Archive for January, 2018

Democracy denied.

Saturday, January 6th, 2018

To many people, democracy is too much bother. Can you just imagine how much it annoys Donald Trump? Democracy requires openness and honesty, effort and consideration, rights and freedoms. And democracy continues to grow and evolve and expand. It recognizes the equality of the sexes. It recognizes our shared responsibility for our country, our environment, our peace and good government. It recognizes that the person who pushes a broom has the same rights as the person in the corner office. They have the same opportunities to education, to health care, the same public services, and access to their politicians.

And yet in Canada we proclaim this democracy, our equality, our feminism, fairness, and our rights and then set the royals of another part of the world above us. It is a sham, perpetrated by those afraid of change.

But democracy should be accepting of tearing down the barriers to change.

Should Canada have a handsomely paid and housed Governor General as nothing more than a ceremonial figurehead? Why are we continuing such an archaic and outdated practice? And should we continue to countenance the provincial Lieutenant Governors? Are they not just carry-ons from a long-forgotten colonial past?

Canadians want to remember their country’s past. They want to remember it, honour it but be able to change it. It is like the gated homes of the rich and their footmen guards that are no longer needed in this day and age that we continue in our vertical condominium castles for the very rich.

The news media continue to titillate the impoverished with the vulgar consumption of the very rich and to what ends, we do not fathom? Are we to pull a forelock as they are chauffeured by in their limousines?

The danger of public elitism is ever with us. From the Prime Minister we have his elitist choices for the useless and annoying Senate of Canada. It is an useless appendage to our parliament. And do we have to be told to whom to bow through the elitist Order of Canada? We can have their deeds speak for them not by a selection of the elite.

Democracy ignored is democracy denied. Democracy left to the elites, promotes elitism. Democracy neglected is in support of tyranny. We have choices in this life. We should choose them well.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Tales of the Trump White House.

Friday, January 5th, 2018

The Brits have a saying that no gentleman is a hero to his valet. And in politics, all the apparatchik insiders are a form of valet. The politician has to hire carefully and fire even more carefully. We all have a book in us.

As Donald Trump has none of the instincts of a politician, we can observe that in his run up to the presidency he hired carelessly and fired casually. A case in point is senior strategist Stephen Bannon. The past and again head of Brietbart News, Bannon seems to be the hero in a tell-all book on the Trump Presidency by writer Michael Wolff.

Why Trump gave access to the White House to Wolff, is just another chapter in the incompetence of Donald Trump. Why he allied himself, even briefly, with Bannon, is another story. It seems Bannon still loves Trump but Trump seems to lack the same enthusiasm for his once confidant.

The good news is that all the juicy parts of the book are being broadcast by the news media and it will save us the time and expense of acquiring and reading the book.

Not that there is much new in the book. For a deputy chief of staff to say that dealing with Trump is like dealing with the whims of a child does not surprise us. Trump is childlike in his attention span and his choices.

What is causing the most consternation in the white House are the writer’s allegations against Donald Trump Junior. The claims that Junior was involved in negotiations with the Russians during the presidential campaign is going to have the FBI scurrying around to check out the story. The fact that Wolff claims Bannon fed him this story seems to make it less credible than more.

I particularly liked the excerpts about Melanie Trump. She so obviously hates her husband, it is easy to understand her reluctance to be trapped with him in the White House. The denials by her spokesperson are lame.

Maybe for a few days Trump will tweet vociferously about Bannon and the book but soon they will find him a new toy. If you really want to have a copy of the book, you will probably be able to buy it on the remainders shelf in the next six months. There will be more books about Trump out by then.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Democracy destroyed.

Thursday, January 4th, 2018

The years of Pierre Trudeau’s leadership seem to be backing into the mists of time. It was the strength of a democratic Liberal Party in Canada that back stopped him in those years. He thought of the party at first as similar to the top-down managed situation in Quebec. He almost lost the 1972 election because he considered the party unimportant. He had the grace to acknowledge his error.

Trudeau brought some key party apparatchiks into his office and set out on the rocky road with them that took him into the eighties.

It was in the eighties that the incidence of ethnic swamping of riding associations became a major problem for the political parties. While we had the occasional maverick win in riding nomination contests, we had rarely had the outright public fight by a large ethnic group to take over a riding. We were particularly vulnerable to this in the larger cities across Canada.

The problem was finally straightened out by the combination of parties vetting candidates as suitable to run for the party and the party leader signing off on all candidates for Elections Canada—so they could run under the party banner.

But what happened was that party leaders started putting preferred candidates wherever they wanted and bypassing whatever the party was doing about a proper vetting. The worst offender has been Justin Trudeau—after promising in his campaign for the leadership to never do it. The best examples have been his appointing of key cabinet members Chrystia Freeland and Bill Morneau to key ridings in Toronto.

That in itself was not as serious as his dictating to the Liberal Party on its fund-raising and memberships. As something of an experiment, Trudeau asked that the party forego membership fees from people who wanted to support the party in the coming leadership and election. Since it was already obvious who would win the leadership, nobody raised serious objections. It was also appreciated that this would supply the party with lists of possible workers to help elect Liberal candidates.

It was not until Justin Trudeau asked to abolish membership fees after the election that we realized he was destroying the democracy of the Liberal Party of Canada. The old joke has come true: I am not a member of an organized political party; I am a Liberal.

We will discuss where this is taking us in a later commentary.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Trump’s Terrific Triumph?

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2018

We have been told that U.S. President Donald Trump wants to have another inauguration this month. This time he wants a proper count of all his supporters out in the cold of Washington and a second chance to do things right. This is despite all those writers who have summed Mr. Trump’s first year as a terrific triumph.

