March 14 2005


March 14 2005


‘Kyoto is a waste of time. Why do people try to control the destiny of the planet Earth? We are such a short blip in history, we may as well enjoy ourselves.’ -charleschan,Edmonton

Let there be light-and heat

Your Kyoto cover (“Canada’s Kyoto shell game,” Feb. 28) lacks perspective. Since the population of Canada was about 28 million in 1990 and about 32 million in 2004, an increase of nearly 15 per cent, the fact that our greenhouse gas emissions increased by a greater percentage over that same period is hardly a coincidence. Moreover, Canadians are not just wasteful consumers of energy. Greenhouse gases are emitted because we need to keep from freezing in the winter and dying of heat prostration in the summer.

William Armstrong, Ottawa

Those who support Kyoto without also supporting a viable alternative live slightly outside of reality. Our country is very large and very cold, and we need conventional power forms for survival and economic growth. Coal-fired generating plants cannot be made environmentally friendly, wind turbines are not efficient or reliable and consumption of fossil fuels produces a host of unwanted chemicals and pollutants. Perhaps somewhere down the road we’ll have sufficient non-polluting power sources, but not today.

Keith Sutcliffe, Dartmouth, N.S.

Kyoto, simply put, has no real direction, and will not work. Our government, in trying to put us in the vanguard, has instead committed us to targets we cannot meet. Instead of throwing our hard-earned tax dollars at a public relations ploy, we should take the money and invest it in business methods that will enable the world to reduce pollution. We need to make technology that is exportable. For example: figure out a way to eliminate Toronto’s garbage in an environmentally friendly way, and then export the technology.

George Abbott, Windsor, Ont.

Nuclear energy is already significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Canada. Since 1962 (and mainly from 1980), CANDU nuclear reactors have delivered 1.9

billion MWh of electricity to Canadian grids, enough to power all of the country for 3.8 years at today’s consumption rate. The reactors were built primarily to meet demand without importing American coal, and so have avoided the production of about 1.9 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide. We need to reduce our resource consumption, but our society needs electricity. All energy sources have benefits and costs.

Morgan Brown, research engineer, Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., Deep River, Ont.

Why should I have to pay for the pollution caused by a bunch of irresponsible factory and SUV owners? Efforts to improve the quality of our air, water and environment

in general should be paid for by the polluters themselves.

Viviane Blais, Montreal

Hair-raising omissions

Your reviewer of Electric Universe: The Shocking True Story of Electricity (“Brain waves,” Books, Feb. 28) misses more than one boat when he suggests that electrical pioneer Michael Faraday was “shut out” in the name game for electrical measurement. Faraday is memorialized in two units of measurement: the farad, a unit of capacitance, and the faraday, a unit of electric charge. Both words and their definitions can be found in the Canadian Oxford Dictionary.

Jim English, Peterborough, Ont.

Aiming for a better future

I hope Bob Rae’s work on the post-secondary education mess in Ontario is not just more of Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty’s window dressing (“Driving a fresh agenda,” Education, Feb. 21). We have heard more than enough health-care rhetoric. We need to end up with something that will last a lifetime for our university kids without mortgaging their souls straight out of school. Bruce Douglas, Newmarket, Ont.

A new TV snow job

Having given up television a decade ago, and having disengaged from conglomerate-driven entertainment products altogether, I was thrilled to see your cover story on product placement practices (“TV’s new tricks,” Feb. 21). It’s critical to know if content is driven by a commercial agenda; it’s a violation of trust to pretend branded content is anything but advertising. I hope your story wakes people up and encourages them to look more closely before passively accepting advertisers’ messages through increasingly insidious means. Michael Kaminer, New York City

Ignoring the lessons of history

In an excerpt from his Grano Lecture on the American empire (“The great American myth,” Feb. 14), Prof. Samuel Huntington says, “The United States has not been much of an empire throughout its history... we didn’t exercise direct rule over other people

by and large____” It seems Huntington has

found it convenient to ignore the history of native nations of the continent since the early 1600s. Surely, a Harvard-educated man would see that the force of arms leading to

Clouding the issue I

Kyoto is wrapped with loose-leaf advertising

It had been planned for months: the Feb. 28 issue would come in a plastic bag with promotional items. Then editors decided on a Kyoto cover package that week. Readers noticed our bad timing. “It won’t surprise most Canadians if Ottawa comes up short on environmental issues, but shame on you Maclean’s,” wrote Leslie Collins of Barrie, Ont. “You should know better.”

