Archive for August, 2015

Go home Paul Martin.

Monday, August 31st, 2015

Nothing grates a left-leaning liberal more than Paul Martin that skinflint former finance minister and briefly prime minister. Once a friend, Paul became a non-person when Prime Minister Jean Chrétien gave him the finance portfolio. He built his reputation for balanced budgets on the backs of the poor, the unemployed, the sick and the elderly across Canada. He proved to one and all that he was no liberal.

It was an understandable situation. Growing up in the very political environment of his family’s home in Windsor and in Ottawa, Paul got away from left of centre politics and tried his hand at business. He had excellent mentors. Maurice Strong and then Paul Desmarais of Power Corporation were tough and experienced business leaders. Young Paul was more businessman than nationalist when he acquired Canada Steamship Lines from Paul Demarais. Martin made the company successful by using flags of convenience, foreign labour and automated loading and unloading of the ships—now built off-shore.

Those of us in the Liberal Party who had so deeply respected Paul’s father took a long time to realize that the younger Paul had come to prefer the approval of his friends in the business world. It was rumoured that he laughingly told them that all you had to do to win in politics is to campaign on the left and rule on the right.

And he was also proved wrong. As has been said before, why vote for a faux Conservative when you can vote for the real thing. Martin lost to Stephen Harper.

For supposed deficit-killer Martin to come out to Liberal functions today to “authorize” the planned deficits of Justin Trudeau’s Liberals is something of a travesty. It is reminding voters of the wrong Liberals.

Canada’s federal Liberals went into free fall after the Martin fiasco as the party searched for its future. It was almost a relief when Justin Trudeau came forward and offered renewal and change under a younger and more engaging leadership. He has made missteps on the road back to Sussex Drive where he was born but the change he is offering is still real.

Trudeau needed the declaration of these deficits to separate him from the New Democrat’s Thomas Mulcair. The NDP insisting that they would balance Canada’s budgets did not convince anybody of anything. They have already promised more than they can deliver and are losing credibility anyway.

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Copyright 2015 © Peter Lowry

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

Christine Elliott: Thank you for your service.

Sunday, August 30th, 2015

The Member of the Ontario Legislature for Whitby-Oshawa has resigned. Christine Elliott has served the riding well for the past nine years. She was a progressive in Ontario’s Progressive Conservative Party. For the second time, she had lost the contest for the leadership of the party to an extremist. She was too decent a person to want to again serve under a leader she could neither respect nor support.

And why should any decent person want to serve under a leader who blatantly usurped the party leadership under weak, unthinking and unsupervised rules. Patrick Brown did not win the leadership of the party with a majority of party members. He won the leadership with more people who knew nothing of the honour of a political party that had served Ontario well over the past 148 years as either government or opposition.

The Ontario Conservatives might not always have been progressive but they were a party that believed in a strong public school system, building hospitals, libraries, roads and bridges. They were not a party of ideologues until the unfortunate experience of Premier Michael Harris at the turn of this century. Ideology cannot replace a caring and responsible government and Mr. Harris failed Ontario.

But when the federal Conservative Party was taken over by the Reform/Alliance under Stephen Harper, the party fell on hard times. The federal party was ruled from the top and lost touch with its roots. The Ontario party was among the provincial organizations that withered, lost members and direction. By 2009, the provincial party was reduced to a small remnant of its former strength and an ideologue named Tim Hudak was chosen to lead it back to the government benches.

But the ideology was wasted on Ontario voters. Hudak’s second failed election was guaranteed when he precipitously announced at the Barrie Country Club that he would fire 100,000 civil servants in Ontario. The first to jump up and congratulate him on this brilliant decision was the uninspiring MP for Barrie, Patrick Brown. Hudak not only lost the election with that promise but was forced to resign by his caucus.

And it was the sorry state of the party that allowed Patrick Brown to win the party leadership with close to 40,000 sign-ups who were recent immigrants from India. Most knew nothing of Canadian politics. And most of them were likely not yet citizens.

