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McGill Reporter
December 13, 2001 - Volume 34 Number 07
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Letters

To the editor:

The Reporter appears to have abandoned coverage of Senate meetings. Is this true? If so, why?

David Levy
Program director, English as a Second Language
Department of Languages and Translation

We sailed through most of the semester without anyone asking about Senate coverage, but I've been getting an earful of late from a few readers.

There was no decision taken to stop covering Senate per se. It's just that Senate meetings have coincided to a remarkable extent with production periods for the paper this past semester and on those days Reporter staff are pretty much chained up in the office, putting the final touches to the paper.

A number of readers have recently approached me requesting that I cover Senate more regularly in the future, the most persuasive among them civil engineering and applied mechanics professor Ronald Gehr. Gehr argued that Senate provides a rare opportunity for McGill faculty, students and staff to hash out the major issues of the day. It also provides members of the McGill community with a chance to question the administration on its approach to running this place.

Okay, I get it. We'll make a greater effort to cover Senate in the issues to come -- starting with the newspaper you're holding now.

To the editor:

The lecture by Michael Marrus that you reported on in your last issue ("Did the Vatican do enough?," November 22) was marred with a host of unsupported observations emanating from Professor Marrus, whose main theme was that Pope Pius XII (Eugenio Pacelli) just "did not get it when it came to the Holocaust."

This is in direct conflict with the statements made years ago by Israel's prime minister Golda Meir. This esteemed Israeli leader had commended Pius XII and the Catholic Church for doing more than any other religion to save Jewish lives during WW II.

As for the allegations that the pope did not understand or know anything about Jewish people, the young Eugenio Pacelli had a close teenage Jewish friend at secondary school in Rome. On Pius XII's death in 1958, Dr. Guido Mendes told The Jerusalem Post about the friendship, of how he and the future pope visited each other's homes, and shared interests.

When the Italian fascist regime passed anti-Semitic laws, then Cardinal Pacelli, papal secretary of state, helped the Mendes family get to Switzerland and later obtained immigration certificates allowing them to go to British-controlled Palestine.

Professor Marrus came across to me like an old cartoon from the mid-1950s depicting a scene in the Ozarks. A resident is explaining to a tourist at a gas station just how dumb his cousin really is... "he don't know the war's over..." Neither, it would seem, does Professor Marrus.

Surely a proper debate format would obviate this kind of misinformed innuendo. Unfortunately, this presentation did nothing to shed any light on the tragedy of WW II.

W.A. Sullivan

To the editor:

I was really moved by the personal letter Principal Shapiro sent to all staff members in November. It shows his consideration "for those less fortunate than we are" with his heart-breaking personal request for Centraide, and his $200,000 challenge.

Do not worry, Dr. Shapiro, it can be easily done and by working together we can even reach $1,000,000. I think many staff members would like the idea of pledging to Centraide all the pay increases they got in recompense for a heavier work load after the job purges which have taken place under your outstanding leadership over the last seven years.

In spite of this painful operation, which was executed with laser precision, McGill still exists and the best employees are left and work as if nothing had happened.

We are really thankful for being wisely chosen to remain and continue our dedicated work for McGill under your guidance, which now enables us to pledge to Centraide. Probably, the amount of money saved by McGill has already been carefully calculated by our hard working HR and their APO/APR trustful helpers. After our pledge, they will be more than happy to announce this amount publicly and move the money from dark safes into the empty hands of the real poor.

With $1,000,000 collected, we could win the Canadian contest for staff generosity, so smartly initiated by you at the university level. This would help distract public attention from the biased Maclean's university ranking, which has been meanly putting us at lower and lower positions over the last decade.

It is very important for our McGill community to announce our generosity nationally and create, as you say, "a better place for all of us." To make our first place in Canada really sure, many staff members would be delighted to pledge the unpaid, but wisely invested, difference between their pay raise and that of the average manager.

You must know, Dr. Shapiro, this great feeling when mature people start to share with others and give away their material treasures. It's wonderful to balance out the greed of others. So, in the spirit of a "big bang of generosity" which you initiated, I also pledge the full amount of money (100%, not 50% or less!) for my as yet unpaid part of the Sun demutualization fund.

We should remember that this modern world is nicer to those who know all the legal and tax tricks, and fortunately McGill has the best experts in those fields. A few years ago, they obtained about $64 million for the University with tricky tax manipulations.

Let the McGill lawyers now help with our Centraide pledge, so that it receives the best tax deductions.

Only by working with our great administration can we learn generosity from each other and smartness in outsmarting others!!!

Slawomir Poplawski
Technician
Department of Mining, Metals and Materials Engineering

To the editor:

In his letter (October 25), Jan Weryho unfairly claims that I am hostile to refugees. I am definitely not. I have always believed that all nations have an obligation to help those who are persecuted because of their religious, ethnic, or political stripe. Unfortunately, most of the refugees entering Canada do not belong to oppressed minorities. Most belong to the dominant religious, ethnic, or political group from the country or region from which they originate. For example, the majority of refugees from South Asia, who represent a large portion of those entering Canada, fall into this category. Most of the refugees from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and the Punjab belong to the dominant Bengali Muslim, Punjabi Muslim, and Punjabi Sikh communities, respectively. Very few of the refugees belong to persecuted religious or ethnic groups. For example, only a very small fraction of the refugees from Bangladesh or Pakistan belong to the oppressed Christian, Hindu, or tribal minorities. And almost none are women. My main fear is that these economic refugees will eventually limit our ability to help legitimate asylum seekers. I have already sensed a growing resentment among Canadians against immigrants. To an extent, this resentment is unavoidable, as many of the economic refugees enter Canada through deception and strain our social services. A large number of the refugees collect social assistance and concurrently work in the underground economy. Most of them are consequently well off and have a higher income than other immigrants who perform similar work. The growing resentment against immigrants has already had consequences for Canada's immigration policies: Canada is no longer promoting family reunification and is also considering limiting the inflow of skilled workers from certain countries. This is quite ironic of course, as the abuses by the illegal migrants have adversely affected those who wish to enter the country legitimately. Another concern I have is the transplantation of ethnic and religious prejudices from countries where intolerance is on the rise. Some of the refugees from Bangladesh for example, have strong prejudices against those who are neither Bengali nor Muslim. While living in Montreal in the Park Extension area, I was threatened at least a dozen times. I fear that the situation here will degenerate to that in England where there have been frequent clashes between poor whites and economic refugees from South Asia. The smaller but older and more established Hindu community, which has attempted to distance itself from the violence, has been victimized by both sides. I fear that this will happen here as well. The problems with the immigration system are likely to continue as the federal government has found it expedient to turn a blind eye towards the abuses. The communities who benefit most from the ineffectual refugee policies are politically very powerful, and their political clout continues to increase. The Liberal party, which gets their votes, has been more than happy to maintain the status quo. Eventually the exploitation of the refugee system will prevent us from helping those who need our help the most. There are millions of legitimate refugees who would like us to take their plight seriously. We can do more to help them. We can begin by limiting the influx of economic refugees and speed up the processing of legitimate refugees. This should help genuine refugees establish themselves more quickly here and permit their family members to be more quickly reunited with them. This will of course still only help those refugees who have the resources to make it here. Ultimately, Canada and other concerned nations must proactively ensure that no one around the world is persecuted because of ethnic, religious, or political reasons.

Bharat Kewmar
B.Sc. '93

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