The Mail

The Mail

May 20 2002
The Mail

The Mail

May 20 2002

The Mail

Identity in crisis

I don’t understand why we as

Canadians are so concerned about what Americans think of us or know about us (“‘We're almost the same country,’"

Canada and the World, May 6).

Who cares? Everyone knows the relationship between Canada and the United States is symbiotic, with trade being the common ground. Furthermore, I wish we would stop offering coverage of the United States’ embarrassingly narrow knowledge of Canada. I admit it’s humorous, but we seem to devalue our own sense of selfworth by continuing to seek justification of our identity from the United States. Chris Imrie, Guelph, Ont.

Sure, many Americans know very little about their neighbours to the north, but I have a question to ask the people of Alberta: do you know who the premier of Nova Scotia is? Or how about the people in Quebec: do you know the population of Saskatoon? Let’s not kid ourselves and think that the Americans are the only ones who don’t know about us. We’re just as guilty.

Andie Maranda, St. Catharines, Ont.

If most Americans don’t think we deserve an acknowledgement of our nation’s sacrifice for assisting them in their war

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on terror, not to forget the “friendly-fire” incident, why are we there? Why do we I bother to support them? ReI gardless of whether or not the ignorant fans in Detroit and S New York are aware of our role I in Afghanistan, they are aware that booing a national anthem is a sign of utmost disrespect. Over-sensitive? If anything, Canadians are overindulgent.

Genevieve Harrison, Ottawa

Whoever invented the idea of singing the national anthem at sporting events, anyway? I never have been able to figure out what it has to do with the opening of a privately sponsored event. If you leave patriotism out of sports, it will rightly leave the booing where it belongs—at lousy players. Stephen Shanfield, Windsor, Ont.

I just got back from Australia, and if Canadians are hypersensitive to American ignorance, they should meet a few more Australians. They seem to possess a profound naïveté about Canada. I had encounters with several Aussies who sincerely believed their nation to be the nearest thing to the largest country on the planet (“besides Russia”) and that, at any rate, it certainly was much bigger than Canada. “Well Canada’s big, too,” they’d say, “but not nearly as big as Oz.”

Nathan Braun, Vancouver

This “over-sensitive” and “unglamorous” Canadian can’t take it anymore. I am so tired of being lumped into the great American melting pot. We are not just like our neighbours to the south and are not and will never be “almost the same country.” The fact that the U.S. government’s commander-in-chief essentially ignored our loss of four brave Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan is a true indication as to where we are placed on the list of priorities in their country. However, Canadians do have to take some of the blame for how we are treated by the U.S. We need to be a little louder and a little prouder of this won-

i am ...not American

I perceive the issue about the nonrecognition of Canadians by Americans as being part of the Canadian search for an identity separate from that of the United States (“ ‘We’re almost the same country,’ ” Canada and the World, May 6). Many of us define ourselves as “not American”: we believe we are nicer, even though this is not something that can be measured, and we feel we rule at hockey, yet have lost much of this identity to the powerful franchises in the United States. Canadian oversensitivity, however, is not the issue. The primary issue we need to confront is the fear that Americans are right: that we are no different from them.

Shawnah Tkachyk, Edmonton

derful country we live in. Let’s not wait for the next world tragedy or Canadian hockey win to show our patriotism. Elizabeth Prosser, Gravenhurst, Ont.

Laurie Osborne was bang on with her comment in your story that “Americans know their history, Canadians don’t.” That’s why Canadian schools must get back to teaching history basics instead of the revisionist history that has permeated our education system. Our country has a lot to be proud of and it is the responsibility of the schools to teach it. Who knows, we may even get rid of our inferiority complex.

Betty MacDonald, Kanata, Ont.

Congratulations on being the latest to print an article about how few Americans recognize our Prime Minister. The question is, who can blame them? The average American has a sporting chance at recognizing British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who seized the spotlight last September with quick and forceful rhetoric. In contrast, Jean Chrétien is all but ignored by both the American and world news media. (This is largely a blessing considering his limp foreign policy, bland rhetoric and numerous gaffes in the Middle East and elsewhere.) Neil Peden, Montreal

Mixed feelings

While I acknowledge the tragedy of the death in Afghanistan of four of our soldiers

and I sympathize with their bereaved families, I can only wonder at the unprecedented level of public attention being given to this sorry episode in the “war on terrorism” (“A nation grieves,” Canada and the World, May 6). Just what is going on? Is it possible that these brave young men, even in death, are being exploited in a massive public relations exercise? And are the rest of us being manipulated?

