MAIL BAG

‘Once a witness testifies, he may be cross-examined about all matters in an indictment’

October 1 2007
MAIL BAG

‘Once a witness testifies, he may be cross-examined about all matters in an indictment’

October 1 2007

‘Once a witness testifies, he may be cross-examined about all matters in an indictment’

MAIL BAG

MULRONEY IN HINDSIGHT

WE CANADIANS LOVE to hate our politicians, yet we keep voting them in again and again so we can hate them more. Brian Mulroney was no exception; he was well-loved and well-hated (“Finally, the real Brian Mulroney,” Cover, Sept. 24). Yet, in the reflection of history, he may well emerge as one of our more effective and courageous political leaders. He had the courage to seek rapport with the U.S. and its presidents, both Ronald Reagan and George Bush the elder. He brought in the reviled GST and faced the abuse for doing so, when eventually this action would prove to be a wise and necessary decision that was embraced by the Liberals when they came into power. So was NAFTA. Doing what is right takes courage, never more so than in politics. Mulroney was not perfect. Perfection in politics, as in life, is an illusion. But when the scale of justice is applied through the lens of time, Mulroney’s positives will far outweigh his negatives. In the areas that count, he stands tall.

Sigmund Roseth, Mississauga, Ont.

I WAS VERY pleased that Peter C. Newman objectively described Brian Mulroney’s Memoirs as “riveting” and “a story well worth telling and reading.” But my cup ran over when I found myself described as “one of the best editors in the business.” Useful people, editors. I am very proud to be one them. Douglas M. Gibson, Publisher, Douglas Gibson Books, McClelland & Stewart,

Toronto

ONE THING can be said of Pierre Trudeau that definitely cannot be said of Brian Mulroney. Trudeau had class.

Gerry Edwards, Lady Lake, Fla.

SELF-INTERESTED LAWYERS

GIVEN THAT the media are among the first to pass along all of the negative public perceptions of ambitious, self-interested lawyers, I find it ironic for you to assess the quality of students by the numbers hired by elite law firms (“Canada’s best professional schools,” Universities, Sept. 24). I teach refugee law and have the annual pleasure of teaching some of the best students in the school. They are smart, dedicated, passionate about social justice and would not go near

a Bay Street firm. Find another yardstick. Peter Showier, Director, The Refugee Forum, Human Rights Research and Education Centre, University of Ottawa, Ottawa

PRAISE FOR A GREAT READ

I AGREE WITH the voters at the National Magazine Awards foundation who made the new Maclean’s Canada’s Magazine of the Year for 2006. Your magazine is a great read these days (“What’s going on here?” From the editors, Sept. 10). Where else can you find the word “sumptuary” not once in an issue, but twice? (Both Barbara Amiel and Andrew Potter have used the word in their columns in the same issue.) Keep up the good work! Jayne Watson, Ottawa

WOW! AM I AMAZED by and proud of the new editorial approach that seems to have taken hold of Maclean’s. Actually criticizing the ruling liberal elites, questioning the integrity of the prevailing anti-American, left-wing establishment rhetoric, alienating Quebecers by supporting the war, suggesting that the much-reviled Conrad Black just may be innocent of trumped-up charges, being willing to face a barrage of hate mail from lawyers, so-called medical experts and the great Chief Public Health Officer himself. For Canadians, this is revolution. No more do my Maclean’s magazines go from my mailbox almost directly to the recycle bin. It is a renewed joy for me, and I look forward to actually reading them.

Sharo?i Maclise, Edmonton

AS A LONG-TIME subscriber, I applaud your recent recognition for publishing and editorial excellence. At the same time, I’m disappointed with the self-satisfaction you take in your coverage of the Conrad Black trial. Mark Steyn’s sycophantic rants were embarrassing to authentic journalism. Do your readers a favour: stick to authentic reportage in the future.

Peter Jennings, Toro?ito

MORE MONEY? NOT US.

ONE PARTICULAR factual inaccuracy in the Mark Steyn article warrants a response (“The human drama the jury didn’t see,” Justice, July 30). The suggestion that Eddie Genson and I sent Lord Black “a demand for an additional million bucks each” a “day or two before closing arguments” to the jury in Chicago is complete fiction.

The duty of confidentiality that a lawyer owes to any client prevents the lawyer from affirmatively disclosing details of fee arrangements. However, I can state categorically that no supplementary deposit was requested or paid a day or two before the Chicago jury address. More fundamentally, any implication that either Eddie Genson or I were demanding money on the eve of the jury address or were exerting some leverage over the client is not only inaccurate, it displays a lack of appreciation of the legal ethics involved.

A lawyer who commences a trial is ethically obliged to complete that trial, whether or not he or she has exhausted any retainer deposits. Not only was no such leverage exercised in this case, a lawyer has no leverage to exercise if a retainer deposit is exhausted before the trial ends.

