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June 2024

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Posts Tagged ‘Liberal Party’

Perspective of Campaign 2015

Wednesday, October 28, 2015 @ 11:10 AM

Please click the link below to read K&A’s perspective of Campaign 2015:

John Turner proposed the formation of the Arctic Youth Corps

I really became a Canadian when I got to know Canada north of the 60th parallel… I have never felt more Canadian than when alone with my thoughts in the remote northern vastness.’ — Former Prime Minister John Turner

Roderick Benns from Ottawa Life Magazine writes:

Former Prime Minister John Turner has canoed every river in Canada that empties into the Arctic Ocean. As a young parliamentary secretary to Arthur Laing, the minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources under Lester Pearson, he came to know the northern reaches of the country intimately.

While it is the current prime minister, Stephen Harper, who now garners arctic headlines, perhaps the Liberal Party should be reviving a policy idea Turner brought forward to the Pearson government in the 1960s.

Turner accompanied Laing on a trip to the Arctic during two consecutive summers, in 1963-64, and he was deeply affected by what he saw. From Cape Dorset to Port Burwell and many other Arctic communities, Turner saw the Inuit people in a realistic—although precarious—light. They were leaving their old ways behind, but yet not sure how to embrace the opportunities of capitalism that southern Canadians simply took for granted. As his biographer, Paul Litt, has pointed out, Turner wanted the Inuit to develop their own commercial enterprises, so they could run self-sustaining businesses. He believed in encouraging southern Canadian investment in the north.

Part of what Turner saw as a disconnect between the Inuit way of life and southern Canada was the lack of opportunity for the two to ever meet. It was this lack of connection—and the fact that there was no capacity to make it happen—that weighed heavily on him when he sat down to come up with policy options for the Pearson government.

One of his most inspired ideas has been lost in history’s pages – although it was both exciting enough and practical enough for the Pearson government of the day to include it in the 1965 Speech from the Throne. Turner proposed the formation of the Arctic Youth Corps, modelled after the United States’ Peace Corps.

In the US version, the Peace Corps sends Americans abroad to work at the grassroots level, in an effort to create sustainable change in communities. Turner’s vision was to see the potential for young people from southern Canada to get to know the northern realities of their country. He knew that it was sustainability that was needed in the arctic and that such a program might go a long way in building economic and social bridges between north and south.

He also knew that young Canadians who served in the Arctic Youth Corps would carry this knowledge into subsequent generations. It would be a legacy of real value passed on from one generation to the next.

In a recent interview with Turner, it was clear he believed the Arctic Youth Corps remains a viable idea, declaring that it would “open up the eyes of our young people to our great north.”

While he gives Prime Minister Harper credit for “taking a great interest” in Canada’s arctic, he also notes that “we haven’t done as much as we should.”

Turner says transportation development, education, and a broad range of business opportunities needs to be encouraged in the far north so it can attain its potential. Showcasing what the Inuit people can do with a hand up in infrastructure matters will be important. The Arctic Youth Corps could be a crucial, bridge-building link that is also relatively cost effective, compared to many other arctic initiatives.

Like many who have visited the Canadian arctic, Turner was never able to free himself from its pull. His personal interest remained, even when he moved into other political portfolios. Given Liberal leader Justin Trudeau’s teaching background and his interest in Canadian youth, he could do worse than to revive a celebrated – albeit forgotten—policy idea from the most senior Liberal statesman in Canada.

Click here for the original article.

- Marc Kealey

Canada India Foundation Meetings

Wednesday, May 7, 2014 @ 05:05 PM

Canada India Foundation meeting with Justin Trudeau

In my role as a Board member of the Canada India Foundation, we’re meeting with several prominent MPs in government and Opposition. One of our first private meetings was with Justin Trudeau MP and Leader of the Liberal Party to discuss our aspirations for Indo Canadian collaboration.

We were pleased with our meeting with Hon Joe Oliver at the gala and with members of the House of Commons.

- Marc Kealey


Ontario Liberal Leadership

Monday, January 28, 2013 @ 01:01 PM

Choosing a political leader at a delegated convention provides all the excitement and intrigue for a political generation. It is, in fact, the ultimate human theatre.

Kathleen WynneThe stakes are high in all political leadership races, but when the ultimate prize is also to become the Premier of the Province – because the Party seeking its leader happens to be government – the atmosphere, logically,  is more electric than normal.  Intrigue and drama aside, the Liberal Party of Ontario demonstrated to the Province of Ontario that its leadership hopefuls were prepared to duke it out in a media described well travelled series of debates and public appearances by all seven candidates from November 2012 to late January 2013.  The Party’s convention in Toronto held this past weekend was well attended and described by media as well done.

