Posts Tagged ‘Ontario’

Can Ontario liberals renew their party?

Saturday, October 6th, 2018

You can hardly package a new political party along with decaying fish and hope to win plaudits. And that was what it must have felt like last weekend when the Ontario liberals gathered to lick their wounds and look hopefully into the future. The first task was to understand what went wrong. The second was to find out what type of party was needed in the future.

There are as many viewpoints about what went wrong as there are electoral districts in Ontario. The basic problem though is that a party run from the top down cannot survive. The arrogance of the coterie centered around the leader of the party becomes a weight that the party cannot overcome. The arrogance, privilege and entitlement of the party elite vanquishes the ambitions of people seeking to serve in the lower echelons of the party.

And there is no rule that says there has to be an Ontario liberal party. There is a life cycle in politics as there is in human existence on this fragile world. Neither can survive the constant abuse of those benefitting from its largess.

What was hardest for voters to understand this year was the kind of politics liberals were offering. They were constantly confused by the arrogance, corruption and the meager dispersal of the largess of civilized society. Nothing came from them as a whole. The programs were all piecemeal and with confused labelling of right or left.

The liberals led up to the June election constantly throwing goodies at the wall and hoping something would stick. They found the rot had gone too far. Against an opponent that held them aghast, they collapsed.

Now the question is do they resurrect the liberal ethic in the same-old suit or do they build a new party for modern voters.

The basic problem with the ‘same-old’ suit is there is confusion on whether it is of the left or the right or basically a moving target?

But if you weigh the needs of Ontario, you will agree that there is a strong need for a left of centre liberalism. In a liberal society, we need a party that can build on and assure citizens of the open, classless, society of opportunity that it deserves.

At a time when the new democrats are failing, we need to offer a home to the left of politics. Whether we do that as a Liberal Democratic Party or as social democrats, is incidental. What we must be is progressive, environmentally conscious and caring. This is what Ontario, and Canada deserve.

-30-

Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

How do you like Premier Ford so far?

Friday, October 5th, 2018

When you throw a question such as that into the general chatter today, you can really stop people cold. Recently, I threw the question to a group of fellow poker players in Toronto with whom I have been playing for more than a quarter century. Back at our game in May, the group, whom you would think would be liberal voters, was split and four of the six at that game intended to vote conservative.

They evidenced a combination of anger, disappointment and frustration with the liberal government of the time. There was also some unstated homophobia directed at premier Wynne. This was a group adept at reading each other’s ‘tells.’

The worst happened to Ontario in June. We soon learned the hard way some of the unstated intentions of premier Doug Ford. Almost immediately, Ontario learned of his bitterness towards Toronto council. His own caucus at Queen’s Park were as surprised as the rest of us when he deliberately interfered with a municipal election already in process. It was assuaged for the conservative caucus by extra pay for an unusual summer sitting of the Ontario legislature.

His attention wandered from the spurious to the serious throughout our surprise summer. All attention was on Queen’s Park. If a spiteful Doug Ford could not have his way, he would attack our rights and freedoms.

Ford cruelly smashed the hopes of the lottery winners in the liberal government’s scattered test of minimum wage. His counterpoint was a foolish promise for a dollar a beer. His so-called reduction in the price of gasoline disappeared in the vagaries of American gasoline pricing. All Ontario knew was that the oil company cartels were paying their executives well.

We all learned that Ford was just an ignorant climate-change denier. He cancelled cap and trade measures to control pollution that had started working for us and joined the forces of the extreme right to try to block the federal government’s proposed carbon taxes.

How can anyone pretend to respect a liar and a poser and a cruel bastard who can so casually deny workers their rights to a living wage, to job protection when sick and to paid vacation? What Wynne’s liberals finally did for workers so greatly in need of help, Ford will so casually take away.

My question to my friends was serious. How could any decent person approve of Doug Ford’s actions as premier?

-30-

Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Climate Action hits a wall in Ontario.

Wednesday, September 26th, 2018

To our chagrin and horror the Province of Ontario has turned its back on climate action. In a to-the-point report, environmental commissioner Dianne Saxe made her report to the legislature at Queen’s Park on Tuesday morning. We hear that nobody from the conservative caucus attended.

In the afternoon, the environmental commissioner went to Barrie, in the heart of conservative Ontario and gave her report to a full house. Their provincial government might not care but the people do.

In an open plea to the citizens, the commissioner talked of the environmental challenge facing the province and the ability of citizens to take action. “At a time when Ontario has a huge climate challenge, we are no longer able to have a safe, predictable climate.”

