Posts Tagged ‘Conservative’

Jason Kenney’s Quest.

Saturday, March 23rd, 2019

There is something about being the big dog in a small kennel. It brings the walls to you and it feels all warm and snuggly. It must be what Jason Kenney thought of when he saw that the years of posing as heir apparent to former prime minister Stephen Harper held hollow promise. Jason Kenny is a person of large ambition and his quest is not to be denied.

But what turns the crank for a pudgy, misogynistic bachelor politician? It’s the power trip. Since he fought against co-eds at his Catholic college in San Francisco being allowed access to birth control information, Kenney’s quest has been for power.

It was this quest that sent Kenney back home to Calgary after the conservatives lost to the Justin Trudeau liberals. He told his supporters he was there to unite the right-wing conservatives and Wildrose parties. And he did it with little concern for any Marquis of Queensbury rules.

Kenney is on the extreme right of the social conservative spectrum. His first hero was Stockwell Day of the Canadian Alliance. Yet he was politically astute enough to recognize that the conservatives were well behind the liberals who were already taking the support of Canada’s ethnic groups for granted. When Stephen Harper came out on top as leader of the combined Canadian conservatives, he saw the work Kenney was doing in the ethnic communities and bought into what he was doing. It was a winner.

This apparatchik choked the first time I saw one of Kenney’s carefully constructed ethnic walls of people behind candidate Stephen Harper. I called it pandering at the time, even if I had to admit that it worked. Harper’s conservatives did not always win majorities but they won three federal elections in a row.

But like anything that works in politics, it ends up being overdone. Even today, Kenney gives the small percentage of ethnic communities in Alberta a little extra attention. He knows that all votes matter.

But if I were a betting person, I would check out the odds being offered by the Alberta bookies and maybe risk a looney or two on Rachel Notley and her team.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Ford Forestalls Hillier’s Hussars.

Thursday, March 21st, 2019

It might not be up to the standards of Alfred Lord Tennyson’s Charge of the Light Brigade but somebody should have warned Ontario premier Doug Ford before he got into a squabble with the caucus bad boy of the Ontario Tories. Oh well, Ford is due for a drubbing anyway.

Ford and his lackies have no idea of what kind of a fight they are in for when they get Randy Hellier pissed. Randy is to the extreme of the right wing of the Tory caucus at Queen’s Park. Hell, this is the guy who launched the Ontario Landowners. And any MPP from Queen’s Park who does not know the Landowners, had better not turn their back when those people start tearing down Ontario’s wind turbines. And they think Randy is irrational?

Ford’s problem with Hillier is that most of the people who know them both are betting on Randy. Compared to Ford, the Eastern Ontario MPP from Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston is a staunch conservative. The premier is just a conservative when it benefits him. He is a populist who colours way outside the party line.

And Randy does not like it that he and the rest of the back-bench sheep are supposed to stand and applaud every time Ford or one of his cabinet ministers makes a statement in the House. Why would you applaud someone who just proved they can read simple and probably less than truthful words?

Ford is also furious with Randy for telling people that his friends and advisers are lobbying illegally. This has caused the hopeless NDP caucus to ask for the Ontario Provincial Police to investigate.

It is also likely, but unproven, that Hillier was turfed from caucus for not showing the right attitude in caucus meetings. It seems that the time-honoured tradition of MPPs telling their leader what constituents’ really think of the government’s efforts is not welcomed by Mr. Ford.

But for all of Randy’s failings, nobody should have accused him of saying ‘Yada, yada, yada,’ to parents of Autistic children. He is something of a trouble maker but he is not unfeeling. With the way the NDP do go on about their concerns, he would be much more likely to say it to their members.

I always liked Pierre Trudeau’s solution to some of the trouble makers in caucus. He would put them in cabinet.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Nothing New about a Stalking Horse.

Tuesday, March 19th, 2019

Oh, to be in Alberta when the politicos are running! Have you heard the latest about that sleaze Jason Kenney of the united conservatives? With premier Rachel Notley about to pull the plug on the provincial election, UCP leader Kenney has got his jeans in a twist. It seems people can actually document how he made sure of beating Brian Jean for the provincial party leadership.

Not, I hasten point out, that there is anything illegal about using a stalking horse campaign. It is just desperation in a tough fight.

But if another candidate pays for the stalking horse campaign, in whole or in part, there is reason to look at the financing to determine if there was a fraud perpetrated. Mind you, I also think it is a fraud to have one politico pay off another with a plum cabinet position.

