Posts Tagged ‘Jagmeet Singh’

Singing a sad song for Singh.

Wednesday, December 5th, 2018

What is the world coming to? Here we have a die-hard conservative such as Jaime Watt in Toronto commiserating with the new democrats over the bad choices of NDP leader Jagmeet Singh. Watt was telling us in a Toronto Star opinion piece that he was expecting liberal MP Rag Grewal to actually resign when he said he would last week and thought that might be a better seat for Singh to swing. Which only goes to show us that Watt might not understand liberals or new democrats.

First of all, Mr. Grewal tells us he is a gambler. And obviously, he is not a very lucky one. Almost a year more of drawing an MP’s salary could be a practical consideration for him. He might decide not to resign.

And despite Mr. Watt’s cavalier dismissal of Jagmeet’s commitment to the Burnaby South electoral district out in British Columbia, he might not want to appear fickle. Plus, scurrying back to Brampton would be a sign of weakness.

And, frankly, Jagmeet’s strongest opponent in Burnaby might be the Green Party candidate. The conservatives and the liberals are both committed to the twinning of the Trans Mountain pipeline and Burnaby voters might have some suggestions as to where they can stuff their pipeline and the diluted bitumen it is planned to carry.

Mind you, it is not quite clear why Mr. Watt would be so concerned about the collapse of the new democrat leadership as the 2019 election looms. It would almost seem that he is concerned that without a strong NDP presence next fall, that the liberals will gather to themselves much more of the progressive vote.

Maybe Mr. Watt should be more concerned about the inroads into the far-right vote of the conservatives by Maxime Bernier and his People’s Party of Canada.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Complacency is Justin Trudeau’s enemy.

Monday, December 3rd, 2018

With a federal election ten months away, we can ignore all polls. They tell us little. It reminds me of the first party campaign in which I was involved. It was in 1964. My friend Charles Templeton was working for the Toronto Star and agreed when I and others asked him to make the jump into provincial politics to enter the contest to choose a new leader for the Ontario Liberal Party.

Along with the work we were doing at the time on the province-wide leadership campaign, we were advised to show some electoral strength by running in a by-election in Toronto-Broadview. It had been liberal but the main opponent was the new democrat. To this day, I remember the statement an old hand made to the candidate early on election day: “Chuck, you have run a strong, traditional campaign. Now it is up to the voters.” We lost and I made a vow to never again take part in a traditional campaign.

Campaigns are about the images created by candidates and leaders. They are about the concerns and hopes of the voters. The winning campaign in that by-election matched the concerns and hopes of the voters with their party’s direction.

And I think that will be Justin Trudeau’s failure next fall. In 2015, the liberals offered the change that the voters wanted. They can hardly offer the same change in 2019.

What Trudeau desperately needs to run on is a coherent vision of Canada’s future. His feminism has become annoying. His dress-up trip to India was an embarrassment. He has not stood up to Donald Trump. What are the benefits to Canadians of all these meetings with world leaders? And why is an environmentalist buying an old pipeline to move that stuff from the Alberta tar sands to ocean tankers?

Justin Trudeau can hardly count on the weakness of his opposition. Both the conservative’s Andrew Scheer and the new democrat’s Jagmeet Singh might be hard to visualize in the prime minister’s office but we have been surprised before.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Singh sings a sorrowful song.

Friday, November 2nd, 2018

New democrat leader Jagmeet Singh is not getting too much respect these days. And when he is not getting much respect from his own party; there is no reason for him to expect more from Justin Trudeau. The liberal prime minister had to call a by-election in Ontario the other day because time had run out. He did not call any of the three upcoming by-elections that he can leave to March.

But, for whatever reason Singh is now feeling pressured to get into the House of Commons, Trudeau is in no hurry to accommodate him.

When Singh swamped his party’s membership in 2017 with Sikh memberships to take the leadership, he seemed in no hurry to win a seat in the House. His agenda seemed to be a leisurely series of travels across the country to press the flesh and introduce himself—and also to get married. His only action of note in Ottawa was to remove one of his MPs, Erin Weir of Saskatchewan, from the party caucus for accusations of harassment.

Instead of looking like a fair and determined leader, Singh came out of it looking like he had been used.

The MP has claimed that the harassment charges were used against him as a form of political retaliation.

This leaves sad-sack Singh sitting on the sidelines in Ottawa and not feeling the love from his own party let alone the government party and Her Majesty’s loyal opposition.

At best, if he could get elected in the Spring, Singh could anticipate only as much as four to six weeks in the House before the summer recess. The phony election campaign will sputter along at the summer barbeques before the real election being called in September.

