Archive for the ‘Provincial Politics’ Category

Dougie dumbs it down.

Tuesday, March 31st, 2020

You get the impression that our Ontario premier goes to the office each day hoping to find new things to screw up for Ontario residents. Despite the tantrum he threw the other day over a high-priced grocery store overcharging for sanitary wipes, I never get the impression that he is on our side. He is not.

I do not believe of making lists of peoples’ failings and in Doug Ford’s case I have probably forgotten half of them anyway. I think the reason is the lack of logic in what he and his troop of clowns decide to tackle. For some reason, he had taken aim at price gouging this past week.

It was Dougie’s ‘whim of the week.’ He is proposing fines of as much as a $100,000 for price-gouging convictions and up to a year in jail. If he could go after a federally incorporated company such as Bell Canada, I would settle for just the board of Bell going to jail for a year. Bell just raised the price of already over-priced Internet services by another $7 a month. Add that up for close to three million customers and you are talking about a billion dollars in annual cash flow. Bell could pay a $100,000 fine from petty cash.

But the most serious problem is that Dougie and the rest of his troop do not think things through. The gang heard that some people might be stock piling their meds. The government’s solution was to stupidly cut back on certain meds that are for long-term conditions such as with heart and diabetes. These drugs are usually supplied on a three-month schedule. I really doubt anyone would over-dose on any of them. There is certainly no black market for them. Nor are they in danger of being in short supply. All this incompetent government did was increase the costs for private drug plans and seniors. Instead of one co-pay for these prescriptions every three months, we now have to pay the co-pay three times. I really do not think my local Shoppers Drug Mart needs that extra $12 per prescription every three months from seniors!


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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Measuring social separation.

Wednesday, March 25th, 2020

We should all applaud the ingenuity of cashiers and others in their efforts to maintain social separation at this difficult time.

The prize for the most ingenious solution should go to a clerk in an Ontario Beer Store. (Yes, that’s what we call them here: The Beer Store.) Frankly, not one of these 450 or so stores in Ontario will ever win a design award. This is a recently built store and they actually have one cash directly behind another. The clerk was standing at the first cash directing customers to the second cash. There were lines on the floor there that were two metres apart going all the way back into the refrigerated warehouse, where you had (hopefully?) found your beer. The clerk had rigged a cardboard tray on a pulley system so that he could operate the first cash while serving the customer at the second cash—payment by credit or debit card only.

I think this is the hardest part of the covid-19 pandemic. Canadians do not trust their plastic five, ten, twenty and fifty-dollar bills to be free of the virus. It is just that when our circulated 100-dollar bills often test positive for traces of cocaine, it is no wonder we are suspicious.

But how can a business refuse to accept cash for what is normally a cash transaction? They always used to be delighted with cash. It lacks the stigma of the charges for using cards. Even if you have to dip the bills in a disinfectant, the savings are worth it.

And what is the big deal with returns? Nobody wants returns anymore. Even the Beer Store tells you to keep your booze bottles and cans until some unknown date. And all other stores are also telling you to keep your returns until some unknown date in the future. My wife, who spends almost as much time on returning as she does on shopping, is going to crowd us out of our home, if this lasts too long.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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Leadership is in the eyes of the followers.

Sunday, March 22nd, 2020

Bob Hepburn of the Toronto Star wrote an opinion piece last week that commented on Doug Ford of Ontario looking “downright ‘leaderly’.” I rarely argue with Hepburn, but in this case, I sense some wishful thinking. True, Ford is running a notch or two ahead of Trump but nobody ever saw that as a high bar.

I don’t think anyone convinced Ford of anything. I think they simply scared him into acting the way he is. He didn’t need a visit from Marley’s ghost to warn him of the coming visitations. He simply left behind the childish traits of bluster and braggadocio that have been his trademark in politics. It was time to act grown up.

