Posts Tagged ‘NDP’

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.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

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.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Singing Singh a sad song.

Wednesday, January 9th, 2019

It is understandable to hear that Canadian new democrat supporters are being told to “Singh or swim.” If they have not thought about it before now, time is running out on them. And when a left-wing apologist such as Thomas Walkom writes about Singh in a despondent tone, as though the NDP leader might just be early road kill on the Yellow Brick Road to the fall election.

It hardly seems to matter when prime minister Trudeau decides to call the by-election in Burnaby South. Even if Jagmeet Singh does make a ceremonial bow in the House of Commons, what good can it do him?

It might not be his fault but his timing is so bad. It is a time when populists both in Canada and the United States are pumping up the anti-immigrant bigotry. It can hardly do him or his party any good. Much of the anti-immigrant rhetoric might be against Muslims but the ignorant who listen to that crap are hardly expected to know the difference between Muslims and Sikhs

At a time when the American president is running a diatribe for a wall against immigrants and the Canadian opposition leader is railing about our porous border, the NDP leader is a poster boy for immigration. That might be a bespoke suit from Harry Rosen’s that he is wearing but the accessories are what are known as the Five Ks of Sikhism as ordered by the Tenth Guru Gobind Singh in 1699.

Nobody wants to be honest about this but Singh would never have won the leadership of the NDP if he had not encouraged fellow Sikhs in Canada to join the NDP and vote for him. The very large number of Sikhs in British Columbia and Ontario put him over the top. The only problem is those numbers pale when compared to the total voter population of Canada.

It was as simple as Patrick Brown, the disgraced former leader of Ontario’s conservatives, winning the mayoralty of Brampton. Brampton was where Jagmeet Singh held his seat in the Ontario legislature. All Brown did was promise the very large Sikh population in the area that he would greatly expand the number of parks with cricket pitches. They think that Brown will make Brampton the cricket capital of Canada. Sikhs do so love the game of cricket.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

“We’re off to see the Wizard”

Tuesday, January 1st, 2019

Canadians will face many adventures as they whistle their way down the Yellow Brick Road in 2019. They can travel hand in paw with Dorothy, Toto and their companions. It will not be the predictable adventures with witches and wizards as in L Frank Baum’s book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

The first problem is that not all Canadians are pleased with the choice between Scarecrow – Jagmeet Singh, Tin Woodman – Andrew Scheer and Cowardly Lion – Justin Trudeau. Many voters want change for the sake of change. They might not relish the turmoil that attitude can bring but they will take their chances.

After all, Jagmeet Singh is a leader without a united party or any real policies or commitments behind him. He took the leadership by the swamping of his party’s memberships in Ontario and B.C.  with his co-religionists. His risk is that few Canadians understand his religion and it makes him different. He is the scarecrow who scares birds and voters.

Conservative voters might feel a tin woodsman such as Andrew Scheer will bore more voters than he can win over. And a cowardly lion, despite his supposed liberalism, will likely have less appeal than in 2015. Both are conflicted on the environment and on pipelines. There are no more sunny days.

Maybe this is the year for one of the new parties. It happened in Quebec in 2018. And Doug Ford went from former city councillor to premier in Ontario in less than six months last year. Can we expect some similar surprises are in store for us in 2019?

Who knows? Jason Kenny might not be able to oust Rachel Notley in Alberta and might try for a triumphant return to Ottawa.

But what about all those social conservative diehards who supported Quebec MP Maxime Bernier in the last conservative leadership? Is his new People’s Party of Canada to be ignored?

And what about everyone’s perennial favourite with her caucus of one, Elizabeth May? Could she gather four or five Green MPs to help her?

Canadians will have to wait until October this year for the answers.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Down the Yellow Brick Road in 2019.

Friday, December 28th, 2018

We have a long journey before we arrive at the Land of Oz. We have much to ask of just one small wizard. When L. Frank Baum wrote The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (published in 1900), he had no idea how appropriate it is to the Canadian election slated for October 2019.

Canadians will have Dorothy and Toto to lead the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman and Cowardly Lion in their journey down the Yellow Brick Road to the Land of Oz. You might know them by other names but the Scarecrow is new democratic leader Jagmeet Singh, the Tin Woodman is conservative leader Andrew Scheer and the Cowardly Lion is liberal prime minister Justin Trudeau.

At the Land of Oz, they hope to ask the Wizard to send Dorothy and Toto back home to Kansas, to provide Jagmeet Singh with ‘bran-new’ brains, Andrew Scheer with a ’heart’ and the prime minister with a potion of ‘courage.’

There is no question but Jagmeet Singh needs additional brains to reconsider his foolish way of winning the leadership of his party. He has proved that the Sikh community in Canada will support him but he has a long way to go to convince the rest of Canada to follow him.

