A note to a busy Joe Biden.

November 9th, 2020 by Peter Lowry

It was an impressive speech the other night from Delaware. It was the right tone to take with the Trump supporters.  You offered them the olive branch and left it to them to accept. It was a class act.

No doubt, you have a lengthy ‘to-do’ list already but many Canadians want you to know that it will be okay with us if you want to put an end to the Keystone XL pipeline controversy. Yes, we are well aware that our government will be pressuring you to let the pipeline be completed but that is just an act. Our prime minister Justin Trudeau is just trying to mollify the schmuck who is premier of Alberta. The premier there is spending $1.5 billion of Alberta taxpayers’ money to get that pipeline to the U.S. border. From there it runs down to the Texas gulf ports for shipping that highly polluting, poor quality bitumen to Europe and Asia.

Your American refineries do not need Canadian bitumen from the tar sands. Refineries only take that stuff when it is discounted well below crude oil. Anybody with any concern for the environment refuses to have anything to do with the stuff.

Besides, with fracking, the Unites States is self sufficient in oil for many years to come. And the bitumen your refineries can get from Venezuela is of far better quality and cheaper to refine into ersatz crude, than the bitumen you can get from Canada.

We appreciate that you would like to do that nice prime minister of ours a favour but he really has a different problem. We have a lot of people out in Alberta who would rather keep polluting the environment than paying taxes like real Canadians. They are like Donald Trump supporters and they think that their premier is going to make life easier for them.

Think of it this way: you can help Justin Trudeau to be a better environmentalist by telling him where to stick his Keystone XL pipeline.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

To listen and to learn in Ottawa.

November 8th, 2020 by Peter Lowry

Yesterday it was noted how quiet the Ottawa scene has been while history is made in America.

But we ignore Ottawa at our peril. You have to listen to buzz in the quiet. There is the testiness of the conservative caucus—planning for the partisan attacks to come. There is the disquiet of the new democrats hoping to build a new future. There is the hope for new leadership and new challenges among the greens. And the bloc MPs share their hopes for a future, no sitting bloc member can expect to see.

It is the nervous energy of the liberal caucus that spins Canada’s immediate future. Do they sit quietly in the balcony watching the high jinks of the country below or is there serious thought of the road ahead for their party, their leadership and their country??

Do they realize the crossroads where their country is at? Do they see the changes that move like the world’s tectonic plates?

Do they see the damage that Justin Trudeau has done to the once-strong liberal party? Is the liberal list of registered liberals just Trudeau’s handy ATM? And whose electoral district do you represent? Is it your riding, or Justin’s?

As a member of parliament, who do you represent? Is it the riding or the liberal party? Who do you speak for in parliament? Your political masters in the PMO? Or Canadians? And are you financially independent for the next election? Are you allowed to think or are you just a rubber stamp for the PMO?

And speaking of the PMO, is that collection of sycophants capable of keeping the prime minister out of trouble? Do you realize the naiveté of your leader? He learned so little at his father’s knee.

So, let’s give a passing thought to our MP’s. We will soon be seeing them at the hustings.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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In the silence of Ottawa.

November 7th, 2020 by Peter Lowry

Our not too silent members of parliament have hardly been ignoring what has been going on south of the border. They are as enthralled as the rest of us with the ups and downs of the political drama unfolding. They have reason to be concerned about the impact of trends in the U.S. on Canadian voters.

The intensity of the polarization of voters in the U.S. has probably caused Canadian politicians the most concern. The question is will Canadian voters polarize in the same way? I doubt it. There are always some Canadians who follow the American trends but there continue to be differences.

The first difference is in immigration. Canada continues to increase its immigration. While there are always those who foolishly resent these new Canadians, the truth is that immigrants contribute to our economic growth. And the current plan is to increase immigration to 400,000 per year for the next three years. These numbers will help accelerate our economic recovery from the pandemic.

The second difference is in religion. That might be questionable to some people but the trends in the U.S. and Canada diverge on religion. The first factor is in Quebec. The trend away from the Catholic faith has now covered a large share of the Quebec population. Attitudes on abortion and same-sex marriage have moved the province into being a secular society more so than the western provinces. The most populous province, Ontario is close behind Quebec in becoming more secular.

While there is a great deal of hypocrisy about religion in the United States, there is no denying the influence religion has on the political divide in the country. There is also a greater sense of hopelessness among some of the demographics in the U.S. than there are in Canada.

We always had this feeling when visiting our American friends that the national moto there should be changed from “In God We Trust” to “It ain’t my responsibility.”

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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It will never be the same America.

November 6th, 2020 by Peter Lowry

Mother was born in Milwaukee, grew up in Chicago and then married a Canadian. It made Chicago a special place, as children, where we visited fun relatives. Two of my brothers now live in the United States. I have always felt at home in both countries.

But no longer. We have Donald Trump to thank for that. He polarized America. He divided the nation. He promoted hate. That compulsive liar built a layer of thousands of lies around the American presidency. More than a century of trust and friendly relations between our countries were blown away as with the wind. Not only Canada, but the entire world, has now seen the dark side of America.

