Yesterday I saw a schizophrenic man shot by a police issued firearm. I was in the same room…


Yesterday I saw a schizophrenic man shot by a police issued firearm.  I was in the same room standing in the dining area. It was a one room apartment with two smaller rooms to the side. I wasn’t sure what was going on. As far as I could tell the man was talking to himself with the door slightly ajar. I could see him moving about and I heard words clearly but not completely or with the advantage of knowing their concept.

The man’s mother was at the door speaking to the police. The man opened the door to his bedroom and asked his mom about lunch. He said something about being hungry and asked for the time of day then went back into his room. My next memory is of him standing in his bedroom doorway and his mom telling him they had visitors as the officers stepped into the room.

I noticed his mother walk to the side of the upholstered chair. The next thing I saw was the man pulling a knife into the air and with arm raised he came at his mother. His last words were something about wanting to eat. I heard the shot echo quickly into the room. I felt bad for the man’s mom. She only wanted to help her son. She was the one who called the police.

What would you do? I’m not sure what I would have done differently. I am told most police in England do not carry guns. How would it have turned out if there was no gun at the scene? Maybe it wouldn’t have been a lethal encounter. Maybe stitches would have been the worst of it. Maybe only the man with the knife survives and knocks on your front door.

I am still in shock but I thought things in the apartment would have ended differently the way the same officers handled someone similar who was beating a rather nice full size black SUV. The officers were able to talk to that man. They were able to determine from him that his delusion was with a vehicle and not a human. After some cautious and courteous interaction on the part of the police the man was safely convinced to put the aluminum bat down.

I too co-operated with the officers when I was directed to leave the parking area. The aluminum bat landed on the SUV during some of this interaction but the officers were trained in the safety of space and appropriate action in the event its dimensions shift toward danger. It seemed a little fun seeing a guy beating a vehicle with a baseball bat but when the officers arrived at the scene I saw it as a different scenario.

Police are called to protect those directly involved in the interaction, the public and themselves. In this circumstance we could add the protection of property. I don’t know about most people but when the poop hits the fan I have a hard enough time figuring out what is appropriate for the preservation of self. When an officer reacts in circumstances we can view in reverse and memorize we need to keep in mind that we are sitting in a chair without the officer’s training, adrenaline level, or the information they may have to react to in seconds.

It is a thin blue line that volunteers to walk into any situation and possibly defend against danger. We watch the video of some questionable interaction but what may be obvious to us may be otherwise in real life. Watching it on a screen we are also void of a need to protect the lives of those involved, bystanders, fellow officers or self in a fluid situation. I’m not saying every death is without liability all I’m saying is to give pause to possibilities most of us can be thankful to avoid.

I thought about what I saw the whole way home from the Ontario Provincial Police General Headquarters in Orillia, Ontario. The OPP used to handcuff me and put me in the backseat of their cars but now I get a comfortable chair and a sandwich better than I can make. I’m locked in hallways within a locked building but it seems like progress.  I am a member of the Ontario Provincial Police Community Mental Health Advisory Committee.

The gentleman I saw get shot was an Ontario Provincial Police instructor. He seemed fine afterwards and I shook his hand. He could act half as crazy as I am. The two uniformed officers in the scenarios were female officers. If you encounter a female officer outside of a scenario please know they are every bit of police that make up the rest.

I have met more police officers than most people. Even when the circumstances were unpleasant there was not one among them that I imagined coming to work hoping to shoot a person. When officers have the luxury they too hope every situation ends safely.

If you want to judge police I suggest you take a look at the Ontario Provincial Police Mental Health Strategy. This organization has our backs and they are proactively and progressively improving mental health outcomes for all.




Someone needs to remind Toronto Mayor John Tory that municipal politicians are elected on a non-partisan basis.


It sounds like the Wild West to the east of me. According to Toronto Mayor John Tory the reefer is becoming rampant. It sounds like people are putting up lemonade stands next to schools and dealing in marijuana. Conservatives would have us believe kids will be accessing marijuana with some increase in ease from today’s unregulated standards. Their ideal is having drug dealers decide who buys and throw in a bunch of expensive law enforcement. As far as controls and safety measures I envision something similar to how alcohol and tobacco are regulated.

