Posts Tagged ‘Ontario’

Ford’s flock is fleeting.

Thursday, April 19th, 2018

In analyzing a political situation, you have to weigh many factors. According to the public pollsters, the upcoming Ontario voting seems to be decided. I hate to poop on the pollsters’ parade but you should always check some very pertinent points before buying into the B.S. The questions start with survey technique, sample size, completed interviews, refused and incomplete interviews, qualifying questions, demographic balance, and the percentage who did not have an answer to the basic questions. Without these answers, the pollster might as well have jotted down those percentages on his or her luncheon napkin while asking mother what she thinks.

What we are seeing in the current circumstances is the steady erosion of the Ford share of attention. It is like the small spike likely today for the NDP. They announced some policies and people who normally ignore them felt that they should pay a bit of attention. Changes such as that will continue through to election day. That is the final poll. It is the one that counts.

Ford’s base is not as large as the pollsters are saying. He brought his late brother’s Ford Nation to the party but most already were conservative voters. These are the angry, lower income conservatives in Toronto spread around the inner city in the suburbs. They can do things in municipal elections but can hardly compete with strong, experienced and organized liberal party organizations in the upcoming provincial contest.

Where Ford is showing strength at the moment is in the more determined conservative strongholds in the Greater Toronto Area, with the rural Ontario Landowners Association and the religious right (social conservatives).

But what is floating the Ford bubble are the unsophisticated, new voters either coming of age to vote or recent immigrants gaining their citizenship. These people are naïve about politics and are only hearing the braggadocio of Ford.  There is a continuing and serious imbalance recently in the Ford funnies versus the weary stuff from Wynne. And until Wynne can change those ratios and pull ahead in the social media as well as the traditional media, she will look like a loser.

And the ratios will change. Wynne is not the sort to remain silent. She will be calling out Ford for his lies and obvious ignorance. She will be armed for bear when she debates Ford—if a debate happens. She is going to show those new voters that Ford is a loser.

And nobody loves a loser.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

A Truth Squad for Doug Ford?

Monday, April 16th, 2018

Here is a million-dollar idea for the Ontario liberals. It came to me as I read the news that the party was going to waste a million dollars on television advertisements to tell Ontario voters that Doug Ford tells lies. I suppose I should charge them, but it was not my idea. It belonged to the late Keith Davey, the master political strategist for the Liberal Party in the last half of the 20th Century.

It was Keith’s idea but he had to get the approval of Walter Gordon who was liberal campaign manager in 1963 and party leader Lester Pearson. Nobody was enthused. The toughest arguments against it were by liberal stalwart Judy LaMarsh, whom Keith wanted to head up the truth squad. I was just a young volunteer at the time but I knew that John Diefenbaker would tear into her.

Judy and her troop were welcomed by prime minister Diefenbaker at the first event and there were seats reserved for them at the front of the hall. It was classic Diefenbaker when he tore into them. Judy and team only needed to take Mr. Diefenbaker’s scorn at two more events before Keith said “That is enough.”  He had made his point.

The strategist’s point was that Mr. Diefenbaker was making free with the truth and the news media did the best job of telling the voters. Everyone was laughing but it was at Mr. Diefenbaker’s expense.

And that is the objective with Doug Ford. The difference was that Mr. Diefenbaker was a wily old Prairie lawyer, skilled at talking around the truth. Doug Ford simply does not know what he is talking about.

A good example is his promise to fire the chief executive of Hydro One. Ford cannot imagine anyone earning six million a year and so he will fire him. The only trouble is to do that he would have to start by firing the entire board of Hydro One. And only then could he fire the chief executive officer. By the time the dust settled on the law suits involved, the company could have another $20 million or more to make up from electricity transmission rates.

If the liberals just keep making the point that Doug Ford does not know what he is doing, they can turn around those ridiculous public opinion polls. The 2018 provincial election in Ontario is far from decided.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

The end of the gas plant affair.

Sunday, April 15th, 2018

The Ontario gas plant affair has ended badly. There are no good guys in the story. It was a sorry tale of misinformation and harangue. It was public participation gone rotten. It was political perfidy. It cost us all.

And David Livingston is the fall guy. He was premier McGuinty’s right-hand man. Nobody should be that loyal. Nobody has the right to tell someone to break the law. Livingston got a token prison sentence. It is still an unfair price for a fall guy to pay.

What price should former premier Dalton McGuinty pay? What price should then campaign chief Greg Sorbara pay?

And we need to remember that the conservatives and the NDP are hardly blameless. They stirred the pot. They incited the local citizens to protest the relatively innocuous gas plants. They loudly demanded they be cancelled. If your local candidate from any party mentions this business on the campaign trail, you will know him or her for a hypocrite.

