Rogers Communications: Deceptive Business Practice

Written by Harold McNeill on March 17th, 2012. Posted in Editorials

Rogers Communications

This was the attitude that greeted me when I took my complaint
to the Rogers office in Vancouver.

January 2015.  I brought this post forward as this scam is still active with Rogers.

The Scam: Originated from a Call Centre in Ohio (March 2012)

A few days back I was caught short during a Rogers Communications Customer “Satisfaction Survey” being conducted from a Call Centre in Ohio. Although I don’t usually take these calls near dinner, I was in a bubbly mood so decided to let the woman ask away (ah, I can be led so easily).

After a few questions about my degree of satisfaction with Rogers, she went on to ask if it was OK to check and see if any savings could be found in our account (a reward for doing the survey I suppose). Well, why not, I had fun with the survey? She then spent considerable time (20 minutes or so) going over various options and I was feeling bad for taking up so much of her time trying to find so little in savings. She stated: “no problem, Rogers is here to provide you with the best service we can” or words to that effect.


Rarefied Beef and Deep Fried Sushi

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

Happy Meal

Who, in their right mind, could resist the
MacDonald’s Happy Meal pictured above?

I picked up on this story from an article in the National Post last week (Rarefied Beef) as it has long been a mystery to me why the lowly hamburger, one of the five main foods in the Canada Health Food Guide and sold by the billions across Canada, is only considered to be safe when it is cooked to the consistency of shoe leather. From my perspective, the hamburger ranks about even with a morning coffee at Tim Horton’s coffee as an essential part of the Canadian diet.

Personally, I like my hamburgers thick, juicy and cooked to a point where there you can still see a small ribbon of pink after that first delicious, mouth watering bite. When I was little, I used to snipe bits of raw hamburger when mom was mixing the ground meat with egg (also a raw ‘no-no’), onions (you can eat them raw, but I recently learned they suck in bacteria after being sliced), breadcrumbs (to make the meat go further), salt and pepper (pretty safe). A few of you may cringe at knowing at my mom let me have a bite of raw burger?

Well, my mom was a professional cook (today we would call her a Chef) for her entire life (she passed away in her early 90s) and never once did she turn a burger into shoe leather and, guess what, in some eighty years of cooking (she started young) she never poisoned anyone.

Photo (Web) The Violetta Burger, served up by the Rollin’ Etta food van in Portland, Oregon, is reported to be the best of the best in the Pacific Northwest: Link here

Cooking a thick burger until the pink is gone means the surface is likely charred to a crisp and most of the juice long since disappeared into those BBQ flare-ups. I have even watched as people squished the meat down to get rid of the final threat in that juice. Yummy, another hamburger sacrificed to the temperature police. You may just as well have picked up a Big Mac, or taken out one of those thin, frozen patties, thrown it in the microwave and nuked it until every little critter that might have at one lived in that burger, was dispatched to the great beyond. Most certainly, that burger will be totally safe, but what’s the point? Does it sound like a burger you would enjoy?

My mother-in-law (I loved her dearly), a war bride from England (the English wrote the book on overcooked meat), was a person who played it safe with every cut of meat. In true British tradition, she cooked a roast until the inside was as crisp and colourless as the outside. Mind you, it was mildly OK if you cut it very thin, smothered it in gravy and used plenty of ‘hot’ horseradish. One thing it could never be called was succulent to the last bite.

It took the better part of ten years to get her daughter (that would be my buddy and life partner), to slowly make the switch from over cooked to a touch of pink, then a rich, red in a roast. She now has no idea why she even liked meat that was cooked to a colourless, dry mass.

Photo (Web) This Prime Rib leaves the mouth watering.

My Dad and his friends seldom cooked anything beyond the point of searing the surface. Unless the meat was running red, it was considered over cooked. Perhaps their impatient hunger was partially the result of the half pack they had each consumed before deciding they were hungry!

For North America at least, the explanation seems to lie in the fact that someone, somewhere, sometime, suffered from food poisoning that was traced to a piece of infected meat. A recent article in the National Post mentioned a 1993 case where 73 Jack in the Box outlets suffered an outbreak of E. Coli poisoning in which four people died and 700 taken to the hospital. The story went virile, food-safe scientists jumped on the bandwagon, a minimum internal temperature of 70oC (160oF) was declared necessary to kill E. Coli and the rest, as they say, is history. It is a good thing those same scientists did not look at people killed or injured in car wrecks or we would all be walking.

A National Post reporter also spoke to one restaurateur, who said he was more than willing to cook burgers that leave a band of pink, as well as a little food value and taste, still intact. That restaurateur had no concerns about E. Coli as he felt basic cleanliness was the key to safe food. If you find a restaurant that overcooks everything, perhaps you should have the health inspectors check out the kitchen.

Also, as pointed out in the article, restaurants in many countries around the world serve various cuts of fish, chicken, meat and similar products, raw, the belief being, I suppose, that raw foods, including vegetables (many with skins), taste better and provide the best food value.

Photo (Web): Consider for a moment how much safer the Sushi in this display would be if it had first been cooked to a temperature 70oC!  

In North American cities and towns, the fear capitals of the world, tons of raw fish are sold in Sushi Bars each day. Just watch, some day, someone somewhere will suffer food poisoning after eating their favourite sushi lunch. The media will pick up the story, the fear will spread, the Sushi Scientists will become involved and shortly thereafter, all Sushi Bars will be required to buy thermometers to make sure the fish has been cooked to the magic 70 mark. For the connoisseur of fine sushi, the world will be forever changed.

Apologies to my sister Dianne, you will have to become accustomed to pan or deep fried sushi when you visit our home as we do not wish to take a chance on poisoning you. Yummy!

In closing, I think John stated it best in one of his many hits:

C’mon, everybody’s talking about
Ministers, sinisters, banisters and canisters
Bishops and Fishops and Rabbis and Popeyes and bye-bye, bye-byes
All we are saying is give food a chance
All we are saying is give food a chance

Harold McNeill
Victoria, BC

Link to National Post article: Rarefied Beef

The temperature police in downtown Victoria





BCTF Strike Rally

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


June 5, 2012: Brenda Peacock, Jane Tufnail, Andrea Doak, Kate Reynolds across the street from Gabriola Elementary School on day one of the three-day strike. (Derek Kilbourn photo)


June 4, 2014:  This was posted by Kari McNeill, our daughter, on FB Page.  Her sister and our other daughter, Christine LeClair, was at one time a teacher so, I suppose, I am biased in these matters. But this postcard makes a pretty awesome statement as Governments (in general) never went after the Wall Street Traders, Enron Fraud Artists, or the Dot Com Billionaires who helped to push many local, state, provincial and national economies near bankruptcy.  Have you perhaps had a chance to read what some state governments (e.g. Texas) have been doing to Education in the US?  In Canada, we are not that far behind.

