Archive for December, 2012

The Morning Line: Sandra Pupatello at 5-2.

Monday, December 31st, 2012

Windsor’s Sandra Pupatello is clearly the front runner in the January Ontario Liberal Stakes. While that might not be good news for the Liberal Party, there is no denying that her aggressive and well-funded campaign is leaving her GTA opponents tangled in their struggles for dominance in that area.

Pupatello’s lack of a seat in the legislature and her statement that she would keep it prorogued until she has a by-election was a strategic error at the start of the campaign. Liberals are embarrassed by the use of what they see as a Stephen Harper/Conservative tactic to give the party time to choose a new leader. She is also confounding many Liberal Party members with her strong right-wing stance.

Despite her aggressive, take-no-prisoners speaking style in the debates, Pupatello’s campaign team have created a very personable Sandra in contact with Liberals across the province. In this type of contest, that is the ideal stance. The campaign is also beating others to the punch in using modern techniques such as a telephone town hall. Overall, hers is an innovative and friendly campaign that assumes the positive. It means that her campaign team know that her second and third ballot support has to grow. And, so far, it looks like it will.

What is difficult to assess at this stage is Sandra’s ex officio support. These party worthies tend to be more right wing and she will have a substantial share.  We are assuming this could be as much as 30 per cent on the first ballot. These ex officio votes could take her up to 800 votes on the first ballot but we are assuming an averaged figure and are basing our forecast at 700 votes.

We get mixed readings from the Windsor area about Treasurer Dwight Duncan’s involvement. Dwight has alienated much of the left wing of the party in the area and it is hard to read the ultimate impact of this. The only good news is that Duncan is leaving politics and few will miss him. It is now more likely that it is his electoral district in which Pupatello will run, should she win the leadership.

There are two campaigns that could potentially upset the Pupatello express to the leadership and we will discuss those two campaigns over the next couple days.

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Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry

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

You also need to listen Martha.

Sunday, December 30th, 2012

There is no question but that Tom Clark’s West Block on Global Television is the best short glimpse each week of what is going on in Canadian politics. It is an opportunity for aspiring politicians to observe, to listen and to learn. When invited on the show, you should listen carefully to your host. Guest, Liberal Martha Hall Findlay was so eager to make her points this week, she managed to talk over the attempts of Tom Clark to manage his show. And that is bad form.

Martha needs humility. She also needs lessons on handling television interviewers. There are interviewers whom you never want to appear with again and there are those who can do you some good. Tom Clark is one of the good ones. Continuously talking over him is a recipe for never being invited back.

What she really needed to listen to was the series of questions that Tom intends to ask each of the competitors for the federal Liberal leadership. This was an opportunity to gain ground and, in this contest, Martha has a long way to go.

The only question for which Martha had a ready answer was the one about whether British Columbia should be compensated for oil pipelines across that province. She came right back with Alberta Premier Alison Redford’s answer that they can have anything they want as long as it came from the private sector and not from Alberta’s cut of the pie. Martha gave the same answer and then embellished it while saying the same thing again.

What these politicians do not seem to understand is that the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline across Northern B.C. to Kitimat is really a two way pipeline. It is designed to pump light crude oil to Alberta to mix with tar sands bitumen which then enables a larger pipeline to pump the resulting slurry back to Kitimat. What a smart politician would do with that question would be to redirect it to the very serious environmental concerns.

With MP Joyce Murray overshadowing her in the west, Hall Findlay has less and less going for her in the federal leadership. It might be time to cut her losses.

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Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry

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

F-35, the gift that keeps on gifting.

Saturday, December 29th, 2012

The news media in Ottawa never really appreciated Prime Minister Jean Chrétien’s weird sense of humour. They probably thought you needed to be from Chicoutimi to understand it. This is not true. He merely left traps for his successor. He thought it was Paul Martin on whom he had pulled the jokes. It turned out to be Stephen Harper. That was fair as far as Chrétien was concerned. He disliked them both.

The Lockheed Martin Joint Strike Fighter program was one of those booby traps. Lucky for Paul Martin, he had barely warmed his chair in the Prime Minister’s Office before the voters gave a squeaker to Stephen Harper. Martin left office not knowing what Jean Chrétien had left for him.

It fell on the Conservatives to mismanage the F-35 file. And mismanage it they did. Defence Minister Peter MacKay made a complete ass of himself enjoying all the photo ops that a new fighter aircraft affords the photogenic. He was totally out of his depth.

When Stephen Harper realized that his Defence Minister was inadequate to handle the file, he gave it to an ex-cop who knew as much about Canada’s requirements for military aircraft as the Prime Minister’s kids. The cop did his job though and dragged the Conservatives further out on a limb. They were determined that Canada was going to get this miraculous fighter aircraft.

