Posts Tagged ‘Ontario’

The Ford Agenda.

Saturday, April 17th, 2021

It is hard to tell if the pandemic is helping hide premier Doug Ford’s agenda for Ontario or just slowing it down. His plans seem to be everything except the stuff you would hear in a speech from the lieutenant governor. It is enough that he keeps confusing Ontario residents on how to handle covid-19. His real agenda seems to keep coming out with surprise packages for us.

When he first took office, it was all about him. He got even with his old enemies on Toronto city council by cutting the number to be elected in half. He stopped former conservative leader Patrick Brown from running for the top dog role in Peel County. He asked the provincial police to provide him with a ‘comfort wagon’ for his trips around his province. He even picked an old friend to run the provincial cops for him.

It seemed he was also picking the least qualified people to do cabinet level jobs. The classic was the initial choice of Caroline Mulroney as attorney general. All her legal training and experience was in New York State. That did not last long. She is currently transportation minister and minister of francophone affaires. I assume, she can, at least, speak French.

Another example of his curious choices is political publicist Stephen Lecce, a graduate of a private school—St. Michaels in Toronto—as the replacement minister of education. His parliamentary assistant in this is a very young Sam Oosterhoff MPP who is a product of home schooling.  It is difficult to guess what Mr. Ford had in mind here but he would do almost anything to get rid of all those expensive teachers. Watch for more remote learning by computers when the pandemic is over.

Mr. Ford must also be less than impressed with a university education. He certainly is not rushing to save Laurentian University in Sudbury from bankruptcy during the problems created by the pandemic.

His plans to cut costs in medical care in Ontario also seem to have been upset by the pandemic. The people in the local health units around Ontario are scrambling to try to save their jobs while the actual costs of the pandemic are escalating every day.

But it is plans for his friends who have invested heavily in land around the proposed new Highway 413 that is even more concerning for him. It is a highway that makes no sense unless you own lots of land in the area and want to develop it.

Maybe, sometime, before the next provincial election, Mr. Ford will tell us what he has in mind.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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Picture That.

Wednesday, March 31st, 2021

Ontario premier Ford likes to bring some back-up when he is doing a Covid-19 presentation. It was a surprise last weekend when one of the smirking faces in the conservative back-up was that of Brampton mayor Patrick Brown. Oh, how well we know that weaselly countenance. He was even wearing a new suit to impress us.

Last time I checked, I was under the impression that Ford hated Brown. It was Ford who cancelled the election of the new Peel County Chair, who was to be the new super mayor of Caledon, Brampton and Mississauga. It forced Brown to drop down from running in that race to just running for mayor of Brampton. It was a bit of a come-down for a former member of parliament and a former leader of the Ontario conservatives. It was a step up for the guy who wrote a book about how certain conservatives in Ontario stabbed him in the back.

I first met Brown during the 2004 federal election. He was at my condo door in Barrie, Ontario, offering to shake hands. I just glared at the hand and asked him what he wanted. Here was the most unappealing person I had met in a long time and he wanted me to vote for him. It did him no good that I could see the conservative symbol on his literature. That confrontation led to a mutual dislike that has lasted.

As politicians go, Brown is an interesting study. At an early age, he probably decided that he did not like working for a living and entered politics. People familiar with politics think of him as a fairly good ‘retail’ politician. He knows how to sell the external package but you know the inner part of that melon is rotten. In parliament, he reminded me of the line from Gilbert and Sullivan that “He always voted at his party’s call.” I could never pin down what he did for his constituents.

In Ottawa, as an MP, he was an acolyte of Jason Kenney, minister of everything slippery in the Harper government.

It was Kenney who showed him how to pick strong ethnic groups for support and set him up with his trips to India. He and that hard-ass Indian president Narendra Modi were made for each other. It is why Brown had no problems winning the Sikh and sub-continent support to oust the Brampton mayor. Mind you, I am waiting for Brown to convert most of the parks in Brampton to cricket pitches—as he promised his Sikh supporters.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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Billions to nowhere.

Friday, March 26th, 2021

It seems strange to have a provincial budget that spends close to $200 billion in the coming year and ignores the most vulnerable among us. It is a budget that will increase the provincial debt by about $33 billion and raises no taxes. You have to remember that this is a conservative budget in a country locked in an outmoded constitution.

