Trump’s Presidential Pique.

August 12th, 2017 by Peter Lowry

It is not amusing. How long does the world have to put up with the childish back-and-forth of President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. Neither of these men is competent enough to be allowed to play with firecrackers let alone weapons of mass destruction. It could be frightening many people around the world.

Thankfully, Congress is not about to let Donald Trump declare war on a postage stamp country tucked into the armpit of China’s Manchuria. The last time, the Americans sent General Douglas MacArthur there to straighten out the mess. Ultimately it brought the Chinese into the fighting. It created a worse standoff than before.

And why would the Americans be so foolish as to listen to the rantings of Kim Jong Un? Anywhere else in the world that nutcase would be certified, neutered and tucked away where he could do no harm. In North Korea, the generals who really run the country use him as a harmless puppet. Only nobody has explained that to Donald Trump.

This is not to suggest that the Americans should not take a few precautions. They have to be wary of high flying gifts from across the Pacific. They had best have some capability in place to shoot those things down if needed.

But once their defenses are in place, Donald Trump needs to shut up. He has been playing right into the hands of those North Koreans and used by the South Koreans. Neither country is worth the attention and aid they get.

And Mr. Trump hardly needs to give himself an ulcer playing into the Kim Jong Un playbook. It really is unseemly for a large and powerful country to play to the North Korean’s very silly game.

And, most pathetic, here is the omnipotent United States of America running to the United Nations Security Council about the big bad North Koreans playing (maybe) with nukes—and with ICBMs that could (potentially) reach North America. Here you have the Peoples Republic of China and Russia, who know a thing or two about skating around sanctions, agreeing to a U.N. resolution imposing about a billion dollars in sanctions against the North Koreans—that they might or might not honour.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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Mike Pence demurs.

August 11th, 2017 by Peter Lowry

There is nothing a politician loves more than a boost from the media—especially a newspaper that normally disses him. Vice President Mike Spence considers it a win if the New York Times just mentions his name. For the newspaper to suggest that he might be a Republican candidate for the presidency in three years is more than he could hope for.

While deeply flattered and pleased at the mention, Pence is required to blush and say: “I am loyal to my President.” That goes with his job. Even though President Trump is unaware of the protocol of the position, Pence knows that Trump would cut him off at the knees if he ever looked like he was campaigning to replace the erratic and unappreciative Trump.

It is only when you try to imagine Trump running for re-election in 2020, that you understand the humour of the situation. With the approval to-day of less than a third of U.S. voters, Mr. Trump would have to do something very dramatic in the next couple years to bring himself into contention. And, hopefully, nuking North Korea is not what he will try.

The interesting situation here is that the real beneficiaries of this are New York’s Koch brothers. These are the major financiers of the Republican Party in the United States and Mike Pence, when Governor of Indiana, was bought and paid for by the Koch brothers. They are also major supporters of Donald Trump. They have the situation in hand whichever way it falls.

Obviously, the Koch brothers have very little confidence in Donald Trump. While he is furthering their program of killing Obamacare and tax cuts for the very rich, he considers himself their equal. He hardly follows their direction as faithfully as his Vice President.

But they have Pence for back-up. They have already launched a PAC to fund his back-door campaign for the presidency and they are setting him up to speak to their various front organizations within the Republican Party. This includes both gubernatorial and Tea-Party gatherings to ensure a broad base for him in the 2020 race.

And if Mr. Trump does not stay President for his full term, they have Pence ready to carry the ball. For Trump to try to stay in for a second term could spoil the Koch brothers and Mike Pence’s hopes.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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Jagmeet’s ‘means test.’

August 10th, 2017 by Peter Lowry

It is a trap that more and more New Democratic Party spokespeople are falling into. By denying universality of programs, they think they are attracting voters from the right. They are not. They are setting themselves up for failure with their traditional supporters. It is a losing proposition.

And when Jagmeet Singh poses his challenge to the universality of Old Age Security, he is annoying seniors and winning no new friends. To suggest that he wants to create a means-tested Old Age Security replacement wins him no friends either.

With the universal delivery of Old Age Security, it is easy to deliver and easy to claw back from pensioners who do not need it.

It is interesting that Jagmeet has gotten on board with fellow leadership candidate MP Guy Caron’s suggestion of a guaranteed income supplement for Canadians. Like all economists, Mr. Caron makes a strong argument for his plan but he also makes it too complicated. Jagmeet might just be looking at the likelihood of Guy Caron not making it past the first ballot in the upcoming voting. The Ontario MPP thinks he can pick up those mainly Quebec votes to help put him over the top.

