April 17 2006


April 17 2006


‘Unrest in France isn’t just about a job law. People want to be rewarded on merit.’


The sure signs of spring and Easter: the annual return of the robins and the annual Maclean’s cover story questioning the Biblical version of Jesus (“Did He really die on the cross?” Cover, April 3)Let the discussions begin. The democracy that we hold precious, including freedom of the press, originated out of Christian principles. How grateful we are to choose what we each hold to be the truth without fear of reprisal.

Fran Oussoren, Orangeville, Ont.

Alternative-Jesus historian Michael Baigent’s theory that Jesus really didn’t die—but swooned—on the cross is an old chestnut that was put to rest more than 150 years ago by the most notable critic of the New Testament, David Strauss. Baigent’s argument that the Greek words used in the gospel of Mark (“soma” and “ptoma”) indicate a cryptic secret is patently false. Soma, contrary to Baigent’s claim, is a generic noun that can mean, among other things, both a living and a dead body, depending on the context. This word is used elsewhere in the New Testament to denote a dead body or corpse (e.g. Matthew 14:12, where it speaks of the burial of the soma of John the Baptist by his disciples). Ptoma is the specific word for “corpse” and is used interchangeably with soma, as the Gospel of Mark shows. What Baigent failed to tell his readers is that when these words are employed in the Gospel of Mark, it is after Jesus has died. It is for this very reason that virtually all New Testament scholars reject Baigent’s theory. The death of Jesus is an established fact of history.

Tony Costa, Toronto

You ask, “Did He really die on the cross?” As any Christian can tell you, He is alive and well and, as always, answers prayer.

James Maries, Winnipeg

Michael Baigent is quoted as saying that the “no-Christ position is impossible to maintain, if only because of Tacitus—a highly placed Roman historian with good access to contemporary documents—saying that Pontius Pilate crucified him.” He neglects to admit that the brief reference in Tacitus’s Annals, (book 15, chapter 44) was written in or about 115 CE, long after the purported event described. Nor does he produce the slightest evidence

that the historian was doing anything more than repeating street gossip. There is no trace whatsoever of record-keeping of the execution of criminals in far-off parts of the empire by the Romans. It’s time to embrace the full Christ mythos in all its saving grace.

Tom Harpur, Toronto

I read with interest about the new book by Michael Baigent on the escape of Christ from the clutches of death by crucifixion. Baigent is suing Dan Brown, author of The Da Vinci Code, for plagiarism of ideas. What Baigent may not realize is that, in 1899, Hazrat Mirza

Ghulam Ahmad of India wrote a thesis entitled “Jesus in India,” which gave a rational explanation of the Gospel accounts, including Jesus’s escape from the ordeal and the part Pilate and some disciples of Jesus played in nursing him back to recovery. The travels of Jesus beyond Judea—after the Crucifixionare also outlined.

Tahir Ijaz, San Diego, Calif.


Your comments on our campaign to make the public post office more transparent and accountable (“What CUPW doesn’t know about Gandhi,” From the editors, April 3) scream “toxic relationship,” even though this has not been the case for almost a decade. CUPW has worked hard to be part of the solution to post office problems. Our post office has an international reputation for quality service at affordable rates, no small feat in

a country this size. What we are asking for— that Canada Post let the public have more information and input about post office and plant closures—is what many members of Parliament and hundreds of municipalities called for after the corporation started closing post offices and announced the shutdown of its Quebec City postal plant last summer. Canada Post’s profitability calls into question the need for such major cuts. Our members are public sector workers who care about the service they provide and would like to open up the decision-making so that the interests of all are served.

