Posts Tagged ‘Trudeau’

Lies. And Trudeau-Trump lies.

Sunday, March 26th, 2017

You have come to expect it in the daily reports from the American White House. You know that the man in the White House tells lies. You just do not expect it from the guy in charge in Ottawa.

And you already knew that the guy in charge at the White House does not give a damn about the environment. You are more conflicted by the guy in Ottawa. This guy says he wants to save the environment and makes a big show of it. And then he approves doubling the Kinder Morgan pipeline over the Rockies to pump diluted bitumen to an ocean port. And he is a cheerleader for President Trump approving TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline to the Texas Gulf.

Of course, there is nothing new about the guff that Trump spews for the American news media. He even believes there are American jobs to be had. He had Russ Sperling, president of TransCanada Corporation in his office for the announcement. Sperling would have tripled the number of jobs created by that pipeline to get more bitumen to that Texas port. Hell, he might consider putting Trump’s grandmother on the payroll if that would help.

But it is not going to pave the way past all those environmentalists in the American Midwest who are digging their own trenches for the coming Keystone Wars. This question is not resolved by a long shot. Trump can try to call out the Nebraska National Guard if he likes but Keystone is going to have to run over a lot of environmentalist barricades on its way to the sea.

Trump appears to be drinking his own bath water though when he uses the usual untruths about Keystone. The American jobs Trump was going on about will be fleeting and if the entire line from Alberta to Texas involves as many as 400 maintenance jobs, it will be generous.

But by no stretch of the imagination will Alberta tar sands bitumen make North America self sufficient in ersatz oil. Nor will bitumen-based synthetic oil be cheaper. The greedy bastards who want to pipe the bitumen down the line will hardly be happy until the price of crude oil again hits the US$80 mark. And if we really tried to use bitumen-based oil to supply North America, we would all be knee deep in bitumen slag from trying to refine so much bitumen into synthetic oil.

It seems to be common knowledge now that Donald Trump usually does not know what he is talking about. What is Justin Trudeau’s excuse?

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Shell bites the bitumen bullet.

Monday, March 20th, 2017

This story takes us back to the 1970s and a lengthy discussion with a board member of Royal Dutch Shell. He was a “works committee” member of the board and our discussion was enlightening. He represented the employees of Shell on its board and was a highly-respected university professor. He was in Toronto visiting his son who was also a professor at York University.

At the time this writer was giving lectures at universities across Ontario on the social responsibility of business. We had been intrigued by the then current agreement with the union for Shell Canada’s workers at the Sarnia refinery. It was an intelligent document that recognized the responsibilities of both the workers and the employers. In effect, it seemed to say ‘we are all adults here and we need to carry out our responsibilities in a mutually respectful manner.’ That was not the usual preamble in other union agreements at the time.

To the European professor this did not seem unusual. He was more intrigued with the problems North Americans create with their more adversarial industrial relations. At the same time, he was interested in the concept of good citizenship for international companies in the countries where they operated. At the time, we recognized pollution from petroleum-based products as a mainly urban problem but was not yet being addressed as a world-wide problem. We were only starting to learn about recovering oil from tar sands.

But more recently the concern has been: What is a responsible company such as Royal Dutch Shell doing in the Alberta tar sands? Shell even had the Quest Carbon Capture project that was burying a million tons of carbon per year from upgrading tar sands bitumen to synthetic crude oil. Despite this and other efforts, Shell finally said “No” to the tar sands. It took a loss in the billions. It bought out minority investors such as Marathon Oil and sold out at billions less than cost to Calgary-based Canadian Natural Resources.

It cost the Canadian conglomerate close to $13 billion but at the bargain price from Shell, it can make money at prices for crude of less than $50 per barrel.

But to make back the billions it cost, Canadian Natural Resources needs those pipelines to tidewater promised by Justin Trudeau and Donald Trump.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Is Trudeau fighting out of his weight class?

Friday, March 17th, 2017

The reason why boxing promoters will not allow a lightweight boxer to take on a heavyweight is that the lightweight might not last two minutes. The lightweight might be fast on his feet but the heavyweight only needs to land one punch. That is why Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau needs all the help he can get to take on U.S. President Trump.

The most urgent problem today is the proposed cuts in the American Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Trump hardly gives a damn about the environment. He has shown that with his decisions on pipelines and coal mines. Maybe he did not know that the EPA is responsible for U.S. federal support in keeping the Great Lakes clean and fit to provide water for millions of Americans. Those Americans include those in some states that were key in winning the presidency for Trump.

And it is not as though it is a matter of talking Trump out of some of his positions or getting him to like Justin Trudeau. He forgets. Even in his recent speech to Congress, he made several conflicting statements. He is erratic. He does not give a damn about Canadians. They are just like Americans to him. Only they seem to want to live where it can get cold.

