Posts Tagged ‘Leadership’

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

Chuckles’ Canned Conservatism.

Tuesday, November 14th, 2017

In discussing the ebbing strength of the democracy of Canada’s Conservative parties yesterday, we never got to the major problem faced by the federal Conservatives. Their problem is one of leadership. If there ever was a good example of the mediocrity produced by preferential voting, the Conservative party faces that problem today in its leadership.

Andrew ‘Chuckles’ Scheer’s leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada should have come in a can—marked ‘Open in an emergency only.’ The former Speaker in the only majority Conservative Parliament under Stephen Harper, Scheer was the leadership candidate with the least to offer the party. He was simply the second, third or fourth choice of too many Conservative members.

A social conservative from Saskatchewan, Scheer has the perpetually surprised look of a deer caught in the headlights. You just know that he will stay there awaiting the impact.

But he got lucky lately. While the Trudeau Liberals are on a death watch for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Tories found their bonanza in Provence. And Bill Morneau’s French villa was only part of his problems. While the rest of the cabinet was distracted, Trudeau’s finance minister found himself engulfed in charges of conflict of interest and being rich. And the charge of being rich became incendiary.

It seems that neither Morneau nor the Parliamentary Ethics Commissioner had the political smarts to realize she had hung the finance minister out as a target for the opposition parties. At this late stage the ethics commissioner has had to open an investigation into the possible conflict of interest between the minister’s business interests, that deal in pension programs, and his changes in tax positions of pension funds.

Few voters will have the understanding of what any investigation will find. Guilt or innocence will be irrelevant.

When ‘Chuckles’ and his pack in the House of Commons first started baying after the finance minister, we carefully explained that the finance minister was in the position of Caesar’s wife. It was not a question of guilt or innocence. It was the very inference of wrong-doing. Bill Morneau should have been asked for his resignation then.

And do you not bet that the Conservatives, with a target in their sights, are sorry now that they opened the can labelled ‘Scheer.’

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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

The problem for political pundits.

Monday, October 2nd, 2017

While waiting to hear the New Democratic Party leadership tallies yesterday, I was reading what Mainstreet Technology’s Quito Magi had to say about the race. Having worked with Quito in the past, I have often had the feeling that he should forego all this technology and make an arrangement with a healthy young groundhog, to help him with his political forecasts.

To his obvious embarrassment, I once got Quito to pay off an election bet in front of witnesses. He had all his company’s automated telephone calls responses and analysis and all I had was some doors I had knocked on with the candidate. We both agreed that our candidate would win easily but Quito made a rookie mistake about the fringe candidates in the race. When I gave him an estimate of their vote, he bet I was wrong. It cost him ten bucks.

And if he had checked with me recently, I could have saved him some embarrassment on forecasting that it could take three ballots for MPP Jagmeet Singh to win the federal NDP leadership. That was an interesting scenario he forecast but it showed a lack of experience with the Sikh communities in Canada. When Sikh voters offer their support for a candidate, they usually prove to be more reliable than the average voter.

The member of the Ontario Legislature had swamped the membership of the NDP with about 47,000 new sign-ups, mainly among the Sikh communities across Canada. It resulted in more than 35,000 winning votes to a combined total vote for his three opponents of just over 30,000.

It was particularly important once the results were announced on Sunday, to see the Ontario MPP go into full political mode to try to repair some of the disappointment of his opponents and their supporters. MP Charlie Angus looked particularly pained by his showing. He really thought he could do better than 12,700 votes. MP Niki Ashton was about 1400 votes behind and MP Guy Caron came last at just over 6100 votes.

The results of this race speak volumes about the state of politics in Canada. It is cynical and sad that people so disrespect our political process that they will attempt to crush opposition to the honours and position they think they deserve by mass sign ups of groups of ethnic supporters.

This was not a contest of ideas and suitability to the task ahead. This is the decision of a single community—a single ethnic group. Singh offered no new ideas, no new style of leadership. He was the choice of his own community. It was not a win for Canada.

