Archive for the ‘Federal Politics’ Category

Can Chuckles make a comeback?

Saturday, May 23rd, 2020

The conservative party and the news media have written off acting conservative party leader Andrew Scheer much too soon. When he resigned late last year, the unwritten proviso was that the party thought they could get someone better. There might be four or five people vying for the honour of replacing Chuckles but you would have a hard time convincing any sizeable number of conservatives that any one of them is any better.

In fact, it is hard to say which of the four or five prospects could be half as effective as poor old Chuckles. You might expect that Peter MacKay has some of that same experience in the conservative party and in the Harper conservative government. When you ask knowledgeable conservatives about MacKay’s experience, you get a thoughtful answer that agrees, “Yes, he was there.” And then nothing but a sad look.

The facts are that Peter MacKay is a lightweight. He had three important portfolios in the Harper cabinet. He was an embarrassment in all three. He seemed to be working on a reputation for being the playboy of Ottawa and the eastern seaboard. Each portfolio he was in was just another set of photo ops. Mind you, he embarrassed the entire country in coming on to American secretary of state Condoleezza Rice.

The reason I mentioned the four or five candidates is because last week an Ontario superior court judge said that Jim Karahalios should not have been ejected from the race when he maligned Toronto lawyer Walied Soliman, campaign manager for candidate Erin O’Toole.

I have a hunch that we might not know if there are four or five candidates until we have a ruling from the supreme court. It took a couple days for the right committee of the conservative party to kick out Mr. Karahalios again.

In the meantime, Erin O’Toole is going around being nice to any or all conservatives, hoping for their second vote approval. All O’Toole needs is for Peter MacKay to keep shooting himself in the foot. And that can be as good as money in the bank. There are a couple other candidates—we call them losers.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

Panic in the pandemic.

Friday, May 22nd, 2020

The problem is that these so-called experts keep changing their minds. They tell us to wear a mask and then they say, ‘Don’t bother.’ Now they want us to wear a mask again. Maybe they should draw us pictures. It is not that we are slow or just plain dumb.

The damn masks are becoming a fashion statement. Just not surgical masks—those are for the medical professionals.

Why should we have to sew our own? What good can it possibly do? How many masks do we need to take us through the day? Do you just throw them in the washing machine? Or do you have to take them to a dry-cleaning establishment? Which is better, the 100-thread count weave or the 300-thread? What about those ones that seem to be made of a porous paper?

And what do you do when a friend calls and wants to go for a walk—six-feet apart, of course? Do you say, you are washing your mask and it is too wet to wear? And do you have to wear masks when having sex with your neighbour’s wife?

What you need to realize here is that masks are really quite useless—especially on people who do not understand their purpose. When a medical professional wears a face mask, it is to protect the people with whom they are in close contact. It does not protect the wearer. When a professional has to be protected, they wear something closer to full hazmat suits with a shield protecting the face, plus a surgical mask.

Bear in mind that the N95 mask is called that because it can filter out up to 95 per cent of pathogens for a brief period. Nothing is perfect. And all professional medical people can give you is their best guess. We are all going to listen carefully, nod knowingly and do whatever the hell we want to do. I, for one, do not like wearing masks.

But I sincerely appreciate the, probably useless, efforts of those wearing masks to protect me from their germs and viruses. Those silly masks just might become the badge of honor of this pandemic.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

Debt walls and other delusions.

Thursday, May 21st, 2020

Having always admired the work of Toronto author Linda McQuaig, I enjoyed her opinion piece in the Toronto Star the other day. She was suggesting that we should not listen to the deficit hawks. It must be a measure of my admiration that we tend to agree on the subject.

Linda notes that it is only now after months of lock-down and the desperate efforts to protect Canadians from financial despair, that we are starting to hear from Canada’s conservative deficit cops. She sees their reluctance to say much earlier as a reflection of the popularity of the liberal economic rescue efforts.

I certainly shared Linda’s expectation of some blow-back. While the conservatives have lacked an effective national voice for some time, you would normally expect some of their major provincial leaders to speak up. It is also likely that the desire to look like they are cooperating, in the face of the pandemic, has lowered the volume.

