Archive for the ‘New’ Category

Where bullies wear blue.

Wednesday, November 28th, 2018

Welcome to Queen’s Park. This is that island in the centre of Toronto that carries the weight of Ontario’s provincial government. The uniform of the day on this island of pecker heads is a blue suit. A white shirt or blouse is appropriate and a tie is obligatory for the boys, only when doing house duty. These are our rulers? These are Ontario’s elite? They are the product of voting against instead of voting for.

We had nobody to vote for and we scraped the bottom of the barrel. The voters voted against the status quo and soiled themselves. They voted for a party that said it was for the people and forgot to ask who these people were. They elected bullies in blue.

Our premier bully, Doug Ford, seems to get great delight out of going after some of his old enemies in Toronto city hall. It was the same time as he stopped former conservative leader, the disgraced Patrick Brown, from running to chair Peel Region. That was when Brown neatly flipped over to the Brampton mayoralty—winning Brampton by a Sikh’s whisker. Mind you, they are still trying to figure out what it cost winners, challengers and wannabes in Toronto to end up in just half the number of wards.

Toronto is still quaking, waiting for the other shoe to drop on their Toronto subways. Dougie has his heart set on playing with real trains. He has promised that he will take over the Toronto subways and create a regional system that will have just one stop for each line.

But Dougie’s major problem as Ontario’s “Kingfish’ is that he keeps telling people that Ontario is open for business and it shuts down behind him. Will Oshawa be the same without General Motors? Will a provincial government have any leverage to attract business under the new U.S., Mexico, Canada Agreement that replaces NAFTA?

Do you remember the time years ago when the commercials sang out that you should “See the U.S.A. in your Chevrolet.” Now we can put it to music to “See Canada in your Camry.” Or how about “Forging a new relationship with your Ford 150”?

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

American capitalism betrays us.

Tuesday, November 27th, 2018

Since 1908, when Sam McLaughlin started building auto bodies in Oshawa for William Durant’s Buicks, Canada has been part of what became General Motors. Through good times and bad times, in World Wars and in boom times Canadians have supported GM. Today, we stand betrayed.

The relationship was always a consideration through the Auto Pact and the first Canada-U.S. free trade agreement and then the North American Free Trade Agreement. We always trusted General Motors. It was always a consideration. We willingly put up the loans that GM needed to survive the American debacle of capitalism in 2008.

We should have been alerted when General Motors did not take up all the incentives the previous Ontario government was offering for the development of electric cars. To now say that Canada cannot be part of the electric trend is insulting.

But we know that American capitalism is uncaring. American industry is an oligarchy without morals. It cares not for honour.

American capitalism funded Donald Trump as president. American capitalism and American politics share an unholy corruption that works against the real needs of the American masses.

And America is a land that insults and belittles its neighbours. It is a land that references its Gods but is steeped in bigotry. It is a land that corrupts politicians, police and parsons. It is where lawyers are amused by the overwhelming corruption.

Canadians spent a long time struggling with the confusion of negotiating a better free trade agreement. They were dealing with public servants who also had to struggle with their own leadership.

But the point all along was that such a deal has to be based on fairness, not greed. It must be based on honesty, not advantage. It needs to be based on all parties building something better together.

But General Motors’ oligarchs have wiped away the frosting on the cake. They have told those Canadians: Fuck you.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Biting the hand with the handouts.

Monday, November 26th, 2018

We have warned Justin Trudeau repeatedly that those so-called independent senators are going to bite him on the bum. Blame him for all those Christmas presents that Canada Post cannot deliver by Christmas this year. Every day of further delay is thousands of  packages undelivered.

But elitism cannot be rushed. Justin Trudeau made it clear back when he became the elite leader of Canada’s liberals that henceforth, the senators would not be liberals. And the slaves were freed.

And of course, they have minds of their own and they are always eager to emphasize their freedom. They were nominated by the elite committee that chose them as elite enough. They were then selected from the list of acceptable elites by the prime minister. They were welcomed to the senate by other elites.

And to sweeten the deal, they are paid the same salary and perks as an elected member of parliament. They even get a generous pension when they have to retire at 75.

But as an elite they answer to nobody. The government leader in the senate is not their boss. He has to be nice to them to get their cooperation. They might be considered nobodies by the conservative senators but they can outvote them.

They know that they can take an extra day to consider sending the postal workers back to work if they feel like it. It shows Canadians that they are independent and do not like being pushed around.

