Author Archive

A South American Adventure

Written by Harold McNeill on November 9th, 2017. Posted in Travelogue, Adventure


South America

South America: From the Pampas of Argentina to the Peruvian Andes and
Machu Picchu: A tour of south central, South America
For a representative series of photos,  Link Here)
(Note: The Falklands Islands was not included in the above map – reference the photo series for a second map)   

Looking for something exciting to kick off the New Year in 2019? Yes? Well, we invite you to join Garth and Esther Dunn, Lynn and Harold McNeill and a host of like-minded adventurers on a 3-4 week air, sea, coach, and rail tour of south-central South America and the Falklands. Highlight – Machu Picchu!

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Canada: Who is an Immigrant?

Written by Harold McNeill on January 28th, 2017. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts


Immigrants to Canada

Canada 2016: Preparing for a Citizenship Ceremony

Several newspapers and TV stations this week quoted statistics about the changing numbers of immigrants in Canada:

I867: 16.1%  How do you suppose 150 years back in time, a time when our country was being formed as a nation, only 16.1% of the population were considered to be immigrants. Other than the aboriginal people, who had yet to be afforded status in the new land they previously owned, where did the other 83.9% materialize from?

2011: 20.7%  Perhaps this number is a little more accurate, however one article was so bold as to list the children born in Canada to immigrant parents, as immigrants. Including children of immigrants in this manner is not only inaccurate, it is also inflammatory as those children are full-fledged Canadian citizens. (1)

2036: (Est): 24% – 30%). With an annual intake of 250,000 immigrants and refugees each year, by 2051 our population would likely level off at 40 million.  An additional 6.5 million people over the next 33 years is a very small increase.  By every measure, immigrants are not taking over our country.

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The Protection of Life and Property

Written by Harold McNeill on February 11th, 2018. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts


Colton Boushie

Rest in Peace Colton Boushie.
You certainly didn’t deserve to die because of any mistake you may have made, but sometimes life is not equal or fair, particularly if you are from a visible minority.  In my life, I’ve made several mistakes that could easily have ended just as bad but didn’t, partly because I’m white, but also because I was just plain lucky at that particular moment.

Gerald Stanley

Gerald Stanley

I also wish peace for Gerald Stanley and his family.

While I may wish that to be the case, as the man who pulled the trigger, I fear your life and that of your family is forever changed. The spotlight will be on you and your family for months and years to come.  I don’t know your state of mind at the time of the shooting and don’t know if you are a racist, but it makes little difference now. Did you have the law on your side when you fired the fatal shot? The jury said “yes”, but the law states differently, even if that law was not applied as it should have. That will be explored in this post.

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An African Adventure

Written by Harold McNeill on July 10th, 2017. Posted in Travelogue, Adventure


Nat-Geo-Journeys-Header-Botswana-Makora-640x224

An African Adventure/G Tours

NOTE:  Six albums of the tour photos of this adventure is now posted
on the McNeill Life Stories FB Page. One is yet to be posted.  A full post story will be added to this blog in January 2018.

Link Here to Photo Albums from Cape Town to Kruger, Karongwe
and Victoria Falls. One album yet to be posted.
Link: An African Adventure

Victoria, B.C.

One afternoon in late June, my cell phone rang.

“Hello.”

Hi, Harold, Garth here.” (Nonchalantly): “Hey buddy, you interested in an African adventure?”

(…thinking…sure Garth, what’s the catch? I thought we were all going Russia, right? St. Petersburg, remember?)

Garth (excited): “Guess what? I just won an all-expense paid trip for two compliments of the BC Lottery Corporation.

(…Wow…are you asking me if I want to go with you? Awesome, but what about Esther and Lynn? Don’t you think they might be a little upset? No kidding, you won again, you lucky bugger.)

Garth just wins these sorts of things. Not that long ago we were at a Rotary fundraiser in Sidney when Garth won an all-expense paid trip for two to Ireland. Am I surprised? Not one bit. Jealous? Perhaps a little, but hey, it’s inspiring, and it keeps these old bones moving.

Besides, Lynn and I were also winners that night in Sidney, as just when they were drawing Garth’s ticket for the Ireland trip, I received a cell call from the Victoria Humane Society telling me Lynn and I were approved to take that little Shih Tzu puppy we had our hearts set on.  It was Garth who tipped us off about that puppy.

He interrupted my thoughts: “Think you and Lynn can join us?

(…awe, not just me then… silly question. After so many shared adventures and so much fun traveling with the two of you, we couldn’t let you head out to deep dark Africa without us.  Remember we did the Middle East in the middle of a war.  So here we go again as this is obviously a Dunn Deal.

Harold: “For sure Garth, let’s look at the numbers. Have you told Esther?”

Garth:  “Not yet.

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Are insurance rates soaring across BC?

