Posts Tagged ‘Doug Ford’

The metrics of higher education.

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2020

Ontario premier Doug Ford wants our colleges and universities to earn their way. He wants some measurement on their economic performance. He wants to put a dollar value on that cap and gown. And when the minister of higher education is a lawyer, he seems to believe that such measurement is possible.

It is hardly the first time we have heard this debate. The argument in academe just uses bigger words. We have had the argument in my family. Of five brothers, two have post-graduate degrees and one, who did not finish high school, made quite a few millions.

But when you add it all up, I think it was the brother with the PhD who contributed the most value—as a professor, teaching business students in the U.S. about ethics.

A college drop-out like Doug Ford is probably not overly strong on ethics and he would have benefitted greatly from my brother’s lectures. I even did a guest lecture for my brother on the social responsibility of business when he was teaching at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario.

And this is not the first time there has been an attempt to measure the value of a piece of parchment from a university. I can hardly vouch for the studies, I have heard quoted, that said the average bachelorette in sociology and philosophy returns value to society at about nine or ten to one. It just seems reasonable. It is in accord with the old saying that you do not just give a poor man a fish to eat, you teach him how to fish.

Those ubiquitous ‘soc and phil’ bachelor degrees can simply mean that the recipient has been taught how to think. And just imagine how useful that teaching could have been for premier Ford?


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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‘Unencumbered as I am by experience.’

Thursday, January 16th, 2020

Ontario education minister Stephen Lecce is no mystery. Politics is full of people like him. Their ability as a con artist is far more important than any particular experience or training. They are chameleons.

Lecce was actually prime minister Stephen Harper’s discovery. He gave the handsome young man a job right out of political science at Western University in London, Ontario. The kid had the gift. With absolutely no background or experience, Harper put Lecce on the PMO’s communications staff.

Mind you, the prime minister’s communications staff in those days was something of an oxymoron. They were hardly there to dispense information. They were there to close ranks, to hue to the party line (as directed), lie when necessary and to protect the office and the person of their leader. Their willingness to lay down their bodies to protect their boss, was the essential criteria.

It was the loss of power in 2015 that sent the young Lecce back to Kleinburg, Ontario. He already had his heart set on the provincial nomination in King-Vaughan. It is an area that I have always supposed provided the country estates for retired Toronto mafioso. All Lecce had to do was open a small public relations business with one major client; himself. He obviously had the right connections as he was elected in 2018 to the Doug Ford juggernaut.

But he did not get his real chance until June of 2019 when Ford had to replace Lisa Thompson as education minister. He did not even have to shave properly. He was dumped unceremoniously into negotiations with Ontario’s education unions. And by then, the unions were angry. It was not pretty.

But the only people who are buying the Lecce BS are the news media. All Lecce had to do was start recanting on all the demands of his predecessor. It is absolutely amazing that Premier Ford has an education minister, managing a $23.9 billion budget, who went to St Michael’s College School, reputed to be the most expensive private school for bullies in Ontario. On top of that, his parliamentary secretary, 22-year old Sam Oosterhoff MPP, was home schooled.

This is the Doug Ford conservative government. Nobody with experience need apply.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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The gang that can’t sell pot.

Sunday, January 12th, 2020

It pains us to consider the lengths some cartel bosses would go to if it happened to them. Imagine an outfit that cannot even make a profit selling marijuana. We are talking about the Ontario government here! After a full year in the business of selling the stuff, the government swore that they only lost $42 million. While the private sector is doing the heavy lifting in start-up costs, Doug Ford and his incompetents paid out more for product than they could earn in revenue.

And the problem was simple. They did not have the retail outlets to satisfy the market demand. They had strangled the critical need for distribution. They thought 25 stores plus mail order could satisfy the largest provincial market in Canada. Compare that to Alberta, with a market of less than a third of Ontario, having more than 200 stores in operation at the same time.

