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Go to article index for links to Bob Orrick's IN RE (In the Matter of)

Talking Back to Bob Orrick

I wanted to respond to your article about Canadians because I agree with a lot of what you had to say. As a born and raised Canadian it is hard to make up my mind but most of the time I'm more then happy to be living right near the U.S.A. I can just cross the border and I'm in NYC. Of course that's with a lot of harassment because I have an Arab name even though my mother is Canadian I am treated as a possible terrorist. That's where mine and a lot of people I have surveyed in a study I did for my integrated seminar class had mixed feelings about the U.S. Don't get me wrong, I meet Americans every weekend at pubs and bars and we get along very well, even better with women. I would say the biggest problem has to do with the Americans invading Iraq without U.N. approval. That to me shows that there is no respect for a global system and that at any point anyone can do whatever they please. Nice way of showing other countries like North Korea, Talibans, and other countries out there that there is no unity anymore and the bonds have been broken. Unfortunately for us Canadians being right there next to the U.S. some times doesn't feel right. Then again every nation has its time and I guess it's the Americans turn. How long will this last? It doesn't seem long considering Bush has a 7 trillion dollar debt. Better for us the Canadian dollar is just going higher and higher. Getting a little off topic, I would conclude with saying most Canadians love Americans but not the Government and sometimes unfortunately the bad outweighs the good.
Kareem, Montreal Canada

In reply.

I believe that Kareem Minhas has hit the nail on the head. Canadians, at least those that I have come in contact with over the past half-century [and more] do not harbour any dislike for Americans as individuals. Many Canadians number among their families relatives who are American citizens; both my wife and I do. What seems to gnaw at the Canadian craw is the American foreign policy; that is, the view of the US president, his cabinet and Congress that the USA is the only country that knows all; that has all the answers for today's real or perceived ills. The American attitude is one of arrogance and not one of understanding. In my travels, I have witnessed honourable Americans trying, sometimes desperately, to explain away their country's foreign policy.

As a Canadian who has no personal grudge against the Americans, I look south and see a compassionate country, a prosperous country and a country that has the ability to make war. Clearly, the USA is the only 'super power' in the world today; that the USA government understand fully what that means and how to carry out that role, is, I believe, the root of the problem. The Americans are the giant who plays with the little people and does not always realise that a mere flick of its finger can cause havoc among the playmates. That is the foreign policy and not necessarily the mood of individual Americans. Moreover, the education system in the USA is such that it instils in its followers a sense of pride that is not seen in Canada. It has been said, repeatedly, that the Americans wear their flag on their sleeves. I believe that to be true; whereas, Canadians tend not to wear any flag, anywhere. Is that because Canadians are ashamed? Or, is it because Canadians feel inferior to their southern neighbour, that sleeping giant ever so close to home? That is not to say that Canadians are not proud of their history, or of their accomplishments. It is to say that Canadians simply do not blow their own horn as do the Americans, and therein lies another problem. The Americans tend to be boastful whereas the Canadians tend to be apologetic. That boasting annoys people and might be a reason why so many people and countries turned against the USA following the horrific terrorist attack on the USA three years ago.

Canadians ought to enjoy their country, proclaim its greatness and at the same time do not deny others to do likewise for their country.

Thanks for the comment. Bob

Bob, Thanks for your informative article: one of my college students just wrote that "Canada has no army"--which I could not believe! Because I know you fought bravely in WWII: thus I will direct him to your article, and we'll both await ones in the future.
Ann Ragsdale, English Adjunct, University of Connecticut, Avery Point

I have read your article with great interest. For me, an American, Canada has always seemed a more socially progressive place. I would feel much more comfortable (as a New Yorker) in Canada than much of the rest of the United States. And if the current president is re-elected, I may decide to move up north to Quebec or Ontario!

What a sick, stupid person boborrick must be. The bile that poured from this man must have come from his anal cavity because what he said was so much dung, it's unbelivable.

The true problems have always been the doctrinaire conservative???? idiots who think we can go back to the 1800s. We can, of course, if we want to bring back child labour laws, religious discrimination, and discrimination based on eugenics, another failed conservative ploy to bolster the status quo for the wealthy.

I'd really like to hear what boborrick thinks a just society means. Just don't bother my money, eh?

