Archive for the ‘Provincial Politics’ Category

Jason Kenney would rather fight.

Tuesday, January 8th, 2019

The last thing Canada needs is another provincial leader spoiling for a fight. Alberta opposition leader Jason Kenney was on Global Television’s West Block last Sunday laying out his battle plan and various lies for his anti-Trudeau, Anti-Quebec and anti-British Columbia campaign. This is, of course, provided his reconstructed conservatives win the Alberta election, expected in May.

Kenny wants to join Doug Ford of Ontario, Scott Moe of Saskatchewan and Andrew Scheer leader of the federal conservatives in tearing into the Trudeau liberals in the federal election expected in October. If Mr. Moe, Mr. Ford and Mr. Kenney were honest about it, you would expect the gentlemen to be resigning their provincial jobs and finding an electoral district that might have them as the conservative candidate. There is no doubt but that Mr. Scheer will need all the help he can get.

But for the three provincial gentlemen to interfere in the federal game with slander, false news and hyperbole from the sidelines is bad politics and a betrayal of the people they purport to represent.

First of all, the liberal government has made it clear that the carbon pricing to be charged on major polluters selling fossil fuels in their many forms, will be refunded to Canadian taxpayers in their taxes. The objective is to show people the real price of these fuels and the need to fight global warming. Mr. Scheer and his chorus can keep denying global warming and the increasing danger to our planet and they might eventually join the fight, but by then, hell will likely be frozen over.

But that nasty bastard Kenney has been lying to people since he was in college in San Francisco telling Catholic co-eds that they could not learn about abortion. He certainly does not admit to the highly polluting problems with the products of the Alberta tar sands. He resents that the prime minister bought the Trans-Mountain pipeline to help solve the problems for Alberta and says that the PM is now blocking the pipeline.

The problems with the Trans-Mountain pipeline are far more serious than the whims of the prime minister. The problems have far more to do with the sloppy job the Calgary-based National Energy Board (NEB) used to do on pipelines for Alberta. The NEB is no longer a lap dog for the oil industry.

And what is particularly outrageous is Kenney blaming Quebec for blocking the Energy East pipeline through that province. The proposal was nothing but a tissue of lies for the tar sands people and it was legitimately stopped. Kenney wants Albertans to hate Quebec.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Wynne can stay put for a while.

Monday, January 7th, 2019

All commentators do it. They give advice. The quality of that advice is something for you to decide. This thought came up recently when Bob Hepburn of the Toronto Star suggested that former liberal premier Kathleen Wynne “will have to go.” His reasoning is interesting but believe me, her position today is neither an embarrassment nor a matter of any concern.

As much as Ms. Wynne was an annoyance in her final days in office, it is helpful right now for the party to have a member handy who understands the levers available to somebody in the premier’s office. The cut-down caucus also needs all the help it can get. She is doing the right thing, for a change

Bob Hepburn is an astute observer. He would have no idea of the problems facing a cut-down caucus. And Wynne will be long gone when the next election comes around in 2022.

The point is that the real changes that need to be made in how the liberals run their party, pay the party’s bills, defines its policies, chooses its leadership and its candidates have to be made by the party as a whole. It can no longer be a top-down party. It cannot be run autocratically by its leader. Ontario voters will have had enough of that style of leadership from Doug Ford and his conservatives.

After four years of Doug Ford incompetence, Ontario voters will be ready to switch to a democratically run liberal party. After all, if you want a government that is run “for the people” why would you look to a leader who is a tyrant.

Voters in Ontario have a right to a government that pledges clear and positive programs for its citizens. This includes health care that is fairly funded for all concerned, pharmacare that is hand in glove with Medicare, free education for all and a worry-free life for seniors. The opportunities are for the citizens in Ontario, not for the politicians and their friends.

Ontario is the engine that drives the Canadian economy, it has to be strong for the country to be strong.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Ontario Liberalism: Part 2.

Saturday, January 5th, 2019

In choosing a direction for Ontario liberals, we should look backwards only enough to ensure that the freedom of the individual is still the core concern. Conservatism, neoconservatism and neoliberalism give business too much power over the individual and socialism gives the collective too much power over the individual. Liberalism is based on the inherent power of one.

It means the power in the party needs to devolve to the individuals in the electoral district associations. It means there should be no interference from the party hierarchy or the party leader. (Advice yes, direction no.) It means no new policy direction can be taken by the leader without the support of the policy committee of the party. It means regular policy meetings by the party to discuss and agree on policy direction.

