LDP 02: What is in a name?

June 22nd, 2018 by Peter Lowry

One of the responses we received about a proposed new liberal democratic party (LDP) was from a reader who thought we could just join the Green party and be done with it. As much as I have admired green leader Elizabeth May’s hard work and leadership of the Green Party, I see no reason for liberals to join her party.

Just one of the problems is the name of the party. By calling itself the Green Party, it narrows its purpose, if not focus. It tells people that the party is about the environment and tells us nothing else.

The NDP is also very keen on the environment and takes an equally strong stance. Its problem is that much of its rhetoric is still based on the socialism of the 1930s. The party has failed to build an image for the 21st century.

Despite May’s intelligent and well-researched positions on many aspects of governance, she cannot be all-knowing. As a one-person party, May is stretched beyond reason in parliament. Many MPs over the years have admitted to me that it is about all you can do in parliament is keep up to date on one department as well as do your constituency work

Even the liberal party has taken positive stands on protecting the environment—until prime minister Justin Trudeau’s recent offer to buy and ship highly polluting Alberta bitumen through an expanded Trans Mountain pipeline. Not only is government participation in shipping bitumen bad economics but it is enraging a core of environmentally concerned liberals. Justin Trudeau and the liberals will need all of their mobs for re-election next year and will not find all of them.

But the liberal mobs had already felt themselves adrift. For some inexplicable reason, Trudeau had decided much earlier that he did not like his father’s party. As useful as the party had been to him, he wanted a top-down structure that he could manipulate to his choosing. He went from no party membership fee (and no membership) to a large group of e-mail addresses for people to harangue for help in campaigning and to provide the campaign funds. Those of us who think of ourselves as liberals have been cast aside for the gullible and the monied.

After next year, we will need a new federal liberal party as well as provincial.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Some truths for Jagmeet Singh.

June 21st, 2018 by Peter Lowry

New democratic party leader Jagmeet Singh learned some truths in a federal bye-election this week. It was in Quebec and political truths can be particularly brutal in that province. It was the truth that the Orange Wave in Quebec in 2011 was a one-time thing. It was the truth that religion does matter. It was the truth that an observent Sikh might not be a popular choice to lead a political party in Canada.

And the most serious truth of all is that Jagmeet Singh misjudged Canadians. In the cultural mosaics of Ontario and British Columbia, in the liberal polyglot of cultures and in the concentrations of a few electoral districts with large numbers of Sikhs, Jagmeet Singh thought he saw acceptance.

He was wrong. There are differences between tolerance and acceptance. It is the tolerance that allows for acceptance. Acceptance is a long-term goal. It sometimes takes generations. It is in the understanding of other’s customs, the melding of ideas, of setting objectives. It is in the promotion of similarities and the gradual fading of differences. There is no fixed Canadian ideal. There are just shared values.

Even in Quebec, which some try to keep different, the shared values are there. All Canadians have a level of pride in the French and English heritage of the dominion. We can all have pride in our particular heritage as well as our collective heritage.

What it comes down to is that Jagmeet Singh was wrong to swamp the NDP provincial organizations in B.C. and Ontario with Sikh sign-ups. As proud as the Sikh communities in Canada are of the accomplishments of fellow Sikh Jagmeet, they were also wrong to assume that their choice would be readily accepted by all party members or by the voters.

Jagmeet’s failure to seek election to the House of Commons and his failure to show strong leadership has left him in limbo. How does he expect voters to accept him?

This is not a country that uses proportional representation to divide people and where Hassidim vote for Hassidim and Baptists vote for Baptists. A member of parliament has to represent all the voters in a given electoral district. An MP’s religion has to be irrelevant to his or her voters. It is the experience, party, ideas, services, loyalty, understanding and leadership that they want. Jagmeet’s Five Ks of Sikhism are little understood and unimportant to his non-Sikh voters.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

“A Little Child Shall Lead Them.”

June 20th, 2018 by Peter Lowry

Yes, that quote from Isaiah in the Christian bible is out of context. It still seems appropriate. It is used in Isaiah to set the scene of the beasts of the forest lying with farmers’ domesticated animals—and a little child shall lead them. In this case it sets the scene of a two-year old Honduran child crying as her refugee mother is arrested by the U.S. Border Patrol. It is images such as this one, that has gone around the world, that can bring about change.

It is ongoing agony to the caring of America that no matter how many older children are killed each year by the country’s love for guns, a picture of one two-year old can matter. Like the picture of a dead child on a beach in Lebanon could change the attitude of Europe on the crushing waves of illegal migration, the image of one crying child in Texas could be what brings down an American president.

And the man with the golden hair has to be brought down. This hypocrite, this disgusting person is using his crimes against children to try to force Congress to build his wall of fear.

