Archive for the ‘Federal Politics’ Category

This just in: Nuttall’s out.

Thursday, March 28th, 2019

If there was ever an individual in the wrong place at the wrong time, it was Alex Nuttall, the M.P. for our electoral district of Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte. Alex was Patrick Brown’s hand-picked successor on Barrie city council and subsequently in the back benches in Ottawa. On a recount of ballots, in 2015, Nuttall won by a skinny 86 votes, against an inept campaign by the local liberals.

Oddly enough, the various times I saw Alex Nuttall in the riding, during that campaign and for the recount afterward, he seemed angry. That was very different from when he was on city council where he tended to mumble and bumble along. He never did seem to do much in either job.

He gave the standard answers when he announced his leaving federal politics at Barrie city council last Monday. It seems, like a wounded animal, he was returning to a place of comfort to lick his wounds. He used the stock excuse that he was leaving to spend time with his young family. I am guessing that it will be a while before we find out the real reason.

But it is unlikely we have seen the last of Alex. He has been receiving an MP’s salary for these past four years and that is more than he might have ever been making before. It will be interesting to see what he picks when he has to go back to earning a living in October.

He seems to have a comfort factor in the financial businesses such as banking and mortgages but few if any of these jobs would have a starting salary as high as we pay our parliamentarians.

I expect this news will get our sleepy local federal liberal party organization out to see if anyone can see their shadow. We need a live liberal candidate in Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte folks.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

‘Scheer’ Foolishness.

Wednesday, March 27th, 2019

It is to be hoped that someone in the Scheer family is keeping a scrapbook of the positive commentaries on Chuckles’ prospects in the federal election in October? It is a shame to get the poor guy’s hopes up. The scrapbook will help prove to his grandchildren that he really thought he was a contender.

But is it really fair? Andrew ‘Chuckles’ Scheer was the thirteenth choice out of thirteen contenders in the last confused conservative leadership contest. The second-place loser, Maxime Bernier, lost by so few percentage points, that he went off to form his own Peoples’ Party.

Not that the choice of Chuckles was all that popular. All his previous reign as Speaker of the Commons proved is that he is a conservative. He is dull, predictable and will lead the party nowhere. In a recent speech to a conservative audience, he hit all the hot buttons such as deficit reduction, building more pipelines and more free trade deals.

But, when it is time for leadership, Chuckles clocks out. We are not getting any sense of where he might be headed—besides some conservative Valhalla. In that speech, he also talked about dumping a couple of the liberals’ investment programs. These are the Canada infrastructure bank and the Asian development bank. Both of these programs are more conservative than liberal in origin and both have been slow at getting off the ground. Why Chuckles would want to dump them is not clear.

The one thing that is clear for Chuckles is that he cannot wing it in the election campaign in the same was as Doug Ford did in Ontario last year. While there is some disquiet about Trudeau and the liberals, there are not enough people mad at them to affect a change of government. For every pissed off liberal who thinks supporting Chuckles is the answer, two more new democrats will switch from Jagmeet Singh to Justin Trudeau. The pollsters can speculate as much as they like, but when push comes to shove in October, Trudeau will still be prime minister.

And even if it is a minority, do you really think a corporal’s guard of new democrats or greens would be crazy enough to support Chuckles?

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Trudeau trashes his flight of fancy.

Tuesday, March 26th, 2019

It was nine years ago that I met Justin Trudeau. Working through liberal party friends in Ottawa, I had invited him to a party fund-raising dinner in Barrie. While we raised enough to get the party out of debt in Barrie, the conversation I had at the time with Justin was disquieting. This is a man who can easily turn himself on and off.

And he does not appear to be a guy who likes heavy thinking. He prefers the route of the selfies and the simple keywords. He had a well-practiced warm and fuzzy stock liberal-sounding speech that evening in Barrie. It lacked a single memorable word. It also caused me to miss some of the bad habits he now shows in his extemporaneous speaking.

It seems most pundits agree now that Justin is more like his mother than his father. If he could just live with some wiser advisors in the PMO, he would sail through. His buddy Gerry Butts was too much like him and that was a deadly combination. They created a mutual admiration society that got them nowhere.

There is no question that the PMO needs a couple people over 50 and, preferably, with some experience in crisis management. It is really too bad that Trudeau had so little experience in the House of Commons before he became prime minister. The opposition will eventually stop bringing up a subject if you get everyone laughing at it.

Trudeau needs to turn on his ‘man with a mission’ persona for the coming election and he can hardly do that if the SNC-Lavalin mess keeps sucking the oxygen out of the political air. He needs to get together with the liberals from the justice committee and ask them nicely to stop blocking things at that level. And do not send a flunky to tell them or you can count on it not coming out right.

In a few months, Justin needs to be on the barbeque circuit talking about Canada’s future and not boring subjects like Quebec engineering firms. He needs to define the dialogue, and ignore the opposition.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

The pundit’s putsch.

Monday, March 25th, 2019

It is fun to forecast chaos in these frightful times but we have to compete with some very convincing pundits of the news media. Just the other day Chantal Hébert of the CBC and Toronto Star tells us that Jody Wilson-Raybould MP and Jane Philpott MP are planning a putsch against Justin Trudeau. Other pundits are quickly on her heels, almost down to telling us the colour of the dress each woman will wear to the prime minister’s cashiering ceremony.

It is not that I think it is such a bad idea but neither of these women has the experience with liberals across Canada to pull this off. They need help. And not the kind of help pundit Susan Delacourt of the Toronto Star reported on the CBC the other day. Susan said there were card-carrying liberals ready to take up arms for the two women. The only problem is that Justin canceled all our liberal party cards three years ago at the Winnipeg meeting of the party.

It was always assumed on my part that liberal party membership card, number 1054910, was dishonourably discharged from the liberal lists when I, in turn, canceled my monthly five-dollar donation to the party. I figured if they did not want me as a member, I no longer had an obligation to help keep the party solvent.

The point is, I really am a liberal. And in my humble opinion, Justin Trudeau is not a liberal. Not only that but I think he is more like his mother than his father. He still has to prove that he is anything other than an elitist, who plays at being liberal.

I will give Jody Wilson Raybould and Jane Philpott the benefit of the doubt but I have been waiting for a chance to ask both women why they screwed up the legislation for doctor-assisted suicide. That piece of legislation embarrassed real liberals across the country. They both have a lot to explain.

Neither of the former cabinet members has demonstrated much in the way of political smarts. When sitting in those lofty seats of parliament, you really need to remember one thing: It is not all about you!

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

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