Posts Tagged ‘Liberal Party’

Disciplining the diplomacy of diplomats.

Sunday, August 12th, 2018

She might be a bit smaller in stature but foreign affairs minister Chrystia Freeland is head-over-heels ahead of a conservative predecessor John Baird. Baird was something of an embarrassment throughout his tenure during the Harper era. And if Freeland knew enough to stay away from Twitter, we could give her even higher marks.

Who does she think she is; Donald Trump?

Freeland recently used Twitter to piss off the Saudis. How stupid could that be? What the hell does she think is the reason for countries having access to diplomatic channels?

Twitter is for children and show-offs. Twitter is for bad jokes. Twitter is for people who need to get a life. It is not a channel for diplomats.

If you really want to tell those Wahhabi Sunnis in Riyadh what you think of them, tell them to their face. A true Wahhabi knows that you are an infidel scorned by Allah and even worse, to them, you are just a woman. Why should those Bedouins give a damn what you think?

Your strength, as a diplomat, is in the country you represent. And you are representing a country that is recognized and respected around the world for its progressiveness in technology, in human rights, in respecting the ecology and its democracy.

And, it is why they will listen to you. If it is Canada speaking to them, they will listen. Their country might be barely out of the 19th century but they do understand our arguments in favour of human rights. Both countries gain by us training many of their medical specialists. And there are other areas of mutual interest.

This does not include our sell-through of American armoured vehicles. The fiction of those vehicles as Canadian is one that neither nation needs.

Admittedly, it is diplomacy that helps keep the world’s economics running smoothly.

And we should never forget that a very important venue for diplomacy is just down the road in New York. It is the United Nations. If you are worried about the Saudis threatening the peace in the middle east, take you concerns to the United Nations. Those diplomats enjoy a good squabble.

But never forget that it was the Brits who brought the Saudis out of the middle ages about 100 years ago. They are still a couple centuries behind. If we keep the proper diplomatic pressure on them, they just might listen.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Can Singh sing a new song in Burnaby?

Thursday, August 9th, 2018

It is now confirmed that new democratic party leader Jagmeet Singh will try for a seat in the House of Commons this fall. The facts are that the guy has not drawn a salary for over a year now. He has gotten married and he might need a couple new bespoke suits. He could have possibly run in Montreal in Tom Mulcair’s old seat of Outremont or a formerly conservative-held seat in Grenville-Dundas-Thousand Islands in Ontario, but he has decided the safest seat is in South-Burnaby in British Columbia.

But while that might be the safest seat for an NDP, Singh had to finally come out against the Trans Mountain pipeline. It was the end of sitting on the fence between premier John Horgan’s BC NDP and premier Rachel Notley’s Alberta NDP.

South-Burnaby voters will likely have a clear choice. No liberal has been selected yet but whoever runs for the government party will be standing on Justin Trudeau’s shoulders. The greens and conservatives might as well stand back and let the liberals and NDP have at it! This will be a referendum on the newly government-owned Trans Mountain pipeline. The $7 to $11 billion enhancement project is designed to bring more of the Alberta tar sands products to Burnaby for loading on ocean tankers.

The only reason Kennedy Stewart is not representing the seat is that he is in the running for mayor of Vancouver. In Vancouver, they do not have party politics in the traditional Canadian manner. The current election pits the progressives against the combined conservatives and right-wing liberals.

My bet is on Stewart for mayor of that wonderful city.

South-Burnaby is considered to be one of the most ethnically diverse electoral districts in Canada, competing with many ridings in Toronto for that distinction. Prime minister Trudeau remains very strong in ethnically diverse areas and that alone could make this by-election a toss-up.

The one thing that Singh might not be prepared for in this situation is to lose. And he could. The ethnic make-up of the electoral district is only listed as 16 per cent south Asian and Sikhs are only a part of that group. It will be an interesting test of Singh’s appeal to other ethnic groups. Singh will also be considered an eastern carpetbagger who will not have any long-term interest in the people there.

Jagmeet Singh might be biting off too much.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Patching the health care problems.

Thursday, July 26th, 2018

With former Ontario health minister Eric Hoskins helping the federal government and Doug Ford tearing into the make-do solutions in Ontario, we might be in more trouble in adding pharmacare to health care than we thought possible. We already know that Doug Ford’s argument for a patchwork solution is unworkable but just where Hoskins and the feds are headed also has a question mark on it.

As health minister for Ontario over the past four years, Hoskins has always had a frazzled look about him. He seemed to have no idea what to do about the increasingly onerous demands of the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) specialists who seemed to think their fees should be unlimited. And these demands by the specialists were being made while people outside the large cities in Ontario were increasingly desperate for general practitioners to come and provide coverage in their community.

