Posts Tagged ‘Barrie’

They’re not your father’s conservatives.

Wednesday, September 25th, 2019

What happened to the red Tories? Is the decency of Ontario’s once premier Bill Davis a memory of the past? Whatever happened to the conservatives with whom I could share a joke? I used to like many of these people. They worked hard for charities. They were good neighbours. They would listen to your liberal proposals. They were honourable and respected people.

At all levels of government today, the conservatives are disappointing us. The saddest are on municipal councils, awaiting their opportunity to move up the ladder. In my Ontario riding of Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte, we have another empty suit from city council wanting to move up and also do nothing in Ottawa but vote the party line.

I was laughing the other day at his lame offer to voters to restore the Lake Simcoe environmental clean-up program. It seems that he blames the liberals for ending the program. Actually, the program ended when the conservatives said that it would end. The job was as complete as it would get. The only serious phosphate pollution left that is destroying Lake Simcoe is either airborne or washed in from farmers’ fields. I would love to see the first conservative politician in Ontario who tries to do something about that.

Maybe, he should talk to his friend premier Doug Ford about that problem.

But what really gets me about the promises, that Andrew Scheer is running around the country making, are the boutique style cuts that are really only for his rich friends. These are promises such as money for start-up businesses, or if you spend money for your kids’ sports, fitness programs or registered education savings, or travel to work by public transit or commuter trains or want your parental benefits tax free. These are ideas launched by the Harper conservatives that almost require you to have very thorough tax accountants doing your taxes. If these programs ever come into existence again, they will make a lie of the ability of the average Joe and Josephine being able to do their own taxes.

Many people have a hard time separating the Ontario conservatives at Queen’s Park from the Stephen Harper style conservatives in Ottawa. The lack of decency, the mean-spirited approach does not suggest the type of people we want running this country.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Our MPP is heard from.

Tuesday, September 10th, 2019

It seems that the member of the Ontario legislature for Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte does visit Barrie occasionally, usually while on his way to or from his home up in Severn Township. Recently, Doug Downey M.P.P. even held a news conference in Barrie to discuss the problem of what he calls ‘Catch and Release.’ It might be sporting for fishermen but causes ongoing problems for our police in smaller cities such as Barrie.

In Barrie, the courts are located on the edge of downtown, convenient for people to return to the scene of their crime and repeating it. The police tend to blame the problem on the supreme court that has ruled that a person charged with multiple crimes still has to be treated as guiltless until convicted of something.

The basic problem is that the politicians starve the courts, refusing to expand them or to appoint more judges and then blame the judges for not processing criminal cases fast enough.

As attorney general of Ontario, Downey has to take responsibility for the problem. He expressed the problem quite succinctly in the news conference when he said that keeping costs under control is also important to his government.

What is becoming clear to most Ontario residents is that this current provincial government places too much emphasis on controlling costs and very little in doing the jobs that Ontario taxpayers are funding.

In fact, this government cuts so many costs that it creates more serious problems than we had in the first place. They constantly put their ideology ahead of doing a good job.

To make matters worse, we have a premier who has no clue as to how to run the province. He blustered his way through an election campaign against a government that had run out of gas. We are paying for the consequences.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Kindergarten for conservative candidates.

Wednesday, June 12th, 2019

There is nothing new about politicians who learn their craft while climbing the ladder of politics. Many make a start on school board, get to know the people of their area and wait for the right time to move up to municipal councillor. Municipal council, in turn, can become the incubator popping out fresh young faces to be your next member of the legislative assembly or member of parliament.

While politicians of all flavours can be found on this path, it is most common in Ontario to find they are paid up members of the conservative party. This is where they find their mentors, their funding sources and support for the campaigns to come. No city beats Barrie in this conservatism of its city council.

It was why after being in the city for only a few years, I ran the campaign ground game for a new mayor. He ran against two well-known conservatives and a group of also-rans. He is now on his third term as mayor.

While I like to think that Mayor Jeff Lehman does what he can with a council that wants to defer any contentious issues until they are told what position to take, this city council is not progressive. We have a burgeoning, successful city here despite a council of small city minds. The truth is, the city is run by its senior staff and people learn you best not interfere.

Recently a brash young councillor became annoyed with two former city council members who are now the sitting members of parliament. They are both about what you would expect in a city that allowed the rise of Patrick Brown, from councillor to MP, to leader of the Ontario conservatives. The councillor was angry about white-supremacists joining in on Andrew Scheer’s remarks to some westerners castigating prime minister Trudeau for not building them a pipeline fast enough.

It was hardly a municipal issue and the councillor was out of line using his position to demand an apology to Canadians by the conservatives.

But it was also hardly an issue for council’s ethics commissioner. Nor was it worthy of a threatened law suit from the two MPs.

Mind you, I think I should drop in on council meetings more often. It is obviously becoming more fun.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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