Posts Tagged ‘Barrie’

This just in: Nuttall’s out.

Thursday, March 28th, 2019

If there was ever an individual in the wrong place at the wrong time, it was Alex Nuttall, the M.P. for our electoral district of Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte. Alex was Patrick Brown’s hand-picked successor on Barrie city council and subsequently in the back benches in Ottawa. On a recount of ballots, in 2015, Nuttall won by a skinny 86 votes, against an inept campaign by the local liberals.

Oddly enough, the various times I saw Alex Nuttall in the riding, during that campaign and for the recount afterward, he seemed angry. That was very different from when he was on city council where he tended to mumble and bumble along. He never did seem to do much in either job.

He gave the standard answers when he announced his leaving federal politics at Barrie city council last Monday. It seems, like a wounded animal, he was returning to a place of comfort to lick his wounds. He used the stock excuse that he was leaving to spend time with his young family. I am guessing that it will be a while before we find out the real reason.

But it is unlikely we have seen the last of Alex. He has been receiving an MP’s salary for these past four years and that is more than he might have ever been making before. It will be interesting to see what he picks when he has to go back to earning a living in October.

He seems to have a comfort factor in the financial businesses such as banking and mortgages but few if any of these jobs would have a starting salary as high as we pay our parliamentarians.

I expect this news will get our sleepy local federal liberal party organization out to see if anyone can see their shadow. We need a live liberal candidate in Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte folks.

-30-

Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Trudeau trashes his flight of fancy.

Tuesday, March 26th, 2019

It was nine years ago that I met Justin Trudeau. Working through liberal party friends in Ottawa, I had invited him to a party fund-raising dinner in Barrie. While we raised enough to get the party out of debt in Barrie, the conversation I had at the time with Justin was disquieting. This is a man who can easily turn himself on and off.

And he does not appear to be a guy who likes heavy thinking. He prefers the route of the selfies and the simple keywords. He had a well-practiced warm and fuzzy stock liberal-sounding speech that evening in Barrie. It lacked a single memorable word. It also caused me to miss some of the bad habits he now shows in his extemporaneous speaking.

It seems most pundits agree now that Justin is more like his mother than his father. If he could just live with some wiser advisors in the PMO, he would sail through. His buddy Gerry Butts was too much like him and that was a deadly combination. They created a mutual admiration society that got them nowhere.

There is no question that the PMO needs a couple people over 50 and, preferably, with some experience in crisis management. It is really too bad that Trudeau had so little experience in the House of Commons before he became prime minister. The opposition will eventually stop bringing up a subject if you get everyone laughing at it.

Trudeau needs to turn on his ‘man with a mission’ persona for the coming election and he can hardly do that if the SNC-Lavalin mess keeps sucking the oxygen out of the political air. He needs to get together with the liberals from the justice committee and ask them nicely to stop blocking things at that level. And do not send a flunky to tell them or you can count on it not coming out right.

In a few months, Justin needs to be on the barbeque circuit talking about Canada’s future and not boring subjects like Quebec engineering firms. He needs to define the dialogue, and ignore the opposition.

-30-

Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

A Feisty Fedeli files on Brown.

Sunday, February 3rd, 2019

If I had ever written a proper review of Patrick Brown’s tell-all book on his political take down, I would have paid far more attention to his relationships with the Tory caucus at Queen’s Park and particularly Vic Fedeli the MPP from North Bay. Fedeli, now Doug Ford’s finance minister, is suing Brown and his publisher for exactly the same $8 million that Brown is suing Bell Media’s CTV News.

It was hardly a review of Brown’s supposedly tell-all book that I wrote at the end of December. My only surprise on the comments I made was the immediate response from his publisher. While you would expect a publisher to be defensive about what he decides to publish, Dean Baxendale of Optimum Publishing appeared admiring. I admitted openly that I had only read half the book before giving up. The truth was that, in my humble opinion, it was badly written, poorly edited and the inside pages lacked decent design. When the publisher said that I had missed the essence of the book, it did not surprise me. It was hard to find any other reason for the book than to make some quick cash.

What surprised me was that I had more of a back and forth dialogue with his publisher than I had ever had with Patrick Brown over the 12 years that we both lived in Barrie. We have been at many of the same meetings over those years in Barrie and in Ottawa.

But now it is obvious that Vic Fedeli does not like Patrick’s writing either. To suggest that a gentleman such as Fideli did something untoward such as “workplace sexual harassment” would cause him some consternation. Insults are one thing but claims of impropriety are not acceptable. As Mr. Brown has found himself, such claims cause law suits and paying lots and lots to lawyers.

