Archive for the ‘Federal Politics’ Category

Chrystia’s Cassandra Complex?

Monday, June 18th, 2018

Canada’s foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland, might not be a fortune teller but she had more than a few truths for the Americans last week. Our only concern might be with her timing, discretion and diplomacy. As the expression goes: Rome was not built in a day—and it took a few more centuries to strip it of power. It survived for many years after the unruly rule of Emperor Nero. And, like Nero, Donald Trump will just be another blot on the copybook of history.

But it was not a diplomatic speech Freeland gave to the foreign policy forum in Washington. She was challenging the pre-eminence of America.

Maybe that is a necessary message to which Americans should listen. It would just be treated with more respect if it came from within.

Think of the message that prime minister Lester Pearson delivered to Temple University in Philadelphia in 1965 about the Vietnam war. It led to the famous scene of president Lyndon Johnson grabbing Pearson by the lapels and shouting at him about pissing on the presidential rug. The message is that Canadians can visit Washington but need to be seen, not heard.

While her call for adherence to the rules that the Americans insisted on as part of the North American trade agreement might be logical, it falls on deaf ears on the Trump administration. Nobody in that maladministration cares about her claims.

And giving Americans history lessons is also, in itself, a waste of time. They can write their own self-aggrandizing history books in Hollywood, thank you very much.

Freeland might be pint-sized but she is entitled to walk tall in the corridors of Washington. She represents a country that has always batted above its numbers among the world’s nations. It is not a nation easily gulled.

Canada’s foreign minister would have an easier time of it if her boss was not a pretty boy running around the world posturing with platitudes and posing for selfies. He makes a farce of his promises in Paris when he then ridicules the process of saving the environment by promoting Alberta tar sands pollution for the third world. It makes him a hypocrite and an embarrassment for Canadians.

Freeland’s speech in Washington drew some applause from outside the White House but is unlikely to mean much as NAFTA comes to its inevitable end. It will die as part of  Trump’s efforts to make America great at something again.

-30-

Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Salutations to Samara!

Wednesday, June 13th, 2018

Somebody else cares! There is help on the horizon. Canada’s political parties have been ground down to unimportant collections of non-entities over the past 40 years. And it seems that the non-partisan Samara Centre for Democracy in Ottawa cares. Welcome to the fray folks.

Samara got into the action because of their excellent work in trying to understand the motivations and concerns of our members of parliament. Despite the forces trying to stuff the members of parliament into sheep pens for their leaders, they do get brave, but only after they leave parliament.

Mind you, whomever told the Samara folks that parliament is just show business for ugly people should be horse whipped. The country’s business is not show business and the last party leader who cared was Pierre Trudeau.

When he was quoted as saying that MPs are non-entities more than 25 feet from parliament hill, the liberal prime minister was referring to most Quebec MPs. He was actually impressed with the strength of the party organization he found supporting strong candidates in other parts of the country.

But after Pierre retired, the Quebec sickness was allowed to spread. The Quebec federal liberal party was a top-down cabal that controlled what riding organization that existed and appointed their candidates. Across the country since then, the shift in all parties has been to party leader control of nominations and policy development. The party has become nothing more than a list of donors that the parties hound for funds and for help in elections. This has to change.

Restoring the individual MP to effectiveness in parliament demands a certain independence from control by the party leader and his whips. It means having a strong and effective party organization in each electoral district across the country. It requires a strong party organization that represents Canada’s regions, provinces and country that stands apart from the elected arm of the party. The party leader runs the elected arm of the party and the party president runs the party.

As it stands today, Canada’s MPs are not doing their job. They are not doing their critical work in committees, they are not effectively representing their electoral district constituents and they are taking a salary from the taxpayers under false pretenses.

There is much to be done and the Samara Centre is helping Canadians to understand the problems.

-30-

Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

The political pivot point of 2018.

