Letters: On ALS, Crimea, and women’s hockey

Maclean’s readers write in

Team Canada celebrates their 3-2 victory over the United States. (Petr David Josek, AP Photo)

Team Canada celebrates their 3-2 victory over the United States. (Petr David Josek, AP Photo)

Thank you, Kate Lunau, for your excellent story on ALS (“Chasing a killer,” Society, March 17). I was diagnosed with ALS a year ago and I still find it so surreal that I will die soon and no one can stop it, and the government will not even meet with us to understand ways they can help lessen the burden for so many families. ALS Canada and members of the ALS community has repeatedly asked to meet with Social Development Minister Jason Kenney and Health Minister Rona Ambrose but can’t get past their gatekeepers. ALS is nicknamed “the bankruptcy disease” because of the high toll it exacts on a family. If the Harper government won’t support euthanasia, then the least it could do is lessen the economic burden faced by families, and ease the torment of an ALS patient during their last, most difficult and expensive months.

Brian Parsons, Ottawa

World war, why?

More than 40 years ago, the president of France, Charles de Gaulle uttered his famous line, “Vive le Quebec libre,” when Quebec separatism was on the rise. The Canadian government at the time not so politely told him to mind his own business. Now there’s a skirmish between Ukraine and Russia and the Canadian government is doing exactly what they didn’t like done to them: interference in another country’s business (Editorial, March 17). So far, no shots have been fired at citizens in Crimea, where 60 per cent of the population are of Russian ethnicity. So why is the West getting involved? If Quebec seceded from Canada, would we want the U.S. to interfere? What makes us so special that we can tell another country what to do when it’s done through democratic means? This Western hypocrisy can lead to a global conflict.

Bob Found, Indian Harbour, N.S.

Let’s compare the 1936 Olympics in Berlin with the 2014 Olympics in Sochi. Each Olympics was under the aegis of a dictator who was targeting a minority group. Each dictator subsequently annexed a neighbouring region. Hitler took four to five years to conquer Europe. Putin appears to be just starting. Nobody wants war, but the powers that be are not making strong enough moves to stop it.

James E. Parker, Tillsonburg, Ont.

Your editorial states that Vladimir Putin is “unwilling to cede control of [Crimea] to a nascent democracy.” The situation unfolding in Ukraine is neither nascent nor democratic. If anything, Ukraine has regressed away from democracy. You also suggest that NATO should sweep Ukraine into its fold. One of the things that brought the Cold War to an end was the promise that the West made to the Russians not to expand NATO to Russia’s doorstep. Of course, that promise was not kept, as NATO expanded in all directions. I agree that “Canada must help,” but it must help by promoting democracy, not an expansion of NATO, which is a dangerous proposal and contrary to long-term peace and security.

Mohamed Amery, Calgary

So Stephen Harper is threatening Vladimir Putin and lauding the violent overthrow of a democratically elected government in Ukraine (“Inside a revolution,” International, March 10)? Harper has foolishly overlooked the fact that President Yanukovych was elected with 49 per cent of the popular vote—as opposed to Harper’s Conservatives’ own 39 per cent. Although it was a trade deal that sparked the rebellion, it was public perception of government profiteering, wasteful spending, and a nagging sense that the people were being deceived and left behind that ultimately brought down the government. The mass of people filling Kyiv’s square were not so much against all things Russian, as they were in favour of a more open and honest government, sentiments that ring dangerously true for a majority of Canadians.

Mike Ward, Duncan, B.C.

The winning women

The most important thing for me about your Sochi special issue was having the double cover, featuring both men’s and women’s hockey. I am an avid fan of female hockey, and the women’s win was a bigger deal to me than the men’s (“Breaking the ice,” Sochi, March 10). I am a retired teacher who was subbing in a Grade 8 classroom for several days during the final games of the Olympics. The kids begged me to be able to watch the Games on the CBC live feed. Of course, I complied. After the women had won the gold and were standing for our national anthem, the whole class, including me, leapt to our feet and sang along with them. The experience sent shivers down my spine, and one of the girls said, “I will never forget this moment as long as I live!” Incidentally, in 1972 I watched the Canada-Russia final in the gym with my Grade 3 class. We set up three TVs in the gym and the whole school watched from there. That was great, but this was even better.

Linda M. Benson, Winnipeg

Emma Teitel asks, “Is there any way to keep fuelling the fandom post-Sochi?” (“Changing the way we watch the game,” Sochi, March 10). Of course there is. All you have to do is pay to see a women’s game. Sponsor a female player or team. Dig into your pocket and pay for an hour of ice time. Tweet out to all the women you know suggesting they do the same. Women in Canada outnumber men; you have demographics in your favour. Pay to see women play.

Blair Gillis, Edmonton

Who’s smoking what?

