Archive for the ‘Provincial Politics’ Category

It’s like a long race on turf.

Monday, October 16th, 2017

The next Ontario general election is scheduled to be held June 7, 2018. This race will be like a mile and a half on the turf track and requires horses with great endurance and energy. That makes it the time for the old and tired to retire. And that is what is happening with all parties at Queen’s Park.

As the largest party among the incumbents, the Liberals are expected to have the highest turnover.  The noisiest of the changes are among the contested nominations for the Progressive Conservative Party. The quiet changes are among the New Democratic Party which has already lost its deputy leader because he knew this branch of the party is going nowhere.

There is no question that the Queen’s Park Liberals need turnover. After 14 years in power, the party has promises to keep, legacies to earn. Neither Toronto’s Brad Duguid nor Glen Murray will be missed in cabinet or in Ontario politics. Nor do the Liberals need to keep dragging the anchor of Deb Matthews from London. The older Liz Sandals will be missed though for the calming and knowledge she brought to the education portfolio.

The conflict for Premier Wynne is that she needs to hold on to every MPP in her caucus who looks like he or she can hold their riding. There are no guarantees with the shake up in electoral district boundaries. And there is always lots of time after an election for recriminations.

Sure, Wynne should have resigned in the past year and given a new, younger leader a chance. There is no more time for that speculation. Win or lose, Wynne is what the Liberals have to offer. Hopefully there will be a comer among the younger Liberal MPPs.

But like the last election, Wynne’s strengths are experience, position and the lack of effective opposition. Not that the Conservatives are not going to continue to tear at her like a pack of wild dogs. She is no fool and she is street smart. They have no idea of what will bring her down.

If this were a turf contest at Woodbine Racetrack, none of the party leaders would be leading the pack. None of the three are good for the distance. The voters want better and deserve better.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Does the religious model serve the new politics?

Thursday, October 12th, 2017

Is it religion that we see reflected in the new politics. Maybe it has been there all along. Canadian politics has been slower to wrap itself in vestments but in American politics, religion plays a constant and visceral part in what is happening.

Americans speak of their country as “one nation, under God” and God help them. Even under the hands of Donald Trump, it was the God-forsaken and the holy rollers who combined to usher him into power. Trump mixed the bikers with the Tea Party Republicans, the dispossessed coal miners and frustrated farmers—it was a political coalition conceived in Hell—and they all come to Trump’s revival tents. And that hypocrite continues to revel in the adoration of his multitude.

But who expected political salvation in Canada? For the past year or so, I have been trying to fathom why Justin Trudeau has been so intent on destroying the established Liberal Party of Canada? He took away the tenets of membership, collapsed the policy mechanisms that his father learned to respect and abused the party as just a source of funds. He has left the Liberal party with no mechanisms for change or restructuring. It has become nothing more than your friendly local neighbourhood church where you can go to feel good on Sunday—but do not forget to tithe.

The Conservatives always were the self-satisfied Anglican burghers who worshipped the almighty buck. They are currently awash in mediocrity in the House of Commons while interim pastor ‘Chuckles’ Scheer holds prayer meetings. The real conservative action is in the provinces. The two major efforts are provincial as the Yin and Yang of bachelor leaders Kenney and Brown smell blood in their anti-feminist fights for power in Alberta and Ontario.

Not to be outdone, Canada’s federal New Democrats have been handed a religious symbol of sorts to lead them to the promised land of the Regina Manifesto. Whether a turbaned Sikh can serve that role is hard to say. The party’s problems run much deeper than leadership. Without coming up with a new role for the party, it is not ready be led anywhere.

But I would like to include some of the thinking of other progressive Liberals in this strange mix of religion and politics. Send me an e-mail with your thoughts and whether you want to be identified with them. I am more than willing to share the blame.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Brown: No more Mr. Nice Guy.

Tuesday, October 10th, 2017

Ontario Conservative Leader Patrick Brown does not have a problem. He is the problem. His handlers are not sure how to present him to provincial voters. They are concerned that the more people they introduce him to, the fewer people like him. It is not supposed to work that way.

At first, they thought they could show him in a sympathetic light because of a speech problem as a child. They found that now people can listen to him, they are not interested. They showed him as a marathon runner just like Premier Kathleen Wynne. More people edged away from him.

It is not as if the poor schmuck is not trying. When people wanted him to be a Right to Life supporter, he was there. When they wanted him to support abortion, he was there for that. Whatever you want him to be, he is there for you. All he wants is your vote.

