Archive for the ‘Provincial Politics’ Category

Ontario’s Trillium Party wins an MPP.

Friday, June 2nd, 2017

What? You have never heard of Ontario’s Trillium Party? Just think of founding a new party like the creation of a fine wine. First you have to plant the vines. It is a lengthy process before you need a bottling plant.

While the Trillium leadership—a guy named Bob Yaciuk (and no, I don’t know how to pronounce it)—might deny this: you can think of the Trillium Party as a cross between angry conservatives and aspiring libertarians.

Whether MPP Jack MacLaren is a libertarian or not is irrelevant but he certainly is an annoyed Conservative. It was a tight race to see if he could quit the Ontario Conservatives before they turfed him from the party, He lost and the Tories turfed him.

The Tories threw MacLaren out of their caucus at Queen’s Park because he was constantly embarrassing them (And it is tough to embarrass that caucus!). He is described as what we refer to politically as a loose cannon. No amount of sensitivity training seems to get this guy to think about what he says in public. In an electoral district with large numbers of federal government employees, he is a narrow-minded critic of bilingualism. He is also an outspoken misogynist and can embarrass both men and women.

There was no complaint about him two years ago when he was on the Patrick Brown team for the Ontario party leadership. MacLaren is an old and respected name in that part of Ontario and he was one of the two MPPs from the Ontario caucus supporting the then social conservative Brown. Along with MacLaren, Brown got the support of the extremist Ontario Landowners’ Association.

It was the Ottawa Citizen that confirmed what MacLaren’s website contained testimonials from “satisfied constituents” that did not exist. This is not that uncommon a practice but you have to really be annoyed with a politician before you dig into such things. Knowing many voters in Kanata-Carleton electoral district, it will be great fun to watch what happens there next June.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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“Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.”

Wednesday, May 31st, 2017

That hackneyed expression is used to describe politicians who stupidly work to defeat themselves. A good example today is the desperation we are seeing at Queen’s Park as the Liberal’s Premier Kathleen Wynne continues to destroy the Liberal legacy in Ontario. She has so many irons in so many fires that the voters are completely confused.

Good government for Ontario does not seem to be Ms. Wynne’s operating theory. Instead, she dabbles. She is a reactionary dabbler. You show her a problem and she will question what is the smallest effort needed to say she is doing something about it.

Today she is mired in the argument as to whether we or our children should pay for the expense of government incompetence at managing electric power for this province. And before Patrick Brown smirks at this statement, it should be noted that all flavours of politicians are equally inept.

It was to Ms. Wynne’s credit though that she saw through the hypocrisy of the other parties and made a move to introduce beer and better wines in grocery stores. She destroyed herself and her party by turning the introduction into a form of water torture. It will be years before we will just assume that any large grocery store will have a booze section. And there is not a single damn grocery store in Barrie carrying beer or wine yet. That is not only obvious and petty just because it is where that schmuck Conservative leader Patrick Brown is running next year.

Mind you, the beer and wine fiasco is nowhere near the colossal stupidity of suggesting that the first high-speed trains in Ontario should be from Toronto’s Union Station to cabinet colleague Deb Matthews’ electoral district in London, Ontario. How dumb do you think the voters are in this province?

And even as late as yesterday, Wynne announced that it will take her government two more years to get the minimum wage up to $15 per hour. Our kids have action dolls that provide more action than Premier Wynne.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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Everyone’s an expert on High-Speed Rail.

Tuesday, May 30th, 2017

You can hardly blame an old friend such as David Collenette. His career has been in service to the Liberal Party. He was executive director of the Ontario party in 1974 when he was asked to be the federal candidate in York East when the earlier nominee had to resign. We were pleased when David won. He was a hard-working backbencher and went on to serve in the cabinets of three prime ministers.

It was his service as federal minister of transport in the Chrétien cabinet that gives him credibility in addressing the question of high-speed rail (HSR) for Ontario. David’s report to Premier Wynne is the basis of her proposed HSR from London to Toronto. She has asked David to continue his assistance in shepherding the environmental review of the plan.

But it seems that resistance is already building and the chances of Ontario ever having HSR is quickly being mired in political controversy. Premier Wynne might have brought this on herself for her constant timidity and half-measures in getting anything to happen.

The Toronto Star has certainly drawn up its drawers and decided that this is a controversial issue. The paper has so far invited business professors, business ‘experts and its own columnists to have at the plan. While they do not appear to drool spittle as they mostly condemn the plan as do the PostMedia writers, they are not sparing the hyperbole. Ms. Wynne is really in need of friends here.

