Posts Tagged ‘NDP’

Hébert hails the Hair.

Sunday, September 10th, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

The Globe and Mail’s Ibbitson flunks math?

Saturday, September 9th, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

The Morning Line: Canada’s NDP Leadership

Friday, September 1st, 2017

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

Charlie Angus M.P. – 4 to 1

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

Niki Ashton M.P. – 6 to 1

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

Guy Caron M.P. – 11 to 1

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

Jagmeet Singh M.P.P. – 2 to 1

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

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

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

What’s wrong at NDP HQ?

Monday, August 28th, 2017

There was a promise that Babel-on-the-Bay would publish its Morning Line on the New Democratic Party leadership today. That is hardly possible when we have been stalled by the party not yet releasing its new membership figures. Without these figures to analyze and compute along with our knowledge of the people involved, we have no hope of providing readers a reasonable handicapping of the race.

There is little point of either research company polls or our more in-depth analysis without the new membership figures. With a membership of less than 200,000 nationally before this contest got started, anyone who can sign up more than 50,000 new members has to be taken very seriously.

There is no point in denying that the only leadership candidate who could have signed up in excess of 50,000 new members would be Ontario MPP Jagmeet Singh. He has easy access to South Asian immigrants across Canada and is very popular in those communities.  In the Greater Toronto Area and in Vancouver and Lower mainland alone, there are enough potential supporters to practically guarantee him the leadership.

But whether he was organizing the effort early enough is just one question. The more important question is whether he would be wasting his time if he did not have broad support throughout the established party membership?

We are seeing now what is happening to the Ontario Conservatives when a leadership candidate imports temporary members to swamp the established membership. Patrick Brown is being challenged by break-away groups, improper tactics in local nominations and friction from all sides because he disrespected the traditions of his party.

Jagmeet Singh also has the problem of Quebec. As he admitted in yesterday’s debate in Montreal, a turbaned Sikh would have a struggle for support among openly tribal and racist elements in Quebec. While MP Guy Caron tried to make secularism a solely provincial matter in yesterday’s debate, there is no denying that a two-country solution will not fly across the rest of Canada.

When we see the new membership figures, we will let you know the Morning Line. There is little question that the decision is between Ontario MP Charlie Angus and Ontario MPP Jagmeet Singh. Of course, Manitoba MP Niki Ashton already knows she is having twins! We also wish her well.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Jagmeet’s ‘means test.’

Thursday, August 10th, 2017

It is a trap that more and more New Democratic Party spokespeople are falling into. By denying universality of programs, they think they are attracting voters from the right. They are not. They are setting themselves up for failure with their traditional supporters. It is a losing proposition.

And when Jagmeet Singh poses his challenge to the universality of Old Age Security, he is annoying seniors and winning no new friends. To suggest that he wants to create a means-tested Old Age Security replacement wins him no friends either.

With the universal delivery of Old Age Security, it is easy to deliver and easy to claw back from pensioners who do not need it.

It is interesting that Jagmeet has gotten on board with fellow leadership candidate MP Guy Caron’s suggestion of a guaranteed income supplement for Canadians. Like all economists, Mr. Caron makes a strong argument for his plan but he also makes it too complicated. Jagmeet might just be looking at the likelihood of Guy Caron not making it past the first ballot in the upcoming voting. The Ontario MPP thinks he can pick up those mainly Quebec votes to help put him over the top.

A key factor in the New Democratic leadership race will be the new sign-ups by each of the candidates. Considering the number of South Asian immigrants across Canada, it depends on how much time Jagmeet Singh’s supporters have had to line up memberships in that community. Jagmeet must have noted the ease with which Patrick Brown lined up enough supporters in that community to swamp the existing provincial Conservative membership in Ontario. We will know the answer after the membership cut-off scheduled for August 17.

(It would be interesting to run the new Ontario NDP memberships against the Ontario Progressive Conservative memberships of 2015. You might be surprised at the number of one-time Conservatives who have seen the light and have now joined the NDP.)

The final membership figures will be the key to a reasonably accurate Morning Line from Babel-on-the-Bay on August 28. Judging by what we have seen so far, the hunch is that we will know who has been chosen the new leader of the New Democratic Party at the closing of the first ballot on October 1, 2017. There might be no need for subsequent ballots.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Money matters maybe.

Friday, August 4th, 2017

Never judge a political race by money raised. Whether it is an internal party race for a nomination or a leadership or party fundraising prior to an election, you have to remember that money does not vote. Case in point, the fundraising by each of the four candidates for the New Democratic Party might tell you a bit about potential votes but hardly forecasts the winner.

