Posts Tagged ‘Conservative’

Ford Follies.

Thursday, February 14th, 2019

This entertainment is settling in for a long run. Ontario premier Doug Ford and his ensemble are enjoying their reviews. You cannot help but compare the show to the old 19th Century minstrel shows—without blackened faces, though Doug Ford does seem pleased in playing the role of Mr. Interlocutor.

In this minstrel show, the Ontario cabinet is seated in a row with Mr. Interlocutor in the middle. Each routine is a chance for another member of the troop to do his or her stuff. When the minister of colleges and universities announced cuts in student funding in Ontario, Mr. Interlocutor added that there would be no more crazy Marxist nonsense promoted.

That is the way that these routines run. The minister of health will say that big changes are coming in health care. Doug Ford has already hired his pal Reuben Devlin at $348,000 per year to tell him what those big changes will be.

Ford even tried to hire long-time Mississauga mayor Hazel McCallion to tell his minister of municipalities what to do about the housing needs in Ontario. Mind you Hazel, being a wise person, said she would prefer to do it for free. At 97, Hazel has stopped saving money for her old age. And then, when she thought a little further about it, she decided she did not have the time. (There is a lot of humour in these minstrel shows.)

The funniest routine that the show came up with last week was the announcement by environment minister Rod Phillips that the province intended to give taxpayers’ money to the polluters to get them to try to stop their polluting ways. Even Doug Ford could not top that one.

Mind you, the environmental stuff is a rolling situation. Phillips changed his mind and is now saying polluters will pay but not as much as the federal government wants. Ontario will now have a carbon tax but want to call it something else because they are still suing the federal government over the carbon tax.

But I am going to have to stop this comparison to minstrel shows. It will get me in trouble.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

‘Chuckles’ checks campaign conditions.

Wednesday, February 13th, 2019

With the new democratic leader Jagmeet Singh tied up in a do-or-die by-election in Vancouver and the prime minister under steady fire on the SNC-Lavalin debacle, the conservative leader is out testing fault-lines for the coming election in the Fall. While Andrew ‘Chuckles’ Scheer is not particularly glib, he seems to have hired some better writers.

In a test flight of fancy in Fredericton the other night, he got off the line that a liberal carbon tax is “a tax on commuters and a free pass for polluters.” For pure, lyrical political B.S., you have to put a mark on the wall for ‘Chuckles’ on that one.

The liberal plan, as this writer understands it, is that the federal government is collecting money from people who make carbon producing products such as gas for your automobile and they will give you a credit on your income tax for your share of this bonanza. Of course, Imperial Oil et al will promptly charge the bill from the government to you at the gas pump. If you are lucky, the government gives you your money back.

This money that has gone on the merry-go-round of carbon tax to taxpayers’ dividend will also improve the volumes and velocity of the money supply. Economists like to analyze things like that.

Mind you, ‘Chuckles’ says that job number one, if he ends up in the prime minister’s office, is to cancel such carbon pricing. For some reason, he thinks it is an imposition on “hard-working families.”

It was at this point that he gave a shout-out to New Brunswick’s new conservative premier Blaine Higgs, who was in the audience. He welcomed the premier to the good fight against carbon taxes.

‘Chuckles’ also tried a few lines on Trudeau and the new NAFTA. Other than failing the dairy farmers, it was not all that clear what he was complaining about. He needs to work on that one. Maybe one of his aides could read both versions for him and tell him what has changed.

It was a good start for ‘Chuckles’ in New Brunswick. He has no MPs from the province in his caucus and prospects are not that great for this Fall. He started there because he needs the practice.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

The snake to the right.

Monday, February 11th, 2019

There are times when we have compared politics to the game of Snakes and Ladders. The political edition is deadlier than the children’s game you remember. Just ask former liberal justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould about the ride when you slide down one of those snakes?

But right now, we are looking to the right of the game board where former conservative MP Maxime Bernier is trying to get into the game. To the consternation of conservative leader ‘Chuckles’ Scheer, Bernier is sucking the crazies from the conservative play list. The alt-right in Canada have been looking for a political home. They are not among your more lovable next-door neighbours but they do get out to vote.

Bernier might deny that he wants their vote but it was his obvious starting point when he blew off the foolishness of supporting ‘Chuckles’ as conservative leader. His People’s Party of Canada has to be built from the extremist libertarians, neo-Nazis, bigots, white supremist, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim and anti-multicultural dissidents. If Donald Trump can put together a winning coalition among similar such groups in the United States of America, Maxime Bernier figures he can do it in Canada.

Mind you, Bernier is a product of the fading bigotry and tribalism that is the last stronghold of the Catholic Church and the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Society in Quebec. The occasional pseudo nationalist outburst in the West is just a reaction to the parochial nature of disagreements with Ottawa over the years, promoted by mean and small-minded western politicians.

