New Orleans: Peeling back the Mask

Written by Harold McNeill on August 26th, 2015. Posted in Editorials, Tim Hortons Morning Posts


Photos (Web Source, then merged and wrapped using Photoshop)

Peeling Back the Mask

This post is actually a Tale of Two Cities. While New Orleans is widely known as the Big Easy to tourists and the well-heeled who call the city home, for a large and ever-growing number who work and live in the city, life is anything but easy. When the tourism mask is peeled back New Orleans becomes a city in which nearly half the population lives in poverty. Remember, this is a city that sits proudly among the Top 10 tourist destinations in the United States attracting over ten million visitors each year (Link)
January 1, 2018 (5300)

One a recent trip something that struck me is how New Orleans and Victoria, (our home city) are similar on several counts. Greater Victoria, the Garden City of Canada, has a population of roughly 365 thousand with New Orleans only slightly larger at 378. Both cities are sought after tourist destinations and while New Orleans is considerably hotter, both have agreeable climates, scenic waterways, and ample natural resources. Tourists in both cities are provided with first-class hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions, and even though Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, the tourist trade now exceeds pre-Katrina levels.  At this point, all semblance of the similarity ends.  Continued in Part 2.

August 27, 2005, New Orleans was engulfed by Hurricane Katrina, a storm that carried a surge that breached the old and inadequate levees and flooded much of the city. It was one of the most destructive natural disasters in New Orleans history, yet much of the death and destruction was not caused by the storm but by wilful neglect — the failure to secure the city from the storm surge. That was a ‘black and white’ issue.  To what extent has the city recovered?

1. The Mask: What the tourists see.

For visitors, the city presents a year-round fantasyland of boisterous, round-the-clock carousing that caters to every taste and where musicians, singers, and various other entertainers compete with the best. For anyone who loves music, particularly jazz, statues-1366142999you will love New Orleans. Just spend an hour sitting in the open-air Café Beignet (Three Statutes in the Musical Legends Park) on Bourbon Street and you will be treated to the sweet sounds of jazz as ever-changing groups of local artists pick up the beat.

Wander along the Quarter to the north end where, on Frenchmen Street, you will likely find an ad hoc group of young men playing in a random brass group that will blow your socks off. Then, one day, walk along Basin Street to get a feel for the history of that fabled city.

For the more adventuresome, including the Catholics in our midst, Mardi Gras, “beginning on or after the Christian feasts of the Epiphany (Three King’s Day) and culminating on the day before Ash Wednesday,” is a celebration you should not miss. (Link)  The celebration, also referred to as “Fat Tuesday, reflects the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season.”  Whether anyone other than the poor has ever fasted in New Orleans is questionable, and whether this is a destination of choice for the Lenten season, is doubtful. If, by this point, you have not been able to strike the city off your ‘bucket list’ it will likely remain at or near the top until you finally decide to wade in. For most Canadians, it is less than a five-hour flight from any of our major centres.

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Warning to Immigrants Entering Canada

Written by Harold McNeill on July 31st, 2015. Posted in Editorials, Tim Hortons Morning Posts


800px-Wawadit'la(Mungo_Martin_House)_a_Kwakwaka'wakw_big_house

This Victoria, B.C.  Big House is illustrative of a proud Aboriginal past where wealthy, prominent hosts would use it as longhouse for potlatching and housing guests. Potlatching was an innovative way for re-distributing wealth between families and clans, but the practice was brought to an abrupt end in 1884 in Canada through an amendment to the Indian Act. The same was done in the United States a decade later.

This was done at the urging of missionaries and government agents who considered the cultural practice to be “worse than a useless custom that was seen as wasteful, unproductive, and contrary to ‘civilized values’ of accumulation of wealth.” (Wiki Source). For those who didn’t know or may have forgotten, and that likely includes at least a third of the Canadian population, the Aboriginal people of Canada and the United States were the first to claim the Northern part of this continent as home.       

