Archive for the ‘Provincial Politics’ Category

LDP 02: What is in a name?

Friday, June 22nd, 2018

One of the responses we received about a proposed new liberal democratic party (LDP) was from a reader who thought we could just join the Green party and be done with it. As much as I have admired green leader Elizabeth May’s hard work and leadership of the Green Party, I see no reason for liberals to join her party.

Just one of the problems is the name of the party. By calling itself the Green Party, it narrows its purpose, if not focus. It tells people that the party is about the environment and tells us nothing else.

The NDP is also very keen on the environment and takes an equally strong stance. Its problem is that much of its rhetoric is still based on the socialism of the 1930s. The party has failed to build an image for the 21st century.

Despite May’s intelligent and well-researched positions on many aspects of governance, she cannot be all-knowing. As a one-person party, May is stretched beyond reason in parliament. Many MPs over the years have admitted to me that it is about all you can do in parliament is keep up to date on one department as well as do your constituency work

Even the liberal party has taken positive stands on protecting the environment—until prime minister Justin Trudeau’s recent offer to buy and ship highly polluting Alberta bitumen through an expanded Trans Mountain pipeline. Not only is government participation in shipping bitumen bad economics but it is enraging a core of environmentally concerned liberals. Justin Trudeau and the liberals will need all of their mobs for re-election next year and will not find all of them.

But the liberal mobs had already felt themselves adrift. For some inexplicable reason, Trudeau had decided much earlier that he did not like his father’s party. As useful as the party had been to him, he wanted a top-down structure that he could manipulate to his choosing. He went from no party membership fee (and no membership) to a large group of e-mail addresses for people to harangue for help in campaigning and to provide the campaign funds. Those of us who think of ourselves as liberals have been cast aside for the gullible and the monied.

After next year, we will need a new federal liberal party as well as provincial.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

LDP 01: A new liberal party.

Tuesday, June 19th, 2018

It appears that we need to start with a new liberal party in Ontario. Creating and launching a new political party does not happen overnight. A new party has to start with the need at the grass roots; platforms and leadership can come later. This series of postings will present the basics and we would like to have readers jump in with their own wants and suggestions. If you want your name connected with suggestions, please say so. We can also put them into the mix for you.

We should start with a name and positioning. I have arbitrarily chosen The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) as a working title. I would also like to be part of a truly centre-left and liberal party. I am frankly disgusted with people in the liberal party people who think of themselves as liberals socially and conservatives economically. That, to me, is an oxymoron. These people belong in a conservative party. I expect that for every right-wing liberal we lose to the conservatives, we will more than make up from the new democrats who are tired of the self-centred public service unions that dominate to-day’s NDP.

While the definition of centre-left is a rather broad target, I see it as being well within the scope of the human rights positioning of liberalism. I have always seen real liberals as those who will fight for the rights of the individual in our society.

But what is the point of freeing the individual if we then leave them in the grips of poverty? How can they enjoy a full life without good healthcare? And what point is providing the healthcare if the needed prescriptions are not readily available to them? And do we have to continue the crime of not providing the education of which people are capable? If we are going to respect the individual, we are going to have to be sure they are fed a healthy diet, clothed, housed, educated and have the opportunity for a full and rewarding life. There is no sudden leap into this nirvana but we must look to our goals as objectives. All of our society has to share the planning. All need to share in the benefits.

It has to be remembered that at any given time it will only be about a third of our population who are generating the resources to provide the benefits of our society. To do that we must become ever more productive and use automation and technology effectively to add to our efforts.

There are challenges ahead for us. We need to plan well.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Did Brown lay the table for Ford?

Sunday, June 17th, 2018

The only newspaper in Ontario that gave a real damn about the lynching of conservative leader Patrick Brown back in January was his hometown Barrie Advance. It is owned by the Toronto Star and while it is just a poor quality shopper in which to wrap grocery flyers, the publication has editorials just like a real newspaper. It is the only regular print media in a city of close to 150,000 people. This past week (it is a weekly publication), it had an editorial saying that “Brown’s work helped Ford win.”

This bravura assertion is questionable. There is probably a long list of people who helped Doug Ford win the Ontario conservative leadership and then the provincial election. I think we can all agree that the first name on that list should be premier Kathleen Wynne. Her quitting the race a week before election day was the guarantee that Ford would win.

A close second was new democratic leader Andrea Horwath. Her inadequate and incompetent leadership of her party left Ontario voters no choice. Her hidebound position on the York University strike before the election left voters with the clear impression that she could only follow the party line.

