Who do you trust?

January 28th, 2020 by Peter Lowry

Trust seems to be on a sliding scale throughout your life. Trust is as simple as giving your baby a small toss and the loving feeling as the child squeals with laughter as you catch and hold the little tyke to you. Trust is family. Trust is in holding the child’s hand as you teach him or her how to safely cross a street. And trust transfers over the years as the young adult steadies the elder as you also journey through life.

Trust is earned. Trust is learned. Trust is what helps sustain us through our years. The retailer wants our trust in the products and services offered. The police, fire and emergency services want our trust should their services be needed. The news media want our trust that their reporting is fair and balanced. Our teachers and educators want our trust of their lessons. Our neighbours want our trust in exchange for theirs. munities live and thrive in trust.

And yet, how can we trust politicians? Do they all speak the language of ambiguity? Do they speak through a smoke-screen of ‘ifs’? Do they consider their knowledge and logic superior to ours? Do they offer a future or are they locked into the fixed tenets of their ideology?

It would pay us well to consider. Are we seeking Aldous Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’ or are we enjoining other locked-in visions of long-dead philosophers? Since Marx and Engels did not envision a vibrant, educated middle class, who then represent today’s proletariat?

What we have to face today is the growing dissatisfaction with our politicians. The reality is that we need politicians who can prove they have earned our trust. We want to be represented by the person who grew up next door. We want them to be tireless in negotiating a better life for all.

We want to be able to trust them.

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Copyright 2020 ? Peter Lowry

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The conservative leadership is no prize.

January 27th, 2020 by Peter Lowry

The problem most people seem to be having with taking on the leadership of the conservative party is the party itself. Jean Charest said it best when he said that the party had changed much since he was involved federally back in the 90s. He was too much of a gentleman to note that the conservative party has bee the playground of a nasty bunch of self-obsessed ideologues.

It was Stephen Harper who drove that truck downhill in Canada. And his lead disciples are Jason Kenney in Alberta and Doug Ford in Ontario. The crazies are in mand. Look at Donald Trump in the United States. He is using the Republican’s Grand Old Party as cannon fodder in his battle against impeachment.

Back in the 1970s and 80s, I used to laughingly say some of my best friends were conservatives. But I was serious that in that time frame that there were conservatives who had some good ideas and cared about people other than themselves. I admired many of them.

In fact, my problem today is that too many of the liberals we are hearing from are more like the conservatives of 50 years ago. They have stopped being progressive. They are using conservative excuses. They take a baby step and call it a stride forward. And when it es to the environment, I am very much worried about where today’s liberals are headed.

The other day a political mentator pared turning down a chance at being prime minister to Prince Harry and his duchess wanting to dump the trappings of royalty. I think that was reaching but there are some similarities in the feeling of uselessness of being royal and in the life of a back-bench member of parliament.

I have no idea who could have got to Pierre Poilievre. Maybe the pit bull had a revelation and stepped out of the race. Or maybe, it was that the pit bull realized that he did not have the stuff of a leader. He has to stay in the role, he does best.

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Copyright 2020 ? Peter Lowry

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The smart ones fight on.

January 26th, 2020 by Peter Lowry

Former Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne could learn something from MPP Michael Coteau. He is no quitter. Wynne did irreparable harm to Ontario liberals in the 2018 election when she conceded the election before the voters made their decision known. All her mistakes as premier could not top that one amateur act.

Before she made that gaff, the liberals looked like they were down to 15 or 20 seats in the legislature. She ended up as part of a rump group that were not even recognized as a party. It makes the challenge for the next leader all that more difficult.

But I made the mistake yesterday of saying that Steven Del Duca had effectively won the leadership with his 14,000 membership sales. Michael Coteau, very wisely, challenges that assumption. We will not have the basis for these assumptions until after the ridings elect their delegates. It will be the number of first-vote mitments that will tell the tale. We will not have the detailed analysis before mid February.

