On the road to Oz, the Lion starts strong.

January 17th, 2019 by Peter Lowry

Dorothy has already clicked her heels and the Cowardly Lion has been the first to put a paw on the Yellow Brick Road. It is very early in the trip and he can act brave. There is no competitor yet on the road to Canada’s federal election.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is also in an element that he enjoys—and where he comes across strong. It must be the school teacher in his training. He enjoys the cut and thrust of town hall meetings. It is a chance for him to teach and preach and he is good at it. I was particularly impressed with his handling of an immigration question at the meeting in Regina last week.

Trudeau actually drew the questioner out on what he was asking and helped him phrase his question so that what he was saying was clear to most people listening.

What he accomplished in drawing out the question was to establish it as the current tone and misinformation as spread by the conservatives around conservative leader Andrew Scheer (the Tin Woodman, who will be joining the others on the Yellow Brick Road to the Canadian election).

What it boiled down to was that the questioner in Regina did not consider the Christian and Muslim religions to be able to co-exist.

Mr. Trudeau countered with the contention that it is the ability of different cultures and religions to co-exist in Canada that has built a strong and vibrant nation. There was no question in the reaction of the audience, that they agreed with the prime minister’s point. It was a spirited and clear explanation for the reputation Canada has gained around the world for being an open and caring society.

But it is also something all Canadians, who really care about this country, should be repeating. If we hear vapid, unthinking expressions of bigotry, we need to counter them. Please do not leave this type of ignorance unanswered.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

Brits’ Brexit Bonkers.

January 16th, 2019 by Peter Lowry

Oh, the Brits did it up right proper yesterday. That parliament of woolly thinking, stepped out the palace window looking for the executioner with his axe. “Come, chop off our heads,” they said, “We’re not using them anyway.”

Since the United Kingdom narrowly voted for Brexit in June of 2016, the UK parliament has been in a directionless turmoil. Prime Minister Theresa May has taken it nowhere. She reminds us of King Canute defying the tides. Her legacy is the same as that of once prime minister Neville Chamberlain who returned to London from Munich in 1938 with a piece of paper, saying “Peace for our time.”

The truth is that Theresa May got the best deal you could expect from the Europeans. Remember that Brexit was based on bigotry. Like that despicable Donald Trump and his wall, the UK vote was to keep the hordes of migrants from swimming the Channel or erupting through the Chunnel. What the Germans could do with their discipline and the French are still trying to handle, the UK rejected. They should not be proud of it.

The hardest part of this was trying to understand what Theresa May was trying to do. Did her vanity include the belief that only she was able to untie the Gordian Knot of the United Kingdom’s role in the European Union? The truth is that the United Kingdom needs the European Union just as much as the EU needs the UK. They are pieces of the same puzzle.

But the question now is how the UK can reconnect without losing too much face? A UK general election—with new leadership—might help.

And it looks like the EU will hold out the olive branch. There is no need for any recriminations.

We can only hope that Brexit is not like one of William Shakespeare’s longer tragedies.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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The amazing breadth of progressivism!

January 15th, 2019 by Peter Lowry

It has always pleased me that the people running the Progressive Bloggers web site have included Babel-on-the-Bay in the collection. It also becomes important when I note that as many as a third of my constantly growing number of daily readers are able to find my website through the portal.

But in checking the collective site periodically, I am sometimes amazed at what is included in the definition of progressive. It is obvious, I am sure, that the best read of the blogs is the one (or more) each day from the chap in Montreal who is so adept with his photoshop software at creating cartoons of political characters. And I always enjoy reading treatises and comments from the King of Curmudgeons on Vancouver Island. He inspires me.

But the point of this commentary, was my surprise recently to receive an e-mail comment from the editor of the Maple Monarch. If I would ever make a choice between the most regressive tracts in Canada, it would be anything about the monarchy or from the Fraser Institute.

But the editor of the Maple Monarch surprised me. He was commenting on my diatribe about the uselessness of walls as a deterrent against people. His comment was a scholarly epigram about walls through history that served a purpose. He certainly knew a few things about the Great Wall of China. All I could do was counter with Hadrian’s Wall that did a job, for a while in Roman times, in keeping my Scot’s ancestors away from the English farmers’ wives, daughters and sheep.

While it surprised me to find that the Maple Monarch is now considered a progressive blog, who am I to say who is progressive and who is not. I have always found that if it is something, I can do nothing about, why let it worry me?

