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Monday
Jan282019

The Gang Returns Today And China Is On their Mind

Well the House is back today although in a new location IE West Block. It would be nice with this fresh start if this also meant there would be better decorum and less nonsense from all sides. That won’t be the case though as today will mark the unofficial opening of the 2019 election.

You can bet though that the Chinese fiasco will be on everyone’s mind. It is hard to imagine how PMO could screw things up so badly- unless they chose to ignore the advice of their senior officials and that of Global Affairs staff who have dealt with China over many years.

It has been reported that McCallum had a reputation of speaking his mind while a member of the Liberal caucus, it’s quite possible that this time he did as well. As our ambassador to China it must have been very frustrating dealing with the amateurs in PMO.

When I saw his first set of comments, it looked like this was the beginning of a solution. In other words, with an official IE the ambassador, publicly stating that China has a solid legal case, Canada satisfies China’s desire to have that acknowledged by Canada. That would then have allowed China to respond positively and a win-win for both sides could be put together. If that was the game plan it doesn’t matter now as with the firing of McCallum it has all come undone.

You have to wonder if this mess reflects some internal power struggle as to who has the final say on the China file or whose advice is being followed and who is being listened to from the department.

Question Period returns today and it should be an interesting one.

Thursday
Jan172019

A Gong Show

Apparently, disgraced candidate Karen Wang has rescinded her withdrawal from the byelection in BC and wants Trudeau to reconsider. What nonsense.

She screwed up and should pay the price. The Liberals acted as they should have done, and she was turffed as soon as her article became public.

No one should be fooled into thinking it was Justin that got upset and wanted her out- it was his campaign team, who simply can’t let a candidate get away with promoting racism in the vote. Pitting one group against another can never be acceptable in any political party.

The fact that Wang has decided she deserves a second chance shows exactly why she should not be a candidate.

The deeper issue though is that her request to stay on reflects a lack of respect for the party leader and his decision- in this case Justin Trudeau. One doesn’t make such a request unless one thinks Trudeau may reverse himself. Clearly Trudeau is seen by some in her camp and by the ex-candidate as weak enough to give serious consideration to her request.

I expect Butts and company will move swiftly to shut this story down- especially as it is a bad news story when they need a good news one out of their meetings in Sherbrooke.

Let’s see how quickly they act.

Monday
Jan142019

Just a Thought- On The Cabinet Shuffle

A busy day in politics as Trudeau does a mini shuffle. Some moves were surprising, some not so much.

Kicking O’Regan out of Veterans Affairs was simply a survival move, IE save Trudeau’s buddy and put him somewhere else and hope he doesn’t screw up there as well. Personally, I think he will be just as bad in his new portfolio at Indigenous Affairs. The real question is why put a screw-up in charge of a very sensitive department?

Philpott was moved from Indigenous Affairs where she seemed to be doing quite well. One can understand the need to have a good minister at Treasury Board, but a person of her caliber could have been used elsewhere. It seems like a bit of overkill unless the PMO gang need a very capable minister in that role to handle anticipated damage and fall out from the Vice Admiral Norman court case which will be coming up right around the time of the next election. I think he should have put Philpott in the environment portfolio- one that needs a minister who can actually get things done and one of the most important portfolios if not the most important one for the Liberals in the next election.

Hard to say why he moved the Justice Minister (Wilson-Raybould) to Veterans Affairs, but at least she can’t do worse there than O’Regan and her move allows a pretty competent Parliamentary Secretary (Lametti) to move up to the Justice portfolio.

Bernadette Jordan goes to a new portfolio - Rural Economic Development. Really, this sounds like one created to impress rural ridings leading up to the next election. In the past most of these economic development portfolios were an excuse to provide representation from some provinces and an excuse to hand out cheques with lots of media fanfare- something the Liberals will need this year.

Another day on the Hill and another cabinet shuffle is over. History will judge if Butts and Trudeau got it right.

Sunday
Dec302018

A Look Ahead At 2019

It seems that everyone is producing polls while pontificating about the next election results in 2019.

I am not one to put much faith in any election polling this far out- let’s face it they are not much better than a guess and the results can be impacted by the wording, the order of the questions, the questions used and of course who is paying for the poll or even the pollsters personal political leaning. My distrust of poll numbers goes for polls that show the Conservatives out in front too.

Even a serious well thought out poll is only a snap shot in time. If there are several negative Trudeau stories this week, they might show Trudeau down a bit or up if there are a lot of good stories.

So, I may as well offer my own thoughts- they are as accurate as anyone else’s this far out from the election date.

