Posts Tagged ‘McGinty’

They’re off, in the quadrennial Ontario stakes.

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

They’re at post! They’re off.  Ho-hum.  Despite all good intentions to mix federal, provincial and municipal activities in this blog, it must be reported that while there are a couple good federal and municipal stories on hold, awaiting further research, nothing much is happening.  The feds are laying low and plotting and the municipal crowd took most of the summer off.

That leaves us with the Andrea, Dalton and Timmy show.  The three of them officially went into high gear today.  The phoney war is over.  The real campaign can finally begin.  It shows us the foolishness of fixed election dates.  We see it in the continuous campaigning in the U.S. with their two and four year election cycles and now Ontario’s fixed elections every four years.  People are actually bored with the election campaign before it officially begins.

The guy to beat in the Ontario race is Dalton.  He had a 16-seat edge in the legislature just ended and his handlers are desperately trying to give him a personality implant.  They might be wasting their time.  Nobody has ever proved that a personality is necessary in Ontario.  You only have to go back to the 1950s when Leslie Frost won three majority governments in a row in 1951, 1955 and 1959 to realize just how boring a premier can be.  Boring works.

Young Timmy Hudak, the provincial Conservative challenger, has his work cut out for him.  Earlier this year, Timmy had a lead in the polls and started to race for the finish line while Dalton sat back and watched.  Timmy has never taken the tortoise and hare stories seriously and he is now getting all kinds of advice from worried Ontario Tories.  Most expected him to stick to his Mike Harris persona.  Some are concerned about him playing footsy with the neo-conservative Ontario Landowners Association.  Others think he should be more like Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.  What is happening is that he is conflicted and having trouble remembering his lines.  This is no time for him to be trying to figure out where he is going.

The one really wondering where she is going is Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath.  She is trying her damnedest to figure out the impact of national leader Jack Layton’s death on her party.  She knows she will gain but how much is the question.  Her best bet is to say nothing, look good and accept the fallout.  Her party has no idea where it is going anyway.


Copyright 2011 © Peter Lowry

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The choice in Ontario on October 6.

Sunday, August 21st, 2011

It is hard to imagine voting in the October six election in Ontario for anyone other than the Liberal candidate.  It is not a happy vote.  It is more along the lines of a defensive action.  Have you looked at the alternatives to McGuinty?

Hudak and friends simply cannot be allowed to happen.  The Conservative leader and candidates such as the one running for that party in Babel would be a disaster for the province.  And why would Babel voters want another nebbish like their federal MP?

“But what about Horwath?” is the question.  The answer is that just because she is the only leader with a personality hardly makes her and her party an option.  Any business person who tried to work with the Bob Rae NDP government back in the 1990s would remember how awful an experience that was.  You had to deal with cabinet ministers who had no concept of the job required from them and their advisers who seemed to be chosen for their equal level of ignorance.  This is no time for another amateur hour.

That is the only thing Premier McGuinty has got going for him: incumbency.  If he could ever get his priorities right, he could make a fair to middling premier.  He is in nothing but trouble on his healthcare file.  Deb Mathews, as Health Minister, has been covering well but nobody can possibly juggle all those problems for too long.  When she misses one of those balls, there is no telling where it will land.

One of the least understood problems with healthcare is the discrimination doctors are practicing against seniors.  Throughout the province, seniors are learning that they can no longer choose their doctor and they will be lucky to find one who will be concerned about their health needs.  And they have every right to feel angry about it.

The energy file in Ontario seems more like a ponzi scheme than an honest attempt to promote renewable energy.  How long can we pay 60 cents per kilowatt hour for energy we resell for about 10 cents per kilowatt hour?  No wonder Samsung loves us and will build four new wind and solar energy plants for Ontario.

All-day kindergarten is wonderful program for children.  It is the timing that sucks!  Who said we can afford it?

This is one of those times that we have to admit that the cure for McGuinty is worse than the disease.  We have no choice on October six.


Copyright 2011 © Peter Lowry

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The hollowness of political promises.

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

You have to love political promises.  They cost the person promising them nothing.  They are only creative when the voters do not recognize instantly that they are being bribed with their own money.  Take the recent promise by Ontario Premier Dalton McGinty to make GO Transit give you your money back if your commuter train is late. It was a brilliant offer.

The offer was also meaningless.  It played to a demographic in which McGinty is neither warmly nor overwhelmingly approved.  Suburban commuters using GO trains tend to be upscale in income, small-C conservative if they have a political leaning and are not overly interested in the political scene.  Almost all have families waiting for them when they get home and if only four per cent of their trips are delayed, that is too many.

