Posts Tagged ‘Premier Wynne’

Ford’s flock is fleeting.

Thursday, April 19th, 2018

In analyzing a political situation, you have to weigh many factors. According to the public pollsters, the upcoming Ontario voting seems to be decided. I hate to poop on the pollsters’ parade but you should always check some very pertinent points before buying into the B.S. The questions start with survey technique, sample size, completed interviews, refused and incomplete interviews, qualifying questions, demographic balance, and the percentage who did not have an answer to the basic questions. Without these answers, the pollster might as well have jotted down those percentages on his or her luncheon napkin while asking mother what she thinks.

What we are seeing in the current circumstances is the steady erosion of the Ford share of attention. It is like the small spike likely today for the NDP. They announced some policies and people who normally ignore them felt that they should pay a bit of attention. Changes such as that will continue through to election day. That is the final poll. It is the one that counts.

Ford’s base is not as large as the pollsters are saying. He brought his late brother’s Ford Nation to the party but most already were conservative voters. These are the angry, lower income conservatives in Toronto spread around the inner city in the suburbs. They can do things in municipal elections but can hardly compete with strong, experienced and organized liberal party organizations in the upcoming provincial contest.

Where Ford is showing strength at the moment is in the more determined conservative strongholds in the Greater Toronto Area, with the rural Ontario Landowners Association and the religious right (social conservatives).

But what is floating the Ford bubble are the unsophisticated, new voters either coming of age to vote or recent immigrants gaining their citizenship. These people are naïve about politics and are only hearing the braggadocio of Ford.  There is a continuing and serious imbalance recently in the Ford funnies versus the weary stuff from Wynne. And until Wynne can change those ratios and pull ahead in the social media as well as the traditional media, she will look like a loser.

And the ratios will change. Wynne is not the sort to remain silent. She will be calling out Ford for his lies and obvious ignorance. She will be armed for bear when she debates Ford—if a debate happens. She is going to show those new voters that Ford is a loser.

And nobody loves a loser.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

A Truth Squad for Doug Ford?

Monday, April 16th, 2018

Here is a million-dollar idea for the Ontario liberals. It came to me as I read the news that the party was going to waste a million dollars on television advertisements to tell Ontario voters that Doug Ford tells lies. I suppose I should charge them, but it was not my idea. It belonged to the late Keith Davey, the master political strategist for the Liberal Party in the last half of the 20th Century.

It was Keith’s idea but he had to get the approval of Walter Gordon who was liberal campaign manager in 1963 and party leader Lester Pearson. Nobody was enthused. The toughest arguments against it were by liberal stalwart Judy LaMarsh, whom Keith wanted to head up the truth squad. I was just a young volunteer at the time but I knew that John Diefenbaker would tear into her.

Judy and her troop were welcomed by prime minister Diefenbaker at the first event and there were seats reserved for them at the front of the hall. It was classic Diefenbaker when he tore into them. Judy and team only needed to take Mr. Diefenbaker’s scorn at two more events before Keith said “That is enough.”  He had made his point.

The strategist’s point was that Mr. Diefenbaker was making free with the truth and the news media did the best job of telling the voters. Everyone was laughing but it was at Mr. Diefenbaker’s expense.

And that is the objective with Doug Ford. The difference was that Mr. Diefenbaker was a wily old Prairie lawyer, skilled at talking around the truth. Doug Ford simply does not know what he is talking about.

A good example is his promise to fire the chief executive of Hydro One. Ford cannot imagine anyone earning six million a year and so he will fire him. The only trouble is to do that he would have to start by firing the entire board of Hydro One. And only then could he fire the chief executive officer. By the time the dust settled on the law suits involved, the company could have another $20 million or more to make up from electricity transmission rates.

If the liberals just keep making the point that Doug Ford does not know what he is doing, they can turn around those ridiculous public opinion polls. The 2018 provincial election in Ontario is far from decided.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Premier Wynne’s nemesis.

Saturday, April 7th, 2018

If Premier Wynne really wants to keep her job in Ontario, I would suggest that she should make amends by first firing Ed Clark as chair of the Liquor Control Board and of the Ontario Cannabis stores. Even at the price of one dollar per year, he is not worth it. She has given a guy with absolutely no political smarts the ammunition to destroy her.

This is not a question of loyalty. Bad advice and bad advice followed are the problems. Ed Clark has absolutely no political smarts and would ask his doctor if there is a pill for it, if he did. Ed Clark is a banker. Bankers are the people who want you to borrow money, when you do not need it, and demand you pay it back when you lack the funds. They give you a nice shiny new credit card but cluck their tongue when you over use it, in their estimation.

