Archive for the ‘Federal Politics’ Category

Trudeau has to dump Morneau.

Thursday, March 22nd, 2018

We have been waiting. We have been patient but it has not happened. Prime minister Justin Trudeau still has that millstone Bill Morneau dragging him down to the depths of neoliberalism. It is not 2018 for this government until finance minister Bill Morneau is gone.

It is the story of Jean Chrétien’s government revisited. It was not the prime minister, at that time, who laid the table for Stephen Harper; it was the ego of his finance minister Paul Martin that did the liberals in. Paul loved to tell people that you could run to the left but you had to rule to the right. Canadians saw a neo-conservative in Martin and finally chose the real thing with Harper.

These liberals who consider themselves economic conservatives and social liberals are fooling nobody but themselves. Various studies have shown that Canada can save in excess of $4 billion a year with a national Pharmacare system. Morneau cannot salve his economic meanness with some kind of a patchwork system.

Frankly, Morneau seems to know less about the need than the man-on-the-street. He does not seem to understand that what we have now is a system that fails the sick and the dying. Are we going to remain the only major country with a Medicare program that does not have an equally accessible Pharmacare program included?

Morneau represents the same area in Toronto that would have been part of Mitchell Sharp’s riding back in 1966. As a young liberal from the area I happened to be seated next to Mitch at the plenary of the Liberal convention in Ottawa that year. We were arguing about Medicare. Mitch—as Mr. Pearson’s finance minister at the time—was using all his wiles to stop or at least slow Medicare happening in Canada.

When it came to the final vote on Mitch’s motion to delay implementation to July 1, 1968, I stood to vote for implementation in Centennial Year 1967. Mitch gave me an annoyed look. You could see him wondering what this communist was doing in his riding?

It continues to amaze me to this day what people such as the late Mitch Sharp and then Paul Martin and now Bill Morneau consider their duty. Their fiscal responsibility is nothing more than a mean-spirited, father-knows-best attitude. They throw barriers in the way of implementing services for people instead of finding creative solutions. They prefer the accolades of their peers at their club to the applause from the hoi-polloi for a job well done.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

The conflicts of Jagmeet Singh.

Wednesday, March 21st, 2018

New Democratic leader Jagmeet Singh has a problem. He appears to want to be a separatist in India but a nationalist in Canada. Perhaps it is his devout Sikhism and his seeming lack of understanding of what ties Canada together. It is hardly an enviable position for a national party leader.

It seems to me that Jagmeet Singh did not think through all his loyalties before entering politics through the Ontario legislature and then leaving it for the national scene in Ottawa. As an observant (Khalsa) Sikh, Jagmeet has not really transitioned well into Canadian culture. Wearing a bespoke suit from Harry Rosen with his colorful turbans and his Kirpan knives and the rest of his five Ks, does not, in itself, make him a contemporary Canadian.

It is also annoying to read that he thinks many Canadians are unaware of the events in India in 1984 and are equally in the dark about the Air India bombing in 1985. Those of us who followed those events with considerable concern where horrified with the Indian Army using tanks to subdue radicals at the Sikh’s Golden Temple in Amritsar in June of 1984. The Sikhs could always be critical of the workmanship but they really should have let the Indian government pay for the repairs to the temple.

Sikhs are very proud people but they had a responsibility to restrain retaliation for that affront by the Indian government. The assassination of Prime Minister Indira Ghandi by her Sikh bodyguards was uncivilized and disgraced the entire country. The uncontrolled race riots that ensued left thousands dead and many observers worried about the political maturity of India among the world’s nations.

What particularly angered Canadians was the attack on Air India that originated in Canada. Those 329 people killed on flight 182 were mostly Canadians and they were innocent of any involvement to any repression of the Sikhs. This was an unforgiveable act of terrorism on innocent people.

Jagmeet Singh, as a leader in the Sikh community must realize that Canada has been open to people from troubled lands around the world. All we ask is that each newcomer sets his or her sights on making a successful life among us and leaves the troubles of the old country in the old country. Ours is an open and caring society. What makes our society work is being open with others. Let us always listen and share. For only by working together can we all be Canadians.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Ageism and Justin Trudeau.

Tuesday, March 20th, 2018

There was an opinion piece in the paper the other day by a favourite commentator. She was writing about the Liberal government not trusting anyone older than the prime minister. That leaves a very large number of Canadians to be disposed of on the ice floes by this uncaring government.

I had always been under the impression that Justin Trudeau thought seniors would all be happy to have a selfie with him and he has been working hard on that project. It seems he thinks that will satisfy the old buggers.

Well it will not satisfy this one. As a long-time party member (before Justin was born) this Liberal expects more of him. I do not brush off easy.

