Posts Tagged ‘Ignatieff’

The wounded of the wild, wild west.

Monday, October 23rd, 2017

Got an e-mail from a fellow blogger on Canada’s Left Coast. This guy is a superb writer and progressive but he is feeling less and less friendly these days to Justin Trudeau and the eastern establishment that tries to run this country. He confirms my thoughts that Quebec separatists are less a problem for Canadian unity than the wild, wild west.

He reminds me that I still think of myself as a Liberal despite the abuse the party has heaped on me for too many years. My heart goes out to those British Columbians who Young Trudeau has betrayed. I would go out there and lie down in the path of the bulldozers seeking to expand the Kinder Morgan Trans-mountain pipeline if I thought that would help.

The hypocrisy of Justin in his ongoing dealings with Canadians across the country amazes me. And is he talking with the left or right fork of his tongue in his dealings with Canada’s aboriginal peoples? Nor do you expect to see the Prime Minister of Canada blubbering over the loss of a music icon. He needs to not only suck it up emotionally but he needs to grow some backbone in his dealings with the American President. If he does not know how to deal with a bully and a bull-shitter, he had better learn in a hurry.

But prime ministers come and go. Even Harper “The Hair” finally went back to Alberta. Our correspondent mentioned Jean Chrétien. He notes that Jean never did anything inspiring. I always thought, we kept Jean around the Liberal Party as some sort of mascot. Paul Martin was even less useful. Paul disgraced every liberal-minded person in Canada with how he condemned the 99 per cent to pay for the unreasoned privileges of the one per cent.

For my correspondent, the tipping point was Michael Ignatieff as leader. I knew Michael from when he was a young man about to leave Canada for what turned out to be too many years. I was conflicted as I saw him as that ‘Let’s save the world’ go-getter from many years ago. I was puzzled during a few conversations I had with him as he seemed detached. It was in the debates with Stephen Harper that I realized my mistake.

Both of us saw Justin Trudeau as the guy who could restore the Liberal Party and take us on a progressive path. I arranged a fund-raising dinner for Justin in my riding and we had an interesting chat. I was surprised at his stand on some issues. It was not until after that dinner that I realized this was not Pierre Trudeau’s son and heir. This was Margaret Trudeau’s son.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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Why is the Hair laughing at the TV Networks?

Monday, May 18th, 2015

Do you really think the Hair is going to debate any of his opponents in this fall’s election? Not if he can help it! It just is not in the Hair’s DNA. After three national elections with debates staged on the major television networks, you have got to understand how the Hair feels. He now knows that he does not have to do it.

Instead of negotiating, the Hair is letting the kids in short pants in his office screw the networks around. He knows that he can let his people dick the television people around until September and he can make the decision then. If he and his brain-trust think a couple debates are necessary, he will agree then—on his terms.

It is plain and simple arrogance. Why should he help create an audience for his opponents? He does not like them. He does not respect them. He barely tolerates them. He thinks it is funny to suggest that the Toronto Globe and Mail conduct a debate. He thinks this would be a more cerebral event. It could be a fiasco as it is hardly likely that the Globe has any people really experienced in that type of theatre.

And why should he tolerate television reporters? He is travelling with his own videographers these days who do what he tells them. He can put their clips out on the Internet for his like-minded sycophants. And they do not have to obey any rules but his.

Why should he cooperate with television people who just want to do gotchas?

And the joke is that the CBC is the only network that is actually fair to him. (Radio-Canada is equally fair as it treats all politicians badly.) CTV is not really fair but it is just equally incompetent in dealing with political material. And nobody seems to be running things at Global.

Just think back to the last television debates in 2011. The Hair stood there and ignored his opponents. Michael Ignitieff waited for some reasoned debate to start. Jack Layton seemed to be looking admiringly at the Hair. Gilles Duceppe attacked everyone. Elizabeth May was not allowed to attend because she asked the Hair the only intelligent questions in the 2008 debate. And the only question that stuck from the 2011 events was the rude question by Jack Layton on attendance in the House by the Liberal Party leader for which Ignatieff’s handlers had not prepared him.