At this point Trudeau will probably survive to fight again, but with depleted numbers. I say this based on the collapse of the NDP. A strong NDP means a split vote with the Liberals in many key ridings allowing the Conservatives to come up the middle. With their invisible leader and some screwball policies such as decimalizing all drugs, they will keep fading. Assuming Singh wins his byelection (no guarantee of that), by the end of June he will be in the house all of 69 days and that assumes he will show up every Friday for Question Period- something national leaders rarely do.  If we take out Friday sittings, he will be there for only 55 days. National leaders also skip a lot of Monday QP sessions as well which could bring his time down to as little as 42 days. This is hardly enough time to make a dent in public opinion.

Over a few decades in politics, I have heard all of the BS ideas and excuses that you don’t have to be in QP to make an impression, IE he could be crisscrossing the country which is what he just might end up doing- I simply don’t believe that will work at the Federal level especially with a leader with no significant previous name recognition at the federal level. He has wasted a lot of time since being elected leader of the NDP- time that will cost him dearly now.

The NDP’s fund raising is simply not up to par with either the Liberals or the Conservatives, plus if we see strategic voting which is a good possibility this time around, who do the so-called progressives vote for?

They won’t ever vote Conservative. At this late stage they still don’t know what the Conservative plan will be for climate change or the environment and many distrust them on social conservative issues. Nor will most vote Green. So far, the Greens are stuck with a dull leader and one who is connected in the public’s mind primarily with environmental issues. While important, this leaves them looking like a one policy party. Quick can anyone tell me the Green Party’s policies for small business or national defence!

Strategic voting will not go to the NDP this time around, but to Trudeau to stop the Conservatives.

At this point the Conservatives will come up short. They need a collapsing economy to shift votes their way and that is Trudeau’s biggest worry. They are still too heavily weighted towards rural issues. They need a major break-through in metropolitan areas. They scream that the sky is falling every day on some issue or another to the point where people tune them out.

They are easy to attack from the Liberal and NDP side with fear mongering on immigration, climate change, carbon taxes etc. and of course we all know or should know that the Liberals and NDP will try between now and the calling of the next election; to box the Conservatives in on some hot button issues such as abortion.Nor can a leader be widely accused of a lie as opposed to simply being against a policy issue and expect the public to want to vote for you.

In many cases I don’t take issue with the Conservative position on an issue, it is their messaging and the way that they present their position that often sucks. If they can’t convince one of their own political partisans; what does that say about the impression left with other voters.

You can also add in the potential of Bernier snagging a percent or two of the Conservative votes and when that happens, and it probably will; they will have a struggle.

In their favour, the Conservatives can rely on some ticked off voters if prices for gasoline, food and utility costs rise too fast. They can also rely on Trudeau doing or saying something stupid as he is prone to do. Butts and company in the PMO will have their hands full guiding their accident-prone leader in the next few months.

I know a lot of people say that Scheer is just to dull to go up against Justin Trudeau, but, let me remind all of the younger reporters out there that it was Mr. Charisma himself- Joe Clark of “Joe Who” fame who took out Justin’s father after years of Trudeaumania. Sometimes nice guys do win.

Have a Happy New Year and a great 2019!

Monday
Dec242018

"A Christmas Truce Please"

One would be hard pressed to find any politicians or their staff showing any Christmas spirit on either Twitter or Facebook these days. The animosity continues to reach new heights every day as political partisans of all stripes continue their attacks on each other.

One of the biggest changes that I have observed over the last decade or so is how personnel the attacks have become. Back on March 15, 2012, I wrote in the National Post the following:

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.

Ignatieff commented that “We’ve blurred opponent with enemy.” That is a fairly accurate comment. Today it is winner take all, not just during an election, but every single day. Whether it is Question Period, committee work or even rebuttals in speeches, no quarter is given. Today it is all out war between political opponents.” (National Post, March 15, 2012)

Unfortunately, every party is guilty of the above practices, aided of course by the new platforms such as Twitter where you can remain anonymous, hide behind your computer screen and make vicious attacks on people that you view as “your enemy”.

The reality is people enter politics to make a difference. They may have different ideas about how to improve this country but, they are just as sincere in what they do, work on and say as your own side.

Like the Christmas Truce in World War One when combatants laid down their arms and enjoyed each other’s company, let’s see some Christmas spirit from our federal and provincial politicians and their followers. For the next few days at least, politicians and partisans showing some Christmas spirit would be appreciated. There will be plenty of time for the nastiness to resume when the calendar flips over to 2019.