Archive for the ‘Federal Politics’ Category

Pot is coming. Pot is coming.

Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

How come the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation gets the best media leaks? We have been informed by the People’s Network that we will be able to celebrate Canada Day 2018 with legal marijuana from sea to sea to sea. Wow!

The plans—skillfully guided for the federal Liberals by former Toronto police chief Bill Blair—are to split the profits with the provinces. The feds will regulate the growers and set the standards while the provinces will get to run the retail end of things.

Mind you this loyal Canadian will have to give a pass on Canada Day festivities next year—who needs to get stoned on second-hand smoke?

What puzzles us though is how the feds are going to restrict households to just four plants for home consumption? Drones can check our backyard endeavours but hydroponics are harder to track.

The one person as yet unheard from on this subject is M.P. Bill Blair. The Scarborough Liberal has not been very forthcoming. He was always willing to sound off for the media back when his police were terrorizing Torontonians at events such as the G-20 in Toronto in 2010.

The one thing we are sure of though is that we are hardly going to have a Colorado-type sales approach in any of our provinces. The anal-retentive Ontario Liberals are expected to keep sales in-house at the Liquor Control Board of Ontario stores and licensees. What might change their mind is the medical advice that the combination of pot and booze produces a really dumb drunk. The alternative might be to give the franchise to their friends the Weston family who now own Shoppers Drug Marts.

Quebec will, of course, try to be more avant garde. Saskatchewan will look down their premier’s nose at the whole business but take the money. Which pretty well covers it for the rest of the country.

It is not as though we need marijuana for recreational use. It will be good to see it removed from police restrictions. We can expect a difficult time of adjustment.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Budgets and other eulogies.

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

Seeing finance minister Bill Morneau finally get to his budget last week produced a measure of disappointment and nostalgia. He brought back distant memories of the clean-cut young Anglican priest who came to our grade six class at Rosedale Public School in Toronto to try to entice us wayward kids back to Sunday School. The problem with that priest and with Bill Morneau is that you have heard all that B.S. before.

Can you imagine a budget in this day and age that makes a big deal of increases in the sin taxes on alcohol and cigarettes? Can you imagine a budget talking about innovation and innovates nothing? It was a sad occasion for Canadians.

On Vassy Kapelos’ West Block show on Sunday, you were hard-pressed to understand why Morneau had come out of hiding. His explanations were pathetic. You were just as in the dark as you were before he explained it.

It might have helped if Bill Morneau had an inkling as to what is meant by innovation. He certainly used the word enough. You got the impression that the innovation centres across Canada were what he was counting on to bring about innovation for Canada.

But we can hardly rely on places where you develop new apps for your Apple phone to move Canada forward. Every once in a while, one of these centres will come up with a new type of lightbulb but they rarely astound Bay Street.

If this was 150 years ago, we had a John Macdonald who said maybe we could bind this new nation together with a railroad from sea to sea. And that old drunk did it. He might not have looked as good in his selfies as the present prime minister but he came up with ideas and he got them done. Just think what a modern 350-kph railroad could do for this country. And that would take innovation. Bombardier could actually be helpful.

And think about guys like Banting and Best who did some useful innovation in medicine. There are all kinds of opportunities for innovation. And you never know where the opportunities will arise. Our late brother watched the early shadowy pictures of the men on the moon many years ago and said, “I can fix that.”

He went into the Houston offices of NASA a short time later and showed the people running the American space program sharp clear pictures of what came from the moon. Today we get superior pictures from around the world and beyond because of John Lowry’s innovation.

Maybe Bill Morneau needs to learn more about innovation.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Lies. And Trudeau-Trump lies.

Sunday, March 26th, 2017

You have come to expect it in the daily reports from the American White House. You know that the man in the White House tells lies. You just do not expect it from the guy in charge in Ottawa.

