Posts Tagged ‘Conservative’

The piecemeal processes of Premier Wynne.

Sunday, April 30th, 2017

“Ladies and gentlemen and children of all ages: Let me draw your attention to the left ring of our three-ring circus. Here for your entertainment and edification is our finance minister who has just passed the miracle of a balanced budget. Charles Sousa will now amaze you further by proposing a new pharmacare program to swamp the proposal of the NDP.”

And he did. In his geared-for-election budget, the Ontario finance minister proposed a piecemeal pharmacare program for Ontario residents under the age of 25. It is the same drug benefit program that applies to seniors and people receiving provincial support. The difference from what the New Democrats proposed is that it applies to the gamut of 4400 listed drugs as opposed to the more restrictive list of the most commonly used 125 prescription drugs as proposed by the NDP.

All it does though is remind Ontario voters of the penchant of the Liberal government for doing things piecemeal. When their banker advised them to sell off the electricity distribution system in Ontario, they broke it into small lots and started selling off a bit at a time. It helped remind Ontario voters each time that they will end up contributing to the profits for those buyers.

It was the same when the province’s banker advised them to sell wine and beer in grocery stores. They thought that was such a great idea that they announced it several times, added hard ciders for another couple media events and spaced the selection of stores over a couple years so that they could have lots more media events. And in the meantime, nobody knows which grocer is selling beer and which is not.

It is as though the Wynne Liberals have decided that if anything is worth doing, it can best be done many times. That will leave the final stage of having pharmacare for those between 25 and 64—that we should have had since the beginning of Medicare in Canada.

Since Ontario has 40 per cent of Canada’s population, the federal government will get into the act at some stage and make it universal in Canada.

Mind you, that genius Ontario PC Leader Patrick Brown complained about this program needing a means test. It will be interesting to see how he will apply a means test to children. He should hardly be concerned about the parents paying for them. They will anyway in their taxes but it will be much less because of the buying power of the government and the fact we will have healthier kids, more likely taking their prescribed medicines.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

In the politics of vitriol.

Saturday, April 22nd, 2017

The emerging right-wing politics of Europe is spreading like a disease. First we had the self destructive BREXIT from the United Kingdom and now the threatening right in key countries such as France and Germany and even a smaller and usually cooperative Netherlands. Europe still has a way to go though to match the craziness of the current American experience.

And it is crazy. The strongest country in the world has self-destructively put an incompetent in command. And you would think that President Trump’s staunchest enemies would be from the left. They are not. The major block facing off with Trump are a few dozen Tea-Party Republicans in the House of Representatives. They call themselves the House Freedom Caucus.

These men are straight from the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. They actually stopped the cancellation of Obamacare because they did not think the bill was destructive enough. They are challenging Donald Trump’s ownership of America’s right wing crazies.

The real concern though is that as Commander in Chief, Trump has found that he can play with live soldiers and real weapons. If Congress will not let him build his wall on the Rio Grande, he can still trade insults with a lunatic despot on the other side of the Pacific who wants a war. They each brag about the size of their rockets.

You would think that Trump would be smart to play nice with his neighbours when he is new to his job. Instead he insults the Mexicans and patronizes the Canadians. If he thinks he can divide and conquer, he is definitely going about it the wrong way.

In the meantime, Russia’s Vladimir Putin has watched Trump play directly into his game. Putin must be giggling in his sleep and planning his next walk-in take-over.

The travails of the complex Middle East are obviously far above the level of understanding of Trump. A key ally there, Turkey, is falling under the rule of a dictator, the Israelis remain hard-nosed and intransigent, Russia keeps the pot boiling in Syria, the hard-line politicians of Iran are trying to challenge the theocratic rule of the Ayatollahs, Pakistan, when not arguing with India, gives safe haven to Afghan insurgents and the Saudi’s are stirring the pot in Yemen. It is no tourist paradise.

And judging by the Conservatives contesting the current Conservative Party of Canada leadership, some of that hard-right thinking is starting to drift into Canada. It will be interesting when we get a chance to analyse the voting by the new and old members of that party.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

The constipated Conservative contest.

Sunday, April 2nd, 2017

Back on March 11 and 12, Babel-on-the-Bay published its morning line for the current Conservative Party of Canada leadership. We are somewhat surprised that nothing has changed. With two more months to go at the time, candidates’ teams needed to assess their strategy and make their changes for the home stretch. April is the home stretch in this race and half the candidates seem unaware.