If only her plan, as it stands, was not so damn political, we would be sympathetic. Canadians are going to have to rescue this situation with a very different strategy. We need to go back 150 years and take note of how Sir John A. Macdonald pulled this country together. It might have taken a lot of rhetoric, a lot of whisky and a lot of skulduggery but we got railways that ran from sea to sea.

On top of that, at the turn of the 20th Century, southern Ontario was a world leader in inter-city electric railcars. Why government-owned GO Transit did not go electric immediately as the commuter rail lines were connected over the years, we have no idea. The change at this stage gets more expensive every day.

But the real need for the first 250 kph trains in Canada is on the Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal loop. That will likely take smarter politicians in Ottawa, Quebec City and Toronto than are there today.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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We can blame Cousin Oliver.

Friday, May 26th, 2017

It is all Oliver Mowat’s fault. The myopic Father of Confederation had a mainly rural and agrarian Ontario to oversee in the early years of confederation. His picture hangs over our desk today, not as a distant relation but in the form of a preserved and framed, full front-page of a Saturday Globe published in 1893.  The lead story recognizes Sir Oliver’s then 21-year tenure as Ontario’s premier.

But Ontario is a very different place today than the Province of Upper Canada that came into the Canadian confederation 150 years ago this July 1. Cousin Oliver would probably have something snarky to say about the picture of his one-time colleague Canada’s first Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald on the same wall. The two of them had very different views of confederation. Our preference is the country as foreseen by Sir John.

Yet, it was Sir Oliver who won those early battles taken to London that defined this country. He saw Canada as an outrider to the British ship of state. He saw us as a supplier of raw materials to English industry. He wanted strong provinces that could dictate to a national government of convenience. The British adjudicators of the time agreed with Sir Oliver.

But Sir John had his revenge. He built the national links of steel that drew Canada into one. His Canada was from sea to sea.

Give Oliver the credit he deserves in building Ontario into the powerhouse of confederation. It was his short-sightedness that left us with a constricting constitution that is so unsuited to the needs of our modern Canada.

Who knew in 1867 that Canada would outgrow the concept of the Commonwealth? Who knew in those early years of confederation that Canada could become a production powerhouse to help change the course of European and World Wars?

Let’s give Oliver the credit he deserves. He was a wily politician. He took George Brown and Edward Blake’s early Liberals and led them for 24 years as Premier of Ontario. He put together a voting coalition that included Catholics and working class voters. It was said about him that he was supported strongly by both the liquor interests and the prohibitionists. Cousin Oliver was a Liberal.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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The anger is real Ms. Wynne.

Sunday, May 21st, 2017

It is the time of year when Canadians come out of their winter refuges. We travel. We talk to each other. And if we are smart, we listen. What we are hearing here in Ontario is the strong desire for change. That is not necessarily bad if Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne is also listening.

What we are hearing might be a surprise to her. Her notoriety has gained momentum over the winter. We are hearing her being blamed for many things, even some for which she has no responsibility. It is hard to argue with the anger.

If something is worth doing, she does it by half measures and for optimal political benefit. We understand she was in London, Ontario yesterday to announce a high-speed train plan for the Toronto-Windsor corridor. While we understand the political choice to starting with that section, we are appalled at the political hutzpah behind it.

Of course, we all know that the Windsor-Toronto leg will be the cheapest and there are more Liberal seats to be won in that part of southern Ontario. We will also concede that it is the leg that can be moved along with some alacrity.

But Wynne really needs to wait and announce this when they can say something more definite about costs than it will cost between $4 billion and $12 billion. We will soon be referring to Kathleen Wynne as the $8 billion-dollar woman.

What is particularly disappointing with this is that she is appointing David Collenette, former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien’s Minister of Transport, to drive this train through the years it will take to complete building the line. The only money really allocated at this time is $15 million for the environmental studies. It is the thought that David might be expendable after next June’s provincial election that concerns us. And we would also hate to see this vital project turned into a political football.

But it is just the latest cynical political move by a sorry politician with an ego that is bigger than her sense of duty to this province.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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Fixing Ontario’s out-of-date work laws.

Friday, May 19th, 2017

Ontario Labour Minister Kevin Flynn has a tough road to travel with the Wynne Cabinet. He is seeking to address the antiquated labour laws in Ontario. He wants to restore balance to the rights of part-time workers. He wants to guarantee a minimum wage on which someone can live. What will be interesting in these deliberations will be the blocks the Wynne government puts in the way.

