Trudeau’s terrific travels!

September 24th, 2017 by Peter Lowry

Canadians sure get full measure when they send their prime minister on a personal appearance tour. He did more in two days in New York than most rock stars can do in a week.  The British prime minister and that New Yorker who currently occupies the Washington White House were also in town but the young guy from Canada got the star treatment.

Trudeau must have planned to arrive after Trump’s speech which was smart. Nobody could have matched the hyperbole and B.S. of that Donald Trump classic. It was over the top, overdone, over dramatic and dreadful diplomacy. Trump took the U.S. to depths of dishonour not seen in the United Nations forum since Nikita Khrushchev took off his shoe and banged it on his desk to show his displeasure.

But after a day of special appearances and being lionized, Trudeau showed up at the United Nations. This is the world’s forum. He had this golden opportunity to tell the world of his thoughts and dreams. He could have followed the American president and the British prime minister with a balance of logic and reason, peace and temperance, love and understanding.

Instead, our nit-wit PM blew it!

What egotistical brain fart led him to devote his speech to Canadians’ historical crapping on their own indigenous peoples? What made our rock-star prime minister think these world diplomats give a damn? Most of them have a rooms in their palaces for their own shames. They hardly need to hear chapter and verse on our failings.

What you do, Mr. Prime Minister, is admit your failings and move on. Nor do you try to hide those failings and let them be used against you.

But there are problems in the world that need to be addressed in this world forum. Are we to leave the North Korean problem to a sabre-rattling incompetent in Washington? Cannot Canada take a role in helping the people in the Caribbean who have had the ground washed out from under them? Where is the promised plan for Canada to help with world peacekeeping? World trade is being endangered by a nincompoop in the White House and someone has to take a stand for reason.

Are you not afraid Mr. Prime Minister that those screaming kids at the We Meeting the day before will find out you are a coward?

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

‘Chuckles’ cheers the cheaters.

September 23rd, 2017 by Peter Lowry

There are two types of people who take advantage of Canada’s tax laws and form private corporations. There are those who legitimately pay family members (and others) for their work and there are those who sprinkle the income among family to avoid taxes. It is this second group that is so delighted that Conservative Opposition Leader Andrew ‘Chuckles’ Scheer has taken up their cause. Cheating on your taxes seems to be a game for some people and they welcome politicians foolish enough to try to help them.

But cheating on taxes is not a game and Canadians have put up with a system that panders to the rich for too long.

I will never forget a comment by my late brother the first time he made more than a few million dollars. He was a convinced capitalist but he admitted to me that he was actually embarrassed by the small amount of money he had to pay, once one of the large accounting firms had done his taxes.

Canada’s tax system relies heavily on the honesty of its citizens in reporting their income. When the loopholes in the system are mainly used by those who can afford expert help in preparing their taxes, the system is wrong. What the tax avoidance schemes of the very wealthy tell us is that it is alright to cheat on your taxes. As this attitude trickles down, the response is to build the underground economy. The tax system is being attacked at both ends.

What we must do is convince Canadians of the fairness of the system again. We can only do that by proving that it is fair.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau has his work cut out for him. His problem is that his department has built up a fiction over the years that there are different types of dollars. There are earned dollars and capital gains dollars, there are dividend dollars and wage dollars, there are dollars earned in Canada and there are off-shore dollars. To add more confusion there are expense accounts that help companies make money and there are expense accounts that are purely benefits. And why do employees who earn the most have the most benefits?

When every dollar is recognized for what it is—taxable—we will have a tax system that everybody can trust. Politicians who rant over perceived unfairness to their friends are not very smart politicians.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

‘Corrupt Kathleen’ campaign comes to Canada.

September 22nd, 2017 by Peter Lowry

It hardly took long. Sleaze spreads. The Ontario Conservatives had to think of something to overcome their lack of leadership, ethics, ideas and policies. When your party leader is a nobody, you attack the person people know. It makes you feel superior. It worked for Donald Trump did it not?

We can certainly assure you that Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne is no Hillary Clinton. She might not be as smart as Clinton but she is more of a street fighter. She is no lady. She is not going to take any crap from a putz like Patrick Brown.

That silly ass Brown deliberately said to the news media that the Premier was “on trial” when she appeared (as a witness) in the Sudbury bribery trial. He might not be a very successful lawyer but he was trained as one. He must have read something about slander and libel. He also knows that a judge’s ruling on what he said can be year’s away. It hardly matters then. The trial by voters is next June.

