MAIL BAG

Mike Dixon,,Douglas L. Martin,,Terry Smith,4 more... March 26 2007

MAIL BAG

Mike Dixon,,Douglas L. Martin,,Terry Smith,4 more... March 26 2007

MAIL BAG

‘Despite the chattering and tittering of most of the Canadian press, Conrad Black is innocent until proven guilty’

BASIC BLACK

MY BOSS once told me that the difference between Canadians and Americans was Americans admire entrepreneurs and wish to emulate their success, while Canadians hate wealthy elites and take pleasure when a business leader stumbles (“Conrad Black: The trial of the century,” Cover, March 12). I think it is shameful how Black has been treated by most of the Canadian media and political apparatchiks. Black lost his citizenship because Jean Chrétien had a personal vendetta against him and enforced an ancient law opposed to foreign titles for Canadian citizens. A peerage was bestowed upon Black by Elizabeth II—Queen of Canada last time I checked. Furthermore, Black should be facing Canadian justice and not the highly vaunted U.S. prosecution/persecution system. It can’t be stated enough that despite the chattering and tittering of most of the Canadian press, Black is innocent until proven guilty. Michael T. Brown, Ottawa

BLACK, through his sordid history of conspicuous consumption and institutional gluttony, epitomizes all that is wrong with corporate Canada. Sadly, your homage to this man diminishes even further the faltering stature of Macleans as a magazine of interest to ordinary Canadians.

E. Lawrence Sopow, Vancouver

ARROGANT, CONCEITED, bombastic, entitled, prone to excess? Conrad Black is undoubtedly all that and more. But fraudulent? Not from anything I’ve read or heard. Pursuing this case is a pitiful and senseless waste of corporate, shareholders’, and taxpayers’ money. Methinks it is an overwrought collective case of schadenfreude by all concerned.

Ed Mullaly, Mississauga, Ont.

FEAR-FREE PARENTING

WE AS PARENTS have done a great job of keeping our children safe, but we haven’t kept them well (“The bubble-wrapped child: How we’re killing kids with caution,” Cover, Feb. 26). Only half of Canadian kids get enough movement for optimal growth and development. Author, social worker and family therapist Michael Ungar’s experience shows us the unintentional harm that can come from good intentions. In our efforts to keep our kids safe, we have limited their free-

dom to explore their worlds, ride their bikes, play road hockey and walk to school. These are not the inevitable losses of a changing time, they are choices that we are makingdriven powerfully by fear. Fear of strangers, fear of injury, and in the case of overscheduling, fear that our child is not keeping up with his peers. Choice means that we understand the consequences of our actions. Ungar helps us understand that over-parenting and trying to reduce the risk of physical harm to zero leads to unintentional side effects such as anxiety in teenage kids, hyperactivity in our younger children, lack of personal respon-

sibility and accountability and often depression and disconnection. There is so much we can do. As parents we can shift the balance in our family from non-stop scheduled activities to no-agenda evenings, where we give our kids time to play, not video games, but outside with a ball. We can get outside for 20 minutes between homework and dinner to shoot some hoops or turn the skipping rope. We can facilitate this play by meeting our neighbours and creating a “play in the park” night where neighbours work together to supervise a local park where all kids are invited. We can walk our kids to school one day a week and ask a friend to walk our kids another day. We can connect with what all of us as Canadians value—our neighbours and our community. Loosening the grip of fear happens slowly as we get to know each other again. Just as our kids learn increased responsibility as they grow, we need to learn to give them

increased freedom and let them develop psychologically, physically and emotionally, so that the next generation won’t be afraid to let their kids experience all that life has to offer. Let’s take off the bubble wrap and let our kids breathe.

Silken Laumann, Victoria

WHEN MY HUSBAND read your absurd interview, regarding killing kids with caution, it validated his belief that our eight-year-old son should be allowed to go to a nearby lake with his friends. Though this lake is only two blocks from our home and the swimming area is supervised by lifeguards, it is directly across from a psychiatric hospital and a high school and is surrounded by forest and bike trails. Do you really want to encourage the kind of adventures that could wait out there for this boy? Many parents believe, as I do, that we should teach our children the rules and common sense that they cannot learn from running all over town with their peers. If the children who killed Rena Virk, for example, had spent a little more time closer to home, perhaps Rena would be alive today.

