Posts Tagged ‘Liberal Party’

Potholes on the Yellow Brick Road.

Wednesday, February 20th, 2019

It’s the time of year in Canada. The roller-coaster of ice and snow, melting and freezing, leaves even a yellow brick road a minefield of broken and missing bricks. Dorothy and Toto and their three friends have to watch where they step.

With the Cowardly Lion (Justin Trudeau) more familiar with riding on elephants in costume, being transported in the helicopters of rich family friends and the convenience of government jets, he seems more prone to falling into the larger potholes. One of the first to be tripped up, he has fallen into one that could require Quebec’s giant engineering firm of SNC-Lavalin to repair.

It really makes us all wonder at the seeming inability of the prime minister and his wunderkinds of the PMO to handle this current tempest with his former justice minister and, more recently, former veterans’ minister. To stretch the problem this long and to keep feeding us piecemeal snippets of information about the debacle does not seem appropriate to 2019.

The good news/bad news yesterday was the resignation of the prime minister’s principal secretary Gerald Butts. He and the prime minister think alike. They both lack some basic political instincts. Neither understood that the win in 2015 was not theirs. It was a gift from an used up Stephen Harper. Measure Butts’ replacement by his or her political smarts. That is what is needed.

But where is the Scarecrow (Jagmeet Singh)? The poor chap is in the midst of a life and death struggle to take a seat in the House of Commons. He is far from his home grounds of Brampton and at a complete loss to tell you how he is doing. The liberals might as well give him the bum’s rush because the NDP caucus in Ottawa will demand his resignation as leader if he loses in Burnaby South. Oh well, February 25 will tell the tale.

But it is the Tin Woodman (Andrew ‘Chuckles’ Scheer) who is the enigma, who can benefit the most from the confusion of the others. He is but a buffer for the parochial concerns of his friends, Doug Ford in Ontario and Jason Kenney in Alberta. Provided, of course, Jason can defeat ‘Rachel Notley’s party’ in the spring elections in Alberta.

What we re sensing in these early stages is anger and annoyance with all political parties. The Cowardly Lion needs more than to be brave. He needs to learn to be a leader. The Tin Woodman needs more than a heart. He needs to learn to connect with people and offer positive directions.  And the Scarecrow needs more than brains. He needs to realize that his politics have to stand apart from his religion.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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Who is running this circus?

Tuesday, February 19th, 2019

It is usually best to stay away from political situations that you do not understand. While we have gone around the the rings in this circus a few times, we still do not know much. It really is too bad that we do not have a leader who can explain.

We are talking about SNC-Lavalin, the Quebec-based world-wide engineering firm. When you are doing multi-billion construction jobs, it pays to have a firm such as SNC-Lavalin on board.

All we know is that it has something to do with an incident in Libya ten years ago. The Quebec firm was said to be involved in something illegal back then. It seems that the firm can pay a fine and be forgiven if the federal minister of justice thinks it appropriate. Otherwise, they still pay the fine but they are also cut off from federal contracts for the next ten years because of the conviction. That could destroy the multi-billion-dollar firm by cutting it off from billions in contracts.

The most open politician in this squabble is Quebec premier Legault. He has made it very clear that he wants the firm to be forgiven its indiscretion. He sees nothing wrong with the prime minister’s office telling the justice minister to get in line. And most of the talking heads in Quebec seem to be agreeing as none in that province want to see SNC-Lavalin go under.

The situation is quite different out west where the former justice minister is from. Jody Wilson-Raybould has further complicated things by resigning from cabinet and hiring a senior constitutional lawyer to advise her on the conflicts of interest involved with cabinet ministers and the prime minister’s office.

The prime minister is no longer making nice over the situation and he appears to be as frustrated as everyone else about what is going on. As things stand today, nobody is happy about it. The public is confused. The liberal MPs are closing ranks with the prime minister and the opposition is baying like hounds with a scent. We can only hope that it is just Jody Wilson-Raybould’s ‘new freedom’ perfume!


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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Friday, February 15th, 2019

Oh, the shame of it. My last contribution to the Liberal Party of Canada was June 16, 2016. And the party has asked me if this is a mistake? Hopefully nobody has told Justin. He would be so disappointed with me.

Luckily, I expect that only the computer knows that I made my last contribution to the party the month after its meeting in Winnipeg that canceled all memberships to the party. I had been faithfully making the same contribution every month but my membership was canceled. We were all supposed to be happy liberal supporters. I disagreed and canceled my payments.

