45th and 80th Birthdays

Written by Harold McNeill on January 15th, 2021. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts


Christine McNeill LeClair and her Daddy, Harold

While we have four children, Jay, Kari, Christine and Sean, along with three grandchildren, Grayson, Audrey and Avery, it was my good fortune to have shared a birthday with the youngest daughter, Christine. That birthday bundle arrived in the wee hours of the morning at the Royal Jubilee Hospital.  Happy Birthday, Christine.

Heartfelt thanks to family and friends who phoned, sent texts or posted birthday wishes on Facebook. Many things happened that made this one memorable day, and part of it was due to the Covid.   I’ll take the day one item at a time.

A Surprise Cruise

As many of you are aware, we have a new grand-daughter (now 19 months) and we maintain close contact with Sean and Alysha as we provide intermittent grandparent care (thank you, Avery). When the
three came over today for a birthday lunch, and among other things, Lynn and the kids told me about the frustrating path they had followed in planning for this day.  Their story gave me insight into some of the stress I remember Lynn being under as the travel business crashed in March 2020.

At that time, Lynn had dozens of clients whose trips were cancelled and getting refunds was the order of the day. While most cruise companies and airlines were pretty good, others were only willing to apply future cruise or flight credits. What I did not know, a few dozen ‘clients’ included family and friends who intended to surprise me aboard the Royal Caribbean’s, Oasis of the Sea. Oh well, the best-laid plans, as they say. Now, on to Plan B.

An Island Retreat

Because families were still allowed to gather for events, the smaller family group decided to rent a retreat home on one of the Islands for a family get-away as we have done for past trips.  Alas, towards the end of the year, Covid again intervened, and it was back to the drawing board.  During all this, Mr Clueless had no idea any of this was on the planning books. When we arrived on January 13th, the birthday party had slimmed down to Mom, Dad, Jay, Sean, Alysha and Avery.  Ah, but again, I was in for a surprise.

A Neighbourhood Birthday

During the birthday morning when cleaning up from some of the wind damage caused by the previous overnight storm, I noted birthday wishes pinned to the Christmas tree that is a single remaining item from the array of Christmas street decorations. It was clear someone was-being mischievous.  While on our walk to the park, various neighbours had wished me happy birthday, but just after Sean and Alysha left, more neighbours and a half dozen young kids started gathering out front.  Here is a slideshow with a couple of short video clips. (Harold and Christine’s Birthday)

 

All physically distanced as per the current rules, they sang happy birthday as the kids came forth with flowers and cards.  It was a touching moment as this neighbourhood (as with the more rural one we lived on when on West Viaduct), is one of close-connection between neighbours. We are also so fortunate to have families with young kids surrounding us, and during this time of Covid, the kids are often on the street and in yards playing.  Our street is back to a time when Sean was a pre-schooler, but now we are the seniors and so lucky to be surrounded by neighbours who care about each other.

A Surprise Gift

As family members know, Lynn often squirrels herself away as she makes handcrafted gifts for
birthdays, Christmas, and other special days or events.  So it was over the past couple of weeks as she carefully crafted a unique aeroplane for Papa Bear – a touch of Around the World in Eighty Days.  The clock base is still being completed but here is the main body of the aeroplane and pilot, all finely crafted from scratch by Lynn. Photos included as soon as the base is complete.

How Does it feel as I start my eighth decade?

I’d say each decade of my life has proven to be even better than the one before. Not only am I surrounded by loving family and friends, but I also wake up each day with an immense number of things I look forward to doing.  My challenge is, how to stuff them all in the time I have left in this amazing world we call home.

Hopefully, the things I do and say over the next decade will help make the world a better place. I also hope my extended family and friends will succeed in keeping things on an even keel in their lives as the world continues to change at a breakneck pace.

Love,

Harold

PS  Thank you to everyone and especially the grandkids and neighbourhood kids: Grayson, Audrey, Avery, Michael, Felix, Clara, Vienna, Jaifa, Zidan, Jahan, Lucia and many others sprinkled through their teens. Each of you and your families makes the world a brighter place.

 

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Donald Trump: A Legacy of Lies and Hate

Written by Harold McNeill on January 10th, 2021. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts


The Storming of the White House: Another riot or a planned action?

