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October, 2006

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McKenty: he’s edgy, he’s provocative & he’s ours!
Pitstop
Neil McKenty
The Senior Times’ publisher Barbara Moser suggested I might look over the history of “Pit Stop” for this 20th anniversary issue, so I dug up my old columns and checked them out.

To my astonishment I discovered I have been writing “Pit Stop” for more than eight years. Time goes fast when you’re having fun.
My very first column, in May, 1998, paid a tribute to Quebec’s teachers, one of my favourite groups of people, generally over-worked and under-paid. In my book, teachers come in right behind nurses who, sadly, are drifting more and more to the private sector.
One of my first columns stated the private sector should pay to keep the Expos in Montreal. No one from the private sector stepped up to the plate and the team is long gone. More astonishing than their leaving is the fact nobody seems to miss them.
Early in 2000 I wrote that separatists didn’t want a clear question on separation. They still don’t. But that was before Jean Chrétien nailed down the Clarity Act. If the PQ win the next election (by no means certain) and if they call a referendum early in their first term (more likely), their chances of winning on an unambiguous question about separation are nil.
My column following Al Gore’s defeat in a legally-rigged election was entitled “Beating around the bush with George Jr.” My first impression of the current Bush was that he is an airhead and a playboy. Nothing he’s done in the past six years has caused me to change my mind. Certainly, I believe Bush is the worst president in my lifetime, which goes back to Herbert Hoover.
In February 2003, I wrote that the impending war in Iraq threatens our world order. Now, six years later, 16 American intelligence agencies have unanimously concluded that Bush’s reckless adventure in Iraq has multiplied terrorists and made our world less safe. It seems to me now that what has happened in Iraq is also happening in Afghanistan. I believe we urgently need a serious debate about what precisely is our mission in that country.
I also wrote several columns on religion, especially the implications for my own tradition, Roman Catholic. I suggested that sexually-arrested priests should be arrested. And I reviewed a remarkable book showing how much anti-Semitism is linked to Christianity and how the Vatican is complicit in the spread of HIV/AIDS.
I also covered a number of moral and ethical issues: homosexuality, health care, euthanasia, creationism and the role of religion in public policy.
Of course I didn’t bring out the heavy artillery for every column. There were lighter musings on golf, books and films like Brokeback Mountain and The Da Vinci Code.
What I have tried to convey here is not only the content of the columns, but the fun I had doing them. The deadline was more like a lifeline.
I am proud to have been associated with Barbara Moser and her strong and enthusiastic team for the last eight years. I have also enjoyed meeting readers and getting your feedback.
By the way, I have just set up my own blog, “Neil McKenty Weblog,” at neilmckenty.wordpress.com. Check it out and leave a suggestion or a comment.
Meantime, on this special anniversary of The Senior Times, I’ll drink one toast to the last 20 years and another to the next 20.

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