Archive for the ‘Provincial Politics’ Category

Fake news on the opioid front?

Saturday, May 18th, 2019

We were reading a poster telling us about a community meeting to discuss a proposed safe injection site in the neighbourhood. It invited anyone who wanted more information or had concerns to come to the meeting. We had barely finished reading when a voice behind us said, “It’s all a lie you know.”

It is very strange to hear that. Sure, we have had people tell us that Donald Trump was really a very fine gentleman, just misunderstood. We have even taken time to hear out climate change deniers to try to understand their reasoning better. This was a new one.

But why would anybody want to suggest that the politicians are lying about the deaths of opioid users? This has been in the news for many months. They are panicking about it on the West Coast. The Medical Office of Health in Toronto is deeply concerned. Our emergency measures people in cities such as Barrie, are frustrated and alarmed. And those fools running the Ontario government are cutting back the funding for safe injection sites needed to help stem the tide.

Do those idiots think they are saving money by letting people die?

I was amazed earlier this year when our local conservative MP wrote an item for the local grocery flier wrap about this. He actually questioned the idea of providing clean needles and a place for addicts to take drugs. I figured it was just his way of demonstrating his general incompetence.

Someone whom he respected must have gotten to him and convinced him that he should support safe injection sites. The really good news came later when he announced he would not run again for MP.

I have always been horrified over the years when seeing people heading down the slippery slide into the world of illicit drugs. It is a terrible waste of human life. I see the safe injection sites as an opportunity for knowledgeable workers to connect and maybe save the lives of some of these people. It is certainly worth the small cost.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

A crying towel for the Beer Store.

Thursday, May 16th, 2019

The Ontario government must be serious about Doug Ford’s promise to open up beer and wine sales in Ontario. We have both the Beer Store management (at Brewers Warehousing) and the Beer Store union paying for TV spots complaining about possible lost jobs. I wonder why? This is an opportunity for more jobs with the company, not less. To suggest that as many as 7000 unionized jobs at the Beer Store are at risk is a flat-out lie.

To begin with, there is the need for practically doubling the current distribution capability of the Beer Store. That means building new distribution nodes and hiring staff and more drivers. Why would any other company be given the right to distribute to as many as another 10,000 convenience stores, large box stores and grocery stores. It would likely make the Beer Store the largest distribution company in Ontario, if not Canada.

Secondly, the Beer Store organization could also become the largest recycling operation in Canada. Sales at all those LCBO, grocery, big box and convenience stores would stream back to the Beer Store for recycling. Some of the stores could keep their two-four business as a side line but could do far more recycling. They might even learn to do a better job of it.

Ontario citizens know that the current government at Queen’s Park would have little understanding of what is required to back up the needs of expanded retail systems. After the thrill of watching the government look stupid trying to get marijuana retailing off the ground in Ontario, we know this will not be the problem with beer and wine. We have a reasonably good distribution system in place and all we have to do is look at doubling it.

Just why the province would be paying some guy from Alberta $1000 per day to tell them how to do this, is a tough question. Maybe he could go back to Alberta and teach that province to do a better job in booze distribution with what he learns in Ontario.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

The Ford folk play high-speed games.

Wednesday, May 15th, 2019

What is a safe speed on a highway? That is a question that the Ontario government is trying to figure out. And they are wasting their time trying to answer it and they are wasting the public’s time.

Most drivers have an inflated idea of their driving skills and tend to push their limits. What drivers really need to consider are the driving conditions, visibility and condition of the vehicle they are using. The condition of the driver and others on the road are also a factor.

As Highway 400 passes through the city of Barrie, I am very used to turning on to the highway and setting my cruise control for the average speed on the left of the southbound lanes. That setting for many years, under good driving conditions, has been 120 kilometres per hour (74.5 mph). In an average of about 30 trips per year over the past 10 years, I have never been stopped by the provincial police who regularly patrol that highway.

