Posts Tagged ‘NDP’

Where our New Democrats are headed?

Thursday, March 9th, 2017

Now that Canada’s New Democratic Party has some thinking and articulate players running for the national leadership, we better pay some attention. The hope is that Canadians will find out where the former Co-operative Commonwealth Federation—the party of Tommy Douglas—is headed in the 21st Century. The not so subtle nudging we are seeing today is towards something called Democratic Socialism.

But the problem is that few of us understand the term. The current interest in it was launched by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders during the run-up to the American Democratic National Convention of 2016. Bernie used the term to distinguish himself from the elitist control of the Democratic Party by people such as the Clintons. It was Bernie’s energy and enthusiasm that both helped and hindered Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Bernie was a pied piper to the younger Americans who agreed with the vision he presented and the excitement it built. Bernie countered the blandness of the Clinton campaign with ideas and proposals that made sense to the young who were facing an uncertain future once they completed university. America needed these new ideas.

Rhetorical argument abounded in the political science realm over the use of the Democratic Socialist label but who says the Senator did not have the right to establish his own interpretation.

While traditional socialists wanted the control of the means of production to be operated solely for the benefit of society, it would not work in modern society. In today’s Democratic Socialism, the corporations must be required to work for society in a socially responsible manner. The problem is that America’s out of control corporate giants are too bent on creating a tiered society of castes controlled by the one per cent.

What the New Democratic Party needs to do is to finish dumping the airy-fairy LEAP Manifesto and start to define a democratic socialism that could work in the 21st Century. This could be a democratic socialism that recognizes the liberal emphasis on individual rights. The time has long gone when the individual had to submit to a dictatorship of the proletariat.

In Canada, we now have 14 people running for the leadership of the Conservative Party. There seems to be no interesting direction in their presentations. We can only hope that the four NDP leadership candidates now in the field can bring fresh thinking and new ideas to Canadians.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

A liberal look at leadership.

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

Ontario Liberals are finally realizing that there is a problem at Queen’s Park. It appears to be endemic. It affects every political party on the premises. It is the serious lack of leadership. Even the Liberal Party backbenchers are drawing lots to see who will be the Cassius who drives the first (rhetorical) knife in the back of Premier Kathleen Wynne.

Wynne has done what she could. She has been driving a tired and worn-out Liberal horse and buggy for too long. It needs to be refreshed, re-challenged and recharged for the good of the province. It is a party that desperately needs to see a new future.

But the future is not a feature with Wynne. She is a North Toronto right wing reactionary. She won the leadership of the Liberal Party by trickery and manipulation. Her deal with the devil seemed to have been with former Ontario Premier David Peterson and fellow candidate Glen Murray, MPP for the adjoining Toronto electoral district.

Looking at the news media’s selection of possible replacements does not fill our heart with cheer. MPPs such as Eric Hoskins and Charles Sousa could not dump their campaigns fast enough in the last leadership convention to climb aboard the Wynne bandwagon. They were looked after; not the voters.

At the same time, MPPs Steven Del Luca from Vaughan, Yasir Naqvi from Ottawa, Michael Coteau from Toronto (East York) and Mitzie Hunter from Toronto (Scarborough) are all fresher cabinet faces with potential. Each of the them might be able to talk about their vision for Ontario if out from under the oppressive leadership of Kathleen Wynne.

And, do not forget Sandra Pupatello. She is not to be confused with the lacklustre regime of Kathleen Wynne as she was not in the Legislature at the time. She has the experience, the drive and the ideas that could work for us.

In the meantime, Kathleen Wynne is saying that her reduction of costs for electric power will pay political dividends next year. What that remaining time means for this government is more time for the opposition parties to develop their strategies. While few are impressed with the leadership of either party, nobody says Conservative Patrick Brown or New Democrat Andrea Horwath are stupid.

Without concrete and visible action by the Liberals over the next 12 months, they will be going into an election campaign bound and ready for slaughter. The best action might be an entirely new leadership, new direction and new faces on the firing line with the voters.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Is the political middle just one?

Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

Nobody seems to be able to nail down this middle ground in politics. It is like the middle class that Justin Trudeau chased in the last federal election. Did Trudeau even suspect that they would add up to almost 40 per cent of the voters?  And were they all centre-right voters or was there a mix of centre-left voters included?

But somewhere in Canada, there must be that one person who stands squarely in the middle of the political spectrum. Whomever this person might be, could it be another person next week?

And what does this political centre represent? Does it fight to maintain a fully funded Medicare or does it allow the encroachment of for-profit medicine for those who’s money allows them the right to jump the queue? Does this centre encompass environmental standards along with pipelines for tar sand’s bitumen? And how does a centrist government so blindly accept the European trade agreement that was negotiated by a right-wing government?

