Archive for the ‘World Politics’ Category

Blame stupidity and short-sightedness.

Saturday, November 28th, 2020

We used to have some control in Canada about who bought and sold our industry. If you are smart enough to realize that you might be desperate for a vaccine to cure a new coronavirus some day. You would have kept Connaught Laboratories in Toronto working on vaccines and other products such as insulin, for Canadians and world markets. As it is, we are waiting for initial shipments of covid-19 vaccines from companies in the U.S. and Britain.

A week ago, conservative health critic MP Michelle Rempel Garner criticized the Trudeau government saying “This is gross incompetence that’s going to cost Canadians their lives and their jobs.”

The only problem with this complaint was that Connaught Laboratory and it’s vaccine production capabilities were sold to a French company under a privatization program initiated by the conservative government of Brian Mulroney in the 1980s. Production of insulin and other products of Connaught were then shifted to Europe. That leaves two European companies and one American company producing insulin that was invented in Canada.

Connaught Laboratories was created by a famous Canadian, Dr. John G. Fitzgerald. It was originally opened to produce antitoxin for diphtheria and then gained more notoriety producing Banting and Best’s insulin. Fitzgerald eventually sold a successful Connaught to the University of Toronto for one dollar. The university took the gift ,that was given to them in good faith, and later sold it to the Canadian government for $29 million.

In addition to not having vaccine production ready for the covid-19 pandemic, Canada is hardly first in line for the vaccines now being produced in the United States and Great Britain.

On a personal note, I remember buying insulin for my diabetic son before the Mulroney sale of the former Connaught Labs. Two vials lasted him almost a month and cost about $10 each. Today, American-made insulin is costing him $30 per vial. He figures he cannot complain. If he was in the United States, he could be charged closer to $300 per vial.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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Searching for the real Canada.

Wednesday, November 18th, 2020

There is a Canada out there somewhere that we want to build on. It is a Canada led by those who can really lead. It is a Canada created willingly by our collective inspiration. It is a Canada built on equality and freedoms.

It is a country that inspires. It is leadership that you trust. It rejects the elitism and naiveté of a Justin Trudeau. It laughs at the conservative sham of Erin O’Toole, the desperate search for rationale of the NDP’s Jagmeet Singh and the foolishness of the Bloc’s Yves-François Blanchet. Real leaders mirror the aspirations of their followers. They present a path that we can follow.

It is not a country that ties itself to the concerns of 150 years ago. It is a country that concerns itself with a strong future. At the present, we have no leadership that can handle the changes that are needed. We are locked in the sham of royalty. We are appointing elites to positions of power. We are borrowing our security from the vagaries of the United States of America. We are living a fiction.

Instead of our industry working for us, it wants to reign over us. We sell it off to the highest bidder and think the wealth gained gives us strength. We are bought and paid for by the one per cent—the self-absorbed, who suck our blood, who seek to dictate an unequal future.

Instead of realizing a collective future, we are building walls between urban and rural. We are divided on religions, separated by skin colour, labelled by education, clinging to possessions, marked by professions, separating on languages, in wonder of wealth and defining ourselves by east and west.

Can we not understand that just being Canadian is a gift of immeasurable proportion? Tell that to the downtrodden of Africa. Tell that to the war-torn of the Middle East. Tell that to those torn by the religious turmoil of the subcontinent. Tell that to the down-trodden masses of Asia.

Yes, we need to bring our own house to order before we can address the rest of the world. The solutions are not in political ideology. They are in our humanity.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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How about a modern royalty?

Tuesday, November 17th, 2020

It must be the damn pandemic. The wife and I have these occasional short arguments. They come from frustration with the restrictions and need for more interaction with others.

But what does come out of these brief squabbles are ideas. Today’s was the idea that she is a closet monarchist and I am an overly opinionated republican. It is hard to fathom where these ideas come from but this one, might be useful. I needed a subject for today’s blog.

Modernizing the monarchy is hardly a new idea. There have been many variations on this theme since Mark Twain wrote The Prince and the Pauper. It was one of my favourite books as a youngster.

