Posts Tagged ‘Liberal Party’

Building bridges west?

Sunday, December 1st, 2019

I am not a fan of Toronto member of parliament Chrystia Freeland. While properly impressed by both her CV as a journalist and her books, I do not see her as a politician or deputy prime minister. I do not think she understands Donald Trump, Jason Kenney or Justin Trudeau. She might not be working to her strengths.

Maybe the answer to her is the answer to the question, ‘Why is she in politics?’ The answer could also shed some light on her appointment to be some sort of a go-between for the West. Her bridges seem tenuous.

Jason Kenney has his political agenda and it is fair to ask if Ms. Freeland understands it? If she does, good on her! What is she going to do about it? Kenney is looking for a political answer and neither the prime minister nor his deputy has that political answer. Does Kenney think they would be foolish enough to give in to all he demands? Those demands could destroy Alberta as a liveable part of this country.

And please do not suggest that Ms. Freeland got NAFTA(2) up and ready to run by understanding Donald Trump. She got that job done by working around Trump. Could he even pick her out of a line-up?

And will somebody please tell us where Chrystia Freeland was hiding during that SNC-Lavalin fiasco early this year? She might not have seen it as her place to intervene, but she was a senior cabinet member back then. You cannot tell us that nobody in that cabinet last winter could see where the Wilson-Raybould fiasco was taking them.

And that leaves us with the relationship of Ms. Freeland and her boss. Her appointment was hardly to add a female to his cabinet, we hope. He promised a gender-balanced cabinet and the word is that someone counted and said, ‘Yep, it’s half women.’ And now we know where some of those creative portfolio titles came from.

Anyone who puts gender ahead of competence is headed for trouble. And, there is the rub: Justin Trudeau’s lack of political smarts also spells trouble. It is hard to imagine his government lasting a year before we are into a new election.

We live in interesting times.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Ontario liberals are down but not out.

Saturday, November 30th, 2019

There are entirely too many media people who think that the Ontario liberals have been shut down. What they do not seem to understand is that a political party is like a very large animal when it has lost a fight. It does not surrender. It might go into a cave somewhere and lick its wounds and think. And some day soon, it is going come out of that cave, ready to fight again.

But before it gets into that fight again, it needs to decide what it wants to be. A political party is not a fixed target. It is made up of an ever-changing mass of people, many with ideas. Some of those ideas are good and some are probably stupid. It is why the party needs to assess its objectives and how it might achieve some of the good ones.

One thing you can be absolutely sure of is that the liberal party cannot win as a top-down organization. It needs a leader who can lead the party where the party wants to go. We certainly do not need another leader who thinks he or she is omnipotent. We need a party that can discuss what liberalism can be in the 21st Century. It needs a leader who can reflect the ambitions of the membership.

And if none of the six current candidates for the leadership can understand the kind of leadership needed, we better shut down this upcoming convention to choose a new leader. Why would anyone want to repeat the errors of the past that chose Kathleen Wynne?

I am not saying the lady did not try hard. She just did not know what she was doing. She never was a liberal. A liberal is a progressive in a hurry. A liberal is a social democrat with compassion.

What do we do here in Ontario? The job of the provincial government is to look after our people. We look after their education and health. We build a safe, caring environment for them with good food from our well-run farms. We build the infrastructure they need to move easily around our cities and province. We do our best to bring them jobs and opportunity. We are a tourism destination for millions from around the world. Always remember: Ontario is liberal.

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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

Liberals think they won?

Tuesday, November 26th, 2019

There seems to be a new definition of winning. There was a lengthy Insight article in the Toronto Star last weekend on how the liberals think they won the last election. Signed by the Star’s Susan Delacourt, it must have been dictated by the liberal campaign head Jeremy Broadhurst. Even with that amount of bias, the most you can say is that the election was a draw. Nobody won.

Broadhurst (blushingly) gives the credit to the troops doing the grunt work on the ground game. What stunned me of all the figures kicked around in that article was the figure he used to show the liberal ground strength. He talked about 90,000 volunteers across Canada. We used to have more than that just in southern Ontario—and that was back in the day when you paid a membership fee to be considered a liberal.

And then he points to the 250,000 Canadians who signed up to be a free liberal. I would like to know how many got sick of all the pleas for money and hit the ‘unsubscribe’ button?

Maybe the lists needed some culling as there was likely a preponderance of seniors in the previous membership lists. And what have Justin Trudeau and his team ever done for seniors, other than ignore them?

During the campaign, I had a demonstration in the local liberal committee rooms of the smart phone app used in this campaign by liberal workers. I found the system to be too impersonal and too subject to interpretation. As a campaign manager, I often had to chase down canvassers the next day to get their comments on what they were hearing at the door. There were also times I would grab a canvass kit and spot check an area to verify what was being heard.

I am not sure where the party is getting its campaign managers today but building the competence of the party to win elections is a task that begins the day after the previous election. Technical gimmickry aside, you cannot leave team building for after the writ comes down.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

And now for some slow news?

