RCMP Commissioner on the Wrong Track.

Written by Harold McNeill on November 28th, 2015. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts


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Ottawa (November 25, 2015): With a look and tone of concern, Commission Bob Paulson
spoke at a recent Security and Defence Conference in Ottawa about dangers posed when accessing the Internet. (Reference, Ottawa Citizen Article)
This post will consider whether comments made by the Commissioner  are valid or whether they were just more fear-mongering as tends to be his pattern.  The post will also make comparisons between Cyber Crime and Street Crime as a means to put some perspective around his warnings of approaching danger.

(Note: As usual over the first few days, as I reread the post looking for errors and omissions, I continue to make changes that help make for a better read. In addition, when I first learn about something like this (his comments at the conference) it drives me to respond as the suggestions drive another nail to the core of our democracy. It makes me wonder what in world was he thinking and why does he try to drive such fear? He should know better (he’s the Commissioner of the RCMP after all), but no, he chooses instead to drive fear.   Thanks for staying with me.  Cheers, Harold)

Cyber Crime

After reading various articles about the Commissioner’s most recent concerns and his suggestions on how to meet the challenge posed by what he claims is a lack in Internet Security, it seems he has gone a step to far. While he has always been a master at fear-mongering about all things involving domestic and PoliticsOfFearnational security, it seem that having lost his comrades in fear, Stephen HarperVic Toews and a dozen others with whom he shared a common interest, has pushed him over the edge as he see’s himself and the force as the last bastion of protection against all things evil in the world?

While terrorism and dangers of an attack has long been a subject close to his heart, it now seems the Commissioner now making dire warnings about the dangers lurking in cyberspace. While most would agree that caution is the watchword when surfing the web for shopping and entertainment or any of hundreds of other uses, the Commissioner has suddenly pushed the danger level to Code Red.

Following is a sprinkling of his words of warning as reported by the Ottawa Citizen (Italicized comments are from the Ottawa Citizen unless otherwise identified):

Your safety, your family’s safety, your financial integrity is at risk and so we need to start having the conversation now”.

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New Orleans: Peeling back the Mask

Written by Harold McNeill on August 26th, 2015. Posted in Editorials, Tim Hortons Morning Posts


Photos (Web Source, then merged and wrapped using Photoshop)

Peeling Back the Mask

This post is actually a Tale of Two Cities. While New Orleans is widely known as the Big Easy to tourists and the well-healed who call the city home, for a large and ever growing number who work and live in the city, life is anything but easy. When the tourism mask is peeled back New Orleans becomes a city in which nearly half the population lives in poverty. Remember, this is a city that sits proudly among the Top 10 tourist destinations in the United States attracting over ten million visitors each year (Link)
January 1, 2018 (5300)

November 9, 2016 (Update)
Victoria, B.C.

US Election: Donald Trump President

I woke early this morning to see what happened and cannot say I am the least bit surprised.  The US is a deeply divided nation and much of that division seems to lie along the fault line of poverty. Over the past few decades, we have all watched the well-heeled establishment in the US protect themselves again and again and again against being held accountable for their misdeeds. 2008 was just the latest in a series of financial disasters precipitated by greed.

The short trip Ed Walker (my son-in-law), Grayson (grandson) and I took to New Orleans in August 2015 clearly revealed a fault line along the “black and white”, “rich vs poor” axis.  The poverty, the desperation, the lack of hope in New Orleans was being repeated throughout the south and parts of almost every other State.  It was hard for me to believe that two cities, Victoria and New Orleans, or even Louisiana and British Columbia, could be so similar in many ways, yet very different when it came to a poverty that, in much of the south, has extinguished any hope for a better future for a significant portion of the population.

I don’t know the demographics of how the US Vote count flowed out, but almost every state across the southern US voted for Trump, a man who is as establishmentnt as you can get, and Clinton the very essence of all that is rich. For different reasons people of the mid-central US choose Trump over Clinton, and although she was well-qualified to lead the country, she simply never understood the anger that was enveloping the country along the fault line of poverty.

Perhaps Trump is the only person in a batch of rotting apples who may be able to shake the establishment to its core in a manner that allows the country to re-establish a society based upon the ideals on which it was founded – equality and equal opportunity. Trump may provide the impetus for change but it is more likely he will he will demonstrate once and for all that the rich and big business will look after their interests first, last and always. The country could very well descend into another civil war before the rich realized what was happening.

On a comparative note, my wife and I, along with two friends, Garth and Esther, recently returned from Viet Nam and Cambodia) where we were completely enamored of the people, a people that have lived through the worst the world has to offer, yet have come out the other end as a gentle and loving society where it does not appear large numbers of people are left behind.  Comments about those two countries appear in recent series of travel posts – Resilience of the Human Spirit – posted in November 2016.

What might the future hold the citizens of the United States? I don’t know, but hopefully, the coming four years become one those momentous times that leads to positive change rather than complete destruction.  Now, some observations of our visit to New Orleans.

August 27, 2005, New Orleans was engulfed by Hurricane Katrina, a storm that carried a surge which breached the old and inadequate levees and flooded much of the city. It was one of the most destructive natural disasters in New Orleans history, yet much of the death and destruction was not caused by the storm but by wilful neglect — the failure to secure the city from the storm surge. That was a ‘black and white’ issue.  To what extent has the city recovered?