Even a writer as sedate as John Ibbitson of the Toronto Globe and Mail thinks President Trump ended 2017 as a winner. He actually believes that Trump has done a fine job of screwing things up. We do get the impression that Mr. Ibbitson is not a Trump fan.

But we are not giving Ibbitson high marks for humour. He seems serious when he says that Trump’s predecessors had built an orderly world since the Second World War and Mr. Trump is busy wrecking it. It might help if Mr. Ibbitson got out of his pajamas, went outside and looked around. If he can find this orderly world that Trump’s predecessors created at such great supposed expense to Americans, good luck to him.

Frankly, the fact that Trump has got this far into his presidency without starting a war is one hell of an accomplishment. If you just ignore his nocturnal twits, you might even think the guy is more peace loving than both of the Bushs—father and son.

And for Ibbitson to suggest that Trump has pushed America’s allies into spending more on defence has it backwards. They are under the impression that they need to improve their defenses against the U.S.A. With someone as erratic as Donald Trump, there is no telling what he might do as Commander-in-Chief.

The Globe and Mail writer seems to miss that point that what Trump does not understand, he does not like. Take the economics of trade. Trump called off American participation in the Trans-Pacific Pact without bothering to ask the experts. And he has no concept of the US$17 trillion in trade flowing between the three North American countries. All three countries benefit. Trump does not understand that the American economy will be hit the hardest if he cancels NAFTA.

What Trump really wants is longer holidays. He goes up and down the east coast staying at one or the other of his golf resorts. He actually gets the American people to pay out millions to his companies so that he can recuperate from the ardors of being President. He might be the only U.S. President that profits on the taxpayers’ generosity—and gullibility.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Defending Democracy.

Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018

You would think in all the many years of human social development that democracy should have gained support and growing wide-spread usage around the world. We certainly agree that it is not perfect but we do agree that it is better than any alternatives. Yet tell it to the Russians and they want the oligarchy of Putin. Tell it to the Turks and they will support the autocracy of Erdogan. Tell it to the Iranians and you will find that not all support the theocracy of the Ayatollahs.

Think of the military juntas around the world that have usurped power from their citizens. Burma (Myanmar) is run by butchers. Countries such as the Philippines and Venezuela are on the slippery slope. China’s oligarchy will countenance no change. North Korea is a junta fronted by a farce of a dictator. And the supposed heart of democracy, the United States of America is led today by a would-be tyrant.

And why is this? Why has democracy fallen into disrepair? And how do we shore up our democracy? No doubt the political science people can bring out tables and statistics to explain. All I can do is reflect on the attitudes of voters across many years of observation at all levels of government.

After the Second World War, Canada saw rapid growth in jobs, incomes and newcomers. There was an excitement then to politics and at all levels there was an expectation by the new and younger people seeking to bring their ideas and energy to the political scene. In Ontario, in particular, there was a surge of fresh thinking and younger people getting involved at the riding and regional level. In the Liberal Party, there was a new energy and a new era was introduced.

The Diefenbaker years in Ottawa had underlined the need for change and the Liberals got ahead of the curve. While Prime Minister Lester Pearson was highly regarded by his party, he represented the old guard. Yet Pearson accepted the changes recommended by the envigored new guard. As a highly skilled diplomat, Pearson recognized that the party could do even more with new thinking in Ottawa. To this end he went around the Liberal establishment in Quebec and brought in new thinkers such as Pierre Trudeau, Jean Marchand and Gerard Pelletier. It was Pierre Trudeau who allied himself with the  Liberal thinkers in Toronto and changed Canada forever.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

A potpourri of New Year wishes.

Monday, January 1st, 2018

This writer’s New Year’s resolution is, as always, to never make a resolution. Each year is another adventure. It is an opportunity to discover and to learn. We have a mixed bag of comments to share today as we start our tenth year of this commentary.

The ten years means both good and bad. Trying to write something pithy and interesting to our broad audience on a daily basis is both challenging and, at times, daunting. The wife notes that we are still playing with words that not all readers might understand and she refuses to read anything further about “bitumen” from the tar sands.

We also make mistakes—and do we hear about it? Ouch. I even got a complaint from an NDP reader the other day who thought I should have explained the sham of the counting in the Conservative leadership contest that chose ‘Chuckles’ Scheer. Sure, it was a con to maximize the exposure time on the television networks. Anyone who knew anything about computers would realize that. So, please argue with the CBC, not with me.

Somehow, in writing about the foolishness of the federal Conservative leadership, I was also accused of not understanding ranked balloting. I do understand ranked balloting and have written lengthy diatribes about it. I consider the results of ranked balloting as guaranteed mediocrity. And to prove the point, I give you ‘Chuckles’ Scheer.

I thought the much more annoying con job by the Conservatives was that phony guaranteed policy fakery of the Ontario Conservatives. That sham was so cynical that an eight-year old would recognize it as desperation.

But in honour of the Roman God Janus, this is a day to look both forward and back. Looking ahead, I am appalled that our friends in British Columbia are going to be presented with yet another attempt to change how they vote. And to hold a plebiscite by mail is rife with opportunities for a corrupted vote.

John Horgan’s NDP government should be ashamed of themselves for pandering to the desperation of the Green Party for more representation in the legislature. Are they so ashamed of their Green Party candidates that they only want them picked from a list? Personally, I only vote for people who want to represent my neighbours and I—not just vote for their party.

But I forget. To one and all, have a wonderful 2018!

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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