Archive for the ‘New’ Category

So, who wants an election?

Monday, September 7th, 2020

Americans do it every four years. Canadians sometimes do it more often. We are talking about federal elections here. Americans have never seen one like this one: the vote seems all locked down two months before the actual election. Given that intention and the determination of the voters, Donald Trump should be out on his ass in just two months.

There is a ‘maybe’ in that statement. It takes almost three months for the transition from one president to the next anyway. And what if Trump baulks? He likes being president. What happens if all his supporters do vote twice?

And what happens in Canada if the liberals and conservatives have a tie? Do we have to settle for the prime minister the Bloc, the NDP and the greens choose?

Maybe in Canada we have to wait and see what Justin Trudeau’s liberals have in mind on which to spend money. One thing for sure, the conservatives have never saved us much, as they seem to like giving all the tax breaks to their rich friends.

The rule of thumb is that you never worry about how much a government wants to spend until they scare the bond rating services. The opposition are just fear-mongering.

Many people are looking forward to just how green this new liberal program will be. It will hardly matter though if Trudeau does not dump the TransMountain pipeline that is being twinned to carry three times the amount of oil sands bitumen over the Rockies.

The one thing for sure is that there will be much sabre rattling about an election on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border until we hear this new liberal plan.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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A Paywall for All?

Sunday, September 6th, 2020

It looks as though the news media people who are trying to collect from Facebook, Google, et al for using their output are going to regret it. Having government involved could cost them far more than they have gained. We have to face the fact that governments are better at collecting money for their efforts than the rest of us.

And media people need to face the fact that what is one person’s garbage can be another person’s treasure. Databases, archives and collections have been gathered on computers from many years before the standardization of the World Wide Web. And for every verifiable fact there are probably two or three times the dubious data.

It is the source of the information that matters. I expect that within reasonable time we will have algorithms that will measure the validity of the data for us. In the meantime, we will just put our trust in the paywalls, we can afford.

Or contrarily, we can put our trust in the sources, our enemies hate. My favourite non-North American source is the Economist. CNN in the U.S. and the Toronto Star in Canada. I am probably showing my age by staying mainly with print media.

I once wasted some time on Twitter because my grandson suggested it. Frankly, I could not see the point.

I recently spent three weeks in the hospital with nothing better to do than watch CBC News Channel. For the life of me, I could not believe I put myself through that experience.

But pick your poison. The government is soon going to get into the act and I think we will all regret it.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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The boy who called Wolf.

Saturday, September 5th, 2020

It is important to remember better days in politics. Like the time I had a laugh with conservative premier Bill Davis. I was able to introduce him to a large luncheon at Toronto’s Royal York Hotel as “The man on my far right, William Davis, Premier of Ontario.” His retort, from the end of the head table, was that it was the only place to be.

What was obvious to people at that event was that Bill Davis and I could be friends. And we were not going to let some differences in politics interfere with that.

It is something that is missing in to-day’s politics. What we are seeing is a constant harangue of vitriolic exchanges—particularly in Ottawa.

It is to be regretted that the new conservative leader Erin O’Toole felt he had to come out swinging against prime minister Trudeau. And it is beginning to look like he will soon have a coterie of like-minded conservatives backing him up.

I think the nastiest of his back-ups will be that right-wing cowboy from Calgary with the French name: Pierre Poilievre. I have never seen a conservative finance critic enjoy himself so much.

But like the boy who called wolf just a few too many times. I think the conservative attacks will soon lose impact, What Bill Davis proved in Ontario, those years ago was not that bland works—but it is humanity that works. Starting out with some integrity would be a welcome sign.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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What would make Mr. Trump smile?

Friday, September 4th, 2020

Have you noticed how dour the U.S. president is looking in all his recent pictures? The guy has forgotten how to smile. The only time we saw him smirk, even a little, was during that disgusting scene on the south lawn of the White House when his hand-picked audience where screaming: ‘Four more years!

Do you think Mr. Trump is worried about how he is going to deliver on that four more years? He was hardly out on top of the polls four years ago at this time either, And all us pundits of the left, right and centre were writing him off as a lost cause. What we saw was a lack of discipline. We saw the lack of dedication among his supporters.

And why would we suspect a guy who spends his hours of insomnia writing stupid claims in Twitter to have any possibilities? Why would any self-respecting republican want to vote for a sociopath? Isn’t this guy in denial over covid-19? He brushes it off. Isn’t that what we would all like to do?