Bankers are never your friend. To suggest that Clark’s experience running TD Bank was a consumer success is to suggest that he failed as a banker. If bankers were honest with you, they would admit that they do not like dealing with the hoi polio. Consumers with their grubby little deposits are not the stuff of bankers’ dreams.

You need to remember that the one blunder that really caused Premier Wynne to fall off her high horse was following Ed Clark’s advice to sell off Hydro One. That was the turning point. Against all political instincts, she started to sell Hydro One without realizing that the voters did not even know what she was attempting to sell. Given the history of Ontario Hydro, it goes down in political history books as a really dumb move.

Somebody should have told Wynne that Hydro One—the transmission network—was hived off from Ontario Hydro 15 years earlier by the Harris government with the intent to sell it. Everybody thought Kathleen Wynne was smarter than Mike Harris. Even he was convinced not to do it.

The other suggestion that Ed Clark made to the Wynne government was that they start selling beer and wine through the grocery stores. That is probably the worst implementation of a government program we have ever seen. The grocery stores do not make money on it. The rules are inconsiderate of the grocers. And they want the same guy to sell marijuana in Ontario?

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Wait until they are ‘At Post.’

Wednesday, April 4th, 2018

Ontario is in the midst of a ‘phony war.’ People are getting excited about public opinion polls that are meaningless. Babel-on-the-Bay is more than a month away from offering its Morning Line on the coming provincial election. At least wait until then to place your bets on the outcome.

You have to remember that not all horses in this race have passed their drug tests. Hell, the conservatives have been on a high for too long thinking they can walk away with first prize. One of the biggest bumps on the road from here to election day is the conservative leader—such as he is! Does the conservative brain trust really think they can keep him from saying what he wants? Doug Ford is a loose cannon and anything can happen.

And how about friends? There was a radio advertisement the other day by the specialists who run the Ontario Medical Association. The words dripped of greed and confidence that the conservatives will come to power. The only people who will benefit from a conservative win might be the medical specialists and other millionaires.

And then there was an op-ed in the Toronto Star by one-time New Democrat guru Val Sears. He was trying to tell us that all three parties are equal. It was a good try but the only way to resurrect the NDP in Ontario is with a shovel. He should look up the word ‘nebbish’ in his dictionary. It is an excellent description of NDP leader Andrea Horwath. The NDP have no where to go in Ontario and a nobody to lead them.

And in the meantime, the liberals have more leadership than the party needs. I like to think of Wynne as the wicked witch of North Toronto. What I have been seeing lately is some new, fresh, young liberal faces appearing who might start to tell Granny what big teeth she has and suggest that she move along and go into retirement.

But she did win me over with some of her death bed repentance. That recent budget, was offering a pastiche of liberalism and I could only approve. These were all desperate needs in mental health, day care, health care and in looking after the poor and disadvantaged in our society. Only a curmudgeon would disagree with the needs.

But here’s hoping the crick don’t rise and we can have a well doped out Morning Line for you before the middle of May.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Ford isn’t fast with his math.

Monday, April 2nd, 2018

It was really very funny last Thursday when conservative leader Doug Ford got pompously to his feet to harangue the liberal government for their election budget. It seems that towards the back of the budget book there is a tax increase for the top 17 per cent of wage earners.

The effect of this tax, on average, means that anyone with taxable earnings of $130,000 per year will pay an additional $200 in tax to Ontario. Doug Ford was horrified. Imagine a tax increase for those who can most afford it! Okay, it is one less dinner at a fancy restaurant for you and the wife. Think of all the good you are doing with the money.

But Doug Ford was horrified. He was outraged at this egregious affront to the wealthy taxpayers he wants to represent at Queen’s Park. Some how, Ford got in his mind that the tax applied to everyone in the household. He thought if it was a family of five, each would pay the government an additional $200. He was wrong. The facts are that if the other four people in the household are all dependents, the taxpayer would not pay the additional until they earned quite a bit more than $130,000.

Ford must have also been confused between the difference in gross income and taxable income. The problem with people such as Ford is that they never do their own taxes. They have an accountant for that.

Yet the money is to help our citizens who most need the assist. It is for day care for the youngest children when they are the most vulnerable. It is for our seniors to stop nickel and diming them for prescription drug co-payments. It is to increase the funding to keep seniors in their homes longer. It is to increase the number of mental health professionals in the province to meet the needs of our young people.

Obviously, Mr. Ford has different priorities. He does not seem worried about our environment. He thinks he can come up with billions by just cutting some fictitious waste. How he will achieve that when the bulk of our provincial expenditures are on education and health needs, he will wait until he is in office to find out. When you bore down on Mr. Ford’s approach, you find out he has no idea how to magically balance budgets or provide funds for tax cuts.

Doug Ford is just blowing smoke.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Can you put it on a hat?

