Archive for April, 2019

Doug Ford’s base is into booze.

Tuesday, April 30th, 2019

There. Question asked. Question answered. If you had a bunch of freeloaders such as Ford Nation supporting you in politics, would you not reciprocate by supporting some of their wishes? His base wants better access to booze. All these newspaper people fail to understand why premier Ford is changing the booze regulations in Ontario. Now you know. This is payoff time.

Doug Ford might be the first politician in Ontario to really honour his promises. Good on Dougie! He might be a jerk but he knows enough to keep some of his promises.

Former premier Kathleen Wynne knew that people were annoyed by Ontario’s antiquated liquor laws. She drove us crazy with that Chinese water torture of adding one large grocery store at a time to beer and wine sales. And then she restricted their hours of sale, forced them to charge the same as the LCBO and limited their sales.

I feel sorry for the local police in Hamilton, Ottawa and Toronto when we start having boozy tail-gate parties at Canadian Football League games. We already have enough drunks disturbing those games.

But the real problem with this circus Doug Ford is running are the lies the media are feeding people to try to stop this freewheeling opening up on booze.

One of the stupidest lies is that booze is already abundantly available. You should consider that there might be 2300 LCBO, Beer Store, Grocery store and agencies actually selling alcohol products in Ontario (population 14 million). That is ridiculous when you consider that 8 million Quebec citizens have a choice of more than 6000 outlets including SAQ and grocery stores as well as beer and wine in the ubiquitous dépanneurs. I cannot think of a better excuse to force our Ontario convenience stores to upgrade their premises.

And if you believe that Ontario is really on the hook for a billion dollars to abrogate some specious agreement with the foreign owners of the Beer Store, I will send you my bill for the inconvenience of having to get my two-fours at those disgusting, smelly Beer Stores. And no, it is not likely that convenience stores will carry many craft brews. Convenience stores are for convenience. Our liquor stores could learn how to merchandise.

Besides, I have a crying towel for all those stupid blue-stockings who think they have a right to tell others how to live. If you think booze is always harmful, hire your own billboard!


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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Our aboriginals also want the waters.

Monday, April 29th, 2019

This news comes with the sinking feeling that we are paying for this foolishness. Did you know that Canada’s Saugeen Ojibway Nation is suing the Crown to return most of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay to the tribes? It seems the white man might have spoke false in some treaties in the 1800s. The case is expected to tie up the courts for many years to come.

How you lay a claim to the waters flowing through the Great Lakes is mind boggling? I guess we are going to find out. I suspect the aboriginal nation has also found out the value of fresh water in this modern world.

This reminds me of my old friends up in Tiny Township on Georgian Bay where some of the home owners land was sold to them to the shoreline instead of the beach line. The native claim should add an interesting complication to an already complicated argument.

It seems to me that it would pay dividends for the federal government to pass a statute of limitations on those old treaties. We could not only save a lot of money and time of the courts but it could give our aboriginals an opportunity to get a life. There is a lot more to it than just drumming, dancing and demonstrating.

And the courts need to realize that the aboriginal bands that were here when Europeans discovered America were mainly nomadic. They tended to park in places where food seemed plentiful, until it was no longer plentiful and then they would wander off again.

This style of life tended to leave ancestors where they fell and that is why just about any land that is not too rocky can be considered as an ancient and sacred burial ground.

I have met and known many aboriginal and métis people across Canada and by and large they have earned my respect. And the more they do to improve the lives of their fellow aboriginals, the more respect I have for them.

And I am sorry I will not use the word ‘indigenous’ in talking about them. The word ‘indigenous’ means ‘from here.’ They are not from here. Their ancestors came to the Americas maybe 15,000 years before my ancestors arrived but we can all work together to make this a great country in which to live together.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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On being liberal in disquieting times.

Sunday, April 28th, 2019

The word ‘disquieting’ took a while to choose. I have been trying to define the times leading up to the October 21 federal election and it reminds us of flying through clouds. You want to break into the bright sunlight, you know is above you, but that oppressive cotton candy is just a grey mist that continues to embrace and smother you.

