Archive for October, 2017

Trump’s Triumph.

Tuesday, October 31st, 2017

It could become a bigger parlor game than Monopoly. It seems appropriate to introduce it on Halloween. Our latest board game enables players to have fun ridiculing U.S. President Donald Trump. We are calling the new game Trump’s Triumph. It is both hilarious and horrifying—and how can you beat that? It is based on the most outrageous scenarios and how Trump would pull it off. Every time a player tops all others, he or she gets to be part of Trump’s Roman triumph down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington.

One of the more interesting scenarios is based on what happens after Trump cancels the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). This assumes that he has been secretly negotiating with Russia to replace Canada and Mexico in the hearts and minds and wallets of Americans. After all it is only $500 billion in trade that he needs to replace. Just do not try to compute that $500 billion in Rubles—you will end up with a headache.

But it will be Trump’s Washington Triumph that will be the most fun. Imagine Trump and Putin sitting on the backs of matching open convertibles. (The armoured shields will only have to be raised as the convertibles pass the Canadian Embassy.)

It would also be fun to have the then current Canadian prime minister and Mexican president in chains walking behind Trump and Putin. They would be followed by the last Canadian-made Chevrolet and the last Mexican-made Toyota. They would be followed by a tow truck hauling the first Russian Lada made for the American market.

As you can see, it is a two-part game with the players coming up with outrageous actions by President Trump that he will carelessly inflict on American citizens. These actions can be done for his fun or profit. It little matters how much he will gain in wealth as his actions will likely destroy the value of the American dollar for a very long time.

The second part of the game is to see who has had enough to drink at the party to come up with the most outlandish but plausible aspects of a triumph for President Trump. The only stipulation is that the player has to find imaginative ways to keep Mr. Trump in office to allow the next player to have a turn.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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Excessives beat Progressives in Alberta.

Monday, October 30th, 2017

Friends in Alberta have been asking why this commentary had nothing to say about the race to run that province’s United Conservative Party? It was not because we did not have an opinion. It was sleazy, it was corrupt, it was predictable and we wanted no part of it.

I never thought in this lifetime that I would have any sympathy for Brian Jean, the former head of the Wildrose Party. I used to have a cat with more political smarts than Jean. The cat always knew which stranger’s lap to climb up on. Jean blew it. He let himself be had.

Not that Jean and his Wildrose yahoos ever concerned us. It is the old Conservative Party of Alberta that will be missed. Those people might have been misled in some instances but their hearts were in the right place. They might have engaged in some unseemly rhetoric over the years but they are decent people and they are concerned Canadians. And they seem to have no idea what they are now in for.

I am too far away to comment on the people behind Jason Kenney but if he gives you the creeps, his backers will likely scare hell out of you.

When I first saw Jason Kenney in Ottawa and learned about his background, I had serious misgivings about him. When I saw what he was doing in some of the ethnic communities, it was a level of hypocrisy that I had never seen from a Conservative operative before.

This is the guy who showed his friend Patrick Brown from Ontario how to line up tens of thousands of immigrants from India to steal the leadership of Ontario Conservative Party. He and Brown are fellow rabid social conservatives. They are used to lying about it. They will be what you want them to be in exchange for your vote.

Originally, I paired Jason Kenney with Ottawa M.P. John Baird who worked closely with Kenney in the Harper cabinet. I called the two fat and forty-something bachelors the Bobbsey Twins.

But seeing how nasty Kenney and his sycophants were back in Alberta with women in his own party made me wonder if Albertans were missing something. Kenney has a lot to learn about being a gentleman and it strikes me that Premier Rachel Notley might just give him some lessons in the coming months.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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Caesar’s wife must be beyond suspicion.

Sunday, October 29th, 2017

Recently we wrote that federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau is in the role of Caesar’s wife. The simple point of that is what Julius Caesar said when he divorced his wife Pompeia: “My wife ought not even be under suspicion.” That statement has meant for centuries that those who seek to be leaders can have no blemish of scandal on themselves or those who share in their trust. It is why Prime Minister Trudeau has an ongoing problem with Bill Morneau.

The Liberal finance minister can no longer be retained in that trusted position. He has failed to rise above the criticisms of detractors.  He has failed to allay suspicions of impropriety. He has failed to hear the baying of the media wolf pack seeking his downfall. He has failed to quiet the catcalls of the political opposition in parliament.

And why does Morneau think that donating to charity the earnings of his stocks since coming to parliament are a panacea? Whether the net difference was $5 or more than $5 million, it comes across as an admission of guilt. The flunky in his office who dreamed up that gambit should be wearing the dunce cap of the apolitical.

