Posts Tagged ‘Leadership’

Left, Right and In-Between.

Sunday, September 1st, 2019

Labelling people is always a mistake. Even in psychiatry, people show tendencies down different pathologies. You hesitate to label them. In politics people are often confused by the parties in an election making promises outside their usual right or left-wing stance. During an election is no time to be doctrinaire.

I think it was Paul Martin Jr. who used the slogan, in private, “Campaign Left, Rule Right.” Whether he did or not, he was the first federal liberal leader I refused to support. I despised the way he could so callously strip Canada of much of the federal support for social programs during the Chrétien years. And I think a large number of Canadians agreed with me. The only problem was that I regretted my anger when we ended up with Stephen Harper as the booby prize. He was even further to the right than Martin.

It is amusing that in John Ivison’s recent book on Trudeau, that the author thinks Canada might be less progressive than Trudeau seems to believe. I really do not think Canadians vote right or left. They vote for leadership. They vote for the leader who appears to be taking the country in the direction necessary. And many just vote for the guy or gal running in their riding who best represents them.

John A, Macdonald and his confreres put this country together with vision and bands of steel. His thing was the railroad linking the country together. And, come hell or high water, he achieved that goal.

I think today, Canadians have too many pressures on them to come to a common understanding of where this country should be headed. All it should take is leadership and, frankly, we are not getting any. There is not one leader of a federal party in Canada worth a damn.

I would make something of an exception for Elizabeth May but her problem is that rag-tag bunch behind her that could not even run a Tim Hortons franchise. And do not ask them if they are right or left. Most would have to ask their leader.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

When voters can care less.

Tuesday, July 16th, 2019

When we talk about the Ontario voters who now regret their urge to vote for the Ford conservatives last year, we are hardly talking about all. Many of these same people are proud to tell you that they will vote for Andrew ‘Chuckles’ Scheer’s conservatives this fall. The entire conservative election strategy can be summed up as: identify the knuckle-draggers; make sure they vote.

And you know you cannot win any argument over it. They know that Chuckles is a wus. He is their wus. They hate Justin Trudeau. They see him as the arch enemy. They refer to him with homophobic slurs. They never see him as doing anybody any good. They blame him for all of our national debt. They have very convenient memories of Stephen Harper’s reign.

It makes me want to take back every nasty word I have ever said about Justin. He might not be much of an environmentalist but he might be the best we will get for a while. If he had asked me about voting reform, he could have saved a mess of embarrassment promising that it was the last time we would use first-past-the-post. Mind you, the fact we still have first-past-the-post could save his job for him in October.

And how can a guy who needs to be able to count on women to tip the scales for him in October, make such an ass of himself with Jody Wilson-Raybould? Here he is mistreating women when he has no idea of how to handle that idiot Trump in the White House. Was he too busy getting selfies with all those world leaders he met, not to bother making nice with the president of China?

No, our prime minister is not perfect. He should get the praise he deserves and the smack downs for when he screws up.

But the very thought of Chuckles in the prime minister’s office is enough to make me upchuck. The conservatives picked him out of a field of 13 candidates to sit in opposition until they could choose a more popular and dynamic leader sometime in 2021. They never thought Chuckles would even be a contender this year.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

How Justin Trudeau can win.

Sunday, June 2nd, 2019

There is a summer of barbeque season to go before Canadians get into the cut and thrust of a federal election. And it is certainly to soon to say who might win. It is even to soon to consider the odds for a morning line. What we can do is pontificate on winning strategies for the parties. Today we will address the liberal party.

I was there in 1974 when Pierre Trudeau took our liberals into the same kind of meat grinder as his son is facing in 2019. It seems that the two Trudeaus share the same need for a harsh lesson on the realities of politics. In 1974, Pierre learned to pay attention to his political advisors. The question now is, can Justin learn?

Think of how you would react, for example, if Justin Trudeau invited Jane Philpott and Jody Wilson-Raybould back into the liberal party and his cabinet? It would be a bold move and would silence some of the strong criticism he faces.

Or what if sometime, out on the barbeque circuit this summer, he detailed a plan, not for a corridor just for pipelines and communications links across Canada, but also for high-speed electrified trains? Since communications and pipelines already use rail corridors, when they can, it would make more sense than the conservative plan.

This next idea needs to be thought through and smoothed out. What Trudeau needs is a more substantial slogan than “Sunny days.” I think it has to be something that captures the imagination more like “Nobody left behind.” While he could woo the middle-class last time, this time he needs something more all-encompassing. I think he has pissed off more than a few of our seniors by ignoring them over the past four years. Not everyone is satisfied with a selfie.