the British rule of India from London, or Belgian rule of the Congo from Brussels, was scarcely different than the force of arms leading to the American rule of Mohawk or Cheyenne or Sioux or Navajo lands from Washington? Had the U.S. been serious about equality and the right to liberty, it might have paid market rates for the natural resources plundered from Aboriginal territory, which might, in turn, have limited it to a much smaller sphere of influence today. ROSS Murray, Brussels, Belgium

Fighting poverty and hypocrisy

Those of us on the front line who stay up until midnight buttering hundreds of slices of bread for sandwiches for the homeless already know about our “massive poverty and obscene inequality.” (“Canada’s gangrene,” LaFontaine-Baldwin Symposium, Feb. 28). What is obscene is that His Excellencyjohn Ralston Saul is lecturing to us. Meanwhile, the government looks for ways to spend its loose change by sending people on handshaking tours of Europe. It’s time for Ottawa to cut the expense accounts and unnecessary staff and start putting some money into the social issues pot. Until each one of us has a roof over our head and a meal on the table, we cannot with any pride call ourselves Canadian.

Susan Evans-Davies, Edmonton

How fitting that you followed upJohn Ralston Saul’s essay on poverty with a Design story (“Psychedelic, baby!”) on those heady, optimistic days of the 1960s. It reinforced how much we’ve lost as a nation as our priorities became shameless self-interest. I’ve worked on Bay Street and observed first-hand how some people’s only contact with poverty is to step over a street person sleeping on a ventilation grate in the rush to catch their commuter trains.

Bob Boroski, Toronto

I almost hate to say this, but John Ralston Saul’s article was probably written in the sumptuous comfort of Rideau Hall, or one of those exquisite international hotels. Judging by his article, I am certain that wealth and privilege focus the mind wonderfully. In the upper echelons of society, there is one abundant commodity: hypocrisy. As a nation, it costs us far too much.

Vicki Hotte, Kettleby, Ont.

I resent John Ralston Saul’s accusation that our society at large is to blame for poverty and homelessness. Homelessness in Canada is not a simplistic case of government underfunding and unwitting victims who, when falling, miss the safety nets. We must also take into account the deliberate choices made by many (by no means all) of the homeless that resulted in their present sad state of affairs. The responsibility must be shared by many of the victims. We all feel compassion for the homeless, but Saul’s claim—that the true reflection of our society is the one among us who has the least—is patently false.

Richard Archer, Ottawa

One solution to Canada’s poverty would be to give the poor the tools they need to improve their lot. One such tool is a good, solid education. Under present conditions, teachers must cope in overcrowded classrooms with inadequate resources and supports for students with special needs. This results in high dropout rates, high rates of illiteracy and poor preparation for higher levels of education for many of our students. Democracy is a reflection of a citizenry’s ability to understand and participate in the system. Those compelled to eke out an existence because they are unemployed, underem-

‘Christopher Reeve was no hero,’ a reader claims. ‘He had the misfortune to be injured in a fall off his horse.’

ployed or underpaid cannot possibly be expected to engage in any political process. As a result, as John Ralston Saul correctly notes, their rights and needs are neglected as our evolving form of democracy no longer reflects the needs of the least of our citizens. Glenna Jenkins, Lunenburg, N.S.

In praise of true heroes

I couldn’t agree more with Charlie Gillis’s Essay “Let’s redefine ‘hero’ ” (Feb. 28). I was most unpopular for asking why the 9/11 victims were considered heroes. Those who died in the line of duty on that day deserved that label more. I came under fire again for daring to question that word being used to describe Christopher Reeve. He was an actor who had the misfortune to fall off his horse. Would he have raised millions of dollars for spinal cord research if it had not affected him personally? Every day, nurses all over the world hold the hands of dying patients. Researchers work tirelessly to find cures for illnesses. Teachers give students the knowledge and skills they need to survive in the world. These are the real heroes.

Marie Killeen, Perth, Ont.

Charlie Gillis’s example of George Orwell’s take on the misuse of words rings true today for such terms as “diva,” “extreme,” and “reality,” all of which seem to carry no weight anymore. In an age when every kid is a rock star, every SUV owner is an adventurer and everyone can be a hero, it’s good to see that Gillis is not afraid to call it like it is.

Kerim Sursal, Toronto