Archive for the ‘Federal Politics’ Category

In the leadership wilderness.

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2021

Canada’s major political parties have a leadership problem. We have to face facts folks: Trudeau of the not-a-party liberals is a hypocrite; O’Toole of the mainly western conservatives cannot get his party to back him; and Singh of the new democrats is taking his party nowhere. None of these three is the right answer to rebuilding our economy after the pandemic. Canadians do not seem to like them or trust them.

Prime minister Justin Trudeau obviously learned nothing about leadership from his famous father. And how he thinks he can talk the environmentalist talk while building a second pipeline for highly polluting bitumen across the Rockies, is an affront to every conscientious Canadian.

And to make matters worse, he is destroying the liberal party in Canada. He uses the so-called supporters on the liberal list as a convenient ATM to fund operations, totally centered on and controlled by his prime minister’s office (PMO). He uses elitist methods to make bad choices for appointments to the governor general and lieutenant governor positions, the senate, government agencies, commissions and the judiciary. And you can only hope that he has finished making badly thought-through decisions.

The conservatives have a different problem in that they are not in the least interested in going where their current leader thinks they should go. He wants to convince people that a conservative government would be a reasonable one, taking a middle of the road position. He even thinks the conservatives should embrace carbon taxes and environmentalism. Fat chance of that after his letdown by the virtual conservative convention last weekend.

With three provincial governments hoping for a ruling from the supreme court this week on the provinces claim that Ottawa did not have the authority to put in a carbon tax, his timing was terrible. While many think the court will rule against the provinces, stranger things have happened.

I would tell you about the two other party leaders but I do not know very much about them. And that is the same for most Canadians.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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Not your father’s Tories.

Saturday, March 20th, 2021

This has probably been said before but it bears repeating. I used to know conservatives that I liked. Not that I would ever vote conservative but these were actually likeable people. I lived next door to a member of the provincial conservative cabinet. He was a good neighbour. I always had a chuckle with conservative premier Bill Davis when we had a chance to chat.

This changed. Brian Mulroney was just not as forthright as I expected. In my humble opinion, I found Ontario premier Mike Harris to be a stupid person. Why did I expect the more astute people in his conservative caucus to tell him how ill-considered some of his actions might have been and so harmful to Ontario residents?

I could tell you that Donald Trump was the most destructive right-wing politician of the 21st Century. You would like to think that nobody could top Trump. And maybe we should leave a window open for Jason Kenney in Alberta to claim the prize. We know he is a misogynist but he seems to hate women and everybody else. I am just glad I live in Ontario and only have to live with our hapless premier Doug Ford.

But provincial or federal these days, the Tories are electing some of the meanest, uncaring and unsuited members of both the federal parliament and provincial legislatures.

The federal Tories deserve the incompetent Erin O’Toole as leader. He fits so well with an incompetent caucus. From O’Toole to his deputy leader on down, they are a mean, uncaring bunch who only seem to want to use their elected offices for personal gain.

I hardly think the two former councillors from my local city council are missed as they pretend to be serving their constituents in Ottawa. The worst embarrassment here in Barrie is the Attorney General of Ontario—a carpetbagger from Severn whose main interest seems to be in raising funds for the next election. He might be in for a surprise in that election.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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Thieves, Scoundrels and other Telecoms.

Friday, March 19th, 2021

Canadians will have every right to be angry at the neo-liberalism of Justin Trudeau and the failure of regulatory agencies such as the Canadian Radio, Telecommunications and Television Commission (CRTC). The planned takeover of Shaw Communications by fellow telecom Rogers has to be stopped. Without more, not less, competition by Canada’s telecoms, we will be at the mercy of the rapacious rates of the few.

Canadians already pay the highest rates of any developed country for their telephones, television and Internet services. Why should any government agency or understanding member of parliament condone this limitation of services to Canadians along with the price gouging they already suffer?

It is not as though the Shaw family had not already cashed out a substantial amount of their holdings. They had sold off Corus Entertainment, that controls the Global Television Network, along with a variety of specialty channels, available on cable service across the country. That was the first half billion dollars realized by the family.

