Posts Tagged ‘Harper’

Chuckles brings home a report card.

Saturday, April 28th, 2018

Andrew ‘Chuckles’ Scheer has spent the better part of a year in Ottawa as leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition. A report card is due. Will we like the report on that purportedly placid Prairie politician?

Will he reprise the docile and easy-going speaker of the house role he played for the former prime minister? Do our parliamentarians still refer to him as ‘Harper’s boy’?

You might be surprised to hear that he has now been retrained as an attack dog and he can be ferocious when standing on his hind legs. He stands in place in the House and almost drools as he focusses in on the prime minister. And it is not to praise him.

Chuckles is quite adamant that our prime minister is an empty suit, a wastrel and a waster of public monies, a hypocrite in his policies and is taking the country in entirely the wrong direction. In fact, according to Chuckles, the liberal leader does nothing right.

His only problem is that very few Canadians pay much attention to what Chuckles has to say in the House of Commons. They do not know him and if they did, they might not like him.

Chuckles is more than a bit boring. He and his wife are practicing Catholics and have five children. He is a social conservative. He has been known among the conservative caucus as Stephen Harper with a smile.  He ran for the leadership last year on a slogan of being a real conservative and a real leader. Not all conservatives believed his slogan. He won on the 13th ballot with 50.9 per cent of the vote over second-place Maxime Bernier’s 49. 1 per cent.

If he really brought home a report card for his first year as opposition leader, it would probably report that he does not always play well with the other children. He has been known to complain that the liberal government has not done something and when they do it, he complains that that they did it. He went to England recently to promote himself with the people back home. He got failing grades in diplomatic relations with the U.K. government.

Chuckles is also busy preparing for his first test as conservative leader in next year’s federal election. The consensus is that he will be lucky to survive as party leader.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Trudeau plays to the home crowd.

Friday, December 15th, 2017

Surprise, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau played it safe the other day. He appointed Quebec’s Richard Wagner as chief justice of the Supreme Court. We Canadians have had little chance to hear from Wagner prior to this appointment. We have had no real chance to assess what his leadership might mean. We were left out while Trudeau did what elitists do.

At least when Wagner was under consideration for appointment to the supreme court five years ago, the Harper government had him vetted by a committee of the House of Commons. That was as close as we have ever come to having a more democratic selection of our supreme court.

We have to admit it is a smooth transition from long-serving Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, who served 28 years on the bench, the last 15 years as Chief Justice. There would have been loud and xenophobic complaints from Quebec if a justice from another province had been selected. As he is the most senior justice from Quebec, Trudeau was expected to select Wagner.

We should remember that Richard Wagner is the son of the late Claude Wagner, Quebecer, jurist and Conservative Cabinet Minister. The son’s conservative roots were obvious when he was the justice (luckily in the minority) that supported Harper’s “tough on crime’ approach and fixed minimum sentences.

Other than those two acknowledgements to the man who appointed him, Wagner has been a justice who appears to go along with the consensus of the court. While somewhat conservative in his opinions, he has never shown any leadership on any subject while on the bench. Mind you, the chief justice only has one vote.

Canadians have become used to having a supreme court that has stood up and been counted in supporting our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The country has been a better place with a court that cares about our democracy. Barring ill health, 60-year old Wagner can look forward to the 15 years in the chief justice position. We can only hope that Canadians do not have cause to regret his tenure.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Longingly looking for liberalism.

Friday, November 24th, 2017

A correspondent from British Columbia recently asked “What is a Liberal party bereft of liberalism?” He was, of course, describing the situation today where the Conservative parties are moving farther and farther to the harshest right, Liberals are the new Conservative-Light and the New Democrats are lost in a confused and undetermined world of the centre-left.

It is a situation desperately in need of new definition and new alliances. What we appear to have is our political structures moving further and further away from their mobs. And contrary to the limited perceptions of our putative leaders, they are driving their natural supporters away.

