‘Dougie did it!’

March 3rd, 2021 by Peter Lowry

Mother did not like those words. The youngest of my brothers was Douglas. Of the six kids, he was mother’s pride and joy. She hated to hear the words, ‘Dougie did it’ from everything such as a raid on the cookies to blood splatter. I think she stopped blaming the rest of us when her Douglas got his doctoral degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

I was thinking of that the other day when the Doug of Ford family fame and premier of Ontario stuck his foot in another barn yard plop. This is the new Highway 413 that is being proposed for the area west of Toronto.

This proposed toll highway is also known as the Toronto West corridor and goes from about nowhere to nowhere important. It is supposed to go from one of the most crowded highway corridors in Ontario, which is the Toronto to Kitchener stretch of Highway 401, to the most crowded stretch of Highway 400 in the City of Vaughan.

It is enough to make you wish that premier Doug had not fled higher learning after only two months of Humber College. He wanted to be the super salesman of his father’s decals.

Highway 413 might just be the most useless highway Ontario has ever wanted to build. And here we all thought that Highway 407/412 was going to be the last of the toll roads in the province. To keep giving away highways to private interests to bleed us for money is ridiculous. I have never understood a toll road that costs you more than that new SUV you buy every few years.

About the only excuse for the billions to be wasted on the project is as a favour to premier Doug’s developer friends. The proposed route of the highway is through some of Ontario’s most prosperous farmland, greenbelt, the Paris-Galt moraine, crowded urban development and supposedly protected wetlands.

Reading about this disaster reminded me to call my brother Doug in Ohio to see how he was doing in the pandemic. He used to be pastor of a village Presbyterian church in that part of Ontario. Times, premiers. pastors and highways change.

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Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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Being ‘Just Erin’ won’t cut it.

March 2nd, 2021 by Peter Lowry

It seems that conservative leader Erin O’Toole is not just an unknown to Canadian taxpayers. His own caucus in Ottawa is just as much in the dark as are the voters. The conservative MPs are puzzled as to where he intends to lead their party.

Some of the more reliable reporters in Ottawa are starting to ask questions. And if the conservative party is going to start running pre-election ads on television saying he is ‘Just Erin,’ they might just dig a deeper hole than they are already in.

The conservative caucus is already in a pandemic slump. And all they are getting, after six months of their new leader, is confused messages. It seems that O’Toole used the extreme right wing of the right-wing party to win the leadership. Since then, he has tried to sell himself as more of a ‘middle of the road’ kind of guy.

A middle-of-the-road kind of guy is someone without a clue where he is headed.

The worst surprise the caucus had to absorb was the demotion of Pierre Poilievre from finance critic. Pierre had proved himself a pit bull in the position. His replacement is more the grandfatherly type. What that is communicating to voters remains to be seen.

But ‘Just Erin’ might reveal all at the upcoming virtual convention of the party on policy. This is scheduled for March and the party’s extremists on the right have been quietly snapping up the invites. Not knowing how the event is to work, or not work, as the case might be, there is no telling what will happen when everybody virtually meets.

When conservative MPs have a chance to get together in Ottawa, there seems to be a lot of quiet conversations about what they can do to save their seats in parliament. Mind you that does not include the boys and girls from Alberta and Saskatchewan who are practically guaranteed to return.

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Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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Is Trump just a tool of QAnon?

March 1st, 2021 by Peter Lowry

I love conspiracy theories. I delight in challenging them. Some of the stories you hear from the United States these days are not being spread to generate amusement but many are quite funny.

I am puzzled by the the basic tenet of QAnon. They say that the world is really managed by a bunch of Satanists, who abuse children. How these devil worshipers manage to have time to abuse children while trying to run the world is an unanswered question. Mind you with the shape of the world these days, it is easier to blame others than take any responsibility yourself.

But over the past four years that we have been hearing all this false news, I thought that Donald Trump was their hero and leader? Is he not their leader? Are they trading the Donald in on a newer model? I am sure he was counting on all those people to get him a second term. Nobody stole that election from him but himself.

