Posts Tagged ‘Horwath’

Ontario votes in June.

Monday, January 22nd, 2018

While political pundits have obviously thought long and hard on Ontario Premier Wynne’s possible political problems this spring, I doubt her main concern is misogyny. Nobody is mad at her for being a woman and not many voters give a darn about her being in a lesbian relationship. That is not what the provincial vote on June 7 is about.

The vote will be about the Liberal government of Kathleen Wynne and the political hopes of the Progressive Conservative party of Patrick Brown and the New Democratic Party of Andrea Horwath. If you do not like those three options, you might have a Green Party or some independent candidate to consider in your electoral district. And you have the best part of five months to make your decision. Most Ontario citizens will not even think about the election until maybe sometime late in May.

While supposedly neutral, news media pundits wring their hands about the Liberals being in power in Ontario for the past 14 years, that is hardly a record. It was the government that brought the province through the most serious financial crash since the Great Depression while phasing out coal-fired electricity production and introducing all-day kindergarten. And even with the recent uptick in the minimum wage, unemployment is now at an amazingly low number.

When Kathleen Wynne took over as premier, she had already earned this writer’s enmity. I was hardly impressed by the chicanery she pulled in gaining the party leadership. (To be fair, her skulduggery was far less blatant than the underhanded way Patrick Brown used to take over his party’s leadership.)

But, on balance, you have to admit that the Wynne government has done a pretty good job. She should never have listened to that banker who told her to sell off the electrical distribution in the province. Her expansion of beer and wine distribution to large grocery stores became a long-playing joke. And yet, her government deserves a lot of credit for helping improve seniors’ pensions, providing a list of common medicines free to children and young people, and finally getting the minimum wage heading towards a living wage.

In the meantime, the Conservatives are falling all over each other hoping to get some blowback in the election. The worst thing for their hopes would be a strong NDP. If Leader Andrea Horwath continues to bumble along, it will not help the Liberals’ chances. A strong third party could force a minority and it is one of the possibilities we will be looking at as the election gets closer.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Naughty or Nice: Ontario’s Andrea Horwath.

Friday, December 22nd, 2017

Not many of us in Ontario feel we know Andrea Horwath. After 12 years in the Ontario Legislature, eight-years as leader of the Ontario New Democrats and through two general elections since becoming leader, you would expect to know her better. It is a sign of the ennui of the NDP that she has not been replaced. She is the best they have got.

But she still makes Santa’s “Nice” list. Her only likely replacement decamped to become leader of the federal party this year and he has hardly been missed. We will cover Jagmeet Singh next week with the federal leaders.

Hamilton-born Andrea is 55 and it looks like our suggestions of her getting a gym membership and a personal trainer are still being ignored. It is not that Andrea and her caucus do not come up with the odd good policy idea now and then but, if it makes sense at all, the Liberals in the legislature adopt the idea as their own. There will be no greater waste of breath in the election campaign this coming spring than arguing over who thought up a version of PharmaCare first.

There is no question that Ontario has to immediately boost its minimum wage. No society should have people trying to live on a wage that is less than needed to properly cloth, feed and house themselves. For the Liberals to say wait another year is pathetic. For the Conservatives to say wait two years is disgusting. The NDP win this argument.

As you can expect of New Democrats, their platform for the spring election will be loaded with goodies for the wage earners. Equal pay for part-time workers would certainly go a long way to stabilize working conditions and resolve some of the less savoury labour practices in the province.

But for all their high-minded efforts to improve things for workers, the NDP have little hope for even standing pat with their present contingent in the legislature. With battle lines already drawn between the Conservatives and Liberals, the NDP’s only hope is for the balance of power to work with a possible minority Liberal government.

We expect another lacklustre effort by the NDP in 2018. Not even Santa can bring them the ideas and the drive needed for a winning campaign.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

It’s like a long race on turf.

Monday, October 16th, 2017

The next Ontario general election is scheduled to be held June 7, 2018. This race will be like a mile and a half on the turf track and requires horses with great endurance and energy. That makes it the time for the old and tired to retire. And that is what is happening with all parties at Queen’s Park.

As the largest party among the incumbents, the Liberals are expected to have the highest turnover.  The noisiest of the changes are among the contested nominations for the Progressive Conservative Party. The quiet changes are among the New Democratic Party which has already lost its deputy leader because he knew this branch of the party is going nowhere.

There is no question that the Queen’s Park Liberals need turnover. After 14 years in power, the party has promises to keep, legacies to earn. Neither Toronto’s Brad Duguid nor Glen Murray will be missed in cabinet or in Ontario politics. Nor do the Liberals need to keep dragging the anchor of Deb Matthews from London. The older Liz Sandals will be missed though for the calming and knowledge she brought to the education portfolio.

