Archive for February, 2020

Is it ‘The Peoples’ Pipeline?

Sunday, February 9th, 2020

After checking further, it is confirmed that Global Television news anchor Dawna Friesen actually called the Trans Mountain pipeline, ‘the peoples’ pipeline.’ I suppose it seemed appropriate when the following story was that the federal government estimates for twinning the line were now running at 12.6 billion dollars. Remember that it is more than just twinning the line when the plan is to warm the diluted bitumen and force it through the pipes at much higher pressure. Premier Jason Kenney’s Calgary-based propaganda machine seems to be working over-time these days.

When you consider that the Trudeau government has already spent $4.7 billion buying the 66-year old pipeline, an additional 12.6 billion might not be a gamble that smart business managers would take.

It does seem a little deceptive though when local conservative politicians are told to claim that pipelines are a safer way to transport it every time there is another train derailment carrying flammable goods in tank cars. There have been two serious derailments on the main CPR line that runs through Guernsey, Saskatchewan in the last two months. (There is also lots more tank car traffic.)

One question that has never been answered is who is really making money from this bitumen business? The province wants the royalties and taxes yet most of the climate change conscious resource companies have already backed out of the bitumen business. When the giants such as ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell pulled out a few years ago, the attitude has been that there was no profit to be had from the tar sands.  The tar sands account for less than a third of Alberta’s gross domestic product. That should continue to decrease as the world shifts gradually to non-polluting energy sources.

While Jason Kenney and his conservative colleagues continue to threaten and cajole the Trudeau government, it is becoming more and more obvious that the tar sands are not the answer to their greed.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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The motivated American voter.

Saturday, February 8th, 2020

You do recall, do you not, that the voter turnout that elected Donald Trump president four years ago, was the lowest turnout in a presidential election in the past two decades? When less than 60 per cent of voters make the decision in a presidential election, there is lots of room for change in the next. Nothing is guaranteed.

What confounded the politically knowledgeable in that last election was that we did not expect the Trump supporters to have the numbers, the expertise or the information necessary to get out their vote. And they really did not.

But what little impact they had at the time was more than offset by the failure of the democratic party to motivate its base. And, do you really think that base is not going to be motivated this time? We like to assume it, but we simply do not know that yet. As they say, a lot of water will pass under that bridge before we know the answers.

The democratic party is currently mired in America’s archaic and corrupt presidential candidate selection process. It looks like Pete Buttigieg is the first break through in the geriatric wall of Biden, Sanders and Warren but whether he is the answer remains to be seen. He certainly has to make nice with blacks to go anywhere.

But there are many pieces of the puzzle to be put together before you can even make a dent in Emperor Trump’s armour. He is a stranger to the truth and it will not set him free. He is a danger to peace and he abuses America’s friends and allies. He belittles women and uses them. The more lies he tells his followers, the more they drink of his Koolaid.

Politically, we know Trump will fail. The question is, will the democrats succeed? Will they come together and get behind their party’s choice? Will they have a clear, concise and understandable platform? Will they get out their vote? Will they win the undemocratic College of Electors?


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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It costs less than a house and you feel welcome.

Friday, February 7th, 2020

Huh? Sorry, I might have dozed off there. I was dreaming of running to be the leader of the Green Party of Canada. I will just have to run a “Go Fund Me” page for the $50,000. entry fee. It sure is a lot cheaper than the conservatives. They want $300,000 up front in that race.

But cheapness is not the only enticement. This vehicle has only been driven by a single elected leader. Elizabeth May drove it with great skill and determination. She took it from the ranting and roaring on training wheels stage into the hallowed halls of parliament.

But she had a hell of a time getting the party into lock step behind her. These people have to learn some discipline. They have to learn about the realities of power. And they have to realize that actual actions outweigh fuzzy objectives. They also need to learn to synchronize their social media postings.

My first problem might be the party’s vetting committee. Getting by these worthies (no matter whom they might be!) could be a challenge. Their secret is they are secret and their deliberations are secret and their decisions are secret. And, frankly, they should stay secret and go away. These people have never realized that the public want politicos who are open, transparent, honest and never beat their spouse.

The idea of having these exorbitant entry fees is to discourage charlatans and thrill seekers from running for the publicity or just the heck of it. It is also necessary for you to show off your skills as a person who knows how to separate the wealthy from their ill-gained loonies. Just why the leader should also be the chief fund-raiser is left unsaid.

What does not seem to worry any of the possible candidates is party policy. They all seem to be in tune with Green is good. As for the rest of it, they are all over the map.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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Politician or diplomat for Washington?