And we also need to recognize that the key provincial leaders such as Jason Kenney of Alberta, Doug Ford of Ontario and François Legault of Quebec, each have their own agenda. Kenney has deep financial problems to go with the pandemic outbreaks in nursing homes and meat processing plants. Ford lacks the political background and is trying hard not to stumble. Legault is losing political ground to Justin Trudeau and his attempt to break free from the feds has forced him to backtrack on his early attempts to lighten restrictions.

It is fascinating to see a spectre from the past such as Stephen Harper emerge as a key spokesman for the conservatives at this time. He actually sounded threatening in a recent Wall Street Journal piece when he wrote that those who do not practice a ‘mild’ austerity, will have a “brutal kind of austerity thrust upon them.”

McQuaig even touches on the era of neoliberal Paul Martin when Canadians suffered a “brutal round of social spending cuts.” Many Canadians never forgave him for what he did as Jean Chrétien’s finance minister.

Linda concludes that because of this spending, that we are doing to protect Canadians during the pandemic, we could be on our way “to a very different and promising future.” I agree.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

 

The Pirates of the Pandemic.

Wednesday, May 20th, 2020

The gloom and doom writers have it all wrong. You do realize, do you not, that there are business bandits who are making a killing because of the pandemic. These are the ones shedding crocodile tears as they make another billion. Who says we are all in this together?

It was win some/lose some for Loblaws and other large grocers in the first quarter as they watched sales escalate as they learned how to stay open in the face of covid-19. Watching the prices rise in the grocery stores throughout the first three months of the pandemic is paying for more than the costs of shields and masks in the retail end of the grocery business. No need for a tag day for the Weston family.

And it would take far more than a pandemic to rattle Canada’s bankers. They are hardly losing when they are cutting back on staff hours and keeping the plastics industry busy making cheap shields.

But the one industry that is making the most of our misery is the telecommunications industry. If we had never understood the need for streaming video on the Internet, we know it now, and never have so many paid so much. Welcome to the battle for bandwidth.

If the telecoms would just deliver the service, they try to tell us we are getting, life could go on. I think I have checked every competitor in my area and I find they all seem to be using the same resale Bell optic fibre. And while the fibre cables might be running down my street, it is two pairs of twisted copper wires delivering the service to my apartment.

It is Canada’s major breweries, owned today by mainly foreign companies who are taking home profits from the increased alcohol consumption. I expect it will not help to ward off covid-19. Profits from liquor and wine are mostly taken by the provinces that own or control most of Canada’s liquor distribution.

Mind you, the main beneficiaries of Canadians staying at home during the worst of the pandemic will probably be hospital obstetrical units starting about Christmas time.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

Planes, Trains and Trucks.

Monday, May 18th, 2020

If you listen to some analysts, it would seem that Canada’s economy is based on airlines. That was a mistake that came down to us because of the Second World War. In putting Canada on a war footing, the ubiquitous DC-3 aircraft took responsibility for high-speed travel while railways became the drudge and trucks were relegated to regional needs. It is a pattern that has held Canada back since, in terms of both inter-provincial trade and relations.

While the U.S.A. launched that country’s inter-state highway network back in the Eisenhower era, it is seriously working today on networking 200+ mph electric trains.

And frankly, Ontario and Quebec residents are tired of the continued talk of ‘studying’ the needs in the Quebec city-to-Toronto corridor. Just electrifying the GO Train system in Ontario could go a long way to speeding up that service and accommodating more passengers. Less pollution would be a bonus.

But, if anything could kick-start the Canadian economy after the pandemic, it would be building the infrastructure and rolling stock needed for high-speed trains. Such an ambitious project could take 20 years to complete just the first phase. And it could be the major project that brings us quickly out of any downturns after covid-19 is beaten.

What guarantees us a downturn when the pandemic is done? The economy has taken its hits. It has nowhere to go but up.

The choice is very simple. We can be frightened by the bogeyman of debt or we can work to put it behind us. It will not be a question as to whether we can afford it? The question is can we afford not to?

