Don’t sweat the small stuff.

November 14th, 2019 by Peter Lowry

It seems that we are dealing totally in the small stuff these days. Imagine getting outraged by that blowhard on Coach’s Corner between the first and second period of Hockey Night in Canada. That is the viewer’s opportunity to get a fresh beer or to go to the washroom. I am now sick of that constant repeating on television of what Cherry said in that stupid rant. That was more than I ever wanted to hear from him.

But if the Rogers people need a replacement for Cherry, I think they should talk to Jason Kenney. Kenney might seem to have an interesting perch out there in Alberta, but I think his real love is the federal scene. He might want to come back to the East to get ready for when Scheer gets turfed by the Tories.

And Scott Moe of Saskatchewan would make a good back up for Kenney. He is more of a whiner that Kenney and he might not know much about hockey but get him a couple good writers, teach him how to read a teleprompter and you have the perfect solution.

And I never have figured out the role of Don Maclean on that schtick. He always stands there like a dummy. And I could have sworn he nodded just once during that rant but he was hardly keeping Cherry under control. His apology was too late. Should Rogers not fire him?

Another small problem is the lack of cabinet representation for Alberta and Saskatchewan. I think it is a shame that the five million plus, Canadians in these two provinces are not represented in the federal cabinet. I realize that it is hard to plan these things in advance but just whom do you think is responsible for this state of affairs? If the dislike for liberalism is that overarching in those two provinces, why give them someone else to hate by appointing some western liberals to the senate and then to the cabinet?

Back in the heyday of the Reform Party of Preston Manning, he used the slogan ‘The West wants in.’ Now we are told, ‘The West wants out.’ Alberta belongs to all of us. Where do they think they can take it?


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Now do the decent thing.

November 13th, 2019 by Peter Lowry

Green leader Elizabeth May did the right thing. The other major party leaders, Scheer, Singh and Trudeau should follow. None completed the recent election with honour. Scheer won the popular vote and lost the election. Singh lost ground for the new democrats. Trudeau lost the West but won Ontario and Quebec and held on with a minority.

May improved her party’s membership in the commons by 50 per cent (one member) and then she resigned. In comparison, Singh lost a third of the new democratic party seats and thinks he is a hero. That supposed surge for Singh in the latter part of the campaign was reluctant NDPers admitting that there was not much choice and coming home to their party.

What is particularly odious about the crushing of Singh was the loss of former NDP seats in Quebec to the Bloc Québécois. The Bloc also took over the third-party status of the new democrats.

It will be at the first opportunity for his party to have a secret vote on his leadership that will end Jagmeet Singh’s career in federal politics. The same end is likely to be in store for Andrew Scheer.

The most amusing aspect of Mr. Scheer’s dilemma is that he could have been prime minister today, trying to win the approval of other parties to support him. What it would have taken was a change in the position taken by members of his party on the special commons committee on electoral reform. This was the committee that studied proportional representation and the conservative members of the committee insisted on holding a referendum. Nobody anticipated that a referendum would approve such a change and Justin Trudeau was forced to renege on his promise.

Despite his many short-comings, Justin Trudeau might be the only party leader able to survive a leadership vote at the next meeting of his political party. The problem is that Trudeau has been busy attempting to turn the liberal party into more of a cult than a traditional Canadian political party.


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Justin Trudeau defends NATO?

November 12th, 2019 by Peter Lowry

There seems to be a difference of opinion between French President Emmanuel Macron and prime minister Justin Trudeau of Canada. Macron says that the 70-year old North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is suffering brain death, while Canada’s PM thinks it is doing ‘just fine, thank you.’

Trudeau insists that NATO is holding its own as a group of countries that come together to share values and an ongoing commitment to shared security.

And if he thinks such defence will earn him any ‘thanks’ in Washington, Trudeau is whistling past the graveyard. Donald Trump will be just as stupid when he gets up tomorrow as he was today.

