Posts Tagged ‘Provincial election’

Defectors define democracy.

Tuesday, December 4th, 2018

One of the critical strengths of our Canadian democracy is that we elect people in each electoral district to represent us in parliament. While we might choose them because of the party they represent, they have the right to determine at any time whether or not to be a part of that political party. It is a safeguard for us as voters. It is a right that we would lose at our peril.

And yet political commentator Robin V. Sears, writing in the Toronto Star, sees the ability of MPs and MPPs to refute their party allegiance and sit as an independent or to move to another party as hurting our democracy. He knows not of what he writes.

Would Sears have preferred that Sir Winston Churchill remained a liberal throughout his remarkable career in the UK parliament?

It would be a fun game to go down a list of people who have moved to and from Sear’s CCF and NDP parties.

He was complaining about Ontario conservative Amanda Simard leaving her party on principles. He tries to belittle people with principles. He says they betray their voters, when what they are doing is standing up for their voters. Does he really think the largely francophone voters in Simard’s electoral district were standing up cheering what the Ford government is doing? Being one of those rare conservatives with principles, Simard, after thorough discussion and consideration, decided to make a stand. If I was constituent, I would have been cheering.

Frankly, I do not find much in the current Ontario conservative caucus by way of honour, principles or decency. Since taking office, they have been erratic, mean spirited and confused. Doug Ford has proved himself ill-advised and inadequate to the task of governing this province.

We have the advantage in our parliamentary system that if enough of his caucus walked out in disgust, we could have a new election. And now that the voters have had time to think about their June decision, I am sure we could do much better than Mr. Ford.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Doug Ford’s mean streak.

Saturday, November 17th, 2018

It seems that Douglas Ford Jr.’s mother never told him that what goes around comes around. That is not just a homily. It is a warning. The Ontario premier is asking for trouble with his ham-fisted nastiness.

This guy thinks he can use the premier’s office to get even for real or imagined slights over the years. He has much to learn methinks.

Most of the survivors at city hall are keeping a wary eye open for low-flying turds from the Ontario government. After cutting the number of wards in half mid-election, earlier this year, nobody would be surprised by Dougie’s next salvo.

This all dates back to Dougie’s dying brother who still wanted one more kick at the mayoral can. It was not to be and they shamed Dougie when he tried to stand in for his crack-smoking brother.

We are all aware that the Queen’s Park terrorists will be coming to wrest the subways of Toronto away from what Dougie considers the city hall incompetents. How all that will play out will keep the games interesting for a few more years.

But Doug Ford has more enemies than just the downtown Toronto councillors. He has a special hatred for liberals. With the Queen’s Park contingent of the liberals holding only seven seats in the legislature, they are not entitled to the staffing and accoutrements of a political party. The rules were that they needed eight warm bodies in caucus to be privileged to be recognized. That is not good enough for Dougie. He is changing the rules. He did not want a dismissed conservative or a disgruntled NDPer crossing the floor and turning the liberals into a party. He is upping the ante to having to have 12 members. That is a streak of meanness to be remembered.

With the ongoing firings and turmoil in the premier’s office, what was once a well-oiled machine at Queen’s Park is becoming a spectator sport for the news media.

And Dougie’s vendetta with Brampton Brown is getting far warmer with Brown’s tell-all book getting its 15-minutes of fame.

There is one quote from Brown’s book that can be considered accurate. It was Brown’s comment that Ford did not win the election from Kathleen Wynne. It was Wynne that lost it.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Pushing mediocrity to prove what?

Thursday, October 25th, 2018

If I learned one thing as a political organizer of many years, it is that you never leave the smallest detail to chance. The same rule applied in business when I had computer programmers reporting to me. I never let a program be released until it had been given a thorough workout under extremely difficult conditions. It is irresponsible to leave anything to chance. I really believe that the weakest link in any chain is the one you have not tested.

This comes to mind as we learn about what really happened in some experiments in voting in Ontario municipalities on Monday. This includes the ludicrous attempt at preferential voting in London as well as the well-meaning test by 51 smaller municipalities of computerized voting.

When we found out that London was going to run the program on Tuesday to find out who was mayor, we were totally confused. They could have done the job faster if they had counted by hand. All preferential voting does is drill down in the preferences of those who voted for losers, to find out who they chose as their next bad choice. It is the best way we know to find the most mediocre people to elect.

