Archive for the ‘Provincial Politics’ Category

And Wynne sits in the catbird seat.

Wednesday, January 31st, 2018

The ‘catbird seat’ is a wonderful American idiom for that perfect position in politics providing the politician with a position to observe the disarray of his or her foes. As you can imagine, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne is currently enjoying that position. Her main opposition, the Ontario Conservatives are totally involved in their own problems.

But not for long, dear friends. This situation is fraught with danger for the long-term hopes of the Liberals in Ontario. No Liberal adherent, who thought it through, would have picked this timing for bringing down Patrick Brown. It needed to be closer to the election and too late for any choice of leader.

Given a choice, Kathleen Wynne would have wanted to go against pompous Vic Fedeli, the Conservative caucus’ choice of leader. He is a known quantity and his platform is a known quantity. With time to think, Fedeli has taken himself out of the running.

But Brown was not irrelevant. Brown was high risk. The only good news for the Liberals lately was that Brown might not have been well known to voters but he was certainly making enemies within the Ontario Conservative Party. Dissidents in his own party were challenging him in court and in the electoral districts and they were winning.

One of the more interesting challenges was over his carbon tax policy. It seems that the PC Party’s lawyers were told to pay Cambridge lawyer Jim Karahalios $110,000 for his legal fees and $33,500 in punitive and special damages. The judge in the case considered the action to be just a strategic lawsuit to stifle dissent. Mr. Karahalios had already had his Conservative Party membership revoked and was barred from the November policy announcement because of his campaigns against Patrick Brown’s leadership and the proposed carbon tax.

Other party members have also been complaining about the party lawyers continuing their efforts to block dissent from Mr. Karaholios and appealing the order to pay him compensation.

What pleases Kathleen Wynne the most is that while the Progressive Conservatives might be getting the bulk of the media attention at the moment, it is not likely to be the type of attention that will do them any good.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

A house divided.

Tuesday, January 30th, 2018

The Progressive Conservative Party in Ontario is in turmoil. Since last Wednesday, the party has been playing its own Game of Thrones. Slights—real or imagined—are earning retaliation and factions of the party are preparing for the fights to come.

The Queen’s Park conservative caucus got behind Vic Fedeli from Nipissing as interim leader but the party hierarchy opted for a fast and furious leadership race that could produce a new leader by the end of March. And there is lots of time for more mistakes to be made.

The first reality for the party to face is that there are no 200,000 Tories eager to vote for a new leader in March. It depends entirely on how aggressive and well funded the candidates are and how many come forward. The only ones bringing in new money would be newcomers such as Caroline Mulroney and Rod Phillips. Whether either of these untried conservatives can put together the organization needed, is the question.

The lucky leadership candidates are the ones with an existing organization. This includes social conservatives in Ontario who might have nobody stronger than Monte McNaughton from Southwestern Ontario to support. These people are still smarting from the way they were used by Patrick Brown and they will probably stick with Monte out of spite.

There is no telling what an organization such as the Ontario Landowners Association might do in this situation. Randy Hillier, who was one of their founders, might be up to another fight.

The guy who lacks the credibility with the party is Vic Fedeli, the caucus choice. Even if Toronto Mayor John Tory’s ego got the better of him and he jumped into the race, he would at least beat Interim Leader Fedeli, the former mayor of North Bay.

The Toronto media are always trying to promote former Toronto councillor Doug Ford as an option. While he might be saying, in his mother’s basement, that he is in, he will go nowhere unless he figures a way to pay the memberships for his late brother’s Ford Nation. He could hardly hide it the way Patrick Brown hid his paying for his Indian Sub-Continent members.

Our guess is that the Ontario PC’s are challenging the world of hackers to have fun with their leadership. They will have to use somebody’s software for remote voting. Will it be hacker-proof?

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

“Who killed Cock Robin?”

Sunday, January 28th, 2018

“All the birds of the air

fell a-sighing and a-sobbing,

when they heard the bell toll

for poor Cock Robin.”       (English nursery rhyme, author unknown.)

 

Former Barrie councillor, former MP and former leader of Ontario’s Progressive Conservative Party, Patrick Brown is not an object of sympathy.  It would be difficult to feel sorry for him. He will be remembered as the first politician to be thrown under the bus in the 2018 provincial election—that has yet to officially start.

But the contest for Ontario certainly has begun. And ‘Who killed Cock Robin?’ is a serious question. Brown was neither charged with a crime nor found guilty and he was dispatched with all the ceremony of empty pizza boxes after a frat house party. Guilty or not, the Tory caucus at Queen’s Park were hardly sorry to see him go. He will not be welcomed back.

