Archive for the ‘Memoirs’ Category

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

September 12, 2017

A passage from Neil’s book: Neil McKenty Live!  The Lines Are Still Blazing.

Appendix

Earlier Years

Neil’s first speech given when he was nine years old

WHEN GRANDDAD WAS A BOY

I don’t see why the power has to go off just when we are listening to the last game of the world series.  I was cross and crosser still when Granddad, who was sitting on the porch next to me, began to chuckle.  ”Well, when I was a boy,” he commenced.  All thoughts of baseball and even the most thrilling game of the World Series were forgotten, for I knew that when Granddad began that way I was sure to hear something more interesting.  ”In those days we did not have radios, and not even electricity,” he went on, ”We used candles instead and we had to make them at home.”

”But Grandfather, how do you make candles?  I though you bought them from a store?”

”Well, the tallow was rendered from sheep and beef, poured into metal molds, perhaps a dozen at a time and allowed to harden.  My part of the work began then.  Often when I came home from school, I helped mother undo the knots at the bottom of the molds and pull them out from the top.  There were no flashlights in those days either.  We did the chores by the light of a home-made lantern in which one of those candles was placed.  By the light of those flickering tallow candles we studied our lessons.

We didn’t have the long summer holidays that you have now.  At one time they were only one week, then two weeks, and later they were for three weeks.  I spent mine at home helping with the crops.”

”Bur Grandfather, you work all the time – didn’t you have any fun?”

”Oh yes, but it was different from what you call fun.  We used to sit around the fire in the evenings when someone told stories, most often ghost stories.  There I would sit in the corner, listening and shivering, to creep off to bed as thirsty as I could be, because to run through that awful darkness from the house to the pump was more than I dared.  We all looked forward to getting to the fall fair.  It was one of the most important events of the year, and we certainly wasted no time in seeing that the potatoes were dug by the second week in October to make sure we could go.  We often went to our neighbours  to kelp with the work too, logging, threshing, husking, and woodcutting.  Then there was time for fun when we finished.

In those days we did not use a binder, but cradled the wheat.  Once fall at our farm, five or six men cradled 50 acres.  We had no time to bin the grain, but tied it with a band of the straw.  When the grain was threshed we took it to some of the nearest towns, Peterboro, Colborne and Trenton.  Once I had to take a load of 65 or 70 bushels of grain to market.  There were five or six teams, travelling and going to Brighton.  We got up at two o’clock in the morning because it was a whole day’s journey.  We took along hay to feed the horses as it was such a long trip.  The teams kept coming in from the whole countryside so that by nightfall there were 100 teams in Brighton.  When I went back to look for my team I couldn’t find them, there were so many horses in the barn.  Wen we went to church in those days the whole family went in the wagon for there were no buggies.  The first buggies were used around 1870.  They were rather clumsy, and there weren’t many of them.

”How far did you have to go, and how long did it take, Grandfather?”  I asked.

”It was about two miles and it took a half an hour.”

surely a difference from the few seconds it took me to get to church in my dad’s car, I thought.

”There were no milking machines or separators in those days either,” he went on.  ”We had about 18 or 20 cows at home.  The milk was put in earthen pans and set for the night.  In the morning it was skimmed.  We used dash churns to make the butter and it often took hours before any signs of butter appeared.  Butter was packed in firkins, small wooden tubs made by coopers in the nearby village.

Washing the sheep in the spring was hard work too.  They were sheared and wool rolled in a sheet or blanket, was pinned with thorns and taken to the carding mill in the village.  After that was done the rolls were taken home and the wool was spun into yarn by the women of the household on the spinning wheel.  It was now ready for the weaver, perhaps some local farmer, who had learned the art in the old country.  Then the full cloth and flannels were taken home to be made into clothes.  A tailor would go from house to house, sit on the table , and make the cuts.  Every boy had a new full cloth suit, bound with black braid, to start off to school in the fall.  And a new pair of boots, which were made by hand.  We made our own sleighs too, out of the staves of barrels with pieces of boards to hold them together.  We had just as much fun with them as you do now with a new toboggan.

 To be continued…

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ARE WE LOSING OUR PRIVACY?

August 31, 2017

 

Neil had a knack for asking the questions that need answering. Back in 2009, he wonders in the post below about technology and privacy – with the information-gathering that companies such as Facebook, Google are engaged in – this is more important than ever.

A new study says emerging   technologies are threatening our privacy and anonymity. Now the focus on safety and security trumps the call for privacy.  And many countries, including Canada, are considering introducing  ID cards which will have a chilling effect on privacy..  Also judicial rulings in some jurisdiction have lowered the threshold for police to detain people and make them identify themselves.  Furthermore the use of video surveillance in public places is increasing diminishing the de facto anonymity once enjoyed in those spaces. The study finds that technology such as radio frequency identification chips and software built into everything from the clothes we wear to the furniture on which we sit appear be transforming communications systems from  “architectures of  freedom to architectures of control.’ “The space for private, unidentified activity is rapidly shrinking.’

Are you concerned we are losing our privacy.? Should security considerations always trump privacy considerations?

