Archive for category NDP

New Poll Suggests Ontario Is Heading For A Change Of Government

A new poll conducted by Ipsos found that 76% of Ontarians want a new party in the Ontario Legislature in 2018.  The Ontario Liberals have long ignored calls from people across the province and from members of their own party that current leader and premier Kathleen Wynne needs to be ousted and people want change.  Are the Liberals now poised to recreate the mistakes of the Democrats south of the border with Hillary Clinton in ignoring calls for a change election?

Last week TVO’s Agenda aired a one on one interview with Wynne.  Steve Paikin didn’t mince words, and put Wynne on the hot seat from everything from Hydro, to Green Energy, to her unpopularity across the province, and calls for her to step down.  Wynne’s responses seemed rather tone deaf to a lot of the concerns of most people in Ontario, and she didn’t seem rather confident in her prospects post 2018.

Wynne over the past few months has been focusing the party more towards the left.  She has been trying to move people over from the NDP over to the Liberals in policies such as free tuition, and a $15/hour minimum wage hike, however that may be of more benefit to the NDP come election time as Wynne’s personal popularity has plumbed and people are looking for change.

Ipsos currently puts the PC’s upfront at 39%, Liberals at 32%, and the NDP at 22%.  The PC’s out of all the major parties have risen quite a bit of money for 2018.  The big problem is with its leadership.  No one truly knows what Patrick Brown stands for on policy other than opposing Wynne on everything she does.  He often takes up popular movements, only after the popular movement has died down. He’s not a family man, and no kids.  The party has also been plagued with infighting in nomination races, with accusations of corruption and ballot stuffing. We’ve been following Brown on a number of policy fronts over the past year, and we think that the more people get to know him, the more people will discover that Brown’s PCs will be too much of a risk to take since by all accounts the party and the leadership looks unstable under his rein.

The biggest beneficiary to a change election could be the Ontario NDP.  The only people that have their arms up over Wynne’s leftist moves in policy are the traditional PC hardcore base.  Liberal and NDP voters are likely to vote NDP next election due to this being a change election.  It would be a very hard sell to see Liberal voters voting for Brown in next election. The move to the left by Wynne in policy will likely gravitate Liberal voters who are upset with Wynne over to the NDP.

Another big factor is an aging demographic, and health care.  Boomers who have been supporters of the PC’s in the past do remember the Harris cuts to health care.  With the PC’s vaguely calling for a value for money audit on all government ministries, this screams of cuts to services.  Who determines the value for each ministry, and how will that be decided is quite a mystery at present.  Millennials are now the main demographic in Ontario and are more than likely to vote on the left.  A low voter turn out usually benefits conservatives, which is unlikely in a change election.

Traditionally when Liberals are in power federally, Ontario goes PC.  The problem is that tradition in politics globally and also across the country is no longer exists.  Free tuition, and drug plans are to be a big hit with the Millennials in which both the NDP and Liberals have adopted in policy.  With Ipsos polling NDP Leader Andrea Horwath as the most supported for premier in 2018 at 42%, one can probably expect Ontario will be Orange in June of 2018.

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Ontario Minimum Wage Increase A Good Idea

(Businesses Across Ontario Are Being Too Penny Wise With The Proposed Wage Increase)

Scary clowns are a big hit these days at the box office, and while the people of Ontario get acquainted with a clown called Pennywise from the latest version of Stephen Kings IT, the Financial Accountability Office of Ontario [FAO] is warning tax payers and job seekers of another scary metamorph; a proposed minimum wage hike of $15/hour.  This increase is set to be fully implemented by 2019 and came under fire yesterday in a report from the FAO.  The FAO stated that it will cost the Ontario economy 50,000 jobs if it goes ahead with this wage hike.