Donald Trump is a traitor to America’s friends and succor to its enemies.

And the unguarded border between our countries stands empty and without tourists while the pandemic ravages virtually unchecked throughout America. Each state fights the pandemic battle in isolation.

We have had four years of president Trump and his friends. We know their greed. We know their disrespect for our environment. We know of their disregard for treaties and their selfishness in trade with nations.

Will and does America want to rebuild the honours it won in two world wars? Will it ever restore the respect for its fairness and willingness to help its friends? Can the white house be restored as a beacon to the world of democracy?

Four years of slurs, failures, unreasoned meanness and pettiness have been more than enough to leave the world wary and deeply concerned.

America does not dwell in this world in isolation. The rest of the world shares with the United States of America concern for the pollution of the polar regions, the melting of the ice, the deaths of animal, fish and bird species and the threats to the liveability of our planet.

We all share a growing concern for our existence as a species.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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Colour coding Doug Ford.

November 5th, 2020 by Peter Lowry

A month ago, Ontario premier Doug Ford turned thumbs down on colour coding the severity of the pandemic. Now he tells us the doctors have talked him into doing it. In among the much more interesting American election news the other evening there was an item about the new color coding.

If you are not from Ontario, you might never have seen Dougie in action talking about the pandemic. It really is a treat. It has none of the chutzpah of Justin Trudeau’s cuckoo clock single at Rideau Cottage, but it suits his style. Ford brings three or four cabinet ministers or senior civil servants along to give the session some gravitas. He lets them talk occasionally but it is, without question, the Dougie Ford show and tell.

He has been hard-put to convince the news media to stick to the pandemic when it is about the only chance they get to ask him about other provincial subjects.

It does not appear that the premier gets any briefings on these other subjects but he bravely takes them on. It is fun when some of these questions are prepared to embarrass him. A good example was the recent covid-19 bill that had been introduced in the legislature that had a little gift hidden in it for the premier’s friend Charles McVety. The Whitby-based Canada Christian College that McVety runs was being given university status so that it could grant degrees.

The questions from the news media became interesting after it became known that the bible school had not been approved for granting degrees by any senior educational body.

This leaves the premier with the question if he should stay out of trouble and just send lesser ministers and senior health experts to do these briefings.

But it looks like he loves the limelight too much. There he was, hogging the spotlight, and digging a hole for himself. After shrugging off colour coding the various levels of covid-19 seriousness, here he was really confusing people with his new codes. He missed the mark on that one.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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“Waiting for the sunrise.”

November 4th, 2020 by Peter Lowry

There was a song going through my mind last night as we were waiting for early returns on the American election. (Yes, Canadians do get excited about American elections. And believe me, we have more than one pony in the race.) The song on my mind was the Les Paul/Mary Ford version of The World Is Waiting For The Sunrise.

It is an up-beat, breezy tune that seems to meet the mood of people who want the Trump Night to be over. It has been four years of darkness.

But we sit here, the morning after and we feel no better. Mr. Trump, in his usual gauche style, has claimed the prize of four more years in the white house. If you do not believe in wished-for turnarounds, you feel the bastard might have it right.

Sitting, watching the early returns with the wife, I found I was explaining the state-controlled voting and the importance of each state in the race for the president because of the archaic Electoral College system. We did not wait for Trump to claim a false victory, we knew the questions would still be there in the morning.

The wife’s last question was how come there were so many stupid Americans? The only answer was because there are also stupid Canadians. We slept on that.

And the morning is no brighter. Though, we awoke to a warming breeze in this part of North America.

Late in the night I was puzzling over the apparent Trump strength. I think it puzzles many, on both sides of the border how seemingly religious people could support the lies and human weaknesses of Mr. Trump. I think it is in the same way as they are often God-fearing, Born-Again Christians.

It is not that they believe every word of the Gospel thumpers but they accept the Word as more of a belief than a truth. Trump cannot tell the difference between right and wrong. People just believe in him and accept him, lies and all.

Well, I guess God is not going to help us either.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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When one black MP is not enough.

November 3rd, 2020 by Peter Lowry

There was an amusing political op-ed in the Toronto Star on the weekend. It was by Tiffany Gooch, one of the Star’s ‘Black is Beautiful’ writers. Her point was that one black woman member of parliament was not enough.

Ms. Gooch thinks it is wrong, at the current time, to have 100 women as members of parliament but only one is black. I wonder if she would be much happier if only 50 women were in parliament and half of them were black.

The entire question is about as silly as prime minister Justin Trudeau’s answer in 2016 about his cabinet choices. A news media person had counted and asked him why half his cabinet were women. Trudeau’s answer was a trite comment about it being 2016. Some of the questionable choices he made to force that balance came back later to bite him on the ass. We have heard no words from him on gender equality in cabinet since.

What the PM found was that gender and experience and competence were not as equally dispersed as one might suppose. And I think I will be concerned about that impression until the day I see a cabinet with more than an equal number of women.

It is sad that Ms. Gooch assumes any female black candidate will have to withstand constant racist and misogynistic attacks.

