Archive for June, 2014

The collapse of Ontario New Democrats.

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

This opera of an election will be over very soon. It has seemed like a long and tedious affair. The pundits have made their final forecasts. The newspapers have surprised nobody with their choices. The broadcast media are preparing for their big night. The voters can now have their say. And the closing plaintive song has been left for Andrea Horwath of the New Democrats.

The song will be one of farewell. Madame Butterfly’s sailor has sailed away without her. And the poor results of this election will bring about Andrea Horwath’s resignation. The lack of a clear platform, deserting the left, the poor performance and the contradictions in her support and non-support of the Liberals have done her in. There is little she can do but accept defeat with grace.

It is the final count of New Democrat seats in the Ontario Legislature that will really tell the story. Even the most severe analysis leaves the party with at least 12 seats. That appears to be worst case. If it is, the Liberals will have their majority.

The Ontario New Democrats can look at rebuilding. If they are honest, they will start their rebuilding from the very foundation of what a social democratic party should be in the 21st Century. It needs to be drop the socialist rhetoric emanating from the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919. Human progress is slow and frustrating but the more we can alleviate the concerns for human needs, the more we can accomplish in the long term. You have to do more than care, you have a responsibility to show why and how.

One of the ways social democrats can accomplish their objectives is by joining the Liberal Party. Liberals have needed their kind of input and a course correction for many years. Never forget Liberalism in Canada is built on reform. They are not the old Whigs, the country party of 19th Century England. The many progressives already working in the Liberal Party need help to ensure that the Liberal Party stays true to the rights and freedoms that Canadians enjoy.

But such a momentous step as joining the Liberals will take time. There will be the last hurrah from the Orange Wave next year and few New Democrats will want to admit that the federal party could end up an also ran in 2015. Federal New Democratic Leader Tom Mulcair will end the same way as Andrea Horwath if he tries to take the federal New Democrats to the confused middle ground. There is no room there for social democrats.

But first of all, the Liberals have to win this Ontario election—as well as keep their word once they are in a majority. There are more than a few progressive Liberals who will demand they live up to the reform cause.


Copyright 2014 © Peter Lowry

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In the Globe and Mail’s perfect world.

Monday, June 9th, 2014

In typical Globe and Mail fashion, the editorial board of the newspaper has decided that their choice for premier, Tim Hudak, can be kept on a short leash. All voters have to do is elect a minority Conservative government for the province. In telling us to vote that way, the sage group forgot to tell us how to do that.

The last time a Toronto newspaper was trapped in that type of pontificating, the Toronto Star said it was alright to vote federally for the New Democrats. The voters ended up with a Conservative majority in Ottawa.

The simple fact is that the editorial board’s advice is even less sensible than the Conservative’s plan for a million jobs. Nobody knows how to create a million jobs when you do not need a million jobs and nobody can consciously elect a minority government.

But what really grabs us in this is that the Globe and Mail editorial writers tell us over four separate editorial diatribes that we need change at Queen’s Park. What is patently obvious to even the casual reader is that the Globe and Mail brain trust has no clue as to how to bring about that change. There are many factors influencing the outcome of this election and the only use we can suggest for the Globe and Mail’s suggestion is that at least newspapers can be recycled.

As it stands today, the Liberals under Kathleen Wynne can win a slim majority of seats. As few as six ridings that we expect to be won by the Liberals being won by the Conservatives could turn our prediction into a Liberal minority. It would take an upset in at least 12 ridings that we think will be won by Liberals to create a Conservative minority win. That does not appear to be in the cards,

The problem with the Conservative campaign was in Hudak’s earlier attacks on unions, his promise of another wage freeze and losing 100,000 provincial civil servants and his fight with the Ontario Provincial Police Association, he likely wrote off more than a million votes. The Globe and Mail admits that Hudak is running on a platform of simplistic solutions and empty slogans. It is obvious that he is appealing for simplistic voters. Are there that many simplistic voters in Ontario?

It seems that the Globe and Mail thinks there are enough dunces in Ontario to give Timmy Hudak a minority but not enough to give him a majority. Frankly that suggestion does not earn our trust. We have to play it safe and vote against the Hudak Conservatives.


