Archive for July, 2017

Our poster-boy PM is the answer?

Monday, July 31st, 2017

Despite the wild ravings of Rolling Stone Magazine, our Prime Minister has to whip Canada into shape before taking on the added burden of the American presidency. Donald Trump’s job is safe, for now.

In corporate terms, Justin Trudeau might be able to pull off a reverse takeover, (That is where the smaller business buys the larger company because of better tax advantages.) It would also get around the problem of Justin not being born in the United States. If it all became part of Canada, who would care?

And by combining the best parts of being the American President and the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin could issue an edict making himself Chief High Potentate of North America for life. Before anyone jumps on a horse and runs around the combined countries shouting about “one by land, two by sea,” both countries can finally end the rampant corporatism that is destroying their democracies anyway.

After a couple years of confusion with President Trump, Americans will be even more willing to welcome Justin as their saviour. All we have to do is spread the word among America’s born-again that Justin was born on Christmas Day for a reason.

And if the South does not rise to the occasion with hearty huzzahs, we can threaten that we will also welcome the Mexicans into the One Big North America. We could make Spanish the lingua franca south of the Mason-Dixon line, English north from there to the former Canadian border and then French across the North.

The problem of where the new nation’s capital will be can be quickly solved by building a new one in Nevada. Government is nothing but a gamble anyway. Potomac Mosquitoes cannot survive there and if you have ever been in Ottawa in January, you would wonder why nobody thought to do this a long time ago.

Another piece of good news for the Americans; Trudeau is used to appointing Senators—that will break the deadlock there!

But full disclosure forces me to admit that Justin is not perfect. The guy tends to shoot from the lip. He is not great in keeping promises. He loves travelling around the world being lionized like a pop star.

P.S. They call this part of the summer the silly season. I wonder why?

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

‘Chuckles’ challenges Canadian compassion.

Sunday, July 30th, 2017

Federal Conservative Leader Andrew ‘Chuckles’ Scheer will not let it go. He is raising troops among the bigoted to fight against the compensation to Omar Khadr. He must intend to keep scratching at that wound until the pus from it corrupts or repulses all responsible Canadians.

What sickens us the most in this disgusting argument is the impact and discord it is sewing in various communities. Visiting a friend in Peter Kent’s Thornhill riding recently I was taken back by the vehemence that erupted when the Khadr subject came up. Listening to one Jewish individual castigating another for his lack of understanding was disquieting.

But to hear people repeat the Conservative’s ugly suggestion that Prime Minister Trudeau wants to make Omar Khadr a rich man is ludicrous. Nor is the award about to make Khadr’s lawyers rich. The Supreme Court told the government to apologize for what government agents did and compensate the victim. And how would you compensate someone for 15 years of pain, suffering, torture and false imprisonment?

It is obvious that Chuckles did not write the op-ed that was run over his name by some newspapers. It was a crafted piece that used inflammatory words, innuendo and careful half truths.

But since when is it a heinous crime to be recruited as a child soldier and sent into a firefight against well armed, equipped and trained soldiers? What happens is that you get shot!

Chuckles needs perspective.

And he needs to explain to us what enjoying the benefits of the Canadian justice system means. Does it mean you are not going to be water-boarded, sleep deprived and suffering extremes of heat?

The Opposition Leader in the House of Commons failed to make it clear to his writers that as an official of the Canadian Parliament, he has responsibilities. He is not there to promote hatred. He is not there to twist the truth. It speaks badly of him to bluntly say the Prime Minister is arrogant. The Opposition in parliament is there to criticize the government, not to demean it.

Saving the best for last, Chuckles asks a rhetorical question about Mr. Trudeau’s ‘secret’ payout to Omar Khadr. Gee! Who leaked it?

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Jagmeet Singh: Not just a pretty face.

Saturday, July 29th, 2017

The New Democratic Party’s federal leadership race is getting a little more heated. With less than two months to go, the race has taken on some disturbing aspects of the last Conservative leadership in Ontario. It is turning into Jagmeet Singh’s race to win if he is using the same tactics as Ontario Conservative winner Patrick Brown.

Brown looked at the almost one million recent immigrants in Ontario from South Asia (mainly Hindu, Sikh and Muslim from the Indian Sub-Continent) and signed up almost 40,000 temporary Conservatives. It is even easier for Jagmeet Singh to organize among this group than Brown and Singh can add another 30,000 potential supporters in B.C.

You can also assume that more than 50 per cent of the 100,000 plus NDP members are already from British Columbia and Ontario. And with all votes counting instead of balanced across the country, it is winning in those two provinces that matters.