The point was that being in pandemic lockdown hardly seems boring if you have a house with all the rooms of Buckingham Palace in which to wander. And that is not to mention the servants.

Some people are impressed with Harry, Meghan and young Archie. They think the ex-royals are the modern version of royalty. “Sure,” I tell them, “They move to Hollywood where Americans have been creating their own pseudo royalty for many years. Harry, Meghan and their son are just trading one form of royalty for another. I’m not sure what they are giving up.”

I will admit there is a stuffiness to real royalty that is hard to crack. I have met some of the crowned heads of Europe and I have never been impressed. These people seem so bored with their responsibilities and cutting this or that ribbon at this or that opening is not a life that everyone would want.

No doubt, Harry’s Meghan quickly bored of the ceremonial aspects of life among the royals of England. It is not a future anyone would seek if they wanted to make anything of their life. I think she saw it as more boring than meaningful. Being part of the support group for a person as strong as Queen Elizabeth II, would just not be a very challenging career.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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It will never be the same America.

Friday, November 6th, 2020

Mother was born in Milwaukee, grew up in Chicago and then married a Canadian. It made Chicago a special place, as children, where we visited fun relatives. Two of my brothers now live in the United States. I have always felt at home in both countries.

But no longer. We have Donald Trump to thank for that. He polarized America. He divided the nation. He promoted hate. That compulsive liar built a layer of thousands of lies around the American presidency. More than a century of trust and friendly relations between our countries were blown away as with the wind. Not only Canada, but the entire world, has now seen the dark side of America.

Donald Trump is a traitor to America’s friends and succor to its enemies.

And the unguarded border between our countries stands empty and without tourists while the pandemic ravages virtually unchecked throughout America. Each state fights the pandemic battle in isolation.

We have had four years of president Trump and his friends. We know their greed. We know their disrespect for our environment. We know of their disregard for treaties and their selfishness in trade with nations.

Will and does America want to rebuild the honours it won in two world wars? Will it ever restore the respect for its fairness and willingness to help its friends? Can the white house be restored as a beacon to the world of democracy?

Four years of slurs, failures, unreasoned meanness and pettiness have been more than enough to leave the world wary and deeply concerned.

America does not dwell in this world in isolation. The rest of the world shares with the United States of America concern for the pollution of the polar regions, the melting of the ice, the deaths of animal, fish and bird species and the threats to the liveability of our planet.

We all share a growing concern for our existence as a species.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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That horse has left the barn.

Sunday, June 28th, 2020

It was a presumptuous letter to the prime minister from some of our Canadian enlightened the other day about the Meng Wanzhou extradition case. There was a time when I admired some but not all of those signatories. They were people who added much to Canada’s reputation in law and politics. They appear so far behind the curve now that they have become irrelevant.

First of all, the timeline involved in this case is world’s away from these people’s reasoning. The fiasco goes back to December 1, 2018. That was when Huawei executive, Meng Wanzhou landed in a company plane at Vancouver airport and was arrested by the RCMP on an American arrest warrant. It is routine for Canada to honour a warrant issued by the courts of a country with which we have reciprocal extradition treaties.

Despite prime minister Trudeau’s consistent blather about Canada being a country of laws, it was in the first two to three months of this matter when that letter might have been of some merit. Here it is, a year and a half into the Canadian courts determining the validity of the American case while Meng Wanzhou is enjoying a visit to scenic Vancouver in one of the two mansions her or her company owns there. Meanwhile two Canadians are being held in retribution in durance vile in the cesspool of a Chinese prison.

The one thing for sure in this matter, is that the Chinese tourist industry is going to take another serious hit after this pandemic moves on. The Chinese are getting some serious black marks in human rights. It would hardly bother them to put a bullet into the back of each of the heads of those two Canadians.

But from what we know today is that Canada is not going to earn any brownie points from the American white house over this. The rule of law has never impressed the current American president.

All that Canadians know is that we are being sucker-punched by both sides of this dispute. Even people that you would expect to back the prime minister are bitching at him. This is a no-win situation.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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Scorched earth for Beijing.