Copyright 2014 © Peter Lowry

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Turning the public against politicians.

Sunday, June 8th, 2014

If economics is the dismal science, political economy must be the corrupt science and therefore politics is just corrupt. We came to this conclusion when we were bemoaning the fact that some otherwise intelligent people might vote for their Ontario PC Party candidate despite their recognizing the fallacious basis of the “Million Job Plan.”

This conclusion was reached the other day in arguing with a well-educated person who was pulling our chain because he knew we disapproved of Ontario Tory Leader Timmy Hudak. Our argument was that it is strategies such as his that are turning people against politics and politicians. We felt that today’s better educated voter had difficulty countenancing such strategies that made the voter out a fool and that assume the liar—the politician—is smarter than the rest of us.

But we could hardly argue that it does not work. We have watched politicians do it for too long. We were laughing recently when the Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak told the audience of the provincial leaders’ debate that he would resign if he could not do what he promised. If the Ontario voters gave his party a mandate, he would likely resign before eight years are up anyway.

In eight years, Hudak will be in his mid fifties and will want to move over to the corporate side to build a larger pension fund. Many companies want a former premier on their board and will pay generously for the privilege. If he can keep Bay Street in love with him, he should be able to earn ten times the $200,000 per year pay as premier.

When you consider that the only other private sector employment Hudak has had in his life was with Walmart that is quite an increase.

Former federal prime ministers can do even better. Why Stephen Harper is hanging on to his position seems to have more to do with his legacy than his family economics. While he has still to find the key to defeating Justin Trudeau, he has not made any of the moves necessary for an orderly transition of power in his party.

But it is hardly just Conservatives who lie to us. They might be better at it and more dogged at it but all the other parties have proved they can lie. Jean Chrétien came to power in 1993 and broke his promises. And nobody believed Paul Martin when he got his chance at the game. Justin Trudeau has already broken his promises to Liberals about open party nominations.

And do not get us started on the hypocrisy of the New Democrats. Maybe we have just been around politics too long.


Copyright 2014 © Peter Lowry

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The Hair hears from an unhappy hooker.

Saturday, June 7th, 2014

Canada’s prime minister received an interesting e-mail yesterday. It was from the hooker who tried to explain her profession to Stephen Harper back when the federal cabinet was discussing the need to correct Canada’s laws on prostitution. The hooker was less than impressed with Justice Minister Peter MacKay’s “Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act.” She put it rather bluntly: “You didn’t hear a God-damn word that any knowledgeable person said, did you?”

What seemed to stick in the hooker’s craw was the hypocrisy of the proposed bill. “By defying the Supreme Court’s intent in allowing you time to fix the problem, you are forcing the whole process to start over. You are solving nothing and pushing the question out another five to six years when the Supreme Court can again rule,” she said.

“In the meantime, you are presenting horrendous problems for the lower courts. After all, can you show me a John with a stiffy and the sense to demand the hooker show photo ID to check if she really is 18?”

She further asked: “What makes anyone think a judge can order something removed from the World-Wide Web? And if I work out of a bar where children are not allowed, why should the bar owner be charged with receiving a ‘material benefit’ for sexual exploitation?

“This bill is not addressing the concerns of either our Supreme Court justices, Canadian society or of prostitutes. It is regressive legislation that criminalizes prostitution. It is created by people who have no understanding of human sexuality or needs. This is not solving problems. This is adding to them,” she complained.

“This is the kind of legislation that just drives prostitution into the hands of pimps and criminals. It encourages abuse. It teaches children not of the fulfillment of sex but that it must be hidden away. Instead of sex being part of the adventure of life, it is relegated to the dark and unseen regions. It encourages abuse and rape in human sexuality instead of joy and understanding,” she concluded.

When the secretary was through reading the angry e-mail from the hooker, she shook her head. There was no point she could see in passing on the information to that dimwit Peter MacKay. She put it on the growing pile that the Prime Minister might read when he comes back from posturing at the G-7 in Europe. She knows it will do no good.


