Archive for the ‘Provincial Politics’ Category

Jason Kenney is ‘All In’ on Keystone XL.

Tuesday, July 7th, 2020

Alberta premier Jason Kenney just went ‘all in’ against a stacked deck. Most of us thought Jason Kenney was smarter than that. He seems to be betting that Donald Trump will win a second term as president of the U.S. in November. It would be the only way that the Keystone XL pipeline will ever be completed.

But Kenney gets to gamble with Albertan’s money. So, what is another billion? He is paying down $1.5 billion of treasury money and offering a $6 billion loan guarantee to connect the pieces of the pipeline running from Hardisty, Alberta to Steele City, Nebraska. From there, it can connect to existing networks and reach Texas Gulf shipping points.

He watched the kick-off of building the Alberta leg of the pipeline, from Oyen, Alberta, to the U.S. border last week. He was like a proud papa peering into the nursery. This is his baby.

But he lies.

He told the media that his people were already hectoring the American democratic party leaders to make sure the pipeline gets built, no matter who wins the November election.

Jason Kenney conveniently forgets that the presumptive democratic candidate in November is former Obama vice-president Joe Biden. Biden has already made it very clear that he will cancel the Canadian pipeline. It was denied repeatedly by president Obama and Biden will finish the job.

The Keystone XL project has been under repeatedly-delayed, piece-by-piece construction, for the past decade. It has been fought by environmental groups and by American Indian tribes. President Obama cancelled it a couple times. The courts have delayed it. Donald Trump gave it the go-ahead.

And the simple truth is that the Americans neither need nor want the pipeline. It is needed by Alberta to help get diluted bitumen from the Alberta tar sands to Texas Gulf ports for shipping to world markets. Americans have more than enough fracked oil and bitumen of their own. They do not need the Alberta product.

Jason Kenney has gone all in and Alberta is the loser.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

Del Duca Dumbs Down.

Sunday, July 5th, 2020

It should have been obvious. Ontario liberal leader Steven Del Duca does not know how to run a political party. So, he copies Justin Trudeau, who has no idea either.

Remember back when Justin Trudeau introduced a 50 per cent female cabinet in 2015. He told the media that it was because it was 2015. Has anyone asked him about that recently?

And here is Del Duca, five years later, getting the Ontario liberal provincial council to bribe female and youth candidates to run in the next provincial election. He also got the council to follow Trudeau’s error in eliminating party membership fees. I am a paid-up member. He owes me some money back. I paid for two years in 2019 so I could vote for someone other than Del Duca to run the party.

Del Duca also got the party council to lower registration fees for women and candidates under 30. What is not clear is why the party should demand money from anyone who wants to be a candidate? It should be the local riding association that decides on who will be their candidate. They get out a lot more supporters that way.

And what was not clear was why male candidates over 30 should pay the party $2500, female candidates over 30 should pay $1250 and candidates under 30 should only pay $500. Whether female candidates under 30 should only pay $250, was not stated. Frankly, with all the crap the party puts candidates through these days, the party should pay the candidates.

When I ran for the party some 50 years ago, I had a great crowd out to the uncontested nomination meeting. I was not required to pay the party for the ‘honour’ of running. The party never sent me any money either. I had good riding support but it still took me the next year to pay off my bills.

I think the way that Trudeau and now Del Duca run things for liberals is attracting the wrong candidates.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

In the Wild—West of Toronto.

Thursday, June 25th, 2020

Who knew? When Barrie’s Patrick Brown, was ejected from Queen’s Park early in 2018, he picked Peel Region for his comeback. Rejected by his fellow conservatives in the legislature, Brown’s instinct was to return to municipal politics. He knows little else. He had no idea though that he had picked a region of lawlessness similar to the American West.

He had little choice. With a strong mayor already in place in Barrie, there was no hope in his home town. Brown needed an open field. His first choice was to run for the newly created elected position of chair of Peel Region. The former Peel County included the area that became the City of Mississauga, the older City of Brampton and the more rural area of Caledon.

