Archive for the ‘Provincial Politics’ Category

Befuddled Bureaucracy.

Monday, March 22nd, 2021

It happened this past weekend. The Ontario government bureaucracy lost me. I was due for my second shot of the Pfizer vaccine. Since the first shot had no adverse effects, I was looking forward to the capping shot.

While it is still a matter of four to six months to vaccinate everyone, who wants to be protected from covid-19, I figured the end of the lockdowns and the damn masks was in sight and possible.

And that was when I was lost from the Ontario vaccination lists. I am sure that my political views had nothing to do with it. You should not write commentaries such as I write and be paranoid. You would be afraid to cross the street. I am sure premier Doug Ford would have a problem picking me out from a crowd of two people. And he has more important things to do than screw up my shots. My bet is that his cheapskate, uncaring government has screwed up a lot of covid-19 shots for many citizens since vaccinating was undertaken by the province.

I believe it was Ford who was first to hire a general to figure out the logistics of getting the right number of shots to the right map co-ordinates. The feds followed with a general who only had to get deliveries to the provinces and northern territories. There is no way of telling whether Ford got tired of the general or the general was soon tired of Ford but the general’s contract seemed to be over before the job was really off the ground.

It seems that, like Trump in the United States, Ford is incompetent and fails to keep more competent help on side and working.

And while we are on this subject, we should mention that not all of our citizens are eager to get their vaccine shot(s). Some surprise me in that they are shopping for the perfect vaccine. I think we can safely report that none of the various vaccines approved by Health Canada are perfect. The best advice these folks will ever get is to accept the first vaccine available to them and jump on board. Nobody can afford to wait.

And then there are the idiots who tell us that the pandemic is bogus. They do not intend to accept any vaccine as it is some sort of plot. I think there will be fewer of these fools by the time we have the pandemic passivized.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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Some advice to Ontario politicians.

Sunday, March 21st, 2021

This is important. If you think of ending separate schools, do not do it to save money. First of all, you are not going to save anywhere near one and a half billion. It will probably cost more because the real need is to end all faith-based and private education in the junior grades. We have to stop indoctrinating children to hate, to discriminate and see themselves as superior to others in our society.

Now, please do not go all ‘hoity-toity’ on us. You know damn well, that you as a parent have no idea of what your toddler really needs in the way of a full education. You need to throw him or her into the general mix at age four or five and see where they take themselves over the next seven or eight years.

There will be time aplenty if the kid needs special ed. Some kids need some extra help. It is no reflection on you unless you ignore the need.

The kid might be all-important to you but you should realize that there could be a great difference between your ideas of a career path for him or her. You should wait until your child can be part of the decision-making process.

And the one thing, a young child does not need is some ethereal Being to obey along with parents and other authority figures. You can frighten children with that stuff. They do not need it. And why do the clerics want them so young? They know they are impressionable. They know they are gullible. The child will, in time, make good or bad decisions about religion. There have been too many problems caused by parental push to piety. It causes too much upset in families and is hardly worth it.

But if there was one abomination further in education, it is private schools. They are elitist and they are an ongoing threat to the egalitarian society that we try so hard to achieve.

And just because you can afford it, is no reason for you to ditch your kids in private schools. Oh sure, you might be able to convince yourself that it is to the kids’ benefit. What you are really doing is abdicating your job as parent. How well do you know these people you are paying to replace you?


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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Not your father’s Tories.

Saturday, March 20th, 2021

This has probably been said before but it bears repeating. I used to know conservatives that I liked. Not that I would ever vote conservative but these were actually likeable people. I lived next door to a member of the provincial conservative cabinet. He was a good neighbour. I always had a chuckle with conservative premier Bill Davis when we had a chance to chat.

This changed. Brian Mulroney was just not as forthright as I expected. In my humble opinion, I found Ontario premier Mike Harris to be a stupid person. Why did I expect the more astute people in his conservative caucus to tell him how ill-considered some of his actions might have been and so harmful to Ontario residents?

I could tell you that Donald Trump was the most destructive right-wing politician of the 21st Century. You would like to think that nobody could top Trump. And maybe we should leave a window open for Jason Kenney in Alberta to claim the prize. We know he is a misogynist but he seems to hate women and everybody else. I am just glad I live in Ontario and only have to live with our hapless premier Doug Ford.