Mayor John Tory seems to believe marijuana should be kept from near schools and community centres. For decades past, marijuana has been anywhere it pleases. It has existed hidden in plain neighbourhoods. It has gone from pocket to pocket almost everywhere. Why do we need to fear it now that it is open and nearing more?

Where I live there is a large industrial brewery with a beer retail store attached that is on the opposite corner of a Boys and Girls Club. When I grew up the community centre served alcohol most weekends for weddings and such. I can walk past a playground with a case of beer but for some reason dangerous people use marijuana. Why exactly does Mayor John Tory think that individuals who are or soon will be part of new or existing laws and their anchor in freedoms and rights need to be kept away from schools and community centres? There used to be a variety store in my neighbourhood that was directly across the street from a public elementary school. I used to buy my cigarettes there. Imagine the calamity if I was buying a package of marijuana cookies. Boo! Are you shaking with irrational fear?

Mayor John Tory writes “the city has a responsibility to ensure this emerging industry operates responsibly, without a negative impact on the health and safety of our residents and neighbourhoods.” You could put a marijuana dispensary on every corner of Toronto and it would be safer than letting criminals be the leaders of the present industry. Are guns involved with these dispensaries? They are when we treat marijuana as an illegal substance. We tried leaving it all to criminals, cops and courts. It was dangerous, expensive and socially scarring for many and all of us.

Someone needs to remind Mayor John Tory that municipal politicians are elected on a non-partisan basis. It is an insult to every Canadian who has or will be involved in the industry or consumption of marijuana. Mayor John Tory is stigmatizing hundreds of thousands of Canadians. To insinuate that any or all of these individuals are something to protect the community from is laughable at best. They are part of community’s. Should we banish Prime Minister Trudeau from schools and community centres? He’s a druggy isn’t he? “I don’t want my child associating with someone who has consumed marijuana…I don’t care if Justin just wants a selfie.”

Any community will be safer when marijuana is legal. The stigma surrounding it hopefully will lift as it did for alcohol prohibitions of the past. There are those who would have marijuana remain illegal for reasons of addiction, health emergencies, impaired driving, underage use or more. We have these scenarios with alcohol but any city resident could find it within 15 minutes of any intersection.

I think Mayor John Tory is simply posturing politically. Marijuana ignorance is a by-product of his conservative roots. I think the mayor should apologize to Canadians for stigmatizing Canadians.

We would be jailed for brushing our own paint on a work of Michelangelo. Is God that much less?

My issue with transgendered individuals is not who they are but that their ideas and inclinations should supersede and All-knowing and All-powerful God. Outside of some physical emergency I do not believe it is up to humans to alter their physical sexual characteristics. Gender is in part a social construct. As such it changes. If your idea of throwing a dart at gender is to distort nature the new creation may fall from the board as the world changes.

Just as the baptized baby may wander from the flavour of their Faith why not a gender identity? Is mine a permanent state or are there other possibilities? I consider myself a man but then again I have never worn panties. What if panties suddenly seem permanent? How many years into my sexuality and gender identify do we consider a point of no return?

What if there comes a day when any and all variances are accepted? If you and the people you interact with change their perceptions and permissions you may have stirred the bread before it had a chance to rise. What if a person changes further or later or intermittently? No matter what the world thinks or you think, we are all trapped in some sort of visible existence. Has anyone considered a reverse re-assignment or is the transgendered community content and permanently so?

You’re sure God made a mistake but what of you? What are the eternal odds of not being quite sure what you are? Cut, snip and more across the corpse that was created for a purpose. I get a kick out of a transgendered person saying: “Now I’m me.” I’m nearing 50 and I’m still not sure who or what I am. If anyone says “he was” at my funeral it will be followed by an “also”. If my identity shifts throughout my lifetime is it not possible that any part of it may be a different thing from birth to death?

What is wrong with the painting we are given? You can spend your life reworking a Master or you can dance down the street showing off the original. We would be jailed for brushing our own paint on a work of Michelangelo. Is God that much less?

Personal obsessions aside, embrace what you are. If something stirs in you that would betray some characteristics and offend some social stereotype, find thee who cares not. Do not carve away your flesh to fill a twisting and turning vessel. Grasp it and learn to calm its contents. Find your personal equilibrium for what appears and what is. It is your cross to bear. Each of us is many things we would rather not be.

