Archive for the ‘Federal Politics’ Category

Basic income is not dead.

Tuesday, February 16th, 2021

As much as the Toronto Star and others might want to bury the concept of basic income, it is very much alive. When someone puts what they think basic income will cost ahead of other objections, you know they are more interested in their supposed opinion than people. It is a selfish attitude and wrong in so many ways.

What these nay-sayers are telling us is that the needs of individuals in our society are too diverse to be solved with a single social support system. What they are really saying is that they want to continue with the present system that we know does not do the job.

Not since the fictional Oliver Twist asked for more, has anyone really tried to change the strained benevolence of human society. We put our trust in a wide selection of band-aids, that cost more than any single system would cost and yet we know that many of the needy continue to fall through the cracks.

Do you, in your heart, believe that the present mish-mash of services are doing the job? Do you believe that the alternate elections of slightly generous and skin-flint politicians are doing the job?

Frankly, in our society, it takes more than a village to raise a child. It takes compassion and a willingness to get down to where the real needs dwell. You can hardly use band-aids without a basic plan that acknowledges all humanity. It is the very diversity of humans that demands a basic level of support.

It is only when we have assurances of the flotation that keeps everybody’s head above water, that we can effectively address diversity. The simple facts are that we are all different. We need individual solutions. We have to stop throwing the detritus of our society into a place to die. We cannot turn our backs on their being human.

We have to stop treating basic income proposals as a final solution. It is but a step into a finer future for us all.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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Does Singh know why O’Toole’s nice to him?

Monday, February 15th, 2021

It might have been the annual event celebrating Saint Valentine, but Jagmeet Singh of the new democrats should be suspicious of all the cards he received from conservative MPs. The rationale for all this lovey-dovey, kuchi-koo business from the conservatives could only be that they need Jagmeet and his NDP caucus to support them if they call for an election in the spring.

The Bloc Québécois have already blown them off. The Bloc are hardly likely to encourage an election when Trudeau and his liberals are riding high. And that would probably include the greens and independent MPs.

The election, that could happen in June, could be a desperate attempt by conservative leader Erin O’Toole to save his neck and that of his party before the liberals get too high in the polls.

It could happen. Was it not Trudeau who did the end-run and ask his friend Narendra Modi, prime minister of India, to facilitate getting some life-saving vaccines from India? After all, when India needs to vaccinate 1.3 billion people, you can always slip 20 million or so doses to your buddy in Canada.

The Serum Institute in India is already licensed to produce a billion doses of the U.K.’s AstraZeneca vaccine, developed in cooperation with Oxford University. They are committed to use half of those billion doses in India and the other half to be supplied to low-income countries without the funds to acquire vaccines. There are two other vaccine producing operations in India, so, technically, the doses sent to Canada could come from these producers.

The only problem is that the AstraZeneca vaccine has yet to be approved in Canada. What counts most though is the needles in arms in time for an election and the end of these lock-downs.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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Never upstage your leader.

Saturday, February 13th, 2021

Pierre Poilievre MP appears to have been demoted in the conservative ranks in parliament as it heads toward a possible spring election. Little boy blue might have made the political mistake of upstaging his leader. The member for Carleton, in the Ottawa area, has been having much too much fun as finance critic, attacking the liberal government for its supposedly spendthrift ways.

Poilievre can be nasty, when it comes to critiquing. He seems to be really enjoying himself when he goes in for the metaphoric ‘kill.’ Like a weasel, he might be deceptive in size but still deadly.

And he has taken to the Zoom parliament like a duck to water. He was among the first to appear to have put up the false background filter on Zoom, with professional lighting. This Calgary-born conservative does not miss a trick.

With his hair neatly coifed and wearing an impeccable conservative suit, with a blue tie, Poilievre has been keeping his leader, Erin O’Toole, in the background. It makes the voter wonder just who is the leader here?

