Archive for May, 2012

An end to the democracy we know in Canada.

Monday, May 21st, 2012

THE DEMOCRACY PAPERS #7- Revised  It was in 2007 that The Democracy Papers were written to make the case for our first-past-the-post (FPTP) voting in North America. Despite changes being rejected firmly in Ontario and twice in British Columbia, people will still complain. The complaints are understandable. No system is perfect. Neither is democracy but it is better than the alternatives.

Do you want to trade our democracy for a parliament of minorities?   That is one of the possible results of promoting proportional representation. The people promoting proportional voting see it as the perfect opportunity for more minorities to have a say in our government. They say it is fairer. It is certainly more than fair to minority parties. It is just not the same type of democracy.

People promoting proportional representation argue that it is not fair for a party that might have won 45 per cent of the popular vote to win maybe 55 per cent of the seats. At the same time, they argue that a party that won 10 per cent of the vote but only 3 per cent of the seats should be given another 7 per cent of the seats to make up the difference. That is how they see proportional representation working.

But all they prove by this argument is that they do not understand or want our democracy. Evolving from the Parliament of Westminster, our democracy is not based on political parties. It is a representative-based system of responsible government built on the principle that the people rule. Added to the rule by the people is the protection of minority rights that makes democracy work. This protection of minority rights has evolved to a strong judiciary.

But now people want to throw out the very basis of our electoral system. They want it based on parties and not the representatives we choose. They argue against the first-past-the-post election system that can see someone win with less that a plurality of votes. These same people argue against run-off elections that could ensure that our representatives were all elected with majorities. They argue that because what they really want is a parliament of minorities.

This can occur when many smaller political parties are created to take advantage of a political system such as proportional representation. A recent example of proliferation of smaller parties occurred in the early 1990s when a number of new parties were formed to take advantage of changes in election funding. With the taxpayers picking up more than 80 per cent of the cost of campaigning, Canadians found they had new parties such as the Natural Law Party that had people as candidates who claimed they could levitate.

Other federal parties that formed or revived in this time of opportunity, and are still with us, are the Canadian Action Party made up of people who claim they do not approve of large banks or supra-national corporations, the Christian Heritage Party that claims principles based on biblical ethics, the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) and the Green Party.   These are all parties that would hope to have some of their people appointed if we had proportional government.

In the proposed mixed-member proportional system in 2007, a party needed at least three per cent of the party vote to be eligible for a portion of the appointments. With as few as 200,000 votes across Ontario, a party could have no elected seats but be appointed to as many as five seats in the legislature. From being a loser, this fringe party is being given a great deal of power. They could demand concessions from a minority government for their support. They could even demand seats in the cabinet.

What if the Green Party won enough party support acrossOntarioto be entitled to be appointed seats in a proportional legislature? What are they going to when they are there? There are few people who would complain about the Green Party’s objectives of preserving our environment. In fact, the Green Party platform is actually well represented in the platforms of most of the major parties.   Maybe not as prominent or as forceful but it is there.

The Green’s first choice might be to form a coalition with a party that needs a few extra bodies to form a majority government. That is a common solution for legislative bodies with proportional voting systems. The major party will promise to carry out some of the Green party’s ‘green’ promises, which are in its platform anyway, in exchange for the voting support to keep the party in power.

At the same time, consider how a larger party, needing a partner to form the government, accommodates a minority party with absolutely no similar policies? For the Conservative Party, for example, to find any common ground with the Marxist-Leninists or the Canadian Action Party would be difficult.

The problem is the narrow focus of most of these splinter parties. They can rarely win a riding because of that narrow focus. They bring nothing to the legislature but their narrow view. And they only represent the people who share their view. Given enough of these parties, the legislative body can descend into a parliament of minorities. Who then represents you?

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Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry

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

Putting prosperity in the hands of a banker.

Sunday, May 20th, 2012

Will Premier Dalton McGuinty ever learn? He has put another banker in charge of the province’s Jobs and Prosperity Council. Has the lesson of Don Drummond been so soon forgotten? Drummond was TD Bank’s contribution to budgets. Now Royal Bank’s President and Chief Executive Officer Gordon Nixon is going to tell us how to create prosperity and jobs in Ontario.

While there is no doubt that Mr. Nixon runs a very profitable and far-flung banking enterprise, it is basically a bank. You just do not consider it a hotbed of job creation and innovation. Bankers and entrepreneurs are not necessarily compatible species.