It is not as though Ontario consumers did without their pot from the government-licensed dealers first fiscal year. Their friendly neighbourhood dealer—with much lower overheads—was there for them. These unlicensed dealers had better prices, quality and even home delivery, if that was your pleasure. They carry their nickel bags in the left pocket and the dime bags in the right. Just tell your dealer your preference in potency.

What is intriguing is the potential for the illegal market to offer their grandma’s own recipes for brownies and other edibles. Judging by the pricing we are hearing for gummy bears and baked goods from the licensed establishments, the home-made products should have an easy time competing.

If all goes according to the government plan, by the end of 2020, Ontario hopes to have almost as many licensed establishments in business as Alberta does now. And the Ontario government apologists will tell you that with a straight face.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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Stiffing Steel City.

Thursday, December 19th, 2019

Why does everyone take a swipe at Hamilton? It was over 100 years ago that STELCO was created and ever since, the city, the province and our country have benefitted by it. Its steel has helped create and defend our nation. Hamilton is a city built by steel.

It was no surprise that premier Ford did not have the nerve to tell the city that the Light Rapid Transit project, on which the city had already spent hundreds of millions, was losing a billion dollars that was promised in provincial funding.

To add insult to denying the funding, the provincial patsy, transport minister, Caroline Mulroney, fed the news media some Mulroney baloney about the full price being more than $5 billion. This amount was later calculated to include inflation, rough estimates and 30 years of operating costs and maintenance.

This fiasco reminds us of the famous one-stop Scarborough subway that Doug Ford was going to build in Toronto. Somebody should have warned the burghers of Hamilton that Doug Ford is famous for his promises and more famous for reneging on his promises.

Any Ontario resident who knows Hamilton knows that the city is in desperate need of good public transportation. The transit job cannot be done with just buses on already congested roads. You simply cannot reduce car and truck traffic in the city without an effective transportation alternative. Buses only add to the problems.

Caroline Mulroney was sent to Hamilton by Doug Ford to sweet talk the news media into believing that Ford had the city’s best interest at heart. Frankly, it is unlikely that Caroline Mulroney, who was educated and worked previously in the United States, would know where Hamilton was located or anything about the city.

If there was one thing her lackies missed in her briefing, Hamilton is home to a very fine university. It was steel that built that university and you should never think of Hamiltonians as stupid. They are not.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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Bad government begets bad opposition.

Wednesday, December 18th, 2019

They seem to go hand in hand. The more you loath the government of the day, the more you can loath their opposition. You have to admit that the Ontario government of premier Doug Ford is a disaster. So why does his opposition in the legislature have to be so worthless?

It might just be the fault of the voters. They were so pissed with the hypocrisy and perceived errors of the liberals at Queen’s Park that they voted conservative out of spite. I think when the premier of the day, Kathleen Wynne, so amateurishly gave up before the end of the campaign, the voters trooped to the polls to make sure.

Wynne led her disgusted liberals to being less than a rump, not even allowed the designation as a political party.

But this should have been a big day for Andrea Horwath’s new democrats. They had moved up to the role of official opposition. They would get to lead off in question period. They were there to challenge the government. They were there to prevent the excesses of conservatism. They were there to protect the citizens.

And Andrea Horwath and her NDP have blown it.

The problem was that Doug Ford did not like being booed when he went out in public. He could solve this by not taking the blame for every action of his government. He solved the problem we hear by having his cabinet front for him in the legislature. “Your ministry, your problem,” he told his cabinet ministers.

It was also an opportunity for the lesser members of his cabinet to show their stuff. Stephen Lecce, from Vaughan who cut his political teeth doing communications in prime minister Stephen Harper’s office, brought his smooth approach into the troubled education ministry. And Caroline Mulroney once more, showed her incompetence trying to comprehend the transport ministry.

But the NDP have left the teachers’ unions to deal with the government. They will probably do a better job of it.

And we will discuss the Mulroney baloney tomorrow.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

Redefining conservatism: A zero sum game.

