December 1998: I was riding Via Rail’s trans-continental line back home after a month-long trip to B.C. during which I had climbed a mountain, strolled through a rain forest, got engaged, and nearly been devoured by the lowlife scum of Vancouver’s shithole quarter. Typical vacation antics all.
Holed up alternately in our sleeper car or the observation deck, socializing was imposed on my new fiancée and myself come meal time. With limited seating in the dining car, we found ourselves paired up with other travelers on each occasion we sat down to eat. It was through these place-setting arrangements that I ended up in conversation with Scott Taylor several times throughout the three-day journey.
A military journalist for Esprit de Corps, Scott travels the world covering international conflicts and internal issues usually related to Canada’s own anemic armed forces. I’ve caught his appearances on various news shows on half a dozen occasions since meeting him, and I’ve watched him offer his analysis of Canadian military affairs as the various networks’ semi-official go-to guy whenever the often-ignored subject cracks a headline. He was particularly in evidence around the time of the Somalia torture scandal, back when this sort of thing was a hot topic of discussion in our country, several years before the U.S. military would step up to the plate and show the world how to commit war crimes with real pizzazz. On the air, he’s earnest, even stoic, approaching topics that are serious and often contentious with all due respect. In person he’s a card, a constant joker, a personable life-of-the-party.
I’m sure he has no recollection of me, but I remember him well. And I was reminded of him again only yesterday morning when my clock radio woke me up with news that he had just been released after days of being beaten and tortured in Iraq. It turns out that by the time anyone really knew he was being held by insurgents and being threatened with decapitation come Friday, he’d already managed to convince his captors that he was a Canadian journalist and not an Israeli spy after all. He’s still recovering from his injuries, but is expected home in a matter of days.
Aside from my habit of shameless name-dropping, I can’t think of a reason in the world for me to mention this here, other than to say I’m glad to hear he survived the ordeal, even if I got the news he was alright within two seconds of finding out he’d been in mortal peril in the first place.
You can read what Scott had to say about the Iraqi morass in this interview from last year.