They should get better tax advice than to add another couple billion dollars to their loot so soon. I would sure hate to have their amount of taxes to pay. While it is hard to imagine the debt load that Shaw Communications would carry, the family should find a better way to take out their money and, at least, consider a non-competitive purchaser.

Rogers probably figures the company has a lot of leverage with the liberal government to get this through. Yet it is liberals across Canada who work to get those MPs elected. They are the people who are being ripped off on the cost of telephone, television and Internet services. These are the people who will be urging their MPs to turn thumbs down on the Rogers takeover.

This is not the United States where politicians are practically traded on a pseudo stock market to do business’ bidding. Business has to recognize the concerns of consumers. They are not to be ignored.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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Write Big or Go Home.

Wednesday, March 17th, 2021

If you expect a federal budget in the April timeframe, you might be guessing right. There are still arguments against it but the scenario is an April budget and a May call for the election that will be held in June. Finance minister Freeland has a serious task to deliver that budget. Much hangs on it.

And the budget has to be reasonable, doable and responsible. It has to present an open and exciting era of opportunity for all Canadians. It needs to build better and ensure a stronger economy in the outcomes. It has to reflect on what she has heard from Canadians from former Bank of Canada governor and former Bank of England governor Mark Carney to the man-on-the-street.

Chrystia Freeland has to consider infrastructure needs and opportunities. She has opportunities for public-private partnerships. She can borrow at low rates and pay back in inflated dollars. She can expand upon the current Ontario plan to electrify the commuter trains bringing people into the Golden Horseshoe by launching of high-speed rail in Canada in, at least, the Quebec City and Ottawa to Windsor corridor.

She has to recognize that her budget will have to survive the sniffs of the conservatives, the venom of the new democrats, the Holier-than-thou derision of the Greens and the scatological comments of the Bloc. And she will need support from the man-on-the-street to survive the attacks.

She knows this is no ordinary budget. The continued reign of the Trudeau liberals depends on her. Her conundrum is that her continued success is tied to Trudeau. Adrift in a sea of conservative blue is no place for an aspiring new liberal leader.

And I have one final word of advice for Chrystia Freeland. I expect you will have a fairly extensive budget proposal to put before Canadians but if you, even once, use the words ‘middle-class Canadians,’ they will turn on you like wolves enjoying their dinner. Those words will label you for all time to be a political hack. You will lose credibility. Be honest with yourself and Canadians.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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The drag of the monarchy.

Tuesday, March 16th, 2021

Along with most Canadians, I try to ignore the monarchy. It is ersatz, immaterial and irrelevant to our lives. The only problem is that the monarchy is locked into a constitutional structure that defies change. It was planned to be almost impossible to change.

The small-minded Fathers of Confederation were trying to lock us in to their perception of the future. And, of course, they were wrong. These men (note that there were no women involved and no aboriginals) were lucky that there where a few who could see the road ahead. The promise of a railroad linking the country was a promise that had to be fulfilled.

They built a country of promise. Each successive generation adds its roads, infrastructure, buildings and homes. It also adds people. The promise of Canada is a safety valve for the world’s turmoil. We have become a country of racial mix far in excess of the awareness of the founders. We have become a country of languages, far from the basics of French and English.

But we are also a country without a past. The monarchy holds no mirror to us. I weep for the indignities we pile on the mindless grave of Sir John A. Macdonald. A man who should be honoured for his foresight sleeps to eternity under the weeds of the family plot.

Canada needs a future. If it is with a pseudo monarchy, so be it. It has to be the people who make the decision. We need a constitutional congress. We need to elect two or more people for every parliamentary electoral district. They should meet in conclave to discuss, resolve, plan and present Canada with a future. It could take them a year or more. It will not be an easy task.

For all its vast lands and spread of peoples, we are a complex society. Our aboriginals deserve a seat at the table. The French language is important to us, as is English and the languages of our ancestors.

Let us discuss in public. Let us listen to Canadians. Let us imagine a country. And then let the people decide.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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Let’s not give up hope on humanity.

