Archive for November, 2018

Chuckles’ confusion of conservatives.

Tuesday, November 20th, 2018

Federal conservative leader Andrew ‘Chuckles’ Scheer knows that a bunch of whales is a ‘pod,’ and a group of geese a ‘gaggle.’ We are guessing that he has also found out that a collection of conservatives might be a ‘confusion.’ He was at a celebration with an Ontario confusion of conservatives the other day and he would have been smarter to have stayed at Stornoway.

It is not as though Doug Ford’s black conservative heart is not in the right place but his lack of experience and political reasoning and seasoning is showing. The other day Dougie’s finance guy Fideli dumped all over Ontario francophones as though they did not matter. He took away the proposed French language university that the liberals had proposed. He abolished the French language commissioner who made sure that Ontario francophones are treated fairly.

It is not as though Chuckles is that concerned about Ontario francophones—they rarely vote conservative anyway. It is just that Quebeckers are very patronizing of their Ontario amis (that is French for friends, Dougie). Chuckles Scheer simply cannot afford to have Quebecers annoyed with all conservatives just because of Ontario premier Ford being such a klutz.

Mind you Dougie is not continuing to do so well with the anglophones in Ontario either. Chuckles might be worried needlessly. Next fall will be Ontario voters’ first chance to comment on their conservative regime at Queen’s Park.

And it is not as though Chuckles could complain to Brian Mulroney that his kid is not doing her job. We thought it was a joke when Dougie made Caroline Mulroney responsible for francophone affairs as well as attorney general. She is doing exactly the job that Dougie expected: absolutely nothing. After all she has probably not spoken French except as a tourist since she was 7-years old. She got her education and legal training in the United States.

The bad news is that Quebec premier François Legault came to Toronto yesterday expecting some answers from Dougie about what the hell he thinks he is doing?  Legault has more than enough to be annoyed with Dougie about. Fideli’s fiasco last week was just icing on the cake.

Reports are that in their two-hour meeting yesterday, Ford and Legault agreed to disagree about Ford’s treatment of francophones in Ontario. The next meeting between the two business-man premiers might not be as friendly.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

President Trump’s Achilles Heel.

Monday, November 19th, 2018

It does in all pretenders eventually. U.S. President Donald Trump has no clue as to how a competent person would handle the vicissitudes of the job that he found himself in by accident. The world is watching as he gradually slows in his responses to the slights he might have noted, misunderstood or imagined. His usual vitriol is less forceful. The twits are less biting. His pace slowing, he is aging in a role that he does not fully comprehend.

But it is the man’s ego that is his Achilles Heel. He is too much of a narcissist to be president of the Americans. He cannot understand that the job is more important than the person in it. It is the reason that so much pomp and ceremony goes with the position. Americans exaggerate their presidents and pay their honours to the position.

But foreign leaders have their own games they play. They all want something from America when they visit or when they meet in lofty conclaves. Some might just settle for respect. That can be like cash in the bank when they get home. And are you dealing with a buyer or a seller? Everybody wants something.

The American president also has to travel. Air Force One makes the travel easier but it also has a leash trailing, a heavy load of constant communications. Mind you, nobody knew it would provide an Internet connection to the juvenile likes of a keyboard warrior such as Donald Trump.

The world waited for Trump to react to words carefully selected by French president Macron the other day. The Twitter feed after their meeting in Paris was predictable. The American president chose to deliberately misunderstand Macron’s call for a European army to meet the needs of the European Union’s defence with or without American military assistance.

The ill-considered Trump tweet not only insulted the French but every American ally in two world wars.

It is probably not a criminal offence in the United States of America to be a narcissist. Self love can be misguided and a weakness of character and Mr. Trump does carry it to excess.

But it, in itself, is probably not grounds for impeachment. Too bad.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

The anger of Alberta.

Sunday, November 18th, 2018

Canadians saw something of the growing anger and distrust of the people of Calgary the other day. There is no reason to expect more from the rest of the province. The non-binding plebiscite in Calgary was a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on a bid for the 2026 winter Olympics. The answer dashed the hopes of the brave and venturesome. It said many disappointing things about the city that Canadians have so admired over the years.

But the answer on the Olympics surprised nobody. It is the same bitchiness behind it that permeates the Petroleum Club. It is the same depression that holds back the NDP provincial government of Rachel Notley. It reflects the sour misogyny of that slammed together united conservative party.

