Posts Tagged ‘Liberal Leadership’

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.

-30-

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?

-30-

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.

-30-

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.

-30-

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.

-30-

Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

More fallout from voting reform.

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

This subject would have been ignored if another commentary on it had not run in the Washington Post. The writer accused the Canadian prime minister of looking “both incompetent and cynical in abandoning the promise of (voting) reform.” It would have become an international incident but we have reason to think the writer is Canadian.

There was also the national day of protest last Saturday organized by Fair Vote Canada. It looked like a couple dozen people turned out in Nathan Philips Square in Toronto with their signs saying Justin Trudeau let them down. There were similar efforts in a few other cities—everyone gets together with their homemade signs, their bluster and their tired arguments and then head for the nearest pub to get warm, quaff a few and argue some more.

It is hardly that Prime Minister Trudeau was being cavalier about the subject. He was obviously sincere—though wrong—when he said in the last election campaign that 2015 was the last election under first-past-the-post. He got the Fair Vote people excited and Canada’s New Democrats and Greens on side fast enough. It proved that he had not read the entrails on that election very well. He seemed to have no idea how well he was going to do.

And it was not as though he did not try to keep his word. He might not have given the file to the smartest member of his cabinet but she seemed to be doing as she was told. After a false start with a Liberal majority committee, he agreed to having a more balanced special committee created to investigate the best route to follow.

That committee certainly worked hard. They listened to so-called experts from across Canada and from selected countries. They even listened—grudgingly—to some non-expert citizens. They spent the summer of 2016 in cloisters in Ottawa doing their duty. They did marathon travelling around the country in the fall. And they filed their report.

They were insulted by Prime Minister Trudeau’s minister for not providing an answer. They did the best job they could. They reported that there is no perfect answer. They reported that Canadians were either divided on the issue, happy with first-past-the-post or possibly just not interested. It was obvious that a great deal more work needed to be done.

So what did anyone expect Prime Minister Trudeau to do? As a politician, he listened to his cabinet, his caucus and to parliament and to the citizens of his country. After due deliberation, he admitted that we will just have to use first-past-the-post again in the next election.

He is not the first politician to break a promise to the voters. He will not be the last. He admitted he made a boo-boo.

-30-

Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Culling Canada’s Cabinet.

Thursday, January 12th, 2017

Cabinet making and cabinet tending are different requirements of a prime minister. Those were sunny days in late 2015 when Prime Minister Trudeau chose his first cabinet. Change can come quickly at busy times. What we have to realize is that his perspective on the need for change is quite different from our perspectives.

Trudeau has direct contact with his ministers while we get most of our impressions through the filter of the news media.

But despite this difference, we can well understand most of his changes. The most difficult for him must have been the retiring of foreign affairs minister Stéphane Dion. While we will reserve judgement on replacing Dion with newcomer Chrystia Freeland, the job could be more of a challenge for her than she expects. Misogynists such as Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin will tend to ignore her.

And she is following a class act. Stéphane Dion got a bum rap from the Liberal Party and voters. No, he does not communicate well in English but he is probably the smartest foreign affairs minister we have had since the days of Lester Pearson.

Trudeau had to do something about democratic institutions minister Miriam Monsef. Watching her in action has been a bit of a surprise. She has that porcelain prettiness of Persian women without their usual reticence. It was her outspokenness in dumping the blame on the special committee’s report for a lack of direction in her portfolio that got her in the most trouble.

The only surprise was the removal of John McCallum. There was a point late last year when we were curious about the reported comment of the immigration minister that we should go slower on accepting Syrian refugees. That seemed to be the opposite to Trudeau’s gung-ho approach and we were wondering if McCallum’s natural conservatism was running counter to Trudeau’s neoliberalism. Any rift between them could not be that bad if McCallum is now being trusted to handle relations with China as our ambassador. Bejing has the capability of replacing much of the trade we currently have with the United States if Trump foolishly tears up the North American free trade Agreement (NAFTA).

We will have comments on the newbies in cabinet once they have been briefed and ready to talk to the media.

-30-

Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Let’s march to our own drummer.

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017

It was hardly a surprise when the Prime Minister’s Office said he was not attending Donald Trump’s inauguration in Washington next week. Frankly, the Canadian prime minister would just be in the way. It was more of a surprise that he would not be attending the concurrent world economic conference in Davos, Switzerland. It seems that our Prime Minister has decided he would rather talk to some Canadians that week.

It reminds us of the 1972 federal election that Pierre Trudeau almost lost because he said he was going to have a conversation with Canadians. It was because of that resulting minority government that Pierre Trudeau brought more political people into his office and gave Liberal organizer Keith Davey his old job back.

But there is no concern over our current prime minister missing Donald Trump’s inauguration and ‘celebration.’ And, frankly, the after parties could be quite depressing. Nor would Trump would want someone younger and better looking to compete with on the inauguration stage. He suffers enough just standing near outgoing President Obama. Obama’s eight years in the Oval Office have certainly greyed his hair but he is still a lot younger than his replacement.