With ballots being sent to all members of the party by the end of April, that will be the end of the game. The announcement of the winner will take place in Toronto at the end of May.

Of the possible winners, only the top seven will be of interest. They are the ‘possibles’ as described in the morning line:

Kevin O’Leary, no change at 20 to 1. He has proved himself short-tempered, apolitical and out of his depth. It is probably just as well that O’Leary is in the race. He is taking some of the publicity away from Kellie Leitch and that can only be a good thing. Even if he is number one on the first ballot because of name recognition, he is nobody’s second choice. And it is second and third choice votes that will count in this race.

Kellie Leitch, it is possible that her vote odds have dropped from 15 to 1 to 30 to 1. It hardly matters though as she is in the same boat as O’Leary with nowhere to grow.

Andrew Scheer, we gave him 12 to 1 because of his second vote possibilities. He is a safe candidate in the caucus’ opinion but he is no leader. Frankly, he might be the favourite of the Liberal’s in Ottawa because there is nowhere he will take the Conservative Party. He would be a stop-gap leader.

Maxime Bernier, is a mixed bag. His 10 to 1 odds reflect his rejection by the Quebec caucus. They see Bernier as a Libertarian who is hurting them in Quebec rather than helping. He has failed to convince the rest of the country that he is anything but a playboy. If money talks, it could win him a few second votes but not enough.

Erin O’Toole, at 9 to 1, might be the only candidate to have improved his odds. Peter MacKay’s endorsement will help solidify his strength in the Atlantic provinces. We are just not seeing the potential in Ontario and the West. He could be the sleeper.

Lisa Raitt, at 6 to 1, we still like Lisa Raitt’s chances. She has got to be second choice for lots of Conservative members. The rules are working for this lady. Given a lead out of Ontario, she can win with just second votes from the West.

Michael Chong, at 5 to 1, we are seeing the M.P. as a bit of an enigma. It all depends on how party members are perceiving his concerns about how the party functions. And the other factor is membership sales by his opponents. There are still questions to be answered.

Under the rules of this leadership race, no candidate can back out past this point in time. Does that rule out the stalking horse who can send his votes to another candidate? And would it be worth it?

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Kevin O’Leary meets a real reality.

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

Welcome to Canadian politics, Kevin O’Leary. You have brought a few laughs to an otherwise dismal contest for leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada. Though you would think someone from reality television would know what to expect? Did you really think leadership races are run within some foolish rules? And that anybody pays for someone’s membership in the party without knowing how they will vote.

Kevin, you have a lot to learn; besides French. Blowing the whistle on a fellow candidate is pretty amateur stuff. You cannot be that naïve. You have embarrassed the party by making the officials dump a bunch of memberships. (Did the people being dumped get their membership fee back?) Now all the memberships remaining are on the up and up. Sure?

Kevin, you should have run for the Ontario party leadership last year. Did you know that schmuck Patrick Brown swamped the provincial party membership with close to 40,000 new sign-ups? The provincial officials took the memberships and took the money and nobody ever heard a word of complaint. And did you really think all those recent immigrants from India and Pakistan who Brown had signed up in the provincial party paid their own membership fee?

But, Kevin, you would hardly expect a few thousand ‘instant’ members are going to make a big difference in the federal race? The way the voting is structured for the national leadership, it is virtually impossible to buy the leadership. You would need at least 60,000 instant members spread fairly evenly across 338 electoral districts. The problem is not the more than $225,000 for the memberships but the organization needed to collect your member’s ballots and mail them in for them. And then you would still need those second votes from all the other losing candidates to be sure.  The federal party did not want to make it too difficult but they certainly did not want a schlemiel like Brown walking away wearing the leader’s tiara.

Kevin, you might have done Maxime Bernier a favour. Even if you did not name names, he might have told his supporters it was his memberships that were tossed. If he can afford to lose that many first votes and laugh about it, this race might be more confused than we thought.

Kevin, this might seem odd to you but the decision in this race will be made by 13 losing candidates. Yes, you are one also. Every candidate wants those losers to tell their supporters who to support second. And that will decide the ultimate winner.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Could Chantal Hébert be so diabolical?