Sometimes we make decisions in a campaign that are not thought through. We might have had too little time to weigh the pros and cons. When more recently in the midst of a federal election, Justin Trudeau promised that it would be the last election under first-past-the-post rules. He did not lie deliberately. He had simply not given the thought a thorough look. He did not even understand the impact of the promise.

Nor did anyone have any idea what cancelling those gas plants would cost. It was a careless and costly move. It was not a proud day for politicians.

The people who should also be sharing the blame are those who raved against the plants. They were being given an advantage that most Ontario communities could only hope for. They were being provided with local back-up electrical generation for times of extreme heat or cold to keep their air conditioners or furnaces working and their lights turned on. Gas generation plants can come up to speed quickly and meet emergency needs.

And typical of NIMBYs everywhere, the people who complained the most about plants they had never seen, would be the first to complain bitterly in brown outs or electrical system failures. Listen to them about the cost of electrical transmission from back-up plants many miles away.

But now you have your fall guy. Mr. Livingston is carrying that cross for a lot of people. We can all be silent as he goes by.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Getting to know Doug Ford.

Monday, April 9th, 2018

It takes time. Over the next six to eight weeks, more and more Ontario voters will start to think seriously about the June 7 provincial election. To many, it will just be a bit of a bother, a minor blip in an otherwise busy life. The actual turnout at the polls will just be a statistic because we will find out the results at the same time. It will be the politicians who rejoice or dispute the results.

Nobody will be noisier in rejoicing or disputing than conservative leader Doug Ford. He is the neophyte at this electoral process. He will ignore the rules. He will ignore the advice of his aides. He will call his errors, innovations. His policies will be spur of the moment ideas. His plans will be, at best, vague and ill-defined.

One of his first decisions about the campaign trail has been to cancel the bus that would have allowed the news media to travel with him. It confused the claim that the conservatives had raised the most campaign funds. That campaign bus will nag Ford from the beginning to the end of the campaign. It made him look cheap (despite the media paying for it) and the result will be poorer coverage of his campaign.

Admittedly most campaign organizations would be delighted to get rid of the media bus. There are always people in the inner circle who consider it like taking you own nest of vipers along with you. They are a pain in the ass and are always trying to screw up your logistics.

But those media are the entire purpose of the travels. They are your heralds, your scribes, your minstrels, your town criers. They are your opportunity. They tell the voters about you. If you just enfold them in your arms and show them the love they deserve, they will still stab you in the back.

Even while failing to explain his decision about the bus, Ford was getting himself in more trouble. There was a question from the media present about why he was not coming to a black community event. He was supposedly going to be in Northern Ontario next week while all the other leaders were discussing black problems in Toronto. Ford was telling the media how much he and his late brother Rob loved black people. He even told them about having taken under-privileged black kids up to his cottage in Muskoka in the summer. He was patronizing.

Doug Ford’s concern on June 7 will be the Ontario voters who will buy into his slash and burn politics. These are the voters he has to have on his side. They will only bother to vote for him if they believe he can win. They will not waste their time voting for a loser. Those polling figures can change a great deal by voting day.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Premier Wynne’s nemesis.

Saturday, April 7th, 2018

If Premier Wynne really wants to keep her job in Ontario, I would suggest that she should make amends by first firing Ed Clark as chair of the Liquor Control Board and of the Ontario Cannabis stores. Even at the price of one dollar per year, he is not worth it. She has given a guy with absolutely no political smarts the ammunition to destroy her.

This is not a question of loyalty. Bad advice and bad advice followed are the problems. Ed Clark has absolutely no political smarts and would ask his doctor if there is a pill for it, if he did. Ed Clark is a banker. Bankers are the people who want you to borrow money, when you do not need it, and demand you pay it back when you lack the funds. They give you a nice shiny new credit card but cluck their tongue when you over use it, in their estimation.

Bankers are never your friend. To suggest that Clark’s experience running TD Bank was a consumer success is to suggest that he failed as a banker. If bankers were honest with you, they would admit that they do not like dealing with the hoi polio. Consumers with their grubby little deposits are not the stuff of bankers’ dreams.

You need to remember that the one blunder that really caused Premier Wynne to fall off her high horse was following Ed Clark’s advice to sell off Hydro One. That was the turning point. Against all political instincts, she started to sell Hydro One without realizing that the voters did not even know what she was attempting to sell. Given the history of Ontario Hydro, it goes down in political history books as a really dumb move.

Somebody should have told Wynne that Hydro One—the transmission network—was hived off from Ontario Hydro 15 years earlier by the Harris government with the intent to sell it. Everybody thought Kathleen Wynne was smarter than Mike Harris. Even he was convinced not to do it.

The other suggestion that Ed Clark made to the Wynne government was that they start selling beer and wine through the grocery stores. That is probably the worst implementation of a government program we have ever seen. The grocery stores do not make money on it. The rules are inconsiderate of the grocers. And they want the same guy to sell marijuana in Ontario?

