Posts Tagged ‘Barrie Elections’

The pollsters have peaked.

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018

“O, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive.”

Obviously, Sir Walter Scott had a better take on pollsters 200 years ago than we do today. Ontario voters have been bamboozled by the pollsters since the beginning of the current provincial campaign. As much as the thought of a Doug Ford led government amuses them, the pollsters have now said Andrea Horwath is also in contention. That thought did it. It is time for the grown ups to step forward.

It is not that Andrea and her new democrats have failed mathematics. Another billion or so in debt is not going to make or break the province and everybody makes mistakes in math. It is just that the new democrats are bringing nothing new to the table. There is less talent in the NDP caucus at Queen’s Park today than Bob Rae had with him when he accidently became premier in 1990. All the NDP proved at that time was that they would turn the government over to the incompetent Mike Harris.

But for a real incompetent, Doug Ford, would be hard to beat.

The smartest thing Doug Ford could do would be struck by some mysterious disease and not show up for the final leadership debate next week. More and more of his candidates have been struck by that mysterious disease and not shown up for debates in their electoral districts. It reminds me of the Quebec NDPer who went to Las Vegas for the 2011 federal election and won election.

I can think of more than a few candidates over the years who would have got more votes if they had gone fishing instead of wandering aimlessly where the voters could see them.

And as for Andrea Horwath, I thought we were done with her. People seem to think it is mean of me to mention her dress, deportment or demeanour. The problem is that she dresses like a refugee from a Russian gulag. She is not leading that bunch of no-goodniks in the NDP caucus anywhere and I defy you to tell me anything she has ever come up with on her own? Did you see her giggling her way through that first debate?

The problem we have is that Horwath is horrible, Ford is a fool and Wynne is supposedly the wicked witch of the north. What is likeable about any of them?

But I am going to vote for the liberal candidate in Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte because he seems like a decent guy and is the only acceptable candidate who could represent us. All the other candidates seem to only represent their parties.


Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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It’s like a long race on turf.

Monday, October 16th, 2017

The next Ontario general election is scheduled to be held June 7, 2018. This race will be like a mile and a half on the turf track and requires horses with great endurance and energy. That makes it the time for the old and tired to retire. And that is what is happening with all parties at Queen’s Park.

As the largest party among the incumbents, the Liberals are expected to have the highest turnover.  The noisiest of the changes are among the contested nominations for the Progressive Conservative Party. The quiet changes are among the New Democratic Party which has already lost its deputy leader because he knew this branch of the party is going nowhere.

There is no question that the Queen’s Park Liberals need turnover. After 14 years in power, the party has promises to keep, legacies to earn. Neither Toronto’s Brad Duguid nor Glen Murray will be missed in cabinet or in Ontario politics. Nor do the Liberals need to keep dragging the anchor of Deb Matthews from London. The older Liz Sandals will be missed though for the calming and knowledge she brought to the education portfolio.

The conflict for Premier Wynne is that she needs to hold on to every MPP in her caucus who looks like he or she can hold their riding. There are no guarantees with the shake up in electoral district boundaries. And there is always lots of time after an election for recriminations.

Sure, Wynne should have resigned in the past year and given a new, younger leader a chance. There is no more time for that speculation. Win or lose, Wynne is what the Liberals have to offer. Hopefully there will be a comer among the younger Liberal MPPs.

But like the last election, Wynne’s strengths are experience, position and the lack of effective opposition. Not that the Conservatives are not going to continue to tear at her like a pack of wild dogs. She is no fool and she is street smart. They have no idea of what will bring her down.

If this were a turf contest at Woodbine Racetrack, none of the party leaders would be leading the pack. None of the three are good for the distance. The voters want better and deserve better.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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A Conservative MP speaks honestly: that’s news.

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

David Wilks, MP for Kootenay, BC made news the other day. He spoke honestly and openly with some of his riding people. It was another win for having cameras in cell phones. He was commenting on the omnibus budget bill now being pushed through parliament by the Harper Conservatives. This Conservative MP admitted that he was unable to examine the bill properly.

It appears that Stephen Harper took his wayward MP to the woodshed when it was learned that Mr. Wilks’ comments were on the Internet. He had broken the rules. Back bench MPs are there to vote and say nothing other than they are told to say. Canada’s parliament is no longer a place for debate.

We are, of course, quite safe from any such shenanigans in Babel. The MP for Babel is not elected to think. He is elected as a Conservative nebbish who does what he is told. He accepts the pay and the perquisites of office without ever having to care, to think, to plan or to worry about anything other than re-election.

