Waiting for Mr. Trump.

April 13th, 2018 by Peter Lowry

Is this the day Mr. Trump sends the world to war? We wait. We wonder. It might not be a good day to plan next year’s vacation. The man has his finger on the button.

He makes jokes about it. Who else knows when he is just kidding? He exchanges insults with a mindless puppet of a dictator. He threatens the world’s second largest nuclear power. He is a narcissist and a womanizer, a xenophobe and a crude and ignorant Islamophobe.

What does Mr. Trump really know about other countries, world affairs, the ups and downs of world trade, the economics and the concerns? And, come to think of it, what does he know about the United States of America?

There are no Trump Towers to build in Nebraska. There is no Trump Casino in Utah. And what was the last book about America Mr. Trump enjoyed reading? The Trump view of America comes from his travels between his building projects and his golf courses that are mostly on the East coast of the United States. For leisure, he travels to his golf courses up and down the Eastern Seaboard.

This is a shallow person with insomnia who has embraced the use of social media to make himself feel important. He brings in serious people who want to help him but they soon tire of the impossibility of the chore. Yes, ignorance can be cured but only when the ignorant person wants to learn.

Mr. Trump is not interested in learning. His ego does not allow it. He is a septuagenarian who lives in the bubble of extreme wealth. People come to him. People are there to serve him. What he wants, he can buy. The losers, the bikers, the unwashed, the born again, the desperate and the angry, see him as their saviour, as he speaks to them and, they think, for them.

Mr. Trumps current press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders is an excellent example of that Trump following as she reflects the same distrust of the traditional news media. The media might consider her boorish and ignorant but she is the best they are going to get from the Trump White House.

And if you are among those who think Mr. Trump will be impeached at some time, you better help get it started. Impeachment is not something that happens overnight.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

The environmental crimes of Justin Trudeau.

April 12th, 2018 by Peter Lowry

Our prime minister might not appreciate the charges but he needs to understand what is involved. Whether he likes it or not, he needs to be reminded of the five basic environmental crimes of the proposed Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

Number one: While the stock shots of bitumen mining in Alberta show open-pit mining, the reality is that by far the bulk of the extensive bitumen deposits in the Athabasca and Cold Lake tar sands are deep underground. The standard procedure to retrieve these layers of bitumen is to drill and pipe down hot water and force up the bitumen. The only problem is you need vast settling tanks for all that contaminated, greasy water that endangers wildlife. And another problem is that you are never completely sure just where the bitumen and contaminated water might come up.

Number two: The existing 1150-kilometre Trans Mountain pipeline has operated since 1953 and is capable of transporting 300,000 barrels of crude oil or diluted bitumen per day. The expansion project is to add heaters and a high-pressure capability to the original pipe and build an additional high-pressure pipe with heaters to triple the daily capacity. It is hard to ignore the repeated incidence of spills from bitumen pipelines. When diluted bitumen gets into fresh water eco-systems, it can never be completely cleaned up.

Number three: The increased tanker traffic in Burrard Inlet and in the Straits is a hazard that even the federal government acknowledges but the government’s willingness to take responsibility is a serious potential cost for all Canadians.

Number four: Refining bitumen into ersatz crude oil is a highly polluting process. The bitumen slag produced is almost pure carbon and while it can be burned in high temperature applications, the carbon footprint continues. And there is no free pass on this from Mother Nature because the polluting is carried on in some third world country. Canada owns that carbon.

Number five: The end product of processed bitumen is some form of petroleum product. Whether burned in an internal combustion engine or as heating oil for a home, it adds to the carbon pollution of our world. The fact that bitumen creates more than three times the carbon footprint of natural crude oil is the problem. It is why Alberta does not want the responsibility for converting the bitumen to ersatz crude oil before shipping it out of the province.

It seems pointless for the Trudeau government to have an environment minister when it promotes pollution of this magnitude.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Has anybody seen Jagmeet?

April 11th, 2018 by Peter Lowry

This is becoming ridiculous. The New Democratic Party of Canada has to have some leadership. Without leadership, it is going to become the forgotten party and the efforts of many fine people over the last 80 years will be wasted. The party can hardly continue as present with no leadership, no direction and no clear vision of the future for Canada.

No, I am not a party member. It is just that as a progressive, I expect the NDP to play a role in helping develop the critically needed social programs for Canadians. And I hardly want the one-person Green Party to be the only focus for protecting our environment.

We need ongoing dialogue in parliament on serving Canadian needs and the NDP is not playing its part. It has to have leadership to do that. And that same leadership should be inspiring and encouraging the NDP to be making a mark in provincial and district legislatures across the country.

