Archive for March, 2019

Even a stopped clock is right twice a day…

Sunday, March 31st, 2019

As inept and foolish as the Ford government in Ontario might be, you have to admit it when occasionally the chuckleheads do something right. It is like when the impossibly ideological Mike Harris government in the late 1990s amalgamated the city of Toronto. The province did it for the wrong reasons and, maybe, even out of spite. It was still the best long-term solution for the city.

And while some might wonder at Doug Ford and his friends picking a fight with the Beer Store, it makes sense for a populist government to fight with an organization that Ontario beer drinkers hate. Standing up to the foreign owners of the Beer Store is a rite of passage. It shows that Dougie and his buddies are the big dogs now.

And what reasonably intelligent business person do you know who would want to sue a government giving them increased access to a market worth more than a billion dollars per year? The deal made with the Beer Store five years ago by banker Ed Clark is only of historical interest. It was an inappropriate deal to begin with and neither the brewers nor the government want the gouging of the public by the Beer Store to become public knowledge.

We are told the three companies, Labatt, Molson and Sleeman, agreed to spend $100 million a year in the first four years to upgrade their Beer Store properties. If these companies are serious about staying in business in Ontario, they should be spending that much and more routinely to maintain and improve their 470 outlets, as well as adding new properties as the population grows.

And you can hardly ignore the less glamorous end of the business. The scope of the Beer Store’s recycling business can make many similar operations appear small and puny. And do not forget the deal with the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) to reclaim their liquor and wine bottles. This is not just social responsibility. It is a multi-million dollar business on its own.

But what do you want to bet that a company such as Costco could teach the Beer Store people a thing or two about marketing two-fours?

-30-

Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Ontario’s going to Hell in a handbasket.

Saturday, March 30th, 2019

There are various opinions about ways of getting to Hell but my American mother liked the phrase about a handbasket and I first heard it from her when I was quite young. It seems appropriate now that we have elected a Ford as premier, that the province is heading for hell and perdition faster than before.

Look at the difference between the much more parsimonious liberal regime than what was elected last June. The liberals used a form of water torture to distribute booze from a grocery store here and then another over there. Dougie is fixing that. The conservatives have already extended the hours of permitted sale and they are even talking about beer in convenience stores.

Just why Dougie has not been as adept in the task of marketing cannabis comes as something of a surprise.

And why is it, all of a sudden, that we have new casinos opening all over the province? Dougie also seems to be behind that. Any voters foolish enough to blow their vote on Ford and his conservatives last year had to be big time gamblers.

Mind you, the wife would like to grab that big schmuck by the throat and find out why there are no craps tables at these new casinos. I am not really embarrassed to tell you that my wife likes to shoot craps.

She might be one of the thriftiest gamblers you have ever seen at a craps table but she is a good shooter and I have seen her hold the dice for close to an hour, making her numbers and making thousands for the heavy hitters at the table. At Rama, where the regular players know her, they will always make room for her at the table.

We have dropped in at two of these new casinos now adding to their table action at Toronto’s Woodbine and at the trotting track in Innisfil and while they were offering some table games, there were no craps tables. The wife advised them that she might come back—when they have craps.

-30-

Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Walls Fail Us.

Friday, March 29th, 2019

The last time we dealt with the subject of walls, we received a scholarly comment from a monarchist on the efficacy and history of the Great Wall of China. Since that was not the point I was trying to make, I was somewhat at a loss to respond. I took it with good grace and thanked the gentleman for his comment.

But the truth is I think walls are for losers. I look at the crumbling walls of the castles of Europe and I see no need for such dull, damp and dreary abodes. And as the Berlin Wall was built and fell within my lifetime, I believe it presents a cautionary tale for people who wish to build walls against other people.

To me, walls in the 21st Century are a waste of time and effort. They are an anachronism in a world of technology. From the day that Berlin was divided by fools celebrating victory, people flew over the barriers with impunity.

Walls do not just fail, they insult. They belittle their builders more than they protect them. They waste resources. They are a form of bigotry. They are for the selfish and self-serving. They deny freedom, they deny dignity and they deny the rights of democracy.

