Posts Tagged ‘Liberal Leadership’

Ontario liberals need leadership.

Wednesday, February 12th, 2020

Ontario liberals voted this past weekend in stage one of what is hoped to be the last corrupted Ontario leadership contest. This stage was to elect the delegates who will represent the ridings and liberal clubs at the delegated convention that will choose the new leader. This is to replace Kathleen Wynne.

The key question at this time is whether front-runner former MPP Steven Del Duca has the first-ballot strength to decide the convention?

If he does not win on the first ballot, he will have a strong movement for reform of the party with which to contend. Both Toronto MPP Michael Coteau and former candidate Kate Graham from London, Ontario are spearheading the reform movement.

Del Duca’s weakness is that he is mired in the past of the liberal party. He is best known for when he chose to argue with the independence of Metrolinx, Ontario’s planner for the construction of commuter transit in the Toronto area. He wanted a GO station in his riding at Kirby.

But Del Duca’s organization also sold the largest number of new liberal memberships in preparation for this race. And why that would be any measure of his ability to lead the party is beyond me.

Leadership of any enterprise requires the ability to bring people, ideas and collective action together to meet a perceived need. The only need Mr. Del Duca seems to want take collective action on is his wanting to be leader of the liberal party.

The core of the concern of Coteau and Graham is that there is a need within the liberal party to once again make it a progressive instrument of political use to Ontario citizens. Their campaigns, to this point, have reflected that need.

After listening carefully to both candidates, I believe that MPP Michael Coteau can provide the leadership. At the same time, we need people such as Kate Graham to help provide the substance.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

The politician and the poser.

Wednesday, January 29th, 2020

We met with one of the Ontario liberal leadership candidates the other day. He is Michael Coteau, MPP for Don Valley East. His pitch to the liberals present was impressive. He has style, he is progressive, he is articulate and he is relaxed. Listening to his talk I saw an interesting counterpoint to the efforts of education minister Stephen Lecce.

The biggest difference was that Coteau had spent two terms in office as a school trustee in Toronto before becoming a member of the legislature. He could discuss the current strife between the conservatives and the school boards without notes, without a teleprompter and with obvious candour. In fact, he had some good advice for Mr. Lecce.

Lecce’s problem is that he lacks the depth in his portfolio. He was thrown into it to try to rescue the conservative government’s heavy-handed approach to change—which, in their terms, is known as ‘Our way or the highway.’

He had no way of knowing the history of the class-size wars between government and the teachers’ unions. He obviously was not aware of the resistance from educators over the last forty years to academic courses being taught on computers. And firing supposedly excess teachers across the province in preparation for these changes, got more than the teachers’ backs up.

As Michael Coteau said to the liberals, the premier and the minister had obviously not done their homework.

In balance to the Coteau presentation (which was in Orillia), education minister Lecce was in Barrie for a photo opportunity with Barrie-Springwater—Oro-Medonte MPP Doug Downey (from Severn, Ontario) and the other local conservative member of the legislature.  The subject of the day was bullying. Now this is a subject with which Lecce should be familiar, as he is a graduate of St. Michael’s College School, a private school for boys in Toronto that is famous for high annual fees and its bullying experience.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

The smart ones fight on.

Sunday, January 26th, 2020

Former Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne could learn something from MPP Michael Coteau. He is no quitter. Wynne did irreparable harm to Ontario liberals in the 2018 election when she conceded the election before the voters made their decision known. All her mistakes as premier could not top that one amateur act.

Before she made that gaff, the liberals looked like they were down to 15 or 20 seats in the legislature. She ended up as part of a rump group that were not even recognized as a party. It makes the challenge for the next leader all that more difficult.

But I made the mistake yesterday of saying that Steven Del Duca had effectively won the leadership with his 14,000 membership sales. Michael Coteau, very wisely, challenges that assumption. We will not have the basis for these assumptions until after the ridings elect their delegates. It will be the number of first-vote commitments that will tell the tale. We will not have the detailed analysis before mid February.