That's the real agenda of the Conservatives. That and don't think you're as good as me because I pray to Mammon Monday to Saturday and to Jesus H. Christ for an hour or so on Sunday.

The election of Paul Martin as a Liberal minority is more the electorate telling the Liberals, "Okay! we know that the only reasonable governments throughout Canadian history have been Liberals, but you're not perfect. Nor are you above the law. Clean up your act or the next time we'll elect the stupid doctrinaire and when you come back it will take you another ten years to clean up after them." Denis

Bob's Response.

The writer - who fails to identify his location- attacks conservativism but in the same breath suggests it might well form the next government. One would think that if conservatism is so against this person's view of what is 'just,' then he would campaign to build up the Liberals so that in the next election, they, and not the Conservatives, would trimuph. Note here that the word conservatism is not a political party but an ideal that has served Canada and other counrtries well as a counter to the liberalism of the Liberals. It is a bit unclear whether or not the writer is opposed to conservatism or to the Conservative Party.

I would be interested in learning the age of the writer- his invective suggests he is among the younger set [I count anyone under 50 years as the younger set] and who has not seen the damage that the LIberals' 'just society' enunciated by former NDPer turned Liberal PE Trudeau hung on Canada about 40 years ago.

As to what I would call a just society; that is easy to answer. A just society is one where indiviuals are permitted to live their lives according to the laws of the land and the mores of society and without increasing interference by politicians and bureaucrats who feel they know better, simply because they are politicians or bureaucrats. People who toil daily ought to be able to enjoy the fruit of their labour [excuse the cliche']. Companies ought to be able to commence business and prosper accoriding to their management's skills. Government has no business propping up failing [or in some cases, failed] businesses for the simple expedient of political gain. The cost - drain - on the taxpayer is enourmous when such things occur. The beauty of private enterprise is that anyone, everyone, who begins a company has the opportunity to fail. Failue means that the management of the company was not up to the task or, as happens in some instances, the business was not the correct one for that particular place. Competition breeds excellence and excellence is good for the country, its taxpayers and it citizens in general.

I would like to see a just society where education is taught for its own sake and not to satisfy the political ideals of a particular teacher or school board.

I would prefer that more educational institutes insist on educating Canadian youth about the history of this country and less about the political distortions that are a sideshow to the bigger picture.

I would prefer that the federal government got out of the business of interferring in provincial jurisdications, such as health, education and natural resources.

I would prefer that the federal government recognised that Canada needs a strong military - not necessarily a large mlitary but one that is capable to addressing the needs of the country, regardless of what that might be. As we have seen, the military has served the civilian populace admirably in several trouble spots in Canada; the most recent being the forest fires in BC last year. Down through the pages of Canadian history, the military has been there; but not always has it been there adequately prepared thanks to small mindness in Ottawa where the military was seen as a reservoir to be milked to satisfy other ministries' need for more dollars.

A just society would allow ranters such as the writer referred to above to rant and denounce others as he/she saw fit provided, of course, that the rants and denunciations were within bounds of decency.

A just society would respect indivduals and their personal views on myriad matters not the least of which would be religion.

A just society would allow persons to attend their cultural organisations without fear of attack by self-appointed 'judges' who display a degree of narrowness of mind and lack of tolerance simply because the person or persons being attacked are of a different skin colour, speak a different language or wear clothes not normally associated with the attire of mainstream Canadians.

There is much more but surely that will suffice to address Denis Defalco's concerns.

As to my being sick - well, I do admit to having some medical problems one of which is the result of military action in a war. As to my being a stupid person, I suggest that is incorrect as I have many awards, medals and other items of recognition hanging on my office wall to attest to the fact that I am not stupid. Each of those awards/medals reveal that I have contributed to a 'just society' and have had one of those contributions recognised by the federal government.

Stupid? Perhaps the writer ought to consult a mirror.

Thanks for the opportunity to respond.

Response to Bob's Response

I'm from Montreal, if that worries you. I never said that the Conservatives might form the next government, I said "Fear the next government might become Conservative and bring back child labour, religious discrimination, and eugenics or Genesis as unquestionalbe truth. I attack Conservatism and the conservatives who believe its simplistic crap. I'm 64 years old and I remember how Brian Mulroney showed the 'Greed is Good' banner to big business and retired into a million dollar mansion in Westmount. It took a long time for the Liberals under Chretien to fix the mess he left behind. Just like the latest round of CEOs making millions of dollars and then leaving the people who made it for them to the wolves.