A good example of that was the sleazy way former premier Kathleen Wynne won the Ontario liberal leadership in January 2013. By quitting the race to support Wynne, two weeks before the convention, stalking horse, Glen Murray, blocked a realignment of liberals being elected delegates. By forcing his supporters into the independent category, Murray blocked many of the truly independent liberals from getting elected. That sewed it up for Wynne.

A stalking horse can be a very effective strategy in campaigns but the more people who know about it, the less chance it has of working. No doubt Jason Kenney forgot that part when he used the tactic against former Wildrose leader Brian Jean. Kenny’s problem seems to have been that he had too many balls in the air at a time. His misogynistic attitude with women was causing him constant trouble throughout his leadership effort and made it difficult to control some of his supporters who were just following his lead.

The 2019 provincial election in Alberta is not necessarily a foregone conclusion. Premier Rachel Notley is not the same person as won Alberta against a split conservative vote in 2015.

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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

The storms on the Yellow Brick Road.

Sunday, March 10th, 2019

As we battle our way to the Land of OZ and the looming federal election, what we are hearing across the land is becoming more and more concerning. When normally respectful and erudite people vent with expletives, they are angry. When the prime minister of our country calls a public news conference and offers bafflegab instead of contrition, you know he is out of touch.

We have not heard the last of the Jody Wilson-Raybould affair. A woman scorned, she has friends. Some of the answers are simmering in the liberal caucus in Ottawa. Why did Jane Philpott step out? The liberals are not listening to the call to arms. And why should they?

But where does that leave us? Did we ignore the lesson learned last year in Ontario? Can we Ontario voters so easily afford the cost of the incompetence of the conservatives under Doug Ford?

Could the country afford the incompetence of a Harper-lite conservative such as ‘Chuckles’ Scheer? This guy cannot even tell the difference between a pratfall by the government and a criminal act. Why should he be calling for an RCMP investigation of confusion in the federal cabinet? The RCMP does not oversee the cabinet.

All Scheer seems to be is a spokesman for the Alberta and Saskatchewan conservatives. He offers nothing other than Harper-redux. He just is not as wily. Scheer has little to offer Canadian voters.

And then you have the new democrats. Here you have a party with no policies, no program and no real leadership. It is a party that is failing to live up to its billing.

But there is hope boys and girls: There are new parties on the horizon. I think that Elizabeth May is one tough leader. Her only problem is she has no party behind her and no reason for you to vote for them. The liberals and the NDP will tell you that they care about the environment. Some of us really do.

And to Chuckles’ consternation, there is the People’s Party of Canada that is going to try to take right-wing votes from the tired Tories in October. Party leader MP Maxime Bernier is out to show those conservatives that they really should have picked him as leader at their last leadership contest.

One thing that I discovered many years ago is that you cannot change any political party by carping at it from the outside. The changes must be made from within. It is why I have been a liberal for many years. I just wish there was more help available to bring the liberal party back to a position of respect.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Reefer Madness in Ontario?

Saturday, March 9th, 2019

It is too bad premier Doug Ford’s younger brother died. The late Rob Ford might have been a wealth of information about the marketing of street drugs. As it is, it will take years to straighten out the mess the Ontario conservatives are making of legal retailing of cannabis.

But then, almost any street person in Ontario can easily explain the problems. It is the same as any successful retailer knows. It all comes down to location, location and location. In any city, the most important locations (other than around high schools) are where you find the highest traffic from local universities and colleges.

For example, there are three shops in the planning for London. The best guess is that the lucky retailer midway between Fanshawe College and the University of Western Ontario will get more than 60 per cent of the business in the city.

What boggles the mind though is that Toronto—with seven times the population of London—will also have just three legal outlets besides the Ontario on-line store.

This mess is a combination of the conservative’s political interference in the earlier planning for government-only stores, the lottery system for selecting privatized outlets and the rules and regulations set up by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO).

But now we learn that this great system for Ontario cannot get enough product to supply the few stores they will have by this summer. You can be assured though that the private, unlicensed and less controlled market will be making plenty of product available while the government- controlled retailers struggle with unreasonable government regulation and constraints on production.

And the entrepreneurial, less-publicized, private market should give daily thanks to the politicians who legalized marijuana in Canada and are building a market for them. While the legal stores are setting a lower retail price point, the ‘free’ market can make far more money on the increased volumes.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

How great is it going to be?

Sunday, March 3rd, 2019

Do you really want to trust a politician who insists on telling you how great it is going to be? When the Ontario government announced its health care reforms this week, everyone was left wondering just how they were going to accomplish these great results. That was all we got, no details, just the objective.