And so what, if Justin Trudeau is turning purple over there in the prime minister’s office? He is one of those elected people and therefore not as much an elite as the senators who do not have to get elected.

Here is an idea for you people who like the idea of proportional elections. Why do you not fight for the senate to be a house representing the proportion for each political party in each province in the general election voting. I would agree if these senators were nominated by the political parties and selected by registered voters for the individual parties so that they could be appointed senators for the term of the parliament. Think about it. There might be the germ of an idea there. It might work, as long as Canada’s elected parliamentarians always have the final word.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Doppelgangers don’t do it.

Sunday, November 25th, 2018

There is a tendency among political leaders to have someone very much like themselves to serve as their chief of staff. It gives them confidence that the person will react as they do and carry out solutions much the same as their principal. It is a lazy person’s solution. And how smart is it, to pay two salaries for the same opinion?

The notion of this person being something of a doppelganger is based on a person and their pet, over time, coming to look like each other.

In fact, in Ontario, premier Doug Ford and his chief of staff, Dean French, are two arrogant white men in suits. They are too much alike. It is just that Doug Ford lets French do the dirty jobs. French phoning the head of Ontario Power Generation to tell him to fire former conservative leader Patrick Brown’s former chief of staff might have been the ultimate in irony.

The claim that French might have directed the police to make raids on illegal pot shops was far more serious. The idea of any politico directly directing the police in carrying out their policing duties is anathema to how Canadians see their police doing their duty. It carries the risk of being interpreted as something that happens in a police state.

There seems to be no such problems for prime minister Justin Trudeau. In this age of feminism, it would be fascinating to learn if his chief of staff, Katie Telford, makes as much as his principle secretary, Gerald Butts. It is obvious that both make over $200,000 and that is quite a bit more than the much-touted middle-class job.

But the doppelganger danger still pertains. The charmed circle with which Justin Trudeau surrounds himself is isolating him from argument and reality. We now have elite selections of senators, elite selections of judges, elite selections for boards and commissions. It would never hurt to have a modicum of political common sense included in making some of these appointments.

But both Ontario’s Doug Ford and Ottawa’s Justin Trudeau have too much ego for that. Both need to have some better exposure to contrary thinking. There does not seem to be much danger of that.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Competing with Donald Trump?

Saturday, November 24th, 2018

It is unlikely that Canadians had any idea just how much American president Donald Trump would cost them. Our great-great grand children will be paying off Canada’s national debt. And if anyone could explain what good it will do, we would be rushing out to ring all the church bells across the land.

Not being one to worry too much about billions of dollars of sustainable debt, I would let it all fly by me. The only problem is the latest salvo from Mr. Trudeau’s elitist finance minister Bill Morneau added another $18 billion of debt when what he was really doing was stuffing the turkey at the wrong end. He was ignoring the fact that the front end of a turkey has limited capacity for stuffing.

The last thing that Morneau’s fall statement did was invest in middle-class jobs, so that was what they called the document.

After many years in the business of public relations, I can assure you that calling something by a positive name does not make it so. Simply stated, the Good News Bible is not all good news. All those ancients in that book are dead and no longer responsible for the misguided screw-up they made of our world.

What our finance guru Morneau was doing was catering to his pals in industry. He was competing with the business tax cuts of that ass they have for president in the United States. They want to see who can have the lowest taxes for industry. It was all in aid of better quarterly reports for shareholders. That is a suckers’ game. Who wants to have a contest to see who can give away the most to people who will always be whining for more?

If I wanted to win an election next year, I would go for a little more balance. Sure, give industry some tax saving so they know you care and then balance it by giving them more customers. Companies are always happiest when they have lots of customers wanting to give them money. That is how you stuff both ends of the turkey.

And you do it because companies do not vote. Keep companies happy and keep them creating jobs but it is the consumer who votes. Seniors like to vote. If Mr. Morneau was nicer to them, some might vote liberal.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

You don’t have to go to St. Mike’s to be bullied.

Friday, November 23rd, 2018

The original intent was to ignore the bad public relations of St. Michael’s College School. It amazes me that the current situation there could be handled so badly. The principal and president might have taken the fall because they might have been a few generations behind times but it is the students who are feeling the pressure and it is the fault of their parents.

