Archive for the ‘Federal Politics’ Category

Sales people can be the easiest sale.

Monday, July 9th, 2018

Justin Trudeau blew it the other day. His task was simple. He was to sell Premier Ford of Ontario on helping to save the environment. And while he was at it, he also needed to help Ford understand that Canadians try their best to help refugees. At the same time, Ford needed to help preserve a common front with the feds on the ongoing North American Free Trade (NAFTA) negotiations.

But we are not sure that the third item even made it into the discussion.

Instead of pitching his product, the prime minister set out to lecture the premier. It would be hard to choose a bigger waste of time. Doug Ford was there to prove that he was now the premier and the prime minister had come to him for something. Ford was feeling like top dog in that kennel.

Next time, Trudeau should remember to send for Ford. He should have had the meeting in the more impressive prime minister’s office. Turf is everything to a guy like that.

And what right does Trudeau have to get miffed at the obduracy of Ford? Did he expect instant understanding? Those guys do not speak the same language. And I hardly mean French and English.

Ford is not an environmentally friendly kind of person. He is the type who doesn’t care about plastic straws and probably throws his empty Tim’s cup out the SUV window at a stoplight. He seems to see environmentalism as something for wusses.

And his attitude on refugees is straight out of the Donald Trump Handbook. He sees them all as mad rapists and criminals who want our free medical care and housing who will take the bread from Canadians. Mind you, if Trudeau thinks it is a complex subject, he obviously is not going to enlighten the likes of Ontario’s Doug Ford.

Despite Trudeau’s background as a teacher, Ford is probably a special needs case when it comes to this subject. Ontario’s bombastic new social services minister, Lisa MacLeod has also indicated to her federal counterpart that the province was no longer interested in doing anything for asylum seekers who are shifting their focus from the United States.

Be warned you tired and poor and huddled masses, the signs at the borders of Ontario are no longer going to say ‘welcome’ either.

-30-

Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

You get what you pay for.

Sunday, July 8th, 2018

It comes as a surprise to learn that the new democrats across Canada are a bunch of paupers. We are told that they are not paying Jagmeet Singh for his work as leader of the party. He is unelected and therefore not being paid from the public purse either. It does not seem right.

How long does the party think he can keep going without money? Those bespoke suits and colorful hair coverings are not free. The guy has an image to maintain and the party is not helping.

Members of parliament in Canada are paid about $175,000 in base salary and earn more for committee work outside of regular house attendance. This would have been a nice bump from his previous pay of around $125,00 as deputy leader of the NDP at Queen’s Park

Jagmeet also has a reputation to maintain as the best-dressed NDP in Canada He also has his reputation among Canadian Sikhs to consider. The Sikh community might not like it if everyone started to think that Sikhs do not need to earn money.

Besides he is getting married sometime soon and he is expected to keep his ‘princess’ in the manner to which she would like to be accustomed.

But instead of being tied down with parliamentary duties in Ottawa, Jagmeet is a free agent able to travel back and forth across the country beating the drum for the NDP. I guess his intent is to spread the word for socialism—as practised by the NDP. I am sure he does not need to pass an alms bowl around the union halls to pay for his supper as we hear the party at least pays his expenses.

Frankly, and not to criticize Jagmeet, we are wondering if this is really paying off for the party? It looks like the party vote bottomed at the recent bye-election in Quebec. This might or might not have anything to do with Jagmeet’s leadership or religion. This is a judgement call that can only be made from the midst of the bye-election.

But it will be time to fish or cut bait next year. The upcoming federal election in 2019 will tell us about the success or failure of the Jagmeet experience. The hypocrisy of the Trudeau liberals and their Trans Mountain pipeline is not going to help them in B.C. or even Alberta and the new democrats are the only party that could come out well on both sides of the issue.

There is also opportunity for the NDP across the country. Whether Jagmeet is the leader to take advantage of it, remains the question.

-30-

Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

One Canada: Two men named Trudeau.

Sunday, July 1st, 2018

Is Justin Trudeau building on or confusing the legacy of Pierre Trudeau? Thinking back to that Canada Day 50 years ago when Pierre Trudeau was our new prime minister, I think of two very different men. As the wife and I decided the first time we met Justin Trudeau, he is a very different person than his father.

The wife pinned it down by simply stating that Justin Trudeau was probably more like his mother. He is certainly not the aesthetic nor intellectual as was his father. Justin marches to his own drummer. It was only when seeing him speak at his father’s funeral that we saw that there was a nascent politician in the offing.

In his actions as prime minister, Justin Trudeau has built on his father’s legacy of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. He has added a strong pro-feminist stance to our governance as well as a clearer understanding of abortion rights. And we at least have a start towards a declaration of the right of the individual to death as well as life.

