Posts Tagged ‘Conservative’

A summer of silly slogans.

Saturday, August 11th, 2018

It has to be this hot summer. It is either that or we have some of the stupidest politicians in the world right here in tropical Ontario. Premier Ford and a few of his political cronies took a road trip—with news media in tow—back down the Highway of Heroes to Prince Edward County the other day. It was all in aid of a silly slogan about “A buck a beer.”

The conservative politicians—in their suits and ties—were heading for a beer pub down the highway that had agreed to their doing a political stand-up comedy routine there for “A buck a beer.” In the news clips produced at the small brew pub, Dougie and his buddies looked like idiots handling craft-beer cans back and forth.

Dougie kept spouting this silly suggestion that beer drinkers will be able to pay just a buck for a beer by Labour Day weekend. If they saw it, millions of Ontario beer drinkers must have been wondering what Dougie was drinking.

Nobody in their right mind was going to believe that any brew pub could afford to sell their product to the public for just a buck a beer. Nor was anyone so gullible as to think the foreign owners of the commercial brands in Ontario were about to give away their traditional brews for just a buck a beer. If you can tell me were I can get a two-four of Molson for just $24 plus deposit, I will be in line right behind you.

The point is—for anyone who would like to believe Dougie—the Ontario government does set the minimum price for beer in Ontario. They do that to encourage something called “responsible drinking.” The province also imposes what is sometimes referred to as a “sin’ tax or an alcohol tax. This charge for being booze is in addition to the usual harmonized sales tax that is split between the feds and province—as well as the fed’s ‘sin’ tax.

But, surprise, surprise, our Dougie is not even considering lowering any taxes. No sir. He wants full measure from the sin taxes to allow him to create tax savings for his fellow millionaires.

He obviously thinks the Liquor Control Board of Ontario will strong-arm one or two craft brewers into doing a ‘Buck a Beer’ promotion through the liquor stores for Labour Day weekend. You should not expect stocks of $1 beer (plus deposit) to last through the Saturday of the long weekend.

-30-

Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Folks find Ford far from frugal.

Monday, August 6th, 2018

We are told that Ontario premier Doug Ford is going to sue prime minister Justin Trudeau. And he is going to use our money to do it. I hardly see how that is going to please Ontario residents. Other than our money going to enrich a bunch of lawyers, what is the point? Why is premier Ford using our money to massage his ego?

This does not make sense. Why should this guy use our money? He is supposed to be a millionaire. Why should he not have some skin in the game?

This is the guy who promised us all kinds of savings in the provincial government. The only cuts in spending we have seen so far are the announced cuts by the lady with the sharp pencil from Oshawa in the increase in proposed spending, such as for the mentally ill. That is a less than impressive saving!

Ford promised us that it would cost us nothing to fire the guy running Hydro One. It seems ‘nothing’ is more like $9 million. Bad math Dougie!

That social services minister from Hell, Lisa MacLeod, did her part. She shaved half of a three per cent raise in funds for people on disability payments. Maybe she figures that will hold those shirkers!

It is what Lisa did to the people expecting two more years of the test of guaranteed income that caused the greatest shock. These people were rebuilding their lives under the test program that the conservatives promised would continue. No, it is not. The Ford cabinet changed its mind.

But, do you note that most of these cuts were in proposed increases. Nothing has been saved, it was all future spending. Yet it is alright to spend $30 million to make lawyers richer on a law suit that will go nowhere.

And the laugh in all of this is that the law suit will be under the management of a lawyer who has only practised law in New York State. Attorney General Caroline Mulroney will likely have her application against the federal government’s carbon tax plan thrown out of the Ontario court of appeal by a judge who has much more important matters on his or her calendar. And there are definitely fewer guarantees that the other version of the carbon tax case being sent to the supreme court jointly by Ontario and Saskatchewan will get much further.

-30-

Copyright 2018 © 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.

-30-

Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Dougie doesn’t do distress.

Thursday, August 2nd, 2018

At the end of April this year, a truck was driven down Yonge Street in north Toronto on a quest to murder. The driver succeeded in killing 10 people and injuring 14. Mayor John Tory was there on the scene soonest, Premier Kathleen Wynne came. NDP leader Andrea Horwath came. The prime minister of Canada came. Doug Ford, the man running for premier of Ontario on the slogan ‘For the People,’ was too busy campaigning.

And then we had the random shootings in Greektown on Toronto Danforth. Mayor Tory was there soonest. As premier, Doug Ford read a statement to the legislature. And since the prime minister was coming at the time of the funerals, the premier showed up for a vigil.

