Posts Tagged ‘Toronto mayoralty’

Tory Odd Couple Challenge Wynne.

Monday, June 5th, 2017

A pair of losers could be Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s nemesis. Meet ‘The Kid’ and the ‘Big Guy.’ They just got back from the Soo were they took a solid Liberal seat in a bye-election by 40 per cent of the votes. These cowpokes are riding high in the saddle.

But they are an unlikely couple. The Kid looks like a nerd, sounds like a nerd and is a nerd. He is leader of the Ontario Conservatives. He is Patrick Brown from Barrie, Ontario. He is a backroom political manipulator who got carried away with his own ego. He stole his party’s leadership with the age-old trick of signing up ethnics en masse. Nobody called him for cheating. Who knows how many paid their own membership? (And why do you think the federal party changed the rules for its leadership contest and required individual credit card number or personal cheque with each membership?)

The Big Guy is more interesting. He is the late Rob Ford’s older brother. He is what is referred to in show business as a Second Banana. He is the side kick who does not get the girl. He is brunt of the jokes. He always comes second, never first. Doug Ford’s management of the family business must have cost so much that the family want him to run in politics instead. It was his younger brother sweeping into the Toronto mayoralty in 2010 that allowed him to win the council seat Rob vacated. He lost to fellow Conservative John Tory when he tried to replace his brother in the mayoralty race in 2014.

What is amusing about the relationship of Patrick Brown and Doug Ford is that each needs the other. Brown needs the key to Ford Nation—the collection of malcontents across Toronto who bought into the populist promise of Rob Ford to “end the gravy train at Toronto city hall.” To defeat the Wynne Liberals, Brown has to win seats in Toronto. Brown does not understand Toronto and does not appeal to Toronto voters.

Ford, in turn, has to know by now that he cannot count on Ford Nation alone to carry him. He needs the party support that Brown can give him. These guys need each other. They deserve each other.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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The grandstanding of Patrick Brown.

Thursday, December 8th, 2016

People who prefer to grandstand in politics can be a pain in the ass. There are times when a politician should to take a stand on an issue but that is when you can reason and suggest alternatives to help solve the problem. Our Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition in Ontario does not believe in such niceties. He just goes for the jugular.

And to make matters worse, his latest attack is more of an attack on a former leader of his own party than an attack on the Liberal’s Premier Wynne. John Tory who is now a very popular Mayor of Toronto was Conservative leader in Ontario from 2004 until 2009. It is the mayor’s proposal to charge tolls on the Don Valley Parkway and the Gardiner Expressway that Brown is dissing. Brown is asking the Premier not to agree with Tory’s proposal.

It is examples such as this that Ontario voters should pay attention to before telling pollsters that they would choose Brown over Wynne in the election less than two years from now.

What people have to realize is that for the mayor’s proposal to work, people need alternatives to those city expressways. As it is you might as well refer to those city-owned highways as stall-ways. They are grossly overcrowded from very early in the morning to late at night.

But what alternatives are people proposing to help alleviate the problems? The province and the federal government have been doing their part to offer infrastructure funds to build light rail or subways as well as fund improved transit connections for commuters. It is the constant confusion as to the city’s  direction that has put Toronto so far behind in meeting infrastructure needs.

And now we have Patrick Brown MPP, a small-town boy from Barrie who is sticking his oar into Toronto’s all too muddied waters. He might have stolen the leadership of his political party last year but he failed to buy any more brains or knowledge to go with the job.

Brown’s predecessor Michael Harris might have thought he was fixing things back in the 1990s when he amalgamated the City of Toronto with its burgeoning suburbs but he failed to give the city, now more than four times the size, effective governance. It seems that no Ontario government wants to have a strong and capable government in Toronto.

But if we had Patrick Brown running the province, we would all be in trouble.


Copyright 2016 © Peter Lowry

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Everybody wants the perfect mayor.

Monday, March 18th, 2013

You can spend a lifetime wanting what will never be. Last week there was a story in a Toronto paper about finding the best candidate, saying the city needs a mayor everybody can get behind. That will never happen.

It is important to remember that in the last municipal election in Toronto, Rob Ford was not the frontrunner early in the year. It was not until well into the campaign that his promise to get rid of the gravy train started to resonate. The only problem was that when elected, he found that there was no gravy train. He also found that bombast and a media following do not replace leadership. Ford had nothing for the voters.

