Living in the Shadow of Mental Illness

Written by Harold McNeill on August 19th, 2014. Posted in Editorials


depression

Photo (Web Source).  The dark shadows of depression and mental illness can be lifelong or sudden in onset.  While cancer, heart disease and any one of dozens of other diseases are accepted and treated with respect, not so for depression and mental illness. They remain in the shadows. People experiencing these debilitating states are often cast aside where they are left to their own devices. Many military personnel, indeed, many front line emergency service workers, have felt that pain. Can you imagine a cancer patient being cast aside and left to his or her own devices because of a stigma being attached to cancer?

As numerous families have learned, the nature of the illness makes it difficult to reach out for assistance by either the victim or their family as the attached stigma casts an ugly net. This story continues to track those who have been caught at the margins of our society where failure to provide timely and ongoing assistance can have tragic consequences not only for those immediately affected but also across the mainstream.  

Update:  Times Colonist, February 16, 2020, articles by Louise Dickson, She got her gun back, then she killed herself,and,  Mounties decision to return gun to PTSD victim haunts her brother. 

Summary: I don’t know how many read the above articles, but they contained the tragic details about young woman, Krista Carle’, who took her own life after suffering for years with PTSD. While tragedies such as this play out across Canada every week, the reason this story resonates so profoundly is that the final, tragic, conclusion took place here in Victoria.

Both articles were carefully researched and written by, Louise Dickson, a TC regular, who has captured the essence of what it means to be cast aside within a system that has every reason to pay close attention – when it’s one of their own.

If we don’t possess the ways and means to help those struggling with mental illness within our own organizations, what possible chance is there for persons found on the street and in obvious need of professional help? These points are vividly brought home by a local police officer who has chosen to speak out rather than remain silent even when, at one point in his career, he faced threats that charges of obstruction could result if he pursued the subject.

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Building a Cohesive Canada

Written by Harold McNeill on January 25th, 2020. Posted in Editorials, Tim Hortons Morning Posts


An Alberta born farm-girl whose mother was an immigrant of Ukranian descent has made her mark on the world stage and now sits at the centre of power in Ottawa. While this young woman has gained the respect of Canadians and many around the world, why would Albertans choose to forget her? Is it because she’s in the wrong party?

“Chrystia Freeland has put Canadian foreign policy back on track, making Canada a leader on several foreign policy fronts like human rights, security, and working with Canada’s allies to maintain the rule-based order. Despite Canadians self-identifying their government as promoting human rights and democratic freedoms, principled foreign policy has not always been a priority for previous governments.”   (MLI Policy Maker of the Year)

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A Moment in Time

Written by Harold McNeill on January 1st, 2020. Posted in Biographies


Laura Isabel Skarsen (McNeill)(Wheeler)

Laura Isabel Skarsen (Wheeler)(McNeill)

This photo was taken sometime around 1998 when mom was in her early 80’s. Always the adventurer she travelled to Victoria to stay with us for a few months at our home on Leney Place to see if a move to Victoria might suit her.  She loved it, but her roots in Cold Lake were so deep it was impossible to fully settle in.  She returned to her home in Cold Lake where she would spend the rest of her life.

December 29, 2008, 10:00 am.
Cold Lake Healthcare Centre
Cold Lake, Alberta

I remember the hour and minute as clearly today as I did a decade earlier. Each time I tell the story, it brings a pinch in my chest and a tear to my eye. That pinch and the tears are not ones of regret for opportunities lost or an “I love you” left unsaid, it comes from the fond memories of the two persons responsible for creating, then setting, the boundaries that shaped my life. For the genes they gifted me, and in Dad on Fire Dutythe nurturing love provided, I am eternally grateful to my Mother, Laura Isabel Skarsen (McNeill)(Wheeler), and Dad, David Benjamin McNeill.

Photo (c1944).  Dad was a horse lover, first, last and always.  He was nearly born on a horse, and he died of a heart attack at age 55, while on his horse.  Due to a number of health issues and life events, it seems likely he also choose the time of his exit from this world.

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Remembrance Day: The Forgotten Warriors Updated

Written by Harold McNeill on November 11th, 2019. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts


Remembrance of Minorities 2

More photos in the footer 

November 11, 2019:  I brought this post forward from 2015 as we are still seeing far too many negative comments from people who seem to have forgotten many of the men and women who fought and died to preserve our freedoms were from minority communities.  When celebrities in positions of influence do that it is unforgivable.

