Posts Tagged ‘Ontario’

Repeating history with Doug Ford.

Wednesday, August 21st, 2019

The worst of the mistakes made by Mike Harris, conservative premier of Ontario from 1995 to 2002, was the downloading of provincial government expenses to municipalities. It was a stupid and ill-advised. And despite the lessons learned, we now have premier Doug Ford following in Harris’ draconian footsteps.

Where the municipalities had thought the Ford government had backed down on some of these moves, he announced them anew this week at the annual meeting of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO). Where he had backed down on cutting funding for ambulance costs, daycare support and public health retroactively this year, he has now promised the cuts for next year.

These are all services that the previous liberal government had assured the municipalities would be looked after by the province. While there were few details in the speech that the premier read from a teleprompter, it is assumed that it will be at least 30 per cent of these costs will end up coming from municipal revenues.

Each of these services is essential to the well being of Ontario’s municipalities and they can only pay for them with substantial increases in property taxes or cutting of other core services.

These changes are believed to be designed to aid the provincial government in covering more of its deficit without raising taxes. It is supposed to make the provincial politicians look better at controlling the taxpayers’ money than the municipalities. When premier Mike Harris did it, he had little understanding of the economics of the province and its municipalities and many of the cuts he made caused serious results in services delivered and even deaths from failure in delivery of essential services that people had trusted.

Doug Ford, on the other hand, continues to want to get even with Toronto for the way the city treated his brother when mayor.

Mike Harris wanted to create a legacy. Doug Ford is just vindictive.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Big Brother baffles business.

Saturday, August 17th, 2019

Ontario premier Doug Ford claims he is really just a businessman. Prior to becoming premier, his only claim to fame was his second banana role for his late brother when Rob Ford was mayor of Toronto. Before that Doug was just a salesman for his father’s label printing company. Where did you think he got the idea for stickers on gas pumps? It originated with the oil companies when they were tired of being blamed for the high taxes on gas by both feds and province.

But why are the oil companies acting so gutless when asked to put only part truths on their pumps? No court would order them to comply. And what if the federal government gave them a bigger sticker to put on their gas pumps? Would they say enough is enough then?

And what would Ford do if the oil companies told him to stick his stickers where the sun does not shine. The idea of the federal carbon tax is that the costs at the pumps will be rebated to consumers. The rebate goes up along with the tax. And while Dougie thinks he is shafting the feds, he is making money for the sticker business and making himself look childish.

The only thing that is concerning is whether Justin Trudeau will know when to stop attacking Ford. The Ontario premier might not have the political common sense but the federal prime minister has advisors who can tell when Dougie has been belittled enough. It would hardly pay to have voters feeling sorry for the sorry Ford.

It would be best to leave the outcome of this sticker foolishness to the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. That worthy organization has already made it clear that the Ford stickers are a direct denial of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Waiting for Doug Ford.

Friday, August 16th, 2019

C’mon Dougie, Let’s see some action here in Ontario. You talked the talk. You walked the walk. Now, when do we see some action? A populist makes promises and people expect things to happen. We were promised beer in the corner convenience stores. Make it so!

You might not have been the first politician to make that promise but you are the first to be expected to deliver on it. Other politicians gave the corner stores lotteries to help them survive. They have had cigarette sales to help their income. (It is a dying market—in more ways than one.) It will be six packs of beer that will bring these family-run stores the traffic they need. Think of how healthy it will be to walk to the corner store for a six pack and a bag of pretzels, or a bottle of plonk for dinner.

Only a man of the people would think of it. Hell, that woman you replaced as premier only wanted the six packs in the grocery stores. She let the bureaucrats make sure that the grocery stores made next to nothing for their effort. Is that the way to do things? You give Costco and Walmart the two-fours, the grocery stores the dozens and the convenience stores the six packs. And if you let them set their own selling price all will be right with the world. Let the market decide.

And heads should be rolling about the fiasco with the liquor control board’s ordering system. I never know what the hell I will be bringing home in the way of vin ordinaire these days. And even in ordering from the back of an envelope, those idiots should remember to always have lots of the good stuff from the Beaune region of France. Their penalty for screwing up should be no six packs from the big three brewers until they get things right.

And in the couple years you have left in the premier’s chair Dougie, you might just consider this: If you need another ten billion or so to cover some of your missteps you have made in the premier’s office, you can always sell the LCBO. And do not sell it as a package. Keep the ordering system (when fixed) because the volumes are important. Sell the stores one at a time and make a potful of money. Sell boutique wine licences for more. And remember to take taxes coming and going. The government needs the money.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Diogenes, Leadership and SNC-Lavalin.

Thursday, August 15th, 2019

There is no time left for what might have been. Canadians are going into an election when what we so desperately want to say is ‘None of the above.’ Are we condemned to face a future of failure? Are we helpless? Have we found there is no honest man?

Justin Trudeau embarrasses us. Jagmeet Singh insults us. Andrew Scheer frightens us and there is no other workable solution.

Justin Trudeau has been weighed in the scales and found wanting. He should have resigned six months ago and given the liberal party a chance to regroup. His chief of staff knew to resign. The clerk of the privy council chose to resign. Justin Trudeau believed that he was untouchable. He was aiding his enemies. He was creating a conundrum for Canadian voters.

