Archive for the ‘Provincial Politics’ Category

Let’s get this show on the road.

Sunday, November 17th, 2019

As an Ontario liberal (a paid-up member), I am aware that there is a contest afoot to select a new Ontario party leader. And I hear that only those paid up by December 2, 2019 will be eligible to be elected to go to that easily corrupted delegated-convention in Toronto at the beginning of March 2020 to choose the new leader.

But what kind of a race is this if the four Toronto area candidates and the London area candidate (so far) do not take their shows on the road? Those of us in central and northern Ontario are not just window dressing. And we like to influence where the party is going. It is hard to have an opinion when you have never met any of the candidates.

I must admit that Michael Coteau from Don Valley East in Toronto is running the most aggressive campaign so far. He has bought that NationBuilder software and makes a very credible presentation. He keeps supporters and possible supporters informed and is more sensitive than the federal liberals in how often and how aggressively he asks for financial support.

Coteau also stays away from the trite political language and asks people to think. He is running an idea-based campaign. The problem is the web sites, FaceBook pages, Twitter and the others, do not make a campaign. Politically-active people need face time.

This is something that Mitzi Hunter, the other sitting MPP understands. Yet the media assume that former MPP and cabinet minister Steven Del Duca is in the lead because of the low-hanging fruit in support that he features in his web site.

I think Kate Graham from London will add something to the race. I have often wondered how a political science academic would do in a real leadership contest? Alvin Tedjo is the other inexperienced candidate and yet, he works from his strengths with some excellent podcast material on his web site.

But it is expensive for the candidates as it is for the people attending the March convention. With only five candidates, it would be a shame to lose any of them at this stage.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

 

“Regrets, I’ve had a few…

Saturday, November 9th, 2019

That is not contrition. When Frank Sinatra sang Paul Anka’s song My Way, he said those regrets were too few to mention. The listener is left wondering what is left untold that he does not mention. It is the same as Ontario premier Doug Ford’s crushing changes to the province’s welfare system. This cruel exercise in false populism has led to restoring one aspect after another of social welfare payments to desperate people. And yet we are left wondering, what cuts are yet to be mentioned? How do we restore faith in the government?

And what has this government proved by its actions?

We know that this is an ideological government. It is a vindictive government. It is a government that is led by an incompetent.

It has been very interesting watching Education minister Stephen Lecce try to clean up the mess in education left behind by Lisa Thompson. Thompson, as minister, did what the ideologues in the Ford cabinet demanded in terms of class sizes, in hopes of savings in teachers’ salaries. Nobody had considered the fact that teachers and school staff across Ontario were ready to negotiate new contracts this fall. Lecce made sure there was some very quick footwork in the ministry to restore jobs and improve student/teacher ratios. He and the government still face tough bargaining.

There is also little question that the back tracking on amalgamating municipalities is saving Ford’s government from further confrontations. It is still hard for the premier himself to find an audience that will not boo him in Toronto. There is little question but that Doug Ford kept the federal conservatives from any inroads into the Greater Toronto Area in the recent federal election. He gave conservatism a bad name.

It comes as no surprise that he is now making vague promises to be a little more careful. Most school yard bullies will make that promise. We will just need to wait and see.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

‘Goddamn the CPR.’

Friday, November 8th, 2019

Can you imagine two more Canadian icons than journalist Allan Fotheringham and the Canadian Pacific Railway? It came as a pleasant surprise recently to see a television interview with ‘Doc Foth.’ He was as sardonic as ever. I have always admired Fotheringham for his writing skills and his humour. In fact, I have not read a copy of Maclean’s magazine since they unceremoniously retired him in 2002.

But all I was trying to do was check my memory of something I think Allan wrote 20 or 30 years ago. It was the probably apocryphal story of the Saskatchewan farmer whose wife ran off with a drummer, whose daughter did not know who got her pregnant and the locusts destroyed his wheat. The farmer looks to the heavens, shakes his fist and roars: ‘Goddamn the CPR.’