But does a right of centre government pay out tax money in the form of a child tax benefit? Is this not the same as we used to call a Baby Bonus? And why in the last election did the left-of-centre New Democrats insist on having balanced budgets? Why do these left, right and centrist parties not stay in place to help the voter make a decision?

Yet the truth is that a large part of the Liberal vote in the last federal election came from both the left and right. There was a clear desire across the political spectrum to end the Conservative Party of Canada oligarchy under Stephen Harper. It had run its term. It was tired and needed renewal. It was becoming too mean-spirited and defeated itself.

And we still have no idea whether Canadians expect the Liberal government of Justin Trudeau to rule from the right or the left. As long as the government keeps that ambiguity going, it might keep enough support from both sides to stay in power.

But how far is this government from the ideal of a centrist government? Is it protecting our individual rights and freedoms? Is it addressing the problems connected to our old and creaky constitution or is it wallpapering them? Are its elitist appointments to the Senate and the higher courts just tired solutions of an elitist right? We have chosen a leader but do we know where the hell he is going?

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Where are Ontario politics headed?

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017

There have been some political polls in Ontario recently that have caused a buzz in the news media. If the media had just checked back to before the last provincial election, they would have seen a similar pattern in the public preferences a year before that election. It certainly supports the claim that the only polls that matter are the ones on election day.

But polls can be useful indicators for politicians. There is no question that the current Conservative figures are inflated. The Tories have a leader who is an unknown quantity and every effort is expected to be made to create an acceptable persona for him before the 2018 provincial election.

The current polls are particularly disquieting for the governing Liberals. It is becoming obvious that Premier Wynne’s poor performance just might have dragged the party down to unrecoverable levels. If she had any respect for her party, she would have called for a leadership convention by May of this year to give her replacement time to gain traction with the voters.

It is hard to ignore the New Democrat leader but until she joins a gym and gets the party interested in a future, it has none.

The leader needing the most scrutiny by the voters is the Conservative leader. After using dishonest tactics to steal the party leadership last year, Patrick Brown is still an unknown quantity even to members of the Conservative Party, let alone the voters. Most of the people his organizers signed up as temporary Conservative Party members never knew him.

Brown is a 38-year old bachelor who has spent his entire adult life in politics. His answer to most questions is to tell you what he thinks you want to hear. He has no small talk. He bores women. They are not interested. He is a social conservative and voted against women’s rights when an MP in Ottawa. He has since earned the enmity of social conservatives in Ontario for not openly supporting them.

For people who do care about this province and its citizens, the provincial election coming on June 7, 2018 is worrisome. There is no category appearing on the ballot for ‘None of the above.’ We have to make choices. We need to send the very best person on our ballot to Queen’s Park. We need people who will speak for their constituents. We need people we can respect and who respect us.

Ontario voters will need to think long and hard on this one.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

A better role for NDP’s Nate Cullen.

Sunday, February 5th, 2017

Frankly, it has been disappointing. Nate Cullen MP from British Columbia has been so busy bitching and whining, he is missing the real opportunity. He has the right to complain about what seemed like a wasted summer of 2016 studying vote reform. It was no waste of time; it was the best exposure he has had since being first elected. He can now step up to the bar and accept the leadership of Canada’s New Democratic Party.

And he is allowed to change his mind about that. In the fractious and demoralized New Democratic Party that had just fired Tom Mulcair, he said he did not want the leadership job. Nobody did. They hardly wanted the expensive, frustrating and unrewarding job of trying to bring the party back together. Now the party has to draft Cullen.

What the party knows now is that there never was an Orange Wave. They also know that the Leap Manifesto is as out of date as the original Regina Manifesto. Looking backwards is not meeting the needs of Canadians.

It is not that there is anything basically wrong with Leap but it seems almost defensive. You just cannot put those words to music. They do not show you the possibilities of a better future for Canadians. They fix what is past, not what is future.

Listening to Cullen on the special commons committee on voting reform last summer and fall, he showed an affinity for Canadians that other members of the committee seemed to miss. He outshone the erudite Elizabeth May of the Green Party. They were both on the same path for proportional representation but he made it more real.

While this writer was hardly swayed by Cullen’s support for proportional systems, you had to give him credit for listening to all sides of the argument. You could see some of his words in the all-party committee’s report. He represented his party better than the party deserved.

As much as the NDP needs to modernize its thinking and its policies, what there is, Cullen presents them well. There were times during the 2015 federal election that you wondered where Thomas Mulcair was finding the ideas he was presenting. It was bad enough that some seemed right wing, but there was no logical connection to New Democratic philosophy.

A reader told us in very strong terms a while back that Babel-on-the-Bay has no right to be telling the NDP what to do. It is just that you can get tired of writing about Trump. It is nice to write about a real politician occasionally.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Premier Wynne: Colour her gone.

