Andrew Scheer woos the 905.

September 15th, 2019 by Peter Lowry

Meet Andrew Scheer, leader of the conservatives and ambassador to the 905 ridings of Ontario from the more peaceful, less frantic reaches of Prairie conservatism. The 905 region is also known as the Golden Horseshoe that wraps around the City of Toronto. It is also home to much of the wealth that drives Toronto. The conservatives have to win this area to win enough seats to form a government again in Ottawa.

Scheer assures us that his conservatism is not much like the bombastic conservatism of Doug Ford at Queen’s Park. He probably has a point that he is not much like Mr. Ford. He lacks the charisma.

We hardly knew Mr. Scheer when he was picked as the least contentious, and least interfering speaker of the house of commons after the 2011 election. It was a parliament that had the first majority conservative government in Ottawa in many years.

And it was when Hell broke lose. It was the least orderly parliament in many years. It suffered from too many cheap shots and catcalls. Questions to conservatives went unanswered or simply drew insults. That parliament passed questionable and often undemocratic bills without being given time for proper consideration. It was a record low point in foreign affairs. It was a house needing a good house keeper, not Andrew Scheer.

But once the public had done with the Harper government, it was Andrew Scheer who won enough support to be the new conservative leader. Of 13 leadership hopefuls, he was the least likely to do anything. And he did little but carp.

And he is now out there on the hustings—mostly in the 905—telling Canadians that it is time for them to get ahead—because they can be sure that a Prairie conservative does not believe in the government helping its citizens.

Don’t ask this conservative to add Pharmacare to Medicare. He is certainly not interested in doing anything about our endangered environment.  Oh sure, he makes promises, because he wants you the elect him. Don’t count on him coming through with anything meaningful. He wants to help his friends, the conservative premiers. He wants to help the rich. Like all conservative ideologues he is a mean-spirited person. He is also a social conservative, do not ask him about women’s rights.

I call him ‘Chuckles.’ He is a clown.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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Confounding Confusion for Canadians.

September 14th, 2019 by Peter Lowry

It was a common event the other day as I sat in the barber’s chair, the barber wielding scissors and comb. The barber knew of my interest in politics and quickly turned the usually desultory conversation to the October election. Those awaiting their turn chimed in. You could quickly determine the various political leanings.

But what I have been hearing lately is more of denial. People are questioning their own patterns. So what, if the last three generations of their family voted conservative? Why should they have to conform? Same with liberals. Same with socialists. People are questioning their roots. They are looking for something else.

They might not admit it but I think they are looking for leadership. Their only problem is when they buy into an offer of leadership, they are being let down. Look at all the Americans who bought into the message that Donald Trump could restore their pride in America, and make the country great again. How is he doing so far?

And it is not just in the Americas. Vladimir Putin in Russia, Boris Johnson in the United Kingdom are as bad as the petty dictators in Central and South America. And then there is Kim Jon-Un in North Korea and the list of countries taking willful directions goes on.

We Canadians will all fight like hell to protect our democracy and then we will elect an incompetent, vindictive blusterer such as Doug Ford as premier in Ontario. We have no excuse. We let it happen.

And are all Canadians as selfish and mean-spirited as premier Jason Kenney who misleads Alberta? He denies concern for our world as it seeks to destroy us with fires and winds and global warming. You have a hard time believing that the brimstone of the tar sands is the cause of so much dissention between us.

In the barber shop, we seemed to all agree that leadership was lacking. We want the best as our representative, our MP. In a democracy, the real leadership should come from the citizens.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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Liberals won’t miss Jane or Jody.

September 13th, 2019 by Peter Lowry

There is an erroneous assumption that liberal voters in their B.C. and Ontario ridings would want to vote for former Trudeau cabinet members Jane Philpott and Jody Wilson-Raybould. That is not too likely. What most often happens in a situation such as this is that they will pick up enough disgruntled liberal vote to defeat the official liberal candidate and allow a conservative or NDP candidate to take the riding.