But, until then, Brown and his friends are going to try to pile on the sleaze. It does not seem likely that Kathleen Wynne will let them. This coming election campaign might not be fought under the Marquess of Queensberry Rules.

Hillary Clinton’s major mistake in last year’s American presidential campaign was not calling Trump for what he was—an overblown ego and narcissist who was totally unqualified, and unequipped to serve as president of the United States.

Those of us who know Patrick Brown can assure you that electing him as Premier would be an unmitigated disaster. He has never seemed to care much about policies, people or politeness. We are beginning to wonder when his handlers are going to hire some poor woman to hang on his arm to help him look normal?

I am going to get Stevie Cameron’s book On the Take off my bookshelf and remind myself of the sleaze of the Mulroney years in Ottawa. It seems that former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney is now a major fund raiser for Patrick Brown. It is likely to be the quid pro quo for Brown giving Mulroney’s daughter the nomination in the York-Simcoe electoral district for next June’s election in Ontario.

They are going to need a lot of money if they keep buying heavy flights of TV commercials defaming Kathleen Wynne.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Hyperloop hardly halts high-speed trains.

September 21st, 2017 by Peter Lowry

Do you want to be sent by pipeline down the Montreal-Toronto corridor? They are suggesting that the city to city trip will be in as little as 39 minutes. It sounds like a great idea but I am not sure that 39 minutes of claustrophobia, g-forces and sheer terror would be worth it.

Damn it all, if I am going to travel across Ontario to go to Montreal, I want to be able to look out the window. Hyperloop systems remind me of those tubes in the old ‘five and ten’ and other large stores that sucked in round containers and distributed them to other departments. I was always surprised when my change and receipt came, with a plop, back to where I was waiting.

My old friend David Collenette, former Prime Minister Chrétien’s transport minister, is currently doing an environmental assessment for Premier Wynne on a high-speed train line from Windsor to Toronto. It is just part of Wynne’s contrariness that she wants to go backwards to Windsor before she goes forward to Montreal.

I have been a proponent of high-speed electric trains for Canada for many years and I have always felt like a voice in the wilderness. What drives me nuts on the issue is that Quebec has all kinds of cheap electrical energy available for this project and some form of pernicious separatism has prevented Quebec politicians from getting behind the need for high-speed electrified trains. Airplanes, buses, automobiles and diesel locomotives pollute. High-speed electric trains cause the least pollution.

Ontario was a world leader in interurban trolley systems back at the turn of the 20th Century and gradually got rid of them with the growth of the automobile and congested highways. It amazes me that all these politicians can give lip service to environmentalism and yet never get serious about electrified train systems.

It has always seemed to be rejection of our first prime minister’s, Sir John A. Macdonald’s dream of Canada that we have not followed through on keeping this country linked by modern railways. Are we the last country in the G-20 to recognize the value of electrified, high-speed trains?

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

In search of leadership.

September 20th, 2017 by Peter Lowry

This is not as simple as Diogenes with his lamp, searching for an honest man. There are many possibilities in life for leadership and many who believe they can fill the need. In Canada, we tend to assume that when the need arises, a leader will step forward. We could not be more wrong in our assumptions and our best example of this is our municipalities—where, in most cases, we lack the organizational structures that can support leadership.

I was thinking of this today because of the ongoing complaints of the Toronto news media about where Toronto Mayor John Tory is leading the city. Mind you, the term leading might be inappropriate in this situation. It is a task more like herding.

In Toronto today, the voters elect a mayor citywide and 44 councillors in their individual wards. While most of these people are or become affiliated with this or that political party, there is no party platform or discipline to hold them accountable. They run on their own platform in their own neighbourhood. They are accountable only to their own voters. And if that is more than 35 per cent of the potential voters, it is considered a high turnout.

Watching various mayors put together their coalitions over the years, it seemed to be more of exercise in personality than of politics. They made it personal. It was more a moral persuasion than political party discipline.

A recent report on Toronto City Hall commissioned by the Toronto Sun Newspaper hardly solved the problems. A major recommendation was that council could have more time for the important stuff if it delegated more community problems to the existing community councils. Nobody seems to have pointed out that this would be moving the city backward.

The newspaper’s plan also included somebody having to write consumer-friendly write-ups on issues that the council was bringing up for debate—and here we thought that was the role of the news media!

