Archive for the ‘Provincial Politics’ Category

Getting to know Doug Ford.

Monday, April 9th, 2018

It takes time. Over the next six to eight weeks, more and more Ontario voters will start to think seriously about the June 7 provincial election. To many, it will just be a bit of a bother, a minor blip in an otherwise busy life. The actual turnout at the polls will just be a statistic because we will find out the results at the same time. It will be the politicians who rejoice or dispute the results.

Nobody will be noisier in rejoicing or disputing than conservative leader Doug Ford. He is the neophyte at this electoral process. He will ignore the rules. He will ignore the advice of his aides. He will call his errors, innovations. His policies will be spur of the moment ideas. His plans will be, at best, vague and ill-defined.

One of his first decisions about the campaign trail has been to cancel the bus that would have allowed the news media to travel with him. It confused the claim that the conservatives had raised the most campaign funds. That campaign bus will nag Ford from the beginning to the end of the campaign. It made him look cheap (despite the media paying for it) and the result will be poorer coverage of his campaign.

Admittedly most campaign organizations would be delighted to get rid of the media bus. There are always people in the inner circle who consider it like taking you own nest of vipers along with you. They are a pain in the ass and are always trying to screw up your logistics.

But those media are the entire purpose of the travels. They are your heralds, your scribes, your minstrels, your town criers. They are your opportunity. They tell the voters about you. If you just enfold them in your arms and show them the love they deserve, they will still stab you in the back.

Even while failing to explain his decision about the bus, Ford was getting himself in more trouble. There was a question from the media present about why he was not coming to a black community event. He was supposedly going to be in Northern Ontario next week while all the other leaders were discussing black problems in Toronto. Ford was telling the media how much he and his late brother Rob loved black people. He even told them about having taken under-privileged black kids up to his cottage in Muskoka in the summer. He was patronizing.

Doug Ford’s concern on June 7 will be the Ontario voters who will buy into his slash and burn politics. These are the voters he has to have on his side. They will only bother to vote for him if they believe he can win. They will not waste their time voting for a loser. Those polling figures can change a great deal by voting day.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Trump-lite is not Trump.

Sunday, April 8th, 2018

Have you been reading the media pontificators who are comparing Ontario conservative leader Doug Ford with U.S. President Donald Trump? It is a sad comparison. It would annoy Donald Trump, if he cared. Doug Ford is a wannabe. He would dearly love to have as much money as Trump and to have ripped off so many in business. It is hard to compare the ups and downs of a label printing business to the successes and failures of Trump.

And what makes anyone think that a blowhard such as Ford is going to win in Ontario? Ford is a loser. It was his brother who created Ford Nation. It was his brother who won the Toronto mayoralty. It was brother Rob who created the legend. The only political success Doug Ford has ever had was winning his late brother’s council seat in the City of Toronto. That is hardly the route to the premier’s chair in Ontario.

The reason many of us think of Ford as Trump-lite is that he shares the same failure in not being very political. Trump has made a game of being a political fool. Doug Ford just cannot help it. Ford is trying to be political. Trump does not care. Trump is a pig with women while Ford tries to act like his mother taught him manners. Both hate the news media but that is because the honest media tell the truth about them. Trump is simple. Ford is conflicted.

The one thing that we see in both of these pseudo politicians is that they have pushed the boundaries of unsuitable for office into despised. There seems to be absolutely no need to listen to either for the purpose of learning anything.

But to suggest that the political system in Ontario is similar to the corrupted federal situation in the United States shows a lack of understanding of the two systems. Trump, somewhat unwittingly, mixed the losers, the angry, the religious right, the lunatic fringe and the bigots of mid-America into an election day force that worked to give him the electoral college. It was also something like the situation with the errors the Ontario conservatives built into their leadership voting. If we understand this properly, Ford won over Christine Elliott despite the fact she had more votes and more electoral districts supporting her.

Luckily, in Ontario, you need to have more of your party elected in more electoral districts. It is simple. It is one-person, one-vote. It is hard to get confused. You get who you get because that is the way people want it. It is the best safeguard against losers like Doug Ford to be found.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Ceding Civility in Canada.

Thursday, April 5th, 2018

Writing about civility in politics the other day, we never got to the situation here in Canada. Despite our Canadian reputation for civility, things have lately gone to hell in a basket. Federal and provincial politics in Canada have become noisy arguments between spoiled children. Our politicians are not working together to meet the needs of those who elected them.

At the federal level, our parliament has continued to lose sight of the ‘sunny days’ that greeted the defeat of the Harper conservatives. Our poster boy prime minister is losing his lustre both at home and abroad as he missteps his way into new ground in Ottawa and in world politics.

The opposition party in Ottawa chose a nobody to hold the fort as leader and now ‘Chuckles’ Scheer is leading the wolf pack with a ferocity that surprises those who know him. Attacking the liberal government and its ministers has become a blood sport as the façade of competence falls away.

