Posts Tagged ‘Leadership’

Can Chuckles make a comeback?

Saturday, May 23rd, 2020

The conservative party and the news media have written off acting conservative party leader Andrew Scheer much too soon. When he resigned late last year, the unwritten proviso was that the party thought they could get someone better. There might be four or five people vying for the honour of replacing Chuckles but you would have a hard time convincing any sizeable number of conservatives that any one of them is any better.

In fact, it is hard to say which of the four or five prospects could be half as effective as poor old Chuckles. You might expect that Peter MacKay has some of that same experience in the conservative party and in the Harper conservative government. When you ask knowledgeable conservatives about MacKay’s experience, you get a thoughtful answer that agrees, “Yes, he was there.” And then nothing but a sad look.

The facts are that Peter MacKay is a lightweight. He had three important portfolios in the Harper cabinet. He was an embarrassment in all three. He seemed to be working on a reputation for being the playboy of Ottawa and the eastern seaboard. Each portfolio he was in was just another set of photo ops. Mind you, he embarrassed the entire country in coming on to American secretary of state Condoleezza Rice.

The reason I mentioned the four or five candidates is because last week an Ontario superior court judge said that Jim Karahalios should not have been ejected from the race when he maligned Toronto lawyer Walied Soliman, campaign manager for candidate Erin O’Toole.

I have a hunch that we might not know if there are four or five candidates until we have a ruling from the supreme court. It took a couple days for the right committee of the conservative party to kick out Mr. Karahalios again.

In the meantime, Erin O’Toole is going around being nice to any or all conservatives, hoping for their second vote approval. All O’Toole needs is for Peter MacKay to keep shooting himself in the foot. And that can be as good as money in the bank. There are a couple other candidates—we call them losers.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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Same-old, same-old Tory party.

Tuesday, May 5th, 2020

This conservative leadership contest is a disaster. What started out to be dull and boring has been made doubly dull and boring. We are now advised that we will know who has won the conservative party leadership on August 27. Surprise, surprise, Peter MacKay will likely be crowned. Boring wins again!

This commentary could probably end with that one paragraph. That is all it is worth.

But it seems that likely loser, Erin O’Toole, has a strategy. He is supposing that, for some reason, a slim majority of party voters decide that Peter Mackay is the most boring of all candidates. There are four candidates and O’Toole’s strategy is to try to be every conservative voter’s second choice. That way, in a tighter race, he could win on the second or third count. That is the beauty of the conservative ranked-choice balloting: It elects the most acceptable, not the most preferred.

What it means is that O’Toole needs to run a campaign savaging Peter MacKay and building up the confidence of the two other also-rans. He has to keep those other two in the running.

Mind you, it might be tough to keep social-conservative Derek Sloan in the race. When the MP made the gaffe of attacking Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief medical office of health, last week, many of his fellow conservative caucus members were calling for his head.

There might be other reasons to keep Leslyn Lewis in the race. It seems that $200,000 is a lot to spend on proving that the conservative party is not the white-bread party of old. When you listen to her social-conservative views, it is hard to think of her as a popular member of Toronto’s black community.

But even if Peter MacKay’s campaign never does shake its doldrums, O’Toole is almost as boring. He reminds us of the Porky Pig character that used to break through the drum at the end of Looney Tunes cartoons, saying, “Th-Th-That’s all folks.”


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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It’s all about politics.

Tuesday, April 28th, 2020

There was a suggestion in the news the other day that few of us are interested in politics at this time. The assumption was that the coronavirus has chased politics out of the driver’s seat of the daily news. In my humble opinion, that is just so much twaddle. The coronavirus was not sent our way by all-powerful gods. We ended up in this mess because somewhere, some politicians screwed up.

The most reliable reports, at this time, are that the politicians in charge in Wuhan City of China were afraid to bother the top dog politicians in Beijing. They became concerned about an unusual flu that was going around. And then things got out of hand, like people dying. You know what happened when the bosses in Beijing found out.

