Archive for category Op-Ed
(Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath Could Be the Strongest Leader In Contention For 2018)
With the next provincial election coming into view in Ontario, have the Liberals made a fatal mistake on keeping Kathleen Wynne at the helm? Recent polls put Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Patrick Brown up front, however many don’t know what he stands for besides opposing the current government, and the PC’s base in Ontario are widely viewed as far right Donald Trump supporters, rather than progressives. Could Ontario see a collapse of the right in 2018, and the NDP climb to power under a protest vote against, both the PC’s and Liberals?
The NDP in Ontario under Andrea Horwath have been pretty upfront over the past few years, including putting out some of their platform for the Ontario 2018 election which includes a universal pharmacare plan in Ontario. The major voting demographic in Ontario are the millennials, which far surpass the aging boomer population and are more left leaning in their voting tendencies. Over the past few months the Wynne Liberals have been trying to occupy some of the NDP’s platforms by instituting pharma and dental care for kids in Ontario. They’ve also instituted free tuition for lower income students, and piloted a guaranteed basic income project, all of which come from the left side of the political spectrum to try and win over those votes.
Wynne is banking on a few things to secure her win in 2018. The fact Brown is not a strong leader, and she’ll bring up memories of the health care cuts under Harris, which will be an attempt to move the aging boomer vote towards the Liberals. Brown also has had to deal with issues over infighting for local nominations for the party, and has been tone deaf on a lot of the issues the people of Ontario are faced with until they end up in the media. He often jumps on popular movements far too late, and takes credit for sticking it to the Wynne Liberals. We saw this during the autism movement where Brown in question period for three weeks during the parent’s protests, not once brought up any support for that movement. He recently claimed victory for parents stating that he fought for extra money from the province for autistic kids and won. Over the past year, things have got worse not better for these kids, and we haven’t seen any new money flow from Wynne, instead we’ve seen cuts to support, funding for special needs education cut, and wait lists that have grown substantially from what seemingly looks like a “net zero” approach to pay off 2,100 families waiting for services in June of last year.
Wynne is also banking on making an argument that Ontario can’t afford Horwath, and bring back big bad memories of former premier Bob Rae, which is an argument that is pretty much mute since Wynne is trying to occupy the NDP platform, and to many millennials Rae is a Liberal. Horwath is nicknamed the “Hamilton Scrapper”. Over the past few elections Horwath has had to deal with the ghost of Rae, which has overshadowed a lot of her strengths. Horwath when she sat on Hamilton City Council was a super star in her riding. She fought vigorously for the people and businesses she represented, and got things done. Not just done, but done correctly and fast. If Horwath can shake the ghosts of leaders past, and come out swinging, she’ll be the only leader that will look strong from the three traditional parties on that stage come 2018.
Brown for his part will not just have an image problem because he is tone deaf, but will have a very hard time shaking off Trump when the failure of that movement could come to a head in the US during our provincial election. With a lot of Canadians paying attention to how Russia was involved in developing fake news, and directing fake social media accounts to push the alt-right into the White House, it’s going to be very difficult for Brown to run an effective social media campaign.
For Wynne, this is a change election heading into 2018. With the Liberals in power now for over 14 years, and the people of Ontario reminded almost weekly about mismanagement, its going to be a very uphill battle to sell that change isn’t needed and Ontario needs to stay on its current course. For its part the Liberal Party in Ontario, may have made a grave mistake in leaving Wynne at the helm during a “change” election.
Jason Koblovsky is a freelance political and policy analyst, and syndicated political blogger commenting on Ontario, Canadian and US Politics. He is also a senior writer and contributor to Mind Bending Politics. If you would like to have your Op-Ed featured on Mind Bending Politics, send submissions to jkobopoli at rogers dot com
(Ontario’s Minister Of Child and Youth Services Michael Coteau (above) And Premier Kathleen Wynne called out on false statements regarding Autism funding by Ministry staffer)
A few months ago, the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services announced plans to “restore” autism funding for intensive therapy. On the Ministry’s own website and press releases during this announcement the Ministry told the public that “all children with autism regardless of age will get the services they need at the intensity they need.” According to sources within the Ministry I spoke with today regarding getting my own son the therapy he needs, the ministry staffer acknowledged that statement provided by the Ministry to the public is indeed false.
