Archive for July, 2019

The gang that can’t even sell pot.

Wednesday, July 31st, 2019

It is hard to believe that Doug Ford’s gang in Ontario cannot even get a handle on the pot business. Is there no part of government in which they have some expertise? Did the late Toronto mayor Rob Ford fail to pass on some tips in drug marketing to his older brother? The word we are getting from the streets is that the government-controlled pot shops are operating at serious losses while many Ontario buyers are going back to their old street sources.

And the legal shops are failing to compete. It seems that the government has been unaware of the three cardinal rules of retailing. They are location, location and location.

Who can afford to waste money on locking up an ideal location when the license will be drawn by lot? Who can compete when your pricing is controlled, as are your promotion efforts?

But what did you expect when a former cop made all the rules at the federal level and general incompetence is the order of the day at the provincial level?

What can the legal shops do when the illicit vendors are pricing themselves at an average of 40 per cent less than legal marijuana? In some cases, outside of Toronto, there are reports of illegal vendors offering product at about ten per cent of prices by licenced vendors.

And that is just one more problem that this government cannot seem to handle: The facts are that the rest of this province is not the same as Toronto. The premier is so busy fighting old municipal battles in Toronto, that he has no time for the problems elsewhere.

What our governments need to realize is that the legalizing of marijuana was designed to get the market out of the hands of criminals. It is most upsetting to have to report that, in Ontario, the criminals are winning.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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Making Canada(?) Great Again.

Tuesday, July 30th, 2019

It is not art. It is campaign literature and it always feels like a race to the lowest common denominator, free from the rules of grammar, where less is more and yet an essential part of the democratic process. After many years of producing better quality campaign literature for political candidates, I have gone out of the business. It never did pay. The problem has always been that the voter knows that most of this material is what we refer to as Consolidated Reports on Approved Propaganda or, known better by its acronym: CRAP.

A piece of this CRAP arrived through the mail the other day from the conservative candidate in my riding. Picked by conservative headquarters to be the party standard bearer in Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte, the gentleman sent me a two-sided, 22cm by 14cm, four-colour card. All it tells me for sure is that he is middle aged, Caucasian and overweight.

It helps that I already know that he has been on Barrie Council as a councillor and he has likely already exceeded his level of competence in that capacity. They have a four-year term on council these days. For him, they should shorten it. Much of what I have seen of him on council did not impress me.

But if we are stupid enough to elect him to replace the last four-year incumbent on the federal circuit, he tells us the he believes “in a strong, positive vision for Canada.” And “It’s time to put our country back on track.” The conservative hero, President Trump of the United States, said that in just four words.

On what must be the back of the card has his picture, without a tie (for the farmers among us). Here he says that he will stand up for us by;

  • Investing in community infrastructure—which the current government has been doing for some time.
  • Supporting our rural communities and farmers—Ever since the riding was gerrymandered to include a rural area, the Tories have been pandering to that vote.
  • Removing the GST from the home energy bill—Interesting only for the reason this is a provincial or municipal bill.
  • Restoring the Lake Simcoe Cleanup Fund—He should talk to the Ontario MPP from our riding before making this promise.

What I miss in this pap is a promise to support his conservative leader Chuckles Scheer. Is he too embarrassed?


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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The Brits are crazy too.

Monday, July 29th, 2019

There is a pattern emerging. What particular hell we are heading for might still be a mystery but I fear the pace is accelerating. What you would have thought impossible a few years ago is to-day’s horror.

To make matters worse, there is no discerning a rational path for the phenomenon. For one, I think it started with Donald Trump arguing with President Obama about where he was born. Now, why would that lead to Donald Trump defeating Hillary Clinton? You can hardly blame Clinton for not knowing how to put down Trump. Nobody knew what to do about Trump; least of all Trump. He was surprised as every other American when his ridiculous campaign won the Electoral College and the presidency of the United States of America.

And America has suffered the indignity ever since.