Ontario was promised a new super agency called Ontario Health and other than the superlatives, that is about what there is to know about it. Many years ago, we had a super agency and it was called the Ontario Ministry of Health. It was also a super agency. It found though that it needed to keep creating other agencies to do the things that the ministry did not have the people, nor the expertise to do. It even created what were called Local Health Integration Networks (LHIN) to make the service more assessible. Now the LHINs are being absorbed into the super agency—probably because they spend too much.

Frankly, the Ontario government might have been smarter if it had delayed the announcement until it knew better what it was doing. I expect there would be a long wait for that.

What is particularly disappointing in all of this B.S. being washed through the corridors of Queen’s Park is the role of super MPP Christine Elliott. As minister of health, hers is not an enviable position. She has been handed her talking points about this new super agency and come hell or high water, she is going to read them through.

Every time reporters ask her about some problem in health care, she goes into a lengthy discussion of how bad the situation is now and the promise that the Tories are going to fix it. She has absolutely no idea how it will be fixed but, according to Ms. Elliott, you can be sure that the Tories will fix it.

And at the same time, the Tories are going to save money. Everything will be paid for with money saved by the wily Tories.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

When compromise is the problem.

Saturday, February 23rd, 2019

Nobody should celebrate too soon about the compromise solution to paying Ontario’s doctors. After more than four years of arguments, back-stabbing and threats, nobody is particularly happy. The three-member arbitration board did not have to find the money, so they could be generous. And they were. The doctors got what they wanted and they can go back to fighting among themselves for the spoils.

But why does it feel like there is still another shoe to drop?

Oh yah, I really do not think that Dougie and the gang at Queen’s Park are going to take this solution lying down. They are hardly about to bleed another few billions into the doctors’ pockets. Do the math for yourself. There are some 23,000 doctors in Ontario set to making a rather generous $12 billion plus per year—requiring almost a quarter of our health care costs.

And you were wondering why Dougie and the gang were putting the screws to families with autistic children? These purported politicians who told you that they were going to save the taxpayers money have been bleeding money since getting into office after that rout of the liberals. Dougie puts the president of partially-public Hydro One on a strict diet and yet pays his friends more than they ask for. And the government is now faced with open-ended payment for the doctors.

We will probably hear from the health minister soon that a new bill is coming to put a cap on doctors’ earnings. That could start another round of arguments with the doctors. And to complicate the situation further, it could cause more rifts between the specialists and the general practitioners. It would almost be a blessing to see the Ontario Medical Association become something of an amoeba and start splitting into multiple versions of itself.

And the politicians thought just one OMA was a problem?

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Potholes on the Yellow Brick Road.

Wednesday, February 20th, 2019

It’s the time of year in Canada. The roller-coaster of ice and snow, melting and freezing, leaves even a yellow brick road a minefield of broken and missing bricks. Dorothy and Toto and their three friends have to watch where they step.

With the Cowardly Lion (Justin Trudeau) more familiar with riding on elephants in costume, being transported in the helicopters of rich family friends and the convenience of government jets, he seems more prone to falling into the larger potholes. One of the first to be tripped up, he has fallen into one that could require Quebec’s giant engineering firm of SNC-Lavalin to repair.

It really makes us all wonder at the seeming inability of the prime minister and his wunderkinds of the PMO to handle this current tempest with his former justice minister and, more recently, former veterans’ minister. To stretch the problem this long and to keep feeding us piecemeal snippets of information about the debacle does not seem appropriate to 2019.

The good news/bad news yesterday was the resignation of the prime minister’s principal secretary Gerald Butts. He and the prime minister think alike. They both lack some basic political instincts. Neither understood that the win in 2015 was not theirs. It was a gift from an used up Stephen Harper. Measure Butts’ replacement by his or her political smarts. That is what is needed.

But where is the Scarecrow (Jagmeet Singh)? The poor chap is in the midst of a life and death struggle to take a seat in the House of Commons. He is far from his home grounds of Brampton and at a complete loss to tell you how he is doing. The liberals might as well give him the bum’s rush because the NDP caucus in Ottawa will demand his resignation as leader if he loses in Burnaby South. Oh well, February 25 will tell the tale.

But it is the Tin Woodman (Andrew ‘Chuckles’ Scheer) who is the enigma, who can benefit the most from the confusion of the others. He is but a buffer for the parochial concerns of his friends, Doug Ford in Ontario and Jason Kenney in Alberta. Provided, of course, Jason can defeat ‘Rachel Notley’s party’ in the spring elections in Alberta.

What we are sensing in these early stages is anger and annoyance with all political parties. The Cowardly Lion needs more than to be brave. He needs to learn to be a leader. The Tin Woodman needs more than a heart. He needs to learn to connect with people and offer positive directions.  And the Scarecrow needs more than brains. He needs to realize that his politics have to stand apart from his religion.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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