MAIL BAG

‘Trades are lowbrow work. That’s why most companies have to sugar-coat jobs.'

October 30 2006
MAIL BAG

‘Trades are lowbrow work. That’s why most companies have to sugar-coat jobs.'

October 30 2006

‘Trades are lowbrow work. That’s why most companies have to sugar-coat jobs.'

MAIL BAG

DOUBLE-DOUBLE TROUBLE

I WILL READ Ron Joyce’s book Always Fresh because I was married to a Buffalo Sabres player at the time Tim Horton died, and I was out to dinner with Tim and his wife, Lori, just days before the car accident. That was one of the most uncomfortable nights out I can remember. Tim and Lori fought constantly. She was spoiled, and a huge liability to Tim. He deserved so much better. Tim was one of the nicest men I met during those years. Punch Imlach called us too, at 7 a.m., to tell us about Tim’s accident. The Sabres and their wives went to the funeral in a bus. We were ushered into the front of the church down a short flight of stairs to the basement where there were closed circuit TVs set up because of the mass of people there. When I heard of Lori’s death years later, I prayed that she did not find Tim when she crossed over, and let him rest in peace.

Lola Davies, Niagara Falls, Ont.

HAVING KNOWN Tim Hortons’ co-founder Ron Joyce for over 30 years, I find the article about his new book to be a poor attempt to cast him in the most unfavourable light possible (“Bitter brew,” Society, Oct. 16). The bias is summed up in one sentence: “He didn’t need education, or genius, or even much talent to do what he did.” Writer Steve Maich would have us believe that there is no talent involved in starting with nothing, and building a business enterprise that Maich notes is now worth $5.5 billion. If it’s really that easy, then anyone could do it. The fact is, very few could do what Ron did.

Alan Pyle, Toronto

RON JOYCE may have painful memories of his business association with Tim and Lori Horton. Mine are quite the opposite. In the summer of 1963,1 was among a few students working at the Tim Hortons hamburger and fried chicken drive-in in Port Credit, Ont. For the grand opening, it was announced that Tim and his family would be there to greet. The cars were backed up 20 and 30 deep by the time they arrived. It was that way for hours. We were overwhelmed. Tim stepped up to the grill and helped to keep the burgers moving. Lori was in the back learning how to feed potatoes into the rotating peeler. Both of them directed the girls on patio garbage duty. Tim was unruffled, his sense of hu-

mour keeping everyone working as a happy team. What Joyce didn’t acknowledge in this article is that his partner was already an icon, one of the most popular athletes in English Canada. Tim Horton, the man, was the magnetic yeast that made the company grow. Joyce ought to give a lot more credit to the ample shoulders he was standing on.

Bruce Conron, Scarborough, Ont.

COCHRANE, where my wife and Tim Horton grew up, never was a northern Ontario mining town, as you state. If it needs to be characterized, one might refer to it as a railroad town, having been an important stop on the National Transcontinental Railway almost 100 years ago and subsequently becoming a railroad junction with the establishment of the Timiskaming and Northern Ontario Railway.

Frederick M. Helleiner, Brighton, Ont.

TAKE THIS JOB...

I READ with interest the series of articles about jobs (“Canada’s top 100 employers,” Special Report, Oct. 16). At first, I just wanted to see if maybe there was a better place to go and work. Then I noticed a quote—“Wanted: rock stars”—from a recruiting pamphlet put out by my employer, Inco. I almost fell off my chair laughing. I’ve been a heavy equipment mechanic for 11 years, half that time with Inco in an underground environment. In spite of Cathy Gulli’s article about the highpriced talent in trades (“Raise high those pay scales, carpenters”), I think that unless

you work for a company with very forwardthinking management, trades will always be considered lowbrow work. This is why most companies have to sugar-coat the positions they have, just like Inco does. Yes, we know that the trades are making good money right now, myself included. But for the most part, it’s only because of the tight job market, not because we are considered worthy of a big paycheque like doctors or lawyers. Eventually, the trades will fill up again. Then the wages will go south and stay there.

Chris Wismer, Garson, Ont.

IT IS IRONIC to read about employers scrambling to hire university graduates and moaning about the impending labour shortage (“If you’re on time and breathing, you’re hired”). Many of these employers shed older employees in order to avoid pension obligations, vacation entitlements and higher salaries. Then what? They turn around and offer these same things to attract new university graduates? Ontario will soon scrap mandatory retirement, supposedly to alleviate a looming labour shortage but, in fact, many boomers who have been downsized, outsourced, right-sized (or whatever the trendy corporate term is for ruining employees’ lives), will have to work well beyond age 65 anyway because they will not have company pensions. That is, of course, only an option if they can find a job after being kicked to the curb due to age discrimination. Gail and Jeff Meyer, Kitchener, Ont.

I WORK for a small-town solicitor in Nova Scotia. My employer definitely should be listed in the top 100. This past year, I received a $1,000 bonus and an all-expenses-paid trip to Mexico. I wonder how to get him on your next list; it just might get me another trip. Allyson Crawley, Stellarton, N.S.

