June 2 2003


June 2 2003



‘What is more scary: the risk of contracting West Nile or the overuse of cancer-causing agents and asthma-related

irritantS Ín peStiCideS and DEET?’ -MANDYSHINTANI, North Vancouver

Letters to the Editor: letters@macleans.ca

West Nile season

Thanks for your coverage of the West Nile virus (“Waiting for West Nile,” Cover, May 19). The most interesting part was the reminder that about 40,000 people in Canada die from smoking each year. I tried to get a smoker friend who is panicking about West Nile to realize that the odds of her dying from her habit are at least a thousand times greater. But my argument wouldn’t sink in. I even heard one smoker say that he intended to light up every time he went outdoors to keep the mosquitoes away and that “his smoking was going to help him live longer.” If the health authorities had their priorities right they would be spending a thousand times as much on curbing tobacco use as on West Nile. But as long as the media continue to give massive coverage to trendy new diseases like SARS and West Nile, the politicians and the public will continue to have a sadly distorted picture of what really matters. You could do your part by giving us a weekly update of smoking-related deaths in addition to the reported cases and deaths from SARS and West Nile, just to keep things in perspective.

Gerard Brender à Brandis, Stratford, Ont.

I’ve lived through the West Nile scare and overreaction here in New York City. If you must scare people into buying your magazine, at least put the figures into perspective. How many people are dying from malnutrition, from AIDS, from car accidents, from gunshots every day? I refuse to be scared by media reports of terrorism and disease. And I never believed Chicken Little, either.

Shawn Rosvold, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Your accompanying article on Lyme disease, “As if SARS and West Nile weren’t enough” (Cover, May 19), was informative but short on specifics. Here are some facts you might have included. Our Lyme disease research, which we conducted across Ontario in 2002, revealed 13 blacklegged ticks that tested positive for the Lyme disease bacteria. These ticks were removed

from dogs and cats that had no out-ofprovince travel. We also found wide distribution of immature blacklegged ticks on songbirds from northern Alberta to Nova Scotia, some of which were infected with the Lyme disease bacteria. Recently, we discovered Borrelia burgdorferi—the bacterium that infected ticks transmit—in blacklegged ticks and white-footed mice near Chatham, Ont., on the Lake Erie shore.

John D. Scott, President, Lyme Disease Association of Ontario, Fergus, Ont.

Suffer the children

It appears that world leaders have forgotten about the most helpless and innocent minority to suffer the consequences of war: the children (“A grim toll on the innocent,” Children and War, May 12). When planning for war, does anybody think of the orphans? The maimed children? The little ones who must carry physical and emotional scars for the rest of their lives? The young girls who are raped? What about those who will never live to tell their heartbreaking stories? To look into the eyes of someone so young and trusting, someone whose hands were amputated by rebels and must now lead a severely disadvantaged and saddened life, left me grief-stricken. After hearing stories such as these, I am left asking: how can chil-

dren ever hope for peace when adults accept so much violence?

Meagan McDonald, Hamilton

Racial vindication

I was delighted that Anson Carter is celebrated as a Canadian hero following his winning goal at the world hockey championships (“Golden boy,” The Week, May 26). Hopefully the skill of Carter’s play and his contribution to Canada is a lesson for anyone who was involved in running the NHL in the 1940s and 1950s. Back then, Herb Carnegie was the star player in the Quebec Senior League and named its most valuable player three years in a row. However, Carnegie, who is black, never had a chance to display his talents in the NHL (let alone in international hockey) as racist attitudes kept him from being signed by any team. While Anson Carter is standing on the shoulders of past giants like Carnegie, those involved in running the NHL today can only look back in shame at the negligence of their predecessors.

Duff Conacher, Chelsea, Que.

Troop denial

It is always heartwarming to see Canadian talent such as Pamela Anderson and Celine Dion (“Secret weapon,” The Week, May 19) entertaining the American troops while Canadian servicemen and women stationed in hot spots overseas get to watch homegrown entertainers few have ever seen or could identify.

Warrant Officer Nicolaas Spek, Damascus

Playing hooky

What a great example of lying and deceitcalling in sick to get a day off work (“The magic of a ‘sick day,’ ” Over to You, May 12). If Alison McKinnon had a modicum of integrity, she’d slither back into her bed and hide under the covers.

J. E. Landry, Comox, B.C.

“So today I will stay in my pyjamas, read magazines... bake something incredibly fattening.” I might follow in the above footsteps. Why should I worry about who will open my offices and generate revenue to provide salaries, medical coverage, paid vacation and retirement benefits for an employee who brazenly admits that “Feigning illness can be good for you.”

Phyllis Schwartz, Sacramento, Calif.

I absolutely loved your story. It brought tears to my eyes as I did the same thing with my mom growing up. As an adult, I love my personal health days. I believe you do need to take care of your emotional self every once in awhile.

Kimberly Arrowsmith, Surrey, B.C.

Victorious memories

“ ‘What a commotion,’ ” (VE Day, May 19) was of more than passing interest. When I noticed the picture of Trafalgar Square filled to capacity on VE Day, I remembered that I was present on that occasion and to my astonishment saw myself in the picture among the thousands of revellers in the square. As a 16-year-old living in North London I wanted to be part of the action, and having heard that Winston Churchill was to address the nation at 3 p.m., I cycled to Trafalgar Square where loudspeakers had been installed to transmit his victory speech. Everything was fine until Churchill had finished speaking and then it seemed as though everyone wanted to leave at the same time. People began falling over my bike, hidden in the throng, and I think I was only saved from being the cause of an ugly scene because everyone was in such a happy mood that day. Ronald Clinton, Toronto

What an excellent photo of revellers celebrating VE Day on May 8, 1945. I might have rubbed shoulders with Edna Wilson, as I was also there in my Women’s Auxiliary Air Force uniform. I, too, remember standing on the steps of the Victoria monument outside Buckingham Palace. We were eventually rewarded by the balcony appearance of King George VI, Queen Elizabeth, the two princesses and Winston Churchill. Gwyneth Shirley, Huntsville, Ont.

Our mistake

An editing error led to the blending of the following two letters into one in the May 19 issue (“The marrying kind,” The Mail). Here is how the letters should have appeared:

Suneel Khanna expresses well the desire of homosexual couples for marriage equality, equal status or of being an additional class of marriage (“Gay and ready to marry,” Essay, May 5). Sadly, gay and lesbian couples can never be equal—it is physically impossible for them to produce a baby, the crowning point and joy of marriage. Chang-

ing the age-old meaning of “marriage” could lead to harmful effects for the state and its future populations. It has always been seen that the father-mother-child unit requires some kind of special recognition and protection to produce the best citizens. Dorothy Pape, St. Catharines, Ont.

I want to congratulate Suneel Khanna for his bravery in standing out of the crowd and

being proud of who he is. It’s not easy to be a professional and gay, even in the year 2003. It is also not easy for a man from his religious/ cultural background to make this stand. I understand all these struggles on a very personal level. I also agree with Khanna that it is time that Canada recognizes the rights of all its people, as the Charter of Rights and Freedoms states.

James Latour, Nanaimo, B.C.