Thursday, June 4th, 2020

There is a very simple answer for the problem of Beijing coming down so hard on Hong Kong. It means that the leaders in Beijing are breaking their bond. Their promises are hollow. Leaders who betray their own are not honourable people.

The answer is to deny them the very value of the possession. And that value is the people. Take away the entrepreneurs, take away the business, banking and shipping experience. Take away the skilled workers and what is left?

Some in Hong Kong will want to go to New Zealand or Australia. Some will try for extensions of the limited overseas passports to become residents of the United Kingdom. More than 300,000 Canadians, who are now working and living in Hong Kong will want to return to Canada. Canada is the most attractive country to most Hong Kong residents. The Cantonese dialect used in Hong Kong has many who understand it already in Canada. And what Canada has over other countries, is the ability to absorb a million Chinese into its mix of races.

And yes, there will be some bigotry and code words developed to show the objectors but the Hong Kong people would get that if they moved somewhere in Mainland China. There are always people wary of strangers, sceptical of people who are different. They get over it.

But Canada’s need for accelerated immigration is too great to dismiss. Just 35 million Canadians are not enough. We have to maintain our sovereignty over the north. We have to build a stronger trading nation. We have land for modern farming. We have cities to grow and expand. We have technology to utilize. We have the structures and teachers to grow greater universities. Canada has an amazing future. Our progeny can all be part of it.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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Have a happy insurrection.

Monday, June 1st, 2020

From Hong Kong to Washington, from Los Angeles to Minneapolis, it is a time of insurrection.  It boils over with the night and it rests and renews in the day. It is us versus them. It is authority versus anarchy. It is young versus old. It is rich versus poor. It is not a failure to communicate, it is a failure to care. It is a deep desire to inflict pain, as though you can transfer your pain to others through destruction.

Of course, there are causes. Impatience with the pandemic is everywhere. Washington rebels against the failures of Donald Trump. Hong Kong fights for democracy and the millionaires that the city state creates. Despite the many who have their ticket away from Hong Kong, they still want the opportunity to fight the autocracy of Mainland China. They fight on in what they know is a lost cause.

Lost causes are the battle cry of American blacks, trapped in the ghettos of ugly discrimination. Add the frustration that only one in ten will break free of low-paid service jobs in their lifetime. Add the bigotry of to-day’s white house and compound it with the continued, casual murder of blacks by police. Hell, I would also want to be out there getting even.

But there is another element entirely that wants to be part of the fun. They come for the destruction, the mayhem, the thrills and the notoriety. An element of Toronto blacks, who are trying so hard to stir resentments and racial hatreds, had their day of protest over a little understood event that is still under investigation. A woman, black and maybe mentally ill, fell from a 24th floor balcony.  Since the police had been called to help, they were being carelessly blamed for the incident.

But it was the radical element who led the protest march down to police headquarters. And there they waited, for the cover of night, for the actions of radicals, to hide their pleasure in destruction. They had little knowledge of the cause that brought them there.

Watching the world-wide struggles on the late news last night, the only smart person we saw was an American sheriff, not carrying a gun, not wearing a helmet or armour, who marched with the protestors.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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What is the new normal?

Tuesday, May 26th, 2020

People are talking about a new normal—whenever this damn pandemic has run its course. No, we are not talking about the normal when we still shy from contact with people in fear of covid-19. We are talking about a time when we will look back on a history we do not wish to repeat.

I think the new normal will be an era of awaking. Same as after the Spanish flu was history; enter the flapper. It was a time of not just awakening, but new freedoms for both men and women, as well as new terrors. The Bolsheviks wrested power in Russia. Countries were making new alliances. New political parties were created. Politics changed and diplomacy discovered new challenges.

It is quite possible that religion will also go through an era of change this time as people reject the old restrictions and conventions. It will likely be an era when small concessions escalate to demands for more.

