Archive for the ‘Provincial Politics’ Category

Our MPP is heard from.

Tuesday, September 10th, 2019

It seems that the member of the Ontario legislature for Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte does visit Barrie occasionally, usually while on his way to or from his home up in Severn Township. Recently, Doug Downey M.P.P. even held a news conference in Barrie to discuss the problem of what he calls ‘Catch and Release.’ It might be sporting for fishermen but causes ongoing problems for our police in smaller cities such as Barrie.

In Barrie, the courts are located on the edge of downtown, convenient for people to return to the scene of their crime and repeating it. The police tend to blame the problem on the supreme court that has ruled that a person charged with multiple crimes still has to be treated as guiltless until convicted of something.

The basic problem is that the politicians starve the courts, refusing to expand them or to appoint more judges and then blame the judges for not processing criminal cases fast enough.

As attorney general of Ontario, Downey has to take responsibility for the problem. He expressed the problem quite succinctly in the news conference when he said that keeping costs under control is also important to his government.

What is becoming clear to most Ontario residents is that this current provincial government places too much emphasis on controlling costs and very little in doing the jobs that Ontario taxpayers are funding.

In fact, this government cuts so many costs that it creates more serious problems than we had in the first place. They constantly put their ideology ahead of doing a good job.

To make matters worse, we have a premier who has no clue as to how to run the province. He blustered his way through an election campaign against a government that had run out of gas. We are paying for the consequences.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

From Rae Days to Ford Years.

Monday, September 9th, 2019

It does seem odd to think of current conservative premier of Ontario Doug Ford and former NDP premier Bob Rae at the same time. The other day Bob Hepburn of the Toronto Star tried to compare the two in an opinion piece. He failed. The reasons that Bob Rae failed as premier and Doug Ford will fail are very different.

Doug Ford will fail because he doesn’t listen to advice: Bob Rae failed because he did listen. Rae listened to Thomas d’Aquino. At the time, d’Aquino was running the Business Council on National Issues—the most powerful business group in Canada.

It was d’Aquino who convinced Bob Rae and his finance minister, Floyd Laughren from Sudbury, that the most serious economic problem facing Canada in the 1990s was the out-of-control deficits at the time of both federal and provincial budgets. He convinced the provincial politicians that Paul Martin, finance minister for the Chrétien government was already on board.

The problem was that, as a left-wing economist, Laughren had no solutions to the growing deficits. Rae of course, was more of a middle of the road liberal and bought into the Martin solution. Rae ended up giving his name to the imaginative solution of civil servants taking unpaid days off instead of pay cuts, which they were anyway.

Rae became a laughing stock and his government was easily defeated by what Ontario residents found was much worse conservative government of Mike Harris.

There are many similarities between the Harris government of 1995 through 2003 and the present Ford regime. The very fact that Harris won a second term was more a commentary on the weak opposition facing his government at the time than any high approval rating. And after the deaths in Walkerton, Ontario in 2002, because of the poor management, Harris was toast.

Since Doug Ford’s style is just bluster and incompetence, nobody expects him to be around after the next provincial election.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

When Dougie can’t recant again.

Sunday, August 25th, 2019

There is a growing problem for the Ontario conservative government at Queen’s Park. Occasionally, the government realizes it made a boo-boo. Frankly, it has had a lot of opportunity for this in the last year but, only occasionally, the cabinet will have what might be referred to as a “Come to Jesus event” when it realizes it did not do the job properly. It has to back track.

This would like that guy with the bad hair cut in the United Kingdom’s parliament finally admitting that Brexit was a really stupid idea.

Mind you, the funny farm at Queen’s park is not supposed to do anything as dumb.

Yet, Dougie and the gang do make the odd boo-boo. Take the ‘class-size’ instructions to school boards. The school boards were told that they should start increasing average class sizes (above grade 4) from the present 22 students to 28 over the next four years. It was up to the boards how they would accomplish this but the net result in the first year was to save the province $250 million.

