Archive for the ‘Provincial Politics’ Category

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

The anger of Alberta.

Sunday, November 18th, 2018

Canadians saw something of the growing anger and distrust of the people of Calgary the other day. There is no reason to expect more from the rest of the province. The non-binding plebiscite in Calgary was a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on a bid for the 2026 winter Olympics. The answer dashed the hopes of the brave and venturesome. It said many disappointing things about the city that Canadians have so admired over the years.

But the answer on the Olympics surprised nobody. It is the same bitchiness behind it that permeates the Petroleum Club. It is the same depression that holds back the NDP provincial government of Rachel Notley. It reflects the sour misogyny of that slammed together united conservative party.

What do Albertans think that useless UCP head Jason Kenney is going to do that premier Rachel Notley cannot? Who would be stupid enough to believe more right-wing conservatives are going to solve the province’s economic doldrums? How could anyone, so stupidly, put their faith in tar-sands bitumen and not understand the economic hopes for a winter Olympics bid?

Calgary voters let anger and suspicion and false information get in the way of what was best for their city. These are the same people who hope to send a bunch of do-nothing, brain-dead conservatives to the legislature in Edmonton next year. They have been electing the same class of incompetents for the past 60 years. When is enough, enough?

Frankly, changing the name of the party does nothing. Changing the predictability of the attitude of the legislature could do wonders.

And when did they outlaw common sense in the foothills of the Rockies? And what has God got in reserve for Albertans once the tar sands can no longer be exploited? Did they think Leduc No. 1 was supposed to come with an endless supply of natural resources to feed the greed? You only get a few gifts from God and you should learn to treat them with more respect.  Where is your industry, your thinking, your creativity and your hard work that is needed to help build a diversified economy?

And where do you get off with this Western Canada Select brand that you seem to think of as a Holy Grail. It is just that disgustingly polluting bitumen boys and girls, that is destroying your beautiful province!

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Doug Ford’s mean streak.

Saturday, November 17th, 2018

It seems that Douglas Ford Jr.’s mother never told him that what goes around comes around. That is not just a homily. It is a warning. The Ontario premier is asking for trouble with his ham-fisted nastiness.

This guy thinks he can use the premier’s office to get even for real or imagined slights over the years. He has much to learn methinks.

Most of the survivors at city hall are keeping a wary eye open for low-flying turds from the Ontario government. After cutting the number of wards in half mid-election, earlier this year, nobody would be surprised by Dougie’s next salvo.

This all dates back to Dougie’s dying brother who still wanted one more kick at the mayoral can. It was not to be and they shamed Dougie when he tried to stand in for his crack-smoking brother.

We are all aware that the Queen’s Park terrorists will be coming to wrest the subways of Toronto away from what Dougie considers the city hall incompetents. How all that will play out will keep the games interesting for a few more years.

But Doug Ford has more enemies than just the downtown Toronto councillors. He has a special hatred for liberals. With the Queen’s Park contingent of the liberals holding only seven seats in the legislature, they are not entitled to the staffing and accoutrements of a political party. The rules were that they needed eight warm bodies in caucus to be privileged to be recognized. That is not good enough for Dougie. He is changing the rules. He did not want a dismissed conservative or a disgruntled NDPer crossing the floor and turning the liberals into a party. He is upping the ante to having to have 12 members. That is a streak of meanness to be remembered.

With the ongoing firings and turmoil in the premier’s office, what was once a well-oiled machine at Queen’s Park is becoming a spectator sport for the news media.

And Dougie’s vendetta with Brampton Brown is getting far warmer with Brown’s tell-all book getting its 15-minutes of fame.

There is one quote from Brown’s book that can be considered accurate. It was Brown’s comment that Ford did not win the election from Kathleen Wynne. It was Wynne that lost it.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Is it the HOW or the WHO?

Friday, November 9th, 2018

If the citizens of British Columbia are formally debating their referendum on voting systems, there is one resolution that needs to be debated. The question is “Be it resolved that it is more important to ensure you have the right people to elect than to worry about the mechanics for electing them.” I would like to debate for the positive.

At a time when fewer eligible voters are going to the polls, in North America, it might be wrong to suggest that it is the voting systems that present the problem.

