Archive for the ‘New’ Category

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.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

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.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

That Tool, O’Toole.

Friday, August 28th, 2020

Hypocrite, thy name is conservative. If you did not know where all that bullshit about equal rights at the new conservative leader’s first news conference came from, you have not been paying attention. Erin O’Toole had all the tricks lined up for him to make him conservative leader and leader of the opposition in parliament.

The Durham, Ontario MP had no sooner declared his intent to run for the federal conservative leadership, than he headed west to check with his mentor, premier Jason Kenney of Alberta. Kenney promised him solid support from the vote-rich conservative party membership across western Canada.

The party organization did its usual careless job on the voting system. They not only found themselves in a six-hour time delay—that brought out the new leader after midnight—but it was a system guaranteed to select the least controversial leader. It was the same weighted-constituency (each riding allocated 100 points). It was the same foolish preferential voting system that gave them Andrew Scheer as leader last time. You would hope that people who think they know everything would learn from their mistakes.

It was concerning, at first, that there were only four people in the race. Former playboy cabinet member, Peter MacKay was the obvious front-runner—if only for bring the best known of the candidates. As long as the two social conservatives stayed in the race, O’Toole had the chance to come through as the compromise. And they did the job required.

If you do not agree with me as to how this leadership was won, you will have to reread what O’Toole told prime minister Trudeau when they talked as leader to leader. O’Toole stressed his concern about western alienation and Jason Kenney’s need for pipelines to get his tar sands gunk to market.

Sorry, I am not impressed with the conservative choice of leader. Maybe he reminds me too much of the Porky Pig character who ended the Looney Tunes cartoons with “That’s all folks!”

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

I’m Ba-ack.

Thursday, August 27th, 2020

The reports of my demise have been greatly exaggerated. I have spent the past three weeks in hospital. I remember waking up after an operation to put my ankle back together. I was completely disoriented but conscious of the need for a washroom. I remembered where I was when a gaggle of hospital attendants were standing over me, on the washroom floor, asking how the hell I got there.

Having had only brief occasion to assess Barrie’s darling Royal Victoria Hospital in the past, I was unaware of the mess Covid-19 and the Ontario conservatives have wrought. The Ford government has created a guessing game as to what items the hospital will be short-shipped this week.

I think the biggest mistake the hospital has made is furloughing all its local volunteers who had found their way in this stupid maze of a hospital. These people, in their blue vests, were the ambassadors for the hospital to their community. They kept the charity funds flowing and the hospital operating at a high level.

Mind you, there is no earthly rationale for the abdominal food they feed their patients. One wag of a team leader told me that is how the hospital convinces patients to go home. If that had been the case, I would have been home on day two.

And what ever happened to the quaint custom of daily rounds by the doctors? I think I saw a doctor once in over three weeks. I have no idea just where these guys and gals hide. They seem to work as ancient alchemists hiding in the background, creating new and more insidious mixes of pills to confuse your bowels. Frankly, I am tired of discussing my bathroom habits with youngsters in tight scrubs who are the same age as my grandsons.

Maybe tomorrow, I will come up with something acerbic about our politicians

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

Never confuse Kenney with Trump.

Saturday, August 1st, 2020

One of my favourite writers wrote in a Toronto Star op-ed the other day that she thought Alberta premier Jason Kenney is the closest thing Canadians have to Donald Trump. As much as I hate to argue the case, Ontario’s premier Doug Ford holds those honours. Neither Ford nor Trump had the background or experience for their job. Neither is competent.

And neither Ford nor Trump can hold a candle to Kenney in terms of political experience and sleaze. Kenney knows what he is doing. From the first day, after leaving Ottawa for Alberta politics, he hit the ground running. He is a textbook demagogue.

Kenney knows how and when to stab his allies in the back. He knows how to build the coalitions of power. Sure, he panders to the one per cent. He is their lap dog. With the rest of us, he bares his teeth and dares us to challenge him.

My greatest disappointment with Linda McQuaig’s op-ed the other day was that what she was saying was old news. Haven’t Albertans known for years that any profit from the tar sands goes to out-of-province investors? Albertans get the few jobs and the crumbs from the table.

The current provincial government and previous ones have made a myth of the supposed oil treasure locked in the tar sands. To continue this false news through the $30 million being spent on Jason Kenney’s Canadian Oil Centre war room is an insult to the intelligence of Albertans and all Canadians. Albertans should be hitting the streets though, objecting to the billions of their money, Kenney and Trudeau are wasting on pipelines to nowhere!

