Posts Tagged ‘Jagmeet Singh’

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

Standing with BC’s John Horgan.

Saturday, April 14th, 2018

It is a memory from many years ago that sticks with you. It is this time of year. After being awakened by the sweeps rowers training on the harbour, you walk to downtown Vancouver from the Bayshore Inn, along streets lined with cherry blossoms in full bloom.

You drink in the wonderful freshness of the air off the Straits of Georgia. There is the warming sun on your face. You can still see the snow high atop the North Shore Mountains. Is this not a city to love?

British Columbia premier John Horgan would agree with that. We easterners might laughingly refer to it as Canada’s left coast but B.C. is a province of great beauty, industrious people and makes us proud.

And, somehow, there must be an answer to the current argument with Alberta. I suggested recently that we really need someone without a horse in the race to adjudicate between the premiers of Alberta and B.C. My suggestion was that it was about time for recently elected NDP leader Jagmeet Singh to show us what he can do.

Instead, we are expected to get prime minister Trudeau. He is cutting short his meetings in Lima, Peru to get back to Canada and meet with the two warring premiers.

The problem is that this is just two ganging up on one. Premier Sharon Notley of Alberta and the prime minister are equally committed to getting the pipeline expansion completed. There is nobody at the table capable of determining if there is a middle ground. There is no way to equalize. There is no way to compensate any party.

Advantage is obviously to the prime minister and Ms. Notley. And what does B.C. get but the thrills of the spills? And with three times the giant tankers in Burrard Inlet, you ask when, not if.

This is one problem that Justin Trudeau cannot solve with some selfies. There is nobody to charm.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Has anybody seen Jagmeet?

Wednesday, April 11th, 2018

This is becoming ridiculous. The New Democratic Party of Canada has to have some leadership. Without leadership, it is going to become the forgotten party and the efforts of many fine people over the last 80 years will be wasted. The party can hardly continue as present with no leadership, no direction and no clear vision of the future for Canada.

No, I am not a party member. It is just that as a progressive, I expect the NDP to play a role in helping develop the critically needed social programs for Canadians. And I hardly want the one-person Green Party to be the only focus for protecting our environment.

We need ongoing dialogue in parliament on serving Canadian needs and the NDP is not playing its part. It has to have leadership to do that. And that same leadership should be inspiring and encouraging the NDP to be making a mark in provincial and district legislatures across the country.

If we had an effective leader of the NDP, there would a sit-down somewhere, but soon, with the federal leader, the premier of Alberta and the premier of British Columbia. Jagmeet Singh cannot consider himself leader of anything until he resolves this problem. There can only be one stand for the NDP on the Trans Mountain pipeline issue. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has already shown where hypocrisy takes us.

And the NDP cannot continue to delay by hoping that Kinder Morgan will simply reach its deadline at the end of May and cancel the expansion. The issue is our environment and the environment cannot be trusted to fools.

Jagmeet Singh has to realize that he will soon be accused of leaving the Ontario legislature before the total collapse of the Ontario NDP. There could be nothing left of the Ontario party but one or two seats in Northern Ontario after the June 7 provincial election.

We always assumed there was an intelligent and competent man in those colorful turbans and bespoke suits. Nobody really cares about Jagmeet being a devout Sikh but Canadians cannot accept his religion overshadowing the job he has undertaken. The job comes first. Maybe his fellow Sikhs should have thought about that before they joined the NDP en mass in both B.C. and Ontario. They decided the leadership for the NDP. Are they ready to accept that responsibility?

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

The conflicts of Jagmeet Singh.

Wednesday, March 21st, 2018

New Democratic leader Jagmeet Singh has a problem. He appears to want to be a separatist in India but a nationalist in Canada. Perhaps it is his devout Sikhism and his seeming lack of understanding of what ties Canada together. It is hardly an enviable position for a national party leader.

It seems to me that Jagmeet Singh did not think through all his loyalties before entering politics through the Ontario legislature and then leaving it for the national scene in Ottawa. As an observant (Khalsa) Sikh, Jagmeet has not really transitioned well into Canadian culture. Wearing a bespoke suit from Harry Rosen with his colorful turbans and his Kirpan knives and the rest of his five Ks, does not, in itself, make him a contemporary Canadian.

It is also annoying to read that he thinks many Canadians are unaware of the events in India in 1984 and are equally in the dark about the Air India bombing in 1985. Those of us who followed those events with considerable concern where horrified with the Indian Army using tanks to subdue radicals at the Sikh’s Golden Temple in Amritsar in June of 1984. The Sikhs could always be critical of the workmanship but they really should have let the Indian government pay for the repairs to the temple.

