Help, I have been hacked.

December 15th, 2020 by Peter Lowry

I am off the air. I have no Microsoft programs in my computer. No Outlook means no e-mails. No Word means no blog.

If the MPs in Ottawa can take a Christmas break, so can I. I will be back in the New Year.

It will be tough in the pandemic but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Be positive.

And make the best of it over the Holiday Season.

Peter

 

UK Teeters at the Precipice.

December 14th, 2020 by Peter Lowry

It seems like a long time since the United Kingdom has had any real leadership. This Brexit business is a dog’s breakfast. Every subsequent leadership aspirant has made a bigger mess of it. Now we are down to the wire with that pathetic guy who looks like he chops at his own hair with the garden clippers. He is called Boris. If it was not for the hair, he would be boring.

If anyone ever needed a Boswell, it is this particular Johnson. He thinks of himself as a stuntman rather than a prime minister. He is an allegory of a politician rather than a real one. He is hardly a popular populist.

And he has a short time left to exit the EU with his pants. Johnson plays with fire as he tries to play partner to the Union while accepting none of the responsibilities. He thinks he can fish in their pond but nobody can fish in his pond. He has never heard of ‘quid pro quo.’

In the UK, they call it a hard Brexit. It is what the Brits deserve for their bigoted, irresponsible, close-minded, ‘I’m alright Jack’ vote to leave the European Union. It is hardly what the Scots and Northern Irish had bargained for and they will probably jump from the U.K. back to the EU at their earliest opportunity.

It is a sad ending to the glories of the once-great British Empire. It must have been for old times sake that Canada has signed a trade deal with the U.K. It just shows how important it was that we forgot to pass it into law before parliament broke for the Christmas holidays recess. (I guess we will get around to making it official sometime next year.)

But it is embarrassing that we have a better considered deal with the rest of Europe than we have with the U.K. Oh well, we are still part of the old Commonwealth you know.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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Pondering the politics of the potty.

December 13th, 2020 by Peter Lowry

There are issues that people will step up to and there are issues that cause them to smirk and back away. I was reading a very intelligent story the other day about the politics of the toilet and the need for our politicians to grow backbones. To quote a current television commercial about toilet paper: “Everybody does it.” And our politicians have to recognize it.

But it happens at the most elemental level of politics that people are unwilling to face the issue. I took a problem to my city’s mayor over two years ago and it still has not been fixed. I worked hard to get that guy elected ten years ago and he is in the middle of his third term in the mayor’s chair. And yet, he cannot handle the need for public toilets in a city of around 150,000 and summer visitors in the tens of thousands.

I have checked out venues around the world for people to meet, to congregate, to be entertained and to enjoy food and I have always walked away from facilities with inadequate or inconvenient washroom facilities for the numbers expected. It is part of looking after your guests.

Well, I can tell you now: Do not come to Barrie, Ontario if you cannot say no to your basic human need to go to the toilet.

I told the mayor that my barber was frequently requested to provide toilet facilities to desperate people from across the street at the GO Train terminus. Since there are no Go Train employees working in that location, they think that toilets are unnecessary. The provincially run commuter train and bus service expects people to wait for trains and busses but there are no toilets at that terminal. They have a ghost station on the property, the historic Allandale Station, that cost the citizens of Barrie considerable money to restore, but nobody has ever thought to restore its old washrooms or use it for any other purpose.

Frankly, the mayor and council in Barrie have shown no backbone at all. They pretend they do not pee or poop like anybody else!

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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Who’s paying for the bitumen Trudeau ships?

December 12th, 2020 by Peter Lowry

It struck me, listening to the news from Ottawa on Friday, this whole plan for $170 a ton for carbon by 2030 is bullshit. Who is going to pay for the disgusting amount of carbon prime minister Trudeau and his friends in Alberta are hoping to ship from Burnaby, British Columbia? And who intends to pay for the many tons of carbon that will be sent into the environment from the millions of barrels of diluted bitumen that could be sent through the Keystone XL pipeline to the Texas Gulf Ports, for shipment overseas?

Canadian bitumen from the Alberta tar sands is the worst polluter in the world of all the tar sands deposits. Just converting it to synthetic crude oil creates tons of carbon slag that will be picked up and blown with the wind. It is then further refined into carbon releasing fuels and many petroleum-based products.

Mr. Trudeau cannot ship the pollution out of Canada and not be responsible for the damage to the environment. The winds know no country boundaries. You are not absolved by shipping the pollution to countries who are not involved in the Paris Accord.

