Archive for the ‘Federal Politics’ Category

“Some animals are more equal…”

Monday, September 24th, 2018

George Orwell’s Animal Farm told us more about humans than about animals and why some pigs are more equal than others. This subject came readily to mind the other day when reading about our liberal government’s attitude regarding protecting political party databases. Having worked with some of the earlier and cruder database efforts by the liberals, I find their attitude concerning.

Despite the recommendation of an all-party committee of the house of commons, the liberal government has refused to have any oversight or privacy rules applied to party databases. Their obduracy goes so far as to refuse to advise liberal adherents if their data has been hacked.

For myself, I would prefer that the liberal party’s present version of Liberalist knows less about me until the party’s system security takes a quantum leap forward.

The last time I had easy access to liberal party data, I had offered to do some back-up data entry of canvassing results. An ulterior motive was that it gave me entry to correct my own data. With the unrestricted use of automated calling to ostensively poll the voters, I had taken lying to pollsters to new levels. I always told automated systems that I was voting for a party or candidate at random.

The problem was that since the days when we kept the data about voters on ‘3 by 5’ cards, data collected by supposedly ‘independent’ pollsters was often the parties calling to find out how you would vote. Back when we actually talked to a human pollster, I had always engaged the caller in conversation and, usually, had determined who was behind the poll before answering anything. I could follow the effectiveness of this on voting day when all three major parties would call to remind me to vote.

It was even funnier when voting and seeing all three inside scrutineers check me off as a vote for their party.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

“Once more unto the breach, my friends…”

Friday, September 21st, 2018

The Hordes are at the gates of Castle Liberal on the Rideau and William Shakespeare, once more has appropriate words at the ready. With a year left of his tattered mandate, prime minister Justin Trudeau had best take the advice of Henry V and plug the breach with his dead and soldier on.

And speaking of soldering, you might be wondering how soon we will be dusting-off the Highway of Heroes for the casualties of his ill-considered and ill-fated peace-keeping expedition to the Sahara Desert?

Like most of his political problems, Justin creates them for himself. A good example was his promise in 2015 hat it would be the last time voters would use first-past-the-post voting. He disappointed a few people with that one.

He did the same with assisted dying. The bill was so watered down by the time it passed, that not even many of the dying were pleased.

And while he might have helped some families and the theoretical middle class over his term, he has ignored seniors. They vote too.

And while some people think he has stood firm with U.S. president Trump, his stance is really something more like petrified. He has absolutely no understanding of how to handle that child-man. Judging by their relative ages, he might hope to outlast him.

There are two things that really griped this commentator: In Trudeau’s desperate attempt to feel some love from Alberta, he has spent $4.7 billion of public money on a pipeline to serve the greed of one province.

And by completing the planned twinning of the line, he will be making a farce of all his promises and all our hopes for the world environment.

At the same time, Trudeau has been destroying the federal liberal party. There are no memberships in to-day’s liberal party. He has turned the party lists into an unequivocal sucker list. This list is held above the law and nobody has any guarantee of its privacy. Can you believe that you get better protection on Facebook?

But, it should be pointed out that Justin Trudeau has help going into next year’s trials. They are Andrew ‘Chuckles’ Scheer and Jagmeet Singh. They are the leaders of Canada’s conservative and new democratic parties respectively. They have both shown themselves inadequate to the task before them. Their parties need leadership.

Justin Trudeau needs to be challenged.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

And confusion for ‘Chuckles.’

Thursday, September 20th, 2018

There must be days when conservative leader Andrew ‘Chuckles’ Scheer goes home to his taxpayer-provided hideaway at Stornoway and asks the wife why he is doing his duty for the ungrateful. He gets scorn from across the aisle in parliament. He gets static from his loyal(?) caucus. He is ignored by most Canadians. And then he has to go wash out his mouth with soap for what he says about Maxime Bernier.

He thought he had an uptick the other day when a disgruntled liberal crossed the floor. The last thing Chuckles needs is another conservative caucus member who feels entitled.

His concern is that it might not be worth it. He knows the loss of Bernier from caucus is a load off his mind. He just has no idea how many conservatives Bernier might take with him to the newly minted Peoples’ Party of Canada (PPC). Like Doug Ford in Ontario, Bernier could suck up more of the publicity that Chuckles needs.

Chuckles has enough trouble with Justin Trudeau. He hardly needs Bernier to add to his problems. Scheer’s brain trust has impressed on him that he has to be seen as backing Trudeau’s effort to save NAFTA. He has no choice but to back Trudeau on the damn Kinder Morgan pipeline foolishness. How else is Alberta and the conservative ‘enfant terrible’ Kenney going to make Alberta rich again?

It is really a good thing that Chuckles has never had a reputation of thinking for himself before. He is not doing much better now that he is caretaker of the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC).

