Musing on Maxime’s Maxims.

August 15th, 2018 by Peter Lowry

Maxime Bernier MP does not endear himself. It is not so much his conservatism as his libertarianism. I have met some pretty far right Quebec politicians before but Bernier likes to use his ideas for shock and awe. It gets him lots of media coverage—not all good.

Bernier rides the razor’s edge of racism. He is definitely tribal but he sees no future in being tied to the Parti Québécois. The left-wing péquistes have little appeal. Even the conservative comers in the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) are not far enough to the right for him. He has national ambitions anyway.

If it were not for the foolish system of voting in that last federal conservative party race, he might be leader of the conservative party of Canada today. Instead the system drilled the party down to mediocrity in multiple ballots and they got ‘Chuckles’ Scheer of Saskatchewan instead.

It is that mediocrity in leadership that has saved Bernier from being bounced from the party. Instead of sending the loudmouth to Coventry, Scheer just freed him to spread discontent among the party. Just one more wrong step for Scheer at a time when Justin Trudeau is becoming more vulnerable.

Bernier’s latest faux pas is to accuse prime minister Trudeau of “radical multiculturalism”—whatever the hell that is? It seems Bernier is concerned that the PM is encouraging a lot of smaller tribes instead of the more traditional English-French tribes. Since Bernier and Trudeau are on equal footing with the English-French tribes, it looks like Bernier does not want anyone else in the running.

Bernier complained the other day about these “little tribes” created by Trudeau are causing division. He seems to see them as failing to accept North American values. He complains that they do not immediately appreciate our freedoms and are less eager to accept our openness and tolerance.

I do not know where Bernier grew up but I grew up in Toronto and I watched many of my friends’ immigrant parents struggle with what some saw as the licentious nature of our society. It was tough for them and all we could do for them was to be understanding and recognize why they felt as they did.

To-day, we look at the second and third generation of those families and we see the value that they brought to this country. We are long past Maxime Bernier’s English-French divide. He needs to look around.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

The Copenhagen Syndrome.

August 14th, 2018 by Peter Lowry

You have probably heard of the Stockholm Syndrome. The Copenhagen Syndrome is only different in that it is for people to learn to love bicycles–instead of the people keeping them captive. The Copenhagen Syndrome is prevalent in Toronto these days because nobody seems to understand the difference in climate and topography between the two cities.

Toronto is a winter city. I will never forget the winter of 1944 when we got more than a metre of snow in one dump and it took us two months to clear all our streets. You certainly could not have gone far with a bicycle back then. Yet, people insist that Torontonians should ride bicycles just like those in the Danish capital.

Copenhagen is a fun city. If you have never been there, I can assure you Copenhagen is beautiful city with a climate tempered by being by the straits connecting the Baltic Sea and the North Sea. It has a very busy year-round harbour. Many people ride bicycles around the city of over half a million because it is a mainly flat island with few hills to challenge the cyclists.

Yes, Copenhagen gets some snow each winter but nothing that stays very long. There is nowhere near as much snow and ice as Toronto. Rainfall is another matter but Danes seem very stoic about getting wet. I always enjoyed my visits to the city, yet never had time to ride a bicycle while there.

But Toronto has more obstacles to pleasant biking than just rotten weather. From the level of Lake Ontario to the highest point of land in Toronto is the equivalent of trying to ride a bicycle to the top of a 40-storey building. No matter how many ramps you used, that is a tough trip. (By the way, the highest point in the city is at York University on Keele Street. It is all downhill from there.)

But in a city four times the size of Copenhagen, with all Toronto’s hills and valleys, it is mainly children who ride bicycles on their neighbourhood streets. We never did develop a culture of bicycles, cars and trucks sharing the main roads.

And Torontonians are not doing well at it today. If you want to protect cyclists from getting ‘doored’ or run over, you need to get them off the busy downtown streets. We get all types of lost tourists driving in that area and they have no understanding why cyclists have any rights to the roads.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

CAPP: Canadian Association for Petroleum Propaganda.

