Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday November 1, 2019
Can Doug Ford learn from his mistakes?
Ontario Premier Doug Ford has ended the longest legislative break in a quarter century and his own political exile. He admits his government has made mistakes and vows to find a new “tone” going forward.
“Governing is always hard,” says Ford. “We all mature in the role that we’re in and you just try not to make the same mistakes.”
Far be it for this page to disagree with Ford on any of that. Or his stated desire to “learn by your mistakes.”
His government has been a disaster, and the way Ontario voters cast their ballots in last week’s federal election strongly suggests they also know it.
But putting the wrecking ball that has been the hallmark of the Ford government’s first 16 months down to exuberance is far too simplistic.
The early autism cuts and cronyism scandal, for example, were mistakes. But much of the chaos in everything from education to social services is not the result of haste or blundering. It flows from purposeful policy decisions to cut costs.
So as Ford seeks to reset his government the real question is what exactly he thinks are his “mistakes.” That his policies proved to be more unpopular with the people of Ontario than expected, or that they were the wrong direction in the first place?
If it’s the former, Ontarians can expect to see a slower pace of change with more effort put into finding support for the government’s cuts. If it’s the latter, and we hope it is, it might mean more than that.
Monday’s Question Period, though, didn’t bode well for the idea that the new and improved Ford government is about substance and not just style.
Ford welcomed back NDP Leader Andrea Horwath and thanked her for her questions. Then he launched into the same half-truths he’s always peddled.
On education, Ford said, the government is investing “more money than any government in the history of Ontario.” But per student funding — the primary means of funding schools — is down; some high school students are struggling to get the classes they need for university; and teachers’ unions, furious about job reductions, are set to take strike votes.
On Ford’s appalling taxpayer-funded court battle over the federal carbon pricing plan, he continued to claim people “just can’t afford it.” He ignored, as usual, the fact that most people will get back more than they pay because of the rebates that come with it.
It’s obvious that Ford needs to reset his government’s agenda.
At this point, no one, not even his own Progressive Conservative colleagues, can possibly know even what it is, given all the U-turns and waffles over the last few months.
Ford happily blew up Toronto city council mid-election, supposedly to create better and more efficient municipal government and vowed to extend such thinking to other regions. Then, on Friday, after months of consultation and study the government abandoned that idea; instead, it offered municipalities more money to find efficiencies and improve services.
The province has finally moved to enact legislation passed by the former Liberal government to ban the promotion of vaping products in convenience stores but hasn’t done the same thing on labour reforms needed to protect temporary workers. It has reduced its deep cuts to child care, but not for legal aid. On carbon pricing Ford changed his mind two months ago, only to change it back again last week.
How is anyone to know what this government stands for now?
At the top of the Ford government’s list of legislative priorities is “restoring trust and accountability in government.”
After promising efficiencies but delivering devastating cuts that will be a long road.
And if Ford really wants to avoid repeating his mistakes, this legislative session needs to be about more than softer words. (Toronto Star)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday October 4, 2019
Here’s how often Trudeau has called out Harper, Ford instead of Scheer
It’s no secret to those following the federal election campaign that Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau seems to be going after former prime minister Stephen Harper as much, if not more, than Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer.
But just how much more?
Roughly 33 per cent.
Global News has been tracking how many times at official events and media availabilities each of the two front runners reference the other — or others entirely.
That does not include photo ops, whistlestops or unscheduled remarks.
Those records show Trudeau has referenced Harper (in English) at speeches and campaign stops a total of 62 times so far over the last 21 days.
Scheer, on the other hand, has mentioned Trudeau 326 times so far in the campaign.
That’s equal to roughly seven times the amount that Trudeau mentioned him.
Global News reached out to both parties asking about their attacks but didn’t receive clear answers to the question of why they were focusing on the attacks seen so far: a Conservative spokesperson accused Trudeau of being afraid to run on his record and whipping up fear, while a Liberal said the choice for voters is whether to return to the same kinds of policies seen under the Harper and Ford governments.
A source working with Ford’s government also echoed the federal party remarks when asked about the number of times Trudeau has brought up Ford, accusing Trudeau of “banking on the fact that he can make Ontarians afraid.”
“The reason that Scheer is pounding on Trudeau is because the entire Liberal brand is Trudeau. So if you’re going to rough up the Liberals, it starts with their leader and he also knows Trudeau is a controversial figure in Canada now,” said Darrell Bricker, president of Ipsos.
