Posts Tagged ‘Trudeau’

As the world wearies of Trump.

Thursday, January 26th, 2017

This is a bad sign. A world becoming wearied of President Trump already? It signifies an acceptance of something abnormal and dangerous. When the king seats his fool on the throne, is the fool now king?

And if you accept the largess of the fool while the fool sits on the throne, are you not the greater fool?

When a Trump triumphant fouls the fabric of common sense, silences science, pardons polluters and panders to the providers of pipelines, is he not the fool?

But are those of us concerned about our environment being gamed? There are many steps to go before this Keystone XL pipeline is put into its bed of earth. In the two years of delay given to us by President Obama, other routes have been utilized. And is there really a need for a glut of tar sands bitumen reaching the Texas Gulf ports when the pipeline is finished?

And who are the real fools when Prime Minister Trudeau and Alberta’s Premier Rachel Notley cheer approval of President Trump’s executive order to bring the pipeline back on the construction schedule? Are there really jobs to be saved north of the U.S. border? Or is it just more destruction of the Alberta landscape as settling ponds overgrow the environment.

An Associated Press photographer was allowed into the Oval Office to photograph the President with his signed executive order. It was interesting to see the increased bagginess under the eyes, the unkempt white hair, the growing flaccidness of his 70-year old face and the hardness of Mr. Trump’s expression. This is a man pushing himself as though the devil is about to foreclose on their pact.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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When a leader betrays a Canadian legacy.

Monday, January 23rd, 2017

There was a time back in the Pearson-Trudeau era when tensions ran through English-French relations at the usual flash points in Montreal and Ottawa. And those of us not fully bilingual were the bruised. It is sad to tell of the disappointments suffered from those you had supported so fiercely.

That is why so many Canadians were understandably annoyed with Justin Trudeau last week in his Quebec town-hall meetings. For the Prime Minister to refuse to answer an English language question (about language rights) in English to an Anglophone questioner was both ignorant and ridiculous. If his late father had been witness to that immature lack of judgement, he would have wanted to spank him.

Justin Trudeau used the thin and fallacious argument that as they were in Quebec, he should answer in French. Somebody got to him afterwards and it needs to be reported that he did apologize later but the damage was done.

Insulting people over their limitations in one or another of our official languages can be very foolish. Many of us have spend a great deal of time and money over the years to try to improve our fluency. This is not always an easy task when you do not have an ear for languages. Back when this writer was building a new Quebec division of the Canadian Multiple Sclerosis Society, it was necessary to give a series of talks to people across Quebec. It took a great deal of discipline and practice to learn to give those talks in French. It was very gratifying in some ways that in the question period afterwards that people assumed a competence in the language that really did not exist.

But it is also why we laugh, in turn, at millionaire Kevin O’Leary who seems to think he is God’s gift to the Conservative Party. This guy, who was born in Quebec, more than 60 years ago, attended Quebec colleges and Royal Military College Saint-Jean where he could have become bilingual—and did not. It is just so unlikely that he could become bilingual at this stage of his life that it is laughable.

The last federal Conservative leader in Canada who did not speak French was John George Diefenbaker. While a conservative populist, as O’Leary considers himself, Diefenbaker respected Canada’s official languages. O’Leary has obviously never cared.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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Even an elite Senate needs direction.

Thursday, January 19th, 2017

It seems you cannot keep a newspaper person from writing. Even with a sinecure such as a guaranteed salary for sitting in the Senate (until age 75) former La Presse editor André Pratte keeps writing. The past week it was a piece he wrote for the Toronto Star on why an evolving Senate must adapt.

As a so-called independent senator, Pratte might just be biting the hand that feeds him. Mind you, he does say that the institution is changing at “lightening speed.” Whether for the better would be a judgement call. He does say that spending controls are in place—an improvement to be sure.

The only qualification on this lightening speed of change is that they do have to wait until enough senators turn 75 and retire for the independents to really rule the roost. The only problem he notes is that the independent senators are disorganized. Well, what a surprise that is!

Why it should matter is anybody’s guess. Elites in our Canadian society tend to be apolitical. You hardly have time for politics if you busy being an elite and loved by one and all. Elites are typically above the political. They look down on it as a tawdry profession.

And that is who Prime Minister Trudeau is busily putting in the Senate as soon as space is available. Basically, they seem to be people who consider their new profession to be beneath them. Do they only take it for the money?

Back when we had political parties in the Senate, we knew what we were up against. With Trudeau’s elites running the Second Chamber you will never know what you are getting.

It seems that Pratte has found out that the Senate of Canada has considerable powers and he deplores the coming lack of direction without the political guidance that was there in the party senators. He even thinks that this situation needs to be rethought. He does not seem to have any idea how the lack of political guidance can be fixed.