It’s not a surprise that businesses – whom over the past several years have enjoyed a tremendous amount of federal tax breaks – are lining up to oppose this policy and demonizing it as being economically unsound.  Ontario Progressive Conservatives leader Patrick Brown had something to say about it as well, however he brushed off the wage increase a distraction in a bizarre rant on twitter, and Brown isn’t clear on his stance on the policy at all and what he would do differently if he became Premier:

“Wynne is putting potentially 1000s of jobs at risk so she can try and distract from the fact she takes the stand at trial tomorrow #onpoli pic.twitter.com/IUVuQC1VIE

— Patrick Brown (@brownbarrie) September 12, 2017

Brown seems very comfortable in the opposition benches. Offside of the very off tone Ontario PC response, there seems to be a lot of red balloons around the economic storm drains on this policy and it isn’t even Halloween yet.

Since the market crash of 2008, we’ve been shifting from traditional conservative economic ideology (which failed miserably) towards one of managing the economy on several different levels in a bi-partisan way.  Corporate tax cuts have not produced substantial jobs in Canada, in fact the opposite has happened. A study by the Canadian Centre of Policy Alternatives in 2011 found the biggest employers were sitting on the money they saved from these cuts:

“From 2005 to 2010, the number of employed Canadians rose 6% while the number of jobs created by the companies in the study grew by only 5%. In essence, the largest beneficiaries of corporate tax cuts are dragging down Canadian employment growth.”

In 2013, federal conservatives were warned by then Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney that Canadian companies were sitting on vast sums of cash they have saved through tax cuts, and bail outs rather than creating jobs to bolster the economy.  As I remember it Carney stated this several times throughout his time at the Bank of Canada. While company CEO bonuses grew, so did the economic divide in Canada and in Ontario as well as a result of businesses not investing what they should in the local, regional, and federal economies.  The economy has changed post 2008 not just in Canada but globally, and managing this economy has changed as well.

If the cost of living is high throughout the country and the province, than a minimum wage increase to ensure people have the means to survive should be something we all should be embracing patriotically.  Businesses will adjust.  Yes there may be some job losses (in my opinion way less the FAO has reported will happen) in the short term by companies who are not willing to spend profit margins on their employees, however just as those jobs are lost, they will be offset by more spending power by the general worker.  As the minimum wage increases, so should increases to everyone’s wage as the economy grows as a result of more spending power.  At least that would be the working economic theory on this policy. The wage increase is cycled through the economy.  Employees who make more, become more productive and contribute more to the economy on whole.  With many people in Ontario living paycheque to paycheque, and the fact that over the past several years businesses have sat on cash from tax cuts, they can suck it up and do their part.

The Ontario NDP has been calling for this wage hike for some time.   This ideology was also adapted by conservatives who bailed out auto sectors, and bailed out the economy through “stimulus” after the disastrous effects of traditional conservative ideology of deregulation and corporate tax cuts took hold in 2008.  Change is difficult, but necessary post 2008 economics. Greed is no longer good economics, nor is it socially acceptable post 2008.

JK

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Annoyed Ontario Liberals and Wynne’s Autism Echo Chamber:

This blog will be dedicated moving forward to following the conversations and policy discussions about Ontario’s new autism policy.  The discussions going on right now are a national ethical and moral issue and those across Canada should be kept up to date as much as possible.  On Tuesday there was a very emotional rally at our provincial legislature Ontario Queens Park by parents of autistic kids:

http://globalnews.ca/video/embed/2634473/
Two really good shows Wednesday on CFRB 1010 in Toronto discussing the protest and policy.  The first commentary on the autism story gripping Ontario comes from the Beyond The Mic show hosted by Mike Bullard.  Comments start at 4:45:

The second one was is from CFRB’s Live Drive show.  Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne was on the show for a one on one follow up interview and she is digging in her heals on the new Autism policy.  My comments were aired at 18:41 with an excellent discussion on them after by the hosts:

 

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Kathleen Wynne’s All Out Assault on Autistic Kids Continues With New Developments

Kathleen Wynne

(Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Decisions on Autism Services Politics Not Evidence Based Experts Say)

There has been very strong reaction to Kathleen Wynne’s decision to de-fund therapy for kids with Autism, from experts to advocates to politicians. Wynne looks to have picked a fight with the wrong crowd, and there are developments that the situation is getting even worse for the families affected.