As an experienced political apparatchik, I can tell you that I am most impressed with Charlie Angus’ fundraising efforts. Remember that he is based in Northern Ontario and he has raised $233,000 in 2017 through June of this year. In the NDP, that pays for a respectable campaign to reach the 100,000 plus existing party members and the search and capture for maybe another 25,000 new members. Charlie probably has a potential base vote of about 50,000.

I have to say that Niki Ashton is sure tenacious and the Manitoba MP’s $135,000 fundraising in the first six months this year tells a good story. While she will not win over as many of the existing party members, her new sign-ups will be darn loyal and she could push Charlie Angus hard with a base vote of close to 40,000.

The disappointing performance is by Guy Caron the MP from Quebec. With just over $100,000 raised in the first six months, his campaign is limited. It is hard to say just where he stands in voting potential.

Whether Caron could rally late is probably mute as most of the noise now is going to later-comer Jagmeet Singh MPP from Ontario. Singh’s campaign started in May and through May and June, his campaign raised over $350,000 from just over 1500 donors. He claims that 75 per cent of this money came from first-time donors which tells us that South-Asian immigrants are going all-out for him. It is obvious that he has the ability (and the funds) to sign up as many as 100,000 as NDP members—but only a short time to do it. Even then, he is not likely to win on the first ballot.

Bear in mind that Andrew Scheer, the new Conservative leader came fifth in fundraising in that party’s leadership race. He was also given 12 to 1 odds by our Morning Line. He beat us all by being most Conservatives second choice.

As the voting for the NDP leadership is scheduled to begin September 18, we will be moving up our Morning Line on this race to August 28 to please some of our NDP readers.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Jagmeet Singh: Not just a pretty face.

Saturday, July 29th, 2017

The New Democratic Party’s federal leadership race is getting a little more heated. With less than two months to go, the race has taken on some disturbing aspects of the last Conservative leadership in Ontario. It is turning into Jagmeet Singh’s race to win if he is using the same tactics as Ontario Conservative winner Patrick Brown.

Brown looked at the almost one million recent immigrants in Ontario from South Asia (mainly Hindu, Sikh and Muslim from the Indian Sub-Continent) and signed up almost 40,000 temporary Conservatives. It is even easier for Jagmeet Singh to organize among this group than Brown and Singh can add another 30,000 potential supporters in B.C.

You can also assume that more than 50 per cent of the 100,000 plus NDP members are already from British Columbia and Ontario. And with all votes counting instead of balanced across the country, it is winning in those two provinces that matters.

And Quebec voters would be the least likely to support a party headed by a turbaned Sikh—no matter how much GQ Magazine admires and approves the rest of his attire.

The main difference between Conservative Brown and New Democratic Singh is that Jagmeet is a hero among the Canadian Sikh community. He has also supported Sikh candidates for the NDP across Canada.

Jagmeet (at 38) also has more life experience than contemporary Patrick Brown (at 39). Jagmeet has had considerably more experience and success as a lawyer than Brown, has proposed more bills in the Ontario Legislature than Brown did in both Ottawa and Queens’ Park and Brown would hardly want to even arm wrestle with a trained athlete such as Jagmeet.

Oddly enough neither Brown nor Singh has much to say about their policy direction. Brown does not seem to have any and Singh seems to be hoeing to the standard New Democratic policy book.

Whether either of these two men is at all ready to lead their respective parties anywhere is a very large question mark. The knives will be out for Brown after the next election in Ontario in June 2018. Jagmeet Singh would be wise to ride out that election as Ontario Deputy Leader and be ready to take over as Ontario leader when Andrea Horwath steps down. In the meantime, he can study where the NDP’s future might be.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Running in the Green.

Monday, July 24th, 2017

If the federal New Democratic Party is now Green, where does the Green Party get to go? Looking at NDP MP Niki Ashton’s pricy green plan, you really wonder about the grasp on reality of the entire party. Is this the party of Tommy Douglas that cared so much about people?

What really worries me is that Niki Ashton’s lead seems to be followed by each of the other leadership rivals. Each wants to be greener than the next. They are taking their party nowhere but down a rabbit hole.

Ashton even wants to spend green money. She has an elaborate plan to spend $10 billion every year to build green housing. Her plan reminds us of the Italian fascist corporations. There is one for each of four sectors to dole out government funds to green energy efforts. She thinks Canada can meet its emissions commitments five years earlier. That would be easy, if you just turn off the Alberta tar sands as the NDP LEAP Manifesto demands.