London councillors will have to delve into the weakness of the system they used that took two days to choose a mayor. Two other municipalities, Cambridge and Kingston, had questions on the ballot asking voters if they would like to try ranked voting in 2022. Cambridge did not have enough voters answer the question but Kingston voted ‘yes.’ Hopefully the Kingston councillors will come to their senses before 2022 and kill the idea.

It turns out that, for some strange reason, the firm handling the voting for the 51 smaller municipalities used a single computer centre for the voting. Obviously, the total votes anticipated was not the problem. The problem is that you never use a single data centre for something so critical. (It reminds me of the time in the 1970s we were testing a computer reporting approach for a provincial election in Prince Edward Island. The nearest data centre with the power to handle the programs was at Dalhousie University in Halifax. The polls closed at 8 pm and, for some reason, so did the Island telephone lines under the Northumberland Strait.)

Fiber optics have greatly improved bandwidth and reliability since those days but it never hurts to have redundancy on top of redundancy.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

 

Patching the health care problems.

Thursday, July 26th, 2018

With former Ontario health minister Eric Hoskins helping the federal government and Doug Ford tearing into the make-do solutions in Ontario, we might be in more trouble in adding pharmacare to health care than we thought possible. We already know that Doug Ford’s argument for a patchwork solution is unworkable but just where Hoskins and the feds are headed also has a question mark on it.

As health minister for Ontario over the past four years, Hoskins has always had a frazzled look about him. He seemed to have no idea what to do about the increasingly onerous demands of the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) specialists who seemed to think their fees should be unlimited. And these demands by the specialists were being made while people outside the large cities in Ontario were increasingly desperate for general practitioners to come and provide coverage in their community.

I always assumed that those speeches the health minister made in support of a national pharmacare program were also being delivered to his Ontario cabinet colleagues. His problem was that former premier Wynne never saw a good program that she could not chop up into chewable chunks.

But Wynne’s stepping-stone steps for Ontario are down the tubes now as Doug Ford is set on teaching us all to pay our own way. Ford is determined even to the extent of taking back pharmaceutical coverage from anyone under 25 who has a health plan on their own or through a parent with coverage through their company, union or organization.

If Ontario’s new premier thinks his plans will save anybody money, he is definitely confused. Unless there is a single buyer of pharmaceuticals for the province (or all of Canada), there will never be any control. And to even suggest that insurance companies selling health plans, with pharmaceutical coverage included, are not motivated by profit, is delusional.

Ontario has had enough of the Doug Ford-Mike Harris approach to health care. Seniors were promised by Wynne that they would have the $100 per year plus the up to $6 co-pay per script ended after January 1, 2019. That will obviously not be happening. Even though the co-pay approach was a serious amount for those taking a range of drugs each day. They will be lucky if the Ford government does not increase it.

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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

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

A fleeting fondness for Ford.

Friday, June 15th, 2018

Does premier Ford really feel the love? Sorry Dougie, it’s temporary. The same rage as put a Ford in the premier’s office can just as quickly send him to the same scrap heap as Kathleen Wynne. Ford began and ended his campaign for Ontario in his mother’s basement. Both he and the province would be better off if he had stayed there.

It will be a couple of weeks before Dougie’s team can gather the reins of power at Queen’s Park. We loyal citizens should appreciate the reprieve.

But watch out. Dougie’s couple dozen or so cabinet colleagues will hit the deck—running in all directions. I will be quite interested in seeing who gets what portfolios. It will be our early warning as to where to watch for trouble.

The conservatives will probably launch themselves in office by making the populist move of sending the York University staff back to work. It has been a disgrace the way the university and its staff have allowed their squabble to destroy the hopes of students for education and careers. The new democrats will pay heavily for their obstinance on this before the election, in the name of collective bargaining.

But it is Ford’s promises that are so eagerly anticipated by observers. Frankly there are more than a few of them that he would be smart to forget. The most amusing is the purported ten cent reduction in the price of gasoline for Ford’s favourite big gas guzzling SUVs.

Despite all the trouble he wants to take just to save us ten cents a litre on gas, Ford will find that the oil companies fix the price of gas, not politicians. The oil companies have already told us that gas will be over $1.50 a litre by the end of summer. Dougie’s effort will be like pissing in the wind.