Going back in history, we could look at what happened in the Weimar Republic in 1932. Hitler and the Brown Shirts gained control of the Reichstag with 33 per cent of the votes under a proportional voting system. That was the last free vote in Germany until after the Second World War. Does it seem fair to blame the voting system?

Is it not also a stretch to suggest that First-Past-the-Post (FPTP) has visited deceit, duplicity, corruption and decay on our wonderful country? It would seem we are using rhetoric instead of logic. People might to do that no matter how they get elected. It is far more likely that our safety net is the control we exercise over the political parties.

And we can control those parties best under a system that allows us to select the people running for election—call it a primary or nomination meeting—it is an opportunity for citizens to examine the qualifications of proposed candidates and make a selection. And citizens should also take part in the development of party policies. To allow a leader to just wing it with his promises through the election process, as has happened in the U.S.A. two years ago and more recently in Ontario, is risky.

If you believe in strong governments that can get the job done, I worry about strong governments that you do not know what they will do next.

To those of you who think you can solve the problem by never electing a majority government. I wish you were right.

Over the years, it has been said many times that the voters get the government that they deserve. It has also been said, more than once, that they did not deserve what they got.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Our friends in B.C have been ‘RUP’ted.

Monday, November 5th, 2018

Not being from the Wet coast as our friends there sometimes call their beautiful province, we had to get our information about the current British Columbia voting referendum from the Internet. It made sense until we found out that one of the possible voting systems was called RUP.

This was quite intriguing until I found out that it means Rural-Urban Proportional. It separates the rural mice from the town mice and lets them vote in different ways to come up with what might be a proportional legislature. The devil is in the details though and I found they were inflicting Single Transferable Voting (STV) on the townies while the farmers get to use the also confusing Mixed Member Proportional (MMP). It struck me as something like a game of snakes and ladders. The townies get to climb the ladders and the farmers slide down the snakes.

But the web site never explained the logic behind this screwball idea of using two systems at one time. Why? And, what was most disturbing, was that all the really important decisions about how it would work were to be made by the legislature after the referendum.

Looking at MMP was old home week for a guy who helped defeat that ridiculous idea in Ontario 11 years ago. MMP still puts people in the legislature for whom nobody voted. And the type of list system to be used is to be decided by the legislature?

Dual Member Proportional (DMP) voting is an interesting version of how we elected two-member aldermanic wards in Toronto in the last century. The only difference was that we did not list the parties. Thinking back to all the strategies that were used to cheat that system, it was a good thing it was discontinued.

All of these systems, other than first-past-the-post (FPTP), use lists or a party-selected order of preference. All, other than FPTP, use complicated mathematics to determine the winners. What is most disturbing is that these proportional systems take away the voters right to not only vote for but to help choose the people for whom they can vote. It denies the voters rights that we have had since confederation to help choose our candidates.

I believe that Canadians in B.C. should think long and hard about who would benefit before they start giving up these rights.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

The confidence of Jason Kenney.

Saturday, November 3rd, 2018

Alberta’s leader of the consolidated conservatives, Jason Kenney, is a strange man. I have never envisioned him as a person who brings people together. He has always seemed more interested in creating divisions. Since Stephen Harper first assigned him to the job of building bridges to Canada’s immigrant population, I have watched his career with interest.

Kenney followed a path I had taken decades earlier in finding ways to communicate effectively with Canada’s foreign-language media. He also developed the human wall backgrounds for Harper with the mix of ethnic colors and symbols.

He went much further when he arranged for the unofficial parliamentary ambassadors to major areas of the world. We saw the fruits of that scheme when MP Patrick Brown swamped the Ontario conservative party memberships with immigrants from the Indian sub-continent. What grated was that he did all that early organizing in India on the federal taxpayers’ dime.

But I can assure you that when Kenney talks about establishing war rooms, that is not an idea with which I would agree. The very idea of a war room or even an operational headquarters is contrary to my concept of a winning campaign. A campaign is won or lost on the door steps of the voters.

Kenney has been talking lately about using political war rooms as a propaganda base for the war between the environmentalists and the oil industry. What Kenney is ignoring is the danger of the public hearing different messages from the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP). Considering the lies propagated by CAPP, it is hard to say what lies are left open for Kenney to add to the public confusion.

