Posts Tagged ‘Jack Layton’

Will Singh say something serious?

Tuesday, October 17th, 2017

With a new party leader established and MP Charlie Angus taking over the New Democratic Party house leadership, and Thomas Mulcair retiring, the new leader, Jagmeet Singh, is free to roam the country. He can meet Canadians everywhere and press the flesh at local labour halls. The only question is what the heck he is going to talk about?

The media will soon tire of repeated pictures of Singh with school children looking wide-eyed at his turban and beard though he would be unlikely to show off those little knives (kirpan) an observant Sikh carries. He is hardly a missionary for Sihkism and his objective is to be accepted as a Canadian politician and to sell his party and its policies.

The NDP has an extensive songbook of declared policies collected over the years but Singh’s audiences will soon tire of those old chestnuts. He is also unlikely to get very far in relating any of his experience in the Ontario Legislature. He never did very much in his role as an MPP nor did he do much in his role as deputy leader of the provincial party.

But he can hardly stand in front of audiences of local NDP supporters in his expensive suits and tell them he will lead them to the promised land.

He has a party that mostly buys clothes at Mark’s Work Warehouse. They thought the party reached Nirvana when Jack Layton’s French hit it off with Quebec voters. (Why the party thought Tom Mulcair in his three-piece suits could do the same job for them still remains a puzzle,)

Singh is trying to emulate Justin Trudeau’s time spent on the road before the 2015 election,  even though the Liberal leader was already a sitting Member of Parliament. As the third party in the Commons, the party leader has a hard time getting face time with the media anyway.

Trudeau had a stock of crowd pleasing speeches about the middle class that carried him as he swung back and forth across Canada. If he is honest with himself, Singh will be flying back and forth from Toronto and Vancouver to invest the most productive time building on those market bases. The only problem is that those are also Justin Trudeau’s key markets. It promises to be a very interesting election in 2019.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

The NDP Gunfight at the Edmonton Corral.

Monday, April 11th, 2016

Who knew? Premier Rachel Notley in her Annie Oakley role had no choice but play to the home town crowd. Now former New Democrat Leader Tom Mulcair probably wished he was anywhere else.

But the gunfight at the Edmonton Corral was a three-way fight and you had to be careful not to turn your back on anyone. It was the carefully orchestrated Leap Manifesto versus Rachel Notley’s pipelines and Tom Mulcair was caught in the crossfire.

Nobody was making book on the situation with Mulcair. Sure, he let the party down in the election but the New Democrats are a party that gives a leader a second chance. The only question was how could they give a second chance to the guy who wasted the legacy of Saint Jack? Mulcair saw what happened to Andrea Horwath in Ontario when she tried to take the Ontario NDP down the same confused path.

Mulcair’s pathetic efforts to save his job did not reflect well on him. He knew that Notley had no choice but to support the pipelines. She played well to Albertans and to convention attendees with a carefully crafted speech that could have been written by the oil sands people. When Mulcair failed to call her out on the sham while trying to stay on the fence, he sealed his fate.

But they were both out of step with the Leap Manifesto. The manifesto was developed and strategized by the best in the party. It has the signatures of the Lewis clan and is a remarkable read. The NDP is a party built on manifestos. From the days of the Regina Manifesto, with its bitter and inflammatory language, the CCF and successor NDP have searched for the balance between a moral base and power.

The Leap Manifesto weaves a story. It starts with our responsibility to indigenous peoples and gently segues to the environment and then to social issues. There is nothing new or overreaching. It is a manifesto of nothing more than left of centre hopes.

When the manifesto comes to the floor for debate in the party’s 2018 policy and (likely) leadership convention, it could define the party for years to come. The new leader will have no choice but to make the manifesto his or hers.

While examining the forensic evidence around the shoot-out at the Edmonton Corral, another observation comes to mind. It looks as though we are seeing the end of union domination of the New Democrats. The party brain-trust is starting to see the future in social democrat colors.

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Copyright 2016 © Peter Lowry

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

Wandering in the wilderness with the NDP.

Thursday, March 17th, 2016

Leader Thomas Mulcair is hardly the only New Democrat with something to prove at the party’s Edmonton Convention April 9 to 10. Sure, he needs to justify his leadership but the real question is where Canada’s New Democratic Party is headed? It is obviously not the direction that Mulcair chose for the last federal election.

The party’s problem is that it has absolutely no idea where it should go. It has tried socialist leaders, unionist leaders, populist leaders and more recently opportunist leaders. And what success has been had? While there have been some briefly successful provincial leaders, there has been little encouragement federally—except for the brief surge that was called the Orange Wave.

The Orange Wave was not orchestrated by the NDP. It served to ensure a Conservative majority in the 2011 election. It was an opportunity for Stephen Harper to ward off the Liberal Party. If the Conservatives could not win in Quebec, Harper certainly did not want it to go to the Liberals. And it worked.