Tuesday, December 17th, 2019

Our conservative friends are all in a tizzy. They think they are going to get to redefine their party. Fat chance, is the only answer for them. In a party that was defined by conservative Stephen Harper, 20 years ago, there are few progressives.

Conservatism in Canada is where you wear your credentials as a medallion on your chest. The social conservatives, the right-to-lifers, hold their prayer books high and beat a heavy drum. The fiscal conservatives want balanced budgets, smaller government and more respect for the almighty buck and those who have plenty of them.

But where does the balance tip? What is the middle ground? Does the country divide at the Ontario-Manitoba border? There are few saviours-in-waiting on the Prairies. Those western conservatives are hard core and take no prisoners. They are not about to let the Eastern effete—tree huggers and worriers about global warming—get in the way of them making money.

While the eastern progressive conservatives and their LGBTQ friends can embarrass themselves marching to make their statements and try to save our planet, the west will continue making demands.

It is a thin field of candidates so far, as people dredge up names from the past to pose as saviours: Peter MacKay, the failed last leader of the progressive conservatives; Erin O’Toole, who lost to Andrew Scheer and Maxime Bernier last time out; Michelle Rempel Garner from Calgary, might appeal to the Easterners; and then there is Pierre Poilievre from the Ottawa area, who served as an attack dog for Harper, who could appeal to the west. There are even more possibilities but there you have it: a party of many divisions, searching for a saviour.

My guess is that the party is reaching out to premiers such as Jason Kenney in Alberta and Doug Ford in Ontario who have shown their ability as winners. Winners only need apply.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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The existential Doug Ford?

Friday, December 6th, 2019

For today’s philosophy class, we are going to debate whether or not we have seen the real Doug Ford, premier of Ontario, this past week? When we saw him in action at the premiers’ meeting at the Toronto Airport on Monday, are we to assume that all the premiers were acting out for the national audience that would be seeing them on the late day news? And where was the Doug Ford who rarely came out of hiding during the recent national election campaign?

As much as you wished he was in rehab, he must have been in training at a political obedience school. Obviously, somebody got to him. It was like the transformation of Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Instead of the boorish, brash and boisterous Doug Ford, we have all grown to hate, we saw a civilized version of deceased brother Rob Ford. Rob always was the Ford brother who understood politics. The older brother was just a load of bull in a china shop.

But what have we here? Ford shows up in the Toronto hotel, where the premiers were meeting, with a cheesy load of Toronto Maple Leaf jerseys. It was the old political chestnut of giving the local team’s jersey to the visiting politician. Whoever on Ford’s staff dreamed that one up has been in politics far too long.

And you would think that with all the trouble Dougie has gotten himself into as a climate-change denier, there would have been some gas pump stickers for his fellow premiers. They also need to assure their voters that fighting carbon should not cost money for the major polluters across Canada.

But was any of it real? (That is what we mean by existential.) Seeing as how the communique from this type of meeting is agreed upon well in advance, there was nothing contentious in it. There was no mention of pipe lines that Quebec does not like or dress codes denoting religion that Quebec does not like—and someone else might like. They want you to think the premiers are a harmonious group—not a troublemaker in the bunch!


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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When you don’t trust your MPP.

Saturday, November 23rd, 2019

To get this straight, you can be sure I never voted for this guy. Doug Downey MPP does not live in our Barrie riding. He has been the go-to guy for Ontario conservatives up in Severn Township in north Simcoe County. I expect, his appointment as candidate in Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte in the last provincial election was a reward for his loyalty. As Doug Ford’s attorney general, he seems more of a disaster than his predecessor, Caroline Mulroney.

This embarrassing subject came up earlier today when a friend called me to check on any update I might have on funding of legal aid in Ontario. This was one of the stupider cuts attempted earlier this year by the Ford government. The last I had noted on the subject was a lecture Dave Lametti, the federal attorney general, gave Downey in June about the formula used to assess the federal and provincial sharing of legal aid costs.

But if you are really curious about the failings of Ontario’s attorney general, you should note the current hue and cry for his head by senior lawyers. It seems Ford and Downey are displeased with the non-partisan method of appointing competent judges in Ontario. This province has one of the most respected systems in Canada for vetting and recommending prospective judges.