I quickly learned what this government thinks of old Liberal apparatchiks when I offered some help to newly-appointed democratic reform minister Maryam Monsef. As something of an expert on voting systems—from pencil and paper to computers—and a Liberal who knows the ropes in Ottawa, I was pleased to offer her some help. She did not just turn me down, she ignored me. Watching how she handled the special committee on voting reform, I was not the least surprised when she was bounced from the portfolio to minister of status of women, where she is getting in less trouble.

The most direct problem Justin Trudeau has with seniors are the ones in the senate. He has disowned and antagonized the former liberal senators who are now supposed to consider themselves independent. They are cut off from the Liberal caucus and they really do not feel much love. Newly appointed senators are selected by an elitist committee and are thrust into a disorganized and confused senate. And when they just try to do their job, everyone complains about them holding up legislation.

But the Liberal cabinet member most responsible for the growing alienation of seniors is finance minister Bill Morneau. This minister has been salting away millions from selling off the company he inherited from his father. He is well looked after for his ‘golden years’ but the inflation he is encouraging is eating the heart out of current senior’s pensions.

The finance minister has to direct his department to come up with a better deal for pensioners with old age security and the guaranteed income supplement. They are also voters and they do not miss an opportunity to show you what they think.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

In defence of populism.

Saturday, March 17th, 2018

From the first time I met John George Diefenbaker, I have admired populist politicians. For the benefit of our younger folk, John Diefenbaker was a Prairie populist politician who served as prime minister of Canada from 1957 to 1963. As a young liberal, I did not agree with much of ‘Dief the Chief’s politics but some of what he did changed this country forever.

Conservatives considered John Diefenbaker a radical. He did crazy things like appointing the first Canadian woman to the federal cabinet. His government passed the first Canadian Bill of Rights. He gave Canada’s aboriginal peoples the vote. He appointed the first aboriginal person to the senate. These were not the actions of your typical conservative.

Mind you, as a former member of Canada’s air force, I was royally pissed with Dief when he cancelled the spectacularly advanced Avro Arrow. He caved in to the Americans and left Canada as perpetual water boy to the Yankees.

I got to thinking about populism recently when reading a very misleading column by Chantal Hébert in the Toronto Star. She was saying that one-member-one-vote selection in political party leadership benefits populists. That is B.S. from an usually more knowledgeable reporter.

Her problem was that the examples she used were hardly populists. Doug Ford is not a populist. His late brother Rob was a populist and the difference could not have been more obvious. Rob Ford believed in Ford Nation, he was part of it. Doug Ford wants to use Ford Nation but he is hardly part of it. He is a dilettante. He talks the talk but hardly walks the walk. I will put money on him crashing and burning before the Ontario election. He is just another embarrassing Premier Mike Harris in waiting.

And Hébert mentioning Patrick Brown as an example of populism is a sad joke. Patrick Brown is a sleazy political manipulator and user who finally got his comeuppance.

Brown and Jagmeet Singh both swamped their party memberships with ethnic sign-ups from the Indian sub-continent. The only difference was that the Sikhs have been proud of Jagmeet Singh and would have insisted in paying for their own memberships.

Populism is a rare feature of Canadian politics and we need more of it. It is that ability to be part of the masses, articulate their needs, motivate them and rise to lead those masses. It is a combination of empathy and vision and communication. When you see it; you will recognize it.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

There are some real royals.

Wednesday, March 14th, 2018

It is too bad that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was too busy to meet with the King and Queen of Belgium when they were in Ottawa the other day. These are a somewhat different type of royal. They are useful. They are not just figureheads and dilettantes. The Belgian royals brought 150 business leaders and others with them to help build stronger ties with Canada.

While trade between Belgium and Canada was $6.5 billion last year, Canada does that much bilateral trade with the United States in three days. The Belgians are hoping to see a substantial increase in their trade with Canada as the new Canada-European Union trade deal comes into effect.

The Belgians were greeted according to protocol by the Governor General and with all the correct ceremonies. It was obvious that they had hoped for a few words with Canada’s Prime Minister.

Belgium, as a sovereign country, is only about six years older than Canada. It is also a constitutional monarchy and has two major language groups. Part of the role of the royalty is to help hold the country together despite ongoing tensions between the Flemish (about 60 per cent of the population) and Walloons (close to 40 per cent).

In the United Kingdom, the Queen has a periodic briefing from her prime minister as to the affairs of the nation. In Belgium, the monarch is much more involved and he maintains direct contact with his cabinet ministers as to the progress of their bills and programs. He supplies the ministers with highly knowledgeable and apolitical advice.

Having visited Belgium and seen first hand the animosity between the Flemish and Walloons, I can only feel admiration for how the Belgian monarch helps to smooth relations between the two groups. Compared to the concern Prince Harry has with the guest list for his upcoming wedding to an American, it does seem to make our royals quite redundant.