As a Canadian, I agree with Bob Hepburn of the Toronto Star. I think Mr. Trump has a thing for Canada. He does not like that young twirp of a prime minister we have. He thinks he is rude. He sees our daily two-billion in trade across the Canada-U.S. border as living off U.S. largesse.

Maybe he was not able to make as much as he thought he should off that Trump Tower in Toronto?

But, no matter how much Mr. Trump has it in for Canada, we would be much better off than Americans if Trump wins in November. Trump would put the racial tensions in America into high gear with his ‘law and order campaign. In a pandemic, voter suppression would be easy if you control the post office.

Whether we live above or below the Canada-U.S. border, we have to all be very concerned about the U.S. election. We have much at stake.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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Doing it the old-fashioned way…

Thursday, September 3rd, 2020

In taking over the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada in the 1970s, we did it the old-fashioned way: We cared. There was no involvement for government. There was no need to institutionalize a voice for the charitable sector across government. And, if anyone thought to ask, we could have told them what a dumb idea it was to give one charity money to give out money to other charities to create short-term jobs.

One of the first moves I made as head of the MS Society was to sit down with the chief medical officer of health for Canada and ask a lot of questions. I remember my last question. I asked if there was anything I could do for him? He said keep asking questions.

At the time the basic research into MS was equalled by the government. We were both spending about $180,000. per year on multiple sclerosis-related research. The society’s fund-raisers had already raised the $180,000 for the next year and were coasting.  At least they did until they were told it looked like we would need at least $5 million.

What we had done was bring together all the top neurological disease research specialists in Canada at a Quebec resort. They were asked how much they would need if they could get serious about MS research. They saw $5 million as the going in guess. In three years, we were up to $15,000,000.

The next chore was to light a fire under the society across Canada. We built up the society where we were already strong. We reformed the weak links. We built new divisions. Cancer and Heart were the leaders in the charity sweepstakes but MS soon joined them.

And we did it without the expertise of the policy framework needed today. Opportunity was the challenge. Those who see the opportunity are the ones to get it done.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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Tooling along with O’Toole.

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2020

It is ‘go easy’ time on the new leader of Canada’s conservatives. Erin O’Toole is getting the easy ride ahead of any election. The media are throwing him the soft lobs to try to give them some of the thought processes he will be using for tougher questions during a campaign.

It is an amusing thought that the media are crediting him with the supposedly brilliant strategy that propelled him past Peter MacKay to win. What is brilliant about a strategy that says you need to come second to everyone else? That was his strategy and he stuck to it.

It is damn lucky for Canada’s conservatives that Canada does not use a foolish multiple-choice voting system for our national elections. We would end up with a new democrat or green government if we did that.

You would think that our conservatives would stop using multiple choice systems now that they have experienced the same type of result each time. First time, they got ‘Chuckles’ Scheer. Now they get a Tool,

This is just what Canada’s social conservatives wanted to hear—just how liberal O’Toole is about abortions and same sex marriage. This guy is going to get strung up by his own supporters. These social conservatives are the people who put him in their party’s driver’s seat.

This guy is going to have to think long and heard before pushing Justin Trudeau into a fall election. In fact, he might even have to think some more about what would happen in an election next year.

O’Toole is going to have to use more than just the occasional gaff by the liberal leader as his springboard to an election.

Trudeau won a lot of kudos for his handling of the pandemic with those cuckoo clock presentations out of Rideau Cottage. He has a lot of electoral muscle left with women, youth and urban voters. If he can get rid of the TransMountain pipeline albatross, he has clear sailing.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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If you cannot honour our past…

Tuesday, September 1st, 2020

How can we expect you to honour our future?

Just get your Goddamn hands off John A. Macdonald. Nobody has the right to damage or deface a statue of an honoured Canadian. We have so damn few real heroes in Canada, we need to cherish the ones we have. You keep your grubby hands off mine and I will help protect yours.

Last Saturday, a couple hundred, so-called protestors, in Montreal, pulled down the statue of John A. Macdonald. And the ignorant local police just watched.

It seems these people had started out on a peaceful little march to defund the police (what ever that means). Since they had also conveniently remembered to bring bolt wrenches, spray paint and ropes along on their innocent little protest, they put them to use.

Good on Montreal mayor Valerie Plante that she condemned the action. And tell that trouble-maker in Edmonton that he can put up a statue to Earnest Manning in front of the Alberta Legislature. This country needs a good laugh.

But what we do not need is assholes who do not understand the racial attitudes of 150 years ago. We have come a long way since then. Yes, John A. Macdonald was a racist, who had little understanding of the needs of our aboriginal peoples. Sir John was also a drunk and a scoundrel.

But he was our drunk and our scoundrel. And you leave him alone.

