Together, we can.

April 22nd, 2019 by Peter Lowry

Prime minister Trudeau asked for party unity last week. He was at the Ontario liberal gathering in Mississauga. It was a friendly crowd. He told them that liberals fighting each other only helps the conservatives. I cannot argue that but before agreeing with him, Justin needs to learn to listen to his party.

This was the first time, to my knowledge, that he even admitted that liberals cross Canada have been concerned and disturbed by the SNC-Lavalin affair. Many of us listened with growing dismay to the presentations before the parliamentary justice committee by former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, principal secretary Gerald Butts and privy council clerk Michael Wernick.

What liberals did not see during the months absorbed by this case, was leadership from the leader of the liberal party. “Where’s the wimp?” was the concern.

Our liberal party was being trampled. The opposition were having a field day of scorn. The news media were bugling ‘Boots and Saddles’ as they smelled blood.

And where was Justin Trudeau? He was telling (or sending instructions to) the liberal members of the parliamentary committee to stonewall the other parties. He never really answered any questions in the House. He demoted justice minister Wilson-Raybould.

To add to his problems, he usurped the role of caucus in determining who can be a member of caucus and the role of the party in choosing its representatives. If nothing else, he could have listened to the party. These people are his friends. They had questions. They were in the dark. They had the right to know what the hell was going on.

And was MP Jane Philpott just collateral damage? Or was she supposedly the Wicked Witch of the East who was under Dorothy’s house when it landed in Oz?

During this fiasco, all the concerned liberals across Canada got were urgent pleas for money from the party. What we needed was to see some contrition from the leader.

If Andrew Scheer is prime minister of Canada at the end of October, it is on your head Justin.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Political Pipe-Dreams.

April 21st, 2019 by Peter Lowry

While the rest of North America were out on an Easter egg hunt this morning, Albertans were out beating the bushes looking for the pipeline that their politicians have been foolishly promising them. This could be one of those blue-sky political promises on the same track as a chicken in every pot.

And why should anyone believe it is going to happen? Albertans have already been informed that the federal government has delayed the decisions on this pipeline until June of this year. When you have been stalled for years, what is another month?

This Trans Mountain pipeline has been a good news-bad news story from the beginning. It is an old pipeline that was built long before anyone thought of using a pipeline to send bitumen from the tar sands over the Rockies. The plan was that the previous owners, American-owned Kinder Morgan, would twin the old crude oil pipeline and almost quadruple the capacity of the pipeline for diluted bitumen by adding heaters and high pressure to the two lines.

Obviously, the Kinder Morgan people had studied the possibilities and had made a few stabs at getting the twinning started but quickly found themselves mired in environmental challenges and protests from aboriginal groups. The answer was a quick sale and the federal government became the surprise buyer.

At $4.5 billion, the pipeline was no bargain. Estimates peg the twinning and equipping the pipeline to handle the bitumen will cost anywhere from $7 billion to more than $9 billion.

It might seem odd that a politician such as Justin Trudeau—who persists in claiming he is an environmentalist—would promote a pipeline for the output from the tar sands that is destroying the environment of Northern Alberta and will create three times the carbon pollution of regular crude when converted into an ersatz crude oil. And Albertans will give the liberal prime minister no thanks for it!

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Where’s Jagmeet Singh?

April 20th, 2019 by Peter Lowry

Somebody needs to check the potholes on the Yellow Brick Road. Could NPP leader Jagmeet Singh have fallen into one of them? If it was not the daily feed of twits on his Twitter account from the NDPer’s office, we could assume he might be on holiday somewhere.

Mind you, he and the wife do need a holiday. To spend your honeymoon getting your husband elected to parliament is a challenge to any new wife. Day in, day out political campaigning does little for a marriage.

And it is not as though the NDP leader is having much impact on the pollsters or the public or the news media or his caucus in Ottawa. Basically, Jagmeet Singh is nowhere. As they say, he has been tried in the balance, and found wanting. He is basically a very wanting guy.