I always assumed that those speeches the health minister made in support of a national pharmacare program were also being delivered to his Ontario cabinet colleagues. His problem was that former premier Wynne never saw a good program that she could not chop up into chewable chunks.

But Wynne’s stepping-stone steps for Ontario are down the tubes now as Doug Ford is set on teaching us all to pay our own way. Ford is determined even to the extent of taking back pharmaceutical coverage from anyone under 25 who has a health plan on their own or through a parent with coverage through their company, union or organization.

If Ontario’s new premier thinks his plans will save anybody money, he is definitely confused. Unless there is a single buyer of pharmaceuticals for the province (or all of Canada), there will never be any control. And to even suggest that insurance companies selling health plans, with pharmaceutical coverage included, are not motivated by profit, is delusional.

Ontario has had enough of the Doug Ford-Mike Harris approach to health care. Seniors were promised by Wynne that they would have the $100 per year plus the up to $6 co-pay per script ended after January 1, 2019. That will obviously not be happening. Even though the co-pay approach was a serious amount for those taking a range of drugs each day. They will be lucky if the Ford government does not increase it.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

What is your party?

Friday, July 20th, 2018

Coming into the dog days of summer is a good time to reflect on what we want in our political party. Speaking from hard won experience, we know starting from scratch with a new type of party is not the best of ideas. People will step boldly into the future but you always have to note that other foot solidly planted in the past. My thinking at this stage is that we need to take over an existing party and change it.

Having been a liberal most of my life, that would be my starting point. Justin Trudeau has been tearing apart the federal party anyway. And the Wynne fiasco in Ontario has taken that party down to a rump in disarray. Both provincial and federal parties have nowhere to go but up.

Both liberal parties have been held back by bad leadership. Wynne expected party support without giving the party the credit for its efforts. Justin Trudeau cancelled the concept of membership in the party and then turned the former membership list into a sucker list to inundate with pleas for money. There used to be some pride in being a member of the liberal party. Not today.

This new party has to build a relationship between the elected and non-elected members of the party. It has to be a grass-roots party with its core and strength in the electoral districts. Membership must have meaning.

I believe that real liberals want a progressive party, a left of centre party. It has to be a party of the people. I think it should be a party that stops talking about the environment and does something about it. I hope it is a party that believes in the universality of higher education, medical care and prescription drugs and dental care—a society that puts the health of its people first.

We might want to change the name to demonstrate that it is a new party ready to face new challenges. That is up to the membership. Regional and provincial bodies need to be made up of electoral district executives.

The wife thinks this subject is dull. I agree. The problem is though that we have been skating around the subject for years while intent on scoring goals. We need to recognize that building anything starts with a foundation. The better the foundation, the higher and better you can build.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

One Canada: Two men named Trudeau.

Sunday, July 1st, 2018

Is Justin Trudeau building on or confusing the legacy of Pierre Trudeau? Thinking back to that Canada Day 50 years ago when Pierre Trudeau was our new prime minister, I think of two very different men. As the wife and I decided the first time we met Justin Trudeau, he is a very different person than his father.

The wife pinned it down by simply stating that Justin Trudeau was probably more like his mother. He is certainly not the aesthetic nor intellectual as was his father. Justin marches to his own drummer. It was only when seeing him speak at his father’s funeral that we saw that there was a nascent politician in the offing.

In his actions as prime minister, Justin Trudeau has built on his father’s legacy of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. He has added a strong pro-feminist stance to our governance as well as a clearer understanding of abortion rights. And we at least have a start towards a declaration of the right of the individual to death as well as life.

But somewhere along the way growing up, Justin must have seen the vehemence of the hatred in Alberta for his father’s national energy policy (NEP). It was as though the elder Trudeau was stealing the bread from Albertan mouths rather than grandfathering the rights of Alberta to its natural resources-based economy. The NEP was forever labelled as an affront and as poaching on Albertan rights. It probably did not bother the father as much as the son.

Yet, no amount of pandering to political greed is going to change the perceptions of many Albertans. Justin Trudeau has even betrayed his hard-won image as a poster boy for the environment. By offering to buy the Trans Mountain pipeline and make it a federal government project, he has betrayed the Paris environmental agreement with most of the world.

The expanded pipeline is designed to pump Alberta highly polluting tar sands bitumen at high pressure to Burrard Inlet and ocean-going tankers. Ersatz crude oil from the tar sands is produced at three times the usual pollution before it is refined to any of many oil products.

Pierre Trudeau loved the natural beauty of Canada and was an avid canoeist. What is the heritage his son Justin is leaving for his children as he so defiantly increases Canada and the world’s carbon footprint?

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Let’s settle this silly supposition.

