Archive for August, 2019

Repeating history with Doug Ford.

Wednesday, August 21st, 2019

The worst of the mistakes made by Mike Harris, conservative premier of Ontario from 1995 to 2002, was the downloading of provincial government expenses to municipalities. It was a stupid and ill-advised. And despite the lessons learned, we now have premier Doug Ford following in Harris’ draconian footsteps.

Where the municipalities had thought the Ford government had backed down on some of these moves, he announced them anew this week at the annual meeting of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO). Where he had backed down on cutting funding for ambulance costs, daycare support and public health retroactively this year, he has now promised the cuts for next year.

These are all services that the previous liberal government had assured the municipalities would be looked after by the province. While there were few details in the speech that the premier read from a teleprompter, it is assumed that it will be at least 30 per cent of these costs will end up coming from municipal revenues.

Each of these services is essential to the well being of Ontario’s municipalities and they can only pay for them with substantial increases in property taxes or cutting of other core services.

These changes are believed to be designed to aid the provincial government in covering more of its deficit without raising taxes. It is supposed to make the provincial politicians look better at controlling the taxpayers’ money than the municipalities. When premier Mike Harris did it, he had little understanding of the economics of the province and its municipalities and many of the cuts he made caused serious results in services delivered and even deaths from failure in delivery of essential services that people had trusted.

Doug Ford, on the other hand, continues to want to get even with Toronto for the way the city treated his brother when mayor.

Mike Harris wanted to create a legacy. Doug Ford is just vindictive.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

The Funny Farm runs the election.

Tuesday, August 20th, 2019

It is that time of year. Mid-summer is no time for serious. Even Elections Canada has joined the fun. In a television interview yesterday, an Elections Canada spokes person said with a straight face that she did not know what is being told to environmentalists about the rules of arguing with politicians who are climate change deniers.

It was the same laugh as I had when as president of the Multiple Sclerosis Society, a friend, who happened to be a member of Pierre Trudeau’s cabinet, told me I would have to register as a lobbyist before asking him to increase funding for medical research. All he got for that advice was a raising of my middle finger.

It seemed the media were having some fun yesterday interpreting the election rules that no judge would allow to waste the time of the court. While technically you could say that the MS Society was spending more than the limit for media space during the period of the election, that media time and space was all donated to the society by the print and broadcast media companies.

The entire discussion is inane but a friend called me yesterday to discuss the idea of the flat earth society running candidates in the election. He thought it would be funny if we would all have to stop showing the earth as round during the election.

But this is closer to the truth than you think. As much as you might think Maxime Bernier has scrambled a few marbles, he has a right to his disbelief in climate change. He seems to think this is all just some form of hysteria.

But what is even funnier. I am thinking we all should be complaining to Elections Canada about these stickers that Ontario taxpayers are paying to put on gas pumps in the province during the election period. How much did those political advertisements cost?

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Why listen to Bernier?

Monday, August 19th, 2019

Chantal Hébert made an interesting case the other day. She wrote in the Toronto Star that Maxime Bernier of our new People’s Party of Canada should be allowed to be part of the leader debates for the October 21 election. Despite it being doubtful that Bernier will retain his own parliamentary seat for Beauce in the election, the columnist thinks he has a contribution to make.

Hébert makes her case by complaining that people want to exclude Bernier because of his party’s policies. (The new democrats have complained that the PPC promotes “hateful and intolerant ideas.”) She notes that similar complaints were made about the Bloc Québécois and the Reform Party when they first appeared on the electoral scene.

She argues that the form of populism Bernier espouses has already taken root in the United States and is rampant throughout western Europe. She sees no reason to sweep this truth under the rug. She would prefer to address it head-on.

The only problem with her viewpoint is that time on national television is an expensive commodity and these arguments would be better handled in high school civics classes. Teaching tolerance and open-mindedness is not something you can convince people of in the hard pace of a political debate. And definitely not coming into the wind-up of a national election.

My one serious argument is that reality is there are currently 16 federally registered political parties in Canada and if they all were give access to the debate, it would be cumbersome and a frankly boring affair. It is bad enough that we will have five party leaders representing their respective parties in the two debates. It means that politeness will become more important than spontaneity and there can be little interaction between the leaders.

I think voters learn more about these so-called leaders when the debate is open and honest. They need to address each other and call out their dishonesties. The moderator is not there to referee but to ensure each is heard.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Jason Kenney: Alpha Male?

Sunday, August 18th, 2019

When Gillian Steward from Calgary wrote in the Toronto Star recently about Alberta’s Jason Kenney being the federal conservative alpha male, it had to be another example of her wonderful sense of humour. Quite frankly, by no definition, that I can think of, can you consider Kenney an alpha male.

An alpha male is a leader of the pack. He is macho, he is desirable to the females of the pack for procreation purposes. For God’s sake lady, Kenney does not appear to even like women. He is a misogynist. Have you not heard the complaints fellow conservative women have made about him?

I have never suggested that Jason Kenney was anything other than a person with a low libido. Though, there was always the tendency to pair him with John Baird, the other fat-and-forty bachelor in the Harper cabinet. I referred to them, at the time, as the Bobbsey Twins.