Actually, nothing is going to improve on the municipal front until a provincial leader realizes that the lack of political accountability in Toronto is the biggest problem. This true leader will liberate the city’s serfs.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

What ‘New’ Democratic Party?

September 19th, 2017 by Peter Lowry

We are hearing that ‘Love is in the air’ and the New Democratic Party of Canada is facing the future to the beat of new drums. Everyone anticipates that this new day will start with the election of the new leader of the party. And if you believe all this guff, I have a fine piece of swampland in the Ontario north in which you might want to invest.

The first part of all this B.S. is the news media believing the NDP is a social democratic party. That is further from the facts that any human can throw. When the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) was founded by Tommy Douglas and J.S. Woodsworth in 1932, it was a socialist party with agrarian roots.

In 1961, the CCF became the base of the New Democratic Party (NDP). It was a deal made with the Canadian Labour Congress and the party structure was committed to organized labour. It was and still is a party of labour. That is not the basis for social democracy. Labour can best be described as organized collectivism. It is a mutual protective society. It is rarely interested in the overall concerns of its society—other than when it affects them.

Social democrats are people who can work within a democratic structure to effect reforms. They are progressives who want to build a better future for their society. They recognize the rights of the individual ahead of the collective. They build on human excellence.

But who among the four candidates really understands this need for a social democratic party? Who is the progressive? And who can lead?

Listening to the four candidates on Sunday in Hamilton it was obvious that Guy Caron was the thinker. The Quebec MP had the positions that he felt the party should take. What he could not demonstrate was the leadership the party needs.

Charlie Angus was up to the challenge. The Northern Ontario MP showed his empathy for the long-time party members who want to help define where the party is going. He was the only one to note the need to keep the faith with seniors and promised to advocate for them.

Niki Ashton was also in good form. The Manitoba MP showed that she was the last true prairie socialist and she stuck to her guns.

The newcomer Jagmeet Singh showed up with his drummers. The Ontario MPP brought some showmanship to the event.

What nobody brought was a future for Canada’s New Democrats.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

The late, unlamented Equifax.

September 18th, 2017 by Peter Lowry

It is just one of the many problems faced by Canadians because of our outmoded constitution. Responsibility for credit reporting companies resides with the provincial governments. It enables the large federally incorporated American firms to just add Canadians to their portfolio almost as an afterthought. And when hackers have free access to Equifax data and download over 140 million records for their own use, there is little differentiation between the American and Canadian information that they download. They have use for both.

It reminds me of an experience I had a few years ago when I made my first and last purchase at a new Target store in Canada. Target in Canada fed its sales information south of the border and I soon found that someone was using ATMs in Pittsburgh to try to empty my bank account. My bank was kindly translating my money to American funds to save time for the criminal.

I should mention that the bank replaced the money. The bank considered the retail breach to be part of the cost of doing business.

But that is not the case with Equifax. While you might have signed away your rights to your own data the last time you opened a savings or checking account, applied for a credit card or a mortgage, you probably never did read all that fine print. Nor did you necessarily agree that Equifax could retain all the data on you forever in their, obviously insecure, databases.

Since class-action lawsuits have already been launched in the United States and in Canada, we can only hope that the lawyers involved understand computer database operations. They obviously already know that the company failed to install safeguard software in their system that would have blocked the point of access for the hackers.

Hackers are the guerilla force in the computer wars. It is a continuing battle to find and fix the weak points in systems the hackers are seeking to find.

As much as many people laugh at what hackers can find in their searches, they should be aware that it costs us all. When the banks get ripped off, who do you think pays for it: we the customers.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

In defence of Conrad Black?

September 17th, 2017 by Peter Lowry

Lord ‘Cross-the-Pond’ Black has never needed us to defend him. He is a man of immense ego living out his life in the last of his estates. His love of the written word could have been the cause for him to destroy a business empire—all for the sake of trying to save his failing newspapers. Given his setbacks in life, give him credit, he still writes with clarity in the beauty of the English language.

But who is this Toronto Star writer who complains so bitterly about Conrad writing in the National Post that racism is ‘practically dead in North America.’ Is he challenging her livelihood? Is she working under some editorial direction to unearth racism wherever she can find it?

