Posts Tagged ‘Ontario’

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!


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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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.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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The imperfect timing of Doug Ford.

Saturday, March 14th, 2020

It seems that no matter what he does, Ontario’s premier Doug Ford, finds that it always costs more than he saves when he makes cuts in Ontario’s government budgets. It costs him money to fire people. It costs him money to cancel projects. It costs him friends when he cuts health or education budgets. And when he tries to give friends jobs, he is held up to ridicule by the media. He is beginning to think it is just that he does some things at the wrong time.

Probably the best example of Doug’s bad timing is this Covid-19 pandemic. Why only a year ago, he had decisively dumped some of the costs of public health services on Ontario’s municipalities. Even Mayor John Tory of Toronto dumped all over him for that.

But Doug Ford is not without experience at fixing things for people who are upset. He tells them that his government is restoring funding—maybe not all the funding—but maybe enough of the funding to get him off the hook for being a curmudgeon. He gave the whole thing a grace period and it would be in 2020 that some cuts would still be made. Which everyone grumbled about but figured it could have been worse.

And welcome to 2020. The budget-squeezed public health services had been complaining but are still doing their jobs. Nobody told the public health people that in 2020, they were going to have to face a possible pandemic called a coronavirus or Covid-19.

The only person that Covid-19 has helped is Ontario finance minister Rod Phillips. It means he can blow the lid off his projected $9 billion deficit planned for the coming fiscal year. He has to give the health ministry and others whatever they need to help battle the pandemic.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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“Most stupid people are conservative.”

Monday, March 9th, 2020

This will be of small comfort to premier Doug Ford of Ontario. A friend reminded me the other day of the quote from 19th Century philosopher John Stuart Mill that “Although it is not true that all conservatives are stupid people, it is true that most stupid people are conservative.” And the Ford government keeps on proving it.

Mind you, I am concerned that Ontario’s teachers might have not yet recognized that they have won their battle. It is time for them to take a victory lap and get the hell back to work. They have inconvenienced the parents long enough. Goodwill is a fragile commodity.

All teachers should have two side-by-side pictures in their classroom. Both pictures should be of education minister, Stephen Lecce. In the first, you will be able to admire the fine cut of that expensive suit, the positiveness of his demeanour, the toothy smile and the smooth trim of that immature beard. That is the first picture.

The second picture should show him snugged into his straight jacket, the wild look in his eyes, the mussed hair and the craven look of defeat. This should be what victory looks like.

But I warned the friend that despite the general consensus in Ontario that Doug Ford is something of a jerk, about 25 to 30 per cent of the voters are yellow-dog conservatives. And that, no matter what, they still want to vote for Mr. Ford and his conservatives. Short of putting a bounty on them, they are going to the polls and voting that way.

The problem is further befuddled that another 25 to 30 per cent of Ontario voters are yellow-dog liberals. They might have a slightly different attitude. The only real difference between them is that they tend to be city mice. They are also inclined to be a bit more progressive.

It should also be noted that there are those who are of the dying breed of socialists who like to sing Solidarity Forever. These NDP still have about 15 per cent of the voters supporting them. It is more for the sake of nostalgia than any idea that it will take them anywhere.

But this still leaves a bunch of voters who are not really committed. These are the people who vote against something or get behind the voting screen and say, “Eeny, meany, miney, moe,” close their eyes and vote. You would like to think these people really decide the election but they often just go with the flow.

Obviously, it is not just conservatives who can be stupid.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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Well, that was a waste of time.

Sunday, March 8th, 2020

Ontario liberals have a new leader. It was a fairly decent event. I only caught some parts of it that were streamed on the Internet. It was a good technical effort but I think the party brass scrimped on the lighting and technical equipment.

The numbers there were credible for a party that knew who was going to win. Not many of us want to spend our Saturday morning listening to political speeches but some of it was fun. The robot was a bit silly but I liked some of the things Mr. Tedjo was saying.

He was saying something very important about education in Ontario. I made the mistake of saying the same thing as a candidate 50 years ago. The government has to get out of the religion business in schools. We need a single education system that puts the student first. It might not be a good one-size-fits-all approach at first but it allows the scope needed to accommodate. We are wasting money on religion. (Mind you, French language classes should be mandatory from grade one.)