I find it disconcerting that the Conservative Model-T mentality believes they can achieve individuality, strong will and a mysterious, indefinable capacity different from other mortals, using outdated, and discounted laissez-faire principles. They actually believe that the free-flow of the market has the insight of the almighty to back it up. It was Mulwrongey, the big conservative, who sold Canada out to that simplistic mentality in the USA with the Free-Trade???? Agreement. Now we can't sell soft wood lumber or beef to the people we made the great agreement with.

It was Paul Martin as finance minister under Chretien who brought Canada back into the black and gave it hope for the future. That Chretien and the Liberals made some big mistakes, in believing that if they poured a paltry few millions into Quebec PR, they could stop separatism. Quebec, including Liberals who stepped up to the pork barrel and pocketed the small change, laughed at them and taught them a lesson. Not by voting Conservative, but voting Bloc Quebecois, their usual ploy of balancing the Federal and Provincial governments through opposition. Liberals in Quebec these days, opposition needed in Ottawa, Bloc Quebecois. They weren't stupid enough to go Conservative. We learned a lot from the Progressive Conservatives. When they took the Progressive out of their name and united with that funny western bunch, Ha-Ha Reform, they became Conservative Conservatives. How dim do they think people are?

The way I've translated Conservative rhetoric tells me that they think "If you can't see or understand the complex forces in an economy, it's probably not necessary, eh?" Conservatives are the hollow and stuffed people full of doctrinaire cant. I wish it was possible for them to understand that simplistic solutions seldom even satisfy the simpletons who vote for them.

I think I would have voted NDP this time except that Alexa McDonagh wasn't leader any more and the present little guy thinks debate means shouting match. They had some good ideas. I don't worry about it because I know that the Liberals will adopt good policies, no matter where they arise and use their managerial capacity to make them work. I think that they understand better than most that government involves human beings who, however serious, are often inept, uncertain and self-contrdictory, and some even crooked, but they are, in short human and needful of protection, too.

I'm a little concerned that boborrick got bamboozled back in the seventies and is still fighting Pierre Elliot Trudeau's Just Society. I'd like to inform him that Trudeau died last year. The Just So Society never came to be because all he really wanted to do was make us masters in our own house by bringing the constitution home. He had to make it sound very grand but simple to get it through to the electorate. Most didn't care but liked the idea of a giant intellect leading us. Sorry boborrick, it doesn't pay great divicends fighting yesterday's wars. Denis

Bob Again

In reply.

The arguments put forth by the Montrealer are inconsistent; not only do they turn on themselves but also they imply an uncertainly about what is reality and what is myth. In order to better explain the difference in policies between the various political ideologies, I have attached an explanation that is standard in most high school social studies classes.

The Montrealer confuses the proper noun - Conservative, and its derivatives - from the common noun conservatism. The former is a political party whereas the latter is an concept. By reading the attachment, the Montrealer will understand why conservatism came into being.

As to my being "bamboozled back in the seventies" by PE Trudeau and his just society, I plead not guilty. At no time was I tricked by Trudeau, a strong NDPer who saw opportunity over ethics and grabbed the Liberal brass ring all to satisfy his desire to ruin Canada. In many respects, he succeeded.

As to the idea that the free trade agreement has been harmful to Canada is akin to thinking that there actually is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. While it is acknowledged that some companies and employees went out of business or became unemployed because of free trade that is to ignore the many hundreds of new companies and thousands of new employees who had an opportunity to market their products/services into the United States, and latterly, Mexico with the North America Free Trade Agreement. I am reminded of the time in BC when the provincial government told the grape growers in the Okanagan that the public would no longer support their inferior product. No longer would the province promote their wines while denying the importation and promotion of Ontario wines as well as wines from other places. The resulting hue and cry was deafening but the government stuck to its guns with the end result that in a few years the growers' turn away from a coddled group into a private enterprise operation resulted in BC wines winning international awards for excellence. The idea that a government has to prop up a failing company is tantamount to theft of public funds; also, it is one of the main reasons the Americans lobbied to have certain Canadian practices revoked as being contrary to the free trade agreements.

