Posts Tagged ‘Doug Ford’

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

‘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

Lies, hyperbole and alt truths.

Monday, February 4th, 2019

What has happened to politics? And what has happened to the decency that it used to have? We all know that U.S. president Donald Trump creates his own truths but we also know that he is not really a politician. He does not know any better.

Justin Trudeau knows better. He was raised in politics. His father was quite good about telling the truth—and, sometimes, regretted it.

But that did not stop Justin Trudeau from using some hyperbole (exaggeration for emphasis) last week in the House of Commons. He claimed that his government has “helped more than a million Canadians find affordable housing.”

Defending the prime minister’s exaggeration, Adam Vaughan, parliamentary secretary to the minister of social development, explained that while the actual results created housing for less than a million Canadians, some double counting was involved. He stated that this was necessary to provide “rhetorical advantage.”

What it sounds like, is Vaughan is saying that Justin Trudeau, who used to be a school teacher, could stand up in front of a class and tell the children that it is alright to lie, to make your point. This is a frequently used rationale for telling lies.

But reality is that there is no need to lie. There is a long journey from truth to the way station of hyperbole and on to the alt truth. We see the alt (alternative) truth everyday in television commercials such as the current heavy saturation of ads for what Alberta calls an “oil” pipeline. What they do not want you to know is that it is to carry the highly-polluting bitumen from the tar sands. They want the public to think of it as just crude oil.

In this election year, we are going to hear many more alt truths. My favourite Alt truth last year was Ontario conservative Doug Ford’s slogan, ‘For the People.’ We spend a lot of time trying to figure out what people Ford meant. I am waiting for this year’s campaign when Andrew Scheer’s conservatives try to convince us that we should not be concerned about the environment. I bet the Tories will have a slogan for that.

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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

Parsing the political petulance.

Sunday, January 20th, 2019

Had an opportunity the other day to measure the mood of local liberals after the humiliation of last June’s provincial election. It was the annual meeting of the provincial party for Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte in central Ontario. All you had to do was mention premier Doug Ford and eyes rolled and teeth gnashed.

This electoral district was a rollercoaster of possibilities from the confused conservative events of January 2018 through to a very disappointing election day. We started with Ontario conservative leader Patrick Brown as the known candidate to tackle and ended up losing the electoral district to a parachute candidate, a carpetbagger appointed by Doug Ford.

It was not the largest turnout I had seen at an annual meeting for the liberal party in the area. It was a predominantly male group and the average age had to be close to 50. There was a definite lack of younger liberals. This group has its work cut out for it.

But the numbers were better than expected. The demographics were of concern but it was an unfamiliar location for the meeting and the wind chill outside was down to about -16 C.

And, we lost all three of our invited speakers. They were three of our seven MPPs from Queen’s Park who are testing their possibilities for a run at the party leadership—and all from Toronto. Two begged off with colds and the third was a no-show. (More about them another time.)

Once the business of electoral district elections was out of the way, the chair (a former MPP himself) asked for an open discussion of why the liberals lost so badly last June. He introduced the theme himself: anger.

There was general agreement on the anger. Where the disagreement emerged was the nature of that anger. Some thought it was just that the liberal government had run out of gas. Some thought it was Premier Wynne herself—she certainly came across as arrogant.

What worried me was those who thought the liberals had veered too far to the left and needed to come back to a more middle ground.

Personally, I think it is the reverse. Wynne is really one of those liberal socially and financially conservative liberals who tend to confuse the voters. And she made her own mistakes. The Sudbury candidate fixing fiasco was never forgiven. And the selling off of part of Hydro One was seen as bad advice, badly executed. The rest was just chatter.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Jason Kenney would rather fight.

Tuesday, January 8th, 2019

The last thing Canada needs is another provincial leader spoiling for a fight. Alberta opposition leader Jason Kenney was on Global Television’s West Block last Sunday laying out his battle plan and various lies for his anti-Trudeau, Anti-Quebec and anti-British Columbia campaign. This is, of course, provided his reconstructed conservatives win the Alberta election, expected in May.

Kenny wants to join Doug Ford of Ontario, Scott Moe of Saskatchewan and Andrew Scheer leader of the federal conservatives in tearing into the Trudeau liberals in the federal election expected in October. If Mr. Moe, Mr. Ford and Mr. Kenney were honest about it, you would expect the gentlemen to be resigning their provincial jobs and finding an electoral district that might have them as the conservative candidate. There is no doubt but that Mr. Scheer will need all the help he can get.

But for the three provincial gentlemen to interfere in the federal game with slander, false news and hyperbole from the sidelines is bad politics and a betrayal of the people they purport to represent.

