Posts Tagged ‘Ontario’

Ford Follies.

Thursday, February 14th, 2019

This entertainment is settling in for a long run. Ontario premier Doug Ford and his ensemble are enjoying their reviews. You cannot help but compare the show to the old 19th Century minstrel shows—without blackened faces, though Doug Ford does seem pleased in playing the role of Mr. Interlocutor.

In this minstrel show, the Ontario cabinet is seated in a row with Mr. Interlocutor in the middle. Each routine is a chance for another member of the troop to do his or her stuff. When the minister of colleges and universities announced cuts in student funding in Ontario, Mr. Interlocutor added that there would be no more crazy Marxist nonsense promoted.

That is the way that these routines run. The minister of health will say that big changes are coming in health care. Doug Ford has already hired his pal Reuben Devlin at $348,000 per year to tell him what those big changes will be.

Ford even tried to hire long-time Mississauga mayor Hazel McCallion to tell his minister of municipalities what to do about the housing needs in Ontario. Mind you Hazel, being a wise person, said she would prefer to do it for free. At 97, Hazel has stopped saving money for her old age. And then, when she thought a little further about it, she decided she did not have the time. (There is a lot of humour in these minstrel shows.)

The funniest routine that the show came up with last week was the announcement by environment minister Rod Phillips that the province intended to give taxpayers’ money to the polluters to get them to try to stop their polluting ways. Even Doug Ford could not top that one.

Mind you, the environmental stuff is a rolling situation. Phillips changed his mind and is now saying polluters will pay but not as much as the federal government wants. Ontario will now have a carbon tax but want to call it something else because they are still suing the federal government over the carbon tax.

But I am going to have to stop this comparison to minstrel shows. It will get me in trouble.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

‘Super-agencies,’ been there; done that.

Saturday, February 9th, 2019

Health care in Ontario is a machine of many parts. It seems the Ford government wants to start collecting those parts into one super agency. The only problem with this is that there once was a super agency responsible for health care in the province. It was called the Ministry of Health. And it was the ministry itself that created all the disparate parts of the system with which the public is faced today.

Do the parts work well? Not really. Would a super agency work well? Not really. Would a super agency save money? Not in the long run.

But the mystical theory of all conservatives is that the fewer the agencies involved, efficiencies will follow. In theory, they are right. The only problem is that when you make a mistake in health care, you are mistreating people. It gets noticed faster.

When the 14 local health integration networks (LHINs) were established in Ontario, it was an attempt to take critical local decisions down to where they could be made closer to the needs of the patient. This localized arrangement was further structured more recently when local services such as home health services were taken over by the LHINs. If the idea was to reduce the heat on the Ministry of Health, it failed. And if the idea was to cut down on the size of the Ministry of Health, it failed.

The best guess of the Ford government’s intentions is that the 14 LHINs might be reduced to five regional oversight bodies. How this is supposed to save money is not clear to people who know how governments add and subtract. It is definitely not as simple as dividing by 14 and multiplying by five.

The danger that is obvious in this mathematical exercise is that many of the local services could be orphaned again. And woe to the local politician who gets caught in the cross fire. All I know is that for every act of kindness for a patient in Toronto, some sick soul is getting screwed out in the boonies.

It is disconcerting that health minister Christine Elliott—who was supposed to be one of the adults at the cabinet table—keeps talking about some sort of health care transformational policy that is coming.

It is even more disturbing that we hear that premier Ford has appointed his crony Rueben Devlin, former CEO of Humber River Hospital, to come up with this transformational policy at an annual stipend of $348,000 per year.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

‘Dirty Thirties’ solutions for Ford.

Thursday, February 7th, 2019

Ontario premier Doug Ford must admire the past. His government keeps reaching back in time to the solutions of the 1930s. The latest is to return to those times when a landlord could hire thugs as bailiffs and physically remove a tenant. They would toss impoverished tenants and their pitiful possessions on the street.

A body of rules regarding landlord and tenant relations has been built over the intervening 80 years. The Ford government is not only thinking of scrapping some of these rules. Their objective seems to be to refute them. They even want to reduce the 11 days allowed before someone can be evicted to just six days.

These revisions in the law are claimed to be part of the government’s plan to boost the availability of much needed housing in Ontario. It is difficult to imagine how this strategy would have any noticeable affect on the quantity of housing in the province. We are supposed to hear about the plan to increase housing supply sometime in the Spring.