The wild cards in this game are the ex officio voters such a federal MPs, provincial candidates and party office holders. Over 400 potential votes fall into this category. With a likely turnout of 1600 to 1800 voting delegates at the convention, Coteau and his supporters are hoping for a second ballot. Del Duca and his people will be hoping for a first ballot win. It all seems to come down to who can give a real barn-burner of a speech to the crowd that morning.

The one thing that is obvious about this campaign is that Steven Del Duca represents the past of the Ontario party and Michael Coteau represents the future. He is aggressive, welcoming to change and recognizes that the future offers a new type of politics.

A lot of what we have heard so far in this leadership contest has to do with getting rid of Doug Ford. I think we need to hear more about the type of politics that would end the possibilities for electing people like Doug Ford.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

“It’s time to give the profile…”

Tuesday, January 21st, 2020

It is likely due to the lack of creativity on American network television that the show Criminal Minds has lasted so long. I thought of it when reviewing the Ontario liberal leadership race the other day. It is a puzzle to figure out why Ontario liberals put up with such an easily manipulated contest. If you think everything is on the up and up with the arrangements for this contest, you will also believe that the FBI has its behavioural analysis people flying around that country chasing killers, with guns blazing.

It looks like the guy who should be the next leader of the Ontario liberals is MPP Michael Coteau from Toronto. As one liberal told me, Michael is the only contender tall enough to be a leader. He has also been running the smartest and most open campaign. He is refreshing in his honesty and openness to innovation.

The only contender who might yet steal the leadership is former MPP Steven Del Duca. Nobody adds 14,000 names to the membership of the party in the period of time indicated. Nor can it be seriously suggested that they are all liberals or necessarily paid for their own membership.

It is also hardly the first time that Del Duca has thrown his weight around to political advantage. As minister of transportation, he was accused of political interference in the independent planning of Metrolinx commuter stations. Adding a station in his riding that independent studies claimed was unnecessary was the type of action that brought down the Wynne liberal government.

The other former minister running is MPP Mitzi Hunter from Scarborough. As I pointed out to the liberal who liked Coteau’s height, Ms. Hunter is about as tall. He pointed out it was only appearance because of her hair-do and her high heels.

The other three candidates can hardly be criticized for the failures of the Wynne government. They have never been elected. It leaves them free to come up with innovative suggestions. It makes the debates more interesting.

But we will not know who the likely winner will be until the local election meetings in February. We should be ready give you a profile and a morning line on the liberal leadership by about the Ides of February.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

The gravitas of Justin Trudeau.

Monday, January 20th, 2020

You do know that prime minister Justin Trudeau used to teach drama, do you not? Given the holiday time he had with family in the Caribbean over Christmas, he had time to work on both the new beard and demeanour. This is supposed to be a new Justin we are seeing.

The beard was not gilding the lily. A more thoughtful style, minus the beard, would not have been as convincing. And the amount of grey in the beard is indicative of the trials of his job. I hope he does not expect us to feel sorry for him because of the workload of being PM.

After being reduced to a minority government back in 1972, Pierre Trudeau also bit the bullet. His solution was to capitulate to the party and recognize that he needed the party, on side and working. He restored Senator Keith Davey to his previous position in party election preparedness.

If Justin Trudeau has reinstated former senator David Smith in the Davey-type role, we have not heard about it. Pierre Trudeau also added some highly regarded liberal thinkers in his office. We have not heard of Justin Trudeau doing that either.

In the meantime, his relations with the party are continuing downhill. The other day, the crassest of fund-raising letters was sent on the e-mail circuit using the conservative leadership contest as a theme. There does not seem to be many limits for the writers of these e-mails. I suppose if I ask them to stop sending them, they will say I am no longer a liberal.

At least the cabinet is meeting this week and hopefully, the members will have some renewed confidence in what they are doing. They are running out of time given by the Quebec court to fix the ill-considered medical assistance in dying bill. That has to have some priority.

Many of us who are worried about the environment are also worried about where the cabinet is going with the Trans Mountain pipeline. If they take the route of passing the buck to the regional aboriginals by selling the pipeline to them, it will be the most disgusting hypocrisy ever foisted on Canadians.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

When do we get back to the environment?

