Archive for June, 2019

No facts please, a Toronto Star editorial.

Wednesday, June 26th, 2019

It is always assumed that editorials in newspapers are more about opinions than facts. And that makes the Toronto Star just as biased as the National Post. The other day the Star’s editorial was a full-bore, full column support for our prime minister’s pipeline. Like the PM, it was small on facts but big on hyperbole.

It promised you that it would take the average reader six minutes to read the editorial. It would take a generation to forgive. Mind you, like a stopped clock, the editorial was occasionally right. Yes, the original pipeline is more than 60 years old. Yet, they are going to heat the contents of the line, increase the pressure and add a second pipe along side the first, to effectively triple the throughput.

And then they start to lie to the reader. They say “Sending the oil through a pipeline, rather than by more dangerous rail, to Vancouver won’t increase the province’s carbon footprint.”

Other than implying that railways are an unsafe way to transport goods, this is a doubly ridiculous statement. The pipeline is not just being twinned. It is being repurposed to carry diluted bitumen from the Alberta tar sands. That is not ‘oil.’

Converting bitumen to ersatz crude oil is the most polluting process carried out by refineries. The refining process for bitumen creates tonnes of carbon slag. And if your refinery is in Alberta or is one of the ‘tea cup’ refineries in Northern China, you are still producing this carbon to pollute our earth. We only have one earth at present and we need to think of that occasionally.

If the editorial writer assumes that the excessive pollution of Canadian bitumen does not weigh on Canadians and come back to us, the writer has no understanding of the earth’s atmosphere.

But the writer tells us: This is the opinion of the Star’s editorial board. Do not bother us with facts.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

The Summer doldrums start early.

Tuesday, June 25th, 2019

It is a fixture of fixed elections. It is not the beating of the war drums in the distant jungle but the sudden silence that creeps across the land. It sends a chill down the spine. It is a time of introspection.

And there is much to think about. There is no spot on the ballots to mark: None of the above. We have to compromise. We have to weigh the dangers, the possibilities, the opportunities. Whom do you trust? Whom do you distrust?

Yet it is discouraging for the writer to see the usual drop off of regular readership at this time of year. Readership is your challenge, your raison d’etre. You are not doing this for the bucks! This is just during the time in North America when good weather, road trips and holidays interfere with keeping tabs on politics.

But we know, come September, that readership will again trend upwards, with spikes of hundreds of readers. I am reminded of the old Starch studies of newspaper and magazine readership. ‘Read most’ was the goal of most writers and I like to think I stay in that race by keeping the daily commentaries within 400 words. Keep them short, breezy and provide a few thoughts worth considering.

Not that this writer is a slave to his computer. The wife and I will be travelling about over the summer. We have places to go, people to visit, events to attend. I always have some back-up commentaries to let run while away.

Wherever we travel, we will be questioning, postulating, listening and noting. Many of the people we will be seeing will be regular readers and they hardly hold back on their opinions and objections. They love to note contradictions from one commentary to the next. They make it known when bored with a particular subject.

But consider the writer. And how many times can you write a commentary about writing commentaries? Not too often, I would expect you to say.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

It’s going to be a smack-down election.

Monday, June 24th, 2019

The anticipated federal election in October looks like one that nobody can win. All the political parties are going into the election with heavy baggage.  Nobody has the confidence of the nation. It could be the most bitter, hardest fought election in Canada’s history. There is too much at stake for voters to not vote. There is too much to lose in voting for any one party. We need to vote for candidates who will work to reform their political parties.

We cannot have political parties tearing apart our nation.

There was a rare Canadian phenomenon recently, as we saw millions in Toronto come out to celebrate. They clogged the parade route in boisterous cheering. City hall and area were hopelessly crowded, beyond any imagined capacity—a sea of happy celebrants. They gave rapturous cheers for the players and coaches and their mayor. They gave proper applause for the participation of the prime minister. They gave raspberries and one-finger salutes to their premier. That told us more than any opinion poll.

The conservative party in Canada has lost all credibility as it denies the dangers of the detritus cast aside so casually in a scarred and warming world. The liberals lost their credibility the other day when they said they would complete the twinning of the Trans Mountain pipeline. They want countries that do not care about pollution and global warming to process the horrific output of Canada’s tar sands.

