December 29 2003


December 29 2003


‘The reasons I left Canada ring as true now as they did in 1978. The lack of compensation both financially and emotionally will drive out physicians.’ -Dr.t.j.Murphy,Houston

Bilateral divide

I am continually amazed by the Canadian preoccupation with all things American, as demonstrated by Maclean’s on an almost weekly basis (“Blame America,” Politics, Dec. 8). It surely has to be one of the great love-hate international relationships in history, but it is largely one-sided. Perhaps Canada should stop trying to seek a national identity by simply blaming America for everything. Having met and worked with hundreds of Americans, I can tell you that most are kind, generous and generally optimistic in outlook, even as they defend freedom by sacrificing their sons and daughters on the field of battle. Canada can remain on its elitist high horse—its relevance in the international community is waning.

Gary Compton, Wesley Chapel, Fla.

As a Canadian in the United States, I am happy to see that among always apologetic Canadians, at least Maclean’s recognizes that Canada is not always at fault. Even Americans are getting sick and tired of Washington politics these days. According to the American news media, everyone is wrong but President George W. Bush and the United States. Might does not make right. It never has and it never will. Where are the statesmen who will stand for the moral right rather than the current economic situation or the next election?

Betty Walling, Orem, Utah

Lacking Canadian experience

It heartens me that at least one Canadian journalist—Mary Janigan—is attempting to change the situation for new Canadians seeking jobs (“A glimmer of hope,” Upfront, Dec. 15). I chose this country and love it with all my heart, but from my own experience, things have not changed appreciably in the past 40 years. It is heartbreaking to hear of professionals, and also of those who are less qualified but competent to hold decent white-collar positions, being turned down time and time again because they “lack Canadian experience.” I learned long ago that all too often that phrase is merely a euphe-

mism for “coloured,” or “immigrant,” or “foreigner.” It is shameful that in this country too many new Canadians are reduced to driving cabs and delivering pizzas; it is all too often, after years of heartbreaking struggle and living below the poverty level, that one may at last get a half-decent job. I know that I am not the only immigrant who was close to a nervous breakdown during my job searches when I came to Canada in 1964 because of this discrimination. But I am still proud to be Canadian precisely because of people like Mary Janigan—Canadians who do have a social conscience.

Luán Pinto, Ottawa

Tis the season I The holidays are a reminder to be thinking of others

Anthony Wilson-Smith’s Dec. 15 “Editor’s Letter” praising the volunteer and charitable sectors struck a chord with readers. For one, Gordon Cann of Sidney, B.C., wrote that Wilson-Smith’s ‘challenge tothinkaboutwhichendofacharity operation you’d rather be on should be pasted on billboards across the country.’

Contemplating Conrad

With his formidable intellect and his gifts of articulation, both verbal and literary, Conrad Black had the potential to become a truly great man in the mould of his historical heroes (“Just like a robber baron,” Peter C. Newman, Dec. 15). The tragedy is that if he is remembered at all, it may well be as a pathetic creature who squandered much of this potential, condemned forever to have an asterisk accompany his name. As so many of us learned as children in Sunday school, it all comes down to choices.

Donald Ostergard, Drumheller, Alta.

I have always enjoyed reading Peter C. Newman and probably always will. But about Conrad Black, never again! My blood pressure will not be able to take it.

Art De Lorenzi, Port Charlotte, Fla.

Economic Darwinism

I generally appreciate the opinions and prognostications of Donald Coxe on economic matters, but I have rising doubts about his order of priorities. In “The play’s the thing” (Column, Dec. 8), he appears to be arguing that society must be ordered to the optimum benefit of corporate competitiveness as opposed to optimizing human welfare. But there is more to life than money: the economic system is a tool for the benefit of humanity, not the other way around. Maybe it’s not the European social safety net that Coxe criticizes that’s a mess; maybe it’s a system that dispassionately uses and/or discards people in a relentless pursuit for profit that’s all messed up.

Geoff Krause, Brentwood Bay, B.C.

Israeli defence

It is rather disconcerting to read Patrick Page’s anti-Israeli comments in his letter “Israel and the UN” (The Mail, Dec. 15). Israel is not perfect, but the goal of the Palestinian suicide bomber is to maximize civilian casualties. Yes, Palestinian civilians have died in Israeli operations, but not by design and certainly not as part of a well-orchestrated plan as has been the case on the part of the Palestinians. Page refers to “massacres” committed by Israelis and cites Jenin as an example, which it was not. The Israeli operation injenin and the handling of it by the media (especially in Europe) are an exquisite example of why there is little reason to hope for peace in the Middle East. The Israeli operation injenin was designed to eliminate terrorists and their infrastructure. The initial media reports based on eyewitness (meaning Palestinian) accounts were that there was an Israeli massacre, with tens of thousands of civilian casualties and hidden mass graves. It wasn’t until the UN investigated the situation that it discovered there were approximately 50 Palestinian casualties, most of whom were armed combatants. Hence, no massacre.

