Posts Tagged ‘Jagmeet Singh’

Did they forget to tell Jagmeet?

Saturday, March 16th, 2019

It seems strange that the NDP apparatchiks around their leader Jagmeet Singh have forgotten to tell him something important. He certainly has enough French to understand that Québec Solidaire is a separatist party based in Quebec. It might share the orange party color and the left of centre politics of the NDP but from that point they go their separate ways.

The confusion with this started when newly elected MP and party leader Jagmeet Singh announced that Alexandre Boulerice would be the party’s deputy leader for Quebec. Boulerice is the MP for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie and was first elected in the Orange Wave of 2011.

Boulerice followed up on Wednesday by announcing that Nima Machouf will be the NDP standard bearer in the riding of Laurier—Saint-Marie in October. The riding is currently represented by NDP MP Hélène Lavadière, who is stepping down after holding the riding since 2011.

The only problem with this is that Nima Machouf is also a member of Québec Solidaire. She is not only a member but her husband, Amir Kadir, was a member of the National Assembly for Québec Solidaire from 2008 to 2018.

My guess is that the rest of Canada would be caught off guard if it had to deal with a group as left of centre politically as Québec Solidaire—if they were ever in a position to call the shots in Quebec. As unlikely as it might be that they might win, I see an appeal to their proposal of calling for a constitutional assembly to plan the future of the province. I believe they would have to agree if the rest of the country asked to join with them in planning an improved country—conditional on a national referendum afterward to approve of the proposed plan.

Just think of what could be done!

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

The storms on the Yellow Brick Road.

Sunday, March 10th, 2019

As we battle our way to the Land of OZ and the looming federal election, what we are hearing across the land is becoming more and more concerning. When normally respectful and erudite people vent with expletives, they are angry. When the prime minister of our country calls a public news conference and offers bafflegab instead of contrition, you know he is out of touch.

We have not heard the last of the Jody Wilson-Raybould affair. A woman scorned, she has friends. Some of the answers are simmering in the liberal caucus in Ottawa. Why did Jane Philpott step out? The liberals are not listening to the call to arms. And why should they?

But where does that leave us? Did we ignore the lesson learned last year in Ontario? Can we Ontario voters so easily afford the cost of the incompetence of the conservatives under Doug Ford?

Could the country afford the incompetence of a Harper-lite conservative such as ‘Chuckles’ Scheer? This guy cannot even tell the difference between a pratfall by the government and a criminal act. Why should he be calling for an RCMP investigation of confusion in the federal cabinet? The RCMP does not oversee the cabinet.

All Scheer seems to be is a spokesman for the Alberta and Saskatchewan conservatives. He offers nothing other than Harper-redux. He just is not as wily. Scheer has little to offer Canadian voters.

And then you have the new democrats. Here you have a party with no policies, no program and no real leadership. It is a party that is failing to live up to its billing.

But there is hope boys and girls: There are new parties on the horizon. I think that Elizabeth May is one tough leader. Her only problem is she has no party behind her and no reason for you to vote for them. The liberals and the NDP will tell you that they care about the environment. Some of us really do.

And to Chuckles’ consternation, there is the People’s Party of Canada that is going to try to take right-wing votes from the tired Tories in October. Party leader MP Maxime Bernier is out to show those conservatives that they really should have picked him as leader at their last leadership contest.

One thing that I discovered many years ago is that you cannot change any political party by carping at it from the outside. The changes must be made from within. It is why I have been a liberal for many years. I just wish there was more help available to bring the liberal party back to a position of respect.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Yes, I have stopped beating my wife.

Friday, March 8th, 2019

We took a mid-winter break in Toronto recently and unfortunately the wife slipped on some ice at one point and she came home sporting a rather colourful black eye. After a while, you get tired of telling people the real story and you just tell them you will not do it again.

The reason for mentioning this was an e-mail from a reader the other day accusing me of being a white, male racist. While people who know me well would laugh at the suggestion, I am in the same boat as those who are accused of various shortcomings. How do you prove you are not what they say?

For example, the e-mail sender suggested that I was racist in my ‘snide’ remarks about North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un, such as referring to him as a troglodyte (caveman). As, in the same breath, I called Donald Trump much worse, what does that make me?

What really must have annoyed the reader was what he called my “barely disguised snips at Jagmeet Singh.” You can be very sure that I checked all references to Singh’s religion within the Sikh community.

I do not have a degree awarded by a university for studies in ethnicity but I earned my knowledge and respect for our multicultural country growing up on the streets of Toronto after the Second World War.

I disapprove of Singh being leader of the new democrats on the same basis as that of a priest in clerical collar and cassock or an observant Hassidic with dreadlocks being the leader of a major party. Ours is secular society and I think any person who can potentially be prime minister should honour that secular nature.

