Archive for the ‘World Politics’ Category

Now pinch hitting for Canada: Donald Trump.

Saturday, June 22nd, 2019

We really need that. Can you think of anyone less able to speak for Canada to the Chinese? Donald Trump was grandstanding with Canada’s prime minister in the Oval Office in Washington the other day. The media had been allowed in for some quick questions and to get their pictures and quotes. Trump told the media that he would be going to bat with China on behalf of the Canadians.

Mr. Trump was telling the media that he was meeting with Chinese president Xi Jinping at the G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan next week. He said he would take the opportunity to ask for the release of the two Canadians who are being held hostage by the Chinese in retaliation for Canada’s detaining of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou for possible deportation to the face the courts in the United States.

What is surprising about this is that Canada is also a member of the G20. Obviously, Mr. Trudeau could meet with Xi Jinping and ask for himself. It is hard to believe that the Chinese president would listen to Donald Trump before he would listen to Justin Trudeau. It is hardly likely that Donald Trump would make a more cogent argument for the release of the Canadians.

And if there was any horse trading involved, the Huawei executive is presently vacationing in her luxurious Vancouver mansion awaiting an extradition hearing. We have something China wants. China has something we want. Is that not the essence of a horse trade?

And Justin Trudeau should stop giving us all the lip service about Canada being a country of laws. He has recently proved that is all B.S. Especially when you consider his actions with Jodi Wilson-Raybould, who was a fair to middling justice minister for Canada, until the prime minister wanted to play patty-cake with SNC-Lavalin, to save them the embarrassment of being found guilty of bribery.

It would certainly be appreciated by Canadians if Justin Trudeau would have his own discussion with the Chinese.

-30-

Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Mr. Trudeau goes to Washington.

Tuesday, June 18th, 2019

Frank Capra’s 1939 movie, Mr. Smith goes to Washington, is not only a classic but it was the film that made James Stewart a movie star. And if Mr. Trudeau plays his part properly, his trip to Washington this week could help him keep his job as prime minister.

First of all, Trudeau should tell his staff that he does not go to Washington to ‘ask’ anything of Mr. Trump. He can ‘discuss’ or ‘tell’ but he is a world leader and he should never have to ask that ignorant Mr. Trump anything more important than ‘Where’s the washroom?’

And if it was that nincompoop conservative Andrew Scheer going to Washington to represent Canada, he would be all atwitter to be in the presence of the disruptor of the free world.

But that is why we should not ‘ask.’ It is Trump who has caused all the problems with China. Someone has to tell the accidental president that he is making a mess of it. You can be patient and use kind words if you like. I hear that is helpful when dealing with slow thinkers.

But Trump either respects our guy or he does not. Remember that an earlier U.S. president Lyndon Johnson and prime minister Lester Pearson were old friends when the big Texan grabbed ‘Mike’ Pearson by the lapels and accused him of pissing on his living room rug. Plain talk is possible.

You never know what will grab Trump’s limited attention. If he is not going to listen, Trudeau can always go home and tell his acquiescent justice minister to tell the judge on the extradition case to return that gal from Huawei to hearth and home in China. Her holiday in lovely Vancouver is over.

Sure, sure, we are a country that obeys the law. It is just as sure that we are a country that also knows how to bend the law a bit for our friends in the People’s Republic of China!

What Mr. Trudeau has to understand is that the Chinese are very big on saving face. It is hardly new for the Chinese. They really cannot understand why Trudeau thinks diplomacy should require him to drop his jeans for Mr. Trump. Most Canadians do not understand it either.

-30-

Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

“Send in the Clowns.”

Thursday, June 6th, 2019

“There ought to be clowns – Well, maybe next year” are the haunting words at the end of the Stephen Sondheim song that is a lament using a circus metaphor. We were reminded of the song as we were reading and hearing about the American president’s travels this week. Is this what world politics is becoming today? Are we replacing our serious need for effective politicians with clowns?

Are there right-wing clowns? Are there populist clowns? Are there bitter and hateful clowns?

Is Donald Trump of the United States one of those scary clowns? And why was he in London? Theresa May needed no farewell tour from him. It is her farewell that is coming. She is toast. She tried the impossible in getting the United Kingdom out of the European Union. She is a scraggy clown.