But that is often the best outcome from their point of view. For people who want to make something of their life, a four-year stint in the far corner of parliament, away from the real action, might pay well, but is a boring prospect.

Philpott and Wilson-Raybould took their initial cabinet jobs in the Trudeau government quite seriously. One example of their work was Bill-14 – the assisted dying act that was past by the last parliament. The fact that most liberals considered it a weak and ill-considered bill failed to worry them.

What should worry them is the ruling by a Quebec superior court judge the other day that invalidates sections of theirs and Quebec province’s medically-assisted dying acts as being restrictive and unconstitutional. This is the first step in the act being sent back to the federal parliament and the Quebec national assembly to be reconsidered and fixed. That is what happens when the job has not been done properly. The process starts over again.

The court ruling was a victory for progressive Canadians who saw the acts as a poor substitute for what most see as the need for peace and dignity at the end of life. As written and supervised through parliament by Philpott, a medical doctor, and Wilson-Raybould, a senior lawyer, the act failed Canadian needs.

Voters in Jane Philpott’s and Jody Wilson-Raybould’s ridings need to remember that these people let us down.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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In defence of print media.

September 12th, 2019 by Peter Lowry

Starting the day with coffee and the newspaper is a formula that works for me. The coffee wakes me and the newspaper introduces the day, informs, incites and inspires me. The ageless love for print news is my only bow to conservatism. It is a model that has its origin hundreds of years ago in civilized history. It is a model that has constantly been challenged by technology.

The challenges started more than 100 years ago. Initially, communications professionals had watched radio position itself as a news medium to the consternation of print media. It was a live and let live process as it sorted out the winners and losers. And it happened again when television challenged both radio and print. They had to change and accommodate each other.

But where we are failing today is in recognizing that the Internet needs to be accommodated in the same way. Nobody realized that our politicians would fail so badly in recognizing what that accommodation meant. When the new kid on the block lacks the disciplines and controls that impact all the other kids, you have allowed trouble on the street. The failure to tax and set realistic standards for the Internet has allowed this medium to have an unfair advantage over the older, established media.

There would be nothing stupider than for government to give money to preserve print media when it fails to tax or control the Internet that is causing the losses to print media. Government is there to level the playing field—not to decide who is to survive.

The people who make the ultimate decisions are the users. The only thing that users have to realize is that we all benefit if the rules are the same for all media. If an editor goes to jail for publishing false information, then Facebook and blogs must try for similar standards. And if a billboard company pays sales taxes on renting a billboard, then Google should pay taxes on its advertising transactions.

You will never convince this reader that print media is for dinosaurs. Print is a self edited version of news that is efficient and satisfying. Radio and television news are linear and you have to go through the boring to get to the stuff of interest. And on the Internet, you are never sure if you are being told the truth unless you can trust the source.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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They’re At Post!

September 11th, 2019 by Peter Lowry

Finally. This never-ending scrabbling for political position has a finite finish line. The free-for-all has focus and Elections Canada is in charge. Like with stewards at the track, there are rules to be observed.

It is an election like no other in Canadian history. It is not the politicians who have changed. It is the voters. There is a distrust and unease on all sides. We are seeing olive branches offered by traditional conservatives. Concern is on the face of liberals. Socialists look in wonder at their NDP.  Is Green the color of Canada?

These are not the parties of John A. Macdonald, William Lyon Mackenzie King or Tommy Douglas. No party talks of tradition. And, yet, are they ideologues? And how likely are their promises: “Yes, Mommy, I’ll be good.” Do they have an agenda for Canadians?

Is the bitterness to be directed from Alberta? Are the fools running Ontario? Will the Atlantic provinces hold promise? And who will be the bête noir of Quebec? Will ‘beautiful’ B.C. be bountiful?

There will be no morning line at the track today. What prognosticator has the polls or prescience to prove anything? The sense of this election is deep in the gut and there is many a bellyache. The Trudeau liberals will defend their record—such as it is. The conservatives will be defensive of their woefully inadequate leader. The NDP will try to win with some stalwart old-timers. Elizabeth May will keep looking behind her, in hopes that some partisans will be there.