But losing Jack Layton was not the game plan. And why did Stephen Harper order an unprecedented state funeral for the Leader of the Opposition? He was trying to seal the fate of the now third-place Liberal Party.

The problem for the NDP was the “safe” choice of Thomas Mulcair to replace Layton. Mulcair’s experience was as a civil servant and as a cabinet minister with a right-of-centre Liberal government in Quebec. Why this background would prepare him to lead the federal NDP was not really clear to us observers.

While Mulcair made a name for himself as opposition leader in prosecuting the Harper Conservatives in the House of Commons, it was his failure in the 2015 election that surprised his party. The NDP were blind-sided when Mulcair took a position to the right of Trudeau’s Liberals. The Liberals were the risk takers, the social activists and the progressives and moved from a third place party to a majority government.

And where does that leave Mulcair and his New Democrats? Does the socialist caucus of the NDP take over? Does the party turn to someone such as MP Nathan Cullen from British Columbia and say “Show us a plan for the future of the party”?

There can be a role for the party as the conscience of parliament. There is also a role that it could play as the conscience of the Liberal Party. Either is important.

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Copyright 2016 © Peter Lowry

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

The blatant bigotry of the Hair.

Tuesday, October 6th, 2015

The Hair had the support of the Bloc’s Gilles Duceppe in promoting bigotry the other evening. In the last of the badly arranged debate sessions of the 2015 election, Canadians saw their prime minister backed by a separatist asking for votes from bigots. It was probably the most tragic display of the election and nothing was solved by it only being in French and on the ATV television network controlled by Péquiste Leader Pierre-Karl Péladeau’s Quebecor.

And the Hair could not find a more fertile audience for his bigotry. When you spend the longest political campaign in recent Canadian history pandering to this group or that group, the Hair could hardly forget the bigots. He must believe that they are all Conservative voters at heart.

He knows a bigot is basically a self-centred person, uncaring and opinionated. Bigots vote for whatever party offers them the most and panders to their prejudices.

The source of this in Quebec has been the long-held resentment by some less educated Quebeckers of the English speaking majority in the rest of Canada. Quebec politicians play on this anguish like a piano. They will say that this attitude or that statement puts down Quebeckers. More imagined than real, the provincial migraine mounts.

The Bloc Québécois took these attitudeds to the Canadian Parliament where they only served to hurt Quebec. Quebeckers almost shook off the Bloc in the last election by voting for Jack Layton’s Orange Wave. It was their bad luck that a traditional Quebec politician took over as the new leader of the NDP soon afterwards.

And now we have prejudice running rampant over a Muslim woman’s niqab. This is one of the most puerile arguments in Canadian political history. The fact that only two women out of the hundreds of thousands taking part in Canadian citizenship ceremonies recently have been so foolish as to want to cover their face makes the argument childish.

But the Hair and his ally Gilles Duceppe can make hay of it in Quebec. If the Hair cannot win Conservative seats in Quebec, he prefers the Bloc get them rather than the Liberals or New Democrats.

The only hope left in this election is that Quebeckers recognize that the greatest need is to get rid of the Hair and his Conservatives. With the rest of the country lining up with the Liberals to help rid us of the Hair, we could do with more Liberals elected in Quebec. There are good people to choose from.

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Copyright 2015 © Peter Lowry

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

Mulcair: Canada’s pseudo Johnny Appleseed.

Sunday, September 6th, 2015

Tom Mulcair’s role for Canada’s New Democrats seems to include wearing a forced smile and offering band-aid solutions to problems. Other than his strange arithmetic about day care, he is spreading seeds of programs rather than anything that might bear fruit in the foreseeable future. To most voters he remains an unknown, an enigma.

In trying to explain Tom Mulcair, you need to understand his background as a lawyer, a provincial Liberal Member of the National Assembly and as a federal New Democrat in Quebec. He was a prickly environmentalist in the Charest Liberal Government in Quebec and quit the cabinet when he accused Charest of demoting him.

When he won Outremont riding in Montreal for the NDP in a 2007 by-election, he became the only NDP MP from Quebec and Deputy Leader of the Party for Quebec.

It was 2011 when Thomas Mulcair was joined by another 58 newly-elected NDP MPs from Quebec. He was neither mentor, nor leader, nor inspiration to them. They were drawn in by Jack Layton and Tom Mulcair is no Jack Layton.

Where Mulcair did prove best was in his methodical and persistent prosecution of Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the House of Commons. The NDP Leader took his role as Leader of the Opposition seriously and he was relentless. This performance was wasted on the majority of Canadians but convinced the news media of his potential for more.

But why we would want a prosecutor as prime minister is a good question?

