March 10 2003


March 10 2003


‘The only valid statement on diets is the one attributed to the Duchess of Windsor, among others: “One can never be too rich or too thin.”’ -douglascormsh.Ottawa

Weighty matters

Do you suppose that obesity, especially among children, would be such an issue if a large percentage of our population was not packed up in minivans, driving around their suburban neighbourhoods (“Diets: what works, what doesn’t,” Cover, Feb. 24)? If children could walk to the movies, the store, to school or their friend’s houses, if large percentages of the population were not sitting in front of computers all day and children were not put in front of the TV, video games and computers, would so many in our society have weight and health issues? Whatever happened to children playing outside? Perhaps we should be looking at how we design our neighbourhoods and recreation to make them more accessible by foot and bicycle. We should be teaching our children good eating habits from the beginning, and teaching them that sitting on the couch reading about diets is not going to make them healthy. Getting up and incorporating activity into our lifestyle is what will keep us, as a society, in much better health and weight.

Anne Wilson West, Collingwood, Ont.

Concerned as we are about grave world events and their possible outcomes, we enjoyed some comic relief from the comments of our next crowned prime minister, Paul Martin, on his struggle with his love of burgers and his inability to finish his $500-aplate dinners as a result of talking too much. Thanks for the laugh.

Helen and Allen Gomez, McDonalds Corners, Ont.

I went to England from India in 1961 and converted from a strict vegetarian to an omnivore. My weight exploded from 112 to 150 lb. within a few months. Major reductions in the amount I ate and a strict exercise regimen reduced my weight. I have found through constant weight-watching over 41 years that if you slacken even for a week, you have a tough job losing that extra inch around the waistline. Even now, weighing myself every morning sets an alarm off

in my mind and I take action before it is too late. As a result, I have kept my weight, and my wife, over the years.

Sudhir Jain, Calgary

Barbara Wickens, in writing about training to walk the Washington marathon—“We refused to say we were ‘just’ walking; we were, after all, doing the same strengthbuilding exercises and distance training that the runners were”—downplays the accomplishment of those who ran (“How to lose 50 lb. without dieting,” Cover, Feb. 24). Comparing walking to running is like comparing apples to oranges.

David Straznicky, Vancouver

Biddle’s fiddle

I was saddened to hear of Charlie Biddle’s death (Passages, Feb. 17). My wife and I spent some of our honeymoon in Montreal 18 years ago and one of the stops we made was at Charlie Biddle’s club, in the old part of the city. Pianist Oliver Jones and a drummer began the set. Charlie was not onstage, but schmoozing outrageously with his customers. Then he made his way to the platform, raised his bass upright and began applying his banana-sized fingers to the strings. After the first number he introduced the trio, referring to him-

self as “Charlie Biddle, on the fiddle.” What a night that was!

Phil Novak, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.

Pollution and fur coats

I am fascinated that so many people could jump to the conclusion that sport-utility vehicle owners are selfish, self-centred people (“The terrorist connection,” The Mail, Feb. 24). I drive my SUV for work. As a sales rep, I need cargo room for carrying product and promo materials. Can we now talk about the people who own snowmobiles, Jet Skis and motorboats, which serve little purpose save recreation/entertainment? Fuel consumption on these vehicles may be lower, but if we added it all up, I’m sure the figure would be something truly worth making a fuss over.

Joanne Oldfield, Cambridge, Ont.

When comparing an SUV to a fur coat you must remember that wearing a little fur is not any better than wearing a lot of fur. So, driving any vehicle at all contributes to everything the anti-SUV campaign believes is wrong. Furthermore, do you purchase plastics? Plastic is made from oil. How do you heat your home? Are all the products that you purchase a necessity? If not, you may be supporting industries that are polluting the environment at a greater rate than SUVs. You can point the finger at SUV drivers, but there are always three fingers pointing back.

Lisa Tomassini, Sudbury, Ont.

Sheila’s campaign style

Anthony Wilson-Smith got it right when he wrote “Copps will redefine the Liberal race” (“Sheila to the rescue,” The Editor’s Letter, Feb. 24). In fact, Sheila Copps will bring the race down to hardball politics, shrill personal attacks and flawed promises combined with a paucity of intellectual and honest debate. Let’s hope she has a healthy campaign war chest because, at the rate she spent taxpayer dollars, she will need the resources of the Bank of Canada. John G. Boulet, Ottawa

Leaders and followers

Letter writer John Gross is insulting the memory of Winston Churchill by likening Tony Blair to that great man (“Leader of the pack,” The Mail, Feb. 24). I was a young woman in Britain when war broke out and

I can tell you that Winston Churchill did not lead us into war, but he did lead us to victory. Not so with Tony Blair. Churchill was a statesman. Tony Blair is falling behind George W. Bush like a puppy.