Having attended leadership conventions for all three political parties in Canada since 1976, this convention had the hallmark of being one of the more intriguing I had ever attended.  The Party “thinkers” had decided that it wanted a woman to lead its party into the future and punctuated that decision by electing the greatest proportion of the convention’s delegates to the two women in the race.  Their campaigns were well run, well funded and attracted the most active caucus support for their respective campaigns.   The front runner going in to the convention was Sandra Pupatello, a former  MPP and Cabinet Minister in the McGuinty government elected from Windsor and now a prominent Toronto business woman active in the oil and gas sector.  The second most favoured candidate was Kathleen Wynne (pictured above) MPP for Don Valley West in Toronto since 2003 and a prominent Cabinet Minister throughout her career as MPP.   Hundreds of delegate numbers below Pupatello and Wynne was the remainder of the candidates:  Gerrard Kennedy (pictured waving on the far right above) former MPP and Cabinet Minister in McGuinty’s  government and a one time MP in Toronto started the convention in third place.   Charles Sousa (pictured above far left) MPP from Mississauga South elected in 2007 and, until entering the race, was a Cabinet Minister was in fourth place. Harinder Takhar, MPP for Mississauga Streetsville, elected in 2003 and a Cabinet Minister for his entire career was in fifth place.  Prominent Canadian physician and activist Eric Hoskins,  (pictured right behind Wynne above) MPP and Cabinet Minister since a by-election in 2009 from St. Paul’s rounded out the cast of hopefuls in sixth place.   There was a seventh candidate, Glen Murray, MPP from Toronto Centre Rosedale and a Cabinet Minister since his by-election victory to that seat in 2009 , but he dropped out of the race and chose to support Kathleen Wynne a week before the convention.

Leadership conventions are dynamic events no doubt –  the speeches from the candidates are a highlight and often reveal to delegates who has the “mustard” .  The two front runners did not disappoint with both of them making superbly crafted speeches.  However from this insider’s  perspective Kathleen Wynne’s  speech was the best delivered with a folksy style that characterized her as likeable (a trait that is known in the business as being “retail”).  Pupatello’s  speech was strong on content and delivery but  seemed to pale in comparison to Wynne’s.

That noted, moreover,  political  leadership conventions are neither won nor lost on speeches, they are won and lost on  delegate support.  Delegate support is the ingredient for human dynamic at these kinds of events and deals between candidates  were struck before the convention actually began and although speculation abounds, many arm-chair political pundits could not have known the outcome of those deals in advance of the convention.

Such was the case for this Liberal Leadership Convention.  After a lengthy and quite frustrating delay in the counting of the first ballots, the result was a razor thin margin for front runner Sandra Pupatello.  The surprise after the first ballot was Kathleen Wynne who had generated more delegate support than had been  originally anticipated and therefore generated the most momentum.  Eric Hoskins was dropped from the ballot and moved quickly to Kathleen Wynne, while his most prominent supporter, former Prime Minister John Turner moved to Sandra Pupatello.  At the same time, Harinder Takhar moved to Pupatello leaving only four candidate for the second ballot because there was not a clear fifty percent plus one (50%  +1) delegate margin for any one candidate.

After another lengthy delay in the counting of the second ballot results and a spate of discussions among the candidates for last minute deals,  Charles Sousa and Gerrard Kennedy moved to Kathleen Wynne making for the most drama of the day and creating some vitriol among their delegates making the third and final ballot for  leader of the Party and Premier an historic battle between two women.  It was Wynne who won the day with a two hundred and fifty (250) plus margin of the over 2000 delegates voting.

Wynne became the Party’s  Leader and the Province’s Premier late evening on Saturday.

For the majority of people who never get the chance to experience this kind of an event, many wonder what happens now?

Here’s the drill.

Kathleen Wynne by winning the Leadership of her Party also becomes what is known as Premier- designate until she and her Cabinet are sworn in.  That process of choosing a Cabinet will occur in the next few weeks.  She will then be Premier.  Her choices for Cabinet  Ministers comes from several criteria including:  any deals made at the Leadership Convention, geography (where the MPP is elected from), demography (gender, ethnicity etc) and merit.  That process will likely not be completed until the night before the Cabinet is sworn in.  The swearing in will occur before the Legislature is recalled.