August 13th, 2018 by Peter Lowry

Donald Trump could take lessons from the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP). These people have been feeding propaganda to Canadians for years. And they are getting better at their job. They work for the companies exploiting Canada’s tar sands.

It is rumoured that they get together for a prayer meeting every workday morning. Their favourite prayer is supposed to be something like, “Dear Lord please bring Alberta just one more oil boom. We promise not to piss the profits away this time, like we did with the other oil booms.”

But their problem is that this boom is in tar sands. It is not oil. As much as they always call it oil, it is a long way from becoming oil. This stuff should be left in the ground. It pollutes. Big time. Just getting the tarry stuff separated from the sand and stones takes a lot of hot water. They end up with settling ponds all over the Athabasca and Cold Lake tar sands area that are a constant hazard to wild life.

The problems do not end there. The CAPP people figured it out a long time ago that if they processed the tar sands stuff into synthetic crude oil in Alberta, the province would soon be uninhabitable. That would be a terrible thing to do to such a beautiful part of our country.

They found there were two basic problems. The first was that processing created more than three times the carbon pollution in the air than that of crude oil processing. It also left behind very large piles of bitumen slag—which is mostly carbon.

The solution was to find ways to get the tar sands gunk to ocean going tankers that could take it to third world countries that did not care about the pollution. At the end of the Energy East pipeline, for example, Irving Oil promised the pipeline people that they would build a shipping dock for them. Irving Oil does not want to pollute New Brunswick either. The pipeline to Kitimat in B.C. was rejected but there was still the old Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain line that could be twinned and transport almost four times the diluted tar sands gunk to Burrard Inlet in B.C.

And as things stand today, the CAPP propagandists are still praying and working their trade. The pipelines are being readied. And don’t you just love their cute television commercials that promote something like “help make Alberta rich again by spending $11 billion to $12 billion of Canadian taxpayers’ money on the Trans Mountain pipeline.”

And we are the suckers who were supposed to freeze in the dark?

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Disciplining the diplomacy of diplomats.

August 12th, 2018 by Peter Lowry

She might be a bit smaller in stature but foreign affairs minister Chrystia Freeland is head-over-heels ahead of a conservative predecessor John Baird. Baird was something of an embarrassment throughout his tenure during the Harper era. And if Freeland knew enough to stay away from Twitter, we could give her even higher marks.

Who does she think she is; Donald Trump?

Freeland recently used Twitter to piss off the Saudis. How stupid could that be? What the hell does she think is the reason for countries having access to diplomatic channels?

Twitter is for children and show-offs. Twitter is for bad jokes. Twitter is for people who need to get a life. It is not a channel for diplomats.

If you really want to tell those Wahhabi Sunnis in Riyadh what you think of them, tell them to their face. A true Wahhabi knows that you are an infidel scorned by Allah and even worse, to them, you are just a woman. Why should those Bedouins give a damn what you think?

Your strength, as a diplomat, is in the country you represent. And you are representing a country that is recognized and respected around the world for its progressiveness in technology, in human rights, in respecting the ecology and its democracy.

And, it is why they will listen to you. If it is Canada speaking to them, they will listen. Their country might be barely out of the 19th century but they do understand our arguments in favour of human rights. Both countries gain by us training many of their medical specialists. And there are other areas of mutual interest.

This does not include our sell-through of American armoured vehicles. The fiction of those vehicles as Canadian is one that neither nation needs.

Admittedly, it is diplomacy that helps keep the world’s economics running smoothly.

And we should never forget that a very important venue for diplomacy is just down the road in New York. It is the United Nations. If you are worried about the Saudis threatening the peace in the middle east, take you concerns to the United Nations. Those diplomats enjoy a good squabble.