And Quebec voters would be the least likely to support a party headed by a turbaned Sikh—no matter how much GQ Magazine admires and approves the rest of his attire.

The main difference between Conservative Brown and New Democratic Singh is that Jagmeet is a hero among the Canadian Sikh community. He has also supported Sikh candidates for the NDP across Canada.

Jagmeet (at 38) also has more life experience than contemporary Patrick Brown (at 39). Jagmeet has had considerably more experience and success as a lawyer than Brown, has proposed more bills in the Ontario Legislature than Brown did in both Ottawa and Queens’ Park and Brown would hardly want to even arm wrestle with a trained athlete such as Jagmeet.

Oddly enough neither Brown nor Singh has much to say about their policy direction. Brown does not seem to have any and Singh seems to be hoeing to the standard New Democratic policy book.

Whether either of these two men is at all ready to lead their respective parties anywhere is a very large question mark. The knives will be out for Brown after the next election in Ontario in June 2018. Jagmeet Singh would be wise to ride out that election as Ontario Deputy Leader and be ready to take over as Ontario leader when Andrea Horwath steps down. In the meantime, he can study where the NDP’s future might be.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

The marriage of Alberta’s Alt-right.

Friday, July 28th, 2017

Can you not just visualize Stan Laurel, in the person of Brian Jean, saying to Oliver Hardy, in the person of Jason Kenney, “Well here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten us into.” The mess they are into is a new provincial party in Alberta that could earn the enmity of the rest of Canada. It is an extremist version of a United Conservative Party of Alberta that few decent Albertans will want to support.

Former MP and former leader of Alberta’s Conservative Party, Jason Kenney has led Alberta’s once powerful Conservatives into a marriage with the Conservative offshoot Wildrose Party. It is a marriage without principles. It is a marriage without niceties. It is nothing more than a disgusting grab for power. It is so blatantly dishonest that it could make Donald Trump blush.

And yet nobody misses the similarities to Donald Trump’s policies. This is a party that is defiant on climate change. It wants to dig and use more of Alberta’s coal, not less. It is vehement about there being no cap on tar sands exploitation. It wants more pipelines. It will get rid of all carbon taxes. And it will cut Albertans’ taxes no matter what.

Instead of learning something from the roller coast ride that Alberta has taken on the price of oil, this party only believes in fossil fuels. They are ostriches serving the bidding of tar sands’ companies.

Brian Jean is the Member of the Legislature for Fort McMurray—Conklin and knows first hand of the best wishes and support from the rest of Canada during the fire storms of last year in that part of Alberta. Yet, he told Conservatives after the vote that their new provincial party will “send a message to all of Canada that Alberta is done apologizing for our industries and our way of life.”

That is not just a straight forward ‘Up yours’ to environmentalists and other concerned citizens.  Brian Jean and Jason Kenney have no understanding of God’s word to Moses that one should sock some away during the good years so that you can survive the lean years. They are mean and vindictive zealots who take their bitterness out on those members of society least able to speak for themselves. Please do not let these men speak for all Albertans.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

 

Playing the racism card.

Thursday, July 27th, 2017

According to the Black Experiences Project, the Greater Toronto Area is rife with racism. And it all seems targeted at blacks. If you read writers such as Desmond Cole, Royson James, Shree Paradkar or follow the gyrations of Black Lives Matter (BLM), you will be told that all the white people out there are co-conspirators in this action.

But, pardon me if I do not understand. Nobody is denying that there are racists in our society. We are hardly encouraging them. The recent outrage over the settlement with Omar Khadr brought a lot of them out of the woodwork. It gives you an idea of the size of the potential problem.

But Cole, James, Paradkar and the agitators of BLM, are sure not helping. They seem to want to divide people instead of bringing them together. In many ways, black can be beautiful but not when those people are feeding on the ugliness.

They are playing the wrong card in the game of life.

What is wrong is the bitterness they are building on. One of the most inclusive efforts in this city has been our Gay Pride week along with the parades. To interfere and bring the BLM agenda to the Gay Pride Parade was an insult to the city and an embarrassment to the black community. You will note that they are hardly likely to try that against part of their own community during the Caribana celebrations.

The diversity of the people of the GTA is in so many ways its strength. Maybe that statement rings false to you but I have watched this city grow and change since the end of the Second World War. I believe that most new arrivals since then have contributed to the richness that makes the city and the surrounding area so successful.

Toronto had its roots in Muddy York. The only people they looked down on originally were the impoverished Irish, escaping famines on their beautiful isle. Before WWII, we had some serious anti-Semitism with which to contend. There were so many parts of the world coming after that, we just adopted a welcoming mode.