And if Singh is worried about any more problems being caused by the liberal prime minister, he should worry about there not being a liberal running against him in the by-election in Burnaby South. If the liberals bow out of that by-election, the conservatives will slice and dice Singh and he will be a lame duck trying to save the party from a complete wipe-out in all but a few electoral districts in the fall.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

The sinking ship Singh.

Sunday, October 7th, 2018

Taking a positive stance when your chief of staff quits, can be delaying the inevitable. It happened to federal new democrat leader Jagmeet Singh the other day and all he could do was gain a little time. The truth was that the federal NDP needed to keep his chief-of-staff and dump Singh.

But Singh must first understand the difficulty of his position.

Canada has been welcoming to Sikh immigrants since the 1800s. As Canadians, Sikhs have joined professions, academia and created new businesses. They are industrious and care about how we govern ourselves. They know that ‘raghead’ is not a sobriquet but they hear little of that ignorant racism in a society of so many newcomers.

But it does tend to encourage clustering. Living near others who attend the same temple is a reassurance in a land far from that of your childhood. There is a defiance to be seen among the observant of the second and third generations of Canadian Sikhs. Nobody cares very much if the observant and their 5-Ks want to stand out in our secular society. It is their choice and nobody need criticize.

But—and there is always a ‘but’—there are barriers that it can create. Jagmeet Singh has the same opportunity for election as prime minister as a Muslim woman in a burqa or a Hasidic with his dreadlocks. You can hardly expect the bulk of society to understand the why of these differences. They are seen as barriers to wide acceptance.

And that was what Jagmeet Singh did not understand when he encouraged the Sikh communities in Canada to swamp the membership of the NDP and win him the party leadership. What he did not understand was that he could easily count on his fellow Sikh Canadians to support him but it was his acceptance by Canadians of all backgrounds that was the critical test.

There is much to admire in the character of the man who has worked tirelessly over the past year to lead his party forward. The problem is that he has not been in the commons where he could be seen as a leader. Donations to the party have fallen off in a time when reserves are needed.

Fleeing to British Columbia to find a possibly safe seat for a by-election could be the final mistake.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

“Once more unto the breach, my friends…”

Friday, September 21st, 2018

The Hordes are at the gates of Castle Liberal on the Rideau and William Shakespeare, once more has appropriate words at the ready. With a year left of his tattered mandate, prime minister Justin Trudeau had best take the advice of Henry V and plug the breach with his dead and soldier on.

And speaking of soldering, you might be wondering how soon we will be dusting-off the Highway of Heroes for the casualties of his ill-considered and ill-fated peace-keeping expedition to the Sahara Desert?

Like most of his political problems, Justin creates them for himself. A good example was his promise in 2015 hat it would be the last time voters would use first-past-the-post voting. He disappointed a few people with that one.

He did the same with assisted dying. The bill was so watered down by the time it passed, that not even many of the dying were pleased.

And while he might have helped some families and the theoretical middle class over his term, he has ignored seniors. They vote too.

And while some people think he has stood firm with U.S. president Trump, his stance is really something more like petrified. He has absolutely no understanding of how to handle that child-man. Judging by their relative ages, he might hope to outlast him.

There are two things that really griped this commentator: In Trudeau’s desperate attempt to feel some love from Alberta, he has spent $4.7 billion of public money on a pipeline to serve the greed of one province.

And by completing the planned twinning of the line, he will be making a farce of all his promises and all our hopes for the world environment.

At the same time, Trudeau has been destroying the federal liberal party. There are no memberships in to-day’s liberal party. He has turned the party lists into an unequivocal sucker list. This list is held above the law and nobody has any guarantee of its privacy. Can you believe that you get better protection on Facebook?

But, it should be pointed out that Justin Trudeau has help going into next year’s trials. They are Andrew ‘Chuckles’ Scheer and Jagmeet Singh. They are the leaders of Canada’s conservative and new democratic parties respectively. They have both shown themselves inadequate to the task before them. Their parties need leadership.

Justin Trudeau needs to be challenged.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

On second thought Mr. Singh.

Saturday, September 15th, 2018

He has no other to blame than himself. Jagmeet Singh sought to lead the federal new democrats and where has he taken them? Has the party advanced during his tenure of the past year? Are more Canadians offering dues, fealty, funds and support to the party? What new programs, policies, promises has the party proposed? What is nirvana for Singh’s socialists?

And where do you go from here Mr. Singh?

Will a by-election in Burnaby South save Singh? Despite the electoral district being held last by new democrat MP Kennedy Stewart, who has resigned to run for Mayor of Vancouver, it is by no means a safe NDP seat. There are probably many there who thought Singh sat too long on the fence between the Alberta and B.C. NDP parties’ pipeline battles.

