Mental Illness: A rising crisis on the street

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


September 12, 2014:  Further to a recent story on this blog (Living in the Shadow of Mental Illness) posted on August 19th, 2014, the Vancouver Police Chief and Mayor have now waded in on the subject of mental illness.  They outline how the VPD will likely make 3000 arrests under the Mental Health Act this year, up from just over 2200 five years earlier. (Link to Province Article)

Both the Mayor and the Chief make the point that the Criminal Justice System is not the place on which this problem should be offloaded.  They state that we are now seeing the consequences as senior governments continue to close hospitals that provide intensive care for those having spiralled into the depths of despair that comes with deteriorating mental health.  As was pointed out in the earlier story, over 8000 seriously mentally ill people were dumped onto the streets when the Riverview Hospital closed its doors in 2012.  The Coquitlam Mayor is now calling for that hospital to be updated and re-opened in order to help deal with the crisis. (Post February 1, 2016, 553)


Standing with Teachers at Lansdowne School

Written by Harold McNeill on September 11th, 2014. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts


On September 10, 2014, the Times Colonist reported that a group of parents plan to cross the picket line and occupy Lansdowne School (Hillside Ave., in Victoria, BC) on Monday, September 15, at 10:00 am (Families will gather). Crossing a legal picket line is not the answer and I have no idea why they think that will help.  On the contrary, it will be seen as a move against the teachers and if a confrontation occurs (however minor), the media will eat it up and teachers will end up being the losers.

Instead, why not join a group of concerned citizens at the picket line in support of the teachers move towards binding arbitration. To that end you are invited to:

Location: Lansdowne School

Meet at the corner of Richmond Rd and Lansdowne Rd
Time: 9:30 am on Monday, September 15.


Teachers Need a Plan to Win the War

Written by Harold McNeill on September 3rd, 2014. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts, Editorials


September 2, 2014: Make no mistake, the BC Liberals (Liberals in name only) is waging an ideological war on teachers. They are perfectly willing to let the current situation drag on without concern for the welfare of students, parents and teachers.  Unfortunately, the picket lines are helping the government win the battle, not the teachers. Every since the government made that 2002 decision to legislate away a legally binding contract section, they have committed to 12 years of all out war.

Update, September 17, 2014

So glad to see that negotiations seem to be producing some concrete action and that it appears the Government is backing off on E80 as well as tossing in some money toward the class size and composition issue.  It will be interesting to see the final agreement. I do so hope the teachers are able to get back to the classroom.

Update, September 10, 2014

On September 10, 2014, the Times Colonist reported that a group of parents plan to cross the picket line and occupy Lansdowne School (Hillside Ave., in Victoria, BC) on Monday, September 15, at 10:00 am (Families will gather). Crossing a legal picket line is not the answer and I have no idea why they think that will help.  On the contrary, it will be seen as a move against the teachers and if a confrontation occurs (however minor), the media will eat it up and teachers will end up being the losers.

Instead, why not join a group of concerned citizens at the picket line in support of the teachers move towards binding arbitration. To that end you are invited to:

Location: Lansdowne School

Meet at the corner of Richmond Rd and Lansdowne Rd
Time: 9:30 am on Monday, September 15.

Perhaps the teachers will be able to supply a few ‘Supporter’ signs.  If you cannot make it to Lansdowne, perhaps you would join the teachers at a school near you and advise them you are standing in support of the teachers at Lansdowne who will be facing the occupation of their school.

Everyone is cautioned —  this is to be a peaceful form of support for ending the strike. If any person arrives and is intent on crossing the picket line to occupy the school, they should be freely allowed exercise their right.

Thank you,
Harold McNeill (a retired parent of four)

Continue with Original Post

Note: Part 2 of this post provides a snippet of family history that speaks to the heart of the teachers dispute, that of class size, composition and teacher assistants. Our family worked hard for over three decades to achieve some balance in these matters, both in school and in the adult life of our son. Children and adults with learning disabilities and other issues that seriously affect their well being deserve to be given a bit more consideration rather than thrown under a bus.  Several other articles on this subject appear on this blog, the most recent being Living in the Shadow of Mental Illness and Abducted: The First Twelve Hours.  Both address the challenges of living at the margins of our society.


