Archive for March, 2021

Picture That.

Wednesday, March 31st, 2021

Ontario premier Ford likes to bring some back-up when he is doing a Covid-19 presentation. It was a surprise last weekend when one of the smirking faces in the conservative back-up was that of Brampton mayor Patrick Brown. Oh, how well we know that weaselly countenance. He was even wearing a new suit to impress us.

Last time I checked, I was under the impression that Ford hated Brown. It was Ford who cancelled the election of the new Peel County Chair, who was to be the new super mayor of Caledon, Brampton and Mississauga. It forced Brown to drop down from running in that race to just running for mayor of Brampton. It was a bit of a come-down for a former member of parliament and a former leader of the Ontario conservatives. It was a step up for the guy who wrote a book about how certain conservatives in Ontario stabbed him in the back.

I first met Brown during the 2004 federal election. He was at my condo door in Barrie, Ontario, offering to shake hands. I just glared at the hand and asked him what he wanted. Here was the most unappealing person I had met in a long time and he wanted me to vote for him. It did him no good that I could see the conservative symbol on his literature. That confrontation led to a mutual dislike that has lasted.

As politicians go, Brown is an interesting study. At an early age, he probably decided that he did not like working for a living and entered politics. People familiar with politics think of him as a fairly good ‘retail’ politician. He knows how to sell the external package but you know the inner part of that melon is rotten. In parliament, he reminded me of the line from Gilbert and Sullivan that “He always voted at his party’s call.” I could never pin down what he did for his constituents.

In Ottawa, as an MP, he was an acolyte of Jason Kenney, minister of everything slippery in the Harper government.

It was Kenney who showed him how to pick strong ethnic groups for support and set him up with his trips to India. He and that hard-ass Indian president Narendra Modi were made for each other. It is why Brown had no problems winning the Sikh and sub-continent support to oust the Brampton mayor. Mind you, I am waiting for Brown to convert most of the parks in Brampton to cricket pitches—as he promised his Sikh supporters.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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Pick your battles.

Tuesday, March 30th, 2021

If you want to win, in war or in politics, you pick the battles you can win. Losers fight any battle that comes along. It is the problem facing the major opposition parties in the coming election. It is a special problem for conservative leader Erin O’Toole. He is between the proverbial rock and the hard place.

O’Toole’s conservatives need an environmental platform that will convince eastern Canada that the party is sincere about saving the world from greenhouse gasses. At the same time, they have to convince the climate change deniers in the west that, under the conservatives, they can continue to pump up the bitumen from the tar sands and knock down mountains for coal.

‘Simple,’ you say? You must be forgetting the master-servant relationship between Erin O’Toole and Alberta premier Jason Kenney. Who do you think touched O’Toole’s shoulders with the sword of approval during the recent conservative leadership contest? It was Jason Kenney who gave O’Toole the Western Blessing. It was a Jason Kenney who was riding high in the saddle at the time and could promise O’Toole those western votes.

Jason Kenney might have fallen on bad times recently; but never forget, he is still one of the slipperiest politicians in Canada. When Stephen Harper was making his retirement plans in 2015, Kenney was plotting his triumphant return to Alberta.

The federal new democrats have a different problem as they have had the Leap Manifesto since 2016. A radical environmental approach, the party still does not know what to do with it. At the time it was introduced, leader Tom Mulcair was trying to stake out a middle of the road platform and the Leap Manifesto was too radical for him. No doubt, Jagmeet Singh would like to revive the manifesto now. The question is, Jagmeet might lead with it but whether the party would follow is a different question.

The best bet for the opposition parties is a ‘Cap and Trade’ policy. We already have that in Quebec and British Columbia. Ontario was also partnered with Quebec and California in a ‘Cap and Trade’ plan until the Ford conservatives came to power and cancelled it. Like most Canadians, Ford did not understand it. That might help the opposition get voters to support it.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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Liberalism Betrayed.

Monday, March 29th, 2021

You hear it too often. It is the jerk who tells you that they are socially a liberal and financially a conservative. Does that mean that you want to do the right thing but you do not want to pay for it? Is this like the idiocy of the conservative budget recently in Ontario? The treasurer stood up in the mostly empty legislature and proposed accumulating an increased debt of $33 billion with no new taxes. It makes you wonder how stupid a conservative can be.