In the 2014 budget, the first thing the Wynne government did after being re-elected was to increase funding for respite support for parents under a program called Special Services At Home (SSAH) to help give parents who have kids with a disability a break, or to hire private in home support when needed.  Service providers were sent a memo last year by the Ministry of Youth and Child Services letting them know that clients should be applying for this money, and those that are already receiving should apply for an increase if their situation has changed.

The new money for SSAH should have kicked in starting this month and instead I’ve heard from several parents who are new applicants and qualify for this support money still waiting for approval or being actively denied. So far all those who have applied for an increase have not received a dime more than they usually get with no reason as to why they were denied the increase.

It’s looking very much like Wynne did a bait and switch during the last election by promising to fix the issues with a system in crisis to get votes, than back track on those promises and put a system that’s already in crisis to the point of near collapse.

Three experts appeared on CFRB 1010’s Nightside Talk Show last night to denounce Wynne’s recent decision to cut funding for IBI therapy for kids over 5 calling the move not based on scientific expert opinion.  A clip of the show can be found here:

Autism cuts and Talk 1010 radio the Night Side

Political reaction at Queens Park is being led by the NDP:

This blog will be following developments as they occur.

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Arab Countries Need To Be Doing More On Syrian Refugees

Flag_of_the_Arab_League.svg

(Arab League Flag)

Like many Canadians I had a very heart felt response to the picture of the three year old who laid face down dead after trying to cross the Mediterranean for the EU escaping the Syrian civil war. What I found more disturbing was Immigration Minister Chris Alexander’s cold response to the story on CBC, and subsequent inaction of the Conservative government for days on the issue.

The cold response coming from the Conservatives is something that also is very prevalent in some of the richest Arab nations in the world. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates’, Qatar, and Egypt have all received absolutely zero of the Syrian refugees. The only Arab nation to accept these refugees is Syria’s neighbor Lebanon.

Opposition parties here in Canada have been quick to blame the Conservative government for their cold response (and rightfully so), however no one from the Liberals, NDP or Greens are speaking about the inaction of the Arab nations we call allies on this crisis. There needs to be immense diplomatic pressure on the Arab nations to do their part if Canada gets involved in accepting refugees.

Why are the Arab nations not accepting refugees? Short answer is that they think it’s a problem with Western influence in the region, and we caused it.  ISIS was born out of the US lead Iraq war and subsequent election of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki who was a Shia Muslim. Shias were oppressed by Saddam Hussein. Once al-Maliki came into power, he started to target Hussein’s supporters. Rather than including them in the democratic process, many were thrown in jail and even executed out of vengeance. Historically what happens when a political group is excluded from the democratic process and oppressed? Often times it’s a revolution and/or civil war.

The Arab spring is a prime example of the 20 somethings in the Arab world rising against oppressive power. The Arab spring started in Yemen, spread to Egypt and then to Syria. ISIS and many terror related groups took the opportunity the Arab spring provided to recruit to their extreme ideologies, and has now become a threat to our Arab allies.

Every time we seem to get involved in Middle-Eastern politics, we seem to make a mess of it in large part because the politics in the Middle-East works much differently than here in Canada or the US. It’s based on different interpretations of religion. We should be playing a more supportive role in the region with our Arab allies in regards to these refugees than accepting large amounts of them here in Canada.

Almost all security experts that have been interviewed by media agree that security concerns regarding these refugee’s is a minimal concern, due to screening processes that are in place. Why can’t we work with other Arab nations on the security screening issues for these refugees so that they can be accepted by Arab nations?

Offloading tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of refugees in Canada may be the desired emotional response to the crisis, however where are all these families going to live? Social housing in Canada is falling apart. Federal funding for social housing has been completely cut off by the Conservatives. It’ll take years to repair, let alone create the amount of spaces needed to house these individuals.  Jobs? Many coming over here from Syria I would suspect would be in the youth range and young families. Right now we have a youth unemployment crisis in Canada, which again will take years to solve. Then there’s also the culture shock especially for children who would be attending our public school system. We’re going to need social programs here to integrate these refugee’s into our society.

