Letters

Kudos to curlers, and ‘you are overdoing the gay thing!’: you respond to our last issue


 

MAC10_LETTERS55Post-Olympic glow

A big thumbs-up to our Olympic athletes who did us so proud at Sochi, and to Russia for providing a well-run, safe Winter Olympics at incredible venues (“Class act,” Sochi, March 3). A big thumbs-down to our Prime Minister, who could not stop playing politics to attend the opening ceremony, which would have given our country and athletes a boost on the world stage. Surely the Olympic Games is the one occasion when nations can put aside political differences and live up to the Olympic creed, which they all endorse.

Jack Whitehead, Dartmouth, N.S.

There is something noble about the Winter Olympics. That the participating countries’ residents have chosen to overcome the harshness of their winter environment by strapping something on or under them to go play on the snow and ice is testimony to their hardiness and tenacity, and should be celebrated. It is always an honour to share—even vicariously—in the pure, unabashed joy that accompanies a medal or a personal-best performance, particularly when it is accomplished by one of our own; and in the pride of the parents and hometown folks cheering on, whose efforts and support make this not just possible, but worthwhile.

Carl Tafel, Mulmur, Ont.

The cover of the Feb. 24 issue of Maclean’s reads: “Let Norway have biathlon. Russia can keep team figure skating. Canada is crushing it in the most extreme, most thrilling sports.” So the “extreme, most thrilling” sports are those most valued when it comes to being recognized for Olympic accomplishment? There is an underlying belief that we did not win gold in the (lesser?) sports of biathlon and team figure skating, but we are blowing the world away in the (better, more dif?cult, more noteworthy?) “extreme” sports. No. All Olympic sports and the athletes who participate in them deserve our respect and admiration. By the way, a big congrats for the gold medals in both the men’s and women’s “extreme” sport of curling!

Christine Foell, Chilliwack, B.C.

Thank you for recognizing the true stars of Sochi, Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue. They were outstanding and a joy to watch. But the judging and coaching needs to be cleaned up. Why are we not allowed to see which judge gave what marks? Why can we not declare a tie if that is what it was? How can we correct this problem, and who will get it done before the next Games? It is spoiling the sport and making even the most enthusiastic among us very cynical.

M.J. Morris, Rockwood, Ont.

 

So the Russians spent $51 billion on the Olympics. Isn’t that investment a much better one for our species than spending a similar amount on nuclear weaponry? That is the core value of the Games: young athletes in healthy competition striving for the best achievements that are humanly possible. Thanks to all Canadians who work so diligently on this event, which inspires so many people every four years. Let’s carry the flame in our hearts until the next time! Rarely have I felt that our tax dollars have been so well-spent.

Betty Donaldson, Courtenay, B.C.

Leslie’s not-so-special treatment

Your comment on Andrew Leslie’s move at the end of his military career is gratuitous and misleading (“General accounting,” Bad News, March 3). All members of the Canadian Forces and the RCMP with more than 20 years of service are entitled to one last move at the end of their careers, regardless of rank or where they move. The fact that Leslie’s move was within the same city is no different than a retiring sergeant in Ottawa moving from Orleans to Kanata. The same rules apply. As to the cost, most of the $72,000 consists of real estate fees, legal fees and transfer taxes that are based on the price of the house sold and bought. The standard real estate fee is six per cent of the selling price. Leslie sold his house for just over a million dollars (a normal price in Ottawa’s Rockcliffe Park neighbourhood). The real estate fee for that is $60,000, plus transfer taxes, legal fees and actual moving costs. The $72,000 is not exorbitant or out of the ordinary for such a move. Leslie does not deserve this attack, especially considering his lengthy and honourable service to this country.