We have created a city, and a province, and a country rich in the cultures and foods and the languages of the world. The secret to being accepted by this polyglot is to make yourself useful. If you want to stand apart and complain instead of helping, be it on your own head.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Missing Sean Spicer.

Wednesday, July 26th, 2017

President Donald Trump has no sense of balance. He also has very little sense of humour. We counted on his press secretary to give us that bit of fun that made the White House scene safe for family entertainment.

But Sean Spicer is gone. He has been replaced. It takes two to replace him. We are getting a blousy Monica Lewinsky look-alike to cover the media room platform and a wise-ass New Yorker to run the fake news show.

And it is all show business as usual. Any connection between the American president and what the news media are being told is probably co-incidental. It just surprises us that it takes two people to replace old Sean.

Whether Sarah Huckabee Sanders will last on the White House stage as much as six months as did Sean is anybody’s guess. She did a workmanlike job as Sean’s assistant briefer recently. We are just waiting for the time when she runs out of patience with the denizens of the White House news media.

Her boss, the new communications director for the White House, has much greater challenges. He is a glib character whose main experience seems to be as a hedge-fund manager. So far, the only people he seems to have conned are his company’s customers and Mr. Trump. Now his challenge is the United States and the rest of the world’s media. In a single appearance before the media, we got the impression that his strategy is to talk fast and smile a lot. (Which is what hedge fund managers do—don’t they?)

But can we ever again see a press chief playing peek-a-boo in the dark of the White House Rose Garden? Will there continue to be briefings that say one thing and presidential tweets that say something completely different?

But there could be one serious request of this new communications guy that would go a long way to correcting the impression that the White House is in the hands of a legion of incompetents. Please, please sir: add an editor to your staff. Somebody who knows the English language is desperately needed in that zoo. We are not talking here about the occasional typo. Nor do we care that Mr. Trump missed all his spelling classes during his obviously limited schooling. We are concerned about official documents and media material. Proper spelling would go a long way in raising respect and understanding.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Brown’s battling beginnings.

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017

It is getting so bad that even PostMedia writers are wondering when Ontario Conservative Leader Patrick Brown is going to show some maturity. They are starting to question Brown’s ability to run a political party. He is certainly not getting the nomination process right.

Many want to write it off to the vulnerability of the Wynne Liberals. The only problem is that Brown has no leadership skills and he sends the wrong signals to the party. He is the guy who stole the party leadership through signing up thousands of new immigrants from the Indian Sub-Continent. Nobody thought to ask if all those people had paid their own memberships.

And so why should people who want to run as Conservative candidates want to play fair? Conservative Party nomination meetings all over Ontario are turning into fiascos. There have been claims of ballot box stuffing, illegal memberships, party officials’ interference, incompetent meeting management and candidates who might or not be the type of Tory they say they are.

It is such a mess, we are starting to wonder what is going on in Barrie, a town which Brown has always pretended to run. We have it on good authority that Brown will be the candidate in the electoral district of Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte. The last federal election in this riding had the Conservative winning by 86 votes. They lost the city but won the rural vote. There are lots of us who are laying in wait for Brown. We will roast him.

Brown is so arrogant that he is running his former executive assistant in the new companion riding of Barrie—Innisfil. Shawn Bubel who worked for Brown over the years is running for the nomination in that riding that includes the south half of Barrie. He has the same weakness as Brown as a candidate in that he lacks the life and business experience that makes for a good politician. People who have run businesses, met a payroll, worked daily with people and shown real leadership have a far better understanding of peoples’ needs than people like Brown and Bubel who have devoted themselves to political manipulation and using people.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

 

Running in the Green.

Monday, July 24th, 2017

If the federal New Democratic Party is now Green, where does the Green Party get to go? Looking at NDP MP Niki Ashton’s pricy green plan, you really wonder about the grasp on reality of the entire party. Is this the party of Tommy Douglas that cared so much about people?

What really worries me is that Niki Ashton’s lead seems to be followed by each of the other leadership rivals. Each wants to be greener than the next. They are taking their party nowhere but down a rabbit hole.

Ashton even wants to spend green money. She has an elaborate plan to spend $10 billion every year to build green housing. Her plan reminds us of the Italian fascist corporations. There is one for each of four sectors to dole out government funds to green energy efforts. She thinks Canada can meet its emissions commitments five years earlier. That would be easy, if you just turn off the Alberta tar sands as the NDP LEAP Manifesto demands.

But none of this wishful thinking is telling Canadians where the candidates think the New Democrats are headed. What is the successor to socialism? What is it that Canadians really need in terms of direction from Ottawa? Are New Democrats really relevant?

