Archive for the ‘Federal Politics’ Category

A tag day for journalism.

Sunday, February 18th, 2018

It should be admitted up front that this writer is a news junky. With a career in public relations and politics, I believe in the independence of CBC/Radio Canada and I have been known to pester the Canadian Radio-Television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). A strong, independent news media makes for a strong nation.

But I am concerned about the Trudeau government promising some help for journalism in Canada. It makes you wonder if we have any pennies to burn.

It also makes me wonder if we really need to support a millionaire such as Pierre Karl Péladeau and his Journal de Montréal or PostMedia’s Paul Godfrey?

And do we really need to listen to John Honderich of the Toronto Star crying the blues about the state of Canadian journalism? It makes a good two-hanky cry until you realize he just made a deal with the Paul Godfrey to close down another bunch of local papers in Ontario.

The news media is a business Mr. Prime Minister. We know you do not understand how business works but the worst thing you can do for a failing business is to throw money at it. What business needs is customers. And if they do not know what to do with customers, they are not in business anyway.

The best thing we can do to promote good business is to level the playing field. That means we need to change some of the rules for the Internet. I know that it is hard to understand but it is important to recognize that sophisticated system is also a business. Maybe a bit more complex, but still a business. Like any business operating in Canada, this Internet business has to pay its taxes. The free ride has to end.

We have to remember that news is a commodity and somebody has to pay for it. If it is being paid for by advertising, we have to tax the advertising. If advertising crosses the border into Canada, it can pay Canadian taxes. Those clicks on the Internet are not free, If Google gets rich on Canadian advertising, then they better pay their way. Same with Facebook and all that other so-called social media.

And while you are at it, that stuff on Netflix that crosses the border and earns money is building up a substantial bill from us. Please go get it paid.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Jagmeet’s first challenge.

Tuesday, February 13th, 2018

The new leader of Canada’s New Democratic Party (NDP) has been busier than you think. Taking his party’s leadership was Jagmeet Singh’s easiest task. His journeys around Canada since then have been to convince the party members that an observant Sikh does not have two heads and can also be an effective politician. Now he has an excellent opportunity to show that he can lead his party. This coming weekend at the party’s annual conference in Ottawa is his first serious challenge. He has a badly fractured party to heal and bring together.

Unique among Canada’s federal political parties, the NDP is based on its provincial organizations. Two of these provincial bodies are at war. The B.C. and Alberta parties are well past the nasty names phase. This is a war over the delivery of bitumen to tidewater and you best not to get between protagonists in that war.

And this battle will not stay in the west. The entire party will want to take sides. The LEAP Manifesto, which is a problem in its own right, will be the battle flag for the anti-bitumen warriors.

The person watching the closest to see what Jagmeet Singh does in this situation will be Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. He is caught up in the same war. Jagmeet’s only advantage is that he has yet to take a stand. The prime minister has already had his cabinet approve the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

Trudeau’s minister of natural resources has proposed new safeguards for our coastal waters and his environment minister has backstopped with more promises of environmental protection—to little avail.

The last thing that Trudeau really wants to do is to enforce the federal government’s powers to make the Trans-Mountain expansion happen. That would cost him most of his Liberal MPs in B.C. in the 2019 election. He can expect no offsetting gains in Alberta.

What Jagmeet needs is a solution that would stop the squabbling in his own party. He has been travelling in selected areas of Canada to ensure that he has the support within the NDP to even address the problem.

He now has an excellent opportunity to show his party that an effective politician can also solve the bitumen war.

We should all wish Jagmeet Singh well in this opportunity.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Justin in the pipeline pretzel position.

Friday, February 9th, 2018

It is new to yoga. Among the latest postures for the ancient health and fitness practice is the pipeline pretzel position. It is for those who believe they can make money from the tar sands while reducing the carbon we are spewing into our environment. While we might all look silly in the downward dog posture, the pipeline pretzel is only for the very agile.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau showed us how agile you need to be at a recent town hall event on Vancouver Island. It was not the selfie-king’s finest hour. He lost his cool.

And, let me assure you, politician’s who cannot find their cool, do not have a lengthy career in politics. When Conservative Joe Clark rejected the 66 per cent support for his leadership by his party and called for a new leadership convention, it was the end of a potential career in the top job.

Another good example was when Ontario PC Leader Patrick Brown recently refused to be cool about some questionable allegations by unidentified people. Where is Patrick now?

Does yoga meditation not teach people to be cool? When people are out to get you, paranoid or not, it is important to practice your deep breathing exercises.