Note: (June 3, 2014): This story was originally posted in March, 2012 and is being brought forward as a result of the current lock-out/strike situation.


Terrorists or Warriors, what is the difference?

Written by Harold McNeill on February 23rd, 2012. Posted in Editorials

Terrorists or Warriors, what is the difference?
Is it religion, ethnicity, or just a matter of definition?

In 2006, at the same time radicalized Six Nations members were occupying the Douglas Street Estates in Caledonia, another event was taking place less than 200 kilometers Northeast in the Greater Toronto area.  In the GTA, eighteen men, reported to be radicalized Islamists, were being kept under intense surveillance by the RCMP and CSIS.

Following the arrest of the Islamists for allegedly planning a terrorist attack, the group became internationally known as the Toronto 18.  The arrests brought a deluge of accolades, particularly from the US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice as well as other US and world leaders.

Prior to this arrest, heated rhetoric emanating from the US, accused Canada of being ‘soft’ on terrorists and having a border filled with holes. Despite the fact we had suffered only one major terrorist attack in the past century, that being the Air India bombing, the US felt Canada needed to be doing more to combat terrorism as it was defined by the US following the attack on the World Trade Centre.  That Canada had not joined the war in Iraq remained another sore point in Canada/US relations.

Meanwhile, in the parallel Caledonia case, law and order began to fall apart when heavily armed and masked Six Nations ‘Warriors’ invaded and secured the Douglas Street Estates, a nearly completed housing development on the outskirts town. When the police did nothing to restore law and order on Estate property, the owners obtained a court order directing the OPP to dislodge the Six Nations Warriors.

After making one poorly planned and executed assault, the police, heavily outgunned and outnumbered, were easily repelled by the Warriors. It was a humiliating defeat for the OPP and one from which they would not recover. Following the raid, the Court orders to remove the warriors from the Estate properties were quietly left to rot on the OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino’s desk.

Even as people were being assaulted and hospitalized, Commissioner Fantino would not remove his order to his officers to “stand-down”.    Those officers who chaffed at being restricted from arresting those found committing criminal offences and those who openly criticized the Commissioner’s order were removed from duty at the site and sent to some outpost to continue their career as a ‘red circled’ officer.

The Toronto 18 Terrorist Group

Back in Toronto, as bits of information were released by CSIS and the RCMP about the arrest of the Toronto 18 “terrorists’, the 18 men became widely known in Canada and around the world for the ineptitude of their Tim Horton’s planning sessions and the haphazard manner by which they went about recruiting members, several of whom were wide-eyed teenagers seduced by the glory of joining the jihadist cause. In the eyes of many, the whole episode reeked of political opportunism and police entrapment designed to show that Canada was a player in the fight against terrorism.

In one news report the Crown’s key witness, Mubin Shiakh (pictured right) recruited as an “agent provocateur” who infiltrated the group, made it clear the whole episode, while dangerous and could have resulted in death, was far from being a well planned terrorist event. The following is taken from the news report:

Having infiltrated what became known as the Toronto 18, he (Mubin Shiakh) doesn’t believe they (the Toronto 18) were capable of pulling off their ambitious plan to storm Parliament, set off bombs and behead our prime minister. But he believes that whatever course they settled on, it would have meant the destruction of human life.

Transcripts and stories about the setup of a radical training camp, in Washago, include a lot of trips to Tim Horton’s. The wannabe terrorists had a thing for French Vanilla coffee and hot chocolate.

“If you want to deal with terrorism,” Shaikh grins, “set up a Tim Horton’s.”

Before testifying, he asked for more money. But he says it was never conditional to his testimony. The idea he intentionally set these people up for profit seems laughable. Maybe I’m just not a risk-taker, but of all the get-rich-quick schemes, pissing off terrorists seems a notch below throwing yourself in front of a bus for the insurance. They may have been goofballs, prompted by jihadist propaganda, but goofballs attempting to acquire bombs.

In another account, McLean’s Magazine spoke about a second informant, Shaher Elsohemy (pictured right), who was paid millions of dollars for his testimony. While McLean’s, as expected, took a hard-nosed view toward the terrorists and their capabilities, the introductory paragraphs provide a bit of insight into the motivations of the informants:

When his testimony wraps up in the coming days, the man once known as Shaher Elsohemy will step off the stand and disappear back into the arms of the witness protection program. For obvious reasons, nothing about his new life can be revealed. Not his fake name. Not his whereabouts. Nothing. But one thing is absolutely certain: when he does leave the witness box and return to a location unknown, he can walk away a happy man—vindicated, finally, after all these years.

Until last week, when he showed his face for the first time since 2006, Elsohemy was famous for two things: helping the RCMP topple the so-called “Toronto 18,” and being paid millions of dollars in the process. For more than three years, the Mounties’ star informant had to stay hidden in the shadows while countless fellow Muslims attacked his credibility. They called him a traitor. A rat. A money-hungry liar who deserves to “suffer in this life and the next.”

Let us accept that at least some of the Toronto 18 might be defined as bonafide terrorists and, left to their own devices, may have mounted some kind of serious attack. However, at the time of arrest, the eighteen had not yet harmed a hair on anyone’s head and had not damaged any property. In a normal investigation, they would most certainly have been charged with Conspiring to Commit an Indictable Offence with various sub-offences being listed in the indictment.

However, this was not the outcome as these men were Muslims and that fact alone lead to their being defined as “terrorists” as opposed to “criminals’. The result, they were charged under Canada’s new Terrorism Act, an Act that changed many of the rules of evidence, created much greater secrecy and provided more severe penalties.

One has only to scan the charges to see just how vague they had become as opposed to equivalent charges in the Criminal Code. Following is the disposition of 11 of the 18 cases:

Zakaria Amara
Guilty plea, October 2009, Appeal dismissed 2010
Participating in a terrorist group, intending to cause an explosion for the benefit of a terrorist group
Life in prison

Saad Khalid
Guilty plea, May 2009
Participating in a militant plot with the intention of causing an explosion
20 years in prison

Fahim Ahmad
Guilty plea, October 2010
Importing firearms, participating in a terrorist group and instructing others to carry out activities for that group
16 years in prison

Saad Gaya
Participating in a militant plot with the intention of causing an explosion
Guilty plea, September 2009, Appeal allowed 2010
12 to 18 years in prison

Steven Chand
Participating in a terrorist group
Convicted, June 2010
10 years in prison

Ali Dirie
Participating in a terrorist group
Guilty plea, September 2009
7 years in prison

Amin Durrani
Participating in a terrorist group
Guilty plea, January 2010
7½ years in prison

Jahmaal James
Participating in a terrorist group
Guilty plea, February 2010
7 years in prison

Asad Ansari
Participating in a terrorist group
Convicted, June 2010
6½ years in prison

Nishanthan Yogakrishnan
(previously tried as a youth, publication ban lifted on his name in September 2009)
Participating in and contributing to a terrorist group
Convicted, September 2008
2½ years in prison

Shareef Abdelhaleem
Participating in a terrorist group and intending to cause an explosion
The decision not yet handed down.

