Posts Tagged ‘Doug Ford’

Trump versus Trump-Lite.

Tuesday, July 17th, 2018

It seems that we have spent enough time by now to have taken off our sackcloth over Doug Ford and the conservatives winning the Ontario election in June. Yes, I pooh-poohed the outrageous idea that Doug Ford could lead anybody anywhere. And we have certainly had enough recriminations about Kathleen Wynne handing the conservatives the election on a platter.

But the hardest part of this has been the realization that we had learned so little from the Trump fiasco in the United States. We were still in denial when Doug Ford won the Surprise Follies—otherwise known as the unexpected Ontario conservative leadership race of 2018. In denying Ford his due as Trump-Lite, we were whistling past the graveyard.

I admit that we were terrified that Doug Ford was likely to win. And he really is Trump-Lite, despite our earlier denials.

There is no longer any reason to deny it: Canadian voters can be just as stupid as American voters. The same frustrations and anger that fueled the Trump win in the United States were present in Ontario.

Our boy Ford might not be as rich as Trump but you do not buy Canadian elections the same way you buy elections in America. And you can be sure that there was no way that Trump intended to spend much of his own money. People who manage to accumulate a lot of money are usually very reluctant to part with any of it. It is after they die that the money starts to flow back into the economy.

Donald Trump’s real skill is in typing with his little thumbs. He is best when twitting. This all started by dumbing down what you want to say to less than 140 characters and then convincing people to read what you said. The most effective way to do this is to say more outrageous things about people than the next guy. Donald Trump is the winner. Trump-Lite still has to learn how to do that.

But other than that, our pony in Ontario is just as incompetent as the horse in the White House. Both are busy tearing down the accomplishments of their predecessors. Both are embarrassing us over their ignorance about global warming. Both recharge themselves with the adoration of their acolytes. Both tell us outrageous lies. Both are accumulating anger against them.

Damn, we really do live in interesting times.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Trump-Lite’s Triumph.

Saturday, July 14th, 2018

On returning to Rome after winning wars, Roman generals were customarily awarded a triumph. This was a parade through the streets showing off the slaves and other booty of war. In Ontario, this triumph takes the form of a ritual parade through the legislature to the chambers where the lieutenant governor tells us what the government hopes to bring into law in the coming legislative session.

There was something terribly appropriate about Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell reading about a so-called ‘government for the people.’ It was the past and future coming together in an horrendous scene of chaos. She was gamely reading words that had no meaning to an audience of sceptics. She was describing a past without a future, a future without hope.

There was the shallowness of a commission of inquiry into past government spending while making no clear promises of where the government is headed other than its assumed restraint. It is a government that rejects change. It disavows the need to protect our environment. It rejects updated sex education for children when it is adults who need the lessons. It says we can neither dither nor delay and does both.

The most serious delay in the speech is in decommissioning the Pickering Nuclear generating station. Against all the best scientific advice, the Ford government thinks it knows better.

This writer was delighted to hear that the government will be adding convenience and big box stores to those who can sell beer. There was no mention though of the ‘buck a beer’ promise that was made during the more desperate days of the campaign.

Like his hero Donald Trump, Doug Ford is more charged by large crowds than by the realities of public office.

Nor does Doug Ford seem particularly worried about the potential lawsuits over some of his less well-researched promises. It appears that there has been a limit imposed on the number of outlets for beer in Ontario. This is in an agreement with the Beer Store retail outlets owned by the brewers.

Maybe the Ontario premier will just ignore the real costs as he did when Hydro One CEO Schmidt retired rather than letting Ford fire him. Ford gleefully told the news media that this cost the taxpayers nothing. Premier Ford’s idea of nothing seems to be about $8 million.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Sales people can be the easiest sale.

Monday, July 9th, 2018

Justin Trudeau blew it the other day. His task was simple. He was to sell Premier Ford of Ontario on helping to save the environment. And while he was at it, he also needed to help Ford understand that Canadians try their best to help refugees. At the same time, Ford needed to help preserve a common front with the feds on the ongoing North American Free Trade (NAFTA) negotiations.

But we are not sure that the third item even made it into the discussion.

Instead of pitching his product, the prime minister set out to lecture the premier. It would be hard to choose a bigger waste of time. Doug Ford was there to prove that he was now the premier and the prime minister had come to him for something. Ford was feeling like top dog in that kennel.

Next time, Trudeau should remember to send for Ford. He should have had the meeting in the more impressive prime minister’s office. Turf is everything to a guy like that.

And what right does Trudeau have to get miffed at the obduracy of Ford? Did he expect instant understanding? Those guys do not speak the same language. And I hardly mean French and English.