The conflict for Premier Wynne is that she needs to hold on to every MPP in her caucus who looks like he or she can hold their riding. There are no guarantees with the shake up in electoral district boundaries. And there is always lots of time after an election for recriminations.

Sure, Wynne should have resigned in the past year and given a new, younger leader a chance. There is no more time for that speculation. Win or lose, Wynne is what the Liberals have to offer. Hopefully there will be a comer among the younger Liberal MPPs.

But like the last election, Wynne’s strengths are experience, position and the lack of effective opposition. Not that the Conservatives are not going to continue to tear at her like a pack of wild dogs. She is no fool and she is street smart. They have no idea of what will bring her down.

If this were a turf contest at Woodbine Racetrack, none of the party leaders would be leading the pack. None of the three are good for the distance. The voters want better and deserve better.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Jagmeet Singh: Not just a pretty face.

Saturday, July 29th, 2017

The New Democratic Party’s federal leadership race is getting a little more heated. With less than two months to go, the race has taken on some disturbing aspects of the last Conservative leadership in Ontario. It is turning into Jagmeet Singh’s race to win if he is using the same tactics as Ontario Conservative winner Patrick Brown.

Brown looked at the almost one million recent immigrants in Ontario from South Asia (mainly Hindu, Sikh and Muslim from the Indian Sub-Continent) and signed up almost 40,000 temporary Conservatives. It is even easier for Jagmeet Singh to organize among this group than Brown and Singh can add another 30,000 potential supporters in B.C.

You can also assume that more than 50 per cent of the 100,000 plus NDP members are already from British Columbia and Ontario. And with all votes counting instead of balanced across the country, it is winning in those two provinces that matters.

And Quebec voters would be the least likely to support a party headed by a turbaned Sikh—no matter how much GQ Magazine admires and approves the rest of his attire.

The main difference between Conservative Brown and New Democratic Singh is that Jagmeet is a hero among the Canadian Sikh community. He has also supported Sikh candidates for the NDP across Canada.

Jagmeet (at 38) also has more life experience than contemporary Patrick Brown (at 39). Jagmeet has had considerably more experience and success as a lawyer than Brown, has proposed more bills in the Ontario Legislature than Brown did in both Ottawa and Queens’ Park and Brown would hardly want to even arm wrestle with a trained athlete such as Jagmeet.

Oddly enough neither Brown nor Singh has much to say about their policy direction. Brown does not seem to have any and Singh seems to be hoeing to the standard New Democratic policy book.

Whether either of these two men is at all ready to lead their respective parties anywhere is a very large question mark. The knives will be out for Brown after the next election in Ontario in June 2018. Jagmeet Singh would be wise to ride out that election as Ontario Deputy Leader and be ready to take over as Ontario leader when Andrea Horwath steps down. In the meantime, he can study where the NDP’s future might be.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Is there any hope for Horwath?

Monday, July 17th, 2017

Every once in a while, we are reminded that there are three parties at play for the right to hold the lease on the Pink Palace looking down University Avenue from Queen’s Park. We know lots about the Liberals that currently hold the lease. We know more than we want to know about the Conservatives and their corrupt leadership. What has us stumped is the lack of direction of Ontario’s New Democratic Party.

It is easy to blame NDP Leader Andrea Horwath. After eight years of her desultory leadership, you really wonder about the death wish of her and her party. If she ever had a good idea, the Liberals have stolen it. And she spends most of her time trying to explain why the Liberals are not going far enough or fast enough. Even when she is right, she does not have the political smarts to take advantage of being right.

Earlier this year, Horwath received a letter signed by 34-longtime party supporters in the Toronto area questioning her leadership. Frankly, they could have asked ‘What leadership?’ The very fact that one of those signatures was that of long-time NDP supporter Michele Landsberg, wife of former party leader Stephen Lewis, was serious enough.

You would think that Horwath would take some of this criticism to heart. She seems to have no understanding of the art of leadership. She almost seems to be apologizing for her concerns. Her policies appear to be borrowed from the right wing rather than developed on the left. She seems to lack any understanding at all for social democratic politics and where those politics could take us.

Given the chance to reprise her almost absent-minded campaign of 2014, Horwath will find herself well behind the political sentiment of the province. People are uneasy about the stability of the recently improved economy. The number of jobs might be growing but how many are part-time, lacking benefits and insecure? They see the political situation in the United States as dangling us over a precipice. They are worried about the chances of bringing the continued turmoil of the Middle East to North America.

What all Ontario parties lack is leadership. There is no trust for any of the three leaders or their parties. Leadership polls at this stage are meaningless. The election is scheduled for next June and somebody has to get serious.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

On being nice to Premier Wynne.

