August 19 2002


August 19 2002


“Some of the worst nutrition offenders are on school cafeteria menus-french fries with gravy, hamburgers, pop, chips, candy bars, etc.” -joanneNEATE,oshawa,ont.

Weighty matters

The Hamilton day camp for overweight kids joins a long list of places where attempts have been made to remedy obesity in children (“Growing up large,” Cover, Aug. 5). As early as the 1960s, Felix Heald and Penelope Pekos, both international authorities on childhood and adolescent obesity, founded Camp Seascape on Cape Cod, Mass., to provide a venue to help fat kids. Although over 90 per cent of the campers lost significant weight, almost all had regained their weight by the Christmas vacation reunion. Heald and Pekos closed their camp after they realized they were fighting a losing battle. Your article correctly states that there is a genetic factor associated with obesity. The food intake in 50 per cent of these children is normal. Most overweight children, however, exhibit an “economy of motion” and expend significantly less energyin their daily activities than normal-weight children. The mainstay of help for obese children and teenagers is based on increased physical activity and reducing their body-image anxieties.

Dr. Martin G. Wolfish, Toronto

It is easy to blame the fast food industry, television ads, computer games and junk foods for our kids’ obesity. It’s more difficult to address issues of why these industries are thriving in the first place. 1 otten ponder whether parenting classes might be a more effective treatment for childhood obesity.

Lori Labrie, Ponoka, Alta.

As someone who grew up “large,” I understand what these children are going through. It seems that discrimination against the fat is still acceptable in our society. Since becoming one of the “thin people,” I have discovered what the overweight are missing in daily life, including better job opportunities, better treatment from service workers and even more friendly co-workers. It may be true that our society has produced a generation of

children facing an obesity crisis, but I hope everyone can remember that the overweight deserve to be treated with a modicum of respect.

Samantha Robichaud, Miramichi, N.B.

I watched as much TV as today’s kids and ate junk food all the time. However, I walked a good 40 minutes to school and back, every day. Kids need to develop stable, lifelong health habits, like incidental exercise from walking or cycling.

David S. Thompson, Vancouver

As a student going into Grade 10,1 know first-hand that having phys. ed. classes more often will not solve the problem. All i ever did was the same sports over and over-basketball, soccer, hockey, etc. Not all kids enjoy being pushed around, demeaned and shamed because they are not good at competitive sports, me included. Why not create alternative phys. ed. classes that offer programs such as outdoor education, hiking, bike riding and jogging?

Amy Macdonald, Edmonton

‘Canada has outgrown me’

I really enjoyed the interview with broadcaster Robert MacNeil (“You can go home

again,” Q&A, July 29). Like MacNeil, I am happy where I live. And like MacNeil, I find Canada has outgrown me, a fifthgeneration Canadian of mixed ancestry whose families have been here for more than 200 years. It saddens me a bit to see my culture disappearing, but that is the way of the world. I wonder if future generations will remember our contribution to the development of Canada.

Howard Spencer, Weyburn, Sask.

Mideast messages

I find it odd that in your July 29 issue you felt it necessary to warn readers in The Editor’s Letter (“Dissenting voices”) that there was a pro-Palestinian article inside (“Ramallah revelations,” Middle East), while the next issue carried no such caveat about a pro-Israeli article (“ ‘A world of fear and horror,’ ” Middle East, Aug. 5). I would suggest to writer Anna Porter that if anti-Semitism is on the rise, it is due in no small measure to the Israeli government. Successive governments have claimed to be representative of and act in the name of the Jewish people, and then go on to commit such atrocities as the Qana massacre and the recent bombing in Gaza City. What most of the world is opposed to is injustice. The fact that the perpetrators are Jewish matters not at all.

Patrick Page, Kingston, Ont.

Anna Porter’s story explained a great deal, but she missed one very important point. Israel and the Palestinian state, if one may call it that, are two immiscible theocracies. Jews believe in the sanctity and inviolability of their law and their Biblical claims to the land, while the Muslims believe in the solemnity and supremacy of the Koran. Each insists that their theocratic rights cannot be violated. How can the basic essentials of peace and democracy exist under these circumstances?

John M. Milne, Guelph, Ont.

Having visited Ramallah and other Palestinian cities and camps this past May, I must express my deep appreciation of Judy Rebick’s poignant and extremely accurate article, “Ramallah revelations” (Middle East, July 29). Her professionalism and integrity ensured she would share her conclusion: “Where there is no jus-

tice, there will be no peace.” She tells it like it is, and will have to endure a great deal of criticism.

Carolyn Parrish, MP, Mississauga, Ont.

