Letters - Macleans.ca



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Doggone blues

So Canada has become known as a haven for the world’s unwanted dogs (“Give us your mangy masses,” National, April 15)? Meanwhile, millions of children are starving in those same countries. At home, we feed our dogs better nutrition than our own children. It has become criminal to take the life of a dog, but we can freely eliminate our pre-born children. Unless our attitudes change, we will surely become a country that has “gone to the dogs.” Lord, have mercy!

Albert Zehr, Surrey, B.C.

In Canada, we have laws to protect animals from maltreatment and cruelty. We have organizations that work hard to rehabilitate and find homes for unwanted animals. The opposite is true on the island of Aruba, to which I frequently travel. An unwanted litter is likely to be stuffed—nursing mom and all—into the government’s free “kill cage.” Kill-cage occupants are euthanized daily. My most recent foster puppy is about nine weeks old, abandoned with her siblings and mother at four weeks of age in the “kill cage” and fostered by local volunteers until she was old enough to travel. If not for that intervention, Brandi would have been euthanized the same day she was placed in the kill cage. She deserves so much more than that!

Lynn Holliday, Mississauga, Ont.

This is the most ridiculous waste of money and valuable resources. This money should have been spent on all the poor, uneducated and unhealthy citizens we have here. And with our animal shelters lacking sufficient funds and euthanizing many animals, these dog rescuers are crazy. If they really want to waste their money on this, then pour the money into the countries with these problems, educate the people and deal with the dogs in their own country.

Andrew Hartshorn, Ottawa

Your story about imported rescue dogs was interesting and heartwarming, but too bad the writer didn’t do a bit more research on purebreds before damning them. He came up with the ridiculous statement that a “pedigreed dog” is “an animal weakened by generations of inbreeding done for human benefit.” Inbreeding is very rarely done by reputable breeders, and only after careful study and to reinforce positive elements of that breed. The key here is “reputable.” At all costs, avoid backyard breeders, online brokers and puppy mills, who work with poor-quality bloodlines, which may be genetically prone to a host of health problems.

Jill Evans, Saltspring Island, B.C.

Unsafe at any age

As a senior who has recently gone through the DriveAble tests here in B.C., I consider the learned talk about “cognitive and driving abilities,” in relation to some artificially concocted tests, as being irresponsible, and having nothing in common with the actual driving of seniors (“Going off-road,” National, April 15). The politicians and others who approved the DriveAble tests are actually forcing on our seniors the most complicated and demanding standards of the entire driving population. If this is not elder abuse, I don’t know what it is. Before DriveAble appeared, people simply quit driving when they were too frail. This was decided in the family, without the help of the meddling scientists and professors, and the roads were just as safe then as they will ever be.

Anton Skerbinc, Sanca, B.C.

We at the Elder Advocates of Alberta Society are not challenging standardized testing in general, as your article might suggest, but the validity of the tools used to determine driver competency, namely the Simard MD cognitive test and the DriveAble computer test. We can name numbers of seniors who have failed both the Simard MD and DriveAble tests but easily passed a road test. In 2011, random testing of high-profile citizens, all actively employed, was carried out in one Alberta community. All except two failed the Simard MD, including an Alberta MLA. No one has suggested that these individuals are unfit to drive. Alberta traffic-collision statistics for April 2010 clearly indicate that Alberta seniors have the lowest rate of casualty collisions. It is not seniors who are causing deadly harm on Alberta’s roadways.

Ruth Maria Adria, Elder Advocates of Alberta Society, Edmonton

If the goal is to reduce motor vehicle accidents while removing the smallest number of unsafe drivers, it would be great to start by parking our ageist assumptions at the door and focusing on the common medical conditions that impair driving ability at any age.

Chris Brymer, London, Ont.

I am 77 years old and consider myself as good or better a driver than 90 per cent of those on the road. How many older drivers, who are driving cautiously because of road conditions, are forced into dangerous situations by impatient, aggressive, younger drivers just because they see a grey head in front of them? I am sure if everyone drove with the same consideration as most seniors, we would all be a lot safer.

George Page, Orillia, Ont.