And now the Hair’s people are telling us he wants more sympathetic debates than that. The only way they could be more in his favour would be if he was the only one allowed to ask questions. Though he would probably still bar Elizabeth May.


Copyright 2015 © Peter Lowry

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Blogs, bloggers and the feed-back they get.

Saturday, July 2nd, 2011

There was an interesting comment the other day from a regular reader who said, “Where did that microphone come from?”  She could not understand why the topic was suddenly microphones.  The simple answer was that we had just been at an event where the microphone and sound system were in terrible condition and nobody seemed to know how to handle the problem.

What we realized was that her concern was that, once again, we had wandered from the political commentary for which she reads our blog.  That fits the pattern we have seen in the statistical analysis we get from Google Analytics.  For example, the best read column in the past year was the one on the F-35 fighter aircraft.  It was not the discussion of the attributes of the aircraft that interested people but the political decisions behind it.

That settles it.  Our blog is now just of political commentary.  Most readers seem to have little problem with the liberal bias.  The Provincial Liberal Party here in Babel might argue that but their problem is that we are not writing for them.  When we see them doing the job properly and democratically, we will cheerfully recognize their effort.  When we see Premier McGuinty showing some leadership and liberalism, we will find something nice to say about him.  His only positive attributes at the moment are that he is not Tim Hudak or Andrea Horwath.

In the past year, we have posted something in our blog 365 days in a row.  That is sometimes a chore and sometimes we are posting something just to be here.  That is to stop.  If there is nothing posted one day, it will be because we have nothing important to say.  Posting a new item two or three times a week is an easier schedule for this writer and readers get better quality stuff.

There are also times we are busy working on something else.  Thank goodness some people like our writing enough to pay for it.

We are going to stop the silly little poems.  Nobody has ever admitted to reading them or even chuckling.  We believe that the poem, The man who stood on the side of the road, was the synthesis of Michael Ignatieff’s time as leader of the federal Liberals.  Few agreed with us.  The continuing series of two and three liners were going to be our contribution to Twitter (we called them our ‘twits”), but Twitter has already lost its bloom in social commentary..

We will try for more balance between the federal, provincial and municipal scene.  The current municipal scene lacks the humour of the last council.  Mind you, having the free services of Councillor Prowse as our new chauffeur is a funny tale but we will save that for when council takes July off.

The danger in commenting on the federal political scene is that, too often, discussions of the Harper government’s policies—or lack thereof—come across as rants.  Sorry about that but some people can really piss you off.

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Liberalism might not be dead.

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

It is easy to be a liberal.  Being a liberal most of your life is not a particularly demanding challenge.  You do not have to hate anybody.  You can live and let live.  You can accept diversity—of lifestyle, of sexuality, of thought, of religion and even of political persuasion, within reason.

Having known many members of the Liberal Party over the years, it has always been amazing to note the breadth of that acceptance.  Last year, listening to Michael Ignatieff promote his ‘Big Red Tent’ approach to the party, one could wonder who was excluded from squeezing under that all-enveloping canvas.  At least the tent illustration is better than the one about the need for the right and left wings of the party to flap in unison.

One of the observations made over the years is that there are right wing members of the Liberal Party who can embarrass a conscientious conservative.  No Conservative finance minister in the last 100 years could have been more ruthless than Liberal Paul Martin during the 1990s.  He did not just rename the unemployment insurance system, he gutted it.  If he had wanted to destroy Medicare, he could not have done it more damage than he did by stripping its funding to the provinces.

When Martin replaced Chrétien as Liberal Leader, the left wing of the party had been decimated.  Paul had rejected their pleas for some common sense in his crusade to cut the deficit.  They, in turn, rejected his pleas to continue to support the party.

There was little choice for the voters in 2006.  You had the real right wing of Stephen Harper or the de facto right wing of Paul Martin with its thin veneer of left-wing promises.  As the marketers of Coca-Cola can tell you, people opt for the ‘real thing.’

But it was obvious that nobody trusted Mr. Harper.  It took him three tries to get a majority.  And even his working majority on May 2 is no ringing endorsement of him, his party or his platform.