And do not tell us about the walls of hate the Israelis have built against their neighbours. These are an abomination. They are built by Jews who deny the honour of those who died fighting for them in places such as the Warsaw Ghetto.

Good fences might make good neighbours but a wall is a statement of hate. President Donald Trump will go down in infamy as the most hateful of American leaders. Donald Trump is a bigot, a boor and a narcissist. He dishonours his countrymen and women. His wall denies the very freedoms promised by America.

-30-

Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

This just in: Nuttall’s out.

Thursday, March 28th, 2019

If there was ever an individual in the wrong place at the wrong time, it was Alex Nuttall, the M.P. for our electoral district of Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte. Alex was Patrick Brown’s hand-picked successor on Barrie city council and subsequently in the back benches in Ottawa. On a recount of ballots, in 2015, Nuttall won by a skinny 86 votes, against an inept campaign by the local liberals.

Oddly enough, the various times I saw Alex Nuttall in the riding, during that campaign and for the recount afterward, he seemed angry. That was very different from when he was on city council where he tended to mumble and bumble along. He never did seem to do much in either job.

He gave the standard answers when he announced his leaving federal politics at Barrie city council last Monday. It seems, like a wounded animal, he was returning to a place of comfort to lick his wounds. He used the stock excuse that he was leaving to spend time with his young family. I am guessing that it will be a while before we find out the real reason.

But it is unlikely we have seen the last of Alex. He has been receiving an MP’s salary for these past four years and that is more than he might have ever been making before. It will be interesting to see what he picks when he has to go back to earning a living in October.

He seems to have a comfort factor in the financial businesses such as banking and mortgages but few if any of these jobs would have a starting salary as high as we pay our parliamentarians.

I expect this news will get our sleepy local federal liberal party organization out to see if anyone can see their shadow. We need a live liberal candidate in Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte folks.

-30-

Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

‘Scheer’ Foolishness.

Wednesday, March 27th, 2019

It is to be hoped that someone in the Scheer family is keeping a scrapbook of the positive commentaries on Chuckles’ prospects in the federal election in October? It is a shame to get the poor guy’s hopes up. The scrapbook will help prove to his grandchildren that he really thought he was a contender.

But is it really fair? Andrew ‘Chuckles’ Scheer was the thirteenth choice out of thirteen contenders in the last confused conservative leadership contest. The second-place loser, Maxime Bernier, lost by so few percentage points, that he went off to form his own Peoples’ Party.

Not that the choice of Chuckles was all that popular. All his previous reign as Speaker of the Commons proved is that he is a conservative. He is dull, predictable and will lead the party nowhere. In a recent speech to a conservative audience, he hit all the hot buttons such as deficit reduction, building more pipelines and more free trade deals.

But, when it is time for leadership, Chuckles clocks out. We are not getting any sense of where he might be headed—besides some conservative Valhalla. In that speech, he also talked about dumping a couple of the liberals’ investment programs. These are the Canada infrastructure bank and the Asian development bank. Both of these programs are more conservative than liberal in origin and both have been slow at getting off the ground. Why Chuckles would want to dump them is not clear.

The one thing that is clear for Chuckles is that he cannot wing it in the election campaign in the same was as Doug Ford did in Ontario last year. While there is some disquiet about Trudeau and the liberals, there are not enough people mad at them to affect a change of government. For every pissed off liberal who thinks supporting Chuckles is the answer, two more new democrats will switch from Jagmeet Singh to Justin Trudeau. The pollsters can speculate as much as they like, but when push comes to shove in October, Trudeau will still be prime minister.

And even if it is a minority, do you really think a corporal’s guard of new democrats or greens would be crazy enough to support Chuckles?

-30-

Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Trudeau trashes his flight of fancy.

Tuesday, March 26th, 2019

It was nine years ago that I met Justin Trudeau. Working through liberal party friends in Ottawa, I had invited him to a party fund-raising dinner in Barrie. While we raised enough to get the party out of debt in Barrie, the conversation I had at the time with Justin was disquieting. This is a man who can easily turn himself on and off.