As a councillor, Ford used a personal approach that worked with the voters in his ward. He was never re-elected in the ward because of his accomplishments but because of that relationship. The only problem is that as mayor of a city the size of Toronto, that kind of personal approach is impossible.

Even here in Babel with a population of about 135,000, the present mayor could hardly run for re-election with the approach he used so successfully in his first run for mayor. By your second go-around, your failures start to catch up with you. The best hope is for no competition. More politicians have been re-elected by weak competition than by accomplishments.

Toronto is much more complex. And to try to get elected in a city of that size without the open participation of political parties makes the situation close to impossible. Anyone who thinks that party organizations are not involved behind the scenes also believes in fairy tales. If, for example, Olivia Chow was foolish enough to leave federal politics for a run at the Toronto mayoralty, she would have a solid phalanx of New Democrat workers behind her. She would also find out what Liberal George Smitherman learned: Being strong in the centre city and Scarborough does not mean you can win in Etobicoke and North York.

Surprisingly Toronto today has the same problem as Babel. It is just a matter of scale. Both cities are lacking a sense of what they are and what they can be. A city is not just a place to live; it is an extension of you as a citizen. Today, both are insecure. Politics is not trusted. Hope is tenuous. Aspirations lack succour. People feel used. Where is the leadership of a future? What is that future? It all starts where we live.


Copyright 2013 © Peter Lowry

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Location, location, location: builds casinos.

Saturday, February 9th, 2013

It has finally been deduced that the main argument in Toronto over casinos is where they will be located. Some people got it into their minds that the Toronto Convention Centre would be a great location. All that has done is confuse the issue.

It has already been determined that nobody cares what the residents of Toronto feel about the issue. The level of ignorance among the citizenry, their politicians and the news media has made it clear that any discussion of the facts for or against the issues involved is a waste of time. There are just too many people who are neither interested in facts nor willing to allow others their individual rights.

The few politicians actually willing to fairly discuss the pros and cons of the casino issue are lost in the overwhelming rift between the Mayor Ford supporters and the Mayor Ford haters. If you are a Ford supporter, you are expected to favour a casino. If you are a Ford detractor, you are expected to shun casinos, demon rum and the devil in equal parts.

But the biggest problem—mentioned earlier—is the location problem. The people promoting the Toronto Convention Centre location for a casino are crazy like foxes. They could care less about the infrastructure problems involved. So what if the area is hyper congested and unable to support the sheer numbers of people. That is bonus day to these developers. Congestion makes them rich. That is their nirvana. It assures their future.

If you have never stood outside the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas on a Saturday evening to watch that panorama thingy they do in Vegas, you might not understand. There is a magic to the event. And if you do not have your pocket picked and get groped by at least three hookers, you have not fully enjoyed the scene.

But realistically, the better Toronto locations for a casino are at the west end of the Exhibition Grounds, Woodbine Race Track or at the far end of Scarborough. In any of those locations, the land should be owned by the city and the city’s share of the proceeds are easily ensured.

Of course this might require that some of the city politicians grow up and realize that they cannot stand Canute-like against the tides of human nature. The people in Toronto who want to go to a casino will go anyway. Why give the profits to bus companies?


Copyright 2013 © Peter Lowry

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Political hypocrisy is always with us.

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

This is an old story. It was over 30 years ago and the head table group was meeting in a room off the ballroom in the Sheraton Hotel across from Toronto city hall. An Ontario cabinet minister and the writer were enjoying a drink and having an interesting discussion about when we expected to have casinos in Ontario. At the time, we were just starting to have ‘charity casinos’ in the province and there was concern about where these events were headed.

We were joined by a young politician from North York who had already cut a swath for himself in municipal politics and was soon to be named Metropolitan Toronto chairman. “You are discussing one of my favourite topics,” he told us. “In fact, I just got back from a weekend junket to Las Vegas.”

“Well Paul,” I said to him, “We’re discussing having casinos in Toronto so that you do not have to go so far. How do you feel about having casinos here?”

Today, Paul Godfrey is chair of Ontario Lottery and Gaming and he might not be amused to be reminded of what he said as a politician, so long ago. Suffice to say, he rejected the idea of having casinos in Toronto. It was political hypocrisy at its finest! (Political hypocrisy is when you put down the voters as needing protection when what they really need is protection from this type of politician.)

