Posts Tagged ‘McGuinty’

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  He was given the wrong and outdated act under which he was to operate that even he knew had to be wrong.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

The way of the Whigs.

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

Now that the election is over, we can really say what we think of the Ontario government of Dalton McGuinty: very little.  As the local provincial Whig riding president said about this blog, “You hate them all but you hate Dalton the least.”  She was right.

There is no question that Tim Hudak is a disaster foretelling the end of times.  Andrea Horwath started out as promising but never performed.  Yet, it is poor Dalton and his Whigs who were destined to disappoint us the most.

Mind you, we did give Dalton the credit for all-day kindergarten.  That was something that gained general acceptance.  You just did not want to hang your hat on it.

What scared hell out of us was the ponzi scheme Dalton’s Whigs passed called a Feed-in Tariff (FIT) program for renewable energy production.  By paying various premiums for the electricity produced by sun, wind, bio-mass and water, the program promised at least a doubling of electricity prices in Ontario.  Now that the election is over, the Whigs are starting to look at putting limits on the program.

What the opposition lacked in the election—other than a sense of direction—was a clear understanding of what the emerging issues are that need answers.

And Dalton’s opponents sure missed an opportunity when an otherwise intelligent Health Minister Deb Mathews suggested general practitioners make house calls on seniors.  That would be a really great idea if we could just figure out a way to get everyone in the province a family doctor first.

What never got off the ground during the election is the growing anger over the Condominium Act and other later Acts that are overriding the Condominium Act.  With more than 500,000 Ontario residents living in condos and the number growing every week, somebody is going to have to start to care.  The mess the government is causing might be great for making lawyers rich but all that will do is make condo living affordable for only the very wealthy.

The good news is that most people recognize that Dalton is well past his use-before date.  For the next election, the Whigs will have to find another anachronism to lead them.

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Copyright 2011 © Peter Lowry

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

If ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ were candy and nuts.

Sunday, October 9th, 2011

This writer was wrong.  There, it is admitted.  We are the only blog writer in Ontario who has no excuse.  We actually thought that Premier McGuinty and his Liberals could hold on to a slim majority in the October 6 election.

But what do we know?  Talking to people in different parts of Ontario over the last week, we heard nothing but complaints.  Many people with normally strong views admitted that they had not yet made up their minds.  They would discuss their leanings and then ask for our views. A few who usually voted Liberal were thinking of voting Green as a protest.  They admitted it was a wasted vote but they felt that no party was on their side.

That was the most honest comment we got.  People felt that no party was speaking for them.  They watch costs climb and know that there is nobody to speak out about it.  And they are not concerned about luxuries.  They mention the price of bread, a pound of butter, ground beef, lettuce.  And have you priced celery lately?  People shudder at the price of a litre of gasoline and know that the Harper government will do nothing about the price fixing by the oil companies..

People are mad but have no one they trust.  The Conservative attack ads against McGuinty as the ‘Taxman’ made the point but Tim Hudak’s Conservatives did not benefit.  Hudak’s team played the bigotry and division cards and divided the province—rural against urban.  McGuinty took the north for granted and handed it to Horwath and  her NDP team.  He is premier of a house divided.

How do you predict the outcome when only half the eligible voters bothered to vote?  It came down to who was motivated.   People had plenty of opportunity to vote and yet only 600,000 people bothered to vote on the many available days of advance voting.  These advance voters were knowledgeable voters a well as those working on the election either for returning offices or for parties.

How did we expect people to vote positively when there was no leadership.  McGuinty is a wus and a dull, uninteresting party leader and premier.  The only cause he has every championed successfully is all-day kindergarten.  He is paying for renewable energy with a ponzi scheme.  He is not a liberal but a whig, mired in the 19th Century.

But Tiny Tim Hudak scared nobody.  He pandered to the extremists on the right.  He should keep the speech writer who did his speech on election night.  It was the first honest speech he made.

Andrea Horwath disappointed us.  She could have cashed in on the latent Layton sympathy but never got her act together.  She produced no clear message.  She had pissed off teachers going in to the election, lost the auto workers and then maligned the hospital workers—some unionist!  Only the north bought her.

Our late mother-in-law had many little sayings from her childhood.  She used to say “If ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ were candy and nuts, we’d all have a Merry Christmas.”  And that sums up the Ontario Legislature.

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Copyright 2011 © Peter Lowry

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

The belligerent burghers of Babel.