At the same time, the new democrats are offering everything if Canadians will give them a chance to govern. And the Green party brings its one-note band to the event.

The facts are that not one of these parties is fit to govern. Each is found wanting. The conservatives are ideologues, they want small government, tax cuts for the rich and privileged and they paint impossible scenarios of curing climate concerns. At the same time, Canada’s liberal prime minister tells us Canada is a country of law but tries to impose political solutions when our largest engineering firm breaks the law. His cabinet brags of their concern for the environment while approving a pipeline of pollution across British Columbia.

And there are our also-ran parties. They want to save our environment but who would run our country?

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Keep your enemies close.

Sunday, June 23rd, 2019

Ontario premier Doug Ford has found out that shuffling cabinet members is more difficult than the original creation of the cabinet. He not only has to deal with broken promises and damaged egos but he has to evaluate the anger generated by demotion and the ability of those wounded to get even. It is even more of a problem when the major change really needs to be made at the head of the cabinet table.

This is a game that the Fordster cannot win. For every problem solved, two or three are created. Dumping North Bay’s Vic Fedelli as minister of finance was something akin to pissing off a python. The best-dressed guy in Northern Ontario might have a vicious streak. (Just ask former conservative leader Patrick Brown.)

It is really a question as to who makes the first move to get even. One of the two Lisa’s might be the more dangerous. Lisa MacLeod could be angry as Ford punted her from social services to tourism and sport.

But then, Lisa Thompson was all set to go to war with the teachers’ unions when she was yanked from education and dumped into government and consumer services. It is likely it will take her a while to understand the differences between the two ministries.

But speaking of being sidelined, what do you think of what Doug did to Brian Mulroney’s kid? He took an axe to her dreams of fame and fortune in Canadian politics, in daddy’s footsteps. Mind you, Ford replaced her with a ward healer from Orillia who had been airlifted into Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte by the Ford brain-trust in the election last year. Neither of those failures to launch is ready for the heavy duty of being chief law officer for the Ontario government. Now who is going to keep our Dougie out of the courts of justice?

With seven new faces in the cabinet, Mr. Ford hardly wanted any of the ministers he dumped, turned loose to do him harm. It is getting a bit crowded around the cabinet table.

And we should mention Rod Phillips, Ontario’s new finance minister. Maybe minister Phillips will bring some of his magic from when he was head of Ontario Lottery and Gaming to the job. I have always thought of him as Paul Godfrey’s errand boy. My, they grow up so fast!

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Now pinch hitting for Canada: Donald Trump.

Saturday, June 22nd, 2019

We really need that. Can you think of anyone less able to speak for Canada to the Chinese? Donald Trump was grandstanding with Canada’s prime minister in the Oval Office in Washington the other day. The media had been allowed in for some quick questions and to get their pictures and quotes. Trump told the media that he would be going to bat with China on behalf of the Canadians.

Mr. Trump was telling the media that he was meeting with Chinese president Xi Jinping at the G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan next week. He said he would take the opportunity to ask for the release of the two Canadians who are being held hostage by the Chinese in retaliation for Canada’s detaining of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou for possible deportation to the face the courts in the United States.

What is surprising about this is that Canada is also a member of the G20. Obviously, Mr. Trudeau could meet with Xi Jinping and ask for himself. It is hard to believe that the Chinese president would listen to Donald Trump before he would listen to Justin Trudeau. It is hardly likely that Donald Trump would make a more cogent argument for the release of the Canadians.

And if there was any horse trading involved, the Huawei executive is presently vacationing in her luxurious Vancouver mansion awaiting an extradition hearing. We have something China wants. China has something we want. Is that not the essence of a horse trade?

And Justin Trudeau should stop giving us all the lip service about Canada being a country of laws. He has recently proved that is all B.S. Especially when you consider his actions with Jodi Wilson-Raybould, who was a fair to middling justice minister for Canada, until the prime minister wanted to play patty-cake with SNC-Lavalin, to save them the embarrassment of being found guilty of bribery.

It would certainly be appreciated by Canadians if Justin Trudeau would have his own discussion with the Chinese.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Toronto knows how to party.