1. The Mask: What the tourists see.

For visitors, the city presents a year-round fantasyland of boisterous, round-the-clock carousing that caters to every taste and where musicians, singers, and various other entertainers compete with the best. For anyone who loves music, particularly jazz, statues-1366142999you will love New Orleans. Just spend an hour sitting in the open air Café Beignet (Three Statutes in the Musical Legends Park) on Bourbon Street and you will be treated to the sweet sounds of jazz as ever-changing groups of local artists pick up the beat.  (hdm photo files)

Wander along the Quarter to the north end where, on Frenchmen Street, you will likely find an ad hoc group of young men playing in a random brass group that will blow your socks off. Then, one day, walk along Basin Street to get a feel for the history of that fabled city.

For the more adventuresome, including the Catholics in our midst, Mardi Gras, “beginning on or after the Christian feasts of the Epiphany (Three King’s Day) and culminating on the day before Ash Wednesday,” is a celebration you should not miss. (Link)  The celebration, also referred to as “Fat Tuesday, reflects the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season.”  Whether anyone other than the poor have ever fasted in New Orleans is questionable, and whether this is a destination of choice for the Lenten season, is doubtful. If, by this point, you have not struck the city off your ‘bucket list’ it will likely remain at or near the top until you finally decide to wade in. For most Canadians, it is less than a five-hour flight from any of our major centres.

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Thank you Zunera Ishaq

Written by Harold McNeill on October 10th, 2015. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts


ishaq-citizenship

Zunera Ishaq

Thank you Zunera Ishaq

In the public swearing in citizenship ceremonies,  Zunera Ishaq shed tears as she raised her hand and along with others stated: “I swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second Queen of Canada, her heirs and successors …”   (I)   At the end she said:  “Thank you so much for honouring me here today,”

Reference the Charter of Rights and Freedoms note at the end of this article.

Zunera Ishaq: Her side of the story:

Along the difficult path to citizenship, dozens of statements made by Ms. Ishaq have appeared in various newspaper and television reports about her battle to resist the Government of Canada attack. As you read Ms. Ishaq’s comments, then other notes in the footer, please remember the Prime Minister, his Ministers and the Ministry of Justice lawyers knew all along they were creating a fictitious defence of their position. They knew at the beginning they could never win, but continued along the path simply to create the illusion the Government was taking a principled position in this fight against the face covering. The Ministry lawyers who presented the Government’s case should all be disciplined by the Bar Association for their egregious abuse of court time and of bringing the administration of justice into disrepute (more in the end discussion):

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Crackling Fire on a Cold Winters Day

Written by Harold McNeill on September 14th, 2015. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts


 

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September 15, 2015 (Photo, thanks Alysha):  A glass of wine, some mood music and the first crackling fire of the year.  In terms of comfort and ambiance, there is nothing finer than a log fire.  (Lexi is actually snuggled between our feet.)

Link to full set of photos for this story.
Part 1  Link to a Magical Summer
Link to full set of photos for Part 1.
Part 3  The Magical Gardens of Adam Szczawinski

Summers of my Youth

In the summers of my youth, the work was not done without having set aside an abundant supply of wood for those deep cold prairie winters as that was our primary source of heat.  Here in Victoria, it’s not as deep and not as cold, but winter in Canada is still winter and as Canadians we love those crazy cozy log fires.

As Lynn and I recently installed wood burning insert our quest for good wood is ravenous. Drop a tree anywhere within a ten block radius and we hear it fall even when no one else can. With our gear ready and trailer hooked up, we can be on scene in less than ten minutes and first in, first cut and you own the tree, that’s the tradition. More than once we have been warned off by Hydro, but if Harold Cutting Woodwe’re lucky and they’re busy, we can have the choice parts cleaned, cut, loaded and gone before they even arrive on the scene.

While it only takes a medium gale to produce copious quantities of street wood here on the Island, those winds do not usually begin until late fall and the wood won’t be dry in time for the current winter. If you don’t have a plentiful supply in reserve, you pay the going rate of about $200 per cord for split and (sometimes) dry, second choice stuff from a jobber or upwards of $300 from an established firm.  Link: (Victoria Firewood)

May 2015: Harold with his new Husqvarna chain saw working peacefully cleaning up the property next door.

Early this spring it was our good fortune to get ahead of the storms when the property immediately across the street was being subdivided for three homes. As the one acre lot was filled with old fruit trees, maple, oak, cedar, fir, etc., there was more than enough for a two year supply and with a warm, dry summer, most of it would be ready for a fall start.  So with chainsaw, hardhat and ear protection in hand, we began cutting, hacking, bucking and dragging that fine wood across the street to our front yard.  But, as we all know good things don’t always last.

Police Intervention

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A Magical Summer

Written by Harold McNeill on September 6th, 2015. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts


Fairy in Garden

Personal Photos:  We always knew it would be A Magical Summer since the moment our granddaughter Audrey first planted those Scarlet Runners early this spring.  It became real one morning when I captured this  photo of a fairy standing in the corner of the garden beside an old wicker chair.