It is kind of like his twits from his office on Twitter. The past three days, we have seen standard NDP boiler-plate smoke on housing, (inadequate), workers’ rights (serious) and climate change (this is bad). Buried in this material was a note that he might currently be in Nanaimo, on beautiful Vancouver Island.

With close to six months remaining before the October 21 poll date set for this year, you hardly need pollsters to tell you that not all Canadians are pleased with the performance of the liberal government.

But the problem is not so much that the voters are pissed with the present government as where those votes might go. The liberals have to hope that those votes they have lost are scattered around the various parties. If too many of those votes go to the conservatives, Justin Trudeau could be a one term prime minister. Seeing that the Green party is up about three points over their usual inflated vote at this stage, that might be part of the answer to a weak NDP.

And the conservatives, under ‘Chuckles’ Scheer, are not necessarily polling in majority territory. There is a lot of shaking out to do before what ever happens in October happens.  The only prediction I might make at this stage is that Green leader Elizabeth May might have a small caucus to brag about come October. At this stage, we could be headed for a minority government—the same thing that happened to Justin’s father in 1972.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Not just a pocket to be picked.

April 19th, 2019 by Peter Lowry

The chickens came home to roost faster than expected. While I have been forecasting dire consequences as Justin Trudeau downgraded the liberal party to a fan club, we are starting to see the problems.

Chatting with an active liberal just the other day, he told me that he was annoyed at his local liberal organization. Here it is six months before an election and his party is showing no signs of life. When he contacted his local electoral district president, the chap told him he was not even listed on the party’s computerized lists. As a loyal canvasser for the party and a regular contributor, the chap had every reason to be annoyed. “I’m not just a pocket to be picked,” was his comment.

Justin Trudeau has never recognized that there is a balance needed with fund raising and party activity. This liberal I was talking to was like many of us over the years. We were involved. We were a recognized and valued part of the party. We worked tirelessly at getting our chosen candidate elected. We took a vocal role in the development of party policy. We took responsibility for choosing candidates who could work with our parliamentary caucus

In our thinking, the leader of the party was responsible for the elected members but he reported to the party as a whole. When they changed the rules for all parties back in the 1990s, they said that the leader of the party had to sign off on each candidate. That did not mean that we wanted the leader to choose our candidate.

Since then all parties seem to think they should be run by their leader. Even the supposedly democratic NDP has a leader now who thinks he has the authority to kick an MP out of the party caucus.

Recently, liberals thought it might have been smart for Justin Trudeau to pass that right to his caucus instead of taking the blame for the ejection of MPs Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott. The inexperienced Justin Trudeau piled his errors higher and deeper throughout the entire SNC-Lavalin affair. If he had been paying attention to his caucus during that time, he either lacked good advice or ignored it.

But I am pleased to say that there are probably still many liberals ready and willing to get to work and help make sure our country does not give up on the liberal party in the fall.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Facts and fake news from Ford and foes.

April 18th, 2019 by Peter Lowry

The facts are few but the opinions are fanciful as we read reaction to the Ford government’s alcohol policies. What is particularly amusing is that we are told neither the premier nor his finance minister drink alcohol. And yet they are telling old, staid and dull Ontario to loosen up and have another drink.

They have obviously found out how many billions in taxes the distribution of booze brings the province each year. Regretfully, the doubling of availability will be unlikely to double that revenue.

But it still frightens the ‘blue-stockings’ among us. I always thought that ‘Repression Works’ was the motto of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union.

The new and plentiful hours of booze service would frighten Carrie Nation. Drinking in parks and parking lots is also new. Deals for ‘happy hour’ sound exciting and free drinks while gambling does not. (Any smart gambler will settle for the free coffee while gambling.)

Rob Simpson of Sagewood Resources writes in the Toronto Star that government costs of alcohol addiction in Ontario exceed revenues by $465.4 millions. That is a very precise estimate, when he does not seem to know the extent of the revenues.

It is not that I would argue with the suggestion he makes that the price of alcohol is the number one contributor to increased consumption. Judging by Dougie’s experience with his ‘buck-a-beer,’ pledge, there is little chance of lowered prices of booze in the province.