What do Albertans think that useless UCP head Jason Kenney is going to do that premier Rachel Notley cannot? Who would be stupid enough to believe more right-wing conservatives are going to solve the province’s economic doldrums? How could anyone, so stupidly, put their faith in tar-sands bitumen and not understand the economic hopes for a winter Olympics bid?

Calgary voters let anger and suspicion and false information get in the way of what was best for their city. These are the same people who hope to send a bunch of do-nothing, brain-dead conservatives to the legislature in Edmonton next year. They have been electing the same class of incompetents for the past 60 years. When is enough, enough?

Frankly, changing the name of the party does nothing. Changing the predictability of the attitude of the legislature could do wonders.

And when did they outlaw common sense in the foothills of the Rockies? And what has God got in reserve for Albertans once the tar sands can no longer be exploited? Did they think Leduc No. 1 was supposed to come with an endless supply of natural resources to feed the greed? You only get a few gifts from God and you should learn to treat them with more respect.  Where is your industry, your thinking, your creativity and your hard work that is needed to help build a diversified economy?

And where do you get off with this Western Canada Select brand that you seem to think of as a Holy Grail. It is just that disgustingly polluting bitumen boys and girls, that is destroying your beautiful province!

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Doug Ford’s mean streak.

Saturday, November 17th, 2018

It seems that Douglas Ford Jr.’s mother never told him that what goes around comes around. That is not just a homily. It is a warning. The Ontario premier is asking for trouble with his ham-fisted nastiness.

This guy thinks he can use the premier’s office to get even for real or imagined slights over the years. He has much to learn methinks.

Most of the survivors at city hall are keeping a wary eye open for low-flying turds from the Ontario government. After cutting the number of wards in half mid-election, earlier this year, nobody would be surprised by Dougie’s next salvo.

This all dates back to Dougie’s dying brother who still wanted one more kick at the mayoral can. It was not to be and they shamed Dougie when he tried to stand in for his crack-smoking brother.

We are all aware that the Queen’s Park terrorists will be coming to wrest the subways of Toronto away from what Dougie considers the city hall incompetents. How all that will play out will keep the games interesting for a few more years.

But Doug Ford has more enemies than just the downtown Toronto councillors. He has a special hatred for liberals. With the Queen’s Park contingent of the liberals holding only seven seats in the legislature, they are not entitled to the staffing and accoutrements of a political party. The rules were that they needed eight warm bodies in caucus to be privileged to be recognized. That is not good enough for Dougie. He is changing the rules. He did not want a dismissed conservative or a disgruntled NDPer crossing the floor and turning the liberals into a party. He is upping the ante to having to have 12 members. That is a streak of meanness to be remembered.

With the ongoing firings and turmoil in the premier’s office, what was once a well-oiled machine at Queen’s Park is becoming a spectator sport for the news media.

And Dougie’s vendetta with Brampton Brown is getting far warmer with Brown’s tell-all book getting its 15-minutes of fame.

There is one quote from Brown’s book that can be considered accurate. It was Brown’s comment that Ford did not win the election from Kathleen Wynne. It was Wynne that lost it.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Get your social media on.

Friday, November 16th, 2018

Despite the sage advice from aging sages, social media will continue to be a useful addition to political campaigning. It is not going to go away. And do not think of it as cheap coverage. It needs careful attention and scarce resources. You do not want to miss out and you do not want to waste them.

The first audience you want to consider is the 18 to 25-year olds. You can easily track them down at your local community college or university. Do not settle for the opinions of just a few. Remember though that the pre-meds are serious grunts. It is the soc-and-phil guys and gals who are there for the social life. And if you line up the gals first as volunteers, the guys are sure to follow.

Every campaign needs all the person power it can get. It helps if you budget generously for pizza.

And let the young people run the social media campaign. You need a small team with a leader and back-up. Stream the younger volunteers by them so they can get updates on what’s trending.

Be sure you understand the differences between the popular social media apps—it is really not all that complicated. Facebook is still king at the moment but there is new competition coming. Twitter is being hurt by the abuse of Donald Trump but you cannot argue with that many million followers. And I strongly believe that any candidate who thinks he or she could use a chatbot, should be replaced with a chatbot. And I would suggest the unless you have someone very good at creating videos, you do not waste time on YouTube

But the intent of getting candidates involved with social media is to make sure that they are reaching the audiences that we see everywhere with their noses stuck to that smart phone screen. They need to get the messages—the same as seniors who might never have seen a Facebook page.

