No party politics for Jane n’ Jody.

June 4th, 2019 by Peter Lowry

It had been puzzling many of us just where former liberals Jane Philpott and Jody Wilson-Raybould got the crazy idea of running as independent candidates. Neither had shown much political savvy during the SNC-Lavalin fiasco. When they chose to run as independents, all we could do was assume they got some very bad advice and wave bye-bye. It was hardly a smart choice.

But now we have found the source of their problem. The Toronto Star has revealed all. It seems the ladies have been taking advice from a self-styled democracy reformer who does not believe in political parties. It seems this guru knows little about party politics. Maybe he finds it easy to resolve things that he does not understand.

This is a consensus guy. He was involved in last year’s municipal referendums in Cambridge and Kingston that voted in favour of switching to ranked ballots for city elections. It was an excellent example of the goat leading the lambs to slaughter. He seems to be unaware of the point that ranked ballot systems encourage the selection of the mediocre.

But then this is a guy who seems to misunderstand the rationale of political parties. He must think consensus should replace action. And that inaction can be better than progress.

What he does not seem to understand is that most of us politicos cut our baby teeth on municipal politics. When you learn from hard work and experience, you can move up to provincial and federal politics.

But he and Jane Philpott should get their euppance in her riding. The odds in that situation are that Philpott will pull enough votes from the official liberal candidate to elect the conservative candidate.

The situation in Jody Wilson-Raybould’s riding is clouded by what the prime minister intends to do with the Trans Mountain pipeline. If he goes ahead with twinning the pipeline, all bets are off in B.C.

But this so-called democracy advocate who thinks just two independent candidates will have the balance of power in the next parliament is leading those ladies down the garden path.

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Copyright 2019 ? Peter Lowry

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Opportunity calling Andrew Scheer.

June 3rd, 2019 by Peter Lowry

For a guy who got his job by surprise, conservative leader Andrew Scheer MP is a happy camper. He can hardly believe it when public opinion polls show him defeating liberal leader Justin Trudeau. ?All he could do two years ago when he got the job of leading the party because of a dumb voting system, was put his head down, try to make peace with the unruly losers in the leadership race and concentrate on the rules of parliament. That was what he knew best.

The Saskatchewan MP was Speaker of the House of mons during the time of Stephen Harper’s majority in parliament. All he had to do was what the prime minister told him to do. No hassle. No trouble. Maybe a bit embarrassing having to contend with the shrill antics of MPs such as Paul Calandra and Pierre Poilievre during that time but the perks of being Speaker soothed his guilt.

But now he is expected to go out on the hustings without a parachute. He has to read speeches about things he is not so sure about. The way his speech writers have him leaning on these people crossing the border to try to get refugee status in Canada has him worried that he might sound like a bigot. It is bad enough that sometimes people wonder if he wants to build a wall along the Canada-U.S. border. There might too many zeroes in that speech for him to count.

He wants to just give friendly ‘Gee-shucks’ speeches to those non-judgemental folks in his riding of Regina—Qu’Appelle. They are hardly about to question any facts or figures that the speech writers have dreamed up.

And he sure as heck wants people to stop calling him ‘Chuckles.’ He can hardly help it if his high cheek bones remind people of the Joker in the Batman ics.

But he sure hopes that people will stop asking him about global warming. He is not as sure as those guys who are helping him, premiers Doug Ford in Ontario and Jason Kenney in Alberta. They know all about that false news promoted by liberals that the world is going to get too hot for humans. Maybe he thinks by then, we will have better air conditioning systems.

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Copyright 2019 ? Peter Lowry

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How Justin Trudeau can win.

June 2nd, 2019 by Peter Lowry

There is a summer of barbeque season to go before Canadians get into the cut and thrust of a federal election. And it is certainly to soon to say who might win. It is even to soon to consider the odds for a morning line. What we can do is pontificate on winning strategies for the parties. Today we will address the liberal party.

I was there in 1974 when Pierre Trudeau took our liberals into the same kind of meat grinder as his son is facing in 2019. It seems that the two Trudeaus share the same need for a harsh lesson on the realities of politics. In 1974, Pierre learned to pay attention to his political advisors. The question now is, can Justin learn?

Think of how you would react, for example, if Justin Trudeau invited Jane Philpott and Jody Wilson-Raybould back into the liberal party and his cabinet? It would be a bold move and would silence some of the strong criticism he faces.

Or what if sometime, out on the barbeque circuit this summer, he detailed a plan, not for a corridor just for pipelines and munications links across Canada, but also for high-speed electrified trains? Since munications and pipelines already use rail corridors, when they can, it would make more sense than the conservative plan.