Nobody wanted to hear the news from the world health folks either. When they declared the novel coronavirus to be a pandemic, nobody had any reason to be happy—unless they had a stockpile of personal protective equipment.

Somebody had let the disease dogs out.

To make matters worse, it was all run by the politicians. Some smart politicians listened to the advice of their medical experts and acted accordingly. Some did not like what their medical people told them and twitted their frustrations. That guy in the American white house, told us it was just a passing fancy. It would go away. The mess in the United States today can be laid at the feet of this man who nobody thinks of as a politician.

People such as Captain Canada, in the person of Justin Trudeau, saw a need for leadership. Despite his minority federal government, the prime minister drew the provincial premiers into his magic circle. What the news media see as political unanimity, you should know it for what it is: political opportunity. If our prime minister could just get a haircut, the world would return to normal.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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Is Chuckles shooting blanks?

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2020

The lame duck conservative leader and leader of the opposition in parliament, Andrew Scheer, has a problem. Is nobody paying him any attention? Is it that difficult for him to squeeze past all the articles about the coronavirus and covid-19? Is the pandemic more important?

The answer to all three questions is ‘Yes.’

A lame duck leader, who is nothing but a place holder, until the party choses his replacement, is often ignored. Remember. he resigned to escape the ignominy of being voted out of office by the conservative party. It was the right thing to do. He should have known that the media would no longer come running to hear his words of wisdom.

And the current pandemic makes his situation even more difficult. Scheer’s comfort area is the house of commons. He knows this turf. He has had his best years there as an MP, as speaker and as leader of the opposition in parliament. He wants to keep this alive.

But in a pandemic, parliament is but a shadow of itself. Social spacing would force parliament to be a parliament of about 30 representatives of the people at a time. The other 308 members would be anxiously awaiting their turn.

And arranging for a virtual parliament with connections for all MPs is not an easy matter. Until adequate telecommunications can be made available for all members, some remote MPs would have to come into larger population centres to participate, until the high-speed, two-way connections can be completed in their ridings. Even then the management of sight and sound connections for more than 300 individuals, in isolation from each other, is a monumental task. It would require hundreds of technicians across the country and several hundred more in Ottawa. And do not forget that the parties have to be able to hold private caucuses.

Our parliamentarians are already learning from virtual committee meetings. No doubt they will be ready for a virtual parliament by the time the coronavirus has run its course.

And as for Chuckles, he is the forgotten man.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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Learning to love your local MP.

Monday, April 20th, 2020

In our time of need, do you not love the attention we are getting from our local politicians? I am thinking here of your federal member of parliament. This person is your lifeline to the decision makers in Ottawa. No matter what party they might represent, they also represent you. That is their job.

And this dual role is particularly important at this time of need. This is not a time of ‘politics as usual.’ No politician is going around shaking hands and kissing babies. When was the last time, he or she washed that hand? And try to kiss a baby at your peril.

Anything you want to do has to be at least two meters away.

This might be a good time for a serious talk. After all, do you really know why this person wanted to represent you in Ottawa? And you hardly want the usual B.S. about that. Do you know what committees your local member is sitting on and what they hope to achieve in those committees? There is a lot more to being a member of parliament than voting with your party.

If you want to talk about his or her politics, you could lead into it by asking what they think of the leadership position of their party. Even Justin Trudeau needs to be replaced some day. Canadians do not like elitists and they might catch up with the liberal leader soon.

But the most serious leadership problem is owned by the conservatives. These people drove away possible candidates when they made conditions for candidates to compete quite untenable. Their good ship Andrew Scheer is dead in the water and there is nobody left to steer the boat. As soon as there is a light at the end of the covid-19 tunnel, these people have to arrange for a fair fight for leadership.

And then there is the NDP. If you have one of those representing you and your neighbours, this could be fun. Ask what the heck they are going to do for leadership. If he or she tries to sell you Jagmeet Singh, you should vote for some one else next time out.