But what burns him is that Trudeau has become vulnerable. And they are just not playing a friendly game of bridge. Trudeau has created a serious sore in the body of the liberal party. There is a very large group of environmentally conscious Canadians who normally vote liberal. These liberals are concerned about this pipeline that is designed solely to spread pollution from Canada’s tar sands around the world.

And next year when the construction of that pipeline gets into full swing, the newspapers will give the environmentalist protestors front page and the television networks will show the mayhem in B.C. What will really stick in Chuckles’ craw will be the NDP and the Greens at the front of the parade. The poor guy cannot get a break.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

 

Bernier bids from the Beauce.

Monday, September 17th, 2018

The beauty and tranquility of La Beauce makes the region a must for tourists seeking the essence of Quebec’s joie de vivre. Each season in La Beauce offers its special attractions. This year, a new season has been added: it is political, it is the ‘silly season.’ It is Maxime Bernier’s introduction of his new political party: The People’s Party of Canada.

The party name tells it all. The name is classic in its hypocrisy. Think of all the contemporary politicians who talk about being for the people—are they really? Do they not just use people?

Is Mr. Bernier a people’s politician? Or is he just a libertarian? He looks down on Canada’s conservatives. He calls them “morally corrupt.” He has always represented the extremist right wing of the conservatives.

Last year Bernier was the second last choice of almost half of Canada’s conservatives voting for a new party leader. That was not an impressive accomplishment. It meant that in a preferential ballot, he was among the 13 candidates in a count of 141,000 ballots cast. To further complicate the counting, all electoral districts were allocated up to 100 votes. Where more than 100 votes were obtained, the vote percentage applied. Who really won hardly matters as the ballots were destroyed after the count.

Preferential voting tends to drill down among the candidates. If you do not have a winner on the first count, you count the losing candidates’ second choice and so on until someone has more than 50 per cent. In this way, the losers get to choose the winners and usually nobody is happy.

Bernier was certainly not happy playing second fiddle to Andrew ‘Chuckles’ Scheer. Their honeymoon only lasted a year while Bernier made plans. It was in this time that he came up with the idea of the peoples’ party. Which only proves that Maxime Bernier only has a vague idea of what it takes to launch a new political party.

He knows it takes money so he proudly announced that he had raised $140,000 to fund his party when he announced its name. Where he will get the $5 to 6 million required in just the coming year, he might not know. You would think if he checked with people such as Preston Manning of the former Reform Party or Lucien Bouchard of the Bloc Québécois, they would have told him the real needs. Bernier needs to get real.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

On second thought Mr. Singh.

Saturday, September 15th, 2018

He has no other to blame than himself. Jagmeet Singh sought to lead the federal new democrats and where has he taken them? Has the party advanced during his tenure of the past year? Are more Canadians offering dues, fealty, funds and support to the party? What new programs, policies, promises has the party proposed? What is nirvana for Singh’s socialists?

And where do you go from here Mr. Singh?

Will a by-election in Burnaby South save Singh? Despite the electoral district being held last by new democrat MP Kennedy Stewart, who has resigned to run for Mayor of Vancouver, it is by no means a safe NDP seat. There are probably many there who thought Singh sat too long on the fence between the Alberta and B.C. NDP parties’ pipeline battles.

One thing for sure, neither the conservatives not liberals are about to give Singh a free pass. It has been a long-established custom for the major parties to not contest a party leader seeking a seat in the Commons. It is a courtesy that has been forgotten in the heat of the arguments about the Kinder Morgan pipeline from Alberta. Only the Green’s have given Singh a pass since his new-found resolve to fight the pipeline.

But that is a single issue and nobody knows where else the NDP stand today. Past leader Tom Mulcair took the party to the right in the last federal election and nobody knows much about Singh’s philosophy. Where Singh wants to take the party is still a mystery.

Part of the problem is that Singh won the NDP leadership vote because of all the Sikhs in B.C. and Ontario who joined the party. Whether the immigrant sign-ups swamped the existing sign ups, we were not told. All we got was the announcement that Singh won on the first ballot.

That win might be a cautionary tale as Ontario leader (briefly) Brown was himself able to swamp the low-tide membership of the Ontario progressive conservatives. With his links to Indian sub-continent immigrants in Ontario, his 40,000 sign-ups were able to swamp the dismal membership of the Tories.

On top of the open rebellion by MPs and MLAs in Saskatchewan over the Weir ouster, there could be a party-wide call for Jagmeet Singh’s scalp if he loses the by-election in Burnaby South. It probably would not help but they might feel better after dumping Singh.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Is ‘Lyin Brian’ Trump’s Judas goat?

