Archive for September, 2011

Progress in educating Babelites.

Friday, September 30th, 2011

Babel city council has a price tag now on having a satellite university campus in downtown Babel.  The city can get a $60 million facility launched if it just kicks in $14 million.  That might not be the best deal around but city council would not want to send Laurentian University away mad.

Mind you, the $14 million sounds more like a bargaining position than a final offer.  It is not a bad starting point but the deal will not be that simple.  There are other players who need to be at the table to make it happen.  The Ontario Government has to be the main player with the deep pockets for the deal.  The Simcoe Board of Education needs to cooperate so that a rebuilt Central Collegiate can be part of the overall plan.  The city will have to do some creative land swaps to do the assembly needed.  This will not be done overnight.  We are looking at 2020 for just the first students.

And there are Babel residents desperate for some education now.  Checking back in the electronic version of the Examiner on this we found the usual set of comments with the story that bespeaks the desperate need.  These comments are so predictable as to be pathetic.  We already know who will say what.  Some of these respondents are talking to each other and the article on which they are commenting is irrelevant.  This is like the junk you can read on facebook and twitter.  It is the reason we encourage e-mails from readers rather than comment on our blog.

But back to the proposal made to Babel by Laurentian University: yes, we want Laurentian to be a player in a downtown campus.  Babel is in the perfect position to be the educational hub for central Ontario but it has to work at it.

What has to happen is somebody has to drive the truck.  Someone or some bunch have to make it happen.  The mayor cannot give the job the time.  He can hardly drive all the objectives he has for this city.  He has to delegate.

And city council has to cooperate.  It is easy for Babel to stay a one pony town and that is what will happen if we do not move things along.  There are too many people at Babel City Hall who can say ‘no’ and not enough who can say ‘yes.’

Now, who is talking to the University of Toronto about having a satellite campus in downtown Babel?

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Copyright 2011 © Peter Lowry

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

Getting used to a majority government.

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

Political Ottawa is feeling its way these days.  Nobody is used to the new regimen.  It has been too long since Canada had a majority government.  And the political naiveté of the official opposition might be the least of the problems.

It seems to be Harper’s people who have yet to get their minds around the etiquette of a majority position.  Hell, these people were arrogant in minority, what else would you expect when in a majority.

Take Treasury Board President Tony Clement from Muskoka.  (Please.)  Sure, he was wallowing in the pork barrel last year with his lavishing G8 funds on his riding but why does he need to stonewall the opposition?  It just makes him look doubly guilty.  Someone has obviously finally said to him that he can go talk to the parliamentary committee on the subject and, since the committee will be a majority of mindless Conservative backbenchers, they will do what they are told.  Case over!

The truly lost lambs of Ottawa are not the accidental NDP MPs of Quebec but the cannon fodder Conservatives that Harper dragged to Ottawa on his coattails.  The first one of them that tries to buttonhole Harper to ask him what to do is in trouble.  Not only will the miscreant be beaten severely by the Emperor’s staff but they will discover that Harper has had a pillory placed behind the Parliamentary Library just for such upstarts.

Mind you, buttonholing Harper will be quite a trick as he busily plans his next four years of world tours and triumphs.  Remember that those generals, R.C.M. Police Commissioners and pretenders to the throne such as Peter MacKay are cheapskate frequent flyers compared to the Imperial Prime Minister when it comes to the use of government jets.  He gets the real big planes!

What has really confused people is the haste that Harper is giving to his conservative agenda.  His own back bench get to see this new omnibus crime bill one day and it is gone the next.  Why he does not want his majority government to flaunt the legislation is a bit of a puzzle.  He has not even allowed time to see if things are spelled properly.

We all understand Harper’s right wing direction but is there something else about this legislation, he does not want us to see?

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Copyright 2011 © Peter Lowry

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

Ontario sinks to new lows in debate.

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

If you were surfing, trying to find a rerun from the Charlie Sheen Two and a Half Men series around seven last night, you might have come across a new version of the show.  This one features a lady named Andrea Horwath in the Charlie Sheen role.  A prissy chap named Dalton was playing the amiable side-kick role of Allan Harper while an aging adolescent Tiny Tim struggled with the fat, dumb kid persona.  As a political debate, it had little to recommend it.

