Posts Tagged ‘Royalty’

Hoist a quaff to the Queen’s birthday.

Thursday, May 24th, 2018

After ignoring the royal wedding the other day in the United Kingdom, we should give proper homage to dear Queen Victoria. As you might know, it is her birthday today and many are celebrating the occasion. Frankly I am amazed by the numbers of people from all over the world who turn each May to the archives of Babel-on-the-Bay to reread my 2013 tribute to Queen Victoria. I am in no way a monarchist.

And I hardly believe many of us Canadians are monarchists. Sure, there was a spate of gawkers on the weekend because of the wedding of Prince Harry and his actress bride. They suit each other. I hope it lasts. And it certainly was a beautiful spring day for the wedding over in old blighty.

The wedding was pageantry in the excess. The commentary was also an excess of treacle. The wife threatened me every time I offered to turn it off for her. She thought it was lovely. With the wedding running on Greenwich Mean Time, I had recorded it for her but then she also found the Canadian networks were rerunning it at a civilized hour. I think she watched it twice.

Of course, I love pageantry as much as the next bloke. The Brit royals certainly do pageantry well. They also get lots of practice. I thought they did the Diana funeral in ’97 with wonderful pomp. The Brits do a great stiff-upper-lip event but the undercurrents of why can be very interesting.

Even the foolishness of Brexit needs ceremony. I do not suppose that the Queen will fire the first shot across the Channel to make it official but I expect life will go on in Great Britain. The royals will continue to be an asset for tourism and the economy will struggle for a while. It is hard to be sympathetic after such foolishness—after all, it was based on bigotry.

I still cannot figure out what they are going to do about Charles once the Queen passes. At 93, Elizabeth II has set a record as the longest serving monarch but she threatened the Commonwealth leaders recently informing them quite defiantly that Charles would succeed her. Most would have preferred that the succession skip a generation but no such luck.

But you have to admit that having a thriving monarchy in the 21st century is truly a quaint idea. I have met some of the European royals and frankly none of them hold a candle to the British royals. So, hoist your glass high again in a toast: Long live the Queen!

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

There are some real royals.

Wednesday, March 14th, 2018

It is too bad that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was too busy to meet with the King and Queen of Belgium when they were in Ottawa the other day. These are a somewhat different type of royal. They are useful. They are not just figureheads and dilettantes. The Belgian royals brought 150 business leaders and others with them to help build stronger ties with Canada.

While trade between Belgium and Canada was $6.5 billion last year, Canada does that much bilateral trade with the United States in three days. The Belgians are hoping to see a substantial increase in their trade with Canada as the new Canada-European Union trade deal comes into effect.

The Belgians were greeted according to protocol by the Governor General and with all the correct ceremonies. It was obvious that they had hoped for a few words with Canada’s Prime Minister.

Belgium, as a sovereign country, is only about six years older than Canada. It is also a constitutional monarchy and has two major language groups. Part of the role of the royalty is to help hold the country together despite ongoing tensions between the Flemish (about 60 per cent of the population) and Walloons (close to 40 per cent).

In the United Kingdom, the Queen has a periodic briefing from her prime minister as to the affairs of the nation. In Belgium, the monarch is much more involved and he maintains direct contact with his cabinet ministers as to the progress of their bills and programs. He supplies the ministers with highly knowledgeable and apolitical advice.

Having visited Belgium and seen first hand the animosity between the Flemish and Walloons, I can only feel admiration for how the Belgian monarch helps to smooth relations between the two groups. Compared to the concern Prince Harry has with the guest list for his upcoming wedding to an American, it does seem to make our royals quite redundant.

But Canada will never be able to ameliorate its borrowed monarchy from England that does this country no favours. It might be a convenience for our politicians who think they know best about our needs but the refusal of our government to address concerns about the un-elected and undemocratic senate, supreme court appointments and the myriad of concerns about our need to update our democracy are not being solved.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Joining the #IMBUSYTOO movement.

Wednesday, February 14th, 2018

What can be more appropriate for Saint Valentine’s Day than to recognize true love. And even if it is not true, it is what passes for true love over in Ole Blighty! It is the upcoming nuptials of Prince Harry and his American bride Megan. Have you got your invitation yet?

It must have been U.S. President Donald Trump who started the #IMBUSYTOO trend on Twitter. He was miffed when he heard that Barack Obama was getting an invitation and he was not. He warded off embarrassment by sending out a twit saying that he was too busy to attend that day. He had no idea what day it was but he knew he would be too busy.

Donald Trump’s idea caught on. Self-important Washington politicians quickly joined in and twitted their regrets. They know that you can never trust the U.S. Mail to get you something on time from a foreign address such as Buckingham Palace.

But the wife is threatening to start a #IMNOTBUSY movement in retaliation. And if her invite does arrive, she tells me she will find a new plus-one to take with her.