The truth is that the de facto speed limit on all 400 series in Ontario has been 120 kilometres per hour for many years. These are restricted-access, multilane highways with centre dividers between the lanes in each direction. Sure, you will get a ticket for careless or abrupt lane changes and other motoring infractions but someone driving carefully and considerately at 20 clicks over the speed limit does not seem to be committing an offense.

So, what are those geniuses at Queen’s Park doing? They are creating some sections of 400 series highways where the drivers can feel free to drive at 110 kilometres per hour. They tell us that it is a test to see if people really want to drive so fast. I would be more worried if the de facto speed limit went up to 130 kilometres. We have to remember that not all of us have the reaction times of a race car driver.

And remember why many people go to auto races. They are watching for the more spectacular crashes.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Mayor Tory asks the rhetorical.

Tuesday, May 14th, 2019

Asking a question rather than making an accusation is another piece of equipment in the politician’s toolbox. Mayor John Tory of Toronto should be an expert at this form of bafflegab. He would have learned it in his years as a disciple of Ontario premier Bill Davis. Bill never publicly confronted his opponents. They were all friends.

This came home to me the other day reading about the letter Toronto’s mayor sent to the sitting conservative MPPs (other than the premier) from Toronto at Queen’s Park. What he was asking the MPPs to do was to speak up on behalf of their constituents. It seems that the provincial government had unilaterally and retroactively cut child care benefits of more than $80 million that subsidized day care spaces for more than 6000 Toronto families.

Tory had a perfect right to be disgusted with these MPPs but he knew their response before he asked. Backbenchers who rock the boat are sent to Purgatory. They become non-entities who do not get any good committee assignments or plum trips or chance of promotion. And if they ask too many questions or otherwise raise Doug Ford’s ire, they get sent to the far corner of the legislature to commiserate with former conservatives, MPPs, Amanda Simard, Jim Wilson and Randy Hillier.

Sure, John Tory would be well aware that conservative MPPs have a right to ask questions in the confines of caucus. The problem is that Doug Ford is not all that knowledgeable about the rights of the MPPs. Nobody wants to take the chance of angering him.

And while it is a long time since I took civics in school, there is little likelihood that any Canadian politician would be running for election solely for the purpose of representing his or her constituents. The road to power today is that you are elected in the sweep of your party, you answer only to your political party and your constituents be damned.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Bankrupt Ontario.

Monday, May 13th, 2019

You had no idea that Ontario was bankrupt, did you? We find that conservatives seem to have a very different definition of bankrupt than most bankers and economists. The other day Ontario’s deputy premier and health minister, Christine Elliott was on Global TV’s Focus Ontario, being interviewed by news anchor, Alan Carter. She told him that they have to cut spending on the sick and poor because Ontario was left bankrupt by the last regime.

One of Alan Carter’s weaknesses as an interviewer is that he has his own opinions and is not reluctant to express them. In this case, he was incredulous. He questioned the minister on her statement. He wanted to know on what basis could the province be considered bankrupt. He even asked the widow of a former federal finance minister how bad she considered the debt to provincial gross domestic product (GDP) to be that caused the supposed bankruptcy.

The interview did not end well.

Saying that the former government mishandled the public funds, has become a political mantra in Canada and the provinces for conservatives. The conservatives blanche at any and all deficits and always promise to balance the budget sooner than those other guys.

But what they are reluctant to do is to raise taxes for the wealthy. They are much happier making things more expensive for the middle class. And they consider poor people as something of a bother.

What the conservatives are best at is nickel-diming the public. They download welfare costs to the municipalities. They cut funding to our libraries. They tighten the rules for provincial welfare programs. They will increase fares for GO trains and buses. They are cutting down on the funding for school teachers and eliminating the jobs of teaching assistants. They are increasing the costs for the insufficient number of child care spaces for working parents. And the public suffers from the pains of a thousand cuts.

Christine Elliott is a very capable woman but she will let us down on behalf of this careless, uncaring conservative government.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Doug Ford meet Mike Harris.

Friday, May 10th, 2019

Philosopher George Santayana told us that “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” That idea has obviously sailed right over the head of Ontario premier Doug Ford. Despite his father being a back bench MPP for the Harris government, the younger Ford is making the same mistakes.