I.C.D. Moffat, Ottawa

Oh, Kate

In the midst of all this scandal about Kate Middleton and her rising and/or flying hemlines and skirts (“Kate Middleton, exposed!” Fame, Feb. 24), does no one remember the photo of Princess Anne, on an official visit to Africa, in a full-skirted dress, standing in the back of a truck while touring some village or outdoor event? A photographer positioned himself on the “back” side of the truck and not with the crush of photogs on the “face” side, who were merrily snapping away. A gust of wind blew that skirt waaaay up, the PR was not wearing a slip, and her full bum and panties were immortalized in a flash. Kate has skirted such disasters, but has neither matched, nor exceeded them. So take a chill pill, please.

Sharon ?A. Peters, Arlington, Texas

I think there is a bit of jealousy, or perhaps even schadenfreude, happening in Patricia Treble’s article. There will be time enough for the dowdy fashion sense that Treble feels is the correct decorum. When one is as gorgeous as the duchess, I say let the winds blow and the tresses flow. Shame on Treble for trying to hide the lily. Thanks for the accompanying photos; they helped ease the dreariness of Treble’s drivel.

Paul Schendel, Southampton, Ont.

Trying to get to the bottom of things, Patricia Treble gets on top of the story when she informs us that spectators and photographers got “an unexpected peak” at Kate’s toned thighs. Shocking that they got a peek up to the peak.

Joe Varesi, Williams Lake, B.C.

Popular guy

It was great to see the story of Tim Jones on the back page of Maclean’s (The End, Feb. 24), but you forgot to mention that 10,000 people came to his funeral. They filled North Vancouver’s Centennial Theatre and the parking lot beside it. It was quite something!

Pam Juryn, North Vancouver, B.C.

The boy inside the man

Unfortunately, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has a problem that only time will resolve: He does not look like a prime minister (“Conventional wisdom for all parties,” Paul Wells, March 3). Can you picture him at a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Barack Obama regarding international trade? He doesn’t fit. Not only is he lacking in demeanour, but he is not sufficiently articulate to hold an audience captive with a speech. His father spoke extemporaneously to Congress in Washington for 45 minutes about the Quebec situation and received a five-minute standing ovation. It’s too soon for the Liberals to send a boy to do a man’s job. Give him another 10 years.

Bob Thompson, Victoria

Birds and blades

You write about a solar-power plant in the Mojave Desert that is roasting birds to death as they fly over it, and you conclude, “Not every environmental initiative is actually good for the environment” (“Save the planet, kill the birds,” Bad News, March 3). That’s all too true in Ontario, where industrial wind-turbine companies are receiving permits from the Ministry of the Environment that are dangerous to animals and birds, even endangered species. Last summer, the province’s environmental review tribunal overturned one such permit, for a project on Ostrander Point in Prince Edward County; this is Crown land, fragile, home to the endangered Blanding’s turtle and smack across an important migratory bird fly-way. If the field naturalists can’t fight off the project, the destruction of habitat and wildlife will be far-reaching and permanent—all in the name of “green” energy.

Elizabeth Cowan, Picton, Ont.

Take it on faith

Much has been written lately about Trinity Western University’s stand on the LGBT issue and about accrediting future law graduates from the faith-based university (“The law, the Lord and one giant cross to bear,” National, March 3). Although I don’t agree with their LGBT stand, it seems to me disingenuous to suggest that the graduates would be less qualified than other law school graduates. Anyone educated in faith-based education would then be considered less qualified to serve in any capacity in public service. The right to think differently about sexual orientation and the right to disagree is the foundation of democracy. The author dredges up incidents mainly from the U.S., where they have a totally different mentality about faith and justice than in Canada. True democracy allows people to disagree with religious and secular beliefs, but gives all people equal value.

Frank Hiemstra, Stratford, Ont.

Doing good

What a sad world Emma Teitel has grown up in, with no such thing as altruism, only a “self-absorbed social media age” (“Altruism? Thanks, but no thanks,” March 3). I spent the last 74 years in a totally different world. The Rotary and Lions Clubs have each raised and given away millions of dollars a year for new arenas, community halls, etc., all due to the generosity and hard work of community volunteers. In 2013, the Kin Clubs of Canada raised and contributed more than $22 million. The Shriners have created 22 children’s hospitals in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico. And there are thousands of churches, synagogues and mosques that also give millions of dollars in both cash and time for totally altruistic reasons. Emma, you are wrong. Altruism lives on. At this time, our world has more people who are better fed, better educated, more tolerant and more dedicated to improving the future than ever before in human history. And, thanks to the altruistic people in the world, it is going to continue getting better.

