Posts Tagged ‘Leadership’

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

Has anybody seen Jagmeet?

Wednesday, April 11th, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

The conflicts of Jagmeet Singh.

Wednesday, March 21st, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

In defence of populism.

Saturday, March 17th, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Donald Trump Lite and the Ontario PCs.

Sunday, March 11th, 2018

After spending Saturday afternoon watching Rosemary Barton and CBC News struggling with the Ontario Conservative fiasco, I was not sure whether the party or the news media did the worst job. It was embarrassing. I actually paid the CBC $6.85 plus GST for the right to watch that screw-up on streaming video. And I want my money back.

I spent a career working on news conferences, conventions, political rallies, candidate selections and leadership contests across Canada. I always worked to the rule that whatever happens is supposed to happen and you live with it.

But I never considered that you could have a disaster such as the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party leadership announcement.

The worst of it was that nobody seemed to be in charge. There seemed to be nobody willing to deal with the news media. There was no information shared with the attendees. They waited for hours without anyone coming to the microphone to apologize for the delays and then they were sent home without answers. Like wayward children, they were sent to bed without their supper.

What really amazes me is that when you are using computer collection of data (such as voting) that you would not write the simple program needed to count those votes. The only time I complained about the weighting of the ridings is when I tried to simulate a program to do that in preparing Babel-on-the-Bay’s Morning Line.

I estimated that there would be less than 70,000 votes cast. It was also clear that Tanya Granic Allen was the fringe candidate. She did better than expected but still came fourth.

It was the collapse of the Caroline Mulroney campaign that surprised us. Like her father, her campaign was just hot air. She blew it.

But it was the attempt to make all electoral districts equal that left the Tories in a mess. Like the electoral college in the U.S., the Tories had an undemocratic system. In the end, Christine Elliott won the most votes and Doug Ford won the election.

All I could think of last night was that Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne had a chance to resign last year. We can only hope that she takes a look at what Hillary Clinton did wrong in the last U.S. election. She has to remember that there are lots of angry conservatives in Ontario. Her and her party have to win the rest.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

The Ontario PCs in Wonderland.

Friday, March 9th, 2018

Vic Fedeli is hardly the Alice in Wonderland who foolishly headed down the rabbit hole. Yet it was Interim conservative leader Fedeli who first let on that Patrick Brown might not have been telling the whole truth about party memberships. And with three of the four candidates still in the running asking about “tainted” memberships, it sounds like they are laying the groundwork for potential challenges to the outcome of the leadership contest on Saturday.

We would never question why Doug Ford and the Mulroney camp would know how to create false memberships. It is when both camps demand that memberships paid by prepaid credit cards be rejected they seem to know what they are doing. They certainly do not want all those cards voting.

Vic Fedeli seemed even less forthcoming when he told the news media that he could not find 67,000 of the supposed 200,000 memberships that former leader Patrick Brown claimed were signed up by last November. In as much as Patrick Brown signed up about 40,000 from the Indian Sub-continent in 2015 to swamp the PC Party membership, it is highly unlikely that any of those temporary memberships have been renewed.

(It absolutely amazes this old politico that the news media keep buying into the idea that the social conservatives won the leadership for Brown in 2015. It is unlikely that Tanya Granic Allen’s vote will be announced on Saturday but she will likely be the first candidate dropped from the count. She might get as much as 10 to 15 per cent of votes cast but that could take every possible “Right to Life” vote in the party.)

The reality of voting in the party’s confused voting system is that the winning candidate has to not only win the most votes but to have them distributed proportionally across enough electoral districts. The voting system is designed to work against the candidate who has his or her vote concentrated in just one area of the province. It is why in the last all candidate appearance in Ottawa, Doug Ford must have mentioned being in every area of the province except Toronto. Ford Nation cannot help him without strong support from outside Toronto.

The heavy betting seems to be on Christine Elliott. The only question is that if she does not win on the first ballot count—where would she get the second-choice votes to go on to win? There might be further twists and turns before this race is decided.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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