Watch out for the mathematics!

October 16th, 2019 by Peter Lowry

It was mentioned the other day that it is impossible to selectively elect a minority government. Before you think you are voting for a minority, you need to check your mathematics and your logic. I would suggest to you that if most people across Canada voted for a second-tier party to keep one of the two main parties from winning, we could be back at the polls within 90 days. And that would certainly cost us.

Take the current suggestion that the Bloc Québécois could win the most seats in Quebec. If that happened, the result might be a conservative minority government that could hold on to power on an issue by issue basis, with Bloc support, for almost a year.

But what if the Bloc won so many seats in Quebec that the result was a conservative majority? The Bloc would be ignored and useless in an antagonistic house of commons for the next four years.

The problem is that you can only control your own vote. Everyone else’s vote is their own business.

Canada’s problem is not how it votes but the lack of leadership. We are so bereft of leadership in this country that an untried and unknown lawyer from Brampton, Ontario has caused a small flurry of hope because he spoke up at a leaders’ debate. He did not say anything important nor did he suggest any path to enlightenment. I can pin down about three seats that are likely to be won by his new democratic party. Anything else is guesswork.

At the same time, I know that the disappointment with Justin Trudeau is palpable across Canada, He might mean well but he has let us down. He is not a leader. He is more like his mother than his father. He is but an actor. He enjoys the role but he does not lead.

But for all our complaints, Trudeau could do a job better than he has. He can certainly do it better than the woefully inadequate Andrew Scheer. Anyone who seriously watched Scheer as speaker of the house of commons during the final four years of the Harper conservative government would be appalled at the thought of that man as prime minister of Canada.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

On the home straight.

October 15th, 2019 by Peter Lowry

We are in the final week and nobody really knows how this election will play out. We tend to confuse what we hope will happen with what is really happening. The pollsters seemed locked in secondary races and are ignoring the real one.

Maybe green leader Elizabeth May is the only realist. She admits to the media that she is not running to be prime minister. She does have images of being the balance of power dancing in her head but the pollsters are even pooh-poohing that idea.

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh is the least likely to achieve. Instead of dealing with the realities of being a third party, he has delusions of the glories of the prime minister’s office. His princess is going to be terribly disappointed with the results. The reality for Singh next week will be the heavy loss of Quebec seats for the socialists. And there is no way those losses can be recovered with a few possible gains in B.C.

But, in the same way, the higher poll figures in Quebec for the Bloc Québécois do not seem realistic. I agree that these voters are telling the pollsters that they are inclined to vote for the Bloc in rejection of the Tories. I also think many Quebecers are up to their usual tricks on the pollsters. There is a possibility that more than a few of those reported Bloc votes are really parked votes that the voters are embarrassed to admit are going to the liberals.

What worries me the most is the deteriorated state of organization in Ontario liberal riding associations that are not running an incumbent. If the effectiveness of the Tory ground game when Doug Ford had his romp to power provincially, is even half as good this year, it will be more than the liberals will be able to match.

And it should be obvious by now that the conservative weakness this year has not been Doug Ford but Andrew Scheer. Chuckles is no leader or debater or politician and he was lame when on the defensive. Even his attacks on Trudeau often come across as hollow and rote. He is not credible as a leader.

I think the forecasts in our Morning Line are still valid. We will be putting it all together next week. We live in interesting times.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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And who is suing whom?

October 14th, 2019 by Peter Lowry

It came as a surprise to learn that the CBC has filed a complaint with the courts claiming that the conservative party has infringed on CBC copyright. I am not sure yet if I find it more amusing or concerning.

In a career as a writer, I must admit that I have never been involved in a court case over copyright. When you consider the thousands of speeches, news releases, magazine articles, scripts and opinion pieces cobbled over the years, it must have been the early mentoring that kept me out of trouble. You learn that facts require proof, opinion needs to be identified and to always recognize sources.

It was in the past few years that I found myself trying to explain that principal to the publisher of Patrick Brown’s ill-considered book on his problems in Ontario politics. The various lawsuits initiated by that book appeared to be nothing more than warning shots over the bow of whatever skiff Brown was rowing.

Much ballyhooed lawsuits in politics are most often withdrawn after the point has been made. Our judges already have dockets overloaded with serious cases and have little patience for the spurious.

