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Sunday
Oct132019

Times Have Changed and Not for The Better

At last night’s rally, Trudeau was surrounded by bodyguards and it is reported that he was wearing a bulletproof vest.

Like him or not, this is not a healthy sign for democracy in Canada.

No politician or their family should ever feel threated.

However, it is a sign of the times as faceless people hiding behind their computers can throw insults, threats and create fake news stories simply because they dislike a person’s political position on an issue, or they dislike a reporter’s story.

Follow Twitter for just a few minutes and you will see all of this in action. Twitter needs to insist that a person’s real name be visible on all accounts including mine.

I have been following politics since about 1956 and an active participant since the early 70s and I have witnessed first-hand this change. Politics as played now is quite vicious.

While threats against politicians are nothing new, we had some on my boss (a cabinet minister in 1987 that got the RCMP involved), the overall tone of political debate is now way over the top and excessively nasty. There is nothing wrong with forcefully expressing your opinion in the House of Commons, but all too often it has moved on to personal attacks (especially in public), that have nothing to do with policy positions. To that end Elizabeth May is right- it is time for real dialogue to return.

A new set of Standing Orders or rules covering an MPs conduct in the House during Question Period would also help. If you look back at the old rules or procedures, you were expected to ask your question without reading it from a paper, your phone etc. Very few modern-day politicians would be capable of doing that or capable enough to make the questions as nasty as they are today. Questions today are often written by the Leader’s Office staff and handed to MPs to read out in Question Period.

All to say, let’s clean up political discourse in this country, we shouldn’t let it sink to the bottom like our neighbours to the south.

“I am a Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, or free to choose those who shall govern my country.” Prime Minister John Diefenbaker

Thursday
Oct102019

Are You Confused Yet?

The count down to election day is on. Have you decided who you will be voting for?

Probably not, if you are like most people I meet.

Talk about an uninspiring campaign. One party is as bad as the other and none of them make you want to run out and vote for them.

Most political campaigns have a degree of BS to them. Every Canadian knows that. If you have worked in politics on the Hill or in the civil service, you know that not a single political party will ever be able to carry out all of its campaign promises in the first 4 years of their mandate.

Most parties agree some form of pharmacare is necessary, few would disagree (especially if you are a senior or a low income Canadian). You decide whether or not you agree with the estimates provided by the political parties or the independent Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO). I spent decades working on Parliament hill and I will believe the PBO every time over politicians.

The Conservatives haven’t inspired me yet. I know Andrew Scheer as a very decent guy, but their policies this time haven’t left me with a warm and fuzzy feeling. It’s hard to have a realistic climate plan when you are pledging to support pipelines and therefore big oil.

The NDP, well they are the NDP and I still have vivid memories of Bob Rae’s Ontario. If millennial voters who are now supposed to be the largest voting block move from Trudeau to the NDP, they can become a force- but will they show up to vote?

Bernier’s People’s Party of Canada- well let’s not go there. I know Max and best I can say is get some new advisors and smarten up.

I like a lot of the Green Party platform as well, but know one can answer these questions for me- if we all go electric- cars, public transportation, housing etc.- what happens when hit with a hurricane, ice storm, blizzard and all power is knocked out? Who is going to pay for the necessary infrastructure- IE power dams, solar panels, windmills or whatever? How much will that cost?

And the Liberals- sadly they are not the old Liberal Party, they are more of a personality cult now. They will say and do whatever they think some voters will buy- just don’t expect them to actually carry out their promises.

John Diefenbaker summed up the Liberals pretty accurately and while he was speaking about the Liberals of decades ago, his words fit the Trudeau Liberals quite nicely

“The Liberals are the flying saucers of politics. No one can make head nor tail of them and they never are seen twice in the same place.”

Tuesday
Sep102019

The Silly Season Has Arrived

The silly season has arrived. Normally I would reserve that for the so called “news reports” we receive over the summer, but there is an election on October 21.

Party war rooms are already hard at work, with coffee drenched staffers pouring out hundreds of Twitter tweets, smack downs and stupid comments daily.

Gone are the days when MPs of different political stripes could go after each other in Question Period and then sit down for a quiet chat together minutes later. For instance, in the mid 1980’s Dan Heap was the NDP immigration critic and while a very tough opponent, I often sat with his staff to look at immigration cases that they were involved with on behalf of constituents. On quite a few occasions we were able to help.

A lot of this change in tone was triggered by the attacks of the Liberal “Rat Pack” on the Mulroney government which garnered them many headlines, often undeserved. Who remembers Shelia Copps crawling over a table top to get at Conservative minister Sinclair Stevens?

The hard shift from friendly antagonists to the other side is the enemy accelerated in the 1990s and became the norm after 2003.

Over the year’s technology has enabled the attacks, drive by smears and innuendo to be delivered quicker and even nastier in tone as people can now hide behind their computer screen and deliver them anonymously. You only have to spend a few minutes on Twitter to see this in action.

It was former Liberal leader Michael Ignatief who summed it up best:

“There is no doubt that the way politics is practiced now is much different than it was in the past. Today it is meaner and nastier and you are either on side and "right" or opposed and "wrong." You are my brother or my enemy. There is no room for compromise and no middle ground exists.”

Ignatief also said that today "it is more like war, with words as weapons."

Quotes worth remembering as we move towards October 19th.

The silly season, attack ads, fake news and everything else that goes with modern day elections has arrived.

Wednesday
Aug212019

Lots Of Mock Outrage!

So, the Liberals shut down the ethics committee- what else is new?

Did anyone actually expect the Liberals to allow the opposition to investigate Trudeau’s conduct just weeks before an election?

Let us get serious- there isn’t a party out there that would allow this to happen- it would be political suicide.

Time to cool the mock outrage from the Conservatives (who actually thinks they wouldn’t have done the same thing in the Harper years) and well the NDP can moan and groan, but they aren’t serious contenders anyway. The Greens can pontificate, but they have never been in a similar position to the Liberals at the federal level.

Should they ever win and end up in a similar position to the Liberals, lots of research staff will be throwing May’s comments at them.

Just another regular day in Canadian politics. This is not to say it is right, but until politics change in this Ccuntry tis is what you get.

Friday
Aug162019

The Greens Want A Public Inquiry. Have They Thought it Through?

Ever since the Ethics Commissioners Report landed with a bang on Trudeau’s desk, the opposition parties have been hard at work attacking the Liberals over the SNC Lavalin scandal.

This is what opposition parties are supposed to do, but with an election so close this issue takes on even more importance.

For instance, the Leader of the Green Party has been calling for a full public inquiry into this mess. It makes for an attractive sound bite, but has she thought it through?

There is a real possibility that on October 19th, Canadians will elect a minority Liberal government.

If Elizabeth May believes that Trudeau and his cronies acted so poorly that a full public inquiry is needed into what went on, how can she then support a minority government led by the same Liberal PM who she wants investigated?

The same goes for the NDP. If it is a minority Liberal government led by Trudeau. Will they support it to keep the Liberals in power?

The Greens and the NDP are the only parties likely to try to keep the Liberals in power. They need to be clear prior to the election if their support will be contingent on Trudeau stepping aside or not.

Otherwise for parties (who claim they are doing politics differently to the Liberals and Conservatives) are just blowing smoke. They will be no different than the parties they attack for old school politics.