June 16 2003


June 16 2003



‘Why are we so concerned with curing and treating serious diseases if we don’t care as passionately about our precious natural

Letters to the Editor: letters@niacleans.ca

More than nature at risk

Wouldn’t you think we’re all a little tired of this story? It’s been going on for years. Green grass. Blue skies. Save the beaver. Yippee yi-oh kayak. Well, apparently not. There’s always news. And salut to Maclean’s for insightfully driving home the real point (“How to heal nature,” Cover, June 2). It’s not just about keeping Canada “pretty,” and it’s not just about the cute little polar bear. We need to recognize that the interaction among climate, habitat and living species is how the world works—and that any disruption in the cycle causes another until ultimately we humans are the endangered species. I was surprised to learn how much has been accomplished. Not surprised, however, that government is still more talk than action. Hats off to the World Wildlife Fund for keeping an eye out for us all.

Carol Griffiths, Toronto

Yes! Bring on more articles informing Canadians about the damage occurring in our environment and the need to do something about it. We can all make a difference by choosing to not use pesticides, to not put plastic and other hazards into the environment, to reduce our consumption of natural resources and to learn to find the same enjoyment in the exciting wonders available for free around us that we seem to think can only be delivered by electronic devices. Aneita Strauss, Victoria

Having been raised near Lake Erie, I was very disturbed to read “An Erie decline.” I have fond memories of swimming, fishing and boating there but, given the lake’s current state, I am afraid many will never have the same experience. I have seen the decline over the past decades and wondered why nothing was being done, but your article opened my eyes. I agree that the Canadian government needs to assume more responsibility, starting with making mandatory the current voluntary environmental regulations regarding entry into the St. Lawrence Seaway system.

Barbara Asher, Lowbanks, Ont.

How can I possibly hope for nature to heal in British Columbia when the provincial government is hell-bent on selling our environment to the highest bidders?

Vera Gottlieb, Chase, B.c.

An ecologically illiterate public can’t keep Canada’s environment healthy. The Prime Minister’s National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy has proposed adding six new environmental and economic indicators to yield a truer picture of Canada’s economic performance, an excellent and much-needed change. But the round table’s “public education” indicator does not include any notion of increasing public environmental knowledge. Once again, environmental education for Canadians has not received support from the government. In Ontario, environmental science has recently been cut from the


Due to an editing error in the May 19 issue, we incorrectly said that the Ontario College of Teachers had been criticized for covering up disciplinary hearings. In fact, all such hearings have been held in public since the college was established in 1997.

provincial curriculum as a separate subject, and in most other provinces it is, at best, integrated into other courses. Only when Canadians make ecological literacy a basic part of our educational system will we be able to work toward maintaining the healthy environment that is an essential requirement for a healthy society and economy. Elise Houghton, Toronto

More disease

You should be ashamed of yourselves for reinforcing people’s irrational distinctions between animals of worth and animals as commodities by printing both “Nature under siege,” mourning Canada’s vanishing wildlife, and “Where’s the beef?”, blaming cattle for human mistakes. Your headline states: “Where’s the beef? A diseased cow deals a body blow to a $7.6-billion-a-year Canadian industry” (Agriculture, June 2). You must be kidding. The cause of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is not a cow, and it isn’t the consumption of infected cows. The cause is the cattle industry that decided to feed these already suffering and doomed-to-slaughter animals their owncannibalism. The same disrespect for nature that leads to the eradication of our wildlife leads to CJD infections in humans.

M. Wallace, Toronto

It is not so much a question of how much one sick cow will cost the Canadian economy, but actually how much the sensational and fear-spreading media will cost the economy. Take a look at SARS—when you realize that hundreds more people die of the flu in Canada each year alone, it is clear there is no one else to blame but the media and their power.

Peter Cuthbert, Guelph, Ont.