The full package is just too much to expect of a cautious and conservative government such as Wynne runs. She will probably agree to the raising of the minimum wage except it will be piecemeal and behind the poverty curve.

She will likely agree to making it easier to unionize rather than to really digging into the wrongs of the workplace. Her cabinet would have little understanding of the pride of place in the working environment and the need for individual rights in employment. Unions are not the only answer and addressing those rights under collective agreements cannot necessarily enable individual rights in the workplace.

While Kevin Flynn might want to overcome some of the problems in unionizing widely dispersed workers, he seems to be ignoring what can be done in labour law to improve their lot. He seems to also be unaware that the federal and provincial governments are both guilty of having massive numbers of employees under contract that treat them as contractors without benefits or many rights.

Moving temporary workers to an improved vacation pay—allowing for a minimum of three-weeks actual time off with pay is a minor step. Ensuring temporary workers of the same benefits as full-time employees is key to sorting out what is temporary work and what is full-time employment.

But the minimum wage question is still the key question that Flynn has to fight on. The Wynne Cabinet has already dug a line that can also bury them after the election next June. All they have to do is leave the minimum wage behind the poverty line.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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Take it to heart Ms. Wynne.

Monday, May 15th, 2017

Yes, there is a lesson to be learned from the B.C. provincial election by Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne. The lesson is that when voters are mad, you best get out of the way.

Take a page from former Premier Dalton McGuinty’s book: he knew when to get out of the way. Except for the gas-powered electrical generation plants, he gave Kathleen Wynne a fairly clean slate.

But few were impressed. If it had not been for the very bad campaigns of Tim Hudak’s Conservatives and Andrea Horwath’s New Democrats in 2014, Wynne might not have scraped through that last election. And we can hardly count on Brown and Horwath to be so careless this time around.

Brown is not likely to be such an easy target as Hudak next spring. This guy will never be where you expect him to be and he will be a fast-moving target. He is currently attacking Yasir Naqvi Ontario’s Attorney General over inadequacies in Ontario’s parole system but it is more the man he is attacking than the parole needs. Undermining strong cabinet members at any opportunity is just a strategic move rather than any concern.

Brown and his people would also recognize Naqvi as a strong possibility to replace Wynne and they are trying for two birds with one stone.

But there are some even stronger Liberals ready for the top job in Ontario and Wynne is in their way at the moment. She needs to resign before the end of June so that the party can set up a convention by November. If we can get an every-member votes race without artificial constrictions, we have the chance of choosing a younger, more progressive Liberal leader than we have had for many a year. What we have to make sure of is that the supposed powers-that-be are kept from manipulating the convention.

What we need to hear from liberal candidates for Wynne’s job is their ideas of about where Ontario is headed. As the industrial and financial heart of Canada, we have to take the lead. A small step towards Pharmacare based on looking after our young people has to show a path for full Pharmacare across Canada. This would contribute considerably to lowering and controlling healthcare costs for the entire country.

Ontario need never take pride in just where we are but has to have a vision of the future. That takes leadership.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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Those tree-hugging Greenies did it!

Saturday, May 13th, 2017

When we wrote our Morning Line for the British Columbia provincial election, we admitted the weakness to our assessment. Here it is four days after the election and we still know very little. Blame the Greens!

With the B.C. Liberals one short of a majority, the absentee ballots and the recounts will be critical.

The B.C. Green Party won three seats in an 87-seat legislature and you would swear they just won the Battle of the Bulge. Green leader Andrew Weaver is acting like he just won a lottery. If the ruling Liberals do not regain one more seat in the final counts, Weaver’s three Green Party MLAs will hold the balance of power.

That balance of power would be good to kill the Kinder Morgan Trans-mountain pipeline and take away the Liberal’s unfair business financing. B.C. could have a more honest and fair election next time around—probably in less than two years.

Mind you, it can go the other way too. The absentee ballots for the riding of Courtenay-Comox could easily change that 9-vote lead of the NDP candidate to a win for Christie Clark’s Liberals. And that would be the status quo all over again with a statistical majority for the Liberals.

That outcome would not be enough to make Clark’s friend Justin Trudeau happy. Getting the Kinder Morgan pipeline completed under those circumstances would be tenuous at best. A simple flu bug going through the government ranks in the Legislature could upset that apple cart.

The situation reminds us all that politics is a blood sport and there is no quarter given to those on their way out.

