September 20 2004


September 20 2004


‘I am proud that our athletes have reached for their best despite insufficient government support and a lack of

Visibility Ín the media.’ -Gareth Llewellyn, Vancouver

The Midas touch

I am heartily sick of hearing about how we need more gold medals and how we must scheme to get them at the next Games (“Lowering the bar,” Athens ’04, Sept. 6). Pour in money, if you will, but pour it into the whole athletic infrastructure and culture of the nation. Promote healthier lifestyles through sport, spend the money on everyone and have faith that this will give us more medals. If we bring about a more athletic Canada, the savings in health care will finance Olympic training.

Dermot Monaghan, Peace River, Alta.

Other nations spend big amounts of money to have “super” athletes, but I don’t think this is something Canada should even consider. Sure, it would look good if we got lots of medals, but to me that is a luxury we just can’t afford.

Michel Binda, Ottawa

If athletes want money from the government, it should be provided not as a handout but rather as a low-interest loan. Students incur debt to realize their goals, and a similar system could work for athletes. I would much rather see government revenue spent on more important programs such as health care and relief for the homeless.

Alan Mundle, Mill River, P.E.I.

As a proud Canadian living in Australia, I watched Aussie athletes win medal after medal. The performances brought the whole nation together. In a country where our national identity is constantly up for debate, wouldn’t better funding for athletics and creating a national institute of sport be a relatively cheap nation-building exercise? Australia is the perfect example of what a small country can do on the world stage with some planning and preparation. If we follow its example, Canada will become stronger and more unified.

Mary Lay, Melbourne, Australia

I’m probably one of the few people in this country that is happy with our medal total.

I think it’s unrealistic to expect a country with a three-month summer to outperform Australia, which has summer all year long. Did the Australian media complain that they won only two medals at the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City?

Jamie Friesen, Edmonton

After listening to endless post-Olympic wrapups, it appears what Sport Canada needs most are visionaries. Of Canada’s three gold medallists, only one was mentioned in your Aug. 16 Olympics preview cover package. When the chips were down, the Canadians who won gold were the ones not considered. If the experts can’t recognize their talents, we shouldn’t be surprised at the

Gold standard I Is the

struggle for Olympic medals worth the cost?

Readers quickly joined in the post-Athens handwringing, with most taking a positive view. Mike Thompson of Courtice, Ont., used simple math to show that Canada did quite well, indeed. “The U.S. won 103 medals with 10 times our population. When Canada’s 12 medals are multiplied by 10, it comes to 120. That’s pretty good. Congratulations to all our Olympians!”

total medal counts. Until we can find the diamonds in the rough, we can’t help them. Here’s to Lori-Ann Muenzer, Kyle Shewfelt and Adam van Koeverden.

Chris Kennedy, San Clemente, Calif.

“Personal best” seems to have become the favourite phrase of Canadian athletes. If Canada is sending them to the Olympics, I think we should expect more than personal bests. Most Canadians simply do not have the winning mindset that gold medal athletes need.

Sandra Maron, Leduc, Alta.

Why are so many Canadians pretending that the medal count doesn’t matter? Could these be the same people who for the past 20 years have been teaching our children that competition is only good if there are no winners or losers? They would have us believe that these young athletes train for four years and travel halfway around the world just to play the game. Bunk. Every child is good at something—if we teach them that winning matters, each will focus on his strengths. Our athletes will perform accordingly.

Errol Squires, Stettler, Alta.

Olympic success is an individual accomplishment. When egocentric nations begin taking credit for their athletes’ success, the rot really sets in. The misguided and craven habit of counting a country’s medals—as though the whole nation is competing— must stop.

Roy Anderson, Mount Brydges, Ont.

I read about Perdita Felicien, then cried when I heard what happened to her in Athens. We bathe in athletes’ reflected glory when they win, but we should be proud of their determination and love for their country even if they don’t. She and the baseball team, especially, have contributed so much to the spirit of Canadian athletes, despite the down times.

