MAIL BAG

Diana Lombardi, Hamilton January 30 2006

MAIL BAG

Diana Lombardi, Hamilton January 30 2006

MAIL BAG

'I am sitting here comparing photos. All the Martin shots are duds. Harper's? The man is caught every time looking like a movie star.'

Get the picture?

I believe it was totally unfair, especially this late in the election campaign, for you to show Stephen Harper in such an unflattering close-up on the cover (“The Harper agenda,” Jan. 16). I can now see where Maclean ’s leans politically.

Georges Jansen, Annan, Ont.

I suppose, if you looked hard enough, you could find a bad picture of Nicole Kidman. By the same token, you could have found a good picture of Stephen Harper—even if he is not anyone’s idea of a perfect poster boy. I

am going to vote Conservative but, even so, my initial reaction to that picture was that Harper looked like a dark and sinister man. Ed Smith, Vineland, Ont.

I’m sitting here comparing photos. All the Martin shots are duds. He’s either looking down or wiping his brow. One is a full

frontal shot with his mouth wide open. Harper’s shots? Not an unflattering dud among them. In fact, the man is caught every time looking like a movie star. Anyone who’s ever taken a photograph knows it’s not an accident. You may have decided who should win the election, but your job is to present an unbiased approach. This visual warfare is transparent, boring and dangerous.

Andrea Percy, Lindsay, Ont.

I should have mentioned that your attack on Lenin, I mean Layton, was no better than the Darth Harper photo. As Canada’s most important news source, you should be a little more responsible. I’m voting Liberal, too, but I’m upfront about it and I am not the editor of Maclean’s.

Troy Wreford, Woodstock, Ont.

The young and the feckless

“Stop him before he votes” (National Jan. 16) was one of the most insulting pieces of journalism I have ever encountered. To suggest that today’s youth cares only for pleasure is ill-founded. The youth delegations of the various political parties indicate that a great number of today’s youth are actively involved at the federal level. The blame for youth apathy can’t solely be placed on teens. Apathy breeds apathy. If a teen grows up in a home where no value is placed on contributing to the democratic process, that teen is more likely to become one of the kids with halfbaked brains. More efforts should be made within schools to involve kids in federal and local politics. Mock elections, debates, or a civics class that was not solely devoted to the joys of the political process would help to create a strong foundation for political activism in younger generations. I am 18 and have been closely following the events of the Gomery inquiry and the current campaign. It is the proven corruption of the federal government, and not a feeble-minded society of any age, that is fuelling cynicism and apathy among the Canadian electorate.

Karen Shedden, Wainfleet, Ont.

I am in complete agreement that the voting age should be raised. I currently live with a 19-year-old who has no interest in the election or any understanding of the major issues of the day. He has no sense of political responsibility. Having met many of his friends, I strongly sense he represents the norm. I am discouraged that if he does indeed vote, he will merely cancel the vote of another who has put some consideration into his decision, unless, of course, there is a Sex Party candidate in our riding.

Robin Sweeny, Vancouver

According to the article, “Scientific, sociological and demographic evidence indicates that young people are, in essence, too immature and too detached from functioning society to be entrusted with the vote.” If Canadian youth are, in fact, detached, the questions that need to be asked are how they might become politically engaged, and how they might develop a sensitivity to the world in which they live. Such questions cannot be asked with the spirit of cynicism that this article demonstrates. It all but says that young people are incapable of being responsible, engaged, and politically active members of Canadian society at least until they turn 21. R. Paul Dyck, Victoria

‘Mail bag’ mail

I’m an average guy with a decent post-secondary education. Every week I take time to read Macleans cover to cover because I find it informative and educational. Not only do I

gain a good overview of what’s going on in Canada, and around the world, but an improved vocabulary. (I admit, occasionally, I have to look up a word for clarification.) But I have to wonder, after reading a letter about your Interview with Robert Bruegmann (“Urban vs. surburban,”Mail bag, Jan. 9), if my vocabulary is just too average. The author of the letter begins, “Robert Bruegmann’s apologia to urban sprawl was as bedazzling in its gall as in its intellectual legerdemain.” What? Granted, I was a little tired when I read this, and there was a lot of background noise too. To me, Maclean’s is as Canadian as the CBC, or Hockey Night in Canada, and I will continue to read its pages cover to cover. I have, though, decided that when I come to a sentence like this one, I will have to think twice about whether or not its words are “dictionary worthy.” Keep up the good work.