It smacks of the Don Drummond experience. Drummond reported to the province that they should cut all government expenses and balance the books for the province. At one point, we thought the exercise was designed to make Ontario Treasurer Dwight Duncan seem more human. All it proved was that Duncan had no worthwhile ideas of his own other than to sell the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) headquarters in Toronto. (If he had offered to sell the LCBO, we would have paid more attention.)

But to have any banker chair a council delegated to the task of advising the government on ideas and methods to create jobs and improve financial growth in the province is, to say the least, questionable. That is like creating a firewall against innovation. It is a built in discouragement to putting forward ideas. You have to be able to take the allowances for failure far beyond the levels bankers will accept. We have to encourage entrepreneurs, not bankers.

Entrepreneurs are far below any bankers’ horizon. The start-ups draw first on what is known as ‘love money.’ This is the hidden reserves of society that are kept away from the bankers in pantry cupboards and under the mattress. This is spent and gone before the entrepreneurs reach for the venture money. Banks are still a distant target because, for them, you need regular cash flow and assets.

Ontario’s manufacturing muscle will have to be replaced without much help from Harper’s Conservatives in Ottawa. We have an educated population. We have a tradition of entrepreneurialism. We can innovate. We can build. And, with respect for RBC’s Mr. Nixon, Premier McGuinty does not know what he is doing..

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Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry

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

Asking the ‘Why’s’ of proportional voting.

Saturday, May 19th, 2012

THE DEMOCRACY PAPERS #6- Revised  It was in 2007 that The Democracy Papers were written to make the case for our first-past-the-post (FPTP) voting in North America. Despite changes being rejected firmly in Ontario and twice in British Columbia, people still complain. The complaints are understandable. No system is perfect. Neither is democracy but it is better than the alternatives.

In the 2007 provincial election, Ontario voters were presented with a referendum that was not just a choice between one electoral system and another. It was a challenge to the democratic principle of one person; one vote.

The referendum question was whether you favoured the present first-past-the-post electoral system or would you like to have something called mixed-member proportional (MMP) voting that was proposed by Ontario’s Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform?

Superficially, the citizens’ assembly proposal could be seen as fairer.   It is not.

The first and most basic difference about the proposed system is that voters will get two votes, one for an individual candidate and one for a political party. If you vote for the individual, are you not, in fact, voting for that candidate’s party? Under what circumstances would you, as a voter, want to vote for a candidate and then vote for another party?

‘Maybe,’ you think, ‘I can vote for the individual and then for a party that I would like to see represented in the legislature.’

This ‘why’ is confusing. ‘Why can’t this party get anybody elected to the legislature? Will their members not be as good legislators as the candidate I already voted for? Are they going to be a second class member of the legislature, members with seats but who do not report to any constituents other then the party bosses? Do these appointed people represent their party or the voters?’

And the questions continue. They become even more complex. And there is really nowhere to turn with questions where you might expect an unbiased answer.

To be fair, and our voters are fair, they might ask questions of some of the cheerleaders for the proportional voting idea. ‘Why,’ you might ask, ‘should the seats in the house be topped up to match the popular vote for party?’

‘That is generous but why does the proposal, in turn, take the win away from a party with 53 per cent of the elected seats but only 40 per cent of the party vote?’

The mathematical implications of MMP voting are complex. There are many permeations and scenarios that can be as intriguing as they are frightening. The conclusion is that the most likely split of candidate and party vote is where there is a strong candidate who has earned a personal following but whose voters usually support other parties. This scenario can only work against the smaller parties.

The MMP cheerleaders will also tell you that more women and minorities can be appointed to the legislature from the party lists. That evokes a very big ‘why?’ If you look around the Ontario legislature or Parliament as they are at the present, you will see women and various minorities already there. Many of these people will be insulted if you suggest to them that they could be appointed instead of elected.

The MMP cheerleaders also tell you that the at-large, supernumerary appointees to the legislature under MMP will be eager to represent voters in ridings that are not represented by their party. That is a very nice fairytale but reality is that there is no incentive for persons who are representing a party to waste time looking after voters’ needs. (In Germanywhere a mix of proportional representation is used, they had to create a petitions committee of the Bundestag to make sure voters’ concerns were heard.)

The appointed members under MMP are chosen by their political parties. They would probably be chosen in very much the same way as Canadians choose the Senate of Canada. They are just not as likely to be as useful. These are the losers in the ridings and party hacks who do not want to have to run for election. Under MMP, they would be mixed in with the general population of members. We would never know if they do anything. If we simply gave the party leader the number of votes to cast as these people would have exercised, it would be a far cheaper solution.

