Separation of Church and State

Written by Harold McNeill on May 13th, 2014. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts, Editorials



May 2014, Late one night Stephen Harper and Peter McKay run away from the Supreme Court…

February 2018 (2018)
For a 2018 update on this subject link here to Church and State

This post will trace the evolution of our secular system of government and attendant public institutions. By remaining fully secular, these organizations allow all Canadians to remain free from religious rule and teachings, yet many are under constant pressure to revert to a more religious based system. It was difficult finding a way of criticizing without the criticisms being seen as a rant rather than a rational discussion. Hopefully, I have succeeded, but suppose that will depend upon the perspective of the reader. 

June 11, 2014: In a significant move BC Lawyers, by a vote of 3210 to 968, directed their benchers to reject an application for accreditation made by Trinity Western University for their new Law School. (Link)

May 15, 2014, 11:00 am. This is an Edited version of the original poster of May 13, 2014, at 12.29 pm.  Mostly cleaning up the structure with some subject matter moved around. There has been no alteration of the original direction and intent of the post.

A smattering of news reports over the past several weeks focuses on the challenges faced in maintaining a balance between competing interests in our pluralistic society. This week, PMO staff found the Prime Minister wandering around kicking chairs and punching walls after the Supreme Court yet again struck down one of his carefully crafted pieces of legislation. It is largely because of this Court of Last Resort that we are able to maintain a balance in our society. While the Prime Minister may rant and rave about this ‘activist’ court interfering in the business of Parliament, we should all be thankful it is there to protect our rights in cases where ideologically driven legislation fails to meet the standards set by our Constitution and Charter of Rights.

For his part young Trudeau choose to open Pandora’s Box with his directive about accepting only Pro-Choice candidates (if you please!). It seems Justin, God bless the little guy, has inherited his Daddy’s tendency to ‘never let a sleeping dog lie’, and as for little Stephen, he completely forgot his Mommy’s message about ‘not poking a hornets’ nest with a stick’. These items make for an interesting read, but, standing alone, are just stories about a couple of gifted and privileged boys playing politics in hallowed halls of Ottawa. Neither item would prompt me to write an in-depth post, but the next certainly did as that item, in my opinion, is an emerging challenge to our secular system.


The True North Strong and Pot Free —– Not

Written by Harold McNeill on December 20th, 2013. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts, Editorials


 The True North Strong and Pot Free —– Not
Vancouver, April 20, 2012. Over 20,000 people, the largest crowd to date, attended the Four Twenty Protest.
At 4:20 pm (precisely), a sweet smelling cloud lazily drifted over the Library and across downtown Vancouver.
Twenty thousand people just had a group toke.

It has long since been ordained that the ubiquitous Mary Jane would one day become, if not legal, at the very least a controlled substance sold in Government style Liquor Stores. Marihuana grow ops will be popping up across the country like dandelions on a newly planted lawn. Now that a few States in that bastion of extreme conservatism south of the border have begun to decriminalize the substance, can the Province of British Columbia’s five billion (that’s right five, with nine zeros) pot growing industry, be far behind? For BC  this is not a trivial amount of untaxed ‘free enterprise’ money by any count.

Seeing an opportunity in this trend, Medbox Inc., a U.S. based company, is set to introduce into Canada, automatic Pot Vending Machines (PVMs) for use by those licenced to toke as permitted under the Canada Health Act (link to story).  Apparently the PVMs provide easy and secure 24 hour access. Imagine, pot on demand at your nearest 7-11. It was also reported the RCMP is looking at installing machines in their remote detachments (link). City members, of course, will be able to pop by the nearest 7-11.


Index to Editorials

Written by Harold McNeill on May 30th, 2012. Posted in Index to Posts, Editorials

Most Recent at Top

(Gaps in Editorials over time indicate I was likely busy writing stories in other sections)


Posts on The 2019 Election

Is Fiscal Conservatism Dead

Left or Right: Is there a difference?

How to Game and Election

The SNC Lavalin Affair

The Kings of Conservative Media

The Changing Landscape of Politics in Canada


The past as a guide to the future (Part III): Over the past 60 years, many activities the police once performed as a natural part of their daily duty, eventually became incompatible with achieving their basic goals. What happened? (August 2019)

Comparing Differing Police Cultures (Part II):  What causes police departments in a close geographic area, begin to diverge in their culture. (July 2019)

Police Solidarity and the Push for Amalgamation (Part I):  The first of a four-part series on policing in the Capital Region of B.C. This part reviews a history of the local forces back to 1964.  (July 2019)

Canada, that which makes us one:  A Ukrainian dinner, coffee at Tim Horton’s or McDonald’s, and eating a meal at one of the many ethnic restaurants within three blocks of our home. It all adds up to who we are as Canadians.


