Archive for the ‘New’ Category

In defence of the new capitalism.

Wednesday, April 10th, 2019

It seems like many years ago, I was standing in front of business students in Ontario defending responsible capitalism. Nobody called me a raving socialist—at least, not out loud. There was no question that what I was lecturing was more on social democracy than the bitchiness of Donald Trump’s raw and nasty version of capitalism.

Recently I was sent a copy of a Bill Maher piece called Capitalism Plus. This clip must be a hot item in democratic circles in the U.S. today. He explains how socialism is an excellent add on for capitalism. It explains why caring for others matters. It is also great to have a few good laughs as a popular and practiced raconteur explains something that is very important.

There seemed to be as many examples of good companies back in the 1970s and 80s as there are examples of bad companies today. Take the General Motors situation for example. I think the giant company has shot itself in the foot to remove the Oshawa plant’s manufacturing from Canada.

In the 1970s and 80s, there were companies throughout the United States and in Canada that believed in the social responsibility of business. They treated their employees as responsible partners in the enterprise, sharing the benefits and financial success.

And there were lessons to be learned in failure at the same time. There are different ways of handling layoffs as assembly lines become redundant. A company I worked for ran to the end of a product cycle and we had some good employees on that product line without work. One day some of them were repainting the hallways of the plant and they asked me why there were no layoffs. All I could do was ask them to be patient.

What we had done was ask our personnel people if they would like to try out their sales skills. We sent them out to similar type companies in the municipality to sell them on interviewing some of our employees. The only layoffs that took place where when everyone had a new job.

But call it democratic socialism, social responsibility of business or capitalism plus, business wants to be part of a stable environment where it can plan ahead and grow its opportunities. Canada offers that. We hardly need to tell anyone that we are open for business. Nor do we always need to attract business with lower taxes or incentives. We know that business will come.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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Secularism is not the new religion.

Tuesday, April 9th, 2019

An interesting opinion piece by a seasoned Toronto Star reporter the other day posited that Quebec views on diversity differ from the rest of Canada. Frankly I think that is B.S. That seems to be the story the rest of Canada uses to excuse the Catholic bigotry that is gradually fading in Quebec. And luckily, it is fading in the same way as the Loyal Orange Lodge has lost standing in Ontario and across Canada.

Yes, I am old enough to remember King Billy parading on Toronto streets in his finery on a sway-backed milk-wagon horse. The scattered onlookers in what used to be Orange Toronto never could match the Santa Claus parade for numbers.

But while the degree of influence the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Society holds over Quebec’s Fête Nationale every June 24 might have waned in the major population centres, it still influences the small-town politicians.

It is similar to the influence of the Ontario Landowners Association that cuts a conservative swath through that province’s farm-dominated ridings from Ottawa to Windsor. They are a throwback to an era long gone where the person who hewed arable land out of the forest and scrub could hold domain over it.

But do not forget the Bible Hour of Bill Aberhart, the Baptist who founded Social Credit and brought Alberta through the Great Depression. And do not forget it was Earnest Manning who carried on for Aberhart and promoted the strict Calvanism that permeates Alberta rural politics to this day. It is also why it is hard to imagine a Judas schemer such as Jason Kenney causing a serious challenge to Alberta’s Rachel Notley for the job of premier.

When you look at Canada in its diversities, geographies, influences and beliefs, many throw up their hands and say this is an impossible country to govern. And yet it remains a country of many successes. It has shown itself strong in war and strong in peacekeeping. It exists between two more powerful nations to the north and south and works to maintain civility with both.

Canada is a beacon to the world. We should keep it shining bright and clear for all to see.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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Quit bitching and drink your Kool-Aid.

Monday, April 8th, 2019

We hear that there is no federal liberal party. Instead, we are told it is the Trudeau cult. The only thing is that, before we drink our Kool-Aid, we need to check to see whose idea this was anyway.

It was nine years ago that the MP from Papineau electoral district in Montreal started his campaign to win the liberal leadership. It was easier than he expected. After the experience of the party with three lacklustre leaders since the Jean Chrétien era ended, liberals needed hope and the voters were tired of Harper’s conservatives. We revelled in sunny days. Everyone wanted a selfie with the young Trudeau.

