An African Adventure

Written by Harold McNeill on July 10th, 2017. Posted in Travelogue, Adventure


Nat-Geo-Journeys-Header-Botswana-Makora-640x224

An African Adventure/G Tours

NOTE:  Six albums of the tour photos of this adventure is now posted
on the McNeill Life Stories FB Page. One is yet to be posted.  A full post story will be added to this blog in January 2018.

Link Here to Photo Albums from Cape Town to Kruger, Karongwe
and Victoria Falls. One album yet to be posted.
Link: An African Adventure

Victoria, B.C.

One afternoon in late June, my cell phone rang.

“Hello.”

Hi, Harold, Garth here.” (Nonchalantly): “Hey buddy, you interested in an African adventure?”

(…thinking…sure Garth, what’s the catch? I thought we were all going Russia, right? St. Petersburg, remember?)

Garth (excited): “Guess what? I just won an all-expense paid trip for two compliments of the BC Lottery Corporation.

(…Wow…are you asking me if I want to go with you? Awesome, but what about Esther and Lynn? Don’t you think they might be a little upset? No kidding, you won again, you lucky bugger.)

Garth just wins these sorts of things. Not that long ago we were at a Rotary fundraiser in Sidney when Garth won an all-expense paid trip for two to Ireland. Am I surprised? Not one bit. Jealous? Perhaps a little, but hey, it’s inspiring, and it keeps these old bones moving.

Besides, Lynn and I were also winners that night in Sidney, as just when they were drawing Garth’s ticket for the Ireland trip, I received a cell call from the Victoria Humane Society telling me Lynn and I were approved to take that little Shih Tzu puppy we had our hearts set on.  It was Garth who tipped us off about that puppy.

He interrupted my thoughts: “Think you and Lynn can join us?

(…awe, not just me then… silly question. After so many shared adventures and so much fun traveling with the two of you, we couldn’t let you head out to deep dark Africa without us.  Remember we did the Middle East in the middle of a war.  So here we go again as this is obviously a Dunn Deal.

Harold: “For sure Garth, let’s look at the numbers. Have you told Esther?”

Garth:  “Not yet.

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Are insurance rates soaring across BC?

Written by Harold McNeill on January 29th, 2018. Posted in Editorials, Tim Hortons Morning Posts


Car Crash

Scenes like this are all too common in BC and take a tragic toll in lives lost and families destroyed. The cost is high and we all pay but are Insurance Rates out of control in B.C.? Check out this article, as you may be surprised to see where British Columbia sits in relation to other Provinces.

This article is brought forward following an article in the Saanich News stating ICBC rates for some classes of vehicles are grossly inflated as compared to Alberta. Also included are recent updates.

Updated:  February 10, 2020

Further to the update below (February 1, 2020), I note that since the government announced a “No-Fault” insurance plan for BC, Robert Mulligan is taking a slightly different tack, suggesting that no-fault will only increase the problems by taking away the right of an injured party to sue.

I’ve copied just one sentence from Mulligan’s longer discussion, “And I think people don’t like the idea that somebody who’s, for example, was drunk and ran into you and you become a quadriplegic is going to be treated exactly the same way you would in terms of getting benefits (go to minute 00:15:26 to see his full comment)

Statements like this appear to be simple fear-mongering. As was the case in the past, people who commit criminal offences, as well as other forms of negligence while driving, may well lose their insurance coverage and in all likelihood would be sued by ICBC to recover costs of the claim.   (Link here to Mulligan’s full conversation on CFAX radio)

Updated:  February 7, 2020

It is reported ICBC is heading for a 20% rate reduction and largely cutting out lawyers in a change to No-Fault insurance.  This will be the largest change to ICBC in several years and will hopefully place the Crown Corporation back on an even keel.

It will be interesting to see how trial-lawyers who earn a large part of their income from ICBC, and the Conservative (aka Liberals) opposition in the Legislature, respond to these changes.

That being said, a February 1, 2020 article by Robert Mulligan, an experienced trial-lawyer, suggested implementing several of the changes currently being proposed by the government.

This will be explored more fully over the next few days.

Read more at CBC Major Overhall of ICBC

Also, a Times Colonist report:   Major overhaul at ICBC would limit the ability to sue, cut rates by 20%

Update: February 1, 2020

For an interesting update of the challenges facing ICBC, read a CFAX interview with Robert A. Mulligan titled, “Extinguishing the ICBC Dumpster Fire“.   You should disregard the title of the article as it was prepared by a media outlet and does not reflect the considered opinion of a respected, practicing lawyer here in Victoria.

Update: August 20, 2019.

A further article debunks the statement that ICBC rates are soaring and that they are among the highest in Canada:  BC News Outlets Exaggerated the Costs of ICBC Insurance

Update: August 13, 2019.