President Trump has brought America into disrepute around the world. He has replaced caring with bigotry, compassion with racism, truth with falsehoods and the wealth of knowledge available to him with impulsiveness. His selection of advisors and cabinet appointees rides a slippery downhill slope into ignorance and apostacy.

The inexcusable ignorance of attorney general Jeff Sessions the other day, inadvertently calling up images of Nazi Germany to explain Donald Trump’s actions, explained a great deal to Americans—at least those who could bring themselves to listen. This man who claims to be a servant of God, only serves the Anti-Christ.

Even former first lady Laura Bush who has rarely given an opinion on anything, wrote for the Washington Post that president Trump’s separating of parents and children is immoral and heartbreaking.

And yet when Texas Republican senator Ted Cruz said the other day that Congress must meet to stop this practice. No such legislation is needed. Mr. Trump could end the practice with one more swipe at writing his signature. It appears that many federal border patrol officers know the practice of using children as pawns is not covered by any law—and that is why we are finding out about it.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

LDP 01: A new liberal party.

June 19th, 2018 by Peter Lowry

It appears that we need to start with a new liberal party in Ontario. Creating and launching a new political party does not happen overnight. A new party has to start with the need at the grass roots; platforms and leadership can come later. This series of postings will present the basics and we would like to have readers jump in with their own wants and suggestions. If you want your name connected with suggestions, please say so. We can also put them into the mix for you.

We should start with a name and positioning. I have arbitrarily chosen The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) as a working title. I would also like to be part of a truly centre-left and liberal party. I am frankly disgusted with people in the liberal party people who think of themselves as liberals socially and conservatives economically. That, to me, is an oxymoron. These people belong in a conservative party. I expect that for every right-wing liberal we lose to the conservatives, we will more than make up from the new democrats who are tired of the self-centred public service unions that dominate to-day’s NDP.

While the definition of centre-left is a rather broad target, I see it as being well within the scope of the human rights positioning of liberalism. I have always seen real liberals as those who will fight for the rights of the individual in our society.

But what is the point of freeing the individual if we then leave them in the grips of poverty? How can they enjoy a full life without good healthcare? And what point is providing the healthcare if the needed prescriptions are not readily available to them? And do we have to continue the crime of not providing the education of which people are capable? If we are going to respect the individual, we are going to have to be sure they are fed a healthy diet, clothed, housed, educated and have the opportunity for a full and rewarding life. There is no sudden leap into this nirvana but we must look to our goals as objectives. All of our society has to share the planning. All need to share in the benefits.

It has to be remembered that at any given time it will only be about a third of our population who are generating the resources to provide the benefits of our society. To do that we must become ever more productive and use automation and technology effectively to add to our efforts.

There are challenges ahead for us. We need to plan well.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Chrystia’s Cassandra Complex?

June 18th, 2018 by Peter Lowry

Canada’s foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland, might not be a fortune teller but she had more than a few truths for the Americans last week. Our only concern might be with her timing, discretion and diplomacy. As the expression goes: Rome was not built in a day—and it took a few more centuries to strip it of power. It survived for many years after the unruly rule of Emperor Nero. And, like Nero, Donald Trump will just be another blot on the copybook of history.

But it was not a diplomatic speech Freeland gave to the foreign policy forum in Washington. She was challenging the pre-eminence of America.

Maybe that is a necessary message to which Americans should listen. It would just be treated with more respect if it came from within.

Think of the message that prime minister Lester Pearson delivered to Temple University in Philadelphia in 1965 about the Vietnam war. It led to the famous scene of president Lyndon Johnson grabbing Pearson by the lapels and shouting at him about pissing on the presidential rug. The message is that Canadians can visit Washington but need to be seen, not heard.

While her call for adherence to the rules that the Americans insisted on as part of the North American trade agreement might be logical, it falls on deaf ears on the Trump administration. Nobody in that maladministration cares about her claims.

And giving Americans history lessons is also, in itself, a waste of time. They can write their own self-aggrandizing history books in Hollywood, thank you very much.

Freeland might be pint-sized but she is entitled to walk tall in the corridors of Washington. She represents a country that has always batted above its numbers among the world’s nations. It is not a nation easily gulled.

Canada’s foreign minister would have an easier time of it if her boss was not a pretty boy running around the world posturing with platitudes and posing for selfies. He makes a farce of his promises in Paris when he then ridicules the process of saving the environment by promoting Alberta tar sands pollution for the third world. It makes him a hypocrite and an embarrassment for Canadians.

Freeland’s speech in Washington drew some applause from outside the White House but is unlikely to mean much as NAFTA comes to its inevitable end. It will die as part of  Trump’s efforts to make America great at something again.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Did Brown lay the table for Ford?

