Archive for August, 2020

Oh America!

Monday, August 31st, 2020

Watching events on the south side of the White House the other night was traumatic. My American mother had taught all six of her children that the Canada-U.S. border was largely irrelevant. We have all crossed that border so many times throughout out our lifetimes.

It was for our 50th wedding anniversary that I took my wife on a tourist’s tour of Washington. I had been in that city so many times on business over the years, I had never had the opportunity to enjoy it and its monuments as a tourist.

It was on the way back from that trip, during an otherwise pleasant drive through the Appalachians, that I also discovered that New York State still allowed speed traps on its highways to improve the profitability of local municipalities. I have not driven in New York State since.

But as for the abomination on the south lawn of the White House the other day, it was just once more that Mr. Trump has given the bird to America. It reminded me of the images of the Reichstadium in Berlin, when rigged out for rallies by the Nazi youth movement in the late 1930s. Massed flags such as that have always spelled fascism to me.

The worst was having his bottle-blond daughter introduce him. What turned my stomach was her claim that the “The best is yet to come.”

But then the entire show that evening was like staying at a Holiday Inn. You got what you expected.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

A sharp turn to the left?

Sunday, August 30th, 2020

Bloomberg News must be concerned. The business news people are reporting, that under the new management of Justin Trudeau and Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s economy will take a decisive lurch to the left. The only delaying factor that might have held up that lurch was obviously Bill Morneau, whom Freeland replaced as finance minister.

Bloomberg now considers Ms. Freeland firmly established as the prime minister’s most trusted lieutenant and “Ms. Fix-It.” They are betting that Canada’s economy will be ‘equitable and green’ under the new finance minister.

As much as I hate to rain on Ms. Freeland’s parade, it is not all that simple. The major stumbling point is that Goddamn TransMountain pipeline. Exactly how many billions the prime minister is willing to spend on that abomination has yet to be determined. There is certainly nothing green or equitable about that!

Freeland has to recognize that negotiating with that scuzzball Jason Kenney in Alberta is a no-win situation. That guy would hate Trudeau even if he adopted him and made him his heir.

There will be many challenges flung at Ms. Freeland in her new position. The least of these challenges will be as to her qualifications for the job. The writing of Plutocrats in 2012 might just be considered envy rather than credentials.

Nor should we be so quick to laud her negotiations with the Trump regime in the United States over the new NAFTA rules. You just do what you should always do with a bully: walk around him.

I figure that there are two jobs for Ms. Freeland. Number one is to get us through this pandemic. Number two is to set this nation on a path that pulls our country together and united. Canada has much to accomplish in the years ahead. Let us do it together.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

A fond farewell to Joe Atkinson.

Saturday, August 29th, 2020

As an undeniable Torontonian, I have always had a special place for the Toronto Star. Sure, I have worked for the Globe and Mail, written for the long-dead Toronto Telegram but my oracle was the Star. As Canada’s Numero Uno daily newspaper, it has been my lynch pin with my country and my principles. The Star ran a eulogy for the Atkinson Principles at the beginning of August in the form of a full-page advertisement for the paper.

With the headline: Different times. It also went on to try to embrace “Enduring truths.” These are truths that the owners of the Toronto Star for the past 50 years have now abandoned. They are also my truths:

  1. A strong, united and independent Canada. (We need to keep working on that one.)
  2. Social Justice. (An ongoing battle.)
  3. Individual and civil liberties. (For all.)
  4. Community and civic engagement. (And always check both sides of arguments.)
  5. The rights of working people. (Make that all people.)
  6. The necessary role of government. (Not too big and not too small, it has to be just right.)

But will the new owners respect these more than a century-old truths? Why would they? These people are in the money game. They are players, not journalists. They are gambling on the potential for profit from a precious commodity, information. And information is only as good as its source.

I feel the five families who rescued Joe Atkinson’s legacy over 50 years ago have let us down. They have ended their struggle to keep the legacy alive. Their intent was honourable but, in the end, they have failed us.

We can look at what Paul Godfrey and his American friends have done to PostMedia for their own ends and wonder how long the new owners of the Star will try to work within the Atkinson legacy.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

That Tool, O’Toole.

Friday, August 28th, 2020

Hypocrite, thy name is conservative. If you did not know where all that bullshit about equal rights at the new conservative leader’s first news conference came from, you have not been paying attention. Erin O’Toole had all the tricks lined up for him to make him conservative leader and leader of the opposition in parliament.

