Posts Tagged ‘Provincial election’

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.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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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.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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The losers are lurking.

Friday, October 28th, 2016

It must be Halloween in the air. Losers from the last federal election are gathering. There will be a provincial election in 2018 and the Conservative losers from the last federal election are jockeying for nominations in provincial electoral districts.

The first of these Conservative nominations was for the upcoming bye-election in Niagara West-Glanbrook and former St. Catharines MP, as well as current provincial party president, Rick Dykstra lost to a young Brock University student running on a social conservative platform. While that electoral district might not be a Liberal stronghold, any campaign manager who cannot figure out how to defeat a home-schooled 19-year old social conservative should not be involved in politics.

In another age-related skirmish, defeated Conservative finance minister Joe Oliver, in the blue trunks and 76-years old, who lost in Eglinton-Lawrence last year, wants the Conservative nomination in York Centre where incumbent Liberal MPP Monte Kwinter, in the red trunks, is 85-years old. They should both do quite well in the riding’s retirement residences.

Another comer for Conservative party leader Patrick Brown is the famous former MP Paul Calandra. Many Canadians will remember his distress on crying in the House of Commons over his failed attempts to mislead the House when answering questions for his leader, Stephen Harper. He is from Markham but we are unsure where he might find a provincial electoral district suitable for his dramatic talents.

Even more interesting as a provincial possibility is the right-wing Bob Dechert from Mississauga. Dechert was the chap who, when serving as foreign affairs minister John Baird’s parliamentary secretary, was exchanging flirtatious e-mails with a lady who worked for the People’s Republic of China as a foreign correspondent (nobody admitted she was a spy). It was reported that it was the correspondent’s husband who broke into her e-mails and published them on the Internet to the considerable embarrassment of all concerned.

There are more hopefuls in the offing. One of the best bets is MP Tony Clement. He is a bit miffed with the federal scene since he found that nobody wanted to fund his run for the federal leadership. He has to be considering heading back to his halcyon days on the Mike Harris team at Queen’s Park. Not that working for Patrick Brown would be all that much fun but he is no heavy hitter in Ottawa.


Copyright 2016 © Peter Lowry

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No guts, no glory, no re-election.

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

Ontario’s Liberals have to stop whistling past the graveyard. That American idiom means that they are ignoring sure destruction. And nothing said it better than the recent rebooting of the Legislature with a joke of a throne speech read by the Lieutenant Governor.

It was no throne speech. It was a stop-gap to oblivion. It put another band aid on electricity rates and solved nothing. The problem quite frankly is that there is no one in the Legislature capable of running this province. There are no leaders. There is no direction.

Does anyone have any idea what Ms. Wynne’s political stance might be? We already know that the Conservative leader will go whatever way he can find some votes. And that silly New Democrat leader is nothing but a nebbish. Welcome to a province where the only option for the voter is to vote for ‘None of the above.’

The only policies we have seen Premier Wynne espouse are the ones she steals from other parties. She takes on the pension problems brought forward by the NDP and then steals their pledge to take the tax off electricity charges. Only—typical of her—she only goes part way. She gets lucky and dumps the pension problem to the Trudeau Liberals and then just gives a tax rebate on run-away electricity charges.

There is nothing any other party can think of that the Premier cannot find a way to handle conservatively. We should not forget the former PC Leader Timmy Hudak took the lead in suggesting liberalizing beer sales until somebody convinced him to turn off that tap.

But what Wynne is doing is ludicrous. She is actually allowing less than ten per cent of the large grocery stores to sell warm six-packs of beer. Not in this town though. The only place to buy beer downtown in this writer’s city of more than 135,000 is the province’s most disgusting beer store.

And the other day, Kathleen Wynne announced her ‘Liberal’ stalwarts to run the 2018 Liberal election effort. If these are the same Pat Sorbara and Vince Borg who wandered the halls at Queen’s Park some 30 years ago, we will not get our hopes up.

One of these days Ontario might finally have a government of grown-ups that will realize that selling off how you distribute electricity is a no-no and selling off the Liquor Control Board stores is the golden goose that can continue to pay off in gold.


