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

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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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Remembrance Day 2012

Written by Harold McNeill on November 10th, 2012. Posted in Editorials


November 11, 2012: Remembrance Day

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 the Italian Campaign. The couple were not reunited until after the war when Earl returned to Canada and Edna joined him shortly after as one of the hundreds of young war brides. Chapter 1 of Black Friday (see notes below) provides more of the history of the Davis Family as they criss crossed the Atlantic.

Remembrance

Nations have always found many reasons to go to war and although worldwide conflict has decreased significantly since the end of World War 2, conflict between nations and ideologies still take far to many lives. Perhaps within this century, a lasting peace will be attained.

November 11th is set aside as a day too remember the millions of military personnel and civilians (men, woman and children) that have been killed, injured, orphaned, displaced or otherwise had their lives drastically changed as a result of war.

The following articles trace some of the history as well as well as the experience of one soldier, a bomber pilot, Bert Ramsden, now 92 years of age and living in Victoria:

A Pittance of Time (For Video Link Here)

Black Friday in Norway (Link Here)

Chapter 1:   The World at War: Remembering our History includes a bit of the history of Lynn’s Mom, a War Bride from England who came to Canada after the war with her Dad who served in the Italian campaign during the closing years of World War 2.

Chapter 2:   Meeting a World War 2 Veteran, Bert Ramsden

Chapter 3:  In The Early Years Bert traces his path through High School and into the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1941.

Chapter 4:  Basic Training in Alberta and Saskatchewan

Chapter 5:  Off to War with Prime Minister Winston Churchill  (as surprise passenger on the ship that took Bert to England)

Chapter 6: Black Friday (An Attack in Norway)

Chapter 7: Allied Losses on Black Friday

Chapter 8: End Notes

Link to an Amazing Coincidence

Remembering Viet Nam

Photographs (Link Here)

 

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Twenty-First Chromosome Leads to Enlightenment

Written by Harold McNeill on November 7th, 2012. Posted in Editorials


Adults-with-learning-disabilities-sing-Merry-Christmas-to-County-Councillors

Photo (Web Source): Several young people, a few of whom share a quirky 7th or 21st chromosome, gather for a Christmas Party.  Within the group can been seen a few like our son who have that quirky 7th that is commonly known as Williams Syndrome (I)

Recent Videos:  May 14, 2022. A Quick Look at Williams Syndrome

February 14, 2022. 60 Minutes Australia Discuss Williams Syndrome

A Winning Smile, A Loving Heart (2020 Birthday Video)

Re: Open Letter Penned to Anne Coulter

On October 23, 2012, a young man, John Franklin Stephens, an Olympian, posted a letter to Anne Coulter on the Special Olympics blog. In the letter John chided Anne for her insensitivity by referencing President Barack Obama as a retard. John, a very inquisitive and sensitive man who entered life with a mix-up in his 21st chromosome, inquired of Anne as to why she choose to use the word ‘retard’ to describe President Obama. John’s comments include:

… I thought first of asking whether you meant to describe the President as someone who was bullied as a child by people like you, but rose above it to find a way to succeed in life as many of my fellow Special Olympians have.

Then I wondered if you meant to describe him as someone who has to struggle to be thoughtful about everything he says, as everyone else races from one snarky sound bite too the next.

Finally, I wondered if you meant to degrade him as someone who is likely to receive bad health care, live in low grade housing with very little income, and still manages to see life as a wonderful gift…

… After I saw your tweet, I realized you just wanted to belittle the President by linking him to people like me. You assumed that people would understand and accept that being linked to someone like me is an insult and you assumed you could get away with it and still appear on TV.   Link here for Letter

John’s words struck a chord with my wife and me (reference footnote 2) and with the general public. His remarks were shared widely across the internet and in news reports worldwide. When kids were called names in my school years, they would often resort to the singsong mantra: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” Perhaps! These taunts were often passed singly from person to person or within small groups at school or on the street in an earlier age. The coverage, while hurtful, was relatively narrow.

