Archive for May, 2010

COMMENT FOR TODAY

Friday, May 21st, 2010

The all-party committee of MPs should hang their heads in disgrace,

Hiding costs from us who pay you is not allowed in the human race.

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#40 – Leading with your left.

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

They used to say that the Liberal Party campaigned on the left and governed on the right. It used to be true. When it failed was during the short tenure of Paul Martin as Canada’s Prime Minister. After the damage done to Canada’s social programs when Martin was Jean Chrétien’s finance minister and his so obvious ties to the business community, he had no credibility with which to campaign effectively from the left of the political spectrum. The voters would not buy it.

Since the days of Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier, the Liberal Party has tried to sit broadly across the middle of the political spectrum. It enables the party to attract both left and right wing candidates, supporters and voters. The party tries to be all things to meet the wants of the voters but slow enough to implement change to please the most stolid of the right wing. As a provincial party leader once explained to a group of unhappy left wing members of the party, no policy was going to happen unless both the right and left wings could flap in unison.

For a left-wing thinker such as Herb Gray, who gave 40 years of his life to Canada’s Parliament, the rate of change was glacial but he never lost his humour or his belief that the party could meet its commitments to people. The same could be said about another long-serving left-wing Liberal, Lloyd Axworthy. Lloyd did much to meet the needs of the people in his riding and across Manitoba. These parliamentarians believed in the promises of the left.

But where does the Liberal Party stand today? There seems to be a question mark. And it falls on Michael Ignatieff to clarify the question.

Despite sporadic voices calling for a merger with the New Democratic Party, there is no clear movement in that direction. When Stéphane Dion tried to form a coalition with the NDP, along with the support of the Bloc Québécois, it was never clear whether Michael Ignatieff rejected the coalition because he was more concerned about being seen out and about with the NDP or taking help from the Bloc.

The time has come Michael to state your intentions.

A merger with the NDP is not the be all and end all for the problem. The party could lose two right wing supporters for every staunch union person being dragged kicking and screaming into the den of the enemy Liberals. What such a merger can do is return credibility to the Liberal Party. Social solutions can be promised by a clearly left of centre party and social solutions can be implemented by the party when in power.

We can have a national daycare program. We can strengthen medicare. We can work towards a guaranteed income for all Canadians. We can make things happen.

It is really up to you Michael. If you fight Stephen Harper on the right of the political spectrum, he will laugh his way back to the Prime Minister’s office with a clear majority. Fight him on the left—with the NDP on side—and you will have an opportunity to lead Canada into a greater future.

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

COMMENT FOR TODAY

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

The Tory government tries to keep the world safe for bankers,

Finance Minister Flaherty can’t have all for which he hankers.

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COMMENT FOR TODAY

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

The Buddha teaches: Life is dear to all beings,

The Thai need to heed the Buddha’s teachings.

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#39 – Some liberal advice for Michael Ignatieff.

Monday, May 17th, 2010

The Harper Conservative government has to go. Now. The divisiveness, the bitterness, the confrontations and the sleaze of today’s Ottawa are an embarrassment for all Canadians. Nobody deserves this type of government. It is time to do something.

Michael Ignatieff, pay heed. You cannot allow the Harper Conservatives to continue to reign. They are dragging you down to their level. They are dividing your party. They are belittling you and the rest of the House of Commons. They are harming Canada’s reputation among civilized nations. They are hurting women and minorities in Canada and around the world. They will do anything; lie, cheat and steal to stay in power. Their agenda is of power not people. Their tactics are division not inclusion.

Michael, please do your part. Get out in front and lead. We will do our part in the ridings, getting rid of as many of Mr. Harper’s more disgusting supporters as we can.

And you can tell this country that we are getting out of Dodge and Kandahar just as fast as we can get planes there to pick up our troops. If one more Canadian life is wasted in that God-forsaken, opium-farming country, do not let it be your damn fault.

Get us into an election and you can talk to Canadians about jobs. Not retail jobs. Not jobs for kids to nuke hamburgers. Talk about real jobs. That is what is needed and that is what our government has to encourage and nurture.

