Archive for September, 2020

The shaming of America.

Wednesday, September 30th, 2020

The quality of entertainment in America has gone down hill. By no stretch of the term ‘debate’ does one refer to an opponent as ‘that clown.’ Despite this egregious error, former vice-president Joe Biden came out of the first contact with Donald Trump with his game plan intact and looking like a potential winner.

The moderator won the argument with Mr. Trump about the environment. This was the unexpected subject and one wherein Mr. Trump made few interruptions. Trump came across as defensive and ill prepared. He had been thrown off his game plan.

Mr. Biden had a few good zingers in his plan but was a bit off-stride in the early going. He did not seem prepared for just how far Trump would go to try to take the debate away from him. At first, no subject was safe.

At one point it appeared as though the former vice-president was prepared to walk out on the debate. That would have been pointless and proved nothing. It would have helped Mr. Trump.

And there was no point in making the case that Mr. Trump was a rude and ignorant opponent. That was there for all to see.

It will be interesting to see the drop off in viewers of the next two debates.

But I cannot see anything helpful in beating on this event.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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I am ANTIFA and proud of it.

Tuesday, September 29th, 2020

Donald Trump and his fascist supporters in the United States have been complaining about the antifascist and the radical left causing the recent troubles in the U.S.A. Listening to that guy complain about the antifascists and the radical left can make me feel warm and loved all day. Where he got the term antifa from is my only question?

I have been part of the radical left since my early days in politics. My only problem is that I cannot find a truly radical-left-wing group to join in Canada today. I think there were more of us when I first joined Canada’s liberal party. One of my first projects for the party was helping produce the Liberal Action monthly paper.

There were those who laughed at the effort but Medicare was one of the elements of left-wing policy that we successfully pushed. I remember the distain right-wing liberals such as Mitch Sharpe showed for my efforts. Yet, in the long run, it was Medicare that won.

More recently it was the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) that appealed to us on the left. We saw CERB as a first step towards a guaranteed annual income for Canada. At the next meeting of the federal liberals in Canada (hopefully after the pandemic is over) we should see a strong push by both the parliamentary wing and the rank and file to make Pharmacare and a guaranteed annual income liberal party policy.

But listening to Trump extoll the virtues of ‘antifa’ is really heart warming. I guess he refers to us as antifa because he realizes that there might be lots of Americans who also disapprove of fascism. As part of the radical left, I try not to frighten young children with it. The only fascism that the world has really seen in action was in an Italy, Germany, Romania, and in Spain during the last century. I mention the four examples because all the regimes failed.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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What if we had switched the speeches?

Sunday, September 27th, 2020

Justin Trudeau short changed us. It was so obvious. The speech read by the governor general should have been for the United Nations (UN). It was dull and obvious but better suited to the world body as it lacked enthusiasm, adventure, inspiration or drive. It was boring and so much of it was just a rereading of promises of the past.

The attendees at the UN headquarters in New York last Friday got the gist of what a real throne speech should be. They could enjoy their speech. Presented on giant screens in the main hall, their speech had gravitas and credibility.

Mr. Trudeau delivered the speech to the UN and he put an effort into it. His words were important. His premise was that the pandemic has exposed the failures of humans to make the systems they had created for the UN to work. They are not working for the countries of the UN.

Trudeau might as well have said to Canadians that the systems to make the Canadian Federation work more that 150 years ago have also failed us. And it is our politicians who are to blame. They fear the need to modernize. They fear change.

The Canadian prime minister told the United Nations members that the world is in crisis. He did not admit that to Canadians two days earlier.

But facing facts, how many politicians do we know who will admit they do not have a clue on how to fix the world’s problems.

Mr. Trudeau called for a new way of thinking “on climate, inequality and health.”

He complained that “to often, concerted action is blocked—the needs of our citizens are denied.” He said this was because there are few consequences for countries that ignore international rules.

He made direct reference to countries that find few consequences when opposition figures are being poisoned “while cyber tools and disinformation are being used to destabilize democracies.”


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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It’s not about Alberta, Mr. Kenney.

Friday, September 25th, 2020

It is a shame that the voters in Alberta have not told Jason Kenney the hard truth. He has to understand that he took responsibility for Alberta’s economic problems when he became premier. If he is unable to solve those economic problems, then the people of Alberta should find someone who can.

Kenney thinks he can just blame the rest of Canada and the prime minister for all Alberta’s problems. Why?

Kenney called the liberal government’s throne speech “A fantasy plan for a mythical country.” There were many who disliked the speech. They would really like to know what is fantasy about it? Instead of counting the words in the throne speech, Mr. Kenney needs to understand that the federal government has to address the current pandemic on behalf of all Canadians.

