Archive for the ‘New’ Category

What a web we Weaver!

Tuesday, August 7th, 2018

We have struggled with this for a couple months. What the heck is BC green party leader John Weaver’s problem with the liquified natural gas (LNG) proposal for British Columbia? It not only sounds like a good deal but BC premier John Horgan is right to be moving it along, even though there is really not much need for too much in way of incentives.

Compared to the stuff the modified Trans Mountain pipeline is designed to run down to Burnaby, BC, the LNG proposal is a Sunday afternoon walk in the park. The only concern with a gas pipeline is fire. With the technology involved in pipelines today, you get almost immediate warning and location of the problem. It could be about as dangerous as a backyard barbeque.

With almost immediate shut down of the line, you lose very little gas into the atmosphere. Remember that the gas, at this stage, is lighter than air.

But that density changes when the gas is liquified. When the gas is reduced to minus 160° C, it has a density of 423 grams per litre. Modern LNG tankers can travel around the world on the gas from their tanks that also serves to keep the LNG at a constant cold temperature. In combination with diesel fuel, it is the ideal way to transport gas.

Pipelines are definitely not the best way to transport diluted bitumen. Diluted bitumen has to be heated and forced through a pipeline at increased pressure. It is highly abrasive and with the increased pressure, spills can be inevitable and are not signalled to the line head as immediately. Where a spill is particularly dangerous is around water. With the diluent staying on the surface and the bitumen finally reaching bottom, harming the environment both above and below the surface.

The good news (I guess) is that premier John Horgan is paying his debts. He wanted to be premier and it cost him an accord with the BC greens. One of the conditions is to again offer BC voters an opportunity to vote on changing how they elect their provincial government. John Horgan’s NDP government is calling for this vote later this year. It is a small price to pay for the continued support of the three Green Party members in the B.C. legislature.

But nothing ever runs smoothly. If the NDP government had announced its proportional representation on Facebook, it would probably have received more initial dislikes than likes. The government allows for three alternative plans, each more confusing than the previous proposal. None of the options is truly proportional.

Mind you, the good news is that after two elections trying one of those options, BC voters will have an opportunity to vote to restore First-Past-the-Post (FPTP) voting.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Folks find Ford far from frugal.

Monday, August 6th, 2018

We are told that Ontario premier Doug Ford is going to sue prime minister Justin Trudeau. And he is going to use our money to do it. I hardly see how that is going to please Ontario residents. Other than our money going to enrich a bunch of lawyers, what is the point? Why is premier Ford using our money to massage his ego?

This does not make sense. Why should this guy use our money? He is supposed to be a millionaire. Why should he not have some skin in the game?

This is the guy who promised us all kinds of savings in the provincial government. The only cuts in spending we have seen so far are the announced cuts by the lady with the sharp pencil from Oshawa in the increase in proposed spending, such as for the mentally ill. That is a less than impressive saving!

Ford promised us that it would cost us nothing to fire the guy running Hydro One. It seems ‘nothing’ is more like $9 million. Bad math Dougie!

That social services minister from Hell, Lisa MacLeod, did her part. She shaved half of a three per cent raise in funds for people on disability payments. Maybe she figures that will hold those shirkers!

It is what Lisa did to the people expecting two more years of the test of guaranteed income that caused the greatest shock. These people were rebuilding their lives under the test program that the conservatives promised would continue. No, it is not. The Ford cabinet changed its mind.

But, do you note that most of these cuts were in proposed increases. Nothing has been saved, it was all future spending. Yet it is alright to spend $30 million to make lawyers richer on a law suit that will go nowhere.

And the laugh in all of this is that the law suit will be under the management of a lawyer who has only practised law in New York State. Attorney General Caroline Mulroney will likely have her application against the federal government’s carbon tax plan thrown out of the Ontario court of appeal by a judge who has much more important matters on his or her calendar. And there are definitely fewer guarantees that the other version of the carbon tax case being sent to the supreme court jointly by Ontario and Saskatchewan will get much further.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

“All politics is local.”

Sunday, August 5th, 2018

The adage about all politics being local is usually credited to U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Tip O’Neill many years ago. All he was saying was that if you do not know what your voters have stuck in their craw, there is little you can do for them. You always have to assume that politicians have their own objectives but if they can share their objectives with their voters, they have a much better chance of being elected.

This occurred to me on receiving a piece of literature the other day from a new candidate in my ward. That provides the ward with four candidates for councillor from which to choose on October 22. I admit that I happen to like the current ward two councillor. Rose Romita was new to council in the last municipal election and I gave her a tip to improve her campaign. I have only talked to her once since then and I noted that she seems to be settling in well.

