Archive for the ‘Federal Politics’ Category

Something for everyone; Nothing for all.

Wednesday, March 20th, 2019

There is supposed to be a little something for everybody and it turns out there is nothing overly impressive for anybody. It is a strange feeling going over this federal budget. Nothing is particularly surprising. Nothing impresses.

What is with these Liberals? They are a big tent of neoliberals, right-wing liberals, condescending liberals, lying liberals and honest liberals, do-gooders and progressives. I am a liberal and they make me want to have another shower. It makes me wonder what, if anything, these cynical people believe in?

Where are the big ideas? Pharmacare is coming, or is it on hold? At least adding that key step to Medicare would have been something to hold on to. I have always believed that if you were going into debt for something, make sure it is worthwhile.

This is a country that was created on a ribbon of steel for trains that ran from coast to coast. Was John A. Macdonald the last visionary? Where are the high-speed electric trains that this country needs today?

Sure, our cities need infrastructure help. That might sound like a lot of money to help the cities but we know they need far more. It is like the nickel-diming of skills training. Cheapskates!

Look, I am glad that we have pulled more than a quarter million children out of child poverty. Do we now have to drive a million seniors into poverty to pay for it?

I am not saying that this is a Morneau budget. That finance minister is a neoliberal and this is what he thought people wanted. If I had been in the House for the reading, I would have helped the opposition shout him down.

It reminds me of the last will and testament from the Ontario finance minister last year before the Wynne government fell to the Huns.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Peaking early; Peaking late, in politics.

Monday, March 18th, 2019

It is something like a fertility cycle. If you are too early or too late, that little sperm has lost an opportunity. It is like that time in a political campaign when unfertilized minds can be receptive to a particular message. It is only the entire costly campaign that is at risk.

It has always seemed to me that there is a point in campaigns when there is a peak of receptivity. It is that point when a maximum number of the uncommitted voters minds close around a particular political failure or inspiration. (Though inspirations are rare.)

Sorting out the last federal election, I think the receptors shut down prematurely. Canadians were tired of the arrogance of Stephen Harper’s conservatives and the last half of that tedious campaign became just so much blather.

And what us politicos need to always keep in mind is that, non-political people have little tolerance for discussing politics at most times. To actually catch them at the right moment is rare.

It is probably the reason some historical figure came up with that silly warning to never discuss politics or religion with strangers. Mind you, I love encouraging strangers to talk politics. If the person does not know you, nor think you can do anything for them, you can get an honest opinion. Honesty is a rare and precious commodity in politics.

Though what you usually find out from strangers are rather superficial views of political events and trends. It most often reflects the recent items heard or seen on You Tube or Facebook as well as the evening news. It might not always pay for you to argue with a person’s opinion but it can become part of your memory bank on the subject. The strongest arguments that voters get to help convince them are the ones that trigger their own experience and knowledge.

Reading a review of a book by a political scientist the other day, he makes the astute observation that if we want to make better political decisions, we first have to want to. Since the solution would involve going beyond their comfort zone for many people, he is not optimistic.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Did they forget to tell Jagmeet?

Saturday, March 16th, 2019

It seems strange that the NDP apparatchiks around their leader Jagmeet Singh have forgotten to tell him something important. He certainly has enough French to understand that Québec Solidaire is a separatist party based in Quebec. It might share the orange party color and the left of centre politics of the NDP but from that point they go their separate ways.

The confusion with this started when newly elected MP and party leader Jagmeet Singh announced that Alexandre Boulerice would be the party’s deputy leader for Quebec. Boulerice is the MP for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie and was first elected in the Orange Wave of 2011.

Boulerice followed up on Wednesday by announcing that Nima Machouf will be the NDP standard bearer in the riding of Laurier—Saint-Marie in October. The riding is currently represented by NDP MP Hélène Lavadière, who is stepping down after holding the riding since 2011.

The only problem with this is that Nima Machouf is also a member of Québec Solidaire. She is not only a member but her husband, Amir Kadir, was a member of the National Assembly for Québec Solidaire from 2008 to 2018.