But never forget that it was the Brits who brought the Saudis out of the middle ages about 100 years ago. They are still a couple centuries behind. If we keep the proper diplomatic pressure on them, they just might listen.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

A summer of silly slogans.

August 11th, 2018 by Peter Lowry

It has to be this hot summer. It is either that or we have some of the stupidest politicians in the world right here in tropical Ontario. Premier Ford and a few of his political cronies took a road trip—with news media in tow—back down the Highway of Heroes to Prince Edward County the other day. It was all in aid of a silly slogan about “A buck a beer.”

The conservative politicians—in their suits and ties—were heading for a beer pub down the highway that had agreed to their doing a political stand-up comedy routine there for “A buck a beer.” In the news clips produced at the small brew pub, Dougie and his buddies looked like idiots handling craft-beer cans back and forth.

Dougie kept spouting this silly suggestion that beer drinkers will be able to pay just a buck for a beer by Labour Day weekend. If they saw it, millions of Ontario beer drinkers must have been wondering what Dougie was drinking.

Nobody in their right mind was going to believe that any brew pub could afford to sell their product to the public for just a buck a beer. Nor was anyone so gullible as to think the foreign owners of the commercial brands in Ontario were about to give away their traditional brews for just a buck a beer. If you can tell me were I can get a two-four of Molson for just $24 plus deposit, I will be in line right behind you.

The point is—for anyone who would like to believe Dougie—the Ontario government does set the minimum price for beer in Ontario. They do that to encourage something called “responsible drinking.” The province also imposes what is sometimes referred to as a “sin’ tax or an alcohol tax. This charge for being booze is in addition to the usual harmonized sales tax that is split between the feds and province—as well as the fed’s ‘sin’ tax.

But, surprise, surprise, our Dougie is not even considering lowering any taxes. No sir. He wants full measure from the sin taxes to allow him to create tax savings for his fellow millionaires.

He obviously thinks the Liquor Control Board of Ontario will strong-arm one or two craft brewers into doing a ‘Buck a Beer’ promotion through the liquor stores for Labour Day weekend. You should not expect stocks of $1 beer (plus deposit) to last through the Saturday of the long weekend.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

The vengeance of the vegans.

August 10th, 2018 by Peter Lowry

The Toronto subway system is a special place to me. It was many years ago that my first job in advertising was selling advertising space in the subway. I loved it. It was not that I was a great salesperson but I was creative. I would dream up ads for likely sponsors and take it to the prospect, telling them how many thousand people per day would see this ad. It worked and I soon had the entire system of the time sold out.

But what I was not allowed to sell was to religious or political organizations. And to that I would have included the foolishness of Veganism. I have a few nieces who tell me they are vegan but all I have noted is that the dear girls look emaciated. I worry about them.

Not that I would say anything negative to them about this vegan business. They also know their favourite uncle takes his role at the head of the food chain seriously and they respect my decision. They know they will have to pry that last hamburger from my cold, dead hands.

That is not a scream of pain when you drop that lobster into a pot of boiling water. It is a shout of joy that the lobster can now be served with drawn butter to honour the succulent nature of the crustacean.

Since pigs really do not fly, they can come on my plate as tender ribs or roasts, chops or sausages. While some people think of the Black Angus steer as magnificent beast, I see him as steaks primed for the barbecue, roasts for the oven and hamburgers for the grill. And it is the grocers’ dairy counters that host the proteins of life.

But if I have one serious question about this vegan business, I would like to know why these people are pushing their peculiar fetish on others. What is their objective? Why are they trying to spread the pain?

Some people think their ads are silly but cute. I do not even think they are cute. When humans emerged from the vagueness of eons of history, it was their ability to put those animals to use, adding to the strength of the humans that created civilization. We have come a long way because of that relationship.

There is no need to be silly about it.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Can Singh sing a new song in Burnaby?

