Posts Tagged ‘Premier Wynne’

And Wynne sits in the catbird seat.

Wednesday, January 31st, 2018

The ‘catbird seat’ is a wonderful American idiom for that perfect position in politics providing the politician with a position to observe the disarray of his or her foes. As you can imagine, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne is currently enjoying that position. Her main opposition, the Ontario Conservatives are totally involved in their own problems.

But not for long, dear friends. This situation is fraught with danger for the long-term hopes of the Liberals in Ontario. No Liberal adherent, who thought it through, would have picked this timing for bringing down Patrick Brown. It needed to be closer to the election and too late for any choice of leader.

Given a choice, Kathleen Wynne would have wanted to go against pompous Vic Fedeli, the Conservative caucus’ choice of leader. He is a known quantity and his platform is a known quantity. With time to think, Fedeli has taken himself out of the running.

But Brown was not irrelevant. Brown was high risk. The only good news for the Liberals lately was that Brown might not have been well known to voters but he was certainly making enemies within the Ontario Conservative Party. Dissidents in his own party were challenging him in court and in the electoral districts and they were winning.

One of the more interesting challenges was over his carbon tax policy. It seems that the PC Party’s lawyers were told to pay Cambridge lawyer Jim Karahalios $110,000 for his legal fees and $33,500 in punitive and special damages. The judge in the case considered the action to be just a strategic lawsuit to stifle dissent. Mr. Karahalios had already had his Conservative Party membership revoked and was barred from the November policy announcement because of his campaigns against Patrick Brown’s leadership and the proposed carbon tax.

Other party members have also been complaining about the party lawyers continuing their efforts to block dissent from Mr. Karaholios and appealing the order to pay him compensation.

What pleases Kathleen Wynne the most is that while the Progressive Conservatives might be getting the bulk of the media attention at the moment, it is not likely to be the type of attention that will do them any good.

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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

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

Welcome to our Gripes of Wrath.

Saturday, January 13th, 2018

It makes sense to save up our complaints and just share them periodically. There is no need to write too much about them. We should see if we can give them the quick shot in the head they deserve.

It is like that guy Desmond Cole who is playing coy about running for mayor in Toronto. And you thought the late Rob Ford was a problem?

It is highly unlikely that anyone in the offing is a challenge for incumbent Toronto Mayor John Tory. The problem with John is that I imagine all Toronto’s streets converted to a version of his silly King Street solution. Why are the burghers of Toronto allowing this business-destroying foolishness?

Did you hear that Peel Region really appreciates its School Resource Officer (SRO) program? So why did Toronto cancel its program of police involvement in schools before the results of the Toronto study were known? If a minority of students felt threatened by the program, it might pay to find out why.

And speaking of civic stupidity. Did you hear that a Kingston, Ontario pub has changed its name from “Sir John’s.” It seems that some local First Nations dilettantes feel that Sir John A. Macdonald did not respect our First Nations peoples. And in Sir John’s time, few did! What Sir John had was an idea called Canada. And I will raise a glass in his pub to that anytime!

While always admiring Toronto Star columnist Bob Hepburn’s political insight, I think he is losing it. He wrote the other day that Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne is going to lose the June election because she is a woman. First of all, he knows full well that it is far too early to say which party might win. And to say her party will lose because she is a woman is sexist and silly. Wynne is a lesbian and she is proud of it. If Patrick Brown makes the mistake of trying to debate directly with her, he will get lessons in politics he never expected.

And have we all heard enough about the Trudeau family vacation with the Iman of the world’s 25 million Ismaili Shiite Muslims? The prime minister probably should not have to resign over this incident of bad judgement. He will probably make more errors in judgement and we can weigh them all at the next federal election.

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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

Denzil decides to do his duty.

Sunday, December 10th, 2017

Toronto Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong seems to have heard the clarion call of distant trumpets. He tells people that he is challenging for the Progressive Conservative candidacy in York East electoral district. Knowing the voters in that part of Toronto as I do, this is not really exciting news.

While Denzil might believe he can leap small buildings at a bound, he has never proved to be a super guy in the political scheme of things. He is a social conservative and an avowed penny-pincher to extremes but his experience with the city will take him nowhere at Queen’s Park. They are different venues and require a different understanding of human needs.

It is this difference that is why Denzil’s blanket approval of the conservative platform is meaningless.   Fixing potholes is not a learning platform for the provincial concerns for health care and education needs. These are the two largest attention consuming and spending needs in the Ontario legislature. To bring an anti-spending attitude alone to that picnic is a disservice to the voters. Understanding the issues comes first.