Friday, March 23rd, 2018

We used to use bumper stickers but cars do not have bumpers any more. Now we are running campaigns that you can put on a hat. We are producing hats that say “Ontario drives with Ford” or “Win with Wynne” or “Horwath or horror.” That is the general view of political campaigns these days.

Just look at Doug Ford’s Trump-like rally for the lumpen proletariat the other day at a Toronto area convention centre. It was a disappointing turn out, but then, all the attendees got was candidate Ford.

He had promised that his rival for the leadership, Christine Elliott, would introduce him. The lady must have had one of those political attacks of laryngitis. Ford was introduced by his current campaign manager. Elliott was there but probably not in spirit.

It was a small but easy to please crowd. What is left of Ford Nation came for the free lunch and the conservatives came to commiserate with each other. Nobody expected to learn anything. Nothing was learned. The news media were wondering why they were there? There was nothing for them to report.

A candidate for any office that speaks in words you can put on a hat, does not provide much copy for think pieces. A story that begins and ends with the single thought on a hat, such as ‘Lynch the Liberals,’ is hardly loaded with usable news copy.

This keeps reminding us of North Bay’s favourite golf pro and former Ontario premier Mike Harris. He was the premier who said something like “Will nobody rid me of those meddlesome Indians?” He got his wish when the Ontario Provincial Police went and shot one of them. An unarmed protestor, Dudley George, was dead and premier Mike Harris’ problems at Ipperwash Park went away.

But give Harris the credit for promising more, even if it was just the “Common Sense Revolution” on a hat. Harris, like Ford, stupidly insisted in cutting everything. He even cut the provincial inspectors who made sure we had clean drinking water. In Walkertown, Ontario an E.coli outbreak killed five Ontario citizens and made many more seriously ill. Harris saved us taxpayers a few dollars and ended up costing us many millions. Now there are foolish people in this province who want to give someone like Doug Ford the same opportunity.

The good thing for the Wynne Liberals in all of this is that they do not have to keep promising to spend on a myriad of promises. All they really need is better writers for their hats.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Keep to the left Ms. Wynne.

Sunday, March 18th, 2018

Not that she would necessarily listen to this writer but Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne needs advice on dealing with Doug Ford. There is always the hope that someone who reads Babel-on-the-Bay will mention it to her. We, of course, are expecting her and her Liberal government to continue to discuss left-of-centre initiatives in the run-up to the June election. It is just in one of the first salvoes by the new conservative leader Ford across her bow, Kathleen Wynne veered to the right.

And of all subjects, it was regarding the sale of cannabis in Ontario! Kathleen Wynne had to take the grandmother approach. That was not only bad but it took her completely off message.

Wynne ignored all we already know about cannabis. Who does she think really gives a damn about buying weed? Not many of them are grandmothers. Yet in responding, she referred to herself as a grandmother. She can talk grandmother to grandmothers when talking about something grandmothers care about.

Admittedly, it was a set-up. The news media is going to keep feeding questions such as that to Doug Ford and then run to her to ask her for her response. It is to fill the ongoing need of the news media to have something between the advertisements.

The beauty of it is that Ford does not understand many of the questions and he gives little thought to his answers. Premier Wynne does understand it and has to use the opportunities provided to define the political differences between herself and the conservative leader.

She was careless to suggest that Doug Ford was looking to sell cannabis in convenience stores. Nobody suggested that. And to say that Ford was ‘reckless’ by suggesting privatization was silly. It is only pointing out to those who want to be able to buy legal cannabis that the government-run stores will be few and far between. Why push those potential pot purchasers to vote for Ford?

All this particular incident shows is that Wynne does not know why she has to make sure she stays to the left politically. To allow Doug Ford to look more progressive is a tough task, but somehow, Premier Kathleen Wynne managed to make it happen in this instance. She really needs to smarten up.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Doug Ford is just Trump Lite.

Friday, March 16th, 2018

It was made clear when we announced the winner that the new Conservative leader in Ontario was just Trump Lite. There are some interesting similarities between the two men and their many failings but there the similarity ends.

To start with both men came into their wealth the old-fashioned way: they inherited it. They have no rags to riches stories. Nobody doubts that Trump turned his father’s development business into a billion-dollar enterprise but there were many complaints of chicanery and quite a few bankruptcies over the years. Doug Ford kept his company’s presses printing labels.

Trump started out disliking politicians and never really changed his mind. His ego finally drove him into the midst of politics and he wasted no time heading for the top. Doug Ford never did anything political until his younger brother headed for the Toronto mayoralty from his council seat—which he gave to his older brother.

Doug Ford’s entire political career as a one-term city councillor was spent alibiing his brother the mayor and trying to keep him sober, on the job and off crack cocaine.

