Justin Trudeau did it wrong.

October 19th, 2020 by Peter Lowry

Thinking back to that lame throne speech that took so long and said so little, it is now clear that prime minister Justin Trudeau was wrong. He promised us a look toward the future and all he really gave us was more Covid-19. Instead of a positive look towards tomorrow, he dwelt on the ugliness of the pandemic.

Oh sure, he included the child care for the new democrats to support. We were all aware that nobody really wanted an awkward election so soon. They all talked the talk of political combat but meant so much less.

And we heard some answers for the chilling problems of long-term nursing homes and the financial concerns of a decimated print media.

But it was all wrapped in the context of the pandemic with wage subsidies and another version of employment insurance. It all came with soaring debt and no answers.

It was a sad story without the lift Canadian spirits needed. Our government promised us a rebound after the pandemic but there was nothing there but the rebuilding, the paying down of a large debt.

We were a country in need of jobs, challenges, new horizons and a healthy future and our government let us down. We needed to see our future and the government failed us. We needed confidence that the pandemic had an end. We needed to rebuild our health care. We needed to be part of restoring the primary engines of our economy. We needed to see Canada’s role in a better, healthier, progressive world.

Canadians thrive on challenge. They need a positive future. They can handle the hardships, if they can see ahead into a better tomorrow.

Justin Trudeau presented the challenges. He forgot the rewards. He concentrated on healing and left out the future. He still does not know how to lead.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

You don’t get much for US$650,000.

October 18th, 2020 by Peter Lowry

When they hustled president Donald Trump off to Walter Reed medical center a couple weeks ago, there were questions about whether he had covid-19 or not. Many wondered why vice-president Pence was not on standby to take over for an ‘incapacitated’ president? All we know is that a cantankerous Trump was returned to the White House at an estimated cost of about $650,000, including helicopter transport.

And the amazing part is that the expensive treatment at Walter Reed has all been debunked as useless in large studies. All we know is that for the next week, Mr. Trump sounded like he was getting over a bout of laryngitis. He was as nasty as ever.

The key to his survival, according to the doctors at Walter Reed, was the wonder drug Remdisivir. This wonder drug has been debunked by the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO study involved some 11,000 patients and was found to have no effect on covid-19 patients.

This was similar to the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine that the president had been telling people he was taking. This drug also failed to have any benefits in larger studies.

But we have the irrepressible Mr. Trump, unmasked and preaching to the unmasked across America that the pandemic is no big deal. After all, he tells them, he expects a miracle vaccine before election day and America will be great again.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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It would never win a ‘QCJO.’

October 17th, 2020 by Peter Lowry

Let’s face facts, you rush things and you screw up. Mind you, I also found it funny. It makes you wonder just how many Alberta voters made the same mistake. Did you think it was Alberta’s Jason Kenny(stet) who had become a husband and father? It is unlikely that we would ever be awarded the designation of a “qualified Canadian journalism organization” (QCJO) for that boo-boo.

It all started yesterday when I had absolutely no idea what to write about. For ten years, I have been (in one form or another) writing a   daily posting for BabelontheBay.com. We never pretended to be anything other than a commentator on things political. We acquired a sizeable number of readers over the years (more around election times).

But we are fallible. And you would not believe how nasty some NDPers get about some of my comments about their party. I have been known to make the occasional error. And I know better. I am the first one to tell Google noviciates that you triple check anything in Google. It is full of silly errors.

And I did not check. My only excuse was that the apartment above me was undergoing renovations (for the past month) and the guy who was fixing my bathroom showed up to do that job. The noise was, to say the least, distracting. I must admit, I was not checking my sources. I finally found out this morning how I had screwed up. I am totally embarrassed. I forthwith apologize to Alberta premier Jason Kenney. I was wrong to say he had married and reproduced. Far be it from me to question a gentleman’s preferences in lifestyle. I blew it.

But I started out today to write about the liberal government’s intend to give piles of money to qualified Canadian journalism organizations. It has been in the offing for a couple years now. And maybe it is not going to happen at all. My only concern is that if they give money to the liberals who just bought the Toronto Star, will they also have to give money to the Americans who own PostMedia?

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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The Temptation to be Tory.

October 16th, 2020 by Peter Lowry

It appears that the leopard is still unable to change his spots. At least conservatives such as Ontario’s Doug Ford and Alberta’s Jason Kenney fail to stray long from their expected courses. Mean buggers, both of them. They are conservative to the core.

Take Jason Kenney. Since college in San Francisco, Jason Kenney has been a misogynist and an in-it-for-himself politician. This is the Kenney who has devoted his life to manipulative politics. This is a petty politician who blames the federal government for all the ills of the Alberta economy. This is a politician who blames the federal government for the problems of the Alberta health care system. And yet he fights with the doctors over billings and fires hundreds of nurses and healthcare technicians. It appears that he thinks the covid-19 epidemic is just a federal problem.