There is no question that we will still need airlines for intercontinental travel. It would make sense for the federal government to nationalize Air Canada. That way they can be integrated instead of competitors.

The real challenge that faces us is where is the leadership our country needs to take up the challenge. And are our fellow Canadians willing to support the type of leadership we need? We need vision. We need to believe. The country is worth it. Are we?

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

When our world is on hold.

Sunday, May 17th, 2020

Every morning when waking up to this pandemic, I challenge myself to remember what day it is. I never realized how confining a person to their home could be so cruel. I work hard at keeping alert and interested in our world. Some days the newspaper crossword is a challenge and other days, simply frustrating. It is like politics, some days it is so simple and easily understood and some days it can be beyond belief.

Maybe that is why I enjoy writing about politics. While most of the comments from readers are positive lately, my wife cannot understand why I am not a fan of prime minister Justin Trudeau. She meets the guy a few times, gets added to his Christmas card list and she wants to protect him like a lioness with a cub.

What really gets to me is her way of ending arguments regarding Trudeau. She simply says, “Then, who are you going to vote for?”

She knows, she has me cold.

She knows darn well that there would be three moons in the sky before I would vote conservative. Conservatism goes against everything in which I believe. Conservatives, these days, are too often cruel, self-absorbed people. They think a jurisdiction that does anything for its citizens is a ‘nanny state.’ These people, when in power, try to impose their philosophy on others, like a wicked step mother.

The current leadership situation with Canada’s federal conservatives is a joke. The four contestants hoping to replace Andrew Scheer are shallow, unimpressive ideologues—which also explains Scheer.

And as for the new democratic party, it is based on a socialism that reflects the desperation of Canada of the 1930s. It has not had a new idea since Tommy Douglas retired from politics. The party is still dominated by labour unions that are far from progressive and have no interest in the effort to convert it into a modern social democratic party. It is just another ideology, seriously in need of a leader.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

It’s not Christmas in May!

Friday, May 15th, 2020

How many times now have we seen prime minister Justin Trudeau pop out of Rideau Cottage with another package worth billions to offer succor to this group of Canadians or that? When asked about seniors, he just said, “They’re coming.” Well, he brought forward what they are doing for seniors the other day and I think Scrooge could have done better with a ‘Bah humbug!’

Maybe the prime minister does not know many seniors. The ones I know share the same problems. They are faced with constantly increasing costs while the volatile stock market plays havoc with their investments and retirement income funds. As they age, their buying power erodes and they can almost compute when it would be best for them to die. Mind you, I do not want covid-19 to rush that.

But, at this time of self-separation, it is actually difficult for seniors to spend much. If the government gives me any extra money this month, I will probably leave some of it in the bank for a while. My wife likes to cook, so we only order in occasionally. We are hardly going anywhere but our auto insurance rates go up. And we find grocery costs are climbing higher, we are paying more for our drugs and fat cats such as Bell Canada rip us off for Internet services. And where can we turn?

What seniors really need is a government that sticks with you. Seniors would do better with what the liberals promised last year. During the election, we were told that they would support a ten per cent increase in old age security (OAS) at age 75 and a 25 per cent increase in Canada pension plan (CPP) for survivors. That makes sense under current conditions.

We certainly need a realistic cost of living allowance with our CPP or with the OAS or guaranteed income supplement (GIS). Ideally, of course, it could all be combined in a guaranteed annual income system.

So next time Justin Trudeau pops out of the Rideau cottage cuckoo clock, I will just have to report to him that he and his neoliberal finance minister missed a good chance to help Canada’s seniors. This covid-19 might be thinning the ranks these days but they remain a viable force and those who are left will be out to vote next time.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

“Do as I say, not as I do.”

Thursday, May 14th, 2020

It is part of being of the political elite. We have no royals like the Brits. And we have little of America’s Hollywood. We have to settle for talking and speculating about our politicians. We put them on pedestals and then complain when they take advantage of their position to do as they wish.

And even a provincial premier can end up falling off their pedestal for doing what we were told specifically not to do. Premier Doug Ford of Ontario got ripped for telling us not to go north to our cottages over the Easter weekend. Yet he made a quick trip up to his family’s Lake Country cottage—to check the plumbing—we were told.

