Posts Tagged ‘Ontario’

‘Unencumbered as I am by experience.’

Thursday, January 16th, 2020

Ontario education minister Stephen Lecce is no mystery. Politics is full of people like him. Their ability as a con artist is far more important than any particular experience or training. They are chameleons.

Lecce was actually prime minister Stephen Harper’s discovery. He gave the handsome young man a job right out of political science at Western University in London, Ontario. The kid had the gift. With absolutely no background or experience, Harper put Lecce on the PMO’s communications staff.

Mind you, the prime minister’s communications staff in those days was something of an oxymoron. They were hardly there to dispense information. They were there to close ranks, to hue to the party line (as directed), lie when necessary and to protect the office and the person of their leader. Their willingness to lay down their bodies to protect their boss, was the essential criteria.

It was the loss of power in 2015 that sent the young Lecce back to Kleinburg, Ontario. He already had his heart set on the provincial nomination in King-Vaughan. It is an area that I have always supposed provided the country estates for retired Toronto mafioso. All Lecce had to do was open a small public relations business with one major client; himself. He obviously had the right connections as he was elected in 2018 to the Doug Ford juggernaut.

But he did not get his real chance until June of 2019 when Ford had to replace Lisa Thompson as education minister. He did not even have to shave properly. He was dumped unceremoniously into negotiations with Ontario’s education unions. And by then, the unions were angry. It was not pretty.

But the only people who are buying the Lecce BS are the news media. All Lecce had to do was start recanting on all the demands of his predecessor. It is absolutely amazing that Premier Ford has an education minister, managing a $23.9 billion budget, who went to St Michael’s College School, reputed to be the most expensive private school for bullies in Ontario. On top of that, his parliamentary secretary, 22-year old Sam Oosterhoff MPP, was home schooled.

This is the Doug Ford conservative government. Nobody with experience need apply.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

Being a liberal is tough.

Wednesday, January 15th, 2020

Maybe I am not the only liberal who wonders where my party went. I got a copy of a rather angry e-mail the other day from a liberal in my riding of Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte. The e-mail was to the provincial party president. I know that this letter-writing liberal is a hard-working supporter of both the federal and provincial party and, over the years, has been generous in supporting the party and its candidates, as well as a reliable canvasser during elections.

But he is worried. He is disappointed that his provincial riding association has not held a meeting in the last year and a half. He is worried that the provincial party in our riding is moribund. He is annoyed that he has not had an opportunity to meet or talk to any of the candidates for the job of provincial leader. He does not think that liberal party members are getting a proper opportunity to evaluate the candidates. He complains that the party only seems to want him for his wallet. He wants to be respected by the party for more than the money he contributes.

And would you believe that the federal party is worse than the provincial. In Ontario, the federal and provincial parties share the same electoral district boundaries except in the extreme north. If there was ever a time when the federal and provincial liberals could benefit from working together, it is now. We need the synergy. We need the shared experience. We need to build momentum.

I could add a few things to that liberal’s e-mail. I am outraged that when by a vote of 57 per cent, at its last annual meeting, the party called for a leadership vote for every member of the party, it was refused. This is supposed to be a democratic party and anything other than 50 per cent plus one is an affront to democracy. The party wanted a democratic selection and it cannot be denied. Anything else was to declare any choice undemocratic and subject to corrupt practices.

And I would hardly charge $250 to $600 per delegate to attend the event. That is the most undemocratic aspect of a possibly corrupted convention. The liberal party needs to get with the times.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

The gang that can’t sell pot.

Sunday, January 12th, 2020

It pains us to consider the lengths some cartel bosses would go to if it happened to them. Imagine an outfit that cannot even make a profit selling marijuana. We are talking about the Ontario government here! After a full year in the business of selling the stuff, the government swore that they only lost $42 million. While the private sector is doing the heavy lifting in start-up costs, Doug Ford and his incompetents paid out more for product than they could earn in revenue.

And the problem was simple. They did not have the retail outlets to satisfy the market demand. They had strangled the critical need for distribution. They thought 25 stores plus mail order could satisfy the largest provincial market in Canada. Compare that to Alberta, with a market of less than a third of Ontario, having more than 200 stores in operation at the same time.