Mr. Steyn, as a journalist, is of course entitled to his opinion as to whether it would have helped or hurt the defence to call Lord Black as a witness. After all, many others with less knowledge of the evidence at trial have ventured their opinions on that subject. However, there are three points of law that are relevant to such a debate, which are not referenced in his article.

First, most accused will decline to testify if they take the position that the prosecution has not made out a case against them. There is a danger in answering a case that has not been made out. Lord Black, of course, was not the only accused who declined to testify.

His three co-accused, each represented by leading American counsel, were also cautioned by judge St. Eve as to their rights and all declined to testify.

Second, the Steyn article seems to proceed on the premise that Lord Black could have testified on his own behalf with respect to the charge of obstruct justice, but would not be subject to cross-examination with respect to the other 12 charges. Such an assumption is legally incorrect.

Once a witness, including a defendant, testifies, he places his credibility in issue and may be cross-examined about all matters in an indictment including counts and events about which he offered no direct testimony. In this particular case, questioning Lord Black about the obstruction count alone unavoidably involves the contents of the 13 boxes which would have raised every issue in this case and would have been relevant to the entire proceedings.

Third, as a matter of U.S. law, the court must be satisfied that every accused understands that he or she has a right to testify on their own behalf and that the accused is voluntarily waiving that right. Judge St. Eve asked those questions of Lord Black and received an affirmative answer that “ultimately the decision” not to testify was his decision, “regardless of any advice he received.”

Edward L. Greenspan, Q.C., Toronto

PEOPLE IN GLASS HOUSES

WHILE I KNOW that Rosalind Miles is an acclaimed writer, I am mystified as to why she would stoop to write a piece of garbage about the Blairs and their “man boobs” and thighs (“His boobs! Her belly! More to come.” Fame, Sept. 10). Until she is ready to put her body up for scrutiny, she should refrain from being too critical of other people’s appearances, especially when taking pic-

tures of them on vacation is nothing more than voyeurism.

William Strong, Kingsville, Ont.

SHAME ON YOU! I do not read Maclean’s to learn about Tony Blair’s or his wife’s bodies. You are a respected newsmagazine, not a supermarket tabloid. Please focus on the real issues of the day.

Betty Cruickshank, Lacombe, Alta.

AS PARENTS, we teach our children not to pass judgment on a person because of their size, height, skin colour or gender. This story does exactly the opposite and the writer seems to be enjoying herself immensely.

Hayley de Bie, Ottawa

WARRIORS WITH JOBS

AT FIRST GLANCE, your story about Chief Louie and his band of Osoyoos had a ring to it (“An Aboriginal ‘glasnost,’ ” National, Sept. 3). After all, we’ve grown accustomed to being a society where accountability is reserved for white Canadians, who are, as you told us last May, in danger of becoming extinct. However, when I gave it a more serious read, I saw that it was a story of the common sense reality of both the early tribes and the early settlers. It was about the original work ethic we all need to survive. It was also a story of hope for the future of all Canadians. Chief Louie and his Osoyoos have been quietly creating their own independence despite all the influences our political system has created for their ongoing dependency. There in B.C., on their own land, these people have rooted themselves in their own reality and nurtured their own vineyards with the sweat of their brows. This is a far cry from those chiefs who nurture the fast-growing casino business, which feeds the national addiction problem, and grows our newest crop of profiteers. Sheila Reid, Stei?ibach, Man.

LET ME ADD my admiration for Chief Louie’s amazing accomplishments. I only hope his example will become the modus operandi in future for all native reserves. I have felt for some time that reserves were headed in the wrong direction, but any time one speaks out, the reply is a litany of past injustices, accusations of racism and a demand for more money. It has been my observation that money given without being earned simply leads to a circle of dependence requiring more and more money. Chief Louie has given respect and dignity to his band members.

Gary Lewis, Owen Sound, Ont.

MURDERING ‘GANGSTAS’

AW... those poor misunderstood gangbangers, not being able to dress the way they want (“What’s beneath that ban on baggy pants?” Opinion, Sept. io). Need I remind your writer Andrew Potter that these are murderers he is talking about? To imply that hippies and gangbangers share the same stickit-to-the-man philosophy is ludicrous. Hippies were not murderers. “Gangstas” are. There is nothing noble about their cause. Why does the media continue to try to inject their culture into mainstream society and assume that anyone who is against it is a racist? I would like to invite Potter to the streets of urban Los Angeles where he can share his thoughts and sip cappuccino with these poor misunderstood killers.

Douglas Carrigan, Marina del Rey, Calif.

LAME, BUT LOOKIN’ GOOD

I AGREE THAT Britney Spears’ performance at the MTV Video Music Awards was terrible (“Survivor MTV,” Bad News, Sept. 24). But to suggest that she is overweight or out of shape is just ridiculous. What have our beauty standards come to when a mother of two must have zero per cent body fat to be considered beautiful?

