Posts Tagged ‘NDP’

Rachel wants you on her side.

Saturday, November 25th, 2017

Do you feel threatened by Alberta Premier Rachel Notley? It seems the lady can scare anyone who gets in her way. Right now, she is in a rage against people who think pipelines for bitumen are bad for the environment. You either ride the bitumen bus with Rachel or she might throw you under it.

You almost feel sorry for Conservative fixer and party leader Jason Kenney who thinks his new united conservatives are going to take over Dodge. Kenney and Notley remind us of that old Bob Hope/Dorothy Lamour movie Buttons and Bows. Remember that old song: “Don’t bury me in this Prairie. Take me where the cement grows.”

Notley is hardly insensitive to the environmental concerns but wants them put on the back burner until her province’s tar sands exploiters can get some money for their stuff that can be turned into ersatz oil.

But if those people trying to turn a buck out of the tar sands are expecting crude oil to go back to selling at $100 a barrel, they might have a long wait.

And even if the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline eventually gets finished down to the Texas Gulf ports, there will be no profit for Alberta in whatever bitumen that gets shipped to countries that do not care about the extreme pollution levels.

Notley has been selling anyone who will listen on the federally approved Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain twinned pipelines for bitumen. Her pitch is that partisan blinders are getting in the way. She believes that environmental protection cannot come before jobs for people.

And yet she tries to get Conservatives in Ottawa and back home in Alberta to understand that climate change is real. At the same time, she is encouraging Justin Trudeau to get his troops to stand up for Alberta. So far, the only people applauding that suggestion are the Conservatives.

Notley’s new federal leader is proving to be as big a problem as the British Columbia NDP. She tells federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh that his interference in the pipeline question is irrelevant and that he needs to stick to future concerns of the party.

One day, Notley is going to notice that she is the only one making all these foolish claims. It is about time for her to find better pursuits for Alberta capitalists than trying to cash in on coal and bitumen that are better off left in the ground.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Longingly looking for liberalism.

Friday, November 24th, 2017

A correspondent from British Columbia recently asked “What is a Liberal party bereft of liberalism?” He was, of course, describing the situation today where the Conservative parties are moving farther and farther to the harshest right, Liberals are the new Conservative-Light and the New Democrats are lost in a confused and undetermined world of the centre-left.

It is a situation desperately in need of new definition and new alliances. What we appear to have is our political structures moving further and further away from their mobs. And contrary to the limited perceptions of our putative leaders, they are driving their natural supporters away.

Look around the world or even here at home. There is political insecurity as voters wrestle with their frustrations. They want something different but are finding it difficult to articulate. Some leaders are connecting; We are thinking of Emmanuel Macron in France, Bernie Sanders in the U.S.A. while on the other hand we have Trump in the U.S. and the rise of the far right in Europe.

The resilience of Donald Trump’s support is surprising pundits. Valérie Plante’s mayoral victory in Montreal and the ability of Naheed Nenshi to fight off a strong attack from the right in Calgary are catching us all by surprise. You can no longer trust political logic.

Stephen Harper swore he would move Canada permanently to the right of the political spectrum. All he moved us to was that final distaste for his oppressive form of right-wing libertarianism. He made a mantra of balanced budgets and the voters moved to a braver, deficit promoting Liberal Party.

But where is Justin Trudeau in this political turmoil? He talks the talk of saving an environmentally threatened world and approves the senseless pollution extremes of pipelines for bitumen. He makes promises to his party for power and then betrays the party. He promises voting reform without understanding the options. He promises new peacekeeping without understanding the realities of the world’s needs. He bemoans the privileged attitude of the Senate while creating a new privileged class of elites to continue the cost to Canadians for a Senate that is unwanted and unneeded.

What Canada needs is a new social democratic party of the centre-left. The New Democrats need to drop their ties to “me-first” unions and move along with real liberals to this new party. The Conservatives can fade into a futile future with their mean and selfish attitudes. Liberals will find their future as progressives challenged from the left. And voters will have new options, better government and, in time, a modern constitution for their country.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

The Surrender of Socialism.

Monday, November 20th, 2017

For what began as a socialist dream on the Prairies during the Great Depression, the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) and its successor New Democratic Party (NDP) have seen little success on the federal sphere in Canada. The party might now be moving into its twilight.

Unlike the pattern of the Conservative and Liberal parties, the CCF/NDP have been based on the party’s provincial organizations. (We will stick with the federal situation today and discuss the rifts between the provincial organizations at another time.)

The major problems the federal party is faced with today are the related problems of policies and leadership. This is a party without direction. From the extremes of the LEAP Manifesto to the environmental blindfold of the party leadership in Alberta, the party tears itself apart daily. The overly long election period of the 2015 election exposed the party and its leadership as lacking direction and policies. That election was a down-hill slide.

