August 11 2003


August 11 2003


‘To all those against same-sex marriage, I have one thing to say: Who cares? The only change would be a more diverse, tolerant and open society’—meganburns,London,ont.

Letters to the Editor:

Canadian Shields

Carol Shields was born in the United States, raised in the United States, won the Pulitzer Prize (only U.S. citizens are eligible for the literature prize), used Canadian references in her writing and was considered a Canadian writer by most Canadians (“Art of the ordinary,” Appreciation, July 28). There are very few writers who have had these credentials. Many who come here still write about the country they came from. Shields was different—she wrote as though she were Canadian. The fact that Carol Shields was not born in Canada and did not have the “Canadian” experience, and yet became a truly Canadian writer is extraordinary. That is not only a compliment to Shields’s abilities, but to Canadians themselves for accepting her as one of their own. The true Canadian Shield.

Douglas Cornish, Ottawa

By choosing to place a picture of a disgraced Canadian on its cover—convicted drug mule and cocaine addict Mary O’Connor (“Drug mules,” Cover July 28)—rather than gracing it with a timely memorial picture of universally acclaimed author Carol Shields, Canada’s national magazine has clearly demonstrated poor judgment and insufficient sensibility.

Brian MacKinnon, Winnipeg

‘All you need is love’

Every human, without exception, is the result of a heterosexual relationship. Even those who derive from artificial insemination have required a sort of male/female participation. Without such relationships there would be no human race. That makes heterosexual unions very special, and they are recognized as such. By tradition, the marriage ceremony has been used to publicly acknowledge the love and commitment of heterosexual couples. As your story on plans to legalize gay marriages points out, homosexual partners may be just as loving and just as committed (“Saying T do’—and T won’t’ ” Politics July 28). They should have a similar opportunity to publicly declare

their commitment and should have equal legal status and, if desired, equal spiritual blessing. But let’s not call them marriages. Let’s find a new, respectful term for homosexual unions and reserve “marriage” for those partnerships that hold the potential for procreation.

W. A. Haynes, Victoria

I am amazed that your coverage of gay marriage has received negative responses from people who point out that marriage has been viewed for centuries as between a man and a woman (“Marriage proposal,” The Mail July 21). The fact that any belief has a long history does not add at all to its validity. Those who disagree might want to return to the days when the Christian position was that the sun and stars revolved around the earth—or when women were subservient to their husbands and regarded as little more than property. I don’t know why people are frightened by new ideas. I’m frightened by the old ones.

Dennis D. Brooks, Greenville, S.C.

I find it difficult to take seriously Justice Minister Martin Cauchon’s statement that, “Extending marriage to same-sex couples does not take away rights from oppositesex couples, nor does it erode the sanctity

of marriage.” Once I was a husband and father. Now I’m referred to as a spouse and parent. Once procreation within marriage was the foundation of a loving, caring society. Now procreation is irrelevant to marriage, which is best described by the title of the Beatles hit, All You Need is Love. If the definition of marriage must not be perceived as discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation, who knows what the future will bring. Denying a brother the right to marry his brother or a sister her sister sounds like discrimination to me.

Bill Armstrong, Ottawa

May a puzzled old cynic, observing the worship of individual rights above common sense displayed in today’s media, be permitted to ask a few questions on the subject of marriage? Why this lemming-like stampede to redefine marriage? Who will it benefit? How many of the 10 per cent of our population who define themselves as homosexuals are in a committed relationship that they wish to legalize and/or sanctify? Homosexuals already have laws giving them the legal, property, succession and other rights of married couples, or are on the verge of getting them. Some claim that a compelling reason is to provide legal recognition that a homosexual union is no different from any other. How can changing the meaning of a word alter biological fact? Victor M. Andrucson, Coquitlam, B.C.

Red tape and bureaucracy

Thank you for Mary Janigan’s July 21 column about the “scandalous waste” we create for new Canadians and, if we cared to realize it, ourselves, when we fail to recognize the credentials and experience of immigrants trained overseas. These foreign-trained nurses, teachers and engineers are often more resilient and more determined than their Canadian counterparts. Often they are truly the cream of the cream.