“Chick with a dick”

If there are some things I can’t say I end up not saying what I want but what others want. I’m a simple man but in my opinion being able to say what you want is the right from which the others rise. If you can’t write what you think on the picket you carry it kind of moots the right to strike. “I need a seven percent raise but I don’t mind a muzzle.”

There are an ever increasing number of omissions of language used in public. I doubt there is one person who would know of each and every word or grouping thereof that would offend some individual or group. Eventually those with PTSD will prickle at being less than a word. Do you draw the line or does it aimlessly meander as it does?

Any sentence can be offensive but we are nearing a point where the laughable can become liable. If I think our Prime Minister Trudeau is a selfie-stick who will be seen for the boy he is when the nation’s thumbs up tacks fall out of his pin up poster of politics; it would be a shame not to.

I was thinking about the bathroom pooh haw haw south of us. It’s a real pickle and surgically so. It has been trans-planted into an election. I foresee the writing on the wall being torn off or at least the washroom symbols on the doors. Will individuals who even temporarily identify as being more of one gender than what could be argued as assigned by God be free to pee from a contrary point?

If exposure alleviates fear and prejudices this is one way to do it. I guess the real question is whether the way it was set up is worse than the way it will be re-written? Who has the right to comfort in a comfort station? You? Me? Anyone? Everyone? Who will the solution please and who will the solution displease? Is it progress when the rights of the few are foul to the many? Does female poop contaminate male poop? You can either put a menu on the washroom door or it is open for people in any washroom to be of any identifiable gender or unidentifiable gender.

Maybe all the fuss is that if we get rid of the pictures on washroom doors so must we remove sexual identity from payroll. I guess segregating who poop’s and pee’s where is still segregation. In some small way civil rights have entered the toilet. I understand that people have rights but there are times when that right might just be a wrong.

We can’t expect everyone to be in the same place as some are regarding sexual identity. Does my 85 year old step-father have a say? Where are his rights when you’re screaming for yours? Where are his rights when someone with breasts stands next to him at a urinal? Is it fair to expect individuals like him to shed over 80 years of upbringing and personal propriety so a chick with a dick can take a more pleasurable piss? Is it okay if someone’s grandmother would rather powder her nose without the patron next to her powdering an Adam’s apple?

Maybe it wouldn’t be chaotic but will it be a comfort to my 85 year old step-father? I don’t give a shit where you do just that: all I’m asking is that when all these individual rights are being claimed for that his voice is not lost in your chants for fairness.

I realize it is my 85 year old step-father with the problem. He should have to retrace 80 years of what he considered and his societies considered appropriate. He has Parkinson’s so he’s busy with that but I guess he should rearrange most of what was imparted on him since childhood. He will no doubt go from an individual who should be recognized for leading an exemplary life to a family shame. He will like the slave owner will not be held in high regard. People will whisper that when he ran a business he only allowed the men in the men’s room and the women in theirs. He will be called a segregationist and it will be rumored they were all across North America.

Maybe we should have to use the washroom according to how we were sexed at birth. It’s a simple rule. Maybe we can pay homage to the nature that is and always will be a part of each of us. You can maim it but it cannot be destroyed. You can be whoever you want but don’t expect everyone to agree with your measures.



If Mr. Schoenborn had a tumor in his head that caused this tragedy how many years would we sentence him for?


A tough on crime agenda becomes a tough on mental illness agenda when we are dealing with Not Criminally Responsible offenders. In these instances the crime and mental illness are intertwined. You cannot set the accused aside and apply retribution for the crime without also being retributive to a mental disorder. Should we sentence symptoms?
The Harper government passed into law the Not Criminally Responsible Reform Act. There are several faults to the Act but my focus is on the designation of a high risk offender based on an arbitrary value of brutality and the implementation of a three year review rather than an annual review.
This Act allows crime scene evidence to be the stand alone predictor of present risk; indefinitely. On the same level treatment and rehabilitative interventions will be based on the dimensions of a delusion itself. Should we apply criminal sentencing protocols to medicine?
This new law will base the application of more restrictive measures for certain patients on the severity of the offence and or who happens to have certain delusions. Someone who is hallucinating is able to control their hallucination in the same way a cancer patient controls tumor growth. They don’t because they can’t. If psychosis is not a choice then what power does the individual being affected have in determining the width and breadth of the delusion it creates? The individuals in these tragedies are not making choices; they are being pulled in directions designed by delusions.