Charges Stayed in the Following Cases

Ibrahim Aboud
Participating in a terrorist group, training for terrorist purposes
Charges stayed, April 2008

Ahmad Mustafa Ghany
Participating in a terrorist group, training for terrorist purposes
Charges stayed, April 2008

Abdul Qayyum Jamal
Planning to cause a deadly explosion (dropped in November 2007), participating in the activities of a terrorist group and receiving training from a terrorist group.
Charges stayed, April 2008

Yasim Mohamed
Participating in a terrorist group, training for terrorist purposes
Charges stayed, April 2008

Youth 2
Participating in a terrorist group, receiving training to be part of a terrorist group
Charges stayed, February 2007

Youth 3
Participating in a terrorist group, receiving training to be part of a terrorist group
Charges stayed, July 2007

Youth 4
Participating in a terrorist group, receiving training to be part of a terrorist group
Charges stayed, July 2007

Media outlets were severely restricted as to what they could publish about the case in that they could only report on evidence given in court.  Even the preliminary hearing was cut short after Mubin Shiakh had given evidence.  The case had then been sent to trial by direct indictment. Between guilty pleas and charges that were stayed the full story was never made public.

The Caledonia Terrorists

In Caledonia, the Six Nations Warriors had completed planning that went well beyond that completed by the Toronto 18. They had stockpiled numerous weapons and sufficient ammunition to start a small war, invaded a small community that was part of Caledonia, dug trenches across main highways, built barricades, burned bridges, torched a Hydro Station, burned cars, fired shots and assaulted people, as a shortlist of their activities. They dressed in camouflage gear, wore masks to shield their identity, flew “their” nation’s flag, tore down and burned Canadian Flags. They confronted police and residents at every opportunity. For a visual of some of these events go to the Photo Gallery at the end of the Caledonia Post. 

Only one charge was ever laid against any of the Warriors and that charge, Assault Causing Bodily Harm, was finally disposed of last year with the conviction of a man who was 18 at the time of the offence (22 at the time of conviction). He was sentenced to 18 months, so with time served he had spent less than a year in jail.

How could it be that one group of Canadian Citizens were left to walk free while another group of Canadian Citizens are now serving sentences that range up to life in prison for planning (rather poor planning) of an event that never came close to being carried out? Had those involved in Caledonia been Muslims, the outcome would have been very, very different. There would now be dozens of First Nations Muslims serving life in prison for “terrorist’ acts.

We should all be concerned about differential law enforcement in Canada. Why should Muslim Canadians be treated differently just because they are Muslims, of which a few (very few) are radicalized Islamists? On the other hand, why should Canadians, just because they are radicalized First Nations and feel their cause is just, be allowed to disregard the law with impunity.

Caledonia is no different from hundreds of other communities across Canada that depend upon the Government, Police and Courts to uphold the law in a fair and equitable manner.  When all three levels abdicate that responsibility and anarchy is allowed to rein, as it was (and is) in Caledonia, respect for our institutions of law and order is greatly diminished.

Harold McNeill
Victoria, BC

Food for Thought:

Over the history of our country, a variety of immigrant groups have been subjected to various forms of discrimination. The Chinese, Japanese, German’s, Italians, Irish, Scottish and the list goes on depending on the decade and the particular status of the group in the dominant society, have each shouldered their fair share.

Since 911 Muslims, East Indians and others have shouldered the greatest burden of discrimination.  For a variety of reasons, Native Indians have been marginalized and discriminated against from the very beginning.

Discrimination should be the reason for great concern as it diminishes our society in every way. That being said, I do not think discrimination alone is sufficient reason to become a radicalized Native, Islamist or any other particular group.  To import hatred into a country that has accepted a person on good faith is simply wrong.


Caledonia – Dark Days for Canadian Law Enforcement

Written by Harold McNeill on February 16th, 2012. Posted in Editorials

 Burning the Bridges of Canadian Justice

Homes were damaged or destroyed, public and private property destroyed, businesses bankrupted, ordinary citizens intimidated, threatened, attacked and one man left for dead with permanent brain damage, families torn apart, careers ended and, as a final insult, those same citizens, while trying to defend themselves, became the subjects of police “enforcement”. (the Image Gallery at the end of this post provides a solid visual of these events)

The Rape of Caledonia

Those who have read my posts, particularly in the Editorial Section, will know I am passionate about many subjects. Although I was a policeman for 30 years, you will also know I have never backed away from critizing the police when I believed the criticism was warranted.

A few months back, I made the mistake of reading a book titled: Helpless: Caledonia’s Nightmare of fear and anarchy, and how the law failed all of us” by Christi Blatchford.  Blatchford, a respected journalist for both the National Post and Globe and Mail, spent many months researching, documenting and writing on the reign of terror that engulfed the good citizens of Caledonia. You might think these things only happen in some war torn country fighting a vicious dictator, but you would be wrong and in Canada, Caledonia was that place.


Who’s Accountable to Whom?

Written by Harold McNeill on February 6th, 2012. Posted in Editorials

The following is reprinted from an article written by Michael Byers and appearing in The Tyee on January 26, 2012.

I reprint the sections in which the author Michael Myers discusses with a German colleague the Canadian Parliamentary system vis a vis that of the German Reichstag. For the full article link here:

A View from the Reichstag: Who’s Accountable to Whom?

During a coffee break, a constitutional law professor quizzed me about Canada: “Is it true that your government has been shutting down Parliament?”

“Only temporarily,” I replied, explaining that Canadian prime ministers are entitled to ask the Governor General to prorogue Parliament. Stephen Harper first did so in Dec. 2008, in order to avoid losing a fiscal vote and thus his government. He did so again in Dec. 2009, in order to avoid parliamentary scrutiny of documents relating to the practice of transferring detainees to possible torture in Afghanistan. In both instances, the Governor General granted his request.

Nevertheless, Harper’s actions caused concern at home and abroad. As The Economist magazine observed on the second occasion, “The danger in allowing the prime minister to end discussion any time he chooses is that it makes Parliament accountable to him rather than the other way around.”