One thing for sure, neither the conservatives not liberals are about to give Singh a free pass. It has been a long-established custom for the major parties to not contest a party leader seeking a seat in the Commons. It is a courtesy that has been forgotten in the heat of the arguments about the Kinder Morgan pipeline from Alberta. Only the Green’s have given Singh a pass since his new-found resolve to fight the pipeline.

But that is a single issue and nobody knows where else the NDP stand today. Past leader Tom Mulcair took the party to the right in the last federal election and nobody knows much about Singh’s philosophy. Where Singh wants to take the party is still a mystery.

Part of the problem is that Singh won the NDP leadership vote because of all the Sikhs in B.C. and Ontario who joined the party. Whether the immigrant sign-ups swamped the existing sign ups, we were not told. All we got was the announcement that Singh won on the first ballot.

That win might be a cautionary tale as Ontario leader (briefly) Brown was himself able to swamp the low-tide membership of the Ontario progressive conservatives. With his links to Indian sub-continent immigrants in Ontario, his 40,000 sign-ups were able to swamp the dismal membership of the Tories.

On top of the open rebellion by MPs and MLAs in Saskatchewan over the Weir ouster, there could be a party-wide call for Jagmeet Singh’s scalp if he loses the by-election in Burnaby South. It probably would not help but they might feel better after dumping Singh.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Left is the lonely lane.

Saturday, September 8th, 2018

I have never felt so alone in politics. The left, the progressive, the social democrat is a dying breed. Even the federal New Democratic Party is struggling with fund raising and direction as it sluggishly moves to the right. All political parties have felt the shifting of the sands.

But, when you have no idea where you are going, what is the price of a ticket?

Where is Justin Trudeau taking Canadian liberalism? He has traded in his father’s progressivism for a cult of elitism and personality. The younger Trudeau’s worshipful followers allow him carte blanche to turn a party of the ideas and idealism of his patrimony into a willing parade of sycophants.

Where does Trudeau think he is going with his pipeline of pollution from the tar sands? He wants to be the poster boy for environmentalism and yet he betrays all that he has proclaimed.

And why can he not stand up to a person such as Donald Trump? There is no admiration in Canada for Trump Quislings. Trump is but a nascent dictator in a battle to the death with an inept Congress.

Yet, leadership is also in limited supply across Canada these days. The natural alternative party boasts a caretaker leader, struggling with a caustic caucus. ‘Chuckles’ Scheer spells nothing other than missed chances for the country’s real conservatives.

At the same time, the party of Tommy Douglas is crumbling. They dumped a leader whose only fault was he was older than Justin Trudeau. With the help of an influx of Sikh members, they opted for an observant Sikh to lead them. He chose not to enter parliament on the tails of the publicity, and he was soon forgotten. With a leader unable to be noticed and a party unable to raise needed funds, the federal new democrats have failed themselves and failed Canadians.

But nature hates a vacuum of any kind and it is in the provinces we are seeing the real leadership struggles. B.C. teeters with a precarious minority government that is fighting a fellow NDP regime in Alberta and the federal government. Saskatchewan and Ontario have joined to defy a federal carbon tax. And Quebec oddsmakers are touting a provincial regime further to the right than before.

They leave no home or hope for those who deny the corporatism of fascism as vast companies defy the incoherence of mere nations. There is little hope for those of us who put the needs of people ahead of the right-wing populists who say they are “For the People.”

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Can Singh sing a new song in Burnaby?

Thursday, August 9th, 2018

It is now confirmed that new democratic party leader Jagmeet Singh will try for a seat in the House of Commons this fall. The facts are that the guy has not drawn a salary for over a year now. He has gotten married and he might need a couple new bespoke suits. He could have possibly run in Montreal in Tom Mulcair’s old seat of Outremont or a formerly conservative-held seat in Grenville-Dundas-Thousand Islands in Ontario, but he has decided the safest seat is in South-Burnaby in British Columbia.

But while that might be the safest seat for an NDP, Singh had to finally come out against the Trans Mountain pipeline. It was the end of sitting on the fence between premier John Horgan’s BC NDP and premier Rachel Notley’s Alberta NDP.

South-Burnaby voters will likely have a clear choice. No liberal has been selected yet but whoever runs for the government party will be standing on Justin Trudeau’s shoulders. The greens and conservatives might as well stand back and let the liberals and NDP have at it! This will be a referendum on the newly government-owned Trans Mountain pipeline. The $7 to $11 billion enhancement project is designed to bring more of the Alberta tar sands products to Burnaby for loading on ocean tankers.

The only reason Kennedy Stewart is not representing the seat is that he is in the running for mayor of Vancouver. In Vancouver, they do not have party politics in the traditional Canadian manner. The current election pits the progressives against the combined conservatives and right-wing liberals.