Friday, January 17th, 2020

Between Mr. Trump’s tantrums, the concerns over Meghan and Harry and the disaster in Iran, the prime minister is not getting much done about the environment. And why would we ever be satisfied with just getting to a net-zero emissions target?

Net-zero emissions is not a target, it is a starting point. Net zero is the point when we are adding no new large-scale carbon emissions to our environment. We should have been there years ago.

But back when we became more aware of the dangers our earth was facing, we had the Harper conservatives in power. The environment is famously number 101 on the list of 100 conservative concerns. Harper was a hypocrite who would savage the environment for another nickel. He was always, famously, ‘working on it.’

But Trudeau might be the same. Where is he headed when he buys the Trans Mountain pipeline to speed its twinning and conversion for sending the output of the tar sands to world markets? Does he think we are not responsible for all that pollution?

The supreme court has just given the Trudeau cabinet the green light on the disastrous Trans Mountain pipeline. I guess it is not their problem.

And the cabinet is currently talking about approving the new Frontier open pit mine north of Fort McMurray that will add four million tonnes of carbon to the environment each year. This addition to the carbon pollution is accompanied by the Frontier plan to destroy boreal forests and wetlands the size of a city that could have helped to absorb some of that pollution.

Before the prime minister and his environment minister fly off to another world conference to make irresponsible promises, they need to weigh their progress at home. They have to get our friends in Alberta to back off the bitumen. That is not a move that will endear you to Albertans. Though they might forgive you if your government can find find another base for their economy.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

Politics of Oligarchs.

Saturday, January 11th, 2020

In an interesting opinion piece, recently, the Toronto Star’s Susan Delacourt said that both Stephen Harper and Justin Trudeau had to reinvent their respective parties to win election. Neither liked the parties they were taking over in their search for power.

Similar to Donald Trump in the United States, they changed the parties to their needs. Trump now has a slavish republican party to do his bidding. It would appear that Stephen Harper forgot to leave the keys for Andrew Scheer. Justin Trudeau is already reaping the results of his errors with the liberals.

Harper’s process of changing the conservatives was slower and more methodical. You can be sure that Harper wanted nothing to do with the former Mulroney party but he first had to be confident he had wrested the Reform Party from Preston Manning. He got his top-down party off the ground but still only won a minority in 2006. It took until 2011 for Harper to get the party he wanted and he was the oligarch. Power only went to those selected by Harper.

In the meantime, Justin Trudeau cashed in on the sentiments for his father in the liberal party—winning a seat in parliament in a tough Quebec riding and going on the road with his ‘Selfie’ tour. He found that a picture with him was more important to party members than the obligatory speech.

But after the party chose him leader in 2013, he started to put his seal on the party. He did away with party memberships and started the stream of e-mails requesting money from his followers. He also declared that there were no longer any liberal senators, cutting himself off from a depth of knowledge into the party, its fund raising, its functions and its history. He just milked his flock for money.

While Trudeau had to play catch-up with Harper’s conservatives, he made sure that the liberals also had the modern marketing plans, the technology and the more sophisticated ground game that was essential in a party that was losing adherents.

Harper paved the way for the power of the oligarchy based in the prime minister’s office. Trudeau showed how to abuse it. It works for a while, but leaves a bitter taste in the ridings.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

The accidental Newsmaker of the Year.

Saturday, December 21st, 2019

“Tread lightly friend around a lady of a certain age.” You have been warned. Her fecund years behind her, she might be seeking the honours of her peers, the sisterhood, in new fields—and woe to the mere man who stands in her way.

And prime minister Justin Trudeau tells us he is a feminist? A feminist has empathy and understanding. A male feminist seeks to empower women and helps raise their sights.

And now, may we introduce the newsmaker of the year for 2019, as chosen by news editors across Canada, Jody Wilson-Raybould. If you had told her where she would be at now, this time last year, she would not have believed it.

She is a former liberal, a former cabinet minister and now an independent member of parliament. There is no power or prestige to her lonely seat in the far corner of the temporary house of commons. Will she find it adequate? Not for long.

