Posts Tagged ‘Liberal Party’

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.


Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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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.


Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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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.


Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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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!


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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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.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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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.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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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.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to

Chuckles needs to change gears.

Sunday, December 3rd, 2017

It is a rare time that we give serious advice to the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada. It is that ‘Chuckles’ Scheer is going to have to learn the difference between legitimate political criticism and harassment. Watching Finance Minister Bill Morneau in the House of Commons it seemed to me that the poor man was distraught. This baiting has gone too far.

Chuckles and the rest of the Conservative caucus have to understand that if you are unwilling to ask your question outside the House of Commons—where you have no parliamentary immunity—then you are impugning the man’s honour. And if you have no basis for the truth of your claims, then you have no honour.

What all MPs need to understand is that Canadians are embarrassed and annoyed by the depth of the juvenile antics in the House. It is dishonourable. Do you go home and scream invective across the living room at the spouse? That is not a benefit of being elected either.

Why Bill Morneau should be hounded about selling his shares in the family company, when it was the only smart thing for him to do, makes no sense. He had been criticized for not putting the shares in a blind trust but he was doing the next best thing: divesting. Everyone knew that the earnings would be taxed at a higher rate in the next year, so why would he not tell his advisor to sell before the end of the year? And why would his father not do the same?

And all this being said, we should turn our attention to the prime minister who should have fired Bill Morneau at the beginning of this contretemps. As much as Morneau claims to have been assured by ethics commissioner Mary Dawson that he did not need to have a blind trust, she probably had no idea how much his holdings would be impacted by changing rules.

If Justin Trudeau had the discussions needed with the man chosen to be his finance minister, he should have advised him to use the same type of blind trust as the Trudeau family.

As I have already stated a couple times in these commentaries, the role of the finance minister is that of Caesar’s wife. He must be above suspicion. While Canada has lost a few good finance ministers over the years, the government of the day cannot invite suspicion of any sort. Morneau is no longer tenable.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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Does Ontario come with an owner’s manual?

Saturday, December 2nd, 2017

Maybe Patrick Brown forgot to ask. It has been clear that Premier Kathleen Wynne has been playing the job by ear for the past four years. It is just that the former do-nothing back bencher from the Harper government wants Wynne’s job. The Globe and Mail tells us that Brown is a pragmatist on steroids and the Toronto Star’s Rick Salutin thinks he is merely returning to the zeitgeist of the Bill Davis era in Ontario.

As very few of us understand Rick Salutin, we have to go along with the Globe and Mail on this one. The only problem is that the Globe points out that some of the Conservative promises are more liberal than anything the Ontario Liberals are offering. Maybe Brown’s model is the Trudeau government in Ottawa.

All we know here in Patrick Brown’s electoral district is that the putz will say anything to get elected.

The only thing I regret is that the Conservatives must have read my criticisms of Kathleen Wynne’s Cap and Trade system. They are absolutely right to get behind the federal carbon tax. While it must be causing apoplexy in some Toronto board rooms, the carbon tax is the most open way to force people to help save this planet.

But nobody ever suggested that the carbon tax should fund personal income tax cuts. A proper carbon tax is designed to be revenue neutral and only a Libertarian would see it as a chance for tax cuts.

If any among us has had time to study all 147 promises in that Conservative work of fiction, they must be wondering where the cuts are hiding. You can hardly move that much revenue to popular promises without cutting the hell out of some critical programs. You have to figure that doctors’ incomes will be the only safe zone in the health care budget. (With the help of Brown’s campaign manager, Walied Soliman, greed won control of the Ontario Medical Association this past year.)

While the men in suits that seemed to dominate the Conservative gathering were applauding the new Patrick Brown, there was a feeling of déjà vu to the events. It felt like a piece meal plucking of a goody from here and a goody from there. Yes, Brown had a new haircut but it was the same schmuck we have known for years, reading the teleprompter.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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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.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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