Archive for April, 2020

Learning to love your local MP.

Monday, April 20th, 2020

In our time of need, do you not love the attention we are getting from our local politicians? I am thinking here of your federal member of parliament. This person is your lifeline to the decision makers in Ottawa. No matter what party they might represent, they also represent you. That is their job.

And this dual role is particularly important at this time of need. This is not a time of ‘politics as usual.’ No politician is going around shaking hands and kissing babies. When was the last time, he or she washed that hand? And try to kiss a baby at your peril.

Anything you want to do has to be at least two meters away.

This might be a good time for a serious talk. After all, do you really know why this person wanted to represent you in Ottawa? And you hardly want the usual B.S. about that. Do you know what committees your local member is sitting on and what they hope to achieve in those committees? There is a lot more to being a member of parliament than voting with your party.

If you want to talk about his or her politics, you could lead into it by asking what they think of the leadership position of their party. Even Justin Trudeau needs to be replaced some day. Canadians do not like elitists and they might catch up with the liberal leader soon.

But the most serious leadership problem is owned by the conservatives. These people drove away possible candidates when they made conditions for candidates to compete quite untenable. Their good ship Andrew Scheer is dead in the water and there is nobody left to steer the boat. As soon as there is a light at the end of the covid-19 tunnel, these people have to arrange for a fair fight for leadership.

And then there is the NDP. If you have one of those representing you and your neighbours, this could be fun. Ask what the heck they are going to do for leadership. If he or she tries to sell you Jagmeet Singh, you should vote for some one else next time out.

As for the greens, they might as well sell their services to another party that needs some environmentalists. It would not only make them more useful but it might do some good.

I think if more people took the trouble to meet and talk with their MP, we would have a very different parliament next time.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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“Are we there yet?”

Sunday, April 19th, 2020

That man-child in the American White House reminds me of taking the kids on a road trip. How soon they would tire of their prison in the back seat of the family sedan. And, no matter how many games you had lined up for them, you eventually hear what every parent does not want to hear, the whine, “Are we there yet?”

Donald Trump’s impatience with a pandemic, that has inconvenienced him, should come as no surprise. He has been telling us when it will end practically from before it became too serious for him to ignore. And the fact he belittled the coronavirus from those early stages was just the usual childish reaction to things Trump cannot control.

Lately he has decided to blame the World Health Organization (WHO) for the pandemic. It is hard to tell if he is complaining about them telling him or not telling him what was coming down the turnpike. In a typical Trump reaction, he has cut off the U.S. funding for that very critical body. “That’ll teach ‘em!”

It certainly helps to prove what a lackey vice president Mike Pence can be when he is still at Donald Trump’s beck and call. For him to head up that Gong Show gang running the federal pandemic circus is not only frightening but is liable to extend the pandemic effects in the U.S. for another two years.

One thing is for sure, Mr. Trump is still supposed to be driving the bus in the U.S. until January of 2021. The only thing that he might have in mind is how to stay in office beyond that date.

Of course, many Americans have assured me that Mr. Trump is going to have a very difficult time getting re-elected in November. I am impressed with their confidence, but it seems to me, we heard something similar four years ago. I remember how disappointed we were back then.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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The populism of the coronavirus.

Saturday, April 18th, 2020

We live in an age of populist political solutions but we never expected to have to deal with a populist pandemic. The problem is that a populism pandemic is blind. It strikes the rich and powerful one per cent as easily as the person in poverty. It can kill the old and infirm and the very young, and, carelessly, many in between. It is a leveler.

But it is how the politicians respond to the concerns and needs of their populations at this time that tells you much about them. Their grades are there for all to see.

For that man-child, Trump, in the American White House, his ditty for the day is. “Pandemic, pandemic go away, little Donald wants to play.”

Did you ever expect to see a subdued prime minister such as Boris Johnson in the United Kingdom? He looked a bit rocky after his harrowing experience with covid-19. We will have to wait to see if he learned anything.

