Archive for the ‘New’ Category

The saccharine sweetness of Andrew Scheer.

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017

After watching Conservative Party leadership contender Andrew Scheer M.P. on Global’s West Block program last Sunday, it felt like you were coming down from a sugar high. You wonder if that guy can ever rid himself of that grin. The wife liked him at first but after a full six minutes of it, she had tired of him. She realized that he had nothing to say.

This writer used to talk about the Bobbsey Twins of the Harper government. They were the cabinet twins of John Baird and Jason Kenney. The Bobbsey Twins of the post-Harper era are MPs Erin O’Toole from Ontario and Andrew Scheer from Saskatchewan. Both are from the far right of the party. Both would be equally at home among libertarians.

But in the current leadership race, they are cancelling each other out. Scheer is the darling of the Conservative caucus and Alberta and Saskatchewan Conservatives. O’Toole might be from Ontario but he has mined the easier ore bodies in Atlantic Canada and even won Peter Mackay’s blessing.

Neither is a leader. The reason they are in the top seven in the race is their blandness. While neither has to talk for long to position themselves, they are offering a short-term solution to the party. They are both more or less promising to do a balanced job through the next election, lose gracefully and then fall on their sword to make room for a real leader.

While both might have a substantial number of votes among people filling out their ballot down to the tenth choice, the counting might not get that far. This race should be decided by the time the computerized count gets down to dropping off the eighth losing candidate. Do not forget that this decision will be made by the accumulated second, third and fourth choices of the people who first voted for a loser.

And when you figure that the first four almost sure to be eliminated in the counting will be Rick Peterson, Andrew Saxton, Deepak Obrai and Brad Trost, you realize that they will not have many second and third votes to distribute to the remainder. It might not be until maybe nine of the original 14 have been eliminated that a winner emerges.

But before you do any more mathematics, you have to remember that each of 338 electoral districts has 100 points to share among its party membership. This is one of those “fair” voting systems that the special parliamentary committee rejected last year. And how much trust do you have in it?

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

“Lord, what fools these mortals be!”

Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

William Shakespeare is a writer for most human experience. You could not help but think of that line from A Midsummer Night’s Dream the other day reading a commentary on guaranteed basic income. Who the writer was is not important. The approach was serious. He wrote of a guaranteed basic income as being charity. That is the most destructive statement he could make. Should the attitude fester, a critical step forward for our society could suffer further delay.

But in the article, the commentator goes on to talk about another subject. It was a hatchet job. The article offered no insight into the subject of guaranteed income. There was no argument pro or con. There was no proof offered. It was as though a passer-by suddenly threw a brick through a large window and calmly continued to enjoy his otherwise uneventful stroll.

You could test the concept of guaranteed income forever and you will never know until you do it what it will really cost. And similarly, you will never know just how much it will save.

We are talking considerable savings in healthcare, education, support as well as welfare. Guaranteed income payment replaces many piecemeal programs run by government that always left the recipients scrambling for more. These programs were never charity—they were a necessity.

We live in a society that demands compassion and understanding. We live among some of the most charitable people in the world. They are educated and caring. They welcome the newcomers who contribute so much to our society. They are demanding of government to do the job for which it is elected. They contribute their time and money to charity and make a fairly clear distinction between the role of government and the role of charity.

In health for example, it is the government that provides facilities and funding for basic research. It is the charities that seek the funds to direct the researchers to specific health concerns of our society.

A guaranteed basic income is exactly what the words imply. It is to keep the recipient fed, clothed and provide adequate shelter. That looks after the needs of the body. There are also the needs of the mind and spirit of the individual. They are part of our society and need to be able to partake in what our society offers. To assume that bare necessities will suffice is wrong and cruel. We have to make the individual part of our society.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

An equal and opposite reaction.

Monday, April 17th, 2017

Maybe we are talking about different sciences here but you would think that politics and energy would have some similar characteristics. What we are thinking of here is the tendency of the politics of the left to react to the actions of the politics of the right. For example, if Canada’s right-wing parties split would there be a reaction in the left-wing parties?

And knock off the laughter. You do not have to be too old to remember the days of the Reform and Alliance parties fighting with the Old Progressive Conservative Party of Canada. Nobody ever said that the political manipulations of Stephen Harper were dumb.

And there is nothing left of centre in the party that Justin Trudeau is carving out of the old Liberal Party of Canada. He is creating a populist movement that is much further to the right than anyone anticipated. We are finally seeing a party that promises some pot for every chick.

But what happens to the left of centre liberals? And there will be lots of environmentalists who will be former Liberal Party members. Splitting all these people between the New Democrats and the Greens will not be a realistic solution.