Saturday, June 30th, 2018

According to Toronto Star columnist Bob Hepburn, political guru David Herle says the results for the liberals would have been worse if Wynne had not announced that they would lose. I must be missing some common sense. Since most of my Canadian readers are fairly knowledgeable about politics, I would like their help here.

Those of us that follow such things closely know that towards the end of the campaign, Kathleen Wynne and the Ontario liberals were going downhill. It was not the time to capitulate. It was a time to get smart.

As campaign manager for the party, it is supposed that Mr. Herle has to bear some of the blame for the loss. That campaign was not his finest hour. He spent more than a million dollars each to get seven liberal members elected. This is not cost-efficient campaigning.

But only now does Herle admit that he had no idea of how to fight Ford. He should have asked some of us old has-beens! We knew Ford from when he was on Toronto council. We watched the blow-hard lose to fellow conservative John Tory in the mayoralty race four years ago. We followed him closely in that farce of a conservative leadership contest. Beating him is as simple as you take one hard run at the son-of-a-bitch and then you ignore him. He was not the reason that the voters should have chosen Wynne.

Herle never gave the voters a convincing reason to vote liberal. Out of a ten-million-dollar campaign budget, you would think he could at least come up with a decent slogan!

Doug Ford’s “For the People” sucked but it was a hell of a lot better than nothing. Nobody ever gave us a reason to vote for Wynne. All we wanted was a single compelling statement on her behalf.

I guess Mr. Herle was counting on the more intellectual voters who preferred not to have a Trump-Lite such as Doug Ford in Ontario. We got news for you campaign manager: There seem to be only enough intellectuals in Ontario to elect seven liberals. The rest of us hoi polloi had to fend for ourselves.

Kathleen Wynne drove the campaign bus that transported loyal liberal voters to the NDP. Wynne should have been slicing and dicing Andrea Horwath from the beginning. That do-nothing blob was sucking up all the hot air and sailed through the campaign to plaudits and to Her Majesty’s loyal opposition.

Mr. Herle, I guess you are fired.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

The Prince of Pot.

Tuesday, June 26th, 2018

Are you looking forward to the Prince of Pot’s coronation on October 17? That will be the day when you can legally buy and use cannabis in Canada for purely recreational purposes. Maybe. It depends on whether your province has got its proprietary pot shops in place. It has taken a long three years for this particular pot promise to happen.

It was the promise that got a lot of the younger voters out and working to help elect Justin Trudeau and his liberals in 2015.

Unlike Trudeau’s ill-considered promise to make that election the last time we would use first-past-the-post voting, the pot promise will now happen.

Maybe one of the reasons that the pot promise took so long was that Trudeau put a one-time policeman in charge of the file. This was the cop who trashed our civil rights during the ill-fated G-20 in Toronto in 2010. It should go down in history on a par with the federal conservative government reaction to the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919.

But there was no smooth sailing for the pot act all the way through parliament. It is reputed by some to be a deeply flawed bill and was rejected when studied by Canada’s elitist senate. Flawed or not, the bill was sent back to the senate by parliament for passing. In as much as most of the senators really like the sinecure of their high-paid jobs, the bill was passed.

There are still some provincial governments concerned about the allowance for some home-grown pot and that argument could become the stuff of which the Supreme Court has to consider. Frankly, the court should throw any complaint out as soon as it shows up on its docket.

But how are the pot partakers to participate in the 2019 election? Their Prince of Pot will need them again. He needs their contributions. He needs their participation. Will they all be so stoned that they will forget all about it?

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

LDP 02: What is in a name?

Friday, June 22nd, 2018

One of the responses we received about a proposed new liberal democratic party (LDP) was from a reader who thought we could just join the Green party and be done with it. As much as I have admired green leader Elizabeth May’s hard work and leadership of the Green Party, I see no reason for liberals to join her party.

Just one of the problems is the name of the party. By calling itself the Green Party, it narrows its purpose, if not focus. It tells people that the party is about the environment and tells us nothing else.

The NDP is also very keen on the environment and takes an equally strong stance. Its problem is that much of its rhetoric is still based on the socialism of the 1930s. The party has failed to build an image for the 21st century.

Despite May’s intelligent and well-researched positions on many aspects of governance, she cannot be all-knowing. As a one-person party, May is stretched beyond reason in parliament. Many MPs over the years have admitted to me that it is about all you can do in parliament is keep up to date on one department as well as do your constituency work

Even the liberal party has taken positive stands on protecting the environment—until prime minister Justin Trudeau’s recent offer to buy and ship highly polluting Alberta bitumen through an expanded Trans Mountain pipeline. Not only is government participation in shipping bitumen bad economics but it is enraging a core of environmentally concerned liberals. Justin Trudeau and the liberals will need all of their mobs for re-election next year and will not find all of them.