The glaring omissions in Judy Rebick’s article mar what could have been a thoughtful addition to commentary on the Middle East conflict. Instead, Rebick focuses her entire attack on Israel’s “aggressions,” which she presents as the sole reason for the current crisis. Nowhere does she mention the ongoing violence and hatred against Israel that permeates every facet of Palestinian society, or cite the responsibility of the Palestinian leadership and educational system in perpetuating a culture that glorifies violence against Israelis.

Rochelle Wilner, National President, B’nai Brith Canada, Toronto

Big, fat beginning

I remember well Nia Vardalos’s tenure at the London, Ont., Second City (“Big, fat breakthrough,” Film, Aug. 5). My brother-in-law Mike was a sous-chef in the kitchen in 1989 and would score free passes to shows. The cast was very accomplished and very funny. Especially vivid is a scene where Nia interviewed Kathryn Greenwood, a regular on the TV show Whose Line Is It Anyway?, about her psychotic cats. At the end, she signed off as “Sue Vlaki,” which was even funnier when you exited the theatre and saw a “Sammy’s Souvlaki” trailer in the parking lot across the street. So, Sue Vlaki was alive and well and living in London well before her Chicago debut.

Gary W. McAllister, London, Ont.

Death and dignity

I strongly disagree with ALS sufferer Jim Romney who stated, “I don’t want to live a life without dignity.” (“Choosing suicide,” Ethics, Aug. 5). In the position he faces, all he will lose is his muscle control, not his faith, generosity, love or dignity.

Trisha Oldfield, Loretto, Ont.

As a transplanted Montrealer and a supporter of death with dignity, I was pleased with the clarity of your article about Oregon’s suicide law. I have been a registered nurse for 32 years and have seen my share of suffering, both physical and men-

tal. Thank you for pointing out the reasons cited by most of the dying for ending their lives. It is not for lack of pain control, but for lack of life control as their bodies fail them.

Susan Bexton, Portland, Ore.

This article takes sides in a grotesque fashion. U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, who favours life over death, is referred to as someone “whose own unbending religious beliefs are forged in the fiery teachings of the Assemblies of God.” Are you unaware of the thousands of people who experience God’s nearness in spite of and during their suffering? Contrast this with the quotes of an ALS-affected “right to die advocate”: “I’m going to be laughing, carrying on, having a good time, and my family will be crying. I’ll probably have a nice old touch of single-malt Scotch, and off we go.” How empty, how sad.

Hank Kuntz, Toronto

I offer this clarification on an issue raised in the excellent article “Choosing suicide.” A distinction must be made between advising a person to commit suicide (which is a criminal offence under Canadian law) and advising a competent person, who has already decided to commit suicide, on how to do it effectively so as not to cause any greater harm and distress to all the individuals involved. The Criminal Code of Canada makes no mention of the latter scenario.

Janet Snowling, Ottawa

Fishy story

In examining the East Coast aquaculture business, you have largely presented the industry’s story with fleeting references to environmental concerns (“Fish futures,” Fishery, July 29). This is a vital issue because waste from salmon farms passes directly into the ocean and impacts not only the marine environment, but other

sectors like tourism and sports, commercial and aboriginal fisheries. What other type of farming is allowed to dispose of untreated waste, which can contain antibiotic and pesticide residues, directly into public waters? Wherever salmon farming is practised, wild fish nearby have suffered serious declines and the incidence of disease has increased.

Lynn Hunter, Aquaculture Specialist, David Suzuki Foundation, Vancouver

The Senate Standing Committee on Aquaculture in B.C. and the Atlantic Region sounded an alarm in June 2001, based on experiences in B.C. and the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick where the millions of fish farmed in open-net cages are having a devastating effect on wild fish, their habitat and the seabed. The Auditor General’s Report on Fisheries and Oceans released in December 2000 contained basically the same warning. Last November, the Leggatt Inquiry into salmon fishing in British Columbia stated: “There is no question that net cages are the root cause of environmental damage, including massive escapes of Atlantic farm salmon, disease transfer and pollution of marine waters and the ocean floor.” Governments should promote land-based fish farming and stop inshore open-cage farming, particularly in traditional fishing communities. There is just too much risk.

Peter Cobbold, Northwest Cove, N.S.


The year was 1945 and the place was the old newsroom of the Times in downtown Victoria. Word had it that our war correspondent was in the building. We four teenagers, two girls, two boys, being groomed for newspaper careers, dropped our various jobs—exciting things like sorting mail and filing. We stood behind the reporters, newsdesk types and editorial staff who seemed to know this amazing person personally. He was young, dark and handsome and, if you can believe it, wore a white trench coat. He was everything we had imagined a correspondent to be. Congratulations to Peter Stursberg, who is still dazzling us with words (“A war reporter pieces together his own story,” People, Aug. 5).

Florence Taylor, Newcastle, Ont.