Archive for the ‘Federal Politics’ Category

The pandemic that killed small businesses.

Sunday, January 17th, 2021

It has always been obvious that while our politicians will say positive things about small and entrepreneurial businesses, the big box stores are all they can see. And nothing has culled the field of small business faster than the second wave of the pandemic.

But it was not covid-19 that did the deed. It was government shutting our small business down without compensation that sealed their fate. While we expect a high percentage of start-ups will fail within the year, there seems to be no justification for our politicians to accelerate their demise.

And we are not just thinking restaurants here. Restaurants have been given a chance if they can find profit in pick-up and delivery. People still want good food. Other retailers who can deliver goods and services without traffic through their premises also have an opportunity at survival.

Yet if I ran a clothing store, for example, I would need a strong customer base and a liberal return policy, to survive the erratic lock-downs of this pandemic. Even then, you would have a hard time even making your overhead.

And with the opportunities left for restaurants, they need to make better deals with the various smart-phone apps who can put them in the poor house with their delivery charges. And even then, restauranteurs need to realize that they want to keep the 15 to 25 per cent of their customers who do not have smart phones. Sure, about 80 per cent of the Canadian population are now claimed to be using smart phones. That does not say much for our common sense as many of these users can ill-afford to pay the outrageous rates that Canadian telecoms are charging.

Our politicians are going to lose the advantages they gained by spending so lavishly during the first wave.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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It’s not your father’s liberal party.

Wednesday, January 13th, 2021

When Pierre Trudeau resigned his leadership of the liberal party in 1984, it was a robust organization with supporters across Canada. The president of the party was B.C. liberal Iona Campagnolo. She was the party president that when the new leader John Turner was caught by the media patting her backside—made a joke of it by turning it around and patting his.

It is regrettable to think that there will not be much left of the party whenever Justin Trudeau decides his time is done. Rather than work with a strong and independent party, Justin Trudeau prefers it be subservient and totally under his direction. Nobody runs for office in the party without his approval. And nobody runs to be a liberal candidate for parliament without his approval.

Trudeau had told the party he would not interfere in the choice of the party in the electoral districts before the party made him leader. It became clear in his first election as leader in 2015, that he would choose who he wanted as candidates. His inner circle people are always a mirror image of the forty-something prime minister, reflecting his attitudes, his direction and his ignoring the party’s wishes.

He told the party and his supporters in the 2015 election campaign that it would be the last time that they voted under the first-past-the-post style of voting. That promise bombed under a democratic institutions minister who was chosen more for her gender than her knowledge of democratic institutions.

Even his gender-balanced cabinet soon lost its gender balance when he found that changes where inevitable with time. Luckily the best performer in his cabinet over their first term in government was Chrystia Freeland, the foreign affaires minister who became deputy prime minister and the first female minister of finance in Trudeau’s minority cabinet in 2020.

Justin Trudeau is maturing in the job but he still has a way to go before he learns the importance of having a strong, independent party behind him as prime minister. He also has a long way to go to becoming the kind of prime minister as was his father.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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Politics of the pandemic.

Tuesday, January 12th, 2021

It has been fascinating watching politicians learning about the politics of a pandemic. It has been a learning experience for all of them. Some take naturally to the challenge, while others find it a struggle.

Thinking of the positive ones first, I have to admit that prime minister Justin Trudeau fell into the pandemic cesspool and came out smelling of roses. While I ridiculed his popping out of the Rideau Cottage, as though it was a cuckoo clock, those were very effective sessions. Not only did the media and the public pay attention but they came to trust his statements. Trudeau had reason to laugh at the opposition in parliament. He stood alone in front of the cottage and the listeners had every reason to believe him.

People such as Doctor Theresa Tam, Canada’s Public Health officer, brought the technical expertise to support the prime minister but not on the same set. Best to let her and the lesser politicians play back-up from an official site while the prime minister played his game as a single.

Interestingly, premier Doug Ford from Ontario does not have the younger Trudeau’s confidence. He seems afraid of his ignorance. Ford brings his health minister, his former treasurer, his education minister and other minions to dance a quadrille with him around the microphones.

