Letters: In favour of ‘some positive words for Generation Z’

Maclean’s readers write in

Future Leader Ann Makosinski,16,invented a body-heat powered flashlight using four electrical components and inspiration from a friend in the Philippines who didn't have electricity. She placed second in a local science fair last year as she's photographed at home in Victoria, B.C. Saturday April 5, 2014.

Future Leader Ann Makosinski,16,invented a body-heat powered flashlight using four electrical components and inspiration from a friend in the Philippines who didn’t have electricity. She placed second in a local science fair last year as she’s photographed at home in Victoria, B.C. Saturday April 5, 2014.

Kids these days

It was heartening to read some positive words for Generation Z (“Get ready for Generation Z,” Society, July 21), which is usually belittled as lazy, selfish, entitled, overprotected and over-parented. As a music teacher raising two “Zedders” of my own, I find these kids to be smart, insightful, kind, creative, politically aware, global-minded, justice-seeking and, above all, fun to be around. I happily learn from them every day and look forward to leaving the world in their hands.

Jacqueline Anderson, Mississauga, Ont.

I can’t say that Anne Kingston’s article presented a reality with which I am familiar. Picking a few elite kids and quoting the opinion of “experts” (i.e., someone who has written a book on a subject and wishes to promote it) does not create that reality. There have always been smart kids, kids who lead from a young age and evolve into adults who change the world. Productivity and accomplishment derive more from moral conviction and sustained effort—and mostly from the motivation that comes with adversity, something that the government-guideline-taught, helicopter-parented and spoonfed “Generation Z” probably knows less about than any generation in history.

Gyl Midroni, Toronto

To bee or not to bee

Maclean’s dismisses calls for a ban on neonicotinoid pesticides as “mindless sloganeering” by “impatient” and “emotional” environmental groups (The Editorial, July 14). Similar critiques were directed at Rachel Carson when she sounded the alarm about DDT in the 1960s. Science proved her right in the end. Now, an international team of 29 independent scientists has released an analysis of more than 800 peer-reviewed studies detailing the widespread and devastating environmental impacts of neonicotinoids. Looks like the emotional environmentalists have science on their side—again.

Anne Bell, Ontario Nature, Toronto

Get your motor runnin’

Bravo for your July 21 editorial advocating for raised speed limits. Now, if we could enshrine into law the principle of “slower vehicles keep right” on multi-lane highways, I’m convinced we would be making a further major contribution to road safety. A glaring example is the semi-trailer rigs “owning” the centre lane (when there are three), often with the outside lane empty.

Ted Youngs, Kitchener, Ont.

The current maximum of 100 km/h in Ontario matches very well most people’s reaction time. It’s a crying shame that the police forces seem quite content with the “new normal” of 130-140 km/h. We currently have about two per cent of motorists obeying the law, with 98 per cent causing dangerous situations by driving way too fast. Some morons are now advocating that faster is safer—which is simply a truckload of bovine excretion. If the legal limit were raised, we would have the same two per cent sticking to the legal limit and the same 98 per cent driving even faster than before—and causing untold carnage on the highways. One can only hope that politicians outside of B.C. don’t fall for this nonsense.

Hank Bangild, Port Colborne, Ont.

A 120 km/h speed limit might work in other provinces, but in Quebec, it will mean many will simply drive at 140 km/h instead. As for fluctuating speed limits, most Quebec drivers won’t even slow down in construction zones; they are simply not likely to pay any attention to signs urging them to reduce their speed. These changes will only work in places where there is a culture of obeying the rules of the road. In a province where the stop sign is seen as a suggestion and the first three seconds of a red light is the new yellow, I’m not optimistic this would be successful chez nous.

Karen Schell, Pointe-Claire, Que.

Golf is growing

Like all recreational activities, golf is dealing with a “new normal” in how consumers spend their recreational dollars (“The end of golf,” Economy, July 14). Golf remains the most popular sport in Canada, with more participants than any other sport. The sport will return to the Olympic stage in 2016—with Canada as defending champion from 1904—and is poised to see another growth cycle. A Canadian golf economic impact study released in June measured our sport’s worth to the Canadian economy at more than $14 billion. Direct revenues generated by golf courses and their facilities, as well as stand-alone practice ranges ($5 billion) are more than the revenues generated by all other participation sports and recreation facilities combined ($4.8 billion) in Canada. The study reinforces the massive financial, charitable, tourism and positive environmental impact our sport has in communities across Canada. These facts certainly do not support the writer’s “sky is falling” narrative, and they hardly depict an industry in its demise.

