Posts Tagged ‘Leadership’

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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When NIMBY’s win, we all lose.

Friday, January 31st, 2020

It has been almost a year since Barrie city council decided to do further research on a safe injection site in their town. Some of my neighbours were there to tell the councillors that they did not want it in their neighbourhood. I am sorry I was not there. I would have forgiven the neighbours who did not know better. I would not have forgiven the councillors who had a moral responsibility to lead and failed us.

The location chosen by an expert group lead by the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, the Gilbert Centre and Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) was at the CMHA district centre just a few doors up Mulcaster Street from Barrie City Hall. It is across the street from the Ontario courts. That is why most of the larger homes in the area have been converted to lawyers’ offices. The experts had researched the question for about a year before deciding on this location.

And yet they were told that is not enough. The detractors claimed that the year of work was “fundamentally flawed.” They failed to explain how they also thought it was something that could “devastate a neighbourhood.”

Another complaint from the NIMBY’s was that it was too close to the David Busby Centre that deals with outreach to the homeless. The fact it is nearby seems irrelevant when you realize the difference in clientele. It also seems a puzzle as to just how big these people think Barrie’s downtown might be?

As important as it is that these people be heard, you have to wonder how nine people can convince council to bend to their will. Barrie has a critical situation in connection to the consumption of opioids. It is reputed to have the second worst problem among large cities in Ontario. Councillor Keenan Aylwin claimed that further delay in approving a site will lead to “dozens more deaths.”

It is hard for anyone to justify the unnecessary deaths caused by this further delay in what is an urgent need. Barrie council had a responsibility to its citizens and it should have done its job. For a bunch of NIMBY’s to come to council to delay this further is a disgrace for the entire city.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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Big tents are hard to move.

Sunday, January 19th, 2020

If only we had a nickel for every time someone told us that Canada’s conservative and liberal parties are ‘big tent’ parties. Big tent parties are, as the name implies, large enough to accommodate many different views, as opposed to smaller, narrow interest parties. You can think of the big tent parties as being big enough to include the three rings of a circus tent. And, I can assure you, what goes on inside those parties has all the earmarks of being a circus.

But where all the clowns, aerialists, lion tamers and elephants get together is when the tent has to be moved. It requires all hands.

The federal conservatives are in the throws of one of those moves. With political parties, you never know where these moves are going to end up. Which segment of the party will dominate? Will it be the old school such as Peter MacKay from the Mulroney years, Pierre Poilievre of the Harper legions from the turn of the century or some one from the social conservatives, who have always felt left out?

We are not sure if there are really any Red Tories left? Or is there a populist with the bombast of a Doug Ford out there, ready to declare? We have yet to be introduced to all the potential players. Not that the rules permit casual inclusion in this soiree. The price of entry is stiff to keep out the adventure seekers and other riffraff who just want the notoriety. The voting rules will winnow the candidates down to the bland and acceptable.

The party learned nothing from its adventure with Chuckles Scheer. They have the history of their party to teach them the foolishness of how they are voting. The rules are clear. You either win on the first ballot or the party goes down to defeat with another loser.

The theme for the convention in June should be the haunting lyrics of Stephen Sondheim’s Send In the Clowns. Oh well, Maybe next year!


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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“Enter Laughing.”

Saturday, January 18th, 2020

So, you want to be an actor? And Canada is the theatre. Nova Scotian Peter MacKay, once more wants to be conservative leader. It reminds us of the semi-autobiographical novel by American humourist Carl Reiner. He turned the book into a successful movie in 1967 and launched his career in Hollywood. Frankly, MacKay might be better off in Hollywood than in Canada’s conservative politics.

This is not the first time Peter MacKay has made the effort. He seems to have forgotten how Stephen Harper handed his head last time around. Once more, he is heading into the buzz saw of Western Reform politics. MacKay is a ‘progressive’ among conservatives and that spells ‘wimp’ to westerners.

And anyone who thinks Peter MacKay means competence, could not know the man. He is a light-weight, an egoist and is only impressed by money. He is Brian Mulroney redux. He is an old-time progressive conservative, astray and lost in the 21st Century.

I say this when I am not even a conservative. The guy is a waste of our time. He is just another lawyer obfuscating life.

But he is welcome to join the downhill race to the conservative leadership. He could hardly do worse than Chuckles Scheer.

Can you imagine the temerity of the damn fool to make his announcement that he is running on Twitter? How shallow and inconsequential could he make the contest? He’s a twit.

You would think that MacKay would have matured somewhat since he was last in politics. It hardly sounds like it!

But back to Carl Reiner’s talents: There is a man who can stand tall while laughing at life. What he could teach Peter MacKay about life is that the high points of your life are when you enter and when you exit. If you do those two well, you’ve aced it.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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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.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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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.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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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.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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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.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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