A Global News broadcast this afternoon quoted heavily from an article prepared by the Insurance Bureau of Canada, an Ontario based private enterprise organization that promotes private insurance, which states BC has the highest auto insurance rates in Canada and that rates could be lowered through ‘competition’.  There was also an article in the Saanich News which similarily quoted the IBC information and also indicated ICBC is facing a huge deficit. The article made no mention of the considerable sums of money the government has removed from Crown Corporations such as ICBC and BC Hydro.

I just re-read the article the original article (below) and was again astounded at how high Ontario is compared to the rest of Canada. While that province has a population density far greater than BC, it is also a province in which auto insurance is managed entirely by the private enterprise system.
 
No wonder the Insurance Bureau of Canada, has made such a finding, as one might suspect they are acting on behalf of the private insurers in Ontario, Alberta, and other areas, and might prefer to destroy the public-private system as it tends to expose the excesses of system base solely on private enterprise.
If we had the proper means of checks and balances in our system, the Ontario and Alberta private system might now be under investigation for fraud. I think it unconscionable to first make insurance mandatory and then to then allow private-enterprise to charge exorbitant rates, particularly as they do in Ontario.

I have reached out to friends in the Auto Insurance industry to have them fact check the calculations I quote in order to ensure they have legitimacy.  (Updated August 14, 2019 – hit the continue reading below for the original article and other updates)

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Church and State

Written by Harold McNeill on January 22nd, 2018. Posted in Editorials, Tim Hortons Morning Posts


church-and-stateChurch and State Street: The Canadian Experience

Canada has made considerable progress over the past 150 years (mainly within the past 100 years) in advancing individual rights, particularly those of women, children, visible minorities and in areas involving lifestyle.
Yet, in every community across the country, there exists a safe haven for discriminatory practices not allowed in any other part of our society. In addition, the freedom to practice that discrimination is protected under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

It is an unusual situation in which a more accepting set of human values is applied to those considered non-religious than is applied to Christians, Muslims, Jews and other faith-based organizations.

Link Here for a 2014 historical perspective on Church and State

A Continuing Conflict Zone In Canada

As Canada continues along the path of finding a balance between Church and State, we clearly have much rocky terrain yet to negotiate.  There is little doubt an open debate would be useful, but if the current flashback and heated rhetoric over the wording of a government funding application is an example, the time has not yet arrived. It is unlikely any current government, Liberal, Conservative or NDP would dare open the discussion as an election issue.

Hence, it will be left to the occasional bold government action and the courts to draw the line as did Trudeau in 1969 when the Liberals removed abortion from the Criminal Code, then again in 1982 when the same government brought home the Constitution and developed the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Since that time a series of court, parliamentary and legislative decisions, at the provincial and federal level, have helped to push forward individual rights, particularly those affecting women, children, visible minorities and the LGBTQ community. While women have made considerable gains, many barriers still stand in their path as they march towards equality with men. (For an earlier article on the subject link to Women’s Suffrage.)

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R. vs. Stanley: Saskatchewan Court of Queens Bench

Written by Harold McNeill on February 18th, 2018. Posted in Editorials, Tim Hortons Morning Posts


Chief Justice

Martel D. Popsecul, Chief Justice
Presiding over the R. vs. Stanley Trial 

The following Charge to the Jury by Chief Justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench for Saskatchewan, the Honourable Martel D. Popescul, is likely the most reliable document yet published providing insight into the R. vs Stanley trial.

(This post outlines my analysis of why I think the Chief Justice led the Jury directly to a finding of not guilty. It was not a directed verdict in the usual sense, but his words had the same effect.)

And, in those words, all 11,000 of them, the Chief Justice attempts to summarize every aspect of the trial as well as the law governing the charges.  It took the Chief Justice just over one and one-half hours to read his document in court with copies then supplied to the Crown and defence as well as to each juror.

In the copy below, those parts which, in my mind, inexorably led the jury to conclude that Gerald Stanley was not guilty on all counts, are highlighted.  There is little doubt the majority of jurors would have found some parts of the summary so complicated as to render them nearly useless in their deliberations.

Having spent thirty years in law enforcement and a further twenty-five reading and writing about various law enforcement issues, I have some degree of understanding of these complex issues, but even at that, I found some sections of the summary tough slogging.

The jury, on the other hand, deliberated a mere fifteen hours before reaching a ‘not guilty’ verdict on all counts.  Fifteen hours is scant time to consider the various pieces of physical and verbal evidence presented over the two-week trial let alone give full consideration to the details provided in the Judge’s Charge to the Jury.

The jury was made up of random citizens selected from the community and while the process was random, many who have experience with law enforcement (police members active and retired, lawyers and judges, as well as a myriad of others involved with the criminal justice system) would have been removed from the jury pool. This is routinely done to remove any suggestion of bias.  Additionally, “pre-emptive” removals can be used to remove others that either the Crown or Defence think may not be impartial. It was by that process Defence Counsel removed all aboriginals from the jury.

