Posts Tagged ‘Harper’

From small creeks do mighty rivers flow.

Sunday, August 11th, 2019

From the Manchester Guardian to the Toronto Globe and Mail, there have been reports of our federal government scientists testing spills of diluted bitumen from Alberta’s tar sands. As one source pointed out to me, this was the government laboratory that former prime minister Stephen Harper forgot to shut down. They are still doing their job today.  They just do not realize how much has been done for them.

The researchers are at the Experimental Lake Region near Kenora, Ontario. They are pouring measured amounts of diluted bitumen into a fresh water lake to determine its impact. Everything is measured and contained to enable the researchers to forecast the impact of larger amounts of spilled bitumen.

The most important discovery to-date has been that diluted bitumen floats—for a while. The earlier assumption was that diluted bitumen had a lower density than water and could be easily be scooped from the surface of any water. This was a seriously incorrect assumption.

On the word of Americans in the area of the Kalamazoo River in Michigan and Canadians in the area of the North Saskatchewan River in Canada, diluted bitumen floats—for a while—and then sinks to the bottom of the water. In the earlier example in Michigan, the Enbridge people stopped counting the costs of clean-up at a billion U.S. dollars.

The smaller spill in Saskatchewan River was cheaper for the Husky company that owned that pipeline. The problem here was that less news got out about the spill because of the bias of the Alberta and Saskatchewan governments. They prefer to keep quiet about diluted bitumen spills.

But science is relentless and the federal government scientists will eventually get to experiment with water currents and tides and be able to tell us that diluted bitumen is a serious hazard in spills because it will drift or move with the currents until it can no longer float.

It is to be regretted that so much false information is still out there about using pipelines for diluted bitumen. It is not heavy oil.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Trudeau does a Harper.

Saturday, August 3rd, 2019

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

The failure of Justin Trudeau’s Senate.

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2019

It had to become obvious to Canadians eventually that Justin Trudeau’s version of a Senate is a disaster. Justin seems to think that an elite group of senators, picked by an elite committee will produce hard working senators. Well, it doesn’t and it won’t.

This was the equivalent of Justin promising voting reform when Justin knew very little about any of the alternatives. Canadians are used to first-past-the-post and it works for them.

But this Senate is now a problem. Whether you pick elites for the Senate or for the House of Commons, you are going to make mistakes. What frightens me is that these people do not understand the political realities. The problems that the prime minister created with his politically correct Cabinet were bad enough. I could care less if they were all women—provided they knew what they were doing and had some political smarts to help keep them out of trouble.

Justin threw the lambs to the wolves in both the Cabinet and the Senate. Stephen Harper at least had some basic criteria for the people he appointed. They had to be conservatives with some provincial or federal experience and his supporters. He had only a few failures.

Maybe he would still like to throttle Mike Duffy, but the reality was that Duffy did what he was told. The only problem was that Duffy, though he reported on politics, consorted with politicians and obviously had a generous expense account when with CTV, had no idea of the trust involved in the parliamentary system. Somebody had to blow the whistle on him.

Canada now has a Senate that does not function for us. You can hardly fire these people, so they are enjoying themselves. And what the hell is Justin going to do about it? It might be too late to swamp the Senate again with liberals. If ‘Chuckles’ Scheer wins the election on October 21, he will have a line up of conservative senators ready to appoint.

The reality in October could be a minority parliament. We will have a House of Commons that will take forever to make up its mind and the Senate will delay everything further.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Jean Chrétien tells it like it is.

Sunday, October 14th, 2018

One of the advantages of being a former prime minister, Jean Chrétien can now tell people how he sees things. Or, in the case of former prime minister Stephen Harper, he can tell it as he would like to see it. Both former prime ministers have new books out to entertain their respective supporters.

There are probably more laughs per chapter in the Chrétien book. It depends on who did the ghosting. Any book by Harper called Right Here, Right Now has to be much more authoritarian than one by Jean Chrétien. The liberal PM’s book is more anecdotal and titled My Stories, My Times.

You can count on the former liberal prime minister to have a few choice words for the current American president. They include terms such as “Fanatical” and “Unspeakable.”

