Posts Tagged ‘Christine Elliott’

Bankrupt Ontario.

Monday, May 13th, 2019

You had no idea that Ontario was bankrupt, did you? We find that conservatives seem to have a very different definition of bankrupt than most bankers and economists. The other day Ontario’s deputy premier and health minister, Christine Elliott was on Global TV’s Focus Ontario, being interviewed by news anchor, Alan Carter. She told him that they have to cut spending on the sick and poor because Ontario was left bankrupt by the last regime.

One of Alan Carter’s weaknesses as an interviewer is that he has his own opinions and is not reluctant to express them. In this case, he was incredulous. He questioned the minister on her statement. He wanted to know on what basis could the province be considered bankrupt. He even asked the widow of a former federal finance minister how bad she considered the debt to provincial gross domestic product (GDP) to be that caused the supposed bankruptcy.

The interview did not end well.

Saying that the former government mishandled the public funds, has become a political mantra in Canada and the provinces for conservatives. The conservatives blanche at any and all deficits and always promise to balance the budget sooner than those other guys.

But what they are reluctant to do is to raise taxes for the wealthy. They are much happier making things more expensive for the middle class. And they consider poor people as something of a bother.

What the conservatives are best at is nickel-diming the public. They download welfare costs to the municipalities. They cut funding to our libraries. They tighten the rules for provincial welfare programs. They will increase fares for GO trains and buses. They are cutting down on the funding for school teachers and eliminating the jobs of teaching assistants. They are increasing the costs for the insufficient number of child care spaces for working parents. And the public suffers from the pains of a thousand cuts.

Christine Elliott is a very capable woman but she will let us down on behalf of this careless, uncaring conservative government.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

How great is it going to be?

Sunday, March 3rd, 2019

Do you really want to trust a politician who insists on telling you how great it is going to be? When the Ontario government announced its health care reforms this week, everyone was left wondering just how they were going to accomplish these great results. That was all we got, no details, just the objective.

Ontario was promised a new super agency called Ontario Health and other than the superlatives, that is about what there is to know about it. Many years ago, we had a super agency and it was called the Ontario Ministry of Health. It was also a super agency. It found though that it needed to keep creating other agencies to do the things that the ministry did not have the people, nor the expertise to do. It even created what were called Local Health Integration Networks (LHIN) to make the service more assessible. Now the LHINs are being absorbed into the super agency—probably because they spend too much.

Frankly, the Ontario government might have been smarter if it had delayed the announcement until it knew better what it was doing. I expect there would be a long wait for that.

What is particularly disappointing in all of this B.S. being washed through the corridors of Queen’s Park is the role of super MPP Christine Elliott. As minister of health, hers is not an enviable position. She has been handed her talking points about this new super agency and come hell or high water, she is going to read them through.

Every time reporters ask her about some problem in health care, she goes into a lengthy discussion of how bad the situation is now and the promise that the Tories are going to fix it. She has absolutely no idea how it will be fixed but, according to Ms. Elliott, you can be sure that the Tories will fix it.

And at the same time, the Tories are going to save money. Everything will be paid for with money saved by the wily Tories.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

When compromise is the problem.

Saturday, February 23rd, 2019

Nobody should celebrate too soon about the compromise solution to paying Ontario’s doctors. After more than four years of arguments, back-stabbing and threats, nobody is particularly happy. The three-member arbitration board did not have to find the money, so they could be generous. And they were. The doctors got what they wanted and they can go back to fighting among themselves for the spoils.

But why does it feel like there is still another shoe to drop?

Oh yah, I really do not think that Dougie and the gang at Queen’s Park are going to take this solution lying down. They are hardly about to bleed another few billions into the doctors’ pockets. Do the math for yourself. There are some 23,000 doctors in Ontario set to making a rather generous $12 billion plus per year—requiring almost a quarter of our health care costs.

And you were wondering why Dougie and the gang were putting the screws to families with autistic children? These purported politicians who told you that they were going to save the taxpayers money have been bleeding money since getting into office after that rout of the liberals. Dougie puts the president of partially-public Hydro One on a strict diet and yet pays his friends more than they ask for. And the government is now faced with open-ended payment for the doctors.

We will probably hear from the health minister soon that a new bill is coming to put a cap on doctors’ earnings. That could start another round of arguments with the doctors. And to complicate the situation further, it could cause more rifts between the specialists and the general practitioners. It would almost be a blessing to see the Ontario Medical Association become something of an amoeba and start splitting into multiple versions of itself.