That was a bold move for the guy who did the first fund-raising effort among the party faithful in the 1960s. I remember having 70,000 letters sitting on the boardroom table at the party’s Toronto office ready for mailing in Ontario. The party treasurer stopped in and looked at the huge stacks. He clucked, shook his head and said, “This is not going to work, Peter.” were his kind words.

The truth is my letter did not get much money but it was a start. The party had to become more self-supporting or always be beholden to its corporate benefactors.

Of course, the Internet helped. The ability to beg and plead with hundreds of thousands of people for peanut prices was first realized by the federal conservatives. And their members seem to have more money than liberal supporters. The conservatives either write better begging letters or have richer retainers. Luckily, it does not necessarily translate to votes.

But today’s liberal supporters are no slouches. They seem to respond to the pitiful pleas of the liberal party. They always tell you that a few more loonies from everyone will make all the difference.

I remember one time the president of the party and I were setting up chairs for a meeting. (Somebody has to do it!) We sat down to rest for a minute and he admitted to me that it would be easier for him to just send money but it is getting more and more people involved that helps us get out our vote during elections. I wish he had told Justin Trudeau about that involvement.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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A shadow from the right.

Sunday, February 10th, 2019

On behalf of the Right Honourable Clarence Decatur Howe, I object. There were many assumptions made about the man when he was alive and many more after his passing. My problem is with what the C.D. Howe Institute does in his name. He does not deserve the presentations of the political right wing that bear his name today.

Howe was never a true politician. He was a man of his times. He was from neither the left or right of the political spectrum. In many ways, he failed as a politician and achieved as a great Canadian.

C.D., as he was known, came into politics in the Great Depression as he needed a job and the country needed a businessman to help correct the problems the depression had created. He was a bull in a china shop in parliament. He just got the job done.

This is the man who got Canadian National Railways back on track. He established the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC-Radio Canada). This is the guy who gave the country a national airline, Air Canada (as Trans-Canada Airlines at the time).

Where C.D. really proved his worth to Canada was in the Second World War. They called him ‘Minister of Everything.’ He put the country on a war footing and never looked back. He organized business people who knew production into dollar-per-year volunteers in the war effort. He might have tread on a few toes during the war but he and the Mackenzie King government did the job required and changed Canada forever.

But there was also the assumption that C.D. was doing this as a businessman. That is a misconception. At no time, in the years C.D. served his adopted country, did he do it for just business reasons. He did it for the country. He always acknowledged the supremacy of parliament. He was a liberal of his day. He was probably more of a neoliberal than we would tolerate today

C.D. Howe was talented and tenacious, tough and thorough. I hardly think he would be pleased that his shadow of effectiveness lives on in the hands of the right wing in the institute named after him. Reading the recent shadow budget for Canada produced for the Institute, it reads as though written by careless conservative ideologues. It lacks compassion, it lacks vision and it is a disservice to a great Canadian.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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The meaning of Milton.

Tuesday, February 5th, 2019

Watch out Lisa Raitt. The liberals are coming. As conservative MP for Milton electoral district, Lisa Raitt has a long, hard fight ahead of her to try to hold on to the riding this coming Fall. Milton is not only a change riding but it is a win needed to meet liberal hopes for a majority government after October 21.

And if Lisa Raitt had been in that hall in Milton the other day and watched that crowd of more than a thousand there to see the prime minister, she would be worried. Few were her supporters. These people not only showed approval for the liberal prime minister but they also showed the changing demographics of Canada.

This is why Milton was on the schedule for prime minister Trudeau’s series of town hall meetings in warming up for the coming election. With an increase of close to 30,000 new voters since the last election, no party can take Milton for granted.

Raitt can expect little loyalty. Her reputation as a tough politician is well earned but her overreach for the party leadership in 2017 earned her little recognition from the voters. And her connections with the harbour boards of both Toronto and Hamilton identify her as more of an outsider than a local product.

And her liberal opponent, Adam van Koeverden, an Olympic medal winner for Canada, has strong area connections. If he is connecting with the young people in the riding and builds the canvas teams that will be needed, he could have the winning combination.

I can remember doing some canvassing in the area of Milton electoral district that was in the north part of Burlington some 20 years ago when a good friend was the candidate. That part of the riding was mostly new homes at that time but you could still see the farmers’ fields that have been built upon since.

