Posts Tagged ‘Liberal Leadership’

The Actor Within.

Monday, April 19th, 2021

We were puzzling the other day as to what training our current leaders had that prepared them for their political roles. If all you have to base your conclusion on is their set-piece biography, the answers are not all that easy to deduce. It is therefore best to do some deep-dive research and take them one at a time. We started with prime minister Justin Trudeau.

First of all, the assumption that his famous father helped prepare him for the role of prime minister is wrong. Pierre Trudeau made every effort to keep his three sons away from politics. Any communications expert who tried to get him to appear with his sons was usually shot down in flames. We thought appearing with them would help soften his image but he would have none of it. If anything, Justin would have heard his father disparage politics.

And any influence his mother had on him would not help. His mother neither understood nor wanted anything to do with politics.

What the National Post labelled as kitsch in 2019, I had seen when I first met Justin as an adult back in 2010. I saw the actor with the ability to move in and out of character. It was hardly Strasberg’s method acting, where you stay in character. The young Trudeau appeared to have a switch that he can turn on and off. The telltale signs were all there: the family dress-up in India, the black face in Vancouver, the hot reaction of the crowds at the Kielburger’s Me to We shows starring the future prime minister. Justin could sure work a crowd.

Like many Canadians, I watched Justin give the eulogy for his father at Pierre’s funeral. It was poignant. I wish I had seen him also when he played the role of World War One hero Talbot Papineau in the 2007 CBC movie.

I once corrected a fellow blogger who accused Justin of stammering. You often hear it when he is answering a question—off the cuff—in parliament. It is actually thinking noises. It is the noises that people will use while they are thinking about their answer. It is a noise that poor public speakers will use to fill what they consider a void. It is not there when Justin is speaking to a prepared text or a teleprompter. Justin just needs to be scripted.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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Trudeau building bridges in Quebec.

Tuesday, April 6th, 2021

It is rare that prime minister Justin Trudeau would be considered best friends with Quebec premier François Legault. It is just that timing is everything in politics. If Trudeau’s liberals want to take back a majority in an election later this year, they have to maximize their seats in Quebec. And it looks like, the Legault’s Coalition Avenir Québec, which is a little bit separatist and a little bit right wing can learn to live with the Trudeau liberals.

According to Radio Canada, out of Quebec, the two BFFs are on a first name basis and enjoying making joint announcements of government largess. The first of these was an announcement of government support for electric vehicle production in Saint-Jérôme, Quebec. The second announcement was made in Trois-Rivières, Quebec and announced providing federal funds for the expansion of high-speed Internet in the province. Both projects are also on the agenda for the Legault government.

The Bloc Québécois leader, Yves-François Blanchet, back in Ottawa, considered both announcements to be of benefit to Quebec. He therefore claimed that both initiatives are because of the pressure brought on in Ottawa by the Bloc MPs. He did not speculate about what the announcements might cost the Bloc in terms of seats in the coming federal election.

The real loss will be felt by the federal conservative party. On top of the recent refusal of members of the party to support leader Erin O’Toole’s policy that climate change is a real problem will help ensure that there are no conservative gains likely in that province. It is also likely to limit the possible gains in neighbouring Ontario.

The only other thing that might help the federal conservatives in Ontario would be the dispatch of premier Doug Ford during the election on a trade mission to some country deep in the Himalayan Mountains.

And as to a date for that federal election, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh made a frustrated comment on the West Block the other day. “He (Trudeau) can call the election any time he wants,” he said ruefully.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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“Ottawa, we have a problem.”

Sunday, March 7th, 2021

The other day, we got a good laugh from a Susan Delacourt column in the Toronto Star. She was comparing former federal liberal leader Michael Ignatieff to conservative leader Erin O’Toole. I could never imagine two guys so different.

I first met Michael when he was in his early 20s and was curious about the political scene. He had been working with the Globe and Mail while getting an undergraduate degree at the University of Toronto. I admired his intellect and curiosity and gave him a free pass into many liberal party meetings. And maybe part of it was knowing that his father George Ignatieff had been a good friend of the previous liberal prime minister Lester Pearson.

