Posts Tagged ‘Ontario’

Where are Ontario politics headed?

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017

There have been some political polls in Ontario recently that have caused a buzz in the news media. If the media had just checked back to before the last provincial election, they would have seen a similar pattern in the public preferences a year before that election. It certainly supports the claim that the only polls that matter are the ones on election day.

But polls can be useful indicators for politicians. There is no question that the current Conservative figures are inflated. The Tories have a leader who is an unknown quantity and every effort is expected to be made to create an acceptable persona for him before the 2018 provincial election.

The current polls are particularly disquieting for the governing Liberals. It is becoming obvious that Premier Wynne’s poor performance just might have dragged the party down to unrecoverable levels. If she had any respect for her party, she would have called for a leadership convention by May of this year to give her replacement time to gain traction with the voters.

It is hard to ignore the New Democrat leader but until she joins a gym and gets the party interested in a future, it has none.

The leader needing the most scrutiny by the voters is the Conservative leader. After using dishonest tactics to steal the party leadership last year, Patrick Brown is still an unknown quantity even to members of the Conservative Party, let alone the voters. Most of the people his organizers signed up as temporary Conservative Party members never knew him.

Brown is a 38-year old bachelor who has spent his entire adult life in politics. His answer to most questions is to tell you what he thinks you want to hear. He has no small talk. He bores women. They are not interested. He is a social conservative and voted against women’s rights when an MP in Ottawa. He has since earned the enmity of social conservatives in Ontario for not openly supporting them.

For people who do care about this province and its citizens, the provincial election coming on June 7, 2018 is worrisome. There is no category appearing on the ballot for ‘None of the above.’ We have to make choices. We need to send the very best person on our ballot to Queen’s Park. We need people who will speak for their constituents. We need people we can respect and who respect us.

Ontario voters will need to think long and hard on this one.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

For whom the Tolls Toll.

Tuesday, February 7th, 2017

The premier’s office at Queen’s Park in Toronto has many roles. One of those is as a woodshed wherein one disciplines recalcitrant municipal minions who fail to realize that the provincial party in power makes all the rules.

There was an awkward bit on a news clip last week of the Premier of Ontario and the Mayor of Toronto both trying to get out the premier’s office door at the same time. It would have been funnier if the mayor had not been so angry. He had not only been woodshedded in the traditional manner but he felt he had been treated as a little boy in short pants. And he did not like it.

The waiting news media observed the mayor and premier doing the ritual handshake before following the mayor down the hall to get the lowdown on the spanking. To put it simply, the mayor felt he had been betrayed.

Mayor John Tory was still in the provincial legislature when he gave the news guys and gals an earful on what he considered the duplicity of the premier. He had obviously wasted a lot of political capital in promoting the idea and getting the support needed on city council. He had been told originally that the premier was on side.

The entire fiasco was about the city wanting to impose road tolls on the two provincial highways that still go to downtown Toronto. The Don Valley Parkway (Highway 404) and the Gardiner Expressway (Queen Elizabeth Way) are maintained by the city. While it might not have been as dumb an idea as the province wanting to charge tolls for less congested highway lanes running around the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), it still got heavy static from the surrounding municipalities.

The governing Ontario Liberals are quite concerned about the electoral districts around the GTA being wooed with some success by the desperate Conservatives. With an election looming in the next year, these concerns are being taken seriously. This is not the time to annoy those voters any more than they might already be.

Frankly, Mayor Tory should be pilloried for the entire idea. If the foolish idea caught on with Toronto, the province would be forced to allow tolls on provincial highways running through cities and towns across the province. Thinking of the Queensway (Highway 417) in Ottawa, there would be a strong possibility of causing another Upper Canada Rebellion.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Premier Wynne: Colour her gone.

Monday, January 16th, 2017

It seems more and more likely that Premier Kathleen Wynne and her Ontario Liberals are on the slippery side of the slope. Nothing says it more emphatically than the situation in which we find ourselves here in Babel. (You know Babel as Barrie, Ontario.)