The Premier-designate has said that she will recall the Legislature on February 19, 2013.  That means before that date she will have chosen a Cabinet, hired new staffers for the over 300 jobs available for Cabinet  Ministers Offices and prepare a Speech from the Throne, which is the agenda her new government will be following in the upcoming Legislative session that ensues.

It is widely speculated that a budget may also accompany the Speech from the Throne, but that is highly unlikely given the protracted period of time from now until the recalling of the Legislature.

It is also widely speculated that Premier-designate Wynne may strike a deal for support of her Speech from the Throne and subsequent Budget Bill from NDP Leader Andrea Horwath to avoid an election this Spring.  Speculation is that this minority government could stretch to Spring of 2014.

PC Leader Tim Hudak, our sources tell us, is not as receptive to this kind of a deal and will likely move non-confidence on both  the Throne Speech and Budget Bill.  Given said support from NDP a non-confidence motion will likely not pass.

Of course, both the New Democrat and PC  parties would like a chance at forming a government and speculation abounds that popular support may bounce upward for Liberal Premier designate Wynne in the immediate short term.

Popular support may remain high for Wynne over time because of her personal style , “like-ability” AND if  she establishes a brand and style of government so different from the McGuinty Liberal government.  In order for this to occur, she will have to address issues from the previous two governments of which she was part and move quickly to remedy them.  This includes health, energy and some crown agency troubles that have haunted McGunity’s government in the past 10 years.  This could be a tall order given that many of the Cabinet that she will chose will be among the former McGuinty Cabinet  for her to demonstrate and ensure continuity, capability and experience.  We believe this could be problematic for her –  look for some brand new faces and a potential sea change in key roles.

The only saving grace for the opposition parties in this scenario is that they could use the time to hone their public images more effectively, raise badly needed funds and prepare and/or enhance and focus group test their platforms such that they will appeal more to the general public and the media throughout  the province.

Couple this with the fact that three term governments tend to “institutionalize”  government and become what observers call “fat and lazy”.   Political history suggests that it is difficult for a three term government to get a fourth mandate.

Look for drama to unfold prior to this next Legislative session while the elements of a deal for this current minority government to survive unfold.

- Marc Kealey





Let’s face it – Michael Ignatieff’s “Liberal Party” lost the election on May 2, 2011.  He, seemingly, only had his own people directing the Party and the results spoke for themselves – Canadians didn’t appear to warm to him.  The troubling thing about this loss is that many of my Liberal friends seem to have given up on this Party. I believe all is not lost and what happened after the last election is a symptom of a Party that has lost its groove.

As context, I am a child of the Liberal Party.  I grew up being Liberal, I joined the Liberal Party officially when I was 14 years of age, but my great Aunt and Grandmother were active Liberals and encouraged my interest in politics since I was seven.  Evening dinners at our home and at family events were characterized by pithy debates about the impact of governments of PMs like St. Laurent, Diefenbaker, Pearson and Trudeau.   I knew where the great Wilfrid Laurier’s tomb was in Ottawa when I was in grade one for goodness sakes. There was no doubt that the Liberal Party had a significant impact on me.

The results and ensuing impact of the last federal election have given rise to media speculation about the demise of the Liberal Party.  I believe those sentiments are dubious at best.  The Liberal Party is a solid brand.  Oh, there are some, like a former PM of the great Party, who envision a merger of the Liberal Party and the NDP as a viable option to re-assume power – perhaps.   But, if we follow his logic about the Liberal and New Democratic parties theoretically having similar policy principles, then, given that as reason, why doesn’t the Liberal Party reach out to the Conservatives – to merge?  The fiscal policies and much of PM Harper’s social policies evidently are centrist – that’s territory the Liberals have claimed since Confederation.

There are others, like me, who believe the Liberal Party can and will find its step once again IF it grasps the principle that the more things change, the more they stay the same.  Rebuilding is hard work, it requires slogging it out riding-by-riding, seeking advice from the grassroots, attracting new members, developing new policy AND making an impact.

Consider 1984 to 1988.   I came across an article by Susan Delacourt who wrote a very nice article about the recently released biography of John Turner written by Paul Litt (Elusive Destiny:  The Political Vocation of John N. Turner – UBC Press, 2011).  In her article she outlines the extraordinary accomplishments of Turner in Pearson’s and Trudeau’s governments as well as his friendship with John Diefenbaker (a former Conservative PM).  Later in the article she stated that Turner languished in Opposition from 1984 to 1988.  As a staff member for him, I can say that is absolutely inaccurate. Turner made a concerted effort and was successful in his personal efforts to rebuild the Party after its devastating (and highly predictable) trouncing in the 1984 election.