With provinces committed to funding education and health care, they have the excuse of the pandemic to fall back on. There are few savings in education as we struggle with opening and closing schools and the variables of computer education that are devolved to the caregiver—often a working-from-home parent. At the same time, the costs of health care grow exponentially as covid 19 rapes the system and as millionaire ophthalmologists and radiologists continue to play the system.

There is small relief for small business. They were hit the hardest by the lock downs that we are not even sure are over. And there is a little extra help for families with little ones.

Where the greatest needs were ignored was in the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP). More than 360,000 Ontario citizens are being forced into desperation by a program that does not and cannot meet their needs. At a time when food banks are desperate to try to continue helping, and both shelter prices in Ontario and grocery prices are rising, these people were ignored.

The conservative budget also ignored the plight of personal support workers who had received a temporary increase in wages to try to keep them working with long-term care. There was not even a continued increase for these workers. The government forgot all the promises that had been made.

Thankfully, the conservatives forgot to mention the new Highway 413 that went from nowhere west of Georgetown, through wetlands and built-up areas to crowded highways north of Toronto. If it continues to be forgotten, we will be pleased about that one aspect of the current budget.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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The upcoming battle for the GTA.

Thursday, March 25th, 2021

Some pundits are under the impression that the key battle in the coming federal election is in the greater Toronto area (GTA). They might be able to give logical support for their assumptions but I would not suggest that it is all a done deal. Some things have changed and we need to pay attention.

It takes a while for population shifts to be recognized by census and there will certainly be some new electoral districts to be considered in a few years. In the meantime, there will be some surprises in store as assumptions are not met.

To start with there is a band of ridings that starts outside of Ottawa on the east and heads toward the Windsor area. It is what we used to think of as dominated by rural conservative and Ontario Landowner voters. Many of these ridings have been absorbing newcomers who are former city dwellers and quite often liberal voters. This offers some opportunities for aspiring liberal candidates.

It is unlikely that Trudeau and his trusted henchmen will understand it. Even more serious, they could not take much advantage of the situation. They have let those ridings drift away from them. They have destroyed the base of liberal support in that area. When you have spent the last six years doing nothing with the liberals there but demand they send money, there might not be much organization left.

And we should also wonder about the shape of the liberal organization in Toronto itself. There could be a few surprises for Trudeau’s liberals in the 25 liberal seats in the city. Why? It is a tired vote. The supposed liberal supporters will be harder to motivate. These people have been taken for granted by the Trudeau liberals and some are looking for an alternative. A couple ridings could even fall to the green party—to the disappointment of the new democrats. It should come as no surprise that a higher green vote will be mostly at the expense of the NDP. What will be concerning is the slightly higher percentage of conservative votes. Combined with a slightly lower vote for the liberals could put four to five ridings at risk. Justin Trudeau should not bank on moving back to a majority government.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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Do we give Del Duca a chance?

Sunday, March 14th, 2021

Having never met Ontario liberal leader Steven Del Duca, I have not had much on which to base an opinion. All I know is that he never impressed me much in Kathleen Wynne’s cabinet. As transportation minister, he stuck his foot in it when he appeared to be pushing Metrolinx to approve another GO station in his riding. Nor did he appear to be doing much when he was moved to the economic growth and development portfolio.

But I was never at the cabinet table and that leaves me with little to go on.

For now, we can give him a chance. He has been in office for a year and the pandemic has gotten most of the media attention during that time. The bit of media coverage he received is to his credit. Not being in the legislature makes it tough to get coverage.

Del Duca has a lot of ground to cover this summer and fall. He has to be in full campaign mode next year for a June election. He has considerably more political experience than Doug Ford and he is probably smarter. That will hardly help if nobody knows him.

The better he becomes known, the harder Andrea Horwath of the new democrats will go after him. He is the blocker in her mind. She can hardly afford to lose any progressive votes to him. This will likely be her last run.

But he has to show how he can help take Ontario forward. The days of the pandemic will be behind us and he has to make it clear that a vote for Ford will take us back to the penny-pinching days of conservative premier Michael Harris.  Ontario needs growth and progress and a liberal government can make that happen.

