Only fools annoy us.

July 22nd, 2020 by Peter Lowry

There will be many fine words used to describe John Lewis who died last week. He was a leader of the U.S. civil rights movement and the long-serving representative for Alabama’s Fifth Congressional District.

But the words that need to be remembered are those attributed to John Lewis himself. In light of the growing disrespect of laws, authorities and public property, these words are the most important:

“I know your pain, your rage, your sense of despair and hopelessness. Justice has, indeed, been denied for too long. Rioting, looting, and burning is not the way. Organize. Demonstrate. Sit-in. Stand-up. Vote. Be constructive, not destructive. History has proven time and again that non-violent, peaceful protest is the way to achieve the justice and equality that we all deserve.”

Those same words apply to the rioters in Portland, Oregon as to the fools in Toronto, Ontario who try to deface statues of people that others might honour.

We also need to understand that those rioters in the U.S. might be playing into the hands of Donald Trump. He wants his supporters to see him as a ‘law and order’ president to shore up his vote in November. The rioters in Oregon would be far more effective if they just organized and helped get out the anti-Trump vote to defeat him.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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Longing for leadership.

July 21st, 2020 by Peter Lowry

Sometime, after August 21, the conservative party hopes to announce the winner of the party’s national leadership. The big question though is does anybody care?

What possible difference would it make if Erin O’Toole beat Peter MacKay? It is the same old, same old conservative dogma. It would mean promising Canadians the squeezing of the size of government, tax loopholes for the rich, ignoring global warming and maybe more concessions to the radical Christian right. There are no new ideas coming from this party.

Nor do we have any expectations from the new democrats. If the party fails to get itself a new leader and new ideas, what hope is there for a party that is supposed to be the conscience of parliament?

The NDP did not even respond when outgoing leader of the green party, Elizabeth May, suggested that the NDP join with the greens. Without Ms. May, both parties are currently leaderless.

That leaves us with the liberals. Since the liberal party has been effectively neutered by Justin Trudeau, we have to look to the liberal caucus. Despite the yeoman service of the prime minister popping out of the cuckoo clock at Rideau Cottage on the pandemic file, it is his leadership we really have to question.

We have all seen it now. When things are swinging his way, the Trudeau scion gets cocky. The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) seems to have no one capable of looking ahead at the prime minister’s proposed actions. Nobody is giving the files the smell test. There is no political prospective being taken. Trudeau is free wheeling it, as though drunk. He is embarrassing liberals across Canada. He has put the Trans Mountain pipeline ahead of the environment. He ignores obvious conflicts of interest. He has no conscience.

And the solution can only be resolved by the liberal caucus. It is up to our liberal members of parliament to stand on their hind legs and bring the prime minister to heel. When the party leader loses the confidence of the caucus, it is time for action.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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“When Giants Walked Among Us.”

July 20th, 2020 by Peter Lowry

That line about giants came in an e-mail from a reader the other day. It was referring to the time of Lester B. Pearson, Pierre E. Trudeau, John and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King. It was a heady time to be involved in politics. It was a time to not only share the dream but to be involved in making it happen.

But what have we come to today when pygmies are allowed to besmirch giants? Why can a group, using the honourable name of the American Black Lives Matter organization, be allowed to toss paint on the statue of one of Canada’s giants, John A. Macdonald?

An American who helped found the student nonviolent coordinating committee and spoke just before Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech to the Washington March, died last week. His name was John Lewis and he served as a liberal democrat in the House of representatives for many years. He spoke out for equality and justice.

John Lewis could have told these pygmies in Toronto that civil disobedience does not work. He could have told them that defacing public property does not work. He could have told them to join a political party, get elected and take their cause to where it matters.

I also think those ignorant people who dishonoured Canada by trying to deface Sir John’s statue should meet me there later today—and bring their toothbrushes—they have a cleaning job to do.

And after Sir John has been restored, we will can march behind the pink palace to the statue on Queen’s Park Crescent of what’s his name on the horse. We are also going to clean up that horse. That is one damn fine horse and does not deserve to be painted pink.

But do not worry about Egerton Ryerson’s statue. You did not get any paint above his knees. He has had far worse things done to him by students of the excellent university named after him.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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Defund Police: Then What?

July 19th, 2020 by Peter Lowry

It reminds me of something out of an old Zane Grey novel. These people who mostly look like they need a job themselves are telling us to take away the money budgeted for police. Are they all so stupid that they think we do not need police?

Surely, they do not think some cowpoke is going to amble into town and save us from the big, bad policeman. I would welcome the chance to tell the cowpoke to start by getting rid of those noisy people who want to defund our police.

What else would you advise us to do with a bunch of knuckleheads who do not take the time to understand how we run our police in Ontario. The people who make the rules about our police are not at police headquarters or city hall. They are at Queen’s Park. They write the laws. They run the province’s Special Investigations Unit (S.I.U.) that investigates when the police shoot somebody. They appoint half the people on the city police board. No doubt they need a good laugh.

