Border Security Gone Crazy

Written by Harold McNeill on August 14th, 2011. Posted in Editorials


Note

This week the National Post, as well as many other media outlets, is carrying a series of articles and stories related September 11 2001.  While 911 was monumental tragedy in terms of lives lost and families torn apart, the damage done over the past ten years by governments, particularly in the USA who have lead the world, is much greater both in terms of lives lost and families destroyed.  Beyond that, the invasion of privacy by security agencies, including our very own, is unprecedented. 911 was no D Day, VE or VJ Day. It was a criminal act that deserved only to be treated as such. The following editorial touchs on only a few aspects of the changes that have taken place.

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Preserving Our Civil Liberties

Written by Harold McNeill on July 8th, 2011. Posted in Editorials


Preserving Our Civil Liberties

July 7, 2011: Closure of the British Tabloid “News of the World”

The demise of the 168-year-old British paper that held a readership of nearly three million, all over a ‘mobile phone – internet hacking’ scandal, was a bit of overkill when compared to the attack on our civil liberties by our own governments over the past decade. In the case of News of the World a high price will now be paid by the thousands of dedicated, honest workers all because of a few dishonest people at high levels, including the owner’s son, James Murdock.

It is reported Murdock closed the paper because he wanted to protect his reputation (and that of his father, Rupert) as well “protecting” other money making schemes he currently has on the table.  I have little sympathy for Murdock and for those who cheat and scheme in order to make an extra dollar, what hurts is seeing all those jobs taken away from thousands of honest workers who toiled at the paper.

While the allegations against a few reporters and senior administrators at World News was serious and needed to be addressed, the transgressions were positively minor compared to the widespread intrusions on civil liberties conducted by various government security organziations around the world.

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The Best Laid Plans (1)

Written by Harold McNeill on April 28th, 2011. Posted in Editorials



 Jack Tackles the Giants on the Beanstalk

Jack Layton

Do you remember ever having the feeling your world has just been turned upside down?  Perhaps you were nearing 50 when your wife came home and calmly stated: “Guess what honey, I’m pregnant?” Or, in the worst case, it was not your wife it was that less than full time girl friend (not as uncommon as you might think). In either case it was a game changer.  I experienced the former but, thanks to my chaste behaviour, never the latter.

In another case perhaps it was your boss who came in and said:  “Sorry, but due to the recession we are cutting back, ah, but not to worry, you are a good worker so you should have no trouble finding a new job!” Bummer dude! Perhaps we are about to experience a similar type ‘game changer’ on the national political scene.

Having closely followed the campaign over the past few weeks I was struck by how mundaneGilles Duceppe everything seemed to be evolving when, suddenly, late last week, the folks in Quebec decided they might just want to try something different.  No, they did not start importing tons of the best BC Bud (not a bad idea through), they just found a new religion called NDP. It is now possible the Bloc might soon be a footnote in history.  Can’t say I would be sorry to see them finally exit stage left.

Now what about poor Jack?  How would you like to have the whole La Belle Province riding on your coat tails?  All I can say is he had better have a strong ‘constitution’. After the election he could be leading a group of neophyte politicians, including a number of young student candidates with no political background, into the blood sport that is Ottawa. Perhaps that is just what we need in opposition, a bunch of young idealists with nothing to lose.

From my perspective, it would be an excellent outcome – a Harper minority (140 seats), NDP (90 seats, including a major position in Quebec), Liberal (60 seats) and Bloc (15), Independent (2) and Greens (1) as somebody has gotta finally throw poor Lizbeth a bone. Taken in combination it just might be the tonic we need to shake things up on the Federal scene. Just as Best Laid Plansthe Conservatives moved to coalesce the right a few years back, the left needs an ‘earth shaker’ to cause them to put the left leaning house in order. 

Given the heavy turnout in the advance polls and if the current poll trends portend future seat results, we might just go to bed on May 2, 2011 with a game-changing Parliament.

Cheers
(Harold is a card carrying Liberal but willing to look at alternatives)

1For a good chuckle on this very subject read “The Best Laid Plans” by Terry Fallis (McLellan Books, 2008), winner of the CBC Canada Reads Award, 2011.  The book takes a peek inside the back rooms of national political parties where a crusty old Scot, Angus McClintock, is suddenly and unwillingly thrust into the fray. He quickly becomes a media darling and throws every party, including his own Liberals, into disarray.  Just as has every movie and TV series hero that challenged the status quo found a cult following, so does the reluctant Angus McClintock.