Maybe we are heading down a similar antidemocratic path as our American neighbours.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

What ‘New’ Democratic Party?

Tuesday, September 19th, 2017

We are hearing that ‘Love is in the air’ and the New Democratic Party of Canada is facing the future to the beat of new drums. Everyone anticipates that this new day will start with the election of the new leader of the party. And if you believe all this guff, I have a fine piece of swampland in the Ontario north in which you might want to invest.

The first part of all this B.S. is the news media believing the NDP is a social democratic party. That is further from the facts that any human can throw. When the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) was founded by Tommy Douglas and J.S. Woodsworth in 1932, it was a socialist party with agrarian roots.

In 1961, the CCF became the base of the New Democratic Party (NDP). It was a deal made with the Canadian Labour Congress and the party structure was committed to organized labour. It was and still is a party of labour. That is not the basis for social democracy. Labour can best be described as organized collectivism. It is a mutual protective society. It is rarely interested in the overall concerns of its society—other than when it affects them.

Social democrats are people who can work within a democratic structure to effect reforms. They are progressives who want to build a better future for their society. They recognize the rights of the individual ahead of the collective. They build on human excellence.

But who among the four candidates really understands this need for a social democratic party? Who is the progressive? And who can lead?

Listening to the four candidates on Sunday in Hamilton it was obvious that Guy Caron was the thinker. The Quebec MP had the positions that he felt the party should take. What he could not demonstrate was the leadership the party needs.

Charlie Angus was up to the challenge. The Northern Ontario MP showed his empathy for the long-time party members who want to help define where the party is going. He was the only one to note the need to keep the faith with seniors and promised to advocate for them.

Niki Ashton was also in good form. The Manitoba MP showed that she was the last true prairie socialist and she stuck to her guns.

The newcomer Jagmeet Singh showed up with his drummers. The Ontario MPP brought some showmanship to the event.

What nobody brought was a future for Canada’s New Democrats.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

The Globe and Mail’s Ibbitson flunks math?

Saturday, September 9th, 2017

Reading a recent column by the Globe’s John Ibbitson, I was a little confused by his logic but I was even more concerned about his mathematics. He was forecasting a win by Quebec M.P. Guy Caron in the New Democratic Party leadership voting later this month. He very wisely gave all the credit for the logic attached to this to former NDP president Brian Topp. Maybe both gentlemen need to recheck their mathematics.

There is simply very little chance that Guy Caron will be anywhere but last on the first ballot. If there is a second ballot, we can only assume that it is Mr. Caron’s name that will be left off.

The facts are the party has announced more than 80,000 new memberships came in during the six months before the August cut-off for memberships. These memberships, we are told, came mainly from British Columbia and Ontario. And M.P.P. Jagmeet Singh’s campaign claims credit for 47,000 of those memberships. I think they are being modest.

This is the same situation as caused by Ontario Conservative leadership candidate Patrick Brown two years ago when he swamped the Tories’ provincial membership with temporary memberships, mainly from India.

Despite the problems Brown might have created for himself in winning any trust from long-time Ontario Conservatives, Jagmeet Singh has even more difficulties winning over long-time NDPers. With the joint federal provincial memberships in the party and the voting rights of labour, he cannot hope for a truly loyal party at his back across the country.

But the Sikh communities across Canada are very proud of Jagmeet Singh. My childhood in Toronto was something of an advanced course in studying ethnic characteristics among newcomers to Canada. And if there is one thing I learned about Sikhs, it is that their word is something you are inclined to trust. They are consistent and they are determined. If the Singh campaign says that their sign-ups are 47,000, I expect that more than 40,000 votes will be cast for Jagmeet Singh for NDP leader later this month. If his three competitors combined, get as many votes, this long-time political observer will be a bit surprised.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

The Morning Line: Canada’s NDP Leadership

Friday, September 1st, 2017

Our best advice to the New Democratic Party is that they forget the next Federal election and concentrate on finding a modern direction for their party. And we have no idea whose membership numbers we were looking at when we assumed that the NDP had closer to 200,000 members in 2016. With the party growing from about just 40,000 to 124,000 from March to August 2017, with members concentrated in British Columbia and Ontario, there is little need for a Morning Line to tell you the prospects for the current leadership contest. The party could end up wishing it had kept Thomas Mulcair.

