Posts Tagged ‘Ontario’

In the Wild—West of Toronto.

Thursday, June 25th, 2020

Who knew? When Barrie’s Patrick Brown, was ejected from Queen’s Park early in 2018, he picked Peel Region for his comeback. Rejected by his fellow conservatives in the legislature, Brown’s instinct was to return to municipal politics. He knows little else. He had no idea though that he had picked a region of lawlessness similar to the American West.

He had little choice. With a strong mayor already in place in Barrie, there was no hope in his home town. Brown needed an open field. His first choice was to run for the newly created elected position of chair of Peel Region. The former Peel County included the area that became the City of Mississauga, the older City of Brampton and the more rural area of Caledon.

Appalled at the idea of someone like Brown running the Peel Region, the new conservative Ontario premier Doug Ford blocked the election. He ruled the regional council would continue to appoint its own chair.

That left Brown with the only alternative of running for the mayoralty in Bampton. His connections with the South Asian community in Brampton gave him a base vote. Plus being a conservative in former premier Bill Davis’ home town did not hurt either.

But Brown had little knowledge of the problems in the region. With an area twice that of Toronto and about half the population, Peel Region has less than half the police to cover it. And about half of the population of the region was born outside of Canada. That statistic is not reflected in the members of the Peel Region police.

The other day in Brampton, Peel Region police broke into a Muslim gentleman’s home shouting in English and with tasers and guns blazing. The family was concerned about the man (who did not speak English) being off his meds and the police killed him.

And now we hear the other day, a female officer in Mississauga pulled out her gun and shot a black woman—who had already been tasered and was lying on the ground.

Things in Peel Region have been going sideways since Brown got there.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

Dougie has “lost the plot.”

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2020

A chap from ‘Ole Blighty’ was talking the other day about the United Kingdom’s prime minister Boris Johnson. He said “Bo-Jo has lost the plot.” The description fits too many politicians today. Johnson is just one of many. America’s Trump certainly fits the part. The Donald seems to have never read the script. The point is that there are too many pseudo politicians today who think the play is about them. And it is more serious the closer they are to home.

Consider Ontario premier Doug Ford. He has the news media all excited that they are seeing a new Doug Ford because of the job he appears to be doing on the pandemic.

They seem to forget that this is the candidate who was least qualified for the job of premier in Ontario. He came into the job two years ago in total ignorance of what the position entailed. His first serious action was to get even with the Toronto politicians who ridiculed him when he was a Toronto councillor in the seat of his late brother Rob. In a truly destructive act, he cut the number of Toronto city council seats in half when the election process was already underway.

His first cabinet was a collection of prima donnas and blowhards. They were playing their own games and he soon had to start replacing bad actors. Caroline Mulroney quickly proved that her training and experience in New York was of little use in Ontario. But again, legal experience was hardly the consideration when Dougie replaced Mulroney with a small-town ward healer from Severn, up near Orillia. He put a trusted sycophant in finance and replaced a fumbling education minister with a slick operator who had interned with Stephen Harper.

But what really happened was the coronavirus. Both Dougie and his health minister found they had no choice but follow the lead of Ottawa and the health professionals. The only thing that would keep Dougie from getting into serious trouble in the next two years would be if the pandemic lasted that long.

The point is, Dougie does not know how to be a good premier.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

The new Ford is still a Model T.

Monday, June 15th, 2020

Not to be confused with products of the Ford Motor Company, today’s comment is about Ontario premier Doug Ford. It harks back a hundred years to that time when you could have any colour of Ford Model T, as long as it was black. And you need to face facts Ontario, the model Ford you bought in the 2018 provincial election is the same ignorant, blowhard you are seeing today.

Just because an incautious news media tells you Doug Ford has changed, why should you believe it? Why do you think he usually appears for those Queen’s Park briefings with two or three of his more credible ministers? This does not display self-confidence. This is a man relishing his time of control but ready to step aside and let someone else take the blame.