But Canadians have nothing to laugh at. We had an indication of the problem when that misogynist Jason Kenney torpedoed Rachel Notley in Alberta. A third of the Canadian population soon got their come-uppance in Ontario when that nitwit Doug Ford suddenly landed in our laps as premier of our province. And we had no idea why we deserved it. All we knew was that there was a strange disease invading our lands. We were electing fools and charlatans.

But, not to be undercut by lesser minds, the Brits were out to show us up. It started with some Brexit agitation and soon got out of hand. In their typical way, the Brits delegated the task of soothing the pain of Brexit to a person who would do better running a private girls’ school.

They have now replaced the headmistress with one of the nincompoops who started the Brexit business. Would you believe that the guy with the perpetual bad hair day is now the first minister in the Queen’s cabinet? This could drive the poor old dear to consume more of the palace’s Sherry.

Can you not just imagine Boris Johnson flying back from Brussels one day soon, waving a piece of paper and claiming: “Brexit, in our time!”


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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Why your vote matters.

Sunday, July 28th, 2019

One of the most specious arguments by people trying to promote proportional representation voting in government is that of the ‘wasted vote.’ They are suggesting that in first-past-the-post voting, if your candidate does not win election in the riding, your vote is wasted. They are also saying that if your vote is more than what is needed for your candidate to win, it is wasted.

The counter argument to this is that in a truly democratic election, no vote is wasted. When you see how people in countries around the world envy our democracy, it is hard to believe that some people do not bother to vote.

And what is truly wonderful about our system of voting is that we have the opportunity to vote for people. We do not have to vote just for a political party or some faceless person chosen by politicians who does not know us, our needs or our community. Our member of parliament can be one of us. We should always be the ones to choose who will represent us. Our representatives can speak for us in parliament. They can bring our ideas and our needs to the councils of government. Why would we ever want someone who is not from our area to represent us?

If I were to take issue with the recent study of voting systems done by our parliamentarians, I would first complain about who they used as expert witnesses. No matter how much study they have given to voting systems, political scientists are not experts. The real experts are the political volunteers in electoral districts who give freely and generously of their time to working on elections for their candidates. These people often work regularly on municipal, provincial and federal elections for many years. They know the ins and outs of attempts to cheat and defeat our electoral system. They know the strengths and weaknesses of our system of voting.

Some of these politically involved people have worked on elections in the United States, while others have had opportunities to study voting as official observers in emerging democracies that want their voting to be beyond reproach. I believe that Canadians have the least corrupted and most honest voting system in the world.

But we are a long way from perfect.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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Bollocks to Bernier.

Saturday, July 27th, 2019

When a politician takes a stand that he knows is counter to a majority of voters, he must have a reason. This is the question we need to ask ourselves when we hear that Maxime Bernier and his new people’s party promoting a policy to drastically reduce Canada’s immigration and apply more rigorous rules as to eligibility to come here. Is Bernier just scratching an itch of right-wing conservatives or is he narrowing down his sights to just a breakthrough in Quebec?

Bernier obviously does not give a damn for the economic harm his suggestions would do to Canada as a whole. What he ignores is that every immigrant is a consumer. Every immigrant adds to our base of consumers. Every immigrant adds to our gross domestic product. Bernier wants to take that economic advantage away from us.

Bernier is playing to what is called ‘Dog Whistle’ politics. He is playing to ignorance. He uses buzz words that people hear but never really bother to understand. He uses studies by the Fraser Institute that is famous for hiring failed academics to provide pseudo statistics and reports to prove the institute’s right-wing bias.

The recent speech he gave to a small crowd of supporters in Mississauga, Ontario was guaranteed to gain him publicity. It is hard to ignore an anti-immigration speech in a city built by immigrants and flourishing with immigration.

While Bernier sees his efforts as a slice of the Donald Trump type populism, it is not getting the attention he needs to build his movement. The real cruelty of his immigration policies is his attitude towards family re-unification. He wants to end Canada’s time-honoured willingness to allow immigrants to bring parents and grandparents to Canada once the new Canadian has established here.