Maybe Christine Elliott’s legacy to all political parties is that we should restrict voting on candidates and leaders. These critical decisions in our society should only be made by citizens who are eligible voters.

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Copyright 2015 © Peter Lowry

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

The Hair: Canada’s boy in the bubble.

Saturday, August 29th, 2015

In the Imperial Prime Minister’s Office of today, Canada’s Prime Minister is isolated and alone. Protected and guarded by the sycophants of privilege, his minions mind the doors. In this cloistered sanctuary, the Hair rules. There are neither naysayers nor critics allowed where the Hair travels. Audiences are vetted for their loyalty. The people walls behind the microphone are carefully selected for a nice blend of colour. It is a false scene.

And you wonder what will happen when the Hair’s bubble bursts. Can any emperor return to being an ordinary man? Can Calgary serve as a suitable Elba? Could Connie Black put in a good word for him with David Cameron? Then he could leave for old England and titled retirement as did R.B. Bennett?

Or just maybe the Hair will face the future with more positive mien? Would he consider lecturing impressionable, budding right-wing politicians at the Tom Flanagan School of the University of Calgary? Dare he pen the occasional diatribe against the dangers of liberalism for the failing Fraser Institute?

The Hair could retire to a kibbutz in Israel. They once loved him there. And when they clear the Russian land mines, he could farm some land in Eastern Ukraine. There is little question that the Hair’s list of welcoming countries is far shorter than those he would be advised to avoid.

Canadians are also forgiving people. And there is some lovely land in the Athabasca opening up for settlement. The tailings ponds will settle in time and the land can be used for grazing cattle. Calves with two heads and other oddities are to be expected when you consider the mixtures of chemicals found in the tar sands. As long as the same oddities are not prevalent in his progeny, the Hair’s legacy can be the exploitation of those tar sands a thousand years in the future.

But the true legacy of the Hair will be an Ottawa where science can now be recognized and respected. It will be where government can protect our environment instead of protecting the polluters. It can be an open and honest government that respects the rights of our citizens. The Hair’s police state and building of prisons will be something of the past. It will be where Members of Parliament will represent their constituents not an outmoded ideology. And Canadians will have respect for their foreign affairs that earns respect and honour for Canada around the world.

Good bye Hair, we will not miss you.

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Copyright 2015 © Peter Lowry

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

As the media Silly Season draws to a close.

Friday, August 28th, 2015

Labour Day is now in sight and the real election campaign can begin. Not that we have been bored with August or eager for the clamour of the combatants but it does spell the end of the foolishness of the news media and their tame pollsters. Editors have not been calling August the Silly Season for no reason over the past 100 years.

August has always been the time for “Man bites dog” stories. It has been a time for tall tales and frying eggs on sidewalks. You could blame it all on the heat here in the northern part of the world.

But September is not only back to school, it is back to reality time. It is time to discard those ridiculously warped automated telephone call results that newspapers call polls. It is time to face responsibility and pay for a summer’s fun.

It is hard to tell what the reality is in this country when you have such open biases of the news media. The major Quebec newspapers and French-language television network are owned by the leader of the separatist Parti Québécois. No bias there! Most local newspapers across the country are controlled by a major Conservative Party supporter. And the only truly independent newspapers are in Toronto with its four newspapers where there should just be two. And the largest English-language newspaper in the country has decided to support the New Democrats and the party’s fusty little leader.

Luckily the television networks will now set aside their summer hiatus and start to take a serious look. And they will not like what they find. Their good friend (except for the CBC) the Hair has laid down so many restrictions on their coverage, following his travels and travails hardly seem worthwhile. Hopefully the Hair’s opponents, whom he despises and reviles, might finally get their acts together.

And there is obviously no more of those televised debates to rely on. The Hair is above it. He dislikes being the object of attack. As a reputed front runner, New Democrat Tommy Mulcair has decided he can also be picky and he is sure not giving that kid Justin Trudeau another chance to attack him.

It will now become a typical Canadian election. The media will be less than helpful. The voters will be confused. Decisions made today, will be cast aside tomorrow and we will await the decision of the electorate.