Thursday, September 13th, 2018

We saw how former prime minister Brian Mulroney negotiated the original NAFTA. When the public service negotiators hit an impasse, Mulroney sent in finance minister Michael Wilson to replace the professionals and close the deal. Canadians ended up with free trade with the United States of America. Whether it was fair trade was a subject for debates.

But there was no debate until now that both countries did well by the agreement. With the inclusion of Mexico, the three countries economies became closely intertwined. And they shared the benefits of being a highly successful trading group.

Enter Trump. Donald Trump decided to run to be president of the United States of America on a whim. He campaigned on hollow slogans and obvious falsehoods. One of those many falsehoods was the claim that Canada was given unfair advantage under NAFTA. He said it so often to his claque and to his mirror that he came to believe it.

But Donald Trump has been given a lot of static from his political allies and supporters that he should not end the deal with the Canadians. He has determined that he needs some sort of a win over the Canadians to show his claque that he is a good negotiator. His problem is that he is a bully and a bad negotiator. He thinks he can threaten the Canadians on social media and get his way. He wants to negotiate in public. All he is doing is turning Canadians against him.

Mind you, he has the odd friend. And speaking of odd friends, one of Trump’s friends is Brian Mulroney. The former prime minister has been advising prime minister Trudeau on how to handle Trump. His advice, we are told, is to give up on some part of the supply management Canadians have with its dairy industry. If Donald Trump can take some win on dairy products to his supporters, he can claim it is a win for America and spare NAFTA.

This proposal is about the worst advice that Mulroney can give to Trudeau. First of all it would cost the prime minister seats in parliament from both Quebec and Ontario. It would make his government a single term event.

Trudeau would be far better off to tell Mulroney and Trump to stick their suggestion where the sun does not shine. Win or lose on NAFTA, Trudeau would still be in better shape for the election next year.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Keeping calm in chaos.

Monday, September 10th, 2018

Not being a big fan of Canada’s foreign minister Chrystia Freeland, I must admit that she is very good at handling the news media. Being a former journalist certainly helps. And you have to admit that she is under a great deal of pressure from the media to tell it like it is about the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiations.

For her not to admit that some of the chaos created by president Trump has to be impacting the negotiations is just not credible. It is like when you are in the eye of a hurricane, it might feel calm but you can see the surrounding mayhem of the storm.

Nor can Freeland and her team not feel the tensions of the people on the other side of the table. Their work is compromised daily by the irresponsible carrying-on of their commander-in-chief. Nobody is capable of negotiating in good faith in such an atmosphere.

In the same way, it is impossible for prime minister Trudeau’s team to give in on any of the key issues that Trump is demanding. Boiling it down to supply management of dairy products, fair dispute resolution and protection of Canadian culture makes resolution even harder as there is really nothing left with which to negotiate.

It is almost as though the U.S. negotiators are complicit with Freeland in the role of Ulysses’ wife, Penelope, unraveling her daily stint of weaving the shroud for Ulysses father. That is great but it makes us all wonder about the end game when the Canadians flip Trump the bird. (That is also known as the Canadian salute.)

It is hardly possible that they could be hoping it would cause the American president to have a stroke. That child-man has been practicing tantrums for 70 years and it is just a daily exercise for him. If anything would cause him a stroke, it would be finding out who on his staff wrote the recent anonymous opinion piece for the New York Times. America’s better media are bent on destroying Trump and lately have been showing some muscle.

But Freeland’s problems are in the here and now. She needs to understand that she might have to fall on her sword and take the blame if the entire negotiation fails. It is what the good soldier does.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Left is the lonely lane.

Saturday, September 8th, 2018

I have never felt so alone in politics. The left, the progressive, the social democrat is a dying breed. Even the federal New Democratic Party is struggling with fund raising and direction as it sluggishly moves to the right. All political parties have felt the shifting of the sands.

But, when you have no idea where you are going, what is the price of a ticket?

Where is Justin Trudeau taking Canadian liberalism? He has traded in his father’s progressivism for a cult of elitism and personality. The younger Trudeau’s worshipful followers allow him carte blanche to turn a party of the ideas and idealism of his patrimony into a willing parade of sycophants.

Where does Trudeau think he is going with his pipeline of pollution from the tar sands? He wants to be the poster boy for environmentalism and yet he betrays all that he has proclaimed.

And why can he not stand up to a person such as Donald Trump? There is no admiration in Canada for Trump Quislings. Trump is but a nascent dictator in a battle to the death with an inept Congress.

Yet, leadership is also in limited supply across Canada these days. The natural alternative party boasts a caretaker leader, struggling with a caustic caucus. ‘Chuckles’ Scheer spells nothing other than missed chances for the country’s real conservatives.