Thursday, February 6th, 2020

It has always been the argument. Does Canada need a diplomat or a political apparatchik representing us in the American capital? I also expect some humourist to suggest we go back to having the British Embassy in Washington represent us.

Canada was a footnote at the British Embassy in Washington until Vincent Massey presented his credentials to the U.S. State Department in November 1926. Massey was ranked as an envoy. I had fun 25 years ago in my book My American Mother, creating a fictious conversation between, then foreign affaires employee, Lester B. Pearson and my book’s hero. Pearson is telling the fellow foreign affairs employee why Vincent Massey hated Washington in the summer months.

If he were alive today, Massey would be more than pleased with the modern—and fully air-conditioned—Canadian Embassy at 501 Pennsylvania Avenue.

But the argument today is whether we should have a politico or a diplomat, representing us as ambassador. And believe me, we have had the good and the bad of both over the last 90 some years. What makes the argument more fun is appointments such as prime minister Jean Chrétien appointing his nephew Raymond. Chrétien, the foreign affaires employee, was fully qualified for the posting.

And that is saying more than we would for some of the political appointments over the years. Michael Wilson, the conservative finance minister for Brian Mulroney—who ran up some of the biggest deficits for Canadians—should have been sent further away than that by prime minister Stephen Harper.

Many liberals were disappointed when David McNaughton was sent to Washington after his less than stellar job on the 2015 liberal election campaign. Luckily that campaign did not require much effort. That seemed to me to be what he gave it.

The current discussion is whether civil servant and acting ambassador Kirsten Hillman should be named ambassador. She is the one who really provides the expert advice any way.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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Can the Tory race get more boring?

Wednesday, February 5th, 2020

This is ridiculous. So far, this is not a race, it is more like a baby crawl. The conservative party of Canada, midwifed by Stephen Harper at the turn of the century, has fallen on hard times. And, so far, only one of the two candidates has ponied up his $300,000 fee for the privilege of contesting for the party leadership.

But look what the race has to offer. They are Mr. Bland and Mr. Blander. They are white bread loaves on a multi-grain shelf. In a country going forward, the conservatives are reaching back to the past.

It was over 20 years ago that Peter MacKay served up the Progressive Conservative Party of the past to the ravages of Harper and his hard-nosed western posse of Reform. As Jean Charest discovered recently this is not his PC party of the 1990s. He looked, he saw, he fled.

The apparatchiks of the conservative hegemony—with the greed of its westerners, the narrow focus of the social conservatives and the ‘quid pro quo’ of its financiers—tried to keep Pierre Poilievre in the race for some balance. They failed. Poilievre is a westerner who had come east to where his name made it easier to get elected. He now found himself caught between easterners—like a weasel between two hamsters. They could have smothered him.

And did we mention Erin O’Toole MP? He is not to be disturbed at the moment. He is beating the bushes for the angels his campaign needs to compete. It is no small step.

But what the conservatives really need is leadership. The only thing the party can possibly offer its supporters is a path to power. Without someone capable of producing that result, this leadership race is just another race to nowhere.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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The greed that consumes Alberta.

Tuesday, February 4th, 2020

It was at the end of December that Babel-on-the-Bay discussed the hopes of Alberta premier Jason Kenney for the Teck Frontier mine in North-East Alberta. The proposed open-pit tar sands mine, north of Fort McMurray, would be Canada’s largest and is planned to produce 260,000 barrels of bitumen per day for processing into synthetic oil.  It has also been mentioned that the operations would also produce more than four million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions every year for the next forty years.

It is quite obvious that the political leaders of Alberta have their own climate agenda—do nothing—get the money.

Some Albertans will attempt to tell you that they have been mitigating to minimize the greenhouse gas emissions of this project. Mitigating means reducing the harm that this amount of greenhouse gas emissions can cause. Can they tell you of even one of the millions of tonnes of greenhouse emissions from which our earth will be saved?

And yet the federal government is continuing to debate the wisdom of approving the project. Despite the continuing threats of insurrection and separation from the Alberta premier, there are still members of the federal cabinet who are resisting this additional hypocrisy that will make a lie of any and all efforts to reduce Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions. There is no magic that will enable Canada to get to net zero greenhouse emissions when we are adding such huge amounts of pollution instead of converting to clean energy.

We need to remember that this 20 billion-dollar project is on top of federal government completing the Trans Mountain pipeline. How else do you think all that additional bitumen would get to world markets.

But despite the protestations of the prime minister, Kenney continues to accuse him of dragging his feet on the Trans Mountain. The only conclusion you can come to is that, in Alberta, Justin Trudeau will never be the poster boy of the year. Greed is the watchword.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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Fool Britannia.

