Archive for the ‘New’ Category

Pot is coming. Pot is coming.

Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

How come the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation gets the best media leaks? We have been informed by the People’s Network that we will be able to celebrate Canada Day 2018 with legal marijuana from sea to sea to sea. Wow!

The plans—skillfully guided for the federal Liberals by former Toronto police chief Bill Blair—are to split the profits with the provinces. The feds will regulate the growers and set the standards while the provinces will get to run the retail end of things.

Mind you this loyal Canadian will have to give a pass on Canada Day festivities next year—who needs to get stoned on second-hand smoke?

What puzzles us though is how the feds are going to restrict households to just four plants for home consumption? Drones can check our backyard endeavours but hydroponics are harder to track.

The one person as yet unheard from on this subject is M.P. Bill Blair. The Scarborough Liberal has not been very forthcoming. He was always willing to sound off for the media back when his police were terrorizing Torontonians at events such as the G-20 in Toronto in 2010.

The one thing we are sure of though is that we are hardly going to have a Colorado-type sales approach in any of our provinces. The anal-retentive Ontario Liberals are expected to keep sales in-house at the Liquor Control Board of Ontario stores and licensees. What might change their mind is the medical advice that the combination of pot and booze produces a really dumb drunk. The alternative might be to give the franchise to their friends the Weston family who now own Shoppers Drug Marts.

Quebec will, of course, try to be more avant garde. Saskatchewan will look down their premier’s nose at the whole business but take the money. Which pretty well covers it for the rest of the country.

It is not as though we need marijuana for recreational use. It will be good to see it removed from police restrictions. We can expect a difficult time of adjustment.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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Budgets and other eulogies.

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

Seeing finance minister Bill Morneau finally get to his budget last week produced a measure of disappointment and nostalgia. He brought back distant memories of the clean-cut young Anglican priest who came to our grade six class at Rosedale Public School in Toronto to try to entice us wayward kids back to Sunday School. The problem with that priest and with Bill Morneau is that you have heard all that B.S. before.

Can you imagine a budget in this day and age that makes a big deal of increases in the sin taxes on alcohol and cigarettes? Can you imagine a budget talking about innovation and innovates nothing? It was a sad occasion for Canadians.

On Vassy Kapelos’ West Block show on Sunday, you were hard-pressed to understand why Morneau had come out of hiding. His explanations were pathetic. You were just as in the dark as you were before he explained it.

It might have helped if Bill Morneau had an inkling as to what is meant by innovation. He certainly used the word enough. You got the impression that the innovation centres across Canada were what he was counting on to bring about innovation for Canada.

But we can hardly rely on places where you develop new apps for your Apple phone to move Canada forward. Every once in a while, one of these centres will come up with a new type of lightbulb but they rarely astound Bay Street.

If this was 150 years ago, we had a John Macdonald who said maybe we could bind this new nation together with a railroad from sea to sea. And that old drunk did it. He might not have looked as good in his selfies as the present prime minister but he came up with ideas and he got them done. Just think what a modern 350-kph railroad could do for this country. And that would take innovation. Bombardier could actually be helpful.

And think about guys like Banting and Best who did some useful innovation in medicine. There are all kinds of opportunities for innovation. And you never know where the opportunities will arise. Our late brother watched the early shadowy pictures of the men on the moon many years ago and said, “I can fix that.”

He went into the Houston offices of NASA a short time later and showed the people running the American space program sharp clear pictures of what came from the moon. Today we get superior pictures from around the world and beyond because of John Lowry’s innovation.

Maybe Bill Morneau needs to learn more about innovation.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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Coddling the Cyberphobic.

Monday, March 27th, 2017

Why are we doing this? Why are we catering to the cyberphobes among us? Why should they dictate progress? Or lack thereof? After a career in computers with a side interest in politics, it should be easy to convince the politicians and their retainers of the ease of computer voting. It’s not.

Cyberphobia is a serious mental condition. If you are a cyberphobe, you are convinced that the Russians know more about computer hacking than the CIA, the FBI and Microsoft. And how silly does that make you feel?

The one thing that we remain convinced of is that Internet voting is the way of the future. It will ease election spending for every level of government. It will increase citizen involvement in the process of government. We can have run-off elections so that we will have politicians approved by 50 per cent or more of us. We can have election week instead of day. We can vote from home, from work, at government offices, our local schools and practically anywhere we are in the world at the time.

If we have a properly distributed voter database across Canada, we would find any hackers before they find an access point. And then why would a hacker bother when they could only get to one record at a time? The voter is only allowed to vote once and any hacker would be quickly exposed.

There are growing numbers of municipalities moving into Internet voting today. The strange thing is many of them are smaller, rural communities who are trying to involve their citizens in better communication with their politicians and their community services. It seems it is the cities with embedded civil servants running the show that are reluctant to move on it.

