Building a Cohesive Canada

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

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)

Tim Horton’s Morning Post (Jan 25, 2020):

Building a Cohesive Canada

In my morning read it’s not often I find a double-page report of an interview in the National Post that speaks so candidly and supportive of a Liberal politician whose leadership is truly inspiring.

The interview with Freeland took place in Edmonton and appeared in a post article titled, “Freeland proud to be earnest and idealistic” (Edward Luce (A8, A9)). As with many (perhaps most) Canadians, I like Chrystia Freeland, a Peace River farm-girl whose mother was born as a displaced person in a US Military Camp in Germany shortly after the end of WWII.

Both Chrystia’s father and mother became lawyers as well as farmers in the Peace River District and because Ms. Freeland excelled in the early years of her education,  she was able to attend Harvard on an Alberta Government scholarship. After graduating, she earned a Masters at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. She then entered journalism and worked her way up in the field at the Financial Times, Washington Post, the Economist, Globe and Mail and various other national
and international news agencies.

It was not until 2013 she left journalism to enter politics and at every level, Ms. Freeland demonstrated she is a force to be reconded with. Not only does she set high standards, but she also does so while unequivocally supporting and encouraging all those around her. Ms. Freeland obviously understands shades of gray that define politics. (1)

While I sit on the Liberal bench, at the same time I do not hide my support for many aspects of both the NDP and Greens. In that regard, I think the left holds most of the cards when it comes to balancing the interests of the majority of Canadians in a country that is the most ethnically diverse in the world. Take a moment to read a few
statistics in this document, Immigration and Ethnocultural Diversity in Canada. While Freeland clearly understands and accepts that diversity as being an integral part of Canada, she also understands the business world, and the delicate balances that exist in our society. (2)

This quote from Ms. Freeland, “I happen to be a Ukrainian Canadian. When I moved to Toronto I had an instant community of Ukrainian Canadians. There’s a community there that my kids can immediately experience in Edmonton or Saskatoon. Or the same for Sikh Canadians.” (From the NP article).d

Having read her papers, I rather think Freeland might have become a reasonably
astute Conservative had her world unfolded in that manner. I hasten to add it would not be a world in the mold of Kenny, Ford, Scheer or several others who seek leadership of the party.  An Alberta friend, Maggie Corns, suggested it would be interesting to have a National election that cast Chrystia Freeland against Rona Ambrose. Indeed it would and, perhaps, at some point in the future, that just might happen.

What we don’t need in the world today is another country playing the race card as a means to divide and conquer as is the path being followed by Britain, the United States and a few others in the European Union.  In that mix, I  include Quebec, however, I think part of the reason Quebec tends to follow that path, is the decades of struggle they faced in trying to shed the yoke placed upon them by the Catholic Church, a yoke that through dogma and symbols controlled almost every aspect to Quebec life.  Unfortunately, over the past couple of elections, the Conservatives have been all too quick to use the race card as a lever with Maxime Bernier, the man who was barely edged from the leadership of the party by Andrew Scheer, is the most egregious example.

I encourage you to take fifteen minutes to read the National Post article about Ms. Freeland. All things being equal Ms. Freedland will continue to rise and at some point could become the second woman to sit in the Prime Ministers office (3). Not only is she is a young woman, a farm girl who grew up in Northern Alberta, she is also a distinguished academic, journalist, negotiator, and politician who has stood against the toughest and most erratic people in the world and she has prevailed. (4)

Both President Trump and President Putin intensely dislike the woman, with President Putin going so far as to ban her from entering Russia.  In my opinion, both men realized they could not beat her back at any level, therefore choose to employ the tactics of every bully, that of trying to belittle or exclude her.


(1)  SNC Lavalin is the most recent example of how shades of gray can blend into the political landscape and how it can be played both for and against a government in their everyday decisions.  It would be nice to live in a world that’s clearly black and white but the danger in that is deciding which colour is which.

(2)  “Freeland is the author of Sale of the Century, a 2000 book about Russia’s journey from communism to capitalism[4] and Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else in 2012.  Plutocrats was a New York Times bestseller and the winner of the 2013 Lionel Gelber Prize for non-fiction reporting on foreign affairs.[7] It also won the 2013 National Business Book Award for the most outstanding Canadian business-related book.”

(3) Kim Campbell was the first woman to sit in office after succeeding Brian Mulrooney when he resigned in June 1993.  With only two months left in the five-year term, she lost her seat in the November election in which the Liberals came back to power under the leadership of Jean Chrétien.

(4) A Toronto Star writer, Heather Mallick, better captures many of my thoughts about our Deputy Prime Minister in her article, “Chrystia Freeland is the smartest federal minister we have

(5) And this from the Globe and Mail today (January 27, 2020) “The Conservatives don’t just need a new leader, they need to decide who they are.”



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  • Harold McNeill

    July 25, 2021 |

    Glad you enjoyed Craig. It was fun researching and writing that particular post. It seems I was in school many years before you, the 1950s to be more precise. Cheers, Harold

  • Craig Patterson

    July 18, 2021 |

    Thank you for sharing this. I grew up in Cold Lake (former town of Grand Centre) and we’d heard many stories over the years. Today I was talking to my Mom about the Kinosoo and I came to this article when I was searching images of the fish — I recall when I was in school in the 80s where was a photo supposedly taken (I think it’s the one of the ice fisherman above).

  • 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.