This is a petty politician who puts Alberta taxpayers’ money into failing pipelines and pipe-dreams about Alaska railroads. Kenney seems to have no understanding of how a better economic future of Alberta needs to be built.

At least Kenney can cater to the greed of some Alberta voters for a resource economy while Doug Ford, in Ontario has the problem of keeping and building on a once robust industrial-financial-resource based economy. Ford sees his role as putting up a fight against those promoting a carbon-free environment and better land-use planning. It is hard for him to say ‘no’ to developers who want to build on the Oak Ridges Moraine. In the meantime, he is squeezing teachers and healthcare staff who take up so much of the attention of the Ontario government.

There is no question but that Ford and Kenney have very different objectives than the federal government. They are conservatives.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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They’re giving away seats in parliament?

October 14th, 2020 by Peter Lowry

Conservative Hugh Segal should know better. Liberal Greg Sorbara likely never knew better. And I have no idea who the NDP’s Zanana Akande might be. It was just that the three of them want to give away seats in Canada’s parliament. They have some silly idea written up in the Toronto Star that the new Green Party leader should just be given a free seat in parliament. I am the old-fashioned type. I have always felt that you should win your seat in parliament through hard work.

Of course, in the case of the seat being contested in Toronto Centre, CTV’s Marci Ien has already been appointed as the liberal candidate by Justin Trudeau. Few people would question her likelihood of winning. That area of Toronto has been mainly liberal since 1968. It was when I helped my late friend Robert Kaplan first win the adjacent Don Valley riding against conservative Dalton Camp. I always kidded Bob about his father-in-law Joe Tannenbaum bragging to his friends at the Primrose Club that it only cost $75,000 to win a seat in parliament.

The three writers tell us that the precedent for this seat give-away is that in the 2019 Burnaby, B.C. bye-election, the Greens did not run a candidate against Jagmeet Singh of the New Democrats. Do they dare tell us how well that has worked for the NDP? Since then, the NDP have been on a downhill route.

And we have absolutely no idea how the new Green party leader will preform once she (if ever) gets to parliament. All we know is that the former Green leader, Elizabeth May, was not handed a seat. She worked darn hard at winning a seat and did a good job once she got there.

Our tradition in Canada is for party leaders to work for their seat in parliament. It is a system that works well for us.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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Democracy Defied.

October 13th, 2020 by Peter Lowry

Canadians kid themselves about our democracy. It is not by any stretch a true democracy. According to official records, it is a constitutional monarchy, where the governor general represents the monarch. In our faux House of Lords, we have the party in power appointing the senators. It is certainly not a system suitable for a true democracy.

Democracy is based on the ancient Greek concept of ‘’demos” which is rule by the citizen body. This democracy is based on the freedom of the individual to hold meetings, speak freely to right wrongs, to be secure against arbitrary arrest, and to live where regular and free elections are held whereby all citizens get to choose their representatives and governments can be changed by the wishes of the electorate.

Canadians have never had a say in their system of government. The decisions for confederation in 1867 were made in London, England. And good luck in finding any Canadian politicians willing to try to change anything today. The only changes we have made in confederation have been to make it more difficult to make changes.

Canada’s constitution is tied in knots between the provinces and the federal government. We can laugh at those separatists in Quebec who think they would be better off without the rest of Canada. They have a far better deal within Canada than they would ever get anywhere else.

While Canadians have many organizations seeking to influence, change and sometimes, even protect, the degree of democracy that we do enjoy, there are very few who really understand that the people the least supportive of our democracy are politicians. They rarely volunteer to be voted from office. Those running political parties would much prefer to run them as oligarchies. Party leaders such as conservative Stephen Harper and liberal Justin Trudeau have concentrated far more political power in their offices than our constitution ever considered. Our only safeguard so far in this is that the political parties have a measure of control but it is less and less as time goes on.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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The insecure Donald Trump.

October 12th, 2020 by Peter Lowry

Look at that son-of-a-bitch standing up there on the Truman balcony of the White House. Thinking about it, you wonder why this boor would insult every previous president of the United States of America by using the White House so irrespectively. And then you smile. You know why. He is afraid of losing.

This guy is in fear of losing. He would do anything. He would try anything. He desperately wants that second term. And the guy’s not stupid. He is a lot of things. Stupid is not included.

What confuses people is that he lies so much. He appears to live in a fantasy world that would believe him. It used to be one of the things that confused me about his followers. They know he lies. They seem to be alternately acknowledging the lies and being amused by them.

Talking to an American university professor the other day who voted for Trump four years ago, he admitted that he was not going to vote for him this time. He has had enough of Trump.

But then he told me, he was not going to vote for the other bastards either. This shows the real problem. American politics has grown so corrupt over the years that people are now believing everything they are told about how corrupt it has become. Both sides are to blame. And until, people start to get serious about cleaning up the mess, nothing is going to change.

A friend on Canada’s wet coast told me the other day that democracy is nothing other than the governance with the consent of the governed. I am still thinking about that and other delusions about democracy.