Note: September 8, 2015.  This pencil video narrative tells the story of early settlements in North Central America.  (LINK)

Introduction: Warning to Immigrants  

I felt compelled to write this post after receiving another of those wide circulation emails that spoke harshly of Muslims and others whose religious and cultural practices differed from that of white, english-speaking, middle class, Christians. Also, the fear mongering about the target groups and the harsh legislative agenda of various conservative leaning governments around the world over the past ten to fifteen years, has reached hysterical proportions.

In that vein, many Canadians may think Donald Trump an outlier, but it remains clear a significant number of people support him.   “This is our country not yours” is a refrain repeated over and over and fear mongering on a wide scale is a tactic used to cement the concept (e.g. “Mexicans are rapists”, “Muslims are terrorists”, etc.).  Make no mistake, when it comes to racism, Canadians can play that card with the best of them.

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Visions of the World

Written by Harold McNeill on June 22nd, 2015. Posted in Editorials, Tim Hortons Morning Posts


Harold holding new Canadian Passport

Harold holding his new Canadian Passport that was issued a few days back and is now valid until 2025.  About 53% of Canadians hold a passport, whereas the US stands at 20%. Given that most new Canadians apply for a Canadian passport (reference comments in footer), there must be a high percentage of natural born Canadians that have never bothered.

As many Canadians only use their passports for travel to the United States, Mexico, Cuba and other the Caribbean states, a large percentage of our population have never visited other parts of the world.

Visions of the World, was first written and posted on Facebook in early 2014. It is now updated and includes the following introduction. What prompted this re-post was a horrendous act of domestic terrorism in South Carolina carried out by a White Supremacist.  The case might make the front page of media outlets for a couple of days and will then drift off into history.

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‘Advocating Terror’ to become a Crime

Written by Harold McNeill on January 29th, 2015. Posted in Editorials, Tim Hortons Morning Posts


Home Grown Terrorists

Photo Collage:  A few of Canada’s notorious terrorists: The Bacon Brothers (BC), Maurice Bouchard (PQ), Eric Dejaeger (Nunavat), Vito Rizzuto (r)(PQ), Alan Legere (NB), Clifford Olsen (died in prison)(BC), Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka (Karla served 12 years after a plea deal) (ON), Willy Pickton (BC) and Russell Williams (ON).

Note: Just in case a few may think I am a left wing apologist for terrorists, you would be wrong.  Terrorists, whether they be of the criminal type or of the religious type, are despicable scum who deserve to be removed from civil society wherever in the world they may seek to practice their murderous ways. What I do not think we should do is give them a platform on which to spread their vile messages, nor should we re-direct billions in scarce funds away from those things that could make a real difference in reducing crime in whatever form it may present itself.

Introduction

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Facebook Photo Albums Easy Access

Written by Harold McNeill on November 14th, 2014. Posted in Editorials


Screen Shot 2014-11-14 at 9.29.13 AM

Facebook Screen Shot
(Double Click to Open in Full Size)

Facebook Photo Albums Easy Access

Have you ever tried to locate a specific Photo Album in your Facebook files?  When writing stories, as well as at times on the request of others, I have had to locate a specific photo album. If the file was a few years back, it can be a tedious process. Those who are more experienced in the technology, you may have a quicker method, but after sitting down one day in an seemingly endless search for one album in the 400 or so on my regular FB and another 150 on McNeill Life Stories FB pages, I decided to index.   It took me only an 45 minutes.  Given I have wasted that much time on a single search, I can now do the search in less than a minute.  How?

Bookmarking: Am I just slow or what?

Starting at the top (or bottom if you wish), hover over the name of the album, and the drop down box allows you to index on your Bookmarks Page.  Simple stuff I know, but until I figured this out I had wasted dozens of hours finding specific albums.  Below is one same of the albums uploaded back in 2008 at Mom’s 90th Birthday Party.  It is so nice just to be able to click on the specific file and be taken back six years to the exact file.

