No apology was necessary.

November 27th, 2015 by Peter Lowry

Immigration Minister John McCallum sounded a bit testy with the news media the other day. They had probably forced him to give the same answer to the same question more than five times. McCallum has shown that weakness before. He is not long on patience.

This media approach gives the news editor for the television stations the lead the editor wants. There is a range of expressions from smiling to exasperation on the face of the interviewee. It provides a range to suit the desired bias.

What McCallum does not realize is that he is playing into the hands of the media. And, in the long term, it reflects on Justin Trudeau’s choice of immigration minister.

McCallum struck us as an odd choice from the time of his swearing in. As an economist, he has always been somewhat of right-of-centre politician. He was probably bettered suited to the role of Minister of National Defence in the Chrétien government but even in that job he ran afoul of the news media.

McCallum and Ralph Goodale from Regina are the hard-noses of the Trudeau cabinet. Goodale is probably right at home as public safety minister but would really have liked the finance portfolio. Gooddale likely keeps getting elected in Saskatchewan by acting more right-wing than his Conservative opponents. Of the two, Goodale seems to handle the media better.

But someone needs to wise up McCallum. As immigration minister he is handling his government’s promises on Syrian refugees as best he can. To absolutely nobodies’ surprise, he had to say that the government would not have all 25,000 proposed immigrants in Canada to celebrate the New Year 2016. He bravely assured the media of some 10,000 celebrants but said the other 15,000 will be as much as two months late.

This was good news. McCallum needed to be smiling. Regrettably, he came across as being somewhat affronted that the news media wanted an explanation of what they obviously considered to be slip-shod planning. The logistics involved in this are staggering and instead of crowing about the government’s degree of success, he was defensive.

What John McCallum needs to realize is that he has a relatively cushy job to do and he should have fun at it. If you try to do the job with a pout, the media will find you out.


Copyright 2015 © Peter Lowry

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Two thumbs up for the Charbonneau show.

November 26th, 2015 by Peter Lowry

As Cole Porter put it in “Another Op’nin’, Another Show” to open his hit musical Kiss me Kate, there really is no business like show business. And there is nothing more insidious than the omertá of the Mafia and the corruption of politicians. Madame Justice France Charbonneau’s enquiry into construction in Quebec ran an extra two years and produced a libretto of more than 1600 pages. There will be the appropriate clucking of tongues, promises of definitive action and the report will be filed and forgotten.

What surprised the enquiry more than anything else was that the politicians were skimming more money from construction in Quebec than the Mafia. That poses a challenge to the Mafia bosses and their henchmen in the biker gangs. There could be more “examples to others” swimming with the fishes and the fecal matter in the St. Lawrence River.

The Superior Court Justice actually said that “This report tries to address the problems with concrete solutions.” That might mean there could be more recalcitrant contractors wearing concrete boots looking up from the bottom of the river.

What the report misses is the ingrained lassitude of Quebecers towards this stealing. There is something of a measure of pride in how efficiently the skimming is done. The analysis shows that the Mafia and bikers are getting about 2.5 per cent of contracts while the politicians are easily taking at least 3 per cent. Along with the middlemen engineers and civil servants, Quebec is being tithed more than 6 per cent of its construction expense. And that adds up to billions of dollars every year. It is paid through taxes.

But that is considered chicken feed to the better organized and better connected Calabrian Mafia in Ontario. Also known as the ‘Ndrangheta, these mobsters have become wealthy patrons of the arts and politics in Ontario and few in the know would dare make even casual allegations in light of their power and position of privilege.

In a life in politics, you keep tripping over these people. They are well-educated professionals, they have successful businesses, their memberships are impeccable and they marry well. Their golf handicaps are low and they winter only in the best parts of the Caribbean. They leave the pimping, strippers and strong-arm stuff to the biker gangs. They are a tight-knit family and they have come a long way from Calabria.


Copyright 2015 © Peter Lowry

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Would they also kill the first-born?

November 25th, 2015 by Peter Lowry

It seems many liberals were outraged when somebody suggested that we only accept Syrian women with children as refugees. Now we find out that fathers are included. Maybe we should be concerned about the Pharaoh’s troops going out to kill the first-born? That is the kind of fear that has been exhibited across North America lately.

Irrational fear is what the Islamic State jihadists want. When you indulge in the fear they are trying to generate, you are helping their cause. You are a believer in their propaganda. You are supporting them.

The truth is the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is an army of brigands, losers, cowards and blasphemers. We already know that they are not as good as their propaganda. They cannot come after you. They are nothing but thieves and thugs. They only murder defenceless people. They revolt the true believer in Islam. There is no jihadist Heaven for snivelling cowards such as these. They are scum.

If and when there might be a new Caliphate in Islam, it will not be created by hoodlums.