It made no sense for the prime minister to get into arguments with the protestors on Vancouver Island. Telling police to eject protestors is not the image of Justin we all know and love. He blew it.

It seems to be what happens to people who think they can suck and blow at the same time. Justin is not the Teflon Tiger such as Trump in Washington. Trump has never been or will be a cultured, conservationist, respected, likeable leader. When he ran for the presidency, he posed as a populist, ignorant bastard and he lives up to that promise.

Trudeau, on the other hand, told us he loves liberals, women, the environment, the middle class and babies. He never told us about his rich friends, his lack of interest in fully taxing the one per cent, his elitism and that his government would approve the Kinder-Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. It has left some of us Liberals with the uneasy feeling that we have been had.

And besides, making like a pipeline pretzel is a ridiculous posture.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

The NDP and the LEAP liability.

Tuesday, February 6th, 2018

This is unbelievable. The New Democratic Party is having a convention in mid February and we hear the LEAP Manifesto seems to be the selected song book. Not only is the document two years older but it was out of date when introduced in Edmonton to the consternation of the Alberta NDP. It was not helpful in building solidarity. And if the NDP even wants a future, the party has to come to some clear understanding of the party’s purpose.

There have been many false starts for the NDP over the years. There was the socialist start to Tommy Douglas’ Prairie-based Cooperative Commonwealth Federation and then the union-based NDP that David Lewis took into the 70s. Always the bridesmaid, Jack Layton introduced the populism the party needed at the turn of the century. Where a devout Sikh wants to take the party has yet to be determined.

But LEAP is not a direction. It is naïve. It has some of the same thought as Donald Trump’s populism. It even takes the same xenophobic stand on trade agreements. It seeks nirvana without the hard work involved. It offers handouts without considering the cost involved. It treats our first nations people as deserving wards of the state.

And please do not bring us the populism of America’s Bernie Sanders. He lost to Hillary Clinton but helped Trump take her down. As remarkable as Bernie’s drive for the Democratic nomination might have been, he failed to understand the effects of his campaign.

The cost-conscious NDP are not even bringing in the A-team speakers from America and the United Kingdom to help make their case. Mind you, anyone who wants to listen to the blokes who are set on destroying all the value the U.K. built while in the European Union are wasting their time. There is one word that explains why the Brexit vote happened. It is ‘bigotry.’

But neither Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders nor Brit Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn have anything to tell you about how to achieve what you really want from your party. It is obvious that you want power. You must be tired of standing outside the wrought iron fences around Canada’s parliament buildings. You want a crack at running things.

I think you need a purpose first and then you can make a plan.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Our leaders need to ‘man up.’

Sunday, February 4th, 2018

It is unlikely that in this era of #MeToo that we can find many men willing to stick their neck out—or any other body part, for that matter. It is just that the we are getting into the realms of ridiculousness with some of today’s witch (or more accurately, warlock) hunts. Our political leaders are starting to look like a bunch of wusses in their eagerness to ruin careers needlessly.

And they are all to blame. It was when New Democrat Leader Jagmeet Singh called for an investigation of charges coming second-hand from another MP, that we really hit the depth. How dare Singh use such flimsy evidence to besmirch the character of someone he has not worked with in parliament?

And ‘Chuckles’ Scheer is just as ridiculous. Chuckles wants someone to investigate a former MP. Why? If the guy (former MP Rick Dyskstra) is no longer in parliament, what business is it of the leader of the Conservative Party? This problem came up under Stephen Harper’s watch. Would you also like to investigate Sir John A. McDonald’s boozing on the job?

And who made Justin Trudeau chief hall monitor for this kindergarten on the Rideau? We hardly need a blue-stocking feminist policing MPs. It is nowhere in the job description. If an MP embarrasses himself and his party, the leader can kick him out of caucus. Until then, the leader should butt out.

Once, many years ago, when leaving the Parliament buildings on a Wednesday evening, I gave a couple older liberal ladies I knew from a neighboring riding in Toronto a lift to the airport. Wednesdays in Ottawa were known as Wonderful Wednesdays at the time. It was an evening off for MPs and what ‘Chuckles’ does not worry about after eight, got started early. We happened to drive past two very friendly couples on the sidewalk and too late I realized the males were the ladies’ MP and a well-known senior aide.

As I explained to the MP the next time I saw him, he might get some glares at his next meeting with his riding executive. I could not convince those two women that he and his friend were just making sure those two young ladies got to their car safely. I at least got them laughing about it.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Justin’s dad had no rule book.

Saturday, February 3rd, 2018

Frankly, I am getting tired of this schmaltzy feminist dialogue from the prime minister. Enough is enough. He needs a new playbook.