But back to the results of the liberal leadership: It will not be long until Ontario voters wonder what might be the difference between this leader and the last one. All I can say is that the last one was the one with hair and personality.

What was wrong with this event was that it was that it had no excitement, no surprise—if you discount the robot. It was a bit forced.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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A weekend of infamy.

Thursday, March 5th, 2020

Ontario liberals are wasting their money this weekend as they gather in Mississauga to confirm a new leader. With a new leader, about half a million in the bank and some good media coverage, the party should be ready to roar back at Doug Ford’s hapless Tories.

But it will not be long though until Ontario voters wonder what might be the difference.

It is the same problem as the American democratic party is having with its corrupt system of choosing presidential candidates. If you look at the history of those boring delegated conventions in the U.S., you realize that, in the main, they drill down to the blandest candidates. It is all manipulated anyway.

What happened to the republican party four years ago was that a pompous ass kept threatening to buy the republican convention, so they gave it to him. Donald Trump bought that convention at a fire-sale price.

To nobody’s amusement, New York billionaire Michael Bloomberg tried the Trump technique on the democratic party this time around and nobody bought it. Bloomberg wasted some of his billions.

But, thankfully, the situation is different in Canada. It would be foolish to say it cannot happen here but we are actually seeing variations of that in Ontario in recent leadership contests.

When Patrick Brown bought the Ontario conservative leadership in 2015, it cost in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Where the money came from is only conjectured. Brown hired the organizers from Hindi temples and Muslim mosques. They sponsored parties throughout Ontario to which they invited both citizens and recent immigrants from the Sub-Continent. Of the 100,000 of these people in Ontario, the organizers signed up close to 40,000 as members of the Ontario progressive conservative party. They could pay the $10 membership fee or the organizers would pay it for them.

In Del Duca’s case the membership fee was $20 (for two years) but he only needed to sign up 14,000 to swamp the existing liberal party membership. Back when I worked on the party newspaper in Ontario, the party had 70,000 paying members. That was back when Ontario parties were run with a higher regard for honesty.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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The downhill dance of Doug Downey.

Wednesday, March 4th, 2020

It is all Caroline Mulroney’s fault. Nobody wants a member of the legislature who constantly embarrasses the people in his riding. We sure got that in spades in Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte. And if only Caroline Mulroney knew more about Canadian and Ontario legal traditions, she would still be attorney general.

Instead, Ontario has the embarrassing Doug Downey, a small-town lawyer from Severn, Ontario, as attorney general. Ford parachuted him into the Barrie area seat to keep Patrick Brown out. It is not that I think Downey is stupid but he seems to be in dereliction of duty when he does what his boss, Doug Ford tells him to do. Consider Downey’s struggles to change how we appoint judges in Ontario:

Downey’s boss is not a highly educated person. He is a great believer in cronyism. He wants people in positions of power in Ontario to be good conservatives—this includes judges.

But how is Downey going to tell the good guys from the bad guys if he is only sent two recommendations of qualified people, when he asks the independent committee to give him some recommendations?

There might have been more than a couple of formal letters go back and forth here. The upshot was that he finally asked the committee to send him a list of all the applicants. It would appear that Downey was going to put cronyism ahead of having qualified judges.

That might have made sense to Downey but it outraged many of the legal community in Ontario. The province has an envied reputation throughout Canada and the U.S. for its non-partisan judicial appointments.

But what should be obvious to all in Ontario is that this guy Downey does not seem to have read the specifications for his job at Queen’s Park. As chief law officer for the province, he has a responsibility to advise the premier and the various ministers of the crown on how to stay out of legal entanglements. Failure to provide this advice and/or having it ignored is not acceptable for an honourable person. He should resign.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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The difference between men and boys.

Friday, February 21st, 2020

It seems that the difference between men and boys is generally believed to be the size of their toys. We might see a real-life difference soon if former MPP Steven Del Duca wins the leadership of the Ontario liberals. And, then again, we might find that Del Duca is not all that different from Ontario premier Doug Ford.

They both like playing with trains. They do not seem to like just being observers. They want to pull on those engineers’ caps and toot the whistle themselves. Organizationally, Ford should leave the job to his transport minister, but since that is currently Caroline Mulroney, she knows far less than he does on the subject—not that he knows much!