Those of us who have watched Patrick Brown here in Barrie since he was young have found him to be very flexible. We have never heard an original idea from him nor a reasonable reason to vote for him.

But now Brown is under the direction of his friend Walied Soliman, Chair of Norton Rose Fulbright Canada Ltd. Soliman is the guy who looks after the problems for the international law firm. You can think of him as the guy who might have helped throw the Ontario Medical Association into a tizzy over the past year. Somebody must have shown the greedy specialists how to oust the more reasonable old guard.

But Patrick Brown could be Soliman’s biggest challenge. There is a large province to be won here. Since Patrick Brown stole the leadership of the Progressive Conservatives two years ago, he has been marking time. The Liberals have been ragging Brown unmercilessly as Opposition Leader but since he has no policy positions, he simply takes a position that he sees to his advantage. It might keep the media people in the legislature amused but it promises us a very nasty election next year.

The most recent attack ads on the Wynne Liberals are straight out of the Donald Trump songbook. It forecasts a disgusting campaign to come. When you launch an attack this early that says the Wynne Liberals are “corrupt” and “untrustworthy,” the road can only be downhill from there.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

“What to my wondering eyes should appear…”

Friday, October 6th, 2017

Christmas was in in October this year. The wife needed some parmesan cheese for our spaghetti dinner and insisted I stop at the local Metro grocery store. I went in with her, mainly because I always enjoy that store. It is expensive but it is well run and I often find a bargain at the meat counters. While the wife went to get her one item (which, as usual, became ten), I checked out the meats and then did a quick circuit of the store. And then I found it. My Metro has beer and wine. Christmas came early this year.

Premier Kathleen Wynne, all is forgiven. You must have known how much I hate those squalid Beer Stores. I thought Barrie was going to be the last municipality in Ontario to be allowed to have beer and wine in the grocery stores. And yet here we have beer and wine in a store in Patrick Brown’s new electoral district. Maybe that political putz will try to take credit for it.

But what can I do for you Madame Premier? I figure I owe you. I could rejoin the local riding association but I have been phoning and texting your party office in Toronto and I cannot get any response. The name I have for the local provincial party president does not exist in the riding area. Liberals in this part of Barrie have no contact, no activity and the current MPP for Barrie ignores this part of her former riding.

But this is meant to be a positive comment. Metro stores know how to merchandise and they have given beer and wine a nice section of the store with good signage and it is hard to miss. It still needs refrigeration for the beer but I am sure a well-run store like my Metro will fix that soon.

And I almost forgot. Metro gives Air Miles. I often use them to get groceries at Metro. I seem to get all my Air Miles today at the LCBO and at Metro. That is something the stupid Beer Store does not do. Those people do not even know how to merchandise. They spend more time with smelly recycling than selling beer properly.

But with Metro selling beer now, all might be forgiven. Mind you, Ms. Wynne could get the $15 minimum wage promise in place a lot faster.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

The myopic Mr. Brown.

Wednesday, September 27th, 2017

It reminds us that even a stopped clock can be right twice a day. Ontario Conservative Leader Patrick Brown has no policies but we know what he is against. He tells us that he will cancel the Liberal Cap and Trade environmental protection plan. He has no idea what he might replace it with but he might be right to get rid of it.

What Brown does not seem to know is that the combination of a federal carbon tax and a provincial cap-and-trade in Ontario and Quebec creates a complex tax on tax on commodities such as gasoline, natural gas and home heating oil. With the cap-and-trade system being hidden—and further confused by being linked to the California and Quebec systems—consumers have no idea how much tax they are paying, and to whom?

Cap-and-trade is not transparent. It is paid at the producer level in a deal-making process with the various provincial and state governments. The consumer only sees it as a higher price once federal, provincial taxes, sales taxes and retail mark-up have been added. And to make matters worse, exporters are paying the cap-and-trade rate too and are less competitive in world markets.

The last time we saw an industry working on its own to say what the carbon cap should be on their industry was Alberta’s tar sands exploiters. In nine years of the Harper government in Canada, the tar sands people never did set a cap on their carbon.

Between carbon tax and a cap-and-trade system, carbon tax is the more honest and open system. The bill starts out the same for all manufacturers. You put so much carbon into our environment, here is what it is going to cost you. It is simple, open and honest. The challenge is to the manufacturer to reduce the carbon emissions and reduce the tax. If the carbon is reduced, the tax is reduced. It is easy to see what is happening and all figures are there for the consumer to see.