Friday, October 7th, 2011

They did it. They voted. They screwed themselves. Babel voters must be immune to common sense.  They already have a nebbish representing them in Ottawa.  Why send another embarrassment to Queen’s Park?

But they did!  Babel is the lynch pin of central Ontario and they took it out of the loop at Queen’s Park.  It means Babel will have a tough route to get the support needed to fix those constricting and dangerous interchanges on the 400.  It means foot-dragging on funds for Royal Victoria Hospital.  It impedes the building of Babel’s downtown university campus.  Babel will have nobody of any influence with the province.  The city has gone from lynch pin to backwater in one stupid vote.

Not that the Liberal candidate in Babel deserved to win.  Mind you, he certainly spent enough.  He appeared to be working hard.  He was just as right wing as his Conservative opponent.   He walked blindly into an unfortunate situation between the federal and provincial liberals here in Babel.  People worked hard to try to solve the problem but it needed the candidate to pull it off.  He needed to call and sit down with key people in the electoral district to bring the team together.  He lacked the political experience needed to make that happen.  He was also a bit arrogant.  That did not help.

As recently as election day, there was still the hope that enough Babel voters would recognize that the Conservative candidate in Babel was a loser.  He had lied to them about his leader’s position on uploading provincial expenses from the municipality.  He quoted statistics that were ludicrous to support his biases.  And he had nothing to offer.

And if voters thought his leader was any smarter, they were kidding themselves.  Tiny Tim Hudak took a huge lead in the polls at the beginning of the campaign and ran it into the ground.  He wanted a breakthrough in Toronto and started out calling new Canadians ‘foreigners.’  He annoyed Ontario’s municipal leaders.  He ridiculed McGuinty and the Harmonized Sales Tax and then said he would keep it.  He said he would take the former Ontario Hydro’s debt off electrical rates but failed to say how he would pay it off.

Frankly, it was a bad campaign all around.  McGuinty bored us.  Hudak insulted us.  And Horwath never lived up to her potential.  We give them about three years of stalking each other before the next election–depending on how the economy goes.  McGinty would be smart to cash in his chips in two years and let someone with a personality take over.

It will also be amusing to see what the extreme right-wing Ontario Landowners faction does to Tim Hudak.  Andrea Horwath also needs to find out where the Ontario New Democrats want to go.

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Copyright 2011 © Peter Lowry

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

Ontario sinks to new lows in debate.

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

If you were surfing, trying to find a rerun from the Charlie Sheen Two and a Half Men series around seven last night, you might have come across a new version of the show.  This one features a lady named Andrea Horwath in the Charlie Sheen role.  A prissy chap named Dalton was playing the amiable side-kick role of Allan Harper while an aging adolescent Tiny Tim struggled with the fat, dumb kid persona.  As a political debate, it had little to recommend it.

Ontario deserves better.  Mind you, NDP leader Andrea Horwath looked spiffy—a great hair do, good make-up job, nice dress, discreet jewellery—all spoiled by one of those trade-mark manish suit jackets.

For sartorial yuck, you could hardly beat Conservative leader Tim Hudak’s tie.  It must have been his daughter’s choice.  We now know the kid’s problem is not her parentage.  She is color blind.

It was Premier Dalton McGuinty’s role to look like suitable premier material.  And he did until those other two started to beat the crap out of him.

Horwath surprised everybody with her performance.  That nice lady can also be mean and bitchy.  Her remarks about pumping beer in North Bay sure did not do much for her trying to look like a premier.

It was everyone jumps on Dalton night.  Horwath was snide about his no-show at some Northern debate and Hudak was calling him a liar.

Dalton got in a good one on Tiny Tim about calling new Canadians foreigners but Tim denied it despite anyone who watches television news having heard him.

The three of them proved to be really bad communicators.  The people who prepped them for the show should all be shot.  Shotgun delivery of statistics is meaningless.  They did better with anecdotal stuff but what Andrea’s 18-year old son was doing on a skateboard is a good question.

Dalton actually smiled when he gave an aside to Andrea about her brother or someone getting a job at Honda.  Other than that one human moment, he is still in need of a personality transplant.

Tiny Tim came across as a bobble-head doll with a tape recorder up its rear.  He just bobbled along in his own weird right-wing world, spouting inanities.

By the time the show was over, we decided that it was a form of self-abuse that we did not need.  Anyway, we voted last week.

