Archive for the ‘Provincial Politics’ Category

Kenney is running on ‘Empty.’

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

The new and unsurprising leader of the Alberta Conservatives is taking a trip to nowhere. He tells Albertans he is there to unite the right but there are two rights and those two rights do not necessarily make a new right or even a better right. And neither of the possible leaders, Jason Kenney or Brian Jean, are worthy of taking Alberta anywhere.

Nor does either have a slam dunk case to get chosen leader of a combined right. There was nothing new about Jason Kenney’s effort to win the Conservative Party leadership to enable him to dissolve the party. It was the same old Alberta-centric hokum that Alberta knows best—wrapping up carbon taxes and deficits and the new Democrats and disposing of them.

Frankly neither Jason Kenney nor Brian Jean bring anything to the table. Neither is a leader. They bring no new ideas, charisma or following to the job. Jason Kenney was nothing more than a ‘Yes-man’ for Stephen Harper. Brian Jean’s success is as a good constituency M.P. and M.L.A. They are henchman and ward healer.

The scary part is that they are both extremists. Jason Kenney is an anti-abortion ideologue on the extreme of the religious right. Brian Jean is on the far right as an economic extremist. Neither felt at home in Ottawa going along with Stephen Harper’s middle ground conservatism of the Conservative minority governments.

What Brian Jean knows and Jason Kenney does not seem to understand is that a race between the two of them for the leadership of the Wildrose and some party-to-be-named-later is going to be for a party dominated by Wildrose. It will be no centre-right party. It will be drained of many of the progressives who will be trucking over to the revived Liberals and the New Democrats. Jason Kenney has already demonstrated his suffrage of women in politics in the treatment of the two women in the Conservative leadership.

Two years ago, Alberta was bloody lucky that there was a viable party available to help save the province from itself. While the voters will deny it, Notley has taken herself and her party to the limits of catering to voters who seemed to have no understanding of the economic mess the province had created. Alberta has been in living high off the hog of resources for too long.

The truth is, Jason Kenney and Brian Jean are pitching a pipe dream.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Branding the PC’s Patrick Brown.

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017

The Ontario Progressive Conservatives are trying to sell Patrick Brown. Since few Ontario voters know the Conservative Leader, they think it is important to introduce him. They call a recent series of YouTube ads, ‘Brand Brown.’ Mind you they want to paint him as something other than we know him in Barrie.

Brown is a person who has devoted his life to politics. And we are sorry to note, his is not an altruistic quest. Brown is a user. He tells you what he thinks you want to hear to support him. He does not seem to like women. They certainly appear to be uninterested in him. During the time he represented Barrie in Ottawa, he kept his name in front of voters by using taxpayer paid mailings to promote different charities. The few speeches we heard him give over that time were obviously written for him by various writers in training.

But how does a political party introduce a leader who took over their party through deceit? Do they run ads saying: ‘This is our Leader Brown. Let him lie, cheat and steal for you too!’?

It seems they are trying to humanize him. It is sort of like saying: ‘Brown may look like a nerd. Just give him a chance. He will prove it.’

One thing you will find out about Brown: this boy is always campaigning. He is always running for something. You might wonder who is chasing him?

If you hear the news from Queen’s Park these days, you will know that Brown has the answers to everything. He will of course solve all the problems with Ontario Hydro and he will reveal his plans for cheaper electricity for the province after he becomes Premier. He will lower taxes and pay doctors much more. He will throw out the sex curriculum from schools so that teachers can concentrate on teaching the three R’s.

It is interesting to note that Brown started out in the Ontario Conservative race with the support of the extreme right-wing Ontario Landowners Association. These are rural voters who hate wind turbines, government and taxes. He was also the darling of Campaign Life. Since then, it seems the anti-abortionists have declared war on him. It is hard to say what the Ontario Landowners are thinking of him and his party after seeing pictures of Brown and some of the Conservative caucus in Toronto’s Pride Parade.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

What will an Ontario pilot prove?