Friday, November 22nd, 2019

It is now revealed. The Toronto Star tells us that what we write as instant commentary on a news event is called a ‘Hot Take.’ This was the same day as there had been something catastrophic at the Star’s out-of-town printing plant. The news about Hot Takes and Slow News came at the same time as an e-mail from the company telling subscribers that they would be receiving two copies of the Star Friday morning.

Actually, I was impressed. For the first time that I can recall, TorStar fessed up to having a problem before I could call to complain. Good on them. I warned the wife that I might require two cups of coffee today, to get through two days of comics.

But I really like this ‘Hot Take’ idea. It sounds so much better than ‘carping.’ I have often felt that Babel-on-the-Bay might reach greater numbers of readers if it was just more positive. People need good news.

But we live in confused times. Trump in the White House! Brexit in the offing. Big mouth Doug Ford at Queen’s Park. I think of it as the displeasure of our times.

And I am sorry that Justin Trudeau does not seem to know what he is doing. He seems to have some hate on for political parties. He thinks of us liberals as a financial resource. He has some idea that the party should be a cult and do what he tells it.

His father knew better. Pierre Trudeau used to laugh when he saw me and ask how the ‘Get Off Your Ass’ club was doing. He had no problem with the liberal party pushing for progressive policies. He found it challenging.

The liberal party is a resource that Justin Trudeau could have made better use in the last campaign. We lost ridings that we could have won with a stronger party organization.

But I better get busy. This new liberal cabinet is going to need a lot of Hot Takes.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

But who’ll fix the marijuana mess?

Thursday, November 21st, 2019

Swearing in the new cabinet at Rideau Hall was a painful process. Maybe it would have worked better if all the retreads with the same portfolios got sworn in together. It was only the cabinet changes that the media and public wanted to examine. And I, for one, think a cabinet member should get one thing right before he (or she) gets a chance to screw up more serious matters.

I’ll bet you think I am going to bitch about Carolyn Bennett being kept in her ineffectual role of looking after aboriginal affairs. Well, I am not. I figure if the various councils and tribes, and pow-wows and reconciliations cannot come to grips with our aboriginal needs and wants, who am I to complain on their behalf.

While I am willing to give the new cabinet an opportunity to show its stuff, I do have one small caveat. I think that people such as Toronto’s Bill Blair should clean up the mess made in his pot-promoting lily pond before he goes on to more serious responsibility in a larger pond.

And what idiot thinks a police background is suitable experience to become a spy master? I think Bill Blair is the last person who should ever be in charge of intelligence. Admittedly, the Canadian Intelligence Security Service has always been a bit of a tongue in cheek affair but it is hardly a bunch of Keystone Kops! CSIS relies heavily on technology today to give it the leg-up it has among intelligence operations.

Blair has none of the technical background necessary to discuss clandestine surveillance in Five Eyes meetings. He is just not the sort of person you trust to protect our rights and freedoms. He was the person in charge of the police who broke trust with Canadians in June, 2010.

But the latest problem we have with Blair is the crock-up he has made of marijuana sales across Canada. By not understanding basic merchandising and a marketing rollout, he set the provinces up for a marketing disaster. I think it is fair that Blair should wear the dunce cap for the pot problem.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Let’s get this show on the road.

Sunday, November 17th, 2019

As an Ontario liberal (a paid-up member), I am aware that there is a contest afoot to select a new Ontario party leader. And I hear that only those paid up by December 2, 2019 will be eligible to be elected to go to that easily corrupted delegated-convention in Toronto at the beginning of March 2020 to choose the new leader.

But what kind of a race is this if the four Toronto area candidates and the London area candidate (so far) do not take their shows on the road? Those of us in central and northern Ontario are not just window dressing. And we like to influence where the party is going. It is hard to have an opinion when you have never met any of the candidates.

I must admit that Michael Coteau from Don Valley East in Toronto is running the most aggressive campaign so far. He has bought that NationBuilder software and makes a very credible presentation. He keeps supporters and possible supporters informed and is more sensitive than the federal liberals in how often and how aggressively he asks for financial support.

Coteau also stays away from the trite political language and asks people to think. He is running an idea-based campaign. The problem is the web sites, FaceBook pages, Twitter and the others, do not make a campaign. Politically-active people need face time.

This is something that Mitzi Hunter, the other sitting MPP understands. Yet the media assume that former MPP and cabinet minister Steven Del Duca is in the lead because of the low-hanging fruit in support that he features in his web site.

I think Kate Graham from London will add something to the race. I have often wondered how a political science academic would do in a real leadership contest? Alvin Tedjo is the other inexperienced candidate and yet, he works from his strengths with some excellent podcast material on his web site.

But it is expensive for the candidates as it is for the people attending the March convention. With only five candidates, it would be a shame to lose any of them at this stage.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

 

Justin Trudeau lacks the political smarts.