What was really amusing about the Gooch article was her advice to black women such as Kamala Harris, who is running for vice-president in the United States. She tells them that “one must be firm, avoid coming off as angry. It is important to be knowledgeable, but one risks criticism for trying to hard.”

Maybe Ms. Gooch should take her own advice.

My advice to future candidates will probably remain the same. Man or woman, I always advise the hopeful to bring more to the job than just their loyalty to this or that party.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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Emperor Trump is naked.

November 2nd, 2020 by Peter Lowry

Does it take a child to recognize what we all know about Emperor Trump? If he parades before the world, naked, unadorned with privilege or power? Will he be the fool and will he make fools of his supporters?

But Tuesday, November 3, 2020 is the day leading to discovery. It is when all will be revealed. It is the day when we will all start to find out if the emperor has no clothes.

With his hair spun of gold, his over-long red tie and his long black coat, we shall know him. And yet we see him as we want to see him. He has not been your traditional president for the United States of America. And will he go quietly into the history of the city of monuments on the Potomac River?

And what will be his monument? Is it the chains of those seeking sanctuary in an America of freedom and opportunity? Or do we still honour the America of the shuttered Colossus of New York Harbour?

Does he let the pandemic defeat him? Do the deaths of thousands of Americans weigh on him? Or can he just scoff at the novel coronavirus? Can he ridicule the science? Can he promise succor to Americans? Is a vaccine just around the corner? Would even a child believe for a minute such foolish promises?

And what of his threats? Are we hearing his threats of mayhem and reprisal if he should lose? And just who would carry out those threats? In a nation of guns, can he really threaten civil war? Would fools seek to do his bidding? Will a supreme court—that is now his creature—going to listen to his complaints?

Just how far has this world come in the year 2020? We will take measure in the weeks ahead.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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The last campaign.

November 1st, 2020 by Peter Lowry

You never know which one is your last campaign. You always look forward to your next until reality says your last was your last. I can no longer climb the front steps of homes they build today. Without a safety railing, steps spell danger.

But without the ability to test what people are saying at their doors, you have no feeling for the campaign. Without listening to the why of peoples’ votes, you can never really forecast the outcome.

I remember in my last campaign, about a week before voting day and the only people in the office were the candidate, the campaign manager and myself. I was finishing entering some ground game results and the candidate and the campaign manager were discussing the opponents’ possible strategies on election day.

It was no surprise when the campaign chair asked me to run the ground game instead of asking me to be campaign manager. I was new to the city at the time and directing the ground game and teaching volunteers taught me a great deal about the city.

I realized that despite what the campaign manager was spending on polling, neither of them admitted that we were assured of a substantial win.

The mayoralty race had eight candidates. The incumbent was running but not putting up any effort. Two were conservative, one a previous mayor and another a previous member of the provincial legislature. Two candidates were nominal liberals, our guy and another sitting councilor. There were another three candidates in the category of ‘also-rans.’

Our guy was coming in first with about 40 per cent of the mayoralty vote. Second place was the former MPP because of his name recognition. I told them how the other candidates would do and even included the three ‘also-rans’ who might collectively get three per cent of the votes.

The campaign manager had his polls to support his view but in challenging my figures he made the mistake of ridiculing my figures for the three ‘also-rans.’ Since the three of us would never bet on our own race, it was safe to bet on those candidates. I made a ten-dollar bet with the campaign manager that these candidates would not get three per cent of the mayoralty vote.

It was mean of me to point it out to our team at the victory party, but the campaign manager had to pay on his foolish bet.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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The ground game has gone south?

October 31st, 2020 by Peter Lowry

In my years in politics, I have taught thousands of people how the political ground game is played. It is basic to politics throughout North America. It takes lots of experience and determination to learn. You have to win some and lose some.

This comes to mind because the wife’s book club is reading a book supposedly on democracy by a guy named Dave Meslin from Toronto. She was chortling as she read me some bits from the book about his ideas on ranked ballots. She knows how that subject will get to me every time.

But I know her attitude toward the ground game and when the writer disparaged its importance today, she lost interest in his book. Seasoned politicos across the United States are in the midst of the strongest ground game they have ever played—and in the face of a virulent pandemic. The formula is the same everywhere: you identify your vote and you get out your vote. Techniques have to change to suit the times and the demographics of the constituency, the basics are the same.

The first by-election I was part of was Charles Templeton’s run as a liberal for a provincial seat in an East End Toronto riding in the Riverdale area. The new democrats handed us our heads. It was the only by-election where I personally felt the loss.

The next by-election I was part of was on George Ben’s team, another provincial liberal in the Queen and Ossington area of West Toronto. I asked George to give me the toughest NDP poll in the riding and keep out any other workers. The poll had less than 100 voters and something like 52 had voted NDP in the previous election. I spent a couple weeks walking that poll, talking to the people. On election day, the NDP were so confident, the guy pulling their vote was the leader of their party. I took a special delight in delivering that poll, that was supposed to be NDP, quite convincingly, for the liberal.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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