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

The possible acceptance of a pilot project in Ontario of the idea of government providing a basic guaranteed income to its citizens is long overdue. There have been previous pilots—opened with great ballyhoo and then quietly dropped when the political will failed us.

But like all such pilots, they are dramatically over-managed, over-promoted and are virtually guaranteed to fail to meet over-inflated expectations. What is important to realize about these programs is that they replace a myriad of government band-aids for the unemployed, the unemployable, the handicapped, the marginalized and those families locked in a cycle of poverty because of mental or physical health.

One of the keys to simplifying the program is to have the individuals and families to be assisted make their own application. In some cases, this application might be made on their behalf by a government agency or a non-government charitable agency. Those not needing some or all of the support money will have it taxed back to the government. Ideally this type of program allows for graduated taxation on earnings to encourage self-help.

One of the more interesting results noted in the Manitoba “Minicom” guaranteed income test years ago was the reduction in hospital visits and stays. Keeping people from worrying about money seemed to help keep them out of hospital.

But, by any measure, a guaranteed income makes a dramatic change in attitudes for the entire population. It redirects a major part of the government social services agencies that interface with the public, enabling them to do their jobs more effectively and providing better service to the public. Over time, it could also reflect in a realignment of these agencies and cost savings.

There are the usual arguments going on across Ontario about this test. The main concern is that the guaranteed amount has to be high enough to sustain an individual or family in today’s society. Welfare rates in Ontario today are a disgrace and we have to get ahead of the poverty curve. You cannot expect an Ontario resident to have any quality of life today on an income of less than $1500 per month along with full medical and dental coverage. If the government thinks it can do the test for less than what people can live on, they are only doing the test to ensure failure.

We will be watching.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Could Chantal Hébert be so diabolical?

Saturday, March 18th, 2017

Is it whimsy or a diabolical intent? Is Toronto Star political guru Chantal Hébert really that devious? She recently proposed that Rona Ambrose, the federal interim leader for the Conservatives as the ideal person to step in and take over the reins of the combined provincial Conservatives in Alberta.

That is a wonderful proposal and we should all get behind it. Maybe we could excuse New Democrat Rachel Notley for not participating but Conservatives and Liberals can appreciate the irony. It would be justice writ big.

First of all, it would relegate that blow-hard Jason Kenney to the position of second fiddle. That is the most he deserves. And what would really feel good would be the fact that a woman put him in his place. After what happened to the women in the Alberta Conservative leadership race and the way they were treated by Kenney’s supporters, he deserves to be walked on by a lot of very sharp high heels.

And surely nobody is going to shed a tear for Wildrose Leader Brian Jean. Where the Hell is he taking that bunch of malingering malcontents? While we might have had a lot of sympathy for the Wildrose leader last year during the wildfire in his electoral district, it is time to face the facts. He would be taking on far more than he could chew to fight Kenney for the combined party leadership. He would need a lot of help to take on Stephen Harper’s go-to guy.

And we would strongly advise anybody to not take on Jason Kenney down some dark alley. He has probably never heard of the Marquis of Queensbury’s or any other rules of engagement.

But the suggestion of getting Rona Ambrose to challenge both Jean and Kenney for the combined conservative leadership is delicious. Rona is far tougher than either and she has proved it in her handling of the Conservative Party of Canada since the 2015 rout in parliament. She calls it as she sees it and she has kept the Liberals’ feet to the fire in an otherwise docile House of Commons.

And while we all know that polls taken today will be meaningless down the road, an Ambrose versus Notley battle for Alberta might just be a fair fight. What would make it even more interesting would be the resurrected Alberta Liberal Party with the fallout of progressive conservatives from a more right-wing Conservative Party.

We all need to face the facts that the days of narrow-minded Alberta-centric governments is coming to an end. All of us, as Canadians, have a responsibility to the entire country. We have to live together and build together. We have to care together. We have to share responsibility for our environment. It builds our future.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

A liberal look at leadership.