Sure, environmentalists in the United States are counting on president-elect Joe Biden to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline. Can the Canadian embassy in Washington continue to pester the Americans to not correct the despicable environmental affronteries of the Donald Trump regime? Trump let his billionaire friends level entire mountains in the beautiful Appalachians so that they could sell the coal. Approving the Keystone XL pipeline was just a further finger to the environment from Mr. trump.

The shipment of Alberta tar sands bitumen out of Canada labels Mr. Trudeau and his friends in Alberta the greatest of hypocrites. Trudeau said in his news conference that it is no longer free to pollute in Canada. Obviously, it must be free to pollute if you ship the polluting material out of the country.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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“Taking care of business…”

December 11th, 2020 by Peter Lowry

The Bachman Turner Overdrive seem to say it best in their song, “Taking care of business (every day).” It seems to be the theme song of the conservatives who are mismanaging things in Ontario at this time. These people will bend over backwards to help business, big and small, and yet screw the disadvantaged and downtrodden of our citizens.

Even in the midst of a pandemic, they are true to their political mantra. They are open to business. They will use ministerial orders for friendly developers to exploit wetlands and other inconveniently designated land. They are also disinclined to come down hard on long-term care facility proprietors who fail to protect their clientele. They have even quietly taken on a major updating of Ontario’s liquor laws.

While I am normally in favour of bringing our archaic liquor laws into the 21st century, this does not strike me as an upgrading that will do anybody any good. And the fact that Ontario attorney general Doug Downey made the announcement made me even more suspicious of the government’s motivation.

Downey is the ward healer from Orillia and Severn, Ontario who was parachuted into our Barrie riding to keep former Ontario conservative leader, Patrick Brown, out of provincial politics. It is not at all sure whether Mr. Downey has ever stopped in Barrie when going to and from his home in Severn and Toronto’s Queen’s Park.

The sad note is that I have never seen much of a choice in the wines offered by local restaurants. And we do have some fine restaurants.

But wine lists locally tend to feature cheap wines at high prices. While the mark up that restaurants charge for serving wines and other alcoholic beverages might be justified when being served with food in the restaurant, it does not make sense if it is for home consumption. The public would be well advised to buy their wines for home use directly from the liquor control board stores. There is much better variety and fairer prices.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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Good to know Doug’s got spare money!

December 10th, 2020 by Peter Lowry

Were we reading the other day that Ontario premier Doug Ford has a rainy-day $12 billion tucked away? That is what you can expect when you have a conservative government. Yet the Ontario Financial Accountability Officer tells us that some of that money was from the federal government to help with pandemic costs. You would think that the province would be in deficit like other governments who are doing their job.

But, obviously, the Ontario Tories are not doing their job at all. They are cheap, conniving, dangerous people. I say this because of a lesson I learned the other day from people helping those on government assistance. It used to be that these people were complaining about the cheap, penny-pinching liberals.

But when the conservatives came into power two years ago, they reduced the amount paid to Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) recipients. It used to be an average of about $1200 a month that was paid to single people with no other income. They were allowed about $600 in housing expense (a room which was paid direct to the landlord) and the rest was provided for food and other essentials—depending on the formula allocated by their case worker.

It is only when you realize that there are more than 500,000 Ontario residents who receive money under this program, you realize the dimensions of the program. They include the mentally and physically handicapped who live so precariously on the margins of our society. They are singles, couples and families. They are at the mercy of a skinflint government. They are mistreated or just ignored by most in our society. They are often lonely and with little to occupy their time. They have to search out the diminishing number of food banks that can keep them fed during this pandemic. They are among the vulnerable.

If you ever need a strong argument for a basic income program for all Canadians, it is bringing these people into the mainstream. They need to become part of the Canadian experience.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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How many did Trump kill today?

December 9th, 2020 by Peter Lowry

That is not a light at the end of the tunnel on January 20. It is the funeral pyre at the crematorium for all the people that Mr. Trump has killed. He has been pushing for the return of the death penalty for federal crimes and has already had eight executions.

But it is his negligence in doing something to help in controlling the spread of covid-19 that has led to his record number of deaths. The toll will likely exceed 300,000 dead Americans from the pandemic by the time he leaves the White House in January. And how many of them are because of his lack of interest and support in controlling the spread of the disease?

It was obvious from the time he put his vice president in charge of the pandemic task force that we knew he did not care. The task force had few experts and did not appear to listen to them in any event. Trump took great delight in staging his failed re-election events with thousands of supporters to be mask-optional. He actually caused many of his supporters who wanted him to make America great to catch covid-19.

The president hosted events at the White House where nobody was encouraged to wear masks or maintain social distance. And that probably helped spread the disease even faster. Trump has no concern for family or staff at the White House or at his golf resorts. It did not seem to concern him that he might(?) have had a brief brush with the disease himself.

