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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - March 7, 1974, Lethbridge, Alberta 4-THE LETHBRIDQE HERALD Thurtday, March 7, Those Federal threats! BERRY'S WORLD Language choice The language issue has flared again in Quebec. In 1969 the St. Leonard crisis was settled by legislation giving parents the right to choose French or English as the language of instruction for their children. Now this no longer seems entirely satisfactory to those concerned about the survival of the French language. A modification is being proposed that would take the right of choice of the language of instruction away from immigrant parents. Children who cannot pass a test of competency in English would be required to take instruction in French. This proposal arises as a result of studies which show that 85 per cent of immigrants have been opting for English. Coupled with a spectacular drop in the birth rate in the French community, the absorption of immigrants into the English community raises afresh the spectre of the ultimate disappearance of French. Despite the progress that has been made in Quebec in the use of French in industry, immigrants apparently are not convinced that it is to their advantage or to the advantage of their children to concentrate on the learning of that language. To them it is evident that English is the language of commerce in North America and that if they want to keep open the option of mobility, that is the language to acquire. All the legal considerations of the proposed restriction on immigrants are being thoroughly investigated and debated. While it seems regrettable that any kind of coercion should be deemed necessary it is true, as the proponents of enforced French argue, that people coming into Canada are not required to settle in Quebec. If such a law is found to be constitutional immigrants can settle the language issue in a prior decision of where to live. Free admission for students The separate school superintendent, Ralph Himsl, is surely right in suggesting that students should be permitted free admission to the Canada Winter Games when they are staged in this area next year. Unless this is done the major justification for closing the schools during the period could disappear. Whatever educational value there might be in the games can only be gained if the young people attend the events. Some might not be able to afford to attend. Others, who are not especally interested in athletic competition, wouldn't want to spend their money on admission. In order to get the students to the games, then, the provision for free admission is needed. Members of the games committee might be reluctant to make this concession in view of the need for revenue to offset the cost of staging the games. But if the schools had remained open there would have been no potential day-time revenue from students anyway. Besides, the gaining of school facilities and the volunteer service of both teachers and students more than offset any loss of revenue that might come from granting free admission to students. Such a concession, of course, need not apply in the evenings and the weekend. Students should pay their way then with the rest of the populace. The Danish cure Along with the rest of the world, Denmark is suffering from inflation, with a rate of increase that exceeds 10 per cent annually. By way of comparison, Canada's rate of inflation last year was T.I per cent. In the view of many economists, including the president of the West German Bundesbank, when inflation reaches two figures the economic system changes character and such a rate of price increases should set off the loudest of alarm bells. The Danes are alarmed, but partly at the possible consequences of the tough measures taken by the minority Liberal government to counter this rampant inflation. In order to restrain private spending, a classical anti-inflation goal, the Danish Parliament has ordained a system of enforced savings for all incomes above kroner. This is the equivalent of Canadian. Savings will be extracted in six instalments on a sliding scale from four to nine per cent and will be held in commercial banks for three years. From that point on, one-fifth of the savings will be released each year until the entire forced savings scheme, which is a one-shot operation, is closed out. While there is some criticism of this measure for a variety of reasons, the principal objection is that it may well be nullified by reaction to a second anti- inflationary measure taken by the government. Wages in Denmark are automatically tied to the cost of living index and they rise as the index rises. The state proposes to pay subsidies to employers as wages rise, to prevent having wage increases passed on to the consumer. This second measure has met opposition from some sectors of private industry, which apparently do not want public subsidies. A leading industrialist and shipowner has already announced that instead of keeping the government subsidy he will pass it along to his employees to compensate them for their forced savings. (If these savings are considered a tax, the forced savings measure will put many middle-income workers over the 50 per cent tax If the practice of passing the subsidy on to workers is widely followed, it will negate the government's plan to take money out of circulation. Furthermore, since the next cost of living increase is expected to bring a subsidy of about million, this could possibly put more money into circulation than at present and simply increase the inflationary trend. In other words, the cure may be worse than the disease. Woild the leaden from the political wOdemess care to comment on the throne By W.A. Wilson, Montreal Star commentator OTTAWA There is a disconcerting and unwelcome contrast between the tough threats with which the federal government now approaches provinces and the softness, with which it walks when a foreign government is involved. The prime minister's meeting with Premier Lougheed was preceded by a series of public threats which have little precedence in contemporary federal- provincial relations, at least on the part of the central government. The most dramatic of the federal government's threatening statements came from the prime minister himself. At his press conference last week, after the delivery of the throne speech, he warned that, if the oil-producing provinces were not co-operative, the federal government would take very, very radical and drastic action. Government sources said later that Mr, Trudeau had in mind the creation of a national petroleum marketing board if he ran into difficulties in his talks with Premiers Lougheed and Blakeney. A couple of days later, Energy Minister Macdonald brought this proposal out publicly as a pre-conference warning of the course the federal government would take if this week's discussions went badly. In the event, these advance statements do not seem to have had a great deal of effect, one way or another, on the talks the prime minister has been conducting. The tactic of preceding important, inter governmental dis- cussions with sharp .warn- ings is not, however, an