Posts Tagged ‘Liberal Leadership’

Our Prime Minister grunts.

Thursday, July 20th, 2017

Despite teaching public speaking, I occasionally took someone else’s course on public speaking just to make sure I was not slipping into bad speaking habits. We are all guilty of that. And teachers can be the harshest critics. You can include a former school teacher in that: The Prime Minister of Canada.

The first time I saw the newly elected Justin Trudeau MP in action with an audience, it was obvious he would go to the top job with ease. He was relaxed and enjoyed the interaction with his audience. He had a well memorized speech for them and I cannot remember a single word in it. It was personable, socially acceptable, politically somewhat neutral, feminist friendly and not overly critical of other politicians. The person thanking him was more political but for some reason the microphone started to act up for her and the thanks became meaningless and garbled.

But what impressed me the most is that he wanted to be sure that every person in that room had an opportunity to have a picture with him. He did not give much importance to the words being spoken. He was counting on his presence to do the job.

And here I thought only royalty were allowed to think that way.

But today, people are listening to him.

And that is not good because Justin Trudeau grunts. In this case the grunt comes out of his mouth as an “Ah.” This is a quirk of people who are thinking about what they intend to say next and are afraid of dead air. The “Ah” is drawn out to accommodate the thinking time needed. It becomes irritating.

You would have to get him to listen to a recording of his speech for him to realize what he is doing.

Luckily, when he is using a teleprompter, he does not have to grunt. There is no “Ah’ for him to read and he has little need to think ahead.

Where the grunts are most evident is in the House of Commons when he is answering the opposition and when answering media questions. He starts to talk before he has decided how to answer the question. He needs some remedial public speaking training.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Trudeau: Poster Boy or Action Figure?

Sunday, June 18th, 2017

Goodness! Is Prime Minister Justin Trudeau being criticized for not living up to his promises? Is he just a poster boy? Why is he not living up to his billing? He will have two years as prime minister in his pocket this October and some people are starting to have doubts.

What is the problem? Is he marching to a different drummer than what he promised Canadians? The transparency in parliament and the collegial atmosphere he promised there seem to be forgotten. His purported feminist support—because it is 2015—seems more like using neophytes as cannon fodder. He seems to have no urge to solve his cabinet problems.

What ties this liberal in knots is the why of his continued abuse of the Liberal Party. Today’s Liberals are not his father’s party. All the party is allowed to be is a mailing list for pleas for money. It is a propaganda mechanism and a source of suckers for fund-raising. The party that was has been gutted. The party executive are just yes-men and women. There is no policy discussion. The Leader is in control.

Justin Trudeau seems to live in some elite world of a monied aristocracy that only communicates with other elites. The only problem is that they seem to be running out of elites and nothing is happening on some serious appointments. He can hardly promise impartiality and then throw a Liberal hack on the table for an impartial position. Nobody tries hard to keep their word.

It is not like a promise that the 2015 election would be the last under first-past-the-post voting. That was a foolish promise that was proved impractical by parliamentarians giving up their summer last year to study it.

And, sorry Justin, you are not allowed to change the rules in parliament to suit your own wishes. Parliament belongs to the people. It has to be open and be fair to all parties.

Justin also needs to understand that he cannot suck and blow at the same time. If you are going to be the poster boy for the environment, you cannot send three times the amount of diluted bitumen over the Rockies on the Kinder Morgan pipeline. It makes you look like a hypocrite.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

En Marche Macron!

Thursday, June 15th, 2017

Did you know that French President Emmanuel Macron’s political party has only existed for a little more than a year? More than 66 per cent of French voters gave 39-year old Macron their support in the run-off election against right-wing candidate Marine La Pen. The party is reported to be fielding a full slate of candidates in the legislative elections under the banner of La République En Marche from its En Marche members, the Social Democrats and dissidents from the Socialist, Republican and minor parties. The Macron story has a cautionary tale in it for the Liberal Party of Canada.

En Marche is described as both socially and economically liberal. In France, that is thought of as being of the radical centre. It has much of the promise of the UK’s Tony Blair and American Bill Clinton’s previously proposed Third Way and it is the kind of social democratic party promised by Bernie Sanders in the United States last year. It is also the kind of party Justin Trudeau promised Canadians but so far has failed to deliver.

While one gets the impression that his predecessor President François Hollande considers him something of an ‘Enfant Terrible,’ Macron described himself as a centrist even when a member of the socialists. Based on his published economic promises and speeches, academics also consider him a centrist. Mind you, French politicians have a reputation of being Bolsheviks at breakfast, liberals over lunch and dogmatic conservatives by dinner time.

