Archive for the ‘Provincial Politics’ Category

Kenney opts for debt over taxes.

Sunday, February 28th, 2021

It seems obvious that premier Jason Kenney of Alberta is a strange sort of conservative. His and previous conservative regimes in Alberta have managed to piss away another fortune in resources royalties because of their fear of balanced taxing of the voters of Alberta.

It is hard to compare the handing of health care and the provincial budget but Jason Kenney’s incompetents have screwed up both. Instead of working with the medical profession to fight the pandemic, Kenney fights with the doctors. Instead of introducing a harmonized sales tax with the federal sales tax, Kenney would rather stick the province with unconscionable levels of debt.

It was not that long ago that the former premier Peter Lougheed in Alberta was warning the citizens about abusing their resource funds but his latter-day conservatives have ignored his warnings. When you compare what the Norwegians have done with their sovereign fund from their off-shore oil, it paints a picture for Alberta of what might have been.

But it is now time for Albertans to get in line with the rest of the provinces. The province can no longer consider the rest of us as suckers to go along with sales taxes. Those who can afford the biggest and latest in SUVs can pay their share of the both the sales tax and the carbon tax at the pumps.

And Kenney can hardly continue to waste taxpayers’ money and his hot air on promoting pipelines. They are not going to happen. The resistance to pipelines is growing. A critical example is the dual line (Enbridge Line 5) that has been pumping gas and oil across the Straits of Mackinac since 1953.

After the experience Michigan had with the 2010 Enbridge spill that was impossible to clean up on the Kalamazoo River, the state realized a similar spill in the critical area of the Straits of Mackinac would be catastrophic. It would not only have a disastrous effect on Michigan’s economy but would seriously harm the main source of fresh water for five other states as well as Ontario and Quebec.

While Enbridge might have the best of intentions, the Michigan authorities are increasingly dubious of Enbridge’s tunneling solution under the straits.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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Andrea Horwath has an easy job.

Thursday, February 25th, 2021

Other than being insulted occasionally by Ontario’s premier-in-training, the new democrat’s Andrea Horwath seems to enjoy her continuing role as leader of the opposition at Queen’s Park. The biggest complaint we have heard about her recently is that they never answer the phones in her riding office in Hamilton. You would think with a $4 million budget for the opposition offices at Queen’s Park, she could get her phones answered.

But she is going to have to enjoy her role for now. It is due for a change.

What Horwath and the new democrats do not seem to understand is that what ever supposed electoral successes they have enjoyed over the past twelve years of her holding down the leader role, it was never her accomplishment. Horwath remains an unknown and uninspiring leader of a party mired in the past. Every gain she has made in the elections, during her leadership, have been courtesy the liberal party and its hapless leadership.

Horwath’s first premier as NDP leader was Dalton McGuinty. He was not called premier dad for no reason. It was not a compliment. He was on his last legs as head of the liberals at that time. He might have been an uninspiring premier but Ontario had gained by the environmentalism his party exhibited.

Kathleen Wynne got a majority back in the 2014 election and took the party further down hill every day she was in office. She actually threw the 2018 election by surrendering before election day. She betrayed her party. She left Andrea Horwath to face off against populist conservative Doug Ford.

You have to admit that Doug Ford might be a faster learner than Andrea Horwath. He makes classic mistakes but the problem is that Andrea Horwath has been unable to capitalize on them.

Ford pointed out last week that Horwath was more annoying than anything else. She is unable to get around that pompous ass of a premier. She needs to stop whining and learn to make fun of him. He can be made a subject of ridicule. It is just that Horwath does not know how.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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The silence of Doug Ford’s lambs.

Monday, February 22nd, 2021

Sometime in the next couple months, the province of Ontario is expected to offer me the opportunity to get one or two jabs with a needle. This knowledge alone is helping to lift me out of some of my covid-19 doldrums. As I am considered to be among the more vulnerable citizens and supposedly have early access in getting the shot(s), I have been waiting for a call.

But my hopes were somewhat dashed the other day by writer Martin Regg Cohn at the Toronto Star. He says that all we are hearing is static about the arrangements. Nobody at Queen’s Park has any information for us.