Wednesday, May 30th, 2018

In every election there is a point of pivot that decides the outcome. It has been fascinating listening to people across Ontario in the current campaign, learning of their concerns and frustrations. And they are concerned and conflicted and caring. They have been looking for solutions. Sometimes the solution can be forced on you by an outside source.

The pivot point came Tuesday, May 29. It took the high ground away from the Ontario liberals. It left the party of Wilfrid Laurier in limbo. It was the hypocrisy of the federal liberals that betrayed everything done for the environment by the provincial liberals that did the deed.

It was never easy for Ontario to end the use of coal to generate emergency electricity needs. And do not mention gas plants. It has not been easy for Ontario to promote hybrid autos. The province has had constant criticism of its efforts at cap and trade as an alternative to carbon taxes. The government has been vilified for its efforts to promote clean energy.

And what was the point of creating a greenbelt to protect our environment, our sources of potable water, our recreational areas and our farm lands? Our farmers seem to be unappreciative of the protection. Builders and politicians try to betray us.

We have Doug Ford to fight carbon taxes for the uncaring. Money beats caring about the environment with his rich friends. His voters hardly care about his loudmouth promises of magic money to cut taxes and give away the treasury. Doug Ford is a fool and he will be the fools’ folly.

And to suggest that the new democrats offer more than the liberals is an experiment that led to the disaster of Rae Days and then Harris’ hype.

So, who is the bad guy? Who let the dogs out?

Only our poster boy prime minister, Justin Trudeau, could leave us tumbling down the into the depths. He has forgotten his promises when a newby in Paris. He has forgotten it was once 2015. He no longer cares about the promises of Canada’s environment.

Trudeau and his neoliberal government of misfits have betrayed us all.

Nobody would care if it was just crude oil his pipeline would send to Burrard Inlet. Does he even know of the danger his pipeline threatens the environment? He wants to pipe diluted bitumen under pressure over the Rockies and on ocean-going tankers in the Straits of Georgia. He hardly cares that bitumen is a substance that just keeps on polluting.

Justin Trudeau has certainly polluted the Ontario election.

-30-

Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Where’s Justin?

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2018

Oh, we know where on this earth Prime Minister Trudeau might be located. We just wonder where his mind might be at? This country is going downhill morally and politically and our leader was recently down in New York giving a trite commencement address to graduates at New York University. He then headed to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston where he took part in a Solve Conference to address world problems.

We can hardly be caring about our prime minister being a feminist, in touch with the LGBTW communities, and a world-wide poster boy, when he should be here pulling this country in sensible directions. He has a mess of his own making now in B.C. and Alberta and his finance minister has just locked him into a catch-22 situation indemnifying a foreign-owned pipeline company against the legitimate right of Canadians to protest.

And what good is all his simpering diplomacy with Donald Trump when he has a Trump-wannabe trying to take over as premier in his backyard of Ontario? Is he afraid of Doug Ford? We remember how Premier Wynne helped Trudeau in the 2015 election. Is the PM just a fair-weather friend?

It also would not hurt if our prime minister learned a little more about the House of Commons. While Trudeau is busy out posing for selfies, the tory opposition is eating his lunch in parliament.

And if he knew a damn thing about the politics of the Middle East he would help not confuse matters by whining about one Canadian being shot in the midst of a blood bath. He should ask Israeli leader Netanyahu, “We all know President Trump’s an idiot to start this. What the hell is your excuse?”

And speaking of Trump, why are we sending our foreign affairs minister on these NAFTA pilgrimages? Does she not have anything more important to do? As long as Trump does nothing precipitous, we still have a working North American Free Trade Agreement. We have shown we are quite willing to negotiate but surely we have people smart enough to take notes working at the Washington and Mexico City embassies. Politicians are the ones who do the signing and take the credit or the blame as required.

And judging from the foreign minister’s reports from the front lines of the NAFTA negotiations, she does nothing to clarify the situation. She seems to be getting nowhere.

-30-

Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Bill Morneau’s neoliberalism.