Friday, June 21st, 2019

Hey, knock off the complaints about the party in Toronto for the Raptors team last Monday. With three days notice, the decision was to parade the team from the Exhibition grounds to city hall. The effort involved thousands of city employees and police. And it was a rain or shine event, with no idea at all of the people that would come.

It was a beautiful June day and a couple million showed up for what will remain, for a long time, a unique event in Canadian history.

From the first minute, we saw the aerial shots from helicopters over the exhibition grounds, we knew that all time estimates were wrong. Barricades were a temporary hinderance for crowds of happy people intent on seeing their heroes. The organizers were soon dealing with chaos. It was a credit to their communications systems that they were able to cope.

It has been some time now since I have been involved in the planning and running of large indoor and outdoor events. They were exciting times. They involved long pages of checklists that you would pore over time and time again as your plans had to change. You always hoped that whatever happened looked like it was supposed to happen. And there were the times the worst things happened and suddenly all the people responsible were somewhere else.

But the other day, help was there. The police were doing their jobs. The emergency services people were on the ball. A crowd almost the size of the city’s population had to bring support systems with them. They strained the transportation systems and they tied the downtown traffic in knots. Who knows where they could have put more Johnnies but they would have provided good height to climb on to see the scene.

It was regrettable that some of the city’s gang members forgot this was a celebration and they brought their guns with them. The police were on the job. It was not a really good day for all politicians but a great day for Toronto.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

NDP’s Jagmeet Singh is ‘All In.’

Thursday, June 20th, 2019

It is the bet in Texas hold ‘em poker that separates the men from the boys. ‘All in’ is the act of pushing all your chips into the pot on a ‘winner takes all’ basis. In politics it is going all the way with a proposed program rather than taking the half-measures of your opponent. It is the difference between the mealy-mouthed approach to Pharmacare announced by the federal liberals and the full-blown version that complements Medicare and includes drugs, dental care and vision care.

As in poker, it is the player with nothing to lose that makes the best offers. Jagmeet Singh, as leader of the NDP has nothing to lose. The likelihood of his being able to implement such a program is in keeping with his ability to fly by flapping his arms.

Yet it is really too bad that the NDP are going to lose in October. Canada would regain some of its momentum in becoming a really good country in which to live and work and play by implementing the NDP program. The plan is so much better that that sad-sack approach put together by that former Ontario health minister Eric Hoskins. I had always considered Hoskins to be a right-wing liberal. He proved it by suggesting to the Trudeau government that they have a phased in program that would cause years of wrangling between the provinces and the federal government.

Not that the NDP would not meet the solid rejection of their plan by the provinces. The conservative provincial legislatures as well as Quebec would dig in their heels in the same way as they fought the original Medicare. There would be road blocks and court challenges. Voters would be confused by the various arguments.

Of course, the most serious opponents are not just the right-wing politicians. They would be funded by the insurance companies that see a large part of their revenue disappearing as Canada goes to a single-payer. The $5 billion plus in savings for Canadians would include the profit insurance companies have been making on their health care plans for industries and unions. We would have to wrest that money from their ‘cold, dead hands!’

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

The bothersome business of booze.

Wednesday, June 19th, 2019

Assumptions, B.S., chicanery, deceit, the evils of demon rum and beer’s contribution to flatulence are all mixed in to the current dialogue on who can sell booze in Ontario. And politics is somewhere down the list. It is definitely not an issue that drills down party lines.

The attempted modernizing of booze sales, by gradually adding large grocery stores by the Wynne government, was an embarrassment. It made the liberals look like fools and the opposition look like blue stockings. They took two steps forward and three steps back. It was a dance that took them out the back door of the legislature.

Now, with conservative Doug Ford in the driver’s seat, we have no idea where this bus is headed. We are all being made to look stupid. Are the people who manage how we sell booze supposed to be incompetents?

Ontario started out almost 100 years ago with solutions on selling booze that were designed to appease the then powerful Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. To nobody’s surprise, the arrangement streamed unconscionable profits to the bottlers and the government. Drinkers of alcoholic beverages can soon mark 100 years of being screwed by all Ontario governments of all postures and philosophies.

