Canada: That Which Makes us One

Written by Harold McNeill on January 7th, 2019. Posted in Editorials, Tim Hortons Morning Posts


Diversity in Canada Has The Capacity to Inspire The World

Celebrating at a Ukrainian Christmas (1) dinner gave me pause to think about how these cultural
celebrations help to define Canada – that which makes us one. One dinner you ask? Well, it goes much deeper as it also includes coffee breaks at Tim Hortons, restaurants and the Canadian Soccer teams. It all fits into the fabric of our national identity.

1. A Ukrainian Dinner Celebration

On Sunday, January 6, 2019, Lynn and I went to dinner on the eve of Ukrainian Christmas at the home of one of my former police partners. We both retired twenty-five years ago and for years our families lived a stone’s throw from one another in West Saanich. Ukrainian Christmas was, and is, always a big celebration in their home (1). In addition to Al and Mary and their immediate family, three other couples, also long retired police members and their wives, were at the table of eighteen.

As we dined, surrounded by that uniquely Ukrainian bounty, we were not just celebrating a special event in the Gregorian calendar year, we were celebrating what it means to be Canadian. That feast and those friends served to remind us of how fortunate we are to live at peace in a mix of cultures, languages, traditions, religions, and varieties of food types that is unprecedented in the world. It is a mix that accompanies us every day, not just on special occasions.

Photo (Web source).  This table represents about half the set for our special meal. All items were prepared at home and served piping hot. 

2. Tim Horton’s and McDonald’s:  The coffee crowd

Earlier in the day (Sunday), I made a couple of visits to Tim Hortons at the Royal Oak Shopping Centre (2). It was, as usual, overflowing. I grabbed a seat beside an acquaintance from Syria. He and his delightful family are making their way in a new country they now call home. When he left for an appointment, I struck up a conversation with the man on my right, a person I did not know.

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The Changing Landscape of Politics in Canada

Written by Harold McNeill on August 24th, 2018. Posted in Editorials, Tim Hortons Morning Posts


Screen Shot 2018-06-13 at 8.14.26 PM

The Changing Landscape of Politics in Canada:

August 24, 2018: With the bombshell just dropped by Maxime Bernier, this post, which I began researching and writing a couple of months back, has taken on new significance.  There seems little doubt that at least some of the unseemly tactics that plagued the recent Ontario election will also mark the next federal election.  The question asked, and which I try to answer is, “to what extent will the effective use of social media define the winners and losers?”

And, this post will also outline why I think, in a four-party system, it is possible that 65% of Canadians who split the vote between three parties, could hand a majority to 35% who didn’t vote for one of those three.  It is also a process by which a man such as Doug Ford could, in the federal election following the next, become the Prime Minister of Canada.  (2008 Federal election split)  (2011 Federal election split)

1. Party Platforms, where did they go?

In the past, party platforms were meant to draw voters to a particular set of principles developed by a party over months and years (1). They were the centrepiece of every election campaign and, there was plenty of room for debate at all candidate meetings from the party leaders to grassroots.  However, in this new age, winning or losing seems to be based more on who best controls the message and who owns the most effective means of smearing an opponent or idea (2). If you followed the leadup to the Brexit vote or the last US election, the winning sides resorted almost exclusively to messages of fear and hate, mixed with a good measure of fake news.

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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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Intervention, the key to fighting crime

Written by Harold McNeill on June 11th, 2017. Posted in Police Notebook, Editorials


 

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This post is created from an interview with RCMP Assistant Commissioner James Malizia (file photo above) as published in the National Post (front page) June 7, 2017. (Link here).

The following edition is modified slightly with the word terror being replaced with the word crime. Making this simple change leads to an entirely different perspective in the article. To my mind, this suggests everything the Assistant Commissioner had to say about terror serves only the interests of the RCMP and other security agencies and not the interests of the general public.

As background, in 2015 (the most recent year readily accessible) there were over 380,00o violent criminal acts in which 605 people were murdered, with attempts being made to murder a further 774. Over 200,000 people reported aggravated sexual assaults (this does not include other aggravated assaults), with 22,000 reports of robbery and 3,500 reports of abduction. When these real-life criminal cases, which present a clear and present danger to Canadians, is cast against the almost negligible possibility of a terrorist act occurring, it makes it seem as if the Assistant Commissioner has no concept of how trivial his suggestions are.

Statistical Source: Canadian Criminal Crime Statistics 2015

Malizia: Early Intervention is the key:

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World at War: Remembering our History

Written by Harold McNeill on November 9th, 2016. Posted in Editorials


earl and edna davis

Edna and Earl Davis (Lynn McNeill’s mother and father) at their Wedding in August 1943.  Earl met Edna while serving in England and they married shortly after. After spending one night together, Earl shipped out for combat in Italy where he spent the rest of his war years fighting in a number of bitterly won battles. The couple were not reunited until after the war when Earl returned to Canada where Edna was waiting after having emigrated with dozens of other war brides.

The World at War: Remembering our History1

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Creating People Friendly Communities

Written by Harold McNeill on September 21st, 2016. Posted in Editorials


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Photo (Web Source): In 2013, this small Alberta town was seriously damaged by a massive flood.
The residents did something unusual in their efforts to rebuild their community and spirit.

NOTE: September 30, 2016   The Sidney Section of this post is being re-written as a result of further information being received.

Harold

Contents

  1. General discussion on building people friendly communities.
  2. Have we mended our ways in how we build communities?
  3. Two new mall models from within Greater Victoria.
  4. How one small Alberta town changed the way they do business.
  5.  Are we capable of holding out for a better form of development?
  6. Sidney by the Sea and North Saanich: (This section is being re-written as a result of new information being received from various parties in Sidney and North Saanich)

Appendix

  1. Topical Links
  2. Two Alberta towns with and amazing amount of unrealized potential
  3. Another thing about malls

1. Moving to the realm of possible: Building people friendly communities

Is it possible to develop or redevelop our communities into people friendly places rather than communities defined by cars, traffic flow, parking lots, malls and nondescript suburbs.? While the development of commercial and residential land is essential for the continued financial health of our cities and towns, it is obvious developers lead the way in both design and scale. With few exceptions, we have completely missed the experience of other parts of the world where creating people friendly cities is a priority.

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Comments

  • 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

  • Terrance

    January 5, 2019 |

    A VERY COMPREHENSIVE ANALYSIS. ALL POLITICIANS SHOULD READ THIS.

  • Harold McNeill

    December 23, 2018 |

    Thanks Sis. I will be uploading as Hi-Def so the photos can be viewed full screen. Brother