Ontario deserves better.  Mind you, NDP leader Andrea Horwath looked spiffy—a great hair do, good make-up job, nice dress, discreet jewellery—all spoiled by one of those trade-mark manish suit jackets.

For sartorial yuck, you could hardly beat Conservative leader Tim Hudak’s tie.  It must have been his daughter’s choice.  We now know the kid’s problem is not her parentage.  She is color blind.

It was Premier Dalton McGuinty’s role to look like suitable premier material.  And he did until those other two started to beat the crap out of him.

Horwath surprised everybody with her performance.  That nice lady can also be mean and bitchy.  Her remarks about pumping beer in North Bay sure did not do much for her trying to look like a premier.

It was everyone jumps on Dalton night.  Horwath was snide about his no-show at some Northern debate and Hudak was calling him a liar.

Dalton got in a good one on Tiny Tim about calling new Canadians foreigners but Tim denied it despite anyone who watches television news having heard him.

The three of them proved to be really bad communicators.  The people who prepped them for the show should all be shot.  Shotgun delivery of statistics is meaningless.  They did better with anecdotal stuff but what Andrea’s 18-year old son was doing on a skateboard is a good question.

Dalton actually smiled when he gave an aside to Andrea about her brother or someone getting a job at Honda.  Other than that one human moment, he is still in need of a personality transplant.

Tiny Tim came across as a bobble-head doll with a tape recorder up its rear.  He just bobbled along in his own weird right-wing world, spouting inanities.

By the time the show was over, we decided that it was a form of self-abuse that we did not need.  Anyway, we voted last week.

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Copyright 2011 © Peter Lowry

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

Keystone to be President Obama’s TVA.

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

In 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt signed into law the Tennessee Valley Authority which is still the largest energy entity in America.  It will have a rival though when the Keystone pipeline system is completed to bring Canadian oil sands crude from Alberta to the Texas Gulf Coast refineries.  Not to be outdone by Roosevelt, Obama is putting Americans to work.  Canadians will buy back their own oil, refined by Americans.

The Keystone pipeline system started with the conversion of a 36-inch natural gas pipeline to pump crude oil that went part of the way.  The final result will be a 2673-kilometre (1661-mile) crude oil behemoth that travels through two Canadian provinces and six American states.  For some reason, American environmentalists are having apoplexy.  Canadian environmentalists are starting to make noises and Canadians concerned about our economy wonder what we are getting in return.

Canadians have been screwed by the oil companies since Katrina hit New Orleans.  We pay such outrageous prices at the pumps for gasoline (self-serve of course) that it can only be called commercial rape.  “Price fixing” is too polite a term.  And what is the reason for higher prices that Canadian oil companies charge?  They tell us that one of the problems is that Canada no longer has the refining capacity for the oil it needs.  They have been shutting down and dismantling refineries in this country for years.

And that is why TransCanada Pipelines is heading its pipeline for the terminus in Nederland, Texas with oil sands crude.  Now that the price of oil has made the oil sands projects viable, Canada gets the pollution and the United States of America gets the oil.  And it can all be done for US$13 billion.  Why would President Obama hesitate?

Prime Minister Harper will hardly hesitate to use police and mounties to silence the few foolish Canadian protestors.  President Obama has already shown that his police will not hesitate to charge Hollywood stars and anyone else who wants to get in the way,

While even in the worst of the last big depression, the Republicans screamed about Roosevelt being a damned socialist as he beat the Supreme Court and every other barrier that tried to stop the TVA.  Obama is having even less trouble with his pipeline aid package for the American oil companies.

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Copyright 2011 © Peter Lowry

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

Making democracy work.

Monday, September 26th, 2011

The growing number of pathetic stories in the media about the diminished willingness to vote can get to you.  You really wish that the editor or news director who asked for that piece had found a good fire to report instead.  Mind you a small story about Markham’s improved voting by using the Internet caught the eye this morning.  Babel should really pay attention to that.

In the last municipal election, your writer spent most of the time that polls were open visiting polling places, talking with the city staff people manning them and observing the procedures.  Babel uses electronic voting machines to screw up the voting process.

And it is going to get worse.  Once every four years, people who do not understand what they are doing are going to be inadequately trained to do an unfamiliar job under the instruction of people who have no experience with the process.  Municipal voting in Babel is a truly frightening process.  The only thing that saves us from the process becoming corrupt is that nobody cares that much.