It was Mike Harris who cut back the number of MPPs in the 1999 provincial election to 103 from 130. Doug Ford Sr. lost in his attempt to win the conservative nomination in the new larger riding.

It must have been where premier Ford got the idea to cut the number of Toronto council seats when he took provincial office. He was settling some old scores. And he is hardly finished unloading provincial costs onto the municipality.

In fact, much of the younger Ford’s actions in office have been based on ‘get even’ and vindictiveness. And only an adhesive sticker salesman would come up with the highly partisan action of telling gas stations they have to have stickers on their gas pumps blaming the federal carbon tax for the price of gas. The only way gasoline retailers should comply is if they also show how much higher the provincial taxes on gas are in Ontario.

But the basic problem with this current Ontario government is that all these ‘get-even actions’ are costing the taxpayers more than they are saving them. Many of his ham-fisted actions are ending up costing us more instead of less.

It is obvious that one of the problems Dougie has is that he is trying to be a populist. He is trying to win the approval of people such as he knows in what they call Ford Nation. That is where the beer in convenience stores and tail-gate parties at football games comes from. He actually thinks of his supporters as a lower class of people. He sees himself as a benevolent lord of the manor.

In contrast to this stance by Doug Ford, Mike Harris was more of an ideologue. He thought the things he was doing were improving the way the better half of society could live. Harris, the golf pro, was a snob. Ford, the sticker salesman, is just another schmuck.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

It’s not a game, Mr. Ford.

Wednesday, May 8th, 2019

Ontario premier Doug Ford has yet to realize that he is not in a life-size game. There are repercussions and blowbacks and consequences for his whims at governing. Like the irresponsible Mike Harris, the premier of two decades ago, Ford has been busily downloading costs on the municipalities in hopes that his base would not know where the problems originated.

The problem is, his base might know, but does not care. His base is the person who casually throws the used Tim’s cup out the window of the SUV. There are lots of those people in the base. Most of them do not understand what he is doing. They are happy as long as their pal Dougie shakes up the establishment. That was what they wanted. The more we complain about Dougie’s cuts, the happier his base. It sounds to them like he is doing something.

Let me make it clear though that Dougie cannot commit all this mayhem without help. Look at the people who are gleefully joining in. Dougie has to have a conservative caucus behind him. Some of these people are even in his cabinet and get to join the fun. The cabinet is mostly trusted sycophants who are ill-equipped for their responsibilities or have their own agendas.

A couple of the favourites are the two Lisas, Lisa MacLeod is responsible for troubling parents with children with her hand throttling down services to communities and children. Lisa Thompson gets to spoil their childhoods with education. She is busy making sure we have fewer teachers and less classroom support in Ontario.

The entire caucus gets to stand and applaud when either of the Lisas stand to obfuscate a question in the legislature.

My favourite cabinet member is environment minister Rod Phillips. The sign over his door at the legislature should be “Abandon hope all ye who enter here.” How an environment minister can be opposed to environmentalism, leaves me at a loss.

But do not get me going about the rest of the conservative caucus. These are a bunch of drones who have no excuse at all for using our fresh air.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Who runs this country?

Tuesday, May 7th, 2019

Like it or lump it, Canada is a confederation. And that means the parts of the country that created it think they are just as important as the whole. As many wise politicos have noted over the years, it makes the country a bitch to govern. The federal government got the best of the deal though. It appoints the judges of the supreme court and that is where most of the complaints of the provinces go to die.

Scott Moe, the earnest premier of Saskatchewan learned something of this lesson the other day. He took the federal government’s effort to reduce carbon emissions to his province’s court of appeal only to get a 3 to 2 decision that the fed’s really do have the authority to do that.

Now Moe and his friends from Alberta, Ontario and maybe other provinces, will take the case to the supreme court. It might seem like a terrible waste of taxpayers’ money but every once in a while, it is necessary for the supreme court judges to take a look at how this country is, or is not, working.

