Archive for the ‘Provincial Politics’ Category

Doug Ford’s base is into booze.

Tuesday, April 30th, 2019

There. Question asked. Question answered. If you had a bunch of freeloaders such as Ford Nation supporting you in politics, would you not reciprocate by supporting some of their wishes? His base wants better access to booze. All these newspaper people fail to understand why premier Ford is changing the booze regulations in Ontario. Now you know. This is payoff time.

Doug Ford might be the first politician in Ontario to really honour his promises. Good on Dougie! He might be a jerk but he knows enough to keep some of his promises.

Former premier Kathleen Wynne knew that people were annoyed by Ontario’s antiquated liquor laws. She drove us crazy with that Chinese water torture of adding one large grocery store at a time to beer and wine sales. And then she restricted their hours of sale, forced them to charge the same as the LCBO and limited their sales.

I feel sorry for the local police in Hamilton, Ottawa and Toronto when we start having boozy tail-gate parties at Canadian Football League games. We already have enough drunks disturbing those games.

But the real problem with this circus Doug Ford is running are the lies the media are feeding people to try to stop this freewheeling opening up on booze.

One of the stupidest lies is that booze is already abundantly available. You should consider that there might be 2300 LCBO, Beer Store, Grocery store and agencies actually selling alcohol products in Ontario (population 14 million). That is ridiculous when you consider that 8 million Quebec citizens have a choice of more than 6000 outlets including SAQ and grocery stores as well as beer and wine in the ubiquitous dépanneurs. I cannot think of a better excuse to force our Ontario convenience stores to upgrade their premises.

And if you believe that Ontario is really on the hook for a billion dollars to abrogate some specious agreement with the foreign owners of the Beer Store, I will send you my bill for the inconvenience of having to get my two-fours at those disgusting, smelly Beer Stores. And no, it is not likely that convenience stores will carry many craft brews. Convenience stores are for convenience. Our liquor stores could learn how to merchandise.

Besides, I have a crying towel for all those stupid blue-stockings who think they have a right to tell others how to live. If you think booze is always harmful, hire your own billboard!

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Ford finds friends.

Friday, April 26th, 2019

Politicians always claim that they represent the people. Doug Ford ran a successful campaign in Ontario last year with the slogan: Doug Ford – For the People.

But the truth is that the voters have little say on laws presented for consideration and discussion. Bills take a long and cumbersome route from idea to fruition and most of the discussion is between the civil servants and the lobbyists for those who have a selfish interest in the bill. It is only if the bill is contentious and might be dropped that the premier or a senior minister finds that they have friends who want a word with them.

The interesting thing about that is between this new government and its predecessor, there are different friends. Times have changed.

The previous liberal government had the usual big donors but their friends seemed to be mainly corporate lawyers and bankers. If you needed to influence the premier or certain cabinet ministers, there were people you could call.

The new gang at Queen’s Park present a different situation. For one thing the Ford government is more of a one-man band. It seems that our premier does not trust his cabinet ministers to do their jobs. They do not have years of working together. Ford does not appear to think of them as colleagues. They are a bunch of people who want his job.

You should remember that Doug Ford’s previous political experience were those wacky and fun-filled four years with his late brother at Toronto city hall. In city politics, it is the developers and their lawyers who seek to endear themselves to the right politicos.

Obviously, Doug Ford is also taking their calls as premier. Lawyers throughout Ontario have already been advised who to call at Toronto firms that have invested time and effort with the premier.

Just remember, Doug Ford is open for business.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Bountiful B.S. for the Beer Store.

Thursday, April 25th, 2019

When even the Toronto Star gets in line to support the Beer Store’s battle with Ford and Friends at Queen’s Park, you know the fight is on. Just the other day, the Star proposed on its front page that having beer in corner stores could cost Ontario taxpayers $1 billion. Which you have to realize is just bull shit.

The Ontario government and its Beer Store allies have been mistreating, inconveniencing and stealing from this province’s beer drinkers for most of the last 100 years. And this is not a ‘blue-stockings’ versus ‘progressives’ argument. The people fighting the hardest against convenience stores selling beer and wine are the Beer Store union.