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

It could be hard to get used to doing this. The problem basically is that as a liberal all my life, it is very difficult to accept Kathleen Wynne as a liberal. She is not a liberal and I do not like the way she has been running Ontario.

But…(life is full of ‘Buts’ isn’t it?) what is the alternative? Our provincial New Democrats cannot find their way across Yonge Street. The NDP in this province has no future and appears to have no plans for one.

And the Ontario Conservatives are something mothers use to frighten disobedient children. The current leader of the Tories stole the leadership a couple years ago and since then has been searching for conservatives.

And Ontario’s Greens have never been in contention for anything.

Which brings us back to Granny Wynne. That woman has a death grip on the door to the Premier’s office. What she is really doing is threatening to take us back to the awful days of Mike Harris as Premier. Only this time, the choice is a political manipulator named Patrick Brown.

Kathleen Wynne tells everyone that she got into politics because of Mike Harris. The only reason she joined the Liberal Party was because Mike Harris was a Conservative. She thought the Liberals had a chance of unseating Harris.

But politically, Wynne is a reactionary. There is nothing progressive about her. She jumped into politics to fight against Harris’ move to amalgamate Metropolitan Toronto into a single city. It was probably the only progressive move he ever made. What Harris did not know to do was to give the politicians at Toronto City Hall the power to do their jobs. Anyone who thinks that city is well run needs to give their head a shake.

And how do you like the way Wynne sells off hydro distribution but leaves the liquor board wallowing in excess profits. If she had sold off the LCBO, the province could have made billions and still kept the revenue.

Not to mention the water torture she is putting us through in gradually introducing grocery store distribution of beer and wines. And have we seen any improvement in our Canada Pension Plan recently?

Yes, the bad news folks is that Granny Wynne might be your only choice in the election next year.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Granny Wynne knows best.

Sunday, June 25th, 2017

The current argument between Ontario’s New Democrats and the Ontario Liberals is like a school yard spat over who did what. It is not only childish but it makes both sides of the argument look foolish. They are arguing over who thought of having a mediocre pharmacare plan first. Neither side has much of which to be very proud.

The point is that not having a universal pharmacare program works at cross purposes to the intent of Canada’s Medicare program. It means that those of us who take our meds are paying more for them and those who cannot afford them, fail to take them and drive up the cost of Medicare.

It is good to see that the NDP are thinking about real needs. Just why they would suggest that only the 125 most commonly prescribed drugs be free to the public is something that only they can explain. It is like saying ‘Tough beans’ to those with an uncommon problem. Since the Liberals are offering to fund the full 4000 or so listed drugs up until age 25, that must be saying ‘Tough beans’ to those between 25 and 65—which does not make really good sense either.

But you have to give this round to Granny Wynne and her Liberals. A small step in the right direction is better than no progress at all. Even the Ontario health minister, Eric Hoskins, has been pitching pharmacare to anyone who would listen for years.

Mind you we started calling the Ontario premier Granny because anything she was going to do took a long time to happen. It is similar to when she finally admitted that the Ontario minimum wage should be $15 per hour. Did she launch it in reasonable time? No. She is taking two years and staging the increase over that time.

The one strong benefit of this pharmacare plan is that of the intense pressure on a Liberal or New Democrat government (should one or the other get elected next year) will be to complete the universality of the plan. The likelihood of any Conservative government doing anything other than finding ways of cutting back the plan would be extremely unlikely.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

The poster boy and the NDP.

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

Charlie Angus meet Jagmeet Singh. No doubt Charlie Angus MP, candidate for the New Democratic Party leadership has met Jagmeet Singh MPP, the newest candidate for the NDP leadership, before, but not likely as a competitor. The only surprise about this meeting is that both these gentlemen are in the same political party.

What is also obvious is that the 38-year old turbaned Sikh is in the wrong party. This is also the problem he has as deputy leader of the Ontario NDP and it will follow him into the leadership race for the federal party. Jagmeet Singh is not a union man. He seems to have had little or no experience with unions. With the ongoing role of unions in the NDP, that could be a liability.

That lack of understanding of the New Democrats and their socialist past by Jagmeet Singh has been obvious for some time. All you have to do is read back through the bills he has presented to the Ontario Legislature during his six years there representing Bramalea-Gore-Malton. You will see a person who is concerned with individual rights more than the collective rights of unions. Jagmeet Singh would probably be comfortable in a more progressive Liberal Party.

It is easier for a guy like Charlie Angus to deal with the problems that the unions present. He stood up to his Catholic church on the question of same-sex marriage and he is used to the rough and tumble of Northern Ontario union activists.

