Archive for the ‘Federal Politics’ Category

Are parties considering the cost of living?

Tuesday, August 6th, 2019

There might be a problem brewing in the election that the politicians are missing. It is the real cost of living. The problem is that the parties are listening to only one set of experts. These are the economists, the bankers, and the gnomes of the department of finance. Not one of these people can match the insights of one housewife going through the current week’s grocery store advertisements.

I feel that my wife is a far better barometer than any central bank. And I will back her over finance minister Bill Morneau any day.

That was why I checked with her this past week when I heard that the U.S. federal reserve actually dropped the American interest rate. This is normally done to stimulate the country’s economy. I thought at first it indicated that the Fed was following orders from that nincompoop in the White House who wanted to keep a hot U.S. growth rate into next year’s election.

The wife has her own style in these calculations and one learns to shut up and not disturb despite considerable mumbling and the occasional quite unladylike expletives. Through it all, she is compiling lists for various stores and margin notes for stores that will price-match other store’s bargains.

She even broke her own rule at one point this week and told me the price for my favourite steaks. It seems I could only get hamburger and bone-in chicken breasts to barbeque this weekend.

But that is only half the problem that some of our favourite politicians are facing. The facts are that grocery prices are only heading in one direction: up. For people born in the mid 20th century, three dollars for a loaf of bread today, is a serious shock. And why are we paying over three dollars for a litre box of milk?

The point is that seniors today are carrying the brunt of inflation. They only have the government standing between them and the impact of constant inflationary pressures. Nobody should have to wait for the inflationary pressures to push them into a position where the government has to cough up more help.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Chuckles Chooses Cheap.

Monday, August 5th, 2019

Conservative leader Andrew ‘Chuckles’ Scheer was not out to look cheap the other day. It was just the effect when he again announced that the conservatives would guarantee Canada’s health care system a three per cent increase per year. It seems that the Trudeau government made a deal recently to go up four per cent next year.

From Chuckles point of view, it was a waste of a good story about our health care and his mother’s kidney transplant. Politicians do not get many opportunities for personal stories to fit in with major announcements. His mother was martyred for the cause and the son was made to look cheap. And the last thing any politician wants is pity.

There was also a strong sense of déjà vu last week, as our prime minister headed to the far north to kick off his election campaign. It was just four years ago when prime minister Stephen Harper headed for Iqaluit, Nunavut, to kick off conservative Leona Aglukkaq’s bid for re-election. This is despite it still being the dog days of summer and nobody was really interested in politics.

But Justin Trudeau is not just a one-trick pony. He came north to help save the environment and protect the wild life. He came north to enlist the Inuit in the cause. In agreement with the Inuit, he announced that two large marine areas are being set aside as protected habitats of northern wildlife. (Only the Inuit can fish and hunt there.)

It is also an opportunity to show Canadians the changing climate of the north. This is the front-line of the war against climate change and the locals are already seeing the drastic affects. Melting permafrost, and disappearing ice shelves are changing the face of the north faster than people to the south realize.

While some see the changing environment of the Arctic as an opportunity to benefit from a year-round North-West Passage, the reality is that the extensive ice melt will have other drastic affects on our coastal cities and low-lying islands.

There is also no question but climate change is high on the lists of concerns of Canadians in this election. It is very hard to argue against there being any degree of climate change when fires are ravaging our forests, centuries-old ice fields are melting and changes are affecting our weather from an expanded tornado season to record breaking heat across Europe.

So, we will have to give Justin Trudeau and his organizers some credit here: They kicked off the election campaign with style and set the challenge for the climate-change deniers. It is going to be a rough and tumble campaign. (And by the way, Leona Aglukkaq lost the election four years ago. We hear, conservative leader Andrew ‘Chuckles’ Scheer has already appointed her to run again.)

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Trudeau does a Harper.

Saturday, August 3rd, 2019

There was a strong sense of déjà vu as our prime minister headed to the far north to kick off his election campaign. It was just four years ago when prime minister Stephen Harper headed for Iqaluit, Nunavut, to kick off conservative Leona Aglukkaq’s bid for re-election. This is despite it still being the dog days of summer and nobody was really interested in politics.