The Liberals had good reason to dump an unrealistic Dion after the 2008 disaster.  They should have taken more time.  The rushed imposition of Ignatieff on the party was a serious mistake.  There should have been a proper leadership convention instead of a coronation.  The convention would have served to introduce Ignatieff more effectively and short-circuited some of the effectiveness of Harper’s attack advertising.

With the time the party is now contemplating taking to find a new leader, we will have lots of opportunity to consider our wishes.  Instead of settling for one of the contenders now emerging, we should build a model of what we want and then we can look for someone to fill those shoes.

One thing for sure, we must find a leader who recognizes the need for democracy in the party.  The new leader must agree to only authorize candidates for an electoral district who have been chosen democratically by the members of the Liberal association in that area.  We must also have a party hierarchy that works for the people in the electoral districts.  Liberals can do no less.

Liberals must rebuild.  They must decide what they represent.  They must democratize the party.  And then they can choose a leader who can speak for that party.

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Time to make election forecasts.

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

Here comes the promised forecast.  It is more difficult than expected.  We are guessing that the Harper Conservatives will keep the minoritymobile running on empty for at least another two years.

But we expect the results of this campaign will cost Mr. Harper his job.  In two years, we are likely to have new leaders of all four major parties.  The Conservative and Liberal parties will change for the obvious reasons while Layton could be out because of his health and Gilles Duceppe because he has run his course. Canadian politics will be a very different ballgame at that time.

The key in this election is Ontario.  Without the breakthrough he needs in the Greater Toronto Area, Harper cannot pull it off.  In communicating with people in all parts of the province, we learn that there are not likely to be any dramatic changes.  Sure the Conservatives might win a seat in Brampton but they can just as easily lose the seat they were confident of in Babel (Barrie).  Nothing looks remotely like changing in Eastern Ontario.  The South West seems locked in a death grip.

The only thing fluid in the North is the beer in which the Conservatives will be crying after the election.  Best guess is that the Conservatives will come out of Ontario with a net loss of about four seats.  The Liberals will not be happy to only have some 43 seats in Ontario after the election but that is more than they had when they started.

The major shift of the election could be in Quebec.  Gilles Duceppe is tiring and there is little likelihood that his Bloc can hold more than 42 seats in the next house.  The Liberals could surprise everyone and come back with a total of 20 seats there.  It just means another small loss there for Mr. Harper.

The rest of the country has incremental wins and losses but the outcome will still be minor losses for Harper and minor gains for Michael Ignatieff.  Neither is a winner.  At the end of the game, Harper wins 130 to 135 seats and holds on to the government.  Liberals in the high 80s will not save Michael’s job.   And Jack Layton will not win enough seats to be able to support the Liberals taking over.  It leaves the Bloc in the catbird seat.

The one hope we have in this election is the younger voters.  They are annoyed.  They dislike Stephen Harper and they distrust him.  Ridings in major college areas could have some scares if not some outright upsets.  Combined with the women’s vote in those ridings, change can happen.  More women need to look harder at Mr. Harper and wonder why any woman would vote for as cold a fish as that.

On a more personal note, we feel sorry for Michael Ignatieff.  He disappointed many of us in the debates.  If only more people had seen his ‘Rise Up’ speech, we could have a revolution.  We need it!

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The art of debate suffers serious setback.

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

The debates are over.  Thank goodness.  That was like putting four unruly little boys in the same playpen.  It was an opportunity for them to be nasty.

It really is too bad that Gilles Duceppe of the Bloc Quebecois is not as good a communicator in English as he is in French.  In the English debate, he went right for Harper’s jugular vein like a pit bull smelling lunch.  The only problem was that Harper could ignore him.  Harper hardly feels he has to make nice with a francophone separatist.

In fact, Harper ignored everybody.  With his warm and heavy makeup job and so perfectly coifed hair, he looked like he was afraid to move.  What left us cold about his style was that he never looked at anybody.   On Tuesday, he particularly ignored the moderator Steve Paikin—who let the English-language session get out of control.