But there is hope. All politics is local. Here in Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte, we are still gerrymandered in aid of the rural conservatives. We have another empty suit conservative to consider and the usual suspects from NDP and Greens. The liberal is different, aggressive, daring and honourable. I will bet on him but not his leader.

I am expecting the possibility of a liberal minority. It is as good a bet as any.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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Our MPP is heard from.

September 10th, 2019 by Peter Lowry

It seems that the member of the Ontario legislature for Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte does visit Barrie occasionally, usually while on his way to or from his home up in Severn Township. Recently, Doug Downey M.P.P. even held a news conference in Barrie to discuss the problem of what he calls ‘Catch and Release.’ It might be sporting for fishermen but causes ongoing problems for our police in smaller cities such as Barrie.

In Barrie, the courts are located on the edge of downtown, convenient for people to return to the scene of their crime and repeating it. The police tend to blame the problem on the supreme court that has ruled that a person charged with multiple crimes still has to be treated as guiltless until convicted of something.

The basic problem is that the politicians starve the courts, refusing to expand them or to appoint more judges and then blame the judges for not processing criminal cases fast enough.

As attorney general of Ontario, Downey has to take responsibility for the problem. He expressed the problem quite succinctly in the news conference when he said that keeping costs under control is also important to his government.

What is becoming clear to most Ontario residents is that this current provincial government places too much emphasis on controlling costs and very little in doing the jobs that Ontario taxpayers are funding.

In fact, this government cuts so many costs that it creates more serious problems than we had in the first place. They constantly put their ideology ahead of doing a good job.

To make matters worse, we have a premier who has no clue as to how to run the province. He blustered his way through an election campaign against a government that had run out of gas. We are paying for the consequences.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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From Rae Days to Ford Years.

September 9th, 2019 by Peter Lowry

It does seem odd to think of current conservative premier of Ontario Doug Ford and former NDP premier Bob Rae at the same time. The other day Bob Hepburn of the Toronto Star tried to compare the two in an opinion piece. He failed. The reasons that Bob Rae failed as premier and Doug Ford will fail are very different.

Doug Ford will fail because he doesn’t listen to advice: Bob Rae failed because he did listen. Rae listened to Thomas d’Aquino. At the time, d’Aquino was running the Business Council on National Issues—the most powerful business group in Canada.

It was d’Aquino who convinced Bob Rae and his finance minister, Floyd Laughren from Sudbury, that the most serious economic problem facing Canada in the 1990s was the out-of-control deficits at the time of both federal and provincial budgets. He convinced the provincial politicians that Paul Martin, finance minister for the Chrétien government was already on board.

The problem was that, as a left-wing economist, Laughren had no solutions to the growing deficits. Rae of course, was more of a middle of the road liberal and bought into the Martin solution. Rae ended up giving his name to the imaginative solution of civil servants taking unpaid days off instead of pay cuts, which they were anyway.

Rae became a laughing stock and his government was easily defeated by what Ontario residents found was much worse conservative government of Mike Harris.

There are many similarities between the Harris government of 1995 through 2003 and the present Ford regime. The very fact that Harris won a second term was more a commentary on the weak opposition facing his government at the time than any high approval rating. And after the deaths in Walkerton, Ontario in 2002, because of the poor management, Harris was toast.

Since Doug Ford’s style is just bluster and incompetence, nobody expects him to be around after the next provincial election.


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Some of us have fun with politics.

September 8th, 2019 by Peter Lowry

It was sad the other day to read both Susan Delacourt and Chantal Hébert of the Toronto Star and their dour take on the upcoming federal election. The ladies are two of Canada’s most astute reporters on things political and here they were being pessimistic this early.

I was particularly disturbed by Chantal’s dark take on the state of politics in Quebec. I thought we were both on the same train through la belle province as the liberals fight the good fight against the forces of evil, separation and the far right. We both seem to agree that Maxime Bernier will fold his libertarian tent and retire to the Beauce after proving nothing with his bigotry in this election.