A key factor in the New Democratic leadership race will be the new sign-ups by each of the candidates. Considering the number of South Asian immigrants across Canada, it depends on how much time Jagmeet Singh’s supporters have had to line up memberships in that community. Jagmeet must have noted the ease with which Patrick Brown lined up enough supporters in that community to swamp the existing provincial Conservative membership in Ontario. We will know the answer after the membership cut-off scheduled for August 17.

(It would be interesting to run the new Ontario NDP memberships against the Ontario Progressive Conservative memberships of 2015. You might be surprised at the number of one-time Conservatives who have seen the light and have now joined the NDP.)

The final membership figures will be the key to a reasonably accurate Morning Line from Babel-on-the-Bay on August 28. Judging by what we have seen so far, the hunch is that we will know who has been chosen the new leader of the New Democratic Party at the closing of the first ballot on October 1, 2017. There might be no need for subsequent ballots.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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Diminishing Democracy.

August 9th, 2017 by Peter Lowry

Around the world, from Venezuela to Poland, from Turkey to America, we are watching the destruction of democracy. Those who believe in democracy are routinely arrested, beaten, detained or killed on the streets of once-safe cities. It is a challenge everywhere. There is no safe haven.

And Canada is no bastion of democracy. Former Prime Minister Harper routinely showed us his distain for parliament and democratic principles. Prime Minister Trudeau is no saviour of democracy either as he disrespects and destroys the Liberal Party. Like Harper before him, Trudeau uses his party as a political ATM. He only comes calling for funds.

The political corruption and destruction of democracy has moved fast and furious in the United States where Donald Trump measures his supporters in their gullibility. He calls them together regularly to rally and reassure him of their fealty. They feed his narcissism and eat up his lies.

The political parties of the United Stares of America are on the downside of favour with the people. The two main parties are hopelessly committed to their monied masters. They replace concern for the people with ideology and argue that everything that goes wrong is the ‘other guys’ fault. And only the very rich in America have influence. They are the ones who collect politicians like they used to collect stuffed trophies of the hunt.

And nobody cares. Their attention is to their royalty; their entertainers. The youth would rather devote themselves to social media on the ever more intrusive Internet—allowing Big Brother to catalogue their lives in the electronic prisons of the uninformed.

And what happened to the friendly police who used to help the elderly across the street? The politicians arm the police like storm troopers to protect us from what?

And not even the tyrant sleeps soundly. Political and corporate oligarchies are unstable at best as they keep to ideologies of the past. Even the oligarchs of Russia reap early harvests as they show lack of faith in the coming dawn. Will there be democracy tomorrow?


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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The grassroots of ignorance.

August 8th, 2017 by Peter Lowry

Recently we complained about Opposition Leader Andrew ‘Chuckles’ Scheer inciting bigotry over the restitution paid to Canadian citizen Omar Khadr. Now we have the less bright of Chuckles’ backbenchers repeating the lies and half truths in ‘penny-dreadful’ mailings to their constituents.

We who live in the electoral district of Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte M.P. Alex Nuttall have been wondering what he has found to amuse himself in Ottawa. Since Alex won by 86 votes from rural voters who did not know him as well as the city voters, he seems to have settled in the nation’s capital. It must have pleased him that the Conservative caucus office offered to send mailings to his voters for him. It is obvious that neither Nuttall nor any of his staff can write so they sent what they were given.

Can you imagine a big reverse headline: “$10.5 million for a terrorist”? They actually call Mr. Khadr a “convicted terrorist.” They obviously know very little about the definition of libel and slander. Omar Khadr was never convicted of being a ‘terrorist.’ He has never been charged with breaking any law in Canada. His only entanglement with pseudo justice was when the Americans shot him and dragged him off to their prison in Guantanamo, Cuba. Then an American military kangaroo court eventually convicted him under a non-existent law to get him out of their hands.

And I think we can all be skeptical of the statement that Justin Trudeau decided how much to pay him as compensation. As I recall, the prime minister was attending the various economic summits at the time we learned of the award.

But frankly I am puzzled by the question posed in the flyer to Mr. Nuttall’s constituents. It asks “Does Omar Khadr deserve $10.5 million and an apology?” To answer that as a ‘Yes or No’ question is a challenge.

But it is more of an incitement to bigotry than a serious question.

Does anyone know what the final bill will be from Mr. Khadr’s lawyers? It would be good if there was something left for him for 15 years of pain, torture, deprivation and suffering, when the Canadian government would do nothing to help him.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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She could use her married name.