At the same time, the party of Tommy Douglas is crumbling. They dumped a leader whose only fault was he was older than Justin Trudeau. With the help of an influx of Sikh members, they opted for an observant Sikh to lead them. He chose not to enter parliament on the tails of the publicity, and he was soon forgotten. With a leader unable to be noticed and a party unable to raise needed funds, the federal new democrats have failed themselves and failed Canadians.

But nature hates a vacuum of any kind and it is in the provinces we are seeing the real leadership struggles. B.C. teeters with a precarious minority government that is fighting a fellow NDP regime in Alberta and the federal government. Saskatchewan and Ontario have joined to defy a federal carbon tax. And Quebec oddsmakers are touting a provincial regime further to the right than before.

They leave no home or hope for those who deny the corporatism of fascism as vast companies defy the incoherence of mere nations. There is little hope for those of us who put the needs of people ahead of the right-wing populists who say they are “For the People.”

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Bernier’s boy begs off.

Wednesday, September 5th, 2018

I guess it is not going to happen. My member of parliament is not the brightest bulb on the conservative party’s tree but he does not seem eager to head out into the wilderness to follow former conservative, Quebec’s Maxime Bernier. Maybe someone explained the difference between conservatism and libertarianism to him.

After all, before Bernier took him under his wing in the federal party, Alex Nuttall was an acolyte of Barrie’s pragmatic wannabe MP and MPP Patrick Brown. Nuttall seemed to take a lot of stop-gap jobs over the years waiting for Brown’s retirement.

Alex Nuttall, conservative, was elected to parliament in the electoral district of Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte in October, 2015. The voting breakdown told a story. The liberal candidate won in a close fight in the Barrie portion of the electoral district. He lost to the farmers in Springwater Township. On a recount, Nuttall won because of those farmers by 86 votes. The farmers did not know him. Voters in Barrie had a chance to see him on their city council.

But the point of this is that Bernier’s boy Alex Nuttall was the only MP to support Bernier’s bid for the leadership of the federal conservatives in 2017. When ‘Chuckles’ Scheer won over Bernier by a narrow margin, you have to remember it was a preferential vote that selected the least objectionable candidate, winning over a field of also-rans.

It took more than a year for Scheer to get thoroughly tired of Bernier and Bernier to lay plans for his next party participation. Whether Bernier starts his own party or just co-opts the Libertarian Party of Canada is immaterial. He takes a stand on the far side of right from Canada’s conservatives. His best hunting grounds for support are in Alberta where his former cabinet colleague Jason Kenney has pulled every trick in the book to unite the right and be ready to take the new mongrel party into the next provincial election.

But it looks like some of those former Wildrose party people are already tired of tilling the fields for dictator Kenney and would welcome the return to a libertarian fold.

And if that prospect did not scare hell out of a babe-in-the-woods such as Alex Nuttall, then he probably still does not understand the difference between Canadian libertarians and conservatives.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Harper’s henchmen halted.

Tuesday, September 4th, 2018

The earth is still shaking in Alberta from the Federal Court of Appeal finally corralling the Calgary-based National Energy Board (NEB). The court was asking the logical questions about the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion project. The industry is angry and the politicians all a-twitter. It was high time that someone questioned that industry’s dominance of its regulator and their cozy relations at the Calgary Petroleum Club.

But it was Trudeau coming to power three years ago and allowing the relationship to continue that was worrisome. When Brian Mulroney’s conservative government moved the NEB to Calgary in 1991, the idea was to have the board more directly involved with the energy sector based there. It was under the Harper government that it appeared obvious that only the industry was the beneficiary. Many liberals considered the NEB to be just another squadron of prime minister Harper’s henchmen.

The lack of depth and concern over environmental issues has been obvious to many. During the examination of the Line 9 Enbridge pipeline reversal and increase in capacity was my worst experience in trying to meet with NEB board members. The staff in Calgary are polite and interested but the chances of getting any hearing from the board were slim.

The fact that Line 9 crosses the top of the Yonge Street subway line in Toronto was a safety concern, the NEB chose to ignore. Considering the cavern of condos running downhill from that location with tens of thousands of residents, the willingness to ignore concerns was cavalier and worrying.

But luckily the judges at the federal appeal court disagreed with their laissez-faire attitude about the environment with the Kinder Morgan expansion. The judges considered the consultation with the first nations to be flawed and the lack of environmental concern for the ocean tankers coming into the Burrard Inlet terminus to be an unjustified failure.

The guy with the egg on his face from this fiasco is Canada’s environmental poster boy, Justin Trudeau. His government is now the proud owner of a $4.7 billion pipeline, along with plans and equipment to twin the line and no credibility.

The prime minister might have the power to overrule the court and simply say the pipeline is in the national interest—or even just in Alberta’s interest—but it would hardly help him get re-elected next year.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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