This next idea needs to be thought through and smoothed out. What Trudeau needs is a more substantial slogan than “Sunny days.” I think it has to be something that captures the imagination more like “Nobody left behind.” While he could woo the middle-class last time, this time he needs something more all-enpassing. I think he has pissed off more than a few of our seniors by ignoring them over the past four years. Not everyone is satisfied with a selfie.

Our aboriginals also need to feel loved. (But damn-it-all, do not put on another feathered headdress.) Justin just needs to roll down his shirt sleeves, burn his tie, put on his jacket and get serious about Canada’s real needs.

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Copyright 2019 ? Peter Lowry

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‘None of the Above’ is not an option.

June 1st, 2019 by Peter Lowry

There seems to be some disquiet across this fair land over our lack of good choices in the looming federal election. And whose fault is that? Frankly, Canadians have been encouraging mediocrity in politics for far too long. We have been trashing our political parties. We have been lying to ourselves about supposedly lying politicians. We have been buying into some serious bullshit about how nice Canadians can be.

We are not nice. We have turned the beautiful ballet of hockey into a blood sport. We seriously believe that we can beat the Americans at their own games such as baseball and basketball. (All you have to do is hire better American players.) And we buy into the blather that our foreign affairs people know what they are doing, when all they do is whore for the Americans.

But the truth is that this is a country that has lost its way politically. It has succumbed to mediocre politicians who use political parties as their own and use those who support them as their personal automated teller machines.

New democratic party membership has fallen so low that just the Sikh immigrants in British Columbia and Ontario could swamp the membership and give the party leadership to Jagmeet Singh. The same fall-off of party members in the Ontario progressive conservatives allowed a weasel like Patrick Brown to swamp the membership with Indian sub-continent memberships and take over the party.

And it was Justin Trudeau himself, who ended the membership structure of the federal liberals. While he was still popular, Trudeau ended the party’s independence, its ability to choose candidates and he now uses the party lists solely to raise money for his ongoing financial campaign.

And that leaves us with a liberal government run by an elitist, a conservative party headed by a nobody, an NDP party run by an unknown and a nascent green party run as a one-gal band.

All I can suggest is that each of us take the time to pick out the best candidate in our riding who cares the most about us, the voters. It is our only choice.

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Copyright 2019 ? Peter Lowry

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It’s Bullshit over Beer in Ontario.

May 31st, 2019 by Peter Lowry

The international owners of Labatt, Molson and Sleeman breweries have to be sleeping on the job. The Ontario government is seriously planning to expand their business for them and they are talking about suing the government. If I was the judge for that case, I would laugh the idiots out of my court.

What the government is proposing is that beer and wine sales in Ontario be expanded through convenience stores, grocery stores and big box stores. You can think of it as the peasants in Ontario being freed to buy their beer where it is convenient for them instead of where the Brewers’ Warehousing Beer Stores find it convenient to sell beer.

And besides, serving a market of 13 million people takes more that 450 beer stores, 660 liquor control board stores, 150 large grocery stores and some agencies in out of the way parts of the province. Even with another 300 grocery stores to be added, that is not enough distribution to meet the market need.

For parison, Quebec has most of its 8000 convenience stores selling beer to a population of 8 million and Alberta has close to 2000 privately owned alcohol outlets and many hotels with off-premises sales, selling suds to 4.3 million. There is no question but there is a need in Ontario for a greatly expanded retailing of beer and wine.

Some skeptics of the government plan point to a specious agreement signed five years ago by a banker on behalf of the province. In the agreement the brewers promised to spend $100 million per year for four years to upgrade stores and build some new ones. What does not make sense of this is that it is a normal cost of doing business in a business worth many billions. New stores need to be built in growing munities and many of the ill-kept Beer Store properties in Ontario desperately need repair and improvements. Why would this be subject to litigation?

Frankly, Ontario has colluded with and coddled the foreign brewers for long enough. After 90 years of unconscionable profits for the breweries own delivery system, they can no longer expect a monopoly. They can make a lot more money with the expanded distribution of their products. If they do not like what the government is doing, they should remember that it is the government that calls the shots.

A rule of international trade is ‘Never piss off the local politicians.’

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Copyright 2019 ? Peter Lowry

plaints, ments, criticisms and pliments can be sent to? peter@lowry.me

Professionalism in Politics.