If we had an effective leader of the NDP, there would a sit-down somewhere, but soon, with the federal leader, the premier of Alberta and the premier of British Columbia. Jagmeet Singh cannot consider himself leader of anything until he resolves this problem. There can only be one stand for the NDP on the Trans Mountain pipeline issue. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has already shown where hypocrisy takes us.

And the NDP cannot continue to delay by hoping that Kinder Morgan will simply reach its deadline at the end of May and cancel the expansion. The issue is our environment and the environment cannot be trusted to fools.

Jagmeet Singh has to realize that he will soon be accused of leaving the Ontario legislature before the total collapse of the Ontario NDP. There could be nothing left of the Ontario party but one or two seats in Northern Ontario after the June 7 provincial election.

We always assumed there was an intelligent and competent man in those colorful turbans and bespoke suits. Nobody really cares about Jagmeet being a devout Sikh but Canadians cannot accept his religion overshadowing the job he has undertaken. The job comes first. Maybe his fellow Sikhs should have thought about that before they joined the NDP en mass in both B.C. and Ontario. They decided the leadership for the NDP. Are they ready to accept that responsibility?

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Failed Philanthropy.

April 10th, 2018 by Peter Lowry

It was intriguing going through David Callahan’s book The Givers: Wealth, power, and philanthropy in a new gilded age. There has rarely been that much understanding of the failures of North American society. As president of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada back in the 1970s, I could never have written so forcefully of my concerns over the direction that charitable philanthropy was taking.

In those years as volunteer president, I took the Canadian organization into   a new age as a major health agency. I started with a small philanthropy and turned it into a cause. From a total budget of $180,000 a year, I stayed until we past $10 million per year in funding. And that was well before crowd sourcing became an Internet possibility.

But let me say that Callahan’s book is heavy reading until he lets his hair down and states his concerns. Charitable funding, emotional funding or guilty-conscience funding are never the answer to societal problems. We, as fellow humans have to accept our responsibilities. If we leave things for the other guys, they will never get done.

We, all of us, need to be equally and deeply concerned about the needs of our society. I was arguing with a very capable politician a while ago because I wanted him to seek a seat at Queen’s Park in the coming election. Knowing this guy, he could be premier within the next five or six years. But he told me that the major concerns at Queen’s Park were health and education and that was where the bulk of the money went. Those issues just did not turn his crank. He will likely take the federal route next year.

He could not be more wrong. The health and education of our society are the seminal issues as we continue through the 21st century. We are in an era of innovation and progress and here is where we must meet the challenges.

And philanthropy cannot pay for these vital needs. Philanthropists might have made their money from an outrageous risk but they want their legacy to be solid and without risk. People such as Bill Gates of Microsoft and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook are nerds who have no understanding of societal needs and the future. They can waste their money as they wish and as they can but they do little good.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Getting to know Doug Ford.

April 9th, 2018 by Peter Lowry

It takes time. Over the next six to eight weeks, more and more Ontario voters will start to think seriously about the June 7 provincial election. To many, it will just be a bit of a bother, a minor blip in an otherwise busy life. The actual turnout at the polls will just be a statistic because we will find out the results at the same time. It will be the politicians who rejoice or dispute the results.

Nobody will be noisier in rejoicing or disputing than conservative leader Doug Ford. He is the neophyte at this electoral process. He will ignore the rules. He will ignore the advice of his aides. He will call his errors, innovations. His policies will be spur of the moment ideas. His plans will be, at best, vague and ill-defined.

One of his first decisions about the campaign trail has been to cancel the bus that would have allowed the news media to travel with him. It confused the claim that the conservatives had raised the most campaign funds. That campaign bus will nag Ford from the beginning to the end of the campaign. It made him look cheap (despite the media paying for it) and the result will be poorer coverage of his campaign.

Admittedly most campaign organizations would be delighted to get rid of the media bus. There are always people in the inner circle who consider it like taking you own nest of vipers along with you. They are a pain in the ass and are always trying to screw up your logistics.

But those media are the entire purpose of the travels. They are your heralds, your scribes, your minstrels, your town criers. They are your opportunity. They tell the voters about you. If you just enfold them in your arms and show them the love they deserve, they will still stab you in the back.

Even while failing to explain his decision about the bus, Ford was getting himself in more trouble. There was a question from the media present about why he was not coming to a black community event. He was supposedly going to be in Northern Ontario next week while all the other leaders were discussing black problems in Toronto. Ford was telling the media how much he and his late brother Rob loved black people. He even told them about having taken under-privileged black kids up to his cottage in Muskoka in the summer. He was patronizing.

Doug Ford’s concern on June 7 will be the Ontario voters who will buy into his slash and burn politics. These are the voters he has to have on his side. They will only bother to vote for him if they believe he can win. They will not waste their time voting for a loser. Those polling figures can change a great deal by voting day.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Trump-lite is not Trump.