But what Chrétien must have realized from day one was that the challenge to Lockheed Martin was impossible. You simply cannot include Canada’s fighter aircraft needs with the strategic needs of the U.S.’s four military services. Canada does not take aircraft to war aboard aircraft carriers. It has no country to attack with a stealth aircraft. Canada has long and rugged coasts to protect and maintain its sovereignty. It does not have the convenience of having lots of places along those coasts to pop down and gas up. It needs a two-engine aircraft for long distances.

What the Canadian military must have been thinking throughout this fiasco remains to be determined. As usual, they just hunkered down and did what they were told.

It is probably for the best that Jean Chrétien will never be blamed for this foolishness. He is retired and can chortle quietly as he tees up for his next round of golf.

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Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry

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

Why do mayors want to change the levee?

Friday, December 28th, 2012

This blog rarely promotes the status quo. A levee is a boring event at the best of times but that does not give city mayors free rein to dick around with the custom. This New Year’s Day we will have the mayors of both Toronto and Babel hosting their own version of what a levee should be. They are questionable changes.

Toronto’s irascible Mayor Ford might be holding his last levee ever before being tossed out of office and he still has not decided just what the event will include. While the meet and greet of citizens will take place inside Toronto City Hall, there is talk of the event deteriorating into a series of skating party for families. While a skating party is always nice, it is not pertinent to the objectives of a levee.

When Louis XIV of France initiated the custom of the levee, he greeted his subjects in his bed chamber. In Canada, the custom fell to the sovereign’s representative. This worthy is expected to be fully clothed when greeting the sovereign’s loyal subjects, offer them something to sip after showing their obeisance and reporting to them, informally, on the state of affairs of their community.

The local armed services play a particularly important part in the levee and officers are expected to attend in dress uniform with full medals and swords. They can look quite elegant standing there with their white gloves, sipping on a tiny cup of eggnog. It is often considered a highlight of the event—the officers, not the eggnog.

In Babel, regrettably, the custom of the levee has been converted into a fund raiser for the county United Appeal. Local caterers and restaurants are contributing paper plates and food for two sittings of lunch at $25 a plate in the City Hall rotunda. Those citizens unable to afford the $25 lunch can come later for free coffee.

What someone should have explained to Babel’s mayor is that a levee is designed to bring the populace together. It is not a time to divide the community into the “haves” and “have nots.” A levee is definitely not the occasion for a fund raiser. Good intentions to not make it right.

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Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry

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

A successful jubilee for the world’s best soap.

Thursday, December 27th, 2012

Nobody beats the Brits at pageantry and soap operas and the British monarchy just had a banner year. It was so successful that they arrogantly broadcast the Queen’s annual message to the Commonwealth in three dimension, high definition television. That must have really pleased a hundredth of one per cent of the audience who could view the Queen in three dimensions. Why they would want that is an interesting question.

Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Second is a very one dimension type of person. She has no interesting side. Her stoicism in making it through her jubilee year was something of a wonder for a person of her age. She runs her extended family with strength and a dry wit that continues to dumbfound her loyal subjects.

The true highlight of her jubilee was that wet and dreary day when anything that could float was pressed into service on the Thames for a royal float past. Even though it endangered the health of the old Duke, he stood steadfast by her side throughout the fiasco. Viewers of the event were never told how many of those scows sank to the bottom of the Thames.

Her royal grandsons continue to be the apple of her royal eye. It is hard to say which is favourite after the eldest and second in line for the throne managed to knock up his anorexic appearing wife. Royal watchers are all a-twitter at that news. It was more than a twitter when the younger Harry got caught starkers with a young lady in Las Vegas. His only excuse was that the Special Branch blokes who were supposed to be watching had their own hookers. His kindly grandma advised him that whatever happens in Las Vegas should stay in Las Vegas.

The world looked in when Her Majesty supposedly arrived to help open the Olympics by parachute. It was, without a doubt, the best pageant to open an Olympic Games ever produced. Later we were treated to the worst pageant to end an Olympics ever produced. London and Her Majesty survived the games but Londoners will never forgive nor forget the traffic jams.

In Canada, Her Majesty’s loyal subjects received Jubilee Medals. The criteria to receive a medal appeared to be being liked by your local Conservative Member of Parliament. This kept the number of medals to be pressed nicely under control.

Some day Canada will put an end to the silliness of its colonial past and have a head of state of its own. That time is long overdue.

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Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry

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

A morning line for the Magnificent Seven.

Wednesday, December 26th, 2012

Developing a morning line at this stage for the Ontario Liberal leadership is tricky. To start with, those not familiar with horse racing, might not be aware that the morning line is the handicapper’s look at a horse’s breeding, training, past performance and prospects in an upcoming race—along with some probable opening odds. Since insiders among Ontario Liberals are betting on this candidate or that, it makes sense to come out with some helpful odds.