And this one by the CBC is probably in that category. While the Corp needs to assert itself and tell the politicians to not play fast and loose with its creative material, nothing would be gained after years of dragging the case through the courts.

And considering the feud between the Tories and the people’s broadcaster, that has been going on for many years, I was surprised that the last Harper government did not do more to eviscerate the CBC than just deny it the funds it needed. Some wiser heads must have realized what ‘Hockey Night in Canada’ meant to Canadians.

But I also remember during the 1963 federal election, the joke at the Jarvis Street Kremlin (CBC English headquarters at the time in Toronto) was that a planning meeting was supposed to have been ended by the apocryphal comment: ‘Let’s get to work. We have a government to defeat.’

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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On being progressive.

October 13th, 2019 by Peter Lowry

I have been wondering lately how we can determine if what we write is progressive? When does a tweet from Twitter become a blog? Maybe we progressive bloggers need to ask some serious questions about what constitutes a progressive, and what constitutes a blog?

I, for one, appreciate the initiative of progressivebloggers.ca. Google Analytics tells me that as many as 30 per cent of the daily readers of Babel-on-the-Bay.com find my thoughts through this aggregator. It has helped built a substantial readership.

So far, nobody has said that progressives need be liberals or new democrats. Nor would I suggest that all liberals or dippers are progressive. Liberals in Canada are often referred to as a ‘big tent’ party. I have participated in policy discussions with liberals for close to 60 years and I can assure you that there is a wide range of attitudes.

I remember one time at a policy conference at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, I was asked to keynote a session on labour relations. Charles Caccia was the minister of labour at the time and he just sat there looking daggers at me while I, figuratively, tore his department to shreds.

But before we get off the track, let me come back to the point about progressives. In any election, there is always some rumour going around about this leader or that candidate. It is a terrible timewaster. It is certainly not productive. I stopped reading Warren Kinsella’s material when I saw where he was headed in this election. He is entitled to his opinion.  I do not share it. Neither do I read the Toronto Sun nor the National Post.

As writers, we can only stay with the truth as we see it, strive for balance and build some hope. Sure, we have our bias, but as long as we recognize our bias, we can wrap it in good humour, fairness and compassion.

I also treasure the comments from my readers. I am sorry I do not display these comments for other readers. Most are positive, some controversial and a few scathing but I am never sure if the writer might regret something said casually. And maybe, I am a bit selfish. If you want a soapbox to disagree with me, get your own!

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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On sharing atonement and thanks.

October 12th, 2019 by Peter Lowry

Living in central Ontario, we see the changing of color in the leaves as Thanksgiving and Yom Kippur are celebrated. I have often thought that Christians and Jews should share those days as we all have much to atone for and much to give thanks. This year we might never be able to atone for our political situation but we can be thankful that the election is almost over and we can go back to our normal complaining.

It is unlikely that we can ever atone for the way we have mistreated our aboriginal peoples but Canadians are getting tired of all the apologies and no real action. We need a ‘let’s fix it’ attitude in Ottawa.

I have never understood why people think slander should be punished and then allow opponents and third parties to smear real or imagined opponents in an election? I think Canadians have the right to expect civilized debate both on the hustings and in Ottawa. Sneaking in a nasty comment is not civilized debate!

In a career of writing news releases, speeches and newsletters, I have always found that there are far more ways to write the truth. It is only the lazy writer who needs to resort to lies.

I do not think I have ever been so embarrassed by my fellow Canadians than in this election. This is the first federal election I can recall where I have not heard a single complaint or query from voters about international affairs. Canada is a major trading nation boys and girls and that does not happen by accident.

Our people at the United Nations have been working hard to get Canada elected to the Security Council. News of this federal election is making Canada a laughing stock instead. And if we accidently elect the conservatives, you can count on our taking a harder hit when Scheer cuts our pitiful foreign aid budget by 25 per cent.

And I know that a lot of people are counting on a minority government after October 21. You should be careful what you wish for. Under our system of voting, it is almost impossible to cause a minority government. It can happen, but you cannot plan it!

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Singh’s sendoff into the sunset.

October 11th, 2019 by Peter Lowry

New democratic party leader Jagmeet Singh is not going quietly. He caught some wind in his sails from that disgrace of an English debate this past week and is running with it. It was such a bad debate that Singh came out looking better than usual. And yet, it is the cruelest of deceptions to think he is on a level playing field with the two major parties in the election. Reality will return.