Watching that awful scene in Washington on January  6,  did not make for a pleasant afternoon. It was certainly not something you see everyday. If I had been a Capital policeman, I would have shot that guy with the horns. I think his head, complete with horns, needed to be mounted over the speaker’s chair in the senate chamber. It would serve as notice to fools everywhere not to disrupt the senators’ afternoon naps.

I think the Donald left the white house in a snit. Actually, it was a Marine helicopter. I guess that was a final perc of office.

But it is not. He is on the payroll for life. He even gets money for a library. The true need for his library would be a professional collection of every lie he told Americans over his four years in the white house.

There is also the possibility that his library could do some good. If he could just gather together in readable form every entry he ever made in social media on the Internet, it would be of service to mankind. There are many of us who would never want to waste our time plowing through that morass of egotism and ignorance. After all, Mr. Trump now has nothing but time on his hands.

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Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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Kenney opts for debt over taxes.

February 28th, 2021 by Peter Lowry

It seems obvious that premier Jason Kenney of Alberta is a strange sort of conservative. His and previous conservative regimes in Alberta have managed to piss away another fortune in resources royalties because of their fear of balanced taxing of the voters of Alberta.

It is hard to compare the handing of health care and the provincial budget but Jason Kenney’s incompetents have screwed up both. Instead of working with the medical profession to fight the pandemic, Kenney fights with the doctors. Instead of introducing a harmonized sales tax with the federal sales tax, Kenney would rather stick the province with unconscionable levels of debt.

It was not that long ago that the former premier Peter Lougheed in Alberta was warning the citizens about abusing their resource funds but his latter-day conservatives have ignored his warnings. When you compare what the Norwegians have done with their sovereign fund from their off-shore oil, it paints a picture for Alberta of what might have been.

But it is now time for Albertans to get in line with the rest of the provinces. The province can no longer consider the rest of us as suckers to go along with sales taxes. Those who can afford the biggest and latest in SUVs can pay their share of the both the sales tax and the carbon tax at the pumps.

And Kenney can hardly continue to waste taxpayers’ money and his hot air on promoting pipelines. They are not going to happen. The resistance to pipelines is growing. A critical example is the dual line (Enbridge Line 5) that has been pumping gas and oil across the Straits of Mackinac since 1953.

After the experience Michigan had with the 2010 Enbridge spill that was impossible to clean up on the Kalamazoo River, the state realized a similar spill in the critical area of the Straits of Mackinac would be catastrophic. It would not only have a disastrous effect on Michigan’s economy but would seriously harm the main source of fresh water for five other states as well as Ontario and Quebec.

While Enbridge might have the best of intentions, the Michigan authorities are increasingly dubious of Enbridge’s tunneling solution under the straits.

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Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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The Lion Baulks on the Yellow Brick Road.

February 27th, 2021 by Peter Lowry

On the road to the coming federal election, none of the other parties should count on Jagmeet Singh’s new democrats to support their call. Singh, the lion from Brampton, Ontario, has said he will back the liberal government until the pandemic has been beaten. And that might take a while.

But then Singh has replaced courage with caution. The name he uses might mean ‘lion’ in Punjabi but he thinks that it is better to keep fighting the coronavirus with the liberals in power. He is probably right even though the liberals have rejected his condition that they back the NDP’s motion to enshrine a universal pharmacare program in legislation.

The liberals have been talking around a universal pharmacare program for some time now but there are no promises yet in their agenda. They are probably saving it for the election.

And whether Singh is ready or not, there will be an election. There is little chance that it can wait until the fall of 2022. Given completion of at least 60 per cent of vaccinations across Canada by August, you can probably count on an election in October. That is just eight months away and all parties are scrambling to be ready.

Singh will probably think the image of Tommy Douglas and Medicare will help the NDP but the facts are that it was the liberals who finally made it happen.

On this subject, it was amusing to see a letter arrive at our home today addressed to the wife. It was from Ottawa and signed by Justin Trudeau. There was a cardboard card attached to it that looked very much like a blood donor card. In fact, it said ‘2021 DONOR in big red letters. That was a bit presumptuous as neither of us pay any more than brief attention to all the e-mails, phone calls and mailings from the Ottawa office pleading with us to send money.

All political parties in Canada need to start treating their supporters with a little more respect. They are probably going to need our support in October.