April 8th, 2018 by Peter Lowry

Have you been reading the media pontificators who are comparing Ontario conservative leader Doug Ford with U.S. President Donald Trump? It is a sad comparison. It would annoy Donald Trump, if he cared. Doug Ford is a wannabe. He would dearly love to have as much money as Trump and to have ripped off so many in business. It is hard to compare the ups and downs of a label printing business to the successes and failures of Trump.

And what makes anyone think that a blowhard such as Ford is going to win in Ontario? Ford is a loser. It was his brother who created Ford Nation. It was his brother who won the Toronto mayoralty. It was brother Rob who created the legend. The only political success Doug Ford has ever had was winning his late brother’s council seat in the City of Toronto. That is hardly the route to the premier’s chair in Ontario.

The reason many of us think of Ford as Trump-lite is that he shares the same failure in not being very political. Trump has made a game of being a political fool. Doug Ford just cannot help it. Ford is trying to be political. Trump does not care. Trump is a pig with women while Ford tries to act like his mother taught him manners. Both hate the news media but that is because the honest media tell the truth about them. Trump is simple. Ford is conflicted.

The one thing that we see in both of these pseudo politicians is that they have pushed the boundaries of unsuitable for office into despised. There seems to be absolutely no need to listen to either for the purpose of learning anything.

But to suggest that the political system in Ontario is similar to the corrupted federal situation in the United States shows a lack of understanding of the two systems. Trump, somewhat unwittingly, mixed the losers, the angry, the religious right, the lunatic fringe and the bigots of mid-America into an election day force that worked to give him the electoral college. It was also something like the situation with the errors the Ontario conservatives built into their leadership voting. If we understand this properly, Ford won over Christine Elliott despite the fact she had more votes and more electoral districts supporting her.

Luckily, in Ontario, you need to have more of your party elected in more electoral districts. It is simple. It is one-person, one-vote. It is hard to get confused. You get who you get because that is the way people want it. It is the best safeguard against losers like Doug Ford to be found.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Premier Wynne’s nemesis.

April 7th, 2018 by Peter Lowry

If Premier Wynne really wants to keep her job in Ontario, I would suggest that she should make amends by first firing Ed Clark as chair of the Liquor Control Board and of the Ontario Cannabis stores. Even at the price of one dollar per year, he is not worth it. She has given a guy with absolutely no political smarts the ammunition to destroy her.

This is not a question of loyalty. Bad advice and bad advice followed are the problems. Ed Clark has absolutely no political smarts and would ask his doctor if there is a pill for it, if he did. Ed Clark is a banker. Bankers are the people who want you to borrow money, when you do not need it, and demand you pay it back when you lack the funds. They give you a nice shiny new credit card but cluck their tongue when you over use it, in their estimation.

Bankers are never your friend. To suggest that Clark’s experience running TD Bank was a consumer success is to suggest that he failed as a banker. If bankers were honest with you, they would admit that they do not like dealing with the hoi polio. Consumers with their grubby little deposits are not the stuff of bankers’ dreams.

You need to remember that the one blunder that really caused Premier Wynne to fall off her high horse was following Ed Clark’s advice to sell off Hydro One. That was the turning point. Against all political instincts, she started to sell Hydro One without realizing that the voters did not even know what she was attempting to sell. Given the history of Ontario Hydro, it goes down in political history books as a really dumb move.

Somebody should have told Wynne that Hydro One—the transmission network—was hived off from Ontario Hydro 15 years earlier by the Harris government with the intent to sell it. Everybody thought Kathleen Wynne was smarter than Mike Harris. Even he was convinced not to do it.

The other suggestion that Ed Clark made to the Wynne government was that they start selling beer and wine through the grocery stores. That is probably the worst implementation of a government program we have ever seen. The grocery stores do not make money on it. The rules are inconsiderate of the grocers. And they want the same guy to sell marijuana in Ontario?

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

A different kind of baseball.

April 6th, 2018 by Peter Lowry

It was as much as a surprise to me at the time as it was to those who know me. I fell in love with the Toronto Blue Jays. From opening day of the new SkyDome in Toronto in 1989, they were my Blue Jays. I think I have seen games from all five levels of the stadium, the restaurant and from different boxes and bars. I was there for both back-to-back World Series wins in the 90s. I am Canadian and hockey still gets me going, but to me, baseball is the beautiful game.

But I have never been back since the Rogers people took over the team and so crudely renamed that unique stadium. I even refuse to pay the price for the specialty channels on my Bell Canada-supplied television service to watch the Blue Jays in action.

Did you hear lately that those leeches at Rogers are getting the Blue Jays to take a kickback from the ticket scalpers. That is a new low even for Rogers.