But even more interesting, Chrétien sees the current president as bringing on the “end of the American Empire.” In his travels, Chrétien has been seeing the growing disbelief and disgust with the current American regime that panders to dictators, makes a mockery of democracy and drowns America’s moral leadership in bigotry. Of course, it should be remembered that Chrétien is friends with Bill and Hillary Clinton and would hardly approve of the man who beat Hillary for the presidency with lies and false accusations.

Not surprisingly, Stephen Harper also seems to be concerned about Trump and obviously thinks that the American president might be misunderstood. He does not think the populist supporters who elected Trump should be referred to as ‘deplorables.’ Harper seems to understand the grievances of the right wing in America—and even some of the left wing—that enabled Trump to win the presidency. And he does not think the pressures of today’s world are going to allow those grievances to be ameliorated. Harper’s advice is more like “get used to it.”

While there is lots of self-congratulatory B.S. in the Harper book, it might need to be read by some of the Pollyanna liberals. There is no question but many of them need a wake-up call.

All I can say about the Chrétien book is that it might bring a smile. Essentially, it is designed to look good on your coffee table—if you still believe in doing that.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Harper’s henchmen halted.

Tuesday, September 4th, 2018

The earth is still shaking in Alberta from the Federal Court of Appeal finally corralling the Calgary-based National Energy Board (NEB). The court was asking the logical questions about the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion project. The industry is angry and the politicians all a-twitter. It was high time that someone questioned that industry’s dominance of its regulator and their cozy relations at the Calgary Petroleum Club.

But it was Trudeau coming to power three years ago and allowing the relationship to continue that was worrisome. When Brian Mulroney’s conservative government moved the NEB to Calgary in 1991, the idea was to have the board more directly involved with the energy sector based there. It was under the Harper government that it appeared obvious that only the industry was the beneficiary. Many liberals considered the NEB to be just another squadron of prime minister Harper’s henchmen.

The lack of depth and concern over environmental issues has been obvious to many. During the examination of the Line 9 Enbridge pipeline reversal and increase in capacity was my worst experience in trying to meet with NEB board members. The staff in Calgary are polite and interested but the chances of getting any hearing from the board were slim.

The fact that Line 9 crosses the top of the Yonge Street subway line in Toronto was a safety concern, the NEB chose to ignore. Considering the cavern of condos running downhill from that location with tens of thousands of residents, the willingness to ignore concerns was cavalier and worrying.

But luckily the judges at the federal appeal court disagreed with their laissez-faire attitude about the environment with the Kinder Morgan expansion. The judges considered the consultation with the first nations to be flawed and the lack of environmental concern for the ocean tankers coming into the Burrard Inlet terminus to be an unjustified failure.

The guy with the egg on his face from this fiasco is Canada’s environmental poster boy, Justin Trudeau. His government is now the proud owner of a $4.7 billion pipeline, along with plans and equipment to twin the line and no credibility.

The prime minister might have the power to overrule the court and simply say the pipeline is in the national interest—or even just in Alberta’s interest—but it would hardly help him get re-elected next year.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Confounding a confluence of conservatives.

Sunday, May 27th, 2018

It is all happening Monday at Toronto’s stuffy old Albany Club. As I told my host last time I was invited to the club, this is no place for a left-wing liberal. The 125-year old building on King Street East has been the spiritual home for Canada’s conservatives since the 19th Century. It is truly the perfect place for right-wing plotting and scheming.

The rich and famous of conservatism will be there Monday to hear from the ghost of prime minister’s past, the Right Honourable Stephen Harper. Yes, and you thought he had gone to his reward in corporate board room heavens. He has come down from his corporate inner sanctums and business conclaves to preach to the Ontario conservatives with a spare $1,222 in their pocket to support Mike Harris’ kid. The junior Harris, is trying to win the Kitchener-Conestoga electoral district, where he was appointed to run by leader Doug Ford.

Maybe nobody in the Kitchener area wants to or can afford to support the junior Mike Harris. Besides, when you have a drawing card like the former prime minister, would you waste him in the hinterlands?

