Author Archive

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.

This article is brought forward following an article in the Saanich News stating ICBC rates for some classes of vehicle are grossly inflated as compared the Alberta.

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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The Scratch and Lose Caper

Written by Harold McNeill on March 12th, 2017. Posted in Police Notebook, Tim Hortons Morning Posts


lottery-tickets_0

How to scratch open a jail cell.

At 2:00 am Sunday, or at that time any other day of the week, Greater Victoria was known as the land of “Newlyweds, Nearly Deads.” As traffic thinned during those early morning hours, the hum of the tires on a car traveling at high speed could be heard for miles. On this morning, the hum was that of an early 1960’s Oldsmobile, a machine having witnessed better days, as it sped East along Pandora, then onto Oak Bay Avenue.

The four young men inside were still hooting and hollering after partying late in one of the downtown clubs. They were now heading home to Gordon Head but having missed the Fort Street cut-off that would have taken them to Foul Bay Road then north, continued East along Oak Bay Ave. All had been drinking heavily and had no particular purpose in mind other than getting home to continue the party.IMG_0975

As they approached Foul Bay Road someone hollered: “Hey man, ya gotta turn here!” However, speed and distance would soon become limiting factors given the tank in which they were riding. The driver, his sense dulled by alcohol, braked heavily then cranked the wheel hard left. As momentum and weight took over, the tires broke away in a wide yaw that led first to the sidewalk, then to West wall of Frost’s corner store.

Photo (web) A 1960’s style Oldsmobile, 4-door.

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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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Climate Change: Ground Zero

Written by Harold McNeill on January 19th, 2018. Posted in Travelogue, Adventure


Cape Drougt 1
Climate Change, Ground Zero: April 21, 2018
The day the taps will be turned off in Cape Town, South Africa.
(Photo album of Cape Town)
(Jan 28, 131)

As we arrive in Cape Town, South Africa, a Metropolitan area of 3.7 million, a large sign at our airport advised the city was experiencing a severe drought and while the sign urged us to Cape Town Signconserve, the welcoming nature of the sign did not impart the notion of just how critical the situation had become.

Photo: This was the sign. Perhaps a photo of the Cape Reservoir (above), along with a hard message might have had more impact of just how critical things are now, not years from now.

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Index to Biographies

Written by Harold McNeill on December 24th, 2017. Posted in Index to Posts


This index will be completed in January 2018.  Here are the first five which includes a short history for Laura Isabel Skarsen (McNeill)(Wheeler).

Link to Part 1 A New Beginning 
Link to part 2
 The Early Years
Link to Part 3 The Young Woman
Link to Part 4 A New Beginning
Link to Part 5 The Final Chapter

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Comments

  • Andrew Dunn

    May 14, 2019 |

    Thank you so much for all your help thus far Harold, aka. Tractor guy! I could not have done without you!

  • Harold McNeill

    April 25, 2019 |

    I find it interesting to contemplate how a small community evolves in general isolation from the rest of the world. We have a similar situation in the northern communities in Canada to which access is limited. The inclusion of the world wide web and mass media has changed things, but these communities are still left pretty much to their own devices when it comes to personal interaction.

  • Harold McNeill

    March 19, 2019 |

    Hi Dave. Not that I am aware and I have a fairly comprehensive family tree for the McNeill side of the family. I will pull it up and scan. Cheers, Harold. Great chatting with you and I will give Ben a nudge.

  • Dave Cassels

    March 16, 2019 |

    Were you related to Guy McNeill who owned the Bruin Inn in St. Albert in the late 40’s or early 50’s? Guy was a close friend of my father-in-law who was the first President of the Royal Glenora Club. My phone number is 780 940 1175. Thank you.

  • Harold McNeill

    March 15, 2019 |

    So glad you found the story and enjoyed. Indeed, they were memorable times. I did a fair amount of searching but never managed to contact any of the Murffit kids. However, it was neat to make contact with the Colony and someone I knew from back in the day. I have enjoyed writing these stories from back in the 1940s and 50s and have made contact with a lot of friends from those early years. I will give you a call over the weekend. Cheers, Harold

  • Yvonne (Couture) Richardson

    March 7, 2019 |

    I enjoyed your story. I too, lived in Pibroch in 1951, as my parents owned the hotel there. I was a very close friend of Bonnie Murfitt at the time. I moved to Edmonton in 1952, however, and have not seen her since. I would like to be in touch with you to talk about your story. My email is listed above and my phone number is 780-475-3873.

  • Laureen Kosch/Patry

    March 5, 2019 |

    I grew up in Pibroch and would not trade those years for anything. “ Kids don’t know how to play anymore” Never was a truer statement made. During the summer we were out the door by 8am, home for lunch, and back when it got dark. For the most part our only toys were our bikes and maybe a baseball mitt. I will never forget the times when all the kids got together in “Finks field” for a game of scrub baseball. Everybody was welcome, kids from 8 to 18. I didn’t know it then but I guess I had a childhood most dream of. Drove thru town last summer. It all looked a lot smaller.

  • Harold McNeill

    January 13, 2019 |

    Well, my dear, it’s that time again. How the years fly by and the little ones grow but try as you may you will have a hard time catching up to your Daddy. Lots of love young lady and may your day be special
    Love, Dad

  • Harold McNeill

    January 5, 2019 |

    Guess what? My response went to the Spam folder. Hmm, do you suppose the system is trying to tell me something?

  • Harold McNeill

    January 5, 2019 |

    Thanks, Terrance. Your comment came through but went to the Spam folder. Have pulled it out and approved. Can you send another on this post to see if you name is now removed from Spam? I’m not sure why it does that. Cheers, Harold