CAPP has been particularly successful in getting the CBC and other Canadian news media to describe ‘tar sands’ as ‘oil sands’ and diluted tar-sands bitumen as “oil.” It has been surprisingly successful in muting the complaints about Husky Oil’s diluted bitumen spill in the North Saskatchewan River. (Did you know that the city of Prince Albert has paid to install a second water reservoir for when the North Saskatchewan River gets polluted again.)

But how Jason Kenney is going to get the oil producers to work with the politicians is the question? CAPP has been trying to hide the mounting cleanup costs to the Alberta taxpayers for quite a few years. The cost of cleaning up the vast settling ponds, the open-pit scarring and abandoned mining facilities has now been authoritatively estimated as high as $260 billion. That would be five times the average annual budget for the province. How can politicians hide that?

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Ford fights his false phantoms.

Monday, October 29th, 2018

Premier Ford of Ontario must think business people in the province are generally stupid. At an Ontario Chamber of Commerce sponsored luncheon, he told the business people there that the Ontario economy has been stagnant, businesses are closing, freezing people out of better jobs and that powerful forces are trying to thwart his government’s improvements. This is in conflict with the fact that, despite the premier’s paranoia, the Ontario economy has been doing quite well.

All we can conclude from the rest of Dougie’s speech is that Donald Trump in the United States might not be the biggest liar in politics today.

Why Dougie told these business executives that he “fights for the little guy” was a little hard to understand? There might not have been anyone in the room who thinks of himself as a “little guy.”

And why does Dougie think a $15 minimum wage is a disincentive for business? Over the past two years, the liberal government raised the minimum wage from $11.40 to $14.00 and Ontario now has the lowest unemployment in a generation. Dougie told the business people that he was cancelling the increase to $15.00 per hour in 2019 along with other improvements in employment conditions.

Would you believe that he is also cancelling the requirement for business to allow employees two sick days in a year? Who does he think he is helping with that?

What the premier was doing at this function in Niagara-on-the-Lake last Friday was giving one of his campaign-type speeches. Why he would give a campaign speech to a business audience defies understanding. He certainly did not treat them as business people. He belittled them as though they were some of the free-loaders from Ford Nation. He used hyperbole and B.S. He told lies—deliberate untruths, easily checked.

Prominent in his speech was a virulent attack on prime minister Trudeau and his answer to the Ford provincial government cancelling the ‘cap and trade’ system with California and Quebec. It means that industries in Ontario putting out carbon from manufacturing or through use of the product (such as gasoline) will pay an initial $20 per ton of carbon emissions. Dougie thinks it is just a tax but it is being returned to Ontario taxpayers in the form of a lump sum payment with income taxes starting in April 2019. (Dougie gets a bit apoplectic about that.)

When conservative plants around the room stood to applaud the premier after his speech, the business people also stood to make a hasty retreat, in case Dougie was passing the hat.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Let’s have ‘Whack-a-Mole’ voting.

Sunday, October 28th, 2018

Blame Chantal Hébert. The other day she described the voting reform question as a whack-a-mole game. It just keeps popping up and needs to get a whack. The only reason Chantal noted it was because neophyte premier François Legault of the CAQ in Quebec made the same rash promise to reform how Quebec votes before he knew he would win. Now he just needs a way to back out gracefully.

Most Canadians, who have any opinion on this subject, think prime minister Justin Trudeau let them down. He did (foolishly) promise the voters that 2015 would be the last time they would use first-past-the-post voting. While he took the blame, it was really the opposition parties on the special committee of the commons that dumped on Justin’s promise.

Now we learn that Prince Edward Island might ask Islanders what they want. If they are smart they will settle for a reeve and some councillors and give the provincial problems to New Brunswick.

And we hear from the Wet Coast that the question of how to vote is being asked again. Maybe it will be third time lucky! You would think that they would finally understand the problems when the Greens are running their NDP government. Or they might never learn

It seems every time I write about this subject I get inundated by readers across the country claiming I am a Philistine trying to protect first-past-the-post. I even conceded recently that I would be happy to help promote run-off elections so that we could have majority choice voting. That just got me more complaints.

The problem is that people, for some reason, buy into the fiction that if your vote is not for the winner in an election, it is a wasted vote. As silly as that sounds, that is their argument against first-past-the-post.