But the double problem for Ontario is that the union movement has been losing ground as well as seeing some key unions (temporarily, maybe) shifting over to support the Liberals. The New Democrats have not handled these problems well and both federal and provincial parties have been losing in the polls. Thomas Mulcair federally and Andrea Horwath provincially have been feeling the shifting ground that they stand on and you could see in recent elections the problems they faced in trying to tell us where their party is going.

While Jagmeet might already have the notoriety as one of the best dressed New Democrats or Sikhs in Canada, most interest will be in what he will say in the leadership about where the NDP is headed. This is a party that is desperately in need of some direction—and the contestants so far, Ashton, Angus, Caron and Julian, have come across as an anemic barbershop quartet.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

The piecemeal processes of Premier Wynne.

Sunday, April 30th, 2017

“Ladies and gentlemen and children of all ages: Let me draw your attention to the left ring of our three-ring circus. Here for your entertainment and edification is our finance minister who has just passed the miracle of a balanced budget. Charles Sousa will now amaze you further by proposing a new pharmacare program to swamp the proposal of the NDP.”

And he did. In his geared-for-election budget, the Ontario finance minister proposed a piecemeal pharmacare program for Ontario residents under the age of 25. It is the same drug benefit program that applies to seniors and people receiving provincial support. The difference from what the New Democrats proposed is that it applies to the gamut of 4400 listed drugs as opposed to the more restrictive list of the most commonly used 125 prescription drugs as proposed by the NDP.

All it does though is remind Ontario voters of the penchant of the Liberal government for doing things piecemeal. When their banker advised them to sell off the electricity distribution system in Ontario, they broke it into small lots and started selling off a bit at a time. It helped remind Ontario voters each time that they will end up contributing to the profits for those buyers.

It was the same when the province’s banker advised them to sell wine and beer in grocery stores. They thought that was such a great idea that they announced it several times, added hard ciders for another couple media events and spaced the selection of stores over a couple years so that they could have lots more media events. And in the meantime, nobody knows which grocer is selling beer and which is not.

It is as though the Wynne Liberals have decided that if anything is worth doing, it can best be done many times. That will leave the final stage of having pharmacare for those between 25 and 64—that we should have had since the beginning of Medicare in Canada.

Since Ontario has 40 per cent of Canada’s population, the federal government will get into the act at some stage and make it universal in Canada.

Mind you, that genius Ontario PC Leader Patrick Brown complained about this program needing a means test. It will be interesting to see how he will apply a means test to children. He should hardly be concerned about the parents paying for them. They will anyway in their taxes but it will be much less because of the buying power of the government and the fact we will have healthier kids, more likely taking their prescribed medicines.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

A liberal look at leadership.

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

Ontario Liberals are finally realizing that there is a problem at Queen’s Park. It appears to be endemic. It affects every political party on the premises. It is the serious lack of leadership. Even the Liberal Party backbenchers are drawing lots to see who will be the Cassius who drives the first (rhetorical) knife in the back of Premier Kathleen Wynne.

Wynne has done what she could. She has been driving a tired and worn-out Liberal horse and buggy for too long. It needs to be refreshed, re-challenged and recharged for the good of the province. It is a party that desperately needs to see a new future.

But the future is not a feature with Wynne. She is a North Toronto right wing reactionary. She won the leadership of the Liberal Party by trickery and manipulation. Her deal with the devil seemed to have been with former Ontario Premier David Peterson and fellow candidate Glen Murray, MPP for the adjoining Toronto electoral district.

Looking at the news media’s selection of possible replacements does not fill our heart with cheer. MPPs such as Eric Hoskins and Charles Sousa could not dump their campaigns fast enough in the last leadership convention to climb aboard the Wynne bandwagon. They were looked after; not the voters.

At the same time, MPPs Steven Del Luca from Vaughan, Yasir Naqvi from Ottawa, Michael Coteau from Toronto (East York) and Mitzie Hunter from Toronto (Scarborough) are all fresher cabinet faces with potential. Each of the them might be able to talk about their vision for Ontario if out from under the oppressive leadership of Kathleen Wynne.

And, do not forget Sandra Pupatello. She is not to be confused with the lacklustre regime of Kathleen Wynne as she was not in the Legislature at the time. She has the experience, the drive and the ideas that could work for us.

In the meantime, Kathleen Wynne is saying that her reduction of costs for electric power will pay political dividends next year. What that remaining time means for this government is more time for the opposition parties to develop their strategies. While few are impressed with the leadership of either party, nobody says Conservative Patrick Brown or New Democrat Andrea Horwath are stupid.

Without concrete and visible action by the Liberals over the next 12 months, they will be going into an election campaign bound and ready for slaughter. The best action might be an entirely new leadership, new direction and new faces on the firing line with the voters.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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