Posts Tagged ‘Leadership’

Ontario offers the bland and the pit bull.

Tuesday, January 7th, 2020

We are still a while from knowing the slate of candidates for the federal conservative party leadership, but there are two Ontario MPs lining up their teams. They are Erin O’Toole from Durham and Pierre Poilievre from Carleton. I think of them as the bland and the pit bull.

Erin O’Toole is so bland that he came third behind Andrew Scheer and Maxime Bernier in the last conservative leadership race. As the party is going to repeat the foolishness of a preferential ballot, he has to figure that he has a good shot at the leadership this time. You do that in preferential voting by being the second, third or fourth choice of most of the voters.

He is obviously good at mathematics and that must have been why the Canadian air force trained him as a navigator. As a lawyer, he seems to have had little interest in pleading cases and most of his time as a lawyer was spent advising corporate clients.

Between O’Toole and Poilievre, it will be the Ottawa-area based Poilievre who will get most of the media attention. I am hardly the first person to equate him to a pit bull but I feel that comparing him to a pit bull is giving pit bulls a bum rap.

When Ontario tried to ban pit bulls in 2005 (the law is still on the books), it found that pit bulls are not just a single breed. When you have a bad-tempered dog, the first thing you should do is check the owner. Ask whether the dog has been trained, at all? Is it used to being around young people? Should it be muzzled when out in public?

Poilievre was former PM Stephen Harper’s pit bull. He was as nasty as his master. He often seemed to have neither respect for the truth nor any respect for parliament. I think the conservatives would be better off if the party kept him muzzled when out in public.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

Kenney warns “Canada oil, gas sector has no future.”

Sunday, December 29th, 2019

The Canadian Press quoted Alberta premier Jason Kenney recently on his pessimism about federal approval of the proposed Frontier mine in Northern Alberta. The proposed open-pit mine, north of Fort McMurray, would be Canada’s largest and could produce 260,000 barrels of bitumen per day for processing into synthetic oil.  It would also produce more than four million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions every year for the next forty years.

The choice for the federal government is considered quite simple. The feds can blow their way past any hope of meeting any “Net Zero by 2050” emissions standards. What makes the decision even tougher is the giving up of $12 billion in federal tax revenues and another $55 billion in Alberta tax and royalty revenues.

Mind you, Jason Kenney doesn’t give a damn about the federal government’s problem. Just pass him the money.

This new Teck Frontier mine will eventually take up 292 square kilometres (112 square miles) of wetlands and boreal forest. It will require 7000 employees to get it up and running and then 2500 employees for the 40-year life projected for the mine.

The only approvals awaited are those of the federal-provincial task force studying the deal and then the federal cabinet.

The only question mark that remains unanswered is when is Kenney going to tell us that he could do a better job for Alberta in the house of commons in Ottawa. The guy seems to spend more time polishing his federal profile than taking his job as premier seriously. With some 18 years of experience in the house of commons, he was not only Stephen Harper’s go-to guy but he built a strong campaign base for himself in that time.

The Trudeau government has until late February to make a decision about the Teck proposal. That also might be the logical time for the cut-off on candidates for the federal conservative party leader. An experienced campaigner such as Kenney could handle that.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Lest we forget, Charest.

Monday, December 23rd, 2019

It is likely to be a frosty Friday when Canada’s conservatives turn to former Quebec premier Jean Charest. They are just not that desperate, yet. It will be a while before the full field of candidates emerges for the race to replace Chuckles Scheer.

Canada’s conservatives want a winner to lead their party. Scheer brought them to more seats in the house of commons, he brought them to winning the popular vote across Canada, he reduced the autocratic Trudeau liberals to a minority and it still was not good enough for his party. He was torn from office like by a pack of wolves. He was culled from the herd as though he was found wanting.

But can Charest be that winner? The former conservative, former liberal, is penned in at the gate, ready to rumble in the rodeo.

He brings strengths and knowledge and backers. He is not the new kid in town. He was the wunderkinder from Sherbrook of the Mulroney conservatives of 1984. In two years, he was in Mulroney’s cabinet. When the conservatives where left with two seats after the rout of 1993, Charest was leader of the progressive conservative party. He fought the independence referendum in Quebec as an official of the ‘No’ side. The slim win for the ‘No’ convinced many of Quebec’s major business concerns to look for someone to take on the ruling Parti Québécois. The pressure was put on Charest to move to provincial politics as leader of the Quebec liberals.

And, if you have ever wondered, the conservatives of Quebec are mainly members of the Quebec liberal party. The party there spans the middle ground of politics. It was an easy move for Charest and he took it. He made the move in 1998 but it took him until 2003 to win a majority government for the liberals. He left provincial politics after his liberals were defeated in 2012.

Charest is not going to win followers in the West with his strong stand on environmental issues and his support for Quebec’s special status. And, quite honestly, I think the former wunderkinder, in his 60s, looks tired.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Let’s get this show on the road.

Sunday, November 17th, 2019

As an Ontario liberal (a paid-up member), I am aware that there is a contest afoot to select a new Ontario party leader. And I hear that only those paid up by December 2, 2019 will be eligible to be elected to go to that easily corrupted delegated-convention in Toronto at the beginning of March 2020 to choose the new leader.

But what kind of a race is this if the four Toronto area candidates and the London area candidate (so far) do not take their shows on the road? Those of us in central and northern Ontario are not just window dressing. And we like to influence where the party is going. It is hard to have an opinion when you have never met any of the candidates.

I must admit that Michael Coteau from Don Valley East in Toronto is running the most aggressive campaign so far. He has bought that NationBuilder software and makes a very credible presentation. He keeps supporters and possible supporters informed and is more sensitive than the federal liberals in how often and how aggressively he asks for financial support.

Coteau also stays away from the trite political language and asks people to think. He is running an idea-based campaign. The problem is the web sites, FaceBook pages, Twitter and the others, do not make a campaign. Politically-active people need face time.

This is something that Mitzi Hunter, the other sitting MPP understands. Yet the media assume that former MPP and cabinet minister Steven Del Duca is in the lead because of the low-hanging fruit in support that he features in his web site.

I think Kate Graham from London will add something to the race. I have often wondered how a political science academic would do in a real leadership contest? Alvin Tedjo is the other inexperienced candidate and yet, he works from his strengths with some excellent podcast material on his web site.

But it is expensive for the candidates as it is for the people attending the March convention. With only five candidates, it would be a shame to lose any of them at this stage.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

 

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