Elisabeth Wallis, Belleville, Ont.

Anti-smoking tour

God bless Barb Tarbox for using what little time she has left in a courageous and demanding lecture tour, pleading with youngsters never to smoke (“ ‘There is no pain greater,’ ” Q&A, Feb. 24). And God bless her 10-year-old daughter, Mackenzie, for her wisdom and self-sacrifice in encouraging her mother to “tell people what this has done to you.” The legacy of Barb Tarbox will be one of lives saved—a remarkably heroic accomplishment.

Bob Thompson, Victoria

On the warpath

The debate over whether or not Iraq has weapons of mass destruction and whether or not to give the UN inspectors more time has obscured the more fundamental issues (“Friends and foes,” The Iraq Crisis, Feb. 24). Twelve years of sanctions have failed to dislodge Saddam Hussein, while five per cent of the Iraqi population has perished from malnutrition and disease. From a strictly humanitarian point of view, the sanctions have to be lifted. But first, Saddam must be removed, and the U.S. can make this happen. I say go for it, and stop making excuses. The terrorist attacks of 9/11 have proven that the Middle East is a source of grave danger. The only way to remove that danger is to bring the Middle East into the community of democratic nations. The real work will start after Saddam is removed. In this sense, the United States cannot go it alone. It can, however, start a process that is long overdue and will benefit the entire worldincluding the peaceniks of France and Germany, whether they realize it or not. Mohamed Ragheb, Toronto

Unfortunately—as Israel has shown us—you cannot fight people who are willing to kill themselves for a cause without destroying your own personal freedoms. There is only one obvious solution—remove the conditions that make people wish to die for their cause. The reason to live is not contained on the deck of an aircraft carrier nor in a barrel of a gun. Our Prime Minister—as well as

many European leaders—have been saying this. Why are the Americans not listening? Jeff Holloway, Calgary

Really, what acceptable Iraqi politician is supposed to replace Saddam and satisfy Western goals? Saddam’s replacement could be even worse. What then? What we do know is that a military offensive by the U.S. would benefit oil interests and the interests of the U.S. military-industrial complex. And we know that the UN is starving innocent Iraqi children to death by economic sanctions ensured by the U.S. and Britain—that is, if all the “precision” bombings don’t kill those children first.

Frank G. Sterle, Jr., White Rock, B.C.

Use the U.S. carrier battle groups in theatre as back-up for a massive, international peace offensive delivering aid, potable water and hope to Iraqi citizens. As aid approaches Baghdad, town by town, Saddam will become panicked at the increasing probability of a palace revolt. Result: regime change in Iraq, marginalization of terrorists and the avoidance of otherwise certain worldwide catastrophe. All for a fraction of the cost of a war.

Doug Rozell, Beachville, Ont.

These so-called anti-war protestors are the same who stood by with UN observers and watched as over a million Hutus and Tutsis slaughtered one another with machetes. However, what is most disturbing to me as

a Canadian is that these same people will sleep peacefully tonight only because soldiers in American uniforms stand ready to do violence on their behalf.

Larry Bennett, Surrey, B.C.

Adnan R. Khan defines jihad, as referred to by a Thai religious teacher, as “a Muslim’s duty to defend Islam even if that means taking up arms” (“Preaching jihad in a peaceful land,” Thailand, Feb. 24). It is not correct to define jihad as “holy war.” The literal meaning of jihad is to struggle, most importantly to struggle against one’s inclinations to do evil. There are many different types of jihad. There is an aspect that involves armed conflict (only to be used in self-defence), but that is not the major focus of jihad and has been improperly used by many for political purposes.

Khalid A. Jasani, Thornhill, Ont.


Barbara Amiel is correct in pointing out the Canadian government’s foreign policy of fence-sitting which has offered very little in moral or military support to the Bush war on terrorism (“Afraid to take a stand,” Column, Feb. 17). Let’s pray that in the months to come, after the U.S. has, without our help, ousted Saddam, it will easily pardon its closest neighbours who sat back and watched the deadly fight from the safety of their home, because they didn’t want to get involved.

Paul Chiasson, Moncton, N.B.

Canada’s position on Iraq is not cowardly, nor is Canada a freeloader in NATO, as Barbara Amiel would have us believe. Canada’s grasp of due process, democratic principles and the merit of independent analysis seems to have incurred her wrath. At first, after Sept. 11, there was no mention of Iraq. Now, suddenly, its leadership is an immediate threat and its people are disposable. That Canadians did not rush to conclusions regarding the Iraqi threat gives them a respected position in the world, and provides a necessary balance to the opportunistic adventurism that is evident abroad. It takes courage to stand up to a bully blowhard. Fully in accordance with U.S. thinking, Amiel deserves to press the button that launches the first cruise missile into the homes of the poor and disenfranchised. Stephen shore, Ste-Dorothée, Que.