Can you imagine an interview with an applicant for the job of city clerk: one of the questions relates to the city clerk being the municipality’s chief returning officer.  “Tell us, Miss. Jones, as the job includes being the returning officer, what do you know about elections?”  Would you believe an answer that the applicant once voted would be the most likely response?

Federal and provincial electoral districts each have highly trained and experienced elections officers permanently in place for when elections occur.  They are drawn from the ranks of political parties based on their knowledge and acceptability to the party in power.  The chief returning officer is their boss and this person is charged with ensuring that they are fair and honest in their dealings with the political parties and the public.  That system works well, most of the time.

In travels around Babel during the last municipal election, we found that the municipal employees were doing the best job they could.  There was some ambiguity in their written instructions and this resulted in some rather funny interpretations.  In one poll, we found the clerk had placed the candidate scrutinizers at one end of a large room while the polls they were scrutinizing where at the other end.  When she understood that scrutinizing included hearing what was going on at a poll as well as seeing, we had the room rearranged.

The main, and most obvious, problem Babel has is that its cumbersome, already antiquated electronic voting machines are not even a third of the number required.  The city needs to include Internet voting for the next municipal election.  To do that there needs to be a taskforce in place today to get it ready.  And the taskforce had better include people who know something about how politics works.

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Copyright 2011 © Peter Lowry

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

The Toronto Star knows.

Sunday, September 25th, 2011

Joining a small public relations firm 40 years ago was a turning point for your writer.  Imagine the shock walking around that office one day in quest of a dictionary to check the origins of a word.  There was none.  The managing director defended himself from his office, calling out to us, “In this business, we know.”  Mind you, nobody complained when a new copy of Oxford Concise appeared after lunch that day and was prominent on our secretary’s desk, to be borrowed as needed.

That same smug attitude of ‘knowing’ is evidenced often in Canada’s largest circulation daily newspaper, The Toronto Star.  And as parent company, Torstar Corporation, also owns much of the really sad excuses for local newspapers around Ontario, this arrogance is doubly insulting.  Yet, with nothing better to read, The Toronto Star is consumed in Babel by many as routine with the morning coffee.

When it comes to elections, The Toronto Star likes to show its muscle.  Imagine the surprise of the editors when earlier this year they promoted the NDP and Stephen Harper’s Conservatives won the election.  That way, The Star took credit for both the rise of the NDP and the success of Harper’s Tories.  The Star has much to answer for.

In the current provincial election, The Star has constantly tried to promote Andrea Horwath of the NDP.  Not very successfully.  That lady is not ready to sing.

The Star editors needed a new strategy.  They found it in an improbable poll that is only noted for its gross numbers.  This poll is based on some 40,000 times that people answered an automated telephone call.  A recording asked whoever answered—ages three to 100—to select a number representing the party for which they intend to vote.  While the large number of completed calls is meaningless on a province-wide basis, it is considered sufficient for each individual electoral district.  This appears to be the best information the editors have been able to get!

To say that the poll is suspect is an understatement.  Politically knowledgeable people quickly pick out some obvious errors but there are other figures that leave you scratching your head.  The prospect of the Conservative Party and the Liberal Party candidates winning in 94 electoral districts (47 each) is so mathematically unlikely as to be amusing.

And while she does not get our vote, we should be embarrassed if Andrea Horwath’s NDP candidates only win 13 seats.  She and her cohorts worked hard.  Her campaign never gained much momentum but she still has the television debate to strut her stuff.

And as for Tiny Tim Hudak and his Conservatives: somebody is smoking something while tallying those figures.  Hudak does not compute.  His campaign is a tissue of half truths and conjectures.  He might have a good candidate here and there who deserves to go to Queen’s Park but not in any numbers to worry McGuinty.

Whether you like Dalton McGuinty or not he deserves to win.  As Premier, he does know what he is doing.

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Copyright 2011 © Peter Lowry

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

Dalton McGuinty discovers momentum.

Saturday, September 24th, 2011

While shocked scientists have learned that Einstein’s orthodoxy of the speed of light has been challenged, Tim Hudak and his Conservatives are in trouble with the scientific truths of momentum. They have lost it.  After months of a high flying lead in the polls, they are mired in the doldrums of a disappointed electorate.  The tortoise Liberals are sitting at the October 6 finish line, waiting for the Hudak hares.