RADIO WAVES

August 23, 2017

 

Exchange on CJAD with Neil McKenty.

NM001

On today’s program, Mayor Drapeau.  Did Mayor Drapeau mismanaged the Olympics.  Neil talks with Montrealers on the mayor at the time.  Enjoy!

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

August 15, 2017

PitStop by Neil McKenty

It’s time to clear the air on euthanasia and assisted suicide

This fall the Charest government will consult Quebecers on euthanasia. Is it ever necessary? Is it morally wrong? Is it murder? Should it be a crime? Should doctors assist those who want to die?

These are a few of the knotty questions that must be faced in a discussion of euthanasia. Another involves the difference between euthanasia and assisted suicide. If another party performs the last act that intentionally causes a patient’s death, that constitutes euthanasia. For example, giving a patient a lethal injection of morphine or suffocating her with a pillow would be considered euthanasia.

On the other hand, assisted suicide has taken place. So it would be assisted suicide if some one swallows an overdose of drugs that has been provided by another person for the purpose of causing death. When a doctor provides the means to die, that is called doctor-assisted suicide.

There is a debate now raging in England on euthanasia and assisted suicide that is a foretaste of what Quebecers can expect this fall. Two cases illustrate some of the major issues.

The first case involved a mother named Kay Gilderdale. She was charged with the murder of her 31-year-old daughter, Lynne, who suffered from myalgic encephalitis, also known as chronic fatigue syndrome. Lynn was paralyzed from the waist down, bedridden for 17 years, unable to swallow or speak, and communicated with her family through sign language.

Lynn dreaded losing what little dignity remained to her. She was in constant pain. Over the course of a year, she had written a long letter explaining why, and how much, she wanted to die.

The crisis came on a December night. Lynn tried to kill herself with morphine. She begged her mother to help her. Her mother did, then phoned their doctor to tell what she had done. She was charged with murder, but acquitted by a jury that heard of the countless times Lynn had asked her mother for help to die.

The other case ended differently. Frances Inglis administered a lethal dose of heroin to her son, Tom, who was in a persistent vegetative state after falling out of an ambulance. Inglis was found guilty of murder and sentenced to nine years in prison. One material difference in the two cases was that while Lynn had often expressed her wish to die – Tom had never done so.

These cases played out while the End of Life Assistance Bill was being introduced into Scotland’s parliament. The bill was introduced by Margo MacDonald, a highly respected politician who has Parkinson’s disease and has made it clear she does not want her husband prosecuted should she ask him to help her die.

“Dying is part of living,” she says.“It’ s the last act of your life, and if we accept the responsibility of how we live our lives, then I really fail to see where there is any demarcation of how we should die.” Under MacDonald’s bill, assisted suicide would be available to anyone over 16 who is terminally ill or permanently physically incapacitated. It would not be available to those with dementia or other degenerative mental conditions.

The suicide request must be made to a doctor and approved by a psychiatrist. This approval must be requested and accepted a second time after a “cooling off” period of 15 days. The bill also says the assisted suicide must be supervised by the approving doctor and that no one who stands to gain from the death can be involved. Close friends and family are not allowed to administer the lethal drug. MacDonald believes around 50 people a year would choose to die using this legislation.

Scottish Cardinal Keith O’Brien, a close friend of MacDonald, is opposed to her bill.

“How can Margo think like that?” he asked. “I love and respect her so much. Life is a gift from almighty god. If he can give it, he can take that gift from us. But we can’t say: ‘God, I am finished with it. I can’t cope with cancer or Parkinson’s.’”

The church also argues that such a law would threaten the weakest and most vulnerable in society. The British Medical Society opposes the bill on the ground that resources should be concentrated on palliative medicine and alleviating the suffering of the dying. Peter Saunders, a former surgeon and director of Care Not Killing, says the bill is well intentioned but dangerous, raising the possibility that some elderly or terminally ill people see it as a means of pressuring them to have an “assisted death.” A number of Church of Scotland ministers are supporting the bill. Doctors with religious or moral objections would not be obliged to help any patient take his or her own life.

What is going on in Britain and Scotland indicates some of the issues that will rise when the Quebec government consults the population on this subject next fall.

Morality and public health policy are at the heart of the controversy.

We are getting older, living longer and health care at the end of life is taking a disproportionate number of health care dollars. A full-scale public debate on all these issues will help clear the air.

The senior times march 2010

NEIL’S RADIO SHOW

July 26, 2017

Exchange on CJAD with host Neil McKenty.

The Lines Are Still Blazing!

On the program today, Neil chats with Barbara Matuson, author of the book The Evening Stars, and the live callers.

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

July 25, 2017

Pit Stop By Neil McKenty

Time is ripe for a new political party in Quebec

Now that hunting season has begun, it behooves most Quebec politicians to head for the hills.

According to all the surveys, the popularity of the province’s politicians is dropping like a wounded duck. And this applies to both Ottawa and Quebec City.

A Léger poll shows the level of satisfaction with the federal Conservatives has dropped a full seven points. Only one in five Quebecers is happy with the political leadership in Ottawa.