But Justin Trudeau is not just a one-trick pony. He came north to help save the environment and protect the wild life. He came north to enlist the Inuit in the cause. In agreement with the Inuit, he announced that two large marine areas are being set aside as protected habitats of northern wildlife. (Only the Inuit can fish and hunt there.)

It is also an opportunity to show Canadians the changing climate of the north. This is the front-line of the war against climate change and the locals are already seeing the drastic affects. Melting permafrost, and disappearing ice shelves are changing the face of the north faster than people to the south realize.

While some see the changing environment of the Arctic as an opportunity to benefit from a year-round North-West Passage, the reality is that the extensive ice melt will have other drastic affects on our coastal cities and low-lying islands.

There is also no question but climate change is high on the lists of concerns of Canadians. It is very hard to argue against there being any degree of climate change when fires are ravaging our forests, centuries-old ice fields are melting and changes are affecting our weather from an expanded tornedo season to record breaking heat across Europe.

So, we will have to give Justin Trudeau and his organizers some credit here: They kicked off the election campaign with style and set the challenge for the climate-change deniers. It is going to be a rough and tumble campaign. (And by the way, Leona Aglukkaq lost the election four years ago. We hear, conservative leader Andrew ‘Chuckles’ Scheer has already appointed her to run again.)

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Canada’s Senate: Still not Democratic.

Friday, August 2nd, 2019

Despite having many friends in the Senate over the years and appreciating some of their hard work, there is no justification for such an elitist and undemocratic component to the Canadian parliament. It represents millions of dollars in expense for the Canadian taxpayer over which the taxpayer has no say.

While it might have been seen as a necessary brake on the ambitions of the House of Commons when conceived in the 1860s, it has become more of a drag on legislative proceedings in the modern day. It is as though the Commons does not bother to consider its legislation as carefully, as they can leave parts of it for the Senate to fix.

Surprisingly, in considering this commentary about the Senate, I realized I have never sat through a debate in that chamber. And yet, I will always remember an interminable discussion on drainage ditches that I once sat through in the British House of Lords.

Like the Lords in the United Kingdom, the Senate in Canada is an attempt to preserve the property owners’ say on legislation. It is why the hue and cry went up when it was found that Senator Mike Duffy had listed a holiday cottage in PEI as his permanent residence.

There is no fear of such chicanery today as an elitist committee advises the prime minister as to possible appointments. They are all thoroughly vetted ahead of the appointment.

What might be of more concern is what will happen to this Independent senator’s group (ISG) if the conservatives win the election in October. Observers think the ISG will split into at least three groups of independent elitists. Instead of referring to the Senate as ‘The other place,’ the MPs might just refer to it as ‘The Zoo.’

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Thinking of Election Week on a hot day.

Thursday, August 1st, 2019

Yes, it is the dog days of summer and nobody is really interested in politics. We understand that. It is not as though the old pros are stymied. They can always come up with a column. The other day, Susan Delacourt of the Toronto Star did the 34th column on Pierre Trudeau’s campaign in 1972 being like his son’s efforts in 2019. You really had to be there to know they were not similar at all.

I expect we are all getting impatient. Enough of the phony campaign folks, let’s get to it. We are eager for insults to be flung, new policies to be postulated, improbable promises to be made. Looking at the campaigns to-date, there has been little to move a vote or voter.

There has actually been more interest the past week in the claim that the election day should be moved to accommodate the Orthodox Jews who have a religious holiday on voting day. I can assure you, as someone who spent a career choosing dates for public events, there is no day in the year not already committed to some religion, some cause, some activity or just a day off because we need one that time of year.

Since I rarely vote on the actual date of an election, I have always thought we should have the voting for an Election Week. If you cannot find a few minutes to go and vote during an Election Week, there is no hope for you. Mind you, we should still have mailed votes, computer votes, proxy votes and any other type of voting to ensure that everyone has their say.

From the view of a campaign manager, life would also be easier. Getting out your vote would take a week but you could sure do a much better job. It used to be that you had to have almost a separate campaign organization for election day. It was an intense effort going from the start of voting in the morning until the polls closed at night and your people had to watch the counts.

As much as five or six days for getting out the vote would be much better than explaining to voters that ‘Yes, they can vote at an advance poll just because they felt like it.’

Election Week would not be as much fun, but it would be much easier to organize.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Making Canada(?) Great Again.