The wild cards in this game are the ex officio voters such a federal MPs, provincial candidates and party office holders. Over 400 potential votes fall into this category. With a likely turnout of 1600 to 1800 voting delegates at the convention, Coteau and his supporters are hoping for a second ballot. Del Duca and his people will be hoping for a first ballot win. It all seems to e down to who can give a real barn-burner of a speech to the crowd that morning.

The one thing that is obvious about this campaign is that Steven Del Duca represents the past of the Ontario party and Michael Coteau represents the future. He is aggressive, weling to change and recognizes that the future offers a new type of politics.

A lot of what we have heard so far in this leadership contest has to do with getting rid of Doug Ford. I think we need to hear more about the type of politics that would end the possibilities for electing people like Doug Ford.

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Copyright 2020 ? Peter Lowry

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The greed that breeds corruption.

January 25th, 2020 by Peter Lowry

It was never a secret that the political parties make a profit on conferences and leadership elections. They need the money for operating costs. It is that simple. In organizing an event such as the uping leadership races, provincially in Ontario for the liberals and federally for the conservatives, involves long hours, a myriad of expenses and the long-term financial needs of the party. The only problem is at what point have you killed the goose providing the money and corrupted the oute?

In my opinion, that point has already been passed by the Ontario liberals. While the provincial fee for candidates is $100,000 ($25,000 refundable), the delegated convention charges are between $250 (seniors and youth) to a maximum of $600 for what is, in effect, a one-day convention.

The only problem is former MPP and cabinet minister Steven Del Duca has, effectively, already won. The convention looks bought and paid for. No honest sign-up of liberals could account for the signing up of over 14,000 maybe liberals nor would he be able to find the 16 people from each riding across the province willing to pay such a high price for the convention. If I was in my old position with the Ontario liberals, there would be a demand that the party executive does some serious checking into the bona fides of some of Del Duca’s delegates.

It looks like the federal conservatives have the reverse problem. Their leadership entry fee is too high. An entry fee of $300,000 (the $100,000 pliance portion is refundable) is the highest ever. bined with the demand for 3,000 party signatures across 30 ridings and 7 provinces, it is designed to keep out the publicity seekers. So far it appears to have caused the withdrawal of some would-be serious candidates.

A candidate with his strength based in Quebec, such as Jean Charest, would have had concerns about getting signatures in six more provinces. But the mistake that the conservatives have made, despite enabling every party member to vote, is to continue to use a preferential vote system. Unless the leader wins on the first ballot, the voting method drills down to the least contentious, same as what happened when Andrew Scheer was chosen.

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Copyright 2020 ? Peter Lowry

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NDP closes ranks around Singh.

January 24th, 2020 by Peter Lowry

‘Better the problem we understand’ seems to be the thinking of the leaders of Canada’s new democratic party. They are closing ranks around the leader who cost them almost half the seats they held in the last parliament. Unlike the conservatives whose leader actually grew their seats by 22, they are not launching a new leadership race.

The NDP obviously rued their impetuous dumping of Thomas Mulcair just because he was run over by the 2015 liberal campaign bus of Justin Trudeau. Mulcair certainly left the NDP in better shape than Jagmeet Singh did, just four years later.

But the truth was that Singh wasted time in finding a safe seat to get into parliament, fell way behind in fund raising for the party and made little impact on voters before a small boost during the election period.

The truth is that Singh would have been far better to have fallen on his sword as soon as the election was over. He had to admit that his efforts were a strategic failure. He was neither an effective leader nor was he articulating a clear and understandable platform. He spent the campaign apologizing for taking the NDP nowhere.

For lack of anyone else to be an apologist for Singh, the news media have been interviewing NDP national director Anne McGrath. She tells them she would have preferred to hold the convention sooner as she is impressed with the personal popularity of Singh after his failures in last fall’s election.? It makes you wonder about the quality of political journalism in this country.

By pushing out the convention to 2021, the urgency of a possible election will be even greater than of a snap (but probably accidental) election this year. In addition, the new conservative leader with the second largest caucus in parliament, will be much more eager to launch an election before the liberals have a chance to bee even better established in office.