The Durham, Ontario MP had no sooner declared his intent to run for the federal conservative leadership, than he headed west to check with his mentor, premier Jason Kenney of Alberta. Kenney promised him solid support from the vote-rich conservative party membership across western Canada.

The party organization did its usual careless job on the voting system. They not only found themselves in a six-hour time delay—that brought out the new leader after midnight—but it was a system guaranteed to select the least controversial leader. It was the same weighted-constituency (each riding allocated 100 points). It was the same foolish preferential voting system that gave them Andrew Scheer as leader last time. You would hope that people who think they know everything would learn from their mistakes.

It was concerning, at first, that there were only four people in the race. Former playboy cabinet member, Peter MacKay was the obvious front-runner—if only for bring the best known of the candidates. As long as the two social conservatives stayed in the race, O’Toole had the chance to come through as the compromise. And they did the job required.

If you do not agree with me as to how this leadership was won, you will have to reread what O’Toole told prime minister Trudeau when they talked as leader to leader. O’Toole stressed his concern about western alienation and Jason Kenney’s need for pipelines to get his tar sands gunk to market.

Sorry, I am not impressed with the conservative choice of leader. Maybe he reminds me too much of the Porky Pig character who ended the Looney Tunes cartoons with “That’s all folks!”

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

I’m Ba-ack.

Thursday, August 27th, 2020

The reports of my demise have been greatly exaggerated. I have spent the past three weeks in hospital. I remember waking up after an operation to put my ankle back together. I was completely disoriented but conscious of the need for a washroom. I remembered where I was when a gaggle of hospital attendants were standing over me, on the washroom floor, asking how the hell I got there.

Having had only brief occasion to assess Barrie’s darling Royal Victoria Hospital in the past, I was unaware of the mess Covid-19 and the Ontario conservatives have wrought. The Ford government has created a guessing game as to what items the hospital will be short-shipped this week.

I think the biggest mistake the hospital has made is furloughing all its local volunteers who had found their way in this stupid maze of a hospital. These people, in their blue vests, were the ambassadors for the hospital to their community. They kept the charity funds flowing and the hospital operating at a high level.

Mind you, there is no earthly rationale for the abdominal food they feed their patients. One wag of a team leader told me that is how the hospital convinces patients to go home. If that had been the case, I would have been home on day two.

And what ever happened to the quaint custom of daily rounds by the doctors? I think I saw a doctor once in over three weeks. I have no idea just where these guys and gals hide. They seem to work as ancient alchemists hiding in the background, creating new and more insidious mixes of pills to confuse your bowels. Frankly, I am tired of discussing my bathroom habits with youngsters in tight scrubs who are the same age as my grandsons.

Maybe tomorrow, I will come up with something acerbic about our politicians

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

Never confuse Kenney with Trump.

Saturday, August 1st, 2020

One of my favourite writers wrote in a Toronto Star op-ed the other day that she thought Alberta premier Jason Kenney is the closest thing Canadians have to Donald Trump. As much as I hate to argue the case, Ontario’s premier Doug Ford holds those honours. Neither Ford nor Trump had the background or experience for their job. Neither is competent.

And neither Ford nor Trump can hold a candle to Kenney in terms of political experience and sleaze. Kenney knows what he is doing. From the first day, after leaving Ottawa for Alberta politics, he hit the ground running. He is a textbook demagogue.

Kenney knows how and when to stab his allies in the back. He knows how to build the coalitions of power. Sure, he panders to the one per cent. He is their lap dog. With the rest of us, he bares his teeth and dares us to challenge him.

My greatest disappointment with Linda McQuaig’s op-ed the other day was that what she was saying was old news. Haven’t Albertans known for years that any profit from the tar sands goes to out-of-province investors? Albertans get the few jobs and the crumbs from the table.

The current provincial government and previous ones have made a myth of the supposed oil treasure locked in the tar sands. To continue this false news through the $30 million being spent on Jason Kenney’s Canadian Oil Centre war room is an insult to the intelligence of Albertans and all Canadians. Albertans should be hitting the streets though, objecting to the billions of their money, Kenney and Trudeau are wasting on pipelines to nowhere!

But Kenney is busy. He would rather fight with the province’s doctors than help them fight Covid-19.

He thinks he can get the post-Trump government in Washington to approve the completion of the TC Energy pipeline connection to the Texas Gulf ports. These are but the delusions of a demagogue.

People across Canada share the concern for how repeated Alberta governments have denied the province a balanced, stable economy. The tar sands never were the answer.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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