This is one of the toughest parts of the politician’s job. It requires that fine balance between showing your concern and appearing to be taking advantage of it for the exposure. Mayor John Tory does it well. Maybe it is because he gets more fires and shootings and other types of disasters in a large city. He also has the constant down-in-the-mouth expression of a St. Bernard. He was born to be a first responder.

But Doug Ford does not do concern well. He lacks empathy. He is too self-centred to feel for others. No doubt he has to let his staff pick the timing, prepare his off-the-cuff remarks and tell him how to dress and how to look. It is not in his DNA.

But nobody wants that brash loud-mouth at quiet moments of contemplation anyway. Doug Ford’s problem is that he only has an on-off switch. There is no volume control.

Ford’s attitude seems to permeate the entire conservative caucus at Queen’s Park. They applaud the brashness of their leader. They appear to revel in their party’s ignorance of climate change. They share the myopia when it comes to the growing demand for gun controls. And at a time of increasingly horrendous criminal attacks on complete strangers, they concur on the throttling back of funds for mental health solutions.

At a time of growing need for better government, Ontario has opted for ignorance. When better solutions should be sought to growing needs in fields of provincial jurisdiction, Ontario voters have chosen comic-book heroes. This is not a time to be proud of what we have done.

-30-

Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

The Patrick Brown legacy lives on.

Tuesday, July 31st, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

-30-

Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

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.’

-30-

Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

 

The Ford Follies fumble forward.

Sunday, July 29th, 2018

To be truthful, I had a hard time controlling my laughter reading the revelations on premier Doug Ford’s plans for Toronto and the municipal elections in Ontario. I am now convinced that Dougie is dumber than former Ontario premier Mike Harris. It was Harris who amalgamated Metro Toronto and left it in deplorable disarray 20-years ago.

If the Ford followers at Queen’s Park were truthful, they would mostly admit that it is high time that the good burghers of Toronto paid the piper. Those from outside the GTA are convinced that it is Toronto that sucks up all the good air (and money) of this province.

And if Dougie has something of a vendetta going with arch enemies such as Patrick Brown and Steven Del Duca, well why not get even? With the two of them looking for easy election as chair of Peel and York regions respectively, they were looking for an easy run at a lucrative job. This was to be the first public election for those positions and they both thought it would be a breeze. Those guys know something that has been kept secret in municipal elections for far too long: name recognition wins. Incompetence hardly matters.

The laugh might be on Dougie though for cancelling the chairs’ elections as Patrick Brown raced to file a nomination for mayor of Brampton. (Brampton is a city of just over a half million above Mississauga and west of Toronto.) Hopefully, the last laugh will be for Brampton mayor Linda Jeffrey, who will be no pushover. If that putz Brown looks like he is giving Linda any trouble, this old liberal apparatchik will be heading down to Brampton, volunteering to help her.

But the Toronto situation is providing the best laughs. Imagine the grin on John Tory’s face when former city planner Jennifer Keesmaat announced she is running against him. She might be the favourite of the bike-riding NDP but those people have their own problems.

Can you imagine those vaunted NDPers, Mike Layton and Joe Cressy, going head to head for a single downtown ward? I can hardly guess who will blink first but someone will have to step in to resolve that one.

No doubt some enterprising lawyer is dashing between already-nominated candidates putting together a lawsuit to cover monies they have already spent in now changed wards. Campaigns have to be completely re-evaluated and some will be abandoned in frustration.

The question is how are the voters going to accept this mess? I think we all need to listen to the voters very carefully.

-30-

Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

 

Doug is doubling down.

Friday, July 27th, 2018

Is it fun yet watching our new Ontario premier doubling down with our money? Doug Ford has given the back of his hand to all the efforts in the recent years to protect our environment. He wants to take us back to what was the middle ages of sex education. You would think the damn fool would take it easy at first. After all, he has four years to really screw up.

But Dougie is a man on a mission. He has sent the unions at York University back to their classrooms in anger. His solution was to solve nothing. He left the blame on the university board when it belonged on Queen’s Park He is afraid the people of Ontario will find out he is a fraud.

He has Queen’s park settling in for a rare summer session. He wants to see just how much consternation he can cause. He is a man on a mission. He has a city to consternate and political enemies to obliterate.

This will not be a time of well thought-through improvements. It will be a time of slash and burn. The barbarians have breeched the gates.

Education and health will lead the way in the tumbrils to the public pillories. They account for the bulk of Queen’s Park expenses and must bear the brunt of the cost cutting.