Del Duca, at least, did a stint as transport minister under Kathleen Wynne. He got demoted before he could get Metrolinx to add a GO station in his riding. Not only is it considered a no-no at Queen’s Park to interfere with an arms-length planning agency such as Metrolinx, the station in Del Duca’s riding had already been considered and found unnecessary.

But we should all be more curious about Doug Ford’s ‘Ontario Line.’ This is a Toronto subway line that starts from nowhere—somewhere around the Exhibition Grounds—and ends up at the extremely busy junction of Don Mills and Eglinton Avenue. It makes you wonder just what he has in mind for the Lake Ontario end of the line? And why is the plan feeding that supposed relief line into an already congested junction at the Eglinton end?

But his problems are hardly as obvious as when Ford wanted the provincial police to provide him with a large van with a bed in it for him to tour Ontario. We will have to write that one off as inexperience. Our only concern might be if Ford ever gets to understand his job. He would be even more dangerous than he is now.

Mind you, two years from now, Ontario voters could be faced with continuing to write off the NDP and having to choose between a more experienced Doug Ford and a Steven Del Duca, who understudied Kathleen Wynne.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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Coteau fights on for Ontario leadership.

Monday, February 17th, 2020

In an e-mail the other day, Michael Coteau promised his supporters that he will fight on against the status quo for Ontario liberals. With Steven Del Duca poised with a majority of elected delegates, Coteau stands Canute-like challenging the tides. It will be decided quickly on March 7 at the Mississauga International Centre when the ex officio voters join the delegates from ridings and various liberal clubs. There is little reason to expect a majority of ex officio voters to vote for party reform. They have an invested interest in the status quo.

With the Del Duca campaign orchestrated by Queen’s Park denizen, Tom Allison, I have no expectation of any surprises. Allison was the supposed organizing guru behind both Ontario liberal leaders Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne.

While my days at Queen’s Park pre-dated Allison’s, I always wanted to keep the party moving forward. I felt that Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne would have been more comfortable in a conservative government. I did give McGuinty credit for his better protection of the Ontario environment and cleaning up the mess left to Ontario by the Mike Harris conservatives.

But I saw Wynne as reactionary and more interested in the news conferences about what she intended to do rather than the actual action. I was appalled at the manipulation she did in the deal with Glen Murray, the MPP in Toronto Centre, the week before the delegated convention that chose her as leader of the liberal party. By his stepping out of the race at that point, he dropped all his delegates into the independent category, knowing the ones from his riding would vote for her. The move added to the corruption of an already corrupt system of choosing the leader.

I do not trust Stephen Del Duca to be a progressive leader of the liberal party. Real liberals can do better.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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Ontario liberals need leadership.

Wednesday, February 12th, 2020

Ontario liberals voted this past weekend in stage one of what is hoped to be the last corrupted Ontario leadership contest. This stage was to elect the delegates who will represent the ridings and liberal clubs at the delegated convention that will choose the new leader. This is to replace Kathleen Wynne.

The key question at this time is whether front-runner former MPP Steven Del Duca has the first-ballot strength to decide the convention?

If he does not win on the first ballot, he will have a strong movement for reform of the party with which to contend. Both Toronto MPP Michael Coteau and former candidate Kate Graham from London, Ontario are spearheading the reform movement.

Del Duca’s weakness is that he is mired in the past of the liberal party. He is best known for when he chose to argue with the independence of Metrolinx, Ontario’s planner for the construction of commuter transit in the Toronto area. He wanted a GO station in his riding at Kirby.

But Del Duca’s organization also sold the largest number of new liberal memberships in preparation for this race. And why that would be any measure of his ability to lead the party is beyond me.

Leadership of any enterprise requires the ability to bring people, ideas and collective action together to meet a perceived need. The only need Mr. Del Duca seems to want take collective action on is his wanting to be leader of the liberal party.

The core of the concern of Coteau and Graham is that there is a need within the liberal party to once again make it a progressive instrument of political use to Ontario citizens. Their campaigns, to this point, have reflected that need.

After listening carefully to both candidates, I believe that MPP Michael Coteau can provide the leadership. At the same time, we need people such as Kate Graham to help provide the substance.


Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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