I’m in no way suggesting that Canada shouldn’t do anything, just that we stop and think past the emotional response we all have. We’re in an election right now, and serious questions need to be posed to our leaders regarding the logistics of all of this, when our Arab allies in the region are refusing to help, and turning their backs on their own people. Western nations shouldn’t be shouldering this responsibility alone. Why are we, and is accepting tens of thousands of refugees helpful to the spread of democracy in the Middle East?

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The US May Have Trump; But Canada Has An Alien

Let’s put it this way; we could have used the swagger and unexpectedness Donald Trump presented in last nights US Republican debates in the Canadian leaders debate.  Instead, the first hour the Canadian debate consisted of Conservative leader Stephen Harper doing what he does best which is misleading Canadians on facts.  Green Party leader Elizabeth May catching Harper on misleading facts (which is why she needs to be in every debate).  Liberal leader Justin Trudeau attacking the NDP leader Tom Mulcair over a non-issue regarding Quebec separatism because he’s lost a tremendous amount of support to Mulcair over the anti-terror bill.  Finally Mulcair looked like he was part of some alien race freaking people out on social media with his weird smile, and alien like black eyes peering into their living rooms when he looked directly into the camera when debating the other leaders.

mulcair1mulcair2

The two that had the best body language in the debate were the two national debate veterans, May and Harper.  Trudeau came across as a kid with something to prove (Liberals think his downfall is due to Harper’s attack ads, not his position on supporting the new anti-terror bill.  Liberals are still tone deaf on that because they have nothing to fear but fear itself), and Mulcair just looked nervous for the first hour.  On the other hand May seemed very well prepared, however didn’t do well in the first hour to inject her voice over the others.  Harper was calm and cool to begin with, however came across as though he got annoyed at the fact he actually had to debate the other parties and defend his record.

Those of us who follow Canadian politics closely saw relatively nothing new regarding policy positions.  Harper played the expected “steady as you go” position on the economy warning that the opposition parties would raise taxes and put the country in a horrible economic  position.  Mulcair and May made a good point that corporate taxes have remained low, and the Bank of Canada has been extremely worried in the past that these corporations are just sitting on the money they saved from tax breaks rather than creating jobs.

The environment debate which happened in the second hour, May just owned it and the other parties let her have the floor.  May called Harper to account on his environmental commitments, getting Harper to admit that emission reduction targets will not be reached by 2020, but by 2030.  May also questioned Mulcair on his support of pipelines, which Mulcair remained non-committal on, and May kept pressing him on.

On the new anti-terror bill, there are stark differences between the parties.  Harper said it was necessary;  Trudeau is for and against the bill; Mulcair starkly pledged to Canadians he would repeal the bill (looking directly into the camera with his alien like black eyes) and if new powers were needed, Mulcair consult the experts first.  Essentially Mulcair wants proof these new powers would be needed, and how to implement them in a way that doesn’t impede the rights of Canadians.  Trudeau actually did admit that he may have been naive in his support of the anti-terror bill, but continues to support it.

I think the major news from this debate that Canadians need to be aware of, is not what happened during the debates but after.  May, Trudeau and Mulcair all took questions from the press after the debate.  Harper didn’t take any questions nor did he appear before the press after which I found very bizarre and arrogant.  We’re in an election Harper.  Deal with it!

All in all, I think it was a good introduction to the party leaders to those who do not follow politics closely.  I don’t think this first debate will have that much of an impact on voters.  If your a conservative supporter, you’re likely to remain that way and same with the other party’s supporters.  Mulcair needs to bring his style of debating that he has during question period to future debates.  That’s where he shines, and Trudeau needs to stop bouncing around like a boxer and listen to Canadians more as to why he’s so low in the polls:

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Election Called, Media in Crisis, International Observers Called In

Yesterday Prime Minister Harper dropped the election writ, and Canada is now in it’s 42nd election since confederation.  There has been much speculation around the timing of the writ dropping.  This election will be one of the longest and most costliest elections in modern times, which could cost Canadian tax payers close to $1 billion+ when all is said and done at a time of economic instability, and recession.