One of the biggest mistakes Trudeau might have made is the Canadian ambassador in Washington. Of course, the choice of David MacNaughton as ambassador was made before the Trump disaster happened. No doubt with a Clinton presidency, MacNaughton would have been right at home. As it is now he is going to need constant hand-holding by the trained diplomats. He is no political problem solver. He proved that when he was Justin Trudeau’s point man for Ontario in the last election. The appointment was his reward for the Liberals winning, That was despite his being so obviously out of touch with what was really happening in Ontario.

To make matters worse Trump has Trudeau buffaloed as well. Trudeau thought he made the right impression when he and Trump met. Trump forgot the Canadian’s name as he went out the door. And how does he think he will handle Trump’s reopening of the mid-term emissions controls for new automobiles? It looks like an attempt to release all auto manufacturing controls in North America and is in direct conflict with Canada’s objectives.

Is Trump the Darth Vader who takes Trudeau over to the dark side.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

What happened in Saint-Laurent?

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

All rebellions have to start somewhere. And it looks like Justin Trudeau miscalculated and let one start in the Quebec electoral district of Saint-Laurent. The riding had been held by Stéphane Dion until Trudeau bounced him from the cabinet and sent him to be ambassador to the European Union and Germany. It looks like the Liberals in Saint-Laurent started the revolution without their good friend Stéphane.

Despite Trudeau refusing to authorize the candidacy of his choice’s most likely competitor, his candidate lost anyway. Yolande James, a former immigration minister in the Jean Charest provincial cabinet and more recently a commentator on politics for Radio-Canada was defeated. She was defeated by a previously unknown 26-year old high school teacher who lives in the electoral district.

The word is that the chosen candidate’s name is Emmanuella Lambropolus and she was more surprised than anyone else when she won. She had assumed that she would be defeated when she heard of Justin Trudeau’s choice of James. Rather than give up, she and her team just kept on working. They must have wanted to make as good a showing as possible.

It does not speak well for Justin Trudeau’s judgement. He had trouble in dumping Stéphane Dion even with the plum diplomatic assignment. And then he left what he thought were minor opponents to make the nomination meeting look a little more democratic. That bit him on the bum.

But what we are really puzzled about is the political acumen of a Radio-Canada political commentator who gets parachuted into a riding and thinks they do not have to work for the nomination. What we tell every potential candidate is that your nomination campaign has to be a sample of the hard work you are promising your supporters in the coming election.

Hard work is obviously no stranger to the winning candidate. She fought for her riding and she won. And she taught Justin Trudeau a lesson that he desperately needed to learn. Never take Liberals for granted.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

And we thought Harper was an autocrat?

Sunday, March 5th, 2017

It was Pierre Trudeau in 1970 who said “Just watch me,” and showed us the real power of the Prime Minister’s Office. Later it was Stephen Harper who showed us how a Prime Minister can abuse that power to use it to his own ends to keep his sheep-like party in power. And yet there is no one challenging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s complete control of the Liberal Party of Canada. He has converted what once was an open and democratic party into a top-down, one-man oligarchy.

The Liberal Party has become Justin Trudeau’s personal automated teller machine (ATM) for non-public funding of what Trudeau authorises. His party executive has become his police to ensure correct thinking in the party. The party organisation is a rubber stamp for those candidates for office he selects.

Toronto Star national affairs writer Chantal Hébert wrote the other day of her surprise at Trudeau’s interference in the Quebec electoral district nomination for the April 3 bye-election in Saint-Laurent. Frankly, many wonder what was the last truly open nomination meeting in Quebec after Trudeau’s own nomination by the party?

Since Stéphane Dion the former M.P. for Saint-Laurent won it in the last nine elections, it is considered greased rails for someone Justin Trudeau wants in his cabinet.

There is no guarantee though in John McCallum’s former Markham-Thornhill riding. It looked ridiculous when the party cut off the new member sign-ups retro-actively. It looked worse when a possible candidate was forced to quit the race. We can only assume there was an acclamation for the candidate from Trudeau’s office. Markham-Thornhill has interesting demographics and it will be the party that has the best ground game and with the correct ethnic balance running up to April 3 that could have the edge in the bye-election.

If Trudeau throws himself into that Toronto area bye-election during March, it will also be interesting to see what Toronto’s concerned environmentalists do to him to show up his hypocrisy. If they miss the opportunity, they are not likely to have another chance until the 2019 election.

And there will not be many Liberals who will have a chance to argue with Trudeau about his environmental betrayal at party gatherings. Policy discussions under his autocratic rule are rigidly regimented. As anyone can call themselves a Liberal, pay no membership fee, it will be the size of the donations to the party that will be noted.

It is very sad to see that a Liberal Party that Pierre Trudeau helped make a leader in promoting individual rights has been neutered by his eldest son.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Is the political middle just one?

Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

Nobody seems to be able to nail down this middle ground in politics. It is like the middle class that Justin Trudeau chased in the last federal election. Did Trudeau even suspect that they would add up to almost 40 per cent of the voters?  And were they all centre-right voters or was there a mix of centre-left voters included?

But somewhere in Canada, there must be that one person who stands squarely in the middle of the political spectrum. Whomever this person might be, could it be another person next week?

And what does this political centre represent? Does it fight to maintain a fully funded Medicare or does it allow the encroachment of for-profit medicine for those who’s money allows them the right to jump the queue? Does this centre encompass environmental standards along with pipelines for tar sand’s bitumen? And how does a centrist government so blindly accept the European trade agreement that was negotiated by a right-wing government?

But does a right of centre government pay out tax money in the form of a child tax benefit? Is this not the same as we used to call a Baby Bonus? And why in the last election did the left-of-centre New Democrats insist on having balanced budgets? Why do these left, right and centrist parties not stay in place to help the voter make a decision?

Yet the truth is that a large part of the Liberal vote in the last federal election came from both the left and right. There was a clear desire across the political spectrum to end the Conservative Party of Canada oligarchy under Stephen Harper. It had run its term. It was tired and needed renewal. It was becoming too mean-spirited and defeated itself.

And we still have no idea whether Canadians expect the Liberal government of Justin Trudeau to rule from the right or the left. As long as the government keeps that ambiguity going, it might keep enough support from both sides to stay in power.

But how far is this government from the ideal of a centrist government? Is it protecting our individual rights and freedoms? Is it addressing the problems connected to our old and creaky constitution or is it wallpapering them? Are its elitist appointments to the Senate and the higher courts just tired solutions of an elitist right? We have chosen a leader but do we know where the hell he is going?

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

More fallout from voting reform.

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

This subject would have been ignored if another commentary on it had not run in the Washington Post. The writer accused the Canadian prime minister of looking “both incompetent and cynical in abandoning the promise of (voting) reform.” It would have become an international incident but we have reason to think the writer is Canadian.

There was also the national day of protest last Saturday organized by Fair Vote Canada. It looked like a couple dozen people turned out in Nathan Philips Square in Toronto with their signs saying Justin Trudeau let them down. There were similar efforts in a few other cities—everyone gets together with their homemade signs, their bluster and their tired arguments and then head for the nearest pub to get warm, quaff a few and argue some more.

It is hardly that Prime Minister Trudeau was being cavalier about the subject. He was obviously sincere—though wrong—when he said in the last election campaign that 2015 was the last election under first-past-the-post. He got the Fair Vote people excited and Canada’s New Democrats and Greens on side fast enough. It proved that he had not read the entrails on that election very well. He seemed to have no idea how well he was going to do.

And it was not as though he did not try to keep his word. He might not have given the file to the smartest member of his cabinet but she seemed to be doing as she was told. After a false start with a Liberal majority committee, he agreed to having a more balanced special committee created to investigate the best route to follow.

That committee certainly worked hard. They listened to so-called experts from across Canada and from selected countries. They even listened—grudgingly—to some non-expert citizens. They spent the summer of 2016 in cloisters in Ottawa doing their duty. They did marathon travelling around the country in the fall. And they filed their report.

They were insulted by Prime Minister Trudeau’s minister for not providing an answer. They did the best job they could. They reported that there is no perfect answer. They reported that Canadians were either divided on the issue, happy with first-past-the-post or possibly just not interested. It was obvious that a great deal more work needed to be done.

So what did anyone expect Prime Minister Trudeau to do? As a politician, he listened to his cabinet, his caucus and to parliament and to the citizens of his country. After due deliberation, he admitted that we will just have to use first-past-the-post again in the next election.

He is not the first politician to break a promise to the voters. He will not be the last. He admitted he made a boo-boo.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Wasted hours in Washington.

Tuesday, February 14th, 2017

Did you think President Trump was going to slice and dice our prime minister for lunch the other day? First of all, Donald Trump seemed to like Justin Trudeau. He would think of Trudeau as a younger version of himself. This young guy was manor born. It is all so easy for him. He was polite and always seemed to say the right things.

If he even thought about it, Trump would seek Trudeau’s approval. More likely it was just some down time to stay out of trouble.

Whoever dreamed up that stunt of the meeting with the female business executives was lucky Trump did not recognize he had been had. It was an effective piece of manipulation.

It is also lucky the current U.S. President is no student of history. He is too young to remember when U.S. President Johnson grabbed Canadian Prime Minister Pearson by the lapels in the Oval Office and told him not to piss on his rug. He would not understand that informality in the relationship between the two countries.

