Archive for the ‘New’ Category

Bernier’s bonus: “No more political correctness.”

Thursday, November 15th, 2018

As MP Maxime Bernier continues to build his new party of the far right, he is finding easy hunting in Alberta. The MP from Beauce claims some 30,000 memberships sold to-date and Bernier remains quite confident. The former conservative’s People’s Party of Canada (PPC) is reported to be up and running in eight out of ten Calgary electoral districts.

The political theories that Bernier is espousing are those of a libertarian. He is ultra conservative and preaches a cant of small government and low taxes. He is the same as French President Macron described the other day as a nationalist—the opposite of a patriot. He takes a stand against those who are different. He is opposed to immigration and against foreign aid. Bernier is your basic bigot.

But nobody denies that there is support for a party such as he proposes. He had a good crowd in Vancouver the night before and then again in Calgary the next day. At this stage, he is a novelty but given the funding needed, he could be a force next October. The very fact that he is out looking for acolytes so early, tells us that he is confident of his funding. He will be a thorn for Andrew Scheer and the conservatives.

The novelty for Canadians next year will be having a party supporting the freeing up of restrictions on fire arms. Bernier wants to take us back in time. It will be a strong selling point in the west and in rural Ontario. His biggest problem will be the negatives he will encounter to his wild-west approach in his home province of Quebec.

But people will find that Bernier is most unlike populists such as Doug Ford or Donald Trump. It is hard to stump Bernier with a question. He is an experienced politician. He fully understands the challenges facing him between now and next October.

But, at the same time, Bernier is recognizing the anger and frustration of voters who resent the open liberalism of Canadian society. The very fact that his audiences are mainly male and misogynist tells us where Bernier’s strength might be. Most political pundits are being cautious in assessing Bernier’s chances next year. Given a foothold as a party in the Commons, he could be far more of a problem.

We really do live in interesting times.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Underlining the ignorance of Trump.

Wednesday, November 14th, 2018

U.S. President Donald Trump is but an immature child playing at being the leader of the most powerful nation on earth. The point was so perfectly positioned the other day for all to understand by French President Emmanuel Macron. Vive la France!

It is when as a tourist you stand under the majesty of the Arc de Triomphe, trying to blot out the incessant horns of vehicles caught in the endless route of that traffic circle, that you understand the pride of the French. Macron was destined to say what he did in that setting.

The president named no names but listeners, including Donald Trump, could only add his name to each indictment. Macron told the world leaders in attendance that “patriotism is exactly the opposite of nationalism.” It was his belief that the millions killed in War I fought against the selfishness of nations fighting only in their own interest.

Macron denounced nations who stepped away from their treaties. He denounced those who put their own interests first. He believes it is their moral values that nations are denying in this way.

Mind you, after listening to Trump’s diatribes for the Deplorables during his run-up to the mid-term elections, you would assume those Americans had no moral values anyway. And the mixed results of those elections lead you to question both the common sense of the voters and the morals of the elected.

In an interesting follow-through to the French president’s speech, Canada’s Justin Trudeau took part in a peace forum where he put in a strong defence for the news media in their independent role of defending society’s institutions. He said that attacking the news media only fuels the cynicism that citizens have to all institutions that are there to protect us as citizens.

The world leaders had gathered in Paris to mark the 100 years since the armistice that ended World War I, also known as the Great War and as the War to End All Wars—it did not.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

“Wasn’t That a Party?”

Monday, November 12th, 2018

The Rovers got it wrong when they wrote a song about the party. It was certainly not the whiskey or the gin that is doing in the liberal party. It was the desperation for leadership. And Trudeau is a magic name to Canadian liberals. At a time when people are questioning the viability of political parties, they reached back into the party’s past.

But Justin Trudeau is not his father and he marches to a different drummer. He was playing the right tunes on his flute to impress the party’s urges for reform. He promised to restore the party’s right to selecting its candidates—and then, inconveniently, forgot.

And he thinks it should be a BYOB party. He got the party to give up the standard $10 memberships. He wanted lots more than that. He added people to the party lists for free, called them liberals and inundates the old and the new with e-mails for funds.

Justin Trudeau does not understand the functioning of a political party. What he failed to do was build the party in the electoral districts. He failed to understand the superior strength of the conservatives in the ground game. My district liberal association is meeting for the first time in two years later today and he expects them to mount a strong campaign next year?

