Posts Tagged ‘Ontario’

Secrets of the speech writer.

Saturday, July 7th, 2018

There seems to be a wealth of expertise today on why the Ontario liberals failed us in the June election. One of the more recent apologists was a speech writer who tells us he has spent, probably too much, time at Queen’s park. His article made me wonder about how speeches are being crafted today.

There are certain basics about political speeches that I am sure never change. One of the first basics is understanding your audience. If you do not know your audience, you are better to say hello, introduce yourself in simple terms and then keep quiet and listen.

Writing speeches for somebody new is always a special challenge. I was criticized more than once for asking a lot of seemingly inane questions. What I was doing was listening to how the person talked. I had to be able to hear in my mind, the person saying every word I would write.

You also had to convince the new client that you will rap their knuckles if they dare to change any of your phrasing. You spend a good deal of time seeking to preserve what is built into the speech that makes logical clips for the broadcast media.

But I would never recommend to a political client that they think or talk like Doug Ford. The one thing you can count on is that most people are smarter than the younger Ford brother. Doug is no business genius. He is just a salesman, albeit a good one. He knows to repeat the winning slogans as his brother taught him. What he also tried to pick up from his late brother was Rob’s commitment and street smarts. Rob connected—maybe with people you are not interested in—but he built Ford Nation on their loyalty. You should never be critical of a guy with his own mob!

The speech writer is knowledgeable enough to know that politicians should not be going around giving lectures in civics. Nothing seems to turn off voters faster. And he thinks they should explain to voters why they care about them –also a good idea.

But the problem now for salesman Doug Ford is delivering on what he has promised his customers. They delivered the votes he wanted. He now has to deliver the goods. A good speech writer cannot always solve that problem.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Patrick Brown is back.

Thursday, July 5th, 2018

The wife was worried with my unrestrained laughter over breakfast. “Brown is back,” I finally managed to tell her. It was word in the Toronto Star that Barrie’s own Patrick Brown is running for chair of Peel Region that had sent me into paroxysms of laughter.

She did not think it was funny at all. Her first question was “Could he win?” I thought about that for about half a minute and nodded. “Yes.”

It is the same area in which Brown launched his scheme to win the leadership of the Ontario conservatives. The Hindu temples that he used as base to link all areas of sub-continent immigrants in Ontario are in the Brampton area which is the heart of Peel Region.

While I am sure my old friend Hazel McCallion, former mayor of Mississauga, could make short work of a putz such as Brown, you have to remember she is 97. He has a good chance in a large field of mediocre candidates such as those already nominated.

A four-year sinecure as Peel chair, paying about $175,000 per year plus lots of expense money, would please Mr. Brown no end. He could even use it as a calculated catbird seat for his future ambitions in Ontario politics.

Brown’s ‘tell-nothing’ book should be out in time for the October 22 election. It will probably be a rather fictionalized version of events leading to his downfall as Ontario conservative leader.

But neither can it include discussion of the reports from the young ladies who caused his downfall. That is the stuff of a lawsuit with CTV television. I expect the Bell Canada lawyers are going to be digging into that problem soon enough and Mr. Brown might have an undisclosed, but still handsome sum, to put aside for a rainy day.

I understand that Patrick has a ‘fiancé’ these days to keep him out of bars where underage ladies might be skulking in wait for him.

Just what he sees as the opportunity in the Peel regional chair eludes me. Admittedly, Paul Godfrey, went from regional chair in Toronto to some heavy wheeling and dealing in the newspaper business that has left him in a quite respectable position in which to retire.

But like in any other skulduggery, it is always a question of following the money. Running for regional chair is not an inexpensive undertaking. From the lakefront in Mississauga to the northern tip of Caledon is not a hop, skip and jump. There are about 1.4 million residents in that area and it keeps growing. You do not run for chair on a ward-healer’s budget.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

By Golly, It’s Ford Folly.

Monday, July 2nd, 2018

After spending some time checking out the line-up of found-ins referred to as the Ontario cabinet, we have an uneasy feeling in the middle of our back. This is supposed to be the people’s cabinet. We are not sure just who the people are to whom this refers.

The cause of concern was the report from the Toronto Star’s bureau chief at Queen’s Park that none of the new cabinet ministers were being allowed to appoint their own chiefs of staff or communications heads. All such decisions are coming from the new premier’s office. And since the premier himself knows nothing about those skills, all decisions are obviously being made by the premier’s staff. And this implies that premier Ford himself did not have too much to say.

The day that Christine Elliott, with years of experience, does not know whom she would want in her office backing her up, there is something wrong. If the premier’s staff think they can push the new minister of health around, they are in for early trouble. And in her other role as deputy premier, she has to be read in on much more than the premier’s staff.