Saturday, March 18th, 2017

Is it whimsy or a diabolical intent? Is Toronto Star political guru Chantal Hébert really that devious? She recently proposed that Rona Ambrose, the federal interim leader for the Conservatives as the ideal person to step in and take over the reins of the combined provincial Conservatives in Alberta.

That is a wonderful proposal and we should all get behind it. Maybe we could excuse New Democrat Rachel Notley for not participating but Conservatives and Liberals can appreciate the irony. It would be justice writ big.

First of all, it would relegate that blow-hard Jason Kenney to the position of second fiddle. That is the most he deserves. And what would really feel good would be the fact that a woman put him in his place. After what happened to the women in the Alberta Conservative leadership race and the way they were treated by Kenney’s supporters, he deserves to be walked on by a lot of very sharp high heels.

And surely nobody is going to shed a tear for Wildrose Leader Brian Jean. Where the Hell is he taking that bunch of malingering malcontents? While we might have had a lot of sympathy for the Wildrose leader last year during the wildfire in his electoral district, it is time to face the facts. He would be taking on far more than he could chew to fight Kenney for the combined party leadership. He would need a lot of help to take on Stephen Harper’s go-to guy.

And we would strongly advise anybody to not take on Jason Kenney down some dark alley. He has probably never heard of the Marquis of Queensbury’s or any other rules of engagement.

But the suggestion of getting Rona Ambrose to challenge both Jean and Kenney for the combined conservative leadership is delicious. Rona is far tougher than either and she has proved it in her handling of the Conservative Party of Canada since the 2015 rout in parliament. She calls it as she sees it and she has kept the Liberals’ feet to the fire in an otherwise docile House of Commons.

And while we all know that polls taken today will be meaningless down the road, an Ambrose versus Notley battle for Alberta might just be a fair fight. What would make it even more interesting would be the resurrected Alberta Liberal Party with the fallout of progressive conservatives from a more right-wing Conservative Party.

We all need to face the facts that the days of narrow-minded Alberta-centric governments is coming to an end. All of us, as Canadians, have a responsibility to the entire country. We have to live together and build together. We have to care together. We have to share responsibility for our environment. It builds our future.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

The Morning Line: Canada’s Conservatives (2).

Sunday, March 12th, 2017

Now you get the possible winners from among the 14 contenders for the Tory leadership. We have checked their blood lines, their daily workouts and their past performances and all we can tell you is that the following is possible.

THE POSSIBLES:

Kevin O’Leary, 20 to 1. Our only advice to Kevin O’Leary (if he had ever asked) was to not play the heavy on television and then show up in politics expecting to be loved. He was the guy on that investment show, you loved to hate. He earned it. And not speaking French and expecting to be welcomed with open arms by the Tories is dreaming. Forget it Kevin.

Kellie Leach, 15 to 1. This sitting M.P. took up the nettle of Trumpism and is still trying to figure out how to handle it. If people did not realize just how silly her ‘Canadian Values’ line is, they need to see that weird YouTube video she made to explain her values. You wonder what her and the camera crew were smoking at the time

Andrew Scheer, 12 to 1. This is the desperation candidate. He is a small version of Stephen Harper. He is making the best play for second and third choice votes we have seen so far. That alone puts him in the running. He’s young (37), maybe he can grow into the job—if the Tories can wait a dozen years!

Maxime Bernier, 10 to 1. The M.P. from Beauce is a Conservative’s conservative. He is about as far right as you can get and stay in the country. He carries some baggage in leaving sensitive documents at his girlfriend’s but those who have seen the pictures of her understand. He is also number one in fundraising. He lacks the more balanced appeal of a Stephen Harper but he is about number four in a field of 14.

Erin O’Toole, 9 to 1. This is a guy who looks better on paper than in person. His platform is carefully crafted and hits many of the right buttons. So what if he is a bit boring? He is building a good base in the Atlantic which was a smart move. Now he has to drive that truck west. He has a chance.

Lisa Raitt, 6 to 1. The rules are working for this lady. She has become the stand-in for Rona Ambrose who has done a good job as interim leader of the Conservatives. There is no doubt that Conservative women will give her a first, second or third place vote—just for being a woman in politics. She is also going to get a sympathy vote because of her husband’s health. She has a better chance than most people realize.

