The Mail

The Mail

August 3 1998
The Mail

The Mail

August 3 1998

The Mail

SUVs versus cars

I was pleased to see the controversy about sport utility vehicles/light trucks brought to the fore in your magazine (“Big wheels,” Cover, July 20). I only hope that North American society takes appropriate steps to rectify the problem. Simply joining the sport utility vehicle crowd for safety is not the solution. I was horrified to find out how SUVs mutilate smaller sedans in accidents and I find myself asking why government regulates that my sedan’s bumpers must be a certain size and that I must wear a seat-belt, when 48 per cent of new vehicles sold (SUVs, minivans and pickup trucks) can simply smash over my car’s bumpers and through the windows. Legislation is supposed to make our vehicles safer, for me and for other drivers, too. All passenger vehicles that share the road must conform to the same standards. It took years for legislators to put health warnings on cigarette boxes. Let’s not take as long to put them on SUVs.

Chris Galanos, Radville, Sask.

What no article on sport utility vehicles mentions is the antagonism these vehicles and their drivers create because they block

the view of the road for all behind but other trucks, a very real safety concern for the majority of car drivers who anticipate traffic defensively. Perhaps like heavy trucks, SUVs should be kept to the outside lanes, where, incidentally, the driver death statistics might then favor defensive driving, and not the intimidating road-hogging and aggressive driving we see of SUVs in the centre lanes today.

Geoff Langhorne, Hamilton

I believe that your story missed several reasons why I and people I know purchase light trucks. My personal experience with three of these products

over the past 15 years has shown me that these things are tough, and I have been able to maintain them at less than one-half the maintenance costs that my automotive friends are saddled with. Motor vehicles are machines and as such should be suited to the jobs they are required to do. Light trucks are practical because of their higher ground clearance, larger diameter wheels, and payload capacity. I regularly see people bumping the bottom of their cars pulling into their driveways with a week’s groceries on board. We live in a beautiful country that confronts us with snow, ice, potholes and washboard gravel. Our choice of vehicles should reflect the conditions that we must operate them under. If you want to reduce pollution, reduce the amount that you drive.

David Church, Kitchener, Ont.

In your cover story, you quote Chris Traveil as saying: ‘Vehicles are like fashion. There is no rational reason why we need to envelop ourselves in a 2,000-kg vehicle.” My assumption from this type of comment is that Traveil is not a parent. My wife logs more kilometres annually driving to and from after-school lessons than I do driving to work. We recently purchased a GMC Suburban (if you describe the Navigator as “gargantuan,” I would not know what to call the Suburban, which is more than 30 cm longer). The theory is that this will be the last vehicle that my wife will require as she plays chauffeur to our three very rational reasons for wanting something as safe as possible to travel in, namely our children. In addition to four-wheel drive, increased visibility and increased stability (if you’re driving recklessly enough that the higher cen-

tre of gravity is an issue, please start taking the bus), there is enough room for the kids, their friends, their stuff, and our sanity when taking long trips. Does it pollute more than the car it replaced? Possibly. Do I spend more on gas now? Yes. Is the increased safety of my children worth those extra few cents per kilometre? Every bit, and more.

Robert Friedman, Caledon, Ont.

At a time of overrated, over-advertised, overpriced vehicles, I can’t believe Maclean’s devoted seven pages to yet more of the same hype. The automobile companies must just smile. My question to you is simple: how can anyone afford these? Maybe an article should be written about financing and paying for these “hot trends,” especially explaining how that single-parent homemaker manages.

Dianne Cropp, Gerald, Sask.

Federalists in Quebec

In response to the letter written by Emmanuelle Notebaert from Coquitlam, B.C. (“A native Montrealer,” July 20): federalists in Quebec need all the help they can get in presenting a true picture of Quebec’s reality. It is no thanks to government largesse that English newspapers, radio stations, hospitals, universities, colleges, theatres and libraries exist in such abundance in Montreal. These institutions were funded, built, staffed and subsidized by the English-speaking community, which, along with the allophone community, contributed immensely to the building and shaping of 20th-century Montreal. The outrage lies in the fact that, as thanks for this participation, access to English schools is forbidden, posting English signs in one’s business as one wishes is forbidden, and the English language is punished so as to protect the French one.