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

Ontario Liberals are finally realizing that there is a problem at Queen’s Park. It appears to be endemic. It affects every political party on the premises. It is the serious lack of leadership. Even the Liberal Party backbenchers are drawing lots to see who will be the Cassius who drives the first (rhetorical) knife in the back of Premier Kathleen Wynne.

Wynne has done what she could. She has been driving a tired and worn-out Liberal horse and buggy for too long. It needs to be refreshed, re-challenged and recharged for the good of the province. It is a party that desperately needs to see a new future.

But the future is not a feature with Wynne. She is a North Toronto right wing reactionary. She won the leadership of the Liberal Party by trickery and manipulation. Her deal with the devil seemed to have been with former Ontario Premier David Peterson and fellow candidate Glen Murray, MPP for the adjoining Toronto electoral district.

Looking at the news media’s selection of possible replacements does not fill our heart with cheer. MPPs such as Eric Hoskins and Charles Sousa could not dump their campaigns fast enough in the last leadership convention to climb aboard the Wynne bandwagon. They were looked after; not the voters.

At the same time, MPPs Steven Del Luca from Vaughan, Yasir Naqvi from Ottawa, Michael Coteau from Toronto (East York) and Mitzie Hunter from Toronto (Scarborough) are all fresher cabinet faces with potential. Each of the them might be able to talk about their vision for Ontario if out from under the oppressive leadership of Kathleen Wynne.

And, do not forget Sandra Pupatello. She is not to be confused with the lacklustre regime of Kathleen Wynne as she was not in the Legislature at the time. She has the experience, the drive and the ideas that could work for us.

In the meantime, Kathleen Wynne is saying that her reduction of costs for electric power will pay political dividends next year. What that remaining time means for this government is more time for the opposition parties to develop their strategies. While few are impressed with the leadership of either party, nobody says Conservative Patrick Brown or New Democrat Andrea Horwath are stupid.

Without concrete and visible action by the Liberals over the next 12 months, they will be going into an election campaign bound and ready for slaughter. The best action might be an entirely new leadership, new direction and new faces on the firing line with the voters.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Ontario is billing it forward.

Monday, March 6th, 2017

If you have heard of paying it forward, you should have no problem with the concept of billing something forward. It is the reverse of paying it forward. It is when you take a bill, you had put off for tomorrow and you stick it in a drawer to pay next year. It is the same as remortgaging your home for a longer period. You make smaller payments and pay for another ten years.

The Ontario Liberals under Kathleen Wynne have taken this desperation route to solving the province’s current mess in electricity billing. It might be the equivalent of doing business with payday-loan shysters but the Liberals are counting on it to save their bacon in next year’s provincial election. They might be whistling past the graveyard.

While long term, no Ontario political party has ever solved the problems with financing Ontario’s electricity generation and distribution. None of them are that smart. Between contracting to pay what clean energy really costs, canceling half built gas generation plants and trying to sell off the electricity distribution system, the Ontario Liberals have had entirely too much time to really screw things up.

But, let’s face facts, this leaderless Liberal party with its foolish sense of entitlement has really run its course. It is only the fact that the opposition parties are in worse shape as far leadership and ideas that gives the Liberals the nerve to say “Vote for us. They are losers too!”

It is not that Ontario voters do not deserve this problem. The facts are that any idiot politician can promise cheaper electricity and none can deliver. Ontario long ago ran out of places to build hydro dams. Instead of making sweetheart power deals with neighbouring Manitoba and Quebec, Ontario went nuclear—to the dismay of many of its citizens. And who said that clean energy was cheap?

The hard news to swallow is that with the continued loss of manufacturing in Ontario is freeing up electrical capacity. There are many times now when we do not need the power we are producing. We should be building the infrastructure needed today to electrify the rail lines across Ontario as well as the commuter lines.

What Ontario so desperately needs are leaders who can lead and politicians with vision. Oh, how we would if we could!