Tuesday, July 30th, 2019

It is not art. It is campaign literature and it always feels like a race to the lowest common denominator, free from the rules of grammar, where less is more and yet an essential part of the democratic process. After many years of producing better quality campaign literature for political candidates, I have gone out of the business. It never did pay. The problem has always been that the voter knows that most of this material is what we refer to as Consolidated Reports on Approved Propaganda or, known better by its acronym: CRAP.

A piece of this CRAP arrived through the mail the other day from the conservative candidate in my riding. Picked by conservative headquarters to be the party standard bearer in Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte, the gentleman sent me a two-sided, 22cm by 14cm, four-colour card. All it tells me for sure is that he is middle aged, Caucasian and overweight.

It helps that I already know that he has been on Barrie Council as a councillor and he has likely already exceeded his level of competence in that capacity. They have a four-year term on council these days. For him, they should shorten it. Much of what I have seen of him on council did not impress me.

But if we are stupid enough to elect him to replace the last four-year incumbent on the federal circuit, he tells us the he believes “in a strong, positive vision for Canada.” And “It’s time to put our country back on track.” The conservative hero, President Trump of the United States, said that in just four words.

On what must be the back of the card has his picture, without a tie (for the farmers among us). Here he says that he will stand up for us by;

  • Investing in community infrastructure—which the current government has been doing for some time.
  • Supporting our rural communities and farmers—Ever since the riding was gerrymandered to include a rural area, the Tories have been pandering to that vote.
  • Removing the GST from the home energy bill—Interesting only for the reason this is a provincial or municipal bill.
  • Restoring the Lake Simcoe Cleanup Fund—He should talk to the Ontario MPP from our riding before making this promise.

What I miss in this pap is a promise to support his conservative leader Chuckles Scheer. Is he too embarrassed?

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Why your vote matters.

Sunday, July 28th, 2019

One of the most specious arguments by people trying to promote proportional representation voting in government is that of the ‘wasted vote.’ They are suggesting that in first-past-the-post voting, if your candidate does not win election in the riding, your vote is wasted. They are also saying that if your vote is more than what is needed for your candidate to win, it is wasted.

The counter argument to this is that in a truly democratic election, no vote is wasted. When you see how people in countries around the world envy our democracy, it is hard to believe that some people do not bother to vote.

And what is truly wonderful about our system of voting is that we have the opportunity to vote for people. We do not have to vote just for a political party or some faceless person chosen by politicians who does not know us, our needs or our community. Our member of parliament can be one of us. We should always be the ones to choose who will represent us. Our representatives can speak for us in parliament. They can bring our ideas and our needs to the councils of government. Why would we ever want someone who is not from our area to represent us?

If I were to take issue with the recent study of voting systems done by our parliamentarians, I would first complain about who they used as expert witnesses. No matter how much study they have given to voting systems, political scientists are not experts. The real experts are the political volunteers in electoral districts who give freely and generously of their time to working on elections for their candidates. These people often work regularly on municipal, provincial and federal elections for many years. They know the ins and outs of attempts to cheat and defeat our electoral system. They know the strengths and weaknesses of our system of voting.

Some of these politically involved people have worked on elections in the United States, while others have had opportunities to study voting as official observers in emerging democracies that want their voting to be beyond reproach. I believe that Canadians have the least corrupted and most honest voting system in the world.

But we are a long way from perfect.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Bollocks to Bernier.

Saturday, July 27th, 2019

When a politician takes a stand that he knows is counter to a majority of voters, he must have a reason. This is the question we need to ask ourselves when we hear that Maxime Bernier and his new people’s party promoting a policy to drastically reduce Canada’s immigration and apply more rigorous rules as to eligibility to come here. Is Bernier just scratching an itch of right-wing conservatives or is he narrowing down his sights to just a breakthrough in Quebec?

Bernier obviously does not give a damn for the economic harm his suggestions would do to Canada as a whole. What he ignores is that every immigrant is a consumer. Every immigrant adds to our base of consumers. Every immigrant adds to our gross domestic product. Bernier wants to take that economic advantage away from us.

