March 24 2008


March 24 2008


‘Veganism would put an end to the treatment meted out to animals in factory farms’


CHARLES GILLIS’S ARTICLE about the alleged reduction in world food supply (“Why your grocery bill is about to hurt,” March 10) honours the long line of Malthusian predictions in its alarmism. Sorry, but it’s wrong. According to UN data, food availability has improved dramatically over the past four decades. The average person in the developing world has experienced a 40 per cent increase in available calories and the proportion of malnourished people in those areas has dropped from 50 per cent to less than 17 per cent. Even with population growth, the UN expects these trends to continue at least until 2050.

Climate change may have a negative impact, but in total it will be very modest. According to the most pessimistic models and the most pessimistic climate impacts, the total reduction in agricultural output over that period will be 1.4 per cent, compared to a scenario with no climate change. This compares to an annual average growth rate over the past 30 years of 1.7 per cent. At worst, increases in food production in developed countries will exceed those in developing countries, leading to increased exports.

World food production is constantly increasing, even if stocks are lower now than they were five years ago. Food supply is one of the world’s great good-news stories, not a reason for hand-wringing.

Bob Lyman, Ottawa

WHY IS ALL of this fear about the global food supply such a surprise? And do Canadians think it will get better? The misinformation promoted by the likes of Al Gore and David Suzuki are misdirecting precious resources to pursuing eco-political agendas. This has resulted in expensive subsidies, massive agricultural expansion and reallocation and application of carbon penalties. What this means for Canadians is that their wealth, both personally and collectively, will continue to diminish. Businesses will close and move to more enviro-tax-ffiendly regions. Canadians will lose jobs and we will all continue to see price increases in absolutely everything that we consume/purchase. All because we and our governments (local, provincial and federal) have bought into the propaganda of the “science” being clear.

There was a meeting in New York City between March 2-4, 2008, called the Inter-

national Conference on Climate Change. Ninety-eight speakers and 400 participants (university professors of climatology, scientists in other fields and others from around the world) were in attendance. The theme of the conference: there is no scientific consensus on the causes or likely consequences of global warming.

Regrettably, we have chosen the wrong side of the scientific debate. And we will continue to pay for it. That is the politically and scientifically inconvenient truth.

Dr. Victor Kutcher, Burlington, Ont.

THANK YOU for a very timely article explaining issues involved in the world food supply.

Last June I went to a sustainability fair and chatted with a representative of a local vegetarian organization. I was provided with the following information: if everyone became vegan, thus only eating plant-based products including soy and legumes, we could feed 10 billion people worldwide. Vegetarianism or better yet veganism would put an end to the horrific treatment meted out to animals, fowl and fish in factory farms. Vegetarian or vegan diets are beneficial to health, as reported by both the Canadian and American dietetic associations, resulting in weight loss, diminished incidence of high blood pressure, cholesterol, adult onset diabetes, some cancers and osteoporosis, to name only a partial list. This information was enough to convince me. I have been a vegan since and have loved the food. I have lost some weight and feel more

energetic. Most importantly I now feel that I am part of the solution instead of part of the problem.

Mike Jan, Ottawa

WHY DOESN’T ANYONE mention the fact that we are covering our farmland with concrete? I have aerial photos of Toronto in the ’50s, and Highway 401 is far north of the city running through prime farmland. By 1970, photos showed housing and industrial development with nary a farm in sight. In my London, Ont., area not only is the city expanding over prime farmland, but all of the satellite towns, like Ilderton, Arva, Dorchester, Lucan and Thorndale, are developing subdivisions at an alarming rate, all on prime farmland. Many small towns are now starting to complain about the town having difficulty handling the rapid expansion.

This is the same scenario in every urban community in southern Ontario, where we have the longest growing season, and some of the most productive land in the world. The problem of the lack of corn, and other grain crops, is not the lack of production, but the lack of prime space to increase production. When I see the ghastly land that half the Third World is trying to make productive I feel ashamed.

Robert Gooder, Arva, Ont.

BEING BOTH a grain producer and an ethanol proponent, I read with much interest the story about food prices. While your writer correctly points out that grain prices have risen in recent months, it is probably worth looking at prices within a somewhat longer time frame. Over the course of my lifetime of 40 years, corn is up in price about fourfold. By comparison, during the same time frame, the price of your magazine has risen more than tenfold and the oil used to deliver it to my mailbox is up more than twentyfold. Viewed within that larger context, it would appear that either corn is still a pretty good value or the news media and oil producers are overpaid.

Tom Cox, Troy, Ont.


I TAKE EXCEPTION to Mark Steyn’s unfounded allegation that the human rights racket is a disgrace (“I prefer living with space lizards,” Steyn, March io). I am proud to say

I was one of seven commissioners on the Alberta Human Rights Commission from 1995 to 2006 and never felt I was part of a racket, much less a disgraceful one. Nor do I accept the kangaroo court epithet thrown by the erudite generalization-manufacturer, Steyn. First, why does he place “human rights” in quotation marks? The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, forged by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1948 uses the phrase, so it needn’t be treated as something foreign to most people.

Second, in my years with the commission, I chaired 15 panel hearings, most of which featured lawyers for the respondents and/or the commission. All decisions I made were subject to appeal to the Court of Queen’s Bench, so some were overturned

and some were upheld. Naturally, I didn’t always agree with the Queen’s Bench judge if she or he overturned my decision, but it is obviously an integral part of the judicial process. Point being: does this sound like a kangaroo court?

Steyn may have some axes to grind with the Ontario and the Canadian human rights commissions, but I write to let him know that his limited knowledge does not give him the right to generalize about all human rights commissions.

Bill Baergen, Stettler, Alta.

