August 12 2002


August 12 2002

‘Ultimately, zero and even negative growth of the population and the economy will have to be part of our solution to our pollution woes.' -Jaroslav Zenchuk,Ottawa

Urban plight

“Fouling our cities” (Cover July 29) sounds a call that can be ignored only at our peril. Water, air, congestion, garbage pollution—what are we doing to Mother Earth? There is a Haida teaching that says, “We do not inherit this land from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.” Too bad we cannot learn from the elders of our First Nations people.

Lee Claus, Six Nations Reserve, Ohsweken, Ont.

The article on Toronto’s garbage problems (“When there’s nowhere left to dump it”) reports that discussions are underway to reach a dreamy goal of no landfill shipments by 2010. Of course, this is the typical solution: penalize the citizens, in this case by limiting the number of bags of garbage they can put out and charging by the bag. In this age of goods coming in bulletproof overpackaging, don’t you think that’s where the government should put the heavy restrictions?

Marc Paulin, Mississauga, Ont.

One possibility your articles did not consider is that of slowing down the growth of cities until better solutions can be found to their problems. The government justifies the high level of immigration by claiming that the country benefits economically and that Canada needs immigrants to mitigate the problems caused by an aging population. The government’s own research, however, makes it clear neither of these assertions is based on facts. The real reasons are much more closely linked to perceived political gains from large scale immigration. Until our immigration policies are based on our economic needs and our capacity to absorb newcomers, the plight of our cities is only likely to get worse.

Martin Collacott, Senior Fellow, Fraser Institute, Vancouver

In 1992, the federal government made a commitment at the United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development in Rio to develop safe and environmentally sound renewable energy —then defined as solar, wind, etc., not nuclear—and environmentally sound public transportation. In 1996, at the Human Settlements conference (Habitat II) in Istanbul, the federal government made a commitment to move away from car dependency and reduce the ecological footprint. These commitments can only be acted upon if the federal government transfers funds to the urban centres. The federal government instead has decided that the cult of war and “military security” is more important that ensuring the health and safety of citizens living in urban communities.

Joan Russow, Victoria

Alive and kicking field goals

As a proud Canadian, a devout Canadian Football League fan and the wife of Soupy Campbell, three-time Grey Cup winner for Ottawa and an honoured member of the CFL Hall of Fame, I chuckled over Bob McKeown’s article “Ode to Ottawa (Football)” (The Back Page, July 22). Just goes to show you that you can’t keep a good thing down—football is once again alive and well in our nation’s capital.

Kim Kneeshaw, Toronto

Watching EnCana

The indigenous people of Ecuador aren’t the only ones opposing the new pipeline being built by Canada’s largest independent oil company (“Outrage in the rain forest,” Photo Essay July 29). The Toronto Environmental Alliance (TEA), Greenpeace Canada, the Sierra Club of Canada and the David Suzuki Foundation called on Alberta Energy (now called EnCana) to pull out of this disastrous scheme to expand oil production in ecological reserves and indigenous lands in the Amazon rain forest, and then pipe the oil out over the earthquake-prone Andes mountains. As the largest foreign investor in the Ecuadorean oil fields and the lead investor in the $ 1.7-billion pipeline, EnCana bears a special responsibility for events in Ecuador.

Keith Stewart, Toronto Environmental Alliance

Conflicting versions

So Judy Rebick has become increasingly disturbed by the “Israeli occupation of the territories, and the uncritical support for Israel by Canada’s organized Jewish community” (“Ramallah revelations,” Middle East, July 29). Strange then that she made no mention of Yasser Arafat rejecting the Clinton bridging proposal in December, 2000. This would have given the Palestinians a state in Gaza, in 97 per cent of the West Bank (according to no less than prominent Palestinian Authority minister and negotiator Nabil Shaath) and with a capital in the Arab sections of East Jerusalem. As for suicide bombings, Rebick dismisses Israel’s right to defend itself from terror as nothing but a disguised attempt to “protect ever-expanding Israeli settlements.” Rebick, it would seem, sees nothing else but “occupation” and is so blinded that she even ignores Arafat’s own failure to agree to peace initiatives that would have provided his people with independence in a viable Palestinian state.

Simon Rosenblum, Director of Public Policy and Israel Affairs, Canadian Jewish Congress, Ontario Region, Toronto

I am a Jew. I am an appalled Jew—appalled that a magazine of the stature of Maclean’s would publish Judy Rebick’s article. I travel to Israel frequently. I am accustomed to watching kindergarten classes going along the streets on outings just like little kids anywhere, except in front and behind there are guards carrying submachine guns. You do not see such sights in the Palestinian areas, because there the little Palestinian children are not the targets for slaughter by politically motivated assassins.