But they have been left with nothing to do for the past two years. The national conventions have been for the party elite and its apparatchiks. The policy discussion has been cursory and carefully controlled. After conventions, policy is filed and forgotten, despite the right intentions. Nobody seems to be complaining about what Justin Trudeau is doing to their party. It is no longer the party it used to be.

We used to have regular meetings and events in the districts, in provincial regions and in the provinces. We used to meet to discuss policy, party structure and constitution. And we used to send experts out to the districts to inform them of the latest thinking on party communications and campaigning techniques. And more than 90 per cent of the work was done by volunteers.

As Pierre Trudeau found out in his second election campaign, the voters are fickle. In the general election of 1972, Pierre Trudeau won a slim majority of only two seats in the House of Commons. We shall see how Justin does next year.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

In the grip of the political vortex.

Sunday, November 11th, 2018

Friends, foes and the pubic ask: “What the fuck is going on?”

The answer is that nobody really knows. Did you see the polls before the American mid-term elections? You got a lot of words but no answers. The pollsters knew that they had no answers. For years this politico has been producing a morning line that was noted for its accuracy in forecasting results. Not any more. My ability to forecast has disappeared into that vortex.

And it is a vortex. It is a vicious maelstrom, a state of constant confusion, a whirlpool sucking us into its oblivion. Politics has reached its own end of days. It is its time of self destruction. It turns into itself and eats its young. It has become perpetual confusion.

It staggers this apparatchik how the tables have turned. There are no rules of the political road left to ignore. What started out years ago as simply political manipulation has turned into deplorable duplicity. Where people used to just be annoyed at the unkept promises and self aggrandizement of politicians has become a palpable hatred.

The last provincial election in Ontario saw the destruction of a party whose leader quit rather than lead her party into oblivion. Instead of fighting it out to what could have been the obvious end, she cut her party adrift to the vicissitudes of a sea of angry and now confused voters.

Mind you, we used to say that nobody trusts politicians and not mean it. Now, we mean it. Nor do people trust the elites. They are losing confidence in the social safety nets and they are looking askance at the dog-eat-dog politics of today. Trust is gone. The one per cent are out for themselves and you can see the evidence to prove it.

Never, since the world-wide depression of the 1930s, have people been so distrustful. They are grasping at political demigods for surety they know does not exist. They are looking aghast at the money spend on political campaigns and are wary of the politicians and their backers.

And the Tammany Halls of politics stopped looking after their devotees years ago. If your parents were conservatives are you joining the party? And why would you even trust a political party?

There is more on this subject to come.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Clement’s calamity?

Saturday, November 10th, 2018

It is so easy when you never liked someone to get a little lift from their downfall. It is always best to leave subjects such as this without comment, as the person is gone and will soon be forgotten.

But that used to be the supposition BBB (Before Brampton Brown). Some people are hard to lose. After watching Brown for years in Barrie, why would I be surprised when the wily little putz pulled a fast one in Brampton.

But Tony Clement might have been slipperier than Brown, if he had devoted his lifetime to political manipulation. And who would believe that he might get it off by sending pictures of his genitalia, in full regalia(?) to ladies who might not be from Australia?

I used to think of politician Tony Clement as Ontario’s gift to Stephen Harper. He had apprenticed the fine art of screwing the taxpayers under Ontario’s premiers Mike Harris and Ernie Eaves.

He was the most famous though for his largess in building washrooms and other infrastructure in Huntsville in honour of the G8 in 2010. He spent $50 million of monies that had been earmarked for our border security in a town more than 300 kilometres from the U.S. border.

He did not find money as easy to come by when he tried for the federal conservative leadership after Harper resigned.  He quit the race and left behind the pitiful 13.

Stephen Harper had used Clement to turn the tables and block spending from 2011 to 2015. What was happening was that departments such as Veteran’s Affaires had been allocated funds to help veterans. When voters asked about this, conservative MPs just said that the money had been allocated and everything was fine. What they might not have clued in on was that, as president of the treasury board, Clement could stop the funds from being passed to the department.