Our city of Barrie is one of the slowest. It seems every time we have asked to speak to city council about any opportunities here in Barrie, it is as though a solid steel wall of Conservatism rises between the speaker’s microphone and the dais of dignitaries. It is though you are talking to that wall rather than sentient humans. Even when you take the long route of getting a meeting with the right city staff people, you will have better luck getting the mayor to call you back than one of the civil servants.

We cannot afford to continue to let the cyberphobic make this type of decision for us. We should be using computers for useful tasks. It is time we moved forward.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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Lies. And Trudeau-Trump lies.

Sunday, March 26th, 2017

You have come to expect it in the daily reports from the American White House. You know that the man in the White House tells lies. You just do not expect it from the guy in charge in Ottawa.

And you already knew that the guy in charge at the White House does not give a damn about the environment. You are more conflicted by the guy in Ottawa. This guy says he wants to save the environment and makes a big show of it. And then he approves doubling the Kinder Morgan pipeline over the Rockies to pump diluted bitumen to an ocean port. And he is a cheerleader for President Trump approving TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline to the Texas Gulf.

Of course, there is nothing new about the guff that Trump spews for the American news media. He even believes there are American jobs to be had. He had Russ Sperling, president of TransCanada Corporation in his office for the announcement. Sperling would have tripled the number of jobs created by that pipeline to get more bitumen to that Texas port. Hell, he might consider putting Trump’s grandmother on the payroll if that would help.

But it is not going to pave the way past all those environmentalists in the American Midwest who are digging their own trenches for the coming Keystone Wars. This question is not resolved by a long shot. Trump can try to call out the Nebraska National Guard if he likes but Keystone is going to have to run over a lot of environmentalist barricades on its way to the sea.

Trump appears to be drinking his own bath water though when he uses the usual untruths about Keystone. The American jobs Trump was going on about will be fleeting and if the entire line from Alberta to Texas involves as many as 400 maintenance jobs, it will be generous.

But by no stretch of the imagination will Alberta tar sands bitumen make North America self sufficient in ersatz oil. Nor will bitumen-based synthetic oil be cheaper. The greedy bastards who want to pipe the bitumen down the line will hardly be happy until the price of crude oil again hits the US$80 mark. And if we really tried to use bitumen-based oil to supply North America, we would all be knee deep in bitumen slag from trying to refine so much bitumen into synthetic oil.

It seems to be common knowledge now that Donald Trump usually does not know what he is talking about. What is Justin Trudeau’s excuse?


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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The silliness of slagging Sorbara.

Saturday, March 25th, 2017

This could have run Wednesday but there is really no point in running more than one commentary per day. The problem here is that it does not matter if someone has managed war rooms or washrooms there is absolutely no point to slagging former Liberal MPP Greg Sorbara for telling the truth.

This writer has never been a fan of Greg Sorbara. To us, Greg always seemed autocratic, right-wing and elitist. That is a tough mix for a guy who calls himself a liberal.

But never knowing him that well, we have kept our feelings muted.

After listening very carefully to what Greg said on TVO’s The Agenda show last Tuesday, we could not understand the fuss. He lauded the Wynne government for the growing Ontario economy, its accomplishments in governing and what he saw as good government. Frankly, it came across as apple polishing. Yet what he is being criticized for is suggesting that there is some dissatisfaction with Kathleen Wynne. Her service does not seem to be overly appreciated.

Well, we are certainly pleased that some other scapegoat has noticed. This commentator has been calling for her resignation for quite a while now. It was bad enough that she won the Ontario leadership through deceit and duplicity but she is entirely the wrong kind of premier for this time in this province. Ontario does not need a grandmother. It needs a leader. It hardly needs to rejig failed Conservative plans like selling off Hydro One. It does not need the water torture method of bringing beer and wine to grocery stores.

The province definitely does not need a premier who governs by moving from one mea culpa to the next. She has apologized far more often than she has been pro-active.

A year ago, the Ontario Liberals needed to take stock. They needed to look at their position and what this province needed. They needed to realize that the inadequacies of their opponents are no justification. There is no excuse for providing bad government just because your opponents would give worse.

But if Greg Sorbara was as honest as he could be, he should have advised Kathleen Wynne a year ago to go. She needed to be told that when you are no longer doing anybody any good and your time as premier has expired.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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You want Trump to go? And then what?

Friday, March 24th, 2017

There seems to be a growing consensus among mental health professionals that Donald Trump might be crazy. After all, he thinks he is President of the United States. How crazy can that be?

