Letters: On Christian lawyers, fighting soldiers and end-of-life care

Maclean’s readers write in

Yiannis Kourtoglou/Demotix/Corbis

Yiannis Kourtoglou/Demotix/Corbis

Good point

If even some of the rumours Emma Teitel heard about the treatment of gays in Russia are true (“Skills will not save us from hatred,” Feb. 24), then shame on Russia, and shame on Putin for not intervening. But to equate the situation of gays in Russia with the plight of Jews in Hitler’s Germany, or the Tutsis of ’90s Rwanda? This is not history, but histrionics. Anton Krasovsky, a gay Russian TV presenter who lost his job after announcing his lifestyle on air, told the U.K. newspaper the Guardian: “I think any kind of hysteria is bad. Putin is not Hitler. Sochi is not Berlin 1936. When I read the calls for boycotting the Olympics I was absolutely disgusted.” The best antidote to hatred is the truth, not fearful hyperbole.

Randy Friesen, Prince Albert, Sask.

Keep the spirit alive

Maclean’s should get its own gold medal for a beautiful post-Sochi issue (March 10). Your writers and editors captured the mood and spirit brilliantly. It’s a great time to be Canadian, and your coverage helped to maintain that feeling of being on top of the world. Now, if we could swing some of that feeling over to our politicians!

Norman Kirk, Toronto

With no sour grapes, we feel that Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir were the gold-medal winners in Olympic ice skating (“Class act,” Sochi, March 3). They were so sensuous and synchronized in their performance, which, to say the least, was about the most beautiful, tender and emotional skate we have ever seen. Nothing against the U.S. team, but the sport is called ice skating, not ice gymnastics—which is mostly what Meryl Davis and Charlie White did. They were nowhere near the elegance of Tessa and Scott. Are we proud? You bet!

Bob and Carol Squibb, Penetanguishene, Ont.

Colby Cosh’s article on curling’s rural roots (“A game that will never be ruined,” Sochi, March 10) certainly tugs at the heartstrings. However, his inventory of distinctly Canadian games glaringly omits lacrosse, a game that has its origins with some of Canada’s Aboriginal peoples. Hard to get more distinct than this.

Matt Firth, Ottawa

Casting first stones

While one deplores Russian intervention into Ukrainian affairs, there is more than a little hypocrisy in the West’s indignant protests and demands for retaliation (“Inside a revolution,” International, March 10). The U.S. in particular has a large history of armed interference in other sovereign countries, of which Iraq and Afghanistan are only the most egregious. What about NATO and Canada’s dubious interference in Kosovo and Libya? Indeed, Russia has a far better claim to intervention in Crimea than had the West in any of the above. More than 60 per cent of Crimeans are Russian, or linguistically so, as compared to only 12 per cent Tatar and 24 per cent Ukrainian, and Crimea is home to the Russian Black Sea Fleet. The Ukrainians recently rioted against a democratically elected prime minister for which they have only themselves to blame, having split the last election’s Western-oriented vote between two candidates. They could have attained all their objectives by simply getting behind one “Westerner” in the election. It seems they learned nothing from the failed Arab Springs and Orange Revolution.

Donald McKay, Calgary

Reading articles in your March 3 issue about France (“The new face of the far right,” International) and Tunisia (“An Arab Spring bloom,” International), I gather that had France’s Front National proposed a constitution that required the republic’s president to be Christian, Maclean’s would be at a loss to describe how high the “wave of anti-immigrant hatred” had grown in France. In contrast, Tunisia’s new constitution, which stipulates Tunisia’s future leader must be Muslim, was lauded as a “progressive” model. It would be a refreshing change if Maclean’s would lower its bar of expectations for Europe’s “far right” parties to a level remotely close to that expected for other cultures or otherwise scrutinize its own favoured causes with an equally disdainful eye.

Henry Brechun, Cambridge, Ont.

Palliative preference

In your article about the end-of-life debate (“Closing arguments,” National, March 3), Greg Robinson says he doesn’t want to end “flailing around in pain and agony.” Palliative care can control nearly all pain; when it can’t, doctors can administer palliative sedation that allows the patient to die a natural death without experiencing horrible symptoms. Both euthanasia and assisted suicide force someone else to end your life. They may be willing to do it, but that doesn’t change the dynamic: the job of health care professionals is to maintain and enhance life, not end it.

Cheryl Ernst, High Level, Alta.

Emotions run high when a loved one is near death or pronounced terminally ill. Death is a part of life requiring practical resolutions made well in advance. I urge people to discuss death early with lots of humour. You will not die earlier because you talk about it. I urge governments to change the end-of-life laws. Our politicians, doctors and religious leaders must have the courage they so far lack to bring about change. It is not a political or medical problem, it is a matter of decency and humanity.

Maureen Mennie, Corner Brook, N.L.