But Ottawa’s problems also come from surprising sources. The American White House is challenging Justin Trudeau’s attempts at bonhomie. Trump alternately patronizes and berates the Canadian prime minister. He tells Trudeau one thing and then tweets something else.

Even long-standing provincial politicians are falling in an onslaught of meanness. No party is safe anywhere. The west coast is a war zone as Alberta and British Columbia’s two New Democrat governments hurl insults and law suit arguments at each other. And you wonder what things are coming to when you have to count on the Saskatchewan government to stand up for that dreary Prairie ultra conservatism.

And yet it is Canada’s two most established and long-running governments of Ontario and Quebec that stand threatened. The pollsters tell us that in Quebec it is the liberal government of Phillippe Couillard that stands on shaky ground as another unknown, unexpected coalition of the right tries to usurp the liberal trust.

It is a Trump-lite wannabe named Doug Ford who is attempting to destroy the liberal dynasty in Ontario. As more and more of the province’s voters come to realize how shallow are his promises, the less the credibility.

But whatever the outcome, the vaunted myth of the civility of Canadians appears to be in jeopardy.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Wait until they are ‘At Post.’

Wednesday, April 4th, 2018

Ontario is in the midst of a ‘phony war.’ People are getting excited about public opinion polls that are meaningless. Babel-on-the-Bay is more than a month away from offering its Morning Line on the coming provincial election. At least wait until then to place your bets on the outcome.

You have to remember that not all horses in this race have passed their drug tests. Hell, the conservatives have been on a high for too long thinking they can walk away with first prize. One of the biggest bumps on the road from here to election day is the conservative leader—such as he is! Does the conservative brain trust really think they can keep him from saying what he wants? Doug Ford is a loose cannon and anything can happen.

And how about friends? There was a radio advertisement the other day by the specialists who run the Ontario Medical Association. The words dripped of greed and confidence that the conservatives will come to power. The only people who will benefit from a conservative win might be the medical specialists and other millionaires.

And then there was an op-ed in the Toronto Star by one-time New Democrat guru Val Sears. He was trying to tell us that all three parties are equal. It was a good try but the only way to resurrect the NDP in Ontario is with a shovel. He should look up the word ‘nebbish’ in his dictionary. It is an excellent description of NDP leader Andrea Horwath. The NDP have no where to go in Ontario and a nobody to lead them.

And in the meantime, the liberals have more leadership than the party needs. I like to think of Wynne as the wicked witch of North Toronto. What I have been seeing lately is some new, fresh, young liberal faces appearing who might start to tell Granny what big teeth she has and suggest that she move along and go into retirement.

But she did win me over with some of her death bed repentance. That recent budget, was offering a pastiche of liberalism and I could only approve. These were all desperate needs in mental health, day care, health care and in looking after the poor and disadvantaged in our society. Only a curmudgeon would disagree with the needs.

But here’s hoping the crick don’t rise and we can have a well doped out Morning Line for you before the middle of May.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Ford isn’t fast with his math.

Monday, April 2nd, 2018

It was really very funny last Thursday when conservative leader Doug Ford got pompously to his feet to harangue the liberal government for their election budget. It seems that towards the back of the budget book there is a tax increase for the top 17 per cent of wage earners.

The effect of this tax, on average, means that anyone with taxable earnings of $130,000 per year will pay an additional $200 in tax to Ontario. Doug Ford was horrified. Imagine a tax increase for those who can most afford it! Okay, it is one less dinner at a fancy restaurant for you and the wife. Think of all the good you are doing with the money.

But Doug Ford was horrified. He was outraged at this egregious affront to the wealthy taxpayers he wants to represent at Queen’s Park. Some how, Ford got in his mind that the tax applied to everyone in the household. He thought if it was a family of five, each would pay the government an additional $200. He was wrong. The facts are that if the other four people in the household are all dependents, the taxpayer would not pay the additional until they earned quite a bit more than $130,000.

Ford must have also been confused between the difference in gross income and taxable income. The problem with people such as Ford is that they never do their own taxes. They have an accountant for that.

Yet the money is to help our citizens who most need the assist. It is for day care for the youngest children when they are the most vulnerable. It is for our seniors to stop nickel and diming them for prescription drug co-payments. It is to increase the funding to keep seniors in their homes longer. It is to increase the number of mental health professionals in the province to meet the needs of our young people.

Obviously, Mr. Ford has different priorities. He does not seem worried about our environment. He thinks he can come up with billions by just cutting some fictitious waste. How he will achieve that when the bulk of our provincial expenditures are on education and health needs, he will wait until he is in office to find out. When you bore down on Mr. Ford’s approach, you find out he has no idea how to magically balance budgets or provide funds for tax cuts.

