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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Copyright 2020 ? Peter Lowry

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

“Enter Laughing.”

January 18th, 2020 by Peter Lowry

So, you want to be an actor? And Canada is the theatre. Nova Scotian Peter MacKay, once more wants to be conservative leader. It reminds us of the semi-autobiographical novel by American humourist Carl Reiner. He turned the book into a successful movie in 1967 and launched his career in Hollywood. Frankly, MacKay might be better off in Hollywood than in Canada’s conservative politics.

This is not the first time Peter MacKay has made the effort. He seems to have forgotten how Stephen Harper handed his head last time around. Once more, he is heading into the buzz saw of Western Reform politics. MacKay is a ‘progressive’ among conservatives and that spells ‘wimp’ to westerners.

And anyone who thinks Peter MacKay means petence, could not know the man. He is a light-weight, an egoist and is only impressed by money. He is Brian Mulroney redux. He is an old-time progressive conservative, astray and lost in the 21st Century.

I say this when I am not even a conservative. The guy is a waste of our time. He is just another lawyer obfuscating life.

But he is wele to join the downhill race to the conservative leadership. He could hardly do worse than Chuckles Scheer.

Can you imagine the temerity of the damn fool to make his announcement that he is running on Twitter? How shallow and inconsequential could he make the contest? He’s a twit.

You would think that MacKay would have matured somewhat since he was last in politics. It hardly sounds like it!

But back to Carl Reiner’s talents: There is a man who can stand tall while laughing at life. What he could teach Peter MacKay about life is that the high points of your life are when you enter and when you exit. If you do those two well, you’ve aced it.

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Copyright 2020 ? Peter Lowry

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

When do we get back to the environment?

January 17th, 2020 by Peter Lowry

Between Mr. Trump’s tantrums, the concerns over Meghan and Harry and the disaster in Iran, the prime minister is not getting much done about the environment. And why would we ever be satisfied with just getting to a net-zero emissions target?

Net-zero emissions is not a target, it is a starting point. Net zero is the point when we are adding no new large-scale carbon emissions to our environment. We should have been there years ago.

But back when we became more aware of the dangers our earth was facing, we had the Harper conservatives in power. The environment is famously number 101 on the list of 100 conservative concerns. Harper was a hypocrite who would savage the environment for another nickel. He was always, famously, ‘working on it.’

But Trudeau might be the same. Where is he headed when he buys the Trans Mountain pipeline to speed its twinning and conversion for sending the output of the tar sands to world markets? Does he think we are not responsible for all that pollution?

The supreme court has just given the Trudeau cabinet the green light on the disastrous Trans Mountain pipeline. I guess it is not their problem.

And the cabinet is currently talking about approving the new Frontier open pit mine north of Fort McMurray that will add four million tonnes of carbon to the environment each year. This addition to the carbon pollution is acpanied by the Frontier plan to destroy boreal forests and wetlands the size of a city that could have helped to absorb some of that pollution.

Before the prime minister and his environment minister fly off to another world conference to make irresponsible promises, they need to weigh their progress at home. They have to get our friends in Alberta to back off the bitumen. That is not a move that will endear you to Albertans. Though they might forgive you if your government can find find another base for their economy.

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Copyright 2020 ? Peter Lowry

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‘Unencumbered as I am by experience.’

January 16th, 2020 by Peter Lowry

Ontario education minister Stephen Lecce is no mystery. Politics is full of people like him. Their ability as a con artist is far more important than any particular experience or training. They are chameleons.

Lecce was actually prime minister Stephen Harper’s discovery. He gave the handsome young man a job right out of political science at Western University in London, Ontario. The kid had the gift. With absolutely no background or experience, Harper put Lecce on the PMO’s munications staff.

Mind you, the prime minister’s munications staff in those days was something of an oxymoron. They were hardly there to dispense information. They were there to close ranks, to hue to the party line (as directed), lie when necessary and to protect the office and the person of their leader. Their willingness to lay down their bodies to protect their boss, was the essential criteria.

It was the loss of power in 2015 that sent the young Lecce back to Kleinburg, Ontario. He already had his heart set on the provincial nomination in King-Vaughan. It is an area that I have always supposed provided the country estates for retired Toronto mafioso. All Lecce had to do was open a small public relations business with one major client; himself. He obviously had the right connections as he was elected in 2018 to the Doug Ford juggernaut.

