Posts Tagged ‘Liberal Leadership’

Together, we can.

Monday, April 22nd, 2019

Prime minister Trudeau asked for party unity last week. He was at the Ontario liberal gathering in Mississauga. It was a friendly crowd. He told them that liberals fighting each other only helps the conservatives. I cannot argue that but before agreeing with him, Justin needs to learn to listen to his party.

This was the first time, to my knowledge, that he even admitted that liberals cross Canada have been concerned and disturbed by the SNC-Lavalin affair. Many of us listened with growing dismay to the presentations before the parliamentary justice committee by former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, principal secretary Gerald Butts and privy council clerk Michael Wernick.

What liberals did not see during the months absorbed by this case, was leadership from the leader of the liberal party. “Where’s the wimp?” was the concern.

Our liberal party was being trampled. The opposition were having a field day of scorn. The news media were bugling ‘Boots and Saddles’ as they smelled blood.

And where was Justin Trudeau? He was telling (or sending instructions to) the liberal members of the parliamentary committee to stonewall the other parties. He never really answered any questions in the House. He demoted justice minister Wilson-Raybould.

To add to his problems, he usurped the role of caucus in determining who can be a member of caucus and the role of the party in choosing its representatives. If nothing else, he could have listened to the party. These people are his friends. They had questions. They were in the dark. They had the right to know what the hell was going on.

And was MP Jane Philpott just collateral damage? Or was she supposedly the Wicked Witch of the East who was under Dorothy’s house when it landed in Oz?

During this fiasco, all the concerned liberals across Canada got were urgent pleas for money from the party. What we needed was to see some contrition from the leader.

If Andrew Scheer is prime minister of Canada at the end of October, it is on your head Justin.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Tip-toe through these tulips (Part 2).

Sunday, April 7th, 2019

Was it spite? The story of Jody Wilson-Raybould and her side-kick Jane Philpott has yet to be fathomed. What benefits them? They both had so much to offer. Wilson-Raybould was the first woman of aboriginal ancestry to serve in the cabinet. Her people needed her wisdom in that role. They deserve action, dignity, justice, recognition and reconciliation. It takes someone who has spent years in aboriginal councils to truly understand their needs.

In Ontario, we all watched last year as the irresponsible rage of the voters decimated the liberal caucus at Queen’s Park. Instead of good government, we elected an incompetent blowhard and his mealy-mouthed conservative followers. Why? We could certainly see it coming. It was like the voters in the United States who elected Donald Trump. “Take that you fools!” The voters burnt their bridges. They enjoyed a pyrrhic victory. May they enjoy their hell.

And here we are, watching the federal liberals bleed the votes they need in October. Does Justin Trudeau think all will be forgiven by then? The bleeding started even before he went to do his dress-up routine in Bollywood. He embarrassed Canadians.

Trudeau proved a poor leader. Many men interpret his self-declared feminism as weakness. Too many promises proved hollow. He had promised election reform without any background information. He introduced a weak and unsatisfactory assisted-suicide bill. He aided Canada’s nuclear families and forgot the seniors. He talked about an undefined middle class for whom he cared.

He preached environmentalism and then bought a pipeline to ship highly polluting tar sands bitumen to foreign parts, who are free to pollute as they wish.

Trudeau has seriously damaged the liberal brand. This was at a time when he needed the strength of the brand in the Atlantic provinces. He needed depth in Quebec. He can only split vote-rich Ontario. And the trip across the west is a downhill run for liberals all the way. He stands in the bottom of the hole he has dug for himself and his party, looking at a small piece of blue sky.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Tip-toe through these tulips.

Saturday, April 6th, 2019

This is a story about women of a certain age and how a man has to tip-toe carefully to explain or be maligned and castigated as sexist. It is just, by now, we should all be tired of the sexist claptrap surrounding the ongoing one-act play of Jody Wilson-Raybould. Yes, the prime minister was wrong. He dropped the ball.

But Justin Trudeau is a wimp. Do you really believe that Wilson-Raybould did not know that when she set out on her mission to destroy him? The problem between the prime minister and his justice minister needed to be settled in the confidentiality of cabinet, not out on the street like common drunken brawlers.

And it was hardly a fair fight. I think the prime minister was blind-sided. Gerry Butts and the clerk of the privy council tried to protect him and got caught in the threshing machine of the Ottawa media.