Today, broadcast media and the internet allow such taunts to go viral. Within short order, a single tweet was shared among thousands, perhaps millions, as in the case of the post by Anne Coulter. We have all read stories of the tragic results, and Anne is not the only person responsible for such thoughtless, mean spirited words and actions.

Why are words of a taunt used to describe an individual or groups of people? For many, racism and prejudice play a significant role as individuals and groups seek to demonize those they do not understand or who they might hate for a thousand different reasons. In recent years, the Muslim community has taken the brunt of such prejudice, while at an earlier age, others (e.g. Irish, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Eastern European, etc.) were vilified. For others who carry on this practice, they may use it to assuage feelings of inadequacy or inferiority they sense within themselves. For ordinary folks like Anne, the taunts are used to gain notoriety and to aid in holding a job that provides an excellent salary and notorious celebrity status.

Take a moment and think about words that have been invoked over the past 100 years to belittle or degrade a defined cultural group or those connected by a common interest or orientation (e.g. race, religion, sexual, disability, etc.):  Nip, Kike, Pongo, Nigger, Kraut, Wop, Bow and Arrow, Nestor, Wagon Burner, Chug, Frog, Spick, Bohunk, Wigger or Wegro (for Irish), Chink, Slant Eye, Pollack, DP (Dumb Pollack), Rag Head, Towel Head, Waki Paki, Dogan, Infidel, Bible Thumper, Carpet Kisser, Christ Killer, Jew, Jesus Freak, Faggot, Dyke, Queer, Pansy, Queen, Retard along with dozens upon dozens of others that also include the most despicable pictures and jokes. Have you ever received one of those vile emails about another culture or about members of our society whose lifestyle is different? For instance, did you hear the one about the Paki (or lesbian or queer)…?

Hateful and hurtful, clearly, yes, but does not use of these words or published material speak more to the character of taunter than the taunted? Anne’s use of the word retard speaks volumes about the small world Anne and her listeners occupy and very little about those she (and they) seek to disparage.

As for Anne Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and countless others on far-right or left who continue to drawn people in with to their thoughtless, hate-filled, and politically motivated comments to gather viewers, listeners, readers and voters, there is little can be done other than follow the lead of young John Franklin Stephens whose 21st chromosome led him along a path of enlightenment. Is it not wonderful that a young man with some limitations can make a difference on the world stage?

Harold McNeill
Victoria, BC
November, 2012

A Winning Smile, A Loving Heart (2020 Birthday Video)

The Pixie Children

Williams Syndrome: “Is caused by a deletion of about 26 genes from the long arm of chromosome 7. The syndrome was first identified in 1961 by New Zealander J.C.P. Williams and has an estimated prevalence of 1 in 7,500 to 1 in 20,000 births”, a relatively rare occurrence at best. (Wikipedia)

I have the distinct privilege of being the step-father to a young man whose quirky 7th chromosome gifted him with a charming and extraordinarily kind character. I would venture to say the young man, now forty, and his group of brothers and sisters around the world, do not have a mean bone in their bodies. These children and adults are always ready, willing and able to lend a hand to someone (anyone) in need and while they may chide others for being ‘mean’, I have never seen one of them judge others harshly because of mental incapacity, religion, ethnic origin or socio-economic status.

On a literary note, it seems likely those gifted with this extraordinary 7th chromosome, have, in centuries past, lead many to believe they possess a kind of magical or mystical power.

Over the decades these children have come to be known widely as the ‘pixie’ kids and it seems likely their stature and facial features may have lead to a folklore filled with elves, fairies and other forms of the ‘good people’ or ‘wee folk’ as is so often present in English literature. Coincidently, it was in an article by a British Physician that my wife and I first learned about the nature of the syndrome in our own son.

Drawing: Poor little birdie teased by Victorian era illustrator Richard Doyle who depicted an elf with the facial features associated with Williams Syndrome.

Since having become this young man’s step-father and having been drawn more deeply into a world of individuals who face life challenges that most of us will never experience and of which few of us have any real understanding, I have found that community to be filled with individuals who are loving, caring and helping, without reservation and without condition.