But this first piece from her main competitor for the next council was a bit of a surprise. It was four color, right out of the conservative party handbook and even used the tory blue. The last item I read about this guy was on the event of his retirement earlier this year, from the senior staff at city hall here in Barrie. After 28 years working for the city, this guy wants to double dip. I am sure he has a healthy pension coming to him from the city and he wants to add a councillor’s stipend.

I live two blocks from Barrie city hall but as far as this guy is concerned, I live in a different world. I watched him sometimes at city council meetings and during a few presentations to council over the years. He always struck me as being at the slow end of the throttle. And if I have had one complaint over the years about Barrie municipal management, they seem to have a single speed: slow.

The truth is, they do not like any ideas but their own. They really do not want citizens to add to their workload. Their epitaph is enshrined at the south-west corner of Kempenfelt Bay: it is the Allandale train station. This restored historic site sits as a permanent display of wasted taxpayer money. The millions spent on this unused site are an embarrassment to all.

And that brings us back to the candidate, the former city official. He was hired 28 years ago as a water resources engineer. It might explain why there are so many businesses supplying bottled water to the citizens of Barrie.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Toronto’s urgent need for unity.

Saturday, August 4th, 2018

It is a daunting prospect. No matter who is elected to what position in Toronto in the October municipal election, the Ford conservatives will be in their face for the next four years. And the only way to face it is with a united front. And to do that, you have to have a group running for mayor and most of the councillor spots on a united ticket.

You do not have to call it party politics. You could call it Tory’s Troublemakers and get the job done. What you want is to elect the mayor and at least 13 councillors who agree to giving Toronto some good government and really serving Torontonians. Since the Ford crew at Queen’s Park are remnants from the far right of the conservative party in Ontario, you might not want to identify as conservatives.

But bear in mind, your major problem will be the potential for the NDP to unite behind a mayoralty candidate such as Jennifer Keesmaat. While Doug Ford has left them few wards with easy wins for the NDP, that is still the group likely to provide the opposition at city hall.

And you definitely do not want to annoy any liberal candidates. If you could combine the liberal and conservative support for Tory’s Troublemakers, it should give you a majority on city council. It will be your chance to put through some very positive programs for the city.

There is not a lot of time to put this together but you should be able to put your candidates in a room and work out a common platform that you can all support. You might have your candidates bring supporters to an open meeting where they could pass judgement on the plans. You can invite the media to see your hard work and get a major boost for your platform and your candidates. And if you play your cards right, you will beat the NDP.

Ad hoc parties are a tenuous approach but, in time you could grow your group into a Toronto party that can stand up to Queen’s Park and negotiate better arrangements for the city.

The truth is that the threat of secession from Ontario is spurious. Toronto needs Ontario just as much as Ontario needs Toronto. They just need to see the need for each other.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Ford’s Valkyrie are in flight.

Friday, August 3rd, 2018

Cue the Wagnerian music. Ford’s Valkyrie are choosing who lives and dies in Ontario. While Ford makes war on his old colleagues in Toronto city hall, his cabinet Valkyrie are slashing and burning liberal attempts at humanity. Both Christine Elliott as health minister and Lisa MacLeod as social services minister are busy gutting desperately needed programs and program increases for the people.

It seems Doug Ford, in his drive to be the new premier of Ontario, forgot to tell us what “For the People’ meant. It certainly did not include the halt the lame, the mentally ill and the indigent. It certainly did not include either old and tired social assistance programs or new program trials.

Christine Elliott is on the fast track, in her secondary role as deputy premier. She had the first kick at the increase planned for mental health spending in Ontario. At a time when mental health patients are slipping through the cracks in the system, she cancelled an increase in spending. It seems we are leaving the serious problems for the police. And we all know how rarely the police know what to do in dealing with the mentally ill—if they do not shoot them first?

Mind you Lisa MacLeod was surprisingly generous. She found that there was a planned three per cent increase due for the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) which can pay up to $1151 per month depending on rent. At a time when a staple such as peanut butter has gone up about 20 per cent, that increase of about $30 per month was going to be welcomed by all recipients, So Lisa MacLeod reduced the increase to 1.5 per cent. Maybe she might think the recipients will be half as pleased. Not that they would be likely to vote conservative anyway.

But it was Lisa MacLeod’s telling the news media of the killing of the basic income program test that caught everyone off guard. We were promised that this test would continue under a conservative government. It seems they lied.

Oh well, it was a foolish test that Kathleen Wynne did not seem to understand and would have proved little. They were not testing the impact of the program against another community of equal size. They cherry-picked individuals within some communities to test. I have no idea what that proves about a guaranteed annual income program?