It just reminds us too much of the Stephen Harper era in Ottawa when people would ask about the environmental rules for tar sands exploitation in Alberta. We were constantly told that these rules were coming.  It never happened on Mr. Harper’s watch.

It seems Mr. Ford and his friends are fans of the 1930s. They want to take Ontario back to that era. We should also bear in mind where that attitude took the economy of the times.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

A Feisty Fedeli files on Brown.

Sunday, February 3rd, 2019

If I had ever written a proper review of Patrick Brown’s tell-all book on his political take down, I would have paid far more attention to his relationships with the Tory caucus at Queen’s Park and particularly Vic Fedeli the MPP from North Bay. Fedeli, now Doug Ford’s finance minister, is suing Brown and his publisher for exactly the same $8 million that Brown is suing Bell Media’s CTV News.

It was hardly a review of Brown’s supposedly tell-all book that I wrote at the end of December. My only surprise on the comments I made was the immediate response from his publisher. While you would expect a publisher to be defensive about what he decides to publish, Dean Baxendale of Optimum Publishing appeared admiring. I admitted openly that I had only read half the book before giving up. The truth was that, in my humble opinion, it was badly written, poorly edited and the inside pages lacked decent design. When the publisher said that I had missed the essence of the book, it did not surprise me. It was hard to find any other reason for the book than to make some quick cash.

What surprised me was that I had more of a back and forth dialogue with his publisher than I had ever had with Patrick Brown over the 12 years that we both lived in Barrie. We have been at many of the same meetings over those years in Barrie and in Ottawa.

But now it is obvious that Vic Fedeli does not like Patrick’s writing either. To suggest that a gentleman such as Fideli did something untoward such as “workplace sexual harassment” would cause him some consternation. Insults are one thing but claims of impropriety are not acceptable. As Mr. Brown has found himself, such claims cause law suits and paying lots and lots to lawyers.

The statement of claim is reported to have said that Mr. Fedeli was described in the book as having “a holier-than-thou attitude and being a suck-up.” This was along with being described as “toxic, power-hungry, anti-democratic and a political opportunist.” While comments such as this about politicians are rarely cause for law suits, Mr. Brown would be well advised to restrain himself from childish name calling.

In my last e-mail from Brown’s publisher, he advised me that, in regards to Mr. Brown’s book, it will “long be studied after you and I are dead.” That thought really chokes me up.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

First pick a direction.

Sunday, January 27th, 2019

It is ridiculous that people are speculating about the possible leaders of the Ontario liberal party so soon. We do have a choice. And the old adage says, we can decide now and repent at leisure. As we have mentioned before, we first want to figure out where the party is going.

Looking back at the provincial scene, it is hard to say what direction the party was choosing when it chose the leader first. Kathleen Wynne’s background was touted as left wing but quickly proved that, if she had any direction in mind at all, it was liberal socially and conservative economically. The exception was in her last campaign when she opened the left-wing floodgates and confused the voters.

Her predecessor, Dalton McGuinty was an old-time middle-of-the-road liberal who did a good job on schools and protecting the environment but he was very bad in managing people—particularly those in his government’s cabinet.

The only recent liberal premier before that was David Peterson—basically a nice guy who proved to be a neoliberal. While the province was ready for what he offered, he failed to build any rapport with Ontario voters.

What Ontario voters are really looking for in Queen’s Park is a to have a party in power that really is there for the people. This is a government responsible for the delivery of effective Medicare in the province, as well as ensuring that we have schools, colleges and universities that meet our needs for today and tomorrow. It is the level of government that deals with our daily living, our municipalities, our infrastructure (roads and bridges and public transit), our environment and a myriad of services that contribute to our quality of life.

These services require a government that understands that we are individuals with individual needs. We are not a collective. Nor are we necessarily competitive. We are not satisfied with minimal cost services. We want the best services at a reasonable cost. We want to be respected in the delivery of the services in a friendly society.

Real liberals believe in that type of society.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Jason Kenney would rather fight.

Tuesday, January 8th, 2019

The last thing Canada needs is another provincial leader spoiling for a fight. Alberta opposition leader Jason Kenney was on Global Television’s West Block last Sunday laying out his battle plan and various lies for his anti-Trudeau, Anti-Quebec and anti-British Columbia campaign. This is, of course, provided his reconstructed conservatives win the Alberta election, expected in May.

