Letters: 'An outstanding post-Olympic issue'

Maclean's readers write letters to the editor

Andre De Grasse of Canada challenged Usain Bolt of Jamaica in the 200m final of the 2016 Rio Olympic summer games. (Lucas Oleniuk/Getty)

Andre De Grasse of Canada challenged Usain Bolt of Jamaica in the 200m final of the 2016 Rio Olympic summer games. (Lucas Oleniuk/Getty)

Olympic fever

When I attended the 1976 Summer Olympic Games in Montreal, the five-letter word for its sweetheart was Romania’s 14-year-old N-A-D-I-A. Maclean’s cover picture titled “The best ever” of a beaming 16- year-old proudly displaying four Olympic medals draped around her neck (Aug. 29) has changed everything for me. From now on, P-E-N-N-Y will be the five-letter-word for Canada’s new sweetheart of the Summer Olympics.

Ray Lebeau, Rockland, Ont.

Describing Usain Bolt as “A different beast” (Rio 2016, Aug. 29) was the understatement of the Olympics. Andre De Grasse, at five foot nine, didn’t stand a chance against Bolt’s six-foot-five height. Here’s the scientific reason why: the stride length of a trained runner is approximately 1.17 to 1.35 times their height. That made all the difference. DeGrasse was nipping Bolt’s heels at the end of the 200-m race. Had DeGrasse been Bolt’s height and in the same condition as he was, he would be wearing the gold and would have left Bolt behind by approximately six to eight feet.

Mortimer Levy, Montreal

Usain Bolt is the greatest and most colourful athlete in track history. He owns 10 of the 20 fastest times for the 200-m ever run. Yet it’s off the track that athletics will also feel the void when he finally hangs up his spikes. Unlike so many victorious athletes, who, on winning, snarl defiance and pump aggressive fists into the air, Bolt’s wins are capped with joyous dances, wide grins and playful posturing, as if beckoning the crowds to celebrate with him. There simply is no one like Bolt, and once he retires, he’ll be sorely missed.

Patrick Tee, Westmount, Que.

The Olympics face some serious challenges (“The perilous Games,” Rio 2016, Aug. 29). But it should also be noted that the IOC has been here before. In 1978, when Los Angeles won the bid to host the 1984 Games, it won by default: no one else wanted the Games at that point. If more innovative and creative thinking went into the production of the Games, the cost could be greatly reduced and they could continue to be the athletic spectacle they are.

Steven M. Thompson, Tulia, Texas

As always, Maclean’s published an outstanding post-Olympic issue pointing out the good and the bad of the 2016 Games. However, did I miss something? I saw no mention of Kitchener, Ont., boxer Mandy Bujold. It was too bad that she didn’t win a medal, as had been expected. However, does it get any better than the fact that she dragged herself out of bed after a night in the hospital to show up for her bout? Naturally she didn’t win, but nobody has a bigger heart, a love of her sport or more guts than Mandy.

Bill “Skip” Johns, Kitchener, Ont.

Bikini-type sportswear isn’t used only by female beach volleyball players (“The case against bikinis,” Rio 2016, Aug. 29.) Sports bikinis are also worn by female runners and other female athletes, although male runners do not have to wear Speedos. In every recent Olympics, female athletes wear less and less while men remain covered up. However, it was the one-piece swimsuits worn by the female swimmers in the Rio Olympics that had the eyes of my female friends and I bulging in disbelief. The ribbon of material covering their crotches and bums was cut so narrow and high up the thigh that it was like witnessing a Maxim shoot. No way would it help the swimmer achieve faster times. If it did, male swimmers would also have worn a ribbon over their genitals. Later, we noted the photographs of a circle of synchronized girl swimmers with their knees pulled up their chests as they performed somersaults. Not one female face could be seen; the circle was composed of female crotches. Why do girls and women put up with such an obvious and crude exploitation of their bodies? If they all said no, the male chauvinist pigs ruling the Olympics would have to back down.

Jancis M. Andrews, Sechelt, B.C.

Countering terrorism’s narrative

The recent public endorsement of ISIS by Aaron Driver is yet another warning that homegrown terrorism has infected our country and we need to be extremely vigilant (“How to stop a terrorist,” National, Aug. 29). It is really shocking to see that a youth who was born and raised in Canada had fallen prey to the toxic ideology of ISIS. As a Muslim youth myself, it is truly demoralizing to see an individual get manipulated through social media and other sources. The root causes of this influence are feelings of marginalization and a sense of lack of belonging. Hence, it becomes easier to get attracted to an extremist agenda to fulfill the voids and be a part of a “cause.” The rise of youth radicalization can be cured by a strong counternarrative that shows how true Islam completely condemns all the values that groups like ISIS stand for.

Fasih Malik, Calgary

Terrorism has no place in Islam or any religion. As a Canadian Muslim, my heart mourns at a loss of another soul who has been misled by those propagating the evil indoctrination of ISIS or other terrorist organizations while claiming to represent the religion of Islam. The reality of youth like Aaron Driver who become radicalized online highlights the impressionability of youth. I am optimistic that it is love that indeed is more powerful than hate. It is my sincere wish that all Canadian youth use their God-given capabilities for the better of all mankind in the greatest country of the world, Canada.