Real Liberals hold to a basic tenet of the rights of the individual. That conflicts directly with the collectivism of the union-controlled NDP. Liberals will also find that the somewhat scattered policies of an immature Green Party are far behind the freedoms of modern liberalism.

Little is going to happen other than talk before the 2019 election but by that time, we should see some of the impact of recent changes. We expect Justin Trudeau to be in a strong position to run a more right-wing campaign in hopes of picking up a substantial share of the old Progressive Conservatives.

Left-wing liberals will waste their votes on the NDP and Greens and do nobody any good. Western Conservatives will split the country giving little support to the hated Liberals—even though the Trudeau government is supporting their exploitive energy extraction and pipelines economy.

After the election debacle in 2019, cooler heads to the left will start to see the potential for a more centrist social democratic political party in Canada. The creation of that party will take time but it can be done. It will be something in which Canadians can take pride.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Mother of all Bombs: No oversight required?

Sunday, April 16th, 2017

During his presidential campaign, President Trump promised to bomb the Islamic State of Syria and the Levant (ISIL) brigands in the Middle East back to the Middle Ages. He now seems to have given America’s generals carte blanche to do that. The only problem is that the ISIL fanatics involved in Afghanistan are already living in what is very much a Middle Ages world.

The American generals recently used a MOAB, popularly called the ‘Mother of All Bombs,’ and which also means Massive Ordnance Air Blast on a target in Afghanistan. It is a conventional high explosive, guided bomb device and was used for the first time by the Americans on an area of Achin in the Nangahar Province of Afghanistan. The huge bomb contains 10,000 kilograms of high explosive and its three-kilometre diameter blast area would have obliterated a large number of poppy growers along with their crops and families. The generals were hoping that the force of the bomb would crush the tunnels and caves in the area which are believed to be used by the ISIL forces.

And that is a great deal of ordnance to expend without civilian oversight when American forces are heavily involved in an undeclared war in the area.

The Achin area is east of Kabul on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan. The proximity of the border provides ISIL with convenient resupply and troop movement from Pakistan. Most of these fighters are Pakistani who speak the local Pashto language.

But it is the lack of civilian oversight in the use of a MOAB that is of the most concern. When the generals start carpet bombing with these things they will endanger the lives of Afghans and ISIL fighters alike. Mind you, bombs of this size and capability do not come cheap. Nor can they be delivered by a conventional bomber. They have to be dropped from the largest air transport planes that the Americans have.

President Trump cannot just give up his oversight responsibility as Commander-in-Chief of the American forces. He can only abrogate his oversight at serious risk. Collateral damage might just be a statistic to the generals but the statistics are the civilians being placed in harm’s way. It is the Commander-in-Chief who has the ultimate responsibility.

It makes you wonder though: If the American generals used a few of those ‘Mothers’ on targets in Pakistan, would it help slow down the endless war in Afghanistan?

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

“You don’t say, Mr. Spicer!”

Saturday, April 15th, 2017

On the wall above our computer is an old framed black and white Frank & Ernest cartoon with four characters in the wigs and knee-britches of the colonial period. One of the gentlemen, who does not look like George Washington is saying: “’Cannot tell a lie,’ eh? … In that case, you’ll need a press secretary.”

The cartoon was a gift from an old friend from years ago who was also in the media relations game. He had also partaken in some of those awkward moments in providing media briefings, that we have all had to handle. It is in thinking of Sean Spicer, Press Secretary for President Donald Trump that the cartoon has added meaning.

Spicer has an absolutely impossible task and he handles it so badly. He not only holds his client up for ridicule but he comes across as a complete fool.

The basic problem with his briefings is that everybody there knows that the President is a congenital liar. The media end up with two levels of lies and have no idea what to believe anymore.

And it hardly helps that the media being briefed come into the room knowing that Spicer will lie to them. It all comes down to how big a load is left in his diaper after each session? You are almost thankful that this lame-brain is no political spin doctor.

But remember, he is Donald Trump’s man. Whether you are spokesperson for the Pope or a serial killer, that person has selected you to spread the word. And you speak for them.

There were times when representing the Liberal Party to the national media, you would sometimes have a snide party official feed you false information just to put you on the spot. They would soon find out who it is at the microphone and who has the final say.

And it is not always what is said on the podium that matters as much as the chats over a beer after work. An effective spokesperson is someone who has earned a reputation for being knowledgeable and telling the media what can be said in a straightforward manner.

And before you make any casual comparison to other leaders, living or dead, you had better be damn sure of your facts.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

The Conservative schism becomes a chasm.

Friday, April 14th, 2017

And you used to wonder why Prime Minister Stephen Harper was always flying off with his hairdresser to other parts of the world? It was obvious to many that he was under the constant pressure of keeping his disparate party under some semblance of control. It was during his third term–his first majority—that some of the controls were relaxed and Canadians saw the true Conservative Party of Stephen Harper.

