Posts Tagged ‘NDP’

Jagmeet’s first challenge.

Tuesday, February 13th, 2018

The new leader of Canada’s New Democratic Party (NDP) has been busier than you think. Taking his party’s leadership was Jagmeet Singh’s easiest task. His journeys around Canada since then have been to convince the party members that an observant Sikh does not have two heads and can also be an effective politician. Now he has an excellent opportunity to show that he can lead his party. This coming weekend at the party’s annual conference in Ottawa is his first serious challenge. He has a badly fractured party to heal and bring together.

Unique among Canada’s federal political parties, the NDP is based on its provincial organizations. Two of these provincial bodies are at war. The B.C. and Alberta parties are well past the nasty names phase. This is a war over the delivery of bitumen to tidewater and you best not to get between protagonists in that war.

And this battle will not stay in the west. The entire party will want to take sides. The LEAP Manifesto, which is a problem in its own right, will be the battle flag for the anti-bitumen warriors.

The person watching the closest to see what Jagmeet Singh does in this situation will be Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. He is caught up in the same war. Jagmeet’s only advantage is that he has yet to take a stand. The prime minister has already had his cabinet approve the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

Trudeau’s minister of natural resources has proposed new safeguards for our coastal waters and his environment minister has backstopped with more promises of environmental protection—to little avail.

The last thing that Trudeau really wants to do is to enforce the federal government’s powers to make the Trans-Mountain expansion happen. That would cost him most of his Liberal MPs in B.C. in the 2019 election. He can expect no offsetting gains in Alberta.

What Jagmeet needs is a solution that would stop the squabbling in his own party. He has been travelling in selected areas of Canada to ensure that he has the support within the NDP to even address the problem.

He now has an excellent opportunity to show his party that an effective politician can also solve the bitumen war.

We should all wish Jagmeet Singh well in this opportunity.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

The NDP and the LEAP liability.

Tuesday, February 6th, 2018

This is unbelievable. The New Democratic Party is having a convention in mid February and we hear the LEAP Manifesto seems to be the selected song book. Not only is the document two years older but it was out of date when introduced in Edmonton to the consternation of the Alberta NDP. It was not helpful in building solidarity. And if the NDP even wants a future, the party has to come to some clear understanding of the party’s purpose.

There have been many false starts for the NDP over the years. There was the socialist start to Tommy Douglas’ Prairie-based Cooperative Commonwealth Federation and then the union-based NDP that David Lewis took into the 70s. Always the bridesmaid, Jack Layton introduced the populism the party needed at the turn of the century. Where a devout Sikh wants to take the party has yet to be determined.

But LEAP is not a direction. It is naïve. It has some of the same thought as Donald Trump’s populism. It even takes the same xenophobic stand on trade agreements. It seeks nirvana without the hard work involved. It offers handouts without considering the cost involved. It treats our first nations people as deserving wards of the state.

And please do not bring us the populism of America’s Bernie Sanders. He lost to Hillary Clinton but helped Trump take her down. As remarkable as Bernie’s drive for the Democratic nomination might have been, he failed to understand the effects of his campaign.

The cost-conscious NDP are not even bringing in the A-team speakers from America and the United Kingdom to help make their case. Mind you, anyone who wants to listen to the blokes who are set on destroying all the value the U.K. built while in the European Union are wasting their time. There is one word that explains why the Brexit vote happened. It is ‘bigotry.’

But neither Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders nor Brit Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn have anything to tell you about how to achieve what you really want from your party. It is obvious that you want power. You must be tired of standing outside the wrought iron fences around Canada’s parliament buildings. You want a crack at running things.

I think you need a purpose first and then you can make a plan.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Alberta commits to pollute.

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018

It is hard to think of Alberta Premier Rachel Notley as an oil baron but she must be at least an honorary member of the Petroleum Club. Her government has committed to shipping 50,000 barrels a day of what must be diluted bitumen through TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline over the next 20 years. Bitumen, the output of Canada’s oil sands, is the most polluting petroleum product our planet proffers.

Bitumen pollutes at every step in the process. It causes pollution just to be extracted from the land. The effluent of its extraction process pollutes the environment. The conversion of bitumen to ersatz crude oil causes extensive pollution and leaves behind a carbon-rich slag. Further refining it to different grades of fuels causes pollution. And finally, burning it as a fuel causes even more pollution.

But Alberta’s government does not care. Donald Trump’s America wants to be great again and burns more coal. Sharon Notley’s Alberta wants to be rich again and pollute for profit.

This makes the NDP premier of Alberta just as much of a hypocrite as her hero in the U.S. White House. Her government is accepting diluted bitumen from the oil sands exploiters in lieu of royalty payments. Instead of just being the regulator on behalf of all Albertans, the Alberta government is in the game. It is in the oil business.