The Americans who supported NATO in the past deserve much of the credit for creating and holding NATO together as any other country. Yet, to not police Turkish despot Erdogan’s flirting with the Russians is a serious error in leadership. To abandon allies such as the Kurds in Syria is also a disgrace. And yet all Trump complains about is the countries that, he thinks, are not spending enough on defence.

The Canadian government and its citizens have backed NATO since its inception. And Canada has done its part in trying to keep the organization strong and effective.

And it is hard to imagine the Canadian who would be proud of their prime minister kissing the nether parts of that ass in the White House.

As Babel-on-the-Bay reported yesterday, French President Emmanuel Macron has taken a bold step forward to build a new reality in a unified Europe. He may not be the reincarnation of Charlemagne and a united Europe would not be the Holy Roman Empire but it would be a financial and military heavy weight. Monsieur le President Macron does not think small.


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The new Charlemagne: Emmanuel Macron?

November 11th, 2019 by Peter Lowry

Until the last four years, the view of Europe has been as an economic union. That is now changing and we can start to think of Europe as a political union. And as a political union, it joins China and the United States of America as one of the three most powerful political entities in the world.

It used to be that as an economic union, the Brits provided the humour, the Germans supplied the industrial and organizational muscle and the French provided the ideas.  That has all changed now as the Brits write themselves out of any future importance and German Chancellor Angela Merkel retires. It is now the occupant of the Elysée Palace in Paris who can write Europe’s future.

And he has to. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is crumbling. American leadership is erratic and unreliable. American allies in the Middle East have been stabbed in the back by America’s unthinking brutality. The Chinese want nothing to do with the American leadership while Russia’s Putin considers Trump an ally. And the despots of Turkey and North Korea sing songs of praise for their friend Donald Trump.

It is almost 2000 years since Charlemagne brought order and cohesion to Europe. It is easier this time. No wars are necessary. Logic and business are the only arguments. And the French president builds his case well.

You can read his arguments in the recent feature by The Economist. He says that Europe stands at the precipice and must stand together. With or without the Brits in tow, Europe has to start to think as a single political entity. It has to unify its armies—and probably save money in the process. It needs to understand the team spirit.

Many believe Macron has bitten off too much in trying to bring Europe together. He is a risk taker. He would not be where he is today, were he not. I am sure he understands that.


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Canada’s elitist senate studies itself.

November 10th, 2019 by Peter Lowry

An argument in Canada’s senate recently was whether an independent member could spend public money to study the public attitude about the senate. While we are not entirely clear on why, it seems that independent senator Donna Dasko spent $15,000 of public money and expected it to be paid from the senate’s petty cash account. The argument flared in the senate’s internal economy committee.

The argument was on pseudo party lines between senators appointed by the previous conservative prime minister Stephen Harper and independent senators recommended by the elite recommendations committee and appointed by liberal prime minister Justin Trudeau.

What seemed to annoy the conservative members of the committee was that the independent majority approved the expense despite the claim from the conservatives that they had not even read the questions the survey asked. It also seemed improper to the conservatives that the questions were in the field just before the federal election. That seemed to be a bit partisan to these political appointees.

Senator Dasko has an excellent reputation in the polling industry as well as years of experience with Environics Research.  No doubt, we can be confident that she would not (knowingly) let the questions reflect the fact that she is a member of the organization she was studying. Though we are not entirely surprised that her basic finding is that Canadians seem to approve of liberal Justin Trudeau’s changes to the senate. It is even more likely that Canadians would welcome the immediate dismissal of the entire bunch of senators.

You hardly need a survey to find out that Canadians would be much happier with no senate for which they had to pay. The original intent of the senate was to give land owners across the country regional representation to review the expenditures of the elected commoners.

The major problem is that these senators, conservative or independent are still the only unelected people in Ottawa controlling their own ever-increasing expenses.


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“Regrets, I’ve had a few…

November 9th, 2019 by Peter Lowry

That is not contrition. When Frank Sinatra sang Paul Anka’s song My Way, he said those regrets were too few to mention. The listener is left wondering what is left untold that he does not mention. It is the same as Ontario premier Doug Ford’s crushing changes to the province’s welfare system. This cruel exercise in false populism has led to restoring one aspect after another of social welfare payments to desperate people. And yet we are left wondering, what cuts are yet to be mentioned? How do we restore faith in the government?

