'The fact is that humans, especially Canadians, waste a lot of water. What we need is a diversity of solutions with water markets as part of the big picture.'

December 12 2005


'The fact is that humans, especially Canadians, waste a lot of water. What we need is a diversity of solutions with water markets as part of the big picture.'

December 12 2005


'The fact is that humans, especially Canadians, waste a lot of water. What we need is a diversity of solutions with water markets as part of the big picture.'

Water water everywhere

Steve Maich’s story (“America is thirsty,” Cover, Nov. 28) should be required reading. I have always thought that exporting fresh water, which was about to join the salt water on our three coastlines anyway, was a relatively benign way to have our water and sell it, too, provided we chose a suitable place and regulated the amount and process of withdrawal. Sometime in the 1960s, I read an article about a proposed dam across the southern tip of James Bay, capturing the flow of five major rivers flowing north from Ontario and Quebec. This dam might soon enclose a freshwater lake. Then a number of small hydroelectric projects along the rivers could be built to supply power to pump some of that freshwater south again to empty into lakes or rivers

I don’t agree that the world will view Canada as the “neighbour who leaves his sprinkler on all night while the rest of the street dies of thirst.” If America will “act aggressively” and “abandon the border water treaties” in response to our refusal to sell our water, then I think the world will be more inclined to applaud Canada’s firmness. We maybe David to the American Goliath, but somebody needs to stand up. Fortunately, we have enough economic and political clout to do that. Despite what you imply, Canada has the resources and the will to work in the best interest of all people everywhere. Also, why would the U.S. government buy our water and then give it to their citizens, any more than they give their citizens universal health care?

Beth Lundquist, Burlington, Ont.

U.S. Rizzo COMIC: that supply the Great courtesy or creators T , , . Riseley & Simmans Lakes-1 suppose there - would be many problems to overcome, such as silting of the James Bay lake, but given the threat to the Great Lakes, solutions could probably be found. While we build a gas pipeline from the Arctic to the U.S., maybe a water pipeline paralleling it could take water from the Mackenzie River or one of the northern lakes to the U.S. as well. As Maich writes, we must come up with a Made in Canada solution to this continental problem, or face a Made in the U.S.A. solution.

Douglas Millar, Campbell River, B.C.

Sure, let’s sell our water, along with our trees, our oil, our air, and hell, why not our firstborn children? Americans will need Canadian bodies to fill their army, too. I mean, they are just going to take what they want anyway, and who am I, the UN, NAFTA, or common sense and decency to stop them? Donnie O'Connor, Ottawa

I may only be 14 years old, but I know from pictures that the level of water in Lake Huron has dropped. It was always a family joke to say the U.S. was secretly siphoning it off. According to your article, I wouldn’t be surprised if this was true. If we can’t trust the U.S. to respect us under NAFTA, how can we expect it to play fair when it comes to one of the most precious resources we have? I’m not saying we are perfect. Canadians certainly need to stop washing their driveways, but, please Ottawa, don’t ship our water now: save it for the time when we may really need it. Tegan Campbell, North Bay, Ont.

Let’s assume everyone agrees with Maude Barlow that access to clean water is a fundamental human right. Let’s also say that Maich is accurate in his view that water markets will develop, and Canada will end up participating in them whether we like it or not. It is also reasonable to say that Canada may as well take advantage and profit from that. But Maich’s article is missing a key element— distributing and selling water to the U.S. does not solve the problem over the long term. The fact is that humans, especially Canadians, tend to waste a lot of water. What we need is a diversity of solutions with water markets as a part of a bigger picture. We should take advantage of technology that’s available for agricultural water use. We need more work toward conservation and a broader social understanding of what is acceptable. Thanks for a great balanced article.

'Surely someone at McGill can solve the problem of forcing students to pray outside or in the halls'

Nada Sutic, Toronto

The tenor of this article suggests that Canadians are somehow churlish if we ignore the chastisements of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. The OECD is an association of market economies. Such organizations are often conveniently short-sighted in their approach to market economics. To fix one problem by creating another is no solution. Money could indeed be made from selling our water. But, put in market terms, what is the cost of production? Do we understand the risks and the longterm costs? Water should not be seen as a commodity, no matter the predisposition of economists, journalists, or entrepreneurs to categorize it as such. Treating it as a commodity suggests you can remove it from its natural location without consequence. David Ring, Toronto

Arizona and Nevada’s water problems will get progressively worse, and no amount of Canadian water can change that. If we really want to find some long-term solutions, maybe we should ask ourselves why anyone ever thought living in a desert was a good idea?

Jeffrey Yap, Brampton, Ont.

Well done for the courage to publish thoughts on the saleability of our water. Despite, or perhaps because of, my career as an aquatic ecologist in Canada, I see no reason why this subject should not be debated. Let’s do away with the knee-jerk reaction—it’s not for sale, period—and realize that it is a renewable resource just like its derivative, hydrologically generated electricity. There’s a tremendous market out there.

Harold Welch, Clandeboye, Man.

