Archive for May, 2018

Conrad loves Donald.

Thursday, May 31st, 2018

It is hard to think of two people more deserving of their mutual admiration. Both Conrad Black and Donald Trump think the American President is a wonderful guy. And Lord Cross-the-Pond Black has written another coffee table tome to hopefully prove it.

As book number 47 (or so) by friends and foes of the Trump legend, this one will have to be considered friendly. You should find it in the fiction section, rather than biographies. It will be remaindered soon. The only question with Conrad Black is whether he has the hots for Melania Trump or would he just like to cuckhold his friend Donald. And would Donald care?

What gives us the best laugh is Conrad’s opening question: he implies that Donald Trump epitomizes America. That is the cruelest, deepest insult to America I have ever read. Like most good insults, it borders on the truth. Trump’s vulgar braggadocio can hardly be denied. Yet Trump has never understood his connection with the Eisenhower highways to America. It is the hoi polloi of the red states that restore him.

But when Conrad suggests that Trump shows a common touch, you should try not to choke on your mint julep. Conrad would not know a common touch, even if it grabbed his ass.

And you should not be fooled by Conrad waving his prisoner number. His sojourn in an American prison was not among the common drug dealers and rapists but among the elite in what Americans call ‘Club Fed.’ These are casual lock-ups for accountants who get greedy. It was a prison such as that where Al Capone was incarcerated and still able to run his criminal empire.

Conrad’s greatest hypocrisy is in regards to Donald’s treatment of the news media. The claim that the media are ‘flaccid’ is no thanks to Conrad’s career in helping destroy the qualities of journalism, dictated by the North American model. By turning the previously locally owned media into centrally printed copies of major city values, Conrad helped destroy trusted communications in rural America. Good communications is based on understanding your audience.

As Lord Cross-the-pond enjoys his retirement here in Canada as a visitor in Toronto’s palatial Post Road enclave, he continues to show that he can still put a few words together in a literate style. What his opinion is worth, is another question.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

The political pivot point of 2018.

Wednesday, May 30th, 2018

In every election there is a point of pivot that decides the outcome. It has been fascinating listening to people across Ontario in the current campaign, learning of their concerns and frustrations. And they are concerned and conflicted and caring. They have been looking for solutions. Sometimes the solution can be forced on you by an outside source.

The pivot point came Tuesday, May 29. It took the high ground away from the Ontario liberals. It left the party of Wilfrid Laurier in limbo. It was the hypocrisy of the federal liberals that betrayed everything done for the environment by the provincial liberals that did the deed.

It was never easy for Ontario to end the use of coal to generate emergency electricity needs. And do not mention gas plants. It has not been easy for Ontario to promote hybrid autos. The province has had constant criticism of its efforts at cap and trade as an alternative to carbon taxes. The government has been vilified for its efforts to promote clean energy.

And what was the point of creating a greenbelt to protect our environment, our sources of potable water, our recreational areas and our farm lands? Our farmers seem to be unappreciative of the protection. Builders and politicians try to betray us.

We have Doug Ford to fight carbon taxes for the uncaring. Money beats caring about the environment with his rich friends. His voters hardly care about his loudmouth promises of magic money to cut taxes and give away the treasury. Doug Ford is a fool and he will be the fools’ folly.

And to suggest that the new democrats offer more than the liberals is an experiment that led to the disaster of Rae Days and then Harris’ hype.

So, who is the bad guy? Who let the dogs out?

Only our poster boy prime minister, Justin Trudeau, could leave us tumbling down the into the depths. He has forgotten his promises when a newby in Paris. He has forgotten it was once 2015. He no longer cares about the promises of Canada’s environment.

Trudeau and his neoliberal government of misfits have betrayed us all.

Nobody would care if it was just crude oil his pipeline would send to Burrard Inlet. Does he even know of the danger his pipeline threatens the environment? He wants to pipe diluted bitumen under pressure over the Rockies and on ocean-going tankers in the Straits of Georgia. He hardly cares that bitumen is a substance that just keeps on polluting.

Justin Trudeau has certainly polluted the Ontario election.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Yes, but did the fat lady sing?

Tuesday, May 29th, 2018

Listening to and reading analyses of the Sunday night political leaders’ debate in Toronto, you wonder if they were at the same debate. Frankly, the analyses were better than the debate. Kathleen Wynne did less than expected. Andrea Horwath was rude and foolish. Doug Ford made you wonder if they had a cardiologist on stand-by.

Collectively, they were less than coherent, unhelpful and were looking like they were trying to remember what their handlers had told them to do.

Doug Ford’s opening statement was a stream of B.S. that was off the wall and you would have to be an idiot to believe any of it. And not even a moderator is allowed to tell a Ford what to do.

