Letters - Macleans.ca


You weigh in on Lyme disease, Putin & ‘the no-baby boom’


Good point

Jason Kirby compares the debt loads of several American states with those of Canadian provinces (“California debt dreams,” Economy March 31). This comparison, based on a Fraser Institute study, is simplistic and misleading. There are significant jurisdictional differences between American states and Canadian provinces, making valid comparisons between them difficult. Furthermore, Californians, just like Ontarians, are saddled not only with their state debt, but also with their share of their country’s federal debt. The U.S. federal debt is $17 trillion, while the Canadian federal debt is $600 billion. Americans’ share of their federal debt works out to about $54,000, compared to $17,000 for Canadians. If you combine state and federal per capita debt, it works out to about $58,000 for California. Combining provincial and federal per capita debt yields about $37,000 for Ontario.

Tony Manera, Ottawa

Technical failures

While it is true that most of the onus and authority to manage commercial airliners in operation rest with the flight crew, one must admit that, until the disappearance of MH370, this system has functioned very well (“Without a trace,” International, March 31); even the last location of Air France Flight 447 over the mid-Atlantic was relatively easy to find, despite the lack of sufficient positional information directly from the crew. It is virtually inconceivable that the loss of contact with MH370 was due to anything but the determined activities of a person knowledgeable of Boeing 777 systems; modern airliners are built with multiple redundancies in not only short-range communications, but also in long-range communications, radar identification systems (transponders) and their attendant power supplies. A fire or failure causing concurrent loss of all of them in rapid succession would result in either a crash (of which there would be nearby evidence) or an emergency landing at a nearby airport. Under normal circumstances, i.e., dedicated pilots in control of the flight deck, the odds that an airplane could be “lost” and never found are so remote as to border on the impossible—even if communications are cut off. The mystery of this lost airplane is not rooted in a problem that can be solved by adding more radar or satellites (at ridiculous additional cost); the “loss” of this airplane could only have been prevented by more effective security protocols.

Mike Goostrey, Guelph, Ont.

Chris Sorensen describes primary radar as “send[ing] out sound waves and wait[ing] for them to hit something.” As a radar technician and instructor in the RCAF many years ago, I learned that the term radar was derived from “radio detection and ranging.” Flight MH370 has enough confusion and misinformation associated with it. Thus, it didn’t need to have radar, whose radio pulses travel near the speed of light, confused with sonar, the pulses of which limp along at the much slower pace of sound waves. Otherwise, I enjoyed Sorensen’s article. Keep up the good work.

Jim McEwan, Stittsville, Ont.

Ukraine, Quebec and Iraq

Your March 17 editorial states, “Tossing Russia from the G8 makes good sense. As a private club for civilized nations, there’s no reason to allow Putin a sheen of respectability.” Either we are hypocrites or we have short memories. Why did nobody suggest that the U.S. be kicked out of the G8 when they invaded Iraq and caused untold tragedy? As much as I despise Putin and his actions, at least he has the excuse that the vast majority of the people in Crimea are Russians. What was George W. Bush’s excuse, except for a bunch of lies? Our current Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, who is outraged at Putin’s actions, and was not in government in 2003, was heart-broken because the prime minister of the time, Jean Chrétien, refused to take part in the Iraq adventure and, therefore, probably saved the lives of countless Canadian soldiers.

Sermin Heyck, Yellowknife

I am totally baffled by the editorials in Maclean’s (March 17, March 24, April 14) and by the actions of Prime Minister Stephen Harper concerning recent developments in Ukraine. Ukraine is a country where 24 per cent of the people speak Russian. There was a democratically elected president in Ukraine, but a mob forced him to flee, even though he had promised elections by the end of the year. Within hours of taking control, the mob declared that Russian is no longer an official language of Ukraine. Imagine what would happen in Canada if a mob took control of our government and declared that French is no longer an official language in Canada. There would be a civil war. Harper decided to recognize the leader of this mob as the leader of the country, even though he was not democratically elected. Then a referendum was held in Crimea, and it is clearly evident that most of the people wanted to join Russia. Would Harper not recognize a vote in Quebec if most of the people wanted to leave Canada? Harper missed an opportunity to stand up for democracy and to be a peacemaker in Ukraine.

Bob Zettel, Walkerton, Ont.

Putin’s next move

Letter-writer Mohamed Amery says NATO’s promise not to expand after the Cold War, claiming its subsequent expansion (and broken promise) is contrary to long-term peace and security (“World war, why?” Letters, March 31). As someone in a relationship with a Latvian national, I can tell you that the Latvians are ecstatic to have completed their inclusion into the EU before the Russians were ready to act on their hostilities, despite the economic hardships that newcomers to the EU experience. They still fear Russian interference in their country, but are secure in the knowledge that their inclusion in NATO will stop the Russians from invading, as they have Crimea. NATO expansion will increase the number of world citizens who live in peace.