But the liberal mobs had already felt themselves adrift. For some inexplicable reason, Trudeau had decided much earlier that he did not like his father’s party. As useful as the party had been to him, he wanted a top-down structure that he could manipulate to his choosing. He went from no party membership fee (and no membership) to a large group of e-mail addresses for people to harangue for help in campaigning and to provide the campaign funds. Those of us who think of ourselves as liberals have been cast aside for the gullible and the monied.

After next year, we will need a new federal liberal party as well as provincial.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Some thoughts on the liberal rout.

Thursday, June 14th, 2018

The hardest thing to digest from the recent election in Ontario was the anger that fueled the liberal downfall. It was similar to a situation with a child who feels wronged and in the midst of a tantrum of tears and frustration. They often will strike out at the adult who tries to help. It seems Kathleen Wynne was the only adult available.

The liberal premier was an accommodating lamb to the slaughter for the hypocrites of the conservative campaign. The Doug Ford team had little interest in truth or fairness or decency. They could hardly believe their luck when they realized that nobody wanted to waste time with fully costed promises and they could get away with foisting bumper-sticker promises on an angry electorate.

The Ontario new democrats were equally amazed as they realized their good luck. It was certainly not their program or leadership that lead them to dramatically increasing their numbers in the legislature. It was progressives in the province who shared the anger at Wynne’s liberals. And what the hell was their choice when Wynne up and quit before the campaign was over? She deserted her party, she deserted the field. She left with no honour.

And what were voters to do? They were trying to get rid of the insipid Dalton dynasty back in 2011 and got a liberal minority instead. Next, they were offered a choice between a lesbian liberal, a confused conservative and a nebulous new democrat. They really had no choice at the time but to vote liberal.

But they became more and more annoyed with themselves for their choice. Maybe some of these talking heads of television can pick out this or that event that caused Wynne’s honeymoon with Ontario to be short-lived. Wynne had a water torture effect on Ontario.

From the beginning, she was hammered with the gas plants mess from the McGinty era. She added to her own problems with the arrogance of her political manoeuvres in Sudbury. Her good friend Ed Clark sabotaged Wynne with the privatizing and selling off part of Hydro One. She announced the beer and wine in large grocery stores so many times that it became a province-wide joke. And, believe me, not everyone understands the economic or just human values of a $15 per hour minimum wage.

As a liberal, I always had strong reservations about Kathleen Wynne. I was annoyed at her from the beginning of her leadership when she and Glen Murray, MPP from her neighbouring electoral district, corrupted the leadership convention that chose her. It is really regrettable that neither the conservatives nor the NDP had a leader suitable to replace her.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

All bets are off.

Thursday, June 7th, 2018

For the first time since I first got involved in politics, I cannot make a guess on the outcome in an Ontario election. Results that used to be so easy to fathom, have gone murky and I will be hanging out by the television tonight hoping beyond hope that common sense will prevail.

The good news, so far, has been that about 200,000 more people have voted in the advance polls. A low turnout in this election would be bad news.

But what cannot be read is the impact of premier Kathleen Wynne saying she cannot win. How many good liberals will go down to defeat because of her foolish and self-centred statement? Her timing stinks.

But was that not the finest political roorback you ever saw when Rob Ford’s widow and her lawyers went after that ass, Doug Ford? Three days before the election, they slammed her brother-in-law on his merry way to maybe becoming premier of Ontario. If the liberals knew anything about that scheme, Kathleen Wynne would never have conceded the election—that being just one more reason, you never, ever quit.

The family squabble over the late Rob Ford’s estate was incidental to the revelations about Doug Ford managing anything. Finally, someone knowledgeable of Doug Ford’s weaknesses has said what many of us could only guess at: they tell us Doug Ford is incapable of running a label printing business. And he wants to run a $150 billion operation such as the Province of Ontario?

And please, please do not assume that the fat lady gets to sing before this absurd opera is over. Andrea Horwath of the new democrats is less competent to run a daycare centre, than she is to run the province. That woman is going to end up getting religion with all the manna that has landed in her lap over the last week.

But looking at the bright side of things, there is an outside chance that we can elect enough liberals to keep both the conservatives and NDP from getting a majority of seats in the legislature. It would force the liberals and the NDP to work together for a couple years before we have another election.

It would enable the liberals to repair the damage to their party and elect a new leader with a one-member-one-vote democratic choice. It would also give the conservatives time to dump Doug Ford and, if the NDP is smart, they could do much better than Andrea Horwath.

As we used to say (jokingly) in politics, it’s election day; vote early and often!

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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