The only thing we really want to know is ‘Why?’ I have carefully brought up the subject with a number of women of similar age. They have raised their children. They might perceive their earlier sexuality as slipping away. Similar to Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott, they are successful in their profession and they are seeking that further elusive something else. They do not know what it is.

Is it a legacy, the notoriety, another mountain climbed, or the thrill of the kill by the huntress?

All I know is that it is a bad example for those young people who were in parliament to hear from the PM the other day. Who the hell told them they can turn their backs on the prime minister of Canada? Those young women need to understand that nobody demands your respect for the person but you should never ever disrespect the office.

In retrospect, in years to come, Wilson-Raybould will likely rue her legacy as the one who brought down a prime minister. So much more of likely benefit to her and her peoples was possible.

To be continued…

Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Ontario liberals need a leader.

Friday, April 5th, 2019

It is good to see that there are a number of worthy contenders already at the starting line for the upcoming leadership contest for the Ontario liberals. More important than the names of those individuals, at this point in time, are the rules for the race.

And the simpler the rules, the better. Over the years, we have seen too many of all parties’ leadership races twisted to unfair advantage by leadership contenders. Surprisingly, it is the more complex the rules, the easier it is to bend them. The simpler the rules, the harder it is for the unscrupulous to twist them to advantage.

First of all, it should always be one member-one vote. Delegated conventions have been corrupted for too many years. And all electoral districts are not equal, nor should they be counted as such. There is no way a riding with 500 members should be counted the same as one with just 100 members. You do not want to honour mediocrity. Nor should anyone pay their basic membership with anything other than their personal credit card. The occasional person with no credit card needs witnesses.

Nothing other than a single mark or the single click of a mouse should be the process for voting. Please do not try to speed the voting process with preferential voting. You are seeking the best not mediocrity.

To come to a majority decision is the democratic choice of the party and each ballot should be called without dropped candidates trying to influence the subsequent voting. They can only dignify the subsequent ballot with their silence.

And the party has to realize that fund-raising by candidates cannot be a yardstick for quality of leadership. Less is more in leadership. Ideas stand tall. Communications are in the content, not the gloss. Can this candidate walk in your shoes?

We have an opportunity in this leadership contest to be proud of our choice of leader. Let him or her really reflect the liberalism people need in to-day’s Ontario.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

‘Scheer’ Foolishness.

Wednesday, March 27th, 2019

It is to be hoped that someone in the Scheer family is keeping a scrapbook of the positive commentaries on Chuckles’ prospects in the federal election in October? It is a shame to get the poor guy’s hopes up. The scrapbook will help prove to his grandchildren that he really thought he was a contender.

But is it really fair? Andrew ‘Chuckles’ Scheer was the thirteenth choice out of thirteen contenders in the last confused conservative leadership contest. The second-place loser, Maxime Bernier, lost by so few percentage points, that he went off to form his own Peoples’ Party.

Not that the choice of Chuckles was all that popular. All his previous reign as Speaker of the Commons proved is that he is a conservative. He is dull, predictable and will lead the party nowhere. In a recent speech to a conservative audience, he hit all the hot buttons such as deficit reduction, building more pipelines and more free trade deals.

But, when it is time for leadership, Chuckles clocks out. We are not getting any sense of where he might be headed—besides some conservative Valhalla. In that speech, he also talked about dumping a couple of the liberals’ investment programs. These are the Canada infrastructure bank and the Asian development bank. Both of these programs are more conservative than liberal in origin and both have been slow at getting off the ground. Why Chuckles would want to dump them is not clear.

The one thing that is clear for Chuckles is that he cannot wing it in the election campaign in the same was as Doug Ford did in Ontario last year. While there is some disquiet about Trudeau and the liberals, there are not enough people mad at them to affect a change of government. For every pissed off liberal who thinks supporting Chuckles is the answer, two more new democrats will switch from Jagmeet Singh to Justin Trudeau. The pollsters can speculate as much as they like, but when push comes to shove in October, Trudeau will still be prime minister.

And even if it is a minority, do you really think a corporal’s guard of new democrats or greens would be crazy enough to support Chuckles?

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

First pick a direction.