I must have seen some of the same news clips as Mr. Hepburn. I agree that Ford acted as he believed a real leader might. None of the usual bombast was a treat in itself. The guy felt he had to stick with the prepared script. He has no ad libs for a coronavirus.

Let’s face it, Doug Ford is no Donald Trump. He is not rich enough. He is not a good enough con man. He does not have as much ego. He got much of his political training from his late brother Rob. As mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford knew how to pull the mantle over himself for the rough spots. Their mother was watching.

But when he got to Queen’s Park and the corner office, Doug had no idea how to act. His bluster was real. He really did not know what he was doing. He launched a vendetta against anything those liberals had done and got himself in lots of trouble. He fired and hired and made a mess of it. He cut budgets he should not have and missed the low-hanging fruit. He thought he could look like the big-man on campus and made himself look stupid.

And he is probably not any smarter today. He has not learned much but he might not be as easy to catch. We will watch him.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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Caught short in a pandemic.

Friday, March 20th, 2020

We drove several hundred kilometres the other day. At least the gas was cheaper. My wife and I had to take someone some food. It made me realize how bad the planning is by our politicians. They have no idea of the basic nature of our lives.

Prime minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario premier Doug Ford are people raised in privilege and who live in privilege. When would they ever have to worry about the availability of a toilet?

My wife and I stopped in a town for lunch. Ontario has shut down all food facilities other than take out. We had to settle for McDonald’s. I ordered while my wife went in search of a washroom. No luck! The cashier refused to unlock the washroom for my wife. She said it was not available because they were now just a take-out restaurant. We got the same refusal of the washroom key down the street at an Esso gas station. Luckily, a little further along, a grocery supermarket had a handy unadvertised washroom.

But it told us a lot about the bad planning of our leaders. North America has always been stupid about the availability of public washrooms. Nobody needs to be embarrassed about simple bodily functions. And what parent has not had to assist a youngster in this basic exercise at the side of the road?

But what it shows is the basic elitism of our leaders. How much of that $82 billion offered the other day really goes to the people most in need? If you gave the people helping the homeless a few thousand in $50 bills to hand out every day, it would move through the economy like it was greased.

If there was ever a time in Canada to better understand the need for a guaranteed income plan, it is at this critical juncture. Think of this: give everybody, male, female, over 16 years-old, $400 every week in script. If you have not spent the money by the end of the current month, the script expires. And, if you make more than $600 per week at the same time, the money is taxed back to the government.

It is time for innovative solutions.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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The imperfect timing of Doug Ford.

Saturday, March 14th, 2020

It seems that no matter what he does, Ontario’s premier Doug Ford, finds that it always costs more than he saves when he makes cuts in Ontario’s government budgets. It costs him money to fire people. It costs him money to cancel projects. It costs him friends when he cuts health or education budgets. And when he tries to give friends jobs, he is held up to ridicule by the media. He is beginning to think it is just that he does some things at the wrong time.

Probably the best example of Doug’s bad timing is this Covid-19 pandemic. Why only a year ago, he had decisively dumped some of the costs of public health services on Ontario’s municipalities. Even Mayor John Tory of Toronto dumped all over him for that.

But Doug Ford is not without experience at fixing things for people who are upset. He tells them that his government is restoring funding—maybe not all the funding—but maybe enough of the funding to get him off the hook for being a curmudgeon. He gave the whole thing a grace period and it would be in 2020 that some cuts would still be made. Which everyone grumbled about but figured it could have been worse.

And welcome to 2020. The budget-squeezed public health services had been complaining but are still doing their jobs. Nobody told the public health people that in 2020, they were going to have to face a possible pandemic called a coronavirus or Covid-19.

The only person that Covid-19 has helped is Ontario finance minister Rod Phillips. It means he can blow the lid off his projected $9 billion deficit planned for the coming fiscal year. He has to give the health ministry and others whatever they need to help battle the pandemic.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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Doug Downey doubles down.

