Archive for December, 2019

Trudeau hears from Harder.

Tuesday, December 31st, 2019

Former government leader of the senate, Peter Harder had some advice for Justin Trudeau as he retired from the senate. He expressed the hope that the prime minister might consider more people with political experience be appointed to the senate. That is the point I have been making for the past five years.

But I would hardly have included someone such as Frances Lankin from Ontario, who was in the cabinet of NDP premier Bob Rae in the 1990s. In my experience, she ran the most politicized and worst ministries in the Rae government. Her presence in Canada’s senate might not be a plus.

And for an elitist such as Justin Trudeau, her appointment might not be the smartest thing he has ever done.

What Harder was complaining about in his farewell to the senate was that there were already too many senators with their own agendas. He thinks the PM should consider adding more people with some political experience. The former senator thinks they would better understand just why the senate exists and what they are expected to do there.

Of course, there are millions of Canadians who also wonder why the senate exists and why we should be wasting tax money on it. After all, why did we elect all those people to the house of commons if an elitist senate is going to pass judgement on what they do?

Even if Justin Trudeau might agree with that, he has absolutely no intention of opening up the Canadian constitution to make any changes. He is hardly his father’s son. He has neither the wisdom nor the intestinal fortitude to tackle the task of updating our constitution.

The younger Trudeau has seemed to be more of a political dilettante and an elitist. His elitist committee that chooses people from which Trudeau can choose independent senators probably does not know of any particularly deserving politicians.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Unity in the eye of the beholder.

Monday, December 30th, 2019

It was June 17, 2019 and I rarely watch any television during the day but curiosity had me turn it on—and the wife and I were caught up in the most amazing event. Born in Toronto, we have always considered it to be our city. On this day we shared that ownership with several million other Torontonians—and many more millions of Canadians.

At the time I turned it on, the parade organizers were trying to figure out how to get the old double-decker buses safely through the thousands of people around the Princes’ Gate of the Canadian National Exhibition grounds—where the parade was supposed to have already passed through.

But this was a day of celebration and the basketball players on top of those buses were already partying. This was great fun. And where did all these people come from? Well, they had not seen anything yet.

Okay, we all know Toronto traffic is getting worse every day. Those buses took four hours to get to Toronto city hall. People were crowding into Nathan Phillips Square before the buses were out of the Ex. It got me worried as to whether the city had arranged for enough portable toilets. And how could the hot dog vendors arrange for more supplies?

We listened to hoop star Kawhi Leonard. We were awed by the uncountable crowds. We were proud. We were all basketball fans that day.

The funny thing is, my wife was the one who encouraged me to turn on the last couple games in the NBA championship series. I never was a basketball fan. I was always a bit chunky as a kid and I was built better for baseball and football. And we had only been to one Raptor game in downtown Toronto. Who can afford pro-sports tickets?

But I saw Canadian unity that day in June. We were all Raptor fans. We were all happy to boo premier Ford and cheer Toronto’s mayor and Canada’s prime minister. We could all agree as Canadians that having our basketball players beat all the American teams was great. Stick that in your hairdo Donald Trump!

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Kenney warns “Canada oil, gas sector has no future.”

Sunday, December 29th, 2019

The Canadian Press quoted Alberta premier Jason Kenney recently on his pessimism about federal approval of the proposed Frontier mine in Northern Alberta. The proposed open-pit mine, north of Fort McMurray, would be Canada’s largest and could produce 260,000 barrels of bitumen per day for processing into synthetic oil.  It would also produce more than four million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions every year for the next forty years.

The choice for the federal government is considered quite simple. The feds can blow their way past any hope of meeting any “Net Zero by 2050” emissions standards. What makes the decision even tougher is the giving up of $12 billion in federal tax revenues and another $55 billion in Alberta tax and royalty revenues.

Mind you, Jason Kenney doesn’t give a damn about the federal government’s problem. Just pass him the money.

This new Teck Frontier mine will eventually take up 292 square kilometres (112 square miles) of wetlands and boreal forest. It will require 7000 employees to get it up and running and then 2500 employees for the 40-year life projected for the mine.

The only approvals awaited are those of the federal-provincial task force studying the deal and then the federal cabinet.