Hindsight and complaints against police

Written by Harold McNeill on June 5th, 2014. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts



The above RCMP Officers, Constable Georges Gevaudan, Constable James Larche and Constable Joseph Ross, were killed by a suspect who has since been arrested. Two other officers were also wounded, but will survive.

Friday, June 5, 2014: (Moncton, N.B. Reported by all Media)

Only this morning (Friday, June 6, 2014)) did I learn of the tragic events in Moncton. Had I known earlier I would not have posted this story when I did. With a police killing, it’s always closer to home, partly because I  spent thirty years as a policeman and partly because police officers represent security in our society.

I have no idea what investigators will turn up in the present case, but at this moment, our hearts go out to all those who were left behind and whose lives will be forever changed. Over the coming days they deserve a measure of freedom from being intruded upon by the second guessing that comes with these events.  In that regard, the posting of the original story that filled this space will be set aside to some future date as the content of this post and another longer post that will follow, speaks to the issues at hand.


Original Post, June 2, 2014 Victoria, B.C. (Times Colonist Report).

The full post concerning the tragic deaths of these three officers and of many others over the years, is now posted at:
Living in the Shadow of Mental Illness




Separation of Church and State

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Russian Troops in the Ukraine?

Written by Harold McNeill on April 23rd, 2014. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts


Russian Troops in Ukraine, 2014. Pictures such as this have been used to suggest Russian Troops are being surreptitiously infiltrated into the Eastern Ukraine. Why do the media and others continue to spread these vicious rumours?

The Myth of Covert Operations

Of course Russia does not have troops in the Crimea, nor Eastern Ukraine!  How do we know? Well, the President of Russia has assured that is the case. Why on earth would he want to secretly place troops there and then lie about it.  Russia is just a peace loving country like any other.

Of course the USA, France, Britain, Canada and other peace loving countries would never think of secretly infiltrating troops or military operatives into another country. In the past century people suggested the USA had troops in Laos, Cambodia, Iran, Iraq or dozens of other middle and far east countries. It was not true then and it is not true now. Neither did they carry out covert operations in Cuba, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia or dozens other Central and South American countries in an attempt to destabilize the existing governments. It just doesn’t make sense why they would do such a thing.  Besides, we have the assurance of successive US Presidents and other world leaders that it was not done.

We know this just as we know that NSA, CSIS, M16, Mossad and dozens of other agencies do not carry out illegal covert surveillance of the citizens of their their own country.

Give it a rest folks, this stuff is not happening and if you think it is, you are just being paranoid.



Some have suggested that US Special Forces trainers were secretly supervising military assault drills for units of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army.  Don’t you believe it folks. The the USA would never carry out such operations.
Link Here to see how these rumours are being spread. 

Just this morning more of these vicious rumours were being spread by a friend on Facebook.  Link here to a story about why Latin Americans are flocking to the United States.


The Power of Symbols

Written by Harold McNeill on April 19th, 2014. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts


UPDATE MARCH 12, 2017 (Web Photo):

The recent decision (March 2017) by a senior court in the European Union to allow the banning of any religious headgear by a businesses keeps alive the myth that some types of religious headgear are more dangerous than others.

While many kinds of head coverings are popular, particularly in cold weather Canada, some coverings, the Niqab and Burqa as two examples, often evoke a strong negative reaction in Western nations. It is not the headdress; it is the context and symbolism that brings the response to those who have not taken the time to delve into the issue.

In the photo above it is clear the woman on the left is voluntarily wearing the covering as a response to the weather. For the woman of the left, however, the covering is not only tied to religion but also to the power men hold over women. And, in the case of the Niqab and Burqa, that debate is not likely to end anytime soon.

Do similar debates take place in countries defined as Muslim.   Check out a few of the astounding discoveries made while Lynn McNeill, Esther and Garth Dunn and I were traveling through the Middle East during November and December 2013.

Is it reasonable to place limitations on the wearing of religious apparel?