President Macron and Prime Minister Trudeau should get on well. With Trump replacing Obama on the international scene, Macron and Trudeau should be natural allies. And along with Germany’s Angela Merkle, they can dominate the G-20 countries and speak as one to Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

There is also no question that Macron and Trudeau will be the strong force in the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie.

Now if some of Macron’s thirst for action just rubs off on Trudeau!

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

The omens are in the ridings Ms. Wynne.

Friday, June 9th, 2017

The true politico pays attention to what is happening in the electoral districts. Those readings mean far more than the public opinion polls that are such a waste of time in the year before the election. If you do not grasp what is happening in the field, you are not even in the race.

The late Keith Davey was the Yoda of all Liberal politicos. His daily routine included calls across Canada. When he called, you quickly briefed him on the ridings you had heard from. You knew the detail he wanted. He kept his daily notes in tiny cramped handwriting on a single sheet of foolscap. Any time the prime minister wanted a party briefing, those were Keith’s notes.

Ontario is now in a one year countdown to an election on June 7, 2018. The heavy action is in the Conservative electoral district associations. Being conservative, they rarely get into fist-fights at their nomination meetings. It is the number of complaints coming into Tory headquarters that indicate the heated contests at nomination meetings. It seems that if the party leader can steal his leadership, why should not aspiring MPPs steal their nomination.

The best example of how the Tory nominations are being conducted have been the claims of ballot-box stuffing in both Ottawa and Hamilton. You should not have to count more ballots than there were distributed to voters. Chicanery, deceit, intimidation and signing up the local cemetery are all practiced ways of ensuring your candidate the nomination.

What the current action tells us is that electoral districts that used to always vote Liberal are now in play. No Liberal seat is safe. And Patrick Brown has got his tame party executive to ignore the shenanigans in the ridings.

But the problem in all of this is that there is no corresponding activity in the Liberal electoral district associations. The quiet there is deafening. The Liberal Party in Ontario has become a top-down organization. The provincial Liberals are never asked about policy directions. They do not expect to choose their own candidates. The party will tell them eventually who will be their sacrificial lamb.

Premier Wynne is running out the clock.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Fixing Ontario’s out-of-date work laws.

Friday, May 19th, 2017

Ontario Labour Minister Kevin Flynn has a tough road to travel with the Wynne Cabinet. He is seeking to address the antiquated labour laws in Ontario. He wants to restore balance to the rights of part-time workers. He wants to guarantee a minimum wage on which someone can live. What will be interesting in these deliberations will be the blocks the Wynne government puts in the way.

The full package is just too much to expect of a cautious and conservative government such as Wynne runs. She will probably agree to the raising of the minimum wage except it will be piecemeal and behind the poverty curve.

She will likely agree to making it easier to unionize rather than to really digging into the wrongs of the workplace. Her cabinet would have little understanding of the pride of place in the working environment and the need for individual rights in employment. Unions are not the only answer and addressing those rights under collective agreements cannot necessarily enable individual rights in the workplace.

While Kevin Flynn might want to overcome some of the problems in unionizing widely dispersed workers, he seems to be ignoring what can be done in labour law to improve their lot. He seems to also be unaware that the federal and provincial governments are both guilty of having massive numbers of employees under contract that treat them as contractors without benefits or many rights.

Moving temporary workers to an improved vacation pay—allowing for a minimum of three-weeks actual time off with pay is a minor step. Ensuring temporary workers of the same benefits as full-time employees is key to sorting out what is temporary work and what is full-time employment.

But the minimum wage question is still the key question that Flynn has to fight on. The Wynne Cabinet has already dug a line that can also bury them after the election next June. All they have to do is leave the minimum wage behind the poverty line.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

The myth of being Liberal.

Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

One of our respected progressive bloggers from British Columbia wrote recently something less than a paean (song of praise) about the Liberals in that province. His thesis is that B.C. Liberals are just Conservatives in sheep’s clothing and now the federal sheep have joined them. He insists that the Liberal ideal has vanished from Canada.

His is the logical conclusion. Canada’s three largest provincial governments have governments that are Liberal in name only. The Quebec Liberals are the successors to the right-wing Union Nationale and are interchangeable with the federal Conservatives. Ontario’s Liberals might pose as left wing but are hard-nosed and conservative when it comes to economics. They operate under the direction of Bay Street. The B.C. Liberals are in turn bought and paid for by business interests who see the beauty and majesty of the province only in terms of exploitation.