This business reminds me of the time his father gave a feminist speech to a dinner in Toronto at the Royal York Hotel. I had a table with the key media people and I invited former Conservative Party President Dalton Camp (who had media credentials) to join us. Camp was a superb raconteur and helped keep the table laughing. The only downer of the evening was listening to Pierre simpering and extolling the roles played by women in society.

The party was giving out medals that night commemorating the dinner. Dalton’s line on the medal was that we all deserved one for having to listen to Pierre’s speech. We Toronto Liberals were not in the know that Pierre was on his way to Vancouver to marry Justin’s mother.

If we had known that it was Pierre’s bachelor dinner, we could have livened up the proceedings. It was a year later that we presented Pierre with a pint-sized Toronto Maple Leaf hockey uniform for Christmas-baby Justin.

What got me on this nostalgia kick was the prime minister’s claim to the news media that he did not “have a rule book that’s been handed down by Wilfrid Laurier.” It was a damn silly statement to what was probably a damn silly question.

As much as I agree with the joke that conservatives come to Ottawa to drink and liberals come to get laid, there are both kinds in both parties. I usually knew who was a straight arrow and who was not on the front benches. I was lucky at the time that I was frequently in Ottawa as three of my oldest brother’s daughters were working there. They were fun and they helped keep their favourite uncle out of trouble.

But, of course there can be no rule book to keep politicians out of the beds of the nation. Pierre Trudeau was once worried about one of his cabinet members frequenting gay bars. Senator Keith Davey explained Pierre’s concern to me. The problem was that Keith was just as likely to not know what to do as would Pierre. All I could advise them was that as long as the minister stuck to making friends in places where you are required to be an adult, the news media would say nothing.

Justin Trudeau needs to recognize that the relationships between individuals have come a long way in Canada’s 150 years. Both men and women away from home might like to have a drink and they might even like to engage in a friendly sexual romp. If the parties involved are adults and it is consensual, it is their business.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Political parties are not private.

Wednesday, January 24th, 2018

There was an interesting question raised last week by Toronto Star columnist Susan Delacourt about political parties. She was questioning whether political parties are public or private entities. Before we get legal minds involved in determining this, it is important to stress that a political party is created by and owned by its membership. It is whatever its membership determines it to be.

That being said though, a political party has to constantly redefine itself and undergo change to meet the needs and opportunities offered by its society. It can also be influenced by its leadership as the party leader, elected by the party, is usually a member of the party’s managing body. The last time a party went head to head with its leader was when Progressive Conservative Party President Dalton Camp decided in the late 1960s that former Prime Minister John Diefenbaker had outlasted his usefulness to his party.

It was at about that time that Prime Minister Lester Pearson agreed to a Liberal Party motion for the party leader to submit to a party vote in the year after an election. His successor, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau also agreed. The clause remains in to-day’s Liberal Party constitution.

But the interesting change pushed through by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the party’s biennial meeting in Winnipeg in 2016 is the designation of party members as Registered Liberals with no membership fees involved. In effect, he created a non-paying membership. Instead, over the past few years, these registered Liberals on the party’s computerized lists have been inundated with constant pleas for funds. Justin Trudeau seems to think of the membership as some sort of sucker list.

The fund-raising has been so intense that as something of a break there was an e-mail recently that admitted that the party might be overdoing it. It was asking for policy suggestions for an up-coming party convention in Halifax that is, in itself, a fund-raising opportunity.

What is wrong though is that there is no filtering of these resolutions through a regional or provincial party structure. Only the party hierarchy in Ottawa will see the proposals and decide which ones to put forward. That is a clear indication that Justin Trudeau does not want a democratic Liberal Party. This is just the Justin Trudeau fan club.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

The Walls of NAFTA.

Sunday, January 21st, 2018

There is more than one wall to consider when the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiators meet in Montreal this week. The wall that the negotiations is creating between Canada and the United States of America is just as serious as the wall of ignorance President Trump wants to build against Mexico. The difference is that Trump thinks he is manipulating Canada and all he is doing is creating a lasting ill will between countries long known for their friendship.

In a situation as serious as NAFTA, we started with denial. We launched into the negotiations with a Pollyanna perspective. We thought that the wannabe President in Washington would talk tough but negotiate. He seems to have no intention of that. He is threatening to take his ball and his bat home and the game is over.

The clauses we felt could be improved in the agreement where brought up. We thought it would show our willingness to negotiate. We were pointedly ignored. Instead, clauses were proposed by the Trump minions that gave America the clear edge and all the power. They included a ridiculous leverage on a high percentage of automobile assembly and an automatic five-year cancellation—unless stayed. This is not negotiation, this is demanding.