One of the most reprehensible of Clement’s restraint of funds was the money allocated for training and supplying the RCMP with carbines to supplement their revolvers. The money came so slowly to the field that Mounted Police personnel were being killed because they did not have adequate fire power against longer range and automatic weapons. (It is only on television programs where pistols win such gun fights.)

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Is it the HOW or the WHO?

Friday, November 9th, 2018

If the citizens of British Columbia are formally debating their referendum on voting systems, there is one resolution that needs to be debated. The question is “Be it resolved that it is more important to ensure you have the right people to elect than to worry about the mechanics for electing them.” I would like to debate for the positive.

At a time when fewer eligible voters are going to the polls, in North America, it might be wrong to suggest that it is the voting systems that present the problem.

Going back in history, we could look at what happened in the Weimar Republic in 1932. Hitler and the Brown Shirts gained control of the Reichstag with 33 per cent of the votes under a proportional voting system. That was the last free vote in Germany until after the Second World War. Does it seem fair to blame the voting system?

Is it not also a stretch to suggest that First-Past-the-Post (FPTP) has visited deceit, duplicity, corruption and decay on our wonderful country? It would seem we are using rhetoric instead of logic. People might to do that no matter how they get elected. It is far more likely that our safety net is the control we exercise over the political parties.

And we can control those parties best under a system that allows us to select the people running for election—call it a primary or nomination meeting—it is an opportunity for citizens to examine the qualifications of proposed candidates and make a selection. And citizens should also take part in the development of party policies. To allow a leader to just wing it with his promises through the election process, as has happened in the U.S.A. two years ago and more recently in Ontario, is risky.

If you believe in strong governments that can get the job done, I worry about strong governments that you do not know what they will do next.

To those of you who think you can solve the problem by never electing a majority government. I wish you were right.

Over the years, it has been said many times that the voters get the government that they deserve. It has also been said, more than once, that they did not deserve what they got.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

The Hordes are in the House.

Thursday, November 8th, 2018

Donald Trump can stop worrying about the hordes heading north in Mexico. They served their purpose during the run-up to the mid-terms. They gave him a target for his bigotry. And it worked for him. It brought out a streak of meanness and uncaring in Americans.

But the mid-term elections also left President Trump with a divided Congress. With no ability to finesse, he is now reliant on others to get his agenda—such as it is—through Congress.

But do not assume this will leave Trump a lame duck president for the next two years. The person who controls the White House can cause a lot of trouble. Pity the soldiers camped on the Mexican border. Pity the news media condemned to reading those maniacal tweets from Trump.

What everyone will be waiting for in the next two years is the sorting out of the leadership of the Democratic Party. This is a party that needs to restore the honour in being liberal. It is a party that has to recast a reform agenda that people can understand. And the party has to lead, not follow.

And a refreshed, renewed and reformed Democratic Party has to defeat Trump’s lies with truth. It is critical that America restore its credibility with the rest of the world. Americans have to be sold on the need to look outward at a complex and concerned world.

And, given the opportunity, they might want to help save that world from global warming. By all of us doing the bit that we can, we can save our world.

It is really too bad that Donald Trump became president of the United States at a time when traditional news media are in decline. Trump is a liar and perpetual prevaricator and this is a problem that needs continual analysis and denial. To give him any freedom because of a weakened news media is license to prevaricate and confuse the deplorables and create serious problems for America and the world.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Why should I apologize to Justin Trudeau?

Wednesday, November 7th, 2018

It was disconcerting the other day to have some readers complain about my insulting prime minister Trudeau. I casually ended a commentary by saying that nobody complains about our prime minister being too smart. Hell, neither one of us is riding that high on the IQ bell curve. And I can honestly state that, to my knowledge, nobody complains about him being too smart.

But what worries me is that I do not think he even likes people who are politically smart. Frankly, I find him elitist. He grew up to wealth and privilege and tends to choose that type of friends. If his father were here, he would be mortified.

He might use some politically savvy people in his cabinet but the smartest politician in the cabinet is Ralph Goodale, the right-wing minister of public safety from Regina. There are no real reformers.

But my criticism of our prime minister does not mean that I might not vote for the liberal candidate in my electoral district. Providing the person is selected by the liberals in the district, I might even see how I can help him or her get elected. I would not give you two cents for the current conservative dolt and I am not very likely to vote for a new democrat or green candidate unless it was a truly exceptional individual.