But the bookies have picked her successor, Boris Johnson. Can you imagine that clown in 10 Downing Street? Here is a guy who needs his own James Boswell and a decent barber. He is a scary clown and Donald Trump likes him.

Donald does not like Sadiq Khan, mayor of London. Donald is an equal-opportunity bigot. He does not like any people with Muslim names. The Brit politicians quickly dumped Donald and Melania on the royals. The royals played the game with him, gave him lots of ceremony but not much love.

Trump is off to the Channel and the beaches of Normandy for the anniversary of the D-Day Invasion. And he will get a chance to scare French President, Emmanuel Macron. Mind you the French are hoping to keep the task of entertaining the Trumps filled with the ceremonies about how America saved France in the Second World War. I guess Trump will not be meeting his French counterpart, Marine Le Pen. Now that is one scary clown.

But after all this ceremony, Trump will be off on a well-earned holiday at another of his golf resorts, this one in Ireland.

-30-

Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

“Penny for the Guy, Gov?”

Friday, March 22nd, 2019

By this November five, Guy Fawkes Day, one really wonders at what the value of the Brit Pound might be on world markets? It used to be a Brit tradition and as much as the Brits love their traditions, a penny does not buy much fireworks any more.

With the outrageous incompetence of the ‘Mother of Parliaments’ to resolve the Brexit fiasco, the rest of the world is dumbfounded. With a ditz for a prime minister, dolts in the cabinet and dummies running the opposition, they might as well stop singing There will always be an England. The bookies are giving long odds on that.

There is a certain justice to the Bank of England being run at this time by a Canadian. If he has been smart, he has been selling short the pound. When you think of all the wars between England and the continent over so many centuries, you would think they would be tired of all the wrangling.

The last (and hopefully final) deal offed by the Europeans was quite decent of them. I suppose everybody needs to have a special charity case to look after and I guess the Brits will be Europe’s.

The great gaping hole in the tariff wall is that open border in Ireland and it is what makes a farce of everything those foolish Brexit supporters wanted to do. It seems that the Europeans have a better appreciation of what that open border means to the Emerald Isle than the Brit parliament.

We get the feeling that the United Kingdom is going to get less united by all this foolishness. This ‘damn the torpedoes’ nonsense of the Brexit supporters is not going to get much sympathy from the more practical Scots and Northern Ireland will have to choose between their loyalty to the Crown and their preference for eating regularly.

It might be just another ho-hum Brexit day for the Brit parliament, but the rest of the world is tiring of it. For all the propriety airs, the Brits take of us colonists, I hardly think they are going to get any lend-lease support for this mess they have gotten themselves into.

-30-

Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Empty handed in Hanoi.

Monday, March 4th, 2019

That came as a shock. We had no idea that the sawed-off little runt of a dictator from North Korea was smarter than American president Donald Trump. He left Trump standing alone in Hanoi at Air Force One with his trousers (figuratively) open. While we would never recommend Donald Trump to Mensa, we have obviously been absorbing American propaganda for too long about North Korea.

I was always under the impression that the ugly little troglodyte from Pyongyang was a dupe for the North Korean generals. Now we need to rethink it as an unholy alliance.

What remains puzzling was understanding why Kim Jong Un would spend 70 hours on a train coming to Hanoi through China when he had no intention to dispose of any of his nuclear arsenal. His one offer of shutting down a major nuclear research centre still left him with that large nuclear arsenal.

The joke is that it is Trump who is supposed to be the gamer, the con man and the closer. He is even credited with a book called The Art of the Deal. Obviously, the book was ghosted. It was certainly not worth the bother of reading.

And it is also obvious that the Korean cretin has been playing Trump for the fool he is. All he was doing was making the American lose face. The Americans would be best to keep Trump away from him and let the South Koreans handle their own rapprochement.

It might be fun to be a fly on the wall in Beijing and hear how China’s Xi Jinping likes the idea of a nuclear-equipped and industrialized Korean Peninsula, nose to nose with Manchuria.

Mind you, it is still likely that Trump could do better than Brit prime minister Theresa May in solving the Brexit problem with the European Union. He can be had cheap. Nobody in the U.S. would complain if he was kept busy fixing things for the Brits. Think of the money to be made if he also swings a deal to convert Buckingham palace into a Trump Hotel.