But Ford and Downey seem bent on replacing this proven system with their own patronage-based system for worthy conservatives. The non-partisan system that they were dishonouring in this manner was the legacy of the late Ian Scott, the liberal attorney general for the former Peterson government. The difference between Downey and Scott is that Downey is a small-town lawyer and Scott was a highly regarded law professor.

It appears that since Ford was unsuccessful in putting a crony in charge of the provincial police that they are still looking for patronage opportunities.

What is even more discouraging about the Ford government in Ontario is its bumbling, ill-considered cost cutting that ends up costing far more in penalties, catch-up and reparation. They should take the time to think things through. They should be willing to listen to complaints about delayed action instead of taking precipitous action.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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The Day of the Blacksmith.

Wednesday, November 20th, 2019

We might be just one of many commentators trying to fathom the actions of Alberta’s premier. The other day, the province’s main apologist, Gillian Steward, reported in the Toronto Star that premier Jason Kenney’s threats to take Alberta and run away from home were getting louder every day.

What amuses me about this protest from the West is that Steward refers to Kenney as the alpha male of the conservative party. To suggest that a 51-year old bachelor who is a practicing misogynist is the alpha male, does not say much for men in the conservative party.

Maybe we are just going to have to accept the fact that Andrew Scheer is the best they have to offer. Nobody seems to want Ontario’s Doug Ford sticking his nose into the federal foxhole.

But to explain the blacksmith reference in the headline; It is just that we have heard all this B.S. from Jason Kenney before. I remember the nineteen-sixties in Ottawa when everyone was asking what does Quebec want? Whatever it was hardly mattered because they were never going to get whatever it was.

It was the blacksmith blaming the farrier for the lack of horses to shoe in the time of the automobile.

Prime minister Justin Trudeau committed the ultimate environmental faux pas when he bought the Trans Mountain pipeline in an attempt to placate Alberta’s greed. If it was just a gesture of conciliation and had been stipulated as only for processed oil products, he might have been able to get a short term laissez passé from the environmentalists. The aboriginals would know that oil clean-ups would bring money but diluted bitumen would bring disaster. And the environmentalists also know that diluted bitumen could spell the death of the world’s remaining Orcas coming to the Strait of Georgia.

It was likely just blacksmiths who turned their talents to tool and die making who survived in the age of the automobile.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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“Regrets, I’ve had a few…

Saturday, November 9th, 2019

That is not contrition. When Frank Sinatra sang Paul Anka’s song My Way, he said those regrets were too few to mention. The listener is left wondering what is left untold that he does not mention. It is the same as Ontario premier Doug Ford’s crushing changes to the province’s welfare system. This cruel exercise in false populism has led to restoring one aspect after another of social welfare payments to desperate people. And yet we are left wondering, what cuts are yet to be mentioned? How do we restore faith in the government?

And what has this government proved by its actions?

We know that this is an ideological government. It is a vindictive government. It is a government that is led by an incompetent.

It has been very interesting watching Education minister Stephen Lecce try to clean up the mess in education left behind by Lisa Thompson. Thompson, as minister, did what the ideologues in the Ford cabinet demanded in terms of class sizes, in hopes of savings in teachers’ salaries. Nobody had considered the fact that teachers and school staff across Ontario were ready to negotiate new contracts this fall. Lecce made sure there was some very quick footwork in the ministry to restore jobs and improve student/teacher ratios. He and the government still face tough bargaining.

There is also little question that the back tracking on amalgamating municipalities is saving Ford’s government from further confrontations. It is still hard for the premier himself to find an audience that will not boo him in Toronto. There is little question but that Doug Ford kept the federal conservatives from any inroads into the Greater Toronto Area in the recent federal election. He gave conservatism a bad name.

It comes as no surprise that he is now making vague promises to be a little more careful. Most school yard bullies will make that promise. We will just need to wait and see.


Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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