Archive for the ‘Federal Politics’ Category

Pick your battles better Mr. Singh.

Wednesday, July 15th, 2020

As leader of a political party, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh needs to learn to pick his battles with more care. When he says that the person who broke through the gates to Rideau Hall with his truck early this month was treated differently because he is white, Singh is making a racist statement. He is indiscriminately condemning all RCMP personnel as racist without justification.

Canadians would be quite surprised if the Mounties sent rookies just out of school to protect the prime minister and the governor general. The mounted police on this detail would be well aware that you are not allowed to shoot somebody who surrenders. And they know how to deal respectfully with citizens who want to visit the grounds of Rideau Hall.

I think I am more annoyed today with the Toronto Star. The newspaper seems to have a thing for hiring writers of colour who appear to disapprove of anybody white or in authority. An op-ed today by a writer named Kelly Roche was supposed to be about police chiefs and the NDP leader. It was, instead, a racist rant against all Canadian police and their (white) chiefs of police.

Ms. Roche seems to have a thing for cops. She thinks she can say with impunity that “Cops aren’t listening.” She tells us that “They (the police) want a scapegoat and it is the dude with the turban.”

And what kind of editing is the Star doing these days. The writer uses an arcane journalism term ‘nut graf’ to show she is some sort of journalist. That term would likely be understood by less than five per cent of the Star readers. (The term ‘nut graf’ refers to the paragraph—usually the first—that explains what the article is about.)

The thumbnail picture that comes with the opinion piece tells us nothing about Ms. Roche but the copy tells us that she teaches journalism part time. Based on this one sample, I would not be inclined to recommend her course.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

How do we pay the mortgage?

Tuesday, July 14th, 2020

It would have helped last week if finance minister Bill Morneau had paid some attention to the deficit side of our financial snapshot. The problem is that to many Canadians the figures he was discussing were unfathomable. The average citizen does not think of money in billions and trillions. Reality to most of us is the cost of a coffee at Tim’s or a loaf of bread at Loblaws. And politicians need to remember it.

Mr. Morneau and the liberal government have taken out a sizeable mortgage on Canada to get us through this pandemic and we are still in the woods on this situation. There will be more debt piled on before this is over. We will need more backstopping to keep our economy from collapsing. We will need fresh funds to replace old economic activities and kick start new activities.

And nobody is fooling themselves that some of our old economic segments are going to bounce back soon. Air travel is not going to suddenly take off. The oil sector is last year. Cars are going electric. Canada needs non-polluting, high-speed electric trains. Our spending will continue.

In this new era, we are not only going to be paying down this hefty mortgage, we are going to have to make sure the payments are a shared responsibility. We need to put back the two per cent Stephen Harper took from our GST. As long as we rebate it to those on a low income and not charge it on food, it is fair.

But we also have to tax the rich more efficiently. There are too many tax loopholes for the wealthy and too much money being hidden off-shore. Canadians have to demand that taxation is fair.

Luckily, nobody need be in a rush to pay. The low cost of borrowing is working for us at this time. We need to remember though that there is no free lunch. Canada is a great country and it is worth every penny it costs us.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

And a sneer from Scheer.

Sunday, July 12th, 2020

It was difficult to assess all sides of the discussion last week to the finance minister’s snapshot of Canada’s financial position. To be fair, minister Morneau is not a dynamic speaker. You needed time as he droned on to grasp the dimension of the how far this pandemic has taken Canada into debt. And it is not even over!

What is to be appreciated though is that Canada is doing the job that has to be done. Canada is working to save lives. Canada is working to save jobs and businesses that can assure us a strong recovery.

But instead of recognizing the efforts from the government benches of parliament, acting opposition leader Andrew Scheer sneers. He nit picks the programs. He tells us that the government is just wrong. He tells us that the government is slow to fix gaps. Mr. Scheer and his conservatives carp a lot.

Conversely, Jagmeet Singh and his NDP want more. When a bit helps, they want more. He claimed that much of the help being delivered to Canadians was at the bequest of the NDP. He is concerned about the negativism of the conservatives. He is concerned that the liberals will start to back down.

Singh and other NDP spokespeople believe the weakness in the liberal efforts has been in the lack of special programs for the handicapped in our society. It is no surprise that liberals agree with them. These programs were created in haste and they are still being adjusted to ensure all segments of society are helped.

I thought the best comments were by former green party leader Elizabeth May. She agreed with the weakness pointed out by the NDP but made a fulsome defence of the government efforts. She also agrees with this writer that the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) makes an excellent start towards a basic guaranteed income for all Canadians. It is amazing how much such a program can really save us.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

The naiveté of Justin Trudeau.

Saturday, July 11th, 2020

It is easy to criticize the prime minister. If the prime minister’s office just had a few experienced people to advise Mr. Trudeau, he might not get into some of these awkward situations that plague him. The current kerfuffle over payments to his family by a charity to which he wanted to give a large government contract, is a case in point.

The first questions we should be asking is how can a charity accept such a contract? There have been many questions raised about this charity and the Kielburgers who run it. These are questions that should have raised flags in Ottawa. The brothers Kielburger are reputed to be millionaires today. Why?