Luckily, I expect that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be invited to represent all us Canadians. He at least knows which fork to use in what soup course when dining with the Brit royals. And he might even take wife Sophie—what mother does not want to check out current wedding ideas for that time she might be mother-of-the-bride.

The prime minister might as well get his fill of all this silliness of having royalty for Canada while he can. They are kind of cute. They are like the pandas that are about to leave the Toronto Zoo. We were watching a news clip of one of the little buggers playing in the snow the other day and the wife said she was glad we went down to the city to see them. She knows I would not cross the street to see the Brit royals. That is despite that Brit royals likely bath more often than pandas.

But I might send an idea for a new money maker to our lottery people. We could have a huge pool on how long we expect Harry’s Megan to put up with all that being royal crap. I expect the old Queen has insisted on an iron-clad pre-nuptial agreement. (She is not about to share the crown jewels.) My guess is that this wedding for Megan will be good for about three years.

Have a great Valentine’s Day!

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

The President who would be King.

Wednesday, November 8th, 2017

If U. S. President Donald Trump could just live up to his tweets, he would be more interesting—and maybe deadly. Since winning the American presidency, he has been creating a cottage industry among writers trying to understand him. He makes the understanding more difficult, because he himself has no idea how to handle his job.

The truth seems to be that Trump would rather be king.

His spare time role as an insomniac allows him to use his thumbs to type his royal proclamations. He twits about what he would like to do. When he can type “off with their head” he is happiest. His staff ignore him. When he tells us that he is going to war, the generals have a chuckle.

The twits Trump tweets are more for his followers than the nation. They please the uncouth and uninformed and stun the news media. And nobody seems to take them seriously.

Not that he has not noticed. He has been complaining lately about being ignored. He does not like it. He wants the Federal Bureau of Investigation to investigate Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party and not waste its time on Russia and the help that country might have given his campaign. He seems to have a disconnect in his mind that his loyal friend Jeff Sessions is Attorney General and the FBI reports to him. We will probably see the “Off with his head” twit first because Trump does have the power to fire Sessions.

The Trump Presidency will be an unusual bump in the history of the United States of America. He moves his royal entourage from castle to castle up and down the U.S. East Coast at whim. He needs a bigger plane for his foreign forays. He wants to take his armies with him. Those foreigners would have to listen to him then.

It is getting a bit dicey for Trump when he interferes in the American judicial system. It is probably alright in the case of the sick man who ran people down in New York as he is unlikely to ever be released from whatever type of institution in which he needs to be incarcerated. It was the judge in an army deserter’s case who cited Trump’s interference for suggesting the soldier be shot. The judge let the guy off with a discharge from the army.

Maybe he might be less bellicose if everyone shouted, “Hail Donald!”?

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Can a prince quit being a prince?

Sunday, August 13th, 2017

Wearing a bowler hat and a trench coat, the Windsor’s Prince Philip walked off into the sunset recently.  You would suppose that scene should be followed by the words “Cut” and “Print” but is that how it happens? He might be 96 and well past his prime but is that how you do it?

Maybe Philip wants to open a seniors’ royal old-age home. If he is not willing to do his duties cutting ribbons at supermarket openings, does he have to move out of the royal’s palaces? Or does his 91-year old wife continue to support him? After all, she has been sitting on the Throne of Westminster for 65 years now and you would think the royal bum would be a bit sore.

And that means that Charles, Prince of Wales, at 68, is already a senior citizen. Is Philip setting an example for him? If Philip can step away from his royal duties, cannot Charles join him? It solves the problem of all those monarchists who want Bill and Kate and their cute kids to take over Buckingham Palace.

If they had a Commonwealth wide vote on it, Bill and Kate would win hands down. It is a pity that the monarchy does not work that way.

But then if a monarchy worked the way their subjects wanted it to, then it would not be a real monarchy, would it?

And frankly, I believe that modern democracy and monarchy are incompatible concepts. In Canada, the monarchy is a silly anachronism, left to fester by politicians afraid for themselves if the citizens ever demanded a proper constitution.

Canada is one of the few countries in the world wherein the citizens have had so little say in how their country is governed. From the time when the United Empire Loyalists fled north from the American Revolution, we have been pandering to the British monarchy.

It is interesting to append that with the thought that the one time we had a say on our constitution was on Conservative Prime Minister Mulroney’s foolish Charlottetown Accord that was supported by the Liberal Opposition. Canadians said “No.”

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Queen advises: “Take a deep breath.”

Tuesday, December 27th, 2016

We can all buy into that advice. It was directed mainly to Great Britain in Queen Elizabeth’s Christmas message to the Commonwealth. It was obviously related to the surprise Brexit vote by Britain earlier in 2016. It is also excellent advice for the rest of the world judging by the recent antics of the American President Elect.