Look around the world or even here at home. There is political insecurity as voters wrestle with their frustrations. They want something different but are finding it difficult to articulate. Some leaders are connecting; We are thinking of Emmanuel Macron in France, Bernie Sanders in the U.S.A. while on the other hand we have Trump in the U.S. and the rise of the far right in Europe.

The resilience of Donald Trump’s support is surprising pundits. Valérie Plante’s mayoral victory in Montreal and the ability of Naheed Nenshi to fight off a strong attack from the right in Calgary are catching us all by surprise. You can no longer trust political logic.

Stephen Harper swore he would move Canada permanently to the right of the political spectrum. All he moved us to was that final distaste for his oppressive form of right-wing libertarianism. He made a mantra of balanced budgets and the voters moved to a braver, deficit promoting Liberal Party.

But where is Justin Trudeau in this political turmoil? He talks the talk of saving an environmentally threatened world and approves the senseless pollution extremes of pipelines for bitumen. He makes promises to his party for power and then betrays the party. He promises voting reform without understanding the options. He promises new peacekeeping without understanding the realities of the world’s needs. He bemoans the privileged attitude of the Senate while creating a new privileged class of elites to continue the cost to Canadians for a Senate that is unwanted and unneeded.

What Canada needs is a new social democratic party of the centre-left. The New Democrats need to drop their ties to “me-first” unions and move along with real liberals to this new party. The Conservatives can fade into a futile future with their mean and selfish attitudes. Liberals will find their future as progressives challenged from the left. And voters will have new options, better government and, in time, a modern constitution for their country.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Chuckles’ Canned Conservatism.

Tuesday, November 14th, 2017

In discussing the ebbing strength of the democracy of Canada’s Conservative parties yesterday, we never got to the major problem faced by the federal Conservatives. Their problem is one of leadership. If there ever was a good example of the mediocrity produced by preferential voting, the Conservative party faces that problem today in its leadership.

Andrew ‘Chuckles’ Scheer’s leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada should have come in a can—marked ‘Open in an emergency only.’ The former Speaker in the only majority Conservative Parliament under Stephen Harper, Scheer was the leadership candidate with the least to offer the party. He was simply the second, third or fourth choice of too many Conservative members.

A social conservative from Saskatchewan, Scheer has the perpetually surprised look of a deer caught in the headlights. You just know that he will stay there awaiting the impact.

But he got lucky lately. While the Trudeau Liberals are on a death watch for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Tories found their bonanza in Provence. And Bill Morneau’s French villa was only part of his problems. While the rest of the cabinet was distracted, Trudeau’s finance minister found himself engulfed in charges of conflict of interest and being rich. And the charge of being rich became incendiary.

It seems that neither Morneau nor the Parliamentary Ethics Commissioner had the political smarts to realize she had hung the finance minister out as a target for the opposition parties. At this late stage the ethics commissioner has had to open an investigation into the possible conflict of interest between the minister’s business interests, that deal in pension programs, and his changes in tax positions of pension funds.

Few voters will have the understanding of what any investigation will find. Guilt or innocence will be irrelevant.

When ‘Chuckles’ and his pack in the House of Commons first started baying after the finance minister, we carefully explained that the finance minister was in the position of Caesar’s wife. It was not a question of guilt or innocence. It was the very inference of wrong-doing. Bill Morneau should have been asked for his resignation then.

And do you not bet that the Conservatives, with a target in their sights, are sorry now that they opened the can labelled ‘Scheer.’

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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.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

The Hair harasses NAFTA hopefuls.

Monday, November 6th, 2017

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is still on life support. The end of his first year in office and President Donald Trump has not yet ended the more than US$ one trillion in trade between the three countries. Maybe he was waiting for some help from critics of the Canadian Prime Minister to help him make his case for canceling.

The ally, he must have been waiting for was The Hair: Former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Not that we would recommend the Hair for successful trade negotiations. His help in these circumstances is to pour oil on an already tense situation. The Americans are making outrageous demands on our negotiators and Harper tells clients of his consulting firm that the Trudeau Liberals are too quick to reject some of the demands. It should be noted that Harper never completed a successful free trade agreement—he kept claiming the European Community Agreement was completed but it was only finalized after the Liberals took over in Ottawa.