And the politicians thought just one OMA was a problem?

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Ford’s Valkyrie are in flight.

Friday, August 3rd, 2018

Cue the Wagnerian music. Ford’s Valkyrie are choosing who lives and dies in Ontario. While Ford makes war on his old colleagues in Toronto city hall, his cabinet Valkyrie are slashing and burning liberal attempts at humanity. Both Christine Elliott as health minister and Lisa MacLeod as social services minister are busy gutting desperately needed programs and program increases for the people.

It seems Doug Ford, in his drive to be the new premier of Ontario, forgot to tell us what “For the People’ meant. It certainly did not include the halt the lame, the mentally ill and the indigent. It certainly did not include either old and tired social assistance programs or new program trials.

Christine Elliott is on the fast track, in her secondary role as deputy premier. She had the first kick at the increase planned for mental health spending in Ontario. At a time when mental health patients are slipping through the cracks in the system, she cancelled an increase in spending. It seems we are leaving the serious problems for the police. And we all know how rarely the police know what to do in dealing with the mentally ill—if they do not shoot them first?

Mind you Lisa MacLeod was surprisingly generous. She found that there was a planned three per cent increase due for the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) which can pay up to $1151 per month depending on rent. At a time when a staple such as peanut butter has gone up about 20 per cent, that increase of about $30 per month was going to be welcomed by all recipients, So Lisa MacLeod reduced the increase to 1.5 per cent. Maybe she might think the recipients will be half as pleased. Not that they would be likely to vote conservative anyway.

But it was Lisa MacLeod’s telling the news media of the killing of the basic income program test that caught everyone off guard. We were promised that this test would continue under a conservative government. It seems they lied.

Oh well, it was a foolish test that Kathleen Wynne did not seem to understand and would have proved little. They were not testing the impact of the program against another community of equal size. They cherry-picked individuals within some communities to test. I have no idea what that proves about a guaranteed annual income program?

Obviously, for conservatives, it proves nothing.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Ford-style mathematics and The Kingfish.

Monday, July 30th, 2018

Even health minister Christine Elliott is going along with the mathematics used by the new Ontario premier. Once you accept that two and two add up to zero, you are one of the true believers. The only problem is that when we are so obviously in need of improving mental health services is no time to fool with the mental health funding as planned by the previous provincial regime.

Recent events on Toronto’s Yonge Street and then in Greektown on the Danforth tell us that serious mental health problems are being allowed to escape our notice, our concern and possible action. It is worrisome when the new health minister starts her job denying the allocation of funds needed to address mental health problems.

But can we expect more than summary decisions of this summer session of the Ontario legislature? There was no examination or discussion of the whys and wherefores of the York University strike and how to prevent such a disruption for the students in the future. The process was cursory.

In the same sense, does the conservative government want more than a cursory study of the bill to end “cap and trade” carbon pricing? Will we just see “Ford” mathematics used to qualify his ten-cent drop in the price of gasoline. And will we even notice the drop in the ever-increasing profits for the oil refining companies?

Would that we could have had any warning of changes in Toronto municipal ward boundaries? Should there be 24 city councillors or 47? Are not the voters in Toronto interested parties in that discussion? And do we understand what is the role of a councillor as opposed to a member of parliament or of the legislature? Instead of having dialogue on these issues, we are being ruled autocratically. Elections of regional chairs are being summarily cancelled. And is that a decision that we should discuss? Is it from spite—or some other spurious reason?

Is this the style of public discussion that Dougie is proposing to use to send sex education for Ontario students back in time? Does Dougie think he can now rule Ontario by fiat.

We initially assumed that Doug Ford would be like Donald Trump Lite. We are rethinking that and are starting to see him in more the role of a governor from the past in Louisiana, known as Huey P. Long. The story of Huey Long could be a cautionary tale. He called himself ‘The Kingfish.’

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

 

By Golly, It’s Ford Folly.

Monday, July 2nd, 2018

After spending some time checking out the line-up of found-ins referred to as the Ontario cabinet, we have an uneasy feeling in the middle of our back. This is supposed to be the people’s cabinet. We are not sure just who the people are to whom this refers.

The cause of concern was the report from the Toronto Star’s bureau chief at Queen’s Park that none of the new cabinet ministers were being allowed to appoint their own chiefs of staff or communications heads. All such decisions are coming from the new premier’s office. And since the premier himself knows nothing about those skills, all decisions are obviously being made by the premier’s staff. And this implies that premier Ford himself did not have too much to say.