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My New R.I.M. Blackberry for Seniors

Written by Harold McNeill on April 20th, 2011. Posted in Editorials



Harold doing some in-store testing of the new Blackberry Playbook for Seniors

 

It was chilly with a dusting of snow when I left home at 2:00 am yesterday to join the line a Future Shop to get my new Research in Motion Blackberry “Playbook for Seniors’. My trusty Tim Horton’s super mug in hand – a double, double, triple, triple with a couple of shots of Kahlua (and small bottle in my backpack) – helped to ward off the cold and calm the knot in the pit of my stomach. Would I be too late? Not to worry, by 9:30 am I was inside and the supplies looked to last.

Harold at Tim Horton's 

Photo: Harold bikes our for his usual morning cuppa at Tim Horton’s. The two litre cup cuts down on refills.

 

My first surprise was the size. The new Seniors Edition was at least 32 X 55 cm (12 X 22 inches) but with a high definition screen and large print (even at 36-40 pt. you can still get a full page on the screen) it is certainly easy to read.  You know, you can actually enlarge words and flip pages with just the flick of a finger? Amazing!

Now, a word about price! At $700 (2 gb storage) a crack, plus $200 for the tax and extended guarantee, it is well within the means of most seniors. Just don’t forget to factor in an average $400 per month for Apps, internet access, download fees, book purchases, etc. so you don’t over extend yourself (1). My bets – move over Apple – this new RIM Seniors Edition Playbook is about to take the market by storm. 

 

The only real challenge I found was trying to fit the device in my jacket or briefcase and I am wondering whether getting through airport security is going to be a problem.  Perhaps, in the future, RIM will consider a folding model.

 

Congratulations to Jim Balsille and Mike Lazaridis, you and your RIM Team from Waterloo have made Canada proud – another first for Canadian Technology that is on a level with the Canada Arm.  From this Canadian Senior – two thumbs up.

 

Harold McNeill

Victoria, BC

 

(1) For BES (Blackberry Enterprise Server) there is connectivity from that BES to RIM’s NOC, and that’s an extra charge. This is done via the SRP (Service Routing Protocol). Each BES has a unique SRP, just like our handhelds have a unique PIN. BES has better guaranteed service versus a BIS plan. On a BES you get way more functionality than BIS and you get more security, etc. These are matters are near and dear to most seniors.

(My young friend Riyad at Future Shop, passed along these helpful tidbits)

 

 

 

 

Staff Top Up

 

Staff at both Future Shop and Staples had to catch a coffee on the run as business was so brisk.

 

IPad vs Blackberry

IPad vs Blackberry:  While IPad has a jump on the market, the Blackberry Seniors model is likely to become a very big hit with the boomers who are just now entering those mellow years.  My guess is the larger Blackberry will outsell the IPad by a factor of two or three.

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PAX Canadiana

Written by Harold McNeill on April 7th, 2011. Posted in Editorials


Pax Canadiana

Pax Canadiana

Pax Canadiana in the Twenty-First Century

PAX Canadiana:    In the 20th Century the term PAX Americana came to indicate the pre-eminent military and economic position of the United States in relation to other nations, just as PAX Britannia was used the 19th Century (Wikipedia background).  In the 21st Century, Canada will eclipse the United States and PAX Canadiana could become a reality. This article provides a satirical look at the alternate path we may choose to follow.

February 10, 2016 Update:  PAX Canadiana  (March 27, 14716)     April 17, 2018 (14,888)

It seems like the time is ripe to again bring forward this post.
 
With President Trump about to take office and promising to build walls between Mexico and the US, as well as between Canada and the US (by ripping up all the trade deals), we need to add a little protectionism of our own. You might not realize this (most Canadians don’t), but compared to the rest of the world (particularly the USA) we have the lion’s share of the world’s natural resources with water, yes water, topping the list. Water to the US will soon become (in many areas such as California it now is) more valuable than oil.
 
And, speaking of oil and gas, it is spread across Canada in thick layers and pockets from British Columbia to Labrador/Newfoundland and back. Bring on the XL pipeline where we can put a meter on the Canada side of the US border that will suck in US dollars faster than if we had our own US dollar printing press. President Trump may think it is a windfall for the US, but he needs to remember who controls the taps and the Premier of Alberta has just told him who that is. Let’s just process our oil in directions that will make CANADA GREAT AGAIN, not America. Thanks Donald for the offer, but Alberta is calling the shots on this not you.
 
For most of our history we have been the “hewers of wood and drawers of water” but the time is ripe to change that and if the US chooses to pull the pin on NATA and try to turn us into the 51st state, let’s just slam the door and let our resources work for Canada from sea, to sea, to sea and across that new wall that protects us from the USA.
 
Remember, our new BFF’s are China and the far east as well as the newly emerging European Union. We could also work with the new Britain unless they decided to kick us out of the Commonwealth because we are to Liberal. In preparing for the later, we could simply prevail upon Harry to become our new king as noted in Part 7 of the following.
 