Scott Simmons, CEO, Golf Canada, Mississauga, Ont.

Your statement about York Downs (“In Ontario, the private York Downs Golf & Country Club north of Toronto put itself up for sale to developers”) is misleading. The club recently received an unsolicited offer to purchase its property, and the board and membership are in the midst of executing a structured process, established several years ago, for the express purpose of dealing with such unsolicited offers. The club is, in fact, in very good health financially and is nearing completion of a significant golf course improvement initiative.

Don Matheson, President, York Downs Golf & Country Club, Unionville, Ont.

Adding it up

This is to protest your facile dismissal of Alberta’s balanced budget as “easy enough for a province with oil”(“Paid in full,” This Week, July 21). That is grossly unfair. Other provinces who choose to keep their resources locked up in deference to anti-development bullies, and then demand equalization payments, have a lot of nerve. Alberta is prosperous because it has the courage and entrepreneurship to stand up to the bullies and develop its resources. Ontario has vast resources in the northern 80 per cent of the province, all securely locked up by provincial policy. Indeed, the geology of the Hudson’s Bay lowlands is similar to Alberta’s oil fields, and might contain more oil than all of Western Canada. Nobody has ever been allowed to look.

Mel Fisher, Dryden, Ont.

The supposed good news on the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics breaking even (“Paid in full,” This Week, July 21) reminds us again of the enormous flexibility in meaning for words in the English language. The operating budget for the Olympics was $1.9 billion. But revenues? Sadly, just $269 million for ticket sales and $54 million for licences and merchandise, a total of only $323 million. Various Canadian governments contributed a higher figure: $363 million of taxpayer monies, generously termed “revenues” by the organizing committee. The IOC chipped in $659 million, most of this money coming from governments by way of their taxpayers. Less than one-quarter of the $1.9 billion was covered by direct sales, and no financial contribution whatever toward the more than $4 billion funnelled into related capital costs: the Vancouver Airport SkyTrain, the expanded Convention Centre, and the new Sea-to-Sky Highway. These, of course, provide some benefit on their own, but the expenses at that time were a direct result of hosting the Olympics. Perhaps it was a worthwhile venture, but it cost taxpayers a bundle, and the good news is that it did not cost more than it did.

Jay Miller, Meaford, Ont.

Bad faith

Maclean’s wrote, “It’s students who ultimately pay the highest price,” when commenting that B.C. teachers may still be on strike in September (“School’s out,” This Week, July 14). If the teachers are not successful in their fight with the B.C. Liberal government, the whole nation will suffer. The Liberal propaganda machine is focusing on wage increases and signing bonuses to detract attention from the heart of the issue: their unlawful actions. In 2002, Christy Clark, then education minister, illegally stripped class size and composition limits from the teachers’ collective agreement. The B.C. Teachers’ Federation took the issue to court and the Liberals lost at the B.C. Supreme Court. They also lost two appeals, and are currently appealing the decision for a third time. If a government is allowed to illegally strip contracts and defy supreme court rulings without consequence, a dangerous precedent will be set. As unfortunate as it is for the students who are affected by this, it is very important that the public education system, collective agreements and, ultimately, the laws are protected.

Christie Jago, Trail, B.C.

The other side of neonics

Your July 14 editorial supporting the continued use of neonicotinoid insecticides failed to mention a number of relevant facts. These chemicals are not exclusively applied as coatings on seeds, but increasingly as dust into the soil at planting, and as sprays, particularly in orchards. Some neonics are persistent in soils, and have built up substantial concentrations. Neonics appear in surface waters at planting time, resulting in disturbance of that ecosystem. Neonics also appear at low, but increasing, concentrations in ground water. Recent solid scientific evidence exists for the presence of neonics in significant amounts in various fruits.

K.G. Davey, Professor Emeritus, Department of Biology, York University, Toronto

Ahead by a century

In reading Paul Wells’s July 21 column (“Maybe Harper has slain the separatists”), I was struck by the obvious existence of a time machine. According to the column, Sir Georges-Etienne Cartier’s birth centenary is marked in 2014, suggesting he was born in 1914. Another interesting note about him is his involvement as a key father of Confederation in 1867–some 47 years earlier.

Stephen Belcourt, Toronto

CORRECTION

The review of Marja Mills’s book The Mockingbird Next Door: Life with Harper Lee (Books, July 21) said that Lee is suing Mills. Lee has denied participation in the book, but is not pursuing legal action.




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