Consider that under his leadership, the Liberal Party introduced central fundraising, modernized its headquarters in Ottawa, and that he travelled to more ridings to meet with grassroots members and visit schools to talk with young people than any other Leader in the Party’s history.  He developed new policy, provided superb opposition to an effective government and his efforts bore fruit.

The 1988 election, as a result, doubled the fortunes of the Liberal Party in terms of seats won for the House of Commons, saw an increase in membership for the Party, was touted as one of the last best elections the country ever fought and, frankly, paved the way for Jean Chretien to inherit a very good Party, which led to his three majorities in a row.

So, to suggest that the Liberal brand is dead, as some are lamenting at present, is, in my view, giving up.  I recall former PM Trudeau’s testimony to the Senate on the changes to our Constitution through the Meech Lake Accord in 1988 – he said, and I paraphrase, that if we give up and provide no opposition to proposed changes to our Constitution, it would be similar to what the male beaver – Canada’s national symbol – does when attacked or cornered – it actually offers up its testicles to its opponent.  It was a stark, very poignant moment in Canadian political debate and, in typical Trudeau fashion, had impact

The Liberal Party is a brand, a very well-known brand, and to give it up or let others suggest merger with other parties is similar to Trudeau’s analogy.

We’re better and stronger than that and Turner proved it by re-building when the Party was facing extinction.  It’s tough work, but not insurmountable – and now Turner’s the prophet for proving that the brand is relevant.

There is a convention this January 2012 in Ottawa to pick a new President for the Party, let’s see if the Party has the strength to endure and find its groove . . . again!!!


- Marc Kealey

The Liberal NDP merger.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010 @ 08:06 AM

Ask any young person about politics and they’ll say don’t care! Better than that they might say, “don’t care, don’t give a shit”! This is a sad commentary on politics today.

The reason why fewer that 55% of Canadians bothered to vote in the last federal election and why more and more Canadians are voicing displeasure with the politicians is because they (the voters) feel helpless and unengaged.

I joined the Liberal Party when I was 14 years old. In the past 35 years, I have enjoyed the experience of fighting no fewer than 15 provincial and federal elections combined, 7 leadership conventions, two leadership reviews and myriad policy conferences. Suffice to say, I am a child of MY Party. The sad fact today is that it means a hill of beans.

My political mentor John Turner, for whom I worked, laments that the democratization of parliament is an issue second only to the bolstering of policies and ingratiation of Party faithful. These people own the Party, NOT the bunch of appointed flacks who serve the Leader of the Party. The recent private discussions that have been undertaken by old flacks in some secluded spots in Ottawa are a symptom of a larger problem for the Liberal Party how to re-engage Liberals or attract new ones.

Instead of a re-evaluation of this option, these wiley old timers seek to merge the oldest political brand in Canada with a left wing rump. Let’s face it the NDP will never assume power in Canada’s federal parliament, nor were they ever expected to – they were, however, a Party who’s philosophies and policies embraced that of a true perpetual opposition. Not so with the Liberals. This is a Party that bore most of the social policy reforms that have made Canada a tour de force internationally.

A discussion of a merger at this juncture should be taken for what it really is a cynical attempt to wrest power through mathematics. The Liberal Party on its own has neither the leadership nor the voter appeal at this point to become government. Perhaps a deal with the NDP to gain power now might be a possibility but ask Bob Rae if this benefitted him in Ontario in 1985.

The simple fact is this – the appointed flacks in the Leaders office, the unelected Senate members who claim to be the conscience of the Party, the advisors and consultants who skulk around Ottawa are NOT the Liberal Party. It is the hundreds of thousands of Party faithful across this great land who believe in the philosophies of Wilfrid Laurier, MacKenzie King, Louis St. Laurent, Mike Pearson, Pierre Trudeau, John Turner, Jean Chretien, Paul Martin and others. It is also the Party of great thinkers like Vincent Massey, Norman Lambert, Gordon Fogo, Gordon Dryden, Boyd Upper, Walter Gordon, James Scott, Keith Davey, Al Graham, Norm Macleod, Martin Connell, Maurice Sauvé, Paul Desrocher, Iona Campagnolo and many other great Liberal thinkers across Canada who have perfected the Liberal brand.

There is no cross road here, the silly talks about a merger should be outed for what they are a frustration at the current prospects of a Party in disarray, with little attraction from voters. If the attempt is to increase a paltry 25% voter approval for a leader no one wants – then following that logic, what does a Conservative PM do at 32% – who does he merge with???

Let¹s get smart all you Liberals say something!

- Marc Kealey