Our problem today is to help the hundreds of thousands of Syrians displaced by sectarian war in their homeland. This is not to deny the plight of others who have been displaced by violence and/or economic deprivation in the Middle East and Africa. Ours is a troubled world and we all need to have compassion and concern for the plight of many.

But Canada is showing leadership in meeting a world-wide problem. It is bringing a token number—albeit a substantive number—of Syrians from the camps in Syria’s neighbours where these people have taken refuge. They are not cowards. They have been protecting their families. They have been saving their children.

The task of bringing these people to Canada has been made more difficult because of the urgency. And it is not just a created urgency because of political promises. Every day that these people are kept in forced idleness in the camps is more time to destroy their will to live productive lives. They are not the ones who bought their way to the sea and across to Greece and the promise of Europe. They are not the ones challenging the English Channel and the charity and accommodation of Northern Europe.

The émigrés to Canada are the ones vetted by the United Nations and Canadian authorities. These are the ones who won the lottery of a flight to freedom in North America. They will make a contribution to our country, our culture and to our industry. We will welcome them.


Copyright 2015 © Peter Lowry

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Can the provinces keep the money?

November 24th, 2015 by Peter Lowry

It seems that the point has been made about climate change: Industry can destroy the environment if they pay a tax on it. And that is why the provinces are so eager to cooperate with the Trudeau government. It is all determined by who gets the money. It makes you wonder how the federal government will get anything out of the provincial carbon tax bonanza?

It all started with British Columbia. Premier Christie Clark has acted something like a mother hen with her chicks. She insists the B.C. carbon tax is revenue neutral but the province operates the toll booths and sets the prices. We expect her province intends to keep the profits from the sin of pollution.

Premier Rachel Notley announced her Alberta solution to climate change with the enthusiasm of a second coming. It seems you can ship all the bitumen where you want as long as you pay the province when you go over the to-be-determined cap. The beauty of the plan is that both individual citizens and polluters get to pay for this and the individual taxpayer might get some money back when the province feels generous.

Premier Brad Wall of Saskatchewan is still stonewalling the federal government over Syrian refugees coming to Canada. We all assume this must be part of his strategy to win the federal Conservative leadership and so everyone is trying to ignore him. Anyway, we expect Saskatchewan to follow the Alberta lead.

All Manitoba does is a lot of talking about climate change but has not figured out how to tax it yet. Premier Greg Selinger of Manitoba will be at the conference to learn how.

Being supposed Liberals, Ontario and Quebec’s premiers are flexing their muscles and are ready to defend their highly profitable cap and trade tax plan. They have even got California tied into the loop to give them even more heft. Both provinces will make a killing on the taxes if the feds agree to them keeping the money.

And then there are the Atlantic provinces that are not causing very much climate change. Mind you they are always open to good tax plans.

You can just imagine this crowd of premiers standing behind Prime Minister Trudeau at the Paris climate conference. His RCM Police detail will be more concerned about the premiers picking the prime minister’s pockets than any serious security concerns.


Copyright 2015 © Peter Lowry
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Is America destroying the dream?

November 23rd, 2015 by Peter Lowry

A reader asked recently why we were ignoring the current American political scene. It is not that we are not following what is going on. We just feel sad about it. It is a travesty caught up in the guise of democracy.

In our book My American Mother (written in 1992) the principle character gives a speech in 1920s Chicago where she explains that the concept of America is an ideal—a work in process. That ideal seemed to reach its zenith during the Franklin Roosevelt presidency. It appears to have been rolling back downhill ever since.

Maybe America has hit bottom with Republican candidate Donald Trump. Trump might not be the first American with more money than brains but he is the first to make Ross Perot look like a Democrat. And here we thought that President Ronald Reagan was the final triumph of Hollywood over intelligence.

What really chills us is the wilful absence of thinking by Americans in their closed-minded adherence to one political philosophy over another. Can that many Americans be that ignorant? What really bugs us is that we have one brother in Massachusetts who is a Democrat and another brother in Ohio who is a Republican. These are not stupid people. Both have serious university degrees. The Democrat is disappointed with Obama and the Republican reviles him. Neither has conceded the man the opportunity to lead.

Listening to the Democratic candidates for president next year, you have to wonder at the shallowness of the leadership gene pool in America. And the Republican race is more like a colony of cats on their way to somewhere but they have forgotten the objective.

Seeing the stupid wall in the south of that country makes you wonder if they are dumb enough to build one on the north. And only Florida would complain about the loss of all those Canadian snowbirds.

But what really turns our stomach is that more than half American state governors have said they do not want any Syrian refugees. Yes, they are mainly Republican. And no, governors have no say in the matter. Their stand is not only bigoted and ignorant but this commentator would like to know where the hell those governors’ ancestors came from?

