Two Tory budgets for the price of one.

April 26th, 2015 by Peter Lowry

It was Ontario’s turn this past week. How often do we get two Tory budgets at a time? On Tuesday, we had a laugh at federal Finance Minister Joe Oliver’s expense. And then, right on the heels, Thursday we had a budget redux from Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa. There was a new beer tax in Charles’ budget so he must be one of those tax-and-spend Liberals we hear about. Frankly, this liberal would not give you two cents for either budget.

Sousa betrayed Ontario Liberals when he agreed with Ed Clark of TD Bank to raise money on Hydro One—and on the backs of hydro users. Mind you Premier Wynne told Clark to do that and who complains when a banker does what he is told? What Wynne, Clark and Sousa failed to do was put beer in convenience stores where it would be more convenient for the purchaser. They also failed to sell off the Liquor Control Board that would have made much more money for the province than Hydro ever could.

But to follow on the federal budget’s long-term proposals, Sousa had his own ten-year plan for infrastructure. If it had been a 20-year plan, it could have been the most expensive ever. The only problem is that the voters are getting weary of the same-old, same-old promises. The Queen’s image on all those bills is fading badly.

In neither budget was there any help to get our young people working. Promises on the never-never plan are just not winners. What Joe Oliver and his friend Stephen Harper do not understand is that you need to have income to get benefits from tax credits and cuts. Now that Joe and Charles have told us what they are doing for the one per cent, maybe they can give some consideration to the rest of us.

And why the hell, would Charles Sousa decide that the only tax he wanted us to impose was on us beer drinkers? How much tax did he levy on himself and the rest of the Scotch drinkers? This is discriminatory and unfair and we still have to put up with those rotten, smelly, over-priced Beer Stores. Oh sure, now we can pick up a six pack along with the weekly groceries but who is going to take the time to go into a huge grocery store just to get a case of beer? It shows how little the Ontario Liberals know about merchandising.

What we have are two levels of government so out of touch with reality that they fail to pay attention to our real needs. They are offering us nothing but ideology in budgets that are supposed to be about the current tax year. Sure a ten-year plan helps the big plans but if it is vague enough, who knows what they are really doing?


Copyright 2015 © Peter Lowry

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Discovering Barrie’s Patrick Brown.

April 25th, 2015 by Peter Lowry

It has taken on all the elements of a farce. The Ontario news media are discovering Patrick Brown MP for Barrie. They are running lengthy, laudatory articles about him with flattering pictures. (And getting a flattering picture of Brown is no easy task.) The media think he has a lock on the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party leadership.

This is not good news for the Ontario Tories. Turning a ward healer into a party leader is a tough challenge. It has all the earmarks of changing a toad into a prince. Nobody has the stomach to kiss the toad.

Brown is a member of the Jason Kenney school of ethnic pandering. By being both minister of defence as well as multiculturalism, Kenney can make war on the newcomers who fail to vote Conservative. He taught Brown well. As a ward healer (Brown likes to refer to it as being a retail politician) he turned the sub-continent into a bank of new party members. He has somehow enticed a large number of new comers from there to take out party memberships and to maybe even support him in next month’s party leadership vote.

We would still like to know who paid for these instant Tory memberships. This question, may be mute when we find out May 9 how many each of the two candidates turn out to vote. Best guess, we expect that Brown will win by something like 25,000 votes to less than 20,000 for Christine Elliott, Jim Flaherty’s widow.

The first beneficiary of this outrage will be federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau. After the initial shock of Brown as Ontario leader, the Conservatives will want him to be hidden somewhere until after this year’s federal election. His loss is certainly no skin off Prime Minister Harper’s nose. Brown was never going to go anywhere in the Conservative caucus anyway.

But the absolute paucity of plans for where he wants to lead the Ontario Conservatives has to be discovered at some stage. With the news media today, he is already in constant denial. The facts are that Brown is very much a social conservative. He is strongly anti abortion, anti same sex marriage, anti sex education in our schools and completely out of step with the majority of Ontario citizens.