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Copyright 2015 © Peter Lowry

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

More with a whimper than a roar.

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

As the Ottawa trial recesses until after the election, the description of Senator Mike Duffy as a busker is more apt than we thought. A street entertainer such as a busker can hardly save his or her best stunts for the finale. You have to use those better stunts early to capture your audience. And, thinking back over the trial, so far, that connection is clear.

The only thing we are not clear on was the real entertainer Duffy or was it his lawyer Donald Bayne? While Duffy did his thing, Bayne was unrelenting and driven. He earned his fee. It almost makes you wonder, who is paying this bill?

But is Duffy even a bit player in this current election campaign? In the midst of what looks like a developing global recession, does Duffy matter a hill of beans?

Not that Duffy is done. He has just been sent out to play while the court recesses.

And a recess was needed. The Duffy trial has been a distraction. We all know of the intense loyalty of those the Prime Minister anoints as staff. Nigel Wright, the PM’s former chief of staff played the part of the perfect subaltern. He told his story repeatedly and with a straight face. Only a fool would believe him.

And we found out that there are people in the prime minister’s office who sometimes do not read their e-mails. And when the e-mail deals with the most important subject of the day for these sycophants, we might also have a hard time believing that.

What few seem to remember about this trial is that the defendant is a former news reporter, now Senator, who has been charged with being bribed. Nobody is charged with bribing him, but he is charged with accepting a bribe. He is also charged with breaches of trust. It seems that the Senate of Canada is a place operated as a gentlemen’s club and Duffy was in breach of some of those loosely written rules. And to top it off, he has been charged with fraud. And that can be a sticky wicket because the prime minister knew damn well that Duffy made his home in the Ottawa area. Yet it was the prime minister who appointed Duffy to the Senate as coming from Prince Edward Island.

It seems to this commentator that when the trial resumes they can find Nigel Wright guilty of offering a senator a bribe. Then they could find Mr. Harper (no longer prime minister) guilty of fraud. Mr. Harper and Mr. Wright could share a cell.

But, maybe we also need to make the sign bigger: It’s the economy, stupid!

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Copyright 2015 © Peter Lowry

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

It is really about leadership Justin.

Wednesday, August 26th, 2015

Being more of a contemporary of his father than of Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, maybe we can be excused for offering him some advice. Yes Justin, you have answered those stupid attack ads on your youth from the Conservatives. You have launched an aggressive campaign against the failing regime of Stephen Harper. Your stand on ‘real change’ is to be applauded. You have addressed the core concerns of Canadian voters with your stand on behalf of the middle class.

But the key ingredient for winning is leadership. It is something that Mr. Mulcair of the New Democrats does not offer.

Canadians are looking for the future you are talking about. They are searching for fairness. They are looking desperately for economic stability. They want to have restored pride in their country. They want the rest of the world to recognize that once again, Canada is taking its rightful place in global affairs. They want to share a better future with that leader.

Leadership is not an endless string of picayune offers of people’s own money. It is not sharing the platform with what is past. It is sharing the platform only with the future.

What this means is that you do not need to be on platforms with provincial premiers. People know when you have their endorsement. The premiers have their own battles to fight with Ottawa. You can promise succour while maintaining your position. You are the next Prime Minister. Look like one.

Nor should you share your platform with has-beens. Former Prime Minister Paul Martin brought no honours to liberalism. He was a mean and belligerent finance minister under Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and he hurt Canadians while alienating liberals. It was hardly just the sponsorship scandal that made his tenure as prime minister so short. When voters had to choose between Martin’s faux conservatism and the real thing, they had no choice but to opt for the real thing.

You have to stand alone on that platform Justin. You hardly need a people wall behind you. It is just you and a microphone. That is what leaders do. You have to lead with the big ideas. Your aides are there to help you not hobble you. A leader uses instinct, caring, concern and vision.

A leader looks into the crowds of supporters but sees the future. A leader takes his audience into that future.

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Copyright 2015 © Peter Lowry

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

The Magdalen Islands do not an election make.

