Posts Tagged ‘Trudeau’

Our Prime Minister grunts.

Thursday, July 20th, 2017

Despite teaching public speaking, I occasionally took someone else’s course on public speaking just to make sure I was not slipping into bad speaking habits. We are all guilty of that. And teachers can be the harshest critics. You can include a former school teacher in that: The Prime Minister of Canada.

The first time I saw the newly elected Justin Trudeau MP in action with an audience, it was obvious he would go to the top job with ease. He was relaxed and enjoyed the interaction with his audience. He had a well memorized speech for them and I cannot remember a single word in it. It was personable, socially acceptable, politically somewhat neutral, feminist friendly and not overly critical of other politicians. The person thanking him was more political but for some reason the microphone started to act up for her and the thanks became meaningless and garbled.

But what impressed me the most is that he wanted to be sure that every person in that room had an opportunity to have a picture with him. He did not give much importance to the words being spoken. He was counting on his presence to do the job.

And here I thought only royalty were allowed to think that way.

But today, people are listening to him.

And that is not good because Justin Trudeau grunts. In this case the grunt comes out of his mouth as an “Ah.” This is a quirk of people who are thinking about what they intend to say next and are afraid of dead air. The “Ah” is drawn out to accommodate the thinking time needed. It becomes irritating.

You would have to get him to listen to a recording of his speech for him to realize what he is doing.

Luckily, when he is using a teleprompter, he does not have to grunt. There is no “Ah’ for him to read and he has little need to think ahead.

Where the grunts are most evident is in the House of Commons when he is answering the opposition and when answering media questions. He starts to talk before he has decided how to answer the question. He needs some remedial public speaking training.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Who’s congratulating Trudeau?

Tuesday, July 18th, 2017

Stephen Harper’s PMO had a revolving door for communications people, so it is not too surprising if we do not remember one of them. This is in reference to an op-ed in the Toronto Star last week by someone named ‘MacDougall.’ What was noticeable about the article was that he claims to be a Tory and was congratulating the Liberal prime minister. How rare is that?

This Conservative communications expert was congratulating Justin Trudeau for the smart way he is handling Donald Trump. What else can our prime minister do? Donald Trump is a 70-year old dirty old man who has landed in the White House. He acts like an uncontrollable 12-year old. And since he is president, you are not allowed to spank him.

Of course, Trudeau is trying to do a work-around. He had appointed David MacNaughton as ambassador to Washington before Trump rose to a level of concern on the horizon. The job was MacNaughton’s pay-off for the slip-shod effort he did in running Ontario for the Liberals in the last election. Trudeau might still have to replace him with someone with more diplomatic skills and knowledge of American politics and politicians.

Canadian diplomacy has come a long way since the quintessential diplomat Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson was dressed down by President Lyndon Johnson for “pissing on his rug.”

And only a conservative would think it was a win for Trump to approve the Keystone XL pipeline for Justin Trudeau. Pipelines for bitumen are the noose that will eventually hang our ’ecology-minded’ Trudeau.

And the writer might have thought we handled the milk production charges with derision but anyone knowledgeable knew that the NAFTA milk concerns sit entirely on the U.S. side of the border. Overproduction is a U.S. problem when you consider that Wisconsin has more dairy cows than all of Canada.

Usually in politics when someone pats you on the back as effusively as Mr. MacDougall, you expect he is checking for the best place to thrust the (rhetorical) knife. We better keep an eye on him.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

 

The tremors of Trump.

Saturday, July 1st, 2017

Each year at this time, we do a little introspection. While Canada Day 2017 is as joyous as ever, we feel it is the impact of the American President that causes those ground tremors we are feeling. The man seems to stomp a lot.

At first, we were under the impression that he might just ignore Canada. Oh well, so much for that hope! We sent our Prime Minister down to the White House with a welcoming casserole but President Trump was not that interested. It did not seem to matter that Justin thought he had made another friend.

