Posts Tagged ‘NDP’

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

“What fools these mortals be…”

Sunday, September 30th, 2018

Just to show how consistent we humans are, we can use the words of William Shakespeare to describe more recent events. What brings this to mind was a recent Ryerson University democracy forum. Chaired by Martin Regg Cohn of the Toronto Star, the debaters were campaign heads for the three major parties in June’s Ontario election. Regg Cohn’s report on the forum struck us as the most political self-aggrandizement, self-pity and foolishness we have heard for a long time.

And the winner was… surprise, surprise, Kory Teneycke of the progressive conservatives. It is just that we do not agree with what he is bragging about. We could have told him he had won before the campaign even started.

But Teneycke (and I still cannot pronounce that name) gives the credit to his supposedly brilliant digital campaign for the conservatives. And, he uses all the current buzz words such as “curating” messages with the right “algorithms” for “target” audiences.

To have a winner, it is also necessary to have a loser and David Herle of the liberal party makes the perfect goat. The only thing I will not criticize him for was the decision by Premier Wynne to forfeit the election before it was over. That was the stupidest act I had seen in an election in more than 50 years of campaigns.

But David was not above reproach for how he handled the campaign. He actually admits that he had no idea how to handle the negatives on social media about Wynne. He said the liberals did not know how to fight it. He also said he was of the impression that digital advertising was “unpersuasive.”

I will quote my favourite campaign slogan for David: If you cannot push, pull. And if you cannot pull, you best get out of the way.

Bringing up the rear, as usual, was the NDP campaign, headed by Michael Balagus. I would not know him, if I tripped over him. He was certainly complimentary about the conservative use of social media and their own news. It is really too bad that his campaign had no focus, no theme and no hope until Ms. Wynne quit and people who hated Ford were conflicted by being told to vote for Ms. Horwath—who ran her own do-nothing campaign.

But what was unimpressive about the report was Teneycke’s insistence that campaigns would soon be 99 per cent digital. That was the attitude of a loser who did not understand people. It sounds more like some of the worried clergy in the middle ages who did not understand that it would take centuries for the anticipated impact of Herr Gutenberg’s invention. We move faster with technology today but not overnight.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

“Once more unto the breach, my friends…”

Friday, September 21st, 2018

The Hordes are at the gates of Castle Liberal on the Rideau and William Shakespeare, once more has appropriate words at the ready. With a year left of his tattered mandate, prime minister Justin Trudeau had best take the advice of Henry V and plug the breach with his dead and soldier on.

And speaking of soldering, you might be wondering how soon we will be dusting-off the Highway of Heroes for the casualties of his ill-considered and ill-fated peace-keeping expedition to the Sahara Desert?

Like most of his political problems, Justin creates them for himself. A good example was his promise in 2015 hat it would be the last time voters would use first-past-the-post voting. He disappointed a few people with that one.

He did the same with assisted dying. The bill was so watered down by the time it passed, that not even many of the dying were pleased.

And while he might have helped some families and the theoretical middle class over his term, he has ignored seniors. They vote too.

And while some people think he has stood firm with U.S. president Trump, his stance is really something more like petrified. He has absolutely no understanding of how to handle that child-man. Judging by their relative ages, he might hope to outlast him.

There are two things that really griped this commentator: In Trudeau’s desperate attempt to feel some love from Alberta, he has spent $4.7 billion of public money on a pipeline to serve the greed of one province.

And by completing the planned twinning of the line, he will be making a farce of all his promises and all our hopes for the world environment.

At the same time, Trudeau has been destroying the federal liberal party. There are no memberships in to-day’s liberal party. He has turned the party lists into an unequivocal sucker list. This list is held above the law and nobody has any guarantee of its privacy. Can you believe that you get better protection on Facebook?

But, it should be pointed out that Justin Trudeau has help going into next year’s trials. They are Andrew ‘Chuckles’ Scheer and Jagmeet Singh. They are the leaders of Canada’s conservative and new democratic parties respectively. They have both shown themselves inadequate to the task before them. Their parties need leadership.

Justin Trudeau needs to be challenged.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

On second thought Mr. Singh.

Saturday, September 15th, 2018

He has no other to blame than himself. Jagmeet Singh sought to lead the federal new democrats and where has he taken them? Has the party advanced during his tenure of the past year? Are more Canadians offering dues, fealty, funds and support to the party? What new programs, policies, promises has the party proposed? What is nirvana for Singh’s socialists?