Charlie Angus M.P. – 4 to 1

More than any other contestant, Charlie Angus, the M.P. from Northern Ontario typifies the New Democratic Party and its ideals. He could wear the mantles of Tommy Douglas and Jack Layton with the swagger of a union brawler. He is the most in tune with the Canadian voter. He could take the party to its next logical step.

Niki Ashton M.P. – 6 to 1

This Manitoban is a hard-working campaigner and an even stronger feminist. She was the newcomer in the 2012 leadership race that was won by Tom Mulcair. In that race she got less than six per cent of the votes. She was going to do much better this time, until Jagmeet Singh came into the picture.

Guy Caron M.P. – 11 to 1

Every good leadership campaign requires a thinker and in this one, it is Quebec M.P. Guy Caron. His ideas on taxation, his start on a guaranteed income plan and his approach to international trade are all helpful. His party should start listening to his policy ideas. It will not have him as leader though with the small vote base that his Quebec constituency gives him.

Jagmeet Singh M.P.P. – 2 to 1

The NDP has been forced to admit that the party’s membership was at a low of 40,000 until March of this year. It has increased threefold in the past six months and there is only one candidate who could have caused that surge. While a diligent member of the Ontario Legislature, Jagmeet Singh has demonstrated few, if any, leadership qualities. As deputy leader in Ontario, there seems to be a dearth of ideas from him and his leader. There is no doubt though that he is a favourite of the Sikh communities in Ontario and British Columbia.

But before Justin Trudeau and his Liberals think that the NDP’s choice could be a Liberal gain, they could be very wrong. While a Sikh leader might not have the appeal in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan or Chicoutimi, P.Q. he could cut a broad swath of support through the B.C. mainland and the Greater Toronto Area in Ontario. The Conservative’s ‘Chuckles’ Scheer must be chuckling.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

What’s wrong at NDP HQ?

Monday, August 28th, 2017

There was a promise that Babel-on-the-Bay would publish its Morning Line on the New Democratic Party leadership today. That is hardly possible when we have been stalled by the party not yet releasing its new membership figures. Without these figures to analyze and compute along with our knowledge of the people involved, we have no hope of providing readers a reasonable handicapping of the race.

There is little point of either research company polls or our more in-depth analysis without the new membership figures. With a membership of less than 200,000 nationally before this contest got started, anyone who can sign up more than 50,000 new members has to be taken very seriously.

There is no point in denying that the only leadership candidate who could have signed up in excess of 50,000 new members would be Ontario MPP Jagmeet Singh. He has easy access to South Asian immigrants across Canada and is very popular in those communities.  In the Greater Toronto Area and in Vancouver and Lower mainland alone, there are enough potential supporters to practically guarantee him the leadership.

But whether he was organizing the effort early enough is just one question. The more important question is whether he would be wasting his time if he did not have broad support throughout the established party membership?

We are seeing now what is happening to the Ontario Conservatives when a leadership candidate imports temporary members to swamp the established membership. Patrick Brown is being challenged by break-away groups, improper tactics in local nominations and friction from all sides because he disrespected the traditions of his party.

Jagmeet Singh also has the problem of Quebec. As he admitted in yesterday’s debate in Montreal, a turbaned Sikh would have a struggle for support among openly tribal and racist elements in Quebec. While MP Guy Caron tried to make secularism a solely provincial matter in yesterday’s debate, there is no denying that a two-country solution will not fly across the rest of Canada.

When we see the new membership figures, we will let you know the Morning Line. There is little question that the decision is between Ontario MP Charlie Angus and Ontario MPP Jagmeet Singh. Of course, Manitoba MP Niki Ashton already knows she is having twins! We also wish her well.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Money matters maybe.