The Changing Landscape of Politics in Canada  It all began in England (as all things do), it arrived in Canada when a young man from Victoria decided to work on an election campaign and it ended with an algorithm of sufficient strength to change the way we think.

Are Insurance Rates Soaring Across BC?   If you are a Conservative business person and a government-mandated business holds the reins of the insurance business in BC, you need to find a way to change that.  The best way to do that is to try and convince everyone the government-run business (a Crown Corporation) is costing everyone a ton of extra money.  It turns out that’s not true, that BC has the best auto insurance rates in Canada.

Church and State  How does Canada attempt to keep the Church and State in separate corners?  To see how important this is, all we need do is look at countries where the church is in bed with the state.  In the United States, it is almost impossible to get elected unless you openly express allegiance to God, even though the Constitution expressly states the two must remain separate.

R. vs Stanley: Saskatchewan Court of the Queens Bench:  So, you think justice is blind and that a trial by our peers is not affected by political imperatives?  Well, read on.


Intervention, the key to fighting crime: The RCMP have beefed up their efforts to identify and intervene where it is believed a young person is being drawn into a life of crime.  An Assistant Commissioner in the RCMP states this is the only way to reduce the risk of young people becoming involved in a life of violent crime. (June 2017)

Creating People Friendly Communities:  Is it possible to create people-friendly communities?  Of course, it is, but in order to do so there will need to be a move away from cars and our city and town planning departments will need to look more closely at how people-friendly communities are created and maintained.

Illegal Aliens intercepted in Sarnia:  It was a busy day for the Police and Security Service personnel as hundreds of illegal aliens from the United States made a dash for Canada.

Keep the peace and be of good behaviour:  Why is it our government and security agencies continue to push millions of dollars towards mitigating the minimal danger posed by would-be home-grown terrorists and completely overlook the far greater danger posed by homegrown criminals and gangs.

Brexit: How a minority took over a country:   51% voted to leave the EU, 49% voted to stay, but did those numbers actually reflect what Britain, Scotland, Ireland and Wales really wanted?


Visions of the World   This is a follow-up post to the attack in Charleston, South Carolina.  Why does the United States and Canada give domestic terrorist organizations that are white based a free pass? An earlier post of this appeared on Facebook in early 2014.

Oversight of Police and Security Services:  A look at Bill 51 from the perspective of a Police Sergeant who was present during the FLQ Crisis that gripped Canada in 1970 and how oversight of the RCMP Security Service failed badly. What lessons can be learne?. (October 15, 2015)

Advocating Terror to Become a Crime:  While ISIS style terrorism dominates the news, Criminal Gangs and Lone Wolves of the Criminal sort pose a far greater danger to Canadians at home.  The Criminal Law as it presently exists provides police and Security Services with plenty of tools to defeat those who would disrupt our society without adding dozens of terror related bills that will make things worse rather than better. (January 20, 2015)

To Live or Die: Some Hard Decisions:  Can Assisted Suicide be managed in a way that will protect the vulnerable?  This is another of those very difficult decisions that face Canada.  The life of a world renewed scientist, Dr. Stephan Hawkings, is used as an example. (February 9, 2015)


Terrorism, Another Perspective

Written by Harold McNeill on May 8th, 2013. Posted in Editorials

The tragic bombing in Boston demonstrates again how quickly and completely media, government and law enforcement can spin the terrorist card. Along with the deployment of well over a thousand City, State and Federal police, mass transit was shut down, businesses were closed and nearly a million residents of the area told to lock themselves in their homes until the suspects could be captured.  During the depth of the manhunt, the situation was best described by a Boston police officer who stated, “we are operating in the fog of war”.1

Boston: “The Fog of War” (Photo: MetroDCPhotography)

The hunt was on for two inept, ideologically driven brothers, both US citizens suspected of having set off crude bombs that killed three and seriously injured dozens more, created a media frenzy that quickly spead around the world. The difference in these killings from the tens of thousands of killings which occur each year in the United States is that the Boston suspects were Muslim, their weapons of choice were crudely made bombs, and, the event, being defined as an act of terror.


