Archive for the ‘Federal Politics’ Category

Kevin O’Leary was never in.

Friday, April 28th, 2017

When TV personality Kevin O’Leary declared himself out of the federal Conservative leadership race the other day, it was a race he had never really been in. He came late to the party and left early. He brought nothing to it, he learned nothing from it and he left nothing behind. It was a was a waste of time and money.

O’Leary was another ill wind in the Conservative campaign. He left behind a bad taste and a kiss-off for candidate Maxime Bernier. He ignored all the party rules governing the race and gave Canadian politics the finger (Known as flipping the bird in his home-town Boston.) His support for libertarian, playboy Maxime Bernier was the ultimate insult.

If O’Leary was impressed with Bernier speaking French, it would be because O’Leary had no idea what was being said. What his advisers should have told him was that as definitely as he was making no traction in Quebec, neither was Bernier. If Bernier cannot win Quebec, what makes O’Leary think his endorsement will help?

And, by the way, O’Leary’s name is still on the ballot. That was just another rule he broke. Nobody is allowed to bow out at this time when voting is technically already in progress. Now he can be doubly embarrassed when the votes are counted. Did he really turn in 35,000 new members of the party? Did the people doing that for him spread that waste of money equally across 338 electoral districts?

Anyway, 35,000 memberships are not going to have much impact on the 250,000 federal Conservative membership. It is not like the provincial party in Ontario that was bought and paid for by Patrick Brown’s supporters. And if you do not think the Ontario Progressive Conservative caucus of MPPs in Ontario do not already hate Brown, wait for the 2018 elections.

If Bernier thinks O’Leary supporters would vote for a candidate such as him, he is more delusional about Canadian politics than the guy he called a “loser” and a “bad candidate” just a month or so ago.

Some of O’Leary’s votes might go to MP Erin O’Toole from Ontario, but they would have to be thinking Conservatives as opposed to the usual thoughtless ballot marking sign-up. And the funny part of this is that those new sign-ups are unlikely to be told how to mark their second, third, etc. votes.

The computer program being used to pick the winner in this confused contest is beginning to look even more questionable when you consider how many people voting who might not even mark a second or subsequent choice.

Maybe Kevin O’Leary will come back when the party announces the winner. He can be loser number 13 in the kick-line.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Buck Booking’s Blues.

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

Some wonder how the time of the British Royals to visit the colonies is allocated across the British Commonwealth of Nations and other friendly countries. What if this was all funneled through a call centre at Buckingham Palace in London, England? Imagine a recently recorded call at the North American desk:

“Buck Booking, Harry speaking. This call is being recorded for quality assurance and legal purposes.”

“Hi Harry, this is Eloise at the Prime Minister’s Office in Ottawa. We need to book some royals for the July 1, Canada Day celebrations in front of our parliament buildings.”

“Oh, yes madam, Please excuse the way I answered your call. Most of our calls on the North American desk are from Americans wanting a royal to grace a dinner party or play some polo. They feel honoured for us to be breezy with them.”

“That is no problem Harry. Yet, your voice sounds familiar. What is your last name?”

“It’s Windsor, madam. And to save time I will have to admit that my grandmother insisted I do this job along with my regular duties as a penance. There was this lovely, young American tourist who wanted to make love at Buckingham Palace. I accommodated her on a balcony. If she had not been a screamer, it would not have mattered that it was the balcony off my granny’s bedroom. Mind you, it was worth it to see the expressions on the guards in the courtyard when they figured out where the screaming was coming from.

“But back to business, madam. That was July 1, you said? What year?”

“Well, this year of course. Canada will be celebrating 150 years of being a nation. Most of the bands, singers, entertainers and fireworks were booked by the previous government but they seem to have forgotten to book a royal for the occasion.”

“Au contraire madam. There is a note in the file here that that they booked my dear papa for the occasion. The Prince of Wales and his lovely wife Camilla are flying to Ottawa on May 29. And please do not forget that under the post-BREXIT rules, The Canadian government will be charged 20,000 pounds sterling per day plus expenses for their visit.

“But we want William and Kate.”

“You can’t afford them madam.”

Buck Booking hung up.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

The myth of being Liberal.

Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

One of our respected progressive bloggers from British Columbia wrote recently something less than a paean (song of praise) about the Liberals in that province. His thesis is that B.C. Liberals are just Conservatives in sheep’s clothing and now the federal sheep have joined them. He insists that the Liberal ideal has vanished from Canada.

His is the logical conclusion. Canada’s three largest provincial governments have governments that are Liberal in name only. The Quebec Liberals are the successors to the right-wing Union Nationale and are interchangeable with the federal Conservatives. Ontario’s Liberals might pose as left wing but are hard-nosed and conservative when it comes to economics. They operate under the direction of Bay Street. The B.C. Liberals are in turn bought and paid for by business interests who see the beauty and majesty of the province only in terms of exploitation.