The only question mark that remains unanswered is when is Kenney going to tell us that he could do a better job for Alberta in the house of commons in Ottawa. The guy seems to spend more time polishing his federal profile than taking his job as premier seriously. With some 18 years of experience in the house of commons, he was not only Stephen Harper’s go-to guy but he built a strong campaign base for himself in that time.

The Trudeau government has until late February to make a decision about the Teck proposal. That also might be the logical time for the cut-off on candidates for the federal conservative party leader. An experienced campaigner such as Kenney could handle that.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

How much is too much, Mr. Trudeau?

Saturday, December 28th, 2019

Justin Trudeau has obviously not had a really wonderful 2019. As far back as September 2018, the prime minister asked his justice minister, Jody Wilson-Raybould to reconsider her position on not interfering in the upcoming prosecution of SNC-Lavalin for corrupt practices. Trudeau insisted that the intent was to save jobs in Quebec. Wilson-Raybould appeared to have no idea how tight large corporations are with politicians in Quebec.

It was mid January, 2019 that Wilson-Raybould was replaced as justice minister by former law professor David Lametti, an MP from Montreal. She was demoted to veterans-affaires. And the prime minister’s year went side-ways. It brought his support for feminism into question.

He was already in enough trouble for his dress-up antics on his trip to India the previous year. He hardly needed to have someone dig up old pictures of him in black-face at a party in Vancouver back when he was teaching there.

And it was in Vancouver where he was facing the most objections to his support for the Trans-Mountain pipeline. It was a red flag to environmentalists from coast to coast.

Throughout the year, the prime minister was under constant direct attack by conservative provincial premiers. The only one that laid back was Ontario conservative premier Doug Ford. It was the federal conservatives who asked him to hold back his criticism as it was hurting the federal conservatives more than the liberals.

But despite all the good vibes, Elizabeth May did not capitalize on her best chance to grow the greens in parliament. She only grew her caucus by 50 per cent and she gracefully resigned.

Conservative Chuckles Scheer grew his caucus, won the popular vote and then succumbed to the savagery of his caucus. He resigned.

We are waiting for the guy who lost a third of his caucus, Jagmeet Singh, to do the honourable thing and resign.

But the guy who really blew it and should have resigned back before the election is sitting in the prime minister’s office in Ottawa. It is a temporary position. He is the one who really should resign.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

It’s your turn Jagmeet Singh.

Friday, December 27th, 2019

Luckily there was not too much blood spilt when the conservatives divested themselves of the embarrassment of Chuckles Scheer. Surely the leader of the new democrats can now consider what is the honourable thing for him to do.

The point has been made that Chuckles did his best. He won the popular vote across Canada. (Basically because of the overkill of liberalism across the barren Prairies.) He reduced the liberals to a minority. No matter. His job was to win and he failed, Scheer is toast.

Where does that leave Jagmeet? After what that party did to Tom Mulcair, Jagmeet should be lucky to get out of the next party meeting with his pants. He lost a third of his parliamentary caucus and the two thirds he has left do not like him.

Maybe Singh will lobby the party to move its 2020 gathering from Charlottetown to Brampton, Ontario. It might give him a better chance to hang on to his job.

But even if he could win, what future can Singh offer the new democrats? Do they even have a role to play? Does the party have any plans for the future?

The caucus has seen no such plan from Singh but they are not the rank and file. The Leap Manifesto is still being carried as some sort of cross by the party but so far it is only words. The most active aspect is dental and prescription medicine care to be championed by Ottawa but that also requires provincial support. Without a strong and coordinated campaign at both the federal and provincial levels of the party, the NDP initiative is a waste of time.

The NDP would be far better to deregister as a political party and sign up as liberals both federally and in their respective provinces. They would hardly swamp the individual parties but another 10,000 or so left-leaning liberals could pull the liberal party much further to the left than it has been in the past. It would be a party with a sharper edge and more of a ‘let’s do it’ attitude.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

The year that was.

Thursday, December 26th, 2019

It’s been a tough year. Commenting on politics in such a fluid situation as we find in North America and Europe requires considerable dedication. It is also getting expensive and more time consuming to keep abreast of rapidly changing circumstances.