My German colleague seemed to share that view: “Didn’t the Canadian Parliament respond by declaring the government in contempt?”

“Not exactly,” I replied. The contempt of parliament ruling came later, in March 2011, after the government refused to provide MPs with detailed cost estimates for its crime bills. And while no other government in the Commonwealth had ever been found in contempt, Harper cavalierly downplayed the importance of the ruling, saying: “You win some, you lose some.”

Indeed, his Conservatives won a majority in the election that followed, which suggests that most Canadians were not particularly bothered by the finding of contempt.

“The real surprise,” I explained, “is that Harper does not appear satisfied with the extensive powers that are normally available to a majority government.”

I tell my German colleague about the government’s practice of invoking closure, with a frequency never before seen in Canada, to prevent elected MPs from debating major legislation such as the omnibus crime bill and a bill that will add dozens of new seats to the Commons.

About how, increasingly, the government moves the business of parliamentary committees behind closed doors, so that it can conceal embarrassing documents and reject witnesses proposed by opposition parties without fear of public censure.

Warning, with a smile

Finally, I explain how the Federal Court ruled in Dec. 2011 that a bill to abolish the Canadian Wheat Board was illegal because it violated a statutory requirement to poll wheat farmers first. No matter: the government adopted the bill anyway.

This led Peter Russell, the doyen of Canadian constitutional law, to warn: “Canadians should understand that at stake here is not just a technical point of law, but the integrity of parliamentary government.”

At this point, a wry smile crosses the German professor’s face.

“Professor Russell is right,” he says. “It’s all about understanding. Here in Germany, we sometimes learn our lessons too late.

While we are certainly no where near being turned into a dictatorship and the current government could fall (and will likely fall) in the next election, it is possible that several precedents will have been set by the current government that will be hard to dismantle. 

We should all be concerned when any of our governing parties choose to disregard the building blocks of our parliamentary system.

For Prime Minister Harper and the Conservatives, far to many blocks are being pulled from the foundation.

Harold McNeill 

Reference:  Who’s Accountable to Whom?


Ben Stein, My Confessions for the Holidays (Revisited)

Written by Harold McNeill on December 15th, 2011. Posted in Editorials


Including a Discussion of the Points
Raised in the Stein Article

Above Photo: The Nativity Scene is likely one of the most enduring Christian Christmas symbols and while Christmas trees are much more in evidence during the season, they predate Christianity by many centuries and were of pagan origin. Trees are now representative of both Christian and non-Christian cultures. Finally, Christmas songs, both Christian and Secular, have become as much a part of Christmas as the Crèche and the tree.    (October 15, 2017, 3800) (Jan 2018, 3842)

Victoria, British Columbia
December 16, 2011

This is a post about how the words of people can be bent and twisted to serve the special interests of those who seek to tear our society apart. If you have a few minutes see how the words of Ben Stein were used in this manner.


The above photo with Ben appears on the Web Site, A Livingdog.comThe letter purported to be by Ben Stein, is posted as it was circulated.  Although the letter does use some quotes from Ben’s article, they were only added to give authenticity to the post. The other highly inflammatory words were added by an unknown author. The entire letter was designed to incite hate.  My commentary follows:

Re: Ben Stein’s ‘Confessions for Christmas’ (Most posts title it “Confessions for the ‘Holidays”‘). I have used both.

If we use Facebook, Twitter, other social media, use email, we will often receive attachments such as this Stein article. Many will be forwarded without the sender having given much thought as to the content or, after reading the beginning paragraphs, generally agreed, so post or send to family and friends.  All kinds of misinformation and outright lies are passed along in this manner

While some of these forwards provide reasonable commentary, others, such as the Ben Stien Christmas Post, make some pretty outlandish and inflammatory comments. After re-reading this article a couple of times, it struck me there was no real sense of cohesion, it was as if separate, unrelated statements were strung together to make the whole. This made me wonder whether Stein even wrote and published this article.

After completing a search of the Web, I am now satisfied a great deal of editing took place with respect to the original comments recited by Stein on the CBS Morning Show back in late 2005.

It also became evident some of the statements attributed to Anne Graham Lotz (Billy Graham’s ministering daughter) were used to modify the original Stein document. The statements made by Lotz, as opposed to those by Stein, were very negative and cynical.

Further checks revealed the entire second half of the document was made up of comments written by a person or persons unknown, seemingly with the intent of inciting as much dissent as possible. Whatever the source, it is interesting these statements, some of which I now believe to be outright fabrications, appear to have gained a widespread following over the past few years given the number of ‘forwards’ received at my end.

As mentioned, this is not the first time articles of this type have crossed my desk. Often, after doing a bit of research, I have found many to be doctored and falsely attributed before being posted on the Web and then circulated by email. An example is statements purported to have been made by the Australian Prime Minister about Muslims and other immigrants entering Australia. While a few statements were correctly attributed, many of the most highly inflammatory were inserted and distributed by unknown others.

There are several Web Sites that can be used as a means to check on the authenticity of articles such as this, one being: You can link to the discussion of the Stein article at Confessions.

With respect to the “Confessions” article, I do not think the majority of the statements serve to advance the interests of Christianity or of promoting “Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men” as is befitting of the Christmas Season. I have taken time to address each statement with the hope that a few will again read the article and, perhaps, look at the statements from a different perspective.

Why, you might ask, would I take so much time to write a response to a transient item that flowed into my inbox? In short, I have a keen interest in many subjects and wish to clarify my own thoughts and beliefs. I do that best when I sit down and attempt to put my thoughts in written form as I have done for this post. Also, I wish to encourage people to take a less divisive approach to discussing these matters.

Many of you will likely have different thoughts on this particular subject or others on which I have written. I would appreciate hearing any comments you may feel inclined to share. You can do that at the foot of the article or, more privately, by email or FB, if you so wish.

Yours truly,

Harold McNeill

My Confessions for the Holidays

Stein’s article is now divided into three parts. In each part, whenever possible, the statements have been attributed to the author.

Part 1 Comments correctly attributed to Ben Stein although some were taken out of context.

Points Discussed: Joy of celebrating differences. Are Christians and Jews being pushed around? Have celebrities replaced God? Is the United States an explicitly atheist country?

Part 11 Comments correctly attributed to Anne Graham Lotz (daughter of Billy Graham). These comments were not part of Stein’s original article.

Points Discussed: Has God been pushed out of government and out of our schools? Did many people die after Hurricane Katrina (or the WTC) because God backed away from his people? Is that why so many people around the world have died in natural and man-made catastrophes?