With respect to the soft wood industry, the primary source of that product is BC with Ontario and Quebec contributing but a mere drop in the bucket compared to BC. The American producers of wood product lobbied Congress to have the Canadian product - a better product and much in demand in the United States, especially the southern USA - impose a tariff on the importation of Canadian softwood. The Canadians rallied against the American arrogance and on three occasions have won their case. The Canadians took the issue to the free trade agreement table and won; they took the issue to the world and won. The tariff has been reduced and the Americans were ordered to return some or all of the money collected via the tariff. The American's stalling has little to do with free trade but a lot to do with the lobby groups in Washington that have the ear of Congressmen who support the idea of 'protectionism.' The free trade agreements have worked and will continue to work despite what some naysayers say in contrary comments.

As to the beef industry, the core of the fault lies with the Liberals in Ottawa. Some years ago, during Chretien's days as a self-proclaimed demi-god, three bureaucrats - scientists - raised alarm bells about the possibility of BSE in Canadian beef if the importation of animal feed containing animal byproducts was not restricted or curtailed. Their words were ignored. In time, they were fired - not by a Conservative government but by a Liberal one. The firing was upheld by current PM Paul Martin. So, the problem that befell the Canadian beef industry - interestingly, during my time in Montreal I failed so see cattle grazing on pastures there - is in a real sense a failure of the Liberal government of Chretien upheld by Martin. Free trade had nothing to do with it; however, the Americans along with other countries, in protecting their citizens, banned the importation of Canadian beef. Would Canada have done otherwise had it been the Americans who exported tainted beef to Canada? One thinks not; however, on closer examination, possibly it would have considering that the Liberals were and are in power in Ottawa - with, one might add, a minority government. That fact has to tell Canadians something about how much not in love with Martin and his Liberals the country is.

As to my fighting "yesterday's wars" [note, that I corrected your grammar in your quote] I do not; I move forward. I do, however, recollect how devastating the Trudeau years were to Canada in general and the West in particular. I do not agree that Trudeau was a "giant intellect." He lived the pampered live of a spoiled brat who used his connections - both family and political - to carry out his plan of destruction. He was a fool and embarrassed Canada on more than one occasion. The only thing he did that I agreed with was his action during what has been termed "The October Crisis." He acted swiftly but not necessarily correctly. He over-reacted but he did bring the issue to a head. It might be said that his arrogance - for that is precisely what it was - caused the death of LaPorte. Trudeau acted because someone - a group - had the balls to affront his arrogance and his feeling of self-importance. Trudeau did little if anything for Canada. The idea of the repatriation is a strawman. The country did famously without having the 'constitution' repatriated. Much of the country's progress came under that constitution. Much of the country's regress has come since the constitution has been repatriated.

The Montrealer will live to his dying days opposed to conservatism and the Conservative Party. As to the idea that once the Party removed the Progressive from its name to embrace the Reform [Alliance, actually] ideology, the Party merely returned to its roots. The Progressives were a party who long ago combined with the then Conservatives to form the Progressive-Conservatives. The true conservatives in the Conservative Party are the non-Red Tories, not the Red-Tories such as Joe Clark and Brian Mulroney. A check on Mulroney's policies will reveal a strong attachment to socialism/liberalism and thus he was and probably remains a Red Tory. Canada has not had a true conservative prime minister for longer than the Montreal chap has lived.

Mulroney's ability to use his abilities to amass a reasonable amount of money has nothing to do with where he lives. As one person who used his previous position, and connections. to enhance his wealth [not a great amount from reports] he was and is no different from various other Liberals who have gone on to parlay their understanding of government in private business. I, too, used my government/political experience to assist others when dealing with government. It is a procedure that is recognised as being legitimate. What sullies it is when former government people use their connections to circumvent the tried and true system of competition. Of course, in order to succeed, they would need to deal with officials whose ethics are less than standard and who morals are of the lower level and who have no compunction twisting or even breaking laws.

The Montrealer is entitled to his opinions - Lord knows many Canadians fought and some died for his right to oppose [I wonder if the Montrealer ever put his life on the line for others] . I, on the other hand, believe strongly in free enterprise and as a former entrepreneur have more than just a passing understanding of its ups and downs. My learning came from being not from reading.