But there is nothing in the Bobbsey Twins books of many years ago to compare to the mean machinations of the Kenney twin. He has little consideration for others or for fairness in politics. For him to promote the idea of Alberta separating from the rest of Canada so that he can propose the solution as getting rid of Trudeau is two-faced. Not only does the idea of a separatist Alberta become sillier over the years but Kenney looks even sillier proposing it.

We have already seen samples of Jason Kenney’s stupid war room in action. The concept of him running a propaganda machine to help Chuckles Scheer by attacking Justin Trudeau goes against the grain of most Canadians.

It would be foolish to suggest that Trudeau did everything right in his first four years as prime minister but he did more to help Alberta than he should have. Kenney needs to understand that effective propaganda needs to have some sliver of truth to it to be accepted as credible.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Big Brother baffles business.

Saturday, August 17th, 2019

Ontario premier Doug Ford claims he is really just a businessman. Prior to becoming premier, his only claim to fame was his second banana role for his late brother when Rob Ford was mayor of Toronto. Before that Doug was just a salesman for his father’s label printing company. Where did you think he got the idea for stickers on gas pumps? It originated with the oil companies when they were tired of being blamed for the high taxes on gas by both feds and province.

But why are the oil companies acting so gutless when asked to put only part truths on their pumps? No court would order them to comply. And what if the federal government gave them a bigger sticker to put on their gas pumps? Would they say enough is enough then?

And what would Ford do if the oil companies told him to stick his stickers where the sun does not shine. The idea of the federal carbon tax is that the costs at the pumps will be rebated to consumers. The rebate goes up along with the tax. And while Dougie thinks he is shafting the feds, he is making money for the sticker business and making himself look childish.

The only thing that is concerning is whether Justin Trudeau will know when to stop attacking Ford. The Ontario premier might not have the political common sense but the federal prime minister has advisors who can tell when Dougie has been belittled enough. It would hardly pay to have voters feeling sorry for the sorry Ford.

It would be best to leave the outcome of this sticker foolishness to the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. That worthy organization has already made it clear that the Ford stickers are a direct denial of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Waiting for Doug Ford.

Friday, August 16th, 2019

C’mon Dougie, Let’s see some action here in Ontario. You talked the talk. You walked the walk. Now, when do we see some action? A populist makes promises and people expect things to happen. We were promised beer in the corner convenience stores. Make it so!

You might not have been the first politician to make that promise but you are the first to be expected to deliver on it. Other politicians gave the corner stores lotteries to help them survive. They have had cigarette sales to help their income. (It is a dying market—in more ways than one.) It will be six packs of beer that will bring these family-run stores the traffic they need. Think of how healthy it will be to walk to the corner store for a six pack and a bag of pretzels, or a bottle of plonk for dinner.

Only a man of the people would think of it. Hell, that woman you replaced as premier only wanted the six packs in the grocery stores. She let the bureaucrats make sure that the grocery stores made next to nothing for their effort. Is that the way to do things? You give Costco and Walmart the two-fours, the grocery stores the dozens and the convenience stores the six packs. And if you let them set their own selling price all will be right with the world. Let the market decide.

And heads should be rolling about the fiasco with the liquor control board’s ordering system. I never know what the hell I will be bringing home in the way of vin ordinaire these days. And even in ordering from the back of an envelope, those idiots should remember to always have lots of the good stuff from the Beaune region of France. Their penalty for screwing up should be no six packs from the big three brewers until they get things right.

And in the couple years you have left in the premier’s chair Dougie, you might just consider this: If you need another ten billion or so to cover some of your missteps you have made in the premier’s office, you can always sell the LCBO. And do not sell it as a package. Keep the ordering system (when fixed) because the volumes are important. Sell the stores one at a time and make a potful of money. Sell boutique wine licences for more. And remember to take taxes coming and going. The government needs the money.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Diogenes, Leadership and SNC-Lavalin.

Thursday, August 15th, 2019

There is no time left for what might have been. Canadians are going into an election when what we so desperately want to say is ‘None of the above.’ Are we condemned to face a future of failure? Are we helpless? Have we found there is no honest man?

Justin Trudeau embarrasses us. Jagmeet Singh insults us. Andrew Scheer frightens us and there is no other workable solution.

Justin Trudeau has been weighed in the scales and found wanting. He should have resigned six months ago and given the liberal party a chance to regroup. His chief of staff knew to resign. The clerk of the privy council chose to resign. Justin Trudeau believed that he was untouchable. He was aiding his enemies. He was creating a conundrum for Canadian voters.

In a world facing disastrous climate change, we are seeing the frustration of electorates and civilizations around the world. Populists of the right and left are our false prophets. We turn to a Trump or Brexit and wonder at the failures.

In Canada, that so welcomes those seeking freedom from oppression, a single ethnic group swamps the membership of a political party. Singh embarrasses the NDP. This is no solution.

And it has been an extended silly season for the conservatives in the past few years. They had a federal leadership that chose the least of potential leaders in a federal lottery that proved that leadership does not matter. And then they chose right-wing demigods in Alberta and Ontario to claim the conservative brand.