And please bear in mind that this writer is no monarchist. We consider the fact of Canada having a monarch to be archaic, outmoded, restraining and sending a wrong message about Canada to the rest of the world. And that is just part of the problem. While the Queen is a nice lady and takes her job seriously is no reason for Canadians to continue to go along with such an anachronistic and foolish fable.

And for Justin Trudeau to continue the fiction is an insult to Canadians that goes back to the speeches of Sir Wilfrid Laurier in support of the monarchy.

We can no longer band-aid the problems we have with a Senate that does not work for us. We have to have bipartisan appointments to the Supreme Court, not elitist appointments. Some people want to change how we vote but before that happens, we need to decide what positions we are voting for and how the government needs to be structured in the 21st Century. We do not live in the past and we do not need a system of government that was a best guess of the British Parliament at how we should run our country 150 years ago.

Canada needs to take action to create a democratically elected constitutional assembly that can study these questions with open minds and then come back to the people with a plan to bring our country into the present. And the people can then have their say.

Canada is our country. We build it bigger, stronger and more into the kind of country we want it to be every day with our labor, our intellect, our needs and our wishes. We should always remember that our representatives in Ottawa report to us. We elect them and we can elect those to replace them. Never underestimate the power of the people. And if that thought should amuse you, you should pay closer attention to what happened in Great Britain and the U.S.A. in the past year.

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Copyright 2016 © Peter Lowry

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

An appropriate salute to Queen Victoria.

Monday, May 23rd, 2016

The following is a repeat of our 2013 salute to Queen Victoria. Nothing has changed. Enjoy your long weekend.

Happy birthday Your Majesty! As children in Ontario, we used to set off fireworks to celebrate your birthday. It was a joyous occasion. It was wonderful to know that the sun never set on your empire. We were all British subjects. You were the image of our strength. You were a moral compass. We all got passing grades in our loyalty.

But times have changed lady! You have been dead for some 113 years. The children that you spawned to repopulate the palaces of Europe are long gone. Your great-great granddaughter, Elizabeth II is fast coming up on your length of service to your people as one of the few reigning monarchs left in the world. When she joins you in history, there are no bets on where the English royals are headed.

Elizabeth II has certainly done a fine job on shoring up the monarchy but her own son, the Prince of Wales is one of the stumbling blocks. There is just no respect for a man who was provided with a story-book princess. She gave him a couple of nice kids but he was too busy boffing an old flame. The demise of the princess almost turned into a public relations disaster for the Brit royalty.

So how do we honour you Victoria? What is appropriate in Canada to recognize the sovereign who was the midwife of our Confederation? In a few more years, Canada will celebrate 150 years. It is way past time to release us from your apron strings. Canada has proved its loyalty in the blood of wars and support in times of need. We should, in your honour, write a new constitution for this country, this Canada.

Canada has surpassed its origins. We have welcomed the peoples of the world. We are not just English or French anymore. We are all languages, all races, all religions and our perspective is of peace and hope and progress and compassion. Sorry Madam but a country such as this must stand on its own.

And it is also past time when we need to recognize our needs as a country. We tried to import your Parliament of Westminster to this new land and failed. We have the weaknesses in our parliamentary structure that Oliver Cromwell noted hundreds of years ago. We have been unable to patch them with the customs evolved over time as has Westminster. Our version of a House of Lords is a sham. Outdated, misused and misunderstood, the Canadian Senate has failed. It needs modern thinking.

Canadians pride themselves on their democracy. Yet we need checks and balances to the power of our Prime Minister’s Office. We need to distance our court and administrative agency appointments from politics of the day. We have much to rethink. And even if we reason that the time is long past for a royal head of state, in Ontario at least, we will be sure to keep our Victoria Day long weekend holiday.

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Copyright 2013 and 2016 © Peter Lowry

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

Impatient for democratic reform?

Saturday, March 26th, 2016

The federal Minister of Democratic Institutions Maryam Monsef must have the easiest job in Ottawa. Sure, she is new to the job and has lots to learn but so far, she has had it easy. Even her announcement of the Senate of Canada appointment process was made easy. She made it last December along with Liberal House Leader Dominic LeBlanc. It was LeBlanc who did the heavy lifting.

Not that the Senate solution was anything impressive. It was an elitist solution to appointing elites. It was a singularly unimpressive temporary solution. The Senate of Canada is an anachronism that exists only because of Canada’s constitutional constipation. If we had a real and hard-working Minister of Democratic Institutions, reform of the senate would be high on the docket list of important reforms.

Like many first and second generation Canadians, the Minister is probably reluctant to touch the monarchy file. This writer is a sixth generation Canadian and he has been fed up with the claptrap about the monarchy since being indoctrinated in Grade 3 of our Ontario school system. There is nothing more meaningless and embarrassing to Canadians than our foreign monarch and her dysfunctional family.