You can do more about the environment than any air-head who thinks that is the only issue. That smirking Harper thinks he is above talking about the environment but you have to stop him and his friends from fouling our air and our water and our farmland and our food. Our environment is not here for individual profit. It belongs to all of us and to future generations. This country is too precious to rape for coal for the Chinese and oil for the Americans. Either harvest resources with respect for our land, for our seas and for our air or do not take them at all.

Harper and his minions are going to tell Canadians that they have solved the economic crisis but the indicators are that the financial world is still much too fragile. You have to tell the world that Harper’s laissez-faire economics do not work. There have to be rules. There have to be controls. We have to have people who can enforce the rules. No matter where people locate their money, they have to pay their share of taxes. They have to obey the rules.

It’s time to move to the left Michael. Business no longer calls the shots. We have to welcome the NDP into a Liberal Party that works for people. We have to believe in national daycare. We have to be in front of a guaranteed income for Canadians. And dental care and a health plan that includes the prescription drugs people need. There is a special club in the Liberal Party, Michael. Its founding members included people such as the late Pierre Trudeau. We called it the Get Off Your Ass club. You can join.

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

COMMENT FOR TODAY

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

The land’s green, weather’s great, there’s little to complain about,

Turn off the computer, rush out, greet today with a joyous shout.

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COMMENT FOR TODAY

Saturday, May 15th, 2010

A Member of Parliament who votes to deny women’s right,

Next election—no matter what party–will get a tough fight.

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COMMENT FOR TODAY

Friday, May 14th, 2010

The Barrie MP’s sleazy act at Wednesday’s Jaffer hearing,

Sets a new low even for a person who’s used to smearing.

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#38 – Choosing Canada’s future.

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

How do you choose a future for your country? We have certainly seen enough examples of how not to change the country. They range from revolution to political edicts. Last time we had a revolution, we hung a few rebels (1837 and 1885). Political edicts really do not work for fundamental changes because the next politician in line can un-edict them. A politician such as Lester Pearson can give us Medicare but subsequent politicians can pervert the intent. It is when a change is agreed to by the voters that politicians are more cautious about changing it back.

The last major attempt at change was the Charlottetown Accord that Canadian voters rejected more because it was a solution presented by politicians rather than a properly debated and understood change. In Ontario and British Columbia there were attempts at changing how people vote—moving from first-past-the-post to a form of proportional representation. They failed because the people pushing the proposals were less democratic in being chosen than their proposed changes.

In Ontario, the government actually held a form of lottery to pick one participant in each electoral district. These lottery winners were then given presentations by academics on various options. The outcome was obvious: they were given these choices, so they picked one. The entire project was a fiasco and Ontario voters turned thumbs down on the recommendation of the lottery winners. The results were similar in British Columbia where the government gave the voters two opportunities to change the voting system—with the same negative result both times.

The obvious answer is to use democratic methods to choose the people making the recommendation. If the people are chosen democratically, then the voters can take ownership of their deliberations. They have to have their discussions and debates in open forums. They have to be available to take input from the people who selected them. They have to be people who can function within a political environment.

That was what Ontario’s lottery winners lacked. With not being chosen democratically, they had no concept of how people would react to what they recommended. It would color citizens’ perceptions of the results if one political party dominated the proceedings and the results would have a more balanced reception with a reasonably balance of political philosophies among the participants.

Whether we called it a constitutional assembly or a Friday night fish fry, it would still need to attract the participation of people interested in how the country works and with ideas about how we can make it better. Some political science professors would be attracted but these people tend to be long on theory and short on practical knowledge and might have a difficult time getting elected to the assembly.

This is what is called a KISS solution. It means keep it simple stupid. And that is also one of the important keys to making it work. Confuse the voters and they will withdraw their support. As long as the average person can easily follow the process, understand the necessary discussions and dialogues and appreciate the conclusions, we could have a winning formula to Canada’s future. All we have to do is build some support.

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

COMMENT FOR TODAY

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

The campaign for municipal office is lumbering along,

You’d think when it’s so boring, it’d be short not long.

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