But provincial or federal these days, the Tories are electing some of the meanest, uncaring and unsuited members of both the federal parliament and provincial legislatures.

The federal Tories deserve the incompetent Erin O’Toole as leader. He fits so well with an incompetent caucus. From O’Toole to his deputy leader on down, they are a mean, uncaring bunch who only seem to want to use their elected offices for personal gain.

I hardly think the two former councillors from my local city council are missed as they pretend to be serving their constituents in Ottawa. The worst embarrassment here in Barrie is the Attorney General of Ontario—a carpetbagger from Severn whose main interest seems to be in raising funds for the next election. He might be in for a surprise in that election.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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Do we give Del Duca a chance?

Sunday, March 14th, 2021

Having never met Ontario liberal leader Steven Del Duca, I have not had much on which to base an opinion. All I know is that he never impressed me much in Kathleen Wynne’s cabinet. As transportation minister, he stuck his foot in it when he appeared to be pushing Metrolinx to approve another GO station in his riding. Nor did he appear to be doing much when he was moved to the economic growth and development portfolio.

But I was never at the cabinet table and that leaves me with little to go on.

For now, we can give him a chance. He has been in office for a year and the pandemic has gotten most of the media attention during that time. The bit of media coverage he received is to his credit. Not being in the legislature makes it tough to get coverage.

Del Duca has a lot of ground to cover this summer and fall. He has to be in full campaign mode next year for a June election. He has considerably more political experience than Doug Ford and he is probably smarter. That will hardly help if nobody knows him.

The better he becomes known, the harder Andrea Horwath of the new democrats will go after him. He is the blocker in her mind. She can hardly afford to lose any progressive votes to him. This will likely be her last run.

But he has to show how he can help take Ontario forward. The days of the pandemic will be behind us and he has to make it clear that a vote for Ford will take us back to the penny-pinching days of conservative premier Michael Harris.  Ontario needs growth and progress and a liberal government can make that happen.

I make no promises but a liberal government in Ontario has the chance of being progressive and recognizing the need for quick rebuilding of the economy of Ontario, along with the rest of Canada. Good planning can make that happen.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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Feeling the sting of Ford.

Saturday, March 13th, 2021

It reminds me of the story of the dog and the scorpion. “It’s my nature,” explains the scorpion before they both drown. In Ontario, we are seeing the nature of premier Doug Ford that is taking Ontario into a corrupt past.

In the same way as Donald Trump found to by-pass a reluctant Congress with presidential orders, Doug Ford has found that ministerial zoning orders (MZOs) save time and money for his friends in the development business. It also means they have more profits to put into Doug Ford’s re-election next year.

As developers can tell you, when you help get a Ford into politics, driving through the morass of environmental assessments, municipal council zoning and local community activists is easier. An MZO can put all that aside. And time and legal fees set aside is all just profit.

As developers say “We have found a friend in Ford.”

The only problem is that careful zoning, protection of wetlands and the planned development needs in Ontario are being set aside by these MZOs. It is the properties with the quick profits that are now getting the attention of Ford’s developer friends.

And Ford does not understand the problem. His one-term experience in city hall in Toronto only showed him the resistance side of zoning and planning. He and his brother saw it as a bother to their comfort position.

And to say that Doug Ford is ignorant of the rationale behind this careful and painstaking planning is only half the problem. The Ford family flotilla creates a large wake as lesser conservatives get to join in on the party.

Maybe if Ford had more time on Toronto city council, he might have come to understand what was behind all the back and forth of planning and zoning. He only saw it as a bother. Nobody is excluded from politics because of their limited education but Ford does seem to revel in his lack of a questioning mindset. We have seen it in his handling of the pandemic. There have been days when he might have listened to the experts. And there are days when he obviously did not.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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When is Day One of this plan?

Monday, March 8th, 2021

It is sad to admit that I am not overly enthusiastic about the Ontario NDP’s environmental plans for 2035. Most people tend to be skeptical of plans for when they are in their 90s. Those of us who realize we are getting older every day, tend to be more interested in plans that start today.

