Archive for the ‘Federal Politics’ Category

Poison Ivy is also Green.

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019

It has been very difficult to decipher exactly what Green party leader Elizabeth May has in mind. Our Ottawa parliamentarians were in an emergency debate on the climate emergency our scientists had reported. Being head of the Green party, Ms. May came out with a program to save the world—or, at least Vancouver Island.

Ms. May wants to abandon political divisions in the House of Commons and in cabinet. She wants a war cabinet with participants from all parties to face the climate change catastrophe in Canada.

But I am not sure I can do this program justice in explaining it. Please, do not get me wrong. I have always been impressed with Ms. May. She has been doing an impossible job, by herself in recent years. She is an excellent MP. Her real problem is her party. There are some very sincere tree-huggers, a bunch of knowledgeable environmentalists, and more than enough dingbats in that party. For Ms. May to get that party in shape for the coming election, she needs to be expert at herding cats.

She needs to get all 337 of her fellow Green candidates singing from the same songbook. They will all make promises but once they start winging it out in their electoral districts, you have no idea what they are promising.

And the chances of them explaining what Ms. May proposed in parliament the other day are tenuous, at best. In fact, I would wonder if even 25 per cent of the Green candidates could entertain any serious questions about the idea.

She is suggesting that everybody pitch in. We would all work on retrofitting Canadians’ homes. It sounds more like the cultural revolution in China during 1966 and 1967 under the Red Guards of Mao Zedong.

I agree with Ms. May that we all need to do more to cope with climate change. I just hope she has a Plan B that looks after the serious business of being a country while we are saving the world.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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War Rooms from the political past.

Tuesday, May 21st, 2019

It started back in the late 1970s and 80s when Senator Keith Davey, some of us liberal apparatchiks and the marketing communications experts, who volunteered their time, started to look on other parties as enemy combatants. I was even quoting Carl von Clausewitz’ On War when talking about campaigning to groups of party faithful. It was a stretch, but also fun, talking about beating your opponents with a war-like strategy.

The idea became somewhat passé later in the 80s when we were contending with the Mulroney government in Ottawa. It was also when a couple of New York advertising guys, Al Ries and Jack Trout, came out with a book on Marketing Warfare. It was practically Campaigning 101. We had to concede that the opposition could also read.

But the best war rooms in politics or in war are the ones nobody knows about. You can brag afterwards if you really want but in any election campaign I ever ran, the only person allowed in the committee rooms with an ego was the candidate.

This concept of a war room has become so common that PostMedia in Toronto wants to buy in on the action of Alberta premier Jason Kenney’s Energy War Room he is setting up to fight what he considers to be disinformation and lies by special interest groups in the coming election. Just why a newspaper would want to so blatantly support a province and a party in interfering with the federal election, leaves me cold. Mind you, PostMedia gave up all pretentions of neutrality in elections a long time ago.

The only problem is that Jason Kenney is not the type of person with whom you want to share any kind of room, let alone be on the same side in an election. Kenney is misogynistic, a mean-spirited schemer and a generally nasty politician.

He explains his rationale for an Energy War Room is to police the eastern media. He wants to make sure that they never use the word ‘bitumen’ when talking about what Albertans call the highly polluting, high-carbon, ‘heavy oil’ from the tar sands.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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Danger signs of elitism in the Senate.

Sunday, May 19th, 2019

Prime minister Justin Trudeau is facing enough problems without his elitism coming back to bite his ass. We saw in the Senate last week where one of his elite appointees forgot who appointed her to the sinecure of the Senate. Supposedly independent senator Paula Simons from Alberta torpedoed the liberal ban on oil tankers off north-west B.C. on the senate transport committee.

This might be a bit of a sou’easter that will soon blow over but Trudeau’s environmentalism is already skating on thin ice, as it is. He hardly needs to be stabbed in the back by his own elitist choice for the senate. He would much prefer to be showing us sceptics that his elitism is paying off for Canadians as well as these people who act like the senate is their personal playpen and piggy bank.

We used to have some very conscientious senators who liked being part of the liberal caucus and did a good job of reviewing and making recommendations on new legislation.