It is the parents who spend $20,000 or more per year to send their kid to exclusive schools, who are buying into false promises. It might be nice that they can spend lots to show they care but the kid can screw up there just as easily as at the public school around the corner.

The theory with these exclusionary schools is that your kid makes friends that will help him or her throughout adulthood after you have cashed in. Have you no confidence in your kid at all? Will s/he be traumatized with these feelings of inadequacy through a lifetime? Where’s your confidence?

Of course, you want the best for your kid. If you had told me, when my dear, sweet daughter was 15 and at a private school, that she would turn out later in life to be an excellent mother and a respected financial advisor, I would not have stopped laughing for a week.

With both a son and a daughter who had some experience of private schools, I can tell you that private schools are a very bad idea. They are an uncontrolled industry that sucks discretionary money out of the economy. Sure, there are kids with special needs. We should help them. And we should remember that public schools are always a work in progress. They must come first.

And, while we are at it, what qualifies any parent to home school their kid? I do not care how good and smart a teacher they might be. The days of the one-room school are long gone. Kids need interaction with a peer group. They need to socialize. They need to experience.

And do not get me going on religious schools. The worst thing we can do to children is to tell them they are better or different—or tell them Sally down the street is different because of religion. Canada is a secular society. Religious schools make a travesty of our equal treatment for all. They build walls of bigotry. They do not teach, they live in the past and attempt to condition.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

The Bitumen Business: Not for the timid.

Thursday, November 22nd, 2018

As much as we try to keep up to date on the business of bitumen, it is not because we want to report every dip and dive in the industry. Far from it. The problem is keeping track of what the tar sands exploiters and their public relations people at the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) are calling their product this week.

I sort of hoped that they would stick with ‘Western Canada Select’ but everyone knows that is just bitumen. They keep trying to call it ‘western crude’ or ‘heavy crude’ but nobody is sure what that is these days. All we know is that it fetches about $50 a barrel less than real crude oil from American fracking or the Middle-East.

And no, there is no joy in Alberta with discounted bitumen selling at less that $15 per barrel.

At current prices, it is hard to understand why any of these well-heeled companies would want to stay in the bitumen business for too long. It is so bad that they actually met as an industry with the Alberta government, in the person of the premier, to discuss possible solutions.

Some of the companies actually pressured the province to order them to curtail operations and reduce production by about 10 per cent across the board. The companies pushing this included heavy hitters such as Canadian Natural Resources, Cenovus Energy and Nexen Energy. The problem is that integrated companies such as Husky, Imperial Oil (ExxonMobil), Shell and Suncor are making substantial profits from the bitumen as they own the refineries and retail operations that can use the low-cost bitumen product. The only problem these companies face is getting their bitumen to the refineries—and the pollution their refineries are causing.

Listening to both sides left the Solomon-like premier with no option but to suggest that she would see if she can buy some more rail cars to carry the tar sands product to market.

But the situation of the non-integrated bitumen producers reminded me of the old story of the Prairie wheat farmer. His wife ran off with a pedlar, his daughter married a socialist, his local grain elevator burned down and nobody would buy his wheat. A CBC reporter asked him what he was going to do. The farmer thought about it and finally said, “I guess I’ll just go to the Gulf Coast of Florida this winter.”

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

And a possum shall lead them.

Wednesday, November 21st, 2018

Are you old enough to remember American Walt Kelly’s sage words: “We have met the enemy and he is us.”? And if you knew what those words meant, there is still hope. Cartoonist Kelly died in 1973 but people still make pilgrimages to the Okefenokee Swamp to seek the wisdom of his possum.

Maybe it was just an up-dated Pogo that was the inspiration for Master Yoda in the Star Wars series.

But it was the tight mid-term races in Florida and Georgia that made me think of Walt Kelly’s denizens of the Okefenokee. The swamp area straddles the north-south border of the two states and encompasses more than 1700 square kilometres of wetlands.  Despite the Okefenokee being mostly protected under federal and state parks, it continues to be polluted by inconsiderate tourists and locals who consider the parks theirs to despoil. That must be like the difference between declaring an area a protected wetland and providing the funds to help protect it.

It is also similar to the mid-term election recounts that came down heavily on the side of the people doing the recounts.

Someone needs to explain the American electoral system to me. How is that so different from the system in Russia where Mr. Putin and his friends count their own ballots? At least in Russia, they do not say that the opponent lost by less than one per cent. That just rubs salt in the already grievous wound.