It was quite a reach the other day when a writer tried to compare the impact Franklin Roosevelt had as President of the U.S. to the potential impact of Donald Trump. Trump might be a change-agent businessman but he is a special maverick breed of businessman: a developer. They play by different rules. It is like in the movie business, you are only as good as your last blockbuster. And besides, Roosevelt cared about people other than himself. Many would argue he was the greatest President Americans ever had.

Somebody must have said something to the powers that be in the Prime Minister’s office about the perceived elitism of our prime minister. Last year at the Davos gathering of the rich and famous, Justin Trudeau was the flavour of the month. Maybe there were just too many pictures fed back to Canada of him cavorting with the moneyed of the world. This year, those of us who belong to the hoi polloi get him.

We certainly hope that we will get him more fairly distributed than when the special parliamentary committee on electoral reform visited with Canadians last summer. More than 13 million Canadians in Ontario got a half day visit in Toronto while many smaller provinces got two or three visits.

-30-

Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

“Well here’s another nice mess, Ollie!”

Saturday, December 3rd, 2016

Democratic Institutions Minister Maryam Monsef and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are probably too young to remember the 1920s to 1950s Hollywood comedy team of Laurel and Hardy but they seem to have a comparable act. It was Monsef’s turn on Thursday to dismiss the work of her own committee on electoral reform. She had given the committee an impossible task to complete in an impossible time frame and then took the committee to task for not working hard enough.

Playing the Stan Laurel role in the duo, Justin Trudeau got the shtick rolling during the 2015 election by foolishly promising that 2015 would be the last time Canadians would use first-past-the-post voting. From when he first said that many people knew he was headed for trouble. Choosing the inexperienced Monsef as the cabinet member to implement the change was likely his second biggest mistake on the file.

For Monsef to insult the committee, on the record, in the House of Commons was a mistake that cannot be expunged. The Minister obviously spent some time in the parliamentary woodshed for her mistake.  Those Members of Parliament not only deserved the multiple apologies the next day but they deserved some real contrition from the Minister after their hard work over the summer.

And they did a good job within the time limits and the parameters that had been set. What nobody noticed is that some of the by-the-ways of the committee’s mandate were a more difficult task than the original task. Internet voting itself needed more than a summer with all the misconceptions people have on the subject.

It was the Liberals on the committee that acted the most responsibly in the final report. The Conservative, NDP, Green and Bloc majority on the committee recommended that the government proceed with a proportional system of voting after a referendum on the subject. They knew it was a specious argument. They knew that there would be lots of time to argue about any proportional system the Liberals might design.

But that is what the Liberals on the committee actually suggested. They very honestly considered the next election in 2019 would be far too soon to consider using a different electoral system. They want Canadians to be far more engaged in the subject of electoral reform before anything is proposed.

But ‘democracy be damned’ as far as ‘Oliver Hardy’ Monsef is concerned. The ball has been played to ‘Stan Laurel’ Trudeau’s side of the net and he has to decide if he should save his Minister of Democratic Institutions. Or not.

-30-

Copyright 2016 © Peter Lowry

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

The silence of Trudeau’s lambs.

Sunday, October 30th, 2016

You wonder what a writer such as Thomas Harris (The Silence of the Lambs) would make of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s most recent elitist appointments to the Senate of Canada. What is really different in this circumstance is that these people are reported to have actually applied to be appointed. It is a strange type of job application where nobody with experience need apply.

Being offered the job of Canadian senator is like winning one of those scratch tickets that are supposedly offering cash for life. In this Senate, you are paid the salary of a member of parliament and quite generous expenses until you are 75-years old. And you do not have to run for re-election every four years. People used to have to prove themselves in politics for a number of years before getting that kind of offer.

And that is the serious problem with Justin Trudeau’s solution to the senate. He intends to fill the senate with political virgins who, he says, wear no visible party colors.

But he is forcing these very lucky people into a serious learning curve that some of them might not be able to handle. They are a mainly apolitical group being thrown into the ring with real politicians. They are supposed to deal with political questions for Canadians. They are supposedly nonpartisan and they have applied for a job where they are required to make what are partisan decisions.

But the Conservatives and New Democrats in Parliament are starting to come to their own conclusions. Looking at the backgrounds of these appointees brings them to the conclusion that most of these backgrounds are mainly of interest to people of a liberal inclination. It is not that they are Liberals in the political sense but they think like many liberals. Justin Trudeau might not have the experience of a jury consultant but he knows the people he likes.

By side-stepping the political vetting process and leaving it to his elite committee, Trudeau is striving for an appearance of a non-partisan selection process. He has failed in the attempt.

There is a simple explanation. If you ever want to see our prime minister scream and run for a place to hide, just suggest to him that we re-open the Canadian Constitution. He has an almost pathological fear of that process. He saw it as his father’s one failing.

-30-

Copyright 2016 © Peter Lowry

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