Appalled at the idea of someone like Brown running the Peel Region, the new conservative Ontario premier Doug Ford blocked the election. He ruled the regional council would continue to appoint its own chair.

That left Brown with the only alternative of running for the mayoralty in Bampton. His connections with the South Asian community in Brampton gave him a base vote. Plus being a conservative in former premier Bill Davis’ home town did not hurt either.

But Brown had little knowledge of the problems in the region. With an area twice that of Toronto and about half the population, Peel Region has less than half the police to cover it. And about half of the population of the region was born outside of Canada. That statistic is not reflected in the members of the Peel Region police.

The other day in Brampton, Peel Region police broke into a Muslim gentleman’s home shouting in English and with tasers and guns blazing. The family was concerned about the man (who did not speak English) being off his meds and the police killed him.

And now we hear the other day, a female officer in Mississauga pulled out her gun and shot a black woman—who had already been tasered and was lying on the ground.

Things in Peel Region have been going sideways since Brown got there.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

Dougie has “lost the plot.”

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2020

A chap from ‘Ole Blighty’ was talking the other day about the United Kingdom’s prime minister Boris Johnson. He said “Bo-Jo has lost the plot.” The description fits too many politicians today. Johnson is just one of many. America’s Trump certainly fits the part. The Donald seems to have never read the script. The point is that there are too many pseudo politicians today who think the play is about them. And it is more serious the closer they are to home.

Consider Ontario premier Doug Ford. He has the news media all excited that they are seeing a new Doug Ford because of the job he appears to be doing on the pandemic.

They seem to forget that this is the candidate who was least qualified for the job of premier in Ontario. He came into the job two years ago in total ignorance of what the position entailed. His first serious action was to get even with the Toronto politicians who ridiculed him when he was a Toronto councillor in the seat of his late brother Rob. In a truly destructive act, he cut the number of Toronto city council seats in half when the election process was already underway.

His first cabinet was a collection of prima donnas and blowhards. They were playing their own games and he soon had to start replacing bad actors. Caroline Mulroney quickly proved that her training and experience in New York was of little use in Ontario. But again, legal experience was hardly the consideration when Dougie replaced Mulroney with a small-town ward healer from Severn, up near Orillia. He put a trusted sycophant in finance and replaced a fumbling education minister with a slick operator who had interned with Stephen Harper.

But what really happened was the coronavirus. Both Dougie and his health minister found they had no choice but follow the lead of Ottawa and the health professionals. The only thing that would keep Dougie from getting into serious trouble in the next two years would be if the pandemic lasted that long.

The point is, Dougie does not know how to be a good premier.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

The new Ford is still a Model T.

Monday, June 15th, 2020

Not to be confused with products of the Ford Motor Company, today’s comment is about Ontario premier Doug Ford. It harks back a hundred years to that time when you could have any colour of Ford Model T, as long as it was black. And you need to face facts Ontario, the model Ford you bought in the 2018 provincial election is the same ignorant, blowhard you are seeing today.

Just because an incautious news media tells you Doug Ford has changed, why should you believe it? Why do you think he usually appears for those Queen’s Park briefings with two or three of his more credible ministers? This does not display self-confidence. This is a man relishing his time of control but ready to step aside and let someone else take the blame.

His favourite fall-guy is minister of education, Stephen Lecce. While the pandemic takes away the headlines, Lecce has been quietly giving in to teachers’ demands for when classes are returned. And watching him in action, you have to admit, the pandemic has taken much of the wind from Lecce’s sails.

Ford might think he has been smart to keep health minister Christine Elliott in the forefront. If only that lady knew how to dress for her job and control her facial muscles when listening to Ford speak, she would have a future in politics.

Using economic development minister Vic Fedeli for some supposed financial credibility in those one-act TV plays at Queen’s Park is probably Ford’s weakest move. It is more like inviting a viper to a friendly picnic in the park.