Brian Dombroski, North Vancouver, B.C.

Canadian voters are, presently, being bombarded by politicians of all stripes promising us a potpourri of tax cuts and more spending. Mercifully, a reader named Carvell Antworth (“Tax cuts and good sense,” Mail bag, Jan. 9) reminded us to do the math. Our accumulated net deficit presently stands at some $500 billion; the associated annual interest costs come to some $35 billion. The one-point reduction in the GST rate mentioned by Antworth would put us $4 billion closer to a deficit (two points, $8 billion); an increase in interest rates would put us another $5 billion closer to a deficit. As it stands, the voters should be hoping against hope that, whoever forms our next government, they will renege on most, if not all, of their pre-election promises.

D.T. Bath, Peterborough, Ont.

The maple leaf forever

The flag of Canada with a red maple leaf is known and held in respect throughout the world. For Maclean’s to portray the maple leaf falling, and in the colour grey, while using it as an apostrophe on its logo and as a marker on its editorial pages (Jan. 9), is disrespectful and unacceptable.

Stan Rióme, New Hamburg, Ont.

Boomtown north

Another great article from Paul Wells (“Up in Fort McMoney,” National, Jan. 9). It was of particular interest to me: my young family just moved from Victoria to Fort McMurray.

T am in complete agreement that the voting age should be raised. I live with a 19-year-old who has no sense of political responsibility. Having met his friends, I sense he represents the norm.'

Canada’s fastest growing city has received a lot of mixed press lately. However, what we have found is a vibrant and surprisingly cosmopolitan and diverse community. It’s a city with a strong and caring corporate community, a city with wonderful and welcoming people who care about their families and their work (although I must admit it’s a bit surreal living in a place with zero unemployment). Conservative MP Brian Jean is right: there is no more important spot for the future of Canada’s economy. My observation

of what is driving people here: the fact that they are making a difference for themselves, and the whole country. This is why people here (legitimately) feel that they are giving more than they are getting from government. Improved infrastructure and twinning the road to Edmonton are not just important for people here in northern Alberta; they’re important for all of Canada.

Derek Rolstone, Fort McMurray, Alta.

Mutant genes

You write about the gene mutation for pale skin being announced (“Shades of pale,” Discovery, 7 Days, Jan. 9). As a biology professor at Champlain College, I feel compelled to point out a mistake that appeared in the story that I often have to correct in my students’ work. Genes do not carry amino acids. The sequence of nucleotides (that make up DNA) in genes codes for the sequence of amino acids in proteins that are assembled outside the nucleus according to genetic instruction. I’m always

telling students to make sure their information sources are credible and reliable. Let’s hope they missed this article.

Anne Ross, Le?moxville, Que.

Spilled milk

I am a dairy farmer who lives in Elmvale, Ont., and knows Chris Birch, the farmer who has decided to sell milk directly into the U.S. market (“The milk of human avarice,” Businessman 16). I think it would be fair to the Dairy Farmers of Ontario if you would inves-

tigate Birch’s claims of legal battles further. I know producers who began with the Georgian Bay Milk Co., and who sold their quotas—for between $15,000 and $18,000 per cow—and started shipping milk to Birch. They quickly found out how unstable the market was. You could ask Birch to show you the books to see for yourself, or even ask one of the shippers who has quit, about the unstable pricing. Slowly they have been quitting because there is not enough return for the product. If shipping milk to the United States is so profitable, then why has Birch not expanded his operation to milk more cows? And why is he growing vegetables to sell instead of growing feed for his herd? In Britain, the government deregulated the dairy industry years ago. The price to the producers has dropped, yet consumers are paying more for the product. You could look into that. Take a trip to the northern U.S. and compare the prices of the dairy and egg products in the supermarkets to that of our own and then see

what is paid to their producers. You will see what I mean about a fair return to the farmer. Is your industry not also protected from foreign competition?

Doug Ritchie, Elmvale, Ont.

Toronto trade lawyer Jim Mcllroy’s comment that Canadian dairy farmers are all millionaires was particulraly outrageous. Quota is a capital investment purchase, made on a constantly fluctuating market (such as real estate). A 50-cow milking herd would incur a $1.35 million debt (using the article’s example) to make the quota purchase, plus interest over the term of the loan. Add to that other capital expenditures such as land, buildings, equipment and daily operating costs and the debt quickly rises. Should supply management disappear without an exit strategy, Canada’s dairy farmers would be like someone whose house was stolen but they were left with the mortage. So much for being millionaires.