I make no promises but a liberal government in Ontario has the chance of being progressive and recognizing the need for quick rebuilding of the economy of Ontario, along with the rest of Canada. Good planning can make that happen.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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Feeling the sting of Ford.

Saturday, March 13th, 2021

It reminds me of the story of the dog and the scorpion. “It’s my nature,” explains the scorpion before they both drown. In Ontario, we are seeing the nature of premier Doug Ford that is taking Ontario into a corrupt past.

In the same way as Donald Trump found to by-pass a reluctant Congress with presidential orders, Doug Ford has found that ministerial zoning orders (MZOs) save time and money for his friends in the development business. It also means they have more profits to put into Doug Ford’s re-election next year.

As developers can tell you, when you help get a Ford into politics, driving through the morass of environmental assessments, municipal council zoning and local community activists is easier. An MZO can put all that aside. And time and legal fees set aside is all just profit.

As developers say “We have found a friend in Ford.”

The only problem is that careful zoning, protection of wetlands and the planned development needs in Ontario are being set aside by these MZOs. It is the properties with the quick profits that are now getting the attention of Ford’s developer friends.

And Ford does not understand the problem. His one-term experience in city hall in Toronto only showed him the resistance side of zoning and planning. He and his brother saw it as a bother to their comfort position.

And to say that Doug Ford is ignorant of the rationale behind this careful and painstaking planning is only half the problem. The Ford family flotilla creates a large wake as lesser conservatives get to join in on the party.

Maybe if Ford had more time on Toronto city council, he might have come to understand what was behind all the back and forth of planning and zoning. He only saw it as a bother. Nobody is excluded from politics because of their limited education but Ford does seem to revel in his lack of a questioning mindset. We have seen it in his handling of the pandemic. There have been days when he might have listened to the experts. And there are days when he obviously did not.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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When is Day One of this plan?

Monday, March 8th, 2021

It is sad to admit that I am not overly enthusiastic about the Ontario NDP’s environmental plans for 2035. Most people tend to be skeptical of plans for when they are in their 90s. Those of us who realize we are getting older every day, tend to be more interested in plans that start today.

And people who put off environmental issues for tomorrow are damn stupid anyway. The world cannot wait. Just consider this weird winter we are experiencing in the northern hemisphere. Here we are, enjoying another spring-like day in early March, in Ontario. We are supposed to be in the throes of a miserable winter. And was it not just a couple weeks ago when Texas had a wallop of snow in a lot more than the Panhandle? While our weather forecasters go crazy, you would think that we should all be a little more concerned.

But here are the Ontario new democrats, sounding like the liberal governments of Dalton McGinty and Kathleen Wynne. The only difference is that the liberal incentives for electric-vehicle subsidies maxed out at $14,000 and the incentives became somewhat meaningless when applied to luxury vehicles.

Personally, I have wanted to go electric in my driving for quite a while. If that jerk Doug Ford had not come to power in Ontario and cancelled all the electric vehicle subsidies, I would probably be driving an electric car today. The practical concern in this has been that I want to be able drive about 600 kilometres between plug-ins. As it is, I am driving an import with a carbon-producing motor about the size required to power a lawn mower. It is only a small bow to environmental concerns.

One new part of the NDP environmental plan is the promise to retrofit five per cent of the provincial-owned buildings each year into being environmentally friendly. That might be a fine idea but they will probably find that it is better to start from scratch. They would likely save more by tearing down older, environmentally wasteful buildings and building new environmentally friendly ones.

And, as you would expect of any party eager for power, they want to create a youth corp. This one would be dedicated to greening the province.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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‘Dougie did it!’

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2021

Mother did not like those words. The youngest of my brothers was Douglas. Of the six kids, he was mother’s pride and joy. She hated to hear the words, ‘Dougie did it’ from everything such as a raid on the cookies to blood splatter. I think she stopped blaming the rest of us when her Douglas got his doctoral degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

I was thinking of that the other day when the Doug of Ford family fame and premier of Ontario stuck his foot in another barn yard plop. This is the new Highway 413 that is being proposed for the area west of Toronto.

This proposed toll highway is also known as the Toronto West corridor and goes from about nowhere to nowhere important. It is supposed to go from one of the most crowded highway corridors in Ontario, which is the Toronto to Kitchener stretch of Highway 401, to the most crowded stretch of Highway 400 in the City of Vaughan.

