“Nice suits and empty slogans.”

October 7th, 2017 by Peter Lowry

That comment about suits and slogans was in the last line of the Toronto Star’s pompous editorial on “The challenge for Singh.” The newspaper editorialists want Singh and Trudeau to square off on progressive policy issues in the 2019 federal election. Lot’s of luck on that!

But the problem is that the Star writers think that Jagmeet Singh was selected by the New Democratic Party. That is a mistaken belief. The Ontario MPP was the choice of the Sikh community across Canada. Canada has been welcoming Sikhs to this country since the earliest government records were kept back in the 1800s. StatsCanada tells us there are more than 275,000 adherents to Sikhism in Canada today and the largest numbers are in British Columbia. For the Brampton MPP to sign up over 40,000 Sikhs in a few months was not a very difficult feat.

But why he would want to win the NDP leadership the same way as that putz Patrick Brown took over the Tory leadership in Ontario makes no sense.

As the new leader of the NDP, Singh’s first job is to make nice with the NDP caucus in Ottawa and then he has to get out to small town Canada and prove to Canadians that he and his party have a vision of this country that can be delivered by a guy in a turban.

And it also might be a good idea for Singh to stop dressing as though he is some sort of playboy. He should change from Harry Rosen bespoke suits to buying his clothes at Mark’s Work Warehouse. He needs to show that he is an NDPer, not a Liberal.

When he gets around to working out a program of NDP policies for the coming election, he can forget wrapping the packages in “love and courage.” Whatever theme his brain trust comes up with, it has got to have a lot more bite to it.

‘Chuckles’ Scheer and his Conservatives are all smiles these days because of the vision of Trudeau and Singh in the coming election beating each other up over the same ridings in the greater Toronto and Vancouver areas.

But I got the impression that the Star’s editorial writers might never have seen Jagmeet Singh MPP in inaction at the legislature in Toronto’s Queen’s Park. He is no Benjamin Disraeli.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

“What to my wondering eyes should appear…”

October 6th, 2017 by Peter Lowry

Christmas was in in October this year. The wife needed some parmesan cheese for our spaghetti dinner and insisted I stop at the local Metro grocery store. I went in with her, mainly because I always enjoy that store. It is expensive but it is well run and I often find a bargain at the meat counters. While the wife went to get her one item (which, as usual, became ten), I checked out the meats and then did a quick circuit of the store. And then I found it. My Metro has beer and wine. Christmas came early this year.

Premier Kathleen Wynne, all is forgiven. You must have known how much I hate those squalid Beer Stores. I thought Barrie was going to be the last municipality in Ontario to be allowed to have beer and wine in the grocery stores. And yet here we have beer and wine in a store in Patrick Brown’s new electoral district. Maybe that political putz will try to take credit for it.

But what can I do for you Madame Premier? I figure I owe you. I could rejoin the local riding association but I have been phoning and texting your party office in Toronto and I cannot get any response. The name I have for the local provincial party president does not exist in the riding area. Liberals in this part of Barrie have no contact, no activity and the current MPP for Barrie ignores this part of her former riding.

But this is meant to be a positive comment. Metro stores know how to merchandise and they have given beer and wine a nice section of the store with good signage and it is hard to miss. It still needs refrigeration for the beer but I am sure a well-run store like my Metro will fix that soon.

And I almost forgot. Metro gives Air Miles. I often use them to get groceries at Metro. I seem to get all my Air Miles today at the LCBO and at Metro. That is something the stupid Beer Store does not do. Those people do not even know how to merchandise. They spend more time with smelly recycling than selling beer properly.

But with Metro selling beer now, all might be forgiven. Mind you, Ms. Wynne could get the $15 minimum wage promise in place a lot faster.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

It is time to fire Bill Morneau, Justin.

October 5th, 2017 by Peter Lowry

Bill Morneau has a straight-forward job. As complex as the Finance Department might appear to the average Canadian, the Member of Parliament for Toronto Centre has the credentials that say he should be capable of handling the finance portfolio. He is also considered to be a generally good guy. It is really too bad that Prime Minister Trudeau needs to fire him.

But Mr. Morneau does not appear to be getting the best efforts from his department. He does not appear to be effective in selling his department’s new programs. Maybe the job requires someone more political by nature. And when you are not even effective in communicating with your party’s back bench, all is lost.

This is not to suggest that the tax reforms Morneau is proposing are not complex and need thorough debate. And that was the intent when the reforms were proposed two months ago. All this accomplished is an opportunity for those who fight any reform to go after these reforms with renewed vigor. They have been sewing discord and confusion. They have deliberately misled Canadians with false information.

