Archive for September, 2017

Toronto’s Tory talks the talk.

Saturday, September 30th, 2017

It was Doug Ford’s challenge. He actually asked Toronto Mayor John Tory to rename Etobicoke’s Centennial Stadium after his late brother Rob. It is very hard to say whether Tory—considering that Doug Ford says he will challenge him for the mayoralty next year—was baiting a trap or just proving Ford is an egotistical ass.

Now the question is whether the Toronto mayor is serious in supporting the idea of renaming the stadium or is just leading likely opponent Doug Ford down the garden path?

It was interesting when the younger Ford brother, who has less than half the political instincts of his late brother, actually belittled the stadium when asking for its renaming. He said it was a small stadium, without a name, that just happened to be located in Centennial Park.

Ford made the plea that it was in this small stadium in Centennial Park where Rob Ford used to play football and even coached there. Whether he used to smoke crack cocaine or meet with gangs there did not come up.

Mayor Tory wisely mentioned a couple of other deceased councillors who might also be recognized in this way, should there be a suitable civic facility to be named.

In his letter to city council members, Tory mentioned former Mayor Rob Ford’s “unique approach to public service.”  It is statements such as that that Mayor Tory might make us wonder how serious the mayor might be?

We should bear in mind that the one term of Rob Ford in the mayor’s office was one of the most tumultuous periods in the history of Toronto politics. If you were honouring the notoriety that he brought to Toronto, council should use his name for Toronto City Hall.

But I, for one, take considerable exception with the practice these days of selling and reselling names for stadiums, arenas, parks and theatres. It is not only crass and vulgar but should hardly be a matter for the mayor of the city to be touting. To me, the Blue Jays are still playing baseball at SkyDome, the O’Keefe Centre is on Front Street and Maple Leaf Gardens is a shrine to hockey. What is your price to dishonour the past?

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Use child psychology on Mr. Trump.

Friday, September 29th, 2017

This is a bit of advice for our world leaders. It is very simple. It is not even difficult. It is the realization that we have been mishandling the president of the United States. We have been erroneously treating him as an adult. He does not seem to want to be treated as an adult.

We will leave the pinning down of the exact age to the people with the advanced degrees but we expect that Mr. Trump has an emotional age of somewhere between 6 and 12. Mind you, in his relationships with women, it is doubtful that he has even been weaned yet.

But it came to us the other day when the gentleman in question was flaming tweets at the National Football League. It was beyond the president’s comprehension that an athlete might have a better way to respect the American national anthem. Kneeling seems to be a very devout way to recognize the importance of the anthem. And yet, our so very patriotic Mr. Trump gets into a tantrum about it. He wants those athletes fired.

Team owners—whom those same athletes make filthy rich—are not about to fire them. Some of those guys are going out and showing solidarity with their athletes. There are also those joining in on the juvenile practice of tweeting back at the president.

The athletes caught in the middle are the Pittsburgh Penguins. Since they are a hockey team made up mainly of Canadians, they cannot be seen to disrespect the American anthem. And kneeling on ice is not a good idea anyway. Besides, the team captain, Sid Crosby, a Canadian, has been hit on the head too often this past season and had to promise to stay out of fights.

That is why Sid and the boys are being invited to go to the White House to have a play date with Donnie Trump.

The mistake that Mr. Trump has been making is that he has failed to have his little friend, Kim Jong Un in North Korea, over for a play date. The two of them could spend some happy time together comparing the size and power of of their rockets.

It could give an entirely new meaning and scope to foreign relations.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Singh misreads Canadian acceptance.

Thursday, September 28th, 2017

Ontario MPP Jagmeet Singh is heading for some disappointment. It would really be better if he faced it this weekend instead of in the next federal election. As the obvious frontrunner in the announcement this weekend of the first vote in the New Democratic Party leadership race, it would be better if he did not win.

As much as Singh might believe in the easy acceptance by Canadians of Sikhs in their society, they are not about to make a turbaned Sikh politician prime minister.

And there is very little or no bigotry involved. Canadians would also not be likely to vote for a Muslim woman in a burka, nor a Jewish Hasidic, nor a Mennonite prepared to take horse and buggy to Ottawa, nor an ordained Catholic priest in vestments, nor an aboriginal holy person in tribal costume. You simply cannot put any of the values attributed to those various religious statements ahead of the neutrality of the office of prime minister. The prime minister represents everybody.

Canadians want to be very accepting, tolerant and welcoming people. They take pride in the mix of their society, yet do not intermix very much in social relations.