Bear in mind that after January 13, insiders will have a partial picture of the field as chosen by 107 electoral districts in Ontario. At that time, party members in each district will have voted for up to 16 delegates and have indicated a first ballot preference. (They have eight choices because they can also vote for “independent” delegates.) The party expects as many as 1500 of these elected delegates to show up at Toronto’s historic Maple Leaf Gardens on January 25 and 26 and pay $250 to $600 for the privilege of attending the voting.

While the results of the party’s choices on January 12 and 13 are supposed to be secret until the first ballot results are announced on January 26, you have to remember that a secret is something known by just one person. The more people who know a secret, the faster it ceases to be a secret.

The further puzzle for the morning line is that there will be about 800 ex officio delegates coming to the meeting and they do not have to make commitments. As these figures include party presidents, previous candidates and sitting members of the Legislature, they carry an inordinate influence on the people from their electoral district. And the bad news is that these people do not make very good choices.

And to the surprise of those outside the party event, the front-runner on the first ballot will not necessarily be the winner. (Dalton McGuinty was fourth on the first ballot at the 1996 convention, that ultimately chose him leader.) There is even a strategy sometimes used in this type of convention where the candidate has 50 to 75 key supporters vote for someone else on the first ballot to assure an appearance of growth when they vote for their candidate on the second ballot. If a candidate does not show growth on subsequent ballots, they quickly fall by the wayside.

Voting on January 26 is quite likely to go to four ballots with the candidate with the least votes dropping off after each ballot. The smart candidate team keeps careful records of their potential second ballot support. All the handicapper can do at this stage is make some educated guesses.

Any suggestions from our Ontario network of readers will be helpful. We will publish the results of our morning line research next week. We will give you one a day for seven days. We will start with the front runner and work our way down to the really bad news. It is going to be fun.

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Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry

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

 

Christmas nonsense from an Ontario Liberal.

Monday, December 24th, 2012

With sincere apologies to Lewis Carroll

“You are old, Premier Dalton,” the young man said,
“But your province has survived despite you;
And yet you incessantly put us in dread—
Do you really think, at times, it is right to?”

“In my youth,” Premier Dalton replied to the voter,
“I feared ideas might injure the brain;
But now that I’m sure I have no political future,
Why, I have them again and again.”

“You are old,” said the voter, “No longer straight as an arrow,
And have grown most uncommonly mean;
Yet you ignored it when GM gave Michigan the Camaro—
Is it part of your plan to turn Ontario green?”

“In my youth,” said the Ontario Premier, “I kept my own counsel,
“And I voted the way I was told.
I still do—and I hope to be named to the Queen’s Privy Council.
An honour, not offered the bold.”

“You are old,” said Sandra Pupatello, “Its time to give me the reins
Ontario’s ready for a woman to run it;
Not just with a woman’s intuition—but by a woman with brains,
After all, you’re a man and you blew it!”

“In my youth,” said her leader, “I took up the law,
And argued each case with wife Terri;
I lost every case before her—but judges sat in awe,
And that’s why today I am wary.”

“You are old,” said Sandra, “one would hardly believe it
That your word is as good as it was;
You blamed the teachers for the provincial deficit—
Will you take the blame for the cause?”

“I have answered three questions, and that is enough,”
Said her leader; “don’t give yourself airs!
Do you think I can listen all day to such stuff?
Be off, or I’ll kick you down stairs!”

Drawn from  Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland—Published in 1865.

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Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry

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

The Hair’s Christmas message.

Sunday, December 23rd, 2012

It was perfect. The controlled studio environment for the interview and the controlled interviewer kept everything in harmony. It was the traditional annual Christmas interview with the Prime Minister of Canada. Dawna Friesen, national news anchor for Global television, was quietly toned down to suit the occasion. The hair has never looked better.

Safe from the gales of outdoors, the hair has been gently teased and softly sprayed for the event. Stephen sat forward in his chair, aggressively controlling in his new glasses. His back slightly stooped from the weighing of time, the Prime Minister was like a corporate sales manager, commenting on the successes of his fiscal year.

The kindly Prime Minister spoke proudly of his efforts to create high quality jobs for Canadians. He explained that he can bring in foreign workers to work for less in the meantime. He is sure though that the provincial premiers are getting the message and arranging proper training for their citizens, so they can also work for less.

In answer to a question about the sale of corporate energy giant Nexen to a Chinese state-owned company, the economist Prime Minister cum sales manager explained that there is a great diversity of trade markets in the world. Mind you, he does not believe that state ownership of market dominating companies is a model for Canada to use.