Kim Shiftman, Toronto

POLICE-ISSUE PROTESTS

ANYONE WHO believes that not being discreet enough is the only thing the Quebec police are guilty of with their undercover tactics at the Montebello, Que., summit is not teaching youth about the proper role of police in our society (“Crossing the line,” National, Sept. 10). Those rock-carrying police officers who infiltrated the peaceful protest tried to start a riot. They jeopardized the safety of everyone in that protest, as well as that of the political leaders. The only thing more alarming is that we now have a national security minister who refuses to take any responsibility for the security measures. Stockwell Day or Prime Minister Stephen

‘Williams seems to govern by what he actually thinks is the right thing to do rather than just coldly calculating what might win him a majority government’

Harper either knew, or should have known, who was behind the police infiltration. Dave Coles, President, Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, Ottawa

A POLITICIAN’S PRINCIPLES

I JUST READ Colin Campbell’s piece on Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams and his handling of the oil companies (“How to win, in a fight with Big Oil,” Business, Sept. 10). When does he want to go federal? We need more leaders who think of their citizens rather than catering to big business. Leaders like him would probably stop the export of raw logs and jobs from our province, neither of which seems to bother our Liberal government here in B.C.

Gavin Love, Lantzville, B.C.

GREAT PIECE ON Danny Williams. He is a principled conservative who seems to govern by what he thinks is the right thing to do. I lived in St. John’s when Williams refused to give in to a health care union strike by saying that the province could not afford demands for higher wages. Eventually, the union backed down.

Dr. Rob Miller, Halifax

PREMIER WILLIAMS is making political hay out of his new venture in the oil business. He has spent $110 million to buy a share of the pie of as yet unknown oil revenues. But being an owner, this means he will also have a share in the cost of exploration, recovery, transportation and refining, which probably will be between US$7 to US$10 per barrel. I have a hunch Big Oil is holding its belly with laughter. Maybe Williams should do some research on how other small countries have become rich in the oil game. Brunei Darussalam is a prime example. That government’s stake in Royal Dutch Shell’s venture consists of royalties, taxes and 50 per cent dividends for a total of 90 per cent of sales revenue less cost. In the year 2000 it took in US$1.38 billion while Shell went home with US$153 million. And it did not have to pay $110 million to play with the big boys.

Michael Wondergem, Perth, Ont.

WHAT’S GROWING IN CUBA

I WAS PLEASED to see the article by Jennifer Cockrall-King on Cuba’s remarkable success

in organic agriculture (“Why don’t we have gardens like this?” Taste, Sept. 3). Necessity is said to be the mother of invention and Cubans have responded to the economic constraints of the ’90s with determination and innovation in many fields. Reeling from the loss of its major trading partner with the collapse of the Soviet bloc, and struggling to cope with the effects of the decades-long U.S. economic blockade, Cuba provides its people with free health care and education, decent housing and adequate nutrition. Cuba is a poor country; but, in my frequent trips there, I have never seen a child sniffing glue, a person living on the street or communities without a doctor.

Evelyn Gervan, Seeleys Bay, Ont.

AS A CUBAN who witnessed for 30 years food shortages and the other economic calamities that Communism has brought upon the island, it was appalling to read your article presenting the Cuban agricultural system as a model of sustainability. The concept of sustainability involves not only guaranteeing resources for the future generations, but meeting the needs of the present. The writer of this article seems to ignore the daily vicissitudes that Cubans face to bring some food to their tables. Cuban green farms are isolated experiments that partly benefit an insignificant minority while most of the population suffers hunger due to a long-lasting crisis in the agricultural system.

Rey niel Cruz-Aguado, Shaw Lab, University of British Columbia, Vancouver

Correction: Due to a data input error in the Maclean’s law schools ranking in the Sept. 24 issue, an incorrect per capita Supreme Court clerkship figure was used for the University of Ottawa’s common law program. Ottawa was originally reported as being in a three-way tie for fourth place in the overall ranking, along with Dalhousie University and Queen’s. However, using the correct Supreme Court clerkship figure breaks the tie, leavitig Ottawa in fourth place, with Queen’s and Dalhousie placing fifth and sixth respectively. For complete and updated results, please visit www.macleans.ca/oncampus and click “Rankings.”

IN PASSING

Colin McRae, 39, rally car driver. With his flashy style, he won 25 contests during his 17-year World Rally Championship career and participated in the Dakar rally, the Le Mans 24-hour, and the Race of Champions. He died in a helicopter crash.

Robert MacMillan, 90, physician. He established the world’s first coronary intensive-care unit at Toronto General Hospital. Its groundbreaking protocol of using heart-monitoring equipment on patients who’d suffered heart attacks dramatically reduced mortality rates and was adopted around the world. He was the father of historian and author Margaret MacMillan.