Kathleen Wynne’s opening ‘mia culpa’ was insincere and forced. It was too little and too late and pointless.

And whomever dressed Andrea Horwath for the occasion should have added a stethoscope necklace to the costume. You can dress that woman but where would you want to take her? Can you really think of this person as premier?

I have never seen a debate such as this where you cannot imagine even the incumbent looking like a winner. They were all bad.

And what right has Ford to be arrogant? And that was the least of his problems. If he had called the audience “My friends” one more time, I was ready to throw something at the television.

And why was Andrea Horwath so shrill and rude? She talked over everybody else and at times you thought she would never shut up.

As a wrap to a pollsters’ campaign, it was a dud. Ask yourself this: Did the pollsters ever tell you how many people said they were undecided in their various polls? Did they tell you their formulae for balancing the demographics for the parts of the population their polls failed to reach? Did they tell you who answers the telephone in households they are able to reach with interactive voice response (IVR) calling?

Polling is an inexact science. They are supposed to tell you the computed margin of error but I would challenge the interactive voice response people. They call thousands of households and they say their margin of error is as good as the Internet groups and live calling. Are they all equally bad?

The exchanges between the leaders became tedious and I was never sure if Andrea Horwath can sing. I might never find out.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Considering consequences of change.

Monday, May 28th, 2018

Step right up Ontario. If you want change, you can have it. You can get it in spades. The only problem is this change is like a game of snakes and ladders—where both the snakes and the ladders are slippery slides to disaster.

It is time to face the facts. People are mad. And they have every right to be mad. How are Ontario’s citizens supposed to feel when they have been wanting change for the past eight years and we still cannot get it. People are feeling frustrated and their anger is real.

It started with the 2011 general election and a quick reading of the voting that year tells the story. The voters obviously wanted change. What we got was the manipulations of a minority government, a new premier and a chance to have change in 2014.

But the chance for change in 2014 was blocked by a foolish conservative leader promising to fire 100,000 civil servants. To make matters worse, the NDP leader did not appear to know what she was doing. The voters had no option but to give the new liberal leader the reins.

Like in the old Frank Sinatra song: Regrets, we’ve had a few. The news media beat us over the head with the gas plants scandal. It is useless to tell people that all three parties caused the problem. It was easier to just blame the liberals. They were supposed to be good managers.

And when an apolitical banker got the liberals to start selling off Hydro One, the excrement really hit the fan. The liberal government could hardly say, “Oh, you would rather we raise taxes instead?”

If you just stub your toe these days, it is the fault of those damn liberals.

But we are reaping the anger that was sewed by all three parties.

Now we are closer to election day, people are trying to figure out strategic voting. What they will find, to their disgust, is that strategic voting does not work. Feel sorry instead for the two or three per cent of Ontario voters who want to vote for the Green Party. That is a waste of time and effort.

While you can hardly plan for it, if everyone stays the course, we could have a minority government.

The one thing we know for sure is that the pollsters are wrong. They have been reflecting the anger of the voters and think it is only directed against the liberals. Like in the United States, it was the anger against both Democrats and Republicans that gave them Mr. Trump as president.

Ontario voters should be smarter than that.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Confounding a confluence of conservatives.

Sunday, May 27th, 2018

It is all happening Monday at Toronto’s stuffy old Albany Club. As I told my host last time I was invited to the club, this is no place for a left-wing liberal. The 125-year old building on King Street East has been the spiritual home for Canada’s conservatives since the 19th Century. It is truly the perfect place for right-wing plotting and scheming.

The rich and famous of conservatism will be there Monday to hear from the ghost of prime minister’s past, the Right Honourable Stephen Harper. Yes, and you thought he had gone to his reward in corporate board room heavens. He has come down from his corporate inner sanctums and business conclaves to preach to the Ontario conservatives with a spare $1,222 in their pocket to support Mike Harris’ kid. The junior Harris, is trying to win the Kitchener-Conestoga electoral district, where he was appointed to run by leader Doug Ford.

Maybe nobody in the Kitchener area wants to or can afford to support the junior Mike Harris. Besides, when you have a drawing card like the former prime minister, would you waste him in the hinterlands?

It is assumed that this is all new money being raised, as $1,222 is the maximum you are allowed to donate to a provincial campaign.

But what will the former prime minister have to say that would be worth that much? We can bet you that it will be nothing nice about the liberals in Ottawa or in Queen’s Park.

The good news for the loyal attendees is that neither leader Doug Ford nor the candidate is allowed to be there for the fund-raiser. Ford has already been told that he is under investigation about being at another fund-raiser. Under the new election laws in Ontario, neither a candidate nor his/her leader is allowed to be there when people are giving them money. If that seems strange to you, raise your hand—which did not do me any good and will probably not do you any good either.