We can probably expect him to soon demand a wall be built along the Canada-U.S. border to keep out the migrants. You can say a lot of things about Maxime Bernier but Donald Trump, he is not.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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The Grand Scheme and the Ocean Drift.

Friday, July 26th, 2019

At this time of the phony election that precedes the real election, we are not really concerned about where pollsters think people are at but where they are headed. It is more of an oceanic drift than a positive direction but some of the flotsam will make it and some will not.

My thinking on this was started by someone who was puzzled by what Warren Kinsella was doing. What he asked was “is Warren working for the conservatives or is he working for Elizabeth May’s greens?

I can understand the confusion, but the only answer he got from me was a shrug. The answer is probably hidden somewhere in the Law of the Sea. It is in the difference between Flotsam and Jetsam. ‘Flotsam’ is what fell overboard inadvertently. ‘Jetsam’ is what you threw overboard intentionally. A simple way to think of it is Jane Philpott in Ontario is liberal Flotsam. Jody Wilson-Raybould in B.C. is Jetsam.

Political parties do not make a standard practice of throwing away their supporters. And all parties consider this voter flotsam at this time as fair game. Where it is taken by the ocean drifts can win or lose an election. And, since the liberals have been careless about losing some voters, I would expect that a goodly share of the current voting flotsam are people who would typically vote liberal.

Now, if I was a canny conservative strategist, I would find someone who could capture the attention of disgruntled liberals and I would arrange for this person to work for the greens. The thing is, liberals tend to listen to fellow liberals first. And a lot of this liberal flotsam are wondering for whom they might vote. They mostly hate conservatives and have little use for NDPers.

But many liberal-thinking voters tend to be sympathetic of the greens. They have no reason to hate them and they consider them more useful than NDPers. And the point is that if they vote green, they will not be returning to the liberal fold.

So, if you were a conservative, in a country that still has first-past-the-post voting, you would be quite happy to see that liberal flotsam vote for the greens. It will help elect more conservatives.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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Mr. Trump’s Fascist Following.

Thursday, July 25th, 2019

It was a heavy-set woman who could be in her 50s in the crowd, as the camera scanned it, that caught my eye and had also caught the attention of the camera person. She had an enraptured look on her face as she screamed: “Send her back.” It was just another disgusting scene from one of the Trump rallies in America that the man has to have to reassure himself.

She wore a Trump T-shirt and a red cap that said ‘Make America Great Again’ but it was easy to imagine her in the traditional German dirndl, standing by her Mann. It is strange but I still have a very young memory of Adolph Hitler screaming in German on the radio just before the Second World War. I would swear that you could hear his spittle hitting the microphone of the era. And I was afraid.

It has been something of an unwritten rule that we do not compare Trump and Hitler. The comparison can be frightening.

And it is not the men themselves. They are very different, with different upbringings and careers. The similarity is in their followers.

The point is that there is very little difference between the fascists who follow the two men. And it is in their collective ignorance that they shall be led. It is in their ‘born again’ ability to follow hollow heroes. It is in their acceptance of what they have to know are lies. Welcome to a frightening Middle America.

Trump is the American gun culture run rampant. It is in the misogyny of the biker cult. It is in the anger of oppressed and impoverished blacks. It is in the wink-wink ‘Green card’ of cheap labour, the belittling of what are considered lesser races. The fascists stand by a man who tears apart families and puts children in cages. It matters little what they think of him. What do they think of themselves?

Americans will long rue the corruption of their political system that allowed this madman access to power. They will rue their bigotry and how they were used by someone with a very different agenda.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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Showing the Scheer Sneer.

Wednesday, July 24th, 2019

Since Andrew Scheer was made clerk of the House of Commons by Stephen Harper’s conservatives, it has been impossible to find common ground between the two of us. And it was when he was chosen leader of the conservatives, I knew we would never be friends. The guy is such a nerd. I had to find some friendly name for him (as I did in referring to Stephen Harper as ‘The Hair’—it made him seem human) and the best I could come up with was ‘Chuckles.’

