MAIL BAG

April 7 2008

MAIL BAG

April 7 2008

MAIL BAG

To say Tim’s has a grip on the “Canadian psyche” speaks a lot to eastern hubris’

CANADA’S MEAN STREETS

I WANT TO commend Maclean’s for its excellent articles about crime in our cities and the role of drug abuse (“The most dangerous cities in Canada,” Crime, March 24). However, I have been involved in the worlds of addiction, mental health and corrections for much of my life and I was disappointed that you virtually ignored the single most important step our governments must take if we are ever going to have any real effect on these issues. We will only ever win the so-called “war on drugs” if we are intelligent and courageous enough to legalize all addictive substances. That’s it—legalize, regulate, educate and treat. Nothing else will work in the long run. BertMassiah, Vancouver

AS USUAL, Maclean’s has dumped on Regina with impunity. I doubt that whoever labelled us the most dangerous city in Canada has ever been here. I do notice that in today’s headline, one person was killed and five wounded in a Toronto shooting. I see all the time where innocent bystanders are being hit by stray bullets in good ol’ T.O. Well, guess what? Those things aren’t happening here or in Saskatoon or in Winnipeg. Maybe your magazine should actually do some fact-finding before it hands out its dubious labels in the future. Bruse Pierce, Regina

YOUR ARTICLE should have zeroed in on some of the numbers of gang members within Canadian cities. According to the 2002 “Canadian Police Survey on Youth Gangs,” published by the federal government, there were 434 youth gangs encompassing more than 7,000 members throughout Canada. A 2006 survey puts the number of members at over 11,000. Nationally, 72 per cent of gang members are thought to be involved in assaults, 64 per cent in drug trafficking and 68 per cent in breaking and entering. Also, why didn’t you publish crime stats for each city across Canada?

Noel Coward, Kingston, Ont.

FUNNY THAT CRIME is higher in the provinces where the RCMP are the prime police force. It makes you wonder if B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba had well-trained provincial police forces like Ontario and Quebec do, whether crime rates would decline. David Dick, Gibsons, B.C.

GENERALLY SPEAKING, crime rates are higher in Western Canada than they are in the East, yet westerners reject gun control. And generally speaking, western politicians want tougher sentences for criminal acts, yet they too reject gun control. Is there something in the water out there?

Ron Walenius, Toronto

JAVA GEOGRAPHY

IT COULD BE that Eastern Canada’s beloved Tim’s has reached its high-water mark just over the Rockies (“Tim’s takes on America,

Business, March 24). Like most born-andraised Vancouverites, I discovered what a “double-double” was only a few years ago. A few visits to Tim’s vanguard locations left me even more perplexed: why would I forsake barista coffee or fresh sushi for dull sandwiches, salty soup, fatty and sugary donuts, and coffee that needs to be mixed with two creams and two sugars to make it palatable? To me it seems Tim’s success is as much about its culture: coming in on a cold day for soup, coffee and conversation or a quick grab of something hot on the way to early-morning hockey practice. I’ve seen it play well in small-town B.C., and even in urban areas filled with ex-Ontarians. But to say Tim’s has a grip on the “Canadian psyche” speaks a lot to eastern hubris. If they can’t win Vancouver, they won’t win the eastern seaboard of the U.S. or any major city along the Pacific coast.

Jeff Stuart, West Vancouver, B.C.

I CONSIDER MYSELF somewhat of an expert on Tim Hortons on both sides of the border, and roadside coffee in general. My business takes me on road trips all over the U.S., and I enjoy going to Tim’s in Pennsylvania, New York and Ohio. I especially enjoy the fact Tim’s hasn’t really caught on yet, and there are no lineups like the ones we endure in Canada.

When I travel to the deeper South, or farther east or west, Dunkin’ Donuts is not even a blip on my coffee radar. I can’t justify paying almost $3 for a cup of coffee that does not seem to have the famous ffesh-pot-every20-minutes rule. I will use my GPS to track down a Starbucks in search of something comparable to Tim’s.

Jim Willoughby, Toronto

PIECES OF MEAT

THANK YOU FOR your insightful article on PETA’s reliance on sexualized women to further its political agenda (‘Go veg! Get girls!’ Society, March 17). I, too, would rather go naked than wear fur, but I am appalled by the advertisements that PETA is employing. As a woman, I find it disgusting that PETA seemingly feels the need to replace meat with women. It seems to me that these womei^ with their vacant expressions and nubile bodies, appear quite similar to the meat products that PETA is fighting against.

There is a reason feminists refer to the parading of the female form like this as treating a woman like a “piece of meat.” I’m sure that there are more effective ways of advertising without subverting feminism.

Paula Russel, Calgary

I GREW UP on a sheep farm in northern Alberta and have always wanted to ask vegans and vegetarians some questions, such as, have you ever visited a run-of-the-mill family farm instead of the factory farms described on PETA’s website? And, are you sure you are not painting everyone in the meat industry with the same brush as factory farms? Plus, if PETA’s ad campaigns successfully changed everyone into vegans, what would we do with the millions of domesticated animals (there are over 15 million head of cattle and almost a million sheep in Canada) that we no longer raise for food?

Lana Nightingale, Victoria

THE FEMINISTS who would have all PETA activists conceal their breasts, buttocks and genitals (body parts originally deemed indecent by patriarchal, misogynist religious traditions, by the way) in their campaigns

are missing a central element here. One of the effects of our culture’s obsession with genital concealment is an increased sense of separateness between humans and other species, which makes easier the casual animal mistreatment that PETA opposes.