I thought the guy who really helped Ford was Patrick Brown’s friend Walied Soliman. He was chair of Brown’s campaign team and “The People’s Guarantee” that Walied’s team put together and had Brown present last November was one of the most brilliant pieces of propaganda that I have seen for a long time. Weak in content, it made up for it in slickness. Ford only loathed it because it had Brown’s picture on the cover.

But the unknown person who orchestrated the charges against Brown by the two young ladies was the real hero of the hour. The timing was perfect. It also showed that the person was not a liberal. It had to be a conservative who recognized that the momentum for whomever became conservative leader could be unstoppable.

And why Walied and his team all told Brown they were resigning and leaving him in the lurch back in January made little sense. As a lawyer, Walied was obviously not thinking as one to leave his friend in such a situation. And any lawyer taking on Brown’s case against CTV might just do very well on a contingency fee.

Brown was a timebomb for the Ontario conservatives. We knew how women felt about him and it was certainly his Achilles’ heel. The only thing he did to help Ford win, was to resign.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

What muted the proportional vote advocates?

Saturday, June 16th, 2018

It must be the shock of the recent Ontario election has not worn off. You would normally expect a hue and cry by this time for proportional representation in the legislature. It is when you hear about the so-called ‘wasted vote’ and the unfairness of first-past-the-post voting. It is certainly a well-aged whine!

According to the proportional representation people, if the last election had been run by their rules, the election would have produced the following result: The conservatives would have won 50 seats, the new democrats 42 seats, the liberals 25 seats and the greens would have had 6. There would be two more seats in a 124-seat legislature and they could be replacement members for the parties who had their members elected as speaker and deputy speaker.

What is wrong with the entire idea is that the only people really being elected are the leaders of the various parties. Everyone else is appointed from a party list according to a chosen formula.

Instead of Mr. Ford being busy with his transition team, choosing a cabinet and preparing to be sworn in as premier, there would still be arguments raging about whether Mr. Ford could get the confidence of the legislature to form a government. Somebody has to go to the lieutenant governor and be able to say, “I can win a vote of confidence.” That argument could take the entire summer.

The ongoing argument would leave the York University students in limbo and do irreparable harm to a fine university. The legislature would be prevented by the new democrats from meeting to interfere with collective bargaining that obviously does not work for the university governors, their staff, or their students.

In countries that have had proportional representation for a long time, there are far more parties involved. Each special interest group forms their own parties to protect their own turf. They do not often have big-tent parties in those countries that use proportion representation.

I think I will continue to support first-past-the-post voting. It might be a little more ‘rough and tumble’ than some people like but it gets things done. I am not sure how much of the Ontario conservatives under Doug Ford we can take. I do know that we seriously need to rethink our liberalism.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

A fleeting fondness for Ford.

Friday, June 15th, 2018

Does premier Ford really feel the love? Sorry Dougie, it’s temporary. The same rage as put a Ford in the premier’s office can just as quickly send him to the same scrap heap as Kathleen Wynne. Ford began and ended his campaign for Ontario in his mother’s basement. Both he and the province would be better off if he had stayed there.

It will be a couple of weeks before Dougie’s team can gather the reins of power at Queen’s Park. We loyal citizens should appreciate the reprieve.

But watch out. Dougie’s couple dozen or so cabinet colleagues will hit the deck—running in all directions. I will be quite interested in seeing who gets what portfolios. It will be our early warning as to where to watch for trouble.

The conservatives will probably launch themselves in office by making the populist move of sending the York University staff back to work. It has been a disgrace the way the university and its staff have allowed their squabble to destroy the hopes of students for education and careers. The new democrats will pay heavily for their obstinance on this before the election, in the name of collective bargaining.

But it is Ford’s promises that are so eagerly anticipated by observers. Frankly there are more than a few of them that he would be smart to forget. The most amusing is the purported ten cent reduction in the price of gasoline for Ford’s favourite big gas guzzling SUVs.

Despite all the trouble he wants to take just to save us ten cents a litre on gas, Ford will find that the oil companies fix the price of gas, not politicians. The oil companies have already told us that gas will be over $1.50 a litre by the end of summer. Dougie’s effort will be like pissing in the wind.

And I am waiting for him to let convenience stores across the province sell beer and wine. We expect a lot of scrabbling to retract on that promise.

Another promise that probably should not be kept is the one to reduce hydro bills by another 12 per cent. Dougie has three choices on that promise. The first choice is to forget it. The second choice is to just transfer the cost to all taxpayers. And the third is to continue to add to the long-term debt of Ontario Hydro and let future generations pay the price, plus interest.

Anyway, there are lots of other foolish promises and we will have a better idea what happens to them depending on the cabinet member responsible. Some might not have an easy job.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Some thoughts on the liberal rout.