We understand that Mr. Kenney is not as worried about the pandemic. He just wants the federal government to cover more of Alberta’s health costs. In the meantime, Alberta can continue to have one of the highest per capita incidences of covid-19 and he is not concerned about that?

Is Mr. Kenney just going to accuse the federal government of not taking action on the pandemic? Is this what he claims is fantasy land? Or is he desperate for the federal government to pay for all his health care costs?

It is not as though Mr. Kenney is unaware of the responsibilities of federal and provincial governments in Canada. And it is no surprise that more and more newspaper writers in the province are calling for new thinking about taxes, and the roller coaster ride that Albertans have endured because of the poorly managed energy industry.

The voters in Alberta have to start asking Jason Kenney what he is really doing for them.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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But all we got was business, as usual.

Thursday, September 24th, 2020

It was supposed to be a reset. We were waiting for the grand scheme. Frankly, the Governor General’s speech was boring and really nothing we had not heard before. It took too long to read. It took little time to critique. And the prime minister wasted our time with his recap.

If this stance was chosen as a chance to sucker the opposition into an election, it might make some sense. Neither the leader of the conservatives nor the leader of the bloc québécois seemed sick enough to get any sympathy votes for having caught covid-19. It comes down to the new democrats.  And it is really hard to believe that Jagmeet Singh has the intestinal fortitude to want to force an election.

Nor do we see the new democrat caucus forcing Jagmeet to make the call for an election.

And what would it prove? A few more seats in Ontario for the conservatives would be the only upside for the Tories. A few more losses for the NDP to the liberals. And you end up with the status quo. That would hardly be to anyone’s advantage.

The weasel words on the environment and the oil industry were less that pleasing. It simply meant that the status quo applies which pleases neither Alberta politicians nor environmentalists. Jason Kenney and friends will continue to demand more pipeline support and Justin Trudeau will continue to say he is an environmentalist.

The major promise will be the day-care support from the federal government. This has to happen.

The only other promise of interest was the promise to address the needs of those incapable of earning a living. We will watch that one closely.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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The Legacy of Donald Trump.

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2020

This might become a game people can play after post-pandemic dinner parties. The simple question is “What, in your view, is the nature of the of the legacy of Donald Trump as President of the United States of America?” And it might be wise to restrict answers to 25 words or less.

It is likely much too early to start playing the game before January 20, 2021. Every time you are under the impression that the guy has done the ultimate, he does more. Did we even believe what was happening at the 2016 GOP convention? Could we really have forecast his actions over the past four years? Have we really kept tract of all the lies he has told his followers?

My favourite answer at this time is the help Mr. Trump has provided in restoring democracy in America. This might puzzle a few people but it is less oblique than his serial killing of more than 200,000 Americans by his denial of the coronavirus.

America used to have a measure of democracy that it could boast about around the world. Mr. Trump has driven holes in that bragging. He has denied the promise of the New Colossus in New York Harbour. He built a wall against the people to the south and used trade as a hammer with which to attack those of the north.

He brazenly used enemies of his people to help him overcome their democracy. Rather than enrich his people with trade, he mounted trade wars to use them as unwilling soldiers in his wasted wars.

Donald Trump might not have been the most innovative of presidents but he was proactive. His legacy is one we can long remember.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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The ‘Right’ advice for Freeland.

Monday, September 21st, 2020

It seems guaranteed that the liberals will introduce an extensive plan for child care on Wednesday. There are two factors pushing Chrystia Freeland in this direction. The first is the growing concern about a second wave of the pandemic and then the right-wing advice that she has been getting from previous liberal finance ministers. If she is listening to them, she will be shrugging off her chance to make a bold mark as Canada’s first female finance minister.

But what would you expect by way of advice by three of the most right-wing liberal finance ministers in the past 30 years?

Paul Martin set the stage in the 1990s with his draconian effort to produce a balanced budget by getting the money from Medicare. His right-wing style made Stephen Harper much more acceptable as prime minister but not to the extent then of giving him a majority government.

Former MP Paul Manley was another of the right-wing finance ministers consulted. He gave the advice that it was fun to spend money but less fun to have to shut something down (to pay the bills).

Long-serving Ralph Goodale did not divulge his advice but told the news media that Freeland is a highly consultative person. He did agree that child care spending adds both economic and social benefits. He sees this funding as contributing to gender equality and gender fairness.

The upshot of all this advice is that we are expecting a less innovative speech from the Governor General. It looks as though Jagmeet Singh and his NDP will have to settle for promises we have all heard before.

