Monthly Archives: September 2007
As someone who takes language very seriously, I thought I should defend my use of the term nefarious to describe this Liberal government. This government was not only largely ineffectual. Worse, it was recklessly arrogant, unscrupulous, dishonest, and at times utterly reprehensible. This government was elected to bring in sweeping change. It was given, under the current electoral system, what amounted to absolute power at Queen’s Park and it was accompanied, for the most part, by a very buoyant and robust economy. Moreover, the overwhelming majority with which this government was entrusted only led to the most acrimonious and inhospitable parliament I’ve witnessed. Queen’s Park was permeated with a sense of entitlement and arrogance that only absolute power can create. Question period has become a complete circus (those who argue against MMP because it would undermine the consensus that happens under First Past the Post should recognize that currently we have the most divisive and pettily partisan legislatures imaginable).
Mr. Urquhart: Liberals are NOT nice, they are nefarious, btw where are the blogging dippers during this campaign?
When partisan hacks like Cherniak or washed up smear apologists like Kinsella scurrilously demean what it means to think and to write (or even to treat others with dignity), I tend not to worry. I may react, but I don’t necessarily worry because I know that, for now at least, the dissemination of information is still largely in the hands of “professionals”. Now I’m under no delusions that journalists are objective and unbiased reporters of “the truth”, but being professionals, they are at least to some extent accountable.
The problem for McGuinty is that he is uncomfortable “going negative” himself.
Sorry, Mr. Urquhart, McGuinty and his henchmen have no problems going negative and you above most people should know that. After all, you covered the Parkdale High Park by-election. When an entire provincial government maliciously gangs up on a United Church minister, whose biggest mistake is that she wants to serve her community under the wrong political banner, that’s not a reluctance to going negative. And need I say, negative in the extreme.
By-election gets down and dirty
Sep. 13, 2006. 01:00 AM
On the surface, it would appear that the New Democrats are well positioned to win tomorrow’s provincial by-election in the west-end Toronto riding of Parkdale-High Park, formerly occupied by Gerard Kennedy.
It is, after all, a riding that has gone to the NDP before — in 1990 provincially and as recently as this year federally, with the election of Peggy Nash.
And it is a by-election, which New Democrats are very good at winning. By-elections allow them to concentrate their formidable organizing resources and to invite the electorate to lodge a cost-free protest vote.
NDP canvassers in Parkdale-High Park are coached to remind voters at the doorstep that their ballots “will not defeat the government.”
Nevertheless, the Liberals want desperately to hold onto the riding, apparently at any cost.
Kennedy won Parkdale-High Park in 2003 by a whopping 42 percentage points — the sixth widest margin in the province — before quitting as education minister earlier this year to run for the federal Liberal leadership.
To replace Kennedy, the Liberals are running Sylvia Watson, a humourless one-term city councillor and former city bureaucrat. Suffice it to say that she ain’t no Gerard Kennedy.
So she is getting help, plenty of it. This week, Premier Dalton McGuinty made his fourth campaign appearance in the riding — an unusual number of visits by a premier in a by-election.
As well, 11 cabinet ministers were dragooned into the campaign this week for an event in a Bloor St. W. café and subsequent canvassing.
“I’m very confident we’re going to win this by-election,” said an unconvincing Finance Minister Greg Sorbara.
Yesterday, Kennedy himself and former New Democratic premier Bob Rae (who lives in the riding) took time out from fighting each other in the federal Liberal leadership race to campaign for her.
It is not these high-profile interventions that are raising eyebrows at Queen’s Park, however. Rather, it is the smear campaign being waged against the NDP candidate, Cheri DiNovo, a 56-year-old United Church minister.
At first, the smears — including references to her youthful indiscretions and carefully edited excerpts from her sermons — appeared only in blogs and anonymous flyers. That made it easy for the Watson campaign to deny any connection to them.
But this week the Watson campaign handed out a press release, on Liberal party letterhead, that dredged up a year-old sermon in which DiNovo allegedly said that the media treatment of child-killer Karla Homolka was “comparable to the persecution of Jesus Christ.”
DiNovo said the remark was taken entirely out of context by the Liberals and suggested she might sue them over it.
But the press release almost immediately backfired by putting the Liberals, not the New Democrats, on the defensive.
At an all-candidates’ meeting Monday night, even the Conservative candidate, former city councillor David Hutcheon, castigated the Liberals for trying to “assassinate the character” of their NDP opponent.
“This is not fair,” Hutcheon told the 100-plus in attendance. “It is not the Canadian way … They (the Liberals) have lost their moral compass.”
(An aside: Although the Conservatives ran second in the 2003 provincial election, party insiders admit that they are long shots to win tomorrow. It would be a nice consolation prize for the Conservatives, however, if DiNovo were to knock off the Liberals.)
The negative reaction clearly threw McGuinty for a loop. Pestered by the press on the smearing of DiNovo, the best response he could muster was: “Look, it’s a tough by-election for us.”
As for Watson, the candidate, she tried to distance herself from the smear. “It wasn’t my idea,” she told me, while declining to say whose it was.
The opposition parties are pointing their fingers at Warren Kinsella, the lobbyist who ran the Liberal war room in the last provincial election.
As evidence, they noted that his blog yesterday included an attack on DiNovo (whom he referred to as “DiNutso”) and a link to Waton’s web site.
But Kinsella denied any involvement in the Watson campaign. “I’ve never met or even spoken to her (Watson),” he said in an e-mail response.
Of his shot at DiNovo, Kinsella said: “I’m entitled to an opinion about her candidacy.” As for the link to the Watson web site, he explained it as an automatic function of a Google advertising program to which he subscribes.