And each of those provincial governments are crumbling. British Columbia goes to vote soon with signs of switching governing parties. It will, hopefully, be to one that does not exploit the land for business interests and does not constantly leave itself open to possible charges of corruption.

Ontario will be next in the spring of 2018. The problem there is the leadership. Premier Wynne has lost support from voters and from within her party. The premier of Quebec probably thinks he is lucky to have no real opposition at this time but it will come.

The problem with the federal Liberal Party of Canada is that it no longer exists as a viable political party. There is a façade registered as a political party by that name but it has no paid-up membership. Instead it has a list of people across Canada that it can constantly pester for financial support. There is no real hands-on relationship between this list and any rights of party membership. Instead of policy, it uses a cult of personality in the person of the leader. The list has no rights or reasons to meet. Local liberals are denied the selection of their candidate for parliament. They have no real say on party policy. There is no future for federal liberals in Canada.

But the need for liberalism continues. Liberals have to be progressives, they have to support the rights of the individual in society as well as the need for dignity and freedom. Liberals seek cultural, economic and personal growth for all in a non-judgemental society. Life on this beautiful planet is a wonderful gift. We should leave it a better place for our having been here.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Did April Fool come early this year?

Saturday, April 1st, 2017

We read in the Toronto Star the other day about some ‘go-bold’ re-election strategy being used by Premier Kathleen Wynne. We practically wet our pants laughing until we realized the item was written by Bob Hepburn. Bob has always been a quite astute observer of things political for the Star over the years, so we read it carefully.

He confirms the sagacity of his views when he says up front that Kathleen Wynne has a snow-ball’s chance in Hell of winning re-election in 2018.

But. And it is always in the ‘But’ isn’t it? Bob believes that Wynne is going to brave it out, stick around, and lead a dispirited party into its Armageddon in 2018. And that is just about the stupidest advice we have ever seen given to a sitting politician in all our years in politics.

To make matters worse, Bob thinks Wynne is considering a bold and aggressive and even ‘progressive’ strategy. He thinks she has been told to ‘Go bold, or go home.’ That would certainly be a novelty for her. It is a strategy of winning the ‘middle class.’ It worked for Justin Trudeau, we are told..

Bob thinks the first sign of this strategy will be in the budget this April. He believes the Wynne Liberals will announce an increase in the minimum wage for Ontario to $15 per hour. That will probably be scheduled to start at the same time that we find that pigs can fly.

We already knew about the mock test of a guaranteed annual income in Ontario that is being proposed but we have heard of those fantasies before. They come and go at the whim of desperate governments. They are only mentioned when the party in power is in serious trouble.

But Bob says that the Wynne Liberals will also attempt a sweeping modernization of Ontario’s labour and workplace laws. Since these are only about 75 years out of date, we might have to wait a bit. It is quite likely they will have to wait until those damn flying pigs agree to either potty training or to wearing diapers.

By the by, all of this business of pigs and pie in the sky planning is part of Charles Sousa’s first balanced budget. And we all know how determined Charles is to do this, do we not?

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

The silliness of slagging Sorbara.

Saturday, March 25th, 2017

This could have run Wednesday but there is really no point in running more than one commentary per day. The problem here is that it does not matter if someone has managed war rooms or washrooms there is absolutely no point to slagging former Liberal MPP Greg Sorbara for telling the truth.

This writer has never been a fan of Greg Sorbara. To us, Greg always seemed autocratic, right-wing and elitist. That is a tough mix for a guy who calls himself a liberal.

But never knowing him that well, we have kept our feelings muted.

After listening very carefully to what Greg said on TVO’s The Agenda show last Tuesday, we could not understand the fuss. He lauded the Wynne government for the growing Ontario economy, its accomplishments in governing and what he saw as good government. Frankly, it came across as apple polishing. Yet what he is being criticized for is suggesting that there is some dissatisfaction with Kathleen Wynne. Her service does not seem to be overly appreciated.

Well, we are certainly pleased that some other scapegoat has noticed. This commentator has been calling for her resignation for quite a while now. It was bad enough that she won the Ontario leadership through deceit and duplicity but she is entirely the wrong kind of premier for this time in this province. Ontario does not need a grandmother. It needs a leader. It hardly needs to rejig failed Conservative plans like selling off Hydro One. It does not need the water torture method of bringing beer and wine to grocery stores.

The province definitely does not need a premier who governs by moving from one mea culpa to the next. She has apologized far more often than she has been pro-active.

A year ago, the Ontario Liberals needed to take stock. They needed to look at their position and what this province needed. They needed to realize that the inadequacies of their opponents are no justification. There is no excuse for providing bad government just because your opponents would give worse.