Friday, March 13th, 2020

That nice guy, Bill Davis, one-time Ontario premier, must be having some sleepless nights. Those idiots in his conservative party are busy destroying Bill’s legacy. They spend more money on their dumb ideas than any other Ontario government in the past. And they never get anything right. From the premier who wants to only appoint cronies to any job and personally picks stickers for gas pumps and license plates, to that education minister who acts like a fugitive from the Godfather movies, to an attorney general who ignores a common sense approach to appointments, this is a conservative government from Hell.

Did you hear about the latest dumb stunt by my MPP? Yes, Doug Downey is the member of the legislature from Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte. This guy’s justice ministry has more than 30 committees working to attract, vet and advise on Ontario citizens suitable to serve on all the legal and other appointments by the government of the day.

But what does Downey do? This schmuck appoints a Toronto police officer—a friend of the premier’s—to the Ontario Human Rights Commission. The cop did not even apply for the job. It appears this appointment is by Dougie, for Dougie, to appoint Dougie’s friend.

And, has the independent integrity commissioner ever got his shirt in a knot about this stupidity. I have no idea of the per cent of cases brought before the human rights commission dealing with policing but my guess is the cop would have to recuse himself at some time, at every meeting of the commission. I am sure we could all appreciate the insights that a former cop could bring to the commission’s work but not while still employed at policing.

And one further note: Doug Ford is younger but I remember driving through American states and seeing the Berma-Shave series ads along the highways. Maybe he also might have noticed them. It is no excuse though to be waxing nostalgic for billboard advertising along the 400-series highways of Ontario. He is talking about opening our scenic controlled-access highways to advertising. He must be desperate.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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Bigotry is blooming early in Quebec.

Tuesday, March 10th, 2020

It seems to come each year with the spring flowers. Bigotry is the passion of Quebec nationalists. They care less that people recognize them for what they are: small-minded, intolerant, ignorant and ungracious people who want to inflict children and youth with their narrow and harmful parochialism. They want to build Trump-type walls around Quebec.

These are the people who challenge religious symbols. They seem to fear the inanimate objects of devotion such as a cross, a Jewish yarmulke, a Sikh turban or a Bedouin hijab. Just how they are threatened by these objects or dress, we cannot fathom.

But their passion has launched early this year. With the smarmy connivance of premier François Legault and his right-wing pequistes in his coalition avenir Québec party, the national assembly has a new hate bill to pass. The education minister, Jean-François Roberg, is proposing a bill to abolish a program that teaches Quebec students respect and tolerance for people of different faiths.

To their horror, the politicians have found that the program works. Instead of joining the pequistes’ hate movement, the young people in Quebec are becoming more inclined to be tolerant and accepting of others’ views and religions.

This has angered the nationalists in Quebec who want to build walls against multiculturalism as evidenced in the rest of Canada. What they are really going to try to do is change the course to their religion, that is actually secularism. As a religion, secularism denigrates the various religions as pap for the masses. It is closer to an atheistic viewpoint. With the lingering vestiges of the once dominant Roman Catholic church in Quebec, these nationalists see even the weakened Roman church as a threat to their movement.

The nationalists describe the present teaching on ethics and religion as a type of virus that teaches the young to appreciate multiculturalism and pluralistic ideas. The youth of Quebec would certainly also benefit from learning about the European experience in lowering borders and expanding cultures. The nationalists in the national assembly have an evil agenda for them.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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“Most stupid people are conservative.”

Monday, March 9th, 2020

This will be of small comfort to premier Doug Ford of Ontario. A friend reminded me the other day of the quote from 19th Century philosopher John Stuart Mill that “Although it is not true that all conservatives are stupid people, it is true that most stupid people are conservative.” And the Ford government keeps on proving it.

Mind you, I am concerned that Ontario’s teachers might have not yet recognized that they have won their battle. It is time for them to take a victory lap and get the hell back to work. They have inconvenienced the parents long enough. Goodwill is a fragile commodity.