It is because of this accumulation of output from the tar sands as royalties, that the Alberta government can make a commitment to TransCanada Pipelines. It is guaranteeing use of the line while speculating on the price of bitumen at the Texas Gulf Coast oil ports. From the ports, the bitumen can be shipped to countries around the world who are not concerned about the pollution it causes and the harm to the environment.

This makes the Keystone XL pipeline even more likely as the company has now secured 500,000 barrels a day in commitments. That is 60 per cent of the total of the planned capacity for Keystone XL of 830,000 barrels per day. Those guarantees TransCanada are showing off can be taken to the bank as proof of the financial viability of the pipeline—if it ever gets completed.

The question for the voters of Alberta is can you trust a government to regulate and control an industry if the government is directly involved in the industry?

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Ontario votes in June.

Monday, January 22nd, 2018

While political pundits have obviously thought long and hard on Ontario Premier Wynne’s possible political problems this spring, I doubt her main concern is misogyny. Nobody is mad at her for being a woman and not many voters give a darn about her being in a lesbian relationship. That is not what the provincial vote on June 7 is about.

The vote will be about the Liberal government of Kathleen Wynne and the political hopes of the Progressive Conservative party of Patrick Brown and the New Democratic Party of Andrea Horwath. If you do not like those three options, you might have a Green Party or some independent candidate to consider in your electoral district. And you have the best part of five months to make your decision. Most Ontario citizens will not even think about the election until maybe sometime late in May.

While supposedly neutral, news media pundits wring their hands about the Liberals being in power in Ontario for the past 14 years, that is hardly a record. It was the government that brought the province through the most serious financial crash since the Great Depression while phasing out coal-fired electricity production and introducing all-day kindergarten. And even with the recent uptick in the minimum wage, unemployment is now at an amazingly low number.

When Kathleen Wynne took over as premier, she had already earned this writer’s enmity. I was hardly impressed by the chicanery she pulled in gaining the party leadership. (To be fair, her skulduggery was far less blatant than the underhanded way Patrick Brown used to take over his party’s leadership.)

But, on balance, you have to admit that the Wynne government has done a pretty good job. She should never have listened to that banker who told her to sell off the electrical distribution in the province. Her expansion of beer and wine distribution to large grocery stores became a long-playing joke. And yet, her government deserves a lot of credit for helping improve seniors’ pensions, providing a list of common medicines free to children and young people, and finally getting the minimum wage heading towards a living wage.

In the meantime, the Conservatives are falling all over each other hoping to get some blowback in the election. The worst thing for their hopes would be a strong NDP. If Leader Andrea Horwath continues to bumble along, it will not help the Liberals’ chances. A strong third party could force a minority and it is one of the possibilities we will be looking at as the election gets closer.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

The Lion proposes to his Princess.

Saturday, January 20th, 2018

We read that it was the Tenth Sikh Guru Gobind Singh, who determined that Sikh men could identify as Singh (lion) and Sikh women as Kaur (princess). This happened more than 300 years ago and was all in aid of getting rid of the caste system for Sikhs and asserting the equality of women. It is why, with the upcoming marriage of Jagmeet Singh to Girkiran Kaur Sidhu, the leader of Canada’s New Democratic Party and his wife will probably want to keep their own names.

But despite it being a Sikh ceremony, it is all very political. There are just too many problems with an unmarried political party leader. If you do not have to face the rumours and innuendoes about a politician’s sexuality, you can concentrate on the more important issues.

When you consider the provincial Conservative leaders in Alberta and Ontario, you can understand the problem. Nobody really cares about the sexual choices of Jason Kenney, who is now the leader of Alberta’s United Conservatives. His record is clear as a social Conservative and there have been enough claims about the misogyny of him and his circle that it is hard to understand why any woman would want to support him.

Observing Ontario Conservative Leader Patrick Brown while he was in Ottawa and representing us here in Barrie, I think his problem is that women do not seem to like him. He is also a social conservative and has voted to re-open arguments about abortion and against same-sex marriage. He does not appear comfortable talking to women and they seem to rapidly lose interest in him.

Jagmeet Singh is quite different. With an outgoing personality and as a devout Sikh, he would probably be considered a very good catch for a Sikh lady. His ‘princess’ also looks like the perfect spouse for a politician. She is a successful fashion designer and appears to wear her designs well.

Jagmeet is already a hero to younger Sikhs because of his days as an extreme wrestler as well as being a successful lawyer before going into provincial politics in Ontario. He has yet to win election though to the House of Commons and take his place in parliament as NDP leader.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Brought to you by Bollywood?

Wednesday, December 27th, 2017

In reviewing the three leaders of the major political parties in Canada, we came up with what we consider the key question for Jagmeet Singh: Why? What is the new leader of the New Democratic Party out to prove? Was his taking the leadership of the National NDP just a Bollywood production?

First of all, he did not win the leadership. He took it. It was there to take and he did. He watched the contest for a while and picked his time to jump in. He won the leadership by simply swamping the existing membership of the New Democrats in British Columbia and Ontario. He did not want to discuss policy with the more knowledgeable leadership hopefuls and did not bother. Jagmeet Singh took the leadership by saying the least.

