How the Hair hastens havoc.

October 25th, 2014 by Peter Lowry

We were all deeply concerned the other day. It just takes time to think it through. How awful that this sad, mentally-deranged person with a gun be enabled to attack and kill one of our soldiers standing ceremonial guard duty at Canada’s national memorial to our dead of foreign wars?

And we also need to share the common concern for our parliamentarians closeted in caucus as a gunman runs amok in the Hall of Honour. This place is the core of our democracy and it has to be respected.

It is only in retrospect that Canadians need to better understand how the Hair and his cronies hasten along the crazies who see Canada as the enemy of Islam. He uses the rhetoric of bigotry instead of understanding. He promotes resolution by gun instead of dialogue. He preys on the fragile mind. He uses the words of a narrow and biased world.

And that is what helps create an environment for evil.

Just where is this prime minister taking our beautiful country? He poses as a great friend of Israel to win the votes of Canada’s Jewish citizens. Yet, can the Hair live with or understand the turmoil and retribution that influences the daily lives of the people of Israel? Instead of bringing Canada’s good will and negotiations to the Middle East table, the Hair brings partisanship. He helps nobody.

He hardly helps the Americans in their current concerns. Canada’s friendship with the Americans can hardly be forever sullied by saying ‘no.’ Good friends give honest advice not insincere flattery. A good friend stands ready to help when that is really what the friend needs.

Canadians want to be honest brokers to a peaceful world. We want to use diplomacy, not guns. Canadians know that the real bravery is in being peacekeepers, not warriors. Canada shares the cultures of many nations. It welcomes the peoples of all nations. It wants to be welcome by all nations in turn.

Canadians do not want to engage in senseless wars. They do not seek retribution. They want to seek conciliation. The Hair took away the control of long guns. It was a sick person with a long gun behind that caucus room door. The Hair has spoken in parliament to the destruction of the jihadists without understanding how he was sowing the dragon’s teeth for more of the same.


Copyright 2014 © Peter Lowry

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A year can be forever in politics.

October 24th, 2014 by Peter Lowry

It will feel like a year long federal election campaign between now and October 2015. Wars have not lasted as long. Yet, despite all the strategies at play, the key decisions by the real electors will not be made until September and October next year.

Much of the first six to nine months will be taken up with making sure of each party’s base vote. Regionally and demographically, you can define the base for each of the main political parties. In the same sense as most rich, white males vote Conservative, many mid-income, educated, females vote Liberal and a high percentage of unionized, working class vote New Democrat, you can see why inner cities tend to vote New Democrat, single-family suburbs tend to vote Liberal and prosperous farmers vote Conservative.

The political chore is to first shore up your own vote and, when time allows, you show the flag in enemy-held electoral districts. There are also 30 new ridings in play this year and no party is assured a win in those. They receive special attention.

While nobody trusts polls today, the fact that they consistently show Justin Trudeau and his Liberals in the lead, gives the Conservatives and New Democrats a target. In fact if Mr. Harper can find a way to keep the Liberals and New Democrats more evenly matched, the better the chance for his Conservatives.

But it is regional concerns that cause the most headaches in theses early stages. With the promised demise of the Bloc Québécois, many polls are showing the New Democrats as the recipients of that vote. What these polls are really showing is that there is no other place at this time that the separatist vote wants to go. They are unlikely to play on that swing before the end of September next year. They might dislike the Trudeau name but they hate Harper more.

The other likely regional shifts are in Ontario and British Columbia. With Justin Trudeau’s Liberals likely to win more than half of Ontario’s 138 seats next year, all three parties are spending a great deal of time and effort in that playground. British Columbia has a special place for Trudeau and if he can solve the Gordian knot he has gotten into in relation to pipelines, British Columbia can dish him up a very fine majority government.

We have lots of time during the year for Justin Trudeau to learn to look like a statesman, Thomas Mulcair to look smart and Stephen Harper to look human.


Copyright 2014 © Peter Lowry

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Discrimination in municipal voting.

October 23rd, 2014 by Peter Lowry

You know you are a second-class citizen in Ontario if you are a tenant and have moved since last time you voted in a municipal election. The municipal people across Ontario explain it simply: if you are a tenant, you are responsible to register to vote. If you are a real property owner, you are on the tax rolls and you are automatically on the voters’ list.

This situation is hardly an improvement over the time when the federal and provincial electoral officers hired enumerators before each election to create the voters’ lists. Even the city was enumerated by the commercial collection for the city directory. These are long gone but they never were as discriminatory.

But since tenants do not turn out to vote in huge numbers, the politicians say that tenants do not care. They do not worry very much about tenant issues in their municipalities. And since the politicians do not care, why should the city staff? And the problems for tenants continue to snowball.