But it was not until Chuckles spoke to the Dairy Farmers of Canada at their annual meeting in Saskatoon last week that I realized he and I had something in common. Chuckles told the farmers flat out that he did not agree with the Canadian food guide issued back in January. He gave the guide the Scheer Sneer.

I want you to know that I share Canadians’ concern about the guide. For years it has been veering away from my meat and potatoes diet and promoting things like broccoli. Hostesses have been known to lie to their children about what the doctors allow me to eat. You would not believe the number of kids who have begged me to have my doctor tell mom that they should not be forced to eat brussels sprouts.

Mind you, you have to admit that the same government people at Health Canada have been doing some serious good in getting us to change our diets. The statement printed on labelling today can easily convince people. I was in shock when I saw how much sodium was in my (no longer) favourite frozen French onion soup.

There is little question that these efforts by Health Canada to get us to eat properly are starting to work. They have actually got me checking for fibre content and enjoying that green salad.

But obviously Chuckles is beyond redemption. Or, more obviously, he was pandering to the dairy farmers’ concern for their sales. We should make sure that he does not, by some accident, get into a position to interfere in the way of Health Canada doing its job.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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Butts is back.

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2019

Gerald Butts and company are back to drive the liberal campaign bus. One can only hope that a few lessons were learned from their past four years in Ottawa. After all, it has to be tough to remain arrogant when you have screwed up as often as the crew in the prime minister’s office.

But the real concern is: Have they learned anything?

The most serious question is the Trans Mountain pipeline. It must drive the David Suzuki’s of the environmental movement wild that Elizabeth May wants Justin Trudeau to get some return on his ill-considered investment. Trudeau’s one hope is that he can sell the pipeline to the aboriginal group who want it. Hell, let them pay for it on the never-never plan. What the prime minister has to do is get himself off the hook for twinning that damn pipeline. And do not encourage the aboriginals to twin it. That is incitement to riot!

The first challenge for Gerald Butts should be for him to make nice with Jody Wilson-Raybould. Having the lady sitting out there alone on the left coast is costing the liberal party too much. The party can hardly afford, nor does it deserve, to lose its parliamentary majority over the SNC-Lavalin affair. The time for hurt feelings and repercussions is past. Everyone involved has to grow up and admit they need each other.

And us liberals want to hope that all the economic signs continue to point onward and upward this fall. Nor would it hurt to have our prime minister speak loudly and clearly to that nincompoop in Washington to stop his idiocy with the Chinese, ‘Buy America’ and, while he is at it, do something about his racism.

We can only hope that those whiz kids around the prime minister do not put the campaign bus into the ditch along the way to the election. They need to realize that all is not lost, yet.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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Mad Dogs, Englishmen and Candidates.

Monday, July 22nd, 2019

That knock on your door on this hot July day is more likely to be a candidate for the coming election. This time is gold for candidates, they can pick and choose strategic areas of the riding, they can test various approaches for the campaign to come and, most important, they have time to listen to voters.

As a campaign manager, I would often go with the candidate to watch how he or she handled questions, drew out the voter and watch the voter’s reaction to the candidate. It is also important to know when to shut down the conversation with the voter when it had gone far enough. People who want to trap the candidate too long in conversation are often not on your side.

The last time I spent a summer working with a candidate was in a municipal campaign and that summer was as hot as this one. Rather than risk our candidate to heat stroke on the hottest days, I would choose condominiums for him to canvas on the days were the temperature was over 30°C. Condominiums most frequently air condition the halls and a 15-storey building offers a comfortable afternoon of listening to voters.

One of the reasons that the campaign chair asked me to handle the ground game in that campaign was because he knew of my experience over the years in training canvassers. I always enjoyed that part of the job and I knew that getting good canvassers in this town was a tough job. I found I was training a few liberals but my best students were not liberals. In the subsequent federal election, I had the disquieting experience of conservative campaign people calling me to thank me for training them.

One of my satisfactions from that campaign was collecting a bet from the campaign manager. I collected it very publicly in front of the entire campaign team at the victory dinner. That ten bucks showed that the guy on the ground knows far more about a campaign than pollsters.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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