Archive for August, 2018

The troubled trials of Trudeau and Trump.

Tuesday, August 21st, 2018

It’s embarrassing. Our prime minister cannot handle Donald Trump. We might as well admit it. It is doing less and less good to keep hoping Justin Trudeau will grow into the job. He does not have the gonads of his father. He lacks the wit and gumption to put the American president in his place.

And he is hardly solving the problem with our half-pint foreign affairs minister. Her problems with the Saudis are a perfect example of our failed foreign affairs situation. If Trudeau had the American president under control, do you think the Saudis would have the nerve to complain about her?

If Trudeau could manage Trump do you think we would be undergoing all this crap about the North American Free Trade Agreement? Do you think Mexico would dare negotiate separately—not having Canada at the table—if Trudeau was managing the file properly? Donald Trump is going around saying Canada has some unfair advantage. That is nothing but horse manure and we are letting him get away with it.

Canada has all its foreign affairs resources going around telling American underlings that President Trump might be incorrect. What needs to happen is that some one has to take Donald Trump to the woodshed. It is like the way President Johnson addressed Prime Minister Pearson about his speech at Temple University in 1965. Better that a friend shouts at you, instead of someone who really dislikes you.

The problem is that Canada’s relations with the United States of America are at their lowest point in over 150 years. And this is not what the saner members of either congregation want. And president Trump has been the cause. He has to clean up his act.

And what is really annoying about this situation is that the Conservatives and the NDP are all encouraging the PM to be a wus! Why? Do they also lack the intestinal fortitude?

What nobody seems to understand north of the U.S. border is that Trump is laughing at us. This guy negotiates by telling lies. He bluffs his way through life. If nobody calls his bluffs, he wins.

Some people think Trump is a bully. That is true.

But inside every bully is a coward. Donald Trump is a coward. He needs to be treated accordingly. And Trudeau better get off the dime or we will get somebody else to do it.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

“The shape of things to come”

Monday, August 20th, 2018

Writer H.G. Wells would be astounded by the possible changes in the Canadian political landscape over the coming year. Events commencing this year will culminate in the federal election planned for 2019. And it is each piece of the puzzle as it unfolds that foretells the future.

This year, we have already had the shock of the unexpected. On New Year’s Day nobody would have predicted the ascension of Doug Ford as premier of Canada’s largest province. Nor did we expect the whimsical nature of some of the Ford government’s immediate actions. Ontario has opted for the unpredictable.

Quebec and Alberta are the next major concerns. Premier Couillard’s liberals in Quebec seem to suffering the same regime exhaustion as the Wynne liberals in Ontario. Will he also surrender before the campaign has even run its course? His dictatorial decisions on candidates are already a puzzle. It is a constant amazement that liberal organizations so reliant on democracy for their existence, fail to practice it.

I never thought I would be rooting for a New Democrat but what can you do when the alternative in Alberta is a sleaze such as Jason Kenney and his united right? Mind you if they can ever find someone in Alberta who can convince Albertans to leave that awful tar sands stuff in the ground, I am for that person.

But that is unlikely. The person who is causing the most problems about the tar sands is pipeline king Justin Trudeau. Who would predict that the prime minister would buy the old and decrepit Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline. Now he wants to spend far more billions of taxpayers’ money twinning and upgrading the line so that it can pump almost four times the diluted bitumen to Burrard Inlet on the B.C. coast.

And that will be the key election in 2019. It will have ‘Chuckles’ Scheer of the conservatives (who is pro-pipeline) and liberal leader Justin Trudeau (also pro-pipeline) challenged by Jagmeet Singh of the NDP (who is anti-pipeline when he is not in Alberta).

Liberals across Canada are faced with the hypocrisy of their leader. He started in 2015 as the poster boy for saving the environment. Now he wants to send the tar sands gunk to countries around the world so that they can help pollute our world environment.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Doing it the old-fashioned way.

Sunday, August 19th, 2018

We better face facts folks! Dougie and his denizens have four years to tear into the fabric of Ontario. Do you really think you will still recognize your province by the time you have a chance to get rid of them?

Today, we have been looking at the cannabis market. It has been my intent to ignore this subject as much as possible. Recreational drugs are not my thing.

But it looks like Dougie has dumped a can of worms in his lap. To be fair though, it appears that the previous liberal government had already doomed the government cannabis stores to failure. The idea of opening a few legal bricks and mortar outlets this fall was going to do nothing more than give a shot in the arm to the illegal market. Users were laughing. Why should they go in search of those few legal stores when their local pusher is just down the block? They are happy with the old-fashioned way of doing business.