And it supplied a fast and easy commentary for today.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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Mr. Trump as a savant?

January 14th, 2019 by Peter Lowry

The other day, reading something from a forgettable writer, I started out laughing at the presentation of U.S. president Donald Trump as a savant. Please understand that a savant is someone with debilitating mental problems or deficiencies but also has one or more remarkable skills. In Mr. Trump’s case, I would suggest his skills are like those of a stopped clock. He can get it right, once or twice a day.

But when the writer suggests that Trump got it right to withdraw all American troops from Syria, he seems as lost as Trump. I do not care what Trump’s advisors said as to why the Americans should stage the withdrawal; Trump was signing a death warrant for the Kurds.

And no matter how Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin handle it, genocide is a crime against humanity. They must think they can back the Kurds into the hands of the remaining Daesh fighters in Northern Syria and claim it is the Daesh that did the dirty deed. Trump is helping by pulling out the witnesses for them.

The writer goes on to claim that Daesh only exists as a result of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. This is wrong as Daesh (under the ISIS name) was already pledging support for al-Qaeda, three years before President George W. Bush made the mistake of invading Iraq again.

What the writer really proves is that he does not understand Mr. Trump. In fact, Mr. Trump frustrates him. He claims Trump does not read and insults him unnecessarily by saying he does not think.

Maybe Mr. Trump thinks too much. As an insomniac, he seems to do his most irresponsible thinking early in the morning, when he feeds his more ridiculous thoughts to his followers on Twitter.

But he is certainly no savant. What he is good at are those things that made him very successful in his father’s business. It is a business that attracts the showman type, the bluffer and the consummate liar. Trump is just your garden variety womanizer and con man. His very serious weakness is his narcissism.

Mr. Trump represents a real and present danger to the United States of America in its foreign relations. He is a child playing with grenades. The country can eventually recover most of its reputation and regain some of its leadership among nations. It can hopefully fix the weaknesses in its political structure that allowed him into office.

But the next two years in Washington will not be fun.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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Navigating a sea of indigenous irony.

January 13th, 2019 by Peter Lowry

It would be funny if it were not so sad. Canadian politicians constantly try to solve problems for our aboriginal peoples but they often use our concern to abuse us for just not being aboriginal.

What I have never understood is that instead of making sure they have clean water to drink in their communities, someone in government thought they might like to be called “indigenous” instead of aboriginal. I could care less but I know that “indigenous” means “from here.” They are not. Their ancestors came from Asia like many other Canadians—just thousands of years earlier. They should be proud of that.

But that is minor compared to the way the government tried to foist the national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls on them. They tried to set time limits on an oral culture. “Sorry Mr. and Ms. Politician, an oral culture does not rush to meet the deadlines for the next election.”

It was more than 35 years ago that I was involved in a long series of casual conversations about aboriginal needs with a friend in Winnipeg. What I helped to do was create a native-friendly fellowship centre in the city to try to have a positive place for aboriginals coming to the city. We also added a computerized training centre at a separate location for the disadvantaged, whether aboriginal or not. (We were hoping it would open windows for education in remote communities.)

But what annoys me about our aboriginals is when they try to hold us up for ransom. A current example is the problem with the liquified natural gas pipeline into Kitimat, B.C. We have the right to ask the tribes to resolve their own problems as to who speaks for them. When the elected leaders of the tribe sign a deal with the pipeline company, the company has the right to expect them to represent the tribe. It hardly makes sense for the company to have to call the police because members of the tribe are now listening to hereditary leaders rather than those they elected for the purpose.

There is a far more serious protest to be made when Trans Mountain tries to twin its pipeline to Burnaby. Trans Mountain has a long way to go to be approved by all the tribes along that route and those tribes really need our help to stand up for their rights.

And many of us, whose ancestors came to this land much later, will stand with them.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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The Tentacles of Torstar.

January 12th, 2019 by Peter Lowry

It is a small hope of mine that Babel-on-the-Bay has some of the same objectives as the Toronto Star. It becomes harder over the years as the Torstar management keep swallowing the smaller fish to keep their big fish afloat. They have done more to deprive Canada of good journalism in recent years than they have encouraged.

Since the Canada Competition Bureau is still reported to be casting a jaundiced eye on the most recent collusion between Torstar and PostMedia to end professional journalism in Canada, I will deal with other bad smells coming from Torstar headquarters at One Yonge Street in Toronto.