If you think foreign-owned Labatt, Molson and Sleeman are going to sue the Ontario government for redress when the government is opening up millions in new sales for them, you are crazy. You never kill the golden goose that has been feeding fat profits to you.

The Ontario government, the LCBO and the Beer Store have been ripping off Ontario drinkers since the last time we had prohibition in Ontario. Why do you think Ottawa Valley residents mostly go to Quebec to do their serious beer and wine purchasing?

The arguments must be coming down to the short strokes and the more strident, the sillier. First of all, is the story that the Beer Store committed to an agreement(?) to spend $100 million per year building and maintaining its outlets. If it did not budget that much anyway, it would not be serious about doing business. They have just fewer than 450 stand-alone stores now. They have had a free ride on the liquor stores carrying their products in the most expensive packaging and recently the last liberal government in Ontario added some of the larger grocery stores.

But Ford and Friends won the last popularity contest to call the shots at Queen’s Park and they are out to show how populist they can be. They are not only lightening the liquor rules but they are opening up the distribution. If they follow through, Ontario beer drinkers are really going to catch a break.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Facts and fake news from Ford and foes.

Thursday, April 18th, 2019

The facts are few but the opinions are fanciful as we read reaction to the Ford government’s alcohol policies. What is particularly amusing is that we are told neither the premier nor his finance minister drink alcohol. And yet they are telling old, staid and dull Ontario to loosen up and have another drink.

They have obviously found out how many billions in taxes the distribution of booze brings the province each year. Regretfully, the doubling of availability will be unlikely to double that revenue.

But it still frightens the ‘blue-stockings’ among us. I always thought that ‘Repression Works’ was the motto of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union.

The new and plentiful hours of booze service would frighten Carrie Nation. Drinking in parks and parking lots is also new. Deals for ‘happy hour’ sound exciting and free drinks while gambling does not. (Any smart gambler will settle for the free coffee while gambling.)

Rob Simpson of Sagewood Resources writes in the Toronto Star that government costs of alcohol addiction in Ontario exceed revenues by $465.4 millions. That is a very precise estimate, when he does not seem to know the extent of the revenues.

It is not that I would argue with the suggestion he makes that the price of alcohol is the number one contributor to increased consumption. Judging by Dougie’s experience with his ‘buck-a-beer,’ pledge, there is little chance of lowered prices of booze in the province.

Simpson also states that the Wynne government had already made “massive” increases to the availability of alcohol with its water torture adding of a few grocery stores to selling beer and wine. He seriously says that the fact that each of the (eventually) 450 stores planned, which were each capped at $1 million in sales(?) would add a total $450 million to Ontario booze revenues.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

The Alberta that God forgot.

Wednesday, April 17th, 2019

“O outcast land! O leper land!
Let the lone wolf-cry all express
The hate insensate of thy hand,
Thy heart’s abysmal loneliness.”

From the poems of Robert Service.

Jason Kenney won the Alberta election and the embittered battles over bitumen are drawing clearer lines. He joins the blow-hard conservatives of Ontario, Saskatchewan and Manitoba in building walls against people and Canada’s future.  Just another climate change denier.

But what incentive does he bring to encourage prime minister Justin Trudeau to build the twinned, high pressure Trans Mountain pipeline? We have certainly not heard honeyed words between them.

Let us remember that the Old Kinder Morgan pipeline has been in use since 1953. Refurbishing it and twinning it to carry diluted bitumen costs about as much as what the Canadian government paid for it originally. To carry the bitumen from the Alberta tar sands to Burnaby, B.C., the pipeline has to have heaters to keep the bitumen liquid and use high pressure to keep it moving.

Admittedly, the voters of Alberta had little choice presented in the election. Premier Rachel Notley looked worn and tired after the rigours of her job for the past four years. Jason Kenney even lost some of his baby fat to look fit and ready to take the reins.

But with what looked like a record turn-out in the election, Kenney’s slammed together conservatives won the field.

