Archive for the ‘Neil McKenty articles’ Category

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

July 25, 2017

Pit Stop By Neil McKenty

Time is ripe for a new political party in Quebec

Now that hunting season has begun, it behooves most Quebec politicians to head for the hills.

According to all the surveys, the popularity of the province’s politicians is dropping like a wounded duck. And this applies to both Ottawa and Quebec City.

A Léger poll shows the level of satisfaction with the federal Conservatives has dropped a full seven points. Only one in five Quebecers is happy with the political leadership in Ottawa.

The results were similarly dismal for the provincial Liberals. The level of dissatisfaction with Premier Jean Charest’s government is at a record-breaking 77 per cent, with only 28 per cent saying they would vote Liberal in the next provincial election. Support for the Parti Québécois stood at 34 per cent.

These figures must be seen in the context of a provincial scene where most of the news is negative. Whether it is the dirty linen on judge’s appointments being aired at the Bastarache commission, the ever-rising cost of health care, controversial language legislation or the government’s refusal to investigate the construction industry, there is not much for the ordinary voter to be happy about.

All this means that Charest, who must face an election within three years, is in dire straits politically. But the PQ leader, Pauline Marois, is right in there with him.

Let’s face it. Although Marois has been in public life for three decades, she has never really caught on, either with her own party or with the electorate generally. This could become more evident when she faces a leadership review next spring.

Unlike the Liberals who cherish their leaders so long as they are in power, the separatists seem to view their chieftans with considerable suspicion. As Don Macpherson writes in the Gazette: “Liberals are disciplined and remain loyal to a leader, especially when they are in power, until he loses an election. Péquistes, on the other hand, are impatient, nervous and suspicious of any leader not named Jacques Parizeau. Since they last held power in 2003, they’ve already had three leaders.”

What’s more, unlike the Charest Liberals, the PQ has a potential leader prowling around the precincts. That would be Gilles Duceppe, who is getting long in the tooth in federal politics. Duceppe threatened to run against Marois once before. This time, if she really stumbles, he might go through with it.

So what we have now in the province is a Liberal government that is dead in the water and a PQ opposition that is not exactly setting the heather afire. What better time to fly a trial balloon about a new party?

A group of former politicians (Péquistes François Legault and Joseph Facal) and business people think the time is ripe for a new party that would regroup federalists and sovereigntists around a centre-right agenda and leaving the “national question” aside.

A new poll shows that such a new party would win 30 per cent of the votes in a Quebec election, with the PQ at 27 per cent and the Liberals at 25 per cent. If nothing else, these results suggest there is a deep desire in the population to break through the federalist-separatist division to some third force that would concentrate on the economic and social well-being of Quebec.

Such a party would emphasize fiscal restraint and smaller government. But would the Quebec voter buy into such a program? Ironically, this is what Charest wanted to implement when he first took office eight years ago. Charest, a small-c conservative, hoped to cut back on Quebec’s bloated bureaucracy, reduce some services and cut taxes.

But Charest discovered to his chagrin that he could carry neither his cabinet nor his caucus on a program of serious fiscal restraint. The government was even afraid to raise the rates for electricity, something practically all economists urged them to do. Recently all it took was the prospect of a coming by-election for Finance Minister Raymond Bachand to shelve plans to impose user fees for medical visits.

So attractive as a new party might be, especially one that jettisoned the sovereignty question, it is not at all clear that it would be able to sell a policy of fiscal restraint, the very policy that Charest could not sell when he first came into office.

Furthermore, as Lysiane Gagnon has pointed out, the new Legault party looks much like the old Mario Dumont party. The Action démocratique du Quebec was also based on a centre-right agenda and a moderate nationalist approach (for most of its life it did not even take sides in the sovereignty debates). One difference is that Legault’s movement was born in Montreal and might eventually attract more high-profile personalties than the ADQ, whose scope was limited to eastern Quebec.

What this new party does right out of the gate is underline popular dissatisfaction with the two old parties. Another election is not required until 2013. That leaves plenty of time for the Liberals to replace Charest and for the PQ to do a makeover on Marois (or replace her with Duceppe.)

In the meantime, a group that has no leader and no name is more popular than the two other parties who have both. No wonder the politicians are heading for the hills.

Published on Nov.2010

The Senior Times

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BLAST FROM THE PAST!

July 5, 2017

Here is an episode of McKenty Live!  with former Quebec minister of education Claude Ryan.

Originally broadcast on May 5th 1989

https://www.youtube.com/embed/UyMnG2R7JPw« >

NEIL’S RADIO SHOW

July 3, 2017

Exchange on CJAD with your host Neil McKenty

The Lines Are Blazing!!

Today’s subject is all about radio, with the live callers.


https://neilmckentyweblog2.files.wordpress.com/2016/10/all-about-radio.wav

Jean P.

DOES A STAY-AT-HOME VACATION MAKE ANY SENSE?

June 26, 2017

For starters a stay-at-home vacation means you don’t spend a nickel on travel or accommodation.

The experts say the key to a stay vacation is planning:

Just as you do when actually away on vacation, a start date and an end date.

