Posts Tagged ‘Conservative’

Food for ‘enquiring minds.’

Monday, February 19th, 2018

If this writer told you that Ontario Progressive Conservatives might not all be on the up and up, you would likely brush it off as fake news from a raving liberal. Okay, I will give you that. Brush me off as you wish. (Which is why I rarely bother to try to tell you what crooks and thieves they are.)

But what if the reporter saying it is Bob Hepburn of the Toronto Star? Does the Toronto Star often feed you fake news?

After all, you believed CTV news when they told you the nasty news about Patrick Brown. This was hearsay at best and slander at the worst, yet many of you wanted to believe it. It cost the poor putz his job as leader. There was no judge, no jury and no due process. It was a summary trial and death by news media. (The fact that I stood cheering on the sidelines was irrelevant.)

But when it comes to unveiling the inveterate corruption of the Conservatives, the Toronto Star editors afford themselves some protection. They move the story to the op-ed page and label it as opinion. I often agree with Bob Hepburn’s opinions. I also often agree with Chantal Hébert, Martin Regg Cohn and Linda McQuaig but this takes someone of Hepburn’s gravitas to carry it off.

He was hardly the first to note the consistent lying of the Conservatives at all levels about membership numbers. It is part of being a conservative. The only nomination fights more venial than Conservative ones are some Liberal and NDP fights. Heh, nobody is perfect!

It has always amazed me that we can elect people we did not know where under indictment for fraud to senior party office and then let them vet our candidates. The vetting of candidates by parties today is more corrupt than the time when we were practically inviting organized crime to run for office.

Telling Toronto police, with a straight face, that the wholesale destruction of lawn signs is just high school hijinks is just minor criminality. What did the Conservative hierarchy do when Patrick Brown’s team paid the memberships for almost 40,000 immigrants from the Indian Sub-continent? Everybody in the Queen’s Park caucus knew that Brown had broken the rules to become their leader. It was to Christine Elliott’s credit that she would not serve as a Conservative MPP with him as leader.

Getting rid of Brown, party president Rick Dykstra and a few of the riding nomination problems is a long way short of cleaning up the mess of the Ontario Tories. And if you think that it is the Tories’ turn to take over at Queen’s Park, first ask if the Ontario taxpayers can afford it.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

“Patrick! Come back!”

Saturday, February 17th, 2018

In the iconic western, Shane, the gunfighter rides off into the prairie night and the movie ends. I had no idea that Ontario Conservative MPP Patrick Brown would come back. I have written about the reality that running to replace himself is his only road to redemption but why would the damn fool listen to me? I was as stunned as everyone else when he jumped into the leadership race at the last minute.

What is Patrick Brown coming back to? By joining the race to replace himself, Brown faces further humiliation and sure defeat. His Sub-Continent temporary members of the Ontario PCs are gone. There is no time to sign them up again. When temporary leader Vic Fideli went through the supposed 200,000 members of the party, he would at least have scrubbed most of the obvious Indian and Sikh names Brown signed up from two years ago. Why would they renew their membership? They can no longer vote for him.

But how can anyone who watched that perp-walk with the media out of the Ontario Legislature on January 24 welcome Patrick Brown back? The caucus have now made it very clear that they never wanted Patrick Brown as leader. They certainly do not want him back.

And this situation has very little to do with the supposed indiscretions of Brown. The claims of CTV as to his impropriety with young women are scurrilous at best. They were just a good excuse to get rid of the wrong leader. He is hardly going to be successful in suing the television network.

What it is about was the stupidity of how Brown handled the charges. It showed him as immature, emotional and unable to deal with crisis. His appearance before the news media that cold January night was an embarrassment for the Conservative caucus and the Conservative Party. They had to get rid of this jerk and they got lucky. He resigned in an emotional state. He could not control himself. Those are characteristics we can never have in a party leader or premier.

What annoys me about this is that I have been working on putting together the Morning Line for the Ontario Tory leadership race. Now I have to tear up all my figures and recompute. Brown has created a wild card. He has always been a bother.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Righting policy on the right.

Friday, February 16th, 2018

Former Tory Leader Patrick Brown thought he had it made last November. He had the policy for the 2018 provincial election nailed down. He had what he thought was a wonderful book that could grace the coffee tables of the province with a great picture of him on the cover. Patrick’s provincial Progressive Conservatives were going to destroy the Liberal dynasty in Ontario.

