Letters to the editor

'I'm surprised Freeland can show her face in public'

Letters to the editor, Nov. 16, 2018: Maclean’s readers weigh in on raucous NAFTA negotiations, carbon-tax avengers and the abomination of stunt marriage proposals

In our October cover story, Ottawa bureau chief John Geddes wrote an exhaustive tale of the tape on how Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland led Canada’s NAFTA negotiations—and ultimately found a deal that satisfied U.S. President Donald Trump.

Thank you, John Geddes, for your article, but you don’t speak for all Canadians when you thank Chrystia Freeland for her efforts. While she did do a good job based on what she had to deal with, it must not be forgotten that her own leader put her and the country in the position of having to fight for what little we achieved because of their opening demands concerning gender equality, Indigenous rights and the environment as part of a trade agreement. While these goals may be legitimate concerns for the country, they should not enter into negotiations for a trade deal. Similar to the Trans Mountain fiasco, these problems were created by Trudeau so, no thanks, I won’t be grateful to either Freeland or Trudeau for setting us up for failure then claiming victory for a passable deal when so much more could have been achieved.
—Allan Garber, Maple, Ont.

Ah yes, thank you to Chrystia Freeland for saving us from economic catastrophe—the one Freeland & Co. were about to unleash in the first place due to their colossal incompetence: irritating the U.S. president and his chief negotiator through public sanctimony, tying our fate with that of Mexico (who promptly abandoned us to make their best deal alone), leveraging the vital auto sector against the supply-managed dairy sector, non-starter chapters on Indigenous rights, all capped off by meetings held with last-minute desperation. And what a save! Steel and aluminum tariffs remain in place, auto output is capped, plus there is an effective veto on our foreign policy should Canada make trade deals with “non-market” countries (i.e., China). I’m surprised Freeland can show her face in public, let alone on the cover of your magazine.
—Michael Platonov, Mississauga, Ont.

The happy formula

In October, our editorial revealed the happiest people in Canada were…older women and teenaged boys—two groups that are all smiles for totally different reasons.

I wonder whether John Helliwell’s explanations for the happiness of young men and old women as being, respectively, “self-delusion” and “satisfaction with accomplishments” are correct (“Unlikely happiness,” Editorial, November 2018). I am an 88-year-old woman, and from my own observations I would conclude that young men are happy because they are favoured by society; they definitely receive more attention than young women. And anyone would be happy to receive extra attention. We send encouraging signals to our young men because we want them to feel valued and strong. We eventually want to rely on them for taking on responsibility and helping to raise our children. For women, that responsibility is biologically understood, so no special attention is required. Admittedly, the unexplained extra attention may lead to self-delusion. Old women are happy because they may have, for the first time in their lives, control over their own time and the ability to live just for their own purpose and their own needs. Earlier, their support and attention went toward the needs of other family members, often with little acknowledgement and even less thanks. Being taken for granted is not satisfying.
—Ursula Litzcke, Vancouver

Carbon cares

In October, senior writer Paul Wells surveyed the landscape of anti-carbon tax forces gathering in Canada. (He wrote the next cover story on the same issue, focusing on five powerful conservative politicians who oppose the tax).

To Paul Wells: I am genuinely disappointed that in this article and others you have written on carbon taxes that you never offer an opinion on how to reduce Canadian greenhouse gas emissions. You seem to criticize carbon tax plans but never offer up a better way to reduce emissions. Seems you are more interested in partisan politics and traditional economics than in minimizing global temperature increase. I would suggest most Canadians are not too interested in politics and are more interested in implementing ideas that reduce health, safety and financial risks.
—Todd Anderson, Toronto

It is high time a modicum of reality was injected into the carbon tax debate. First, Canada produces such a small percentage of the world’s CO2 emissions that you could shut the entire country down and it wouldn’t make a particle of difference in the worldwide environmental picture. Second, Canada, with its large forest, cropland and grassland areas, sequesters more CO2 than the country produces. If the climate gurus believe that CO2 is a problem, it certainly isn’t Canada that’s causing it, and nothing Canada does will matter squat when it comes to finding a solution. If we punish ourselves enough and are successful in meeting the Paris climate targets, we will reduce worldwide CO2 emissions by approximately one-half of one per cent. If anyone believes this will have any impact at all on climate change, they are living in a dream world.
—Wayne Stockton, Regina

Can Justin Trudeau and the Liberal party even imagine a scenario where “compromise” and “middle ground” might not be possible? What crisis would it take for them to get to the point of admitting that they need to put the environment first, over the continuous growth of fossil fuel industries? How many forest fires, tornadoes and devastating coastal storms will it take? How many extinctions of species will it take? What about the complete decimation of the world’s coral reefs? How many human deaths from heat, flood, famine and drought? What about the threat of a tipping point that will plunge the Earth into an uninhabitable hothouse state over the next 200 years? The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report has made it clear: even if we all do what it recommends to reduce greenhouse gases, we will still experience much of the above as soon as 2030. If we go over the targeted 1.5° C warming and hit 2° C, these impacts worsen exponentially. But it is because we are headed towards 4° C with the status quo that there is no more room for middle ground. You either believe the experts or you don’t. You either recognize the gravity of the situation or you gamble with our future. What sane leader can read this report and still push an agenda that will increase CO2 emissions by tens of billions of tons per year? With the Liberals’ insistence on their centrist “we can have our cake and eat it too” stance, I suspect their answer to the questions above is that no disaster, death or extinction will be enough to sway them from their foolhardiness—especially not the warnings of a hundred global scientists who are experts in their field.
—Pat Cusiac, Mission, B.C.