We are less than two years from a tough election situation here in Barrie and there has been no sign of provincial Liberal activity. Normally you would expect some evidence of action. Especially since there needs to be new provincial electoral district associations created by the political parties, you would have expected that to happen by now. You would have expected a candidate search committee to be activated by the Liberals to talk to potential candidates and be sure they are aware of what is required of them.

What makes this doubly important is that this is the riding that PC Leader Patrick Brown has chosen to contest. It is hard to imagine there are many Conservatives with any common sense wanting that nerd representing them at Queen’s Park. He is not a leader. He has nothing to offer the party or the voters. He flip-flops on issues trying to convince people he is on their side—whatever that is. He is incapable of leading the fractious Conservative caucus. He has no direction and would be a serious embarrassment to Ontario if he accidently became Premier.

But the good news is that we can defeat him here in Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte. And when we defeat him, the Ontario Conservatives would have an opportunity to call a new leadership convention—one where Brown and others would not be allowed to cheat. Just think of it: an honest political leadership convention.

And if the election just produced a Liberal minority government, maybe Kathleen Wynne would also take the opportunity to resign. She has not led the Liberals into anything but trouble.

There is no reason that the New Democrats could not take the opportunity to also dump their inept leader Andrea Horwath. She is not leading them anywhere anyway.

Ontario is in a very unusual political situation. It has three major party leaders who all need to be replaced. And then, after getting a chance to assess the results of some new leadership, we could vote again. We might have a chance to get it right.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Not everyone hates Premier Wynne.

Friday, January 6th, 2017

It is too bad that Ontario Premier Wynne has no politically smart advisors or staff. Here it is the first week of 2017 and the foolish lady is deep in the do-do of her own making.

By selecting the beginning of January to launch her ill-fated cap and trade program, she has been ripped off by the oil companies who multiplied her increases by four to five times. Wynne’s average of 4.4 cents per litre on cap and trade might not have caused a ruckus but 16 to 20 cents per litre was the increase the voters saw at the pumps.

And Ontario residents are complaining about Wynne and her Liberals instead of the rapacious oil companies. How politically astute is that?

Obviously, Wynne’s timing sucks. The oil companies can come up with all kinds of reasons for their increases. Wynne should have dumped the cap and trade deal with Quebec and California and supported the Trudeau government’s carbon tax. That would have let Prime Minister Trudeau take the blame for the increase. He has some goodwill to spare; Wynne does not.

The basic problem is that the voters do not understand cap and trade. To voters a tax is a tax. Most can understand a carbon tax. And even more voters understand global warming. There might be a cause and effect confusion here but most can understand that gasoline and diesel engines pollute our air.

But cap and trade is a system based on industry wide negotiations with politicians to set caps on emissions. If you come under the cap, you might have some emissions to trade with a company that cannot meet its commitments. This trade goes on between companies. The public is not advised of what is going on between companies but pays for it in retail prices.

In simple terms a carbon tax is an open and easy to understand system. Cap and trade is a largely hidden and hard to understand system. And with Ontario and Quebec firms trading with California companies, who knows what is going on?

Quite frankly, it is our opinion that Kathleen Wynne is not suited to politics. Her only reason for winning the 2014 provincial election was that the she had no opposition. Timmy Hudak of the Conservatives and Andrea Horwath of the New Democrats handed her that election on a platter.

And we are heading for a situation where history can repeat itself. The New Democrats cannot find a replacement for loser Horwath. And that putz Patrick Brown who stole the Conservative leadership does not have a clue as to how to get his caucus behind him. People are finally figuring out that he has no direction for the Conservative Party and he is incapable of leading a boy scout troop.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

The grandstanding of Patrick Brown.

Thursday, December 8th, 2016

People who prefer to grandstand in politics can be a pain in the ass. There are times when a politician should to take a stand on an issue but that is when you can reason and suggest alternatives to help solve the problem. Our Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition in Ontario does not believe in such niceties. He just goes for the jugular.