It is beginning to look like this pandemic is the biggest rip off of all time. The richest among us are having a field day—earning profits by just being wealthy, while the weak and vulnerable among us are being kicked into the gutter.

Why do we keep hearing that the fix is in for rapacious Rogers to acquire Shaw Communications? What does two billion buy you but a guarantee of the highest profits ever for the triumvirate of telecoms in Canada.

And what are these complaints we hear about the supreme court judges usurping the rights of our elected politicians. Has not the prime minister made it clear to the world that we are a country of law? If parliament is writing ill-considered laws, are not the judges entitled to rule on them?

But where did the sunny days disappear to? We thought Winter was behind us. What happened to the promises of Justin Trudeau? Has voting reform been forgotten in the cold of reality? Is the prime minister forgetting the promises of environmentalism? Is equality of the sexes only for those women parliamentarians who do what they are told? Can the PM be an elitist? Can his family not benefit from the WE charity and friendships with the rich and famous?

And why does our liberal leader spend far more time asking Canada’s liberals for money instead of their opinion?

In this time of the ravages of a pandemic, in this time of concern for all, why are so many being forgotten? What ever happened to the decency of liberalism?


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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The knocking on Trudeau’s door.

Sunday, March 28th, 2021

Like the late-night tapping on his door, as written by Edgar Allan Poe, Justin Trudeau dares not fail to answer this summons. It is at the heart and soul of liberalism in Canada. It must be answered with fairness and justice. It is in the face of the rape and pillage, so long the hallmarks of Canada’s big three telecoms—Bell, Rogers and Telus.

The visitor is not Poe’s raven, but a chance to reform. We were promised the reform during the 2019 election. The Trudeau liberals promised Canadians a 25 per cent reduction in broadband fees. It can be matched with more competition in telephones and fees. They still have time to bring this reform into legislative reality before the coming election.

Fool us once Mr. Trudeau and there will not be a second chance.

We have, for too long, seen the failure of the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). The commission is the weak sister—for too long the brunt of the telecoms’ manipulation. It has failed us. It no longer serves the users but is obsequious to its telecom masters.

Let the telecoms set the stage for reducing costs by decimating the lobbyists that work for them. These people work against the needs of Canadians. They are an affront to our members of parliament.

We need commissioners of the CRTC who represent the users, who understand the industry, and who can resist the blandishments of lobbyists.

And we need members of parliament who can truly represent their constituents. Nobody is stopping them from standing up in caucus and asking that the liberal government keep its promises. Nobody denies them the right to report the desires of their constituents. Nobody denies them the right to be liberal—in practice, as well as name.

Those MPs who act as though they are sheep will be shorn of their positions and pay in the coming election. There are worse things than the visit of a raven ‘on a midnight, dark and dreary.’


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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Do we really understand China?

Saturday, March 27th, 2021

They are known to most Canadians as ‘the Two Michaels.’ They have been in prison in China since before the pandemic. Michael Kovrig, a former diplomat, and Michael Spavor, a businessman, were arrested in China just days after the RCMP arrested Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei, in Vancouver on a warrant from U.S. authorities. Many Canadians think we should get tougher on China but if we do, we might get both of the Michaels executed.

It all comes down to the quaint Oriental custom of saving face. During the 1970s and early 1980s an interesting aspect of my job with a computer company was hosting delegations from countries around the world. These delegations came to better understand the large-scale computers we were manufacturing in Mississauga at the time. Many of them were from the Peoples’ Republic of China.

The Chinese usually came in groups of four or five. It did not take long to figure out who was the party cadre and who were the technical experts. The party person was usually the official interpreter despite some of the technical people being quite fluent in English. When the groups were larger, we would often have an additional interpreter from the Canadian government.

And these visits produced millions of dollars in sales—mainly in support of seismic analysis for China’s oil industry. And there was never any direct selling involved. We treated these visits as information exchanges and no sales pressure was used.

As the sales indicated, the technique worked well with the Chinese. I also found that it led to invitations to functions at the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa and when there was an important delegation coming to Toronto.