But none of this wishful thinking is telling Canadians where the candidates think the New Democrats are headed. What is the successor to socialism? What is it that Canadians really need in terms of direction from Ottawa? Are New Democrats really relevant?

Socialism with its 19th century roots is passé. When you realize that business can only exist as a servant of the people, it impacts your view of politics. The reality in this day and age is that our future is tied to left-wing liberalism under a social democratic umbrella. Instead of being based on a manifesto of complaints, this combined party needs a new direction based on an updated Rights of Men and Women. Think of what Bernie Sanders said in the last election in the United States—and look what the Americans got instead.

It is the future of our peoples we must care about. The environment is part of the living conditions we want for ourselves and our children’s children. They also need work that fulfills. They need complete health care that includes medicines and dental services. They need all the education that they can handle. We need a stable and adequate basic income guarantee for all.

Justin Trudeau has destroyed the Liberal Party and ‘Sunny Days’ are numbered. Canada needs a viable alternative on the left. Can anyone take the New Democrats into a possible future?

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Is there any hope for Horwath?

Monday, July 17th, 2017

Every once in a while, we are reminded that there are three parties at play for the right to hold the lease on the Pink Palace looking down University Avenue from Queen’s Park. We know lots about the Liberals that currently hold the lease. We know more than we want to know about the Conservatives and their corrupt leadership. What has us stumped is the lack of direction of Ontario’s New Democratic Party.

It is easy to blame NDP Leader Andrea Horwath. After eight years of her desultory leadership, you really wonder about the death wish of her and her party. If she ever had a good idea, the Liberals have stolen it. And she spends most of her time trying to explain why the Liberals are not going far enough or fast enough. Even when she is right, she does not have the political smarts to take advantage of being right.

Earlier this year, Horwath received a letter signed by 34-longtime party supporters in the Toronto area questioning her leadership. Frankly, they could have asked ‘What leadership?’ The very fact that one of those signatures was that of long-time NDP supporter Michele Landsberg, wife of former party leader Stephen Lewis, was serious enough.

You would think that Horwath would take some of this criticism to heart. She seems to have no understanding of the art of leadership. She almost seems to be apologizing for her concerns. Her policies appear to be borrowed from the right wing rather than developed on the left. She seems to lack any understanding at all for social democratic politics and where those politics could take us.

Given the chance to reprise her almost absent-minded campaign of 2014, Horwath will find herself well behind the political sentiment of the province. People are uneasy about the stability of the recently improved economy. The number of jobs might be growing but how many are part-time, lacking benefits and insecure? They see the political situation in the United States as dangling us over a precipice. They are worried about the chances of bringing the continued turmoil of the Middle East to North America.

What all Ontario parties lack is leadership. There is no trust for any of the three leaders or their parties. Leadership polls at this stage are meaningless. The election is scheduled for next June and somebody has to get serious.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

On being nice to Premier Wynne.

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

It could be hard to get used to doing this. The problem basically is that as a liberal all my life, it is very difficult to accept Kathleen Wynne as a liberal. She is not a liberal and I do not like the way she has been running Ontario.

But…(life is full of ‘Buts’ isn’t it?) what is the alternative? Our provincial New Democrats cannot find their way across Yonge Street. The NDP in this province has no future and appears to have no plans for one.

And the Ontario Conservatives are something mothers use to frighten disobedient children. The current leader of the Tories stole the leadership a couple years ago and since then has been searching for conservatives.

And Ontario’s Greens have never been in contention for anything.

Which brings us back to Granny Wynne. That woman has a death grip on the door to the Premier’s office. What she is really doing is threatening to take us back to the awful days of Mike Harris as Premier. Only this time, the choice is a political manipulator named Patrick Brown.

Kathleen Wynne tells everyone that she got into politics because of Mike Harris. The only reason she joined the Liberal Party was because Mike Harris was a Conservative. She thought the Liberals had a chance of unseating Harris.

But politically, Wynne is a reactionary. There is nothing progressive about her. She jumped into politics to fight against Harris’ move to amalgamate Metropolitan Toronto into a single city. It was probably the only progressive move he ever made. What Harris did not know to do was to give the politicians at Toronto City Hall the power to do their jobs. Anyone who thinks that city is well run needs to give their head a shake.

And how do you like the way Wynne sells off hydro distribution but leaves the liquor board wallowing in excess profits. If she had sold off the LCBO, the province could have made billions and still kept the revenue.

Not to mention the water torture she is putting us through in gradually introducing grocery store distribution of beer and wines. And have we seen any improvement in our Canada Pension Plan recently?

Yes, the bad news folks is that Granny Wynne might be your only choice in the election next year.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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