“For the people who don’t like him, he is a hot button so every time he [Scheer] gets a chance to push it, he does.”
Bricker said the same isn’t true for Scheer, who polls suggest remains an undefined brand in the minds of voters.
“He’s not the Conservative brand the same way Trudeau is the Liberal brand,” Bricker said. “So what the Liberals are trying to do on the other side, because he is a bit of a blank slate, they’ve got their chalk out and they’re trying to colour him in.”
The way they’re trying to do that, Bricker said, is by making direct links in voters’ minds to two other highly controversial figures: Ford and Harper.
According to a poll by Angus Reid last week, half of Ontario voters say their opinions of Ford and his government will sway their vote on Oct. 21, with 85 per cent of those saying Ford’s government will make them less likely to support Scheer and the federal Conservatives. (Global)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday August 27, 2019
Andrew Scheer said gay couples lack ‘inherent’ quality of marriage in tape of 2005 speech unearthed by Liberals
The Liberals are challenging Andrew Scheer to march in Ottawa’s Pride Parade this week, after unearthing a 2005 speech the Conservative leader made suggesting same-sex marriage cannot be considered marriage at all.
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale released a video of the speech on Twitter on Thursday that shows the then 25-year-old Scheer giving a speech in opposition to the Civil Marriage Act, which legalized same-sex unions in Canada.
“There is nothing more important to society than the raising of children, for its very survival requires it,” Scheer said.
“Homosexual unions are by nature contradictory to this . . . Two members of the same sex may use their God-given free will to engage in acts, to cohabit and to own property together. They may commit themselves to monogamy. They may pledge to remain in a loving relationship for life.
“In that sense, they have many of the collateral features of marriage, but they do not have its inherent feature, as they cannot commit to the natural procreation of children. They cannot therefore be married.”
Scheer, along with the rest of then-leader Stephen Harper’s caucus, voted against legalizing gay marriage in 2005. Harper said at the time a Conservative government would revisit the law if elected, but avoided reigniting the debate over the almost decade he spent in power.
Like his predecessor, Scheer has tried to distance himself from major social conservative issues like abortion and same sex marriage. But the Conservative leader — a devoted Roman Catholic — has consistently refused to take part in Pride parades attended by politicians across the country.
Scheer’s office did not immediately respond to questions on whether his position on same sex marriage has evolved over the past 14 years. But earlier this month, a spokesperson for the Conservative leader said the party has a “proud history of fighting for the rights and protection of all Canadians, including those in the LGBTQ community, at home and abroad.”
Scheer’s office was responding to questions about why the leader avoided the Vancouver Pride Parade this month, which was attended by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May. (Hamilton Spectator)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday June 11, 2019
The politics of basketball
The country is roaring for the Raptors as they take on the Golden State Warriors in the NBA finals, and politicians are capitalizing on the buzz.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh both attended previous playoff games, and former U.S. president Barack Obama also made a surprise appearance at a game in Toronto.
Former high-level staff members to two prime ministers say there’s all kinds of political and personal reasons for politicians to try to tap into the Raptors’ crowd.
“It’s young, it’s urban, it’s hip, it’s diverse. And so if you’re Justin Trudeau, you dig being around that because you think that’s on brand for you. If you’re Andrew Scheer, being around that demonstrates ‘see I’m not not those things,'” Scott Reid, director of communications to former prime minister Paul Martin, told The House.
But he also cautioned it’s not just about the politics.
“Let’s not lose sight of the possibility that people are fans and occasionally politicians are also people.”
Aside from potential fan-motivations, Dennis Matthews, who served as head of advertising for former prime minister Stephen Harper, said it’s never a bad thing to be connected to a success.
“Politicians like to be associated with things that are winning,” he said.
When asked whether they thought Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would be making an appearance at a finals game, they both thought it’s a possibility — though it would have to be calculated.
Both men said you don’t want a politician at a deciding game (lest a loss result in the notion they somehow cursed the game), and you don’t want them courtside (or seeming out of touch with Canadians).
The diversity of the team and Toronto has factored in to the political appearances at the games, Reid and Matthews agreed.
The team is situated in an election battleground, and the demographics represent votes to be snapped up.
“I’d be looking at that audience base and I’d be saying ‘hey I want these people to to vote for me,'” Matthews said,
Reid agreed, adding how he’d look at those votes for political strategy.
“How do I get those? Because if I do, I am bringing in new votes into the column and I’m bringing them for me.” (CBC)