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Copyright 2011 © Peter Lowry

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

The Toronto Star knows.

Sunday, September 25th, 2011

Joining a small public relations firm 40 years ago was a turning point for your writer.  Imagine the shock walking around that office one day in quest of a dictionary to check the origins of a word.  There was none.  The managing director defended himself from his office, calling out to us, “In this business, we know.”  Mind you, nobody complained when a new copy of Oxford Concise appeared after lunch that day and was prominent on our secretary’s desk, to be borrowed as needed.

That same smug attitude of ‘knowing’ is evidenced often in Canada’s largest circulation daily newspaper, The Toronto Star.  And as parent company, Torstar Corporation, also owns much of the really sad excuses for local newspapers around Ontario, this arrogance is doubly insulting.  Yet, with nothing better to read, The Toronto Star is consumed in Babel by many as routine with the morning coffee.

When it comes to elections, The Toronto Star likes to show its muscle.  Imagine the surprise of the editors when earlier this year they promoted the NDP and Stephen Harper’s Conservatives won the election.  That way, The Star took credit for both the rise of the NDP and the success of Harper’s Tories.  The Star has much to answer for.

In the current provincial election, The Star has constantly tried to promote Andrea Horwath of the NDP.  Not very successfully.  That lady is not ready to sing.

The Star editors needed a new strategy.  They found it in an improbable poll that is only noted for its gross numbers.  This poll is based on some 40,000 times that people answered an automated telephone call.  A recording asked whoever answered—ages three to 100—to select a number representing the party for which they intend to vote.  While the large number of completed calls is meaningless on a province-wide basis, it is considered sufficient for each individual electoral district.  This appears to be the best information the editors have been able to get!

To say that the poll is suspect is an understatement.  Politically knowledgeable people quickly pick out some obvious errors but there are other figures that leave you scratching your head.  The prospect of the Conservative Party and the Liberal Party candidates winning in 94 electoral districts (47 each) is so mathematically unlikely as to be amusing.

And while she does not get our vote, we should be embarrassed if Andrea Horwath’s NDP candidates only win 13 seats.  She and her cohorts worked hard.  Her campaign never gained much momentum but she still has the television debate to strut her stuff.

And as for Tiny Tim Hudak and his Conservatives: somebody is smoking something while tallying those figures.  Hudak does not compute.  His campaign is a tissue of half truths and conjectures.  He might have a good candidate here and there who deserves to go to Queen’s Park but not in any numbers to worry McGuinty.

Whether you like Dalton McGuinty or not he deserves to win.  As Premier, he does know what he is doing.

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Copyright 2011 © Peter Lowry

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

Dalton McGuinty discovers momentum.

Saturday, September 24th, 2011

While shocked scientists have learned that Einstein’s orthodoxy of the speed of light has been challenged, Tim Hudak and his Conservatives are in trouble with the scientific truths of momentum. They have lost it.  After months of a high flying lead in the polls, they are mired in the doldrums of a disappointed electorate.  The tortoise Liberals are sitting at the October 6 finish line, waiting for the Hudak hares.

Hudak’s handlers are looking to Tuesday’s televised leadership debate for the Hail Mary play.  They are desperate.  They will be twice as desperate after the debate as McGuinty will not disappoint the voters.  They do not expect much from him and that is what he will deliver.

Mind you, Tiny Tim has every reason to be disappointed with Andrea Horwath.  The NDP is not picking up the support from McGuinty that the Tories counted on.  Some of the Liberal vote had to be bled off by the NDP to produce a clear majority for Tiny Tim’s Conservatives.  The Tory brain trust saw how a resurgent NDP gave Stephen Harper’s federal party a majority in May and they counted on it in the fall.  The Andrea band wagon is not happening.

Maybe if the NDP leader gets some intense body shaping and a really sexy dress for Tuesday’s TV event, she could make a difference.  She is already an attractive woman but her picket-line Polly persona is a bit grating.  She not only needs to lighten up but she needs to figure out what the voters really want from her.  She has yet to connect.

Not that Dalton McGuinty has ever really connected but he has the one ingredient with which Hudak cannot compete: trust.  After months of paying for those awful commercials hammering at McGuinty as the ‘Taxman,’ people still trust the premier more than Hudak.  Beside McGuinty, Hudak is but a callow youth.