And what has this government proved by its actions?

We know that this is an ideological government. It is a vindictive government. It is a government that is led by an incompetent.

It has been very interesting watching Education minister Stephen Lecce try to clean up the mess in education left behind by Lisa Thompson. Thompson, as minister, did what the ideologues in the Ford cabinet demanded in terms of class sizes, in hopes of savings in teachers’ salaries. Nobody had considered the fact that teachers and school staff across Ontario were ready to negotiate new contracts this fall. Lecce made sure there was some very quick footwork in the ministry to restore jobs and improve student/teacher ratios. He and the government still face tough bargaining.

There is also little question that the back tracking on amalgamating municipalities is saving Ford’s government from further confrontations. It is still hard for the premier himself to find an audience that will not boo him in Toronto. There is little question but that Doug Ford kept the federal conservatives from any inroads into the Greater Toronto Area in the recent federal election. He gave conservatism a bad name.

It comes as no surprise that he is now making vague promises to be a little more careful. Most school yard bullies will make that promise. We will just need to wait and see.


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‘Goddamn the CPR.’

November 8th, 2019 by Peter Lowry

Can you imagine two more Canadian icons than journalist Allan Fotheringham and the Canadian Pacific Railway? It came as a pleasant surprise recently to see a television interview with ‘Doc Foth.’ He was as sardonic as ever. I have always admired Fotheringham for his writing skills and his humour. In fact, I have not read a copy of Maclean’s magazine since they unceremoniously retired him in 2002.

But all I was trying to do was check my memory of something I think Allan wrote 20 or 30 years ago. It was the probably apocryphal story of the Saskatchewan farmer whose wife ran off with a drummer, whose daughter did not know who got her pregnant and the locusts destroyed his wheat. The farmer looks to the heavens, shakes his fist and roars: ‘Goddamn the CPR.’

A friend reminded me of the story when he asked me about a Toronto Star editorial cartoon by Michael de Adder that he did not understand. It was a drawing of Alberta premier Jason Kenney at his desk and he had spilled his little bucket of paper clips. The comment coming from his mouth is: ‘@#Z$ Trudeau.’

What the cartoonist was showing was the well-known penchant of our dear friends out on the Prairies for blaming someone else for their spills and other problems. From the time when then prime minister Pierre Trudeau had asked some Prairie farmers a rhetorical question about selling their wheat, it has been popular across the Prairies to replace the CPR with a ‘Trudeau’ when complaining to their deity.

For all that our current prime minister Trudeau has tried to do for the Prairies, he is still vilified by Prairie politicians. My respectful advice to these politicians is that they should own the problems they create. Nobody in Ottawa is responsible for the volatility of crude oil pricing on world markets. Nor are they responsible for the environmental problems when shipping diluted bitumen. And they can tell Jason Kenney to pick up his own ‘@#Z$ paper clips.’


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It comes down to sidewalks.

November 7th, 2019 by Peter Lowry

Do we trust our governments to spend our tax money wisely? What kind of democracy is this when our municipal politicians hew to the right or left of the political divide? In Toronto, that supposed haven of liberalism, the debate rages at city council about the costs of mechanically clearing sidewalks of snow or the alternative of threatening home owners with fines if they do not clear the sidewalk in front of their properties.

A friend called the other day in high dudgeon on the issue. He had recently had a 75th birthday and did not appreciate being threatened. Sure, he said, in years gone by, he had given his stretch of sidewalk a thorough shovelling, as needed. The time has come, he told me, for the city to take over. And, instead, they were arguing among themselves as to whether it was properly the responsibility of the city.

This, to me, has got to be one of the stupider aspects of conservatism. These people want smaller, cheaper government that does not involve itself in the concerns of the populace. They admit that it is more sensible for the city to plow the streets rather than everyone clearing the road in front of their home or business.  They just do not understand that heart attacks, hernias, frost bite and broken bones from slips and falls incurred when shovelling snow, cost us much more in the long term, than small sidewalk plows clearing our sidewalks.