August 7th, 2017 by Peter Lowry

The question was: What would help Brian Mulroney’s daughter win a seat in the Legislature in the next Ontario provincial election? The obvious answer is to use a different name. It might be a quarter century since Canadian voters turfed Brian Mulroney’s Conservatives (then led by Kim Campbell) and left the party with just two seats in parliament, but the odour lingers.

But Caroline Mulroney has other concerns. She is mother of four pre-teens at her and her husband’s estate in Georgina between Barrie and Toronto. She is a principal in BloombergSen investment firm but seems to lack political savvy. For example, it is not the amount you spend on an announcement but the creativity, competence and thought you put into it.

Her timing is bad because the provincial party is currently mired in claims and counter claims about the problems created by the party’s leader and his team in attracting and nominating candidates. Throwing a name candidate such as Ms. Mulroney into the melee seems unfair to her.

And since not much happens in York-Simcoe riding without the blessing of Conservative MP Peter Van Loan, we wonder what is going on?

What really turns us off in this announcement is that her husband Andrew Lapham is an executive of New York’s Blackstone investment firm that has fully functioning offices around the world but apparently not in Toronto. Maybe Ms. Mulroney intends to keep her husband in the background.

The believable aspect of Ms. Mulroney’s candidacy is her claim that York-Simcoe voters tell her they want change. Since voters in that area both federally and provincially have been represented by Conservative politicians for the past two decades, we can understand that desire for change.

But knowing she grew up as a child of privilege and went to University in Boston and New York does not warm us to her compassion. Her philanthropic efforts show little depth of understanding in societal needs.

What really turns us off is her glowing description of Ontario Conservative leader Patrick Brown. Her father addressed the Conservative caucus at Queen’s Park a year ago and told them how important he thinks it is for caucuses to support their leader. Brian Mulroney probably knows a thing or two about that problem.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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It takes four to replace Mansbridge?

August 6th, 2017 by Peter Lowry

The other day, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation announced that it will take four people to replace long-time news anchor Peter Mansbridge. The question is whether the four are equal to the task?

The reality today is that the CBC is doing a far better job with its news website than anyone else and that is an edge that it should build on. In a world that is heading towards smart TVs and interactive all-day news delivery, the Corp is head and heals ahead of its commercial competition.

Bell Canada’s CTV Network might have the largest audiences today for its late-night news but anchor Lisa LaFlamme is stuck in the past style of news presentation. And while Dawna Friesen with Global might have an audience slightly ahead of the CBC, she has little room to show her strengths.

The best part of the Mansbridge shows were the panels that became staples late at night. You had to be wide awake for the At Issue panel with people such as Chantal Hébert and Andrew Coyne over the past 16 years. They are articulate, knowledgeable and well informed.

Rosemary Barton is probably the weak link in the four-part scheme but you need someone who at least knows her way around the parliament buildings to cover the Ottawa angles.

Ian Hanomansing is the smoothest-talking of the four and sharing the Toronto anchor desk with someone with the reporting experience of Adrienne Arsenault could be a good mix. Andrew Chang from Vancouver is a relatively new face to eastern viewers but we have liked what we have seen so far. Linking the country in that manner will be hard to balance but it could be the strength of the show to come.

But now that the CBC has announced its plans, you would have expected the new show to be up and running in September. No, they are waiting for November. That will give CTV two months to try to lock in its audience for its new five to seven pm local-plus-national format.

The problem with the new CTV two-hour early evening approach is that it will probably be worse than Global’s hour-and-a-half format. Both networks brazenly promote their own non-news shows as news and use repetition on news items and call it depth.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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The Trump Technique.

August 5th, 2017 by Peter Lowry

The media were all atwitter the other day when they got some leaked transcripts from the White House of conversations President Trump had with other countries’ leaders. They got them and did not understand them. They did not seem to understand the technical term for the technique he was using; it is called B.B.S. (Better B.S.)

The American news media have never had to deal with anyone such as Trump in the White House. They do not understand a street fighter at his level of operations. He is a con man who has made a few billion. (Which means he knows his way with B.B.S.)

To accomplish what he has over his 70 years, you have to start by admitting that Mr. Trump is pretty damn good at this B.B.S. business. Does it really matter that he is vain, vulgar, erratic and has the attention span of a gerbil? He is using B.B.S. on the media, on his followers, on Twitter and now with people such as the President of Mexico.