And I think us citizens are going to be generally happier when those law makers at Queen’s Park make it illegal for you to plunk your asses down on the asphalt and block traffic. I know there are laws against jaywalking. We need one against ‘jaysitting.’ In any event it is not a good idea to piss off the general public when you want them to support your cause.

What might have surprised all these yahoos who have been demonstrating their little hearts out over the brutality of police was the recent action by the S.I.U. The provincial agency has charged the police officer in Mississauga involved in tasering and shooting a citizen with criminal negligence causing bodily harm, assault with a weapon and careless use of a firearm.

What these demonstrators need to understand is that the system can work. It is the person who writes letters, the person who speaks to their elected representatives, the good cop who says ‘no more’ and the respectful questions that get the answers. Stupid antics, by stupid people, get the brush off.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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Finance Minister Morneau has to go.

July 18th, 2020 by Peter Lowry

(Before warming to today’s topic, I would like to thank the readers who sent their comments on yesterday’s topic. I thought at least five per cent of Canadians could name our last five prime ministers. I now think it might be only two per cent who can name Kim Campbell, Jean Chrétien, Paul Martin, Stephen Harper and Justin Trudeau—without checking with Google.)

 

But today, we are trying to make the case for prime minister Justin Trudeau to fire his finance minister. Bill Morneau does not seem to realize that, as finance minister, he is in the position of Caesar’s wife. A finance minister is not only required to be above suspicion but an error in judgement cannot be tolerated.

Nor can the credibility of a finance minister be salvaged with an apology. He can hardly forget that one of his daughters works for the We Charity. His other daughter got Craig Kielburger co-founder of the charity to say something nice about her book. The ages of your children hardly matter, you never stop worrying about them or wanting to be proud of them.

But this was a conflict of interest that Morneau took into cabinet and did not recuse himself. How can Canadians ever trust him again? Finance is a game without mulligans.

This does not apply to the prime minister. Justin Trudeau has had more ‘gotcha’s’ than the previous four prime ministers. Between the visit to the Aga Khan, the embarrassing boondoggle in India, the blackface in Vancouver, the SNC Lavalin affair and his mother’s retirement fund from the We Charity, Justin is teetering on the knife edge. While he gets us through the pandemic, that decision remains with the voters.

If any other political party had a half-respectable leader that the voters could get behind, Justin Trudeau and his apologies might be history.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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Leadership and legacies.

July 17th, 2020 by Peter Lowry

This was prodded by a reader. He asked me to search my mind for leaders of Canada’s federal parties and determine what I would consider their legacy to the country.

It was a somewhat disappointing search. While hardly a recent leader, I started with Sir John A. Macdonald. It is a rare person who can believe in a country and then make it happen. Sir John was hardly perfect and he left many problems for future generations. He gave our country a kick start.

The legacy of Sir Wilfrid Laurier is the essential difference between Canada and the United States. Sir Wilfrid was a thinker and he gave us the basis of the liberalism of Canada. He also established Canada as a country in its own right and the working relationship between Quebec and the rest of the country.

It was William Lyon Mackenzie King who established the basics of the country’s social welfare system. He might have been the quirkiest prime minister but he brought us through the Second World War.

I have a special place for Lester B. Pearson. The Auto Agreement that he put together with the United States was the forerunner of the Canada/U.S. free trade. And his two liberal minority governments were the hardest working and passed Canada’s Medicare, the Student Loan program, the Canada Pension Plan, our distinctive maple leaf flag and effectively abolished capital punishment.

I should also note that Mr. Pearson picked the man who followed him: Pierre Trudeau. Pierre’s legacy was his humour, his intellect and his honesty in office, as well as the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. His son Justin is not much like him.

The last prime minister on the list was handed his legacy by Pierre Trudeau’s Royal Commission on the Economic Union and Economic Prospects for Canada. It fell on Brian Mulroney to carry out free trade with the United States.

We have had five prime ministers since then. Can you name them all?

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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Ford follows mentor Trump.

July 16th, 2020 by Peter Lowry

From the low of being booed at the Raptors’ celebration in Toronto last year, Ontario premier Doug Ford feels it is time to hear some applause. After all the exposure he has gotten from the pandemic, he is ready to go on the road again. Like Donald Trump in the U.S., Dougie feeds on the approbation of his sycophants.

Since the province is not yet ready for large crowds of voters to gather and cheer the premier, he is cherry-picking the Covid-19 success stories around the province to keep the media interested. As long as the television reporters are there with their cameras, Dougie considers it a win. That is one thing that he has seen for himself with the daily news appearances at Queen’s Park to report on the pandemic and what might or might not be news. He revels in it.

Trump, conversely, has to have his numbers. It is his followers he needs to see at his rallies. When there were empty seats at his last rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, his campaign organization had to develop a plan for once or twice per day Internet events for his followers. It is the numbers that are critical. That is why his organization requires a ticket for each virtual event attendee.

While Ford is reaping the rewards for listening to the medical experts, Trump is suffering the consequences of his brushing aside the experts in the U.S. Putting vice president Pence in charge of the of the federal committee dealing with the coronavirus was a serious mistake.