It is assumed that this is all new money being raised, as $1,222 is the maximum you are allowed to donate to a provincial campaign.

But what will the former prime minister have to say that would be worth that much? We can bet you that it will be nothing nice about the liberals in Ottawa or in Queen’s Park.

The good news for the loyal attendees is that neither leader Doug Ford nor the candidate is allowed to be there for the fund-raiser. Ford has already been told that he is under investigation about being at another fund-raiser. Under the new election laws in Ontario, neither a candidate nor his/her leader is allowed to be there when people are giving them money. If that seems strange to you, raise your hand—which did not do me any good and will probably not do you any good either.

Of course, this liberal would dearly love to be there to hear Stephen Harper say nice things about Doug Ford. Admittedly, Stephen Harper is somewhat self-centered and has a tendency to only talk about himself. I am quite sure that is not worth $1,222.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Chuckles brings home a report card.

Saturday, April 28th, 2018

Andrew ‘Chuckles’ Scheer has spent the better part of a year in Ottawa as leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition. A report card is due. Will we like the report on that purportedly placid Prairie politician?

Will he reprise the docile and easy-going speaker of the house role he played for the former prime minister? Do our parliamentarians still refer to him as ‘Harper’s boy’?

You might be surprised to hear that he has now been retrained as an attack dog and he can be ferocious when standing on his hind legs. He stands in place in the House and almost drools as he focusses in on the prime minister. And it is not to praise him.

Chuckles is quite adamant that our prime minister is an empty suit, a wastrel and a waster of public monies, a hypocrite in his policies and is taking the country in entirely the wrong direction. In fact, according to Chuckles, the liberal leader does nothing right.

His only problem is that very few Canadians pay much attention to what Chuckles has to say in the House of Commons. They do not know him and if they did, they might not like him.

Chuckles is more than a bit boring. He and his wife are practicing Catholics and have five children. He is a social conservative. He has been known among the conservative caucus as Stephen Harper with a smile.  He ran for the leadership last year on a slogan of being a real conservative and a real leader. Not all conservatives believed his slogan. He won on the 13th ballot with 50.9 per cent of the vote over second-place Maxime Bernier’s 49. 1 per cent.

If he really brought home a report card for his first year as opposition leader, it would probably report that he does not always play well with the other children. He has been known to complain that the liberal government has not done something and when they do it, he complains that that they did it. He went to England recently to promote himself with the people back home. He got failing grades in diplomatic relations with the U.K. government.

Chuckles is also busy preparing for his first test as conservative leader in next year’s federal election. The consensus is that he will be lucky to survive as party leader.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Trudeau plays to the home crowd.

Friday, December 15th, 2017

Surprise, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau played it safe the other day. He appointed Quebec’s Richard Wagner as chief justice of the Supreme Court. We Canadians have had little chance to hear from Wagner prior to this appointment. We have had no real chance to assess what his leadership might mean. We were left out while Trudeau did what elitists do.

At least when Wagner was under consideration for appointment to the supreme court five years ago, the Harper government had him vetted by a committee of the House of Commons. That was as close as we have ever come to having a more democratic selection of our supreme court.

We have to admit it is a smooth transition from long-serving Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, who served 28 years on the bench, the last 15 years as Chief Justice. There would have been loud and xenophobic complaints from Quebec if a justice from another province had been selected. As he is the most senior justice from Quebec, Trudeau was expected to select Wagner.

We should remember that Richard Wagner is the son of the late Claude Wagner, Quebecer, jurist and Conservative Cabinet Minister. The son’s conservative roots were obvious when he was the justice (luckily in the minority) that supported Harper’s “tough on crime’ approach and fixed minimum sentences.

Other than those two acknowledgements to the man who appointed him, Wagner has been a justice who appears to go along with the consensus of the court. While somewhat conservative in his opinions, he has never shown any leadership on any subject while on the bench. Mind you, the chief justice only has one vote.

Canadians have become used to having a supreme court that has stood up and been counted in supporting our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The country has been a better place with a court that cares about our democracy. Barring ill health, 60-year old Wagner can look forward to the 15 years in the chief justice position. We can only hope that Canadians do not have cause to regret his tenure.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Longingly looking for liberalism.