The politicians get their comeuppance when they think condominiums are full of tenants. Many are not and these people are often home owners and voters. And that is why smart politicians give condos high priority for rainy campaigning days.

Mind you, here in Babel, we are all second class citizens when it came to voting this year. The city still uses an antiquated voting system that actually creates a paper trail. This is a system that figuratively includes both belts and suspenders. Four years ago, the system came unglued when the voting unit counts where tallied (supposedly automatically) by the city computers. Between the delay at the polling booths to ensure everybody in line got to vote and the cumbersome system, we were about an hour and a half late finding out the final results.

When it was suggested that the city should make the move this year to starting using Internet voting, the civil servants seemed horrified at the suggestion. As silly as it is, they seem to like their strangely mixed system. All the voter sees is that this very helpful person goes into the voting booth area with them and one-at-a-time tells the voters how to cast their ballot. This takes more time with some than others but each voter is given access to the correct school trustee vote and the correct list of ward councillor aspirants.

They are then left alone to make their choices. What we found was that the explanation took at least a minute (with no questions or concerns) and then about 15 seconds to vote and to end up with a screen ready for the next voter. All in all, it is not very efficient or fast and those machines look very expensive. And we bet the new software every election costs more than a few dollars.


Copyright 2014 © Peter Lowry

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Checking back on the Morning Line for Toronto.

October 22nd, 2014 by Peter Lowry

This is a repeat of Babel-on-the-Bay’s entry of September 4 this year. It has been an overly long and arduous municipal campaign for Toronto voters and candidates. As we always used to say to our campaign workers: Vote early…and often!

This mayoralty contest has been an uphill battle for broadcaster John Tory. His instinct was right last year when it was obvious that he saw no redemption for him in going after the mayor’s job. The people who convinced him to run were also right.

Toronto needs John Tory more than John Tory needs the city. He is a businessman with typical business strengths and weaknesses. He can make decisions and stick with them. He is a strong leader and has demonstrated the ability to negotiate. He is also a political person. He is a Conservative in the Bill Davis mould. Those long-ago breakfasts with Brampton Bill at the Park Plaza paid off handsomely for the young lawyer and along with his relationship with Ted Rogers got John Tory away from a boring career with the family law firm.

John Tory knows Toronto far better than any competitor in the mayoralty race. He knows what the city needs and he knows how to make it happen. Gridlock and transit needs have kept his campaign focussed on what Toronto most needs at this time. His SmartTrack surface rail solution is the most practical and cost-sensitive answer to keeping the city moving. It is the right direction. It is neither a new nor overly expensive solution and fits in well with the Ontario government’s plan to electrify and speed commuter lines in and around Toronto.

He is the only candidate for mayor who can make this simple solution happen. And it needs to happen as soon as possible.

Another thing Torontonians can count on with Tory is that he will create a working executive committee that will take back the reins of control of the city from the civil servants. It means we will see more actual progress in Toronto in the next four years than we have seen in the last 15, since Toronto’s forced and poorly managed amalgamation.

All John Tory has to do over the time left before the election is articulate his feelings and belief in Toronto as a great city. Despite all the foolish and ill-considered insults from the Chow people, Tory has kept his cool. He has stayed on track.

We wish John Tory well. He has not had an easy time of it and he has a tough job ahead of him as Mayor of Toronto.


Copyright 2014 © Peter Lowry

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Harris helps harass the Hair.

October 21st, 2014 by Peter Lowry

Canada’s prime minister a.k.a. the Hair does not have a large number of friends. And that short list obviously does not include Canadian author and journalist Michael Harris. We hear that Harris’ newly published list of the Hair’s shortcomings is a rather lengthy book. Called Party of One: Stephen Harper and Canada’s Radical Makeover, Harris seems to have done the political job for the Hair’s political detractors. After all, we bloggers were never going to get the job done without some expert help.

The Hair’s attempts at controlling and demeaning parliament are said to be well documented and his smearing of Canada’s international reputation covered in some detail. Released at the same time as Justin Trudeau’s book, Harris’ book might help to relegate Trudeau’s book to the puff piece that it is.

The advantage that Harris had in his endeavour was the ability to spend the time needed to interview those whose lives have been directly affected by the Hair and those who knew him on his way to creating his imperial style of the role of prime minister. People such as mentor former Reform Party Leader Preston Manning and one-time sycophant former Conservative MP Helena Guergis are just side-swipes in the Hair’s blind drive to absolute power.

While it is reported that much of what Harris has to say about the Hair is anecdotal, it might be presumptuous to compare it to Peter Newman’s 1963 Renegade in Power: The Diefenbaker Years wherein Newman assessed the weaknesses of then Prime Minister John Diefenbaker. As the Hair would tell you, John Diefenbaker had human failings. The Hair does not believe he does.