What really scares me about Trump is that he does not even believe in democracy. He envies his friend Vladimir Putin in Russia. Trump wants a fascist regime. Give him four more years and he has got it.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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The only fair vote is a run-off vote.

October 11th, 2020 by Peter Lowry

Nobody claims first-past-the-post (FPTP) voting is perfect. What it gives us is a means to get things done. It is fast, efficient and trusted. It is the solution to the tendency in many forms of voting of not being able to form a cohesive government.

As a long-time proponent of FPTP voting, it sometimes surprises people when I point out that, it is not the best system. It works just fine for a two-party system when your choice is between party A or party B. It creates complications and frustrations for situations when there are three or more parties in contention.

Simply put, in the FPTP system, you tend to have fewer political parties. This is because the parties will have made many of their compromises on policies before the election. You get what are called ‘big tent’ parties whose policies can span a broad segment of the political spectrum. These parties sometimes spend an inordinate amount of their time arguing about their public pronouncements.

In systems with a large number of parties, you find that the tendency is for the parties to be more tightly knit—devoted to a major cause or singular objective.

A good example of this is the situation with Canada’s Green Party. While nobody misses the ecological objective of the party, it can leave voters in the dark about its objectives in other areas such as foreign policy.

Having managed major campaigns, and played many different roles in Canadian elections, my only compromise on solving the problems of FPTP is to suggest that if you want a 50 per cent choice (or more) for your politicians, you have run-off elections. This enables the electorate to decide if they want a majority or minority government. It enables the politicians to clarify the issues they consider important. It makes for better decision making.

This is not preferential voting. Where people vote on choice one, two, three etc.—what some people call an instant run-off—is a cop-out. When dealing with a large number of candidates, preferential voting tends to come down to the least contentious candidate—not the most preferred.

In the age of the computer, Internet voting is becoming practical, safe and increasingly inexpensive. That will allow us to have fast, effective run-off voting.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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Democracy Denied.

October 10th, 2020 by Peter Lowry

Canadians should stop worrying about the fascist leanings of that guy in the American White House and worry more about the death of democracy in Canada. Every day, we see the continued erosion of democracy in Canada’s political parties as another brick in the wall closing down our democracy.

I make no secret that I am a liberal. It is why I received an e-mail from Suzanne Cowan, president of the liberal party the other day telling me how it is going to be for people to become candidates for the party in the next federal election. I should send her an answer asking when the party agreed to this arrangement? There is nothing democratic about this selection of candidates.

The problem started back in the 1980s when the liberals ended up with some very bad choices for candidates when they were selected by a gang-up of their ethnic or religious group. It was during the 90s that Jean Chrétien’s liberals got parliamentary approval to having party leaders sign off on all candidates for their party.

Instead of the measure being used as a last resort, to block gang-ups in the electoral district associations, it became a way for the leader of each party to decide who would be their candidate. Leaders such as conservative Stephen Harper and liberal Justin Trudeau used this to further their discipline over their parties. It did little to further democracy in Canada.

We have effectively neutered Canada’s political parties. Instead of democracy, Justin Trudeau is ushering in his personal autocracy. He is an elitist, supported by his own cabal in parliament.

The only problem Trudeau has not addressed is what to do about the liberals who might object to being used as his personal piggy bank. There are too many times that more than one e-mail from the party in a day will ask for more money.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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O’Toole’s new hue of blue.

October 9th, 2020 by Peter Lowry

Erin O’Toole, the new conservative party leader brought a new hue of blue to parliament on his late arrival. Delayed by covid-19, the conservative leader brought a new approach to the minority parliament. Where catcalls and rudeness have prevailed for so long, the new leader brought reason, conciliation and understanding. It was an approach to politics readily understood by most Ontario politicos over 50. It was the politics of former Ontario premier William Davis.

Bill Davis turned 91 this year and while his health might not be the best, his legacy in Ontario continues to be honoured. It all boiled down to one word: decency. He was conservative premier of Ontario from 1971 to 1985 and he made sure Queen’s Park during that time was a friendly place. In those years, I worked closely with the liberal caucus under Bob Nixon and, when at Queen’s Park, I often had a friendly word with people on Bill Davis’ or NDP leader Stephen Lewis’ staff.

But I think for Erin O’Toole, sincere or not, this approach will be a hard sell to his caucus, his supporters and his provincial conservative backers. Today’s political divide is too broad, the acrimony too deep and the distrust ingrained.

Too many of the conservative caucus are former Steven Harper MPs who went through the hard-fought years of his partisan governments which dealt more with conservative ideology than the needs of Canadians. O’Toole was there for the last and in cabinet in that final four years.

It is hard to imagine that he would not realize the difference in style he is trying to utilize from that of the provincial conservatives where they are in power. This is with some of the provincial conservative governments routinely condemning the federal liberals for their efforts on climate change, bringing lawsuits to the supreme court and even putting advertising stickers on all provincial gas pumps condemning the carbon tax—until the practice was stopped by the courts.

Mind you, this kinder, gentler conservatism might be just to impress the voters. Time will tell.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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