August 9th, 2018 by Peter Lowry

It is now confirmed that new democratic party leader Jagmeet Singh will try for a seat in the House of Commons this fall. The facts are that the guy has not drawn a salary for over a year now. He has gotten married and he might need a couple new bespoke suits. He could have possibly run in Montreal in Tom Mulcair’s old seat of Outremont or a formerly conservative-held seat in Grenville-Dundas-Thousand Islands in Ontario, but he has decided the safest seat is in South-Burnaby in British Columbia.

But while that might be the safest seat for an NDP, Singh had to finally come out against the Trans Mountain pipeline. It was the end of sitting on the fence between premier John Horgan’s BC NDP and premier Rachel Notley’s Alberta NDP.

South-Burnaby voters will likely have a clear choice. No liberal has been selected yet but whoever runs for the government party will be standing on Justin Trudeau’s shoulders. The greens and conservatives might as well stand back and let the liberals and NDP have at it! This will be a referendum on the newly government-owned Trans Mountain pipeline. The $7 to $11 billion enhancement project is designed to bring more of the Alberta tar sands products to Burnaby for loading on ocean tankers.

The only reason Kennedy Stewart is not representing the seat is that he is in the running for mayor of Vancouver. In Vancouver, they do not have party politics in the traditional Canadian manner. The current election pits the progressives against the combined conservatives and right-wing liberals.

My bet is on Stewart for mayor of that wonderful city.

South-Burnaby is considered to be one of the most ethnically diverse electoral districts in Canada, competing with many ridings in Toronto for that distinction. Prime minister Trudeau remains very strong in ethnically diverse areas and that alone could make this by-election a toss-up.

The one thing that Singh might not be prepared for in this situation is to lose. And he could. The ethnic make-up of the electoral district is only listed as 16 per cent south Asian and Sikhs are only a part of that group. It will be an interesting test of Singh’s appeal to other ethnic groups. Singh will also be considered an eastern carpetbagger who will not have any long-term interest in the people there.

Jagmeet Singh might be biting off too much.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Trump trumpets truth?

August 8th, 2018 by Peter Lowry

Every time you see president Trump at one of his campaign rallies, the people around him are all too busy with their cell phones to pay any attention to him. It makes you wonder what the point is of these rallies. Oh sure, it feeds his ego and serves to reinforce the image of his support. It is also an opportunity for him to harangue the news media.

And the media do not dare not go. They are penned in as prisoners—for protection, we guess. Trump points at them as a prosecutor making his case. The audience roars its approval. There is no judge to call for quiet.

But is there not a small bit of unctuous truth to what Trump says? Every media outlet that accepts paid advertising is guilty of hypocrisy at some level. It has to, to survive. And surprise, surprise, reporters, rewrites, editors and publishers have their own view of the truth. Truth is not an absolute. You have supreme court judges for that!

But this does not give Donald Trump carte blanche to call the media ‘disgusting.’ It makes him the fool and his claque with him.

But Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Donald Trump’s hillbilly press secretary appears proud that she needs Secret Service protection for standing up for Mr. Trump’s (and her) version of the truth.

And is Donald Trump not entitled to a little annoyance with the news media when they question the value of his meetings with Kim Jong Un of North Korea? Frankly, this observer thinks Kim Jong Un did a better job of representing his military handlers than Donald Trump did in representing the American people. Of course, that is opinion—and is not presented as fact.

But how in hell can Trump say one thing for the cameras in Helsinki at his meeting with Vladimir Putin of Russia and then two days later tell us he misspoke? The man said what he said. He denied the information given to him by the American security agencies and alibied the Russian president who poisons and imprisons his opposition. So where does the truth begin?

Somebody paid for that ridiculous rally for Trump in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania last week. It was all in aid of the embarrassing republican candidate for senate in Pennsylvania this November’s mid-term election. Maybe Donald Trump should let nature take its course and let the voters decide. They could hardly all be as ignorant as those people with their cell phones at this recent Trump rally.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

What a web we Weaver!