Avoid working on projects around the house.

Avoid everyday routine:  Avoid the mail, e-mails and phone calls just as you do when away.

Set a stay vacation budget.

Act like a tourist in your own town.  Visit with fresh eyes places you would take visitors to visit.

Have you ever had a stay-at-home vacation?  How did it work?

Would you try one?

PIT STOP

June 14, 2017

 

Many of you might not know that Neil use to write for The Senior Times, he had a column called Pit Stop.  Since the weather is quickly changing here in Quebec, I found the perfect article for you.

Resist hibernating and enjoy the outdoors this winter.

 »If you want to enjoy the Montreal winter, you’ve got to join it. »  I wish I had heeded that advice when I first arrived in Montreal in the autumn of 1972.

That first winter I was broadcasting editorial comments on CJAD and producing and hosting  »Prime Time », a program for seniors.  On the week-ends I huddle with my wife, Catharine, (a writer-researcher at the Reader’s Digest) inside our apartment on the twenty-first floor of a high rise near the old Forum, and read the newspaper including the weighty Sunday New York Times.  This regimen turned out to be a recipe for lethargy, lassitude and recurring stupor.

At the time we didn’t have a car (once we toured a good part of the island of Montreal on two metro tickets), but the following winter, Catharine reconnoitred the lower Laurentians by bus to find a place to stay and to ski.  Happily, she discovered on the perimeters of Prévost, then Shawbridge, a sprawling white frame house with many appendages, the Laurentian Lodge Club, founded in 1923.

Catharine and I have now been members of the Club for more than twenty-five years, enjoying chef André’s savoury cuisine and cross-country skiing on trails with such evocative names as The Barking Dog, Fallen Women, The Madonna, and of course, portions of the Maple Leaf, laid out by the famous Herman Smith  »Jack Rabbit » Johannsen himself.

One stormy Saturday, I was chatting with Mr. Johannsen (then more than a hundred, still a skier and long-time member of the Club) in the living room beside the fireplace when the  »Chief » with a glint in his eye, lit a cigarette.   »I never smoke before lunch, » he explained,  »but I usually have lunch early. »

Mr. Johannsen was not the only notable member of the Laurentian Lodge Club, chock-a-block in those early years with young families and their children.  Other distinguished members included the renowned Dr. Wilder Penfield and Brooke Claxton, a minister in federal Liberal governments.

Not that the Club was an elitist conclave or luxury resort.  Far from it.  The original iron beds were purchased from the Montreal General Hospital for three dollars each.  Their springs were so dilapidated the mattresses had to be propped up by large sheets of stiff brown paper that crackled down the halls whenever the sleeper turned over.  Still, the spartan bedrooms were merely a counterpoise to the charm and gentility of afternoon tea served in front of the blazing fire by ladies in long gowns.

From its beginning in 1923, the Club was at the heart of early ski developments in the Laurentians.  Just beyond the first door across the river and through the trees loomed the Big Hill where in 1932 Alec Foster, using an old Ford engine for power, installed the first rope tow in North America, charging skiers five cents a ride.

From those early days, the Laurentian Lodge Club developed and still retains a distinctive élan marked by enthusiastic and warm camaraderie.   »The atmosphere, » as one senior member described it,  »was set by people in their eighties who had nothing to prove, » and who, it might be added, encouraged a tradition of fun skiing which meant taking time on the trail to stop to eat an orange and feed the birds.

This spirit continues, epitomized by the Club’s oldest active member, a vivacious ans elegant lady in her early nineties.  She still skis and still serves afternoon tea in a long gown.  She joined the Montreal winter a long time ago.  Obviously she had never regretted it.  Neither have I.

Published in February 1999

Jean P.

NEIL’S RADIO SHOW

May 17, 2017

NM001

Exchange on CJAD with your host Neil McKenty

The Lines Are Blazing!!

Today’s subject is all about radio, with the live callers.


https://neilmckentyweblog2.files.wordpress.com/2016/10/all-about-radio.wav

Jean P.

PIT STOP

April 27, 2017

From the archives:

Pit Stop - Oct

The Senior Times’ publisher Barbara Moser suggested I might look over the history of “Pit Stop” for this 20th anniversary issue, so I dug up my old columns and checked them out. To my astonishment I discovered I have been writing “Pit Stop” for more than eight years. Time goes fast when you’re having fun.

My very first column, in May, 1998, paid a tribute to Quebec’s teachers, one of my favourite groups of people, generally over-worked and under-paid. In my book, teachers come in right behind nurses who,

sadly, are drifting more and more to the private sector. One of my first columns stated the private sector should pay to keep the Expos in Montreal. No one from the private sector stepped up to the plate and the team is long gone. More astonishing than their leaving is the fact nobody seems to miss them. Early in 2000 I wrote that separatists didn’t want a clear question on separation. They still don’t. But that was before Jean Chretien nailed down the Clarity Act.

If the PQ win the next election (by no means certain) and if they call a referendum early in their first term (more likely), their chances of winning on an unambiguous question about separation are nil.