The day that Christine Elliott, with years of experience, does not know whom she would want in her office backing her up, there is something wrong. If the premier’s staff think they can push the new minister of health around, they are in for early trouble. And in her other role as deputy premier, she has to be read in on much more than the premier’s staff.

The same can be said for Vic Fedeli, the new minister of finance and former North Bay mayor. Fedeli is more of a right-wing ideologue than a populist and he will have a tough time fulfilling many of Doug Ford’s conflicting promises. If he ever says he has saved six billion somewhere, you will know you are hearing fairy tales.

It seems we have let the fox into the hen house when Ford’s people picked Caroline Mulroney to be attorney general of Ontario. We have the unusual situation of a member of the New York State bar being given the top legal job in Ontario. Luckily, she is not connected with our education system as her three children attend private schools. Her weekend home is an estate in Georgina (part of her electoral district of York-Simcoe) while during the week, her and her family are in residence at their multi-million dollar home in Toronto’s Forest Hill area.

Mulroney has also been named as head of francophone affairs. She was educated in French as a youngster in Ottawa when she lived in the prime minister’s residence on Sussex Drive. What she might know about francophone affairs she could only have learned from her father. She went to American universities and worked and married in New York until she and her husband and children came to Toronto.

There will be more to come on Ford’s Folly.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Donald Trump Lite and the Ontario PCs.

Sunday, March 11th, 2018

After spending Saturday afternoon watching Rosemary Barton and CBC News struggling with the Ontario Conservative fiasco, I was not sure whether the party or the news media did the worst job. It was embarrassing. I actually paid the CBC $6.85 plus GST for the right to watch that screw-up on streaming video. And I want my money back.

I spent a career working on news conferences, conventions, political rallies, candidate selections and leadership contests across Canada. I always worked to the rule that whatever happens is supposed to happen and you live with it.

But I never considered that you could have a disaster such as the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party leadership announcement.

The worst of it was that nobody seemed to be in charge. There seemed to be nobody willing to deal with the news media. There was no information shared with the attendees. They waited for hours without anyone coming to the microphone to apologize for the delays and then they were sent home without answers. Like wayward children, they were sent to bed without their supper.

What really amazes me is that when you are using computer collection of data (such as voting) that you would not write the simple program needed to count those votes. The only time I complained about the weighting of the ridings is when I tried to simulate a program to do that in preparing Babel-on-the-Bay’s Morning Line.

I estimated that there would be less than 70,000 votes cast. It was also clear that Tanya Granic Allen was the fringe candidate. She did better than expected but still came fourth.

It was the collapse of the Caroline Mulroney campaign that surprised us. Like her father, her campaign was just hot air. She blew it.

But it was the attempt to make all electoral districts equal that left the Tories in a mess. Like the electoral college in the U.S., the Tories had an undemocratic system. In the end, Christine Elliott won the most votes and Doug Ford won the election.

All I could think of last night was that Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne had a chance to resign last year. We can only hope that she takes a look at what Hillary Clinton did wrong in the last U.S. election. She has to remember that there are lots of angry conservatives in Ontario. Her and her party have to win the rest.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

The Ontario PCs in Wonderland.

Friday, March 9th, 2018

Vic Fedeli is hardly the Alice in Wonderland who foolishly headed down the rabbit hole. Yet it was Interim conservative leader Fedeli who first let on that Patrick Brown might not have been telling the whole truth about party memberships. And with three of the four candidates still in the running asking about “tainted” memberships, it sounds like they are laying the groundwork for potential challenges to the outcome of the leadership contest on Saturday.

We would never question why Doug Ford and the Mulroney camp would know how to create false memberships. It is when both camps demand that memberships paid by prepaid credit cards be rejected they seem to know what they are doing. They certainly do not want all those cards voting.

Vic Fedeli seemed even less forthcoming when he told the news media that he could not find 67,000 of the supposed 200,000 memberships that former leader Patrick Brown claimed were signed up by last November. In as much as Patrick Brown signed up about 40,000 from the Indian Sub-continent in 2015 to swamp the PC Party membership, it is highly unlikely that any of those temporary memberships have been renewed.

(It absolutely amazes this old politico that the news media keep buying into the idea that the social conservatives won the leadership for Brown in 2015. It is unlikely that Tanya Granic Allen’s vote will be announced on Saturday but she will likely be the first candidate dropped from the count. She might get as much as 10 to 15 per cent of votes cast but that could take every possible “Right to Life” vote in the party.)