Somehow, the results of those American mid-term elections still feel like one-step forward and two-steps back. There is a strong feeling that the status quo prevailed.

Yes, we have been told that things will be different with a democrat-controlled House of Representatives. Somehow, we expect there can be no guarantee of that.

In two years, there will be another election in the U.S. of A. We expect the Republicans will be too cowed or too stupid to try to dump Trump. Will he run for re-election with another horde at the gates of America? Or will another incident just happen that will set him up? Will bigotry continue to work for him? Will nobody call him out for his lies and what an ass he is?  Or was Pogo right all along: the enemy is us.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Chuckles’ confusion of conservatives.

Tuesday, November 20th, 2018

Federal conservative leader Andrew ‘Chuckles’ Scheer knows that a bunch of whales is a ‘pod,’ and a group of geese a ‘gaggle.’ We are guessing that he has also found out that a collection of conservatives might be a ‘confusion.’ He was at a celebration with an Ontario confusion of conservatives the other day and he would have been smarter to have stayed at Stornoway.

It is not as though Doug Ford’s black conservative heart is not in the right place but his lack of experience and political reasoning and seasoning is showing. The other day Dougie’s finance guy Fideli dumped all over Ontario francophones as though they did not matter. He took away the proposed French language university that the liberals had proposed. He abolished the French language commissioner who made sure that Ontario francophones are treated fairly.

It is not as though Chuckles is that concerned about Ontario francophones—they rarely vote conservative anyway. It is just that Quebeckers are very patronizing of their Ontario amis (that is French for friends, Dougie). Chuckles Scheer simply cannot afford to have Quebecers annoyed with all conservatives just because of Ontario premier Ford being such a klutz.

Mind you Dougie is not continuing to do so well with the anglophones in Ontario either. Chuckles might be worried needlessly. Next fall will be Ontario voters’ first chance to comment on their conservative regime at Queen’s Park.

And it is not as though Chuckles could complain to Brian Mulroney that his kid is not doing her job. We thought it was a joke when Dougie made Caroline Mulroney responsible for francophone affairs as well as attorney general. She is doing exactly the job that Dougie expected: absolutely nothing. After all she has probably not spoken French except as a tourist since she was 7-years old. She got her education and legal training in the United States.

The bad news is that Quebec premier François Legault came to Toronto yesterday expecting some answers from Dougie about what the hell he thinks he is doing?  Legault has more than enough to be annoyed with Dougie about. Fideli’s fiasco last week was just icing on the cake.

Reports are that in their two-hour meeting yesterday, Ford and Legault agreed to disagree about Ford’s treatment of francophones in Ontario. The next meeting between the two business-man premiers might not be as friendly.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

President Trump’s Achilles Heel.

Monday, November 19th, 2018

It does in all pretenders eventually. U.S. President Donald Trump has no clue as to how a competent person would handle the vicissitudes of the job that he found himself in by accident. The world is watching as he gradually slows in his responses to the slights he might have noted, misunderstood or imagined. His usual vitriol is less forceful. The twits are less biting. His pace slowing, he is aging in a role that he does not fully comprehend.

But it is the man’s ego that is his Achilles Heel. He is too much of a narcissist to be president of the Americans. He cannot understand that the job is more important than the person in it. It is the reason that so much pomp and ceremony goes with the position. Americans exaggerate their presidents and pay their honours to the position.

But foreign leaders have their own games they play. They all want something from America when they visit or when they meet in lofty conclaves. Some might just settle for respect. That can be like cash in the bank when they get home. And are you dealing with a buyer or a seller? Everybody wants something.

The American president also has to travel. Air Force One makes the travel easier but it also has a leash trailing, a heavy load of constant communications. Mind you, nobody knew it would provide an Internet connection to the juvenile likes of a keyboard warrior such as Donald Trump.

The world waited for Trump to react to words carefully selected by French president Macron the other day. The Twitter feed after their meeting in Paris was predictable. The American president chose to deliberately misunderstand Macron’s call for a European army to meet the needs of the European Union’s defence with or without American military assistance.

The ill-considered Trump tweet not only insulted the French but every American ally in two world wars.

It is probably not a criminal offence in the United States of America to be a narcissist. Self love can be misguided and a weakness of character and Mr. Trump does carry it to excess.

But it, in itself, is probably not grounds for impeachment. Too bad.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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