Archive for December, 2019

There has to be a pony in there.

Saturday, December 7th, 2019

You cannot have all that cast-off material from a barnyard without a pony in there somewhere. The speech-from-the-throne writers must have figured that if you have to use weasel words, you might as well use a lot. So, if you could stand one more reading of that speech, that the governor general struggled so gamely through, please tell us where it is taking this country?

The most positive thing that the prime minister has done this past week, was to comment on the American president’s presumptuousness. And here, all this time, I would have assumed there was respect for the sanctity of the pre-dinner cocktail gathering—at Buckingham Palace for God’s sake! Next thing we know, the media will be following the world leaders into the washrooms!

But I doubt that the prime minister did himself any damage making fun of the American president. In fact, I would bet that his overall approval rating by Canadians has gone up a few degrees.

I would certainly not say that for ‘Chuckles’ Scheer. He must think he is on permanent ‘attack dog’ duty, as leader of her majesty’s loyal opposition to the liberal minority. And for Singh of the NDP to make it a duet defaming the throne speech, is just ludicrous.

Why doesn’t somebody tell those two that the election is over and everyone has to catch their breath, beg for more money from their benefactors and plan ahead. To rush pell-mell into an ill-considered election will hardly solve their parties’ leadership problems.

And why would those guys want to make the point to Canadians that the leader of the Bloc Québécois just might be the smartest politician in that troubled house of commons.

Frankly this situation reminds me more of the Joe Clark government in 1979 than anything more recent. The Clark people could not count and it cost them a government. It makes you wonder if school teacher Justin Trudeau ever taught any mathematics?

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

The existential Doug Ford?

Friday, December 6th, 2019

For today’s philosophy class, we are going to debate whether or not we have seen the real Doug Ford, premier of Ontario, this past week? When we saw him in action at the premiers’ meeting at the Toronto Airport on Monday, are we to assume that all the premiers were acting out for the national audience that would be seeing them on the late day news? And where was the Doug Ford who rarely came out of hiding during the recent national election campaign?

As much as you wished he was in rehab, he must have been in training at a political obedience school. Obviously, somebody got to him. It was like the transformation of Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Instead of the boorish, brash and boisterous Doug Ford, we have all grown to hate, we saw a civilized version of deceased brother Rob Ford. Rob always was the Ford brother who understood politics. The older brother was just a load of bull in a china shop.

But what have we here? Ford shows up in the Toronto hotel, where the premiers were meeting, with a cheesy load of Toronto Maple Leaf jerseys. It was the old political chestnut of giving the local team’s jersey to the visiting politician. Whoever on Ford’s staff dreamed that one up has been in politics far too long.

And you would think that with all the trouble Dougie has gotten himself into as a climate-change denier, there would have been some gas pump stickers for his fellow premiers. They also need to assure their voters that fighting carbon should not cost money for the major polluters across Canada.

But was any of it real? (That is what we mean by existential.) Seeing as how the communique from this type of meeting is agreed upon well in advance, there was nothing contentious in it. There was no mention of pipe lines that Quebec does not like or dress codes denoting religion that Quebec does not like—and someone else might like. They want you to think the premiers are a harmonious group—not a troublemaker in the bunch!

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Trump’s Triumph?

Thursday, December 5th, 2019

It will only be after someone translates the French word “merde” for him that Donald Trump will really know what the audience of world leaders thought of his plans for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Trump’s triumph this week is the meeting of the organization in England to celebrate its 70 years of protecting the world with truth and justice, in the American way.

If Brexit goes through as planned, this could be the last time that the United Kingdom will play host or any meaningful role in NATO,. Trump even had the chance to be fêted by the Queen the other day as sort of a farewell gesture. (Would that the Americans could rid themselves of him so easily.)

But Trump’s bête noire, French president Emmanuel Macron, will still be belittling the importance of NATO to annoy him. He and that kid from Canada (with his snide remarks) seem to be there just to make life difficult for the Trump-in-chief. It is assumed though that Trump made no more threats to pull the U.S. out of the alliance.

They would be luckier if Turkey made the same threat. A resignation from that quarter would certainly be accepted. Turkey’s president Erdogan thinks he can keep one foot in Russia and the other in Europe and that is not sitting well with his NATO allies. It seems Erdogan has recently bought an air defence system from Russia and nobody has figured it out yet if it is to fight off the Kurds, the Syrians, the Ukrainians or the Americans?

Turkey’s allies might baulk at the idea of rushing to the defence of Turkey, when it’s overrun by the Kurds.

Trump must be having fantasies about his triumphant return to Washington, such as entering the city with Macron in chains, dragged along behind the Trump chariot.

But like Julius Caesar, Trump might be misreading the “lean and hungry look” of the Democrats and miscounting the number of Republican impeachment knives ready to do him in.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Kenney’s apocalypse or fiscal restraint?

Wednesday, December 4th, 2019

It must depend on where you are in the food chain. Premier Jason Kenney of Alberta looks like he has never missed a dinner. To him, a little fiscal restraint is no big deal.

When hundreds of protesters showed up at the united conservative party’s ‘love-in’ with Andrew Scheer last weekend, you could see that there was a difference in opinion. The impression was that these people could brave the cold of an Alberta winter and they intended to fry a fish named Kenney. They gathered in front of the Westin Calgary Airport Inn and kept warm waving their signs and calling for Kenney and his friends to come out and play.

Regrettably, Kenney and his friends in suits stayed inside where it was warm. He bemoaned the fact that the protestors were ranting and roaring about the loss of 6000 jobs so that Kenney and company of the UCP could balance the province’s books.