And people who put off environmental issues for tomorrow are damn stupid anyway. The world cannot wait. Just consider this weird winter we are experiencing in the northern hemisphere. Here we are, enjoying another spring-like day in early March, in Ontario. We are supposed to be in the throes of a miserable winter. And was it not just a couple weeks ago when Texas had a wallop of snow in a lot more than the Panhandle? While our weather forecasters go crazy, you would think that we should all be a little more concerned.

But here are the Ontario new democrats, sounding like the liberal governments of Dalton McGinty and Kathleen Wynne. The only difference is that the liberal incentives for electric-vehicle subsidies maxed out at $14,000 and the incentives became somewhat meaningless when applied to luxury vehicles.

Personally, I have wanted to go electric in my driving for quite a while. If that jerk Doug Ford had not come to power in Ontario and cancelled all the electric vehicle subsidies, I would probably be driving an electric car today. The practical concern in this has been that I want to be able drive about 600 kilometres between plug-ins. As it is, I am driving an import with a carbon-producing motor about the size required to power a lawn mower. It is only a small bow to environmental concerns.

One new part of the NDP environmental plan is the promise to retrofit five per cent of the provincial-owned buildings each year into being environmentally friendly. That might be a fine idea but they will probably find that it is better to start from scratch. They would likely save more by tearing down older, environmentally wasteful buildings and building new environmentally friendly ones.

And, as you would expect of any party eager for power, they want to create a youth corp. This one would be dedicated to greening the province.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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Uneasy sit the bums at Ford’s cabinet table.

Saturday, March 6th, 2021

That is a tough one. The quote from Shakespeare is something about ‘Uneasy hangs the head that wears the Crown.’ It just seems even better when you are referring to the bums that sit around the cabinet tables of scary martinets.

And, of course, we are talking about their anatomical bums and not that they are bums. The first is something everybody has to sit on. The second is someone with nothing better to do.

In this sense I have been evaluating two prize examples of Ontario premier Doug Ford’s cabinet. They are Merrilee Fullerton MPP for Kanata-Carleton in the Ottawa area and my MPP Doug Downey from Severn, Ontario who was parachuted into my riding of Barrie-Springfield-Oro-Medonte. Both of these people lounge around premier Ford’s cabinet table.

Merrilee Fullerton is minister for long-term care. That seems to be the ministry that has the record for pandemic deaths in Ontario. It might seem appropriate for a retired doctor to take responsibility for all those deaths but there are many of us who question why. Our particular concern is that the highest rate of deaths from covid-19 in Ontario are at for-profit long-term care facilities.

So far, the province has shrugged off its responsibility for all those deaths in the for-profit homes but some inspection would have helped to pin-point the problems. You would think that even a doctor could have deduced the problem when there were twice the deaths in the privately-owned facilities.

Doctor Fullerton’s colleague, Mr. Downey, at the Ford table is the attorney-general of Ontario. Back when he was just a ward-healer for Severn Township, life must have been quieter for this Doug. Laying on his reputed legal expertise for the entire province is more of a challenge. So far, he has been making a name for himself in political fund-raising and in laying on the patronage.

Downey has set some records in raising funds in this riding and in getting his party an increased per vote allowance from the last lop-sided election in Ontario. At the same time, he is putting restraints on third party advertisers who might or might not support the conservatives. He has also given patronage for lawyers a new emphasis by asking for more qualified lawyers be in the potential judges lists—probably to assure there are conservatives to appoint.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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Welcome to the two per cent.

Friday, March 5th, 2021

Checking the score cards on vaccinations the other day, I found I am in the top two per cent of Ontario residents. It is embarrassing. Ontario only has about four million more people than the State of Israel. Yet Israel can get the first shot of vaccine into the arms of 90 per cent of their population before Ontario reaches two per cent. That does seem embarrassing.

There are probably more than a few reasons for this difference. For example, Ontario has about 50 times the land area. Any farmer can tell you: you find eggs faster in a smaller chicken coop.

There was also the deal with Pfizer-BioNTech whereby Israel was used by that company for a mass test of its vaccine. That is why Israel had a large, early supply. The results of the test have been positive. And you could hardly expect Canada, with five times the population, to get a deal like that.

It was the same with the United Arab Emirates which is at about 60 per cent of the population having a shot of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine. A small population and a large supply of vaccine will do it every time.