But Doug Ford has not changed. He is biding his time. Nobody wants this pandemic over and done with any sooner than the label salesman from Toronto. This nasty man has more mindless conservative extremist measures to inflict on Ontario. Be ready, be watchful.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

The future is ours.

Wednesday, May 27th, 2020

As the song asks, “How ya gonna keep ‘em down on the farm, after they’ve seen Paree?” That was a song that many believed after the First World War. It is also a lament for those politicians who think they can give the public greater freedoms and then expect to be able to take them back. There is too much blowback.

Take the simplest of changes. Ontario premier Doug Ford slipped one in recently that I did not notice. It is called off-sale of alcohol by bars and restaurants. It means that a customer, ordering a pick-up or delivery order can include a bottle or so of appropriate wines or beers to go with the order. It is what we used to call bootlegging.

I was quite pleased to see this convenience on the web site of one of my favourite restaurants. That is smart marketing. Not that the restaurant had the advantage for long. When one leads, the others will follow. The only mistake I see being made is that the restaurants are trying to get away with their normal doubling of the price of the wine. They can probably get away with a $3 or $4 convenience charge but doubling the price of a decent wine is a bit stiff. You can justify a higher mark-up when it is served at dinner in the restaurant but not when it is an off-sale.

As it is, I am getting used to ordering my weekly box of goodies from the liquor control board. They have the order ready for me when I get to the store—no line-up, no waiting. I would be happier though if the LCBO would fix that damn ordering program. It is clunky, over-sensitive and badly designed.

Over the years in the computer industry, I never wrote a line of code but, at different times I had programmers reporting to me on projects. They would bring me their completed code for this or that part of the project. The objective was to see if I could find fault in how it carried the function. I did, too often!

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

The killing ground at the LTCs.

Monday, May 25th, 2020

The cull continues. Just what is the purpose of our long-term care (LTC) facilities? The figures are shocking. We sent in the army. All the army got was covid-19.

Britain’s Economist asked around, checking covid-19 deaths in LTC facilities in European countries. The people at the Economist were shocked to find that Belgium had more than 50 per cent of covid-19 deaths at their LTCs. I am not. I remember once being taken for a tour through a facility in Belgium. It was dingy and depressing but surprisingly well staffed. The only thing that really bothered me was the floors were divided by language. Even in life’s most difficult of times, the Flemish do not speak to the Walloons.

But Canada has those Belgians beaten. Over 80 per cent of our covid-19 deaths have been at LTC facilities. We even beat the Americans. Despite the lack of coordination in fighting the pandemic and the high percentage of deaths, the Americans have just 35 per cent of covid-19 deaths in nursing homes. Maybe they put more money into them.

As much as some might gloat over Jason Kenney getting called out on his assumption that Alberta had already beaten off the pandemic, the situation in Alberta is a concern we all share. Just the combination of the outbreaks at LTCs and meat packing plants is gruesome.

While Quebec also shares the problem of LTCs, its higher level of incidents of covid-19 are probably caused by its one-week earlier Spring break. That break from school down in Florida cost a lot more than expected.

There is no denying that a large part of the problem in LTCs is the desperate need for more full-time staff. And if they are people who can take pride in their work, they are worth any amount.

But it is up to all of us to make sure there are sufficient, properly run LTC facilities in our provinces to meet the need. We are all potentially in need of them.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

Who will bell Ford?

Tuesday, May 12th, 2020

Before you bell the cat, you had better learn something of its habits. This is not an animal that has been de-clawed nor rendered toothless. Nor has Ontario premier Doug Ford. You have to remember that Ford is a bully and a braggart and there are no Marquess of Queensbury rules in his erratic approach to politics.

While we have no idea yet on what the conservatives will build their next provincial campaign, we do know something about the party leaders who will be involved. And we have already mentioned the conservative’s Doug Ford. He has gained a bit of credibility during the pandemic but who knows what he will do to rattle voters before the June, 2022 provincial election.