Of course, this liberal would dearly love to be there to hear Stephen Harper say nice things about Doug Ford. Admittedly, Stephen Harper is somewhat self-centered and has a tendency to only talk about himself. I am quite sure that is not worth $1,222.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

A vote to assure Quebec’s future?

Saturday, May 26th, 2018

Sometimes you have to shake your head, throw up your hands and admit nobody understands Quebec politics. The latest confusion is the promise of four political parties in the province to ditch first-past-the-post voting. They are promising that if one of those parties is elected to power later this year, the party will implement mixed-member proportional voting for Quebec.

What is so confusing about this idea is the fact that historically, this form of voting could only help the liberals in Quebec. The liberals in Quebec are traditionally under-represented in the National Assembly. This is because of the traditional liberal voting support in the Montreal Island area Proportional representation would help to increase their number of seats.

And, at the same time, the change would tend to make majority government a rare event. Yet it was the leaders of the Coalition Avenir Quebec, Parti-Quebecois, Quebec Solidaire and the Green Party of Quebec who brought their proposal to the news media at the national legislature.

Mixed member proportional is not full proportional voting. It is, as mixed member implies, a partially first-past-the-post election and a partially proportional system. It was this type of voting that was proposed in Ontario in that province’s 2007 referendum. In that case there would have been 90 MLAs elected in large electoral districts and 30 appointed afterwards by their political parties according to a complicated formula. The idea was that with this system the numbers of voting members of the legislature would more closely reflect the popular vote.

Proportional voting is designed for countries where large numbers of the voters are illiterate and have to vote for party symbols as opposed to names. It is also why proportional voting is the most used system.

The most serious objection to proportional voting is that when people are appointed to represent a party, they represent their party rather than the voters. More recently the federal liberals tried to do away with first-past-the-post voting and no suitable replacement was agreed to by the all-party committee of the House of Commons. The federal liberals gave up.

And that is what seems to happen. British Columbia has had two tries at referendums to replace first-past-the-post voting and has failed both times. The current Green Party backed NDP government in B.C. wants to take another try but all-party agreement of the legislature seems most unlikely.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Looking south; looking askance.

Friday, May 25th, 2018

While cheerfully ignoring the Trump presidency as much as possible these days, I am sure most of my readers do not mind. I find that he can be boring. He is as awful and as dangerous to world peace as ever but it feels good to ignore the bastard for at least a while.

But you cannot ignore America’s Congress. The situation there is going from worse to bad. I got a wonderful dissertation on neoliberalism the other day from one of our favourite readers on the left coast. My vote is to give him his doctorate for that alone. He even invoked my favourite speech by Theodore Roosevelt. I thought it was long forgotten.

I also seem to have forgotten that the best example of neoliberalism is the American congress. It would do wonders for democracy in the United States of America if the anger about the lack of gun control could be used to  rid America of lots of those bought-and-paid-for senators and representatives in November. Only in America could the Vice President be a bought-and-paid-for representative of those foul Koch brothers of New York.

And only in America can the corrupt of industry and the National Rifle Association fund the re-election of their Quislings. It hardly makes you wonder if it was the system itself that lead to the election of Donald Trump?

But we still seem to be in the dark about the involvement of the Russians in electing Trump. Hell, the Russians do not understand democracy. How can they be the people to defeat it?

The only good thing about it is that Trump is so busy fighting with the American Department of Justice, he is forgetting to screw up the negotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement. Every once in a while, he stops to take a poke at the Chinese but they are learning how to handle him. They are playing at being inscrutable.

I was watching TV news of the supposed leader of the free world and his son-in-law in Jerusalem the other day and all I could see was that damn fool Netanyahu grinning like the cat that swallowed the canary. If someone smarter does not get between Benny and the Iranians, there is going to be another bloody holy war in the Middle East.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Hoist a quaff to the Queen’s birthday.

Thursday, May 24th, 2018

After ignoring the royal wedding the other day in the United Kingdom, we should give proper homage to dear Queen Victoria. As you might know, it is her birthday today and many are celebrating the occasion. Frankly I am amazed by the numbers of people from all over the world who turn each May to the archives of Babel-on-the-Bay to reread my 2013 tribute to Queen Victoria. I am in no way a monarchist.

And I hardly believe many of us Canadians are monarchists. Sure, there was a spate of gawkers on the weekend because of the wedding of Prince Harry and his actress bride. They suit each other. I hope it lasts. And it certainly was a beautiful spring day for the wedding over in old blighty.

The wedding was pageantry in the excess. The commentary was also an excess of treacle. The wife threatened me every time I offered to turn it off for her. She thought it was lovely. With the wedding running on Greenwich Mean Time, I had recorded it for her but then she also found the Canadian networks were rerunning it at a civilized hour. I think she watched it twice.

