MAIL BAG

December 11 2006

MAIL BAG

December 11 2006

MAIL BAG

‘You missed the best example of women who win Oscars only to end up single. Jane Wyman.’

OH CANADA

AS A LONG-TIME SUBSCRIBER, I believe your story about our declining country (“How to Fix Canada,” Cover, Nov. 27) was a timely and lucid enumeration of the dangers we face if we don’t soon wake up to our shortcomings. I am a senior and I am still working in a productive job in our nation’s capital. I would like to cite two examples in Ottawa that surely do not exist in any other G8 nations. The road from our international airport into the city is a dark two-lane highway with bumperto-bumper traffic. Worse, four blocks away from Parliament Hill, we have a semi-trailer truck route right through the heart of the city. No wonder Canada is slipping.

Joseph A. Belanger, Ottawa

SURELY YOU HAVE provided misleading statistics to fortify your alarmist article. The GDP of a country is certainly not as logical a measure of how well it is doing as is the GDP per person. The latter tells us how the average citizen fares, and if that number is taken into account, Canada does very well indeed. In fact, according to the 2006 World Almanac figures, considering the 14 countries with the world’s largest economies, Canada, at a GDP of $31,500 per person, is second only to the U.S. at $40,100. The UN has declared Canada the country with the finest quality of life in seven of the past 10 years. Frankly, I’ll take our magnificent country over any other, even as our dreadful winter approaches. Bruce Pendergast, Guelph, Ont.

IN THIS REPORT, Maclean's says the bulk of this nation’s wealth is created in the cities. I think “created” is the wrong word. Real wealth can only be created by the harvesting or mining of raw materials. The service industries can only exist after the raw materials are brought into an economy. The rural areas, in fact, create wealth and the urban areas monetarize and recycle it. Futhermore, I think this report promotes urbanization, which is not a sustainable system for a society. Currently, cities are the most fragile, non-self-sufficient human system in existence. Putting rural Canada on the back burner will only make the urban issues worse, unless, of course, our free trade plans involve importing raw materials. Then we would have a true knowledge-based economy with no physical assets or collateral. Garrett Osborn, Regina

INCLUDING THE STORY ON dealing with China (“The China dilemma,” National, Nov. 27) in the “How to fix Canada” issue was ironic and appropriate. Canada needs to take steps to prepare itself for the future. A major objective should be to transform NAFTA into an entity analogous to the EU, where Mexican workers might move north to Canadian factories rather than Canadian corporations outsourcing production to Mexico and other countries. There is little doubt that over the longterm China’s importance in the world’s economy will grow and grow. Nonetheless, Canada should follow an ethical foreign policy and not serve as an accomplice for a largely corrupt elite trampling human rights.

Ethan S. Burger, Adjunct Professor, Georgetown University Law Center, Washington

MONKEYS AND POWER

THE ARTICLE ON global warming is right on the mark. We Canadians might brag about how we are “green” but, sadly, we are causing an increase in carbon dioxide and other pollutants that are going into our atmosphere. The article was especially timely here in B.C., where the powers that be are planning to allow two coal-burning power generation plants to be built. This flies in the face of intelligent planning in a province that has an abundance of potential for hydroelectric generation, and has hardly researched the field of wind generation. It’s about time the folks in political positions started to listen to the people who elected them instead

of listening to business leaders who can do so much to degrade our environment and may even cause illnesses in our population. Oscar Blanchet, Keremeos, B.C.

EITHER YOU ARE MASTERS of the subliminal message or you have achieved uncanny journalistic coincidence. Colin Campbell’s article describing Canada’s dismal lack of vision on environmental matters (“An appetite for destruction,” Environment, Nov. 20) is followed on the same page by your short piece telling us how baboons in Cape Town are demonstrating intelligence, initiative and action that challenge their human counterparts (“The local thugs are a bunch of baboons,” Man vs. nature). To South Africa I say, please send us your baboons. Clearly, they are smarter than our baboons in Ottawa and the provincial capitals, who are too busy squabbling over jurisdiction to get the job done.