We also have an idea who his opponents might be. The leader of the opposition is Andrea Horwath of the new democratic party. We have all seen her in inaction and if her party is happy with her leading the party, the public obviously is not. The only reason she became leader of the opposition in Ontario is because liberal Kathleen Wynne announced her party’s defeat before the public got a chance to vote. Horwath was the only alternative for those wary of Ford.

Kathleen Wynn’s replacement is Steven Del Duca, the former MPP from Vaughan. He has yet to seek a seat in the legislature. This makes it difficult for him to get much publicity or to ask questions of the conservative government.

From what I know about Del Duca and his key advisors is that they failed to contain or block Ford and his conservatives in 2018. I was not even impressed with how they made Del Duca leader of the party. He is right wing and from a different era of politics.

I am coming to believe that we will be going into a different political era post pandemic. I hardly think of Ford being the answer in the new politics. Nor do I see Horwath or Del Duca as being any improvement.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

Facing facts for Ford’s fortunes.

Saturday, May 9th, 2020

So, you think Ontario premier Doug Ford is riding the white charger towards a 2022 election victory? You are probably deluding your self. Much can happen in the next two years. And there is more than enough of the old-Ford poking through the current veneer to convince us that he has hardly traded in his crude, rude and bombastic approach to politics. What Ford has shown too many times is his impatience for political realities.

What he has yet to realize is that if you want to drain the swamp at Queen’s Park, you had better have planned ahead for questions, such as, ‘Where are the alligators going to live?’.

But pre-planning is not Ford’s forte. He is, at best, an uneducated, seat-of-the-pants salesman. When it is your father’s business, you can sometimes get away with bluff and bluster. And his late brother left him with a limited understanding of politics. His first 18 months at Queen’s Park were not so easy.

Ford was rescued by a pandemic. He started out bluffing it, and then looked around and realized that everyone else was just as confused, and as scared as he was. He also saw that the smart politicians were listening to the medical experts and following their instructions. He could do that. With some rough spots and a bit of bluster now and then, he got with the program.

Unlike prime minister Trudeau who does a single at the Rideau Cottage cuckoo clock, Ford uses political and civil service back-up for his briefings. Sometimes, it is worth it to watch health minister Christine Elliott’s limited range of expressions as Ford does his spiel

Ford must have liked it when he started getting kudos on how good a job he is doing. That could go to his head.

And he looked silly as he vacillated on the question of people going to their cottages. The economy of the lake country of Ontario depends on that traffic north that marks holiday times.

In politics, it is win some, lose some. It is still a long way to the next election in Ontario.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

And children should lead them.

Monday, May 4th, 2020

The educators in Quebec might be smarter than we thought. Sending the children back to school is not as foolhardy as you might think. It will do much for the sanity of parents. It is even more beneficial for the children. These are immature minds that need to learn. They need the interaction with their peers. They need the structure of the classroom.

And there is also risk. We have been told that children are less likely to be carriers or to become sick with covid-19. The major concern is for them to take the virus home with them or pass it to their teachers.

If I were a Quebec parent sending children off to school, I would want decontamination materials ready at the door when they got home. I would decontaminate them first and then hug them.

But it would be unlikely to take long to see if the opening is premature or not. There needs to be some constant testing. No society can afford to make teaching any riskier, than it is already. Nor do we take unnecessary risks with our children.

It appears that Quebec and Denmark will be the pioneering jurisdictions that will either prove or disprove the case. Denmark is doing a gradual opening, starting with younger children this month. Quebec is opening its schools after the May 24 weekend.

A key to the Quebec program will be that the parents are not required to send their children to school so soon. It is optional. This is likely to reduce class sizes which will make it easier for teachers to maintain some separation and to speed up the learning process. The students have already missed too many weeks of school.

It also needs to be noted that Quebec is still suffering the ravages of the virus. The worst of it is in long-term care facilities and seniors’ residences. The logic for Quebec’s Legault government is that if the schools can become functional so can day-care facilities and that means, employees can be heading back to work. And the sooner that happens, the sooner we can start work on an economic recovery.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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