But it is in Quebec and the West where the core of Bernier’s party is being built. It is amusing to watch ‘Chuckles’ gnash his teeth over it. It is not the seats in parliament that Bernier might win, but the seats in parliament that Bernier can keep the conservatives from winning, that is concerning for ‘Chuckles’ and his conservatives.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

‘Super-agencies,’ been there; done that.

Saturday, February 9th, 2019

Health care in Ontario is a machine of many parts. It seems the Ford government wants to start collecting those parts into one super agency. The only problem with this is that there once was a super agency responsible for health care in the province. It was called the Ministry of Health. And it was the ministry itself that created all the disparate parts of the system with which the public is faced today.

Do the parts work well? Not really. Would a super agency work well? Not really. Would a super agency save money? Not in the long run.

But the mystical theory of all conservatives is that the fewer the agencies involved, efficiencies will follow. In theory, they are right. The only problem is that when you make a mistake in health care, you are mistreating people. It gets noticed faster.

When the 14 local health integration networks (LHINs) were established in Ontario, it was an attempt to take critical local decisions down to where they could be made closer to the needs of the patient. This localized arrangement was further structured more recently when local services such as home health services were taken over by the LHINs. If the idea was to reduce the heat on the Ministry of Health, it failed. And if the idea was to cut down on the size of the Ministry of Health, it failed.

The best guess of the Ford government’s intentions is that the 14 LHINs might be reduced to five regional oversight bodies. How this is supposed to save money is not clear to people who know how governments add and subtract. It is definitely not as simple as dividing by 14 and multiplying by five.

The danger that is obvious in this mathematical exercise is that many of the local services could be orphaned again. And woe to the local politician who gets caught in the cross fire. All I know is that for every act of kindness for a patient in Toronto, some sick soul is getting screwed out in the boonies.

It is disconcerting that health minister Christine Elliott—who was supposed to be one of the adults at the cabinet table—keeps talking about some sort of health care transformational policy that is coming.

It is even more disturbing that we hear that premier Ford has appointed his crony Rueben Devlin, former CEO of Humber River Hospital, to come up with this transformational policy at an annual stipend of $348,000 per year.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

‘Dirty Thirties’ solutions for Ford.

Thursday, February 7th, 2019

Ontario premier Doug Ford must admire the past. His government keeps reaching back in time to the solutions of the 1930s. The latest is to return to those times when a landlord could hire thugs as bailiffs and physically remove a tenant. They would toss impoverished tenants and their pitiful possessions on the street.

A body of rules regarding landlord and tenant relations has been built over the intervening 80 years. The Ford government is not only thinking of scrapping some of these rules. Their objective seems to be to refute them. They even want to reduce the 11 days allowed before someone can be evicted to just six days.

These revisions in the law are claimed to be part of the government’s plan to boost the availability of much needed housing in Ontario. It is difficult to imagine how this strategy would have any noticeable affect on the quantity of housing in the province. We are supposed to hear about the plan to increase housing supply sometime in the Spring.

It just reminds us too much of the Stephen Harper era in Ottawa when people would ask about the environmental rules for tar sands exploitation in Alberta. We were constantly told that these rules were coming.  It never happened on Mr. Harper’s watch.

It seems Mr. Ford and his friends are fans of the 1930s. They want to take Ontario back to that era. We should also bear in mind where that attitude took the economy of the times.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

The meaning of Milton.

Tuesday, February 5th, 2019

Watch out Lisa Raitt. The liberals are coming. As conservative MP for Milton electoral district, Lisa Raitt has a long, hard fight ahead of her to try to hold on to the riding this coming Fall. Milton is not only a change riding but it is a win needed to meet liberal hopes for a majority government after October 21.

And if Lisa Raitt had been in that hall in Milton the other day and watched that crowd of more than a thousand there to see the prime minister, she would be worried. Few were her supporters. These people not only showed approval for the liberal prime minister but they also showed the changing demographics of Canada.

This is why Milton was on the schedule for prime minister Trudeau’s series of town hall meetings in warming up for the coming election. With an increase of close to 30,000 new voters since the last election, no party can take Milton for granted.

Raitt can expect little loyalty. Her reputation as a tough politician is well earned but her overreach for the party leadership in 2017 earned her little recognition from the voters. And her connections with the harbour boards of both Toronto and Hamilton identify her as more of an outsider than a local product.

And her liberal opponent, Adam van Koeverden, an Olympic medal winner for Canada, has strong area connections. If he is connecting with the young people in the riding and builds the canvas teams that will be needed, he could have the winning combination.

I can remember doing some canvassing in the area of Milton electoral district that was in the north part of Burlington some 20 years ago when a good friend was the candidate. That part of the riding was mostly new homes at that time but you could still see the farmers’ fields that have been built upon since.

The voters were open and friendly. Canvassing there was fun. You learned a lot if you took the time to listen. While my friend lost to the conservative instincts of the older parts of Halton County at that time, I fully expect the area newcomers will be making the decision this election year.

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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

Out in the open with ‘Chuckles’ Scheer.

