Posts Tagged ‘Liberal Leadership’

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

Running in place.

Monday, December 2nd, 2019

The serious jogger does it when blocked by traffic or a stoplight. It is called running in place because your legs keep moving but you are not moving forward. By keeping up the motion, the jogger is not cooling down or loosing that high of a good run.

This is mentioned, because until today, the candidates for the liberal party leadership seem to have been running in place. Fund raising and team building might have absorbed most of their time but the average liberal was not seeing much action.

This lack of build up about the coming delegated convention might be the problem but I got comments from some Ontario readers that they had no idea what I was writing about the other day.

Let me explain: The Ontario Liberal Party is planning to hold a delegated convention at the Mississauga International Centre on March 7, 2020. At time of writing, there are at least five, if not six, approved contenders for the job of leader. Contender number six has yet to be approved by the party. Why the party might reject her is between her and the liberals who run the party—which is just number one of the reasons that I believe this contest is badly run.

What I was commenting on the other day was the ease with which people can manipulate this form of delegated convention. It starts in the electoral districts. There are quite a few ridings across Ontario that have less than seven members. Those are easy pickings if you need a bunch more delegates. Some ridings are also easy for a small group to take over. The only bad news is that the membership in the party closes today, if you wish to vote for delegates to the March 7 event.

What is considered particularly corrupt is the demand by the party hierarchy that all candidates to be a delegate indicate who they are supporting. In effect, the person is no longer a representative from that part of the province but a representative for that leadership candidate. It defeats the purpose of a delegated convention.

Before the delegate elections in February, I hope to provide some handicapping on the leadership race and some observations on the candidates’ credentials.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Objectives other than winning.

Friday, November 29th, 2019

Some people scratch their head and ask why someone will enter a political leadership race when there is little chance of winning? The truth is that there are different reasons and we have seen many of them over the years. Just the positioning of the person within the particular party can be sufficient reason. If you cannot be king or queen, be the king or queen maker.

And never forget that the person who makes you king or queen, becomes a key person in your inner circle.

But first of all, these contests to become the leader of a political party are expensive. If you can prove that you can raise sufficient funds for the task, you have won the party’s confidence of being able to raise the funds for elections.

There are also policy positions to consider. Remember Tanya Granic Allen in the last Ontario conservative leadership contest. She was supported by the anti-abortion, social conservatives. She came last on the first ballot and was dropped from the race. If she had done better, Ford would have been forced to put her voice in the cabinet.

Even in opposition, the leader of a political party has power. The leader makes shadow cabinet, house and committee appointments.

If the party wins, it is those contenders who brought their supporters over to the ultimate winner first, who get first consideration in the formation of the winner’s cabinet.

And you should never assume anything in politics. Looking at the current contest for the liberal leadership, you will never know who is going to win until you can examine the results of the delegate elections in the electoral districts. Here you will find the first whiff of the corruption of delegated conventions. Making the prospective delegates tell who they are supporting means that the delegates are chosen not to represent their electoral districts but the candidate—who might be paying for their membership, their convention expenses and their vote.

But it is at the convention itself that you find the deals between candidates, the manipulation of riding delegates and the fun of the all-night hospitality suites. We will discuss that at another time.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Never trust a guy with a pipeline.

Saturday, August 10th, 2019

The prime minister can joke about it if he wishes but there are lots of people who will not vote for a guy with a pipeline. If it was just the old Kinder Morgan line that spanned the Rockies, we would not be as worried. It is all that pipe and equipment poised to twin the line and add heaters and higher pressure that are of serious concern.

The current plan for the Trans Mountain pipeline is to twin it, add those heaters to the line and increase the pressure in it. It only adds up to Burrard Inlet being crowded with ocean-going tankers taking on diluted bitumen from the Alberta tar sands. It is a plan based entirely on greed, stupidity and climate change denial. The question is not just when will a couple of those ocean-going tankers play at being bumper cars but how many ways can we help destroy the habitats of the Orcas?