Saturday, November 16th, 2019

An old friend is mounting an e-mail campaign to get prime minister Justin Trudeau to add some key members to his new cabinet. I have argued with him that it is not going to happen and frankly the problem is not so much the idea but the fact that the prime minister lacks the skills to manage such a situation. It is all based on adding Elizabeth May of the green party and a couple friendly new democratic MPs to the federal cabinet.

It is not unheard of. The argument against it happening is the problem of cabinet confidentiality. While making an argument for an open and transparent cabinet would be interesting, the reality is that it is not going to happen. There are just too many national security matters that have to be considered. There are also the confidential matters that involve business and industry. There are the budget matters that have to be announced to everybody at once and not pre-released to a select few. There are far too many considerations for someone such as Justin Trudeau to handle on a day-to-day basis. Look how he did with the SNC-Lavalin affair in the past year.

Still, there is much to like about the idea. My friend, of course, wants Elizabeth May in the cabinet portfolio of the environment. That might be a great idea but expertise in the portfolio is not the first criteria for selection. The first is regional representation. There is also seniority. Knowing some of the specifics of the job might encourage the prime minister to appoint an economist in finance or a senior lawyer in justice but if you add some feminist idea that you have to have half boys and half girls, you could make cabinet-making a high-risk job.

Frankly, it would be easier for the prime minister to get the green party and new democratic party members to sign on as liberals. All a liberal is these days is a person who gets constant e-mails asking for donations to the liberal party.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Now do the decent thing.

Wednesday, November 13th, 2019

Green leader Elizabeth May did the right thing. The other major party leaders, Scheer, Singh and Trudeau should follow. None completed the recent election with honour. Scheer won the popular vote and lost the election. Singh lost ground for the new democrats. Trudeau lost the West but won Ontario and Quebec and held on with a minority.

May improved her party’s membership in the commons by 50 per cent (one member) and then she resigned. In comparison, Singh lost a third of the new democratic party seats and thinks he is a hero. That supposed surge for Singh in the latter part of the campaign was reluctant NDPers admitting that there was not much choice and coming home to their party.

What is particularly odious about the crushing of Singh was the loss of former NDP seats in Quebec to the Bloc Québécois. The Bloc also took over the third-party status of the new democrats.

It will be at the first opportunity for his party to have a secret vote on his leadership that will end Jagmeet Singh’s career in federal politics. The same end is likely to be in store for Andrew Scheer.

The most amusing aspect of Mr. Scheer’s dilemma is that he could have been prime minister today, trying to win the approval of other parties to support him. What it would have taken was a change in the position taken by members of his party on the special commons committee on electoral reform. This was the committee that studied proportional representation and the conservative members of the committee insisted on holding a referendum. Nobody anticipated that a referendum would approve such a change and Justin Trudeau was forced to renege on his promise.

Despite his many short-comings, Justin Trudeau might be the only party leader able to survive a leadership vote at the next meeting of his political party. The problem is that Trudeau has been busy attempting to turn the liberal party into more of a cult than a traditional Canadian political party.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

A failure in leadership.

Wednesday, November 6th, 2019

If conservative leader Andrew Scheer is looking for compassion, he is looking in the wrong places. There is no succor for losers in Toronto’s Albany club. Long the King Street hangout of the rich and famous of Canadian conservatism, there is no compassion there for someone rejected by the voters of Toronto and the GTA.

And, no matter how you look at it, Chuckles’ days of power and privilege and free accommodation, in the opposition leader’s residence at Stornoway, are sliding away from him. He came, he saw what he wanted, and he lost. The story is that simple.

The only person who owes Andrew Scheer anything is Justin Trudeau. Chuckles kept Trudeau in power.

Most conservatives complicit in the selection of Andrew Sheer as leader of their party in 2017 considered him to be nothing more than a place-holder. His job was to hold the fort while Justin Trudeau went through the typical two terms as a young, fresh-faced prime minister. Nobody considered the liberal leader to be particularly vulnerable. The wheels only fell off the liberal bus early in 2019.

Liberals were cringing and conservatives were jubilant when the SNC-Lavalin affair hit the news media. It was the kind of affair that had legs. It dominated the media for months. It remains unresolved.

There were also broken promises and Trudeau’s use of his party lists for constant fund-raising that was tearing at the fabric of liberalism across Canada. The liberal party machine went into the fixed-date election in September, unprepared and in disarray.

It was an election to see who could sling the most mud. It lacked ethics, urgency and coherency. The liberals and conservatives (and, to their bias, the Parti Québécois) chose this election to divide the country. There were few answers for those of us concerned about climate change. People became tired of endless, meaningless promises as to how to spend their money.

It was a campaign that left every man and woman to look to their own needs and wants. There was no unifying theme. There was only ‘get mad, get even.’ It was a campaign to remember with sorrow. We were all losers. So far, the only party leader to do the honourable thing is Elizabeth May of the Greens. The other leaders should follow.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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