I certainly respect the right of Jagmeet to wear the five-Ks of an observant Sikh as ordered by the Tenth Guru. I am also well aware of the respect for him in the Sikh communities in British Columbia and in Ontario. Canada has been welcoming Sikh immigrants from the sub-continent (other than the disgusting Komagata Maru incident in Vancouver in 1914) since the 1800s.

But I have always found it disquieting for politicians to use blocs of ethnic support to gain political victories. The way that Brampton’s Patrick Brown panders to immigrants from the sub-continent for political advantage disgusts me. I am also firmly of the opinion that Jagmeet Singh should not have used the Sikh communities in B.C. and Ontario to swamp the membership of the national NDP and win the leadership based on Sikh support. His real test will be in October.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

An unscientific method.

Wednesday, February 27th, 2019

On Global’s West Block public affairs show on Sunday, two of the Toronto Star’s remuda of political pundits voiced their opinions on the Monday by-election in Vancouver’s Burnaby South. They both picked new democrat leader Jagmeet Singh. If you were only going to guess at the outcome, that was a good guess. Even if I was still handicapping politics, I would likely have come to the same conclusion.

But I would not have been guessing. The key to political handicapping is to not believe what others report on the workouts. When needing to know, I often grabbed some literature from the committee rooms and went out to explore the riding. I have been told it is very unscientific to select neighbourhoods, knock on random doors and talk to the homeowners. Yet, I cannot find a simpler way to find out why people are likely to vote or not, support one candidate over others and how deeply they feel about the issues.

In a by-election, motivating the voters to go to the polls is your major challenge. You can have many voters telling you that you have their support but if you have no ground game to get them to the polls, you have wasted your time.

And that challenge can be doubly hard in a general election. The pressure is on the average voter to get out to the polls and if they do not know who to vote for, your efforts can be wasted. A good ground game can come to the rescue.

The only problem is that a good ground game takes extensive organization, hard work, long hours, careful planning and always with backups for your back-up plans.

It was a bit of a shock to the system when I moved from Toronto up to Barrie in central Ontario. There are a band of rural electoral districts stretching from Ottawa all the way to Windsor, that are dominated by conservatives. And they have also mastered the ground game.

It is too bad that liberal leader Justin Trudeau does not understand the importance of giving people involvement in their party.  It enables the party to mount a strong ground game in many electoral districts.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Jagmeet’s winning honeymoon.

Tuesday, February 26th, 2019

Burnaby South electoral district is not your typical first choice for honeymooners. It is no resort. The electoral district is not even middle class, includes migrants from many countries and probably more like many of the heavily ethnic areas of Toronto than of any other Canadian city. Yet it is where Jagmeet Singh and his princess have spent the last couple months to win the federal by-election called by prime minister Trudeau.

With a turn-out of 29 per cent of voters, it was a classic by-election situation. The NDP worked hard and brought out their vote.

For British Columbia, it was a confused and concerning race. With both conservatives and liberals supporting the twinning of the Trans Mountain pipeline, many of their supporters sat on their hands. Where the protest was serious was the ability of Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party to garner just over ten per cent of the vote with what was denounced as a racist campaign.

Married last year in a colorful Sikh ceremony in Mexico, Jagmeet Singh and Gurkiran Kaur Sidhu have been meeting the voters in Burnaby since he decided this is the electoral district he wanted to send him to Ottawa. The attractive Gurkiran is a fashion designer and seems to be not far from her husband’s side since they set up housekeeping in Burnaby.

But Jagmeet is heading for a brief stint in Ottawa as leader of the new democrats. And then, the entire exercise begins again for the October general election. Whether he can duplicate the win again in October is very much the question.

In the east, we went to bed last night having little awareness of how the B.C. by-election was going. The by-elections in Outremont in Montreal and York Simcoe were open and shut, easy to predict. No surprises there. As precursors of the federal election to come, the three by-elections told us little. It was a loss of one seat for the NDP and the gain of one seat for the liberals. And Maxime Bernier’s new party was just an also-ran.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Potholes on the Yellow Brick Road.

Wednesday, February 20th, 2019

It’s the time of year in Canada. The roller-coaster of ice and snow, melting and freezing, leaves even a yellow brick road a minefield of broken and missing bricks. Dorothy and Toto and their three friends have to watch where they step.

With the Cowardly Lion (Justin Trudeau) more familiar with riding on elephants in costume, being transported in the helicopters of rich family friends and the convenience of government jets, he seems more prone to falling into the larger potholes. One of the first to be tripped up, he has fallen into one that could require Quebec’s giant engineering firm of SNC-Lavalin to repair.

