Letters to the Editor

Letters to the editor for October 2017

Maclean's readers write in

If you would like to submit a letter to the editor for possible publishing, email us here. Please keep letters to a maximum of 300 words. Maclean’s has the right to edit the letter for clarity and concision. 

Indigenous women

Thank you for the update on the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women commission (“Lost and broken,” Cover, October 2017). I am appalled that this necessary process has been such a waste of money, and that no lessons learned were applied from the previous commission. I do not think it is acceptable to reset it unless the bulk of the taxpayer money that was wasted is returned to the new commission. Instead, I would give the commission an additional year and then direct it to ensure that it holds hearings in 20 or so communities in each of the western Canadian provinces, and that the incarcerated are interviewed, as well as members of the public service. If the commissioners cannot get along, then each of their lists of recommendations can be included in the same report. I am sure many people will say that this is too complicated a process, but I am quite confident that it does not have to be if we are serious about hearing a large proportion of the people affected and turning the exercise into some lasting good. Our government has the power to make this so.

W. A. Lewis, Saskatoon

Give peace a chance

The rising tensions between the U.S. and North Korea are very concerning (“The very worst-case scenario,” International, October 2017). If things continue to head in the same direction, then a world war of epic proportions is imminent. The magnitude of a nuclear war would be so drastic that the effects would last for generations to come. Jeopardizing our future over political differences would be utterly absurd. The worldwide head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Mirza Masroor Ahmad, has profoundly stated, “We constantly raise our voice calling for peace in the world, and it is the pain and anguish we feel in our hearts that inspires us to try to alleviate the suffering of mankind.” Other world leaders across the globe should feel the same pain and anguish and, thereafter, collectively advocate for peaceful reconciliation as well.

Fasih Malik, Calgary

Taking flight

Reading about the artist Ahmoo Angeconeb (1955–2017) in the July 2017 issue brought back special memories, dating back to 1981, when we were on the same airplane. The two of us chatted about his work and artistic dreams during the entire flight between ­­Thunder Bay and Toronto. At that time his work had already been recognized in Germany. During our conversation, he revealed his deep interest in the artistic styles of other world cultures. Curiosity got the better of me when I noticed a long cardboard container that rested near his knee. I happily ended that flight purchasing a signed, limited print, numbered 88 of 90 and known as “12 Loons,” for $50. That print has hung in our den all these years since. Whenever I gaze at the line of 12 loons, I can’t help but wonder about the one loon, flapping its wings, perhaps wanting to take flight. It makes me happy to know that Ahmoo took flight too and achieved successes with his unique painting style.

Margarete Gilles, Guelph, Ont.

Trumpian promises

Paul Wells’s “visit” with the folks of Elliott County, Ky., is further evidence of why voters are unqualified to judge policy issues (“In Trump they trust,” International, October 2017). In many cases this may not be their fault because of a lack of access to the appropriate facts, or a lack of training in evidence evaluation. But while most people are cognitively ­ill-equipped to judge the political value of policy proposals, there is one aspect of voter decision-making that most of us have some competence at. I refer to our ability to evaluate candidate merits, including reaching accurate judgments about a candidate’s cognitive merits and character. This is an essential ability to exercise if good character and knowledge and thinking ability are deemed essential for election to high office. Unfortunately, in Elliott County and many other places, these judgments were either not made or not factored into voter decisions. The operative principle in this approach to voting seems to be that even cognitively and morally deficient people can do well in office by way of doing good things for the voters. Which is to say: in the voting booth, cognitive and character deficiencies of candidates are irrelevant. Candidate promises are the only relevant consideration.

Wayne Grennan, Halifax

Barbarian invasions

If the editors of Maclean’s believe this spectacularly ignorant, cherry-picked argument in fav­our of tolerance toward invasive species, then I would suggest they spend a few afternoons looking for the eastern bluebird, now rare due to the introduction of the starling from Europe (“A welcome invasion,” Editorial, September 2017). Perhaps they would encounter the increasingly common wild parsnip and giant hogweed plants, and remain open-minded as they require hospitalization and months of treatment for the chemical burns the plants can cause. They may enjoy encountering one of the friendly colonies of European fire ants like the ones spreading throughout the Greater Toronto Area; or maybe they think boating will be more fun with the exciting possibility of being hit in the head by a five-kilogram silver carp at 50 km/h. Invasive species disrupt the balance of ecosystems, rapidly and permanently alter environments, and rarely have positive long-term effects on our environment. To equate tolerance of human immigration and open-mindedness towards invasive species is moronic. Immigrants must adapt to their environment to fit in and succeed. Invaders displace and force their environment to adapt to them. It’s a big difference, and one the editors should learn.