He electrified Canada’s youth and encouraged our seniors. We saw vitality and the acceptance of challenge. The opposition in parliament were left leaderless and in a funk. He excited foreign leaders and was welcomed at world councils. He took leadership in environmentalism. He made sure women were in positions of power. He proclaimed his feminism. The 21st Century belonged to Justin Trudeau.

And Trudeau’s mob grew and expanded. The opposition chose housekeepers over action figures for leaders. They saw the coming election as hopeless for their narrow views of Canada’s needs.

Nobody seemed to note this commentary that was vainly signalling its growing concerns for this party and its leadership. It was not all sunny days. Justin Trudeau’s elitism was showing. His lack of depth on the issues concerning. His promises were stumbling to become law.

Where were the believers of true liberalism? It was the Ontario liberals who were vanquished first. They were squashed. Their leader at the time, surrendered before the votes were even cast. And now there are few sunny days forecast for the summer and fall of 2019.

But never ever call the liberal party a lynch mob. You need never malign so many caring Canadians. You can accuse the prime minister and some of his cabinet of having failed us. That is fair.

But the ideal of liberalism does not change. The rational of individual rights and freedoms are the backbone of this country. How many of the peoples of nations around the world envy the freedoms of Canadians? Those are worth fighting for.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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Tip-toe through these tulips (Part 2).

Sunday, April 7th, 2019

Was it spite? The story of Jody Wilson-Raybould and her side-kick Jane Philpott has yet to be fathomed. What benefits them? They both had so much to offer. Wilson-Raybould was the first woman of aboriginal ancestry to serve in the cabinet. Her people needed her wisdom in that role. They deserve action, dignity, justice, recognition and reconciliation. It takes someone who has spent years in aboriginal councils to truly understand their needs.

In Ontario, we all watched last year as the irresponsible rage of the voters decimated the liberal caucus at Queen’s Park. Instead of good government, we elected an incompetent blowhard and his mealy-mouthed conservative followers. Why? We could certainly see it coming. It was like the voters in the United States who elected Donald Trump. “Take that you fools!” The voters burnt their bridges. They enjoyed a pyrrhic victory. May they enjoy their hell.

And here we are, watching the federal liberals bleed the votes they need in October. Does Justin Trudeau think all will be forgiven by then? The bleeding started even before he went to do his dress-up routine in Bollywood. He embarrassed Canadians.

Trudeau proved a poor leader. Many men interpret his self-declared feminism as weakness. Too many promises proved hollow. He had promised election reform without any background information. He introduced a weak and unsatisfactory assisted-suicide bill. He aided Canada’s nuclear families and forgot the seniors. He talked about an undefined middle class for whom he cared.

He preached environmentalism and then bought a pipeline to ship highly polluting tar sands bitumen to foreign parts, who are free to pollute as they wish.

Trudeau has seriously damaged the liberal brand. This was at a time when he needed the strength of the brand in the Atlantic provinces. He needed depth in Quebec. He can only split vote-rich Ontario. And the trip across the west is a downhill run for liberals all the way. He stands in the bottom of the hole he has dug for himself and his party, looking at a small piece of blue sky.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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Tip-toe through these tulips.

Saturday, April 6th, 2019

This is a story about women of a certain age and how a man has to tip-toe carefully to explain or be maligned and castigated as sexist. It is just, by now, we should all be tired of the sexist claptrap surrounding the ongoing one-act play of Jody Wilson-Raybould. Yes, the prime minister was wrong. He dropped the ball.

But Justin Trudeau is a wimp. Do you really believe that Wilson-Raybould did not know that when she set out on her mission to destroy him? The problem between the prime minister and his justice minister needed to be settled in the confidentiality of cabinet, not out on the street like common drunken brawlers.

And it was hardly a fair fight. I think the prime minister was blind-sided. Gerry Butts and the clerk of the privy council tried to protect him and got caught in the threshing machine of the Ottawa media.

The only thing we really want to know is ‘Why?’ I have carefully brought up the subject with a number of women of similar age. They have raised their children. They might perceive their earlier sexuality as slipping away. Similar to Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott, they are successful in their profession and they are seeking that further elusive something else. They do not know what it is.

Is it a legacy, the notoriety, another mountain climbed, or the thrill of the kill by the huntress?