Deborah Bourque, National President, Canadian Union of Postal Workers,

I have been a letter carrier for over 12 years and I am actually delivering more mail now than when I first started. Canada Post’s own numbers, which they provide to the union every year, clearly show mail volumes have been increasing in recent years along with points of call (addresses). Your article failed to mention that the corporation has made almost $1 billion in the last 10 years, despite covering major financial losses from other companies it owns. Now new CEO and president Moya Greene finds this profit margin unacceptable. What Greene forgets is that Canada Post is a Crown corporation with a mandate to provide the best affordable service for all Canadians, no matter where they live. Canada Post is obliged to run its business as an open book; not to do so would be to hide its agenda from its shareholders and the people of Canada, including all 54,000 postal workers.

Rick Hanse?i, CUPW Local 812 Prince George, B.C.


Andrew Potter’s column about the protests in France (“It’s not about the economy,” April 3) once again confirms that Canadians are brilliant at analyzing problems clearly. I live in Europe, where CNN commentators suggest the unrest is simply about a job law and job security. Potter understands that it is a deeper issue of cultural or societal values. And yes, students in France do understand that their country’s job laws are rigid and out of touch with the real world—the round table at the World Economic Forum

‘Oil tankers have reduced the chance of a spill by installing double hulls, while most B.C. ferries have single hulls. We need new boats now.’

in Davos, Switzerland, continually paid homage to the North American economic model— but people do indeed want to be rewarded on merit and they will flock to a system that allows them that.

Raymond Rickard, Basel, Switzerland


Almost 17 years to the day before the B.C. ferry Queen of the North’s final voyage, the Exxon Valdez left its own legacy of devastation on a pristine environment (“To the rescue,” Good News, April 3). Since then, oil tankers have greatly reduced the chance of a spill with double hulls and redundant safety measures, all intended to protect their precious cargo. Most, if not all, B.C. ferries have a single hull. The obvious question would seem, why do we protect our oil supply better than we do people? We need new boats now. We’ve needed them for a decade. Robert Saint Amour, Courtenay, B.C.


In “Drunken Sailors” (Bad News, April 3) you state that every provincial government showed an “alarming” increase in spending. Back in the 1950s and ’60s, when Ontario was building Hwy. 401, Toronto’s subway, and educational and health infrastructures that have allowed our province to prosper over the past 40 years, your writer would have decried such expenditures as economically unsound. And this would have been a shortsighted view. A dogma that insists all government expenditure is harmful and only private enterprise can truly create jobs is as odious as that of left-wing socialists who cry that all enterprises should be under the control of government. Common sense (and not the Mike Harris/Ernie Eves variety) has proven that a balance is needed for proper economic growth in society.

Eric Dempster, North York, Ont.


“I’m here to fight” (World, April 3) is the wrong answer for our troops in Kandahar. Wrong place, wrong time, wrong history, wrong friends. This fight is a non-winner. Forget democracy and God and whether we can win the trust of the locals in Afghanistan. The war is not about troops messing around in the Afghan or Iraqi sandbox. It is all about who makes money building planes and artillery in Smalltown, U.S.A., and Britain.

Canadian troops are pawns in this business. Let’s go home.

Richard Yates, Oakburn, Man.


I represent the poorest riding in Canada and these payday loan rip-off outfits have sprouted up like mushrooms in my community (“Last Resort Loans,” Business, April 3). They are a scourge on the inner city. Fifteen bank branches have closed in my riding since 1999. No wonder low-income people fall prey to the scoundrels with exorbitant and illegal interest charges. I condemn these outfits and I condemn the federal government for refusing to enforce the usury provisions of the Criminal Code whereby anything over 60 per cent annual interest is illegal.

Pat Martin, MP, Winnipeg Centre


Regarding Cathy Gulli’s story about the man who killed a kid for trodding on his lawn and our obsession with green grass ( “A lawn to die for,” Society, April 3), I would like to add a special lawn-care fanatics’ advisory: I have always encouraged the weeds on my lawn. Whenever there’s a long drought, my lawn stays a vibrant green while everyone else’s turns brown. Mine becomes the envy of the neighbourhood.

Hubie Bennett, Pointe Claire, Que.