Posts Tagged ‘Doug Ford’

Choosing champions.

Monday, March 26th, 2018

One of the aspects of populism that confuses people is that they can come from the left or the right or any other part of the political spectrum. Typically, the populist rises from the environment that generated the specific populist movement. This is why Donald Trump in the United States is not considered a populist. He just had the ego and enough money to take advantage of the opportunity. He is a narcissist, a womanizer, ignorant and incompetent and those are just some of the polite words used to describe him.

But Donald Trump’s arrogance, simplistic message and racism attracted a following among a broad swath of mainly apolitical Americans ranging from neighbourhood bigots and bikers to the Klu Klux Klan and the National Rifle Association. Not even Trump had any idea how effective those people would be at the polls. When Hillary Clinton called some of Trump’s supporters “deplorables” it helped drive them to the polls to vote against her.

In America’s red states that dominate middle America, the God-fearing, embittered and concerned right had no one else to vote for as president. It was this odd coalition of the holy and the unholy who won the electoral college to make Trump president.

In Canada, we are seeing a somewhat similar situation developing in the planned June election in Ontario. Nobody is suggesting that Doug Ford is as racist and incompetent as Mr. Trump but there is some confusion between Ford and his late brother Rob Ford, the crack-cocaine smoking and plain-spoken populist mayor of Toronto for one term.

Rob Ford was the get-even mayor of Toronto. His one term as mayor created chaos. It held the city up for ridicule on late night television in the United States and in British tabloids.

While Doug Ford, the older brother, served one term in his brother’s former council seat, it was Rob who was the populist. Since the forced amalgamation of the city by the Harris Conservatives, there has been a serious schism growing in Toronto between the downtown inner city and its suburbs. Without their local politicians and councils, the suburbs have felt isolated.

What made matters worse in a city of 630 square kilometers, that rises from the downtown up steep hills, the inner-city politicians declared war on the automobile. The suburbs saw their routes to downtown congested with restricted bicycle lanes and no better public transportation services in the offing. Enter populist Rob Ford to save the day.

But Rob Ford is dead and his brother Doug failed to replace him as mayor. Doug Ford is no populist.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Can you put it on a hat?

Friday, March 23rd, 2018

We used to use bumper stickers but cars do not have bumpers any more. Now we are running campaigns that you can put on a hat. We are producing hats that say “Ontario drives with Ford” or “Win with Wynne” or “Horwath or horror.” That is the general view of political campaigns these days.

Just look at Doug Ford’s Trump-like rally for the lumpen proletariat the other day at a Toronto area convention centre. It was a disappointing turn out, but then, all the attendees got was candidate Ford.

He had promised that his rival for the leadership, Christine Elliott, would introduce him. The lady must have had one of those political attacks of laryngitis. Ford was introduced by his current campaign manager. Elliott was there but probably not in spirit.

It was a small but easy to please crowd. What is left of Ford Nation came for the free lunch and the conservatives came to commiserate with each other. Nobody expected to learn anything. Nothing was learned. The news media were wondering why they were there? There was nothing for them to report.

A candidate for any office that speaks in words you can put on a hat, does not provide much copy for think pieces. A story that begins and ends with the single thought on a hat, such as ‘Lynch the Liberals,’ is hardly loaded with usable news copy.

This keeps reminding us of North Bay’s favourite golf pro and former Ontario premier Mike Harris. He was the premier who said something like “Will nobody rid me of those meddlesome Indians?” He got his wish when the Ontario Provincial Police went and shot one of them. An unarmed protestor, Dudley George, was dead and premier Mike Harris’ problems at Ipperwash Park went away.

But give Harris the credit for promising more, even if it was just the “Common Sense Revolution” on a hat. Harris, like Ford, stupidly insisted in cutting everything. He even cut the provincial inspectors who made sure we had clean drinking water. In Walkertown, Ontario an E.coli outbreak killed five Ontario citizens and made many more seriously ill. Harris saved us taxpayers a few dollars and ended up costing us many millions. Now there are foolish people in this province who want to give someone like Doug Ford the same opportunity.

