Waiting for the Left to shine.

May 2nd, 2016 by Peter Lowry

If you are old enough to remember hearing the 1960s Les Paul and Mary Ford recording of the World is Waiting for the Sunrise, you might also be wondering when the New Democrats are going to be old enough to know when they are going to shine. And with the success of the federal Liberals passing them on the left last year, few observers are surprised at the current discontent among the NDP rank and file. There does not seem to be an historical memory in the party.

You would think a memory could be retained for at least a year. In 2014 in the Ontario provincial election, the same mistake was made. Nobody learned from it. There were the usual left of centre concerns and promises but the provincial NDP leader was completely caught off guard by the Liberal’s offer to improve pensions for Ontario residents. The campaign came to the obvious conclusion when the Conservative leader made a desperation promise to fire a 100,000 civil servants. What he did of course was threaten the jobs of a million voters. The Conservatives bled votes, the NDP had confused the voters and the Liberals romped to a majority.

If you could have believed the pollsters last year, for the first half of the campaign the federal NDP and the Conservatives were duking it out, each with hopes of at least a minority government. It was those politicos that had been paying attention to the campaign style of Justin Trudeau and the Liberals, who knew where to place their bets.

It was when the pollsters started to get readings on the younger voters that they began to see the inevitable. And yet Mulcair and his inner circle seemed to ignore what was happening. They assumed something of a bunker mentality and kept on believing their earlier statistics.

It was that hope for power that fooled the NDP those two elections in a row. The party believed it was due to inherit again what the New Democrat Bob Rae had won in Ontario in 1990 and was torn from his hands after one short term. power. They saw it as redemption.

But there was no sunrise for the NDP in 2015. Back in third place in Canada’s parliament Thomas Mulcair found himself evicted from office at the party’s first opportunity.

And that is where the NDP sits today—waiting for the sunrise.

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Copyright 2016 © Peter Lowry

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

When controlling media, look like you’re not.

May 1st, 2016 by Peter Lowry

The other day Lisa LaFlamme of CTV News was actually gushing when she said she was reporting from Northern Iraq. She was flattered and delighted to be reporting from just down the road from where the dreaded Daesh, or ISIL or ISIS, or pretenders at being an Islamic State are holed up in the Iraq city of Mosul. She had been selected for this honour by the Department of National Defence. CTV and the Toronto Star were following the chief of the defence staff on a tour of Canadian operations in Northern Iraq with Kurdish peshmerga army troops.

It was the best piece of self-serving media manipulation we have seen recently. You can only conjecture on what the military were selling to want to be baby-sitting reporters that close to a war zone.

And inviting experienced media people such as LaFlamme and Bruce Campion-Smith has other risks. These are not kids just off the rewrite desk. They know what questions to ask and they can be persistent.

And what has Defence got to sell? The only thing that seems to be in flux at this time is the question of rethinking the dumping of the Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighter. Some people are saying that National Defence wants the F-35 back in play. The over-priced, attack fighter hardly fits any of Canada’s defence needs and is the last aircraft that Canada should be considering.

But Defence’s top sales guy was there to carry the message. The reporters were treated to an extensive briefing by the chief of the defence staff. Lieutenant General Jonathan Vance said a few things that caught our attention. While he said we would be arming some of the elite Kurdish forces the Canadians have been training, there is to be no attempt to upgrade the equipment of the regular peshmerga soldiers–which means the Kurds will be on their own in confronting the confused leadership in Bagdad after the Daesh forces in Iraq have been destroyed.

And Vance bravely said Daesh would be destroyed. That is a strange promise for a general who is not going to allow his Canadians to enter Syria.

It seemed to be no secret that the peshmerga are to be used to mop up the Daesh fighters when they try to escape Mosul by heading north to the Syrian or Turkish borders. That seems to be on the assumption that the Iraqi forces (with their American ‘trainers’) are able to chase them out of Mosul.

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Copyright 2016 © Peter Lowry

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

Not by half Premier Wynne.

April 30th, 2016 by Peter Lowry

Once again Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has taken small steps when big steps were needed. She has failed us. She promises much and delivers little. She said she would release the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) report on the Andrew Loku death. What her government has released is just going to cause more distrust of our police services. This has satisfied nobody.

Whenever you see a government report released late on a Friday, you know it will not bear close scrutiny. It used to be that government or business news released at that time would receive the least scrutiny. That is no longer the case in a twenty-four-seven news environment.

But it fits the pattern of the Wynne approach to governing. Wynne’s is a government that promises the voter a sumptuous dinner and then hands the voter a bologna sandwich. It is a government that promises beer in grocery stores. And it did, if you can find one? It promises fund-raising reform—for the opposition parties. It promises lower automobile insurance rates—if you will settle for far less coverage?

