Archive for the ‘Federal Politics’ Category

Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Thursday, November 14th, 2019

It seems that we are dealing totally in the small stuff these days. Imagine getting outraged by that blowhard on Coach’s Corner between the first and second period of Hockey Night in Canada. That is the viewer’s opportunity to get a fresh beer or to go to the washroom. I am now sick of that constant repeating on television of what Cherry said in that stupid rant. That was more than I ever wanted to hear from him.

But if the Rogers people need a replacement for Cherry, I think they should talk to Jason Kenney. Kenney might seem to have an interesting perch out there in Alberta, but I think his real love is the federal scene. He might want to come back to the East to get ready for when Scheer gets turfed by the Tories.

And Scott Moe of Saskatchewan would make a good back up for Kenney. He is more of a whiner that Kenney and he might not know much about hockey but get him a couple good writers, teach him how to read a teleprompter and you have the perfect solution.

And I never have figured out the role of Don Maclean on that schtick. He always stands there like a dummy. And I could have sworn he nodded just once during that rant but he was hardly keeping Cherry under control. His apology was too late. Should Rogers not fire him?

Another small problem is the lack of cabinet representation for Alberta and Saskatchewan. I think it is a shame that the five million plus, Canadians in these two provinces are not represented in the federal cabinet. I realize that it is hard to plan these things in advance but just whom do you think is responsible for this state of affairs? If the dislike for liberalism is that overarching in those two provinces, why give them someone else to hate by appointing some western liberals to the senate and then to the cabinet?

Back in the heyday of the Reform Party of Preston Manning, he used the slogan ‘The West wants in.’ Now we are told, ‘The West wants out.’ Alberta belongs to all of us. Where do they think they can take it?

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Now do the decent thing.

Wednesday, November 13th, 2019

Green leader Elizabeth May did the right thing. The other major party leaders, Scheer, Singh and Trudeau should follow. None completed the recent election with honour. Scheer won the popular vote and lost the election. Singh lost ground for the new democrats. Trudeau lost the West but won Ontario and Quebec and held on with a minority.

May improved her party’s membership in the commons by 50 per cent (one member) and then she resigned. In comparison, Singh lost a third of the new democratic party seats and thinks he is a hero. That supposed surge for Singh in the latter part of the campaign was reluctant NDPers admitting that there was not much choice and coming home to their party.

What is particularly odious about the crushing of Singh was the loss of former NDP seats in Quebec to the Bloc Québécois. The Bloc also took over the third-party status of the new democrats.

It will be at the first opportunity for his party to have a secret vote on his leadership that will end Jagmeet Singh’s career in federal politics. The same end is likely to be in store for Andrew Scheer.

The most amusing aspect of Mr. Scheer’s dilemma is that he could have been prime minister today, trying to win the approval of other parties to support him. What it would have taken was a change in the position taken by members of his party on the special commons committee on electoral reform. This was the committee that studied proportional representation and the conservative members of the committee insisted on holding a referendum. Nobody anticipated that a referendum would approve such a change and Justin Trudeau was forced to renege on his promise.

Despite his many short-comings, Justin Trudeau might be the only party leader able to survive a leadership vote at the next meeting of his political party. The problem is that Trudeau has been busy attempting to turn the liberal party into more of a cult than a traditional Canadian political party.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Canada’s elitist senate studies itself.

Sunday, November 10th, 2019

An argument in Canada’s senate recently was whether an independent member could spend public money to study the public attitude about the senate. While we are not entirely clear on why, it seems that independent senator Donna Dasko spent $15,000 of public money and expected it to be paid from the senate’s petty cash account. The argument flared in the senate’s internal economy committee.

The argument was on pseudo party lines between senators appointed by the previous conservative prime minister Stephen Harper and independent senators recommended by the elite recommendations committee and appointed by liberal prime minister Justin Trudeau.

What seemed to annoy the conservative members of the committee was that the independent majority approved the expense despite the claim from the conservatives that they had not even read the questions the survey asked. It also seemed improper to the conservatives that the questions were in the field just before the federal election. That seemed to be a bit partisan to these political appointees.