But the cheerleaders tell us that in a new MMP legislature, the parties will have to work together in coalitions and that the system will reward cooperation, compromise and accountability. This seems based on the supposition that there would no longer be majority governments. They think that minorities spell an end to partisan rigidity, trivial bickering and narrow thinking. They obviously were not in Ottawa between 2006 and 2011 to see how that minority government was getting along!

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Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry

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

Do the NDP and Liberals need a trial marriage?

Friday, May 18th, 2012

This romance is not getting off the ground. Are we too shy to be the one to make the first move? And you do not have to do it for love. Nor is anybody pregnant. The simple facts are that the Conservatives consolidated with the right and finally won a majority government. We let that happen because there was no corresponding consolidation on the left. If the Liberals and NDP do not join forces, we will both be wandering over the scorched earth of a Canada in the punitive hands of the malcontents of the far right.

Canadians do not want nor do they deserve what Stephen Harper and his sycophants are doing to this country. And neither proportional representation nor preferential voting are going to save the day as long as Stephen Harper’s people can win the country with just 40 per cent of the popular vote. He can count, you know!

What we do know about this marriage is that some of our old swains are going to dessert us. The NDP is going lose some of the direct union support. The Liberals are going to be cut in with the mass desertion of the party’s right wing. That is fine. Unions were useful but they had been steadily drifting over to the Liberals anyway. The right wing of the Liberal Party is no loss as those people did us more harm than good.

If Dalton McGuinty was not one of those hidebound conservatives in liberal clothing, we could have a trial marriage here in Ontario. The Ontario Liberal Party desperately needs the humanizing influence that Andrea Horwath’s party could bring to the Liberal caucus. And we would certainly wish Dalton McGuinty well, over there in Tiny Tim Hudak’s caucus. Those two deserve each other.

The critical test for the marriage of the federal wings of the parties is Thomas Mulcair. He needs to be willing to undergo another leadership contest. The best guess is that his ego would tell him to go for it. And he could win.

It also solves the problem for the Liberal leadership. Bob Rae is not the darling of the Liberal left wing. He never has been. Too many of the Liberal left were turned off by his failed leadership in Ontario in the 1990s. Besides, the leadership of a combined new Liberal Democratic Party opens all kinds of interesting possibilities.

The Liberal caucus in Ottawa has some excellent younger contenders who can wait the one or two terms in Parliament if Mulcair is leading their party. There is another possibility in Nathan Cullen. As it stands today, Mike Crawley, president of the Liberal Party of Canada, should be talking to his counterpart in the federal NDP. The wedding bells are ringing.

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Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry

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

Looking at proportional voting.

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

THE DEMOCRACY PAPERS #5- Revised  It was in 2007 that The Democracy Papers were written to make the case for our first-past-the-post (FPTP) voting in North America. Despite changes being rejected firmly in Ontario and twice in British Columbia, people still complain. The complaints are understandable. No system is perfect. Neither is democracy but it is better than the alternatives.

Have you wondered why those who support proportional voting only mention two examples of legislative bodies that are elected by that method? There are other examples and some of them have important lessons to share with Canadian voters.

The poster child of proportional voting is New Zealand. That country has had mixed-member proportional (MMP) voting for the past ten years. All most Ontario voters know about New Zealand is that the people speak English, the South Island has the mountains and the small country exports a lot of frozen lamb. The Canadian voters who can name the prime minister of New Zealand might not be more than two in a thousand.

The other example, only mentioned in passing, is Germany. Proportional voting has existed in some of the German states and in that country’s federal government since the days of the Weimar Republic. MMP was just a temporary compromise after the Second World War.

Proportional voting is one of the most common voting systems in the world as many third world countries use it to overcome low literacy rates among voters. It is much easier for an illiterate voter to choose a party symbol rather than deal with the complexity of candidates’ names. Canada does not have a major problem with voter literacy.

There are many variations of proportional voting. The best example of pure proportional voting is the system used to elect the Knesset of the State of Israel. This has been the system used since the first election in the new state in 1949. The number and make-up of political parties shift as the do sands of the desert areas of the country. The large cabinets are usually made up of representatives of various parties.

An important example of mixed-member proportional representation is the House of Representatives that forms part of Japan’s Diet. The appointed members and elected members do not always enjoy friendly relations. Riots in the Diet are an embarrassment to their countrymen.