William Langman, Burlington, Ont.

This editorial was thought-provoking but ultimately confusing and then downright incorrect in its conclusion. Invasive plant and animal species can and do cause destruction to our natural environment at considerable cost to ­Canadians. Knapweed causes harm to wild grasslands and ranges, and farmers’ fields. Zebra and quagga mussels are not welcome in the lakes and streams of the southern interior of B.C.—our water is already pristine and does not require the help of foreign filter feeders. The American bullfrog is about to make his entrance in B.C.’s Creston Valley. We don’t need him, either, with his voracious appetite for all living things and croaking at all hours! We as Canadians should be open-minded and continue to welcome less fortunate members of our own species, but I think we should throw up barriers to invasives from the plant and animal world when it is appropriate to do so.

Rod Drennan, Vernon, B.C.

Terror on the right

Finally, the truth is being told about propaganda that is spouted by Western democratic countries (“The terrorists on the right,” October 2017). During the former PM’s reign, “fear” was front and centre in national decisions, in immigration policies, in excessive funds for every level of defence. The column presented a clear, concise view of the right-wing escalation in violence, the fear of an Islamic invasion of North America and the squashing white power now governing the U.S. Thank you, Scott Gilmore.

Judith Harrower, Stella, Ont.

A humane ending

As a retired community nurse who was involved with people in their final weeks, days and hours, I commend Dr. Sandy Buchman’s approach in allowing people personal dignity and control in the way they die (“The doctor who took on death,” Medicine, ­September 2017). Some of us do not wish to endure the final stages of disease. Some of us do not want family members to witness our slow and sometimes tedious, sometimes painful, death. Choice is the operative word here. People in the final stages of any disease deserve choice and control. Assisted death is just another tool in the process of dying, and for those who do not wish to endure the final ravages of a disease, assisted death must be an option. It is not for everyone. But as a humane, intelligent and logical option, it must always be presented to those whose death is imminent; anything less is simply barbaric. We have the means to assist someone to die in peace—not to do so is simply reprehensible. Kudos to Dr. Buchman for facing and overcoming the biased and restrictive roadblocks of your profession; you are doing exactly what you should be doing.

Catherine Hammill, Kincardine, Ont.

Boyden and Indigeneity

My eye was drawn by Joseph ­Boyden’s article (“Who gets to be Indigenous?” Essay, September 2017). He waded into a firestorm of questions and issues that our family is experiencing in our own small way, and he laid open the flesh covering our wounds entitled “ancestry.” My forebears were proud coureurs de bois who helped to settle and establish the Red River Settlement, which would later become Winnipeg, and who married and had families with native women, and whose children were rightly entitled to be termed “Metis” or “half-breed,” which in no small way could be construed as a derogatory term. Our family wore their heritage with pride, however, and quickly assimilated into the lifestyle and work ethic associated with hard-working Winnipeggers, and were very successful businessmen and entrepreneurs. Now, after the death of my mother, who was our last direct link with our Metis heritage, I am endeavouring to honour that heritage by joining the Métis Nation of Ontario, if for no other reason than to validate her heritage and the hard work our family put into making this great nation. To find Joseph Boyden’s article, which confronts the issues that have partly divided our family during after-dinner discussions, was a revelation for which I am grateful: his argument was powerful and clear and makes me wonder about strict, scientific, DNA evidence of family lineage versus lifestyle issues and personal beliefs and relationships as a definition of one’s origins.

Ronald F. Pace, Waterloo, Ont.

Raining needles

B.C.’s generosity toward illicit drug users is astounding (“Needles in the trees,” National, August 2017). In 2016, nearly 15 million needles were handed out to addicts free of charge. And this in a province where diabetics, many of whom are elderly and on fixed incomes, have to pay for their syringes out of pocket. As the only province in the country that charges premiums for basic medicare—currently $75 a month per person for those with a yearly income of $42,000 plus—one wonders why B.C. can’t seem to manage its health care budget more efficiently.

Hennie Stibbe, Saanich, B.C.

Out in the open


All Canadians need to know the story of Indigenous women (“Lost and broken”). It is too important to dismiss because of complexity or time requirements. We need to know so that we, as a country and as human beings, do not let such events keep happening. Continuing work, certainly hard for members of the National Inquiry Into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, is essential, and their efforts are to be applauded and supported.

Evelyn Smith MacKay, Rockwood, Ont.