And the list of failures goes on. The time of reckoning is two years away.

But who is the government serving with releasing a heavily edited sham of an SIU report. Do you want to believe a man with a hammer is a danger to armed police officers? Was drunkenness why they shot him? Who was he endangering? And why was there an ‘improper’ attempt at securing of surveillance video of the event? Are the police beyond our control?

Premier Wynne seems to have forgotten that the Ontario government is responsible for regulating police services throughout the province. It is the government that makes the rules on behalf of the citizens. If the people lose confidence in their police services, they are also going to lose confidence in the government.

You can read what the Ministry of the Attorney General has released for yourself. It is not worth commenting on. All we know is that a man was shot to death last July in a confrontation in a Toronto apartment building. Was he attacking someone with a hammer? We do not know that. We do not know why he was shot. We do not know who is to blame. It is as though we knew more before the report was released.

Premier Wynne should know the difference between a report that tells you nothing and a report that explains the circumstances. It is something that you should know if you want to be premier.

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Copyright 2016 © Peter Lowry

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

Donald Trump is still a long-shot.

April 29th, 2016 by Peter Lowry

When Babel-on-the-Bay put out a morning line on Donald Trump’s run for the Roses of the American Presidency, 25 to 1 odds was the best we could predict. Nothing has changed to improve his position.

Donald Trump is still an out-of-control egoist. As any farmer can tell you, you can paint a pig any color you wish but, he is still a pig.

It was like the other day when Trump introduced his foreign affairs program in a Washington hotel. It probably would have been smart not to invite the news media to what was obviously a trial run. They made every effort for him. They got him a teleprompter just like the big kids use to keep them on subject. The audience was subdued and they listened.

But what they listened to was a waste of time. You can hardly call a long series of platitudes a foreign policy. And sure, he wants to do something about the brigands from the so-called Islamic State, but so do many other countries. He just forgot to tell us how. And then he implies that he wants to surprise them. He might also surprise us.

Trump’s next problem in this presidential race is to get a speech writer that he can live with for the next six months. And, be advised, a speech writer is not just someone who can put the words together for you. The best speech writers listen very carefully to how their subject speaks, what words they use, when they take a breath and when a break for applause is natural.

And Trump has to learn that foreign policy is not a pool everyone can wade in. Foreign affairs have more depth, they deal with other cultures, different morals and unfamiliar customs. Trump’s approach throughout his speech was naïve, childish and nothing more than braggadocio. It made little sense. Most of what he said could be catastrophic in implementation and could even end in armed conflict. And that is just with the Mexicans. You can imagine how his policies would go down with countries that do not like Americans?

Take Vladimir Putin and the situation with Russia. Mr. Putin achieves his objectives by pushing the envelope. He takes neighbouring countries over one piece at a time. He sells arms to tyrants so that they can use them to kill their own people. Donald Trump says he will negotiate with Mr. Putin. What is he going to offer him, a Trump hotel in Moscow?

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Copyright 2016 © Peter Lowry

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

Donald Trump’s evolution.

April 28th, 2016 by Peter Lowry

The Donald is supposed to be evolving as he emerges from the sewers of the Republican Party primary race. He has invested some money in an old-time political spin doctor who now explains that Trump is in the process of evolving into a persona more suitable to America’s highest office. And if you buy into that, you are as gullible as the people who are already buying into the Trump fiasco.

It is easy to believe that at the beginning of the campaign Trump listened to the political two-step that Republican contestants were dancing to and knew that approach would never work for him. This guy has been selling pie in the sky for too many years to believe they were on the right track. How could he be believed if he joined that chorus line spouting that religion, the National Rifle Association, and an anti-liberal stance was all that was needed to defeat the Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton?

Trump started out with a slogan.  As a long-time marketer, he knew that was needed. He settled on Make America Strong Again and he just keeps saying it. It is a hell of a slogan. Nobody would dare suggest that America was already strong enough. That would be anti-American.

Trump also knew that the mob of Republicans already in the race needed to be divided. They all despised him, so he had to take out the ones smart enough to do him any damage. The strongest seems to be this guy Ted Cruz from Texas. He might seem to be a smarmy bastard but he has his weak points. Trump has kept reminding people that Cruz was born in Canada. That probably made him a closet Liberal like all those wishy-washy Canucks.

But the most fun was Trump vilifying the Mexicans. He really knew how to appeal to American bigotry. He was going to build a wall to keep those despicable people out of the Good Ole U.S. of A. It is going to run all the way from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. And to handle any concerns about this idea, he said he was going to make the Mexicans pay for it. And would you believe that lots of bikers, bigots, holly rollers and Tea Party crazies were stupid enough to think he was presidential material?