Thursday, January 31st, 2019

It’s time. Canada’s conservatives can no longer keep their leader a secret. Bloggers and broadcasters, reporters and speech writers are all digging into his history to find something to say about MP Andrew Scheer. He has been hiding in plain sight in Ottawa for the past year and a half. It is just that by keeping him secret, the Tory fund raisers brought in twice as much as the liberal party last year.

‘Chuckles,’ as we like to call him, is really the Tin Woodman who will be travelling down the Yellow Brick Road to the October 21 election this year. And, as you probably know, the Tin Woodman wants the Wizard of Oz to provide him with a heart. He wants to be seen as aware and caring.

The problem is that Chuckles is an uninspiring, uninteresting and boring western conservative.

Chuckles is also an excellent example of the last-man-standing of preferential balloting. In that type of voting, the voters drill down on the ballot to effectively select the least obnoxious of the candidates. It took 13 ballots in the conservative party counting to find that Chuckles was the least obnoxious of the 13 conservative party candidates. He finally got 51 per cent of the votes, narrowly beating out fellow Tory MP Maxime Bernier who had 49 per cent.

Chuckles’ claim to fame in the conservative party is his longevity as a Saskatchewan MP and serving as the tame Speaker in the House of Commons for the last term of the Harper government. That was when the conservative government had a majority and passed most of its undemocratic legislation. Chuckles was not known for his fairness while wearing the black robes of Speaker.

Chuckles ran a desultory campaign for the conservative leadership under the slogan “Real conservative, Real leader.” He was considered a front runner because of the 32 members of the conservative caucus who supported his campaign. His continued allegiance to prior party leader Stephen Harper has earned him the sobriquet, ‘Stephen Harper Lite.’

And to add to that is to imagine someone even more boring than former PM Stephen Harper.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

 

Brown bounces back.

Tuesday, January 29th, 2019

This is not a contrite political Patrick Brown bragging about his comeback from being a nobody. This is a brazen Brown bragging that he has bested the best. Comfortably ensconced in the mayor’s chair in Brampton, Ontario, he has four years to choose his next steps. And he expects CTV television network to pay his passage back to power.

A few days back, January 25, was a sort of anniversary for Brown. He not only resigned as leader of the Ontario conservatives a year ago, he gave up a clear shot at becoming premier of Ontario. What was obvious to all of us Brown baiters at the time was that he had to be brought down. It was either his financial manipulations or under-age women that would do the job.

Personally, I preferred the financial questions but the answers to that route were well hidden. Our best guess was that it was some of his conservative enemies who played the under-age girls card with the help of cronies at CTV News. It turned out that the ploy got him to resign as leader of the Ontario PCs. A vindictive caucus of Tories at Queen’s Park finished the job.

But Brown is as slippery as they come. When Doug Ford and the caucus made it clear that they did not want him at Queen’s Park, he looked around for other roads to redemption. The Peel Region chair was a new opportunity—and look where the Toronto Region chair took Paul Godfrey. And the largely undefined job paid well.

Ford slammed that door shut in an oddly vindictive manner. With only hours to go before the deadline, Brown opted for the mayoralty in Brampton. Not only was incumbent Linda Jeffrey vulnerable but he had a major part of his organization that won the Tory leadership for him based there.

Brown could have also vied for the mayoralty in Barrie but he had little confidence in who was loyal back in his home town. He also remembered the trouncing incumbent Jeff Lehman had dealt his uncle Joe Tascona when Lehman first ran for the Barrie mayoralty.

Brown had bought and paid-for connections with the dominant South Asian community in Brampton and it was this faction that gave him the Brampton mayoralty. Down the road further, who knows what challenges he will tackle?

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Ford follows Forrest.

Thursday, January 24th, 2019

Remember the famous line from the blockbuster film: Forrest Gump?   It was “Stupid is as stupid does.” The point was that stupid people keep on doing stupid things because that is what they are.

But if the Economic Club of Canada audience gave Ontario premier Doug Ford a standing ovation for his speech the other day, who is stupid now?

Mind you, there are those of us who recognize the private company, known as the Economic Club, as offering events that are nothing more than profit-making entertainment for egos. You should hardly confuse the company’s ‘pop-up’ audiences for its events as necessarily having anything to do with the study of economics.

And for the premier of Ontario to stand up before the news media and that audience and encourage the belief that a carbon tax would take Ontario into a recession is irresponsible. The man has absolutely no credibility in the field of economics nor a realistic basis for his claim. At the same time, there are media companies that delight in scandalously using such claims for shock headlines.

What real economists consider the minor impact of any carbon taxes, is premier Ford’s bogey man. He was there to create fear. He is looking for public support for him to wage a war with prime minister Trudeau. Luckily, to-date, Mr. Trudeau has mainly ignored his claims.

As it is now, Mr. Ford has launched a storm on social media with economists and others who recognized the ridiculous nature of his claims. Social media do tend to remind you of the old joke on the t-shirt that have an arrow pointing right or left and say, “I’m with stupid.”

But for the citizens of Ontario, Ford reminds them almost every day of the adage of Forrest Gump’s momma who always said, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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