Posts Tagged ‘Ontario’

“Who killed Cock Robin?”

Sunday, January 28th, 2018

“All the birds of the air

fell a-sighing and a-sobbing,

when they heard the bell toll

for poor Cock Robin.”       (English nursery rhyme, author unknown.)

 

Former Barrie councillor, former MP and former leader of Ontario’s Progressive Conservative Party, Patrick Brown is not an object of sympathy.  It would be difficult to feel sorry for him. He will be remembered as the first politician to be thrown under the bus in the 2018 provincial election—that has yet to officially start.

But the contest for Ontario certainly has begun. And ‘Who killed Cock Robin?’ is a serious question. Brown was neither charged with a crime nor found guilty and he was dispatched with all the ceremony of empty pizza boxes after a frat house party. Guilty or not, the Tory caucus at Queen’s Park were hardly sorry to see him go. He will not be welcomed back.

When we wrote about his political career being finished last week, we were not talking about the charges against him. His relations with women might be pathetic but it was the news conference at Queen’s Park that did him in.

The staging of that media meeting was terrible, his prepared statement deplorable, his emotional control non-existent and his parting perp-walk pathetic. This is not what the voter wants to see at any level of politics. It is no wonder his campaign staff resigned rather than taking part in it. They had the sense to see where it would lead.

But the jubilant Conservative caucus at Queen’s Park were in a party mood when they picked Vic Fedeli as Interim leader. There is one word for a pompous millionaire and former mayor who is a back-slapping politician: boring. He was no threat to the caucus and a likely loser if he controls the 2018 election campaign for the Tories.

But the party organization belonged to Patrick Brown and the party executive opted for a vote on leadership by the entire party. And if you are wondering about who advised those young ladies to go to CTV with their experiences at Patrick’s place, you might ask who benefits? And bear in mind, the Liberals would want it to happen much closer to the election.

We all want to know who,

Drew the arrow straight and true,

The arrow that slew poor Cock Robin.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Ontario banks on the LCBO.

Friday, January 26th, 2018

That banker is back. Do you remember Ed Clark? He was the guy from TD Bank who advised Premier Kathleen Wynne to sell off Ontario’s Hydro One electricity distribution system. Remember how that got the Wynne government in trouble?

This Clark is the same guy who told Wynne that she could distribute beer and wine through the larger grocery stores. Remember the pain of gradually getting some booze in grocery stores.

The bad news about the few grocery stores selling beer and wine is that they are told how to do it by the LCBO—an organization that does not appear to know anything about pricing, merchandising, convenience, customer service, store design, or giving the customer an even break. If the grocery industry in Ontario had any guts, they would tell the government to take all the rules and regulations laid on them by the LCBO for them to sell beer and wine, roll them up and stick them where the sun does not shine.

And to think that the LCBO has been charged to start retailing marijuana to the gullible Ontario public in less than six months. This is adding insult to injury. It is not connected to the liquor operations and it is no corner store operation. Somehow there are supposed to be 14 pot stores in all of Ontario by July 1, 2018.

And just guess who is going to be running this Keystone Kops operation? None other than Premier Wynne’s good buddy, Ed Clark. He has just been made chair of the LCBO. And he says he is doing the job for a loonie a year—which might be more than he is worth!.

And standing on the sidelines, cheering Mr. Clark on is another former banker, finance minister Charles Sousa. Sousa is quoted as saying that Clark is also a retailer because he comes from TD Bank “that changed the face of banking in (Canada).”

Last year one of our local TD branches moved to a new plaza near Georgian College in Barrie. It started out looking like a nice little bank. We were delighted to see that it lacked the usual cattle pen to line up the retail customers and everybody commented and congratulated the staff. The customers got in line anyway. Last week we saw that a cattle pen had been added. TD Bank changes nothing!

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Brown’s political days are done.

Thursday, January 25th, 2018

When your entire life is politics, the end of your run can be a tragedy. Like the marathon runner, he is, he felt the eagerness for the starter’s gun and the highs of the final stretch. For the rest of his life, Barrie’s Patrick Brown can only say, ‘If only…”

No, there are no regrets for him. He knew the chances he took. He was not a person who attracted women. Making sexual advances on a person who works for you is reprehensible. There is no excuse.

What is also of concern is the cavalier way Patrick Brown could use his position as a Member of Parliament. There have been questions for years now about his involvement with charities such as a hockey event for the Barrie hospital. The claim that one of his accuser’s makes that he hired her to work on this charity event, pressed her to travel with him on his frequent trips to India and gave her a raise after making sexual advances is a sordid story.