Saxe called on citizens to work around the government to meet the challenge. At a time when the government casts aspersions on the climate challenge, it is business, municipalities, citizens groups, universities that can give direction and do more.

The report makes it clear that climate disruption is already affecting Ontario and there is no doubt of its impact. The report states flatly that “what used to be normal weather is gone.”

The report states that when the government will not do its job, business and citizens have to step forward. This is despite the essential roles that government can play.

Saxe was very positive about the role government has played in Ontario over the past 15 years. She feels that Ontario can only achieve emission reductions with a combination of making polluters pay, developing new solutions and regulating polluters.

The commissioner was critical of the lack of clarity in the cap and trade system of the previous government but felt that it was working. She feels that by dispensing with cap and trade, the current government has not given it time to work and laid itself open to expense for the taxpayers.

She feels that the current government needs to make a commitment, a plan and take action that can continue to be improved. At least the Barrie audience was with her.

-30-

Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

No, Dougie isn’t done.

Tuesday, September 25th, 2018

One of the Toronto Star’s better political writers wrote last week that Doug Ford’s motive (for interfering in Toronto’s civic election) might not be pique. That could be right. Doug Ford’s vendetta with certain people in Toronto politics goes way beyond ‘pique’ or even annoyed.

And is Dougie done? Not by a long shot. Doug and Rob Ford had plans for Toronto and Dougie is the guy committed to carrying them out. He is in the prefect position to make Toronto kow-tow to him and he is going to enjoy it.

What was that he said during the recent election campaign about the province taking over Toronto’s subways? He might as well take over the streetcars and buses at the same time. He probably wants to privatize the transit commission. He might not understand why the GO trains have to be electrified but it would make privatization an option for that system because of the capital funds needed.

The pundits always said it was a dictatorial bastard like Benito Mussolini who was able to get the trains to run on time in Italy. Maybe Doug Ford wants that distinction in Ontario.

One thing for sure is that the time of the bicycle in downtown Toronto is soon to end. Dougie will return the streets to trucks, SUVs and family automobiles as God must have intended it. He will declare that open season on cyclists who do not even know the rules of the road is over!

And you need to remember that the Ford brothers never made small plans. Dougie will want the biggest ferris wheel in the world down at Ontario Place. That would bring the crowds, he would crow. (I know where he can get a great deal on some of the ferris wheel parts at Staten Island in New York.)

We better also save some space for a casino along the waterfront. Dougie has not got his nose into that subject yet. Despite Woodbine’s weak toe-dipping approach to its casino, Doug will want more casinos—all the more funds for our benevolent conservative government.

But I must admit that the best advice we can give to people today is that you have to remember that Doug Ford is an accidental politician. Do not expect him to act as a normal politician. He will tell you himself that he is just standing in for his dear departed brother Rob. The smart city politician will have already picked out that prominent spot on City Hall Square for that statue honoring Toronto’s crack-smoking mayor.

-30-

Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

…Now, where were we?

Sunday, September 23rd, 2018

It seems to me that we left off when premier Ford of Ontario pulled a rabbit out of his hat and told Toronto council hopefuls to stop running for 47 council wards in Toronto and just run for 25. Since people had been campaigning for weeks for the 47 wards, many of them were unhappy with their broader horizons. Regrettably Dougie and his crew at Queen’s Park came into some serious criticism for his sudden and unexpected interference.

And then a superior court judge stuck his oar in on behalf of the somewhat indignant city council. In response to this Dougie threatened to use the “Not Withstanding” clause of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. He also appealed the judge’s ruling. The appeal was successful, so now it is not necessary to “Not Withstand.”

But this commentator does not consider the number of councillors on council as the most serious question. In fact, the number of councillors has very little to do with their ability to get things done.

In fact, let me suggest to you that there are certain councillors in Toronto who are going to have a friend at Queen’s Park. If you think it is nice to have friends, let me also point out that Dougie has a bone to pick with some of the other long-time councillors on Toronto city council. These people were not friends when the Ford brothers tried to rule Toronto council. And Dougie has only begun to get even.

Now, you might suggest that Doug Ford has more important things to do as premier of Ontario than screw around with Toronto council. If you think that, you do not know him.  Dougie is as small-minded and petty as they come.

Whether there are 26 or 48 members of city council, each of them, mayor and councillors alike, have only one vote. The mayor has some other powers available to him or her to enable the mayor to appoint committees that will work with him or her to move things along.