Robert Kurtz, Toronto

Letter writer Patrick Page says that Israel should be grouped in President George W. Bush’s “axis of evil” because of its nuclear stockpile. When Bush named Iran a member of the axis of evil, he meant that if Iran had a nuclear weapon, it wouldn’t hesitate to bomb any civilized democracy. Just because Pakistan, India, France, Germany and other countries have a nuclear arsenal, doesn’t mean that they are evil. Has Israel used its nuclear weapons? They are only present for self-defence. Page also stated that Israel refuses refugees their right of return. Before the war of 1948, hundreds of thousands of Arabs left Palestine with the intention of coming back after Israel was crushed by Arab forces. When Israel won the war, it is true it did not let back in those “refugees” who left willingly, but it didn’t kick out a single Arab.

Nechemya Dukesz, Thornhill, Ont.

"What kind of society produces pedophiles that prey on the impoverished young in foreign lands?

What ails health care

You report that almost all doctors would be happier with higher fees for service (“The doctor is in ... pain,” Cover, Dec. 8), and that they would probably all be completely happy with more money and less work. I suspect that most working Canadian readers’ initial reaction was, “Well, wouldn’t we all! ” How can citizens judge the fairness of medical workers’ remuneration without being able to make valid comparisons? How about a yearly report on professional compensation including doctors, nurses, athletes, administrators, CEOs, plumbers, teachers, dentists, lawyers, carpenters, etc. This might be at least as useful as your annual university survey. On a last note, let’s promote a healthcare council that will publicize, educate and recommend policies on all aspects of the medical care business, especially fixing the absurd situation that combines a shortage of medical practitioners with a refusal to recognize foreign professional qualifications.

Keith F. J. Booth, 108 Mile Ranch, B.C.

There is no doubt of doctors’ highly valuable place in our society. They should be rewarded accordingly, and I think they generally are. You state that the average general practitioner working 52 hours a week plus 17 hours on call had an average net income of $110,997.1 am and have been a general practice lawyer for nearly 20 years. I do not begrudge any doctor his or her pay, but I can tell you that most general practice lawyers do not net $110,000 per year, even if they work similar hours. Also, the health-care system always pays, pays in a fairly short time and the cheques don’t bounce.

Gregory Côté, Irvine, Alta.

Houses all in a row

“Innovation” means something newly introduced. There is no way that narrow-fronted urban row housing can be described as innovative (“Smaller and smarter,” Dec. 1), as it has direct precedents going back, at least, to 18th-century housing in London and elsewhere. Avi Friedman, the McGill University architect, is certainly to be commended for encouraging the building of such housing, but even when I was studying architecture at McGill in the 1940s we had projects to design modern versions of these Georgian originals. Far from being innovative, Mr. Friedman’s housing is no more than a mock-Georgian pastiche of a housing type that has been built more or less continually for nearly 300 years.

Lionel Loshak, Kingston, Ont.

Fore and foul

I read Jennifer Cole’s (“Playing with a Handicap,” Over to You, Dec. 1) with a great deal of shame. How dare we apply pressure to close the golf course at the Ferndale minimum security institution near Mission, B.C.? First, we have the audacity to incarcerate these people, then we deny them a chance to take part in what Cole calls “a restorative justice program . . . that enables them to give back to the community.” Ms. Cole hopes, as do I, that people can change. My hope is also that prison changes—from pleasurable to punitive. Let inmates earn the right to enjoy golf and conversation, coffee and burgers afterwards, when they are again responsible enough to be part of society, not while they are removed from it for failing to be so.

David Llvicker, Atlkokan, Ont.

Sexual imperialism

I had to force myself to keep reading “Sad little girls” (Investigation, Nov. 24). It’s inconceivable to me how any human being could be callous enough to sell a child, send her out to do tricks or hire her for sexual purposes. Thank God I obviously don’t know enough about starvation, demoralization, greed or lust. I kept looking for suggestions as to what Canadians could do to ameliorate the situation.

Sandy Easterbrook, Saskatoon

What kind of society produces pedophiles that prey on the impoverished young in foreign lands for their narcissistic and degrading gratification? Since when must political and economic imperialism also incorporate the sexual dimension? Why doesn’t Maclean’s talk to psychologists and social workers here at home to figure out what is at the root of this inhumane destruction?

Angela Sheng, Cantley, Que., and Nancy Doubleday, Ottawa