Obviously, this openness would be too much for Patrick Brown should he ever, accidently, get to be premier. He would be unlikely to ever change it as it would suit his deceptive nature.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

 

‘Corrupt Kathleen’ campaign comes to Canada.

Friday, September 22nd, 2017

It hardly took long. Sleaze spreads. The Ontario Conservatives had to think of something to overcome their lack of leadership, ethics, ideas and policies. When your party leader is a nobody, you attack the person people know. It makes you feel superior. It worked for Donald Trump did it not?

We can certainly assure you that Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne is no Hillary Clinton. She might not be as smart as Clinton but she is more of a street fighter. She is no lady. She is not going to take any crap from a putz like Patrick Brown.

That silly ass Brown deliberately said to the news media that the Premier was “on trial” when she appeared (as a witness) in the Sudbury bribery trial. He might not be a very successful lawyer but he was trained as one. He must have read something about slander and libel. He also knows that a judge’s ruling on what he said can be year’s away. It hardly matters then. The trial by voters is next June.

But, until then, Brown and his friends are going to try to pile on the sleaze. It does not seem likely that Kathleen Wynne will let them. This coming election campaign might not be fought under the Marquess of Queensberry Rules.

Hillary Clinton’s major mistake in last year’s American presidential campaign was not calling Trump for what he was—an overblown ego and narcissist who was totally unqualified, and unequipped to serve as president of the United States.

Those of us who know Patrick Brown can assure you that electing him as Premier would be an unmitigated disaster. He has never seemed to care much about policies, people or politeness. We are beginning to wonder when his handlers are going to hire some poor woman to hang on his arm to help him look normal?

I am going to get Stevie Cameron’s book On the Take off my bookshelf and remind myself of the sleaze of the Mulroney years in Ottawa. It seems that former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney is now a major fund raiser for Patrick Brown. It is likely to be the quid pro quo for Brown giving Mulroney’s daughter the nomination in the York-Simcoe electoral district for next June’s election in Ontario.

They are going to need a lot of money if they keep buying heavy flights of TV commercials defaming Kathleen Wynne.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Hyperloop hardly halts high-speed trains.

Thursday, September 21st, 2017

Do you want to be sent by pipeline down the Montreal-Toronto corridor? They are suggesting that the city to city trip will be in as little as 39 minutes. It sounds like a great idea but I am not sure that 39 minutes of claustrophobia, g-forces and sheer terror would be worth it.

Damn it all, if I am going to travel across Ontario to go to Montreal, I want to be able to look out the window. Hyperloop systems remind me of those tubes in the old ‘five and ten’ and other large stores that sucked in round containers and distributed them to other departments. I was always surprised when my change and receipt came, with a plop, back to where I was waiting.

My old friend David Collenette, former Prime Minister Chrétien’s transport minister, is currently doing an environmental assessment for Premier Wynne on a high-speed train line from Windsor to Toronto. It is just part of Wynne’s contrariness that she wants to go backwards to Windsor before she goes forward to Montreal.

I have been a proponent of high-speed electric trains for Canada for many years and I have always felt like a voice in the wilderness. What drives me nuts on the issue is that Quebec has all kinds of cheap electrical energy available for this project and some form of pernicious separatism has prevented Quebec politicians from getting behind the need for high-speed electrified trains. Airplanes, buses, automobiles and diesel locomotives pollute. High-speed electric trains cause the least pollution.

Ontario was a world leader in interurban trolley systems back at the turn of the 20th Century and gradually got rid of them with the growth of the automobile and congested highways. It amazes me that all these politicians can give lip service to environmentalism and yet never get serious about electrified train systems.

It has always seemed to be rejection of our first prime minister’s, Sir John A. Macdonald’s dream of Canada that we have not followed through on keeping this country linked by modern railways. Are we the last country in the G-20 to recognize the value of electrified, high-speed trains?

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

In search of leadership.

Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

This is not as simple as Diogenes with his lamp, searching for an honest man. There are many possibilities in life for leadership and many who believe they can fill the need. In Canada, we tend to assume that when the need arises, a leader will step forward. We could not be more wrong in our assumptions and our best example of this is our municipalities—where, in most cases, we lack the organizational structures that can support leadership.

I was thinking of this today because of the ongoing complaints of the Toronto news media about where Toronto Mayor John Tory is leading the city. Mind you, the term leading might be inappropriate in this situation. It is a task more like herding.