The different generations out there are just a complication to modern campaigning. They all need convincing communications. Social media has not replaced the printing press. You need strong printed images and signs to pull together your different audiences. Communication constantly changes, but basics are slow to evolve.

Nor have the principles of the ground game changed that much.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Bernier’s bonus: “No more political correctness.”

Thursday, November 15th, 2018

As MP Maxime Bernier continues to build his new party of the far right, he is finding easy hunting in Alberta. The MP from Beauce claims some 30,000 memberships sold to-date and Bernier remains quite confident. The former conservative’s People’s Party of Canada (PPC) is reported to be up and running in eight out of ten Calgary electoral districts.

The political theories that Bernier is espousing are those of a libertarian. He is ultra conservative and preaches a cant of small government and low taxes. He is the same as French President Macron described the other day as a nationalist—the opposite of a patriot. He takes a stand against those who are different. He is opposed to immigration and against foreign aid. Bernier is your basic bigot.

But nobody denies that there is support for a party such as he proposes. He had a good crowd in Vancouver the night before and then again in Calgary the next day. At this stage, he is a novelty but given the funding needed, he could be a force next October. The very fact that he is out looking for acolytes so early, tells us that he is confident of his funding. He will be a thorn for Andrew Scheer and the conservatives.

The novelty for Canadians next year will be having a party supporting the freeing up of restrictions on fire arms. Bernier wants to take us back in time. It will be a strong selling point in the west and in rural Ontario. His biggest problem will be the negatives he will encounter to his wild-west approach in his home province of Quebec.

But people will find that Bernier is most unlike populists such as Doug Ford or Donald Trump. It is hard to stump Bernier with a question. He is an experienced politician. He fully understands the challenges facing him between now and next October.

But, at the same time, Bernier is recognizing the anger and frustration of voters who resent the open liberalism of Canadian society. The very fact that his audiences are mainly male and misogynist tells us where Bernier’s strength might be. Most political pundits are being cautious in assessing Bernier’s chances next year. Given a foothold as a party in the Commons, he could be far more of a problem.

We really do live in interesting times.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Underlining the ignorance of Trump.

Wednesday, November 14th, 2018

U.S. President Donald Trump is but an immature child playing at being the leader of the most powerful nation on earth. The point was so perfectly positioned the other day for all to understand by French President Emmanuel Macron. Vive la France!

It is when as a tourist you stand under the majesty of the Arc de Triomphe, trying to blot out the incessant horns of vehicles caught in the endless route of that traffic circle, that you understand the pride of the French. Macron was destined to say what he did in that setting.

The president named no names but listeners, including Donald Trump, could only add his name to each indictment. Macron told the world leaders in attendance that “patriotism is exactly the opposite of nationalism.” It was his belief that the millions killed in War I fought against the selfishness of nations fighting only in their own interest.

Macron denounced nations who stepped away from their treaties. He denounced those who put their own interests first. He believes it is their moral values that nations are denying in this way.

Mind you, after listening to Trump’s diatribes for the Deplorables during his run-up to the mid-term elections, you would assume those Americans had no moral values anyway. And the mixed results of those elections lead you to question both the common sense of the voters and the morals of the elected.

In an interesting follow-through to the French president’s speech, Canada’s Justin Trudeau took part in a peace forum where he put in a strong defence for the news media in their independent role of defending society’s institutions. He said that attacking the news media only fuels the cynicism that citizens have to all institutions that are there to protect us as citizens.

The world leaders had gathered in Paris to mark the 100 years since the armistice that ended World War I, also known as the Great War and as the War to End All Wars—it did not.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Economists vs Environmentalists.

Tuesday, November 13th, 2018

Welcome to ringside folks. Tonight’s card is a new version of Albert Einstein’s E=MC². Tonight’s main bout is between Canada’s federal liberal economists and its liberal environmentalists.

The prize is prime minister Justin Trudeau’s pipeline. Justin paid $7 billion of our money for that pipeline over the Rockies and for another $6 to $7 billion, he can twin the pipeline, add high pressure pumps and heaters to heat the diluted bitumen to (hopefully) get twice as much of the highly polluting stuff to the ocean-going tankers playing Battleship in Burrard Inlet.

But tonight, Justin Trudeau’s cabinet champions are up against Canada’s leading liberal environmentalists. The first challenge is by a phalanx of cabinet colleagues spreading the word that bitumen is good. They tell us that Canada’s economy can only be sustained and kept growing by making Alberta rich again. They want the wonders of bitumen shipped to the third world where nobody gives a damn about pollution and our endangered planet. “Global warming is a myth you know,” they tell us.