It was almost 40 years later that the highly regarded professor Michael Ignatieff returned to Toronto. He was already leader of the liberal party when he and I met again at a garden party before his first and only general election attempt as party leader.

We managed to piss off a sizeable number of our fellow liberals as Michael and I stood off in a corner of the garden deep in conversation. It was a conversation that I reported to nobody at the time. It included the realization that Michael was way out of his depth in the party leadership. At that stage, I could hardly advise him to run for the nearest exit.

But to compare liberal Michael Ignatieff to conservative Erin O’Toole is a mistake of large proportion. Michael was a tool for power by some liberals who were using him. O’Toole drove his own manure spreader through the two conservative leadership campaigns it took for him to win. Ignatieff is a liberal intellectual, who temporarily replaced another liberal intellectual Stéphane Dion. O’Toole is a conservative ideologue with visions of power who replaced another conservative ideologue, ‘Chuckles’ Scheer.

The only way that Ignatieff and O’Toole are similar is that neither understands the demands of political leadership.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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Biden is ahead of Trudeau on climate.

Friday, February 26th, 2021

Hey Joe, what did you think of the hypocrisy you got from Trudeau during your virtual summit on Tuesday? One of the first items of business when you became U.S. president was ending that Keystone XL pipeline that was designed to take Canadian bitumen from the Alberta tar sands to the Texas gulf coast tanker ports. Did the Canadian prime minister mention to you he is still twinning the TransMountain pipeline to take bitumen to the tanker access in the Burrard Inlet at Vancouver?

If you were really congratulating each other on your being environmentalists, Trudeau is letting the side down. Many of us in Canada are annoyed with him about that. He not only spent C$4 billion buying the 67-year-old pipeline that runs from Edmonton to Vancouver but cost estimates for the twinning of the line are now running at an additional C$12.6 billion. The government is hoping that they can get 20 years at least out of the dual pipeline with revenues of C$1.5 billion per year. (The company has signed contracts for this much.)

While everyone involved is proud of the performance of this old pipeline for so long, they are really stretching the envelope. The difference when you are pushing diluted bitumen through the pipes is that you are heating the bitumen and pushing it at considerably higher pressure.

But Canadians are not just concerned about the possibility of a pipeline leak and fouling of the fresh waters for the people of British Columbia and northern Washington State. The heavy traffic of ocean tankers through the Georgia Straits is an extreme concern for the orcas and other whales that summer in the area.

All we know is that the supreme court in Ottawa does not want any more appeals to stop the twinning of the pipeline. The appeals have failed us. The construction is in process. Short of laying our bodies in front of the construction equipment, there is little we can do.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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Our fearless leaders fix the gun problem.

Thursday, February 18th, 2021

Did you not see the sign as you drove into town that handguns are forbidden? That is part of the announcement that the government is banning assault rifles and municipalities are at liberty to ban hand guns. And does that make sense to you?

Frankly, it is stupid.

Yes, assault rifles should be banned. Automatic weapons do not belong in homes and assault rifles do not belong on hunting trips. No ifs or buts about it. No serious hunter wants their venison salted with high velocity bullets from an AR-15 assault rifle. It is also dangerous for other hunters. A bullet from an AR-15 can be deadly a kilometre from where it was fired.

But any cop, on any street, anywhere in Canada, will tell you that the biggest problem is hand guns. Hand guns are used to commit murder. And, according to the prime minister and his expert on kettling Canadians, hand guns are being left to the by-laws of municipalities—if their province allows it.

This is the most asinine bill that the mixed minds of Justin Trudeau and Bill Blair can come up with! This is not a liberal solution. This is a coward’s way of failing to solve the problem.

The person who smuggles a hand gun across the border from Murder Inc., U.S.A. is as guilty as the fool who pulls the trigger.