This time frame has allowed Conservative MPs to rail constantly against the tax reforms. A local Tory MP published an opinion piece in our local Sun rag the other day saying that Justin Trudeau and Bill Morneau believe that small business owners “are tax cheats and that they are rich people abusing the system to avoid paying their share of taxes.” Talk about false news!

The Conservative caucus in Ottawa under Leader ‘Chuckles’ Scheer is saying that the reforms are going to impact all small business owners and will mean a massive tax hike. This obviously comes as a surprise to Morneau when all he is looking for it to do is close some of the loopholes that have been enabling the wealthy among us to escape paying taxes.

Here Morneau thought he was closing loopholes that benefitted people making over $150,000 a year and the Conservatives are claiming these people are part of the middle class. If he cannot get the justice of his reforms across to Canadians, he is obviously in the wrong cabinet portfolio.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Netflix should be told to “Get Stuffed.”

October 4th, 2017 by Peter Lowry

Canada’s heritage minister needs a better understanding of Canada’s heritage. Another of the junior grade ministers in the Trudeau cabinet, Mélanie Joly, defended Netflix last week. It was a betrayal of Canadian actors, production capabilities and our French-speaking citizens as well as a allowing a leach to defy Canadian broadcast and tax rules.

Joly welcomed Netflix’s promise of spending $500,000 over the next five years. The problem with the promise is that if Netflix is really reaching the estimated audience it is purported to have in Canada, the $100,000 per year is just small change.

The ridiculous part of Netflix is that even if it only costs $10 per month, you are paying much more for the bandwidth of your Internet service to provide decent streaming video.

And what do you really get for your $10? Every time I examine Netflix for content of interest, I find little to recommend it. Friends who use it tell me that the first season of “The Crown” was absolutely excellent. That is all very nice for the few monarchists among us who believe in the travesty of royals.

There was some amusement among those who had seen the original “House of Cards” which was British. They say the American model is not quite as good. The wife and I are watching the American product now on commercial television and I find I appreciate the political manipulation techniques the show displays, while the wife is bored by that aspect.

But the more serious problem are the few people who like the French-language “Marseilles” which was made for the market in France. Quebec-based reviewers are turning up their noses.

Maybe people are caught up by the novelty of Netflix but dollar for dollar, we are getting far more bang for our loonie from the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. The Corp gives us believable news, great sports and original Canadian programming. How can you expect anything from Netflix?

And even if there are two or three good shows among the dross offered by Netflix, it does not make sense in a world used to commercial television. The picture quality is still not there. And let’s face it, without commercials, when do you know when it is time to go to the bathroom?

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Americans bomb Bombardier.

October 3rd, 2017 by Peter Lowry

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard and the prime ministers of both the United Kingdom and Canada are furious and have spoken out angrily about the proposed 219.6 per cent duty on Bombardier planes purchased by Delta Airlines. This is a direct and brutal attack on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and on the very existence of an aircraft industry anywhere other than in the United States.

Mr. Trump has found a way to make America great again—all he thinks he has to do is beggar his neighbours.

With the completion last Wednesday of the Ottawa round of NAFTA negotiations, it is now obvious that the Americans are not bargaining in good faith. They have laid out no expectations for the more contentious issues. While publicly stating that the 62.5 per cent American content on automoniles is not good enough, there does not seem to have been information received by Canada or Mexico on a way to increase American content, or if it is even possible under NAFTA.

It is the same problem with Canada’s supply management in agriculture. Without some indication as to what they want, Canadians are left with President Trump’s ranting about milk and cheese. The problem is that Mr. Trump is totally ignorant about Canada’s approach to this and his NAFTA negotiators seem to have no direction.

It is obvious that the American negotiators were blind-sided by the Bombardier ruling as much the Canadians. It is hardly a simple duty charge when you increase the purchase price by as much as three times. It is as much to say as ‘Get out and stay out.’ Why the American negotiators did not go back to Washington and resign does not speak well for their moral fibre.

Mind you, the Canadian and Mexican negotiators and their political bosses share the problem. The serious question is can diplomacy work when you are dealing with an blow-hard such as President Trump. He does not speak ‘diplomacy.’ The only language Mr. Trump seems to understand are the spread sheets of the financial managers who did the funding of his grandiose development projects.

If I were in Justin Trudeau’s or Chrystia Freeland’s shoes, I would go to New York and talk to bankers who funded some of Trump’s better projects. They might learn how to communicate with the son of a bitch.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

The problem for political pundits.

October 2nd, 2017 by Peter Lowry

While waiting to hear the New Democratic Party leadership tallies yesterday, I was reading what Mainstreet Technology’s Quito Magi had to say about the race. Having worked with Quito in the past, I have often had the feeling that he should forego all this technology and make an arrangement with a healthy young groundhog, to help him with his political forecasts.

