasty creations helped us to understand ourselves. Art does that. Mendelson Joe, Emsdale, Ont.

Looking for daycare

Macleans should be congratulated on its well-informed article on “The daycare

dilemma” (Life, April 8). However, one small—but important—point should be corrected. The article says “children of stay-at-home moms or dads who provide safe, loving environments are free of risk. But for the growing number of families that require it, [Ontario’s “Early Years Study”] continues, good daycare can Vastly improve’ children’s health, behaviour and learning capacities in later life.” This is a somewhat skewed picture of what the research shows. Research shows that highquality early childhood education and care is valuable for all children (although this should not be interpreted to mean that children who don’t attend are, therefore, at risk). As the many stay-at-home parents who choose to send their children to nursery schools know, good early childhood programs confer social and educational benefits on all children, no matter what the parents do.

Martha Friendly, Childcare Resource and Research Unit, University ofToronto

While child-care advocates lament the lack of daycare spaces, I can only rejoice. Surely children are better cared for when they spend time with someone who loves them. A Mommy or Daddy would do just fine. I hope Canadians are intelligent enough to come up with a solution for our little ones that doesn’t involve putting them in institutions where they synchronize their bowel movements and learn that it is of utmost importance to be “one of the crowd.”

Lori Klassen, Winnipeg

A federal program of free daycare would not be of universal benefit since not everybody wants daycare for their child. Where daycare advocates and I agree is that the care of kids is vital work. They apparently feel it is vital only in daycare. I think it is vital in or outside daycare and deserves equal federal support in all places.

Beverley Smith, Calgary

As a Canadian living in Britain, with children aged 2 and 5,1 was quite amused by the suggestion that Britain was facing up to the challenge of providing workable child-care solutions for parents. The revolutionary British places you mention are provided by non-profit preschools, which can only accommodate the children for a maximum of 2.5 hours per day. Outside these hours, the parent must still arrange for piecemeal child care, quite often made

up of a patchwork of babysitters. I know of a parent whose poor kids ended up in 10 different environments every week. As for cost comparisons, it is not unusual for parents in Britain to have to pay $52 per day for untrained home-based babysitters, or $80 for professional nursery care. There is no state subsidy in either tax relief or contribution to care costs. In looking to Europe for comparisons on child-care models, Canada must be careful it does not choose to emulate an inadequate and unworkable system.

Tami Smith-Daniels, Ringwood, England

Mothers at risk

Poor hapless Afghanistan (“Afghan tragedy,” The Week That Was, April 8), the focus of the current war of revenge for Sept. 11, has had to endure 23 years of endless violence, awful drought, crushing poverty, many thousands of its people displaced in stinking overcrowded refugee camps, the atrocities of the Taliban regime, a health-care delivery system in ruins and, according to 1996 World Health Organization statistics, the appalling disclosure that 13,000 of its women die in childbirth every year. In other words, one Afghan woman in seven will die having a baby. This yawning defect in maternity care should be repaired now. Given political will, the solution can be provided by a collaboration of the interim government of Afghanistan, WHO, UNICEF and the World Bank together with the well-recognized international experience of Canadian obstetricians and neonatologists.

Dr. James Goodwin, Adjunct Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Dalhousle University, Halifax

Collective future

Allan Gregg sounded an alarm but I wonder if it will have an effect (“Wake up, Canada,” Essay, April 8). Losing “a free and democratic society” is a frightening concern, but the effort needed to turn things around is gargantuan. Even on a community level in a large urban area, political apathy among residents is evident in a lack of volunteers to support a community association; parents who cannot be bothered to chaperone community dances their own children attend; school councils that plead for help or disband through lack of support. Voter turnout at our last mayoral election was barely 30 per cent. The situation looks eerily familiar around the globe. The meaningless society Gregg speaks of is already here. There appear to be no leaders to lead us, no revolution on the horizon to awaken our sensibilities. Terrorism and random acts of violence, industrial waste and consumerism are symptoms, not causes, of that meaningless society. Either we heed Gregg’s call and look to our immediate future or we risk losing more than good government.

Angus Macdonell, Calgary

Allan Greggs essay is brilliant. I’ve been feeling for some time that the idea of a collective will has ebbed away. Gregg gives my thoughts an explanation, and I am grateful. It worries me that the ethical goal of “the largest good for the greatest number” may be lost forever. Will we once again have politicians who can lead us in those directions, instead of the directions of self-interest?

Tony Bonney, Brampton, Ont.

Wow! Someone’s said it. Clearly and in a national medium, no less. Don’t stop now, Allan, Utopia is ahead. Talk to us about the government process: democracy really does not work, does it? Giving, as it does, unlimited, uncontrolled power to individuals (and usually the absolutely wrong kind of individuals) who cannot, by themselves, possibly use it properly and effectually—but who jealously clasp it to their bosoms. The fantastic amount of intellectual power at our disposal right here in Canada needs but to be unleashed upon the problems of democracy. If we are not being led but only governed—let us lead! Let Canada be the leader.

Capt. Kenneth Stubbs, Nepean, Ont.