My son who is now 11 received a recommendation by several specialists (to which is documented) for Intensive Behavior Intervention (IBI) therapy. That was in 2010. I called Kinark who handles the wait lists for IBI shortly after this recommendation in 2010 (my son was 5 at the time), and during that call we were put on the wait list and told we would have an assessment 6 months prior to receiving IBI. We were told the wait list was about 2 1/2 years so we should get a call within the 2 year mark.
In 2012 we didn’t receive word regarding any assessments from Kinark. I called to follow up only to be told we were not on the wait list. We went through the intake process for IBI yet again. At the time we were experiencing major anxiety issues and self-injurious behaviors with my son along with toileting issues. I asked Kinark if we there was any immediate support available, they told me no and to apply for Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) until we received IBI. Once IBI was involved it would take over the ABA therapy I was told.
Between 2012 – 2013 we received ABA. ABA was 1 hour per week for 8 weeks, most of which was done without my son being observed, and mostly done with my wife and I at home while my son was attending school. The goals set out in the training as a result were not successful. As a result both my wife and I decided to not follow through with another block of ABA since we were not seeing the results and my son needed to be properly observed through a more intensive process. We wanted to wait until IBI was involved. In late 2013 we connected with Kinark again, to find out once again my son was NOT put on the wait list. We were assured that would happen for the third time.
Fast forward to last week. We still hadn’t heard anything from Kinark. I followed up with them, only to be told that my son is now 11 and does not qualify for intensive therapy anymore as per the new ministerial guidelines released to the public in June. They told me to connect with the Children’s Treatment Network to get on the centralized ABA wait list for the one hour per week sessions we had done before and were not successful.
With the help of the Ontario Autism Coalition (OAC) I forwarded off the medical documents from 2010 recommending my son to IBI with Kinark and basically stated what I had just written above to the Ministry of Child and Youth Services for investigation and follow up. I got a follow up call today from the Ministry.
Right from the beginning of that conversation I got the impression that they were not going to help, and they were even questioning whether or not we got the recommendation from our doctors and specialists for IBI, all while the staffer had the paperwork I submitted into OAC from the doctors for just that in front of him. It took him 5 mins to look through 8 pages, and he still disagreed with me regarding the recommendation stating he couldn’t “find it”. I pointed him to the page # on where the recommendation was and had him read to me line by line.
Once he got to the recommendation, the ministry staffer stated that regardless of what was on the paper, that the only thing Kinark had a record of was my call in 2012 for ABA. There was no record of my son on the IBI wait list. Say what? I asked the staffer what our options were, again I was told to apply for the centralized ABA wait list. I brought up my concerns regarding the one hour per week ABA therapy, only to be told that was our ONLY option.
I asked: “Are you telling me that Kathleen Wynne’s promise to get autism kids the therapy they need at the intensity they need is false and misleading?”
He replied: “Yes as it stands right now.”
He then stated that any issues between Kinark and my family regarding the wait lists were a private matter and the ministry would not intervene.
So with my son now hitting puberty and the accelerated behavioral issues that come with that stage in life, we still don’t have the intensive therapy that has been recommended by at least 4 specialists 6 ½ years ago and from what the Ministry has told me today, that’s not on the horizon either. Kathleen Wynne needs to explain to the people of Ontario who were behind the parents of autistic kids, exactly what the heck is going on, and why parents and kids months after this announcement are still NOT getting the services they need at the intensity they need, and why she has mislead the public in believing that this therapy was restored?
Author’s Note: I want to make it clear, that I’ve heard of several stories from specialists and from parents that Kinark is notorious for “losing” paperwork. I’m not the first one with this problem and it extends to other regional providers as well. This needs to be immediately addressed.