Incidentally, his use of invective in his earlier message reveals much about him. I rest my case. Bob


I now see why you have such a simplistic viewpoint if that's your source for information. It is a part of the reason I don't hold with conservatism. Not only is it wrong but is so filled with simplistic doggerel, it's like somebody has said you don't need to know anything, memorize this and you'll get a passing grade because I'll be grading.

For one thing, there is no mention of monarchy, and SURPRISE Canada's not a democracy but a monarchy, as the United States is not a democracy but a Republic. Both systems are based on the idea that the populace at large shouldn't have enough power to unseat the wealthy from controlling offices. It also completely avoids some of the more populous forms of government, religious government as in the muslim countries and oligarchies such as many of the third world countries practic.

I'm not surprised that the only thing boborrick agrees with is the Draconian actions of PE Trudeau. And I guess I'm not too surprised that he sides with the terorist FLQ which was a very, very, very small portion of the Quebec thought at the time. I can see where that falls into the idea that you must go and fight for your country, right or wrong, and take pride in the medals you were awarded for killing people under orders by officers who weren't fighting for anything but higher rank.

I've been in the military. It's not run on high ideals about serving your country or anything noble. It's a job. And it's a job the soldiers don't really want to do most of the time, it interferes with their drinking time.

I expect that I will be placed in that large class "who morals are of the lower level" as boborrick thinks anyone with liberal tendencies are, but I'd like to propose that the Conservatives take up the emblem that most suits their politics, the three monkeys who see no eveil, hear no evil, say no evil, unless it is Liberalism.

Bob Again

Inasmuch as the writer states that he was in the military, and his silly ideas that "it's not run on high ideals about serving your counatry or anything noble." His continuing comment about "drinking time" suggests that this person saw his time - probably the minimun - as being nothing more than a hiccup in his life as a ?

For his information, I joined to serve my country and I did not kill people under orders by "officers who weren't fighting for anything but higher rank." Such comments belong in the trash can as they demean the honour of all members of the military.

It appears that this person has made up his mind [?] about everything that he does not agree with [I still have no idea what he agrees with or is opposed to other than whatever it is, he is in an antsy mood]. For his information, I did not and do not side with the "terrorist FLQ."

Moreover, I know the difference between a confederation and a republic as would most high school students.

As to the monarchy, what has that to do with liberalism or conservatism? I am not a monarchist, but do respect QEII for her vigour and dilligence in the face of continual shennigans by her HOuse of Windsor offspring.

Canada is a democracy, that is, it is a country that has a system of government by the whole population through elected representatives. We call those elected representatives Members of the HOuse of Commons at the federal level. Both Canada and the United States of America are democracies; one, Canada is a confederation whereas the USA is a republic. For edification, in a republic the head of government is also the head of state whereas in a confederation the head of governement is not the head of state. That is why the president of the USA receives a 21-gun salute while the prime minister of Canada receives a 19-gun salute. The monarch is the head of state for Canada and that is about as close to the monarchy as I wish to be. Incidently, I have attended at and assisted in security for QEII during one of her visits to Canada. All that aside, I am still not a monarchist.

I know not where the idea of "enough power to unseat the wealthy from controlling offices" comes from. As to the use of the singualr pronoun 'it' in "It also" I fail to connect it with a previously stated subject, as the previous reference was to a plural subject "both systems."

As to grading, I would give your writer a failing grade.

While I have enjoyed the tete-a-tete, I must get on with important aspects and conduct the affairs for which I am paid to carry out.

Audaces fortuna juvat. Bob

Dear Bob; (response to Fast Ferries Fiasco) About 3 months after the announcement that they were going to build these huge fast cats, I sent a letter to the Vancouver Sun, The Prince George Citizen & a newspaper in Ottawa. These were letters to the editor. As far as I could tell not one printed my predictions of the pending disaster should they go ahead with the project.

