Pharmas fear pot
I feel deeply for Matthew A. Mernagh and all the members of the Toronto Compassion Centre who will no longer have access to their medicine (Reefer Sadness, NOW, August 22-28).
The article brings up a very interesting point: the cost of medical cannabis versus commercial drugs with similar effects. Pharmaceutical companies are no doubt fighting against medical cannabis. An effective painkiller that people can grow themselves is fierce competition for their products. But I, for one, am more concerned that sufferers of debilitating diseases can get an effective low-cost medication than I am about protecting the pocketbooks of drug manufacturers.
Guns drawn and bulletproof vests to raid a medical marijuana club? Who are the real criminals?
KEVIN ALLAN, Vancouver
Law ruins lives
Reefer sadness makes me feel old, really old, when I think that this is the same debate 30 years later. There will never be resolution or compromise re marijuana: compassionate use for those who suffer from pain or evil drug that leads to use of more evil drugs. Of course, one's definition of compassion varies from person to person, pain can be relative, and your pain is not my problem.
The Compassion Centre should not be surprised by its situation. There is the strong influence of American policy. The United States and Canada have very different moral and legal views on marijuana. That has never been in question. The reality is, more people's lives have been derailed, messed up and complicated by criminal records for possession of marijuana than by smoking it. Of course, I might just be paranoid about that claim.
Douglas Helliker, Toronto
Target policy, not goods
In fingering the goods (now, August 22-28), your Israel-bashing specialist, Scott Anderson, goes on about "Gush Shalom, the Israeli peace group opposed to the Occupation." Not "a peace group," mind you, but "the peace group." Funny how he fails (as usual) to interview Peace Now, Israel's oldest and largest peace group opposed to the Occupation. And, of course, he neglects to mention that Peace Now doesn't campaign against the settlers' exports.
Peace Now prefers to target the settlement policy rather than the settlers themselves. Its recent survey found that two-thirds of settlers are prepared to relocate to Israel if compensated. Rather than pursuing a largely symbolic, bootless boycott, all peace partisans should be pressing the Israeli government to provide incentives to leave (rather than settle) the Occupied Territories.
Canadian Friends of Peace Now
Picture of bias
A casual review of fingering the Goods reveals, yet again, NOW's fervent determination to go to almost any lengths to unearth corroborating "evidence" for its continuing reportage on the Arab-Israeli crisis.
For those who read the Hebrew language, it is patently clear that whoever selected the accompanying photo for Scott Anderson's treatise on the political incorrectness of territorial "settlement-originating" goods wasn't careful enough to hide his or her anti-Israel bias.
The photo of a gaggle of settlement protestors is obviously extremely dated. Do a close-up on the sign-brandishing protestor furthest to the reader's left. One readily notices that the Hebrew text is a direct plea to the late Rabin's Labour government to retract its erstwhile pro-settlement policy.
C'mon, guys! Either you need to be a little more careful, or, Scott Anderson, you need to get rid of your research assistants who do a seemingly lacklustre job of sourcing out your news material! Do so at your peril, or -- egads! -- be accused of anti-Israel bias! As if it makes a difference.
Adam Mezei, Toronto
I'm a left-of-centre non-jewish male, and Scott Anderson's article really got me thinking. If Jews who live in their ancestral homeland of Judea are "illegal settlers," how is it that, after our forefathers massacred the original inhabitants, we became the legal owners of Canada? Is it because we refer to them as pioneers rather than settlers? Should Canadian wine be boycotted until we all return to our ancestors' countries of origin?
Well, I will buy Israeli wine this weekend to protest our illegal occupation of North America.
Alex Zurab, Toronto
Pay up, Mel
The newspapers tell us that we're into our 21st smog alert of the summer, should Toronto's putrid air and brown blanket of heat pollution not be sufficient evidence to our senses.
I'm a bicycle commuter, yet I'm advised to stay indoors, to be inactive, held hostage so that motorists can continue to block our streets and spew toxins into the air.
I have tried to quantify the personal cost to me occasioned by Mayor Mel Lastman's inaction on Toronto's smog alert crisis. I have estimated that 21 smog alert days have resulted in 42 forgone personal bicycle commutes to and from work, resulting in $75.60 in TTC fares.
I have thus sent an invoice for $75.60 to Mayor Lastman for costs incurred during the smog alerts for which I hold him and his colleagues largely responsible.
Anne Hansen, Toronto
PM burdens me
the long goodbye. dead pm walking. However you put it, Jean Chretien is one political corpse who will remain leading his own funeral parade, spending your money in his quest of finding a legacy. Like the U2 song, Chretien still hasn't found what he's looking for, yet hopes that between now and his announced February 2004 retirement he'll stumble upon something that has eluded him these past nine years.
He could sign the Kyoto Accord so all Canadians could freeze in the dark. Maybe Chretien's legacy will be to deny the millionaire Paul Martin a chance to succeed him, leaving us with the likes of John Manley, Allan Rock or, god help us, Sheila Copps. With his track record, by the time Jean Chretien leaves the stage in 18 months, his present legacy might look good compared to what is yet to come.
Ron Thornton, Edmonton
Pond of confusion
Richard Freedman writes about my presumed confusion as to what happened to those tadpoles dumped in them-there Parkdale backyards (NOW, August 22-28). I doubt it, but they may have turned into frogs. And then those frogs were crushed by cars, killed by cats, burned to death in the sun or met their demise in any number of urban-nightmare endings for basically helpless amphibians.
Because they have no place to go, no where to live. Confusion? I'd say the eco-vandals like Ms. McAllister who drag helpless creatures into their backyard death traps year after year are the confused ones here.
Leave the frogs, snakes, orchids and all other wild things where they belong. Please.
Bob Allisat, Toronto
Pope's visit not all gay
RE: marc boudignon's letter cynical Lefties (NOW, August 22-28).
Boudignon berates NOW for daring to offer, God forbid, a critical view ofCatholic Heterosexual World Youth Day. Most of the mainstream media gave this event biased and glowingly positive coverage. I congratulate NOW for not losing its critical edge. Will Boudignon and others like him only be satisfied when "positive" coverage is universal? Is there no room for any criticism of this Pope and the Catholic Church?
Sure, World Youth Day was a positive experience for those who were made welcome. As a gay man, how can I simply "forget" that this Church and this Pope object to my right to love? How arrogant to suggest that I should.
Thank God for a different point of view.
Matt Guerin, Toronto
Down in front
An open letter to the guy who ruined Le Tigre's concert for me: You weren't there an hour before the show, while the rest of us snagged spots near the front. You weren't there during Mary Timony's set as we all squished closer together in anticipation of the main event. Hell, you weren't even there when Le Tigre took the stage.
No, you didn't make an appearance until the second or third song, when I was suddenly shoved aside with bullish force. You then proceeded to stand directly in front of me for most of the evening.
You had to be at least 6-foot-3 and 350 pounds. You were a sweating, shoving, faux-vintage-T-shirt-wearing brick wall. Oh, and an asshole, of course.
Perhaps you thought that you were being feminist by shoving your way in front of everyone, regardless of gender, ethnic background or height. You sure seemed pretty oblivious to your own jerkiness. When Kathleen Hanna talked about how shitty it is for dominant people to push around non-dominant people, you cheered just like the rest of us. Dude, she was talking about you.
While you may not catcall at women on the street, your behaviour stems from the same feelings of self-importance. You could've gotten there earlier. You could've easily seen over my head. Instead, you chose to be pushy and rude.
In retrospect, I can't believe I let a cocky white male push me around at a feminist rock show. But, rest assured, I'll be ready for you next time.
INCOGNITA ENGLISH, Toronto