It always amused me that back in the days when I looked after media relations for the Liberal Party in Toronto that I would routinely look after contacting the ethnic media for meet-and-greets with party leaders. Yet, when it came to appointing someone to a paid position, it had to be someone with a more ethnic-sounding name.

It is the ethnic strength of the constant growth and change in Canada that is helping to destroy the nature of our political parties. There is nothing new to the wholesale enrolling of an ethnic group to support this or that cause or this or that politician. It has served to both build and destroy causes and people.

Patrick Brown swamped the Progressive Conservative membership in Ontario by signing up and paying for Hindu, Sikh and Muslim groups from the Indian sub-continent. Jagmeet Singh did not even have to pay for the Sikh communities across Canada who delighted in buying more than 40,000 New Democratic memberships. All that means is that, if he is leader of the New Democrats, he will do well in a couple ridings in Montreal, in the greater Toronto area and around Vancouver in B.C. He needs to realize that all he can win is a mirage.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

The myopic Mr. Brown.

Wednesday, September 27th, 2017

It reminds us that even a stopped clock can be right twice a day. Ontario Conservative Leader Patrick Brown has no policies but we know what he is against. He tells us that he will cancel the Liberal Cap and Trade environmental protection plan. He has no idea what he might replace it with but he might be right to get rid of it.

What Brown does not seem to know is that the combination of a federal carbon tax and a provincial cap-and-trade in Ontario and Quebec creates a complex tax on tax on commodities such as gasoline, natural gas and home heating oil. With the cap-and-trade system being hidden—and further confused by being linked to the California and Quebec systems—consumers have no idea how much tax they are paying, and to whom?

Cap-and-trade is not transparent. It is paid at the producer level in a deal-making process with the various provincial and state governments. The consumer only sees it as a higher price once federal, provincial taxes, sales taxes and retail mark-up have been added. And to make matters worse, exporters are paying the cap-and-trade rate too and are less competitive in world markets.

The last time we saw an industry working on its own to say what the carbon cap should be on their industry was Alberta’s tar sands exploiters. In nine years of the Harper government in Canada, the tar sands people never did set a cap on their carbon.

Between carbon tax and a cap-and-trade system, carbon tax is the more honest and open system. The bill starts out the same for all manufacturers. You put so much carbon into our environment, here is what it is going to cost you. It is simple, open and honest. The challenge is to the manufacturer to reduce the carbon emissions and reduce the tax. If the carbon is reduced, the tax is reduced. It is easy to see what is happening and all figures are there for the consumer to see.

Obviously, this openness would be too much for Patrick Brown should he ever, accidently, get to be premier. He would be unlikely to ever change it as it would suit his deceptive nature.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

 

Is NAFTA circling the drain?

Tuesday, September 26th, 2017

You always assume there is hope as long as negotiations continue—as they are for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) this week in Ottawa. The only problem is that the negotiators are not the decision makers. The final solution rests with an incompetent occupant in the White House. And you should not try to confront that gentleman with facts.

Mr. Trump promised his voting claque that he would dump NAFTA. While economists might reason that pulling out of NAFTA could destroy the American economy, his claque does not understand that. And many, if they did comprehend, would not care. To them, a pyrrhic victory is still a victory.

It is the same attitude as led to the self-destructive BREXIT in the United Kingdom. People who vote in anger often live to regret it.

But those NAFTA negotiators continue to pontificate as they enjoy the fine cuisine in Ottawa. The least involved are the Mexican participants who have serious concerns about the conditions they left behind in and around Mexico City. As the world comes to their aid after the devastating earthquake, one wonders when the American and Canadian aid is coming?

And we can really be puzzled at Canadian cabinet members who naively think this negotiation can be about environmental issues. Do they really think that Mr. Trump gives a damn? This is the climate-change denier who reopened the Appalachian coal mines to make his billionaire friends richer.

You have to hand it to the American negotiators. These people are going through the motions as though they mean it. There will be no complaints from Congress and the Washington clique over their efforts. One of the surprises is they might really drive a wedge between the Canadians and the Mexicans. If they can keep the Canadians on-side in forcing the Mexicans to equalize wages (with the southern U.S. at least), it could go a long way to stopping the steady drain of labour-intensive production south to Mexico.

The problem though dear friends is that the entire exercise is nothing but an interesting review of the concerns. We can hardly deny that some changes are needed but Mr. Trump does not care what we think. None of the changes proposed by Canada or Mexico will happen. The American negotiators are more interested in what they can possibly bully the other two countries into.

And the future of NAFTA will only be decided around the Resolute desk in the Oval Office.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Who’s crazy?