I originally thought the gathering crowd was similar to others over the past few years whenever Trump made the call. That all began to change when I watched news reports of the harassment of various legislators as they made their way to Washington.

It was certainly a rough ride for Senator Mitt Romney who stood against Trump’s call to overturn the election. Then watching Trump and Guiliani along with Trump family members and noteable Republicans urging on the crown, I changed my mind. It now seems overwhelmingly likely it was in fact an attempted coup, not just poor judgment on the part of a group of ill-tempered Trumpsters.

On a FB Post, I intended to add a series of photos of the invasion of the White House by the Proud Boys, White Supremacists and sundry others. FB stopped that plan, advising my photos did not meet “community standards”. I continued searching for photos and videos of the live-action and the more I’ve watched it seems clear that key elements of the invasion where dead set on taking hostages if not killing key people.

This was not just another riot as we’ve seen happen in several states over the past few months, it was a deliberately staged event designed to prevent the House from confirming Biden’s election as President.  Granted, there were likely dozens of individuals who were just caught up in the moment as happens in every riot but lurking in the background, there were also dozens of well-trained individuals who appeared to be fully prepared to take hostages and to completely disrupt the order of government in the US Capital.  These folks were well-armed, well trained and capable of doing the bidding of their leader, the President.

We can only hope the saner heads among the US and State authorities will find the ways and means to fully investigate these events and will hold those responsible by laying criminal charges including sedition.  Following is a slideshow of the photos I downloaded and beyond that, I’ve included a few videos by others that reveal what went on inside the White House.

 1. Donald Trump: A Legacy of Lies and Hate

 

2. MSNBC Report the day after the attack

This follow-up broadcast includes several videos of events inside the White House that captures the full extent of the mayhem and makes clear it amazing that more people weren’t killed or injured.  (MSNBC Link)

3. NDTV Report and Video Clip

A video clip in this report made by Donald Trump Jr., (photo left) at a tented event somewhere outside the White House.  It is abundantly clear from this video that the entire Trump family and several White House Staff along with sundry others were watching at the events unfolded.  In the Donald Jr. clip, he even refers to a countdown towards the time of the invasion.   (Donald Jr. Video Clip, scroll down page)

NOTE: Donald Jr’s voice is slightly out of sink at the beginning but the following video seems to make it clear it was a live view of the Trump event.  Near the end of the video Donld Jr. states something to the effect “it’s only a couple of seconds now….”

NDTV has been rated “India’s Most Trusted TV Media Brand in the TRA Trust Brand Report, India Study 2016. … It was the first time in media history that a media company has been both: Number 1 – India’s most trusted brand across all newspaper and channels, (All India Brand Trust Report 2014 and 2015).”

 

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Building a Cohesive Canada

Written by Harold McNeill on January 25th, 2020. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts, Editorials


An Alberta born farm-girl whose mother was an immigrant of Ukranian descent has made her mark on the world stage and now sits at the centre of power in Ottawa. While this young woman has gained the respect of Canadians and many around the world, why would Albertans choose to forget her? Is it because she’s in the wrong party?

“Chrystia Freeland has put Canadian foreign policy back on track, making Canada a leader on several foreign policy fronts like human rights, security, and working with Canada’s allies to maintain the rule-based order. Despite Canadians self-identifying their government as promoting human rights and democratic freedoms, principled foreign policy has not always been a priority for previous governments.”   (MLI Policy Maker of the Year)

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Remembrance Day: The Forgotten Warriors Updated

Written by Harold McNeill on November 11th, 2019. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts


Remembrance of Minorities 2

More photos in the footer 

November 11, 2019:  I brought this post forward from 2015 as we are still seeing far too many negative comments from people who seem to have forgotten many of the men and women who fought and died to preserve our freedoms were from minority communities.  When celebrities in positions of influence do that it is unforgivable.

This is the 2015 post:

I am still seeing far too many FB posts that confuse issues related to September-11th with our celebration of November-11th.  Try to remember the defence of our freedoms during two World Wars was fought by military personnel from countries representing every race and religion around the world and while Canada, then as now, was home to a few who utter racist rants, we need to remember this is 2019, not 1914 or 1939.

It is time for everyone to accept that Canada is a multicultural mosaic where minorities are the norm, not the exception, so let’s stop trying to prove it is otherwise. The following statement is plucked from a Web Site dedicated to the memory of those who served in World War I:

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Is Fiscal Conservatism Dead?