When we wrote about his political career being finished last week, we were not talking about the charges against him. His relations with women might be pathetic but it was the news conference at Queen’s Park that did him in.

The staging of that media meeting was terrible, his prepared statement deplorable, his emotional control non-existent and his parting perp-walk pathetic. This is not what the voter wants to see at any level of politics. It is no wonder his campaign staff resigned rather than taking part in it. They had the sense to see where it would lead.

But the jubilant Conservative caucus at Queen’s Park were in a party mood when they picked Vic Fedeli as Interim leader. There is one word for a pompous millionaire and former mayor who is a back-slapping politician: boring. He was no threat to the caucus and a likely loser if he controls the 2018 election campaign for the Tories.

But the party organization belonged to Patrick Brown and the party executive opted for a vote on leadership by the entire party. And if you are wondering about who advised those young ladies to go to CTV with their experiences at Patrick’s place, you might ask who benefits? And bear in mind, the Liberals would want it to happen much closer to the election.

We all want to know who,

Drew the arrow straight and true,

The arrow that slew poor Cock Robin.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Ontario banks on the LCBO.

Friday, January 26th, 2018

That banker is back. Do you remember Ed Clark? He was the guy from TD Bank who advised Premier Kathleen Wynne to sell off Ontario’s Hydro One electricity distribution system. Remember how that got the Wynne government in trouble?

This Clark is the same guy who told Wynne that she could distribute beer and wine through the larger grocery stores. Remember the pain of gradually getting some booze in grocery stores.

The bad news about the few grocery stores selling beer and wine is that they are told how to do it by the LCBO—an organization that does not appear to know anything about pricing, merchandising, convenience, customer service, store design, or giving the customer an even break. If the grocery industry in Ontario had any guts, they would tell the government to take all the rules and regulations laid on them by the LCBO for them to sell beer and wine, roll them up and stick them where the sun does not shine.

And to think that the LCBO has been charged to start retailing marijuana to the gullible Ontario public in less than six months. This is adding insult to injury. It is not connected to the liquor operations and it is no corner store operation. Somehow there are supposed to be 14 pot stores in all of Ontario by July 1, 2018.

And just guess who is going to be running this Keystone Kops operation? None other than Premier Wynne’s good buddy, Ed Clark. He has just been made chair of the LCBO. And he says he is doing the job for a loonie a year—which might be more than he is worth!.

And standing on the sidelines, cheering Mr. Clark on is another former banker, finance minister Charles Sousa. Sousa is quoted as saying that Clark is also a retailer because he comes from TD Bank “that changed the face of banking in (Canada).”

Last year one of our local TD branches moved to a new plaza near Georgian College in Barrie. It started out looking like a nice little bank. We were delighted to see that it lacked the usual cattle pen to line up the retail customers and everybody commented and congratulated the staff. The customers got in line anyway. Last week we saw that a cattle pen had been added. TD Bank changes nothing!

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Brown’s political days are done.

Thursday, January 25th, 2018

When your entire life is politics, the end of your run can be a tragedy. Like the marathon runner, he is, he felt the eagerness for the starter’s gun and the highs of the final stretch. For the rest of his life, Barrie’s Patrick Brown can only say, ‘If only…”

No, there are no regrets for him. He knew the chances he took. He was not a person who attracted women. Making sexual advances on a person who works for you is reprehensible. There is no excuse.

What is also of concern is the cavalier way Patrick Brown could use his position as a Member of Parliament. There have been questions for years now about his involvement with charities such as a hockey event for the Barrie hospital. The claim that one of his accuser’s makes that he hired her to work on this charity event, pressed her to travel with him on his frequent trips to India and gave her a raise after making sexual advances is a sordid story.

Patrick Brown was a sorry sight at the Queen’s Park news conference on Wednesday. He called it to deny the allegations made by CTV News. Emotions on edge, he denied everything. If he had listened to any of his advisers, that would have been a very different event. It is an extremely difficult situation for anyone to handle and he blew it. Even if all the accusers would recant, he cannot recover from those few moments.

Patrick Brown is finished in politics.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Alberta commits to pollute.

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018

It is hard to think of Alberta Premier Rachel Notley as an oil baron but she must be at least an honorary member of the Petroleum Club. Her government has committed to shipping 50,000 barrels a day of what must be diluted bitumen through TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline over the next 20 years. Bitumen, the output of Canada’s oil sands, is the most polluting petroleum product our planet proffers.