All I know is that it is a bad example for those young people who were in parliament to hear from the PM the other day. Who the hell told them they can turn their backs on the prime minister of Canada? Those young women need to understand that nobody demands your respect for the person but you should never ever disrespect the office.

In retrospect, in years to come, Wilson-Raybould will likely rue her legacy as the one who brought down a prime minister. So much more of likely benefit to her and her peoples was possible.

To be continued…

Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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Ontario liberals need a leader.

Friday, April 5th, 2019

It is good to see that there are a number of worthy contenders already at the starting line for the upcoming leadership contest for the Ontario liberals. More important than the names of those individuals, at this point in time, are the rules for the race.

And the simpler the rules, the better. Over the years, we have seen too many of all parties’ leadership races twisted to unfair advantage by leadership contenders. Surprisingly, it is the more complex the rules, the easier it is to bend them. The simpler the rules, the harder it is for the unscrupulous to twist them to advantage.

First of all, it should always be one member-one vote. Delegated conventions have been corrupted for too many years. And all electoral districts are not equal, nor should they be counted as such. There is no way a riding with 500 members should be counted the same as one with just 100 members. You do not want to honour mediocrity. Nor should anyone pay their basic membership with anything other than their personal credit card. The occasional person with no credit card needs witnesses.

Nothing other than a single mark or the single click of a mouse should be the process for voting. Please do not try to speed the voting process with preferential voting. You are seeking the best not mediocrity.

To come to a majority decision is the democratic choice of the party and each ballot should be called without dropped candidates trying to influence the subsequent voting. They can only dignify the subsequent ballot with their silence.

And the party has to realize that fund-raising by candidates cannot be a yardstick for quality of leadership. Less is more in leadership. Ideas stand tall. Communications are in the content, not the gloss. Can this candidate walk in your shoes?

We have an opportunity in this leadership contest to be proud of our choice of leader. Let him or her really reflect the liberalism people need in to-day’s Ontario.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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If Harper is a bully, what is Trudeau?

Thursday, April 4th, 2019

The last two prime ministers tell us much about this country of Canada. In June 2015, I wrote a comment on PM Stephen Harper, accusing him of being a bully. It seemed to be his way of making up for his deficiencies as a human. A reader reminded me of that comment the other day when I forecast that Jody Wilson-Raybould would soon be a non-liberal MP. He wanted to know if that meant Justin Trudeau was also a bully?

The answer was ‘No.’ If Stephen Harper was still prime minister and Jody Wilson-Raybould his justice minister, she would have been out of the cabinet last December. Nor would his chief of staff or clerk of the privy council need resign. In Stephen Harper’s Canada, the divine right of kings and prime ministers still prevails. And he is very much a hands-on type of guy.

But we now have Justin Trudeau at the helm of this ship of state. He watched as his hand-picked chief of staff and his obsequious clerk of the privy council each (figuratively) took a bullet for him. He did not have the guts to tell a woman what he wanted and he paid the price.

The late Pierre Trudeau was a great guy who stood up for Canada and he stood up for his own legacy. His son, Justin, is a wimp. Some legacy!

But there is a rub folks. Who wants a Jagmeet Singh government? Who could tolerate a ‘Chuckles’ Scheer government? There is a country at stake here, smarten up!

Liberals across Canada have six months to do better. First, we tell Justin Trudeau to resign. Then we have a leadership race to replace him and have a fair fight down to the wire in October.

And remember that you do not have to have a sitting liberal MP as leader of the party. Let me just throw the name of Elizabeth May into the mix. We have choices.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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Team Trudeau tells the tale.

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019

An invitation came from the liberal party the other day to sign up for Team Trudeau Campaign College. It is just $25 for the day and you have your choice of attending campaign management, official agent or a single stream covering the three areas of digital management, volunteer management and canvas management. I heartily recommend the three-part stream as better bang for the buck.

And teaching at these efforts can be a great experience in itself. I sometimes offered to talk about dirty tricks to get a bigger turnout to my classes. The time I told people that our text would be from Carl von Clausevitz’ On War, we had to get a larger hall. If you want people to remember, you have to make it memorable.