A closer example of proportional voting is in the United States where the system is used to select the President. The Electoral College, charged with selecting the President, is elected state by state on a proportional basis. If the Americans used FPTP voting for President, Al Gore would have won the election in 2000 against George W. Bush.

A number of cities in the United States have also experimented with proportional voting systems. Most notable was New York City. It implemented proportional voting in 1936 in an attempt to clean up imbedded corruption in the city government. This voting system was revoked after a decade by what many claimed were the elites who were unhappy about the number of radicals, blacks and communists who were getting elected. More importantly, the proportional system earned the enmity of the major newspapers and the experiment ended.

Most of Europe, as well as the European Parliament, use proportional systems of one sort or another. One notable exception is France. The French instituted proportional voting after the Second World War but switched back to FPTP in the late 1950s. With the exception of the federal election of 1986, the French have preferred their system of run-off elections that ensures all successful candidates have a majority of votes.

The mother of parliaments, Great Britain, has held onto first-past-the-post voting in single candidate ridings. Despite this, the country has gone along with proportional voting on representatives to the European Parliament. The devolved governing bodies of Scotland and Wales which could be looked on as provincial bodies (unless you are a Scot or Welsh) are using MMP voting.

While the majority of countries in South America use proportional representation to elect their governments, only Bolivia and Venezuela use mixed (both constituency and list candidates) representation. Closer to home, the next major country to use mixed representation is Mexico. It is possible that those promoting MMP have decided not to say to Canadians: “Let’s have a government just like Mexico’s.”

What becomes clear as you examine the various countries and their electoral systems is that the dynamic countries that offer the leadership to the rest of the world are mainly those countries that have retained first-past-the-post electoral systems. The countries that have opted for proportional systems are mainly countries that are trying (though not always succeeding) to develop a consensus approach to governance.

For all the weaknesses and frustrations of first-past-the-post, the conclusion is that North Americans like it. They know it is a system that forces candidates to take the time, make the effort and show the determination to win. Our first-past-the-post electoral system challenges the candidates, not the voters. It is the voters who benefit.

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Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry

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

Toronto casino is a human rights question.

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

What right does anyone have to tell you where or when you can gamble? The Toronto Star is feeding Torontonians sanctimonious claptrap in its fight against having a Toronto casino. The posturing politicians at city hall are worse. They have no idea what their constituents want done about casinos. And if even just one in ten of Toronto’s citizens want to have a casino in the city, what right do those who do not want to go to a casino to stop it?

Grow up TorStar! Act like a newspaper that cares for our rights. Are you going to demand a plebiscite for new churches next? That will be fun. You can spread vicious rumours about the secret rites that might be practiced at prayer meetings. You can warn against the dangers of tithing. You can spread distrust about the morals of the pastor. Do you want a city that will toe your myopic editorial line?

Gambling is not something we should only enable in back rooms, run by sleezebags and with games of questionable honesty. People gamble. It is a very human activity. People were tossing the bones in wagers before they developed dice. Playing cards predate Margaret Atwood. The Roman Church first used the vernacular to call: Under the ‘B,’ three. When the hockey season finally ends, we can still get together for a friendly poker game.

Is there something moral in the Star dissing a casino? Are you purer than the pure? We went to a casino the other evening, had a great dinner, saw a fabulous live show (The Trans-Siberian Orchestra) and won a few bucks at the craps table. We each had one alcoholic beverage all evening and were home in bed shortly after midnight. We cannot figure out what we did that you consider so wrong. And, oh yes, the casino treated us to the dinner and show.

If you are worried about gambling addiction, you are barking up the wrong tree about that. Look at the great job we are doing in Toronto on banning street drugs. We have had years to eliminate alcohol addiction. There are still addicted smokers polluting doorways around town. Barring casinos in Toronto hardly stops addictive gamblers from gambling in Toronto.

Listen up TorStar: Canadians have a right to gamble if they want. Just look at recent elections results and tell us that we do not gamble.

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Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry

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

Brush up your calculus for proportional voting.

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

THE DEMOCRACY PAPERS #4- Revised  It was in 2007 that The Democracy Papers were written to make the case for our first-past-the-post (FPTP) voting in North America. Despite changes being rejected firmly in Ontario and twice in British Columbia, people still complain. The complaints are understandable. No system is perfect. Neither is democracy but it is better than the alternatives.

In October 2007, Ontario voters were presented with a referendum ballot that asked them if they wish to have mixed-member proportional (MMP) voting.   This is a system in which each of the political parties provides a list of people eligible to be appointed to 30 per cent of the seats in the legislature.   If chosen, these selected people will not have a constituency and will not be directly responsible to the electors.