June 17th, 2018 by Peter Lowry

The only newspaper in Ontario that gave a real damn about the lynching of conservative leader Patrick Brown back in January was his hometown Barrie Advance. It is owned by the Toronto Star and while it is just a poor quality shopper in which to wrap grocery flyers, the publication has editorials just like a real newspaper. It is the only regular print media in a city of close to 150,000 people. This past week (it is a weekly publication), it had an editorial saying that “Brown’s work helped Ford win.”

This bravura assertion is questionable. There is probably a long list of people who helped Doug Ford win the Ontario conservative leadership and then the provincial election. I think we can all agree that the first name on that list should be premier Kathleen Wynne. Her quitting the race a week before election day was the guarantee that Ford would win.

A close second was new democratic leader Andrea Horwath. Her inadequate and incompetent leadership of her party left Ontario voters no choice. Her hidebound position on the York University strike before the election left voters with the clear impression that she could only follow the party line.

I thought the guy who really helped Ford was Patrick Brown’s friend Walied Soliman. He was chair of Brown’s campaign team and “The People’s Guarantee” that Walied’s team put together and had Brown present last November was one of the most brilliant pieces of propaganda that I have seen for a long time. Weak in content, it made up for it in slickness. Ford only loathed it because it had Brown’s picture on the cover.

But the unknown person who orchestrated the charges against Brown by the two young ladies was the real hero of the hour. The timing was perfect. It also showed that the person was not a liberal. It had to be a conservative who recognized that the momentum for whomever became conservative leader could be unstoppable.

And why Walied and his team all told Brown they were resigning and leaving him in the lurch back in January made little sense. As a lawyer, Walied was obviously not thinking as one to leave his friend in such a situation. And any lawyer taking on Brown’s case against CTV might just do very well on a contingency fee.

Brown was a timebomb for the Ontario conservatives. We knew how women felt about him and it was certainly his Achilles’ heel. The only thing he did to help Ford win, was to resign.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

What muted the proportional vote advocates?

June 16th, 2018 by Peter Lowry

It must be the shock of the recent Ontario election has not worn off. You would normally expect a hue and cry by this time for proportional representation in the legislature. It is when you hear about the so-called ‘wasted vote’ and the unfairness of first-past-the-post voting. It is certainly a well-aged whine!

According to the proportional representation people, if the last election had been run by their rules, the election would have produced the following result: The conservatives would have won 50 seats, the new democrats 42 seats, the liberals 25 seats and the greens would have had 6. There would be two more seats in a 124-seat legislature and they could be replacement members for the parties who had their members elected as speaker and deputy speaker.

What is wrong with the entire idea is that the only people really being elected are the leaders of the various parties. Everyone else is appointed from a party list according to a chosen formula.

Instead of Mr. Ford being busy with his transition team, choosing a cabinet and preparing to be sworn in as premier, there would still be arguments raging about whether Mr. Ford could get the confidence of the legislature to form a government. Somebody has to go to the lieutenant governor and be able to say, “I can win a vote of confidence.” That argument could take the entire summer.

The ongoing argument would leave the York University students in limbo and do irreparable harm to a fine university. The legislature would be prevented by the new democrats from meeting to interfere with collective bargaining that obviously does not work for the university governors, their staff, or their students.

In countries that have had proportional representation for a long time, there are far more parties involved. Each special interest group forms their own parties to protect their own turf. They do not often have big-tent parties in those countries that use proportion representation.

I think I will continue to support first-past-the-post voting. It might be a little more ‘rough and tumble’ than some people like but it gets things done. I am not sure how much of the Ontario conservatives under Doug Ford we can take. I do know that we seriously need to rethink our liberalism.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

A fleeting fondness for Ford.

June 15th, 2018 by Peter Lowry

Does premier Ford really feel the love? Sorry Dougie, it’s temporary. The same rage as put a Ford in the premier’s office can just as quickly send him to the same scrap heap as Kathleen Wynne. Ford began and ended his campaign for Ontario in his mother’s basement. Both he and the province would be better off if he had stayed there.

It will be a couple of weeks before Dougie’s team can gather the reins of power at Queen’s Park. We loyal citizens should appreciate the reprieve.

But watch out. Dougie’s couple dozen or so cabinet colleagues will hit the deck—running in all directions. I will be quite interested in seeing who gets what portfolios. It will be our early warning as to where to watch for trouble.

The conservatives will probably launch themselves in office by making the populist move of sending the York University staff back to work. It has been a disgrace the way the university and its staff have allowed their squabble to destroy the hopes of students for education and careers. The new democrats will pay heavily for their obstinance on this before the election, in the name of collective bargaining.

But it is Ford’s promises that are so eagerly anticipated by observers. Frankly there are more than a few of them that he would be smart to forget. The most amusing is the purported ten cent reduction in the price of gasoline for Ford’s favourite big gas guzzling SUVs.