The reality of voting in the party’s confused voting system is that the winning candidate has to not only win the most votes but to have them distributed proportionally across enough electoral districts. The voting system is designed to work against the candidate who has his or her vote concentrated in just one area of the province. It is why in the last all candidate appearance in Ottawa, Doug Ford must have mentioned being in every area of the province except Toronto. Ford Nation cannot help him without strong support from outside Toronto.

The heavy betting seems to be on Christine Elliott. The only question is that if she does not win on the first ballot count—where would she get the second-choice votes to go on to win? There might be further twists and turns before this race is decided.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Which Tory Witch is dead?

Friday, March 2nd, 2018

The other evening, the wife and I gathered in the den to enjoy a streaming video of the Ontario Tory leadership debate from Ottawa. It was only when the hijinks started to encroach on our dinner hour that the wife started questioning the entertainment value of the program. Amazingly, the wife started watching the debate disliking Kathleen Wynne and by the time it ended, she was definitely voting Liberal.

She doubted that any of those four candidates was capable of leading the Ontario Conservatives anywhere. Personally, I wanted to vote for the moderator, I never did catch her name but she was the only one on the show with a sense of humour.

But it was hard for anyone but a died-in-the-wool conservative to listen to all that mindless conservative cant. These people really need to listen to themselves sometimes. It is that over-reaching conservative condescension that permeates the dialogue.

And the best job of condescension was done by Granic Allen. The wicked witch of the north actually said she was going to rip Ontario wind turbines out of the ground. This was a sure sign that she was trying to add Ontario Landowners to her fringe candidacy for the religious right.

Poor Christine Elliott walked right into that one. The senior Conservative and the only past MPP at the leadership table did not seem to realize that the Landowners hardly care about their legal position on turbines. Contracts be damned is their attitude.

Ford in his stilted manner got some of the arrows out of his quiver. He hammered at the Green Energy Act and Wynne’s carbon cap and trade. There was little question that all four candidates are now trapped in some kind of mind-set that says carbon is not the problem: liberalism is the problem.

But, to our surprise, it was Brian Mulroney’s kid who blotted her copybook through the evening. I would have thought she had taken some public speaking training. She flunked if she did take it. Her voice was thin and reedy. It lacked conviction. She was not as good on her feet as we thought. She had no good power words in her memory bank. She pulled together for the closing quotes but too little, too late.

Who won? Who cares? None of these four losers is a problem for Kathleen Wynne and the Liberals.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

In search of a Red Tory in Ontario.

Sunday, February 25th, 2018

There are two former Conservative Members of Parliament whom I could vouch for as Red Tories. They are both very fine and principled gentlemen. They are Patrick Boyer and David Crombie. If you told me that you believed Patrick Brown MPP was a Red Tory, I might wet my pants laughing.

Patrick Brown is whatever you want him to be to get your vote for the conservative leadership.

There might be about ten per cent of conservative party members in Ontario who could be what are considered social conservatives. These people are not likely to cast a vote for Patrick, as they consider him to be a back-slider. He was raised Catholic and anti-abortion and is only allowed to fool them once. They are voting for that lovely Ms. Granic Allen. Brown is a pariah to them even as second choice.

There is another sizeable group of conservatives, you can think of as “Mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.” They are not all that sure of what they are as mad as hell about but Doug Ford will tell them when he gets around to it. And their anger will be muted as they tend to be concentrated in about 20 per cent of Ontario’s provincial constituencies. They also share those electoral districts with less vociferous conservatives.

One of the demographic characteristics of conservatives in Ontario is that they tend to be older than the average of other parties. They would include many who remember the halcyon days of Bill Davis’ Ontario. These people, with their faulty memories tend to be the ones who might vote for an older, more soft-spoken candidate such as Christine Elliott. And I will bet you a penny or two that if ballot figures are released, Christine will have the highest number of votes on the first ballot count.

But Christine’s luck might not hold. The voting system works against her. It depends on Brian Mulroney’s kid. Brian might have been hated by many Canadians at the end of his reign in Ottawa but the ones who still loved him were Conservative Party members. These people tend to see Caroline Mulroney as heir apparent to a saviour. They see her as successful, solidly conservative and the successor to the Tory tradition in Ontario.

If Caroline would only stop dissing Patrick Brown, she would be the natural second choice for all those people picking losers on the first ballot. She also needs those second-choice votes from people foolishly voting for Patrick.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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