First of all, the liberal government has made it clear that the carbon pricing to be charged on major polluters selling fossil fuels in their many forms, will be refunded to Canadian taxpayers in their taxes. The objective is to show people the real price of these fuels and the need to fight global warming. Mr. Scheer and his chorus can keep denying global warming and the increasing danger to our planet and they might eventually join the fight, but by then, hell will likely be frozen over.

But that nasty bastard Kenney has been lying to people since he was in college in San Francisco telling Catholic co-eds that they could not learn about abortion. He certainly does not admit to the highly polluting problems with the products of the Alberta tar sands. He resents that the prime minister bought the Trans-Mountain pipeline to help solve the problems for Alberta and says that the PM is now blocking the pipeline.

The problems with the Trans-Mountain pipeline are far more serious than the whims of the prime minister. The problems have far more to do with the sloppy job the Calgary-based National Energy Board (NEB) used to do on pipelines for Alberta. The NEB is no longer a lap dog for the oil industry.

And what is particularly outrageous is Kenney blaming Quebec for blocking the Energy East pipeline through that province. The proposal was nothing but a tissue of lies for the tar sands people and it was legitimately stopped. Kenney wants Albertans to hate Quebec.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Wynne can stay put for a while.

Monday, January 7th, 2019

All commentators do it. They give advice. The quality of that advice is something for you to decide. This thought came up recently when Bob Hepburn of the Toronto Star suggested that former liberal premier Kathleen Wynne “will have to go.” His reasoning is interesting but believe me, her position today is neither an embarrassment nor a matter of any concern.

As much as Ms. Wynne was an annoyance in her final days in office, it is helpful right now for the party to have a member handy who understands the levers available to somebody in the premier’s office. The cut-down caucus also needs all the help it can get. She is doing the right thing, for a change

Bob Hepburn is an astute observer. He would have no idea of the problems facing a cut-down caucus. And Wynne will be long gone when the next election comes around in 2022.

The point is that the real changes that need to be made in how the liberals run their party, pay the party’s bills, defines its policies, chooses its leadership and its candidates have to be made by the party as a whole. It can no longer be a top-down party. It cannot be run autocratically by its leader. Ontario voters will have had enough of that style of leadership from Doug Ford and his conservatives.

After four years of Doug Ford incompetence, Ontario voters will be ready to switch to a democratically run liberal party. After all, if you want a government that is run “for the people” why would you look to a leader who is a tyrant.

Voters in Ontario have a right to a government that pledges clear and positive programs for its citizens. This includes health care that is fairly funded for all concerned, pharmacare that is hand in glove with Medicare, free education for all and a worry-free life for seniors. The opportunities are for the citizens in Ontario, not for the politicians and their friends.

Ontario is the engine that drives the Canadian economy, it has to be strong for the country to be strong.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

A Christmas Tale for Doug Ford.

Tuesday, December 25th, 2018

Doug Ford tells us he is something of a Christian and that might mean he has been looking forward to this Christmas. He has been on a roll since January this year when the gates to the premier’s job opened up to him. He was even anointed by the controversial Prayer Palace Church to become leader of Ontario’s progressive conservatives. Until then, he had nothing more exciting to look forward to this year than another attempt to defeat John Tory for the Toronto mayoralty.

But he won the conservative leadership instead. The world was his oyster, so to speak. He was launched into the June election with little time to prepare and less time to think. Mind you, thinking is not something that Doug Ford does well.

Ford is better with salesman’s slogans. No thinking involved there, He was going to ‘Axe the Tax,’ Fire the ‘Six-million Dollar Man,’ have ‘Buck a Beer’ and be ‘For the People.’ It is the populist style of people such as Donald Trump and it also works for Doug Ford.

Maybe there were slogans he forgot. There must have been one about cutting Toronto Council to small town size. He needed to work on that one but he did not forget to do it. Unfortunately, the election campaign had already started for 47 council seats when Dougie arbitrarily cut the number of councillors back to 25. “Damn the expense,” said Dougie.

The consummate populist, Dougie has been full of surprises for the people of Ontario. Like the salesman, he is, he sure knows how to run up the bills. He fired the ‘six-million dollar man’ at Hydro One and costs to-date are estimated at more than $150 million. Much of that cost was in penalties for a failed takeover of an American hydro company in the State of Washington.

And then there is the attempt to compromise the Ontario Provincial Police. That blunder is ongoing and we will have to wait to see the outcome.

But today’s story is special. It has something to do with the ghost of his late brother Rob Ford visiting Dougie on Christmas Eve. It seems there will be three more ghosts coming to visit Dougie. They will be the ghosts of Christmas’ past, present and future. It can only portend something good if Dougie comes running out of his house on Christmas morning looking for a place to buy a goose.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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