Today reading my article is like looking at a history lesson in every way. I predicted that fast cats wouldn't work in these waters for a number of reasons. I have spent years working these waters in fish boats, tugs, salvage boats, pleasure boats & on the ferries. For 8 years, I had a contract, which was an environmental clean up project. This operation operated in the Nanaimo Harbour & adjacent Northumberland Channel, including Dodds & False Narrows. During the months of January & June, the prevailing winds coupled with extreme tides created huge masses of debris. These are nature's collection of logs, stumps, trees, floats, old derelict boats, plastic & any other type of waste, generated by commerce & residents. Imagine solid mass islands of debris covering in the neighborhood of 3 acres or more. Sometimes this is strung out in several smaller tiderips & sometimes in several huge masses. I have seen a single log that is forty feet long, six feet in diameter, floating horizontally with only 6 inches showing above the surface. Can you imagine the damage cause, when an aluminum vessel traveling at 38 knots, slams into this? Especially if you ram it while it is floating with the end facing toward you. Then of course there are the many deadhead logs that are floating perpendicular, again with very little showing above the surface. Radar is useless in these instances. Rough water & fog, or snow, make these things almost impossible to detect. In summer we have thousands of boats of every description cruising these waters. Can you imagine, the Jones family out for a nice outing in their 25-foot pleasure boat, when a passing ferry sends up a wash, exceeding 8 feet in height?

The coast in this area is a major lumbering area. Log boom areas abound. The wash from these ferries would present a terrible hazard to unsuspecting workers on the log booms. When a normal freighter passes through the Gulf of Georgia, it is an awesome sight to watch the wave action, on log booms tide up 10 miles away. As huge log booms a mile or more in length, suddenly surge ahead, 10 or 20 feet, it takes a good 5 minutes for things to settle down again. The ferries were built to fit the existing ferry slips & are far too narrow, as are the two super ferries. They roll like pigs in bad weather & are dangerous to passengers while navigating Active Pass, which is part of the daily route. The ferries immediately began having stress fractures from poor design. The risk of collision at these speeds is very serious, as we have already had plenty of collisions & loss of life with the old ferries traveling at 21 knots.

Back in the 70's the Socreds, cleared the right of way & had a ferry terminal slated to be built on the Flat Top Islands on the south end of Gabriola Island, with a matching terminal to be built on Iona Island, next to Vancouver airport. Using the old ferries the crossing time was 35 minutes as opposed to the existing 1hour & 35 minutes. The traffic dispersal in Vancouver was perfect, as you would not have a huge crowd of vehicles roaring down the highway, as they do now. Immediately upon leaving the terminal the traffic, would have split up 5 ways .The existing ferry (3 ferries), that service Gabriola Island would be done away with & two very small bridges would take their place. It was the people that live on Gabriola that quashed the project because they didn't want to become a bedroom of Vancouver. I can recall the same folks squawking about wanting better ferries, so they could get to work in Nanaimo, back in the sixties.

Maybe we should just join all the ferries end-to-end & just drive across, cause we've certainly got enough of them. Some time ago a marine engineer contacted B.C. ferries, telling them that the fast cats could be viable if they ran them slower, using one of the two engines. The speed would then be 23 knots, which is still faster than the old ferries, The fuel costs would become efficient, the stress on the hull no longer would be a factor, & only an investment of $50,000 would modify the water intake system, to overcome the problems that they were experiencing with that. The wave action would no longer be a problem. It seems to me that the politicians were bent on getting rid of the fast cats, purely because they stood to gain politically, by condemning them because they were the brainchild of the NDP. It seems to me that even stripping the machinery out of them & using them for floating convention centres would be better than just giving them away like they did. Didn't they just announce that they were going to build a trade & convention centre & also create a fast ferry system to service the Olympics in Whistler? Oh well!! Here we go again!!! Regards Hank Rempel Chemainus B.C.

Bob's Response

This is what happens when people who have no knowledge of the sea turn their hands to marine matters. While they might turn their hands, their minds remain in neutral in a state of stupor unable to comprehend sensible comment from those who do know something of the sea. The same sort of stupidity seems to take hold of those who are 'landlubbers' and who purchase or rent a small boat and take it out for a 'spin' in Georgia Strait. They have no knowledge of the weather or of how high the wake from a passing ship - ferry or warship or freighter or tanker or container vessel or a goody-sized fishboat - can be. Such people, along with the idiocy of politicians who know little but pretend they know much, are the cause of most of our difficulties that occur upon the sea. Georgia Strait, as you know, is not a small, inland lake; the Strait can become a bit furious when ignorant people tempt fate.
Thanks for the comment. Bob

To Mr. Bob Orrick

I just read you're article War, Yes or No (found at War, Yes or No. I am kinda inspired by you're essay since you're arugments on War against Iraq is adequate. However, I have a few questions in my mind that I hope maybe you can answer.