And we have already heard enough from the prime minister. Justin Trudeau knows nothing about the problems facing a company making something as complex as a vaccine. It is not his fault that there are no Canadian vaccines yet available. He has placed orders with everyone now delivering and soon to be delivering. He has done his job. There are always a few glitches in delivery.

But there is no excuse for the people in Ontario who are supposed to vaccinate us. A delay in product reaching them is no time for them to sit back and carp about the incompetence of the feds. It is an opportunity for them to get their act together and make sure that everyone is ready to get their shot in the correct order.

Many had a good laugh about them bringing in the army. Personally, I would have called in Purolator. At least those people have a better idea of how to reach anybody and everybody in the province. You bring in the army when you want order and discipline, maybe someone shot—or to shovel their snow.

But why are they not spending this time getting organized? Why are they not arranging the place, who’s wielding the hypodermics, and letting us know? And bear in mind that this first squadron of people to be poked are not those you would ask to stand in line for long. These are people with health problems and maybe age working against them. And for goodness sake, do not order them around. They might fight back.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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Waiting for vaccination.

Wednesday, February 17th, 2021

It is a stay-at-home vacation.

Using depression medication.

And booze for self-realization.

Gotta get back to civilization.

Need in-person conversation.

The wife came and looked over my shoulder to see what was holding up my commentary for today. She shook her head and said, “I don’t think your readers are ready for that.”

She could be right. I also think people are tired of the ‘Tales of Trump.’ They are annoyed with all politicians who are so useless in a pandemic. They want prime minister Justin Trudeau to get a shave and a haircut. They want conservative leader Erin O’Toole to be honest for a change. They want the NDP’s Jagmeet Singh to grow a pair. They want Yves-François Blanchet of the Bloc Québécois to work for Canada, not against it. They want green leader Annamie Paul to join a real party and do some good.

It is as though politics in Canada these days is living in a Twilight Zone. We are but pawns betwixt the federal and provincial governments. Newfoundland and Labrador cannot even run an election through a typical winter or a pandemic. Quebec just wants to be different and it is. Ontario has an asshole premier who opens up at wrong times, shuts down at wrong times and is really getting us bunged up. The Prairies are our wild west and we still haven’t got a decent premier if you put the three together. And that leaves beautiful B.C. covering our backside.

And no, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and P.E.I. are not forgotten. I think of them as orphans we adopted years ago and we do not remember why. And do not get me going on trying to make provinces of our northern territories.

Canada has a world-wide reputation that is not always deserved. To those who think we are nice; we are grouchy today. To those who think we are welcoming; do not bet on it. To those who think we are land of opportunity; you better be an old white guy with a million bucks ready to turn into a fortune.

But for me: I am an optimist. I always have hopes that our politicians will rise to the needs of their voters. And how can you not love this lavish land and all its peoples?


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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An apology to Gillian Steward.

Friday, February 12th, 2021

Fair is fair. For years I have thought that Gillian Steward, a freelance journalist in Calgary who frequently writes for the Toronto Star, was an apologist for the oil interests. Her scathing indictment of the Kenney government’s public enquiry into anti-Alberta energy campaigns the other day helped correct my opinion.

Maybe we had got into the habit of assuming anything from Alberta was tainted. The east has become weary of the stories that describe bitumen and diluted bitumen, from the tar sands, as ‘oil.’ It is not until it goes through a highly polluting refinery process does bitumen become ersatz crude oil. It can then be further refined into various petroleum products.

Ms. Steward makes it very clear that the Alberta united conservative government is wasting $3.5 million investigating a claim that is nothing more that a conspiracy theory. It is based on the specious claim that the aboriginal and environmentalist groups in British Columbia are funded by American interests. Why Americans would want to fund these groups might be a mystery but it would hardly be worthy of a government-funded enquiry.

The truth today is that, with fracking, the United States does not need our bitumen. And the U.S. refineries can get more bang for their buck from the higher oil content of Venezuelan bitumen.

What really bothers this writer about the enquiry is the millions that have already been spent by Alberta tar sands exploiting companies trying to sell Canadians on their selfish view of what is good for this country.