Terry Huntington, Victoria

THE OSCAR CURSE

I ENJOYED your story about women who win Best Actress Academy Awards only to end up single (“Oscar and the grouch,” Film, Nov. 20). But you missed the best example of all. After Jane Wyman won for Johnny Belinda, she dumped Ronald Reagan. In fact, he joked at the time that he was considering naming Johnny Belinda as a co-respondent in the divorce proceedings. And then there’s the story Shelley Winters told about her first Oscar. She set it on the breakfast table the next morning in front of her husband, Anthony Franciosa. She said that he took one look at it and she knew immediately the marriage was over. Daryl Moad, Winnipeg

HOME TO LEBANON

FEW THINGS have made me more angry and hostile toward another group of people than the mass exploitation of Canadian goodwill by the Lebanese during the evacuation of Lebanon and since (“Canadians out of convenience,” World, Nov. 20). Their sense of unearned entitlement and crass disregard for the generosity and kindness of Canada knows no bounds. As your story illustrates, these people still don’t get it: “If at some point we feel that the children aren’t in peace and safety, we will leave again for Canada,” states Zeina Mawassi, as she proudly displays an image of the vile Hezbollah leader,

Hassan Nasrallah. No doubt she takes for granted her expedient return will be at my expense, again. Still, a question lingers. Am I more hostile toward Mawassi for her selfish posturing, or the moral cowards in Ottawa who invite her to exploit me?

Sharon Maclise, Edmonton

THE LEBANESE so-called “Paper Canadians” have brought to light how generous our government is to people whose sole interest in Canada is an escape passport. The ultimate insult is their lack of appreciation. It’s time for Ottawa to take a hard look at this situation. Enough is enough.

Renald Champagne, Morin Heights, Que.

NOT FUNNY. RACIST.

I AM WRITING in response to your article about Michael Richards (“Fuses blow on shock comic,” Newsmaker, Dec. 4). When I read your facile dismissal of his remarks to African Americans who heckled him at a Los Angeles comedy club, I was reminded of a line from an American poet, Lorna Dee Cervantes: I know you don’t believe this / You think this is nothing but faddish exaggeration. But they / are not shooting at you. What Richards said was racist. By setting up his hateful vitriol as an either/or, “Is [he] a racist, or just really unfunny?” and then asserting that he is probably just unfunny, you do that Canadian thing. You fail to define racism, you fail to provide a basis for your dismissal, and then you ignore the damage done to those at whom Richards was shooting. As a white woman, I imagine that if Richards had screamed at me with reminders and threats of physical violence and mutilation, I would have experienced his ravings as not only sexist but misogynist. I would say, based on this effort to put myself in the shoes of African Americans, that Richards is both a racist and unfunny. Anne Scholefield, Vancouver

HONOURING THE TROOPS

I WAS DEEPLY MOVED by your tribute to our fallen soldiers in Afghanistan (“Canadian Soldiers,” The End, Nov. 20). I cut the page out and had it laminated. It currently resides on our fridge and will soon move to our mantle over our fireplace. I served for 13 years in our forces, my paternal grandfather fought in the Second World War. I am proud of our contribution to helping people in faraway lands and even prouder of the fact that we have committed to staying until the task is complete. To the soldiers currently serving, I say God bless you all.

William Terry, Fort McMurray, Alta.

MY GRADE 7 STUDENTS are following the Canadian mission in Afghanistan with great

‘Haven’t we come far enough from the Stone Age to know that before they had fire and actually cooked their raw meat, our ancestors only lived until they were 30?’

interest. Each morning we pray for the soldiers and their loved ones and debate whether Canada should be there at all. We follow the unfolding events and ponder solutions. It meant a great deal to us to see a photograph of each one of the fallen in Maclean’s. What a classy and fitting tribute!

Mary Burkholder, Saint Joseph’s School, Vanderhoof, B.C.