It has often been said that the simplest ideas can make the most money. It is like starting with a hamburger and creating McDonald’s.

The initial launch in the 1990s of what started as Free the Children and became the We Charity was accompanied by a book purportedly written by younger brother Craig Kielburger. It was accompanied by a very successful publicity effort.

Since then, we have seen the programs for school children that gather them in large arenas and gets them to shout a lot. It is hard to tell when the Kielburgers’ personal propaganda ends and the We Charity takes over. It is this super hero stuff that kids seem to eat up but leaves charity professionals puzzled.

And in all my years of working with charities, I have never paid a guest speaker. Yes, charities do pick up expenses when necessary. I have always found that the best guest speakers are those who understand the value of what you are doing and want to contribute.

I also know how the federal government has struggled over the years, with programs to get Canadian students summer jobs, I can well understand that, at a time like this, the civil servants would like to download the task.

But I really do not know how a charity could switch to managing such huge task without the time to plan and staff-up. This is very much a mystery. It would be worth looking into.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

Bob Rae is PM’s Pick for UN.

Friday, July 10th, 2020

Former Ontario NDP premier and former interim leader of the federal liberals, Bob Rae, finally got his father’s old job as ambassador to the United Nations. It is hard to say if this appointment is a slap in the face to the U.N. for not electing Canada to one of the open security council seats recently or a compliment in sending a proven foreign diplomat for the job.

You have to admit that Rae did a good job for Canada in his recent appointments of assistance to the Canadian government. His report to the government on the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar and Bangladesh was reputed to be an excellent analysis of a serious situation. He also had some very good advice for the prime minister on the problems related to the airliner shot down in Ukraine.

I think the best work that Rae ever did politically was as interim liberal leader leading up to the election of Justin Trudeau in 2013. It was not the finest period for the party but Rae brought it new life in its secondary role in opposition.

I was less impressed when Rae was premier of Ontario. I was around Queen’s Park during the Davis conservative, Peterson liberal and Rae NDP years. my impression was that the Rae government was the most politicized and almost impossible with which to negotiate. As for Rae’s performance as premier, I would consider it indifferent. After he bought into the right-wing ideas of Tom d’Aquino and his business council on national issues and launched his infamous Rae Days, I have not been back to the pink palace on Queen’s Park Crescent.

There were some quiet moves among a few liberals back in 2012 to get Rae to resign as interim leader and to run against Justin Trudeau for the party leadership. I could not see the point.

The United Nations is a fine retirement for Rae.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

Ms. May must be mishegus.

Friday, July 3rd, 2020

Did you hear former green leader Elizabeth May’s latest? After giving up the leadership of her green party, she wants the greens to join up with other losers in the new democratic party. She tops this by then suggesting that the person to lead this gong show is former liberal Jody Wilson-Raybould, the independent MP for Vancouver-Granville.

While it is somewhat cavalier of Ms. May to give the back of her hand to NDP leader Jagmeet Singh in this manner, you have to admit, he was taking the party nowhere anyway. Our poor socialists have been wandering in the wilderness for a long time now.

You have to consider the LEAP manifesto that Ari Lewis and Naomi Klein initiated to fill the gap in NDP direction was a better document than anything the greens have produced recently.

But neither party has a good grasp of Canada’s non-environmental needs. And previous NDP leader Tom Mulcair often seemed to be moving to the right of Trudeau’s liberals. May’s problem with her environmental party was that they could never seem to agree on a direction in other areas such as Canada’s foreign affairs.

And Elizabeth May wants Jody Wilson-Raybould to lead this new green-NDP to the barricades? She must have seen something in Wilson-Raybould that others of us have missed. Wilson-Raybould had a responsibility as a cabinet minister to take her problems with the SNC Lavalin affair to cabinet or directly to the prime minister. If she could not carry out her responsibilities as justice minister and attorney general, how would she fare in running a political party?

The other concern I see in this scheme is that Elizabeth May would have to commit to be being part of this green-NDP arrangement to help keep it from falling apart. It would be a sad ending to an otherwise exemplary career.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

Happy Canada Day Mr. Prime Minister.

Wednesday, July 1st, 2020

Susan Delacourt of the Toronto Star hit the nail on the head recently when she ran a commentary saying that “Trudeau doesn’t want advice from his dad’s friends. She ‘s right. When the wife and I first met the adult Justin Trudeau ten years ago, we both agreed that he was more like his mother than his father. He lacks his father’s curiosity, intellect and whimsy. He is not even as liberal.

I often wished when he was running for the liberal party leadership that he had some stronger competition. He seems to have a switch in that mop of hair that he can turn on for an audience. His father would have been appalled at all the selfies and mindless speeches that his son gave in that non-contest.

But, as party leader, Justin started to show his leanings. His attack on the liberals in the senate told where he was headed. He and I had discussed abolishing the senate as one of the priorities for constitutional change in Canada and he made it very clear that would not happen during his watch. I had missed the signals of his elitism.