And the man does seem delusional. We all saw it early in his campaign. He would preen himself in front of his crowds of followers. He would rant outrageous lies about his opponents and the previous President. And he is still doing it. Even after being told he won, he wants to stay in the campaign mode. He keeps on having victory rallies just to hear the cheers of his fans.

So, what if the man really is paranoid? There are people who want to see him removed from office. They start with his Vice President and half the Trump staff. It must be a nightmare for the Secret Service protective staff.

But look at the nightmare he is putting the world leaders through. Angela Merkel must have gone home to Germany after meeting Trump and doubled her protective staff. Trump has Canada’s Justin Trudeau and his government so traumatized that they are afraid to do anything that Trump might dislike. They are acting like tensed up ball boys in the Trump one-man tennis match.

And then there is Kim Jong-un of North Korea—there is a match for Trump made in Hell. The world watches while these two crazies argue about who has the biggest missile. Even China is reluctant to get in between.

But if Congress impeaches Trump as a nut-case, what do you get? You get the Tea Party’s darling and Koch Brothers’ lap dog: Mike Pence. This guy was famous in Indiana when as governor he tried to restore 19th Century bigotry. He had to retract when industry leaders said the they would leave the state if he did not back off. Now he is busy running around assuring people that the situation in the White House is not as bad as it looks.

If Congress is able to impeach Trump, Congress would then own President Pence. It would be a situation where the President did everything Congress wanted. He would send them the bills they wanted and would sign them into law without question. The One Percent would be embarrassed by a plethora of tax cuts.  Congress would simply fire the remaining staff of the Environmental Protection Agency. The military would get anything they asked for. Nothing would be left of Obamacare or Obama’s legacy.

But the Trump followers, the losers and the malcontents, the generations technology has left behind, are going to miss him. He cared about them. When they realize he is gone, they are going to riot in the streets. They will be looking for another saviour. We will likely feel that we should have left that Mr. Trump alone.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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Kenney is running on ‘Empty.’

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

The new and unsurprising leader of the Alberta Conservatives is taking a trip to nowhere. He tells Albertans he is there to unite the right but there are two rights and those two rights do not necessarily make a new right or even a better right. And neither of the possible leaders, Jason Kenney or Brian Jean, are worthy of taking Alberta anywhere.

Nor does either have a slam dunk case to get chosen leader of a combined right. There was nothing new about Jason Kenney’s effort to win the Conservative Party leadership to enable him to dissolve the party. It was the same old Alberta-centric hokum that Alberta knows best—wrapping up carbon taxes and deficits and the new Democrats and disposing of them.

Frankly neither Jason Kenney nor Brian Jean bring anything to the table. Neither is a leader. They bring no new ideas, charisma or following to the job. Jason Kenney was nothing more than a ‘Yes-man’ for Stephen Harper. Brian Jean’s success is as a good constituency M.P. and M.L.A. They are henchman and ward healer.

The scary part is that they are both extremists. Jason Kenney is an anti-abortion ideologue on the extreme of the religious right. Brian Jean is on the far right as an economic extremist. Neither felt at home in Ottawa going along with Stephen Harper’s middle ground conservatism of the Conservative minority governments.

What Brian Jean knows and Jason Kenney does not seem to understand is that a race between the two of them for the leadership of the Wildrose and some party-to-be-named-later is going to be for a party dominated by Wildrose. It will be no centre-right party. It will be drained of many of the progressives who will be trucking over to the revived Liberals and the New Democrats. Jason Kenney has already demonstrated his suffrage of women in politics in the treatment of the two women in the Conservative leadership.

Two years ago, Alberta was bloody lucky that there was a viable party available to help save the province from itself. While the voters will deny it, Notley has taken herself and her party to the limits of catering to voters who seemed to have no understanding of the economic mess the province had created. Alberta has been in living high off the hog of resources for too long.

The truth is, Jason Kenney and Brian Jean are pitching a pipe dream.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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Branding the PC’s Patrick Brown.

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017

The Ontario Progressive Conservatives are trying to sell Patrick Brown. Since few Ontario voters know the Conservative Leader, they think it is important to introduce him. They call a recent series of YouTube ads, ‘Brand Brown.’ Mind you they want to paint him as something other than we know him in Barrie.

Brown is a person who has devoted his life to politics. And we are sorry to note, his is not an altruistic quest. Brown is a user. He tells you what he thinks you want to hear to support him. He does not seem to like women. They certainly appear to be uninterested in him. During the time he represented Barrie in Ottawa, he kept his name in front of voters by using taxpayer paid mailings to promote different charities. The few speeches we heard him give over that time were obviously written for him by various writers in training.

But how does a political party introduce a leader who took over their party through deceit? Do they run ads saying: ‘This is our Leader Brown. Let him lie, cheat and steal for you too!’?