And the question of increasing the pressure in a pipeline commissioned in 1951 to enable it to push through diluted bitumen begs the question: ‘For how long?’

This is not a question that the prime minister would ever be expected to answer. Nor could he. And that is why there seems to be some delays in the decision-making process in Ottawa.

My guess, for what that is worth, is that the liberals will sell the Kinder Morgan property to the aboriginal tribes who have shown an interest. Since no Canadian banker, in his or her right mind, would put up the billions needed to complete the twinning of the line, that might just be the end of that foolishness.

While the people who care about the future of our earth will be working at reducing our requirements for carbon-based products, we know that for the next few decades we will still need some refined oil products. These can easily be shipped into B.C. and the Pacific coast states of the U.S. by pipeline. This will give the aboriginals a return on their investment. It will allow Justin Trudeau to be a bit more credible in promising to save the world.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Slicing and dicing Justin Trudeau.

Friday, August 9th, 2019

You should always remember the plaint of the writer that what you write in haste, you might regret for the rest of your life. It might not be fair to say that John Ivison of Postmedia erred in all of what he wrote about the prime minister in his new book. He just might not have had the time to consider it.

If anyone could understand the dilemma facing Ivison, you would expect it to be fellow author/columnist Susan Delacourt of the Toronto Star. She writes in the Star as though she more than skimmed the book. She seems to accept most of what Ivison says but you do not feel that she is standing shoulder to shoulder with him.

The book, entitled Trudeau: The Education of a Prime Minister was supposed to be in book stores on Tuesday. I would normally wait until the book was remaindered to buy a copy but, in this case, might not bother. I hardly agree that Trudeau is at his best when he goes off script. I only wish he could stick to a script.

Bear in mind that what I am saying about Justin Trudeau comes from a liberal who cares. I doubt that Ivison has any understanding of Justin’s childhood and his relationships with his father. And whatever suggested to him that Trudeau’s script to become prime minister was a blueprint drawn up by the “anointed” is only in Ivison’s dreams. It was definitely an ‘Improv’ event.

I was in touch with the Ottawa scene at the time and well aware of who from the old guard were rooting for him. I think we were all desperate to get rid of Stephen Harper and we did our bit.

My worst discovery with Justin was his ‘on/off’ switch. And he takes some hard-nosed positions that are not liberal in their origin. When he and the family did their dress-up schtick in India, it showed the world how politically naïve he could be.

I would be more interested in Ivison’s book if he just told us what lessons Justin had actually learned in the last four years.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Butts is back.

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2019

Gerald Butts and company are back to drive the liberal campaign bus. One can only hope that a few lessons were learned from their past four years in Ottawa. After all, it has to be tough to remain arrogant when you have screwed up as often as the crew in the prime minister’s office.

But the real concern is: Have they learned anything?

The most serious question is the Trans Mountain pipeline. It must drive the David Suzuki’s of the environmental movement wild that Elizabeth May wants Justin Trudeau to get some return on his ill-considered investment. Trudeau’s one hope is that he can sell the pipeline to the aboriginal group who want it. Hell, let them pay for it on the never-never plan. What the prime minister has to do is get himself off the hook for twinning that damn pipeline. And do not encourage the aboriginals to twin it. That is incitement to riot!

The first challenge for Gerald Butts should be for him to make nice with Jody Wilson-Raybould. Having the lady sitting out there alone on the left coast is costing the liberal party too much. The party can hardly afford, nor does it deserve, to lose its parliamentary majority over the SNC-Lavalin affair. The time for hurt feelings and repercussions is past. Everyone involved has to grow up and admit they need each other.

And us liberals want to hope that all the economic signs continue to point onward and upward this fall. Nor would it hurt to have our prime minister speak loudly and clearly to that nincompoop in Washington to stop his idiocy with the Chinese, ‘Buy America’ and, while he is at it, do something about his racism.

We can only hope that those whiz kids around the prime minister do not put the campaign bus into the ditch along the way to the election. They need to realize that all is not lost, yet.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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