This is the 2015 post:

I am still seeing far too many FB posts that confuse issues related to September-11th with our celebration of November-11th.  Try to remember the defence of our freedoms during two World Wars was fought by military personnel from countries representing every race and religion around the world and while Canada, then as now, was home to a few who utter racist rants, we need to remember this is 2019, not 1914 or 1939.

It is time for everyone to accept that Canada is a multicultural mosaic where minorities are the norm, not the exception, so let’s stop trying to prove it is otherwise. The following statement is plucked from a Web Site dedicated to the memory of those who served in World War I:

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Why I stand with science?

Written by Harold McNeill on November 10th, 2019. Posted in Why?


We need to ask more ‘why’ questions?

This post was inspired by comments on a Facebook related to the news headline, Clear and unequivocal: Thousands of scientists sign letter on the climate crisis. What I’ve tried to do in the following post, is distinguish between the concepts of “global warming” and “climate change”.

To often these terms are used interchangeably and that leads, I think, to a great deal of confusion.  It also plays into the hands of skeptics who scoff at the concept of “climate change” as being nothing more than something caused by a cyclical variance in the weather patterns. Scientists, on the other hand, have focussed their attention on “global warming”.

1. First, let’s talk about the history of global cooling and warming?

It’s generally agreed the earth’s surface temperature has changed considerably over the last 12,000 to 15,000 years. Indeed, while it has been changing throughout history and pre-history, in this post I only reference the recent history of the western hemisphere.  It starts with an ice age that covered what is much of that which is Canada today.  Take a look at Vancouver Island (sketch below) – that was us, then.

During the Ice Age, the Earth’s average temperature was about 12 degrees Fahrenheit (6.7c) colder than it is today. That was enough to keep snow from melting during the summers in northern regions. As snow fell on the snow, glaciers formed. (NASA Earth Observatory)

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Is Fiscal Conservatism Dead?

Written by Harold McNeill on October 16th, 2019. Posted in Editorials, Tim Hortons Morning Posts


While Newfoundland and Labrador have not yet declared bankruptcy, they are on the verge.
Guess who engineered the downfall?

Oh, Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling
From glen to glen, and down to oceanside.
The summer’s gone, and all the roses falling,

It’s you, it’s you who choose to quit, the rest must bide.

And, Danny Williams, the ninth Premier of the Newfoundland and Labrador, did just that. After setting the province up for failure, he walked away a hero.  Was Danny as a fiscal conservative? Perhaps, but rather than setting up the Province for success as one might expect from a party and leader that preached fiscal conservatism, he and the party preferred, instead, to reap the benefits of power in the present. It’s the failing of many governments, not just the Conservatives, but it is an extra failing for the Conservatives as they profess themselves to be the party of fiscal prudence.

Related Posts

Is Fiscal Conservatism Dead
Left or Right: Is there a difference?
How to Game and Election
The SNC Lavalin Affair
The Kings of Conservative Media
The Changing Landscape of Politics in Canada

Part 1: Newfoundland & Labrador: A case study in how to fail

For those who think I have heaped to much blame on Alberta and British Columbia Conservatives for poor resource and fiscal management, let’s take a trip to the east coast for some relief. It seems the rise of Conservatism in NFLD under the leadership of Danny Williams in 2003, is eerily similar to the Alberta experience of the last two decades.  This from a 2018 National Post article:

When Danny Williams (that vibrant, outgoing, irascible, Irish politician) came to power as the ninth premier of NFLD in 2003, he promptly held a grim news conference where he warned that the provincial debt was out of control, and threatening to bankrupt the province. Fortunately for Williams, after one unpleasant budget and a nasty public sector strike, the price of oil rocketed from around $30 when he first took office, to $50 by the early months of 2005.

By the end of Williams’ first term in office, oil was flirting with $80 a barrel and it only climbed higher in his second term. Williams cut taxes and allowed spending to explode, fuelled by windfall oil royalties, right up until he quit politics in 2010, one week after he had announced a landmark deal for a multi-billion dollar hydroelectric project. 

“During those good years, a few columnists, some policy wonks, and the province’s (Newfoundland that is) auditor general fretted that the government was living beyond its means, but the electorate didn’t care. After decades of crushing societal poverty, Newfoundland and Labrador was rich for a change, and Williams got credit for the economic miracle.”

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A Letter to Jamie Hammond

Written by Harold McNeill on October 14th, 2019. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts


Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke
A Letter to Jamie Hammond

October 14, 2019

Dear Jamie,

My vote in Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke comes down to a choice between two of the three parties on the centre-left. Having just met and listened to you at two meetings, you present a clear and forceful message. (Photo Right)

I’m also impressed with Randall Garrison, as he comes out loud, clear and consistent in his messages. I have also watched you and Garrison on the podium. You are respectful and cheerful to one another and all other candidates. Between the two of you, you don’t hold out your political differences as being an impediment to moving forward on major issues.