The good thing for the Wynne Liberals in all of this is that they do not have to keep promising to spend on a myriad of promises. All they really need is better writers for their hats.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Keep to the left Ms. Wynne.

Sunday, March 18th, 2018

Not that she would necessarily listen to this writer but Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne needs advice on dealing with Doug Ford. There is always the hope that someone who reads Babel-on-the-Bay will mention it to her. We, of course, are expecting her and her Liberal government to continue to discuss left-of-centre initiatives in the run-up to the June election. It is just in one of the first salvoes by the new conservative leader Ford across her bow, Kathleen Wynne veered to the right.

And of all subjects, it was regarding the sale of cannabis in Ontario! Kathleen Wynne had to take the grandmother approach. That was not only bad but it took her completely off message.

Wynne ignored all we already know about cannabis. Who does she think really gives a damn about buying weed? Not many of them are grandmothers. Yet in responding, she referred to herself as a grandmother. She can talk grandmother to grandmothers when talking about something grandmothers care about.

Admittedly, it was a set-up. The news media is going to keep feeding questions such as that to Doug Ford and then run to her to ask her for her response. It is to fill the ongoing need of the news media to have something between the advertisements.

The beauty of it is that Ford does not understand many of the questions and he gives little thought to his answers. Premier Wynne does understand it and has to use the opportunities provided to define the political differences between herself and the conservative leader.

She was careless to suggest that Doug Ford was looking to sell cannabis in convenience stores. Nobody suggested that. And to say that Ford was ‘reckless’ by suggesting privatization was silly. It is only pointing out to those who want to be able to buy legal cannabis that the government-run stores will be few and far between. Why push those potential pot purchasers to vote for Ford?

All this particular incident shows is that Wynne does not know why she has to make sure she stays to the left politically. To allow Doug Ford to look more progressive is a tough task, but somehow, Premier Kathleen Wynne managed to make it happen in this instance. She really needs to smarten up.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

In defence of populism.

Saturday, March 17th, 2018

From the first time I met John George Diefenbaker, I have admired populist politicians. For the benefit of our younger folk, John Diefenbaker was a Prairie populist politician who served as prime minister of Canada from 1957 to 1963. As a young liberal, I did not agree with much of ‘Dief the Chief’s politics but some of what he did changed this country forever.

Conservatives considered John Diefenbaker a radical. He did crazy things like appointing the first Canadian woman to the federal cabinet. His government passed the first Canadian Bill of Rights. He gave Canada’s aboriginal peoples the vote. He appointed the first aboriginal person to the senate. These were not the actions of your typical conservative.

Mind you, as a former member of Canada’s air force, I was royally pissed with Dief when he cancelled the spectacularly advanced Avro Arrow. He caved in to the Americans and left Canada as perpetual water boy to the Yankees.

I got to thinking about populism recently when reading a very misleading column by Chantal Hébert in the Toronto Star. She was saying that one-member-one-vote selection in political party leadership benefits populists. That is B.S. from an usually more knowledgeable reporter.

Her problem was that the examples she used were hardly populists. Doug Ford is not a populist. His late brother Rob was a populist and the difference could not have been more obvious. Rob Ford believed in Ford Nation, he was part of it. Doug Ford wants to use Ford Nation but he is hardly part of it. He is a dilettante. He talks the talk but hardly walks the walk. I will put money on him crashing and burning before the Ontario election. He is just another embarrassing Premier Mike Harris in waiting.

And Hébert mentioning Patrick Brown as an example of populism is a sad joke. Patrick Brown is a sleazy political manipulator and user who finally got his comeuppance.

Brown and Jagmeet Singh both swamped their party memberships with ethnic sign-ups from the Indian sub-continent. The only difference was that the Sikhs have been proud of Jagmeet Singh and would have insisted in paying for their own memberships.