Canada’s prime minister sits in the cat bird seat at Rideau Cottage, the nation’s media at his beck and call. His elitist solutions to a financial fix are still allowing hundreds of thousands of Canadians to slip through the sewer grates—the detritus of Canadian humanity. And it is at a time when Bell Canada and other telecommunications companies are reaping the profits—encouraging others to raise prices and profiteer from the silent death.

And then there are the phonies filling in for premiers in Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and Saskatchewan. Their bluster and promises are as hollow as their complaints about reaping the results of inadequate support and control of the long-term care facilities for the old and the frail and the incurable and incompetent in our society. The provinces promote inadequate facilities and pay the caregivers next to nothing—all in the interest of higher profits for their supporters.

Yes, we do measure our society on our treatment of the very young and the very old and those who cannot help themselves. This populist pandemic has found us wanting.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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Jason Kenney puts on his black hat.

Friday, April 17th, 2020

Just when you start to think Alberta premier Jason Kenney is not such a bad guy, he drops a political stink bomb. He says his province can ignore our federal health professionals and do whatever they want. And just the other day, I was saying how good the cooperation is between our federal and provincial leaders. Kenney’s old self took over.

If that blowhard Ford in Ontario can get along with the feds these days, what is sticking in Kenney’s craw? We were thinking he was a good Joe the other day when he shared some surplus personal protective gear with other provinces. The Alberta health care people had seen what was coming and had the good sense to stock up. They have also done a better job on testing for the coronavirus. Albertans are in nowhere near the mess we are in here in Ontario and Quebec.

So why does Kenney have to go back to being a noisy schmuck? The last thing our health care experts, for the feds or provinces, need is someone on the sidelines dissing their efforts. These people are being stretched to the limit these days and they really need our encouragement and cooperation.

Who does Kenney think he is? Donald Trump!

What Kenney does not realize is that many millions are being spend around the world today on possible solutions to the virus. Other health conditions are being set aside as the pandemic takes precedence. You can be very sure if there is a breakthrough on any aspect of covid-19, the federal health people will be informed and they will pass it on to all the provincial ministries. And just as soon as it is available, your health people will have what they need.

All Jason Kenney is doing by what he is saying is setting up Alberta’s health agency to be inundated with every crackpot idea and unfunded research proposal. They really have more important things to do.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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The impatience of Donald Trump.

Thursday, April 16th, 2020

While Canadians have mostly been enjoying the unusual unanimity of their federal and provincial leaders in this time of the pandemic, the situation in the U.S. is reversed. In a frightening replay of the Spanish flu of 100 years ago, the states and their federal government are fighting their own battles. Last time, about 675,000 Americans died. With today’s modern medicine, only 20,000 Americans have died from covid-19, so far. President Trump is impatient for it to be over and wants to declare the pandemic has been beaten.

With the patchwork solutions—or lack of solutions—by the various states, there is no way to reasonably predict any resolution of the pandemic in the country. President Trump will have to keep moving his end dates. He blithely missed his first prediction of Easter. Undaunted, the blowhard-in-chief has now predicted the end of the pandemic is the end of April. He will be likely to keep moving his dates and his followers will believe his excuses.

What he really should be thinking about is the need for the states to agree to mail-in ballots for the November election. The reality is that the Americans are likely to want to vote in unprecedented numbers in November. And if the recent Wisconsin primary experience is any indication, the election officials will be loath to help people mark their ballots. Long line-ups with angry, frustrated voters are not a good idea.

If Trump continues to move his forecast to end of the pandemic, month by month, it could even shake the confidence of some of his followers. If someone lies to you for eight months in a row, would you not be taking his opinion for what it is worth—nothing.

What is really concerning in all of this is that Donald Trump has available to him some of the best medical science laboratories in the world and some of the finest minds in the medical sciences. If he would just listen to these experts for a change, think of the good he could do.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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The good and the ugly in tough times.