And we already know that there will be little of the truth told as these ideologues struggle with the realities of multi-billion cost overruns. We already saw the truth trampled as Dougie pronounced that there was no cost in getting the Hydro One chair to leave. Some of this conservative government contract cutting will take years to wend its way through a slowed and under-funded court system.

The reality is that Dougie has absolutely no idea what the conservative’s hatred of clean energy efforts will cost to liquidate. Will the occasional wind turbine be left turning in the wind as a nostalgic note from the past?

But where Dougie will really sell his soul is in getting even with his municipal enemies from Toronto. There is more to come than to just reducing the number of councillors and settling old scores.

And then there is that promise of ‘a buck a beer’ and even buying beer in convenience stores. Hopefully that will be resolved in what is left of this simmering hot summer in Ontario.

-30-

Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Patching the health care problems.

Thursday, July 26th, 2018

With former Ontario health minister Eric Hoskins helping the federal government and Doug Ford tearing into the make-do solutions in Ontario, we might be in more trouble in adding pharmacare to health care than we thought possible. We already know that Doug Ford’s argument for a patchwork solution is unworkable but just where Hoskins and the feds are headed also has a question mark on it.

As health minister for Ontario over the past four years, Hoskins has always had a frazzled look about him. He seemed to have no idea what to do about the increasingly onerous demands of the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) specialists who seemed to think their fees should be unlimited. And these demands by the specialists were being made while people outside the large cities in Ontario were increasingly desperate for general practitioners to come and provide coverage in their community.

I always assumed that those speeches the health minister made in support of a national pharmacare program were also being delivered to his Ontario cabinet colleagues. His problem was that former premier Wynne never saw a good program that she could not chop up into chewable chunks.

But Wynne’s stepping-stone steps for Ontario are down the tubes now as Doug Ford is set on teaching us all to pay our own way. Ford is determined even to the extent of taking back pharmaceutical coverage from anyone under 25 who has a health plan on their own or through a parent with coverage through their company, union or organization.

If Ontario’s new premier thinks his plans will save anybody money, he is definitely confused. Unless there is a single buyer of pharmaceuticals for the province (or all of Canada), there will never be any control. And to even suggest that insurance companies selling health plans, with pharmaceutical coverage included, are not motivated by profit, is delusional.

Ontario has had enough of the Doug Ford-Mike Harris approach to health care. Seniors were promised by Wynne that they would have the $100 per year plus the up to $6 co-pay per script ended after January 1, 2019. That will obviously not be happening. Even though the co-pay approach was a serious amount for those taking a range of drugs each day. They will be lucky if the Ford government does not increase it.

-30-

Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

A house without manners.

Saturday, July 21st, 2018

You would think their mother would have taught the Ford boys some manners. Maybe she tried but then maybe it just did not take with her sons. You would think that the crack-smoking younger brother, the late Rob Ford, would have prepared us for the lack of manners in brother Doug Ford. You can dress him up but he brings no decency to Queen’s Park. It is now a place without honour.

Of course, he has help in this. Today’s conservatives in Ontario are not the same quality as the conservatives of our youth. They are not your father and mother’s conservative gentry. They lack the concern, conscientiousness and civility of the Bill Davis era.

Those were the days when it was a pleasure to drop by Queen’s Park. You could park in front of the pink palace, run up the steps, stop for a few minutes of chat with the premier’s chief of staff, give a friendly wave to NDP leader Stephen Lewis and then stop by to see opposition leader Bob Nixon. We were dealing with issues in those days that that could be discussed and often resolved.

My role at the time was that of a functionary of the liberal party. We worked hand-in-glove with the party leader’s staff at Queen’s Park and had a good working relationship with the news media who were based there.

And all of these relationships were built on respect. It was not that we did not argue long and strong for our objectives. We could also listen to the other guys and give consideration for their concerns.

It was not that the house could not be raucous but it seemed to be mainly after a somewhat liquid dinner hour. Evening sessions at the Ontario legislature were never very productive back then.

Listening to Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell reading that speech from the throne entitled hypocritically “A Government for the People” recently helped to show how great the gap was with the past. The document was uncompromising, determined and gave no quarter. None of the customary niceties of a civilized legislature were included. There was no French language in it. There were no niceties. It was a cold, take-no-prisoners, approach.

Looking at Doug Ford’s front bench was particularly chilling. The experienced sat there, pleased with themselves, the newcomers seemingly eager for the blood of those across the floor. Times have changed.

-30-

Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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