And where do you go from here Mr. Singh?

Will a by-election in Burnaby South save Singh? Despite the electoral district being held last by new democrat MP Kennedy Stewart, who has resigned to run for Mayor of Vancouver, it is by no means a safe NDP seat. There are probably many there who thought Singh sat too long on the fence between the Alberta and B.C. NDP parties’ pipeline battles.

One thing for sure, neither the conservatives not liberals are about to give Singh a free pass. It has been a long-established custom for the major parties to not contest a party leader seeking a seat in the Commons. It is a courtesy that has been forgotten in the heat of the arguments about the Kinder Morgan pipeline from Alberta. Only the Green’s have given Singh a pass since his new-found resolve to fight the pipeline.

But that is a single issue and nobody knows where else the NDP stand today. Past leader Tom Mulcair took the party to the right in the last federal election and nobody knows much about Singh’s philosophy. Where Singh wants to take the party is still a mystery.

Part of the problem is that Singh won the NDP leadership vote because of all the Sikhs in B.C. and Ontario who joined the party. Whether the immigrant sign-ups swamped the existing sign ups, we were not told. All we got was the announcement that Singh won on the first ballot.

That win might be a cautionary tale as Ontario leader (briefly) Brown was himself able to swamp the low-tide membership of the Ontario progressive conservatives. With his links to Indian sub-continent immigrants in Ontario, his 40,000 sign-ups were able to swamp the dismal membership of the Tories.

On top of the open rebellion by MPs and MLAs in Saskatchewan over the Weir ouster, there could be a party-wide call for Jagmeet Singh’s scalp if he loses the by-election in Burnaby South. It probably would not help but they might feel better after dumping Singh.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Left is the lonely lane.

Saturday, September 8th, 2018

I have never felt so alone in politics. The left, the progressive, the social democrat is a dying breed. Even the federal New Democratic Party is struggling with fund raising and direction as it sluggishly moves to the right. All political parties have felt the shifting of the sands.

But, when you have no idea where you are going, what is the price of a ticket?

Where is Justin Trudeau taking Canadian liberalism? He has traded in his father’s progressivism for a cult of elitism and personality. The younger Trudeau’s worshipful followers allow him carte blanche to turn a party of the ideas and idealism of his patrimony into a willing parade of sycophants.

Where does Trudeau think he is going with his pipeline of pollution from the tar sands? He wants to be the poster boy for environmentalism and yet he betrays all that he has proclaimed.

And why can he not stand up to a person such as Donald Trump? There is no admiration in Canada for Trump Quislings. Trump is but a nascent dictator in a battle to the death with an inept Congress.

Yet, leadership is also in limited supply across Canada these days. The natural alternative party boasts a caretaker leader, struggling with a caustic caucus. ‘Chuckles’ Scheer spells nothing other than missed chances for the country’s real conservatives.

At the same time, the party of Tommy Douglas is crumbling. They dumped a leader whose only fault was he was older than Justin Trudeau. With the help of an influx of Sikh members, they opted for an observant Sikh to lead them. He chose not to enter parliament on the tails of the publicity, and he was soon forgotten. With a leader unable to be noticed and a party unable to raise needed funds, the federal new democrats have failed themselves and failed Canadians.

But nature hates a vacuum of any kind and it is in the provinces we are seeing the real leadership struggles. B.C. teeters with a precarious minority government that is fighting a fellow NDP regime in Alberta and the federal government. Saskatchewan and Ontario have joined to defy a federal carbon tax. And Quebec oddsmakers are touting a provincial regime further to the right than before.

They leave no home or hope for those who deny the corporatism of fascism as vast companies defy the incoherence of mere nations. There is little hope for those of us who put the needs of people ahead of the right-wing populists who say they are “For the People.”

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Calamitous cost of change.

Saturday, September 1st, 2018

Talking, the other day, about how lawyers are the only ones happy with the Ford government in Ontario, you have to admit that is our own fault. Did we really have a clue as to what it would cost the voters to throw out the McGinty/Wynne government? This might be the only reason I might consider proportional representation.

We simply cannot afford to have alternative governments throwing out the baby, the bath water and our tax money every time some of us get mad and change governments. If each government is going to spend much of its first year in office throwing out the programs of the previous government, we are in a great deal of trouble—and wasting large amounts of money.

Look at the monies being spend in America today as Trump tries to kill Obamacare. Trump is a child at a fair who wants every prize on the midway. He sure is making America great again—great at spending money that it has to borrow from China.