But somewhere along the way growing up, Justin must have seen the vehemence of the hatred in Alberta for his father’s national energy policy (NEP). It was as though the elder Trudeau was stealing the bread from Albertan mouths rather than grandfathering the rights of Alberta to its natural resources-based economy. The NEP was forever labelled as an affront and as poaching on Albertan rights. It probably did not bother the father as much as the son.

Yet, no amount of pandering to political greed is going to change the perceptions of many Albertans. Justin Trudeau has even betrayed his hard-won image as a poster boy for the environment. By offering to buy the Trans Mountain pipeline and make it a federal government project, he has betrayed the Paris environmental agreement with most of the world.

The expanded pipeline is designed to pump Alberta highly polluting tar sands bitumen at high pressure to Burrard Inlet and ocean-going tankers. Ersatz crude oil from the tar sands is produced at three times the usual pollution before it is refined to any of many oil products.

Pierre Trudeau loved the natural beauty of Canada and was an avid canoeist. What is the heritage his son Justin is leaving for his children as he so defiantly increases Canada and the world’s carbon footprint?

-30-

Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

From Penny Dreadful to false news.

Thursday, June 28th, 2018

If you think false news is new news, you are only about 300 years behind the news. Watching the efforts of past politician Patrick Brown to communicate with his constituents during his time in Ottawa, I used to think of his efforts in terms of the penny dreadful publications that originated in England in the early 1800s. They had the same lack of accuracy and quality and the same misleading enticements to want to read the following edition.

Most of the early penny dreadful material was fictional about highwaymen or vampires and so was much of Patrick Brown’s efforts. He seemed to accept anything without question from the party offices or as quoted from questionable sources. What was most annoying was his use of local charities to promote himself. He was doing a disservice to the charities but they could hardly say ‘no’ to him.

He used to make fanciful claims about what he did for charities in Barrie. He even used to take the credit for the Royal Victoria Hospital summer hockey event, saying he thought of it and started it, until enough people said “No, he did not.” He used to politicize the event to the point of needlessly polarizing the community.

But this is not to say that all of Patrick Brown’s schemes were not effective. He was easily re-elected for three terms as member of parliament for Barrie. When Brown saw the handwriting on the wall on the conservatives’ chances in 2015, he made the jump for the brass ring in Ontario. By signing up close to 40,000 immigrants from the Indian sub-continent (with or without payment), he swamped the then low membership of the Ontario conservatives and took the leadership—for a while anyway.

But we should hardly be surprised that the two city councillors—acolytes of Patrick Brown—who were there to fill in for him in the new electoral districts for the 2015 federal election, are following in his footsteps.

Messrs. Brassard and Nutall, both MPs for different halves of Barrie, sent out a penny dreadful the other day to announce that they are playing hockey down at the cenotaph on July 1. I, for one, just have better things to do than sit in the hot sun watching a mediocre game of shinny by people who are supposed to be adults.

-30-

Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Do polls prove their point?

Wednesday, June 27th, 2018

Reading a recent newspaper article about the pollsters congratulating themselves on their accuracy in the last provincial election was enough to make me ill. The more serious question on that provincial election was whether the polls followed the voters or did the voters follow the polls?

Opinion polls, focus groups and voter profiling used to be handy tools for campaign management but in the hands of the news media, they have been weaponized. Various media outlets seem to have their own tame pollsters to support their editorial stance. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) even has its own compiler who takes all the polls and comes up with an average. This brave soul also tries to forecast the number of seats in an imaginary legislature.

The problem with this is that 19 times out of 20, the pollsters manage to get certain things wrong. They say they are adjusting their algorithms to compensate for some of the errors. In that case, I suspect the errors must be growing faster than their corrections.

We have always known, for example, that the NDP vote will be exaggerated. Early in the campaign, it is the parked votes of people who are not sure of how they will ultimately vote. Later in the campaign, people just lie.

And they never have been able to determine who among our young people are likely to vote. The campaign manager that fails to develop a strong youth movement for the candidate is not very good at the job.

But who is likely to vote by election day is always the key question. And when you are dealing with 40 per cent or more non-voters, what can any opinion poll really tell you?

The guys who do surprise me are the interactive voice response (IVR) pollsters who use high volumes of calls to try to correct their built-in errors. Who do you think answers the hard-wired phone in a household replete with children and youths? If I was a four-year old picking up an IVR call, I would have just as much fun as an adult playing with the phone buttons.

Campaigns keep changing. You can never judge by what happened in the last election. As I always found as a campaign manager was that three or four afternoons with carefully selected poll sheets could give me the best idea of what was happening. It gave you direction.