As for the greens, they might as well sell their services to another party that needs some environmentalists. It would not only make them more useful but it might do some good.

I think if more people took the trouble to meet and talk with their MP, we would have a very different parliament next time.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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The populism of the coronavirus.

Saturday, April 18th, 2020

We live in an age of populist political solutions but we never expected to have to deal with a populist pandemic. The problem is that a populism pandemic is blind. It strikes the rich and powerful one per cent as easily as the person in poverty. It can kill the old and infirm and the very young, and, carelessly, many in between. It is a leveler.

But it is how the politicians respond to the concerns and needs of their populations at this time that tells you much about them. Their grades are there for all to see.

For that man-child, Trump, in the American White House, his ditty for the day is. “Pandemic, pandemic go away, little Donald wants to play.”

Did you ever expect to see a subdued prime minister such as Boris Johnson in the United Kingdom? He looked a bit rocky after his harrowing experience with covid-19. We will have to wait to see if he learned anything.

Canada’s prime minister sits in the cat bird seat at Rideau Cottage, the nation’s media at his beck and call. His elitist solutions to a financial fix are still allowing hundreds of thousands of Canadians to slip through the sewer grates—the detritus of Canadian humanity. And it is at a time when Bell Canada and other telecommunications companies are reaping the profits—encouraging others to raise prices and profiteer from the silent death.

And then there are the phonies filling in for premiers in Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and Saskatchewan. Their bluster and promises are as hollow as their complaints about reaping the results of inadequate support and control of the long-term care facilities for the old and the frail and the incurable and incompetent in our society. The provinces promote inadequate facilities and pay the caregivers next to nothing—all in the interest of higher profits for their supporters.

Yes, we do measure our society on our treatment of the very young and the very old and those who cannot help themselves. This populist pandemic has found us wanting.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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Trudeau is in the catbird seat.

Saturday, March 21st, 2020

Canadians have never seen anyone so well positioned at the moment than prime minister Justin Trudeau. Popping in an out of Rideau Cottage like a cuckoo in a clock, the PM has the stage to himself. The news media await him. In his self-imposed isolation and working from home, to care for his wife and family, he is setting the scene for what can be a very long lock-down of our country.

It should be explained that the ‘catbird’ seat is an idiomatic American political expression for being in a position of importance when needed. And Trudeau has full advantage of the situation.

The first challenge to our government is to lower the curve of incidence of the disease while science struggles to find a cure. And next we have to keep the economy from a complete collapse. We will be paying for this pandemic for years to come.

What worries me is the number of my fellow Canadians who are falling through the cracks in what are still elitist solutions. Trudeau, his finance minister Morneau and Ontario premier Ford are all elitists and do not seem to understand the real needs of a varied society. I do not want to keep beating a dying horse here but they do not seem to be aware that there are marginalized people out there who are looking more desperate all the time.

Looking at what detail is available in some of these elitist solutions, is not a pleasing experience. Take the deferral of mortgages. That sure is a nice touch for the couple who were going to be evicted tomorrow. The only problem is that they still have to pay eventually and there will be additional costs for more interest. You do not get the lowest interest rates on mortgages.

At least we are in better shape than Americans. It looks like that jerk Trump has driven the American bus straight into a full-blown depression. The richest country in the world has been felled by a coronavirus.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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A debutante ball for John Baird?

Tuesday, February 11th, 2020

It is difficult to explain what kind of an event this will be. It has always been evident that John Baird wanted to make some kind of a statement in his lifetime. Nobody really believed it was his final act when he left the Harper cabinet. He always seemed to want to do more. He has seemed to be struggling ever since to make a statement.

It all made sense when he agreed to do the West Block show on Global Television on Sunday. If he is not studying the field for a run at the conservative leadership, why was he there? He knew all the right moves and he made them. Like a debutante, he is responding to the calling.