But Ford still manages to get himself in trouble. He blusters when caught out. He announces that there will be an announcement—and you hope he remembers. He comes across too often as dull-witted and uncaring.

Premier François Legault of Quebec seems to be a cross between Robert Bourassa and Maurice Duplessis. You have to annoy him to get him to make the next move. I keep waiting to see him leading the police in sweeping people off the streets of Montreal.

But the one who really takes the cake is the premier of Alberta. He is almost as bad as Trump in the United States and that guy with the bad haircut in the United Kingdom. All of those men have proved conclusively that they are not effective leaders. Jason Kenney has been leading Alberta down the garden path for too long. He is a narcissist, a misogynist and a fool and seems to have forgotten all the lessons by his mentor Stephen Harper.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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In praise of liberalism.

Monday, January 11th, 2021

Being a liberal is not just some fuzzy feeling. It is a commitment to life. It matters not the color of your skin. It matters not whether you are rich or poor. It matters not the extent of your education. It depends on your caring. It depends on your ability to grasp the needs of your fellow humans. The need is to be progressive. To keep an open mind.

Liberals ignore the false news of the ill-informed. They reject the foolishness of unthinkingly believing in social media posts of those with personal agendas. Liberals do not rush to judgement.

Also, a liberal allows no one to put themselves above others. A liberal looks down on no one. There is no upper class. There is no middle class. There is no lower class. Nobody need be labelled.

You might hear someone claim they are a social liberal and an economic conservative. That person is not a liberal. Their statement is a conflict.

An economic or any kind of conservative can be a basically selfish person. While we have known many a conservative who is not selfish and is a warm and caring person, it is not the type you usually meet in politics. Too many conservatives preach a cant of small government, balanced budgets, an open economy and the devil take those who fall behind. They come across as mean and uncaring.

They will tell their constituents to stay home during the pandemic and then take off on a foreign holiday. They will leave behind social media postings to make people think they are at home. They know that they are doing wrong but they consider themselves to be privileged.

But privilege can also be the problem with liberal politicians. People ask why some liberals are fed up with Justin Trudeau. Sure, he looks good popping out of the Rideau Cottage to speak about the pandemic. That hardly lets him off the hook about the TransMountain pipeline that is just designed to send the pollution of that oil sands bitumen to other countries which can be blamed for the world-wide pollution.

And it is hard to forget his elitist approach to the Senate and court appointments, his failure to keep two key women in his cabinet and his dress-up trip to India. Nobody’s perfect.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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Who’s paying for the bitumen Trudeau ships?

Saturday, December 12th, 2020

It struck me, listening to the news from Ottawa on Friday, this whole plan for $170 a ton for carbon by 2030 is bullshit. Who is going to pay for the disgusting amount of carbon prime minister Trudeau and his friends in Alberta are hoping to ship from Burnaby, British Columbia? And who intends to pay for the many tons of carbon that will be sent into the environment from the millions of barrels of diluted bitumen that could be sent through the Keystone XL pipeline to the Texas Gulf Ports, for shipment overseas?

Canadian bitumen from the Alberta tar sands is the worst polluter in the world of all the tar sands deposits. Just converting it to synthetic crude oil creates tons of carbon slag that will be picked up and blown with the wind. It is then further refined into carbon releasing fuels and many petroleum-based products.

Mr. Trudeau cannot ship the pollution out of Canada and not be responsible for the damage to the environment. The winds know no country boundaries. You are not absolved by shipping the pollution to countries who are not involved in the Paris Accord.

Sure, environmentalists in the United States are counting on president-elect Joe Biden to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline. Can the Canadian embassy in Washington continue to pester the Americans to not correct the despicable environmental affronteries of the Donald Trump regime? Trump let his billionaire friends level entire mountains in the beautiful Appalachians so that they could sell the coal. Approving the Keystone XL pipeline was just a further finger to the environment from Mr. trump.

