Trudeau’s Secret Weapon.

August 8th, 2019 by Peter Lowry

You have probably been wondering why prime minister Justin Trudeau is so cheery and ebullient these days. It is probably not just the fact that his pal Gerald Butts is back to back him up in the campaign. Nor is it the pollsters who are saying that the conservatives and liberals are in a statistical tie.

The truth is that he really is facing off in this election against the weakest opposition that any sitting prime minister has ever had to face. And his opposition is split three ways.

The least of his worries is the green party. In the long run, these people would be allies in protecting the environment. With a potential of three or four seats for the greens in parliament, Elizabeth May is probably hoping for a slim minority situation for the liberals. It would give her some bargaining power.

Conversely, the NDP are in a protectionist mode. They have little hope of Jagmeet Singh taking their party anywhere. They need to hang on to a basic 12 seats to be recognized as a party in parliament. The SOS they are sending out is ‘save our seats.’ On election night, they and the Bloc Québécois could become the forgotten in Quebec. It is likely to not be known if they held on to their party status until the counts start coming in from British Columbia.

This leaves Justin Trudeau with just one party to address. The good news is that the conservatives never expected Andrew ‘Chuckles’ Scheer to even be a serious contender in this election. He was supposed to be holding the fort until the next election when the party could elect a more dynamic leader. What you have is Jason Kenney in Alberta and Doug Ford in Ontario calling the shots for the federal party.

Justin Trudeau’s secret weapon is the leader of the conservatives. What we have right now is Chuckles pleading with the two premiers to stay out of his election. Its an even money bet that says they are unable to do that.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

This is not news.

August 7th, 2019 by Peter Lowry

Reading other blogs can be a sometimes painful mission. You do it to see what others are writing about, to study their style (or lack thereof) and to see what answers they offer. Mind you, after each experience, I come away with the feeling that the social experiment of the Internet is akin to the compost heap I had at the back of my garden.

The good compostable material was rare and you had to help it along with some well rotted materials and the right bugs. Churning it occasionally also helped. Like the Internet, there are good smells and bad smells and you have to deal with them.

But a news medium, the Internet is not. (I will make a small exception for the Internet edition of England’s Guardian. Only because there is no speedy print edition availability on this side of the pond.)

It would probably surprise the Toronto Star, who send me their daily digital edition and newsletters for free, that the price is right. It is their newsletters that I consider more valuable. These are arranged in a linear form that allows me to self-edit and read more of what interests me, without getting trapped in endless trees and missing items of interest.

But who ever told these Internet browser companies that users want their ridiculous versions of news on their opening screens? Thank you, I do not want Microsoft or any other software company determining what is news for me!

Though I do feel badly for the legitimate reporters who have to read the twits from the Twitter King in the White House. Making sense out of that juvenile crap seems like a fate worse than death for a serious reporter.

Just consider yourself lucky you do not have to follow Trump on Facebook. That Internet phenomenon was designed originally to get more college kids sexually active and it never has grown up.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Are parties considering the cost of living?

August 6th, 2019 by Peter Lowry

There might be a problem brewing in the election that the politicians are missing. It is the real cost of living. The problem is that the parties are listening to only one set of experts. These are the economists, the bankers, and the gnomes of the department of finance. Not one of these people can match the insights of one housewife going through the current week’s grocery store advertisements.

I feel that my wife is a far better barometer than any central bank. And I will back her over finance minister Bill Morneau any day.

That was why I checked with her this past week when I heard that the U.S. federal reserve actually dropped the American interest rate. This is normally done to stimulate the country’s economy. I thought at first it indicated that the Fed was following orders from that nincompoop in the White House who wanted to keep a hot U.S. growth rate into next year’s election.

The wife has her own style in these calculations and one learns to shut up and not disturb despite considerable mumbling and the occasional quite unladylike expletives. Through it all, she is compiling lists for various stores and margin notes for stores that will price-match other store’s bargains.

She even broke her own rule at one point this week and told me the price for my favourite steaks. It seems I could only get hamburger and bone-in chicken breasts to barbeque this weekend.

