A Tale of Two Cities

Written by Harold McNeill on April 16th, 2016. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts

These iconic symbols are central to the core of two cities that are close to being twins in terms of size and focus, yet it is their differences which set them worlds apart in terms of liveability.

New Orleans and Victoria

What is life without hope for the future?

While Victoria struggles to alleviate challenges posed by homelessness – at this moment a tent city that sprung up near the courthouse – it is still a city where the majority of our people live comfortable lives and look towards the future with optimism. There is another city on this continent that is in many ways a mirror image of Victoria, yet that city is on a downward spiral that leaves little hope for a better future for more than half the population. It is a port city like Victoria and at 360,000 is only slightly larger than our own.

As one of the most popular tourist destinations in North America, in 2014 that city attracted ten million visitors who left behind seven billion dollars, an economic windfall many times larger than that of Victoria. With that huge economic advantage it is hard to understand how the city has become one of the most poverty and crime ridden metropolitan areas in the United States. 

That city, of course, is New Orleans – The Big Easy.  Over the first three months of 2016 the city experienced 118 shootings with 31 murders. Over the past 22 years it has remained in the Top 3 for murder, and for 13 of those years it was #1. From 2010 to 2012, the most recent three years in which it ranked #1, the city averaged 450 shootings and 189 murders in each year and murder is only the tip of a violent crime epidemic that penetrates to the very core.

It takes the integrated New Orleans PD an average of 1 hour and 13 minutes to attend a 911 call. Non-emergency calls can sit for days and many never even receive police attention. The 1200 member NOPD force is currently 400 under strength due to a lack of funding combined with resignations, firings and general attrition.

By comparison, Greater Victoria’s mix of 7 Municipal, City and RCMP forces with a total of 540 sworn members and each force is close too their authorized strength. The response time in the Capital Region for 911 emergency calls will be no more than a few minutes except in extraordinary cases and all the local police forces generally follow a policy of ‘No Call to Small’.

Dozens of other comparisons and contrasts between Victoria and New Orleans were covered in a 2015 editorial titled New Orleans, Peeling Back the Mask.   That article is being brought forward today after reading an April 15th editorial in National Post titled Shooting casts a grim light on the Big Easy (A3). These articles serve to remind each of us just how well off we are in Victoria and, for that matter, in every other city across Canada.

While homelessness in Victoria, Vancouver and other cities needs serious, ongoing attention, we are fortunate that the issue, along with other similar social issues, regularly make headlines that invoke many people to become involved in trying to solve the problem. In New Orleans and many other US cities, the type of social issues we face in cities and towns across Canada do not even come close to being on their radar.

We should all give thanks for that imaginary line referred to as the 49th parallel.  Now, take a few minutes and read the full background on New Orleans and what it means to taste poverty in a rich, modern day democracy where the dividing line between the rich and poor is turning into a chasm (link)



National Post (A3), April 15, 2016.   In the past I could link articles such as this, but that no longer seems possible even though I buy a single paper most days of the week.  I shall explore how to better access these items. Perhaps one of my FB friends who are more knowledgeable in these matters could provide some advice.  hdm


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  • Harold McNeill

    January 15, 2021 |

    Wow, Graham, I was taken by surprise (but then again that’s not too hard). Having all you fine folks (my children by other fathers and mothers) would have been great. I’m hopeful that sometime in the not too distant future, we can reprise that trip. Perhaps we’ll just set aside a time for someone else’s landmark day, and we can surprise them. Love to you two. Harold

  • Graham and Nazanin

    January 15, 2021 |

    How could we miss this historic event my friend!!!
    Nazy and I were booked for that cruise Harold, we were looking so forward to it.
    We will be together soon! We both wish that continued unconditional love you receive from everyone to continue as you are that special someone that makes a difference in this world.
    Happy birthday sir, cheers!

  • Harold McNeill

    January 7, 2021 |

    Glad you found the site and that Dorthy enjoyed. I’ve added a lot of school photos in other locations linked to the High School Years stories. Cheers, Harold

  • Shelley Hamaliuk

    January 2, 2021 |

    Hi there, I am Dorothy Marshall’s (nee Hartman) daughter. Mom was quite excited when she discovered this site while surfing the net yesterday, so excited that she told me to have a look! She quite enjoyed taking a trip down memory and seeing old pictures of herself.Keep up the great work!

  • Harold McNeill

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Rick,
    Great to hear from you and trust all is going well. Our family members are all doing well but it must be pretty tough for a lot of people. I had once heard you were going to do some writing but never heard anything further. I would be most interested, but do you think the OB News have archives back to that time. Any link or information you could provide would be greatly appreciated. Did you keep copies? Regards, Harold

  • Rick Gonder

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Harold
    About 22 years ago I spent several weeks going through the OBPD archives. I wrote several stories that were published in the OB News. Feel free to use if they are of value to what you are doing.
    Keep this up, I’m enjoying it and it brings back memories.

  • Harold McNeill

    April 12, 2020 |

    Hi Susan,

    Glad you had a chance to read. I decided to update these stories by proofreading as there were several grammatical errors in many. Hopefully, many of those glaring errors have been removed.

    Many of the stories carry a considerable amount of social comment regarding the way the criminal justice system is selectively applied. Next up involves a young woman from near Cold Lake, Alberta, who was abducted by an older male from Edmonton. Her story is the story of hundreds of young men and woman who have found themselves alone and without help when being prayed upon unscrupulous predators.

    Cheers, Harold

  • Susan

    April 8, 2020 |

    Great read, Harold!…and really not surprising, sad as that may sound.
    Keep the stories coming, it is fascinating to hear them.
    Love from us out here in the “sticks”, and stay safe from this unknown predator called Covid.

  • 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 […]