Sunday, May 20th, 2018

We should make it clear that neoliberalism is something a real liberal abhors. Neoliberalism is like the corporatism of the Italian fascists of Benito Mussolini of the 1920s and 30s. It lets the corporate world manage its own affairs. It is like finance minister Bill Morneau announcing that the government will indemnify Texas-based Kinder Morgan against losses occurred in trying to run its current pipeline expansion across the Rockies to Burnaby, B.C. The expansion is being resisted by the British Columbia New Democratic government.

It is a sweetheart deal for Kinder Morgan!

To a real liberal, it is unconscionable. This offer by Morneau and the Ottawa liberals indemnifies Kinder Morgan from actions by the people and the government of British Columbia. It indemnifies Kinder Morgan from actions by our first nations. The federal government is offering to take responsibility for the costs of legitimate protest. It is saying the environmental concerns of Canadians do not matter.

Just what is Morneau thinking? How can a government even consider indemnifying a company against the possible actions of the people who elect that government?

We are not in Italy of 90-years ago.

What is also the tragedy in this political and environmental argument is that Canadians are not hearing the truth. People with the pipeline on their agenda, lie about the tar sands; they call them ‘oil sands.’ They lie about what the expanded Trans Mountain pipeline is designed to ship to Burnaby to be transferred to ocean tankers. They call it ‘heavy oil.’ It is not yet oil. It is diluted bitumen.

Humans have used bitumen for thousands of years. In the time of building the pyramids, bitumen was the tarry substance used to caulk the bottoms of boats that plied the Mediterranean. Converting bitumen to synthetic crude oil is one of the most polluting processes known. It creates more than three times the pollution of normal oil refining. It creates huge piles of carbon slag.

When you transmit bitumen by pipeline, it has to be thinned with lighter polymers, heated to keep it fluid and travels under increased pressure. And when bitumen is spilled, you can never completely clean it up if it gets into local streams and rivers.

If we let this neoliberalism get by us, just wait until these neoliberals try to get VIA Rail to run their trains on time. If our railways become self-regulating, we will have even more reason to remember Lac Mégantic!

-30-

Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Our ‘Pollyanna’ foreign minister.

Friday, May 11th, 2018

You have to be very gullible to believe the statements Canada’s foreign minister Chrystia Freeland has been making after each of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) sessions. It seems lately that only Mexico is being obdurate over those proposed clauses that will harm that country’s positions. And yet the current deadline was set to accommodate Mexico’s upcoming presidential election.

But what deadline is Canada working towards? While Freeland is basking in the limelight, she also seems to be accomplishing very little.

It seems that her objective of keeping NAFTA alive is becoming riskier. Nothing is really happening. As we expected would happen all along, the question is hung on the vestiges of the old Canada-U.S. Auto Pact. Did emissaries from General Motors and Ford get to Trump and tell him that it would take as much as six years, rather than six months, to untangle their North American auto production?

And when President Trump is proving for all to see that he is unafraid of unilateral decisions that can lead to world wars, why should he worry about auto parts? He just keeps making impossible demands that nobody can satisfy. Few of us have ever followed a simple auto part from manufacture, through various assemblies and finally to a customer. It is a long journey across many borders and through many hands.

But Canada’s Pollyanna foreign minister keeps on mugging it for the cameras and talking about progress when what she really should be doing is talking to the American negotiators about is how to cancel the deal. These people are deluding themselves anyway, why not throw some cold water on them?

What she needs is a comic book presentation of what NO-NAFTA looks like for Mr. Trump and his claque. It will start with absolutely no automobile production in North America because nobody could afford cars that cost three times as much to build. And Americans could hardly count on imports when their government would have to apply huge import tariffs to protect the few American jobs that can be retained. And there would be fewer jobs in America anyway as other countries throw up tariff walls to preserve their industries.

It has been interesting watching Freeland play the Pollyanna approach but at some time we need to throw in a dose of reality. We just need to make sure that it is communicated in a simple form that Trump and his foolish followers can understand.