An intriguing question, and one that as far as I know has yet to been answered, is why individuals with quirky chromosomes at locations such as ‘7’ (as in Williams Syndrome) and ‘21’ (as in Downs) are gifted with a full range of similar personality traits of which most of the mainstream population is not. Well, perhaps the mainstream is likewise gifted, but simply choose to park those traits on a back shelf as being ‘inconsistent’ with some of their practices.

Think for a moment of how differently our world be if those personality traits were brought to the forefront and shared on a regular basis among the majority of mankind?

Harold

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Quebec Election Results

Written by Harold McNeill on September 7th, 2012. Posted in Editorials


Cartoon: When Renes Levesque became the PQ Quebec Premier in 1976, the rest of Canada became apoplectic. Not only was Levesque very popular across Quebec, but, over time, Canadians in other Provinces came to admire the chain smoking, outspoken work-a-holic.  Levesque initiated the first major charge for Quebec independence which was then carried forth by the PQ party, a charge that nearly succeded in 1995.

Following loss of the referendum by vote of 50.6 to 49.4 (less than 53,500 votes), then PQ Premier Jacques Parizeau, blamed the loss on money and the ethnic vote. Following the loss, he quit in a fit of anger while giving a speech that was nothing short of racist. Since that time the PQ party has carried the separtist banner in which open racism bubbles just beneath the surface.  

September 4, 2012 Vive le Canada!

Interesting election results in Quebec, although that tragic shooting certainly threw a pall over the emerging results.  With 68.1% of the population voting against them, and relegated to a rather weak minority position, the PQ certainly have their work cut out for them. 

From my perspective, if the PQ remain intent upon creating ‘winning conditions’ in any vote for a separate state, they must attend to the following:

Cartoon: Quebec Separtists continue to fight a battle that was lost nearly two and one-half centuries ago. It is time to move on.

Federal Handouts: Over the next eight years (assuming they stay in power), reduce their reliance upon Federal handouts by ONE BILLION per year. A tough financial hit, but without first weening themselves from those generous federal handouts, theyh would be reduced to third world status.

Balance the books.  At present Quebec is almost on par with Italy in terms of indetedness, yet they are a very rich Province in terms of natural and human resources. The PQ will need to begin reducing the funding for many programs (e.g. child care) and may even need to increase University fees above that which the Liberals imposed.

Increase immigration. Quebec, with an extremely low birth rate, must bring in many more immigrant workers willing to take jobs that no ‘self respecting’ Quebecer would consider. This is a problem that is shared with the rest of Canada.

Drop talks of linguistic crackdowns.  With the absolute need for more foreign workers, few of those new workers will be French speaking. If those workers do speak a second language, it will very likely be English. To seek both linguistic purity and independence is an oxymoron unless the PQ intend on forming a dictatorship in which the majority of Quebecers would have no voice (except French).

Secular Province: If there is an intent to become a fully secular Province, do so, but do not give Christianity a free pass. With the demise of the power of the Catholic Church, Quebec has already moved from being the most Christian Province in Canada to the most secular.  Trying to legislate back something that has been lost in the sands of time is a ‘lost cause’. Prohibiting only non-christians from displaying religious symbols is pure racism. It is either all or nothing.

With the economic drivers of Canada having moved westward over the past two decades, Quebec will find that fewer and fewer Westerners and, for that matter, other Canadians who are much worried about Quebec pulling the pin. The advantages to Quebec in staying are far to numerous. The was reflected by the percentage vote in the election.

The PQ, holding barely 30%, need to spent all their time cleaning house before anything close to “winning conditions” might be created. Of course, in trying to do that they would alienate all Quebecers. I don’t think the PQ has the fortitude to follow that path, so the only path they can follow is by creating as much dissension as possible. They have learned that lesson well from the Republicans, Tea Party and other fringe groups within the United States.

Take a few moments and read the PQ Platform for Quebec (remember they carry this platform while, at the same time, reap the benefits of being a part of Canada):

Quebec

  • Achieve sovereignty for Quebec following a public consultation by referendum when deemed appropriate.

  • Use any means at Quebec’s disposal to fully assume all powers for the development of Quebecers, particularly in the areas of education, culture, social programs, health, justice, the environment and immigration.