Monday, February 3rd, 2020

Brexit has come. Brexit is gone. And what does it mean? Has the English Channel widened? Are they filling in the Chunnel? Are the Chunnel trains still running? What does it all mean and do we care on the west side of the Atlantic?

It seems unfair that the Brits will have to prostrate themselves before a jury of their peers in Brussels, to learn their fate. They have most of the year left to work out some accommodation. If I were in their position, I would not want a clown such as Boris Johnson to work out the details. He is no negotiator. He is a blowhard.

I remember when, as a youngster in Canada, we were taught patriotic songs about Britannia ruling the waves and all that stuff. I guess the only waves they can rule today would have to be in a wave pool.

But we do feel badly over here that the United Kingdom has come to this. The nation never has played well with its continental partners. Maybe there is too much history involved.

What has to be recognized is that much of the support for Brexit came from false perceptions of the benefits and requirements for a successful partnership. My feeling was that the UK politicos who never took part in the EU structure undermined the bureaucrats in Brussels. Instead of discouraging the bigotry, they encouraged it and instead of helping sell the benefits of the common market, they put it down.

Johnson hailed the fact of Brexit as a new beginning. I thought that the Brits had their real beginning when the Romans went back to Rome to get dry and warm. You can call the next 2000 years on those islands interesting but you can hardly call them progressive. Have you ever seen another country so determined to fight progress every step of the way, year after year?

Well, they just took another step backwards in time. What does that benefit them?


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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‘If the system works; corrupt it.’

Sunday, February 2nd, 2020

The carpetbagger from Severn, Ontario is certainly doing the job for Ontario premier Doug Ford. Those conservatives who resented the appointment of Doug Downey as conservative candidate in our riding of Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte would have to agree that he is jumping to his master’s bidding. Look at what he is attempting to pass off as an independent recommendation in changing how we appoint judges in this province.

It must all stem from the complaints when Doug had barely warmed the premier’s chair and he tried to appoint a friend as head of the provincial police. This was accompanied by a request for the provincial police to fund a van with sleeping accommodations for the premier to travel about the province.

He might have gotten away with it if his attorney general at the time, Caroline Mulroney, had been trained in law in Canada and had ever practiced law anywhere other than New York State. As you can imagine, the premier’s wishes were soon a hilarious topic around the water coolers in the attorney general’s ministry, and then the Bay Street bars, and then everyone knew. It took a while to figure out what to do with Brian Mulroney’s kid but Ford found another job for her.

And then Ford found the perfect patsy, the small-town lawyer he had appointed to my riding to keep Patrick Brown from running to succeed himself. This guy probably never even looks up from his notes when his driver drives through his riding on Highway 400 on his way from his office at Queen’s Park to his home in Severn.

But his proposed changes in appointing judges has got him noticed. As is typical of the Doug Ford government, nobody had complained about how judges are appointed. Ontario has an international reputation for how it appoints judges. It has a respected judicial appointments advisory committee that screens applicants and ranks at least two qualified applicants for each open position for the attorney general. In the rare case, the attorney general might ask for more.

The proposed change is that the attorney general wants a list of all the qualified applicants for the position. That is recreating the old patronage system. It is many steps backwards for Ontario.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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Can an atheist claim ‘divine right?

Saturday, February 1st, 2020

This might not be a theological question. How can a well-known American lawyer stand in front of the senate and the nation and tell us a man elected by the self-serving rabble of America, is really the choice of God? When Alan Dershowitz defended Donald Trump in his senate trial by claiming that he was not guilty of abuse of office because of his divine right as president, he held the country up to ridicule by the rest of the world.

But the problem with God selecting Mr. Trump to be the leader of the world is not for him to be the next Noah and build an ark. Donald Trump is the flood.

Thankfully, the white house will not float. Nor will any of the Trump pleasure palaces up and down the east coast of America.

The last English-speaking person to be defended on the claim of divine right of kings was Charles 1 of England. A week or so after using that defence, Charles stepped out a window and they chopped off his head.

Since they stopped beheading kings with delusions, we have been more practical about this divine right business. What it comes down to in today’s world is a basic contract. If you choose, or a party chooses you to run for a certain political position, there is a usually a defined role applied in that position. Nobody gets a carte blanche to do as they wish in any position. It would not make sense.

The theory is that the public purse pays you a defined amount during the contract to carry out the job. No matter how high up the position and generous the salary, nobody pays you to break the law. There is no place in this contract that allows God to intercede and bestow additional powers on you or enable God to forgive you your crimes.

We do have to admit though that Donald Trump has led something of a charmed life. There are people who consider him a thief and a scoundrel. He is a womanizer and person who has been known to scoff at those who obey the Ten Commandments. Maybe, it is about time, God got in a few licks of His own.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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