Patrick Brown was a sorry sight at the Queen’s Park news conference on Wednesday. He called it to deny the allegations made by CTV News. Emotions on edge, he denied everything. If he had listened to any of his advisers, that would have been a very different event. It is an extremely difficult situation for anyone to handle and he blew it. Even if all the accusers would recant, he cannot recover from those few moments.

Patrick Brown is finished in politics.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Ontario votes in June.

Monday, January 22nd, 2018

While political pundits have obviously thought long and hard on Ontario Premier Wynne’s possible political problems this spring, I doubt her main concern is misogyny. Nobody is mad at her for being a woman and not many voters give a darn about her being in a lesbian relationship. That is not what the provincial vote on June 7 is about.

The vote will be about the Liberal government of Kathleen Wynne and the political hopes of the Progressive Conservative party of Patrick Brown and the New Democratic Party of Andrea Horwath. If you do not like those three options, you might have a Green Party or some independent candidate to consider in your electoral district. And you have the best part of five months to make your decision. Most Ontario citizens will not even think about the election until maybe sometime late in May.

While supposedly neutral, news media pundits wring their hands about the Liberals being in power in Ontario for the past 14 years, that is hardly a record. It was the government that brought the province through the most serious financial crash since the Great Depression while phasing out coal-fired electricity production and introducing all-day kindergarten. And even with the recent uptick in the minimum wage, unemployment is now at an amazingly low number.

When Kathleen Wynne took over as premier, she had already earned this writer’s enmity. I was hardly impressed by the chicanery she pulled in gaining the party leadership. (To be fair, her skulduggery was far less blatant than the underhanded way Patrick Brown used to take over his party’s leadership.)

But, on balance, you have to admit that the Wynne government has done a pretty good job. She should never have listened to that banker who told her to sell off the electrical distribution in the province. Her expansion of beer and wine distribution to large grocery stores became a long-playing joke. And yet, her government deserves a lot of credit for helping improve seniors’ pensions, providing a list of common medicines free to children and young people, and finally getting the minimum wage heading towards a living wage.

In the meantime, the Conservatives are falling all over each other hoping to get some blowback in the election. The worst thing for their hopes would be a strong NDP. If Leader Andrea Horwath continues to bumble along, it will not help the Liberals’ chances. A strong third party could force a minority and it is one of the possibilities we will be looking at as the election gets closer.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

The Lion proposes to his Princess.

Saturday, January 20th, 2018

We read that it was the Tenth Sikh Guru Gobind Singh, who determined that Sikh men could identify as Singh (lion) and Sikh women as Kaur (princess). This happened more than 300 years ago and was all in aid of getting rid of the caste system for Sikhs and asserting the equality of women. It is why, with the upcoming marriage of Jagmeet Singh to Girkiran Kaur Sidhu, the leader of Canada’s New Democratic Party and his wife will probably want to keep their own names.

But despite it being a Sikh ceremony, it is all very political. There are just too many problems with an unmarried political party leader. If you do not have to face the rumours and innuendoes about a politician’s sexuality, you can concentrate on the more important issues.

When you consider the provincial Conservative leaders in Alberta and Ontario, you can understand the problem. Nobody really cares about the sexual choices of Jason Kenney, who is now the leader of Alberta’s United Conservatives. His record is clear as a social Conservative and there have been enough claims about the misogyny of him and his circle that it is hard to understand why any woman would want to support him.

Observing Ontario Conservative Leader Patrick Brown while he was in Ottawa and representing us here in Barrie, I think his problem is that women do not seem to like him. He is also a social conservative and has voted to re-open arguments about abortion and against same-sex marriage. He does not appear comfortable talking to women and they seem to rapidly lose interest in him.

Jagmeet Singh is quite different. With an outgoing personality and as a devout Sikh, he would probably be considered a very good catch for a Sikh lady. His ‘princess’ also looks like the perfect spouse for a politician. She is a successful fashion designer and appears to wear her designs well.

Jagmeet is already a hero to younger Sikhs because of his days as an extreme wrestler as well as being a successful lawyer before going into provincial politics in Ontario. He has yet to win election though to the House of Commons and take his place in parliament as NDP leader.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Politics is a numbers racket.

Thursday, January 18th, 2018

It is time to admit it: I used to be a numbers runner. Different from the numbers racket in the United States, in Canada, it is a political game. I used to announce numbers provided by my political party to see if we could draw out numbers from the other parties. It was usually a fun game where nobody got hurt or really won.