My guess is that the rest of Canada would be caught off guard if it had to deal with a group as left of centre politically as Québec Solidaire—if they were ever in a position to call the shots in Quebec. As unlikely as it might be that they might win, I see an appeal to their proposal of calling for a constitutional assembly to plan the future of the province. I believe they would have to agree if the rest of the country asked to join with them in planning an improved country—conditional on a national referendum afterward to approve of the proposed plan.

Just think of what could be done!

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Comics in the Op-Eds.

Thursday, March 14th, 2019

I had a really good laugh the other morning when in the Toronto Star’s opposite-editorials page there was a headline saying: Brian Mulroney is our greatest statesman prime minister. I quickly checked the calendar. No, it was not April Fools Day.

This guy might be serious. Since he might also believe the publicity might be good for his government relations business, I will not mention his name. It is hard to believe anyone would put “Lyin Brian’ ahead of John A. Macdonald, Wilfrid Laurier, William Lyon Mackenzie King or Pierre Trudeau. These men towered over Mulroney.

Off the top of my head I can think of a number of times Mulroney was an embarrassment on the political scene. You can start with him back-stabbing Joe Clark to wrest the leadership of Canada’s Tories from him. It was done with the all the ruthlessness of a business flunky to the American owners of Iron Ore of Canada.

And where did Mulroney ever show any statesmanship? He toadied up to Ronald Reagan and George H. Bush. That Irish songfest with Reagan at the Quebec City meeting was an embarrassment to Canadians. What explained Reagan’s forbearance was learning later that he was starting to show symptoms of Alzheimer.

Mulroney’s legacy is usually described as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Goods and Services Tax (GST). Neither was his idea. His acquiescence to the Americans left us with a deal that we were never sure was fair trade. When our professionals baulked late in the negotiations, Mulroney sent finance minister Michael Wilson down to Washington to give the Americans what they wanted. By the early nineties, Mulroney was the most despised prime minister in Canadian history. His farewell tour to his U.S. mentors was the highlight of his last year in office.

His replacement by Kim Campbell, as prime minister, was not considered an improvement.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

The perils of punditry.

Tuesday, March 12th, 2019

Despite putting the idea aside a number of times, I have made the effort to stay away from comparing Pierre Trudeau in 1972 to Justin Trudeau in 2019. I was sitting in the boardroom of the principal advertising agency for the liberal party that evening in 1972 when Pierre announced that the writ of election would be dropped. When he also announced his campaign slogan, “The Land is Strong” many of us threw up our hands and went home.

It was only the herculean efforts of then Senator Keith Davey that brought many of us liberals back to the campaign trenches and to rescue what we could of a bad campaign. Oddly enough, Justin Trudeau gets a credit also in that campaign. Born the Christmas before, the pictures of him with his father and mother helped soften the image of an arrogant Pierre Trudeau.

A big part of Keith Davey’s job through the 70s was to convince Pierre Trudeau that arrogance does not work. Who there is who can convince the younger Trudeau to be less arrogant is concerning?

At least we had a good laugh the other day when NDP guru Val Sears pontificated that voters respected the 1972 conservative leader Robert Stanfield who won 107 seats to the liberal’s 109. Sears suggested that David Lewis, the then leader of the NDP, was ‘yesterday’s man.’ Au contraire, it was Lewis who was highly regarded and who supported the weakened liberals.

The changes in the Prime Minister’s Office after the 1972 election were dramatic. Politically astute people could find work there. And there was a ‘Chinese Wall’ created between the Privy Council Office and the PMO that had not been observed between ’68 and ’72. (It is something Michael Wernick, current Secretary of the Privy Council, should make an effort to maintain.)

I always admired Pierre Trudeau for admitting his mistakes from 1968 to 1972. He brought about a sea change in Canadian politics and it was not just “fuddle-duddle.”

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Watering the wine of Canadian politics.

Monday, March 11th, 2019

Canadians deserve better. We are promised much but so little is delivered. Prime minister Justin Trudeau promised doctor assisted suicide to relieve people the pains of protracted death and all Canadians got was some comfort for the rich. He promised voting reform but had never thought it through. He has talked about the middle class only because most Canadians think of themselves as middle class. He goes where the votes are.

But you cannot declare yourself a feminist and show yourself to be impatient with the women who work with you. You cannot promise to protect the environment and then push pipelines for the highly polluting tar sands bitumen.