Bitumen pollutes at every step in the process. It causes pollution just to be extracted from the land. The effluent of its extraction process pollutes the environment. The conversion of bitumen to ersatz crude oil causes extensive pollution and leaves behind a carbon-rich slag. Further refining it to different grades of fuels causes pollution. And finally, burning it as a fuel causes even more pollution.

But Alberta’s government does not care. Donald Trump’s America wants to be great again and burns more coal. Sharon Notley’s Alberta wants to be rich again and pollute for profit.

This makes the NDP premier of Alberta just as much of a hypocrite as her hero in the U.S. White House. Her government is accepting diluted bitumen from the oil sands exploiters in lieu of royalty payments. Instead of just being the regulator on behalf of all Albertans, the Alberta government is in the game. It is in the oil business.

It is because of this accumulation of output from the tar sands as royalties, that the Alberta government can make a commitment to TransCanada Pipelines. It is guaranteeing use of the line while speculating on the price of bitumen at the Texas Gulf Coast oil ports. From the ports, the bitumen can be shipped to countries around the world who are not concerned about the pollution it causes and the harm to the environment.

This makes the Keystone XL pipeline even more likely as the company has now secured 500,000 barrels a day in commitments. That is 60 per cent of the total of the planned capacity for Keystone XL of 830,000 barrels per day. Those guarantees TransCanada are showing off can be taken to the bank as proof of the financial viability of the pipeline—if it ever gets completed.

The question for the voters of Alberta is can you trust a government to regulate and control an industry if the government is directly involved in the industry?

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Ontario votes in June.

Monday, January 22nd, 2018

While political pundits have obviously thought long and hard on Ontario Premier Wynne’s possible political problems this spring, I doubt her main concern is misogyny. Nobody is mad at her for being a woman and not many voters give a darn about her being in a lesbian relationship. That is not what the provincial vote on June 7 is about.

The vote will be about the Liberal government of Kathleen Wynne and the political hopes of the Progressive Conservative party of Patrick Brown and the New Democratic Party of Andrea Horwath. If you do not like those three options, you might have a Green Party or some independent candidate to consider in your electoral district. And you have the best part of five months to make your decision. Most Ontario citizens will not even think about the election until maybe sometime late in May.

While supposedly neutral, news media pundits wring their hands about the Liberals being in power in Ontario for the past 14 years, that is hardly a record. It was the government that brought the province through the most serious financial crash since the Great Depression while phasing out coal-fired electricity production and introducing all-day kindergarten. And even with the recent uptick in the minimum wage, unemployment is now at an amazingly low number.

When Kathleen Wynne took over as premier, she had already earned this writer’s enmity. I was hardly impressed by the chicanery she pulled in gaining the party leadership. (To be fair, her skulduggery was far less blatant than the underhanded way Patrick Brown used to take over his party’s leadership.)

But, on balance, you have to admit that the Wynne government has done a pretty good job. She should never have listened to that banker who told her to sell off the electrical distribution in the province. Her expansion of beer and wine distribution to large grocery stores became a long-playing joke. And yet, her government deserves a lot of credit for helping improve seniors’ pensions, providing a list of common medicines free to children and young people, and finally getting the minimum wage heading towards a living wage.

In the meantime, the Conservatives are falling all over each other hoping to get some blowback in the election. The worst thing for their hopes would be a strong NDP. If Leader Andrea Horwath continues to bumble along, it will not help the Liberals’ chances. A strong third party could force a minority and it is one of the possibilities we will be looking at as the election gets closer.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

The Lion proposes to his Princess.

Saturday, January 20th, 2018

We read that it was the Tenth Sikh Guru Gobind Singh, who determined that Sikh men could identify as Singh (lion) and Sikh women as Kaur (princess). This happened more than 300 years ago and was all in aid of getting rid of the caste system for Sikhs and asserting the equality of women. It is why, with the upcoming marriage of Jagmeet Singh to Girkiran Kaur Sidhu, the leader of Canada’s New Democratic Party and his wife will probably want to keep their own names.

But despite it being a Sikh ceremony, it is all very political. There are just too many problems with an unmarried political party leader. If you do not have to face the rumours and innuendoes about a politician’s sexuality, you can concentrate on the more important issues.

When you consider the provincial Conservative leaders in Alberta and Ontario, you can understand the problem. Nobody really cares about the sexual choices of Jason Kenney, who is now the leader of Alberta’s United Conservatives. His record is clear as a social Conservative and there have been enough claims about the misogyny of him and his circle that it is hard to understand why any woman would want to support him.