But his crusade went on. He said he was going to stop all Muslims from entering America.  His only really dumb bit of bluster was to ridicule Hillary for being a woman. And in the process he denigrated women. He has actually pissed off half the population of America.

But there is still a lot of hot air coming out of the Trump campaign and very little of it is in the realm of reason. And this hot shot spin doctor he has hired to make him acceptable to the Republican establishment is just more hot air.

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Copyright 2016 © Peter Lowry

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

Meeting ordinary Canadians at Kananaskis.

April 27th, 2016 by Peter Lowry

You have to hand it to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. He really knows how to get out there and meet with ordinary Canadians. And when your cabinet needs to discuss further fixes in Employment Insurance, what better place than another luxury resort.

Nestled in a cradle of the Canadian Rockies, Kananaskis is the jewel of Marriott’s Delta hotels. With rates between $150 and $300 Canadian per day, you can be assured that our federal cabinet will have all the luxury and pampering they desire during their ‘meet the hoi polloi’ trip west.

While waiting for ordinary Canadians to show up, they had a Welcome Wagon arrive driven by the local premier, Rachel Notley. The lady wanted these visitors to know that the province is having a tag day for the executives at Enbridge, Kinder Morgan and TransCanada Pipelines. And she wanted a lot of loonies in her collection box for them.

This improbable socialist, told the cabinet members that she is as green as the next person but pollution hardly matters when all of Canada has to get behind the cause of getting the output of those Alberta tar sands to tide water. She wants to blame the foreigners who process the bitumen into synthetic oil for the pollution it will cause.

But Premier Notley was just a one-day wonder. The cabinet came for some of that brisk mountain air, fine dining and the pampering of the spa.

And, yes, there will also be some discussion of some of those very silly promises made by the Prime Minister when he still did not think he would win the election last year. Luckily nobody can really define what it means to be middle class so he does not have to worry about those people too much. He is already getting a taste of what is going to happen with his right-to-die law and he is starting to realize that everyone might just have their prayers answered when his elite Senate sits on it instead of passing it.

And he did very foolishly say that 2015 would be the last time Canadians use first-past-the-post voting to choose their MPs. His improbable choice of minister to look after this portfolio must be wondering if she should use an Ouija board to find an answer that might work.

But what the hey? What other job would take you to the best resorts the country has to offer?

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Copyright 2016 © Peter Lowry

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

Doors still open to municipal corruption.

April 26th, 2016 by Peter Lowry

If virtue is its own reward, what is the reward for hypocrisy? And what does it mean when municipal politicians tell you that there will be no more corruption when they ban corporate and union donations? What problems does that solve?

What is the point when the most important contributions to campaigns are not recognized as being of value? These contributions can create literature, develop campaign strategies, plan and prepare speeches and create a persona for a candidate that might be far from reality. When companies, unions, and community organizations decide to support a candidate, how does the voter separate the truth from the image that has been created? And what is the value of the campaign work ‘contributed’ at the urging of the employer or union? That is the hypocrisy of municipal politicians not accepting money from corporations and unions.

What is more serious is continuing to allow candidates to self-finance their campaigns? Why have no limits been set in Ontario on what municipal candidates can spend? Do we only want the rich to control our municipalities?

But there are still so many ways around the rules. Developers who really want the support of city councillors can find many routes for their donations to reach the intended candidate. There are many pressure points.

And yet the Ontario government keeps polishing their buttons on their pledges to end possible corruption in provincial and municipal politics. The only problem is that the people who really know how the system works are never asked to help solve the problems. It is the people skilled in running political campaigns who know the work-arounds, the loopholes, the opportunities to make things happen.

Instead it is the politicians themselves who make the decisions and it is the academics who pontificate on the process. The apparatchiks who make things happen are kept hidden from the light of day.

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Copyright 2016 © Peter Lowry

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

All the Honourable Persons.

April 25th, 2016 by Peter Lowry

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau must be looking at the Senate of Canada and wishing he had taken a different approach. There is no guarantee that the honourable persons that he appoints to the Senate will have any more restraint than the returning Senator Mike Duffy.

A judge has declared that Duffy’s sense of entitlement was neither illegal nor improper and that he was not guilty of all 31 charges laid by the RCM Police. Since Duffy did not believe he was doing anything wrong, he was therefore doing nothing wrong. It was a ringing endorsement of entitlement. Duffy actually believed that he was entitled to reap the rewards of the out-dated honour system. Prime Minister Harper told him to.

The quandary for Mr. Trudeau is that most elites such as Duffy are known to have a strong sense of entitlement. Elites seem to share that sense of entitlement. They are used to finest foods, luxury accommodation and others paying their bills. If the prime minister wants senators who will work cheap, travel cheap, eat fast food, and skimp on the expenses, he should only appoint poor people. Poor people break into a sweat if they take home a few paper clips from the office.