Monday, January 16th, 2017

It seems more and more likely that Premier Kathleen Wynne and her Ontario Liberals are on the slippery side of the slope. Nothing says it more emphatically than the situation in which we find ourselves here in Babel. (You know Babel as Barrie, Ontario.)

We are less than two years from a tough election situation here in Barrie and there has been no sign of provincial Liberal activity. Normally you would expect some evidence of action. Especially since there needs to be new provincial electoral district associations created by the political parties, you would have expected that to happen by now. You would have expected a candidate search committee to be activated by the Liberals to talk to potential candidates and be sure they are aware of what is required of them.

What makes this doubly important is that this is the riding that PC Leader Patrick Brown has chosen to contest. It is hard to imagine there are many Conservatives with any common sense wanting that nerd representing them at Queen’s Park. He is not a leader. He has nothing to offer the party or the voters. He flip-flops on issues trying to convince people he is on their side—whatever that is. He is incapable of leading the fractious Conservative caucus. He has no direction and would be a serious embarrassment to Ontario if he accidently became Premier.

But the good news is that we can defeat him here in Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte. And when we defeat him, the Ontario Conservatives would have an opportunity to call a new leadership convention—one where Brown and others would not be allowed to cheat. Just think of it: an honest political leadership convention.

And if the election just produced a Liberal minority government, maybe Kathleen Wynne would also take the opportunity to resign. She has not led the Liberals into anything but trouble.

There is no reason that the New Democrats could not take the opportunity to also dump their inept leader Andrea Horwath. She is not leading them anywhere anyway.

Ontario is in a very unusual political situation. It has three major party leaders who all need to be replaced. And then, after getting a chance to assess the results of some new leadership, we could vote again. We might have a chance to get it right.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

The empty chair of Tom Mulcair.

Thursday, December 15th, 2016

In a much condemned political schtick by actor-director Clint Eastwood at the Republican National Convention in 2012, he talked to an empty chair. The chair was supposed to represent President Barack Obama. We always thought it helped get Obama elected to his second term.

We were reminded of it recently when reading an op-ed piece by New Democrat stalwart Robin Sears. Sears was writing about failed promises of Justin Trudeau such as how Canadians vote. Sears would be far more productive at this time if he directed his supposed political smarts on the empty chair of NDP Leader Tom Mulcair.

New Democrat Leader Tom Mulcair is a lame duck. He has been found wanting by his political party and is serving out his term of office. It shows he has more intestinal fortitude and honour than Stephen Harper who could not wait to get out of Ottawa once the voters past judgement.

Unlike the temporary leader of the Conservatives, Rona Ambrose, Mulcair has been doing the opposition job with continued verve and flair. Ambrose only follows the Tory Book. Nobody really listens to her.

But when his time expires, will Tom Mulcair’s chair remain empty? Are there no believers left? Is Canada’s left bereft? Does nobody believe in the LEAP Manifesto? Does it matter?

Canada desperately needs a political party of the left. It hardly needs three on the right. It has always been our hope that the Liberals and New Democrats would combine into a social democratic party. That does not seem to be on Justin Trudeau’s agenda. While such an event would drive many so-called Liberals into the Conservative camp, our betting is that the social democrats would prevail at least through to 2050. And, as the expression goes, we should all live so long!

It was fascinating this past summer watching the New Democrats on the special commons committee on voting reform trying to manoeuver the other parties into supporting a proportional voting system. If they see that as their only hope to get more power in this country, they will be disappointed.

And while there are those who do not like our questioning of the Liberal party and its leadership, it is a small attempt to keep them honest. Robin Sears should direct some of his questioning inward to his own party. New Democrats also need to examine their future.

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Copyright 2016 © Peter Lowry

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

Does Wynne cry for liberalism?

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

Did you hear that Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne got all teary at the Liberal Party gathering this past weekend? Not being there, are we to assume these were crocodile tears or tears of frustration? Or were they just a notation on her script saying ‘tears here’? You never know what her reaction is to being pilloried for the inadequate job she is doing.

But in the spirit of concern for her emotional stability, we will try to be more helpful.

First of all, if you like to have people think of you as a progressive, you have to act like one. This might be difficult for Ms. Wynne but to be a progressive, you have to be an agent for change in our society. And to be a liberal, you have to have concern for the rights of the individual. That means that you have to work at ensuring that the individual has the freedom and opportunity to enjoy the lifestyle that they choose.

We need to take a serious look at this agent for change agenda of yours. When will it start? We agree that the fixes on pensions was overdue and you did a good job of dumping the problem on the federal government. Good show! Now what is next? You have to be more than a one act pony.

How about giving some speed and credibility to your electrifying and speeding up the GO Trains? Or better yet get your friends in Ottawa and Quebec City together for a little brainstorming on high-speed electric trains to give us better and ‘Greener’ travel between our major cities. That just might be the profitable type of infrastructure spending needed to attract that foreign investment.