There was a moment in time when you were asked a specific question about your first priority if you won. You stated something to the effect, “my first priority would be to meet with Randall Garrison over dinner where we would discuss the files he was working on that need to be continued into the future.” That is the type of politician and party we need in Ottawa. I’m also sure Randall feels the same way.

Yesterday, I heard Jagmeet Singh state unequivocally he would work with the Liberals to maintain a stable government if they ended up in a minority or even if the Conservatives won a minority. It’s a great relief knowing that whichever way I cast my ballot, my vote will not be lost if the other team wins.

Just as in my voting for David Merner the last time around (he was a Liberal then) my vote was not lost simply because Randall Garrison and the NDP won in the riding. I had worked for all three parties last time, just as I have this time around.

My difference with David Merner (I consider him a friend), is that when he jumped ship from the Liberals, he turned on them with a vengeance. He still does this on a regular basis. We don’t need parties of the centre-left beating up on one another as a means to gain votes.

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Left or Right? Is there a difference?

Written by Harold McNeill on October 9th, 2019. Posted in Editorials, Tim Hortons Morning Posts


This post will tackle the issue of ‘fiscal conservatism’ and whether it still lives, or more to the point, whether it ever lived in actual practice. Of specific interest, is the management of natural resources in Alberta and British Columbia. I will later write about Newfoundland and Labrador, as NFLD and Alberta have followed almost the same path over the past twenty years (boom to bust). Just where does the fault lie?

In the following discussion, it’s suggested I lean more heavily on Alberta than British Columbia and to some extent that’s true. Part of my reasoning is that over the past forty years BC has developed strong political and public opposition to the worst instincts of government when it comes to extracting value from our resources, and with protecting the environment for future generations.

With the Conservatives now back in power in Alberta, they are again in a position to spend hundreds of millions to protect the oil companies and government from any opposition in a rapidly changing world. This is not unexpected, as over the past seventy-six years, Alberta, the most conservative province in Canada, has had neither an effective opposition nor a protest movement.

It was only in 2015, with the election of the NDP, that this changed. While the NDP was defeated this year, I think the future will be far different as there will be a rapid rise in opposition strength and it seems likely public protest will also take hold.  Many articles have been written which suggest Alberta has become far more polarized (left and right) in recent years and that bodes well for the people of Alberta and Canada as the Conservatives will need to think twice about running roughshod over any opposition. (Link)

Regards,

Harold McNeill
Email: lowerislandsoccer@shaw.ca

Related Posts

Is Fiscal Conservatism Dead
Left or Right: Is there a difference?
How to Game an Election
The SNC Lavalin Affair
The Kings of Conservative Media
The Changing Landscape of Politics in Canada

Contents

1.  Introduction
2. The ABBC of economic free rein:  What happens when few controls are placed on how companies use our natural resources for a quick buck.
3. For richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health: life in the Alberta oilpatch (1940 – 2019).
4. British Columbia: The Scars that Bind (1952 – 2019)
5. Back to the Future
Footnotes and Charts
Appendix A (a sketch of the federal political parties)

Next Up:  How the past twenty years in NFLD almost exactly parallels the rise and fall of fortunes in Alberta with, “Oh, Danny Boy, the Pipes, the Pipes are Calling.” (Coming soon).

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How to Game an Election

Written by Harold McNeill on September 18th, 2019. Posted in Editorials, Tim Hortons Morning Posts


This post is written as a less provocative introduction to a nasty game being played out across the nation as we move towards the October election. Two examples of the game are provided above and both happened today (Sept 18).

One was a fake news story about the Prime Minister, and the other, the doctoring of a Rick Mercer meme. Both were discovered by CBC news. We can expect much more of this stuff over the coming weeks and most of it will emanate from the Conservative Party and their backroom social media experts.

In an election as close as the one, where every vote counts and, short of a complete disaster on the part of one party or another, social media is absolutely the best bet for gaining undecided votes.  Following, are a couple of polls showing how things stood in July 2018.

Table I  “Would you consider voting for one of these parties?”

The numbers have not changed all that much over the past year. What happens to the Greens and NDP, has a considerable impact on the Liberals – not so much on the Conservatives. Clearly, the movement of voters between the Greens, NDP, and Liberals is more likely to affect the outcome of the election.