The only problem Ford has with his approach is the bad timing. Any lift his approval numbers gained this far ahead of the election could be history when Ontario next goes to the polls. Too often the leader in the polls when the election is called, is not the leader on election day.

But then nobody really thinks that Trump or Ford are really politicians. They really just need someone to pat them on the head and give them an ‘attaboy.’

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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Pick your battles better Mr. Singh.

July 15th, 2020 by Peter Lowry

As leader of a political party, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh needs to learn to pick his battles with more care. When he says that the person who broke through the gates to Rideau Hall with his truck early this month was treated differently because he is white, Singh is making a racist statement. He is indiscriminately condemning all RCMP personnel as racist without justification.

Canadians would be quite surprised if the Mounties sent rookies just out of school to protect the prime minister and the governor general. The mounted police on this detail would be well aware that you are not allowed to shoot somebody who surrenders. And they know how to deal respectfully with citizens who want to visit the grounds of Rideau Hall.

I think I am more annoyed today with the Toronto Star. The newspaper seems to have a thing for hiring writers of colour who appear to disapprove of anybody white or in authority. An op-ed today by a writer named Kelly Roche was supposed to be about police chiefs and the NDP leader. It was, instead, a racist rant against all Canadian police and their (white) chiefs of police.

Ms. Roche seems to have a thing for cops. She thinks she can say with impunity that “Cops aren’t listening.” She tells us that “They (the police) want a scapegoat and it is the dude with the turban.”

And what kind of editing is the Star doing these days. The writer uses an arcane journalism term ‘nut graf’ to show she is some sort of journalist. That term would likely be understood by less than five per cent of the Star readers. (The term ‘nut graf’ refers to the paragraph—usually the first—that explains what the article is about.)

The thumbnail picture that comes with the opinion piece tells us nothing about Ms. Roche but the copy tells us that she teaches journalism part time. Based on this one sample, I would not be inclined to recommend her course.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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How do we pay the mortgage?

July 14th, 2020 by Peter Lowry

It would have helped last week if finance minister Bill Morneau had paid some attention to the deficit side of our financial snapshot. The problem is that to many Canadians the figures he was discussing were unfathomable. The average citizen does not think of money in billions and trillions. Reality to most of us is the cost of a coffee at Tim’s or a loaf of bread at Loblaws. And politicians need to remember it.

Mr. Morneau and the liberal government have taken out a sizeable mortgage on Canada to get us through this pandemic and we are still in the woods on this situation. There will be more debt piled on before this is over. We will need more backstopping to keep our economy from collapsing. We will need fresh funds to replace old economic activities and kick start new activities.

And nobody is fooling themselves that some of our old economic segments are going to bounce back soon. Air travel is not going to suddenly take off. The oil sector is last year. Cars are going electric. Canada needs non-polluting, high-speed electric trains. Our spending will continue.

In this new era, we are not only going to be paying down this hefty mortgage, we are going to have to make sure the payments are a shared responsibility. We need to put back the two per cent Stephen Harper took from our GST. As long as we rebate it to those on a low income and not charge it on food, it is fair.

But we also have to tax the rich more efficiently. There are too many tax loopholes for the wealthy and too much money being hidden off-shore. Canadians have to demand that taxation is fair.

Luckily, nobody need be in a rush to pay. The low cost of borrowing is working for us at this time. We need to remember though that there is no free lunch. Canada is a great country and it is worth every penny it costs us.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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Please do not label me.

July 13th, 2020 by Peter Lowry

While this is not about me, I admit that I do not like being labelled by people who do not know me. It matters not what my racial origin might be. It has no matter how my skin colour might be described. I am not racist. And I am becoming more and more annoyed with those who claim that our society is systemically racist.

I am starting to wonder just who might be the racists here? I can only speak for myself. I was not brought up in a household that defined people by the colour of their skin or their choice of deity. Discovering racism and tribalism as a young person came as a surprise.

And the racism that existed when I was young was open and crude. Few people give vent to their racism today. As a writer, I pay special attention to gender issues, words with racial connotation. Criticism of an individual only deals with actions or words, not their race, religion, sex or sexual orientation.

But I keep hearing from so-called spokespersons for racial groups and I do not like what I am hearing.

We are told, for example, that our Royal Canadian Mounted Police are systemically racist. That is a stupid statement from people who do not seem to understand the meaning of the word ‘systemic.’ The RCMP has more important tasks. I also believe that any words or actions that are determined to be racist from a member should be immediate grounds for dismissal from the force.

If we go back to those times when humans defined each other by their race, we will be the poorer for it. When you define everyone by their race and their actions as racist or not racist, you are falling into the trap of being racist yourself. Is not the very name of the Canadian Black Lives Matter organization racist?

We Canadians have a marvelous advantage. Ours is a land of opportunity for all. The more we live harmoniously with each other, the more we can accomplish. Our country should be a beacon to humanity that says ‘Look at what people from all parts of the world can achieve by working together.’

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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