Posts Tagged ‘Trudeau’

Ford Forestalls Hillier’s Hussars.

Thursday, March 21st, 2019

It might not be up to the standards of Alfred Lord Tennyson’s Charge of the Light Brigade but somebody should have warned Ontario premier Doug Ford before he got into a squabble with the caucus bad boy of the Ontario Tories. Oh well, Ford is due for a drubbing anyway.

Ford and his lackies have no idea of what kind of a fight they are in for when they get Randy Hellier pissed. Randy is to the extreme of the right wing of the Tory caucus at Queen’s Park. Hell, this is the guy who launched the Ontario Landowners. And any MPP from Queen’s Park who does not know the Landowners, had better not turn their back when those people start tearing down Ontario’s wind turbines. And they think Randy is irrational?

Ford’s problem with Hillier is that most of the people who know them both are betting on Randy. Compared to Ford, the Eastern Ontario MPP from Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston is a staunch conservative. The premier is just a conservative when it benefits him. He is a populist who colours way outside the party line.

And Randy does not like it that he and the rest of the back-bench sheep are supposed to stand and applaud every time Ford or one of his cabinet ministers makes a statement in the House. Why would you applaud someone who just proved they can read simple and probably less than truthful words?

Ford is also furious with Randy for telling people that his friends and advisers are lobbying illegally. This has caused the hopeless NDP caucus to ask for the Ontario Provincial Police to investigate.

It is also likely, but unproven, that Hillier was turfed from caucus for not showing the right attitude in caucus meetings. It seems that the time-honoured tradition of MPPs telling their leader what constituents’ really think of the government’s efforts is not welcomed by Mr. Ford.

But for all of Randy’s failings, nobody should have accused him of saying ‘Yada, yada, yada,’ to parents of Autistic children. He is something of a trouble maker but he is not unfeeling. With the way the NDP do go on about their concerns, he would be much more likely to say it to their members.

I always liked Pierre Trudeau’s solution to some of the trouble makers in caucus. He would put them in cabinet.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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Something for everyone; Nothing for all.

Wednesday, March 20th, 2019

There is supposed to be a little something for everybody and it turns out there is nothing overly impressive for anybody. It is a strange feeling going over this federal budget. Nothing is particularly surprising. Nothing impresses.

What is with these Liberals? They are a big tent of neoliberals, right-wing liberals, condescending liberals, lying liberals and honest liberals, do-gooders and progressives. I am a liberal and they make me want to have another shower. It makes me wonder what, if anything, these cynical people believe in?

Where are the big ideas? Pharmacare is coming, or is it on hold? At least adding that key step to Medicare would have been something to hold on to. I have always believed that if you were going into debt for something, make sure it is worthwhile.

This is a country that was created on a ribbon of steel for trains that ran from coast to coast. Was John A. Macdonald the last visionary? Where are the high-speed electric trains that this country needs today?

Sure, our cities need infrastructure help. That might sound like a lot of money to help the cities but we know they need far more. It is like the nickel-diming of skills training. Cheapskates!

Look, I am glad that we have pulled more than a quarter million children out of child poverty. Do we now have to drive a million seniors into poverty to pay for it?

I am not saying that this is a Morneau budget. That finance minister is a neoliberal and this is what he thought people wanted. If I had been in the House for the reading, I would have helped the opposition shout him down.

It reminds me of the last will and testament from the Ontario finance minister last year before the Wynne government fell to the Huns.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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The perils of punditry.

Tuesday, March 12th, 2019

Despite putting the idea aside a number of times, I have made the effort to stay away from comparing Pierre Trudeau in 1972 to Justin Trudeau in 2019. I was sitting in the boardroom of the principal advertising agency for the liberal party that evening in 1972 when Pierre announced that the writ of election would be dropped. When he also announced his campaign slogan, “The Land is Strong” many of us threw up our hands and went home.

It was only the herculean efforts of then Senator Keith Davey that brought many of us liberals back to the campaign trenches and to rescue what we could of a bad campaign. Oddly enough, Justin Trudeau gets a credit also in that campaign. Born the Christmas before, the pictures of him with his father and mother helped soften the image of an arrogant Pierre Trudeau.