Mind you, B.C. voters need to learn something about strategic voting. Putting your resources where they will do the most good is a basic of war and politics.

We will all be watching as B.C. plays out this fascinating battle over the next couple weeks.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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A politico posits on Patrick Brown.

Friday, May 12th, 2017

One of the more interesting aspects of some politicians is the effort they will take to make sure you do not know them. It is like Ontario voters should be less worried about Ontario Conservative leader Patrick Brown’s lack of policies than his lack of personality.

Having moved to Barrie 13 years ago, we were still unpacking when the 2004 federal election was called. The first election worker at our door was calling to promote the local Liberal candidate. The second was the Conservative candidate in person.

Patrick Brown is not an impressive person. This anaemic-looking little man was at our door with his hand out offering to shake hands. He introduced himself in that whiny adenoidal voice and that was when we found out who he was. It convinced us to make sure we were on the voters’ list to vote Liberal. Brown lost that election. He won in 2006.

For more than 12 years now, we have watched Patrick Brown in action (and in in-action) here in Barrie and when in Ottawa. He has never really represented Barrie. He never did anything in Ottawa other than what Stephen Harper’s people told him. And when they did not instruct him, he voted against women’s rights on the Conservative religious right.

Once when this writer was in the nation’s capital to make a presentation to the Canadian Radio-Television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), one of the speakers earlier on the agenda was Patrick Brown M.P. It was very obvious in his remarks that he was not speaking on behalf of his voters. When he sat down beside a young man in front of where we were sitting, he did not recognize us. The young man was quite effusive about the MP’s speech and we got the impression he had written it. That made sense when seeing his badge that identified him as a Bell Canada employee.

Brown was known as the king of parliamentary mailers in Ottawa—using his free mailing privileges to voters—usually to support charities because he had nothing to say for himself. We used to hate meeting voters who told us what a wonderful job he did for the charities. They had no clue what he was elected to do in Ottawa.

Patrick Brown lives and breathes politics. When he saw the hand-writing on the wall for the Harper regime a couple years ago, he flipped to the provincial scene. He looked at how small the Ontario Progressive Conservative membership was and swamped it with 40,000 mainly Hindu and Muslim temporary membership sign-ups from the sub-continent. He appeared to defy the rules of the party and nobody called him on it.

Brown is relying on the party to provide him with some polices for next year. He might also lack principles but nobody can help him there.


Copyright 2016 © Peter Lowry

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Is Andrea Horwath circling the drain?

Wednesday, May 10th, 2017

There had to be some confusion in Ontario New Democratic Party ranks last week. It was caused by an unfortunate story about the NDP getting a second wind “With Horwath at the helm.” This was after the party had the wind taken out of its sails by the Liberals announcing Pharmacare for all Ontario residents under 25. The only t-shirt that Horwath can wear says: ‘Loser.’

Written by the Star’s provincial political pundit Martin Regg Cohn, the story lauds Horwath for supposedly pre-empting the governing Liberals announcement before their budget. What seems more obvious is that the NDP had bad intelligence about the budget. Their plan was ridiculed for only providing for just the most frequently prescribed drugs instead of the entire government list.

But maybe the Star writer was feeling sorry for the NDP leader. After all, her only solace in the budget was that the NDP had asked the government to extend rent controls. The only problem with rent controls is that the government has to implement incentives to build rental properties or the program can result in a lack of sufficient new rentals being made available. That was done.

Maybe the reason for good cheer after eight years of running Ontario’s NDP, is that Horwath is finally showing better on the personal polls. The serious dissatisfaction with the Wynne way of running things and growing realization that the new Progressive Conservative leader might be a conniving putz, has pushed her profile forward. She has the dubious honour of being the best of a bad lot.

As any progressive can tell you, Ontario NDPers’ hearts are usually in the right place. It is their brains that are addled. They are giving Horwath no serious help in developing policy toward next year’s election. And this is certainly the area in which Horwath needs the most help. She went through the 2014 election as though she had lost her service dog. She had absolutely no adult help in struggling through that election. Lately she has had nothing more than a shallow LEAP Manifesto from her Toronto brain trust.

It is long past the time when Canada’s federal and provincial New Democrats need to realize that they have to leave the era of socialism and self-centred unions and look to a social democrat future. Tomorrow’s workplace needs a political party that can think differently on workers and their needs. They have to realize that work is no longer a sinecure but a journey. It is there to bring us personal fulfilment.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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