It is not as though Ontario consumers did without their pot from the government-licensed dealers first fiscal year. Their friendly neighbourhood dealer—with much lower overheads—was there for them. These unlicensed dealers had better prices, quality and even home delivery, if that was your pleasure. They carry their nickel bags in the left pocket and the dime bags in the right. Just tell your dealer your preference in potency.

What is intriguing is the potential for the illegal market to offer their grandma’s own recipes for brownies and other edibles. Judging by the pricing we are hearing for gummy bears and baked goods from the licensed establishments, the home-made products should have an easy time competing.

If all goes according to the government plan, by the end of 2020, Ontario hopes to have almost as many licensed establishments in business as Alberta does now. And the Ontario government apologists will tell you that with a straight face.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

The road downhill for Ontario casinos.

Friday, January 3rd, 2020

Being a kid when Bugsy Siegel and organized crime put Las Vegas on the world map, I have always been cautious of people who offer the opportunity to risk your gambling money. I always assume that they are not doing it to be benevolent. You have to be careful of your money. As much as I like to gamble, I am always wary.

That was why when I started going to Las Vegas as a young man, I also started reading books on gambling. I learned that there was much more to it than just keeping an eye on the dealer. When I realized that I was going to lose more often than win, I looked for strategies to minimize losses and improve winnings. The wife and I have our rules when gambling and we stick to them.

For the past 25 years, we have been welcomed at Casino Rama near Orillia. We know the dealers, craps crews, supervisors and staff that used to make it such a friendly and fun place. We would often go for dinner and a show, compliments of the casino. That was until Gateway Casinos and Entertainment took over the management of the largest casino in the province. And to add insult to injury, they also took over the nearby Innisfil Slots operations, as it expanded to add table games.

That was also when Woodbine Entertainment put in its temporary casino at the racetrack. The three casinos have gone downhill together. Woodbine hardly cares. Its temporary casino is ugly, unfriendly, cold and uninterested in its customers. In the largest market in Canada, it can always get more. It doesn’t even think it needs to go the expense of offering proper craps tables—and that shows how little these companies know about casinos. It is the craps tables that are the heart of a casino. They are an important draw. The casinos I have known that excluded craps tables did so for racist reasons.

But what is the main draw at any major casino in Las Vegas and around the world is good food. Woodbine is lucky, it has had good food for many years.

But I would advise people going to Rama or Innisfil casinos these days that they eat first. When the Innisfil Casino offers you a free lunch, that is frankly what I think it is worth. Rama’s popular Cedar restaurant has been turned into a low-class hamburger joint with high prices. Better you get something tasty from Tim Horton’s.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

Liberals are not dead in Ontario.

Thursday, January 2nd, 2020

It seems we do have a contest for the leadership of the Ontario liberals. While overshadowed by the Trudeau party in Ottawa, this Ontario group is starting to come together. They do not seem to know much about making good videos but I sat through a streaming video of the candidate’s presentations to learn more about some of them.

I might have recently mentioned that I wanted to hear what motivates Kate Graham, a political science teacher at the University of Western Ontario. She seems very smart but she needs a political speech writer. And after hearing her speak, I am still not sure why she is buying her way into this race.

In comparison, Michael Coteau MPP is aggressively going down the road talking the talk. I like his approach and I have followed his campaign closely. Some smart ass at party headquarters must have moved my name and e-mail address to Don Valley East riding that Michael represents in the legislature. As I am a former candidate from that area, he must wonder that we have never met.

They must have released the party lists to all the candidates now and Steven Del Duca was the next to send me his solicitation for support. Steven is an old-style liberal and, despite his losing his riding in the 2018 election, he reeks of back room support and confidence. The assumption is that he has the contest in the bag but we can always root for the good guys.

Mitzie Hunter MPP also spoke. She said nothing new.

But I really enjoyed hearing from Alvin Tedjo. He was obviously new to politics. He did not know that it is not liberal policy to do away with religious schools–as much as the public would support such a move. Dumping the costs of supporting separate school boards is just not on the liberal agenda, yet.

Maybe the sixth candidate for leader needs another look. All I can say about Brenda Hollingsworth at this stage is that if I ever have to appear in court in Ottawa, I would want this lady working for me. Queen’s Park just might have enough lawyers.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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

Stiffing Steel City.