But school teacher Trudeau did not agree. He thought we should not have liberals in the senate. He wanted them all to be elite. These elites would be chosen by an elite committee to enable the prime minister to select the best elites for service in the senate. They answer to nobody. They are beholden to nobody. They do what they want with legislation sent to them from the commons.

And this is hardly the first time the prime minister got a wake-up call from the senate that some key piece of legislation the liberals wanted was being screwed around by his elite senators. You would hope that the liberals would want to rethink this dumb elitism.

He would certainly get some support if he wanted to make the senate a form of a house of the provinces. This would be something like the American system but with more power ultimately in the hands of the house of commons.

Alternatively, we could just abolish the senate. There might be more of an argument about that but giving Canadians the right to vote on the proposition is the ultimate threat.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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Scratch the Mark Norman affair.

Friday, May 17th, 2019

If you are looking for something with which to attack the Trudeau government, do not bother with the Mark Norman affair. Norman was the vice-admiral of the Canadian Navy who almost went to trial over something to do with supply ship procurement. If Chuckles Scheer and his federal conservatives think they can make a case of this, they are likely whistling past the graveyard.

Wise politicos do not play in the military’s playgrounds. People in uniform are nothing but an opportunity for publicity pictures, at best.

And before you think that Admiral Norman is going to say anything political, you can forget it. Norman’s lawyer might come across as something such as the wicked witch of the north but he is a loyal Canadian through and through. And besides, those nice liberals are going to pay all his legal fees. They have already voted in the commons to apologize to the admiral.

It is also important to remember that there is another shoe to drop. There is a civil servant also charged with what might be a related offence. That is before the courts and the wise citizen restrains those thoughts of discussing the case.

This writer was a very young air craftsman (AC2) when first venturing away from home but it gave me a very rich appreciation for my country. I must have had that experience in mind later in life when I was on the Ottawa cocktail circuit with the deputy minister of defence and the defence staff. I was reminded one time while chatting with a gentleman who had been casually introduced as a lieutenant-general. He might have been in mufti but when I realized he was an air vice marshal and head of Canada’s air force, I found myself unconsciously stiffening to attention.

Those worlds are far apart and before you think the ranks have any concern for the general staff, think again. They do not even vote in the same ballot boxes.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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Requiem for the New Democratic Party.

Sunday, May 12th, 2019

After a lingering struggle, with the family in attendance, the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) of Tommy Douglas and the New Democratic Party of the Broadbent and Lewis families has passed into oblivion. Funeral services will be a come as you are event at summer barbeques in each of the provinces.

The federal party is survived by its provincial parties. In British Columbia, the party is only in power with the assistance from the Green party. The passing of B.C.’s estranged sister NDP organization in Alberta earlier this year, left B.C. as the only stand-alone provincial NDP government. Little can be said for Her Majesty’s loyal NDP opposition in the Legislature of Ontario under the dismal command of Andrea Horwath, MPP.

During its lifetime, the party gave up the stridency of the Regina Manifesto from 1933, softening it with the 1956 Winnipeg Declaration of Principles. The Winnipeg declaration relabelled the party in a more democratic socialist stance. The stance was further softened by the Statement of Principles of the party adopted at its 1983 convention in Regina. Each step away from the Regina Manifesto further confused the voters as to what the NDP really did believe. Attempts such as the LEAP Manifesto fell to earth, ignored.

What the New Democratic and its predecessor party did achieve was a third-party alternative for disgruntled conservatives and liberals. It seems they are passing the torch to the Greens, who do know what they want when it comes to the environment.

The failure of the NDP was its problem of being a class-based political party. It had defined its membership as the classic ‘working man’ and his family. It also attracted many academics who saw the party as the fast track to social justice. Some of the reforms that the CCF fought for over the years became reality as other parties came to agree. Canada’s early ‘Baby Bonus,’ unemployment insurance, old age pensions and Medicare were all CCF initiatives.

It was a desperation move for more power in parliament when the CCF made the deal with the Canadian Labour Congress. The new democratic party that was created in 1961 was too little and to late in the faster pace of social development in Canada in the last half of the 20th Century. Despite a brief populist appeal by leader Jack Layton in 2011, the party failed to capture the confidence of Canadians.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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Don’t get too excited Ms. May.

