THE MAIL

‘Terry Fox’s heroic legacy is truly remarkable. We are so grateful to his vision, especially since our 11-year-old daughter was diagnosed a year ago.’

Anne Williams April 18 2005

THE MAIL

‘Terry Fox’s heroic legacy is truly remarkable. We are so grateful to his vision, especially since our 11-year-old daughter was diagnosed a year ago.’

Anne Williams April 18 2005

THE MAIL

‘Terry Fox’s heroic legacy is truly remarkable. We are so grateful to his vision, especially since our 11-year-old daughter was diagnosed a year ago.’

Anne Williams

The running men

I had tears streaming down my face after reading your April 4 Cover story, “The relentless Terry Fox.” In 1980, when I was teaching in Ontario, I became aware of Terry’s goal to run across the country to raise money for cancer research. A year later, I was on sabbatical in South Africa and read a small article in the local newspaper about a young Canadian amputee who had tried to run across Canada, but had passed away from cancer. I wept then, too, but I’m sure my friends wondered why I was crying for someone I didn’t know and had never met. By now I believe they, and millions of others worldwide, understand why I cried.

Marilyn Conibear, Vancouver

Your writer Ken MacQueen says he has often wondered why this country hasn’t produced more Terry Foxes. It has, and one of them is Steve Fonyo, who also lost a leg to cancer, also set out from the Atlantic Ocean, also raised large amounts for charity and, unlike Terry Fox, made it all the way across to the Pacific. I remember standing on a Calgary street where students and staff from a nearby college lined the road three and four deep to cheer Fonyo on. I’ve often wondered why Terry Fox gets so much credit when Steve Fonyo rarely gets a mention. Whatever mistakes and brushes with the law he got into afterwards, his feat remains, and whatever their respective personalities, Steve’s run far surpassed Terry’s.

Alan Ross, Calgary

After reading the words spoken by Mrs. Fox, “He wasn’t meant to . . . live,” the image of Terry Fox on a Canadian highway remained in my mind all day. Terry’s life, and his death, serve to remind us that true heroes exceed all expectations with a level of humility no ordinary person could match. It would be great if we could make our loonie a “Terry” permanently so that Canadians never forget what a real hero looks like.

Brian Cant, Victoria

Coming up short in Quebec

I loved Benoit Aubin’s shoe salesman metaphor to describe Stephen Harper’s efforts to sell his Conservative party to Quebecers (“La difference,” Politics, March 21). As a new Tory member who recently left the Bloc Québécois, I sympathize with his problem. Although still a sovereignist, and a very determined one at that, I’ve really grown tired of the Bloc’s stance on many issues, including its unabashedly pro-Kyoto position. I am in favour of greatly reducing taxes, privatizing parts of health care and developing Canada’s ties with the U.S., its greatest friend and biggest trading partner. For me, fiscal, not moral, conservatism is the way to go. If Harper plays that card here, he stands to win big.

Xavier Dubé, Roberval, Que.

Over hill, over dale

I am tired of the recurring blanket condemnation of SUVs from your readers (“Let there be light-and heat,” The Mail, Mar. 14). While it may be difficult for a city-dweller to justify driving an SUV, especially one of the monstrously large and expensive variety, it is not hard for the rest of us to do so. True, the majority of Canada’s population is urban, but we who live in rural and wilderness areas know that SUVs are eminently practical and useful. As a farmer, I do not feel like

a gas-guzzling eco-destroyer when I drive my SUV 4x4. Rather, I feel confident that I can get where I’m going, take care of the task at hand and get home safely. I’m all for the Smart Car and the Echo where they are suitable, but for me an SUV is a smart car. Alexandra Ramirez, Mara, B.C.

What’s up, doc?

I agree with the premise that patients with minor illnesses should not be clogging up hospital emergency departments (“Diagnosis: critical,” Maryjanigan on the Issues, March 28), but this is not news. There are many reasons why the health-care system is in critical condition. One of them is government disdain toward family doctors, the main reason why I left a practice I had enjoyed for more than 13 years. I had to work hard to try to slow the constant decrease in my net income as my expenses and taxes climbed while my fees remained the same. Still, I believe that the system, on the whole, is a good one, thanks mainly to the physicians and nurses who work long hours for a constantly decreasing income while being blamed for the system’s excessive costs. The costs are not excessive; they are just expensive. That is the nature of health care in a technological world serving an increasingly frail and aging population. My solution: treat doctors and health-care personnel better. That means thanking them for a job well done, recognizing their efforts to work efficiently, involving them in the planning of changes and, most of all, not blaming them for the huge but unavoidable costs of the system. Dr. Glenn Griffin, Al Ain, United Arab Emirates

When you move into the issue of stroke treatment to show that emergency rooms are overcrowded, your lack of knowledge becomes apparent. It insults me as an RN with 19 years ER experience to suggest that stroke victims wait in line behind colds and stubbed toes. Let me tell you about a system we use called triage. To keep it simple: incoming patients are seen within five minutes of their arrival and, based on symptoms, categorized as a Level 1 through 5. A Level 1 must see a doctor immediately or loss of life and limb is likely to occur. A Level 2 has symptoms that suggest they will rapidly progress to a Level 1 if not seen within 15 minutes. This is the category most people with stroke symptoms are triaged to. They reach de-

finitive treatment within 15 minutes of arrival. It is wrong to suggest that an experienced nurse would not be able to assess a potential stroke victim and relegate the patient to the waiting room with a Level 4 (can wait up to four hours without a significant change in their condition) or even a 5 (a convenience visit). Lurthermore, your article implies that all strokes are the same and are treated the same. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Leona Dove, Bowmanville, Ont.