Cheers,
Harold

1. Corporate Taxes

What got m thinking of this was the whole issue of “Corporate Tax Reductions.”  With our Federal rates approaching 15%1,  I checked the G20 major economies and found none below 25%.   Then I checked on Ireland  – poor little Ireland (not a G20 by the way) – they went bankrupt – just when they achieved a Corporate Tax rate of 12.5%, lowest in the EU and lower than the rest of the world, save for a few OPEC countries.

MoneyThis happened even after Google and dozens of big companies moved to Ireland to catch a piece of that generous corporate tax pie.  As supply-side economists, trickle down theorists3 and deregulators predicted, unemployment shrank to near zero and “things were booming”.  Ireland was sitting at the top of the EU financial world.  Then bang – the crash – banks folded and massive debt took the country down.  The prescription for a sound financial future sounded great but the patient was dying.  On their knees, they went to their EU partners for a bailout.

Could this happen in Canada?  With a projected national debt exceeding half a trillion, with further tax cuts promised and cash being handed out for everything but the kitchen sink (well that too if the Conservatives reconstitute their billion-dollar “home improvement program”) it could happen.  We might very well be headed down the same path as Ireland and our good neighbour, the USA, whose move to supply side economics and deregulation over the past several decades lead to the worst economic meltdown they have ever experienced.  They are now printing money so fast many of their presses have overheated and, if the rumors are correct, may have broken down4.

Then, to my great relief, two newspaper articles appeared – one in the National Post, the other in the Globe and Mail. The first was a three-page spread in the Post entitled: “Global Warming – Bring it On” and, the second, in the Globe, “Republicans Urge New Pipelines.”  Republicans?  Republicans?  It was no surprise to see the National Post calling ‘Global Warming’ a “good thing”, but US Senate Republicans calling for help from that great white, socialist enclave called Canada; that was when the loonie (our new penny) finally dropped.

Footnotes:

Between 2000 and 2006, the Liberals reduced the Corporate Tax Rate from 29% to 21%.  From 2006 to 2011 the Conservatives further reduced to 16.5%. The Cons indicate further reduction to 15% is needed to boost investment and reduce unemployment.  Now the question, if a reduction from 29% to 15% was needed to boost investment and decrease unemployment, would not a further reduction from 15% to 0% be even better? We might wish to ask: “For whom?”

3  Referencing “trickle down theory” humorist Will Rogers, said during the Great Depression (known as the “Dirty Thirties”): “the money was all appropriated for the top in hopes that it would trickle down to the needy.” (partially Wikipedia)

Unless the US Congress takes drastic steps they will be dead broke and shutting down parts of government by early spring 2011 when they reach their debt limit. Debt default by the USA will have worldwide implications.

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State of the Union

Written by Harold McNeill on January 26th, 2011. Posted in Editorials


As with America, I expect many Canadians watched the State of the Union Address last night.  While I disagree with many things America does (or does not do, as the case may be) I do admire the way the country can get passionate about an ideal.
 
Obama State of the UnionIn Canada about the only time we ever see anything that approaches nationalist passion is at a sporting event and that occurs perhaps once or twice in a century.  The 1972 Canada/Russia Summit Series was my first memory of the real passion about being a Canadian.  Was that nearly 40 years ago?  Following that I had to wait until the Olympics to again capture the feeling. It was wonderful. The Canada/US hockey Gold Medal Final was beyond my wildest dreams but, unfortuately, it will likely the the penultimate event of this century.

On the political stage, the State of the Union provides an opportunity for America, through their President, to talk about where the country has been and where they might go in the future. The speech last night demonstrated that even bitter political opponents can occasionally agree and can even stand together and applaud. 

In Canada we have no such opportunity. We sleep our way through the interminable time between elections, then a precious few wake long enough to cast a ballot. Many, I suppose, might not even bother to look at the names on the ballot. 

A rousing speech by either Prime Minister Stephen Harper or would be Prime Ministers Michael Ignatieff or Jack Layton, should be sufficient to put the staunchest insomniac out cold. Oh, to have at least one evening of the year where we could glue ourselves to the TV and hear words about the great history of our nation, a nation with hugh challenges to face but also a nation that is passionate about new ideas and the future.

The thrill that would tickle through my spine to watch the four sides of our house periodically stand in unison and give a rousing applause to a speech by a Prime Minister from whatever party he might represent. Alas, that is not likely to be.

Oh Canada, We Stand on Guard for Thee!   Yes, always, because I know you love our Country as dearly as do I, but please, we need to show it more often and with more passion than once every 40 years for a hockey game.  Afterall, whose left now that we have beat Russia and the USA?