His favourite fall-guy is minister of education, Stephen Lecce. While the pandemic takes away the headlines, Lecce has been quietly giving in to teachers’ demands for when classes are returned. And watching him in action, you have to admit, the pandemic has taken much of the wind from Lecce’s sails.

Ford might think he has been smart to keep health minister Christine Elliott in the forefront. If only that lady knew how to dress for her job and control her facial muscles when listening to Ford speak, she would have a future in politics.

Using economic development minister Vic Fedeli for some supposed financial credibility in those one-act TV plays at Queen’s Park is probably Ford’s weakest move. It is more like inviting a viper to a friendly picnic in the park.

But Doug Ford has not changed. He is biding his time. Nobody wants this pandemic over and done with any sooner than the label salesman from Toronto. This nasty man has more mindless conservative extremist measures to inflict on Ontario. Be ready, be watchful.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

The future is ours.

Wednesday, May 27th, 2020

As the song asks, “How ya gonna keep ‘em down on the farm, after they’ve seen Paree?” That was a song that many believed after the First World War. It is also a lament for those politicians who think they can give the public greater freedoms and then expect to be able to take them back. There is too much blowback.

Take the simplest of changes. Ontario premier Doug Ford slipped one in recently that I did not notice. It is called off-sale of alcohol by bars and restaurants. It means that a customer, ordering a pick-up or delivery order can include a bottle or so of appropriate wines or beers to go with the order. It is what we used to call bootlegging.

I was quite pleased to see this convenience on the web site of one of my favourite restaurants. That is smart marketing. Not that the restaurant had the advantage for long. When one leads, the others will follow. The only mistake I see being made is that the restaurants are trying to get away with their normal doubling of the price of the wine. They can probably get away with a $3 or $4 convenience charge but doubling the price of a decent wine is a bit stiff. You can justify a higher mark-up when it is served at dinner in the restaurant but not when it is an off-sale.

As it is, I am getting used to ordering my weekly box of goodies from the liquor control board. They have the order ready for me when I get to the store—no line-up, no waiting. I would be happier though if the LCBO would fix that damn ordering program. It is clunky, over-sensitive and badly designed.

Over the years in the computer industry, I never wrote a line of code but, at different times I had programmers reporting to me on projects. They would bring me their completed code for this or that part of the project. The objective was to see if I could find fault in how it carried the function. I did, too often!

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

“Do as I say, not as I do.”

Thursday, May 14th, 2020

It is part of being of the political elite. We have no royals like the Brits. And we have little of America’s Hollywood. We have to settle for talking and speculating about our politicians. We put them on pedestals and then complain when they take advantage of their position to do as they wish.

And even a provincial premier can end up falling off their pedestal for doing what we were told specifically not to do. Premier Doug Ford of Ontario got ripped for telling us not to go north to our cottages over the Easter weekend. Yet he made a quick trip up to his family’s Lake Country cottage—to check the plumbing—we were told.

And then for Mothers’ Day, the premier had all four daughters home to honour their mother. He thinks that it is alright as he did not invite the sons-in-law. He apparently does not realize that they might be sleeping with his daughters.

But the elitist el supremo in this country is our prime minister. As the eldest son of Pierre Trudeau, Justin has spent a life of privilege. He hobnobs with the rich and famous. He is a long-time friend of the Aga Khan, one of the world’s ten richest royals. You might remember when the prime minister and his family spent Christmas with him on the Khan’s island in the Bahamas. (Last we heard, the RCMP still had not reimbursed the Khan for accommodating the PM’s security detail.)

Justin’s latest display of his elitism was sending his wife and children to Harrington Lake in Quebec last month after she recovered from her bout of covid-19 at Rideau Cottage in Ottawa. Travel between residences has been banned in both provinces and unnecessary travel between provinces is also being discouraged. While it is easy to understand the wish to visit with his wife and children, Canadians do not need a reminder that Justin Trudeau considers himself to be exempt from any rules.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

Facing facts for Ford’s fortunes.

Saturday, May 9th, 2020

So, you think Ontario premier Doug Ford is riding the white charger towards a 2022 election victory? You are probably deluding your self. Much can happen in the next two years. And there is more than enough of the old-Ford poking through the current veneer to convince us that he has hardly traded in his crude, rude and bombastic approach to politics. What Ford has shown too many times is his impatience for political realities.