Written by Harold McNeill on January 29th, 2018. Posted in Editorials, Tim Hortons Morning Posts


Car Crash

Scenes like this are all too common in BC and take a tragic toll in lives lost and families destroyed. The cost is high and we all pay but are Insurance Rates out of control in B.C.? Check out this article, as you may be surprised to see where British Columbia sits in relation to other Provinces.

The Apocalypse Now Narrative

While I do not subscribe to a “fake news” narrative, it seems newspaper reporters often pick the worse possible narrative and treat that as if it was the only fact.  That is what is now happening with respect to insurance rates in BC where private providers have been fighting the public system, ICBC, for years.

One headline reads, “Drivers facing rate hike as ICBC deficit is expected to hit $1.3 billion” (Vancouver Sun headline, January 29). Other BC News outlets carry a similar doom and gloom narrative about looming debt and rate increases.

I do not argue ICBC faces a deficit, for reasons noted below, but would it surprise you British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba (the three provinces with public auto insurance) are among those with the lowest rates in Canada? Who has the highest? Alberta and Ontario. Alberta is about $1100 per year higher than BC and Ontario, at $5,500 per year, about three times higher.  Now to the ICBC debt.

Over the last several years, the provincial government has transferred millions from the Corporation to general revenue. Following are just two of news reports in which soundly criticize the practice.  In effect, the Conservatives (using their Liberal acronym) has constantly placed the Corporation in lose-lose position vis a vis their customers.  Now the rate comparisons among the Provinces.

Times Colonist (August 2016)
Global National (August 2016)

Some years back the BC Government attempted to raid the BC Pension Corporation of a multibillion-dollar fund in the same manner, but an uprising among pensioners and other interested parties help to thwart that attack. By having all that money transferred to an ‘unfunded liability’ of the government you can only imagine the disaster that would have become.

Now to the ICBC situation.

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Church and State

Written by Harold McNeill on January 22nd, 2018. Posted in Editorials, Tim Hortons Morning Posts


church-and-stateChurch and State Street: The Canadian Experience

Canada has made considerable progress over the past 150 years (mainly within the past 100 years) in advancing individual rights, particularly those of women, children, visible minorities and in areas involving lifestyle.
Yet, in every community across the country, there exists a safe haven for discriminatory practices not allowed in any other part of our society. In addition, the freedom to practice that discrimination is protected under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

It is an unusual situation in which a more accepting set of human values is applied to those considered non-religious than is applied to Christians, Muslims, Jews and other faith-based organizations.

Link Here for a 2014 historical perspective on Church and State

A Continuing Conflict Zone In Canada

As Canada continues along the path of finding a balance between Church and State, we clearly have much rocky terrain yet to negotiate.  There is little doubt an open debate would be useful, but if the current flashback and heated rhetoric over the wording of a government funding application is an example, the time has not yet arrived. It is unlikely any current government, Liberal, Conservative or NDP would dare open the discussion as an election issue.

Hence, it will be left to the occasional bold government action and the courts to draw the line as did Trudeau in 1969 when the Liberals removed abortion from the Criminal Code, then again in 1982 when the same government brought home the Constitution and developed the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Since that time a series of court, parliamentary and legislative decisions, at the provincial and federal level, have helped to push forward individual rights, particularly those affecting women, children, visible minorities and the LGBTQ community. While women have made considerable gains, many barriers still stand in their path as they march towards equality with men. (For an earlier article on the subject link to Women’s Suffrage.)

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R. vs. Stanley: Saskatchewan Court of Queens Bench

Written by Harold McNeill on February 18th, 2018. Posted in Editorials, Tim Hortons Morning Posts


Chief Justice

Martel D. Popsecul, Chief Justice
Presiding over the R. vs. Stanley Trial 

The following Charge to the Jury by Chief Justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench for Saskatchewan, the Honourable Martel D. Popescul, is likely the most reliable document yet published providing insight into the R. vs Stanley trial.

(This post outlines my analysis of why I think the Chief Justice led the Jury directly to a finding of not-guilty. It was not a directed verdict in the usual sense, but his words had the same effect.)

And, in those words, all 11,000 of them, the Chief Justice attempts to summarize every aspect of the trial as well as the law governing the charges.  It took the Chief Justice just over one and one-half hours to read his document in court with copies then supplied to the Crown and defence as well as to each juror.

In the copy below, those parts which, in my mind, inexorably led the jury to conclude that Gerald Stanley was not guilty on all counts, are highlighted.  There is little doubt the majority of jurors would have found some parts of the summary so complicated as to render them nearly useless in their deliberations.

Having spent thirty years in law enforcement and a further twenty-five reading and writing about various law enforcement issues, I have some degree of understanding of these complex issues, but even at that, I found some sections of the summary tough slogging.