And that is why the secondary beneficiaries of him being chosen Conservative leader are the Ontario Liberals. Brown with his lack of appeal to women could even erode the Ontario Tories rural base. As they say: This guy ain’t going to do no good for nobody!


Copyright 2015 © Peter Lowry

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Doing without the politicians.

April 24th, 2015 by Peter Lowry

This Ontario resident missed Treasurer Charles Sousa’s budget yesterday. Not that we shunned his budget. The day involved 12 hours at the local hospital. Given a choice we would have preferred to be strapped down and forced to listen to Charles’ budget.

Do not get all excited out there: it was the wife who needed the special attention. What started out as routine imaging tests—hoping to find the source of the problems—turned into a frantic rush back to the hospital to hurry up and wait. And we found out the difference between ‘acute’ and ‘trauma.’ The trauma patient gets looked after to prevent more bleeding. The acute patient can wait until you get around to them.

We spent about eight hours in total with a group of people in the Acute Waiting Room. We are not going to form a club. There were six patients and their assorted caregivers. Some were funny and some were sad. It got a bit rowdy at times. Most words were spoken with care. Some comments were regretted.

Charles, you would have been most interested in the political comments. And you think this blog is hard on you? Hah! These people lacked political knowledge and expectations. They frankly despised all politicians and their friends, the bureaucrats. Your O.P. Police guards would have had to search everybody for sharp instruments before allowing you to join us. We were cast adrift on this sea of budgets and bureaucracy. We gradually caused enough ruckus to be rescued by some very warm hearted staff who realized we were becoming rebellious.

Over the time we were together we broke many stupid rules. The rules of no food and drink were nixed at about hour five. We had a picnic dinner. If you can find out when to switch from the blue line on the corridors to the red line, you can actually find the food court in the bowels of that building. The place is like Toronto’s underground PATH easing pedestrians around downtown. It is just not as well planned. In Barrie’s Royal Victoria Hospital, it is a very friendly staff that turns you around and sends you on the right route.

All we can really tell you Charles is that your name came up a few times. It was more as an expletive than laudatory. What we can now confirm is that we need more fine staff such as we have at RVH and far fewer bureaucrats making rules. All your government has done with this regional health centred philosophy is double the bureaucracy and make it more difficult for the medical people to do their jobs.

Despite all the experts who tell you health care is science centred, the truth is it has to be people centred. That is the only way it works.

And the wife is a bit better now. No thanks to our politicians.


Copyright 2015 © Peter Lowry

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The Morning Line: Alberta 2015.

April 23rd, 2015 by Peter Lowry

The May 7 provincial election in Alberta is something of a wake up call as Albertans shake themselves from the Tar Sands dream. It was probably the recent Prentice austerity budget more than anything else that told people that times are changing. There is no question but Albertans need to adapt to reality. There is just is no way they will like it.

In producing a Morning Line for this election you start by ignoring all the polls. Albertans lie to pollsters. They have been lying to them since the days of Bible Bill Aberhart. And if you had voted for Aberhart and his funny-money Social Credit, you would also have lied about it.

The only reality in this election is the 40-year record of the Longest Continuing Progressive Conservative dynasty. Prentice will not win the election with any rhetoric, he will just quietly accept the honour. The facts are that Albertans feel they have no choice. And they are hardly the type of people to take chances.

Progressive Conservative Party – 3 to 2

The only interesting question in the Alberta election is which party will come second. Rachel Notley and her New Democrats could be the comers. Notley has the political credentials and the trust that can make her the opposition leader. The provincial Liberals are lying low, waiting for the federal election and leaving the field open.

New Democratic Party – 5 to 1

And that leaves ‘what’s his name’ and the Wildrose Party. This situation is probably the hardest to read. The Wildrose is in disarray, lacking strong leadership or rational platform. It is difficult, even in Alberta, to be more right-wing than the Progressive Conservatives. It is too easy to think of Wildrose as a pale copy of the American Tea Party or the radical right of the federal Conservatives. Frankly, it looks like Jim Prentice’s strategy has hurt Wildrose more than him. It will be interesting to see the size of the rump that Wildrose will have in the Legislature after the election.