Look at his friend Jason Kenney. Kenney went west and found a calling. He is now the much-quoted premier of Alberta—the thorn in Justin Trudeau’s backside.

I always wrote of Jason Kenney and John Baird as Stephen Harper’s Bobbsey Twins. Those two just belonged on the same page. At the time, they were two 40-something bachelors who had made politics their careers. They both know how to manipulate that mean streak that runs through Canada’s conservative party to-day.

What impressed me most is that John Baird did not go after Trudeau’s new foreign affairs minister, François-Philippe Champagne. He said that he felt the Trudeau minister was doing a good job in John’s old portfolio and there was no need to criticize him for his handling of a difficult task, at a difficult time.

And that might be the tone that the conservatives across Canada are looking for in their next leader. They appear tired of the constant attack mode of their party at both the federal and provincial levels.

Even Jason Kenney has changed his tone a bit lately. It might be that the prime minister has been keeping his deputy, Chrystia Freeland, between them. Anything that can ward off the constant attacks from the west is helpful.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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It costs less than a house and you feel welcome.

Friday, February 7th, 2020

Huh? Sorry, I might have dozed off there. I was dreaming of running to be the leader of the Green Party of Canada. I will just have to run a “Go Fund Me” page for the $50,000. entry fee. It sure is a lot cheaper than the conservatives. They want $300,000 up front in that race.

But cheapness is not the only enticement. This vehicle has only been driven by a single elected leader. Elizabeth May drove it with great skill and determination. She took it from the ranting and roaring on training wheels stage into the hallowed halls of parliament.

But she had a hell of a time getting the party into lock step behind her. These people have to learn some discipline. They have to learn about the realities of power. And they have to realize that actual actions outweigh fuzzy objectives. They also need to learn to synchronize their social media postings.

My first problem might be the party’s vetting committee. Getting by these worthies (no matter whom they might be!) could be a challenge. Their secret is they are secret and their deliberations are secret and their decisions are secret. And, frankly, they should stay secret and go away. These people have never realized that the public want politicos who are open, transparent, honest and never beat their spouse.

The idea of having these exorbitant entry fees is to discourage charlatans and thrill seekers from running for the publicity or just the heck of it. It is also necessary for you to show off your skills as a person who knows how to separate the wealthy from their ill-gained loonies. Just why the leader should also be the chief fund-raiser is left unsaid.

What does not seem to worry any of the possible candidates is party policy. They all seem to be in tune with Green is good. As for the rest of it, they are all over the map.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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Can the Tory race get more boring?

Wednesday, February 5th, 2020

This is ridiculous. So far, this is not a race, it is more like a baby crawl. The conservative party of Canada, midwifed by Stephen Harper at the turn of the century, has fallen on hard times. And, so far, only one of the two candidates has ponied up his $300,000 fee for the privilege of contesting for the party leadership.

But look what the race has to offer. They are Mr. Bland and Mr. Blander. They are white bread loaves on a multi-grain shelf. In a country going forward, the conservatives are reaching back to the past.

It was over 20 years ago that Peter MacKay served up the Progressive Conservative Party of the past to the ravages of Harper and his hard-nosed western posse of Reform. As Jean Charest discovered recently this is not his PC party of the 1990s. He looked, he saw, he fled.

The apparatchiks of the conservative hegemony—with the greed of its westerners, the narrow focus of the social conservatives and the ‘quid pro quo’ of its financiers—tried to keep Pierre Poilievre in the race for some balance. They failed. Poilievre is a westerner who had come east to where his name made it easier to get elected. He now found himself caught between easterners—like a weasel between two hamsters. They could have smothered him.

And did we mention Erin O’Toole MP? He is not to be disturbed at the moment. He is beating the bushes for the angels his campaign needs to compete. It is no small step.

But what the conservatives really need is leadership. The only thing the party can possibly offer its supporters is a path to power. Without someone capable of producing that result, this leadership race is just another race to nowhere.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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