It is surprising that there are not more liberals across Canada wondering where the Justin’s liberalism went. The steadiest hand in the federal cabinet is that conservative Goodale from Saskatchewan. The finance minister is an elitist neoliberal from Toronto’s upper crust. The foreign affairs minister is a reporter. Reporters are people who write stories about what is happening; foreign affairs ministers have to solve problems with diplomacy.

And when does she and that pussy of a prime minister get to read the riot act to that jerk in the American White House? Do we let that guy screw around with us because we are such good neighbours? Good neighbours tell their neighbours the truth.

Failing us in Senate reform was one of the problems that brought down the Harper government. Trudeau’s solution is elitist. He has an elite committee that looks for appointments among the elite and then he appoints them as independents to study and approve laws passed by the elected House of Commons.

And when is Justin going to unwrap the Pharmacare plan we have been waiting for? Everything we are hearing about this meager plan has us more and more concerned that it will be just another half step. More water in the wine of liberalism.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

The storms on the Yellow Brick Road.

Sunday, March 10th, 2019

As we battle our way to the Land of OZ and the looming federal election, what we are hearing across the land is becoming more and more concerning. When normally respectful and erudite people vent with expletives, they are angry. When the prime minister of our country calls a public news conference and offers bafflegab instead of contrition, you know he is out of touch.

We have not heard the last of the Jody Wilson-Raybould affair. A woman scorned, she has friends. Some of the answers are simmering in the liberal caucus in Ottawa. Why did Jane Philpott step out? The liberals are not listening to the call to arms. And why should they?

But where does that leave us? Did we ignore the lesson learned last year in Ontario? Can we Ontario voters so easily afford the cost of the incompetence of the conservatives under Doug Ford?

Could the country afford the incompetence of a Harper-lite conservative such as ‘Chuckles’ Scheer? This guy cannot even tell the difference between a pratfall by the government and a criminal act. Why should he be calling for an RCMP investigation of confusion in the federal cabinet? The RCMP does not oversee the cabinet.

All Scheer seems to be is a spokesman for the Alberta and Saskatchewan conservatives. He offers nothing other than Harper-redux. He just is not as wily. Scheer has little to offer Canadian voters.

And then you have the new democrats. Here you have a party with no policies, no program and no real leadership. It is a party that is failing to live up to its billing.

But there is hope boys and girls: There are new parties on the horizon. I think that Elizabeth May is one tough leader. Her only problem is she has no party behind her and no reason for you to vote for them. The liberals and the NDP will tell you that they care about the environment. Some of us really do.

And to Chuckles’ consternation, there is the People’s Party of Canada that is going to try to take right-wing votes from the tired Tories in October. Party leader MP Maxime Bernier is out to show those conservatives that they really should have picked him as leader at their last leadership contest.

One thing that I discovered many years ago is that you cannot change any political party by carping at it from the outside. The changes must be made from within. It is why I have been a liberal for many years. I just wish there was more help available to bring the liberal party back to a position of respect.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Yes, I have stopped beating my wife.

Friday, March 8th, 2019

We took a mid-winter break in Toronto recently and unfortunately the wife slipped on some ice at one point and she came home sporting a rather colourful black eye. After a while, you get tired of telling people the real story and you just tell them you will not do it again.

The reason for mentioning this was an e-mail from a reader the other day accusing me of being a white, male racist. While people who know me well would laugh at the suggestion, I am in the same boat as those who are accused of various shortcomings. How do you prove you are not what they say?

For example, the e-mail sender suggested that I was racist in my ‘snide’ remarks about North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un, such as referring to him as a troglodyte (caveman). As, in the same breath, I called Donald Trump much worse, what does that make me?

What really must have annoyed the reader was what he called my “barely disguised snips at Jagmeet Singh.” You can be very sure that I checked all references to Singh’s religion within the Sikh community.

I do not have a degree awarded by a university for studies in ethnicity but I earned my knowledge and respect for our multicultural country growing up on the streets of Toronto after the Second World War.

I disapprove of Singh being leader of the new democrats on the same basis as that of a priest in clerical collar and cassock or an observant Hassidic with dreadlocks being the leader of a major party. Ours is secular society and I think any person who can potentially be prime minister should honour that secular nature.