Christians are lawyers, too

“What role would a Christian law school play in broader Canadian society in which controversial social issues are often decided in the courts?” asks Luiza Savage (“The law, the Lord and one giant cross to bear,” National, March 3). The simple answer is: the same role a secular law school does. A free and democratic society is defined by diverse thinking and debate that may lead to changes in the law. Sometimes the driving forces behind these are Christian, and sometimes they are secular. Before critics of a Christian law school get too carried away with dire and unlikely projections, they should spend some time researching how Christians like William Wilberforce impacted society with positive changes to the law.

Ellen Freestone, North Vancouver, B.C.

A person would think that secularism is the universally accepted perspective in Canada. Canada is a cultural mix; Christians have been a large part of that mix from the beginning. It should be represented in law schools in Canada; its denial would only perpetuate an undemocratic and biased situation. It’s long past its time to enter the nation’s law schools.

Edward Oke, Olds, Alta.

Keep North Korea in the UN

Your editorial (March 3) bearing witness to the horrors going on inside North Korea is commendable. Thank you for that! But what would be accomplished by kicking the North Koreans out of the United Nations? How is that going to help those starving people? As for the (presumed) loss of the U.S. as “the world’s policeman,” have you already forgotten how that institution’s activities have created one disaster after another? Starting, by the way, in Korea. Your advocacy of this U.S.-style kick-ass approach, as evidenced by your editorial’s headlines, is unworthy of the Canadian tradition. Let’s expend our energies on finding a more enlightened way to deal with the world’s problems.

Jakob Cornelis, Elliot Lake, Ont.

Drug abuse starts early

ADHD medication for boys has been overused for years (“Giving ADHD a rest,” Society, March 3). When we medicate children, we educate them in drug dependence. If we combine drug-dependence expertise with an addiction to video games and/or online porn in teen years, we end up with the situation we are in now: a large group of wonderfully successful young women and an equally large group of doomed-to-fail, anti-social young men. Spend some time in the university classrooms and listen to the complaints of brilliant, well-balanced young women who can’t seem to find compatible, loving and loyal male companionship. This is the real crisis. And it is here now.

L.P. Camozzi, Montreal

We now live in the most mentally stimulating time in human history, with TV, the Internet, and mobile phones, where we take in more information in one day than someone would in an entire lifetime around 150 years ago—and we wonder why children struggle to concentrate? If a child is diagnosed with ADHD, then the parents don’t have to take any blame for the child’s bad behaviour.

Ethan James Gibson, Hull, England

Don’t pick fights with soldiers

I grew up an “Air Force brat” and built a full career in public service (including a decade working as a bureaucrat in the House of Commons). I was angered by Defence Minister Rob Nicholson’s recent attack singling out the distinguished retired lieutenant-general Andrew Leslie for accessing the Integrated Relocation Program upon his retirement (“Shoot first, ask questions later,” National, March 3). Lately, veterans’ retirement programs and services are found to be squarely in the crosshairs of the federal government’s cutback agenda. Such treatment can only result in the destructive erosion of morale and reduced enlistment. Partisan pistol-whipping of those who have served is simply unacceptable and un-Canadian.

Randolph Wood, Salmon Arm, B.C.

Pathway to apprenticeship

Chris Sorensen’s article “The German way” (Jobs Report, Feb. 17) mischaracterizes Canadian trade unions and their relationship with contractors. For decades, construction contractors and trade unions have maintained a productive relationship, demonstrated through the large number of employers committed to building trade unions across Canada. Recent research conducted by the Ontario Construction Secretariat (OCS) reveals that apprentices indentured to joint-apprenticeship training trusts (employers and trade unions) have completion rates significantly higher than those apprentices indentured to individual employers. Additionally, in 2012, 83 per cent of unionized contractors reported employing an apprentice, compared to 42 per cent of non-union contractors. The relationship between building trade unions and contractors is strong, and has translated to an increased investment in skills training and apprenticeships.

Mark Cherney, president, Niagara-Haldimand Building and Construction Trades Council, Niagara Falls, Ont.

You, Kanye, are no Bob Dylan

I am not a Baby Boomer but I am a Bob Dylan fan and I admire Muhammad Ali. I also like Kanye West—a little. But I have to say that Dan Hill (a great songwriter, by the way) has now said the single stupidest thing in the history of human civilization (“The greatest generation,” Music, March 10): “Kanye West is the new Dylan. Not only do Kanye’s best lyrics match Dylan’s prescience, highly inventive wordplay and storytelling, Kanye’s indefatigable cockiness eerily channels Muhammad Ali.” Maybe Dan hasn’t actually read the lyrics to Gold Digger (“She went to the doctor got lipo with your money”) or Bound 2 (“Hey, you remember where we first met? Okay, I don’t remember where we first met”). Kanye has some good lines, but his lyrics simply do not stack up to Dylan’s, and his swagger is not backed up by going toe-to-toe with Sonny Liston and giving up his livelihood to protest a war.

Rob Roach, Calgary

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