Saturday, May 11th, 2019

If you want an area of Canada where the Green party runs rampant, go to Vancouver Island. In fact, the entire area around the Strait of Georgia seems overrun with Greens, Druids and other pagan religions. Just standing under one of those magnificent, lordly trees on the Island fills you with wonder and a sense of the spirituality.

But—maybe getting one more Green party member into parliament might be a brief, but quickly lost, breeze. I hardly believe that two seats in parliament are the beginning of an avalanche. I think the wise voters of Beautiful British Columbia sent a message to the east. It was a polite wake-up call.

It was a very strong message to the NDP. It said get with the program. Get a leader, get a raison d’etre, get real. The Winnipeg General Strike, the Dirty Thirties and the Great Depression are fading into the mists of time. Join us in the 21st Century.

It was a kick in the ass for the conservatives. Ignore Global Warming at your peril. Your rich friends can fund you but do you belong to them? Are you the menials of foreign owners? What are you doing for Canada today?

I think the strongest condemnation was of prime minister Trudeau and the liberals. The handwriting is on the wall—and they have been found wanting. You cannot walk away from your failures. You own them and you have to stand to account for them. Nobody is happy with the liberal’s careless handling of the SNC-Lavalin debacle. And they owe Canadians some apologies. No person who cares about the environment can allow Justin Trudeau to twin the Trans Mountain pipeline. Is that the best he can do in helping our aboriginal peoples? There is a very big difference between diplomacy and simpering. He needs to learn that sometimes we all need to speak—loud and clear.

All Canadians can hope is that over the summer, our politicians will come to understand the concerns of Canadians. They need to understand what brings us together as well as what divides us. We need a new rationale from all parties. None are exempt. That is not a recess bell that will toll on October 21.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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Scheer Madness and Foreign Policy.

Thursday, May 9th, 2019

They wrote a speech the other day and ‘Chuckles’ Scheer, leader of Canada’s conservatives, read it. At the end of the day, Chuckles’ party had some foreign policy to show off and little was changed. The essentials of it were that Donald Trump and his friends were the good guys and the Chinese were inscrutable and the Russians over ‘bearing.’

But what is wrong with the conservative party’s stance on foreign affairs—whether mouthed by the party leader or other minion—is that it is more ideological than realistic. It is a quest for strong relations with like-minded right-wing governments. And Mr. Scheer has hardly considered the price tag of such alliances.

It is not just that the Trump administration, for example, is demanding that allies cough up more money in support of alliances such as NATO and NORAD, there is a very expensive missile shield in the works over continental North America that president Trump wants us to help fund. To-date, we have wisely said no to the system that probably puts us more at risk of being hurt by fallout from the system than anything aimed at us.

And do not forget that in the alliance the Americans want, we are supposed to buy their very expensive jet fighters that are designed for a close-in combat role in support of American objectives. Canada needs long-range defensive capability to assert our territorial claims up and into the Arctic Circle.

The madness of these close ties with Trump’s foreign policy is that we hardly need to add the growing number of countries that hate Trump to our list of countries who see us as lackies of the Americans. Canada once had the general respect of the United Nations and that is done by standing as a country that speaks and acts independently.

All in all, the conservative speech on foreign affairs had some fine words and a positive approach. It is too bad that there is nothing to back it up. It contained the words but not the vision. There was no intention nor conviction in it.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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Who runs this country?

Tuesday, May 7th, 2019

Like it or lump it, Canada is a confederation. And that means the parts of the country that created it think they are just as important as the whole. As many wise politicos have noted over the years, it makes the country a bitch to govern. The federal government got the best of the deal though. It appoints the judges of the supreme court and that is where most of the complaints of the provinces go to die.

Scott Moe, the earnest premier of Saskatchewan learned something of this lesson the other day. He took the federal government’s effort to reduce carbon emissions to his province’s court of appeal only to get a 3 to 2 decision that the fed’s really do have the authority to do that.

Now Moe and his friends from Alberta, Ontario and maybe other provinces, will take the case to the supreme court. It might seem like a terrible waste of taxpayers’ money but every once in a while, it is necessary for the supreme court judges to take a look at how this country is, or is not, working.

It also means that the question is unlikely to be answered before some time late next year. What those provinces are really doing is getting behind Andrew “Chuckles’ Scheer, leader of the federal conservatives. They figure with Chuckles running the frat house on the Ottawa River, they can pretty well do anything they want.