Did we even know ahead of his presidency that he was so blood-thirsty? Would he have been happier if he could have started a war during his presidency? Will he be among the first to be inoculated with one of the new vaccines? He will still have us wondering as he disappears into the January night.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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Are any conservatives listening?

December 8th, 2020 by Peter Lowry

It is something of a wonder that Jason Kenney, premier of Alberta, Doug Ford, premier of Ontario, and Erin O’Toole, federal conservative leader, are members of the same political party. The only similarity between the three gentlemen is that they all blame Justin Trudeau for their problems, provincially and across Canada. And that seems like a very heavy load for Canada’s prime minister to carry.

No doubt there are a growing number of Albertans who wish Mr. Kenney spent less of their money on pipelines for diluted bitumen and more on health care. They think he should be paying more attention to the current pandemic than the price of oil—which is obviously not going to suddenly solve all their problems.

At a time when his province is so obviously in need of leadership, Jason Kenney has been reluctant to place any restraints on Albertans. Citizens of Alberta who want to ignore the simple rules that could reduce and prevent the spread of coronavirus are creating the highest incidence of covid-19 in the country.

The news media in Ontario had been giving Doug Ford time to grasp the reins of his job but disillusionment has been growing. Just when you think the guy is doing the job, he reverts to his basic cronyism. Having his majority conservatives approve a bill that includes university status for his friend Charles McVety’s Canada Christian College is a slam at Ontario’s properly run and qualified universities.

Add to that, Ford’s disregard for Ontario’s years of building safeguards for our environment. He is destroying those years of hard work by conservative, liberal and new democratic governments to cater to his developer supporters. It is open season on the environment in Ontario.

And the federal conservative leader is not much help either. He is trying to build a fictitious ‘big tent’ party that more Canadians can support. To do this, he is ignoring the more strident members of his federal caucus such as Pierre Poilievre who thinks we are spending too much helping Canadians through the pandemic and MP Derek Sloan who wants to warn people against vaccines.

It would seem that Canadians would be better off if they had more politicians who put Canadians first and their party second.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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Stop your bitching, I’m back.

December 7th, 2020 by Peter Lowry

I know, I promised you something scintillating about Trump yesterday. I lied. I just had more important things to do. I promised myself that I would start anew today, but this day started by pissing me off. My Toronto Star did it by informing me of the new prices for getting the Star delivered every day as well as full access to the electronic version.

I guess I have been waiting for it. You can hardly expect three guys named Rivett, Peterson and Bitove to fully understand the Atkinson Legacy that dates from the 1890s. Welcome to the working-man’s newspaper you schmucks.

They told us this morning that there was going to be a slight increase in the price of daily delivery. You know you are getting shafted when they refer to the new price of just being thirteen cents a day. I hardly needed pencil and paper to compute that one. That strikes me as about a 13 per cent increase.

If the Star had not been sneaking in an increase here and an increase there every once in a while, I would have some sympathy for the new owners. Instead, I would rather tell them to get stuffed.

And if I was only going to pay for just an electronic version, I would start with the Economist or the New York Times. I would have to fill in with some of the more reliable newsletters from Ottawa and the provincial capitals but I could survive without my 70 years or so of reading the Toronto Star. Even when I worked for the Globe and Mail and wrote for the long defunct Toronto Telegram, I also read the Star every day.

What I will miss is spilling my coffee on the more annoying of the Star columnists. I even found a guy down the hall who actually wants to read the sports pages and I was happy to let him have my sports section.

What those three amigos in the executive office have not figured out yet is that the Toronto Star is not a profit centre, it is a trust.

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Note: This has been revised. Never do mental arithmetic when you are annoyed.

Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

Let’s hear it for Sobeys.

December 5th, 2020 by Peter Lowry

The other day we were whining about the rapidly rising prices at our grocery stores. We hear today that Sobeys and the rest of the Empire stores (including Safeway) are breaking with the solidarity of the Loblaw and Metro chains. They have restored their employee’s s bonus for working in lock-down areas because of the pandemic and have refused to go along with the industry-wide increase in display fees that they charge to their suppliers.

Much of the credit for this stance by the grocery chain is given to Empire CEO Michael Medline. He puts commitments to employees and the community ahead of profit and, oddly enough, the profit tends to look after itself.

Medline has also been credited with the rebuilding of the Safeway chain in western Canada after a rocky start after the takeover by Empire a few years ago. Food stores work on tight margins and my impression over the years is that happy employees are the key to a successful store.

And that is all I have for today. I think I will check out the fiasco in the White House for tomorrow—Mr. Trump is always guaranteed to be doing something wrong.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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