Part 111 Comments by unknown authors inserted in the Stein article.

Points Discussed: Has the suggestion by Dr. Spock that spanking children is a poor method of discipline lead to a ‘permissive’ generation? Are children today killers without conscience? About spreading hate through jokes and inflammatory statements. Are times getting worse?

Part 1 (Stein)

Ben Stein: I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees, Christmas trees. I don’t feel threatened. I don’t feel discriminated against. That’s what they are, Christmas trees.

Harold Response: The above photo shows Ben getting ready to celebrate Christmas. It looks to me as if the Santa hat has been photoshopped into the scene -perhaps not, as Ben is known to have a keen sense of humour.

Many of my family and ancestors were/are Christians and it does not bother me a bit to watch, listen, discuss or participate in the celebrations of others. No one should feel threatened unless they choose to feel threatened.

Many groups have different beliefs and traditions that are worth celebrating and we agree that respecting the beliefs of others, even when those beliefs diverge from our own, is important. This includes atheists respecting the beliefs of theists and vice versa. Highly inflammatory remarks from either side do not help.

Ben Stein: It doesn’t bother me a bit when people say, ‘Merry Christmas’ to me. I don’t think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn’t bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu. If people want a crèche, it’s just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.

Harold Comment: I agree. Most of the controversy about Christmas trees and other Christmas themes being excluded from the public
is largely created through unfounded rumour. Within those countries that celebrate the Christian Christmas, traditional practices permeate the culture. I know many non-Christians who participate and even attend Christmas church services because the words (for the most part), songs (always) and traditions (usually) are warm, welcoming and comforting.

Photo: President and Mrs. Obama stand with the White House Christmas Tree. Occasional emails and posts state Christmas Tree’s are either not allowed or have been renamed ‘Holiday Trees”. That is simply not true.

Ben Stein: I don’t like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don’t think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from, that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can’t find it in the Constitution and I don’t like it being shoved down my throat.

Harold Comment: Ben, you are demonstrating a good bit of paranoia. Over the many years, I was a practicing Christian I never once felt threatened or ‘pushed around’ because of my beliefs. To the contrary, I met many, many wonderful people from many faiths as well as others who were non-believers. Not one person ever threatened or pushed me around. I bet not one of the Christians within our extended family have ever been ‘threatened’ or ‘pushed around’ because of their sincerely held beliefs. I am not sure why you should feel so set upon.

Canada and United States (the United States in particular) is far from being Atheist. Do you perhaps confuse ‘Atheism’ with an attempt by democracies to maintain a separation of church and state? Perhaps you consider everyone who is not a practicing Christian or Jew, to be an Atheist? In your original article, I did not see any reference to other theists.

Many developing countries that have faith-based systems are desperately trying to achieve a separation between church (or faith) and state in an attempt to remove the sectarian violence as various faith-based groups seek to control the political agenda. I think many religious leaders in democratic countries (Christians, Jews, Muslims, etc.) would agree it is important to maintain a fairly clear divide.

In Canada, Quebec is probably the best example of a Province that was largely run by a church as recently as two or three decades back. Quebec is now among the most secular of our Provinces. That does not mean religious groups have faded away, it just means that one particular group does not control the political agenda to the exclusion of all others. Freedom to participate (or not participate) in the religion of one’s choice is at the core of our democratic system. I think most would agree it would be wrong to use one particular religion or set of religious values as the framework for our system of government.

As for the USA, religion remains a ‘hot button’ issue when it comes to separation of church and state. You likely watched the multi-part PBS series “God in American”. The series tracked four centuries of conflict between various Christian groups and leaders as each sought to become the dominant faith controlling the country with their ‘particular’ brand of religion. That that long battle is still being waged tends to reinforce the need for maintaining a clear separation between church and state.

A present-day example of religion being twisted to political ends is highlighted in the current Republican leadership contest. The contenders are willing to say or do anything to woo the religious right into their camp. For the men and woman seeking the leadership of the party, it seems God is little more than a means to an end, that being leadership of the party and a shot at gaining the Presidency.

In Canada, the Conservatives have largely shelved the religious ideologies that were very much a part of their early platforms when it became crystal clear the majority of Canadians would not support any party that attempted to push those ideologies to the forefront.

Note: From this point forward, someone modified Stein’s comments by removing humorous references to two individuals known as ‘Nick and Jessica’ whose faces appeared on a cereal box cover. Instead, they became referenced as “celebrities”.

The following comment is the actual lead-in comment made by Stein in the CBS interview (it was not included in the forwarded article):

Ben Stein: Here we are at this happy time of year, a few confessions from my beating heart. I have no freaking clue who Nick and Jessica are. I see them on the cover of People and Us constantly when I’m buying my dog biscuits. I still don’t know. I often ask checkers at the grocery stores who they are. They don’t know who Nick and Jessica are, either. Who are they? Will it change my life if I know who they are and why they’ve broken up? Why are they so darned important? I don’t know who Lindsay Lohan is either, and I don’t care at all about Tom Cruise’s baby.

Harold: Ben, I must agree. I have no freaking clue who Nick and Jessica might be and why they are so noteworthy. Maybe if I purchased more dog biscuits I might learn the answer. I like your sense of humour.

Following are the above comments as inserted in the Stein article and, at this point, a contrast to God is introduced:

Unknown Editor: Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship celebrities and we aren’t allowed to worship God? I guess that’s a sign that I’m getting old, too. But there are a lot of us who are wondering where these celebrities came from and where the America we knew went to.

Harold: Now where did this come from? This transition appears to have been inserted in order to suggest the worshiping of “Celebrities versus God” as a means to ratchet up the rhetoric.

It is my guess, if you surveyed a large group of Christians, Jews, Muslims or any number of other faiths versus a similar sized group of non-believers, you would find an equal number in each group that placed celebrities far too high on a pedestal.

Whether we like it or not, celebrities, in one form or another, have been with us for centuries. While there is nothing particularly right or wrong with that, collectively we seem to pay too much attention to the words and actions of those with celebrity status.

Using Stein as an example, think about this for a moment. If an ordinary person wrote that which was written in in the original Stein ‘confession’, do you think it would ever see the light of day let alone be read on the CBS Morning Show? Probably not as the article was at best just some talk show humour by a “celebrity” guest.

Now spice that original with some inflammatory and highly controversial comments and this cleverly rejigged article will draw far more attention. I have used part of this technique in the title of this post. It is now indexed on Page 2 of Google in an area that will provide a greater chance of a ‘hit’ than if I had titled it Harold McNeill Revisits Christmas Confessions. Like, who is Harold McNeill and what is his claim to fame? (Google Link)  Even as of October 2017 (7 years since it was posted) it is now posted on Page 1.

