Saturday, December 27, 2008

Admiral Landymore

As captain of HMCS Iroquois, he knew every sailor by name

December 27, 2008
Christopher Pratt, captain (RCN) retired, writes about Admiral Bill Landymore, whose obituary appeared Dec. 15.

Not one person who knew him would be able to write a full memoir of Bill Landymore's long and eventful life. Although short in stature (as many admirals seem to have been), he was oversized in every other dimension, from the depth of his parade ground voice to the breadth of his generous heart. His classmates at RMC nicknamed him "shadow," but he was no shadow in real life, in which he was always the embodiment of all three elements of the RMC motto: "Truth, Duty, Valour."

Above all, he lived in the knowledge that morale is the key to success. No "popularity Jack," he was instead imbued with the "Nelson touch," that ability to motivate and bring out the very best in his men. He worked in subtle ways to make the rigours of life at sea more tolerable. While in command of HMCS Iroquois in Korean waters, he could address every sailor on board by name and knew their family circumstances.

Small wonder that his sudden forced retirement came as a shock to the fleet. After defence minister Paul Hellyer told him to retire, he considered taking drastic action. On the flight back to Halifax, he told me that he had thought of asking for a court martial, which would have brought the whole conflict into the open. He was prevented by the thought that might result in destroying the very thing he was trying to preserve - the identity of the navy during the process of unification.

Nobody who was there will forget the scene in the Halifax dockyard on the day of his departure. Had he so much as lifted a finger, the sailors would have walked ashore in protest. Instead, in his farewell message (I still have his handwritten draft), he told the sailors to stand fast and do their best to keep the naval spirit alive. The sendoff was tumultuous. Flags flew from every yardarm, sailors cheered and the band played. It was a day in history.

Lacking self importance, he laid aside his rank after his retirement and asked to be called Bill. And behind his bluff exterior lay a mind that was always ready to have some fun. One time, he startled a meeting of the staid Naval Officers Association in Toronto by arriving in a Beatles wig.
He spent his retirement on his farm overlooking the sea, and gave himself to raising funds for charities and serving on a hospital board. And even when he himself became a hospital patient, with his hearing gone and his memory sometimes failing, his courtesy never failed. Not long ago, a friend of mine who is a retired chief petty officer stopped by to pay a visit. The admiral looked at him and announced, "McBride ... radar plotter ... Iroquois."

Fraser McKee of Toronto also writes about Bill Landymore.
About three years after his spectacular firing by Paul Hellyer, I was serving as the local president of the Naval Officers Association and decided to call Adm. Landymore to see if he would be a speaker at a forthcoming dinner and review his feelings after events.
I spoke to Mrs. Landymore in Nova Scotia who said he wasn't available just then. When pressed, she advised that he was at Grace Hospital in Halifax. When I expressed concern, she laughed and said he was working in the laundry. It seems the hospital services staff were on strike, and the board members, including the admiral, were voluntarily filling in.

When I did reach him a few days later, he said he no longer discussed unification publicly. "That would simply cause problems for the current maritime commander," he told me. "I've made my point, and the commander's job is difficult enough without me adding fuel to the fire."

Not only was Bill Landymore a dedicated naval commander, but he was prepared to step in and help at any level and yet not contribute to the difficulties of others.

from The Globe and Mail, December 27 2008.


I well remember my father speaking of Bill Landymore. Landymore was at RMC at the same time that my father was. In fact, Landymore might have been my father's "recruit." In those days, the senior cadets took recruits under their wing for a year, to help them acclimatize to RMC, and to offer guidance. Perhaps they still do that.

Landymore had a reputation, not of being "bad" but of being one who undertook/led schinnagans! He also was well-regarded by the class that my father was in.

The remembrances in The Globe are interesting. Pratt's comment that Landymore knew that "morale is the key to success" is a useful thought that today's Canadian leaders might keep in mind.

Friday, December 26, 2008


Christmas is a special time, a religious holiday.

Pope Benedict's comments in his Christmas message are appalling. To liken homosexuality to global warming is probably the most amazing, and ridiculous comparison made in all 2008.