And maybe not. That ignorant man in the White House soon brought up the old chestnut about softwood lumber and threw in milk for good measure. Mr. Trump has never learned how to be a good neighbour. All he accomplished was to drive up the price of new homes on the American west coast and embarrass Wisconsin dairy farmers. The happy lumber kings of Oregon and Washington are making a killing. It was President Trump’s way of saying he wants to renegotiate the North-American trade deal between The U.S., Mexico and Canada.

The only problem is that Mr. Trump’s version of negotiating is to bully, cheat, lie and steal. There is no honour in a Trump style deal. That is how he made his billions whereby he could buy his way to the American presidency.

But deals between sovereign nations are based on good faith. That is an essential component of trade agreements. The objective to be negotiated has to be fair to all parties. And fairness is not just a word on paper, it has to be the perception of all parties.

No doubt both Canadian and Mexican negotiators will also bring their lists of trade irritants to the treaty meetings. Mr. Trump will soon learn that he cannot bully his way to creating advantage from a deal entered in good faith.

While most Canadians appear to consider President Trump to be something of a horse’s ass, we can expect him to be around for a while. He will continue to be stomping on things he should not. He is our neighbour and we might as well get used to him.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

The anger factor.

Thursday, June 22nd, 2017

A reader on the west coast asked the other day if we are seeing anger in Liberal ranks directed at Prime Minister Trudeau’s disrespect for the party? What was strange about the question was that most of that anger is building on the west coast. The flash point will be the funding and tooling up of the of the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion over the Rockies.

Anger is the emotion you look for in politics. We saw it in the United States over the last election. We knew that Americans of all political leanings were angry at the stalemates and infighting of their congress. In Canada, we were angry at the arrogance of the Harper government. In England, it was the feeling of helplessness as a member of the European Union: enter Brexit.

And now that same English anger is re-directed at Prime Minister May. The French took out their angst on their right wing. Anger in itself is not political; reaction becomes political.

No doubt many psychologists have published learned papers on this anger. There is really mothing new about it in politics. Anger is a blunt instrument used by politicians at their peril. The key is to lead, to direct the mob against a person, party, race, religion, tribe or nation. Blowback is when the mob knows they have been used.

But you can never tell a mob that they are being used. Just think of the last time you tried to convert a Donald Trump supporter? That person has all their hopes and fears wrapped up in the promises of a professional con-man. Deprogramming the true believer is no easy task.

And what is really frustrating is the rejection of logic. You can use the simplest of easy to understand logic and your argument will be rejected. The true Trump supporter does not care. They want their pound of flesh at any price. They do not care what the cost is to them.

Given time, people such as Donald Trump destroy themselves. He is already showing his distaste for the job he thought he wanted. It is not offering him the satisfaction he expected. He is still hitting out at supposed enemies. He needs to spend more time playing golf.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Trudeau: Poster Boy or Action Figure?

Sunday, June 18th, 2017

Goodness! Is Prime Minister Justin Trudeau being criticized for not living up to his promises? Is he just a poster boy? Why is he not living up to his billing? He will have two years as prime minister in his pocket this October and some people are starting to have doubts.

What is the problem? Is he marching to a different drummer than what he promised Canadians? The transparency in parliament and the collegial atmosphere he promised there seem to be forgotten. His purported feminist support—because it is 2015—seems more like using neophytes as cannon fodder. He seems to have no urge to solve his cabinet problems.

What ties this liberal in knots is the why of his continued abuse of the Liberal Party. Today’s Liberals are not his father’s party. All the party is allowed to be is a mailing list for pleas for money. It is a propaganda mechanism and a source of suckers for fund-raising. The party that was has been gutted. The party executive are just yes-men and women. There is no policy discussion. The Leader is in control.

Justin Trudeau seems to live in some elite world of a monied aristocracy that only communicates with other elites. The only problem is that they seem to be running out of elites and nothing is happening on some serious appointments. He can hardly promise impartiality and then throw a Liberal hack on the table for an impartial position. Nobody tries hard to keep their word.