It is enough to make you wish that premier Doug had not fled higher learning after only two months of Humber College. He wanted to be the super salesman of his father’s decals.

Highway 413 might just be the most useless highway Ontario has ever wanted to build. And here we all thought that Highway 407/412 was going to be the last of the toll roads in the province. To keep giving away highways to private interests to bleed us for money is ridiculous. I have never understood a toll road that costs you more than that new SUV you buy every few years.

About the only excuse for the billions to be wasted on the project is as a favour to premier Doug’s developer friends. The proposed route of the highway is through some of Ontario’s most prosperous farmland, greenbelt, the Paris-Galt moraine, crowded urban development and supposedly protected wetlands.

Reading about this disaster reminded me to call my brother Doug in Ohio to see how he was doing in the pandemic. He used to be pastor of a village Presbyterian church in that part of Ontario. Times, premiers. pastors and highways change.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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The silence of Doug Ford’s lambs.

Monday, February 22nd, 2021

Sometime in the next couple months, the province of Ontario is expected to offer me the opportunity to get one or two jabs with a needle. This knowledge alone is helping to lift me out of some of my covid-19 doldrums. As I am considered to be among the more vulnerable citizens and supposedly have early access in getting the shot(s), I have been waiting for a call.

But my hopes were somewhat dashed the other day by writer Martin Regg Cohn at the Toronto Star. He says that all we are hearing is static about the arrangements. Nobody at Queen’s Park has any information for us.

And we have already heard enough from the prime minister. Justin Trudeau knows nothing about the problems facing a company making something as complex as a vaccine. It is not his fault that there are no Canadian vaccines yet available. He has placed orders with everyone now delivering and soon to be delivering. He has done his job. There are always a few glitches in delivery.

But there is no excuse for the people in Ontario who are supposed to vaccinate us. A delay in product reaching them is no time for them to sit back and carp about the incompetence of the feds. It is an opportunity for them to get their act together and make sure that everyone is ready to get their shot in the correct order.

Many had a good laugh about them bringing in the army. Personally, I would have called in Purolator. At least those people have a better idea of how to reach anybody and everybody in the province. You bring in the army when you want order and discipline, maybe someone shot—or to shovel their snow.

But why are they not spending this time getting organized? Why are they not arranging the place, who’s wielding the hypodermics, and letting us know? And bear in mind that this first squadron of people to be poked are not those you would ask to stand in line for long. These are people with health problems and maybe age working against them. And for goodness sake, do not order them around. They might fight back.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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Our failing democracy.

Thursday, January 28th, 2021

We are all responsible. We are failing to support democracy. We are making bad choices in leaders, bad choices in who represents us and failing to demand that they protect our democratic institutions and customs. And we can only blame ourselves.

We need to face the facts: our political parties are failing us. Bad leaders speak volumes about the parties they are chosen to lead. Do you think the Ontario conservatives are pleased with their choice of a blowhard such as Doug Ford as leader? Do you think rank and file new democrats across Canada are pleased with the leadership of Jagmeet Singh? He has no idea where that party needs to go. And I would say harsh words for the federal conservative leader but sometimes the parties do not get much of a choice.

But the real challenge is in the court of the federal liberals. We laughed with Justin Trudeau in 2015. We were so pleased to be rid of the Harper conservatives at the time that we did not pay enough attention. Trudeau lied to the liberal party and we let him get away with it. He promised us a new era of party resurgence. The only problem was the party could only go where he wanted it to go. And today, the liberal party is powerless to bring him to heel.

Trudeau has proved himself an elitist. He only lets the party go where he wants it to go. He and his circle rule from the prime minister’s office and never a negative word is heard.

We wondered when he holidayed with the Aga Khan. We cringed when a trip to India was a family dress-up occasion. He seemed forgetful with the We charity. He saw no problem in trying to corrupt his justice minister. He demoted and fired ministers who said ‘no,’ Gender equality seemed difficult.

And when he told us that 2015 was the last time Canadians would use first-past-the-post voting to choose a parliament, many believed him. He failed to democratize the Senate. He chose the selections of elitist committees. He burnt himself in his selection of a governor general.

Canadians want and have the right to demand truth, honesty and integrity in their prime ministers. We need to get back to that.


Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry

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