The problem is that I have been a liberal for the past 60 years and while the party has wandered away from my ideals occasionally, I support the liberal principles of individual rights and social reform.

But there is always hope. I had hopes for Stéphane Dion, but Stéphane was not his father either. His awkward English kept his intelligence from getting through to anglophone voters. Maybe the reverse was true for Michael Ignatief as liberal leader but I think he really had been out of the country much too long.

It was the growing frustration with the Harper years in Ottawa that led us to turn to the young Trudeau. Liberals were ready to forgive a lot to rid us of what Harper was doing to the country.

But it is still frustrating and I am tiring of listing Trudeau’s acts of bad judgement. His leadership is questionable. His liberalism is weak. And I resent his casual destruction of the liberal party.

But Trudeau is still ten times better than the other choices.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Our friends in B.C have been ‘RUP’ted.

Monday, November 5th, 2018

Not being from the Wet coast as our friends there sometimes call their beautiful province, we had to get our information about the current British Columbia voting referendum from the Internet. It made sense until we found out that one of the possible voting systems was called RUP.

This was quite intriguing until I found out that it means Rural-Urban Proportional. It separates the rural mice from the town mice and lets them vote in different ways to come up with what might be a proportional legislature. The devil is in the details though and I found they were inflicting Single Transferable Voting (STV) on the townies while the farmers get to use the also confusing Mixed Member Proportional (MMP). It struck me as something like a game of snakes and ladders. The townies get to climb the ladders and the farmers slide down the snakes.

But the web site never explained the logic behind this screwball idea of using two systems at one time. Why? And, what was most disturbing, was that all the really important decisions about how it would work were to be made by the legislature after the referendum.

Looking at MMP was old home week for a guy who helped defeat that ridiculous idea in Ontario 11 years ago. MMP still puts people in the legislature for whom nobody voted. And the type of list system to be used is to be decided by the legislature?

Dual Member Proportional (DMP) voting is an interesting version of how we elected two-member aldermanic wards in Toronto in the last century. The only difference was that we did not list the parties. Thinking back to all the strategies that were used to cheat that system, it was a good thing it was discontinued.

All of these systems, other than first-past-the-post (FPTP), use lists or a party-selected order of preference. All, other than FPTP, use complicated mathematics to determine the winners. What is most disturbing is that these proportional systems take away the voters right to not only vote for but to help choose the people for whom they can vote. It denies the voters rights that we have had since confederation to help choose our candidates.

I believe that Canadians in B.C. should think long and hard about who would benefit before they start giving up these rights.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

It started with Kennedy and Nixon.

Sunday, November 4th, 2018

As a Canadian, I had no dog chasing a rabbit in the race but it has impacted my attitude about politics for the rest of my life. Being there in 1960 to watch the first ever television debate between presidential candidates John Kennedy and Richard Nixon was not just a casual event. We were watching a permanent change in how North American elections were conducted.

What is very important about these debates is to consider that, while they rarely solve anything, they do help set the stage. They often highlight opportunities gained and lost. For example: Two years ago, Hillary Clinton might have gained some ground if she had stopped Trump from upstaging her by telling him to get back in his cage.

The next such debate we will be seeing will be the single leadership debate that is to be arranged for the Canadian 2019 federal election. In his usual elitist style, Trudeau has appointed former Governor General David Johnston to make all the arrangements. With his only experience in this field as an emcee of a couple such debates, the vice-regal Johnson might have bitten off more than he can chew.

It will be particularly interesting to see how he gets along with the television networks to ensure that there is as wide an audience as possible for a debate in each official language.

The first problem Johnston faces is that everyone goes into these events with entirely different objectives. He will want the television people to give up the revenue from the most lucrative time of their day. If he would just settle for 3 am on a Sunday morning, he would have as much time as he wanted.

But his most serious problem is that political parties are, as the words imply, political. They are always looking for ways to have a political advantage. That is not Johnston’s strong suit. If it looks like he is getting his advice from the guy who appointed him to this job, he is going to find what it is like to be vilified.

Frankly, Trudeau would have been far smarter to meet with ‘Chuckles’ Scheer, Elizabeth May and a representative from the NDP and appoint someone whom they also trust.

But then, we have never heard anyone complain that Mr. Trudeau is too smart.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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