“Not so,” scream the embattled environmentalists concerned that bitumen exploitation is destroying the beauty of Alberta with ugly settling ponds while third-world refining the bitumen is spewing three times the deadly carbon into our ominously darkening skies.

“But we must compete with the Arabs,” the economists claim. “Our petro-dollars must stay at home.”

“And bitumen must stay in the ground,” the environmentalists retort.

And so, the battle rages. It has become an ongoing argument of excesses and deceit. It is a cacophony of greed versus science. It is fortune versus fortitude. It is caution versus calumny. It is province versus province. It is father versus son, mother versus daughter, and also liberal versus liberal.

Do you know why we call MP Andrew Scheer, leader of Canada’s federal conservative party, “Chuckles”? Because he is watching Justin Trudeau tear up his free pass into next year’s election.

Chuckles might be on the same side of the bitumen question as Trudeau, but he knows when to shut up.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

“Wasn’t That a Party?”

Monday, November 12th, 2018

The Rovers got it wrong when they wrote a song about the party. It was certainly not the whiskey or the gin that is doing in the liberal party. It was the desperation for leadership. And Trudeau is a magic name to Canadian liberals. At a time when people are questioning the viability of political parties, they reached back into the party’s past.

But Justin Trudeau is not his father and he marches to a different drummer. He was playing the right tunes on his flute to impress the party’s urges for reform. He promised to restore the party’s right to selecting its candidates—and then, inconveniently, forgot.

And he thinks it should be a BYOB party. He got the party to give up the standard $10 memberships. He wanted lots more than that. He added people to the party lists for free, called them liberals and inundates the old and the new with e-mails for funds.

Justin Trudeau does not understand the functioning of a political party. What he failed to do was build the party in the electoral districts. He failed to understand the superior strength of the conservatives in the ground game. My district liberal association is meeting for the first time in two years later today and he expects them to mount a strong campaign next year?

But they have been left with nothing to do for the past two years. The national conventions have been for the party elite and its apparatchiks. The policy discussion has been cursory and carefully controlled. After conventions, policy is filed and forgotten, despite the right intentions. Nobody seems to be complaining about what Justin Trudeau is doing to their party. It is no longer the party it used to be.

We used to have regular meetings and events in the districts, in provincial regions and in the provinces. We used to meet to discuss policy, party structure and constitution. And we used to send experts out to the districts to inform them of the latest thinking on party communications and campaigning techniques. And more than 90 per cent of the work was done by volunteers.

As Pierre Trudeau found out in his second election campaign, the voters are fickle. In the general election of 1972, Pierre Trudeau won a slim majority of only two seats in the House of Commons. We shall see how Justin does next year.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

In the grip of the political vortex.

Sunday, November 11th, 2018

Friends, foes and the pubic ask: “What the fuck is going on?”

The answer is that nobody really knows. Did you see the polls before the American mid-term elections? You got a lot of words but no answers. The pollsters knew that they had no answers. For years this politico has been producing a morning line that was noted for its accuracy in forecasting results. Not any more. My ability to forecast has disappeared into that vortex.

And it is a vortex. It is a vicious maelstrom, a state of constant confusion, a whirlpool sucking us into its oblivion. Politics has reached its own end of days. It is its time of self destruction. It turns into itself and eats its young. It has become perpetual confusion.

It staggers this apparatchik how the tables have turned. There are no rules of the political road left to ignore. What started out years ago as simply political manipulation has turned into deplorable duplicity. Where people used to just be annoyed at the unkept promises and self aggrandizement of politicians has become a palpable hatred.

The last provincial election in Ontario saw the destruction of a party whose leader quit rather than lead her party into oblivion. Instead of fighting it out to what could have been the obvious end, she cut her party adrift to the vicissitudes of a sea of angry and now confused voters.

Mind you, we used to say that nobody trusts politicians and not mean it. Now, we mean it. Nor do people trust the elites. They are losing confidence in the social safety nets and they are looking askance at the dog-eat-dog politics of today. Trust is gone. The one per cent are out for themselves and you can see the evidence to prove it.

Never, since the world-wide depression of the 1930s, have people been so distrustful. They are grasping at political demigods for surety they know does not exist. They are looking aghast at the money spend on political campaigns and are wary of the politicians and their backers.

And the Tammany Halls of politics stopped looking after their devotees years ago. If your parents were conservatives are you joining the party? And why would you even trust a political party?

There is more on this subject to come.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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