August 7th, 2018 by Peter Lowry

We have struggled with this for a couple months. What the heck is BC green party leader John Weaver’s problem with the liquified natural gas (LNG) proposal for British Columbia? It not only sounds like a good deal but BC premier John Horgan is right to be moving it along, even though there is really not much need for too much in way of incentives.

Compared to the stuff the modified Trans Mountain pipeline is designed to run down to Burnaby, BC, the LNG proposal is a Sunday afternoon walk in the park. The only concern with a gas pipeline is fire. With the technology involved in pipelines today, you get almost immediate warning and location of the problem. It could be about as dangerous as a backyard barbeque.

With almost immediate shut down of the line, you lose very little gas into the atmosphere. Remember that the gas, at this stage, is lighter than air.

But that density changes when the gas is liquified. When the gas is reduced to minus 160° C, it has a density of 423 grams per litre. Modern LNG tankers can travel around the world on the gas from their tanks that also serves to keep the LNG at a constant cold temperature. In combination with diesel fuel, it is the ideal way to transport gas.

Pipelines are definitely not the best way to transport diluted bitumen. Diluted bitumen has to be heated and forced through a pipeline at increased pressure. It is highly abrasive and with the increased pressure, spills can be inevitable and are not signalled to the line head as immediately. Where a spill is particularly dangerous is around water. With the diluent staying on the surface and the bitumen finally reaching bottom, harming the environment both above and below the surface.

The good news (I guess) is that premier John Horgan is paying his debts. He wanted to be premier and it cost him an accord with the BC greens. One of the conditions is to again offer BC voters an opportunity to vote on changing how they elect their provincial government. John Horgan’s NDP government is calling for this vote later this year. It is a small price to pay for the continued support of the three Green Party members in the B.C. legislature.

But nothing ever runs smoothly. If the NDP government had announced its proportional representation on Facebook, it would probably have received more initial dislikes than likes. The government allows for three alternative plans, each more confusing than the previous proposal. None of the options is truly proportional.

Mind you, the good news is that after two elections trying one of those options, BC voters will have an opportunity to vote to restore First-Past-the-Post (FPTP) voting.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Folks find Ford far from frugal.

August 6th, 2018 by Peter Lowry

We are told that Ontario premier Doug Ford is going to sue prime minister Justin Trudeau. And he is going to use our money to do it. I hardly see how that is going to please Ontario residents. Other than our money going to enrich a bunch of lawyers, what is the point? Why is premier Ford using our money to massage his ego?

This does not make sense. Why should this guy use our money? He is supposed to be a millionaire. Why should he not have some skin in the game?

This is the guy who promised us all kinds of savings in the provincial government. The only cuts in spending we have seen so far are the announced cuts by the lady with the sharp pencil from Oshawa in the increase in proposed spending, such as for the mentally ill. That is a less than impressive saving!

Ford promised us that it would cost us nothing to fire the guy running Hydro One. It seems ‘nothing’ is more like $9 million. Bad math Dougie!

That social services minister from Hell, Lisa MacLeod, did her part. She shaved half of a three per cent raise in funds for people on disability payments. Maybe she figures that will hold those shirkers!

It is what Lisa did to the people expecting two more years of the test of guaranteed income that caused the greatest shock. These people were rebuilding their lives under the test program that the conservatives promised would continue. No, it is not. The Ford cabinet changed its mind.

But, do you note that most of these cuts were in proposed increases. Nothing has been saved, it was all future spending. Yet it is alright to spend $30 million to make lawyers richer on a law suit that will go nowhere.

And the laugh in all of this is that the law suit will be under the management of a lawyer who has only practised law in New York State. Attorney General Caroline Mulroney will likely have her application against the federal government’s carbon tax plan thrown out of the Ontario court of appeal by a judge who has much more important matters on his or her calendar. And there are definitely fewer guarantees that the other version of the carbon tax case being sent to the supreme court jointly by Ontario and Saskatchewan will get much further.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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