A liberal performance.

April 12th, 2021 by Peter Lowry

According to Susan Delacourt of the Toronto Star, Justin Trudeau was invoking the ghosts of liberal past at the weekend policy conference. While I rarely disagree with Ms. Delacourt, those were not spirits to whom Justin was appealing. He needs the living, breathing liberals of past years to come back to the liberal party. Justin’s roughshod treatment of the party has lost it too many experienced and knowledgeable campaigners.

The fact that Justin is attracting a new, younger generation to his liberal lists is one thing. His dumping of the years of experience of the liberals in the senate was not as smart a move. His cancelling membership fees in the party left the party without effective structure or hierarchy. His frequent requests for money are turning off many.

What we have learned about Pierre Trudeau’s son is that he is not his father. Justin is an elitist. He likes to hobnob with the rich and famous. He surrounds himself with like-minded cronies. He is a bit of a control freak. The only reason a few of the resolutions at the convention will be in the coming budget is because these resolutions were included for that reason.

And do not compare the liberal orchestration this past weekend to the problems the opposition conservatives had recently or the NDP had the same weekend. No liberal would dare to challenge the guy with his finger on the switch at Justin Trudeau’s event. And nobody was allowed to ask why Trudeau was continuing to twin the TransMountain pipeline.

It would be like asking when women in the cabinet will be allowed to do their job without running afoul of directions from the prime minister’s office?

The opposition conservatives thought they had contained the problem of social conservatives at their convention but never dreamed that party people would deny that there is a need to protect the environment. The NDP also had their problems this past weekend but that party’s members always like to have something to complain about.

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Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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Requiem for the Beer Store?

April 11th, 2021 by Peter Lowry

It was mentioned yesterday that the Beer Store in Ontario is supposed to be losing money. Well tough cookie! If you follow the bouncing ball of this story, you might be as curious as I, as to how this company can lose money by selling its product: Beer?

All we are told is that the Beer Store, the retail outlet for the brewers in Ontario—you can think of them as the three foreign-owned giants and the 30 or so Ontario craft breweries—are losing money. They claim their Beer Store sales have dropped by 20 per cent.

I think this is one of those situations where we need to follow the money. For example, when I buy a bottle of scotch at the liquor control board, I pay 20 cents deposit on the bottle. If I return that bottle to the Beer Story, they will give me back the 20 cents. The questions remain: Who keeps the money for bottles that do not get returned? Who gets the cash for bottles that can be recycled? You see where this is going do you? We are not getting the full story.

The one conclusion we can make is that the Beer Store is not losing money on the recycling business. It is getting money. It is how it accounts for that money that makes us wonder.

Our next question is about selling beer. Do the breweries sell directly to the liquor control board, grocery stores and restaurants or is it all or partly channeled through Brewers Warehousing Company Ltd. (the legal name of the Beer Store)?

And if there really was a dip in sales through the Beer Store, why have not the excessive price increases in the past year not mitigated that lower sales figure?

It also seems to me that the triumvirate of foreign-owned breweries who really own and run the Beer Store can set both their prices and the prices for the smaller packages at the LCBO and grocery stores. In any other jurisdiction than Ontario, these people would be in court for screwing beer drinkers.

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Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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Recriminations: We have a few.

April 10th, 2021 by Peter Lowry

At finger-pointing time, politics in Canada slips away into a morass of regrets. Wending your way through the reports on the pandemic, you have little to console yourself. We think of our politicians as the bickering class. There has got to be a light somewhere down damn dark tunnel.

What about the promise of science? Is covid-19 that much worse than the Spanish Flu of a century ago? Is it not just facile to lay the blame for this pandemic at the doors of the unprepared politicians?

Is it really a race between new strains of covid and vaccinating the population? When does herd immunity kick in?

I would rather be at a casino, showing off my expertise at the game of Blackjack. Yah, that is what I miss the most. I could kid you that I would rather be down in Toronto in that concrete convertible where the Blue Jays play. Quite honestly, I would not waste my time with that between-seasons bilge by sports writers who think they are talking about something important. Baseball is a game for a sunny summer afternoon and gentle breeze, with the roar of the crowd drowning out the vendors with their wares.