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Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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Biden is ahead of Trudeau on climate.

February 26th, 2021 by Peter Lowry

Hey Joe, what did you think of the hypocrisy you got from Trudeau during your virtual summit on Tuesday? One of the first items of business when you became U.S. president was ending that Keystone XL pipeline that was designed to take Canadian bitumen from the Alberta tar sands to the Texas gulf coast tanker ports. Did the Canadian prime minister mention to you he is still twinning the TransMountain pipeline to take bitumen to the tanker access in the Burrard Inlet at Vancouver?

If you were really congratulating each other on your being environmentalists, Trudeau is letting the side down. Many of us in Canada are annoyed with him about that. He not only spent C$4 billion buying the 67-year-old pipeline that runs from Edmonton to Vancouver but cost estimates for the twinning of the line are now running at an additional C$12.6 billion. The government is hoping that they can get 20 years at least out of the dual pipeline with revenues of C$1.5 billion per year. (The company has signed contracts for this much.)

While everyone involved is proud of the performance of this old pipeline for so long, they are really stretching the envelope. The difference when you are pushing diluted bitumen through the pipes is that you are heating the bitumen and pushing it at considerably higher pressure.

But Canadians are not just concerned about the possibility of a pipeline leak and fouling of the fresh waters for the people of British Columbia and northern Washington State. The heavy traffic of ocean tankers through the Georgia Straits is an extreme concern for the orcas and other whales that summer in the area.

All we know is that the supreme court in Ottawa does not want any more appeals to stop the twinning of the pipeline. The appeals have failed us. The construction is in process. Short of laying our bodies in front of the construction equipment, there is little we can do.

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Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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Andrea Horwath has an easy job.

February 25th, 2021 by Peter Lowry

Other than being insulted occasionally by Ontario’s premier-in-training, the new democrat’s Andrea Horwath seems to enjoy her continuing role as leader of the opposition at Queen’s Park. The biggest complaint we have heard about her recently is that they never answer the phones in her riding office in Hamilton. You would think with a $4 million budget for the opposition offices at Queen’s Park, she could get her phones answered.

But she is going to have to enjoy her role for now. It is due for a change.

What Horwath and the new democrats do not seem to understand is that what ever supposed electoral successes they have enjoyed over the past twelve years of her holding down the leader role, it was never her accomplishment. Horwath remains an unknown and uninspiring leader of a party mired in the past. Every gain she has made in the elections, during her leadership, have been courtesy the liberal party and its hapless leadership.

Horwath’s first premier as NDP leader was Dalton McGuinty. He was not called premier dad for no reason. It was not a compliment. He was on his last legs as head of the liberals at that time. He might have been an uninspiring premier but Ontario had gained by the environmentalism his party exhibited.

Kathleen Wynne got a majority back in the 2014 election and took the party further down hill every day she was in office. She actually threw the 2018 election by surrendering before election day. She betrayed her party. She left Andrea Horwath to face off against populist conservative Doug Ford.

You have to admit that Doug Ford might be a faster learner than Andrea Horwath. He makes classic mistakes but the problem is that Andrea Horwath has been unable to capitalize on them.

Ford pointed out last week that Horwath was more annoying than anything else. She is unable to get around that pompous ass of a premier. She needs to stop whining and learn to make fun of him. He can be made a subject of ridicule. It is just that Horwath does not know how.

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Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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Canada doesn’t need a Governor General.

February 24th, 2021 by Peter Lowry

Not since the ‘King-Byng-Thing’ in the 1920s has Canada needed a governor general. The conflict between the prime minister and the governor general of the time, resulted in the Statute of Westminster of 1931 that emancipated Canada and other former colonies of the United Kingdom. It also made the post of governor general a merely ceremonial position.

And yet we get these die-hard monarchists around Canada who think the role is important. To do what? So that they can tell school children about the monarchy? So that they can advise the prime minister, who will do what he or she wants to do, in any event?

This is not to say we have not had some very intelligent, worthy people in the role. My favourite was Madame Jeanne Sauvé. She served as governor general from 1984 to 1990.She was a very fine and intelligent lady. And I was always amused that her husband, Maurice, was allowed to be seen but not heard from at official functions.