And what I am hearing is that your local back-street guy can easily undercut the legal pricing. Take away the greed of the growers, the federal, provincial and municipal rake-offs, as well as the store overheads and it is obvious the street guy can sell for less. Nobody cares that much about the purity of the product as long as it makes the user happy. Maybe the back-street pedlar might have a few court costs but he knows his local cops and they have more important things to do than keep hassling small-time dealers.

The more serious problem is the municipality that denies the legal sales of pot in their community. These municipalities are just protecting the illegal market. The police can hardly start arresting people for having their personal stash and who is to say where it came from.

Dougie and the gang came in late to this party. Playing catch-up will be tough. They can do very little about the mail order business that is expected to launch in October of this year.

But the fun will start by next April as Dougie’s people get their private sector purveyors licensed and up and running. There will be some interesting stories to tell when the private sector purveyors take on the street sellers. That could be a rough and tumble period as things get sorted out.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

It should not all be about Trump.

Saturday, August 18th, 2018

The other day newspapers in North America and around the world joined in a paean for a free press. It needs to be said that where it failed was that so much of that valuable space was given so freely to U.S. president Donald Trump and that ilk. It was no palliative.

It failed when it gave much of the space to those who would destroy the free press that we do have.  It failed when it whined about detractors, their harsh words and scorn for their failures. It was not just the mote in their eye but their desperate search for new readers and subscribers. We could not read them all but we were concerned that, in those we did read, there did not seem to be much said about professionalism.

Press professionalism is something of a ghost. We talk about it but do not see it as often as we would want. Professionalism is a trust. It is the trust that the facts have been checked and double checked. It is the trust in a second opinion—call it editing—has seen the piece and declared it trustworthy.

And it takes experience. We are not all wonder kinder still fresh from journalism school. We have to learn to ask the right questions and not be afraid to ask them. We have to write the truth as we see it.

There must be some kind of a graduating ceremony in certain newsrooms. It is when a reporter stops writing news and switches to opinions. There really should be stiffer exams for that.

(I am obviously not talking about my efforts—here, you get what you pay for!)

Professionalism is something you get paid for. You go from trainee, to journey person, to professional. And a few get to master it.

You, as a reader, also have a responsibility. What is the point if you always agree with the media you are reading? How does that stimulate your thinking? What could be the point? If you never challenge the editors of your local newspapers, what does that say about you? When you are giving of your interest, you have a right to demand professionalism.

And us curmudgeons who complain from the sidelines are here in hopes we can also keep the newcomers honest. If we have an opinion you can appreciate; you will read us. If we do not; you will not. It is that simple. Readership is a barometer of whether any writing is of interest. The more you read, the larger, more interesting is your world.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Of foolish people who shun the past.

Friday, August 17th, 2018

There is far too much of this rewriting of history going on today. Why should anyone be concerned that Canada’s first prime minister was a drunk? Or was it his attitude towards our aboriginal people—that he shared with many others of the time? Why are some silly people now trying to hide him?

And do you really think that calling our aboriginal peoples “indigenous” will make them “from here?” So, their ancestors came to North America a thousand years or so before any Europeans? So, what? The land is plenty for us all to share.

But we keep hearing of people who insist on removing statues and rewriting history. They are the ones who need to get a life.

There is a picture of Sir John on my den wall as I write. He gives me inspiration. For Canada of 150 years ago, John A. was a progressive guy. He saw this country with ties of steel rails stretching from sea to sea. He saw Canada’s potential for greatness—and he (quite) frequently raised a glass of whisky to wish it well.

There is another picture on my wall of a distant relation—Oliver Mowat. Cousin Oliver was premier of Ontario in 1893 when the picture appeared on the front page of the Saturday Globe. The headline story was about Ontario’s Grand Old Man. He served a total of 24 years as premier of the province before serving in the federal cabinet of Sir Wilfrid Laurier.

History tells us that cousin Oliver was the biggest problem in Sir John A.’s path back in the beginnings of Canada. He fought for provincial rights in defining federal and provincial rights. He is the cause of still today, our federal and provincial politicians taking their arguments to the supreme court.

Environment minister Catherine McKenna recently asked the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada to come up with an easy answer to people who want to remove statues and other recognition of people who at one time contributed to Canada. It does seem odd that a politician needs to ask an antiquities board how to handle small-minded people?

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Dougie’s dummies don’t do doubts.

Thursday, August 16th, 2018

This summer session of the Ontario legislature showed that Dougie and the dummies do not do deep thinking. It is not their style. As the government of Ontario, we can expect scatterbrained legislation, shallow thinking, ignorance and precipitous actions. And that will be on the good days.

After all, he told us that this government is for the people. Now if you can just figure out who the hell those people might be, you will have a leg up on the rest of us.