Copyright 2014 © Peter Lowry

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Peter’s Predictions: Ontario, 2014.

Friday, June 6th, 2014

Listening to the Babel Conservative candidate doing his own radio commercial the other day, there was a feeling of sadness. The sadness was for the voters here in Babel. While this is an attractive Ontario town with a long history, its growth has been as a detached bedroom of Toronto. By bus, GO Train and personal cars, there is an exodus every day to Toronto. There is no loyalty to where these people live.

Too many of them are going to vote for this Conservative candidate because of the leader he represents and not for what he contributes to his neighbours or can contribute at Queen’s Park. He contributes nothing. It is a waste of money to send him down the highway to Toronto as our Member of the Provincial Parliament.

But it is what his Conservative party represents today that is even more disquieting. It is anger. It is frustration. It is hitting back. Why would an otherwise rational person vote for a party whose leader lied his way through that awful debate the other evening? Does anyone seriously think Timmy Hudak or any other Tea Party Tory can create a million jobs? There are not enough unemployed to fill a million jobs.

And that is why we are forecasting 35 to 40 seats for the Conservatives.

The Liberals, on the other hand survived the debate and stuck by their reasonable platform of social benefit. They know the economy is in trouble and they are using well proved Keynesian economics to address it. And if they can build a better economy that can create just 150.000 new jobs in the next year, we will all cheer.

And that is why we are forecasting 60 to 65 seats for the Liberals.

The New Democrat’s Andrea Horwath proved she could be loud, obnoxious and wrong the other night and nobody is going to miss her as her party finds a new leader. Her repeated efforts to tell voters that she thinks Premier Wynne is corrupt fell on deaf ears. Her biggest problem is that she offered no solutions to the need for jobs and a stronger economy in Ontario.

And that is why we are forecasting 10 to 15 seats for the New Democrats.

Since there are still just 107 seats in the Ontario Legislature, there is little leeway in these predictions. All we know for sure is that we will go to the advance poll today to cast our votes for the local Liberal. That might be a lost cause in Babel but the Liberals are going to do well in Greater Toronto Area and in the other major cities.

The good news will be that both the Conservatives and New Democrats will have an opportunity to find better leaders. We Liberals do not.


Copyright 2014 © Peter Lowry

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The hardened heart of Mr. Harper.

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

Prime Minister Stephen Harper had it right when he recently commented on the problems he has with friends. He does not have any. With Toronto Mayor Rob Ford in rehab, he does not have anyone to fish with. Even the lackeys in his prime ministerial office point to the revolving door when you question their potential time on the job. Not even his Calgary based National Energy Board (NEB) has done him any favours. By blindly approving questionable pipeline decisions, the NEB has landed him in trouble.

Not the least of his problems is the Northern Gateway pipeline planned by Calgary based Enbridge to run from Bruderheim, Alberta to Kitimat, British Columbia. It is probably the most contentious of all the planned pipelines but it is actually the most honest. Nobody is lying about the purpose of this pipeline.

This is a duel pipeline. The smaller pipe is designed to pump light crude oil over the Rockies to Bruderheim. There it will be mixed with tar sands’ bitumen to create bitumen slurry that can then be heated and piped in the larger pipe to Kitimat where it can be loaded on ocean going tankers. The capacity is over 500,000 barrels per day. ‘Could not be simpler,’ you say.

Nobody is lying and calling that slurry ‘crude oil.’ It is bitumen. One of the oldest materials used by humans, bitumen is a chemical hodgepodge originally providing the pitch to keep wooden boats from sinking. It mortared the bricks in building the early cities of Mesopotamia. It is readily available around the world but the world’s largest deposit is in the Athabasca region of the Province of Alberta. It was only when crude oil neared the $100 per barrel barrier that it became economically feasible to process bitumen into synthetic crude oil.

But economics does not trump the human environment. Extracting bitumen from the tar sands is destroying the fragile environment of Northern Alberta. It is polluting the rivers and creating vast areas of settling ponds. It is denying the first nations of the north their traditional hunting grounds and denying them their traditional livelihood. Just the extraction of the bitumen is an environmental disaster.