A big part of Keith Davey’s job through the 70s was to convince Pierre Trudeau that arrogance does not work. Who there is who can convince the younger Trudeau to be less arrogant is concerning?

At least we had a good laugh the other day when NDP guru Val Sears pontificated that voters respected the 1972 conservative leader Robert Stanfield who won 107 seats to the liberal’s 109. Sears suggested that David Lewis, the then leader of the NDP, was ‘yesterday’s man.’ Au contraire, it was Lewis who was highly regarded and who supported the weakened liberals.

The changes in the Prime Minister’s Office after the 1972 election were dramatic. Politically astute people could find work there. And there was a ‘Chinese Wall’ created between the Privy Council Office and the PMO that had not been observed between ’68 and ’72. (It is something Michael Wernick, current Secretary of the Privy Council, should make an effort to maintain.)

I always admired Pierre Trudeau for admitting his mistakes from 1968 to 1972. He brought about a sea change in Canadian politics and it was not just “fuddle-duddle.”


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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Watering the wine of Canadian politics.

Monday, March 11th, 2019

Canadians deserve better. We are promised much but so little is delivered. Prime minister Justin Trudeau promised doctor assisted suicide to relieve people the pains of protracted death and all Canadians got was some comfort for the rich. He promised voting reform but had never thought it through. He has talked about the middle class only because most Canadians think of themselves as middle class. He goes where the votes are.

But you cannot declare yourself a feminist and show yourself to be impatient with the women who work with you. You cannot promise to protect the environment and then push pipelines for the highly polluting tar sands bitumen.

It is surprising that there are not more liberals across Canada wondering where the Justin’s liberalism went. The steadiest hand in the federal cabinet is that conservative Goodale from Saskatchewan. The finance minister is an elitist neoliberal from Toronto’s upper crust. The foreign affairs minister is a reporter. Reporters are people who write stories about what is happening; foreign affairs ministers have to solve problems with diplomacy.

And when does she and that pussy of a prime minister get to read the riot act to that jerk in the American White House? Do we let that guy screw around with us because we are such good neighbours? Good neighbours tell their neighbours the truth.

Failing us in Senate reform was one of the problems that brought down the Harper government. Trudeau’s solution is elitist. He has an elite committee that looks for appointments among the elite and then he appoints them as independents to study and approve laws passed by the elected House of Commons.

And when is Justin going to unwrap the Pharmacare plan we have been waiting for? Everything we are hearing about this meager plan has us more and more concerned that it will be just another half step. More water in the wine of liberalism.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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The storms on the Yellow Brick Road.

Sunday, March 10th, 2019

As we battle our way to the Land of OZ and the looming federal election, what we are hearing across the land is becoming more and more concerning. When normally respectful and erudite people vent with expletives, they are angry. When the prime minister of our country calls a public news conference and offers bafflegab instead of contrition, you know he is out of touch.

We have not heard the last of the Jody Wilson-Raybould affair. A woman scorned, she has friends. Some of the answers are simmering in the liberal caucus in Ottawa. Why did Jane Philpott step out? The liberals are not listening to the call to arms. And why should they?

But where does that leave us? Did we ignore the lesson learned last year in Ontario? Can we Ontario voters so easily afford the cost of the incompetence of the conservatives under Doug Ford?

Could the country afford the incompetence of a Harper-lite conservative such as ‘Chuckles’ Scheer? This guy cannot even tell the difference between a pratfall by the government and a criminal act. Why should he be calling for an RCMP investigation of confusion in the federal cabinet? The RCMP does not oversee the cabinet.

All Scheer seems to be is a spokesman for the Alberta and Saskatchewan conservatives. He offers nothing other than Harper-redux. He just is not as wily. Scheer has little to offer Canadian voters.

And then you have the new democrats. Here you have a party with no policies, no program and no real leadership. It is a party that is failing to live up to its billing.

But there is hope boys and girls: There are new parties on the horizon. I think that Elizabeth May is one tough leader. Her only problem is she has no party behind her and no reason for you to vote for them. The liberals and the NDP will tell you that they care about the environment. Some of us really do.

And to Chuckles’ consternation, there is the People’s Party of Canada that is going to try to take right-wing votes from the tired Tories in October. Party leader MP Maxime Bernier is out to show those conservatives that they really should have picked him as leader at their last leadership contest.