When traveling, if we keep our minds open, it’s easy to find the world may be defined in a manner different than that which we have been lead to believe. While a large portion of our worldview results from our prejudice, our negative views and fears are certainly enhanced by the actions of TV and print media, politicians, social media and, of course, religious groups themselves. Our family and friends also play a huge role in our evolving positive or negative views of others.

Let’s jump to an ongoing controversy that became the turning point in the recent (2013) Quebec Election – the wearing or web-quebec-charter-dos-(9)displaying of religious symbols by public servants. In 2017 it remains an issue being played out in the European Courts and pending European elections, as well as in Canada with the current Conservative Party leadership race being an example of how things can go negative if that may help a candidate to win a few more votes.

Graphic (Web Source): This chart was circulated by the PQ when they rolled out proposed changes to the Quebec Charter. The top three items would be approved. The bottom five would not. It was not long before the Niqab (the partial face covering bottom left) became the central issue. It is easy to see a between the application to different religious belief systems.  So the question, if what we wear does not interfere with what we do (within bounds), does it make any difference what we wear?

While the Quebec Charter amendment crossed the line on many points, it was the Niqab and Burqa that quickly rose to the top of the debate. This was primarily because those particular head coverings suggest the oppression of woman, something that is an anathema to basic freedoms in Canada. Mind you, over that past 150 years of our nation, we managed to accomplish the suppression fairly well without even referring to the Muslim headdress.

Never-the-less, our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, a relatively new document that came into being in 1982, provided our citizens with the right to practice their religion (within reasonable limits) as they see fit. It now seem’s some would prefer to limit those rights even though it conflicts with the Charter and may infringe up the rights of some women in particular. Clearly, not every country has a Charter of Rights, therefore, in those countries, and this includes within a great many religions, the equality of women is not always given the high priority it is in Canada.

It is easy to understand why this particular issue arises in Canada, as our country is made up of people from all around the world and of every religious persuasion. Never-the-less, we do amazingly well if we consider all the possible friction points that exist.

Now let’s skip back to the Middle East – Oman and Saudi Arabia in particular. In those countries, it is not hard to find women wearing full or partial face coverings (yet they are not ubiquitous). The question, do any restrictions exist?  First, look at Oman, a country ruled by a Sultan. In Oman, about half the employment is provided by the Sultanate, employment similar to our public service (e.g.teachers, government workers, hospitals, ambulance and so on).


RAWthenic Eatery – Royal Oak Shopping Centre

Written by Harold McNeill on April 18th, 2014. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts

Rawthentic-Eatery_07-01-2014_PM_v2Raw food is a term used to describe food that has not been processed or altered, including having stayed at a temperature below 105° F. It can refer to fruits, vegetables, and nuts in their original forms, or combined to create unique dishes that often mimic some of your favourite cooked foods. (Link Here)

The Times they are a Changing

Wow!  Fifty years ago this year Bob Dylan’s The Times They are a Changin’ (lyrics in footer) hit the top of the pop charts in England. It seems certain the song carries as much relevance today as it did in 1964, when a Raw Food, Vegan style restaurant boldly dared to wedge itself between MacDonald’s, Pizza Hut and Tim Hortons in the heart of he Royal Oak Shopping Centre.

While the RAWthentic Eatery only opened its doors in the Royal Oak Shopping Centre on March 20, 2014, it is quickly becoming a favourite.  While the menu contains an array of Vegan, Raw, Gluten and Dairy Free products, there is plenty more on theIMG_7118 menu to temp your palate.

Smoothies and fresh blended drinks like Goji Sunrise and Raspberry Zinger, Wheat Grass and a dozen other raw juices; the Combos, Salads and Entrees stand out on the long list and as you continue down the menu you will find desserts to die for.

With plenty of locally grown (whenever possible) eatery Manager Chantelle Shah-Poulin (photo left) and her staff, will soon be on a first name basis with a rapidly growing line of customers seeking a healthy diet alternative.

The Eatery continues a growing trend towards providing greater food choice for those who wish to move away from traditional fast foods, fast foods that are high in sugar, fat, salt and other additives that have come to so negatively define an entire industry that has been slow to recognize that change was in the air.



  • 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.

  • Herbert Plain

    November 24, 2021 |

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