But Kenney is busy. He would rather fight with the province’s doctors than help them fight Covid-19.

He thinks he can get the post-Trump government in Washington to approve the completion of the TC Energy pipeline connection to the Texas Gulf ports. These are but the delusions of a demagogue.

People across Canada share the concern for how repeated Alberta governments have denied the province a balanced, stable economy. The tar sands never were the answer.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

Justin’s ‘Turn to Bow’.

Friday, July 31st, 2020

Yesterday’s show from Ottawa reminded me of a small book produced by Maclean’s magazine for the 1972 federal election: Their turn to curtsy – Your turn to bow. It told you all the magazine thought you needed to know to be a knowledgeable voter. Maybe that was the intent of the latest episode of the finance committee hearings.

As usual, the Zoom technology proved its strengths and weaknesses. It is dependent on the individual participant’s Internet service—and that is a mixed bag across the country. Mind you the different ‘sets’ for each of the politicians also told a story. I felt sorry for liberal MP Julie Dzerowicz. We know the cost of real estate in Toronto is horrendous but the poor girl looked like she was in somebody’s closet.

New democrat Charley Angus’ background was the clutter of a mind occupied with other things. Yet, conservative Pierre Poilievre was regally presented with a perfectly lit set (until his back flood failed) and full make-up. Chairman Wayne Easter, MP from Prince Edward Island, had a power failure during a storm and it looked like Pierre Poilievre, deputy chair, would take over. Luckily, the power came back quickly in Malpeque.

Whomever set up the studious office setting for the prime minister should have demanded his subject get a shave and a haircut. Maybe he kept the beard because it aged him but the hair looked like a four-year old who screamed when taken to a barber. And not having a teleprompter for his opening remarks was a mistake.

But some would argue that what was said was most important. You could only wish something new was said. As one of the most experienced politicians, the NDP’s Charlie Angus used the ‘more in sorrow than in anger’ approach and it earned him a lecture from the PM who was probably among the least experienced.

The people who needed better balance were the conservatives. Michael Barrett, the newby from Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes was trying to out-nasty Pierre Poilievre. His angle of attack was whether the PM would fire the civil servants who where supposed to vet the WE charity.

Like the book from Maclean’s, I am not sure I ever read the entire content. You had to be a political person to really stick with the drama yesterday. Will it matter? Not much. Will finance minister Bill Morneau be fired? I think he should be.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

Liberals whistle past the graveyard.

Thursday, July 30th, 2020

While it might be foolish to buy stock in Trudeau and Company in Ottawa, you have to ask who is going to gain in an election? It is a serious question. It would be necessary for the opposition to get together and bring down the minority liberal government in late September. We could be into an election in November.

But I think not.

There is no doubt that Canadians are displeased with the Justin Trudeau’s gaffes and the We Charity fiasco. And the conservatives would see it as the ideal time to strike with a new leader.

The problem is that there is little reason for the Bloc Québécois to go along with them. Without a new leader, the new democrats have even less reason to get on board.

My guess is that, in such election, the liberals might lose, at most, five or six marginal seats. Would the Bloc or the new democrats gain? Not likely. A few more conservatives would be a slap on the wrist for the liberals and life, such as it is in a pandemic, would go on.

But Canadians are concerned. New voters are the ones likely to be most angry at the liberals. Sure, the liberal government was generous in trying to protect them from the coronavirus and its impact on the economy. The prime minister also won Brownie points for his briefings out of Rideau Cottage. The voters just know now that he will never be perfect. Let another national party get a half-decent leader and Justin Trudeau might be history.

We know that neither Peter MacKay nor Erin O’Toole are going to take the conservatives anywhere. The taste of Harper-style economics will keep either from reaching the brass ring. New democrat leader Jagmeet Singh is also last year’s loser. He fails to promote money, loyalty or effective policies for his party.

And one can only wonder at how the greens are doing in their search for new leadership.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

The ‘WE’ boys go to the show.

Wednesday, July 29th, 2020

After months of nothing but bad television, we finally got a taste of drama on Tuesday afternoon. It was politics at its best and its worst. It was a success and failure of technology. And it was sad.