If the bitumen exploiters continued the processing into synthetic crude in Northern Alberta, the carbon fallout would cover our three Prairie Provinces and Northern Ontario.

And that is why Prime Minister Harper wants to see the bitumen shipped to countries that do not care about pollution. That is how he looks after our environment.


Copyright 2014 © Peter Lowry

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Wynne won what?

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

Was that a flashback to Canada’s federal leaders John Turner and Brian Mulroney in 1984? These people need new material. The Ontario leaders’ television event last night was like a debate in a ladies’ washroom. It had a bad set, erratic camera work, rehashed script, confused organization and a bewildered moderator. As you might gather, last night’s leaders’ debate was not the television event of the year. While, on balance, Premier Wynne held her ground, there were no defining moments, no coup de grâce, nothing new and voters were once again left stuck with the same basic conundrum.

You have to say that Wynne won but it was only because she was still on her feet with that rigid smile stuck on her face at the end. She survived. That in itself was an accomplishment. You could read her as uptight but she kept her cool. She was the old maid school teacher with an unruly classroom.

But nobody knew that New Democrat leader Andrea Horwath could out shout the other two. She was rude and demanding of attention like a petulant child. She kept re-arranging her queue cards like a game of dominos. She knew it was her last hurrah and she was going to make the most of it.

Yet, Timmy Hudak the Conservative leader was the nasty little kid who tried to kick teacher in the shins. He was hardly listening. He had to get one more little anecdote in about his family values before they shut him down. He seemed oblivious to his surroundings and the people he was supposedly interacting with. He was certainly not paying any attention to what was asked of him.

One of the problems with the show was that the three leaders would later address the person who pre-taped the question—totally confusing the watcher. Some bright handler had told Kathleen Wynne to always address the camera with the red light on and she did. She was caught like a deer in the headlights. And as the leaders’ lecterns were so far apart, it made the interaction of the leaders stilted and hard to connect.

So did Wynne win? No, she only survived and that was all she had to do. Did she reach that magic majority? If she did, it is very slim. There are eight more days to go.


Copyright 2014 © Peter Lowry

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It is Spend-a-Million Harper, for what?

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

The government finally came clean and admitted that the total bill paid by the taxpayers to take the Hair, the hairdresser and some friends to Israel in January was over a million dollars. And there was no justification for it. It was gratuitous. It was political. It was a deep embarrassment for Canadians.

What, for example, was optometrist Gila Martow doing on that trip? At the time, Ms. Martow was the candidate for the February provincial by-election in the Ontario riding of Thornhill. She managed to get a nice memento of the trip—a picture of herself with Prime Minister Harper of Canada and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel. Finding out precisely how much the Canadian taxpayers paid for that little gift would take years of Access-to-Information applications.

There were about 200 people on that junket and they could not all fit on the Hair’s Airbus. Guest airfares added $300,000 on the bill. Bureaucrats from the Privy Council Office were not allowed on the Airbus and they alone spent another $148,000 on commercial airfares. Israel is not an inexpensive place to visit and there was another $676,000 spent on accommodation. Canadians were damn lucky that this little excursion was only for a one week holiday. After all it was January and the beaches at Tel Aviv are lovely at that time of year.

And who but a Conservative politician would whine to the Prime Minister’s staff about having his picture taken with Prime Minister Harper at the Western Wall in Old Jerusalem? That one incident stood out to Christians, Jews and Muslims alike as the height of rude, insensitive sacrilegious political chutzpah.

Mind you, speaking of chutzpah, the Israeli politicians are not above their little joke. Naming a bird sanctuary after Prime Minister Harper during that visit was the height of something very silly. The only good news is the number of times Israeli bond sellers have renamed a forest to commemorate another million dollar investor.

But Mr. Harper thanked them by addressing the Israeli Knesset. Luckily most of the Israeli parliamentarians were able to stay awake during a litany of platitudes and ill-considered hard-line support. Most of Mr. Harper’s Canadian claque was spared the boredom of the event.


Copyright 2014 © Peter Lowry

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Revving up for Ontario’s big debate.