Copyright 2016 © Peter Lowry

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Lessons to be learned in Alberta.

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

The May 5 provincial election in Alberta is unfolding as anticipated. With pundits panicking, reporters rebelling, it will only be the final poll next Tuesday that will tell the real story. And in this cautionary tale of political progress there are entrails to be read that can foretell the political future of other provinces if not the country.

The funniest stories of the current campaign are the ones that have editors’ lower jaws hitting their desks as they read of the possibility of a New Democrat majority in the Alberta Legislature. Before there is a serious up-tic in heart failure in Alberta, it is important to remember that when reporters are unable to report, they speculate. The only good stories these days from the province are of all the fun New Democrat Leader Rachel Notley is having at the other parties’ expense.

And, you have to face the fact that Jim Prentice’s campaign style is like dull piled on dull. The guy tries to act suave without necessarily being able to pronounce the word. Rachel Notley is dancing rings around him. Could you imagine what Ontario New Democrat Leader Andrea Horwath could do to Premier Kathleen Wynne if Horwath just had a sense of humour?

If you have any serious concerns about the continuing dynasty of the Alberta Conservatives, you might take heed to the recent Alberta Conservative budget. Prentice let ideology supplant good sense when he left Alberta with the lowest business tax in Canada. He is being seriously criticized for that in Alberta of all places. It goes to show you how times are changing.

There are some salutary thoughts in this criticism. The only cheerleaders for Joe Oliver’s recent federal budget are the advertisements that use taxpayer money to promote the Conservative Party. What those ads are buying is a great deal of cynicism. The blowback is hurting Conservatives first and all politicians second.

It is far too early to forecast anything other than the Alberta election at this time but all parties need to pay heed.

The Alberta Liberals could easily be cleared entirely from the provincial slate. That is a poor start on this fall’s federal election.

Wildrose has no justification other than to embarrass the Conservatives. They are losers.

It will be good to have Rachel Notley as Leader of the Opposition in the Alberta Legislature. It is like choosing a life-mate. If you have to have someone to nag you, it can be a better experience if the person is good looking and smart.


Copyright 2015 © Peter Lowry

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The Morning Line: Alberta 2015.

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

The May 5 provincial election in Alberta is something of a wake up call as Albertans shake themselves from the Tar Sands dream. It was probably the recent Prentice austerity budget more than anything else that told people that times are changing. There is no question but Albertans need to adapt to reality. There is just is no way they will like it.

In producing a Morning Line for this election you start by ignoring all the polls. Albertans lie to pollsters. They have been lying to them since the days of Bible Bill Aberhart. And if you had voted for Aberhart and his funny-money Social Credit, you would also have lied about it.

The only reality in this election is the 40-year record of the Longest Continuing Progressive Conservative dynasty. Prentice will not win the election with any rhetoric, he will just quietly accept the honour. The facts are that Albertans feel they have no choice. And they are hardly the type of people to take chances.

Progressive Conservative Party – 3 to 2

The only interesting question in the Alberta election is which party will come second. Rachel Notley and her New Democrats could be the comers. Notley has the political credentials and the trust that can make her the opposition leader. The provincial Liberals are lying low, waiting for the federal election and leaving the field open.

New Democratic Party – 5 to 1

And that leaves ‘what’s his name’ and the Wildrose Party. This situation is probably the hardest to read. The Wildrose is in disarray, lacking strong leadership or rational platform. It is difficult, even in Alberta, to be more right-wing than the Progressive Conservatives. It is too easy to think of Wildrose as a pale copy of the American Tea Party or the radical right of the federal Conservatives. Frankly, it looks like Jim Prentice’s strategy has hurt Wildrose more than him. It will be interesting to see the size of the rump that Wildrose will have in the Legislature after the election.

Wildrose Party – 12 to 1

To be fair, we should give a figure on the Alberta Liberal Party. The problem is we have never seen a situation where a mainstream party fails to nominate candidates in virtually every riding. A partial list is tantamount to surrender.

Alberta Liberal Party – 20 to 1


Copyright 2015 © Peter Lowry

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Alberta stumbles as the Hair’s empire crumbles.