And reality is that we can expect the Orange Wave to be washed from the Quebec electoral scene. Few seats in Quebec will hold for the NDP? The NDP are going back to Ottawa with a greatly depleted number of seats. How many less is the question?

There is no future for a third-party leader to go through the election insulting the two leading party leaders. All it does is emphasize the futility of his position. It makes him sound mean and angry. It says to loyal NDPers that a vote for their new democratic candidate is just aiding a less progressive party candidate.

It is admittedly more difficult for a third-party leader to stay above the fray when the two leading contenders are constantly reminding the voters of each other’s weaknesses. In the end, it just turns off the voters to both.

Babel-on-the-Bay is hardly the only progressive commentary that refers to the conservative leader as ‘Chuckles.’ The man looks like a clown and often acts like one.

The biggest laughs in this federal campaign, at least in Ontario, are that the conservative leader can actually campaign in this province without ever mentioning our conservative premier Doug Ford. Wait until you see how fat Ford is getting, sitting in his Queen’s Park office and fuming. He hardly took out a gym membership during the legislature’s extended holiday.

But Doug Ford will recover and Jagmeet Singh might not. My guess is that the NDP will soon be looking for another saviour. I hear there is a former Alberta NDP premier looking for a challenge.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Voting and Thanksgiving.

October 10th, 2019 by Peter Lowry

I am voting in Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte this weekend. And I am voting for the liberal candidate. My sense of this riding is that the green candidate is taking some votes from both the liberals and new democrats. That combination will give the riding to another do-nothing conservative.

I expect that situation to be duplicated in a few other Eastern electoral districts and is why the liberals are looking at the possibility of a minority government. If the trend continues to grow, it could change that liberal minority to a conservative minority. A minority conservative government might not last long but we can cross that bridge if we have the bad luck to get to it.

Some ridings are talking strategic voting to ward off that situation but when you have never seen strategic voting work, it seems pointless.

The problem is that the country has never been so divided. Voters came out of that English-language debate confused and angry. There is a heavy line drawn down the Ontario/Manitoba border with an arrow pointed east saying ‘liberal’ and an arrow pointed west saying ‘conservative.’ The only problem for the conservatives is that there is another line drawn down the Rockies that says ‘We do not want your bloody bitumen.’

And this is the position that British Columbia voters have always dreamed of: deciding Canadian elections. With 42 seats to be decided, a unified effort in B.C. could not only determine which party forms the government but determine the fate of the Trans Mountain pipeline.

Just remember some observations from the east. Not much change is being forecast in the Atlantic provinces. The conservative and new democratic parties are in trouble in Quebec. The main beneficiary there will be the liberals. The conservatives are in play in rural Ontario and the liberals favoured in the cities.

Think of it as a train crossing into Manitoba from Ontario with at least 140 liberals, maybe 70 conservatives and a few NDP. The conservatives pick up some friends while the train crosses the Prairies.

It is B.C. that holds the balance.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Another bad night for Canadian democracy.

October 9th, 2019 by Peter Lowry

When will we treat these election debates as what they are? When they told us that there would be six leadership hopefuls and five moderators for the one English-language debate, we knew trouble was coming. It would have been much better to drop some of the moderators and pay a competent sound engineer. No viewer needs to listen to the babble of people trying to shout over each other.

And what were all those ’moderators’ running for?

Lisa LaFlamme of CTV got my vote for just acting professional. Maybe she had the easiest job at the beginning and the end. We were certainly glad to see her end the event.

Althia Raj of HuffPost won the award for being the coolest moderator.

You would expect someone with the CBC’s Rosemary Barton’s experience to help ease the confusion about what is going on. Since the audience is expected to make sense of what people are saying, it would help if the rules were explained to the audience—as well as the supposed leaders.

But then, there seem to be too many confusing rules at these events. Susan Delacourt of the Toronto Star was the only moderator who seemed to be unsure of why she was there.

The only moderator who seemed to show a bias was the normally stony Dawna Friesen of Global Television. Maybe it is because I have watched her interview Justin Trudeau at various times and I sense that she does not like him.