To his obvious embarrassment, I once got Quito to pay off an election bet in front of witnesses. He had all his company’s automated telephone calls responses and analysis and all I had was some doors I had knocked on with the candidate. We both agreed that our candidate would win easily but Quito made a rookie mistake about the fringe candidates in the race. When I gave him an estimate of their vote, he bet I was wrong. It cost him ten bucks.

And if he had checked with me recently, I could have saved him some embarrassment on forecasting that it could take three ballots for MPP Jagmeet Singh to win the federal NDP leadership. That was an interesting scenario he forecast but it showed a lack of experience with the Sikh communities in Canada. When Sikh voters offer their support for a candidate, they usually prove to be more reliable than the average voter.

The member of the Ontario Legislature had swamped the membership of the NDP with about 47,000 new sign-ups, mainly among the Sikh communities across Canada. It resulted in more than 35,000 winning votes to a combined total vote for his three opponents of just over 30,000.

It was particularly important once the results were announced on Sunday, to see the Ontario MPP go into full political mode to try to repair some of the disappointment of his opponents and their supporters. MP Charlie Angus looked particularly pained by his showing. He really thought he could do better than 12,700 votes. MP Niki Ashton was about 1400 votes behind and MP Guy Caron came last at just over 6100 votes.

The results of this race speak volumes about the state of politics in Canada. It is cynical and sad that people so disrespect our political process that they will attempt to crush opposition to the honours and position they think they deserve by mass sign ups of groups of ethnic supporters.

This was not a contest of ideas and suitability to the task ahead. This is the decision of a single community—a single ethnic group. Singh offered no new ideas, no new style of leadership. He was the choice of his own community. It was not a win for Canada.

Maybe we are heading down a similar antidemocratic path as our American neighbours.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

It will be news when Trump says it is.

October 1st, 2017 by Peter Lowry

For the longest time, Americans have been struggling with the concept of ‘Fake News.’ Is it fake if Donald Trump says it is fake? Or is it fake because Donald Trump says it? And if you are puzzled by the nuance between those two questions, you have a problem.

In fact, it is more of a moral disaster. It is something like the first time you heard him talk about ‘Corrupt Hillary.’ You were not sure you heard right. You waited to hear him explain what he was talking about. You waited to hear him offer some proof. It was a description of his opponent that he was unqualified to make. The arrogant bastard believed it.

And Trump’s claque loved it. They did not just believe but they wanted to believe. And in the dying days of that awful election campaign, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation as much as said it was true—and it pushed the election over the edge for Trump. It was the most egregious harm ever done to a major political candidate in a democratic nation.

It is the realization that Donald Trump does not care what he says that is the most awful revelation. This man is sitting in the most powerful office in the world and he keeps testing its limits. With a majority in both houses of the Congress, he is getting the strongest blowback from his own party.

He is a child-man who sets his own agenda. He ignores what he cannot influence. He ignores the needs of hurricane damaged American cities until forced to go “look” at the problems. The racist pointedly ignores 3.5 million Americans in Puerto Rico who were in the path of disaster.

This is a man who needs constant reassurance. He uses election rallies even after his election to bolster his ego. He can tell these people anything and they cheer him on. He hires people to tell him what to do and he regularly ignores them. He goes to the United Nations and spews hatred. He is a racist who builds walls against people.

Trump fails to understand that fair trade with other countries means a give and take. He thinks it is the tough guy who wins.

The good news in all of this is that Americans are tiring of Trump. They are tired of his antics, his bigotry, his childishness, his ignorance, his misogyny his narcissism, his racism and his tantrums. And the best news is that many people who supported him in 2016 are now hedging their bets. Mr. Trump is going to be a one term phenomenon—if we can just be patient.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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Toronto’s Tory talks the talk.

September 30th, 2017 by Peter Lowry

It was Doug Ford’s challenge. He actually asked Toronto Mayor John Tory to rename Etobicoke’s Centennial Stadium after his late brother Rob. It is very hard to say whether Tory—considering that Doug Ford says he will challenge him for the mayoralty next year—was baiting a trap or just proving Ford is an egotistical ass.

Now the question is whether the Toronto mayor is serious in supporting the idea of renaming the stadium or is just leading likely opponent Doug Ford down the garden path?

It was interesting when the younger Ford brother, who has less than half the political instincts of his late brother, actually belittled the stadium when asking for its renaming. He said it was a small stadium, without a name, that just happened to be located in Centennial Park.