Thursday, December 19th, 2019

Why does everyone take a swipe at Hamilton? It was over 100 years ago that STELCO was created and ever since, the city, the province and our country have benefitted by it. Its steel has helped create and defend our nation. Hamilton is a city built by steel.

It was no surprise that premier Ford did not have the nerve to tell the city that the Light Rapid Transit project, on which the city had already spent hundreds of millions, was losing a billion dollars that was promised in provincial funding.

To add insult to denying the funding, the provincial patsy, transport minister, Caroline Mulroney, fed the news media some Mulroney baloney about the full price being more than $5 billion. This amount was later calculated to include inflation, rough estimates and 30 years of operating costs and maintenance.

This fiasco reminds us of the famous one-stop Scarborough subway that Doug Ford was going to build in Toronto. Somebody should have warned the burghers of Hamilton that Doug Ford is famous for his promises and more famous for reneging on his promises.

Any Ontario resident who knows Hamilton knows that the city is in desperate need of good public transportation. The transit job cannot be done with just buses on already congested roads. You simply cannot reduce car and truck traffic in the city without an effective transportation alternative. Buses only add to the problems.

Caroline Mulroney was sent to Hamilton by Doug Ford to sweet talk the news media into believing that Ford had the city’s best interest at heart. Frankly, it is unlikely that Caroline Mulroney, who was educated and worked previously in the United States, would know where Hamilton was located or anything about the city.

If there was one thing her lackies missed in her briefing, Hamilton is home to a very fine university. It was steel that built that university and you should never think of Hamiltonians as stupid. They are not.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

 

Bad government begets bad opposition.

Wednesday, December 18th, 2019

They seem to go hand in hand. The more you loath the government of the day, the more you can loath their opposition. You have to admit that the Ontario government of premier Doug Ford is a disaster. So why does his opposition in the legislature have to be so worthless?

It might just be the fault of the voters. They were so pissed with the hypocrisy and perceived errors of the liberals at Queen’s Park that they voted conservative out of spite. I think when the premier of the day, Kathleen Wynne, so amateurishly gave up before the end of the campaign, the voters trooped to the polls to make sure.

Wynne led her disgusted liberals to being less than a rump, not even allowed the designation as a political party.

But this should have been a big day for Andrea Horwath’s new democrats. They had moved up to the role of official opposition. They would get to lead off in question period. They were there to challenge the government. They were there to prevent the excesses of conservatism. They were there to protect the citizens.

And Andrea Horwath and her NDP have blown it.

The problem was that Doug Ford did not like being booed when he went out in public. He could solve this by not taking the blame for every action of his government. He solved the problem we hear by having his cabinet front for him in the legislature. “Your ministry, your problem,” he told his cabinet ministers.

It was also an opportunity for the lesser members of his cabinet to show their stuff. Stephen Lecce, from Vaughan who cut his political teeth doing communications in prime minister Stephen Harper’s office, brought his smooth approach into the troubled education ministry. And Caroline Mulroney once more, showed her incompetence trying to comprehend the transport ministry.

But the NDP have left the teachers’ unions to deal with the government. They will probably do a better job of it.

And we will discuss the Mulroney baloney tomorrow.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

When you’re not feeling the love.

Sunday, December 15th, 2019

An Ontario liberal was complaining to me the other day that he now has two liberal parties hounding him for money. He has usually been quite generous in his donations to both federal and provincial parties and their candidates but he says it has become oppressive. “I just do not feel I’m getting anything for my money,” he told me. “I used to believe I could talk to the party people about policies and political priorities. I felt that on the local level we would have policy discussions and be part of choosing our candidates.”

He told me, sadly, that amongst all the pleas for money, he is just not feeling the love.

He is upset that the candidates for the provincial leadership are ignoring Barrie. As our town is central to Ontario, we actually influence five or six ridings as well as the two that cover parts of Barrie. Yet, the leadership candidates are not coming anywhere near this neck of the woods.

That is not as bad for the three previous cabinet colleagues in the race, but it seems terribly unfair to the other three contenders. Here they are helping dispatch much of the party’s debts from the last election while the fat cats from Bay Street have already made their choice. It is the safe choice as the winner they have chosen promises no surprises.

