Posts Tagged ‘Jagmeet Singh’

Jagmeet’s first challenge.

Tuesday, February 13th, 2018

The new leader of Canada’s New Democratic Party (NDP) has been busier than you think. Taking his party’s leadership was Jagmeet Singh’s easiest task. His journeys around Canada since then have been to convince the party members that an observant Sikh does not have two heads and can also be an effective politician. Now he has an excellent opportunity to show that he can lead his party. This coming weekend at the party’s annual conference in Ottawa is his first serious challenge. He has a badly fractured party to heal and bring together.

Unique among Canada’s federal political parties, the NDP is based on its provincial organizations. Two of these provincial bodies are at war. The B.C. and Alberta parties are well past the nasty names phase. This is a war over the delivery of bitumen to tidewater and you best not to get between protagonists in that war.

And this battle will not stay in the west. The entire party will want to take sides. The LEAP Manifesto, which is a problem in its own right, will be the battle flag for the anti-bitumen warriors.

The person watching the closest to see what Jagmeet Singh does in this situation will be Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. He is caught up in the same war. Jagmeet’s only advantage is that he has yet to take a stand. The prime minister has already had his cabinet approve the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

Trudeau’s minister of natural resources has proposed new safeguards for our coastal waters and his environment minister has backstopped with more promises of environmental protection—to little avail.

The last thing that Trudeau really wants to do is to enforce the federal government’s powers to make the Trans-Mountain expansion happen. That would cost him most of his Liberal MPs in B.C. in the 2019 election. He can expect no offsetting gains in Alberta.

What Jagmeet needs is a solution that would stop the squabbling in his own party. He has been travelling in selected areas of Canada to ensure that he has the support within the NDP to even address the problem.

He now has an excellent opportunity to show his party that an effective politician can also solve the bitumen war.

We should all wish Jagmeet Singh well in this opportunity.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

The NDP and the LEAP liability.

Tuesday, February 6th, 2018

This is unbelievable. The New Democratic Party is having a convention in mid February and we hear the LEAP Manifesto seems to be the selected song book. Not only is the document two years older but it was out of date when introduced in Edmonton to the consternation of the Alberta NDP. It was not helpful in building solidarity. And if the NDP even wants a future, the party has to come to some clear understanding of the party’s purpose.

There have been many false starts for the NDP over the years. There was the socialist start to Tommy Douglas’ Prairie-based Cooperative Commonwealth Federation and then the union-based NDP that David Lewis took into the 70s. Always the bridesmaid, Jack Layton introduced the populism the party needed at the turn of the century. Where a devout Sikh wants to take the party has yet to be determined.

But LEAP is not a direction. It is naïve. It has some of the same thought as Donald Trump’s populism. It even takes the same xenophobic stand on trade agreements. It seeks nirvana without the hard work involved. It offers handouts without considering the cost involved. It treats our first nations people as deserving wards of the state.

And please do not bring us the populism of America’s Bernie Sanders. He lost to Hillary Clinton but helped Trump take her down. As remarkable as Bernie’s drive for the Democratic nomination might have been, he failed to understand the effects of his campaign.

The cost-conscious NDP are not even bringing in the A-team speakers from America and the United Kingdom to help make their case. Mind you, anyone who wants to listen to the blokes who are set on destroying all the value the U.K. built while in the European Union are wasting their time. There is one word that explains why the Brexit vote happened. It is ‘bigotry.’

But neither Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders nor Brit Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn have anything to tell you about how to achieve what you really want from your party. It is obvious that you want power. You must be tired of standing outside the wrought iron fences around Canada’s parliament buildings. You want a crack at running things.

I think you need a purpose first and then you can make a plan.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Our leaders need to ‘man up.’

Sunday, February 4th, 2018

It is unlikely that in this era of #MeToo that we can find many men willing to stick their neck out—or any other body part, for that matter. It is just that the we are getting into the realms of ridiculousness with some of today’s witch (or more accurately, warlock) hunts. Our political leaders are starting to look like a bunch of wusses in their eagerness to ruin careers needlessly.

And they are all to blame. It was when New Democrat Leader Jagmeet Singh called for an investigation of charges coming second-hand from another MP, that we really hit the depth. How dare Singh use such flimsy evidence to besmirch the character of someone he has not worked with in parliament?

