Archive for the ‘New’ Category

From small creeks do mighty rivers flow.

Sunday, August 11th, 2019

From the Manchester Guardian to the Toronto Globe and Mail, there have been reports of our federal government scientists testing spills of diluted bitumen from Alberta’s tar sands. As one source pointed out to me, this was the government laboratory that former prime minister Stephen Harper forgot to shut down. They are still doing their job today.  They just do not realize how much has been done for them.

The researchers are at the Experimental Lake Region near Kenora, Ontario. They are pouring measured amounts of diluted bitumen into a fresh water lake to determine its impact. Everything is measured and contained to enable the researchers to forecast the impact of larger amounts of spilled bitumen.

The most important discovery to-date has been that diluted bitumen floats—for a while. The earlier assumption was that diluted bitumen had a lower density than water and could be easily be scooped from the surface of any water. This was a seriously incorrect assumption.

On the word of Americans in the area of the Kalamazoo River in Michigan and Canadians in the area of the North Saskatchewan River in Canada, diluted bitumen floats—for a while—and then sinks to the bottom of the water. In the earlier example in Michigan, the Enbridge people stopped counting the costs of clean-up at a billion U.S. dollars.

The smaller spill in Saskatchewan River was cheaper for the Husky company that owned that pipeline. The problem here was that less news got out about the spill because of the bias of the Alberta and Saskatchewan governments. They prefer to keep quiet about diluted bitumen spills.

But science is relentless and the federal government scientists will eventually get to experiment with water currents and tides and be able to tell us that diluted bitumen is a serious hazard in spills because it will drift or move with the currents until it can no longer float.

It is to be regretted that so much false information is still out there about using pipelines for diluted bitumen. It is not heavy oil.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Never trust a guy with a pipeline.

Saturday, August 10th, 2019

The prime minister can joke about it if he wishes but there are lots of people who will not vote for a guy with a pipeline. If it was just the old Kinder Morgan line that spanned the Rockies, we would not be as worried. It is all that pipe and equipment poised to twin the line and add heaters and higher pressure that are of serious concern.

The current plan for the Trans Mountain pipeline is to twin it, add those heaters to the line and increase the pressure in it. It only adds up to Burrard Inlet being crowded with ocean-going tankers taking on diluted bitumen from the Alberta tar sands. It is a plan based entirely on greed, stupidity and climate change denial. The question is not just when will a couple of those ocean-going tankers play at being bumper cars but how many ways can we help destroy the habitats of the Orcas?

And the question of increasing the pressure in a pipeline commissioned in 1951 to enable it to push through diluted bitumen begs the question: ‘For how long?’

This is not a question that the prime minister would ever be expected to answer. Nor could he. And that is why there seems to be some delays in the decision-making process in Ottawa.

My guess, for what that is worth, is that the liberals will sell the Kinder Morgan property to the aboriginal tribes who have shown an interest. Since no Canadian banker, in his or her right mind, would put up the billions needed to complete the twinning of the line, that might just be the end of that foolishness.

While the people who care about the future of our earth will be working at reducing our requirements for carbon-based products, we know that for the next few decades we will still need some refined oil products. These can easily be shipped into B.C. and the Pacific coast states of the U.S. by pipeline. This will give the aboriginals a return on their investment. It will allow Justin Trudeau to be a bit more credible in promising to save the world.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Slicing and dicing Justin Trudeau.

Friday, August 9th, 2019

You should always remember the plaint of the writer that what you write in haste, you might regret for the rest of your life. It might not be fair to say that John Ivison of Postmedia erred in all of what he wrote about the prime minister in his new book. He just might not have had the time to consider it.

If anyone could understand the dilemma facing Ivison, you would expect it to be fellow author/columnist Susan Delacourt of the Toronto Star. She writes in the Star as though she more than skimmed the book. She seems to accept most of what Ivison says but you do not feel that she is standing shoulder to shoulder with him.

The book, entitled Trudeau: The Education of a Prime Minister was supposed to be in book stores on Tuesday. I would normally wait until the book was remaindered to buy a copy but, in this case, might not bother. I hardly agree that Trudeau is at his best when he goes off script. I only wish he could stick to a script.

Bear in mind that what I am saying about Justin Trudeau comes from a liberal who cares. I doubt that Ivison has any understanding of Justin’s childhood and his relationships with his father. And whatever suggested to him that Trudeau’s script to become prime minister was a blueprint drawn up by the “anointed” is only in Ivison’s dreams. It was definitely an ‘Improv’ event.

I was in touch with the Ottawa scene at the time and well aware of who from the old guard were rooting for him. I think we were all desperate to get rid of Stephen Harper and we did our bit.

My worst discovery with Justin was his ‘on/off’ switch. And he takes some hard-nosed positions that are not liberal in their origin. When he and the family did their dress-up schtick in India, it showed the world how politically naïve he could be.

I would be more interested in Ivison’s book if he just told us what lessons Justin had actually learned in the last four years.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Trudeau’s Secret Weapon.

