Archive for the ‘Federal Politics’ Category

Musing on Maxime’s Maxims.

Wednesday, August 15th, 2018

Maxime Bernier MP does not endear himself. It is not so much his conservatism as his libertarianism. I have met some pretty far right Quebec politicians before but Bernier likes to use his ideas for shock and awe. It gets him lots of media coverage—not all good.

Bernier rides the razor’s edge of racism. He is definitely tribal but he sees no future in being tied to the Parti Québécois. The left-wing péquistes have little appeal. Even the conservative comers in the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) are not far enough to the right for him. He has national ambitions anyway.

If it were not for the foolish system of voting in that last federal conservative party race, he might be leader of the conservative party of Canada today. Instead the system drilled the party down to mediocrity in multiple ballots and they got ‘Chuckles’ Scheer of Saskatchewan instead.

It is that mediocrity in leadership that has saved Bernier from being bounced from the party. Instead of sending the loudmouth to Coventry, Scheer just freed him to spread discontent among the party. Just one more wrong step for Scheer at a time when Justin Trudeau is becoming more vulnerable.

Bernier’s latest faux pas is to accuse prime minister Trudeau of “radical multiculturalism”—whatever the hell that is? It seems Bernier is concerned that the PM is encouraging a lot of smaller tribes instead of the more traditional English-French tribes. Since Bernier and Trudeau are on equal footing with the English-French tribes, it looks like Bernier does not want anyone else in the running.

Bernier complained the other day about these “little tribes” created by Trudeau are causing division. He seems to see them as failing to accept North American values. He complains that they do not immediately appreciate our freedoms and are less eager to accept our openness and tolerance.

I do not know where Bernier grew up but I grew up in Toronto and I watched many of my friends’ immigrant parents struggle with what some saw as the licentious nature of our society. It was tough for them and all we could do for them was to be understanding and recognize why they felt as they did.

To-day, we look at the second and third generation of those families and we see the value that they brought to this country. We are long past Maxime Bernier’s English-French divide. He needs to look around.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Disciplining the diplomacy of diplomats.

Sunday, August 12th, 2018

She might be a bit smaller in stature but foreign affairs minister Chrystia Freeland is head-over-heels ahead of a conservative predecessor John Baird. Baird was something of an embarrassment throughout his tenure during the Harper era. And if Freeland knew enough to stay away from Twitter, we could give her even higher marks.

Who does she think she is; Donald Trump?

Freeland recently used Twitter to piss off the Saudis. How stupid could that be? What the hell does she think is the reason for countries having access to diplomatic channels?

Twitter is for children and show-offs. Twitter is for bad jokes. Twitter is for people who need to get a life. It is not a channel for diplomats.

If you really want to tell those Wahhabi Sunnis in Riyadh what you think of them, tell them to their face. A true Wahhabi knows that you are an infidel scorned by Allah and even worse, to them, you are just a woman. Why should those Bedouins give a damn what you think?

Your strength, as a diplomat, is in the country you represent. And you are representing a country that is recognized and respected around the world for its progressiveness in technology, in human rights, in respecting the ecology and its democracy.

And, it is why they will listen to you. If it is Canada speaking to them, they will listen. Their country might be barely out of the 19th century but they do understand our arguments in favour of human rights. Both countries gain by us training many of their medical specialists. And there are other areas of mutual interest.

This does not include our sell-through of American armoured vehicles. The fiction of those vehicles as Canadian is one that neither nation needs.

Admittedly, it is diplomacy that helps keep the world’s economics running smoothly.

And we should never forget that a very important venue for diplomacy is just down the road in New York. It is the United Nations. If you are worried about the Saudis threatening the peace in the middle east, take you concerns to the United Nations. Those diplomats enjoy a good squabble.

But never forget that it was the Brits who brought the Saudis out of the middle ages about 100 years ago. They are still a couple centuries behind. If we keep the proper diplomatic pressure on them, they just might listen.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Can Singh sing a new song in Burnaby?

Thursday, August 9th, 2018

It is now confirmed that new democratic party leader Jagmeet Singh will try for a seat in the House of Commons this fall. The facts are that the guy has not drawn a salary for over a year now. He has gotten married and he might need a couple new bespoke suits. He could have possibly run in Montreal in Tom Mulcair’s old seat of Outremont or a formerly conservative-held seat in Grenville-Dundas-Thousand Islands in Ontario, but he has decided the safest seat is in South-Burnaby in British Columbia.

But while that might be the safest seat for an NDP, Singh had to finally come out against the Trans Mountain pipeline. It was the end of sitting on the fence between premier John Horgan’s BC NDP and premier Rachel Notley’s Alberta NDP.