Obviously, for conservatives, it proves nothing.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Trump rides the Tiger.

Wednesday, August 1st, 2018

When you choose to ride the tiger, there is no option but to stay aboard. This situation with Donald Trump is increasingly serious. It was emphasized and underlined the other day when the publisher of the New York Times warned the American president that he was endangering lives with his inflammatory rhetoric. While the publisher was obviously more concerned about the safety of members of the news media, the problem can have an equal and opposite impact on the safety of the president.

When the president of the United States so blatantly chooses to lie with the cretins of the National Rifle Association (NRA) can he be safe from the crazies within the organization? We would hardly expect that anybody has to send a note from their analyst along with their membership dues.

And the American Secret Service can hardly be expected to admonish the person they are supposed to protect. Could they catch him sending twits in the middle of the night and take his iPhone away from him? Maybe they could just turn off the White House Wi-fi at night and let everyone get a decent night’s sleep?

Trump seems terrified of letting the news media do their job. If the information is about his administration, it is obviously ‘fake news’ to the president. The New York Times publisher was also very concerned that the president’s claims about the negative coverage are endangering journalists. The publisher does not want his employees shot just for doing their job.

But is the situation worse than that? Is America heading towards another civil war? If California and New York cannot be divided into six states, will federal elections in America continue to be dominated by the red states?

Or will the blue states rise again?

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

The Patrick Brown legacy lives on.

Tuesday, July 31st, 2018

It is like a bad smell that does not go away. There was some relief in Barrie during the period when Patrick Brown was living the high life in Toronto as leader of the Ontario conservatives. It was the complaints by two young, unidentified Barrie ladies that caused him to resign as conservative leader. And it was the vindictiveness of fellow conservative MPPs that convinced him not to run to replace himself as leader or to contest the Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte provincial electoral district as a conservative.

But like a bad penny, Patrick Brown keeps showing up—recently as a home owner in Mississauga—then as a candidate for Peel Region chair—and then, just as suddenly—candidate for mayor of Brampton.

Patrick Brown of Barrie is a political conniver. Some people think he is a pretty good ‘retail politician’ in the sense that he knows all the angles to work on voters. Yet he abuses those angles. He is slippery and has little respect for truth. He is only in it for himself.

Brown spent years in Ottawa and never made a contribution to his party policy or on behalf of his constituents. On free votes he voted against women’s rights and to re-open abortion arguments.

The old political term for Brown is “carpetbagger.” He little cares for the needs of Peel region voters but he figured to make around $200,000 per year in the newly elected role as regional chair. He took a quick look around when premier Ford slammed close that opportunity and selected mayor Linda Jeffrey of Brampton as the only potential opportunity. He has no personal connection with Brampton but figures, in the current times, his being a conservative and Jeffery being a former provincial liberal cabinet minister gives him a chance at winning. He knew better than to go after Bonnie Crombie in Mississauga (where he now lives) who has done a good job replacing a retired Hazel McCallion.

What reminded me of this was Brown’s acolyte, Alex Nutall MP, who is very proud of taking over Brown’s role at Hockey Night in Barrie this year. I think Royal Victoria Hospital and the other charities getting involved should get a forensic audit of this event in recent years. They might not know the kind of legacy to which they have tied themselves.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Ford-style mathematics and The Kingfish.

Monday, July 30th, 2018

Even health minister Christine Elliott is going along with the mathematics used by the new Ontario premier. Once you accept that two and two add up to zero, you are one of the true believers. The only problem is that when we are so obviously in need of improving mental health services is no time to fool with the mental health funding as planned by the previous provincial regime.

Recent events on Toronto’s Yonge Street and then in Greektown on the Danforth tell us that serious mental health problems are being allowed to escape our notice, our concern and possible action. It is worrisome when the new health minister starts her job denying the allocation of funds needed to address mental health problems.

But can we expect more than summary decisions of this summer session of the Ontario legislature? There was no examination or discussion of the whys and wherefores of the York University strike and how to prevent such a disruption for the students in the future. The process was cursory.

In the same sense, does the conservative government want more than a cursory study of the bill to end “cap and trade” carbon pricing? Will we just see “Ford” mathematics used to qualify his ten-cent drop in the price of gasoline. And will we even notice the drop in the ever-increasing profits for the oil refining companies?

