Posts Tagged ‘McGuinty’

Premier McGuinty certainly leaves a legacy

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

It must have been an inside joke at the Toronto Star. An opinion piece this morning lauded Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty for his contribution to education in Ontario. It even compared McGuinty favourably with former Ontario Premier Bill Davis. Frankly, Bill Davis might have grounds to sue everyone involved for defamation.

This is not to say that Bill did not make his own mistakes as Premier. The fact that the writer of the Star opinion piece is a professor connected to The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto speaks volumes. We all hope that when OISE ever figures out what it is supposed to do, it does not come as a surprise to Bill. Of course, he really deserves the credit for creating TVOntario—an outstanding educational channel—and for the development of Ontario’s community college system which has constantly proved of major economic benefit to the province. We might be a little less forgiving for the straightjacket Bill put us in by expanding the funding to Catholic schools.

But full-day kindergarten is not a legacy. It is like forcing earlier potty training. It might be a trauma that can come back to haunt you as an adult.

Where McGuinty is like Bill Davis is in being right wing. While Bill has always prided himself on his being a staunch Conservative, his heart is in the right place and he is a compassionate person. McGuinty is not. For him to blame the Liberal’s former friends, the teachers, for Ontario’s deficit is a guarantee of the party losing the next provincial election.  And yet he backed off on his fight with the doctors. He lost with them.

Where we in Ontario benefitted from McGuinty was that the repairs needed to correct the often dangerous cutbacks of the Harris Conservative regime had to be put in place cautiously. To just restore the cutbacks without that caution could have lead to serious financial problems.

But, in the long run, the caution and conservatism were overdone. Poor Tiny Tim Hudak, the Conservative leader, must have felt redundant at times with McGuinty outdoing him on the political right. Even in Mike Harris’ heyday, nobody in the Conservative caucus would have dreamed up a bill as draconian as Bill 115. The fact that the bill has been used against some of the teachers seems to be Dalton McGuinty’s real legacy.

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Copyright 2013 © Peter Lowry

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

Who said Harper is an economist?

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

When Canada’s premiers meet later this week to discuss Canada’s economic problems, they can do it without Stephen Harper. The Prime Minister rejected their invitation. He is letting Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney fill in for him. After all, Harper flies around the world giving economic advice, why should he waste his wisdom on Canada?

And besides, Stephen Harper might have trained as an economist but he has never shown any desire to practice that obscure science. From the time when he travelled west to join with Preston Manning’s Reform Party, Stephen Harper has remained aloof from sharing any expertise on economic matters. Even after leaving Manning to become head of the National Citizen’s Coalition, he has dealt in demagoguery and economics be damned.

What Canadians need to recognize is that all that expensive taxpayer-funded government advertising for an Economic Action Plan has absolutely nothing to do with economics. It is a name for a lame government program that squeezes money out of municipal taxpayers for infrastructure renewal programs. It has left gullible municipal councils across Canada locked into heavy debt with only the local taxpayers to pay off the long-term costs. And if the Bank of Canada ever turns loose the interest rate screws, there will be more than a few bankrupt municipalities wondering what happened.

It appears recently that both Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and Stephen Harper need to get their act together on the financial direction of the Canadian government. It seems their plan to rid Canadians of the deficit of some $26 billion before the next election is not going to work. Hell, it never had a chance. Canada is far too vulnerable to American and world economic problems and ridding Canadians of the deficit by firing thousands of federal civil servants is about as stupid a solution as we can imagine.

What really bugs us on a daily basis is Harper’s friend Premier Dalton McGuinty of Ontario who also wants to wrestle the provincial deficit to the mat. He is doing it by stabbing his former friends, the teachers in the back. He thinks he can pass legislation making them work for less. Maybe somebody told him that would not work and he decided to quit in a fit of pique. At least something good came out of the mess.

But that leaves us with a premiers’ meeting in Halifax later this week with a lame-duck guy from Ontario, an already discredited PQ Premier from Quebec, people nobody knows in the East and pugnacious premiers from the West who have their own battles.