The statement of claim is reported to have said that Mr. Fedeli was described in the book as having “a holier-than-thou attitude and being a suck-up.” This was along with being described as “toxic, power-hungry, anti-democratic and a political opportunist.” While comments such as this about politicians are rarely cause for law suits, Mr. Brown would be well advised to restrain himself from childish name calling.

In my last e-mail from Brown’s publisher, he advised me that, in regards to Mr. Brown’s book, it will “long be studied after you and I are dead.” That thought really chokes me up.

-30-

Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Parsing the political petulance.

Sunday, January 20th, 2019

Had an opportunity the other day to measure the mood of local liberals after the humiliation of last June’s provincial election. It was the annual meeting of the provincial party for Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte in central Ontario. All you had to do was mention premier Doug Ford and eyes rolled and teeth gnashed.

This electoral district was a rollercoaster of possibilities from the confused conservative events of January 2018 through to a very disappointing election day. We started with Ontario conservative leader Patrick Brown as the known candidate to tackle and ended up losing the electoral district to a parachute candidate, a carpetbagger appointed by Doug Ford.

It was not the largest turnout I had seen at an annual meeting for the liberal party in the area. It was a predominantly male group and the average age had to be close to 50. There was a definite lack of younger liberals. This group has its work cut out for it.

But the numbers were better than expected. The demographics were of concern but it was an unfamiliar location for the meeting and the wind chill outside was down to about -16 C.

And, we lost all three of our invited speakers. They were three of our seven MPPs from Queen’s Park who are testing their possibilities for a run at the party leadership—and all from Toronto. Two begged off with colds and the third was a no-show. (More about them another time.)

Once the business of electoral district elections was out of the way, the chair (a former MPP himself) asked for an open discussion of why the liberals lost so badly last June. He introduced the theme himself: anger.

There was general agreement on the anger. Where the disagreement emerged was the nature of that anger. Some thought it was just that the liberal government had run out of gas. Some thought it was Premier Wynne herself—she certainly came across as arrogant.

What worried me was those who thought the liberals had veered too far to the left and needed to come back to a more middle ground.

Personally, I think it is the reverse. Wynne is really one of those liberal socially and financially conservative liberals who tend to confuse the voters. And she made her own mistakes. The Sudbury candidate fixing fiasco was never forgiven. And the selling off of part of Hydro One was seen as bad advice, badly executed. The rest was just chatter.

-30-

Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

To Brampton Town with Brown.

Wednesday, December 26th, 2018

Barrie’s sorry excuse for a newspaper, the weekly Advance, has announced that Brampton mayor Patrick Brown is its newsmaker of the year. Coincidently the Barrie library had a copy of Brown’s tell-all book Take Down: The attempted political assassination of Patrick Brown—by none other than Patrick Brown himself. It was my intent to spend some time this week reading it.

It is with some regret that I report that Mr. Brown appears to have had no ghost writer, nor helpful editor beyond the spell check of his computer. You can only stomach so much of a politician’s self pity and whining. I gave up after about 150 pages and skimmed the rest.

The best part of the book is the cover—credited to a Mathew Flute. They should have ripped up the inside story. If Patrick Brown thinks this book is going to inform, convince, proselytize or draw any sympathy, he is deluding himself.

What is deeply concerning is that in 50 years of writing about politics, I would never refer to a politician as “bat-shit crazy.” If Mr. Brown holds anything back in the book, it is modesty and self-control.

One reason to read the book was to see if there were any clues as to the perpetrators of the CTV Television Network’s allegations. All it seems to indicate is how far that once esteemed network has gone down hill with Bell Canada in control. Patrick might have thought he had liberal enemies but he has far more vicious enemies in the conservative party. And a word of advice to him from a liberal is that there are much stronger connections between CTV News and certain well-known conservatives than any liberals.

The most serious errors in this entire fiasco were those by Brown himself. He is a politician who flies in the directions the wind takes him. He is considered a good retail politician because he knows and understand what needs to be done and has the determination to do it. God forbid he should ever have to work for a living.

But watching him at that news conference during the evening of January 25, 2018, I felt sorry for him. Sure, I disliked him as a person and as a politician, but he did not deserve this.

On bad advice, badly prepared, an emotional Patrick Brown read a bad speech and committed political suicide.

-30-

Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Follow the money to Brampton Brown.

