Archive for the ‘Provincial Politics’ Category

In the Fascist Fashion.

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017

We should be worried about what happened in Quebec City the other day. It was not just unseemly. It certainly was not funny. They came for a fight, to create and to foster mayhem. For an insular society, these Quebecers brought dishonour to their country and their province.

The fascists, who call themselves La Muete (which translates to: The Pack) should have been ignored. The media had a light day. They gave both sides opportunities for publicity. Bored teenagers came for the thrill. Thugs came for the brawl. They all brought their weapons of choice.

The first problem was that it was hard to tell the Pack from the counter-protestors. They both wanted to rough up the news media. The police, in their European style riot gear, tried to keep the peace by taking the Pack out of sight. Pleased with themselves, the Pack went along.

The anti-fascist protestors were bored and they took out their frustrations on police and media. These protestors came for a fight and they felt they were being denied. The police finally got tired of the troublemakers in the counter protest and declared that protest to be an illegal assembly. They chased the trouble makers away after making a single symbolic arrest.

The main problem with these protestors was that many of them had their faces covered. They did not seem to understand that you do not cover your face nor should you bring weapons to protest fascism. Fascism uses bullying tactics. All you have to do is stand up to them and say ‘No.’ You have no need to hide your identity. When you fail to show your face, you are showing fear. You are letting the fascists win.

And the fascists won in Quebec City. They made the anti-fascists look foolish. They gave the finger to the news media. They had their march. It ended in front of the empty National Assembly buildings. It proved nothing other than that they could. The news media had little else to cover on a summer weekend. It got reported.

There are really many better things to do on a pleasant summer weekend in Quebec City.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

 

The trial of Kathleen Wynne.

Thursday, August 17th, 2017

The trial is set to begin in Sudbury, Ontario on September 7. We would ignore the trial and its political implications if it did not involve the present Premier of Ontario. Mind you Kathleen Wynne will spend most of the trial on the sidelines. She is not charged with a crime. She has lackeys for that.

Standing in for the Premier is a long-time staff member, Patricia Sorbara. Pat has been in and around the Ontario Liberal Party at Queen’s Park since the mid 1980s. She has risen slowly from minor roles with junior ministers to the premier’s office. Choosing her to tell a former candidate to back off from a byelection was not exactly the vote of confidence that any political apparatchik wants to hear. It means you can be disavowed if things go wrong.

Sorbara and her local contact, a prominent Sudbury undertaker and Liberal fundraiser, Gerry Lougheed were just that. If anything were to go wrong with the Premier’s plan, those two (as they say in politics) were there to be thrown under the bus. And Sorbara and Lougheed were.

There does not seem to be any denial of the facts of the conversations with former candidate, Andrew Olivier—who, as a quadriplegic, records important chats rather than taking notes. There seems to be no way though to lay a charge against the Premier for what she might have told them to say.

Another unindicted defendant in this trial will be Ontario’s minister of energy, Glen Thibault, the winning Liberal candidate in that Sudbury by-election. While there were some carefully worded criticisms of his role from his former friends in the New Democratic caucus at Queen’s Park, he records nothing and remembers nothing improper being offered to him to encourage him to run for the Liberals in the by-election.

But it will be the news media and the public who will make that connection after the trial is over. And if there is even the hint of a criticism of the Premier in the judge’s ruling, it will be embellished and shouted louder by the opposition in next June’s provincial election.

And then the election itself will be the severest test of all. Because no matter who wins next year’s provincial election, the losers will be the Ontario voters.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Barrie’s Bad Boy Brown.

Tuesday, August 15th, 2017

There is no reason to worry. The next provincial election is not scheduled until June 7 next year. By then, we should expect that far more Ontario voters are going to realize what a screw-up Brown would be as premier. It is not that he is dishonest, devious and dumb, we have had all those traits in previous premiers. Hell, just look at President Trump in the United States. He beats Brown six ways to Sunday.

But at least everyone knows what Donald Trump wants. You cannot say that for Patrick Brown. Sure, Trump lied all the way to the White House. We know that Brown simply stole the leadership of the Ontario Tories by swamping their membership. He signed up close to 40,000 new immigrants from the Indian Sub-Continent and nobody checked to see if they paid their own memberships.

Recently an interviewer noted that Brown was there in the front row at the Barrie Country Club when former Tory leader Tim Hudak announced his ill-fated pledge to fire 100,000 Ontario civil servants if he won the last provincial election. It was very funny when Brown said how concerned he was about this policy—despite the television people having the shot of him being the first to jump up to congratulate Tim Hudak on his brilliant speech.

