‘Take your dirty habits around the corner’: Letters

Maclean’s readers write in

Photographic memories

Your choice of cover photo for your Year in Pictures issue (Dec. 22) is brilliant: Marcus Cirillo.

Paul J. Larocque, Markham, Ont.

Thank you for portraying a most poignant photo of young Marcus Cirillo on the cover of “The Year in Pictures” edition. It is our hope that Cpl. Cirillo’s son will be always supported with love and kindness, knowing his father served his country with courage and bravery.

Hildy Richardson, Comox, B.C.

If I were Nathan Cirillo’s mother I would be shocked and horrified to open your magazine and find a photo of my dying child spread across two pages. We all know what happened that day. Show some respect.

Peggy Mair, St. Albert, Alta.

That young soldier murdered at the National War Memorial was not a hero: he was a victim. A circus began with his death, featuring Stephen Harper on the pulpit, pipe bands, and that poor little boy paraded and choreographed for Harper’s political standing. At the same time, people are killed by drunk drivers all the time; First Nations women go missing or are murdered every year. Harper is not at their funerals.

Ralph Moore, Creston, B.C.

What a great photo, in your Dec. 22 issue, of the poppy memorial to the British and Commonwealth fatalities of the First World War, displayed at the Tower of London; how fitting that it resembles a huge, blood-red stain laying at the feet of one of the monarchies that precipitated and pursued a useless, pointless conflagration that wasted the lives of a generation, that blasted to pieces the efforts of multiple generations in France and Belgium and that set the stage for extremists to control the German (and Russian) state so that part two of that war would resume in 21 years. General Douglas Haig should have been court-martialled for his careless, callous waste of those he considered mere numbers, but the ultimate stain is on the monarchy and the mentality of a privileged upper class. This photo is an iconic depiction to their shame.

Dave Coates, Burford, Ont.

The pictures in this issue were great, except for the one with the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong Un. It is a well-known fact that the North Korean people are starving and being mistreated. Why would you choose to include this two-page picture? Why don’t you focus on the people instead and show the reality of this human-rights indignity.

Maureen Marsolais, Russell, Ont.

Cutting through the haze

Emma Teitel condemns the new Ontario law that bans smoking on restaurant and bar patios and the sale of tobacco products on college and university campuses (“Boomers: Do as I say, not as I did,” Dec. 22). She attacks self-righteous Boomers for instituting a “nanny state” that selectively denies young people the right to pollute the open air by smoking in public spaces. She suggests we’re on a slippery slope to banning poutine and questionable choices in music. I applaud her activism. It’s refreshing to see young people look up from their smartphones long enough to notice the world around them and voice an opinion on something they disagree with. Not every generation has a worthy cause comparable to ending the Vietnam War or furthering civil rights. And no one understands better than Boomers the high that comes from the freedom of leaving home and finally being able to make our own bad choices. As for smoking, who is leading the charge for legalizing weed? Baby Boomers. We learned that when taken in moderation and eliminating the criminal element, it’s not so bad. But sitting at an outdoor patio on a beautiful sunny day next to a table of smokers infringes on my airspace and stinks up my clothes. Boomers have made our share of mistakes but ultimately we’re all trying to make the world a better place one step at a time. In the meantime, take your dirty habits around the corner and don’t whine to me about your rights.

Lynda Davis, Mississauga, Ont.

Ah, poor Emma Teitel! Did the big mean Boomers do something the poor, little Millennial did not like? Did they restrict your ciggies? Maybe it’s a good time to throw a tantrum and writhe on the floor screaming and hollering. While on the floor maybe consider that a lot of Millennials have no desire to smoke and do not want to be around the small group that have been brainwashed by Big Tobacco. Maybe also think about the agony and suffering that go with death by cancer. Maybe then pause to thank the Boomers and grow up.

Wendy and Wallace Bergen, Smithers, B.C.

Of course Emma Teitel has a right to her opinion, but like most smokers I know, it’s a very selfish one. I’m 30 and a non-smoker. Not only do I dislike cigarette smoke, I’m allergic to it. She claims that there is “more than enough clean air” on patios: I’m sorry, I think those years of smoking have damaged your nose and perhaps your reasoning. Smoking on patios often keeps me away, and I definitely can’t eat there amongst smokers. My grandfather passed away a few years ago and just before that a doctor took a look at his lungs (and tests) and said, “Well, that’s what being a smoker for more than 30 years will do to you.” The irony is that he never smoked a day in his life. He was a teacher and sat in the teacher’s lounge where all the teachers smoked around him. Second-hand smoke kills; his horrible death proved that. Smoking is a privilege, breathing is my right.