And ‘Chuckles’ Scheer is just as ridiculous. Chuckles wants someone to investigate a former MP. Why? If the guy (former MP Rick Dyskstra) is no longer in parliament, what business is it of the leader of the Conservative Party? This problem came up under Stephen Harper’s watch. Would you also like to investigate Sir John A. McDonald’s boozing on the job?

And who made Justin Trudeau chief hall monitor for this kindergarten on the Rideau? We hardly need a blue-stocking feminist policing MPs. It is nowhere in the job description. If an MP embarrasses himself and his party, the leader can kick him out of caucus. Until then, the leader should butt out.

Once, many years ago, when leaving the Parliament buildings on a Wednesday evening, I gave a couple older liberal ladies I knew from a neighboring riding in Toronto a lift to the airport. Wednesdays in Ottawa were known as Wonderful Wednesdays at the time. It was an evening off for MPs and what ‘Chuckles’ does not worry about after eight, got started early. We happened to drive past two very friendly couples on the sidewalk and too late I realized the males were the ladies’ MP and a well-known senior aide.

As I explained to the MP the next time I saw him, he might get some glares at his next meeting with his riding executive. I could not convince those two women that he and his friend were just making sure those two young ladies got to their car safely. I at least got them laughing about it.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

The Lion proposes to his Princess.

Saturday, January 20th, 2018

We read that it was the Tenth Sikh Guru Gobind Singh, who determined that Sikh men could identify as Singh (lion) and Sikh women as Kaur (princess). This happened more than 300 years ago and was all in aid of getting rid of the caste system for Sikhs and asserting the equality of women. It is why, with the upcoming marriage of Jagmeet Singh to Girkiran Kaur Sidhu, the leader of Canada’s New Democratic Party and his wife will probably want to keep their own names.

But despite it being a Sikh ceremony, it is all very political. There are just too many problems with an unmarried political party leader. If you do not have to face the rumours and innuendoes about a politician’s sexuality, you can concentrate on the more important issues.

When you consider the provincial Conservative leaders in Alberta and Ontario, you can understand the problem. Nobody really cares about the sexual choices of Jason Kenney, who is now the leader of Alberta’s United Conservatives. His record is clear as a social Conservative and there have been enough claims about the misogyny of him and his circle that it is hard to understand why any woman would want to support him.

Observing Ontario Conservative Leader Patrick Brown while he was in Ottawa and representing us here in Barrie, I think his problem is that women do not seem to like him. He is also a social conservative and has voted to re-open arguments about abortion and against same-sex marriage. He does not appear comfortable talking to women and they seem to rapidly lose interest in him.

Jagmeet Singh is quite different. With an outgoing personality and as a devout Sikh, he would probably be considered a very good catch for a Sikh lady. His ‘princess’ also looks like the perfect spouse for a politician. She is a successful fashion designer and appears to wear her designs well.

Jagmeet is already a hero to younger Sikhs because of his days as an extreme wrestler as well as being a successful lawyer before going into provincial politics in Ontario. He has yet to win election though to the House of Commons and take his place in parliament as NDP leader.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Brought to you by Bollywood?

Wednesday, December 27th, 2017

In reviewing the three leaders of the major political parties in Canada, we came up with what we consider the key question for Jagmeet Singh: Why? What is the new leader of the New Democratic Party out to prove? Was his taking the leadership of the National NDP just a Bollywood production?

First of all, he did not win the leadership. He took it. It was there to take and he did. He watched the contest for a while and picked his time to jump in. He won the leadership by simply swamping the existing membership of the New Democrats in British Columbia and Ontario. He did not want to discuss policy with the more knowledgeable leadership hopefuls and did not bother. Jagmeet Singh took the leadership by saying the least.

In a party bereft of leadership, Jagmeet offers none. In a party lacking direction, he has no idea of where it should head. He knows that the LEAP Manifesto is a formula for controversy. And the Regina Manifesto only mirrors the past. The NDP have nowhere to go and, frankly, nobody to take the party there, anyway.