at- tractive development. Fed- eral provincial relationships are always difficult enough in this country if the individual men involved in them proceed with restraint. In fact, it does not seem very likely that this is going to be a widely employed federal tactic because it is hard to imagine a prime minister, Mr. Trudeau or a different one, approaching either Quebec or Ontario in this fashion. It seems to be a luxury that federal politicians save for their contacts with the Western provinces, and resentment at electoral rebuffs probably plays some part in it. By contrast, the government has kept its latest disagreement with the United 'States very low-key indeed. This involves the difficulty that has arisen over the MLW- Worthington Ltd. proposal to sell locomotives to Cuba, barred by the American government. The application of American law to actions taking place outside the United States has been offensive to Canada for a long time. It is a continuing sore spot in this country's relations with its powerful neighbor and has been discussed with Washington on various occasions. Because a locomotive sale, which means jobs in Montreal, is being upset, there have been renewed and it should be noted that this is what they are called by Canadian spokesmen, not "protests." This is by no means the only example of Canada's low-key treatment of disputes with other countries. The federal government absorbed a good deal of criticism over its refusal to take a tough line with Zambia last year after two Canadian girls were killed by that country's troops. The government's way of handling the international disputes and difficulties it faces from time to time has presumably been adopted because it is considered to be in the best overall interests of the country. That being so, it is difficult to see why the same government believes that a more threatening approach is likely to produce good results when a Canadian province is involved. It would be just as well to wait for provincial leaders to be unreasonable or unco- operative before announcing what will be done to them for their sins. Pressure on Cuban embargo By Paul Whitelaw, Herald Washington commentator WASHINGTON The desire of a U.S.-owned company in Montreal to sell locomotives to Cuba has increased pressure on President Nixon to end the 12- year-old American embargo on trade with the Caribbean island. It has also raised a politi- cally-explosive challenge to Canada-U.S. relations, and complicates the desire of the Nixon administration for improved relations with Latin America. Complicating the bid by MLW-Worthington i. of Montreal to export 25 locomotives to Cuba is the fact that the Nixon administration has been considering applications by the Argentine subsidiaries of the three major U.S. auto manufacturers to sell some cars to the Castro pcvernment. Under extremely strong pressure from the nationalist regime of Argentine President Juan Peron, the U.S. has been wavering on its decade-old embargo on trade by American companies, or their overseas subsidiaries, with Cuba. If the Argentine export deal goes through, Canada would approval of the bid by MLW- Worthington, a subsidiary of Studebaker-Worthington of New Jersey. Even if the Argentine sale is turned down by President event considered unlikely by some would hardly lessen pressure on the minority Trudeau government to assure that job-producing exports from Canada cannot be vetoed by the White House. It may be significant that at the briefing, known as a "backgrounder" in which reporters are not permitted to identify officials by name, a senior state department officer refused to repeat the traditional American accusation that Cuba must be isolated because it is "exporting revolution" to other Caribbean Islands and Latin America. Some diplomatic sources in Washington express the belief that Cuba has deliberately set out to increase pressure on the U.S. to end its embargo by making major trade offers to American controlled com- panies in Canada and Argentina. "It appears to be a rather effective says one diplomat. "Cuba knows that the nationalistic Peron government will not tolerate an American veto of such a lucrative trade deal, while any concession to Argentina will apply fantastic pressure on Canada for similar treatment." It was suggested at the state department briefing that President Nixon may approve the Argentine exports, arguing that it is a special case in which U.S. subsidiaries should not "suffer the consequences of not complying with Argentine law." The House of Commons will be asked to consider a law of its own which might put MLW- Worthington in a similar posi- tion. The Competition Act, which will be considered again in the new session of Parliament, contains a tough- sounding section dealing with foreign interference in the dealings of subsidiaries operating in Canada. It states that the Restrictive Trade .Practices Commission would forbid these subsidiaries to obey directions of foreign governments or courts that would have adverse effects on Canadian trade. The good corporate citizen By Shann Herron, Herald special commentator One would assume it to be the plain obligation of companies manufacturing goods for which there is a world demand to sell them where there are customers to buy them. If they do not, it might be supposed that what the delinquent company is actually doing is limiting the growth of Canadian employment and reducing this nation's reasonable expectation of earning foreign currency by trade. Trade, after all, is the source of most employment in a commercial society, and foreign trade the source of our purchasing power in foreign markets. The fact that companies manufacturing within the boundaries of this nation also neglect or refuse to explore and exploit markets abroad because of the trading laws of another nation surely marks them as bad corporate citizens? Was it not to be a condition of their existence in Canada that they must be "good corporate Given the measure of control of American corporations over our heavier industries car manufacturing, oil, rolling stock and others it seems obvious that industrial expansion could well be enormously stimulated by aggressive trading policies in all foreign markets, if it were not for the trading laws of another country and for the fact that parent corporations in that country direct, with an eye to these laws, the trading policies of their subsidiaries in this country. If Canadians who are not nationalists react angrily to these situations (whenever they are allowed to surface) it cannot in the long run be in the interest of the corporations or of this country, for rash and angry nationalism in such circumstances must inevitably support calls for nationalization that appear to be justified by the conduct of the corporations and the threats of the state department. It looks like a simple enough solution to a difficulty, emotionally colored by foreign insolence, that bad corporate citizens should be taken over in the national interest. It would in fact be much less complicated and dangerous simply to make it an offence under the law for any corporation to sacrifice a Canadian interest