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015

While always having great respect for reporter Chantal Hébert of CBC and Toronto Star fame, she cannot forecast an election based on visiting Iles-de-la-Madeline. And it is also far too early. Much has yet to happen before the votes are counted. Mind you, we can both agree that the Bloc Québécois and Conservative parties are both whistling past the graveyard in Quebec this October. It is which party will benefit most from their demise that is very much open to question.

Ms. Hébert agrees that the Harper Conservatives have only a few seats left to lose in Quebec and will probably lose them. The last time the Conservatives dived like that was in the 1993 election. The only riding worth watching for Conservative votes is Mount Royal. This long-time Liberal stronghold in Montreal has been a target of Harper’s very expensive pandering for the Jewish vote. The riding has a story to tell.

But Chantal is looking for a second orange wave. It is like a religious fanatic anticipating a second coming. You think it might be interesting if it happens but this cynic is not about to bet money on it.

A second orange wave is dependent on two factors. The first is the messianic potential of New Democrat Leader Thomas Mulcair. And, frankly, this guy has the Christ-like qualities of a gerbil with whiskers. Give him credit for trying but the truth is he is a typical, stuffy little Quebec Liberal with all those dull, predictable right-wing traits. As hard as the news media will try to keep him in the ring for the entire campaign, he likely does not have the political stamina for the long haul.

The second reason Ms. Hébert gives for this second coming is the overwhelming desire of Quebecers to rid this country of Mr. Harper. While we certainly agree with that idea, we must suggest that there are better ways than by voting NDP. It was a reasonably sound idea four years ago but it caused a Conservative majority government. That was certainly not the intent and voters will want to do it a little smarter this time. While Mr. Harper made the mistake of stirring up interest in the election somewhat early, very little thought has been devoted to it so far.

Frankly, the orange wave hit its zenith in Quebec four years ago. It can only go downhill this year. Chantal needs to go back to Quebec at the end of September and get another reading. The intentions she notes then might be closer to the final results.

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Copyright 2015 © Peter Lowry

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

In the heat of an August by-election.

Monday, August 24th, 2015

The wife is usually the reasoning member of this household. She is the peacemaker but not when it comes to Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown. She is no fan of his. When driving up to Rama Casino the other day for dinner, she saw the elections signs in Simcoe North provincial riding for the September 3 by-election. She became so enraged at the volume, size and intrusiveness of the Conservative signs that if we had just slowed a bit, she would have been out of the car tearing them down.

But someone else was not quite as constrained. It was a day later that we heard someone had been methodically tearing down both provincial by-election and federal Conservative election signs along Highway 12 at the north end of the riding. It makes you wonder if someone can be just as mad at Patrick Brown as they are at Prime Minister Harper.

Not that Patrick Brown is undeserving of condemnation. We think it might have even been an Ontario Conservative carrying out the mayhem for the way Brown cheated to win the Ontario party leadership. We had already explained to more than enough irate Ontario Conservatives that Brown might not have broken any law. His ethics might have smelled but we know of no law he broke in cheating his fellow Conservatives. Whether he paid the membership fees for most of the almost 40,000 people from the Sub-Continent is only a matter for the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party. If the party complained formally, just maybe there might be grounds for a charge of fraud but that would be for a judge to decide.

Having lived in Barrie while Patrick Brown has been the world’s most useless Member of Parliament we were initially amused by his going for the brass ring of the Ontario Conservative party leadership. When he produced 40,000 new memberships mainly from India, we were less than impressed. And since then we have heard from friends from that part of the world just how he did it. We realize now that the cost of that swindle was probably well over half a million and we would sure like to know where it came from.

The day is supposed to be long gone when the rich could buy a politician. As Mr. Brown can tell you there are no laws applied to leadership contests. The parties make rules and they are rarely enforced. It is the last stronghold for the cheater and the scoundrel.

But kicking down election signs is still vandalism and we are opposed to that. Our problem is with Premier Wynne allowing a fiasco of a by-election campaign in the summer months and in the middle of the federal election. The Liberal campaign for the by-election is pathetic and a disgrace. Liberals in Simcoe North provincial riding are embarrassed and feel they have been betrayed.