South-Burnaby voters will likely have a clear choice. No liberal has been selected yet but whoever runs for the government party will be standing on Justin Trudeau’s shoulders. The greens and conservatives might as well stand back and let the liberals and NDP have at it! This will be a referendum on the newly government-owned Trans Mountain pipeline. The $7 to $11 billion enhancement project is designed to bring more of the Alberta tar sands products to Burnaby for loading on ocean tankers.

The only reason Kennedy Stewart is not representing the seat is that he is in the running for mayor of Vancouver. In Vancouver, they do not have party politics in the traditional Canadian manner. The current election pits the progressives against the combined conservatives and right-wing liberals.

My bet is on Stewart for mayor of that wonderful city.

South-Burnaby is considered to be one of the most ethnically diverse electoral districts in Canada, competing with many ridings in Toronto for that distinction. Prime minister Trudeau remains very strong in ethnically diverse areas and that alone could make this by-election a toss-up.

The one thing that Singh might not be prepared for in this situation is to lose. And he could. The ethnic make-up of the electoral district is only listed as 16 per cent south Asian and Sikhs are only a part of that group. It will be an interesting test of Singh’s appeal to other ethnic groups. Singh will also be considered an eastern carpetbagger who will not have any long-term interest in the people there.

Jagmeet Singh might be biting off too much.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Dougie doesn’t do distress.

Thursday, August 2nd, 2018

At the end of April this year, a truck was driven down Yonge Street in north Toronto on a quest to murder. The driver succeeded in killing 10 people and injuring 14. Mayor John Tory was there on the scene soonest, Premier Kathleen Wynne came. NDP leader Andrea Horwath came. The prime minister of Canada came. Doug Ford, the man running for premier of Ontario on the slogan ‘For the People,’ was too busy campaigning.

And then we had the random shootings in Greektown on Toronto Danforth. Mayor Tory was there soonest. As premier, Doug Ford read a statement to the legislature. And since the prime minister was coming at the time of the funerals, the premier showed up for a vigil.

This is one of the toughest parts of the politician’s job. It requires that fine balance between showing your concern and appearing to be taking advantage of it for the exposure. Mayor John Tory does it well. Maybe it is because he gets more fires and shootings and other types of disasters in a large city. He also has the constant down-in-the-mouth expression of a St. Bernard. He was born to be a first responder.

But Doug Ford does not do concern well. He lacks empathy. He is too self-centred to feel for others. No doubt he has to let his staff pick the timing, prepare his off-the-cuff remarks and tell him how to dress and how to look. It is not in his DNA.

But nobody wants that brash loud-mouth at quiet moments of contemplation anyway. Doug Ford’s problem is that he only has an on-off switch. There is no volume control.

Ford’s attitude seems to permeate the entire conservative caucus at Queen’s Park. They applaud the brashness of their leader. They appear to revel in their party’s ignorance of climate change. They share the myopia when it comes to the growing demand for gun controls. And at a time of increasingly horrendous criminal attacks on complete strangers, they concur on the throttling back of funds for mental health solutions.

At a time of growing need for better government, Ontario has opted for ignorance. When better solutions should be sought to growing needs in fields of provincial jurisdiction, Ontario voters have chosen comic-book heroes. This is not a time to be proud of what we have done.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Patching the health care problems.

Thursday, July 26th, 2018

With former Ontario health minister Eric Hoskins helping the federal government and Doug Ford tearing into the make-do solutions in Ontario, we might be in more trouble in adding pharmacare to health care than we thought possible. We already know that Doug Ford’s argument for a patchwork solution is unworkable but just where Hoskins and the feds are headed also has a question mark on it.

As health minister for Ontario over the past four years, Hoskins has always had a frazzled look about him. He seemed to have no idea what to do about the increasingly onerous demands of the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) specialists who seemed to think their fees should be unlimited. And these demands by the specialists were being made while people outside the large cities in Ontario were increasingly desperate for general practitioners to come and provide coverage in their community.

I always assumed that those speeches the health minister made in support of a national pharmacare program were also being delivered to his Ontario cabinet colleagues. His problem was that former premier Wynne never saw a good program that she could not chop up into chewable chunks.

But Wynne’s stepping-stone steps for Ontario are down the tubes now as Doug Ford is set on teaching us all to pay our own way. Ford is determined even to the extent of taking back pharmaceutical coverage from anyone under 25 who has a health plan on their own or through a parent with coverage through their company, union or organization.

If Ontario’s new premier thinks his plans will save anybody money, he is definitely confused. Unless there is a single buyer of pharmaceuticals for the province (or all of Canada), there will never be any control. And to even suggest that insurance companies selling health plans, with pharmaceutical coverage included, are not motivated by profit, is delusional.