The voters were open and friendly. Canvassing there was fun. You learned a lot if you took the time to listen. While my friend lost to the conservative instincts of the older parts of Halton County at that time, I fully expect the area newcomers will be making the decision this election year.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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Di Iorio does district a disservice.

Friday, February 1st, 2019

Nicola Di Iorio M.P. for Saint Leonard-Saint Michel in Montreal has finally resigned his seat in the House of Commons He has been missing from parliament since last September and had been talking about resigning since April before that. By the time, a new Member takes over after the October, 2019 election, the riding will have been without representation for more than a year.

To add insult to injury, Di Iorio says he should be the one choosing the new MP for the electoral district. Instead of having just one vote as the former MP, he thinks he should have the right to choose his successor. He does not think the riding party association should have the right to choose the candidate. He insults his riding people as incompetent to make the decision.

But what if he chooses someone like himself who paid more attention to moonlighting as a labour lawyer than in the job in Ottawa. MPs are now paid $170,000 a year and that is not for a part-time job.

Believe it or not, MPs are not just elected to vote for whatever their party tells them. There are committee meetings, fact-finding missions, responsibilities in the House and answering to constituents that take a great deal of an MP’s time.

And, most important, MPs get to talk about their concerns and their constituent’s concerns in regional and national caucus meetings and party leaders ignore this input at their peril. There are even MPs who take the time to meet with constituents in open meetings in the district to discuss government legislation and get local input.

MPs such as Di Iorio are rarely re-elected. Every voter deserves have a Member of Parliament who listens to his/her concerns. Voting for just the person leading the party is a losers’ game. It is the road that takes us to totalitarianism.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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Politics in anxious times.

Wednesday, January 30th, 2019

If prime minister Justin Trudeau had his druthers, he would not want an election this year. It is simply bad timing. Canadians are anxious. It is not any one thing. The world is just not behaving as it should. Not even the weather is acting as normal. People are concerned. There is that clown in the White House in Washington. You can hardly blame everything on him, even if you would like to.

And what can you count on? The stock market is just perverse. The Brits are stupidly leaving the European Union and do not admit why. The rich are getting richer and the rest of us are getting poorer. And have you seen the price of bread recently?

People are pissed. They are looking for scapegoats. They hardly need another stupid politician to get in their way. Justin Trudeau and his little friends have worked their hearts out for our approval. Sure, they blew a few promises. Yes, you will be using first-past-the-post voting in October. Maybe they did save the North American trade agreement from that terror Trump. Who knows?

But do not ask for the right to die in a frivolous manner. There is more than one way to default on a promise.

The liberals are going to spend the election telling us how well the economy is doing and how much they love the middle class. The opposition are going to tell us, it can be better. The liberals will tell us what a great job they are doing for the environment. The opposition will tell us the environment is just fine, thank you. The liberals want a price on carbon. The opposition will tell you it is just a tax grab.

But why did the liberals buy the Trans Mountain pipeline to ship highly polluting bitumen from Alberta to countries that do not care about pollution?

The liberal cabinet spent an expensive weekend retreat in Quebec recently planning their messaging for the campaign. The message is ‘vote for us and take another selfie with Justin.’


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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First pick a direction.

Sunday, January 27th, 2019

It is ridiculous that people are speculating about the possible leaders of the Ontario liberal party so soon. We do have a choice. And the old adage says, we can decide now and repent at leisure. As we have mentioned before, we first want to figure out where the party is going.

Looking back at the provincial scene, it is hard to say what direction the party was choosing when it chose the leader first. Kathleen Wynne’s background was touted as left wing but quickly proved that, if she had any direction in mind at all, it was liberal socially and conservative economically. The exception was in her last campaign when she opened the left-wing floodgates and confused the voters.

Her predecessor, Dalton McGuinty was an old-time middle-of-the-road liberal who did a good job on schools and protecting the environment but he was very bad in managing people—particularly those in his government’s cabinet.

The only recent liberal premier before that was David Peterson—basically a nice guy who proved to be a neoliberal. While the province was ready for what he offered, he failed to build any rapport with Ontario voters.