Wildrose Party – 12 to 1

To be fair, we should give a figure on the Alberta Liberal Party. The problem is we have never seen a situation where a mainstream party fails to nominate candidates in virtually every riding. A partial list is tantamount to surrender.

Alberta Liberal Party – 20 to 1


Copyright 2015 © Peter Lowry

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Back to the Future with Joe Oliver

April 22nd, 2015 by Peter Lowry

Finance Minister Joe Oliver brought Canadians his first budget yesterday. Instead of it being a budget for the coming fiscal year of our government, he tried to line things up for the next ten years. It was a very Conservative view of our future. And we can only hope that it is Joe Oliver’s final budget and the final Conservative budget.

It was more of a manifesto than a budget. Yet, it lacked a clear direction. It lacked compassion. It was in many cases blatant bribery. The continuing reductions in business taxes makes you wonder when it will cost more to collect them than the Treasury gains.

And if you have an extra $10,000 to put into a tax free savings account, do you need the tax break?

You certainly have to admit that the Conservatives are very kind to rich families. That leaves the rest of us on the outside looking in.

This seems to be a uniquely Conservative style of budget. It’s like the cheque is in the mail—two years from now. It is delayed gratification—only for those who vote properly.

And that is all this budget is designed for. Vote Conservative, vote often.

Only a government that knows it is going down the tubes would be so blatant about it.

What was really wrong with the document Oliver read was that there was nothing to succour our young people looking for work and careers. There were no instant jobs. There were no jobs in the future either. There was nothing to address the needs of Canada’s aboriginal peoples.

If you were looking for creativity, imagination, nation building simple kindness or fairness, you were tuned to the wrong channel. Joe Oliver does not do that stuff.

Frankly, Joe Oliver was a bad choice for finance minister. Harper could have done much better with someone in the role who does not look like the mad scientist in that children’s movie starring Michael J. Fox. The better choice would have been someone in a more Santa Clause style such as Conservative Senator Mike Duffy.


Copyright 2015 © Peter Lowry

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Goodbye Bill Blair: You failed us.

April 21st, 2015 by Peter Lowry

Toronto has not lost a police chief. It has gained freedom. It has left an era of bad policing behind. It has new opportunities for better policing. It has new opportunities for discouraging crime, fewer gangs, fewer guns, easing of trouble spots and better relations between the police and the people they serve and protect.

Bill Blair has left police headquarters. He no longer held sway with the police services board. His services were no longer needed. He remained unindicted for the fiasco of the G-8. He remained intransigent on carding. That fancy uniform is committed to the closet of yesterday’s failures.

There is no basking in the glories and hopes of early years. His day is done. He can hardly follow in the path of his predecessor Julian Fantino. No more bombast and posturing is needed thank you. Fantino is no politician and Blair is less.

There was some talk of an electoral district in Toronto being held for the civilian Mr. Blair. It is hard to imagine why. There is not a seat in the city that would be likely to elect him for any party. The New Democrats would laugh at the idea of him running for that party. He lacks any connection with the workers of our society. The Conservatives are of course shy in this case after that party’s experience with Julian Fantino. What party would want to make that mistake twice?

And that just leaves the Liberals. It is not that Leader Justin Trudeau has not made some bad decisions in the past but he keeps telling us that the riding associations are free to decide. That is why many Liberals expect to defeat Eve Adams with a better candidate in Elinton-Lawrence. There are easy guesses on where Justin Trudeau’s organizational geniuses might want to stick Blair but why cause unnecessary upset.

Trudeau would create a serious revolt among the party if he insisted on having Blair. It would hardly be worth the trouble. Real Liberals pride themselves on their support for individual rights and Blair is no poster boy for any kind of human rights. It would be a serious rift in the party in an area that Trudeau has to count on for solid support.

