Sue's Blog

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Lest We Forget

Lest We Forget

I will not forget. I will always remember.
Thank you for your service.
Thank you to those who gave their lives so others may live in a free society.
I will not forget. I will always remember.
I promise to take our democracy seriously.
I promise to participate in making our society better.
I promise to always vote.
I promise to participate in assisting veterans wherever and whenever needed.
I promise to keep them always a priority and let my voice be heard when veterans have concerns.

Friday, November 06, 2015

1st days of PM Trudeau reveals one critical weakness

On September 27th 2012 - Sue's Blog predicted that Justin Trudeau would be the next Prime Minister.

There were 20 reasons given for this call - some of which dealt directly with who I thought Trudeau was and where he came from.

What that post did not deal with were possible weaknesses. I believe the stated strengths noted in the 2012 post are proving to have merit and now we need to look at what weaknesses are there and how Trudeau can rise to strengthen them.

As a public figure - I like the way he carries himself and that will reflect on Canada and her people as a whole. I do not know him personally and perhaps never will. Some federal Liberal Party stalwarts remain and they will not find memories of my criticisms in the past pleasant. Be that as it may - Trudeau is a new leader and a new Prime Minister - I can neither judge him by his colleagues nor of ever-present partisans who reside in all parties.

I am a Canadian citizen and I like to participate - usually causing politicians to avoid rather than engage. This unfortunately dismisses real and valid points and policy suggestions that I and others like me have. Trudeau will be faced with many people like me and it will be instructional to see how he and his Cabinet respond. I hold out hope that this leader will draw from society - will seek to listen with non-partisan ears - and truly unite Canadians.

The election win was a combination of people wanting to get rid of Harper and of choosing the alternative that provided the most potential.

There is no doubt that when Tom Mulcair listened to or participated in the decision to attack Trudeau versus choosing to raise his profile from Opposition leader to the nations Prime Minister - he and the NDP lost. Conversely when Trudeau and his team chose to take the road of answering critics head on by offering reasoned, calm, and modern thinking - he lead the party to victory.

The media - in their usual - deer in headlights response to an unexpected result - chattered and giggled about how the Niqab killed the NDP. Not only was that wrong - it was illogical. Trudeau took the same position on the Niqab as Mulcair - yet took ownership of Quebec.

Journalists on the Hill had bought into the "just not ready" theatrics which helped in their defence of propaganda coverage dictated by Stephen Harper. The five questions - no follow up rule was juvenile and mainstream media sucked it up in an equally juvenile and unprofessional manner. Andrew Coyne's very public sulking at the end of the campaign - added fuel to the fire that they all had bosses to listen to. Then in a very apparent/non-transparent way - we were all left to pity them.

Now the media floodgates are open - they are all over Trudeau and his Cabinet. Tripping and giggling at their regained power. The very same day - they failed to scrum Harper and let Rona Ambrose control the number of questions permitted.

Canada is a geographically large and culturally diverse nation. Our confederation continues to be challenged by obvious problems that politicians have yet to address - let alone improve. If and when a leader has the courage to deal with these problems - our confederation may permanently remove the threat to separate by any province.

On Wednesday I watched the Cabinet unfold with millions of other Canadians. For the most part I believe Trudeau ticked most of the important boxes and as he said "it is 2015".  Gender equality in Parliament is important and there was no reason based on qualifications - that it should not have been achieved. There was also a great representation of age and experience. New ideas versus tried and true policy will provide great debate at the Cabinet table.

In all the newness that is Justin Trudeau - in all the forward looking that is Justin Trudeau there remains an antiquated view of regional representation in Cabinet. It is the final bastion of Upper and Lower Canada. It can be argued that we got Harper because the West (primarily the prairies) wanted in and they seen the Reform/Alliance as the way to get there.

If there is any such thing as "Old Stock Canadian" thinking it is geographic not racist and it is most assuredly the position that Ontario and Quebec are the most important pieces of geography in the country and also the most needy people when it comes to Cabinet placements.

We are a confederation of provinces - joined to form a Country based on common interests. All MP's are concerned with homelessness, affordable housing, health care, education, justice, transportation, taxation, security, and sovereignty - therefore all are representatives of these fundamentals. Cabinet should be utilized to deal with regional issues. This should not be based on population but rather on geography, assets, and particular needs.

If Ontario's focus is on the auto sector, banking, transit, manufacturing, and immigration - surely five competent MP's placed into Cabinet should be able to represent this. Likewise with all provinces and the North. A combination of population, geography, industrial sectors and cultural issues should be at the forefront of Cabinet appointments.

If we cannot have an equal, elected, and effective Senate - we must certainly strive to level the Cabinet playing field.

If Ontario has 11 Cabinet members to represent its interests there is no doubt that policy direction will favour that province. Quebec holding 6 posts and the Prime Minister means it has plenty of people to speak. 18 of 31 Ministers held by Upper and Lower Canada means that economic growth, population growth, and social growth will be dominated by these provinces. The fact that mainstream media - more often that not - refers to Atlantic Canada, Western Canada, Territories, Ontario and Quebec when describing our country demonstrates the real problem in identity and regional preferences in our  country.

By reducing Ontario and Quebec's representation in Cabinet to 10 from 18 - would allow all provinces and the Territories to at least have 2 Cabinet posts. This better reflects Canada and its confederation.

This is a weakness in Trudeau. He needs to look outside the population box to unite the provinces and territories in a real partnership. It is outdated, regressive, and divisive - it must be corrected. If 8 provinces and 3 Territories feel a Cabinet direction is favouring the growth of Quebec and Ontario at the cost of the other 11 then real action could be taken.