It is just too bad that Poilievre comes across to voters as mean and Scrooge-like. It would never do for his leader to take baggage such as that into an election campaign. He needs a potential finance manager such as Ed Fast, MP for Abbotsford in British Columbia. The grandfatherly Fast was a cabinet minister in the last Harper government and would be expected to get a senior portfolio in any future conservative government.

And poor Poilievre has been relegated to carping on the liberal’s failure to produce the industries and jobs that Canadians need for financial recovery after the pandemic—at least in the view of the conservatives. And he will have his work cut out for him as the liberals roll out their multi-billion plan for critically-needed infrastructure roads and bridges and transportation.

What makes his job even tougher is that it seems none of this liberal benevolence will be coming forward until after the election. It leaves Poilievre tilting at windmills.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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The polarization of the provinces.

Thursday, February 11th, 2021

There is some further thinking about the TVOntario program I watched last week on the polarization of Canada. A Quebec participant had others laughing when he made the comment that Canadians really do not like each other. In the same vein, another countered that Canadians are nice, except for Albertans. What everyone was missing was that, while amusing, these comments were not helpful.

While it might be amusing to joke about it, the reality is that this is a time of anger in Canada and we should be careful not to encourage it. We are sweating out a pandemic and there is a level of frustration and angst that is fomenting across the country. There are easily anticipated delays on getting the vaccines that many see as the panacea. We just happen to have some politicians in charge who have been reassuring us that there is hope and they act surprised when people are annoyed about the delays.

Instead of just Babel-on-the-Bay being critical of our naïve politicians, many Canadians are deriding our politicos for their gullibility. There is little point now for being angry at previous conservative governments for letting Canadians sell off assets such as Connaught Laboratories that could have provided us with large-scale production of vaccines. Nor should we expect Justin Trudeau to understand the problems with foreign contracts. And when did we rescind permission for provincial premiers to blame Ottawa for any delays in distribution of life-saving vaccines?

The only politicians we are going to be respecting in the coming year will likely be the ones who do not try to blame others for their failures and false starts and mistakes.

And I think I will continue be critical of those who put ideology ahead of serving people. I will also have harsh things to say about politicians who try to give us the party line instead of honesty. I am a liberal and I do not like having Justin Trudeau destroy my party. Party members are not his personal ATMs. We are people who wanted to support him as leader. He should learn to lead.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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In the cause of Canada.

Wednesday, February 10th, 2021

It was an interesting program on Steve Paikin’s Agenda last week that was co-sponsored by TVOntario and the Toronto Star. It was on Canada’s prospects in sustaining its democracy. The thought was that the same pressures that affect American democracy eventually get to Canada.

Well, that thought is likely to be wrong. And when you start with an invalid premise, your conclusions are likely to be slipshod as well.

The United States has already suffered its Incompetent-in-Chief and, in our own way, we are suffering from the same problem. Four years ago, the United States, rejected the old politics and brought in the irresponsible Donald Trump.

At least, the Americans knew they made a mistake. Canadians had opted for the unknown Justin Trudeau, at that time, assuming he might have some of the wisdom of his father. Instead, we got his mother.

But Trudeau’s liberal party was not the only one struggling to find good leadership. Neither the conservatives nor the new democratic parties were coughing up competent leaders.

The American system of government has a way of breeding competent leaders. They have more swimmers in that pool.

The Trump aberration was simply that. It was an aberration created by Americans’ frustration with racial strife, unfettered capitalism, and class differentials. The American melting pot had finally melted. And they quickly found out that Trump was no solution for their democracy.

I wish I could say that Canadian democracy has also found some answers but we seem to have a way to go.

The first thing our parliamentarians need to do is find a way to bring the unfettered prime minister’s office to heel. We have too many unelected people in power in this country. Provincial premiers also have too much power.

Americans can, at least, amend their constitution. So should we.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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Big Tech versus Big Media.

Tuesday, February 9th, 2021

It is not as exciting as the meeting at the OK Corral. There is no shooting. And the only people shouting are the news media. They want Big Tech to stop stealing their work product. If our copyright laws where easier to enforce, it would not have even been a problem.