Thursday, June 14th, 2018

The hardest thing to digest from the recent election in Ontario was the anger that fueled the liberal downfall. It was similar to a situation with a child who feels wronged and in the midst of a tantrum of tears and frustration. They often will strike out at the adult who tries to help. It seems Kathleen Wynne was the only adult available.

The liberal premier was an accommodating lamb to the slaughter for the hypocrites of the conservative campaign. The Doug Ford team had little interest in truth or fairness or decency. They could hardly believe their luck when they realized that nobody wanted to waste time with fully costed promises and they could get away with foisting bumper-sticker promises on an angry electorate.

The Ontario new democrats were equally amazed as they realized their good luck. It was certainly not their program or leadership that lead them to dramatically increasing their numbers in the legislature. It was progressives in the province who shared the anger at Wynne’s liberals. And what the hell was their choice when Wynne up and quit before the campaign was over? She deserted her party, she deserted the field. She left with no honour.

And what were voters to do? They were trying to get rid of the insipid Dalton dynasty back in 2011 and got a liberal minority instead. Next, they were offered a choice between a lesbian liberal, a confused conservative and a nebulous new democrat. They really had no choice at the time but to vote liberal.

But they became more and more annoyed with themselves for their choice. Maybe some of these talking heads of television can pick out this or that event that caused Wynne’s honeymoon with Ontario to be short-lived. Wynne had a water torture effect on Ontario.

From the beginning, she was hammered with the gas plants mess from the McGinty era. She added to her own problems with the arrogance of her political manoeuvres in Sudbury. Her good friend Ed Clark sabotaged Wynne with the privatizing and selling off part of Hydro One. She announced the beer and wine in large grocery stores so many times that it became a province-wide joke. And, believe me, not everyone understands the economic or just human values of a $15 per hour minimum wage.

As a liberal, I always had strong reservations about Kathleen Wynne. I was annoyed at her from the beginning of her leadership when she and Glen Murray, MPP from her neighbouring electoral district, corrupted the leadership convention that chose her. It is really regrettable that neither the conservatives nor the NDP had a leader suitable to replace her.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Promises, promises!

Saturday, June 9th, 2018

Most people are sceptical about political promises. We should certainly be dubious of conservative leader Doug Ford’s recent scattering of promises in the Ontario election. Some, such as paving over the Green Belt around Toronto, had to be withdrawn immediately but he still has a backlog of questionable promises, such as redrawing the sex education in our schools that could best be forgotten.

But among these various promises, there are some even a liberal can like. The promise to have beer and wine in convenience stores is certainly long overdue. It represents an excellent opportunity to upgrade the province’s convenience stores along with ending the long-running blue-stocking era of Ontario politics.

This would also end the long-term milking of all the profits of alcohol sales in the province into the coffers at Queen’s Park. The convenience store operators need to be allowed to make some money to enable them to upgrade their older, dilapidated stores.

It is like the stupid mistake the Harris conservatives made when they amalgamated Toronto. At the same time as they put Toronto together with the suburbs, they started downloading more provincial costs on the municipalities. It left Ontario municipalities without the sources of revenue to pay their bills. Sure, the municipalities are creatures of the province but they should not be kept in poverty.

Maybe that is the same as Dougie’s promise in regard to the minimum wage in Ontario. The silly bugger thinks he can freeze the minimum wage at $14 and give minimum-wage earners a tax credit instead. Too bad Dougie has never had to live on a minimum wage. Any tax accountant can explain to him why a tax credit is likely to be irrelevant if you are only earning $14 per hour.

The major difference I have noted between Dougie and his evil twin Donald Trump is that Dougie has been known to admit that he does not know everything. He proved that conclusively when he was a Toronto councillor.

When somebody explains the present cap-and-trade system that Ontario has with California and Quebec to him, Doug might become a devotee. The secret of cap-and-trade is that the public will never find out what is really happening. Cap-and-trade can be better than bribes.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Don’t blame me, I voted liberal!

Friday, June 8th, 2018

From the catbird seat yesterday: I felt as though I was on the lip of an active volcano watching the devastation of the countryside. It was both a sad and a challenging night. A new day dawns and Kathleen Wynne is gone; that is good. We thought Ontario voters were too smart to elect Trump-lite and we found we were wrong. Ontario voters can be just as stupid as Americans.

But what choice did they really have? Kathleen Wynne gave them license to riot. There are no apologies. Her final act was to cut the party adrift. She has been a target for the last two years. She should have quit when we first saw the problems she was having. Ed Clark of TD Bank was her nemesis.

That was quite an aria we heard from Andrea Horwath yesterday. She was always the problem and never a solution. The new democrats in Ontario are tired and hopelessly out of date. It is a party without a future. Socialism betrays them. The party never had its own agenda.