It is difficult for many to reconcile illness with atrocity. It needs to be kept in mind that without the illness there may have been no crime. We recognize the accused but we cannot see the culprit. The culprit is mental illness.
The Not Criminally Responsible Reform Act is being tested in British Columbia. The Supreme Court there has ruled that as written by the Harper government, the designation of high risk offender can apply to people entering the forensic mental health care system and existing patients. Fair enough. If we are somehow protecting the public this law should include. We might consider that this reach may eventually apply even further.
I have had an absolute discharge for near a decade. What influence do the circumstances of my crime have on my present risk? If the mechanics of the crime scene influence at 6 months can they at 16 years? This law puts all individuals impacted by mental illness in a susceptible position depending on political powers. It is my hope that in reviewing the laws the Harper government pushed through with ideology in place of evidence that the Minister of Justice will take note of the Not Criminally Responsible Reform Act.
“High-risk offenders” are detained indefinitely and do not have access to the public as the law was. To label certain patients high risk offenders may be fine but on what is it based? With the NCR Reform Act it can be based on an opinion of the court “that the acts that constitute the offence were of such a brutal nature as to indicate a risk of grave physical or psychological harm to another person.” This opinion can result in confinement of the patient for a three year term. The progress of the patient will be ignored. A court can decide a patients future mental health care based on measurements and opinion of a delusion or hallucination. Which delusions bring about disqualification? Is it not more logical to use qualitative measures rather than an opinion of brutality?


To interpret an act as ‘brutal’ – and to allow that interpretation to affect a disposition– assigns a degree of responsibility from which the accused has already been, by definition, excused. Should we place such value judgements on acts wherein the accused had no capacity to understand the nature of the crime? For an act to be considered ‘brutal’ does there need to be intent? Are we interested in rehabilitating the accused or in assigning blame where it doesn’t belong?


I do not clearly see how what anyone does at a point in time implies risk of repetition. This is clearly blurry when we are dealing with an instance of severe symptomatology. If the act was a result of a symptom we increase safety and security by progressively dealing with the illness from which it manifests.


If we are going to punish mental illness is it ethical to do so during recovery? If we are going to punish an individual for circumstances they were delusional for should we not have them fully rehabilitated so they can gain whatever effect said punishment is believed to have?


I am not arguing that certain events haven’t been utterly traumatizing. If you can find the guilt then the individual responsible should have a sentence. This Act piggy backs a finding of neither guilty nor innocent. It is worded as Not Criminally Responsible which as it sounds finds the accused from that moment on indefinitely excused from sentencing principles. We do not sentence anyone under any of our laws without first finding guilt. The finding of Not Criminally Responsible is not a finding of guilt.
If the law finds an individual Not Criminally Responsible it has also been found that it would be an injustice to punish or sentence in any way the individual in who the mental disorder at that time resided. As it stands we annually review the progress of the patient and re-examine risk and public safety. It seems in Canada these yearly reviews have become a public debate on the verdict. We seem to think that as citizens we should be making the calls on safety, security, rehabilitation, psychiatry, the courts and more.


We cling to our ignorance because it is safe, familiar and requires no effort. I don’t have to access or disseminate information. I don’t have to think, change or challenge old perceptions and I do not need to find opposing information or views. To be the king of incorrect is to rule none the less and we all want to issue creeds even if they are not credible.
We are competent in our incompleteness. Though in reality, we are complete in our incompetence. It is easier to remain self-righteous and defend what is incorrect than to journey into the difficult work of rearranging perceptions, presumptions and past efforts.
We could totally remove the Not Criminally Responsible provisions found in the criminal code. If we do that we have a clear path to punishing mentally ill people. The only unfortunate part for all of us as Canadians is that none of us are immune to mental illness. Further, none of us is born with any kind of ability to influence the unfolding or duration of a delusion or hallucination. That’s risk.

It seems a blindness brought on by a spiral of swirling thoughts that pull in more darkness than light.

    Parched though I am for something to do I have not felt like doing much. About a month ago I “sort of” cut a third of my finger off. I say “sort of” because the band saw saved a thin section of skin on the palm side.