This subject occurred to me the other day when reading about the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party having (maybe) 200,000 members. The Tory’s were so proud of that figure that they let that silly ass Patrick Brown announce it. There is absolutely nothing surprising about that figure.

When you consider what has happened since its last leader Timmy Hudak embarrassed the provincial Conservatives back in 2014, the party was at its lowest membership. Nobody will provide precise figures but the paid-up membership ($10 per year, please) was likely to have been less than 20,000 die-hard Tories.

And you should note that just because you have not paid for the current year, you are not immediately removed from the lists. It is easy for you to come out to some party event and pay to bring your membership current. In the 2015 leadership there were candidates for leader signing up new members in wholesale numbers and probably increased the membership to more than 80,000. Since about half of those new sign-ups were newcomers to Ontario from the Indian Sub-Continent signed-up by organizers for Patrick Brown, it really was no contest. (Who paid for those memberships is a good question?)

What causes the real boost to the party’s numbers is the upcoming election in June of this year. With questionable polls showing a supposed walk in the park for the Tories to win, there is a lot of interest in the new, redrawn or existing 124 electoral districts. This has sent out an army of people supporting this or that Conservative candidate to sign up people who might support their candidate. A candidate signing up 3000 to 4000 new members in an electoral district is not an unknown occurrence. These contests leading up to the 2018 election have also produced more than the average number of claims of fraud, malfeasance, chicanery and even some serious lawsuits.

Mind you as more and more people find out more about Tory Leader Patrick Brown, his chances of winning are diminishing. We will supply you with a Morning Line on the contest at the end of April.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

We will call that a Wynne Win.

Sunday, January 7th, 2018

Did nobody at the Tim Horton’s head office know about the change in minimum wage for Ontario scheduled for the first of January? Did all those franchisees fail to tell them? And would you not wonder about a major franchiser who dominates the product line in Ontario, not being in control of the situation?

Somebody should send a note to the new owners of the Tim Horton’s brand that they blew it. Did they not realize that a rise in the Ontario minimum wage would have an impact on their franchisers? We will assume that not all employees are still earning minimum wage but obviously there will be some franchises trying to maximize their profit at the expense of their employees.

But there is little percentage to trying to squeeze more profit from employees. Customers have watched the size of their cups reduced and prices of their double-double increased over the years. And having fewer employees is just going to slow the service and increase customer impatience. There has to be some balance.

And it is very foolish to take on the Ontario government in this situation. First of all, the government had resisted increasing the minimum wage for too long as it was. With the steady growth in the cost of living, there was no reason not to increase the minimum wage. The economics were barely tracking as it was. Ontario should have been at a $15 minimum hourly rate more than two years ago.

It was not as though the government did not give any warning. There was plenty of time for the Tim Horton’s franchise to consider computer models of the impact of the new minimum wage. The results of the models might cause a slowing of new hires in the short term but are unlikely to seriously impact earnings for either the franchiser or the franchisee.

And people should be very wary of blaming Premier Wynne for any of the problems that might be created in adjusting to the higher minimum wage. She might be slow but she is on the side of the angels in this argument. And she seems to be much better at public relations than these new Tim Horton’s franchise people

It was only when listening to an expert on Tim Horton’s operations the other day that I learned what a franchise can gross over a year. He was talking of earning of between $300,000 and $400,000 per franchise. Nobody need worry about the franchisers.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

A New Year rich in political opportunity.

Sunday, December 31st, 2017

This political junkie is looking forward to 2018. Starting with the Ontario election in June, Quebec scheduled for October 1 and then the American mid-term elections in November, there will be much on which to comment. The only recommendation we can make at this stage is to ignore the pollsters.

And one other suggestion at this stage is that you should be cautious about what you wish for. Much can happen over the year. Our moods and our priorities can easily change. Even our well-read Morning Line, issued five to six weeks before the vote, can see sea change.

While pollsters gain accuracy as the final polls get closer, it is their lack of people on the ground feeling the changes that jeopardize their accuracy. You have to be able to feel what voters are thinking.

The ups and downs of the Trudeau Liberal government in Ottawa is impacting the positions of both the Wynne Liberals in Ontario and the Couillard Liberals in Quebec. Both provincial parties are philosophically to the right of the federal party and yet each is being challenged by a more right wing party.

The mistake the Ontario Tories are making is that they are trying to prove they are at the political middle. Frankly, Ontario voters would be more inclined to vote for them if they were honest about being right wing.