Wednesday, April 15th, 2020

It has been more than a few years since I was traveling around Ontario lecturing business students at our universities. At the time, the subject of my lectures was the rarely discussed social responsibility of business. I got the feeling on those journeys that the professors really appreciated some one else handling the subject.

But the subject is bandied around much more today and the argument still continues as to whether it is just good public relations or a genuine desire of business leaders wanting to be a contributing party in their community or communities.

We are certainly seeing some very interesting examples of both good and ugly at this time. Of the good examples, Tim Hortons stands out in doing whatever is necessary to be a good corporate citizen. As it is now foreign-owned Tim’s has had to be very fast on its feet to meet the coronavirus needs head on. Much of what the corporate staff and its franchisees are doing is not visible to the customer at the drive-through window. It is a joint effort and it is paying off.

The critically important steps Tim’s has taken is for truck drivers. They are not only encouraging their walking up to the drive-through window for their double-double but Tim’s have said they are opening their washrooms for the truck drivers. No doubt readers have other examples of good corporate citizens doing what’s right in these times.

But it is also easy to identify the ugly in these times. The example I prefer is Bell Canada. Maybe I have learned to expect the ‘screw you’ attitude from Bell but what is our lifeline today while we are trapped in our homes? The answer is the Internet. Those bastards at Bell have chosen this special time to raise their rates on the Internet. I would call them to complain but for some reason Bell’s business telephone lines are all busy.

Years ago, I visited a friend who had joined Bell Canada in their government relations office. He gave me the tour and I was amazed at the number of people involved. Yet I got the impression that their idea of social responsibility was to make selective political donations.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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A man and his ideas.

Tuesday, April 14th, 2020

Bernie Sanders has taken himself out of the race for the democratic nomination for president. He left his legacy behind. The Vermont senator is probably tired but he can be very proud of what he achieved. He left most of the pundits, arguing about the policies on which presumptive candidate Joe Biden will have to run on this fall and the future of America’s democratic party.

All the party is focused on at this time is making sure presumptive candidate Joe Biden defeats incumbent U.S. president Donald Trump. It has little to do with any strong showing by Biden. It is more a choice of what Sanders was proposing that can carry the day. If Biden, for example, forgets a government run, universal health care system, the voters might, in turn, forget him.

It is the same with the proposed minimum wage. If there is one idea that all voters can understand, it is having a minimum wage that is also one on which people can live. Sure, the republicans can rail against this socialism all they like but voters who are motivated by the idea are more likely to vote than voters who do not care.

Biden’s greatest problem is in bringing out the younger voters. He has to motivate them with ideas not the picture of him in the White House. Much is being said about the geriatric candidates for the presidency but ideas can bridge that age gap. Besides, it is not an argument at this stage. The two major party candidates for president will both be in their 70s and it is a little late to do anything about that.

It was amusing the other day in reading some e-mail threads of conversations on the American side of my family. The writer was proposing that candidates for president should only be between 35 and 65 years of age. And here I had always considered the requirement to be at least 35 was highly discriminatory. And now they want to also discriminate against seniors?


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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Masking the problem.

Monday, April 13th, 2020

Some advice to progressive bloggers today: Do not get into an argument over wearing face masks in an epidemic. I got e-mails about that one! All, I did was mention in the last paragraph of a commentary that we should not waste time wearing ‘make-believe’ surgical masks. What I was referring to was the suggestion from the American centers for disease control and prevention (CDC) that any home-made mask will do.

When you think about it, that is a typical civil servant’s response to a dim-witted politician. Some senior person at the CDC must have said to another, “The president wants us to approve face masks. As long as the public doesn’t use the good surgical masks, our medical people need, let the public make any fashion statement they want.”

A friend called me the other day and said if he did not know I did not like having my in-box cluttered with jokes, he would have sent me a very funny series about the various masks people are wearing. His favourite was a picture of a couple with matching face masks made with sanitary napkins.