And each of those provincial governments are crumbling. British Columbia goes to vote soon with signs of switching governing parties. It will, hopefully, be to one that does not exploit the land for business interests and does not constantly leave itself open to possible charges of corruption.

Ontario will be next in the spring of 2018. The problem there is the leadership. Premier Wynne has lost support from voters and from within her party. The premier of Quebec probably thinks he is lucky to have no real opposition at this time but it will come.

The problem with the federal Liberal Party of Canada is that it no longer exists as a viable political party. There is a façade registered as a political party by that name but it has no paid-up membership. Instead it has a list of people across Canada that it can constantly pester for financial support. There is no real hands-on relationship between this list and any rights of party membership. Instead of policy, it uses a cult of personality in the person of the leader. The list has no rights or reasons to meet. Local liberals are denied the selection of their candidate for parliament. They have no real say on party policy. There is no future for federal liberals in Canada.

But the need for liberalism continues. Liberals have to be progressives, they have to support the rights of the individual in society as well as the need for dignity and freedom. Liberals seek cultural, economic and personal growth for all in a non-judgemental society. Life on this beautiful planet is a wonderful gift. We should leave it a better place for our having been here.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Is Justin the adult in the school yard?

Sunday, April 23rd, 2017

Has Prime Minister Trudeau been getting advice from psychologists on how to handle a bully? It is certainly to his credit that he is keeping his cool. Donald Trump continues to lob his ignorant taunts over the longest undefended border in the world and Canada’s prime minister just says, “We can discuss that.”

As angry as that loudmouth boor Trump makes most Canadians, it is important that our prime minister stay above the fray. As he says, Canadians will be pleased to discuss the problems with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). And to help, we have our own list of problems with the agreement ready for the negotiations.

When dealing with any irrational bully, you have find out what is behind the screaming and yelling. For you to scream and yell back at the irrational juvenile will do you no good.

For example, we really need to find out where this recent mention of the energy market came from. Many Canadians took exception to the American demand for full access to our energy reserves in NAFTA. They thought that was being too generous. And with what we now know about the pollution problems with tar sands oil production, there is growing pressure to leave it in the ground.

What is common knowledge on both sides of the border is that the Canadian milk producers have nothing to do with the disastrous over-production of milk in Wisconsin. When you consider that there are more steroid-fed cows in Wisconsin than there are cows in Canada, nobody but Trump would think to blame Canada. Wisconsin voted for Trump and helped put him in the White House. Now that he is there, he needs to play nice with the other world leaders—whether he likes them or not.

The one thing that we have understood from Trump’s tiresome tirades is the concern for soft-wood lumber on the west coast. That NAFTA argument has been in and out of the courts a number of times. How renegotiation would solve it is anyone’s guess. All we do know about this complaint is that the lumber kings of Oregon and Washington are going to be able to charge a lot more for their products when they do not have to compete with the lumber kings north of the border. Only the American home buyer will get screwed.

We do not always agree with Justin Trudeau but it is nice to see him handle this problem with Trump in an adult manner. He gets his handiwork stuck on the refrigerator for this one!

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Trump’s ‘Milk of Human Kindness.’

Thursday, April 20th, 2017

“Once again unto the breach” (sorry Mr. Shakespeare) President Trump jumps into a situation of which he has absolutely no understanding. He is making a habit of it and this time he is trying to skewer the Canadians. He has pitted the free market, unfettered Wisconsin dairy farmers against what Trump calls the ‘unfair’ position of Canada’s farm marketing boards.

That must be what you get when you do something decent for people. The milk marketing board in Ontario is probably always under fire for its trying to balance the cost of production with the price at the farm gate for milk. What it is trying to do is to keep farmers producing while keeping the price to consumers at a reasonable level.

Americans should not knock it until they try it. Under the Canadian boards, a company that unilaterally cut off 75 farmers because it wanted to switch to lower world milk prices would be out of the milk-related business. A Canadian board would not allow that kind of disruption in the market.

But President Trump is telling the farmers in Wisconsin that we are just unfair. Tell that to the soft-wood lumber people in British Columbia. He really does not understand that you cannot have free trade agreements with other countries and then demand that federal and state governments buy American to the exclusion of your free trade partners.

What Trump does not understand is that the highly integrated North American market demands open borders to speed commerce back and forth. Canada exports far more raw materials to the United States for processing than the U.S. sends to Canada. We are probably America’s most reliable supplier. We are also the best customer that America has ever had.

Cooler heads in Washington had better start thinking seriously about where Trump is taking them. If he really starts building walls between countries that are his neighbours, he is liable to start something he cannot control. His approach to these concerns could throw North America into an economic tailspin that could ultimately create a world-wide recession. Will anyone want to ‘buy America’ then?