But you can hardly deny that Tim Hudak had some ideas—as bad as they were. Brown is not giving us anything other than platitudes.

All we have to go on with Brown is how he voted in the House of Commons on free votes on subjects such as women’s rights—he is against them. Since then he has kept flip-flopping on subjects such as sex education. His remarkable conversion to recognizing gay rights seemed to be based on how many times he could get the news media to get another picture of him in Toronto’s Gay Pride Parade.

Politically, Brown is a user. He uses people. He uses charities. Instead of putting forward proposals to help people live better, he uses their problems to promote himself. Later this month, he will once again be taking the credit for a hockey event in Barrie for charity that we suspect his political staff organizes. He promotes it but seems to have stopped taking the direct responsibility for it. This might be because some people have been wondering what an audit over the years of the of the event might reveal.

But if you think we are being unfair to Mr. Brown, we would certainly like to know about it. My e-mail address is below.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Better Living with Bitumen.

Monday, August 14th, 2017

Reading an apologist for Alberta’s tar sands exploiters the other day, we learned that the little town of Hardisty, Alberta is the hub of a North American maze of pipelines. This town of 550 people can store up to 25 million barrels of diluted bitumen before sending it east, south or west by pipeline or rail car. The only question you are not allowed to ask is why it is not refined into synthetic crude oil before being shipped.

And that is the crux of Alberta’s problem. They can confuse people as much as they like by calling them ‘oilsands’ but The Athabasca and Cold Lake fields are among the largest deposits in the world of what we know as tar sands. That tarry substance that has been called ‘pitch’ in earlier times is actually bitumen. If you refined all that bitumen into synthetic crude oil before you shipped it, the entire province would be several metres deep in carbon deposits known as bitumen slag. The worst of it is that bitumen slag is very light and the first strong breeze coming across the Rockies could blow that carbon into Northern Ontario.

And you can be sure that Saskatchewan and Manitoba farmers would be less than thrilled having to plow their fields wearing breathing masks and protective goggles. How they would protect the livestock is a different matter.

And that is why they want to call that stuff in these new pipelines ‘crude oil.’ It is really diluted bitumen. There are various types of diluent material used but they are usually oil based as that can help move the heated mixture through a pipeline at higher pressure. It is this higher pressure that worries us the most about these pipelines.

Normal, relatively safe, oil and gas pipelines have been in service for many years. There have been some spills but they get cleaned up and life goes on.

Not so with diluted bitumen. On water, this stuff floats along a bit because of the diluent and then gradually sinks to the bottom where it can stay for ever. Ask the people on the North Saskatchewan River near Prince Albert, Saskatchewan how that works for them. And that was a small bitumen spill. The people along the Kalamazoo River in Michigan had billions spent trying to clean up their river. It will take that ecosystem many years to recover.

The simple facts are that Canadians would better off paying those nice people in Hardisty, Alberta a CEO’s pension for the rest of their lives. That damn bitumen is best left in the ground.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

She could use her married name.

Monday, August 7th, 2017

The question was: What would help Brian Mulroney’s daughter win a seat in the Legislature in the next Ontario provincial election? The obvious answer is to use a different name. It might be a quarter century since Canadian voters turfed Brian Mulroney’s Conservatives (then led by Kim Campbell) and left the party with just two seats in parliament, but the odour lingers.

But Caroline Mulroney has other concerns. She is mother of four pre-teens at her and her husband’s estate in Georgina between Barrie and Toronto. She is a principal in BloombergSen investment firm but seems to lack political savvy. For example, it is not the amount you spend on an announcement but the creativity, competence and thought you put into it.

Her timing is bad because the provincial party is currently mired in claims and counter claims about the problems created by the party’s leader and his team in attracting and nominating candidates. Throwing a name candidate such as Ms. Mulroney into the melee seems unfair to her.

And since not much happens in York-Simcoe riding without the blessing of Conservative MP Peter Van Loan, we wonder what is going on?

What really turns us off in this announcement is that her husband Andrew Lapham is an executive of New York’s Blackstone investment firm that has fully functioning offices around the world but apparently not in Toronto. Maybe Ms. Mulroney intends to keep her husband in the background.

The believable aspect of Ms. Mulroney’s candidacy is her claim that York-Simcoe voters tell her they want change. Since voters in that area both federally and provincially have been represented by Conservative politicians for the past two decades, we can understand that desire for change.

But knowing she grew up as a child of privilege and went to University in Boston and New York does not warm us to her compassion. Her philanthropic efforts show little depth of understanding in societal needs.