Part II (Graham-Lotz)

Statements made by Anne Graham Lotz, were not part of Ben Stein’s original comments. Along with other comments, they were added by a person or persons unknown and then first distributed before Christmas in 2005.

The following comments (properly attributed to Anne Graham Lotz) were made during a National TV show shortly after the WTC attacks of 2001 when Anne was being interviewed by Jane Clayson. Again, only parts of Anne’s comments were inserted and a few of the lead-in statements were altered by persons unknown.

Anne: In light of the many jokes we send to one another for a laugh, this is a little different: This is not intended to be a joke; it’s not funny, it’s intended to get you thinking.

Harold: I agree Anne. There are far too many tasteless, insensitive jokes, not just about religious groups, but also about other minorities (Blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, Aboriginals, etc). I have been guilty of the practice myself. In past centuries similar type jokes have been passed around. Which reminds me, did you hear the one about the Saxon Warrior…?

Many messages landing in my inbox since 2001 relate to Muslims, immigrants and generally visible minorities. In any case we both agree it’s not right and as for getting me thinking about the issues, your words have certainly accomplished that Anne.

Moderator Clayson: How could God let something like this happen? (regarding Hurricane Katrina) Note: The original reference was to the World Trade Centre attack of 2001, not to Hurricane Katrina. The comments made in the Clayson/Lotz interview were made well before Hurricane Katrina. Anne then continues with her original comments.

Anne: I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we’ve been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?’

Harold: It is my observation and experience that God is well represented in our schools. Just down the street from our home is the large Pacific Christian School and a little further on, the Catholic, St Andrews School.

I have spent time in both and they wonderful schools with motivated and caring teachers as well as attentive students. Across Canada Christian Schools and Universities seem to be well represented and well populated. I just read a report yesterday that over 600,000 kids attend Catholic Schools in Ontario. That is a sizeable school population for just one faith-based system in one Province.

Christine (our  youngest daughter) just finished two years of teaching Grade 6 (one of eight Grade 6 classes) at the Khalsa Sihk School in Surrey, BC. Students in the school study their holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib, as well as attending weekly prayer sessions. Many parents actively sought to have their child placed in Christine’s class even though she did not practice their faith.

One of the neat things Christine found particularly inspiring about the school was the fact they promoted the idea that a ‘belief in God’ was more important than the particular religious group to which one belonged. Not many faith-based systems are that generous.

Muslims, as well as many other groups, also provide private schools for members who wish to help their children become better acquainted with the history of their people and the beliefs of their forefathers. In Victoria, we have a very fine Chinese School (est. 1908) with about 300-400 students. This is a wonderful part of living in a multicultural society.

As for our Public Schools and Universities, it is true they do not hold prayer sessions or have religious studies (other than generic courses such as the History of Religion). This is done for a very good reason – if you wished to hold religious services, which God and what particular set of books would one study – the Koran, Bible, the Book of Mormon (this is an issue as the Republicans search for a leader), the Guru Granth Sahib or some other text and which prayers would be approved?

In Christianity alone, there are hundreds upon hundreds of belief sub-sets holding very diverse beliefs. I think it would be chaotic to give every system time to spread the word of their particular brand of faith in our Public Schools and Universities. What do you think?

Now, Ms. Graham, as for suggesting that God failed to prevent the tragedy of Katrina because “being a gentleman, he backed away” seems to suggest your God is a bit petulant. Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson made similar claims about why the World Trade Centre bombing occurred. It must be nice to have the inside track to God’s thoughts about these tragic events.

Photo: Whether it was the 9/11 attack or Hurricane Katrina, the effects were the same. Hundreds of people died. Perhaps the woman in this picture was a Christian, perhaps not and her baby is certainly to young to understand the concept of God.

In the case of Katrina, as well as thousands of natural disasters that have occurred over past two thousand years, it seems someone is always compelled to list the cause as a ‘lack of faith’ and, perhaps, link that with God abandoning His people. Today more people are dying in single major events simply because there are now more people living on earth than having lived in the entire history of our planet.

In my mind, many hundreds of thousands of those who have died in the past, or will die in future catastrophic events, were or will be strong believers in Christianity, Judaism or some other faith teaching. Why would their God hold those hundreds of thousands of faithful responsible for the ‘misdeeds’ of others to say nothing about the thousands of innocent children that have died? I cannot believe any God worth his salt would hold children responsible for the sins of their father, let alone those of some stranger. To me, your statements are uncaring, insensitive, and not befitting of a woman who takes to the pulpit and purports to be a spokesperson for God.

December 17, 2011.
Dear Anne,

Today hundreds of men, women, and children were killed when a typhoon hit one of the Philippine Islands. By your way of thinking those poor people died simply because their God abandoned them. Do you think this is a reasonable assessment of your position for any of the hundreds of thousands of people that die each in natural disasters or is it just the people of the United States that fall into this category?

Part III (Authors Unknown)

As far as I can ascertain, everything from this point onward was either a modified version of what Anne Graham Lotz stated or was entirely made up by a person or persons unknown. Over the years several different comments, all along the same theme, have been inserted in what was purported to be the Stein confession.  As of 2017, the comment flow still remains on the original website, A

Author Unknown: In light of recent events…. terrorists attack, school shootings, etc. I think it started when Madeleine Murray O’Hare (she was murdered, her body found a few years ago) complained she didn’t want prayer in our schools, and we said OK. Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school. The Bible says thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself. And we said OK.

Photo: Madalyn Murray O’Hair (note the correct spelling) was a well known American Atheist and founder of the Organization of American Atheists.

Harold: So you are not saying it was ‘everyone’ who was at fault, it was just Madalyn Murray O’Hair and perhaps others who held beliefs similar to hers. Personally, I think you are laying a lot of responsibility on that woman. She must have been a powerful voice in order to get God so upset that he backed away from everyone, including his loyal Christian and Jewish followers! Her tragic death had nothing to do with her Atheist beliefs.

On the final sentence of the paragraph, you make a good point. If theists and others would spend more time practicing the many good things that appear in the Bible or their particular books of teachings, and choose to love their neighbors as themselves, particularly those who do not share their beliefs, there would be a lot less strife in the world. Most of the messages in this crafted ‘Confessions’ article certainly does nothing to bring that value to the forefront.

Author Unknown: Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn’t spank our children when they misbehave because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem (Dr. Spock’s son committed suicide). We said an expert should know what he’s talking about. And we said okay.

Harold: Ok, I guess we are now leaving the Christian/Jewish discussion and moving on to a discussion about disciplining children.