Ford is not an environmentally friendly kind of person. He is the type who doesn’t care about plastic straws and probably throws his empty Tim’s cup out the SUV window at a stoplight. He seems to see environmentalism as something for wusses.

And his attitude on refugees is straight out of the Donald Trump Handbook. He sees them all as mad rapists and criminals who want our free medical care and housing who will take the bread from Canadians. Mind you, if Trudeau thinks it is a complex subject, he obviously is not going to enlighten the likes of Ontario’s Doug Ford.

Despite Trudeau’s background as a teacher, Ford is probably a special needs case when it comes to this subject. Ontario’s bombastic new social services minister, Lisa MacLeod has also indicated to her federal counterpart that the province was no longer interested in doing anything for asylum seekers who are shifting their focus from the United States.

Be warned you tired and poor and huddled masses, the signs at the borders of Ontario are no longer going to say ‘welcome’ either.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Secrets of the speech writer.

Saturday, July 7th, 2018

There seems to be a wealth of expertise today on why the Ontario liberals failed us in the June election. One of the more recent apologists was a speech writer who tells us he has spent, probably too much, time at Queen’s park. His article made me wonder about how speeches are being crafted today.

There are certain basics about political speeches that I am sure never change. One of the first basics is understanding your audience. If you do not know your audience, you are better to say hello, introduce yourself in simple terms and then keep quiet and listen.

Writing speeches for somebody new is always a special challenge. I was criticized more than once for asking a lot of seemingly inane questions. What I was doing was listening to how the person talked. I had to be able to hear in my mind, the person saying every word I would write.

You also had to convince the new client that you will rap their knuckles if they dare to change any of your phrasing. You spend a good deal of time seeking to preserve what is built into the speech that makes logical clips for the broadcast media.

But I would never recommend to a political client that they think or talk like Doug Ford. The one thing you can count on is that most people are smarter than the younger Ford brother. Doug is no business genius. He is just a salesman, albeit a good one. He knows to repeat the winning slogans as his brother taught him. What he also tried to pick up from his late brother was Rob’s commitment and street smarts. Rob connected—maybe with people you are not interested in—but he built Ford Nation on their loyalty. You should never be critical of a guy with his own mob!

The speech writer is knowledgeable enough to know that politicians should not be going around giving lectures in civics. Nothing seems to turn off voters faster. And he thinks they should explain to voters why they care about them –also a good idea.

But the problem now for salesman Doug Ford is delivering on what he has promised his customers. They delivered the votes he wanted. He now has to deliver the goods. A good speech writer cannot always solve that problem.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

By Golly, It’s Ford Folly.

Monday, July 2nd, 2018

After spending some time checking out the line-up of found-ins referred to as the Ontario cabinet, we have an uneasy feeling in the middle of our back. This is supposed to be the people’s cabinet. We are not sure just who the people are to whom this refers.

The cause of concern was the report from the Toronto Star’s bureau chief at Queen’s Park that none of the new cabinet ministers were being allowed to appoint their own chiefs of staff or communications heads. All such decisions are coming from the new premier’s office. And since the premier himself knows nothing about those skills, all decisions are obviously being made by the premier’s staff. And this implies that premier Ford himself did not have too much to say.

The day that Christine Elliott, with years of experience, does not know whom she would want in her office backing her up, there is something wrong. If the premier’s staff think they can push the new minister of health around, they are in for early trouble. And in her other role as deputy premier, she has to be read in on much more than the premier’s staff.

The same can be said for Vic Fedeli, the new minister of finance and former North Bay mayor. Fedeli is more of a right-wing ideologue than a populist and he will have a tough time fulfilling many of Doug Ford’s conflicting promises. If he ever says he has saved six billion somewhere, you will know you are hearing fairy tales.

It seems we have let the fox into the hen house when Ford’s people picked Caroline Mulroney to be attorney general of Ontario. We have the unusual situation of a member of the New York State bar being given the top legal job in Ontario. Luckily, she is not connected with our education system as her three children attend private schools. Her weekend home is an estate in Georgina (part of her electoral district of York-Simcoe) while during the week, her and her family are in residence at their multi-million dollar home in Toronto’s Forest Hill area.

Mulroney has also been named as head of francophone affairs. She was educated in French as a youngster in Ottawa when she lived in the prime minister’s residence on Sussex Drive. What she might know about francophone affairs she could only have learned from her father. She went to American universities and worked and married in New York until she and her husband and children came to Toronto.

There will be more to come on Ford’s Folly.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Let’s settle this silly supposition.

Saturday, June 30th, 2018

According to Toronto Star columnist Bob Hepburn, political guru David Herle says the results for the liberals would have been worse if Wynne had not announced that they would lose. I must be missing some common sense. Since most of my Canadian readers are fairly knowledgeable about politics, I would like their help here.