The idea was that I had a leg up because of my expertise in the political ground game and experience in Ottawa and Washington. The only problem is that our current crop of politicians is inventing brand new games. We can become just as confused by their antics as the talking heads who are paid to comment.

And those of us who labour over our blogs are getting some unfair competition from the news media in the form of free newsletters. So far, they have not been monetizing these efforts, but when they do, life for bloggers will return to normal. By ‘normal’ I mean the usual complaints and kudos about our opinions.

Babel-on-the-Bay also gets the occasional complaint about our policy of not providing space for people to complain about our opinions. Mostly, we get interesting e-mails both pro and con as well as when we make a boo-boo. A good example was the guy who must be from Ingersoll, Ontario who tells me they are still assembling some General Motors SUVs down there. I seem to also remember some government funding for that CAMI plant when it was built for GM and Suzuki.

But to me, General Motors’s last gasp was in Oshawa where it had made the deal with Colonel Sam McLaughlin. The company has broken its trust with Canadians. It will take much more that a few SUVs in Ingersoll, to restore our faith in General Motors.

And we are happy to say that kudos from Babel-on-the-Bay readers outweigh complaints by about three to one. Mind you, I obviously have a good number of new democrat readers as I get the most complaints from them.

If I am looking for some interesting arguments, I just have to run a comment about voting systems that are not as good as first-past-the-post. That brings out readers from all levels of politics. They tried out preferential voting in London, Ontario last year. They found the results were the same as though they had used first-past-the-post. I could have told them that.

But I find that, in politics, there are many things that people have to figure out for themselves.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

‘You’re a mean one,’ Mr. Trump.

Wednesday, December 25th, 2019

It is a surprise that nobody has taken that novelty Christmas song about the Dr. Seuss character who did not like the Who having Christmas and simply substituted ‘Mr. Trump’ for ‘Mr. Grinch.’

But here it is Christmas and it is the proper thing to find something nice to talk about. We simply cannot have Grinchy topics over our turkey dinner. It would not be appropriate. And it could cause indigestion.

So, we have searched hard and long and we finally found something nice to say about Mr. Trump. He might be a greedy bugger but his greed is paying off for me. Have you seen the stock market recently?

I think I finally got some improved earnings in a surprisingly robust market. It is my first substantial raise in earnings in the last 30 years. I used to think I had the anti-Midas touch when it came to the stock market. Anything I touched immediately changed to dust.

You really got to hand it to that slimy bastard Trump. He insults world leaders, toys with despots, defies Congress and scares the Fed. He thinks he can bully the bankers to keep down interest rates.

And it worked, we have a hot market heading for the election in the United States in November 2020. After that, all bets are off. All that Trump is focussed on is getting re-elected. A hot market up to then can help him.

He promised those dummies who supported him that he would make America great again. So far it has been fabulous for multi-millionaires and not-so-bad for us retirees. (And I’m only really getting the spillover to the Canadian market.)

But as a consequence, he has also got more people working in America and he has had to cool it on the trade wars because it finally got through to him that trade wars stifle growth.

Mind you, don’t let the Christmas spirit get you saying anything you might regret next year. Americans still have to get rid of that cretin Trump next November.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Our royal watchers are in a tizzy.

Tuesday, December 24th, 2019

Doesn’t it make you feel all warm and fuzzy to know that we have royals visiting Canada this Christmas? Yes, our prime minister welcomed them. He gets a selfie with Meghan and Harry. Why can’t you get a selfie too?

Because you aren’t supposed to see them. They are incognito and where they are in this country is a state secret. Would it not be simpler if we were not told they are here? That way, if you happen to see them, you would just say that nice couple remind me of some other couple. I am not sure who.

So instead of having a pleasant little visit with friends in Canada, the Duke and Duchess are the subject of a treasure hunt. We have spies for the media hunting high and low for where they might be. You can imagine how many media people are camped out in the cold near certain Mulroney family households in Toronto.

There is a prize for the first news photographer who gets pictures of the couple with their togues pulled down over their ears. Get Archie in the picture and you get a bonus. And check for the baby bump when you see the duchess. Rumour has it that its another royal on the way.