The referendum was defeated. By almost two to one, Ontario voters rejected this form of voting. You would think it was settled. No such luck.

People still want to have seats in the legislature and in Parliament for the losing parties, proportional to their popular vote. They think this is simple. It is not. When you agree to proportional voting, you will find you have to learn a new math.   It was in the plan for MMP produced by the Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform.   What the citizens’ assembly attempted to do was give more legislature seats to smaller political parties by appointing members to the legislature instead of electing them.   They asked for a very confusing, if not mind-boggling, mathematical process appointing 39 people to the legislature.

With this new math also comes a new language for elections. The simplest of these terms is quotient. We learned that one in the lower grades at school because it is what you call the answer when you divide one number by another. The example given is when you divide the Ontario population of 12,160,000 by 90 electoral districts and you find there will be a quotient of 135,100 people per riding. Those are very large ridings.

But the quotient according to this new math can change if you have an ‘overhang.’ This is one of the more interesting of the new terms. Overhangs occur when your party wins more local ridings than the number to which it would be entitled according to the party vote which has been separated from the candidate vote.

In effect, the system will penalize parties that win more seats than the citizens’ assembly think they should. Under the new game rules, parties who overhang will not get any of their list candidates appointed to the legislature. A party with more elected seats than all other parties combined could thus be restricted in its ability to form a government. The final results are determined by a calculation using something called the ‘Hare formula.’ This formula is used to help distribute seats to losing candidates.

This means a candidate who has lost the election in his or her riding can still be a member of the legislature because of the Hare formula. Technically, loser candidates are known as ‘list candidates.’ These are people who run in ridings and are listed in order of preference by their political parties and the names are given to Elections Ontario before the election. These listed people will be available for appointment to the legislature, only if they have been rejected by the voters in their riding.

What this means is political parties get the decision making power over that of the voters.   If the party’s candidates are rejected by the voters in a riding, the party can still appoint them. This conclusion is not surprising. Since the citizens’ assembly members were themselves chosen by lottery, there was no requirement for them to understand democracy.

Under this formula, to form a majority government, a party has to have a minimum of 65 members in the legislature, holding either riding or proportional seats.

Luckily for Ontario voters, all this confusion was swept away by the people (one per riding) hired by Elections Ontario. These people were to explain MMP voting to Ontario residents. Luckily, Elections Ontario decided to spend just $6.8 million on all of their educational efforts. The ‘Yes’ side thought they should have spend at least $13 million of taxpayers’ money to help people understand the proposal.   Judging by the mathematics involved, that figure was low.

But the funniest error of all was the union support that was doing the riding by riding organizing for a pro-MMP organization called Fair Vote Ontario.   The unions thought that MMP will bring the NDP more seats in the legislature.   Now there is a group that really needs to study the mathematics.

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Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry

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

 

Bloody bother these Brit royals.

Monday, May 14th, 2012

No doubt you have heard, Charlie and his lovely wife, Camilla, are en route to Toronto. It is all part of celebrating the Queen’s Jubilee. Yes, she has reigned over us for the past 60 years and she has often graced us with her presence on our soil.

Too bad we got our dose of the Bill and Kate honeymoon show last year. Somehow, Charlie and Camilla do not have the same panache. She is too dowdy by half. And he comes across as a reject from a City of London accounting firm. He does look so at home with a bowler and a brolly!

But this is not to be churlish about it. The Brit royals have a perfect right to travel and tour as they can afford it. They just have the added convenience of having tour guides wherever they go and are most unlikely to get lost or mugged during their travels. And like most Brit tourists, they do like to do it on the cheap. Getting their hosts to pay for everything is a time-honoured tradition.

The monarchists will try to tell you that it costs us nothing to use a Brit royal as our Head of State but not when they or their spawn are visiting. Their cavalcades can certainly screw up our traffic. Mind you, if we let them drive on the wrong side of the road, we would have more than a few traffic jams to worry about.

We hear that Charlie and Camilla will be visiting the Distillery District while in Toronto. Wait until Charlie finds out that all that they have on tap is a home made beer. Even back when Gooderham and Worts was in production there, the company produced Canadian Rye, not that nectar of the Scottish Highlands that Charlie prefers.

Some wit has decided that it would be great fun to have Charlie and Camilla do part of their Toronto tour on a Toronto Transit Commission bus. Hopefully, it will be cleaned before Camilla parks her behind in it. Come to think of it, that is how many of us learned in our youth to find our way around the city. Maybe, soon, the royals can strike out on their own. Just give them some transit tickets.