And he does not appear to be a guy who likes heavy thinking. He prefers the route of the selfies and the simple keywords. He had a well-practiced warm and fuzzy stock liberal-sounding speech that evening in Barrie. It lacked a single memorable word. It also caused me to miss some of the bad habits he now shows in his extemporaneous speaking.

It seems most pundits agree now that Justin is more like his mother than his father. If he could just live with some wiser advisors in the PMO, he would sail through. His buddy Gerry Butts was too much like him and that was a deadly combination. They created a mutual admiration society that got them nowhere.

There is no question that the PMO needs a couple people over 50 and, preferably, with some experience in crisis management. It is really too bad that Trudeau had so little experience in the House of Commons before he became prime minister. The opposition will eventually stop bringing up a subject if you get everyone laughing at it.

Trudeau needs to turn on his ‘man with a mission’ persona for the coming election and he can hardly do that if the SNC-Lavalin mess keeps sucking the oxygen out of the political air. He needs to get together with the liberals from the justice committee and ask them nicely to stop blocking things at that level. And do not send a flunky to tell them or you can count on it not coming out right.

In a few months, Justin needs to be on the barbeque circuit talking about Canada’s future and not boring subjects like Quebec engineering firms. He needs to define the dialogue, and ignore the opposition.

-30-

Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

The pundit’s putsch.

Monday, March 25th, 2019

It is fun to forecast chaos in these frightful times but we have to compete with some very convincing pundits of the news media. Just the other day Chantal Hébert of the CBC and Toronto Star tells us that Jody Wilson-Raybould MP and Jane Philpott MP are planning a putsch against Justin Trudeau. Other pundits are quickly on her heels, almost down to telling us the colour of the dress each woman will wear to the prime minister’s cashiering ceremony.

It is not that I think it is such a bad idea but neither of these women has the experience with liberals across Canada to pull this off. They need help. And not the kind of help pundit Susan Delacourt of the Toronto Star reported on the CBC the other day. Susan said there were card-carrying liberals ready to take up arms for the two women. The only problem is that Justin canceled all our liberal party cards three years ago at the Winnipeg meeting of the party.

It was always assumed on my part that liberal party membership card, number 1054910, was dishonourably discharged from the liberal lists when I, in turn, canceled my monthly five-dollar donation to the party. I figured if they did not want me as a member, I no longer had an obligation to help keep the party solvent.

The point is, I really am a liberal. And in my humble opinion, Justin Trudeau is not a liberal. Not only that but I think he is more like his mother than his father. He still has to prove that he is anything other than an elitist, who plays at being liberal.

I will give Jody Wilson Raybould and Jane Philpott the benefit of the doubt but I have been waiting for a chance to ask both women why they screwed up the legislation for doctor-assisted suicide. That piece of legislation embarrassed real liberals across the country. They both have a lot to explain.

Neither of the former cabinet members has demonstrated much in the way of political smarts. When sitting in those lofty seats of parliament, you really need to remember one thing: It is not all about you!

-30-

 

Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

A note from a neighbour.

Sunday, March 24th, 2019

“The depths of winter are about over and it will soon be time for spring clean-up and to lean on our rakes as we catch up on the neighbourhood gossip. I see that there has been little progress on that southern wall you have been promising. You would not need the wall if your Uncle Donald would stop frightening the neighbourhood children. While you are at it, please get him to shut down the Air B&B he is running in your White House.

“Mind you, if this is going to be another summer of your Uncle Donald exposing himself in the Rose Garden, there will be trouble in Paradise. And that boy band with which he practices heavy metal music (steel and aluminum) is annoying and you better do something about it sooner than later. We have a new North American Free Trade Agreement to sign off and breeches in the agreement such as tariffs are a no-no.

“Sure, we can be sympathetic to the problems of looking after a septuagenarian such as Donald but he does Tweet some awful nonsense. Has this child-man ever had to deal with the truth? It seems to be something of a foreign language to him.

“Does your Uncle Donald think he is a fascist? The only people he seems to want to help are his rich friends and dictators. I hardly know what he would ever possibly say to a poor person.