Cheers,

Harold

Facebook Screen Shot

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Local Communities: Keeping the Spirit Alive

Written by Harold McNeill on November 3rd, 2014. Posted in Amalgamation Posts, Editorials


 

 

13 Young PeopleNew Years Eve 2013 (Brentwood Inn):  While young people are always a big part of the spirit of every community, the current demographic is a new breed committed to maintaining and improving small communities and they have the power to greatly influence how life in the Capital Region will unfold by Keeping the Spirit Alive.
By coincidence, there are thirteen young people in this photograph. We have worked, travelled and partied with many of these young people during a good part of their lives.
(March 3, 2018, 535)

November 9, 2014: A new post on McNeill Life Stories Facebook Page:
Thirteen Communities and Ninety-Two largely Volunteer Councillors 

The Real Costs of Amalgamation (Time Colonist November 23, 2014)

Another Post on this Blog: Amalgamation, Searching for the Truth

To our younger family members and friends in the Capital Region,

Do you think it possible that one morning you might wake up and your community, as you know it, was suddenly changed forever?  I am not referring to a natural disaster such as an earthquake or hurricane, but to a political change that would affect the fabric of your community and the social glue that holds it together.  Please take a few minutes to digest the attached post and other links provided in the footer.

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Amalgamation: A Search for the Truth

Written by Harold McNeill on October 27th, 2014. Posted in Amalgamation Posts, Editorials


Truth Photoshop

Cartoon (Modified Web Source):  It is amazing how good information can change the complexion of an entire debate.
Join in A Search for the Truth.

Update March 30, 2016,  The Research Paper referenced in this post was first published in 1999 by Dr. Robert L. Bishas he neared the end of his career at the University of Victoria, School of Public Administration.  Seventeen years later, in 2016, Dr. Bish collaborated with Josef Filipowicz at the Fraser Institute to provide a complete update of the information presented in the original study.
Link to the Fraser Institute Study

(Link to Photo Album of this amazing place we call home)

Link to the Next Post in Series: Local Communities: Keeping the Spirit Alive

November 9, 2014: A new post on McNeill Life Stories Facebook Page:
Thirteen Communities and Ninety-Two largely Volunteer Councillors 

The Real Costs of Amalgamation (Time Colonist November 23, 2014)
March 2018 (Count 609)

Dear Reader,

This post provides a short overview and links to four studies that will likely answer many questions as to whether amalgamation of some or all the Municipalities in the CRD or of the Police Services in the Capital Region, is warranted.

These excellent works, written by a world-renowned expert in the field, Dr. Robert L. Bish, provide not only an in-depth review of the comparative costs and operational efficiencies in the Capital Region, it also compares the BC Regional District system with other city and municipal systems across Canada and the United States.

These studies provide clear evidence the Regional District system as developed in British Columbia, is the most inclusive, efficient and cost-effective form of Government in North America. In that regard, British Columbia was, and continues to be, a leader in the field and is often cited as a model for others.

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Amalgamation: Questions and Answers

Written by Harold McNeill on October 21st, 2014. Posted in Amalgamation Posts, Editorials


Capital Regional District

College (L to R): (T) Langford, Sidney, Victoria, Saanich, Highlands,
(C) Esquimalt, (Malahat), (CRD) Oak Bay, Metchosin,
(B) Colwood, Sooke, North Saanich, Central Saanich, View Royal
(Link to Photo Album)
Link to original Post: Amalgamation in Victoria

Note: After this Question and Answer post was written and published, and by pure chance, while doing a further search, an astounding discovery was made: The Bish Papers.  These papers, written by a renowned Economist and researcher into Public Administration, pulled away the veil of opinion and conjecture that defined the debate on Amalgamation. You may still wish to read this post and the one previous (linked above), however for solid, reliable information read the papers Dr. Robert L. Bish.  Link here:

Amalgamation: A Search for the Truth

The Real Costs of Amalgamation (Time Colonist November 23, 2014)

Introduction:

Since posting the original Amalgamation article in 2011, then updating it in October 2014, a number of exchanges regarding the content have taken place. The updated original (linked above) spoke to the many advantages of living in the Capital Regional District.  Clearly, not everyone agreed: dysfunctional, costly, over-supplied, cronyism, duplication, poor-decision making, hidden incompetence, poor media coverage, etc. These were just a few of the words used to describe the CRD and its members.