They saw the denials of women’s rights from the social conservatives. They saw the attempts to exclude voters from the polls. They saw the tax benefits to being a Conservative supporter. They saw the Senate of Canada used as a sinecure for the Tory faithful. They saw the abuse in trying to mislead the House of Commons.

What Canadians saw was also the growing tensions in the marriage of the Reform/Alliance movement with the former Progressive Conservatives. The progressives were becoming less and less likely to support what they were seeing as extremism. They could not condone the cruelty of the religious right and the Libertarianism of the extremists demanding less taxes and smaller, less caring government.

And the current leadership contest in the party has served to demonstrate that rift. Libertarians such as Maxime Bernier had little trouble gathering up funds from gullible and unknowing Canadians. His only problem is that he cannot win in his own province.

Kellie Leitch and Kevin O’Leary ripped pages from the Trump handbook without looking at where the votes were to come from. Without the second, third or fourth vote preferences, they go nowhere.

Michael Chong from Ontario is recognized as the only possible choice for the former Progressive Conservatives. The wild card is Erin O’Toole—also from Ontario—who ingratiated himself in the Atlantic and got Peter MacKay on his side. Balancing O’Toole on the right though is Saskatchewan M.P. Andrew Scheer. The two of them hang on the extreme right of their party and have equally unproved leadership potential.

It looks like no matter who wins the conservative leadership, Canada could end up with two political parties on the right. The most right-wing party will probably be dominated by the western element. The more centre-right party will likely be on a Montreal-Toronto axis. And both parties will be more stable than the current Conservative Party of Canada.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

The bafflement of blow-hard Brown.

Thursday, April 13th, 2017

It is probably for the best that the Ontario Progressive Conservatives have a schlemiel such as Patrick Brown as their leader. They will be relieved when he goes. And here is the poor guy trying to explain the difference between carbon taxes and Cap and Trade to a political party that is determined to tolerate neither.

Brown is Ontario’s political poster boy for “Loser.”

We once wasted one of our commentaries on explaining the difference between a carbon tax and Cap and Trade. The simple answer is they are what they say. A carbon tax relates to taxing the amount of carbon you are spewing into our environment. As a tax, it is open to audit and to explanation as to where the money went. It is a system that is easy to follow.

Cap and Trade is not. And that is why Patrick Brown—after flip-flopping as usual—came down on the side of the more hidden money trail. And that is where Ontario and Quebec are anyway. Canada’s two largest provinces are linked to California with a population almost as large as Canada in keeping their supposed Cap and Trade system obscure and under wraps.

And that seems to suit Ontario Opposition Leader Brown as well. What good the federal carbon reduction targets and taxes will be when Ontario and Quebec are tied to some vague promises in California, is a good question.

It is regrettable (for Brown) that he is not old enough to even be aware of the abilities of previous Ontario Conservative Premiers such as Leslie Frost, John Robarts and Bill Davis. He could have learned so much.

The problem is he would have to be in his 80s to remember Leslie Frost. That man never met a political problem that he could not obfuscate while sweeping it under the rug. John Robarts was the chairman of the board and he brought in a new era of industrialized Ontario. And then there was that smoothie Bill Davis. Everybody likes Bill. And the guy actually has a conscience. How can you compare any one of those Conservative gentlemen to a klutz like Brown? His heroes are former Premier Mike Harris and former Leader Tim Hudak.

And Brown has absolutely no idea how he would do anything better.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Morning Line: B.C. Provincial Election – May 2017.

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017

This morning line is not up to our usual standards. We simply lack the complete information needed to assess the public mood. All we can do is provide a baseline for betting based on what stats and performances are available. And there is no getting around the fact that B.C. voters have fooled us all at one time or another.

BC New Democrats: 4 to 1

With an untried leader and the current situation, we would not bet the farm on this one. John Horgan and his team need 44 seats in the legislature for a majority and that might be hard to do with the way the votes might split. It all depends on the support for the Greens. A strong Green Party showing will hurt the NDP—and keep the Liberals in power.

BC Liberals: 6 to 1

A minority would not work for Christy Clark and her business-oriented Liberals. For them it is 44 seats or bust. Most of the advice we are hearing is that Clark and team have run out of rabbits to pull from the hat this time.

BC Green: 15 to 1

With only one seat in the legislature, we are wondering why all the optimism from our Green friends. While we have been seeing some drift of NDP support to the Greens, we think they might drift back when push comes to shove. If Ms. Clark sees enough of them wandering off from the NDP, she’ll be dancing a jig through the election.

BC Progressive Conservatives: 50 to 1

We know they are out there. The problem in B.C. is that nobody can tell the difference between a provincial Liberal and a provincial Conservative. And as of this date there are more Libertarians nominated than Conservatives. It does not look good for either party.