No vote is ever wasted in a democracy. We can all have our say. And yes, it is very rare that governments are elected by a majority under first-past-the-post. If you really want to have a majority vote, then you have run-off elections. That is carrying your democracy further.

But having local representation—is to me, the very essence of our democracy. You can send the smartest person in town to parliament or the stupidest. It is your choice. Denying you that choice is the road to anarchy.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

A government built on falsehoods.

Saturday, October 27th, 2018

Martin Regg Cohn of the Toronto Star described the Ontario conservatives as ageist the other day. He believes that Doug Ford’s Tories are the party of only the old people. He comes to this conclusion apparently because the inordinate number of dumb moves the Ford government is making that are having a serious impact on young people.

Regg Cohn should be more patient. Dougie and the gang will get around to his age group soon enough.

Because “Government for the people” is just a meaningless slogan. Ford obviously felt that a slogan such as “Make Ontario Great Again” would be too easily recognized as copied from Donald Trump’s campaign in the United States.

But, the same as Donald Trump found out south of the border, lies work today. All you have to do is tell lies that fit the bias of the target group. You have to find people who are fed up with politics anyway. With fewer and fewer people voting these days, those people are not hard to find. They will vote if you just give them a cause—the nastier the cause, the better.

The favourite cause of the ignorant today is anti-environmentalism. They see the greenies and tree-huggers as being against job creation and adding more taxes for gas for your pickup. They hate newcomers for taking jobs nobody really wants anyway. They resent automation because they do not understand it. And they resent people who find computers easy to use.

One of Dougie’s problems is that he thinks the only people working for a minimum wage are high school-aged kids at Tims or McDonalds. They are not. We could show you the problem in a half-block walk on Spadina Avenue in Toronto were immigrant women with families are working for minimum wage in sweat shops above the restaurants and grocery stores. And they only wish the employer did not steal some of that minimum pay back from them.

The only age problem Dougie and his ‘Deplorables’ have is that they are mostly middle-aged men who think all university students live in their parents’ basements.

Just think of all the fun next year when Dougie lines up with Larry (Alberta conservative leader Jason Kenney), Curly (federal conservative leader ‘Chuckles’ Scheer) and Moe (premier of Saskatchewan). That comedy trio are going to take on Justin Trudeau. And Canadians can sit on the sidelines and cheer on our favourite team.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Kudos to Vancouver’s Kennedy Stewart.

Friday, October 26th, 2018

It took guts. That was no walk in the park for a new democrat to give up his seat in parliament and challenge for the Vancouver mayoralty, as an independent. It was a tough fight with no guarantees. And the remaining problem is that there is now a progressive in the mayoralty with an equally split right and left-wing council.

Stewart might be the first independent mayor in Vancouver in more than 30 years but, if he plays his cards carefully, the right-wingers on council will be reluctant to vote against him. The five are all from the highly partisan ‘non-partisan Association, known as the NPA. With only ten councillors in total, the others are three Greens and one each from two left-leaning parties. (And you thought premier John Horgan had a tenuous situation.)

Stewart defeated the NPA mayoralty candidate by close to 1000 votes. He is definitely the mayor the city needs for the problems ahead. Few will be neutral as the Trudeau government tries to force the expansion of the Trans-Mountain pipeline to Burnaby.

Mind you, Trudeau seems happy to let tempers cool on the pipeline while the judicial demand for reconsideration is taking place. The earliest there will be any construction activity is expected in March or April of 2019. One of Trudeau’s major problems is that there are growing elements from within his own liberal party that are resisting the expansion.

When the pipeline is twinned, equipped with heaters and higher-pressure pumps, it will be capable of bringing close to 900,000 barrels per day across the Rockies to Burrard Inlet. This will be barrels per day, mainly of diluted tar sands bitumen, the most polluting of all oil sources.

Mining bitumen requires heating vast quantities of water and forcing it down to the layers of bitumen strata and bringing it up to the surface. This creates vast settling ponds of greasy water that can kill wild life. Bitumen contains about three times the carbon of normal crude oil and this creates huge piles of what is called bitumen slag in the refining process. This is why the oil companies prefer to send it to third world refineries where nobody cares about the pollution.

With more spokespeople such as Kennedy Stewart, we will be heard.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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