Monday, March 15th, 2021

If there is no hope for humanity, what do we do? Hold hands and jump from the nearest cliff? There is no question that the scientists are scared. They are not as worried about the creatures of the land, sea and air as they are about the fate of mankind. We are lemmings headed for the cliffs. We are fools believing in a future. Without hope, we vote for populists. We take out our anger on each other.

But—and this is a serious ‘but.’ One of the truths I have found, in the past 60-some years, is that the impetus for change in any organization has to come from within.

When I wanted change in my community, I formed a ratepayers’ organization. When I wanted change beyond that, I joined a political party. And when I was saddened by the efforts of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, I joined the board and made the necessary changes as president.

Nobody changes the Catholic Church from the outside but the current Pope is doing it from the inside. May God smile on him and Allah be pleased with his recent visit to Iran. This Pope’s changes are not all that visible yet, but he could be unleashing a tidal wave.

And, despite all my pessimism for the current state of politics in Canada, I am still a liberal. Since the inconsequential years of the Chrétien liberals, that has been difficult to say.

It was when I moved to Barrie, Ontario in the early 2000s that I realized, unless I did something, there was no hope for change or reform. Small town Ontario is rooted in the conservative past. The liberals here are more conservative than the local conservatives. Unless you can find a lever with the liberals, they were going to stay that way.  You have to find a way to change.

I had little more than my writing. I spent the first year of this blog experimenting. It took me time to find the right length of comment, the style and the stick with which to poke the beast. I will continue to try.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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In the twilight of the Firm.

Friday, March 12th, 2021

It played for shock. It was Oprah Winfrey practically salivating at the opportunity to condemn the Brit royals for racism. She was trying to get the one-time duchess Meghan to say it. It was the lowest point in that overly long and trite interview with Meghan and Harry last Sunday.

The British monarchy can never compete with Hollywood. Oprah Winfrey and CBS had the Brits by the short hairs. The palace should not have tried to pit its Commonwealth show against Oprah. The Commonwealth had lost before the weak effort from London made it to Commonwealth airwaves. The former British colonies and protectorates were all watching Oprah.

It was another stone on the tomb of the monarchy. Canadians learn about the monarchy at a young age. We would be bussed to some point along a prescribed route to wave our little Union Jacks at a fleeting moment of a limousine with this or that royal flashing by. It was doubtful that the message got through to us that these people were better than us and we should show proper respect.

The modern approach is a one-time duchess whining about not being protected from the news media tramping her rose garden and waking her son from his afternoon nap. It would have come across better if she was not wearing a designer dress and five-inch stiletto heels.

It was just too bad that these people, because of their birth or marrying up, do not have the opportunities of us lower classes. It is only when you think of the tourist dollars flowing into the United Kingdom that you can see the value of that monarchy.

But Canada has no need for the farce. The monarchy is a drag from a long-gone era. It is nothing but a sham. It deals with the past, not the future. Canada is a faux constitutional monarchy, on the cheap.

We will never rid ourselves of this farce under any of our present political leaders. They are all too busy fighting each other for position to take a risky constitutional stance, that would just create more conflict with the provinces.

All we can do is to continue to point out the ridiculousness of our current position. We call it a constitutional monarchy—without a crown. We encourage the elitism of the senate, the failure of our political parties to innovate and the toadying of the news media. We are living on a bubble of bull shit.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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Can I change my mind?

Tuesday, March 9th, 2021

Recently I have been thinking October for the election that Trudeau wants. That could be wrong. The problem is that I was basing my thinking on the end of the pandemic. I realize that there will be a time when people want to go out and make love in the sun and then there will also be a theoretical end to the pandemic. I am beginning to realize that both can happen in June.

I am not totally in sync with this but Justin needs to pull the plug in May for a late June election. I am not saying that the pandemic will not carry on for a while but Canadians will try to forget it. We have places to go, parties to attend, people to hug. An election can also be something of a celebration.

If we leave the election for October, it could be risky. And it’s not just the risk of getting your ass sunburnt. There are going to be other regrets. The realization of the deaths will have set in. We should also worry about the small businesses Canada has lost to the lock-downs of the pandemic. These businesses are often critical to support tourism. We hardly want to spend the summer regretting actions taken during the pandemic.

