Posts Tagged ‘Liberal Party’

If there is a wrong way?

Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

The Trudeau government seems to be fated to find the wrong way to do things. Whether it is just a contrariness or a strange quirk is still something we have not figured out. It is probably the reason that we say so little about the coming legalization of marijuana in Canada. Legal or illegal, whatever their involvement, cannabis brings out the least appealing characteristics of the people involved in its distribution and use.

And while I have always been in favour of decriminalizing cannabis, I must admit the smell of it being smoked repulses me. I will never be a customer for marijuana, legal or otherwise. It is still smoking and that is deadly.

But I would never have believed that a cop could be heading up that convoy bent on making pot socially acceptable. Only a cop would take two years to figure it out.

And, it hardly helps that I have absolutely no respect for the cop involved for the Trudeau Liberals. Former Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair could be just as useless as a Member of Parliament as he was in his City of Toronto job. We should never forget that he was the cop-in-charge in June 2010 at Harper’s G-20. It was Blair who wrongly jailed people under disgusting conditions, allowed police to attack citizens who were lawfully gathered, kettled citizens who were lawfully on the streets and yet allowed havoc by out-of-town anarchists.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau thinks Blair is the perfect person to plan our upcoming pot party on July 1 this year.

But do not suppose that the feds are the only ones pimping for ‘Mary-Jane.’ The provincial governments get pot revenue too. Each province to their own custom will be selling marijuana for fun and profit. With its usual snails-pace for making things happen, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) promises to have special stores open in 14 municipalities in July of this year to sell pot but not booze.

There will be a lot of publicity telling people not to toke and drive. That is a very good suggestion if there really was a legal way to tell if someone is high on THC (the main hallucinogenic ingredient in cannabis).

But do not expect to get high to celebrate Canada’s 151st birthday. The pot stores run by the provinces are most likely to be closed for the holiday. This will just have to be a ‘bring-your-own’ party.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Shilling for the politicos.

Tuesday, January 16th, 2018

Full disclosure requires me to admit that I was a political spin doctor before I knew what a spin doctor was. I am not as proud of it as I should be. Maybe it is because I always felt embarrassed for people who claimed such expertise.

Case in point is Barbara and Murray Frum’s son David. He could never find anyone right-wing enough for him in Toronto, so David headed for the U.S. where he could be a spin doctor for President George W. Bush. The junior Bush was probably the dumbest president the U.S. had ever produced before Donald Trump. Frum proudly told anyone that he was the one who wrote the “Axis of Evil” line in George W’s State of the Union address in 2002. He even wrote a book calling George W ‘The Right Man.’

Sure, George W might have gone to Harvard and Yale, he still did the stupidest thing he could have done in going to war over some mythical weapons of mass destruction. One thing you learn early in politics is that a candidate’s education does not guarantee s/he will not do something stupid.

And being a spin doctor does not mean that you will always give the incident the right spin. I remember one evening, a Toronto Star reporter entertaining half the passengers on a full Air Canada DC9 from Ottawa lampooning a statement from me, trying to rescue the Liberal Party from embarrassment. My effort was caught on national television. Luckily, it was the unintended but amusing twist on the story that saved the day.

The problem with Frum is that he is not in the fawning clack around Donald Trump. He made it clear from the beginning that he would prefer to vote for a real politico such as Hillary Clinton.

But that sorry bunch around Donald Trump are hardly spin doctors. They are users. They are using Trump for their own agenda. They would turn on him in a second. Even the Trump progeny are referred to in the Wolff’s Fire and Fury as dim and spoiled. Trump treats his wife as arm candy and it is obvious she despises him for it.

And yet an obviously intelligent person such as Rex Tillerson remains as Secretary of State in a cabinet made up of a cluster of clowns. Is it a sense of duty to the nation that keeps him on the job? I would spin it that way.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

In a land where greed beats need.

Wednesday, January 10th, 2018

The last time Canada took a systematic look into its tax system was at the instigation of a Prairie populist, Prime Minister John Diefenbaker. The royal commission headed by Bay Street accountant Kenneth Carter was famous for determining “A buck is a buck.” Here we are more than 50 years later and no finance minister of any stripe seems to have understood what Carter meant.

Yet it was so simple. All Carter really said was that no matter how a dollar was earned, it should be treated as a dollar. What Canada has instead is a complex taxation system wherein a dollar is taxed according to its origin and how it is gained.

Where the dollar came from is at the centre of an unfair tax system where the wage earner remains the easiest target. The system encourages the vulgar accumulation of wealth for the already rich. It encourages perquisites for the oligarchs of business. It benefits the rich investor over the small investor. It drives the elderly who are now living longer into poverty.