But he is hardly alone in that. Toronto city hall has politicians today calling for a vote on whether to allow casinos. Where do they get off telling Torontonians if they can go to a casino? Where do they get off, telling us we do not want the jobs, the attraction for tourism and the opportunity to have a world-class casino?

While they are at it, maybe they should also have a vote on which churches we should go to, whether convenience stores should sell beer or if they should ban lotteries. There is no end to opportunities for the bigots and hypocrites among us to make sure people do not do anything they dislike—or are just being hypocrites about.

It seems the Ford brothers in Toronto might just be the rare exception as politicians. They might have some really strange ideas for Toronto transit and to be very bad at voter relations but you know that, with them, what you see is what you get—all 550 pounds (250 kilos) of them!


Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry

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The obduracy of the right.

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

The first inclination was to refer to the pig-headedness of the right wing in our North American society.  Since ‘obduracy’ means the same, we can sound a bit more refined.  What it does not preclude is the opportunity to rail against the ham-fisted idiocy of those people on the right-wing of politics whose destructive obduracy causes so much trouble in our society.

We can see the obduracy at all levels of government.  We can see it in Canada and in the U.S.A.  It starts at the municipal level.

The Ford brothers in Toronto are an excellent example of the ignorance on which obduracy can be based.  The Toronto Mayor and his lieutenant brother think they can casually close libraries and daycare facilities while laying off police to meet their imagined tax savings.  They offered a frustrated electorate a chance to end the gravy train and now they learn that they are the gravy train.

It is a lesson that Ontario Conservative leader Tim Hudak has yet to learn.  It is an ignorant elector that will go along with the bad economics of Hudak’s foolish promises.  The problem is there are lots of ignorant people who vote.  People believe what they want to believe and logic does not trump emotion.  Hudak can only be defeated by a stronger emotional appeal.

And what can you really say about Prime Minister Stephen Harper.  The anger, chagrin and frustration with him will build to a crescendo over the next four years.  We have barely scratched the surface of his government’s right-wing paranoia.

The American right-wing adherents are also hardly wallflowers.  The Tea Party supporters in Congress have tied that government in knots fighting for their economic plans.  The fact that most of their plans cannot work does not seem to bother them.

But the truth in all of this right and left fighting is that nobody has all the answers.  The voters have the power to end the nonsense by forcing politicians to sit down with each other to discuss the issues.  Cooperation makes for poor media headlines but it certainly makes for better government.


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#84 – If pigs could fly and other political fantasies.

Friday, September 24th, 2010

Heavens and goodness gracious, Rob Ford could be elected mayor of Toronto.  So what?  The truth be known, voters usually get what they deserve.  Obviously, Toronto voters must have done something very wrong to deserve Rob Ford.

But they could do worse and often have.  When Mel Lastman was mayor, for example, many who knew him were prepared to leave the city.  Thinking back over the years, Toronto has had some very good mayors and some very bad ones.  The only problem is that some people have problems separating them into their respective piles.

The problem with mayors is that they are human and have to pose as superman or someone else they are not for the voters.  They are given just one vote on their council, the same as the councillors.  They get paid more and they are expected to work harder but their authority does not go much beyond a few perks of office.  The role of chief magistrate is just not all that easy a ride.

A mayor who antagonizes the other members of council or runs roughshod over what the other councillors see as right for their voters or fails to cooperate with them, will have little cooperation in return.  The only solution for a fractious and unruly council is that it will find it hard to get re-elected at the next opportunity for the voters to have their say.

Rob Ford might surprise people if he gets elected and realizes that getting what he wants for himself and the voters requires some skilful horse trading with the other members of council.  He obviously already knows that and all he is doing at the moment is posturing for the voters’ attention.

The problem is that the race for the mayoralty is theatre of the absurd and we are all actors in it.  We choose our candidates for many of the wrong reasons, vote from whim and spite, and often deny our choice once we have made it.  Logic has little to do with our decisions, emotions and prejudices are excused as reasoned and we have far too little information to really make a thoughtful decision.

What is most frustrating to the voter and the candidates is the news media.  These people want to pontificate, not clarify.  They want to appear smart in their assessment and are abusive of human rights in the guise of neutrality.  They have neither the depth nor the knowledge nor the information with which to assist the voter.  They do not care.  They want copy, they want to scintillate.  They care not for the facts unless they support titillation.  Their editors will discard truth for a better story.

But the most blame belongs to us as voters.  Toronto deserves Rob Ford.  Long may he reign.  And may pigs fly.

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