Socialism with its 19th century roots is passé. When you realize that business can only exist as a servant of the people, it impacts your view of politics. The reality in this day and age is that our future is tied to left-wing liberalism under a social democratic umbrella. Instead of being based on a manifesto of complaints, this combined party needs a new direction based on an updated Rights of Men and Women. Think of what Bernie Sanders said in the last election in the United States—and look what the Americans got instead.

It is the future of our peoples we must care about. The environment is part of the living conditions we want for ourselves and our children’s children. They also need work that fulfills. They need complete health care that includes medicines and dental services. They need all the education that they can handle. We need a stable and adequate basic income guarantee for all.

Justin Trudeau has destroyed the Liberal Party and ‘Sunny Days’ are numbered. Canada needs a viable alternative on the left. Can anyone take the New Democrats into a possible future?

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Change the future; Not the past.

Sunday, July 23rd, 2017

It seems to be the rage these days to want to tear down icons of the past. Why are we wasting so much time, rhetoric and effort in this pursuit? What can it gain us if we do not look to our future?

There is a framed front page of the Toronto Globe from 1893 hanging over my computer as I write. It features a story about a distant relative, Sir Oliver Mowat, then Premier of Ontario. My old friend Bob Nixon, when he was Leader of the Ontario Liberal Party, once referred to old Ollie in a speech as “that myopic little man.” In his day, Sir Oliver worked very hard for Ontario. Why criticize him just because times have changed?

Similarly, I have a picture of Sir. John A. Macdonald prominent on another wall. Sure, Sir John was a drunk and a racist, he was also a damn effective politician in his day and Canada is here to prove it.

But the current contretemps about historic figures Egerton Ryerson in Toronto and Edward Cornwallis in Halifax are ridiculous. As something of a student of Canadian history, I will cheerfully admit that neither of the gentlemen live up to our standards in the 21st century.

When Cornwallis was sent by the British to establish a colony at what is now Halifax, Nova Scotia in the mid-18th century, a standard means of dealing with the local aboriginals was a bounty for scalps. Despite his efforts to make peace with the local bands, he was not knowledgeable enough to deal with the right ones. It was not until he found for himself that the trade in scalps was counterproductive that he again sued for peace with the local Mi’kmaq. Cornwallis was only in Halifax for three years and he can hardly be blamed for everything that went wrong.

And then you have fusty old Egerton Ryerson in Toronto. Yes, he did his best to tell the federal government in the late 1800s what to teach the youngsters in the residential schools but he was neither responsible for the people doing the teaching nor the overall management of the schools.

Ryerson might have been a hide-bound Methodist but he made a major contribution in launching one of the finest public education systems in the world here in Ontario. We should worry more about its future than its past.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

 

What comes ‘AFTA’ NAFTA?

Saturday, July 22nd, 2017

Back in the first round of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiations, it was Prime Minister Brian Mulroney who caved in to the American negotiators. In this upcoming go-around, our Canadian negotiators have to show a great deal more backbone. We also have to have a game plan in place just in case Donald Trump’s negotiators take their ball and bat and go home.

Mind you, Donald Trump facing the combined fury of North American automobile manufactures would probably allow a grandfathering of that sector. We can assume that the older Auto Pact would survive.

But from there the future is less clear. Replacing as much as $400 billion in non-automotive, two-way trade with the United States would be a gut wrenching experience. A tariff war would be for losers and more serious than the Mexican wall.

The beneficiaries of no NAFTA would be China and Europe. China has already surpassed Canada to become the American’s number one trading partner. The only problem is that to channel U.S.-bound goods from Canada through China adds heavy shipping costs and serious price increases.

Just maybe, before things get too far off the rails, someone has to convince Donald Trump that he will be beggaring his own base if he loses NAFTA. There would have to be a transitional period to soften the economic blow but there seems no way Trump could win a second term at the White House in the face of such a stupid move.

His ‘show and tell’ for his base the other day when he was showing off a fire truck for the kids in all of us, missed making the point. This seems to be a foolish negotiation in which he has given away his objectives while the Canadians and Mexicans have been sitting back saying little. The opposition parties in Ottawa have been demanding that Trudeau and Company say what their objectives are—which would be stupid given the circumstances,

Of course, Canada will stand its ground on Trump’s demands on softwood lumber. We have already won that case more than once. And we are not about to give up an adjudication process that seems to work.

The Harper government was willing to turn on Quebec and weaken our supply management for the Europeans but we would be crazy to do it for the Americans. What would be the point of beggaring our dairy industry the same way the Americans are destroying theirs?

If it all ends up as the status quo, is that a win?

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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