Populism is a rare feature of Canadian politics and we need more of it. It is that ability to be part of the masses, articulate their needs, motivate them and rise to lead those masses. It is a combination of empathy and vision and communication. When you see it; you will recognize it.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Doug Ford is just Trump Lite.

Friday, March 16th, 2018

It was made clear when we announced the winner that the new Conservative leader in Ontario was just Trump Lite. There are some interesting similarities between the two men and their many failings but there the similarity ends.

To start with both men came into their wealth the old-fashioned way: they inherited it. They have no rags to riches stories. Nobody doubts that Trump turned his father’s development business into a billion-dollar enterprise but there were many complaints of chicanery and quite a few bankruptcies over the years. Doug Ford kept his company’s presses printing labels.

Trump started out disliking politicians and never really changed his mind. His ego finally drove him into the midst of politics and he wasted no time heading for the top. Doug Ford never did anything political until his younger brother headed for the Toronto mayoralty from his council seat—which he gave to his older brother.

Doug Ford’s entire political career as a one-term city councillor was spent alibiing his brother the mayor and trying to keep him sober, on the job and off crack cocaine.

When Doug Ford jumped into the mayoralty race four years later to replace his sick brother, he got the nod from what was left of the Ford Nation followers but lost to a real politician.

You could argue with Donald Trump as to whether the development business or politics requires the most lying, cheating and stealing but those traits took him to the American presidency. He is at his happiest when addressing a rally of his lumpen proletariat who think his B.S. is the word of God.

The difference with Doug Ford is that he thinks he is a politician. It was his late brother who was the populist who excited his followers with a plain-spoken, campaign that said he would listen. And it was true that Rob Ford listened. He returned telephone calls from voters who called in to complain. The two brothers even had a radio show for a while where they listened to voters who called.

But compared to his brother, Doug Ford is no listener, no politician and no populist. And in that, he and Donald Trump are alike. Both would rather moon the media than deal honestly with it. Many in the U.S. await the time that the American Democratic Party gets its act together. It would foretell the demise of the Trump presidency.

Doug Ford is hardly getting the free ride into office in Ontario that Trump had in the U.S. The difference is that Ford will be facing off against and experienced and wily politician. She is not going to buy into his crap.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

See what preferential voting gets you?

Tuesday, March 13th, 2018

Will they ever learn? The Ontario conservatives used preferential voting in their recent leadership race. Yes, they were rushed and used the same foolish system that gave them Patrick Brown as leader two years before. They used a system that fails to produce a leader. They end up with the lowest common denominator. And those people think they should form a government?

Political parties have been using computers to manage membership lists for more than 30 years. Elections Canada and provincial counterparts have become proficient in producing voters lists for electoral districts and for candidates. Political parties have embraced this capability and have little trouble using these extensive lists for distributing information to electoral districts and asking their members and supporters for money.

It was typical that the first e-mail sent to Ontario Tories by the party after the Saturday fiasco was, in effect, “Doug Ford won, send money.”

Like their federal counterparts last year, the provincial conservatives major mistake was to use preferential balloting. In both cases, the party let the losers be the choosers and regretted the result.

The problem with preferential voting is that the voters are concentrating on voting for their preferred candidate. Asking them to make a second and even third and fourth choice at this time is a serious mistake. They have probably given little thought to their second choice and this becomes a quick and not well thought through decision. The greater the number of candidates to select from, the less the thought given. (Only 21 per cent of federal conservative voters made Andrew ‘Chuckles’ Scheer their first choice in last year’s federal leadership race.)

And then the vote counting system only counts the next choice available on the ballot cast originally for losing candidates. Unlike a run-off election, voters are not given the opportunity to re-evaluate their first ballot. (Candidates who receive the most votes in the first round of a run-off election do not always win the final vote.)