The same can be said for Vic Fedeli, the new minister of finance and former North Bay mayor. Fedeli is more of a right-wing ideologue than a populist and he will have a tough time fulfilling many of Doug Ford’s conflicting promises. If he ever says he has saved six billion somewhere, you will know you are hearing fairy tales.

It seems we have let the fox into the hen house when Ford’s people picked Caroline Mulroney to be attorney general of Ontario. We have the unusual situation of a member of the New York State bar being given the top legal job in Ontario. Luckily, she is not connected with our education system as her three children attend private schools. Her weekend home is an estate in Georgina (part of her electoral district of York-Simcoe) while during the week, her and her family are in residence at their multi-million dollar home in Toronto’s Forest Hill area.

Mulroney has also been named as head of francophone affairs. She was educated in French as a youngster in Ottawa when she lived in the prime minister’s residence on Sussex Drive. What she might know about francophone affairs she could only have learned from her father. She went to American universities and worked and married in New York until she and her husband and children came to Toronto.

There will be more to come on Ford’s Folly.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Let’s settle this silly supposition.

Saturday, June 30th, 2018

According to Toronto Star columnist Bob Hepburn, political guru David Herle says the results for the liberals would have been worse if Wynne had not announced that they would lose. I must be missing some common sense. Since most of my Canadian readers are fairly knowledgeable about politics, I would like their help here.

Those of us that follow such things closely know that towards the end of the campaign, Kathleen Wynne and the Ontario liberals were going downhill. It was not the time to capitulate. It was a time to get smart.

As campaign manager for the party, it is supposed that Mr. Herle has to bear some of the blame for the loss. That campaign was not his finest hour. He spent more than a million dollars each to get seven liberal members elected. This is not cost-efficient campaigning.

But only now does Herle admit that he had no idea of how to fight Ford. He should have asked some of us old has-beens! We knew Ford from when he was on Toronto council. We watched the blow-hard lose to fellow conservative John Tory in the mayoralty race four years ago. We followed him closely in that farce of a conservative leadership contest. Beating him is as simple as you take one hard run at the son-of-a-bitch and then you ignore him. He was not the reason that the voters should have chosen Wynne.

Herle never gave the voters a convincing reason to vote liberal. Out of a ten-million-dollar campaign budget, you would think he could at least come up with a decent slogan!

Doug Ford’s “For the People” sucked but it was a hell of a lot better than nothing. Nobody ever gave us a reason to vote for Wynne. All we wanted was a single compelling statement on her behalf.

I guess Mr. Herle was counting on the more intellectual voters who preferred not to have a Trump-Lite such as Doug Ford in Ontario. We got news for you campaign manager: There seem to be only enough intellectuals in Ontario to elect seven liberals. The rest of us hoi polloi had to fend for ourselves.

Kathleen Wynne drove the campaign bus that transported loyal liberal voters to the NDP. Wynne should have been slicing and dicing Andrea Horwath from the beginning. That do-nothing blob was sucking up all the hot air and sailed through the campaign to plaudits and to Her Majesty’s loyal opposition.

Mr. Herle, I guess you are fired.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

From Penny Dreadful to false news.

Thursday, June 28th, 2018

If you think false news is new news, you are only about 300 years behind the news. Watching the efforts of past politician Patrick Brown to communicate with his constituents during his time in Ottawa, I used to think of his efforts in terms of the penny dreadful publications that originated in England in the early 1800s. They had the same lack of accuracy and quality and the same misleading enticements to want to read the following edition.

Most of the early penny dreadful material was fictional about highwaymen or vampires and so was much of Patrick Brown’s efforts. He seemed to accept anything without question from the party offices or as quoted from questionable sources. What was most annoying was his use of local charities to promote himself. He was doing a disservice to the charities but they could hardly say ‘no’ to him.

He used to make fanciful claims about what he did for charities in Barrie. He even used to take the credit for the Royal Victoria Hospital summer hockey event, saying he thought of it and started it, until enough people said “No, he did not.” He used to politicize the event to the point of needlessly polarizing the community.

But this is not to say that all of Patrick Brown’s schemes were not effective. He was easily re-elected for three terms as member of parliament for Barrie. When Brown saw the handwriting on the wall on the conservatives’ chances in 2015, he made the jump for the brass ring in Ontario. By signing up close to 40,000 immigrants from the Indian sub-continent (with or without payment), he swamped the then low membership of the Ontario conservatives and took the leadership—for a while anyway.

But we should hardly be surprised that the two city councillors—acolytes of Patrick Brown—who were there to fill in for him in the new electoral districts for the 2015 federal election, are following in his footsteps.

Messrs. Brassard and Nutall, both MPs for different halves of Barrie, sent out a penny dreadful the other day to announce that they are playing hockey down at the cenotaph on July 1. I, for one, just have better things to do than sit in the hot sun watching a mediocre game of shinny by people who are supposed to be adults.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

LDP 03: A favour from Ford.