One thing that I discovered many years ago is that you cannot change any political party by carping at it from the outside. The changes must be made from within. It is why I have been a liberal for many years. I just wish there was more help available to bring the liberal party back to a position of respect.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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No Butts about it!

Thursday, March 7th, 2019

With the Trudeau government, even a recently-resigned principal secretary to the prime minister sticks to the talking points. Gerald Butts appeared before the Commons justice committee yesterday and tried valiantly to salvage what he could of the reputation of the liberal government. He danced a fine line between trashing the reputation of the former attorney general and justice minister and accepting the blame for running an incompetent prime minister’s office (PMO).

The talking points of the day were about those 9000 jobs at SNC-Lavalin of which his dear friend Jody Wilson-Raybould was so dismissive. It seems that in eight days between her returning from a trip to Australia last September and the steady stream of colleagues suggesting to her that she look kindly on SNC-Lavalin, Wilson-Raybould had decided to trash the Quebec engineering giant. The only problem was that this compulsive note taker forgot to tell anyone (other that the prime minister, it turns out) that she had made up her mind. In fact, she did not even mention it until she had been demoted to a lesser portfolio in cabinet.

And that, coincidently, was the same time as she started to feel the pressure that people had put on her through the end of 2018. And if you think that was bad news, Wilson-Raybould’s fellow liberal cabinet member Jane Philpott quit cabinet in sympathy with her friend Jody.

Thanks to the hard work of enquiring reporters, we soon learned that this was not the beginning of a major revolt against the prime minister. It is the opposition in parliament who appear to think that this is a second Christmas with the poll takers saying that only opposition parties are getting the fall-out.

Mind you, watching those carrying-ons in Ottawa is never going to replace Hockey Night in Canada for many Canadians. And why do we get the feeling that there is no adult supervision at that kindergarten on the Rideau? The time is long past for Justin Trudeau to show some contrition. He had better start explaining himself. And forget the wussy statements about being a feminist or an environmentalist. Those ships have sailed.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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The Silence of the Liberals.

Tuesday, March 5th, 2019

It is a time of quiet. Yet the storm is gathering. It is a time of assessment, we have little confidence of the future. The feeling of disappointment is real. We bought the early confidence. We reveled in those sunny ways. We cheered: the king is dead; Long live the king.

But this king has shown his feet of clay. He has put neoliberalism ahead of the freedoms we all believed in. He put Quebec’s SNC-Lavalin ahead of honour. He demoted and maligned an honourable colleague. She did the job he gave her with responsibility and honesty. He brought the dishonour of SNC-Lavalin onto his party.

And what say you, liberals? Are Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott the only persons of honour among you? Are you but sheep to be shorn and slaughtered? Are you but the viand of a long winter still to come?

But what of the other members of cabinet and parliament? Is there no honour among the party caucus? Are the caucus members to be abused, used and tossed aside in the maelstrom of the election to come?

Canadians are not just concerned and disquieted. They have realized they are being lied to and leaderless.

The three major party leaders in Canada are a shameful and disappointing sham. And there will be no uprising in the ranks of their MPs. The leader of each party has a firm lock on the future of any MP in their party ranks with aspirations. Each controls his party organization. Each controls the selection of potential MPs. Can a caucus revolt even happen?

And what hope is there for a political party that does not exist? At the Winnipeg meeting of the liberal party in 2016, the quiescent liberals voted themselves out of existence. There is no membership in the liberal party of Canada. There is no party with which to have pride in association. There are just lists of names. These are people to be harried constantly for money. This party does not run on ideals and policies and honour anymore, it runs only on money.

We live in interesting times.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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Trudeau takes on the Truth-Teller.

Thursday, February 28th, 2019

The streaming video from CBC News in Ottawa on Wednesday afternoon was a time of truth. There was absolutely no reason to disbelieve former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould. She was obviously under intense pressure in that job to take the well-traveled political road and save Quebec’s SNC-Lavalin from criminal prosecution. And they lied about it to Canadians. The prime minister lied. The clerk of the Privy Council lied. The prime minister’s principal secretary lied and must have resigned because of that lie.