Wednesday, October 24th, 2018

He used to be Barrie Brown. His best friend, Toronto lawyer Walied Soliman describes him in the Toronto Star as the “hardest working person, I have ever met.” Those of us who have watched Brown manipulate his way through politics over the years are less complimentary. This is not the kind of politician you should trust.

The main concern about Patrick Brown’s career in politics is where the money comes from. It took him two tries to latch onto the Harper bandwagon in 2006, dump his job as a city councillor in Barrie and get elected as the member of parliament for Barrie and area.

He became known as a retail politician. He did what he was told in Ottawa and worked at getting in solid in Barrie. He used local charities as his publicity base and never got involved in political controversy. Studying his financial reports in elections, I found he was creative but there was nothing major to complain about. The main concern was that it was such a waste of time sending him to Ottawa.

But the plan was emerging. His friend Jason Kenney, then minister of ethnic support for prime minister Stephen Harper, suggested that Brown spend some effort getting to know the people from the Indian Sub-Continent. It was the Canadian taxpayers who paid for Patrick Brown’s trips to India. All he had to do was stay out of all the ethnic troubles of that part of the world.

What it enabled Brown to do was build up a large base of support and knowledge of those groups in Canada. That is why his first office to capture the Ontario conservative leadership was in Brampton. With more than 260,000 South Asian immigrants and descendants in Brampton, they represented 44 per cent of the total population.

And that was when we started to seriously question where the money was from? You hardly go over night from raising $100,000 for a federal election campaign to raising over a million for the provincial leadership. His South Asian organizers paid the memberships of close to 40,000 people across Ontario. Where did that money come from?

And where did the money come from at the time for Patrick Brown to acquire a mansion out in Shanty Bay? This is not a guy known for saving his nickels.

And skipping over the problems of January 2018, where did the money come from for a failed attempt to take over as chair of Peel Region? That is not a small area to put up signs.

And finally, where did the money come from for that very expensive campaign in the City of Brampton?

Enquiring minds want to know.

-30-

Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Climate Action hits a wall in Ontario.

Wednesday, September 26th, 2018

To our chagrin and horror the Province of Ontario has turned its back on climate action. In a to-the-point report, environmental commissioner Dianne Saxe made her report to the legislature at Queen’s Park on Tuesday morning. We hear that nobody from the conservative caucus attended.

In the afternoon, the environmental commissioner went to Barrie, in the heart of conservative Ontario and gave her report to a full house. Their provincial government might not care but the people do.

In an open plea to the citizens, the commissioner talked of the environmental challenge facing the province and the ability of citizens to take action. “At a time when Ontario has a huge climate challenge, we are no longer able to have a safe, predictable climate.”

Saxe called on citizens to work around the government to meet the challenge. At a time when the government casts aspersions on the climate challenge, it is business, municipalities, citizens groups, universities that can give direction and do more.

The report makes it clear that climate disruption is already affecting Ontario and there is no doubt of its impact. The report states flatly that “what used to be normal weather is gone.”

The report states that when the government will not do its job, business and citizens have to step forward. This is despite the essential roles that government can play.

Saxe was very positive about the role government has played in Ontario over the past 15 years. She feels that Ontario can only achieve emission reductions with a combination of making polluters pay, developing new solutions and regulating polluters.

The commissioner was critical of the lack of clarity in the cap and trade system of the previous government but felt that it was working. She feels that by dispensing with cap and trade, the current government has not given it time to work and laid itself open to expense for the taxpayers.

She feels that the current government needs to make a commitment, a plan and take action that can continue to be improved. At least the Barrie audience was with her.

-30-

Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

The Patrick Brown legacy lives on.

Tuesday, July 31st, 2018

It is like a bad smell that does not go away. There was some relief in Barrie during the period when Patrick Brown was living the high life in Toronto as leader of the Ontario conservatives. It was the complaints by two young, unidentified Barrie ladies that caused him to resign as conservative leader. And it was the vindictiveness of fellow conservative MPPs that convinced him not to run to replace himself as leader or to contest the Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte provincial electoral district as a conservative.

But like a bad penny, Patrick Brown keeps showing up—recently as a home owner in Mississauga—then as a candidate for Peel Region chair—and then, just as suddenly—candidate for mayor of Brampton.

Patrick Brown of Barrie is a political conniver. Some people think he is a pretty good ‘retail politician’ in the sense that he knows all the angles to work on voters. Yet he abuses those angles. He is slippery and has little respect for truth. He is only in it for himself.