-30-

Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Privacy passing.

Thursday, May 3rd, 2018

Political wannabes never seem to understand the lost privacy of politics. There is less and less every year. Privacy is a passing possibility.

I can remember back in the early 1980s when taking part in a business conference in Calgary. Former finance minister John Turner was the guest speaker one day and he sort of swore everyone to secrecy before launching into a diatribe against Pierre Trudeau’s policies as prime minister. For someone who was expected to step into Trudeau’s role as liberal party leader in a couple years, it was a vitriolic and apolitical speech.

It was obvious that John had not noticed me at the back of the room. He looked a little concerned when I walked up to him afterwards. I opened with asking him what this confidentiality was about? I told him I had gone to a lot of trouble to make careful notes on what he said for a reporter at the Calgary Herald. He realized that he had just been maligning friends of mine.

But at that time, John got away with it. The days of cell phones with cameras were not on us yet.

What got me thinking about this was a supposedly private meeting Doug Ford, leader of the Ontario conservatives, had with some developers a while ago. It seems someone captured Doug’s comments with a cell phone about the greenbelt around Greater Toronto. He actually told the businessmen that after all, the greenbelt was just ‘farmer fields’ and he thought some 800,000 hectares should be developed. He thinks greenbelt is easy to replace.

As you also heard, the plan was short-lived. It was obvious that Doug Ford knew very little about the greenbelt. He obviously did not understand that the Toronto greenbelt includes the Oak Ridges Moraine that is an aquifer drainage region that provides fresh water for more than six million people in the Toronto region. Doug Ford wants to pave it over. What is amazing about this offer from Ford is that the usually more aware developers seemed to consider it a great idea.

Obviously, at least one of the developers thought it through and gave his cell phone video to the liberal environment minister Chris Ballard at Queen’s Park.  Ballard showed the video to the news media.

Smarter people on the Tory team must have prevailed and the plan was quickly cancelled. It makes you wonder though what other private promises Doug Ford is making to people for their financial support. There must be quite a few greedy people across Ontario who do not like restrictions put in place by government to the benefit of citizens both now and in the future.

-30-

Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Chuckles brings home a report card.

Saturday, April 28th, 2018

Andrew ‘Chuckles’ Scheer has spent the better part of a year in Ottawa as leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition. A report card is due. Will we like the report on that purportedly placid Prairie politician?

Will he reprise the docile and easy-going speaker of the house role he played for the former prime minister? Do our parliamentarians still refer to him as ‘Harper’s boy’?

You might be surprised to hear that he has now been retrained as an attack dog and he can be ferocious when standing on his hind legs. He stands in place in the House and almost drools as he focusses in on the prime minister. And it is not to praise him.

Chuckles is quite adamant that our prime minister is an empty suit, a wastrel and a waster of public monies, a hypocrite in his policies and is taking the country in entirely the wrong direction. In fact, according to Chuckles, the liberal leader does nothing right.

His only problem is that very few Canadians pay much attention to what Chuckles has to say in the House of Commons. They do not know him and if they did, they might not like him.

Chuckles is more than a bit boring. He and his wife are practicing Catholics and have five children. He is a social conservative. He has been known among the conservative caucus as Stephen Harper with a smile.  He ran for the leadership last year on a slogan of being a real conservative and a real leader. Not all conservatives believed his slogan. He won on the 13th ballot with 50.9 per cent of the vote over second-place Maxime Bernier’s 49. 1 per cent.

If he really brought home a report card for his first year as opposition leader, it would probably report that he does not always play well with the other children. He has been known to complain that the liberal government has not done something and when they do it, he complains that that they did it. He went to England recently to promote himself with the people back home. He got failing grades in diplomatic relations with the U.K. government.

Chuckles is also busy preparing for his first test as conservative leader in next year’s federal election. The consensus is that he will be lucky to survive as party leader.