Thursday, August 8th, 2019

You have probably been wondering why prime minister Justin Trudeau is so cheery and ebullient these days. It is probably not just the fact that his pal Gerald Butts is back to back him up in the campaign. Nor is it the pollsters who are saying that the conservatives and liberals are in a statistical tie.

The truth is that he really is facing off in this election against the weakest opposition that any sitting prime minister has ever had to face. And his opposition is split three ways.

The least of his worries is the green party. In the long run, these people would be allies in protecting the environment. With a potential of three or four seats for the greens in parliament, Elizabeth May is probably hoping for a slim minority situation for the liberals. It would give her some bargaining power.

Conversely, the NDP are in a protectionist mode. They have little hope of Jagmeet Singh taking their party anywhere. They need to hang on to a basic 12 seats to be recognized as a party in parliament. The SOS they are sending out is ‘save our seats.’ On election night, they and the Bloc Québécois could become the forgotten in Quebec. It is likely to not be known if they held on to their party status until the counts start coming in from British Columbia.

This leaves Justin Trudeau with just one party to address. The good news is that the conservatives never expected Andrew ‘Chuckles’ Scheer to even be a serious contender in this election. He was supposed to be holding the fort until the next election when the party could elect a more dynamic leader. What you have is Jason Kenney in Alberta and Doug Ford in Ontario calling the shots for the federal party.

Justin Trudeau’s secret weapon is the leader of the conservatives. What we have right now is Chuckles pleading with the two premiers to stay out of his election. Its an even money bet that says they are unable to do that.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

This is not news.

Wednesday, August 7th, 2019

Reading other blogs can be a sometimes painful mission. You do it to see what others are writing about, to study their style (or lack thereof) and to see what answers they offer. Mind you, after each experience, I come away with the feeling that the social experiment of the Internet is akin to the compost heap I had at the back of my garden.

The good compostable material was rare and you had to help it along with some well rotted materials and the right bugs. Churning it occasionally also helped. Like the Internet, there are good smells and bad smells and you have to deal with them.

But a news medium, the Internet is not. (I will make a small exception for the Internet edition of England’s Guardian. Only because there is no speedy print edition availability on this side of the pond.)

It would probably surprise the Toronto Star, who send me their daily digital edition and newsletters for free, that the price is right. It is their newsletters that I consider more valuable. These are arranged in a linear form that allows me to self-edit and read more of what interests me, without getting trapped in endless trees and missing items of interest.

But who ever told these Internet browser companies that users want their ridiculous versions of news on their opening screens? Thank you, I do not want Microsoft or any other software company determining what is news for me!

Though I do feel badly for the legitimate reporters who have to read the twits from the Twitter King in the White House. Making sense out of that juvenile crap seems like a fate worse than death for a serious reporter.

Just consider yourself lucky you do not have to follow Trump on Facebook. That Internet phenomenon was designed originally to get more college kids sexually active and it never has grown up.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Are parties considering the cost of living?

Tuesday, August 6th, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Chuckles Chooses Cheap.

Monday, August 5th, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

It started with John D. Rockefeller.

Sunday, August 4th, 2019

It was John D. Rockefeller in the 1800s who put together Standard Oil of New Jersey and created ‘Big Oil.’ He created the power house that to this day is destroying our environment, launching wars and feeding much of the corruption of North American politics. And it is the same anti-trust laws that were written to bring down Rockefeller that created the Big Oil cartels that buy and sell politicians to do their bidding to-day.

There is no doubt that an astute observer such as writer Linda McQuaig has understood this for a long time. Many of us have wondered by what channels the money is assembled but there is little doubt that politicians such as Jason Kenney in Alberta have no lack of funds to fight the Big Oil battles. Writing in the Toronto Star the other day, Linda asserted that the real foreign meddler in Canadian politics is Big Oil. Hell, these are the people who put Donald Trump in the White House. Buying Alberta or all of Canada is small change.

But the heart break in all of this is the decent people of Alberta who do not understand how they are being betrayed on behalf of Big Oil.

Linda’s specific complaint is that the small amounts of money coming from foreign sources to support the environmentalists in the fight are nothing compared to the monies that Jason Kenney has to fight them. When people such as the Koch brothers of New York, whose Marathon Oil is a big customer for Alberta bitumen from the tar sands, buy a politician, they expect results. They want results from Kenney’s War Room that he has put together to fight the environmentalists.

It would be very interesting to follow the money trail that paid for Jason Kenney to return to Alberta after the conservative loss in the 2015 federal election. It was not in-expensive for him to start out touring the province with his message of ‘Unite the Right.’ He had little problem, but still an expensive campaign, to take over the conservative party. And then it was more expense to challenge Brian Jean to take over the rest of the right. And the people who orchestrated it all are still celebrating at the Petroleum Club.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Trudeau does a Harper.

Saturday, August 3rd, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Canada’s Senate: Still not Democratic.

Friday, August 2nd, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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