The spiritual side of life

After reading the article about McGill University and its refusal to allow a space for Muslim students to pray inside (“McGill’s prayer

problem,” Education, Nov. 2l), I must say that, as a McGill grad, I was not proud of my alma mater. The haughty, elitist views expressed by Jennifer Robinson, associate viceprincipal of communications, left me angry. These are the same views that existed in the ’60s when Sir George Williams was doing wonders for the Montreal community with its adult education programs while McGill sat silent on the hill. Surely, with a department of divinity and a department of Islamic studies on campus, someone can be involved in quickly solving the despicable situation of forcing students to pray outside or in the halls. To produce well-rounded graduates should include the spiritual side of life. I am not suggesting the building of a mosque on campus. But mere “tolerance” is not enough. McGill needs to elevate its thinking to the level of acceptance and respect.

AlJared, Hudson, Que.

Much as I loathe racial stereotyping, lately it seems that Muslims are going out of their way to promulgate views of theirs being a violent and confrontational religion. If we look at how other religions have dealt with secular institutions, in situations where there is no multi-faith chapel available, many will find private donors within their religion who will provide the funds for an exclusive place for religious students to meet and pray. Consider the Jews. They developed an international organization, Hillel, dedicated to the sole cause of offering services to university students. The funding comes from private donors and is dispersed according to need.

Ben Fishman, Port Coquitlam, B.C.

Bless the beasts

I found Benoit Aubin’s article on foie gras a sad commentary on the sense of entitlement, selfishness, and apathy in today’s society (“Duck if you’re still eating foie gras,” Taste, Nov. 28). It is this attitude of “I want, I can afford, therefore I will have” that allows people to wear fur, drive SUVs, spray with pesticides, and ignore the less fortunate. I became a vegetarian when I realized that it was my responsibility to care about the Earth, and those I share it with. Here’s the bottom line: cruelty is unacceptable. And complacence is almost worse. Do you really think that any sentient being would enjoy having a tube rammed down its throat to be force-fed massive amounts of food? As for the quote in the article “When the feeder comes in, the ducks run toward him.” Could it be that the ducks are simply hungry and they know no other way of being fed?

'I always thought Winslet looked healthy—a welcome counterpart to most Hollywood women'

Cheryl Simpson, Stratford, Ont.

Your article about the fatal wolf attack sickened me (“Call of the wild,” Nature, Nov. 28). Anyone with half a brain knows a wild animal is not cuddly and that a wild animal may injure or kill a person, particularly if that person does something to encourage the presence of that animal, such as feeding it. Beneath the article’s title, you printed the phrase “Activists defend them, but the first fatal attack in 100 years shows wolves aren’t so cuddly after all.” This implies that because of this one fatal wolf

attack, wolves are not deserving of protection, which in turn implies that only harmless animals that behave in a benign manner deserve life. That is ridiculous. You address human carelessness as the primary factor in facilitating these attacks at the end of the article, and the article itself is not particularly problematic, but the way the article is introduced is. Jenny Sommers, Victoria

Worth, not girth

I am extremely offended by your comments about Kate Winslet (“Most improved,” Nov. 28). You note that she has dropped three dress sizes. I always thought of Winslet as an actor who looked healthy and beautiful, a welcome counterpart to the unrealistic, unhealthy body type presented by most Hollywood women. 4M T° insinuate she became thinner to please her husband and measure up (or down) to his previous girlfriends is insulting and degrading. It is time your publication realized that a woman’s worth is not determined by her waistline. Laura Richmond, Guelph, Ont.

Health monitor

I very strongly object to Danylo Hawaleshka’s Chicken Little style of journalism in his story

about the downside of Alzheimer’s drugs (“Curses, not cures,” Health, Nov. 2l). I have been taking one of these medications for almost 5V2 years and it has turned my life around. Most people can’t believe I have Alzheimer’s. I tell everyone who is interested that this is what treated Alzheimer’s disease looks like these days. I have not been cured, but nobody ever claimed these medications were a cure, they simply stopped the hemorrhaging of my brain powers. And I’ll settle for that until a cure comes along.

Fred West, Halifax

Your article on Depo-Provera comes across as a sob story for Aboriginal women, slams the drug manufacturer and the doctors prescribing the medication, and acts as a scare tactic for the general public (“A shot in the dark?” Health, Nov. 28). Depo-Provera is used frequently as a method of birth control for numerous other ethnic groups. So, why the focus on how it is traumatizing the native community? The drug has the same side effects—decrease in bone density, weight gain, depression, sporadic menses or cessation of menses—in all creeds and colours.

Ingrid Pidsosny, Maple Ridge, B.C.

Maclean’s still brings it!

After not reading Maclean’s for a number of months, I was curious enough about the new format to pick up the last couple of issues. Congrats! I love the new look, the new content, and especially the more casual spirit. But, hey, what’s with the negative letters in last week’s issue? The quality of the news reporting has not decreased. It’s broadened, yes, and maybe it’s broadened to include some pseudo-news readers may not be interested in, but they can always skip those stories and read the ones for which they bought the magazine all along. It’s a question of priorities. What’s more important, information or aesthetics? Would they stop watching the news on TV if Peter Mansbridge started wearing a toupée? I find it hard to believe that anyone who reads Maclean’s, anyone who is aware of all the violence, disease and natural disasters going on in the world, can get so uptight over large font sizes, small font sizes, so-called cheap colour schemes and distracting circles. Maclean’s still brings it!

Denys Gareau,



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