The real and obnoxious attention to Quebec and Ontario was most recently witnessed in the election. All leaders with the exception of Elizabeth May (who concentrated efforts in BC) doted on the neediness of Upper and Lower Canada. It is time for real leadership on this most troubling and chronic problem.

If Canada continues to govern itself based on the preservation, growth, and dominance of 2 provinces  we will cease to be a real confederation.

British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador, and the North are the sea borders of our country and are bountiful in natural ocean resources. These resources being owned and managed by the federal government is absolutely wrong and patently unfair. More than this - Cabinets dominated by central Canadian MP's have either neglected or mismanaged these resources at a unfathomable loss to the affected populations.

The fishery, oil and gas, and search and rescue assets have been crucified by Cabinets dominated by people who have no clue about them or real interest in the fall-out of critical errors. The House of Commons - dictated to by population representation - can kill a small province with one vote.

For all the modern and youthful thinking of the new Prime Minister - Justin Trudeau demonstrated significant weakness in the area of Cabinet representation. Ironically 5 of the 36 seats held by the Liberals were from Newfoundland and Labrador. We represented 1/7th of what they had. What are we now?

If somebody does not deal with the inequalities in Cabinet representation and provinces continue to suffer losses in population growth, economics, and industry - there will come a time when people want out not in.

I wait to see if our new Prime Minister recognizes and then attempts to deal with this.

Harper hands off to MacKay

As a political junkie and an active citizen - I always like to review the term/s of any Prime Minister or Premier.

Usually there are good and bad policies in all governments regardless of stripe. Then again - usually in Canada the mainstream parties Progressive Conservative, Liberal, or New Democrat are just left or right of center. They are not right or left wing zealots attempting to change the very soul of the Country.

Then came Stephen Harper - one half of a deceitful duo - with Peter MacKay. These two politicians were supposed to "unite the right". In truth - it was the Reforms effort to mask itself enough and form government and for Peter MacKay it was a lazy and selfish way to bring his Progressive Conservatives back from near extinction.

For PC's like David Orchard and Joe Clark the merger represented the greatest act of treachery in the party's history.

The right wing extremist Harper and the self-centered MacKay had no problem moving on - each with their own agenda. Harper is not a stupid man and understood immediately that he was smarter than the lazy selfish MacKay. As long as Harper kept MacKay happy - Harper could keep the ideologically fractured caucus in check.

Satisfying Peter meant just that - satisfying Peter. He could have the portfolios he desired, the travel he desired, and the prominence he desired. Little by little Harper changed our Country - right under the nose of MacKay who give in little by little on ideology if it meant progressive improvement for himself.

MacKay did not care if the Country was being stripped of democratic principles, stripped of judicial values, stripped of its Constitution as long as he - Peter MacKay - was upwardly mobile. Mackay became more and more arrogant - more and more aloof - more and more deceitful.

The Harper era was - I believe - based on an agreement. That is to say - he and his political partner - set rules for each other and more importantly time-frames. I have no doubt that the merger of the parties came with an opportunity for both to lead it.

The red-carpet send off for MacKay by the Prime Minister was unprecedented and quite unusual. The political love-in was scripted by both and in my opinion written a decade earlier. All of this was pulled off because an ever weakening media answered the call. Sure MacKay leaving was a story - but that news was not important enough for live coverage of every word.

Shifting away from the extreme right will be the reason to elect MacKay sometime in late 2016 or early 2017 - it will be determined as "necessary" to lure the public back with moderate social policy.

Peter in the meanwhile will be a free agent - but very accessible to an adoring press. He's already begun playing them like a fiddle.

Harper did considerable damage to the "free" press - they became the propaganda delivery team - trained like a circus animal - through continued punish and learn exercises. The odd journalist that delivered news had to do so very carefully or with the blessing of a boss through commentary.

There were media rules and deals that we the public did not see during the election - we seen the result but not backroom agreements.

Have you ever watched a flock of hungry starlings upon the discovery of food? If not - all you had to do was watch our national media question the hours old Cabinet - to envision what the starlings are like.

As many of you know - I - as one citizen - insist on freedom of the press. I am unforgiving as a voter to a leader or MP who demands full control of media. I did not expect or need particulars about what the Ministers were going to do in their new portfolios on day one. I would expect them to tell me their priorities and any urgent and immediate changes within a week or two. The "Hill" reporters were savages on Wednesday - they even giggled  - (watch the video) if there is one. Justin Trudeau said they were important and should be able to ask tough questions - and as if Trudeau was Pavlov - he rang a bell.

For the past five years at least - they were obedient - if they complained it must have been at a virtual kitchen table - we never heard it.

They have become so irrelevant that when Trudeau opened the access and advised them they were important again - they fed like piranha.

Let me be clear dear media - before you increase your dislike of me - you demonstrated it again in spades when you "interviewed" Ms. Ambrose. You were respectful of the rules Harper put in place for you.

Without considerable determination of journalists - the next couple of years will be high-energy focus on keeping Trudeau "accountable" while allowing MacKay and Ambrose to play by Harper media rules. Peter will become the heir apparent and will demand of the media - respect and boundaries that will be set by him.

The media continues to let Harper off the accountability hook and unless this changes - Trudeau's commitment to revitalize the CBC will only mean a license for journalists to investigate and report on Liberals - while letting MacKay and the CPC go unchecked into the next election.

Ready - set - go....