Archive for the ‘Provincial Politics’ Category

There’s a great job opening here.

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2017

This is not your standard help wanted situation. Into every life there is an opportunity that comes knocking. This is an opportunity beyond your wildest dreams. It is fame and fortune. There are no limits. You just have to seize the opportunity. It is not for the faint of heart.

To start with, you had better like people. That will be a unique experience here. Male or female hardly matters. Likeability is key. Life experience or education matter. You better like hard work. And the harder you work, others will work harder to help you.

This is a political job. There are many good people in politics today but we need more. If you are old enough to vote and young enough to want to build a better future for all, we need you. You have to be a leader among people and a team player with the Liberal Party.

Did we mention Liberal? Nobody goes to Queen’s Park to get things done if they are not connected with a political party. This could be your party. And it needs leadership. It needs a progressive hand at the wheel. There will be an opening in leadership coming soon.

And that leadership needs someone with a clear vision of what Ontario should be. It needs someone who can attract young people and show them that politics can deal in the possible, be the peoples’ problem solver and lead.

Think of the recent events in the Montreal mayoralty race. Valérie Plante was a first term councillor. Few were complaining about the business as usual attitude of incumbent Denis Coderre. Plante won because she excited the Montreal voters.

We want the same type of excitement in Ontario electoral district of Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte.

The last Liberal to run in that riding lost by just 86 votes. (Federal vote recount, 2015.) In June 2018, the Conservative candidate will be Patrick Brown. The difference will be that these people know Patrick Brown. They know he did nothing in Ottawa. They expect nothing from him in Queen’s Park. They think they are supposed to vote for him because he is the party leader. They would really like to have someone more interesting.

Are you that person? You can apply to the Ontario Liberal Party at 10 St. Mary Street in Toronto, if you wish. I can also supply names of key Liberals in the riding, if that is what you want. What I can promise you is this: Brown can be beaten.

-30-

Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Watt’s ugly leopard doesn’t wash.

Sunday, November 19th, 2017

We might be mangling some metaphors here but Jaime Watt can never wash the spots off that ugly leopard. The head of Navigator Ltd., Mr. Watt has spent many years advising Conservatives in the fine art of winning votes. He might be taking on too much of a challenge to try to sell us on Ontario Conservative Leader Patrick Brown.

Watt tells us in a recent op-ed in the Toronto Star that he believes that the Ontario Liberals have been the government in Ontario for the past 14 years because they are keen political operators and they connected with Ontarians. I think he jests!

The truth is that after the experience of being pissed on by Conservative Premier Mike Harris, the Tories have taken a long time making any comeback with Ontario voters. They had even endured three terms of ‘Premier Dad’ McGuinty and then seemed prepared to replace his replacement with a Conservative.

It almost happened but someone advised then Conservative Leader Timmy Hudak that he should promise to fire a hundred thousand Ontario civil servants. He did not understand that he was threatening the jobs and family stability of more than a million Ontario voters.

Coincidentally, Timmy made that promise to an audience at the Barrie Country Club. Patrick Brown (then a backbencher in Stephen Harper’s government) was the first person to jump up and congratulate Timmy on his brilliant idea. He probably realized then that Timmy would be vacating the leadership job soon.

And contrary to Jaime Watt’s view, Brown’s taking the leadership of the Ontario Conservatives was no accident. It was a carefully planned and executed con job. And in taking the leadership by less than fair means, Brown has turned loose all that is mean, unscrupulous and disgusting about Conservative activists in Ontario. Lawsuits and even a charge of fraud are being made over how people have been trying to win nominations.

Watt wisely concludes that the Liberal brand is struggling these days and that Brown is there to take advantage of it. Watt says this is why Brown is trying to shed all his former extremist positions that could offend voters.

Watt seems to think it is mean to suggest that Brown acts as a weather vane on policies and yet uses Trump’s strategies of vilifying his opponent.

Frankly, Mr. Watt’s reasoning does not appear to be a particularly good sample of Navigator Ltd.’s strategic thinking.

-30-

Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

The late lamented Liberals.