As for the those selected, most are unlikely to have had any experience with jury duty and, before selection, will have been exposed to considerable information about the killing which led to the charge. Given the role played by ‘confirmational bias’ in the lead-up to and during the trial, the Judge’s charge seems the best source for an unbiased view of the case. Or was it?

While the Judge read his comments to the jury before handing them a copy, it is hard to rationalize how, in 15 hours of deliberation, the jury could absorb the complicated issues to a degree that would allow them to render an informed decision.  Because jury deliberations are secret, we shall never know exactly how they reached that verdict in such short order.

If you have the time and inclination to read the Judge’s words to the jury, you may or may not come to the same conclusion I have about a clear path being set out for them to render a ‘not-guilty’ verdict on all counts.

In the following copy, I have separated the ‘Charge to the Jury’ into several parts for easy reference and have highlighted some comments in bold (those I consider important) and in yellow, as ‘very important’.  In addition, I have made a few short comments on some numbered sections.

Before presenting the complete text of his remarks, I will submit the thread comments the Honourable Justice, made that I think pushed the jury towards a finding of ‘not guilty’ on all counts.  The fact the jury deliberations took less than two days suggests the Jury had likely made up their minds very early in the process.

Harold McNeill (Det. Sgt. Retired)

Note: Here is a short discussion along with related links regarding the rights and responsibilities of private citizens to use firearms as a means of Protecting Life and Property

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The Scratch and Lose Caper

Written by Harold McNeill on March 12th, 2017. Posted in Police Notebook, Tim Hortons Morning Posts


lottery-tickets_0

How to scratch open a jail cell.

At 2:00 am Sunday, or at that time any other day of the week, Greater Victoria was known as the land of “Newlyweds, Nearly Deads.” As traffic thinned during those early morning hours, the hum of the tires on a car traveling at high speed could be heard for miles. On this morning, the hum was that of an early 1960’s Oldsmobile, a machine having witnessed better days, as it sped East along Pandora, then onto Oak Bay Avenue.

The four young men inside were still hooting and hollering after partying late in one of the downtown clubs. They were now heading home to Gordon Head but having missed the Fort Street cut-off that would have taken them to Foul Bay Road then north, continued East along Oak Bay Ave. All had been drinking heavily and had no particular purpose in mind other than getting home to continue the party.IMG_0975

As they approached Foul Bay Road someone hollered: “Hey man, ya gotta turn here!” However, speed and distance would soon become limiting factors given the tank in which they were riding. The driver, his sense dulled by alcohol, braked heavily then cranked the wheel hard left. As momentum and weight took over, the tires broke away in a wide yaw that led first to the sidewalk, then to West wall of Frost’s corner store.

Photo (web) A 1960’s style Oldsmobile, 4-door.

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Expedia CruiseShipCenters, Sidney

Written by Harold McNeill on January 8th, 2018. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts, Travelogue


P1020351

 Annual Awards Night Photos
Expedia CruiseshipCenters, Sidney
Saturday, January 6, 2018

A fun time for everyone at the McTavish Academy when Elaine Kirwin, owner/manager of the Sidney based agency, hosted her Annual Expedia CruiseshipCenters Awards Event. With Bronze, Gold, Silver, Platinum, Ruby and Diamond awards being handed out, there was plenty of buzz about the successes of 2017 and what’s in store for 2018. With two men now counted among the crew of twenty-five, it seems the reverse glass ceiling was finally breached.

Elaine (photo right) has much to be proud of, as over the last two decades she has built a skilledP1020347 team of Travel Professionals, and this has led to the agency receiving several Provincial and National Awards for Service Excellence and Achievement.

The awards include two National Awards, as well as being #1 in Western Canada for Uniworld Boutique River Cruises; and in the Top 3 in Western Canada, for the past five years, with Premier Ocean Cruises – Holland America and Celebrity;  and Scenic River Cruises. For a small agency, these are noteworthy achievements.

P1020364As part of the festivities, John Lovel (left), a representative with Emerald Cruise Lines, and Elaine handed out several gifts during the fun and games held after dinner. The competition for prizes was stiff with ties broken during the no holds barred, “rock, paper, scissors” playoffs.

Many thanks to Elaine, her daughter Katie and the catering team from the Airport Spitfire Grill for tasty appetizers, meal, fine wines, and cold beer.

A photo album of the evening’s events is linked here: Awards Night

Cheers,

Harold

Notes:   I didn’t manage to get a photo of everyone with their award. If you have a photo(s) you like me to add, please send by email to: lowerislandsoccer@shaw.ca or pass along to Lynn.  H.

