Posts Tagged ‘Ontario’

Confounding a confluence of conservatives.

Sunday, May 27th, 2018

It is all happening Monday at Toronto’s stuffy old Albany Club. As I told my host last time I was invited to the club, this is no place for a left-wing liberal. The 125-year old building on King Street East has been the spiritual home for Canada’s conservatives since the 19th Century. It is truly the perfect place for right-wing plotting and scheming.

The rich and famous of conservatism will be there Monday to hear from the ghost of prime minister’s past, the Right Honourable Stephen Harper. Yes, and you thought he had gone to his reward in corporate board room heavens. He has come down from his corporate inner sanctums and business conclaves to preach to the Ontario conservatives with a spare $1,222 in their pocket to support Mike Harris’ kid. The junior Harris, is trying to win the Kitchener-Conestoga electoral district, where he was appointed to run by leader Doug Ford.

Maybe nobody in the Kitchener area wants to or can afford to support the junior Mike Harris. Besides, when you have a drawing card like the former prime minister, would you waste him in the hinterlands?

It is assumed that this is all new money being raised, as $1,222 is the maximum you are allowed to donate to a provincial campaign.

But what will the former prime minister have to say that would be worth that much? We can bet you that it will be nothing nice about the liberals in Ottawa or in Queen’s Park.

The good news for the loyal attendees is that neither leader Doug Ford nor the candidate is allowed to be there for the fund-raiser. Ford has already been told that he is under investigation about being at another fund-raiser. Under the new election laws in Ontario, neither a candidate nor his/her leader is allowed to be there when people are giving them money. If that seems strange to you, raise your hand—which did not do me any good and will probably not do you any good either.

Of course, this liberal would dearly love to be there to hear Stephen Harper say nice things about Doug Ford. Admittedly, Stephen Harper is somewhat self-centered and has a tendency to only talk about himself. I am quite sure that is not worth $1,222.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

The pollsters have peaked.

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018

“O, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive.”

Obviously, Sir Walter Scott had a better take on pollsters 200 years ago than we do today. Ontario voters have been bamboozled by the pollsters since the beginning of the current provincial campaign. As much as the thought of a Doug Ford led government amuses them, the pollsters have now said Andrea Horwath is also in contention. That thought did it. It is time for the grown ups to step forward.

It is not that Andrea and her new democrats have failed mathematics. Another billion or so in debt is not going to make or break the province and everybody makes mistakes in math. It is just that the new democrats are bringing nothing new to the table. There is less talent in the NDP caucus at Queen’s Park today than Bob Rae had with him when he accidently became premier in 1990. All the NDP proved at that time was that they would turn the government over to the incompetent Mike Harris.

But for a real incompetent, Doug Ford, would be hard to beat.

The smartest thing Doug Ford could do would be struck by some mysterious disease and not show up for the final leadership debate next week. More and more of his candidates have been struck by that mysterious disease and not shown up for debates in their electoral districts. It reminds me of the Quebec NDPer who went to Las Vegas for the 2011 federal election and won election.

I can think of more than a few candidates over the years who would have got more votes if they had gone fishing instead of wandering aimlessly where the voters could see them.

And as for Andrea Horwath, I thought we were done with her. People seem to think it is mean of me to mention her dress, deportment or demeanour. The problem is that she dresses like a refugee from a Russian gulag. She is not leading that bunch of no-goodniks in the NDP caucus anywhere and I defy you to tell me anything she has ever come up with on her own? Did you see her giggling her way through that first debate?

The problem we have is that Horwath is horrible, Ford is a fool and Wynne is supposedly the wicked witch of the north. What is likeable about any of them?

But I am going to vote for the liberal candidate in Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte because he seems like a decent guy and is the only acceptable candidate who could represent us. All the other candidates seem to only represent their parties.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Mother’s magic money.

Thursday, May 17th, 2018

Listening to Ontario conservative leader Doug Ford recently reminded me of my early childhood in Toronto. Doug Ford never seems to worry about where the money for his promises will come from. Neither did I—as a child.

I remember during the Second World War and my mother was sole support for those of her six children she could keep with her. The salary she earned as a bookkeeper at a war plant was meager. It rented two rooms for us in an old house off Jarvis Street in downtown Toronto.

But mother had a secret that few families such as ours had. She had a card that worked like money. Us kids thought of it as mother’s magic money. Maybe we forgot this later in life after Diners’ Club cards (for the rich) appeared in 1950 and the universal VISA (as BankAmeriCard) and American Express cards made their appearance in 1958.