But no laws where broken. Just hearts. It was a failure in trust. Nobody needed to prove that politicians lie. It was the political road so often taken. The prime minister’s principal secretary cannot take all the blame.

There must be consequences. Justin Trudeau lied to us. His is the most important position of trust in the country. He cannot continue in that position without redemption. He has few options:

His first option is to resign. And would that not leave us in a mess? There is barely time to pick a new liberal leader and have the federal election in October.

Another option is to have the writ dropped for the election immediately. At this time of year, it is the equivalent to an icy dip in a frozen lake. It might be cathartic.

Or Justin Trudeau can brazen it out. We already know he wants to be a poster boy for the environment and own a highly polluting bitumen pipeline too. He wallows in that hypocrisy like a pig in mud. His only saving grace is that his opponents have their own problems. He might be better than the alternatives. He will certainly deserve a strong vote in Quebec for his support for saving SNC-Lavalin. The company will probably just move to another country that understands bribery.

But it seems Justin Trudeau does deserve a spanking for lying to us. Considering the alternatives, I might just settle for some contrition.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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An unscientific method.

Wednesday, February 27th, 2019

On Global’s West Block public affairs show on Sunday, two of the Toronto Star’s remuda of political pundits voiced their opinions on the Monday by-election in Vancouver’s Burnaby South. They both picked new democrat leader Jagmeet Singh. If you were only going to guess at the outcome, that was a good guess. Even if I was still handicapping politics, I would likely have come to the same conclusion.

But I would not have been guessing. The key to political handicapping is to not believe what others report on the workouts. When needing to know, I often grabbed some literature from the committee rooms and went out to explore the riding. I have been told it is very unscientific to select neighbourhoods, knock on random doors and talk to the homeowners. Yet, I cannot find a simpler way to find out why people are likely to vote or not, support one candidate over others and how deeply they feel about the issues.

In a by-election, motivating the voters to go to the polls is your major challenge. You can have many voters telling you that you have their support but if you have no ground game to get them to the polls, you have wasted your time.

And that challenge can be doubly hard in a general election. The pressure is on the average voter to get out to the polls and if they do not know who to vote for, your efforts can be wasted. A good ground game can come to the rescue.

The only problem is that a good ground game takes extensive organization, hard work, long hours, careful planning and always with backups for your back-up plans.

It was a bit of a shock to the system when I moved from Toronto up to Barrie in central Ontario. There are a band of rural electoral districts stretching from Ottawa all the way to Windsor, that are dominated by conservatives. And they have also mastered the ground game.

It is too bad that liberal leader Justin Trudeau does not understand the importance of giving people involvement in their party.  It enables the party to mount a strong ground game in many electoral districts.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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Who quits for no reason?

Friday, February 22nd, 2019

Being principal secretary to the prime minister is no flunky appointment. It is a position of high trust and higher pay. I have known various people in the role, both liberal and conservative, over the years. From the time that Marc LaLonde kidded some of us insiders that all he wanted to be was an ‘éminence gris’ and his friend Pierre Trudeau asked him to be his principal secretary, to the surprise resignation of Justin Trudeau’s friend Gerald Butts the other day, nobody has made a lasting career of the job.

The difference was that Marc’s experience with the Privy Council Office was invaluable to Pierre Trudeau in penetrating the layers of the government power structure in 1968. It took time, but they wrested the power from the bureaucrats and gave it to the cabinet members.

In selecting Butts as principal secretary, Justin Trudeau had a friend at his back but not much help. Their talents were similar instead of complementary. You are better to have someone in that job who is yin to your yang.

As obvious as it was in the 2015 election, that the troika of Butts, Telford and Trudeau running the liberal campaign were novices, the outcome was easily forecast. It was theirs for the taking. It was a time for change. There were some foolish promises and failed promises.

But the honeymoon is over. The realities of office are more than selfies and fun in the sun. It is time when there were some adult hands at the helm. You cannot be a conservationist and a pipeline owner. You cannot be a feminist and demote a competent woman. You cannot pretend to offer olive branches and try to destroy minor opposition. You cannot just brush off promises made, promises broken.

You cannot turn the liberal party into your personal fund pool and expect them to also man the barricades when you need a ground game. You cannot promise democracy and act as an autocrat.

At a time when we need competent leadership, there is so little from which to choose.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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