Posts Tagged ‘Barrie’

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

“The Long Goodbye.”

Friday, April 27th, 2018

Not to give it the suspense of mystery writer Raymond Chandler’s character Philip Marlowe, but Patrick Brown has taken far too long to say goodbye. It has been two months since he called a hasty news conference at Queen’s Park. Within the day, he was gone from being party leader and poster boy for the Conservative “Guarantee” booklet and a renewed leadership race was on.

To put it mildly, Patrick let the dogs out! We soon understood what his fellow MPPs at Queen’s Park thought of him. His seat in the Ontario Legislature was moved to an out-of-the-way corner. He was ejected from caucus. He was ostracized. Interim leader Vic Fideli did not want him running in the coming provincial election.

The only thing the caucus could not do was prevent him from running in the leadership race to succeed himself. He was in and then he was out without any sensible explanation.

What made no sense at all was the statements that CTV News released from the two women complaining about Brown. One told him she did not want to go to bed with him and he drove her home. The other did not like his penis in her mouth, so he did up his fly and drove her home. Luckily, one of them admitted later that she really was old enough at the time.

But what did these young ladies expect when he invited them up to his bedroom: to play with his electric trains? Patrick needs to pick up his casual companions at a better class of bars. He should also just be friends with his staff and play with ladies in his own age group.

What amazes us though is that Patrick never stops holding himself up for ridicule. Last week, he published a four-page, four-color insert in the local newspaper. It reads like a job application. It is a terrible waste of money but I have a suspicion that the taxpayers footed the bill. It is nothing but self-aggrandisement that takes you through his career at city hall, in parliament in Ottawa and at Queen’s Park. And that was just page one. The next three pages are presented as snapshots of his days in office. All I got out of it was that he has had three jobs, did little and accomplished less. And he has absolutely no idea as to what to do next.

We hope you find a new job soon Patrick.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Teaching our youth to hate.

Sunday, March 25th, 2018

Conservative MP John Brassard from Barrie-Innisfil has a problem. He thinks it is alright to teach our youth to hate and to work against our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The people in his electoral district might like to ask him about this before mistakenly re-electing him next year.

John Brassard used to be a fireman, not a lawyer nor any kind of expert on Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. He has a right to his opinion on the subject of abortions, as we all do. What we do not have is the right to confront women who might be seeking an abortion and to harass them. Neither should our youth be paid with government money to distribute hate literature in the form of purported pictures of aborted human embryos.

It seems John Brassard is objecting to the large number of faith-based organizations that are being refused funding under the Canada Summer Jobs program. As I understand it, the government wants an attestation from these organizations that they will respect the reproductive rights of Canadians as per Canadian law. If they are not willing to promise not to use government funds to work against the legal rights of Canadians, they will not be given government funds.

John Brassard says this is in conflict with the Canadian Charter rights of Rights and Freedoms. Mr. Brassard has it backwards. The charter protects his co-religionists in their right to their beliefs. The only thing they are being asked is for them to respect the rights of others.

He is adding further insult to this situation by suggesting that the attestation being asked for is in effect the Liberal party’s position. He should check the various votes in the House of Commons for years back and he will find our present reproductive rights in this country are there because of the votes of fair-minded people of all parties, who helped make Canada a more liveable and open society, where everyone’s rights are respected.

If Mr. Brassard was running next year in my electoral district, I would make it a personal project to help ensure that he and his mean-spirited political attitude are defeated.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

The redemption of Patrick Brown?

Monday, March 19th, 2018

How do you like those phone calls you get from automated polling systems? The worst of them are the ones that want you to press one if you intend to vote conservative and two if liberal. I always have lots of fun with them by pressing numbers at random.

But I had to pause and think about a series of those calls last week. After two calls on subsequent evenings, I thought it might be the local mayor testing the waters for his political future. I sent him an e-mail kidding him about the surveys and suggesting that his party needs him at Queen’s Park.

But when the third automated polling call came that evening, I had an even better idea. What if it is former conservative leader Patrick Brown checking out his options? He has been told that he is not getting a pass from the conservatives to run for them in my electoral district of Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte. The only path for redemption left for him would be the mayor’s chair in Barrie.

He could hardly come back as a councillor. That was where he started 14 years ago. He did not seem to like practicing law or whatever he was doing after finally passing bar admission. He only stayed a councillor until, on a second try, he finally won a federal seat for the conservatives.

