Posts Tagged ‘Liberal Leadership’

Doppelgangers don’t do it.

Sunday, November 25th, 2018

There is a tendency among political leaders to have someone very much like themselves to serve as their chief of staff. It gives them confidence that the person will react as they do and carry out solutions much the same as their principal. It is a lazy person’s solution. And how smart is it, to pay two salaries for the same opinion?

The notion of this person being something of a doppelganger is based on a person and their pet, over time, coming to look like each other.

In fact, in Ontario, premier Doug Ford and his chief of staff, Dean French, are two arrogant white men in suits. They are too much alike. It is just that Doug Ford lets French do the dirty jobs. French phoning the head of Ontario Power Generation to tell him to fire former conservative leader Patrick Brown’s former chief of staff might have been the ultimate in irony.

The claim that French might have directed the police to make raids on illegal pot shops was far more serious. The idea of any politico directly directing the police in carrying out their policing duties is anathema to how Canadians see their police doing their duty. It carries the risk of being interpreted as something that happens in a police state.

There seems to be no such problems for prime minister Justin Trudeau. In this age of feminism, it would be fascinating to learn if his chief of staff, Katie Telford, makes as much as his principle secretary, Gerald Butts. It is obvious that both make over $200,000 and that is quite a bit more than the much-touted middle-class job.

But the doppelganger danger still pertains. The charmed circle with which Justin Trudeau surrounds himself is isolating him from argument and reality. We now have elite selections of senators, elite selections of judges, elite selections for boards and commissions. It would never hurt to have a modicum of political common sense included in making some of these appointments.

But both Ontario’s Doug Ford and Ottawa’s Justin Trudeau have too much ego for that. Both need to have some better exposure to contrary thinking. There does not seem to be much danger of that.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

“Wasn’t That a Party?”

Monday, November 12th, 2018

The Rovers got it wrong when they wrote a song about the party. It was certainly not the whiskey or the gin that is doing in the liberal party. It was the desperation for leadership. And Trudeau is a magic name to Canadian liberals. At a time when people are questioning the viability of political parties, they reached back into the party’s past.

But Justin Trudeau is not his father and he marches to a different drummer. He was playing the right tunes on his flute to impress the party’s urges for reform. He promised to restore the party’s right to selecting its candidates—and then, inconveniently, forgot.

And he thinks it should be a BYOB party. He got the party to give up the standard $10 memberships. He wanted lots more than that. He added people to the party lists for free, called them liberals and inundates the old and the new with e-mails for funds.

Justin Trudeau does not understand the functioning of a political party. What he failed to do was build the party in the electoral districts. He failed to understand the superior strength of the conservatives in the ground game. My district liberal association is meeting for the first time in two years later today and he expects them to mount a strong campaign next year?

But they have been left with nothing to do for the past two years. The national conventions have been for the party elite and its apparatchiks. The policy discussion has been cursory and carefully controlled. After conventions, policy is filed and forgotten, despite the right intentions. Nobody seems to be complaining about what Justin Trudeau is doing to their party. It is no longer the party it used to be.

We used to have regular meetings and events in the districts, in provincial regions and in the provinces. We used to meet to discuss policy, party structure and constitution. And we used to send experts out to the districts to inform them of the latest thinking on party communications and campaigning techniques. And more than 90 per cent of the work was done by volunteers.

As Pierre Trudeau found out in his second election campaign, the voters are fickle. In the general election of 1972, Pierre Trudeau won a slim majority of only two seats in the House of Commons. We shall see how Justin does next year.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Why should I apologize to Justin Trudeau?

Wednesday, November 7th, 2018

It was disconcerting the other day to have some readers complain about my insulting prime minister Trudeau. I casually ended a commentary by saying that nobody complains about our prime minister being too smart. Hell, neither one of us is riding that high on the IQ bell curve. And I can honestly state that, to my knowledge, nobody complains about him being too smart.

But what worries me is that I do not think he even likes people who are politically smart. Frankly, I find him elitist. He grew up to wealth and privilege and tends to choose that type of friends. If his father were here, he would be mortified.

He might use some politically savvy people in his cabinet but the smartest politician in the cabinet is Ralph Goodale, the right-wing minister of public safety from Regina. There are no real reformers.

But my criticism of our prime minister does not mean that I might not vote for the liberal candidate in my electoral district. Providing the person is selected by the liberals in the district, I might even see how I can help him or her get elected. I would not give you two cents for the current conservative dolt and I am not very likely to vote for a new democrat or green candidate unless it was a truly exceptional individual.