But Canada will never be able to ameliorate its borrowed monarchy from England that does this country no favours. It might be a convenience for our politicians who think they know best about our needs but the refusal of our government to address concerns about the un-elected and undemocratic senate, supreme court appointments and the myriad of concerns about our need to update our democracy are not being solved.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

“We stand on guard for thee.”

Thursday, March 8th, 2018

The last time our parliamentarians screwed around with Canada’s national anthem, they were trying to make it gender neutral. What they accomplished was to have some of us singing different words, others of us confused and all of us stuck with awkward phrasing. And it is tough to fake that you are singing along under those conditions.

But we can all be robust in song when we come to standing on guard. We know those words and we all concur in their meaning.

And, these days, we all want to stand on guard against that incompetent ass Donald Trump in the American White House.

But be warned. That bastard is trying to get us angry, He wants us to retaliate. It will launch a trade war that he will win only when he puts North America into the grip of a depression. He is more than willing to damage his own country to prove himself right. He will blame Canada. We all know of his disrespect for Mexico.

Foreign minister Chrystia Freeland can threaten retaliation but no wise person would carry it out.

Trump will do that for us. He is raising the price of softwood lumber on the west coast of the United States. Canada has already passed the 50 per cent mark in shifting our B.C. softwood lumber sales to China, Japan and Korea.

The steel markets he is threatening are more complex. It would take several years for America to replace the rolling mills in Hamilton and Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario that supply much of the rolled steel to America. Americans will hardly appreciate the cost increases inflicted by Trump in the meantime. Nobody is worried about aluminum tariffs as Canada and Norway share the ability to supply world markets of aluminum at the lowest costs. Trump’s lumpen proletariat will just have to bite the bullet of a higher cost for their beer cans,

In the meantime, we should let our friends and relations know that a loony spent in the United States might be less than 78 cents but it helps pay for Trump’s pomposity. We are already paying too much for products from the United States and it would pay us to cut back when we can.

And after the winter we are presently experiencing, is the southern U.S. that much better a place for a holiday? Why not enjoy a Caribbean holiday or a trip to Mexico instead?

Frankly, we should all be doing what we can to give Mr. Trump the one-finger salute.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

The troubled travels of Trudeau.

Wednesday, March 7th, 2018

Good advice is a treasured commodity in government. Bad advice is plentiful. It seems that our current prime minister has plenty of the latter and not enough of the former. It could also be that Justin Trudeau has lots of good advice but chooses to ignore it. That was how his father behaved in his first term in office. He almost did not have a second term. And watching Trudeau the Younger these days, we are wondering if he even knows in what direction he is headed?

After an easy election despite the obvious weaknesses of his advisors, Justin Trudeau had a good start. He made the point that it was 2015 after all and he was a new broom. We said: Go for it, tiger!

We were not aware that we now had an elitist for prime minister. We were unaware that he wanted to take family vacations with the rich and famous. We had no idea that he would turn appointments over to elitist panels.

He did not seem to know that real men support feminism because they are proud of what women contribute in our society. Their respect and the equality of the sexes is self-evident and accepted. Real men and real women have little to prove.

Justin Trudeau’s devotion to his family is evident and commendable. His family is a truly charming representation of our country.

But when they travel abroad they are representing our country. They are not there just as tourists. They are not there to ape the dress and manners of their hosts. For the children to try native dress is charming. For our prime minister to repeatedly try native dress is distressing.

Stephen Harper would travel to excess to escape what he saw as the boredom of parliament. Justin Trudeau travels to escape what he sees as the nagging of parliament. If he does not find better sources of advice, nagging will be the least of his problems.

Watching ‘Chuckles’ Scheer paraded through the talk shows last weekend, it is obvious the shift in his position in his Conservative party. The move is from an interim fill-in to a possible success. The day they think of Scheer as a possible prime minister, I thought there would be at least three moons in the daylight sky.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

The Bully Pulpit of Donald Trump.

Tuesday, March 6th, 2018

President Theodore Roosevelt said, more than 100 years ago, that the White House is a bully pulpit. It means something very different to the bully in today’s White House. Roosevelt saw the bully pulpit as a position for good. Trump sees it as a position to abuse the less powerful. He is a bully in the full sense of the word.

Even Trump’s North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiators, meeting in Mexico City in the past week were caught off guard by the tariffs Trump proposed on aluminum and steel. He was so proud of this that he twitted his plan to bully his country’s neighbours. He is going to bring them back to the table cowering to accept his conditions for an American version of NAFTA. (Otherwise known as ‘beggar your neighbours.’)

Trump’s negotiators have repeated told him that there is little reason for Canada and Mexico to want to “Make America Great Again” the Trump way. A trade agreement such as NAFTA can be of great benefit to the economies of the participating countries but it requires goodwill and fair dealing.