Walter Seaton, Toronto

Rebick writes that “The state of Israel is not in danger.” Yes, it is, the worst danger it has faced since 1948. Arafat’s war is not about the West Bank or Gaza. It is about Israel’s annihilation and that of the Jews. If it were not, then Jews who wish to do so could live as readily in the West Bank of biblical ancestry in the new Palestinian homeland as Arabs live in Israel. I have yet to see a Palestinian extend that option. Robert Krell, Vancouver

Thank you Judy Rebick for reminding us that Canada’s Jewish community is not monolithic in its view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As a political conservative who happens to be Jewish, I am instinctively suspicious of Rebick’s muddled brand of do-gooder socialism. On this issue, however, she could not be more right.

Howard Margolian, Ottawa

Thanks to Judy Rebick for her courageous objectivity. Having lived in Gaza during the summers of 1991 and 1992, I too saw the desperate plight of the Palestinians living under Israeli occupation. It appears to me that powerful lobbyists in cahoots with the Western media fail to provide balanced, objective reporting on the Middle East crisis.

Judy Johnson, Calgary

Among the many inaccuracies and biased views offered in Rebick’s article is her acceptance without challenge of a statement by Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, president of the Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees, that “What we are witnessing... is an annexation of the West Bank—the same process as in 1948 when the state of Israel was founded on previously Palestinian land.” Each time this lie is repeated it gains momentum. In fact, the state of Israel was founded on British Mandate land (1917-1948). The UN offered the Palestinians a state of their own when it partitioned the mandated land into Israel and a Palestinian state. The surrounding Arab countries and the Palestinians chose instead to attack the new state of Israel. They lost. One also has to wonder, if terrorist attacks by Palestinians are the result of the “occupation” as Rebick asserts, why they predate the 1967 “occupation”?

Miriam Sweet Goldstein, Toronto

Judy leaves the impression that aside from the peace movement in Israel, the only people who have love in their hearts and are seeking a peaceful resolution to the conflict are the Palestinian people she met with. I invite her to log onto any mainstream Arab/Palestinian Web site to understand that the 55-year campaign to eliminate the state of Israel not only continues but has become more intense and sophisticated.

Bob Freedman, Winnipeg

It is important that people recognize the sad irony of the Israeli-Palestinian situation: the Zionists established the Jewish state in Palestine in 1948 to liberate themselves from persecution, yet in doing so created 800,000 Arab refugees. As Rebick wisely establishes, “where there is no justice, there will be no peace.”

Katy Peplinskie, Sudbury, Ont.

AS WITH MUCH REPORTING FROM THE MIDDLE EAST, JUDY REBICK’S “RAMALLAH REVELATIONS” ( JULY 29) elicited strong—and contradictory responses from readers. Many wrote to express appreciation for Rebick’s attention to what Elen Ghulam of Vancouver referred to as “the daily suffering of the Palestinian people.” Most others, however, saw naïveté, bias and misrepresentation in her report. “Maclean’s," wrote Barbara Freedman of Montreal, “should not be a venue for propaganda."

The business of philanthropy

Like most young Canadians, Allan R. Gregg has grown up in a welfare state where cradle-to-grave social benefits are provided by government and paid for by taxes, and he mistakenly assumes that things have always been this way and should properly continue unchanged (“Capitalists to the rescue,” Essay, July 29). The truth is, the importance of voluntarism in community affairs, both individual and corporate, is just now beginning to come back into its own, to where it was 50, 75 and 100 years ago, before J. S. Woodsworth, M. J. Coldwell, David Lewis, Tommy Douglas and the rest of the “social architects” of the 20th century (including Mackenzie King and Pierre Trudeau) went to work metamorphosing Canada from a self-reliant frontier nation into the welfare state it has become. At long last the government is trying to get the private sector reinvolved. It’s going to be hard, though. We’ve been brainwashed now for half a century, and a lot of erstwhile philanthropists (both individual and corporate) have become disenchanted.

John T. Sangster, Burnaby, B.C.

The reason for business being in business in the first place is the maximization of profits, and if dabbling into a few traditional “non-business” ventures will only add to the corporate coffers, then that is the motive. Business has neither the stamina nor the bucks to sustain the infrastructure of society, and no matter how poorly governments perform their tasks at times, business will never be a viable option.

Douglas Cornish, Ottawa

It might cost a little more for corporations or their subcontractors to employ grownups instead of children in the developing world, and a little more again to give money to an experienced non-governmental organization to run a school for the children in that community, though that is astonishingly inexpensive. But this is also an investment in the corporation’s future labour force and market and ultimately in a safer, smarter world in which to operate. It may mean a little less profit in the short term, but then, it all depends how you define profit.

Sparkle Hayter, Paris