All Mulcair has proved in the first month of the election campaign is that he is not bothering to add up his promises and yet he is promising a balanced budget on which even Stephen Harper has gone silent.

The real irony of Mulcair’s campaign for the NDP is that it smacks of the confusion caused by Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath’s campaign last year that gave the Wynne Liberals a majority mandate. In trying to replace the Liberal Party’s traditional place in Canadian politics, Mulcair is campaigning further and further to the right of his rivals. He actually sounds like Stephen Harper in some of his more smarmy moments.

But as noted, Tom Mulcair is not Jack Layton. Layton was a socialist, posing as a populist. Tom Mulcair is a right-wing Quebec Liberal posing as a socialist-environmentalist, running as a concerned conservative.

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Copyright 2015 © Peter Lowry

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

Tommy trudges to the wrong tune.

Friday, July 31st, 2015

It is very funny reading the apologists for New Democrat Leader Thomas Mulcair. They claim he has Quebec in hand and now needs to win the rest of the country. That could be helpful if he could really rely on holding on to the Quebec seats won in Jack Layton’s Orange Wave. Tommy Mulcair is not Jack Layton.

Yet the New Democrat brain-trust tells Tom to paste a smile on his mug and go wow Ontario voters. It does not work that way. They forget that Mulcair is a born-again Quebec Liberal. That means he is much farther to the right politically than most of his NDP candidates. Another problem is that Ontario voters once tried a New Democrat government and did not like it.

And you would have to be really dumb not to know why the New Democrats took such a beating in the last Ontario provincial election. Tommy is making the same mistake as Provincial New Democrat Leader Andrea Horwath. She confused Ontario voters with her attempt at crowding the middle ground with the Liberals. She proved it did not work. Is the NDP brain-trust a bunch of one-way Johnys and Jills?

Another problem with Tommy is you really wonder if he is simplifying things so the voters will understand or do his handlers have to simplify things for him. His $15 day care might have meant something back when it was a Liberal plan but it is nowhere adequate in our large urban markets today. If Olivia Chow had any understanding of that portfolio, she would have hammered out a new concept with Tommy before heading for self-immolation in Spadina-Fort York electoral district.

Where Tommy is also running into trouble are the fatuous and undemocratic promises he is making. To shut down the Canadian Senate might be a popular idea but there is no way he can keep that promise unless he was elected God as well as Prime Minister. He knows very well that Quebec would never agree. It is like his assurances that he will change how we vote. Mixed Member Proportional voting that he is promising was the system rejected by Ontario voters in 2007 by a vote of two to one. Any change in how we vote really does need the approval of the voters first.

While the surprise win of the NDP in Alberta might be encouraging, there is no way the same scenario will go across the country. The Alberta Conservative Party and the further right-wing Wildrose Party duked it out and Notley’s NDP came through the middle while the provincial Liberals (without a leader) sat it out on the sidelines. That election was determined by factors quite different than this long-running federal election.

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Copyright 2015 © Peter Lowry

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

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.

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Copyright 2015 © Peter Lowry

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

Who leads Canada’s progressives?

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

Canadian media are a lazy bunch. They follow the paths of least resistance and false assumptions. Take this past week when some supposed progressives were gathered at the Broadbent Institute in Ottawa for its Progress Summit. The one question that was never answered was ‘Who were the Liberal Progressives at the gathering?’

Ed Broadbent never invited this progressive Liberal. Nor would this Liberal attend. This is not sour grapes. We know that Ed Broadbent is not progressive nor are the sponsors of the meeting. Ed Broadbent is a staunch unionist with a closed mind. He believes in the collective over the individual. He lives in the past.

More than a third of Canada’s union members are believed to vote Liberal. And as more and more unions move into the 21st Century, that number will grow. It is not that the unions are failing to support their members but they are recognizing their membership as individuals. Their strength as a union is in the individual initiatives of the members. The era of the ‘I’m alright Jack’ union is dead and gone.

Those Liberal apparatchiks who got into close combat with the urban New Democrats 30 to 40 years ago remember when what seemed solid CCF/NDP ridings swung wildly between the Conservatives and the supposed socialists. There was no transition through the Liberals who thought they were the middle ground. There was no middle ground. These voters were Conservative or NDP supporters and the Liberals were the traditional enemy. They started shifting en mass to the most likely non-Liberal solution.

Today’s New Democrats continue to change, more despite the Ed Broadbents than because of them. They are a melange of younger academics, environmentalists, the less progressive unions and a mixed battery of community activists. You would be hard pressed to define them as socialists and you would be in error to consider them progressives. The progressives were chased out of the party along with the radical Waffle some 30 years ago. Leaders such as Jack Layton were municipal activists and political populists.