There has to be a small but necessary membership fee in the party to hold someone’s place in the party and the right to attend regional and national meetings. The person must also sign a testimonial that s/he believes in the basic tenets of liberalism.

It is recognized that the party’s legislative wing requires a level of discipline to carry out the party’s objectives. It should be the majority of the caucus that decides when an individual member is not cooperating in the party objectives. This can be appealed to the party executive in an open hearing if the individual member so desires.

The political parties in the provinces should be funded by the public on a voting ratio in the previous election for each electoral district. This public funding should be audited and reported to the public as a public trust. Funds used by persons seeking a party nomination must be subject to audit and reporting.

The only other comment on this subject is to the name of the party. It seems that provincial liberal parties vary across Canada. Some are more right-wing than others. Some are more progressive than others.

If we want a progressive and liberal party in Ontario, we could consider changing the name. We could call ourselves Social Democratic, Liberal Democrats or the Opportunity Party. Let’s argue about that later.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

The entitlement of being Alberta.

Friday, January 4th, 2019

Have you ever felt the cold of Calgary in the loneliness of two AM walking about six city blocks from the Calgary Herald offices to your hotel? They said it was minus 35 Fahrenheit. I was wearing a Toronto top coat and low-cut shoes and was determined to step in front of the first taxi I saw. There were none.

Why I was walking that night is irrelevant to the fact that the experience did little to undermine my love for Alberta. I had been stationed at Cold Lake in the Air Force, I have friends in Calgary and Edmonton and have been there on business and to visit hundreds of times. Alberta is a vital part of our Canada.

And I really get annoyed with those jerks who whine about taking Alberta out of Confederation. You will get as much sympathy for that dumb idea as I give the péquiste in Quebec, none. All you prove is that the people of Newfoundland and Labrador are a lot smarter than you.

There is a lot wrong today with our constitution that was conceived over 150 years ago. It is a difficult plan to change but not impossible.

The important thing to remember is that Canada owes you nothing. You owe Canada. This is a land of opportunity. It is a land of great beauty. It is a peaceful land where you can raise and educate your children. Where the kids can play street hockey and have the best of medical care.

Nothing is more churlish than complaining because the federal government does not jump to meet unreasonable demands. And why bitch at the rest of Canada because the bottom has fallen out of the price of bitumen. If you want all the benefits of the country’s natural resources, you have to accept the risks.

You have known all along that bitumen is a desperation solution for when the world runs out of crude oil. Fracking scares me but I lack the geological training to understand its impacts. It has made the U.S. self sufficient in oil but it will probably run dry at some stage and maybe there will still be a role for some bitumen.

“Maybe” is the operative word. The Alberta government needs to stop running those ridiculous television commercials calling bitumen “oil” and saying that a pipeline for bitumen benefits Canada. They need to talk seriously with the environmentalists about the risks, and who really benefits.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Ontario Liberalism: Part 1.

Thursday, January 3rd, 2019

In the travel business, it is always best to choose where you are going first and then you choose the person to serve as guide. It just makes sense. It is the same in politics. Is it really practical to choose a leader for your party before you know where the party is headed?

Former Ontario liberal premier Dalton McGinty enforcer, Greg Sorbara, tells reporters that the Ontario liberals should have a leadership contest this year. That is Greg for you. He always was more interested in the fight than the ‘why’ of it. This is the guy who cancelled two gas fired electrical plants in Mississauga and Oakville rather than taking a chance on losing two legislative seats. And who cares if it cost the taxpayers hundreds of millions and dogged the liberal government for the next six years?

What Ontario liberals have to come to grips with is the degree of neoliberalism to which the party has succumbed. Admittedly, neoliberalism was necessary to bring the Canadian economy to the level that could support high immigration and rapid growth after World War II. Back then, business cooperated with government and government knew where it was going

Today though, we have to recognize that the excesses caused by the unnecessary freedom of business and capital is causing serious damage to our Canadian society. When they can no longer trust business, people look to government. And when they no longer trust their politicians, all bets are off.

We saw this growing distrust in business and in politicians during the late 1900s. Promises were hollow from both. Business, large and small, failed us. General Motors is a good example. The huge auto company was rescued by our governments only to then disrespect the very people who built and bought their products. The orderly structure of thousands of lives was turned and twisted. Their future was insecure.