Kenny wants to join Doug Ford of Ontario, Scott Moe of Saskatchewan and Andrew Scheer leader of the federal conservatives in tearing into the Trudeau liberals in the federal election expected in October. If Mr. Moe, Mr. Ford and Mr. Kenney were honest about it, you would expect the gentlemen to be resigning their provincial jobs and finding an electoral district that might have them as the conservative candidate. There is no doubt but that Mr. Scheer will need all the help he can get.

But for the three provincial gentlemen to interfere in the federal game with slander, false news and hyperbole from the sidelines is bad politics and a betrayal of the people they purport to represent.

First of all, the liberal government has made it clear that the carbon pricing to be charged on major polluters selling fossil fuels in their many forms, will be refunded to Canadian taxpayers in their taxes. The objective is to show people the real price of these fuels and the need to fight global warming. Mr. Scheer and his chorus can keep denying global warming and the increasing danger to our planet and they might eventually join the fight, but by then, hell will likely be frozen over.

But that nasty bastard Kenney has been lying to people since he was in college in San Francisco telling Catholic co-eds that they could not learn about abortion. He certainly does not admit to the highly polluting problems with the products of the Alberta tar sands. He resents that the prime minister bought the Trans-Mountain pipeline to help solve the problems for Alberta and says that the PM is now blocking the pipeline.

The problems with the Trans-Mountain pipeline are far more serious than the whims of the prime minister. The problems have far more to do with the sloppy job the Calgary-based National Energy Board (NEB) used to do on pipelines for Alberta. The NEB is no longer a lap dog for the oil industry.

And what is particularly outrageous is Kenney blaming Quebec for blocking the Energy East pipeline through that province. The proposal was nothing but a tissue of lies for the tar sands people and it was legitimately stopped. Kenney wants Albertans to hate Quebec.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Wynne can stay put for a while.

Monday, January 7th, 2019

All commentators do it. They give advice. The quality of that advice is something for you to decide. This thought came up recently when Bob Hepburn of the Toronto Star suggested that former liberal premier Kathleen Wynne “will have to go.” His reasoning is interesting but believe me, her position today is neither an embarrassment nor a matter of any concern.

As much as Ms. Wynne was an annoyance in her final days in office, it is helpful right now for the party to have a member handy who understands the levers available to somebody in the premier’s office. The cut-down caucus also needs all the help it can get. She is doing the right thing, for a change

Bob Hepburn is an astute observer. He would have no idea of the problems facing a cut-down caucus. And Wynne will be long gone when the next election comes around in 2022.

The point is that the real changes that need to be made in how the liberals run their party, pay the party’s bills, defines its policies, chooses its leadership and its candidates have to be made by the party as a whole. It can no longer be a top-down party. It cannot be run autocratically by its leader. Ontario voters will have had enough of that style of leadership from Doug Ford and his conservatives.

After four years of Doug Ford incompetence, Ontario voters will be ready to switch to a democratically run liberal party. After all, if you want a government that is run “for the people” why would you look to a leader who is a tyrant.

Voters in Ontario have a right to a government that pledges clear and positive programs for its citizens. This includes health care that is fairly funded for all concerned, pharmacare that is hand in glove with Medicare, free education for all and a worry-free life for seniors. The opportunities are for the citizens in Ontario, not for the politicians and their friends.

Ontario is the engine that drives the Canadian economy, it has to be strong for the country to be strong.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

To Brampton Town with Brown.

Wednesday, December 26th, 2018

Barrie’s sorry excuse for a newspaper, the weekly Advance, has announced that Brampton mayor Patrick Brown is its newsmaker of the year. Coincidently the Barrie library had a copy of Brown’s tell-all book Take Down: The attempted political assassination of Patrick Brown—by none other than Patrick Brown himself. It was my intent to spend some time this week reading it.

It is with some regret that I report that Mr. Brown appears to have had no ghost writer, nor helpful editor beyond the spell check of his computer. You can only stomach so much of a politician’s self pity and whining. I gave up after about 150 pages and skimmed the rest.

The best part of the book is the cover—credited to a Mathew Flute. They should have ripped up the inside story. If Patrick Brown thinks this book is going to inform, convince, proselytize or draw any sympathy, he is deluding himself.

What is deeply concerning is that in 50 years of writing about politics, I would never refer to a politician as “bat-shit crazy.” If Mr. Brown holds anything back in the book, it is modesty and self-control.