But Julie Payette is not the first G-G to put her foot in it. Canada has had both good and bad experience since confederation. Payette was just the first to be fired. There were just too many complaints. If you cannot keep the peace in Rideau Hall, why would you want to stay in the job?

But no more, please.

We do not need a governor general. It might be a good job for a career diplomat such as Vincent Massey (G-G from 1952 to 1959) in honour of his service to his country. We do not have a very good honours system in Canada.

We have got supreme court justice Richard Wagner in the role today in an acting capacity. I will bet he is quite competent to read a throne speech and sign-up new cabinet ministers. It would only take a bit of time from his more important role as chief justice.

You have to admit that a bit of pomp and ceremony adds something to the Ottawa scene. It would be even better though to start with competence.

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Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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Damaged Democracy.

February 23rd, 2021 by Peter Lowry

It is catching on. This writer is delighted that more and more Canadians are starting to question our commitment to democracy. Many point to the United States and say, ‘Boy, isn’t that democracy a mess. The bad news is that our mess is no better than theirs. It is just not as divisive.

What Donald Trump did to democracy in the United States over the past four years was in plain sight. It was because he had little understanding of political processes and the use of the levers of politics or where they are located. That weakness was key to the Biden-Harris victory last November.

The difference in Canada is that people who do understand the levers of politics are undermining the political parties themselves and destroying them from within. Who are these malefactors? You know them. Their names are Stephen Harper, Justin Trudeau and Tom Mulcair.

Stephen Harper never seemed to like the political party that Peter Mackay brought to him when they combined it with alliance-reform to create their new conservative party of Canada. Even without a majority at first, Harper created a fortress prime minister’s office (PMO) that treated the party membership with a fair amount of scorn.

When Justin Trudeau ended the Harper era, he did Harper one better. He abolished the senate liberals and the membership structure of the liberal party. He did not like either. There are those who refer to the current enrolment of what is left of the party as Trudeau’s ATM. They are just a source of funds. He fails to understand that these people are the core of party workers, listening posts in the electoral districts, sources of ideas and future MPs.

And then there was Tom Mulcair of the NDP who might have done better as a liberal. He left a hollowed-out and dispirited party for Jagmeet Singh to swamp with Sikh memberships and walk away with the leadership. He leads a party that time and Canadians have forgotten.

Susan Delacourt wrote a book recently about Shopping for Votes that tries to explain the new consumer approach and treatment of voters. I think it is more complex than that, but that would make another book on it a tough sell.

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Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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The silence of Doug Ford’s lambs.

February 22nd, 2021 by Peter Lowry

Sometime in the next couple months, the province of Ontario is expected to offer me the opportunity to get one or two jabs with a needle. This knowledge alone is helping to lift me out of some of my covid-19 doldrums. As I am considered to be among the more vulnerable citizens and supposedly have early access in getting the shot(s), I have been waiting for a call.

But my hopes were somewhat dashed the other day by writer Martin Regg Cohn at the Toronto Star. He says that all we are hearing is static about the arrangements. Nobody at Queen’s Park has any information for us.

And we have already heard enough from the prime minister. Justin Trudeau knows nothing about the problems facing a company making something as complex as a vaccine. It is not his fault that there are no Canadian vaccines yet available. He has placed orders with everyone now delivering and soon to be delivering. He has done his job. There are always a few glitches in delivery.

But there is no excuse for the people in Ontario who are supposed to vaccinate us. A delay in product reaching them is no time for them to sit back and carp about the incompetence of the feds. It is an opportunity for them to get their act together and make sure that everyone is ready to get their shot in the correct order.

Many had a good laugh about them bringing in the army. Personally, I would have called in Purolator. At least those people have a better idea of how to reach anybody and everybody in the province. You bring in the army when you want order and discipline, maybe someone shot—or to shovel their snow.

But why are they not spending this time getting organized? Why are they not arranging the place, who’s wielding the hypodermics, and letting us know? And bear in mind that this first squadron of people to be poked are not those you would ask to stand in line for long. These are people with health problems and maybe age working against them. And for goodness sake, do not order them around. They might fight back.

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Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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