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Wait until they are ‘At Post.’

Wednesday, April 4th, 2018

Ontario is in the midst of a ‘phony war.’ People are getting excited about public opinion polls that are meaningless. Babel-on-the-Bay is more than a month away from offering its Morning Line on the coming provincial election. At least wait until then to place your bets on the outcome.

You have to remember that not all horses in this race have passed their drug tests. Hell, the conservatives have been on a high for too long thinking they can walk away with first prize. One of the biggest bumps on the road from here to election day is the conservative leader—such as he is! Does the conservative brain trust really think they can keep him from saying what he wants? Doug Ford is a loose cannon and anything can happen.

And how about friends? There was a radio advertisement the other day by the specialists who run the Ontario Medical Association. The words dripped of greed and confidence that the conservatives will come to power. The only people who will benefit from a conservative win might be the medical specialists and other millionaires.

And then there was an op-ed in the Toronto Star by one-time New Democrat guru Val Sears. He was trying to tell us that all three parties are equal. It was a good try but the only way to resurrect the NDP in Ontario is with a shovel. He should look up the word ‘nebbish’ in his dictionary. It is an excellent description of NDP leader Andrea Horwath. The NDP have no where to go in Ontario and a nobody to lead them.

And in the meantime, the liberals have more leadership than the party needs. I like to think of Wynne as the wicked witch of North Toronto. What I have been seeing lately is some new, fresh, young liberal faces appearing who might start to tell Granny what big teeth she has and suggest that she move along and go into retirement.

But she did win me over with some of her death bed repentance. That recent budget, was offering a pastiche of liberalism and I could only approve. These were all desperate needs in mental health, day care, health care and in looking after the poor and disadvantaged in our society. Only a curmudgeon would disagree with the needs.

But here’s hoping the crick don’t rise and we can have a well doped out Morning Line for you before the middle of May.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Ford isn’t fast with his math.

Monday, April 2nd, 2018

It was really very funny last Thursday when conservative leader Doug Ford got pompously to his feet to harangue the liberal government for their election budget. It seems that towards the back of the budget book there is a tax increase for the top 17 per cent of wage earners.

The effect of this tax, on average, means that anyone with taxable earnings of $130,000 per year will pay an additional $200 in tax to Ontario. Doug Ford was horrified. Imagine a tax increase for those who can most afford it! Okay, it is one less dinner at a fancy restaurant for you and the wife. Think of all the good you are doing with the money.

But Doug Ford was horrified. He was outraged at this egregious affront to the wealthy taxpayers he wants to represent at Queen’s Park. Some how, Ford got in his mind that the tax applied to everyone in the household. He thought if it was a family of five, each would pay the government an additional $200. He was wrong. The facts are that if the other four people in the household are all dependents, the taxpayer would not pay the additional until they earned quite a bit more than $130,000.

Ford must have also been confused between the difference in gross income and taxable income. The problem with people such as Ford is that they never do their own taxes. They have an accountant for that.

Yet the money is to help our citizens who most need the assist. It is for day care for the youngest children when they are the most vulnerable. It is for our seniors to stop nickel and diming them for prescription drug co-payments. It is to increase the funding to keep seniors in their homes longer. It is to increase the number of mental health professionals in the province to meet the needs of our young people.

Obviously, Mr. Ford has different priorities. He does not seem worried about our environment. He thinks he can come up with billions by just cutting some fictitious waste. How he will achieve that when the bulk of our provincial expenditures are on education and health needs, he will wait until he is in office to find out. When you bore down on Mr. Ford’s approach, you find out he has no idea how to magically balance budgets or provide funds for tax cuts.

Doug Ford is just blowing smoke.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Would you buy a used Ford from Ford?

Friday, March 30th, 2018

We have a good thing going in Ontario. Our economy is healthy. Unemployment is down. We have a government in place that is doing the right things about the environment, raising our standard of living without undue pressure on inflation and is looking at people’s needs in a relatively progressive manner. This needs to be taken into account before considering the possibilities in the coming Ontario election.

A gentleman named Doug Ford has pushed himself forward and proposed that we elect him and a conservative government. Some people think this is a good idea because they think we need a change.

A change to what?

If Mr. Ford was a job applicant, do you think you would give him much consideration? His work experience involves a stint with his late father’s company printing labels and a single term as a Toronto city councillor in the council seat his brother had vacated to become mayor. Much of his time in that position was spent trying to keep his brother sober and off crack cocaine.

He lost his subsequent effort to win the mayoralty when his brother became too ill to run. Always eager for opportunities, he saw a chance to be leader of the opposition party and he grabbed at the brass ring.

Ford broke all the rules of the leadership race. He signed a promise to accept the carefully constructed party policy program—the People’s Guarantee—and spent the campaign time dumping on it. He ridiculed the party’s support for a carbon tax to replace the Liberal’s confusing Cap and Trade. He has no respect for our environment.