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Copyright 2015 © Peter Lowry

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

Mulcair moves on law and order.

Sunday, August 23rd, 2015

Canadian voters are still trying to get used to a New Democrat leader campaigning to the political right of the Liberals. And they hardly expected Thomas Mulcair to play the law and order card. In a direct steal of a Conservative campaign promise in 2008, Mulcair has promised to renew a Conservative program. He is offering $250 million over the next four years to train up to 2500 front-line police officers across Canada.

It should be noted that Mr. Mulcair made the promise in Surrey, B.C. where there has been increased gun violence over the past four years. The Conservatives were well aware of the Surrey problem and had not offered a solution.

But the solution of both Conservatives and NDP is wrong anyway.

Maybe Surrey needs more front-line officers. And maybe it needs them right away. That does not mean that Squamish, B.C. has the same problem nor does Kapuskasing, Ontario. In the usual NDP-way, Mulcair and his brain trust are throwing money at a problem that they do not understand.

One of the very important trends we are seeing in policing today is the better utilization of uniformed, front-line officers. These are people trained in law enforcement, they are given the responsibility of bearing arms and they are not the people you need in many law enforcement call-outs today. We need more expertise on community relations, by-law enforcement, mental health situations, family relations, seniors’ advocates and many other problems of urban living in which uniformed police need not and should not be involved. And the more we develop these resources, we can have uniformed officers devoted to more appropriate situations.

But there is Thomas Mulcair sprouting the Harper law and order line. After all, if it has worked for Stephen Harper, why should the NDP not give it a try?

And that is all we need. The Harper/Mulcair solution means we can have more uniformed officers to kettle innocent citizens when out for a walk in their community. We can have uniformed officers demanding of peaceful people of the wrong colour to give an account of themselves. We can shoot and kill innocent people because they are mentally ill. We can brutalize our citizens and teach them to fear those who are supposed to protect and serve them.

One thing we know for sure: Tommy Mulcair has a lot to learn.

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Copyright 2015 © Peter Lowry

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

Justin Trudeau: Meet the GOYA Group.

Saturday, August 22nd, 2015

During his years as Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau would often remind your writer that we were both members of an exclusive club. Its full name was the Get-Off-Your-Ass Group. It had one meeting in Peterborough, Ontario in 1967. It was a group of left-wing Liberal MPs and party people who were trying to get a more progressive agenda moving in Ottawa. While the writer’s role in the party at that time was head of Liberal Party communications for Ontario, we saw no reason to tell the news media about our meeting.

But we had not counted on the craving for publicity by the local MP. As he told us, he had only told his local paper. When we were informed that a CBC television crew and a Globe and Mail reporter were in the lobby of the hotel, we needed a new strategy. To this publicist, the obvious answer was to throw new MP Pierre Trudeau at them and let the chips fall where they may.

That was not quite how Pierre saw the solution but our counter-argument prevailed and he agreed to cooperate. After a terse briefing, Pierre Trudeau was launched in a campaign that ended with him as Prime Minister of Canada. And it was all because of another MP’s desire for publicity. There were also some remarks that Pierre had offered in an early session of the GOYA Group that had struck a chord.

Pierre and Justin’s mother had probably not even met at that time. Justin needs to take a page from his father’s book. He needs to better follow his instincts. His palace guard are stifling him these days. And their schedule for policy announcements is wrong. These things have to be more instinctive than logical. You have to feel it.

There are still too many holes in Justin’s platform. The voters do not have enough policy meat to chew on while the candidate is resting. This might be a long campaign but you hardly solve that by taking lots of days off. You have to count on pitching stories that the media can spend days developing for you.

You have to make sure that earlier pronouncements are clear and unequivocal. A good example is the Conservatives building the story that the Liberals will end income splitting for seniors. Trudeau made it very clear months ago that his ending income splitting for rich families did not include seniors. The only problem is that many Conservatives do not want to understand the distinction and are adding to the confusion.

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Copyright 2015 © Peter Lowry

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