Dougie is an old-fashioned salesman. He is all bluster. He has no idea what anything should cost. Lucky for the gang back at Deco Labels, he is too busy being premier to help them run the company. They could not be happier,

But he knows what he does not like as well. He does not believe that gun controls work. He does not believe in global warming. He does not believe a carbon tax can do any good. He does not believe that kids should know anything about sex. He thinks a test of guaranteed income is worthless.

Dougie told us he was going to save us money by trimming the fat at Queen’s park. He started by trimming the fatuous at Toronto city hall.

And yet, Dougie does know city hall. He spent four years there trying to help his brother who spent his time drunk and smoking crack. Dougie tried to get the mayoral job when his brother died but a fellow conservative beat him.

He was going to take another run at Toronto city hall this year but the job of premier opened up and he thought that might be more fun. And he can run Toronto from Queen’s park even easier than from city hall.

I liked his thinking—or whatever he does instead of thinking—on this one. He knows how long city hall meetings can go on when you have more than 40 people arguing the issues. He decided that arguments would not take as long if you had less people arguing. All he did was cut the number of councillors in half. It might have saved a bit on salaries but he probably saved far more in air conditioning costs with the reduction of the hot air in the building.

But that is about as deep as Dougie can get. He does not seem interested in dialogue or musings. He certainly has no doubts about himself. He does not care about the doubts of others either. There are lots of people wondering if when Dougie takes a break, can we get a break at the same time?

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Musing on Maxime’s Maxims.

Wednesday, August 15th, 2018

Maxime Bernier MP does not endear himself. It is not so much his conservatism as his libertarianism. I have met some pretty far right Quebec politicians before but Bernier likes to use his ideas for shock and awe. It gets him lots of media coverage—not all good.

Bernier rides the razor’s edge of racism. He is definitely tribal but he sees no future in being tied to the Parti Québécois. The left-wing péquistes have little appeal. Even the conservative comers in the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) are not far enough to the right for him. He has national ambitions anyway.

If it were not for the foolish system of voting in that last federal conservative party race, he might be leader of the conservative party of Canada today. Instead the system drilled the party down to mediocrity in multiple ballots and they got ‘Chuckles’ Scheer of Saskatchewan instead.

It is that mediocrity in leadership that has saved Bernier from being bounced from the party. Instead of sending the loudmouth to Coventry, Scheer just freed him to spread discontent among the party. Just one more wrong step for Scheer at a time when Justin Trudeau is becoming more vulnerable.

Bernier’s latest faux pas is to accuse prime minister Trudeau of “radical multiculturalism”—whatever the hell that is? It seems Bernier is concerned that the PM is encouraging a lot of smaller tribes instead of the more traditional English-French tribes. Since Bernier and Trudeau are on equal footing with the English-French tribes, it looks like Bernier does not want anyone else in the running.

Bernier complained the other day about these “little tribes” created by Trudeau are causing division. He seems to see them as failing to accept North American values. He complains that they do not immediately appreciate our freedoms and are less eager to accept our openness and tolerance.

I do not know where Bernier grew up but I grew up in Toronto and I watched many of my friends’ immigrant parents struggle with what some saw as the licentious nature of our society. It was tough for them and all we could do for them was to be understanding and recognize why they felt as they did.

To-day, we look at the second and third generation of those families and we see the value that they brought to this country. We are long past Maxime Bernier’s English-French divide. He needs to look around.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

The Copenhagen Syndrome.

Tuesday, August 14th, 2018

You have probably heard of the Stockholm Syndrome. The Copenhagen Syndrome is only different in that it is for people to learn to love bicycles–instead of the people keeping them captive. The Copenhagen Syndrome is prevalent in Toronto these days because nobody seems to understand the difference in climate and topography between the two cities.

Toronto is a winter city. I will never forget the winter of 1944 when we got more than a metre of snow in one dump and it took us two months to clear all our streets. You certainly could not have gone far with a bicycle back then. Yet, people insist that Torontonians should ride bicycles just like those in the Danish capital.

Copenhagen is a fun city. If you have never been there, I can assure you Copenhagen is beautiful city with a climate tempered by being by the straits connecting the Baltic Sea and the North Sea. It has a very busy year-round harbour. Many people ride bicycles around the city of over half a million because it is a mainly flat island with few hills to challenge the cyclists.

Yes, Copenhagen gets some snow each winter but nothing that stays very long. There is nowhere near as much snow and ice as Toronto. Rainfall is another matter but Danes seem very stoic about getting wet. I always enjoyed my visits to the city, yet never had time to ride a bicycle while there.