And by the way, save some crocodile tears for Ontario’s no longer omnipotent Beer Stores. Did you know that the Ford conservatives have slipped them a mickey while everybody thought they were fighting the pandemic? We now have beer and other booze on off-sale from our bars and restaurants. That is in addition to the beer and wines in the grocery stores. Mind you, you still have to go to the liquor control board stores to get any decent French wines at half-way reasonable prices. If I am going to pickle my liver in alcohol, it will be with something fit to drink.

They tell us now that the Beer Store lost $50 million last year. At what? The Beer Store are the poorest merchandisers in the province. They are dedicated to beer and have no clue of how to find an attractive way to sell it. I like to think of my local beer shoppes as recycle places that will conveniently sell you some beer when you take the time to drop off your empties.

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Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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Is it news or gossip?

April 9th, 2021 by Peter Lowry

It is a puzzle sometimes. You look to the news media to keep you abreast of politics across Canada. The question you need to ask about the so-called political news is it news or just gossip? It is discouraging to think of some of our favourite pundits of the press as gossip mongers.

What stirred this thought was articles (two days in a row!) in the Toronto Star complaining about Annamie Paul’s experience in her first six months as leader of the green party ranks. And, as is the Star’s custom, Ms. Paul’s race, religion and sex are pitted against the supposedly white-male dominance of the party organization.

When she first won the green party leadership, Ms. Paul reminded me of the bad jokes about Sammy Davis Jr. during his career. In today’s brittle race relations atmosphere, there are no jokes and there should be no recriminations. Her campaign manager was out of line to complain openly. It was amateur of him to complain to the news media. He has burnt his boats with the party.

And if you do not want to “paint this organization as overtly racist,” why would you say it?

Mind you, it is hard to imagine a competent campaign manager who would advise Paul to throw herself on the pyre by deciding to run in the Toronto Centre byelection. It was never her race to win. I can think of at least seven ridings in the Toronto area where she would have had a much better chance. There are also some conservative-held electoral districts where the sitting members need to be challenged on their lack of environmental concern.

Previous green leader Elizabeth May never made it secret that the green party was a difficult party to run. It is badly organized and run by too many prima donnas. The current ambition of the party is to get enough members elected to become a recognized party. Then, they would be able to hire some decent research staff.

The party has an ongoing problem with its rank and file taking some very bad stands on non-green issues.

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Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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Carney: A politician in the making?

April 8th, 2021 by Peter Lowry

So far, the speculation about Canadian Mark Carney’s future has been left to the news media. After all, what is left to do when you have been Governor of both the Bank of Canada and the Bank of England? The news media are picking politics for Carney. Judging by the book that he just had published, the pundits need to do some heavy reading before passing on that judgement.

With degrees in economics from both Harvard and Oxford, you can understand why Carney could keep pointing out to the Brits that they are going to be sorry for Brexit. Their sloppy, ill-advised and over-extended negotiations with the European Union of their exit practically guaranteed their regrets.

And with his new job in the private sector and his role in the upcoming climate conference (COP 26) in Glasgow this November, Carney really has little time for Canadian politics.

That being said, he does have much to contribute. This is an economist who has a very clear understanding of the problems related to the concentration of capital in too few hands. One of his academic theses at Oxford was on the need for business to have competition. He is hardly your usual picture of a conservative banker.

Personally, I am going to wait until I hear what he has to say tonight at the liberal policy conference. The question really is whether he can put his ideas in a political context.

And, until he makes whatever decision on politics, he is dabbling his feet in the private sector with a cushy job at Brookfield Asset Management as vice-chairman and he is also a director of Stripe, the American-Irish payment processing company.

It will be very important to see how what he says tonight stacks up along with finance minister Chrystia Freeland’s first federal budget later this month.

Politics is getting interesting again!

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Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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A few fools foul race relations.