But my neighbours and I in the riding of Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte would dearly love to have a good Liberal candidate to support and defeat a puffed-up Patrick Brown who needs to be beaten—and can be beaten.

The situation in Quebec is quite different. Quebec Francophone voters tend to park their vote when asked by pollsters and the Coalition Avenir Québec seems to be the current parking choice. The thought of this right-wing bunch of separatists making it to the top spot next October is a sad comment on the condition of Quebec politics. It would be ideal if the threat gets Premier Couillard off his butt and into action.

The fun stuff south of the border will be in full swing after the Quebec election and U.S. politics will get most of our attention until the November vote. Change in the House in Washington is possible but just three additional Democrats in the Senate will do wonders in controlling Trump for the last two years of his Reign of Terror.

We are all looking forward to that!

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Naughty or Nice: Ontario’s Kathleen Wynne.

Sunday, December 24th, 2017

It is hard to say where Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne would be on Santa Claus’ ‘naughty or nice’ list. I expect Santa to give her a pass into the ‘nice’ category but he should be warned that this person is one tough cookie! If he does not bring her something she asked for, he might have her arm wrestle him back up the chimney.

The leader of the Liberal Party in Ontario, Wynne is a fighter and that is probably a good thing now that the voters have shown their impatience with her. According to the pollsters she has certainly not been high on the voters’ preferred premiers list. The reality is that the voters either select the least objectionable of the three and vote or let others decide. They might not like that option.

Wynne is not warm and cuddly, but she is still somebody’s grandmother. Despite the agonizing and delays, she has been implementing some reforms. Is she fast? No. Does she get there eventually? Yes.

Yes, she was stupid to buy that dumb banker’s suggestion to sell part of Hydro One that does the electrical distribution for the province. That was a deal that could never please anybody. Yet she has made baby steps on freeing up beer and wine sales. She has proposed some good ideas that can move us eventually to a proper Pharmacare program. She will get there, we hope. She also needs to move faster on more day care spaces. And she had better provide that reasonable minimum wage when she promised.

But she needs to do something for seniors too. More and more they are feeling the pressure of rising costs—just living longer is causing them problems.

On a scale of one to ten, she probably rates a six. Neither of the other two have any potential to get that high. Horwath would be a national joke and Brown would be worse than Mike Harris. He would take Ontario back to the 19th century.

If we elected Andrea Horwath, we might like it for a while. At least until the province had to file for bankruptcy. Under a Brown government, we would like a cold and heartless Ontario less and less every day.

And that leaves us stuck with Granny Wynne. Maybe Santa can leave her a new butter churner under the Christmas tree.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Naughty or Nice: Ontario’s Patrick Brown.

Saturday, December 23rd, 2017

As more and more Ontario voters get to see Progressive Conservative leader Patrick Brown in action, the more his voting preference plummets. He is just not the type of person people can imagine as premier of Canada’s largest province. And neither can Santa as he keeps Patrick on his “Naughty” list.

If we had to pin it down to a one-word description for Patrick and his handlers, we would have to say it is “cynicism.” Patrick Brown lacks any vestige of integrity or sincerity.

Somebody must have spent some time teaching him how to read a teleprompter and his stilted performance at that show introducing his party’s guaranteed policies was the most cynical of all. If you thought Brown was going to bring his small-town thinking to Queen’s Park, guess again. It was Bay Street lawyers calling the shots on that show.

In three terms in Ottawa as an obscure backbencher, Brown never had an original idea. He is what some political people call a “retail politician.” He services his community but does nothing in office. He tells the voter whatever he thinks the voter wants to hear. He uses the slogan that ‘the customer is always right.’ What he gives you, is another matter. The only free votes Brown ever voted on in Ottawa were when he voted against same-sex marriage and to open up an anti-abortion debate.

I might have to revise my opinion of Kathleen Wynne for taking too long to carry out some recent reforms. How can I complain about Wynne taking two years to get to a proper minimum wage in Ontario? Here is Brown offering the same thing in three years. Maybe.

What probably puzzles Santa in making his list is that nobody in the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario has filed any objection to how Patrick Brown stole the leadership of the party. Swamping the existing membership of a political party to take the leadership is not ‘winning.” It is blatant theft of the leadership without any semblance of democratic choice. Whether people paid or did not pay for their membership in the party seems to be of little matter.

But it tells everyone about the lack of character of the new leader of Ontario’s Tories. Santa has an especially large lump of coal for him.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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