Nomaan Mubashir, Cambridge, Ont.

When there’s no one left to kill

I think I can understand the thinking of someone like Qutayba Ahmed Qasim, the ISIS fighter from Aleppo (“The real faces of ISIS,” International, Aug. 29). First he kills the infidels (those of other religions), but offers Jews and Christians (People of the Book) the opportunity to convert. If they don’t, he kills them. Then he discovers that conversion is not pure enough and institutes a final solution. When these people are all dead he must consider which Muslims are acceptable and rid himself of the ones that are not. Who is left for him to judge, only close friends and fellow believers? But this one and that one are doing things he does not approve of. Now they too must be weeded out. One day there is only Qasim himself left standing. Will he also find himself unworthy? Must he kill himself? It would save the world a lot death and destruction if he found himself unworthy today (as the world does) and depart to his destiny without further embarrassing his religion.

G.B. MacKay, Kingston, Ont.

Bring back Churchill

Scott Gilmore’s article “Abandoning Churchill” (National, Aug. 29) should make every Canadian weep with anger and frustration. We proudly talk of “ice in our veins” here in the Great White North but continue to live mainly within driving distance of the U.S. border. Successive governments, both federal and provincial, as well as the Coast Guard and Canadian Forces, have ignored our North. Meanwhile, Russia has populated its north and provided land, sea and air resources to service the ports it has built there. China clearly plans to make use of our northern route. Unless we do something, opportunities created by the longer ice-free season will be lost to Canada. Wake up and bring back some of the resources we have dedicated to fighting useless wars overseas. Make the North a priority, now, or hang our heads in shame later.

Carol Tomlin, Burlington, Ont.

Allow this Alberta grain farmer to offer a small but important correction to your excellent article on the northern port of Churchill. Your readers may be left with the impression that privatizing the Canadian Wheat Board gave Prairie farmers a choice about which port is used to export grain. In fact the opposite is true. The farmer-controlled Wheat Board used Churchill to its full potential because it brought extra money to farmers. After the Harper government privatized the Wheat Board in 2011, farmers no longer control their grain once it is delivered at local grain elevators. That grain is now owned and controlled by the handful of giant corporations that own port terminals on the West Coast and in Thunder Bay, Ont. Since none of those giant corporations own the facilities at Churchill, they prefer to use their own terminals. Prairie farmers have no choice in the matter.

Ken Larsen, Benalto, Alta.

Talking Turkey

Scott Gilmore can’t seem to find anything positive to say about Tayyib Erdogan (“Our worst friend in the world,” Aug. 22). Meanwhile Turks have voted Erdogan into power several times in free and fair elections. His fiscal policies over the last 10 years had Turkey experiencing economic growth that outpaced Europe and avoided disasters like Greece, Italy etc. Turkey is far from our worst ally in the neighbourhood, considering the likes of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Israel (which admittedly doesn’t set the bar very high). While Gilmore laments the loss of secular policies, Turks don’t. Turkey was not a secular liberal country as we know the system: women who wore the hijab were banned from schools, universities, parliament and hospitals. Reversing discriminatory policies such as those isn’t “Islamism.”

Naeem Siddiqi, Markham, Ont.

Send our sympathies abroad

It will cost Canada billions to resettle Syrian refugees already admitted and to support them, in many cases, for a generation or more, so it is not ungenerous for taxpayers to ask if this is really the most effective approach to the refugee problem (“Warm hearts, cold reality,” National, Aug. 22). According to MSF there are over 50 million forcibly displaced persons on the planet, many living in horrendous circumstances. Bringing what amounts to a handful of those already in the relative safety of refugee camps to Canada and providing them with all the benefits of the comfortable (and expensive) lifestyle we enjoy may be good politics, but our money might go much farther and do infinitely more good providing basic necessities for those in the most pressing circumstances. The relief agencies trying to do that are desperately short of funds and their appeals for help seem to fall on the deaf ears of those who think they have already done enough.

Ronald McCaig, Port Alberni, B.C.

Good point

I couldn’t agree more with the article “Gross domestic problem” (Economy, Aug. 29) on the fallacies of GDP. If we assume the purpose and goal of a nation of people is the well-being of all its citizens, then a healthy, strong economy is an enabler—not an end in itself. A paradigm shift is needed to remove our fixation on indicators that assume an economic trickle-down effect results in a healthy society, and broaden our suite of metrics beyond economics, metrics specific to a healthy society and utilizing a process similar to the derivation of the Consumer Price Index. Governments could enact policy accordingly to improve those societal health and well-being indicators. Possible contributors to this basket of healthy society metrics could be: environmental, physical/mental health, child welfare, availability of education, meaningful employment rate, safety and security, affordability of housing, public infrastructure, etc.

Bruce Caird, Whitby, Ont.

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