William A. Lewis, Saskatoon

I am amazed at the naïveté displayed by letter writer Bob Found in his flawed and totally inappropriate comparison of the Crimea/Ukraine situation to Quebec and Canada. To use his flawed logic in a more analogous comparison. If the U.S.: militarily invaded Quebec under the pretext of protecting the Québécois against some perceived oppression by Canada; occupied all of the Canadian Forces bases in that province; expelled Canadian Forces personnel at gunpoint; seized control of border crossings to Canada; then held a referendum on secession, would “mind-your-own-business” proponents still believe that other democratic nations shouldn’t intervene?

Myron Washchyshyn, Toronto

No laissez-faire on Lyme disease

Thank you for your great article on Lyme disease (“The epidemic under our skin,” Society, March 31). My daughter suffers from Lyme and has had to seek treatment in the U.S. with Dr. McShane, mentioned in your article, at her own expense because Canadian doctors do not treat Lyme. We have had to travel to the U.S. to have prescriptions filled, even though the product is made in Canada. It’s time our health ministers woke up and started addressing the needs of the thousands of Canadians suffering from this debilitating disease.

J.M. Paradis, Oshawa, Ont.

It is easier, in Canada, to get long-term antibiotic treatment for acne than for Lyme. Over the past 16 years, I have been working my way though our health care system and have seen just about every kind of specialist. I was bed-ridden for more than a year with stroke-like symptoms no one could explain. I was told I was depressed and to take medication. I wasn’t depressed: I couldn’t walk to the shower, could barely make a sentence, and numbness and weakness prevented me from carrying my children. I am now at risk of losing my house, my income and my life because of Lyme. I can’t tell you how grateful I was to see you informing the public of a disease that is real and ruining lives and finances of Canadians. I’d also like to thank the Magnotta family for their work on this issue. The tests in Canada are a joke.

Lori Paradis Jackson, Whitby, Ont.

Many thanks for such a timely, excellent article on this serious disease that is endemic in many areas of southern Manitoba. As a commercial beekeeper, my family and employees work in tick-infested grassy areas all season long. This syphilis-like disease has already struck several beekeeper friends. Only through American lab testing and treatment were some able to get better; others were forced to retire due to the consequences of the infection. Many thanks to MP Elizabeth May for bringing this up in the House!

Paul Gregory, Fisher Branch, Man.

Answers for missing women

I am pleased that someone took the time to write a beautiful account of Loretta Saunders (The End, March 31). However, it is all too common for Canadians to be focused on “the end” of Aboriginal women’s and girls’ lives in this country. I can’t help think about the ever-growing number of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls in Canada, or future mothers being lost who will never have children of their own. There is an increasing upswell of grassroots movements in this country that include women and men who are demanding from our government that something be done to stop these horrific losses.

Lynn DeCaro, Port Carling, Ont.

Honour the casualties

You remind us that we owe recognition to the 158 troops who died in Afghanistan, with the headline, “We’ve forgotten already?” (Bad News, March 31). But you have forgotten to recognize the 2,179 wounded, referred to as more than 2,000 by Prime Minister Harper during the recent ceremonies in Ottawa for our last returning soldiers. It does not include the many who received unseen wounds, nor does it acknowledge the tens of thousands of Afghans killed. It does, however, get us a little closer to the human cost of the war.

Richard Ring, Grimsby, Ont.

The adoption option

Anne Kingston writes about “The no-baby boom” (Society, March 31), saying: “The upshot is that women are being forced to make a tactical decision in their 30s: resort to solo motherhood, partner with someone simply to procreate, freeze their eggs or rely on IVF. All are ‘choices’ that are not fully choices.” Boo, Maclean’s. What about adoption? Best choice I ever made.

Natasha Boone, Winnipeg

Bus in your votes

As the head of Elections Canada, Marc Mayrand knows the limited time all candidates have to identify their voters (“Rocking the vote,” National, March 24). Partisan election teams coordinate drivers for any and all voters who have problems getting to their polling stations. Mayrand and his followers are identifying Aboriginals and seniors as those most likely to suffer from removing vouching as a form of ID at the polling stations. How dare they assume either group is not capable of getting to their polling stations armed with the required paperwork? Once again, a bureaucrat pulls out scare tactics because someone dared to challenge his kingdom.

R.M. Patterson, Pinawa, Man.

No secret love child

I was amazed to hear, while reading Leah McLaren’s article, that Stephen Harper now has three children (“Upper-crust education,” International, March 31). A sibling for Ben and Rachel? I always find Leah’s columns very informed. What happened this time?

Isabel Ward, Toronto

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