The button worn at the Manning conference, “I’d rather drink with Rob [Ford] than smoke with Justin [Trudeau],” illustrates a major problem with the conservative movement (“The right state of mind,” National, March 17). Even if you’re unaware that Rob Ford has admitted to smoking lots of marijuana, everyone must know that Rob is far from a responsible drinker. Drinking with Rob may well involve marijuana, cocaine, drunk driving and/or a crack house surrounded by gangsters. Similarly, Brad Wall and Jason Kenney’s touting Canada’s future as an energy superpower is wonderful until you take into account global warming. Then it just becomes irresponsible. It’s extremely ironic that smoking with Justin is a more conservative thing to do than drinking with Rob, but I guess it’s a better button than “Me not think good.”

James Bredin, Toronto

Regarding the conservative button reading, “I’d rather drink with Rob than smoke with Justin,” perhaps the Liberals could use a similar approach with a button that says: “I’d rather smoke with Justin than do crack with Rob.”

Terry Steeves, Perth, Ont.

Down in the valley

In the summer of 1962, I was an untravelled 19-year-old stationed for training at HMCS Cornwallis. An opportunity arose to explore the Annapolis Valley region (“Holding down the fort,” Society, March 17) via a loaned bicycle, so I took it. The scenery was breathtaking. The best, however, was late the first night of my ride. It was clear, dry and brilliantly starlit when I settled for sleeping on a grassy hillside meadow. The rain didn’t awaken me until after midnight. Annapolis Royal was a half-hour away so when I knocked on the door of the Queen Hotel (now known as the Queen Anne Inn), I was drenched. There was no answer. A few minutes later, from a village phone booth, I called the hotel and was told to get right back there and come in. Back at the hotel I was very warmly welcomed by the kind manager who explained that the door was always open and were I to find myself in that situation again, I was to walk in, crash on a couch and have a good sleep. Needless to say, my first impression of Nova Scotians was most positive. On every visit since, they and other Maritimers have fully reinforced it. I look forward to the memories inspired by the other nine places in your “Places you’ve got to see” feature.

Wynn Downing, London, Ont.

You are what you watch

Your “Bad News” section of March 17 lists the recent incidents of poor judgment by university students, and the misogynist songs sung by both male and female students. Are you surprised? Look at the cartoons our youth watched during their high school careers. The Simpsons, the disgusting South Park, Family Guy: all of which show disrespect for authority and each other. I was an occasional secondary teacher for more than 23 years and before that a city bus driver. I willingly dealt with teenagers for more than 35 years. What parents and society allowed our kids to watch was appalling. Your article asked, “Whatever happened to value, morals, and basic decency?” Parents, society and authority allowed these pillars of society to crumble for the sake of commercialism. We are what we read and view. Our youth are desensitized; we read and view the sad results everyday.

Patrice Simon Bédard,

Windsor, Ont.

The leadership look

Letter-writer Bob Thompson seems to think that Justin Trudeau’s biggest problem is that “he does not look like a prime minister” (“The boy inside the man,” Letters, March 17). Pray, tell me, what does a prime minister look like: 54 years old with perfect, silver hair? In Calgary over a year ago, I heard Justin Trudeau give a 20-minute speech, sans notes, which was intelligently and artfully articulated, covering several subjects, and which held the audience captivated from start to finish.

Marian Burke, Calgary

A Page turner

I have to believe that letter-writer Teodora Vladinski (“The gay thing,” Letters, March 17) did not watch a video of Ellen Page’s speech at the LGBT’s Time to Thrive event. If she had, she would not have seen a narcissistic, self-absorbed young lady looking to “grab some additional attention.” Rather she would have heard an eloquent, emotional, soft-spoken young woman who was finally speaking her truth after years of being in that dark closet. This was an event for LGBT youth, many of whom struggle in silence and fear, some of whom commit or try to commit suicide when the pain and fear finally overwhelms them. Page’s empathy, her eloquence and her grace brought the audience to their feet. I would suggest Vladinski look for the video on YouTube and really listen to it. She might be surprised.

Karen Grant, Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.

Tweeting and twerking to the top

The greatest generation” (Music, March 10) by Dan Hill suggests that today’s songs are “arguably, superior to those of any other generation.” Whoa. There’s a difference between appealing and good. Very little about the modern pop industry is real. Songs need to be tweeted about and twerked to in order to be heard; singers need to be autotuned and airbrushed. One-hit wonders have always existed, but today’s pop songs are simply the clothes, and the artists are the models who sell them. Maybe this generation of pop songs is appealing, but all that glitters is not good.

Erin Driscoll, Ottawa


In the story “The PQ’s stunning coup” (National, March 24), our first reference to former provincial governmental affairs minister Benoît Pelletier erroneously referred to him as Benoît Bouchard, who was a cabinet minister in Brian Mulroney’s government. We regret the error.

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