And you already knew that the guy in charge at the White House does not give a damn about the environment. You are more conflicted by the guy in Ottawa. This guy says he wants to save the environment and makes a big show of it. And then he approves doubling the Kinder Morgan pipeline over the Rockies to pump diluted bitumen to an ocean port. And he is a cheerleader for President Trump approving TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline to the Texas Gulf.

Of course, there is nothing new about the guff that Trump spews for the American news media. He even believes there are American jobs to be had. He had Russ Sperling, president of TransCanada Corporation in his office for the announcement. Sperling would have tripled the number of jobs created by that pipeline to get more bitumen to that Texas port. Hell, he might consider putting Trump’s grandmother on the payroll if that would help.

But it is not going to pave the way past all those environmentalists in the American Midwest who are digging their own trenches for the coming Keystone Wars. This question is not resolved by a long shot. Trump can try to call out the Nebraska National Guard if he likes but Keystone is going to have to run over a lot of environmentalist barricades on its way to the sea.

Trump appears to be drinking his own bath water though when he uses the usual untruths about Keystone. The American jobs Trump was going on about will be fleeting and if the entire line from Alberta to Texas involves as many as 400 maintenance jobs, it will be generous.

But by no stretch of the imagination will Alberta tar sands bitumen make North America self sufficient in ersatz oil. Nor will bitumen-based synthetic oil be cheaper. The greedy bastards who want to pipe the bitumen down the line will hardly be happy until the price of crude oil again hits the US$80 mark. And if we really tried to use bitumen-based oil to supply North America, we would all be knee deep in bitumen slag from trying to refine so much bitumen into synthetic oil.

It seems to be common knowledge now that Donald Trump usually does not know what he is talking about. What is Justin Trudeau’s excuse?

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Kevin O’Leary meets a real reality.

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

Welcome to Canadian politics, Kevin O’Leary. You have brought a few laughs to an otherwise dismal contest for leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada. Though you would think someone from reality television would know what to expect? Did you really think leadership races are run within some foolish rules? And that anybody pays for someone’s membership in the party without knowing how they will vote.

Kevin, you have a lot to learn; besides French. Blowing the whistle on a fellow candidate is pretty amateur stuff. You cannot be that naïve. You have embarrassed the party by making the officials dump a bunch of memberships. (Did the people being dumped get their membership fee back?) Now all the memberships remaining are on the up and up. Sure?

Kevin, you should have run for the Ontario party leadership last year. Did you know that schmuck Patrick Brown swamped the provincial party membership with close to 40,000 new sign-ups? The provincial officials took the memberships and took the money and nobody ever heard a word of complaint. And did you really think all those recent immigrants from India and Pakistan who Brown had signed up in the provincial party paid their own membership fee?

But, Kevin, you would hardly expect a few thousand ‘instant’ members are going to make a big difference in the federal race? The way the voting is structured for the national leadership, it is virtually impossible to buy the leadership. You would need at least 60,000 instant members spread fairly evenly across 338 electoral districts. The problem is not the more than $225,000 for the memberships but the organization needed to collect your member’s ballots and mail them in for them. And then you would still need those second votes from all the other losing candidates to be sure.  The federal party did not want to make it too difficult but they certainly did not want a schlemiel like Brown walking away wearing the leader’s tiara.

Kevin, you might have done Maxime Bernier a favour. Even if you did not name names, he might have told his supporters it was his memberships that were tossed. If he can afford to lose that many first votes and laugh about it, this race might be more confused than we thought.

Kevin, this might seem odd to you but the decision in this race will be made by 13 losing candidates. Yes, you are one also. Every candidate wants those losers to tell their supporters who to support second. And that will decide the ultimate winner.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Shell bites the bitumen bullet.

Monday, March 20th, 2017

This story takes us back to the 1970s and a lengthy discussion with a board member of Royal Dutch Shell. He was a “works committee” member of the board and our discussion was enlightening. He represented the employees of Shell on its board and was a highly-respected university professor. He was in Toronto visiting his son who was also a professor at York University.