The We charity will never recover. And as it is run, it should not. The Save the Children charity, created in 1995, hardly passed the smell test. In today’s version, as We Charity, there were questions the operators did not answer. They should have brought their lawyers with them. They were under oath and skating on some thin ice.

The questions that they had the most trouble answering were predictable. Charlie Angus of the NDP ripped into them for not registering as lobbyists. Pierre Poilievre, the cowboy francophone from Calgary, pounded them. And he had reason.

After 25 years at the helm of a charity the Kielburger boys are purported to be millionaires. Their mix of charities, for-profit companies and activities are a confused conglomerate, over which, they seem to have complete control. They have come a long way for a couple kids from Thornhill, just north of Toronto.

My surprise was that it was the younger Craig who took the lead in answering the question from the parliamentarians. He has grown glib over the years.

But did he really write that book that pushed him into prominence 25-years ago? It was hardly his public relations skills that got him there.

It was like shooting fish in a barrel for the opposition MP’s to ridicule the hiring of the prime minister’s mother as a speaker for We Days.

The show was another bad example of Zoom technology. Yet, you had to admire the careful staging, make-up and lighting of that weasel Pierre Poilievre and the extra time given to him by his conservative colleagues, in recognition of his tenacity.

The liberals gave this episode a touching ending, but too late.

I can hardly wait for part two of this show. Do you think our prime minister will get a shave and a haircut before his appearance on Thursday?

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

Maybe we have the economic answer.

Tuesday, July 28th, 2020

Not being an economist, I got into some heavy sledding this last week trying to find out more about modern monetary theory (MMT). The fascination was in seeing how this theory could move us into the future, once we defeat the coronavirus. It was certainly a delight to move forward from the awkward balancing act economist John Maynard Keynes left us with or the sour rigidity of a Milton Friedman.

And who can forget today, the disastrous laissez-faire economics of libertarian Alan Greenspan. It was said, after he left as head of the U.S. Federal Reserve, that he claimed he did not know that financial firms could not regulate themselves. Greenspan was just one more reason why they describe economics as the dismal science.

But my concern is where we are headed. Our problem is not just the pandemic. I think the cost of buying our way out of economic collapse because the disease is scaring the average citizen. Considering the number of unthinking conservatives in our society, there are going to be stupid demands for paying down debt much too soon.

But in a time of extremely low interest rates, we have a window of opportunity. We can work towards the ideal of full employment. We can invest money in the high-speed rail that Canada needs. We can accelerate the building of subways for our cities. We can develop a guaranteed annual income from the CERB program. Nobody needs to work for less than the government provides. It sets an easily established minimum wage.

A fellow commentator on the Left Coast was complaining to me recently that returning Canada to a true liberal democracy might just be a dream. I try not to be quite so pessimistic. I guess I dream harder.

All I know is that Justin Trudeau and other neoliberals such as finance minister Bill Morneau are not inclined to get us where we need to go. The new democrats are a yesterday party. We need change. Canada needs real progressives in office.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

MP’s paid too much for too little.

Monday, July 27th, 2020

In talking with other liberals a few days ago, the question was raised; Why are we paying these liberal MPs so much just to vote as they are told? They have serious questions to ask Justin Trudeau. They have to demand the resignation of finance minister Bill Morneau. Our MPs have to get off their asses and do the job for which Canadians are paying them.

The chap who asked the question about pay, worked damn hard to elect a liberal in our riding last election. I also know he contributed generously to the liberal campaign. And what are the thanks he gets?

The rank and file liberals across Canada appear to be just as gutless as their members of parliament. These people have been denied their right to vote on Justin Trudeau’s custodianship of the job of leader. They are sent endless e-mails asking for more money. They are constantly embarrassed by the PM’s elitism and his faux pas.

As liberals, we have the right to ask for more. We do not get out and work for our liberal candidate at election time just to be ignored for the next four years. (Asking us for money does not qualify as communication, thank you.)

Liberals are not people who are just happy with the status quo. Party workers include large numbers of progressives. These are people who are eager for new initiatives, forward thinking, social justice, concern for the disadvantaged and the advancement of Canada among world nations.

Our members of parliament are paid more than $150,000 a year in basic salary. This is equivalent to the salary of a vice-president of a medium sized firm or, at least, a senior manager. It is not what you pay for people to vote as they are told. Caucus solidarity does not mean everyone has to act stupid.

Caucus meetings are where MPs can raise their concerns. Acting like sheep just means they are going to get shorn.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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