And that leaves a guy like New Democrat Leader Thomas Mulcair in a bind. All he knows is what he learned as a Quebec style Liberal and he has some time under his belt as a frustrated but persistent opposition leader. All he has going for him is a very shaky base in Quebec from the now gone Orange Wave and an embattled Ontario wing. As a citizen of France as well as a Canadian citizen, his loyalty to Canada is going to be called into question during the campaign. That might be his mob out there but to lead, you really need to know where the mob wants to go.

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Copyright 2015 © Peter Lowry

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

Mr. Mulcair, you better not pout.

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

It looks like New Democrat Leader Thomas Mulcair got an early lump of coal from Santa last night. The orange surge in Quebec came up short and Tommy’s star candidate in Toronto did not make it. And it was the Liberals who benefitted from the anger with Prime Minister Harper in Manitoba.

But Tommy, why were you being such a rotten kid in Toronto? Why the nasty campaign against Freeland? Why not leave that kind of stuff to Harper and his Conservatives? They are much better at being mean and cruel. When they say something nasty about you, you know they mean every bit of it.

You had the best candidate in the Toronto-Centre contest. Linda McQuaig’s credentials on the side of the people are solid. Not to put down Chrystia Freeland but we know Linda far better. And we know her sincerity. Sure, Chrystia is probably just as smart but she has a ways to go in proving her left-of-centre political credentials.

If anything, Tommy, you held Linda back. You fettered a free spirit. You screwed up by approving the Enbridge pipeline through Toronto. It is probably a more dangerous threat to Torontonians than a load of bombs from a B17. It is an ecological disaster just waiting to happen. Linda could have ran with that and guaranteed her win in Toronto-Centre.

But you held her back. You never understood that all your knitty-picky prosecutorial stuff in the House of Commons over the Senate scandal was not reaching the voters. What you thought of as tenacious came through as terribly boring. What you really needed to do in Toronto-Centre was to attack Trudeau’s stance on issues. It was an opportunity for you to be heard. It actually just shows that your campaign people did not understand the demographics of the riding.

Meanwhile back in Bourassa electoral district in Montreal, you proved that you are no Jack Layton. Mind you, it is tough to emulate a myth. As do most myths, the late Leader of the New Democrats does not come out well under close scrutiny. The Orange Wave in Quebec was a one-time event in Quebec because the Bloc was crashing. All Jack Layton really did was hand Stephen Harper and his Conservatives an undeserved majority—and Canada will rue that for many years.

What comes out of the by-elections in Bourassa, Toronto-Centre, Brandon-Souris and Provencher is hope. Justin Trudeau has some growing to do but he has shown us that he can lead. In the upcoming federal policy meeting in Montreal, he has to come up with a strong left-of-centre people’s platform. Canada can ill-afford another right-of-centre government. He has to recognize that the middle class have to have a social agenda.

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Copyright 2013 © Peter Lowry

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

The beatification of Saint Jack.

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

The Roman church has a strict schedule for the creation of saints. It is a long and rigorous process. This process could severely try the patience of the New Democratic Party (NDP). There might also be some dispute between the church and the NDP as to what constitutes a miracle.

The NDP used to think of winning any parliamentary seat in Quebec as a miracle. Yet, there was no divine intervention in what happened in Quebec in the last federal election. Jack Layton happened to be standing at a crossroads in the province and got the advantage of it. The Conservatives were dead in the water and both the Bloc Québécois and the Federal Liberals were running on empty. Those parties had taken Quebec voters for granted for too long. It was the NDP’s turn to take them for granted.

It was also hardly a miracle when the largest circulation paper in Canada, the Toronto Star, stabbed the Liberal Party in the back and told people in Ontario that it was alright to vote NDP. The paper’s political pundits should have told the editorial writers that the net effect of their foolish ploy was to hand Stephen Harper a Conservative majority.

The two most telling moments of the 2011 federal election were in the English-language television debate between the major party leaders. The first was when you saw how Jack Layton responded to Stephen Harper. It was clear for all to see that there was no way an ill Jack Layton could handle Stephen Harper. The second was when Layton tried to knife Ignatieff on his attendance in the House of Commons. What was telling was Ignatieff’s complete surprise and inability to handle such a spurious and unfair attack.

Jack Layton was no saint. That was a straggling ‘Solidarity Forever’ march behind his casket at that public funeral. The oratory at the event was a lament for what might have been. Stephen Lewis’ eulogy was brilliant, in the tradition of Marc Antony for Julius Caesar. It was a similar call to arms for the mob.

Now we find that Layton’s burial place is to be a shrine. That clichéd, trite, over-written letter that was released after his death is supposed to be some sort of civics guide for school children. Thomas Mulcair has yet to wrest the leadership of his party from a ghost.

Those of us in other political parties who worked against Jack Layton in Toronto through various elections knew him as a strong opponent. When we won a tough one against him, it made the win sweeter.

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Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry

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