In a world facing disastrous climate change, we are seeing the frustration of electorates and civilizations around the world. Populists of the right and left are our false prophets. We turn to a Trump or Brexit and wonder at the failures.

In Canada, that so welcomes those seeking freedom from oppression, a single ethnic group swamps the membership of a political party. Singh embarrasses the NDP. This is no solution.

And it has been an extended silly season for the conservatives in the past few years. They had a federal leadership that chose the least of potential leaders in a federal lottery that proved that leadership does not matter. And then they chose right-wing demigods in Alberta and Ontario to claim the conservative brand.

With two months to go before the election, there is much to resolve. Canadians are resourceful. Let us find that solution together.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

The gang that can’t even sell pot.

Wednesday, July 31st, 2019

It is hard to believe that Doug Ford’s gang in Ontario cannot even get a handle on the pot business. Is there no part of government in which they have some expertise? Did the late Toronto mayor Rob Ford fail to pass on some tips in drug marketing to his older brother? The word we are getting from the streets is that the government-controlled pot shops are operating at serious losses while many Ontario buyers are going back to their old street sources.

And the legal shops are failing to compete. It seems that the government has been unaware of the three cardinal rules of retailing. They are location, location and location.

Who can afford to waste money on locking up an ideal location when the license will be drawn by lot? Who can compete when your pricing is controlled, as are your promotion efforts?

But what did you expect when a former cop made all the rules at the federal level and general incompetence is the order of the day at the provincial level?

What can the legal shops do when the illicit vendors are pricing themselves at an average of 40 per cent less than legal marijuana? In some cases, outside of Toronto, there are reports of illegal vendors offering product at about ten per cent of prices by licenced vendors.

And that is just one more problem that this government cannot seem to handle: The facts are that the rest of this province is not the same as Toronto. The premier is so busy fighting old municipal battles in Toronto, that he has no time for the problems elsewhere.

What our governments need to realize is that the legalizing of marijuana was designed to get the market out of the hands of criminals. It is most upsetting to have to report that, in Ontario, the criminals are winning.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

When Premiers come out to play.

Sunday, July 14th, 2019

It was an interesting pack of premiers around the conference table at this year’s Canadian premiers’ meeting. They hardly had Justin Trudeau under their thumb. And they hardly bothered to try.

This was a meeting to plan for October’s federal election. The odd men out were the bookends—John Horgan of British Columbia, NDP, and Dwight Ball of Newfoundland and Labrador, liberal. It was hardly a surprise for the premiers to recognize François Legault’s Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) as an honorary conservative regime.

The conservative cohort were all invited to a preplanning meeting and a flapjack flipping event at the Calgary Stampede the week before. At that meeting, the real chair of the premiers, Jason Kenney held sway. The only notable aspect of that event was when they found out that Doug Ford could not flip a flapjack without burning it.

But then Ford was out of his element at both meetings. The other premiers found him boring, competitive, wrong and rude. He made the opening gaff of the conference in Saskatoon by not attending the opening meeting with some of Canada’s aboriginal leaders on a reserve just outside of town. (God forbid that he ever learn anything or to even respect others.)

What was different at the actual conference was the unanimity of the premiers demanding that more be done to combat Buy America policies in the U.S. that run counter to the new North American trade agreement, that might or might not be approved by Congress in the next year.

There were also the usual promises to do something about trade barriers between provinces that business people have been struggling with for many years. It was just another chance for Ford to do some sloganeering about Ontario being open for business. They knew that.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Do-Gooders be Damned.

Wednesday, July 10th, 2019

Why do these do-gooders settle for half measures? If the medical officer of health for Toronto has decided that booze is bad for you, why is she allowing any sales to the unsuspecting public? If booze is bad for us, why doesn’t she have it banned?

It just seems silly that, if we are pickling our livers with demon rum, her job is to save us from ourselves. ‘Ban the booze’ should be her answer. They made the point with cigarettes. It is only a small percentage of the population that are still bent on killing themselves with smoking. We all seem to know that smokers are a dying breed.

Are we citizens who like a cold, frosty beer on a hot summer day next? Or are we to be done in by stealth by an excellent cabernet sauvignon? Or is that after-dinner brandy, to be our nemesis?

It seems unfair that the delightful margherita is no more than an adult slushie in disguise. In my misspent youth in Alberta, I took my beer with tomato juice and I credited it for my excellent health. I guess I was deluding myself.

But this discussion started when Toronto’s medical officer of health objected to the sale of beer and wine at convenience stores. God forbid that we should make the purchase of a six-pack more difficult than a healthy walk to the corner store. What the hell is her problem? Does she think it is alright to send your chauffeur to one of those smelly recycling places to get you a two-four?

Let’s face facts. In Ontario, it is tough enough to find anything that the Ford government does, to be responsible, or smart, or responsive. If just occasionally, they do something that should have been done many years ago, such as putting beer in convenience stores, give the idiots a break. Pat your conservative MPP on the head and tell him or her that they done good. It happens rarely, they will appreciate the gesture.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

The Star soldiers on with Regg Cohn.