The Hair actually complains that Canada is aligning itself too closely to Mexico to the consternation of the Americans. (Maybe he has never heard the old adage about divide and conquer.)

And true to his extremist right-wing principles, Harper claims that Canada is wrong to put labour rights on the table along with such subjects as gender equality and Indigenous rights and concerns for environmental protection. Obviously, he seems to consider these unimportant matters.

A commentator such as myself is expected to take pot shots at those negotiating NAFTA for us but it is considered very bad manners for a previous Prime Minister. And when you consider that Trudeau even hired former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney to help out with the negotiations, it gives you an idea of the seriousness with which the situation is being handled.

Mind you, it is obvious that nobody thought of calling on Harper to help with the current negotiations. This is the guy who bickered with President Obama over the Keystone XL pipeline through the United States. As soon as Trump was in office, he put out an executive order telling TransCanada to build its Keystone pipeline. Mind you, it is likely that it will never be completed under today’s oil economics.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Hébert hails the Hair.

Sunday, September 10th, 2017

It is unlikely that many of political commentator Chantal Hébert’s fans read her Toronto Star columns for the humour. It is only occasionally that she writes with her tongue firmly in cheek. If you missed her most recent column, you missed a gem. She actually wrote of how the Hair (Stephen Harper) saved Canada from Quebec separatism. The joke was only softened by her giving credit for the suggestion to Harper’s former aide Carl Vallée, writing in L’actualité magazine.

It is hard to believe that the 2015 federal election was anything more than Quebec making common cause with the rest of Canada to get rid of Harper and his government. Nor was it much other than Tom Mulcair getting all flustered about niqabs and forgetting the NDP had any policies that washed out Quebec’s Orange Wave.

While there is a vestigial bigotry in Quebec that can be annoying at times, it’s use by Pauline Marois backfired on her and the Parti Québécois. Harper might have made note for his future, fictional, autobiography but he made no public comment at the time.

The simple facts are that the Parti Québécois spent the second half of the Hair’s regime in Ottawa finding its own way to perdition. When the separatist party chose Pierre Karl Péladeau as leader in 2015, we figured that was it for the dreams of René Lévesque. A millionaire, a confirmed union buster and a political dilettante, Péladeau was anathema to anything Lévesque had stood for.

At the same time, the Bloc Québécois became a non-party in the House of Commons and of no use to Quebec separatists. That more than anything else has spelled the lack of enthusiasm today for Quebec separatism.

What Vallée is telling us, Hébert says, is that Harper redirected Quebec attention to a left-right dialogue instead of a go-stay argument. While there is merit to that idea, it could hardly benefit Harper. In fact, it is hardly likely that it was deliberate.

When Babel-on-the-Bay saw which way the wind was blowing in Quebec, we put all our bets on a Liberal majority government in 2015. The simple facts were that Harper was the architect of nothing. He was a spent force.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Lottsa’ Luck Senator Duffy!

Sunday, August 27th, 2017

Senator Mike Duffy already has his payoff. He is still being paid as a member of Canada’s parliament. The report that he wants to sue the Senate and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police is an insult to both bodies.

And the suggestion that Duffy’s case is anything like that of Omar Khadr is erroneous, disgusting and misleading. The Duffy trial was over his sense of entitlement and privilege. Whether we agree with the judge or not, he was found not guilty. And that should have been the end of it.

Duffy was reinstated in the senate and life goes on. He was never shot, tortured or incarcerated as was Khadr. Duffy was never denied his rights as a Canadian citizen.

Unlike fellow journalist on the political scene, Allan Fotheringham, Duffy’s campaign to become a senator was subtle. The ‘Foth’ publicly enlisted reader support to tell the prime minister what an excellent senator he would be, while ‘The Duff’ went right to the one vote that mattered, that of Prime Minister Harper.