There might be some posturing in Halifax but overall, the meeting is a waste of time. We could easily end up with a couple vitriolic elections in Ontario and Quebec next year but they will hardly be a substitute for the voters getting their teeth into Harper and his crew. We have to blame somebody.

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Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry

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

Ontario’s prudent provincial premier?

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

We have not seen the last of Premier Dalton McGuinty yet. His stigma stays with us like a bad smell. The supercilious Toronto Star made it worse today with a laudatory editorial about the coming provincial leadership race. It called the race “well-timed.” It even referred to McGuinty’s edict about cabinet members resigning, if they wish to run, as “prudent.” That is the last adjective we would use for McGuinty after the way he has botched things for Ontario’s Liberals.

And what makes the Toronto Star think that a provincial leadership campaign can be run effectively over the holiday season? They have obviously never experienced what can happen in winter when you are trying to get a candidate the most exposure to the possible convention delegates. It tends to confirm the impression that the Toronto Star’s world ends at Highway 7.

And where does the editorial writer get off saying the fee for entering the race is just $50,000? That is just the registration. What does the writer think of the 25 per cent toll charge on fund raising? That can add another $125,000 to the fees. That is onerous, unfair, undemocratic and greedy.

What this Ontario Liberal leadership race is designed to do is give us another Dalton McGuinty. It is someone who can quickly and easily ask friends to pony up as much as $675,000 while resigning his or her cabinet post. Outsiders are not welcome.

Any of the cabinet hopefuls who cannot forego a third of their income for three months during the contest should not be in it.

The editorial writer thinks the stakes are high because some of the key cabinet members will be away from their jobs while running for the leadership. Actually, the reverse might be true. We have always thought of Treasurer Dwight Duncan as the cork in the bottle of Ontario’s finances. And whatever Deb Mathews has been doing wrong with the doctors might have a chance to be corrected while she runs for the premier’s job. The truth of the matter is that being in Dalton McGuinty’s cabinet is enough to turn Ontario voters against any new premier.

We do agree with the editorial writer when making the statement at the end of an overly long and boring piece that “it’s important that the best possible person be chosen.” Yes it is. It is just too bad that nobody seems to know how to do that!

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Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry

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

Ontario Liberals deny democracy.

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

In a world where there are those who want to build for the future and those who want to control the future, the Ontario Liberal Party managers must be control freaks. They are making the rules to pick a successor to Premier Dalton McGuinty. There will be no dilettantes, crazies, left-wingers, policy mavens or other trouble makers allowed. In seeking to replace Dalton McGuinty, the party seems to want someone just like him.

In making the announcement, Ottawa MPP and Party President Yasir Naqvi was the perfect foil. A proud first-generation Canadian, Naqvi would not necessarily recognize that what was being promulgated was wrong. What he needed to do before announcing his executive’s decisions about the leadership of the Ontario party was ask why the federal rules for its leadership contest are so different.

In a political environment that seeks inclusion, the Ontario party executive chose a closed, delegated convention. In a political environment that seeks broad options, the party executive chose to discriminate. These people have the temerity to put a toll gate outside the leader’s office to keep the riff-raff in their place. The price tag for entry is an initial fee of $50,000 and then another $125,000 must be given to the party if you want to raise and spend the $500,000 limit.

At a time when Ontario is desperate for new thinking and new leadership, the Ontario executive has locked the door to almost all but people tarred with being McGuinty’s fellow travellers. If you were not in a McGuinty cabinet, your chances are slim. The only person willingly admitting that he might go for the brass ring today is Finance Minister Dwight Duncan. The selection of Duncan would pretty well guarantee that the Liberals would be trashed in the election everyone at Queen’s Park expects early in the spring.

This self destructive bent of Liberal party organizations is a tradition that we have lived with for many years. It is as though Liberals cannot walk and chew gum at the same time. If we want to win in Ottawa, we forget about Queen’s Park. If Ottawa is hopeless, we invade the Ontario Legislature.

Liberals need to look ahead.

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Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry

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

Dalton does the right thing.

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

If someone had told us what was to happen on the six pm news last night, we would have arranged for the brass band. Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty’s speech was a bit of a tease. At one point it sounded as though he was about to call an election but that made no sense as he would not have needed to prorogue the legislature earlier in the day. An election does that automatically.