Harold McNeill
Victoria, BC   January 25, 2010

   

 

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O’Canada … In All Thy Son’s Command

Written by Harold McNeill on March 7th, 2010. Posted in Editorials


O’Canada … In All Thy Son’s Command

In All of Us Command

Controversial? Yes.  Necessary? Indeed.
O’Canada, In all of us command.
(Feb 2018 1408)

March 2010: An item in the Conservative throne speech about changing two words in ‘O’Canada’, created a significant negative response even though the suggested change is long overdue. It seems doubtful, at this time, that the government will follow through. It’s equally likely that within the next decade the change will be made.

While we in the ‘older’ generation are often accused of being out of touch with the times, it seems that getting stuck in a rut is not just the preserve of the older generation. If the current debate about changing the word ‘son’ to something gender neutral is used as the benchmark, the younger generation can be as equally stubborn.

Women's RightsCreating gender equality has been a long, slow process for many countries including Canada. Replacing the word ‘son’ in our Anthem is a small but symbolically important part of the process.

Think back to some of the earlier challenges in our evolving democracy:

• It was well into the 1920s1 before women began to gain enfranchisement across Canada. Enfranchisement is considered a basic right in a democratic society yet women had to wait 50 years following confederation before that right began to creep across Canada, with all Provinces entering by 1949.

• As recently as 50 years ago, women in a few Canadian provinces were prohibited from entering beer parlours. Even in the more ‘progressive’ provinces, women often had to enter via a designated entrance with an escort. They were then seated in a segregated section.2

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A Predictable Accident?

Written by Harold McNeill on March 22nd, 2010. Posted in Editorials


image

Above: Queen of the North en route through the Inside Passage on the West Coast of Canada. Having traveled on dozens of Cruise ships of various size, as well as hundreds of trips on BC Ferries including an occasional trip on the Queen of the North through the inside passage, I am amazed there are not more accidents given the oceans of the world can produce extremely challenging situations. The loss of that classic ship, the Queen of the North is just one more example of how things can go catastrophically within the blink of an eye.

Note: It appears that on occasion when making a simple one-word change, a whole paragraph can be replicated.  I have not yet determined why this takes place, so please bear with me when this happens.  Harold

Of the special items on the Queen of the North were several large murals that decorated the walls along the passageways.  Photos, depicting various historical sites along the route, were accompanied by a written history of each site and surrounding area.  The murals and stories were prepared under the direction of a long-time friend and former BC Provincial Archeologist, Bjorn Simonson.  My wife, Lynn McNeill assisted in the preparation.  As this work was completed perhaps a decade before the sinking, I don’t know if they were still being displayed when the Queen of the North sank on that fateful day in 2006.

(Activity: May 1, 2017 – 2712)

Follow-up News Reports, June 2013

Karl Lilgert, the navigating officer on the ill-fated Queen of the North, leaves the court after being found guilty of Criminal Negligence Causing Death. His being sentencedKarl Lilget and Son to four years in a Federal Penitentiary very much surprised me (see comments near the end of this post relating to the essential elements of a Criminal Negligence charge). I have no doubt the constant stream of inflammatory media reports as well as the vicious presentation by the Crown, had a strong influence on the jury.

During my thirty-year police career, experience taught me that convicting someone on a charge of Criminal Negligence Causing Death was a particularly onerous task. As discussed further on in this article, each element of that particular statute presents a very real challenge for the investigators and crown.

In particular, I have been involved in other cases where the “wanton and reckless” disregard for life was considerably more egregious than in the Lilgert case, yet his case ended with a conviction. In my opinion, it was a stretch to have found each of the elements of the charge were proven in his case. I would be very surprised if either the charge or the sentence, perhaps both, were not tossed out on appeal.

Harold

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Comments

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

    November 11, 2019 |

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

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

    September 18, 2019 |

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

  • Harold McNeill

    August 21, 2019 |

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

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

  • Harold McNeill

    August 16, 2019 |

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

  • Elizabeth Mary McInnes, CAIB

    August 15, 2019 |

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

  • Harold McNeill

    August 13, 2019 |

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

  • Andrew Dunn

    May 14, 2019 |

    Thank you so much for all your help thus far Harold, aka. Tractor guy! I could not have done without you!

  • Harold McNeill

    April 25, 2019 |

    I find it interesting to contemplate how a small community evolves in general isolation from the rest of the world. We have a similar situation in the northern communities in Canada to which access is limited. The inclusion of the world wide web and mass media has changed things, but these communities are still left pretty much to their own devices when it comes to personal interaction.

  • Harold McNeill

    March 19, 2019 |

    Hi Dave. Not that I am aware and I have a fairly comprehensive family tree for the McNeill side of the family. I will pull it up and scan. Cheers, Harold. Great chatting with you and I will give Ben a nudge.

  • Dave Cassels

    March 16, 2019 |

    Were you related to Guy McNeill who owned the Bruin Inn in St. Albert in the late 40’s or early 50’s? Guy was a close friend of my father-in-law who was the first President of the Royal Glenora Club. My phone number is 780 940 1175. Thank you.