Michael Chong, 5 to 1. This could be a surprise for many Conservative M.P.s. Michael Chong might be the only candidate who has seriously thought about the party and its future. The other candidates do not understand his ‘big tent’ strategy. It is why he could so easily walk away with so many second, third and fourth place votes from Tories across the country—that is what it will take to win. It will be a close race but he could just make it happen.

Sorry folks, it is a tough call. Nothing is guaranteed but all Canadians should take an interest in what happens in this race—it will define the Conservative Party of Canada for years to come.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

 

The Morning Line: Canada’s Conservatives (1).

Saturday, March 11th, 2017

You can hardly deal with 14 contenders for the Tory leadership in just one commentary. We will divide our Morning Line into two parts: The Losers and the Possibles.

THE LOSERS:

Rick Peterson, 100 to 1. There seems to be no justification for this gentleman to be leader of the Conservative Party of Canada. While he is bilingual, that by itself is not a platform. He has no political experience and that might be why he proposes a flat tax and the elimination of corporate taxes. As the saying goes: The tax man cometh.

Pierre Lemieux, 99 to 1. The former Lieutenant Colonel in the Canadian military is also a former MP from the Ottawa area. He is a social conservative and is endorsed by Campaign Life. Enough said.

Deepak Obhrai, 95 to 1. The Member of Parliament from Calgary has been serving his electoral district for the past 20 years. If we could think of one possible reason for anyone outside of his riding to vote for him, we would tell you about it.

Andrew Saxton, 90 to 1. We flipped a coin between Saxton and Peterson to see who the biggest loser would be. Saxton also won because he had previously been a Member of Parliament. He has a ‘Canadian Dream’ that seems to be a ‘rags to riches’ story. But boring.

Brad Trost, 85 to 1. We used to like Saskatoon. As an M.P., Brad Trost is not a good ambassador for the city. He is a social conservative, a pro-pipeline advocate and does not think women should be allowed control of their own bodies. Just another Saskatchewan wannabe!

Steven Blaney, 55 to 1. The Quebec M.P. will come out of Quebec with a strong local vote but there is little growth for his law and order campaign outside his home province. He also wants a royal commission to go on some sort of a witch hunt to define Canadian values. It sometimes takes people more than a minute or so to figure out what a dumb idea that is.

Chris Alexander, 50 to 1. Given a smaller field of candidates, this former M.P. would get a higher number of second choice votes and make a better showing. As it is, he has been in the wrong place, at the wrong time, doing the wrong thing too often. He seems to lack political acumen.

Those are your long shots folks. What works against all of them are the rules of the voting. All electoral districts share the same voting strength and the winner needs 50 per cent plus one vote. That means that the party will have to count second, third and fourth place votes before a winner starts to emerge. It really will be the losers who are the choosers.

We will discuss the ‘Possibles’ tomorrow.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

A liberal look at leadership.

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

Ontario Liberals are finally realizing that there is a problem at Queen’s Park. It appears to be endemic. It affects every political party on the premises. It is the serious lack of leadership. Even the Liberal Party backbenchers are drawing lots to see who will be the Cassius who drives the first (rhetorical) knife in the back of Premier Kathleen Wynne.

Wynne has done what she could. She has been driving a tired and worn-out Liberal horse and buggy for too long. It needs to be refreshed, re-challenged and recharged for the good of the province. It is a party that desperately needs to see a new future.

But the future is not a feature with Wynne. She is a North Toronto right wing reactionary. She won the leadership of the Liberal Party by trickery and manipulation. Her deal with the devil seemed to have been with former Ontario Premier David Peterson and fellow candidate Glen Murray, MPP for the adjoining Toronto electoral district.

Looking at the news media’s selection of possible replacements does not fill our heart with cheer. MPPs such as Eric Hoskins and Charles Sousa could not dump their campaigns fast enough in the last leadership convention to climb aboard the Wynne bandwagon. They were looked after; not the voters.

At the same time, MPPs Steven Del Luca from Vaughan, Yasir Naqvi from Ottawa, Michael Coteau from Toronto (East York) and Mitzie Hunter from Toronto (Scarborough) are all fresher cabinet faces with potential. Each of the them might be able to talk about their vision for Ontario if out from under the oppressive leadership of Kathleen Wynne.

And, do not forget Sandra Pupatello. She is not to be confused with the lacklustre regime of Kathleen Wynne as she was not in the Legislature at the time. She has the experience, the drive and the ideas that could work for us.