When what we need are serious fines for careless collectors, Blair /Trudeau are willing to spend millions of our money to buy their banned weapons from them. Those weapons should be confiscated. The only purpose of assault weapons is to kill as many people as fast as possible.

And leaving municipalities across Canada to ban hand guns is a pitiful joke.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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Going where no politico dares to go.

Monday, February 8th, 2021

It always amazes me when some politicians will wade into subjects about which, they know nothing at all. It is what can get them in trouble, most of the time. Take Justin Trudeau’s supposed expertise in vaccines. It is like the other day when he was assuring parliamentarians that he talks regularly to the CEOs of the vaccine producing laboratories.

What does he talk to them about: their golf scores? You need more than a few lessons in pharmaceuticals to try to understand the complexities of developing vaccines for a coronavirus that attacks the respiratory system, and can kill.

And for the laboratories to be as far ahead of the expected curve in developing more than one vaccine is amazing in itself.

The bad news is that no firm has ever developed a new product that did not have any production problems, shipping delays, storage problems or arguments about priorities. Add another month.

But people have now heard about it and they want it. Too bad instant gratification is not available in this case. Best you listen to the promises of when you get your shot(s) and add two months.

And you can be sure there will be as many queue jumpers as there will be anti-vaxxers who would rather die than get a needle in the arm. Add another month.

What causes the most hilarity is the idea of getting senior military people to organize the injections for us. The first move is to get us all to march in columns and in-step. Add another month to teach generals that civilians are neither obedient, in-step, easily sorted, organized or that any new product arrives on its promised schedule.

If you have ever wondered why all political people sound alike is that their party leaders’ offices spend a lot of time writing answers to questions that might embarrass the party leader. The leader and all his party sing from the same songbook. They might sound stupid but it seems to work.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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Trudeau’s chance to kill TransMountain!

Monday, January 25th, 2021

It’s no secret. If U.S. president Joe Biden can cancel the Keystone XL pipeline, why cannot Justin Trudeau cancel twinning of the TransMountain pipeline? The single line can still be used to ship fully refined petroleum products to the U.S. west coast states and to Vancouver.

We should face the facts that TransMountain has been a serious threat to the environment since it has been proposed that it be twinned to carry diluted bitumen from Edmonton to the Burrard Inlet. It is hardly worth it for Trudeau to think it would gain him up to two parliamentary seats in Edmonton. Canceling it, might just help him to keep some seats in British Columbia.

As I see it, a topping off ceremony for the twinned TransMountain pipeline will leave Trudeau unable to win a seat west of the Manitoba-Saskatchewan border. That seems like a damn silly waste of taxpayers’ money and bad politics, to boot.

And Trudeau should hardly worry about pleasing Albertans. Those voters already have a bone to pick with their premier over wasting $1.5 billion of their money on the Keystone XL pipeline.

Cancelling the TransMountain pipeline will also go a long way to helping ensure the survival of the Orcas and Humpback whales that summer around Vancouver Island. The first bitumen spill in the Straits of Georgia could spell the political suicide of Trudeau and the liberal party.

I keep wishing that there was someone in the cabinet who could talk some sense into Trudeau. It is just that finance minister Chrystia Freeland and privy council president Dominic LeBlanc are the only two members who appear secure in their seats at the table. I do not recall any time Freeland has spoken out on the environment. And maybe LeBlanc knows his friend too well to argue out about the environment. As it is, TransMountain remains the proof of the hypocrisy of Justin Trudeau about the environment.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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Payette is Trudeau’s mistake.

Saturday, January 23rd, 2021

It was ten years ago when I made the argument with Justin Trudeau that the governor general was an anachronism that we no longer needed. It was like he brought down a wall between us. I realised too late that he was afraid of questioning the constitution. Justin saw it as a larger part of his father’s problems when the younger Trudeau was a teenager.

Justin’s solution to prime ministerial appointments is an elitist solution. He supposedly hands the problem off to elite committees. He has often been burnt by his elite selections for crown corporations, judgeships, the Senate, and now the role of governor general—the most senior appointment that the prime minister can decide.