There will be less innovation and less greening of our environment. Be prepared to be disappointed.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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Where does the Toronto Star get off?

Sunday, September 20th, 2020

What? The Toronto Star threw a grenade at the idea of a guaranteed basic income the other day. The paper had me choking over my morning coffee. It had to be one of their senior female writers.

Toronto Star writer Heather Scoffield thinks the silver bullet needed today is more emphasis on high quality day care. Her premise seems to be that since, she thinks, we cannot look after all the needs of society, we should not.

I would not only question her judgement on the matter. I would challenge her mathematics. When discussing a guaranteed basic income, we need to stop adding on supplements for this and that. We need to understand that one size does not fit all and have a flexible management system that accommodates the needs of individuals.

And I have a hard time understanding why Scoffield thinks it would be legally difficult to replace the multiplicity of programs we have today with one basic program. There is highly likely to be some serious push back from the provinces when they see hundreds of their programs being wiped out.

But if this is a program that can really define this country for years to come—then it is worth the time and effort to implement it.

It is not that I disagree with the obvious need for good quality before and after school day care as well as affordable and high-quality day care. We can have those as well.

The liberals opened the door with the Canada emergency response benefit (CERB). It was a guaranteed income in all but name. It made the mistake though of pointing out how many Canadians were left out. It is when you realize how many are left out by all the previous programs that you realize the need to finally make this step into the future. We can do it.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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Why does Toronto want ranked ballots?

Saturday, September 19th, 2020

Toronto City Council needs to take a very hard look at ranked ballot voting. It is no panacea. It is a solution for a problem that does not exist. It is a way to choose the least controversial of multiple candidates. And why would you want to do that?

Or maybe people are just tired of the same-old first-past-the-post voting.

To be positive, this system of voting seems to encourage the least likely candidates. It has been used in political parties recently and judging by results there, it has disappointed more people than it has pleased. And why you would want to disappoint the voters is a good question?

We might also consider that ranked balloting is preferred by more candidates because it encourages more of them to run for office. Judging by experience with this system of voting, we know that it tends to sort through the voting process to produce the least controversial result.

The one thing you can count on is that the more candidates in the race for the position, the less likely that you will get the most preferred candidate. The simple reason is that if nobody gets a majority of votes, the choice falls to the second, third, fourth or fifth most favourite—as chosen by the candidates dropped from the race. It becomes a numbers game and you might as well just toss a coin.

The city was authorized to allow ranked balloting back in 2013. In typical Toronto council fashion, the idea was dropped for 2015. It was revived again for 2022 (since the city is on a four-year voting cycle now, instead of two-year).

Mind you, if the city cannot find a supplier that can count ranked ballots for 2026—and carry out all the other requirements for ranked voting that the province requires—then we can wait for 2030. And whether people come to their senses by then, is the responsibility of an entirely new generation.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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Trudeau’s circle does it again.

Friday, September 18th, 2020

It seems as though Justin Trudeau and his circle of friends are immune to learning from past mistakes. They no sooner manage to bury one of their gaffs and they come up with another. Now it is Justin’s good buddy, David MacNaughton, who has blotted his copy book.

McNaughton was Justin’s choice as Ontario campaign chair for the 2015 election. I expect I could have named four of five liberal apparatchiks who could have done a better job but Justin was pleased enough with MacNaughton’s effort to make him ambassador to Washington.

But, like his father before him, Justin tried for a repeat in the 2019 effort. It was when he tried to show how smart he was in his second campaign as leader that he ended up with a minority government.

When that happened to Pierre Trudeau in 1972, he brought in senior liberals and asked them for advice. On the advice of the party, Pierre brought knowledgeable party people into the prime minister’s office (PMO) and appointed Senator Keith Davey as the liberal party campaign manager.

Justin Trudeau did not ask for any advice and was soon enmired in the ‘WE Charity’ fiasco.

And what (temporary) civil servant does not carefully read his or her conditions of employment? MacNaughton has had more than enough temporary jobs in his career not to read the fine print. And yet, by not understanding the ‘conflict of interest’ law and by taking “improper advantage” of his position, he ran afoul of Mario Dion, the federal ethics commissioner.

MacNaughton was named Canadian president of U.S.-based spook-firm Palantir Technologies Canada just two weeks after officially leaving his position of ambassador. He had to wait a year before he could be selling the Canadian government the products of his new firm. It was just seven months later that he was in Ottawa offering their software capabilities for military planning and strategic analysis. (This is despite his claim that he was only offering a pro bono sample of the software to help with covid-19 planning.)

And anyone interested in computer analysis, planning and U.S. politics should read up on Palantir. It is fascinating reading.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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