Dalton ended his leadership of the Ontario Liberals as far to the right of the political spectrum as when he first appeared 22 years ago. While he seemed more comfortable in his role, so does everyone when they have decided to move on. Dalton obviously got some very good advice on how to end the debilitating impasse at Queen’s Park. And he took it.

McGuinty got most of his ideas from Prime Minister Stephen Harper. This includes his labelling bills with positive names that bear no relationship to what they are designed to do. A recent example was the Youth Action Plan that included 32 crime prevention initiatives, many of which had little to do with youth.

But Stephen Harper is still the king of parliamentary proroguers! This was the first time, McGuinty had used that devise to save the hides of some of his cabinet colleagues.

Reflecting on the resignation today, there is no question that there is a big sigh of relief. Dalton’s plaint about Ontario’s deficit is now history. The next leader is unlikely to want to bite that bullet too soon. Even Treasurer Dwight Duncan as leader (God forbid) would not be so foolish as to risk everything on the issue.

Looking at the Liberal leadership prospects at Queen’s Park is a sad exercise. If the strongest contenders are cabinet colleagues Health Minister Deb Mathews and Treasurer Dwight Duncan, we are going to have to search outside the provincial caucus. Having the race concurrent with the federal leadership is actually a unique opportunity. And we should not forget that the Quebec Liberals are also in need of leader who is not as far to the right as the last one.

The one thing that we can count on for the next year is that we are going to have lots of Liberal activities to comment on.

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Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry

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

There is meaning in the Ontario by-elections

Friday, September 7th, 2012

Nobody is crowing about the results in the Ontario by-elections in Vaughan and Kitchener-Waterloo. This is not even a ‘told you so!’ It is just a simple conclusion for Premier Dalton McGuinty and Tory leader Timmy Hudak. The conclusion of this sample vote is that they both have to go.

Ontario no longer needs or wants a liberal premier who blames doctors and teachers for the province’s deficit. Calling an act to deny teachers their civil rights the Putting Students First Act is an insult to the intelligence of the voters. And expecting Kitchener-Waterloo voters to vote Liberal after buying off their sitting Conservative MPP is something only a political neophyte would seriously consider. Conservative voters in Kitchener-Waterloo did what Conservative voters always do when confronted with a silly Conservative leader and an unknown local Conservative candidate, they voted NDP.

It is hard to say how many times this has happened. And, contrary to some of the pundits, Andrea Horwath had nothing to do with it. It was not her victory. If anything, her low profile in the by-election helped the NDP candidate in Kitchener-Waterloo.

The by-election in Vaughan was also very interesting but in a different way. Running Greg Sorbara’s executive assistant and former labour leader in Vaughan for the Liberals was an easy transition. It must have been the best way for Greg Sorbara to apologize for getting out of the fiasco at Queen’s Park.

But how long Steven De Luca will want to sit quietly in caucus at Queen’s Park and listen to McGuinty’s out-of-touch Whig philosophy is a good question. At least, with his background, he knows what he is getting into.

Both McGuinty and Hudak are a drag on their parties. Tiny Tim Hudak is a sad joke carried over from the moribund Michael Harris Conservatives. Dalton McGuinty is just as sadly out of touch with the real world. There is still some hope for Horwath. The lady needs to lose about 15 kilos and some of her union backers along with gaining a better insight into the needs of Ontario voters. The good news is the Liberal and NDP caucuses are going to have a higher average intelligence quotient after these by-elections.

But the sooner the Liberals get a new leader who understands the needs of 21st Century Ontario the better. The Conservatives are in need an entirely new brain trust. Just because many of your followers are out of touch with reality is no excuse for the leader to be like them.

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Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry

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

Ontario’s schizophrenic Whigs.

Sunday, April 29th, 2012

We hate to talk so much about Ontario’s Whigs but we are worried about them. We have never heard of collective schizophrenia before. To see signs of disconnection with reality, actions that are unrelated to intent and such obvious delusions from the Ontario government are matters of very serious concern. Maybe if the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) adds some shrinks to its bargaining unit, their next sit-down with the government negotiators might give us some answers.