1. How is the U.N. becoming a toothless tiger? What are the constraints that ties its hands?

2. Do you think the U.S. is using its super military power to act as a bully in international affairs?

Bob's Response

In my opinion, the United Nations has become irrelevant to world affairs. Its makeup today encompasses many countries with a multitude of cultures and religions and because of this, it is difficult for the General Assembly to arrive at a consensus. Long-standing feuds between competing countries has rendered the international body 'toothless.' Fifty or so years ago, the UN was relevant and was able to act swiftly and correctly to remove North Korea and Communist China from South Korea. The invasion by the North was unwarranted and the UN acted decisively to correct the communist intrusion. Today, it seems that the UN is incapable of agreeing on the time of day little alone on which day of the week it is. I believe strongly that the United Nations will soon become the League of Nations of the 1930s. As with the League of Nations, the United Nations is in many respects the brainchild of the USA. The USA used its 'might' after WWI to convince the nations of the world - and recall that many nations of that time were colonies of the established countries such as Great Britain and France - to form an international body to ensure that another Great War [the name of WWI at that time] would never happen again. The idea had merit but as is often said, the spirit was willing but the body was weak. Truly, the League of Nations became a 'toothless tiger.' Today's UN is akin to its long-ago cousin, it too, is a toothless tiger.

The Unites States is in a most difficult position vis-a-vis the world. It has the muscle to be a bully but I feel that it does not want to be that bully. However, when the USA sees itself under attack from foreign agents or being vilified worldwide by self-interested, narrow-minded bigots, the urge to turn into a bully must be strong. How often can anyone, you or me or your neighbour, put up with a constant barrage of lies and innuendo coupled with a regular attack on your home before you react with vigour? I suspect we would endure only so much before we reacted; before we became a bully perhaps. The USA will put up with only so many 'one more times' or 'more time' before it says enough is enough and go in and get the darn job done. Granted, people will be killed; that is one of the unpleasant but real by-products of warfare. If that were to happen - that the USA goes it alone or with Britain's help - and is successful [is there any doubt?] in destroying Saddam Hussein's government, the real job will follow. The job that will follow will be a rebuilding of Iraq under a system that is known to and respected by Iraqis. It would be folly for the USA to impose its will, its form of government, on Iraq. The two countries are different in culture and religion as well as historically. Iraq has a history that goes back thousands of years whereas the USA's history is but a drop in the historical bucket by comparison. The primary problem that the Americans have is that they tend to see the world only through their own eyes. I have travelled much of the world and have found that in most cases, nay all cases, the Americans were tolerated because of their money and ability to build things but were despised because of their inability to recognize local culture, religion or form of government.

Will the USA use its military power to act as a bully? Good question, and one that I do not have a firm answer to but I do suspect that the USA will act, and soon, and will let the chips fall where they may. In the eyes of the American president and his advisers, their country is under attack and they intend fully to strike back, swiftly and decisively. For them, the lesser evil would be to do nothing to rid the world of a known greater evil.

I read your well-written article about Mary Southin and her appalling habit (Lingering Smoke) that is being both catered to by Geoff Plant, and, unfortunately, paid for by the people of B.C. I wrote a letter of complaint to Geoff Plant and received, what appears to be, a standard reply outlining the decision to allow Southin to smoke. In turn, I re-wrote to him, but feel frustrated that this is still going on. Like the rest of the province, she ought to be kicked outside if she continues to weep that she just can’t kick the habit. But, what does Plant do? Gives her a well ventilated office so that she’s not made uncomfortable and whines to the rest of us that the people of British Columbia are actually saving money! Unbelievable!!

So, thank you for also taking the time to put into words what the rest of us know to be true.

Keep telling it like it really is!
St. Catharines, Ontario

Bob's Response
Thank you for your comments vis-a-vis Justice Southin.

As a former ministerial assistant to a cabinet minister, I know full well that many if not most of the letter received by constituents - or others with an interest in a matter - are written by either a ministerial assistant or by a bureaucrat in the ministry. If the query was political in nature, then the response would be written by a MA; on the other hand if the issue at hand was a ministry matter, then the response would be drafted by a member of the ministry expert in that particular field. The draft would then be sent to the minister's office for signature and mailing.