It was supposed to be an exciting race. The candidates are three women and three men—a nice balance. There are also three with some experience and three fresh faces—all fine people and fully vetted by the party hierarchy!

I must admit that I have not found out much about Brenda Hollingworth, who jumped into the race on what was the last day for such a perilous jump. And an expensive jump, too. Hopefully we will learn something of this candidate in due course.

I am also waiting to find out more about Kate Graham from London. I understand she is an academic with a post-graduate degree in political science. I am also curious about Alvin Tedjo and his policy ideas.

The first hurdles in the race are on February 8 and 9 at the elections of delegates. This is when the regional party bosses do their stuff. They make sure that only sheep to be shorn show up for the March publicity event. Those who want to be delegates to the delegated convention are required to state their preference and the fix will be in.

That is when you will find out the first vote strength of former MPP and cabinet member Steven Del Duca from Woodbridge. What we are hearing is that the race is all over but the shouting.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Running in place.

Monday, December 2nd, 2019

The serious jogger does it when blocked by traffic or a stoplight. It is called running in place because your legs keep moving but you are not moving forward. By keeping up the motion, the jogger is not cooling down or loosing that high of a good run.

This is mentioned, because until today, the candidates for the liberal party leadership seem to have been running in place. Fund raising and team building might have absorbed most of their time but the average liberal was not seeing much action.

This lack of build up about the coming delegated convention might be the problem but I got comments from some Ontario readers that they had no idea what I was writing about the other day.

Let me explain: The Ontario Liberal Party is planning to hold a delegated convention at the Mississauga International Centre on March 7, 2020. At time of writing, there are at least five, if not six, approved contenders for the job of leader. Contender number six has yet to be approved by the party. Why the party might reject her is between her and the liberals who run the party—which is just number one of the reasons that I believe this contest is badly run.

What I was commenting on the other day was the ease with which people can manipulate this form of delegated convention. It starts in the electoral districts. There are quite a few ridings across Ontario that have less than seven members. Those are easy pickings if you need a bunch more delegates. Some ridings are also easy for a small group to take over. The only bad news is that the membership in the party closes today, if you wish to vote for delegates to the March 7 event.

What is considered particularly corrupt is the demand by the party hierarchy that all candidates to be a delegate indicate who they are supporting. In effect, the person is no longer a representative from that part of the province but a representative for that leadership candidate. It defeats the purpose of a delegated convention.

Before the delegate elections in February, I hope to provide some handicapping on the leadership race and some observations on the candidates’ credentials.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Ontario liberals are down but not out.

Saturday, November 30th, 2019

There are entirely too many media people who think that the Ontario liberals have been shut down. What they do not seem to understand is that a political party is like a very large animal when it has lost a fight. It does not surrender. It might go into a cave somewhere and lick its wounds and think. And some day soon, it is going come out of that cave, ready to fight again.

But before it gets into that fight again, it needs to decide what it wants to be. A political party is not a fixed target. It is made up of an ever-changing mass of people, many with ideas. Some of those ideas are good and some are probably stupid. It is why the party needs to assess its objectives and how it might achieve some of the good ones.

One thing you can be absolutely sure of is that the liberal party cannot win as a top-down organization. It needs a leader who can lead the party where the party wants to go. We certainly do not need another leader who thinks he or she is omnipotent. We need a party that can discuss what liberalism can be in the 21st Century. It needs a leader who can reflect the ambitions of the membership.

And if none of the six current candidates for the leadership can understand the kind of leadership needed, we better shut down this upcoming convention to choose a new leader. Why would anyone want to repeat the errors of the past that chose Kathleen Wynne?

I am not saying the lady did not try hard. She just did not know what she was doing. She never was a liberal. A liberal is a progressive in a hurry. A liberal is a social democrat with compassion.

What do we do here in Ontario? The job of the provincial government is to look after our people. We look after their education and health. We build a safe, caring environment for them with good food from our well-run farms. We build the infrastructure they need to move easily around our cities and province. We do our best to bring them jobs and opportunity. We are a tourism destination for millions from around the world. Always remember: Ontario is liberal.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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