Monday, June 25th, 2018

If a stronger, more democratic political party is to rise from the ashes of the Ontario liberal party, we can thank premier-designate Ford for one bit of help. Ford has refused to fund the liberal MPPs in Queen’s Park as a political party. It means those who want to have a new and invigorated replacement party can make more of the decisions with less confusion for the public.

Without the funding, staff, the right to ask questions in question period and the trappings of a party in the legislature, the grassroots of the party are on a more equal footing to say what the party should be. We want the elected members to have a say but not to drown out the grassroots.

This is a far cry from the situation under Kathleen Wynne. The Ontario liberal party was a top-down, one-boss organization. It allowed Wynne to get the party into the mess of charges in Sudbury over her manipulation of a bye-election. If the party had been allowed to conduct an open and democratic election of their candidate, there would have been no such charges.

But even more serious was the lack of party input on policy. Nobody listened to the people who supported the candidates and stood ready to work hard to elect them. The only person that Wynne was listening to was that former TD Bank head who told her to sell off part of Hydro One. It was one of her stupider moves and helped build voter antipathy towards her.

We probably have a year for this new party to get organized and register it before there might be a bye-election in Ontario. That would be our first chance to show some muscle. Our objective would be to get that eighth MPP to enable our new party to have full rights as a party in the legislature and for us to elect a party leader.

The difference I would suggest is that the leader’s role be better defined than in the past. The leader would be elected by an every-member vote and should be directly responsible for managing the elected wing of the party. The party president and executive might be responsible for the party at large and the vetting of candidates. The party members in each electoral district should be responsible for choosing the candidate.

While the policy directions for the party passed by the members have to be treated as possible directions for the party, the party leader needs to report to the party each year on the progress on party resolutions.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

The Ego Has Landed.

Saturday, June 23rd, 2018

Premier designate Doug Ford is in Queen’s Park. His reign of terror in Ontario is moving into gear. Before he has even unpacked, he is terrorizing the civil servants and attacking some of the better programs of his predecessors. Why he is being allowed to do this before being sworn into office will probably become the stuff of lawsuits.

Why the Green Ontario fund has replaced its website with a notice that all its Green ON programs are closed is serious. Since when can a premier designate issue an executive order such as that? You would think he would at least have the courtesy to be premier before issuing orders. This guy is only Trump lite. You would at least expect him to have lists of ‘Things to do—after taking office.’

A friend has a house used by her two adult boys who are somewhat challenged and help in looking after it. Lately, she has been installing better windows to improve the insulation and lower the heating costs. Imagine her surprise in trying to apply for the Green ON rebate.

The Green On funds were obtained by the government as part of the cap and trade program that served as a carbon tax in Ontario. Instead of taxing carbon emissions, Ontario had joined with California and Quebec to cap industrial carbon emissions and have industries that met their targets sell any excess allowance to others who were exceeding the limits. This program produced about $3 billion in the first few years and this provided the funds for the Green ON program of incentives and rebates on energy saving products.

But Dougie thinks he is going to save us Ontario taxpayers lots of money. Just the other day he also ordered the extension of use of the Pickering Nuclear plant until 2024. The best advice of our scientists was that the plant should be decommissioned sooner. They know that there is more to shutting down a nuclear plant than turning off the lights and locking the door.

Pickering was slated for decommissioning before that. It is one of the oldest operating nuclear plants in North America. It will take years to shut down the facility safely and cost a great deal.

But Dougie thinks he knows better. He was bragging to people east of Toronto around the Pickering area of all the jobs he was saving them.

When I lived in Toronto, we sometimes used to make bad jokes about the day that could be coming when the city has two sunrises.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Did Brown lay the table for Ford?

Sunday, June 17th, 2018

The only newspaper in Ontario that gave a real damn about the lynching of conservative leader Patrick Brown back in January was his hometown Barrie Advance. It is owned by the Toronto Star and while it is just a poor quality shopper in which to wrap grocery flyers, the publication has editorials just like a real newspaper. It is the only regular print media in a city of close to 150,000 people. This past week (it is a weekly publication), it had an editorial saying that “Brown’s work helped Ford win.”

This bravura assertion is questionable. There is probably a long list of people who helped Doug Ford win the Ontario conservative leadership and then the provincial election. I think we can all agree that the first name on that list should be premier Kathleen Wynne. Her quitting the race a week before election day was the guarantee that Ford would win.

A close second was new democratic leader Andrea Horwath. Her inadequate and incompetent leadership of her party left Ontario voters no choice. Her hidebound position on the York University strike before the election left voters with the clear impression that she could only follow the party line.