But that is only half the problem that some of our favourite politicians are facing. The facts are that grocery prices are only heading in one direction: up. For people born in the mid 20th century, three dollars for a loaf of bread today, is a serious shock. And why are we paying over three dollars for a litre box of milk?

The point is that seniors today are carrying the brunt of inflation. They only have the government standing between them and the impact of constant inflationary pressures. Nobody should have to wait for the inflationary pressures to push them into a position where the government has to cough up more help.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Chuckles Chooses Cheap.

August 5th, 2019 by Peter Lowry

Conservative leader Andrew ‘Chuckles’ Scheer was not out to look cheap the other day. It was just the effect when he again announced that the conservatives would guarantee Canada’s health care system a three per cent increase per year. It seems that the Trudeau government made a deal recently to go up four per cent next year.

From Chuckles point of view, it was a waste of a good story about our health care and his mother’s kidney transplant. Politicians do not get many opportunities for personal stories to fit in with major announcements. His mother was martyred for the cause and the son was made to look cheap. And the last thing any politician wants is pity.

There was also a strong sense of déjà vu last week, as our prime minister headed to the far north to kick off his election campaign. It was just four years ago when prime minister Stephen Harper headed for Iqaluit, Nunavut, to kick off conservative Leona Aglukkaq’s bid for re-election. This is despite it still being the dog days of summer and nobody was really interested in politics.

But Justin Trudeau is not just a one-trick pony. He came north to help save the environment and protect the wild life. He came north to enlist the Inuit in the cause. In agreement with the Inuit, he announced that two large marine areas are being set aside as protected habitats of northern wildlife. (Only the Inuit can fish and hunt there.)

It is also an opportunity to show Canadians the changing climate of the north. This is the front-line of the war against climate change and the locals are already seeing the drastic affects. Melting permafrost, and disappearing ice shelves are changing the face of the north faster than people to the south realize.

While some see the changing environment of the Arctic as an opportunity to benefit from a year-round North-West Passage, the reality is that the extensive ice melt will have other drastic affects on our coastal cities and low-lying islands.

There is also no question but climate change is high on the lists of concerns of Canadians in this election. It is very hard to argue against there being any degree of climate change when fires are ravaging our forests, centuries-old ice fields are melting and changes are affecting our weather from an expanded tornado season to record breaking heat across Europe.

So, we will have to give Justin Trudeau and his organizers some credit here: They kicked off the election campaign with style and set the challenge for the climate-change deniers. It is going to be a rough and tumble campaign. (And by the way, Leona Aglukkaq lost the election four years ago. We hear, conservative leader Andrew ‘Chuckles’ Scheer has already appointed her to run again.)

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

It started with John D. Rockefeller.

August 4th, 2019 by Peter Lowry

It was John D. Rockefeller in the 1800s who put together Standard Oil of New Jersey and created ‘Big Oil.’ He created the power house that to this day is destroying our environment, launching wars and feeding much of the corruption of North American politics. And it is the same anti-trust laws that were written to bring down Rockefeller that created the Big Oil cartels that buy and sell politicians to do their bidding to-day.

There is no doubt that an astute observer such as writer Linda McQuaig has understood this for a long time. Many of us have wondered by what channels the money is assembled but there is little doubt that politicians such as Jason Kenney in Alberta have no lack of funds to fight the Big Oil battles. Writing in the Toronto Star the other day, Linda asserted that the real foreign meddler in Canadian politics is Big Oil. Hell, these are the people who put Donald Trump in the White House. Buying Alberta or all of Canada is small change.

But the heart break in all of this is the decent people of Alberta who do not understand how they are being betrayed on behalf of Big Oil.

Linda’s specific complaint is that the small amounts of money coming from foreign sources to support the environmentalists in the fight are nothing compared to the monies that Jason Kenney has to fight them. When people such as the Koch brothers of New York, whose Marathon Oil is a big customer for Alberta bitumen from the tar sands, buy a politician, they expect results. They want results from Kenney’s War Room that he has put together to fight the environmentalists.