But even if we continue to have democratic institution ministers who are afraid of Canada’s silly monarchist supporters, we have got to do something about the governor general. This is elitist to the extreme to house and use some supposedly patrician Canadian who can only do as the prime minister tells him or her and carry on as though they are performing some important duty. We could hire an actor to do the job much cheaper.

Of course we are all waiting for the democratic Institutions minister’s big scene when she appoints a committee of the House of Commons to decide how Canadians will vote. Her role here is to make Prime Minister Justin Trudeau look good about keeping his promise. That is the promise that 2015 was the last time Canadians would use First-Past-The-Post voting to choose their Member of Parliament.

The minister’s problem is that the Conservatives will agree to nothing and the New Democrats want proportional voting. If the Liberal majority picks preferential voting (indicating your first, second and third choice to create a mock-majority) and no other party supports them, there would be no credibility to a change without a referendum. And good luck on that!

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Copyright 2016 © Peter Lowry

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

In the doldrums of a Canadian winter.

Sunday, January 31st, 2016

Not even Bonhomme Carnaval can cure the January-February blahs this year. Eating and drinking too much in Quebec City might be a popular pastime at this time of year but you also used to have the option of heading south soon afterward. Sure you can. If you can find a warm spot where our 70-cent loonie is appreciated?

Even those of us staying at home are looking at prices in the grocery store and grinding our teeth. And we are still paying a lot more for gasoline than we should be at the current prices of crude oil. We even growled at the nice people down at the tire place when they had to replace a valve in one of our snow tires. Mind you, for $40, you are entitled to growl about it.

Catching up on the current flag debate in New Zealand yesterday shows how desperate we are for new topics to comment on. It is about time the Kiwis got themselves a flag that can be distinguished from the Aussie flag. The only problem is that the most common term used for the debate on a new flag there is “desultory.” Compared to the rousing Canadian debate of half a century ago, the Kiwis are putting people to sleep.

The other problem for New Zealand is that they were fearful of a debate over the monarchy and they have shoved that subject to the back burner. That is just as stupid as us Canucks with our heads in the snow and ignoring the need to rid our country of the British monarchy.

The Brit monarchy is not half bad compared to the spawn of Victoria giving monarchs a bad name on the continent but you do realize do you not that this is the 21st Century? Here we are trying to promote equality between our citizens, our genders and our preferred languages and we continue a silly anachronism such as the monarchy.

We can change our constitution in a civilized way or we can have a revolution. The idea of revolution might appeal to some of us but they would have no clue as to who to shoot.

And we could never have a revolution in winter anyway. Not enough Canadians want to go outside to play at this time of year. And then in summer, we are too busy mowing the lawn at our cottages.

And the other problem is the otherwise healthy readership of Babel-on-the-Bay drops like a rock when we discuss such boring subjects as the monarchy. So what would you like to discuss next?

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Copyright 2016 © Peter Lowry

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

Justin: On electoral versus constitutional reform.

Saturday, January 30th, 2016

In a sit-down conversation with Justin Trudeau about six years ago, it was immediately obvious that he is an emotional person and as easy to read as an open book. Other than being eager to get him into a poker game, it was interesting to test his reaction to some basic political propositions. While he is fervent on electoral reform, his eyes cloud over when you mention changing the constitution. He does not see dealing with Canada’s constitution as anything other than a lose-lose proposition.

Despite still being a teenager at the time, Justin obviously absorbed more of his late father’s attitudes about the Meech Lake machinations and the failed Charlottetown Accord than he admits. As a Quebec MP, Justin has obviously tried to leave these issues behind while emulating the more modern Québécois. His approach seemed to be working on election day as Quebec contributed handsomely to the Liberal majority.

Trudeau’s stance on electoral reform is also more emotional than considered. His stated preference for the ‘instant run-off” of a preferential vote would have likely provided his party with more than 30 additional seats in parliament in the October election. As he won a majority anyway, he did not need those potential second votes.

And cooler heads in the Liberal Party will warn him against giving in to the smaller parties’ desire for a proportional voting system. Majority governments are rare with proportional voting systems.

But Justin’s basic problem remains that there is too much real change needed that requires constitutional rather than electoral reform. The silly elitist solution he has come up with for Senate reform is going to come back and bite him. If he really does appoint non-political independent elites to the Senate, they will act that way and his government will have just as hard a time passing legislation as he would have without making any appointments to the Senate.

He did not disagree when we delved into a list of problems that Canada’s constitution had built up in the more than 140 years our country had existed at the time.

In our conversation those six years ago, we suggested changing the role of the Governor General. He liked the idea but ruled it out when we suggested turning all Canada’s constitutional problems over to an elected constitutional congress. Mind you, he looked thoughtful when we mentioned dumping the monarchy and looking at a presidential system of government.

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Copyright 2016 © Peter Lowry

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