Of course, I love pageantry as much as the next bloke. The Brit royals certainly do pageantry well. They also get lots of practice. I thought they did the Diana funeral in ’97 with wonderful pomp. The Brits do a great stiff-upper-lip event but the undercurrents of why can be very interesting.

Even the foolishness of Brexit needs ceremony. I do not suppose that the Queen will fire the first shot across the Channel to make it official but I expect life will go on in Great Britain. The royals will continue to be an asset for tourism and the economy will struggle for a while. It is hard to be sympathetic after such foolishness—after all, it was based on bigotry.

I still cannot figure out what they are going to do about Charles once the Queen passes. At 93, Elizabeth II has set a record as the longest serving monarch but she threatened the Commonwealth leaders recently informing them quite defiantly that Charles would succeed her. Most would have preferred that the succession skip a generation but no such luck.

But you have to admit that having a thriving monarchy in the 21st century is truly a quaint idea. I have met some of the European royals and frankly none of them hold a candle to the British royals. So, hoist your glass high again in a toast: Long live the Queen!

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Where’s Justin?

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2018

Oh, we know where on this earth Prime Minister Trudeau might be located. We just wonder where his mind might be at? This country is going downhill morally and politically and our leader was recently down in New York giving a trite commencement address to graduates at New York University. He then headed to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston where he took part in a Solve Conference to address world problems.

We can hardly be caring about our prime minister being a feminist, in touch with the LGBTW communities, and a world-wide poster boy, when he should be here pulling this country in sensible directions. He has a mess of his own making now in B.C. and Alberta and his finance minister has just locked him into a catch-22 situation indemnifying a foreign-owned pipeline company against the legitimate right of Canadians to protest.

And what good is all his simpering diplomacy with Donald Trump when he has a Trump-wannabe trying to take over as premier in his backyard of Ontario? Is he afraid of Doug Ford? We remember how Premier Wynne helped Trudeau in the 2015 election. Is the PM just a fair-weather friend?

It also would not hurt if our prime minister learned a little more about the House of Commons. While Trudeau is busy out posing for selfies, the tory opposition is eating his lunch in parliament.

And if he knew a damn thing about the politics of the Middle East he would help not confuse matters by whining about one Canadian being shot in the midst of a blood bath. He should ask Israeli leader Netanyahu, “We all know President Trump’s an idiot to start this. What the hell is your excuse?”

And speaking of Trump, why are we sending our foreign affairs minister on these NAFTA pilgrimages? Does she not have anything more important to do? As long as Trump does nothing precipitous, we still have a working North American Free Trade Agreement. We have shown we are quite willing to negotiate but surely we have people smart enough to take notes working at the Washington and Mexico City embassies. Politicians are the ones who do the signing and take the credit or the blame as required.

And judging from the foreign minister’s reports from the front lines of the NAFTA negotiations, she does nothing to clarify the situation. She seems to be getting nowhere.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

The pollsters have peaked.

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018

“O, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive.”

Obviously, Sir Walter Scott had a better take on pollsters 200 years ago than we do today. Ontario voters have been bamboozled by the pollsters since the beginning of the current provincial campaign. As much as the thought of a Doug Ford led government amuses them, the pollsters have now said Andrea Horwath is also in contention. That thought did it. It is time for the grown ups to step forward.

It is not that Andrea and her new democrats have failed mathematics. Another billion or so in debt is not going to make or break the province and everybody makes mistakes in math. It is just that the new democrats are bringing nothing new to the table. There is less talent in the NDP caucus at Queen’s Park today than Bob Rae had with him when he accidently became premier in 1990. All the NDP proved at that time was that they would turn the government over to the incompetent Mike Harris.

But for a real incompetent, Doug Ford, would be hard to beat.

The smartest thing Doug Ford could do would be struck by some mysterious disease and not show up for the final leadership debate next week. More and more of his candidates have been struck by that mysterious disease and not shown up for debates in their electoral districts. It reminds me of the Quebec NDPer who went to Las Vegas for the 2011 federal election and won election.

I can think of more than a few candidates over the years who would have got more votes if they had gone fishing instead of wandering aimlessly where the voters could see them.

And as for Andrea Horwath, I thought we were done with her. People seem to think it is mean of me to mention her dress, deportment or demeanour. The problem is that she dresses like a refugee from a Russian gulag. She is not leading that bunch of no-goodniks in the NDP caucus anywhere and I defy you to tell me anything she has ever come up with on her own? Did you see her giggling her way through that first debate?

The problem we have is that Horwath is horrible, Ford is a fool and Wynne is supposedly the wicked witch of the north. What is likeable about any of them?

But I am going to vote for the liberal candidate in Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte because he seems like a decent guy and is the only acceptable candidate who could represent us. All the other candidates seem to only represent their parties.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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