When I moved six years ago, I checked ahead at the new building and found that Rogers had a lock on the cable services. When I asked the Rogers’ call centre for a quote on home telephone, Internet and television service, I was quoted a price of just under $200 a month before taxes. When I asked why the price was so high, the call centre guy said it was because Rogers believed there was no alternative. What they did not know was that Bell was to announce Fibe service in the area the following week. While Bell Fibe has interesting weaknesses, it is still cheaper than the same service from Rogers.

The last time I appeared before the Canadian Radio-Television Telecommunications Commission, it was to oppose the acquisition of CTV Television and its subsidiaries by Bell Canada. The intercession was futile but the objections I gave the commission have come true. The sorry state of CTV today is because Bell has no idea how to run an operation that relies on the goodwill of its viewers. In its 135-plus years, Bell never has never learned to respect its customers or its employees.

Like the evil brother, Rogers tries to outdo Bell. It has locked-in both baseball and hockey in Canada and as the CBC’ contracts expire, we will see the squeeze play on hockey. Sports bars with their multiple screens will replace the home viewing of the popular sports as fewer and fewer of us will be able to afford the Rogers surcharges.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Ceding Civility in Canada.

April 5th, 2018 by Peter Lowry

Writing about civility in politics the other day, we never got to the situation here in Canada. Despite our Canadian reputation for civility, things have lately gone to hell in a basket. Federal and provincial politics in Canada have become noisy arguments between spoiled children. Our politicians are not working together to meet the needs of those who elected them.

At the federal level, our parliament has continued to lose sight of the ‘sunny days’ that greeted the defeat of the Harper conservatives. Our poster boy prime minister is losing his lustre both at home and abroad as he missteps his way into new ground in Ottawa and in world politics.

The opposition party in Ottawa chose a nobody to hold the fort as leader and now ‘Chuckles’ Scheer is leading the wolf pack with a ferocity that surprises those who know him. Attacking the liberal government and its ministers has become a blood sport as the façade of competence falls away.

But Ottawa’s problems also come from surprising sources. The American White House is challenging Justin Trudeau’s attempts at bonhomie. Trump alternately patronizes and berates the Canadian prime minister. He tells Trudeau one thing and then tweets something else.

Even long-standing provincial politicians are falling in an onslaught of meanness. No party is safe anywhere. The west coast is a war zone as Alberta and British Columbia’s two New Democrat governments hurl insults and law suit arguments at each other. And you wonder what things are coming to when you have to count on the Saskatchewan government to stand up for that dreary Prairie ultra conservatism.

And yet it is Canada’s two most established and long-running governments of Ontario and Quebec that stand threatened. The pollsters tell us that in Quebec it is the liberal government of Phillippe Couillard that stands on shaky ground as another unknown, unexpected coalition of the right tries to usurp the liberal trust.

It is a Trump-lite wannabe named Doug Ford who is attempting to destroy the liberal dynasty in Ontario. As more and more of the province’s voters come to realize how shallow are his promises, the less the credibility.

But whatever the outcome, the vaunted myth of the civility of Canadians appears to be in jeopardy.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Wait until they are ‘At Post.’

April 4th, 2018 by Peter Lowry

Ontario is in the midst of a ‘phony war.’ People are getting excited about public opinion polls that are meaningless. Babel-on-the-Bay is more than a month away from offering its Morning Line on the coming provincial election. At least wait until then to place your bets on the outcome.

You have to remember that not all horses in this race have passed their drug tests. Hell, the conservatives have been on a high for too long thinking they can walk away with first prize. One of the biggest bumps on the road from here to election day is the conservative leader—such as he is! Does the conservative brain trust really think they can keep him from saying what he wants? Doug Ford is a loose cannon and anything can happen.

And how about friends? There was a radio advertisement the other day by the specialists who run the Ontario Medical Association. The words dripped of greed and confidence that the conservatives will come to power. The only people who will benefit from a conservative win might be the medical specialists and other millionaires.

And then there was an op-ed in the Toronto Star by one-time New Democrat guru Val Sears. He was trying to tell us that all three parties are equal. It was a good try but the only way to resurrect the NDP in Ontario is with a shovel. He should look up the word ‘nebbish’ in his dictionary. It is an excellent description of NDP leader Andrea Horwath. The NDP have no where to go in Ontario and a nobody to lead them.

And in the meantime, the liberals have more leadership than the party needs. I like to think of Wynne as the wicked witch of North Toronto. What I have been seeing lately is some new, fresh, young liberal faces appearing who might start to tell Granny what big teeth she has and suggest that she move along and go into retirement.

But she did win me over with some of her death bed repentance. That recent budget, was offering a pastiche of liberalism and I could only approve. These were all desperate needs in mental health, day care, health care and in looking after the poor and disadvantaged in our society. Only a curmudgeon would disagree with the needs.

But here’s hoping the crick don’t rise and we can have a well doped out Morning Line for you before the middle of May.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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