M.E. Trueman, Point de Bute, N.B.

Canadian supply-managed poultry and dairy farmers are absolutely better off than their U.S. counterparts, while Canadian grain and oilseed farmers are absolutely worse off than their U.S. counterparts. This dichotomy is entirely because the Canadian government continues to support supplymanaged farmers, while effectively ignoring the plight of grain and oilseed farmers. This has pitted farmer against farmer, and it can, and will, only get worse. Things are not well out here on the rural routes. Stephen Thompson, Clinton, Ont.

'It's sad that men in their 20s love video games so much they are willing to lose their families over their addiction. However, it doesn't seem like women are taking charge to stop their partners' behaviour.'

Tough on crime

Linda Frum has done an excellent job in her Interview with William Bratton, chief of the LAPD (Jan. 16). Congratulations to Bratton for having the courage to lay the blame for Toronto’s appalling surge in violence at the feet of the Jamaican gangs and linking it to their attempt to control the Toronto drug trade. Anyone who is familiar with the fact that Kingston jamaica averages 1,500 murders annually should not be surprised at Bratton’s views, considering Toronto has one of the largest population of Jamaicans outside

that country. We Canadians should be asking our politicians at all levels why it took an American police chief to come to such a conclusion. All three levels of government in

Ontario have continually tried to blame the violence in Toronto on a combination of lax gun regulations, cross-border smuggling, a weak justice system and society’s failure to coddle the perpetrators when they were young. Larry Comeau, Ottawa

Political correctness is nothing but a plague when it renders important police work, among other things, ineffective. Should it matter if certain groups are offended when the racial identity of criminals is released to the public? Let’s face it, race has been, and always will be, a factor in criminality, and pretending such a factor doesn’t exist so as to avoid being labelled a racist is a hard slap in the face to all victims of crime.

Mark Naser, Ottawa

While Bratton’s “Broken Windows” theory of law enforcement has worked in two large U.S. cities, I wouldn’t bet on anyone here having the political parts to implement his suggestions. I recall reading a news story several years ago about Toronto police and political elite going to N.Y.C. to study its police department’s ideas, efforts and results. Upon returning, the Toronto police said that its force could do the same here but it didn’t hire the required officers or do anything that would otherwise upset anyone. Apparently that didn’t work.

John Sheridan, Huntsville Ont.

Frum’s interview with Bratton was sickeningly obsequious, sycophantic and unctuous. Oh, Mr. Police Chief, you are American, you are so wonderful, so much better than us, please show us the way. On the other hand, Bratton’s responses were intelligent and measured, which saved the article.

Norm Rosolen, Ottawa

Pull the plug on video games

I greatly enjoyed your article about obsessive video-gamers (“Video-game widows,” Flome, Jan. 16). Being a hard-core gamer myself, I often see friends destroy relationships over video games. However, I was disappointed with some incorrect facts in your article. While Everquest is indeed a multi-player online roleplaying game, Halo 2 is a first-person action game that does, in fact, have an end, and does not encourage marathon 12-hour sessions at any time (it’s more geared toward three or four hours). Diablo, while a role-playing game, is not an MMORPG. I was also disappointed with the conclusion. While Blizzard Inc., which launched World of Warcraft last November, is partially at fault for encouraging marathon sessions, the blame has to be placed mainly on the people who allow themselves to become addicted to this sort of game (although the widows’ desire to blame someone other than the men they love is understandable). The women who love these men need to see them break the addiction before they marry them. After all, is it wise to marry a smoker if he promised he’d quit after the nuptials? Will Ross, Kitimat, B.C.

I think it’s sad that men in their 20s love video games so much they are willing to lose their families over their addiction. I believe this addiction is a symptom of the problems they are encountering in their own personal lives. They need help. However, from reading your article, it doesn’t seem like the women who love them are taking charge to stop their partners’ self-destructive behaviour. The photograph you use shows this self-defeating attitude. The woman in the picture is sitting behind her husband just passively watching him play video games. When, I ask, will she actually get up off the couch and say something to help him stop? Perhaps these women are too scared to approach their partners directly and instead feel safer divulging their feelings to strangers on the Internet. I guess face-to-face confrontation is just too difficult. Nevertheless, girlfriends and wives must push through that initial fear and communicate with their partners. Diana Lombardi, Hamilton