April 7th, 2021 by Peter Lowry

It is outrageous to hear that there are increased incidences of racial hatred in our Canada. It is, admittedly, a time of serious stresses on our society, but I can imagine no rationale for a deterioration in race relations.

From where I grew up in Toronto, the worst fault you could find of your neighbour was that he or she might vote conservative. The colour of their skin or their ethnic origin was as complex as our country and we learned from it.

Did you know that Canada has been welcoming Sikhs as immigrants since the late 1800s when some government official thought it was important to start to count the Singhs and Kaurs coming to our ocean ports.

Many black Canadians had ancestors here before Canada’s confederation. And it was the hard work of many Chinese who helped build our first trans-Canada railroad.

You might think this is all good pickings for a bigot but I think a true bigot would be tired by the end of a day in this country. Because we are the sum of our peoples.

And if you want to be a bigot, do not do it in front of me. A bigot is basically a coward. They fear what they do not understand. And there is much they do not seem to understand.

Bigotry often appears to be built on a misguided religious background. The former president of the United States, Donald Trump set the scene. He blamed the Chinese for the pandemic and Muslims for the strife in the Middle East. He tried to build a border wall against Mexico and Central America. He was your classic bigot. And his piety was as phony as a three-dollar bill.

What worries me is that much of the bigotry is rooted in the born-again Christians. These people who find religion late in life seem more receptive of the bigotry du jour. They seem to need a steering mechanism in their life and make some very bad choices.

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Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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Trudeau building bridges in Quebec.

April 6th, 2021 by Peter Lowry

It is rare that prime minister Justin Trudeau would be considered best friends with Quebec premier François Legault. It is just that timing is everything in politics. If Trudeau’s liberals want to take back a majority in an election later this year, they have to maximize their seats in Quebec. And it looks like, the Legault’s Coalition Avenir Québec, which is a little bit separatist and a little bit right wing can learn to live with the Trudeau liberals.

According to Radio Canada, out of Quebec, the two BFFs are on a first name basis and enjoying making joint announcements of government largess. The first of these was an announcement of government support for electric vehicle production in Saint-Jérôme, Quebec. The second announcement was made in Trois-Rivières, Quebec and announced providing federal funds for the expansion of high-speed Internet in the province. Both projects are also on the agenda for the Legault government.

The Bloc Québécois leader, Yves-François Blanchet, back in Ottawa, considered both announcements to be of benefit to Quebec. He therefore claimed that both initiatives are because of the pressure brought on in Ottawa by the Bloc MPs. He did not speculate about what the announcements might cost the Bloc in terms of seats in the coming federal election.

The real loss will be felt by the federal conservative party. On top of the recent refusal of members of the party to support leader Erin O’Toole’s policy that climate change is a real problem will help ensure that there are no conservative gains likely in that province. It is also likely to limit the possible gains in neighbouring Ontario.

The only other thing that might help the federal conservatives in Ontario would be the dispatch of premier Doug Ford during the election on a trade mission to some country deep in the Himalayan Mountains.

And as to a date for that federal election, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh made a frustrated comment on the West Block the other day. “He (Trudeau) can call the election any time he wants,” he said ruefully.

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Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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Canute-like Kenney confronts Canadians.

April 5th, 2021 by Peter Lowry

In the supposedly moralistic story of King Canute of the North Sea Empire, Canute was demonstrating that even a king could not control the tides. It is somewhat strange that premier Jason Kenney of Alberta never paid attention to this story when in grade school. Instead, Kenney challenges the facts of a pandemic, challenges the rulings of the strongest nation on earth and blames others for the results when he fails.

Kenney is the child who keeps calling ‘wolf.’ He is the child of Canadian politics who keeps blaming prime minister Trudeau for his failures. He loses billions of his taxpayers’ money on failed pipelines. He fails his voters by failing to recognize reality. He fails them in not managing their money. He fails them by not recognizing the seriousness of the pandemic. He is a climate change denier.