The point is that there are lots of dramatic and worthwhile opportunities in our society for a progressive government. Nobody other than some of the unions are interested in the self-serving New Democrats. You should start now establishing that the raving Patrick Brown has no better answers on what to do about hydro pricing.

And stop the stupid water torture. If you want grocery stores to sell booze, let them. Stop the damn guessing games about who sells what. You cannot keep trying to be half pregnant. It just looks silly.

And the most important thing for a true liberal today is to make sure that every child in the province has all the education and training readily available to them as their life unfolds. Let the conservatives among us be the repressive bastards if they want that appellation. And we need more universities across the province—not just in Toronto.

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Copyright 2016 © Peter Lowry

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

How far Bill Davis’ party has fallen.

Friday, September 23rd, 2016

We can admit it now but could not when he was Premier of Ontario, Bill Davis is a decent guy. As much as he likes to pose as the bastion of the right, Bill has always liked people and is a caring, compassionate person. If he was much younger and leader of Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives today, Kathleen Wynne and her neo-Liberals could pack their bags.

But Bill Davis’ party has fallen on hard times. The triumvirate of leaders, Harris, Hudak and now Brown have not helped. John Tory, who as a young man attended Bill’s breakfasts at the old Park Plaza Hotel, might have been an exception during his brief stint as Conservative Leader but his timing against Premier ‘Dad’ Dalton McGuinty was bad. And he blew it by going against the hard core right of his own party by offering more support for parochial schools.

The present leader Patrick Brown is causing further splits in the party by denying his roots as a religious right conservative. He has managed to get all factions of the Conservative Party angry with him for his constant flip-flops. He can hardly deny his vote against women’s rights and against same -sex marriage when he was a Member of Parliament. Attending Toronto’s Pride Parade this year only showed what a hypocrite he can be.

Current public opinion polls are useless as no Ontario voters outside of Barrie really know anything about Patrick Brown. And those voters do not know much. Bill Davis must be appalled at the thought of a person such as Brown sitting in his old office at Queen’s Park.

But the more serious problem is that Premier Wynne and her caucus are not doing the job. They lack direction, attention, discretion, determination and intention. They only use half measures when bold steps are needed. They use band aids instead of solutions. They have no discernable leadership or philosophy.

It hardly adds up to anything better than Patrick Brown running Bill Davis’ old party or the New Democrats under the hapless Andrea Horwath.

But as much as Ontario voters might think The Wynne Liberals are less than productive, they have absolutely no idea how bad Brown would be.

When Bill Davis was premier, there was a certain trust that he earned. That would not be what Ontario would get with Brown. Brown is a manipulator with the personality of a nerd. Women tend to lose interest in him very quickly. Men just do not like him. He really does not belong in the same party as former Premier Bill Davis.

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Copyright 2016 © Peter Lowry

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

No guts, no glory, no re-election.

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

Ontario’s Liberals have to stop whistling past the graveyard. That American idiom means that they are ignoring sure destruction. And nothing said it better than the recent rebooting of the Legislature with a joke of a throne speech read by the Lieutenant Governor.

It was no throne speech. It was a stop-gap to oblivion. It put another band aid on electricity rates and solved nothing. The problem quite frankly is that there is no one in the Legislature capable of running this province. There are no leaders. There is no direction.

Does anyone have any idea what Ms. Wynne’s political stance might be? We already know that the Conservative leader will go whatever way he can find some votes. And that silly New Democrat leader is nothing but a nebbish. Welcome to a province where the only option for the voter is to vote for ‘None of the above.’

The only policies we have seen Premier Wynne espouse are the ones she steals from other parties. She takes on the pension problems brought forward by the NDP and then steals their pledge to take the tax off electricity charges. Only—typical of her—she only goes part way. She gets lucky and dumps the pension problem to the Trudeau Liberals and then just gives a tax rebate on run-away electricity charges.

There is nothing any other party can think of that the Premier cannot find a way to handle conservatively. We should not forget the former PC Leader Timmy Hudak took the lead in suggesting liberalizing beer sales until somebody convinced him to turn off that tap.

But what Wynne is doing is ludicrous. She is actually allowing less than ten per cent of the large grocery stores to sell warm six-packs of beer. Not in this town though. The only place to buy beer downtown in this writer’s city of more than 135,000 is the province’s most disgusting beer store.

And the other day, Kathleen Wynne announced her ‘Liberal’ stalwarts to run the 2018 Liberal election effort. If these are the same Pat Sorbara and Vince Borg who wandered the halls at Queen’s Park some 30 years ago, we will not get our hopes up.

One of these days Ontario might finally have a government of grown-ups that will realize that selling off how you distribute electricity is a no-no and selling off the Liquor Control Board stores is the golden goose that can continue to pay off in gold.

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Copyright 2016 © Peter Lowry

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