Harper took whatever time he wanted. Ignatieff and Layton actually indicated to Paikin—practically raising their hand as though they wanted to go to the washroom.  Harper butted in whenever he wanted to.  Duceppe spoiled his presentation by getting red and angry with Harper.

The disappointment in the debate was the one guy who actually should have had the most debating experience at the university level.  Michael Ignatieff was over-prepped for the event.  His advisors should have left him alone.  It was obvious that they had fed him too many sound bites—which he finally garbled—and stopped him from listening to what others were saying.  While Harper could hardly care what they said, Ignatieff needed to win the damn debate.

He did not.

If we had renamed the show “Three and a half men,” Jack Layton was the half.  He was the earnest little boy allowed to play with the big kids. He appeared to be standing there throughout the debate looking admiringly at Harper.  Why he chose Ignatieff’s support for our troops in Afghanistan and attendance in the House of Commons as subjects on which to attack Ignatieff, we can hardly guess.  Ignatieff is the party leader and leader of the opposition.  He is in the House when he has to be but he has a lot of other work to do.

Harper tried to make something of the fact that he is now the longest serving minority Prime Minister since Mr. Pearson was Prime Minister from 1963 to 1968.  The difference is that Canadians liked Mr. Pearson and he accomplished a great deal during his time as Prime Minister.

Harper also reminded us of our blog about stump speaking.  The only difference is that Harper, as a speaker, is the stump.  The man has no passion nor feelings nor emotion.  Poor Laureen Harper!

After the two debates, the only conclusion is that Canadians need to take Stephen Harper to the woodshed.  He needs to understand that going way off topic to avoid answering questions does not always work.

The rest of them need to learn that a debate is not a bickering session.

The only humour in the entire two hours of English was when Gilles Duceppe had Jack Layton squirming, trying to get out of appearing to support the notorious Quebec language law (Bill 101).

The silliest question was from an obvious Conservative supporter in a small town in British Columbia about safety on the streets.  (Do they have a street there?)  Harper enjoyed the question.  Once again, we heard how he is tough on crime and easy on guns.

By the end of that first two hours, the leaders were tired, nobody had won anything and the audience was saying, “We missed regular programs for this?”  A sad result.

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Give me that old-time politics.

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

A political era is ending.  The stump speech will soon be a thing of the past.  We used to judge politicians by their ability to give a stump speech.  The name comes from when they found a suitable tree stump for a political orator to stand on while addressing local voters.  These speakers were able to involve the listeners in their oratory and were judged on their ability to enthral, convince and hold their audience.

One of the best of the breed of stump speakers in Ontario, that we knew, was J.J. “Joe” Greene, MP and Minister of Agriculture for the Pearson Government and then Minister of Mines and Resources in the Trudeau Government.  Joe was not as smart as Pearson or Trudeau but give him a simple stand-up microphone and an audience and he could wrap the audience around his little finger.  The world lost a great orator at when Joe died in 1978, at just 58.

Another great orator, in our estimation, was the late Don Jamieson.  A Newfoundland broadcaster who had opposed confederation with Canada, Don served in all the Trudeau Government cabinets before finishing as Minister of External Affairs in 1979.  He was our loyal and proud Canadian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom from 1983 to 1985.  Other than one particularly corny joke about a manure spreader that he used too often, Don was a delight to listen to.  He was always in demand as a speaker.

We were very impressed with how Michael Ignatieff was coming along last summer when he brought his bus tour to Babel.  He spent the afternoon at a garden party at our provincial MPPs home.  His speech won hearts and minds.   Sure, he was preaching to the choir but there were more than a few of us there who could review the speech for its content, credibility and quality of delivery.  Because the audience was Liberal and interested, it was quite long.  There was a point where it was obvious that he was bridging between two different speeches.  Nobody complained.  It was his audience.

What made the event a stump speech is that it was made without a lectern, without a note and without a teleprompter.  He was talking to that audience about the things that he needed to say to it.   It was a great sales pitch for what he believes is the inclusiveness of the big red tent.  He was selling the breadth and depth of Liberalism.  He succeeded.