But then the dunce cap belongs to Morneau. He has proved to be without political understanding or depth. I have been pleased to hear that voters in his riding seem to like him. They see him as a nice guy. Maybe he just needed time to learn something about the political realities. You cannot do that in the action chair of finance minister.

To use a baseball analogy, he needs to be sent to the minors for some conditioning and experience. His earned run average is abysmal. His runs batted in stats are below average.

We should also realize that Morneau has done some good. He was a fresh and friendly face in the largely inexperienced team presented by Justin Trudeau at Rideau Hall two years ago.

Trudeau did not dump John McCallum from cabinet for doing a poor job for the Syrian refugees. He did not dump Stéphane Dion because of inexperience in foreign affairs. We can only speculate on his reasons. We know he cannot go on trying to protect Morneau in the finance portfolio.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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Curating the consensus of the crowd.

Saturday, October 28th, 2017

It is most unlikely that Maude Barlow and the membership of the Council of Canadians see Canada’s future as being a pastoral society. It just appears by the collective’s recent policy consensus that this is what they want. What it might be telling us is that Maude’s days as curator for the Council could be numbered. It needs more of the strength and determination she brought to the movement back in the 1980s and 90s.

It is hardly that I disagree with any of the priorities selected by the membership. The problem is that they have selected principles over actions. Of the five top priorities of the membership there was only one pro-active item. National Pharmacare is long overdue and we should have pushed it through in the 1960s when our national politicians were still listening to us.

But the rest are platitudes. The care of our lakes and rivers is automatic and motherhood. You can get that from the Green Party, and nothing much else. Deals such as the Nestlé water grab are a matter of some serious talk with the politicians. Pipelines for bitumen from the tar sands are anathema to anyone who gives a damn about the environment.

But then you have to clear the collective’s head on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). To fix NAFTA, you have to know what clauses and how you are going to fix them. You cannot just say you are going to protect people’s jobs. Why would you do that? Free trade is designed to get around that old, out-dated attitude. The way to handle that problem is to save the other guy’s workers. You do not tell him to get rid of child workers, you make him send them to school. You make sure nobody is being exploited. You have to be assured that all workers’ rights are safe-guarded. Then you have a level ground for your trade agreement.

Think about it: who is President Trump really protecting when he talks about an unfair NAFTA? Is he speaking of protecting the hourly-wage worker or the profits of his corporate cronies?

In a business career working with computer companies, I never saw computer automation replace a human worker that did not open up two better, more challenging jobs. The attitude should always be: if your job can be done better by a machine, it should be.

But you hardly need to worry about automation and trade deals in a pastoral society. Our Council of Canadians need to get out and tend their sheep.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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There’s more to life than apples.

Friday, October 27th, 2017

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s main man Finance Minister Bill Morneau is still playing the role of Johnny Appleseed. He seems to have the sole role of a single program like the character in American folk lore who introduced apple horticulture to a large swath of North America.

There is nothing wrong with sticking to what you know but I always thought Appleseed could have added the occasional orchard of peach or cherry trees to his planting. Similarly, Morneau could have added other segments of society to helping families with children. How about helping our seniors to get by?

Not that there is anything wrong with child support programs. It is just that people with children are not the only members of Canadian society who feel the pinch of inflation. And we were pleased to hear from Mr. Morneau that when you give money to people who might need the money, they will spend it. That helps the economy grow. If you keep giving money to millionaires like Mr. Morneau, they will keep looking for vacation villa’s to purchase in Provence. That does nothing for the Canadian economy.

It was good to hear from Mr. Morneau that the Canadian economy was doing better than expected. Would he have told us, were it not?

And I was also pleased that he tried to ignore the reporters’ rudely shouted questions about balancing books. I suspect that none of those rude people were economists and had little knowledge of what they meant by such a meaningless question. Frankly, Canadians as a whole probably would never give a damn as to whether the books were balanced or not. It is just a silly idea promoted by block-headed conservatives that a country should be run as though it is a household—and not spend more than its income.

But any smart business person can tell you that you have to invest to build. Those damn risk-adverse Tories are a drag on our society. This country was built by the people who accepted challenges, made the investments, showed the good faith and the willingness to pitch in. We should take some time to appreciate what some of those old fogies of the past did for us. They built a hell of a country—and we should keep it going and growing.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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Bad bodings for Brown.

Thursday, October 26th, 2017

A large piece of the Ontario provincial Conservative’s election campaign went bye-bye the other day. Brown and his buddies must have been sitting around the party headquarters war room contemplating what might have been. The directed verdict of a Sudbury, Ontario judge cut the campaign off at the knees. The campaign using Donald Trump’s “Corrupt Hillary” theme would not work.