While we all admit that the governor general’s job is largely ceremonial, its continuance speaks volumes about the country that Canada has become. It sends all the wrong signals to other countries. It ties us to those bigots in England who besmirch the European Union for its openness. It promotes birth as a mark of privilege. It equates wealth with privilege. It puts Canadians in subservience to the past instead of offering the open challenge of a great future.

Canadians are many peoples, building a nation together. The richness of our country is the amalgam of cultures, the wealth of languages, the love of the land of our aboriginals and those who came later.

There is no question that engineer Payette did nor understand the job of governor general as did her predecessors, an academic such as David Johnston, or politicians such as Jeanne Sauvé, Ray Hnatyshyn and Roméo Leblanc, or people who saw so much joy in the position such as journalists Adrienne Clarkson and Michaëlle Jean. These people at least saw the job as a chance to serve their fellow Canadians. They brought honour to the role.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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Back to the Bully Pulpit.

Monday, November 23rd, 2020

It might have been a term coined by U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt but our prime minister Justin Trudeau did the bully pulpit one better. It was living in Rideau Cottage while the official residence at 21 Sussex was under repair. Trudeau did a cuckoo clock single out the front door of the cottage to address the latest news of the coronavirus.

Where lesser Luminoso would need support by technical experts or henchmen, our prime minister does it alone.

It actually seems more crowded all the time at the Ontario political updates. Despite the team effort, Doug Ford is losing traction with his voters as he rants on. His problem is that he little understands the experts and leans heavily on his own solutions. People are questioning the science behind some of his answers. The largest puzzle he presented recently is closing virtually all small business in the most populous cities in the province while leaving the schools in operation. And it will not help to look to education minister Stephen Lecce for answers.

But even from his bully pulpit, Justin Trudeau knows better than to challenge how some conservative premiers are handling the pandemic problems. Health care is in the hands of the provinces and the feds would be crazy to intervene. All Trudeau can really do is support the provincial efforts and plead for public cooperation in these serious times.

Even when we have some vaccines in the offing, the rapidly escalating case loads of pandemic sufferers is of growing concern. Hospitals in some provinces are reaching capacity and there are fewer and fewer healthy health care workers to fill the gaps.

But what Trudeau can do is throw more aid money into the maw of the coronavirus. In some provinces we are looking at disaster as more and more of our small businesses are ordered to shut their doors, never able to re-open. We will suffer the sores of this pandemic for years to come.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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Turkey or turmoil for Christmas.

Monday, November 16th, 2020

Do you ever get a feeling that something is off and you are not entirely sure what it is? It has been bothering me for a while. There is a feeling coming out of Ottawa that does not bode well. Conservative leader Erin O’Toole is salivating for an election. Federal cabinet members are going around talking to the news media as though they have something else on their minds.

A part of it might be the situation south of the border. Who trusts Trump? We might be wishing that we had are own border wall. That petulant child-man in the White House is cooking something in his mind that might just interfere with everyone’s wish for a smooth transition of power in Washington on January 20. We keep wondering what part Mr. Trump will play.

But Canadians have their own problems. We have legislation backing up in Ottawa as the pandemic takes precedence. The Trudeau government is starting to baulk at the mounting costs of mitigating the economic disaster we are facing. The prime minister is nowhere near as cocky as he was over the summer. The days are darker. The storm clouds are gathering. And the pandemic numbers are mounting.

What could Erin O’Toole possibly be thinking in wanting to take the government out of Trudeau’s hands? Has he any better idea than the liberals? What possible incentives could he be thinking of to get both the NDP’s Singh and the Bloc’s Blanchet on side? He is wasting his time if he cannot get them to help defeat the government.

An election at this time of year is not unprecedented. The last time Canadians had an election over Christmas, we ended up with what some of us thought of as the Mulroney effect. When Joe Clarke’s conservative government was defeated by the resurgent Pierre Trudeau and the liberals, Clarke was, in turn, defeated two years later by Brian Mulroney for the conservative party leadership.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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