He simply dumped the existing liberal senators as old baggage. He put his confidence in an elite committee to find him worthy candidates to be ‘independent’ senators and other government appointees who would do what he told them because it was the ‘right’ thing to do.

That attitude has bit him on the ass a few times, but mostly he has been lucky. There are still enough of the old timers in the senate to keep it doing its job.

The most serious mistake he has gotten away with so far was dumping the membership fees for the liberal party. Instead, people who are on the list are inundated with pleas for funds. What Justin Trudeau and his friends do not seem to understand is that these are the people needed to help win their riding. Their financial support is secondary.

The reason we have a minority government today is that Trudeau and friends did not have the grass roots support that was needed in the 2019 election. They gave up on ridings that they could have won.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

When you can’t press the flesh.

Tuesday, June 30th, 2020

Thinking about political leadership campaigns, it occurs to me that the constraints on the candidates today are not only catastrophic for the candidates but impossible for the party faithful to judge. How can you expect the party members to make a reasoned choice? When meetings cannot take place, you have no chance to question the candidate directly and you really do not get a chance to see how the candidate might perform in a general election. What is left?

What you need obviously is a highly creative effort that breaks new ground in political campaigns. And good luck on that!

What amuses me about the current conservative fiasco is that all trails seem to come back to Barrie and Patrick Brown. He is like Marley’s ghost promising conservative spectres of the past, present and future.

One of these spectres is Walied Soliman, a close friend of Brown’s since their days at University of Windsor law school. Soliman is currently chairing MP Erin O’Toole’s national campaign.

Another spectre is Alex Nuttall, the former MP from Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte. Alex spent years as Patrick Brown’s understudy on the conservative farm team at Barrie city council. I always thought he appeared angry when campaigning in 2015 and that might have been one of the reasons Alex won the seat by less than 90 votes. Few were impressed with his performance in Ottawa. He did not run for re-election in 2019.

One of Nuttall’s mistakes while in parliament was publicly supporting MP Maxime Bernier for the conservative leadership that ultimately chose Andrew Scheer.

To-date, the conservative leadership candidates have only seemed to differ on what they might do about climate change and their differences on abortion. While MacKay and O’Toole are considered to be the front runners, the method of balloting and the weighting of the ridings makes it almost impossible to forecast the outcome.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

English is a living language.

Monday, June 29th, 2020

Recently, former Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe appeared on Global Television’s West Block program with interviewer Mercedes Stephenson. While I rarely agree with the Bloc or any of its leaders, Duceppe has always amused me with his sly use of the English language. English might not be his first language but I get the impression he knows exactly what he is saying. The other day, he was having fun with the words ‘systemic’ and ‘systematically.’

Duceppe was talking about the argument new democrat leader Jagmeet Singh was having with the Bloc house leader. It was the one that got Singh thrown out of the house of commons.

I also believe you would have a hard time proving that racism pervades all of our Mounted Police operations. And that is what it means if you accuse the Mounties of systemic racism.

And by the way, the word ‘Systémique’ in French means the same.

But people like to take words and change them to meet their bias. Take the word ‘indigenous.’ It means ‘from here.’ Some people want this to include aboriginal peoples from the American continent. What they are really saying is that if your ancestors came to this continent about 15,000 years ago, you might as well say you are from here. I hardly think there will be a vote on this.

It is regrettable that there is no standard for English in Canada. A few of our universities consider this language important but there is little co-ordination in their efforts. Canadian Press which has been supported by some of our news organizations in the past used to put out handy little guides for the media. With the general decline in support for our news media, there is little help today. English and French are both living languages and they are constantly encompassing new words and changing words.

And what makes you think Google knows everything?

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

O’Toole should cool it.

Saturday, June 27th, 2020

It is a pity to waste good political advice on conservatives but MP Erin O’Toole’s current hissy fit with Peter MacKay’s leadership organization could cause irreparable harm in Canadian politics. And rather than being amused by the lack of political smarts of the Erin O’Toole leadership organization, most knowledgeable politicos are appalled by the growing rift.

I am not sure how many times I have given people in the liberal party the lecture about contests between people of the same political party. There is nothing that people in the same party love to do more than to gossip. At political meetings the most important conversations take place in washrooms, hallways and hospitality suites. (Those that take place in convenient beds during gatherings are a subject on its own.)

The point is that, no matter how hotly contested an issue such as the party leadership might be, these are the same people with whom you are going to be working side-by-side in the next election. You should never annoy a fellow party member in any manner that cannot be laughed about or walked back.

And, for heavens sake, never, ever involve Elections Canada or any police. It is only the campaign manager’s responsibility to always be able to lie to any regulatory body with a straight face. And nobody else needs to know everything.

The good news is that Elections Canada and the various police departments in this particular case have a far more sophisticated view of these matters. They are most unlikely to find any wrong doing has taken place. They certainly do not want to charge anyone with what would be a minor offense.

What I would recommend to the conservatives at this time is that they cancel their leadership contest for lack of interest. It might embarrass the party a bit but it is far less embarrassment than having MacKay or O’Toole running the party. In fact, Andrew Scheer is a better interim solution than either of those chuckleheads.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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