My bet is on Stewart for mayor of that wonderful city.

South-Burnaby is considered to be one of the most ethnically diverse electoral districts in Canada, competing with many ridings in Toronto for that distinction. Prime minister Trudeau remains very strong in ethnically diverse areas and that alone could make this by-election a toss-up.

The one thing that Singh might not be prepared for in this situation is to lose. And he could. The ethnic make-up of the electoral district is only listed as 16 per cent south Asian and Sikhs are only a part of that group. It will be an interesting test of Singh’s appeal to other ethnic groups. Singh will also be considered an eastern carpetbagger who will not have any long-term interest in the people there.

Jagmeet Singh might be biting off too much.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

You get what you pay for.

Sunday, July 8th, 2018

It comes as a surprise to learn that the new democrats across Canada are a bunch of paupers. We are told that they are not paying Jagmeet Singh for his work as leader of the party. He is unelected and therefore not being paid from the public purse either. It does not seem right.

How long does the party think he can keep going without money? Those bespoke suits and colorful hair coverings are not free. The guy has an image to maintain and the party is not helping.

Members of parliament in Canada are paid about $175,000 in base salary and earn more for committee work outside of regular house attendance. This would have been a nice bump from his previous pay of around $125,00 as deputy leader of the NDP at Queen’s Park

Jagmeet also has a reputation to maintain as the best-dressed NDP in Canada He also has his reputation among Canadian Sikhs to consider. The Sikh community might not like it if everyone started to think that Sikhs do not need to earn money.

Besides he is getting married sometime soon and he is expected to keep his ‘princess’ in the manner to which she would like to be accustomed.

But instead of being tied down with parliamentary duties in Ottawa, Jagmeet is a free agent able to travel back and forth across the country beating the drum for the NDP. I guess his intent is to spread the word for socialism—as practised by the NDP. I am sure he does not need to pass an alms bowl around the union halls to pay for his supper as we hear the party at least pays his expenses.

Frankly, and not to criticize Jagmeet, we are wondering if this is really paying off for the party? It looks like the party vote bottomed at the recent bye-election in Quebec. This might or might not have anything to do with Jagmeet’s leadership or religion. This is a judgement call that can only be made from the midst of the bye-election.

But it will be time to fish or cut bait next year. The upcoming federal election in 2019 will tell us about the success or failure of the Jagmeet experience. The hypocrisy of the Trudeau liberals and their Trans Mountain pipeline is not going to help them in B.C. or even Alberta and the new democrats are the only party that could come out well on both sides of the issue.

There is also opportunity for the NDP across the country. Whether Jagmeet is the leader to take advantage of it, remains the question.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Some truths for Jagmeet Singh.

Thursday, June 21st, 2018

New democratic party leader Jagmeet Singh learned some truths in a federal bye-election this week. It was in Quebec and political truths can be particularly brutal in that province. It was the truth that the Orange Wave in Quebec in 2011 was a one-time thing. It was the truth that religion does matter. It was the truth that an observent Sikh might not be a popular choice to lead a political party in Canada.

And the most serious truth of all is that Jagmeet Singh misjudged Canadians. In the cultural mosaics of Ontario and British Columbia, in the liberal polyglot of cultures and in the concentrations of a few electoral districts with large numbers of Sikhs, Jagmeet Singh thought he saw acceptance.

He was wrong. There are differences between tolerance and acceptance. It is the tolerance that allows for acceptance. Acceptance is a long-term goal. It sometimes takes generations. It is in the understanding of other’s customs, the melding of ideas, of setting objectives. It is in the promotion of similarities and the gradual fading of differences. There is no fixed Canadian ideal. There are just shared values.

Even in Quebec, which some try to keep different, the shared values are there. All Canadians have a level of pride in the French and English heritage of the dominion. We can all have pride in our particular heritage as well as our collective heritage.

What it comes down to is that Jagmeet Singh was wrong to swamp the NDP provincial organizations in B.C. and Ontario with Sikh sign-ups. As proud as the Sikh communities in Canada are of the accomplishments of fellow Sikh Jagmeet, they were also wrong to assume that their choice would be readily accepted by all party members or by the voters.

Jagmeet’s failure to seek election to the House of Commons and his failure to show strong leadership has left him in limbo. How does he expect voters to accept him?

This is not a country that uses proportional representation to divide people and where Hassidim vote for Hassidim and Baptists vote for Baptists. A member of parliament has to represent all the voters in a given electoral district. An MP’s religion has to be irrelevant to his or her voters. It is the experience, party, ideas, services, loyalty, understanding and leadership that they want. Jagmeet’s Five Ks of Sikhism are little understood and unimportant to his non-Sikh voters.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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