Our aboriginals also need to feel loved. (But damn-it-all, do not put on another feathered headdress.) Justin just needs to roll down his shirt sleeves, burn his tie, put on his jacket and get serious about Canada’s real needs.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

A year late and a candidate short.

Friday, May 3rd, 2019

Welcome to the fray, Jeremy Broadhurst. As the just appointed campaign chair for the liberals this year, you have your work cut out for you. I would not say the job is impossible but Easter is over and I am sure God restricts us to only one resurrection per year. Getting Justin Trudeau’s liberals campaign for re-election back to life will be a tough chore.

But you have to admit that any guy who could have us believing that foreign minister Cynthia Freeland is at least a foot taller than actual, has to be a miracle worker in anyone’s book. As the minister’s chief of staff, Broadhurst backed her up during some very tough negotiations in Washington. She might not have come off a miracle-worker but surviving the melee counts for something.

And it is too bad Broadhurst is probably having to work on the if-come. Fund-raising for the liberals has been tanking and there might not be much on the dinner table for a while.

But when you realize that Broadhurst took on the tough jobs in the last federal election, while back-stopping the group of dilettantes around school teacher Justin Trudeau, you are inclined to give him a look. Justin might have been raised in a quasi-political household but his father learned to let the politicos do their jobs.

Broadhurst has nowhere near the seasoning of the late Senator Keith Davey. Nor does he have the training for the job that Keith gave to Senator David Smith.

A funny footnote on David Smith was that he had never won an election as a candidate without my help. He called me when the writ was dropped for the 1993 election and asked me to spend the election commuting to Barrie from Toronto to run the liberal campaign in what was then York-Simcoe riding. I do not recall what I told him. It was probably something terse. It amused me later that York-Simcoe was the only riding the liberals lost in Ontario. David complained to me that Jean Chrétien kept telling, anyone who would listen, that it was David’s fault the liberals lost York-Simcoe.

But the point of this is that Broadhurst is taking on this campaign about a year too late. He is starting from the bottom of a hole that Justin Trudeau dug with the help of Gerald Butts and company.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

If Harper is a bully, what is Trudeau?

Thursday, April 4th, 2019

The last two prime ministers tell us much about this country of Canada. In June 2015, I wrote a comment on PM Stephen Harper, accusing him of being a bully. It seemed to be his way of making up for his deficiencies as a human. A reader reminded me of that comment the other day when I forecast that Jody Wilson-Raybould would soon be a non-liberal MP. He wanted to know if that meant Justin Trudeau was also a bully?

The answer was ‘No.’ If Stephen Harper was still prime minister and Jody Wilson-Raybould his justice minister, she would have been out of the cabinet last December. Nor would his chief of staff or clerk of the privy council need resign. In Stephen Harper’s Canada, the divine right of kings and prime ministers still prevails. And he is very much a hands-on type of guy.

But we now have Justin Trudeau at the helm of this ship of state. He watched as his hand-picked chief of staff and his obsequious clerk of the privy council each (figuratively) took a bullet for him. He did not have the guts to tell a woman what he wanted and he paid the price.

The late Pierre Trudeau was a great guy who stood up for Canada and he stood up for his own legacy. His son, Justin, is a wimp. Some legacy!

But there is a rub folks. Who wants a Jagmeet Singh government? Who could tolerate a ‘Chuckles’ Scheer government? There is a country at stake here, smarten up!

Liberals across Canada have six months to do better. First, we tell Justin Trudeau to resign. Then we have a leadership race to replace him and have a fair fight down to the wire in October.

And remember that you do not have to have a sitting liberal MP as leader of the party. Let me just throw the name of Elizabeth May into the mix. We have choices.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

The sinking ship Singh.

Sunday, October 7th, 2018

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

But Singh must first understand the difficulty of his position.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

One Canada: Two men named Trudeau.

Sunday, July 1st, 2018

Is Justin Trudeau building on or confusing the legacy of Pierre Trudeau? Thinking back to that Canada Day 50 years ago when Pierre Trudeau was our new prime minister, I think of two very different men. As the wife and I decided the first time we met Justin Trudeau, he is a very different person than his father.

The wife pinned it down by simply stating that Justin Trudeau was probably more like his mother. He is certainly not the aesthetic nor intellectual as was his father. Justin marches to his own drummer. It was only when seeing him speak at his father’s funeral that we saw that there was a nascent politician in the offing.

In his actions as prime minister, Justin Trudeau has built on his father’s legacy of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. He has added a strong pro-feminist stance to our governance as well as a clearer understanding of abortion rights. And we at least have a start towards a declaration of the right of the individual to death as well as life.