What he has yet to realize is that if you want to drain the swamp at Queen’s Park, you had better have planned ahead for questions, such as, ‘Where are the alligators going to live?’.

But pre-planning is not Ford’s forte. He is, at best, an uneducated, seat-of-the-pants salesman. When it is your father’s business, you can sometimes get away with bluff and bluster. And his late brother left him with a limited understanding of politics. His first 18 months at Queen’s Park were not so easy.

Ford was rescued by a pandemic. He started out bluffing it, and then looked around and realized that everyone else was just as confused, and as scared as he was. He also saw that the smart politicians were listening to the medical experts and following their instructions. He could do that. With some rough spots and a bit of bluster now and then, he got with the program.

Unlike prime minister Trudeau who does a single at the Rideau Cottage cuckoo clock, Ford uses political and civil service back-up for his briefings. Sometimes, it is worth it to watch health minister Christine Elliott’s limited range of expressions as Ford does his spiel

Ford must have liked it when he started getting kudos on how good a job he is doing. That could go to his head.

And he looked silly as he vacillated on the question of people going to their cottages. The economy of the lake country of Ontario depends on that traffic north that marks holiday times.

In politics, it is win some, lose some. It is still a long way to the next election in Ontario.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

Give Ford the credit he deserves.

Wednesday, April 29th, 2020

Premier Doug Ford of Ontario had two choices. He could continue the bombast and bluff of his usual approach to politics, or he could learn from his mistakes and tone down the rhetoric. His new approach is far from perfect but it shows that unlike his first year as premier, he can learn. It is good to see, but is it a smoke screen or reform?

In the provincial briefings that he learned to do from Justin Trudeau, you get the feeling that he would prefer to do the act as a single. Maybe it was from watching Trudeau that he realized he had neither the glibness nor the experience. He always has some experienced political people at those briefings, to try to keep him out of trouble.

It was like the experience with the teachers. When Lisa Thompson MPP fumbled the 25-plus billion education budget in Ontario, she was just doing what she was told. She was told to save money. Thompson followed her conservative instincts, fired teachers and increased class sizes.

But what neither Thompson nor Ford seemed to understand was that it was the teachers and their unions that had been keeping the liberals in power until the 2018 election. They had awoken a sleeping giant. They reminded the teachers’ unions of their strengths. The unions savaged Thompson. They drew more attention to the Ford government’s ineptness in power.

Ford had to bring in the A-team. He had kept the smooth-talking Stephen Lecce, a young conservative who was trained by auto dealer Al Palladini and impressed Stephen Harper, in reserve.

When Lecce, in his sharp suits and sophisticated tonsorial style, appeared to settle down the teachers, the battle was joined. To Doug Ford’s disappointment, the battle was won by the teachers. Lecce, in a creased suit and badly in need of a barber has signed armistices with the major teachers’ unions.

But it was minor news compared to the pandemic. That is the ongoing battle that consumes us all. Doug Ford has learned some lessons. It will be interesting to see if he remembers them after Ontario gets back to work.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

A phony Ford forges forward.

Saturday, April 11th, 2020

It is hard to believe that it is so easy to con Martin Regg Cohn of the Toronto Star. The provincial affairs specialist wrote a piece the other day admiring the new version of premier Doug Ford he is seeing at Queen’s Park. What Regg Cohn is missing is that at a time when the rest of the world is fighting the war against the novel coronavirus, Ontario premier Doug Ford is campaigning as though the next provincial election is less than a month away.

The truth is that Doug Ford despises reporters such as Regg Cohn. I can hear the voice of his late brother Rob Ford at Doug’s ear telling him, “Do not abuse; Use.”

Rob Ford might have been a crack-cocaine smoking doper and a hard-drinker but he was also a very savvy politician. He took along his brother to do a radio program in Toronto and taught him what he needed to know. And Doug Ford, despite being a bellicose boor, learned his lessons. He is hardly a one trick pony today, with the false news on his Twitter feed with its highly biased version of ‘Ontario News Now.’ He is also offering to make special appearances (via telephone) on local radio stations around the province.