The MP for Babel is the king of the ten-percenters, the obnoxious grey, self promotion government mailers that come so often in our mail. He has never met a charity that he could not use to promote himself. You can always count on him to rush to his riding if there is another picture opportunity. He has become a master at inserting his name into government news releases without caring or understanding what they are about.

But this pathetic person should not be allotted all the blame. Who picked him to represent the Conservative Party in Babel? Are these Babel party members proud of what they have done? Does he really represent them?

And what does this say about the voters of Babel? Does this person represent them? Did they bother to ask him of his understanding or position on the issues of the day? Did they care to find out if this person could make any contribution at all to our country? Did the person for whom they voted have any qualifications to be a Member of Parliament?

Two years ago, we engaged in a thorough study of voting patterns and attitudes in Babel. With the electoral maps for Babel, municipally, provincially and federally being almost the same, we were able to use voter turn-out and voting tendencies from all levels to conduct the study. The information gathered was used to considerable advantage in the municipal election that year. It also told us who would win in the subsequent provincial and federal elections.

You have to recognize that Babel is made up of various communities. It is not a cohesive entity. It has no identity as a city. The traditional east end (north of the bay) still thinks it runs Babel. The larger numbers of younger homeowners in the south end do not even know the east end exists. Communications in the city is a fascinating challenge. There are no simple solutions.

But what we do know is that there is a strong and shared devotion to this country. If a city ever needed leadership, it is Babel. It needs people who can speak up for it in Ottawa. It also needs people who can speak up for it at Queen’s Park.


Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry

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The belligerent burghers of Babel.

Friday, October 7th, 2011

They did it. They voted. They screwed themselves. Babel voters must be immune to common sense.  They already have a nebbish representing them in Ottawa.  Why send another embarrassment to Queen’s Park?

But they did!  Babel is the lynch pin of central Ontario and they took it out of the loop at Queen’s Park.  It means Babel will have a tough route to get the support needed to fix those constricting and dangerous interchanges on the 400.  It means foot-dragging on funds for Royal Victoria Hospital.  It impedes the building of Babel’s downtown university campus.  Babel will have nobody of any influence with the province.  The city has gone from lynch pin to backwater in one stupid vote.

Not that the Liberal candidate in Babel deserved to win.  Mind you, he certainly spent enough.  He appeared to be working hard.  He was just as right wing as his Conservative opponent.   He walked blindly into an unfortunate situation between the federal and provincial liberals here in Babel.  People worked hard to try to solve the problem but it needed the candidate to pull it off.  He needed to call and sit down with key people in the electoral district to bring the team together.  He lacked the political experience needed to make that happen.  He was also a bit arrogant.  That did not help.

As recently as election day, there was still the hope that enough Babel voters would recognize that the Conservative candidate in Babel was a loser.  He had lied to them about his leader’s position on uploading provincial expenses from the municipality.  He quoted statistics that were ludicrous to support his biases.  And he had nothing to offer.

And if voters thought his leader was any smarter, they were kidding themselves.  Tiny Tim Hudak took a huge lead in the polls at the beginning of the campaign and ran it into the ground.  He wanted a breakthrough in Toronto and started out calling new Canadians ‘foreigners.’  He annoyed Ontario’s municipal leaders.  He ridiculed McGuinty and the Harmonized Sales Tax and then said he would keep it.  He said he would take the former Ontario Hydro’s debt off electrical rates but failed to say how he would pay it off.

Frankly, it was a bad campaign all around.  McGuinty bored us.  Hudak insulted us.  And Horwath never lived up to her potential.  We give them about three years of stalking each other before the next election–depending on how the economy goes.  McGinty would be smart to cash in his chips in two years and let someone with a personality take over.

It will also be amusing to see what the extreme right-wing Ontario Landowners faction does to Tim Hudak.  Andrea Horwath also needs to find out where the Ontario New Democrats want to go.


Copyright 2011 © Peter Lowry

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Making democracy work.

Monday, September 26th, 2011

The growing number of pathetic stories in the media about the diminished willingness to vote can get to you.  You really wish that the editor or news director who asked for that piece had found a good fire to report instead.  Mind you a small story about Markham’s improved voting by using the Internet caught the eye this morning.  Babel should really pay attention to that.

In the last municipal election, your writer spent most of the time that polls were open visiting polling places, talking with the city staff people manning them and observing the procedures.  Babel uses electronic voting machines to screw up the voting process.