It surprises me not that you would have received a response that stated the already known public comment from the minister. Ministers are or try to be rather coy with replies for fear that a written - or spoken - word might come back to haunt them in the future. The oft-heard 'No comment" is a simple way to ensure that a misspoken word will not return later to embarrass the speaker.

Politics is a dirty business and not a business for the faint of heart. The business of government is to win at all cost and at the same time try not to create too many waves that will wash violently against the public shores and create a backlash. [Excuse the metaphors.]

Dear Bob ; We really do appreciate your views on Canadas Militiary might, but you somehow seem to have failed to notice the terror that our Sea King Helicopters instill, in any enemy. Can't you see the wisdom our great leaders have ? Can't you see the terrorstricken enemy tossing in the towel as soon as one of these beasts hover above them ? The fear of parts flying off, or the whole rotating mass, simply dropping out of the sky, on top of you, would make any fearless soul want to change vocation. Also, yes I wholeheartedly agree that our neighbours to the south, have very little knowlege of anything in this world other than the dear old U.S.of A.. So while I was vacationing down in Texas one day I took it upon myself make an attempt to impress them about Canada's militiary might. I was talking to three old geezers, like myself, telling them that Canada had an army that was respected throughout the world. One of these guys, Squinted up at me, with an incredulous look, saying"Canada?" I said ,"sure"!! Another looked at me in disbelief, saying, " Phooey" !! " Canada don't have an army!" So I said " there you guys go again, insulting Canadians!!" "you ever hear of the Salvation Army??" Then I walked away. Keep up the good work. Regards Hank Rempel Chemainus B.C. Canada Eh ? Hank

Letter from Claire
I read your article on Americans ignoring Canadians as just another state. It is, at some point, partly the PM's fault, but not entirely. If you look back through the years, before Mr. Chretien, you will see that on any Television show which required "Trivia Knowledge" even "Who wants to be a Millionaire", if any questions were missed, it was the ones pertaining to Canada. I found Jeopardy (which is hosted by a Canadian) the worst of them. No one ever gets a "Canadian" question correct. I have seen people (tourists) drive through my town with skis on their cars in August! Hollywood Squares is another good example.
So, although I do not care for Mr. Chretiens wishy washy attitude, it is more the fault of the American education system than anything. Their curriculum only centers on their history, geography and political scene.
I also read an article from a Canadian who wrote a column who stated that when any disaster occured throughout the world such as a earthquake or hurricane , typhoon or whatever...the Americans were the first to respond with help. Yet when the hurricanes and tornadoes and earthquakes occur in their country..who goes to their aid? No one....not even the Canadians. So I would ask you to look a bit deeper into the other side of the story, before passing judgment.
Yes, they slight us, but isn't it safer to fly "under the radar", then to have our Country blasted on the front page of the media , as a threat to the world? We know who we are and what we have contributed to the world and we can take satisfaction in knowing we are OUR own way!! I for one am glad when we are not mentioned during their news makes me feel safer. But who do you think would come to our aid if we were attacked?

Bob's Response
Thank for the reader's [viewer, subscriber,?] comment. She is correct; however, in making her point about how the Americans are the first to respond to natural disasters and how she is thankful that Canada is not front and centre in the news, she raises what is called a straw. She obviously missed the point of the article, that is, that Americans do not know much about Canada. This is a known thing and has been so for so many years it is no longer news. What was news, however, was the recent polls that showed, clearly, again, that our cousins to the south [and both my wife and I have cousins to the south] are not educated on a grand scale but have their education restricted to things that directly affect/effect the USA. I have travelled extensively and over those travels have met many Americans; as individuals they are wonderful people. That too, is a given. The reader is correct in that the Americans are gracious, giving and lend aid to others without much more than a 'if you need it, it is there for you.' That was demonstrated many times during WWII. The reader ought to re-read the article and take from it the gist - that is, the lack of knowledge about Canada by the United States.

It is nice to see that someone responded; that is one of the purposes. Dialogue tends to create interest and Lord knows in this country today, more interest is needed by Canadians about Canada.

Letter from Bob G.
I agree with Bob Orrick's views of greater priority requirements for the military funding. Foreign peacekeeping duties appear to have stretched our military to the limit and one has to wonder about the vulnerability of the homeland. Our coastline has proven to be quite porous in the past.

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