A town rallies

In August, when a sinkhole in Oxford, N.S., made national news, we compiled a photo gallery featuring big and small sinkholes from around the world. We later received a letter from the chief administrative officer of the town, known as Canada’s wild blueberry capital.

I am the chief administrative officer for the town of Oxford, N.S., and when I read the article about the Oxford sinkhole in Maclean’s, my heart sank. To fill in a little background, at the same time the sinkhole became national news, news also came to our community of some structural issues with the local school, which forced all our school-aged children to adjust to split shifts and be transported out of the community to attend school. The community rallied, parents adjusted, and town officials put things in place to ensure the safety of the youngest students until the school reopens (thankfully, in November). Our businesses continue to operate, including the processing plant referred to in the story, Oxford Frozen Foods, the largest employer in Cumberland County, which is celebrating 50 years of operations this year. The Lions Club is the owner of the property and rec centre most affected by the sinkhole. It is unclear if the picnic park, playground, walking trails and swimming area will be able to be used again, or if the building will be off-limits indefinitely. Due to the closure of the Lions Club, many events and programs have had to find new locations. People have been networking, finding solutions, working together and ultimately just making the community work as it always has. Our small art gallery is planning a new exhibit, minor hockey is gearing up for another competitive year and Friday-night jams in our historic Capitol Theatre are offering a lively performance venue for local talent and music enthusiasts. But after reading the article in your magazine—with the subheading, “There was once a town that called itself Canada’s wild blueberry capital. Then the bottom fell out”—nobody would think we are continuing to thrive and pull together like so many other small communities do across this country. What a terribly injurious and misleading statement to make about this resilient community. For the record, the giant blueberry man at our town’s entrance is “Oxley,” who remains our welcoming ambassador, as we are still known near and far as being the wild blueberry capital of Canada.
—Rachel L. Jones, Oxford, N.S.

Legal weed

In September, Alberta correspondent Jason Markusoff previewed the “patchwork of half-baked, absurd laws” that would govern newly legalized marijuana in Canada.

The legalization of recreational cannabis will be detrimental to those who use it medically. The first reason is cost. As of Oct. 17, an additional 10 per cent tax was added to the price of medical marijuana; this could amount to an extra $1,875 per year for a patient. Second, there may be a loss of medical strains. Most patients don’t want to get high and use strains that are minimally or non-psychoactive (higher in CBD, lower in THC). Recreationally, the demand will be for the opposite. Producers may give up growing medical strains to meet the wants of the recreational market. Third, restrictions on where it can be used may be applied to medical patients; the Ottawa public health agency has already proposed banning the smoking or vaping of marijuana in apartments and on balconies. Fourth, the Canadian Medical Association wants to abolish doctors as gatekeepers of the current medical marijuana system and let dispensaries manage patients’ needs. This could increase harms to those wishing to try cannabis as an alternative to established therapies. Fifth, there’s the scrutiny on driving. Medical patients fear losing their licences if they test over the proposed legal limit, even while current salivary testing may not correlate with intoxication.
—Dean Ducas, Cornwall, Ont.

Well, shucks

With its November 2018 issue, Maclean’s once again comes through with relevant long-form journalism, reflecting deeply on the issues that matter. First, for me, is Anne Kingston’s nuanced reflection on the #MeToo movement one year in (“Inside the first year of #MeToo,” National). A close second is John Geddes’ intelligent analysis of Chrystia Freeland’s triumph in trade negotiations in the era of Trump. The bonus was seeing Maclean’s continuing to lift up Indigenous issues as national issues by including Indigenous-related items in its 2019 University Rankings. Thank you for being such a reliable source of information and insight.
—Heather Menzies, Ottawa

‘Freeland, Ford and angry men—I was pleasantly shocked that the author of this insightful article was male. Thank you, Scott Gilmore.’
—Lynn Musson, Westbank, B.C.

Decent proposals

In September, associate editor Shannon Proudfoot wrote about the “downright abomination of stunt marriage proposals,” a column that left many readers chuckling, or nodding along in agreement.

Shannon Proudfoot’s column reminds me of two former employees: Mary Jane and Jane. Mary Jane and her boyfriend got engaged on a gorgeous beach, just the two of them. Jane was proposed to by a TV producer in front of a cast and crew. I made some excuse for not attending Jane’s Hollywood hoopla and hopped a jet to Wolfville, N.S., for a wonderful, simple nuptial celebration enjoyed by Mary Jane. Seems to me you can choose to trade in your iLife for a real life.
—Peter Jennings, Midland, Ont.