Sunday, January 27th, 2019

It is ridiculous that people are speculating about the possible leaders of the Ontario liberal party so soon. We do have a choice. And the old adage says, we can decide now and repent at leisure. As we have mentioned before, we first want to figure out where the party is going.

Looking back at the provincial scene, it is hard to say what direction the party was choosing when it chose the leader first. Kathleen Wynne’s background was touted as left wing but quickly proved that, if she had any direction in mind at all, it was liberal socially and conservative economically. The exception was in her last campaign when she opened the left-wing floodgates and confused the voters.

Her predecessor, Dalton McGuinty was an old-time middle-of-the-road liberal who did a good job on schools and protecting the environment but he was very bad in managing people—particularly those in his government’s cabinet.

The only recent liberal premier before that was David Peterson—basically a nice guy who proved to be a neoliberal. While the province was ready for what he offered, he failed to build any rapport with Ontario voters.

What Ontario voters are really looking for in Queen’s Park is a to have a party in power that really is there for the people. This is a government responsible for the delivery of effective Medicare in the province, as well as ensuring that we have schools, colleges and universities that meet our needs for today and tomorrow. It is the level of government that deals with our daily living, our municipalities, our infrastructure (roads and bridges and public transit), our environment and a myriad of services that contribute to our quality of life.

These services require a government that understands that we are individuals with individual needs. We are not a collective. Nor are we necessarily competitive. We are not satisfied with minimal cost services. We want the best services at a reasonable cost. We want to be respected in the delivery of the services in a friendly society.

Real liberals believe in that type of society.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Parsing the political petulance.

Sunday, January 20th, 2019

Had an opportunity the other day to measure the mood of local liberals after the humiliation of last June’s provincial election. It was the annual meeting of the provincial party for Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte in central Ontario. All you had to do was mention premier Doug Ford and eyes rolled and teeth gnashed.

This electoral district was a rollercoaster of possibilities from the confused conservative events of January 2018 through to a very disappointing election day. We started with Ontario conservative leader Patrick Brown as the known candidate to tackle and ended up losing the electoral district to a parachute candidate, a carpetbagger appointed by Doug Ford.

It was not the largest turnout I had seen at an annual meeting for the liberal party in the area. It was a predominantly male group and the average age had to be close to 50. There was a definite lack of younger liberals. This group has its work cut out for it.

But the numbers were better than expected. The demographics were of concern but it was an unfamiliar location for the meeting and the wind chill outside was down to about -16 C.

And, we lost all three of our invited speakers. They were three of our seven MPPs from Queen’s Park who are testing their possibilities for a run at the party leadership—and all from Toronto. Two begged off with colds and the third was a no-show. (More about them another time.)

Once the business of electoral district elections was out of the way, the chair (a former MPP himself) asked for an open discussion of why the liberals lost so badly last June. He introduced the theme himself: anger.

There was general agreement on the anger. Where the disagreement emerged was the nature of that anger. Some thought it was just that the liberal government had run out of gas. Some thought it was Premier Wynne herself—she certainly came across as arrogant.

What worried me was those who thought the liberals had veered too far to the left and needed to come back to a more middle ground.

Personally, I think it is the reverse. Wynne is really one of those liberal socially and financially conservative liberals who tend to confuse the voters. And she made her own mistakes. The Sudbury candidate fixing fiasco was never forgiven. And the selling off of part of Hydro One was seen as bad advice, badly executed. The rest was just chatter.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Doppelgangers don’t do it.

Sunday, November 25th, 2018

There is a tendency among political leaders to have someone very much like themselves to serve as their chief of staff. It gives them confidence that the person will react as they do and carry out solutions much the same as their principal. It is a lazy person’s solution. And how smart is it, to pay two salaries for the same opinion?

The notion of this person being something of a doppelganger is based on a person and their pet, over time, coming to look like each other.

In fact, in Ontario, premier Doug Ford and his chief of staff, Dean French, are two arrogant white men in suits. They are too much alike. It is just that Doug Ford lets French do the dirty jobs. French phoning the head of Ontario Power Generation to tell him to fire former conservative leader Patrick Brown’s former chief of staff might have been the ultimate in irony.

The claim that French might have directed the police to make raids on illegal pot shops was far more serious. The idea of any politico directly directing the police in carrying out their policing duties is anathema to how Canadians see their police doing their duty. It carries the risk of being interpreted as something that happens in a police state.