In these disquieting times, the clouds are a metaphor for the cocoon of a country’s confusion. The angst of the SNC-Lavalin affair is but a construct from which we draw the prejudices of our times.

There is no question but the voters are disquieted. It is not the anger that produced the Doug Ford victory last year in Ontario or meeting the demands of greed recently in Alberta. Even peaceful little Prince Edward Island showed some spunk by bringing on the Green party to be the official opposition.

But neither of the major opposition parties in Ottawa have adequate leadership to survive the rigors of a general election. ‘Chuckles’ Scheer from Saskatchewan is but a servile retainer serving the aperitifs for the conservative wolves in premiers’ clothing. Jagmeet Singh is but testimony to the hospice condition of the political party that Tommy Douglas built.

But that is certainly no excuse for Justin Trudeau. He has unfulfilled promises from 2015. He is the one that still needs to prove he can save our environment. He has commitments to our aboriginals. And he still has to explain the events that cost him a justice minister and another cabinet member, his principal secretary and the clerk of the privy council. His hypocrisy in declaring himself an environmentalist and then buying the Trans Mountain pipeline has been a very difficult pill for many liberals to swallow.

His story is that he traded it for a guarantee from Alberta’s previous NDP government to put a cap on carbon from the extraction and the upgrading of the bitumen to allow it to be exported.

The incoming premier of Alberta, Jason Kenney, has promised an end to all environmental protections in Alberta and threatened court proceedings to get the B.C. and federal governments out of his way. Now if we could just get Mr. Kenney to bend over, we could show Justin Trudeau what to do with his pipeline.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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If you’re counting on a Green Wave: Forget it.

Saturday, April 27th, 2019

Elizabeth May, leader of the Green party, has a damn tough job and she has done it well. She does not always agree with her own troops and her main headaches must come from that quarter.

Talking to a chap at a function where the speaker was Peggy Nash the former Toronto NDP MP, I assumed he was of that party. I was explaining to him why polls showing the Greens winning the election in PEI were inflated.

He agreed that over the years that the NDP vote forecast by pollsters was quite often four to five points higher than the actual vote. It was my opinion that this was because of people who supported other parties, did not want to tell the pollster the truth, and would say they were voting NDP. We referred to this as a ‘parked vote.’ I told him that it was obvious that today voters were also parking with the Greens. It shows Canadians are paying more attention to that party.

While I see it as a compliment to Ms. May, I am still very sceptical of her party getting broad support from Canadians. The simple reason why is that you can get the same line on environmentalism from the NDP. And I am hardly the only liberal who is concerned about our environment and takes a consistent  stand on stopping the exploitation of Canada’s tar sands.

But it is not enough to build an effective political party just around the environment. The country needs much more. Ms. May might be a very knowledgeable and well-rounded person but the local Greenie in my area who has run in multiple elections does not seem to want to talk about anything that is not about the environment. I find him boring.

And it is this same tendency of Green party members to bore people with a pre-occupation in environmentalism that tells me that they cannot convince Canadians to give them a real shot at governing.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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Ford finds friends.

Friday, April 26th, 2019

Politicians always claim that they represent the people. Doug Ford ran a successful campaign in Ontario last year with the slogan: Doug Ford – For the People.

But the truth is that the voters have little say on laws presented for consideration and discussion. Bills take a long and cumbersome route from idea to fruition and most of the discussion is between the civil servants and the lobbyists for those who have a selfish interest in the bill. It is only if the bill is contentious and might be dropped that the premier or a senior minister finds that they have friends who want a word with them.

The interesting thing about that is between this new government and its predecessor, there are different friends. Times have changed.

The previous liberal government had the usual big donors but their friends seemed to be mainly corporate lawyers and bankers. If you needed to influence the premier or certain cabinet ministers, there were people you could call.

The new gang at Queen’s Park present a different situation. For one thing the Ford government is more of a one-man band. It seems that our premier does not trust his cabinet ministers to do their jobs. They do not have years of working together. Ford does not appear to think of them as colleagues. They are a bunch of people who want his job.