And if we were into conspiracies today, we would be investigating the relationship of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) and their lackies in Alberta’s united conservative party. The silly enquiry into anti-Alberta energy campaigns must include investigating the ongoing campaign of this commentator to stop piping bitumen out of Alberta. Let’s face facts, they could probably buy my silence for a reasonable share of that $3.5 million.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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Don’t believe it can’t happen here.

Friday, February 5th, 2021

There seems to be some arguments these days about whether Canadians have to suffer through the same political mistakes made by Americans. We hardly seem to have to wait long to have our own version of Donald Trump. It is a toss-up whether Doug Ford of Ontario or Jason Kenney in Alberta is the better stand-in for Trump.

I tend to lean towards Ford. Trump proved that he was an incompetent. Ford shows all those same traits. He was still running for office as leader of the conservatives when he was caught negotiating a deal with some developers to let them build on protected aquifer lands that provide the greater Toronto area with fresh water. And Ontario voters were so tired of the liberals that they elected him anyway.

And did you understand why, when once in office, he wanted the Ontario Police to provide him with a roaming bedroom—so he could keep tuned up, so to speak. Like Trump, Ford is always pissed with the news media and tries to give out his own version of events.

Mind you, he is not as bad as fellow conservative Jason Kenney, premier of Alberta. Not satisfied with the efforts of Post Media to please him, Kenney runs his own version of Alberta news from Calgary’s Petroleum Club. The ranting and tantrums that Kenney had about incoming U.S. president Biden cancelling the Keystone XL pipeline were a classic. He even said that he was going to sue the Americans for the taxpayers’ money he had put into that pipeline.

We will have to wait a couple years to see if the pundits are right that enough Alberta voters are ready to turf Kenney.

Both Ford and Kenney are supposed to get in line behind federal conservative leader Erin O’Toole in saying nasty things about Justin Trudeau. We suspect that Canadian voters are not interested in a federal election until the pandemic can be declared to be over. And then all bets will be off until the dust of the federal and provincial elections settles.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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The hypocrisy of the provinces.

Monday, February 1st, 2021

If there was ever a reason to change Canada’s constitution, it will be the hypocrisy of so many of our provincial leaders. It also explains why I often preferred to drive to Ottawa from Toronto when dealing with some federal departments. It was because I could return to Toronto with a trunk full of inexpensive wines purchased in Gatineau, Quebec.

And, as long as that wine was for personal use, I was not breaking any law. It was just that Canada Post or a delivery service would be breaking the law if they crossed the same border and delivered the wine to my Toronto home.

Canada’s premiers have been meeting fairly often for the past 60 years and frequently discuss inter-provincial barriers to commerce. They have promised much and resolved little, in all that time.

Alcohol is not the only problem. The greatest hypocrisy is the provincial control of trade in terms of professionals licensed in one province having to obtain a license in another province in order to sell their services in that province.

This does not exclude the problems related to language. Provincially regulated trades can still dictate what language you have to be able to speak.

Of course, that does not apply to the federal government. I once signed a contract with the federal government that required me to spend time in meetings in Ottawa and in the department’s Laval, Quebec facility. Nobody had thought to mention to me that the Laval facility was run in French. They quickly found out my language limitations when I had my first meeting with a dozen or so staff members in Laval. It was a tough year, though it helped me improve my French, a bit.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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Understanding Basic Income.

Sunday, January 31st, 2021

There are three sides to this argument. The idea of a basic income for all Canadians is an idea championed by progressive politicos. And then there are the regressive politicos (usually conservatives) who think it is a terrible idea and that what all those lazybones need is a little encouragement. And then there are those academics who start out saying: “But on the other hand…”

The idea of a basic income program got new impetus when the federal government finally got around to the concept of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). It caused a rush to the pay windows of the government and a response that sounded like the slamming of government doors and pay windows. While many of us appeared to be ignoring the small print, it was the first time we actually thought the government was turning on the spigots where needed.

But it was good to hear from one dubious recipient of the liberal largess: “I have to give the money back, but they were nice about it.”

