It can happen here
People in this country are wrong to sit comfortably with a false sense of security (“Hitting close to home,” Special Report, May 6). Canada is on the infamous list of al-Qaeda’s five target countries: did we forget? It would be wrong to feel smug and assume we are too good a people to have anything bad happen to us. Anyone can board a train without a security check and have no one taking a peek as to what may be inside their bags. Via Rail claims the costs would be too high and pose too great a hassle to its passengers. What will it take, a death toll of a few hundred to have the public put up with a little inconvenience? Frequent flyers got used to it quickly enough. I once saw someone at a train platform get on the train that was stopped for a short while, put a suitcase in the baggage rack, then jump off again. The train departed without the individual. That made me nervous.
Louise Chaput, Terrace, B.C.
Is the sudden putting forward of the S-7 anti-terrorism bill this week merely a coincidence with the RCMP announcement of the Via Rail terrorist plot? What better way to create an atmosphere conducive to passing of this bill that transgresses fundamental principles in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms? Why has the news of RCMP directives to deny interviews between senior Mounties and MPs and senators occurred this same week? These developments smack dangerously of a police state in the making.
Nancy Warren, London, Ont.
One loses more and more faith in our immigration and security service, especially with this latest fiasco with alleged terrorist plotter Raed Jaser. Here is an individual who attempted immigration—from Germany, using fake French documents—with his parents in 1993 and was denied refugee status. When Jaser was considered a threat to security in 2004 and faced deportation, he claimed he was a “stateless” Palestinian. If he had nowhere to come from, why was the issue not addressed when he was deemed unable to pass immigration regulations, and not returned to Germany? People who abuse the system established for legal immigrants have to be treated with a firmer hand. This kind of lack of leadership must be addressed and addressed quickly, from the top down.
Bob Tritschler, Parksville, B.C.
Canada is full of disaffected employees, descendants of immigrant militants, social anarchists, victims of globalization, religious zealots of all denominations and ordinary young adults harbouring generally radical views. In the same way we cannot legislate away stupidity, we cannot make it criminal to think or even speak an antisocial proposal. If we did, it would make criminals of all of us, at one time or other. Fear, anxiety, paranoid surveillance and unlimited suspicion are not the answers. They can only weaken us as a society. Our strength lies in the hope, equal opportunity, and enthusiasm for life that got us here in the first place.
Paul Mundy, Kitchener, Ont.
Your article would have been more accurate if the opening photograph had shown an Amtrak locomotive. The Toronto-New York Via Rail service is operated by Amtrak, with Amtrak locomotives and Amtrak passenger cars, although the Toronto-Niagara Falls segment is staffed by Via Rail. Sabotage of this train would have amounted to sabotage against a U.S. railroad by Canadian terrorists on Canadian soil.
Hugh Whittington, Stevensville, Ont.
I can hardly believe that Maclean’s continues to spout the tired, fake George W. Bush-ism phrase “global war on terror” (“An unfamiliar war reveals an uncomfortable truth,” From the Editors, May 26). That kind of hyperbolic jargon hardly describes our Canadian reality. And then there’s your cover headline: “Eight days of terror” in bold, white text over the foreboding grey-and-black background. Noam Chomsky was right: our corporate media want to program us to live in a constant state of fear.
Richard Perry, Antigonish, N.S.
Maclean’s dismisses the demand that those now alleged to be terrorists should have been kept under surveillance as one worthy only of East German dictators. How many will have to die before such misguided cultural relativism gives way to the reality that we have to recognize the need to profile not Muslims, but terrorists? Some will say that claiming most terrorists are Muslims is, for all practical purposes, to imply that most Muslims are terrorists. Right—like saying that all fleas are insects implies that all insects are fleas. Cultural moral relativism will be the death of Western society.
Lance Irvine, Yorkton, Sask.
Diamond’s wrong note
Spare us John Fraser’s fatuous, parochial Canadian slant that pervades his recent article on Jack Diamond’s new opera house in St. Petersburg, Russia (“If you build it, they will carp,” Design, May 6). Why would someone impose a huge sterile block into the 18th-century perfection of St. Petersburg’s streetscapes? St. Petersburg architects have stopped Gazprom from building a huge skyscraper in the middle of the old city, but failed to stop a Canadian who, to quote Fraser, “is doing St. Petersburg a favour.” The original Mariinsky building—which Fraser calls “an obscene wedding cake”—is a 250-year-old cultural institution built for Russians who, as Diamond rightly notes, so love the “world of gilt.” Consequently, in leaving the exterior unadorned, Diamond didn’t learn the lesson well enough, or was indifferent to his clients.