But, even if the station has any personnel left who are trained in newsgathering, Doug prefers to be interviewed by the scheduled disc jockeys. These used to be trained professionals years ago but where these ones were trained, or if they were, is a mystery to me. Doug is in control of these appearances. It is some of the worst political BS, I have heard in recent years. To listen to the premier talk so rapturously about our MPP—the less than adequate attorney general, our local member of the legislature. It is enough to get you to do a visual review of your breakfast.

And these amateur disc jockeys love it. Ford flatters them. His histrionics over covid-19 are embarrassing. His ignorance is relatively well hidden. He just follows the advice from the last century by author Dale Carnegie, to flatter fools fulsomely.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

Dougie dumbs it down.

Tuesday, March 31st, 2020

You get the impression that our Ontario premier goes to the office each day hoping to find new things to screw up for Ontario residents. Despite the tantrum he threw the other day over a high-priced grocery store overcharging for sanitary wipes, I never get the impression that he is on our side. He is not.

I do not believe of making lists of peoples’ failings and in Doug Ford’s case I have probably forgotten half of them anyway. I think the reason is the lack of logic in what he and his troop of clowns decide to tackle. For some reason, he had taken aim at price gouging this past week.

It was Dougie’s ‘whim of the week.’ He is proposing fines of as much as a $100,000 for price-gouging convictions and up to a year in jail. If he could go after a federally incorporated company such as Bell Canada, I would settle for just the board of Bell going to jail for a year. Bell just raised the price of already over-priced Internet services by another $7 a month. Add that up for close to three million customers and you are talking about a billion dollars in annual cash flow. Bell could pay a $100,000 fine from petty cash.

But the most serious problem is that Dougie and the rest of his troop do not think things through. The gang heard that some people might be stock piling their meds. The government’s solution was to stupidly cut back on certain meds that are for long-term conditions such as with heart and diabetes. These drugs are usually supplied on a three-month schedule. I really doubt anyone would over-dose on any of them. There is certainly no black market for them. Nor are they in danger of being in short supply. All this incompetent government did was increase the costs for private drug plans and seniors. Instead of one co-pay for these prescriptions every three months, we now have to pay the co-pay three times. I really do not think my local Shoppers Drug Mart needs that extra $12 per prescription every three months from seniors!

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

Leadership is in the eyes of the followers.

Sunday, March 22nd, 2020

Bob Hepburn of the Toronto Star wrote an opinion piece last week that commented on Doug Ford of Ontario looking “downright ‘leaderly’.” I rarely argue with Hepburn, but in this case, I sense some wishful thinking. True, Ford is running a notch or two ahead of Trump but nobody ever saw that as a high bar.

I don’t think anyone convinced Ford of anything. I think they simply scared him into acting the way he is. He didn’t need a visit from Marley’s ghost to warn him of the coming visitations. He simply left behind the childish traits of bluster and braggadocio that have been his trademark in politics. It was time to act grown up.

I must have seen some of the same news clips as Mr. Hepburn. I agree that Ford acted as he believed a real leader might. None of the usual bombast was a treat in itself. The guy felt he had to stick with the prepared script. He has no ad libs for a coronavirus.

Let’s face it, Doug Ford is no Donald Trump. He is not rich enough. He is not a good enough con man. He does not have as much ego. He got much of his political training from his late brother Rob. As mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford knew how to pull the mantle over himself for the rough spots. Their mother was watching.

But when he got to Queen’s Park and the corner office, Doug had no idea how to act. His bluster was real. He really did not know what he was doing. He launched a vendetta against anything those liberals had done and got himself in lots of trouble. He fired and hired and made a mess of it. He cut budgets he should not have and missed the low-hanging fruit. He thought he could look like the big-man on campus and made himself look stupid.

And he is probably not any smarter today. He has not learned much but he might not be as easy to catch. We will watch him.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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