The words were spoken by otherwise thoughtful, intelligent individuals who are totally committed to the cause of amalgamation. On the other hand, I am equally committed to preserving the best of what we have. Most often the comments on either side appear only in posts where an individual is preaching to the converted.  In this post, the contrasting ideologies are placed side by side. Whatever may be the outcome, I don’t want CRD members or electorate, being pushed into making a decision based on faulty information or the whims of a few people. The four situations in #7 involving bad and very expensive outcomes pushed forward by persons in a position of power, as outlined in the final section of this post.

First, a sample of the questions asked and the answers given:

1. Question: 

There is a thing you refuse to answer in your posts and that really hits at the core of the matter: if you were drawing municipal Fort_Victoria_watercolourboundaries from scratch based on what would serve the people of the region best, would you draw the lines where they are today?

Painting:  Watercolor painting of the southwest bastion of Fort Victoria with harbour to the left by Sarah Crease (wife of Henry), 8 September 1860.  It was from these humble beginnings other communities began to take shape along the Saanich Peninsula and West to a community now called Sooke.

Answer:

I have mixed feelings about ‘what might have been’ questions. I seldom ask them of myself, as the question never helped me to move forward. My gut feeling, based upon 55 years of living in this area, is that had this city began and remained just one city from early in the last century, many of the CRD areas would not be nearly as well developed, and filled with citizens who were generally satisfied with their lives, nor would they be as close to their government as they are today. Even within the core, when Oak Bay, Esquimalt and Saanich began to emerge, they ended up with their own districts rather than as part of Victoria.  I spoke more to this matter in Part 6 of Amalgamation in Greater Victoria

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Comments

  • McNeill Life Stories Why I stand with science? - McNeill Life Stories

    November 11, 2019 |

    […] During the Ice Age, the Earth’s average temperature was about 12 degrees Fahrenheit colder than it is today. That was enough to keep snow from melting during the summers in northern regions. As snow fell on the snow, glaciers formed. (NASA Earth Observatory) […]

  • McNeill Life Stories How to Game an Election - McNeill Life Stories

    September 18, 2019 |

    […] The Federal Conservatives and Seymour Riding Association complied but one day later those memes will be shared by every third party social media site and by thousands of supporters where the message will be taken as a statements of the fact.  Five years from now those memes will still be circulating. (Link here to background on the SNC Lavalin matter) […]

  • Harold McNeill

    August 21, 2019 |

    For those who followed the earlier post about the cost of ICBC Auto insurance coverage in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba (linked in comments) here is another follow-up article.

    This article again confirms earlier assertions that public-private insurers such as that which ICBC provides, is among the best in Canada in terms of rates and coverage. A link is provided in the original story.

  • Harold McNeill

    August 16, 2019 |

    Many thanks for reviewing the article Elizabeth. There are so many areas of our society in which populism carries the day, although I think what is happening with the ICBC is that groups having a vested interest in private insurance would dearly love to dislodge ICBC from their preferred position. That being said, I think was a good move to have only portions of the insurance coverage in BC being held by ICBC and other portions being made available through private enterprise.

  • Elizabeth Mary McInnes, CAIB

    August 15, 2019 |

    It’s a breath of fresh air to see a resident of British Columbia look to review all the facts over believing what is reported in the news or just following along with the negative stigma of the masses. Your article truly showcases that with a little reform to ICBC’s provincial system – British Columbia could be a true leader for other provinces in Canada. Very well written article!

  • Harold McNeill

    August 13, 2019 |

    August 13, 2019. The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), a private enterprise group not unlike the Fraser Institute, is again on the campaign trail. They state ICBC rates are the highest in Canada, but, thankfully, Global BC inserted a section indicating the Insurance Bureau cherry-picked the highest number in BC and the lowest numbers in AB, ON and other Eastern Provinces. If you take a few minutes to check reliable sources you will find BC rates, are the lowest in Canada.

  • 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.