As for Mr. Blair: if he is not going to be charged for his abuse of human rights during the G-8 summit, then he would be smart to fade away. Maybe there is a need for a night-watchman somewhere. Night work would keep him out of the public eye.


Copyright 2015 © Peter Lowry

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The Hair’s ‘Politics of Division’

April 20th, 2015 by Peter Lowry

Asking a voter why s/he is going to vote for the Conservatives this fall can cause a rising anger. The anger is hardly directed at the voter. This person has been had. They have been duped. The anger can only be directed at the Prime Minister—he of the Hair!

And we watch in this land of inclusion, tolerance, sharing and openness, as the Hair spreads his politics of division.

It was just last week when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in Toronto, we saw how easily the Hair moved into the mode of pandering to the Indo-Canadian vote. It was not the vote of Tamil-Canadians, Kashmir-Canadians, Sikh-Canadians or people locked in low castes throughout the sub-continent. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is predominantly Hindu and seems to be doing nothing about the continuing religious intolerance of India.

It is the same relationship with the Hair and Bibi Netanyahu of Israel. You can just see the Hair coming home and telling the wife, Laureen: “Well, we’ve sewn up the Jewish vote.” And the hatred grows in the Muslim world because Canada has taken sides.

And the list goes on through the Ukrainian-Canadians and the Canadians loyal to the monarchy. The Hair panders for votes wherever he can and he cares little for the consequences of his actions. He does not understand that baiting the Russian bear can cause repercussions of cost to Canadians. He wonders why people hate him in Quebec for his lack of compassion, understanding and kissing up to the British royals.

And more and more of the world feels rejected and ignored by Canada. We used to be a country known for its, fairness, its openness, humanitarian aid in times of trouble and peace keeping. Under the Harper government Canada has become a warrior nation bombing the Algerians, shooting the Taliban in Afghanistan and bombing the insurgent thugs of the new Caliphate in Iraq and Syria.

And not satisfied with the hatred of countries, the Hair has created hatreds within Canada. He divides people of higher incomes from the rest of us with tax savings, income sharing and unnecessary benefits for the children of the rich.

But wait. There is time before the election. The Hair might decide he needs your vote. Maybe he can give some new tax savings to either the young or the old. Maybe he can come up with a way to make women like him. There is no way he can possibly make us all like him.


Copyright 2015 © Peter Lowry

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The people wall is uncomfortable.

April 19th, 2015 by Peter Lowry

It is coming to a point where politicians will need to use videos of the right types of people behind them. It would certainly be better than the uncertainty of dragging in whoever is available to make up the backdrop for political announcements. It is the Prime Minister’s Office in Ottawa that goes overboard in this type of thing. His mixed-race backdrops seem to never miss a skin color to pander to.

What brings this to mind was an announcement in Barrie the other day by Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne. Desperate for a backdrop for her announcement, she had to settle for Transport Minister Steven Del Duca and Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman. These two were not the best of backdrops. Del Duca looked bored as usual and the Barrie Mayor looked a little antsy as though he was eager for a washroom break. They never said anything on air in the clip that was used.

Premier Wynne took all the credit for her announcement of the not too secret effort to have two-way, all-day GO service to and from Barrie and Toronto in the next five years. While there was specific talk about the problems of twining the tracks in some sections, there was no mention to reporters of converting GO to electricity to provide much faster service for commuters.

The Premier then went on to the Flying Monkeys Brewery here in Barrie where they serve their excellent product and have washrooms suitable for the Mayor. Since the Premier is being so nice to craft brewers these days, she might as well get her free drinks while she can. The Flying Monkeys might not yet be aware of the new tax of a loonie for every two-four that will be part of letting some grocery stores sell their beer. Hopefully one or two of our local grocery stores will be able to sell the product.

There was no people wall needed at the brewery. The Premier has pretty well worn out her welcome with the news media with all her backtracking and backfilling on the subject of beer, wine and spirits.

These people walls for Premier Wynne are usually organized by the local provincial Party association. Mr. Del Duca was there because GO is part of his provincial ministry. At least the premier’s office thought to let the mayor know they were coming.