I’m predicting that we haven’t heard the last of this.
What some of the media suggested going into last weekend (that Howard Hampton and John Tory were the winners after the first week of campaigning) must have also shown up on the Liberals’ own polling numbers. How else to explain Ian Urquhart’s column today in the Toronto Star? While Mr. Urquhart has no obligation to be NDP friendly, and while I usually find him one of the more balanced and sober writers at The Star, this piece will be used to deflect valid criticism of the Liberal record on taxation. Is it really a reality check that Liberals imposed a levy rather than a tax? Is it really a reality check that depending on how one calculates things the Liberals may not have imposed the largest tax hikes in Ontario history?A 24% tax hike regressively applied on average income earning Ontarians still ranks up there.
Ontario Liberals’ record on poverty has been appalling. Period. Made worse still by their attempts to deceive the public that they have made any significant progress in this area. Most recently, McGuinty has defended his record on child poverty as “real” progress. Bullshit! A Conservative with a poverty agenda is contradictory. A Liberal with a poverty agenda is pure artifice and ruse.
Of all the back pedaling and broken promises of this government, McGuinty’s refusal to end the clawback of the national child supplement is among the most egregious. In 2003, McGuinty ran on ending what he argued was a wrong and unjust clawback. Yet, when he became Premier, he refused to stop taking away $1500 per year away from the poorest children in the province. For four years, the Ontario Liberals have continued to rob the poorest children in this province of $1500 earmarked for them. And we know child poverty is only getting worse.
In this year’s budget McGuinty announced with great fanfare that his government was finally phasing out the clawback and phasing in a child benefit over five years. The child benefit for this year was a paltry $250, and if I recall, one of the remarks around Queen’s Park was that the announced child benefit was less than the cost of the shoes worn by Greg Sorbara when he made the announcement. Regrettably, the clawback has not ended and we’ll have to re-elect this government if we want to see it eventually phased out in the next few years. I’m sorry, this is not a record on which to stand. McGuinty ran in 2003 to end the clawback, and he might as well be running on it again because shamefully he’s yet to end clawing back money set aside for needy families.
Will the poor record of the McGuinty Liberals stick to this government? Or will Ontarians instead reward this government with re-election, and in the process lower what is expected of political mandates even further? Brian Evans, professor at Liberal friendly Ryerson University (you know the institution helping Gerard Kennedy pay back his debts from his run at leadership by appointing a person without even a B.A. to the position of Distinguished Visiting Professor) defends the prospect of re-electing Dalton McGuinty as premier this way: “At the end of the day, people would say this has not been a horribly bad government.”
One of the more nefarious aspects of the McGuinty Liberal government is its unabashed arrogance and sense of entitlement. This has been manifest, for instance, in this government’s refusal to being held accountable for the numerous scandals, backpedalling, broken promises, improprieties etc. in which it has found itself. One does wonder about what this government managed to successfully keep under wraps.
Now that the Ontario Liberals have spent untold public dollars on redesigning the Ontario trillium logo on letterhead, stationery, vehicle decals, ministry signs etc, they can turn their attention to another logo.
Dalton, this is not governing
By Rob GranatsteinWho do the Ontario Liberals think they’re fooling?
Everywhere you look, there’s the smiling puss of Premier Dalton McGuinty — or is it just dalton.ca — in full election mode.
He’s rolling out a $12-billion transit plan. He’s planting $79 million worth of trees for a greener Ontario. He’s tossing $182 million into the education system. He’s hiring an additional 200 police officers. He’s equipping the OPP with a new plane. He’s throwing $700 million at seniors. He’s bowling $1 million into the kitty for cricket.
Oops, strike that last one from the record.
Still, any way you look at it, McGuinty and the Liberals are into their finest hour of governing. That hour where they get to spend money like water, buying votes, tossing dreams and ideas around like pixie dust.
Where’s yours? Oh, it’s coming. The Liberals have a big surplus and they’re not afraid to spend it. The Tories peg this pre-election spending spree at $26 billion.
But enough with the charade. This is not governing, Dalton. Stop making like it is.
Proclaiming that these mega-bucks have gone through the Treasury Board and have been approved by cabinet just adds to the farce. We don’t recall seeing any of these gifts wrapped into the last budget.
Let’s call it what it is — electioneering.
Why? Look at the so-called uploading of costs from the cities, announced recently. There’s about $200 million for 2008. McGuinty announced it at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario meeting this past month, calling it government policy, and not a campaign promise.
Unless, of course, the Liberals don’t get re-elected.
In the past there’s been a little cloud cover over this tactic. With a fixed election date, the spending is nothing but a crystal clear vote buy.
But wait, there’s more. Go to any Ontario ministry’s website and you’ll see Dalton’s smiling face, with the tagline “Getting results.” Aren’t ministries supposed to be non-partisan?
The only shock is clicking on McGuinty’s mug doesn’t throw you directly to the Liberal campaign site, or the aforementioned dalton.ca.
The Ontario ministry of health has dapper Dalton next to headlines about reducing wait times, getting better access to doctors and nurses, and how the governing party is keeping Ontarians healthy.
Funny, no mention of how we’re paying more with the Health Premium — the broken promise tax. We say “so called” because it sure doesn’t seem like we’re waiting less for care. In fact, Ontario’s auditor called the wait times claims by the government “a bit misleading.”
That wording has quite a ring to it.
Well, we’re ready for the governing to end. We are ready for the real campaign to begin. For the Liberals to promise — like the party did with such gusto in the last election — rather than govern. With one week until the writ drops, it’s time for Dalton to put the power stick away.
Or it’s time for Ontarians to stick it to him.