But speaking of agendas folks (as Mr. Ford calls us) you need to start taking a hard look at the horde Mr. Ford has brought to the gates of Queen’s Park.

It started over a year ago as we looked at the chicanery going on in the conservative party under boy-leader Patrick Brown. Whomever set up that take-down of Brown in January did the party a favour. Though, in time, people will regret the results.

And if you think Mr. Ford will be the problem as premier, it will not be that bad. Ford is just incompetent. It is people in the horde you need to watch. We saw Caroline Mulroney’s father being rude to a Global TV reporter in that safe conservative country club electoral district she had picked last night. Brian is back folks.

The real difference between Ford and Trump is that Ford knows he cannot do it all. He has never been the schemer and dealer as is Trump. Heck, even his sister-in-law knows he is incompetent in business.

(It reminds of the three Peterson boys. Jim, David and Tim were all elected as liberals at one point and the employees of their father’s old firm were allowed to run the company properly.)

We live in interesting times.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

All bets are off.

Thursday, June 7th, 2018

For the first time since I first got involved in politics, I cannot make a guess on the outcome in an Ontario election. Results that used to be so easy to fathom, have gone murky and I will be hanging out by the television tonight hoping beyond hope that common sense will prevail.

The good news, so far, has been that about 200,000 more people have voted in the advance polls. A low turnout in this election would be bad news.

But what cannot be read is the impact of premier Kathleen Wynne saying she cannot win. How many good liberals will go down to defeat because of her foolish and self-centred statement? Her timing stinks.

But was that not the finest political roorback you ever saw when Rob Ford’s widow and her lawyers went after that ass, Doug Ford? Three days before the election, they slammed her brother-in-law on his merry way to maybe becoming premier of Ontario. If the liberals knew anything about that scheme, Kathleen Wynne would never have conceded the election—that being just one more reason, you never, ever quit.

The family squabble over the late Rob Ford’s estate was incidental to the revelations about Doug Ford managing anything. Finally, someone knowledgeable of Doug Ford’s weaknesses has said what many of us could only guess at: they tell us Doug Ford is incapable of running a label printing business. And he wants to run a $150 billion operation such as the Province of Ontario?

And please, please do not assume that the fat lady gets to sing before this absurd opera is over. Andrea Horwath of the new democrats is less competent to run a daycare centre, than she is to run the province. That woman is going to end up getting religion with all the manna that has landed in her lap over the last week.

But looking at the bright side of things, there is an outside chance that we can elect enough liberals to keep both the conservatives and NDP from getting a majority of seats in the legislature. It would force the liberals and the NDP to work together for a couple years before we have another election.

It would enable the liberals to repair the damage to their party and elect a new leader with a one-member-one-vote democratic choice. It would also give the conservatives time to dump Doug Ford and, if the NDP is smart, they could do much better than Andrea Horwath.

As we used to say (jokingly) in politics, it’s election day; vote early and often!

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

If you don’t know, don’t!

Tuesday, June 5th, 2018

It has always been grating on election day hearing radio announcers telling their listeners to get out and vote. They actually say if you do not know who to vote for, vote anyway. Why?

Why would you want to go to vote against what your neighbours had thought about and maybe struggled over the decision? You would not believe the number of times when at the polls on election day, voters have come to vote and asked who is running for what party?

I have always wished there was some way to qualify voters and make sure they at least know who they want to vote for when they come to the polls.

I was asking someone from a local campaign office yesterday why nobody had called or, at least dropped literature for the candidate, at my apartment building. The answer I got back was that it was rated as a low-turnout poll and had probably been dropped in favour of more effort in another area.

I remember years ago, there was a bye-election in one of Toronto’s poorest areas and I was given a low-turnout poll that the NDP had won in the previous election with 42 votes. By practically living in the poll for the next three weeks, I got to know most of the voters on a first name basis. I more than doubled the vote in the poll and beat the NDP by two votes.

There is no such thing as a low-turnout poll. There are only polls that have not been worked properly.

One of the great disappointments I have had here in Barrie is the insular nature of this town. Part of it is the fact that it serves, in part, as a bedroom community for the Greater Toronto Area. When people only have weekends to look around where they live, it is hard to build community spirit. And in today’s Internet and smart phone era, extended family can replace community.

Politics has also changed and not for the better. Leader-down, politics is breaking down the community’s ability to come together in supporting local candidates. First, you have to pick your candidate far enough ahead of an election to give the him or her time to build a base. It is also critical that local candidates and party supporters have a say in policy development. This leader-centric party system we have been struggling with does not work.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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