I just remember making a long walk one winter down Yonge Street to Eaton’s wonderland of an emporium. I had mother’s card in my pocket and an extra nickel to buy myself one of those frosted malteds in a cone. There was absolutely no surprise shown by a clerk when I presented my mother’s card and told her what I wanted—while still munching on my cone. I proudly pulled my new two-seater toboggan up Yonge Street and home. I now had the way to take all my newspapers with me as I did my deliveries, despite the deep snow of that winter.

But mother made a point of teaching us children that while it might be magic, briefly, the bill from her T. Eaton Company card had to be paid in full at the end of each month.

That is what Doug Ford seems to forget as he traverses Ontario these days promising simultaneous great expenditures and great tax cuts. All we need do is be foolish enough to vote for him and the magic money will flow. One thing is for sure: he has absolutely no clue as to how a conservative government will pay the bills.

And if we had one more group at Queen’s Park searching for ‘efficiencies,’ we would be spending far more on the people finding efficiencies than the amount of efficiencies found.

Maybe Mr. Ford simply does not care. He has always had others in the family business to worry about paying his bills there. All I know is that somebody might have to care.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Three-ring circus versus horse race.

Tuesday, May 15th, 2018

Whatever you want to say about the Ontario election that is going on now, it could never have been a three-ring circus production by P.T. Barnum or his partner James Bailey. The simplest explanation is that if you consider the performer who keeps multiple plates spinning atop long sticks, you realize that the act requires close concentration in the ring. You can hardly concentrate on your plates in ring two if the elephants in ring three decide to charge across and stomp the tigers in ring one. You are going to have a lot of smashed plates.

That is why in politics, the race track analogy is much better. It does not matter how many horses are in the race, there are only one or two favourites. Most times, you get just one winner. A racing form can tell you about the breeding, training, work outs, performance and the jockey.

The trouble is many a maverick considers politics an invitation to easy fame and fortune. There are also those who think they can buy their way. They use bluster instead of eloquence. They play fast and loose with the truth and the facts. They run on ego.

In the current situation in Ontario, there seems to be nothing achieved by pointing out how morally corrupt a person such as Doug Ford can be. His supporters know that. They do not care.

What they do not understand is that what they are doing is bear baiting. This has been illegal in Canada since before Canada was a country. They have turned the conservative dogs loose on the liberals for no reason more than they do not like progress. They despise the idea of a tax on carbon to protect the environment. They do not believe women can manage their own bodies. They do not understand what a fair minimum wage means. They consider the mess at Ontario Hydro as a liberal problem—yet it has taken all three parties and many years to really screw things up with Hydro.

But do not expect that pompous Mr. Ford to save you. His only instinct is self-aggrandizement. His experience with elected office is one term as a Toronto councillor where he spent his time trying to keep his brother, the mayor, sober and off crack cocaine. He is a braggart with an ego and a wannabe with no credentials. Four years would be far too long to tolerate him as premier of this key province of Canada.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

The Opera ain’t over.

Sunday, May 13th, 2018

First off today, we want to apologize. We have been thoroughly castigated by family and readers for being rude to Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath the other day. I sincerely apologize to her for my comments on her weight. That was inappropriate. At the same time, I stand by my comments on her outfit. She was definitely not respecting the viewers nor dressed to go to the same event as Mr. Ford and Ms. Wynne.

But after that disquieting kickoff of the campaign by CITY-TV, I had to go out and do more serious investigation of what is going on with the Ontario election.

One of my shorter excursions was to the local liberal campaign office where Premier Wynne was scheduled to stop by. It was not old home week. A friend drove and he had us at the campaign office a full 15 minutes before the scheduled event.

But this event was on liberal time and it was an hour and 20 minutes before Kathleen Wynne arrived. The event got full coverage from the television networks and print media. There were lots of serious young apparatchiks going around fussing and re-arranging during the wait. It gave me a chance to say ‘hi’ to some local liberals and to meet the liberal candidate. He seems like a bright and articulate young man. Readers in Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte should get to know Jeff Kerk.

Premier Wynne was the star today and I was quite re-assured by her presentation. She was relaxed, personable, enthusiastic and warm—and why should she not be when talking to a friendly, enthusiastic group of liberals?

I think what this excursion reminded me of was some of the basic realities of this campaign. Whether I agree with all the changes in Ontario brought about by the Wynne government, it accomplished a great deal of good for us. This government has been instrumental in addressing environmental problems, it has introduced a liberalisation of alcohol sales in large grocery stores and we have fewer unemployed than we had during the previous 20 years. And only the mean-spirited would disagree with raising the minimum wage in Ontario to $15 per hour.