Kathleen Crawford-Patterson, Markdale, Ont.

Thanks for your coverage of the Athens Olympics—let’s not stop writing about amateur athletes just because the Games are over. Ian Hand, Toronto

Presidential woes

Thank you for Bob Levin’s concise summary of the George W. Bush presidency

(“Bush’s really bad year,” The Back Page, Aug. 30). It continues to baffle me that at least half of the American voters still seem to think that the President is doing just fine. Are they in denial, or what? Yet the Democrats can’t seem to capitalize on the situation in spite of all of Bush’s failings. I’m afraid John Kerry is going to blow his chances of winning by, among other things, failing to differentiate his policy vis-à-vis Iraq from that of Bush.

Don Lymburner, Vancouver

I can only hope and pray that many people read articles such as Bob Levin’s and make the right decision. I have never before been concerned with the outcome of an American election; however, this one is troubling me considerably. It will be a great blow to world peace, the environment and efforts to restore credibility in the business world if this madman, George W. Bush, is elected again.

Gail Bennett, Toronto

What ivory tower is Andrew Potter writing from (“Give Dubya a hand—get violent,” Essay, Aug. 30)? He makes it sound as though most of the protesters in New York City for the Republican convention were non-voting, non-volunteering anarchists, imported only to incite riots and inconvenience the locals. He is wrong. Potter’s “culture jammers” are not professional troublemakers, but ordinary citizens who have simply had enough and aren’t content to wait for election day to make their feelings known.

Sabina Becker, Cobourg, Ont.

Twinned identities

Our identical twin sons were born in 1963 (“Prize specimens,” Science, Aug. 30). They followed the pattern of nearly identical abilities and talents in school. They met their wives in the same year, bought houses in the same year and had their first children separated by only five months. They look so identical that their little children (who now range in age from two to five) sometimes can’t tell which is daddy. Our sons went to the Just for Laughs twin parade two years ago, but other than that they have been content to lead their “double” life without fanfare—but with a great deal of enjoyment.

Susan Jackson, Hastings, Ont.

School debates

Your recent article about public high schools (“Canada’s best schools,” Cover, Aug. 23) presents an array of findings about a number of truly wonderful schools and highly creative programs in a variety of Canadian communities. Your writers point out, quite rightly, that there is no one common scale of excellence by which to measure schools. It is therefore unfortunate that the title, “Canada’s best schools,” so badly misrepresents the content of the article.

Patrick Fleck, Sidney, B.C.

Number of schools cited in your “Canada’s best schools” issue: 37. Number of them that were in Quebec: one. And it was an English one. I don’t want to get all political about it, but as a Quebec francophone, I feel that at least one of our schools should have made it onto your list.

Dominic Menard, Montreal

I just wanted to let you know that I really enjoyed your schools article, especially the profile of the Braemar school for pregnant and parenting teens. It’s really cool that


If a friend should find himself spinning out of control, my plea to law enforcement is use the Taser

there’s a community for people who have made one bad decision but really want to move on. No matter how old you are, I don’t think that just because you have a kid you should stop living life to the fullest.

Amy Carlberg, Toronto

Policing risk

At the end of your article on police use of Tasers (“When stun guns go bad,” Police, Aug. 23), you ask “When is it worth the risk?” Yes, government must conduct safety tests on new products, but the public must realize that there are no other options to deadly force now other than to disengage with the subject. Don’t forget that the police officer may be putting himself in life-threatening danger when he confronts a suspect. As well, the officer may be subject to internal investigations and to being both criminally and civilly liable for a use-of-force decision. Is that worth the risk?

Kelly Bailey, Marathon, Ont.

Although your story on Taser stun guns appeared to take a critical direction, the mathematics of it all seem simple to me: Taser death rate, one in 1,000; gun death rate, about one in two. If by some unfortunate occurrence a friend of mine should ever find himself spinning out of control on drugs, my plea to law enforcement is use the Taser. Craig Wright, Winnipeg