Written by Harold McNeill on October 16th, 2019. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts, Editorials


While Newfoundland and Labrador have not yet declared bankruptcy, they are on the verge.
Guess who engineered the downfall?

Oh, Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling
From glen to glen, and down to oceanside.
The summer’s gone, and all the roses falling,

It’s you, it’s you who choose to quit, the rest must bide.

And, Danny Williams, the ninth Premier of the Newfoundland and Labrador, did just that. After setting the province up for failure, he walked away a hero.  Was Danny as a fiscal conservative? Perhaps, but rather than setting up the Province for success as one might expect from a party and leader that preached fiscal conservatism, he and the party preferred, instead, to reap the benefits of power in the present. It’s the failing of many governments, not just the Conservatives, but it is an extra failing for the Conservatives as they profess themselves to be the party of fiscal prudence.

Related Posts

Left or Right: Is there a difference?
How to Game and Election
The SNC Lavalin Affair
The Kings of Conservative Media
The Changing Landscape of Politics in Canada

Part 1: Newfoundland & Labrador: A case study in how to fail

For those who think I have heaped to much blame on Alberta and British Columbia Conservatives for poor resource and fiscal management, let’s take a trip to the east coast for some relief. It seems the rise of Conservatism in NFLD under the leadership of Danny Williams in 2003, is eerily similar to the Alberta experience of the last two decades.  This from a 2018 National Post article:

When Danny Williams (that vibrant, outgoing, irascible, Irish politician) came to power as the ninth premier of NFLD in 2003, he promptly held a grim news conference where he warned that the provincial debt was out of control, and threatening to bankrupt the province. Fortunately for Williams, after one unpleasant budget and a nasty public sector strike, the price of oil rocketed from around $30 when he first took office, to $50 by the early months of 2005.

By the end of Williams’ first term in office, oil was flirting with $80 a barrel and it only climbed higher in his second term. Williams cut taxes and allowed spending to explode, fuelled by windfall oil royalties, right up until he quit politics in 2010, one week after he had announced a landmark deal for a multi-billion dollar hydroelectric project. 

“During those good years, a few columnists, some policy wonks, and the province’s (Newfoundland that is) auditor general fretted that the government was living beyond its means, but the electorate didn’t care. After decades of crushing societal poverty, Newfoundland and Labrador was rich for a change, and Williams got credit for the economic miracle.”

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A Letter to Jamie Hammond

Written by Harold McNeill on October 14th, 2019. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts


Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke
A Letter to Jamie Hammond

October 14, 2019

Dear Jamie,

My vote in Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke comes down to a choice between two of the three parties on the centre-left. Having just met and listened to you at two meetings, you present a clear and forceful message. (Photo Right)

I’m also impressed with Randall Garrison, as he comes out loud, clear and consistent in his messages. I have also watched you and Garrison on the podium. You are respectful and cheerful to one another and all other candidates. Between the two of you, you don’t hold out your political differences as being an impediment to moving forward on major issues.

There was a moment in time when you were asked a specific question about your first priority if you won. You stated something to the effect, “my first priority would be to meet with Randall Garrison over dinner where we would discuss the files he was working on that need to be continued into the future.” That is the type of politician and party we need in Ottawa. I’m also sure Randall feels the same way.

Yesterday, I heard Jagmeet Singh state unequivocally he would work with the Liberals to maintain a stable government if they ended up in a minority or even if the Conservatives won a minority. It’s a great relief knowing that whichever way I cast my ballot, my vote will not be lost if the other team wins.

Just as in my voting for David Merner the last time around (he was a Liberal then) my vote was not lost simply because Randall Garrison and the NDP won in the riding. I had worked for all three parties last time, just as I have this time around.

My difference with David Merner (I consider him a friend), is that when he jumped ship from the Liberals, he turned on them with a vengeance. He still does this on a regular basis. We don’t need parties of the centre-left beating up on one another as a means to gain votes.

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Left or Right? Is there a difference?

Written by Harold McNeill on October 9th, 2019. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts, Editorials


This post will tackle the issue of ‘fiscal conservatism’ and whether it still lives, or more to the point, whether it ever lived in actual practice. Of specific interest, is the management of natural resources in Alberta and British Columbia. I will later write about Newfoundland and Labrador, as NFLD and Alberta have followed almost the same path over the past twenty years (boom to bust). Just where does the fault lie?