What is needed is some sort of political structure that enables mayoralty candidates and councillors to run on a platform that says what they will do if elected. If elected, then they will have a responsibility to keep their promises and give the citizens responsible city government.  When you realize that Toronto has a larger population than most provinces, you have to admit that these people deserve the chance to have their city run properly.

-30-

Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Not your father’s Tories.

Wednesday, September 12th, 2018

Back in the years when I was a frequent visitor to the legislature at Queen’s Park, the conservatives there were a different breed. There is no way we can compare to-day’s incumbent in the premier’s office to someone such as premier Bill Davis. In relations with Bill and his staff, in those days, the key operating word was mutual respect.

It is absolutely impossible to imagine Bill Davis railing against a superior court judge’s ruling. It is also impossible to imagine him making the errors in fact and in judgement that caused the fiasco.

As expected Monday, Justice Edward Belobaba was critical of the Ford government’s timing. The government had overstepped the rights of citizens in the middle of an election campaign. Changing the number of councillors in mid-campaign was not only arbitrary but made light of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Would the ruling change anything? No. Would it improve city governance? No. Will it save any money. Hard to say.

But Ford has just begun to fight. The entire exercise was a waste of time and public money but Dougie is going to fight on. He has called together the legislature to add the Charter ‘Not Withstanding’ clause to the legislation.

It will be a while until all the expense accounts are recorded but Dougie probably never bothered to ask what it costs to call the legislature together for a special session—and that is the second time since the June election. This is the guy that told us the previous government were spendthrifts.

What this is might be is the perfect example of what happens when the voters decide to get rid of their previous government and fail to look closely at the party for which they are voting. If they had paid any attention during the campaign, they would have realized how ill-equipped Doug Ford and his party were to form a government.

Premier Ford’s reaction to the superior court judge’s ruling was visceral. It was not thought through. Ford made errors in fact that surprised the news media and observers alike. He had decided to utilize the ‘Not Withstanding’ clause in the charter without understanding why it was there. He even had the temerity to threaten to use it again.

That tells us our Ontario premier is both a bully and a fool. His conservative caucus should take heed.

-30-

Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Gobsmacked by sex education.

Friday, September 7th, 2018

There are a lot of people in Ontario angry and frustrated by the idiocy of our politicians trying to satisfy the wrong people with how we are teaching children about sex. What is wrong with honesty? Have we become a society of hypocrites? Or are the politicians just pandering to the ignorant and repressed among us?

I have a special relationship with Thorncliffe Park in Toronto. I was deeply concerned when it became something of a microcosm of the Middle East in the middle of Toronto. Instead of becoming attuned to Canadian openness and acceptance, this area was becoming isolated, insular and easy pickings for those who would organize against the prized Canadian openness. Recent immigrants find comfort from others from their part of the world and do not understand why children need to become familiar with their sexuality.

But like millions of immigrants to this country over the years, the children adapt faster than the parents. It is hard on the parents coming from more repressed societies but they are certainly made aware of the more open attitudes of the country that is taking them in. They should show their appreciation better.

And rather than be angry at these protestors, Canadians have to direct their anger at those who are using these immigrants for their own political purposes. Who gets them on the buses, who paints the signs and who is behind the megaphone?

Arranging for the ‘spontaneous demonstration’ was one of the first lessons I was ever given in politics. The hypocrisy angered me. I never used those tactics in many years in politics.

But it is going to take a long time to straighten out the mess premier Ford has got us into by catering to objectors. He thought it was an easy promise to make. It was. The promise came out of his mouth just like many others. His problem is that he will be a long time getting free of the stupidity. (He should have taken off his shoes before sticking both feet in his mouth.)

Even teachers’ associations are now getting into the act to protect the rights of teachers in this foolishness.

Maybe Dougie is surprised (gobsmacked) by the controversy he has created. The harder you try to dig yourself out of a problem such as this, the deeper is the hole you are in.

-30-

Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

“And miles to go before I sleep.”

Thursday, September 6th, 2018

It is rare that a politician(?) such as Doug Ford can remind me of a snatch of a poem such as the one published by Robert Frost in 1923. The haunting words are “The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.”  

What brought Dougie’s problems with promises to mind was a question posed by a judge the other day about whether the Ontario premier might have checked with his government’s lawyers before passing a law regarding the number of councillors to be elected in Toronto. The problem was this new law came into effect after the election race was already underway.