If he thinks there is sin in the first, perhaps he might comment upon sin in the latter. The idea that companies deposit very harmful emissions into the environment, and do this thoughtlesssly, is sinful. And do it all with little regard for others.

A person's orientation is private. Contributing to global warming is public. One has no impact upon others, while the other impacts others for generations.

One is a force for good, while the other is a force for bad.

Just think about it.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

It's a Matter of Principle

OGL (Our Glorious Leader, according to John Doyle of The Globe) continues his unprincipled bossing around of Canadians.

This man said he would not appoint Senators; they had to be elected.

Yesterday, he appointed 18 new Senators, including two people who consider themselves (and are considered by others) to be journalists. It's no surprise that Wallin and Duffy are closet Conservatives, but it's pretty blatent not only to appoint them, but for them to accept appointment. Their status has plummeted in the eyes of Canadians.

One wonders what other countries think of Canada, if they think of the country at all.

There are few mentions of Canada on CBC Overnight, a fine program that brings news, commentary and info from other public broadcasters to Canadians on a daily basis. OGL would be well-advised to listen to the radio overnight for even one night, to hear what other countries, like Germany, Australia, Great Britain, are doing and thinking.

Canada is small potatoes in their eyes. And no wonder, since the current PM is an unprincipled bully.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Barack Obama's Inauguration

It is disappointing to read that Obama has chosen Rick Warren for an invocation at his inauguration. In fact, it is very upsetting.

Warren is anti-abortion and anti-gays/lesbians, and he makes no secret of his opinions.

Perhaps we expect too much of Obama, but surely in this day and age, he could select someone who supported the right of women and men to have an abortion, should it be their choice, and marry someone of the same sex.

If he is courting a particular sector of the American people for political reasons, it is disappointing. He HAS been elected President. He doesn't have to cater to any constituency.

One wonders if he is going to change his stance on issues, like the Canadian PM did after HE got elected (with a minority). Let's hope not.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

No More Senate Appointments

That WAS the position of Stephen Harper before he got power. Talk.
How power changes one's actions.

In the Globe and Mail this morning, two university professors (in a letter to the editor) suggested that IF Mr Harper is going to fill the 18 seats (and they do not say that he should), the seats should be filled with 18 women.

Now, there's a great idea! The percentage of women in the Senate would still be less than 50, but it would be a great improvement.

No one should doubt that Mr Harper could find 18 Alliance/Conservatives to appoint.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Stephen Harper's Place in History

I'd love to be here in 30 years to read what historians have to say about Stephen Harper's place in Canadian history. He will probably go down as even less popular and more disliked than Brian Mulroney.

The interesting questions are these: why is he so Machavillian? what does he think he is accomplishing? why does he have so little regard for this once-great nation? why does he need such control and apparent power?

We will recover from whatever he does that is hurtful to Canada, but it will retard our growth, our standing in the world, and our ability to help less fortunate countries.

That's a pretty sad part of his legacy.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


This morning on CBC Overnight, in the segment from Albania, a man spoke about the work of their government, which is a coalition.

One sentence stood out: "Compromise does not mean persuading the other side to YOUR position."

I wonder if Stephen Harper heard that??!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Afghanistan...3 more Canadians die

News just in the last hour that three Canadian troops died this morning in Afghanistan.

I wonder if Ottawa politicians pause to reflect when they hear this.

Do they think what they have been squabbling over (do we really know?) for the last few days is more important than other issues that Canada is involved in? Like the war? Like our peace missions? Like the thousands who are now out of work, and who, at their age, are unlikely to EVER have another job?


When these politicians get to the Pearly Gates, do they think that they will be asked if they ever were PM or if they ever governed Canada? Not very bloody likely.

Why Is He so bitter and Angry?

I sure hope that some fine grad students are studying the Prime Minister.
It would be interesting to know how he got to be so angry and bitter. Where did this come from in his background?
Does he deal with his family this way? Imagine being one of his children, and doing something that made him mad.
Stephen Harper has not demonstrated the interest or ability to work co-ooperatively with anybody (perhaps not even members of his own party) throughout his political career. I can't see him changing at his age and stage in life. He couldn't even work with Preston Manning.
This isn't a hopeful situation.
Canadians are upset. This is OUR country that the PM and other parties are "playing" with, and we don't like it.
Politicans, take a break. Have some eggnog and don't talk about what you have created until the end of the year. Then, make a New Year's resolution that you will look for common ground, you will respect everyone, you will converse, and you won't raise your voice...anywhere, including in the House.
That's the easy part.
The next steps are to make a public statement to your constituents and the country, that you have made this resolution. AND, that if you break the resolution, you will resign your seat.