Kenney locks Alberta in the arms of the tar sands exploiters. These are mainly foreign investors who want the maximum return for their investments in the tar sands. They care not for the thousands of acres of settling ponds that mar the fertile lands of Alberta. They care not for the thousands of depleted oil wells that still dot the landscape of the province. They care not for the larger amounts of greenhouse gases released by their ersatz tar sands oil.

And they hardly give a damn for the people of Alberta. Premier Jason Kenney is their instrument. They fund him. They direct him. They use him.

And they laugh when he challenges the new president of the republic to the south. Joe Biden has said there will be no Keystone XL pipeline bisecting the United States of America. President Biden has said it is not needed. He is hardly responsible for the economy of Alberta.

What is obvious to all is that Jason Kenney is not doing the job he promised Albertans he would do. He has failed to deliver. He has been deceitful in his handling of the pandemic. He has failed to be responsible about climate change. He has failed to bring a reasonable level of diversification to the Alberta economy. He has failed to adjust the tax base of Alberta to the real needs. Kenney is a failed politician.

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Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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Locked down or locked up?

April 4th, 2021 by Peter Lowry

It feels like being kept after school because some one else broke the rules. It feels like a piling on of detentions. Now premier Doug Ford has added another four weeks of lock-down for the entire damn province. It never would have happened if the jerk had known what to do in the first place. Why have we been listening to that blowhard?

Covid-19 is killing more people in Ontario every day. The government is putting temporary wards in army tents in hospital parking lots. We have already killed close to 8000 people. Would you not just love to introduce those covid-19 deniers to some of the dead we have not had time to cremate yet?

But this pandemic has already frightened enough people. We grumble but we put on the masks. We try to maintain safe distance from others. It is the young people who think they are invincible. The older ones are just scared. Even those of us who had that first vaccine shot are worried about when we can have the booster? Who told Ford that we can wait four months for it?

Would you not like to nail former prime minister Mulroney to a fence post for allowing Connaught Labs to be sold to the Pasteur people in France? Now Canadian governments are paying Pasteur millions to bring production of vaccines back to Canada. It will sure make a big difference if and when we get another pandemic. Next time, maybe we will put our own people first.

What is particularly infuriating is that premier Ford says he is listening to the experts but the news media always come up with experts with differing opinions. Maybe Mr. Ford needs better experts. Maybe Mr. Ford is part of the problem. People seem tired of his announcements that he is going to have an announcement and then the announcement is not going to come into effect for a few days.

Most of Ontario is tired of Mr. Ford’s bombast. If we are going to come through this pandemic, we certainly need better leadership.

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Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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The boy from Flemingdon Park.

April 3rd, 2021 by Peter Lowry

Flemington Park in Toronto is not a prestige address. I watched the area grow over the years. It was never much in the way of architectural creativity. It was rabbits’ warrens of apartment buildings, second rate office buildings and a small strip plaza. It is in the area just north of where Don Mills Road and the Don Valley Parkway dip into the Don River valley. It is in Don Valley East electoral district. I mention this because it is currently represented provincially by MPP Michael Coteau, He grew up in Flemington Park.

I like this guy. If the last Ontario liberal leadership convention had been based on every liberal having a vote, he would likely have won. He came second to Steven Del Duca. Coteau is the kind of politician who thinks of his constituents’ needs. He spent three terms as a highly productive member of the Toronto District School Board before progressing to Queen’s Park. He has been in the Ontario Legislature for the past ten years. He was one of seven liberals to survive the Wynne rout.

Michael held five very active portfolios during his time in the Wynne cabinet. He is the kind of guy who gets the job done.

I knew about Michael before I met him. When he was running for the Ontario liberal leadership, I met him at a luncheon in Orillia, he spoke at length, He spoke well. No question was too tough. He even impressed some locals who were just having lunch.

Michael likes challenges. He has decided to take on the federal scene by running for the open nomination in the federal electoral district of Don Valley East. He is hardly the only liberal wanting to take on the challenge.

I think he is a good bet to win the riding. The voters know him and trust him.

I do not think the liberals in Don Valley East could do better.

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Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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