A friend reminded me of the story when he asked me about a Toronto Star editorial cartoon by Michael de Adder that he did not understand. It was a drawing of Alberta premier Jason Kenney at his desk and he had spilled his little bucket of paper clips. The comment coming from his mouth is: ‘@#Z$ Trudeau.’

What the cartoonist was showing was the well-known penchant of our dear friends out on the Prairies for blaming someone else for their spills and other problems. From the time when then prime minister Pierre Trudeau had asked some Prairie farmers a rhetorical question about selling their wheat, it has been popular across the Prairies to replace the CPR with a ‘Trudeau’ when complaining to their deity.

For all that our current prime minister Trudeau has tried to do for the Prairies, he is still vilified by Prairie politicians. My respectful advice to these politicians is that they should own the problems they create. Nobody in Ottawa is responsible for the volatility of crude oil pricing on world markets. Nor are they responsible for the environmental problems when shipping diluted bitumen. And they can tell Jason Kenney to pick up his own ‘@#Z$ paper clips.’

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

Democracy costs $500?

Tuesday, November 5th, 2019

For the past 60 years, we have watched Canadian politics spiral into a quagmire of failed ideologies and failed leadership. We continue the pattern by choosing leaders by old methods that are easily corrupted, that fail the voting public and fail our political parties. The planned contest for the leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party is an example of the problem.

Scheduled for March 6 and 7, 2020, the provincial liberal hierarchy is running an outmoded delegated convention in Toronto. It is a convention to supposedly decide on a new leader. In some electoral districts, massive signing of ethnic groups will take votes away from local liberals and send controlled delegates to an easily rigged convention.

Costs to delegates at the convention (if they pay by February 21) is $499 and just $249 for seniors and youths. You may rest assured that any and all deficits that the party still faces from the last election will be covered by these punitive fees.

Once the delegates, who can afford it, get to the convention, they will find it is not their event. It is the party elite of past and present—MPs, MPPs and party officials—who control the convention. At the last convention, that chose Kathleen Wynne, the question was already locked in as fellow candidate Glen Murray had passed all his delegates to her when it was too late to change the delegate voting ballots. Wynne went into that convention in just second place but it was the losers who chose her. They were the third and fourth place candidates who took their voters with them to support Wynne. It reinforced the idea that the losers are the choosers.

Some political parties have tried to overcome this problem by using preferential voting. This is where the voter is asked to number all the candidates in order of preference on the first (and only) ballot. That was the way the federal conservatives voted for their last leader. And look what they got!

The liberals will only have democracy in their party when all members can vote. And continue to vote until one candidate has a majority. Democracy should not cost $500 per voter.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

A “Values Test” for Quebecers.

Monday, November 4th, 2019

The Quebec National Assembly seems to be constantly against immigration. Combined with the ill-disguised bigotry behind the Bill 21 restrictions on the wearing of religious symbols, it is sending a message to many potential immigrants that they are not wanted. The entire charade holds economic consequences that are little needed by Quebec or the rest of Canada.

First, this parochialism is damaging Canada’s reputation that has been built over many years. Canada has been known as a welcoming country. And there is little reason for the simple immigration test used by federal employees to not be in tune with Quebec as well as other provinces.

Immigrants are key to our economic growth. Jobs often depend on the availability of the right skills and experience. Quebec’s education system can do its best to educate for those needs but it is immigration that helps build our markets, while fulfilling the experience needed. These immigrants also bring knowledge of more markets to our businesses. Canada is a major trading country and we always need efforts to increase our markets and sales opportunities.

And immigrants are also key to increasing our domestic markets. Every immigrant is a consumer. They might not eat the same foods or wear the same styles, at first, but it is in time that they blend in with the rest of the community in which they live. And maybe we learn about how they prepare their food and learn of their clothing styles.