It is not like a promise that the 2015 election would be the last under first-past-the-post voting. That was a foolish promise that was proved impractical by parliamentarians giving up their summer last year to study it.

And, sorry Justin, you are not allowed to change the rules in parliament to suit your own wishes. Parliament belongs to the people. It has to be open and be fair to all parties.

Justin also needs to understand that he cannot suck and blow at the same time. If you are going to be the poster boy for the environment, you cannot send three times the amount of diluted bitumen over the Rockies on the Kinder Morgan pipeline. It makes you look like a hypocrite.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

En Marche Macron!

Thursday, June 15th, 2017

Did you know that French President Emmanuel Macron’s political party has only existed for a little more than a year? More than 66 per cent of French voters gave 39-year old Macron their support in the run-off election against right-wing candidate Marine La Pen. The party is reported to be fielding a full slate of candidates in the legislative elections under the banner of La République En Marche from its En Marche members, the Social Democrats and dissidents from the Socialist, Republican and minor parties. The Macron story has a cautionary tale in it for the Liberal Party of Canada.

En Marche is described as both socially and economically liberal. In France, that is thought of as being of the radical centre. It has much of the promise of the UK’s Tony Blair and American Bill Clinton’s previously proposed Third Way and it is the kind of social democratic party promised by Bernie Sanders in the United States last year. It is also the kind of party Justin Trudeau promised Canadians but so far has failed to deliver.

While one gets the impression that his predecessor President François Hollande considers him something of an ‘Enfant Terrible,’ Macron described himself as a centrist even when a member of the socialists. Based on his published economic promises and speeches, academics also consider him a centrist. Mind you, French politicians have a reputation of being Bolsheviks at breakfast, liberals over lunch and dogmatic conservatives by dinner time.

President Macron and Prime Minister Trudeau should get on well. With Trump replacing Obama on the international scene, Macron and Trudeau should be natural allies. And along with Germany’s Angela Merkle, they can dominate the G-20 countries and speak as one to Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

There is also no question that Macron and Trudeau will be the strong force in the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie.

Now if some of Macron’s thirst for action just rubs off on Trudeau!

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Choosing a Conservative caretaker.

Thursday, June 1st, 2017

The Conservative Party hierarchy could not have the better fall guy for the next federal election. Whomever came up with the convoluted voting system that was used to choose this poor guy last weekend might have saved the party years in the wilderness.

It will likely be 2023 before the Conservative Party comes roaring out of the west again. Caretaker Andrew Scheer will be expected to fall on his sword after the 2019 election and make room for a more dynamic leader.

The party’s real leader, to be chosen in 2021, could be young enough today to just be completing a dissertation at the right school. There is still much planning to be done to define the challenges and words of this new leader.

In the meantime, caretaker Scheer has his job defined. He has a caucus to cull. Lacking the tools that the job of Prime Minister offers, he has to make sure that the right MPs get the right opportunities to speak for the party. You need to watch and see who the key shadow ministers are that he selects. He has the experience as speaker and in caucus since the loss in 2015 to make the right selections.

In the background, he has to help build the team that will take the party through the cleansing cauldron of the next election in 2019. Knowing how unlikely it is to squeak through a win, it is the selection and placement of candidates that will create the strong base for the next leader. One of these new candidates is likely to be the pre-selected next leader. This leader will need a stronger, more determined and directed caucus.

The only danger for the backroom politicos pulling the strings on this scenario is that caretaker ‘Chuckles’ Scheer gets the bit in his teeth and goes for the long-shot win in 2019. It is unlikely because it is not his style nor is he ready to defy the odds or the party.

And, when you think about it, the only reason Scheer won the Conservative Party leadership was the strength of the social conservative members of the party combined with the anger Maxime Bernier earned from his province’s dairy farmers. Those farmers came close to defeating Bernier in his own riding. It was only Kevin O’Leary’s unwelcome interference in the race that gave Bernier the early impetuous in the voting.