Smart Meters: A New Environmental Battleground

Written by Harold McNeill on February 2nd, 2013. Posted in Editorials

Note: Times Colonist, February 3, 2013.  Smart Meter foes fume at Coleman   Updated comments in the footer.

Note:  A copy of the following letter, purported to have been circulated by the President and CEO of BC Hydro, was sent to me by an anonymous source. I accepted and reproduced it at face value. Is it possible someone was spoofing me?


NRA: The Second Amendment Argument

Written by Harold McNeill on January 21st, 2013. Posted in Editorials

Photo (Web)  Business as usual. How can this position possibly be justified?
Feb 2017: 330)

The NRA continues to use the Second Amendment as a large part of their justification for maintaining the right of US citizens to own firearms without restriction (reference notes in footer). Their position is summarized in the following quote:

“The Second Amendment is not about hunting, target shooting or self defense. It is about the tyranny of government. It was born from a profound first-hand experience of how the loyal British subjects were betrayed on April 19, 1775, by their government, which sent soldiers to seize guns and ammunition. This is why Americans and in particular the NRA, are adamant in defending and preserving the Second Amendment. They know the tyranny of government.”

As a basic tenet, the NRA suggests it is only by arming the citizenry that government can be held to account. Think now about the nature of government in the US and Canada. What could possibly lead to a state of affairs in which it was deemed necessary for the citizens to pick up firearms and confront government? Our entire societal structure would first have to undergo such profound change that we would be in no different position than are the citizens of countries such as Egypt, Libya, Syria, etc..

With the advanced military-industrial complex that exists within the United States (and to a lesser extent in Canada), it is inconceivable the citizenry could ever mount a successful rebellion such as that taking place in the countries mentioned above. The entire NRA position is, in my opinion, simply a public relations exercise designed to justify the existence of the NRA as a title sponsor of the Republican Party.

If any modern, law-abiding, democratic country has deteriorated to a point where it was deemed necessary that ordinary citizens take up arms to defend themselves against each other or against their government, that country will already have fallen so far as to have become only a shell of it’s former self.

About the only organizations that would fit the NRA definition of being able to ‘fight’ a very limited guerrilla war against government would be fringe groups such as the White Supremcists and Patriots along other organizations such as the Sovereign Citizens in the US and Freemen of the Land in Canada. For various reasons I think the Tea Party has moved closer to becoming one of those groups and it is certainly not on the fringe as are the others.

On a positive note, the majority of citizens in the US and Canada recognize those organizations pose far more danger to our societal well-being than do the majority of ordinary citizens and the governments of our respective countries combined. Even so-called ‘terrorists’ cells do not match up to these fringe groups in their ability to damage our society.

While ‘freedom’ to own a gun is largely a US issue, it is one that also impacts Canada as the United States is our closest friend, neighbor and ally. The recent move by the Federal Conservatives to remove the Long Gun Registry and destroy all the records in spite of the requests by some Provinces to retain the registry, suggests their is an undergound movement to likewise lesson controls on ownership even though over 90% of Canadians support stringent gun ownership restrictions.  Within the United States, public support for greater control of guns is relatively strong, currently holding at over 60%.

As our two countries continue to evolve, it is important to see our futures evolving toward a more peaceful state of being, not nations in which organizations such as the National Rifle Association, White Supremcists, Patriots, Sovereign Citizens, Freemen, Tea Party and others threaten our well-being because of their fear mongering and extremism.

Just say’n…

Harold McNeill
Victoria, BC


Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger referred to gun lobby propaganda on this issue as “one of the greatest pieces of fraud…on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.”  (Link here for discussion)

Wikipedia provides a short description of the 1939 US Supreme Court Decision (United States vs Miller) which upheld the right of State and Federal governments to place restrictions on gun ownership. (Link Here). Since that time a number of other Federal and State Court decisions across the United States have followed that precedent. That the NRA and others have been able to perpetuate the myth that the right of individuals to own firearms is protected under the Second Amendment ranks right up there with the myth that Christopher Columbas discovered North American in 1492. (Link Here)

Gun Ownership in the United States:  Since 1973 the percentage of individuals in the US owning a gun has fallen from 47% to 36% in 2011. (Link Here).  The number in Canada is estimated at 20%. The number of guns per 100 people in the United States stands at an estmated 88 (the hightest in the world) while in Canada that number stands at 36.

Canadian National Firearms Assocition (Link Here) Not surprisingly, Canada has its own NRA, although it is not as powerful nor as extreme as its US counterpart.