The problem is that I have been a liberal for the past 60 years and while the party has wandered away from my ideals occasionally, I support the liberal principles of individual rights and social reform.

But there is always hope. I had hopes for Stéphane Dion, but Stéphane was not his father either. His awkward English kept his intelligence from getting through to anglophone voters. Maybe the reverse was true for Michael Ignatief as liberal leader but I think he really had been out of the country much too long.

It was the growing frustration with the Harper years in Ottawa that led us to turn to the young Trudeau. Liberals were ready to forgive a lot to rid us of what Harper was doing to the country.

But it is still frustrating and I am tiring of listing Trudeau’s acts of bad judgement. His leadership is questionable. His liberalism is weak. And I resent his casual destruction of the liberal party.

But Trudeau is still ten times better than the other choices.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Can Canadians live with this?

Thursday, October 11th, 2018

It is more important than we knew. We are talking about the environment. Our environmental poster boy Justin Trudeau has made too many promises that he has no way of keeping. Our Pollyanna environment minister Catherine McKenna makes promises she cannot keep and quotes government policy that will never happen.

And you saw what happened in Ontario. That pig, Doug Ford is busy tearing down the work of the provincial liberals of the last decade and a half. Ontario went off coal, invested in clean energy and established a strong cap and trade relationship with California and Quebec. Nobody said the plan was perfect but it was starting to pay off. Doug Ford is putting an end to that.

And to make matters worse, Ford is allying himself with Western climate change deniers such as premier Scott Moe in Saskatchewan and conservative trouble maker Jason Kenney in Alberta. These conservative leaders put profit ahead of our children’s future and are fighting against federal program attempts to try to curb pollution such as a proposed carbon tax.

But the most serious problem is that Trudeau’s liberal government seems to think it is not responsible when it ships pollution to other parts of our world.

This government wants to construct a doubled pipeline to Burnaby, B.C. to ship Alberta’s tar sands bitumen to other countries. The highly polluting process to make synthetic crude oil out of bitumen is destroying our world whether it is processed in India or in Alberta.

And the pollution of creating ersatz crude oil is just one of the problems in tar sands exploitation. The rapidly growing areas of settling ponds (that can kill wildlife) in northern Alberta are a testament to the process of sending heated water into to tar sands deposits to bring the bitumen to the surface.

And to make it even worse, bitumen has to be mixed with lighter oils and be heated to be forced at high pressure through pipelines. The diluted bitumen is abrasive and far more likely to cause leaks and spills. It can get in streams and rivers and cause endless destruction of the environment and the further killing of wildlife.

If Justin Trudeau and his cabinet do not know how exploitation of the tar sands is speeding global warming, they are either ignorant, do not care or are hypocrites. Take your pick.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Musing on Maxime’s Maxims.

Wednesday, August 15th, 2018

Maxime Bernier MP does not endear himself. It is not so much his conservatism as his libertarianism. I have met some pretty far right Quebec politicians before but Bernier likes to use his ideas for shock and awe. It gets him lots of media coverage—not all good.

Bernier rides the razor’s edge of racism. He is definitely tribal but he sees no future in being tied to the Parti Québécois. The left-wing péquistes have little appeal. Even the conservative comers in the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) are not far enough to the right for him. He has national ambitions anyway.

If it were not for the foolish system of voting in that last federal conservative party race, he might be leader of the conservative party of Canada today. Instead the system drilled the party down to mediocrity in multiple ballots and they got ‘Chuckles’ Scheer of Saskatchewan instead.

It is that mediocrity in leadership that has saved Bernier from being bounced from the party. Instead of sending the loudmouth to Coventry, Scheer just freed him to spread discontent among the party. Just one more wrong step for Scheer at a time when Justin Trudeau is becoming more vulnerable.

Bernier’s latest faux pas is to accuse prime minister Trudeau of “radical multiculturalism”—whatever the hell that is? It seems Bernier is concerned that the PM is encouraging a lot of smaller tribes instead of the more traditional English-French tribes. Since Bernier and Trudeau are on equal footing with the English-French tribes, it looks like Bernier does not want anyone else in the running.

Bernier complained the other day about these “little tribes” created by Trudeau are causing division. He seems to see them as failing to accept North American values. He complains that they do not immediately appreciate our freedoms and are less eager to accept our openness and tolerance.

I do not know where Bernier grew up but I grew up in Toronto and I watched many of my friends’ immigrant parents struggle with what some saw as the licentious nature of our society. It was tough for them and all we could do for them was to be understanding and recognize why they felt as they did.