And I am waiting for him to let convenience stores across the province sell beer and wine. We expect a lot of scrabbling to retract on that promise.

Another promise that probably should not be kept is the one to reduce hydro bills by another 12 per cent. Dougie has three choices on that promise. The first choice is to forget it. The second choice is to just transfer the cost to all taxpayers. And the third is to continue to add to the long-term debt of Ontario Hydro and let future generations pay the price, plus interest.

Anyway, there are lots of other foolish promises and we will have a better idea what happens to them depending on the cabinet member responsible. Some might not have an easy job.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Promises, promises!

Saturday, June 9th, 2018

Most people are sceptical about political promises. We should certainly be dubious of conservative leader Doug Ford’s recent scattering of promises in the Ontario election. Some, such as paving over the Green Belt around Toronto, had to be withdrawn immediately but he still has a backlog of questionable promises, such as redrawing the sex education in our schools that could best be forgotten.

But among these various promises, there are some even a liberal can like. The promise to have beer and wine in convenience stores is certainly long overdue. It represents an excellent opportunity to upgrade the province’s convenience stores along with ending the long-running blue-stocking era of Ontario politics.

This would also end the long-term milking of all the profits of alcohol sales in the province into the coffers at Queen’s Park. The convenience store operators need to be allowed to make some money to enable them to upgrade their older, dilapidated stores.

It is like the stupid mistake the Harris conservatives made when they amalgamated Toronto. At the same time as they put Toronto together with the suburbs, they started downloading more provincial costs on the municipalities. It left Ontario municipalities without the sources of revenue to pay their bills. Sure, the municipalities are creatures of the province but they should not be kept in poverty.

Maybe that is the same as Dougie’s promise in regard to the minimum wage in Ontario. The silly bugger thinks he can freeze the minimum wage at $14 and give minimum-wage earners a tax credit instead. Too bad Dougie has never had to live on a minimum wage. Any tax accountant can explain to him why a tax credit is likely to be irrelevant if you are only earning $14 per hour.

The major difference I have noted between Dougie and his evil twin Donald Trump is that Dougie has been known to admit that he does not know everything. He proved that conclusively when he was a Toronto councillor.

When somebody explains the present cap-and-trade system that Ontario has with California and Quebec to him, Doug might become a devotee. The secret of cap-and-trade is that the public will never find out what is really happening. Cap-and-trade can be better than bribes.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Don’t blame me, I voted liberal!

Friday, June 8th, 2018

From the catbird seat yesterday: I felt as though I was on the lip of an active volcano watching the devastation of the countryside. It was both a sad and a challenging night. A new day dawns and Kathleen Wynne is gone; that is good. We thought Ontario voters were too smart to elect Trump-lite and we found we were wrong. Ontario voters can be just as stupid as Americans.

But what choice did they really have? Kathleen Wynne gave them license to riot. There are no apologies. Her final act was to cut the party adrift. She has been a target for the last two years. She should have quit when we first saw the problems she was having. Ed Clark of TD Bank was her nemesis.

That was quite an aria we heard from Andrea Horwath yesterday. She was always the problem and never a solution. The new democrats in Ontario are tired and hopelessly out of date. It is a party without a future. Socialism betrays them. The party never had its own agenda.

But speaking of agendas folks (as Mr. Ford calls us) you need to start taking a hard look at the horde Mr. Ford has brought to the gates of Queen’s Park.

It started over a year ago as we looked at the chicanery going on in the conservative party under boy-leader Patrick Brown. Whomever set up that take-down of Brown in January did the party a favour. Though, in time, people will regret the results.

And if you think Mr. Ford will be the problem as premier, it will not be that bad. Ford is just incompetent. It is people in the horde you need to watch. We saw Caroline Mulroney’s father being rude to a Global TV reporter in that safe conservative country club electoral district she had picked last night. Brian is back folks.

The real difference between Ford and Trump is that Ford knows he cannot do it all. He has never been the schemer and dealer as is Trump. Heck, even his sister-in-law knows he is incompetent in business.

(It reminds of the three Peterson boys. Jim, David and Tim were all elected as liberals at one point and the employees of their father’s old firm were allowed to run the company properly.)

We live in interesting times.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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