At the time this writer was giving lectures at universities across Ontario on the social responsibility of business. We had been intrigued by the then current agreement with the union for Shell Canada’s workers at the Sarnia refinery. It was an intelligent document that recognized the responsibilities of both the workers and the employers. In effect, it seemed to say ‘we are all adults here and we need to carry out our responsibilities in a mutually respectful manner.’ That was not the usual preamble in other union agreements at the time.

To the European professor this did not seem unusual. He was more intrigued with the problems North Americans create with their more adversarial industrial relations. At the same time, he was interested in the concept of good citizenship for international companies in the countries where they operated. At the time, we recognized pollution from petroleum-based products as a mainly urban problem but was not yet being addressed as a world-wide problem. We were only starting to learn about recovering oil from tar sands.

But more recently the concern has been: What is a responsible company such as Royal Dutch Shell doing in the Alberta tar sands? Shell even had the Quest Carbon Capture project that was burying a million tons of carbon per year from upgrading tar sands bitumen to synthetic crude oil. Despite this and other efforts, Shell finally said “No” to the tar sands. It took a loss in the billions. It bought out minority investors such as Marathon Oil and sold out at billions less than cost to Calgary-based Canadian Natural Resources.

It cost the Canadian conglomerate close to $13 billion but at the bargain price from Shell, it can make money at prices for crude of less than $50 per barrel.

But to make back the billions it cost, Canadian Natural Resources needs those pipelines to tidewater promised by Justin Trudeau and Donald Trump.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Is Trudeau fighting out of his weight class?

Friday, March 17th, 2017

The reason why boxing promoters will not allow a lightweight boxer to take on a heavyweight is that the lightweight might not last two minutes. The lightweight might be fast on his feet but the heavyweight only needs to land one punch. That is why Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau needs all the help he can get to take on U.S. President Trump.

The most urgent problem today is the proposed cuts in the American Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Trump hardly gives a damn about the environment. He has shown that with his decisions on pipelines and coal mines. Maybe he did not know that the EPA is responsible for U.S. federal support in keeping the Great Lakes clean and fit to provide water for millions of Americans. Those Americans include those in some states that were key in winning the presidency for Trump.

And it is not as though it is a matter of talking Trump out of some of his positions or getting him to like Justin Trudeau. He forgets. Even in his recent speech to Congress, he made several conflicting statements. He is erratic. He does not give a damn about Canadians. They are just like Americans to him. Only they seem to want to live where it can get cold.

One of the biggest mistakes Trudeau might have made is the Canadian ambassador in Washington. Of course, the choice of David MacNaughton as ambassador was made before the Trump disaster happened. No doubt with a Clinton presidency, MacNaughton would have been right at home. As it is now he is going to need constant hand-holding by the trained diplomats. He is no political problem solver. He proved that when he was Justin Trudeau’s point man for Ontario in the last election. The appointment was his reward for the Liberals winning, That was despite his being so obviously out of touch with what was really happening in Ontario.

To make matters worse Trump has Trudeau buffaloed as well. Trudeau thought he made the right impression when he and Trump met. Trump forgot the Canadian’s name as he went out the door. And how does he think he will handle Trump’s reopening of the mid-term emissions controls for new automobiles? It looks like an attempt to release all auto manufacturing controls in North America and is in direct conflict with Canada’s objectives.

Is Trump the Darth Vader who takes Trudeau over to the dark side.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

What happened in Saint-Laurent?

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

All rebellions have to start somewhere. And it looks like Justin Trudeau miscalculated and let one start in the Quebec electoral district of Saint-Laurent. The riding had been held by Stéphane Dion until Trudeau bounced him from the cabinet and sent him to be ambassador to the European Union and Germany. It looks like the Liberals in Saint-Laurent started the revolution without their good friend Stéphane.

Despite Trudeau refusing to authorize the candidacy of his choice’s most likely competitor, his candidate lost anyway. Yolande James, a former immigration minister in the Jean Charest provincial cabinet and more recently a commentator on politics for Radio-Canada was defeated. She was defeated by a previously unknown 26-year old high school teacher who lives in the electoral district.