These commuters are going to see the money-back guarantee as their right and you would have a hard time getting them to understand that it is a false promise.  First of all, the exceptions covered in the small print are going to mean very few of these refunds will ever be made.  There might also be a tendency among GO employees to see if they can blame one of the exceptions before paying.  And even if you do get your money back a few times, the increased expense for GO will be paid with higher fares.

The people unhappy with this election promise are GO executives who recognize that this offer will be a pain in the ass rather than good customer relations.  Since they work for the politicians, they know to keep their thoughts on this to themselves.

The only other people who might be displeased are New Democrat Leader Andrea Horwath and Conservative Leader Tim Hudak.  They will be glaring at their staff people who are supposed to be coming up with these ideas and asking why McGinty got there first.  If they come back at McGinty with promises of giving double the cash back, the GO Transit execs will really start to worry.

McGinty can claim that the point he was making is that GO Transit is much better than the old Canadian National Railways passenger service.  We always used to consider CN to be on time if it arrived on the right day.


All material in this blog is copyright © Peter Lowry

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The argument is not about human rights.

Monday, August 15th, 2011

When Conservative Leader Tim Hudak and Liberal Leader Dalton McGuinty argue about Ontario’s Human Rights Tribunal system, they are hardly arguing about human rights.  While it is confusing trying to follow Tim Hudak’s various flip-flops on the issue, they appear to be arguing over who is best at looking after the province’s lawyers.

In his earlier and more simplistic stance to get rid of the Human Rights Tribunal, Hudak was taking the Libertarian approach to please the extremists on the far right of his party.  In suggesting, at the time, that the courts should handle human rights cases, he was offering fatter, longer running and profitable cases for lawyers.  Even with his ill-defined offer to fix the existing ‘kangaroo court’ tribunals, it sounds as though he might be suggesting they be a more restrictive, legalized process.

There is no question that McGuinty’s approach is also legal aid for lawyers.  As a lawyer, himself, he understands that with all the lawyers in Ontario, they need help to make a living.  McGuinty sees nothing wrong with hiring a law professor to ensure that the human rights system is protecting people in Ontario.  What is wrong is that the system is already too much of a legal system.  What it really needs to be is a fair system.  There is a difference between the law and fairness.  People mistakenly refer to the law as justice.  They are two different things.

If someone is seeking compensation for their wounded feelings for a real or supposed discriminatory act, they probably should have a lawyer represent them.

But the province needs to ensure that people can have easy access to Human Rights Tribunals without being forced to hire a lawyer.  They need to shut down these quasi-judicial hearing and assess a complaint for what it is.  Tribunals held over a telephone connection are intimidating and unfair.  Hearings chaired by lawyers, playing at being a judge, are neither satisfactory nor necessarily trustworthy.   There also needs to be an easy appeal process for people who feel they have been denied fairness.

The problem is that the law fails to keep up to what society recognizes as fair.  For example, there is still rampant discrimination in Ontario based on age.  We can hardly forgive this discrimination just because the law has not caught up.

We have no choice but to choose the McGuinty approach over Hudak’s in these circumstances.  It is just too bad that McGuinty thinks like a lawyer.


All material in this blog is copyright © Peter Lowry

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The G20 excesses were crimes against humanity.

Saturday, August 13th, 2011

By now, the onion skin layers of the Toronto G20 case have been peeled back to the rotten core.  We know the who and whys of what was the most egregious abuse of human rights in Canada since the signing of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  The culpability of those responsible cannot be denied.

But who will charge those responsible?  Who will bring them to justice?  Who will ensure the proper punishment?  Will the punishment be sufficient to dissuade those who think of repeating these heinous crimes?  Should we charge them at the World Court in The Hague for crimes against humanity?

Then we could start with Prime Minister Harper.  It was his cavalier and excessive approach to the G8 and G20 that caused the trouble that followed.  Mind you, Tony Clement can probably be charged under the Criminal Code for his abuse of government funding in his electoral district.

Harper initiated the problems by trying to cocoon his G8 and G20 buddies.  He could have held the meetings in Iqualuit and they would not have seen anything different.  (Other than the make believe Muskoka lake might have been frozen.)

Premier Dalton McGuinty is a co-conspirator.  His Attorney General, at the time, shares the blame. As chief law officer for the province, he issued, through the Ontario Cabinet, an outdated, 1939 war-time law that did not apply to the circumstances.  His government remained silent and culpable when the police were improperly enforcing the wrong law.