May 30th, 2019 by Peter Lowry

Interesting argument the other day with a reader who likes keeping up with the political scene and who supports the liberals. He was stating his objection to professional politicians. Since his major experience with a professional politician was when Patrick Brown was the MP in Barrie and then the leader of the Ontario conservatives, I can understand his objection. Brown just might be one of the worst examples of a professional politician.

But that is why politicos refer to Brown as a retail politician. He knows how politics work and he works the system. Last year in the chaos created by the new Ford government in Queen’s Park, Brown was ricocheting around Peel Region trying to find a place on the dance card for the civic election. He knew he could run somewhere in Peel Region. Ford cut him off from the regional chair position—easy job, good pay. He landed in Brampton instead, where the incumbent mayor was vulnerable.

He had moved to Mississauga because he knew he could not defeat the incumbent mayor in Barrie. It was not his shallow personal connections in Peel but the ethnic mix that attracted him. Multi-culturalism minister for Stephen Harper, Jason Kenney, had set Brown up with free trips to India in those years when he was an MP in the Harper government. Brown had not only bee buddies with Indian President Narendra Modi but had bee a key contact with the many people in the very large sub-continent munity in Canada.

Brown had already used these ethnic contacts in the Peel region to swamp the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party membership and delivered him the leadership of that party. (Brampton resident Jagmeet Singh noted that there were thousands of Sikh immigrants involved and obviously used many of the same group to swamp the NDP party membership in the same way as Brown swamped the Tories.)

In as much as the sub-continent munity represents 30 per cent of the population of Brampton, Brown won the mayoralty by the simple promise to the Sikh and Hindu immigrant population in Brampton that there would be more cricket pitches in the city parks. The sub-continent people do love their cricket.

And that is what professional politicians do. They know how to win elections. They bee expert. The professionals are the ones who stick around. The amateurs e and go.

But they can be good people who care about the voters. They can also be users. That is up to the voters to decide.

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Copyright 2019 ? Peter Lowry

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Profiling politicians.

May 29th, 2019 by Peter Lowry

It is often amusing in the popular American TV program Criminal Minds when one of the actors, playing the part of an FBI agent, without much script support, out of the blue, says it is time to deliver the profile. They remind me very much of how our political mentators can profile our politicians based on so little evidence.

In all sincerity, I believe that it takes considerable experience and observation to profile politicians. The reason we all fail when it es to someone such as Donald Trump in the U.S.A. or Doug Ford in Ontario is that neither gentleman can be truly described as a politician. They are political wannabes and fail so miserably at the task before them.

But it is also easier to profile the run-of-the-mill politician than profiling political leaders. Leaders require a further set of profiling steps. Would you, for example, have profiled a young Reform M.P. named Steve Harper in the 1990s as potential leadership material?

Let’s look at an abbreviated profile of the three federal leaders of the major political parties in Ottawa and maybe we can see how it works:

Let’s start with the new democrats. Jagmeet Singh profiles well as a politician. Where he falls down is that he is an observant Sikh. Canadians, in general, have little knowledge or experience with Sikhism. It will work against his party. Some bigotry is involved though, in most cases, it is the just that people do not like to vote for a person they do not feel they know.

Andrew Scheer of the conservatives, on the other hand, is your typical white Prairie politician in a suit. He lacks personality and is easily forgettable. He has hardly done anything that would cause people to dislike him. Nor has he done anything to cause people to like him. He could get elected simply because he is a known brand of politician.

This counters liberal leader Justin Trudeau. In some parts of the country people love or hate him simply for his name. He is faced with being considered effete, elitist and ineffective. His signature promise in the last election of voting reform was a mistake and it is going to cost him this time.

Now, if the election was tomorrow, for whom would you vote?

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Copyright 2019 ? Peter Lowry

plaints, ments, criticisms and pliments can be sent to? peter@lowry.me

Defining a different destiny.

May 28th, 2019 by Peter Lowry

Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott have chosen their political destiny. They have chosen the path to likely political oblivion. There are few politicians who have e back from the Coventry of parliament to survive as an independent. To run as independent candidates is an ‘All-in’ bet.

The two former liberal cabinet ministers obviously had the door held wide for them to join in almost any other party. For them to refuse all offers is either their inflated idea of their importance or a wish to make their statement and then fade into the night. If nothing else, they will likely deny their ridings to the official liberal candidate.

Frankly, there is little they can really contribute to Canada’s parliament as independent members. Even worse, there is little they can do for the people who vote for them. Seated in the furthest corner of the chamber and with no rights other than those given by one of the recognized parties, you quickly bee the forgotten Canadian.