I remember one time I was at a function in the Royal Bank board room high up in that gold-colored building in downtown Toronto. I was standing looking out a window during a washroom break and the head of the Chinese delegation came over and joined me. He was just as bored with the proceedings as was I. He was quite intrigued as I pointed out the different parts of Toronto around the Hearn Generating Station—with its towering smokestack. He asked about the fact it was not emitting smoke and I explained that it had recently been decommissioned to improve the air quality in the city. He thought that would be a good idea for Beijing. I only mention this because he looked very much like a younger version of Chinese leader Xi Jinping.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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Billions to nowhere.

Friday, March 26th, 2021

It seems strange to have a provincial budget that spends close to $200 billion in the coming year and ignores the most vulnerable among us. It is a budget that will increase the provincial debt by about $33 billion and raises no taxes. You have to remember that this is a conservative budget in a country locked in an outmoded constitution.

With provinces committed to funding education and health care, they have the excuse of the pandemic to fall back on. There are few savings in education as we struggle with opening and closing schools and the variables of computer education that are devolved to the caregiver—often a working-from-home parent. At the same time, the costs of health care grow exponentially as covid 19 rapes the system and as millionaire ophthalmologists and radiologists continue to play the system.

There is small relief for small business. They were hit the hardest by the lock downs that we are not even sure are over. And there is a little extra help for families with little ones.

Where the greatest needs were ignored was in the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP). More than 360,000 Ontario citizens are being forced into desperation by a program that does not and cannot meet their needs. At a time when food banks are desperate to try to continue helping, and both shelter prices in Ontario and grocery prices are rising, these people were ignored.

The conservative budget also ignored the plight of personal support workers who had received a temporary increase in wages to try to keep them working with long-term care. There was not even a continued increase for these workers. The government forgot all the promises that had been made.

Thankfully, the conservatives forgot to mention the new Highway 413 that went from nowhere west of Georgetown, through wetlands and built-up areas to crowded highways north of Toronto. If it continues to be forgotten, we will be pleased about that one aspect of the current budget.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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The upcoming battle for the GTA.

Thursday, March 25th, 2021

Some pundits are under the impression that the key battle in the coming federal election is in the greater Toronto area (GTA). They might be able to give logical support for their assumptions but I would not suggest that it is all a done deal. Some things have changed and we need to pay attention.

It takes a while for population shifts to be recognized by census and there will certainly be some new electoral districts to be considered in a few years. In the meantime, there will be some surprises in store as assumptions are not met.

To start with there is a band of ridings that starts outside of Ottawa on the east and heads toward the Windsor area. It is what we used to think of as dominated by rural conservative and Ontario Landowner voters. Many of these ridings have been absorbing newcomers who are former city dwellers and quite often liberal voters. This offers some opportunities for aspiring liberal candidates.

It is unlikely that Trudeau and his trusted henchmen will understand it. Even more serious, they could not take much advantage of the situation. They have let those ridings drift away from them. They have destroyed the base of liberal support in that area. When you have spent the last six years doing nothing with the liberals there but demand they send money, there might not be much organization left.

And we should also wonder about the shape of the liberal organization in Toronto itself. There could be a few surprises for Trudeau’s liberals in the 25 liberal seats in the city. Why? It is a tired vote. The supposed liberal supporters will be harder to motivate. These people have been taken for granted by the Trudeau liberals and some are looking for an alternative. A couple ridings could even fall to the green party—to the disappointment of the new democrats. It should come as no surprise that a higher green vote will be mostly at the expense of the NDP. What will be concerning is the slightly higher percentage of conservative votes. Combined with a slightly lower vote for the liberals could put four to five ridings at risk. Justin Trudeau should not bank on moving back to a majority government.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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Kenney sugar coats dishonesty.

Wednesday, March 24th, 2021

We get lots of promotional stuff in our Internet in-boxes. It usually only takes a second to click on the little garbage-can icon.

But the other day, with my finger hovering, I took a minute to think about one of them. This promotion was by the Canadian Energy Centre—better known as Alberta premier Jason Kenney’s taxpayer-funded war room. It was promoting a petition they were sending to Canada’s members of parliament. It was saying that this citizen is standing up for pipelines. My first reaction was to think of a nasty reply about where they could stick their pipelines.

What I was feeling was not anger but frustration. It was caused by the sense of futility about taxpayers’ money being used by governments to fight the environmentalists. It is a lop-sided fight.

