Archive for the ‘Federal Politics’ Category

In Beautiful Barcelona.

Monday, August 21st, 2017

Barcelona is one of the finest cities for tourism in Europe. Its excellent hotels, broad boulevards and beautiful buildings also provide an excellent venue for international meetings and conferences. In the time I spent in Spain, the Spanish earned my deep respect for their civility, industriousness and kindness. It is to be regretted though that I have still failed to bring myself to eat Valencian Paella.

It was when at a conference in Barcelona back in the 1970s that I met an American diplomat by name was Shirley Temple Black. She had recently been named ambassador to Ghana.

It was at the conference, the wife and I were heading out to lunch one day at a nice little café we had found. We were to meet there with some of the Australian and British delegates to the conference. We were going through the lobby when we stopped to talk to Shirley. She seemed to be at loose ends so we invited her to join us. She ended up having a wonderful time at the lunch as it turned out that the café owner was a huge fan of the movies Shirley was in during her childhood.

I mention this by way of noting that Shirley’s career in foreign service was based on her being a Republican. Her foreign service career seemed to skip along from Richard Nixon to Gerald Ford to Ronald Regan and finally to George H. Bush. These and many others are the types of appointments that the Trump administration has been unable to get to. And while there were the expected jokes about Shirley’s appointments, no Secretary of State was ever embarrassed by her efforts on behalf of the U.S.A. We were sorry to learn of her passing several years ago.

What I do not admire in one of the few appointments made by the Trump White House is that of Ambassador to Canada. That is the appointment of Kelly Knight Craft. Her husband Joe Kraft III donated one million to his fellow billionaire’s presidential campaign. In return, he got his coal mines re-opened to speed global warming and his 55-year old wife sent to Ottawa.

Should Canadians feel insulted?

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Pollyanna goes to Washington.

Saturday, August 19th, 2017

They gathered in Washington this week to start renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Canada’s foreign minister Chrystia Freeland took along her plans for a new NAFTA. Just to throw another opinion into the mix, I think we might have sent our Pollyanna foreign minister to an autopsy.

While we all listened to Freeland’s grandiose plans for a kinder, gentler NAFTA, the reality is that the Americans want nothing to do with it. From President Trump and down the chain of command, the Americans want nothing other than Advantage America. Fairness has nothing to do with it.

And the first losses for the Canadians will be her schemes to improve environmental standards, gender equality and labour laws. Those will certainly strike the Americans as coming out of left field.

And you can give these people all the irrefutable, scientific and empirical proof you want, you cannot convince them to open up bidding on infrastructure projects at the municipal level for trade partners. Nor should we expect any softening of the restrictions on cross-border movement of professionals while the U.S. remains paranoid about Muslims.

And by no stretch of the imagination should the foreign minister equate the NAFTA negotiations to the remodeling of a kitchen. That is a time when you either become a major source of income for your local Chinese food and pizza delivery people or starve.

And we already know that the Americans want to eliminate the dispute resolution clause in the agreement. What would we trade that for? And just try to face any of your Quebec colleagues when you get back if you give a centimeter on our supply management systems.

We have to remember that “Free” trade is a misnomer. This is negotiated trade and there is nothing but quid pro quos to consider.

And you have to remember that the President of the United States is no economist. He does not understand why the Americans as well as the other two partners have to keep this deal in force. Anyone who walks away from this negotiation will be throwing out the first ball in what could become a world-wide recession.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Jagmeet’s ‘means test.’

Thursday, August 10th, 2017

It is a trap that more and more New Democratic Party spokespeople are falling into. By denying universality of programs, they think they are attracting voters from the right. They are not. They are setting themselves up for failure with their traditional supporters. It is a losing proposition.

And when Jagmeet Singh poses his challenge to the universality of Old Age Security, he is annoying seniors and winning no new friends. To suggest that he wants to create a means-tested Old Age Security replacement wins him no friends either.

With the universal delivery of Old Age Security, it is easy to deliver and easy to claw back from pensioners who do not need it.

It is interesting that Jagmeet has gotten on board with fellow leadership candidate MP Guy Caron’s suggestion of a guaranteed income supplement for Canadians. Like all economists, Mr. Caron makes a strong argument for his plan but he also makes it too complicated. Jagmeet might just be looking at the likelihood of Guy Caron not making it past the first ballot in the upcoming voting. The Ontario MPP thinks he can pick up those mainly Quebec votes to help put him over the top.