Senator Dasko has an excellent reputation in the polling industry as well as years of experience with Environics Research.  No doubt, we can be confident that she would not (knowingly) let the questions reflect the fact that she is a member of the organization she was studying. Though we are not entirely surprised that her basic finding is that Canadians seem to approve of liberal Justin Trudeau’s changes to the senate. It is even more likely that Canadians would welcome the immediate dismissal of the entire bunch of senators.

You hardly need a survey to find out that Canadians would be much happier with no senate for which they had to pay. The original intent of the senate was to give land owners across the country regional representation to review the expenditures of the elected commoners.

The major problem is that these senators, conservative or independent are still the only unelected people in Ottawa controlling their own ever-increasing expenses.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

A failure in leadership.

Wednesday, November 6th, 2019

If conservative leader Andrew Scheer is looking for compassion, he is looking in the wrong places. There is no succor for losers in Toronto’s Albany club. Long the King Street hangout of the rich and famous of Canadian conservatism, there is no compassion there for someone rejected by the voters of Toronto and the GTA.

And, no matter how you look at it, Chuckles’ days of power and privilege and free accommodation, in the opposition leader’s residence at Stornoway, are sliding away from him. He came, he saw what he wanted, and he lost. The story is that simple.

The only person who owes Andrew Scheer anything is Justin Trudeau. Chuckles kept Trudeau in power.

Most conservatives complicit in the selection of Andrew Sheer as leader of their party in 2017 considered him to be nothing more than a place-holder. His job was to hold the fort while Justin Trudeau went through the typical two terms as a young, fresh-faced prime minister. Nobody considered the liberal leader to be particularly vulnerable. The wheels only fell off the liberal bus early in 2019.

Liberals were cringing and conservatives were jubilant when the SNC-Lavalin affair hit the news media. It was the kind of affair that had legs. It dominated the media for months. It remains unresolved.

There were also broken promises and Trudeau’s use of his party lists for constant fund-raising that was tearing at the fabric of liberalism across Canada. The liberal party machine went into the fixed-date election in September, unprepared and in disarray.

It was an election to see who could sling the most mud. It lacked ethics, urgency and coherency. The liberals and conservatives (and, to their bias, the Parti Québécois) chose this election to divide the country. There were few answers for those of us concerned about climate change. People became tired of endless, meaningless promises as to how to spend their money.

It was a campaign that left every man and woman to look to their own needs and wants. There was no unifying theme. There was only ‘get mad, get even.’ It was a campaign to remember with sorrow. We were all losers. So far, the only party leader to do the honourable thing is Elizabeth May of the Greens. The other leaders should follow.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

A surfeit of opinions.

Saturday, October 26th, 2019

For the first time, it seemed that there really were more than enough opinions on this election. Not only did we have the political blogs and usual social media postings but those handy newsletters from major media are now routine. The first to sign off was Kady O’Malley of iPolitics from her daily opinion piece for the Toronto Star. It was called The Lead, for some unexplained reason.

As opinion newsletters go, O’Malley’s was not too bad. It was not as breezy and nonchalant as Vassy Kapelos’ CBC newsletters nor did she have the depth of her colleague at the Toronto Star, Jordan Himmelfarb, who did the weekly campaign wraps.

But newsletters have come a long way since they can be so easily distributed by e-mail. They are mostly being used as sales tools for the Internet newsletters with paywalls and pseudo newspapers that have cropped up covering most cities. The sales teaser promoting the Hill Times was probably too restrictive in what it was giving for free and might not have done the job intended.

I expect that this type of promotion has hurt the readership of many Canadian bloggers who talk about politics. The difference with blogs such as Babel-on-the-Bay is that we can understand what is happening in the inner sanctums of the politicians as well as or even better than the news media.

But it has been interesting to compare the pattern of readership of Babel in the last Ontario provincial election and this federal election. There is a bell curve that develops when a current campaign is of interest and you can find hundreds of new readers are checking your site. The peak of the bell curve was later this year. What I think happened was that people became frustrated by the admission of the new newsletters that they could not assess the situation. It was when we realized the frustration, that Babel-on-the-Bay decided to run the Morning Line. We might have been a bit late but the readership on the bell curve continued to grow past election day.