What was sad but amusing about the government’s reneging on CERB was that to be a recipient, you had to have some earned income in the past year.

Dammit all, who the hell is going to worry about Canadians who are too old, too sick, or disabled, infirm, or incoherent, or simply unmotivated? The world is not a perfect place and we do have to deal in reality sometimes.

In 2015, Trudeau and his cabinet danced through a sunlit Rideau Park and, according to Justin Trudeau, all was supposed to be perfect.

To be fair, he did not expect a pandemic either. I think he has done good trying to deal with covid-19. He is no genius. He is his mother’s son. He has done his best. He might not be leading us to a land of milk and honey but he has probably done as good a job on the pandemic as we can expect.

But, for goodness sake, let’s keep the academics out of the implementation of a basic income. We expect to make mistakes. That is when we will know it is working. We will fix things as we go. Start by doing the honourable thing.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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What’s a billion Jason Kenney?

Sunday, January 24th, 2021

It was actually a billion and a half. It was the money from Alberta taxpayers that Jason Kenney put into the Keystone XL pipeline. It was not just a stupid move but one that he can spend the rest of his life regretting. I was hardly the only writer who criticized the bravado the Alberta premier exhibited in supporting a losing cause.

Joe Biden said very early in his campaign to defeat Donald Trump that he would cancel the Keystone XL pipeline. Large numbers of Canadians cheered that promise. We knew that a man like Biden would keep his word. We were also confident that, as a savvy politician, he would know the impact of his action. He was showing that what Trump could build, he could tear down.

And surely, Jason Kenney must have realized that Biden would keep his word. He also knew that the majority of Canadians were eager to see the end of Donald Trump’s reign of terror in Washington. He also knew that Joe Biden needed to take some concrete action along with saying he was rejoining the Paris Climate Accord. He needed to show the world that he would stop threats that could increase pollution and global warming. It hardly cost Biden anything to stop Keystone.

Kenney is hardly going to sue the United States government in hopes of getting his billion and a half of Alberta taxpayers’ money back. A fly can hardly bring charges against the wielder of a fly swatter for bodily harm.

Nor is Kenney going to sue Justin Trudeau for not doing anything about Biden’s move. If he could get away with it, Kenney would sue Trudeau for letting it snow in Calgary.

And for him to demand trade sanctions against the Americans from Trudeau is ridiculous. That was Donald Trump’s signature solution. Canadians were hardly likely to go along with that from our side of the border.

Canadians are looking for a return to normal relations with America. Kenney should shut up.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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In defense of dissent.

Saturday, January 16th, 2021

Is it better to be known for your friends or your enemies? When does a dissenter become the hero? Or is dissent the sad role of the aged curmudgeon? I always admired Pierre Trudeau, father of our present prime minister, for his handling of dissent. He treated it as an intellectual challenge. He also gave as good as he got when the dissent was broached in boorish terms.

This all comes to mind as the premier of Ontario continues to throw dissenters out of his caucus at Queen’s Park. He needs to be careful about that as there are more than a few in his caucus biding their time until the opportunity comes along to use their knives (figuratively) on their inexperienced leader.

It would be very foolish of Ford to heave ten or more of the conservative caucus aside and leave himself with a minority government. It would not be likely to survive for long.

You could name many among his conservative caucus who have differing ambitions and agendas. The conservative party is known for its amalgam of social, fiscal and just plain mean conservatives and the very few who care about their constituents. A populist such as Ford has little political ideology but tends to follow in his father’s footsteps in serving conservativism.

He would probably be surprised at how many of his caucus are quiet believers in American Donald Trump. They admire the Trump bigotry, misogyny and support for the monied class but are also smart enough to keep this admiration out of the public awareness.

If Ford really threw MPP Randy Hillier out of the conservative caucus for being behind the Ontario Landowners, he could be in for a surprise. His rural supporters include the Landowners and he dare not alienate them.

It is probably best to only express dissent if you are not a member of a provincial assembly or federal parliament. It is in a blog such as this that you can complain about the hypocrisy of political leaders—particularly of your own political party.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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