One reason to read the book was to see if there were any clues as to the perpetrators of the CTV Television Network’s allegations. All it seems to indicate is how far that once esteemed network has gone down hill with Bell Canada in control. Patrick might have thought he had liberal enemies but he has far more vicious enemies in the conservative party. And a word of advice to him from a liberal is that there are much stronger connections between CTV News and certain well-known conservatives than any liberals.

The most serious errors in this entire fiasco were those by Brown himself. He is a politician who flies in the directions the wind takes him. He is considered a good retail politician because he knows and understand what needs to be done and has the determination to do it. God forbid he should ever have to work for a living.

But watching him at that news conference during the evening of January 25, 2018, I felt sorry for him. Sure, I disliked him as a person and as a politician, but he did not deserve this.

On bad advice, badly prepared, an emotional Patrick Brown read a bad speech and committed political suicide.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

A Christmas Tale for Doug Ford.

Tuesday, December 25th, 2018

Doug Ford tells us he is something of a Christian and that might mean he has been looking forward to this Christmas. He has been on a roll since January this year when the gates to the premier’s job opened up to him. He was even anointed by the controversial Prayer Palace Church to become leader of Ontario’s progressive conservatives. Until then, he had nothing more exciting to look forward to this year than another attempt to defeat John Tory for the Toronto mayoralty.

But he won the conservative leadership instead. The world was his oyster, so to speak. He was launched into the June election with little time to prepare and less time to think. Mind you, thinking is not something that Doug Ford does well.

Ford is better with salesman’s slogans. No thinking involved there, He was going to ‘Axe the Tax,’ Fire the ‘Six-million Dollar Man,’ have ‘Buck a Beer’ and be ‘For the People.’ It is the populist style of people such as Donald Trump and it also works for Doug Ford.

Maybe there were slogans he forgot. There must have been one about cutting Toronto Council to small town size. He needed to work on that one but he did not forget to do it. Unfortunately, the election campaign had already started for 47 council seats when Dougie arbitrarily cut the number of councillors back to 25. “Damn the expense,” said Dougie.

The consummate populist, Dougie has been full of surprises for the people of Ontario. Like the salesman, he is, he sure knows how to run up the bills. He fired the ‘six-million dollar man’ at Hydro One and costs to-date are estimated at more than $150 million. Much of that cost was in penalties for a failed takeover of an American hydro company in the State of Washington.

And then there is the attempt to compromise the Ontario Provincial Police. That blunder is ongoing and we will have to wait to see the outcome.

But today’s story is special. It has something to do with the ghost of his late brother Rob Ford visiting Dougie on Christmas Eve. It seems there will be three more ghosts coming to visit Dougie. They will be the ghosts of Christmas’ past, present and future. It can only portend something good if Dougie comes running out of his house on Christmas morning looking for a place to buy a goose.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Dougie’s second stupidest stunt.

Friday, December 14th, 2018

In many years of running major political events, one of the automatic considerations is always security. There is no question that well publicized events of that nature can attract the less mentally stable of society with their real or imagined complaints. And because you never know what can happen, you are happy to leave the security to the professionals.

And when a politician interferes with the professionals, he does so at his peril. Ontario premier Doug Ford is putting himself at risk.

A number of security issues have come forward since Dougie is reported to have made sure his friend Ron Taverner was chosen as the new head of the Ontario Provincial Police. Present and former commissioners have labelled it a travesty but it is not the most egregious act of a vain and ignorant person.

Wanting his friends on his security detail tells you a number of things about this man that he might not want everyone to know. It can be either a problem with booze or keeping his penis in his pants. It is also very foolish. Guards such as this tend to pay too much attention to the person they are guarding and not enough to the situation through which they are moving.

The problem seems more likely to be womanizing when he also asked for a large camper-type vehicle—“off the books.” I have had to book day rooms in hotels for candidates over the years and have often considered a mobile home as an even better solution—though I never figured out where to find drive-in maid service to get the sheets changed regularly. It sure does not come under the job description of the security detail.

But if you have ever wondered who the security people might be at an event, just check around for the people looking out towards the crowd and not at the subject needing security.

I always had a rule that once a function was under way, whatever happened was supposed to happen. My job was done. I most often had a spot picked ahead of time where I could see well and count the crowd for the news media and it was not unusual to find one of those people with a ‘hearing aid’ and a mic in their sleeve already there. All they got was a nod. They were at work.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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