Posts Tagged ‘Barrie’

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

“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.

-30-

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.

-30-

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.

-30-

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?

-30-

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.

-30-

Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

The Conservative Cauldron Continues.

Tuesday, February 27th, 2018

‘Tis the time of the witches. Their cauldron continues to boil and bubble. They use paddles to stir their daily trouble. Their spirit has again cursed Barrie’s Patrick Brown. Brown is down, Down for the count? We frown.

Did somebody do the mathematics? Did the ethics commissioner ask the wrong question? Are the ‘enquiring minds’ of the Ontario provincial police making enquiries? Did the loose cannon, Randy Hillier MPP accidently hit a target? Among the tears of Barrie voters, there is many a smile this morning.

But all bets are off. Recomputing the Tory race on a daily basis is an impossible task. A morning line is simply that. It hardly predicts the future. I remember one time doping out the Breeders Stakes and finding the perfect horse. That horse was going to make me rich. It went eagerly into the gate and took off in the pack. It showed great form for about 20 metres and then dropped dead. My fortune was hauled off the track in a truck.

We knew that Brown was a loser. We knew that he could beat Tanya Granic Allen. That was to be his contribution. There was a coin toss over Brown and Ford. We figured that more Tories were mad at the elites than gave a damn about Brown and gave the edge to Ford.

But you can never trust a preferential ballot. How do you think the federal Conservatives ended up with ‘Chuckles’ Scheer? And what helped make it happen was a preferential ballot. I have always maintained that the preferential ballot is a way for losers to be the choosers. And they keep on showing that I am right.

Mind you, giving every electoral district the same weight in the voting is also lunacy. Electoral districts are not created equal. The original concept of a riding was the distance a man on horse could travel in one day. It had little to do with the number of voters.

It is like the foolishly corrupted system of the electoral college in the United States. There were three million more Americans who wanted Clinton as president but the electoral college Trumped them.

The only good news for the Ontario Tories is that Patrick Brown will not be there to kick around. This is a race for the distaff.

-30-

Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Terminating the Tory Turmoil.

Thursday, February 22nd, 2018

Has peace been restored? Has the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario come back to its senses?

There was a wonderful shot on Global Television last night of a lone television reporter standing vigil on King Street in front of the Albany Club in Toronto. The sheen of that heavy wooden door has guarded the club and conservative secrets for some 125 years. It is from this club that all decisions of the Ontario Conservatives are believed to be made.

And it was from the Albany Club that we found out that Patrick Brown could run to replace himself as conservative leader. Mind you, why not? It is obvious to any savvy politico that Patrick Brown cannot win.

The situation was out of control. Temporary caucus leader Vic Fedeli had willfully ejected Patrick Brown from the conservative caucus at Queen’s Park on the flimsiest of grounds. He did not want Brown to run in Barrie–Springwater—Oro-Medonte. He said he had not been vetted!

The gal who might be the wicked witch of the north who is running for leader on behalf of the religious conservatives: nobody bothered to vet her!

And did anyone think to vet Doug Ford? That guy never read the rules for candidates for the leadership and says he is running against those Albany Club elites.

But the Tory caucus’ loose cannon, Randy Hillier, has jumped into the various arguments with his irrational charges. Many thought Randy was going to run for the Ontario Landowners’ new political party.

And who is surprised that Patrick Brown has bought himself a little get-away place in Shanty Bay (where Barrie’s rich live) for just $2.3 million? (It might cost $8 million in Toronto.)

Brown can come up with a $600,000 down payment on that shanty but it takes him four weeks to find a woman who will tell the media she is his girl friend and that he is a swell guy. Those of us in Barrie who know Brown by sight have never seen him with the same woman for more than ten minutes. They leave.

You do have to wonder at the reputed price offered for Brown’s share of Hooligans bar. That $375,000 offer seems a little excessive but then I have no idea what 200,000 Aeroplan miles are worth. All I know is that after close to a decade going back and forth to Ottawa and all those trips the taxpayers paid to India, he probably has lots of Aeroplan miles to redeem.

-30-

Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Out of the limelight for Patrick Brown.

Thursday, February 15th, 2018

Have you heard that old politicos just fade away? Younger ones are noisier. For example, take Barrie’s favourite son, Patrick Brown. If you hitch your horse in front of any of the many saloons on Barrie’s main street, you are welcome inside but you best not say too loudly that Patrick Brown is a putz. There is some of misplaced loyalty here about.

But, Patrick Brown needs to look for a new way to make a living. You have to realize that a guy like Brown has nowhere near the savior faire of TV anchor Steve Paikin. There are venturesome ladies who might like to cut a notch in their bedpost for a TV personality such as Paikin. And if he really did invite (in a gentlemanly manner, no doubt) publicity-hungry Sarah Thomson to enjoy some casual sex with him, she should have been flattered. All she needed to say was a polite ’yes, please’ or ‘no, thank you.’

Brown is an entirely different matter. This is a guy who appears to be awkward and immature with women. He is no ‘playboy.’ No doubt he could possibly achieve some success with understanding women in their 30s. Yet, he goes after the much younger who are initially attracted to his political position but then find he has nothing of interest to talk about.

There is certainly nothing for those young ladies to complain about to CTV. If they were invited to Brown’s home after drinking too much and accepted, did they think he was looking forward to a spritely game of Monopoly? In both cases, they said they lost interest and asked to be taken home. He did. What is the problem? Is CTV complaining about his bad judgement or bad politics?

Brown ended up with three problems. First he was too upset to listen to his staff. He was paying them for advice and he was stupid not to listen to them. Being upset on camera is not a sympathetic position. It is too much like regretting being caught.

The second problem for Brown was that in his absence from Queen’s Park, the knives came out. Conservative MPPs could now say what they really thought of Brown.  They do not like him.

The third problem is that he will never get elected in Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte, unless the Liberals run someone as immature against him.

-30-

Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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