The feeling is that the U.S. negotiators might not make it through a winter week in Montreal. For that matter, the Mexicans would not really want the experience either. We could have a situation where the Americans might beat the Mexicans out the door. In as much as it is Canada’s meeting, it would be awkward for us to walk out first.

But the anger Canadians have been feeling is as cold as that Arctic Vortex we have felt this winter. When that bastard Trump is not belittling Canadians and our participation in NAFTA, he is patronizing us.

Trump has been told by now to stop pushing the Canadians. He might think he can jerk the Mexicans around but they obviously need NAFTA more than the Canadians. When Trudeau did not show up in that meeting in the Philippines recently to sign off on an Asia-Pacific pact, it was obvious that he wanted it held until the NAFTA meetings either folded or were clearer.

Trudeau’s problem is that he will have lost the respect of his own people if he caves in to Trump. He is working on Plan B.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

The Lion proposes to his Princess.

Saturday, January 20th, 2018

We read that it was the Tenth Sikh Guru Gobind Singh, who determined that Sikh men could identify as Singh (lion) and Sikh women as Kaur (princess). This happened more than 300 years ago and was all in aid of getting rid of the caste system for Sikhs and asserting the equality of women. It is why, with the upcoming marriage of Jagmeet Singh to Girkiran Kaur Sidhu, the leader of Canada’s New Democratic Party and his wife will probably want to keep their own names.

But despite it being a Sikh ceremony, it is all very political. There are just too many problems with an unmarried political party leader. If you do not have to face the rumours and innuendoes about a politician’s sexuality, you can concentrate on the more important issues.

When you consider the provincial Conservative leaders in Alberta and Ontario, you can understand the problem. Nobody really cares about the sexual choices of Jason Kenney, who is now the leader of Alberta’s United Conservatives. His record is clear as a social Conservative and there have been enough claims about the misogyny of him and his circle that it is hard to understand why any woman would want to support him.

Observing Ontario Conservative Leader Patrick Brown while he was in Ottawa and representing us here in Barrie, I think his problem is that women do not seem to like him. He is also a social conservative and has voted to re-open arguments about abortion and against same-sex marriage. He does not appear comfortable talking to women and they seem to rapidly lose interest in him.

Jagmeet Singh is quite different. With an outgoing personality and as a devout Sikh, he would probably be considered a very good catch for a Sikh lady. His ‘princess’ also looks like the perfect spouse for a politician. She is a successful fashion designer and appears to wear her designs well.

Jagmeet is already a hero to younger Sikhs because of his days as an extreme wrestler as well as being a successful lawyer before going into provincial politics in Ontario. He has yet to win election though to the House of Commons and take his place in parliament as NDP leader.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Democracy, behind closed doors?

Friday, January 19th, 2018

There is some puzzlement here with Canada’s democratic institutions minister. She asks for public input on political leaders’ debates for the next federal election but meets with those her department chooses to talk with behind closed doors. For all the problems we experienced with Maryam Monsef, the first minister of democratic institutions, she was at least open about her limitations and her department’s deliberations. Regrettably, it left her inexperience exposed.

The new minister, Karina Gould, must be trying to play it safe. We have no way to really know how much she knows or what she wants to know. Only the news media will have a chance to find out. Her office seems to want to go out and gather the usual suspects every time there is a question to explore. The usual suspects are the political scientists with their theories, the Elections Canada people with their rules and the elected MPs who think they know how they got elected.

It seems though that the people who could really supply her with the answers are people with extensive experience in political campaigns. I refer to them as political apparatchiks.

Many of us who have this type of political experience, have sat in meetings over the years discussing the pros, the cons and the realities of leaders’ debates. And as much as it was discussed, the leaders still wanted to cherry-pick the debates with a potential for individual advantage.

And if one of the party leaders has nothing to prove or win in a leaders’ debate, why do it? Sometimes, the discussion can be around a strategy to get leaders to cooperate.

The point is that leaders’ debates have to be handled in a flexible environment. No two elections are the same. Leaders change, campaign strategies change and everyone has to understand that debates are for the voters, not the politicians. A debate is part of the democratic process.

And also understand you are taking a serious risk if you start rolling today’s technology into the rules of the game. Technology evolves too fast. Facebook might be yesterday’s technology. And has Donald Trump in the United States discredited Twitter as a political soapbox? You have no way of knowing what will be the technological solutions two years from now. With all due respect to the academics and officials with which she is talking, the minister needs to learn from people who understand the political problems.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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