And to make matters worse, his latest attack is more of an attack on a former leader of his own party than an attack on the Liberal’s Premier Wynne. John Tory who is now a very popular Mayor of Toronto was Conservative leader in Ontario from 2004 until 2009. It is the mayor’s proposal to charge tolls on the Don Valley Parkway and the Gardiner Expressway that Brown is dissing. Brown is asking the Premier not to agree with Tory’s proposal.

It is examples such as this that Ontario voters should pay attention to before telling pollsters that they would choose Brown over Wynne in the election less than two years from now.

What people have to realize is that for the mayor’s proposal to work, people need alternatives to those city expressways. As it is you might as well refer to those city-owned highways as stall-ways. They are grossly overcrowded from very early in the morning to late at night.

But what alternatives are people proposing to help alleviate the problems? The province and the federal government have been doing their part to offer infrastructure funds to build light rail or subways as well as fund improved transit connections for commuters. It is the constant confusion as to the city’s  direction that has put Toronto so far behind in meeting infrastructure needs.

And now we have Patrick Brown MPP, a small-town boy from Barrie who is sticking his oar into Toronto’s all too muddied waters. He might have stolen the leadership of his political party last year but he failed to buy any more brains or knowledge to go with the job.

Brown’s predecessor Michael Harris might have thought he was fixing things back in the 1990s when he amalgamated the City of Toronto with its burgeoning suburbs but he failed to give the city, now more than four times the size, effective governance. It seems that no Ontario government wants to have a strong and capable government in Toronto.

But if we had Patrick Brown running the province, we would all be in trouble.

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Copyright 2016 © Peter Lowry

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

The rise of the exurbanites.

Monday, November 14th, 2016

Trump reached for it in America and the exurbanites coalesced behind him. With these new rural voters who have fled the cities and in sync with the traditional American Gothic farmers, he dominated state after state. These people resent and fear our conglomerate cities, the liberal attitudes they promote and the crush of the ethnic hordes. Many of these exurbanites commute to the cities for work and they hate it. The buttons are there; you just have to press them.

It is a supposedly easy route to power. There are two good examples of politicians seeking out those voters here in Ontario. They are the ones working that grungy side of the street. They are MP Kellie Leitch from Simcoe-Grey who is trying to muscle in on the federal party leadership and Ontario PC Leader Patrick Brown, currently representing Simcoe-North. They are here in adjoining ridings in central Ontario, pandering to the same type of narrow-minded, bitter and easy to anger voters.

And if you think Barrie voters are going to elect Patrick Brown in the 2018 provincial election, you are wrong. Barrie was deliberately gerrymandered under the Conservatives to cut the city in half and give each half a solid slice of exurbanite and rural voters. The edge in both north and south Barrie ridings goes to the Conservatives.

Brown’s current problems in Ontario are that unlike Donald Trump, he tries to keep a foot on each side of the street. He is a social conservative and he tries to find the middle ground. Eventually he is going to find that there is no middle ground and make a decision.

Meanwhile, in the safe ground of small town and rural Simcoe-Grey, MP Kellie Leitch is moving forward with her hate-filled Canadian-values campaign for her party’s leadership. Donald Trump is her hero.

Leitch has neither the money nor the ego of a Donald Trump and is hardly expected to sustain this aspect of her campaign under the intense pressure by her colleagues in Ottawa to tone it down. What her fellow MPs are concerned about is not as much as whether she wins the leadership but the very real concern of creating a schism in Canada’s Conservative Party. A large block of the urban Conservative vote across the country are progressive conservatives who pride themselves in not being knee-jerk rednecks. They will never buy into Dr. Leitch’s Canadian-values, anti-immigrant B.S. and you cannot win Ontario without winning any urban seats.

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Copyright 2016 © Peter Lowry

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

The drip torture by the Wynne government.

