Posts Tagged ‘NDP’

Granny Wynne knows best.

Sunday, June 25th, 2017

The current argument between Ontario’s New Democrats and the Ontario Liberals is like a school yard spat over who did what. It is not only childish but it makes both sides of the argument look foolish. They are arguing over who thought of having a mediocre pharmacare plan first. Neither side has much of which to be very proud.

The point is that not having a universal pharmacare program works at cross purposes to the intent of Canada’s Medicare program. It means that those of us who take our meds are paying more for them and those who cannot afford them, fail to take them and drive up the cost of Medicare.

It is good to see that the NDP are thinking about real needs. Just why they would suggest that only the 125 most commonly prescribed drugs be free to the public is something that only they can explain. It is like saying ‘Tough beans’ to those with an uncommon problem. Since the Liberals are offering to fund the full 4000 or so listed drugs up until age 25, that must be saying ‘Tough beans’ to those between 25 and 65—which does not make really good sense either.

But you have to give this round to Granny Wynne and her Liberals. A small step in the right direction is better than no progress at all. Even the Ontario health minister, Eric Hoskins, has been pitching pharmacare to anyone who would listen for years.

Mind you we started calling the Ontario premier Granny because anything she was going to do took a long time to happen. It is similar to when she finally admitted that the Ontario minimum wage should be $15 per hour. Did she launch it in reasonable time? No. She is taking two years and staging the increase over that time.

The one strong benefit of this pharmacare plan is that of the intense pressure on a Liberal or New Democrat government (should one or the other get elected next year) will be to complete the universality of the plan. The likelihood of any Conservative government doing anything other than finding ways of cutting back the plan would be extremely unlikely.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Why progressive elites are losing.

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017

The disappointment progressives have felt with the New Democratic Party over the last couple decades has been something we have argued about but maybe not understood as well as we should. Maybe Robin V. Sears of the NDP put his finger on it the other day when complaining in print about the ease with which Donald Trump took much of the angry underclass away from the Democrats in the American’s 2016 presidential campaign. Donald Trump caught all of us progressive pundits with our pants down.

In Canada, we were still wondering why it was that NDP leader Thomas Mulcair blew away a sizeable lead towards winning the 2015 federal election. He could not even hold on to the seats in his own province brought to his party by former NDP leader Jack Layton.

But when the biggest policy argument of the NDP convention that fired Mulcair was the shallowness of the LEAP Manifesto, we should have twigged to what was wrong. This is a party that is out of touch with the people about whom it is supposed to care. It is a party dominated by unions that hardly know how to serve their own members.

What academics explain as the anger of the white working class is supposedly caused by the job losses to automation and the corporate ability to move production to lowest-wage jurisdictions. Add to that the realization that all politicians lie to them and that nobody can solve global warming and you can see how the frustration is building.

When stressed, voters turn to extremes. In America, we saw the accident of Trump. In Europe, we saw Brexit and the close call with Marine Le Pen. Canada picked the untried and unproven Justin Trudeau.

What the public is looking for are politicians that put principals ahead of promises. That is the lesson that at least Mulcair learned in the last federal election. Who was going to believe a socialist who promised a balanced budget? And where was the decency in arguing about Niqabs?

In the American tragedy of their last election, voters saw what anger, lies and distrust can produce. The only politician who came out of that horrendous selection process with honour was an aging democratic socialist by the name of Bernie Sanders. We should all take a page from his book.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

The poster boy and the NDP.

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

Charlie Angus meet Jagmeet Singh. No doubt Charlie Angus MP, candidate for the New Democratic Party leadership has met Jagmeet Singh MPP, the newest candidate for the NDP leadership, before, but not likely as a competitor. The only surprise about this meeting is that both these gentlemen are in the same political party.

What is also obvious is that the 38-year old turbaned Sikh is in the wrong party. This is also the problem he has as deputy leader of the Ontario NDP and it will follow him into the leadership race for the federal party. Jagmeet Singh is not a union man. He seems to have had little or no experience with unions. With the ongoing role of unions in the NDP, that could be a liability.

That lack of understanding of the New Democrats and their socialist past by Jagmeet Singh has been obvious for some time. All you have to do is read back through the bills he has presented to the Ontario Legislature during his six years there representing Bramalea-Gore-Malton. You will see a person who is concerned with individual rights more than the collective rights of unions. Jagmeet Singh would probably be comfortable in a more progressive Liberal Party.

It is easier for a guy like Charlie Angus to deal with the problems that the unions present. He stood up to his Catholic church on the question of same-sex marriage and he is used to the rough and tumble of Northern Ontario union activists.

But the double problem for Ontario is that the union movement has been losing ground as well as seeing some key unions (temporarily, maybe) shifting over to support the Liberals. The New Democrats have not handled these problems well and both federal and provincial parties have been losing in the polls. Thomas Mulcair federally and Andrea Horwath provincially have been feeling the shifting ground that they stand on and you could see in recent elections the problems they faced in trying to tell us where their party is going.

While Jagmeet might already have the notoriety as one of the best dressed New Democrats or Sikhs in Canada, most interest will be in what he will say in the leadership about where the NDP is headed. This is a party that is desperately in need of some direction—and the contestants so far, Ashton, Angus, Caron and Julian, have come across as an anemic barbershop quartet.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

The piecemeal processes of Premier Wynne.

Sunday, April 30th, 2017

“Ladies and gentlemen and children of all ages: Let me draw your attention to the left ring of our three-ring circus. Here for your entertainment and edification is our finance minister who has just passed the miracle of a balanced budget. Charles Sousa will now amaze you further by proposing a new pharmacare program to swamp the proposal of the NDP.”

And he did. In his geared-for-election budget, the Ontario finance minister proposed a piecemeal pharmacare program for Ontario residents under the age of 25. It is the same drug benefit program that applies to seniors and people receiving provincial support. The difference from what the New Democrats proposed is that it applies to the gamut of 4400 listed drugs as opposed to the more restrictive list of the most commonly used 125 prescription drugs as proposed by the NDP.

All it does though is remind Ontario voters of the penchant of the Liberal government for doing things piecemeal. When their banker advised them to sell off the electricity distribution system in Ontario, they broke it into small lots and started selling off a bit at a time. It helped remind Ontario voters each time that they will end up contributing to the profits for those buyers.

It was the same when the province’s banker advised them to sell wine and beer in grocery stores. They thought that was such a great idea that they announced it several times, added hard ciders for another couple media events and spaced the selection of stores over a couple years so that they could have lots more media events. And in the meantime, nobody knows which grocer is selling beer and which is not.

It is as though the Wynne Liberals have decided that if anything is worth doing, it can best be done many times. That will leave the final stage of having pharmacare for those between 25 and 64—that we should have had since the beginning of Medicare in Canada.

Since Ontario has 40 per cent of Canada’s population, the federal government will get into the act at some stage and make it universal in Canada.

Mind you, that genius Ontario PC Leader Patrick Brown complained about this program needing a means test. It will be interesting to see how he will apply a means test to children. He should hardly be concerned about the parents paying for them. They will anyway in their taxes but it will be much less because of the buying power of the government and the fact we will have healthier kids, more likely taking their prescribed medicines.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

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