It really makes us all wonder at the seeming inability of the prime minister and his wunderkinds of the PMO to handle this current tempest with his former justice minister and, more recently, former veterans’ minister. To stretch the problem this long and to keep feeding us piecemeal snippets of information about the debacle does not seem appropriate to 2019.

The good news/bad news yesterday was the resignation of the prime minister’s principal secretary Gerald Butts. He and the prime minister think alike. They both lack some basic political instincts. Neither understood that the win in 2015 was not theirs. It was a gift from an used up Stephen Harper. Measure Butts’ replacement by his or her political smarts. That is what is needed.

But where is the Scarecrow (Jagmeet Singh)? The poor chap is in the midst of a life and death struggle to take a seat in the House of Commons. He is far from his home grounds of Brampton and at a complete loss to tell you how he is doing. The liberals might as well give him the bum’s rush because the NDP caucus in Ottawa will demand his resignation as leader if he loses in Burnaby South. Oh well, February 25 will tell the tale.

But it is the Tin Woodman (Andrew ‘Chuckles’ Scheer) who is the enigma, who can benefit the most from the confusion of the others. He is but a buffer for the parochial concerns of his friends, Doug Ford in Ontario and Jason Kenney in Alberta. Provided, of course, Jason can defeat ‘Rachel Notley’s party’ in the spring elections in Alberta.

What we are sensing in these early stages is anger and annoyance with all political parties. The Cowardly Lion needs more than to be brave. He needs to learn to be a leader. The Tin Woodman needs more than a heart. He needs to learn to connect with people and offer positive directions.  And the Scarecrow needs more than brains. He needs to realize that his politics have to stand apart from his religion.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Potholes on the Yellow Brick Road.

Monday, January 28th, 2019

While the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman and the Cowardly Lion are still planning their trip with Dorothy to the Emerald City and the October election in Canada, it is best to check for potholes. Peering into one of these potholes the other day, I saw Canada’s former ambassador to China sitting in it and wondering how he got there.

This is a serious hazard for the Cowardly Lion. It took Justin Trudeau almost a week to fire our politico-cum-ambassador. The arguments must have raged at the Prime Minister’s Office but it took a second attempt to put foot in mouth that got McCallum bounced. And nobody ever said McCallum was wrong—wrong to tell the truth, maybe.

It is against this news background that author Jonathan Manthorpe is making hay selling his new book on China, Claws of the Panda. I have not read it yet but I am still waiting for Jon to autograph my copy of his first book, The Power and the Tories about the Bill Davis government in Ontario.

Interestingly, while Jon was in China trying to fathom the depth of the country’s communist government, I was watching Beijing extend its influence into Canadian-Chinese news media. I had the impression that those people understood more about the future of newspaper publishing than Conrad Black, Paul Godfrey and Torstar’s John Honderich, combined.

My best source of information at the time were the many delegations from Beijing that I took on tours and entertained for a computer company. They usually assumed I was a fellow technologist and they always enjoyed their visit. It earned me many invitations from other high level visits from Beijing.

But it is Hauwei’s inscrutable technologies and the extradition of Hauwei executive Meng Wanzhou affair that has the Canadian public wondering. First of all, explaining 5G networks is a tough job and how this technology can give Hauwei access to state secrets is not an easy subject for politicians to digest.

But then you also need to understand Canada’s relationship in the Five Eyes which allows us to listen in on everybody else. Which begs the question, how the hell is any of this explained to a dolt such as Donald Trump? And that clown has someone with all the nuclear codes sitting outside his door?

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

The dynamics are different.

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2019

When talking about dynamics in politics, we are talking about what will influence the political outcome. And in looking at the upcoming by-elections in three federal electoral districts on February 25, we have to deal with each district as a separate entity.

Reading the tea leaves for the three by-elections is especially important because these will be the last federal by-elections before the general election scheduled for October, this year.

The complexity starts in Burnaby South. The electoral district in Vancouver, B.C. was previously held by Kennedy Stewart of the NDP. Mr. Stewart resigned to run successfully as an independent candidate for Vancouver mayor. He strongly opposes having the Trans Mountain pipeline expanded and coming through the city to transfer diluted bitumen from the Athabasca and Cold Lake tar sands to ocean tankers in Burrard Inlet.

Despite the resignation of the initial liberal candidate, her replacement is a former Speaker of the B.C. Legislature, also of Chinese heritage. With 38 per cent of the district population of Chinese descent, he has the same base as the previous candidate.

If the NDP’s Jagmeet Singh can get out the word forcefully that he opposes the Trans Mountain, he will likely get a lot of help in getting out his vote. Mind you he will have the prime minister and lots of cabinet ministers in the riding smothering the voters with kindness.