Tuesday, November 1st, 2016

Maybe they think they are too classy for simple water torture or boarding. The Ontario Liberals are inflicting an alcohol torture on the poor consumer. First, you have to find out which super grocery stores have just beer and cider or wine and beer or just a kiosk for plonk. There are now 67 out of about 1500 larger grocery stores selling both beer and some real wine.

But do not get these new stores confused with those older kiosks that sell Ontario wines and wines made from foreign concentrate. Those wines are for when you are desperate and do not have time to go to a real liquor store.

This booze roll out by the province has been undertaken with constant news media ballyhoo and the poorest results we have ever seen. After a career in public and government relations with a side interest in politics, this is the stupidest travesty we have ever seen a sitting government inflict on itself.

These foolish people are going to be forced to add more stores so that it can find some new communities in which to hold beer, wine and cider announcements. In an announcement that must have been in the provincial electoral district of York Centre, they even rolled out their recuperating(?) MPP Monte Kwinter (who is 85) in a wheel chair for him to be cheered by his happy constituents.

But the silliest part of this is that in the stores where the province is getting its share of the revenue from alcohol sales, the sales hours for these products are determined by the hours of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO).

Some convenience! If the idea behind this ridiculous roll out is to provide convenience for the consumer, why have the inconvenience of saying ‘no’ at certain hours. If you have ever noticed, grocery stores try to be open at hours convenient to the public. These are people who understand what their customers want. The LCBO is run by bureaucrats. They are not paid to care what the customer wants.

What also strikes us as odd is that in no time during this forever rollout of booze sales has there been a single grocery store selected in the City of Barrie. This city has a population of over 140,000 thirsty souls and we do have some very nice (and large) grocery stores. We do not feel personally slighted but you might wonder if it is because Barrie is where the cranky leader of the opposition, Conservative Patrick Brown, will be running in the next election?

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Copyright 2016 © Peter Lowry

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

The losers are lurking.

Friday, October 28th, 2016

It must be Halloween in the air. Losers from the last federal election are gathering. There will be a provincial election in 2018 and the Conservative losers from the last federal election are jockeying for nominations in provincial electoral districts.

The first of these Conservative nominations was for the upcoming bye-election in Niagara West-Glanbrook and former St. Catharines MP, as well as current provincial party president, Rick Dykstra lost to a young Brock University student running on a social conservative platform. While that electoral district might not be a Liberal stronghold, any campaign manager who cannot figure out how to defeat a home-schooled 19-year old social conservative should not be involved in politics.

In another age-related skirmish, defeated Conservative finance minister Joe Oliver, in the blue trunks and 76-years old, who lost in Eglinton-Lawrence last year, wants the Conservative nomination in York Centre where incumbent Liberal MPP Monte Kwinter, in the red trunks, is 85-years old. They should both do quite well in the riding’s retirement residences.

Another comer for Conservative party leader Patrick Brown is the famous former MP Paul Calandra. Many Canadians will remember his distress on crying in the House of Commons over his failed attempts to mislead the House when answering questions for his leader, Stephen Harper. He is from Markham but we are unsure where he might find a provincial electoral district suitable for his dramatic talents.

Even more interesting as a provincial possibility is the right-wing Bob Dechert from Mississauga. Dechert was the chap who, when serving as foreign affairs minister John Baird’s parliamentary secretary, was exchanging flirtatious e-mails with a lady who worked for the People’s Republic of China as a foreign correspondent (nobody admitted she was a spy). It was reported that it was the correspondent’s husband who broke into her e-mails and published them on the Internet to the considerable embarrassment of all concerned.

There are more hopefuls in the offing. One of the best bets is MP Tony Clement. He is a bit miffed with the federal scene since he found that nobody wanted to fund his run for the federal leadership. He has to be considering heading back to his halcyon days on the Mike Harris team at Queen’s Park. Not that working for Patrick Brown would be all that much fun but he is no heavy hitter in Ottawa.