But the provincial Liberal organization in Barrie seems to be run by a very elite cabal and maybe all of them were busy last Friday.


Copyright 2015 © Peter Lowry

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The Candidate: Pre-writ canvassing.

April 18th, 2015 by Peter Lowry

Part 3 of our series for Canada’s federal candidates.

These spring days are golden times for canvassing. No political candidate worth the name can ever waste a single day without seeking out the opportunity to knock on doors. You can be relaxed, chatty and, above all, listening. This is when you learn what people are thinking, what is going to influence their vote when the election is held and what they think their neighbours will do. They might be reluctant to tell you their thoughts but you will often find what they attribute to neighbours are their own thoughts.

What your team is looking for at this time is balanced sampling. The candidate has to be moved about the electoral district and given an opportunity to hear from all demographics. You have census information and Google Earth that will tell you even more about the demographics street by street, block by block and rural route by rural route. You also want to move the candidate around so that s/he gets to know and is comfortable with people in all parts of the riding.

Always send your candidate with a small team. During this period, you want to send at least one experienced canvasser and one or two newbies. Take advantage of the training time and make sure they enjoy the experience. You will need these people to be working much harder once the writ is issued.

And if you are wondering were all your canvassers are in this period, you are engaging them in training, special events, and team building.

This is also the time when you can find out who among your volunteers can run successful coffee parties, which canvassers should be asked to be team leaders and who should head up election day efforts.

And keep that literature at this time basic. No heavy policy effort is needed. You are introducing your candidate. Keep the candidate the emphasis.

Weekly e-mails to all supporters are critical to keeping the momentum going. Build participation in planning and arranging special events. The dog days of summer are when candidates should be on the barbeque circuit.

And a further tip: keep the talks to these small summer groups to discussing your concerns for the people in your riding and what you, as a Member of Parliament, can do to help. We certainly need more pro-active MPs.


Copyright 2015 © Peter Lowry

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‘Diplomat’ Brown and his friend Narendra Modi.

April 17th, 2015 by Peter Lowry

What is wrong with Canada’s foreign relations is more than explained by the friendship of India Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Patrick Brown MP. Yes, that is Patrick Brown, the most useless member of the Conservative back bench and the candidate for the leadership of Ontario’s Progressive Conservative Party. With probably less than 50 people in his electoral district from India, Patrick Brown must have been left among the final MP draftees for a country on the friendship committee.

Brown got India. The air flights there are gruelling. The food there is, well, foreign. You can imagine that India was nobody’s first choice. Pakistan must have been added because nobody wanted it either. You have to admit though that where others see hardship, Brown must have seen lemonade.

With more than 400,000 newcomers to Ontario from the sub-continent, Brown had no problem swamping the Ontario PCs existing membership. It makes him the frontrunner in the current provincial leadership contest.

But what do you think a wily Indian politician such as Prime Minister Modi would want from a nebbish like Patrick Brown? What Brown can be is a direct connection to Canada’s Prime Minister Harper. Modi needed a reliable source of uranium for India’s nuclear energy and weapons program. He was able to get around the concerns and caution of Canada’s diplomatic corps by using the Brown connection.

With more than 1.2 billion people, India is the most populous democracy in the world. It is a country rife with poverty, political corruption, misogynist attitudes, sectarian violence and religious extremism. And Mr. Modi has been of little help in solving these problems as he drives for continued, strong growth in India’s gross domestic product. His right wing attitudes have been read as condoning ongoing religious intolerance and strife.

India is an extremely complex country with many pressures. It requires the careful analysis of people trained in diplomatic skills, not the heavy-handed wants of a nerdy small-town lawyer from Barrie, Ontario. Nor does it need the Prime Minister of India’s blessing the signing up of some 40,000 immigrants from the sub-continent to help Brown win the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party leadership.

Of course Prime Minister Harper has no objection. MPs such as Brown are a dime a dozen. All he was ever used for was his vote. What the Ontario Tories will use him for is a very good question.


Copyright 2015 © Peter Lowry

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