  • Develop a new Quebec secularism charter.

  • Establish Quebec citizenship.

  • Create Espaces Québec to spread the expertise of Quebecers to countries where we have economic, political, scientific or cultural interests.

  • Strengthen teaching and research in history at all levels, from elementary schools to university, with a focus on the national history of Quebec and its institutions.
  •  
  • Strengthen Quebec’s presence within the Francophonie.

Cartoon: There seems little doubt the PQ will continue to whine and cry about how unfairly Quebecers are being treated in Canada and will bait Ottawa at every opportunity. Creating as much dissension as possible rather than improving conditions for the majority of Quebecers many be the PQ’s only chance for success. 

In that quest, I think (and hope) the PQ will fail as the majority of Quebecers have come to realize their future is inextricably linked to a united and prosperous Canada. The new battle cry in Quebec could very well become:

“Vive le Quebec! Vive le Canada! Vive le Canada libre!  Vive le Canadian Dominion! Et vive la Canada!”  

 

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I am a Liberal

Written by Harold McNeill on August 13th, 2012. Posted in Editorials


This photo, which places Bob Rae in a diminutive position in front of the large Liberal backdrop and with a rather sad, resigned look on his face as he gives a farewell wave, captures, in a poignant way, the current status of the Liberal Party of Canada. Any new party leader will need to change the face of the party by bringing an inspired vision and indefatigable confidence about the future.

February 2015.  This post is brought forward from the summer of 2012.

I am a Liberal.  There, I’ve said it again. It sounds suspiciously like the preamble to a confession of having had an addiction, does it not?  Also, is it not funny how saying those words out loud has a better feel when sitting at the top of the heap rather than at the bottom?  Well, not exactly the bottom, we are still above the Greens and the Block, but as the Greens are in an ascendency period, they are still savouring the euphoria of success.

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Quebec Student Protests

Written by Harold McNeill on May 27th, 2012. Posted in Editorials



 

March 25, 2012.  Thousands march in Montreal in protest of Bill 78, a Quebec law designed to crack down on street protests. I doubt if you will see any masks in this crowd.

Note: Bill 78 was passed on May 18.  For a general discussion of the timelines and events, the follow Wiki links is recommended by a FB friend in Montreal, Gilles Arpin: BILL 78

Comments

It was the Quebec student protests that spurred me to get busy and write the Prague travel post (Link). This was mainly because I felt the people of the Czech Republic and other former satellite states of the Soviet Union (as with those in Egypt, Libya, Syria and others) demonstrate a dogged determination to change their world for the better. In Eastern Europe, nearly 80 years of death and destruction were visited upon those Easter Block countries before peaceful co-existence became a real possibility. (Reference the Prague post for more details). For Africa as well as other countries of the world, it remains a work in progress. Now, back to Canada.

While the vast majority of Canadians, both young and old, demonstrate a strength of character that continues to help shape a peaceful, productive society, a few, shall we say a privileged few, take much for granted. Perhaps, in many ways, I do the same thing with my Pension Plan, Health Care and general services that provides me with a standard of living that is second to none in the world.  

Recently, in Quebec, one small but vocal group of University students suggested their fragile, privileged world would fall apart if the Government applied a $325.00 per year increase in student fees in each of the next five years. The protest began with a small degree of public support, but that turned sour when masked intruders invaded University classrooms in an attempt to intimidate teachers, students and staff. On the streets, mask thugs usurped the peaceful intentions of the majority of protesting students.    
 
Those who know me or have read some of the editorials on this blog, know I am a staunch advocate, both of the rule of law but also of vigorously protecting civil liberties and freedoms entrenched within the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Our Charter is a document for which many people around would be willing to forfiet their lives and, in many cases, thousands have already paid that ultimate price. Each day in Libya, Syria and Egypt we seen hundreds seeking just a small measure of the freedoms we enjoy.  

That challenge in Canada is that infringments of our Charter by various levels of government are often let to slip by with nary a word of protest. An example was the mass arrests that took place at the Toronto G20. All three levels of government as well as three levels of police (Local, Provincial and Federal), not only acted badly, but, in several cases, committed criminal offences for which they will likely walk away scott free.