Corruption: 2 to 1

This is a special category of the Morning Line. Our readers across the rest of Canada will be surprised to hear that there are virtually no limits on political contributions in British Columbia. Last year, in a non-election year, Christy Clark’s government is reported to have raised over $12 million, two-thirds of that from business and about 10 per cent from outside B.C.

It is reports that Clark not only gets her premier’s pay from the legislature but also takes additional payment from these donations that amazes this politico. If the premier of any other province in Canada did that there would be serious calls for impeachment and/or criminal charges

Here we thought we were aware of most possibly corrupt practices in politics and this one blew us away.

We are pleased to note that the provincial NDP has promised to put an end to this practice. It might help bring B.C. politics out of the middle ages.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Conservatives in the back stretch.

Tuesday, April 11th, 2017

At most race tracks today, the race fans are offered television views of the back stretch. It helps them follow the race, recognizing that most of the positioning moves in the back stretch develop the story of the race. It is the same in a political race such as the current Conservative Party of Canada run for the Leadership Roses.

An obvious loss in the back-stretch positioning was TV star Kevin O’Leary. Wandering off to Florida shows the lack of commitment that O’Leary has to the race.

O’Leary left Leitch lost in the pack. She will not be with the leaders in the final turn.

But you have to remember that this is a race reserved for losers. And 13 of those losers will still be losers when it is over. The winner will be able to decide whether it was worth it at his/her leisure. There is no second prize.

What makes the race interesting is that no accurate polls can be taken. With the supposed highest polling score of 10 per cent of Conservative voters, there is really no front-runner. The leaders are too tightly bunched.

Even the new sign-up Conservatives are a wasted effort as you can hardly get them all to strategically indicate a second, third or fourth choice that can be of any help to their candidate.

We expect the sleeper in the race will be Erin O’Toole from Ontario. It is one of the interesting complications of the party rules. O’Toole concentrated on the Atlantic Provinces at first. Logically, an Atlantic Conservative voter would have up to five times the voting power of an Ontario Conservative voter. If the average Atlantic electoral district with 50 party members has the same number of points in voting as an Ontario electoral district with 300 members, it shows Mr. O’Toole knows his math.

But whether O’Toole can challenge either Michael Chong or Lisa Raitt (also from Ontario) is impossible to guess. Raitt has the women’s second vote and Michael Chong has the Liberals (that is not a typo).

Michael Chong is the thinking Conservative’s choice because he is the closest to a Liberal that the Conservatives have to offer. He is that old fashioned Progressive Conservative that brought the Conservatives to power federally or provincially over the years. It was the extremists of the Harper crew who finally brought down that government. Chong was a dissenter.

We will give you another snapshot when the horses make the final turn.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Resuscitating Canada’s New Democrats.

Monday, April 10th, 2017

You really have to laugh at Ed Broadbent’s attempts at resuscitating the moribund federal New Democratic Party. He seems to be the only person who believes you can do mouth-to-mouth life saving through a microphone.

Ed’s modestly named Broadbent Institute had a conference for Canada’s leftists last week in Ottawa. All we learned was that Ed did not like the recent Liberal government budget and he was pleased that Trudeau was not keeping his promises. He felt that was making room for a social democratic movement in Canada.

The Institute named its program ‘Change the Game.’ The problem was that it failed to name the game or to tell anyone the rules of the game.

Ed’s opening speech to the conference was a bit of a trip down memory lane. He is hardly old enough to remember Agnes Macphail, when she was the first woman elected to the House of Commons in 1921. He must have been about 19 when she died in 1954

But what he proves in events such as this and his usual remarks is that he and the New Democratic Party are out of date and out of touch with the long-term direction that Canada needs to take on the 21st Century.

It is like Babel-on-the-Bay has been waiting for the current NDP leadership race to come to life. The debates so far have been eulogies rather than directions. How can these people talk about being a social democratic party when they cannot even define what a social democratic party should be?

When some Toronto New Democrats put together their LEAP Manifesto, there was a brief hope. It proved to be naïve and lacking balance.

What should be very clear to the federal NDP membership by now is that Thomas Mulcair did not let them down in the last election. How could anyone expect a former Liberal from Quebec to lead a party in a crucial election that cannot define its own directions. Mulcair presented what he saw. Whose fault was that?

He only had his hard work in the House of Commons as Leader of the Opposition going for him in the election. To expect the voters to respond to the performance in the House was foolish. The party allowed the myth of the Orange Wave of 2011 to hide the organizational failure in Quebec.

Canada’s New Democrats have people with knowledge and understanding of Canadian politics. They should listen to them, not Ed Broadbent.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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