The party then worked at cross purposes to itself at the Edmonton convention that fired Tom Mulcair as leader. The very fact that the man would honor his commitment to leading the party in the House of Commons spoke volumes for his character.

It is the character of Jagmeet Singh that is the most serious question mark today. It makes you seriously wonder about a man who would use his religious group to take over his political party. There is a big difference between using that affinity for support and using it to swamp the ‘others’ in the party organization.

And how much better is Jagmeet Singh than Ontario Conservative Leader Patrick Brown who used Sub-Continent immigrants to swamp the existing membership of his provincial party?

Sikh names have been prominent in Canadian immigration since records started being kept in the 1800s. Today, there are more than 450,000 people in Canada identifying themselves as Sikh. There are large numbers of Sikhs in British Columbia and Ontario. They are free to support a fellow Sikh but you have to question if Jagmeet Singh could possibly have won without them?

What Jagmeet did not prove in taking over his party is that he has broad appeal outside his religious community. And why would you trust it? I have been told that a Sikh does not have to leave his hair uncut and wear a turban to be a Sikh. Is Jagmeet testing Canadian tolerance?

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

The despotism of First-Past-the-Post?

Sunday, November 12th, 2017

One of our favourite political bloggers wrote a desperate ‘cri de Coeur’ the other day against what he perceives as the despotism of first-past-the-post (FPTP) voting. He lives on Canada’s Left Coast and writes under the pseudonym ‘The Mound of Sound.’ Rather than simply refuting his assertions, I think it is important to find the source of his anguish.

To begin, there is his suggestion that 40 per cent support in FPTP voting can make any leader a despot. (Even Donald Trump needed the undemocratic Electoral College system to win the U.S. presidency.) We Canadians had a special House committee on electoral reform brought forward by the Trudeau Liberals. It was made up from all parties and spent a summer listening to submissions and writing a report on alternatives to FPTP voting. You know their conclusion. No change was made.

FPTP is not evil. It has worked for the people for hundreds of years. And if you want a real headache, check out how the Roman Republic elected its tribunes. One of the reasons to appreciate FPTP is that it is one of the most difficult systems of voting to cheat.

Maybe it is the simplicity of FPTP that turns off some intellectuals. If it is that simple, it has got to be wrong?

If your objection to FPTP is based on the ability of someone to win with less than 50.1 per cent of the vote—then fight for run-off elections. That is still much simpler and more democratic than other suggestions. You should not be enticed by preferential voting—it is not the same.

But before you demand change in how we vote, do you not think we should widen our outlook? Should we not take a look at the basics of our democracy—our political parties? Is it right for the Sikh community in Canada to swamp the membership of the federal New Democrats on behalf of that party’s new leader? Was that misogynistic and corrupted campaign in Alberta the way to choose a new Conservative leader for Alberta? Was it right for Brown in Ontario to buy the memberships for tens of thousands of immigrants to be the choice of Ontario Conservatives?

And does it surprise you to learn that the federal Conservatives and Liberals are funded from the same purses? What makes you think either party is run in a democratic fashion?

Before we have a liberal democracy in Canada we need liberal democratic parties. We have much work to do.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

‘Chuckles’ chooses chaos.

Sunday, November 5th, 2017

Have you ever wondered at how Members of Parliament can keep on speaking while being constantly heckled? It seems it is all part of the theatre that parliament provides and is a big part of the daily question period. There will always be exceptions but the chaos heckling creates can be easily quieted if just three of the players in the House said “Enough is enough.”

The guy with the most power to quiet things does not have the largest problem. Prime Minister Trudeau, through his Liberal House Leader, MP Bardish Chagger, can easily insist on bringing the Liberal side of the House’s noise levels down to reasonable. The question is whether they would want to—given the heavy heckling to which they are under every day?

Smaller parties such as the New Democrats have to really speak up if they want their heckling to be heard. These MPs tend to be the most vocal when they feel they are being mislead or not being given an answer they consider truthful. During the recent leadership race, there was little attention paid to the NDP’s performance in the House and it will take MP Guy Caron, new party leader Jagmeet Singh’s choice as house leader, time to assert some authority.

The largest problem in the heckling chorus are the 96 Conservatives who are the official opposition in the House of Commons. With their new leader this year, Andrew ‘Chuckles’ Scheer MP and his shrill house leader, MP Candice Bergen from Manitoba, we are certainly hearing from the pack.

And when you consider that “Chuckles’ has served as Speaker of the House, he knows very well the chaos that heckling creates for the House and the spectators. He also knows how the television cameras are directed to focus only on the speaker and people watching on the parliamentary channel across Canada have no idea which party is creating the noise behind the camera.

While the majority of parliamentarians feel that the heckling in the House is out of control, it is these opposition members who keep the practice alive.

Part of the shame is that even female members of Scheer’s party have complained about the sexist and inappropriate heckling. The truth is that this party has no intention of giving up on heckling. They seem to believe that: when in doubt, you should shout.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

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