Every time we get into one our diatribes about the stupidity of having a foreign Head of State for Canada, we always have to make the point that, as royals go, the Brit royals seem like nice people. No doubt, it must be convenient to be born into a life of privilege. There might be a bit of jealousy involved.

But they have to get out of the way of progress.Canada needs a constitutional congress to fix what is wrong with our system of government. The Brit royals are unlikely to make the cut. Pity!

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Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry

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

Do the NDP and Liberals need a trial marriage?

Sunday, May 13th, 2012

This romance is not getting off the ground. Are we too shy to make the first move? And you do not have to do it for love. Nor is anybody pregnant. The simple facts are that the Conservatives consolidated with the right and finally won a majority government. We let that happen because there was no corresponding consolidation on the left. If the Liberals and NDP do not join forces, we will both be wandering over the scorched earth of a Canada in the punitive hands of the malcontents of the far right.

Canadians do not want nor do they deserve what Stephen Harper and his sycophants are doing to this country. And neither proportional representation nor preferential voting are going to save the day as long as Stephen Harper’s people can win the country with just 40 per cent of the popular vote. He can count, you know!

What we do know about this marriage is that some of our old swains are going to dessert us. The NDP is going lose some of the direct union support. The Liberals are going to be damaged by the mass desertion of the party’s right wing. That is fine. Unions were useful but they had been steadily drifting over to the Liberals anyway. The right wing of the Liberal Party is no loss as those people did us more harm than good.

If Dalton McGuinty was not one of those hidebound conservatives in liberal clothing, we could have a trial marriage here in Ontario. The Ontario Liberal Party desperately needs the humanizing influence that Andrea Horwath’s party could bring to the Liberal caucus. And we would certainly wish Dalton McGuinty well, over there in Tiny Tim Hudak’s caucus. Those two deserve each other.

The critical test for the marriage of the federal wings of the parties is Thomas Mulcair. He needs to be willing to undergo another leadership contest. The best guess is that his ego would tell him to go for it. And he could win.

It also solves the problem for the Liberal leadership. Bob Rae is not the darling of the Liberal left wing. He never has been. Too many of the Liberal left were turned off by his failed leadership in Ontario in the 1990s. Besides, the leadership of a combined new Liberal Democratic Party opens all kinds of interesting possibilities.

The Liberal caucus in Ottawa has some excellent younger contenders who can wait the one or two terms in Parliament if Mulcair is leading their party. There is another possibility in Nathan Cullen. As it stands today, Mike Crawley, president of the Liberal Party of Canada, should be talking to his counterpart in the federal NDP. The wedding bells are ringing.

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Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry

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

An American election based on bigotry.

Friday, May 11th, 2012

The reaction has been swift and overwhelming. Here it is five months to the American presidential election of 2012 and the lead issue is defined as same sex marriage. Obama has made his stand and Romney has made his. And the dogs of war are loosed.

It shames America. Same sex marriage is not an election issue. It is pandering to the puerile. It is an issue designed to divide. It heals nothing. It stands for tolerance and incites intolerance. It is live and let live in a country of judgement. Of the 100 most serious problems facing America, same sex marriage does not make the list.

And neither candidate feels the issue. It has no pertinence in their daily lives. It is not likely to even be a family issue. They are treating a human rights issue as more important than the real needs of Americans. Neither candidate is politically correct.

Mitt Romney has made no change. His view of same sex marriage is based on his religious views. He is now using it to pander to the religious right in his country. He is breaking his vow to keep his religious separate from his political positions. His position is not defensible.

And there is little honour to Barrack Obama in the issue. His Vice President Joe Biden broke the silence on the issue for him. His famous rhetoric failed him as he gave weak support to the only position open to him.

America is a country with earned enemies abroad and within. The Middle East is rife with those who would make religious jihad against the crusaders in khaki. Envy, resentment, distrust, and anger are the reality in many parts of the world. The political errors of past presidents are not the only failings as unfettered American business continues to rape and pillage in the tradition of the privateers of old.

And yet there are enough seeds of destruction being nurtured in America. It hardly needs enemies offshore. Unless there are three moons in the sky in November there will still be a divided Congress to stand intransigent against sensible budgets and honest taxation in a country where ‘what is mine is mine.’

The battle for the White House is a long and tiring tradition in America. You would think the participants would be willing to add a little common sense to the mix.

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Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry

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