“Under Pressure” (April) was interesting, but it failed to deal with the most important question: Why do we need submarines in the first place? To fire torpedoes and defend our coastline? Really? Nathan M. Greenfield stated that they fulfill their NATO-assigned roles, but that’s not a very good reason, unless you believe the value of NATO assignments cannot be questioned.
I was amused by British MP Mike Hancock’s question, “Why were the Canadians daft enough to buy them? ” Having been involved in the purchase of the Victoria-class subs, I can offer two answers.
First, the Brits were, let’s say, economical with the truth when it came to the condition of the boats. Not every issue was discoverable, even though our submariners and engineers performed thorough inspections.
Second, we were dead keen on buying something, because our Oberon-class subs were long in the tooth. And, like a wilfully blind teenager scoping out his or her first ride at the used-car lot, we allowed ourselves to be swayed. However, it seems we have tidied the boats up, and they now serve as an essential part of the fleet. As submariners will tell you, there are only two kinds of ships: submarines and targets.
I serve as a Royal Canadian Navy sub mariner and work at the headquarters of USN Submarine Force Atlantic. I can attest that our American allies hold RCN submarines and submariners in high regard.
This is because our boats are useful in a training capacity—which detractors incorrectly trumpet as a silly and unsupportable justification for the force—and because Canada has committed to sustaining a crucial maritime-combat and undersea capability. Without submarines, that capability would be utterly inadequate.
“Under Pressure” is cogent, balanced, and accurate. It masterfully explains the background of the Victoria-class acquisition, honestly assesses the challenges of the subs’ protracted introduction into service, and dispels misinformation propagated by self-appointed national-defence and submarine experts.
Informed debate—central to the public-policy process—is crucial to the future of the RCN, a robust Canadian Armed Forces, and Canada’s national security as a whole. Some critics ask tough and pertinent questions, but sadly many are content with a superficial understanding of the facts.
Cmdr. Michael L. Craven
I would have preferred to read more about Americans who came north in the mid-2000s for political reasons (“Team America,” April). I was a so-called Bush dodger myself. I don’t know if I’ve had an impact on Vancouver, but I’m here to stay.
Even with the road congestion, the constant battles with unenlightened politicians (including Christy Clark and Stephen Harper), and the waxing and waning of fortunes both here and across Canada, I can’t see ever returning to the louder and cruder United States I left ten years ago. I want to be a true Canadian, even if my basic instincts and habits are still American. I’m here by choice, not by accident of birth. I see this city as my home, as well as my future. I might not be able to vote in an election, but I have already voted with my feet.
I remarked recently that I could use an exceedingly long list of stuffy-sounding people who live in Vancouver.
But a quick note for UBC’s Peter Klein, who said that Vancouver has “no failed projects people can point to and say, forget it. It’s been tried. It doesn’t work.” I give you the Grizzlies. An NBA franchise might not fall in the same category as a global investigative centre, but it’s surely an example of, forget it. It’s been tried. It doesn’t work.
Gary Stephen Ross should have followed David Beers’s lead and referred to Americans in Vancouver as immigrants, not expats. Had the focus been Filipinos, Indians, or Latinos, would you have called them expats?
Keep It Real
I echo Casey Plett’s frustration with the lack of realistic trans characters in literary fiction (“Rise of the Gender Novel,” April). The tortured-hero trope might make for popular fiction, but that is only part of the story. In my experience, many years past transition from female to male, there is a risk of isolation and loneliness—not to mention a degree of ordinariness—that does not necessarily make for an exciting story. It would be nice to see characters who just happen to be trans—like real trans people.
When people want me to speak or write about my life as a trans woman, I ask myself, what are they really after? Are they genuinely curious? Are they hoping to hear how much it matches up with the stereotypes they hold? Are they wanting to make me into some inspirational icon?
People should recognize that many “gender novels,” TV shows, articles, and movies are simply exploitative—the commodification and consumption of trans lives, by people who are not trans.
Because #transgender characters don’t exist to comfort & educate cis people.
“Team America” misspelled Procter & Gamble. The consumer goods company, which William Procter and James Gamble founded in 1837, appeared as “Proctor & Gamble.”
The article also included a misleading quotation about the number of Americans living in Calgary. They did not represent “something like 30 percent” of the city’s population in the early 2000s. The actual percentage, according to the 2001 census, was 1.62.
This appeared in the June 2015 issue.