THE ONTARIO HUMAN RIGHTS Commission should give its head a shake. It is a very sad day for this country when a person conducting an offensive and possibly illegal actionsmoking pot in a restaurant doorway—can cause such financial stress on another individual or organization. The fact that the commission would even hear that complaint is a waste of taxpayers’ money. Perhaps the plaintiff should be sued in civil court for inflicting health

damage on those subject to his second-hand smoke. Maybe then some of these costly and frivolous actions initiated by stupid and vindictive people would be eliminated.

David Collinson, Victoria


I READ YOUR ARTICLE on mixed martial arts for children, and I felt it unfairly showed only the worst aspects of the sport (“Nasty, brutish and short,” Society, March 10). If you were to look at the injuries suffered in other sports, such as hockey, football or boxing, mixed martial arts is no different, or even perhaps tamer, by comparison. The Ultimate Fighting Championship is the greatest example of what mixed martial arts stands for. Unlike boxing, in mixed martial arts there is no shame in “tapping

out.” If you are caught in a submission hold, or if you’re too injured to fight, you can forfeit and you can reasonably be expected to be allowed to fight in the future. The fighter’s health is paramount over the big win. Yes, there can be blood in the ring, but that’s to be expected when two people are swinging fists and feet at one another—how many hockey players pick up bruises and broken noses from slugging each other on the ice?

The other big difference is respect. I have often seen fighters bad-mouth one another before a fight, but that is almost always hype. After the fight, the fighters slap each other on the back, complimenting each other on the effort put into the bout, and the camaraderie I’ve seen with some fighters is simply amazing. My wife and I agree, once we have children, to enrol them in mixed martial arts when they’re old enough. It will teach them discipline, dedication and respect for an opponent.

Christopher LaHaise, Ottawa

‘I teach children self-defence, but it does not involve the viciousness depicted in your article’

TO HOW MANY OTHERS did it occur that were 10-year-olds Ross Millette and Matthew Zhao pit bulls, your article would have prompted criminal charges under the Animal Protection Act? To pursue the analogy one step further, one cannot but wonder what consequences might await a son who submitted in a match before his daddy thought he ought to, or perish the thought, a younger brother who wanted rather to become a concert pianist. To those who might argue that the children willingly participate in ultimate fighting, I would point out that countless studies have shown that children, for the most part, want to please their parents. Trainer Vito Brancaccio’s rationalization of “people want to see blood and guts” is nonsensical. What people want has never been a rationale for ethical, moral or humane behaviour.

Ken Browne, Mt. Brydges, Ont.

THIS IS NOT a case of teaching self-defence, but a case of male ego. What you reported on is not the ultimate fighting of the Brazilian Gracie family with whom I trained. Royce wouldn’t condone the tactics of which you wrote. Having a sixth-degree black belt in combat martial arts, I teach children selfdefence that includes ground fighting, but it does not involve the aggressiveness/viciousness depicted in your article. Stroking fathers’ egos is counterproductive and will come back and bite them in the ass.

W. Jon McCormick,

Cariboo Country, Lone Butte, B.C.

ISN’T OUR PRIMARY role as parents to protect our children from harm? Do these parents realize the implications of their actions? Not only could their sons sustain permanent injuries, but how will this affect them psychologically? Even just viewing these horrific fights at such a young age will probably desensitize them to violence. In a world of war and human suffering it’s really sad that we encourage our children to fight instead of resolving issues peacefully.

Christine Granton, London, Ont.

THIS ACTIVITY, along with bullfighting, cockfighting and fox hunting, has no place in a civilized society and should be banned in Canada.

Denis Russell, Salt Spring Island, B.C.


I READ THE EDITORIAL today about Ireland’s official definition of poverty (“The meaning of poor,” From the Editors, March 10). In fact, I read it three times and couldn’t get it out of my mind. I live in one of the world’s wealthiest countries; in the rich-

est province and city. For the last two months I have lived in a modest apartment after moving out of a shelter after seven months. I have worked 50-plus hours every week for the last few years. I am told by the government that I am getting ahead. Since I have a roof and a job, I am not poor. I earn $2,000 a month and pay $800 for rent plus utilities. In Calgary that is an average/low rent.

According to Ireland’s 11 standardized necessities, I am poor. I have one pair of shoes that are broken and a second pair with holes in the soles. I haven’t seen a roast in the last couple of years. Affording presents for anyone is beyond consideration. I can’t remember when I had a night out last. I am not complaining for myself. I have seen government after government throw money for studies on who or what is the definition of being poor. If you can’t identify the problem, you really can’t fix the problem. The next time I have to deal with someone from the current government I will give them a copy of your editorial. As a nation we should adopt our own version of the Irish definition of poverty.

John Hill, Calgary

WHILE THE INFANTILE bullying by the SOcalled human rights commissions offends, its roots are on your very pages. I carry a fresh handkerchief in my pocket, as I have since childhood, and I’ll not be told how to sneeze! Kenn Draymon, Oliver, B.C.


I’VE BEEN SNEEZING this way for several decades, unimpeded by the wrong-headed ideas of those around me about the fine art of germ containment (“Why don’t you do it in your sleeve? ” Help, March 10). Needless to say, I’m not the only one. It seems some of us have been a little ahead of the curve when it comes to cold and flu hygiene.

Chris Carss,

Chemainus, B.C.

I AM SHOCKED by your recent editorial that calls for Canada to adopt trite standards for the measure of poverty based substantially on an argument that using Irish measurements would create a lower rate of poverty than previous methods of calculation. Your once-proud magazine has taken a sharp right turn, seeking to persuade rather than inform. Ken Ellis, Merrit, B.C.