Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - April 23, 1974, Lethbridge, Alberta
LETHBRIDQE April 29, Lewis wants to have his cake and eat it By Maurice Western, Herald Ottawa commentator Invitation to violence Mr Ray Speaker, MLA for Little Bow. says the feeling against Hutterite land acquisition in his constituency is running so high that unless the government does something more to restrict it. the people will take the law into their own hands And the way he says it. the clear inference is that if there is trouble the fault will be the government's. In spite of Mr. Speaker's attempts to explain it ir, other terms, this is demagoguery of the worst sort. It is a clear invitation to violence. If the Hutterites buy any more land in his constituency, one of his constituents will have sold it. Is it worse for a Hutterite to buy land than for someone to sell it to him? The government's Hutterite policy mav need some amendments but in general it is in the highest traditions of a free and democratic society. Anything less would almost certainly contravene Alberta's Bill of Rights, as well as Canada's, and both are supposed to be more than pious words. A number of persons other than the Hutterites are acquiring large blocks of land in this province. Why does Mr. Speaker single out the Hutterites? Mr. Speaker may not like the current government policy toward the Hutterites, but as long as it is the it is his solemn duty to counsel observance of the law and to censure any suggestion of mob violence. Instead, Mr. Speaker has been the first to suggest publicly that there may be mob violence, and to imply that it would be excused if the law is not changed Shame on him! The world and Watergate It is becoming apparent that President Nixon is losing ground in the one area in which his presidency has been accepted as policy. Illustrative of this point is the fact that the current strategic arms limitation talks between the U.S and the U.S S.R. have become stalled and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger's "conceptual breakthrough" has not materialized The Russians have supported the American president in all their official references to Watergate Nevertheless, it is obvious that, with the intensification of the impeachment situation, they have decided to wait until there is some resolution to this internal U.S matter before getting down to business on the subject of arms limitation And. of course, while the subject is in abeyance, each side pursues the upgrading and expansion of its nuclear arms program another level in the Madness game Observers in Washington report growing evidence that Kissinger is also deeply worried by the impact of impeachment on other issues of basic policy which divide the Soviet Union and the United States, on the matter of troop reduction in Europe, East-West security talks in Europe, the controversial trade program which is in the hands of Congress, and the whole question of the Middle East. The effect of Watergate is also being felt elsewhere abroad. In developing relations with China, where the internal struggles for power within China may be as serious in consequence as the Watergate affair, each side is a little warier in diplomatic encounters. As James Reston reported on this page last week, the deputy premier of China, in his first visit to the West in 48 years, addressed the UN and then had a long, private talk with Kissinger, presumably for mutual assurances of continuing policies. There is another area of world affairs in which the weakening of the U.S. presidency has left a worrisome vacuum. At a time of vast economic upheaval and staggering inflation, the U.S. is unable to offer effective leadership out of the economic difficulties which beset the world. There was something almost as pathetic as it was prophetic in Finance Minister John Turner's comment, in an interview last week, that he remains fully confident the United States will one day lead the world back to economic rationalism. He was quoted as saying, "It has to be the U.S. that takes the lead Turner complimented Kissinger and former Secretary of the Treasury George Schulz for having done a great job and for refusing to panic in the face of economic crisis. Turner did admit, however, that Watergate has had a bad psychological effect around the world. Comments such as this are becoming more frequent and those in Washington, and elsewhere, who had felt that American foreign policy could be insulated from the domestic scandals which have surrounded the president are revealed to be prize wishful thinkers. The whole world is waiting for a resolution to the impeachment situation even more than it is waiting for the sunrise. RUSSELL BAKER Seriousness about sex BOULDER, Colo. Every year about this time the University of Colorado invites six or eight dozen guests, ranging from statesmen through pedagogues, artists, bureaucrats, activists in the cause of social uplift, parsons, publishers, philosophers and even occasionally felons and journalists to come sit on the side of the Rocky Mountains and spend a week talking to students. The toll on visiting jawbones is heavy, and so is the toll