You should remember that Doug Ford’s previous political experience were those wacky and fun-filled four years with his late brother at Toronto city hall. In city politics, it is the developers and their lawyers who seek to endear themselves to the right politicos.

Obviously, Doug Ford is also taking their calls as premier. Lawyers throughout Ontario have already been advised who to call at Toronto firms that have invested time and effort with the premier.

Just remember, Doug Ford is open for business.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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Bountiful B.S. for the Beer Store.

Thursday, April 25th, 2019

When even the Toronto Star gets in line to support the Beer Store’s battle with Ford and Friends at Queen’s Park, you know the fight is on. Just the other day, the Star proposed on its front page that having beer in corner stores could cost Ontario taxpayers $1 billion. Which you have to realize is just bull shit.

The Ontario government and its Beer Store allies have been mistreating, inconveniencing and stealing from this province’s beer drinkers for most of the last 100 years. And this is not a ‘blue-stockings’ versus ‘progressives’ argument. The people fighting the hardest against convenience stores selling beer and wine are the Beer Store union.

If you think foreign-owned Labatt, Molson and Sleeman are going to sue the Ontario government for redress when the government is opening up millions in new sales for them, you are crazy. You never kill the golden goose that has been feeding fat profits to you.

The Ontario government, the LCBO and the Beer Store have been ripping off Ontario drinkers since the last time we had prohibition in Ontario. Why do you think Ottawa Valley residents mostly go to Quebec to do their serious beer and wine purchasing?

The arguments must be coming down to the short strokes and the more strident, the sillier. First of all, is the story that the Beer Store committed to an agreement(?) to spend $100 million per year building and maintaining its outlets. If it did not budget that much anyway, it would not be serious about doing business. They have just fewer than 450 stand-alone stores now. They have had a free ride on the liquor stores carrying their products in the most expensive packaging and recently the last liberal government in Ontario added some of the larger grocery stores.

But Ford and Friends won the last popularity contest to call the shots at Queen’s Park and they are out to show how populist they can be. They are not only lightening the liquor rules but they are opening up the distribution. If they follow through, Ontario beer drinkers are really going to catch a break.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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Don’t send a cop to do a marketing job.

Wednesday, April 24th, 2019

There are sins of commission as well as omission that can be laid on prime minister Justin Trudeau. The silliest was his choice of cannabis tsar. The very fact that illegal pot is winning the marketing war tells us that having a cop do the marketing planning was a lost cause.

We always need to remember that the illegal marijuana you can buy in back alleys across the country is there because our ballyhooed red coats and various police forces could not stop it. The only justification for legalizing marijuana that ever made any sense to me was to stop the criminals from profiting from it.

Let’s be serious here. Smoking anything is bad for you. It is carcinogenic. Why do you want to risk lung cancer?

Eating the cannabis is an alternative. I hate to mention it but brownies can be fattening.

I am all in favour of medical marijuana. If it helps, it should be free.

But what the hell does a former cop like MP Bill Blair know about marketing pot? How would he have any concept of the needs of an efficient distribution system? In Ontario we have this silly, ill-planned boutique system of marketing that makes a mountain out of a molehill—if it every comes together.

If I had a say, I would have made a deal with Shoppers Drug Mart (Pharmaprix in Quebec). That would just leave you with the street vendors as competition. You could probably eliminate most of the competition in time by stressing the purity of the controlled product. After all, when was the supply of the criminal element ever tested by government laboratories?

As a knowledgeable street vendor once told me, “You know, they call this stuff ‘shit’ for a reason.”


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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The tired triteness of Trump.

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2019

American president Donald Trump is wearing thin. He is the stand-up comedian who does not know when to leave the stage. There is not much you can say about him that is new or enlightening. When Martin Sheen played the role of president in The West Wing, the dialogue was always fresh and exciting, well written. There is no question but Mr. Trump needs better writers.

This new guy, the comedic president of the Ukraine, is going to make the Donald look like last year’s model. This guy knows how to handle Russia’s Putin—make fun of him. That stiff-necked nogoodnik will not have a clue on what to do about ridicule.