The shipment of Alberta tar sands bitumen out of Canada labels Mr. Trudeau and his friends in Alberta the greatest of hypocrites. Trudeau said in his news conference that it is no longer free to pollute in Canada. Obviously, it must be free to pollute if you ship the polluting material out of the country.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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Are any conservatives listening?

Tuesday, December 8th, 2020

It is something of a wonder that Jason Kenney, premier of Alberta, Doug Ford, premier of Ontario, and Erin O’Toole, federal conservative leader, are members of the same political party. The only similarity between the three gentlemen is that they all blame Justin Trudeau for their problems, provincially and across Canada. And that seems like a very heavy load for Canada’s prime minister to carry.

No doubt there are a growing number of Albertans who wish Mr. Kenney spent less of their money on pipelines for diluted bitumen and more on health care. They think he should be paying more attention to the current pandemic than the price of oil—which is obviously not going to suddenly solve all their problems.

At a time when his province is so obviously in need of leadership, Jason Kenney has been reluctant to place any restraints on Albertans. Citizens of Alberta who want to ignore the simple rules that could reduce and prevent the spread of coronavirus are creating the highest incidence of covid-19 in the country.

The news media in Ontario had been giving Doug Ford time to grasp the reins of his job but disillusionment has been growing. Just when you think the guy is doing the job, he reverts to his basic cronyism. Having his majority conservatives approve a bill that includes university status for his friend Charles McVety’s Canada Christian College is a slam at Ontario’s properly run and qualified universities.

Add to that, Ford’s disregard for Ontario’s years of building safeguards for our environment. He is destroying those years of hard work by conservative, liberal and new democratic governments to cater to his developer supporters. It is open season on the environment in Ontario.

And the federal conservative leader is not much help either. He is trying to build a fictitious ‘big tent’ party that more Canadians can support. To do this, he is ignoring the more strident members of his federal caucus such as Pierre Poilievre who thinks we are spending too much helping Canadians through the pandemic and MP Derek Sloan who wants to warn people against vaccines.

It would seem that Canadians would be better off if they had more politicians who put Canadians first and their party second.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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Decidedly Different Discipline.

Friday, December 4th, 2020

Many Canadians are intrigued by the discipline of political parties. Not that it seems to matter within the parties themselves but it does seem to matter in the caucus of elected party members in the federal and provincial parties.

There even seem to be differences when you are the government or not. Party leaders can be much more forgiving when in opposition. The standard explanation of this is that when in opposition rather than government you are building up a big-tent party that has many different opinions. When you are the government, you had better not have any opinion contrary to that of the leader.

You can tell this by the number of the ex-caucus members occupying a small number of seats at the farthest corner of the house or legislature—away from the government leader—and seemingly out of sight of the speaker’s dais.

While I am sure that Mr. Trudeau would quite rapidly send an anti-vaxxer from his caucus to that purgatory, this is not the case with opposition leader Erin O’Toole. O’Toole has ignored conservative MP Derek Sloan’s claim that the first vaccines to be approved will be effectively human experimentation as they are rushed through the approvals process. Sloan wants the legislation establishing the approvals to state that they can only be used on a voluntary basis.

This reluctance to discipline is not the same in the Ontario conservative government’s caucus. Premier Doug Ford bounced the controversial MPP Randy Hillier from caucus for making “disrespectful” comments to parents of autistic children.

The removal of former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and former health minister Jane Philpott from the liberal party caucus was probably the most controversial of all such decisions of prime minister Justin Trudeau. Liberals can only wonder if that ejection from caucus would have been supported by a majority of caucus—in a secret ballot?


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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Please, Spend, Spend, Spend.

Thursday, December 3rd, 2020

This is a skill testing question. How are we going to spend our way back to a healthy economy? I have been doing my best at Ontario’s liquor control board stores. That enterprise has been pleased with our upgrading to single malts and better wines despite the pandemic rules that force the wife and I to drink them without our friends and relations to help us.

And it is not as though we are not in shock with the price increases when we go to the grocery store. What is annoying, is to realize that none of those excess profits are going to the hard-working people who are keeping those shelves stocked and ready for us. Paying higher dividends to the Weston family and others is not building a stronger economy.