Doug Ford in Ontario has already proved that he is an idiot. He promised the voters that it would cost them nothing to get rid of the president of Hydro One. I wish he would fire me for a $9 million settlement. And we would only be guessing to estimate the final settlement with the rest of the board.

The most serious cost with Dougie is that he is a global warming denier. He does not give a damn about the environment. In a world of wind turbines, Dougie would rip them all out of the ground in Ontario. He has scrapped the support for electric cars. He is fighting the federal carbon tax in court.

I hate to admit that the best answer to this type of government upset is to move to proportional representation. Under a proportional voting system Dougie and his party would probably be to-day’s official opposition in Ontario. The conservatives might have had 40 per cent of the votes but it would have likely been Andrea Horwath and her new democrats who would have formed the government with the support of the liberals. Neither of these parties would have made a deal with Dougie!

Admittedly, under a proportional system of government, it takes longer to get things done. It can also stop someone like Dougie from screwing things up.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

 

It’s ‘Scheer’ Madness.

Wednesday, August 29th, 2018

Checking reports from last week’s conservative conclave in Halifax has not indicated any serious policy directions for the party in next year’s election. It was Maxime Bernier who sucked all the air out of the beginning of the event and it became just a footnote to Bernier’s farewell.

But what else did the conservatives really decide? What are they presenting to Canadians next year? Do they have any answers to global warming? Unless they think denying global warming is a political strategy in itself?

All that the public is hearing in most provinces is that the conservatives do not want a carbon tax and they support pipelines. And the Ontario and Saskatchewan conservative governments are taking the federal government to court over the issue of a carbon tax.

It sounds to this Ontario voter like the conservatives will continue to elect their Neanderthal MPs in the three Prairie provinces and will be decimated everywhere else.

Looking across the country, it looks like the Atlantic provinces voters will mostly ignore the conservative issues, Quebec is ambivalent, as its provincial cap and trade system seems to be working. Ontario will be the only fighting ground but Scheer is no Doug Ford and he is not offering much to Ontario. (And when you have a Ford for premier why would you need another fool defending Fortress Ottawa.)

Where Scheer will hit a wall is when it comes to B.C. He will be playing second fiddle to Trudeau on the pipeline and the NDP will be making hay as the natural successor to both parties.

It is when you do the analysis across the country is when you realize that the sunny days are over for the liberal’s Justin Trudeau. He is headed for a minority. He cannot have his pipeline and save the environment and his job at the same time. He is going to have to stay home and learn to manage parliament. He is failing on too many files. His only advantage is Scheer.

Scheer’s conservatives are marching in many different directions today and it is obvious that they have no idea where they are going. If they could find out where the country wants to go, they could become more effective.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Can Singh sing a new song in Burnaby?

Thursday, August 9th, 2018

It is now confirmed that new democratic party leader Jagmeet Singh will try for a seat in the House of Commons this fall. The facts are that the guy has not drawn a salary for over a year now. He has gotten married and he might need a couple new bespoke suits. He could have possibly run in Montreal in Tom Mulcair’s old seat of Outremont or a formerly conservative-held seat in Grenville-Dundas-Thousand Islands in Ontario, but he has decided the safest seat is in South-Burnaby in British Columbia.

But while that might be the safest seat for an NDP, Singh had to finally come out against the Trans Mountain pipeline. It was the end of sitting on the fence between premier John Horgan’s BC NDP and premier Rachel Notley’s Alberta NDP.

South-Burnaby voters will likely have a clear choice. No liberal has been selected yet but whoever runs for the government party will be standing on Justin Trudeau’s shoulders. The greens and conservatives might as well stand back and let the liberals and NDP have at it! This will be a referendum on the newly government-owned Trans Mountain pipeline. The $7 to $11 billion enhancement project is designed to bring more of the Alberta tar sands products to Burnaby for loading on ocean tankers.

The only reason Kennedy Stewart is not representing the seat is that he is in the running for mayor of Vancouver. In Vancouver, they do not have party politics in the traditional Canadian manner. The current election pits the progressives against the combined conservatives and right-wing liberals.

My bet is on Stewart for mayor of that wonderful city.

South-Burnaby is considered to be one of the most ethnically diverse electoral districts in Canada, competing with many ridings in Toronto for that distinction. Prime minister Trudeau remains very strong in ethnically diverse areas and that alone could make this by-election a toss-up.