Obviously Prime Minister Justin Trudeau never thought it through either. It was just another thought from the lip. He really needs to book some thinking time into his daily schedule.

And as for writer Pratte, we suggest that he reread George Orwell’s Animal Farm. Finding out why some pigs are more equal than others might help him understand Canada’s Senate dilemma.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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When a friend gives a friend a lift.

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

This is not the prime minister’s problem. It must be the ethics and conflict of interest commissioner’s problem. This commissioner acts independently and reports to parliament on those issues that might involve the ethics or any conflict of interest on the part of federally elected persons. We hear that she is currently looking into a helicopter ride for Prime Minister Trudeau and his family to reach the private island of the Aga Khan in the Bahamas.

Forget the fact that the Aga Khan is the world-wide spiritual leader of about 25 million Ismaili Shia Muslims and he is one of the most progressive (and richest) leaders in the Muslim world. The Trudeau’s spent their Christmas break visiting the Aga Khan—who is a family friend.

And what do you do when a family friend sends a car to the airport to pick up you and the family. You accept graciously. You do not worry about checking first with the ethics and conflict of interest commissioner. It would be rude to the family friend. Do you offer to pay a friend whatever the cost for driver and fuel might be? Really?

The fact that the car in this case is a helicopter is irrelevant. If you can own an island in the Bahamas, having a private helicopter is just a convenience. There is only one major commercial airport for all those islands and having a helicopter is a smart move. And since it is the Aga Khan’s helicopter you would expect it to have both first-class maintenance and maybe even some divine intervention when flying in rough weather.

The ethics and conflict of interest commissioner has a tough job. We often wondered during the Harper years where the line was drawn for the PM’s personal hairdresser. It is certainly obvious that Justin Trudeau does not have a hairdresser, no matter how badly he needs one.

And we also think that the PM and his family have a complaint for the ethics commissioner. It is about the news media. Parliament goes to a good deal of expense and inconvenience to accommodate Canada’s fourth estate. They block corridors, ignore fire regulations, set up microphones where they want and generally create a nuisance. And to make matters worse, when the PM and his family want some private time on a family break, the media are complaining that he must be doing something sneaky and secret.

Christmas might be a Christian holiday but the entire country understands that Christmas and New Year’s are important times to be with family and friends. The ethics commissioner needs to remind the press gallery about their lack of manners.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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Put in a word for us when you see the PM.

Saturday, January 14th, 2017

So, what are you going to tell the prime minister? He’s coming to see you. You just need to contact your Liberal M.P. to get an invitation. He is not coming to our riding. We lost to the Conservatives by 86 votes.

And please do not ask the PM if it is cold enough for him. He is a Canadian. He knows about our winters. Besides, he just got back after he and the family spent some warm time at the Bahamian island of the Aga Khan.

But now it is back to reality and the grind and the PM wants to know what is on your mind. The poor guy has so many newbies in his cabinet that they are not making as much progress as he would like. He wants you to help kick-start them with some good ideas.

And believe it or not, he wants to spend money. Lots of it. He not only promised us a deficit of 180 billion dollars but there is more if you need it. His finance minister Bill Morneau wants us to buy into an idea where we get investors around the world to pay for our infrastructure needs. All these investors with deep pockets have to do is pay for it and they get a nice revenue stream once the idea starts to make money.

One idea is that now—if ever—is the time for Canada to get into the world-wide craze for high-speed rail lines. What we are talking about is getting from Toronto Union Station to Montreal Central Station in one and a half hours. That is far faster than by Air Canada, is more comfortable and does not pollute.

If you like, you can impress Mr. Trudeau by pointing out that we are just about the last major country in the world to join this parade. Tell him that in Uzbekistan, you can get from Tashkent to Samarkand (about the same distance as Montreal to Toronto) by a 250 km/h train.

The beauty of getting people to invest in trains and other forms of transit is that there is revenue flow. It means the investor can be assured of a flow of profit from the investment. Whether the investor is Canadian or European—where there are now hundreds of high-speed trains criss-crossing the continent (and England)—is not as important as our need in Canada to move people and goods efficiently and without pollution.

But that is our hobby horse. It is absolutely beyond us why there is so little progress in this field in Canada—a country that was created by railroads. You might have another idea that could be as good. Go for it. Justin Trudeau has come to listen.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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Culling Canada’s Cabinet.

Thursday, January 12th, 2017

Cabinet making and cabinet tending are different requirements of a prime minister. Those were sunny days in late 2015 when Prime Minister Trudeau chose his first cabinet. Change can come quickly at busy times. What we have to realize is that his perspective on the need for change is quite different from our perspectives.