Since there is a great deal more reading still to do before analysing Harris’ entire book, we can only suggest that it is good that it is now available to us. It could be as simple as picking a page at random as food for thought in the current day’s commentary on the Hair. Thank you, Michael Harris.


Copyright 2014 © Peter Lowry

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Meaningless measuring for meaningless media.

October 20th, 2014 by Peter Lowry

When you take a poll to help sell newspapers, how serious can you be? Does the poll even matter if it restates the obvious? It is giving the entire business of polls a bad name.

Take the Toronto Star. The Star hires Forum Research to take a poll. Last week the poll was on the candidates for the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party leadership. It is a very cheap poll. Since it is so unimportant neither the Star not Forum Research really want to waste much money. They knew the answers before they took the poll.

Would you believe that 60 per cent of the Ontario residents polled have no idea? Mind you a third of those people said ‘None of the above.’ They got better answers when they narrowed the poll down to Conservative supporters.

This is what happens when you use that silly interactive telephone response system. It supposedly dials at random and asks automated questions of whoever answers. The way people talk to those calls, they should have their mouths washed out with a strong soap.

This type of survey is based on quantity of answers, not quality. They answers are suspect before you even start to count. Take another poll the next day and you will find wild swings in the results. And when you just pick the ones who said they voted Conservative, you not only get a much smaller sample but you might get ones who know something of the questions.

So are you surprised that MPP Christine Elliot, Jim Flaherty’s widow from Whitby-Oshawa, got 14 per cent support? MPP Lisa MacLeod of Nepean-Carleton was second with 9 per cent. Two male MPPs in the race and the one MP were at 6 per cent or less.

And if you want to give any credibility at all to any of those figures, they tell you that there is a long way to go before Conservatives in Ontario get to pick a new provincial leader next May. It is far too early to place any bets on this political race or to consider publishing a morning line.

But it just goes to show that the Toronto Star and its faithful pollster are keeping you abreast of the political scene in Ontario.


Copyright 2014 © Peter Lowry

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Justin’s book written by the choir.

October 19th, 2014 by Peter Lowry

Nobody expects that Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s puff piece that has just been published is actually written by him. It comes as a shock though when he describes the process as more like a choral arrangement. It sounds like a process that takes out any spontaneity, edge or passion from what is being published. It sounds like a waste of time. We should not be too eager to read the literary reviews. Forget the Geller Prize.

What Trudeau believes is that the book is an opportunity for Canadians to see the differences between his Liberal approach and the present Conservative government’s plans. The only problem with that is that we have little to go on today to really understand where Trudeau and his choir want to take us. Liberal platitudes are readily available but a concrete Liberal future has yet to be articulated.

And we have every reason to be concerned about the Liberal vision of this country. Trudeau cannot continue to curry favour in Alberta by supporting pipelines unless there is clear understanding that there has to be limits to tar sands pollution. Canadians have every right to expect the Liberals to have a plan ready to provide such things as a national drug program and better coordination of Medicare delivery. No doubt we will be trapped into some of the Conservative tax cuts but reality is that Canadians have the right to expect a strong and effective national government and that costs money. That means some truths must be told.

The family tidbits have to be there to promote the book as a biography but that is necessarily thin. Pierre Trudeau was an austere and distant person but at the same time a loving father. Nor are his mother’s issues hidden and Justin deals with them. If you are looking for intimacy though, you best look elsewhere.

The story this writer would like to read is the first campaign for Justin’s riding of Papineau in 2008. That was his real baptism into politics and we wonder about the influences and experiences that took him to Ottawa and eventually to the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada. We expect that period is glossed over.

But there will be a market for the book. It will be required reading for the minions in the Prime Minister’s Office. Know your enemy will be their excuse. They are already convinced they know everything else.


Copyright 2014 © Peter Lowry

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This is war Ms. Wynne.

October 18th, 2014 by Peter Lowry

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and her so-called Liberal Party are having a love in down in Windsor today. They had better enjoy that group hug inside because the town of Windsor is not feeling all that loving. And neither are a lot of liberals in Ontario.

It is a banker problem. It started with asking a banker like Don Drummond to solve Ontario’s financial problems. Drummond was a waste of time. Now you have a report from Ed Clark, another banker. These reports are supposedly to help Wynne’s finance guy, Charles Sousa, another erstwhile banker. And that only proves that we have to stop asking bankers difficult questions.

And did Ms. Wynne really hire former politicians Janet Ecker and Frances Lankin to assist the banker? What kind of political payoff was that? Should she not have hired some people who understood the social impacts and long-term financial consequences of what was being discussed?

If these so-called experts are going to examine rationalization of Ontario hydro distribution or rationalization of alcohol distribution in Ontario, why not give them the types of experts who understand the implications of this rationalization?