As you can imagine there were the loud screams and incantations directed at Dougie and the gang but they were immune to that. The school boards did not like it but they moved things around, fired excess teachers and support staff and assured Queen’s Park that their will would be done.

What we expect happened was that the new education minister who was told to fix the mess noted that there were new contracts to be negotiated this fall with the province’s teachers. It seems he had paid attention in school and had an understanding of cause and effect. He realized that he was going to be faced by some really pissed off teachers this fall.

And that might just be why the school boards are currently trying to figure out how to unfire a lot of teachers!

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Sex comes back to Ontario.

Friday, August 23rd, 2019

After supporting the religious right in denouncing the recent revision to the sex curriculum in Ontario schools, the Ford regime introduced a version suspiciously similar to the previous liberal version. After juggling a few of the grades when certain subjects were taught and adding a few non-sexual topics, we found out that the Ford conservatives were just as naïve as the rest of us.

Like many, I always assumed that since parents did not want to embarrass themselves trying to teach their children about sex, they would be happy to have the schools take it out of their hands. At the very least, parents who keep their children out of selected classes should be forced to take the program themselves, to prove they are not misleading their children. It always reminds me of the time I attempted to have ‘the talk’ with my son about the evils of street drugs and he gave me a very interesting lecture on the subject.

But what I have never been able to understand is that blue-stocking parents are foolish to try to restrict their children’s knowledge. Kids share what they know with each other and some very large shibboleths can be traced through children networking.

And besides, have you been watching television or movies, listening to radio, browsing the Internet, reading newspapers lately? I read the most fascinating article on oral sex the other day in the Toronto Star. (That’s right, the Toronto Star!) I hardly think there are any barriers left. And thank goodness.

I remember when my intake in the air force was given ‘the lecture’ by the medical officer and we thought the poor chap was more embarrassed than we were. The funniest part of the entire routine was when he drew on a chalkboard the best way to put on a condom.

Toronto after the Second World War was a city of burgeoning ethnic mix. I was told too many stories of boys and girls trying to find a way to explain to their old-country parents the pressures and openness of North American society. It was very much a touchy-feely world.

Maybe the sexual revolution was just part of our awakening as a more open society.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Jason Kenney: Alpha Male?

Sunday, August 18th, 2019

When Gillian Steward from Calgary wrote in the Toronto Star recently about Alberta’s Jason Kenney being the federal conservative alpha male, it had to be another example of her wonderful sense of humour. Quite frankly, by no definition, that I can think of, can you consider Kenney an alpha male.

An alpha male is a leader of the pack. He is macho, he is desirable to the females of the pack for procreation purposes. For God’s sake lady, Kenney does not appear to even like women. He is a misogynist. Have you not heard the complaints fellow conservative women have made about him?

I have never suggested that Jason Kenney was anything other than a person with a low libido. Though, there was always the tendency to pair him with John Baird, the other fat-and-forty bachelor in the Harper cabinet. I referred to them, at the time, as the Bobbsey Twins.

But there is nothing in the Bobbsey Twins books of many years ago to compare to the mean machinations of the Kenney twin. He has little consideration for others or for fairness in politics. For him to promote the idea of Alberta separating from the rest of Canada so that he can propose the solution as getting rid of Trudeau is two-faced. Not only does the idea of a separatist Alberta become sillier over the years but Kenney looks even sillier proposing it.

We have already seen samples of Jason Kenney’s stupid war room in action. The concept of him running a propaganda machine to help Chuckles Scheer by attacking Justin Trudeau goes against the grain of most Canadians.

It would be foolish to suggest that Trudeau did everything right in his first four years as prime minister but he did more to help Alberta than he should have. Kenney needs to understand that effective propaganda needs to have some sliver of truth to it to be accepted as credible.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Big Brother baffles business.