And I really would like to spend more with my local restaurants but did you know that you have to have a smart phone to use those delivery apps? I am not about to pay the usurious fees to use one of those phones charged by those thieves at Canada’s telephone companies. Luckily, they still take credit cards at my favourite restaurants—if I go out and make my own delivery.

Mind you, I think Ms. Freeland is missing an opportunity to satisfy a lot of the critics who do not understand debt levels. No doubt many Canadians would feel better if they could do something to allay our growing national debt. Not, I should add, that it is of serious proportions. It is not. We are well within bounds. And you can be very sure the people who assess national debts would definitely tell us if they thought we were going overboard.

But I would recommend that, at the next opportunity, our finance minister should restore the two per cent that Mr. Harper cut from the goods and services tax some years ago. The funds could be earmarked for debt servicing and would be helpful in covering the cost of borrowing a few billion more if needed to keep our heads above water until the pandemic is beaten.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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Looking mean and meaning it.

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2020

That was dumb. Watching finance minister Chrystia Freeland deliver her financial update was more of a tribute to my interest in politics than any immediate need to hear her deliver it. What left me annoyed though was the rank stupidity of our opposition parties’ responses.

While the speech itself was boring, poorly structured and self-congratulatory, the conservative response was worse. Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre came out of his seat like a guard dog smelling dinner. If he thinks the liberals are putting Canadians too deeply in debt, he should tell them where to cut. And which voters to leave out in the cold.

He complains a lot about the government not knowing exactly when it will start receiving the vaccines that have not yet even been approved for use. The problem is that the government is in the dark also. They seem confident that some of the more promising vaccines will be arriving in the next couple of months. We have been teased a bit by the good progress reports but Canada has its own logistics problems in making the vaccine available to Canadians from coast to coast. As it is, the government has committed to buy up to 400 million doses of various potentially successful vaccines.

But even before the vaccines are available, O’Toole and his attack dog are harping at the government for not having distribution plans in place. What they do not seem to realize is that if we start vaccinating Canadians in the first quarter of 2021, we will still be vaccinating over the coming summer. The roll-out of vaccines will not be overnight.

And some of the more likely vaccines will require special conditions for shipment and storage. Some require conditions of extreme cold for storage. They are not just boxes of vials.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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Political leaders get lots of advice.

Tuesday, December 1st, 2020

It is part of the job. Leaders of all political parties get lots of advice—most of it ignored. Maybe the Toronto Star is not aware of this phenomenon. That must be why they run advice columns for different leaders every Sunday opposite the editorials. One of these, that ran last Sunday, was intended for conservative leader Erin O’Toole.

As befits the conservative party, the advice was far from progressive and you could picture the writer yawning as he wrote it.

The first idea was to show off the excessive amounts of money the Tories are reaping from their pleas to their base. The suggestion was that they give all the money they dredge from their supporters in December to charity. I wish they would—and then good luck in January trying to get more. If conservatives wanted that money given to charity, they could have got the refund from Revenue Canada directly.

And talk about double-dipping. Would they get a political donation credit and then further credit on their taxes for the charitable donation?

But the conservative supporter goes on to suggest that the second wave of covid-19 might be an opportunity of benefit to Mr. O’Toole. First of all, there also might be many Canadians appalled at a politician thinking they can benefit from sickness and death.

The fact that Justin Trudeau had an uptick in the polls for his cuckoo-clock type appearances was more the fact of the exposure, the warmth of the home setting and his manner in handling the non-political information he was providing for the public. For the opposition leader to try to mimic the presentations to criticize the prime minister would hardly get the cooperation of the news media for long.

Doug Ford has fared badly with his attempt to do group presentations at Queen’s Park. Some of the media’s questions lately have been answered with tirades from the intemperate, inexperienced premier.

And we were under the impression that this conservative writer was experienced. For him to suggest that O’Toole attack the liberals for the generosity of the support for Canadians caught in a pandemic is a bad idea. Sure, there will be some ill-considered payments when you are ‘rushing funds out the door’ but so far, they appear to be catching most of the errors and getting them fixed.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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