Those of us that follow such things closely know that towards the end of the campaign, Kathleen Wynne and the Ontario liberals were going downhill. It was not the time to capitulate. It was a time to get smart.

As campaign manager for the party, it is supposed that Mr. Herle has to bear some of the blame for the loss. That campaign was not his finest hour. He spent more than a million dollars each to get seven liberal members elected. This is not cost-efficient campaigning.

But only now does Herle admit that he had no idea of how to fight Ford. He should have asked some of us old has-beens! We knew Ford from when he was on Toronto council. We watched the blow-hard lose to fellow conservative John Tory in the mayoralty race four years ago. We followed him closely in that farce of a conservative leadership contest. Beating him is as simple as you take one hard run at the son-of-a-bitch and then you ignore him. He was not the reason that the voters should have chosen Wynne.

Herle never gave the voters a convincing reason to vote liberal. Out of a ten-million-dollar campaign budget, you would think he could at least come up with a decent slogan!

Doug Ford’s “For the People” sucked but it was a hell of a lot better than nothing. Nobody ever gave us a reason to vote for Wynne. All we wanted was a single compelling statement on her behalf.

I guess Mr. Herle was counting on the more intellectual voters who preferred not to have a Trump-Lite such as Doug Ford in Ontario. We got news for you campaign manager: There seem to be only enough intellectuals in Ontario to elect seven liberals. The rest of us hoi polloi had to fend for ourselves.

Kathleen Wynne drove the campaign bus that transported loyal liberal voters to the NDP. Wynne should have been slicing and dicing Andrea Horwath from the beginning. That do-nothing blob was sucking up all the hot air and sailed through the campaign to plaudits and to Her Majesty’s loyal opposition.

Mr. Herle, I guess you are fired.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

The Ego Has Landed.

Saturday, June 23rd, 2018

Premier designate Doug Ford is in Queen’s Park. His reign of terror in Ontario is moving into gear. Before he has even unpacked, he is terrorizing the civil servants and attacking some of the better programs of his predecessors. Why he is being allowed to do this before being sworn into office will probably become the stuff of lawsuits.

Why the Green Ontario fund has replaced its website with a notice that all its Green ON programs are closed is serious. Since when can a premier designate issue an executive order such as that? You would think he would at least have the courtesy to be premier before issuing orders. This guy is only Trump lite. You would at least expect him to have lists of ‘Things to do—after taking office.’

A friend has a house used by her two adult boys who are somewhat challenged and help in looking after it. Lately, she has been installing better windows to improve the insulation and lower the heating costs. Imagine her surprise in trying to apply for the Green ON rebate.

The Green On funds were obtained by the government as part of the cap and trade program that served as a carbon tax in Ontario. Instead of taxing carbon emissions, Ontario had joined with California and Quebec to cap industrial carbon emissions and have industries that met their targets sell any excess allowance to others who were exceeding the limits. This program produced about $3 billion in the first few years and this provided the funds for the Green ON program of incentives and rebates on energy saving products.

But Dougie thinks he is going to save us Ontario taxpayers lots of money. Just the other day he also ordered the extension of use of the Pickering Nuclear plant until 2024. The best advice of our scientists was that the plant should be decommissioned sooner. They know that there is more to shutting down a nuclear plant than turning off the lights and locking the door.

Pickering was slated for decommissioning before that. It is one of the oldest operating nuclear plants in North America. It will take years to shut down the facility safely and cost a great deal.

But Dougie thinks he knows better. He was bragging to people east of Toronto around the Pickering area of all the jobs he was saving them.

When I lived in Toronto, we sometimes used to make bad jokes about the day that could be coming when the city has two sunrises.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Did Brown lay the table for Ford?

Sunday, June 17th, 2018

The only newspaper in Ontario that gave a real damn about the lynching of conservative leader Patrick Brown back in January was his hometown Barrie Advance. It is owned by the Toronto Star and while it is just a poor quality shopper in which to wrap grocery flyers, the publication has editorials just like a real newspaper. It is the only regular print media in a city of close to 150,000 people. This past week (it is a weekly publication), it had an editorial saying that “Brown’s work helped Ford win.”

This bravura assertion is questionable. There is probably a long list of people who helped Doug Ford win the Ontario conservative leadership and then the provincial election. I think we can all agree that the first name on that list should be premier Kathleen Wynne. Her quitting the race a week before election day was the guarantee that Ford would win.

A close second was new democratic leader Andrea Horwath. Her inadequate and incompetent leadership of her party left Ontario voters no choice. Her hidebound position on the York University strike before the election left voters with the clear impression that she could only follow the party line.