His major concern for Canadians is that they are building up too much household debt. He thinks that interest rates have been seriously low for too long and this has encouraged Canadians to increase their debt, particularly in the housing market. He expects they will get their comeuppance when mortgage interest rates return to more normal levels.

While every effort had been made to make it easy for the Prime Minister, he seemed to be more rigid than ever—never once sitting back in his chair or appearing relaxed for Dawna Friesen’s slow-ball lobs. He must have been worried about the hair.

But the hair was fine. It never moved a millimetre. The hairpiece is still a bit darker but the hairdresser to the Prime Minister has added a brownish rinse to provide a stronger background for the color of his eyes. All in all, it was another successful production for PMO Promotions Inc.

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Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry

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

Bill 115 beats right-to-work legislation.

Saturday, December 22nd, 2012

Ontario Conservative leader Tiny Tim Hudak will have to stop gnashing his teeth or he will need a new set of dentures. Timmy finds it tough to carry the flag for the extremists on the political right when Dalton McGuinty always seems to get there ahead of him. After all, how can you promote the American style right-to-work legislation when McGuinty tops you with legislation that is akin to slavery?

The only alternative McGuinty offers teachers in Ontario is to apply to work the drive-through window at their local Hortons. And you wonder why so many teachers seem annoyed with McGuinty and his party?

You can imagine Tiny Tim reporting to the executive of the Ontario Landowners, complaining to them that McGuinty is beating him to the punch. It leaves the Landowners with nothing other than wind turbines to fight. Timmy has probably explained to them many times that urban voters are very confused about the Landowners penchant for jousting with windmills. They simply do not understand the problem.

It is like believing that right-to-work legislation has anything to do with a person’s right to work. This was all made so much clearer to a few generations back in a wonderful 1959 Brit movie called: I’m all right Jack. With a sterling cast of great comedic actors, the Boulting Brothers did an outstanding job of sending up both unions and management.

And it was a simple task. All the producing and directing team of brothers did was show the union workers as management saw them and the management team as the union members saw them. Neither side was spared. And reality was nowhere in the picture.

It has been amusing watching the wiggles of the Magnificent Seven (provincial Liberal leadership candidates) trying to get around Bill 115. It was only five of them who actually voted for the bill. Gerard Kennedy and Sandra Pupatello were not there in cabinet at the time but even they cannot call the bill what it really is: the potential death knell of the Liberal Party of Ontario.

It was the hard work and television advertising by the teachers that left the Liberals with at least a minority government after the last election. Put in a new Liberal leader without the help of the teachers and the Queen’s Park opposition will smell the fear. Whoever replaces McGuinty in January will face the wrath of Horwath and Hudak as soon as the House convenes. It will not result in a fun election for the Ontario Liberals

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Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry

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

Liberal-NDP merger a must for Canada’s future.

Friday, December 21st, 2012

You look at the current crop of leadership candidates for both the federal and Ontario Liberal parties and wonder if there is a leader among them. In Ontario, there has been nothing suggested that could stop the provincial Liberals from sliding into third place in an election, that could be forced before mid 2013. Federally, there is only one candidate who has been toe-testing the waters to see if there is hope to stop a further slide. The rest deny the need for the party to merge with the New Democrats. Their goal must be to lead the party to oblivion.

The most vociferous arguments against a merger are from the extreme right of the Liberal party in the person of Martha Hall Findlay. The former MP who lost one of the safest Liberal seats in Toronto to the Conservatives in the last federal election is now running as a leadership candidate from the west. She wrote a paper against a merger back in October of 2011. Her basic assumption is that people are adding the Liberal and NDP voting numbers and using the figures to argue for joining the parties. She, quite rightly, points out that two and two do not make four, in this case.

But the problem facing us at the moment is that the consolidated Conservative vote is running ahead of the Liberal or NDP vote. And as long as the progressive vote is split between two parties, the Conservatives can gain the upper hand. There is no question but that some of the right-wing Liberals will go home to their Conservative roots if the Liberal and NDP come together as a single party. Those people have been dragging their feet for too long anyway. There are also die-hard socialists in the NDP who believe in the collective and will reject the protection of individual rights as promoted by the Liberals

But that is the balance that will give us honest elections. Hall Findlay thinks that some average Canadians want a smaller, cheaper government that is needed to provide services and social safety nets that allow for a minimum quality of life for all Canadians. That is nothing but sleazy conservative cant for the gullible.

You will be hard-pressed to find Canadians who will settle for a ‘minimum’ quality of life when what they really want is opportunity. With the strong social conscience of the NDP combined with the Liberal belief in the rights of the individual, you have a formula for success across Canada.

Surely, MP Joyce Murray is not the only Liberal politician in Canada who recognizes where the future is for the progressive parties?

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Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry

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