What our family desperately needs right now is a commitment that my son will get the therapy he needs at the intensity he needs at some point in the future, in writing from the Ministry with a date on when to expect it, so we can develop a support plan with my sons school, and support network who have been waiting for 6 1/2 years for this support to be in place. I did not get that commitment from the Ministry today, nor was any attempt made at resolving the lack of intensive supports for my son, nor given any direction on which to take to ensure my son at some point would receive the intensive therapy he needs as directed by documents submitted to the ministry and promised by the Premier.
As it stands right now, and from my conversations with the ministry and Kinark, my son will not be getting the intensive treatment he needs as promised by Wynne regardless of the circumstances, due to his age, and he’s not alone.
From the Paris attacks to last week’s mass shootings in California, like many in the civilized world over the past month I’ve been trying to wrap my head around these attacks, and why under mass surveillance are they continuing to happen with greater frequency.
Last week the 42nd parliament resumed with no word or mention from the Liberal government in the throne speech on one of the parties biggest promises, which was to fix the Conservatives anti-terror bill C-51. On this past Sunday, US President Barack Obama took to the airwaves from the oval office, and told Americans that with the build-up of the Russian military in Syria, that the US fight against ISIL will remain an intelligence gathering and special forces mission. Could the Liberal government here in Canada be stalling on anti-terror reforms as a result of US pressure?
I recently watched an investigative report on ISIL’s recruitment of women in the UK. The investigation took almost a year to complete. The report detailed one undercover Muslim women’s journey to seek out and try to get accepted into an ISIL cell. After 3 weeks of baiting radicalized ideology exclusively and very openly on Twitter, she started getting re-tweets and reply’s back from known ISIL terrorists. Within a few months, she was able to penetrate an ISIL supported cell in the UK and record with hidden cameras the meetings with other female ISIL supporters.
ISIL is using social media very openly on Twitter and Facebook to recruit people to their cause. Obama stated in his oval office address that he expects social media companies to do more in dealing with radicalized individuals. Twitter for its part in the UK investigative report started suspending radicalized accounts including the undercover journalist, which can be counterproductive to the intelligence community. In Canada under our anti-terror law C-51 it is a crime to openly support ISIL. This type of law makes our collection of targeted intelligence against ISIL that much harder, as those communications move from a public forum on the internet, to more private one making it that much harder for our law enforcement to track. What the Conservative government did with C-51 is make Canada less secure.
Dealing with radicalized ideology very much needs to be countered. The answer isn’t mass surveillance, its targeted surveillance. France for instance, has one of the world’s top intelligence agencies which specialize in Middle Eastern, and African intelligence. Yet one cold November night Paris came under attack by radicalized ISIL supporters. The problem is that there is too much information coming into our intelligence agencies as a result of mass surveillance, that these intelligence agencies miss what’s happening in plain view. Many intelligence professionals took to the airwaves after the Paris attacks stating that mass surveillance is only useful after the fact, and not in preventing terror attacks.
How do we counter radicalized ideology? You can’t counter someone’s belief systems with bombs and killing, you counter it with facts, and common sense. Going back to that UK investigative report, what should have been done is that the Muslim leadership in the UK should be showing other investigative pieces as to what happens with women and girls once they are in ISIL controlled territories. PBS did an excellent investigative piece on this. Women and girls in ISIL controlled territories are continually raped, beaten and passed around like trading cards. Those women that are often loured by the extreme ideology of ISIL, find themselves trapped in hell (not utopia) and are often wanting to flee for their lives.
Canada needs to be a leader in changing the conversation away from mass Internet surveillance to one that is targeted surveillance. There is no need for C-51. Laws before C-51 very much allow for this to already be done within the scope of the criminal code of Canada. We need a national strategy that is inclusive among Canada’s Muslim community to deal with radicalization. The Liberals promised to base their positions on fact based policy making. We’ve seen no indication from last week’s throne speech that will happen with C-51, and with the past months events in Paris and around the world, I think Canadians expected the anti-terror policy to be at the top of the Liberals policy agenda. Instead it’s been excluded as a top priority, and was a top priority for the Liberals during the election. I don’t think Canadians can expect meaningful reforms to C-51 in the future, if the US is pressuring for more mass surveillance.
(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?