Brown spent years in Ottawa and never made a contribution to his party policy or on behalf of his constituents. On free votes he voted against women’s rights and to re-open abortion arguments.

The old political term for Brown is “carpetbagger.” He little cares for the needs of Peel region voters but he figured to make around $200,000 per year in the newly elected role as regional chair. He took a quick look around when premier Ford slammed close that opportunity and selected mayor Linda Jeffrey of Brampton as the only potential opportunity. He has no personal connection with Brampton but figures, in the current times, his being a conservative and Jeffery being a former provincial liberal cabinet minister gives him a chance at winning. He knew better than to go after Bonnie Crombie in Mississauga (where he now lives) who has done a good job replacing a retired Hazel McCallion.

What reminded me of this was Brown’s acolyte, Alex Nutall MP, who is very proud of taking over Brown’s role at Hockey Night in Barrie this year. I think Royal Victoria Hospital and the other charities getting involved should get a forensic audit of this event in recent years. They might not know the kind of legacy to which they have tied themselves.

-30-

Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

In defence of local media.

Friday, May 18th, 2018

It came as a surprise the other evening to learn that for the past two years, NDP activist Gerry Caplan has also been a resident of Barrie, Ontario. He had been invited to participate on a panel of mourners for the late, and frankly unlamented, Barrie Examiner newspaper. By the time Torstar wrote fini on the Examiner saga, it had been through more hands than a Dunlop Street hooker on a busy night.

I congratulated Dr. Caplan later for bringing a bit of humour to the discussion. I was less than pleased with the performance of the moderator Robyn Doolittle, a working journalist from the Toronto Globe and Mail. She offered clear evidence that she had no idea of what a community might be or how you hold it together.

The other two panelists were walking wounded from the demise of the late community newspapers in Barrie and Orillia. One was the former editor from the venerable Orillia Packet and Times and is obviously struggling with his new career as a reporter for an Internet-only newspaper.

As a one-time managing editor, I could have easily told them the realities of Torstar killing the Examiner and keeping its weekly grocery flyer wrap called the Barrie Advance. The editorial content of the Advance is only there as a form of bilge balancing but it is the only print media in a city of over 140,000.

Regrettably Barrie is not a community in itself. As a Barrie matron explained to us when we came here, you have to have three generations in a local cemetery before you can say you are from Barrie. It is a city of 30,000 with 110,000 interlopers who just live here. It is the fastest growing city in Canada. City council tries to please the 30,000 real Barriites and ignores the rest of us.

I tend to look at Barrie as a challenge in communication. As a former political activist, I look at the problem of reaching people in two electoral districts that split the city in half and add rigidly conservative rural areas to each half. The federal conservatives gerrymandered it that way to keep the area voting conservative. The local liberals had no clue they were being shafted.

While I found the panel discussion interesting, the lack of understanding of how to pull the community together was the panel’s problem. Nothing accomplished; we went home.

-30-

Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Picking politicians.

Monday, May 7th, 2018

We now have our main candidates here in Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte. No, nothing exciting. The local liberals had an acclamation. Only one candidate came forward. The conservatives appointed their candidate when Doug Ford got impatient. So much for democracy in the electoral district!

Ford appointed a loser. He is a former Orillia councillor who ran against Jill Dunlop for the Simcoe North nomination. Since he lost to Dunlop, Doug Ford appointed him to run in Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte as a consolation prize. His name is Doug Downey and he tells people that he sees it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity—to lose twice in the same election?

Downey is a lawyer and the go-to guy in Severn Township for the conservative party. He has held several political appointments in the Severn Township area.

Downey almost had a rerun of his contest with Jill Dunlop when former MPP Garfield Dunlop filed for nomination papers in Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte. The senior Dunlop said his bid for the nomination was ignored by the party hierarchy because of his close relationship with former leader and former candidate Patrick Brown. Dunlop said his application was not turned down, it was just ignored.

Without Patrick Brown and a parachuted candidate from outside the electoral district, this will be a much tighter race than was expected this time around. While the rural townships of Springwater and the western half of Oro-Medonte are predominantly conservative, the north half of Barrie has been known to vote liberal. The final recount in the last federal election in the same area was a conservative win by just 86 votes. A better organized and better run liberal campaign in this election could make all the difference.

When the party headquarters sees an electoral district that is that close, they will make sure the leader’s tour makes several calls in the area. In addition, there will be extra attention given to requests from the local campaign.

Not having heard from the liberal candidate yet, I will reserve judgement.

-30-

Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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