But it all seems so very foolish for Canadians to get excited about British royalty. The whole thing smacks of Hollywood press agentry. It is all so trite and inconsequential. Is it not unusual that certain people can be born to be oohed and awed over? It seems overdone Kardashian!

I think it is overdone foolishness for Canada to pretend it has royals. Are we that desperate to have a head to put on our coinage? I can think of many worthy Canadian prime ministers we could put on the $20 bill.

And we have certainly had enough foolishness with the $10 bill. Sir John A. Macdonald deserves better treatment.

It is good that we are part of the Commonwealth and it is a trading opportunity that we should maintain and extend. We might be better to dump relations with the Brits until they can get their act together in relation to the European Union.

But if you want to be so loyal and curtsy to British royalty, it really does look silly.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Lest we forget, Charest.

Monday, December 23rd, 2019

It is likely to be a frosty Friday when Canada’s conservatives turn to former Quebec premier Jean Charest. They are just not that desperate, yet. It will be a while before the full field of candidates emerges for the race to replace Chuckles Scheer.

Canada’s conservatives want a winner to lead their party. Scheer brought them to more seats in the house of commons, he brought them to winning the popular vote across Canada, he reduced the autocratic Trudeau liberals to a minority and it still was not good enough for his party. He was torn from office like by a pack of wolves. He was culled from the herd as though he was found wanting.

But can Charest be that winner? The former conservative, former liberal, is penned in at the gate, ready to rumble in the rodeo.

He brings strengths and knowledge and backers. He is not the new kid in town. He was the wunderkinder from Sherbrook of the Mulroney conservatives of 1984. In two years, he was in Mulroney’s cabinet. When the conservatives where left with two seats after the rout of 1993, Charest was leader of the progressive conservative party. He fought the independence referendum in Quebec as an official of the ‘No’ side. The slim win for the ‘No’ convinced many of Quebec’s major business concerns to look for someone to take on the ruling Parti Québécois. The pressure was put on Charest to move to provincial politics as leader of the Quebec liberals.

And, if you have ever wondered, the conservatives of Quebec are mainly members of the Quebec liberal party. The party there spans the middle ground of politics. It was an easy move for Charest and he took it. He made the move in 1998 but it took him until 2003 to win a majority government for the liberals. He left provincial politics after his liberals were defeated in 2012.

Charest is not going to win followers in the West with his strong stand on environmental issues and his support for Quebec’s special status. And, quite honestly, I think the former wunderkinder, in his 60s, looks tired.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

In a divided America.

Sunday, December 22nd, 2019

Where else would the GOP be? But sitting on Donald Trump’s knee.

The symbiotic relationship involved defies logic. Donald Trump, his followers and the republican party are bound together at the hip. They need each other and they deserve each other. And do not use logic to try to split them asunder.

It is an alliance of red necks and manipulators wallowing in their mutual ignorance. They know only where they have been and not where they are going. It is Christers and the unchurched rabble drinking their Trumpian Kool-Aid. It is self-immolation in a once-powerful nation.

And what does it gain them? The right to Hail Trump!

Trump’s impeachment is like the Crucifixion. All Hail to Trump!

Donald Trump never was a republican. Hail the wisdom of Trump!

Trump never showed any tax returns. Hail the sanctity of Trump!

He never wasted his time in church. Hail the righteousness of Trump!

Donald Trump is always rallying his troops. They give him the reassurance and strength to carry on his fight for a nation that panders to the rich and powerful. Trump followers do not believe everything that Donald Trump tells them. He is Trump, he is omnipotent and a Trump can tell lies and it does not matter.

It is alright for a Trump to hate Muslims. The churches tell us that Christ loved us all. Donald Trump, as the Antichrist, can hate anybody who displeases him. He hates people who defy him. He hates people who try to explain things to him. He hates people who ridicule him. He has many people to hate.

But he is spending this Christmas holiday at his resort in Florida. It is a time when people ask their God for peace on earth and goodwill towards others. He is busy strategizing his role for when the impeachment process moves to the Senate. Even Emperor Trump needs to take a few days off for golf, contemplation and bacchanalia.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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