All teachers should have two side-by-side pictures in their classroom. Both pictures should be of education minister, Stephen Lecce. In the first, you will be able to admire the fine cut of that expensive suit, the positiveness of his demeanour, the toothy smile and the smooth trim of that immature beard. That is the first picture.

The second picture should show him snugged into his straight jacket, the wild look in his eyes, the mussed hair and the craven look of defeat. This should be what victory looks like.

But I warned the friend that despite the general consensus in Ontario that Doug Ford is something of a jerk, about 25 to 30 per cent of the voters are yellow-dog conservatives. And that, no matter what, they still want to vote for Mr. Ford and his conservatives. Short of putting a bounty on them, they are going to the polls and voting that way.

The problem is further befuddled that another 25 to 30 per cent of Ontario voters are yellow-dog liberals. They might have a slightly different attitude. The only real difference between them is that they tend to be city mice. They are also inclined to be a bit more progressive.

It should also be noted that there are those who are of the dying breed of socialists who like to sing Solidarity Forever. These NDP still have about 15 per cent of the voters supporting them. It is more for the sake of nostalgia than any idea that it will take them anywhere.

But this still leaves a bunch of voters who are not really committed. These are the people who vote against something or get behind the voting screen and say, “Eeny, meany, miney, moe,” close their eyes and vote. You would like to think these people really decide the election but they often just go with the flow.

Obviously, it is not just conservatives who can be stupid.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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Well, that was a waste of time.

Sunday, March 8th, 2020

Ontario liberals have a new leader. It was a fairly decent event. I only caught some parts of it that were streamed on the Internet. It was a good technical effort but I think the party brass scrimped on the lighting and technical equipment.

The numbers there were credible for a party that knew who was going to win. Not many of us want to spend our Saturday morning listening to political speeches but some of it was fun. The robot was a bit silly but I liked some of the things Mr. Tedjo was saying.

He was saying something very important about education in Ontario. I made the mistake of saying the same thing as a candidate 50 years ago. The government has to get out of the religion business in schools. We need a single education system that puts the student first. It might not be a good one-size-fits-all approach at first but it allows the scope needed to accommodate. We are wasting money on religion. (Mind you, French language classes should be mandatory from grade one.)

But back to the results of the liberal leadership: It will not be long until Ontario voters wonder what might be the difference between this leader and the last one. All I can say is that the last one was the one with hair and personality.

What was wrong with this event was that it was that it had no excitement, no surprise—if you discount the robot. It was a bit forced.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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Riding the bubble.

Saturday, March 7th, 2020

It helps if you think of the main aspirants for the federal conservative party leadership as Bland, Blander and Who(?) This perception was highlighted the other day. It seems one of them promised—if chosen—that they would immediately try to force an election to rid the country of those despicable liberals. The other two immediately chimed in with a “Me too.”

All three want to ride the bubble. The bubble is something that occurs whenever there is a leadership change in a major party. It is that sudden, and temporary, lift in the opinion polls that the party gets from the publicity surrounding the choice of a new leader.

It works, sometimes. The last time I saw it work well was in 1968. We called it Trudeaumania. Our present prime minister’s father got the impression that he was omnipotent in that election. He later learned that omnipotence has a short shelf-life.

Trudeau Junior thought he was riding the bubble back in 2015, when he had such an easy victory and a majority government. That was no bubble. Justin was cashing in on the voter exhaustion with the machinations of the Harper government and the hope that Trudeau was like his father. It took the voters the next four years to realize they might have bought a pig in a poke.

That is one of the problems with the bubble. You are often getting lots of publicity at the time but it is without substantive content. And sometimes a picture really is more effective than 1000 words.

But the bubble is real. Some people will say that in the 2018 provincial election in Ontario, you could have painted any idiot blue and he would have beat Kathleen Wynne and her liberals. And, they did, and he did.

The bubble worked that time because there was just not enough time. If Ontario voters had time to think about it, more time to understand Doug Ford, there might not have been the landslide that they are now regretting.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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