In a party bereft of leadership, Jagmeet offers none. In a party lacking direction, he has no idea of where it should head. He knows that the LEAP Manifesto is a formula for controversy. And the Regina Manifesto only mirrors the past. The NDP have nowhere to go and, frankly, nobody to take the party there, anyway.

But can a leader, selected by the Sikh communities across Canada, offer Canadians a future? The Sikh community has come late to this party. In the 1980s and 1990s there were many swamped party riding associations that put a steady series of back benchers from various ethnic groups in parliament and provincial legislatures. It not only did not work but it hurt our democracy. The answer to the problem arrived at in Ottawa was to break with democratic practice and have the party leader sign-off on who could be candidates for the party.

But there is no one to sign off on the selection of party leaders. That is why Jagmeet Singh, then a member of the legislature, was able to watch an Ontario Member of Parliament use some of Jagmeet’s fellow Sikhs to win the Ontario Progressive Conservative leadership in 2015. Patrick Brown had made many trips at taxpayer expense to the Indian sub-continent to establish connections for the attempt. He found the paths to signing-up thousands of Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims who have immigrated to Ontario. Who paid the memberships for as many as 40,000 of these people so new to Ontario is still in question?

For Jagmeet to use the same connivance as a putz such as Conservative Patrick Brown should embarrass his party. It does not seem to embarrass Jagmeet Singh.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Naughty or Nice: Ontario’s Andrea Horwath.

Friday, December 22nd, 2017

Not many of us in Ontario feel we know Andrea Horwath. After 12 years in the Ontario Legislature, eight-years as leader of the Ontario New Democrats and through two general elections since becoming leader, you would expect to know her better. It is a sign of the ennui of the NDP that she has not been replaced. She is the best they have got.

But she still makes Santa’s “Nice” list. Her only likely replacement decamped to become leader of the federal party this year and he has hardly been missed. We will cover Jagmeet Singh next week with the federal leaders.

Hamilton-born Andrea is 55 and it looks like our suggestions of her getting a gym membership and a personal trainer are still being ignored. It is not that Andrea and her caucus do not come up with the odd good policy idea now and then but, if it makes sense at all, the Liberals in the legislature adopt the idea as their own. There will be no greater waste of breath in the election campaign this coming spring than arguing over who thought up a version of PharmaCare first.

There is no question that Ontario has to immediately boost its minimum wage. No society should have people trying to live on a wage that is less than needed to properly cloth, feed and house themselves. For the Liberals to say wait another year is pathetic. For the Conservatives to say wait two years is disgusting. The NDP win this argument.

As you can expect of New Democrats, their platform for the spring election will be loaded with goodies for the wage earners. Equal pay for part-time workers would certainly go a long way to stabilize working conditions and resolve some of the less savoury labour practices in the province.

But for all their high-minded efforts to improve things for workers, the NDP have little hope for even standing pat with their present contingent in the legislature. With battle lines already drawn between the Conservatives and Liberals, the NDP’s only hope is for the balance of power to work with a possible minority Liberal government.

We expect another lacklustre effort by the NDP in 2018. Not even Santa can bring them the ideas and the drive needed for a winning campaign.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

This Lone Ranger wears a skirt.

Sunday, December 17th, 2017

You have to admit the lady has guts. Alberta Premier Rachel Notley has the nerve and verve that denies her gender. She is tough and even when she is wrong she is unwavering. She does Alberta proud but rides the range alone.

The daughter of a former New Democratic Party leader, Ms. Notley defies the odds and takes her fight for her province from coast to coast. In British Columbia she is facing the determination of that province’s NDP government to block expansion of the Kinder-Morgan TransMountain pipeline.

What the American pipeline company is considering is actually the conversion of the present pipeline and adding a second pipe so that both lines can take almost three times the diluted bitumen to the west coast port of Burnaby. The only problem is whether investors think that there is future for the project. No one is anticipating any substantive increase in the price of oil in the near future and few are betting on ersatz oil that is only gained at excessive cost in terms of pollution.

While Toronto financial people will listen to her, Toronto is the home of the NDP members who produced the LEAP Manifesto. They are not so polite. They think bitumen has to be left in the ground. For her to take on an NDP audience in Toronto would not be a friendly chat.

And to add to the party problems, the Greater Toronto Area is the home area of the new national NDP leader, Jagmeet Singh. While he is trying desperately to stay clear of Notley’s quest, it is an awkward dance. He cannot get people to believe that there is no need for him to take a stand.

Singh is well aware of the criticism Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has already taken among Liberals for being in favour of the Kinder-Morgan proposal. While Trudeau can try to hide behind a supposedly emancipated National Energy Board, he deserves the anger of those who believed him as a poster boy for the environment.

When neither her own national leader nor the prime minister wants to be seen with Rachel Notley, she looks like a lonely lone ranger.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

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