MORE ON BREAST CANCER

PINK RIBBONS INC. author and Queen’s University professor Samantha King makes several comments that we would like to put in context (Interview, Oct. 9). The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation raises 16.5 per cent of its funds through corporate support from partners who share our belief in the cause, and our vision of a future without breast cancer. This support comes in many forms, revenue from pink-ribbon products

being just one. Besides, these products allow consumers to make purchase choices while doing something about breast cancer, all at little to no cost to the foundation. Corporate partners provide outright corporate donations, employee fundraising and event sponsorship dollars, and create engaged employees committed to achieving our vision. Donations to the foundation, regardless of the source, support the highest-quality breast cancer research and education programs in Canada, and cover the entire breast cancer continuum from prevention to palliative care. Last year, 25 per cent of the foundation’s research dollars were allocated to prevention programs. While we don’t yet know how to prevent breast cancer, we continue to work at finding more effective, less-invasive treatments to help those with breast cancer lead longer, better-quality lives. George Habib, Executive Director, Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, National Office, Toronto

WHILE I DISLIKE the “pink ribbon/rhinestone pin/plush teddy bear” aspect of much of the breast cancer movement, I think Samantha King is throwing the baby out with the bath water. The breast cancer movement over the past 20 years in Canada (and more recently here in Portugal) has affected a profound change in the way women think about their health. Women now know that they have a vital role to play in their own health care especially when it comes to breast cancer, both in early detection and, in the case of a positive diagnosis, in their treatment. Fundraising the world over has changed radically in the past decade, and cause-related marketing may seem cynical to those on the outside, but for savvy charities, ambitious marketing directors and knowledgeable consumers, it is a win-win situation—charities get funding, brands get increased sales and shoppers get the products they want. What’s wrong with that? Every charity should have people like King breathing down its neck and asking tough questions because that is what keeps it real, but King should not overlook the successes of the breast cancer movement. Lynne Archibald, Lisbon, Portugal

DISSINGA DIVA

I READ, with some dismay, your article on Melissa O’Neil’s return to her alma mater, Lester B. Pearson High School, last spring (“You’re no Idol at your old school,” Society, Oct. 9). From the tone of the article, it appears that our school is a mean and heartless place. Nothing could be further from the truth. The reality of celebrity is that once you become one, you continue to be one. The difficulties are only compounded when the celebrity is

‘Students’ behaviour toward Melissa O’Neil was cruel. Shame on teachers who made excuses for them.’

an adolescent. The “Mel” who sang a cappella at the Athletic Banquet in June 2005 had become Melissa O’Neil, Canadian Idol, upon her return in May 2006. The outstanding student, athlete, performer and citizen whom we had known for her Grade 10 and 11 years wasn’t evident when she was working by herself in the back of the music room. The genuine humility that led her, upon her return, to go out of her way to ensure that her fame was not in the faces of her classmates probably caused more problems than it solved. If Melissa had hung out with her old pals when she came back, the novelty of celebrity for her classmates would have worn off in a few days. The reception she received at graduation when she was introduced as Melissa O’Neil, graduate of Lester B. Pearson High School, reflected the genuine warmth and admiration of her classmates and the staff of our school. I will always treasure the picture I have awarding her certificate that day.

Jim Neilsen, Principal, Lester B. Pearson High School, Calgary

I READ about how students treated Melissa O’Neil—how they threw pennies at her and were sarcastic to her. The article went on and on about the reasons why she was treated this way by her classmates and former friends. Her teacher suggested that perhaps it was an immaturity issue, or people needed to get to know her again. If you want to know why O’Neil was treated this way, I’ll give you the exact reason—because these classmates were mean. So what if she’s the Canadian Idol? So what if she may have taken a long time to

return phone calls? So what if she didn’t mingle enough? People always like to explain horrible behaviour—it must be her fault or society’s fault or television’s fault or the fault of gamma rays in the air. Give me a break! And this is not a problem with immaturity. We all learned not to be mean in kindergarten. The students’ behaviour was cruel and inexcusable. Shame on them! And shame on the teachers who tried to make excuses for them. Lizette Tanner, Calgary

THE LOVE OF PEACE

ALTHOUGH I enjoyed the juxtaposition of two pages of photos celebrating the Muslim holiday of Ramadan and the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah, I must express my indignation at the choice of one photo (Week in Pictures, Oct. 9). It was inappropriate to include a picture of Jewish boys playing with toy guns on the Rosh Hashanah page. It is not Jewish boys who grow up in homes where they are encouraged to become suicide bombers in order to become martyrs to Allah. It is not Jews who blow themselves up in crowded streets and markets as a political statement. It is not Jews who fly planes into office buildings full of people. If you felt you needed to include a photo of boys with guns, in all fairness you should have shown one of Arab boys, surrounded by approving parents. But the most appropriate decision would have been for you to choose a beautiful and uplifting photo for the Rosh Hashanah page, more fitting for a Jewish holiday that celebrates a new year and the love of peace. Gilda Spitz, Thornhill, Ont.