With two months to go before the election, there is much to resolve. Canadians are resourceful. Let us find that solution together.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

When the real campaign begins.

Wednesday, August 14th, 2019

They remind me of a bunch of outlaw bikers, warming up their hogs for a race. They have all taken off their mufflers for that extra bit of speed. The full-throated roar of those bikes makes the ground seem to tremble. And the clouds of exhaust fumes obscure the start.

When you think about it, you realize that it was the NDP’s Jagmeet Singh who took the early start. He needed it. When you have to hitch-hike across the country, you need a good head start. (Have you checked the price of air fare or rail tickets across the country lately?) Fund-raising for the NDP has not been what it used to be.

And then the guy who really needs the exposure has been shy about it. ‘Chuckles’ Scheer does not do himself any good exposing himself to the voters. While the conservatives have no problem reaching into the pockets of their rich friends, Scheer is not the best campaigner. He was practicing on Cape Breton last week and there was concern expressed that he was doing serious damage to the local conservative candidates.

What puzzles the voters meeting Chuckles in the campaign will be questions such as: “Why does this guy not believe in climate change?” “Why does this guy want to keep Doug Ford away from his campaign?” and “What qualifies this guy to be prime minister?”

What is even more concerning about Chuckles is that he does not believe in campaigning by any form of Marquess of Queensberry rules. He is claimed to have used the classic ‘roorback’ political tactic against the NDP’s Lorne Nystrom in the 2004 federal election. He claimed (when it was too late for a response) that Nystrom was soft on child pornography to defeat the longest serving NDP MP by close to a thousand votes.

But in what should be a cakewalk of a campaign for Justin Trudeau, the prime minister has created obstacles such as the albatross of the Trans Mountain pipeline, the travesty of the SNC-Lavalin debacle and he will always have the pictures of the family visit to India. All is not that rosy for the liberals either.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Who is this guy Scheer?

Tuesday, August 13th, 2019

The conservative party has been working hard over the summer at getting ‘Chuckles’ Scheer better known. It reminds me of that old Rodgers and Hammerstein song, Getting to Know You, that Julie Andrews made famous in The King and I. What should be remembered about the song is the point that the more the teacher learns about her students, the more they learn about her.

But when it comes to party leaders and voters, that is often not the ideal. Maybe the party needs to sugar coat that party leader to make him more palatable to voters. You can bring in all the performance experts you want but Scheer will always look like a clown ready for his make-up. And you need to be very afraid of this clown.

Scheer is much like Stephen Harper without the personality. He is a hard-line social conservative. Much of the bad parliamentary behaviour in the last four years of Harper’s government could be placed in the lap of Chuckles in the speaker’s chair. Chuckles was too partisan for the job. When he ran for the leadership of the party, his slogan of “Real Conservative, Real Leader” you knew the first half was easily accepted.

When he won the conservative leadership by a convoluted voting process, he won on the 13th ballot by less than one per cent of the vote. The best way to describe the voting was that it drilled down to the least formidable of the 13 final contestants and chose Chuckles. It was anticipated that he would hold the position through this year’s election and then be replaced by someone more dynamic.

As voters see him in the spotlight over the summer, they are less than impressed. Even with a prepared text, he lacks the energy and drive that could make him credible. His policy positions are weak and his delivery of them is insipid. It is like none of his staff care to help him. Even though the conservatives and liberals were seen as equally good for the Canadian economy at the beginning of the summer, it is the conservatives that have been losing ground. They are on the ebb tide.

Once the real dialogue of the election gets under way, Chuckles will be the also-ran that was expected of him.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

 

 

Singh sings a survival song.

Monday, August 12th, 2019

You have to admit, Jagmeet Singh, leader of the new democrats, is a hard worker. His main objective in the run-up to the October 21 election is to try to ensure that the new democratic party elects the 12 members of parliament needed to be recognized as a party in the house of commons. He has to convince Canadians that there still is a need for his third party.

Singh’s dilemma is that nobody is listening and the NDP do not have the money for a campaign that would get your attention. With most polls now agreeing that the liberals are trending back to better numbers, October will likely be just a two-party race. And there is still a great deal to be decided in the race in the days remaining.

But it his own party that is doing Singh in. With a quarter of his caucus bowing out of the election, you wonder what Singh said to offend them. Maybe it was Singh signing up of enough Sikhs in British Columbia and Ontario to swamp the NDP membership and win the leadership of the party that annoyed them. It was a foolish move that is causing problems for the party.

Singh is trading off the 15 remaining NDP seats in Quebec that were held over from the Orange Wave of Jack Layton and kept alive by Thomas Mulcair. It is questionable if any of those seats are safe. And with the current political tensions in B.C., it is doubtful that all the current 13 NDP seats there are very safe.

To refer to the NDP brain trust might seem like an oxymoron but they really do have some people who know how campaigns should be run. Whether any of this expertise can help Singh is the question.

It reminds us of the old proverb: For want of a nail the shoe was lost. For want of a shoe the horse was lost, etc. In this case, the nail is the money the party needs to mount an effective campaign.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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