When only 61.1 per cent of adults voted federally in 2011, and when skepticism about politicians seems at its highest, how, in any way, is it in our interest to: ban vouching for an estimated 100,000 voters, curtail our chief electoral officer in his power to communicate in order to increase voter participation, and deny access to documents dealing with campaign expenses (“Rocking the vote,” National, March 24)? Our already democracy-deficient country seems destined to get an even lower voter turnout in 2015. It’s one scary example of the perils of letting 39.6 per cent of voters elect a majority government that prevails for four years while imposing its strictly partisan objectives at will.
Richard Ring, Grimsby, Ont.
PKP’s nimble moves
Pierre Karl Péladeau will make an excellent politician (“The PQ’s stunning coup,” National, March 24). He announces one day he has no intention to run for office, then, a couple of weeks later, changes his mind and announces he is running for office. He had all of us outside Quebec fooled for many years, thinking he was Canadian, but he’s not. He’s just another separatist chasing a dying dream. Yes indeed, PKP will make an excellent politician.
Mike St. Louis, Ottawa
So the PQ is beginning the separatist dance again. Enough of this! Stop the music and let the partner leave the dance floor.
Kurt Tischler, Beaver Creek, Sask.
So Pierre Karl Péladeau is now leading the sovereignty charge in Quebec. I expected that an intelligent, successful, big-business type like that would know better. Quebec’s economy would crash and burn if Quebec were to become an independent country, while the imperious multi-millionaire PKP will be fine, still living the high life. Quebecers shouldn’t let themselves be misled by a bunch of people who are financially secure and have little or nothing to lose. Some of these people are still dining at Canada’s public trough and receiving their gold-plated pensions and will no doubt continue to do so: Hello, Lucien Bouchard and Gilles Duceppe.
Gary Booth, Lakefield, Ont.
Stoked for Strombo
As an avid hockey viewer, I am so looking forward to George Stroumboulopoulos’s culturally charged brand of sports journalism (“Strombo night in Canada,” National, March 24). It is time Hockey Night in Canada engaged in an open dialogue with its fans and viewers; the time for being talked at by Don Cherry has ended, along with (one hopes) his politically incorrect discourse. Hockey fans are as multi-dimensional as the players and the game itself. Women make up a huge part of the future market for hockey broadcasting, but so does an audience that expects to interact with media and subjects in dynamic ways. Strombo’s humanist approach to a much-loved sport will give Canada’s hockey culture something else to talk about for once. I am tired of rolling my eyes at Cherry.
Karly VanPuymbroeck, Windsor, Ont.
Profiles in leadership
I enjoyed the profiles of the diplomat (Canadian ambassador to Afghanistan Deborah Lyons), the entrepreneur (Hedvig Alexander) and the activist (Sima Samar) in Sally Armstrong’s “The Silk Road to discovery” (International, March 24). These women take bravery to a higher level, doing what they do in perhaps the most male-centric country on Earth. Western politicians need look no further for inspiration in attempting to stare down Vladimir Putin.
David Moffat, Ottawa
Scoring AA an A+
As someone who has battled addiction, I found it curious to hear Dr. Lance Dodes (Interview, March 24) say, “When people have that first urge, or even the thought of doing something—that is the key moment in addiction.” He’s right. But who is the addict to talk to at that time to help him or her determine the cause or “instances when those urges come upon them”? Am I able to call Dodes at 3:00 a.m. and talk to him? Probably not, but I know I can phone my sponsor and learn how to live without my addiction. Furthermore, nowhere in the book Alcoholics Anonymous does it say not to take doctor-prescribed medicine. In fact, it states that many people are necessary to help in recovery, including doctors, etc. What works for others I cannot say, but if it keeps an addict from drinking or using, go for it. I am an alcoholic who has been sober for eight years, six months and eight days—by the grace of God and AA.
Anonymous, Rossburn, Man.
My father smoked two packs a day. One day he decided to quit and never smoked a cigarette again. He owned a bar and got in the habit of drinking every day. At age 75, he was told by his doctor to quit drinking. He quit that day. He still went to the bar with his friends and entertained at home, but never had a drink again. My father always said you don’t need any 12-step program; you just need the desire and the willpower. It’s all mind over matter. You have to want to change, be willing and have the guts to tough it out.
Maryann Baarts-Matson, Thunder Bay, Ont.