The problem for Brown and buddies is that any claim of corruption had to have a believability factor. You not only needed people who dislike the premier anyway but you needed that “maybe” factor. Without that maybe factor, the voters would know you were blowing smoke.

Consider how unlikely it would have been for Trump to win that election in the United States if there was not a question mark in many voters’ minds that maybe Hillary Clinton really was corrupt. And then, it was the credibility given the claim, in the last few days of the election, by the former Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, that threw the election. Finding out that the information was wrong after the election does not get your vote back.

Donald Trump had the money and the cunning and the lack of scruples and the luck to create the perfect storm. He also had a woman as an opponent who expected him to try to act like a politician and make mistakes. Trump was a political mistake from the get-go. His money made his campaign possible and his naiveté worked for him.

Brown’s problem is that his life is politics. He seems to have no problem doing what is mean, vicious and uncaring but his reflexes are directional and predictably political. He is unlikely to survive a debate with Kathleen Wynne. He does not operate on that plateau. It could be good television if it happens.

Brown’s buddies will have to find a stronger way to link Kathleen Wynne with corruption. We have seen in the test commercials that they are taking a reading on the idea of some mysterious “friends of Kathleen” being the benefactors of corruption but that is unlikely to catch on. The older gas plant kafuffle cannot do the job alone as the premier was never directly involved.

It would be nice to say that we are sorry that Patrick Brown is having these problems: But we are not.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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Joly jilts journalism.

Wednesday, October 25th, 2017

Every government for the past 50 years in Canada has wrung its collective hands over the state of Canadian journalism. We have had studies, expert reports, editorials, analyses, speeches and diatribes over the news media and its state of disrepair. What we have failed to do is come to any answers. We have left it to the marketplace to resolve.

And to put a firm closure on it, Canadian Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly said last week that the Liberal government “has no plan to bail out industry models that are no longer viable.”

Joly wants to show how modern she is by touting Facebook, Twitter and Google. What her and her advisers do not understand is that we have had a stock explanation for that type of news service since the beginning of the computer era. It is called garbage in: garbage out.

Where the state of journalism is really suffering in Canada is in the quality of the output that is trying to compete with the fake news of the Internet. Maybe PostMedia is going downhill faster than the Globe and Mail. With PostMedia really owned by the people in the U.S. responsible for the digital version of the old supermarket tabloid the National Enquirer, we are not expecting much.

But even the over-rated Toronto Star is showing the signs of deteriorating standards as less and less effort goes into the quality of the journalism. An interesting example the other day was a column by national affairs writer Chantal Hébert. It was a seemingly tongue-in-cheek report on the foolishness of Quebec Bill 62 covering face coverings. At the beginning of the second paragraph, Chantal actually wrote that “to declare war on sunglasses is pretty unique in the history of Canada.” Chantal knows you do not qualify “unique.” All it really proves is that the Toronto Star can no longer afford copy editors. And if we wanted to discuss the state of broadcast news media, we would need buckets for the tears.

But Minister Joly needs to be aware of the words of the late Senator Keith Davey when he decided to do a study of Canada’s news media in the late 1960s (The Uncertain Mirror). Keith’s words were that “No reporter can ignore it when their publishers and station owners are coming here to talk about themselves.”


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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A potpourri of politics.

Tuesday, October 24th, 2017

This writer has sometimes been accused of wandering off topic. Let us make it clear from the beginning that this series of comments is a mixed bag. It just seems to be a topic de jour.

We can start with the interesting observation that Justin Trudeau has certainly done a service for feminism when we find that four of our country’s major allies are sending women to represent them in Canada. They include the new high commissioner from the United Kingdom and the ambassadors from France, Germany and the United States of America.

But maybe the new American ambassador does not count as Kelly Knight Craft is a stand-in for her husband, Joe Craft—a billionaire Kentucky coal magnate who joined his wife in contributing millions to the Republican cause. Trump has already signed the executive order re-opening Craft’s Appalachian coal operations and he is too busy making more millions—and destroying the environment—to enjoy the Ottawa hors d’oeuvres circuit himself.

In a related vein, I note the ongoing arguments about the Muslim dress code which in some Bedouin tribes includes face covering—a very handy item in sand storms. In the ‘Letters’ section of the Toronto Star there was a stock photo copyrighted by the Canadian Press over the more rabid letters. The photo showed a woman wearing a plaid(?) head covering and over part of her face. What was puzzling about the picture and made a farce of the entire discussion was that the woman had heavy eye make-up and plucked eyebrows. This was no Bedouin.