on visiting livers as the torrent of gabble flows far into the night on rivers of amber fluid and rampant ego. What wisdom, if any, the students gain from collision with such great minds, it is hard to say, but for the visitors it offers a refreshing chance to check stereotyped impressions of the college psyche against the messy reality. On the basis of this scanty evidence, press reports of a new silence on the campus would appear to misrepresent the situation. Still, things have obviously changed since the last Vietnam spring of 1972. At that time it was the visitors discussing violence who drew the big audiences. This year sex and diabolism are the big drawing cards. There is little comfort for President Nixon, however, in this switch from absorption "in bloodletting to fascination with the joys of Satan and the flesh. In one large audience for a Watergate discussion someone asked for a show of hands on how many believed the president should be impeached and convicted, and here in Republican Colorado scarcely a hand stayed down. A scholar arguing that the president should be retained in office to preserve the detente lost large parts of his audience before getting well warmed up, and in one part of the hall at least, whispered obscenities were issued in reply. Two years ago some of those obscenities might have been shouted. Loud verbal demonstrations of contempt for unpopular arguments were the approved social form then; now an outer shell of good manners is the style. The rage is gone, but not necessarily the contempt. Two years ago, of course, there was a noticeable indifference, if not outright contempt, for the middle aged guests yearning to explain the organization of humanity, and this revealed itself in the yawning emptinesses that awaited many a visiting panelist arriving at a lecture hall to share his wisdom. OTTAWA Not since the Liberal majority vanished in the chill of October 1972 has the Trudeau government endured an experience quite so bleak as the ordeal of Easter week. It was not solely the absence, for part of the time, of the prime minister. Indeed, it is arguable that the Liberals missed John Turner more for he seems on occasion to be the only minister capable of rallying the government's forces. In any event, the administration, distracted by spreading strikes and ever rising living costs, gave the impression that it was drifting helplessly with events. To make matters worse the ministers devised a strategy It is a sad blow to the self-esteem to go forth to explain the world to youth and find that youth is not interested. This year such humiliations were rare. Respectable turnouts occurred even for dissertations on subjects as arcane as Congress and the Queen of England. At a guess, one thing that is different is a higher level of curiosity about the variety of the world. "We're not one young man said "We're just waiting for something, and we want to be ready when the time comes All will surely be ready for the great American sexual feast, judging from the enthusiastic attendance at every panel concerned with the flesh and its troublesome demands. The level of student sophistication about politics would bore a barber, but on matters sexual most of the campus appears fully qualified for the PhD. They packed rooms in which sex was to be discussed in all its aspects and confidently lectured those middle-aged panelists whose views of the matter were ill-informed. The exception was a panel on the joys and agony of homosexuality, which, though fully attended, could scarcely rouse a question from an audience that sat in rapt attention for two full hours. This is, of course, Colorado. Elders who revere the social forms will not be cheered by the casual attitude toward sexual encounter voiced everywhere as the approved social norm. Indeed, so general is the acceptance of the active and variegated sex life that the only embarrassing confession one could make in public would be an admission of monogamous heterosexuality. What is most curious, however, is the serious study which is given to a subject that lies at the heart of so much great comedy. A panel devoted to discussing whether or not to reproduce and, if so, in what social conditions produced among women students a spontaneous discussion of an order that would have done credit to a United Nations commission on world population. So much seriousness about sex is undoubtedly a healthy sign of maturity, but after a week's exposure to it one cannot help wondering whether sex really shouldn't be a bit more frivolous than the World Bank and the United States Senate. It could be a trend to make us all yearn for a return to the good old days of kidnapping the dean and firebombing the physics lab. which seemed almost designed to advertise their own shortcomings. Whatever the merits of Marc Lalonde's football bill, it ought not to have been on last week's agenda; not with the airports closed, the seaway pilots out, the postal strike exploding, the traffic controllers serving their ultimatum and more bad news from the inflation front. But the government, which determines what business shall be discussed, chose to bring on the football