THE MAIL

THE MAIL

September 23 2002
THE MAIL

THE MAIL

September 23 2002

THE MAIL

‘There appears to be no one on the horizon who will provide the articulate, flexible and inspiring leadership this country needs and deserves.’ -davejones,Botton,ont.

The long goodbye

So the Prime Minister is retiring. But not this year and certainly not next year but definitely the year after that (“Goodbye to all that—soon!” Cover, Sept. 2). Well of course he’s not so sure of that date to put it in writing. And that sums up Chrétien— he will do anything to stay in power, which is the main reason he has to go as soon as possible.

Greg Blundell, Nanaimo, B.C.

At least one element of Chrétien’s legacy is well established; his government’s shocking and shameful neglect of the Canadian Forces. Nothing has shown that more than the cancellation of the shipborne helicopter program—with contract termination costs of nearly $500 million— and the failure to have a replacement program in place nearly 10 years later.

H. Lome Broughton, Victoria

Is it any wonder that politicians act and think as they do when Maclean’s continually advises us of this or that politician “who took power,” who “clings to power,” is “reluctant to give up power.” Politicians in this nation do not take power; they take office. We, the people, have power, and exercise it every election.

Tim Fletcher, Grimsby, Ont.

The reference to Paul Martin’s generation as “people who wouldn’t know a Simpsons reference if they ran over it” did it for me (“The last grasp,” Cover, Sept. 2). What kind of statesmanship could you expect from a man who doesn’t watch cartoon shows? Although I am not a supporter of any candidate at this point, I felt the article was mean-spirited and condescending toward a generation that has done tremendous work in helping this country achieve the status it enjoys, and still has much to give.

Billie Macpherson, Victoria

With all parties in a state of flux over new leaders, why would Paul Martin’s age be a

handicap? In my opinion Jean Chrétien’s masterful stroke of revenge could be a plus for Martin. All other parties will have new, untested leaders groping to find the next advantageous move, but Martin has proven himself and knows the ropes.

Doris F. Garland, Midland, Ont.

The sad reality in modern politics is that perception, indeed, is reality. There are a few exceptions of people who’ve beaten the age barrier, such as Ronald Reagan, but experience, reliability and loyalty don’t always sell very well these days. Douglas Cornish, Ottawa

Handicapping your picks for Liberal leader (“ ‘Dwarfs’ dilemma,” Sept. 9) is really quite easy. Brian Tobin and Frank McKenna are out of the loop. Herb Dhaliwal is too far west and does not appear to have a strong base even there. Martin Cauchon is a Quebecer—remember the alternating French-English thing? And Sheila Copps has never had staying power. That leaves two real challengers to Paul Martin’s enormous lead. Allan Rock is the Joe Clark of the Liberal party. He has, in all his portfolios, either taken bad advice or exercised bad judgment. That

leaves John Manley, Jean Chrétien’s star who, with Finance in his control, has evened the odds considerably. The only dark horse you didn’t mention is Anne McLellan. She leads up Health, a very important portfolio. I would say very early handicapping indicates the possibility of an interesting race after all.

AI Wrigley, Barrie, Ont.

Trappings of success

Did you notice all the tattoos and body piercings on those present and future leaders (“Leaders of tomorrow,” Cover, Sept. 9)? Oops, there weren’t any. Could there be a correlation?

Joanne Edwards, Ottawa

I found it unfortunate to see no recognition of the achievements of Canada’s million or more young college graduates. Reading about the “Leaders of tomorrow,” one might assume Canada either lacks a college system entirely or its graduates fail to lead. Ignoring the existence of an entire avenue of our country’s postsecondary education system is a disservice to young people.

Rick Miner, President, Seneca College of Applied Arts and Technology, Toronto

A hero just the same

When I looked at William Humber’s history article (“The Canada connection,” Sept. 2), I knew I was about to read more about Babe Ruth as a Canadian baseball hero. I do not doubt he liked to hunt in Canada, that he did things like hit his first professional home run in Toronto, or made occasional appearances in the country, but I do find Humber and his peers go too far in trying to make Ruth a Canadian hero. For a country that so often defines itself by stating how it is not American, it seems odd that we need to adopt American baseball heroes, or say we got to baseball a year ahead of Americans in our histories of the game. Robert Pearson, Montreal

While much is made of Babe Ruth’s extraordinary talent as a baseball player and his exuberant public persona, we know little of his philanthropy. On Feb. 10, 1928, the Beacon Oil refinery near Boston blew up, killing 12 men, including my grandfather Joseph Landrigan. Six

months later, to the day, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, who were playing for the New York Yankees, travelled north by train and held a charity ball game in my grandmother’s neighbourhood. The game raised $10,000 to help the victims of the explosion. My grandmother received $1,000, returned home to Prince Edward Island and bought a farm with this money. My father credits Ruth and Gehrig with helping his mother keep her family together during hard times.

