Posts Tagged ‘NDP’

Will Singh say something serious?

Tuesday, October 17th, 2017

With a new party leader established and MP Charlie Angus taking over the New Democratic Party house leadership, and Thomas Mulcair retiring, the new leader, Jagmeet Singh, is free to roam the country. He can meet Canadians everywhere and press the flesh at local labour halls. The only question is what the heck he is going to talk about?

The media will soon tire of repeated pictures of Singh with school children looking wide-eyed at his turban and beard though he would be unlikely to show off those little knives (kirpan) an observant Sikh carries. He is hardly a missionary for Sihkism and his objective is to be accepted as a Canadian politician and to sell his party and its policies.

The NDP has an extensive songbook of declared policies collected over the years but Singh’s audiences will soon tire of those old chestnuts. He is also unlikely to get very far in relating any of his experience in the Ontario Legislature. He never did very much in his role as an MPP nor did he do much in his role as deputy leader of the provincial party.

But he can hardly stand in front of audiences of local NDP supporters in his expensive suits and tell them he will lead them to the promised land.

He has a party that mostly buys clothes at Mark’s Work Warehouse. They thought the party reached Nirvana when Jack Layton’s French hit it off with Quebec voters. (Why the party thought Tom Mulcair in his three-piece suits could do the same job for them still remains a puzzle,)

Singh is trying to emulate Justin Trudeau’s time spent on the road before the 2015 election,  even though the Liberal leader was already a sitting Member of Parliament. As the third party in the Commons, the party leader has a hard time getting face time with the media anyway.

Trudeau had a stock of crowd pleasing speeches about the middle class that carried him as he swung back and forth across Canada. If he is honest with himself, Singh will be flying back and forth from Toronto and Vancouver to invest the most productive time building on those market bases. The only problem is that those are also Justin Trudeau’s key markets. It promises to be a very interesting election in 2019.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

It’s like a long race on turf.

Monday, October 16th, 2017

The next Ontario general election is scheduled to be held June 7, 2018. This race will be like a mile and a half on the turf track and requires horses with great endurance and energy. That makes it the time for the old and tired to retire. And that is what is happening with all parties at Queen’s Park.

As the largest party among the incumbents, the Liberals are expected to have the highest turnover.  The noisiest of the changes are among the contested nominations for the Progressive Conservative Party. The quiet changes are among the New Democratic Party which has already lost its deputy leader because he knew this branch of the party is going nowhere.

There is no question that the Queen’s Park Liberals need turnover. After 14 years in power, the party has promises to keep, legacies to earn. Neither Toronto’s Brad Duguid nor Glen Murray will be missed in cabinet or in Ontario politics. Nor do the Liberals need to keep dragging the anchor of Deb Matthews from London. The older Liz Sandals will be missed though for the calming and knowledge she brought to the education portfolio.

The conflict for Premier Wynne is that she needs to hold on to every MPP in her caucus who looks like he or she can hold their riding. There are no guarantees with the shake up in electoral district boundaries. And there is always lots of time after an election for recriminations.

Sure, Wynne should have resigned in the past year and given a new, younger leader a chance. There is no more time for that speculation. Win or lose, Wynne is what the Liberals have to offer. Hopefully there will be a comer among the younger Liberal MPPs.

But like the last election, Wynne’s strengths are experience, position and the lack of effective opposition. Not that the Conservatives are not going to continue to tear at her like a pack of wild dogs. She is no fool and she is street smart. They have no idea of what will bring her down.

If this were a turf contest at Woodbine Racetrack, none of the party leaders would be leading the pack. None of the three are good for the distance. The voters want better and deserve better.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Singing Singh’s song.

Wednesday, October 11th, 2017

On Thanksgiving, the Toronto Star devoted several thousand well chosen words to welcoming Jagmeet Singh as leader of the federal New Democratic Party. It was generous, surprisingly inaccurate, hopeful and gracious article. Jagmeet Singh could never be such a wonderful Sir Galahad.

Much was made of the firsts Singh’s success represents. As the first turbaned Sikh to lead a major political party, the point is made. To say that Sikhs have come a long way in Canada is to put it mildly. Though we should note that Canada has a long record of racial discrimination and while it embarrasses us today, we cannot hide from history.

The writers point to the 1914 Komagata Maru incident in Burrard Harbour as a major demonstration of the racism involved when the government stopped Sikhs and others from British India from landing in Canada. The fact that 25 years later the Canadian government told the desperate Jewish travellers on the S.S. St. Louis to return to Germany and death under the Nazis shows that we do not end racism all that quickly.

It would be silly to quibble over statistics used by the writers but after a thorough search of on-line information from Statistics Canada, we still cannot figure out where they got the figure of 750,000 Sikhs in Canada. At most there could be about 475,000 from the surges of heavier immigration brought on by the extreme tribal violence in India after the 1984 assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards.