A key factor in the New Democratic leadership race will be the new sign-ups by each of the candidates. Considering the number of South Asian immigrants across Canada, it depends on how much time Jagmeet Singh’s supporters have had to line up memberships in that community. Jagmeet must have noted the ease with which Patrick Brown lined up enough supporters in that community to swamp the existing provincial Conservative membership in Ontario. We will know the answer after the membership cut-off scheduled for August 17.

(It would be interesting to run the new Ontario NDP memberships against the Ontario Progressive Conservative memberships of 2015. You might be surprised at the number of one-time Conservatives who have seen the light and have now joined the NDP.)

The final membership figures will be the key to a reasonably accurate Morning Line from Babel-on-the-Bay on August 28. Judging by what we have seen so far, the hunch is that we will know who has been chosen the new leader of the New Democratic Party at the closing of the first ballot on October 1, 2017. There might be no need for subsequent ballots.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

The grassroots of ignorance.

Tuesday, August 8th, 2017

Recently we complained about Opposition Leader Andrew ‘Chuckles’ Scheer inciting bigotry over the restitution paid to Canadian citizen Omar Khadr. Now we have the less bright of Chuckles’ backbenchers repeating the lies and half truths in ‘penny-dreadful’ mailings to their constituents.

We who live in the electoral district of Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte M.P. Alex Nuttall have been wondering what he has found to amuse himself in Ottawa. Since Alex won by 86 votes from rural voters who did not know him as well as the city voters, he seems to have settled in the nation’s capital. It must have pleased him that the Conservative caucus office offered to send mailings to his voters for him. It is obvious that neither Nuttall nor any of his staff can write so they sent what they were given.

Can you imagine a big reverse headline: “$10.5 million for a terrorist”? They actually call Mr. Khadr a “convicted terrorist.” They obviously know very little about the definition of libel and slander. Omar Khadr was never convicted of being a ‘terrorist.’ He has never been charged with breaking any law in Canada. His only entanglement with pseudo justice was when the Americans shot him and dragged him off to their prison in Guantanamo, Cuba. Then an American military kangaroo court eventually convicted him under a non-existent law to get him out of their hands.

And I think we can all be skeptical of the statement that Justin Trudeau decided how much to pay him as compensation. As I recall, the prime minister was attending the various economic summits at the time we learned of the award.

But frankly I am puzzled by the question posed in the flyer to Mr. Nuttall’s constituents. It asks “Does Omar Khadr deserve $10.5 million and an apology?” To answer that as a ‘Yes or No’ question is a challenge.

But it is more of an incitement to bigotry than a serious question.

Does anyone know what the final bill will be from Mr. Khadr’s lawyers? It would be good if there was something left for him for 15 years of pain, torture, deprivation and suffering, when the Canadian government would do nothing to help him.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

The Trump Technique.

Saturday, August 5th, 2017

The media were all atwitter the other day when they got some leaked transcripts from the White House of conversations President Trump had with other countries’ leaders. They got them and did not understand them. They did not seem to understand the technical term for the technique he was using; it is called B.B.S. (Better B.S.)

The American news media have never had to deal with anyone such as Trump in the White House. They do not understand a street fighter at his level of operations. He is a con man who has made a few billion. (Which means he knows his way with B.B.S.)

To accomplish what he has over his 70 years, you have to start by admitting that Mr. Trump is pretty damn good at this B.B.S. business. Does it really matter that he is vain, vulgar, erratic and has the attention span of a gerbil? He is using B.B.S. on the media, on his followers, on Twitter and now with people such as the President of Mexico.

What Mr. Trump does not want is his followers to know is that there is no way, short of war, he can get Mexico to pay for his stupid wall. The first thing he wants President. Peña Nieto to do is to shut up about who is paying for the damn wall. The second thing he wants is for Mexico and the U.S.A. to ally themselves against those jerks up in Canada. It is the old divide and conquer technique. As a developer, Mr. Trump has been using it for years.

So, he tells the Mexican that the Canadian Prime Minister is a nobody, a wus and not important. He implies that the Americans and the Mexicans can make short work of the Canadians and then solve all the problems with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between them.

Can you not just see the President of Mexico sitting in his office in Mexico City and listening to this developer’s B.B.S. He probably put in a call right after to Ottawa and said “Justin, you’re not going to believe the horse shit I just heard from that old fart in Washington.”

There is no question that President Peña Nieto and Prime Minister Trudeau are going to take that silly old fart to the cleaners!

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Money matters maybe.

Friday, August 4th, 2017

Never judge a political race by money raised. Whether it is an internal party race for a nomination or a leadership or party fundraising prior to an election, you have to remember that money does not vote. Case in point, the fundraising by each of the four candidates for the New Democratic Party might tell you a bit about potential votes but hardly forecasts the winner.