But the dumbest idea to come out of all of this wrangling is having government solve the problem. You would expect the news media to know that it takes government years to keep its promises. Overnight solutions usually end up being tossed back by the courts.

And if the government did solve the problem between the media and the Internet exploiters, would the news media then be nice to the government?

We should stop dreaming now and keep government and the news media each in their own kennel. Do you really think the Australian government meant to get into the middle of a war zone between Google-FaceBook and Australian news media?

What is without question here is that the Internet interlopers are stealing from the news media to create a false news creation of their own. It is usually a mishmash of real news headers, veiled advertisements and Hollywood blather.

If the Internet guys and girls had ever studied the work of 20th Century psychologist Daniel Starch on newspaper readership, they would know that, for many of the readers, that header was their take-away for that news item. Remember that the header or first paragraph of newspaper stories is most likely to include the “Who, what, why, when and how” of newspaper tradition. Starch found a smaller percentage of the readers read half or more of the news story. And as many news media are using paywalls to pull in some extra revenue, it often just annoys the potential reader when clicking on the news item to find a paywall blocking them from reading is annoying.

For this argument to be resolved, everyone has to understand that legitimate news costs money. You need reporters dogging your politicians, watching your police and fire departments, studying what is happening in businesses and reporting from around your country. This costs money to observe, write and either print or broadcast and in the Internet. Internet people cannot just steal this expensive commodity for their own use to attract customers.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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Going where no politico dares to go.

Monday, February 8th, 2021

It always amazes me when some politicians will wade into subjects about which, they know nothing at all. It is what can get them in trouble, most of the time. Take Justin Trudeau’s supposed expertise in vaccines. It is like the other day when he was assuring parliamentarians that he talks regularly to the CEOs of the vaccine producing laboratories.

What does he talk to them about: their golf scores? You need more than a few lessons in pharmaceuticals to try to understand the complexities of developing vaccines for a coronavirus that attacks the respiratory system, and can kill.

And for the laboratories to be as far ahead of the expected curve in developing more than one vaccine is amazing in itself.

The bad news is that no firm has ever developed a new product that did not have any production problems, shipping delays, storage problems or arguments about priorities. Add another month.

But people have now heard about it and they want it. Too bad instant gratification is not available in this case. Best you listen to the promises of when you get your shot(s) and add two months.

And you can be sure there will be as many queue jumpers as there will be anti-vaxxers who would rather die than get a needle in the arm. Add another month.

What causes the most hilarity is the idea of getting senior military people to organize the injections for us. The first move is to get us all to march in columns and in-step. Add another month to teach generals that civilians are neither obedient, in-step, easily sorted, organized or that any new product arrives on its promised schedule.

If you have ever wondered why all political people sound alike is that their party leaders’ offices spend a lot of time writing answers to questions that might embarrass the party leader. The leader and all his party sing from the same songbook. They might sound stupid but it seems to work.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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Did you know the campaign was on?

Saturday, February 6th, 2021

Jagmeet Singh has been heard from. He did not exactly come down from the mountain with tablets of stone. The new democratic party leader has decided that the low-hanging fruit of for-profit, long-term care homes was as good an issue as his party needs in the looming federal election.

It is likely that he figured that is all he needs if Canadians are to be presented with a campaign fought over the handling of the pandemic. The NDP might not be aware that there are no heroes while the battle still rages. Our prime minister, Justin Trudeau is hardly looking like a leader popping in and out the front door of Rideau Cottage like a cuckoo to repeat the advice of medical personnel. And conservative leader Erin O’Toole has hardly won kudos from the voters complaining about how Trudeau does, or does not, do the job.

O’Toole might not remember that it was conservative Brian Mulroney who sold off the Connaught Laboratories that might have helped Canadians get vaccinated as fast as citizens in other countries. Nor does it help Justin Trudeau if the liberals did give out more money per capita than any other advanced country during the pandemic.