People have been acting out their frustrations with various efforts since the Occupy movement. People have found that the financial markets dance only for the One Per Cent. We learned that the millennium threat to computers was false news. Social media is now the political Pablum. New political parties offer simplistic solutions and voters move to them. Stand-fast governments are turfed. Their neoliberalism approach has much to answer for!

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

To Brampton Town with Brown.

Wednesday, December 26th, 2018

Barrie’s sorry excuse for a newspaper, the weekly Advance, has announced that Brampton mayor Patrick Brown is its newsmaker of the year. Coincidently the Barrie library had a copy of Brown’s tell-all book Take Down: The attempted political assassination of Patrick Brown—by none other than Patrick Brown himself. It was my intent to spend some time this week reading it.

It is with some regret that I report that Mr. Brown appears to have had no ghost writer, nor helpful editor beyond the spell check of his computer. You can only stomach so much of a politician’s self pity and whining. I gave up after about 150 pages and skimmed the rest.

The best part of the book is the cover—credited to a Mathew Flute. They should have ripped up the inside story. If Patrick Brown thinks this book is going to inform, convince, proselytize or draw any sympathy, he is deluding himself.

What is deeply concerning is that in 50 years of writing about politics, I would never refer to a politician as “bat-shit crazy.” If Mr. Brown holds anything back in the book, it is modesty and self-control.

One reason to read the book was to see if there were any clues as to the perpetrators of the CTV Television Network’s allegations. All it seems to indicate is how far that once esteemed network has gone down hill with Bell Canada in control. Patrick might have thought he had liberal enemies but he has far more vicious enemies in the conservative party. And a word of advice to him from a liberal is that there are much stronger connections between CTV News and certain well-known conservatives than any liberals.

The most serious errors in this entire fiasco were those by Brown himself. He is a politician who flies in the directions the wind takes him. He is considered a good retail politician because he knows and understand what needs to be done and has the determination to do it. God forbid he should ever have to work for a living.

But watching him at that news conference during the evening of January 25, 2018, I felt sorry for him. Sure, I disliked him as a person and as a politician, but he did not deserve this.

On bad advice, badly prepared, an emotional Patrick Brown read a bad speech and committed political suicide.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

A Christmas Tale for Doug Ford.

Tuesday, December 25th, 2018

Doug Ford tells us he is something of a Christian and that might mean he has been looking forward to this Christmas. He has been on a roll since January this year when the gates to the premier’s job opened up to him. He was even anointed by the controversial Prayer Palace Church to become leader of Ontario’s progressive conservatives. Until then, he had nothing more exciting to look forward to this year than another attempt to defeat John Tory for the Toronto mayoralty.

But he won the conservative leadership instead. The world was his oyster, so to speak. He was launched into the June election with little time to prepare and less time to think. Mind you, thinking is not something that Doug Ford does well.

Ford is better with salesman’s slogans. No thinking involved there, He was going to ‘Axe the Tax,’ Fire the ‘Six-million Dollar Man,’ have ‘Buck a Beer’ and be ‘For the People.’ It is the populist style of people such as Donald Trump and it also works for Doug Ford.

Maybe there were slogans he forgot. There must have been one about cutting Toronto Council to small town size. He needed to work on that one but he did not forget to do it. Unfortunately, the election campaign had already started for 47 council seats when Dougie arbitrarily cut the number of councillors back to 25. “Damn the expense,” said Dougie.

The consummate populist, Dougie has been full of surprises for the people of Ontario. Like the salesman, he is, he sure knows how to run up the bills. He fired the ‘six-million dollar man’ at Hydro One and costs to-date are estimated at more than $150 million. Much of that cost was in penalties for a failed takeover of an American hydro company in the State of Washington.

And then there is the attempt to compromise the Ontario Provincial Police. That blunder is ongoing and we will have to wait to see the outcome.

But today’s story is special. It has something to do with the ghost of his late brother Rob Ford visiting Dougie on Christmas Eve. It seems there will be three more ghosts coming to visit Dougie. They will be the ghosts of Christmas’ past, present and future. It can only portend something good if Dougie comes running out of his house on Christmas morning looking for a place to buy a goose.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

And a Very Merry to B.C.

Saturday, December 22nd, 2018

And here we were worried that our friends out on the Left Coast were being had! They got a really nice pre-Christmas present the other day. They got rid of one of the worst suggestions we had seen for a form of proportional voting. The citizens wisely said “No” in the referendum.

And if you expected more than 42.6 per cent of those eligible to mail in a ballot (on time), you had delusions about the interest in the subject. Admittedly there is a small core group who are agitating for proportional voting but it is very likely that they have not considered all the ramifications.