And even if they can afford to pay for their own campaigns, the election act blocks them from spending more than $5000 of their own money. They have to raise the rest of the money for their campaign at $1600 or less from many donors and then you are still blocked under the act from spending more than allowed for the number of voters in the electoral district. And, last time I checked, they are only allowed to raise the money during the election period—parties are allowed to raise funds year-round.

Frankly, I have never seen the value of running as an independent. You are far better off to start your own political party and build an organization that can e to mean something.

And while the two former cabinet ministers were elected as liberals, I would question that designation based on their performance in parliament. Both were involved in the medically-assisted suicide bill and that bill, as it finally came into law, was a serious disappointment to many progressives in the liberal party.

I will just say ‘bye’ to them now.

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Copyright 2019 ? Peter Lowry

plaints, ments, criticisms and pliments can be sent to? peter@lowry.me

Kenney’s Conundrum, Capturing Carbon.

May 27th, 2019 by Peter Lowry

It was in the business news recently. It was about the success of Shell Oil’s $1.3 billion carbon-capture plant, Quest, near Edmonton. The Quest plant is designed to capture and store carbon from the Scotford upgrader, a refinery that upgrades tar sands bitumen into synthetic crude oil. The Scotford upgrader plant output of about 200,000 barrels per day has provided the carbon-capture facility with 3.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide over the past three-and-a-half years.

It is particularly impressive that the Quest plant appears to bypass the bitumen slag by-product of bitumen processing by converting the excessive amounts of carbon in bitumen directly to CO2. It also seems to make it obvious that the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) has been down-playing the amount of carbon in the tar sands bitumen from day one.

But what do you do with that much carbon dioxide? The Shell people refer to it as being sequestered, hence the name Quest for the plant.

Now if only there was a market for so much CO2? Eventually, we hear, scientists will figure out how to use CO2 for fuel. As it is, this CO2 is being pumped underground, where it is sequestered.

Canadian and Alberta taxpayers contributed more than $800 million to this project. While I do not know the cost of operating the $1.3 billion Quest plant, I will assume that Shell would save the federal carbon tax that will soon be levied on the ersatz crude oil produced at upgrading plants in Alberta. This will start at the current federal rate of $20 per tonne and raise to $50 per tonne by 2022.

Since the new premier, Jason Kenney of the United Conservative Party of Alberta, is mitted to throwing out the provincial carbon tax, the province will be foregoing the money needed to help build more carbon-capture plants, such as Quest and other innovations for Albertans. Whatever premier Jason Kenney might be, he is obviously not much of a mathematician.

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Copyright 2019 ? Peter Lowry

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Ignoring Bernier is bad advice.

May 26th, 2019 by Peter Lowry

It amuses me that people are telling Andrew ‘Chuckles’ Scheer that former conservative MP Maxime Bernier is not a problem. That is bad advice. First of all, you have to ignore the pollsters who are having trouble measuring Bernier’s support. And then you have to understand the people who would support Bernier. Finally, you also need to understand that the People’s party does not have to elect a single MP to cause problems for Scheer’s conservatives.

Before getting into the whys though we should explain that Maxime Bernier came second to Andrew Scheer in the conservative sweepstakes a couple years ago because of the very stupid process they used to choose a leader. The conservatives used a preferential ballot to choose between 13 (final) candidates. People were actually asked to number their preference from one to thirteen. Then the puters just kept counting the ballots (dropping the candidate with the least votes) until somebody had a majority. It took every possible ballot to finally e up with Scheer, at a fraction over 50 per cent. The winner was Scheer because he was the least disliked candidate. Being the second least disliked hardly made Maxime Bernier a powerhouse in the conservative party.

Bernier is more of a libertarian than a conservative. Libertarians are extremists to the political right of Canadian conservatism. They are a strong segment of the party but would likely constitute less than 15 per cent of the general party membership. The former provincial wild rose party in Alberta was dominated by libertarian influence.

But where Maxime Bernier is a powerhouse is in The Beauce and the Quebec City region. Depending on how many people’s party candidates he can get in previously conservative ridings, he could cause the defeat of five or six conservatives in Quebec. There are not many opportunities for that in other parts of the country but in Alberta and B.C. where liberal votes will be hard to find, there will be throw away votes from both the right and the left and strange things can happen.

If the Trudeau liberals smarten up and start wooing voters instead of pissing them off, this election would not be such a string of question marks. As it is today, it would be very difficult to rationalize any form of majority government after Oct 21. The NDP are toast and the greens cannot believe their good luck. What will happen is anyone’s guess.

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Copyright 2019 ? Peter Lowry

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