But can a leader, selected by the Sikh communities across Canada, offer Canadians a future? The Sikh community has come late to this party. In the 1980s and 1990s there were many swamped party riding associations that put a steady series of back benchers from various ethnic groups in parliament and provincial legislatures. It not only did not work but it hurt our democracy. The answer to the problem arrived at in Ottawa was to break with democratic practice and have the party leader sign-off on who could be candidates for the party.

But there is no one to sign off on the selection of party leaders. That is why Jagmeet Singh, then a member of the legislature, was able to watch an Ontario Member of Parliament use some of Jagmeet’s fellow Sikhs to win the Ontario Progressive Conservative leadership in 2015. Patrick Brown had made many trips at taxpayer expense to the Indian sub-continent to establish connections for the attempt. He found the paths to signing-up thousands of Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims who have immigrated to Ontario. Who paid the memberships for as many as 40,000 of these people so new to Ontario is still in question?

For Jagmeet to use the same connivance as a putz such as Conservative Patrick Brown should embarrass his party. It does not seem to embarrass Jagmeet Singh.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

This Lone Ranger wears a skirt.

Sunday, December 17th, 2017

You have to admit the lady has guts. Alberta Premier Rachel Notley has the nerve and verve that denies her gender. She is tough and even when she is wrong she is unwavering. She does Alberta proud but rides the range alone.

The daughter of a former New Democratic Party leader, Ms. Notley defies the odds and takes her fight for her province from coast to coast. In British Columbia she is facing the determination of that province’s NDP government to block expansion of the Kinder-Morgan TransMountain pipeline.

What the American pipeline company is considering is actually the conversion of the present pipeline and adding a second pipe so that both lines can take almost three times the diluted bitumen to the west coast port of Burnaby. The only problem is whether investors think that there is future for the project. No one is anticipating any substantive increase in the price of oil in the near future and few are betting on ersatz oil that is only gained at excessive cost in terms of pollution.

While Toronto financial people will listen to her, Toronto is the home of the NDP members who produced the LEAP Manifesto. They are not so polite. They think bitumen has to be left in the ground. For her to take on an NDP audience in Toronto would not be a friendly chat.

And to add to the party problems, the Greater Toronto Area is the home area of the new national NDP leader, Jagmeet Singh. While he is trying desperately to stay clear of Notley’s quest, it is an awkward dance. He cannot get people to believe that there is no need for him to take a stand.

Singh is well aware of the criticism Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has already taken among Liberals for being in favour of the Kinder-Morgan proposal. While Trudeau can try to hide behind a supposedly emancipated National Energy Board, he deserves the anger of those who believed him as a poster boy for the environment.

When neither her own national leader nor the prime minister wants to be seen with Rachel Notley, she looks like a lonely lone ranger.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Rachel wants you on her side.

Saturday, November 25th, 2017

Do you feel threatened by Alberta Premier Rachel Notley? It seems the lady can scare anyone who gets in her way. Right now, she is in a rage against people who think pipelines for bitumen are bad for the environment. You either ride the bitumen bus with Rachel or she might throw you under it.

You almost feel sorry for Conservative fixer and party leader Jason Kenney who thinks his new united conservatives are going to take over Dodge. Kenney and Notley remind us of that old Bob Hope/Dorothy Lamour movie Buttons and Bows. Remember that old song: “Don’t bury me in this Prairie. Take me where the cement grows.”

Notley is hardly insensitive to the environmental concerns but wants them put on the back burner until her province’s tar sands exploiters can get some money for their stuff that can be turned into ersatz oil.

But if those people trying to turn a buck out of the tar sands are expecting crude oil to go back to selling at $100 a barrel, they might have a long wait.

And even if the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline eventually gets finished down to the Texas Gulf ports, there will be no profit for Alberta in whatever bitumen that gets shipped to countries that do not care about the extreme pollution levels.

Notley has been selling anyone who will listen on the federally approved Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain twinned pipelines for bitumen. Her pitch is that partisan blinders are getting in the way. She believes that environmental protection cannot come before jobs for people.

And yet she tries to get Conservatives in Ottawa and back home in Alberta to understand that climate change is real. At the same time, she is encouraging Justin Trudeau to get his troops to stand up for Alberta. So far, the only people applauding that suggestion are the Conservatives.