The mayoralty could be the ideal route back. He can hardly disprove somehow that he prefers younger girls. From now on he should solemnly promise to check their driver’s licences before inviting any of them to his Shanty Bay home to admire his hockey memorabilia.

And he never has been mayor of Barrie. The job pays well. It is an easy job. You get your picture in the local media all the time. You get to cut a lot of ribbons and greet visiting dignitaries. It is not as though you are expected to really run things. The toughest part of the job is getting the ward councillors to maintain some decorum at open council meetings.

And it would free up the incumbent mayor to do something useful. Having a guy who graduated from the London School of Economics worrying about the high householder taxes in Barrie is a terrible waste of talent. The city staff will continue making all the decisions anyway. The mayor is just for show.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

The indignities of the indigenous?

Sunday, March 4th, 2018

It is important that we respect Canada’s aboriginal peoples but calling them ‘indigenous’ is basically stupid. Your Oxford dictionary will tell you that ‘indigenous’ means ‘produced naturally in a region.’ Canada’s aboriginal peoples have roots in Asia and were nomadic to the point of their early ancestors crossing ice bridges to North America.

All this comment is because of the outrageous costs to Barrie taxpayers inflicted by a group calling themselves the Ontario Coalition of Indigenous Peoples. This is a spurious action and it might be fair to ask why the city’s lawyers have not been able to get the action dismissed.

The fiasco started just 200 to 300 years ago when nomadic Indian tribes would camp during the summer months at the south-west corner of what became known as Kempenfelt Bay. Later the area became Allandale Village and even later was absorbed into the City of Barrie.

The Indians would camp, fish and smoke some of their catch and enjoy the bounty of the area for a couple months maybe. During that time, the aboriginal people would give birth, live and die. Decisions about where to bury granny were made arbitrarily as specified burial grounds were for civilization. And yes, archeologists might naturally find some of granny’s bones in the area.

But those few bones hardly justify the waste of millions of dollars in development in this part of Barrie. There is no formal cemetery or burial ground under the empty and unused Allandale train station—that was painstakingly restored at outrageous cost by a spendthrift city council.

Barrie does not even use the fenced off train station as a train station. It regularly brings GO trains and busses into the area but the sale of tickets is automated. There is nobody but other travellers to provide information. There are no waiting rooms and no washrooms. It is probably the most ill-equipped train station in Ontario. They cannot even dig a hole for a privy!

But this person who works for the Ontario Association of Indigenous (sic) Peoples is preparing to do a Stage 4 archeological assessment (under the restored train station) this coming summer. It is obvious that even he does not really believe that this further digging will produce very much. You can almost see him smirking when demanding that Barrie City Council give the entire site to his organization. I somehow wonder if we would ever be quite that generous?

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

First: Forget the pollsters.

Wednesday, February 28th, 2018

If there was one piece of information that helps us handle the current political situation in Ontario, it is the knowledge that the pollsters cannot cope with turmoil. Even if some of your best friends forever are pollsters, there are times when their forecasts must be ignored. It is in this period before an election that they become skittish and excited and their figures become wildly erratic.

Add to that the ongoing self-immolation of the pollsters’ preference-for-change party and they are beside themselves on their therapist’s couch.

And, admittedly, the Ontario conservatives have created a conundrum. Nobody expected the potential ruling party to self-destruct five months before the provincial election. Their attempt at changing leaders has been sloppy.

The Romans at least killed Julius Caesar. They did not leave him writhing and twisting in the winds of winter for all to see and mock.

And conservative guru Jaime Watt admits that the Albany Club decision to let Patrick Brown run to succeed himself was the only right decision. And yet, he then criticizes Brown for doing it!

We can all understand that Brown willfully destroyed himself in the attempt to fight off the challengers. Watt even gave credence to the piling on of specious charges seeking to further defame the fallen conservative leader.

But then Watt supplied his own scenario to further the possible redemption of Brown. He told us that Brown is ‘well liked’ in Barrie. As someone who lives in the middle of what was to be Brown’s new electoral district, I can factually advise you that there are also many people who despise Mr. Brown who will be sure to vote here.

To tell us that Brown’s support by conservative Paul Godfrey’s National Post and social media channels were helpful, you can only consider the suggestion as a weak attempt at political humour.

We realize that Brown did nothing wrong (according to CTV News) other than demonstrate his terrible lack of common sense, his inability to lead, his unattractiveness for women, his emotional state and his inability to control himself. Regret cannot cure those problems. He should have been out of politics many years ago. Let us hope we will not have Patrick Brown to kick around any more.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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