Letters to the editor: Alberta floods ’feel like a moment of unity for Calgary’

On flood clean up, sick days and the benefits of yogourt
BLACKFISH, Tilikum, 2013. ©Magnolia Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection
Magnolia Pictures/Everett Collection

After the flood

It did really feel like a moment of unity for Calgary (“Down, but far from out,” National, July 15): from the second the evacuations started, the prevailing mood was to run down to the lowlands and punch this flood in the balls. Citizens fanned out to flooded neighbourhoods and starting hauling junk and tearing out gyprock without so much as exchanging names with homeowners. At the company where I work, a junior employee had the audacity to suggest that everyone take a sick day to help strangers schlep mud; the boss responded by cutting the workday nearly in half for the entire week. (This in a business that survives on billable hours.) Friends of mine in the trades spent last week in flooded homes, gratis, racing to reach as many wet basements as they could before the fungus did. And meanwhile, with all that black market do-gooderism happening underground, our public institutions were quietly making crisis management look like child’s play. It’s good to live in a wealthy city, which surely mitigated the damage, but also good to live in a culture that can put aside ideology and ego and personal gain to solve a problem.

Geoff McKenzie, Calgary

Wild is the whale

There have been zero known fatal attacks on human beings by an orca in the wild, and the few non-fatal attacks listed include a child that was bumped by a passing orca, and one surfer that was bitten. There have been countless fatal, and non-fatal, attacks on humans by orcas in captivity (“A killer whale gone very bad,” Film,? July 15). This is not a coincidence. Orcas are among the most intelligent species in the world. We know that wild orcas travel in pods, live and travel with their mothers even after they are fully grown, and can live to be 80 years old. Why we think we can take a baby orca, put it in captivity, and ask it to perform circus tricks day in and day out, and not act outside of its nature, is beyond comprehension. I will never set foot in Marineland or SeaWorld. People need to stop going to these places so there is no longer a demand for these shows, and no longer a demand for these whales.

Kristen Richardson, Toronto

The wrath of God

Your detailed, well-written article on eco-terrorism (“Playing with fire,” Special Report, July 15) was followed a few pages later with a story about animal captivity (“A killer whale gone very bad,” Film, July 15). The lessons in both articles are crystal clear, and include how removal from natural environments can create psychosis in mammals, but what about eco-terrorism committed by God, as revealed in the Calgary flood? The Book of Revelation (11:18) says, “God will destroy those who destroy the Earth.” Not only are reckless development of the oil sands destroying the Earth, but so is reckless housing development in forested mountain lands, where beaver habitat was removed in the mountains upriver from Calgary. Beavers were restored to the Rocky Mountains many decades ago to prevent such flooding, and obviously that lesson was lost.

Bob Mosurinjohn, Ottawa

Tilting at windmills

Another interview with Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne (Interview, July 15) and still no one is addressing the elephant in the room. Wynne’s vague reference to properly siting energy infrastructure sounds rather benign, but wind turbines and their substations have already destroyed a lot of people’s homes, health and livestock operations over the past seven years due to improper siting. It’s one thing to say you’re going to fix a problem, but there’s already a hell of a mess in rural Ontario that needs to be acknowledged and addressed.

Barbara Ashbee, Mono, Ont.

The limits of democracy

The hope of the Arab Spring was always an extreme long shot, and the unravelling has come about just as many thinking people predicted from the outset (“A state of hope, unravelled,” International, July 15). But that’s not what is troubling: rather, it is the West’s tut-tutting over the fact that a “democratically” elected government could be ousted despite overwhelming popular support for the ousting. In this, the West is being disingenuous. While most would agree with Churchill that a democracy is generally better than the alternatives, it is not heaven-sent and engraved in stone. While we moan that the Egyptian people were wrong to unseat a perceived scoundrel, we would have eagerly supported any German putsch that might have overthrown a locally popular Hitler. And we are most selective in picking which democracy to support, as shown by our rush to endorse a dictatorial China’s claims over an honestly elected democratic Taiwanese government.

Donald McKay, Calgary

Yogourt vs. C. difficile

Thank you for the very interesting report on treating C. difficile with fecal transplant (“Gut of the matter,” Society, July 15). However, this infection can be remedied by natural means. I was infected by C. diff. at age 81, thanks to a rather strong antibiotic prescription to treat a tooth infection. My wife was afraid I was going to die. At that time, fecal transplant had not been heard of and the antibiotic Vancomycin was suggested. Having experienced the potential deadly effect of antibiotics, I decided to try something else and try to re-establish the good bacteria in my system with yogourt. To make sure of having fresh yogourt without preservatives or any other foreign ingredients, we purchased a small yogourt maker (at a price comparable to that of a Magic Bullet) and I ate yogourt twice a day. It cured me and now, nine years later, I have not had it return. I live in good health—and still eat yogourt.

Eddie Bellem, Portland, Ont.

Keeping pipeline money at home

I always get a laugh over how much the U.S. Department of State thinks it knows about Alberta oil sands production. In the article “Keystone pipe dreams” (Business, ?July 15), it is stated that “the Department of State has deemed [extraction of crude oil from the oil sands] to be 17 per cent more polluting over its life cycle” than conventional oil. I wish I could see the esoteric mathematics on that one. As a petroleum engineer in Alberta and as an Albertan in general, I sincerely hope that President Obama nixes the Keystone XL pipeline in the U.S. so that we can get on with our own solution, keeping the revenue and jobs right here at home where they belong.

Steve Jenkins, Calgary

Nurses know about sick days

I am a nurse, ergo a public employee, and I have the benefit of a banked sick leave system (“The sick day scam,” Business, July 8). I have maxed out my banked days; I can’t save anymore. In a given year, I call in sick between three and five days total. At the moment, I am covered in an itchy rash that is severely impacting my sleep. But it’s not infectious, so despite the discomfort I am going to work. Many of my colleagues are the same. I get tired of these articles that paint a broad-stroke picture of public service workers as a bunch of takers with no consideration for the taxpayer. We are not all like this. Trust me. Many of us are grateful for the privilege of a secure, reasonably well-paid job. We don’t want to do anything to mess it up.

Jane McCall, Delta, B.C.

Oceanic transplant

While I enjoy your quiz page each week (The Challenge, July 15), I’m sure the residents of the Canary Islands, who until now could see the coast of Morocco on a clear day, will be chagrined to learn that their home has been moved to the Pacific Ocean!

Bruce Gillis, Paradise, N.S.

It doesn’t feel that good, actually

You must feel vindicated after the scorn and ridicule Maclean’s received the last time you published an article on the corruption in Quebec businesses and at all levels of government in that province. Many members in the House of Commons, as well as politicians in Quebec, demanded a retraction and an apology for what had been reported. Where are those same politicians now, mute on the whole subject for fear of losing votes? Maybe they could just buy a few, as they have been doing for many years by pouring vast amounts of Canadian tax dollars into that province. I think it is now Maclean’s turn to demand an apology from all those people who were so offended by your first article. You were absolutely right the first time around, and as evidence has proven (“One dirty hand washes the other,” National, July 15), the corruption has continued.

Gerald MacKinnon, Sarnia, Ont.