And it is going to get worse.  Once every four years, people who do not understand what they are doing are going to be inadequately trained to do an unfamiliar job under the instruction of people who have no experience with the process.  Municipal voting in Babel is a truly frightening process.  The only thing that saves us from the process becoming corrupt is that nobody cares that much.

Can you imagine an interview with an applicant for the job of city clerk: one of the questions relates to the city clerk being the municipality’s chief returning officer.  “Tell us, Miss. Jones, as the job includes being the returning officer, what do you know about elections?”  Would you believe an answer that the applicant once voted would be the most likely response?

Federal and provincial electoral districts each have highly trained and experienced elections officers permanently in place for when elections occur.  They are drawn from the ranks of political parties based on their knowledge and acceptability to the party in power.  The chief returning officer is their boss and this person is charged with ensuring that they are fair and honest in their dealings with the political parties and the public.  That system works well, most of the time.

In travels around Babel during the last municipal election, we found that the municipal employees were doing the best job they could.  There was some ambiguity in their written instructions and this resulted in some rather funny interpretations.  In one poll, we found the clerk had placed the candidate scrutinizers at one end of a large room while the polls they were scrutinizing where at the other end.  When she understood that scrutinizing included hearing what was going on at a poll as well as seeing, we had the room rearranged.

The main, and most obvious, problem Babel has is that its cumbersome, already antiquated electronic voting machines are not even a third of the number required.  The city needs to include Internet voting for the next municipal election.  To do that there needs to be a taskforce in place today to get it ready.  And the taskforce had better include people who know something about how politics works.


Copyright 2011 © Peter Lowry

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The Whig wins Babel.

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

That settled it in Babel.  We had our traditional all-candidates meeting at City Hall and the Whig candidate walked away with it.  There was no contest.  We can go and vote today and we will.  There is no need for more campaigning in Babel.  Sure, we will watch the party leaders’ debate on television next week but that is to see which leader wins.

Just watching the gradual gathering of the contestants here in Babel told the story.  The Freedom Party candidate was first in his place.  He is young and knew no better.  He admitted when his party had no policy on an issue—which was often.  He is a political science student and by this time next year he will probably be something else having come to understand the conundrums his funny right-wing party presents.

The Green guy sat himself down early and bored everyone over the next two hours.  It was a test of our commitment to democracy that we suffered through the often inane comments of the fringe candidates.

The funniest of the fringe was the Libertarian who seems to have absolutely no concept of what Libertarianism means.  There was the occasional laugh and a couple times, two people actually started to applaud him.

The NDP candidate surprised us.  The lady was not on her top form.  She rambled a bit in her answers. She was not always clear in what she was saying but that seemed to suit some of the quite unclear questions and the vagueness of some of the NDP platform.

The Conservative candidate was brought into the council chambers by three ladies of his cheering claque.  Having lost his seat as a councillor in last fall’s municipal election, he did not seem as familiar with the locale.  His opening went well but his subsequent claim that his party leader, Tim Hudak, did not say he would not honour the uploading of provincial costs from municipalities beyond the billion dollars already uploaded by the Liberal government was met by some derision.  It also got him into a shouting match with the Whig candidate.  While the dozen or so members of his cheering section tried to cover up his gaffe, he came out of the argument looking foolish because of his attempt at what many in the hall knew was a blatant lie.

The Whig arrived in style, briefing book under his arm, reading glasses perched on top of his closely cropped hair.  He did a victory lap around the hall, glad handing as he went.  His bonhomie was a bit forced but he did show warmth in welcoming two youngsters who were obviously his grandsons.  He made a point of showing good humour by extended familiarities in saying hello to each of the other candidates who were already seated, ready to proceed.  The Whig made good use of his professionally prepared briefing book throughout his presentations but when he got away from it, he used far more “I’s” than “we’s.”  He makes much of his service background in the military police but the campaign medals he brags of are what are known as “I was there” ribbons.  It is fair game to mention them; he just needs to be more humble about them.

He needs to spend some time on the back benches at Queen’s Park to find out what politics is really about.  He has too easy a win here in Babel.


Copyright 2011 © Peter Lowry

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‘And now I am the ruler of the Queen’s Navee.”

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

In Gilbert and Sullivan’s operetta HMS Pinafore,’ the First Lord of the Admiralty sings a song explaining how you get to rule the British Navy.  You start, he explains, by being apprenticed to a legal firm and work your way up to being sent by a pocket borough into parliament.  A good example of the pocket borough approach was evidenced the other day when Babel’s Whigs (Provincial Liberals) announced their new candidate for the October election. Their previous choice had told us she would not be running because of health problems.