Friday, June 28th, 2019

The Toronto Star must have made its provincial affairs writer Martin Regg Cohn point man for the newspaper’s war against demon rum. Ontario used to have the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union to fight the good fight but the WCTU of today lacks the funds and caring. And, frankly, the Star might have taken its current position because Ontario premier Doug Ford is on the other side.

There seems to be a consensus today that premier Ford is the guy to boo. Regg Cohn must have searched long and hard to find the purported Ford Nation supporter, he told us about the other day. This guy, who thinks Doug’s late crack-cocaine smoking brother Rob was “Friggin’ great,” is supposedly from Barrie. His ride is supposed to be a Yamaha motor bike. This guy, who sounds as though he could not count to a dozen with his shoes on, says he sent an e-mail to Doug Ford asking him not to spend money on breaking a contract with the big Ontario brewers.

Regg Cohn seems to think this guy is so dumb, he would worry about the Ontario government having to pay money to foreign-owned brewers to let convenience stores sell beer. It makes you wonder who is the dumber? Does nobody understand what the three large brewers would be risking in suing the Ontario government? This is about a four billion-dollar beer market and I have no idea what the recycling nets the Beer Store but that might not be peanuts either.

All that needs to happen is for someone (hopefully not the premier) to sit down with the beer barons and have a pleasant chat about what is needed to add convenience stores to their distribution system. This is a business proposition. Brewers’ Warehousing is going to need some new facilities and more trucks and drivers. There is no need for price fixing nor a lot of needless regulations. Beer is a commodity as are the potato chips those convenience stores sell. In fact, when selling beer, they will probably sell more potato chips.

The point is that no jobs are in jeopardy. The big breweries and the craft beer people are all going to make a little more money. Convenience stores will be a little more respectable. Everybody will be happy—well, maybe not the Toronto Star!

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Ontario NDP: “We the Green”?

Monday, June 17th, 2019

Ontario’s lacklustre new democratic party partied in Hamilton last weekend. While most of the province was celebrating the Raptors winning the championship title of America’s National Basketball Association, Ontario’s NDP was celebrating being the official opposition in Ontario. They were also reviewing their leadership and asking where their party was headed.

Since nobody else seemed to want the job, they voted to keep Andrea Horwath on as leader. Only about 15 per cent of those voting thought she should be tossed. She has now held the job of leader of the Ontario NDP since 2009. Her only accomplishment was to be there when Kathleen Wynne tried to take the entire liberal caucus out of politics with her last June. They kept Horwath on despite her weak performance in the legislature as leader of the opposition. There certainly has been ample cause to attack the Ford government’s many errors in judgement, its careless approach to tightening Ontario’s purse strings and its destructive approach to the environment.

Where the Ontario opposition has been missing from action has been in raising awareness in the province about the lack of environmental concern by this government and its fighting with the federal government over environmental issues. The Ford government is even spending taxpayers’ money on false advertising about the federal government carbon tax, when it has no real plan of its own.

And speaking of false advertising, the Ford government has actually printed stickers for gas station pumps complaining about the federal 4.4 cent per litre carbon tax when the basic Ontario tax (before GST) is 29.1 cents per litre.

Ontario’s Green party leader was cheerful about the NDP using the Green party name for their environmental plans. The 28-page booklet released has neither costing nor much in the way of specifics but Mike Schreiner the sole Green party MPP in Ontario gave the ‘green light’ to the NDP wanting to discuss the environment He sees it as a positive that more parties want to address the environmental issues.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

“Once more unto the breach, dear friends…”

Sunday, June 16th, 2019

And once more Ontario liberals found that they were not masters of their own destiny. Ontario liberalism is a fiefdom and the serfs were told once more last weekend what will be. Whatever you might wish to call it, it is not democratic. It is not run by or for the people.

The call for a one-member-one-vote leadership convention by these provincial liberals drew 57 per cent support and so was denied as it did not have a super-majority of 66 per cent. The hands of past manipulators denied freedom to the present.

The federal liberal party had broken down the old feudal system of ministers being in charge of their fiefs in the 1960s under Lester Pearson. It was why the Ontario provincial party broke away—to return to the old ways with a party run from the board rooms of the larger law firms.

It worked well enough, producing the subsequent governments of Dalton McGuinty and then Kathleen Wynne. Whether they were particularly liberal was always a question.

But now the challenge is to find a progressive liberal who can capture the imagination of the liberal party and then the voters. Whomever the new party leader will be, he or she will need to overcome the conservatism of the rulers of the provincial liberal fiefs.

I think the smartest candidate for leader of the party, so far, has been Michael Coteau, MPP for Don Valley East. He worked hard to get the change to one-member-one-vote while I understand another possible candidate, Steven Del Duca, kept out of the discussion and did not even vote. That tells us volumes about Del Duca.

What I admire most about Michael Coteau’s campaign is that it is built on what he has been hearing from liberal party members across Ontario. I find it is a bit of a novelty to find someone who really wants to listen. The campaign will not get intense until January next year when the delegated convention is slated for March 7.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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