And then for Mothers’ Day, the premier had all four daughters home to honour their mother. He thinks that it is alright as he did not invite the sons-in-law. He apparently does not realize that they might be sleeping with his daughters.

But the elitist el supremo in this country is our prime minister. As the eldest son of Pierre Trudeau, Justin has spent a life of privilege. He hobnobs with the rich and famous. He is a long-time friend of the Aga Khan, one of the world’s ten richest royals. You might remember when the prime minister and his family spent Christmas with him on the Khan’s island in the Bahamas. (Last we heard, the RCMP still had not reimbursed the Khan for accommodating the PM’s security detail.)

Justin’s latest display of his elitism was sending his wife and children to Harrington Lake in Quebec last month after she recovered from her bout of covid-19 at Rideau Cottage in Ottawa. Travel between residences has been banned in both provinces and unnecessary travel between provinces is also being discouraged. While it is easy to understand the wish to visit with his wife and children, Canadians do not need a reminder that Justin Trudeau considers himself to be exempt from any rules.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

After the Pandemic, Let’s Double Down.

Monday, May 11th, 2020

Canada is going to come out of this pandemic stronger, more determined and in a better position to build a stronger future. And we could come out with a national debt of more than $700 billion. And, so what? We could double that debt and nobody would sneeze. We have two critical issues that need to be resolved. The first is a national minimum income program for every adult in the country. The second is a project to bind this country more tightly together.

The minimum income is a step with which we will measure ourselves as a nation. It is the measure of our decency. It is a measure of our caring. It has to be in an amount that can keep a person sheltered and fed, keep a graduate student at his or her studies. It does not need to be the same for everybody but it must be for everybody. Nobody needs to sleep on a street. No Canadian needs to go hungry.

The second is of equal or greater importance. It is the project we choose to bind our nation together. Sir John A. Macdonald saw it as a band of steel. Maybe he had an idea upon which we can build an even stronger nation. Only this time, it is a train system that connects all our major cities. It needs to be high-speed and electric.

We will need jobs for people after the pandemic and this project will provide many thousands of jobs. And there are many years of work to be done. When finished, it will open new opportunities in recreation, tourism, shipping, business travel. Maybe it will only cost $30 billion to build. It will earn the money back in revenue and taxes.

The first step deals with our decency. The second deals with our dreams. And the two steps are linked because they will bring us the new citizens we need to reach the ideal of 100 million Canadians.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

The Great Canadian Gun Con.

Friday, May 8th, 2020

Watching that one-time cop, now Canada’s public safety minister, Bill Blair, blather on about guns is annoying. The liberal plan to do something about the proliferation of guns in our society is nothing more than a con job. When you are grandfathering the guns that are already out there, you are hardly banning them.

Canadians have been asking for a total ban on weapons other than those designed and registered for law enforcement, skeet and target shooting or licensed hunting. There is absolutely no need for collectors to have operable weapons. And collections need to be certified as inoperable by qualified arms experts.

What also worries me is the suggestion that Canada’s aboriginals should be collectively exempt from the ban. That would be a license to stock guns of all types along with the cigarettes so freely sold to anybody on first nation’s properties. I live 30-minutes down the highway from the Mnjikaning First Nation Indian Reserve No. 32 on Lake Couchiching, whose property includes Rama Casino.

At a rough guess, if the cigarette sellers on that reserve were selling only to residents of the reserve, every man, woman and child on that reserve must be smoking about 12 packages of cigarettes every day. Canada has more than a few unprotected borders.

What does not seem to be widely understood about firearms in Canada is that modern assault weapons, capable of continuous fire, are already banned. These are the weapons that can fire hundreds of rounds in a minute. Those weapons have never been approved for sale or possession in Canada.

But what city police really want to be rid of are hand guns. Nobody hunts game with a Glock. These sneak over the border from the U.S. and also go astray from legal (and illegal) collections. They are then passed around by kid gangs for serious mayhem. These untrained shooters are such bad shots that they often kill the wrong person—according to some victims’ families.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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