How can Canadians who care about global warming fight their federal government when it  is providing billions of our money to twin the TransMountain pipeline? And how can Canadians support the State of Michigan in its fight to protect the Great Lakes from a catastrophic pollution in the Straits of Mackinac?

The State of Michigan knows very well the hopelessness of trying to clean up the spill of diluted bitumen from the Alberta tar sands in a major waterway. The clean-up of the spill into tributaries of the Kalamazoo River has never been complete despite the expenditure of more than $700 million U.S. dollars.

To have a catastrophic spill from the under-lake pipeline at the Straits of Mackinac would just take one more tanker dragging its anchor through the shallow straits.

And shipping for this bitumen from Burrard Inlet and through the west coast’s Straits of Georgia is just as risky. It is the summer feeding grounds for the endangered Orcas.

The American administration of president Joe Biden has made it very clear that they neither need nor want diluted bitumen from Alberta fed through American pipelines. Neither do clear-thinking Canadians.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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In the leadership wilderness.

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2021

Canada’s major political parties have a leadership problem. We have to face facts folks: Trudeau of the not-a-party liberals is a hypocrite; O’Toole of the mainly western conservatives cannot get his party to back him; and Singh of the new democrats is taking his party nowhere. None of these three is the right answer to rebuilding our economy after the pandemic. Canadians do not seem to like them or trust them.

Prime minister Justin Trudeau obviously learned nothing about leadership from his famous father. And how he thinks he can talk the environmentalist talk while building a second pipeline for highly polluting bitumen across the Rockies, is an affront to every conscientious Canadian.

And to make matters worse, he is destroying the liberal party in Canada. He uses the so-called supporters on the liberal list as a convenient ATM to fund operations, totally centered on and controlled by his prime minister’s office (PMO). He uses elitist methods to make bad choices for appointments to the governor general and lieutenant governor positions, the senate, government agencies, commissions and the judiciary. And you can only hope that he has finished making badly thought-through decisions.

The conservatives have a different problem in that they are not in the least interested in going where their current leader thinks they should go. He wants to convince people that a conservative government would be a reasonable one, taking a middle of the road position. He even thinks the conservatives should embrace carbon taxes and environmentalism. Fat chance of that after his letdown by the virtual conservative convention last weekend.

With three provincial governments hoping for a ruling from the supreme court this week on the provinces claim that Ottawa did not have the authority to put in a carbon tax, his timing was terrible. While many think the court will rule against the provinces, stranger things have happened.

I would tell you about the two other party leaders but I do not know very much about them. And that is the same for most Canadians.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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Befuddled Bureaucracy.

Monday, March 22nd, 2021

It happened this past weekend. The Ontario government bureaucracy lost me. I was due for my second shot of the Pfizer vaccine. Since the first shot had no adverse effects, I was looking forward to the capping shot.

While it is still a matter of four to six months to vaccinate everyone, who wants to be protected from covid-19, I figured the end of the lockdowns and the damn masks was in sight and possible.

And that was when I was lost from the Ontario vaccination lists. I am sure that my political views had nothing to do with it. You should not write commentaries such as I write and be paranoid. You would be afraid to cross the street. I am sure premier Doug Ford would have a problem picking me out from a crowd of two people. And he has more important things to do than screw up my shots. My bet is that his cheapskate, uncaring government has screwed up a lot of covid-19 shots for many citizens since vaccinating was undertaken by the province.

I believe it was Ford who was first to hire a general to figure out the logistics of getting the right number of shots to the right map co-ordinates. The feds followed with a general who only had to get deliveries to the provinces and northern territories. There is no way of telling whether Ford got tired of the general or the general was soon tired of Ford but the general’s contract seemed to be over before the job was really off the ground.

It seems that, like Trump in the United States, Ford is incompetent and fails to keep more competent help on side and working.

And while we are on this subject, we should mention that not all of our citizens are eager to get their vaccine shot(s). Some surprise me in that they are shopping for the perfect vaccine. I think we can safely report that none of the various vaccines approved by Health Canada are perfect. The best advice these folks will ever get is to accept the first vaccine available to them and jump on board. Nobody can afford to wait.

And then there are the idiots who tell us that the pandemic is bogus. They do not intend to accept any vaccine as it is some sort of plot. I think there will be fewer of these fools by the time we have the pandemic passivized.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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