Saturday, November 18th, 2017

When discussing the sorry state of the Liberal Party of Canada the other day, we never did mention the provincial Liberals. It is actually an interesting subject. Would you believe I am old enough to have met the last surviving Father of Confederation?

Okay, that is a joke, but Joey Smallwood loved that introduction. My favourite Newfie was always the late Don Jamieson. He might have resisted Newfoundland and Labrador coming into Confederation but once there, he did an outstanding job in Pierre Trudeau’s cabinets and finally as High Commissioner to London.

The four Atlantic Provinces are the core of progressive liberalism in Canada. They just need more leaders such as Don Jamieson, Alex Campbell, Bob Winters and Louis Robichaud to bring that progressivism further west.

The Rouge of Quebec are not the progressives Quebec voters keep expecting. The Quebec Liberals are a closed-shop, top-down oligarchy who are oddly out of step with the left of centre voters who have few alternatives. It is a situation very much in need of democratization.

And the same applies to Ontario. I could name names here but I would not want some of those people to know how powerful they really are. Toronto’s Bay Street lawyers wield a heavy stick over Queen’s Park. At least Dalton McGuinty knew when to quit. Premier Kathleen Wynne does not have the political smarts or sensitivity. She should have resigned over the summer. Her only saviours are the hopeless leadership of the opponents.

At one time the core of progressive liberalism in Canada, Toronto Liberals have been frustrated, put down and bypassed. They have been fed baby spoon-sized portions of reform over long periods. Freeing up liquor distribution, pension improvement and minimum wage boosts are just samples of the achingly slow steps in reform. Instead of real action, you get lullabies.

I think there is a Liberal Party in Manitoba, I have just never seen it in action.

There is no Liberal Party in Saskatchewan. They joined the Conservatives in the Saskatchewan Party and everyone lived happily?

I have more respect for the Alberta Liberals. They do exist and they have made their presence felt.

We know about the B.C. Liberals but they are not the most progressive people we have ever met. That last bunch of Liberals in the legislature had us wondering how far to the right liberalism could go?

Summing it up, we can only say that liberalism has fallen on hard times. It needs a healthy infusion of young people, new ideas and energy. The winners can be the people.

-30-

Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Diminished democracy of Canada’s Conservatives.

Monday, November 13th, 2017

In looking at the major political parties in Canada in their headlong dash for irrelevancy, we might as well start with the Conservatives. Since the end of the 90s and the machinations of Stephen Harper to finally achieve the promise to ‘unite the right’ across Canada, the separated federal and provincial conservative parties have been struggling.

Harper was very much a top-down leader. His new Conservative Party of Canada was dominated by the Reform-Alliance members that swamped the older progressive conservative base across the country. The party became his piggy bank and his mob. He used the federal party when needed for appearances and forgot about it most of the time.

During the Harper years in Ottawa, the provincial Conservative parties became something of a ghost in the Atlantic. Everyone assumes they exist but sightings are rare. The Quebec Liberals are more Conservative than Liberal as is the Saskatchewan Party that represents the right-wing Tories and right-wing Liberals of that province. Jason Kenney’s reverse take-over of the Alberta right wing with his new United Party was a classic in manipulation and he is now mounting a relentless attack on the NDP government from outside the legislature. The Conservatives are the government in Manitoba and the NDP has a very thin hold on things in B.C.

The malaise in Ontario is symptomatic. After the careless spree of the Mike Harris Conservative government at the turn of the century, the party there fell on hard times. With Membership below 20,000 in Canada’s largest province, the party was easy pickings for an opportunist who had worked out a scheme to sign up about 40,000 new immigrants from the Asian sub-continent. Nobody called Patrick brown for paying most of the registration fees and he took the reins of a party that used to have some principles.

For someone with the ability to lead akin to that of a gerbil, Brown has used vicious attack ads on the Internet and TV in a helter-skelter manner to try to defame the Premier and create a “Corrupt Hillary” aura around her. The only researched result of the ads so far is to lower both him and the Premier in the estimation of Ontario voters.