Trudeau has direct contact with his ministers while we get most of our impressions through the filter of the news media.

But despite this difference, we can well understand most of his changes. The most difficult for him must have been the retiring of foreign affairs minister Stéphane Dion. While we will reserve judgement on replacing Dion with newcomer Chrystia Freeland, the job could be more of a challenge for her than she expects. Misogynists such as Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin will tend to ignore her.

And she is following a class act. Stéphane Dion got a bum rap from the Liberal Party and voters. No, he does not communicate well in English but he is probably the smartest foreign affairs minister we have had since the days of Lester Pearson.

Trudeau had to do something about democratic institutions minister Miriam Monsef. Watching her in action has been a bit of a surprise. She has that porcelain prettiness of Persian women without their usual reticence. It was her outspokenness in dumping the blame on the special committee’s report for a lack of direction in her portfolio that got her in the most trouble.

The only surprise was the removal of John McCallum. There was a point late last year when we were curious about the reported comment of the immigration minister that we should go slower on accepting Syrian refugees. That seemed to be the opposite to Trudeau’s gung-ho approach and we were wondering if McCallum’s natural conservatism was running counter to Trudeau’s neoliberalism. Any rift between them could not be that bad if McCallum is now being trusted to handle relations with China as our ambassador. Bejing has the capability of replacing much of the trade we currently have with the United States if Trump foolishly tears up the North American free trade Agreement (NAFTA).

We will have comments on the newbies in cabinet once they have been briefed and ready to talk to the media.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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Let’s march to our own drummer.

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017

It was hardly a surprise when the Prime Minister’s Office said he was not attending Donald Trump’s inauguration in Washington next week. Frankly, the Canadian prime minister would just be in the way. It was more of a surprise that he would not be attending the concurrent world economic conference in Davos, Switzerland. It seems that our Prime Minister has decided he would rather talk to some Canadians that week.

It reminds us of the 1972 federal election that Pierre Trudeau almost lost because he said he was going to have a conversation with Canadians. It was because of that resulting minority government that Pierre Trudeau brought more political people into his office and gave Liberal organizer Keith Davey his old job back.

But there is no concern over our current prime minister missing Donald Trump’s inauguration and ‘celebration.’ And, frankly, the after parties could be quite depressing. Nor would Trump would want someone younger and better looking to compete with on the inauguration stage. He suffers enough just standing near outgoing President Obama. Obama’s eight years in the Oval Office have certainly greyed his hair but he is still a lot younger than his replacement.

It was quite a reach the other day when a writer tried to compare the impact Franklin Roosevelt had as President of the U.S. to the potential impact of Donald Trump. Trump might be a change-agent businessman but he is a special maverick breed of businessman: a developer. They play by different rules. It is like in the movie business, you are only as good as your last blockbuster. And besides, Roosevelt cared about people other than himself. Many would argue he was the greatest President Americans ever had.

Somebody must have said something to the powers that be in the Prime Minister’s office about the perceived elitism of our prime minister. Last year at the Davos gathering of the rich and famous, Justin Trudeau was the flavour of the month. Maybe there were just too many pictures fed back to Canada of him cavorting with the moneyed of the world. This year, those of us who belong to the hoi polloi get him.

We certainly hope that we will get him more fairly distributed than when the special parliamentary committee on electoral reform visited with Canadians last summer. More than 13 million Canadians in Ontario got a half day visit in Toronto while many smaller provinces got two or three visits.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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Not everyone hates Premier Wynne.

Friday, January 6th, 2017

It is too bad that Ontario Premier Wynne has no politically smart advisors or staff. Here it is the first week of 2017 and the foolish lady is deep in the do-do of her own making.

By selecting the beginning of January to launch her ill-fated cap and trade program, she has been ripped off by the oil companies who multiplied her increases by four to five times. Wynne’s average of 4.4 cents per litre on cap and trade might not have caused a ruckus but 16 to 20 cents per litre was the increase the voters saw at the pumps.

And Ontario residents are complaining about Wynne and her Liberals instead of the rapacious oil companies. How politically astute is that?

Obviously, Wynne’s timing sucks. The oil companies can come up with all kinds of reasons for their increases. Wynne should have dumped the cap and trade deal with Quebec and California and supported the Trudeau government’s carbon tax. That would have let Prime Minister Trudeau take the blame for the increase. He has some goodwill to spare; Wynne does not.

The basic problem is that the voters do not understand cap and trade. To voters a tax is a tax. Most can understand a carbon tax. And even more voters understand global warming. There might be a cause and effect confusion here but most can understand that gasoline and diesel engines pollute our air.