Albertans can repent at their leisure.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

In the arrogance of ignorance.

Sunday, April 14th, 2019

You saw the big beaming smiles on their faces. If not in the newspapers or television news clips, you can imagine the smugness that Ontario’s conservative government felt bringing in their first budget accounting for Ontario’s billions in revenues. Despite their promises of efficiencies and despite the braggadocio, they failed to even keep pace with inflation. And they failed those who need the most from their government.

In the armour of their dark suits and bright ties, the conservatives laid their claim to the purse strings of the province. The treasurer was strident in his presentation and the premier laughing. He did not have much to laugh about as more and more the bad news was laid on those who could least afford it.

In the age-old tradition of politics everywhere, the treasurer blamed the former government for the slip-shod accounting that left the mess they inherited. They will let the deficit increase until the promised reform by the next term in office. Yes, we have heard it all before.

But the deepest cuts are in the loutish treatment of those less capable of defending themselves. Social services are slashed by a billion dollars. Legal aid can do with 30 per cent less money. Colleges and universities are set up for funding cuts. If you are poor, you can get by with less is this government’s claim.

But do not think of this government as just mean spirted and cruel. It also has a somewhat weird sense of humour. In the tradition of Hogarth’s Gin Lane painting of the mid 1700s, drink is the answer. Drink more, drink often as hours of sale for booze increase and there are more places coming to meet your need for the demon rum and beer.

And the most incongruous actions are the new Tory-blue licence plates and the adhesive signs for the gas pumps damning the federal liberals for the carbon tax that is part of the plan to fight pollution.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Tories take a try at Toronto transit.

Saturday, April 13th, 2019

You really need to be a Torontonian to recognize the absurdity of the Ontario government’s latest plan for Toronto transit. It seems to be a right of passage for Toronto politicians that they all have to give transit another kick in passing. Premier Doug Ford should be passing out cigars for this baby.

The new scheme has the Ford signature subway to Scarborough. It will probably get the title of the Rob Ford Memorial Ditch if it ever gets dug. Built is yet another problem.

The parsimonious progressive conservatives of Ontario do not have the money. And they really have no intention of finding it.

As frightening as the plan might be, it does provide the odd chuckle. Why do you think the government wants a subway terminus at Ontario Place? It sure is not for the last half of August each year to bring people to the Ex.

And you hardly need to look at that proposed transit map for long to wonder what idiots did this design. Did they even look at bus use, traffic patterns, population demographics or densities?

Mind you, they must have some better vision of what the city should have in high speed transit than the ridiculous maze that cut King Street West off from logical traffic. The city needed to have some adults take control.

This Ford government experiment in transit planning is somewhat whimsical. And if not that, the timelines are mythical and the cost estimates hysterical. And this is so much that Toronto needed—one more damn plan that people will argue over for years instead of getting anything done.

I expect it is an unfair comparison but I have always compared Toronto’s transit solutions with those of Chicago, Illinois. Both cities have the problem of being built upside a lake. Chicago’s Els that are based on the city’s train network, are noisy and smelly and ugly. Chicago city is equally badly run—if not worse.

But Chicago’s Els are people movers and they have done the job over the past century. Toronto just needs to grow up and tell Ford’s phonies to get their hands out of the city’s cookie jar.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

In Alberta, vote, wash hands, wash hands again.

Thursday, April 11th, 2019

With less than a week to another Alberta provincial election I cannot forecast the vote. It is one of those times you can only vote against. There seem to be few positive options. The entire campaign is a disaster and a disappointment.

It is a given that I despise Jason Kenney. It makes it annoying that I have always had more readers in Kenney’s home town of Calgary than in Edmonton. Part of the reason is that I have more friends and relations there than in Edmonton. The only problem is almost everyone in Calgary thinks they are part of Sheriff Kenney’s posse that is going to restore Alberta’s fictional oil supremacy.

What I find hard to believe is that a normally smart and capable Rachel Notley has also bought into this oil B.S. and thinks she can solve Alberta’s economic problems with that ersatz heavy oil that is nothing but bitumen-based sludge.