It would the same as Justin Trudeau in the 2015 election, standing there saying it was the last time we would use first-past-the-post voting. It was not his decision to make and he had obviously not given the promise the thought it needed.

We were also lucky that the elitist parliamentary committee established by the Trudeau government that studied voting did not find an answer either. The committee only listened to political scientists who had never gotten out the vote. They listened to academics who only understood the theories. They did not listen to very many people who understood communicating with the voters.

And that seemed to be the major failing of the people who put together the voting questions on the B.C. referendum. The three proposed voting systems were overly complex. And saying that the questions that went unanswered would be handled later by the politicians was a guaranteed turn-off.

It is obvious that Canadian voters are used to our first-past-the-post voting and while it is not perfect, it works for us. Like any system though, it needs frequent review and updating. We need to develop a secure Internet voting system to speed the voting process and reduce overall costs. We also need to consider the complaint that too often we are electing people by less than a majority and we need to consider some run-off election techniques.

But the obvious answer is that first-past-the-post voting works and Canadians have shown that they prefer it.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

The conflicts of Kenney’s UCP.

Monday, December 17th, 2018

How any openly lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or transgender (LGBT) person can have anything to do with the united conservative party of Alberta would come as a surprise. Mind you, I am also surprised that there are women involved with that party run, as it is, by misogynists.

And Alberta is no better for it.

The UCP is a party of conflicts. And in its destructive condition, it is of little use to anyone.

The only reason for the party, as structured, is to be against—in this case, against the new democrats of premier Rachel Notley.

It seems that almost everything the Notley government does, the UCP is opposed. It seems wind farms are a no-no. Coal is good for friends of the UCP. Notley hates coal. The NDP passed a carbon tax. The UCP is against taxes.

It seems that the two parties both want the Trans Mountain pipeline doubled. Notley is not fast enough. Notley costs too much. Notley is friends with that wussy Justin Trudeau. And we all know that many in Alberta dislike the name ‘Trudeau.’

So, they are sitting back in the Petroleum Club in Calgary, firing up their stogies, sipping their single malts and counting on their good friend Jason to do the job.

It shows you that they do not know their good friend Jason.

It is not just in his youth when he wanted to show what a good catholic boy he could be. He was imbued with the teachings of his church and he showed those gays and abortionists that the church had power.

He is all grown now and he is a life-long politician. He was Stephen Harper’s go-to guy to get the job done in Ottawa. He compromised ethnic groups to do his bidding. He did the boss’ bidding.

So, who are his bosses now? It certainly is not the people of Alberta. Why should he care about them? He is out for himself. As a bachelor, he is looking forward to a wealthy retirement, to a lifestyle of freedom and luxury. Jason Kenney only cares about himself.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

 

Finance ministers can also lie.

Sunday, December 16th, 2018

Canada’s provincial finance ministers met last weekend for a play date with their federal counterpart. This was a follow-up to the first ministers meeting on the Friday. When Alberta finance minister Joe Ceci found that Quebec premier François Legault had left him a lump of coal, he got a bit huffy. It seems the new Quebec premier had made the point that Alberta pushing for an Energy East pipeline had no ‘socially acceptability’ in Quebec.

Mr. Ceci brushed it off as he said that the Quebec premier did not know much abut the energy industry in his province. He claimed (as do the Alberta commercials on television) that the companies have reduced the carbon in bitumen. That is easy enough to do if you have the refinery processes available. The only problem is that nobody has yet to know how to handle the problem of all the bitumen slag (carbon) that is left behind.

Frankly, Mr. Ceci has not got a leg to stand on. Until somebody at one of the universities finds a way to transmogrify carbon into something such as H²O, bitumen remains a very serious pollution problem. It is the polluter that just keeps on polluting.

It starts with the hot water that is pumped down to layers of bitumen to liquify it and bring it to the surface. The greasy water from this process is pumped into settling ponds that can attract and kill wildlife.

Then bitumen needs to be diluted to enable it to be shipped by truck, rail or pipeline. Whichever way it is shipped, it constitutes a hazard as it is flammable and can be extremely difficult to keep from doing long-term damage to the environment and wildlife.

No matter where it is refined, it presents a bitumen slag that just continues to pollute.

And it is only after the refining processes are complete that the synthetic oil products can be used and continue their cycle of pollution. We ignore all this pollution at our peril.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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