But some dirty dog destroyed Patrick’s dream. It might not have been Ford that came up with the scheme to wreck the ‘unsinkable’ Patrick Brown but somebody pulled the plug on him. Maybe it was Caroline Mulroney. Her kid brother Ben works for CTV. Did he feed the gossip about Brown to the CTV news department? It depends on whether you like conspiracy theories.

Whatever. The problem is that Brown is out and somebody has to replace him. You would think that whomever the new leader of the party might be, they would be smart to put a new cover on the old policy book. It would save a lot of time, money and grief.

But millionaire Doug Ford would never worry about that. It was the Ford father who made the millions. The problem is that even while smoking crack cocaine, Toronto’s late Mayor Rob Ford was always twice the politician than his brother.

Four candidates are out on the campaign trail these days playing havoc with Patrick Brown’s carefully crafted, supposedly middle-of-the-road policies. If you are a social conservative, you might even have your own candidate—ditzy enough to pay $125,000 to lose. This fourth candidate is no D’Artagnan. Mind you Porthos, Athos and Aramis (otherwise known as Doug, Caroline and Christine) have been mining that social Conservative vein for the past week with their various ‘accommodations for sex education.’

It is the same with a carbon tax. Even an arch conservative such as Preston Manning says that a carbon tax is probably the only effective way we will ever find to start reducing the amount of carbon spewing into our environment. Again, Doug said he would fight against any carbon tax. Despite the rule book for this leadership saying candidates have to toe the line on policy, it is Doug Ford’s lead that other candidates are following.

The Ontario Conservatives have a situation where Doug Ford is turning out to be the de facto leader.

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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.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Confidential candidate Caroline.

Sunday, February 11th, 2018

How much do we really know about Caroline Mulroney? She wants to be a member of the Ontario legislature. She wants to be leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party. She even wants to be premier of Ontario. This woman wants all of this and we all know so very little about her. And we hear she says: politics is just a matter of opportunity.

What has puzzled us since Caroline Mulroney first appeared on the political horizon is her reluctance to deal with the major news media in Ontario. When her father first got involved in politics, he virtually climbed over the warm (and alive) body of former Prime Minister Joe Clark to get to his buddies in the news media. All the time Brian Mulroney was prime minister, he always made sure that the media gang in the back of the plane were well fed, watered and lied to. Maybe his daughter saw into his final fall from grace and blamed the media for some part of it.

But her weekend get-away estate in Georgina is not a good stepping stone to the premier’s office. It might only be a safe Tory seat for her to get into the legislature. The real action is down in Toronto and her best base for that is her and her husband’s Forest Hill mansion.

That Saccharine campaign launch that Milton MP Lisa Raitt chaired for candidate Caroline Mulroney was an embarrassment. For her to not take questions from the audience or news media made a farce of the entire proceeding and lost her ground in the race to replace Patrick Brown.

Believe it or not, when you are running for the leadership of your political party, the party members want to feel some warmth and a kinship with you. Caroline makes this even more difficult with her American husband, Andrew Lapham, and four children in private schools. What percentage of rank and file members of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party would be able to pay for having four children in private schools? (I’ll bet the answer is less than three per cent.)

This political junky is looking forward to the upcoming debate between, probably, just the three already declared contestants. It will be a shame if Ms. Mulroney’s campaign team report that she has laryngitis that day.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Measuring mediocrity.

Saturday, February 10th, 2018

Having been party to writing political rule books in the past, it took little time to find the loopholes and errors in the 2018 Ontario Progressive Conservative leadership rule book. I did not compare them, side by side, but I figure the major change is the date on each page. It makes the same silly mistakes as the last book that helped Patrick Brown steal the leadership.

The only major difference between the two events is that there are another 17 electoral districts to be included in the count. If an electoral district has 100 or less votes cast, each vote will be counted as one. If there are 500 votes cast in an electoral district, each vote will be worth 20 per cent of a vote. The maximum number of votes that could be tallied is 12,400.

