Letters for January 22, 1999

Comments ‘taken out of context’

Daniel Huot interviewed me in late November. While I agree with the general thrust of the resulting article (“Canadian trade hurt by Asian crisis,” Centretown News, Dec. 4, 1998) and applaud your paper’s effort to inform its reader on this important issue, there are some corrections I would like to make, for the record.

I am quoted as saying, “I’d be surprised if half the deals signed pull through.” I believe I had preceded this statement with an explanation that a variety of types of deals had been signed. The majority, but not all, of such deals based on the underlying business logic would likely go forward. There were many other agreements, of a preliminary or speculative nature, signed during the various Team Canada missions. My comment related to this category of deals only.

Later in the article, in a discussion about how Prime Minister Chrétien was anxious to chalk-up trade deals and therefore was not in a position to press on human rights abuses, Mr. Huot quotes me as saying, “The leaders of Indonesia and China knew that and laughed at him.” I do not recall saying such a thing and do not, for a minute, believe that the leaders of Indonesia and China would laugh at Canada’s prime minister for raising human-rights issues. My point was that the prime minister placed himself in a situation in which taking a strong stand on human rights during a Team Canada mission would have jeopardized Team Canada’s avowed objective (trade promotion).

Mr. Huot also quotes me as saying, “The Indonesian crisis proves that you can’t conduct business with a non-democratic country.” Again, I cannot recall saying this and do not believe the Indonesian crisis proves any such thing. Canada conducts a good deal of business with a number of non-democratic countries, so how could an economic crisis in one country prove such business isn’t possible?

In summary, the thrust of Mr. Huot’s article is correct — that Canadian trade and the future of Team Canada mission have been hurt by the Asian crisis. The article is weakened, however, by the use of a number of quotes which have been used incorrectly, or out of context, in order to advance positions that I do not hold — and do not lend credence to the argument.

Ted Paterson

North-South Institute

Harb’s survey ‘biased’

As one of the “more than 500” who responded to Ottawa Centre MP Mac Harb’s “NCC proposed plan for Metcalfe Street” survey, I agree with him that it was “not scientific” (Ottawa X Press, Dec. 10). In fact, the survey was biased in favour of the NCC plan, which Harb supports, to widen Metcalfe Street. His survey asked the motherhood question, “Do you like the idea of creating open space south of Parliament Hill?” without mentioning the economic and environmental costs of destroying some of Ottawa’s prime heritage and modern buildings.

The fact that he won’t release the survey results suggests he does not like the answers his constituents gave (500 responses from a single riding is quite a large sample) in spite of the prejudicial wording. Harb concedes this when he admits, “There is no support for the demolition of residential or heritage buildings.” But, as Coun. Elisabeth Arnold points out, you can’t open up even the first block (Sparks Street) without removing heritage buildings.

I applaud Harb’s ongoing initiatives concerning the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and can’t help but wonder how much good the millions (billions? who knows?) required by this nutty plan would yield if spent on the children of Canada and the world instead.

Paul Gross

Flora Street