As an experienced political apparatchik, I can tell you that I am most impressed with Charlie Angus’ fundraising efforts. Remember that he is based in Northern Ontario and he has raised $233,000 in 2017 through June of this year. In the NDP, that pays for a respectable campaign to reach the 100,000 plus existing party members and the search and capture for maybe another 25,000 new members. Charlie probably has a potential base vote of about 50,000.

I have to say that Niki Ashton is sure tenacious and the Manitoba MP’s $135,000 fundraising in the first six months this year tells a good story. While she will not win over as many of the existing party members, her new sign-ups will be darn loyal and she could push Charlie Angus hard with a base vote of close to 40,000.

The disappointing performance is by Guy Caron the MP from Quebec. With just over $100,000 raised in the first six months, his campaign is limited. It is hard to say just where he stands in voting potential.

Whether Caron could rally late is probably mute as most of the noise now is going to later-comer Jagmeet Singh MPP from Ontario. Singh’s campaign started in May and through May and June, his campaign raised over $350,000 from just over 1500 donors. He claims that 75 per cent of this money came from first-time donors which tells us that South-Asian immigrants are going all-out for him. It is obvious that he has the ability (and the funds) to sign up as many as 100,000 as NDP members—but only a short time to do it. Even then, he is not likely to win on the first ballot.

Bear in mind that Andrew Scheer, the new Conservative leader came fifth in fundraising in that party’s leadership race. He was also given 12 to 1 odds by our Morning Line. He beat us all by being most Conservatives second choice.

As the voting for the NDP leadership is scheduled to begin September 18, we will be moving up our Morning Line on this race to August 28 to please some of our NDP readers.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Our poster-boy PM is the answer?

Monday, July 31st, 2017

Despite the wild ravings of Rolling Stone Magazine, our Prime Minister has to whip Canada into shape before taking on the added burden of the American presidency. Donald Trump’s job is safe, for now.

In corporate terms, Justin Trudeau might be able to pull off a reverse takeover, (That is where the smaller business buys the larger company because of better tax advantages.) It would also get around the problem of Justin not being born in the United States. If it all became part of Canada, who would care?

And by combining the best parts of being the American President and the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin could issue an edict making himself Chief High Potentate of North America for life. Before anyone jumps on a horse and runs around the combined countries shouting about “one by land, two by sea,” both countries can finally end the rampant corporatism that is destroying their democracies anyway.

After a couple years of confusion with President Trump, Americans will be even more willing to welcome Justin as their saviour. All we have to do is spread the word among America’s born-again that Justin was born on Christmas Day for a reason.

And if the South does not rise to the occasion with hearty huzzahs, we can threaten that we will also welcome the Mexicans into the One Big North America. We could make Spanish the lingua franca south of the Mason-Dixon line, English north from there to the former Canadian border and then French across the North.

The problem of where the new nation’s capital will be can be quickly solved by building a new one in Nevada. Government is nothing but a gamble anyway. Potomac Mosquitoes cannot survive there and if you have ever been in Ottawa in January, you would wonder why nobody thought to do this a long time ago.

Another piece of good news for the Americans; Trudeau is used to appointing Senators—that will break the deadlock there!

But full disclosure forces me to admit that Justin is not perfect. The guy tends to shoot from the lip. He is not great in keeping promises. He loves travelling around the world being lionized like a pop star.

P.S. They call this part of the summer the silly season. I wonder why?

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

‘Chuckles’ challenges Canadian compassion.

Sunday, July 30th, 2017

Federal Conservative Leader Andrew ‘Chuckles’ Scheer will not let it go. He is raising troops among the bigoted to fight against the compensation to Omar Khadr. He must intend to keep scratching at that wound until the pus from it corrupts or repulses all responsible Canadians.

What sickens us the most in this disgusting argument is the impact and discord it is sewing in various communities. Visiting a friend in Peter Kent’s Thornhill riding recently I was taken back by the vehemence that erupted when the Khadr subject came up. Listening to one Jewish individual castigating another for his lack of understanding was disquieting.

But to hear people repeat the Conservative’s ugly suggestion that Prime Minister Trudeau wants to make Omar Khadr a rich man is ludicrous. Nor is the award about to make Khadr’s lawyers rich. The Supreme Court told the government to apologize for what government agents did and compensate the victim. And how would you compensate someone for 15 years of pain, suffering, torture and false imprisonment?

It is obvious that Chuckles did not write the op-ed that was run over his name by some newspapers. It was a crafted piece that used inflammatory words, innuendo and careful half truths.