-30-

Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

The Pathetic Pretenders.

Saturday, February 16th, 2019

Gilets jaunes (yellow vests) protestors are a particularly French phenomenon, as French law requires all automobiles be equipped one of those fluorescent vests in case of emergency. It made for a rather colourful, beehive-like mob scenes across France, when the emergency was determined to be the increase in taxes on gasoline and other real or imagined errors of the Macron government. The French do tend to take to the barricades when annoyed with their government.

But that does not suggest that they would want to franchise their form of protest to North Americans. Attempts to emulate the French passion for protest in Canada, have, so far, proved pathetic and immaterial.

The main difference is that the French right and left on the political spectrum can find themselves fending off ‘les flics’ (cops) together. In Canada, the fight would be between the right and left, and the cops would be trying to keep them apart.

Canadians might be better at picking up American themes when looking for a cause. The least successful in this regard were the wannabes in Toronto who picked up the American “Black Lives Matter” name but not the cause and tried to use it on this side of the border. They managed to dishonour what the name means in the U.S.

All they really managed to do here was annoy the local black community and then, ultimately, piss off the police and the Pride parade organizers. They were annoying, self-serving, trouble-makers who needed to find something useful to do.

And while you would expect that the Trump name would not travel well north of the U.S. border, he does have support here. There are the occasional covens that worship him, but so far, they have wisely kept their admiration to themselves.

-30-

Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Trump and Trudeau fail Venezuela.

Tuesday, February 12th, 2019

Venezuela’s oil-based economy continues to collapse. The Americans are helping it collapse. And what the Canadian interest is, defies imagination. The corrupt and destructive Nicolás Maduro regime in the country, after the incompetence of the Hugo Chavez era, has created economic chaos. The world watches as China and the Russians pay lip service to supporting the Maduro regime.

One in ten of Venezuelans has already fled from their once stable country to neighbouring countries. The Americans keep imposing more sanctions that are causing increased suffering for the people. Millions are starving. Medicines are scarce or non-existent. The streets are full of hungry and angry people. The country is a powder keg ready to explode. And what the hell is Canada doing to really help?

Frankly the American interest in Venezuela is easier to understand. Venezuela has the world’s largest reserve of bitumen-based heavy crude oil that is far less polluting to refine into synthetic crude oil than Canada’s dirty tar sands bitumen. And the Venezuelan product is readily available to the Americans, being conveniently located on the south side of the Gulf of Mexico. The Americans would be crazy not to ensure their easy access to that cheap oil. Many of their Texas gulf coast refineries are set up to handle the Venezuelan bitumen. So, what do they use as sanctions? They refuse to buy or pay for the Venezuelan heavy crude!

While Maduro might have been busy stealing billions from the country, he has obviously been generous with his generals. Their continued loyalty to his regime is making new elections or a reasonable transition to the self-proclaimed president Juan Guaidó more difficult as the turmoil continues. You can hardly solve problems caused by undemocratic actions by encouraging undemocratic actions on your behalf. The people appear to be more and more desperate and it would likely take some very small events in Venezuela to light the tinder of civil war.

If it comes to an armed conflict, neither Canada nor the United States have a role to play beyond providing humanitarian aid. The two northern countries would not be welcomed by either side.

-30-

Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Forget the Queen, save the Magna Carta.

Friday, February 8th, 2019

If the Brexit-related events in the next few months get ugly, the Brits have a plan in place to keep the Queen and her immediate family from harms way. We can only hope that these plans are somewhat better than prime minister Theresa May’s ongoing revisions to Brexit. And frankly the Queen is in better hands than the people who think she needs saving from a possible melee over the consequences of Brexit.

After all, the Brits have been singing God Save the Queen for so long now, she should have some safe-passage credits built up with God as well as the populace of the United Kingdom. And if her mother and father could stay in London during the Blitz, Elizabeth II can stay in London for the trials of Brexit.

But what Theresa May and her friends in the Mother of Parliaments are missing is the changing complexion of the Brexit problem. Maybe the Magna Carta could help resolve the problems. It is not the words of the document that the nobles had the English King John sign in 1215 that are important. It is the wealth of documentation produced from it over the centuries since.