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Brown and Kenney: Contemporary Conservatives.

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

Conservative Leader Patrick Brown in Ontario and his friend Jason Kenney who is considered the front-runner in the race for the Alberta Conservative party leadership are surprisingly similar. They both lack political scruples, their lives are dedicated to their ambitions and they are not about to let anything stand in their way.

Neither of the two bachelors appear interested in women. It is believed that it was Kenney supporters in Alberta who drove the two women in that race to withdraw as candidates. They could not handle the misogynistic attacks against them. And they were not about to be attracted to Jason Kenney’s ‘Unite the Right’ campaign.

Brown defeated a strong woman candidate in the Ontario race by signing up tens of thousands of Hindu and Muslim Immigrants from India and Pakistan as temporary members of the party. Nobody in the Ontario party seems to care whether or not these people paid their own membership fees.

Both Brown and Kenney were raised Roman Catholic and are at home with the social conservative right. In Ottawa, neither ever voted for women’s rights. Brown is currently on the outs with the social conservative factions in Ontario. He deserted them because he knows he has to appeal to the more centrist Conservatives in that province to win. Kenny can stay to the social conservative right.

Kenney’s pitch in Alberta is that he wants the leadership of the Conservatives so he can wrap the party into the more radical Wildrose Party and create the united right that he thinks can win the province. This is also a more extremist right than some of Alberta’s current progressive conservatives are willing to support and a possible outcome of this is the rebuilding of a stronger Alberta Liberal Party.

The only difference that we are seeing in Ontario is that Brown is already flailing away at the Ontario Liberal government. While he has absolutely no idea what to do about the electricity production and distribution problems in the province, he hopes it is the Liberal’s Achilles’ heel. He has also helped bring Ontario doctors to the point of destroying their medical association. The cancer currently ravaging the doctors’ organization is caused by the greed and lack of cooperation among specialists. And the hierarchies among the profession could use lessons in democracy—that they will not get from Patrick Brown and friends.

But Kenney has no worry about that situation. Alberta doctors are already the highest paid in Canada.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Repeating Ontario’s Train Wreck.

Monday, February 27th, 2017

You sometimes wonder about politicians who get in trouble and keep going back to the guru’s who helped get them into trouble in the first place. It is like having a train wreck and continuing to send locomotives down that same track, hoping one of the locomotives will make it. Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has even gone back to the same locomotive driver. You would think that her friend Ed Clark, the former banker, had already proved that he is no train driver.

Look what Clark did for the Ontario Liberal’s before: His solution to providing capital funds was to tell them to sell off the majority of Hydro One, Ontario’s electricity distribution system. Hydro One had been created by Premier Mike Harris prior to his intent to sell it off—but wiser heads prevailed at the time. Clark’s argument was that privatising would sharpen up Hydro One’s efficiencies and improve profits for the shareholders. Instead it has given Ontario electricity users an additional target for their anger.

Clark might have let his bias against crown corporations cloud his thinking. It can be a very false assumption to think all crown corporations are less well run than their private sector counterparts.

But then Clark also came up with the scheme to use a form of water torture to introduce beer, wine and cider into Ontario grocery stores—a few at a time. This must have been the stupidest, most anal plan anyone could come up with. It seemed to be designed to annoy, confuse and frustrate the consumer who might want to pick up a six-pack while shopping or maybe include a decent bottle of wine to go with dinner. It is not working and the grocery stores involved have looked stupider than the politicians.

What is really annoying about this is the elitist attitude that it reflects. The politicians and their chosen consultants are patronizing Ontario consumers while looking after their corporate friends at George Weston Ltd.

Maybe Ed Clark has never been in a corner convenience store—maybe his chauffeur goes in for him? He probably does not understand why people would like to walk to the corner convenience store for a six-pack.

And maybe that is what is wrong in this province. We need politicians who can understand why a citizen might enjoy walking to the corner convenience store for a six-pack.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Is that Mainstreet or Elm Street?