Notley’s new federal leader is proving to be as big a problem as the British Columbia NDP. She tells federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh that his interference in the pipeline question is irrelevant and that he needs to stick to future concerns of the party.

One day, Notley is going to notice that she is the only one making all these foolish claims. It is about time for her to find better pursuits for Alberta capitalists than trying to cash in on coal and bitumen that are better off left in the ground.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

The Surrender of Socialism.

Monday, November 20th, 2017

For what began as a socialist dream on the Prairies during the Great Depression, the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) and its successor New Democratic Party (NDP) have seen little success on the federal sphere in Canada. The party might now be moving into its twilight.

Unlike the pattern of the Conservative and Liberal parties, the CCF/NDP have been based on the party’s provincial organizations. (We will stick with the federal situation today and discuss the rifts between the provincial organizations at another time.)

The major problems the federal party is faced with today are the related problems of policies and leadership. This is a party without direction. From the extremes of the LEAP Manifesto to the environmental blindfold of the party leadership in Alberta, the party tears itself apart daily. The overly long election period of the 2015 election exposed the party and its leadership as lacking direction and policies. That election was a down-hill slide.

The party then worked at cross purposes to itself at the Edmonton convention that fired Tom Mulcair as leader. The very fact that the man would honor his commitment to leading the party in the House of Commons spoke volumes for his character.

It is the character of Jagmeet Singh that is the most serious question mark today. It makes you seriously wonder about a man who would use his religious group to take over his political party. There is a big difference between using that affinity for support and using it to swamp the ‘others’ in the party organization.

And how much better is Jagmeet Singh than Ontario Conservative Leader Patrick Brown who used Sub-Continent immigrants to swamp the existing membership of his provincial party?

Sikh names have been prominent in Canadian immigration since records started being kept in the 1800s. Today, there are more than 450,000 people in Canada identifying themselves as Sikh. There are large numbers of Sikhs in British Columbia and Ontario. They are free to support a fellow Sikh but you have to question if Jagmeet Singh could possibly have won without them?

What Jagmeet did not prove in taking over his party is that he has broad appeal outside his religious community. And why would you trust it? I have been told that a Sikh does not have to leave his hair uncut and wear a turban to be a Sikh. Is Jagmeet testing Canadian tolerance?

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

The despotism of First-Past-the-Post?

Sunday, November 12th, 2017

One of our favourite political bloggers wrote a desperate ‘cri de Coeur’ the other day against what he perceives as the despotism of first-past-the-post (FPTP) voting. He lives on Canada’s Left Coast and writes under the pseudonym ‘The Mound of Sound.’ Rather than simply refuting his assertions, I think it is important to find the source of his anguish.

To begin, there is his suggestion that 40 per cent support in FPTP voting can make any leader a despot. (Even Donald Trump needed the undemocratic Electoral College system to win the U.S. presidency.) We Canadians had a special House committee on electoral reform brought forward by the Trudeau Liberals. It was made up from all parties and spent a summer listening to submissions and writing a report on alternatives to FPTP voting. You know their conclusion. No change was made.

FPTP is not evil. It has worked for the people for hundreds of years. And if you want a real headache, check out how the Roman Republic elected its tribunes. One of the reasons to appreciate FPTP is that it is one of the most difficult systems of voting to cheat.

Maybe it is the simplicity of FPTP that turns off some intellectuals. If it is that simple, it has got to be wrong?

If your objection to FPTP is based on the ability of someone to win with less than 50.1 per cent of the vote—then fight for run-off elections. That is still much simpler and more democratic than other suggestions. You should not be enticed by preferential voting—it is not the same.

But before you demand change in how we vote, do you not think we should widen our outlook? Should we not take a look at the basics of our democracy—our political parties? Is it right for the Sikh community in Canada to swamp the membership of the federal New Democrats on behalf of that party’s new leader? Was that misogynistic and corrupted campaign in Alberta the way to choose a new Conservative leader for Alberta? Was it right for Brown in Ontario to buy the memberships for tens of thousands of immigrants to be the choice of Ontario Conservatives?

And does it surprise you to learn that the federal Conservatives and Liberals are funded from the same purses? What makes you think either party is run in a democratic fashion?

Before we have a liberal democracy in Canada we need liberal democratic parties. We have much work to do.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

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