According to a 2009 Statistics Canada report,the vast majority of senior drivers reported they have good or very good hearing, vision and cognitive abilities. However, of seniors who reported having the most serious hearing problems, over half had a driver’s licence. Most of those had driven a vehicle in the month prior to the survey. Among seniors who did not see well enough to read the newspaper or to recognize a friend on the other side of the street, even with glasses, 19.5 per cent had a licence. About half of this group had driven a vehicle in the previous month. Roughly 28 per cent of seniors who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or some other form of dementia had a driver’s licence. Of these, 27 per cent had driven in the month preceding the survey. Family members, friends and doctors can, and do, play an important role in keeping dangerous older drivers off the road.

Emile Therien, Ottawa

In British Columbia, we have a graduated licensing system to evaluate and limit new drivers as they gain knowledge and experience. Why not institute a graduated de-licensing system for seniors to help with the transition from full independence?

Clifford Stone, Parksville, B.C.

Where’s the smoking gun?

Colby Cosh’s column (“Why Ottawa needs to take a deep breath,” Opinion, April 15) reports that Health Canada has “unconditionally forbidden the sale of e-cigarettes containing nicotine.” I have witnessed people successfully switch to e-cigarettes when other smoking-cessation methods have failed. Health Canada should not be trying to legislate morality, or whatever they are trying to do. Cigarettes are clearly a dire health risk, and e-cigarettes clearly less harmful. Making e-cigarettes illegal will only create another underground economy and stretch our ability to deal with real crime. Put a warning label on them, if you really feel you must. Don Scott, Kenora, Ont. As a lung specialist, I take offence at Colby Cosh’s poorly researched column about e-cigarettes. E-cigarettes may one day prove to be a useful tool for motivated smokers who want to quit. The problem is that they have been shown to contain harmful chemicals, including some of the carcinogens found in cigarettes, as well as other toxins. The nicotine delivery from the devices is widely variable; there is no way to know how much nicotine current devices are delivering. These are excellent reasons why Health Canada and the FDA in the U.S. have not approved these devices. There are currently no good studies showing these devices are effective in smoking cessation.

Serge Puksa, M.D., Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, McMaster University, Hamilton

Harper gets it

When it comes to fiscal matters and taxation (“What Harper is hiding,” Opinion, April 15), the federal government largely gets it—unlike too many municipalities and almost every province and territory in Confederation. All of them urgently require adult fiscal supervision of the kind former bank economist Don Drummond attempted to provide to the government of Ontario.

John Challinor II, Milton, Ont.

This is no holy war

The “war on Christians” (“Why there’s no need to go down the war-on-Easter rabbit hole,” From the Editors, April 15) has more to do with Christians battling to impose their beliefs on everyone else than non-Christians wanting to stifle Christian celebrations. While the rest of us may not celebrate the religious aspect of Christmas, I am sure most of us welcome the day off and time to spend with friends and family. The dates and themes of both Christmas and Easter have been aligned with pagan rituals and dates, so Easter is not exclusively of Christian significance. If everyone is free to celebrate the holidays however they please, there is no “war.”

Gregor Kerr, Medicine Hat, Alta.

I have worked with immigrants and diversity education for over 20 years. Every year, I send out a note at Christmas reminding people that diversity means respecting all traditions, including Christmas. What I have found is that the “war on Christmas” is in the minds of the right wing and well-intentioned liberal-minded people thinking they are being respectful if they don’t celebrate it. Every immigrant I have spoken to, regardless of religious background, has no issue with Christian celebrations and holidays. There is no threat to Canadian, or, more accurately, Christian traditions in this country, at least, not from newcomers.

Valerie Pruegger, Calgary

Capital punishment

Maclean’s is usually very good with geographic details, but not in your article “A sliver of hope” (International, April 15). Those of us with Burmese friends and colleagues who are working to become involved in the rebuild of their beautiful country know that Rangoon (Yangon) is the commercial centre of Burma (Myanmar), but the capital is Nay Pyi Taw.

Bob Ryerson, Manotick, Ont.

Moving millions through Regina

Regarding “Welcome aboard air congestion” (Business, March 25), I take issue with the statement: “Combined, oil-sands airplanes move roughly 750,000 people a year, more than municipal airports in St. John’s, Victoria, Regina or Saskatoon.” I can assure you that the Regina International Airport has moved more than one million passengers annually since 2008, moving 1,185,715 in 2012.

James D. Hunter, President and CEO, Regina Airport Authority Inc., Regina

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