The jury, on the other hand, deliberated a mere fifteen hours before reaching a ‘not guilty’ verdict on all counts.  Fifteen hours is scant time to consider the various pieces of physical and verbal evidence presented over the two-week trial let alone give full consideration to the details provided in the Judges Charge to the Jury.

The jury was made up of random citizens selected from the community and while the process was random, many who have experience with law enforcement (police members active and retired, lawyers and judges, as well as a myriad of others involved with the criminal justice system) would have been removed from the jury pool. This is routinely done to remove any suggestion of bias.  Additionally, “pre-emptive” removals can be used to remove others that either the Crown or Defence think may not be impartial. It was by that process Defence Counsel removed all aboriginals from the jury.

As for the those selected, most are unlikely to have had any experience with jury duty and, before selection, will have been exposed to considerable information about the killing which led to the charge. Given the role played by ‘confirmational bias’ in the lead-up to and during the trial, the Judge’s charge seems the best source for an unbiased view of the case. Or was it?

While the Judge read his comments to the jury before handing them a copy, it is hard to rationalize how, in 15 hours of deliberation, the jury could absorb the complicated issues to a degree that would allow them to render an informed decision.  Because jury deliberations are secret, we shall never know exactly how they reached that verdict in such short order.

If you have the time and inclination to read the Judge’s words to the jury, you may or may not come to the same conclusion I have about a clear path being set out for them to render a ‘not-guilty’ verdict on all counts.

In the following copy, I have separated the ‘Charge to the Jury’ into several parts for easy reference and have highlighted some comments in bold (those I consider important) and in yellow, as ‘very important’.  In addition, I have made a few short comments on some numbered sections.

Before presenting the complete text of his remards, I will submit the thread comments the Honourable Justice, made that I think pushed the jury towards a finding of ‘not guilty’ on all counts.  The fact the jury  deliberations took less than two days suggests the Jury had likely made up their minds very early in the process.

Harold McNeill (Det. Sgt. Retired)

Note: Here is a short discussion along related links regarding the rights and responsibilities of private citizens to use firearms as a means of Protecting Life and Property

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Expedia CruiseShipCenters, Sidney

Written by Harold McNeill on January 8th, 2018. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts, Travelogue


P1020351

 Annual Awards Night Photos
Expedia CruiseshipCenters, Sidney
Saturday, January 6, 2018

A fun time for everyone at the McTavish Academy when Elaine Kirwin, owner/manager of the Sidney based agency, hosted her Annual Expedia CruiseshipCenters Awards Event. With Bronze, Gold, Silver, Platinum, Ruby and Diamond awards being handed out, there was plenty of buzz about the successes of 2017 and what’s in store for 2018. With two men now counted among the crew of twenty-five, it seems the reverse glass ceiling was finally breached.

Elaine (photo right) has much to be proud of, as over the last two decades she has built a skilledP1020347 team of Travel Professionals, and this has led to the agency receiving several Provincial and National Awards for Service Excellence and Achievement.

The awards include two National Awards, as well as being #1 in Western Canada for Uniworld Boutique River Cruises; and in the Top 3 in Western Canada, for the past five years, with Premier Ocean Cruises – Holland America and Celebrity;  and Scenic River Cruises. For a small agency, these are noteworthy achievements.

P1020364As part of the festivities, John Lovel (left), a representative with Emerald Cruise Lines, and Elaine handed out several gifts during the fun and games held after dinner. The competition for prizes was stiff with ties broken during the no holds barred, “rock, paper, scissors” playoffs.

Many thanks to Elaine, her daughter Katie and the catering team from the Airport Spitfire Grill for tasty appetizers, meal, fine wines, and cold beer.

A photo album of the evening’s events is linked here: Awards Night

Cheers,

Harold

Notes:   I didn’t manage to get a photo of everyone with their award. If you have a photo(s) you like me to add, please send by email to: lowerislandsoccer@shaw.ca or pass along to Lynn.  H.

You may link into other travel background stories posted by Harold and Lynn on our McNeill Life Stories Facebook Page.   The photo albums will usually provide a link to the background story.   H.

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  • McNeill Life Stories Illegal Aliens intercepted in Sarnia - McNeill Life Stories

    August 23, 2016 |

    […] Maxime Bernier, a leading contender in the Conservative race is calling for a “wall to be built along the border and claims that if he becomes the next Prime Minister he will force the Americans to pay for the building of that wall. (Border Security Gone Crazy) […]

  • McNeill Life Stories Keep the peace and be of Good Behaviour - McNeill Life Stories

    August 21, 2016 |

    […] If you happen to support Bill C-51, a bill that is related solely to ‘terrorism’ and, perhaps, support an even more invasive laws being included, what would you think about the entire Bill (present and proposed) being folded back into the Criminal Code and made applicable to every Canadian?  Would that give our police to much power to simply bypass checks and balances developed over the past 150 years. (Oversight) […]

  • Maurice Smook

    August 13, 2016 |

    Hi Jillian,

    I don’t know if you are still checking this site but I had to respond again. February of 2017 it will be 72 years since this battle occurred.