But he has a committee out there trying to find elite potential senators for him. If he tells this committee that he only wants poor but elite senator possibilities, the committee is going to quit on him. Being from the elite themselves, they probably only know elite people. They are unlikely to know any poor people.

Having been around many Senators during years of working in political environs, we have known many very fine senators who have served this country well. They had the right to be called honourable.

But many of the senate appointments made by Stephen harper showed the contempt that he had for the senate. The judge at the Duffy trial made a point of commenting on the way Mr. Harper treated his senatorial appointments. He appointed some of the worst and he therefore got the worst from them.

While Mr. Trudeau’s approach attempts to distance him from the selection process, as Prime Minister, he is responsible for the final choice.

If he needs help with the new standards, we would be happy to do a cross country tour to find him senate candidates. We would go to the most likely Walmart’s in each province. If you are looking for poor people, that is the ideal place to start.

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Copyright 2016 © Peter Lowry

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

The Left’s lost moment in time.

April 24th, 2016 by Peter Lowry

Why do so many political writers believe that groupthink is achieved by constantly rewriting history? Never a fan of Ed Broadbent or the Broadbent Institute, it was still dismaying the other day to read a puff-piece in the Toronto Star about the so-called institute. It was promoting itself for activities planned for the next year.

But why launch self-congratulatory puffery with being excited about the publicity for the New Democratic Party in recent months. Much of that media attention was drawn by the controversy over NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair. While few could have predicted the measure of his downfall at the recent party convention, it was hardly positive attention for the NDP.

Even the publicity at the convention that featured an impassioned plea by Alberta Premier Rachel Notley for support of pipelines for the products of Alberta’s tar sands was far from being in line with core progressive policies of the NDP or anyone else.

And yet the Broadbent Institute writers give the back of their hand to the Leap Manifesto, the first really progressive material from the national NDP in many years. The creators of the manifesto hardly need to be patronized or put down by Broadbent and company.

For the writers of this puff-piece to point at fundraising tactics of the Liberal governments in Ontario and Quebec is a gratuitous smear that reflects badly on provincial NDP efforts in Ontario.

And when they laud the federal government for considering reforming the Canadian voting system, it is nothing more than a plug for proportional voting. To commend proportionality as an effective electoral system for democracies is farcical. It is also an effective system around the world for despots and police state tyrants. It gives all the power to centralized political parties and little to the people. It is a system designed for illiterate voters and separates the politicians from the people who elected them.

And can you imagine these people being proud of the claim that the word ‘socialism’ is the most looked up word in the Miriam-Webster on-line dictionary? All that means is that fewer people are aware today of what socialism really means.

While there is both good and bad among the issues promoted by the Broadbent Institute, the people there seem less and less in tune with the progressive side of Canadian politics. There is definitely little future for people who spend their time trying to rewrite history. Their moment in time might be long past.

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Copyright 2016 © Peter Lowry

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

Democracy begins on our street.

April 23rd, 2016 by Peter Lowry

It is impossible to sum 50 years of membership in the Liberal Party of Canada in less than 500 words. The problem is that in today’s world if you cannot make your point in fewer words, you are not communicating.

But there is little excuse for the pique we have been in lately. One thing that contributes to this annoyance is the current rewrite of the Liberal party’s federal constitution. That has really left us in the dumps. This constitution fails to understand what liberalism is all about. It fails all the tests of democracy. It is an oppressive and top-down edict that betrays the trust we have placed in Justin Trudeau.

Liberalism begins on our street, in our neighbourhood, in our community and in our town. It does not come down from on high in Ottawa. This is because liberalism involves principles. It is based on the freedom of the individual to learn, to grow, to accomplish and who know their rights. Liberals are caring people who share a love of country without regard for heritage.

Liberalism is built on a strong past but looks to the future. It builds, it invests, it promotes a vibrant land of opportunity for all.

Liberal policy has to have its origins in the electoral districts. It should be brought to regional conclaves and then on to national attention. And nobody should have the right to censor. Bring your objections to the floor.

Liberal candidates have to come from the community. They have to be the choice of the liberals in the electoral district. That is the core of our democratic process. And MPs have to report back to their constituents.

And while Liberalist is a resource of names and information about Liberal Party supporters, it is supported by and the ultimate property of the electoral districts. Please stop abusing it with a constant barrage of fundraising. We certainly need the funds for the party but the party headquarters has to work with the electoral districts on this task.

We should also deal with the question of party membership fees. After many years, on many riding executives, we have never seen a person who was denied membership in the party for lack of a ten-dollar fee. The fee is a minor offset for normal expenses of keeping the party alive in the community. It also signifies a commitment. That means something.

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Copyright 2016 © Peter Lowry

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