Cathy Nelson, Thunder Bay, Ont.

BEING A 17-year-old female of overprotective parents, I definitely related to your cover article. Let’s just say that I was, and still am, a bubble-wrapped child. My mother fears airplanes, driving at night, even the city of Toronto, and she passed those fears down to me. I will be handing this article over to my mom to read.

Jennifer Broydell, Innisfil, Ont.

CORN-FED CARS

I’M SORRY, but hydrogen is simply not the answer to our fuel-source prayers (“Reinventing your wheels,” Business, March 5). Hydrogen is largely produced by burning fossil fuels or using nuclear power, so all hydrogen power does is put clean fuel in clean cars that was produced in a dirty, polluting plant. The real solution is ethanol. Unlike hydrogen, ethanol can be run in lightly modified internal combustion engines. Ethanol can be stored in its liquid form, removing the necessities of an entire technology/infrastructure revamp. And, unlike hydrogen, people don’t have to drive around with a pressurized vessel of flammable fuel in their trunks. Furthermore, ethanol is nearly 30 per cent cheaper

than gasoline to manufacture and refine and produces no net greenhouse gases if it is made from non-fossil sources, such as sugar cane or corn. Mike Dixon,

CLOTHES MAKE THE MP? PERHAPS Mitchel Raphael’s jottings on the Ottawa scene tell us more about the feds than we can handle (Capital Diary, March 12). For example, are there really people on the payroll who count flags at a press conference? Or worry about colours? Or which guys have long hair? For goodness sake. Douglas L. Martin, Hamilton

IT IS GOOD to see that clothing worn by MPs is finally being written about in a light-hearted manner. The clothing habits of anybody sitting in Parliament have nothing to do with why they are there. If any member wishes to wear a raincoat or a T-shirt and shorts or pyjamas or, for that matter, nothing at all, it should not concern anyone. Terry Smith, Garibaldi Highlands, B.C.

SEX AND CHILDREN KUDOS TO Barbara Gowdy for her candid and thoughtful comments on the difficult topics of adults, children and sexuality on the occasion of the publication of her new novel, Helpless (Interview, March 5). These are not areas where agreement will be easily achieved or is even necessary. It takes courage, and a democracy such as Canada, for a writer like Gowdy to be able to discuss, and explore in fiction, such huge and important questions. I can’t wait to read this novel from one of our finest writers. Janet Money, Toronto

YOUR INTERVIEW with Barbara Gowdy was stomach-wrenching. Gowdy’s opinions were circular, confusing and hypocritical at best, and horribly offensive at worst. She justifies certain forms of sexual assault and invalidates the feelings of victims. Your magazine is read by youths, and this interview could have a tragically dangerous influence on young survivors of sexual assault. I want to tell all children that if they, or someone they know, has been touched in a way that they are uncomfortable with, they should talk to a friend, a sexual assault crisis centre or a school counsellor. Kathleen Hughes, psychology graduate student, Carleton University, Ottawa

NO MORE PARIS, PLEASE MY NEARLY 80-year-old eyes are finding it ever more difficult to comfortably read your small type. I know this is a matter of economics and have a couple of suggestions for freeing up your editorial space without too much hardship. First you could eliminate all references to Paris Hilton and her ilk. Then you could persuade Mark Steyn to cut all his sentences in half. Elizabeth Vannan, Kamloops, B.C.

ARMCHAIR WARRIORS THANK YOU for your coverage of the Rick Mercer-Noreen Golfman saga (“Fighting words,” National, March 19). To the editor of the St. John’s Independent, I say another thank you for not editing Mercer’s words. We needed to read them. Professor Golfman must have been aware that her diatribe would be read. And while I do not condone threats, I think the only ignorance is hers. As a military wife, I support our troops. They were asked to do a job and they are doing it honourably. Armchair warriors may cringe, but our troops are heroes. Debby Kellner, Newport, N.S.