When Doug Ford jumped into the mayoralty race four years later to replace his sick brother, he got the nod from what was left of the Ford Nation followers but lost to a real politician.

You could argue with Donald Trump as to whether the development business or politics requires the most lying, cheating and stealing but those traits took him to the American presidency. He is at his happiest when addressing a rally of his lumpen proletariat who think his B.S. is the word of God.

The difference with Doug Ford is that he thinks he is a politician. It was his late brother who was the populist who excited his followers with a plain-spoken, campaign that said he would listen. And it was true that Rob Ford listened. He returned telephone calls from voters who called in to complain. The two brothers even had a radio show for a while where they listened to voters who called.

But compared to his brother, Doug Ford is no listener, no politician and no populist. And in that, he and Donald Trump are alike. Both would rather moon the media than deal honestly with it. Many in the U.S. await the time that the American Democratic Party gets its act together. It would foretell the demise of the Trump presidency.

Doug Ford is hardly getting the free ride into office in Ontario that Trump had in the U.S. The difference is that Ford will be facing off against and experienced and wily politician. She is not going to buy into his crap.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Donald Trump Lite and the Ontario PCs.

Sunday, March 11th, 2018

After spending Saturday afternoon watching Rosemary Barton and CBC News struggling with the Ontario Conservative fiasco, I was not sure whether the party or the news media did the worst job. It was embarrassing. I actually paid the CBC $6.85 plus GST for the right to watch that screw-up on streaming video. And I want my money back.

I spent a career working on news conferences, conventions, political rallies, candidate selections and leadership contests across Canada. I always worked to the rule that whatever happens is supposed to happen and you live with it.

But I never considered that you could have a disaster such as the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party leadership announcement.

The worst of it was that nobody seemed to be in charge. There seemed to be nobody willing to deal with the news media. There was no information shared with the attendees. They waited for hours without anyone coming to the microphone to apologize for the delays and then they were sent home without answers. Like wayward children, they were sent to bed without their supper.

What really amazes me is that when you are using computer collection of data (such as voting) that you would not write the simple program needed to count those votes. The only time I complained about the weighting of the ridings is when I tried to simulate a program to do that in preparing Babel-on-the-Bay’s Morning Line.

I estimated that there would be less than 70,000 votes cast. It was also clear that Tanya Granic Allen was the fringe candidate. She did better than expected but still came fourth.

It was the collapse of the Caroline Mulroney campaign that surprised us. Like her father, her campaign was just hot air. She blew it.

But it was the attempt to make all electoral districts equal that left the Tories in a mess. Like the electoral college in the U.S., the Tories had an undemocratic system. In the end, Christine Elliott won the most votes and Doug Ford won the election.

All I could think of last night was that Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne had a chance to resign last year. We can only hope that she takes a look at what Hillary Clinton did wrong in the last U.S. election. She has to remember that there are lots of angry conservatives in Ontario. Her and her party have to win the rest.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Which Tory Witch is dead?

Friday, March 2nd, 2018

The other evening, the wife and I gathered in the den to enjoy a streaming video of the Ontario Tory leadership debate from Ottawa. It was only when the hijinks started to encroach on our dinner hour that the wife started questioning the entertainment value of the program. Amazingly, the wife started watching the debate disliking Kathleen Wynne and by the time it ended, she was definitely voting Liberal.

She doubted that any of those four candidates was capable of leading the Ontario Conservatives anywhere. Personally, I wanted to vote for the moderator, I never did catch her name but she was the only one on the show with a sense of humour.

But it was hard for anyone but a died-in-the-wool conservative to listen to all that mindless conservative cant. These people really need to listen to themselves sometimes. It is that over-reaching conservative condescension that permeates the dialogue.

And the best job of condescension was done by Granic Allen. The wicked witch of the north actually said she was going to rip Ontario wind turbines out of the ground. This was a sure sign that she was trying to add Ontario Landowners to her fringe candidacy for the religious right.

Poor Christine Elliott walked right into that one. The senior Conservative and the only past MPP at the leadership table did not seem to realize that the Landowners hardly care about their legal position on turbines. Contracts be damned is their attitude.

Ford in his stilted manner got some of the arrows out of his quiver. He hammered at the Green Energy Act and Wynne’s carbon cap and trade. There was little question that all four candidates are now trapped in some kind of mind-set that says carbon is not the problem: liberalism is the problem.

But, to our surprise, it was Brian Mulroney’s kid who blotted her copybook through the evening. I would have thought she had taken some public speaking training. She flunked if she did take it. Her voice was thin and reedy. It lacked conviction. She was not as good on her feet as we thought. She had no good power words in her memory bank. She pulled together for the closing quotes but too little, too late.

Who won? Who cares? None of these four losers is a problem for Kathleen Wynne and the Liberals.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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