The one thing that Singh might not be prepared for in this situation is to lose. And he could. The ethnic make-up of the electoral district is only listed as 16 per cent south Asian and Sikhs are only a part of that group. It will be an interesting test of Singh’s appeal to other ethnic groups. Singh will also be considered an eastern carpetbagger who will not have any long-term interest in the people there.

Jagmeet Singh might be biting off too much.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

What a web we Weaver!

Tuesday, August 7th, 2018

We have struggled with this for a couple months. What the heck is BC green party leader John Weaver’s problem with the liquified natural gas (LNG) proposal for British Columbia? It not only sounds like a good deal but BC premier John Horgan is right to be moving it along, even though there is really not much need for too much in way of incentives.

Compared to the stuff the modified Trans Mountain pipeline is designed to run down to Burnaby, BC, the LNG proposal is a Sunday afternoon walk in the park. The only concern with a gas pipeline is fire. With the technology involved in pipelines today, you get almost immediate warning and location of the problem. It could be about as dangerous as a backyard barbeque.

With almost immediate shut down of the line, you lose very little gas into the atmosphere. Remember that the gas, at this stage, is lighter than air.

But that density changes when the gas is liquified. When the gas is reduced to minus 160° C, it has a density of 423 grams per litre. Modern LNG tankers can travel around the world on the gas from their tanks that also serves to keep the LNG at a constant cold temperature. In combination with diesel fuel, it is the ideal way to transport gas.

Pipelines are definitely not the best way to transport diluted bitumen. Diluted bitumen has to be heated and forced through a pipeline at increased pressure. It is highly abrasive and with the increased pressure, spills can be inevitable and are not signalled to the line head as immediately. Where a spill is particularly dangerous is around water. With the diluent staying on the surface and the bitumen finally reaching bottom, harming the environment both above and below the surface.

The good news (I guess) is that premier John Horgan is paying his debts. He wanted to be premier and it cost him an accord with the BC greens. One of the conditions is to again offer BC voters an opportunity to vote on changing how they elect their provincial government. John Horgan’s NDP government is calling for this vote later this year. It is a small price to pay for the continued support of the three Green Party members in the B.C. legislature.

But nothing ever runs smoothly. If the NDP government had announced its proportional representation on Facebook, it would probably have received more initial dislikes than likes. The government allows for three alternative plans, each more confusing than the previous proposal. None of the options is truly proportional.

Mind you, the good news is that after two elections trying one of those options, BC voters will have an opportunity to vote to restore First-Past-the-Post (FPTP) voting.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Dougie doesn’t do distress.

Thursday, August 2nd, 2018

At the end of April this year, a truck was driven down Yonge Street in north Toronto on a quest to murder. The driver succeeded in killing 10 people and injuring 14. Mayor John Tory was there on the scene soonest, Premier Kathleen Wynne came. NDP leader Andrea Horwath came. The prime minister of Canada came. Doug Ford, the man running for premier of Ontario on the slogan ‘For the People,’ was too busy campaigning.

And then we had the random shootings in Greektown on Toronto Danforth. Mayor Tory was there soonest. As premier, Doug Ford read a statement to the legislature. And since the prime minister was coming at the time of the funerals, the premier showed up for a vigil.

This is one of the toughest parts of the politician’s job. It requires that fine balance between showing your concern and appearing to be taking advantage of it for the exposure. Mayor John Tory does it well. Maybe it is because he gets more fires and shootings and other types of disasters in a large city. He also has the constant down-in-the-mouth expression of a St. Bernard. He was born to be a first responder.

But Doug Ford does not do concern well. He lacks empathy. He is too self-centred to feel for others. No doubt he has to let his staff pick the timing, prepare his off-the-cuff remarks and tell him how to dress and how to look. It is not in his DNA.

But nobody wants that brash loud-mouth at quiet moments of contemplation anyway. Doug Ford’s problem is that he only has an on-off switch. There is no volume control.

Ford’s attitude seems to permeate the entire conservative caucus at Queen’s Park. They applaud the brashness of their leader. They appear to revel in their party’s ignorance of climate change. They share the myopia when it comes to the growing demand for gun controls. And at a time of increasingly horrendous criminal attacks on complete strangers, they concur on the throttling back of funds for mental health solutions.

At a time of growing need for better government, Ontario has opted for ignorance. When better solutions should be sought to growing needs in fields of provincial jurisdiction, Ontario voters have chosen comic-book heroes. This is not a time to be proud of what we have done.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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