Simpson also states that the Wynne government had already made “massive” increases to the availability of alcohol with its water torture adding of a few grocery stores to selling beer and wine. He seriously says that the fact that each of the (eventually) 450 stores planned, which were each capped at $1 million in sales(?) would add a total $450 million to Ontario booze revenues.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

The Alberta that God forgot.

April 17th, 2019 by Peter Lowry

“O outcast land! O leper land!
Let the lone wolf-cry all express
The hate insensate of thy hand,
Thy heart’s abysmal loneliness.”

From the poems of Robert Service.

Jason Kenney won the Alberta election and the embittered battles over bitumen are drawing clearer lines. He joins the blow-hard conservatives of Ontario, Saskatchewan and Manitoba in building walls against people and Canada’s future.  Just another climate change denier.

But what incentive does he bring to encourage prime minister Justin Trudeau to build the twinned, high pressure Trans Mountain pipeline? We have certainly not heard honeyed words between them.

Let us remember that the Old Kinder Morgan pipeline has been in use since 1953. Refurbishing it and twinning it to carry diluted bitumen costs about as much as what the Canadian government paid for it originally. To carry the bitumen from the Alberta tar sands to Burnaby, B.C., the pipeline has to have heaters to keep the bitumen liquid and use high pressure to keep it moving.

Admittedly, the voters of Alberta had little choice presented in the election. Premier Rachel Notley looked worn and tired after the rigours of her job for the past four years. Jason Kenney even lost some of his baby fat to look fit and ready to take the reins.

But with what looked like a record turn-out in the election, Kenney’s slammed together conservatives won the field.

Albertans can repent at their leisure.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Chuckles checks conservative campaigns.

April 16th, 2019 by Peter Lowry

You would expect that one of these days, conservative leader Andrew ‘Chuckles’ Scheer will have to take the training wheels off his federal election campaign. He was out on the hustings with Jason Kenney in Alberta last week and little new came from either conservative.

The signature complaint we have heard from Chuckles and his four most strident provincial conservative leaders—Ford in Ontario, Pallister in Manitoba, Moe in Saskatchewan and Kenney in Alberta—is that federal carbon taxes are bad. And the conservatives always forget to mention that the liberals plan to return this money on Canadians’ income tax each year.

In Alberta, Kenney links the name ‘Trudeau’ with the National Energy Program of almost 40 years ago. He also talks about the Notley-Trudeau team as the one-two punch of failed government in conservative eyes. All this does is create an even stronger conclusion that these provincial and federal conservatives are global-warming deniers and their campaigns are based on ignorance.

As the world’s ice caps and glaziers melt and oceans rise, deniers have less land to stand on. And the growing violence of the weather patterns is just another indication of the need to cut back on spewing of carbon into the atmosphere.

But what might be positive in the conservative platform for this October is not clear at all. Chuckles says he is going to balance the books for the federal government within two years of being elected. That would be an amazing and probably very drastic promise to keep.

The most unusual promise from Chuckles is to give tax credits to people who send their children to private schools. Why anyone who can afford to send their children to private schools needs a tax credit for it is a question that needs to be asked?

It is important to know that Chuckles has always been a social conservative and yet he denies that he would support their more radical positions such as on abortion or LGBT issues. Which just means he is a person who does not stand up for his convictions. Some prime minister he would make!

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Delay of Game.

April 15th, 2019 by Peter Lowry

There could be a serious family squabble in the offing. I might not have mentioned it in the past but the wife is the sports fan in this family. Not that I ever object to cold beer and a Blue Jays game on a warm summer afternoon but I am no fanatic.

And we are Torontonians and devotion to the Maple Leaf hockey team is in both our gene pools. Even living here in Barrie, we are ‘at home’ with all the other Leaf fans.

What is concerning me lately is the increasing mumbling across the breakfast table as the wife scans the statistics for all the Toronto teams each morning. I have explained endlessly that the paper was probably printed before she went to bed the night before. She is gradually getting the idea that it pays to check with the Internet.