But Toronto has more obstacles to pleasant biking than just rotten weather. From the level of Lake Ontario to the highest point of land in Toronto is the equivalent of trying to ride a bicycle to the top of a 40-storey building. No matter how many ramps you used, that is a tough trip. (By the way, the highest point in the city is at York University on Keele Street. It is all downhill from there.)

But in a city four times the size of Copenhagen, with all Toronto’s hills and valleys, it is mainly children who ride bicycles on their neighbourhood streets. We never did develop a culture of bicycles, cars and trucks sharing the main roads.

And Torontonians are not doing well at it today. If you want to protect cyclists from getting ‘doored’ or run over, you need to get them off the busy downtown streets. We get all types of lost tourists driving in that area and they have no understanding why cyclists have any rights to the roads.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

CAPP: Canadian Association for Petroleum Propaganda.

Monday, August 13th, 2018

Donald Trump could take lessons from the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP). These people have been feeding propaganda to Canadians for years. And they are getting better at their job. They work for the companies exploiting Canada’s tar sands.

It is rumoured that they get together for a prayer meeting every workday morning. Their favourite prayer is supposed to be something like, “Dear Lord please bring Alberta just one more oil boom. We promise not to piss the profits away this time, like we did with the other oil booms.”

But their problem is that this boom is in tar sands. It is not oil. As much as they always call it oil, it is a long way from becoming oil. This stuff should be left in the ground. It pollutes. Big time. Just getting the tarry stuff separated from the sand and stones takes a lot of hot water. They end up with settling ponds all over the Athabasca and Cold Lake tar sands area that are a constant hazard to wild life.

The problems do not end there. The CAPP people figured it out a long time ago that if they processed the tar sands stuff into synthetic crude oil in Alberta, the province would soon be uninhabitable. That would be a terrible thing to do to such a beautiful part of our country.

They found there were two basic problems. The first was that processing created more than three times the carbon pollution in the air than that of crude oil processing. It also left behind very large piles of bitumen slag—which is mostly carbon.

The solution was to find ways to get the tar sands gunk to ocean going tankers that could take it to third world countries that did not care about the pollution. At the end of the Energy East pipeline, for example, Irving Oil promised the pipeline people that they would build a shipping dock for them. Irving Oil does not want to pollute New Brunswick either. The pipeline to Kitimat in B.C. was rejected but there was still the old Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain line that could be twinned and transport almost four times the diluted tar sands gunk to Burrard Inlet in B.C.

And as things stand today, the CAPP propagandists are still praying and working their trade. The pipelines are being readied. And don’t you just love their cute television commercials that promote something like “help make Alberta rich again by spending $11 billion to $12 billion of Canadian taxpayers’ money on the Trans Mountain pipeline.”

And we are the suckers who were supposed to freeze in the dark?

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Disciplining the diplomacy of diplomats.

Sunday, August 12th, 2018

She might be a bit smaller in stature but foreign affairs minister Chrystia Freeland is head-over-heels ahead of a conservative predecessor John Baird. Baird was something of an embarrassment throughout his tenure during the Harper era. And if Freeland knew enough to stay away from Twitter, we could give her even higher marks.

Who does she think she is; Donald Trump?

Freeland recently used Twitter to piss off the Saudis. How stupid could that be? What the hell does she think is the reason for countries having access to diplomatic channels?

Twitter is for children and show-offs. Twitter is for bad jokes. Twitter is for people who need to get a life. It is not a channel for diplomats.

If you really want to tell those Wahhabi Sunnis in Riyadh what you think of them, tell them to their face. A true Wahhabi knows that you are an infidel scorned by Allah and even worse, to them, you are just a woman. Why should those Bedouins give a damn what you think?

Your strength, as a diplomat, is in the country you represent. And you are representing a country that is recognized and respected around the world for its progressiveness in technology, in human rights, in respecting the ecology and its democracy.

And, it is why they will listen to you. If it is Canada speaking to them, they will listen. Their country might be barely out of the 19th century but they do understand our arguments in favour of human rights. Both countries gain by us training many of their medical specialists. And there are other areas of mutual interest.

This does not include our sell-through of American armoured vehicles. The fiction of those vehicles as Canadian is one that neither nation needs.

Admittedly, it is diplomacy that helps keep the world’s economics running smoothly.

And we should never forget that a very important venue for diplomacy is just down the road in New York. It is the United Nations. If you are worried about the Saudis threatening the peace in the middle east, take you concerns to the United Nations. Those diplomats enjoy a good squabble.

But never forget that it was the Brits who brought the Saudis out of the middle ages about 100 years ago. They are still a couple centuries behind. If we keep the proper diplomatic pressure on them, they just might listen.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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