Photo (Web): Police car on Queens Street West was left to burn, then smolder for hours as the media played and replayed the clip.

From the moment marked police cars were strategically placed within the protest zone, then left to burn for media camera’s, the stage was set for mass arrests that included hundreds of well intentioned protestors. The result, a significant  percentage of the Canadian public was justifiably outraged. Since that time little has been done to properly review these matters and bring the culprits, particularly the police, before the courts. 

In Vancouver on the other hand, the public overwhelmingly supported the police in the actions taken to quell the hockey riots and that support has continued as the worst perpetrators are being identified and brought before the courts. I do not recall one police officer being accused of a criminal offence or even abuse of power.

While police cars in Vancouver were also burned, the situation evolved so quickly, police had little chance to protect the cars as roaming crowds outnumbered them at least 1000 to 1 as there had been no real expectation (perhaps that was their greatest error) that rioting would erupt. I am still amazed at how quickly and efficiently the police managed to bring that very dangerous situation under control without loss of life or serious injury.

The student protests in Quebec are an entirely different story. While the students initially had what they felt were legitimate concerns (student fees), the public turned solidly against them after the invasions and the actions of masked protestors. 

Photo: Masked individuals marched through Montreal University distrupting classes and threatening students. Can you imagine how you would feel if these thugs invaded your study or work-place. With scenes likes this, it was easy to understand why action of some sort was needed.

The Government, sensing they had gained full public support and the upper hand, introduced Bill 78, which, as it turned out, had a completely unexpected outcome. Both public and the students massively attacked the intent of the Bill, which was, in effect, to curtail public protest. The whole issue suddenly switched from being about student fees to one of civil liberties and freedom.
 
While very few have sympathy for masked protestors (they were responsible for most of the damage and disruption), no one thinks the government response will do anything other than push more protesters onto the streets, just as we have witnessed over the past few days. We now see mom and dad, old and young now taking to the streets in the thousands with pots and pans in hand. The original student protests have been relegated to a non-event except in the hands of the media and a few diehard students.

A cynical person might suggest it would have been an ideal for the Montreal Police to strategically place a few unprotected, marked police cars along known protest routes and wait for nature to take it’s course. A burning police car and a couple of masked men jumping on the roof could certainly become a defining moment as it was in Toronto.

A friend of mine in Quebec predicts that by mid-summer, if the Government does not find a way to maneuver out of this situation, if police continue to make mass arrests and if the students do not back off, it will eventually take the army to restore order. Some may remember the Front de liberation du Quebec (FLQ) and the crisis of October 1970. At that time civil liberties were suspended across Canada and police given massive powers to arrest and detain. No one wants a repeat of that sad month in Canadian legal history.

Photo (Web): Peaceful, but now illegal, ‘pots and pans’ protest moves along Bernard Street in Montreal. Such protests are taking place all over Montreal and Quebec.

As this matter has now evolved, I stand fully with the protestors on the issue of civil liberties and would be on my front law banging pots and pans (maybe I can start something here), not because I support a few spoiled students, but because of what the Quebec Government did in response. It demonstrates clearly how a Government can, with little thought for future consequences, can introduce legislation that goes against common sense. We have all watched as the Federal Government has doing the same thing for the past several months. In the long the Federal ruling party will most certainly pay a big price for the liberties they have taken with the Charter, just as will the Government of Quebec.

While I do not support civil disobedience or mass protests except in extreme circumstances, I would be much more concerned if no one in Quebec or the rest of Canada for that matter, took issue with the legislation as it stands. I would also be marching and banging a pot if I lived in that Province, but I don’t so the best I can do is write a short post that a few might read and reflect upon.

As for those Quebec students and their tuition fees – get back to class, find a better way to bring your concerns forcefully to the government and then get on with life. Save your energies for a real issue.

Harold

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His Holiness, the Dalai Lama: An Open Letter

Written by Harold McNeill on May 10th, 2012. Posted in Editorials


tibetan-man-new-delhi-1

This photo provides a stark reminder of the challenges faced by Tibetans and how a few young Monks have sought to bring attention to the plight of their people.  The letter that follows encourages His Holiness the Dalai Lamas to return to Tibet to stand with his people as others have done when their people were being oppressed and brutalized.