Just wait until the house starts to debate fixing her signature bill on the right to dying. In 2018, she helped former health minister Jane Philpott steer the original and faulty bill C14 through the house of commons, when they were both liberal cabinet ministers. The original bill was in the nature of a compromise and, of course, nobody liked it, least of all the courts. Jane Philpott has left the house. The bill still has to be fixed.

But there is no committee appointment scheduled for an independent MP and no time allotted for speeches in the house. She brought down a senior official in the prime minister’s office, she brought down the country’s senior civil servant and she almost brought down the prime minister. Maybe, he has learned to quietly walk around her.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

When you’re not feeling the love.

Sunday, December 15th, 2019

An Ontario liberal was complaining to me the other day that he now has two liberal parties hounding him for money. He has usually been quite generous in his donations to both federal and provincial parties and their candidates but he says it has become oppressive. “I just do not feel I’m getting anything for my money,” he told me. “I used to believe I could talk to the party people about policies and political priorities. I felt that on the local level we would have policy discussions and be part of choosing our candidates.”

He told me, sadly, that amongst all the pleas for money, he is just not feeling the love.

He is upset that the candidates for the provincial leadership are ignoring Barrie. As our town is central to Ontario, we actually influence five or six ridings as well as the two that cover parts of Barrie. Yet, the leadership candidates are not coming anywhere near this neck of the woods.

That is not as bad for the three previous cabinet colleagues in the race, but it seems terribly unfair to the other three contenders. Here they are helping dispatch much of the party’s debts from the last election while the fat cats from Bay Street have already made their choice. It is the safe choice as the winner they have chosen promises no surprises.

It was supposed to be an exciting race. The candidates are three women and three men—a nice balance. There are also three with some experience and three fresh faces—all fine people and fully vetted by the party hierarchy!

I must admit that I have not found out much about Brenda Hollingworth, who jumped into the race on what was the last day for such a perilous jump. And an expensive jump, too. Hopefully we will learn something of this candidate in due course.

I am also waiting to find out more about Kate Graham from London. I understand she is an academic with a post-graduate degree in political science. I am also curious about Alvin Tedjo and his policy ideas.

The first hurdles in the race are on February 8 and 9 at the elections of delegates. This is when the regional party bosses do their stuff. They make sure that only sheep to be shorn show up for the March publicity event. Those who want to be delegates to the delegated convention are required to state their preference and the fix will be in.

That is when you will find out the first vote strength of former MPP and cabinet member Steven Del Duca from Woodbridge. What we are hearing is that the race is all over but the shouting.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

There has to be a pony in there.

Saturday, December 7th, 2019

You cannot have all that cast-off material from a barnyard without a pony in there somewhere. The speech-from-the-throne writers must have figured that if you have to use weasel words, you might as well use a lot. So, if you could stand one more reading of that speech, that the governor general struggled so gamely through, please tell us where it is taking this country?

The most positive thing that the prime minister has done this past week, was to comment on the American president’s presumptuousness. And here, all this time, I would have assumed there was respect for the sanctity of the pre-dinner cocktail gathering—at Buckingham Palace for God’s sake! Next thing we know, the media will be following the world leaders into the washrooms!

But I doubt that the prime minister did himself any damage making fun of the American president. In fact, I would bet that his overall approval rating by Canadians has gone up a few degrees.

I would certainly not say that for ‘Chuckles’ Scheer. He must think he is on permanent ‘attack dog’ duty, as leader of her majesty’s loyal opposition to the liberal minority. And for Singh of the NDP to make it a duet defaming the throne speech, is just ludicrous.

Why doesn’t somebody tell those two that the election is over and everyone has to catch their breath, beg for more money from their benefactors and plan ahead. To rush pell-mell into an ill-considered election will hardly solve their parties’ leadership problems.

And why would those guys want to make the point to Canadians that the leader of the Bloc Québécois just might be the smartest politician in that troubled house of commons.

Frankly this situation reminds me more of the Joe Clark government in 1979 than anything more recent. The Clark people could not count and it cost them a government. It makes you wonder if school teacher Justin Trudeau ever taught any mathematics?

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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