But the democrats in the United States have a different problem. Not everyone and his dog should assume that Donald Trump will lose in 2020. The democrats need a leader in his or her own right to take on Trump. They need a candidate with something to offer. Youth is not enough. Wisdom is not enough. Even though, young and smart would be a good mix to start.

Mind you, the stupid, grueling, corrupt way that Americans run their politics puts any candidate at risk.

And forget the impeachment. What good would it do? The Trump show has less than two years to run. There will be three moons in the sky before the republican senators impeach a republican president.

Why would anyone want to swap Trump for a republican who knows what he or she is doing? Who is left who has not felt the bitter sting of conservative politics? Who else do you want to insult and harry at America’s borders?

Why are the democrats hemming and hawing about the new North American trade agreement? Do democrats also distrust neighbours?

When pressed recently on the tales from the Mueller Report, Trump’s hillbilly press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders explained that she is not a robot, like some democrats. That is too bad. A robot could certainly do a much better job.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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Together, we can.

Monday, April 22nd, 2019

Prime minister Trudeau asked for party unity last week. He was at the Ontario liberal gathering in Mississauga. It was a friendly crowd. He told them that liberals fighting each other only helps the conservatives. I cannot argue that but before agreeing with him, Justin needs to learn to listen to his party.

This was the first time, to my knowledge, that he even admitted that liberals cross Canada have been concerned and disturbed by the SNC-Lavalin affair. Many of us listened with growing dismay to the presentations before the parliamentary justice committee by former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, principal secretary Gerald Butts and privy council clerk Michael Wernick.

What liberals did not see during the months absorbed by this case, was leadership from the leader of the liberal party. “Where’s the wimp?” was the concern.

Our liberal party was being trampled. The opposition were having a field day of scorn. The news media were bugling ‘Boots and Saddles’ as they smelled blood.

And where was Justin Trudeau? He was telling (or sending instructions to) the liberal members of the parliamentary committee to stonewall the other parties. He never really answered any questions in the House. He demoted justice minister Wilson-Raybould.

To add to his problems, he usurped the role of caucus in determining who can be a member of caucus and the role of the party in choosing its representatives. If nothing else, he could have listened to the party. These people are his friends. They had questions. They were in the dark. They had the right to know what the hell was going on.

And was MP Jane Philpott just collateral damage? Or was she supposedly the Wicked Witch of the East who was under Dorothy’s house when it landed in Oz?

During this fiasco, all the concerned liberals across Canada got were urgent pleas for money from the party. What we needed was to see some contrition from the leader.

If Andrew Scheer is prime minister of Canada at the end of October, it is on your head Justin.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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Political Pipe-Dreams.

Sunday, April 21st, 2019

While the rest of North America were out on an Easter egg hunt this morning, Albertans were out beating the bushes looking for the pipeline that their politicians have been foolishly promising them. This could be one of those blue-sky political promises on the same track as a chicken in every pot.

And why should anyone believe it is going to happen? Albertans have already been informed that the federal government has delayed the decisions on this pipeline until June of this year. When you have been stalled for years, what is another month?

This Trans Mountain pipeline has been a good news-bad news story from the beginning. It is an old pipeline that was built long before anyone thought of using a pipeline to send bitumen from the tar sands over the Rockies. The plan was that the previous owners, American-owned Kinder Morgan, would twin the old crude oil pipeline and almost quadruple the capacity of the pipeline for diluted bitumen by adding heaters and high pressure to the two lines.

Obviously, the Kinder Morgan people had studied the possibilities and had made a few stabs at getting the twinning started but quickly found themselves mired in environmental challenges and protests from aboriginal groups. The answer was a quick sale and the federal government became the surprise buyer.

At $4.5 billion, the pipeline was no bargain. Estimates peg the twinning and equipping the pipeline to handle the bitumen will cost anywhere from $7 billion to more than $9 billion.

It might seem odd that a politician such as Justin Trudeau—who persists in claiming he is an environmentalist—would promote a pipeline for the output from the tar sands that is destroying the environment of Northern Alberta and will create three times the carbon pollution of regular crude when converted into an ersatz crude oil. And Albertans will give the liberal prime minister no thanks for it!


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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