Glenna Jenkins, Lunenburg, N.S.

Trade dispute

L. Ian MacDonald makes two interesting assertions in “The untold story of free trade” (Excerpt, Sept. 9): that it tells an untold story and that the fate of the Canada-U.S. free trade deal hinged on a pivotal phone call between Prime Minister Mulroney and U.S. Treasury Secretary James Baker on Oct. 3, 1987. Unfortunately, neither is true. The story has been told more than once and more accurately, including by me and my fellow authors in Decision at Midnight, published by UBC Press in 1994. And Mulroney is far too shrewd to have intervened in the most delicate phase of the negotiations. He trusted his very senior and very experienced team in Washington, led by his chief of staff, Derek Burney, to negotiate with the Americans, while he kept close touch with them by phone from Ottawa.

Michael Hart, Simon Reisman Professor of Trade Policy, Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, Carleton University, Ottawa

In “United in ambivalence” (The Editor’s Letter, Sept. 9), Anthony Wilson-Smith wrote: “The sheer scope of the importance of free trade with the U.S. for Canada is evident from the statistics.” I wish he and other commentators would investigate the story behind the story. The enormous increase in cross-border trade has been largely unrelated to the Free Trade Agreement. By far the biggest increase has been in automobiles and parts. This was due to the Auto Pact which was protectionism at its most effective. Now that the World Trade Organization has declared the pact illegal, Canadian assembly plants are closing. The second biggest increase in

exports has been in oil, gas and electricity. This is a direct result of the insatiable demand for energy south of the border and has nothing to do with “free trade.” An Industry Canada study concluded that “the impact of [free trade] . . . was modest” and accounted for only nine per cent of increased exports. The real bottom line, however, is alarming. Canada’s per capita GDP fell to 79 per cent of the U.S. level in 2000, from 86 per cent in 1989. So we are falling behind in our standard of living.

Paul T. Hellyer, Toronto

Man of mystery

Bravo Maclean’s for identifying J. Robert Janes as one of Canada’s unknown authors whose writing is outstanding (“Prophets without honour,” Books, Sept. 2). His mystery novels set in Occupied France during the Second World War absolutely sparkle in their faithful depiction of those murky times.

Steele Curry, Calgary

Canadians in Zimbabwe

I was sad to read about the plight of two Canadians in Zimbabwe, Amy and David Wilding-Davies, and know our government, as usual, has not raised its voice in protest (“‘They want everything,’” Zimbabwe, Sept. 2). But then again, Chrétien was also on the side of Indonesia’s dictator Suharto, and several months ago refused to speak out prior to the crooked elections that kept President Mugabe in power in Zimbabwe.

Edward Sweet, Toronto

I recall Kenya’s former president, Jomo Kenyatta, saying: “When the white man came to Africa, we had the land and he had the Bible. He taught us to pray with our eyes closed. When we opened our eyes, the white man had the land and we had the Bible.” This story symbolizes the

feeling of many Africans. Dislike, even hate, for westerners, as the old colonizers, is still present among the disenfranchised masses, which President Mugabe is exploiting to consolidate his grip on power. Land reform may be necessary; however, killing and jailing white farmers who refuse to abandon their land can only lead to chaos, lawlessness and eventual disaster for Zimbabwe.

Noriko Grasso, Woodbrldge, Ont.

‘A classroom of zombies’

I can’t help but wonder what kind of high school Evan Morgan attended. “Dead students society” (Over to You, Sept. 2) left me feeling sorry for him. Obviously, he had the wrong attitude toward high school, and consequently missed many great opportunities to experience “creativity, energy, and passion.” I graduated in the class of2001 and cherish my memories from the classroom, the stage, the committee meetings, the cross-country trails and the hallways. I was challenged and inspired every day by teachers and classmates alike. It is up to each student how much he or she takes away from high school, and evidently Evan Morgan did not choose to take away very much. Jennifer Morrison, Dartmouth, N.S.

I agree that high school can be a mindnumbing place, certainly for those—and there are too many nowadays—who expect to be entertained in class, having come from a lifetime of sitting in front of video games and television. I speak from experience, having taught school for 32 years. These students have no ideas, complain at having been assigned homework—which, incidentally they have not completed—and have developed no work habits. But, truthfully, too often what goes on in a classroom is geared to the slowest person, in compliance with the dictum that nobody fails.

Arthur E. Ammeter, Petersfield, Man.

A classroom of zombies is probably easier to teach than a classroom of critical thinkers. Making mind-numbing and boring classroom material into interesting and creative learning takes a special teacher and often a different approach than what the curriculum dictates.

Adrien Beaulac, Debden, Sask.