It would be very interesting to follow the money trail that paid for Jason Kenney to return to Alberta after the conservative loss in the 2015 federal election. It was not in-expensive for him to start out touring the province with his message of ‘Unite the Right.’ He had little problem, but still an expensive campaign, to take over the conservative party. And then it was more expense to challenge Brian Jean to take over the rest of the right. And the people who orchestrated it all are still celebrating at the Petroleum Club.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Trudeau does a Harper.

August 3rd, 2019 by Peter Lowry

There was a strong sense of déjà vu as our prime minister headed to the far north to kick off his election campaign. It was just four years ago when prime minister Stephen Harper headed for Iqaluit, Nunavut, to kick off conservative Leona Aglukkaq’s bid for re-election. This is despite it still being the dog days of summer and nobody was really interested in politics.

But Justin Trudeau is not just a one-trick pony. He came north to help save the environment and protect the wild life. He came north to enlist the Inuit in the cause. In agreement with the Inuit, he announced that two large marine areas are being set aside as protected habitats of northern wildlife. (Only the Inuit can fish and hunt there.)

It is also an opportunity to show Canadians the changing climate of the north. This is the front-line of the war against climate change and the locals are already seeing the drastic affects. Melting permafrost, and disappearing ice shelves are changing the face of the north faster than people to the south realize.

While some see the changing environment of the Arctic as an opportunity to benefit from a year-round North-West Passage, the reality is that the extensive ice melt will have other drastic affects on our coastal cities and low-lying islands.

There is also no question but climate change is high on the lists of concerns of Canadians. It is very hard to argue against there being any degree of climate change when fires are ravaging our forests, centuries-old ice fields are melting and changes are affecting our weather from an expanded tornedo season to record breaking heat across Europe.

So, we will have to give Justin Trudeau and his organizers some credit here: They kicked off the election campaign with style and set the challenge for the climate-change deniers. It is going to be a rough and tumble campaign. (And by the way, Leona Aglukkaq lost the election four years ago. We hear, conservative leader Andrew ‘Chuckles’ Scheer has already appointed her to run again.)

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Canada’s Senate: Still not Democratic.

August 2nd, 2019 by Peter Lowry

Despite having many friends in the Senate over the years and appreciating some of their hard work, there is no justification for such an elitist and undemocratic component to the Canadian parliament. It represents millions of dollars in expense for the Canadian taxpayer over which the taxpayer has no say.

While it might have been seen as a necessary brake on the ambitions of the House of Commons when conceived in the 1860s, it has become more of a drag on legislative proceedings in the modern day. It is as though the Commons does not bother to consider its legislation as carefully, as they can leave parts of it for the Senate to fix.

Surprisingly, in considering this commentary about the Senate, I realized I have never sat through a debate in that chamber. And yet, I will always remember an interminable discussion on drainage ditches that I once sat through in the British House of Lords.

Like the Lords in the United Kingdom, the Senate in Canada is an attempt to preserve the property owners’ say on legislation. It is why the hue and cry went up when it was found that Senator Mike Duffy had listed a holiday cottage in PEI as his permanent residence.

There is no fear of such chicanery today as an elitist committee advises the prime minister as to possible appointments. They are all thoroughly vetted ahead of the appointment.

What might be of more concern is what will happen to this Independent senator’s group (ISG) if the conservatives win the election in October. Observers think the ISG will split into at least three groups of independent elitists. Instead of referring to the Senate as ‘The other place,’ the MPs might just refer to it as ‘The Zoo.’

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Thinking of Election Week on a hot day.

August 1st, 2019 by Peter Lowry

Yes, it is the dog days of summer and nobody is really interested in politics. We understand that. It is not as though the old pros are stymied. They can always come up with a column. The other day, Susan Delacourt of the Toronto Star did the 34th column on Pierre Trudeau’s campaign in 1972 being like his son’s efforts in 2019. You really had to be there to know they were not similar at all.

I expect we are all getting impatient. Enough of the phony campaign folks, let’s get to it. We are eager for insults to be flung, new policies to be postulated, improbable promises to be made. Looking at the campaigns to-date, there has been little to move a vote or voter.