Ontario has had enough of the Doug Ford-Mike Harris approach to health care. Seniors were promised by Wynne that they would have the $100 per year plus the up to $6 co-pay per script ended after January 1, 2019. That will obviously not be happening. Even though the co-pay approach was a serious amount for those taking a range of drugs each day. They will be lucky if the Ford government does not increase it.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Shoring up Alberta’s Energy Exploiters.

Wednesday, July 25th, 2018

For a while there, we were under the impression that the prime minister was the only one allowed to speak for Alberta’s tar sands. It was all on behalf of the almighty buck. Maybe he thought finance minister Bill Morneau would contribute but that guy is weak when trying to explain anything financial.

While Trudeau did not take the opportunity in his recent cabinet shuffle to do anything about Morneau, he did bring in some help for the tar sands apologists. He has moved Edmonton MP, Amarjeet Sohi from infrastructure to natural resources. That is the department that will take responsibility for the now government-owned Trans Mountain pipeline.

As a secular Sikh, Sohi is something of a hero to the Canadian Sikh community because of his incarceration for almost two years by the Indian government for his struggle in Bihar helping poor tenant farmers. On returning to Canada, he supported himself as an Edmonton bus driver until winning a seat on city council and launching his political career.

While some claim that the appointment is to give the MP better exposure and a leg up in the election next year, he seems quite genuine in his conviction that the expanded pipeline over the Rockies is good for Alberta.

Of course, if you only judge the pipeline on its economic value to Alberta, the economy of the province would certainly benefit. Bear in mind that the extremes of environmental damage are there for all to see in Alberta. The vast areas of tailing ponds alone tell the story of the destruction of the environment that is involved in bringing the bitumen to the pipeline head.

But the real hypocrisy of those promoting the exploitation of the tar sands is the pollution of the world environment that is being encouraged by sending the bitumen off shore. Processing of bitumen into ersatz crude oil produces more than three times the carbon footprint of normal crude oil processing. And the tons of bitumen slag left in piles at the refineries is almost pure carbon. If Alberta processed all the bitumen that it has in the tar sands, the province would become unable to sustain life as we know it today.

And how proud are Canadians of all the trouble our government is taking just to ship the pollution problems to third world countries?

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Embittered and Embarrassed.

Sunday, July 22nd, 2018

Nobody wants to talk politics anymore. I hear that some people are even refusing to watch television news or (God forbid) read a newspaper. It is like the phenomenon on the left coast years ago when another Social Credit regime would win a majority in the B.C. legislature. The next day you could not find anyone who would admit to voting for them.

Oh well, it only makes life more difficult for us political pontificators. And yet that thin slice of the populace who read and nod sagely or turn red and angry at our musings will occasionally take the trouble to concur or tear into us as an acknowledgement of our pained efforts.

But it is becoming increasingly difficult to take the pulse of voters when the sources are conflicted by their own actions. It seems that otherwise sensible people are embarrassed as all get out about voting for a certifiable idiot.

The problem is that they willingly acknowledge the perfidy of their action. They just do not want to explain it. They know their rationale is specious and they have no excuse.

It was like accepting an invitation to lunch and, after arriving with an appetite, finding out that your hostess is a vegan. This is one situation that you do not want to face. I, for one, consider my position at the head of the food chain to be an honourable rationale to enjoy red meat. You really do not want to hear the hostess’ reasons for her strange behaviour. Nor is it wise for you to try to explain your preferences.

Politics presents the same kind of impasse. You can hardly help it though if someone else keeps bringing up political questions. What can be doubly annoying is that you get blamed. I, honestly, do not put anyone up to it.

What people do not understand is that I am politely interested in their thinking. It is like figuring out just which of the candidate’s incredibly stupid promises, really turned them on? Those words “incredible” and “stupid” should not be used. I have tried to ask politely but then they just look at me with a pained expression.

I guess some people think of politics as a necessary evil like the regular bowel movement. If you just keep on flushing, it will soon go away.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

What is your party?

Friday, July 20th, 2018

Coming into the dog days of summer is a good time to reflect on what we want in our political party. Speaking from hard won experience, we know starting from scratch with a new type of party is not the best of ideas. People will step boldly into the future but you always have to note that other foot solidly planted in the past. My thinking at this stage is that we need to take over an existing party and change it.

Having been a liberal most of my life, that would be my starting point. Justin Trudeau has been tearing apart the federal party anyway. And the Wynne fiasco in Ontario has taken that party down to a rump in disarray. Both provincial and federal parties have nowhere to go but up.