    What caught my attention about this incident was on the Go Deep Documentary that aired on the History Channel. First of all I never known that this battle having ever occurred.

    According to my grade 3 teacher WW2 had never occurred. That grade 3 teacher stated that the WW2 and the holocaust was all propaganda. All of my classmates they believed her. I hate to say this but all I knew was that soldiers shooting at each other.

    I almost was expelled from school. My

    Mom my Dad my brother and my Uncle would have been arrested for propaganda. I paid the price. It was ironic a grade 5 teacher told me that Smooks are all commies. Dad was Conservative.

    All the Smooks that I known are all Conservative. If I had the money I would have loved to sue those two teachers.

    As I said I never heard of this Battle. If it were not for that program I would have never had known.

    I started to do more researching to find out more about the history of this battle. The narrator of Go Deep mentioned the names of the pilots who died that battle.

    I missed 20 minutes of that program but the camera crew had the camera’s pointed towards the sign with the names of the deceits. That is how I known.

    According to the narrator There are three who are still missing. W.J. Jackson, Harry Smook and A. Duckworth. A couple of months ago the staff of Go Deep have located Harry and A. Duckworths aircraft. This is on you tube. Harry and A. Duckworth craft is approx 650 feet deep in the Fjord. The individual who is heading this expansionary mission made it known he will not rest until all three of the missing pilots
    will be retrieved. I am sure that A. Duckworth’s kin are hoping for the same.

    What really puzzles me is that I have sent emails to the Smooks. Not one ever replying. I presume its the same with you. Sad. Dad rarely spoke about his family. It appears there is a big secret of the Smooks. I too assume Harry is a kin to my Dad. Harry maybe a 4th 5th cousin to my Dad. I too would like to know. Harry and A. Duckworth served and died for our country. The other is W.j. Jackson – who is also still missing – having died for our Country.

    In conclusion I still ask myself why is this a huge secret.

    If you are still checking this site please contact me. Maybe we may be kin.

    Take care.

  • McNeill Life Stories Wedding Bells: Gordon McLean and Megan Corns

    June 28, 2016 |

    […] More amazing still is that many of those I met are now living and working in communities in or near cities and towns where I spent much of my early life (e.g. Vermillion, Turtleford, Westlock, Edmonton, etc.) For that matter one family from Edmonton lives no more than a stones throw from the home in which my family lived in 1949 at 12237, 95th Street, a time when Edmonton boasted a population of 137,000 and our home was on the very west edge of the city. Today the next block contains the Yellow Head Highway. Link: http://www.mcneillifestories.com/mcneill-family-edmonton/ […]

  • Valerie Heuman (Roddick)

    June 19, 2016 |

    Having just returned to the Okanagan Valley from a weekend in Pibroch, I am delighted to have stumbled on your blog to see the picture of the main street. My aunt and uncle Peggy & Gordon McGillvery owned and lived in the old Post Office on the North east corner of the main intersection and my brother Adrian currently lives south a bit backing on the School yard. We are Sheila’s cousins and still have a close connection to the town.

  • Sheila(Roddick) Allison

    May 19, 2016 |

    Hi. So fun to find your blog. I remember going to school with you and Louise. I loved my childhood in Pibroch which incidentally was named by my grandfather Aaron Roddick. I will never forget the night the garage burned down. Nice to see the landmark photo before the big fire!

  • George Dahl

    April 12, 2016 |

    What a great site. I’m trying to locate a woman named Sally Jennifer who was from the Cold Lake area back in the early sixties. I met her when I was stationed at Namao air base in Edmonton. I was serving with the USAF 3955 air refueling squadron from rhe fall 1963 till the spring of 64. Sally was 22 at the time I was 21. Sally was my first love. I had orders to ship out to South East Asia and we lost contact after that.
    If any of you know the where abouts of Sally I would like to get reacquainted with her. She is First Nation, Blackfoot I believe. She is Catholic and may have attended a Catholic school in Cold Lake.
    Thank You in advance, George Dahl

  • dave armit

    March 23, 2016 |

    good old fashioned police work done by good old fashioned policemen……….in regards to mr cain..i learned a few years ago that he was born on the same day in the same hospital that i was..my father was a close friend of the cain family…!!! interesting..d a

  • Joyce McMenamon

    March 1, 2016 |

    Haha, love it! We should probably eat rats and rabbits rather than beef. Also I’ve noticed that there are a lot less pests where dogs are not kept on leashes.

  • Kari

    February 27, 2016 |

    Thanks for a wonderful trip down memory lane Dad!!! That was an amazing trip and I am so glad that we had the opportunity to share that experience together!
    ❤️