“Tibetan culture, religion and identity face “extinction” and (the) residents of Tibet (are) living in ‘hell on earth’.”  A quote by the Dalai Lama made at the Dharmsala Conference, India, on March 11, 2009. (Reported by Emily Wax, Washington Post)

His Holiness, The Dalai Lama
May 11, 2012

Dear Holiness,

Re: Has the time come to go home and stand shoulder to shoulder with your people?

During your recent visit to Canada, I noted Prime Minister Harper warmly greeted you (photo left), but did so in a rather low key fashion. I suspect that was because he did not want to offend the Chinese Government as China has become an extremely important trading partner for all manner of Canadian resources, goods, and services. Your reception by other world leaders seems to follow the same general trend – respectful, but low key and not likely to influence China one way or the other regarding their harsh treatment of the people in Tibet.

I also note your status as a media darling has grown substantially in recent years and while you grant many interviews, those interviews must be closely scripted as I cannot remember hearing one hard question ever being asked of your Holiness. In a recent clip broadcast on a Canadian News Network station and in other interviews, the hosts were extremely deferential and never came close to asking a probing question. In this open letter, I will take a few lines to pose a few questions and make a few observations, some which beg for answers from your Holiness. I choose this medium because it is the only one available as I am unlikely to ever have the chance to speak with you personally.

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Comments

  • Harold McNeill

    February 28, 2022 |

    Hi Robert, I do remember some of those folks from my early years in Cold Lake (Hazel was my aunt and our family spent many fond times with Uncle Melvin, Aunt Hazel and Family. I knew Lawrence and Adrian. Having read a half dozen accounts it is clear their were many false narratives and, perhaps, a few truths along the way. I tried my best to provide an even account from what I read. Cheers, Harold. (email: Harold@mcneillifestories.com)

  • Robert Martineau

    February 25, 2022 |

    Its been a long time since any post here, but its worth a shot. My Grandfather was Hazel Wheelers brother Lawrence, and son to Maggie and Adrien. Maggie Martineau (nee Delaney) is my great grandmother. The books and articles to date are based on the white mans viewpoint and the real story as passed down by the Elders in my family is much more nefarious. Some of the white men were providing food for the Indians in exchange for sexual favors performed by the Squaws. Maggie was the product of one of those encounters. Although I am extremely proud of my family and family name, I am ashamed about this part of it.

  • Julue

    January 28, 2022 |

    Good morning Harold!
    Gosh darn it, you are such a good writer. I hope you have been writing a book about your life. It could be turned into a movie.
    Thanks for this edition to your blog.
    I pray that Canadians will keep their cool this weekend and next week in Ottawa. How do you see our PM handling it? He has to do something and quick!
    Xo Julie

  • Herb Craig

    December 14, 2021 |

    As always awesome job Harold. It seems whatever you do in life the end result is always the same professional, accurate, inclusive and entertaining. You have always been a class act and a great fellow policeman to work with. We had some awesome times together my friend. I will always hold you close as a true friend. Keep up the good work. Hope to see you this summer.
    Warm regards
    Herb Craig

  • 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.

  • Howie Siegel

    November 25, 2021 |

    My only fight at Pagliacci’s was a late Sunday night in 1980 (?) He ripped the towel machine off the bathroom wall which brought me running. He came after me, I grabbed a chair and cracked him on the head which split his skull and dropped him. I worried about the police finding him on the floor. I had just arrived from Lasqueti Island and wasn’t convinced the police were my friends. I dragged him out to Broad and Fort and left him on the sidewalk, called the cops. They picked him up and he never saw freedom again (as far as I know). I found out it was Ross Elworthy.

  • Herbert Plain

    November 24, 2021 |

    Just read you article on Pibroch excellent. My Dad was Searle Grain company agent we move there in 1942/3 live in town by the hall for 5 years than moved one mile east to the farm on the corner where the Pibroch road meets Hwy 44. Brother Don still lives there. I went to school with you and Louise.