Mind you, it is not over yet.  The fat lady sings on October 6 as the ballots are counted.  It really does not matter if pollsters make automated telephone calls to four people, 400 people, 4000 or 40,000.  People do not like those calls.  Most do not answer.  They hang up with expletives deleted.  They lie, they ridicule.  They have a high rate of inaccuracy.       The only poll that matters is the report from the electoral offices.

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Copyright 2011 © Peter Lowry

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

An Ontario election update.

Friday, September 16th, 2011

The October 6 provincial election might be recorded as the most boring and predictable election in Ontario history.  To-date, there is really nothing interesting to write about.  Premier Dalton McGuinty is doing much better than expected.  Challenger Tim Hudak, the Conservative leader, is stumbling and fumbling and looking less like any kind of leader every day.  The NDP’s secret weapon, Andrea Horwath, is remaining a secret.

There was a clip on the TV news the other day of Premier Dalton McGuinty looking human.  Somebody brought a dog onto where he was doing the daily stand-up scene and he made a comment about dogs and politicians.  Believe it or not, he laughed. He made a comment that came across as honest and relaxed.  It was the first time voters have seen him not looking like he has a broom up his rear.  The Liberals should take the campaign away from the broom-up-their-rear people who have been running McGuinty’s campaign and just run the clip with the dog as a commercial for the rest of the campaign.  That would be an easy win.

At the same time ‘Tiny Tim’ Hudak is taking Ontario’s Tories down a slippery slope.  His campaign has lost focus.  For a guy who stayed so on-script for the previous seven months, it is hard to explain what has happened to him.  His first critical error was to bite on the Liberal’s tax credit for helping new Canadians gain some work experience.  Calling new Canadians ‘foreigners’ is a foolish thing to do when you are trying to win the new Canadian vote.  And then he became mired in technology that he did not understand.  He has no comprehension of the problems related to Global Positioning Systems and computer monitoring but he is touting a provincial monitoring system for sex offenders that would make the problems and costs of eHealth look like small change.

We hear the NDP are rushing out a 30-second commercial that tries to humanize a very human lady.  That will further confuse the message.  As things stand, the NDP brain trust has left a trail of confused voters across the province and some of them had wanted to vote NDP.

What both the Conservatives and NDP have forgotten is that it is not the people who normally vote for your party who you need to win.  You have to win among the truly undecided.  It would help if you even win some of your opponents’ supporters. They need a reason to vote for you.  And attack ads are dangerous when there are more than two parties.

It should always be remembered that in May 2008, Stephen Harper’s Conservatives had spend millions trashing Liberal Michael Ignatieff.  In the election, the Conservatives increased their vote by two per cent of Canadian voters.  The NDP spent that campaign on a positive note promoting their leader Jack Layton.  The NDP improved their vote by better than 12 per cent.

But politicians are the last to change.

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Copyright 2011 © Peter Lowry

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

They suckered Tim from the get go.

Monday, September 12th, 2011

The Ontario Liberals did it so innocently.  It was a minor announcement.  There was little fanfare.  Tim Hudak went for the bait and now he is floundering on the shore, ready for the mercy kill.  The provincial Conservative leader broke the cardinal rule of political campaigns: make your plan and stick to it.  He has been suckered.

Someone smarter than Tim would have been curious about the timing.  A smarter person might have remembered that the announcement sounded very much like a plan put forward by the Conservatives in the Ontario Legislature last year.  And, besides, in a campaign about billions in budgets to run this province, a $12 million plan to help a few new Canadians get the job experience they need, is really small potatoes.

But Tim bit.  He is flailing out at the “foreigners” who are being helped with the hard-earned cash of real Canadians.  What he does not realize is that the positive response he is getting is from his own voters.  Tim is drinking his own bath water.  He already has a lock on the bigot vote.  Why waste time to go after it again?

When then Conservative Leader John Tory made his gaffe in the 2007 election in supporting faith-based schools, it was a different kind of mistake.  Tory stepped out of the game plan and did something that was anathema to his voters.  You conflict your voters at your peril.

By attacking “foreigners” as he is, Tim Hudak is narrowing his vote.  The breakthrough that his federal party made earlier this year with the Toronto area ethnic communities was based on hard work in those communities.  Tim blew that the first time he opened his mouth about the Liberal program.  Who but newer Canadians understand the frustrations people feel when they cannot use the training they received in another country because of their lack of ease with the language.  This program is a critical step needed to improve and upgrade our workforce. And they must be Canadians first.

Poor Tim has been had.

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Copyright 2011 © Peter Lowry

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