Andrew Scheer needs to understand that conservatism can have a ‘heart.’ He tries so hard to show conservatives that he is on their side that he fails to lead and to show them that conservatism can also have the empathy that makes for effective leadership.

And then there is the prime minister who only needs the courage to do the job even better than the way his father did it. Justin Trudeau has to have the courage to stand up to world leaders and represent Canada as its people deserve to be represented. Visits to foreign lands are not a dress-up event but an important opportunity to carry Canada’s messages of world peace, of environmental concern and of acceptance of all peoples.

In a country yearning for leadership, all political parties are failing us if they do not see where we want them to lead. We are not a country of ideologues but a country of caring. We have family ties around the world and we fail those peoples if we do not show the world leadership of which our country is capable.

We will see how our politicians handle themselves in the coming year as we travel with them down the Yellow Brick Road.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Hold your bets on the 2019 election.

Tuesday, December 18th, 2018

Got a call from a call centre the other day looking for funds for prime minister Trudeau’s liberals. It is likely that they have to push harder these days. It is also unlikely that the conservatives are having it all that easy to get money to support ‘Chuckles’ Scheer’s conservatives. At a time when we are all supposed to have warm and fuzzy feelings for our fellow Canadians, these are not giving times. And while the consensus might be that Trudeau will win, nobody wants to put much money on his liberals.

The question of Justin Trudeau’s worth as prime minister is serious. Watching Trudeau with his bad speaking habits of a school teacher hemming and hawing his way through another lesson for a raucous opposition does not build your confidence. And for him to lecture the Chinese that Canada is a country that is ruled by law just shows us that he does not understand the Chinese. And we gave up with him sometime ago waiting for him to tell Donald Trump to get stuffed.

Oh well, maybe his feminine side does not allow him to be blunt with the American president. You can call the new NAFTA ‘breakfast’ for all anybody cares—just make sure it is a fair deal and Trump stops screwing us with tariffs.

At this point, we really need to say something about Andrew Scheer. ‘Chuckles’ has been doing his thing in Ottawa for a long time now and nobody really cares. People give money to the conservatives because they believe they should. The only problem is that more of that money is going to start going to Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party. By the election time next year, the frustration with ‘Chuckles’ is going to eat away 10 to 15 per cent of the conservative vote and the Tories are going to lose some ridings to other parties. Oh well, their next leader will be tougher!

The new democrats were saved for last, only because they will be. Jagmeet Singh probably has the support of enough South Asian immigrants in the Burnaby South by-election to beat the Green Party candidate. The only problem is that if the liberals can get out their vote, Singh is in trouble and many new democrats will be pleased. If Singh wins the by-election, the NDP is in trouble. It’s a ‘Catch-22.’

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Singing a sad song for Singh.

Wednesday, December 5th, 2018

What is the world coming to? Here we have a die-hard conservative such as Jaime Watt in Toronto commiserating with the new democrats over the bad choices of NDP leader Jagmeet Singh. Watt was telling us in a Toronto Star opinion piece that he was expecting liberal MP Rag Grewal to actually resign when he said he would last week and thought that might be a better seat for Singh to swing. Which only goes to show us that Watt might not understand liberals or new democrats.

First of all, Mr. Grewal tells us he is a gambler. And obviously, he is not a very lucky one. Almost a year more of drawing an MP’s salary could be a practical consideration for him. He might decide not to resign.

And despite Mr. Watt’s cavalier dismissal of Jagmeet’s commitment to the Burnaby South electoral district out in British Columbia, he might not want to appear fickle. Plus, scurrying back to Brampton would be a sign of weakness.

And, frankly, Jagmeet’s strongest opponent in Burnaby might be the Green Party candidate. The conservatives and the liberals are both committed to the twinning of the Trans Mountain pipeline and Burnaby voters might have some suggestions as to where they can stuff their pipeline and the diluted bitumen it is planned to carry.

Mind you, it is not quite clear why Mr. Watt would be so concerned about the collapse of the new democrat leadership as the 2019 election looms. It would almost seem that he is concerned that without a strong NDP presence next fall, that the liberals will gather to themselves much more of the progressive vote.

Maybe Mr. Watt should be more concerned about the inroads into the far-right vote of the conservatives by Maxime Bernier and his People’s Party of Canada.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Complacency is Justin Trudeau’s enemy.

Monday, December 3rd, 2018

With a federal election ten months away, we can ignore all polls. They tell us little. It reminds me of the first party campaign in which I was involved. It was in 1964. My friend Charles Templeton was working for the Toronto Star and agreed when I and others asked him to make the jump into provincial politics to enter the contest to choose a new leader for the Ontario Liberal Party.