In the meantime, Justin Trudeau can look forward to the 2019 election as a free pass. We should only hope that he makes good use of the time.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Why progressive elites are losing.

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

In the Senate: “Some are more equal.”

Thursday, May 4th, 2017

In George Orwell’s Animal Farm we were told that some animals are more equal than others. This makes it an appropriate analogy for the institution in Canada known as the senate. The senate was created 150 years ago as a chamber of sober second thought to rein in any excesses of the citizens elected to the house of commons.

But nobody ever thought about the possible excesses of the citizens selected to serve in the senate. Can the senate write its own rules as to who is fit to serve in the institution? Are some animals more equal than others?

And it is not just today’s controversial senator. The senate has had its rogues going back more than 100 years. When you give people carte blanche, you often get individuals who want to steal the carte! Greed and avarice are not just conditions of those deprived in life.

Are all senators pure of heart? What is the point of being a senator if what the senate really represents is entitlement? Whether it is creature comforts in the perks or sexual gratification, some will always go further than others in fulfilling needs.

And are we going to allow the senators to police themselves? When the power of appointment rests solely with the prime minister, how can the senate bar a member? The senator serves to age 75. There is no mechanism nor custom other than a failure to attend for a period of time to remove a senator from office. They are all honourable persons.

The only answer is to amend Canada’s constitution. The writer once discussed that with the prime minister and was surprised at the vehemence with which that option was rejected. As a child, Justin Trudeau saw his father struggling with the constitutional conundrum of Canada. He wants no part of dealing with the constitution.

It must be part of the reason the prime minister gave up on his promise to change how Canada votes. While the act of voting is one change that can escape our constitutional straightjacket, it would take constitutional change in how parliament functions to then make a voting change work effectively.

Constitutional change must happen eventually. With the imbalance of Canada’s provinces, the commitments to provincial rights and outdated religious school commitments, our constitution has to be rescued from the 19th Century. The world keeps changing and Canada has to have a government that can deal with the issues of the times.

In these times, only an elected constitutional conference to find a new framework, can be considered. Even then, all citizens should have a say on what is implemented.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

The myth of being Liberal.

Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

One of our respected progressive bloggers from British Columbia wrote recently something less than a paean (song of praise) about the Liberals in that province. His thesis is that B.C. Liberals are just Conservatives in sheep’s clothing and now the federal sheep have joined them. He insists that the Liberal ideal has vanished from Canada.

His is the logical conclusion. Canada’s three largest provincial governments have governments that are Liberal in name only. The Quebec Liberals are the successors to the right-wing Union Nationale and are interchangeable with the federal Conservatives. Ontario’s Liberals might pose as left wing but are hard-nosed and conservative when it comes to economics. They operate under the direction of Bay Street. The B.C. Liberals are in turn bought and paid for by business interests who see the beauty and majesty of the province only in terms of exploitation.

And each of those provincial governments are crumbling. British Columbia goes to vote soon with signs of switching governing parties. It will, hopefully, be to one that does not exploit the land for business interests and does not constantly leave itself open to possible charges of corruption.

Ontario will be next in the spring of 2018. The problem there is the leadership. Premier Wynne has lost support from voters and from within her party. The premier of Quebec probably thinks he is lucky to have no real opposition at this time but it will come.

The problem with the federal Liberal Party of Canada is that it no longer exists as a viable political party. There is a façade registered as a political party by that name but it has no paid-up membership. Instead it has a list of people across Canada that it can constantly pester for financial support. There is no real hands-on relationship between this list and any rights of party membership. Instead of policy, it uses a cult of personality in the person of the leader. The list has no rights or reasons to meet. Local liberals are denied the selection of their candidate for parliament. They have no real say on party policy. There is no future for federal liberals in Canada.

But the need for liberalism continues. Liberals have to be progressives, they have to support the rights of the individual in society as well as the need for dignity and freedom. Liberals seek cultural, economic and personal growth for all in a non-judgemental society. Life on this beautiful planet is a wonderful gift. We should leave it a better place for our having been here.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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