Archive for the ‘World Politics’ Category

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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It’s all about politics.

Tuesday, April 28th, 2020

There was a suggestion in the news the other day that few of us are interested in politics at this time. The assumption was that the coronavirus has chased politics out of the driver’s seat of the daily news. In my humble opinion, that is just so much twaddle. The coronavirus was not sent our way by all-powerful gods. We ended up in this mess because somewhere, some politicians screwed up.

The most reliable reports, at this time, are that the politicians in charge in Wuhan City of China were afraid to bother the top dog politicians in Beijing. They became concerned about an unusual flu that was going around. And then things got out of hand, like people dying. You know what happened when the bosses in Beijing found out.

Nobody wanted to hear the news from the world health folks either. When they declared the novel coronavirus to be a pandemic, nobody had any reason to be happy—unless they had a stockpile of personal protective equipment.

Somebody had let the disease dogs out.

To make matters worse, it was all run by the politicians. Some smart politicians listened to the advice of their medical experts and acted accordingly. Some did not like what their medical people told them and twitted their frustrations. That guy in the American white house, told us it was just a passing fancy. It would go away. The mess in the United States today can be laid at the feet of this man who nobody thinks of as a politician.

People such as Captain Canada, in the person of Justin Trudeau, saw a need for leadership. Despite his minority federal government, the prime minister drew the provincial premiers into his magic circle. What the news media see as political unanimity, you should know it for what it is: political opportunity. If our prime minister could just get a haircut, the world would return to normal.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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What Jinping, Putin, Trump have in common.

Thursday, April 23rd, 2020

Why are we surprised if American president Trump wants to be named president for life? The man hardly wants less than his counterparts, Xi Jinping, president for life of China, Vladimir Putin, president for life of Russia. They are men of enormous egos. They live in make-believe worlds, where all pay obeisance to them. They are commanders-in-chief of powerful, subservient armies. Who questions their actions?

Was the constitution of the People’s Republic of China a problem for Xi Jinping? Did anyone say ‘No’? Some troublemakers in Russia have ended up dead or in jail after questioning Vladimir Putin’s motives. Who else might want to say ‘No’? Donald Trump can probably achieve the same ends through executive orders. Who would deny him?

But then, who would be surprised at a few more pandemic deaths in America, the world’s hot spot for the coronavirus? With more than 40,000 covid-19 deaths across the United States, who will wonder about a few more?

Mind you, the governors who are organizing to combat covid-19 could be a problem. They have to be kept busy and not paying attention to what Trump’s people are doing in preparing for the November polls. If you want to be president for life, you have to get more momentum going in your vote. That can be done by having two things happen. One can be making sure all your voters get to the polls. Second, you make sure your opponents’ voters do not get to the polls. It is that simple.

Whatever Trump does do about the election this November, you can count on it being something simple. He is not a complicated thinker.

Nor are the Trump supporters. If you ever want to watch a group of people who should not be allowed behind the wheel of a pick-up, it is those people in red baseball caps saying “Make America Great Again.”


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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The populism of the coronavirus.

Saturday, April 18th, 2020

We live in an age of populist political solutions but we never expected to have to deal with a populist pandemic. The problem is that a populism pandemic is blind. It strikes the rich and powerful one per cent as easily as the person in poverty. It can kill the old and infirm and the very young, and, carelessly, many in between. It is a leveler.

But it is how the politicians respond to the concerns and needs of their populations at this time that tells you much about them. Their grades are there for all to see.

For that man-child, Trump, in the American White House, his ditty for the day is. “Pandemic, pandemic go away, little Donald wants to play.”

Did you ever expect to see a subdued prime minister such as Boris Johnson in the United Kingdom? He looked a bit rocky after his harrowing experience with covid-19. We will have to wait to see if he learned anything.

Canada’s prime minister sits in the cat bird seat at Rideau Cottage, the nation’s media at his beck and call. His elitist solutions to a financial fix are still allowing hundreds of thousands of Canadians to slip through the sewer grates—the detritus of Canadian humanity. And it is at a time when Bell Canada and other telecommunications companies are reaping the profits—encouraging others to raise prices and profiteer from the silent death.

And then there are the phonies filling in for premiers in Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and Saskatchewan. Their bluster and promises are as hollow as their complaints about reaping the results of inadequate support and control of the long-term care facilities for the old and the frail and the incurable and incompetent in our society. The provinces promote inadequate facilities and pay the caregivers next to nothing—all in the interest of higher profits for their supporters.

Yes, we do measure our society on our treatment of the very young and the very old and those who cannot help themselves. This populist pandemic has found us wanting.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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“The darkness has gathered.”

Sunday, April 12th, 2020

Those were the words of Pope Francis, mentor to the world’s Catholics, who marked the way of the cross Friday in an empty St. Peter’s Square. Not being religious, I usually refrain from commenting on religions. I am making an exception for this Easter.

I do take an interest in world religions. They often get involved in politics. For example, I have always been amazed at how religious conservatives can vote for a hypocrite such as Donald Trump. This man is not just a philanderer and a narcissist, but you will find his Sunday morning worship is usually taken up at one of his golf courses. And religious Americans do not seem to care.

It is also most concerning in this time of the novel coronavirus, that some states in the U.S. are denying the danger of covid-19. These fools are killing their own people. And there are churches in those states that are calling their parishioners to worship. Collecting the simple among us to be struck by the pandemic is gross negligence and murder. There should be no absolution for that.

And we should all be concerned about what is happening in the Muslim world. Iran has already suffered cruelly from the pandemic. This is a theocracy with 20th century technology, run by 17th century theologians. The Middle East is a cauldron threatening constantly to boil over and reach outside its borders. The prophet Muhammad might have proposed a peaceful religion, but its adherents are seething in many areas and calling for jihad and new caliphates. And can Arabia’s Saud family really cancel the Haj?

And what of the subcontinent where a snap lockdown of millions caused panic and a massive migration of itinerant workers. And with a religious fanatic such as Modi in charge in New Delhi, there is no telling the course of the disease for Hindus and Muslims alike.

Politically, it looks as though China and Canada might be coming through the pandemic with the economic capability for fast recovery. Just stay isolated, wash your hands and follow the rules—and there is little harm in a few prayers.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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