But if Greg Sorbara was as honest as he could be, he should have advised Kathleen Wynne a year ago to go. She needed to be told that when you are no longer doing anybody any good and your time as premier has expired.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

A liberal look at leadership.

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

Ontario Liberals are finally realizing that there is a problem at Queen’s Park. It appears to be endemic. It affects every political party on the premises. It is the serious lack of leadership. Even the Liberal Party backbenchers are drawing lots to see who will be the Cassius who drives the first (rhetorical) knife in the back of Premier Kathleen Wynne.

Wynne has done what she could. She has been driving a tired and worn-out Liberal horse and buggy for too long. It needs to be refreshed, re-challenged and recharged for the good of the province. It is a party that desperately needs to see a new future.

But the future is not a feature with Wynne. She is a North Toronto right wing reactionary. She won the leadership of the Liberal Party by trickery and manipulation. Her deal with the devil seemed to have been with former Ontario Premier David Peterson and fellow candidate Glen Murray, MPP for the adjoining Toronto electoral district.

Looking at the news media’s selection of possible replacements does not fill our heart with cheer. MPPs such as Eric Hoskins and Charles Sousa could not dump their campaigns fast enough in the last leadership convention to climb aboard the Wynne bandwagon. They were looked after; not the voters.

At the same time, MPPs Steven Del Luca from Vaughan, Yasir Naqvi from Ottawa, Michael Coteau from Toronto (East York) and Mitzie Hunter from Toronto (Scarborough) are all fresher cabinet faces with potential. Each of the them might be able to talk about their vision for Ontario if out from under the oppressive leadership of Kathleen Wynne.

And, do not forget Sandra Pupatello. She is not to be confused with the lacklustre regime of Kathleen Wynne as she was not in the Legislature at the time. She has the experience, the drive and the ideas that could work for us.

In the meantime, Kathleen Wynne is saying that her reduction of costs for electric power will pay political dividends next year. What that remaining time means for this government is more time for the opposition parties to develop their strategies. While few are impressed with the leadership of either party, nobody says Conservative Patrick Brown or New Democrat Andrea Horwath are stupid.

Without concrete and visible action by the Liberals over the next 12 months, they will be going into an election campaign bound and ready for slaughter. The best action might be an entirely new leadership, new direction and new faces on the firing line with the voters.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

And we thought Harper was an autocrat?

Sunday, March 5th, 2017

It was Pierre Trudeau in 1970 who said “Just watch me,” and showed us the real power of the Prime Minister’s Office. Later it was Stephen Harper who showed us how a Prime Minister can abuse that power to use it to his own ends to keep his sheep-like party in power. And yet there is no one challenging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s complete control of the Liberal Party of Canada. He has converted what once was an open and democratic party into a top-down, one-man oligarchy.

The Liberal Party has become Justin Trudeau’s personal automated teller machine (ATM) for non-public funding of what Trudeau authorises. His party executive has become his police to ensure correct thinking in the party. The party organisation is a rubber stamp for those candidates for office he selects.

Toronto Star national affairs writer Chantal Hébert wrote the other day of her surprise at Trudeau’s interference in the Quebec electoral district nomination for the April 3 bye-election in Saint-Laurent. Frankly, many wonder what was the last truly open nomination meeting in Quebec after Trudeau’s own nomination by the party?

Since Stéphane Dion the former M.P. for Saint-Laurent won it in the last nine elections, it is considered greased rails for someone Justin Trudeau wants in his cabinet.

There is no guarantee though in John McCallum’s former Markham-Thornhill riding. It looked ridiculous when the party cut off the new member sign-ups retro-actively. It looked worse when a possible candidate was forced to quit the race. We can only assume there was an acclamation for the candidate from Trudeau’s office. Markham-Thornhill has interesting demographics and it will be the party that has the best ground game and with the correct ethnic balance running up to April 3 that could have the edge in the bye-election.

If Trudeau throws himself into that Toronto area bye-election during March, it will also be interesting to see what Toronto’s concerned environmentalists do to him to show up his hypocrisy. If they miss the opportunity, they are not likely to have another chance until the 2019 election.

And there will not be many Liberals who will have a chance to argue with Trudeau about his environmental betrayal at party gatherings. Policy discussions under his autocratic rule are rigidly regimented. As anyone can call themselves a Liberal, pay no membership fee, it will be the size of the donations to the party that will be noted.

It is very sad to see that a Liberal Party that Pierre Trudeau helped make a leader in promoting individual rights has been neutered by his eldest son.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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