Antoinette Taddeo, Montreal

'The coolest horse'

I very much appreciated Michael Enright’s piece on the passing of Roy Rogers (“Cowboy innocence,” Obituary, July 20). However, I must take issue with Enright’s assertion that Gene Autry “had the better horse in Champion.” Compared with Trigger, he’s certainly right. But Enright doesn’t mention the coolest horse of all— the Lone Ranger’s Silver. Seeing him rear up every week to the strains of the William Tell Overture, with a “Hi-yo Silver, AWAAAYY!” was thrilling, even in blackand-white. Compared with Silver, the others were just transportation.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR should be addressed to: Maclean’s Magazine Letters 777 Bay St.,Toronto, Ont. M5W IA7 Fax: (416) 596-7730 E-mail: letters@macleans.ca Maclean’s welcomes readers’ views, but letters may be edited for space and clarity. Please supply name, address and daytime telephone number. Submissions may appear in Maclean’s electronic sites.

Alex Hawkins, Edmonton

I take offence to your so-called tribute obituary on singing cowboy Roy Rogers. The article told us nothing about the life of the man, instead it was just moronic ramblings about Rogers looking like a headwaiter; his horse, Trigger, having a small brain pan; his theme song being “sappy”; and his wife, Dale Evans, having the sexual allure of Gabby Hayes. As a friend of the family who attended his funeral, I can assure you that the thousands of fans and media present at the event gave him infinitely more respect than Canada’s weekly newsmagazine.

Mike Johnson, Toronto

Whose fish are they?

It is instructive to listen to the commercial fishers complain about Americans taking their fish (‘Turning the tide,” Canada, July 20). Actually, they’re our fish. The Pacific salmon are a magnificent part of our heritage and birthright, to be nurtured, protected and enjoyed by Canadian citizens. As a British Columbian, I much prefer to have federal Fisheries Minister David Anderson responsible for this resource than our loudmouth premier, Glen Clark. For the salmon, Anderson as fish minister is the right man in the right place at the right time.

Peter Warkentin, Abbotsford, B. C.

Circumcision

The two Canadian boys who were castrated and turned into girls as a result of botched circumcisions are not the only cases of their kind (“When he becomes

she,” The Sexes, July 20). Sex changes following botched circumcisions have been documented in 1985 at Northside Hospital in Atlanta, and in Seattle in 1975. When we hear of young African girls suffering permanent damage to their sex organs as a result of unneeded surgery, we react with moral outrage—and very properly so. But when unneeded surgery destroys the sex organs of a child in North America, we call it an “accident.” I look forward to the day when doc-

tors everywhere finally accept their responsibility to protect children, and turn down all requests to tamper with brand-new body parts that are working perfectly.

Dennis Harrison, Vancouver

The notion that surgery, hormone replacements and upbringing can change the sex of infants born with ambiguous or deformed genitalia is ludicrous to say the

least. I agree with Dr. Milton Diamond who believes that “the choice of sex should be left until the child is old enough to make the decision.” And given that some cases are the result of irreparable damage during circumcision, should not the decision to be circumcised also be left until the child is old enough to weigh the pros and cons of this questionable procedure?

Thelma Dixon, Aurora, Ont.

No mention is made in your article of the seminal work of Canada’s own Dr. Murray L. Barr at the University of Western Ontario in London in the early 1950s. Barr discovered that male cells and female cells are differentiated by sex chromatin. Applying this simple test should (would?) go a long way towards relieving the angst of those physicians unfortunate enough to have to deal with babies with ambiguous genitalia.

Dr. W. J. Wright, Milford Bay, Ont.

St. Michael's response

Choir director Henry Hodson’s comment, at the close of the coroner’s inquest into the death of 17-year-old Kenneth Au Yeung, that “a lot of good things came out of this” (“Dissecting a tragedy,” Canada, July 20) is tasteless, inappropriate and reeks of saving one’s own skin. In the 35 years since I attended St. Michael’s Choir School, little seems to have changed. Back then, the atmosphere was permeated with fear, intimidation, paranoia and overreaction. There seems to be precious little in the way of humility on the part of school officials, whose main concern seems to be to absolve themselves of any responsibility in the matter. The Au Yeung family should be proud of the dignified manner with which they conducted themselves in the face of such appalling insensitivity.

Claude Morrison,

Toronto

Following the money

Your editorial “The politics of big money” (From The Editor, July 20), suggested that my office issued the release of “Registered Political Parties’ Fiscal Period Returns for 1997” on a Friday in an attempt to have it ignored by the media. Contrary to what is implied, the timing of such a release is dictated by the Canada Elections Act. Because the legal deadline falls on July 1, our national holiday, each year it is extended until midnight, July 2. Thus, this year, the news release was issued on Friday morning, July 3.

Jean-Pierre Kingsley, Chief electoral officer, Ottawa