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

There are at least a couple ridings in Alberta that could attract some smart Liberals for the federal election. Voters in that province are not stupid you know. They might also like to send a message to the Prime Minister after what he has helped to do to the province’s economy. The message is simply: Bye-bye Hair.

Canadians are inclined to forget much of what the Hair has done to this country over the past nine years. The effect of that bad stewardship has had an even worse effect on the province that gave him its 100 per cent support. That the Hair’s hopes were hollow is an understanding that came later to the West than the East.

But the voters can hardly send a message via Alberta’s provincial Conservatives in the Alberta election that could be held soon. The basic problem with that is that there is not much provincial opposition. The Wildrose Party has hardly recovered from the loss of a leader and most members who decided that being part of the government was more fun than being the opposition.

And they are still puzzling over the Prentice government promising in last week’s budget that the province can save $160 million on health care just through cutting excess spending and other efficiencies. That is a typical claim of Conservative politicians. If they can do that then some people should be fired for the misspending that was taking place before this budget. You would have to work far harder than those people usually work to misspend $160 million.

The only mistake by Prentice and his finance minister was in not including business in sharing some of the tax increases. This was more an ideological stance than any concern about the level of corporate taxes in Alberta. Alberta already has the lowest provincial corporate taxes in Canada. And, of course, there was no hint in the $5 billion deficit budget of there being a provincial sales tax.

But there are still many Albertans whose sense of entitlement has been shaken. When you take candy from children, they try to retaliate. Premier Jim Prentice might be right to get to the provincial election fast. It is like the theory of pulling off the band-aid quickly. If he can get it over with quickly, under the radar, he can leave the Hair to take the blame.


Copyright 2015 © Peter Lowry

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Come out, come out, wherever you are.

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

We know that Thomas Mulcair, Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition was at his party’s caucus meeting in St. John’s, Newfoundland. We assume he voted in the advance poll in Quebec but it is an interesting question as to which party he voted. Bob Rae and the Liberal Caucus were in Quebec and had ready comment on the Quebec election for the news media. It was a surprisingly shy Prime Minister Harper who was missing on the 10 pm news in Eastern Canada.

But then, Stephen Harper has been playing hide-and-seek with Canadians for most of the summer. In many ways, it added to the enjoyment of the pleasant summer weather.

But other than a comment earlier in the summer that he might launch a provincial NDP wing in Quebec sometime, Mulcair was also among the missing.

What does it say that the Federal Liberal MPs and senators were coincidently gathering at Montebello in Quebec? Timing is everything. Bob Rae, the news grabber that he is, knew to make the federal Liberals the saviours of the nation. The scene just needed appropriate music to give his statement the right drama.

There is no question that the federal Liberal MPs from Quebec are, collectively, far more experienced than the federal NDP members from that province. They continue to run rings around Mulcair’s people and have good access to the news media.

In contrast, Thomas Mulcair has to toe a very fine line in Quebec. His basic problem is that his NDP actually share the core vote in Quebec with the Parti Québécois. The PQ is the left of centre party in that province. There is no comfortable home in Quebec for a left-of-centre federalist. When you add the right-wing Liberal Party’s vote and the CAQ vote on Tuesday, you find that about 57 per cent of the voters opted for a federalist option (even if François Legault’s federalism seems temporary).

Keen observers of the Quebec scene are eagerly waiting for the re-opening of the inquiry into corruption in the construction industry. We expect that we might find that certain trades unions, some contractors and possibly some politicians have been chasing their tails for payoffs. We can all agree that cleaning up the construction industry in Quebec is long overdue.

While it will be very much a step backward, Mulcair will probably find that a cleaned up construction industry can give him a base of union support for a provincial New Democratic Party. It could ultimately relegate the Parti Québécois to the fringe party status that it deserves.


Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry

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Wildrose are Stephen Harper’s volk.

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

You can imagine the Wildrose Alliance adherents gathering their belongings and families, loading their Voortrekker wagons, shouldering their long guns and setting off north to new lands. They are a tough breed. It is too bad that the tundra to the north of Alberta is so forbidding. They hardly want to go there. And their real leader, Stephen Harper, is too busy in Ottawa to lead them.