And we might never know if finance minister Bill Morneau was trying to help the middle class or seeking to benefit his fellow millionaires last year. The Conservatives threw accusations, barbs and challenges in the path of his tax reform proposals as he showed his inexperience and naïveté in his portfolio. And instead of helping, the prime minister just pushed him to the side.

Both Morneau and his prime minister spend a lot of their time saying that they want to do more for the middle class. If there were more results for the middle class instead of the steadily increasing profits for the already rich, we would all be better off.

Bill Morneau has backed so far away from the grandiose reforms he presented early last year, he has an even longer way back to our trust.

In Canada, where we put our trust in a self-filed income tax system, it seems amazing that we should have a tax system so laden with exceptions. The basic fact that the rich have tax accountants and the rest of us do our best, puts our best at a disadvantage.

It would pay for both the prime minister and his finance minister to dig out and read what Kenneth Carter said over a half century ago. A loonie is still just a buck but inflation has sure eaten into its buying power.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

We will call that a Wynne Win.

Sunday, January 7th, 2018

Did nobody at the Tim Horton’s head office know about the change in minimum wage for Ontario scheduled for the first of January? Did all those franchisees fail to tell them? And would you not wonder about a major franchiser who dominates the product line in Ontario, not being in control of the situation?

Somebody should send a note to the new owners of the Tim Horton’s brand that they blew it. Did they not realize that a rise in the Ontario minimum wage would have an impact on their franchisers? We will assume that not all employees are still earning minimum wage but obviously there will be some franchises trying to maximize their profit at the expense of their employees.

But there is little percentage to trying to squeeze more profit from employees. Customers have watched the size of their cups reduced and prices of their double-double increased over the years. And having fewer employees is just going to slow the service and increase customer impatience. There has to be some balance.

And it is very foolish to take on the Ontario government in this situation. First of all, the government had resisted increasing the minimum wage for too long as it was. With the steady growth in the cost of living, there was no reason not to increase the minimum wage. The economics were barely tracking as it was. Ontario should have been at a $15 minimum hourly rate more than two years ago.

It was not as though the government did not give any warning. There was plenty of time for the Tim Horton’s franchise to consider computer models of the impact of the new minimum wage. The results of the models might cause a slowing of new hires in the short term but are unlikely to seriously impact earnings for either the franchiser or the franchisee.

And people should be very wary of blaming Premier Wynne for any of the problems that might be created in adjusting to the higher minimum wage. She might be slow but she is on the side of the angels in this argument. And she seems to be much better at public relations than these new Tim Horton’s franchise people

It was only when listening to an expert on Tim Horton’s operations the other day that I learned what a franchise can gross over a year. He was talking of earning of between $300,000 and $400,000 per franchise. Nobody need worry about the franchisers.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Democracy destroyed.

Thursday, January 4th, 2018

The years of Pierre Trudeau’s leadership seem to be backing into the mists of time. It was the strength of a democratic Liberal Party in Canada that back stopped him in those years. He thought of the party at first as similar to the top-down managed situation in Quebec. He almost lost the 1972 election because he considered the party unimportant. He had the grace to acknowledge his error.

Trudeau brought some key party apparatchiks into his office and set out on the rocky road with them that took him into the eighties.

It was in the eighties that the incidence of ethnic swamping of riding associations became a major problem for the political parties. While we had the occasional maverick win in riding nomination contests, we had rarely had the outright public fight by a large ethnic group to take over a riding. We were particularly vulnerable to this in the larger cities across Canada.

The problem was finally straightened out by the combination of parties vetting candidates as suitable to run for the party and the party leader signing off on all candidates for Elections Canada—so they could run under the party banner.

But what happened was that party leaders started putting preferred candidates wherever they wanted and bypassing whatever the party was doing about a proper vetting. The worst offender has been Justin Trudeau—after promising in his campaign for the leadership to never do it. The best examples have been his appointing of key cabinet members Chrystia Freeland and Bill Morneau to key ridings in Toronto.

That in itself was not as serious as his dictating to the Liberal Party on its fund-raising and memberships. As something of an experiment, Trudeau asked that the party forego membership fees from people who wanted to support the party in the coming leadership and election. Since it was already obvious who would win the leadership, nobody raised serious objections. It was also appreciated that this would supply the party with lists of possible workers to help elect Liberal candidates.

It was not until Justin Trudeau asked to abolish membership fees after the election that we realized he was destroying the democracy of the Liberal Party of Canada. The old joke has come true: I am not a member of an organized political party; I am a Liberal.

We will discuss where this is taking us in a later commentary.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Defending Democracy.

Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018

You would think in all the many years of human social development that democracy should have gained support and growing wide-spread usage around the world. We certainly agree that it is not perfect but we do agree that it is better than any alternatives. Yet tell it to the Russians and they want the oligarchy of Putin. Tell it to the Turks and they will support the autocracy of Erdogan. Tell it to the Iranians and you will find that not all support the theocracy of the Ayatollahs.

Think of the military juntas around the world that have usurped power from their citizens. Burma (Myanmar) is run by butchers. Countries such as the Philippines and Venezuela are on the slippery slope. China’s oligarchy will countenance no change. North Korea is a junta fronted by a farce of a dictator. And the supposed heart of democracy, the United States of America is led today by a would-be tyrant.

And why is this? Why has democracy fallen into disrepair? And how do we shore up our democracy? No doubt the political science people can bring out tables and statistics to explain. All I can do is reflect on the attitudes of voters across many years of observation at all levels of government.

After the Second World War, Canada saw rapid growth in jobs, incomes and newcomers. There was an excitement then to politics and at all levels there was an expectation by the new and younger people seeking to bring their ideas and energy to the political scene. In Ontario, in particular, there was a surge of fresh thinking and younger people getting involved at the riding and regional level. In the Liberal Party, there was a new energy and a new era was introduced.

The Diefenbaker years in Ottawa had underlined the need for change and the Liberals got ahead of the curve. While Prime Minister Lester Pearson was highly regarded by his party, he represented the old guard. Yet Pearson accepted the changes recommended by the envigored new guard. As a highly skilled diplomat, Pearson recognized that the party could do even more with new thinking in Ottawa. To this end he went around the Liberal establishment in Quebec and brought in new thinkers such as Pierre Trudeau, Jean Marchand and Gerard Pelletier. It was Pierre Trudeau who allied himself with the  Liberal thinkers in Toronto and changed Canada forever.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

A New Year rich in political opportunity.

Sunday, December 31st, 2017

This political junkie is looking forward to 2018. Starting with the Ontario election in June, Quebec scheduled for October 1 and then the American mid-term elections in November, there will be much on which to comment. The only recommendation we can make at this stage is to ignore the pollsters.

And one other suggestion at this stage is that you should be cautious about what you wish for. Much can happen over the year. Our moods and our priorities can easily change. Even our well-read Morning Line, issued five to six weeks before the vote, can see sea change.

While pollsters gain accuracy as the final polls get closer, it is their lack of people on the ground feeling the changes that jeopardize their accuracy. You have to be able to feel what voters are thinking.

The ups and downs of the Trudeau Liberal government in Ottawa is impacting the positions of both the Wynne Liberals in Ontario and the Couillard Liberals in Quebec. Both provincial parties are philosophically to the right of the federal party and yet each is being challenged by a more right wing party.

The mistake the Ontario Tories are making is that they are trying to prove they are at the political middle. Frankly, Ontario voters would be more inclined to vote for them if they were honest about being right wing.

But my neighbours and I in the riding of Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte would dearly love to have a good Liberal candidate to support and defeat a puffed-up Patrick Brown who needs to be beaten—and can be beaten.

The situation in Quebec is quite different. Quebec Francophone voters tend to park their vote when asked by pollsters and the Coalition Avenir Québec seems to be the current parking choice. The thought of this right-wing bunch of separatists making it to the top spot next October is a sad comment on the condition of Quebec politics. It would be ideal if the threat gets Premier Couillard off his butt and into action.

The fun stuff south of the border will be in full swing after the Quebec election and U.S. politics will get most of our attention until the November vote. Change in the House in Washington is possible but just three additional Democrats in the Senate will do wonders in controlling Trump for the last two years of his Reign of Terror.

We are all looking forward to that!

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Isn’t it supposed to get easier?

Friday, December 29th, 2017

With two years in office behind him, you would expect Justin Trudeau to be getting more adept at his job. He is not. This has been a year for criticisms, errors, lectures, let-downs and too many apologies. Were he with us, Justin’s father would not be pleased with his son’s performance. He would likely agree with us that the arrogance and elitism, his son has been exhibiting is hurting his performance.

If the fiasco with visiting the Aga Khan’s island last Christmas was limited to accepting a ride in the host’s helicopter, we could have laughed it off. It was Conflict Commissioner Mary Dawson who pointed out that Justin Trudeau had last seen the Ismaili Leader at his father’s funeral and their friendship had only become rekindled when the Aga Khan had a project in Canada that needed another $15 million in support that could be provided by the government. That had a bad smell.

What is also serious is Trudeau letting his finance minister take the opposition heat for his attempts at tax reform. If this is important enough to do, then you do it properly. Trudeau either had to fire Morneau or defend him. He did neither. He pushed him aside.