The results were similarly dismal for the provincial Liberals. The level of dissatisfaction with Premier Jean Charest’s government is at a record-breaking 77 per cent, with only 28 per cent saying they would vote Liberal in the next provincial election. Support for the Parti Québécois stood at 34 per cent.

These figures must be seen in the context of a provincial scene where most of the news is negative. Whether it is the dirty linen on judge’s appointments being aired at the Bastarache commission, the ever-rising cost of health care, controversial language legislation or the government’s refusal to investigate the construction industry, there is not much for the ordinary voter to be happy about.

All this means that Charest, who must face an election within three years, is in dire straits politically. But the PQ leader, Pauline Marois, is right in there with him.

Let’s face it. Although Marois has been in public life for three decades, she has never really caught on, either with her own party or with the electorate generally. This could become more evident when she faces a leadership review next spring.

Unlike the Liberals who cherish their leaders so long as they are in power, the separatists seem to view their chieftans with considerable suspicion. As Don Macpherson writes in the Gazette: “Liberals are disciplined and remain loyal to a leader, especially when they are in power, until he loses an election. Péquistes, on the other hand, are impatient, nervous and suspicious of any leader not named Jacques Parizeau. Since they last held power in 2003, they’ve already had three leaders.”

What’s more, unlike the Charest Liberals, the PQ has a potential leader prowling around the precincts. That would be Gilles Duceppe, who is getting long in the tooth in federal politics. Duceppe threatened to run against Marois once before. This time, if she really stumbles, he might go through with it.

So what we have now in the province is a Liberal government that is dead in the water and a PQ opposition that is not exactly setting the heather afire. What better time to fly a trial balloon about a new party?

A group of former politicians (Péquistes François Legault and Joseph Facal) and business people think the time is ripe for a new party that would regroup federalists and sovereigntists around a centre-right agenda and leaving the “national question” aside.

A new poll shows that such a new party would win 30 per cent of the votes in a Quebec election, with the PQ at 27 per cent and the Liberals at 25 per cent. If nothing else, these results suggest there is a deep desire in the population to break through the federalist-separatist division to some third force that would concentrate on the economic and social well-being of Quebec.

Such a party would emphasize fiscal restraint and smaller government. But would the Quebec voter buy into such a program? Ironically, this is what Charest wanted to implement when he first took office eight years ago. Charest, a small-c conservative, hoped to cut back on Quebec’s bloated bureaucracy, reduce some services and cut taxes.

But Charest discovered to his chagrin that he could carry neither his cabinet nor his caucus on a program of serious fiscal restraint. The government was even afraid to raise the rates for electricity, something practically all economists urged them to do. Recently all it took was the prospect of a coming by-election for Finance Minister Raymond Bachand to shelve plans to impose user fees for medical visits.

So attractive as a new party might be, especially one that jettisoned the sovereignty question, it is not at all clear that it would be able to sell a policy of fiscal restraint, the very policy that Charest could not sell when he first came into office.

Furthermore, as Lysiane Gagnon has pointed out, the new Legault party looks much like the old Mario Dumont party. The Action démocratique du Quebec was also based on a centre-right agenda and a moderate nationalist approach (for most of its life it did not even take sides in the sovereignty debates). One difference is that Legault’s movement was born in Montreal and might eventually attract more high-profile personalties than the ADQ, whose scope was limited to eastern Quebec.

What this new party does right out of the gate is underline popular dissatisfaction with the two old parties. Another election is not required until 2013. That leaves plenty of time for the Liberals to replace Charest and for the PQ to do a makeover on Marois (or replace her with Duceppe.)

In the meantime, a group that has no leader and no name is more popular than the two other parties who have both. No wonder the politicians are heading for the hills.

Published on Nov.2010

The Senior Times

BLAST FROM THE PAST

July 17, 2017

McKenty Live.

On today’s program, Neil talks about train transportation with Transport 2000 director Guy Chartrand. And the live callers.

NEIL’S RADIO SHOW

July 12, 2017

Exchange on CJAD with host Neil McKenty.

Dirty Quebec politics is the subject on today’s program. With the live callers.

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

July 11, 2017

 

 

Tis The Last Rose Of Summer

 

‘Tis the last rose of summer,

Left blooming alone;

All her lovely companions

Are faded and gone;

No flower of her kindred,

No rose-bud is nigh,

To reflect back her blushes,

Or give sigh for sigh.

 

I’ll not leave thee, thou lone one!

To pine on the stem;

Since the lovely are sleeping,

Go sleep thou with them.

Thus kindly I scatter

Thy leaves o’er the bed,

Why thy mates of the garden

Lie scentless and dead.

 

So soon may I follow,

When friendships decay,

And from love’s shining circle

The gems drop away.

When true heart lie wither’d,

And fond ones are flown,

Oh! who would inhabit

This bleak world alone?

 

 

By Thomas Moore.

NEIL’S RADIO SHOW

July 10, 2017

 

Exchange on CJAD with host Neil McKenty.

The Lines Are Blazing!

On this one, its mostly miscellaneous interviews on different subjects and something special at the end.