The venue for the new prospective candidate’s announcement was a busy coffee shop.  At that time of the morning, you could count on the place being better than half full.  Adding six or seven Whigs, the candidate and the Liberal Party’s Ontario campaign chairman and his retainers to the numbers as well as a few of Babel’s news media, it would feel like a good crowd.  The party’s campaign chairman made the announcement.  He told the coffee drinkers how lucky they were to have such a stalwart candidate in Babel.  The incumbent Member of the Provincial Parliament for Babel was also there to say how pleased she was to have such a fine candidate to carry on her tradition.

Now there is a nicety in organized politics, these days, known as a nomination meeting.  Riding associations often call these meetings for the purpose of choosing their candidate.  It was announced that such a meeting will be called sometime next month—when they get around to it.

What was unusual about this coffee cloche is the presence of the provincial campaign chairman.  The campaign chair is chosen by the leader of the party—in this case, the Premier—to manage the party’s campaign across the province.  To be introduced to the riding by this person is a considerable leg up in the process of getting nominated.

If you were a person considering putting your name forward as a potential candidate for the Liberal Party in Babel, what would you think?  Would you want to embarrass the Premier’s campaign guy by making him look silly?  Would you want to earn the ill-will of the incumbent MPP by rejecting her choice of candidate?

And that is life in a pocket borough.

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On painting yourself into a corner.

Sunday, June 19th, 2011

There are mixed emotions when people who have said nasty things about you paint themselves into a very difficult corner.  Babel’s Whigs have got themselves in trouble.  It is trouble entirely of their creation but trouble none the less.

As was explained in a recent posting in Babel-on-the-Bay, the people running the Ontario Liberal Party Association in Babel remind us more of historical Whigs than modern Liberals.  These people seem to want to run the Babel organization as some sort of pocket borough.  Pocket boroughs were lampooned by W.S. Gilbert and set to the music of Arthur Sullivan in their 19th Century operettas.  In a pocket borough, the decisions on who would be the local member were made by the gentry in the borough and the peasants supported the decision.

It is all a matter of control.  To maintain such control today, all you have to do is keep the party organization to a small group, make all the decisions behind closed doors and tell nobody anything, unless you cannot help it.

When the incumbent Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) announced in January that she was not running for re-election this October, it surprised almost nobody who follows things political in Babel.  In a normal electoral district organization that should have kicked off an open effort by a committee of the association executive seeking qualified candidates for the office.

It should not be necessary but sometimes this search committee needs to be reminded that it is not their job to choose the candidate.  Their job is to encourage as many qualified candidates as possible to seek the nomination.  It is always desired that there be a very large, enthusiastic, exciting and contested event to give a good kick-off for the newly chosen candidate for the party.

But Whigs do not work that way.  They chose to announce that they had found a candidate.  They then closed ranks around the candidate and the rank and file of the party heard nothing more.  In a period when you would expect the candidate(s) to be making sure they meet the existing members and they might even sign up some new members, nothing happened.

All thoughts of a nomination meeting were put on hold when a federal election was called.  Federal Liberal party supporters are usually excellent prospects for support of Provincial Liberal hopefuls and the federal people were a bit surprised when they did not see the prospective provincial candidate during the federal campaign.  (In fact, the Whigs of Babel never did show up to help their federal cousins but we will save that story for another time.)

It was not until more than a month after the federal election that it was announced that the prospective candidate had been ill and would not be able to contest a nomination meeting.  Under normal circumstances, you would extend your sympathy to the prospective candidate—at least send a get-well card—and other prospects would have slightly less competition.  Life would go on.

But not in Babel.  The Whigs had not done their job.  There were no other prospects.  Despite attempts in the media to blame someone other than themselves, the Whigs had to admit the problem.  They now have to openly look for prospective candidates.  They have lost control.

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The Whigs are with us in Babel.

Monday, June 13th, 2011

It can be confusing.  There is supposed to be a Conservative Party, a Liberal Party, a New Democratic Party and the various also-rans in Ontario electoral districts.  Not in Babel.  Trying to understand Babel politics is difficult.  It is like stumbling on a village called Brigadoon that has been lost in the mists of the Scottish highlands for the past 100 years.  The people you find running Babel’s Liberal Party are Whigs.

The Whigs were a political party active in the Parliament of Westminster in London, England from the 1780s to the 1850s.  The Whigs had evolved from a loosely connected group called the Country party and were supported originally by the aristocracy.  The Whigs were opposed to absolute rule by the monarch and their main opposition were the Tories who had originally been known as the Court Party.  It was from these beginnings, that the Liberal and Conservative parties of Great Britain evolved.