And if you think a country as advanced as Canada should have its own vaccine, we might yet. We have a start-up still working on it. We might have had something earlier but Brian Mulroney, as prime minister back in the 1980s, sold off our Connaught Laboratories. Conservatives do not seem to believe in preparing for future pandemics.

You can hardly blame Justin Trudeau for the delays in Canada getting vaccinated. He is doing a good job of getting us a variety of vaccines. And the federal government is paying for it. The troublemakers are the provinces that will always blame Ottawa when they do not do their jobs properly. The worst are Alberta and Ontario.

Mind you, I am still trying to figure out what use there is in having retired generals running the distribution system for vaccines, using people who will not salute when given an order.

And now I hear that I might not get my second shot of the Pfizer vaccine much before May. So much for being an early adopter.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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‘Dougie did it!’

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2021

Mother did not like those words. The youngest of my brothers was Douglas. Of the six kids, he was mother’s pride and joy. She hated to hear the words, ‘Dougie did it’ from everything such as a raid on the cookies to blood splatter. I think she stopped blaming the rest of us when her Douglas got his doctoral degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

I was thinking of that the other day when the Doug of Ford family fame and premier of Ontario stuck his foot in another barn yard plop. This is the new Highway 413 that is being proposed for the area west of Toronto.

This proposed toll highway is also known as the Toronto West corridor and goes from about nowhere to nowhere important. It is supposed to go from one of the most crowded highway corridors in Ontario, which is the Toronto to Kitchener stretch of Highway 401, to the most crowded stretch of Highway 400 in the City of Vaughan.

It is enough to make you wish that premier Doug had not fled higher learning after only two months of Humber College. He wanted to be the super salesman of his father’s decals.

Highway 413 might just be the most useless highway Ontario has ever wanted to build. And here we all thought that Highway 407/412 was going to be the last of the toll roads in the province. To keep giving away highways to private interests to bleed us for money is ridiculous. I have never understood a toll road that costs you more than that new SUV you buy every few years.

About the only excuse for the billions to be wasted on the project is as a favour to premier Doug’s developer friends. The proposed route of the highway is through some of Ontario’s most prosperous farmland, greenbelt, the Paris-Galt moraine, crowded urban development and supposedly protected wetlands.

Reading about this disaster reminded me to call my brother Doug in Ohio to see how he was doing in the pandemic. He used to be pastor of a village Presbyterian church in that part of Ontario. Times, premiers. pastors and highways change.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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Kenney opts for debt over taxes.

Sunday, February 28th, 2021

It seems obvious that premier Jason Kenney of Alberta is a strange sort of conservative. His and previous conservative regimes in Alberta have managed to piss away another fortune in resources royalties because of their fear of balanced taxing of the voters of Alberta.

It is hard to compare the handing of health care and the provincial budget but Jason Kenney’s incompetents have screwed up both. Instead of working with the medical profession to fight the pandemic, Kenney fights with the doctors. Instead of introducing a harmonized sales tax with the federal sales tax, Kenney would rather stick the province with unconscionable levels of debt.

It was not that long ago that the former premier Peter Lougheed in Alberta was warning the citizens about abusing their resource funds but his latter-day conservatives have ignored his warnings. When you compare what the Norwegians have done with their sovereign fund from their off-shore oil, it paints a picture for Alberta of what might have been.

But it is now time for Albertans to get in line with the rest of the provinces. The province can no longer consider the rest of us as suckers to go along with sales taxes. Those who can afford the biggest and latest in SUVs can pay their share of the both the sales tax and the carbon tax at the pumps.

And Kenney can hardly continue to waste taxpayers’ money and his hot air on promoting pipelines. They are not going to happen. The resistance to pipelines is growing. A critical example is the dual line (Enbridge Line 5) that has been pumping gas and oil across the Straits of Mackinac since 1953.

After the experience Michigan had with the 2010 Enbridge spill that was impossible to clean up on the Kalamazoo River, the state realized a similar spill in the critical area of the Straits of Mackinac would be catastrophic. It would not only have a disastrous effect on Michigan’s economy but would seriously harm the main source of fresh water for five other states as well as Ontario and Quebec.

While Enbridge might have the best of intentions, the Michigan authorities are increasingly dubious of Enbridge’s tunneling solution under the straits.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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