What Mr. Trump does not want is his followers to know is that there is no way, short of war, he can get Mexico to pay for his stupid wall. The first thing he wants President. Peña Nieto to do is to shut up about who is paying for the damn wall. The second thing he wants is for Mexico and the U.S.A. to ally themselves against those jerks up in Canada. It is the old divide and conquer technique. As a developer, Mr. Trump has been using it for years.

So, he tells the Mexican that the Canadian Prime Minister is a nobody, a wus and not important. He implies that the Americans and the Mexicans can make short work of the Canadians and then solve all the problems with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between them.

Can you not just see the President of Mexico sitting in his office in Mexico City and listening to this developer’s B.B.S. He probably put in a call right after to Ottawa and said “Justin, you’re not going to believe the horse shit I just heard from that old fart in Washington.”

There is no question that President Peña Nieto and Prime Minister Trudeau are going to take that silly old fart to the cleaners!


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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Money matters maybe.

August 4th, 2017 by Peter Lowry

Never judge a political race by money raised. Whether it is an internal party race for a nomination or a leadership or party fundraising prior to an election, you have to remember that money does not vote. Case in point, the fundraising by each of the four candidates for the New Democratic Party might tell you a bit about potential votes but hardly forecasts the winner.

As an experienced political apparatchik, I can tell you that I am most impressed with Charlie Angus’ fundraising efforts. Remember that he is based in Northern Ontario and he has raised $233,000 in 2017 through June of this year. In the NDP, that pays for a respectable campaign to reach the 100,000 plus existing party members and the search and capture for maybe another 25,000 new members. Charlie probably has a potential base vote of about 50,000.

I have to say that Niki Ashton is sure tenacious and the Manitoba MP’s $135,000 fundraising in the first six months this year tells a good story. While she will not win over as many of the existing party members, her new sign-ups will be darn loyal and she could push Charlie Angus hard with a base vote of close to 40,000.

The disappointing performance is by Guy Caron the MP from Quebec. With just over $100,000 raised in the first six months, his campaign is limited. It is hard to say just where he stands in voting potential.

Whether Caron could rally late is probably mute as most of the noise now is going to later-comer Jagmeet Singh MPP from Ontario. Singh’s campaign started in May and through May and June, his campaign raised over $350,000 from just over 1500 donors. He claims that 75 per cent of this money came from first-time donors which tells us that South-Asian immigrants are going all-out for him. It is obvious that he has the ability (and the funds) to sign up as many as 100,000 as NDP members—but only a short time to do it. Even then, he is not likely to win on the first ballot.

Bear in mind that Andrew Scheer, the new Conservative leader came fifth in fundraising in that party’s leadership race. He was also given 12 to 1 odds by our Morning Line. He beat us all by being most Conservatives second choice.

As the voting for the NDP leadership is scheduled to begin September 18, we will be moving up our Morning Line on this race to August 28 to please some of our NDP readers.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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Murray dumps Wynne.

August 3rd, 2017 by Peter Lowry

“Don’t let the door handle hit you in the ass on the way out, Glen!” The good news is that Ontario Environment Minister Glen Murray is leaving the Wynne cabinet in Ontario. The bad news is that his new job is as executive director of Alberta’s namby-pamby Pembina Institute. It should suit him.

It was not as though he was doing anything useful in Toronto. From the time in the Ontario Liberal leadership when he dumped his supporters in the gay community a week before voting on delegates, Murray’s self interest has been apparent. He was assuring himself a cabinet position while fouling the voting for convention delegates.

Some people are describing his departure as a rat leaving a sinking ship but there is a long way to go before the Ontario election scheduled for June 7, 2018. If Wynne and her Liberals had any competition, they would worry.

At 50, Montreal-born Glen Murray has been trying to decide where he is headed. He was elected three times as a Winnipeg councillor and served six years as mayor of Winnipeg before coming to Toronto. The one political loss he suffered over the years was a stab at a federal seat in 2004 in Manitoba. It was not a good election for Liberals in the west.

He won a seat in the Ontario Legislature in a by-election in February 2010.

As a politician, you can see his appeal for the Pembina Institute. You would think that a Calgary-based environmentalist organization would do very poorly among the local tar sands exploiters but that is not the case. The institute seems almost apologetic when it explains the harm bitumen can do. It must also be the only environmentalist organization to refer to bitumen as ‘crude oil.’

(Bitumen is the tarry substance in the tar sands that can be refined into ersatz crude oil at a substantial carbon footprint. It has to be diluted with a carrier and heated to send it through a pipeline at high pressure.)

Glen Murray’s seat in the Ontario Legislature will remain vacant until after the June election next year. It should not make too much difference.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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