   When you’re struggling and tripping your way out the door of the garage that small bit of skin is more terror than tendon. It is human nature to attempt to survive. I have had many moments of being suicidal and have made attempts at ceasing my life. I am claimed to have died in an ambulance and have a healthy will to live as a result. Very few get a second chance. Even still I cannot always claim this. There are days when I wish I was not here and there have been times it would have been easier not to exist.

   There are times when I get out of bed not wanting to get out of bed. There are moments I can’t see a spec of anything much good in myself or anything or one around me. Most days I would rush from the garage holding a dangling finger. Most days I am on some level aware of at least some blessings and I am able to immerse my soul into life. I have never truly had a reality not worth existing in but I have experienced deserts as I wander in an oasis. Here I cannot see the water and my mind is incapable of manufacturing a mirage. The mind becomes a cocoon to what truly exists. For me it’s like being high beamed by darkness. For a period all I can perceive is the darkness but eventually my sight adjusts and I can at least see the light in the rear view mirror. There has been good. If something in the past was good is there not the possibility that it can at any time exist in the future?
Don’t get me wrong; today and most days I notice and experience mainly mercy. I am surrounded by people, pets, projects and even possessions. I often fire out of bed. My soul can be nourished by even the barbs of life.

     The stigma surrounding suicide seems unfair. It is not a symptom or situation a person would choose. People don’t run their fingers through a band saw on purpose and no one pulls the life out of themselves on purpose. Suicide can happen to anyone. Who chooses to one day find no hope in tomorrow? Who would decide to find the point where suffering is the absolute? It seems a blindness brought on by a spiral of swirling thoughts that pull in more darkness than light. Depression is becoming less stigmatized but we stigmatize those who tragically make an irreversible action as a result of depression.

      When I was in emergency for my finger the doctor advised me to have it completely amputated. I didn’t crash through the garage to have it cut right off! I thought about typing, more woodworking and being able to continue being a terrible guitarist. It’s a lovely piece of finger, maybe the surgeon didn’t want to be at the hospital on a Saturday night. Maybe the surgeon had no use for that third of my finger but I was thinking of some as I waited in emergency.The second time they unwrapped it and let it dangle for the next doctor to see I was a little proud. It was on a perfect forty-five degree angle. It was probably better than any piece of wood I had purposely tried to bring to the same angle.

      Suicide is not a simple inability to perceive it is a matter of being pulled away. There is no humour to life. It’s a bit like having the wind knocked out you. There are moments when try as you might, no breath can be pulled in. Desire is not enough; it is a moment of complete incapacitation.

      I plan on pointing my finger around fairly well. If part of it falls off I will figure out how to do a guitar trick with what remains. Today Iike most of us I’m trying to save every inch of myself. I kind of get a kick out of life most days. I want to be able to pull my finger out and proclaim the miracle. Life is a miracle; every inch of it. After I supposedly died in the ambulance I spent three years in jails with a mental illness and seven years navigating the forensic system. Laughs can be found in both but I would not call the circumstances of my life during this decade easy.

     The word suicidal was washed from my mouth by the correctional system. I was suicidal many times in jail but I would never have told anyone. I said the word once and they put me in solitary confinement. It was only one night that time but being suicidal was preferable to solitary confinement. I cannot condemn someone who doesn’t reach out for help as I have rarely done so myself.

    When you can gauge the light and dark of things and you have the ability to perceive some blessing, you can focus on one small piece of light. It always blocks out a certain amount of darkness. When I have the ability to perceive something small in my life that has value I am like a crow with a coin. I flip it about and other small bits cling to it. Eventually I end up with a wonderful wife, a generous mother and stepfather, three brothers and even the jerk across the road is more friend than pain.

    I wish I could say I never lose sight of all this but something I don’t wish for makes it all vanish. I have spent days in solitary confinement knowing full well no one but the authorities knew where I was. I had an orange jumpsuit, no hair, no eyebrows and no shoes. I paced an 8 by 8 concrete box. I sat on one blanket and I had a Bible. I received no mail or phone calls and a shower or toothbrush were nowhere for days. Depending where you’re standing it would appear I didn’t have much going for me. The big screen was on the fritz and as much as I searched the walls, floor and ceiling I never did find a way to recharge my Smartphone. I wasn’t sure of time itself but not once did I imagine taking my life. I did not try to drown myself by plugging my toilet. I played with its leak until the guards were stepping in water when they came to peer in my four inch window.