Donald Trump should start getting his information straight or shut up.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

The saccharine sweetness of Andrew Scheer.

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017

After watching Conservative Party leadership contender Andrew Scheer M.P. on Global’s West Block program last Sunday, it felt like you were coming down from a sugar high. You wonder if that guy can ever rid himself of that grin. The wife liked him at first but after a full six minutes of it, she had tired of him. She realized that he had nothing to say.

This writer used to talk about the Bobbsey Twins of the Harper government. They were the cabinet twins of John Baird and Jason Kenney. The Bobbsey Twins of the post-Harper era are MPs Erin O’Toole from Ontario and Andrew Scheer from Saskatchewan. Both are from the far right of the party. Both would be equally at home among libertarians.

But in the current leadership race, they are cancelling each other out. Scheer is the darling of the Conservative caucus and Alberta and Saskatchewan Conservatives. O’Toole might be from Ontario but he has mined the easier ore bodies in Atlantic Canada and even won Peter Mackay’s blessing.

Neither is a leader. The reason they are in the top seven in the race is their blandness. While neither has to talk for long to position themselves, they are offering a short-term solution to the party. They are both more or less promising to do a balanced job through the next election, lose gracefully and then fall on their sword to make room for a real leader.

While both might have a substantial number of votes among people filling out their ballot down to the tenth choice, the counting might not get that far. This race should be decided by the time the computerized count gets down to dropping off the eighth losing candidate. Do not forget that this decision will be made by the accumulated second, third and fourth choices of the people who first voted for a loser.

And when you figure that the first four almost sure to be eliminated in the counting will be Rick Peterson, Andrew Saxton, Deepak Obrai and Brad Trost, you realize that they will not have many second and third votes to distribute to the remainder. It might not be until maybe nine of the original 14 have been eliminated that a winner emerges.

But before you do any more mathematics, you have to remember that each of 338 electoral districts has 100 points to share among its party membership. This is one of those “fair” voting systems that the special parliamentary committee rejected last year. And how much trust do you have in it?

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

An equal and opposite reaction.

Monday, April 17th, 2017

Maybe we are talking about different sciences here but you would think that politics and energy would have some similar characteristics. What we are thinking of here is the tendency of the politics of the left to react to the actions of the politics of the right. For example, if Canada’s right-wing parties split would there be a reaction in the left-wing parties?

And knock off the laughter. You do not have to be too old to remember the days of the Reform and Alliance parties fighting with the Old Progressive Conservative Party of Canada. Nobody ever said that the political manipulations of Stephen Harper were dumb.

And there is nothing left of centre in the party that Justin Trudeau is carving out of the old Liberal Party of Canada. He is creating a populist movement that is much further to the right than anyone anticipated. We are finally seeing a party that promises some pot for every chick.

But what happens to the left of centre liberals? And there will be lots of environmentalists who will be former Liberal Party members. Splitting all these people between the New Democrats and the Greens will not be a realistic solution.

Real Liberals hold to a basic tenet of the rights of the individual. That conflicts directly with the collectivism of the union-controlled NDP. Liberals will also find that the somewhat scattered policies of an immature Green Party are far behind the freedoms of modern liberalism.

Little is going to happen other than talk before the 2019 election but by that time, we should see some of the impact of recent changes. We expect Justin Trudeau to be in a strong position to run a more right-wing campaign in hopes of picking up a substantial share of the old Progressive Conservatives.

Left-wing liberals will waste their votes on the NDP and Greens and do nobody any good. Western Conservatives will split the country giving little support to the hated Liberals—even though the Trudeau government is supporting their exploitive energy extraction and pipelines economy.

After the election debacle in 2019, cooler heads to the left will start to see the potential for a more centrist social democratic political party in Canada. The creation of that party will take time but it can be done. It will be something in which Canadians can take pride.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

The Conservative schism becomes a chasm.

Friday, April 14th, 2017

And you used to wonder why Prime Minister Stephen Harper was always flying off with his hairdresser to other parts of the world? It was obvious to many that he was under the constant pressure of keeping his disparate party under some semblance of control. It was during his third term–his first majority—that some of the controls were relaxed and Canadians saw the true Conservative Party of Stephen Harper.

They saw the denials of women’s rights from the social conservatives. They saw the attempts to exclude voters from the polls. They saw the tax benefits to being a Conservative supporter. They saw the Senate of Canada used as a sinecure for the Tory faithful. They saw the abuse in trying to mislead the House of Commons.

What Canadians saw was also the growing tensions in the marriage of the Reform/Alliance movement with the former Progressive Conservatives. The progressives were becoming less and less likely to support what they were seeing as extremism. They could not condone the cruelty of the religious right and the Libertarianism of the extremists demanding less taxes and smaller, less caring government.