-30-

Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Different directions for divided liberals.

Wednesday, April 25th, 2018

Prime minister Justin Trudeau needs to check the direction in which his mob is headed. It is very hard to get out front to lead them when you are headed in opposite directions. Seeing the directions and concerns of the Liberal Party of Canada at the Halifax gathering last weekend, Trudeau needs to reassess the makeup and direction and priorities of himself and his cabinet.

The truth is today that Liberal Party supporters are predominantly to the left of the political spectrum. They are also to the left of Justin Trudeau and his cabinet. While Trudeau has changed the party to try to prevent it from showing much organization and discipline, he has also made it harder to control. Environment minister Catherine McKenna and natural resources minister Jim Carr can talk the talk of their portfolios but the party knows them to be hypocrites when they support the twinning of the Texas owned Trans Mountain pipeline.

Trudeau needs to realize that next year it is not the elites around his office but the people in the electoral districts who will knock on doors with literature in hand. They are the people who made the breakthrough for Trudeau in 2015 and are needed to defend his less than perfect record in the 2019 federal election.

The prime minister might think that all he needs to do for the party is stand for a few selfies and talk sunny days but the party has shown its concern for where this country is going. The ones who came to Halifax want Pharmacare to match with Medicare. They want to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of drugs to show the user that helping them is more important than penalizing them for addiction.

And it was the young liberals who brought forward reforms for those in sex work. Liberal forums have been hearing for more than fifty years of the need to decriminalize prostitution and to recognize the work of sex surrogates and sex workers as a critical outlet for societal needs.

But it is not the prime minister and his cabinet that should act as the naysayers to these proposals. They have to recognize that the need is to study and consider by a progressive and understanding society. Being conscious of the needs is the beginning.

-30-

Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Devolving Deception.

Tuesday, April 24th, 2018

When responsibilities are passed to a lower level (devolved), it helps to have a glossary of terms available so that the lesser levels will get their words right. It seems that Toronto Star writer David Olive has stuck carefully to this glossary in his story on the weekend touting the Trans Mountain pipeline.

Olive hits just the right note in his puff piece when he starts with concern that the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion over the Rocky Mountains will never be built. And to drive home his concern, he calls it an “oil” pipeline. Never once in 87 centimetres of copy does he refer to the bitumen the expanded pipeline is designed to carry to tidewater on the B.C. coast.

Olive is concerned that the lack of the expanded pipeline will do serious damage to Canada. He is worried that Kinder Morgan has suspended work on the Texas company’s $7 billion pipeline expansion.

He refers to the to the Alberta tar sands product as being landlocked. This is despite the coming availability of TransCanada Pipeline’s Keystone XL that President Trump has insisted be built with its access to the Texas gulf ports. There is also the already approved replacement of Enbridge Line 3 to Superior, Wisconsin (despite meeting some resistance in Minnesota) also offers possible access for bitumen to the Great Lakes. And let us not forget the 300,000 barrels per day that can already be shipped through the existing Kinder Morgan line to Burrard Inlet.

We are not really clear if the Kinder Morgan expansion to high-pressure, heated bitumen through the new dual system at almost 900,000 barrels per day is based on need or greed.

For all the weeping and wailing of Alberta and federal politicians, nobody wants to explain publicly why the Alberta companies do not want to convert their bitumen to synthetic crude oil in Alberta.

Olive seems to have the idea that the Athabasca tar sands product would not be discounted the way it is today if the company could just get it to third world customers who are not worried about its excessive polluting. You would expect that any country with the expertise to refine bitumen into synthetic crude oil would also have the knowledge that bitumen costs more to refine and creates serious amounts of highly polluting bitumen slag in the process.

He goes on to compare the tar sands output to Maya crude from Mexico. Maya crude might have many impurities but it is still crude oil, not bitumen.

Our advice to Mr. Olive is that, before he writes more on this complex subject, he read more than the tar sands producers’ handouts.

-30-

Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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