All the Conservatives need do is develop strategies to keep the Greens and NDP focussed on the Liberals while keeping their own party members solidly attached. A large part of that strategy involves heaping as much negativity as possible on the Liberals.  If the Greens and NDP help them out, so much the better.  Next up, the change between how you would vote in 2018 and 2019.

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Comments

  • Harold McNeill

    February 17, 2020 |

    Update:  Times Colonist, February 16, 2020, articles by Louise Dickson, She got her gun back, then she killed herself,” and,  Mounties decision to return gun to PTSD victim haunts her brother. 

    Summary: I don’t know how many read the above articles, but they contained the tragic details about young woman, Krista Carle’, who took her own life after suffering for years with PTSD. While tragedies such as this play out across Canada every week, the reason this story resonates so profoundly is that the final, tragic, conclusion took place here in Victoria. Continued in the article.

  • McNeill Life Stories Index to Police Notebook - McNeill Life Stories

    February 16, 2020 |

    […] Part I, Police solidarity and the push for amalgamation. Part II, Comparing police cultures and implementing change Part III, The past as a guide to the future Part IV The integration of police services […]

  • Harold McNeill

    February 15, 2020 |

    Testing the comments section after changes made. Updated: February 10, 2020

    Further to the update below (February 1, 2020), I note that since the government announced a “No-Fault” insurance plan for BC, Robert Mulligan is taking a slightly different tack, suggesting that no-fault will only increase the problems by taking away the right of an injured party to sue.

    I’ve copied just one sentence from Mulligan’s longer discussion, “And I think people don’t like the idea that somebody who’s, for example, was drunk and ran into you and you become a quadriplegic is going to be treated exactly the same way you would in terms of getting benefits (go to minute 00:15:26 to see his full comment)

    Statements like this appear to be simple fear-mongering. As was the case in the past, people who commit criminal offences, as well as other forms of negligence while driving, may well lose their insurance coverage and in all likelihood would be sued by ICBC to recover costs of the claim. (Link here to Mulligan’s full conversation on CFAX radio)

  • McNeill Life Stories Index to Police Notebook - McNeill Life Stories

    January 5, 2020 |

    […] 28. The past as a guide to the future (Part III): Over the past 60 years, many activities the police once performed as a natural part of their daily duty, eventually became incompatible with achieving their basic goals. What happened? (August 2019) […]

  • McNeill Life Stories Why I stand with science? - McNeill Life Stories

    November 11, 2019 |

    […] During the Ice Age, the Earth’s average temperature was about 12 degrees Fahrenheit colder than it is today. That was enough to keep snow from melting during the summers in northern regions. As snow fell on the snow, glaciers formed. (NASA Earth Observatory) […]

  • McNeill Life Stories How to Game an Election - McNeill Life Stories

    September 18, 2019 |

    […] The Federal Conservatives and Seymour Riding Association complied but one day later those memes will be shared by every third party social media site and by thousands of supporters where the message will be taken as a statements of the fact.  Five years from now those memes will still be circulating. (Link here to background on the SNC Lavalin matter) […]

  • Harold McNeill

    August 21, 2019 |

    For those who followed the earlier post about the cost of ICBC Auto insurance coverage in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba (linked in comments) here is another follow-up article.

    This article again confirms earlier assertions that public-private insurers such as that which ICBC provides, is among the best in Canada in terms of rates and coverage. A link is provided in the original story.

  • Harold McNeill

    August 16, 2019 |

    Many thanks for reviewing the article Elizabeth. There are so many areas of our society in which populism carries the day, although I think what is happening with the ICBC is that groups having a vested interest in private insurance would dearly love to dislodge ICBC from their preferred position. That being said, I think was a good move to have only portions of the insurance coverage in BC being held by ICBC and other portions being made available through private enterprise.

  • Elizabeth Mary McInnes, CAIB

    August 15, 2019 |

    It’s a breath of fresh air to see a resident of British Columbia look to review all the facts over believing what is reported in the news or just following along with the negative stigma of the masses. Your article truly showcases that with a little reform to ICBC’s provincial system – British Columbia could be a true leader for other provinces in Canada. Very well written article!

  • Harold McNeill

    August 13, 2019 |

    August 13, 2019. The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), a private enterprise group not unlike the Fraser Institute, is again on the campaign trail. They state ICBC rates are the highest in Canada, but, thankfully, Global BC inserted a section indicating the Insurance Bureau cherry-picked the highest number in BC and the lowest numbers in AB, ON and other Eastern Provinces. If you take a few minutes to check reliable sources you will find BC rates, are the lowest in Canada.