But like the Irish immigrants who came to Quebec to escape the potato famines of more than a century ago, today’s immigrants can also become Quebecers. And they both contribute to our values and share our values.

What people sometimes forget is that Canada is a country still under construction. It is hardly finished developing and growing. You cannot stifle it.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

Pot foils police and politicos.

Friday, October 18th, 2019

After a full year of government legalized and regulated marijuana sales, nobody is making money other than the criminal element that has been in the business all along. These people know their market, look after their market and have no problem with undercutting government pricing.

What the police and politicos, who planned this failed legal pot operation, across Canada do not understand is that it is a service business. When you build barriers to providing service, your business goes to those who can provide service. Your friendly pot purveyor down the street is there for you. This person is making substantial profits up and down the supply chain in a commodity that is no longer illegal for you to have in your possession.

The first mistake, the politicos made was to give the challenge of planning a legalized marijuana market to a cop. And, to make matters worse, this is a cop with a dubious reputation when it comes to human rights. Former Toronto police chief Bill Blair’s officers kettled Canadian citizens out for an evening stroll during the G20 in Toronto in 2010, denied them their rights and created what is considered the worst abuse of human rights in Canadian history. He, somehow, got swept into office as an MP with the Trudeau tide in 2015.

And with a political point-man such as this, a stiff, oppressive plan was put in place by the civil servants, who also seemed to know little about the product or its marketing. Their objective, so they said, was to undermine the illegal trade, instead, they guaranteed a lucrative illegal market for years to come.

Their first mistake was to put the actual marketing chore in the hands of the provinces. They built more barriers to success. In Ontario and Quebec, there are some 25 stores in operation in each province plus a mail order system—for a total market of over 23 million people. In Ontario, selection of retail outlets is by a strange form of lottery and there are huge gaps in market coverage. Instead of an open legal market, we have a highly restricted market where there is only profit for the illegal sellers.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

Taking the road to totalitarianism.

Thursday, October 17th, 2019

It is in Fortress Alberta that Jason Kenney did declare that his propaganda machine will be removed from all controls. What started as a so-called war room will now be known as the Alberta Energy Communications Centre and based in Calgary.

Nobody has said whether this new entity will replace the propaganda arm of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP). This organization has been relentless over the years in trying to get the news media to refer to the Alberta tar sands as oil sands and tar-sands bitumen as ‘heavy oil.’

These are the people who tried to take advantage of deaths in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec from highly volatile fracked crude oil, to try to sell the idea that pipelines were safer than rail.

But Jason Kenney has more extensive ambitions. As Alberta, leader for life—or at least until he gets bored and returns to Ottawa. His propagandists are there to deny global warming. They will fight to finish the Trans Mountain pipeline and the Energy East pipeline. They will make bitumen the saviour of the Canadian economy.

But the biggest challenge to this communications centre will be to promote Jason Kenney as the hero of Canadian unity. After all his threats of taking Alberta out of the Canadian federation have caused nothing but laughter from his friends down east.

But the most serious concern is that we are not all that sure how much public money has been spent on this form of totalitarianism—and how much more will be channeled into it.

The best indicator of the intent is that the centre has been privatized and removed from any responsibilities under Alberta’s freedom of information act. Premier Kenney does not want any sneaky media people finding out what these people are doing, And Heaven-forbid that the good people of Alberta be told anything about what their premier-for-life is doing.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

Our MPP is heard from.

Tuesday, September 10th, 2019

It seems that the member of the Ontario legislature for Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte does visit Barrie occasionally, usually while on his way to or from his home up in Severn Township. Recently, Doug Downey M.P.P. even held a news conference in Barrie to discuss the problem of what he calls ‘Catch and Release.’ It might be sporting for fishermen but causes ongoing problems for our police in smaller cities such as Barrie.

In Barrie, the courts are located on the edge of downtown, convenient for people to return to the scene of their crime and repeating it. The police tend to blame the problem on the supreme court that has ruled that a person charged with multiple crimes still has to be treated as guiltless until convicted of something.