debate and, having done so, almost immediately began pleading with the Conservatives to call off the discussion. The government can, of course, do that whenever it chooses, merely by moving to other business. Regardless of the agenda, a debate of sorts about economic policy goes on daily in question period. What was noticeable last week was the government's almost pathetic insistence that the strike wave is unrelated to surging costs and prices. It is the argument of Robert Stanfield that there is such a relationship and that the current shutdowns represent "only the tip of the iceberg of labor unrest." It is doubtless true, as Messrs. Drury and Marchand maintain, that each strike has its own peculiarities; the postal strike, for example, having originated in fear of technological change. But it is normally the case that strikes originate in varying grievances. What is abnormal is the fact that so many strikes are now occurring amid signs and portents that we are headed into a summer of industrial strife. For obvious reasons, the argument that inflation breeds strikes is extremely plausible. With prices now rising at more than 10 per cent annually, people will naturally try to protect themselves. But what constitutes protection? Cost of living settlements mirror rates of inflation already experienced but fear centres on the accelerated rate which employees anticipate. It is difficult to see "Let's begin with where you claim depreciation on your wife.' Declining birthrate a good thing By James Reston, New York Times commentator WASHINGTON The birthrate in the United States, according to the government's National Centre for Health Statistics, has now dropped to its lowest point in history, and judging by the bare facts all around us, this is not because sex has gone out of style. The government, which somehow keeps track of these things, tells us, with all of the emotion of the multiplication table, that "the national fertility rate" whatever that means, dropped in 1973 to 1.9 children per family (have you ever tried to raise nine tenths of a little and that there were births or thereabouts last year, the lowest number since 1945. Also, the officials tell us that if the trend of more sex and fewer babies goes on like this, the population of the United States will "level off" to "zero growth" sometime in "the first half of the 21st century." On the whole, this is good news. Already we are producing more people than we can understand or govern, and our mental growth obviously leveled off long ago. Our bodies are running ahead of our minds, and while our record is better than most nations, we cannot quite find enough money, jobs, schools, houses, or transportation to keep up with the fertility of our people. So apparently the people have decided to adjust themselves to the government, which is a switch. All the other government tables are going up prices, unemployment, interest rates, crime, even rape (which is odd considering the availability of but the population index is going down. The interesting thing about this, of course, is not the statistics but the philosophy, not whether this is a good or a bad thing but why? Never has any society advertised and glorified sex as much as America and shot so many blanks. George Gallup suggests some of the reasons ,for the decline in the "including the cost of living, particularly the cost of education, widespread use of contraceptives, concern RBY'S WO "Let's this like mature adults. I'll flip you to see who runs away from over crowded conditions and overpopulation, more liberal abortion laws, and changing values and lifestyles as reflected by woman's liberation." He could probably have added to his list: the uncertainty of life in America today, the decline in respect for the authority of the family and the church; the doubt whether the young want to repeat the hard work and the experience of their parents; the widespread acceptance of divorce; the easy satisfaction of sex and entertainment; in short, the increasing freedom and mobility of the young and their hesitation to commit themselves to anyone or anything for life. "Live it up, and throw it out." Gallup, when he looked into all this, confirmed the obvious. Producing and raising five or six kids was a bit of a tussle, and eight or nine even on the old farm was unthinkable. Two children, he found, were about right, but only one was a problem both for the parents and the child. All responsibility for the old folks and no help from the other kids. What Gallup's poll did not deal with is the increasing number of couples, married and unmarried, who want no children at all. My favorite family reporter, Russell Baker, has just been out at the University of Colorado, running away from Watergate, and tossing around life with the undergraduates. He found, if I heard him right, that the topic of sex, otherwise, was old stuff. The young pretended that it was an appetite that could be satisfied as naturally as eating or breathing, which is a lie, but anyway they were much more interested and concerned about the larger problem of commitment to a life of raising children. "Do you take this child for better or