Dana Rutledge, Toronto

Volunteers for the nanny state

Governor General David Johnston is asking more of us to volunteer, which I do in a school breakfast program (Interview, Dec. 22). Most of the students who attend free breakfasts every day come from homes where neither parent has a job, and probably hasn’t for at least two generations. We are teaching these children that nanny Canadians will continue to hand them their existence if they choose not to work. The Canadian economic road ahead looks frightening. Fewer and fewer wage-earners are paying increasing taxes for fewer services. Soon there will not be enough taxpayers to support the rest in our present lifestyles. As long as interest rates are at rock bottom and credit so readily available, the bubble will continue to grow until, in my children’s generation, it will burst and then severe depression times will return. If our leaders do not have the political will to turn the economic ship around, severe depression is a matter of when, not if.

George Hatton, Paris, Ont.

United we fall

Historically, Aboriginal bands never spoke as one voice, partially because of geography and partially because they were often at war with one another. They are obviously no longer at war, but still have deeply rooted divisions as to the way forward, driven in part by the vastly different economic circumstances that define the more than 600 bands across this country. The belief that one chief, elected to the head of the Assembly of First Nations (“Fighting spirit,” National, Dec. 22), can somehow speak for these varied groups, and unite them when they have never been united, is a recipe for continuing the struggles and hardship that plague many Aboriginal reserves.

Jeff Spooner, Kinburn, Ont.

Get God out of our pockets

In the Dec. 22 issue I was dismayed to read the sentence: “Short of God’s pocket, there are few safer places to live than in Canada” (“Living and letting live,” Good News). I understand that the writer was attempting a light-hearted comment; nevertheless, please let’s keep references to religion (and one person’s individual interpretation of religion at that) out of Maclean’s magazine.

Jennifer Smith, Trail, B.C.

Justice denied

Having just read the two letters under the heading “Why women don’t report” (Dec. 22) I feel like strangling someone—preferably one of those seriously deluded people who claim that we have a system we can trust to administer justice. The system is so hell-bent on giving the accused every possible protection against false conviction that a young woman can be put on the stand and pilloried whilst the perpetrator doesn’t have to speak at all and doesn’t have to have his (or her) past detailed to a judge or jury. If it is fair practice to hammer away at the accusers, then surely it is equally fair to have a go at the accused

Eric Balkind, Guelph, Ont.

Cover it up

I find it somewhat ironic that the picture in your Power List (Dec. 1) of Ann Cavoukian, Ontario’s information and privacy commissioner shows her leaning against her desk, with her computer clearly visible and not on screen-saver mode to cover up the information on it. You’d think that as a privacy czar she would know better than to allow a photographer in her office with possibly confidential information clearly in sight.

Michel Doiron, Gatineau, Que.

Bubble, bubble, housing trouble

You note that the biggest accomplishment for U.S. Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen so far “has been to end quantitative easing, the Fed’s controversial program to buy US$4 billion worth of bonds and mortgage backed securities” (“A human touch,” Newsmakers, Dec. 15). While that might have been an accomplishment, you understate the facts by a factor of 1,100: the quantitative easing in fact amounted to US$4.5 trillion. Later, you state, “Wait too long to raise rates and she’ll risk sparking another financial bubble; hike the rates too early and she could pull the rug out from under the fledgling U.S. economic recovery.” The problem, however, is that President Obama appointed Mel Watt as the head of the Federal Housing Finance Authority; Watt intends to reintroduce high-ratio mortgages with only three per cent down payments. He is further going to remove the requirement that banks retain five per cent of their mortgages, and then he plans to raise the loan-to-income ratio to 43 per cent. These changes basically reinstate the subprime market conditions of the early 2000s.

Paul Bjarnason, Burnaby, B.C.


In the Dec. 22 edition of The Quiz, the Battle for the Plains of Abraham was incorrectly identified as the only major confrontation of the Seven Years War between Britain and France to take place on Canadian soil; the Battle for Louisbourg took place a year earlier, in 1758. Maclean’s regrets the error.

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