But what is troubling me is the growing number of teams in contention for fan attention. There are the rambunctious Raptors, the fabulous FC and the traditional Toronto Argos already out there making Toronto famous at the same time as our hockey club has once again made it to the early stages of the Stanley Cup.

What I will not agree to in this cornucopia of sports is to support the greed of the broadcasting tsars. To be fair though, I am looking forward to the CBC continuing its tradition of bringing us Hockey Night in Canada. That was a smart decision.

But I was absolutely amazed when I saw the proposed monthly charges to the consumer to stream those hockey broadcasts through the Internet. With the costs of Internet service, with sufficient bandwidth for streaming video, constantly climbing, who can afford to watch sports.

There will be other households across the country that are going to have serious discussions about how to pay for all the specialty channels that people want to watch.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

In the arrogance of ignorance.

April 14th, 2019 by Peter Lowry

You saw the big beaming smiles on their faces. If not in the newspapers or television news clips, you can imagine the smugness that Ontario’s conservative government felt bringing in their first budget accounting for Ontario’s billions in revenues. Despite their promises of efficiencies and despite the braggadocio, they failed to even keep pace with inflation. And they failed those who need the most from their government.

In the armour of their dark suits and bright ties, the conservatives laid their claim to the purse strings of the province. The treasurer was strident in his presentation and the premier laughing. He did not have much to laugh about as more and more the bad news was laid on those who could least afford it.

In the age-old tradition of politics everywhere, the treasurer blamed the former government for the slip-shod accounting that left the mess they inherited. They will let the deficit increase until the promised reform by the next term in office. Yes, we have heard it all before.

But the deepest cuts are in the loutish treatment of those less capable of defending themselves. Social services are slashed by a billion dollars. Legal aid can do with 30 per cent less money. Colleges and universities are set up for funding cuts. If you are poor, you can get by with less is this government’s claim.

But do not think of this government as just mean spirted and cruel. It also has a somewhat weird sense of humour. In the tradition of Hogarth’s Gin Lane painting of the mid 1700s, drink is the answer. Drink more, drink often as hours of sale for booze increase and there are more places coming to meet your need for the demon rum and beer.

And the most incongruous actions are the new Tory-blue licence plates and the adhesive signs for the gas pumps damning the federal liberals for the carbon tax that is part of the plan to fight pollution.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Tories take a try at Toronto transit.

April 13th, 2019 by Peter Lowry

You really need to be a Torontonian to recognize the absurdity of the Ontario government’s latest plan for Toronto transit. It seems to be a right of passage for Toronto politicians that they all have to give transit another kick in passing. Premier Doug Ford should be passing out cigars for this baby.

The new scheme has the Ford signature subway to Scarborough. It will probably get the title of the Rob Ford Memorial Ditch if it ever gets dug. Built is yet another problem.

The parsimonious progressive conservatives of Ontario do not have the money. And they really have no intention of finding it.

As frightening as the plan might be, it does provide the odd chuckle. Why do you think the government wants a subway terminus at Ontario Place? It sure is not for the last half of August each year to bring people to the Ex.

And you hardly need to look at that proposed transit map for long to wonder what idiots did this design. Did they even look at bus use, traffic patterns, population demographics or densities?

Mind you, they must have some better vision of what the city should have in high speed transit than the ridiculous maze that cut King Street West off from logical traffic. The city needed to have some adults take control.

This Ford government experiment in transit planning is somewhat whimsical. And if not that, the timelines are mythical and the cost estimates hysterical. And this is so much that Toronto needed—one more damn plan that people will argue over for years instead of getting anything done.

I expect it is an unfair comparison but I have always compared Toronto’s transit solutions with those of Chicago, Illinois. Both cities have the problem of being built upside a lake. Chicago’s Els that are based on the city’s train network, are noisy and smelly and ugly. Chicago city is equally badly run—if not worse.

But Chicago’s Els are people movers and they have done the job over the past century. Toronto just needs to grow up and tell Ford’s phonies to get their hands out of the city’s cookie jar.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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