There has actually been more interest the past week in the claim that the election day should be moved to accommodate the Orthodox Jews who have a religious holiday on voting day. I can assure you, as someone who spent a career choosing dates for public events, there is no day in the year not already committed to some religion, some cause, some activity or just a day off because we need one that time of year.

Since I rarely vote on the actual date of an election, I have always thought we should have the voting for an Election Week. If you cannot find a few minutes to go and vote during an Election Week, there is no hope for you. Mind you, we should still have mailed votes, computer votes, proxy votes and any other type of voting to ensure that everyone has their say.

From the view of a campaign manager, life would also be easier. Getting out your vote would take a week but you could sure do a much better job. It used to be that you had to have almost a separate campaign organization for election day. It was an intense effort going from the start of voting in the morning until the polls closed at night and your people had to watch the counts.

As much as five or six days for getting out the vote would be much better than explaining to voters that ‘Yes, they can vote at an advance poll just because they felt like it.’

Election Week would not be as much fun, but it would be much easier to organize.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

The gang that can’t even sell pot.

July 31st, 2019 by Peter Lowry

It is hard to believe that Doug Ford’s gang in Ontario cannot even get a handle on the pot business. Is there no part of government in which they have some expertise? Did the late Toronto mayor Rob Ford fail to pass on some tips in drug marketing to his older brother? The word we are getting from the streets is that the government-controlled pot shops are operating at serious losses while many Ontario buyers are going back to their old street sources.

And the legal shops are failing to compete. It seems that the government has been unaware of the three cardinal rules of retailing. They are location, location and location.

Who can afford to waste money on locking up an ideal location when the license will be drawn by lot? Who can compete when your pricing is controlled, as are your promotion efforts?

But what did you expect when a former cop made all the rules at the federal level and general incompetence is the order of the day at the provincial level?

What can the legal shops do when the illicit vendors are pricing themselves at an average of 40 per cent less than legal marijuana? In some cases, outside of Toronto, there are reports of illegal vendors offering product at about ten per cent of prices by licenced vendors.

And that is just one more problem that this government cannot seem to handle: The facts are that the rest of this province is not the same as Toronto. The premier is so busy fighting old municipal battles in Toronto, that he has no time for the problems elsewhere.

What our governments need to realize is that the legalizing of marijuana was designed to get the market out of the hands of criminals. It is most upsetting to have to report that, in Ontario, the criminals are winning.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Making Canada(?) Great Again.

July 30th, 2019 by Peter Lowry

It is not art. It is campaign literature and it always feels like a race to the lowest common denominator, free from the rules of grammar, where less is more and yet an essential part of the democratic process. After many years of producing better quality campaign literature for political candidates, I have gone out of the business. It never did pay. The problem has always been that the voter knows that most of this material is what we refer to as Consolidated Reports on Approved Propaganda or, known better by its acronym: CRAP.

A piece of this CRAP arrived through the mail the other day from the conservative candidate in my riding. Picked by conservative headquarters to be the party standard bearer in Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte, the gentleman sent me a two-sided, 22cm by 14cm, four-colour card. All it tells me for sure is that he is middle aged, Caucasian and overweight.

It helps that I already know that he has been on Barrie Council as a councillor and he has likely already exceeded his level of competence in that capacity. They have a four-year term on council these days. For him, they should shorten it. Much of what I have seen of him on council did not impress me.

But if we are stupid enough to elect him to replace the last four-year incumbent on the federal circuit, he tells us the he believes “in a strong, positive vision for Canada.” And “It’s time to put our country back on track.” The conservative hero, President Trump of the United States, said that in just four words.

On what must be the back of the card has his picture, without a tie (for the farmers among us). Here he says that he will stand up for us by;

  • Investing in community infrastructure—which the current government has been doing for some time.
  • Supporting our rural communities and farmers—Ever since the riding was gerrymandered to include a rural area, the Tories have been pandering to that vote.
  • Removing the GST from the home energy bill—Interesting only for the reason this is a provincial or municipal bill.
  • Restoring the Lake Simcoe Cleanup Fund—He should talk to the Ontario MPP from our riding before making this promise.

What I miss in this pap is a promise to support his conservative leader Chuckles Scheer. Is he too embarrassed?

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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