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

If the spin doctors fail to do their jobs tomorrow, does that mean the leaders’ debate does not matter? With the most inane of the commentary on Twitter, you will get the impression that the writers of that stuff expect 12-year olds to vote. Despite the spin effort of each party, it is the run-up to the debate that is the most difficult for the leaders’ handlers.

The most obvious questions and attacks are going to be analyzed and re-analyzed by each leader’s team before a close on the prep time is decided. It is even a consensus when you let the candidate rest. There is such a thing as being over-prepared for these events.

Some leaders go through the debate on full automatic and others need time in the debate to hit their stride. And it takes considerable analysis to see how your leader can make a difference. Here is what you should look for in each leader Tuesday evening:

Kathleen Wynne has to maintain her dignity as Premier and try not to come across as a school teacher with an unruly class of two. She has to stay away from detail in critiquing her opponents but she is allowed to scoff at some of their suggestions. She can hardly run around the studio or do some push-ups for the audience but she needs to make sure she appears energetic and not the grandmother she is. Expect her to build a strong case based on her party’s existing budget plan and some of the promises already announced. There will be no blockbuster or game changer in her approach. Expect a solid performance.

Conservative Tim Hudak has the most to lose at this stage. His million job plan has already been discredited but he is going to try to save it by saying that nobody denies there will be jobs created; they are just arguing how many (a false assumption). His biggest problem is that shit-kicker grin that he pastes over any normal expression. After you have seen it for a while, you start to question his level of intelligence.

New Democrat Andrea Horwath will be there seeking redemption. The viewers have already realized that she is toast after this election. Her party did her in. There is no way she can repair the dissension in the ranks, her party’s lack of a coherent program and her desperate attacks on Kathleen Wynne. If she continues to attack Wynne as being corrupt at this stage, her entire presence will be for nothing. If it were not for her public speaking limitations, she could be useful in attacking the inherent cruelty in Hudak’s approach. If she wastes time attacking Wynne, she will just be helping the Conservatives.


Copyright 2014 © Peter Lowry

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Waiting for the repressed to oppress us.

Sunday, June 1st, 2014

The Toronto Star waded into the discussion of prostitution the other day. In four pages of wandering and badly edited prose, Star writer Heather Mallick further muddies the waters on the subject. Her research is anecdotal and her conclusions curious and unsupported. The Star feature read like a fast low-budget sex excursion to Europe. It will hardly help our parliamentarians to understand the questions when the Conservative government gets around to introducing new prostitution laws.

And you can count on them introducing something. The base of Conservative voters in Canada will demand that the government put a stop to prostitution—something that no government has ever achieved. The most likely conclusion of Prime Minister Harper and his Cabinet is to invoke a version of what is called the Nordic solution. As we explained to mother years ago after a trip to Sweden, the reason her ancestors left Stockholm in the 1800s must have been boredom.

Yes the Swedes like to think they have solved the ‘problem’ of prostitution by fining the customer. While they are now treating the whore with more respect, they are actually forcing prostitution into the darkest most violent parts of their society. They say statistics seem to support their solution but it could mean they just do not know.

Mallick makes the bold statement in her lengthy piece that “Americans will never legalize prostitution and the brothels of Nevada are the reason.” It was not all that long ago that people were saying that there will never be legalized casino gambling around North America because of Nevada. It seems Ms. Mallick owes her faithful readers an explanation of her thinking.

What the narrow-minded among us might not realize is that times change. There is less difference today from having friends with benefits to turning a few tricks. The stigma of the scarlet letter has become passé. Society moves, albeit slowly, into the 21st Century and human sexuality is becoming better understood. Every father wants his darling daughter to keep her legs crossed and go to school in groups but denying her knowledge of the real world is not protecting her.

Canadians do not want the religious extremists of the Conservative Party determining the rules for prostitution. The Supreme Court said that we have a responsibility to protect those who choose prostitution either as courtesan or customer. Neither party is culpable. The state has no place in that bedroom either. The crime is in the exploitation. End exploitation and let people go on with their lives.


Copyright 2014 © Peter Lowry

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