To add insult in Ontario, the erratic governance of Conservative candidate nominations for next year’s election has created questionable results, angered riding executives and led to lawsuits

The farce continues with the upcoming policy convention of the Ontario Conservatives later in November. As Brown has no idea of where to lead the party, he is using this convention to provide some carefully directed policy stands that he thinks the voters will respond to in the June vote. The response at this convention by the older, more progressive, Conservatives from the Bill Davis era to this sham of a conference will tell us much.

-30-

Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

The despotism of First-Past-the-Post?

Sunday, November 12th, 2017

One of our favourite political bloggers wrote a desperate ‘cri de Coeur’ the other day against what he perceives as the despotism of first-past-the-post (FPTP) voting. He lives on Canada’s Left Coast and writes under the pseudonym ‘The Mound of Sound.’ Rather than simply refuting his assertions, I think it is important to find the source of his anguish.

To begin, there is his suggestion that 40 per cent support in FPTP voting can make any leader a despot. (Even Donald Trump needed the undemocratic Electoral College system to win the U.S. presidency.) We Canadians had a special House committee on electoral reform brought forward by the Trudeau Liberals. It was made up from all parties and spent a summer listening to submissions and writing a report on alternatives to FPTP voting. You know their conclusion. No change was made.

FPTP is not evil. It has worked for the people for hundreds of years. And if you want a real headache, check out how the Roman Republic elected its tribunes. One of the reasons to appreciate FPTP is that it is one of the most difficult systems of voting to cheat.

Maybe it is the simplicity of FPTP that turns off some intellectuals. If it is that simple, it has got to be wrong?

If your objection to FPTP is based on the ability of someone to win with less than 50.1 per cent of the vote—then fight for run-off elections. That is still much simpler and more democratic than other suggestions. You should not be enticed by preferential voting—it is not the same.

But before you demand change in how we vote, do you not think we should widen our outlook? Should we not take a look at the basics of our democracy—our political parties? Is it right for the Sikh community in Canada to swamp the membership of the federal New Democrats on behalf of that party’s new leader? Was that misogynistic and corrupted campaign in Alberta the way to choose a new Conservative leader for Alberta? Was it right for Brown in Ontario to buy the memberships for tens of thousands of immigrants to be the choice of Ontario Conservatives?

And does it surprise you to learn that the federal Conservatives and Liberals are funded from the same purses? What makes you think either party is run in a democratic fashion?

Before we have a liberal democracy in Canada we need liberal democratic parties. We have much work to do.

-30-

Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

The Koi Keepers of Quebec.

Saturday, November 11th, 2017

Reading Chantal Hébert’s national affairs column recently, she referred to the tectonic plates of Quebec politics. I was unsure of the analogy. I tend to think of Quebec politics as a series of koi ponds. These ponds are not necessarily linked. The lesser regional ponds revolve around the axis of Quebec’s National Assembly in Quebec City and at City Hall in Montreal.

It is important to remember that koi tend to be colorful and interesting in their carefully tended and protected ponds. Outside their well tended environment, these fish are just bottom-feeding carp.

(And you do not feed koi by carelessly dumping their food in the pond. By careful scattering of the food, you get to see the beauty and enjoy the movement of all the koi. Obviously at the recent fish-feeding frenzy at Tokyo’s Akasaka Palace, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump had bigger fish to fry.)

While properly tended koi can live up to 200 years, Quebec political koi often become koi sushi after only a single term in office. Quebec voters tend to live by a “Fool me once…” rule. What the pundits puzzle over about Quebecer’s voting confusion is basically an impatience with fools. Good leadership is rare and even the best leaders can outlive their usefulness.

Like their distant cousins in France, Quebecers have a political creativity. If you are dissatisfied with the political party choices available on the ballot today, just wait until you see tomorrow’s offerings.

It is this creativity that solved the problems in running Montreal many years ago. This was when people such as Montreal’s famous Jean Drapeau put Montreal on the map with Expo 67. It sometimes seems that Drapeau was the last Montreal mayor to get anything done but that is not the case. The job gets done in Montreal because mayoral candidates bring a party with him or her to be elected on a unified platform of promises.

