Archive for the ‘Federal Politics’ Category

Andrew Scheer woos the 905.

Sunday, September 15th, 2019

Meet Andrew Scheer, leader of the conservatives and ambassador to the 905 ridings of Ontario from the more peaceful, less frantic reaches of Prairie conservatism. The 905 region is also known as the Golden Horseshoe that wraps around the City of Toronto. It is also home to much of the wealth that drives Toronto. The conservatives have to win this area to win enough seats to form a government again in Ottawa.

Scheer assures us that his conservatism is not much like the bombastic conservatism of Doug Ford at Queen’s Park. He probably has a point that he is not much like Mr. Ford. He lacks the charisma.

We hardly knew Mr. Scheer when he was picked as the least contentious, and least interfering speaker of the house of commons after the 2011 election. It was a parliament that had the first majority conservative government in Ottawa in many years.

And it was when Hell broke lose. It was the least orderly parliament in many years. It suffered from too many cheap shots and catcalls. Questions to conservatives went unanswered or simply drew insults. That parliament passed questionable and often undemocratic bills without being given time for proper consideration. It was a record low point in foreign affairs. It was a house needing a good house keeper, not Andrew Scheer.

But once the public had done with the Harper government, it was Andrew Scheer who won enough support to be the new conservative leader. Of 13 leadership hopefuls, he was the least likely to do anything. And he did little but carp.

And he is now out there on the hustings—mostly in the 905—telling Canadians that it is time for them to get ahead—because they can be sure that a Prairie conservative does not believe in the government helping its citizens.

Don’t ask this conservative to add Pharmacare to Medicare. He is certainly not interested in doing anything about our endangered environment.  Oh sure, he makes promises, because he wants you the elect him. Don’t count on him coming through with anything meaningful. He wants to help his friends, the conservative premiers. He wants to help the rich. Like all conservative ideologues he is a mean-spirited person. He is also a social conservative, do not ask him about women’s rights.

I call him ‘Chuckles.’ He is a clown.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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Confounding Confusion for Canadians.

Saturday, September 14th, 2019

It was a common event the other day as I sat in the barber’s chair, the barber wielding scissors and comb. The barber knew of my interest in politics and quickly turned the usually desultory conversation to the October election. Those awaiting their turn chimed in. You could quickly determine the various political leanings.

But what I have been hearing lately is more of denial. People are questioning their own patterns. So what, if the last three generations of their family voted conservative? Why should they have to conform? Same with liberals. Same with socialists. People are questioning their roots. They are looking for something else.

They might not admit it but I think they are looking for leadership. Their only problem is when they buy into an offer of leadership, they are being let down. Look at all the Americans who bought into the message that Donald Trump could restore their pride in America, and make the country great again. How is he doing so far?

And it is not just in the Americas. Vladimir Putin in Russia, Boris Johnson in the United Kingdom are as bad as the petty dictators in Central and South America. And then there is Kim Jon-Un in North Korea and the list of countries taking willful directions goes on.

We Canadians will all fight like hell to protect our democracy and then we will elect an incompetent, vindictive blusterer such as Doug Ford as premier in Ontario. We have no excuse. We let it happen.

And are all Canadians as selfish and mean-spirited as premier Jason Kenney who misleads Alberta? He denies concern for our world as it seeks to destroy us with fires and winds and global warming. You have a hard time believing that the brimstone of the tar sands is the cause of so much dissention between us.

In the barber shop, we seemed to all agree that leadership was lacking. We want the best as our representative, our MP. In a democracy, the real leadership should come from the citizens.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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They’re At Post!

Wednesday, September 11th, 2019

Finally. This never-ending scrabbling for political position has a finite finish line. The free-for-all has focus and Elections Canada is in charge. Like with stewards at the track, there are rules to be observed.

It is an election like no other in Canadian history. It is not the politicians who have changed. It is the voters. There is a distrust and unease on all sides. We are seeing olive branches offered by traditional conservatives. Concern is on the face of liberals. Socialists look in wonder at their NDP.  Is Green the color of Canada?