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Copyright 2020 ? Peter Lowry

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Trump’s guilt is not the question.

January 23rd, 2020 by Peter Lowry

What kind of trial is this in the U.S. senate chamber, where the rules are controlled by the jurors? Does a trial matter if people have already made up their minds? Can ordinary citizens be satisfied with a moral victory? Can the voters be satisfied with a sham? Maybe it is a question of whose strategy you buy into.

The Democratic party senators and representatives are going for the high ground. The house of representatives has already impeached the president. It is now in the hands of the higher court in the senate. Very few have to be convinced to make history.

But is not the real jury the American people? The more the republicans obfuscate, the greater the swing in the vote in November. There are republican senators on the knife edge. A democratic majority in the senate will also be a game changer.

The constant quandary for the republicans is how far they dare go. How short can they keep this show trial? How much can they deny? Is there no point where enough is enough? Is there no point where the evidence convinces?

Sure, the defendant will continue to deny. Everyone knows he lies. His followers admire him for it. They will take the Trump denier over the democratic reality any day.

The defendant is not at his trial. He is not facing his accusers. U.S. president Donald Trump is at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Just what he could contribute to the discussions of world economics is a puzzle. What he might gain in understanding from the conference, to the benefit of America is open to question. He contributes not. He learns nothing.

It is no surprise that he keeps telling the world news media at Davos of his displeasure with the proceedings back in Washington. He is petulant and self obsessed.

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Copyright 2020 ? Peter Lowry

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The metrics of higher education.

January 22nd, 2020 by Peter Lowry

Ontario premier Doug Ford wants our colleges and universities to earn their way. He wants some measurement on their economic performance. He wants to put a dollar value on that cap and gown. And when the minister of higher education is a lawyer, he seems to believe that such measurement is possible.

It is hardly the first time we have heard this debate. The argument in academe just uses bigger words. We have had the argument in my family. Of five brothers, two have post-graduate degrees and one, who did not finish high school, made quite a few millions.

But when you add it all up, I think it was the brother with the PhD who contributed the most value—as a professor, teaching business students in the U.S. about ethics.

A college drop-out like Doug Ford is probably not overly strong on ethics and he would have benefitted greatly from my brother’s lectures. I even did a guest lecture for my brother on the social responsibility of business when he was teaching at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario.

And this is not the first time there has been an attempt to measure the value of a piece of parchment from a university. I can hardly vouch for the studies, I have heard quoted, that said the average bachelorette in sociology and philosophy returns value to society at about nine or ten to one. It just seems reasonable. It is in accord with the old saying that you do not just give a poor man a fish to eat, you teach him how to fish.

Those ubiquitous ‘soc and phil’ bachelor degrees can simply mean that the recipient has been taught how to think. And just imagine how useful that teaching could have been for premier Ford?

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Copyright 2020 ? Peter Lowry

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“It’s time to give the profile…”

January 21st, 2020 by Peter Lowry

It is likely due to the lack of creativity on American network television that the show Criminal Minds has lasted so long. I thought of it when reviewing the Ontario liberal leadership race the other day. It is a puzzle to figure out why Ontario liberals put up with such an easily manipulated contest. If you think everything is on the up and up with the arrangements for this contest, you will also believe that the FBI has its behavioural analysis people flying around that country chasing killers, with guns blazing.

It looks like the guy who should be the next leader of the Ontario liberals is MPP Michael Coteau from Toronto. As one liberal told me, Michael is the only contender tall enough to be a leader. He has also been running the smartest and most open campaign. He is refreshing in his honesty and openness to innovation.

The only contender who might yet steal the leadership is former MPP Steven Del Duca. Nobody adds 14,000 names to the membership of the party in the period of time indicated. Nor can it be seriously suggested that they are all liberals or necessarily paid for their own membership.