The only thing we have proved is that taxes are far more addictive for politicians than any booze they might consume. And what right has any government to guarantee a continued monopoly on beer distribution to foreign-owned breweries?

For many years, this writer has been complaining about the disgraceful condition of many of the Beer Stores in this province. This company has a lock on whatever it seems to think recycling means. When, someday, the public gets a proper accounting of the process to which we have to contribute, I am sure we will find some outrageous profits involved.

What I am sure of is that there will be no silly lawsuit by the brewers against the province for any billion dollars. As soon as the judge asks for proof of harm, the jig would be up. Neither the province nor the brewers want the real figures exposed.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Mr. Trudeau goes to Washington.

Tuesday, June 18th, 2019

Frank Capra’s 1939 movie, Mr. Smith goes to Washington, is not only a classic but it was the film that made James Stewart a movie star. And if Mr. Trudeau plays his part properly, his trip to Washington this week could help him keep his job as prime minister.

First of all, Trudeau should tell his staff that he does not go to Washington to ‘ask’ anything of Mr. Trump. He can ‘discuss’ or ‘tell’ but he is a world leader and he should never have to ask that ignorant Mr. Trump anything more important than ‘Where’s the washroom?’

And if it was that nincompoop conservative Andrew Scheer going to Washington to represent Canada, he would be all atwitter to be in the presence of the disruptor of the free world.

But that is why we should not ‘ask.’ It is Trump who has caused all the problems with China. Someone has to tell the accidental president that he is making a mess of it. You can be patient and use kind words if you like. I hear that is helpful when dealing with slow thinkers.

But Trump either respects our guy or he does not. Remember that an earlier U.S. president Lyndon Johnson and prime minister Lester Pearson were old friends when the big Texan grabbed ‘Mike’ Pearson by the lapels and accused him of pissing on his living room rug. Plain talk is possible.

You never know what will grab Trump’s limited attention. If he is not going to listen, Trudeau can always go home and tell his acquiescent justice minister to tell the judge on the extradition case to return that gal from Huawei to hearth and home in China. Her holiday in lovely Vancouver is over.

Sure, sure, we are a country that obeys the law. It is just as sure that we are a country that also knows how to bend the law a bit for our friends in the People’s Republic of China!

What Mr. Trudeau has to understand is that the Chinese are very big on saving face. It is hardly new for the Chinese. They really cannot understand why Trudeau thinks diplomacy should require him to drop his jeans for Mr. Trump. Most Canadians do not understand it either.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Ontario NDP: “We the Green”?

Monday, June 17th, 2019

Ontario’s lacklustre new democratic party partied in Hamilton last weekend. While most of the province was celebrating the Raptors winning the championship title of America’s National Basketball Association, Ontario’s NDP was celebrating being the official opposition in Ontario. They were also reviewing their leadership and asking where their party was headed.

Since nobody else seemed to want the job, they voted to keep Andrea Horwath on as leader. Only about 15 per cent of those voting thought she should be tossed. She has now held the job of leader of the Ontario NDP since 2009. Her only accomplishment was to be there when Kathleen Wynne tried to take the entire liberal caucus out of politics with her last June. They kept Horwath on despite her weak performance in the legislature as leader of the opposition. There certainly has been ample cause to attack the Ford government’s many errors in judgement, its careless approach to tightening Ontario’s purse strings and its destructive approach to the environment.

Where the Ontario opposition has been missing from action has been in raising awareness in the province about the lack of environmental concern by this government and its fighting with the federal government over environmental issues. The Ford government is even spending taxpayers’ money on false advertising about the federal government carbon tax, when it has no real plan of its own.

And speaking of false advertising, the Ford government has actually printed stickers for gas station pumps complaining about the federal 4.4 cent per litre carbon tax when the basic Ontario tax (before GST) is 29.1 cents per litre.

Ontario’s Green party leader was cheerful about the NDP using the Green party name for their environmental plans. The 28-page booklet released has neither costing nor much in the way of specifics but Mike Schreiner the sole Green party MPP in Ontario gave the ‘green light’ to the NDP wanting to discuss the environment He sees it as a positive that more parties want to address the environmental issues.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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