As if SARS, West Nile and mad cow disease were not enough, I note in “A new SARS bombshell” (Health, June 2), that your staffers are being hit by an ailment peculiar to journalists. Something called “PENumonia,” sic. There’s probably no cure for it, either. Pity!

Don Shade, Ottawa

Openly irritated

I have been increasingly irritated at the use of the phrase “openly gay” to describe people such as federal Progressive Conservative leadership candidate Scott Brison (“The

road to relevance,” Politics, May 26). Newly elected leader Peter MacKay, however, was not described as “openly straight” or “openly heterosexual.” This, in spite of the fact that far more discussion is presented about his sex life, noting his “sexiness” and referring to his heterosexual activities than about Brison’s sexual activities. It certainly appeared that MacKay is far more “openly straight” than Brison is “openly gay.”

Ciel Clarke, inwood, Ont.

Gender blender

As someone who identifies as transgender but not as transsexual, I wanted to add a comment to the discussion in “Boy vs. girl” (Cover, May 26). One area that might help readers better understand diversity in gender identity is to see how accepting and pluralistic many First Nations’ communities are to the few not fitting into what we would term “feminine” and “masculine” behaviour models. As someone who is biologically male and from early childhood felt completely alienated by masculinity, it is with profound sadness that I see how different my life would have been if I had been born in these more enlightened communities where diversity is truly celebrated.

Lyn McGinnis, Waterloo, Ont.

I have to take issue with Playboy fan Kevin Taylor, who claims in your article that the popularity of low-rider jeans for women indicates we are becoming more androgynous because “you have to be built like a guy or they don’t look right.” I would suggest that you have to be built like a prepubescent girl for them to fit. It is not that we are becoming more androgynous as a culture—we are profoundly, and disturbingly, pedophiliac as a culture.

Patricia Cormack, Associate Professor of Sociology, St. Francis Xavier University,

Antigonish, N.S.

War and remembrance

Flying home from Paris, I picked up Maclean’s and found the article about Garth Webb’s efforts to build a Canadian war memorial centre at Juno Beach in Normandy, where I had travelled four weeks earlier (“Battling for Canada,” History, May 26). It made me realize how many Canadians are probably not fully aware of this powerful piece of our history. This centre will bring to life a whole new perspective on our country’s contributions,

and I look forward to accessing the site via the Internet. And perhaps another visit to Normandy.

Donna Wedgewood-Maynes, Edmonton

Last August, my mother, father, wife, teenage daughters and I went to Normandy to retrace my father’s steps during the summer of1944. On the morning of July 2, Warrant Officer James S. Jeffrey, a 21-year-old Spitfire pilot with RCAF 411 squadron, took off from an airstrip at Bény-sur-Mer, approximately three kilometres from the site of the Juno Beach Centre. My father was shot down close to the town of Orbec and with the help of the French Resistance was hidden until the area was liberated some six weeks later. We met the Norman families who helped him and are thankful to them for saving Jimmy. They are still, nearly six decades later, thankful for his efforts to fight for their freedom. In these times when the reasons to go to war are often clouded, the new memorial will show that Canadians are willing and more than able to go to war when the cause is just.

Lawrie J. Jeffrey, Longlac, Ont.

Somthing to talk about

Dominique Sorel of Montreal exaggerates a million times over in his letter “Separatism will never die” (May 26). He entirely forgets that the referendums were seeking consensus to negotiate separation, never to separate outright. For all that former Quebec premier Jacques Parizeau said about declaring independence unilaterally, the citizens never intended to give him that mandate. They said talk about it. Three million did not vote au revoir, they voted to explore

bienvenue. The federal clarity bill stopped that kind of nonsense.

Stephen shore, Ste-Dorothée, Que.