It is also hardly the first time that Del Duca has thrown his weight around to political advantage. As minister of transportation, he was accused of political interference in the independent planning of Metrolinx muter stations. Adding a station in his riding that independent studies claimed was unnecessary was the type of action that brought down the Wynne liberal government.

The other former minister running is MPP Mitzi Hunter from Scarborough. As I pointed out to the liberal who liked Coteau’s height, Ms. Hunter is about as tall. He pointed out it was only appearance because of her hair-do and her high heels.

The other three candidates can hardly be criticized for the failures of the Wynne government. They have never been elected. It leaves them free to e up with innovative suggestions. It makes the debates more interesting.

But we will not know who the likely winner will be until the local election meetings in February. We should be ready give you a profile and a morning line on the liberal leadership by about the Ides of February.

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Copyright 2020 ? Peter Lowry

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The gravitas of Justin Trudeau.

January 20th, 2020 by Peter Lowry

You do know that prime minister Justin Trudeau used to teach drama, do you not? Given the holiday time he had with family in the Caribbean over Christmas, he had time to work on both the new beard and demeanour. This is supposed to be a new Justin we are seeing.

The beard was not gilding the lily. A more thoughtful style, minus the beard, would not have been as convincing. And the amount of grey in the beard is indicative of the trials of his job. I hope he does not expect us to feel sorry for him because of the workload of being PM.

After being reduced to a minority government back in 1972, Pierre Trudeau also bit the bullet. His solution was to capitulate to the party and recognize that he needed the party, on side and working. He restored Senator Keith Davey to his previous position in party election preparedness.

If Justin Trudeau has reinstated former senator David Smith in the Davey-type role, we have not heard about it. Pierre Trudeau also added some highly regarded liberal thinkers in his office. We have not heard of Justin Trudeau doing that either.

In the meantime, his relations with the party are continuing downhill. The other day, the crassest of fund-raising letters was sent on the e-mail circuit using the conservative leadership contest as a theme. There does not seem to be many limits for the writers of these e-mails. I suppose if I ask them to stop sending them, they will say I am no longer a liberal.

At least the cabinet is meeting this week and hopefully, the members will have some renewed confidence in what they are doing. They are running out of time given by the Quebec court to fix the ill-considered medical assistance in dying bill. That has to have some priority.

Many of us who are worried about the environment are also worried about where the cabinet is going with the Trans Mountain pipeline. If they take the route of passing the buck to the regional aboriginals by selling the pipeline to them, it will be the most disgusting hypocrisy ever foisted on Canadians.

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Copyright 2020 ? Peter Lowry

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Big tents are hard to move.

January 19th, 2020 by Peter Lowry

If only we had a nickel for every time someone told us that Canada’s conservative and liberal parties are ‘big tent’ parties. Big tent parties are, as the name implies, large enough to acmodate many different views, as opposed to smaller, narrow interest parties. You can think of the big tent parties as being big enough to include the three rings of a circus tent. And, I can assure you, what goes on inside those parties has all the earmarks of being a circus.

But where all the clowns, aerialists, lion tamers and elephants get together is when the tent has to be moved. It requires all hands.

The federal conservatives are in the throws of one of those moves. With political parties, you never know where these moves are going to end up. Which segment of the party will dominate? Will it be the old school such as Peter MacKay from the Mulroney years, Pierre Poilievre of the Harper legions from the turn of the century or some one from the social conservatives, who have always felt left out?

We are not sure if there are really any Red Tories left? Or is there a populist with the bombast of a Doug Ford out there, ready to declare? We have yet to be introduced to all the potential players. Not that the rules permit casual inclusion in this soiree. The price of entry is stiff to keep out the adventure seekers and other riffraff who just want the notoriety. The voting rules will winnow the candidates down to the bland and acceptable.

The party learned nothing from its adventure with Chuckles Scheer. They have the history of their party to teach them the foolishness of how they are voting. The rules are clear. You either win on the first ballot or the party goes down to defeat with another loser.

The theme for the convention in June should be the haunting lyrics of Stephen Sondheim’s Send In the Clowns. Oh well, Maybe next year!

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