Conrad Romuld, Saskatoon

The grief of Canadians over the senseless death of four of our young soldiers has to make us wonder how we feel about being involved in war. We have been very proud of our role in peacekeeping in many of the trouble spots of the world. How can we suddenly accept the reality of war and the cost of life that goes with it? In the past 50 years, we have been brought up on heroes like Superman and James Bond who emerge from amazing violence unscathed. Death and destruction are not something we want to face as reality. The events of Sept. 11 dragged us into combat alongside our “neighbours” who have now shot down our men in “friendly fire.” We are now expected to accept them as dead heroes. It does not make sense. Something feels very wrong. Could it be that Canadians do not really want to be at war?

Elsie Millerd, Kitchener, Ont.

(See Over to You, page 12)

B.C. aboriginals

Craig Hooper’s column “A return to darkness” (Over to You, April 29) on British Columbia’s referendum paints a damning picture of Canada’s discriminatory, if not racist, policy towards aboriginals. However, the current policy of our governments, apparently believing that two wrongs do make a right, is to grant aboriginals special status and special rights over and above those held by non-aboriginals. That case should be considered just as racist—though with the shoe on the other foot. Aboriginal self-government— in the vision of Indian Affairs and the Assembly of First Nations—has now grown to encompass the right to tax, and thereby govern, non-aboriginals. Given that the Supreme Court has affirmed “aboriginal rights are not absolute and may be infringed,” the issue is whether aboriginal rights can override the rights of aboriginal

and non-aboriginal alike to equality and freedom from discrimination.

Jim Wiggins, Surrey, B.C.

I’m a Canadian in self-imposed exile, but I return to B.C. as often as I can. The essence of aboriginal culture still lingers there, even in Vancouver. I find it exceedingly revitalizing, even though I cannot claim aboriginal heritage myself. The Aga Khan, who recendy praised Canada as a model of modern pluralistic society, would be appalled to hear that B.C. is even questioning the necessity of coming to a fair arrangement with the First Nations.

Diane Dugré, Washington, D.C.

Undisclosed alliance

Peter Kent was meticulous in his accounts of his illustrious career at CBC and how that relationship has soured (“How I unplugged the CBC,” The Back Page, May 13). Macleans however, was not quite so meticulous in informing its readers that Peter Kent is currently an employee of Can West Global, an organization who has been strenuously calling for CBC to be “unplugged” in all of its converged platforms. A little disingenuous? I think so.

Ruth-Ellen Soles, Head of Media Relations,

CBC, Toronto

Price of higher learning

I couldn’t agree more with Ann Dowsett Johnston (“A lament for quality,” The Back Page, May 6), and yet, I couldn’t agree less. Absolutely, it is time for Canadians to place education among the top priorities of the country, but it is not time

to place that burden on the backs of individual students. While Johnston listed countries that have re-invested in the success of education, she did not identify those that have eliminated tuition fees (including some of those same countries). We should not place all the onus and expense on our students. We are not asking pa! tients to front a similar portion of the costs I of health care. Not yet, at any rate. s Adam Green, Ottawa 1

I Faculty alone cannot create quality in I universities any more than mere calories f build vigour. What is needed is a compresí hensive plan in which focused courses structured to suit various kinds of learners are delivered by competent teachers who provide adequate and timely feedback. That means courses that develop relevant skills and knowledge and a reasonable assurance that the program leads to employment.

Saxon Harding, Ottawa

For the record

I am disappointed in the way my opinion was represented in your article tided “Sick and so very tired” (Health, April 15).

I merely used the “bellyache” example to explain how psychology might influence symptom perception in non-medical circumstances. As reported it could leave the impression that I liken the debilitating symptoms of chronic fatigue (CFS) to those of a nervous bellyache. In my interview, I explained that CFS is best treated by a global conceptualization that encompasses both medical and psychological tenets. Macleans opted for the simplistic and sensationalist dichotomy that attempts to explain somatic symptoms by invoking either a purely organic or a purely psychological origin.

Manon Houle, Montreal

A matter for the law

I was sickened by the outcome of the meeting of U.S. Roman Catholic cardinals with the Pope (The Week That Was, May 6). If such wide-spread sexual abuse of children was happening in our schools, in a sports organization, in a youth club or in a smaller cult, would we be allowing them to tell us how they are going to handle the problem? The law should be telling the Church what it must do.

Lisa Gallant, Charlottetown