The word is that the chosen candidate’s name is Emmanuella Lambropolus and she was more surprised than anyone else when she won. She had assumed that she would be defeated when she heard of Justin Trudeau’s choice of James. Rather than give up, she and her team just kept on working. They must have wanted to make as good a showing as possible.

It does not speak well for Justin Trudeau’s judgement. He had trouble in dumping Stéphane Dion even with the plum diplomatic assignment. And then he left what he thought were minor opponents to make the nomination meeting look a little more democratic. That bit him on the bum.

But what we are really puzzled about is the political acumen of a Radio-Canada political commentator who gets parachuted into a riding and thinks they do not have to work for the nomination. What we tell every potential candidate is that your nomination campaign has to be a sample of the hard work you are promising your supporters in the coming election.

Hard work is obviously no stranger to the winning candidate. She fought for her riding and she won. And she taught Justin Trudeau a lesson that he desperately needed to learn. Never take Liberals for granted.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

The Morning Line: Canada’s Conservatives (2).

Sunday, March 12th, 2017

Now you get the possible winners from among the 14 contenders for the Tory leadership. We have checked their blood lines, their daily workouts and their past performances and all we can tell you is that the following is possible.

THE POSSIBLES:

Kevin O’Leary, 20 to 1. Our only advice to Kevin O’Leary (if he had ever asked) was to not play the heavy on television and then show up in politics expecting to be loved. He was the guy on that investment show, you loved to hate. He earned it. And not speaking French and expecting to be welcomed with open arms by the Tories is dreaming. Forget it Kevin.

Kellie Leach, 15 to 1. This sitting M.P. took up the nettle of Trumpism and is still trying to figure out how to handle it. If people did not realize just how silly her ‘Canadian Values’ line is, they need to see that weird YouTube video she made to explain her values. You wonder what her and the camera crew were smoking at the time

Andrew Scheer, 12 to 1. This is the desperation candidate. He is a small version of Stephen Harper. He is making the best play for second and third choice votes we have seen so far. That alone puts him in the running. He’s young (37), maybe he can grow into the job—if the Tories can wait a dozen years!

Maxime Bernier, 10 to 1. The M.P. from Beauce is a Conservative’s conservative. He is about as far right as you can get and stay in the country. He carries some baggage in leaving sensitive documents at his girlfriend’s but those who have seen the pictures of her understand. He is also number one in fundraising. He lacks the more balanced appeal of a Stephen Harper but he is about number four in a field of 14.

Erin O’Toole, 9 to 1. This is a guy who looks better on paper than in person. His platform is carefully crafted and hits many of the right buttons. So what if he is a bit boring? He is building a good base in the Atlantic which was a smart move. Now he has to drive that truck west. He has a chance.

Lisa Raitt, 6 to 1. The rules are working for this lady. She has become the stand-in for Rona Ambrose who has done a good job as interim leader of the Conservatives. There is no doubt that Conservative women will give her a first, second or third place vote—just for being a woman in politics. She is also going to get a sympathy vote because of her husband’s health. She has a better chance than most people realize.

Michael Chong, 5 to 1. This could be a surprise for many Conservative M.P.s. Michael Chong might be the only candidate who has seriously thought about the party and its future. The other candidates do not understand his ‘big tent’ strategy. It is why he could so easily walk away with so many second, third and fourth place votes from Tories across the country—that is what it will take to win. It will be a close race but he could just make it happen.

Sorry folks, it is a tough call. Nothing is guaranteed but all Canadians should take an interest in what happens in this race—it will define the Conservative Party of Canada for years to come.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

 

The Morning Line: Canada’s Conservatives (1).

Saturday, March 11th, 2017

You can hardly deal with 14 contenders for the Tory leadership in just one commentary. We will divide our Morning Line into two parts: The Losers and the Possibles.