To-day, we look at the second and third generation of those families and we see the value that they brought to this country. We are long past Maxime Bernier’s English-French divide. He needs to look around.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Shoring up Alberta’s Energy Exploiters.

Wednesday, July 25th, 2018

For a while there, we were under the impression that the prime minister was the only one allowed to speak for Alberta’s tar sands. It was all on behalf of the almighty buck. Maybe he thought finance minister Bill Morneau would contribute but that guy is weak when trying to explain anything financial.

While Trudeau did not take the opportunity in his recent cabinet shuffle to do anything about Morneau, he did bring in some help for the tar sands apologists. He has moved Edmonton MP, Amarjeet Sohi from infrastructure to natural resources. That is the department that will take responsibility for the now government-owned Trans Mountain pipeline.

As a secular Sikh, Sohi is something of a hero to the Canadian Sikh community because of his incarceration for almost two years by the Indian government for his struggle in Bihar helping poor tenant farmers. On returning to Canada, he supported himself as an Edmonton bus driver until winning a seat on city council and launching his political career.

While some claim that the appointment is to give the MP better exposure and a leg up in the election next year, he seems quite genuine in his conviction that the expanded pipeline over the Rockies is good for Alberta.

Of course, if you only judge the pipeline on its economic value to Alberta, the economy of the province would certainly benefit. Bear in mind that the extremes of environmental damage are there for all to see in Alberta. The vast areas of tailing ponds alone tell the story of the destruction of the environment that is involved in bringing the bitumen to the pipeline head.

But the real hypocrisy of those promoting the exploitation of the tar sands is the pollution of the world environment that is being encouraged by sending the bitumen off shore. Processing of bitumen into ersatz crude oil produces more than three times the carbon footprint of normal crude oil processing. And the tons of bitumen slag left in piles at the refineries is almost pure carbon. If Alberta processed all the bitumen that it has in the tar sands, the province would become unable to sustain life as we know it today.

And how proud are Canadians of all the trouble our government is taking just to ship the pollution problems to third world countries?

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Where’s Justin?

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2018

Oh, we know where on this earth Prime Minister Trudeau might be located. We just wonder where his mind might be at? This country is going downhill morally and politically and our leader was recently down in New York giving a trite commencement address to graduates at New York University. He then headed to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston where he took part in a Solve Conference to address world problems.

We can hardly be caring about our prime minister being a feminist, in touch with the LGBTW communities, and a world-wide poster boy, when he should be here pulling this country in sensible directions. He has a mess of his own making now in B.C. and Alberta and his finance minister has just locked him into a catch-22 situation indemnifying a foreign-owned pipeline company against the legitimate right of Canadians to protest.

And what good is all his simpering diplomacy with Donald Trump when he has a Trump-wannabe trying to take over as premier in his backyard of Ontario? Is he afraid of Doug Ford? We remember how Premier Wynne helped Trudeau in the 2015 election. Is the PM just a fair-weather friend?

It also would not hurt if our prime minister learned a little more about the House of Commons. While Trudeau is busy out posing for selfies, the tory opposition is eating his lunch in parliament.

And if he knew a damn thing about the politics of the Middle East he would help not confuse matters by whining about one Canadian being shot in the midst of a blood bath. He should ask Israeli leader Netanyahu, “We all know President Trump’s an idiot to start this. What the hell is your excuse?”

And speaking of Trump, why are we sending our foreign affairs minister on these NAFTA pilgrimages? Does she not have anything more important to do? As long as Trump does nothing precipitous, we still have a working North American Free Trade Agreement. We have shown we are quite willing to negotiate but surely we have people smart enough to take notes working at the Washington and Mexico City embassies. Politicians are the ones who do the signing and take the credit or the blame as required.

And judging from the foreign minister’s reports from the front lines of the NAFTA negotiations, she does nothing to clarify the situation. She seems to be getting nowhere.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Which half will vote?

Saturday, May 12th, 2018

There is a supposition that following the low turnouts of voters in Ontario elections in 2011 and 2014, there will be a similar low turnout in June of 2018. The question that confounds politicians and pollsters is which half of the voters will come to the polls. And if you are waiting for the 18 to 24 age group to rise up and vote, we better find an issue to cause them to rise up.

You hardly need an issue for seniors. These people are the equalizers in any election. They feel it is their duty to vote. And they do. When you talk to them at their door or in seniors’ residences, they are mostly quite certain of the intention to vote and they have usually made up their minds earlier on how they will vote. The few of this group who are truly floaters between parties, take delight in confounding pollsters and political party workers. Usually, it comes down to which party is promising more for seniors.