These are not the parties of John A. Macdonald, William Lyon Mackenzie King or Tommy Douglas. No party talks of tradition. And, yet, are they ideologues? And how likely are their promises: “Yes, Mommy, I’ll be good.” Do they have an agenda for Canadians?

Is the bitterness to be directed from Alberta? Are the fools running Ontario? Will the Atlantic provinces hold promise? And who will be the bête noir of Quebec? Will ‘beautiful’ B.C. be bountiful?

There will be no morning line at the track today. What prognosticator has the polls or prescience to prove anything? The sense of this election is deep in the gut and there is many a bellyache. The Trudeau liberals will defend their record—such as it is. The conservatives will be defensive of their woefully inadequate leader. The NDP will try to win with some stalwart old-timers. Elizabeth May will keep looking behind her, in hopes that some partisans will be there.

But there is hope. All politics is local. Here in Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte, we are still gerrymandered in aid of the rural conservatives. We have another empty suit conservative to consider and the usual suspects from NDP and Greens. The liberal is different, aggressive, daring and honourable. I will bet on him but not his leader.

I am expecting the possibility of a liberal minority. It is as good a bet as any.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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Some of us have fun with politics.

Sunday, September 8th, 2019

It was sad the other day to read both Susan Delacourt and Chantal Hébert of the Toronto Star and their dour take on the upcoming federal election. The ladies are two of Canada’s most astute reporters on things political and here they were being pessimistic this early.

I was particularly disturbed by Chantal’s dark take on the state of politics in Quebec. I thought we were both on the same train through la belle province as the liberals fight the good fight against the forces of evil, separation and the far right. We both seem to agree that Maxime Bernier will fold his libertarian tent and retire to the Beauce after proving nothing with his bigotry in this election.

But I expect those polls that show a resurgent Bloc Québécois are just hiding some parked votes that Trudeau can easily reap on election day. There is really no other route for the Quebec vote this time around.

I am also concerned about Susan Delacourt. I have always appreciated her sense of humour. Sure, she can criticize me for using nicknames for some of the sillier politicians. She is the one being paid the big bucks for her opinion. I have to work hard for the laughs my writing affords me. Just wait until she is retired. (Tomorrow?)

I hardly use nicknames for the serious politicos. You cannot convince me that conservative leader ‘Chuckles’ Scheer is not a clown. The desperate attempts of the conservative brain trust to cast him as serious are wearing thin on far more Canadians than just yours truly!

And please tell me how else we are expected to counter the sad-sack situation on the prairies? The exploitation of the tar sands for the benefit of foreign-owned oil companies is doing nobody any good and the lies spewed by their bought and paid for provincial politicians disgrace all Canadians. I think decent politicians should just fly over the prairies this election.

British Columbia is always a pleasure to visit. That province is only dangerous for politicians who want to complete the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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The Substitute.

Saturday, September 7th, 2019

It happens. You have all your nominations completed and one of your candidates drops out. That happens for any of hundreds of reasons. It could be anything from illness, bankruptcy or just cold feet. Your party needs a substitute candidate and there is no time left to be democratic about it.

I don’t think I have ever seen it as bad as today’s new democratic party situation. With less than two weeks until the writ of election has to come down, the NDP knew they needed close to 100 more candidates across Canada and then they lose as many as a dozen of their previous candidates in New Brunswick (in 2015) to the Green party.

In most cases when the party becomes desperate, the NDP looks to the riding executive and usually it is the riding president who allows his or her name to stand for the honour of the party. They print a few signs, attend a few all-candidate meetings and (usually) lose gracefully.

But not always. There were some surprise wins in Quebec for the NDP in the 2011 federal election. The credit for that goes to the then leader Jack Layton, who died shortly afterwards.

The classic turnaround in the substitute situation was in the 1974 federal election when the East York liberal candidate had to bow out. The party executive in Toronto looked around and realized they had recently hired a promising young man from East York as the Ontario party’s executive director. David Collenette was told to go home and be the party’s candidate.