This writer has yet to forgive the prime minister for his support for pipelines that are proposed to transport diluted bitumen from the Athabasca and Cold Lake tar sands exploitation. That is in direct conflict to all his claims to protecting the world environment. He cannot have it both ways.

Our prime minister might think he is invulnerable but he cannot say he is standing up for Canada around the world and then abstain from the U.N. vote condemning the U.S. president’s promise to move the American embassy to Jerusalem. He just blew any chance of Canada taking its rightful seat on the United Nations Security Council in the next few years.

Trudeau’s excuse is probably that he did not want to annoy Donald Trump. Why not? That bastard does not respect people who will not stand up to him. We already know how Trump is trying to destroy any vestige of fair trade between our countries. Look what he did to Bombardier and our soft-wood lumber exports. You hardly use diplomatic language with a bully who does not use it himself.

To be fair to the prime minister, there are some programs of his government that have my approval. I’ll try to mention them sometime.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Naughty or Nice: Ontario’s Kathleen Wynne.

Sunday, December 24th, 2017

It is hard to say where Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne would be on Santa Claus’ ‘naughty or nice’ list. I expect Santa to give her a pass into the ‘nice’ category but he should be warned that this person is one tough cookie! If he does not bring her something she asked for, he might have her arm wrestle him back up the chimney.

The leader of the Liberal Party in Ontario, Wynne is a fighter and that is probably a good thing now that the voters have shown their impatience with her. According to the pollsters she has certainly not been high on the voters’ preferred premiers list. The reality is that the voters either select the least objectionable of the three and vote or let others decide. They might not like that option.

Wynne is not warm and cuddly, but she is still somebody’s grandmother. Despite the agonizing and delays, she has been implementing some reforms. Is she fast? No. Does she get there eventually? Yes.

Yes, she was stupid to buy that dumb banker’s suggestion to sell part of Hydro One that does the electrical distribution for the province. That was a deal that could never please anybody. Yet she has made baby steps on freeing up beer and wine sales. She has proposed some good ideas that can move us eventually to a proper Pharmacare program. She will get there, we hope. She also needs to move faster on more day care spaces. And she had better provide that reasonable minimum wage when she promised.

But she needs to do something for seniors too. More and more they are feeling the pressure of rising costs—just living longer is causing them problems.

On a scale of one to ten, she probably rates a six. Neither of the other two have any potential to get that high. Horwath would be a national joke and Brown would be worse than Mike Harris. He would take Ontario back to the 19th century.

If we elected Andrea Horwath, we might like it for a while. At least until the province had to file for bankruptcy. Under a Brown government, we would like a cold and heartless Ontario less and less every day.

And that leaves us stuck with Granny Wynne. Maybe Santa can leave her a new butter churner under the Christmas tree.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Denzil decides to do his duty.

Sunday, December 10th, 2017

Toronto Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong seems to have heard the clarion call of distant trumpets. He tells people that he is challenging for the Progressive Conservative candidacy in York East electoral district. Knowing the voters in that part of Toronto as I do, this is not really exciting news.

While Denzil might believe he can leap small buildings at a bound, he has never proved to be a super guy in the political scheme of things. He is a social conservative and an avowed penny-pincher to extremes but his experience with the city will take him nowhere at Queen’s Park. They are different venues and require a different understanding of human needs.

It is this difference that is why Denzil’s blanket approval of the conservative platform is meaningless.   Fixing potholes is not a learning platform for the provincial concerns for health care and education needs. These are the two largest attention consuming and spending needs in the Ontario legislature. To bring an anti-spending attitude alone to that picnic is a disservice to the voters. Understanding the issues comes first.

The biggest trap in the conservative platform is the decision by the people preparing it to support a carbon tax over the present cap and trade approach. I, for one, agree with that decision but not how they are using it. They think ‘revenue neutral’ means that they give the carbon tax money back to the taxpayers through efforts such as tax cuts. If you are just going to churn the carbon tax money into other revenue needs, why bother? It would be less trouble if you left the carbon tax in the taxpayers’ pockets in the first place.

Tax cuts are only designed to impress the greedy. (The greedy are voters too, you know.) Tax cuts do not belong at the head of the agenda. And if the people who sign those guarantees of performance were honest, they would never sign them.

Denzil is counting on the current distaste for Kathleen Wynne as premier to influence East York voters and to dump a good M.P.P. Michael Coteau who has been serving as minister of children and youth services. Coteau has won the last two elections in the electoral district by more than 50 per cent of the vote. He is a good M.P.P. and could be a keeper.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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