It also means that the question is unlikely to be answered before some time late next year. What those provinces are really doing is getting behind Andrew “Chuckles’ Scheer, leader of the federal conservatives. They figure with Chuckles running the frat house on the Ottawa River, they can pretty well do anything they want.

It would mean the gutting of Medicare across the country. Our aboriginals would become lesser citizens. And federal transfer payments could become history. It will be like having the stupid members of the Trump family running the farm on the north side of the border.

What would also be history would be the liberal attempts to revitalize Canada’s middle class. Justin Trudeau has never defined the middle class very well but he has done a good job of improving the lot of families with kids in the process.

But we should be thankful that this country is not run by narrow-minded, right-wing schmucks such as Jason Kenney, or Doug Ford. It is bad enough that we are having to listen to them snorting like hogs in the mud in their respective provinces. Canadians can do better.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Is Kenney a Constitutional Crisis?

Monday, May 6th, 2019

It seems that between Jason Kenney and his predecessor as premier of Alberta, Kenney has the shriller voice. When he goes to Ottawa to bitch and whine about how his province is not given everything it wants, he knows the buttons to push and the people to harangue. There was no sign at the airport saying ‘Welcome Home Jason!’

And nobody is buying that crap about “a growing crisis of national unity” in Alberta that has only been created in the smarmy mind of Jason Kenney.

Who would believe the threats over Kenney’s opinion that the federal government “doesn’t care about a devastating period of economic adversity”? Any economic adversity in Alberta was created by greed and a lack of economic diversity.

It is disappointing that Kenney and his narrow-minded party got more than 50 per cent in the recent election. It says that Albertans, by and large are buying into the bitching and whining. It is easy to understand people who think they should not pay taxes. And it is easy to understand greed but there is nothing wrong in Alberta that the voters did not bring on themselves.

Albertans have ignored the very wise advice of former premier Peter Lougheed and devastated his Alberta Heritage Trust Fund. This was a fund to build a future for Albertans and instead successive provincial governments have used it to pay bills that were the taxpayers’ responsibility. This kind of waste and misdirection of the funds will continue as long as Albertans vote for it.

If the voters did not know what a sleaze Jason Kenney was before they elected him, they are certainly going to learn now. He took his victory lap in Ottawa to make foolish threats against the liberal government and prime minister Trudeau.

When is he going to learn what is needed to be done in Alberta?

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Why we are pissed with politicians.

Saturday, May 4th, 2019

They are even quantifying just how pissed Canadians are with their politicians these days. It makes sense. And interestingly, we see they are happier with their mayors and councillors. These local people are able to generate a 50 per cent approval rate. Provincial and federal politicos do not make it that high.

Greg MacEachern of Washington-based Proof Strategies’ Ottawa and Toronto office has been studying Canadian attitudes and claims that the low-flying politicos these days are the provincial ones across the country. Based on recent vote results, the provincials are probably lucky to be trusted by as many as a third of Canadians. At least the federals are at an average of 40 per cent trust rate.

There is certainly a lot of logic to those figures. The municipal people are close at hand and you can get to talk to them when you are dissatisfied with what they are doing. Besides, it is relatively easy to verify what is being reported by the local news media. And as there are supposedly no political parties involved, you get used to those politicians municipally who fall into right or left- wing categories.

But what is obviously pissing off the populace is the power of the political parties and the secrecy of our federal and provincial cabinets. When these people are planning how to change your life, people get concerned. The politicos are springing changes on them that the people get to pay for—like it or not!

One of the things I have found travelling back and forth across Canada over the years is that trust seems to come with the smaller size of provinces. In PEI and Newfoundland and Labrador, you can get to stop and have a pleasant chat with the premier in passing and nobody thinks anything special about it. The bigger the province, the more self important the politico can be.

The federal government just has better public relations. I go back to the era of both John Diefenbaker and Lester Pearson and both were delightful gentlemen with whom to chat. I found I could always get a laugh from Mr. Pearson and his successor Pierre Trudeau. And you could trust them. We seem to be going downhill since.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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