Friday, November 24th, 2017

A correspondent from British Columbia recently asked “What is a Liberal party bereft of liberalism?” He was, of course, describing the situation today where the Conservative parties are moving farther and farther to the harshest right, Liberals are the new Conservative-Light and the New Democrats are lost in a confused and undetermined world of the centre-left.

It is a situation desperately in need of new definition and new alliances. What we appear to have is our political structures moving further and further away from their mobs. And contrary to the limited perceptions of our putative leaders, they are driving their natural supporters away.

Look around the world or even here at home. There is political insecurity as voters wrestle with their frustrations. They want something different but are finding it difficult to articulate. Some leaders are connecting; We are thinking of Emmanuel Macron in France, Bernie Sanders in the U.S.A. while on the other hand we have Trump in the U.S. and the rise of the far right in Europe.

The resilience of Donald Trump’s support is surprising pundits. Valérie Plante’s mayoral victory in Montreal and the ability of Naheed Nenshi to fight off a strong attack from the right in Calgary are catching us all by surprise. You can no longer trust political logic.

Stephen Harper swore he would move Canada permanently to the right of the political spectrum. All he moved us to was that final distaste for his oppressive form of right-wing libertarianism. He made a mantra of balanced budgets and the voters moved to a braver, deficit promoting Liberal Party.

But where is Justin Trudeau in this political turmoil? He talks the talk of saving an environmentally threatened world and approves the senseless pollution extremes of pipelines for bitumen. He makes promises to his party for power and then betrays the party. He promises voting reform without understanding the options. He promises new peacekeeping without understanding the realities of the world’s needs. He bemoans the privileged attitude of the Senate while creating a new privileged class of elites to continue the cost to Canadians for a Senate that is unwanted and unneeded.

What Canada needs is a new social democratic party of the centre-left. The New Democrats need to drop their ties to “me-first” unions and move along with real liberals to this new party. The Conservatives can fade into a futile future with their mean and selfish attitudes. Liberals will find their future as progressives challenged from the left. And voters will have new options, better government and, in time, a modern constitution for their country.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Chuckles’ Canned Conservatism.

Tuesday, November 14th, 2017

In discussing the ebbing strength of the democracy of Canada’s Conservative parties yesterday, we never got to the major problem faced by the federal Conservatives. Their problem is one of leadership. If there ever was a good example of the mediocrity produced by preferential voting, the Conservative party faces that problem today in its leadership.

Andrew ‘Chuckles’ Scheer’s leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada should have come in a can—marked ‘Open in an emergency only.’ The former Speaker in the only majority Conservative Parliament under Stephen Harper, Scheer was the leadership candidate with the least to offer the party. He was simply the second, third or fourth choice of too many Conservative members.

A social conservative from Saskatchewan, Scheer has the perpetually surprised look of a deer caught in the headlights. You just know that he will stay there awaiting the impact.

But he got lucky lately. While the Trudeau Liberals are on a death watch for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Tories found their bonanza in Provence. And Bill Morneau’s French villa was only part of his problems. While the rest of the cabinet was distracted, Trudeau’s finance minister found himself engulfed in charges of conflict of interest and being rich. And the charge of being rich became incendiary.

It seems that neither Morneau nor the Parliamentary Ethics Commissioner had the political smarts to realize she had hung the finance minister out as a target for the opposition parties. At this late stage the ethics commissioner has had to open an investigation into the possible conflict of interest between the minister’s business interests, that deal in pension programs, and his changes in tax positions of pension funds.

Few voters will have the understanding of what any investigation will find. Guilt or innocence will be irrelevant.

When ‘Chuckles’ and his pack in the House of Commons first started baying after the finance minister, we carefully explained that the finance minister was in the position of Caesar’s wife. It was not a question of guilt or innocence. It was the very inference of wrong-doing. Bill Morneau should have been asked for his resignation then.

And do you not bet that the Conservatives, with a target in their sights, are sorry now that they opened the can labelled ‘Scheer.’

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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