I don’t particularly subscribe to Mr. Spock’s suggestions but he does have a message and he took the time to write a book about something in which he strongly believed. That’s not a bad thing to do and is far more than most of us will ever do. Thousands upon thousands of books have been written about child rearing.

At one point in my life, I taught a program called “Developing Capable People”. I liked the program message and so did the several hundred parents who participated in the series.
Spankings were not a recommended means of discipline, however, as individuals everyone is free to accept some points about parenting and reject others. The same can be said about Christian teachings.

Photo: Dr. Benjamin Spock (1903 -1998), a graduate of Yale University and an Olympic Gold Medalist, wrote his book “The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care” in 1946. It became an instant best seller with over 50 million copies sold worldwide after it was translated into 39 languages. He later wrote three more books about parenting and in each case, he was attacked a promoting ‘permissiveness’, a claim he soundly denied.

As far as spankings are concerned, I don’t think it is the best method to handle discipline but, I confess, I handed out a few during the time we raised four children. Our children, four in number, are no worse for it but I choose to think they simply overcame my bad example and it was the thousand other factors that were part of parenting that lead to what I think is a very good result.

Take a look at the extended family that surrounds our mother in the Introduction to this Blog. A lot of different methods were used to raise those children, some received spankings, others did not, yet they are all wonderful, caring people. It was the totality of the parenting, not just one particular aspect, that led to that result.

Just as a side issue, within Canada a man could physically discipline domestic help (usually a female) for poor performance and misbehaviour as late as the 1970s. The law was finally changed. Not many years before that those same men could discipline their wives for similar transgressions. We can observe that the discipline of woman and children is still prevalent in many male dominated societies. I think it is good that our society finally decided to make those acts illegal. Do you really think not spanking a child would lead to the downfall of our society?

As for throwing in the suicide bit, I find that is contemptable particularly as it never happened. A grandson (Dr. Spock’s son’s son) did commit suicide and while the full reason for that suicide has never been fully understood, it is reported in a biography that the young man, twenty-two at the time, was schizophrenic. Do you not think there may be a good many ‘god fearing’ Christians and Jews who wrote books on some aspect of religion and whose children later committed suicide for some reason or other? Would it be fair to suggest they did so because their dad or mom had written that book? I think not.

Author Unknown: Now we’re asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don’t know right from wrong, and why it doesn’t bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves.

Harold: During my lifetime (71 years next month) I have known a large number of the children within our extended family and over the decades have met hundreds of children and teens through sports, school, and my time in the police service. The vast (vast) majority were good kids and over the decades I believe kids have been steadily getting better. They are better educated, have much more experience in the world and have largely been raised by caring, thoughtful parents.

Yes, we still face many challenges, but for someone to make a general statement that children have “have no conscience … they don’t know right from wrong and … it doesn’t bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves” is simply wrong.

In thirty years of policing, I met some very bad people including a few young people who did terrible things and will be spending most of their lives in jail. An article appeared in the Times Colonist today (Dec 16, 2011) about one such person. Thankfully, I did not let that young man colour my view toward the majority. I hope the person who wrote this statement did not become a policeperson, social worker, teacher, or enter any of the other ‘caring’ professions.

Author Unknown: Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out. I think it has a great deal to do with ‘WE REAP WHAT WE SOW.’

Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world’s going to hell. Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible says. Funny how you can send ‘jokes’ through e-mail and they spread like wildfire, but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about sharing. Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene articles pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion of God is suppressed in the school and workplace.

Harold: Whoever wrote this appears to be a very cynical Christian. Most of the Christians I know try to remain positive by focusing on the good things in the world rather than the bad. If we all tried a little harder to do that, do you not think the world would be a much more peaceful and caring place? Do you not think the world is gradually getting better?

Given a choice, who of us would prefer to live in any other past century, perhaps as a Christian in the Roman Empire, or during the Dark Ages? Perhaps, during the Crusades, or at the time of the Black Plague or one of the many other diseases that killed fathers, mothers, children, Christians, Jews, Atheists and others without discrimination?

How about during any of the dozens of centuries when death would was likely to visit sometime before a person’s late twenties, or even early in the last century when millions upon millions of innocent people were killed in just two World Wars? I think not.

While extreme poverty still exists in some parts of the world, a great majority of the people are much better off now than at any time in the history of our planet. The challenges we face will best be solved when Christians, Jews, Muslim’s, Atheists, Agnostics and others play the positive cards to which we all have access rather than taking the view that the world ‘is going to hell in a handbasket”.

What possible harm could it do to accent the positive rather than negative? We are all free to take issue with things we perceive to be wrong or with which we disagree, but we must do so in a respectful manner, not as a ‘rant’ as is so evident in most of this fraudulent Stein article.

Unknown: Are you laughing yet?

Harold: No, I most certainly am not. I was born into a world in which we have been afforded opportunities beyond our wildest imagination. It is and has been a life about which many in the world could only dream. Most of us have two pairs of shoes; we have freedom and can practice the religion of our choice without fear of persecution. For myself, I love the people in my extended family as well people in general and I have people who love me in return. What more could I ask?

Author Unknown: Funny how when you forward this message, you will not send it to many on your address list because you’re not sure what they believe, or what they will think of you for sending it.

Funny how we can be more worried about what other people think of us than what God thinks of us.

Pass it on if you think it has merit.

If not, then just discard it. no one will know you
did. But, if you discard this thought process, don’t
sit back and complain about what bad shape the world is

Harold: I will forward this message as far as possible and I have no fear that anyone who knows me will think less of me for having done so.

Whoever crafted this message did so with a great deal of malice and, apparently, with the goal of sowing the seeds of dissent among people. I suppose in many ways that person has succeeded as this same message has been circulated far and wide at just before Christmas for the past six years.

What kind of person would surreptitiously build a message of despair and then use the names of relatively well-known persons to ensure the message gained widespread attention? That is nothing short of contemptible and we should, at the very least, attempt to correct this wrong by alerting others.

Harold McNeill

A few photos from Christmas in our Neighbourhood


Winnipeg versus Edmonton

Written by Harold McNeill on November 6th, 2011. Posted in Editorials


Murder Capitals of Canada?

November 5, 2011: Tonight, CTV Global National broadcast a legthy segment about Winnipeg being the Murder Capital of Canada.  Not long ago, Edmonton was tagged with that dubious distinction in a Globe and Mail article titled, “Deadmonton”.  Each month another city, perhaps Vancouver, Surrey, Toronto, London, Montreal, etc., have been tagged wtih similar headlines.

Even little old Oak Bay, (population 18,000), where I completed my policing career, could have been tagged as Canada’s “Murder Central” when, in 2007, five people died in a murder-suicide. For well over two years following, the media disceted that tragic event from every possible angle.

