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New Ford Mustang automobiles are shown for sale after California Governor Gavin Newsom announced the state will ban the sale of new gasoline powered passenger cars and trucks starting in 2035 in a dramatic move to shift to electric vehicles to curtail greenhouse gas emissions, in Carlsbad, Sept. 23, 2020.


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Made for?

Re Indigenous Advocates Criticize Assisted-dying Bill (Nov. 25): I definitely find it a contradiction to have so many people struggling to prevent suicide while the government rushes to widen the practice of medical assistance in dying.

Three key groups of people have argued that they will be fatally effected by further normalization of MAID: The Council of Canadians with Disabilities, palliative care nurses and physicians and Indigenous leaders have spoken in opposition to Bill C-7.

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Who is Parliament listening to?

Martha Crean President, DeVeber Institute for Bioethics and Social Research; Toronto

The proposal for medical assistance in dying is not a bill targeting young Indigenous people, nor is it legislation that should be viewed in opposition to suicide prevention efforts.

If one wants to advocate for better youth suicide prevention and better Indigenous mental health supports, then do so. These issues, however, technically fall outside the parameters of Bill C-7, which targets access to MAID and how to monitor it within a health care context.

In practice, the allowance of MAID – as has already been the case for the past four years – does not seem to encourage suicide by any means of the word.

Jason LeBlanc Niagara Falls, Ont.

Cars in charge

Re Postpandemic Cities Shouldn’t Turn Toward Electric Cars (Report on Business, Nov. 21): This article is a breath of fresh air. Columnist Eric Reguly is the first mainstream journalist that I have read who did not go golly-gee-whiz over electric vehicles.

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He identifies the main problems with using millions of EVs: how to generate enough power to charge all of them, and how to transmit the electrical energy from power stations to all the chargers. We have eight-million-plus motor vehicles with gasoline engines in Ontario. If half of them were replaced by EVs, and half these EVs were plugged into chargers, and each charger was charging each EV at the rate of 150 kilowatts, the total power requirement would be 300,000 megawatts. The total capacity of Ontario’s electrical system, with the wind blowing, is about 30,000 megawatts.

Professor Eric Miller at the University of Toronto has ideas about reducing greenhouse gas emissions from personal transportation. He recommends: sustainable communities, where people do not need personal motor vehicles for their daily trips; public transit, electrified buses, LRTs and subways at much lower energy requirements than private EVs; energy conservation.

Tom Markowitz P.Eng, Toronto

Columnist Eric Reguly seems to present a false binary choice: either cars or no cars in cities. Of course we choose no cars! But right now people are driving their gas cars in cities, and electric vehicles offer huge environmental and human health improvements.

It will take a long time to get people out of their cars. In the meantime, we should embrace reducing the carbon footprint of cars and moving toward more walkable, bikeable cities.

These goals are not mutually exclusive: We should move forward on all fronts, including getting people out of cars and, for those who are going to drive, encouraging EVs. We cannot let perfect be the enemy of good.

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Cara Clairman President and CEO, Plug’n Drive; Toronto

I agree that electric vehicles generally aren’t the great cure many argue.

It seems most owners are older (they are expensive) and buy them because they believe they are helping the environment. I don’t think the average EV owner could say what type of facility their electricity is coming from.

EVs make the most sense in highly urbanized areas where gas- and diesel-fuelled cars are least efficient due to stop-and-go conditions. New stop-start technology and highly efficient combustion engines have helped prolong the gas-burners‚ along with government subsidies for oil versus renewables. All modes of mass transport should be electrified, as they generally travel along fixed corridors which could be serviced.

I believe car nuts are a long way from accepting EVs. The “fast in a straight line” guys love their muscle cars partly because of the roar of a V8. Guys like me who prefer light, nimble, manually shifted sports cars don’t care about mega-horsepower, and won’t switch until there is a big breakthrough in the weight of the batteries one is forced to carry around. Admittedly, both groups are having to settle for cars from the 1960s to early 1980s to satisfy their needs.

We should look closely at Europe, where fast trains and multi-unit electric streetcars are prevalent.

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Al Woolnough Collingwood, Ont.

Thanks to columnist Eric Reguly for his insightful opinion, as well as his proven points about the many problems with car-focused cities.

I am lucky to be fit enough to ride my bicycle through the winter. Every day, I see the ways our infrastructure still favours cars so heavily, and the potential for harmful accidents.

My city lays down far too much salt and sand so that cars can continue at unsafe speeds. We should have a real movement against the private automobile. There should be a vaccine against the virus of car culture, and a shift to healthier ride-sharing and free public transit.

To Mr. Reguly’s point: Electric cars are still cars, with all the problems they bring.

Tim Brandt Winnipeg

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Re There’s A Park Hidden Under That Highway (Editorial, Nov. 21): Advocating the removal of half the vehicle capacity on Toronto’s University Avenue seems ridiculous. Arguing that there are large downtown parks in Montreal and Vancouver considerably inflates the size of Dorchester Square and moves Stanley Park a few miles.

And the ultimate statement: “The impact on traffic impact would be negligible?” I happen to live on Avenue Road north of the imagined park and see the torrents of vehicles streaming south and north most of the day. With the subway jammed during the same periods and no sign of a relief line, this idea is asking for an unmanageable chaos.

Phelps Bell Toronto

Racing and pacing and plotting the course

Re Going The Distance (Opinion, Nov. 21): I thought it was just me: That wonderful, joyous feeling at about 32K. Infused with energy. That sense of floating, feather-light grace. That final sprint to the marathon finish line. The triumph of crossing. The utterly delicious feeling of pulling past that old guy who keeps checking to make sure I’m not passing him, until suddenly I do. (I’m a runner, not a saint.)

I was in my 40s when I realized that, given my own steady, barely-above-walking pace, I can run forever. In fact, distance-running is the only thing that truly clears my heart and mind.

Thirty years later, I’m still enjoying that sense of end point elation, skimming along swift as the wind, gloriously free, 10K or marathon, it makes no difference.

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But until I read contributor Alex Hutchinson’s article, I had no idea it was a thing, moreover a thing worth serious scientific investigation and rigorous academic research. A thing that applies to all areas of life.

So obvious. So brilliant. So true.

Marion Raycheba Toronto


Re What Did Europe Smell Like Centuries Ago? Historians Set Out To Recreate Lost Smells (Nov. 19): In 1988, my wife, Beverley, and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary with a trip to New Orleans. On one tour, the park ranger told us that it was a city of epidemics.

Yellow fever was the worst, with outbreaks occurring almost annually after 1825. It was thought to be caused by “miasma” – warm humid air rising from filthy, undrained soil. This belief led residents to tolerate the stink of burning tar to “purify” the air. Amazingly, it worked! The disease was brought under control.

What the citizenry didn’t know was that it wasn’t the burning tar that caused relief from the epidemic – it was rather that the tar smoke drove away the mosquitos that carried the disease!

John Ellis Toronto

Hand of God

Re A Soccer God With An All Too Human Side (Nov. 26): For Diego Maradona to have died on the same day as George Best, years apart, he must have had the old soccer witticism in mind: “Maradona good, Pele better, George Best.”

Christopher Cottier West Vancouver

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