The other day, premier Notley pledged that the Trudeau liberals would have the Trans Mountain pipeline back on the build by the end of May. Her back-up plan is to spend billions on rail tankers to take the bitumen to China. You would think that Albertans would be tired of hearing about how good it is going to be by now.

Mind you, that sleaze Kenney is a master of the untruth. Why does he remind me so much of Hollywood star Bob Hope singing I’m all yours in buttons and bows to co-star Jane Russell in the politically incorrect movie Paleface? Kenney does not even like women. He is the only politician I know who loses a few kilos of baby fat before an election.

But it all goes down to the wire next week. It hardly matters who the voters choose. There is no future in the tar sands but a few nickels and dimes for the foreign investors.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Ontario liberals need a leader.

Friday, April 5th, 2019

It is good to see that there are a number of worthy contenders already at the starting line for the upcoming leadership contest for the Ontario liberals. More important than the names of those individuals, at this point in time, are the rules for the race.

And the simpler the rules, the better. Over the years, we have seen too many of all parties’ leadership races twisted to unfair advantage by leadership contenders. Surprisingly, it is the more complex the rules, the easier it is to bend them. The simpler the rules, the harder it is for the unscrupulous to twist them to advantage.

First of all, it should always be one member-one vote. Delegated conventions have been corrupted for too many years. And all electoral districts are not equal, nor should they be counted as such. There is no way a riding with 500 members should be counted the same as one with just 100 members. You do not want to honour mediocrity. Nor should anyone pay their basic membership with anything other than their personal credit card. The occasional person with no credit card needs witnesses.

Nothing other than a single mark or the single click of a mouse should be the process for voting. Please do not try to speed the voting process with preferential voting. You are seeking the best not mediocrity.

To come to a majority decision is the democratic choice of the party and each ballot should be called without dropped candidates trying to influence the subsequent voting. They can only dignify the subsequent ballot with their silence.

And the party has to realize that fund-raising by candidates cannot be a yardstick for quality of leadership. Less is more in leadership. Ideas stand tall. Communications are in the content, not the gloss. Can this candidate walk in your shoes?

We have an opportunity in this leadership contest to be proud of our choice of leader. Let him or her really reflect the liberalism people need in to-day’s Ontario.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

In a time of fools in Quebec.

Monday, April 1st, 2019

There is no more appropriate time to recognize the foolishness of the bigotry that emerges periodically in Quebec than April Fools Day. They bring it on themselves. Quebec leaders and politicians seem endlessly adept at bringing derision on themselves and their province for bigotry and tribalism.

The provincial paranoia seems to have settled on immigration as its greatest threat today. It is hard to understand what end the politicians seek to achieve. The latest stunt in the national assembly in Quebec City is for premier François Legault’s Coalition Avenir Québec government to introduce another bill to confirm the religious neutrality of the state. To do this, the government is proposing that nobody in a position of authority is allowed to wear anything with religious connotations. This seems to include everything from head scarves, to crucifixes, to skull caps and turbans.

To get away with this thinly disguised bigotry, the national assembly is being asked to over-ride both the Canadian Bill of Rights and Freedoms and the similar Quebec bill of rights. It seems that the guarantees of religious freedom under these rights bills are not as guaranteed as we assumed.

Immigration minister Simon Jolin-Barrett told the assembly that this bill is a logical follow-up to Quebec’s Quiet Revolution of the 1960s when Quebec threw off many of the controls the Roman Catholic Church held over education and health care. Actually, it reads more like the failed Quebec values bill of the PQ’s Pauline Marois in 2012.

At least the law-makers had the grace to also remove the large crucifix that dominated the décor of their assembly hall for many years.

What is obvious is that most Quebec voters do not know the difference between a head scarf, a hijab, a niqab or a burka. Nor do they realize that these styles of clothing are mainly cultural in origin and have little to do with religion.

But ignorance is no excuse for a bill that promotes bigotry. Premier Legault and his CAQ colleagues should be ashamed of themselves.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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