My column following Al Gore’s defeat in a rigged election was entitled “Beating around the bush with George Jr.” My first impression of the current Bush was that he is an airhead and a playboy. Nothing he’s done in the past six years has caused me to change my mind. Certainly, I believe Bush is the worst president in my lifetime, which goes back to Herbert Hoover.

In February 2003, I wrote that the impending war in Iraq threatens our world order. Now, six years later, 16 American intelligence agencies have unanimously concluded that Bush’s reckless adventure in Iraq has multiplied terrorists and made our world less safe. It seems to me now that what has happened in Iraq is also happening in Afghanistan. I believe we urgently need a serious debate about what precisely is our mission in that country.

I also wrote several columns on religion, especially the implications for my own tradition, Roman Catholicism. I also covered a number of moral and ethical issues: homosexuality, health care, euthanasia, creationism and the role of religion in public policy.

Of course I didn’t bring out the heavy artillery for every column. There were lighter musings on golf, books and films like Brokeback Mountain and The Da Vinci Code.

What I have tried to convey here is not only the content of the columns, but the fun I had doing them. The deadline was more like a lifeline.

I am proud to have been associated with Barbara Moser and her strong and enthusiastic team for the last eight years. I have also enjoyed meeting readers and getting your feedback.

By the way, I have just set up my own blog, “Neil McKenty Weblog,” at neilmckenty.com. Check it out and leave a suggestion or a comment.

Meantime, on this special anniversary of The Senior Times, I’ll drink one toast to the last 20 years and another to the next 20.

October 2006

PIT STOP

March 29, 2017

pit-stop-oct1

Irish vote puts new Europe on horizon.

After Ireland recently ratified the Lisbon Treaty, Europe has moved one step closer to being a full-fledged federation.

The potential significance for Europe of Ireland’s Yes vote in the Lisbon Treaty referendum may not yet be fully clear, but it is of major import. If the Lisbon Treaty now comes into force, the Irish electorate’s rethink will have rescued the viability of European unity, probably for a generation.

If the No side had prevailed in the referendum (as it did in the first one) the European Union would have suffered a massive, morale-sapping blow.

Not only would the Lisbon Treaty itself have been killed off, but so, too, would the prospect of reforming the EU for years, given that this time next year David Cameron and the Tories – a party and a leader both skeptical to Europe – would be in power in England.

With a Conservative-ruled UK vetoing every attempt to improve the EU, it is more than likely that Europe would be divided between states advocating further integration and states opposing it – a disaster for the continent.

However, the Lisbon Treaty is not quite a done deal. Two other states have not yet ratified: Poland and the Czech Republic. Both countries’ parliaments have voted approval but their Eurosceptical presidents have withheld their signatures.

Polish president Lech Kaczynski, however, promised last July to consent to ratification if Ireland voted Yes and he has now done so. This leaves Czech president Vaclav Klaus, who more than once said he would try to keep the treaty from coming into force.

Some have speculated that he wanted to delay signing until after the general election in Britain, in the hope the Conservatives would win and call a referendum on the treaty.

Now Mr. Klaus admits he cannot wait for a British election.

“They would have to hold it in the coming days or weeks. However, the train has now traveled so fast and so far I guess it will not be possible to stop it or turn it around, however much we would wish to.”

The treaty was designed to streamline the EU’s decision-making process following its expansion from 15 to 27 members. Critics, including Klaus, have described it as an attempt to create a European superstate that would rob individual nations of their sovereignty.

Some months ago, Klaus said he he would be the “last politician” in Europe to sign the the Lisbon Treaty. This has come true – but ironically his signature will now be the one that enables the treaty he despises to come into force.

That leaves British Conservative leader David Cameron.

Gavin Barrett, a senior lecturer at Trinity College, Dublin, specializing in European Union law, asks what Cameron’s chances are of blocking the treaty by calling a referendum in England once the Conservatives achieve power. “The answer, very simply,” Barrett writes, “is that it will end them. Once the Lisbon Treaty comes into force it will be irreversible. The new institutional architecture will be there to stay.” Part of that architecture might well be Tony Blair, considered by many to be the front-runner for the new position of EU president.

Much to the chagrin of the more Euro-phobic supporters, Cameron will have to abandon a now legally pointless referendum on Lisbon in favor of a concerted effort to repatriate certain powers to Britain – in social, employment, justice and home affairs. Whether he succeeds remains to be seen, although the UK could threaten to block the accession of new member states if it does not get its way.

Cameron’s hardest job will probably be managing Euro-phobia within his own party: An astonishing 40 per cent of Conservative supporters favor leaving the EU altogether.

Be that as it may, Ireland on its second try has broken the logjam preventing a new Europe.

RADIO WAVES

March 13, 2017

Exchange on CJAD with host Neil McKenty.

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Neil takes another call

What’s on your mind?  On today’s show, a medley of different subjects being debated and discussed with live callers.

RADIO WAVES

March 6, 2017

 

Exchange on CJAD with host Neil McKenty.

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Neil takes another call

Here is one of Neil’s daily episode of Exchange talking about Canadian psyche.