Despite all the trouble he wants to take just to save us ten cents a litre on gas, Ford will find that the oil companies fix the price of gas, not politicians. The oil companies have already told us that gas will be over $1.50 a litre by the end of summer. Dougie’s effort will be like pissing in the wind.

And I am waiting for him to let convenience stores across the province sell beer and wine. We expect a lot of scrabbling to retract on that promise.

Another promise that probably should not be kept is the one to reduce hydro bills by another 12 per cent. Dougie has three choices on that promise. The first choice is to forget it. The second choice is to just transfer the cost to all taxpayers. And the third is to continue to add to the long-term debt of Ontario Hydro and let future generations pay the price, plus interest.

Anyway, there are lots of other foolish promises and we will have a better idea what happens to them depending on the cabinet member responsible. Some might not have an easy job.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Some thoughts on the liberal rout.

June 14th, 2018 by Peter Lowry

The hardest thing to digest from the recent election in Ontario was the anger that fueled the liberal downfall. It was similar to a situation with a child who feels wronged and in the midst of a tantrum of tears and frustration. They often will strike out at the adult who tries to help. It seems Kathleen Wynne was the only adult available.

The liberal premier was an accommodating lamb to the slaughter for the hypocrites of the conservative campaign. The Doug Ford team had little interest in truth or fairness or decency. They could hardly believe their luck when they realized that nobody wanted to waste time with fully costed promises and they could get away with foisting bumper-sticker promises on an angry electorate.

The Ontario new democrats were equally amazed as they realized their good luck. It was certainly not their program or leadership that lead them to dramatically increasing their numbers in the legislature. It was progressives in the province who shared the anger at Wynne’s liberals. And what the hell was their choice when Wynne up and quit before the campaign was over? She deserted her party, she deserted the field. She left with no honour.

And what were voters to do? They were trying to get rid of the insipid Dalton dynasty back in 2011 and got a liberal minority instead. Next, they were offered a choice between a lesbian liberal, a confused conservative and a nebulous new democrat. They really had no choice at the time but to vote liberal.

But they became more and more annoyed with themselves for their choice. Maybe some of these talking heads of television can pick out this or that event that caused Wynne’s honeymoon with Ontario to be short-lived. Wynne had a water torture effect on Ontario.

From the beginning, she was hammered with the gas plants mess from the McGinty era. She added to her own problems with the arrogance of her political manoeuvres in Sudbury. Her good friend Ed Clark sabotaged Wynne with the privatizing and selling off part of Hydro One. She announced the beer and wine in large grocery stores so many times that it became a province-wide joke. And, believe me, not everyone understands the economic or just human values of a $15 per hour minimum wage.

As a liberal, I always had strong reservations about Kathleen Wynne. I was annoyed at her from the beginning of her leadership when she and Glen Murray, MPP from her neighbouring electoral district, corrupted the leadership convention that chose her. It is really regrettable that neither the conservatives nor the NDP had a leader suitable to replace her.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Salutations to Samara!

June 13th, 2018 by Peter Lowry

Somebody else cares! There is help on the horizon. Canada’s political parties have been ground down to unimportant collections of non-entities over the past 40 years. And it seems that the non-partisan Samara Centre for Democracy in Ottawa cares. Welcome to the fray folks.

Samara got into the action because of their excellent work in trying to understand the motivations and concerns of our members of parliament. Despite the forces trying to stuff the members of parliament into sheep pens for their leaders, they do get brave, but only after they leave parliament.

Mind you, whomever told the Samara folks that parliament is just show business for ugly people should be horse whipped. The country’s business is not show business and the last party leader who cared was Pierre Trudeau.

When he was quoted as saying that MPs are non-entities more than 25 feet from parliament hill, the liberal prime minister was referring to most Quebec MPs. He was actually impressed with the strength of the party organization he found supporting strong candidates in other parts of the country.

But after Pierre retired, the Quebec sickness was allowed to spread. The Quebec federal liberal party was a top-down cabal that controlled what riding organization that existed and appointed their candidates. Across the country since then, the shift in all parties has been to party leader control of nominations and policy development. The party has become nothing more than a list of donors that the parties hound for funds and for help in elections. This has to change.

Restoring the individual MP to effectiveness in parliament demands a certain independence from control by the party leader and his whips. It means having a strong and effective party organization in each electoral district across the country. It requires a strong party organization that represents Canada’s regions, provinces and country that stands apart from the elected arm of the party. The party leader runs the elected arm of the party and the party president runs the party.

As it stands today, Canada’s MPs are not doing their job. They are not doing their critical work in committees, they are not effectively representing their electoral district constituents and they are taking a salary from the taxpayers under false pretenses.

There is much to be done and the Samara Centre is helping Canadians to understand the problems.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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