What really complicates matters and makes it almost impossible to forecast the vote is that the party members are encouraged to state their preference by numbering each candidate according to their order of preference. This is the foolish type of voting that helped ‘Chuckles’ Scheer win as what can be perceived as the thirteenth choice in the federal Conservative race.

This means that Doug Ford has to get out of his comfort zone in Toronto and meet our farmers. Caroline Mulroney has to get out and meet real Conservatives. Christine Elliott needs to make peace with more of the caucus and get their help.

What makes this particular contest so daunting is the timeline. There is simply not enough time for candidates to meet and press the flesh of the party. The good news is also that there is no time to organize and co-opt closely knit ethnic groups who are spread across the province.

The election was effectively called for as of January 26. People who want to vote have until February 16 to pay their membership in the party. Voting will be from Friday, March 2 until Thursday March 8. They are arranging a little party event for the membership (and the news media) to announce the winner on Saturday, March 10 (less than three months before the provincial election).

The only problem that might have candidates stumbling is the demand in the candidate rules, Section 5.2.1(b), that says to be eligible to run in this leadership, they must support the party policy as detailed at the November 2017 policy conference—which includes a carbon tax.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

When the music stops.

Thursday, February 8th, 2018

The game is called Musical Chairs. You might have played it as a child. If there are ten players, you start with nine chairs together in line, alternating facing in opposite directions. When the music starts the players are lined up and walk around the line of chairs. When the music stops everyone scrambles for a chair. The person who does not get seated is out and gets to take a chair and themselves out of the game. And then the music starts again.

It is also a game for adults. It can offer interesting variables. A political version has been going on recently in the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party. Instead of chairs in the line-up you have potential party leaders. The people marching around the line of politicians are political apparatchiks looking for candidates for whom they might work. When the music stops, they can pitch the closest possible candidate. Those who make successful pitches get to carry off a candidate. And then the music starts again.

I remember one time standing in the middle of a crowded ballroom in one of the larger hotels in Toronto, deep in conversation with a key candidate for a party leadership. It dawned on both of us that as long as we continued the conversation, nobody would bother us. We continued discussing—the relative merits of Tahiti for a winter get-away. We had both enjoyed the brief break from the political subject de jour. And then the music starts again.

I mention this political game because one of the factors to which I tend to pay attention in writing a morning line is which apparatchiks are working for which politicians. It is a bit like picking horses based on who trains them. For example, I noted today that Patrick Brown’s key guy is now working for Caroline Mulroney. It was something of a warning sign. It means that Patrick is quite unlikely to seek to succeed himself. He would need his friend Toronto lawyer Walied Soliman to tell him what to do.  And then the music starts again.

If the entire field in this current PC race are these three candidates (See No Evil, Hear No Evil and Speak No Evil), we will still have an interesting race. It would be Ford versus the elites, Mulroney versus the news media and Elliott versus the caucus. Each has their strengths and weaknesses. And then the music starts again.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

And now there are three.

Wednesday, February 7th, 2018

Even in this shortest of all leadership races, it is too early to produce a morning line on the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party contest. How are you expected to consider workouts and past performance for this mixed bag of candidates? And when you only have three—so far—you have to wait until the official cut off.

Doug Ford was the first out from his mother’s basement. (The media love the inference that the millionaire Ford lives in his mother’s basement.) The former councillor and the guy John Tory beat for the Toronto mayoralty, Ford is probably the richest wannabe in the race.

Ford is busy rallying his late brother’s Ford Nation to his cause but how many will pay up to become short-term Tories is a good question? Here is Ford running a campaign against the Toronto elites when all the time, he is one of those elites.

And speaking of elites, this will be the first chance anyone will have to not vote for Caroline Mulroney. If the name sounds familiar, it is because her daddy was one of the most vilified prime ministers in Canada’s history. It was a quarter century ago but many of us remember ‘Lyin’ Brian.

Caroline Mulroney has a father who is a liability, four children in private schools and an American husband in Toronto. And they recently bought a week-end country estate in Geogina, Ontario. It is so that Caroline can run for a seat at Queen’s Park in the safe Conservative electoral district of York-Simcoe.

So far, it is two wannabes taking on the older pro. None of them have a seat currently at Queen’s Park. Christine Elliott walked away from her Whitby-Oshawa seat when Patrick Brown stole the leadership from her in the last race. She was so angry at the time that she never went back to Queen’s Park. Premier Kathleen Wynne gave her a way out by offering Christine a plum government appointment. She was ideally suited to the job and it is reputed to have paid $220,000 per year.