Link here to NRA Attack Ads

The NRA in Canada:  The February 10, 2013 edition of the Fifth Estate provided a very good summary of the NRA position. The report stated that by 2015 in the United States there will be more deaths by gun shots than in car accidents.  In 12 US states, gun shot deaths already exceed vehicle accident deaths.

The NRA opened a branch office in Canada in order to help fight our existing gun laws.  The organization provided considerable support and funding to gain public support for overturning the Long Gun Registry and destroying all the files in order to make it more difficult for the registry to be implemented at some point in the future.

Businesses in the United States are the largest purchasers of handguns produced around the world.


NRA Attack Ads

Written by Harold McNeill on January 19th, 2013. Posted in Editorials

Photo (from Web). Further comments purported to be made by the NRA President are printed
near the end of this article (Note: I have not included a picture of the NRA ad attack on Obama, preferring
instead to point to the extremist views of the NRA).

Any who may have watched a US TV network over the past week or so, will likely have seen one or more of the dozens of Attack Ads mounted by the National Rifle Association (NRA) against Federal and State government attempts to bring in some form of gun control concerning high powered weaponry that is more suited to war. It is a small step supported by significant majority of citizens in the US.

To overcome this challenge, the NRA has targeted the Presidents daughters suggesting the President is being elitist because he provides his daughters the protection of armed Secret Service Agents both at school and at other locations to which the girls travel.
The NRA go on to state in dark, dramatic tones:  “Are the president’s kids more important than yours?” The narrator asks. “Then why is he skeptical about putting armed security guards in our schools when his kids are protected by armed guards at their schools?”

The video continues: “Mr. Obama demands the wealthier pay their fair share of taxes, but he’s just another elitist hypocrite when it comes to a fair share of security.”  The last statement brings in the subject of taxation that is near and dear to the Republican Party.

This is the classic form of an attack ad used so successfully, not only by the NRA, but by the US Republicans and Canadian Conservatives in recent years. Many on the left suggest these ads have crossed the line, but there is no denying the ads are extremely effective in molding public opinion. The more outrageous, the more effective.

Democrats and Liberals have been loath to attack in the same manner preferring instead to use some form of logical, reasonable argument to present their case. However, it has become patently clear this will not work as those dark, vengeful, repugnant and cowardly ads will win hands down every time.

In Canada, pay attention to the ads the Conservatives mount each time something significant is taking place in one of the opposition parties. The attacks were very effectively used against Stephan Dion, Michael Ignateiff, Bob Rae (Link Here) when they were named leaders of the Liberals. Thomas Mulcair, on becoming leader of the opposition NDP, was vicously attacked on several fronts (e.g. economic, not a Canadian, etc.) with the same creepy pictures, ominous dialogue and scary music: (Link Here).  The goal is to define those leaders in the most unflattering way possible.
As the Liberals work towards naming a new leader you may have noticed an increasing number of attacks against Justin Trudeau and others. On the day the new leader is named the Conservatives will go wild just as they did with Ignatieff  (Link Here)  and other Liberals before Ignatieff. Hopefully, the new leader to be named later this spring, will be prepared to mount ads to counteract the effect. Ignatieff seemed to think he could take the high road, but by the time he realized he could not defeat those attacks with reason, the game was all but over.

Politics, as played by the NRA, Republicans, Tea Party, Conservatives and others on the right, does not follow the Marquis of Queensbury Rules (of fair play).  The sooner Democrats in the US as well as the Liberals, NDP and Greens in Canada wake up to that fact, the sooner they will be able to neutralize the attacks they know will be coming.

Over the past several years the Stephen Harper, members of his cabinet and the party in general, have provided ample fuel for these ads and in most cases there would be no need to exaggerate the misdeeds and missteps. Take any one of the following:

Moving the economy from surplus to a major deficit (as did Bush over two terms in the US), War in Iraq (calling Canadians who opposed our entry as ‘cowards’), the Omnibus Bill on changes to the Criminal Code, the recent Omnibus Budget Bill, F-35 costs, robocalls, Quebec request to maintain the Gun Registry, sidelining all environmental and climate change discussions, proroguing parliament and the list goes on. 