It is something of a joke for the panel to report that the Liquor stores should sell 12-packs as well as 6-packs of beer—but not two-fours! That is the kind of incremental crap that Ontario citizens have been fed for years and they are getting damn sick of it. The report’s answers on beer, wine and alcohol distribution fail to address any of the real issues.

And just how the hell is the Ontario government going to get more revenue out of those awful beer stores without the foreign owners of the Beer Store getting more and more unearned profits?

What Ms. Wynne and her sycophants in Windsor this weekend do not realize is that this is not a very important issue in the overall concerns of Ontario citizens. It just happens to be a concern for progressive voters who were very helpful in defeating Timmy Hudak and Andrea Horwath in the last election. Ms. Wynne should pay more attention to who the people are she is pissing off.

By the way, there is one thing the TD Bank executive said in his report that made sense. He said that “The LCBO should build its business around what the consumer wants, instead of what it wants.” That is exactly what privatization would achieve.


Copyright 2014 © Peter Lowry

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The Hair harvests his hopes.

October 17th, 2014 by Peter Lowry

Canada’s prime minister must be quite happy these days. There is actually a world-wide glut of oil driving down the price of crude oil. The Hair has taken us to the promised land of the oil economy and Canadians are reaping the rewards. They are also watching stock markets plummet and their eyes are rising skyward and they are saying, ‘Please, this is just a market correction, we hope.’

Who knew—other than the Hair—that fracking and tar sands would save the day for Canada’s economy? It was a brave move to dismiss the manufacturing sector in Ontario and Quebec as inconsequential. At a time when the Canadian dollar is in free fall, we have little left in the way of manufactured goods to offer our American friends. Despite the Hair’s efforts, little has come of the free trade agreements he keeps ballyhooing. Not that we have much other than bitumen and pork to offer.

Just consider the prescience of the Hair. How could he have been more helpful to the tar sands economy? He has allowed the industry years of dithering over what if any environmental standards they would consider. Despite the promises, we have watched for those years as the Alberta landscape vanishes under the black cloud of carbon emissions from the heating and polluting of fresh water to drive the bitumen out of the pristine wilderness. We have watched open pit mining devastate the landscape.

We are also seeing old pipelines rededicated to the push to take bitumen to the seaports to share its pollution with the world. And when a tar sands booster talks about our going from sea to sea to sea, that third sea is the Texas Gulf ports where the Keystone XL pipeline is headed—if President Obama agrees.

We have watched as the Hair has gutted the federal government of scientists who would dare question his direction. His minions have stripped statistics Canada of the ability to analyse the Hair’s influence on the economy. In all, his government has dumped some 20,000 civil servants who might have made a difference. The Hair has stripped the federal government down to the lean and mean with the emphasis on mean. What successor, if any, would dare to take back his tax-cut incentives to vote Conservative?

What we are dealing with here is the legacy of the Hair. He might be proud of that legacy. We have all paid for it.


Copyright 2014 © Peter Lowry

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Entering the end game in municipal politics.

October 16th, 2014 by Peter Lowry

Political apparatchiks can get into endless arguments about how best to handle the end game in a municipal campaign. The key question is in setting priorities. You will never seem to have enough workers to do the ground job. So what takes precedence? It is a question John Tory, Olivia Chow and the Ford brothers must be asking themselves as their campaigns go into the end game.

What are the chances, for example, for a good roorback? A roorback is an American political invention in that it is something scurrilous about your opponent that you disseminate when is too late for the opponent to respond. It certainly has to be something other than telling voters that John Tory endorsed Doug Ford four years ago. First of all it is true and secondly Olivia Chow’s campaigners have been telling people that for the last couple months.

The other problem is that today’s 24-hour news channels and social media have eliminated the problem of fast response. That can ruin a good roorback.

One of the most interesting aspects of this campaign for mayor is that most of the attacks on John Tory are falling on deaf ears. They are serving more to confirm the individual vote than to change it. It all comes down to transit. Despite all the virulent attacks on Mr. Tory’s transit plan, it is the only one that is connecting with the voters. Olivia Chow is coming across as the downtown champion of bicycles and buses that guarantees congestion for years to come. And the Ford brothers have already proved that their ‘subways, subways, subways’ mantra is going nowhere.

And even if John Tory’s SmartTrack plan is a crock, he will at least leave the city with some dignity as he goes down with his ship. After all, SmartTrack was just an interesting proposal. It only gains credibility in that the Ontario government is already planning electrification of the commuter train lines. It is a very short step from there to expand the number of stations along the way. When you look at Chicago, you see the logic of the train lines that became the elevated lines that served to speed that city’s progress.

During this week and on October 27, the objective of all municipal candidates has to be to get out the vote. By telephone, by door knocking and every way possible, you have to get the voters to the polls. If half the voters stay home, they are likely to be the ones who were thinking of voting for your candidate.


Copyright 2014 © Peter Lowry

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