It is getting so bad that recently one of Ontario’s top medical teaching specialists—one of the guys who earns and actually deserves more than $500,000 a year—ignored the recommendations of the resident who had done the detailed examination and launched directly into one of our occasional political discussions. He said he could care less about more money but he wanted to know where the Ministry of Health was headed. There were no good answers for him.

Like him, we also had high hopes for Deb Mathews when David Caplan was dumped from the Health Ministry. Mathews has a lot going for her and she took the initial orientation in stride despite it being just in time for a tough Ontario election last year. Sure, she was blind-sided by the Ornge helicopter business but that was a legacy that was none of her doing. She is cleaning house as quickly as possible.

What confuses the electorate in Ontario is that we have a government in this province that cries poor-mouth one day and the next day tells us our economic growth is better than forecasts. The Treasurer in Ontario supplies crying towels with his neoconservative budget and then rails against the New Democrats who want a two-per cent surtax on the filthy rich. And the Treasurer has the gall to tell us that the NDP’s two-per cent surtax is “high-spending.”

What we really cannot get over is how they can brag so loudly about how their plan is working while demanding that the public sector are going to get a pay freeze. What did the civil servants do wrong that they have to be the goats?

The Whigs tell us that Ontario is a North American leader in job creation and they have yet to get any of the public sector people to agree to their pay freeze. When Standard and Poor’s put the province on ‘Watch,’ it was not a down grade. The ratings people are as curious as we are to see if the Ontario budget can actually work.

The health specialist had the last word in our budget discussion. He closed the chat by saying, ‘Lose 20 pounds by the next time you come and see me.” It makes you wonder what he might say to our chubby Ontario Treasurer Dwight Duncan.

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Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry

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

 

The need to play nice in the Ontario legislature.

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

After a particularly uninformative and poorly resolved election in Ontario last year, the political parties are not playing well together. With McGuinty’s Liberals just two seats short of a majority, everyone is posturing and giving the other guys the raspberry. It is a fractious and unproductive place.

Tiny Tim Hudak has a tenuous grip on the reins of his second place Conservatives. When the Liberals brought out their budget a few weeks ago, Tiny Tim and his team took their bats and went home to sulk. It was above their intellectual pay grade to come up with any improvement in what was basically a conservative budget anyway.

Andrea Horwath and her bunch had the balls to stay and play. They decided to use the opportunity to embarrass McGuinty’s bumblers and their budget. Horwath used the Chinese torture technique and dribbled out the conditions for cooperation over the interval. McGuinty played into her hands by swinging at the first pitch. He did not understand that she was just warming up.

What hit pay dirt with Ontario’s voters was Horwath’s proposal to tax the rich. That got them. It was simplistic. The public was tuned in to it because of the ‘Occupy’ movement. And McGuinty had stupidly promised that he would not raise taxes. Why he had made such a promise was not clear to anyone. All it does is give legitimacy to the Conservatives and their extremist supporters.

And now all the kids are positioning themselves for an election. An election at this stage would be like the book Hunger Games, only nobody wins. It hardly takes a genius to realize that by destroying McGuinty, Horwath will let Tiny Tim and the horde of the Ontario Landowners through the gates of Ontario’s Capitol.

Not that an election is not needed. Our problem in Ontario is that we have three party leaders who really need to go. Dalton McGuinty is a noose around the neck of the Liberals. He is right wing, unimaginative, dull and hardly what Ontario needs at this time.

Andrea Horwath has never been able to live up to her potential. Every time she shows a bit of smarts, she surprises herself and she pulls her head back into her shell. If she had just paid attention to what Jack Layton did with the federal wing of her party in the last election. He obviously knew he had nothing to lose and he went for the brass ring. The result was not pretty but he did it.

But then you think of how the party of Bill Davis in Ontario has sunk so low. Tiny Tim Hudak is not only an embarrassment to the former Progressive Conservatives but the Ontario Landowners and Harrisites also want him gone. Maybe if they send him on a world cruise during an election he might give his party a chance.

The question is: Which party can get rid of its leader first?

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Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry

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

Babel hears from the Ontario Legislature.