Funding formula

I disagree with Allan Gregg’s assumptions about the economic viability of the Canadian arts industry (“Art for everyone,” Essay, May 26). While it is true that the average Canadian does not seem interested enough to fill the seats in concert halls, frequent the exhibits at museums or support these interests in the form of higher taxes, this does not mean that the arts industry in Canada is either inherently trivial or ultimately dependent. It means, rather, that the industry is mismanaged, misunderstood and outmoded. We need to redefine the performing and visual arts, both as a choice for consumers and as a commercially viable enterprise. Operating policies should be measured against standard business practices; artists should be treated like employees and audiences should be catered to like customers. By necessity, gradually weaning itself from public funds, the industry will become more competitive, accessible and innovative: truly, better art for everyone. April Nauta, Ottawa

While I am hesitant to quibble over statistics with Allan Gregg, one of our best-known number crunchers, a 2000 Environics study showed that 43 per cent of Canadians had attended a live theatre performance in the previous 12 months, 49 per cent had attended an arts or cultural festival, 31 per cent had visited a public art gallery and 22 per cent had attended a classical music concert. And we’re not just talking about the older generation: 49 per cent of people aged 15 to 24 had gone to the theatre in a 12-month period and 47 per cent had attended a festival. Given that the vast majority of theatre companies, arts festivals, galleries and orchestras receive public funding, this is hardly a case of tax dollars funding art that is “suitable only for the few.” The same holds true for literature. Books by such authors as Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje, Guy Vanderhaeghe and Yann Martel (all of whom have received public support at some time in their careers) are flying off the shelves. If anything, this is art for the many, not for the few. Moreover, a recent poll by the Association for Canadian Studies shows that 46 per cent of Canadians

consider our music and literature important to Canadian identity— six points higher than hockey. Arts funders recognize that artistic quality, impact on the community and access by the public are not mutually exclusive. Rather, they are all integral to sustaining creativity and dynamism in Canadian society.

John Hobday, Director, Canada Council for the Arts, Ottawa

I agree with Allan Gregg that art should be for everyone and should reach and unite Canadians from all walks of life. Unfortunately, Gregg provides no evidence for his views that the arts are elitist. Our research has found that Canadians from all walks of life do indeed participate in (and spend their money on) the arts. Canadians spent $21.3 billion on cultural goods and services in 2001, an amount that is greater than con-

sumer spending on tobacco, alcohol and games of chance combined. Canadians’ spending on live performing arts is nearly double their spending on live sporting events; more lower-income Canadians attend the supposedly “elitist” performing arts (opera, classical music, theatre and dance) than pop music concerts; in fact, opera, classical music, theatre and dance events reach a larger proportion of Canadians in every income and every education group than pop music does; museums and art galleries also reach a larger proportion of Canadians in every income and every education group than popular music concerts. So much for “elitism.” Kelly Hill, President, Hill Strategies Arts Research, Toronto

Master of the back page

The hiring of Paul Wells as the new back-page columnist in your magazine was a master stroke. Wells is among the most original and astute political writers in the country. J. D. M. Stewart, Toronto

Down-home nominees

I wish to nominate Robert Winslow and the 4th Line Theatre company for the annual Maclean’s Honour Roll. Founded in 1992, the troupe “brings history to life on the outdoor stages of the Winslow Farm” in Millbrook, Ont., with a mandate “to preserve and promote our Canadian cultural heritage through the development and presentation of regionally based, environmentally staged, historical dramas.” The company nurtures emerging talent and provides opportunities for seasoned professional performers and writers.

Helen Bajorek MacDonald, Newtonville, Ont.

Best known as Wayne’s father, Walter Gretzky has quietly made an impressive mark on young Canadians across the country. His work for the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the CNIB is well documented. Not as well-known is the effort Walter puts out for the youth of Canada, from coast to coast. Mention his name in virtually any community and accolades will pour forth regarding his contributions to our young. He has been awarded the Order of Ontario for his selfless service to others. Recognition by Canada’s national magazine on its Honour Roll would be a fitting tribute to a great, humble Canadian.

Larry Guerrlero, Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.