Saturday, August 17th, 2019

Ontario premier Doug Ford claims he is really just a businessman. Prior to becoming premier, his only claim to fame was his second banana role for his late brother when Rob Ford was mayor of Toronto. Before that Doug was just a salesman for his father’s label printing company. Where did you think he got the idea for stickers on gas pumps? It originated with the oil companies when they were tired of being blamed for the high taxes on gas by both feds and province.

But why are the oil companies acting so gutless when asked to put only part truths on their pumps? No court would order them to comply. And what if the federal government gave them a bigger sticker to put on their gas pumps? Would they say enough is enough then?

And what would Ford do if the oil companies told him to stick his stickers where the sun does not shine. The idea of the federal carbon tax is that the costs at the pumps will be rebated to consumers. The rebate goes up along with the tax. And while Dougie thinks he is shafting the feds, he is making money for the sticker business and making himself look childish.

The only thing that is concerning is whether Justin Trudeau will know when to stop attacking Ford. The Ontario premier might not have the political common sense but the federal prime minister has advisors who can tell when Dougie has been belittled enough. It would hardly pay to have voters feeling sorry for the sorry Ford.

It would be best to leave the outcome of this sticker foolishness to the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. That worthy organization has already made it clear that the Ford stickers are a direct denial of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Waiting for Doug Ford.

Friday, August 16th, 2019

C’mon Dougie, Let’s see some action here in Ontario. You talked the talk. You walked the walk. Now, when do we see some action? A populist makes promises and people expect things to happen. We were promised beer in the corner convenience stores. Make it so!

You might not have been the first politician to make that promise but you are the first to be expected to deliver on it. Other politicians gave the corner stores lotteries to help them survive. They have had cigarette sales to help their income. (It is a dying market—in more ways than one.) It will be six packs of beer that will bring these family-run stores the traffic they need. Think of how healthy it will be to walk to the corner store for a six pack and a bag of pretzels, or a bottle of plonk for dinner.

Only a man of the people would think of it. Hell, that woman you replaced as premier only wanted the six packs in the grocery stores. She let the bureaucrats make sure that the grocery stores made next to nothing for their effort. Is that the way to do things? You give Costco and Walmart the two-fours, the grocery stores the dozens and the convenience stores the six packs. And if you let them set their own selling price all will be right with the world. Let the market decide.

And heads should be rolling about the fiasco with the liquor control board’s ordering system. I never know what the hell I will be bringing home in the way of vin ordinaire these days. And even in ordering from the back of an envelope, those idiots should remember to always have lots of the good stuff from the Beaune region of France. Their penalty for screwing up should be no six packs from the big three brewers until they get things right.

And in the couple years you have left in the premier’s chair Dougie, you might just consider this: If you need another ten billion or so to cover some of your missteps you have made in the premier’s office, you can always sell the LCBO. And do not sell it as a package. Keep the ordering system (when fixed) because the volumes are important. Sell the stores one at a time and make a potful of money. Sell boutique wine licences for more. And remember to take taxes coming and going. The government needs the money.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

From small creeks do mighty rivers flow.

Sunday, August 11th, 2019

From the Manchester Guardian to the Toronto Globe and Mail, there have been reports of our federal government scientists testing spills of diluted bitumen from Alberta’s tar sands. As one source pointed out to me, this was the government laboratory that former prime minister Stephen Harper forgot to shut down. They are still doing their job today.  They just do not realize how much has been done for them.

The researchers are at the Experimental Lake Region near Kenora, Ontario. They are pouring measured amounts of diluted bitumen into a fresh water lake to determine its impact. Everything is measured and contained to enable the researchers to forecast the impact of larger amounts of spilled bitumen.

The most important discovery to-date has been that diluted bitumen floats—for a while. The earlier assumption was that diluted bitumen had a lower density than water and could be easily be scooped from the surface of any water. This was a seriously incorrect assumption.

