A tough start to the new year

By Craig Westcott

Our hearts were broken to learn that long time Shoreline outdoors and hunting columnist Darrin McGrath died on February 20.

Darrin was 57 and had been dealing with health issues for a number of years. He asked to take a leave from writing his popular Cabin Country column in May 2020 and had hopes of returning within a few months, but unfortunately that didn’t happen.

Darrin was a gentle man, a true outdoors enthusiast, and an accomplished writer with close to a dozen books to his credit. He was passionate about the subjects he covered and good at meeting deadlines. He was generous and kind and intelligent.

To say that we, along with his family and thousands of readers, miss him is an understatement. A gentle light has left this world.


The world seems to have taken a turn back towards darker times since this new year started.

First, we had the almost unbelievable siege of Ottawa for more than three weeks by Neo Nazis, antivaxxers, Q-Anon conspiracists, thugs, religious freaks, con men, whack jobs, and the determinedly misinformed while the city’s police force seemed to take their side and abandon its citizens.

It took the invoking of a federal Emergencies Act for Ottawa, Ontario and the federal government to gather the wherewithal to clear these idiots from our nation’s capital and from selfishly blocking major trade routes to the United States.

We should have charged and jailed more of the leaders and put some of the craziest ones – and boy are they crazy – into some kind of institution for their own safety as well as ours.

And then came Putin with his barbaric invasion of Ukraine.

The Russian dictator has been toying with Ukraine for some time. He sees it as a buffer against the western democracies and NATO.

He has also been on a mission to disrupt and divide western democracies and show them up for being weak. For years, his intelligence services have been whipping up dissension in our country using social media, even contributing to the crazy antivaxx conspiracy theories and views being touted by the same nut jobs who disrupted Ottawa this winter. In fact, some of the convoy nuts have even been promoting Russian propaganda against Ukraine on social media the past couple of weeks.

But Putin has met a surprise in Ukraine. The people of that country have embarrassed the rest of us with their courage. Putin’s threats towards us for supporting Ukraine – to launch cyber attacks on our infrastructure, even hinting that he is ready to unleash nuclear weapons – shows him to be the most dangerous threat to world peace since Hitler.

It’s becoming more difficult to avoid being drawn into a war with Russia. With Putin’s army exposed over a 60 km stretch of highway as it snakes its way to destroy Kiev, it is awfully tempting to carpet bomb the crap out of it and save some of the brave and innocent people of Ukraine and perhaps ourselves in the long run. We may one day rue not having taken this opportunity. But I hope it doesn’t come to that.

In the meantime, we must take our military preparedness more seriously. The only thing that will deter Putin from further aggression in Europe is a strong NATO. As part of NATO, we must do our share by bolstering our offensive and defensive forces. At home, we must also start cracking down on the cyber war being waged against democracy by Russian agents and the willing fools here, such as the anti-Vaxxers, who are abetting them.

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