I thought the guy who really helped Ford was Patrick Brown’s friend Walied Soliman. He was chair of Brown’s campaign team and “The People’s Guarantee” that Walied’s team put together and had Brown present last November was one of the most brilliant pieces of propaganda that I have seen for a long time. Weak in content, it made up for it in slickness. Ford only loathed it because it had Brown’s picture on the cover.

But the unknown person who orchestrated the charges against Brown by the two young ladies was the real hero of the hour. The timing was perfect. It also showed that the person was not a liberal. It had to be a conservative who recognized that the momentum for whomever became conservative leader could be unstoppable.

And why Walied and his team all told Brown they were resigning and leaving him in the lurch back in January made little sense. As a lawyer, Walied was obviously not thinking as one to leave his friend in such a situation. And any lawyer taking on Brown’s case against CTV might just do very well on a contingency fee.

Brown was a timebomb for the Ontario conservatives. We knew how women felt about him and it was certainly his Achilles’ heel. The only thing he did to help Ford win, was to resign.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

What muted the proportional vote advocates?

Saturday, June 16th, 2018

It must be the shock of the recent Ontario election has not worn off. You would normally expect a hue and cry by this time for proportional representation in the legislature. It is when you hear about the so-called ‘wasted vote’ and the unfairness of first-past-the-post voting. It is certainly a well-aged whine!

According to the proportional representation people, if the last election had been run by their rules, the election would have produced the following result: The conservatives would have won 50 seats, the new democrats 42 seats, the liberals 25 seats and the greens would have had 6. There would be two more seats in a 124-seat legislature and they could be replacement members for the parties who had their members elected as speaker and deputy speaker.

What is wrong with the entire idea is that the only people really being elected are the leaders of the various parties. Everyone else is appointed from a party list according to a chosen formula.

Instead of Mr. Ford being busy with his transition team, choosing a cabinet and preparing to be sworn in as premier, there would still be arguments raging about whether Mr. Ford could get the confidence of the legislature to form a government. Somebody has to go to the lieutenant governor and be able to say, “I can win a vote of confidence.” That argument could take the entire summer.

The ongoing argument would leave the York University students in limbo and do irreparable harm to a fine university. The legislature would be prevented by the new democrats from meeting to interfere with collective bargaining that obviously does not work for the university governors, their staff, or their students.

In countries that have had proportional representation for a long time, there are far more parties involved. Each special interest group forms their own parties to protect their own turf. They do not often have big-tent parties in those countries that use proportion representation.

I think I will continue to support first-past-the-post voting. It might be a little more ‘rough and tumble’ than some people like but it gets things done. I am not sure how much of the Ontario conservatives under Doug Ford we can take. I do know that we seriously need to rethink our liberalism.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Some thoughts on the liberal rout.

Thursday, June 14th, 2018

The hardest thing to digest from the recent election in Ontario was the anger that fueled the liberal downfall. It was similar to a situation with a child who feels wronged and in the midst of a tantrum of tears and frustration. They often will strike out at the adult who tries to help. It seems Kathleen Wynne was the only adult available.

The liberal premier was an accommodating lamb to the slaughter for the hypocrites of the conservative campaign. The Doug Ford team had little interest in truth or fairness or decency. They could hardly believe their luck when they realized that nobody wanted to waste time with fully costed promises and they could get away with foisting bumper-sticker promises on an angry electorate.

The Ontario new democrats were equally amazed as they realized their good luck. It was certainly not their program or leadership that lead them to dramatically increasing their numbers in the legislature. It was progressives in the province who shared the anger at Wynne’s liberals. And what the hell was their choice when Wynne up and quit before the campaign was over? She deserted her party, she deserted the field. She left with no honour.

And what were voters to do? They were trying to get rid of the insipid Dalton dynasty back in 2011 and got a liberal minority instead. Next, they were offered a choice between a lesbian liberal, a confused conservative and a nebulous new democrat. They really had no choice at the time but to vote liberal.

But they became more and more annoyed with themselves for their choice. Maybe some of these talking heads of television can pick out this or that event that caused Wynne’s honeymoon with Ontario to be short-lived. Wynne had a water torture effect on Ontario.

From the beginning, she was hammered with the gas plants mess from the McGinty era. She added to her own problems with the arrogance of her political manoeuvres in Sudbury. Her good friend Ed Clark sabotaged Wynne with the privatizing and selling off part of Hydro One. She announced the beer and wine in large grocery stores so many times that it became a province-wide joke. And, believe me, not everyone understands the economic or just human values of a $15 per hour minimum wage.

As a liberal, I always had strong reservations about Kathleen Wynne. I was annoyed at her from the beginning of her leadership when she and Glen Murray, MPP from her neighbouring electoral district, corrupted the leadership convention that chose her. It is really regrettable that neither the conservatives nor the NDP had a leader suitable to replace her.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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