The basic problem is that the politicians starve the courts, refusing to expand them or to appoint more judges and then blame the judges for not processing criminal cases fast enough.

As attorney general of Ontario, Downey has to take responsibility for the problem. He expressed the problem quite succinctly in the news conference when he said that keeping costs under control is also important to his government.

What is becoming clear to most Ontario residents is that this current provincial government places too much emphasis on controlling costs and very little in doing the jobs that Ontario taxpayers are funding.

In fact, this government cuts so many costs that it creates more serious problems than we had in the first place. They constantly put their ideology ahead of doing a good job.

To make matters worse, we have a premier who has no clue as to how to run the province. He blustered his way through an election campaign against a government that had run out of gas. We are paying for the consequences.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

From Rae Days to Ford Years.

Monday, September 9th, 2019

It does seem odd to think of current conservative premier of Ontario Doug Ford and former NDP premier Bob Rae at the same time. The other day Bob Hepburn of the Toronto Star tried to compare the two in an opinion piece. He failed. The reasons that Bob Rae failed as premier and Doug Ford will fail are very different.

Doug Ford will fail because he doesn’t listen to advice: Bob Rae failed because he did listen. Rae listened to Thomas d’Aquino. At the time, d’Aquino was running the Business Council on National Issues—the most powerful business group in Canada.

It was d’Aquino who convinced Bob Rae and his finance minister, Floyd Laughren from Sudbury, that the most serious economic problem facing Canada in the 1990s was the out-of-control deficits at the time of both federal and provincial budgets. He convinced the provincial politicians that Paul Martin, finance minister for the Chrétien government was already on board.

The problem was that, as a left-wing economist, Laughren had no solutions to the growing deficits. Rae of course, was more of a middle of the road liberal and bought into the Martin solution. Rae ended up giving his name to the imaginative solution of civil servants taking unpaid days off instead of pay cuts, which they were anyway.

Rae became a laughing stock and his government was easily defeated by what Ontario residents found was much worse conservative government of Mike Harris.

There are many similarities between the Harris government of 1995 through 2003 and the present Ford regime. The very fact that Harris won a second term was more a commentary on the weak opposition facing his government at the time than any high approval rating. And after the deaths in Walkerton, Ontario in 2002, because of the poor management, Harris was toast.

Since Doug Ford’s style is just bluster and incompetence, nobody expects him to be around after the next provincial election.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

When Dougie can’t recant again.

Sunday, August 25th, 2019

There is a growing problem for the Ontario conservative government at Queen’s Park. Occasionally, the government realizes it made a boo-boo. Frankly, it has had a lot of opportunity for this in the last year but, only occasionally, the cabinet will have what might be referred to as a “Come to Jesus event” when it realizes it did not do the job properly. It has to back track.

This would like that guy with the bad hair cut in the United Kingdom’s parliament finally admitting that Brexit was a really stupid idea.

Mind you, the funny farm at Queen’s park is not supposed to do anything as dumb.

Yet, Dougie and the gang do make the odd boo-boo. Take the ‘class-size’ instructions to school boards. The school boards were told that they should start increasing average class sizes (above grade 4) from the present 22 students to 28 over the next four years. It was up to the boards how they would accomplish this but the net result in the first year was to save the province $250 million.

As you can imagine there were the loud screams and incantations directed at Dougie and the gang but they were immune to that. The school boards did not like it but they moved things around, fired excess teachers and support staff and assured Queen’s Park that their will would be done.

What we expect happened was that the new education minister who was told to fix the mess noted that there were new contracts to be negotiated this fall with the province’s teachers. It seems he had paid attention in school and had an understanding of cause and effect. He realized that he was going to be faced by some really pissed off teachers this fall.

And that might just be why the school boards are currently trying to figure out how to unfire a lot of teachers!

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me