You have to let your mind loose on this subject. I think one of the most dramatic changes will be in the concept of marriage. Does it have to be two people? We have already conceded that the sex of participants does not matter. Would it not be more stable if the numbers were also flexible? As an economic unit, the union would be better funded and make more efficient use of living quarters. And I would suggest to you that the children of these unions would be healthier and happier and more stable in their attitudes as adults.

And do not forget that work places are also changing. The traditional office might just merge with a more collegial arrangement as we grow more accustomed to working from home.

It is likely we will demand less intrusive utilities on our computers as our personal lives mix with our working lives. Employers will have to contract with the employee for the output that is needed.

There are other changes that we might not be recognizing at this time. We should keep an open mind. Just always remember that as humans take a step forward, they keep one foot firmly planted in the past. It sometimes takes a while before they will raise that next foot.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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The killing ground at the LTCs.

Monday, May 25th, 2020

The cull continues. Just what is the purpose of our long-term care (LTC) facilities? The figures are shocking. We sent in the army. All the army got was covid-19.

Britain’s Economist asked around, checking covid-19 deaths in LTC facilities in European countries. The people at the Economist were shocked to find that Belgium had more than 50 per cent of covid-19 deaths at their LTCs. I am not. I remember once being taken for a tour through a facility in Belgium. It was dingy and depressing but surprisingly well staffed. The only thing that really bothered me was the floors were divided by language. Even in life’s most difficult of times, the Flemish do not speak to the Walloons.

But Canada has those Belgians beaten. Over 80 per cent of our covid-19 deaths have been at LTC facilities. We even beat the Americans. Despite the lack of coordination in fighting the pandemic and the high percentage of deaths, the Americans have just 35 per cent of covid-19 deaths in nursing homes. Maybe they put more money into them.

As much as some might gloat over Jason Kenney getting called out on his assumption that Alberta had already beaten off the pandemic, the situation in Alberta is a concern we all share. Just the combination of the outbreaks at LTCs and meat packing plants is gruesome.

While Quebec also shares the problem of LTCs, its higher level of incidents of covid-19 are probably caused by its one-week earlier Spring break. That break from school down in Florida cost a lot more than expected.

There is no denying that a large part of the problem in LTCs is the desperate need for more full-time staff. And if they are people who can take pride in their work, they are worth any amount.

But it is up to all of us to make sure there are sufficient, properly run LTC facilities in our provinces to meet the need. We are all potentially in need of them.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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An autopsy or a resuscitation?

Saturday, May 16th, 2020

An interesting question was raised in the Toronto Star the other day. There was an opinion piece by Bob Hepburn proposing a national commission on the reconstruction of the Canadian economy. This suggestion was based on some thinking by Greg Sorbara, a former Ontario treasurer, and Michael Mendelson, former Ontario deputy minister of the provincial cabinet office. It is the kind of suggestion that these types of thought leaders often develop over a decent bottle of single malt scotch.

But before you say a royal commission is a good answer, you should review Canada’s experience with royal commissions and the people running them.

The proposal reminds me of the Macdonald royal commission on the economic union and development prospects for Canada that was set up by Pierre Trudeau before he left office in the 1980s. Don Macdonald (Pierre Trudeau’s former finance minister, whom many of us referred to as ‘Thumper’) gave his report to Brian Mulroney’s conservatives. I really think Thumper had the report rewritten for Mulroney based on the demand of the Business Council on National Issues that Canada enter into a free trade agreement with the United States.

Canada has to be a trading nation but this particular drive was badly timed. It was when our country needed to be better aware of its own needs before entering those negotiations. Luckily, we were able to grandfather the Auto Pact into the free trade agreement arrived at between Mulroney’s conservatives and the George H. Bush administration.

The truth was that the North American pact and the later three-country addendum was more of a business-to-business deal than anything that recognized the needs of the 477 million people involved. And the recent reprise with Justin Trudeau’s liberals, Donald Trump’s republicans and president Andrés Obrador’s Mexicans at the table, was not much better.

What the business leaders seem to want is to be able to pick the most accommodating of jurisdictions with the weakest of labour and human rights laws for their processing and manufacturing operations. Luckily, Canada is not yet run by the Fraser Institute.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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