MAKE MINE WELL DONE

I WOULD LIKE TO comment on the story about people on the caveman diet (“How would I like my steak? Raw.” Taste, Nov 27). Haven’t we come far enough from the Stone Age to know that before they had fire and actually cooked their raw meat, our ancestors only lived until they were 30?

Heather Tremblay, Lynedoch, Ontario

MOUNTAIN HIGHS AND LOWS

GREAT STORY about Byron Smith and his questionable ascent of Mount Everest (“Death, betrayal and ego at 29,000 feet,” Profile, Nov. 27). I turned back from Camp Three on Everest just this past October after an unsuccessful bid to summit. It was a very humbling, yet exciting, experience. After having the privilege of living with the Sherpa guides for six weeks, as well as meeting Elizabeth Hawley, the American journalist who lives in Kathmandu and records information on climbers, I can only say that we must take Smith at his word. Some of his actions may be questionable, but that does not mean he did not summit. Ego is play-

ing a huge role, for not only Smith, but everyone else involved with his expedition. Feelings were hurt, before and during the expedition he organized, and this is typical of any expedition. More important are the statements made about Smith by his Sherpas. The fact that they said he was there on the summit is good enough for me. When I left the Khumbu Valley, I happily donated a sum of money that would send my Sherpa’s two children to boarding school in Kathmandu for a year. I felt, like so many other Westerners experiencing the efforts of the Sherpa people, that I wanted to try to give more than I had taken. It sounds like Smith felt the same way. Furthermore, Smith has been pronounced guilty until he can prove his innocence. Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around?

Michael Boni, White Rock, B.C.

HAVE YOU LOST YOUR collective editorial minds? Seven pages devoted to an angry, Alberta egomaniac who may or may not have reached the summit of Everest six years ago? Outside of the other members of Byron Smith’s tarnished expedition and a relatively few mountain climbers who happen to read Maclean’s, who actually cares what problems this guy has, or what manifested them in the first place? This story may have deserved a few hundred words as a news brief, but not seven pages about angst, rage, bad manners and civil contracts. Perhaps the editors should consider a trip to Nepal. The fresh air may help them focus. TomPhilp, Colborne, Ont.

ROCK WITH ROOTS

I WAS SURPRISED to see your article about the two Mennonite musicians from Leamington, Ont., who make up the Sunparlour Players (“Indie rock served up with basil jelly,” Music, Nov. 27). Last September, I had the pleasure of seeing them perform here in Brantford. Not only were they one of the best, most exciting live bands I have ever seen, but they were genuine and friendly. My mother even likes the preserves they sell at their shows. Congratulations on finding such a wonderful, distinct band. Hopefully you will continue to spread the word about good Canadian alternative music that people might not have had the opportunity to hear about. Corrigan Hammond, Brantford, Ont.

SMART HOCKEY

THANK YOU so much for your editorial on the benefits of creative, fast-paced hockey (“Hockey’s new face: the kids are alright,” From the editors, Nov. 20). Having just returned from a hockey tournament in Fort Nelson, B.C., where the new rules about clutching, grabbing and hooking were enforced, it was a total delight to play in the faster game. The best news was no injuries due to high sticks. My grandchildren, from Junior A to Atom, both girls and boys, are also enjoying playing under these rules and it is a lot more fun watching their games. Now the only objective is to get that loud dinosaur who advocates going backwards and returning to the glorification of violence off the CBC. Floyd Crowley, Summit Lake, B.C.

IN PASSING

Anita O’Day, 87, singer whose smooth yet energetic voice made her a leading figure in jazz during the 1940s and ’50s. But in addition to signature renderings of Sweet Georgia Brown and Honeysuckle Rose, she led a wild life. A drug user, she was imprisoned in 1953 and later nearly died of a heroin overdose. O’Day chose her stage surname as a pig Latin synonym for money (“dough”).

Philippe Noiret, 76, French actor with the looks of Everyman. He appeared in 100 films over the span of 57 years, including Cinema Paradiso, Zazie dans le métro and a memorable turn in 1994 as the poet Pablo Neruda in II Postino.