Under the confused rules of the leadership race, Ford won with fewer individual party votes and the support of fewer electoral districts. In a truly democratic (one-person, one-vote) contest, Christine Elliott would have won.

But it was the angry and the bitter and the anti-women’s rights crowd who turned to Ford. It was the shallowness of what remains of Rob Ford’s Ford Nation that contributed the numbers. It was the gun advocates of the Ontario Landowners. It was the anti-wind turbine cranks. It was greed and avarice that won for Doug Ford.

If you want Doug Ford in control in Ontario, God help you.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Choosing champions.

Monday, March 26th, 2018

One of the aspects of populism that confuses people is that they can come from the left or the right or any other part of the political spectrum. Typically, the populist rises from the environment that generated the specific populist movement. This is why Donald Trump in the United States is not considered a populist. He just had the ego and enough money to take advantage of the opportunity. He is a narcissist, a womanizer, ignorant and incompetent and those are just some of the polite words used to describe him.

But Donald Trump’s arrogance, simplistic message and racism attracted a following among a broad swath of mainly apolitical Americans ranging from neighbourhood bigots and bikers to the Klu Klux Klan and the National Rifle Association. Not even Trump had any idea how effective those people would be at the polls. When Hillary Clinton called some of Trump’s supporters “deplorables” it helped drive them to the polls to vote against her.

In America’s red states that dominate middle America, the God-fearing, embittered and concerned right had no one else to vote for as president. It was this odd coalition of the holy and the unholy who won the electoral college to make Trump president.

In Canada, we are seeing a somewhat similar situation developing in the planned June election in Ontario. Nobody is suggesting that Doug Ford is as racist and incompetent as Mr. Trump but there is some confusion between Ford and his late brother Rob Ford, the crack-cocaine smoking and plain-spoken populist mayor of Toronto for one term.

Rob Ford was the get-even mayor of Toronto. His one term as mayor created chaos. It held the city up for ridicule on late night television in the United States and in British tabloids.

While Doug Ford, the older brother, served one term in his brother’s former council seat, it was Rob who was the populist. Since the forced amalgamation of the city by the Harris Conservatives, there has been a serious schism growing in Toronto between the downtown inner city and its suburbs. Without their local politicians and councils, the suburbs have felt isolated.

What made matters worse in a city of 630 square kilometers, that rises from the downtown up steep hills, the inner-city politicians declared war on the automobile. The suburbs saw their routes to downtown congested with restricted bicycle lanes and no better public transportation services in the offing. Enter populist Rob Ford to save the day.

But Rob Ford is dead and his brother Doug failed to replace him as mayor. Doug Ford is no populist.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Can you put it on a hat?

Friday, March 23rd, 2018

We used to use bumper stickers but cars do not have bumpers any more. Now we are running campaigns that you can put on a hat. We are producing hats that say “Ontario drives with Ford” or “Win with Wynne” or “Horwath or horror.” That is the general view of political campaigns these days.

Just look at Doug Ford’s Trump-like rally for the lumpen proletariat the other day at a Toronto area convention centre. It was a disappointing turn out, but then, all the attendees got was candidate Ford.

He had promised that his rival for the leadership, Christine Elliott, would introduce him. The lady must have had one of those political attacks of laryngitis. Ford was introduced by his current campaign manager. Elliott was there but probably not in spirit.

It was a small but easy to please crowd. What is left of Ford Nation came for the free lunch and the conservatives came to commiserate with each other. Nobody expected to learn anything. Nothing was learned. The news media were wondering why they were there? There was nothing for them to report.

A candidate for any office that speaks in words you can put on a hat, does not provide much copy for think pieces. A story that begins and ends with the single thought on a hat, such as ‘Lynch the Liberals,’ is hardly loaded with usable news copy.

This keeps reminding us of North Bay’s favourite golf pro and former Ontario premier Mike Harris. He was the premier who said something like “Will nobody rid me of those meddlesome Indians?” He got his wish when the Ontario Provincial Police went and shot one of them. An unarmed protestor, Dudley George, was dead and premier Mike Harris’ problems at Ipperwash Park went away.

But give Harris the credit for promising more, even if it was just the “Common Sense Revolution” on a hat. Harris, like Ford, stupidly insisted in cutting everything. He even cut the provincial inspectors who made sure we had clean drinking water. In Walkertown, Ontario an E.coli outbreak killed five Ontario citizens and made many more seriously ill. Harris saved us taxpayers a few dollars and ended up costing us many millions. Now there are foolish people in this province who want to give someone like Doug Ford the same opportunity.

The good thing for the Wynne Liberals in all of this is that they do not have to keep promising to spend on a myriad of promises. All they really need is better writers for their hats.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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