But somewhere along the way growing up, Justin must have seen the vehemence of the hatred in Alberta for his father’s national energy policy (NEP). It was as though the elder Trudeau was stealing the bread from Albertan mouths rather than grandfathering the rights of Alberta to its natural resources-based economy. The NEP was forever labelled as an affront and as poaching on Albertan rights. It probably did not bother the father as much as the son.

Yet, no amount of pandering to political greed is going to change the perceptions of many Albertans. Justin Trudeau has even betrayed his hard-won image as a poster boy for the environment. By offering to buy the Trans Mountain pipeline and make it a federal government project, he has betrayed the Paris environmental agreement with most of the world.

The expanded pipeline is designed to pump Alberta highly polluting tar sands bitumen at high pressure to Burrard Inlet and ocean-going tankers. Ersatz crude oil from the tar sands is produced at three times the usual pollution before it is refined to any of many oil products.

Pierre Trudeau loved the natural beauty of Canada and was an avid canoeist. What is the heritage his son Justin is leaving for his children as he so defiantly increases Canada and the world’s carbon footprint?

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

LDP 02: What is in a name?

Friday, June 22nd, 2018

One of the responses we received about a proposed new liberal democratic party (LDP) was from a reader who thought we could just join the Green party and be done with it. As much as I have admired green leader Elizabeth May’s hard work and leadership of the Green Party, I see no reason for liberals to join her party.

Just one of the problems is the name of the party. By calling itself the Green Party, it narrows its purpose, if not focus. It tells people that the party is about the environment and tells us nothing else.

The NDP is also very keen on the environment and takes an equally strong stance. Its problem is that much of its rhetoric is still based on the socialism of the 1930s. The party has failed to build an image for the 21st century.

Despite May’s intelligent and well-researched positions on many aspects of governance, she cannot be all-knowing. As a one-person party, May is stretched beyond reason in parliament. Many MPs over the years have admitted to me that it is about all you can do in parliament is keep up to date on one department as well as do your constituency work

Even the liberal party has taken positive stands on protecting the environment—until prime minister Justin Trudeau’s recent offer to buy and ship highly polluting Alberta bitumen through an expanded Trans Mountain pipeline. Not only is government participation in shipping bitumen bad economics but it is enraging a core of environmentally concerned liberals. Justin Trudeau and the liberals will need all of their mobs for re-election next year and will not find all of them.

But the liberal mobs had already felt themselves adrift. For some inexplicable reason, Trudeau had decided much earlier that he did not like his father’s party. As useful as the party had been to him, he wanted a top-down structure that he could manipulate to his choosing. He went from no party membership fee (and no membership) to a large group of e-mail addresses for people to harangue for help in campaigning and to provide the campaign funds. Those of us who think of ourselves as liberals have been cast aside for the gullible and the monied.

After next year, we will need a new federal liberal party as well as provincial.

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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

Did Brown lay the table for Ford?

Sunday, June 17th, 2018

The only newspaper in Ontario that gave a real damn about the lynching of conservative leader Patrick Brown back in January was his hometown Barrie Advance. It is owned by the Toronto Star and while it is just a poor quality shopper in which to wrap grocery flyers, the publication has editorials just like a real newspaper. It is the only regular print media in a city of close to 150,000 people. This past week (it is a weekly publication), it had an editorial saying that “Brown’s work helped Ford win.”

This bravura assertion is questionable. There is probably a long list of people who helped Doug Ford win the Ontario conservative leadership and then the provincial election. I think we can all agree that the first name on that list should be premier Kathleen Wynne. Her quitting the race a week before election day was the guarantee that Ford would win.

A close second was new democratic leader Andrea Horwath. Her inadequate and incompetent leadership of her party left Ontario voters no choice. Her hidebound position on the York University strike before the election left voters with the clear impression that she could only follow the party line.

I thought the guy who really helped Ford was Patrick Brown’s friend Walied Soliman. He was chair of Brown’s campaign team and “The People’s Guarantee” that Walied’s team put together and had Brown present last November was one of the most brilliant pieces of propaganda that I have seen for a long time. Weak in content, it made up for it in slickness. Ford only loathed it because it had Brown’s picture on the cover.

But the unknown person who orchestrated the charges against Brown by the two young ladies was the real hero of the hour. The timing was perfect. It also showed that the person was not a liberal. It had to be a conservative who recognized that the momentum for whomever became conservative leader could be unstoppable.

And why Walied and his team all told Brown they were resigning and leaving him in the lurch back in January made little sense. As a lawyer, Walied was obviously not thinking as one to leave his friend in such a situation. And any lawyer taking on Brown’s case against CTV might just do very well on a contingency fee.

Brown was a timebomb for the Ontario conservatives. We knew how women felt about him and it was certainly his Achilles’ heel. The only thing he did to help Ford win, was to resign.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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