“And, as much as I hate to tell you this. Your Uncle Donald is a bigot, and a braggart, and a bully. I do not think there was ever a more heart-wrenching exodus of people from troubled countries than we saw heading north last year for the promised land of America.

“But there was no promised land, because Donald Trump thinks he is the Pharaoh. The only way those people are ever going to make it to America is to hide their children in bushels of Mexican produce and the adults in the trunks of those expensive American automobiles that are made in Mexico.

“But your Canadian neighbours have their own problems. They have discovered that politicians lie. I bet you knew that already.

“We are already driving north from Florida after a winter of golf with your Uncle Donald. See you soon.”

-30-

Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Jason Kenney’s Quest.

Saturday, March 23rd, 2019

There is something about being the big dog in a small kennel. It brings the walls to you and it feels all warm and snuggly. It must be what Jason Kenney thought of when he saw that the years of posing as heir apparent to former prime minister Stephen Harper held hollow promise. Jason Kenny is a person of large ambition and his quest is not to be denied.

But what turns the crank for a pudgy, misogynistic bachelor politician? It’s the power trip. Since he fought against co-eds at his Catholic college in San Francisco being allowed access to birth control information, Kenney’s quest has been for power.

It was this quest that sent Kenney back home to Calgary after the conservatives lost to the Justin Trudeau liberals. He told his supporters he was there to unite the right-wing conservatives and Wildrose parties. And he did it with little concern for any Marquis of Queensbury rules.

Kenney is on the extreme right of the social conservative spectrum. His first hero was Stockwell Day of the Canadian Alliance. Yet he was politically astute enough to recognize that the conservatives were well behind the liberals who were already taking the support of Canada’s ethnic groups for granted. When Stephen Harper came out on top as leader of the combined Canadian conservatives, he saw the work Kenney was doing in the ethnic communities and bought into what he was doing. It was a winner.

This apparatchik choked the first time I saw one of Kenney’s carefully constructed ethnic walls of people behind candidate Stephen Harper. I called it pandering at the time, even if I had to admit that it worked. Harper’s conservatives did not always win majorities but they won three federal elections in a row.

But like anything that works in politics, it ends up being overdone. Even today, Kenney gives the small percentage of ethnic communities in Alberta a little extra attention. He knows that all votes matter.

But if I were a betting person, I would check out the odds being offered by the Alberta bookies and maybe risk a looney or two on Rachel Notley and her team.

-30-

Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

“Penny for the Guy, Gov?”

Friday, March 22nd, 2019

By this November five, Guy Fawkes Day, one really wonders at what the value of the Brit Pound might be on world markets? It used to be a Brit tradition and as much as the Brits love their traditions, a penny does not buy much fireworks any more.

With the outrageous incompetence of the ‘Mother of Parliaments’ to resolve the Brexit fiasco, the rest of the world is dumbfounded. With a ditz for a prime minister, dolts in the cabinet and dummies running the opposition, they might as well stop singing There will always be an England. The bookies are giving long odds on that.

There is a certain justice to the Bank of England being run at this time by a Canadian. If he has been smart, he has been selling short the pound. When you think of all the wars between England and the continent over so many centuries, you would think they would be tired of all the wrangling.

The last (and hopefully final) deal offed by the Europeans was quite decent of them. I suppose everybody needs to have a special charity case to look after and I guess the Brits will be Europe’s.

The great gaping hole in the tariff wall is that open border in Ireland and it is what makes a farce of everything those foolish Brexit supporters wanted to do. It seems that the Europeans have a better appreciation of what that open border means to the Emerald Isle than the Brit parliament.

We get the feeling that the United Kingdom is going to get less united by all this foolishness. This ‘damn the torpedoes’ nonsense of the Brexit supporters is not going to get much sympathy from the more practical Scots and Northern Ireland will have to choose between their loyalty to the Crown and their preference for eating regularly.

It might be just another ho-hum Brexit day for the Brit parliament, but the rest of the world is tiring of it. For all the propriety airs, the Brits take of us colonists, I hardly think they are going to get any lend-lease support for this mess they have gotten themselves into.

-30-

Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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