Would that we could have had any warning of changes in Toronto municipal ward boundaries? Should there be 24 city councillors or 47? Are not the voters in Toronto interested parties in that discussion? And do we understand what is the role of a councillor as opposed to a member of parliament or of the legislature? Instead of having dialogue on these issues, we are being ruled autocratically. Elections of regional chairs are being summarily cancelled. And is that a decision that we should discuss? Is it from spite—or some other spurious reason?

Is this the style of public discussion that Dougie is proposing to use to send sex education for Ontario students back in time? Does Dougie think he can now rule Ontario by fiat.

We initially assumed that Doug Ford would be like Donald Trump Lite. We are rethinking that and are starting to see him in more the role of a governor from the past in Louisiana, known as Huey P. Long. The story of Huey Long could be a cautionary tale. He called himself ‘The Kingfish.’

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

 

The Ford Follies fumble forward.

Sunday, July 29th, 2018

To be truthful, I had a hard time controlling my laughter reading the revelations on premier Doug Ford’s plans for Toronto and the municipal elections in Ontario. I am now convinced that Dougie is dumber than former Ontario premier Mike Harris. It was Harris who amalgamated Metro Toronto and left it in deplorable disarray 20-years ago.

If the Ford followers at Queen’s Park were truthful, they would mostly admit that it is high time that the good burghers of Toronto paid the piper. Those from outside the GTA are convinced that it is Toronto that sucks up all the good air (and money) of this province.

And if Dougie has something of a vendetta going with arch enemies such as Patrick Brown and Steven Del Duca, well why not get even? With the two of them looking for easy election as chair of Peel and York regions respectively, they were looking for an easy run at a lucrative job. This was to be the first public election for those positions and they both thought it would be a breeze. Those guys know something that has been kept secret in municipal elections for far too long: name recognition wins. Incompetence hardly matters.

The laugh might be on Dougie though for cancelling the chairs’ elections as Patrick Brown raced to file a nomination for mayor of Brampton. (Brampton is a city of just over a half million above Mississauga and west of Toronto.) Hopefully, the last laugh will be for Brampton mayor Linda Jeffrey, who will be no pushover. If that putz Brown looks like he is giving Linda any trouble, this old liberal apparatchik will be heading down to Brampton, volunteering to help her.

But the Toronto situation is providing the best laughs. Imagine the grin on John Tory’s face when former city planner Jennifer Keesmaat announced she is running against him. She might be the favourite of the bike-riding NDP but those people have their own problems.

Can you imagine those vaunted NDPers, Mike Layton and Joe Cressy, going head to head for a single downtown ward? I can hardly guess who will blink first but someone will have to step in to resolve that one.

No doubt some enterprising lawyer is dashing between already-nominated candidates putting together a lawsuit to cover monies they have already spent in now changed wards. Campaigns have to be completely re-evaluated and some will be abandoned in frustration.

The question is how are the voters going to accept this mess? I think we all need to listen to the voters very carefully.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

 

Horgan pays the price.

Saturday, July 28th, 2018

British Columbia premier John Horgan is paying his debts. He wanted to be premier and it cost him an accord with the BC Green party, headed by MLA John Weaver. One of the conditions is to again offer BC voters an opportunity to vote on changing how they elect their provincial government. John Horgan’s NDP government is calling for this vote later this year. It is a small price to pay for the continued support of the three Green Party members in the B.C. legislature.

But nothing ever runs smoothly. People are taking the government to court over the proposals and regulations for the referendum. In addition, the Green Party MLAs are talking about ending the accord over the NDP offering incentives for a very large Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) proposal. It is easy to understand the eagerness of the NDP for $40-billion LNG project that offers jobs for BC workers and long-term revenues to the province. The Greens are less eager to increase the carbon emissions and potential environmental problems with loading ocean-going LNG tankers.

If the NDP government had announced its proportional representation on FaceBook, it would probably have received more initial dislikes than likes. The government allows for three alternative plans, each more confusing than the previous proposal. The least complicated is the mixed-member proportional system such as was rejected by Ontario voters in 2007 by a vote of about two to one. The second is more like the single-transferable vote that B.C. voters failed to approve twice. And the third choice is a previously untried system of rural voters voting proportional and urban voters voting for a MLA in normal electoral districts. None of the options is truly proportional.

But most of the emerging arguments are over how the NDP government is managing the voting. It will be a mail-in ballot and ignores the Internet availability. The main bone of contention is that the NDP government will select who will be the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ sides and only those two groups will be allowed to advertise and promote their opinion. No ‘Maybe’ or ‘What If’’ options are to be considered.

Mind you, the good news is that after two elections with one of those options, the populace will be allowed an opportunity to vote to return to First Past the Post (FPTP) voting. I guess that opportunity would be better than the only recourse to be an insurrection.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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