It might come as a surprise for those who pay attention to politics that Justin Trudeau is doing as well in the polls as he is. You would think that some of his record as prime minister would work against him.

But his real secret weapon is the opposition. The reason Justin Trudeau and the liberals are likely to win any election called this year is the sad condition of his party’s opposition. There really is none. Erin O’Toole is a mistake. He is a conservative who thought the military taught him leadership. He is no leader. Jagmeet Singh has already proved that he is incapable of leading the new democrats anywhere. His leadership of that party is being endured.

There are only a few Canadians who would bet on the new leader of the Green Party. Annamie Paul, leader of the Greens, is an unknown to the majority of Canadians.

That leaves us with Yves-François Blanchet of the Bloc Québécois. That is hardly an alternative for anyone who cares about our country.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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The lingering death of CTV.

Thursday, February 4th, 2021

There are some flash drives littering my desk behind this computer. Those memory sticks date from my last three computers. I started to search in them earlier and wasted hours in nostalgia.  What I was looking for, was not found. It was the presentation I made to the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) 13 years ago. It was when Bell Canada was seeking approval to buy CTV and its holdings.

I said in very clear terms to the commissioners that Bell Canada knew nothing about television or radio, its production needs or programming. When the future of the industry was in question, CTV was unloading an albatross on the suckers at Bell. Time is proving me right. The news today of another 200 staff cuts in CTV in Toronto area alone tell the tale. Based on their presentations to the commission, I think the commissioners believed that the two giant concerns deserved each other.

I walked away from that CRTC meeting, never to return.

It was part of the disappointment. I had been in on the conception of the CRTC and at the turn of the century, my late friend The Right Honourable Herb Gray, who spent 40 years in parliament, asked me if I would like to sit on the Commission, I helped create.

The involvement started in the 1960s with prime minister Lester Pearson telling Jack Pickersgill, then minister of transport, to get down to the party policy meeting at the Chateau Laurier, where some young Turks in the party were tearing apart his Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

What Pickersgill found was that we were simply asking for the separation of the CBC from the Board of Broadcast Governors. We were convinced that, at the time, the arrangement was strangling growth for both the CBC and the Canadian television industry. We won the battle and the CRTC was created by Pierre Trudeau’s government under the first minister of communications for Canada, my, then member of parliament, Robert Stanbury.

But that right-wing jerk John Manley, was political minister for Ontario over 30 years later when Herb Gray suggested me for the CRTC and Manley shot down my appointment without any consideration.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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The Constitution Conundrum.

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2021

It takes two things to fix Canada’s constitution. It takes ideas and leadership. Without suggestions as to how we will fix it or people to lead the parade, it is rather silly to take polls as to how people feel about our sorry mess.

As it stands to-day, Canada is tied in a constitutional lock-down. Giving petty dictators running provinces the power to deny Canadians a better future is undemocratic and a failure in negotiation. It will only be when we can all see the potential for Canada’s future that we might come to agreement.

The first step in the process is to convince Canadians that a constitutional conference needs to be held. This can be created by a national referendum. It can be kept to a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ The proposal could deal with the creation of the conference and the questions about the future that need to be discussed. And then, after the conference, we can have a vote by all Canadians as to whether they approve of the suggestions coming from the conference.

The constitutional conference could be fashioned as a parliamentary assembly—with maybe two persons per constituency. What we would not want would be for them to run to be members of the assembly as members of a political party. We would certainly want input from the parties but this is a situation where geographical input should come first. We really want the people to represent the people in the constituency that sent them.

What we need to stay away from is choosing members as though in a raffle. We saw what happened in 2007 when Ontario picked people at random for a conference and the guy chosen to run it led the raffle winners down the garden path. It was a waste of time and the majority of Ontario voters agreed.

At the same time, we have to stay away with results such as the Charlottetown Accord. The 1992 accord was a politician’s view of a solution to Canada’s discord. It was a plan put forward by the leaders of the federal and provincial governments. After former prime minister Pierre Trudeau came out against the Accord, it was also a waste of time.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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