The only stipulation on these particular classes is that you have to be a registered liberal to even get an invitation. When running the ground game in a municipal campaign a few years back, I found I had the conflict of teaching local conservatives and NDPers as well liberals. In the 2015 federal campaign, the ground game for the conservative in the next riding was being run by one of my keener students. She actually phoned during the campaign to thank me for the training. Oh well, I liked the liberal she helped defeat, but he never listened to me anyway.

But memories in politics are short. I would not be of much help as a trainer today. Yet I miss it. I might be critical. Small things can annoy me.  For example, they say ‘Team Trudeau’ in the logo and do not mention ‘Liberal.’ What is funnier is the stylized pencil the artist has drawn under the name ‘Trudeau.’ The pencil is designed to represent voting. The only problem is that a pencil such as that would never be used in a polling place. It has an eraser on it—which might just turn out to be a metaphor for the coming election.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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Trudeau cannot un-fumble this ball.

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2019

A chick does not spring new-born from the egg knowing which worms are the tastiest. Life can be a game of trial and error and nowhere is it more treacherous than in the game of politics. Politicos, the hangers-on of the political scene have much to learn but are a dime a dozen and easily disposable. To survive the years I did, as one of those groupies, took the ability to learn fast, build lasting relationships and be useful. Now that I am no longer considered useful, I guess I might as well tell you which worms will give you a tummy ache.

One of the more serious lessons is about recording someone who might be embarrassing him or herself. Nothing can throw a meeting into a tizzy better than to put a recorder on the table and ask someone to repeat what they last said. Not being a lawyer, I cannot say what the rules are about recording telephone conversations without both parties being aware, but it is not a way to make friends or earn trust.

In the case of Jody Wilson-Raybould, the MP has probably guaranteed her expulsion from the liberal caucus by recording the conversation between the clerk of the privy council and herself. The release of that recording will certainly have serious ramifications for the prime minister but it was also the former justice minister’s swan song.

While her career in politics might be over, her suicide mission could be taking Justin Trudeau out of politics with her.

One of the things you always watch for in arranging media opportunities for politicians is that nothing happens to make your politician look awkward. Like Robert Stanfield showing a lack of skill with a football in 1974, Justin Trudeau’s less than sincere ‘thank you’ to a Grassy Narrows protestor the other day was his fumble for 2019.

But you cannot un-fumble a ball. And Canada’s aboriginal peoples will be haunting Justin Trudeau throughout the coming campaign—for his failure at reconciliation, for his treatment of the first aboriginal woman in the cabinet and for his ignorance in dealing with the Grassy Narrows protestor.

He would hardly listen to this old apparatchik, but if he asked, I would tell him; he still has time to resign.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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In a time of fools in Quebec.

Monday, April 1st, 2019

There is no more appropriate time to recognize the foolishness of the bigotry that emerges periodically in Quebec than April Fools Day. They bring it on themselves. Quebec leaders and politicians seem endlessly adept at bringing derision on themselves and their province for bigotry and tribalism.

The provincial paranoia seems to have settled on immigration as its greatest threat today. It is hard to understand what end the politicians seek to achieve. The latest stunt in the national assembly in Quebec City is for premier François Legault’s Coalition Avenir Québec government to introduce another bill to confirm the religious neutrality of the state. To do this, the government is proposing that nobody in a position of authority is allowed to wear anything with religious connotations. This seems to include everything from head scarves, to crucifixes, to skull caps and turbans.

To get away with this thinly disguised bigotry, the national assembly is being asked to over-ride both the Canadian Bill of Rights and Freedoms and the similar Quebec bill of rights. It seems that the guarantees of religious freedom under these rights bills are not as guaranteed as we assumed.

Immigration minister Simon Jolin-Barrett told the assembly that this bill is a logical follow-up to Quebec’s Quiet Revolution of the 1960s when Quebec threw off many of the controls the Roman Catholic Church held over education and health care. Actually, it reads more like the failed Quebec values bill of the PQ’s Pauline Marois in 2012.

At least the law-makers had the grace to also remove the large crucifix that dominated the décor of their assembly hall for many years.

What is obvious is that most Quebec voters do not know the difference between a head scarf, a hijab, a niqab or a burka. Nor do they realize that these styles of clothing are mainly cultural in origin and have little to do with religion.

But ignorance is no excuse for a bill that promotes bigotry. Premier Legault and his CAQ colleagues should be ashamed of themselves.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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