-30-

Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

The Prince of Pot.

Tuesday, June 26th, 2018

Are you looking forward to the Prince of Pot’s coronation on October 17? That will be the day when you can legally buy and use cannabis in Canada for purely recreational purposes. Maybe. It depends on whether your province has got its proprietary pot shops in place. It has taken a long three years for this particular pot promise to happen.

It was the promise that got a lot of the younger voters out and working to help elect Justin Trudeau and his liberals in 2015.

Unlike Trudeau’s ill-considered promise to make that election the last time we would use first-past-the-post voting, the pot promise will now happen.

Maybe one of the reasons that the pot promise took so long was that Trudeau put a one-time policeman in charge of the file. This was the cop who trashed our civil rights during the ill-fated G-20 in Toronto in 2010. It should go down in history on a par with the federal conservative government reaction to the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919.

But there was no smooth sailing for the pot act all the way through parliament. It is reputed by some to be a deeply flawed bill and was rejected when studied by Canada’s elitist senate. Flawed or not, the bill was sent back to the senate by parliament for passing. In as much as most of the senators really like the sinecure of their high-paid jobs, the bill was passed.

There are still some provincial governments concerned about the allowance for some home-grown pot and that argument could become the stuff of which the Supreme Court has to consider. Frankly, the court should throw any complaint out as soon as it shows up on its docket.

But how are the pot partakers to participate in the 2019 election? Their Prince of Pot will need them again. He needs their contributions. He needs their participation. Will they all be so stoned that they will forget all about it?

-30-

Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Checking Chuckles’ Challenges.

Sunday, June 24th, 2018

Maybe it is just the pundits in Ottawa who are challenged to understand the leader of the conservative party. While some tend to treat him as the Joker character from the Batman comics, Andrew Scheer M.P. has a little more depth than that. At least, his leadership of the federal conservatives is not going to frighten little children.

Chuckles has been wending his smiley way with the conservative caucus and seems to have them mainly under control. They might not be ready to resume power on the government benches but they do seem to know what they are there to do.

But if prime minister Trudeau and the liberals keep fumbling the ball, nobody expects Chuckles and his team of cheer leaders to know what to do with it.

On something such as the acquisition of the Trans Mountain pipeline, Scheer and the gang are caught between a rock and a hard place—and both are named Jason Kenney, leader of the united conservatives in Alberta. Jason Kenney could not have asked for a better solution to shipping bitumen to Burnaby, B.C. than Trudeau has offered. Trudeau and the feds take the blame for spills and Alberta gets the revenue.

Ergo, Chuckles also has to be in favour of Justin’s folly. It hardly matters that the government has offered to pay too much. They hardly care that Justin has put billions of public money at risk.

And nobody gives a damn what Jagmeet Singh, seat-less leader of the NDP, has to say about it. He is caught between NDP premier Notley of Alberta and NDP premier Horgan of B.C. and has been effectively silenced.

Chuckles can try to bask in the glory of the conservative win in the bye-election in Chicoutimi-Le Fjord. He would first have to thank the Bloc and the NDP for collapsing to less than ten per cent of the vote. And he should be more aware that Quebec bye-elections are intensely local events and meaningless on a national scale.

But despite a relatively positive performance on the opposition benches of parliament, Chuckles remains a relatively unknown quantity among the public. I would never say “never” but Chuckles would have to have a surprising amount of luck going with him to pose any major threat to Trudeau and his team’s re-election next year.

-30-

Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

LDP 02: What is in a name?

Friday, June 22nd, 2018

One of the responses we received about a proposed new liberal democratic party (LDP) was from a reader who thought we could just join the Green party and be done with it. As much as I have admired green leader Elizabeth May’s hard work and leadership of the Green Party, I see no reason for liberals to join her party.

Just one of the problems is the name of the party. By calling itself the Green Party, it narrows its purpose, if not focus. It tells people that the party is about the environment and tells us nothing else.

The NDP is also very keen on the environment and takes an equally strong stance. Its problem is that much of its rhetoric is still based on the socialism of the 1930s. The party has failed to build an image for the 21st century.

Despite May’s intelligent and well-researched positions on many aspects of governance, she cannot be all-knowing. As a one-person party, May is stretched beyond reason in parliament. Many MPs over the years have admitted to me that it is about all you can do in parliament is keep up to date on one department as well as do your constituency work

Even the liberal party has taken positive stands on protecting the environment—until prime minister Justin Trudeau’s recent offer to buy and ship highly polluting Alberta bitumen through an expanded Trans Mountain pipeline. Not only is government participation in shipping bitumen bad economics but it is enraging a core of environmentally concerned liberals. Justin Trudeau and the liberals will need all of their mobs for re-election next year and will not find all of them.