The best idea of the night was from Elizabeth May when she mentioned a financial transaction tax. Canadians deserve an airing of that idea. This is a logical extension of the GST into banking and financial institutions that is long overdue in Canada. We have too many sacred cows in this country that are not paying their way.

The best line of the night was Jagmeet Singh’s reference to Trudeau and Scheer as “Mr. Delay and Mr. Deny.” It is a common enough perception. Whomever gave him that line did him a favour. It would even be more effective if Singh was not saying one thing to Quebec and something else to English Canada.

All I can add about the torture of that English debate is that we certainly have a long way to go to get it right!

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

The Morning Line: 43rd Canadian General Election

October 8th, 2019 by Peter Lowry

Welcome to Babel-on-the-Bay’s starting point in understanding the coming election. Bear in mind that these are starting odds only. There will likely be changes by election day. Be sure you get full odds on any of your wagers.

And, believe me, this is not a simple calculation. It has never been more difficult. In the past five years there have been far too many surprise elections. It made us question our judgement. It certainly made us question the judgement of the voters. Our guess is that it is most unlikely that any party can win a majority of seats as a result of this election. The odds are for the possibility of any party forming a majority government.

Liberal Party: 2 to 5 – Likely Seats: 152

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau has neither justified all his actions nor quieted concerns but he is the best choice for prime minister in a weak field. His Johnny Appleseed scattering of goodies during the campaign did him little good. He needs to stay close to home and learn what leadership means over the next four years.

Conservative Party: 3 to 5 – Likely Seats: 145

This was Andrew Scheer’s race to win until voters got to know him. He is not the choirboy he says he is. As he is unlikely to win, the conservative knives will be out for him on his return to Ottawa.

Green Party: 9 to 5 – Likely Seats: 18

Elizabeth May’s greens are coming on strong and are likely to replace the NDP as the third party after this election. She needs to learn that voters can remember one or two promises but when the promises come by the bushel, the memory no longer functions well.

New Democratic Party: 15 to 1 – Likely Seats: 15

Jagmeet Singh is going to rue the day he swamped Canadian  NDP membership to steal the leadership of a dying party. If only he knew where they wanted to go!

Bloc Québécois: 50 to 1 – Likely Seats: 8

Leader Yves-François Blanchet stepped up to bring the leaderless Quebec party into this election. He will get the troublemaker vote from Quebec’s aging rural separatists for a pointless four years.

People’s Party of Canada: 100 to 1 – Seats: 0

Leader Maxime Bernier came second to Andrew Scheer for the conservative leadership. He is a libertarian and a loser.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Jason Kenney: Doug Ford’s understudy.

October 7th, 2019 by Peter Lowry

Every actor needs an understudy. It just seems appropriate for the much-detested premier Doug Ford in Ontario to have a truly obnoxious stand-in during the federal election. It is conservative leader Andrew Sheer’s good buddy, Jason Kenney, premier of Alberta, who was standing in for premier Ford this past weekend.

It seems that nobody trusts Ford to behave. What makes them think Jason Kenney is housebroken is open to question?

But real conservatives love Kenney. He is a misogynist, selfish, mean-spirited and a global warming denier. Since he was at a Catholic college in San Francisco, he has shown his dislike for women. He is a social conservative but insists on calling his upcoming budget slashing in his province by the more diplomatic words: fiscal restraint.

To put it simply, Kenney thinks he can hide the fact he is a weasel by telling people he is really a loveable koala. He has the majority of Alberta voters convinced he is the second coming of Peter Lougheed. They think he is going to get the Trans Mountain pipeline twinned so that the province can ship diluted bitumen to Pacific nations and carry on the free ride for Alberta taxpayers while the foreign owners of their tar sands companies get rich.

It was reported that when Kenney was in Toronto, he was busy campaigning at Buddhist temples and checking out the dim sum at local restaurants.

But while campaigning for the conservative candidate in Doug Ford’s federal riding, Doug Ford was nowhere to be seen. In helping that conservative candidate in Ford’s riding, Kenney was campaigning against Ford’s late brother Rob’s widow, who is running for the People’s party. It is assumed that not everything has been patched up between Ford and his sister-in-law.

Jason Kenney also visited Ottawa while he was in Ontario. This might just have been nostalgia for the time Kenney was playing a role in the Harper government—a much bigger pond than the Alberta legislature.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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