It means the spaced-out Trekees of the Wildrose Alliance will have to suck it up for the next four years. Alison Redford is Premier with a 61-member majority and the rabid Wildrose supporters will have to settle for Redford’s watered down Conservatism. She will have an opposition made up of Danielle Smith and more than dozen Wildrose snapping at her heels. That must not be a pleasant prospect for Redford after seeing how comfortable Smith is with the media and how they respond to her.

It was the media that almost made Smith the winner. With Tom Flanagan manipulating the Wildrose campaign, the media followed his trail of bread crumbs to favourable polls. Some of those polls were quite fanciful and the news media obviously wanted to be suckered into believing and reporting them.

But Flanagan went too far. His propaganda campaign for Wildrose reached such a crescendo of conviction that it scared many of Alberta’s Liberal party supporters. Enough of these stalwarts switched their votes to keep Smith and her Libertarian mob out. The Liberal voters opted to support the less strident and more trusted Progressive Conservatives. It leaves the real, non-Conservative opposition in the Alberta Legislature to five Liberals and four NDPers until the next election.

What is really scary about Smith is her loose cannon approach to Canadian politics. While she calls herself a Libertarian, it is not a term for which academics can agree on a definition, nor do most people understand the implications of the term. Yet, it is probably the only word that describes her extreme conservative views other than a comparison to the American Tea Party. There have been many groups such as the Tea Party emerge from the American southwest over the years. They are something that should be kept in the closet and only brought out to scare the kids on Halloween.

Sometimes, you get the feeling that Prime Minister Harper wants to keep the extremists around to make him look almost sensible. The only problem is that when you check back over some of the diatribes Harper used to write for the National Citizens Coalition (NCC), you realize he and Danielle Smith are reading from the same page.


Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry

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The need to play nice in the Ontario legislature.

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

After a particularly uninformative and poorly resolved election in Ontario last year, the political parties are not playing well together. With McGuinty’s Liberals just two seats short of a majority, everyone is posturing and giving the other guys the raspberry. It is a fractious and unproductive place.

Tiny Tim Hudak has a tenuous grip on the reins of his second place Conservatives. When the Liberals brought out their budget a few weeks ago, Tiny Tim and his team took their bats and went home to sulk. It was above their intellectual pay grade to come up with any improvement in what was basically a conservative budget anyway.

Andrea Horwath and her bunch had the balls to stay and play. They decided to use the opportunity to embarrass McGuinty’s bumblers and their budget. Horwath used the Chinese torture technique and dribbled out the conditions for cooperation over the interval. McGuinty played into her hands by swinging at the first pitch. He did not understand that she was just warming up.

What hit pay dirt with Ontario’s voters was Horwath’s proposal to tax the rich. That got them. It was simplistic. The public was tuned in to it because of the ‘Occupy’ movement. And McGuinty had stupidly promised that he would not raise taxes. Why he had made such a promise was not clear to anyone. All it does is give legitimacy to the Conservatives and their extremist supporters.

And now all the kids are positioning themselves for an election. An election at this stage would be like the book Hunger Games, only nobody wins. It hardly takes a genius to realize that by destroying McGuinty, Horwath will let Tiny Tim and the horde of the Ontario Landowners through the gates of Ontario’s Capitol.

Not that an election is not needed. Our problem in Ontario is that we have three party leaders who really need to go. Dalton McGuinty is a noose around the neck of the Liberals. He is right wing, unimaginative, dull and hardly what Ontario needs at this time.

Andrea Horwath has never been able to live up to her potential. Every time she shows a bit of smarts, she surprises herself and she pulls her head back into her shell. If she had just paid attention to what Jack Layton did with the federal wing of her party in the last election. He obviously knew he had nothing to lose and he went for the brass ring. The result was not pretty but he did it.

But then you think of how the party of Bill Davis in Ontario has sunk so low. Tiny Tim Hudak is not only an embarrassment to the former Progressive Conservatives but the Ontario Landowners and Harrisites also want him gone. Maybe if they send him on a world cruise during an election he might give his party a chance.

The question is: Which party can get rid of its leader first?


Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry

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