Peter Andres, Chilliwack, B.C.

I tell every new immigrant to lower expectations, enrol in a university or college, grab the first job, even if it is a dog job, and good luck. I started by using a completely truthful c.v., but the answer to my job applications was “overqualified” and “lacking Canadian experience.” I scratched the M.B.A. from the American University of Beirut from my c.v., but still I was lacking Canadi-

an experience. I was getting short of funds and I had a wife and small child to support. So I grabbed a job wrapping meat in a supermarket. I am no longer wrapping meat, but I had to learn to survive the hard way. We cannot blame the country for having a high level of education, neither can we blame it for protecting its workforce from new immigrants. It is a normal procedure that everyone should accept. After two tough years, I now feel very proud, believing that “if there is a will, there’s a way” and bless this beautiful country for its diversity, liberty, equality and fraternity.

Omar Hamade, Montreal

I could not agree more with Maryjanigan’s column. I am a radiologist trained in South Africa and practising in Canada under limited registration. The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons refuses to let me sit the radiology exam. Instead, it requires me to take primary medical degree qualification exams. Due to this policy, many foreigntrained specialists, such as radiologists, who never have or would treat an inner-ear infection, for example, do not come to Canada to work as they are not prepared to waste their time studying for an exam that has no bearing on their profession.

Dr. Awie du Toit, Moose Jaw, Sask.

Unfortunately, the professional qualifications issue is not limited to immigrants— due to provincial red tape, many Canadians face this same problem when moving within their own country. As a fully certified teacher with a degree from Queen’s University and 11 years’ teaching experience in Ontario, I was dismayed to learn that my credentials would not be honoured in British Columbia. In order to receive a permanent teaching certificate, the B.C. College of Teachers has demanded that I take two additional university courses at $800 a pop. Neither of these courses are from the education department, and their relevance is minimal at best. How is it that such provincial protectionism and discriminatory rules and regulations from one Canadian province to another are tolerated?

Dorothy Shaw, Vancouver

The new imperial order

For a historian, Niall Ferguson presents a remarkably ahistorical analysis of U.S. imperialism (“The paradox of U.S. power,”

Q&A, July 21). Ferguson argues that it is not “wicked multinationals” but rather “corrupt dictators” who are the source of much poverty in the world. A deeper analysis would reveal that many such dictators were installed with the help of the American state, usually at the bidding of American multinationals seeking to exploit the human and natural resources of underdeveloped countries. Richard Telfer, Toronto

I don’t know if British historian Niall Ferguson knows that the places with “extreme poverty” that he refers to in his interview are the places that were previously controlled by imperial powers. These empires that controlled these places did not consider or did not care for the rights and freedoms of the people living in them. They only wanted to exploit them for natural resources. No good can come out of imperialism.

Alex Gawronski, Ottawa

Olympic-sized problems

My husband and I lived in Vancouver for four years and agree that it will be a beautiful site for the Olympics (“City of gold,” Cover, July 14). I can’t help but wonder, however, what visitors will think of the chronic drug abuse visible on the Downtown Eastside. Or the Aboriginal children selling their bodies, day and night, at bus stops on East Broadway. Perhaps the organizers who managed to arrange the funding for the bid could work on that project next, before the world casts its eyes on the sorry mess. Karen Watchorn, Longueuil, Que.

I find it irritating that an athlete would complain about an $1,100 monthly stipend when many graduate students make less and are in debt up to their eyeballs (“No way to treat an athlete,” Cover, July 21). I am a biochemistry graduate student at McMaster University with a stipend of about $1,100 a month. Like high jumper Nicole Forrester, all graduate students live “month to month.” Why does society value sports and recreation so much? Graduate students are at least as important as athletes. While Forrester and others are jumping and running around, graduate students are slaving away working on complex problems, trying to solve the unknowns that may contribute to saving your life or the life of a loved one.

Nancy Sheeler, Hamilton