While even one murder is tragic, does that particular type of death deserve the TV minutes (and hours) and Newspaper column inches, it is given? Check the following Statistics Canada “Death List for 2008 and consider your risk factors:

Cancer……………………..70,568 (Lungs, Colorectal, Breast, Pancreas, Prostate, etc.)
Cardiovascular……………69,648 (Heart Disease, Cerebriovascular, Heart Failure,  etc)
Other Disease……………40,270 (Alzheimer, Diabetes, Kidney, Liver, etc.)
Respiratory……………….20,728 (Pneumonia, Influenza, etc.)
Mental Health…………….11,535 (Dementia, Depression, Schizoprenia, Bipolar, etc.)
Accidents………………….10,234 (Transport 2,848; Non-transport 7,294)
Infectious Disease………..4,796 (TB, Whooping Cough, Hepatitis, Intestinal, etc.)
Other Medical………………3,756 (Medical Complications, Pregnancy, Congenital, etc.)
Suicide  Suffocation……….1,678
Suicide Poison……………….935
Undetermined Cause……….685
Suicide Firearms……………..518
Suicide Jumpers……………..200

Struck  by Lightening……….160 – 190 (my addition from Web Search)

Killed by Stabbing…………..183
Killed by Shooting…………..167
Killed by Clubbing…………….31
Killed by Police……………….16
Killed by Terrorist……………..0 (25 year average)
Wounded by Terrorist………..0 (25 year average)

On that list, what do you consider to be your greatest risks?  Does it include murder or terrorism? Even if you choose to place murder on your list, Winnipeg consider this – the majority of murders are committed by criminals killing criminals (often drug and gang related), or relational (family members killing family members, as in Oak Bay), along with with occasional work place and rage related cases (e.g. mental health issues) rounding out the list.

If you are not a gang member or drug dealer, nor involved in an abusive relationship, not having an extramarital affair or otherwise cheating on a signifcant other; you generally experience good employer/employee relationships and are not given to fits of rage, there is little chance of your being murdered. The remaining few, include a stranger killing stranger as might happen in a rape, kidnapping, or robbery.

It is not my intention to downplay the tragic effects murder has upon the families those hurt by crime, I am just trying put the relative danger into perspective. From the Stats Can you can see that the great majority of dangers we face have nothing to do with crime or terrorism.

To best protect yourself when travelling to Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Regina, Toronto, Montreal or any other city or town in Canada for pleasure or business purposes, consider the following; Do not smoke and if you drink, or smoke the occasional joint, do so with moderation; When on the road, make sure to spend time exercising and eating properly; When driving, do up your seatbelt and, importantly, do not talk or text on your cell phone; If you get stopped for a traffic violation, do not deliberately bait the police officer and do not try to run; But, when walking, take care to look both ways before crossing the street and when pub hopping, be discriminating with those bar hook-ups.

An untimely death attributed to your failure to take these basic precautions makes you hundreds of times more likely to suffer a premature death than being murdered or seriously hurt by a criminal action on any one of the thousands of ‘safe streets and communities’ across Canada. Is that not a neat little phrase I picked up somewhere?

Now, when traveling by air and going through Canada’s Homeland Security and made to take off your glasses, shoes, empty your pockets, open your lap top, turn on your cell phone,Road Runner remove your belt, prosthetic arm or leg; given an electronic pat down or a full body scan; have your penknife, double sharpe, packaged toothpick, water bottle, knitting needles, fingernail clipper and scissors confiscated as well as each pill bottle closely scrutinized just as you see a bearded fellow wearing a turban boarding the aircraft, please don’t get all upset and fear for your life.

Cartoon (from FB Post of Marilyn Jeffrey – Richard Wyland). The Road Runner will eventually appear in various Police Notebook stories. 

Remember, it is thousands of times more likely2 that you would have been struck by lightening3 as you walked across the airport parking lot than being killed or injured on the flight you are about to take. When was the last time you worried about being hit by a lightening in an airport parking lot?

Fear of being murdered, raped, robbed, attacked by a crazed drug addict or blown up in a terrorist attack is created almost entirely through media, business and government hype4 that has no relationship too any clear and present danger. Rather than worrying about those things you are better to use the time to create a healthy lifestyle by eating and excercising properly – it could very well add years to your life and, at the same time, make your life much more fulfilling.

Harold McNeill

1. Statistics Canada “Ways to Die” pulled from National Post article of November 5, 2011.

2. The Top 8 killers of Canadians take 231,700 lives every year, the equivalent of 1,550 Boeing 727s, each filled to a capacity of 150, dropping out of the sky. Few headlines will be given to those deaths. Imagine now that just one of those airplanes was taken down by an terrorist bomb. Our society would be shaken to the very core and the case would create headlines for decades to come. In addition, trillions would spent in preventative measures.

3. Struck by Lightening: The Curious World of Probabilities by Jeffrey S. Rosenthal (Harper Collins, 2005).

4. Daily you seen samples of media hype. For a sample of political party hype read the next post: “Politics of Fear“.

Ways to Die

National Post

Homicides in Major Cities

City Murders



  • Mike Fedorowich

    September 1, 2023 |

    I have gone through the above noted text and have found it quite informative.
    I am a former member with several law enforcement agencies from across Canada.
    I worked in the First Nations service under the authority of the RCMP with the over sight of the OPP. My law enforcement service was conducted under the authority of the Nishnawbe – Aski Police Service in North West Ontario the Louis Bull Police Sevice in Hobbema AB, the Kitasoo Xaixais Police Service in Northern in side passage on Swindle Island, the Lac Suel Police Service North West Ontario and the Vancouver Transit Authority Sky Train Police Service. I’m presently dealing with an RCMP member for falsifying a report against me for a road rage event. Court case is finished and the charge was dropped but I have an on going complaint with the member and have forwarded to the WATCH DOGS IN OTTAWA FOR the RCMP review and consideration. I believe the said officer is in violation of his oath of office and should be held accountable for falsifying his RTCC all the while dragging me through the court system here in Nanaimo. RCMP continue to stonewall the appeal but Ottawa and the crowns office are still looking into the matter. if your able and find the time or the interest in this very brief introduction, I would very much like to speak with you and would be grateful to hear any wisdom that may come across from your end. I served with First Nations Police Services for ten years in isolation and six years with Transit Police out of New West Minster. I do value and appreciate any time you could spare to chat for a bit on this particular subject matter. Respectfully with out anger but an open mind, Mike Fedorowich Nanaimo BC 250 667 0060

  • 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:

  • 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.