The Ontario conservatives added to the confusion in their counting when they tried to make each electoral district equal. The truth is that they are not all equal. To penalize the districts with the largest and most aggressive party memberships is not only a serious mistake but provides inadequate leadership and little opportunity to those members elected by these successful electoral districts. And it is not even democratic.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Donald Trump Lite and the Ontario PCs.

Sunday, March 11th, 2018

After spending Saturday afternoon watching Rosemary Barton and CBC News struggling with the Ontario Conservative fiasco, I was not sure whether the party or the news media did the worst job. It was embarrassing. I actually paid the CBC $6.85 plus GST for the right to watch that screw-up on streaming video. And I want my money back.

I spent a career working on news conferences, conventions, political rallies, candidate selections and leadership contests across Canada. I always worked to the rule that whatever happens is supposed to happen and you live with it.

But I never considered that you could have a disaster such as the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party leadership announcement.

The worst of it was that nobody seemed to be in charge. There seemed to be nobody willing to deal with the news media. There was no information shared with the attendees. They waited for hours without anyone coming to the microphone to apologize for the delays and then they were sent home without answers. Like wayward children, they were sent to bed without their supper.

What really amazes me is that when you are using computer collection of data (such as voting) that you would not write the simple program needed to count those votes. The only time I complained about the weighting of the ridings is when I tried to simulate a program to do that in preparing Babel-on-the-Bay’s Morning Line.

I estimated that there would be less than 70,000 votes cast. It was also clear that Tanya Granic Allen was the fringe candidate. She did better than expected but still came fourth.

It was the collapse of the Caroline Mulroney campaign that surprised us. Like her father, her campaign was just hot air. She blew it.

But it was the attempt to make all electoral districts equal that left the Tories in a mess. Like the electoral college in the U.S., the Tories had an undemocratic system. In the end, Christine Elliott won the most votes and Doug Ford won the election.

All I could think of last night was that Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne had a chance to resign last year. We can only hope that she takes a look at what Hillary Clinton did wrong in the last U.S. election. She has to remember that there are lots of angry conservatives in Ontario. Her and her party have to win the rest.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

The Ontario PCs in Wonderland.

Friday, March 9th, 2018

Vic Fedeli is hardly the Alice in Wonderland who foolishly headed down the rabbit hole. Yet it was Interim conservative leader Fedeli who first let on that Patrick Brown might not have been telling the whole truth about party memberships. And with three of the four candidates still in the running asking about “tainted” memberships, it sounds like they are laying the groundwork for potential challenges to the outcome of the leadership contest on Saturday.

We would never question why Doug Ford and the Mulroney camp would know how to create false memberships. It is when both camps demand that memberships paid by prepaid credit cards be rejected they seem to know what they are doing. They certainly do not want all those cards voting.

Vic Fedeli seemed even less forthcoming when he told the news media that he could not find 67,000 of the supposed 200,000 memberships that former leader Patrick Brown claimed were signed up by last November. In as much as Patrick Brown signed up about 40,000 from the Indian Sub-continent in 2015 to swamp the PC Party membership, it is highly unlikely that any of those temporary memberships have been renewed.

(It absolutely amazes this old politico that the news media keep buying into the idea that the social conservatives won the leadership for Brown in 2015. It is unlikely that Tanya Granic Allen’s vote will be announced on Saturday but she will likely be the first candidate dropped from the count. She might get as much as 10 to 15 per cent of votes cast but that could take every possible “Right to Life” vote in the party.)

The reality of voting in the party’s confused voting system is that the winning candidate has to not only win the most votes but to have them distributed proportionally across enough electoral districts. The voting system is designed to work against the candidate who has his or her vote concentrated in just one area of the province. It is why in the last all candidate appearance in Ottawa, Doug Ford must have mentioned being in every area of the province except Toronto. Ford Nation cannot help him without strong support from outside Toronto.

The heavy betting seems to be on Christine Elliott. The only question is that if she does not win on the first ballot count—where would she get the second-choice votes to go on to win? There might be further twists and turns before this race is decided.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Which Tory Witch is dead?