THE LOSERS:

Rick Peterson, 100 to 1. There seems to be no justification for this gentleman to be leader of the Conservative Party of Canada. While he is bilingual, that by itself is not a platform. He has no political experience and that might be why he proposes a flat tax and the elimination of corporate taxes. As the saying goes: The tax man cometh.

Pierre Lemieux, 99 to 1. The former Lieutenant Colonel in the Canadian military is also a former MP from the Ottawa area. He is a social conservative and is endorsed by Campaign Life. Enough said.

Deepak Obhrai, 95 to 1. The Member of Parliament from Calgary has been serving his electoral district for the past 20 years. If we could think of one possible reason for anyone outside of his riding to vote for him, we would tell you about it.

Andrew Saxton, 90 to 1. We flipped a coin between Saxton and Peterson to see who the biggest loser would be. Saxton also won because he had previously been a Member of Parliament. He has a ‘Canadian Dream’ that seems to be a ‘rags to riches’ story. But boring.

Brad Trost, 85 to 1. We used to like Saskatoon. As an M.P., Brad Trost is not a good ambassador for the city. He is a social conservative, a pro-pipeline advocate and does not think women should be allowed control of their own bodies. Just another Saskatchewan wannabe!

Steven Blaney, 55 to 1. The Quebec M.P. will come out of Quebec with a strong local vote but there is little growth for his law and order campaign outside his home province. He also wants a royal commission to go on some sort of a witch hunt to define Canadian values. It sometimes takes people more than a minute or so to figure out what a dumb idea that is.

Chris Alexander, 50 to 1. Given a smaller field of candidates, this former M.P. would get a higher number of second choice votes and make a better showing. As it is, he has been in the wrong place, at the wrong time, doing the wrong thing too often. He seems to lack political acumen.

Those are your long shots folks. What works against all of them are the rules of the voting. All electoral districts share the same voting strength and the winner needs 50 per cent plus one vote. That means that the party will have to count second, third and fourth place votes before a winner starts to emerge. It really will be the losers who are the choosers.

We will discuss the ‘Possibles’ tomorrow.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Where our New Democrats are headed?

Thursday, March 9th, 2017

Now that Canada’s New Democratic Party has some thinking and articulate players running for the national leadership, we better pay some attention. The hope is that Canadians will find out where the former Co-operative Commonwealth Federation—the party of Tommy Douglas—is headed in the 21st Century. The not so subtle nudging we are seeing today is towards something called Democratic Socialism.

But the problem is that few of us understand the term. The current interest in it was launched by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders during the run-up to the American Democratic National Convention of 2016. Bernie used the term to distinguish himself from the elitist control of the Democratic Party by people such as the Clintons. It was Bernie’s energy and enthusiasm that both helped and hindered Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Bernie was a pied piper to the younger Americans who agreed with the vision he presented and the excitement it built. Bernie countered the blandness of the Clinton campaign with ideas and proposals that made sense to the young who were facing an uncertain future once they completed university. America needed these new ideas.

Rhetorical argument abounded in the political science realm over the use of the Democratic Socialist label but who says the Senator did not have the right to establish his own interpretation.

While traditional socialists wanted the control of the means of production to be operated solely for the benefit of society, it would not work in modern society. In today’s Democratic Socialism, the corporations must be required to work for society in a socially responsible manner. The problem is that America’s out of control corporate giants are too bent on creating a tiered society of castes controlled by the one per cent.

What the New Democratic Party needs to do is to finish dumping the airy-fairy LEAP Manifesto and start to define a democratic socialism that could work in the 21st Century. This could be a democratic socialism that recognizes the liberal emphasis on individual rights. The time has long gone when the individual had to submit to a dictatorship of the proletariat.

In Canada, we now have 14 people running for the leadership of the Conservative Party. There seems to be no interesting direction in their presentations. We can only hope that the four NDP leadership candidates now in the field can bring fresh thinking and new ideas to Canadians.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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