for worse, till death do you That is a harder question, even in these days of disbelief, than "do you take this You cannot divorce your own child but you can avoid the problem. You can do what you like, free at last to have and to hold until something better turns up. No promises either way. "Who gives this woman7 Who takes this The trend toward smaller families and even toward planned spinsterhood has some obvious advantages for society as a whole. It eases the nightmare of doubling the population every 40 years and make the problem of planning and governing life a And yet there may be a paradox in the current trend. For the young seem to be longing for something to believe in these days, and the family is probably the last refuge they have. On the one hand the argument is made that this is a rotten and dangerous world, full of wars, crooks, crime, and dope, so why subject one more soul to its brutality? On the other hand, if it is true, as charged, that the preachers are not to be believed, the politicians not to be trusted, and society as a whole is a jumble of lies and tricks, then the family, with ail its struggles, is still about the best bet available. Maybe even better than being liberated into loneliness. One day the government statisticians may expand their efforts measure not only the GNP and the population but the growth of happiness. Meanwhile the latest figures are reassuring. If we can't handle the people we've got, why double the problem? how such an atmosphere can fail to provoke strike agitation. There is also the rather embarrassing fact that the government's own offer to the striking firemen is already being ritcd by other discontented unions. The government had other worries last week. There is less and less likelihood that the early election, now generally anticipated, can be avoided. There is none if David Lewis meant what he said, according to his prepared notes, in a Toronto speech. His words were: "The differences between the Liberals and the NDP have become irreconcilable." If they are irreconcilable, Mr. Turner obviously cannot be expected to reconcile them in his budget assuming that the government survives until budget night. The Lewis speech was ominous for another reason. It affords a remarkably clear preview of an NDP strategy which could hurt the Liberals, probably to the benefit of the Conservatives, in populous eastern centres. In parts of Ontario and Quebec, the Liberals and New Democrats appeal to much the same constituency of voters Indeed, the Bourassa Liberals now like to talk of "Quebec social democracy" and there may even be a bit of symbolism in the premier's visit to social democratic Sweden. Mr. Lewis divided his speech into two parts. In the first, he took credit for the more palatable policies of the Trudeau administration. "It may be useful to remind Canadians of what the first session of this Parliament was able to accomplish with the initiative of the NDP caucus Then came a listing of those very items in the government's record to which the Liberals presumably intend to point with pride. If there are imperfections in any of these policies, Mr. Lewis explains that they are present because they were implemented not by an NDP but by a Liberal government. But the NDP leader, having appropriated the better part of the Liberal record, disclaims responsibility for the darker and less popular parts Grave problems remain unsolved and the Liberals, he suggests, have shown themselves incapable of solving them Accordingly, he puts forward a nine point program which, in his view, will protect us against inflation while ensuring greater justice and equality, more security and a fair and equitable tax system. Mr. Lewis, in other words, is determined to have his cake and eat it. For the good things of government, we are to thank the NDP, which kept the government in office. But for the failures of government, we- are to blame the Liberals, carefully averting our eyes from the ju- nior partners who did, of course, sustain the government while it was producing these lamentable results. It has been usual for parties in power positions to stand on their records, not on half their records. For mat reason, Mr Lewis ,nay have difficulty in selling such an agrumenl to many voters. But there is no doubt that the government has repeatedly made what appeared to be concessions to the New Democratic party. It has always been clear that there were great political risks in this course. Mr. Lewis, an experienced and accomplished politician, has now spelled out the nature of those risks He has served notice that he intends to make a case which may seem plausible to wavering voters in areas which the Liberals must hold in the early election now apparently decreed by David Lewis. With troubles inside Parliament and ominous portents outside Parliament, it was certainly not a week to be treasured in memory by the ministers of a hard pressed government. The Lethbridge Herald 504 7th St. S. Lethbrldge. Alberta LETHBRIDQE HERALD CO. LTD Proprietors and Second CUM Mall Regulation No. 0012 CLEO MOWERS. Editor ind Publisher DON H. 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