You may link into other travel background stories posted by Harold and Lynn on our McNeill Life Stories Facebook Page.   The photo albums will usually provide a link to the background story.   H.

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Climate Change: Ground Zero

Written by Harold McNeill on January 19th, 2018. Posted in Travelogue, Adventure


Cape Drougt 1
Climate Change, Ground Zero: April 21, 2018
The day the taps will be turned off in Cape Town, South Africa.
(Photo album of Cape Town)
(Jan 28, 131)

As we arrive in Cape Town, South Africa, a Metropolitan area of 3.7 million, a large sign at our airport advised the city was experiencing a severe drought and while the sign urged us to Cape Town Signconserve, the welcoming nature of the sign did not impart the notion of just how critical the situation had become.

Photo: This was the sign. Perhaps a photo of the Cape Reservoir (above), along with a hard message might have had more impact of just how critical things are now, not years from now.

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Index to Biographies

Written by Harold McNeill on December 24th, 2017. Posted in Index to Posts


This index will be completed in January 2018.  Here are the first five which includes a short history for Laura Isabel Skarsen (McNeill)(Wheeler).

Link to Part 1 A New Beginning 
Link to part 2
 The Early Years
Link to Part 3 The Young Woman
Link to Part 4 A New Beginning
Link to Part 5 The Final Chapter

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Comments

  • Harold McNeill

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Rick,
    Great to hear from you and trust all is going well. Our family members are all doing well but it must be pretty tough for a lot of people. I had once heard you were going to do some writing but never heard anything further. I would be most interested, but do you think the OB News have archives back to that time. Any link or information you could provide would be greatly appreciated. Did you keep copies? Regards, Harold

  • Rick Gonder

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Harold
    About 22 years ago I spent several weeks going through the OBPD archives. I wrote several stories that were published in the OB News. Feel free to use if they are of value to what you are doing.
    Keep this up, I’m enjoying it and it brings back memories.

  • Harold McNeill

    April 12, 2020 |

    Hi Susan,

    Glad you had a chance to read. I decided to update these stories by proofreading as there were several grammatical errors in many. Hopefully, many of those glaring errors have been removed.

    Many of the stories carry a considerable amount of social comment regarding the way the criminal justice system is selectively applied. Next up involves a young woman from near Cold Lake, Alberta, who was abducted by an older male from Edmonton. Her story is the story of hundreds of young men and woman who have found themselves alone and without help when being prayed upon unscrupulous predators.

    Cheers, Harold

  • Susan

    April 8, 2020 |

    Great read, Harold!…and really not surprising, sad as that may sound.
    Keep the stories coming, it is fascinating to hear them.
    Love from us out here in the “sticks”, and stay safe from this unknown predator called Covid.

  • Harold McNeill

    February 17, 2020 |

    Update:  Times Colonist, February 16, 2020, articles by Louise Dickson, She got her gun back, then she killed herself,” and,  Mounties decision to return gun to PTSD victim haunts her brother. 

    Summary: I don’t know how many read the above articles, but they contained the tragic details about young woman, Krista Carle’, who took her own life after suffering for years with PTSD. While tragedies such as this play out across Canada every week, the reason this story resonates so profoundly is that the final, tragic, conclusion took place here in Victoria. Continued in the article.

  • McNeill Life Stories Index to Police Notebook - McNeill Life Stories

    February 16, 2020 |

    […] Part I, Police solidarity and the push for amalgamation. Part II, Comparing police cultures and implementing change Part III, The past as a guide to the future Part IV The integration of police services […]

  • Harold McNeill

    February 15, 2020 |

    Testing the comments section after changes made. Updated: February 10, 2020

    Further to the update below (February 1, 2020), I note that since the government announced a “No-Fault” insurance plan for BC, Robert Mulligan is taking a slightly different tack, suggesting that no-fault will only increase the problems by taking away the right of an injured party to sue.

    I’ve copied just one sentence from Mulligan’s longer discussion, “And I think people don’t like the idea that somebody who’s, for example, was drunk and ran into you and you become a quadriplegic is going to be treated exactly the same way you would in terms of getting benefits (go to minute 00:15:26 to see his full comment)

    Statements like this appear to be simple fear-mongering. As was the case in the past, people who commit criminal offences, as well as other forms of negligence while driving, may well lose their insurance coverage and in all likelihood would be sued by ICBC to recover costs of the claim. (Link here to Mulligan’s full conversation on CFAX radio)

  • McNeill Life Stories Index to Police Notebook - McNeill Life Stories

    January 5, 2020 |

    […] 28. The past as a guide to the future (Part III): Over the past 60 years, many activities the police once performed as a natural part of their daily duty, eventually became incompatible with achieving their basic goals. What happened? (August 2019) […]

  • 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) […]