And it is certainly not Trump’s style to put his arms around Trudeau and hug him as President Obama could. Nor would Trump understand President Ronald Regan and Prime Minister Brian Mulroney singing Irish ballads to each other on a stage in Quebec City.

Mind you this could be the reverse of John Kennedy’s relationship with Prime Minister Diefenbaker. Diefenbaker gave Kennedy the creeps.

The worst president-prime minister relationship between the two countries was President Richard Nixon and Justin Trudeau’s father. Nixon was reported to have called the elder Trudeau an asshole. Trudeau later responded that he had been called worse things by better people.

It will probably be a long time before Trudeau writes a memoir and admits how he felt about Trump. It will probably not be flattering.

It was probably just as well that Trudeau brought a lot of back-up from his cabinet. It would have been a waste of time for what Trudeau and Trump got out of that meeting.

Trump looked bored; Trudeau looked wary. Neither could get on to their normal way of doing things soon enough.

The obligatory invitation to Trump to come to Ottawa will be some time in future. Trump is certainly in no rush. He will not be getting an invitation to address Parliament.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Waiting for Mr. Trump.

Monday, February 6th, 2017

The reporters and pundits are causing unnecessary concerns. Does anyone really believe that Justin Trudeau cannot handle a meeting with Donald Trump? What is to worry about? Trudeau meets Trump; each takes a couple selfies; they ask about the respective families; tell each other, we’ve got to get together for a state dinner sometime and kissy, kissy, goodbye. And then act coy with the media.

It is a no-brainer for both leaders. Is there anything that Donald Trump does not think he knows about Canada? Is there anything that Donald Trump might know about American history that school teacher Trudeau does not already know?

Do you think it might be a contest of egos? They both have lots of that. We have never seen Trump without a shirt but he is a lot older than Trudeau and arm-wrestling might be out. Nor would either care to try to outdrink the other. These guys have nothing in common. The possibility that Trump might be a billionaire is not something that would matter to Trudeau. He is comfortably off and would not be impressed. And he knows better billionaires.

And does Trump even know that Canada is a signatory to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)? Does he have a clue as to how the Canada-U.S. Auto Pact came about and what the almost 50-year old agreement means to both countries?

If Trump dares to tear up NAFTA, Americans are going to find that the fool is playing a zero-sum game. Trade is a two-way street. For every Canadian or Mexican he puts out of work, he can count on losing an American job. Trump could drive all of North America into a depression.

The truth is that Donald Trump is a bully. We all saw how he backed off when he met the Mexican President during last fall’s campaign. He gushed like a school girl when meeting British Prime Minister May recently. He will be hopelessly jealous of Trudeau’s relative youth and good looks.

But he does not seem to multi-task well. That can be beneficial to a business person who takes on one task at a time but the U.S. presidency requires an incumbent who can quickly move from one problem to the next. The Canadian’s visit will be a vague memory the day after they meet.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Weep not for vote reform.

Saturday, February 4th, 2017

Among each successive generation there are those who seek to change how we elect our representatives to run our cities, our provinces and our country. Good for them. It is important that we think about it. We need to be sure we have the best system possible. And we do. Now that we have completed our study, we have moved the file to the bottom of the pile as there are other issues to address.

You will notice that Prime Minister Trudeau did not dispense with the department with the removal of Mariam Monsef as minister of democratic institutions. He gave the job to M.P. Karina Gould who is also a newcomer to government but with an impressive curriculum vitae. And while taking away voting reform in the new mandate letter, her challenges are no less daunting.

The Senate situation is far from solved. Appointments to our courts, commissions and crown corporations can hardly be handled by elitist selection committees. The concern for cyber security implies that the government and Elections Canada would like to move firmly in the direction of Internet voting. There is certainly a long way to go in bringing some sunshine on political fundraising and spending by parties and third parties in elections. Launching an independent body to arrange election debates is also long overdue as is fixing the falsely named Fair Elections Act. And if she can find time to address the problems with the Access to Information Act, the prime minister thinks it will be a job well done.

But what the prime minister fails to address are the concerns about his power and the control over the government exercised by the Prime Minister’s Office. This could be the greatest challenge we face. Every time someone says that the Donald Trump situation could not happen here, we wonder how much worse it could be. There are checks and balances in the constitution of our neighbours in America that do not exist in our parliamentary system. There could easily be a time when Trump will wish he could shut down Congress as easily as our prime minister can prorogue parliament.

Canada has a constitution designed for a parliamentary system rich in precedent. All we missed was the precedents. Maybe because we never had to contend with an Oliver Cromwell, we lack some safeguards.

It is about time Canada took a hard look at its constitutional problems. It might even justify the cost of a department to worry about our democratic institutions. It is also long past time for our country to assemble a democratically elected constitutional parliament to propose some constitutional amendments to the voters. God knows we cannot get our politicians to address the mounting problems.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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