David not only did what he was told but he won the election. He also won more elections than he lost over the next 30 years and served in the cabinets of three liberal prime ministers. He served the party well.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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Slipping in the Slogan.

Thursday, September 5th, 2019

It might surprise regular readers but this blogger does not believe in slogans. Oh yes, I use them, but more in sarcasm than in concurrence. It is just that I see an election as a sequence of events that can only become a slogan close to the end point: the voting. And the real theme is often something that the voters see before the politicians.

For the prime minister to be running around the country spouting some silly slogan about “choose forward” to anyone who is still listening is insulting to the listener and makes him sound feeble minded. What is the alternative? Walk Backward?

But, speaking of ‘feeble minded,’ have you heard Chuckles Scheer confounding the voters with “It is time for you to get ahead” which sounds rather mean-spirited. I think it works better if you change it to ‘It is time for you to get a head.’ You could consider it something of a public service slogan.

But it is not.

It is not as self-serving though as the NDP slogan that has been introduced as “In it for you.” It is unclear as to why they are in it for ‘you.’

It has potential though when you consider the additional words that could clarify the message. It is like the slogan used on billboards for conservative Barry Goldwater in the 1964 American presidential election. It simply said “You know he is right.” It worked until somebody started buying adjacent billboards saying “Yes, Far Right.”

But that is not as bad as the silly slogans that my city of Barrie uses. Depending if you approach the city from the north or the south on Highway 400, the northbound traffic sees the city as “Well played” and the southbound get the slogan “Well connected.” ‘Well played’ is a British term usually thought of as related to the game of cricket. ‘Well connected’ is more of a business term. Why either is used for a city such as Barrie, is lost on me.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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Can Kenney, Curly (Ford) and Moe pull it off?

Wednesday, September 4th, 2019

Conservative leader ‘Chuckles’ Scheer might not offer much of a challenge to Justin Trudeau but when you consider the three stooges running in the back field, it makes you think.

Canadians, outside of parliament and his Regina riding, have little reason to have an opinion of Chuckles. Very few of them know much about him. And nobody was wasting time calling for his head when he was such an inept speaker of the house of commons from 2011 to 2015. And in the time, he has been leader of his party, he pales behind the image of his former boss, Stephen Harper.

But having the three stooges running his backfield offence might just be the focus that pulls it off. They would add weight to any football team. They are certainly more colorful than most. Jason Kenney might be premier of Alberta today but he knows the tricks and lies needed to work the Ottawa scene. Curly (Doug Ford) premier of Ontario might be a bit of a bull in a china shop, but bull is bull and he is full of it. Scott Moe, premier of Saskatchewan, on the other hand, is an experienced Prairie politician.

And Jason Kenney has put together a particularly lethal false news team in Calgary. It is made up of writers from Paul Godfrey’s PostMedia and some key conservatives. That is potentially the deadliest weapon in the arsenal but it has not yet had a chance to really show its stuff.

It is assumed that Ford is just puttering around in the backfield awaiting a call when his style of bluster is necessary. Chuckles did publicly ask that Doug take a break and do nothing but that is not part of Ford’s nature.

While premier Moe would have been in the Regina MP’s corner anyway, he is probably more suited to the team approach.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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The Good Ship Singh is Sinking.

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2019

Today’s comments were supposed to be a scholarly discussion about understanding political speeches. Maybe we can leave that for another time. Instead, we can have fun critiquing the new democratic party’s present-day prat falls.

Good grief folks! This election isn’t even ‘At Post’ yet and the NDP is falling apart. We have been expecting it but we assumed the funeral would be part of the results of the election.

I was thinking about this early last week when it was the liberal’s Justin Trudeau and Chrystia Freeland who were being lionized at the Unifor convention in Quebec City. This is Canada’s largest union and there was not a single prominent NDPer in sight.