And we hardly want those cheap conservatives to have time to hammer home the real costs of the pandemic. In a long summer, people could become more aware of the collapse of the new democrats—which is bad for Justin’s liberals.

It’s the reverse for the Bloc Québécois. They have to be seen as losers. A strong Bloc is bad for liberals in Quebec. Elections can be complicated.

Trudeau might not be much of a leader but he brought us through the pandemic. He got us the vaccines. He made a strong case for himself as a leader popping in and out the front door of Rideau Cottage. He might have overdone it but he is still getting credit for it.

I think he also needs to be the leader who will welcome back the full parliament in the temporary house on the hill in Ottawa. Those Zoom parliaments were confusing and unimpressive. He also needs the time on the hustings to get Canadians to looking forward again. He will fail if he gives them time to reflect on the past.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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“Ottawa, we have a problem.”

Sunday, March 7th, 2021

The other day, we got a good laugh from a Susan Delacourt column in the Toronto Star. She was comparing former federal liberal leader Michael Ignatieff to conservative leader Erin O’Toole. I could never imagine two guys so different.

I first met Michael when he was in his early 20s and was curious about the political scene. He had been working with the Globe and Mail while getting an undergraduate degree at the University of Toronto. I admired his intellect and curiosity and gave him a free pass into many liberal party meetings. And maybe part of it was knowing that his father George Ignatieff had been a good friend of the previous liberal prime minister Lester Pearson.

It was almost 40 years later that the highly regarded professor Michael Ignatieff returned to Toronto. He was already leader of the liberal party when he and I met again at a garden party before his first and only general election attempt as party leader.

We managed to piss off a sizeable number of our fellow liberals as Michael and I stood off in a corner of the garden deep in conversation. It was a conversation that I reported to nobody at the time. It included the realization that Michael was way out of his depth in the party leadership. At that stage, I could hardly advise him to run for the nearest exit.

But to compare liberal Michael Ignatieff to conservative Erin O’Toole is a mistake of large proportion. Michael was a tool for power by some liberals who were using him. O’Toole drove his own manure spreader through the two conservative leadership campaigns it took for him to win. Ignatieff is a liberal intellectual, who temporarily replaced another liberal intellectual Stéphane Dion. O’Toole is a conservative ideologue with visions of power who replaced another conservative ideologue, ‘Chuckles’ Scheer.

The only way that Ignatieff and O’Toole are similar is that neither understands the demands of political leadership.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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Being ‘Just Erin’ won’t cut it.

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2021

It seems that conservative leader Erin O’Toole is not just an unknown to Canadian taxpayers. His own caucus in Ottawa is just as much in the dark as are the voters. The conservative MPs are puzzled as to where he intends to lead their party.

Some of the more reliable reporters in Ottawa are starting to ask questions. And if the conservative party is going to start running pre-election ads on television saying he is ‘Just Erin,’ they might just dig a deeper hole than they are already in.

The conservative caucus is already in a pandemic slump. And all they are getting, after six months of their new leader, is confused messages. It seems that O’Toole used the extreme right wing of the right-wing party to win the leadership. Since then, he has tried to sell himself as more of a ‘middle of the road’ kind of guy.

A middle-of-the-road kind of guy is someone without a clue where he is headed.

The worst surprise the caucus had to absorb was the demotion of Pierre Poilievre from finance critic. Pierre had proved himself a pit bull in the position. His replacement is more the grandfatherly type. What that is communicating to voters remains to be seen.

But ‘Just Erin’ might reveal all at the upcoming virtual convention of the party on policy. This is scheduled for March and the party’s extremists on the right have been quietly snapping up the invites. Not knowing how the event is to work, or not work, as the case might be, there is no telling what will happen when everybody virtually meets.

When conservative MPs have a chance to get together in Ottawa, there seems to be a lot of quiet conversations about what they can do to save their seats in parliament. Mind you that does not include the boys and girls from Alberta and Saskatchewan who are practically guaranteed to return.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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