It is interesting to note that Justin Trudeau MP is a comer as a stump speaker.  He is good.  When he was here in Babel speaking to supporters, we were comparing him to his father.  His father never was a good stump speaker.  He was too intellectual and needed the stimulus of the audience to really communicate.  Without that stimulus, Pierre Trudeau could be boring.  We will be looking for great things from his son.

But a stump speaker has serious competition today.  We have been seeing it on television news almost every night.  We are into the era of the teleprompter.  Jack Layton was the surprise on this.  He is not that bad a speaker but because of his various health problems, his handlers seem to have added the teleprompters to keep him from tensing up or flubbing.  They are using the reflective glass prompters that are to the right and left at the front of the stage.   He is just getting used to it after some weeks of practice.  He had a tendency at first to look like he was trying to follow a tennis match while speaking.

We noted that we had finally found Harper’s teleprompter the other day.  The media have been so tightly controlled that it had not been visible.  The Conservatives are using a large screen television prompter for him that is parked just in front of the television cameras.  It was not seen until a cameraman finally got behind the tame audience for a back shot of Harper.  The Conservative leader is such a control freak that he probably also memorizes the key points of his prepared remarks.

We have not seen Ignatieff with a teleprompter yet but when he gets to be Prime Minister, he will also have to learn to use them.

Teleprompter support will not be there tonight at the leaders’ first television debate.  This event is staged but not managed to that extent.  It is actual reality television.

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Does anyone know what they are doing?

Friday, April 8th, 2011

One of the keys to an effective political campaign is careful planning at the beginning of the campaign and then sticking to the plan.  Should be easy? Right?

Wrong.  Sticking to the plan is the most difficult part.  All the pressures of the campaign are determined to change your course.  There are things you did not think of.  There are new opportunities.  Your opponents have done something to which you really want to respond.  People are saying you need to change direction every day.

If you are a control freak like Stephen Harper, you tell the flunkies what to do and you do not let them tell you.  And yet he has been thrown off stride by this campaign.  He had to apologize for the Mounties keeping some young voters out of his highly structured campaign events.  When he let them in, they could only stand and listen politely.

Two factors have muted Harper’s early plans to use the supposed ‘coalition’ against Ignatieff.  One was that the polls showed that most Canadians were happy with the idea of a coalition.  The second was that the original coalition with the Bloc and the NDP was proposed by Harper in 2004 to try to remove Paul Martin as Prime Minister.

Campaigns have many buzz words.  One of the most effective against Harper in the past ten years has been the hidden ‘agenda.’ The anti-gun registry stance was linked at the time to anti-abortion, pro-capital punishment and other right-wing extremist positions.  Imagine Ignatieff’s surprise when he is accused of having a hidden agenda to remove some of the Conservative’s harsher sentencing penalties for the courts.  All of that type of law is routinely reviewed by Parliament over time and there is probably no disparity at all between Liberal critic Mark Holland and his leader Michael Ignatieff’s views on this.

The worst problems in sticking to the plan are at the local electoral district level.  You are never sure if people there had a plan in the first place.  Signs are ordered before literature is designed and any similarity has to be in party colors and nothing else.  Every day, voters are telling you what is important and what they have told you is a blur before the day is finished.  Campaign managers are chosen for their youth and their limited dollar expense.  Few really know what they are doing.  Their agenda is survival.

It seems to be an axiom that the less a candidate knows about campaigning, the more the person wants to control their campaign.  Where they really need controls is on the expenditures being made on their behalf.

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Be wary of the political science pundits.

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

It is not that they are necessarily wrong.  Political science academics are just not always experts in the street politics that the country is seeing in the run-up to the 2011 federal election.  When political science professor tells a reporter that you will know in the next two weeks if the Conservative’s are in trouble in Babel, he is basing it on past results and not judging what is in play in the electoral district this time.

Babel is more central to the hopes and dreams of Mr. Harper and Mr. Ignatieff, than people realize.  The electoral district is not safe for either.  There is no slam dunk here.