Monday, September 25th, 2017

Interesting editorial cartoon the other day. It is of Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un. The North Korean leader is shown pulling a child’s wagon with a small rocket on it put together with tape. The American president has an array of rockets behind him and he is wearing a straight jacket. The balloon of words coming from Trump are “If it isn’t the crazy Rocket Man!”

Luckily editorial cartoonists have far more leeway in lampooning people than do writers. It is assumed that nobody takes editorial cartoons too seriously. In as much as Donald Trump is still running loose and as it seems no psychiatrist has been able to conduct the appropriate studies, questioning and observations of his narcissistic tendencies, we still should not refer to him as a flaming nutcase.

Mind you, that did not seem to bother the Iranian leader who gave what was considered a quite restrained speech the next day about the extremist tendencies of the American president. The elderly gentleman did seem affronted by Mr. Trump’s ill-considered words about the Iranian accord.

But the entire episode does give us an opportunity to sort of think inside the mental health centre. First of all, Kim Jong Un might not be all that important. He seems to be nothing more than a willing playmate of the generals who actually run his country. For Mr. Trump to goad the little putz is just plain silly.

It is what Mr. Trump is doing to the American Dream in the rest of the world that is far more serious. Many countries who used to respect America are aghast at what they are hearing. Being the world leader gives the U.S. a long way to fall and it could have serious consequences economically as well as in world-wide prestige.

To make matters even worse, Mr. Trump is a nasty neighbour. His racist, mistreatment of Mexico along with the ignorance of his foolish wall are long going to be remembered by America’s southern neighbour. And if Trump does not realize the consequences of cancelling the North American Free Trade Agreement, somebody had better tell him. He could launch a recession that would rival the one in the ‘Dirty Thirties.’

That will sure make America great again!

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Trudeau’s terrific travels!

Sunday, September 24th, 2017

Canadians sure get full measure when they send their prime minister on a personal appearance tour. He did more in two days in New York than most rock stars can do in a week.  The British prime minister and that New Yorker who currently occupies the Washington White House were also in town but the young guy from Canada got the star treatment.

Trudeau must have planned to arrive after Trump’s speech which was smart. Nobody could have matched the hyperbole and B.S. of that Donald Trump classic. It was over the top, overdone, over dramatic and dreadful diplomacy. Trump took the U.S. to depths of dishonour not seen in the United Nations forum since Nikita Khrushchev took off his shoe and banged it on his desk to show his displeasure.

But after a day of special appearances and being lionized, Trudeau showed up at the United Nations. This is the world’s forum. He had this golden opportunity to tell the world of his thoughts and dreams. He could have followed the American president and the British prime minister with a balance of logic and reason, peace and temperance, love and understanding.

Instead, our nit-wit PM blew it!

What egotistical brain fart led him to devote his speech to Canadians’ historical crapping on their own indigenous peoples? What made our rock-star prime minister think these world diplomats give a damn? Most of them have a rooms in their palaces for their own shames. They hardly need to hear chapter and verse on our failings.

What you do, Mr. Prime Minister, is admit your failings and move on. Nor do you try to hide those failings and let them be used against you.

But there are problems in the world that need to be addressed in this world forum. Are we to leave the North Korean problem to a sabre-rattling incompetent in Washington? Cannot Canada take a role in helping the people in the Caribbean who have had the ground washed out from under them? Where is the promised plan for Canada to help with world peacekeeping? World trade is being endangered by a nincompoop in the White House and someone has to take a stand for reason.

Are you not afraid Mr. Prime Minister that those screaming kids at the We Meeting the day before will find out you are a coward?

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

‘Chuckles’ cheers the cheaters.

Saturday, September 23rd, 2017

There are two types of people who take advantage of Canada’s tax laws and form private corporations. There are those who legitimately pay family members (and others) for their work and there are those who sprinkle the income among family to avoid taxes. It is this second group that is so delighted that Conservative Opposition Leader Andrew ‘Chuckles’ Scheer has taken up their cause. Cheating on your taxes seems to be a game for some people and they welcome politicians foolish enough to try to help them.

But cheating on taxes is not a game and Canadians have put up with a system that panders to the rich for too long.

I will never forget a comment by my late brother the first time he made more than a few million dollars. He was a convinced capitalist but he admitted to me that he was actually embarrassed by the small amount of money he had to pay, once one of the large accounting firms had done his taxes.