Observing Ontario Conservative Leader Patrick Brown while he was in Ottawa and representing us here in Barrie, I think his problem is that women do not seem to like him. He is also a social conservative and has voted to re-open arguments about abortion and against same-sex marriage. He does not appear comfortable talking to women and they seem to rapidly lose interest in him.

Jagmeet Singh is quite different. With an outgoing personality and as a devout Sikh, he would probably be considered a very good catch for a Sikh lady. His ‘princess’ also looks like the perfect spouse for a politician. She is a successful fashion designer and appears to wear her designs well.

Jagmeet is already a hero to younger Sikhs because of his days as an extreme wrestler as well as being a successful lawyer before going into provincial politics in Ontario. He has yet to win election though to the House of Commons and take his place in parliament as NDP leader.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Politics is a numbers racket.

Thursday, January 18th, 2018

It is time to admit it: I used to be a numbers runner. Different from the numbers racket in the United States, in Canada, it is a political game. I used to announce numbers provided by my political party to see if we could draw out numbers from the other parties. It was usually a fun game where nobody got hurt or really won.

This subject occurred to me the other day when reading about the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party having (maybe) 200,000 members. The Tory’s were so proud of that figure that they let that silly ass Patrick Brown announce it. There is absolutely nothing surprising about that figure.

When you consider what has happened since its last leader Timmy Hudak embarrassed the provincial Conservatives back in 2014, the party was at its lowest membership. Nobody will provide precise figures but the paid-up membership ($10 per year, please) was likely to have been less than 20,000 die-hard Tories.

And you should note that just because you have not paid for the current year, you are not immediately removed from the lists. It is easy for you to come out to some party event and pay to bring your membership current. In the 2015 leadership there were candidates for leader signing up new members in wholesale numbers and probably increased the membership to more than 80,000. Since about half of those new sign-ups were newcomers to Ontario from the Indian Sub-Continent signed-up by organizers for Patrick Brown, it really was no contest. (Who paid for those memberships is a good question?)

What causes the real boost to the party’s numbers is the upcoming election in June of this year. With questionable polls showing a supposed walk in the park for the Tories to win, there is a lot of interest in the new, redrawn or existing 124 electoral districts. This has sent out an army of people supporting this or that Conservative candidate to sign up people who might support their candidate. A candidate signing up 3000 to 4000 new members in an electoral district is not an unknown occurrence. These contests leading up to the 2018 election have also produced more than the average number of claims of fraud, malfeasance, chicanery and even some serious lawsuits.

Mind you as more and more people find out more about Tory Leader Patrick Brown, his chances of winning are diminishing. We will supply you with a Morning Line on the contest at the end of April.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

If there is a wrong way?

Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

The Trudeau government seems to be fated to find the wrong way to do things. Whether it is just a contrariness or a strange quirk is still something we have not figured out. It is probably the reason that we say so little about the coming legalization of marijuana in Canada. Legal or illegal, whatever their involvement, cannabis brings out the least appealing characteristics of the people involved in its distribution and use.

And while I have always been in favour of decriminalizing cannabis, I must admit the smell of it being smoked repulses me. I will never be a customer for marijuana, legal or otherwise. It is still smoking and that is deadly.

But I would never have believed that a cop could be heading up that convoy bent on making pot socially acceptable. Only a cop would take two years to figure it out.

And, it hardly helps that I have absolutely no respect for the cop involved for the Trudeau Liberals. Former Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair could be just as useless as a Member of Parliament as he was in his City of Toronto job. We should never forget that he was the cop-in-charge in June 2010 at Harper’s G-20. It was Blair who wrongly jailed people under disgusting conditions, allowed police to attack citizens who were lawfully gathered, kettled citizens who were lawfully on the streets and yet allowed havoc by out-of-town anarchists.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau thinks Blair is the perfect person to plan our upcoming pot party on July 1 this year.

But do not suppose that the feds are the only ones pimping for ‘Mary-Jane.’ The provincial governments get pot revenue too. Each province to their own custom will be selling marijuana for fun and profit. With its usual snails-pace for making things happen, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) promises to have special stores open in 14 municipalities in July of this year to sell pot but not booze.

There will be a lot of publicity telling people not to toke and drive. That is a very good suggestion if there really was a legal way to tell if someone is high on THC (the main hallucinogenic ingredient in cannabis).

But do not expect to get high to celebrate Canada’s 151st birthday. The pot stores run by the provinces are most likely to be closed for the holiday. This will just have to be a ‘bring-your-own’ party.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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