While we would certainly not question the right of Dougie’s government to make the change, there is some concern about his timing of the change. I suspect that might be where the judge also hangs his hat when making a ruling. And there just might also be a question of liability. Dougie talks a good game about savings but does sometimes tend to be somewhat cavalier with taxpayer money.

But the question of legal advice from the new government’s lawyers had an element of humour to it. You know, of course, that the new attorney general of Ontario has never practiced law in Ontario. I am not sure if Caroline Mulroney ever passed the Bar Admission examination in Ontario? I am not aware of any reciprocal agreements regarding the right to practice between Ontario and the State of New York, where Ms. Mulroney trained in law and worked, briefly, for the State Attorney’s office.

Mind you, it is hard to think kindly of the voters in York-Simcoe who voted for an elitist such as Mulroney. She and her husband bought a $2.5 million country estate in the electoral district after the sitting conservative MPP told her party she was not seeking re-election. It is a bit of a stretch to try to think of Mulroney’s $5.3 million-plus Forest Hill home in Toronto as a pied-à-terre. Though when you consider her children go to private schools, you wonder at her suitability to be a politician.

Now that she has seen Dougie in action as premier, one would also wonder if she has not been rekindling her ambition to be premier of Ontario. These interesting times we live in are fraught with possibilities.

-30-

Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Dougie doesn’t define Ontario.

Thursday, August 23rd, 2018

Watching the first session of the new Ford government at Queen’s Park was a letdown. It was regressive, loud, uncivil, sexually repressed and barely disguised in its bigotry. The sea of white faces on the government side is barely broken by any ethnicity. Dougie does not do diversity.

And this is definitely not a government for the people. It is a government for the red-necked farmers of the Ontario Landowners. The association hates wind turbines, gun controls, carbon taxes and liberals.

It is also a government of the gated communities around the Greater Toronto Area. “I’ve got mine,” they will tell you. Go get your own!”

It is a government that resents the concerns and warnings of the concerned and the environmentalists. It scoffs at global warming. They only open the windows in their SUVs to throw out the used Tim’s cups.

It is a government that stages news for the gullible. It uses its underlings to smother the legitimate questions of the news media. It has foisted an incompetent leader on the public, to defeat a government worn by weariness of governance.

It is a government that panders to the sexually repressed of the religious right. “Don’t teach our kids about sex,” they snarl. “Let them learn about it with all the vulgarities of the streets like we did.”

Some in Ontario thought they were voting for the progressive conservatives of Premier Bill Davis’ era. They are learning the difference.

This is a government that will shut down safe injection sites, “Unproved,” they tell us. They are not in the business of saving those lives.

This is a government that saves money for tax cuts by cutting a proposed increase of 3 per cent to 1.5 per cent in the already inadequate funds for the Ontario disabled (ODSP).

This is a government that is suing the federal government for proposing a carbon tax in provinces that are without one. They do not believe in it.

This is a government led by a homophobe. Enough said.

-30-

Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Who says Dougie’s done?

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2018

Looking at the upcoming Toronto municipal election in October, you can end up with more questions than answers. The problem is premier Ford. This guy is not finished with his home town. And they are not finished with him. And they are wasting the taxpayers’ money fighting him. We seem to have the ghost of Rob Ford running in this municipal election.

And what is the point of Jennifer Keesmaat and John Tory arguing over Smart Track and the one-stop subway to Scarborough while everyone is waiting for the premier to decide? We are reminded of a promise Doug Ford made during the provincial election that the Toronto subway system and the GTA transit lines would be taken over and integrated by the province. As ominous as that prospect might be, at least the province has pockets deep enough to pay for those needs.

John Tory’s Smart Track has been kicked around for the past four years and nobody seems to acquired much more fondness for the idea. Overall, Tory has been a pretty good mayor. He probably deserves a second term. Whether his ideas for rapid transit are any better than Keesmaat’s, I do not know.

But I do know that Keesmaat became the poster girl on the file over the past few years and she assumes that people should trust her. I have a problem with that. Civil servants who think jumping into elected office is the road to fame and riches, are deluding themselves. The two jobs take radically different skill sets.

Keesmaat might look good but I expect she is a one-trick pony. John Tory has far more experience in the political scene and he can probably run rings around her.

But it is still early in the campaign and it is unlikely that Doug Ford will save the good news about taking over Keesmaat’s specialty until after the election in October.

Keesmaat is the darling of the downtown NDP and all their fellow cyclists and as such will get no kind consideration from Dougie.

-30-

Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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