But the two writers are obviously not Sikh. Haroon Siddiqi is Muslim and well known as a Toronto Star writer. Alok Mukherjee is a former chair of the Toronto Police Services Board.

The point that they seem to have missed in this entire exercise was that Jagmeet Singh was not the choice of the New Democratic Party. He swamped the membership of the NDP with more than 45,000 sign-ups, mostly from the Sikh communities across Canada. This is not the act of a person who respects democracy. This is the act of a man with his own agenda.

Why Singh would go the same route as that despicable Patrick Brown who swamped the membership of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives with sign-ups from the Indian Sub-Continent, makes little sense? Singh knows that his turban and beard will be a barrier to easy acceptance. He has a tough road ahead of him.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

“Nice suits and empty slogans.”

Saturday, October 7th, 2017

That comment about suits and slogans was in the last line of the Toronto Star’s pompous editorial on “The challenge for Singh.” The newspaper editorialists want Singh and Trudeau to square off on progressive policy issues in the 2019 federal election. Lot’s of luck on that!

But the problem is that the Star writers think that Jagmeet Singh was selected by the New Democratic Party. That is a mistaken belief. The Ontario MPP was the choice of the Sikh community across Canada. Canada has been welcoming Sikhs to this country since the earliest government records were kept back in the 1800s. StatsCanada tells us there are more than 275,000 adherents to Sikhism in Canada today and the largest numbers are in British Columbia. For the Brampton MPP to sign up over 40,000 Sikhs in a few months was not a very difficult feat.

But why he would want to win the NDP leadership the same way as that putz Patrick Brown took over the Tory leadership in Ontario makes no sense.

As the new leader of the NDP, Singh’s first job is to make nice with the NDP caucus in Ottawa and then he has to get out to small town Canada and prove to Canadians that he and his party have a vision of this country that can be delivered by a guy in a turban.

And it also might be a good idea for Singh to stop dressing as though he is some sort of playboy. He should change from Harry Rosen bespoke suits to buying his clothes at Mark’s Work Warehouse. He needs to show that he is an NDPer, not a Liberal.

When he gets around to working out a program of NDP policies for the coming election, he can forget wrapping the packages in “love and courage.” Whatever theme his brain trust comes up with, it has got to have a lot more bite to it.

‘Chuckles’ Scheer and his Conservatives are all smiles these days because of the vision of Trudeau and Singh in the coming election beating each other up over the same ridings in the greater Toronto and Vancouver areas.

But I got the impression that the Star’s editorial writers might never have seen Jagmeet Singh MPP in inaction at the legislature in Toronto’s Queen’s Park. He is no Benjamin Disraeli.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

The problem for political pundits.

Monday, October 2nd, 2017

While waiting to hear the New Democratic Party leadership tallies yesterday, I was reading what Mainstreet Technology’s Quito Magi had to say about the race. Having worked with Quito in the past, I have often had the feeling that he should forego all this technology and make an arrangement with a healthy young groundhog, to help him with his political forecasts.

To his obvious embarrassment, I once got Quito to pay off an election bet in front of witnesses. He had all his company’s automated telephone calls responses and analysis and all I had was some doors I had knocked on with the candidate. We both agreed that our candidate would win easily but Quito made a rookie mistake about the fringe candidates in the race. When I gave him an estimate of their vote, he bet I was wrong. It cost him ten bucks.

And if he had checked with me recently, I could have saved him some embarrassment on forecasting that it could take three ballots for MPP Jagmeet Singh to win the federal NDP leadership. That was an interesting scenario he forecast but it showed a lack of experience with the Sikh communities in Canada. When Sikh voters offer their support for a candidate, they usually prove to be more reliable than the average voter.

The member of the Ontario Legislature had swamped the membership of the NDP with about 47,000 new sign-ups, mainly among the Sikh communities across Canada. It resulted in more than 35,000 winning votes to a combined total vote for his three opponents of just over 30,000.

It was particularly important once the results were announced on Sunday, to see the Ontario MPP go into full political mode to try to repair some of the disappointment of his opponents and their supporters. MP Charlie Angus looked particularly pained by his showing. He really thought he could do better than 12,700 votes. MP Niki Ashton was about 1400 votes behind and MP Guy Caron came last at just over 6100 votes.

The results of this race speak volumes about the state of politics in Canada. It is cynical and sad that people so disrespect our political process that they will attempt to crush opposition to the honours and position they think they deserve by mass sign ups of groups of ethnic supporters.

This was not a contest of ideas and suitability to the task ahead. This is the decision of a single community—a single ethnic group. Singh offered no new ideas, no new style of leadership. He was the choice of his own community. It was not a win for Canada.