The bully in Trump tells him that it should be the most powerful nation that makes the rules. While neither Canada nor Mexico are the largest producers of steel, there has been a brisk three-way business in steel between the three countries. It has meant lower prices, more variety, adequate supplies and a fair market between the three countries. Trump is sure as hell, he is going to fix that. His tariffs will greatly increase the costs for American construction and products made with steel. He is trying to put thousands of Canadian steelworkers out of work in Hamilton and Sault Ste. Marie but will jeopardize the jobs of even more in Pittsburgh and Gary, Indiana.

Trump’ followers will likely pay the higher cost for their aluminum beer cans. Canada’ aluminum smelters are located in the middle of an area of the cheapest hydro power production in North America and will carry on regardless.

Trump is waiting for Canadians to retaliate to the repeated tariff challenges for soft-wood lumber, dairy products and now aluminum and steel. He wants a trade war. He needs Canadian retaliation to get approval in his country for his trade war. It would be the end of NAFTA. That is why Canada is carefully counting to ten each time the bully makes a move.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

The mild-mannered Minister Morneau.

Thursday, March 1st, 2018

To think that it was only during the last half of last year that I was calling for the finance minister’s head. This week’s budget hardly left me feeling fonder. I thought Bill Morneau showed his true patrician colours in failing to defend his budget last year. What the hell is he going to do now? Is this year’s budget more or less defensible?

I had cause to laugh about it the next morning when I heard a local member of parliament lambaste Minister Morneau for his deficits. This particular politician is a former fireman who dresses like an undertaker and tries to act like a lawyer (the only professionals in Barrie who seem to want to wear ties). I had watched this guy on city council for a few years, where he had never showed much understanding of basic mathematics.

Frankly, federal deficits are about the same as paying your monthly bills on a cash-back credit card. You have more cash on hand and can have more money than you expected at the end of the year.

My mother was the accountant for two very successful companies in Toronto and at the same time, she raised six kids by herself. In her spare time, she taught business to adults and helped establish the Guild of Accountants.

And could that woman ever manage a household budget! I had to wear a lot of my older brothers’ hand-me-downs but we ate well. Only two of my brothers have post-graduate degrees but the one who died a millionaire had dropped out of high school.

It is very nice that Bill Morneau and his boss are such devout feminists. There is nothing they can tell me about it. Though I am a little surprised that they have not scoped out the cost of bringing female government employees’ salaries in line with men’s. This should have happened a long time ago.

But what really surprises me is the small change being offered to support better local journalism in Canada. After the millions that government has spend over the years studying our news media, you would think there would be a better understanding. When Morneau does not have the sense or understanding needed to tax the Googles and the Facebooks and the Netflix of this world, what hope is there?

After due consideration, I think this budget can quickly be forgotten. And I still think Justin Trudeau would be smart to dump Morneau. I think he is too much a dupe for his department.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Elitism bites Trudeau’s ass.

Saturday, February 24th, 2018

It is hard to say what embarrasses Canadians more. Seeing pictures of Trudeau and his family dressing up Bollywood-style to the amusement of the Indian Sub-continent is bad enough.

As often as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been warned though about his elitist approach, those chickens have come home to roost. It looks like the most serious problem he has created for himself is the Senate of Canada. By installing an elite committee to independently recommend elite appointments, he now has a senate that is setting its own timetables and holding up legislation.

It seems to be justice though that the current major piece of legislation being delayed by the independent senate is Trudeau’s signature legalization of marijuana. The prime minister promised that Canadians could all be toking up on Canada Day this year. That is turning out to be as good a promise as his saying that the 2015 election was the last time we would use first-past-the-post voting.

It is Justin Trudeau’s own fault that so many tons of cannabis will be stale by the time Canadians get to buy some legally. He gave the file to an ex-cop to manage. Bill Blair must have stopped at Timmies often for donuts.

It took Blair a long time to get his mind around the bureaucracy needed to manage the pot industry. He must have been surprised by the higher profit margins when the industry only had to pay taxes instead of bribes.

The delay will make the provinces happy. No doubt Ontario will be able to have two stores ready to open when cannabis is finally declared legal in the Canada Gazette.

I have not checked with Quebec lately but that province should have made a deal with the Mafia. Nothing need change. The Mafia could do the growing, distribution and accounting and they could have the bikers to do their home delivery. Customers would pay promptly, or else.

But what really worries me about this fiasco with the senate is that some legislation that the elite senators really dislike—such as taxing the one per cent fairly—is going to be held up by Trudeau’s elite senate. This is going to start anti-senate riots on Wellington Street in Ottawa.

And what is Trudeau going to do when these elite senators find out they can also originate some legislation. Can you just imagine the type of legislation they will start to develop? They are likely to move the senate to Florida for the winter each year. They will at least get it away from that awful weather in Ottawa.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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