But the liberal mobs had already felt themselves adrift. For some inexplicable reason, Trudeau had decided much earlier that he did not like his father’s party. As useful as the party had been to him, he wanted a top-down structure that he could manipulate to his choosing. He went from no party membership fee (and no membership) to a large group of e-mail addresses for people to harangue for help in campaigning and to provide the campaign funds. Those of us who think of ourselves as liberals have been cast aside for the gullible and the monied.

After next year, we will need a new federal liberal party as well as provincial.

-30-

Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Some truths for Jagmeet Singh.

Thursday, June 21st, 2018

New democratic party leader Jagmeet Singh learned some truths in a federal bye-election this week. It was in Quebec and political truths can be particularly brutal in that province. It was the truth that the Orange Wave in Quebec in 2011 was a one-time thing. It was the truth that religion does matter. It was the truth that an observent Sikh might not be a popular choice to lead a political party in Canada.

And the most serious truth of all is that Jagmeet Singh misjudged Canadians. In the cultural mosaics of Ontario and British Columbia, in the liberal polyglot of cultures and in the concentrations of a few electoral districts with large numbers of Sikhs, Jagmeet Singh thought he saw acceptance.

He was wrong. There are differences between tolerance and acceptance. It is the tolerance that allows for acceptance. Acceptance is a long-term goal. It sometimes takes generations. It is in the understanding of other’s customs, the melding of ideas, of setting objectives. It is in the promotion of similarities and the gradual fading of differences. There is no fixed Canadian ideal. There are just shared values.

Even in Quebec, which some try to keep different, the shared values are there. All Canadians have a level of pride in the French and English heritage of the dominion. We can all have pride in our particular heritage as well as our collective heritage.

What it comes down to is that Jagmeet Singh was wrong to swamp the NDP provincial organizations in B.C. and Ontario with Sikh sign-ups. As proud as the Sikh communities in Canada are of the accomplishments of fellow Sikh Jagmeet, they were also wrong to assume that their choice would be readily accepted by all party members or by the voters.

Jagmeet’s failure to seek election to the House of Commons and his failure to show strong leadership has left him in limbo. How does he expect voters to accept him?

This is not a country that uses proportional representation to divide people and where Hassidim vote for Hassidim and Baptists vote for Baptists. A member of parliament has to represent all the voters in a given electoral district. An MP’s religion has to be irrelevant to his or her voters. It is the experience, party, ideas, services, loyalty, understanding and leadership that they want. Jagmeet’s Five Ks of Sikhism are little understood and unimportant to his non-Sikh voters.

-30-

Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Chrystia’s Cassandra Complex?

Monday, June 18th, 2018

Canada’s foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland, might not be a fortune teller but she had more than a few truths for the Americans last week. Our only concern might be with her timing, discretion and diplomacy. As the expression goes: Rome was not built in a day—and it took a few more centuries to strip it of power. It survived for many years after the unruly rule of Emperor Nero. And, like Nero, Donald Trump will just be another blot on the copybook of history.

But it was not a diplomatic speech Freeland gave to the foreign policy forum in Washington. She was challenging the pre-eminence of America.

Maybe that is a necessary message to which Americans should listen. It would just be treated with more respect if it came from within.

Think of the message that prime minister Lester Pearson delivered to Temple University in Philadelphia in 1965 about the Vietnam war. It led to the famous scene of president Lyndon Johnson grabbing Pearson by the lapels and shouting at him about pissing on the presidential rug. The message is that Canadians can visit Washington but need to be seen, not heard.

While her call for adherence to the rules that the Americans insisted on as part of the North American trade agreement might be logical, it falls on deaf ears on the Trump administration. Nobody in that maladministration cares about her claims.

And giving Americans history lessons is also, in itself, a waste of time. They can write their own self-aggrandizing history books in Hollywood, thank you very much.

Freeland might be pint-sized but she is entitled to walk tall in the corridors of Washington. She represents a country that has always batted above its numbers among the world’s nations. It is not a nation easily gulled.

Canada’s foreign minister would have an easier time of it if her boss was not a pretty boy running around the world posturing with platitudes and posing for selfies. He makes a farce of his promises in Paris when he then ridicules the process of saving the environment by promoting Alberta tar sands pollution for the third world. It makes him a hypocrite and an embarrassment for Canadians.

Freeland’s speech in Washington drew some applause from outside the White House but is unlikely to mean much as NAFTA comes to its inevitable end. It will die as part of  Trump’s efforts to make America great at something again.

-30-

Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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