The honourable thing is to promise something, and explain the consequences of not fulfilling that promise. THAT is the ethical thing to do.

There has been little discussion about the ethics of the current situation. For the first time , there is a letter to the editor in The Globe in which the writer uses the word "ethics."

Don't the principals in this rhubarb see anything related to ethics in it?

Those of us who are interested in ethical behaviour, and have done a bit of study on it (in my case, in sports), wonder if these politicians consider their behaviour to be "ethical."

I have plenty of time these days to reflect. Yesterday, I wondered about Stephen Harper's ability to reconcile his blatent lying with his religious beliefs. Is there a "guideline" in his religion that says anything about being truthful? Being honest?

One of the fundamentals in the Christian faith is adherence to the Ten Commandments. I truly wonder how the Commandments fit into Mr Harper's philosophical and/or spiritual paradigm. Perhaps they don't, and that is why many of us find his behaviour incomprehensible.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Return of the GG

I hope when Steve pounds on the front door of the GG, she welcomes him with these words: "Welcome, Mr Prime Minister. Please wait in this ante-room until you settle down. I won't talk to you while you are yelling and screaming, and have lost perspective. Press this little button when you are ready. I'll send in something to eat later, and a sleeping bag later tonight."

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

"You Are Playing A Very Dangerous Game"

This, from Stephen Harper, last Friday in the House.

This "game" was started by Harper, and it will be finished when he goes down in Canadian history as the worst, most deceitful PM that the country ever had.

It won't be long before elected Alliance/Conservative MPs start leaking info and expressing their view about their party's leader. It's impossible to believe that all those faces behind the PM on TV agree with him, and support what he has done and is doing. Some of them are going to crack soon, and the sooner the better. Perhaps then, Stephen Harper will resign as their leader, as Canada's PM, and a more moderate, concilliatory leader of the Alliance/Conservative party will emerge. One of the "old" Conservative line and not one of the red-necked Alliance members.

Let's hope.

Monday, December 01, 2008

The PC Party Should Rise Again

Never will I be mistaken for a conservative. Period.

But, the Alliance/Conservative Party of 2008 should give impetus to members of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada to get their "old" party going again, sell memberships, insist that their members tear up their present "Conservative" party cards, and start being vocal.

The PC Party wasn't malicious and autocratic.

The Alliance Party, under the cloak of the Conservative Party, is all this and more.

Let's hope that the backroom "boys" and "girls" are planning a quick resurgence of the old PC Party.

A Positive Front-page Story

On a day when the PM is at his worst (well, let's hope it is his worst), and Canadian politicians are in a feisty mood, the Whig Standard runs a positive, hopeful story above the fold on the front page.

Queen Street United Church in Kingston is facing a $1 million repair/renovation bill. Realizing that that kind of money isn't within their realm of possibility, they have put their church, their adjacent houses and property on the market, for $1.45 million.

Parishioners are actively exploring, along with St Margaret's Church, the possibility of coming together to form one strong church at the location of St Margaret's on Sir John A Macdonald Blvd.

The Whig's story, written by reporter Jorden Press, is a positive look at their day together yesterday, and the church members most positive steps to build one strong church. The two churches have taken advice from experts, it appears, on how to affect change, what to do to forge one organization from two. There's lots written on this topic, and it seems that it has been heeded.

No doubt is is difficult to lose one's church. It is something that I can't imagine. In Saskatoon where I held a senior position in the Anglican Cathedral, I could not support an idea to sell the Rectory in order to raise money. But now, I can see that it has to be done. But it wouldn't be a decision that I would take lightly.

Members of Queen Street and St Margaret's United Churches deserve any support that we can offer them. Their journey over the next year will be guided by their faith. May it be strong.