When Macdonald and his cabinet enacted the Indian Act, they thought they were doing something good. Today, we know that they really screwed things up. Isn’t hindsight wonderful!

And, frankly, I think many Canadians are fed up with these wet-behind-the-ears, juveniles telling us Canadians we are racist. Nor do we believe that our federal, provincial or municipal police are systemically racist. In fact, I am not all that sure that these accusers could provide a cogent explanation of the descriptor ‘systemically racist.’


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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Oh America!

Monday, August 31st, 2020

Watching events on the south side of the White House the other night was traumatic. My American mother had taught all six of her children that the Canada-U.S. border was largely irrelevant. We have all crossed that border so many times throughout out our lifetimes.

It was for our 50th wedding anniversary that I took my wife on a tourist’s tour of Washington. I had been in that city so many times on business over the years, I had never had the opportunity to enjoy it and its monuments as a tourist.

It was on the way back from that trip, during an otherwise pleasant drive through the Appalachians, that I also discovered that New York State still allowed speed traps on its highways to improve the profitability of local municipalities. I have not driven in New York State since.

But as for the abomination on the south lawn of the White House the other day, it was just once more that Mr. Trump has given the bird to America. It reminded me of the images of the Reichstadium in Berlin, when rigged out for rallies by the Nazi youth movement in the late 1930s. Massed flags such as that have always spelled fascism to me.

The worst was having his bottle-blond daughter introduce him. What turned my stomach was her claim that the “The best is yet to come.”

But then the entire show that evening was like staying at a Holiday Inn. You got what you expected.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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A sharp turn to the left?

Sunday, August 30th, 2020

Bloomberg News must be concerned. The business news people are reporting, that under the new management of Justin Trudeau and Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s economy will take a decisive lurch to the left. The only delaying factor that might have held up that lurch was obviously Bill Morneau, whom Freeland replaced as finance minister.

Bloomberg now considers Ms. Freeland firmly established as the prime minister’s most trusted lieutenant and “Ms. Fix-It.” They are betting that Canada’s economy will be ‘equitable and green’ under the new finance minister.

As much as I hate to rain on Ms. Freeland’s parade, it is not all that simple. The major stumbling point is that Goddamn TransMountain pipeline. Exactly how many billions the prime minister is willing to spend on that abomination has yet to be determined. There is certainly nothing green or equitable about that!

Freeland has to recognize that negotiating with that scuzzball Jason Kenney in Alberta is a no-win situation. That guy would hate Trudeau even if he adopted him and made him his heir.

There will be many challenges flung at Ms. Freeland in her new position. The least of these challenges will be as to her qualifications for the job. The writing of Plutocrats in 2012 might just be considered envy rather than credentials.

Nor should we be so quick to laud her negotiations with the Trump regime in the United States over the new NAFTA rules. You just do what you should always do with a bully: walk around him.

I figure that there are two jobs for Ms. Freeland. Number one is to get us through this pandemic. Number two is to set this nation on a path that pulls our country together and united. Canada has much to accomplish in the years ahead. Let us do it together.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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A fond farewell to Joe Atkinson.

Saturday, August 29th, 2020

As an undeniable Torontonian, I have always had a special place for the Toronto Star. Sure, I have worked for the Globe and Mail, written for the long-dead Toronto Telegram but my oracle was the Star. As Canada’s Numero Uno daily newspaper, it has been my lynch pin with my country and my principles. The Star ran a eulogy for the Atkinson Principles at the beginning of August in the form of a full-page advertisement for the paper.

With the headline: Different times. It also went on to try to embrace “Enduring truths.” These are truths that the owners of the Toronto Star for the past 50 years have now abandoned. They are also my truths:

  1. A strong, united and independent Canada. (We need to keep working on that one.)
  2. Social Justice. (An ongoing battle.)
  3. Individual and civil liberties. (For all.)
  4. Community and civic engagement. (And always check both sides of arguments.)
  5. The rights of working people. (Make that all people.)
  6. The necessary role of government. (Not too big and not too small, it has to be just right.)

But will the new owners respect these more than a century-old truths? Why would they? These people are in the money game. They are players, not journalists. They are gambling on the potential for profit from a precious commodity, information. And information is only as good as its source.

I feel the five families who rescued Joe Atkinson’s legacy over 50 years ago have let us down. They have ended their struggle to keep the legacy alive. Their intent was honourable but, in the end, they have failed us.

We can look at what Paul Godfrey and his American friends have done to PostMedia for their own ends and wonder how long the new owners of the Star will try to work within the Atkinson legacy.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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