Saturday, February 25th, 2017

Having started out as a young man writing scripts for telephone co-incidental research, we are not about to easily buy into Interactive Voice Response (IVR) polling. This is mentioned in that some recent political polls in Alberta and B.C. have the politicos excited. The polls were done with IVR by Mainstreet Research. What we have always assumed about this technique of political research is that quality of call is replaced with quantity of calls.

But people used to lie to live interviewers and why would they not lie to a recording? And why would children and teenagers not have some phone fun with a recording? It was a long time ago that researchers found that the entire United States could be based on sampling just 480 people. Increasing that figure has not improved accuracy in polling. It is just an opportunity to annoy more people in their homes.

Before you malign all pollsters though, you should bear in mind that even a stopped clock is correct twice a day. And knowing Quito Maggi, CEO of Mainstreet, we should mention we once made a ten-dollar side bet on an election on which we were working. He lost, he paid and it felt good.

But this commentary is about Quito’s IVR research out west. The Mainstreet news is that the Wildrose Party would win an election tomorrow. As there is no writ for an election in Alberta tomorrow, you can relax. The interpretation of this survey is that if whomever is leader of the right in Alberta at the next election—if there is only one right-wing party—will have a slam-dunk.

But since there are two right-wing parties in Alberta, we should wait until the Conservatives pick their new leader and see how he does at trying to strong-arm the Wildrose to join his party. And by the way, the electoral districts will be redistributed before the next election. Best that Albertan’s wait before celebrating any victories.

It might also be best to wait until the election in British Columbia as well. The Mainstreet polling shows the ruling Liberals and the provincial New Democrats are almost tied and the Green Party is the wild card. What it obviously means is that the anti-pipeline voters will be out in force and the fence Premier Christy Clark is trying to ride in the coming election is going to get more and more uncomfortable. Quito Maggi is quoted as saying that what they know is they do not know enough.

But Quito might have other concerns. Mainstreet Research is reported to now be part of American Bellwether Technologies. He might not know that a bellwether can also be a castrated ram who leads his herd of sheep. Good luck, Quito!

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Nobody gives a damn about English.

Friday, February 24th, 2017

It is only when you note the time and money devoted to preserving the French language in different parts of the world, that you start to wonder. Is the English language so pervasive that nobody worries about it? Only the dictionary publishers seem to have a vested interest so they can produce new editions periodically.

But why do we get the feeling that the English language is going downhill in a bucket and nobody cares? If you wander around the United States for too long, you will be convinced that the Americans are separating it into about six distinct languages, with hundreds of regional dialects thrown in. While in Canada, the late Don Harron, turned listening to rural Ontario accents into a comedic career as the raconteur and writer character of Charlie Farquarson.

Getting on topic here is tough. What started this rant was our complaint last week about Canada’s parliament not knowing the difference between a phobia and bigotry. The difference is simple: a phobia needs help and bigotry needs a spanking. A phobia is a morbid fear while bigotry is usually just based on ignorance.

It was very difficult to watch our federal politicians arguing over the wording of a simple motion (having no more authority than a ‘Like to Have’) rather than dealing with the real problem. And by the way folks, there is little you can do about bigots until what they are communicating passes from freedom of speech into a hate crime.

But there was no argument in the Ontario Legislature. The Liberals there put the same motion as their federal counterparts before that house and the two opposition parties got immediately in line to pass it. This was almost a welcome relief after the rancorous debates earlier in the Legislature over electricity distributors’ cut-offs and pricing. All we usually hear from Queen’s Park is about electricity costs and that nobody seems to have a clue about what to do about it.

At least with this motion, the New Democrats jumped to agree to the Islamophobia motion as they had nothing else to do. Patrick Brown of the Ontario Conservatives supported the motion with his usual hypocrisy. When it costs nothing to look good, he is in favour of it. He is unlikely to know whether the wording is correct.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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