Carol Patterson, Bedford, N.S.
Liberation isn’t dead
Colby Cosh claims that millions of dollars have been invested in CCSVI treatment for MS (“The only thing liberated was their wallets,” Society, May 6). In fact, very little money has been invested in CCSVI, but billions of dollars have been spent in the past 70 years chasing the MS neurologists’ unproven autoimmune theory. That research has not resulted in a cause, in a cure or in a viable therapy. Rather, it has given birth to a $14-billion-a-year MS industry around drugs that have a 30 per cent efficacy rate. Cosh should know that an estimated 30,000 people have been treated worldwide; he should know that two-thirds of them experience significant to moderate improvement of neurological symptoms—a claim that MS neurologists cannot make for the drugs they prescribe.
Linda Hume-Sastre, President, CCSVI Ontario, St. Catharines, Ont.
Billions of taxpayer dollars are “liberated” every year as governments fund medications that fail to prevent progression of MS. In light of these failures, along came Dr. Paolo Zamboni, who coined the term “liberazione”—not as liberating people from MS, but improving blood drainage from the brain. The media have since bastardized this term, making people believe they would be “liberated” from MS. Treatment options for degenerative diseases are personal choices, unless of course you have MS and you live in Canada. Then you are imprisoned to a lifetime of unproven therapies. After 18 years of MS, my blood-flow issues were repaired three years ago when I underwent CCSVI therapy (and yes, at great financial cost to me and my family). Until we turn the page on this, some pharmaceutical company will be happy to “liberate” you and millions of Canadians from their generous tax dollars to treat a disease of unknown origin with meds that fail to go beyond a placebo effect.
Christopher Alkenbrack, Wolfville, N.S.
In what appeared to be an attempt to investigate an alleged conflict of interest of the Motherisk program (“There’s a pill for that,” Society, April 29), Maclean’s instead has contributed to the ongoing ignorance surrounding mental health. Regardless of whether the information Motherisk is providing is affected by their funding, no one should ever downgrade the “potential risk” of depression and/or anxiety in any population. Taking medications during pregnancy is a task that should be left up to the patient and her physician. Depression is a potentially fatal disease, just like tuberculosis. Mothers who never took a single medication during their pregnancies have children born with congenital birth defects. Similarly, mothers who take a wide variety of pregnancy medications have had children born with no congenital birth defects. There was a great opportunity here to examine the actual issue of big pharmacy companies and how research is funded and disseminated. Instead, depressed mothers must have heaved a collective sigh and continued to hide their medical condition. How depressing.
Brooke Nowicki, Calgary
As a Canadian currently living in the U.S., I am only too familiar with brutal and garish election campaigns that regularly make use of untruths. I was so delighted to read that Adrian Dix, currently campaigning to be B.C.’s next premier, is “pledging a clean fight and refusing to go negative” (“Drawing the battle lines,” National, April 29). I look forward to seeing the change Dix will bring, not only to B.C., but to Canada’s political stage. I can only hope that our federal politicians will be inspired to do likewise.
Elizabeth Hammond, Greenville, N.C.
Life after death
In a world that is ever disrespectful of human life, it is refreshing to read the discussion with Dr. Sam Parina (Interview, May 6). He demonstrates that while some people rush to strengthen death-with-dignity initiatives, the sacred nature of human life has not been forgotten by science. Parina indicates that he is not a religious man, and he feels that children and those who have never been taught about God have conscious awareness after being pronounced dead; he concludes, “the core message that people [who have been resuscitated] tell us is the same.” For Parina, this somehow proves the non-existence of God. For me, this common experience is in fact proof that even those who do not believe, or who have never heard of the concept of a deity, brush against and prove its very existence. Religion, for all its obvious faults, is the endless search by humans to reconnect with the prime mover that set us all in motion. To my eye, science ever more proves that such a being exists.
Raymond Selbie, Haliburton, Ont.
Stimulating the book industry
Maclean’s, I love you but you are going to be the death of me. I buy more books because of your book reviews. Chapters and Amazon had better appreciate you.
Anita Kochylema, Calgary