Frankly, I have been concerned about the lack of competence Torstar has shown in becoming functional in the electronic world of news reporting. I have been waiting, with increasing impatience, for the wife and I to be able to discuss the day’s news that we can each access at breakfast on our personal table-top tablets. Instead, each version of the Toronto Star electronic newspaper comes out worse and more difficult to navigate than the earlier version and with fewer features.

It is so confused that the other day I received an e-mail from the Star’s programming geniuses. It expressed regret that I had cancelled my subscription to the electronic version and the cancellation would take effect at the end of the month. My opening question to the first person I found in the right department was why would I cancel something that costs me nothing? As a home delivery customer, I have access to the electronic version at no additional charge.

My other recent experience where my curiosity was tweaked was in late December by a news source that I have not been using. It is iPolitics, the Ottawa based electronic news source, concentrating on politics in Canada. One of the iPolitics staff appeared on a Global News panel. She was presentable, spoke well but appeared to have no basis for the opinions she was expressing. It occurred to me that this publication needs some help.

At the time, I was reviewing my ten years of producing a daily posting for Babel-on-the-Bay. My choice is to cut costs somewhere or to find some revenue. Since iPolitics needs help, I sent the publication a quick e-mail politely suggesting we have a chat. I was puzzled when I did not receive any acknowledgement.

All became clear though when I dug deeper and found I had missed the announcement that Torstar had bought iPolitics.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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Assisted death in Canada is a failure.

January 11th, 2019 by Peter Lowry

In case there is a deity, I would like my final prayer to be:

God, or whatever you wish to be called, it has certainly been an interesting experience visiting this life. I realize that our visits are limited but we are on a relatively easy rein while we are here. I have enjoyed the laughter of children, the come-hither look of women, the blueness of the waters, the softness of summer breezes, the green of the forests, the exercise of good discussion, the clean, crisp air of winter, the warmth of family, good food and drink and the companionship of wonderful people. Would I be asking too much if when my time is finished on this earth, to please let my passing be fast and painless, without interference by those assholes in Ottawa.

When the federal liberals bring out their short list of accomplishments before the election later this year, it would be a travesty to include medically assisted death. The law, such as it is, passed in 2016, is a failure. Never has so much pain and suffering been inflicted on people since the Inquisition was ended by the Roman Church.

It seems to be this demand by the law that death must be “reasonably foreseeable” that is causing most of the problem. Pain and suffering do not seem to count for anything.

And who the hell let politicians loose on this question anyway? Frankly nobody is all that interested in their narrow prejudices. All I know is that people should have the right to pick their time of dying as they wish. It appears inhumane and decidedly cruel to wait until the person is screaming in pain, with no hope of succor, to be asked if they are of sound mind. How can you be? It is not that all doctors can know what is best but we ask for their medical opinions. We should not then ignore those medical opinions.

This is my life. I am enjoying it. When the day comes that I can no longer enjoy it or look after myself, I think a caring government would allow me to choose the time to end this mortal existence.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

Don’t send a boy…

January 10th, 2019 by Peter Lowry

Maybe if they draw pictures for us, we might understand why prime minister Justin Trudeau would ask U.S. president Donald Trump to help with Canada’s current problems in China. Talk about the old adage of never sending a boy to do a man’s job! Why would you ask someone who has proven himself incompetent to help solve a problem that the incompetent’s country has caused?

This is an embarrassment to all Canadians. It is probably just as embarrassing to millions of Americans. The supposition is that the two Canadians (and maybe more) are being used as a tit-for-tat for Canada arresting a Chinese business executive. It seems the legal warrant is from the Americans and as Canada and the United States have an extradition agreement, the warrant was served on her when she landed at Vancouver on her company plane.

Canada was doing what it is obligated to do under the extradition agreement. Canada also protected her human rights under the treaty and is allowing her to challenge the American order. Her hearing is set, expeditiously, for early February. Her lawyers can then set forth her objections to the extradition.

In the meantime, the lady is enjoying a restful time at her modest Vancouver home and not languishing in prison.

But the tit-for-tat Canadians might not be enjoying their visit in the Chinese prison system. It seems the Canadian ambassador was allowed the courtesy of a visit but no charges have been discussed and no lawyers are allowed. The Chinese do not seem to understand the concept of a legal system that recognizes human rights or democracy. The Chinese ruling party propagandists will tell you that everything runs quite comfortably, thank you.

And that brings us back to another person who does not understand. Why would the prime minister embarrass himself by talking to the U.S. president about the matter? That could make it worse. Do we have to prove that we are lap dogs for that incompetent in the White House?