But it always pays to leave on a high note. After years of daily postings, this writer is taking a break. I am going to spend the time reassessing this hobby. If you have any suggestions, we welcome them. We will return in November.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Justin Trudeau doesn’t do humble.

Friday, October 25th, 2019

The media seemed to see Justin Trudeau’s speech on Wednesday as contrition. It was not. Not in the minds of many liberals who worked to give him this second chance.

And that is what it was on Monday night. It is a second chance to get it right. It is not a second chance to screw things up. It is like nobody really gives a damn if he has a gender-balanced cabinet. If you start with people competent in the job, who cares if they are all women. They have a job to do for Canadians. What does their sex have to do with it?

Canadian voters delivered a message to all politicians on Monday and Justin Trudeau was hardly listening. Yes, it was an “ugly and divisive campaign” and Justin owes a sincere apology to the liberals who still voted for him and kept the hordes from the gates.

And what about those liberals on the prairies who threw themselves into the pyre in the name of liberalism? In that act of honour, they made the point that there is still some human kindness left in a society that puts its wants ahead of the needs of our children’s children.

And why does the prime minister still carry the torch of the Trans Mountain pipeline that stressed out so many of his supporters during this campaign? You cannot juggle environmentalism and the shipment of bitumen to further foul the very earth on which we need to live.

And what of the prime minister’s native province? Yes, we knew it would dismiss the remnants of the Orange Wave that had lost its way in the wilderness. To replace the hopes and dreams of Jack Layton with the mob of péquiste from the Bloc was a figurative finger to the rest of Canada. We were damn lucky that they did not end up with the balance of power. Instead, they are a body without muscle and their rhetoric and objectives can be ignored.

At this stage, we should worry more about Justin Trudeau and his corporal’s guard of liberals and what they will do to earn redemption?

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Nobody hates Albertans.

Thursday, October 24th, 2019

It has never been personal. A close friend of mine in the oil business always used to greet me with the comment. “Damn, you haven’t frozen in the dark yet!” Back when they lived in Denver, Colorado, the wife and I would drop off our kids with him and his wife (the wife’s BFF from high school days). The kids got in some good skiing, while the wife and I enjoyed the shows and action in Las Vegas.

When they moved back to Calgary, he and I had some interesting discussions about the oil business. The exploitation of the tar sands was still something in the distance but he certainly knew that the province’s crude oil reserves were nearing the end of their run.

What I did not understand was the lack of political motivation for the province to diversify its economy. The question should always have been: If that industry shut down tomorrow, how long would it take to absorb the people into the broader economy? You could never get a decent answer.

And why did nobody care? In Calgary, they were building homes out into the prairies and nobody worried about when the balloon would burst. The reality is that tar sands exploitation is a serious polluter before you measure a barrel of anything. Despite the scenes of enormous open pit mining of bitumen, the reality is that most of the tar sands are below ground and double drilling and hot water is used to force the future fuel up from underground seams.

The dirty water from bringing up the bitumen and washing out the sands is in itself a serious environmental hazard. Settling ponds for this dirty water are not a natural phenomenon. In addition, refining of bitumen into ersatz crude oil takes even more energy and creates what is known as bitumen slag, produced from the excess carbon in bitumen.

I have read various estimates that say that producing crude oil from the tar sands creates three to five times the carbon of Texas light crude. I expect it depends on the source of the bitumen. And calling bitumen ‘heavy oil’ is an attempt to describe it as something it is not.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Really, Ms. May?

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019

There was a last shot fired in the federal election on Sunday that really disappointed me. I thought more highly of Elizabeth May of the green party. After all, where have you heard this line before? “Elect (this party) and this will be the last federal government in Canada chosen by the first-past-the-post system.”

Give yourself a pat on the back if you guessed it was said by liberal Justin Trudeau in 2015. He was also wrong. This time, it was said by the green’s Elizabeth May

But what really annoyed me was that Ms. May was there, on the special committee of parliament, that blew smoke on Justin Trudeau’s promise. I watched one very long summer to every live-streaming meeting of that special committee, that I could, read all the transcripts and noted Ms. May’s usually thoughtful and succinct comments.