But a far more serious concern is the ignorance of president Donald Trump. He has followers you know! These people are actually sharing fake news articles about the use of hydroxychloroquine. I am no chemist or doctor but, at one time, I sat through the details of many millions of dollars being spent on medical research.

My simple role, as president of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, was to sign the cheques, but I always took an interest in the discussions of the medical specialists. The only problem was that, as president, I also had to listen to every crackpot idea that might have come from otherwise serious researchers, whose ideas had been rejected in peer review.

The simple facts are that what Donald Trump or I think of the proposed hydroxychloroquine treatment does not matter. It is only a review by experienced medical research professionals that counts. Until then we should both shut up about it.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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“The darkness has gathered.”

Sunday, April 12th, 2020

Those were the words of Pope Francis, mentor to the world’s Catholics, who marked the way of the cross Friday in an empty St. Peter’s Square. Not being religious, I usually refrain from commenting on religions. I am making an exception for this Easter.

I do take an interest in world religions. They often get involved in politics. For example, I have always been amazed at how religious conservatives can vote for a hypocrite such as Donald Trump. This man is not just a philanderer and a narcissist, but you will find his Sunday morning worship is usually taken up at one of his golf courses. And religious Americans do not seem to care.

It is also most concerning in this time of the novel coronavirus, that some states in the U.S. are denying the danger of covid-19. These fools are killing their own people. And there are churches in those states that are calling their parishioners to worship. Collecting the simple among us to be struck by the pandemic is gross negligence and murder. There should be no absolution for that.

And we should all be concerned about what is happening in the Muslim world. Iran has already suffered cruelly from the pandemic. This is a theocracy with 20th century technology, run by 17th century theologians. The Middle East is a cauldron threatening constantly to boil over and reach outside its borders. The prophet Muhammad might have proposed a peaceful religion, but its adherents are seething in many areas and calling for jihad and new caliphates. And can Arabia’s Saud family really cancel the Haj?

And what of the subcontinent where a snap lockdown of millions caused panic and a massive migration of itinerant workers. And with a religious fanatic such as Modi in charge in New Delhi, there is no telling the course of the disease for Hindus and Muslims alike.

Politically, it looks as though China and Canada might be coming through the pandemic with the economic capability for fast recovery. Just stay isolated, wash your hands and follow the rules—and there is little harm in a few prayers.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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A phony Ford forges forward.

Saturday, April 11th, 2020

It is hard to believe that it is so easy to con Martin Regg Cohn of the Toronto Star. The provincial affairs specialist wrote a piece the other day admiring the new version of premier Doug Ford he is seeing at Queen’s Park. What Regg Cohn is missing is that at a time when the rest of the world is fighting the war against the novel coronavirus, Ontario premier Doug Ford is campaigning as though the next provincial election is less than a month away.

The truth is that Doug Ford despises reporters such as Regg Cohn. I can hear the voice of his late brother Rob Ford at Doug’s ear telling him, “Do not abuse; Use.”

Rob Ford might have been a crack-cocaine smoking doper and a hard-drinker but he was also a very savvy politician. He took along his brother to do a radio program in Toronto and taught him what he needed to know. And Doug Ford, despite being a bellicose boor, learned his lessons. He is hardly a one trick pony today, with the false news on his Twitter feed with its highly biased version of ‘Ontario News Now.’ He is also offering to make special appearances (via telephone) on local radio stations around the province.

But, even if the station has any personnel left who are trained in newsgathering, Doug prefers to be interviewed by the scheduled disc jockeys. These used to be trained professionals years ago but where these ones were trained, or if they were, is a mystery to me. Doug is in control of these appearances. It is some of the worst political BS, I have heard in recent years. To listen to the premier talk so rapturously about our MPP—the less than adequate attorney general, our local member of the legislature. It is enough to get you to do a visual review of your breakfast.

And these amateur disc jockeys love it. Ford flatters them. His histrionics over covid-19 are embarrassing. His ignorance is relatively well hidden. He just follows the advice from the last century by author Dale Carnegie, to flatter fools fulsomely.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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