Doug Ford is just blowing smoke.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Wynne: Caring or Condescending?

Sunday, April 1st, 2018

Never having been much of a fan of Ontario Premier Wynne, I suspected that the recently revealed Ontario budget was more of a deathbed repentance than a bold plea for more time as premier. It was when listening to the objections of Doug Ford for the conservatives and Andrea Horwath for the New Democrats, Wynne’s strategy became clear.

Is there really any alternative?

We have to face the fact that increasing the miserly amount the Ontario government provides through the Ontario Persons with Disabilities Program had to happen. People unable to help themselves have been starving on that program. People like that would never be on Doug Ford’s radar. Andrea Horwath will only tell you that the annual increases planned are not enough.

And what does Ford care about day care for the youngest children? It only makes sense when you start to provide free day care for the most vulnerable.

And why should a millionaire such as Ford care about the hundreds of dollars our seniors are paying in co-payments for drugs every year? As we progress towards full Pharmacare to go with Medicare, let us, at least, get rid of the irritants.

But what else can Wynne do? We know that a complete national prescription drug plan is needed. We know it will save the country billions in health care costs. Because a healthy society saves us money. It increases our productivity and our enjoyment of life.

To Doug Ford, this all smells of waste. He wants cuts. He wants to cut taxes for his rich friends. He wants to cut funds to education that the Liberals want to increase. He wants cuts to welfare for people who are struggling now to feed themselves. And where is he going to make cuts in health care?

Andrea Horwath and her New Democrats say that it is never enough and Doug Ford and his conservatives tell us that there is too much waste. He thinks a balanced budget is more important.

Ontario has a gross domestic product each year of close to $800 billion. If we create debt at less than one per cent of our GDP, we are hardly wastrels. Our infrastructure can be built on debt. Bridges, roads, subways and buildings will serve us for many years and it is practical to pay for these needs over time as we are using them.

I figure that if these liberal promises pass muster with a miserly banker such as finance minister Charles Sousa, it is okay with me.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Would you buy a used Ford from Ford?

Friday, March 30th, 2018

We have a good thing going in Ontario. Our economy is healthy. Unemployment is down. We have a government in place that is doing the right things about the environment, raising our standard of living without undue pressure on inflation and is looking at people’s needs in a relatively progressive manner. This needs to be taken into account before considering the possibilities in the coming Ontario election.

A gentleman named Doug Ford has pushed himself forward and proposed that we elect him and a conservative government. Some people think this is a good idea because they think we need a change.

A change to what?

If Mr. Ford was a job applicant, do you think you would give him much consideration? His work experience involves a stint with his late father’s company printing labels and a single term as a Toronto city councillor in the council seat his brother had vacated to become mayor. Much of his time in that position was spent trying to keep his brother sober and off crack cocaine.

He lost his subsequent effort to win the mayoralty when his brother became too ill to run. Always eager for opportunities, he saw a chance to be leader of the opposition party and he grabbed at the brass ring.

Ford broke all the rules of the leadership race. He signed a promise to accept the carefully constructed party policy program—the People’s Guarantee—and spent the campaign time dumping on it. He ridiculed the party’s support for a carbon tax to replace the Liberal’s confusing Cap and Trade. He has no respect for our environment.

Under the confused rules of the leadership race, Ford won with fewer individual party votes and the support of fewer electoral districts. In a truly democratic (one-person, one-vote) contest, Christine Elliott would have won.

But it was the angry and the bitter and the anti-women’s rights crowd who turned to Ford. It was the shallowness of what remains of Rob Ford’s Ford Nation that contributed the numbers. It was the gun advocates of the Ontario Landowners. It was the anti-wind turbine cranks. It was greed and avarice that won for Doug Ford.

If you want Doug Ford in control in Ontario, God help you.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Choosing champions.

Monday, March 26th, 2018

One of the aspects of populism that confuses people is that they can come from the left or the right or any other part of the political spectrum. Typically, the populist rises from the environment that generated the specific populist movement. This is why Donald Trump in the United States is not considered a populist. He just had the ego and enough money to take advantage of the opportunity. He is a narcissist, a womanizer, ignorant and incompetent and those are just some of the polite words used to describe him.

But Donald Trump’s arrogance, simplistic message and racism attracted a following among a broad swath of mainly apolitical Americans ranging from neighbourhood bigots and bikers to the Klu Klux Klan and the National Rifle Association. Not even Trump had any idea how effective those people would be at the polls. When Hillary Clinton called some of Trump’s supporters “deplorables” it helped drive them to the polls to vote against her.

In America’s red states that dominate middle America, the God-fearing, embittered and concerned right had no one else to vote for as president. It was this odd coalition of the holy and the unholy who won the electoral college to make Trump president.