While Mayor Denis Coderre and his team seemed the best bet four years ago, he must have run out of gas this time around.

It will be interesting to see who will hold the provincial mantle next year after the Quebec National Assembly faces the voters. Will the movement be to a slight shift of the tectonic plates of Premier Philippe Couillard’s Liberals or to the flashy, flitting koi of the opposition parties?

-30-

Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

The withering world of Premier Wynne.

Tuesday, November 7th, 2017

Most successful politicians feed on their egos. It is what carries them through the tough times, the questionable times and eases their doubts and concerns. It also blinds then to the disasters of their own creation. For Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, it is her ego that prevents her from realizing that she is head of a less and less viable political party. Little is left of the Provincial Liberal Party structure she took over from former premier Dalton McGuinty.

And the dry rot of the Ontario party that is so evidenced in constituencies across the province has finally been discovered in the heart of Toronto. It took a wake-up and a shake of his head for former deputy premier in the McGuinty government, George Smitherman, to find that his once vibrant party organization in Toronto Centre is now moribund.

Not that it matters for George! When some of his supporters suggested him as a provincial candidate again in his Toronto-Centre constituency, they were told that he is unacceptable as a candidate. It seems no has-beens need apply.

The reason, we hear, is that the riding, which is centred in Toronto’s gay community, is being offered by the premier to Toronto councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam. A publicly declared lesbian, Wong-Tam is better known as a New Democratic Party supporter and she most often votes with the downtown NDP councillors. It is hard to imagine Wong-Tam running for the same political party as the right-wing Liberal councillor Shelley Carroll. Carroll has been appointed as Liberal candidate for Don Valley North in North York.

You will note that the Liberals seem to appoint their candidates in most ridings today as the Liberal party continues to deteriorate under Wynne’s leadership. In Barrie, we have the embarrassment of the provincial party not even seeming to have a constituency association to support a candidate in the Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte electoral district. Maybe some sacrificial lamb will be chosen closer to the election to put up a few signs and serve as the Liberal candidate.

The fact that it is the electoral district chosen by Conservative leader Patrick Brown makes it seem doubly foolish. Many Barrie residents are in a mood with Brown to reject him as a candidate and the Liberal Party, if it were run properly, would accept the challenge of encouraging the best possible candidates to contest an open nomination. Patrick Brown can be beaten.

-30-

Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

The anti-women legacy of Patrick Brown.

Friday, November 3rd, 2017

Patrick Brown was first elected to the ultra-Conservative Barrie, Ontario city council at age 22. As a Barrie councillor, he fit right in. It took him another four years to win election in the local federal electoral district and be part of the back-bench yes-men for Prime Minister Stephen Harper. It was in Ottawa, that he showed his true social conservative colors and voted against women’s rights and same sex marriage. His legacy in Barrie is that of a repressive environment that makes Barrie one of the worst cities in Canada for women.

A recent assessment by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives places Barrie as number 23 of a list of 25 Canadian cities in their addressing women’s needs. The study measures local concerns such as economic security, health care, community leadership, educational opportunities and security within the community. Barrie is a sorry case.

While you can hardly blame it all on Patrick Brown, his lack of interest in women’s issues, his social conservative upbringing and the apparent dislike of him on the part of single women tend to mark him as part of the problem, instead of a solution.

The basic conservatism of city council does not help either. It hardly matters if the mayor wants to show leadership or not. The mayor alone cannot fight recalcitrant attitudes among city staff nor continually pit his or her one vote against the rest of council. Leadership takes a lot more political smarts than we have seen in the last three mayors of this poor benighted town.

One of the efforts in which Patrick Brown thinks he can claim Brownie points is the serious problems the city has had in providing doctors for a rapidly growing population. His solution was to allow doctors to cherry pick their ideal patient list and if those selections did not include the aged or chronically ill, that was tough on those people—the last ones who should be left to walk-in clinics.