Hudak’s handlers are looking to Tuesday’s televised leadership debate for the Hail Mary play.  They are desperate.  They will be twice as desperate after the debate as McGuinty will not disappoint the voters.  They do not expect much from him and that is what he will deliver.

Mind you, Tiny Tim has every reason to be disappointed with Andrea Horwath.  The NDP is not picking up the support from McGuinty that the Tories counted on.  Some of the Liberal vote had to be bled off by the NDP to produce a clear majority for Tiny Tim’s Conservatives.  The Tory brain trust saw how a resurgent NDP gave Stephen Harper’s federal party a majority in May and they counted on it in the fall.  The Andrea band wagon is not happening.

Maybe if the NDP leader gets some intense body shaping and a really sexy dress for Tuesday’s TV event, she could make a difference.  She is already an attractive woman but her picket-line Polly persona is a bit grating.  She not only needs to lighten up but she needs to figure out what the voters really want from her.  She has yet to connect.

Not that Dalton McGuinty has ever really connected but he has the one ingredient with which Hudak cannot compete: trust.  After months of paying for those awful commercials hammering at McGuinty as the ‘Taxman,’ people still trust the premier more than Hudak.  Beside McGuinty, Hudak is but a callow youth.

Mind you, it is not over yet.  The fat lady sings on October 6 as the ballots are counted.  It really does not matter if pollsters make automated telephone calls to four people, 400 people, 4000 or 40,000.  People do not like those calls.  Most do not answer.  They hang up with expletives deleted.  They lie, they ridicule.  They have a high rate of inaccuracy.       The only poll that matters is the report from the electoral offices.

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Copyright 2011 © Peter Lowry

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

The Whig wins Babel.

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

That settled it in Babel.  We had our traditional all-candidates meeting at City Hall and the Whig candidate walked away with it.  There was no contest.  We can go and vote today and we will.  There is no need for more campaigning in Babel.  Sure, we will watch the party leaders’ debate on television next week but that is to see which leader wins.

Just watching the gradual gathering of the contestants here in Babel told the story.  The Freedom Party candidate was first in his place.  He is young and knew no better.  He admitted when his party had no policy on an issue—which was often.  He is a political science student and by this time next year he will probably be something else having come to understand the conundrums his funny right-wing party presents.

The Green guy sat himself down early and bored everyone over the next two hours.  It was a test of our commitment to democracy that we suffered through the often inane comments of the fringe candidates.

The funniest of the fringe was the Libertarian who seems to have absolutely no concept of what Libertarianism means.  There was the occasional laugh and a couple times, two people actually started to applaud him.

The NDP candidate surprised us.  The lady was not on her top form.  She rambled a bit in her answers. She was not always clear in what she was saying but that seemed to suit some of the quite unclear questions and the vagueness of some of the NDP platform.

The Conservative candidate was brought into the council chambers by three ladies of his cheering claque.  Having lost his seat as a councillor in last fall’s municipal election, he did not seem as familiar with the locale.  His opening went well but his subsequent claim that his party leader, Tim Hudak, did not say he would not honour the uploading of provincial costs from municipalities beyond the billion dollars already uploaded by the Liberal government was met by some derision.  It also got him into a shouting match with the Whig candidate.  While the dozen or so members of his cheering section tried to cover up his gaffe, he came out of the argument looking foolish because of his attempt at what many in the hall knew was a blatant lie.

The Whig arrived in style, briefing book under his arm, reading glasses perched on top of his closely cropped hair.  He did a victory lap around the hall, glad handing as he went.  His bonhomie was a bit forced but he did show warmth in welcoming two youngsters who were obviously his grandsons.  He made a point of showing good humour by extended familiarities in saying hello to each of the other candidates who were already seated, ready to proceed.  The Whig made good use of his professionally prepared briefing book throughout his presentations but when he got away from it, he used far more “I’s” than “we’s.”  He makes much of his service background in the military police but the campaign medals he brags of are what are known as “I was there” ribbons.  It is fair game to mention them; he just needs to be more humble about them.

He needs to spend some time on the back benches at Queen’s Park to find out what politics is really about.  He has too easy a win here in Babel.