What really turns us off is her glowing description of Ontario Conservative leader Patrick Brown. Her father addressed the Conservative caucus at Queen’s Park a year ago and told them how important he thinks it is for caucuses to support their leader. Brian Mulroney probably knows a thing or two about that problem.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Murray dumps Wynne.

Thursday, August 3rd, 2017

“Don’t let the door handle hit you in the ass on the way out, Glen!” The good news is that Ontario Environment Minister Glen Murray is leaving the Wynne cabinet in Ontario. The bad news is that his new job is as executive director of Alberta’s namby-pamby Pembina Institute. It should suit him.

It was not as though he was doing anything useful in Toronto. From the time in the Ontario Liberal leadership when he dumped his supporters in the gay community a week before voting on delegates, Murray’s self interest has been apparent. He was assuring himself a cabinet position while fouling the voting for convention delegates.

Some people are describing his departure as a rat leaving a sinking ship but there is a long way to go before the Ontario election scheduled for June 7, 2018. If Wynne and her Liberals had any competition, they would worry.

At 50, Montreal-born Glen Murray has been trying to decide where he is headed. He was elected three times as a Winnipeg councillor and served six years as mayor of Winnipeg before coming to Toronto. The one political loss he suffered over the years was a stab at a federal seat in 2004 in Manitoba. It was not a good election for Liberals in the west.

He won a seat in the Ontario Legislature in a by-election in February 2010.

As a politician, you can see his appeal for the Pembina Institute. You would think that a Calgary-based environmentalist organization would do very poorly among the local tar sands exploiters but that is not the case. The institute seems almost apologetic when it explains the harm bitumen can do. It must also be the only environmentalist organization to refer to bitumen as ‘crude oil.’

(Bitumen is the tarry substance in the tar sands that can be refined into ersatz crude oil at a substantial carbon footprint. It has to be diluted with a carrier and heated to send it through a pipeline at high pressure.)

Glen Murray’s seat in the Ontario Legislature will remain vacant until after the June election next year. It should not make too much difference.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

It’s the wrong argument on minimum wage.

Tuesday, August 1st, 2017

Arguing about how many in Ontario work for a minimum wage is silly. Governments always seem to be trailing the curve on this problem. It is the people who are falling behind who need to get ahead of the poverty line.

Can you imagine a serious writer suggesting that a higher minimum wage is unnecessary because so many of the people earning minimum wage are younger people who live with their parents? They actually say that these young people do not need an increase. It makes you wonder how you would word the means test for that theory?

At the other end of the spectrum, you have the spawn of George Weston telling us that their $33 billion enterprise under the Loblaws and Shopper’s Drug Mart names will lose as much as a third of its profits because of raising the minimum wage in Alberta and Ontario. Well, we certainly do not want to deny the Weston family another hundred million or so in profits do we?

The far more serious complaint is how long this increase is to be dangled in front of people in need? It is taking the Ontario government until the beginning of 2019 to raise it to $15 per hour. And it might not be a good bet if the Brown Conservatives accidently win next year’s election. Brown is careful who he says it to but he does not approve of any increase.

The reason most economists support higher minimum wages (certainly above the poverty line) is that the people getting the benefit of this money are most likely to spend it sooner. Increasing the minimum wage has been known to have a beneficial effect on the economy.

It has always been clear to me that the company that treats its employees the best is the winner. For example, there are two very large retail outlets at the south end of Barrie. They are easy to distinguish. One pays most employees the minimum wage. That store does not have happy, helpful employees. The store seems dark and the shelves are not well stocked.

The other store is bright and clean. Its employees are always eager to assist and make that extra effort to please the customers. This store is reputed to be paying its employees a basic $21.50 an hour. The place is always busy.

One of those stores is called Walmart. The smart one is called Costco.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Jagmeet Singh: Not just a pretty face.

Saturday, July 29th, 2017

The New Democratic Party’s federal leadership race is getting a little more heated. With less than two months to go, the race has taken on some disturbing aspects of the last Conservative leadership in Ontario. It is turning into Jagmeet Singh’s race to win if he is using the same tactics as Ontario Conservative winner Patrick Brown.

Brown looked at the almost one million recent immigrants in Ontario from South Asia (mainly Hindu, Sikh and Muslim from the Indian Sub-Continent) and signed up almost 40,000 temporary Conservatives. It is even easier for Jagmeet Singh to organize among this group than Brown and Singh can add another 30,000 potential supporters in B.C.

You can also assume that more than 50 per cent of the 100,000 plus NDP members are already from British Columbia and Ontario. And with all votes counting instead of balanced across the country, it is winning in those two provinces that matters.

