BLAST FROM THE PAST

December 21, 2016

McKenty Live! with host Neil McKenty

On today’s show, Neil has a good debate discussion with a guest and the live callers about the free trade agreement.

 

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

December 20, 2016

A lovely poem.

Lollipop To Magnifying Glass

A Love Letter

I know that I can be a little sour

And sometimes you have trouble seeing the big picture

Still, you’re better than the others

My last lover sucked the life out of me, and I made them rot

It was not a healthy relationship

You’re not like that.  No, you help me see clearer

You always notice the little things – the things that no one else thinks about

You peeled my wrapper and uncovered me

Whenever I feel bitter, you’re always there to remind me that I’m sweet

And I’m sweet on you

People used to treat me like junk, but not you

You see what others can’t

You have a handle on what’s really important

No need to sugar-coat things

I really like you, and I thinks you like me too

Micheal Hadziantoniou (age 15)

Published in the book Memories Never Lost

VINTAGE RADIO SHOW

December 19, 2016

Exchange on CJAD with host Neil McKenty.

The Lines Are Blazing!

On today’s program, Neil talks with Mr. Stanley Hart, Canada’s leader labor negotiator and lawyer about the transit strike. And of course the live callers.

BLAST FROM THE PAST

December 14, 2016

McKenty Live.

On today’s program, Neil talks about train transportation with Transport 2000 director Guy Chartrand. And the live callers.

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

December 13, 2016

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

VINTAGE RADIO SHOW

December 12, 2016

Exchange on CJAD with host Neil McKenty.

On this episode of Exchange, Neil talks with a former Russian military officer and asks the question: Should we be worry of the Soviet Union?

VINTAGE RADIO SHOW

December 8, 2016

Exchange on CJAD with host Neil McKenty.

On this program, Neil discusses capital punishment with guests and live callers.

BLAST FROM THE PAST

December 7, 2016

For yet another rare occasion, we see Neil from a different angle, on the other side of the microphone discussing his early life with Dennis Trudeau for the show Sunday Night.

Aired on 13/04/97

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

December 6, 2016

Pit Stop by  Neil McKenty

 

There is one difference between Canadians and Americans that is not much remarked on: the difference in their attitude toward government.

By and large, Canadians view government as neutral or even benign. It tries to establish a level playing field and provide a social safety net. For example, Canadians have no big problem with the government running a single payer health care system. Especially one that covers all citizens at about half the cost of the American system. Generally, Canadians are willing to pay higher taxes so that those most disadvantaged in our society may have access to health care and other services, such as low-cost drugs.

Not so Americans.

Many view government as the enemy. They cling to the view once expressed by President Ronald Reagan: “Government is not the solution, government is the problem.”

This view is rampant at the moment. It finds its strongest expression in the Tea Party movement, which finds its inspiration in the anti-government sentiments of the Boston Tea Party.

So far, the tea-partiers are a movement, not a political party. They want fewer taxes, smaller government, and more money on security and defence, which already costs almost $2 billion a day.

Both major political parties have reason to fear the Tea Party movement, the Democrats because the movement paints them as big government and big spenders, if not outright socialists, the Republicans because the Tea Party movement is driving the GOP farther to the right. They are demanding virtually a loyalty oath from the party’s nominees: lower taxes, lower deficits, no abortion, and more money for national defence.

Tea Parties began cropping up around the United States in February of last year, responding with anger to government bailouts of banks and car companies. They then took on the task of defeating Barack Obama’s plan on health care, showing up last summer to disrupt political meetings.

 Democrats and some Republicans dismissed them as “Astroturf,” or false grass roots. Few in either party now doubt their influence.

In fact, a recent poll revealed that more people viewed the Tea Party movement favourably than they did either the Democrats or the Republicans. That influence was brought to bear in the fight for the Democratic Senate seat held for 47 years by Senator Ted Kennedy in Massachusetts. It’s true the Democrats had a weak candidate and the independents moved heavily to the Republicans, but the Tea Parties were in the thick of the fight. The result was a surprise win by the GOP candidate who ran around in a pickup truck, inveighing against big government and the health bill.

The result of the election defeat in Kennedy’s old seat was a wake-up call for the Obama administration. Obama and his brain trust were advocating more entitlement programs and bigger government at the very time the voters wanted less governmental intrusion into their lives.

Should he have been pushing so hard for a health care bill when the real need was for more jobs in the private sector? It’s the economy, stupid, not socialized health care.

There’s no doubt there is considerable anger in the country against Obama and his poll numbers are dropping. I met several people here in California who don’t think he will win a second term. One retired businessman with whom I played golf in Palm Springs said he couldn’t wait for the 2012 election so he could run Obama out of Washington on a rail. But hold on for a minute. The next national election is all of three years away. Obama’s personal approval ratings are still sky high.

His policy ratings not so much. In the president’s first State of the Union address, he pivoted hard from health care and climate change to the economy and jobs.

And there’s something else. For all its growing influence, the Tea Party movement is a leaderless, ramshackle group whose only unifying plank is to attack big bad government. Is that enough to change a movement into a political party? Hardly. What’s more, the fact that it has no leader means that demagogues like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck become its loudest voices—not exactly a plus.

But what about Sarah Palin? Wouldn’t her brand of grass-roots populism and mean invective be tailor-made for the Tea Party movement? She is scheduled to be the main speaker for the tea-partiers at their first national convention, in February—although various factions are squabbling about her $100,000 fee.

But if you think Sarah Palin could be leader of a national party and a serious candidate for the presidency, please read Game Changer, the new pageturning book on the 2008 election.

It recounts in electric detail how John McCain’s senior advisers became concerned that Palin was mentally unbalanced. Her manic mood swings, her stubborn refusal to prepare for her interviews, her scalding rage against the press, all suggested Palin had a screw loose.

They were almost relieved when their candidate lost and Palin would never be a heartbeat from the presidency. I don’t think Obama has much to fear from Sarah Palin. Nor, for that matter, from the likes of Mitt Romney or Mike Huckabee. When some guy tells you Obama will be a one term president, ask him who will beat him, then listen to him stammer and stutter.

As many expected, President Obama used his first State of the Union address to pivot from health care (which he still wants) to the economy, and jobs. Jobs will be the four-letter mantra for the second year of Obama’s mandate. Other populist issues will include coming down hard on Wall St. and reducing the billowing deficits.

Just imagine the Republicans voting in favour of the bankers. The folks out there—including the tea partiers—will crucify them.

Three years from now, Obama will not be running against Superman. He will be running pretty much against the same rag-tag bunch that lost the last election. Don’t bet he won’t beat them again.

NEIL’S RADIO SHOW

December 5, 2016

Exchange on CJAD with host Neil McKenty.

Dirty Quebec politics is the subject on today’s program. With the live callers.