Kenney referred to the cuts in the provincial budget as a modest period of fiscal restraint. He objected to the protestors “making it out as the arrival of the apocalypse.”

I guess it all depends on for whom it is apocalyptic.

And if you ever thought that Jason Kenney and company might be a little out of touch with reality, you had to see what was going on inside the hotel. It was a love-in between the federal conservative leader and the Alberta version of a provincial united conservative party. The keynote speaker at this annual meeting was Federal leader Andrew Scheer. These people jumped up to give Scheer a standing ovation. After Mr. Scheer had received a less than enthusiastic reception in Montreal and Ottawa conservative meetings last week, this meeting showed the lack of clear consensus among conservatives.

We live in interesting times.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Toronto wants to choose mediocre?

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2019

Toronto councillors are setting things up to enable voters to choose mediocre council candidates in 2022. This was brought on by the previous provincial government allowing municipal councils to opt for ranked balloting as an alternative to first-past-the-post voting for council positions.  The system seems simple but the complications grow with the number of candidates seeking office in each ward.

Proponents of ranked balloting claim it is simple but anyone who has ever faced a ballot with more than ten candidates listed would beg to differ. Even knowing the names of all the candidates is a chore. To rank all of them is next to impossible.

What really happens when there are many names on the ballot is that the least obnoxious candidates get most of the third, fourth, etc. votes because the voter has nothing against them. In effect the voters end up drilling down to the candidates that nobody has anything against. It becomes a contest to elect the least controversial candidate.

Case in point: The conservative party federal leadership that chose Andrew Scheer as national leader was a ranked ballot fiasco. There were 13 candidates and the counting process actually went through 13 counts to arrive at a final tally, just over 50 per cent, for the Saskatchewan MP. And when you realize that Maxime Bernier was a very close second, it is enough to make you shudder.

But there is still time to make sure your favourite councillor in Toronto does not fall into the ranked ballot trap. Council has asked staff to lay the groundwork for the change in 2022. This includes holding multiple open houses and other forms of public consultation. The law does not say what to do if the public reaction is negative. You can only hope.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

 

Running in place.

Monday, December 2nd, 2019

The serious jogger does it when blocked by traffic or a stoplight. It is called running in place because your legs keep moving but you are not moving forward. By keeping up the motion, the jogger is not cooling down or loosing that high of a good run.

This is mentioned, because until today, the candidates for the liberal party leadership seem to have been running in place. Fund raising and team building might have absorbed most of their time but the average liberal was not seeing much action.

This lack of build up about the coming delegated convention might be the problem but I got comments from some Ontario readers that they had no idea what I was writing about the other day.

Let me explain: The Ontario Liberal Party is planning to hold a delegated convention at the Mississauga International Centre on March 7, 2020. At time of writing, there are at least five, if not six, approved contenders for the job of leader. Contender number six has yet to be approved by the party. Why the party might reject her is between her and the liberals who run the party—which is just number one of the reasons that I believe this contest is badly run.

What I was commenting on the other day was the ease with which people can manipulate this form of delegated convention. It starts in the electoral districts. There are quite a few ridings across Ontario that have less than seven members. Those are easy pickings if you need a bunch more delegates. Some ridings are also easy for a small group to take over. The only bad news is that the membership in the party closes today, if you wish to vote for delegates to the March 7 event.

What is considered particularly corrupt is the demand by the party hierarchy that all candidates to be a delegate indicate who they are supporting. In effect, the person is no longer a representative from that part of the province but a representative for that leadership candidate. It defeats the purpose of a delegated convention.

Before the delegate elections in February, I hope to provide some handicapping on the leadership race and some observations on the candidates’ credentials.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Building bridges west?

Sunday, December 1st, 2019

I am not a fan of Toronto member of parliament Chrystia Freeland. While properly impressed by both her CV as a journalist and her books, I do not see her as a politician or deputy prime minister. I do not think she understands Donald Trump, Jason Kenney or Justin Trudeau. She might not be working to her strengths.

Maybe the answer to her is the answer to the question, ‘Why is she in politics?’ The answer could also shed some light on her appointment to be some sort of a go-between for the West. Her bridges seem tenuous.

Jason Kenney has his political agenda and it is fair to ask if Ms. Freeland understands it? If she does, good on her! What is she going to do about it? Kenney is looking for a political answer and neither the prime minister nor his deputy has that political answer. Does Kenney think they would be foolish enough to give in to all he demands? Those demands could destroy Alberta as a liveable part of this country.

And please do not suggest that Ms. Freeland got NAFTA(2) up and ready to run by understanding Donald Trump. She got that job done by working around Trump. Could he even pick her out of a line-up?

And will somebody please tell us where Chrystia Freeland was hiding during that SNC-Lavalin fiasco early this year? She might not have seen it as her place to intervene, but she was a senior cabinet member back then. You cannot tell us that nobody in that cabinet last winter could see where the Wilson-Raybould fiasco was taking them.

And that leaves us with the relationship of Ms. Freeland and her boss. Her appointment was hardly to add a female to his cabinet, we hope. He promised a gender-balanced cabinet and the word is that someone counted and said, ‘Yep, it’s half women.’ And now we know where some of those creative portfolio titles came from.

Anyone who puts gender ahead of competence is headed for trouble. And, there is the rub: Justin Trudeau’s lack of political smarts also spells trouble. It is hard to imagine his government lasting a year before we are into a new election.

We live in interesting times.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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