Letters: ‘Who is betting on the politics of fear?’

Maclean’s readers write in


Mountie men need to step up

Have any of these RCMP officers who are guilty of sexual harassment (“The RCMP’s biggest crisis,” National, March 9) ever thought how they would react if this situation were happening to their sisters, daughters or mothers? Do these men have so little confidence in their own job abilities and aspirations that they have to bully and harass women who are willing and able to perform the same jobs? Those males in the force who do think sexual harassment has no place in any workforce need to stand up and speak out and take action—and be real men.

Marty Schacht, Calgary

Faces of fear

If Zunera Ishaq, to whom the Federal Court of Canada granted the right to wear her niqab while taking the Oath of Canadian Citizenship (“The niqab gambit,” National, March 9), believes she is first and foremost committed to her own beliefs and cherished customs, that is fine. Dressing as she wishes in Canada is fine, too. However, Canadian citizenship means commitment to constitutional values that are bigger than any one individual. Holding those values and dressing with her face covered while taking the oath of citizenship in Canada is not in accordance with generally accepted customs in our country. Citizenship is about the privilege of standing together on guard for our fellow citizens, with all the responsibilities the oath implies. Just as I find it difficult to accept the sincerity of letters written anonymously, I would also find it difficult to hear the sincerity of someone speaking with her face covered.

Mary O’Neill, St. Albert, Alta.

Canadians are fed up with these people who have left the misery of their war-torn, totalitarian countries and chosen Canada, one of the best places to live in the entire world—and then, once here, use our institutions and every trick in the book to import the religious and other customs, even laws, from which they fled. Why did Zunera Ishaq come here in the first place, if wearing her niqab is so fundamental? Is it possible that our society and values are incompatible with her beliefs, and maybe, just maybe, she made the wrong choice? Unless, of course, she is part of the declared crusade to convert Western civilization to her religion. One would expect, as a minimum sign of a will to join in, that an aspiring citizen would respect the rules, customs and practices, especially at a swearing-in ceremony—and not go to court to contest them. What a show of contempt.

André Simard, Laval, Que.

The niqab is a barbaric vestige of a culture where women were regarded as a man’s property. In the tradition that spawned the veiling of women, males are not expected to control their sexual desire. The sole responsibility for this falls on the women’s shoulders. This is why, in these cultures, women who are the victims of rape end up being punished for it, the idea being that, if she were “properly” hidden from view, she would not have been attacked. Aside from the back-handed insult to a mature man’s ability to control his own body, the idea that a woman must be veiled from sight of all strangers is deeply repugnant to me. I do agree with Prime Minister Harper. This is Canada. Women don’t wear niqabs here.

Willi Boepple, Saanich Peninsula, B.C.

I resent your assertion that “Stephen Harper is betting [on] the politics of fear.” Harper represents the moral majority of Canadians who believe that wearing the niqab while taking the oath of Canadian citizenship is contrary to an unrestrained democracy. Week after week, month after month, year after year, your magazine has produced fear-mongering articles about Harper and his Conservative party. Who is betting on the politics of fear? It is you, Maclean’s, that has been continually exploiting fear and manipulating human emotion against Harper in order to sell your Liberal agenda.

Gerard Pernitzky, Ottawa

50 shades of whatever

Emma Teitel presents a paradigm shift that gives me a better way of thinking about this new sex-ed curriculum (“How to make sex unsexy: teach it,” March 9). In these times when my child can download 50 shades of whatever without me even knowing about it, I realize I have to do “the talk” earlier, and be willing to explain all sorts of distasteful subjects. As Emma points out, my kids won’t be able to shake the memory of mom, let alone their teacher, trying to explain oral and anal sex. But I am concerned that this curriculum slowly introduces “gender identity” starting in Grade 3. “Gender expression” and “gender identity” are theories, not acts. I guess I can be thankful that the government of Ontario is only trying to teach six genders when there are more than 20 genders taken into consideration in some countries. Teitel shows us that we must update our archaic curriculum, but could we at least stick to the facts when we’re dealing with young children’s minds?

Dianne Wood, Newmarket, Ont.

The court’s ever-changing mind

Thank you for your Feb. 23 editorial, which discussed the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision on doctor-assisted death; what the decision is and is not; and its challenges and limitations. The Supreme Court of Canada changed its mind, moving away from a “blanket ban” on doctor-assisted death in the Rodriquez v. B.C. case in 1993; now they’ve declared it’s not a criminal offence. So what if the court changes its mind in the future and a state-sponsored (or directed, or requested) death will not be considered a criminal offence? What if the court decides the state has the final say on whether or not life is worth living?