But evolution has halted in Babel.  Time has stood still here in this town on the bay.  The descendants of the original five squires are still in control.  Little happens in Babel that misses this Family Compact’s scrutiny.  They care less of any difference between Whigs and Tories or between Liberals and Conservatives.  They use it as a sham for the hoi polloi to believe they have choices.

Babel’s Family Compact divides the Babel political scene into insiders and outsiders.  The insiders are those who are feted, honoured, accepted and elected.  The outsiders remain wanderers in the mists of time.

A left-wing Liberal or a Red Tory coming to Babel is quickly labelled an outsider.  Only unreformed Whigs are welcome in the local Liberal Party organization.  The Conservative organizations, when allowed to exist, welcome monarchists, right-to-life extremists and neo-cons. They are not broadminded, just desperate.

If Babel voters have difficulty understanding the difference between the Conservative and Liberal candidate in an election, Babel’s Family Compact has done its job.  The families feel that if they send someone to Ottawa or Toronto to vote for the party in power and these elected people bring back money to pave our streets, they have done their job.  They think of the Parliaments of Canada and Ontario as extensions of Babel city hall.

The Whigs of Babel only seem to cross pollinate with their Tory counterparts.   They compete for bragging rights, not for principles.

An outsider recently got into the workings of the federal Liberals and created a schism in the organization that came to a head before the recent federal election.  The organization had nominated a candidate, raised money and got a campaign group rolling.  This was all done without the Family Compact’s approval.  That left them with just the Tory candidate, as sad as he might be.  As none of this had Family Compact approval, the Whigs deserted the Liberal Party organization.  It left the real Liberals in Babel wondering what had happened.

What happened was that the provincial Liberal Party got all the Whigs and the real Liberals were working in the federal organization.  That should have worked in favour of the federals but they were left with no time to rebuild before the election.

And with a provincial election due in October, there are growing concerns that whomever the Family Compact picks as a Liberal candidate, there is little time for healing.

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Post election. Eating crow.

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

The proper way to eat crow is to take small bites, chew thoroughly and resist the urge to regurgitate.  You should only have to eat crow when you have really screwed up.  And we did.  Big time.  We made our assumptions about the election outcome two days after the national debates.  It was premature.

It was not that we did not recognize the problem in Quebec.  It was there for all to see.  Despite his forcefulness in the debates, Gilles Duceppe and his party were fading.  The Bloc had run its course with Quebec voters.  Change was necessary.  There was a determined youth movement that could not abide Harper, but bought the bad memories of their elders and Harper’s lies about the Liberals and saw the Bloc’s narrow focus as self defeating.  Only the NDP was left. What helped the NDP in Quebec is they are close in social policy to the provincial Parti Quebecois.

But that hardly explains Ontario.  Ontario voters got sandbagged.  The phenomenon in Quebec was played in the media as a national experience.  The media skewed the figures and said it was alright to vote NDP in Ontario because Harper would only win a minority.  The threat of the NDP helped drive the Conservative voters to the polls.  And the decimation of the Liberals carried into Ontario as the split of NDP-Liberal votes allowed the Conservative victories that Harper needed for a majority.

We lost our election bets.  In Babel, we lost with a very decent Liberal candidate.  Maybe he is too decent.  The NDP candidate came second in her second time around.  The Green candidate was a gentleman as always.  The Conservative is an incompetent who brings nothing to the table in Ottawa but another mindless vote for Harper.

As we chew on our crow, we contemplate four to five years of a Conservative majority.  God help us.  We are faced with four years of a vindictive and vengeful Stephen Harper.

Expect the Ottawa opposition parties to kiss their voter subsidies goodbye.

Suck it up seniors and forget those old age subsidy increases.

Just wait until Jim Flaherty does his Michael Harris number on Ottawa’s mandarins!

And you though our international reputation was slightly tarnished?  Just wait until Emperor Harper does his world tour.

Corporations can go ahead and pollute for fun and profit.

It’s the big corporations that get all the goodies now.

There is no help for small business.  There will be no help for innovators.

We can probably expect the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to become a fond memory.

Why should Harper support abortion anymore?

Forget same-sex marriage.  Forget peace-keeping.

Now the Conservatives can lie to the House of Commons with impunity.

Be quiet or they will start hanging people again.

And how will they fill all those jails they want to build?

O’Canada, who will stand on guard for you?


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