But he did not get his real chance until June of 2019 when Ford had to replace Lisa Thompson as education minister. He did not even have to shave properly. He was dumped unceremoniously into negotiations with Ontario’s education unions. And by then, the unions were angry. It was not pretty.

But the only people who are buying the Lecce BS are the news media. All Lecce had to do was start recanting on all the demands of his predecessor. It is absolutely amazing that Premier Ford has an education minister, managing a $23.9 billion budget, who went to St Michael’s College School, reputed to be the most expensive private school for bullies in Ontario. On top of that, his parliamentary secretary, 22-year old Sam Oosterhoff MPP, was home schooled.

This is the Doug Ford conservative government. Nobody with experience need apply.

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Copyright 2020 ? Peter Lowry

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

Being a liberal is tough.

January 15th, 2020 by Peter Lowry

Maybe I am not the only liberal who wonders where my party went. I got a copy of a rather angry e-mail the other day from a liberal in my riding of Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte. The e-mail was to the provincial party president. I know that this letter-writing liberal is a hard-working supporter of both the federal and provincial party and, over the years, has been generous in supporting the party and its candidates, as well as a reliable canvasser during elections.

But he is worried. He is disappointed that his provincial riding association has not held a meeting in the last year and a half. He is worried that the provincial party in our riding is moribund. He is annoyed that he has not had an opportunity to meet or talk to any of the candidates for the job of provincial leader. He does not think that liberal party members are getting a proper opportunity to evaluate the candidates. He plains that the party only seems to want him for his wallet. He wants to be respected by the party for more than the money he contributes.

And would you believe that the federal party is worse than the provincial. In Ontario, the federal and provincial parties share the same electoral district boundaries except in the extreme north. If there was ever a time when the federal and provincial liberals could benefit from working together, it is now. We need the synergy. We need the shared experience. We need to build momentum.

I could add a few things to that liberal’s e-mail. I am outraged that when by a vote of 57 per cent, at its last annual meeting, the party called for a leadership vote for every member of the party, it was refused. This is supposed to be a democratic party and anything other than 50 per cent plus one is an affront to democracy. The party wanted a democratic selection and it cannot be denied. Anything else was to declare any choice undemocratic and subject to corrupt practices.

And I would hardly charge $250 to $600 per delegate to attend the event. That is the most undemocratic aspect of a possibly corrupted convention. The liberal party needs to get with the times.

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Copyright 2020 ? Peter Lowry

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

On being royal refugees.

January 14th, 2020 by Peter Lowry

It was hardly just the Downton Abbey dowagers who were clucking over the American divorcée marrying into Brit royalty. Well, their predictions of trouble are in, fast and furious. Harry and Meghan are rebelling against the vacuous life of the royal family. The very good news is that Harry’s gramma reacted as a loving grandmother, not as a queen. Good on her!

The trouble is that those kids have absolutely no idea of the problems such a fall from grace can present. There is far more to the separation of royals and their estates than naming your kid Archie.

And hiding out in a millionaire’s estate on Vancouver Island is far from the fun times in Toronto.

What makes you think you could live in a little two-bedroom apartment in St. James Town and find jobs immediately. At least you speak the local language—sort of. That apartment would fit in a very small corner of your Kensington Palace digs.

Will you get those acting jobs because you are a former duchess? Does it make it easier for you to find baby sitters or daycare for when both you and Harry are working? And, what is Harry good at? If he could learn to drive in the right lane, he could get a job as an Uber driver—no experience required. Hey, McDonald’s is also hiring.

Just wait until the immigration people hear he has only been trained to shoot a machine gun and how to wave to crowds.

It is not likely that Harry would be interested in the types of jobs being offered to former dukes. He does have a pleasant demeanour and does know something about charities. He would likely have some good ideas about planning fêtes.

And would he ever get used to the casual way Canadians would approach him and say “Aren’t you a prince or something?” Nobody is going to pay to keep the riffraff away. And what about the ones too polite to say anything, who just stare?

I think the toughest challenge will be with those Canadians who have no respect for royals and do not believe that your gramma should be Queen of Canada. And then there are those who think the whole idea of royals is a crock. Wele to Canada.

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Copyright 2020 ? Peter Lowry

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