The majority of those costs (an est. $500 million) will be dished out to Elections Canada to handle the longer election cycle for staff, offices, and supplies.  The rest will be the tax payers shouldering costs to political parties.  50% – 75% of the expenses political parties incur during this election will be reimbursed by the tax payer.  With the longer campaign parties can spend a lot more money on advertising.  When Harper was questioned on the expenses to Canadian tax payers, he replied that there will be no cost to tax payers as a result of the length of the election period.  What?

The political influence in media is becoming a very interesting side story to the debates.  I’ve posted extensively on this here, here and here.  Over this past week the NDP dropped out of the consortium debates, and issued a list of demands for future debates. The NDP demands (emphasis added) are:

  • The host organization is credible and non partisan
  • The proposed topics to be discussed are varied and relevant to a large number of Canadians; and
  • The Prime Minister and other political party leaders are invited and have agreed to participate
  • The NDP will participate in an equal number of French and English language debates

This is an interesting update.  While many in the media focused on the NDP decision not to attend the consortium debates was explicitly due to Harper’s refusal to attend; from the above demands it looks like NDP want to debate ALL parties leaders including Steven Harper.  It also looks as though the NDP are having issues with the Consortium being bias towards the Liberal party, to which I’ve discussed in great detail in other blogs.

That bias was very visible especially with the CBC coverage of the election call which pointed to Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau being the most “ready” for the election, while Trudeau seemed extremely uptight, reading from cue cards, and late to his speech.  NDP leader Thomas Mulcair looked a bit rattled as well during his speech reading from a teleprompter and not answering any questions.  The leader that looked more ready out of the bunch to me was Green Party leader Elizabeth May.  May seemed rather relaxed, ready to go, and the only leader out of the opposition parties not reading from cue cards, or teleprompters.  I’m very curious as to why CBC pointed towards Trudeau as being the most ready out of the bunch, when that’s not clearly the case.

While the NDP hasn’t come out fully accusing the consortium of bias, the political messaging around their demands looks to be quite clear.  The Consortium debates are essentially dead now and other debates may fall by-the-way-side as well. From the looks of the last line of the NDP demands that might actually happen.  So far there has been only one French language debate confirmed.  That means right now the NDP will only commit to one English language debate, to which the first of those debates is scheduled for Thursday August 6th, and all political parties will be attending that debate.

On top of the media consortium having a crisis of ethics, we now have confirmation that the Organization for Security and Economic Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) will be monitoring our federal election. The OSCE is an international body that specializes in monitoring elections, and their presence in this election is to ensure that the election laws recently passed by the Conservatives allow for a free and fair election, and to ensure that these laws are consistent in ensuring democracy can take place.  The OSCE will release it’s final report to the Canadian public eight weeks after the election.

The Fair Elections Act which was passed by the Conservatives will not allow Canadians living abroad to vote in the next election.  Actor Donald Sutherland recently posted an op-ed in the Globe and Mail in which he blasted the Conservatives in taking away his right to vote.  Sutherland stated:

It’s very sad. And this new “Canada,” this Canadian government that has taken the true Canada’s place, has furiously promoted a law that denies its citizens around the world the right to vote. Why? Is it because they’re afraid we’ll vote to return to a government that will once again represent the values that the rest of the world looked up to us for? Maybe.

There was also a court challenge on the fair elections act.  The courts decided not to strike down the law so close to an election, stating that it might appear the courts would be influencing the vote if they did.  The courts determined that the issues with the fair elections act were extremely serious, and likely to be dealt with after the election.  This means that if there are any court challenges on the election (look to that also coming from Canadians living abroad), this will be one of the most costliest elections in Canadian history to Canadian tax payers.

While the Conservatives shoulder a lot of the blame for this, the media shoulders the other half.  If in fact we have media being influenced by any political party and not fully educating Canadians on the facts due to political influences and favors, than we’ve already lost our democracy, and I think that will play out with the OSCE report and substantive court challenges that are sure to follow as a result.

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