In Toronto today, the voters elect a mayor citywide and 44 councillors in their individual wards. While most of these people are or become affiliated with this or that political party, there is no party platform or discipline to hold them accountable. They run on their own platform in their own neighbourhood. They are accountable only to their own voters. And if that is more than 35 per cent of the potential voters, it is considered a high turnout.

Watching various mayors put together their coalitions over the years, it seemed to be more of exercise in personality than of politics. They made it personal. It was more a moral persuasion than political party discipline.

A recent report on Toronto City Hall commissioned by the Toronto Sun Newspaper hardly solved the problems. A major recommendation was that council could have more time for the important stuff if it delegated more community problems to the existing community councils. Nobody seems to have pointed out that this would be moving the city backward.

The newspaper’s plan also included somebody having to write consumer-friendly write-ups on issues that the council was bringing up for debate—and here we thought that was the role of the news media!

Actually, nothing is going to improve on the municipal front until a provincial leader realizes that the lack of political accountability in Toronto is the biggest problem. This true leader will liberate the city’s serfs.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Does Wynne win with weed?

Saturday, September 16th, 2017

Everyone seems to be a bit nonplused by the possibility of Premier Kathleen Wynne promoting the sales of marijuana in Ontario. It might not be the best idea to come down the turnpike recently but it is certainly creating consternation. If Wynne and her Liberal sheep continue in their usual form, we voters will be the ones shorn.

The first question you might ask is what qualities would you want in a store that sells legal marijuana? Would you prefer a group that knew something about marketing? Would you prefer a group who knew something about the product they are selling? Would you prefer that a store is a short walk to in your neighbourhood or a long drive to a suburban mall?

As you can see, there are more than a few questions. Now tell us what kind of a company fits. Do you think the Liquor Control Board knows anything about marketing, or knows much about marijuana or will there be a store convenient to you to fill your needs? Or will you care?

Of course, you would hardly expect the government to follow the old distribution patterns and locate all its stores within a block and a half of every high school in the province. This means we expect the stores to reach out to new markets.

Maybe the LCBO could get Premier Wynne to promote marijuana for seniors. They could create commercials saying that weed is the best way to forget the aches and pains of aging. Mind you that would mean that there would need to be a related delivery service. How about we give that part of it to Amazon?

Maybe the major market for marijuana is just the aging hippies who have not heard that smoking is bad for them.

But the serious question here is whether Wynne and her Liberals are going to benefit from anything other than the profits from selling marijuana. When they pick the LCBO to do the marketing, it was just the same old song, all over again. And they are going to use the old water torture trick of opening a few stores at a time. Wynne never does anything all at once. It is like the booze in Loblaws, raising the minimum wage or the selling off of Hydro One. If it works once, why not do it again and again?

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

The water of life.

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

A handful of snow melting on a peak in the Rockies can become part of a torrent by the time it reaches the ocean. It is the water of life for the creatures of both land and sea. It is a place for salmon to spawn, the creatures of the forest to drink and humans to take their waters. It feeds the green of our forests, the growth of our cash crops and the needs of our towns, cities and farms.

And it is so fragile. The disgrace is if we spill the contents of a pipeline loaded with diluted bitumen into those waters. From the tiny babbling brooks to the mightiest of rivers, diluted bitumen is the threat of death. It floats down river to when its diluent is washed away and then it sinks, there on the bottom to conflict with the ecosystem.

Diluted bitumen is not crude oil. It is enabled to go through a pipeline by heating that pipeline and forcing it through the pipeline at greater pressure. It is not a question as to will the pipeline fail but when?

Ask the 70,000 people who live along the North Saskatchewan River. The Husky spill of bitumen on that river travelled 370 kilometres before it was just an oil slick that continued to contaminate. The bitumen had settled along the river bottom. And that was less than 250,000 litres of diluted bitumen that denied potable water to humans and animals alike.

Ask the people of Michigan along the Kalamazoo River and its tributaries. The Enbridge bitumen spill in Michigan cost more than US$2 billion and will never really be cleaned up. That bitumen that settled in the rivers has just become part of Michigan’s ecosystem.

And when Prime Minister Trudeau broke faith with the ecology and allowed the expansion of the Kinder-Morgan Trans-mountain pipeline, he was not just saying “go ahead and double the pipeline.” He was changing the old pipeline (built in the 1950s) to heat it and to increase the pressure. Along with the new pipeline being added, Kinder-Morgan will be able to triple the amount of diluted bitumen, it can send to the ocean port. This will greatly increase the tanker traffic around the B.C. coast.

As the aboriginal tribes of our west coast remind us, we are endangering the water of life. Is it worth it?

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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