Lyle Henderson, Brockville, Ont.

When Emma Teitel wonders, “Whatever happened to kindness for kindness’s sake? It never existed to begin with.” Perhaps she should read the life story of Bonita Frances Dewey (The End, March 3). Not only did Ms. Dewey save a life without needing to be filmed doing it, she asked the local paper to maintain her anonymity when they reported the story. There have always been those who will gladly do good deeds anonymously, although perhaps not in Teitel’s social circle.

Gord Tobias, Mississauga, Ont.

All in the family

I am truly saddened by the public castigation of Silken Laumannn’s family in the Olympic rower’s autobiography and subsequent interview with Maclean’s (“Silken Laumann’s secret,” National, Jan. 27). Within any family, the memories and experiences differ among family members. Under the guise of love, many things happen within families that are usually strongly denied by parents and siblings, who are more part of the inner circle. Children of immigrant families often feel disconnected from their own parents. There is no denying that European families, damaged by war, were not always able to give their children the affection, love and closeness their children needed. In spite of the pain Silken carries with her, she has made a success of her life and has become a role model to many. If Silken’s family truly loves her unconditionally, they would have taken the high road and expressed empathy and sorrow that she should have gone through life with such a heavy burden on her shoulders, and taken the opportunity to, at the same time, re-examine their own behaviour and how it may have affected her. Their public response is another display of bullying and a lack of sensitivity. To deny her experiences and pain is an insult, and shows that their pride is greater than their love.

Margaret Juritsch, Stouffville, Ont.

 

Families are interesting. They are also dynamic and change every day. Fortunate families have a character like Silken Laumann, who challenges the rules, the roles and the communication patterns. Laumann is a brave soul who wishes a better emotional future for her children and grandchildren. She continues to be an Olympian!

Barbara Leroy, Delta, B.C.

R.I.P. Philip Seymour Hoffman

The stunning photo of grief-stricken actress Cate Blanchett and her playwright husband, Andrew Upton, leaving the funeral of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman in Manhattan, epitomizes the raw, inexplicable nature of the tragic premature passing of a rare artistic genius (Newsmakers, Feb. 24). His richly crafted, totally inspired performances left a profound impression on audiences around the world, as well as those who were privileged to have seen him perform on stage. But part of the collective grief is the shock and horror that someone who was so clearly at the top of his game could, so mysteriously, perversely and callously, throw it all away while, above all, forsaking his wife and three young children.

Brian MacKinnon, Winnipeg

Of dignity and death

As a physician, I protest strongly the hijacking of the phrase “dying with dignity” by the physician-assisted suicide movement (“Closing arguments,” Society, March 3). Using this term implies that other forms of dying are indecent, inelegant and lacking in dignity. Asking physicians to “assist” in a patient’s death is the antithesis of our objectives in clinical care, which are to “cure, sometimes; relieve, often; and comfort, always.” As a cancer sufferer, when my time comes, I shall die with dignity with the assistance of compassionate palliative-care medicine.

François Mai, Ottawa

 

So Quebec is on the verge of introducing right-to-die legislation, while the Liberal Party of Canada voted in favour of it at its convention. Rather than actively allowing terminally ill people to commit suicide, Canada needs to take a hard look at the way it forces its elderly to stay alive in nursing homes and hospitals across the country. I regularly see mindless, incontinent and unaware people strapped into wheelchairs or harnessed into beds, medicated to insanely high levels, spoon-fed tiny mouthfuls and coaxed into swallowing, when these individuals, while in good health, would have been appalled if they could have seen their future. It would be more humane to withdraw all medication, except for pain, thus allowing life’s natural process to run its course. It would also alleviate some of the pressure on our health care and institutional care systems. What part of “we cannot live forever” does Canada not understand?