Pipelines are of nowhere near the importance in Montreal’s Outremont electoral district. The NDP consider this riding important in that it was former NDP leader Tom Mulcair’s seat. It is also a must-win seat in October for the liberals if they are to hold their majority in parliament.

The third by-election is in Ontario’s York-Simcoe electoral district. The fiefdom of federal conservative Peter Van Loan for the past 14 years, York-Simcoe was a cake-walk for conservative Caroline Mulroney in the recent provincial election. The conservatives could be too confident.

Like all by-elections, the key in all three districts is identifying your voters and getting them out to vote. To do that in February takes far more volunteers than the areas can produce. They will need help from other electoral districts. In by-elections, it is the party with the best ground game that wins.

If the liberals win none of the by-elections, they are in trouble.

If the liberals win just one of the by-elections, it will mean the October election will be hard fought.

If the liberals win two of the by-elections, it means the status quo in October.

And if the liberals win all three of the by-elections, the Toronto Maple Leaf hockey team is also likely to win the Stanley Cup.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Singing Singh a sad song.

Wednesday, January 9th, 2019

It is understandable to hear that Canadian new democrat supporters are being told to “Singh or swim.” If they have not thought about it before now, time is running out on them. And when a left-wing apologist such as Thomas Walkom writes about Singh in a despondent tone, as though the NDP leader might just be early road kill on the Yellow Brick Road to the fall election.

It hardly seems to matter when prime minister Trudeau decides to call the by-election in Burnaby South. Even if Jagmeet Singh does make a ceremonial bow in the House of Commons, what good can it do him?

It might not be his fault but his timing is so bad. It is a time when populists both in Canada and the United States are pumping up the anti-immigrant bigotry. It can hardly do him or his party any good. Much of the anti-immigrant rhetoric might be against Muslims but the ignorant who listen to that crap are hardly expected to know the difference between Muslims and Sikhs

At a time when the American president is running a diatribe for a wall against immigrants and the Canadian opposition leader is railing about our porous border, the NDP leader is a poster boy for immigration. That might be a bespoke suit from Harry Rosen’s that he is wearing but the accessories are what are known as the Five Ks of Sikhism as ordered by the Tenth Guru Gobind Singh in 1699.

Nobody wants to be honest about this but Singh would never have won the leadership of the NDP if he had not encouraged fellow Sikhs in Canada to join the NDP and vote for him. The very large number of Sikhs in British Columbia and Ontario put him over the top. The only problem is those numbers pale when compared to the total voter population of Canada.

It was as simple as Patrick Brown, the disgraced former leader of Ontario’s conservatives, winning the mayoralty of Brampton. Brampton was where Jagmeet Singh held his seat in the Ontario legislature. All Brown did was promise the very large Sikh population in the area that he would greatly expand the number of parks with cricket pitches. They think that Brown will make Brampton the cricket capital of Canada. Sikhs do so love the game of cricket.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

“We’re off to see the Wizard”

Tuesday, January 1st, 2019

Canadians will face many adventures as they whistle their way down the Yellow Brick Road in 2019. They can travel hand in paw with Dorothy, Toto and their companions. It will not be the predictable adventures with witches and wizards as in L Frank Baum’s book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

The first problem is that not all Canadians are pleased with the choice between Scarecrow – Jagmeet Singh, Tin Woodman – Andrew Scheer and Cowardly Lion – Justin Trudeau. Many voters want change for the sake of change. They might not relish the turmoil that attitude can bring but they will take their chances.

After all, Jagmeet Singh is a leader without a united party or any real policies or commitments behind him. He took the leadership by the swamping of his party’s memberships in Ontario and B.C.  with his co-religionists. His risk is that few Canadians understand his religion and it makes him different. He is the scarecrow who scares birds and voters.

Conservative voters might feel a tin woodsman such as Andrew Scheer will bore more voters than he can win over. And a cowardly lion, despite his supposed liberalism, will likely have less appeal than in 2015. Both are conflicted on the environment and on pipelines. There are no more sunny days.

Maybe this is the year for one of the new parties. It happened in Quebec in 2018. And Doug Ford went from former city councillor to premier in Ontario in less than six months last year. Can we expect some similar surprises are in store for us in 2019?

Who knows? Jason Kenny might not be able to oust Rachel Notley in Alberta and might try for a triumphant return to Ottawa.

But what about all those social conservative diehards who supported Quebec MP Maxime Bernier in the last conservative leadership? Is his new People’s Party of Canada to be ignored?

And what about everyone’s perennial favourite with her caucus of one, Elizabeth May? Could she gather four or five Green MPs to help her?

Canadians will have to wait until October this year for the answers.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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