Posts Tagged ‘Liberal Leadership’

Riding the bubble.

Saturday, March 7th, 2020

It helps if you think of the main aspirants for the federal conservative party leadership as Bland, Blander and Who(?) This perception was highlighted the other day. It seems one of them promised—if chosen—that they would immediately try to force an election to rid the country of those despicable liberals. The other two immediately chimed in with a “Me too.”

All three want to ride the bubble. The bubble is something that occurs whenever there is a leadership change in a major party. It is that sudden, and temporary, lift in the opinion polls that the party gets from the publicity surrounding the choice of a new leader.

It works, sometimes. The last time I saw it work well was in 1968. We called it Trudeaumania. Our present prime minister’s father got the impression that he was omnipotent in that election. He later learned that omnipotence has a short shelf-life.

Trudeau Junior thought he was riding the bubble back in 2015, when he had such an easy victory and a majority government. That was no bubble. Justin was cashing in on the voter exhaustion with the machinations of the Harper government and the hope that Trudeau was like his father. It took the voters the next four years to realize they might have bought a pig in a poke.

That is one of the problems with the bubble. You are often getting lots of publicity at the time but it is without substantive content. And sometimes a picture really is more effective than 1000 words.

But the bubble is real. Some people will say that in the 2018 provincial election in Ontario, you could have painted any idiot blue and he would have beat Kathleen Wynne and her liberals. And, they did, and he did.

The bubble worked that time because there was just not enough time. If Ontario voters had time to think about it, more time to understand Doug Ford, there might not have been the landslide that they are now regretting.

-30-

Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

A weekend of infamy.

Thursday, March 5th, 2020

Ontario liberals are wasting their money this weekend as they gather in Mississauga to confirm a new leader. With a new leader, about half a million in the bank and some good media coverage, the party should be ready to roar back at Doug Ford’s hapless Tories.

But it will not be long though until Ontario voters wonder what might be the difference.

It is the same problem as the American democratic party is having with its corrupt system of choosing presidential candidates. If you look at the history of those boring delegated conventions in the U.S., you realize that, in the main, they drill down to the blandest candidates. It is all manipulated anyway.

What happened to the republican party four years ago was that a pompous ass kept threatening to buy the republican convention, so they gave it to him. Donald Trump bought that convention at a fire-sale price.

To nobody’s amusement, New York billionaire Michael Bloomberg tried the Trump technique on the democratic party this time around and nobody bought it. Bloomberg wasted some of his billions.

But, thankfully, the situation is different in Canada. It would be foolish to say it cannot happen here but we are actually seeing variations of that in Ontario in recent leadership contests.

When Patrick Brown bought the Ontario conservative leadership in 2015, it cost in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Where the money came from is only conjectured. Brown hired the organizers from Hindi temples and Muslim mosques. They sponsored parties throughout Ontario to which they invited both citizens and recent immigrants from the Sub-Continent. Of the 100,000 of these people in Ontario, the organizers signed up close to 40,000 as members of the Ontario progressive conservative party. They could pay the $10 membership fee or the organizers would pay it for them.

In Del Duca’s case the membership fee was $20 (for two years) but he only needed to sign up 14,000 to swamp the existing liberal party membership. Back when I worked on the party newspaper in Ontario, the party had 70,000 paying members. That was back when Ontario parties were run with a higher regard for honesty.

-30-

Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

 

Del Duca Doesn’t Do It.

Friday, February 28th, 2020

The Toronto Star actually endorsed a candidate for leader of Ontario’s liberals without telling their readers anything of importance about him. They tell us former MPP Steven Del Duca is a good organizer without giving any examples. They tell us he can raise funds without understanding where they come from. They tell us he likes the centre-right political playground instead of being a lefty like Kathleen Wynn.

And that is an endorsement?

Former premier Kathleen Wynne was the most reactionary of liberals. She was slow to listen, slow to react and unembarrassedly milked any media opportunity that made her look even a little bit progressive. To suggest Del Duca is more right wing than her is to put him in a similar political view as Maxime Bernier.

And Wynne seemed to have the political common sense of a gerbil. When she surrendered before the campaign was even over to that ass Ford and his collection of conservative connivers, it was her high-water mark of blundering politics. She gave no thought to the candidates and party supporters she was betraying.

But of the 20 or so of the liberal candidates who had a chance at the time of winning their seats, I hardly think Del Duca was included. Micheal Coteau and Mitzie Hunter were two we expected to pull through because of their strong riding support and their hard work.

The one thing for sure is that the liberal party has little chance of serious reform with someone such as Del Duca at the helm. The federal party has been changed under Justin Trudeau into a collection of easy marks for constant fund-raising. They have little input on where the party is going, its policies or in choosing its candidates.

It will be a sorry day next week if Steven Del Duca walks away with the party leadership. It will be when liberalism dies in Ontario.

-30-

Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

Coteau fights on for Ontario leadership.

Monday, February 17th, 2020

In an e-mail the other day, Michael Coteau promised his supporters that he will fight on against the status quo for Ontario liberals. With Steven Del Duca poised with a majority of elected delegates, Coteau stands Canute-like challenging the tides. It will be decided quickly on March 7 at the Mississauga International Centre when the ex officio voters join the delegates from ridings and various liberal clubs. There is little reason to expect a majority of ex officio voters to vote for party reform. They have an invested interest in the status quo.

With the Del Duca campaign orchestrated by Queen’s Park denizen, Tom Allison, I have no expectation of any surprises. Allison was the supposed organizing guru behind both Ontario liberal leaders Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne.

While my days at Queen’s Park pre-dated Allison’s, I always wanted to keep the party moving forward. I felt that Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne would have been more comfortable in a conservative government. I did give McGuinty credit for his better protection of the Ontario environment and cleaning up the mess left to Ontario by the Mike Harris conservatives.

But I saw Wynne as reactionary and more interested in the news conferences about what she intended to do rather than the actual action. I was appalled at the manipulation she did in the deal with Glen Murray, the MPP in Toronto Centre, the week before the delegated convention that chose her as leader of the liberal party. By his stepping out of the race at that point, he dropped all his delegates into the independent category, knowing the ones from his riding would vote for her. The move added to the corruption of an already corrupt system of choosing the leader.

I do not trust Stephen Del Duca to be a progressive leader of the liberal party. Real liberals can do better.

-30-

Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

Ontario liberals need leadership.

Wednesday, February 12th, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-30-

Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

The politician and the poser.

Wednesday, January 29th, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

-30-

Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

The smart ones fight on.

Sunday, January 26th, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

-30-

Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

“It’s time to give the profile…”

Tuesday, January 21st, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-30-

Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

The gravitas of Justin Trudeau.

Monday, January 20th, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-30-

Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

When do we get back to the environment?

Friday, January 17th, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-30-

Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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