Friday, August 4th, 2017

Never judge a political race by money raised. Whether it is an internal party race for a nomination or a leadership or party fundraising prior to an election, you have to remember that money does not vote. Case in point, the fundraising by each of the four candidates for the New Democratic Party might tell you a bit about potential votes but hardly forecasts the winner.

As an experienced political apparatchik, I can tell you that I am most impressed with Charlie Angus’ fundraising efforts. Remember that he is based in Northern Ontario and he has raised $233,000 in 2017 through June of this year. In the NDP, that pays for a respectable campaign to reach the 100,000 plus existing party members and the search and capture for maybe another 25,000 new members. Charlie probably has a potential base vote of about 50,000.

I have to say that Niki Ashton is sure tenacious and the Manitoba MP’s $135,000 fundraising in the first six months this year tells a good story. While she will not win over as many of the existing party members, her new sign-ups will be darn loyal and she could push Charlie Angus hard with a base vote of close to 40,000.

The disappointing performance is by Guy Caron the MP from Quebec. With just over $100,000 raised in the first six months, his campaign is limited. It is hard to say just where he stands in voting potential.

Whether Caron could rally late is probably mute as most of the noise now is going to later-comer Jagmeet Singh MPP from Ontario. Singh’s campaign started in May and through May and June, his campaign raised over $350,000 from just over 1500 donors. He claims that 75 per cent of this money came from first-time donors which tells us that South-Asian immigrants are going all-out for him. It is obvious that he has the ability (and the funds) to sign up as many as 100,000 as NDP members—but only a short time to do it. Even then, he is not likely to win on the first ballot.

Bear in mind that Andrew Scheer, the new Conservative leader came fifth in fundraising in that party’s leadership race. He was also given 12 to 1 odds by our Morning Line. He beat us all by being most Conservatives second choice.

As the voting for the NDP leadership is scheduled to begin September 18, we will be moving up our Morning Line on this race to August 28 to please some of our NDP readers.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Jagmeet Singh: Not just a pretty face.

Saturday, July 29th, 2017

The New Democratic Party’s federal leadership race is getting a little more heated. With less than two months to go, the race has taken on some disturbing aspects of the last Conservative leadership in Ontario. It is turning into Jagmeet Singh’s race to win if he is using the same tactics as Ontario Conservative winner Patrick Brown.

Brown looked at the almost one million recent immigrants in Ontario from South Asia (mainly Hindu, Sikh and Muslim from the Indian Sub-Continent) and signed up almost 40,000 temporary Conservatives. It is even easier for Jagmeet Singh to organize among this group than Brown and Singh can add another 30,000 potential supporters in B.C.

You can also assume that more than 50 per cent of the 100,000 plus NDP members are already from British Columbia and Ontario. And with all votes counting instead of balanced across the country, it is winning in those two provinces that matters.

And Quebec voters would be the least likely to support a party headed by a turbaned Sikh—no matter how much GQ Magazine admires and approves the rest of his attire.

The main difference between Conservative Brown and New Democratic Singh is that Jagmeet is a hero among the Canadian Sikh community. He has also supported Sikh candidates for the NDP across Canada.

Jagmeet (at 38) also has more life experience than contemporary Patrick Brown (at 39). Jagmeet has had considerably more experience and success as a lawyer than Brown, has proposed more bills in the Ontario Legislature than Brown did in both Ottawa and Queens’ Park and Brown would hardly want to even arm wrestle with a trained athlete such as Jagmeet.

Oddly enough neither Brown nor Singh has much to say about their policy direction. Brown does not seem to have any and Singh seems to be hoeing to the standard New Democratic policy book.

Whether either of these two men is at all ready to lead their respective parties anywhere is a very large question mark. The knives will be out for Brown after the next election in Ontario in June 2018. Jagmeet Singh would be wise to ride out that election as Ontario Deputy Leader and be ready to take over as Ontario leader when Andrea Horwath steps down. In the meantime, he can study where the NDP’s future might be.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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