And any devout Muslim, who did not want to attract undue attention—as advised by the Prophet—would not wear such garb in Canada. And if the extremely devout who wish to wear the burka (with just the left eye visible) goes out on Canadian streets, they will need to be accompanied by someone to make sure the person with vision impaired does not get hit by an automobile.

On a completely unrelated vein, there was a television clip last week of the federal finance minister being hectored by reporters. (Not that such pestering is new!) You could see his exasperation when a reporter repeatedly tried to get him to explain the purpose of numbered companies. Rather than taking half a minute to answer the reporter, Morneau got huffy. Morneau does not have a political bone in his body. Trudeau needs to dump him.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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The wounded of the wild, wild west.

Monday, October 23rd, 2017

Got an e-mail from a fellow blogger on Canada’s Left Coast. This guy is a superb writer and progressive but he is feeling less and less friendly these days to Justin Trudeau and the eastern establishment that tries to run this country. He confirms my thoughts that Quebec separatists are less a problem for Canadian unity than the wild, wild west.

He reminds me that I still think of myself as a Liberal despite the abuse the party has heaped on me for too many years. My heart goes out to those British Columbians who Young Trudeau has betrayed. I would go out there and lie down in the path of the bulldozers seeking to expand the Kinder Morgan Trans-mountain pipeline if I thought that would help.

The hypocrisy of Justin in his ongoing dealings with Canadians across the country amazes me. And is he talking with the left or right fork of his tongue in his dealings with Canada’s aboriginal peoples? Nor do you expect to see the Prime Minister of Canada blubbering over the loss of a music icon. He needs to not only suck it up emotionally but he needs to grow some backbone in his dealings with the American President. If he does not know how to deal with a bully and a bull-shitter, he had better learn in a hurry.

But prime ministers come and go. Even Harper “The Hair” finally went back to Alberta. Our correspondent mentioned Jean Chrétien. He notes that Jean never did anything inspiring. I always thought, we kept Jean around the Liberal Party as some sort of mascot. Paul Martin was even less useful. Paul disgraced every liberal-minded person in Canada with how he condemned the 99 per cent to pay for the unreasoned privileges of the one per cent.

For my correspondent, the tipping point was Michael Ignatieff as leader. I knew Michael from when he was a young man about to leave Canada for what turned out to be too many years. I was conflicted as I saw him as that ‘Let’s save the world’ go-getter from many years ago. I was puzzled during a few conversations I had with him as he seemed detached. It was in the debates with Stephen Harper that I realized my mistake.

Both of us saw Justin Trudeau as the guy who could restore the Liberal Party and take us on a progressive path. I arranged a fund-raising dinner for Justin in my riding and we had an interesting chat. I was surprised at his stand on some issues. It was not until after that dinner that I realized this was not Pierre Trudeau’s son and heir. This was Margaret Trudeau’s son.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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Bad business at Bombardier.

Sunday, October 22nd, 2017

You sometimes wonder what kind of business people are running Bombardier. They got sucker punched by Boeing in the United States and they ran crying into the arms of Airbus. This was a desperation move and was too soon. Airbus smelled the fear and they ended up owning the Canadian company’s C Series aircraft business.

Bombardier is a company built on Canadian dreams. It grew with the country. It reflected our complexity. The original company had élan and nerve. It set out to serve its market. It developed the machines that could traverse our winter snows for business and pleasure. There is nothing more Canadian than hockey and the Ski-doo.

Bombardier, based in Montreal, has become am international corporation with more than 60,000 employees and revenues of over $16 billion. Today, it is in the business of building planes, trains and trams.

Mind you, it has hurt its business relationship with constant delays in delivering new street cars to Toronto. With Toronto being the financial capital of Canada, the city is a customer they should be eager to please.

There have also been continuing delays in meeting its schedules with the C Series regional jets. This is a market niche that Bombardier can dominate if it can just meet deadlines.

It also did not help that in answer to the Boeing complaint, the American government slapped a deal-blocking 300 per cent tariff on Bombardier’s sale of C Series planes to Delta Airlines. Despite Boeing having no competitive product for the regional carrier market, the Americans gave Canada the dirty end of the stick.

Boeing would not have wasted its time in this squabble if it not for the current review of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). If the Trump administration can be belligerent bullies and unreasonable, why should Boeing not take part in the same game?

If Canada had proper representation in Washington, we would not be putting up with the crap being fed us by Trump. It is time Canadians stood on their hind legs and said enough is enough. Just because the United States is next door, does not make it the best trading partner. There has to be fair trade before there can be free trade.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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