Where Barrie has suffered the most is that nobody is taking a serious look at the type of businesses the city is attracting. Call centres and retail work do not contribute many high paying jobs. The council think that financial companies’ computerized back rooms are a big deal but they contribute only about one well-paying job per 100 square metres of space for the computers. Well-paying jobs for women take considerations such as day-care opportunities and after-school activities. These are not concerns, politicians such as Patrick Brown worries over.

-30-

Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Excessives beat Progressives in Alberta.

Monday, October 30th, 2017

Friends in Alberta have been asking why this commentary had nothing to say about the race to run that province’s United Conservative Party? It was not because we did not have an opinion. It was sleazy, it was corrupt, it was predictable and we wanted no part of it.

I never thought in this lifetime that I would have any sympathy for Brian Jean, the former head of the Wildrose Party. I used to have a cat with more political smarts than Jean. The cat always knew which stranger’s lap to climb up on. Jean blew it. He let himself be had.

Not that Jean and his Wildrose yahoos ever concerned us. It is the old Conservative Party of Alberta that will be missed. Those people might have been misled in some instances but their hearts were in the right place. They might have engaged in some unseemly rhetoric over the years but they are decent people and they are concerned Canadians. And they seem to have no idea what they are now in for.

I am too far away to comment on the people behind Jason Kenney but if he gives you the creeps, his backers will likely scare hell out of you.

When I first saw Jason Kenney in Ottawa and learned about his background, I had serious misgivings about him. When I saw what he was doing in some of the ethnic communities, it was a level of hypocrisy that I had never seen from a Conservative operative before.

This is the guy who showed his friend Patrick Brown from Ontario how to line up tens of thousands of immigrants from India to steal the leadership of Ontario Conservative Party. He and Brown are fellow rabid social conservatives. They are used to lying about it. They will be what you want them to be in exchange for your vote.

Originally, I paired Jason Kenney with Ottawa M.P. John Baird who worked closely with Kenney in the Harper cabinet. I called the two fat and forty-something bachelors the Bobbsey Twins.

But seeing how nasty Kenney and his sycophants were back in Alberta with women in his own party made me wonder if Albertans were missing something. Kenney has a lot to learn about being a gentleman and it strikes me that Premier Rachel Notley might just give him some lessons in the coming months.

-30-

Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Bad bodings for Brown.

Thursday, October 26th, 2017

A large piece of the Ontario provincial Conservative’s election campaign went bye-bye the other day. Brown and his buddies must have been sitting around the party headquarters war room contemplating what might have been. The directed verdict of a Sudbury, Ontario judge cut the campaign off at the knees. The campaign using Donald Trump’s “Corrupt Hillary” theme would not work.

The problem for Brown and buddies is that any claim of corruption had to have a believability factor. You not only needed people who dislike the premier anyway but you needed that “maybe” factor. Without that maybe factor, the voters would know you were blowing smoke.

Consider how unlikely it would have been for Trump to win that election in the United States if there was not a question mark in many voters’ minds that maybe Hillary Clinton really was corrupt. And then, it was the credibility given the claim, in the last few days of the election, by the former Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, that threw the election. Finding out that the information was wrong after the election does not get your vote back.

Donald Trump had the money and the cunning and the lack of scruples and the luck to create the perfect storm. He also had a woman as an opponent who expected him to try to act like a politician and make mistakes. Trump was a political mistake from the get-go. His money made his campaign possible and his naiveté worked for him.

Brown’s problem is that his life is politics. He seems to have no problem doing what is mean, vicious and uncaring but his reflexes are directional and predictably political. He is unlikely to survive a debate with Kathleen Wynne. He does not operate on that plateau. It could be good television if it happens.

Brown’s buddies will have to find a stronger way to link Kathleen Wynne with corruption. We have seen in the test commercials that they are taking a reading on the idea of some mysterious “friends of Kathleen” being the benefactors of corruption but that is unlikely to catch on. The older gas plant kafuffle cannot do the job alone as the premier was never directly involved.

It would be nice to say that we are sorry that Patrick Brown is having these problems: But we are not.

-30-

Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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