What Ontario voters are really looking for in Queen’s Park is a to have a party in power that really is there for the people. This is a government responsible for the delivery of effective Medicare in the province, as well as ensuring that we have schools, colleges and universities that meet our needs for today and tomorrow. It is the level of government that deals with our daily living, our municipalities, our infrastructure (roads and bridges and public transit), our environment and a myriad of services that contribute to our quality of life.

These services require a government that understands that we are individuals with individual needs. We are not a collective. Nor are we necessarily competitive. We are not satisfied with minimal cost services. We want the best services at a reasonable cost. We want to be respected in the delivery of the services in a friendly society.

Real liberals believe in that type of society.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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John McCallum is no diplomat.

Friday, January 25th, 2019

Canada’s ambassador to China never was a diplomat. He is a politician. Maybe he has always been too much of a neoliberal to my taste but he finally did what Justin Trudeau could not. He told the truth about the situation of chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou of Huawei. And he made it public.

As much as it might have been an error to appoint the Markham, Ontario, politician to the ambassadorial post, it certainly paid off when Justin Trudeau and his staff did not seem to understand the political implications of the Huawei executive’s detention and possible extradition to the U.S.

Trudeau was wrong to simply use the argument that Canada is a country of law, conflicting with the Chinese oligarchical system of governance. U.S. president Donald Trump opened a door by saying that the U.S. could use the charge against Weng as leverage in the current China-U.S. trade dispute. For the U.S. to use the case as leverage in a trade dispute could be grounds for a Canadian judge to deny the extradition.

Also, ambassador McCallum mentioned the extraterritorial factors, without elaborating. It is assumed that he was referring to the U.S. lawmakers’ penchant for creating laws that pertain to actions in countries other than the U.S. These are rarely recognized in Canada.

And that is the third factor the ambassador mentioned. He noted that the Iran sanctions on which the case against Huawei is based are not recognized in Canada. John McCallum is not a lawyer but it sounds like he had some good advice from some lawyers before he made his comments.

McCallum can even say he was out of line, later. He is unlikely to want to put that genie back in the bottle.

And when the prime minister goes out of his way to not criticize his former cabinet colleague for going off the approved (?) talking points, one wonders if the entire scenario was not planned carefully? It is certainly possible but I do not think the denizens of the Prime Minister’s Office are that smart.

Bravo John McCallum.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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The dynamics are different.

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2019

When talking about dynamics in politics, we are talking about what will influence the political outcome. And in looking at the upcoming by-elections in three federal electoral districts on February 25, we have to deal with each district as a separate entity.

Reading the tea leaves for the three by-elections is especially important because these will be the last federal by-elections before the general election scheduled for October, this year.

The complexity starts in Burnaby South. The electoral district in Vancouver, B.C. was previously held by Kennedy Stewart of the NDP. Mr. Stewart resigned to run successfully as an independent candidate for Vancouver mayor. He strongly opposes having the Trans Mountain pipeline expanded and coming through the city to transfer diluted bitumen from the Athabasca and Cold Lake tar sands to ocean tankers in Burrard Inlet.

Despite the resignation of the initial liberal candidate, her replacement is a former Speaker of the B.C. Legislature, also of Chinese heritage. With 38 per cent of the district population of Chinese descent, he has the same base as the previous candidate.

If the NDP’s Jagmeet Singh can get out the word forcefully that he opposes the Trans Mountain, he will likely get a lot of help in getting out his vote. Mind you he will have the prime minister and lots of cabinet ministers in the riding smothering the voters with kindness.

Pipelines are of nowhere near the importance in Montreal’s Outremont electoral district. The NDP consider this riding important in that it was former NDP leader Tom Mulcair’s seat. It is also a must-win seat in October for the liberals if they are to hold their majority in parliament.

The third by-election is in Ontario’s York-Simcoe electoral district. The fiefdom of federal conservative Peter Van Loan for the past 14 years, York-Simcoe was a cake-walk for conservative Caroline Mulroney in the recent provincial election. The conservatives could be too confident.

Like all by-elections, the key in all three districts is identifying your voters and getting them out to vote. To do that in February takes far more volunteers than the areas can produce. They will need help from other electoral districts. In by-elections, it is the party with the best ground game that wins.

If the liberals win none of the by-elections, they are in trouble.

If the liberals win just one of the by-elections, it will mean the October election will be hard fought.

If the liberals win two of the by-elections, it means the status quo in October.

And if the liberals win all three of the by-elections, the Toronto Maple Leaf hockey team is also likely to win the Stanley Cup.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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