Take a long, hard look at the moon.

Any one of those craters represents an impact not survivable on Earth.

I am an emergency physician with 23 years of experience in a busy city ER, and just read your article after coming off night shift. It contains a common misconception—that ERs are jammed with patients with minor illness that could be treated elsewhere. While somewhat of a problem, that is not the major cause of ER congestion. With frequent waiting times of six hours—and at times of up to 12 hours—minor cases do not hang around plugging up the system. Last night, | we were lashing psychiatric patients to stretchers as there were no seclusion rooms left in which to place them. Patients with abdominal pain, pneumonia and assault victims were waiting in the waiting

room, no stretchers available for their care. All the ER stretchers and seclusion rooms were full, and there were patients lying on stretchers in the hallways. None of these stretchers was occupied by a patient with some sort of minor illness. The problem was that we had more than 30 patients who were admitted to the hospital, but the hospital had no available beds in which to place them. Therefore, these admitted patients stayed in the ER, making it impossible to place the patients waiting in the waiting room. Until the problem of available beds is rectified, unacceptable and dangerous waiting times will remain.

Dr. Charles Ricketson, Victoria

Defending ourselves

I applaud Maclean’s for focusing on Canada’s “toothless” coastal defence, a pressing, but often ignored issue in the recent debate about increased funding for Canada’s military (“On guard for thee,” Security, March 14). Our navy, chiefly responsible for the first-line defence of the country, has long been neglectI ed among the forces. Many of the concerns cited in your article—a possible port attack, a nuclear device hidden in a container or a security problem on the Great Lakes—have been building for a decade or more. While emphasizing the importance of protecting our ports, one should not lose sight of the vast stretches of uninhabited coastline also in need of vigilant protection. The defence of Canada is the primary mission of the Canadian Torces. Peacekeeping and bolstering

alliances, operations usually allotted to the army and air force, are secondary.

Chris Sadler, Peterborough, Ont.

Peter C. Newman describes the Bush administration’s proposed anti-missile weapons system as “madcap” and says it “will almost certainly never be called into action” (“Our policy: made in America,” March 14). Perhaps Newman should take a long, hard, contemplative look at the moon. Any one of those craters represents an impact not survivable on Earth. Missile defence shield technology may prove to be our insurance against extinction.

Douglas Martin, Hamilton

How the mighty have fallen

Steve Maich’s prediction that “poor” Bernie Ebbers, the Edmonton-born former CEO of U.S. telecom giant WorldCom Inc., would be a free man (“Prosecuting a culture,” All Business, March 21) actually had me convinced. However, the guilty verdict the very next week (“Convicted,” Passages, March 28) has proven that there’s still hope that justice can prevail even at the top managerial levels of international companies. I hope that other CEOs in similar positions to Ebbers—found guilty of participating in a US$ 11-billion security fraud—now realize that their trip to court may not be as easy as they were originally contemplating. It is time that executives are held accountable for what happens under their watch.

Doug Paquette, Greenfield Park, Que.

Northern reflections

Inuit applaud Peter Mansbridge’s ability to see beyond our day-to-day challenges, including painful suicide among our youth (“When kids lose hope, Mansbridge on the Record, March 28). He articulates the hope, determination and strength of our people to achieve a standard of living and quality of life comparable to other Canadians, while maintaining our links with our culture and language and becoming proud Canadians in our traditional Arctic homeland.

Jose Kusugak, president, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Rankin Inlet, Nunavut

I cannot thank Peter Mansbridge enough for his moving words. In the past 35 years that I have lived in the North, I have lost seven relatives and many other friends, colleagues

and neighbours to suicide. The rate of suicide deaths is a state of emergency. Nunavut has lost more than 500 people to suicide since 1977. If that was taking place anywhere else in North America, would it be tolerated? In northern Quebec’s Nunavik, there were 79 suicides in a recent four-year period, 6.5 times higher than the rate in the rest of the province. The suffering in Labrador is the same. The North showed its capacity to care for others in its generous donations to the tsunami victims, despite its own poverty. Can we focus now on it? Please, Canada, help!

Caroline Wah-shee-Anawak, Ottawa

Terri Schiavo: RIP

It was appalling to learn how the tragic story of Terri Schiavo ended 13 days after her feeding tube was removed (“Terri’s cruel death,” Society, April 11). What makes the story more upsetting is how the U.S. justice system dealt with the dispute between the

parents of the disabled woman and her husband, Michael Schiavo. It was morally wrong for the courts to give him the authority to deprive her of life support and ignore the pleas of her parents. No matter how caring a husband is of his spouse, that care can never match the concern of parents toward their offspring. I hope lawmakers and politicians can introduce proper safeguards so that this kind of cruelty will never happen again. Abubakar Kasim, Toronto

As a person living with a progressive neuromuscular disease that may put me in a position where I, too, am dependent on others to care for me, I would like to ask, how on Earth do people feel that they have the right to decide what quality of life is for another person? Withdrawing a feeding tube, by denying something the body needs to survive, is simply murder. Where does it stop?

Anita Berglund, Thunder Bay, Ont.