There seems to be no such problems for prime minister Justin Trudeau. In this age of feminism, it would be fascinating to learn if his chief of staff, Katie Telford, makes as much as his principle secretary, Gerald Butts. It is obvious that both make over $200,000 and that is quite a bit more than the much-touted middle-class job.

But the doppelganger danger still pertains. The charmed circle with which Justin Trudeau surrounds himself is isolating him from argument and reality. We now have elite selections of senators, elite selections of judges, elite selections for boards and commissions. It would never hurt to have a modicum of political common sense included in making some of these appointments.

But both Ontario’s Doug Ford and Ottawa’s Justin Trudeau have too much ego for that. Both need to have some better exposure to contrary thinking. There does not seem to be much danger of that.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

“Wasn’t That a Party?”

Monday, November 12th, 2018

The Rovers got it wrong when they wrote a song about the party. It was certainly not the whiskey or the gin that is doing in the liberal party. It was the desperation for leadership. And Trudeau is a magic name to Canadian liberals. At a time when people are questioning the viability of political parties, they reached back into the party’s past.

But Justin Trudeau is not his father and he marches to a different drummer. He was playing the right tunes on his flute to impress the party’s urges for reform. He promised to restore the party’s right to selecting its candidates—and then, inconveniently, forgot.

And he thinks it should be a BYOB party. He got the party to give up the standard $10 memberships. He wanted lots more than that. He added people to the party lists for free, called them liberals and inundates the old and the new with e-mails for funds.

Justin Trudeau does not understand the functioning of a political party. What he failed to do was build the party in the electoral districts. He failed to understand the superior strength of the conservatives in the ground game. My district liberal association is meeting for the first time in two years later today and he expects them to mount a strong campaign next year?

But they have been left with nothing to do for the past two years. The national conventions have been for the party elite and its apparatchiks. The policy discussion has been cursory and carefully controlled. After conventions, policy is filed and forgotten, despite the right intentions. Nobody seems to be complaining about what Justin Trudeau is doing to their party. It is no longer the party it used to be.

We used to have regular meetings and events in the districts, in provincial regions and in the provinces. We used to meet to discuss policy, party structure and constitution. And we used to send experts out to the districts to inform them of the latest thinking on party communications and campaigning techniques. And more than 90 per cent of the work was done by volunteers.

As Pierre Trudeau found out in his second election campaign, the voters are fickle. In the general election of 1972, Pierre Trudeau won a slim majority of only two seats in the House of Commons. We shall see how Justin does next year.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Why should I apologize to Justin Trudeau?

Wednesday, November 7th, 2018

It was disconcerting the other day to have some readers complain about my insulting prime minister Trudeau. I casually ended a commentary by saying that nobody complains about our prime minister being too smart. Hell, neither one of us is riding that high on the IQ bell curve. And I can honestly state that, to my knowledge, nobody complains about him being too smart.

But what worries me is that I do not think he even likes people who are politically smart. Frankly, I find him elitist. He grew up to wealth and privilege and tends to choose that type of friends. If his father were here, he would be mortified.

He might use some politically savvy people in his cabinet but the smartest politician in the cabinet is Ralph Goodale, the right-wing minister of public safety from Regina. There are no real reformers.

But my criticism of our prime minister does not mean that I might not vote for the liberal candidate in my electoral district. Providing the person is selected by the liberals in the district, I might even see how I can help him or her get elected. I would not give you two cents for the current conservative dolt and I am not very likely to vote for a new democrat or green candidate unless it was a truly exceptional individual.

The problem is that I have been a liberal for the past 60 years and while the party has wandered away from my ideals occasionally, I support the liberal principles of individual rights and social reform.

But there is always hope. I had hopes for Stéphane Dion, but Stéphane was not his father either. His awkward English kept his intelligence from getting through to anglophone voters. Maybe the reverse was true for Michael Ignatief as liberal leader but I think he really had been out of the country much too long.

It was the growing frustration with the Harper years in Ottawa that led us to turn to the young Trudeau. Liberals were ready to forgive a lot to rid us of what Harper was doing to the country.

But it is still frustrating and I am tiring of listing Trudeau’s acts of bad judgement. His leadership is questionable. His liberalism is weak. And I resent his casual destruction of the liberal party.

But Trudeau is still ten times better than the other choices.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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