But I expect those polls that show a resurgent Bloc Québécois are just hiding some parked votes that Trudeau can easily reap on election day. There is really no other route for the Quebec vote this time around.

I am also concerned about Susan Delacourt. I have always appreciated her sense of humour. Sure, she can criticize me for using nicknames for some of the sillier politicians. She is the one being paid the big bucks for her opinion. I have to work hard for the laughs my writing affords me. Just wait until she is retired. (Tomorrow?)

I hardly use nicknames for the serious politicos. You cannot convince me that conservative leader ‘Chuckles’ Scheer is not a clown. The desperate attempts of the conservative brain trust to cast him as serious are wearing thin on far more Canadians than just yours truly!

And please tell me how else we are expected to counter the sad-sack situation on the prairies? The exploitation of the tar sands for the benefit of foreign-owned oil companies is doing nobody any good and the lies spewed by their bought and paid for provincial politicians disgrace all Canadians. I think decent politicians should just fly over the prairies this election.

British Columbia is always a pleasure to visit. That province is only dangerous for politicians who want to complete the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline.


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The Substitute.

September 7th, 2019 by Peter Lowry

It happens. You have all your nominations completed and one of your candidates drops out. That happens for any of hundreds of reasons. It could be anything from illness, bankruptcy or just cold feet. Your party needs a substitute candidate and there is no time left to be democratic about it.

I don’t think I have ever seen it as bad as today’s new democratic party situation. With less than two weeks until the writ of election has to come down, the NDP knew they needed close to 100 more candidates across Canada and then they lose as many as a dozen of their previous candidates in New Brunswick (in 2015) to the Green party.

In most cases when the party becomes desperate, the NDP looks to the riding executive and usually it is the riding president who allows his or her name to stand for the honour of the party. They print a few signs, attend a few all-candidate meetings and (usually) lose gracefully.

But not always. There were some surprise wins in Quebec for the NDP in the 2011 federal election. The credit for that goes to the then leader Jack Layton, who died shortly afterwards.

The classic turnaround in the substitute situation was in the 1974 federal election when the East York liberal candidate had to bow out. The party executive in Toronto looked around and realized they had recently hired a promising young man from East York as the Ontario party’s executive director. David Collenette was told to go home and be the party’s candidate.

David not only did what he was told but he won the election. He also won more elections than he lost over the next 30 years and served in the cabinets of three liberal prime ministers. He served the party well.


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Mother of all Parliaments.

September 6th, 2019 by Peter Lowry

This mother certainly has her problems. And if you believed Theresa May was incompetent as prime minister, you probably should not have gotten your hopes up for Boris Johnson. The U.K. parliament at the Palace of Westminster has not seen so many comings and goings since the British civil war in the mid 1600s. (Mind you, Oliver and Richard Cromwell and the Roundheads probably kept better discipline.)

But Johnson! That guy not only shamed London’s barbers but his thinking is about as addled as his hair. I was surprised that the French police let him into Biarritz recently for the G7 conference. He looks more like an escapee from a Russian Gulag than a Brit. And does he really think that a no-deal Brexit would work? It is as though U.K. voters never realized what a ‘pig in a poke’ Brexit could be. It seems to be good reason today for the return of Northern Ireland to Dublin and Scotland to the Scots.

The Brits could pretend that the entire Brexit mess was just another of those silly Christmas pantomimes that they use to entertain the children. Someone who looks like Boris can wear a wig and play the villain and chase the long-legged girl who plays the part of a boy.

The more serious question at this stage is whether the European Union wants the English troublemakers to stay with them? This Brexit business has certainly caused some dissent in the ranks on the continent. Without the stabilizing hand of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in the near future, the EU could see a rise in the right wing that could destabilize what has been a strong and effective economic union. Brussels might have bit off a little more than it could chew sometimes but the overall effectiveness and benefits of the union cannot be denied.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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