I certainly respect the right of Jagmeet to wear the five-Ks of an observant Sikh as ordered by the Tenth Guru. I am also well aware of the respect for him in the Sikh communities in British Columbia and in Ontario. Canada has been welcoming Sikh immigrants from the sub-continent (other than the disgusting Komagata Maru incident in Vancouver in 1914) since the 1800s.

But I have always found it disquieting for politicians to use blocs of ethnic support to gain political victories. The way that Brampton’s Patrick Brown panders to immigrants from the sub-continent for political advantage disgusts me. I am also firmly of the opinion that Jagmeet Singh should not have used the Sikh communities in B.C. and Ontario to swamp the membership of the national NDP and win the leadership based on Sikh support. His real test will be in October.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

No Butts about it!

Thursday, March 7th, 2019

With the Trudeau government, even a recently-resigned principal secretary to the prime minister sticks to the talking points. Gerald Butts appeared before the Commons justice committee yesterday and tried valiantly to salvage what he could of the reputation of the liberal government. He danced a fine line between trashing the reputation of the former attorney general and justice minister and accepting the blame for running an incompetent prime minister’s office (PMO).

The talking points of the day were about those 9000 jobs at SNC-Lavalin of which his dear friend Jody Wilson-Raybould was so dismissive. It seems that in eight days between her returning from a trip to Australia last September and the steady stream of colleagues suggesting to her that she look kindly on SNC-Lavalin, Wilson-Raybould had decided to trash the Quebec engineering giant. The only problem was that this compulsive note taker forgot to tell anyone (other that the prime minister, it turns out) that she had made up her mind. In fact, she did not even mention it until she had been demoted to a lesser portfolio in cabinet.

And that, coincidently, was the same time as she started to feel the pressure that people had put on her through the end of 2018. And if you think that was bad news, Wilson-Raybould’s fellow liberal cabinet member Jane Philpott quit cabinet in sympathy with her friend Jody.

Thanks to the hard work of enquiring reporters, we soon learned that this was not the beginning of a major revolt against the prime minister. It is the opposition in parliament who appear to think that this is a second Christmas with the poll takers saying that only opposition parties are getting the fall-out.

Mind you, watching those carrying-ons in Ottawa is never going to replace Hockey Night in Canada for many Canadians. And why do we get the feeling that there is no adult supervision at that kindergarten on the Rideau? The time is long past for Justin Trudeau to show some contrition. He had better start explaining himself. And forget the wussy statements about being a feminist or an environmentalist. Those ships have sailed.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

The Silence of the Liberals.

Tuesday, March 5th, 2019

It is a time of quiet. Yet the storm is gathering. It is a time of assessment, we have little confidence of the future. The feeling of disappointment is real. We bought the early confidence. We reveled in those sunny ways. We cheered: the king is dead; Long live the king.

But this king has shown his feet of clay. He has put neoliberalism ahead of the freedoms we all believed in. He put Quebec’s SNC-Lavalin ahead of honour. He demoted and maligned an honourable colleague. She did the job he gave her with responsibility and honesty. He brought the dishonour of SNC-Lavalin onto his party.

And what say you, liberals? Are Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott the only persons of honour among you? Are you but sheep to be shorn and slaughtered? Are you but the viand of a long winter still to come?

But what of the other members of cabinet and parliament? Is there no honour among the party caucus? Are the caucus members to be abused, used and tossed aside in the maelstrom of the election to come?

Canadians are not just concerned and disquieted. They have realized they are being lied to and leaderless.

The three major party leaders in Canada are a shameful and disappointing sham. And there will be no uprising in the ranks of their MPs. The leader of each party has a firm lock on the future of any MP in their party ranks with aspirations. Each controls his party organization. Each controls the selection of potential MPs. Can a caucus revolt even happen?

And what hope is there for a political party that does not exist? At the Winnipeg meeting of the liberal party in 2016, the quiescent liberals voted themselves out of existence. There is no membership in the liberal party of Canada. There is no party with which to have pride in association. There are just lists of names. These are people to be harried constantly for money. This party does not run on ideals and policies and honour anymore, it runs only on money.

We live in interesting times.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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