Canada’s tax system relies heavily on the honesty of its citizens in reporting their income. When the loopholes in the system are mainly used by those who can afford expert help in preparing their taxes, the system is wrong. What the tax avoidance schemes of the very wealthy tell us is that it is alright to cheat on your taxes. As this attitude trickles down, the response is to build the underground economy. The tax system is being attacked at both ends.

What we must do is convince Canadians of the fairness of the system again. We can only do that by proving that it is fair.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau has his work cut out for him. His problem is that his department has built up a fiction over the years that there are different types of dollars. There are earned dollars and capital gains dollars, there are dividend dollars and wage dollars, there are dollars earned in Canada and there are off-shore dollars. To add more confusion there are expense accounts that help companies make money and there are expense accounts that are purely benefits. And why do employees who earn the most have the most benefits?

When every dollar is recognized for what it is—taxable—we will have a tax system that everybody can trust. Politicians who rant over perceived unfairness to their friends are not very smart politicians.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

‘Corrupt Kathleen’ campaign comes to Canada.

Friday, September 22nd, 2017

It hardly took long. Sleaze spreads. The Ontario Conservatives had to think of something to overcome their lack of leadership, ethics, ideas and policies. When your party leader is a nobody, you attack the person people know. It makes you feel superior. It worked for Donald Trump did it not?

We can certainly assure you that Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne is no Hillary Clinton. She might not be as smart as Clinton but she is more of a street fighter. She is no lady. She is not going to take any crap from a putz like Patrick Brown.

That silly ass Brown deliberately said to the news media that the Premier was “on trial” when she appeared (as a witness) in the Sudbury bribery trial. He might not be a very successful lawyer but he was trained as one. He must have read something about slander and libel. He also knows that a judge’s ruling on what he said can be year’s away. It hardly matters then. The trial by voters is next June.

But, until then, Brown and his friends are going to try to pile on the sleaze. It does not seem likely that Kathleen Wynne will let them. This coming election campaign might not be fought under the Marquess of Queensberry Rules.

Hillary Clinton’s major mistake in last year’s American presidential campaign was not calling Trump for what he was—an overblown ego and narcissist who was totally unqualified, and unequipped to serve as president of the United States.

Those of us who know Patrick Brown can assure you that electing him as Premier would be an unmitigated disaster. He has never seemed to care much about policies, people or politeness. We are beginning to wonder when his handlers are going to hire some poor woman to hang on his arm to help him look normal?

I am going to get Stevie Cameron’s book On the Take off my bookshelf and remind myself of the sleaze of the Mulroney years in Ottawa. It seems that former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney is now a major fund raiser for Patrick Brown. It is likely to be the quid pro quo for Brown giving Mulroney’s daughter the nomination in the York-Simcoe electoral district for next June’s election in Ontario.

They are going to need a lot of money if they keep buying heavy flights of TV commercials defaming Kathleen Wynne.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Hyperloop hardly halts high-speed trains.

Thursday, September 21st, 2017

Do you want to be sent by pipeline down the Montreal-Toronto corridor? They are suggesting that the city to city trip will be in as little as 39 minutes. It sounds like a great idea but I am not sure that 39 minutes of claustrophobia, g-forces and sheer terror would be worth it.

Damn it all, if I am going to travel across Ontario to go to Montreal, I want to be able to look out the window. Hyperloop systems remind me of those tubes in the old ‘five and ten’ and other large stores that sucked in round containers and distributed them to other departments. I was always surprised when my change and receipt came, with a plop, back to where I was waiting.

My old friend David Collenette, former Prime Minister Chrétien’s transport minister, is currently doing an environmental assessment for Premier Wynne on a high-speed train line from Windsor to Toronto. It is just part of Wynne’s contrariness that she wants to go backwards to Windsor before she goes forward to Montreal.

I have been a proponent of high-speed electric trains for Canada for many years and I have always felt like a voice in the wilderness. What drives me nuts on the issue is that Quebec has all kinds of cheap electrical energy available for this project and some form of pernicious separatism has prevented Quebec politicians from getting behind the need for high-speed electrified trains. Airplanes, buses, automobiles and diesel locomotives pollute. High-speed electric trains cause the least pollution.

Ontario was a world leader in interurban trolley systems back at the turn of the 20th Century and gradually got rid of them with the growth of the automobile and congested highways. It amazes me that all these politicians can give lip service to environmentalism and yet never get serious about electrified train systems.

It has always seemed to be rejection of our first prime minister’s, Sir John A. Macdonald’s dream of Canada that we have not followed through on keeping this country linked by modern railways. Are we the last country in the G-20 to recognize the value of electrified, high-speed trains?

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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