Along with the work we were doing at the time on the province-wide leadership campaign, we were advised to show some electoral strength by running in a by-election in Toronto-Broadview. It had been liberal but the main opponent was the new democrat. To this day, I remember the statement an old hand made to the candidate early on election day: “Chuck, you have run a strong, traditional campaign. Now it is up to the voters.” We lost and I made a vow to never again take part in a traditional campaign.

Campaigns are about the images created by candidates and leaders. They are about the concerns and hopes of the voters. The winning campaign in that by-election matched the concerns and hopes of the voters with their party’s direction.

And I think that will be Justin Trudeau’s failure next fall. In 2015, the liberals offered the change that the voters wanted. They can hardly offer the same change in 2019.

What Trudeau desperately needs to run on is a coherent vision of Canada’s future. His feminism has become annoying. His dress-up trip to India was an embarrassment. He has not stood up to Donald Trump. What are the benefits to Canadians of all these meetings with world leaders? And why is an environmentalist buying an old pipeline to move that stuff from the Alberta tar sands to ocean tankers?

Justin Trudeau can hardly count on the weakness of his opposition. Both the conservative’s Andrew Scheer and the new democrat’s Jagmeet Singh might be hard to visualize in the prime minister’s office but we have been surprised before.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Singh sings a sorrowful song.

Friday, November 2nd, 2018

New democrat leader Jagmeet Singh is not getting too much respect these days. And when he is not getting much respect from his own party; there is no reason for him to expect more from Justin Trudeau. The liberal prime minister had to call a by-election in Ontario the other day because time had run out. He did not call any of the three upcoming by-elections that he can leave to March.

But, for whatever reason Singh is now feeling pressured to get into the House of Commons, Trudeau is in no hurry to accommodate him.

When Singh swamped his party’s membership in 2017 with Sikh memberships to take the leadership, he seemed in no hurry to win a seat in the House. His agenda seemed to be a leisurely series of travels across the country to press the flesh and introduce himself—and also to get married. His only action of note in Ottawa was to remove one of his MPs, Erin Weir of Saskatchewan, from the party caucus for accusations of harassment.

Instead of looking like a fair and determined leader, Singh came out of it looking like he had been used.

The MP has claimed that the harassment charges were used against him as a form of political retaliation.

This leaves sad-sack Singh sitting on the sidelines in Ottawa and not feeling the love from his own party let alone the government party and Her Majesty’s loyal opposition.

At best, if he could get elected in the Spring, Singh could anticipate only as much as four to six weeks in the House before the summer recess. The phony election campaign will sputter along at the summer barbeques before the real election being called in September.

And if Singh is worried about any more problems being caused by the liberal prime minister, he should worry about there not being a liberal running against him in the by-election in Burnaby South. If the liberals bow out of that by-election, the conservatives will slice and dice Singh and he will be a lame duck trying to save the party from a complete wipe-out in all but a few electoral districts in the fall.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

The sinking ship Singh.

Sunday, October 7th, 2018

Taking a positive stance when your chief of staff quits, can be delaying the inevitable. It happened to federal new democrat leader Jagmeet Singh the other day and all he could do was gain a little time. The truth was that the federal NDP needed to keep his chief-of-staff and dump Singh.

But Singh must first understand the difficulty of his position.

Canada has been welcoming to Sikh immigrants since the 1800s. As Canadians, Sikhs have joined professions, academia and created new businesses. They are industrious and care about how we govern ourselves. They know that ‘raghead’ is not a sobriquet but they hear little of that ignorant racism in a society of so many newcomers.

But it does tend to encourage clustering. Living near others who attend the same temple is a reassurance in a land far from that of your childhood. There is a defiance to be seen among the observant of the second and third generations of Canadian Sikhs. Nobody cares very much if the observant and their 5-Ks want to stand out in our secular society. It is their choice and nobody need criticize.

But—and there is always a ‘but’—there are barriers that it can create. Jagmeet Singh has the same opportunity for election as prime minister as a Muslim woman in a burqa or a Hasidic with his dreadlocks. You can hardly expect the bulk of society to understand the why of these differences. They are seen as barriers to wide acceptance.

And that was what Jagmeet Singh did not understand when he encouraged the Sikh communities in Canada to swamp the membership of the NDP and win him the party leadership. What he did not understand was that he could easily count on his fellow Sikh Canadians to support him but it was his acceptance by Canadians of all backgrounds that was the critical test.

There is much to admire in the character of the man who has worked tirelessly over the past year to lead his party forward. The problem is that he has not been in the commons where he could be seen as a leader. Donations to the party have fallen off in a time when reserves are needed.

Fleeing to British Columbia to find a possibly safe seat for a by-election could be the final mistake.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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