On the word of Americans in the area of the Kalamazoo River in Michigan and Canadians in the area of the North Saskatchewan River in Canada, diluted bitumen floats—for a while—and then sinks to the bottom of the water. In the earlier example in Michigan, the Enbridge people stopped counting the costs of clean-up at a billion U.S. dollars.

The smaller spill in Saskatchewan River was cheaper for the Husky company that owned that pipeline. The problem here was that less news got out about the spill because of the bias of the Alberta and Saskatchewan governments. They prefer to keep quiet about diluted bitumen spills.

But science is relentless and the federal government scientists will eventually get to experiment with water currents and tides and be able to tell us that diluted bitumen is a serious hazard in spills because it will drift or move with the currents until it can no longer float.

It is to be regretted that so much false information is still out there about using pipelines for diluted bitumen. It is not heavy oil.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

It started with John D. Rockefeller.

Sunday, August 4th, 2019

It was John D. Rockefeller in the 1800s who put together Standard Oil of New Jersey and created ‘Big Oil.’ He created the power house that to this day is destroying our environment, launching wars and feeding much of the corruption of North American politics. And it is the same anti-trust laws that were written to bring down Rockefeller that created the Big Oil cartels that buy and sell politicians to do their bidding to-day.

There is no doubt that an astute observer such as writer Linda McQuaig has understood this for a long time. Many of us have wondered by what channels the money is assembled but there is little doubt that politicians such as Jason Kenney in Alberta have no lack of funds to fight the Big Oil battles. Writing in the Toronto Star the other day, Linda asserted that the real foreign meddler in Canadian politics is Big Oil. Hell, these are the people who put Donald Trump in the White House. Buying Alberta or all of Canada is small change.

But the heart break in all of this is the decent people of Alberta who do not understand how they are being betrayed on behalf of Big Oil.

Linda’s specific complaint is that the small amounts of money coming from foreign sources to support the environmentalists in the fight are nothing compared to the monies that Jason Kenney has to fight them. When people such as the Koch brothers of New York, whose Marathon Oil is a big customer for Alberta bitumen from the tar sands, buy a politician, they expect results. They want results from Kenney’s War Room that he has put together to fight the environmentalists.

It would be very interesting to follow the money trail that paid for Jason Kenney to return to Alberta after the conservative loss in the 2015 federal election. It was not in-expensive for him to start out touring the province with his message of ‘Unite the Right.’ He had little problem, but still an expensive campaign, to take over the conservative party. And then it was more expense to challenge Brian Jean to take over the rest of the right. And the people who orchestrated it all are still celebrating at the Petroleum Club.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

The gang that can’t even sell pot.

Wednesday, July 31st, 2019

It is hard to believe that Doug Ford’s gang in Ontario cannot even get a handle on the pot business. Is there no part of government in which they have some expertise? Did the late Toronto mayor Rob Ford fail to pass on some tips in drug marketing to his older brother? The word we are getting from the streets is that the government-controlled pot shops are operating at serious losses while many Ontario buyers are going back to their old street sources.

And the legal shops are failing to compete. It seems that the government has been unaware of the three cardinal rules of retailing. They are location, location and location.

Who can afford to waste money on locking up an ideal location when the license will be drawn by lot? Who can compete when your pricing is controlled, as are your promotion efforts?

But what did you expect when a former cop made all the rules at the federal level and general incompetence is the order of the day at the provincial level?

What can the legal shops do when the illicit vendors are pricing themselves at an average of 40 per cent less than legal marijuana? In some cases, outside of Toronto, there are reports of illegal vendors offering product at about ten per cent of prices by licenced vendors.

And that is just one more problem that this government cannot seem to handle: The facts are that the rest of this province is not the same as Toronto. The premier is so busy fighting old municipal battles in Toronto, that he has no time for the problems elsewhere.

What our governments need to realize is that the legalizing of marijuana was designed to get the market out of the hands of criminals. It is most upsetting to have to report that, in Ontario, the criminals are winning.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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