Greg DePaco, New Westminster, B.C.

WINTER (OVER) KILL

I JUST FINISHED reading Scott Feschuk’s column and I had to go and redo my makeup (“What’s eating you, Mother Nature? Is it us?” Comment, March 24). That article did me more good than a trip to a tropical island. I laughed so hard that the animals in my house were frightened. Who can’t relate to these sentiments? I’ve been saying the same things to myself since March 1 when I returned home from a month in B.C. and Alberta. I just can’t take it anymore either. Thank you so much for this column. I will keep it framed somewhere so that this summer, when I’m in the sweltering heat, I can remind myself that it will only get worse!

Colleen Kirby, Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.

DEAR SCOTT: I usually save your column for last since “The End” is so depressing and God knows I could use a laugh now and then. Thus,

imagine my outrage this week when you referred to me as both a “bitch” and a “slut.” Is that any way to talk to your mother? In fact, I’ve been noticing an increase in sexist imagery and language in your work. I would’ve thought that you and your editors would realize that misogyny just isn’t funny. Women are perhaps my greatest work of beauty; don’t degrade them. As for the abundant snow, it turns out Al Gore was right. All that fossil fuel has got me a bit muddled. Maybe instead of mocking women, you could get your big bum out of your office chair and do something about it. May I suggest you and your friends buy some cross-country skis; you could solve a number of our problems. Most notably climate change, but also your sweat issues, Xanax dependency and disturbing penchants for bad movies and young Scarlett Johansson in a fig leaf. Otherwise, you can kiss my ozone. Mother Nature, a. k. a. Michelle Dorey Forestell, Napanee, Ont.

JEFF HEALEY, R.I.P.

BECAUSE PAUL WELLS’S column usually deals with his views on politics, most of which I disagree with, I was pleasantly surprised to read one of the most accurate, balanced stories that I have seen so far about Jeff Healey’s move from rock and blues to his true love, traditional ’20sand ’30s-style jazz (“From rock’s big time to musical happiness,” Opinion, March 17). My husband, Colin Bray, Jeff’s long-time best friend and the Jazz Wizards’ upright bass player, had encouraged Jeff to switch to what he really loved, after playing a couple of jazz gigs and realizing that there was indeed an audience in Canada for this kind of music. It took lots of coaxing, but eventually he formed the Jazz Wizards and toured extensively across Canada. He still kept a rock and blues band that also toured and made him more money than the jazz band ever did, but he was happiest playing his kind of jazz. It made his many fans happy. Even when he showed his impatience with those who yelled at him from the audience to sing Angel Eyes, they still loved him.

On Feb. 2, a month before his death, he was at a concert in Goderich, Ont., with the Jazz Wizards, singing, playing his trumpet and his acoustic guitar. It was obvious when he arrived that he was gravely ill, but once he was in front of that audience, the cheers and the applause were like an elixir to him and he came away looking happier and healthier. His passing has left an unfathomable hole in the lives of his family, his friends and his multitude of fans the world over. Barbara Bray, Scarborough, Ont.

‘Obama was forced into a corner on NAFTA. Now this is costing us another witch hunt. Sometimes it seems right to shoot the messenger.’

SHOOT THE MESSENGER

JOHN GEDDES’S article about Stephen Harper’s top aide Ian Brodie and the NAFTA fracas (“The quiet man and the uproar,” March 24) illustrates the motive for excluding the press from so many functions. Reporters are always looking for a scoop. Many do not consider the consequences of publicizing sensitive information. Exposing any memo that the Tories allegedly had that Barack Obama was not serious about renegotiating the agreement was ill-considered. Obama was forced into a corner on NAFTA and a Canadian has meddled with the American electoral process with possibly dire consequences. Now this is costing us another witch hunt. Sometimes it seems right to shoot the messenger.

Ross Andrews, Straffordville, Ont.

POINTING FINGERS

ALTHOUGH THE PROVISIONS restricting film tax credits in Bill C-10 have been widely discredited by cultural commentators, it is

truly surprising that a senior editor would be so ignorant of the issues, especially considering the amount of public cultural funding Maclean’s has received (“Man the barricades! Film tax credits are taking fire!” Opinion, March 17). From 2000 to 2007, you got $5,429,995 from the Canadian Magazine Fund through the Department of Canadian Heritage; Maclean’s is also subsidized through the Publications Assistance Program and through Canadian Heritage; it is protected from competition by Bill C-55; and its advertisers are eligible for full tax deductibility. Witnessing the magazine’s editors rant against this country’s artistic creators, who also need public subsidies to exist, has been neither informative nor accurate. I’m assuming Maclean’s, like most Canadian cultural producers, relies on these public funds for its survival. This may not be censorship in the strictest sense of the word, but the effect is the same.

Gerald Beaulieu, President, Canadian Artists’ Representation, Montague, P.E.I.

IN PASSING

Paul Scofield, 86, actor. One of Britain’s greatest classical actors, he began essaying the great Shakespearean roles in 1942, when he was only 22. He made comparatively few films, among them Quiz Show and Henry V, but he is best remembered for playing Sir Thomas More in Robert Bolt’s A Man for All Seasons.

Israel “Cachao” López, 89, musician. A classically trained bassist, he fused African music to the Latin sounds of his native Cuba and became celebrated in the late 1930s as the creator of the rhythm known as the mambo. Revered in Cuba, he emigrated to the United States, where he fell into such obscurity that by the 1980s, he was playing small clubs and weddings.