A great weakness of the Western policy-makers is their perception of the world as a dichotomy. Your March 17 editorial argues that Vladimir Putin’s actions in Crimea are shameful, so his adversaries must be good guys, a.k.a. a “nascent pro-Western government” deserving our help. Really? How about a group of people that came to power by overthrowing an elected president, and are now—in desperate economic circumstances—seeking help wherever they can? This group, whose legitimacy to the West has been created, ironically, by Putin himself, includes far-right members who are at least as distasteful as the previous regime. An election is scheduled for May, and the composition of a truly democratic government remains to be seen, taking into account the genuinely pro-Russian sympathies of half the country. Calling for Ukraine’s “fast-tracked” entry into NATO benefits neither NATO nor Ukraine, but merely spooks Putin. Dear Western governments: Don’t rush; you will regret it.
Alexander Kheifets, Coquitlam, B.C.
The war of the Wells
Paul Wells’s column “A too-soft touch” (International, March 17), about current events in Ukraine, shows again that he is a superb political analyst and journalist. In a few sober sentences, he destroys popular and convenient myths and oversimplifications that so many commentators have used recently. I consider his article one of the best on the subject.
Peter Petrik, Canmore, Alta.
Paul Wells’s column was a waste of space and, as usual, a waste of time. Anybody who advocates war—“It’s time to send Canadians back into the battle [for democracy] full-time”—should be sent to the scene of the conflict and told to stay there at his own expense for the duration of the fight. He is typical of the politicians and generals who send their young recruits into battle, but stay well hidden behind the scenes. If Maclean’s decides to send him into Ukraine for as long as the conflict lasts, I’ll be willing to contribute $500 toward his stay.
Frank Martens, Summerland, B.C.
Conservative laugh riot
There is nothing more fascinating that reading about a group of conservatives at a get-together (“The right state of mind,” National, March 17). It was an LOL moment when Jason Kenney talked about the left being opposed to harvesting our natural resources “in an environmentally responsible way.” Is he serious? The Conservative party and big business have a record of putting profit first. Also fascinating is their penchant for getting together to bash average Canadians who work in unionized jobs. Treasury Board President Tony Clement pontificated about the public sector union movement “protecting its own perks and interests.” I find this entertaining coming from a politician who has extensive benefits and a generous pension. I think conservatives, starting with the politicians, should begin to walk the talk. Let’s start with their pensions. Then I would be interested in listening to them talk about union reform.
Dee Bailey, Calgary
Streaking, the whole truth
I cannot imagine a sadder or more disgusting sight than that of pathetic middle-aged men marching naked through the city of Toronto during the Pride parade, in complete disregard for the law (“The naked truth about baring it all,” Emma Teitel, March 24). I am all for gay rights, but those actions go too far. Do those few marchers have any idea how many others are turned off and disgusted by their actions, or are they just exhibitionists who simply do not care? As for Teitel, who benefits from the evolution of gay rights, I suggest that rather than “owing almost everything” to those few gay men, she should look to all the progress that has been made on this issue through education. Toronto, and indeed Canada, is a much more tolerant and accepting nation now than it was just a few years ago, but I, for one, draw the line at accepting men flaunting their “freedom” in public.
Mary Jane Huntley, Kingston, Ont.
First Emma Teitel compares perceived mistreatment of homosexuals during the Sochi Olympics to the genocide of Jews in the Holocaust (“Skills will not save us from hatred,” Feb. 24), and now the flaunting of nudity at the Toronto gay Pride parade to veterans wearing a poppy. I can only assume she is going for shock factor to raise awareness of an issue she feels passionate about, but these comparisons are so over the top, they fall nothing short of shameful; they belittle unspeakable horrors and loss felt by many of your readers. You cannot compare the raid of an illegal bathhouse resulting in an arrest of homosexuals to the slaughter of millions and the sacrifice of war. To do so brings up significant questions of judgment.
Petara Panabaker, Alberta
TV gone down the tube
For several years, I have been disturbed by the continual violence and sexual scenes that are always available on our TV (“Blood on their hands,” TV, March 10). Even the advertisements are sometimes sexual or violent. Jaime J. Weinman notes, “Viewers simply don’t worry much about violence, compared to nudity.” I disagree. What the viewers feel, as I do, is that there is absolutely nothing the public can do about it, so they just turn off the programs they do not want to watch. I am sure parents can’t always monitor what their children and teens are watching. There is also more swearing on news broadcasts than there was even a few years ago. This whole thing is so sad and alarming.
Sylvia Williams, Summerland, B.C.
The wrong Butt
Maclean’s mistakenly reported that Brent Butt, distinguished comic and creator of the sitcom Corner Gas, was responsible for the “telling of tall tales” in Parliament (“Rocking the vote,” National, March 24). The speaker was Conservative Brad Butt, MP for Mississauga-Streetsville.
Chris Hill, Mississauga, Ont.