Ray Jones, Kamloops, B.C.

Risky arguments

A letter-writer responding to the Feb. 23 cover story “The real vaccine scandal” takes issue with health professionals, whom he claims “deny that vaccines, like all drugs, have important side effects for a small minority of people” (“Inoculation calculations,” Letters, March 9). This statement is an example of the propagation of the misinformation your article decried in the first place. Caring for Kids, a site created by the Canadian Pediatric Society, clearly provides information about vaccination risks (as do other similar professional sites) which, unlike the letter-writer’s hypothesized one per cent side-effect rate, actually vary with the intensity of the reaction and, of course, the type of vaccine. The information is nuanced and best discussed with your doctor, as the health-professional websites typically recommend. The writer, instead of picturing the impact of his imagined rate of side effects, could visit the Public Health Agency of Canada website and read the findings of the Canada Communicable Disease Report (September 2013, Volume 39), which documents how vaccination has dropped measles from historic rates of about 0.45 per cent of the population per year (that is 144,000 cases per year for today’s population) to sporadic outbreaks of usually fewer than 100 cases for the entire country. I would also add that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the death rate for measles is about 1.5 per thousand. Could the writer imagine the deaths of 216 children every year as a side effect of uninformed opinion?

Douglas McGill, Whitby, Ont.

Leave the mom alone

As a dedicated reader, I was displeased by your recent article “A mom’s worst nightmare” (National, Feb. 23). I would understand accessing the correspondence of Susan Bibeau—mother of Parliament Hill shooter Michael Zehaf-Bibeau—as part of a police investigation into the events of Oct. 22, 2014, and maybe publishing the findings if something of relevance were discovered. Your article makes it clear, however, that her emails contained nothing pertinent. Why not leave it at that? The need to make a purposeless show of this woman’s personal suffering is very distasteful to me.

Muriel Rowe, Gatineau, Que.

Actually, I do not like them apples

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has just approved a genetically engineered apple that doesn’t brown when sliced (“How do you like them apples?” Society, March 2). A browning apple indicates that it isn’t fresh. Okanagan Specialty Fruits, out of Summerland, B.C., should be ashamed of themselves for even thinking that a non-browning apple was a good idea. I’m embarrassed for the whole of the Okanagan that our valley’s name is associated with this product. These apples could eventually appear in juice, baby food or apple sauce, where we could unwittingly consume them, because there are no laws in North America requiring labels indicating the presence of GMOs in our food. This entire exercise is a waste of time and money, providing consumers with a product they do not want and have no need for.

Linda Wills, Vernon, B.C.

Carbon nation frustration

It’s unfortunate that Paul Wells appears to have adopted “carbon price” as a euphemism for carbon tax (“Fun with carbon pricing!” National, March 2). Carbon-price-tax proponents base their rationale on the assumption that, when Canada reduces its carbon footprint by not developing its extensive oil-field resources, there will be a lower level of global CO2 production. However, environmental activists who urge shutting down a major source of national revenue must also accept that the decline in world oil prices is the result of production exceeding market demand. With multiple countries ready to replace any reduced Canadian production, that decrease does not mean reduced world oil output, or a smaller worldwide carbon footprint. The world’s most polluting countries are unlikely to accept that the current tight duality of population and pollution may require the reduction of both.

Ron Johnson, Victoria

Losers should look in the mirror

Those would-be terrorists who, as Colby Cosh notes, “blame their difficulties with women or education or drugs on a fallen world” (“The lure of Edmonton’s monstrous gem,” National, March 9) might best find the correct place to assign all such blame, and the place to fix the difficulties, by looking in a mirror.

Jay Gogal, Saskatoon

The last word on The End

I dearly love reading the The End column at the end of each week’s issue. Obituaries are a beautiful ode to a person’s life, and I appreciate that yours celebrate Canadians who have lived lives big and small, but rarely, if ever, meet any test of what could be considered “famous.” Your obits place seemingly average Canadians in a social and cultural context yet render each person unique. Even when the person has been in the news, the obit is so kindly and fairly written that readers learn about the individual and his or her life, including the perspectives of loved ones, away from any salacious stories that may be swirling. This allows us all to remember their humanity, as well as our own. Thank you for publishing these every week. I hope you always keep it up.

Heather Mills, Toronto

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