One of the ways, this government has helped create jobs is in the building of new hospitals, schools, transit ways, subways and highways. It did its job.

And why would we change to someone as inexperienced as Doug Ford? There is more of this campaign to come.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Meet the Northern Mockingbird.

Wednesday, May 9th, 2018

While the Northern Mockingbird has a smaller head and a longer tail than others of its specie, it uses the same tricks as other mockingbirds. It can fool you by using the song styling of different birds and even a dog’s bark. It is like Ontario conservative leader Doug Ford who is trying to trumpet like Trump for the coming provincial election.

It is particularly interesting how candidate Ford tries to campaign as Donald Trump. He has already launched the fake news on his own amateurish news site on the Internet. He even runs television advertising that looks like Trump-style rallies in the United States. He likes the idea of only having to talk to supporters. They believe everything he says and they cheer him on.

Like Trump, he is running against a savvy politician. He solves the problem by just lying or exaggerating. Instead of accusing his opponent of just sending e-mails the wrong way, he claims his opponent has broken the bank in Ontario. He thinks the province needs a good dose of castor oil and cuts in spending so he can give his millionaire friends tax cuts.

With all his weeping and wailing about impoverished Ontario, Doug Ford is forced to admit that Kathleen Wynne has brought Ontario a long way back to prosperity in her one full term as premier. Despite the doom and gloom predictions over the higher minimum wage, employment is up in Ontario and Ontario is moving ahead. It can be absolutely amazing to hear someone who is making more money than ever before, railing against the Ontario liberals.

But the people that mockingbird Ford is mocking are the conservative party in Ontario. Like Trump, he shows little interest in party policies planned by party members. He does like the policy requests of people who give him donations to the campaign. This is like the builders who wanted to build on the Greenbelt area around Toronto. Nobody could understand what part of the word greenbelt Doug Ford could not comprehend. No doubt he will find others with deep pockets that will want to buy his support.

The other people that Doug Ford is mocking are the people in Ontario who think that it is time to try something different. The problem is that change for the better is good. Change to Doug Ford would be a disaster. Just think of all the good that Rob Ford did in Toronto with his brother’s help. Just think of all the good Donald Trump is doing in the U.S.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Picking politicians.

Monday, May 7th, 2018

We now have our main candidates here in Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte. No, nothing exciting. The local liberals had an acclamation. Only one candidate came forward. The conservatives appointed their candidate when Doug Ford got impatient. So much for democracy in the electoral district!

Ford appointed a loser. He is a former Orillia councillor who ran against Jill Dunlop for the Simcoe North nomination. Since he lost to Dunlop, Doug Ford appointed him to run in Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte as a consolation prize. His name is Doug Downey and he tells people that he sees it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity—to lose twice in the same election?

Downey is a lawyer and the go-to guy in Severn Township for the conservative party. He has held several political appointments in the Severn Township area.

Downey almost had a rerun of his contest with Jill Dunlop when former MPP Garfield Dunlop filed for nomination papers in Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte. The senior Dunlop said his bid for the nomination was ignored by the party hierarchy because of his close relationship with former leader and former candidate Patrick Brown. Dunlop said his application was not turned down, it was just ignored.

Without Patrick Brown and a parachuted candidate from outside the electoral district, this will be a much tighter race than was expected this time around. While the rural townships of Springwater and the western half of Oro-Medonte are predominantly conservative, the north half of Barrie has been known to vote liberal. The final recount in the last federal election in the same area was a conservative win by just 86 votes. A better organized and better run liberal campaign in this election could make all the difference.

When the party headquarters sees an electoral district that is that close, they will make sure the leader’s tour makes several calls in the area. In addition, there will be extra attention given to requests from the local campaign.

Not having heard from the liberal candidate yet, I will reserve judgement.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

On the street of broken hearts.

Sunday, May 6th, 2018

There are questions we need to ask of candidates in the coming provincial election in Ontario. This is not to embarrass anyone. It is to challenge their thinking. It is about what they hope to do for those trapped on the margins of our society?

It is a simple question. Through no fault of their own, there are people who need our help in their day to day living. These people have a broad spectrum of needs. They might have Down Syndrome, intellectual disability or suffer from other limitations. Their needs range from living facilities such as the former Huronia facility in Orillia to group homes, to subsidized facilities and sheltered workshops. Their needs cover a wide range of services. They also need our help and compassion.

These people are currently being thrown on our streets. The sheltered workshops that used to provide many of them with some dignity and a little money have been shuttered and abandoned.