Start with the basics.  Out of just over 90,000 potential voters, there are 20,000 voters who will vote Conservative no matter who is the candidate.  Some are committed Conservative party supporters and some are racists who like the clever way the Tories show that they are keeping the riff-raff from around the world out of the country.  The Tories also attract homophobic voters and right-to-lifers.  They are also playing to the gun nuts, the pro-capital punishment and the ignorant.

Next, consider the yellow-dog Liberals.  These are people who will vote Liberal even if the party ran a big yellow dog.  That figure can be assumed to be the rock-bottom vote that the Liberals got in 2008.  This vote was just over 12,000.  The four also-ran candidates in Babel shared almost that many votes in that election..

What we know is that, in this election, about 65,000 voters will cast a ballot in Babel.  Based on past experience, we already have an idea how 45,000 of them will vote.  That leaves just 20,000 voters who will really decide the election.  These are the people the candidates are trying to reach.

Looking at the demographics, the best guess is that more than 60 per cent of these deciders are women.  The median age of these women is about 36 years.  The majority have young children.  In looking at these voters, we find that they do not really like the Conservative candidate.  He comes across to them as young, callow and uninteresting.  In contrast, in a Freudian way, the Liberal candidate comes across as sexy and interesting.

At the same time, there is a rising tide of youth resentment to what they see as Harper’s anti-democratic tactics.  This could invoke the kind of social media tidal wave that worked so well for Barrack Obama in the last American presidential election.

We also know that these deciders are not going to waste their vote.  They know they have to choose between Conservative and Liberal.  In the 2008 election there were many potential Liberal votes that were turned off by Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion and a  faltering local candidate.  A much stronger campaign by Michael Ignatieff will neutralize those Liberal votes that went to the Conservatives last time.  The appeal of the local candidate to women and younger voters will swing a majority of the 20,000 deciders to vote Liberal in this election.

That brings us to an almost equal vote for the Tory and the Liberal candidates in Babel.

What will really decide this election in Babel are the votes for the NDP and the Green parties.  Not that either can win.  They are protest votes.  The candidates are the perennial candidates for those parties.  They are well spoken, decent people.  They are just running for a principle.

But the people who are inclined to vote for them have to realize that all a Green or NDP  vote will do is help the Conservative to win the electoral district.  It can be that close.

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A simple error in arithmetic.

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

We all make them.  Maybe we should all be more forgiving about math errors.  Just recently Prime Minister Harper told us that the temporary command centre in Babel last summer cost just $14 million, not the $27 million that others estimated.  Now the politicians are quibbling over the 65 F-35 fighters that his government ordered without an open tendering process.  Will they cost Canadians a total of $16 billion or $29 billion?  It is not as though the guy is a working economist.  As Prime Minister, he has to pick a figure that he thinks the voters might buy.

The one thing for sure is that he and his defence minister know nothing about Canada’s national defence needs.  Of what use is a fighter aircraft that cannot carry enough fuel (along with any armament) to patrol our arctic?  And why would Canadians want a stealth aircraft?  Who are we going to attack?  The only use Canada could have for this aircraft would be for a surprise attack on the northern United States.  And that would certainly annoy the Americans.  (They might not be quite as annoyed if we attacked the southern U.S. but then they would need to use their tanker aircraft to refuel most of our planes for us—we do not have enough refuelling aircraft.)

Not since Mr. Harper last prorogued parliament has he shown us the colossal arrogance of his government.  The surprise announcement that we have already bought this deal makes the definitive statement on why this government must be defeated.  It makes you wonder what school of economics teaches students to send good money after bad.  We had already given the Americans hundreds of millions for them to develop the F-35.  Now that we know what it is, why we are spending billions more?

When you consider the life cycle of a fighter aircraft such as the F-35, $29 billion would be a bargain.  Then, you have to assume that there will be at least a six to ten year lag between knowing the F-35 is outdated and selecting a replacement at maybe $50 billion.  You never win at that game.

Another game that we will never win will be Michael Ignatieff’s election promise to cancel the order for these F-35s.  He will not be able to do that.  We are too locked in to the U.S. procurement cycle.  Maybe we can end up with a few dozen of the much more suitable F-22s though—if he plays his cards right.

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