Those ignorant governors need to read something Emma Lazarus wrote in 1883. It was the following:

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”


Copyright 2015 © Peter Lowry

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Ontario: Socially responsible or greedy?

November 22nd, 2015 by Peter Lowry

Fear not fellow Ontarians, we will soon have some beer in some of our supermarkets. We are told that this is all being done to be socially responsible about booze. What it looks like is one huge cash grab.

Step one in the process of making this new(?) liberalized(?) event happen is to have a secret auction to allow 60 out of an estimated 1500 supermarkets (about 1 in 25) offer the government money to let them have a license to sell beer. The secrecy seems to be about how much the government is being given for this privilege?

Step two is the application by the auction winners (those who have paid up) being introduced to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO). These are the people who are always coming up with new and confusing rules for Ontario’s few casinos. It seems they are now going to create rules for selling six-packs of beer in grocery stores. It seems that AGCO is going to issue the licenses to sell beer to these lucky grocery stores. It makes you wonder about the rules and whether you can get your money back if you do not like the rules? And does the sign saying “BEER” have to be smaller than the sign saying “groceries”?

What is wrong with this entire process is that the government does not want the public to know what is going on. Why the secrecy in licensing grocery stores to sell beer? And why can they only sell six-packs? You can get those at your LCBO store if you do not like Beer Stores that smell like stale beer recycling depots.

That is because you still have to take your empties to the Beer Store. That foreign-owned Beer Store operation still has the lock on that recycling operation.

The media tell us that by May of next year we could have more grocery stores (90 more) selling beer. So if you are eager to buy beer at your local grocery store you just need to be patient. By the time of the next provincial election there might be as many as 450 grocery stores selling beer. Why less than a third of the large grocery stores in Ontario will be allowed the privilege of selling six-packs of beer is supposed to be socially responsible.

Every year there will be more stores selling six-packs and more publicity for the generous government at Queen’s Park that is master minding this brilliant change in how we buy beer. And do not forget dear voter, this is all being done in a socially responsible way. And probably profitable too!


Copyright 2015 © Peter Lowry

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Is the media the measure?

November 21st, 2015 by Peter Lowry

Commentator Chantal Hébert worries that Justin Trudeau lacks the gravitas of former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien. Thomas Walkom fears Trudeau is out of touch with the world leaders who have decided Russia’s Putin is a good guy after all. And we discussed Rosie DiManno yesterday who thinks Justin is juvenile.

And those people write for the more liberal Toronto Star. There are harsher things being said in publications that dislike our new Prime Minister. They dislike him because he is a liberal and maybe because of his family name.

Is the new government’s honeymoon over so soon? Is the media fuss over our new prime minister now passé? Did the events in Paris really overshadow Canada’s new broom in the halls of parliament?

Mind you, for Hébert to compare Jean Chrétien and Justin Trudeau is an attempt to compare across generations. When Chrétien took office he immediately started breaking his promises. Trudeau is keeping his. How can you compare that?

To use the name Chrétien and gravitas in the same sentence is not something that Canadians will readily understand. The little guy from Shawinigan and the son of the prime minister who brought Chrétien into prominence are not even in the same category. He might have replaced Brian Mulroney but Chrétien would have to admit it was far easier feat than defeating Stephen Harper.

Chrétien was but a gas pain in Canada’s digestive tract. Justin Trudeau is a sea change.

And that seems to be what our news media are missing. Listening to Peter Mansbridge and his pundit panel the other night, he kept asking if the honeymoon with Justin Trudeau was over and the answer seemed to be a qualified “No.”

For Canada’s Prime Minister to be lionized as a rock star by a group of Philipinos in Manilla might seem odd but it does say something. This is not just Pierre Trudeau’s kid. This is an idealised version of a modern Galahad. It is the image of leadership that you need to be young and a romantic to fathom. When the Harper Conservatives tried to tell Canadians that he was not ready, Justin simply ducked under the barriers.

Canada has a new international image that is going to pay off handsomely for our country. And as you might have heard many times before: Now is the time for you to push, pull or get the hell out of the way!


Copyright 2015 © Peter Lowry

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Don’t have a cow DiManno.

November 20th, 2015 by Peter Lowry

Toronto Star writer Rosie DiManno is the reason better publications have the best editors. And the reason many people do not waste their time on her stuff is that the writing is excessive and pedantic. She must be one of the last newspaper writers around who thinks the one who writes the most words wins.

And Rosie’s diatribe against Justin Trudeau the other day was a good example of excess. It was Rosie trying to march to a different drummer. It was Rosie the hawk. It was Rosie, the supposed expert on desert warfare. She wants Prime Minister Trudeau to explain his stance on air strikes. She seems to be saying that the F-18 war is working against the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Rosie needs to face the facts: There are better experts on warfare and on hockey than Rosie DiManno. She just thinks she knows everything.