As for my ancient friend, I advised him to contract with a 13 or 14-year old nascent capitalist in his neighbourhood who would shovel his walk and driveway for a reasonable sum. He can stay in by the fire and clip some coupons to pay for it.

And if he is still annoyed about the city councillors arguing about the expenditure, he could compose another cogent letter to the editor of the Toronto Star explaining why the right-wing councillors are fighting a losing battle.


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A failure in leadership.

November 6th, 2019 by Peter Lowry

If conservative leader Andrew Scheer is looking for compassion, he is looking in the wrong places. There is no succor for losers in Toronto’s Albany club. Long the King Street hangout of the rich and famous of Canadian conservatism, there is no compassion there for someone rejected by the voters of Toronto and the GTA.

And, no matter how you look at it, Chuckles’ days of power and privilege and free accommodation, in the opposition leader’s residence at Stornoway, are sliding away from him. He came, he saw what he wanted, and he lost. The story is that simple.

The only person who owes Andrew Scheer anything is Justin Trudeau. Chuckles kept Trudeau in power.

Most conservatives complicit in the selection of Andrew Sheer as leader of their party in 2017 considered him to be nothing more than a place-holder. His job was to hold the fort while Justin Trudeau went through the typical two terms as a young, fresh-faced prime minister. Nobody considered the liberal leader to be particularly vulnerable. The wheels only fell off the liberal bus early in 2019.

Liberals were cringing and conservatives were jubilant when the SNC-Lavalin affair hit the news media. It was the kind of affair that had legs. It dominated the media for months. It remains unresolved.

There were also broken promises and Trudeau’s use of his party lists for constant fund-raising that was tearing at the fabric of liberalism across Canada. The liberal party machine went into the fixed-date election in September, unprepared and in disarray.

It was an election to see who could sling the most mud. It lacked ethics, urgency and coherency. The liberals and conservatives (and, to their bias, the Parti Québécois) chose this election to divide the country. There were few answers for those of us concerned about climate change. People became tired of endless, meaningless promises as to how to spend their money.

It was a campaign that left every man and woman to look to their own needs and wants. There was no unifying theme. There was only ‘get mad, get even.’ It was a campaign to remember with sorrow. We were all losers. So far, the only party leader to do the honourable thing is Elizabeth May of the Greens. The other leaders should follow.


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Democracy costs $500?

November 5th, 2019 by Peter Lowry

For the past 60 years, we have watched Canadian politics spiral into a quagmire of failed ideologies and failed leadership. We continue the pattern by choosing leaders by old methods that are easily corrupted, that fail the voting public and fail our political parties. The planned contest for the leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party is an example of the problem.

Scheduled for March 6 and 7, 2020, the provincial liberal hierarchy is running an outmoded delegated convention in Toronto. It is a convention to supposedly decide on a new leader. In some electoral districts, massive signing of ethnic groups will take votes away from local liberals and send controlled delegates to an easily rigged convention.

Costs to delegates at the convention (if they pay by February 21) is $499 and just $249 for seniors and youths. You may rest assured that any and all deficits that the party still faces from the last election will be covered by these punitive fees.

Once the delegates, who can afford it, get to the convention, they will find it is not their event. It is the party elite of past and present—MPs, MPPs and party officials—who control the convention. At the last convention, that chose Kathleen Wynne, the question was already locked in as fellow candidate Glen Murray had passed all his delegates to her when it was too late to change the delegate voting ballots. Wynne went into that convention in just second place but it was the losers who chose her. They were the third and fourth place candidates who took their voters with them to support Wynne. It reinforced the idea that the losers are the choosers.

Some political parties have tried to overcome this problem by using preferential voting. This is where the voter is asked to number all the candidates in order of preference on the first (and only) ballot. That was the way the federal conservatives voted for their last leader. And look what they got!

The liberals will only have democracy in their party when all members can vote. And continue to vote until one candidate has a majority. Democracy should not cost $500 per voter.


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