In the meantime, Kathleen Wynne is saying that her reduction of costs for electric power will pay political dividends next year. What that remaining time means for this government is more time for the opposition parties to develop their strategies. While few are impressed with the leadership of either party, nobody says Conservative Patrick Brown or New Democrat Andrea Horwath are stupid.

Without concrete and visible action by the Liberals over the next 12 months, they will be going into an election campaign bound and ready for slaughter. The best action might be an entirely new leadership, new direction and new faces on the firing line with the voters.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Canada’s Conservative Conundrum.

Friday, March 3rd, 2017

It is fascinating studying the 14 aspirants in the race for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada. It is also hard to believe. Just where would any of these people lead the party? There is certainly no John George Diefenbaker in this baker’s dozen.

Yes, a baker’s dozen is really 12 plus one but it appears this race has a backfield of 12 and two that are at some point going to be left broken and bleeding on the stage because the others are fed up with them.

Whether Kellie Leitch or Kevin O’Leary survive is in the hands of the 12-person jury of their peers. The very fact that Leitch and O’Leary are the two best known candidates is not only frightening but why either of them thinks they can win is confusing. O’Leary lives in Boston, Massachusetts, does not speak French, knows nothing about the job of leader, has never been elected to anything and has nothing to contribute. And he can hardly use bigotry al a Trump because Leitch got there first.

Leitch is pathetic in her attempts to fuse the Trump bigotry with her big-eyed, little girl pose. As someone who has taught public speaking, it was painful to watch as much as we did of her recent and obviously heavily edited video trying to explain her “Canadian values” pitch to Conservatives. She even goes back to the Mike Harris “Common Sense Solution” in reaching for code words that appeal to the right-wing of her party.

Kellie Leitch’s only asset is that she is a sitting Member of Parliament. Her electoral district is in that swath of ridings across central Ontario where they have periodically tried to put a bounty on Liberals. She might be a frontrunner but will not grow much in the ballot counting.

What Leitch and O’Leary will have a hard time overcoming is the voting system the Conservatives will be using in May to determine their next leader. Each electoral district across Canada will be equal and the voters can indicate their second, third, fourth votes and so on. As nobody is the least bit likely to have 50 per cent plus one on the first few ballots, it really will be an election where the losers are the choosers.

But that will not prevent us to from producing a morning line for the punters who want to see the odds on the race before placing a bet. The good news-bad news is that there are lots of longshots for the gamblers.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Is the political middle just one?

Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

Nobody seems to be able to nail down this middle ground in politics. It is like the middle class that Justin Trudeau chased in the last federal election. Did Trudeau even suspect that they would add up to almost 40 per cent of the voters?  And were they all centre-right voters or was there a mix of centre-left voters included?

But somewhere in Canada, there must be that one person who stands squarely in the middle of the political spectrum. Whomever this person might be, could it be another person next week?

And what does this political centre represent? Does it fight to maintain a fully funded Medicare or does it allow the encroachment of for-profit medicine for those who’s money allows them the right to jump the queue? Does this centre encompass environmental standards along with pipelines for tar sand’s bitumen? And how does a centrist government so blindly accept the European trade agreement that was negotiated by a right-wing government?

But does a right of centre government pay out tax money in the form of a child tax benefit? Is this not the same as we used to call a Baby Bonus? And why in the last election did the left-of-centre New Democrats insist on having balanced budgets? Why do these left, right and centrist parties not stay in place to help the voter make a decision?

Yet the truth is that a large part of the Liberal vote in the last federal election came from both the left and right. There was a clear desire across the political spectrum to end the Conservative Party of Canada oligarchy under Stephen Harper. It had run its term. It was tired and needed renewal. It was becoming too mean-spirited and defeated itself.

And we still have no idea whether Canadians expect the Liberal government of Justin Trudeau to rule from the right or the left. As long as the government keeps that ambiguity going, it might keep enough support from both sides to stay in power.

But how far is this government from the ideal of a centrist government? Is it protecting our individual rights and freedoms? Is it addressing the problems connected to our old and creaky constitution or is it wallpapering them? Are its elitist appointments to the Senate and the higher courts just tired solutions of an elitist right? We have chosen a leader but do we know where the hell he is going?

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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