These fellow human beings need our understanding. Those with aging parents caring for them are just putting off the inevitable. Caring parents can no longer ask that a mentally-deficient daughter have her tubes tied.

Today, we are seeing more and more incompetent, pregnant and homeless young women on the streets. This is our society. Are we proud of it?

And as someone who has collected monies for many charities, we need to change our attitudes on charity. One of the problems is that men give mainly because they think they should. Women generally give because they care.

But charity cannot cope with all the problems. We need governments that care. And government is the sum of the individual members of the legislature. They have to be aware. They have to recognize that society has serious responsibilities. There is no magic wand to wave over the basic costs of being a caring and responsible government.

Politicians who rail against deficits and budgets are missing the point of government. Governance is caring for the needs of society. In Ontario, we spend the bulk of provincial funds on education and medical care. On top of that we have infrastructure, policing, the courts and services to our citizens.

Any politician promising to eliminate deficits and to provide tax cuts is usually a mindless ideologue with no concept of the responsibilities of office. These people have a hard time understanding the realities of the streets.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

A legislature of eunuchs.

Saturday, May 5th, 2018

Listening to voters and to people at Queen’s Park, there seems to be a general opinion that there should be a sign from Dante’s Inferno over the legislature entrance “Abandon hope all ye who enter here.” All power and importance are vested in the premier and less and less is shared, even with cabinet members.

No less authority than Dave Levac, the retiring speaker of the Ontario legislature, has been bemoaning the loss of personal power for members of the legislative assembly. He seems to see the various members of the parties as nebbishes who only act on cue from their leaders. He sees the discipline of the party leaders as all-controlling.

Maybe lazy and uninterested voters are smarter than the rest of us. When, if they go to the polls, they vote for a follower of their preferred leader. It is now a rare voter who looks into the qualifications of their local candidates. They hardly think it matters.

And we have yet to see any concrete solutions to the problem. It is the political parties themselves who are largely to blame but there has been little understanding of the issues facing them.

And there is unlikely to be a “Mr. Smith goes to Queen’s Park.” Back benchers do what they are told. Cabinet members are the ones who can front most glibly for their leader. The news media pander to the party leaders and ignore the castratos of the back bench.

Question period in the legislature is but a three-act play put on by the three political parties. It is planned and cued, and woe awaits the careless member who shouts the wrong insult at the wrong time.

To be sent to Coventry by the party leader is hell. No committee memberships (with their extra pay), no extra travel benefits or fact-finding missions in Tahiti.

But suck it up buster, show your eagerness to serve the leader and the world is your oyster. Even opposition MPPs can latch on to some of the better trips and extra remuneration for committees.

And as Dave Levac points out, it would be so nice if MPPs could just do their job. If they could just think of the needs of their constituents. And if they could just ask questions for their constituents occasionally.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

The malice that made the megacity.

Friday, May 4th, 2018

Toronto as a megacity turns 20 this year. Canada’s largest city has once again opened the nominations for its city council to be elected in October. It will be another lost opportunity. It will produce another council of dilettantes and wannabes to argue over meaningless issues. Former conservative premier Mike Harris can continue to enjoy his revenge on the city.

As part of a program to sharply reduce the number of municipalities—and to dump more provincial costs on them—the Harris government amalgamated Toronto’s five boroughs and the inner city in 1998. The most vocal outcry against the move was from the former city. It was Mike Harris’ specious claim that it would save millions in duplication of services.

Since most of the costly municipal services had already been amalgamated under the former Metropolitan structure, Harris’ promises of savings turned into increases in costs. His revenge for their fighting him on the amalgamation was to fail to offer the city any new tax revenues to help handle the increased costs.

The latter-day Queen’s Park liberals have taken back some of the people services, offered Toronto a few new tax avenues and promised additional grants. Yet there has been no move to giving the city a workable government structure. The system that the city has, does not work.

And to make matters worse, a schism has been worn into city hall council chamber that has separated the downtown councillors from the suburbs. The mayor can use an archaic appointment system to try to improve things but the frustrations are always with them.

This division was clearly evident in the tumultuous term of Rob Ford and his brother at city hall. There is no foolishness less understandable than the one-stop subway to Scarborough. It was forced through by the Ford’s, more to prove their point than to solve an infrastructure problem. Toronto, like many cities, is caught up in failing infrastructure in a rapidly growing city.

But to show you how much they care, the inner-city councillors devote their time to bicycle lanes and throttling down the accessibility of the city to automobiles. Toronto voters need a mayor and councillors who can come to them with a clear platform of city reform that they can promise and deliver. Until then Mike Harris’ revenge continues.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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