Both liberal parties have been held back by bad leadership. Wynne expected party support without giving the party the credit for its efforts. Justin Trudeau cancelled the concept of membership in the party and then turned the former membership list into a sucker list to inundate with pleas for money. There used to be some pride in being a member of the liberal party. Not today.

This new party has to build a relationship between the elected and non-elected members of the party. It has to be a grass-roots party with its core and strength in the electoral districts. Membership must have meaning.

I believe that real liberals want a progressive party, a left of centre party. It has to be a party of the people. I think it should be a party that stops talking about the environment and does something about it. I hope it is a party that believes in the universality of higher education, medical care and prescription drugs and dental care—a society that puts the health of its people first.

We might want to change the name to demonstrate that it is a new party ready to face new challenges. That is up to the membership. Regional and provincial bodies need to be made up of electoral district executives.

The wife thinks this subject is dull. I agree. The problem is though that we have been skating around the subject for years while intent on scoring goals. We need to recognize that building anything starts with a foundation. The better the foundation, the higher and better you can build.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Trudeau’s petard simmers for the summer.

Tuesday, July 10th, 2018

Tough as he might be on boys who misbehave, Justin Trudeau has the summer to figure out how to handle the insidious questioning in parliament of his own behaviour. It seems as a young man—some 18-years ago—Trudeau was reported to have acted inappropriately with a lady of a similar age.

What we are hearing from a variety of women on the subject is “So what?” You would assume that many men would feel that way but it is the attitude of women on the subject that intrigues us. The feeling is that the #MeToo movement went overboard. Men and women have to be able to interact. They have to be able to exchange signals of interest in each other. When we try to stifle much of the natural, healthy relationships, we are asking for trouble.

Nobody wants to defend the guy who uses the power of his position to take advantage of women. That has been going on for too long and has to be stopped. Some of us can even comment on the cougar who takes advantage of men. And there is not enough space in this commentary to discuss same-sex relationships that can be offered inappropriately.

But repressing communications between our young people and demanding they deny their interest in exercising their sexuality is counterproductive. Open and clear communications between them is healthy. The mating process in North America has long struggled with repressive religious and regressive attitudes. Each of us carries our own baggage and where one might be, at times, smooth and give off obvious vibes of interest or lack of interest, another can faulter, lack finesse and be misread.

The recent experience of sexual rage that led to horror and death on Toronto’s Yonge Street is an extreme of human frustration. It is not just the psychiatrists who need to understand the cause of that incident but all of our society, so that we can read the warning signs.

Our society also gives off many false signals that conflict the less gregarious among us. We are an open society and would not have it otherwise but we must not leave some behind. They too need to understand their needs and wants. Their needs are real and constant rejection is demeaning and discouraging to them.

A simple band-aid to the problem is to free the willing seller of sexual release to negotiate with the willing buyer. That too is part of a mature and nonjudgmental society.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Sales people can be the easiest sale.

Monday, July 9th, 2018

Justin Trudeau blew it the other day. His task was simple. He was to sell Premier Ford of Ontario on helping to save the environment. And while he was at it, he also needed to help Ford understand that Canadians try their best to help refugees. At the same time, Ford needed to help preserve a common front with the feds on the ongoing North American Free Trade (NAFTA) negotiations.

But we are not sure that the third item even made it into the discussion.

Instead of pitching his product, the prime minister set out to lecture the premier. It would be hard to choose a bigger waste of time. Doug Ford was there to prove that he was now the premier and the prime minister had come to him for something. Ford was feeling like top dog in that kennel.

Next time, Trudeau should remember to send for Ford. He should have had the meeting in the more impressive prime minister’s office. Turf is everything to a guy like that.

And what right does Trudeau have to get miffed at the obduracy of Ford? Did he expect instant understanding? Those guys do not speak the same language. And I hardly mean French and English.

Ford is not an environmentally friendly kind of person. He is the type who doesn’t care about plastic straws and probably throws his empty Tim’s cup out the SUV window at a stoplight. He seems to see environmentalism as something for wusses.

And his attitude on refugees is straight out of the Donald Trump Handbook. He sees them all as mad rapists and criminals who want our free medical care and housing who will take the bread from Canadians. Mind you, if Trudeau thinks it is a complex subject, he obviously is not going to enlighten the likes of Ontario’s Doug Ford.

Despite Trudeau’s background as a teacher, Ford is probably a special needs case when it comes to this subject. Ontario’s bombastic new social services minister, Lisa MacLeod has also indicated to her federal counterpart that the province was no longer interested in doing anything for asylum seekers who are shifting their focus from the United States.

Be warned you tired and poor and huddled masses, the signs at the borders of Ontario are no longer going to say ‘welcome’ either.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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