In Canada, we are seeing a somewhat similar situation developing in the planned June election in Ontario. Nobody is suggesting that Doug Ford is as racist and incompetent as Mr. Trump but there is some confusion between Ford and his late brother Rob Ford, the crack-cocaine smoking and plain-spoken populist mayor of Toronto for one term.

Rob Ford was the get-even mayor of Toronto. His one term as mayor created chaos. It held the city up for ridicule on late night television in the United States and in British tabloids.

While Doug Ford, the older brother, served one term in his brother’s former council seat, it was Rob who was the populist. Since the forced amalgamation of the city by the Harris Conservatives, there has been a serious schism growing in Toronto between the downtown inner city and its suburbs. Without their local politicians and councils, the suburbs have felt isolated.

What made matters worse in a city of 630 square kilometers, that rises from the downtown up steep hills, the inner-city politicians declared war on the automobile. The suburbs saw their routes to downtown congested with restricted bicycle lanes and no better public transportation services in the offing. Enter populist Rob Ford to save the day.

But Rob Ford is dead and his brother Doug failed to replace him as mayor. Doug Ford is no populist.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Can you put it on a hat?

Friday, March 23rd, 2018

We used to use bumper stickers but cars do not have bumpers any more. Now we are running campaigns that you can put on a hat. We are producing hats that say “Ontario drives with Ford” or “Win with Wynne” or “Horwath or horror.” That is the general view of political campaigns these days.

Just look at Doug Ford’s Trump-like rally for the lumpen proletariat the other day at a Toronto area convention centre. It was a disappointing turn out, but then, all the attendees got was candidate Ford.

He had promised that his rival for the leadership, Christine Elliott, would introduce him. The lady must have had one of those political attacks of laryngitis. Ford was introduced by his current campaign manager. Elliott was there but probably not in spirit.

It was a small but easy to please crowd. What is left of Ford Nation came for the free lunch and the conservatives came to commiserate with each other. Nobody expected to learn anything. Nothing was learned. The news media were wondering why they were there? There was nothing for them to report.

A candidate for any office that speaks in words you can put on a hat, does not provide much copy for think pieces. A story that begins and ends with the single thought on a hat, such as ‘Lynch the Liberals,’ is hardly loaded with usable news copy.

This keeps reminding us of North Bay’s favourite golf pro and former Ontario premier Mike Harris. He was the premier who said something like “Will nobody rid me of those meddlesome Indians?” He got his wish when the Ontario Provincial Police went and shot one of them. An unarmed protestor, Dudley George, was dead and premier Mike Harris’ problems at Ipperwash Park went away.

But give Harris the credit for promising more, even if it was just the “Common Sense Revolution” on a hat. Harris, like Ford, stupidly insisted in cutting everything. He even cut the provincial inspectors who made sure we had clean drinking water. In Walkertown, Ontario an E.coli outbreak killed five Ontario citizens and made many more seriously ill. Harris saved us taxpayers a few dollars and ended up costing us many millions. Now there are foolish people in this province who want to give someone like Doug Ford the same opportunity.

The good thing for the Wynne Liberals in all of this is that they do not have to keep promising to spend on a myriad of promises. All they really need is better writers for their hats.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Keep to the left Ms. Wynne.

Sunday, March 18th, 2018

Not that she would necessarily listen to this writer but Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne needs advice on dealing with Doug Ford. There is always the hope that someone who reads Babel-on-the-Bay will mention it to her. We, of course, are expecting her and her Liberal government to continue to discuss left-of-centre initiatives in the run-up to the June election. It is just in one of the first salvoes by the new conservative leader Ford across her bow, Kathleen Wynne veered to the right.

And of all subjects, it was regarding the sale of cannabis in Ontario! Kathleen Wynne had to take the grandmother approach. That was not only bad but it took her completely off message.

Wynne ignored all we already know about cannabis. Who does she think really gives a damn about buying weed? Not many of them are grandmothers. Yet in responding, she referred to herself as a grandmother. She can talk grandmother to grandmothers when talking about something grandmothers care about.

Admittedly, it was a set-up. The news media is going to keep feeding questions such as that to Doug Ford and then run to her to ask her for her response. It is to fill the ongoing need of the news media to have something between the advertisements.

The beauty of it is that Ford does not understand many of the questions and he gives little thought to his answers. Premier Wynne does understand it and has to use the opportunities provided to define the political differences between herself and the conservative leader.

She was careless to suggest that Doug Ford was looking to sell cannabis in convenience stores. Nobody suggested that. And to say that Ford was ‘reckless’ by suggesting privatization was silly. It is only pointing out to those who want to be able to buy legal cannabis that the government-run stores will be few and far between. Why push those potential pot purchasers to vote for Ford?

All this particular incident shows is that Wynne does not know why she has to make sure she stays to the left politically. To allow Doug Ford to look more progressive is a tough task, but somehow, Premier Kathleen Wynne managed to make it happen in this instance. She really needs to smarten up.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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