Bernier is playing to what is called ‘Dog Whistle’ politics. He is playing to ignorance. He uses buzz words that people hear but never really bother to understand. He uses studies by the Fraser Institute that is famous for hiring failed academics to provide pseudo statistics and reports to prove the institute’s right-wing bias.

The recent speech he gave to a small crowd of supporters in Mississauga, Ontario was guaranteed to gain him publicity. It is hard to ignore an anti-immigration speech in a city built by immigrants and flourishing with immigration.

While Bernier sees his efforts as a slice of the Donald Trump type populism, it is not getting the attention he needs to build his movement. The real cruelty of his immigration policies is his attitude towards family re-unification. He wants to end Canada’s time-honoured willingness to allow immigrants to bring parents and grandparents to Canada once the new Canadian has established here.

We can probably expect him to soon demand a wall be built along the Canada-U.S. border to keep out the migrants. You can say a lot of things about Maxime Bernier but Donald Trump, he is not.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

The Grand Scheme and the Ocean Drift.

Friday, July 26th, 2019

At this time of the phony election that precedes the real election, we are not really concerned about where pollsters think people are at but where they are headed. It is more of an oceanic drift than a positive direction but some of the flotsam will make it and some will not.

My thinking on this was started by someone who was puzzled by what Warren Kinsella was doing. What he asked was “is Warren working for the conservatives or is he working for Elizabeth May’s greens?

I can understand the confusion, but the only answer he got from me was a shrug. The answer is probably hidden somewhere in the Law of the Sea. It is in the difference between Flotsam and Jetsam. ‘Flotsam’ is what fell overboard inadvertently. ‘Jetsam’ is what you threw overboard intentionally. A simple way to think of it is Jane Philpott in Ontario is liberal Flotsam. Jody Wilson-Raybould in B.C. is Jetsam.

Political parties do not make a standard practice of throwing away their supporters. And all parties consider this voter flotsam at this time as fair game. Where it is taken by the ocean drifts can win or lose an election. And, since the liberals have been careless about losing some voters, I would expect that a goodly share of the current voting flotsam are people who would typically vote liberal.

Now, if I was a canny conservative strategist, I would find someone who could capture the attention of disgruntled liberals and I would arrange for this person to work for the greens. The thing is, liberals tend to listen to fellow liberals first. And a lot of this liberal flotsam are wondering for whom they might vote. They mostly hate conservatives and have little use for NDPers.

But many liberal-thinking voters tend to be sympathetic of the greens. They have no reason to hate them and they consider them more useful than NDPers. And the point is that if they vote green, they will not be returning to the liberal fold.

So, if you were a conservative, in a country that still has first-past-the-post voting, you would be quite happy to see that liberal flotsam vote for the greens. It will help elect more conservatives.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Showing the Scheer Sneer.

Wednesday, July 24th, 2019

Since Andrew Scheer was made clerk of the House of Commons by Stephen Harper’s conservatives, it has been impossible to find common ground between the two of us. And it was when he was chosen leader of the conservatives, I knew we would never be friends. The guy is such a nerd. I had to find some friendly name for him (as I did in referring to Stephen Harper as ‘The Hair’—it made him seem human) and the best I could come up with was ‘Chuckles.’

But it was not until Chuckles spoke to the Dairy Farmers of Canada at their annual meeting in Saskatoon last week that I realized he and I had something in common. Chuckles told the farmers flat out that he did not agree with the Canadian food guide issued back in January. He gave the guide the Scheer Sneer.

I want you to know that I share Canadians’ concern about the guide. For years it has been veering away from my meat and potatoes diet and promoting things like broccoli. Hostesses have been known to lie to their children about what the doctors allow me to eat. You would not believe the number of kids who have begged me to have my doctor tell mom that they should not be forced to eat brussels sprouts.

Mind you, you have to admit that the same government people at Health Canada have been doing some serious good in getting us to change our diets. The statement printed on labelling today can easily convince people. I was in shock when I saw how much sodium was in my (no longer) favourite frozen French onion soup.

There is little question that these efforts by Health Canada to get us to eat properly are starting to work. They have actually got me checking for fibre content and enjoying that green salad.

But obviously Chuckles is beyond redemption. Or, more obviously, he was pandering to the dairy farmers’ concern for their sales. We should make sure that he does not, by some accident, get into a position to interfere in the way of Health Canada doing its job.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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