As Senator Duffy, he traveled Canada with Prime Minister Harper as his opening act. He was much in demand by other cabinet members to do their intros. And nobody seemed to care that Duffy was supposed to be a senator from Prince Edward Island, who lived in Ottawa. That deception was reported to be Stephen Harper’s idea, not Duffy’s.  And is it a big deal if the senator’s expense reports were somewhat confusing and overly generous?

They are all supposed to be honourable men and women in the Senate of Canada. Who gives a damn about how the citizens feel about it? It is a place of sinecure and privilege for the friends of our leaders.

It is very difficult to come to grips with Duffy’s claim that he was let down by the Canadian legal system. What could possibly be the problem when superior court judges, who are appointed by this political party or that political party, are the people to deal with questions of propriety of political apparatchiks in the Canadian Parliament. Is this not a fair system? Why does he not sue the guy who got him into the mess: Stephen Harper?

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Diminishing Democracy.

Wednesday, August 9th, 2017

Around the world, from Venezuela to Poland, from Turkey to America, we are watching the destruction of democracy. Those who believe in democracy are routinely arrested, beaten, detained or killed on the streets of once-safe cities. It is a challenge everywhere. There is no safe haven.

And Canada is no bastion of democracy. Former Prime Minister Harper routinely showed us his distain for parliament and democratic principles. Prime Minister Trudeau is no saviour of democracy either as he disrespects and destroys the Liberal Party. Like Harper before him, Trudeau uses his party as a political ATM. He only comes calling for funds.

The political corruption and destruction of democracy has moved fast and furious in the United States where Donald Trump measures his supporters in their gullibility. He calls them together regularly to rally and reassure him of their fealty. They feed his narcissism and eat up his lies.

The political parties of the United Stares of America are on the downside of favour with the people. The two main parties are hopelessly committed to their monied masters. They replace concern for the people with ideology and argue that everything that goes wrong is the ‘other guys’ fault. And only the very rich in America have influence. They are the ones who collect politicians like they used to collect stuffed trophies of the hunt.

And nobody cares. Their attention is to their royalty; their entertainers. The youth would rather devote themselves to social media on the ever more intrusive Internet—allowing Big Brother to catalogue their lives in the electronic prisons of the uninformed.

And what happened to the friendly police who used to help the elderly across the street? The politicians arm the police like storm troopers to protect us from what?

And not even the tyrant sleeps soundly. Political and corporate oligarchies are unstable at best as they keep to ideologies of the past. Even the oligarchs of Russia reap early harvests as they show lack of faith in the coming dawn. Will there be democracy tomorrow?

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

How would Harper have handled Trump?

Sunday, June 11th, 2017

When listening to Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland give her very important speech on the new world order, there was one disturbing thought. It was a silly question as to how would our previous prime minister have handled the situation? The one thing for sure was that Stephen Harper would never have allowed his foreign affairs minister to make such an important speech. It could have only been Harper himself in the spotlight.

And the more you think of it, you realize that the speech lost something by being delivered in the House of Commons. Harper would have taken it far from the Hill. He might have even taken the speech to New York or Philadelphia. That would have guaranteed world-wide attention.

Mind you it has been most of a century since anyone gave a truly momentous speech in our House of Commons. And that speaker was a Brit by the name of Winston Churchill.

Freeland’s speech was in essence a proposed walk-around to the situation with American President Trump. And it never needed to mention his name. (The only insult the son of a bitch recognizes is being ignored.)

And Freeland’s proposed solutions are long overdue. Canadians have really had enough of being treated as two-legged pets by the Americans.

We might have counted on their protecting us under the North American Air Defence Agreement (NORAD) but who the hell is protecting us from Trump? (Are we hoping he will invade Mexico first?)

But it would sure be nice to have a real Canadian military again. Trump will be long gone before we get our military up to snuff but it will be the effort made that counts. We might even get fighter aircraft to meet Canada’s needs.

Harper would not have liked the spending part of the speech. It would be more his style to only threaten to have a real Canadian military. Yet he would have agreed to going after more bi-lateral trade deals to try to keep Canada on its feet if Trump continues to destroy the American economy with his ignorance.

But would Harper have really stood up to what is going on in the Disturbed States of America? Probably not.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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