And Quebec voters would be the least likely to support a party headed by a turbaned Sikh—no matter how much GQ Magazine admires and approves the rest of his attire.

The main difference between Conservative Brown and New Democratic Singh is that Jagmeet is a hero among the Canadian Sikh community. He has also supported Sikh candidates for the NDP across Canada.

Jagmeet (at 38) also has more life experience than contemporary Patrick Brown (at 39). Jagmeet has had considerably more experience and success as a lawyer than Brown, has proposed more bills in the Ontario Legislature than Brown did in both Ottawa and Queens’ Park and Brown would hardly want to even arm wrestle with a trained athlete such as Jagmeet.

Oddly enough neither Brown nor Singh has much to say about their policy direction. Brown does not seem to have any and Singh seems to be hoeing to the standard New Democratic policy book.

Whether either of these two men is at all ready to lead their respective parties anywhere is a very large question mark. The knives will be out for Brown after the next election in Ontario in June 2018. Jagmeet Singh would be wise to ride out that election as Ontario Deputy Leader and be ready to take over as Ontario leader when Andrea Horwath steps down. In the meantime, he can study where the NDP’s future might be.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

The marriage of Alberta’s Alt-right.

Friday, July 28th, 2017

Can you not just visualize Stan Laurel, in the person of Brian Jean, saying to Oliver Hardy, in the person of Jason Kenney, “Well here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten us into.” The mess they are into is a new provincial party in Alberta that could earn the enmity of the rest of Canada. It is an extremist version of a United Conservative Party of Alberta that few decent Albertans will want to support.

Former MP and former leader of Alberta’s Conservative Party, Jason Kenney has led Alberta’s once powerful Conservatives into a marriage with the Conservative offshoot Wildrose Party. It is a marriage without principles. It is a marriage without niceties. It is nothing more than a disgusting grab for power. It is so blatantly dishonest that it could make Donald Trump blush.

And yet nobody misses the similarities to Donald Trump’s policies. This is a party that is defiant on climate change. It wants to dig and use more of Alberta’s coal, not less. It is vehement about there being no cap on tar sands exploitation. It wants more pipelines. It will get rid of all carbon taxes. And it will cut Albertans’ taxes no matter what.

Instead of learning something from the roller coast ride that Alberta has taken on the price of oil, this party only believes in fossil fuels. They are ostriches serving the bidding of tar sands’ companies.

Brian Jean is the Member of the Legislature for Fort McMurray—Conklin and knows first hand of the best wishes and support from the rest of Canada during the fire storms of last year in that part of Alberta. Yet, he told Conservatives after the vote that their new provincial party will “send a message to all of Canada that Alberta is done apologizing for our industries and our way of life.”

That is not just a straight forward ‘Up yours’ to environmentalists and other concerned citizens.  Brian Jean and Jason Kenney have no understanding of God’s word to Moses that one should sock some away during the good years so that you can survive the lean years. They are mean and vindictive zealots who take their bitterness out on those members of society least able to speak for themselves. Please do not let these men speak for all Albertans.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

 

Brown’s battling beginnings.

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017

It is getting so bad that even PostMedia writers are wondering when Ontario Conservative Leader Patrick Brown is going to show some maturity. They are starting to question Brown’s ability to run a political party. He is certainly not getting the nomination process right.

Many want to write it off to the vulnerability of the Wynne Liberals. The only problem is that Brown has no leadership skills and he sends the wrong signals to the party. He is the guy who stole the party leadership through signing up thousands of new immigrants from the Indian Sub-Continent. Nobody thought to ask if all those people had paid their own memberships.

And so why should people who want to run as Conservative candidates want to play fair? Conservative Party nomination meetings all over Ontario are turning into fiascos. There have been claims of ballot box stuffing, illegal memberships, party officials’ interference, incompetent meeting management and candidates who might or not be the type of Tory they say they are.

It is such a mess, we are starting to wonder what is going on in Barrie, a town which Brown has always pretended to run. We have it on good authority that Brown will be the candidate in the electoral district of Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte. The last federal election in this riding had the Conservative winning by 86 votes. They lost the city but won the rural vote. There are lots of us who are laying in wait for Brown. We will roast him.

Brown is so arrogant that he is running his former executive assistant in the new companion riding of Barrie—Innisfil. Shawn Bubel who worked for Brown over the years is running for the nomination in that riding that includes the south half of Barrie. He has the same weakness as Brown as a candidate in that he lacks the life and business experience that makes for a good politician. People who have run businesses, met a payroll, worked daily with people and shown real leadership have a far better understanding of peoples’ needs than people like Brown and Bubel who have devoted themselves to political manipulation and using people.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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