And the current leadership contest in the party has served to demonstrate that rift. Libertarians such as Maxime Bernier had little trouble gathering up funds from gullible and unknowing Canadians. His only problem is that he cannot win in his own province.

Kellie Leitch and Kevin O’Leary ripped pages from the Trump handbook without looking at where the votes were to come from. Without the second, third or fourth vote preferences, they go nowhere.

Michael Chong from Ontario is recognized as the only possible choice for the former Progressive Conservatives. The wild card is Erin O’Toole—also from Ontario—who ingratiated himself in the Atlantic and got Peter MacKay on his side. Balancing O’Toole on the right though is Saskatchewan M.P. Andrew Scheer. The two of them hang on the extreme right of their party and have equally unproved leadership potential.

It looks like no matter who wins the conservative leadership, Canada could end up with two political parties on the right. The most right-wing party will probably be dominated by the western element. The more centre-right party will likely be on a Montreal-Toronto axis. And both parties will be more stable than the current Conservative Party of Canada.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Conservatives in the back stretch.

Tuesday, April 11th, 2017

At most race tracks today, the race fans are offered television views of the back stretch. It helps them follow the race, recognizing that most of the positioning moves in the back stretch develop the story of the race. It is the same in a political race such as the current Conservative Party of Canada run for the Leadership Roses.

An obvious loss in the back-stretch positioning was TV star Kevin O’Leary. Wandering off to Florida shows the lack of commitment that O’Leary has to the race.

O’Leary left Leitch lost in the pack. She will not be with the leaders in the final turn.

But you have to remember that this is a race reserved for losers. And 13 of those losers will still be losers when it is over. The winner will be able to decide whether it was worth it at his/her leisure. There is no second prize.

What makes the race interesting is that no accurate polls can be taken. With the supposed highest polling score of 10 per cent of Conservative voters, there is really no front-runner. The leaders are too tightly bunched.

Even the new sign-up Conservatives are a wasted effort as you can hardly get them all to strategically indicate a second, third or fourth choice that can be of any help to their candidate.

We expect the sleeper in the race will be Erin O’Toole from Ontario. It is one of the interesting complications of the party rules. O’Toole concentrated on the Atlantic Provinces at first. Logically, an Atlantic Conservative voter would have up to five times the voting power of an Ontario Conservative voter. If the average Atlantic electoral district with 50 party members has the same number of points in voting as an Ontario electoral district with 300 members, it shows Mr. O’Toole knows his math.

But whether O’Toole can challenge either Michael Chong or Lisa Raitt (also from Ontario) is impossible to guess. Raitt has the women’s second vote and Michael Chong has the Liberals (that is not a typo).

Michael Chong is the thinking Conservative’s choice because he is the closest to a Liberal that the Conservatives have to offer. He is that old fashioned Progressive Conservative that brought the Conservatives to power federally or provincially over the years. It was the extremists of the Harper crew who finally brought down that government. Chong was a dissenter.

We will give you another snapshot when the horses make the final turn.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Resuscitating Canada’s New Democrats.

Monday, April 10th, 2017

You really have to laugh at Ed Broadbent’s attempts at resuscitating the moribund federal New Democratic Party. He seems to be the only person who believes you can do mouth-to-mouth life saving through a microphone.

Ed’s modestly named Broadbent Institute had a conference for Canada’s leftists last week in Ottawa. All we learned was that Ed did not like the recent Liberal government budget and he was pleased that Trudeau was not keeping his promises. He felt that was making room for a social democratic movement in Canada.

The Institute named its program ‘Change the Game.’ The problem was that it failed to name the game or to tell anyone the rules of the game.

Ed’s opening speech to the conference was a bit of a trip down memory lane. He is hardly old enough to remember Agnes Macphail, when she was the first woman elected to the House of Commons in 1921. He must have been about 19 when she died in 1954

But what he proves in events such as this and his usual remarks is that he and the New Democratic Party are out of date and out of touch with the long-term direction that Canada needs to take on the 21st Century.

It is like Babel-on-the-Bay has been waiting for the current NDP leadership race to come to life. The debates so far have been eulogies rather than directions. How can these people talk about being a social democratic party when they cannot even define what a social democratic party should be?

When some Toronto New Democrats put together their LEAP Manifesto, there was a brief hope. It proved to be naïve and lacking balance.

What should be very clear to the federal NDP membership by now is that Thomas Mulcair did not let them down in the last election. How could anyone expect a former Liberal from Quebec to lead a party in a crucial election that cannot define its own directions. Mulcair presented what he saw. Whose fault was that?

He only had his hard work in the House of Commons as Leader of the Opposition going for him in the election. To expect the voters to respond to the performance in the House was foolish. The party allowed the myth of the Orange Wave of 2011 to hide the organizational failure in Quebec.

Canada’s New Democrats have people with knowledge and understanding of Canadian politics. They should listen to them, not Ed Broadbent.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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