Friday, January 6th, 2012

Babel has heard from its man at Queen’s Park.  The electoral district sent Mr. Jackson there in early October.  We received mail from him this week and he also signed an article in the Examiner.  There is little to say about the mailing piece; the recycle bin was already filled with copies from our neighbours, so we added ours.  The Examiner article, we read.

The first thing that was obvious about the article was that our new Member of the Provincial Parliament has not spent his time taking a journalism course.  This was written for him.  It was very modest of him to only have his name at the beginning and end of the article.  Usually something like this is written as a news release and the MPP’s name is worked into every second paragraph.

The story was based on Statistics Canada’s release of unemployment figures in October of last year.  It also picked up on Conservative Leader Tim Hudak’s mid-December release that linked unemployment to the perceived weaknesses of Ontario’s apprenticeship programs.  Whoever wrote the MPP’s article, failed to include the information on the subject from the mayor’s blog at Babel’s city hall Internet site.

The more timely response by Babel’s mayor to the unemployment figures last October pointed out the problem was that Statscan emphasized the donut hole instead of the donut.  The mayor, justifiably, complained that Statscan made headlines of the unemployment and ignored the similarly high rate of employment.  It is a factor of the average age of people in Babel.  With its younger population, Babel is also near the top of the charts of the percentage of people employed.

Tiny Tim Hudak’s December release was just to blame Premier McGuinty for all of Ontario’s unemployment woes.  This was hardly a surprise.  What was confusing was that he explained that Ontario only allowed one new apprentice for every four journeyman trades persons in the province.  While not a trained economist such as the Leader of the Opposition at Queen’s Park, we must admit that the ratio rule makes absolutely no sense.  Surely there are various trades that need more apprentices and some that need fewer apprentices.  Is nobody doing any forecasting in this?

But our earnest MPP gives a plug to Georgian College for its efforts with apprenticeship programs.  We expect we can all agree with that as we face a new year in Babel with renewed determination.

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Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry

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

Should we kill all the lawyers?

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

Having been active in business, charities and politics, one gets to know many lawyers.  Some of them are quite civilized and likable people.  Despite this, there is a strong tendency to agree with William Shakespeare’s character in Henry VI, Part 2 who suggested that (to have an effective revolution) first we have to kill all the lawyers.  In Shakespeare’s time, the line probably had even the lawyers in the audience laughing.

At a neighbourhood get-together the other evening, a lawyer made the mistake of claiming that lawyers are put on earth to assure us less fortunate people of access to the law.  The reaction to his claim was spontaneous and bordered on the rude.  Of course, in his field of law, he has every right to feel proud of what he is able to do for people.  It is just that lawyers themselves are often guilty of promoting bad jokes about lawyers.

To many of us, the lawyer is seen as someone with their hand out, waiting for the rest of us to pay our tithes for access to the law.  Without legal training, your way is barred.  Even in small claims court in Ontario where having legal counsel is not always necessary, we have noted that court-ordered settlements tend to be more generous when lawyers are involved—probably to pay their fees.

But lawyers have been with us since before the days of Cicero in ancient Rome.  In Robert Harris’ wonderful novel Imperium, he showed how inseparable lawyers were from politics as far back as Cicero’s time.  Mind you, assassination was one of the alternatives to having more votes back then, so you would have expected politicians to be a bit more cautious in making enemies.

Politicians in our day need not be quite as concerned.  If they are also lawyers, they can look after themselves quite nicely, thanks to the voters.

If, for example, you have ever struggled with condominium law in Ontario, you can quickly learn what an ass, the law can be.  Condominium law, in this province, is probably the best example of lawyers looking after lawyers you will ever see.  The elected board of directors of a condo community is treated in the act as though they are incompetents—and can be.

Of all failures of Ontario lawyer-politicians, the most offensive was the response to Toronto Police Chief William Blair when he asked about laws supporting his expanded police force for the G20 in Toronto.  He was given the wrong and outdated act under which he was to operate that even he knew had to be wrong.  Nobody stepped up to take the blame.  Premier Dalton McGuinty (a lawyer) and his pack of lawyers at Queen’s Park disgraced our province!

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Copyright 2011 © Peter Lowry

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