Just think how easy it would have been to create attack ads involving any of these many items or even an attack on Stephen Harpers personality.  Harper and his cabinet collogues could have been made to look like idiots, yet they walked away free and clear with only a little blathering by the back benchers in Parliament and a few editorials complaining and whining about the Conservative agenda.  It was (and is) painful to watch.
Now, back to the NRA and following on the comments in the lead picture, the NRA President might well have gone on to say:

“It is a known fact that guns save lives. The more gun deaths we have in the United States the more people will realize they need to arm themselves. The more children we have killed in schools, the sooner people will come to realize that we need to arm parents, teachers and even older students to protect themselves. In America there could be no better deterrent to gun violence than by ensuring every American carried a gun. We at the NRA cannot fathom why people do not understand the logic. Go out today and buy a gun, it will not only help the economy, it will help the United States to become one of the most peaceful nations on earth.”

What has stopped the Democratic National Committee from creating a series of attack ads on the subject? With very little effort the NRA could be painted as the war mongering, big business serving, agents of the Republican Party they are without even doing any digging. It would not take long to create the conditions in which their attack ads against the President and others would be turned against them. What we get instead is silence and that silence is deafening.

Harold McNeill
Victoria, BC
January, 2013

Link Here to a Discussion of the NRA position on the Second Amendment


Freedom of Speech in Denmark

Written by Harold McNeill on November 29th, 2012. Posted in Editorials

December 5, 2012 Photo from Web:  It was only when searching out photos of the Jyllands-Posten that I noticed the sign on the facade of the building (Photo below). Is that the Star of David in the upper right corner and are those crosses on the windows?  If they are, the printing of the caricatures of Mohammad takes on a whole new religious/political aspect that would not have been absent if the magazine was considered to be a secular organization.

A few comments made in the 21st Chromosome Leads to Enlightenment post, provoked some lively discussion regarding Freedom of Speech in a democracy. Did the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, overstep the bounds when it published those caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad? Most would agree they had the right, but the question – did they have an obligation – is at the core? I staked my position by stating the actions were “stupid, petty and mean spirited,” however they did have an absolute right.

Yet, how could a mainstream newspaper editor possibly think that publishing a caricature of the Prophet Mohammad with a bomb in his turban to be more acceptable than publishing a caricature of Jesus Christ holding a blood-covered sword while standing over the dead body of a homosexual? Both caricatures would have an aspect of truth, but, at best, they would be reprehensible vilification of an entire group of people and their chosen religion.

Do you think for a moment any news editor of a mainstream paper, in any country that was 80% Christian, would have permitted the latter caricature to be published? Doing so might not lead to riots, but it seems doubtful the newspaper would remain a mainstream supplier of news and editorials for very long.

In Denmark, the editor stated there was an obligation to publish as pushback against those seeking to limit freedom of speech through implicit (perhaps explicit) threats. A disingenuous defence at best! More likely the editor was scrambling to defend himself, his paper and his country after becoming embroiled in a controversy that rapidly spun out of control around the world.

The Danish Imams and others who carried that message to the Muslim world were equally as guilty. They used the publication to create dissent they knew full well would go beyond peaceful protest, as that is often the outcome of promoting hatred. In addition, both parties were well aware that large portions of the Middle East were a tinderbox as people continued their struggle to gain freedom from vicious dictators, theocrats and extremist Ayatollahs.

Neither is North America, Europe and other democracies free from intolerance, hatred, and violence. Right up to the present day, those caricatures of Mohammad might well be caricatures of any the other cultures or groups represented by the epithets listed in the Chromosome article. That was the point of that post.

Perhaps if the Danish newspaper had published a thoughtful series of editorials about aspects of Islamic intolerance as practiced by some who claim to be Muslims, just as discussing aspects of Christian intolerance as practiced by some who claim to be Christians, would have helped to move things forward in a more reasonable fashion. If that had been the case, open conflict and bloodshed might have been averted and, perhaps, the discussions would have lead to a greater understanding.

Instead, in Demark today, there is likely less freedom of speech (caused by the fear factor) than existed before the publication. Also, there will certainly be more distrust between Danish citizens in the Muslim minority (6%) and those in the Christian majority (80%), than existed before. One only needs to Google “Pictures of Freedom of Speech in Denmark” and scan the attached blogs to get a sense of the rot that festers just below the surface. It would be hard, perhaps impossible, to find any upsides of the decision to publish those caricatures.

Harold McNeill
Victoria, BC
Late November, 2012

Note:  This post begs for further discussion as to how religious intolerance, is responsible for a large portion of the conflict that exists in the world today. That will be the subject of a future post in what it appears will become a series.

Link: 21st Chromosome Leads to Enlightenment

Link: Culture of Peace Blog

Collage: November 16th, International Day of Tolerance
(Link Here)



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  • 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.