And that leaves the final culprit: Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair.  The man should have been fired immediately.  In asking the Attorney General for the appropriate law, he knew what he was given was wrong.  He did not question a law that was obviously superseded by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  He did not even seek clarification of a law that was not what he asked about.

Blair earned a black eye for the Toronto Police that the force did not deserve.  It is assuring to know that the police follow orders so well but they also had the right to question orders such as they were given.  Individual officers who did not question their orders can be charged with brutality, abuse of rights, illegal incarceration and a myriad of other affronts to their fellow citizens.

Mr. Harper, Mr. McGuinty and Mr. Blair cannot be allowed to sweep this under the rug.  It must be made clear that this can never be allowed to happen in our Canada.


All material in this blog is copyright © Peter Lowry

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Busker Bob battles on.

Monday, August 8th, 2011

The buskers who entertain us on the streets while we wait for the heavy hitters have a tough job.  Even getting a little attention is encouraging for them.  Imagine how Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae feels out on the summer barbeque circuit.  In the midst of backyards full of local Liberals, a reformed New Democrat can feel lonely.

In the doldrums of summer, a little interest from the news media can be a godsend.  The media tend to act like lawyers in a courtroom and do not ask any questions to which they do not know the answers.  It saves having to write down what the interviewee is saying.

The first question is predictably about the NDP’s Jack Layton and cancer, MP Nycole Turmel and the Bloc Quebecoise.  The answer calls for the right level of concern for Jack Layton’s health and the right level of indignation about Jack’s hand-picked stand-in.  Consider the nerve of that woman to play footsie with the separatists as well as the NDP.  It is not as though Bob knows nothing of flitting between parties.

The turmoil around Turmel is also opening the door for Rae to address Prime Minister Harper’s gaffs.  He gets to make scathing comments about Mr. Harper and Harper’s friend Toronto Mayor Rob Ford to the delight of Liberal audiences.  Whether this helps Bob’s friend Dalton McGuinty remains to be seen.

If Bob could just redirect a little of that media stardom that he is presently enjoying to what Mr. Harper is currently doing in Brazil, it would be even more helpful to Canadians.  After ignoring South America, in fact, everything in the America’s south of Mexico over the past five years, Harper has a lot of catching up to do.  Not that the Liberals have a much better record in the southern half of our hemisphere.  There are economies down there that are defying the global trends and we can gain much by making more friends and doing more business.

It is just that international affairs are supposed to be Bob Rae’s specialty and he should head to that opening.  He has to remember that he is a caretaker and, if nothing else, he should keep things looking operational.


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Dalton McGuinty goes to war.

Saturday, August 6th, 2011

It is amazing.  Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty has gone to war.  It is a smart war.  It is strategic.  Why are we so surprised?

The opening salvos have been lobs.  They are firing for effect.  When McGuinty claimed Harper’s focus was on Western Canada, Harper, with few words, brushed it aside.  Harper later retaliated by saying that he wants the provincial Conservatives to win the Ontario election on October 6.  He used the analogy of a hockey hat trick.  Thinking he was speaking to a solely Conservative audience, Harper went too far by saying the ‘left-wing mess’ that he inherited in 2006 and that Rob Ford inherited in Toronto last year will be the same for (Provincial Conservative Leader) Tim Hudak in October.

This could launch a war of words that will carry through the election.  And it will be a war that Dalton McGuinty can fight alone.  Stephen Harper has stated his position and that was all that was needed from him.  Harper is now the straw man that Dalton can fight instead of Hudak.  Why fight lesser players when you can take on the Federal Conservative Leader?

It is a major strategic coup.  It denigrates Hudak to the lesser role of someone yapping from the cheap seats but not allowed in the ring with the big kids.  At the same time, it elevates McGuinty to the federal level where his federal counterparts are, at the moment, laying low.  McGuinty is more than free to attack Harper on the long-term funding needs of Medicare and on Harper’s poor stance on environmental issues.  The federal Liberals will appreciate the help.

The only risk in this for McGuinty is the NDP.  For every vote he gains in this attack on Harper, he is siphoning off some support to the Provincial NDP.  The federal and provincial members of that party are used to working together and the lack of Jack Layton’s leadership can benefit Andrea Horwath as she is the next most prominent spokesperson for the party.

The battle of Ontario is a three-way fight.  Nobody is forecasting an NDP breakthrough but it has happened before.  Nobody really believes the polls that show Tim Hudak in the lead but some people could not believe the Rob Ford would win in Toronto last year.  If you make any bets on this election today, you had better hold out for long odds.


All material in this blog is copyright © Peter Lowry

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