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Copyright 2011 © Peter Lowry

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

Why are Tories so tough on crime?

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

Wow, they get into a position of power and the Conservative Party proves how tough they are on crime.  Sort of.  There are a lot more hurdles to being tough on crime than breathing fire and brimstone.  Even with a majority in the House of Commons and the Senate, Stephen Harper’s government is a long way from being as tough on crime as they want to be.  They are faced with an ongoing battle with the courts and the provinces and they cannot be assured of having public opinion on side.  Many Canadians are not even sure why the Conservatives are constantly fighting this battle.

At a time when even the Tories agree that crime statistics are down, they claim that they have to make sure that people do their time.  This misanthropy appears to be the basis of so much right-wing thinking.  Do Tory leaders hate people that much?  Do they not trust them?  Why are they so down on them?  And why do they dislike women?  They put women down.  Even if they are themselves a woman, they seem to distrust and dislike other women.  They put on an air of superiority.  They appear to resent and despise other women’s sexuality.  These are the women who seem to put the blame on the woman who is raped for enticing the male offender.

These right-winger leaders are people who claim they respect family values but when you dig a bit, you find their ‘family’ values are a distorted version of the Cleaver family from a previous century.   They want to deny women the right to their bodies.  They actively hate the gay, the lesbian, the trans-gendered and anyone who would deviate from their conceptions of what society should be.  They equate human genitalia not with beauty but with human excreta and label the genitalia as dirty.  Their sexual vision is male dominant and female acquiescent.  And under the cover of darkness.  All else is perversion.

Incarceration and punishment are their turn-on.  They would return capital punishment if they could.  They do not care about the circumstances of crime.  Theirs is a black and white world.  Children who commit what they consider an adult crime will be treated the same as would an adult.  They do not want to understand the circumstances.  There are no mitigating causes.

These are people who attend their church but have no cheek to turn.  They kneel in subjugation to a God of vengeance and retribution.  They sing His praises and urge on the God of Wrath.  They hear not the lessons of the Son.  They know nothing of Mohammad’s Allah or the God of Judaism.

These people gift wrap their politics.  They offer financial sureties that they really cannot control.  They blame others for their failures.  They pander to greed.  They reward the usurer, the exploiter.  They demand fealty.  They set those they reward above us.  They never last in power because their excesses turn the people against them.

They know what is right for us: far right.

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Copyright 2011 © Peter Lowry

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

Liberalism in the 21st Century: Leadership.

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

Evolve or die.  The choice is simple.  That is the crossroad liberalism is at in Canada after the federal Liberal Party’s crushing defeat of 2011.  The party of Wilfrid Laurier, of Mackenzie King, of Lester Pearson and of Pierre Trudeau that evolved throughout the 20th Century is not a footnote but a force to build on into the 21st Century.  Liberalism is the standard bearer for the individual in our society.  It is to assure individual freedoms that creates our options for government.  And the liberal options for our country, our Canada, are many and crucial and glorious.

But, at this time, liberalism in Canada lacks leadership.  First, liberals must choose a future and then we can choose those who will lead.  That requires leadership from within the party.  We must choose the path to the future on which people will choose to join.  We must then look for the public leader, the parliamentary leader, with whom the party and people will share the future.  It is a new type of leadership that is required.

It used to be called servant leadership but it is more than that.  It requires a leader with ideas, with foresight, with charisma, with humanity and charm.  The ideal leader is a person you would like to have as a friend, a sibling, a parent, a child, a person you would like to work with and share ideas and a future. It is a leadership that is shared.  No person is more than the leader and no person is less.  For the leader represents the ideals of liberalism to the public.  Of all political philosophies, liberalism offers citizens a clear future that can ignite and enthuse.  To offer this future, we need to challenge and to excite with ideas, leadership and the satisfaction of accomplishment.

At the same time, we need continued leadership within that can give the party the strength it must have to build and evolve and maintain momentum over the new century.  Leadership of the parliamentary wing of the party is not the chief executive officer of the party.  The parliamentary leader is ex officio a member of the party executive body as the member of parliament or legislature or candidate is ex officio a member of the electoral district executive—and reports to that body.

There is much to be done.  The time to the next leadership selection is short.  There is no point in choosing this leader unless we define the party that he or she will lead.  It must be written.

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Copyright 2011 © Peter Lowry

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