It would mean the gutting of Medicare across the country. Our aboriginals would become lesser citizens. And federal transfer payments could become history. It will be like having the stupid members of the Trump family running the farm on the north side of the border.

What would also be history would be the liberal attempts to revitalize Canada’s middle class. Justin Trudeau has never defined the middle class very well but he has done a good job of improving the lot of families with kids in the process.

But we should be thankful that this country is not run by narrow-minded, right-wing schmucks such as Jason Kenney, or Doug Ford. It is bad enough that we are having to listen to them snorting like hogs in the mud in their respective provinces. Canadians can do better.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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Is Kenney a Constitutional Crisis?

Monday, May 6th, 2019

It seems that between Jason Kenney and his predecessor as premier of Alberta, Kenney has the shriller voice. When he goes to Ottawa to bitch and whine about how his province is not given everything it wants, he knows the buttons to push and the people to harangue. There was no sign at the airport saying ‘Welcome Home Jason!’

And nobody is buying that crap about “a growing crisis of national unity” in Alberta that has only been created in the smarmy mind of Jason Kenney.

Who would believe the threats over Kenney’s opinion that the federal government “doesn’t care about a devastating period of economic adversity”? Any economic adversity in Alberta was created by greed and a lack of economic diversity.

It is disappointing that Kenney and his narrow-minded party got more than 50 per cent in the recent election. It says that Albertans, by and large are buying into the bitching and whining. It is easy to understand people who think they should not pay taxes. And it is easy to understand greed but there is nothing wrong in Alberta that the voters did not bring on themselves.

Albertans have ignored the very wise advice of former premier Peter Lougheed and devastated his Alberta Heritage Trust Fund. This was a fund to build a future for Albertans and instead successive provincial governments have used it to pay bills that were the taxpayers’ responsibility. This kind of waste and misdirection of the funds will continue as long as Albertans vote for it.

If the voters did not know what a sleaze Jason Kenney was before they elected him, they are certainly going to learn now. He took his victory lap in Ottawa to make foolish threats against the liberal government and prime minister Trudeau.

When is he going to learn what is needed to be done in Alberta?


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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Pipe dreams and nightmares.

Sunday, May 5th, 2019

Nobody seems eager to address the questions of pipelines properly. Is it not possible that some pipelines can do good and some can commit unspeakable evil? Are we to be treated as idiot children incapable of sorting out the good from the bad?

We should start with natural gas pipelines. These are everywhere. The odd time that one of these baby’s bursts or is entangled in an accident, it is easy to cut off the feed, squelch any possible flames and fix the problems. If nobody is hurt, the environmental damage can be quantified and ameliorated.

And that is why I see few problems with the liquified natural gas (LNG) operation in B.C. that takes the provincially sourced gas from a pipeline. It makes business sense and is hardly a serious polluter. And did you know that modern LNG tankers use some of the natural gas to power the ship?

And then there are the pipelines designed to ship everything from crude oil through to refined fuels throughout North America. While more volatile and heavily regulated, these lines are essential today to keeping our North American economy moving. They are certainly an excellent reason to always check before you dig.

The third type of line that pipeline people have been less reluctant to tell us about is the type of line that can handle transmission of tar sands bitumen. It was only in talking to knowledgeable experts that I could find out what Enbridge, TransCanada and Kinder Morgan people were talking about when proposing lines such as Energy East and the line to Kitimat, B.C. These lines were specific to push large quantities of diluted, heated bitumen from our tar sands at high pressure.

Of some 40 significant spills (each of more than 50 barrels) of Enbridge lines over the years, the spill of diluted bitumen up-river from Kalamazoo, Michigan in 2012 was the most expensive, at a cost of over US$700 million. It never could be completely cleaned up.

I remember how shocked I was when Enbridge applied to change its Line 9 through Toronto and on to Montreal to enable it to also to heat and push bitumen at higher pressure. I was there when that line was installed down a hydro right-of-way and across the top of Toronto’s Yonge Street subway. I sent a scenario to the National Energy Board of the tens of thousands of casualties from a leak and a flood of flaming bitumen running down the subway.

Some scoffed at my concern as though it was like a thousand-year flood. The only problem is that, even in Canada, we are now getting thousand-year floods every couple years.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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