(I will never forget the time I was taking a senior home after voting and she told me she had voted for the New Democratic Party candidate. I, politely as possible, asked her why she had called the liberal campaign office for a ride to vote? She explained, as we arrived at her house, that liberals are always on time, polite and drive nicer automobiles.)

While Babel-on-the-Bay’s Morning Line on the provincial election will be published next week, I can tell you now that what we are hearing across the province is disconcerting. There is a palpable anger and an “I don’t give a damn attitude” about this coming election.

The good news is that more and more, women are going to make the difference. Many of them have come to dislike Doug Ford. It is more of a lack of trust than anything else. They do not trust him on women’s rights and they are becoming convinced that he could not even run a household budget. They think he is too vague in what he is going to do for the province and these business efficiencies he is talking about sound like pie in the sky.

And as much as they are not sure they want Kathleen Wynne to continue as premier, they do not think she is a crook. They figure Doug Ford would be much more likely to fudge on his expense account. When it comes to competence, they are much more likely to trust Kathleen Wynne.

And these are the people more likely to vote.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Dark days descending on Ontario.

Monday, April 30th, 2018

It is frightening. We have been studying the mood of voters across Ontario and we do not like what we are seeing and hearing. We are not even into the writ period of the coming election. We are hardly ready to prepare our Morning Line this far ahead but some of what we are seeing is disturbing.

It is the same attitude we had trouble with in Mr. Trump’s win in the United States. We could not see how that blustering bastard could pull it off.

No, Doug Ford is not much like Donald Trump. He is a pale imitation. He is a blowhard and incompetent. Most voters already know that

But people who say they are going to vote for him do not care.

That was the factor that we missed with Donald Trump. We thought that rational people would realize that Trump could do irreparable harm to the United States of America.

But people who want retribution do not care. They want to get even.

And there are two fresh factors throwing us a curve in Ontario. The first is the ‘Me Too’ movement. It is driving a serious wedge in the relations between men and women. It is launching a war between the sexes such as we have never seen before. It has gone past justice to just piling on. It is not a swing in attitude to which you have an opportunity to say “Now stop.”

Those of us who have partnered so equally and openly with each other and the LGTB communities over the years are seeing the divisions and the tensions the ‘Me Too’ movement is causing.

The other incident that is horrifying many of us is the van that was driven down Toronto’s Yonge Street on a sunny day in April. We are seeing it as a sick hatred of the other sex by a very disturbed individual. There is a sad feeling that this needs to be addressed. Society has to recognize the problem. There is no pill for it. Doug Ford is not the answer. He is an irrational get even!

You hardly have to love our lesbian premier. She is too cold for the grandmother role.

But she is a politician. She can pull a coalition behind her. She can be trusted. She knows how to handle the job. You do not have to love her.

And for all her weaknesses, she knew what to do after the horror on Yonge Street. She promoted healing. Doug Ford was nowhere to be seen.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Different directions for divided liberals.

Wednesday, April 25th, 2018

Prime minister Justin Trudeau needs to check the direction in which his mob is headed. It is very hard to get out front to lead them when you are headed in opposite directions. Seeing the directions and concerns of the Liberal Party of Canada at the Halifax gathering last weekend, Trudeau needs to reassess the makeup and direction and priorities of himself and his cabinet.

The truth is today that Liberal Party supporters are predominantly to the left of the political spectrum. They are also to the left of Justin Trudeau and his cabinet. While Trudeau has changed the party to try to prevent it from showing much organization and discipline, he has also made it harder to control. Environment minister Catherine McKenna and natural resources minister Jim Carr can talk the talk of their portfolios but the party knows them to be hypocrites when they support the twinning of the Texas owned Trans Mountain pipeline.

Trudeau needs to realize that next year it is not the elites around his office but the people in the electoral districts who will knock on doors with literature in hand. They are the people who made the breakthrough for Trudeau in 2015 and are needed to defend his less than perfect record in the 2019 federal election.

The prime minister might think that all he needs to do for the party is stand for a few selfies and talk sunny days but the party has shown its concern for where this country is going. The ones who came to Halifax want Pharmacare to match with Medicare. They want to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of drugs to show the user that helping them is more important than penalizing them for addiction.

And it was the young liberals who brought forward reforms for those in sex work. Liberal forums have been hearing for more than fifty years of the need to decriminalize prostitution and to recognize the work of sex surrogates and sex workers as a critical outlet for societal needs.

But it is not the prime minister and his cabinet that should act as the naysayers to these proposals. They have to recognize that the need is to study and consider by a progressive and understanding society. Being conscious of the needs is the beginning.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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