I thought the guy who really helped Ford was Patrick Brown’s friend Walied Soliman. He was chair of Brown’s campaign team and “The People’s Guarantee” that Walied’s team put together and had Brown present last November was one of the most brilliant pieces of propaganda that I have seen for a long time. Weak in content, it made up for it in slickness. Ford only loathed it because it had Brown’s picture on the cover.

But the unknown person who orchestrated the charges against Brown by the two young ladies was the real hero of the hour. The timing was perfect. It also showed that the person was not a liberal. It had to be a conservative who recognized that the momentum for whomever became conservative leader could be unstoppable.

And why Walied and his team all told Brown they were resigning and leaving him in the lurch back in January made little sense. As a lawyer, Walied was obviously not thinking as one to leave his friend in such a situation. And any lawyer taking on Brown’s case against CTV might just do very well on a contingency fee.

Brown was a timebomb for the Ontario conservatives. We knew how women felt about him and it was certainly his Achilles’ heel. The only thing he did to help Ford win, was to resign.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

What muted the proportional vote advocates?

Saturday, June 16th, 2018

It must be the shock of the recent Ontario election has not worn off. You would normally expect a hue and cry by this time for proportional representation in the legislature. It is when you hear about the so-called ‘wasted vote’ and the unfairness of first-past-the-post voting. It is certainly a well-aged whine!

According to the proportional representation people, if the last election had been run by their rules, the election would have produced the following result: The conservatives would have won 50 seats, the new democrats 42 seats, the liberals 25 seats and the greens would have had 6. There would be two more seats in a 124-seat legislature and they could be replacement members for the parties who had their members elected as speaker and deputy speaker.

What is wrong with the entire idea is that the only people really being elected are the leaders of the various parties. Everyone else is appointed from a party list according to a chosen formula.

Instead of Mr. Ford being busy with his transition team, choosing a cabinet and preparing to be sworn in as premier, there would still be arguments raging about whether Mr. Ford could get the confidence of the legislature to form a government. Somebody has to go to the lieutenant governor and be able to say, “I can win a vote of confidence.” That argument could take the entire summer.

The ongoing argument would leave the York University students in limbo and do irreparable harm to a fine university. The legislature would be prevented by the new democrats from meeting to interfere with collective bargaining that obviously does not work for the university governors, their staff, or their students.

In countries that have had proportional representation for a long time, there are far more parties involved. Each special interest group forms their own parties to protect their own turf. They do not often have big-tent parties in those countries that use proportion representation.

I think I will continue to support first-past-the-post voting. It might be a little more ‘rough and tumble’ than some people like but it gets things done. I am not sure how much of the Ontario conservatives under Doug Ford we can take. I do know that we seriously need to rethink our liberalism.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

A fleeting fondness for Ford.

Friday, June 15th, 2018

Does premier Ford really feel the love? Sorry Dougie, it’s temporary. The same rage as put a Ford in the premier’s office can just as quickly send him to the same scrap heap as Kathleen Wynne. Ford began and ended his campaign for Ontario in his mother’s basement. Both he and the province would be better off if he had stayed there.

It will be a couple of weeks before Dougie’s team can gather the reins of power at Queen’s Park. We loyal citizens should appreciate the reprieve.

But watch out. Dougie’s couple dozen or so cabinet colleagues will hit the deck—running in all directions. I will be quite interested in seeing who gets what portfolios. It will be our early warning as to where to watch for trouble.

The conservatives will probably launch themselves in office by making the populist move of sending the York University staff back to work. It has been a disgrace the way the university and its staff have allowed their squabble to destroy the hopes of students for education and careers. The new democrats will pay heavily for their obstinance on this before the election, in the name of collective bargaining.

But it is Ford’s promises that are so eagerly anticipated by observers. Frankly there are more than a few of them that he would be smart to forget. The most amusing is the purported ten cent reduction in the price of gasoline for Ford’s favourite big gas guzzling SUVs.

Despite all the trouble he wants to take just to save us ten cents a litre on gas, Ford will find that the oil companies fix the price of gas, not politicians. The oil companies have already told us that gas will be over $1.50 a litre by the end of summer. Dougie’s effort will be like pissing in the wind.

And I am waiting for him to let convenience stores across the province sell beer and wine. We expect a lot of scrabbling to retract on that promise.

Another promise that probably should not be kept is the one to reduce hydro bills by another 12 per cent. Dougie has three choices on that promise. The first choice is to forget it. The second choice is to just transfer the cost to all taxpayers. And the third is to continue to add to the long-term debt of Ontario Hydro and let future generations pay the price, plus interest.

Anyway, there are lots of other foolish promises and we will have a better idea what happens to them depending on the cabinet member responsible. Some might not have an easy job.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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