But since when is it a heinous crime to be recruited as a child soldier and sent into a firefight against well armed, equipped and trained soldiers? What happens is that you get shot!

Chuckles needs perspective.

And he needs to explain to us what enjoying the benefits of the Canadian justice system means. Does it mean you are not going to be water-boarded, sleep deprived and suffering extremes of heat?

The Opposition Leader in the House of Commons failed to make it clear to his writers that as an official of the Canadian Parliament, he has responsibilities. He is not there to promote hatred. He is not there to twist the truth. It speaks badly of him to bluntly say the Prime Minister is arrogant. The Opposition in parliament is there to criticize the government, not to demean it.

Saving the best for last, Chuckles asks a rhetorical question about Mr. Trudeau’s ‘secret’ payout to Omar Khadr. Gee! Who leaked it?

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Jagmeet Singh: Not just a pretty face.

Saturday, July 29th, 2017

The New Democratic Party’s federal leadership race is getting a little more heated. With less than two months to go, the race has taken on some disturbing aspects of the last Conservative leadership in Ontario. It is turning into Jagmeet Singh’s race to win if he is using the same tactics as Ontario Conservative winner Patrick Brown.

Brown looked at the almost one million recent immigrants in Ontario from South Asia (mainly Hindu, Sikh and Muslim from the Indian Sub-Continent) and signed up almost 40,000 temporary Conservatives. It is even easier for Jagmeet Singh to organize among this group than Brown and Singh can add another 30,000 potential supporters in B.C.

You can also assume that more than 50 per cent of the 100,000 plus NDP members are already from British Columbia and Ontario. And with all votes counting instead of balanced across the country, it is winning in those two provinces that matters.

And Quebec voters would be the least likely to support a party headed by a turbaned Sikh—no matter how much GQ Magazine admires and approves the rest of his attire.

The main difference between Conservative Brown and New Democratic Singh is that Jagmeet is a hero among the Canadian Sikh community. He has also supported Sikh candidates for the NDP across Canada.

Jagmeet (at 38) also has more life experience than contemporary Patrick Brown (at 39). Jagmeet has had considerably more experience and success as a lawyer than Brown, has proposed more bills in the Ontario Legislature than Brown did in both Ottawa and Queens’ Park and Brown would hardly want to even arm wrestle with a trained athlete such as Jagmeet.

Oddly enough neither Brown nor Singh has much to say about their policy direction. Brown does not seem to have any and Singh seems to be hoeing to the standard New Democratic policy book.

Whether either of these two men is at all ready to lead their respective parties anywhere is a very large question mark. The knives will be out for Brown after the next election in Ontario in June 2018. Jagmeet Singh would be wise to ride out that election as Ontario Deputy Leader and be ready to take over as Ontario leader when Andrea Horwath steps down. In the meantime, he can study where the NDP’s future might be.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Running in the Green.

Monday, July 24th, 2017

If the federal New Democratic Party is now Green, where does the Green Party get to go? Looking at NDP MP Niki Ashton’s pricy green plan, you really wonder about the grasp on reality of the entire party. Is this the party of Tommy Douglas that cared so much about people?

What really worries me is that Niki Ashton’s lead seems to be followed by each of the other leadership rivals. Each wants to be greener than the next. They are taking their party nowhere but down a rabbit hole.

Ashton even wants to spend green money. She has an elaborate plan to spend $10 billion every year to build green housing. Her plan reminds us of the Italian fascist corporations. There is one for each of four sectors to dole out government funds to green energy efforts. She thinks Canada can meet its emissions commitments five years earlier. That would be easy, if you just turn off the Alberta tar sands as the NDP LEAP Manifesto demands.

But none of this wishful thinking is telling Canadians where the candidates think the New Democrats are headed. What is the successor to socialism? What is it that Canadians really need in terms of direction from Ottawa? Are New Democrats really relevant?

Socialism with its 19th century roots is passé. When you realize that business can only exist as a servant of the people, it impacts your view of politics. The reality in this day and age is that our future is tied to left-wing liberalism under a social democratic umbrella. Instead of being based on a manifesto of complaints, this combined party needs a new direction based on an updated Rights of Men and Women. Think of what Bernie Sanders said in the last election in the United States—and look what the Americans got instead.

It is the future of our peoples we must care about. The environment is part of the living conditions we want for ourselves and our children’s children. They also need work that fulfills. They need complete health care that includes medicines and dental services. They need all the education that they can handle. We need a stable and adequate basic income guarantee for all.

Justin Trudeau has destroyed the Liberal Party and ‘Sunny Days’ are numbered. Canada needs a viable alternative on the left. Can anyone take the New Democrats into a possible future?

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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