The poor dippers have been out of gas for quite some time. They made a disgrace of themselves as a party when they stabbed poor Tom Mulcair in the back in Edmonton in March of 2017. It was hardly just Mulcair’s fault that the party fell on hard times as Trudeau’s liberals talked of ‘Sunny Days.’

The schism between the old guard socialists and the newer NDP environmentalists was too broad. And with the Lewis name on the Leap Manifesto, it garnered more supporters than it really deserved.

The final straw was the surprise of Jagmeet Singh being able to swamp the membership of the NDP with Sikh immigrants in B.C. and Ontario. He won the leadership but seemed to have no plan on what to do with the party once it was his. His was just too long a learning period to please the old timers.

As it stands, the NDP has stumbled badly in fundraising and in organization for the election. With limited funds and starting to lose candidates before the election is even called, the NDP still has almost half of its candidates to find.

Jagmeet’s only plan at the moment is to try to save as many seats as possible. The way it looks though, the NDP could get wiped out in Quebec and lose at least half of their other seats across Canada. Jagmeet Singh’s leadership will be a short-term experience.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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The secret lists of our political parties.

Monday, September 2nd, 2019

They are like the lists Santa Claus is supposed to keep at the North Pole as to which children are naughty or nice. With millions of listings for the voters of Canada, the raw data of name and address is provided to registered political parties by Elections Canada. It soon becomes a party-specific and confidential list of voters in each electoral district as each party adds information as to who is believed to be voting for which party.

In the case of the liberal party, the list is called Liberalist and also contains information about who has registered as a liberal with the party and how much they have donated to the party.

The most reliable information gained during the election campaign is what canvassers are told when they come to your door. And people that you thought were pollsters doing surveys also provide information for the lists. Back when I had direct access to the lists, I had to go in and change my own information periodically because I rarely told survey personnel the truth and never told the truth to automated calls.

If the canvasser determines you are a vote for his or her candidate and if you have not voted prior to election day, you can count of getting phone calls and people knocking on your door on election day. Their purpose is to make sure you vote.

This effort is very serious. In my riding of Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte, had the liberals been able to find just one additional voter per poll, to go and vote liberal in the 2015 election, the liberals would have won the riding instead of the conservative.

How parties collect and use personal information has mainly been ignored across Canada. This might change though as various privacy authorities realize what information those databases contain and how easy they might be to hack. There is not that careful a screening of people gaining access to these political databases.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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Left, Right and In-Between.

Sunday, September 1st, 2019

Labelling people is always a mistake. Even in psychiatry, people show tendencies down different pathologies. You hesitate to label them. In politics people are often confused by the parties in an election making promises outside their usual right or left-wing stance. During an election is no time to be doctrinaire.

I think it was Paul Martin Jr. who used the slogan, in private, “Campaign Left, Rule Right.” Whether he did or not, he was the first federal liberal leader I refused to support. I despised the way he could so callously strip Canada of much of the federal support for social programs during the Chrétien years. And I think a large number of Canadians agreed with me. The only problem was that I regretted my anger when we ended up with Stephen Harper as the booby prize. He was even further to the right than Martin.

It is amusing that in John Ivison’s recent book on Trudeau, that the author thinks Canada might be less progressive than Trudeau seems to believe. I really do not think Canadians vote right or left. They vote for leadership. They vote for the leader who appears to be taking the country in the direction necessary. And many just vote for the guy or gal running in their riding who best represents them.

John A, Macdonald and his confreres put this country together with vision and bands of steel. His thing was the railroad linking the country together. And, come hell or high water, he achieved that goal.

I think today, Canadians have too many pressures on them to come to a common understanding of where this country should be headed. All it should take is leadership and, frankly, we are not getting any. There is not one leader of a federal party in Canada worth a damn.

I would make something of an exception for Elizabeth May but her problem is that rag-tag bunch behind her that could not even run a Tim Hortons franchise. And do not ask them if they are right or left. Most would have to ask their leader.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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