But cap and trade is a system based on industry wide negotiations with politicians to set caps on emissions. If you come under the cap, you might have some emissions to trade with a company that cannot meet its commitments. This trade goes on between companies. The public is not advised of what is going on between companies but pays for it in retail prices.

In simple terms a carbon tax is an open and easy to understand system. Cap and trade is a largely hidden and hard to understand system. And with Ontario and Quebec firms trading with California companies, who knows what is going on?

Quite frankly, it is our opinion that Kathleen Wynne is not suited to politics. Her only reason for winning the 2014 provincial election was that the she had no opposition. Timmy Hudak of the Conservatives and Andrea Horwath of the New Democrats handed her that election on a platter.

And we are heading for a situation where history can repeat itself. The New Democrats cannot find a replacement for loser Horwath. And that putz Patrick Brown who stole the Conservative leadership does not have a clue as to how to get his caucus behind him. People are finally figuring out that he has no direction for the Conservative Party and he is incapable of leading a boy scout troop.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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In the quiet before the storm.

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

It is the ho-hum time between New Year’s and the real reasons for having a January. In our area, that just means more damn snow. At least the ski hills are buzzing.

But we want to talk about how we vote and who we vote for and what’s wrong with our constitution. For a political junky, that is our life’s blood. And yah, we know—it’s can be a snore to many. We can read our readership stats and we know that subject can cause readership to plummet. And how can we get people to pay attention?

We spent most of last summer watching the so-called experts talking to the special commons committee on electoral reform. We think they missed the point in terms of what Canada needs but the ultimate committee findings made sense. The committee concluded that more time was needed, more involvement by Canadians was needed and some serious thinking.

The committee made the minister of democratic reform look incompetent and the prime minister look unreasonable. And they are. They were tackling all the democratic reform questions from the wrong perspective.

Reform is a top down process. In business and in politics, anyone can tell you that change has to have strong support. It has to have leadership. (And obviously not necessarily competent leadership judging by Mr. Trump.)

The most difficult problems in our Canadian government are located in the Langevin Block on the north side of Ottawa’s Wellington Street. It is the home of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the Privy Council Office. The Clerk of the Privy Council is the number one civil servant in Ottawa. He or she is the equivalent in business of a chief operating officer. The Prime Minister, in turn, is equivalent to the chief executive officer.

The problems were there for all to see during the Harper years. He could prorogue parliament at his convenience. He could make wholesale appointments to the Senate. And just because today there is someone you might like in charge is no reason not to demand the changes that our country so desperately needs.

Reform has to start in the Langevin Block. It was Pierre Trudeau in 1968 who had worked in the Privy Council Office who put the two key offices in close working relationship. It was Pierre Trudeau who also said to CBC reporter Tim Ralfe to “Just watch me” in regards to the lengths he would go to against the Front de Liberation du Quebec (FLQ) in October 1970. It was not an idle comment.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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Ottawa’s Ghost of Christmas Future.

Saturday, December 24th, 2016

When Marley’s Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come came to see Canada’s Prime Minister, the ghost looked a lot like American President Elect Donald Trump. Justin Trudeau had many questions for him but the ghost never spoke a word. He just kept on twitting.

The ghost took the Prime Minister to breakfast with the Calgary Board of Trade. The members welcomed the PM and listened to him while he spoke of his efforts on their behalf. They applauded the expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline to Burnaby, B.C. and he assured them that not all B.C. residents would resist. He bragged of the planned expansion of Line 3 that would take diluted bitumen to the American pipeline networks.

Later in a question and answer session with the business people, Trudeau assured them of his support for the Keystone XL pipeline and that the new American President would approve. All he wanted in return for all this bounty was for the reluctant Albertans to pay their carbon taxes.

Maybe the Albertans knew more about tar sands exploitation than the Prime Minister. They must know that they could never pay enough in carbon taxes to offset the melting of the polar ice caps.

The ghost showed Justin the end result of a greying and dying world. The internment camps for pipeline protestors high in the B.C. Rockies, away from the encroaching Pacific Ocean, tell their story of resistance.

He showed the PM the results he can expect of a government that promises Sunny Days and delivers pipelines. He showed how neoliberalism is but a shadow of extreme conservatism—and Harper-lite has returned to Ottawa.

He also showed the PM, the results of his revisions in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). He had renegotiated and because he likes Canada he is willing to transfer the Mexican Maquiladora free trade zones to Sothern Ontario. Of course, Ontario will have to reduce its minimum wage to C$3.00 per hour.

And before he disappeared driving the last Canada-built GM truck, the ghost called out “Merry Christmas to all, and to all the best of luck.”


Copyright 2016 © Peter Lowry

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