The Magna Carta contributed to the basic freedoms of the people and their rights. In many ways it has taken too long to come to an understanding of where those freedoms have brought—not only the Brits, but the entire world.

I really doubt that PM May and her friends in parliament understand all the assumptions, bigotry, complexes, doubts, etc. etc. of the Brexit vote. I think that vote took the wind from the sails of people who thought they were doing something noble. It is doubtful that they would vote for Brexit today—knowing what they do now.

They cannot take the United Kingdom back to the past. That public house has already called “time.”  The future of the world is the continuing coming together of peoples and countries. A true world government could be many years in the future. In the meantime, the UK has to help build a better European Union.

-30-

Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Potholes on the Yellow Brick Road.

Monday, January 28th, 2019

While the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman and the Cowardly Lion are still planning their trip with Dorothy to the Emerald City and the October election in Canada, it is best to check for potholes. Peering into one of these potholes the other day, I saw Canada’s former ambassador to China sitting in it and wondering how he got there.

This is a serious hazard for the Cowardly Lion. It took Justin Trudeau almost a week to fire our politico-cum-ambassador. The arguments must have raged at the Prime Minister’s Office but it took a second attempt to put foot in mouth that got McCallum bounced. And nobody ever said McCallum was wrong—wrong to tell the truth, maybe.

It is against this news background that author Jonathan Manthorpe is making hay selling his new book on China, Claws of the Panda. I have not read it yet but I am still waiting for Jon to autograph my copy of his first book, The Power and the Tories about the Bill Davis government in Ontario.

Interestingly, while Jon was in China trying to fathom the depth of the country’s communist government, I was watching Beijing extend its influence into Canadian-Chinese news media. I had the impression that those people understood more about the future of newspaper publishing than Conrad Black, Paul Godfrey and Torstar’s John Honderich, combined.

My best source of information at the time were the many delegations from Beijing that I took on tours and entertained for a computer company. They usually assumed I was a fellow technologist and they always enjoyed their visit. It earned me many invitations from other high level visits from Beijing.

But it is Hauwei’s inscrutable technologies and the extradition of Hauwei executive Meng Wanzhou affair that has the Canadian public wondering. First of all, explaining 5G networks is a tough job and how this technology can give Hauwei access to state secrets is not an easy subject for politicians to digest.

But then you also need to understand Canada’s relationship in the Five Eyes which allows us to listen in on everybody else. Which begs the question, how the hell is any of this explained to a dolt such as Donald Trump? And that clown has someone with all the nuclear codes sitting outside his door?

-30-

Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

John McCallum is no diplomat.

Friday, January 25th, 2019

Canada’s ambassador to China never was a diplomat. He is a politician. Maybe he has always been too much of a neoliberal to my taste but he finally did what Justin Trudeau could not. He told the truth about the situation of chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou of Huawei. And he made it public.

As much as it might have been an error to appoint the Markham, Ontario, politician to the ambassadorial post, it certainly paid off when Justin Trudeau and his staff did not seem to understand the political implications of the Huawei executive’s detention and possible extradition to the U.S.

Trudeau was wrong to simply use the argument that Canada is a country of law, conflicting with the Chinese oligarchical system of governance. U.S. president Donald Trump opened a door by saying that the U.S. could use the charge against Weng as leverage in the current China-U.S. trade dispute. For the U.S. to use the case as leverage in a trade dispute could be grounds for a Canadian judge to deny the extradition.

Also, ambassador McCallum mentioned the extraterritorial factors, without elaborating. It is assumed that he was referring to the U.S. lawmakers’ penchant for creating laws that pertain to actions in countries other than the U.S. These are rarely recognized in Canada.

And that is the third factor the ambassador mentioned. He noted that the Iran sanctions on which the case against Huawei is based are not recognized in Canada. John McCallum is not a lawyer but it sounds like he had some good advice from some lawyers before he made his comments.

McCallum can even say he was out of line, later. He is unlikely to want to put that genie back in the bottle.

And when the prime minister goes out of his way to not criticize his former cabinet colleague for going off the approved (?) talking points, one wonders if the entire scenario was not planned carefully? It is certainly possible but I do not think the denizens of the Prime Minister’s Office are that smart.

Bravo John McCallum.

-30-

Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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