Ford made the plea that it was in this small stadium in Centennial Park where Rob Ford used to play football and even coached there. Whether he used to smoke crack cocaine or meet with gangs there did not come up.

Mayor Tory wisely mentioned a couple of other deceased councillors who might also be recognized in this way, should there be a suitable civic facility to be named.

In his letter to city council members, Tory mentioned former Mayor Rob Ford’s “unique approach to public service.”  It is statements such as that that Mayor Tory might make us wonder how serious the mayor might be?

We should bear in mind that the one term of Rob Ford in the mayor’s office was one of the most tumultuous periods in the history of Toronto politics. If you were honouring the notoriety that he brought to Toronto, council should use his name for Toronto City Hall.

But I, for one, take considerable exception with the practice these days of selling and reselling names for stadiums, arenas, parks and theatres. It is not only crass and vulgar but should hardly be a matter for the mayor of the city to be touting. To me, the Blue Jays are still playing baseball at SkyDome, the O’Keefe Centre is on Front Street and Maple Leaf Gardens is a shrine to hockey. What is your price to dishonour the past?

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Use child psychology on Mr. Trump.

September 29th, 2017 by Peter Lowry

This is a bit of advice for our world leaders. It is very simple. It is not even difficult. It is the realization that we have been mishandling the president of the United States. We have been erroneously treating him as an adult. He does not seem to want to be treated as an adult.

We will leave the pinning down of the exact age to the people with the advanced degrees but we expect that Mr. Trump has an emotional age of somewhere between 6 and 12. Mind you, in his relationships with women, it is doubtful that he has even been weaned yet.

But it came to us the other day when the gentleman in question was flaming tweets at the National Football League. It was beyond the president’s comprehension that an athlete might have a better way to respect the American national anthem. Kneeling seems to be a very devout way to recognize the importance of the anthem. And yet, our so very patriotic Mr. Trump gets into a tantrum about it. He wants those athletes fired.

Team owners—whom those same athletes make filthy rich—are not about to fire them. Some of those guys are going out and showing solidarity with their athletes. There are also those joining in on the juvenile practice of tweeting back at the president.

The athletes caught in the middle are the Pittsburgh Penguins. Since they are a hockey team made up mainly of Canadians, they cannot be seen to disrespect the American anthem. And kneeling on ice is not a good idea anyway. Besides, the team captain, Sid Crosby, a Canadian, has been hit on the head too often this past season and had to promise to stay out of fights.

That is why Sid and the boys are being invited to go to the White House to have a play date with Donnie Trump.

The mistake that Mr. Trump has been making is that he has failed to have his little friend, Kim Jong Un in North Korea, over for a play date. The two of them could spend some happy time together comparing the size and power of of their rockets.

It could give an entirely new meaning and scope to foreign relations.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Singh misreads Canadian acceptance.

September 28th, 2017 by Peter Lowry

Ontario MPP Jagmeet Singh is heading for some disappointment. It would really be better if he faced it this weekend instead of in the next federal election. As the obvious frontrunner in the announcement this weekend of the first vote in the New Democratic Party leadership race, it would be better if he did not win.

As much as Singh might believe in the easy acceptance by Canadians of Sikhs in their society, they are not about to make a turbaned Sikh politician prime minister.

And there is very little or no bigotry involved. Canadians would also not be likely to vote for a Muslim woman in a burka, nor a Jewish Hasidic, nor a Mennonite prepared to take horse and buggy to Ottawa, nor an ordained Catholic priest in vestments, nor an aboriginal holy person in tribal costume. You simply cannot put any of the values attributed to those various religious statements ahead of the neutrality of the office of prime minister. The prime minister represents everybody.

Canadians want to be very accepting, tolerant and welcoming people. They take pride in the mix of their society, yet do not intermix very much in social relations.

It always amused me that back in the days when I looked after media relations for the Liberal Party in Toronto that I would routinely look after contacting the ethnic media for meet-and-greets with party leaders. Yet, when it came to appointing someone to a paid position, it had to be someone with a more ethnic-sounding name.

It is the ethnic strength of the constant growth and change in Canada that is helping to destroy the nature of our political parties. There is nothing new to the wholesale enrolling of an ethnic group to support this or that cause or this or that politician. It has served to both build and destroy causes and people.

Patrick Brown swamped the Progressive Conservative membership in Ontario by signing up and paying for Hindu, Sikh and Muslim groups from the Indian sub-continent. Jagmeet Singh did not even have to pay for the Sikh communities across Canada who delighted in buying more than 40,000 New Democratic memberships. All that means is that, if he is leader of the New Democrats, he will do well in a couple ridings in Montreal, in the greater Toronto area and around Vancouver in B.C. He needs to realize that all he can win is a mirage.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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