Maybe we are heading down a similar antidemocratic path as our American neighbours.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

What ‘New’ Democratic Party?

Tuesday, September 19th, 2017

We are hearing that ‘Love is in the air’ and the New Democratic Party of Canada is facing the future to the beat of new drums. Everyone anticipates that this new day will start with the election of the new leader of the party. And if you believe all this guff, I have a fine piece of swampland in the Ontario north in which you might want to invest.

The first part of all this B.S. is the news media believing the NDP is a social democratic party. That is further from the facts that any human can throw. When the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) was founded by Tommy Douglas and J.S. Woodsworth in 1932, it was a socialist party with agrarian roots.

In 1961, the CCF became the base of the New Democratic Party (NDP). It was a deal made with the Canadian Labour Congress and the party structure was committed to organized labour. It was and still is a party of labour. That is not the basis for social democracy. Labour can best be described as organized collectivism. It is a mutual protective society. It is rarely interested in the overall concerns of its society—other than when it affects them.

Social democrats are people who can work within a democratic structure to effect reforms. They are progressives who want to build a better future for their society. They recognize the rights of the individual ahead of the collective. They build on human excellence.

But who among the four candidates really understands this need for a social democratic party? Who is the progressive? And who can lead?

Listening to the four candidates on Sunday in Hamilton it was obvious that Guy Caron was the thinker. The Quebec MP had the positions that he felt the party should take. What he could not demonstrate was the leadership the party needs.

Charlie Angus was up to the challenge. The Northern Ontario MP showed his empathy for the long-time party members who want to help define where the party is going. He was the only one to note the need to keep the faith with seniors and promised to advocate for them.

Niki Ashton was also in good form. The Manitoba MP showed that she was the last true prairie socialist and she stuck to her guns.

The newcomer Jagmeet Singh showed up with his drummers. The Ontario MPP brought some showmanship to the event.

What nobody brought was a future for Canada’s New Democrats.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Canada’s NDP: In the eye of the storm.

Friday, September 15th, 2017

It is that period of calm before all hell breaks loose. Everything you could have done, has been done. Everything you have set in motion is now in motion. You are waiting for the results. You cannot sleep. All possible scenarios seem to slip unwished for into your mind. You are waiting for the decision of the voters.

Everyone in politics has been there but never as serious as the candidates for the leadership of a political party. This month it is the New Democratic Party’s turn. Voting starts in a few days. The answer will likely be announced on October 1.

This is one of those simple votes. One member is one vote. Easy to understand and easy to do and easy to count.

Well, maybe.

The only thing that confuses people is the ballot. It follows the recent Conservative Party ballot that caused a lot of questions afterwards. They tell us that the printed ballot allows people to show their first, second, third and fourth choice. And, in theory, people can change their mind between ballots—if they are voting on line.

But whether a second vote will be needed is debateable. When you have reason to expect Jagmeet Singh could have over 50 per cent of the votes on the first ballot, there might be no reason for any further counting.

It could certainly produce a lot of Google searches on Sikhism. It is not a well-known religion and frankly there is not that much to go on unless you can read Punjabi. Sikhs have ten gurus, quite a few saints and five centuries of history. It does make for interesting reading.

While Charlie Angus M.P. will make a very good showing, his total vote combined with the votes of Niki Ashton M.P. and Guy Caron M.P. might not be able to match the total vote for Singh.

And whether Jagmeet Singh can be expected to lead Canada’s NDP anywhere is a question best answered after the ballots are counted.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

 

Hébert hails the Hair.

Sunday, September 10th, 2017

It is unlikely that many of political commentator Chantal Hébert’s fans read her Toronto Star columns for the humour. It is only occasionally that she writes with her tongue firmly in cheek. If you missed her most recent column, you missed a gem. She actually wrote of how the Hair (Stephen Harper) saved Canada from Quebec separatism. The joke was only softened by her giving credit for the suggestion to Harper’s former aide Carl Vallée, writing in L’actualité magazine.

It is hard to believe that the 2015 federal election was anything more than Quebec making common cause with the rest of Canada to get rid of Harper and his government. Nor was it much other than Tom Mulcair getting all flustered about niqabs and forgetting the NDP had any policies that washed out Quebec’s Orange Wave.

While there is a vestigial bigotry in Quebec that can be annoying at times, it’s use by Pauline Marois backfired on her and the Parti Québécois. Harper might have made note for his future, fictional, autobiography but he made no public comment at the time.

The simple facts are that the Parti Québécois spent the second half of the Hair’s regime in Ottawa finding its own way to perdition. When the separatist party chose Pierre Karl Péladeau as leader in 2015, we figured that was it for the dreams of René Lévesque. A millionaire, a confirmed union buster and a political dilettante, Péladeau was anathema to anything Lévesque had stood for.