The biggest trap in the conservative platform is the decision by the people preparing it to support a carbon tax over the present cap and trade approach. I, for one, agree with that decision but not how they are using it. They think ‘revenue neutral’ means that they give the carbon tax money back to the taxpayers through efforts such as tax cuts. If you are just going to churn the carbon tax money into other revenue needs, why bother? It would be less trouble if you left the carbon tax in the taxpayers’ pockets in the first place.

Tax cuts are only designed to impress the greedy. (The greedy are voters too, you know.) Tax cuts do not belong at the head of the agenda. And if the people who sign those guarantees of performance were honest, they would never sign them.

Denzil is counting on the current distaste for Kathleen Wynne as premier to influence East York voters and to dump a good M.P.P. Michael Coteau who has been serving as minister of children and youth services. Coteau has won the last two elections in the electoral district by more than 50 per cent of the vote. He is a good M.P.P. and could be a keeper.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Does Ontario come with an owner’s manual?

Saturday, December 2nd, 2017

Maybe Patrick Brown forgot to ask. It has been clear that Premier Kathleen Wynne has been playing the job by ear for the past four years. It is just that the former do-nothing back bencher from the Harper government wants Wynne’s job. The Globe and Mail tells us that Brown is a pragmatist on steroids and the Toronto Star’s Rick Salutin thinks he is merely returning to the zeitgeist of the Bill Davis era in Ontario.

As very few of us understand Rick Salutin, we have to go along with the Globe and Mail on this one. The only problem is that the Globe points out that some of the Conservative promises are more liberal than anything the Ontario Liberals are offering. Maybe Brown’s model is the Trudeau government in Ottawa.

All we know here in Patrick Brown’s electoral district is that the putz will say anything to get elected.

The only thing I regret is that the Conservatives must have read my criticisms of Kathleen Wynne’s Cap and Trade system. They are absolutely right to get behind the federal carbon tax. While it must be causing apoplexy in some Toronto board rooms, the carbon tax is the most open way to force people to help save this planet.

But nobody ever suggested that the carbon tax should fund personal income tax cuts. A proper carbon tax is designed to be revenue neutral and only a Libertarian would see it as a chance for tax cuts.

If any among us has had time to study all 147 promises in that Conservative work of fiction, they must be wondering where the cuts are hiding. You can hardly move that much revenue to popular promises without cutting the hell out of some critical programs. You have to figure that doctors’ incomes will be the only safe zone in the health care budget. (With the help of Brown’s campaign manager, Walied Soliman, greed won control of the Ontario Medical Association this past year.)

While the men in suits that seemed to dominate the Conservative gathering were applauding the new Patrick Brown, there was a feeling of déjà vu to the events. It felt like a piece meal plucking of a goody from here and a goody from there. Yes, Brown had a new haircut but it was the same schmuck we have known for years, reading the teleprompter.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

Watt’s ugly leopard doesn’t wash.

Sunday, November 19th, 2017

We might be mangling some metaphors here but Jaime Watt can never wash the spots off that ugly leopard. The head of Navigator Ltd., Mr. Watt has spent many years advising Conservatives in the fine art of winning votes. He might be taking on too much of a challenge to try to sell us on Ontario Conservative Leader Patrick Brown.

Watt tells us in a recent op-ed in the Toronto Star that he believes that the Ontario Liberals have been the government in Ontario for the past 14 years because they are keen political operators and they connected with Ontarians. I think he jests!

The truth is that after the experience of being pissed on by Conservative Premier Mike Harris, the Tories have taken a long time making any comeback with Ontario voters. They had even endured three terms of ‘Premier Dad’ McGuinty and then seemed prepared to replace his replacement with a Conservative.

It almost happened but someone advised then Conservative Leader Timmy Hudak that he should promise to fire a hundred thousand Ontario civil servants. He did not understand that he was threatening the jobs and family stability of more than a million Ontario voters.

Coincidentally, Timmy made that promise to an audience at the Barrie Country Club. Patrick Brown (then a backbencher in Stephen Harper’s government) was the first person to jump up and congratulate Timmy on his brilliant idea. He probably realized then that Timmy would be vacating the leadership job soon.

And contrary to Jaime Watt’s view, Brown’s taking the leadership of the Ontario Conservatives was no accident. It was a carefully planned and executed con job. And in taking the leadership by less than fair means, Brown has turned loose all that is mean, unscrupulous and disgusting about Conservative activists in Ontario. Lawsuits and even a charge of fraud are being made over how people have been trying to win nominations.

Watt wisely concludes that the Liberal brand is struggling these days and that Brown is there to take advantage of it. Watt says this is why Brown is trying to shed all his former extremist positions that could offend voters.

Watt seems to think it is mean to suggest that Brown acts as a weather vane on policies and yet uses Trump’s strategies of vilifying his opponent.

Frankly, Mr. Watt’s reasoning does not appear to be a particularly good sample of Navigator Ltd.’s strategic thinking.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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