It seems they are trying to humanize him. It is sort of like saying: ‘Brown may look like a nerd. Just give him a chance. He will prove it.’

One thing you will find out about Brown: this boy is always campaigning. He is always running for something. You might wonder who is chasing him?

If you hear the news from Queen’s Park these days, you will know that Brown has the answers to everything. He will of course solve all the problems with Ontario Hydro and he will reveal his plans for cheaper electricity for the province after he becomes Premier. He will lower taxes and pay doctors much more. He will throw out the sex curriculum from schools so that teachers can concentrate on teaching the three R’s.

It is interesting to note that Brown started out in the Ontario Conservative race with the support of the extreme right-wing Ontario Landowners Association. These are rural voters who hate wind turbines, government and taxes. He was also the darling of Campaign Life. Since then, it seems the anti-abortionists have declared war on him. It is hard to say what the Ontario Landowners are thinking of him and his party after seeing pictures of Brown and some of the Conservative caucus in Toronto’s Pride Parade.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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Kevin O’Leary meets a real reality.

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

Welcome to Canadian politics, Kevin O’Leary. You have brought a few laughs to an otherwise dismal contest for leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada. Though you would think someone from reality television would know what to expect? Did you really think leadership races are run within some foolish rules? And that anybody pays for someone’s membership in the party without knowing how they will vote.

Kevin, you have a lot to learn; besides French. Blowing the whistle on a fellow candidate is pretty amateur stuff. You cannot be that naïve. You have embarrassed the party by making the officials dump a bunch of memberships. (Did the people being dumped get their membership fee back?) Now all the memberships remaining are on the up and up. Sure?

Kevin, you should have run for the Ontario party leadership last year. Did you know that schmuck Patrick Brown swamped the provincial party membership with close to 40,000 new sign-ups? The provincial officials took the memberships and took the money and nobody ever heard a word of complaint. And did you really think all those recent immigrants from India and Pakistan who Brown had signed up in the provincial party paid their own membership fee?

But, Kevin, you would hardly expect a few thousand ‘instant’ members are going to make a big difference in the federal race? The way the voting is structured for the national leadership, it is virtually impossible to buy the leadership. You would need at least 60,000 instant members spread fairly evenly across 338 electoral districts. The problem is not the more than $225,000 for the memberships but the organization needed to collect your member’s ballots and mail them in for them. And then you would still need those second votes from all the other losing candidates to be sure.  The federal party did not want to make it too difficult but they certainly did not want a schlemiel like Brown walking away wearing the leader’s tiara.

Kevin, you might have done Maxime Bernier a favour. Even if you did not name names, he might have told his supporters it was his memberships that were tossed. If he can afford to lose that many first votes and laugh about it, this race might be more confused than we thought.

Kevin, this might seem odd to you but the decision in this race will be made by 13 losing candidates. Yes, you are one also. Every candidate wants those losers to tell their supporters who to support second. And that will decide the ultimate winner.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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Shell bites the bitumen bullet.

Monday, March 20th, 2017

This story takes us back to the 1970s and a lengthy discussion with a board member of Royal Dutch Shell. He was a “works committee” member of the board and our discussion was enlightening. He represented the employees of Shell on its board and was a highly-respected university professor. He was in Toronto visiting his son who was also a professor at York University.

At the time this writer was giving lectures at universities across Ontario on the social responsibility of business. We had been intrigued by the then current agreement with the union for Shell Canada’s workers at the Sarnia refinery. It was an intelligent document that recognized the responsibilities of both the workers and the employers. In effect, it seemed to say ‘we are all adults here and we need to carry out our responsibilities in a mutually respectful manner.’ That was not the usual preamble in other union agreements at the time.

To the European professor this did not seem unusual. He was more intrigued with the problems North Americans create with their more adversarial industrial relations. At the same time, he was interested in the concept of good citizenship for international companies in the countries where they operated. At the time, we recognized pollution from petroleum-based products as a mainly urban problem but was not yet being addressed as a world-wide problem. We were only starting to learn about recovering oil from tar sands.

But more recently the concern has been: What is a responsible company such as Royal Dutch Shell doing in the Alberta tar sands? Shell even had the Quest Carbon Capture project that was burying a million tons of carbon per year from upgrading tar sands bitumen to synthetic crude oil. Despite this and other efforts, Shell finally said “No” to the tar sands. It took a loss in the billions. It bought out minority investors such as Marathon Oil and sold out at billions less than cost to Calgary-based Canadian Natural Resources.

It cost the Canadian conglomerate close to $13 billion but at the bargain price from Shell, it can make money at prices for crude of less than $50 per barrel.

But to make back the billions it cost, Canadian Natural Resources needs those pipelines to tidewater promised by Justin Trudeau and Donald Trump.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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