THE MAIL

March 1 2004

THE MAIL

March 1 2004

THE MAIL

‘Since when are there rules that someone like Belinda Stronach with no previous experience or a university degree can’t head a political party?’ -craigpearson,sudbury,ont.

Rick’s world

Your article on Rick Mercer was fantastic (“Rick’s shtick,” Cover, Feb. 16). Not only is he a proud Canadian, but Mercer manages to see the issues clearly and then states what the rest of us are thinking. I nominate Rick Mercer to be our next governor general. Brian Cant, Victoria

Thank you for your cover story on Rick Mercer. I enjoyed the background and insight into our family’s favourite comic. I have a suggestion for Mercer that might help him decide about his future: run for prime minister! After all, the U.S. has elected actors to high political office and Mercer is far more intelligent, insightful and fairminded than they are—or any Canadian politician. In the wake of scandals, corruption and this unbelievably tolerant culture of fraud in government, I think it’s high time for a big change. He’s got my vote. Albert Kaprielian, Kingston, Ont.

I don’t care whether Rick Mercer (or anyone else) is gay or straight, and most people I know would agree that his sexual orientation has nothing to do with our enjoyment of his razor-sharp political satire. Your inclusion of that tidbit of his private life is frivolous titillation that does not belong in an article highlighting Mercer’s significant talents. Sandy Kemsley, Toronto

Smooth reign

Although I am about the furthest thing from a conservative, I did find Brian Bergman’s article “King Ralph’s long reign” (Alberta, Feb. 16) entertaining and relatively informative. However, I thought it missed one key point in its attempt to understand Klein’s long-standing popularity. Alberta has to be one of the easiest jurisdictions on the entire planet to govern. How hard is it to be the premier of a province that, due to its enormous energy wealth, posts a budget surplus year after year? A province that has more money than it knows what to do with. I don’t think Klein would appear quite so brilliant or have remained so popular if he had to govern a province like Manitoba. Devon Parker, The Pas, Man.

Four more years?

I was at my local ski resort having lunch when I was handed the Macleans with the George W. Bush cover, “Hope you lose, eh” (Feb. 9). I found this to be embarrassing as we have many American visitors to our ski resort and many Americans in general will read that cover. I think this makes for bad relations with our closest neighbours and, although I am not very fond of Mr. Bush, I think we should be polite to the American people if we want them to be polite to us. Connie MacKinnon, Castlegar, B.C.

Bushwacked I Canadians say this is no way to treat the U.S. President

Our Feb. 9 cover “Hope you lose, eh,” with a grim-faced George W. Bush, first drew the ire of proud Americans. But the second wave of mail is more balanced, with homegrown critics arguing over whether our cover package was insensitive, even if one dislikes Bush. Garth Borthistle of Cloverdale, B.C., for one, wrote: “To sink to America-bashing is belittling.”

At the point when Paul Martin calls an election, imagine the outrage that would ensue throughout Canada if an American newsmagazine were to feature a similar cover. Such a cover, featuring a large photo of the Prime Minister (scowling slightly, as I am sure he does on occasion) and a clever headline such as, “Americans to Martin: Hope you lose, eh,” would be rightfully regarded as offensive and insensitive—and your magazine would surely echo most Canadians in deploring such a tasteless intrusion into the Canadian electoral process.

Richard Wells, Pittsburgh

As a Canadian living away, just a quick note to say thank you for your chutzpah, moxie and clarity. I now know that Canada is publicly what I’ve always known it to be in person: a freethinking land, unafraid of and separate from the U.S., and fully secure in its own opinions. Congratulations!

Ann Miller, Skokie, III.

I’ve just run an informal poll of American voters and found that less than 10 per cent even know that Paul Martin is PM. Remarkably, even less care who Canada picks for PM. Just seven per cent (mostly with relatives in Canada) expressed any opinion on who should be PM. In fact, when polled, Don Cherry had more name recognition than Martin or Jean Chrétien. Americans by a wide margin felt that Canada should mind its own business, with 90 per cent either strongly agreeing or somewhat agreeing with the statement: “Canada should stick to screwing up its own country and not try to screw up ours, eh.” Brad Benson, Spokane, Wash.

Best title of an article I have ever seen.

Lisa Steglich, New York City

You perfectly captured why I and millions more Americans so dislike Bush. The smug grin, the “cowboy” walk, the arrogance and the ignorance. And that says nothing of his disastrous policies. I’m embarrassed that he is president of my country. Your readers should know that there are millions of Americans who hope our country and the world do not have another four years of him. James Newton, Des Moines, Iowa

As a Canadian living in the U.S. since 1977, I am delighted that we had a Churchill in the White House when the U.S. was attacked on Sept. 11, rather than the Chamberlain we had the previous eight years. You can be sure that if Canada suffers from some disaster, natural or otherwise, the U.S. will be the first to help. I regretfully believe that the reciprocal isn’t the case, and I feel ashamed as a Canadian.

Dr. David McDonald, Pasadena, Texas

Wouldn’t Maclean’s interest be better served by polling Canadians on how they managed to suffer—in silence—through 10 years of a Chrétien regime that misappropriated public funds, eviscerated the military and shamelessly enriched itself? Where was the outrage? Perhaps Canadians should challenge their own politicians to reflect their will before deciding whether or not to re-elect George W. Bush.

Ry Ward, Hampton, N.H.

Prime-time tune out

I agree that many American TV shows are more fantasy than reality (“Unreality television,” Essay, Feb. 16). But I have to ask: is this not the entire point of television? Tammy Gailfus, Calgary

Yes, Canadian and American TV programs differ greatly. However, to understand why, we have to look at what the two populations want. Many American shows such as Friends and Will & Grace avoid politics and current events because the public watches these shows to escape—to be entertained, not informed. Canada’s top homegrown programs focus on current issues because when we want entertainment, we turn on the American stations. When it comes to prime-time television, ignorance is bliss.

Trevor MacKenzie, Hamilton

Congratulations on pointing out the amazing ability of American—and Canadian—TV to blatantly ignore any issue of the day. For a long time, I have wanted to see just one prime-time show ask a challenging question that would force viewers to think. Ignoring issues that affect the lives of everyday Canadians and Americans is a staple characteristic of network TV. It seems to draw in ratings, so why should the networks change?

Colin Rose, Meaford, Ont.

Food for thought

While no one should claim that the modern food supply system is perfect, it’s fair to note that it is undoubtedly better than ever before, that it continues to improve and that differences in food production systems do not nearly break out into simple good and bad categorizations (“Tainted food,” Cover, Jan. 26). Canada’s food safety regulatory bodies provide extensive assessment, inspection and verification designed to protect against food-related risks and effectively manage problems that may occur. Fife expectancy in Canada is among the highest in the world—and has steadily increased over the last century.

Craig J. Pearson, Dean, Ontario Agricultural College, Guelph, Ont.