At the same time, the Bloc Québécois became a non-party in the House of Commons and of no use to Quebec separatists. That more than anything else has spelled the lack of enthusiasm today for Quebec separatism.

What Vallée is telling us, Hébert says, is that Harper redirected Quebec attention to a left-right dialogue instead of a go-stay argument. While there is merit to that idea, it could hardly benefit Harper. In fact, it is hardly likely that it was deliberate.

When Babel-on-the-Bay saw which way the wind was blowing in Quebec, we put all our bets on a Liberal majority government in 2015. The simple facts were that Harper was the architect of nothing. He was a spent force.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

The Globe and Mail’s Ibbitson flunks math?

Saturday, September 9th, 2017

Reading a recent column by the Globe’s John Ibbitson, I was a little confused by his logic but I was even more concerned about his mathematics. He was forecasting a win by Quebec M.P. Guy Caron in the New Democratic Party leadership voting later this month. He very wisely gave all the credit for the logic attached to this to former NDP president Brian Topp. Maybe both gentlemen need to recheck their mathematics.

There is simply very little chance that Guy Caron will be anywhere but last on the first ballot. If there is a second ballot, we can only assume that it is Mr. Caron’s name that will be left off.

The facts are the party has announced more than 80,000 new memberships came in during the six months before the August cut-off for memberships. These memberships, we are told, came mainly from British Columbia and Ontario. And M.P.P. Jagmeet Singh’s campaign claims credit for 47,000 of those memberships. I think they are being modest.

This is the same situation as caused by Ontario Conservative leadership candidate Patrick Brown two years ago when he swamped the Tories’ provincial membership with temporary memberships, mainly from India.

Despite the problems Brown might have created for himself in winning any trust from long-time Ontario Conservatives, Jagmeet Singh has even more difficulties winning over long-time NDPers. With the joint federal provincial memberships in the party and the voting rights of labour, he cannot hope for a truly loyal party at his back across the country.

But the Sikh communities across Canada are very proud of Jagmeet Singh. My childhood in Toronto was something of an advanced course in studying ethnic characteristics among newcomers to Canada. And if there is one thing I learned about Sikhs, it is that their word is something you are inclined to trust. They are consistent and they are determined. If the Singh campaign says that their sign-ups are 47,000, I expect that more than 40,000 votes will be cast for Jagmeet Singh for NDP leader later this month. If his three competitors combined, get as many votes, this long-time political observer will be a bit surprised.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

The Morning Line: Canada’s NDP Leadership

Friday, September 1st, 2017

Our best advice to the New Democratic Party is that they forget the next Federal election and concentrate on finding a modern direction for their party. And we have no idea whose membership numbers we were looking at when we assumed that the NDP had closer to 200,000 members in 2016. With the party growing from about just 40,000 to 124,000 from March to August 2017, with members concentrated in British Columbia and Ontario, there is little need for a Morning Line to tell you the prospects for the current leadership contest. The party could end up wishing it had kept Thomas Mulcair.

Charlie Angus M.P. – 4 to 1

More than any other contestant, Charlie Angus, the M.P. from Northern Ontario typifies the New Democratic Party and its ideals. He could wear the mantles of Tommy Douglas and Jack Layton with the swagger of a union brawler. He is the most in tune with the Canadian voter. He could take the party to its next logical step.

Niki Ashton M.P. – 6 to 1

This Manitoban is a hard-working campaigner and an even stronger feminist. She was the newcomer in the 2012 leadership race that was won by Tom Mulcair. In that race she got less than six per cent of the votes. She was going to do much better this time, until Jagmeet Singh came into the picture.

Guy Caron M.P. – 11 to 1

Every good leadership campaign requires a thinker and in this one, it is Quebec M.P. Guy Caron. His ideas on taxation, his start on a guaranteed income plan and his approach to international trade are all helpful. His party should start listening to his policy ideas. It will not have him as leader though with the small vote base that his Quebec constituency gives him.

Jagmeet Singh M.P.P. – 2 to 1

The NDP has been forced to admit that the party’s membership was at a low of 40,000 until March of this year. It has increased threefold in the past six months and there is only one candidate who could have caused that surge. While a diligent member of the Ontario Legislature, Jagmeet Singh has demonstrated few, if any, leadership qualities. As deputy leader in Ontario, there seems to be a dearth of ideas from him and his leader. There is no doubt though that he is a favourite of the Sikh communities in Ontario and British Columbia.

But before Justin Trudeau and his Liberals think that the NDP’s choice could be a Liberal gain, they could be very wrong. While a Sikh leader might not have the appeal in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan or Chicoutimi, P.Q. he could cut a broad swath of support through the B.C. mainland and the Greater Toronto Area in Ontario. The Conservative’s ‘Chuckles’ Scheer must be chuckling.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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