But there must have been some other offers made to bring Christine back to Queen’s Park. She might have lost twice already in tries for the leadership but she is the widow of Conservative icon Jim Flaherty, Stephen Harper’s finance minister. She likely has a base of at least 15,000 Ontario Tories ready to vote for her.

While most political observers assumed that Brown lied about the 200,000 members of the Conservative Party. Vic Fedeli might not even have the right figure at 125,000. The better guess is that there are between 60,000 to 75,000 votes to go after. We will give you an idea where they might go, after the candidate cut off.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Brown’s fans fight for fairness.

Friday, February 2nd, 2018

How do you petition public opinion? How many signatures on Facebook would impress the hoi polloi? Would you send the results to Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook? Just how do you defend against accusations handled entirely within the court of public opinion?

Talking to one of the people behind the Facebook petition on behalf of the fallen conservative provincial party leader, I tried to dig into the effort. It seemed to be such a terrible waste of time.

It appears they just want to get their former MP, now former provincial party leader Patrick Brown, a day in court. They consider the media’s treatment of the case to be unfair. They see the entire situation as unfair. Which it is. The problem is that Patrick Brown dug his own grave. He never accepted any of the help that was there for him.

As a public relations professional and a political operative for many years, I see various strategies that might have rescued him. None of them would have worked with an overwrought, out-of-control client. When he failed to pay attention to his campaign staff, he left them no option but to resign.

Not that this writer is going to miss Patrick Brown. Watching him in action in Barrie and Ottawa, I would not cross the street for him even if he was handing out $100 bills

But, in answer to the people who want a day in court for Patrick, the one avenue left open for him is the PC leadership convention in March. That is his only road to redemption. He has to run to replace himself. Nobody can block him in the leadership. Vic Fedeli said he would not let him run as a PC candidate but the interim leader cannot stop a fellow MPP from running for the leadership.

Brown can brush off the allegations of the young ladies as an unfortunate attempt to get rid of him. He is a lawyer and he knows what their testimony would be worth in court.

He has to run in the campaign on his platform that he introduced in November. His people wrote it and his picture is on it. Why pay for a new front cover?

But the putz has to remember that when he hires people to tell him what to do, he should do what they tell him. He has to stop making an ass of himself.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

And Wynne sits in the catbird seat.

Wednesday, January 31st, 2018

The ‘catbird seat’ is a wonderful American idiom for that perfect position in politics providing the politician with a position to observe the disarray of his or her foes. As you can imagine, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne is currently enjoying that position. Her main opposition, the Ontario Conservatives are totally involved in their own problems.

But not for long, dear friends. This situation is fraught with danger for the long-term hopes of the Liberals in Ontario. No Liberal adherent, who thought it through, would have picked this timing for bringing down Patrick Brown. It needed to be closer to the election and too late for any choice of leader.

Given a choice, Kathleen Wynne would have wanted to go against pompous Vic Fedeli, the Conservative caucus’ choice of leader. He is a known quantity and his platform is a known quantity. With time to think, Fedeli has taken himself out of the running.

But Brown was not irrelevant. Brown was high risk. The only good news for the Liberals lately was that Brown might not have been well known to voters but he was certainly making enemies within the Ontario Conservative Party. Dissidents in his own party were challenging him in court and in the electoral districts and they were winning.

One of the more interesting challenges was over his carbon tax policy. It seems that the PC Party’s lawyers were told to pay Cambridge lawyer Jim Karahalios $110,000 for his legal fees and $33,500 in punitive and special damages. The judge in the case considered the action to be just a strategic lawsuit to stifle dissent. Mr. Karahalios had already had his Conservative Party membership revoked and was barred from the November policy announcement because of his campaigns against Patrick Brown’s leadership and the proposed carbon tax.

Other party members have also been complaining about the party lawyers continuing their efforts to block dissent from Mr. Karaholios and appealing the order to pay him compensation.

What pleases Kathleen Wynne the most is that while the Progressive Conservatives might be getting the bulk of the media attention at the moment, it is not likely to be the type of attention that will do them any good.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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