Sikhs are very proud people but they had a responsibility to restrain retaliation for that affront by the Indian government. The assassination of Prime Minister Indira Ghandi by her Sikh bodyguards was uncivilized and disgraced the entire country. The uncontrolled race riots that ensued left thousands dead and many observers worried about the political maturity of India among the world’s nations.

What particularly angered Canadians was the attack on Air India that originated in Canada. Those 329 people killed on flight 182 were mostly Canadians and they were innocent of any involvement to any repression of the Sikhs. This was an unforgiveable act of terrorism on innocent people.

Jagmeet Singh, as a leader in the Sikh community must realize that Canada has been open to people from troubled lands around the world. All we ask is that each newcomer sets his or her sights on making a successful life among us and leaves the troubles of the old country in the old country. Ours is an open and caring society. What makes our society work is being open with others. Let us always listen and share. For only by working together can we all be Canadians.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

In defence of populism.

Saturday, March 17th, 2018

From the first time I met John George Diefenbaker, I have admired populist politicians. For the benefit of our younger folk, John Diefenbaker was a Prairie populist politician who served as prime minister of Canada from 1957 to 1963. As a young liberal, I did not agree with much of ‘Dief the Chief’s politics but some of what he did changed this country forever.

Conservatives considered John Diefenbaker a radical. He did crazy things like appointing the first Canadian woman to the federal cabinet. His government passed the first Canadian Bill of Rights. He gave Canada’s aboriginal peoples the vote. He appointed the first aboriginal person to the senate. These were not the actions of your typical conservative.

Mind you, as a former member of Canada’s air force, I was royally pissed with Dief when he cancelled the spectacularly advanced Avro Arrow. He caved in to the Americans and left Canada as perpetual water boy to the Yankees.

I got to thinking about populism recently when reading a very misleading column by Chantal Hébert in the Toronto Star. She was saying that one-member-one-vote selection in political party leadership benefits populists. That is B.S. from an usually more knowledgeable reporter.

Her problem was that the examples she used were hardly populists. Doug Ford is not a populist. His late brother Rob was a populist and the difference could not have been more obvious. Rob Ford believed in Ford Nation, he was part of it. Doug Ford wants to use Ford Nation but he is hardly part of it. He is a dilettante. He talks the talk but hardly walks the walk. I will put money on him crashing and burning before the Ontario election. He is just another embarrassing Premier Mike Harris in waiting.

And Hébert mentioning Patrick Brown as an example of populism is a sad joke. Patrick Brown is a sleazy political manipulator and user who finally got his comeuppance.

Brown and Jagmeet Singh both swamped their party memberships with ethnic sign-ups from the Indian sub-continent. The only difference was that the Sikhs have been proud of Jagmeet Singh and would have insisted in paying for their own memberships.

Populism is a rare feature of Canadian politics and we need more of it. It is that ability to be part of the masses, articulate their needs, motivate them and rise to lead those masses. It is a combination of empathy and vision and communication. When you see it; you will recognize it.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Did the Lion roar or snore?

Wednesday, February 21st, 2018

Since the name ‘Singh’ for Sikhs means ‘lion,’ it makes you wonder about New Democratic Party Leader Jagmeet Singh. Is he just a cowardly lion, looking for a political Wizard of Oz to give him the courage to address the real needs of his party? He certainly failed to deal with any of the real issues this past weekend.

And you can hardly replace action and direction with humour. Even with better than 90 per cent approval for his leadership, Singh let the party down. All the 90 per cent vote meant was that the party had nobody in mind to replace Singh at this time.

Singh addressed a party in turmoil and told them jokes.

The party is facing a general election across Canada in less than two years and has no clear direction. The party lacks purpose, policies and potential. It has no future and so Singh is obviously the best person to lead them into it.

The leap of the LEAP Manifesto turned into a hop. Singh’s attitude was that if you forget about it, it just might go away.

Is there anywhere for the party to go in today’s Quebec?

Was Andrea Horwath of the large Ontario delegation really there or was that just another NDP apparition heading to sure oblivion in just a few months?

And if there were any delegates there from B.C. or Alberta, why were there no good fist fights?

When you think of the number of Sikhs who bought memberships in the party to elect Singh, you would at least expect Singh to thank them.

It was nice that Singh brought his fiancé along to introduce her. Maybe that was why he did not have his mind on party problems.

But as for the rest of the weekend, it was a typical NDP convention. There were lots of airy-fairy resolutions that will go nowhere. This is now a party where you take the high road and stay out of the mud of battle.

The old joke about Canada’s political parties continues to hold true: Conservatives come to a convention to drink; Liberals come to a convention to get laid; and NDPers come to a convention to get pamphlets.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

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