In the following discussion, it’s suggested I lean more heavily on Alberta than British Columbia and to some extent that’s true. Part of my reasoning is that over the past forty years BC has developed strong political and public opposition to the worst instincts of government when it comes to extracting value from our resources, and with protecting the environment for future generations.

With the Conservatives now back in power in Alberta, they are again in a position to spend hundreds of millions to protect the oil companies and government from any opposition in a rapidly changing world. This is not unexpected, as over the past seventy-six years, Alberta, the most conservative province in Canada, has had neither an effective opposition nor a protest movement.

It was only in 2015, with the election of the NDP, that this changed. While the NDP was defeated this year, I think the future will be far different as there will be a rapid rise in opposition strength and it seems likely public protest will also take hold.  Many articles have been written which suggest Alberta has become far more polarized (left and right) in recent years and that bodes well for the people of Alberta and Canada as the Conservatives will need to think twice about running roughshod over any opposition. (Link)

Regards,

Harold McNeill
Email: lowerislandsoccer@shaw.ca

Related Posts

Is Fiscal Conservatism Dead
Left or Right: Is there a difference?
How to Game an Election
The SNC Lavalin Affair
The Kings of Conservative Media
The Changing Landscape of Politics in Canada

Contents

1.  Introduction
2. The ABBC of economic free rein:  What happens when few controls are placed on how companies use our natural resources for a quick buck.
3. For richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health: life in the Alberta oilpatch (1940 – 2019).
4. British Columbia: The Scars that Bind (1952 – 2019)
5. Back to the Future
Footnotes and Charts
Appendix A (a sketch of the federal political parties)

Next Up:  How the past twenty years in NFLD almost exactly parallels the rise and fall of fortunes in Alberta with, “Oh, Danny Boy, the Pipes, the Pipes are Calling.” (Coming soon).

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How to Game an Election

Written by Harold McNeill on September 18th, 2019. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts, Editorials


This post is written as a less provocative introduction to a nasty game being played out across the nation as we move towards the October election. Two examples of the game are provided above and both happened today (Sept 18).

One was a fake news story about the Prime Minister, and the other, the doctoring of a Rick Mercer meme. Both were discovered by CBC news. We can expect much more of this stuff over the coming weeks and most of it will emanate from the Conservative Party and their backroom social media experts.

In an election as close as the one, where every vote counts and, short of a complete disaster on the part of one party or another, social media is absolutely the best bet for gaining undecided votes.  Following, are a couple of polls showing how things stood in July 2018.

Table I  “Would you consider voting for one of these parties?”

The numbers have not changed all that much over the past year. What happens to the Greens and NDP, has a considerable impact on the Liberals – not so much on the Conservatives. Clearly, the movement of voters between the Greens, NDP, and Liberals is more likely to affect the outcome of the election.

All the Conservatives need do is develop strategies to keep the Greens and NDP focussed on the Liberals while keeping their own party members solidly attached. A large part of that strategy involves heaping as much negativity as possible on the Liberals.  If the Greens and NDP help them out, so much the better.  Next up, the change between how you would vote in 2018 and 2019.

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Comments

  • Harold McNeill

    February 28, 2022 |

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

  • Robert Martineau

    February 25, 2022 |

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

  • Julue

    January 28, 2022 |

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

  • Herb Craig

    December 14, 2021 |

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

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Hi Dorthy, So glad you found those stories and, yes, they hold many fond memories. Thanks to social media and the blog, I’ve been able to get in touch with many friends from back in the day. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Well, well. Pleased to see your name pop up. I’m in regular contact via FB with many ‘kids’ from back in our HS days (Guy, Dawna, Shirley and others). Also, a lot of Cold Lake friends through FB. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Oh, that is many years back and glad you found the story. I don’t have any recall of others in my class other than the Murphy sisters on whose farm my Dad and Mom worked.

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Pleased to hear from you Howie and trust all is going well. As with you, I have a couple of sad stories of times in my police career when I crossed paths with Ross Barrington Elworthy. Just haven’t had the time to write those stories.

  • Howie Siegel

    November 25, 2021 |

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

  • Herbert Plain

    November 24, 2021 |

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