Maybe Rosie thinks there should be more but Justin Trudeau made it very clear why he wants the Canadian F-18s to come home from the Middle East. It is the wrong role for Canada. It is an outrageous expense for little gain. And it does not seem to be very effective. Does she still need better reasons?

Just maybe, Rosie, Justin Trudeau believes he should keep his election promises. There is no doubt that many election promises are just to differentiate you from your opposition. If, like Thomas Mulcair, you go through an election saying “Me too!” the voters see no point in electing you. By pointing out your differences, you can sometimes win.

And let us not bring recent events in Paris into the equation. To do that you need to understand the reasons for those attacks. You need to understand the minds and objectives of psychopaths. They could do something, sneaky and vicious and disgusting and sacrilegious. They could not do it openly, in daylight, with honour and with clear purpose. For they want your fear. And they are snivelling cowards and they dishonour the Prophet and His God Allah.

Rosie fails to understand the practical and common sense commitment of our new prime minister. There will be other opportunities to flail him for errors in judgement or commitment. Nobody is perfect. Neither, we suppose, is Rosie.


Copyright 2015 © Peter Lowry

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Canada’s new PM is entitled to a victory lap.

November 19th, 2015 by Peter Lowry

When the victor in a gruelling race gets up from the finish line and gamely trots around the track one more time, nobody begrudges them their victory lap. It is the honour of the victor. It is the same with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. He did what only some of us realized he could do. He won. He won the election fairly. He won with integrity. The whirlwind world tour he is currently on is his victory lap. Thank goodness he is young enough to have the energy to do it.

For chair-bound pundits to criticize Trudeau for meeting the obligations of his job is a hollow cavil. He is hardly using these trips he is currently on to satisfy the urges of a tourist such as his predecessor. These are all meetings to show the world that there is a new sheriff in town in Ottawa.

Where Harper would add side trips to his world travels, Trudeau goes there and back. He went to the G-20 meeting in Turkey to meet the key world leaders. They had much to discuss. World events such as the Paris attacks were events running ahead of them.

This week it is the Pacific Rim countries that make up the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) organization. This is his introduction to many of our Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) partners. There are many questions to answer on the viability of the new TPP trade deal.

Trudeau will be back to Canada to meet with the country’s premiers. There are high hopes for Canadian solidarity to take to the United Nations meeting on climate change in Paris the following week.

In between, our prime minister will be heading to London to meet Queen Elizabeth before both of them fly to Malta for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. This is the meeting that some pundits think Trudeau should give a pass.

What the pundits do not understand is that Canada needs to reclaim its leadership role in the Commonwealth. Their votes are critical to Canada’s status in the United Nations that the Harper government denied us over the past nine years. Restoring our position with the Commonwealth is the fast track to building Canada’s status around the world.

Justin Trudeau is setting a tough pace in his first couple months in power. The pundits who think he should ease up be damned.


Copyright 2015 © Peter Lowry

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“Fear us,” said ISIL. But should we?

November 18th, 2015 by Peter Lowry

“Fear us,” said bin Laden’s al-Queda. And the Americans feared them. They involved the West in foreign wars that nobody has won.

The people who call themselves an Islamic State say “Fear us.” And they have involved the West in foreign wars that nobody can win.

Did we learn nothing back in the time of Saladin and the Crusaders? Did we not understand the fate of Gordon in Khartoum at the hands of the Mahdi? Did we really believe the silly propaganda about a poor War I soldier they called Lawrence of Arabia?

First the French and then the Americans were defeated by the jungles of South East Asia. The Americans and their allies faired as poorly against the opium poppy growers of Afghanistan as the Russians and the British before them.

And for all the lives lost and damaged in the search for Osama bin Laden, it was technology, the CIA and a small U.S. Navy Seal team that finally spelled his end.

Now the French have every right to feel enraged and vulnerable. After the Paris attacks, they want revenge. It is the World Trade Center redux. And the noose on our freedoms is tightening. All countries of the West share the concern.

But will we let these hoodlums, these brigands, with their false piety, corruption and child-like use of the Internet, call the tune? We have the technology to end the money trails to these false prophets of Allah. And without the money from the Arabian Peninsula and stolen oil, the criminals of the faux Caliphate of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant will soon wither and fade in the desert sands.

Why can we not realize that bombs are worthless without boots on the ground? You have to send armies after armies, planes against planes, ships to sink ships, bandits know bandits, spies counter spies, and terrorists terrorize terrorists. The French know the truth of that. We have to stop playing the game and simply win. We have the might and the technology, the intelligence and we have the right to seek justice.

But Canada has no place in making useless war. Despite the agony of our friends in France, we have to remove Canadian planes from the wasted bombing of the desert sands. We have to determine who should be helped in the quest for peace in the Middle East. We have to encourage others to join in supporting peace.


Copyright 2015 © Peter Lowry

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