Link to Photos for this Post
Part 2: Link to Crackling Fire on Cold Winters Day
Part 3: The Magical Gardens of Adam Szczawinski

Fences and Gardens, Family and Friends

So much was happening this spring and summer it was hard to keep up, but suffice it to say there was a lot of magic. Woven between various trips to destinations inside and outside Canada, as well as visits by family and friends, there was a determination to redo the garden and fences as they were in tough shape after several years of neglect.

Last year Lynn and I worked at cleaning up the decks and redoing the garden furniture, but that only made the crumbling fences and mom cropped 7 front coverovergrown gardens look even more sad and forlorn.  Growing up in a family where my mother had the greenest thumb I know, we could no longer avoid thinking how she would feel if she happened by and saw all those steely, prickly weeds making such fun of the few domestic plants that survived the long summers of neglect.

Back in the late 1990’s mom and I had spent two magical summers planting everything we could get our hands on and it was now time to renew the gardening vows that were etched in my genes.  In our family one daughter, Kari, and one son, Sean, have been gifted with that particular gene, so the linage will not be lost any time soon. The jobs, however, were not a one week fix.

Photo (Personal Files, c1990s).  When mom was here for those two long visits, we spent day son end planting everything we could get our hands on. As neither of us had ever made moss hanging baskets we must have put together fifteen of various shapes and sizes.  Many of the McNeill Life Stories, 1941-1965, a historical stories on the blog, came out of our daily conversations.

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Remembrance Day: The Forgotten Warriors

Written by Harold McNeill on November 9th, 2015. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts


Remembrance of Minorities 2

Double Click Photo to Open

I am still seeing far to 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 2015, 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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Halloween 2015 at the McNeill’s

Written by Harold McNeill on November 1st, 2015. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts


Haunted Castle

Photo of Haunted Castle (Web Source).  The castle was projected on a large screen in a
dark corner of the deck.

Again this year, it was a beautiful clear late afternoon and evening for the trick or treaters. Considering torrential rains had pelted the city and caused considerable localized flooding over the previous twenty-four hours, the clearing was an unexpected, I don’t suppose a little rain in Victoria would dampen the spirits of the true Hallo’weiners’.

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Voter Turnout: Vancouver Island

Written by Harold McNeill on October 21st, 2015. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts


students-voting-at-mun

Student voter turnout on Campuses across Canada reached record numbers.

Congratulations Vancouver Islanders

We have once again set more voting records on the Islands, but it seems that somehow the Green Tinge wafting from Salt Spring and Saanich somehow turned a psychedelic orange as it covered the rest of the Islands and while it wasn’t red, it still exuded a glow much warmer than steel blue.

Voter turnout. In a word, awesome! Thanks to those thousands of young people who picked up the torch and marched to the polling stations across the Island.  We may be tagged as the newly weds and nearly dead’s here on the Islands, but when it comes to voting we managed to tuck away our stash or grabbed our walkers and headed to the polls by the thousands. When you live on the these laid back Islands, an extra hour or two in a line-up just wafts by with barely a notice.

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Comments

  • 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.

  • Harold McNeill

    March 15, 2019 |

    So glad you found the story and enjoyed. Indeed, they were memorable times. I did a fair amount of searching but never managed to contact any of the Murffit kids. However, it was neat to make contact with the Colony and someone I knew from back in the day. I have enjoyed writing these stories from back in the 1940s and 50s and have made contact with a lot of friends from those early years. I will give you a call over the weekend. Cheers, Harold

  • Yvonne (Couture) Richardson

    March 7, 2019 |

    I enjoyed your story. I too, lived in Pibroch in 1951, as my parents owned the hotel there. I was a very close friend of Bonnie Murfitt at the time. I moved to Edmonton in 1952, however, and have not seen her since. I would like to be in touch with you to talk about your story. My email is listed above and my phone number is 780-475-3873.

  • Laureen Kosch/Patry

    March 5, 2019 |

    I grew up in Pibroch and would not trade those years for anything. “ Kids don’t know how to play anymore” Never was a truer statement made. During the summer we were out the door by 8am, home for lunch, and back when it got dark. For the most part our only toys were our bikes and maybe a baseball mitt. I will never forget the times when all the kids got together in “Finks field” for a game of scrub baseball. Everybody was welcome, kids from 8 to 18. I didn’t know it then but I guess I had a childhood most dream of. Drove thru town last summer. It all looked a lot smaller.

  • Harold McNeill

    January 13, 2019 |

    Well, my dear, it’s that time again. How the years fly by and the little ones grow but try as you may you will have a hard time catching up to your Daddy. Lots of love young lady and may your day be special
    Love, Dad

  • Harold McNeill

    January 5, 2019 |

    Guess what? My response went to the Spam folder. Hmm, do you suppose the system is trying to tell me something?

  • Harold McNeill

    January 5, 2019 |

    Thanks, Terrance. Your comment came through but went to the Spam folder. Have pulled it out and approved. Can you send another on this post to see if you name is now removed from Spam? I’m not sure why it does that. Cheers, Harold