Archive for June, 2019

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!’

-30-

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.

-30-

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.

-30-

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.

-30-

Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

“Once more unto the breach, dear friends…”

Sunday, June 16th, 2019

And once more Ontario liberals found that they were not masters of their own destiny. Ontario liberalism is a fiefdom and the serfs were told once more last weekend what will be. Whatever you might wish to call it, it is not democratic. It is not run by or for the people.

The call for a one-member-one-vote leadership convention by these provincial liberals drew 57 per cent support and so was denied as it did not have a super-majority of 66 per cent. The hands of past manipulators denied freedom to the present.

The federal liberal party had broken down the old feudal system of ministers being in charge of their fiefs in the 1960s under Lester Pearson. It was why the Ontario provincial party broke away—to return to the old ways with a party run from the board rooms of the larger law firms.

It worked well enough, producing the subsequent governments of Dalton McGuinty and then Kathleen Wynne. Whether they were particularly liberal was always a question.

But now the challenge is to find a progressive liberal who can capture the imagination of the liberal party and then the voters. Whomever the new party leader will be, he or she will need to overcome the conservatism of the rulers of the provincial liberal fiefs.

I think the smartest candidate for leader of the party, so far, has been Michael Coteau, MPP for Don Valley East. He worked hard to get the change to one-member-one-vote while I understand another possible candidate, Steven Del Duca, kept out of the discussion and did not even vote. That tells us volumes about Del Duca.

What I admire most about Michael Coteau’s campaign is that it is built on what he has been hearing from liberal party members across Ontario. I find it is a bit of a novelty to find someone who really wants to listen. The campaign will not get intense until January next year when the delegated convention is slated for March 7.

-30-

Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Circle your wagons; they’re on the warpath.

Saturday, June 15th, 2019

And here we thought war rooms in politics were a thing of the past? Now we see that the Toronto Sun has resurrected the idea with a one-time liberal in command. This must be the companion war room that PostMedia, owners of the Sun, promised Alberta premier Jason Kenney to complement his war room against the ‘lying’ eastern media. This includes those particular media that do not approve of Kenney’s province shipping highly polluting tar sands bitumen in pipelines or any other way.

I checked out what must have been a podcast coming from PostMedia’s Sun war room. I was not impressed. It was a seemingly tired diatribe against prime minister Justin Trudeau. It was, what it was.

But it seems Paul Godfrey and friends are taking an ‘anything goes’ approach to this election campaign. While PostMedia publications are well known for their conservative bias, bias might be too mild a word for their current stance.

Despite Trudeau’s insistence (to this time) that he is intent on finishing twinning the Trans Mountain pipeline, it is not fast enough for Kenney and PostMedia. It is not really ideal for democracy when you consider that PostMedia with both the Herald and Sun newspapers in Calgary and both the Journal and Sun newspapers in Edmonton dominate Alberta media with a combined daily circulation of well over two million copies.

PostMedia is majority owned by American Media Inc. (AMI) which has a stayed indictment by the southern district of New York federal prosecutor office on condition of good behaviour for three years, until September 2021. This possible prosecution was over some improprieties believed to be in support of Donald Trump’s presidency. It was because of this that AMI was forced to sell the National Enquirer and other similar publications.

Canadians have never been too impressed with the National Post or any other PostMedia publications. I tend to think of them as Paul Godfrey and Conrad Black’s legacy.

-30-

Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

The late, unlamented New Democratic Party.

Friday, June 14th, 2019

 

This information has been available for a while but this writer has been reluctant to mention it. The problem I have is with some of my readers who are entrenched supporters of what is left of the federal new democrats. They tend to vilify me for even reporting the failings of their party. Not that it should really bother me. I am a left-wing liberal and am used to abuse from within my own party.

But the problem today is that there are malingering NDPers who do not know what else to say to the pollsters. The party is hardly at the lowest ebb of support since the CCF was founded. It is lower.

It will be October before we get a sense of just how bad it is. I would consider it a win if the party keeps its official standing as a party in the house of commons.

And I do not think it can be blamed just on the lack of leadership. This is a party without a scintilla of direction. The old guard of the NDP  are split between the organized labour supporters, the environmentalists and the old socialists. And with nobody to pull the rabble back together, few of the rank and file have any direction.

It is a shame we have to mention the titular leader but Jagmeet Singh is just not cutting it. His position is like that of a catholic choir boy suddenly being anointed Pope of Rome. There is no honeymoon.

But Jagmeet is lost in the morass of political squabbling over who among them killed their party. The only benefit he has found is that he can announce anything off the party wish list and nobody denies it. Mind you, nobody supports him either.

It is still too early to tell but we can probably expect that of the 41 NDP seats they now hold in parliament, for every three seats they lose, the Green party will gain a seat. And if the greens gain enough for party status, they will do so at the NDP’s expense.

-30-

A NOTE TO READERS: When I went to public school in Ontario, they were still teaching us young Canadians British history.  We learned the difference between Britain and the ancient Celts who lived in what is now England before the Romans came, who were known as Britons. Now please understand that we do make the odd editing error in writing our commentaries. I was trying to give my Green Party friends something to think about yesterday—not start a war. And what about those Raptors!?

Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

If you paint a pig green?

Thursday, June 13th, 2019

The question is if you paint a pig green, would it no longer roll in the mud? And if we are concerned about the environment, should we vote for a party called ‘Green’? Is it that simple? Have we solved the problem of global warming, have we protected the environment and will we all live happily ever after?

Maybe life is not so simple. There must be other political parties that care about the environment. Why, just the other day, the prime minister announced that we were going to do something about single-use plastics. He painted a rather gruesome picture for us of whales washing up on shore with their stomachs full of plastics that are drifting through our seas.

Of course, the PM allowed for exceptions. He figures that we will need at least four years to determine what plastics to ban, what to convert from plastic to some more degradable material and what will have to be an exception for later banning. He sees it as an opportunity to create some new industries. He was vague on details.

We could check on the new democrats. They always have good things to say about the environment in their pamphlets. Maybe they will not look like such hypocrites now that former NDP premier Rachel Notley is no longer beating the drum for more tar sands bitumen to add to world pollution. She wanted pipelines and rail cars to get the bitumen to ports where the stuff could be shipped to countries that do not worry so much about pollution.

And you would think that the NDP opposition in Ontario would be making the most of their opportunity to show up premier Ford and his conservative cronies for their appalling ignorance about the environment and the causes of global warming. So much for the NDP!

And as for Mr. Ford and friends: Those ignoramuses are using our taxpayers’ money to say they have a better plan for global warming. I think it includes toasting marshmallows.

And that basically leaves those people painted green. They remind me of the ancient Britons who were druids and worshiped trees and painted their backsides blue.

-30-

Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Kindergarten for conservative candidates.

Wednesday, June 12th, 2019

There is nothing new about politicians who learn their craft while climbing the ladder of politics. Many make a start on school board, get to know the people of their area and wait for the right time to move up to municipal councillor. Municipal council, in turn, can become the incubator popping out fresh young faces to be your next member of the legislative assembly or member of parliament.

While politicians of all flavours can be found on this path, it is most common in Ontario to find they are paid up members of the conservative party. This is where they find their mentors, their funding sources and support for the campaigns to come. No city beats Barrie in this conservatism of its city council.

It was why after being in the city for only a few years, I ran the campaign ground game for a new mayor. He ran against two well-known conservatives and a group of also-rans. He is now on his third term as mayor.

While I like to think that Mayor Jeff Lehman does what he can with a council that wants to defer any contentious issues until they are told what position to take, this city council is not progressive. We have a burgeoning, successful city here despite a council of small city minds. The truth is, the city is run by its senior staff and people learn you best not interfere.

Recently a brash young councillor became annoyed with two former city council members who are now the sitting members of parliament. They are both about what you would expect in a city that allowed the rise of Patrick Brown, from councillor to MP, to leader of the Ontario conservatives. The councillor was angry about white-supremacists joining in on Andrew Scheer’s remarks to some westerners castigating prime minister Trudeau for not building them a pipeline fast enough.

It was hardly a municipal issue and the councillor was out of line using his position to demand an apology to Canadians by the conservatives.

But it was also hardly an issue for council’s ethics commissioner. Nor was it worthy of a threatened law suit from the two MPs.

Mind you, I think I should drop in on council meetings more often. It is obviously becoming more fun.

-30-

Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

‘Chuckles’ is Counting on Chaos.

Tuesday, June 11th, 2019

Conservative leader Andrew ‘Chuckles’ Scheer has reason to worry about the antics of Ontario premier Doug Ford. With less than five months to the scheduled October election, the conservative leader’s team knows the election is really going to be fought in British Columbia and Ontario. The other provinces are predictable. It is a butterfly already flapping its wings on the west coast that will create the chaos in Ontario.

And Chuckles Scheer is counting on that chaos. He needs something to upset the balance of Ontario’s traditional voting patterns. He needs warning signs on the economy. He needs layoffs and union unrest.

Scheer is looking for seats in liberal Toronto. He needs NDP seats in Hamilton and Northern Ontario. And it is the chaos caused by premier Doug Ford that can help deliver that. Without chaos, Ontario remains a federal liberal fortress.

And to further frustrate Scheer, he cannot be seen condoning Ford’s foolish antics. All he had planned to do this fall, as Ford tore into Trudeau, was to tsk-tsk and comment that boys will be boys.

But Dougie might be planning to hide out for the summer at the Ford’s summer compound. He wants to be as far away as possible from the antics at Toronto’s Pride parades and festivities. The whole idea was for Scheer to act as the only adult available in October and be seen as a stabilizing factor by the voters.

While it would be hard to believe of Ford, he might have even promised himself to stay out of the federal election. After all Kenney and Moe in Alberta and Saskatchewan are hardly going to make a difference leading their provinces against the liberals. The Plains are no happy hunting ground for Trudeau. He might as well overfly and forget those two provinces.

As for B.C., Trudeau’s fate hangs by the thread of the Trans Mountain pipeline. If he can just find some way to get out from under the weight of that pipeline, he might not come to a complete slaughter at the polls in that part of the country.

-30-

Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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