Friday, March 2nd, 2018

The other evening, the wife and I gathered in the den to enjoy a streaming video of the Ontario Tory leadership debate from Ottawa. It was only when the hijinks started to encroach on our dinner hour that the wife started questioning the entertainment value of the program. Amazingly, the wife started watching the debate disliking Kathleen Wynne and by the time it ended, she was definitely voting Liberal.

She doubted that any of those four candidates was capable of leading the Ontario Conservatives anywhere. Personally, I wanted to vote for the moderator, I never did catch her name but she was the only one on the show with a sense of humour.

But it was hard for anyone but a died-in-the-wool conservative to listen to all that mindless conservative cant. These people really need to listen to themselves sometimes. It is that over-reaching conservative condescension that permeates the dialogue.

And the best job of condescension was done by Granic Allen. The wicked witch of the north actually said she was going to rip Ontario wind turbines out of the ground. This was a sure sign that she was trying to add Ontario Landowners to her fringe candidacy for the religious right.

Poor Christine Elliott walked right into that one. The senior Conservative and the only past MPP at the leadership table did not seem to realize that the Landowners hardly care about their legal position on turbines. Contracts be damned is their attitude.

Ford in his stilted manner got some of the arrows out of his quiver. He hammered at the Green Energy Act and Wynne’s carbon cap and trade. There was little question that all four candidates are now trapped in some kind of mind-set that says carbon is not the problem: liberalism is the problem.

But, to our surprise, it was Brian Mulroney’s kid who blotted her copybook through the evening. I would have thought she had taken some public speaking training. She flunked if she did take it. Her voice was thin and reedy. It lacked conviction. She was not as good on her feet as we thought. She had no good power words in her memory bank. She pulled together for the closing quotes but too little, too late.

Who won? Who cares? None of these four losers is a problem for Kathleen Wynne and the Liberals.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

In search of a Red Tory in Ontario.

Sunday, February 25th, 2018

There are two former Conservative Members of Parliament whom I could vouch for as Red Tories. They are both very fine and principled gentlemen. They are Patrick Boyer and David Crombie. If you told me that you believed Patrick Brown MPP was a Red Tory, I might wet my pants laughing.

Patrick Brown is whatever you want him to be to get your vote for the conservative leadership.

There might be about ten per cent of conservative party members in Ontario who could be what are considered social conservatives. These people are not likely to cast a vote for Patrick, as they consider him to be a back-slider. He was raised Catholic and anti-abortion and is only allowed to fool them once. They are voting for that lovely Ms. Granic Allen. Brown is a pariah to them even as second choice.

There is another sizeable group of conservatives, you can think of as “Mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.” They are not all that sure of what they are as mad as hell about but Doug Ford will tell them when he gets around to it. And their anger will be muted as they tend to be concentrated in about 20 per cent of Ontario’s provincial constituencies. They also share those electoral districts with less vociferous conservatives.

One of the demographic characteristics of conservatives in Ontario is that they tend to be older than the average of other parties. They would include many who remember the halcyon days of Bill Davis’ Ontario. These people, with their faulty memories tend to be the ones who might vote for an older, more soft-spoken candidate such as Christine Elliott. And I will bet you a penny or two that if ballot figures are released, Christine will have the highest number of votes on the first ballot count.

But Christine’s luck might not hold. The voting system works against her. It depends on Brian Mulroney’s kid. Brian might have been hated by many Canadians at the end of his reign in Ottawa but the ones who still loved him were Conservative Party members. These people tend to see Caroline Mulroney as heir apparent to a saviour. They see her as successful, solidly conservative and the successor to the Tory tradition in Ontario.

If Caroline would only stop dissing Patrick Brown, she would be the natural second choice for all those people picking losers on the first ballot. She also needs those second-choice votes from people foolishly voting for Patrick.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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