What the Chinese do understand is the concept of ‘face.’ And you do not want to play the game with the Chinese where you take one of them, they take two of yours. They have the advantage of numbers in that game.

Best of all, you should leave the problem to diplomats who understand the Chinese. Let them figure out a way to let the Chinese save face.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

Singing Singh a sad song.

January 9th, 2019 by Peter Lowry

It is understandable to hear that Canadian new democrat supporters are being told to “Singh or swim.” If they have not thought about it before now, time is running out on them. And when a left-wing apologist such as Thomas Walkom writes about Singh in a despondent tone, as though the NDP leader might just be early road kill on the Yellow Brick Road to the fall election.

It hardly seems to matter when prime minister Trudeau decides to call the by-election in Burnaby South. Even if Jagmeet Singh does make a ceremonial bow in the House of Commons, what good can it do him?

It might not be his fault but his timing is so bad. It is a time when populists both in Canada and the United States are pumping up the anti-immigrant bigotry. It can hardly do him or his party any good. Much of the anti-immigrant rhetoric might be against Muslims but the ignorant who listen to that crap are hardly expected to know the difference between Muslims and Sikhs

At a time when the American president is running a diatribe for a wall against immigrants and the Canadian opposition leader is railing about our porous border, the NDP leader is a poster boy for immigration. That might be a bespoke suit from Harry Rosen’s that he is wearing but the accessories are what are known as the Five Ks of Sikhism as ordered by the Tenth Guru Gobind Singh in 1699.

Nobody wants to be honest about this but Singh would never have won the leadership of the NDP if he had not encouraged fellow Sikhs in Canada to join the NDP and vote for him. The very large number of Sikhs in British Columbia and Ontario put him over the top. The only problem is those numbers pale when compared to the total voter population of Canada.

It was as simple as Patrick Brown, the disgraced former leader of Ontario’s conservatives, winning the mayoralty of Brampton. Brampton was where Jagmeet Singh held his seat in the Ontario legislature. All Brown did was promise the very large Sikh population in the area that he would greatly expand the number of parks with cricket pitches. They think that Brown will make Brampton the cricket capital of Canada. Sikhs do so love the game of cricket.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

Jason Kenney would rather fight.

January 8th, 2019 by Peter Lowry

The last thing Canada needs is another provincial leader spoiling for a fight. Alberta opposition leader Jason Kenney was on Global Television’s West Block last Sunday laying out his battle plan and various lies for his anti-Trudeau, Anti-Quebec and anti-British Columbia campaign. This is, of course, provided his reconstructed conservatives win the Alberta election, expected in May.

Kenny wants to join Doug Ford of Ontario, Scott Moe of Saskatchewan and Andrew Scheer leader of the federal conservatives in tearing into the Trudeau liberals in the federal election expected in October. If Mr. Moe, Mr. Ford and Mr. Kenney were honest about it, you would expect the gentlemen to be resigning their provincial jobs and finding an electoral district that might have them as the conservative candidate. There is no doubt but that Mr. Scheer will need all the help he can get.

But for the three provincial gentlemen to interfere in the federal game with slander, false news and hyperbole from the sidelines is bad politics and a betrayal of the people they purport to represent.

First of all, the liberal government has made it clear that the carbon pricing to be charged on major polluters selling fossil fuels in their many forms, will be refunded to Canadian taxpayers in their taxes. The objective is to show people the real price of these fuels and the need to fight global warming. Mr. Scheer and his chorus can keep denying global warming and the increasing danger to our planet and they might eventually join the fight, but by then, hell will likely be frozen over.

But that nasty bastard Kenney has been lying to people since he was in college in San Francisco telling Catholic co-eds that they could not learn about abortion. He certainly does not admit to the highly polluting problems with the products of the Alberta tar sands. He resents that the prime minister bought the Trans-Mountain pipeline to help solve the problems for Alberta and says that the PM is now blocking the pipeline.

The problems with the Trans-Mountain pipeline are far more serious than the whims of the prime minister. The problems have far more to do with the sloppy job the Calgary-based National Energy Board (NEB) used to do on pipelines for Alberta. The NEB is no longer a lap dog for the oil industry.

And what is particularly outrageous is Kenney blaming Quebec for blocking the Energy East pipeline through that province. The proposal was nothing but a tissue of lies for the tar sands people and it was legitimately stopped. Kenney wants Albertans to hate Quebec.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me