    I have lived in solitary confinement while psychotic but I was not suicidal during this time. Some of my time in solitary confinement was fairly content. I had things to do. The people guarding my box needed me. I made friends and told a few I loved them. I shared my spirit with one of the nurses quite innocently and was shipped to another jail. I was robbed of everything I owned when the two fellas returned to drive me back to the jurisdiction of my court. I was warned by the lieutenant and permitted back to my original quarters if I promised to profess less love. I obliged and did so only in French and sign language on jail property from then on. I was banished from banishment’s to the bowels of a system where I was seemingly powerless. Had I owned a suicidal perspective I would have spent my hours forming my head to fit far enough down the toilet to drown myself.
Instead I drew my daughters face and guessed at what years might have done to her features. I imagined my ceiling contained all the stars. My food slot became a patio door and I wrote what I found meaningful on the walls of my cell. I had the ability to notice and converse about the flowers in the nurse’s office. They became a flavour in my mind that remains still. I cannot rationally explain why when I was most likely to be suicidal I was instead fully alive any more than I can explain the opposite.

     There are moments where some cannot notice the fragrances of life. I don’t think it remains for others to condemn someone for that inability. I usually ride out my suicidal feelings. This too shall pass works for me. Eventually and always I return to some point where I find that one good thing. I can once again see the significance of saving even an inch of a finger. What if that little bit comes in handy? What if it has a use or a purpose? Can it not touch a face?

    For now it has reattached itself as something to write about. I don’t have a remedy for suicide but maybe something I have written dusts off a little peace, humour or hope for someone.

The London Free Press has undermined their standing to mount a legal challenge to a bona fide publication ban and have castrated themselves of being a fair voice.

“Keeping in mind her safety. The Free Press never identified her during this week’s trial, even though there wasn’t a court-ordered publication ban.” Free Press

My father was a newspaper editor. He told me once that he often had mothers plead with him to keep Johnny’s name out of the newspaper; specifically the court reporting. My father knew all these people personally as it was a small community. It must have been difficult but he had the integrity to follow ethical and unequivocal news standards. He published my ex-wife’s name when she plead guilty to assault and he would have published mine had he been alive. It was an unenviable position but in some ways it was the easier avenue for my father. If he omitted Johnny’s name he would have to do so for others. The criteria would become chaotic. What would you use as a guide? Do I publish some, a few or just you?
What protocol was followed or not followed in the case of keeping secret the identities of those involved in this case? If the court did not proclaim any issues of safety, who revealed or how were they fashioned by the Free Press? There are rules to publication bans and I think Londoners should be informed of the Free Press instances and exclusions. Is it willy nilly? Does the court reporter throw a coin in the air and call heads? Should I contact the sports editor to find out what the exclusions are? If the court found no legal or so called safety issue and therefore imposed no publication ban what grounds did the London Free Press have? Who advised the Free Press that safety was an issue?
The first day this woman’s identity was unfoundedly protected the London Free Press coverage became prejudiced. It is difficult to protect a victim without creating an offender. It can only be inferred that the Free Press assumed the accused to be guilty prior to him being officially found or in this case claiming to be so. At the point of secrecy both individuals were only alleged.

The London Free Press and or Sun Media have undermined their standing to mount a legal challenge to a bona fide publication ban. They have castrated themselves of being a voice for the community and seem to have an agenda and or are influenced by certain agencies and individuals.
“Keeping in mind safety,” will the Free Press also refrain from revealing identities in other cases? What are the parameters? Who provides the litmus? Is it to be reserved only for alleged victims or will the accused also at times be protected? There are verdicts of not guilty. Will the London Free Press protect an alleged offender? The revelation of their identity creates conditions which are unsafe for them and their families. Some people are only ever accused. What about the accused who will never be found guilty? What about individuals who are Not Criminally Responsible? It is difficult to argue that Vincent Li who killed Tim McLean wouldn’t be safer if his identity was protected.
If find it frightening that the Free Press has taken it upon themselves to identify those worthy of anonymity for safety or any reason outside of a court decision. It flies in the face of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the presumption of innocence.