What those committee hearings showed us was that there were few academics or elections experts in Canada or around the world who really understood the different strategies on voting—their weaknesses and their strengths.

The teaching moment was lost though when the various parties represented on the committee came to the voting on what to do. It was the hardened intransigence of the conservatives that forced the committee report that the liberals could not accept. Justin Trudeau might have thrown his hands up in surrender but he did not change his mind. He was determined that his government was not going to agree to a referendum that would prove nothing.

Canadians had already demonstrated in three provinces, that included Ontario and British Columbia, that they would be quite unlikely to approve any recommendation on voting other than first-past-the-post.

There is still a faction who believe that some change is necessary. As we come to accept Internet voting as the safe, inexpensive and fast way to vote, we can look at the French system of run-off elections. This might be the compromise that is needed.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Go angry into the night.

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2019

Canada went to bed angry last night; a failed decision behind us. We had bought into distrust and grievance and discord. We set aside our normal fairness and caring. Greed seemed to be the only compromise. It was a failure in leadership and trust. The next election is not in four years but anytime that there might be an advantage.

Some of Quebec’s francophones gave the rest of us Canadians the finger last night. They chose to send a group of separatist Bloc Québécois members to parliament—but not to contribute to the common good. Thankfully, they did not win the balance of power.

The harshness of the Prairie choices was a more critical critique of confederation. And the failure of the greens to grow and to take their commitments to parliament spells continued conflict over pipelines.

But Jason Kenney in Alberta has to realize that by failing to address his anger in parliament, he is but a dog barking in the night.

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer can take off his clown make-up and let his party stew over his poor leadership. When is the safe time to replace him?

Jagmeet Singh and his NDP took their losses but retained party status and can offer the support the liberals need to govern. Maybe the NDP will end up with a direction after all.

And the liberals suffer from the same dilemma. Justin Trudeau has much to learn about politics, political parties and leadership. The difference might be that he is still teachable.

But he let us down here in the catbird seat in Ontario. Once again, we had a winnable candidate, we had the skills and we had the desire to win and the party let us down. There were important lessons learned in Milton. Political campaigns do not start when the writ comes down. They start the day after the last campaign.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

“Mommy, It’s over!”

Monday, October 21st, 2019

The sign-off for the Just for Laughs television show seems quite appropriate for this election. Though it was hardly just for laughs. There are still a lot of tears to be shed over this 43rd Canadian General Election. Having a green monster wailing to his mommy seems the right tone to end it.

There were lies told and vulgar language used. It was just not always comedic. As in any show of this type, you have to rate the actors individually.

The prize for most improved went to the boy born at Sussex Drive. Did you note that he was no longer saying ‘Aahh’ while thinking of the next part of his answer? He had obviously been quietly taking elocution lessons as well as training on the use of teleprompters.

‘Chuckles’ Scheer, on the other hand, is still a work in progress. The high cheek bones that earned him the clown title are most often hidden under make-up and his handlers are trying to expand his current repertoire of two facial expressions (surprise and puzzlement). His wife is often with him on the hustings late in the campaign, in a further attempt to soften his image.

But the growing meanness and cruelty of conservatism in this age still nags at Scheer and his candidates. He can hardly deny premiers Ford and Kenney and their unfeeling cuts, refusal to understand global warming and failure to understand the critical relations with other countries that Canadians have gained around the world.

Jagmeet Singh might have stirred the cold hearts of the news media but the growth he has claimed during the campaign has been among the NDP supporters who had given up on him. He is still facing serious losses of previously held seats in Quebec, no potential for growth in Ontario and lost hopes on the Prairies.

Election-day reality in Quebec is most likely to be conservative and NDP losses to the Bloc and the liberals.

What surprises me is that there seems to be no organized effort in B.C. to move to Elizabeth May and the greens and guarantee the end of the Trans Mountain pipeline.

And then, maybe my sources are wrong!

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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