Of course, Black’s perception of racism would be totally different from hers. He is a septuagenarian, born at different times and who has lived in an entirely different environment and enjoyed a different life style.  The point of his story appears to be decrying racism. What is her problem?

Does the Star writer expect all ‘white men’ to pack up and return to the Europe or wherever of our forefathers? That would certainly do a lot of good!

It is unlikely that there are many who could vouch for Conrad’s sincerity but he does decry the racism that he could have witnessed over the years. That seems to be the appropriate stance in this day. And what more can we really do? We know that bigotry goes with ignorance. In life, it is possible to feel both sides of discrimination and we know we like neither side.

But one should never make more of it than one ought. It seems that the more firmly we disavow the racism of the past, the more we are accused of ignoring the racism of the past. You simply cannot win this argument.

But to accuse all whites of being bigots is bigotry in itself.

And why can we not look on the good side of this? As a parent, I am as appalled at the concept of all black schools as I would be at the idea of all white schools. I am just as appalled by separating children by the religion of their parents. In Canada’s increasingly secular society, we should have no place for religious schools to indoctrinate children.

We need to reach a time when we do not pass the mistakes of the past to our children. These mistakes can take many forms.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Does Wynne win with weed?

September 16th, 2017 by Peter Lowry

Everyone seems to be a bit nonplused by the possibility of Premier Kathleen Wynne promoting the sales of marijuana in Ontario. It might not be the best idea to come down the turnpike recently but it is certainly creating consternation. If Wynne and her Liberal sheep continue in their usual form, we voters will be the ones shorn.

The first question you might ask is what qualities would you want in a store that sells legal marijuana? Would you prefer a group that knew something about marketing? Would you prefer a group who knew something about the product they are selling? Would you prefer that a store is a short walk to in your neighbourhood or a long drive to a suburban mall?

As you can see, there are more than a few questions. Now tell us what kind of a company fits. Do you think the Liquor Control Board knows anything about marketing, or knows much about marijuana or will there be a store convenient to you to fill your needs? Or will you care?

Of course, you would hardly expect the government to follow the old distribution patterns and locate all its stores within a block and a half of every high school in the province. This means we expect the stores to reach out to new markets.

Maybe the LCBO could get Premier Wynne to promote marijuana for seniors. They could create commercials saying that weed is the best way to forget the aches and pains of aging. Mind you that would mean that there would need to be a related delivery service. How about we give that part of it to Amazon?

Maybe the major market for marijuana is just the aging hippies who have not heard that smoking is bad for them.

But the serious question here is whether Wynne and her Liberals are going to benefit from anything other than the profits from selling marijuana. When they pick the LCBO to do the marketing, it was just the same old song, all over again. And they are going to use the old water torture trick of opening a few stores at a time. Wynne never does anything all at once. It is like the booze in Loblaws, raising the minimum wage or the selling off of Hydro One. If it works once, why not do it again and again?

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Canada’s NDP: In the eye of the storm.

September 15th, 2017 by Peter Lowry

It is that period of calm before all hell breaks loose. Everything you could have done, has been done. Everything you have set in motion is now in motion. You are waiting for the results. You cannot sleep. All possible scenarios seem to slip unwished for into your mind. You are waiting for the decision of the voters.

Everyone in politics has been there but never as serious as the candidates for the leadership of a political party. This month it is the New Democratic Party’s turn. Voting starts in a few days. The answer will likely be announced on October 1.

This is one of those simple votes. One member is one vote. Easy to understand and easy to do and easy to count.

Well, maybe.

The only thing that confuses people is the ballot. It follows the recent Conservative Party ballot that caused a lot of questions afterwards. They tell us that the printed ballot allows people to show their first, second, third and fourth choice. And, in theory, people can change their mind between ballots—if they are voting on line.

But whether a second vote will be needed is debateable. When you have reason to expect Jagmeet Singh could have over 50 per cent of the votes on the first ballot, there might be no reason for any further counting.

It could certainly produce a lot of Google searches on Sikhism. It is not a well-known religion and frankly there is not that much to go on unless you can read Punjabi. Sikhs have ten gurus, quite a few saints and five centuries of history. It does make for interesting reading.

While Charlie Angus M.P. will make a very good showing, his total vote combined with the votes of Niki Ashton M.P. and Guy Caron M.P. might not be able to match the total vote for Singh.

And whether Jagmeet Singh can be expected to lead Canada’s NDP anywhere is a question best answered after the ballots are counted.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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