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)

Regards,

Harold

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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Comments

  • Herb Craig

    December 14, 2021 |

    As always awesome job Harold. It seems whatever you do in life the end result is always the same professional, accurate, inclusive and entertaining. You have always been a class act and a great fellow policeman to work with. We had some awesome times together my friend. I will always hold you close as a true friend. Keep up the good work. Hope to see you this summer.
    Warm regards
    Herb Craig

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Hi Dorthy, So glad you found those stories and, yes, they hold many fond memories. Thanks to social media and the blog, I’ve been able to get in touch with many friends from back in the day. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Well, well. Pleased to see your name pop up. I’m in regular contact via FB with many ‘kids’ from back in our HS days (Guy, Dawna, Shirley and others). Also, a lot of Cold Lake friends through FB. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Oh, that is many years back and glad you found the story. I don’t have any recall of others in my class other than the Murphy sisters on whose farm my Dad and Mom worked.

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Pleased to hear from you Howie and trust all is going well. As with you, I have a couple of sad stories of times in my police career when I crossed paths with Ross Barrington Elworthy. Just haven’t had the time to write those stories.

  • Howie Siegel

    November 25, 2021 |

    My only fight at Pagliacci’s was a late Sunday night in 1980 (?) He ripped the towel machine off the bathroom wall which brought me running. He came after me, I grabbed a chair and cracked him on the head which split his skull and dropped him. I worried about the police finding him on the floor. I had just arrived from Lasqueti Island and wasn’t convinced the police were my friends. I dragged him out to Broad and Fort and left him on the sidewalk, called the cops. They picked him up and he never saw freedom again (as far as I know). I found out it was Ross Elworthy.

  • Herbert Plain

    November 24, 2021 |

    Just read you article on Pibroch excellent. My Dad was Searle Grain company agent we move there in 1942/3 live in town by the hall for 5 years than moved one mile east to the farm on the corner where the Pibroch road meets Hwy 44. Brother Don still lives there. I went to school with you and Louise.

  • Herbert Plain

    November 24, 2021 |

    Just read your life account of Pibroch excellent.
    My family mowed to Pibroch in 1942 Dad was grain buyer for Searle Grain Company lived in town for 5 years than mowed one mile East to the farm on the corner of the road from Pibroch and Hwy 44. Bro Don still lives there.I went to school with both you and Louise.

  • DOROTHY MARSHALL

    November 15, 2021 |

    These stories brought back some sweet memories for me. a wonderful trip down memory lane . the photos were great. It has made me miss those days.

  • DOROTHY MARSHALL

    November 15, 2021 |

    Enjoyed your story Harold Dorothy Hartman