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Copyright 2016 © Peter Lowry

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

 

Protecting public assets.

Wednesday, September 28th, 2016

What government, municipal, provincial or federal, has not looked longingly to selling off public companies as a fast way to some ready cash? The government can promise to do nothing but good with the money. The only problem is that once the asset is gone, there is no more revenue from it beyond its corporate taxes.

But there are exceptions. There are assets that can be sold off and improve their revenues to the government. It was hoped that the lotteries component of Ontario Lottery and Gaming (OLG) could be one of these assets. The objective of dealing through a service provider, is that the government would gain from the company’s creativity, experience and knowledge of the business. The government would still get most of the revenues generated but would share a reasonable operating profit with the purchaser.

It is obvious that none of the three major companies bidding on the OLG operation was offering enough money to the government to make the deal worthwhile. The government lottery operations might not be as creative and aggressive as private enterprise but the government apparently still likes the return it is getting.

This would not necessarily be the case if the Ontario government sold off the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO). It is obvious to any business analyst that the parts of the LCBO are worth far more than the whole. Private sector wine merchants are long overdue in Ontario and the government gets the licensing revenue as well as the alcohol taxes. Selling six packs of beer is a bludgeon to upgrade and improve Ontario convenience stores.

And if the LCBO is really the largest importer of wines in North America, that business could be worth more than all the stores combined. All it has to do is look outward beyond the province, instead of inward. It could become a giant in the business.

And there is a huge recycling business in the province that can be separated and stop interfering with how customers buy their beer.

But instead a smart sell-off the Ontario government wants to sell off some of Hydro One that is already infuriating customers across Ontario because of the electrical distribution operator’s sloppy billing practices. Premier Wynne hardly needs more of Ontario’s rural electricity users hating her.

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Copyright 2016 © Peter Lowry

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

How far Bill Davis’ party has fallen.

Friday, September 23rd, 2016

We can admit it now but could not when he was Premier of Ontario, Bill Davis is a decent guy. As much as he likes to pose as the bastion of the right, Bill has always liked people and is a caring, compassionate person. If he was much younger and leader of Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives today, Kathleen Wynne and her neo-Liberals could pack their bags.

But Bill Davis’ party has fallen on hard times. The triumvirate of leaders, Harris, Hudak and now Brown have not helped. John Tory, who as a young man attended Bill’s breakfasts at the old Park Plaza Hotel, might have been an exception during his brief stint as Conservative Leader but his timing against Premier ‘Dad’ Dalton McGuinty was bad. And he blew it by going against the hard core right of his own party by offering more support for parochial schools.

The present leader Patrick Brown is causing further splits in the party by denying his roots as a religious right conservative. He has managed to get all factions of the Conservative Party angry with him for his constant flip-flops. He can hardly deny his vote against women’s rights and against same -sex marriage when he was a Member of Parliament. Attending Toronto’s Pride Parade this year only showed what a hypocrite he can be.

Current public opinion polls are useless as no Ontario voters outside of Barrie really know anything about Patrick Brown. And those voters do not know much. Bill Davis must be appalled at the thought of a person such as Brown sitting in his old office at Queen’s Park.

But the more serious problem is that Premier Wynne and her caucus are not doing the job. They lack direction, attention, discretion, determination and intention. They only use half measures when bold steps are needed. They use band aids instead of solutions. They have no discernable leadership or philosophy.

It hardly adds up to anything better than Patrick Brown running Bill Davis’ old party or the New Democrats under the hapless Andrea Horwath.

But as much as Ontario voters might think The Wynne Liberals are less than productive, they have absolutely no idea how bad Brown would be.

When Bill Davis was premier, there was a certain trust that he earned. That would not be what Ontario would get with Brown. Brown is a manipulator with the personality of a nerd. Women tend to lose interest in him very quickly. Men just do not like him. He really does not belong in the same party as former Premier Bill Davis.

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Copyright 2016 © Peter Lowry

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