‘The low birth rate is not a bad-news story. It’s a solution to environmental destruction.’
BRAVO, MACLEAN’S, for your cover story on the impending baby shortage in Canada (“Can we feed the need to breed?” Society, May 28). Writer Lianne George touched on several key issues, economic and societal, which need to be addressed before this situation will improve. One area which was overlooked is the situation faced by self-employed women and female business owners who have no access to Employment Insurance [maternity benefits] because they have no option to pay into the program [different rules apply in Quebec]. These women are regularly faced with the unfair dilemma to either have a child, close up shop, have no source of income and hope that their clientele will still be there when they reopen their doors, or remain childless and continue to focus all of their energies on their businesses. It is essential that governments take action to address this situation. Otherwise, Canada’s frightening baby bust will not be reversed. Julie McSorley, Moncton, N.B.
YOUR HAND-WRINGING exposé misses the mark: it’s not a bad-news story. The low birth rate is actually a solution to the much larger issues of overpopulation, environmental destruction and failed immigrant assimilation. The need for all those extra workers you talk about only occurs if we have all those extra babies. With no new family formations, there certainly won’t be any need for legions of home builders, plumbers, sewer installers and concrete layers, so just calm down. Not having babies is a good thing.
Frank Hilliard, Grand Forks, B.C.
MY WIFE AND I tried to conceive a child for almost two years, and were ultimately led to fertility doctors resulting in four failed intrauterine inseminations. Each cost $300, plus $300 to more than $1,000 for fertility drugs. None of it was covered by OHIP. After I had surgery to boost my sperm count, the doctors recommended we try a fifth procedure, but once again we were unsuccessful. Now the only available option for my wife and me is in vitro fertilization, which costs $7,000 and another few thousand dollars for drugs. When it comes to Canada’s declining fertility
rate, you could have discussed the government’s failure to provide funding for childless and taxpaying Canadians like us.
Glen Sterling, Toronto
YOU A$K WHAT it will take to convince Canadians to have more children. You say that only 40 per cent of women who leave the workforce return to full-time, professional jobs, as if that was a tragedy. As long as people consider having anything less than a full-time,
professional career as a disgrace, Canadians will not be encouraged to put family life ahead of their jobs.
Freb Hunt-Bull, Hooksett, N.H.
IF I HAD TO do it over again, I would not have children, even though I love my children dearly. On top of the financial and career disadvantages you discussed, you could have added the extra stress children place on a marriage and the fact that women with children have a truly terrible time leaving bad marriages.
Linda Tomasone, Woodbridge, Ont.
AS A MOTHER of two twentysomethings who are building their careers and not even thinking about babies (sigh), for me there are two realities that may affect their decisions. High real estate prices are daunting for those wanting a family and who do not want to enter-
tain the idea of raising a child in a one bedroom condo. Further, after much blather and no action, we really need the political will to put together a national daycare program with educated caregivers. To make it accessible to all, it would probably have to be subsidized. This is solvable. We just need to make Canada a child-friendly country.
Ann Sturrock, North Vancouver
SURELY HUMAN reproduction deserves more dignity than is afforded by your cover lines? It may be semantically correct to use the word “breed” in reference to humans, but in everyday usage we tend to reserve that verb for animals. Your crude and impertinent tone denigrates humanity.
Sally Crouch, Kingston, Ont.
WEDDING BELL BLUES
THE SIZE OF a wedding has nothing to do with the outcome of a marriage (Interview, May 28). Marriages take work. It is a daily give-andtake by both partners. My husband and I married 25 years ago after about one month of planning. His mother was a big help. There have been many bumps along the way, but we are closer now than we ever were. The marriage industry should include some information on what to do after the honeymoon. Maybe people would not be so disillusioned by their first fight that they go screaming for the exit. Rosemary Schleier, Fairview, Alta.
A DRINK AND ASMOKE
I ALWAYS READ your back page first when I get my issue, but I couldn’t understand why Peterborough, Ont., school board superintendent Bob Allison was included (The End, May 14). His sudden death at age 60 shouldn’t have been a surprise, no disrespect to the family. This man lost both his father and his sister to heart attacks, yet the night before he died, your writer Cathy Gulli says he enjoyed scotch and cigars, which were part of his “relaxation regime.” Hello?
Jean Daye, Brockville, Ont.
LEAFY WEIGHT LOSS
AS A UNIVERSITY GRADUATE with a B.Sc. both in human nutrition and human kinetics, I had to shake my head at the article about Edith Branco and her plan to eat nothing but salads for a month (“Lettuce, morning, noon and night,” Help, May 14). There are many things wrong with the way she has chosen to fight her weight-loss battle. First of all, the timeline is far too short. Going from a size 16 to a size 12 “in time for summer” is simply not healthy.
Branco didn’t gain 35 lb. in a couple of months. Secondly, I agree with Samara Felesky-Hunt, the dietitian quoted in the article, that Branco’s diet will more than likely be lacking in carbohydrates and possibly in protein as well. But what really irked me was the final statement by Branco, that when it was all over, she planned to reward herself with a big steak dinner. Although this “challenge” may get her 15 minutes of fame and some temporary weight loss, after that steak dinner reward, she may find herself right back where she started.
Jill Seymour, Fredericton
THE BLACK MOOD
I AM A PASTOR of a small church and have no intellectual pretensions, but, to me, the Conrad Black witch hunt seems so unfair (“Sounds boring but boy, is it lucrative,” Justice, June 4). A century in jail? Black may be aloof and extravagant. But is he a criminal because he exercised a legal sales commission for a lifetime of work? I don’t think so, even if he did make a mistake in choosing the wrong business partners. I feel a great compassion for this man. He needs to know that the most important things are his wife and his family—the people he can trust—not empires and status and money. That will all fall away and crumble like dust in the wind. Martin Warner, Fort McMurray, Alta.
DO YOU HONESTLY believe that Conrad Black’s book about a dead, disgraced American president will generate so much interest that it merits eight pages of coverage (“Death before dishonour,” World, May 21)? Or that the average Canadian cares so much about the fate of that book’s author that his trial merits saturation coverage? Speaking for myself, I say, “Good God, no.”
Susan Redding, Ottawa
Pierre-Gilles de Gennes, 74, scientist. He won the 1991 Nobel Prize for physics for his breakthroughs on liquid crystals, which have become ubiquitous in electronic devices such as flat-screen TVs. In the 1960s and early 1970s, de Gennes was the first researcher to describe how crystals could transform from their orderly patterns into the chaotic state of liquid.
Ben Weisman, 85, songwriter. He composed 60 songs for Elvis Presley, who called him “the mad professor,” perhaps in reference to Weisman’s training as a classical pianist. Among his scores of compositions were Baby Take Me Back, Follow that Dream and Too Big for Her Bikini.
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