Anne van Arragon Hutten, Kentville, N.S.

Pay attention

The misdiagnosis of ADHD is also prevalent in Canada (“Giving ADHD a rest,” Society, March 3). Our study of 176 documents from prominent Canadian organizations vested in ADHD diagnosis revealed that few organizations had clear diagnostic guidelines, and that various professionals inconsistently provide ADHD diagnoses. Unfortunately, this article was also short on some important facts about ADHD, and could lead readers to draw misinformed conclusions. First, symptoms must have persisted for at least six months. Second, several symptoms must have been present prior to age seven. Third, there must be clear evidence that symptoms interfere with one’s quality of social, academic or occupational functioning. And last, to suggest that hope lies in finding better scientific markers does nothing except provide false hope to parents of these children. ADHD is a comprehensive diagnosis of observed behaviour.

Alan Edmunds, Associate Professor, Faculty of Education, University of Western Ontario, London, Ont.

The article “Giving ADHD a rest” touched on what I suspect is the biggest factor in ADHD diagnosis: lack of sleep. Kids need much more sleep than parents seem to realize. They should probably be getting 12 hours per night until they’re at least seven or eight, and at least 10 hours per night until they’re teenagers. Families lead busy lives, and it’s easy to fall into a trap of disrupted routine and letting kids stay up late.

George Skinner, New Westminster, B.C.

Masculinity, in all its forms, is seen as undesirable in the West: patriarchal, rigid and gender-defining. The only solution is to medicate the masculinity out of boys, to turn them into preteen eunuchs. Sit still. Be quiet. No rough play. Rough play is patriarchal and reinforces gender stereotypes. No competition. Competition leads to hurt feelings and low self-esteem. It’s more important that the world’s most mediocre feel good about themselves than it is to ensure the best and brightest succeed. Medicate the desire to compete out of those who are the most aggressive; embrace mediocrity.

Andre LaRocque, Duncan, B.C.

Not a poaching postcard

Underneath a picture of Prince Harry standing over a non-endangered water buffalo in Africa, your caption says, “The royal family’s anti-poaching campaign was undermined” after the 2004 photo in question surfaced (Newsmakers, March 3). Legal hunters (even those who do not support wildlife-conservation groups) actually do more for the benefit of wildlife than do all the anti-hunting groups put together. In Africa, rich Western hunters pay huge fees to participate in carefully controlled, sustainable hunts. Whatever meat is not then eaten in camp that evening is donated to nearby villages, as it is illegal to export it to the West. People from nearby villages have jobs related to the safari. The fact that the wildlife is now seen as a source of both revenue and legal meat provides a strong disincentive to poaching. Furthermore, the exorbitant fees help fund acquisition of land for wildlife, biological research and anti-poaching patrols. Hunters realize that all of nature kills to eat—if not directly, then indirectly. We alone of all predators feel compassion for our prey, and we take full responsibility for what we eat. Far from being “destroyers of nature,” we are a functioning part of it, as we have been for two million years.

Willi Boepple, Saanich Peninsula, B.C.

The gay thing

Why is it newsworthy to report on the “coming out” of some insecure, self-absorbed, narcissistic person such as Ellen Page trying to grab some additional attention (Newsmakers, March 3)? There is one of those in almost every issue lately. Does Maclean’s imagine that we care how, when and with whom someone has sex? You are overdoing the gay thing!

Teodora Vladinski, Richmond, B.C.

If Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker thinks the unions brought Detroit down (“Dividing volks,” Economy, March 3), he might want to do some reading about how crime, tax default and “white flight” destroyed the city. Look at countries like Germany, where workers and management merge to jointly operate the plants. Unions haven’t killed them. There are sensible alternatives to tiresome anti-union rants. Democracy can only exist in a capitalist society if unions are part of the structure. Without that balance, the end result is anarchy. Those who value democracy should be the strongest supporters of unions and the rights of workers to defend themselves against the overwhelming power of the corporate state.

Robert Lawrence, North Bay, Ont.


 
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