Off to Trump’s America again in .. just what is going on there anyway (& in good old ontariario too) ????

Posted: April 17th, 2018 | No Comments »

Petaluma, California in the late 19th century.

In some ways we cannot really say that almost all of us in the Toronto editorial office here will be headed for Trump’s America on April 18, 2018, for one of our regular conferences with our growing technical staff in northern California.

California generally is not really in Trump’s America, of course,  and northern California especially (except in the more seriously rural places?). Our technical staff have in any case recently relocated to Petaluma — “a city in Sonoma County, California, part of the North Bay sub-region of the San Francisco Bay Area, located 37 mi (60 km) north of San Francisco. Its population was 57,941 according to the 2010 Census.”

Our expanding technical staff were particularly attracted to Petaluma by the availability of increasingly large real estate packages at (well, sort of) reasonable prices — and by the location of the Lagunitas Brewing Company on one edge of town.

California Governor Jerry Brown and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne speak to reporters after a "fireside chat" on climate change in downtown Toronto on Monday, April 16, 2018. (KRISTIN RUSHOWY / TORONTO STAR).

Meanwhile, we will be travelling to the Golden State bearing something of a disrespectful embarrassment from We the North of the Great Lakes. See : “California governor snubbed by Progressive Conservatives … The Ontario government asked for Jerry Brown to be allowed to address the legislature, but the PC party refused to allow it.”

Meanwhile, we are also leaving with various recent New Yorker headlines ringing in our ears. See, eg : “Michael Cohen and the End Stage of the Trump Presidency” ; and “James Comey’s Blistering Interview About Donald Trump.”

We remain at a Show-Me-the-Money stage in all this, though we’d agree the forces against President Trump seem to be gaining some momentum at the moment.

Our views are increasingly blunted as well by the growing realization that there is a perhaps even extremely good chance that Canadian Trump follower Doug Ford  — older and (possibly?) somewhat wiser brother of the late wild and crazy Toronto Mayor Rob Ford — will be “Progressive Conservative” Premier of Ontario (like a state governor, sort of) before the local elementary schools start their summer holidays this year.

Downtown Petaluma today by the water, at night.

We will be pondering and discussing all such weighty and other important matters during our Petaluma conversations. We’ll be back on the north shore of Lake Ontario later in April. And on current calculations we’ll be ready to report on the further adventures of the universe as visible from our we-the-northern regional observatory early in May.

As on past occasions of this sort Bunting will be staying behind to guard the office furniture. But he’ll just be keeping a light in the window, nothing more.

He is advising all those who seriously require something to help put them to sleep on a troubled night (or morning) to consider his esteemed colleague Randall White’s recently completed Part III of his Children of the Global Village work in progress, on “The Dominion of Canada, 1867–1963” — a snapshot history of the growth of democracy in the first 96 years of the modern Canadian confederation, in six chapters :

1. First self-governing dominion of the British empire : Further founding moments, 1867–1873

2. Arduous Destiny : Canada’s alternative to the Great Barbecue, 1873-1896

3. Sunny Ways : Imperial Preference, New Boom, and Last Best West, 1896–1911

4. Our Lady of the Snows, 1911–1921

5. Age of the Incredible Canadian, 1921–1948

6. Democracy in the Dominions, 1948–1963

(O and btw : Happy 70th birthday in the Buckhorn woods Spirit of CHW : “In the morning the sun was up and the tent was starting to get hot … The sun was just up over the hill … There were birch trees in the green of the swamp … He built a little fire and put on the coffee pot.” )

Putting David Livingston in jail is what’s really harmful to the future of parliamentary democracy in Ontario

Posted: April 11th, 2018 | No Comments »

David Livingston, former premier Dalton's McGuinty's chief of staff from 2012 to 2013. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press).

I would like to offer a brief dissenting opinion to today’s Ontario Court of Justice decision reported in “Former top Ontario Liberal aide sentenced to 4 months in jail for role in gas plants scandal … David Livingston was chief of staff for former premier Dalton McGuinty.”

I am not offering my opinion as a lawyer or a judge. I am just an Ontario voter in his  early-close-to-mid 70s. At the same time, I do have a PhD in political science from the University of Toronto. And rather long ago now (during the later phases of the old Progressive Conservative dynasty), I spent about a dozen years as an enrolled member of the Ontario Public Service.

I have subsequently worked as a public policy research consultant for a wide variety of clients at all three levels of government in Canada. And I am the author of a number of books on Ontario and Canadian history and politics, from which I still receive (very) modest sums of Canadian dollars more or less regularly.

I should also perhaps say that all I have read about the 4-months-in-jail decision of Justice Timothy Lipson is the CBC News article alluded to above. I am similarly not intimately familiar with all the details of David Livingston’s case.

I have, however, long been following both his case and the larger so-called “gas plants scandal,” with something approaching a professional (and a voter’s) interest in sound and wise Ontario public policy.

I believe I am qualified enough to offer the following two-part opinion on what is essentially a public policy argument for David Livingston’s 4-month jail sentence (also understandably being appealed by his lawyer along with his original conviction) …

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Does Doug Ford actually resemble old Dief the Chief in Canada, 1957–63, and not Donald Trump in USA today?

Posted: April 8th, 2018 | No Comments »

Doug Ford takes questions during pre-budget lock-up at Queens Park Legislature in Toronto, Wednesday, March 28, 2018. CHRIS YOUNG / THE CANADIAN PRESS.

The other night on TV the eminent and excellent CBC News poll analyst Éric Grenier advised that, based on current polling data, the coming June 7 election in Canada’s most populous province is “Doug Ford’s to lose.”

This has various people nervous, including us. However you look at it, the new provincial Progressive Conservative leader Doug Ford is Ontario’s version of the right-wing populist crusade that Donald Trump speaks for in the USA right now.

This crusade also has various things to do with Brexit in the UK, the recent Italian elections,  and on and on, possibly even back to Narendra Modi’s (at least somewhat Hindu nationalist?) BJP government of the world’s largest democracy, in the modern Republic of India.

We strongly believe that repeating these right-wing-populist-in-power adventures north of the North American Great Lakes can serve no useful public purpose, and will certainly bring some real harm to the great majority of we the people of Ontario.

We who are writing this in particular live and work in Toronto — capital city of the Canadian Province of Ontario. (Canadian provinces are more or less comparable to American states, though Ontario has a larger budget than any state of the union except New York and California.).

For us the prospect that even former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s somewhat older and wiser brother Doug will be Premier of Ontario before the Summer Breeze starts to blow raises thoughts of moving to California, at least until Premier Ford self-destructs or otherwise leaves office.

Meanwhile, our counterweights colleague and eminence grise Randall White dropped around to the main office yesterday with the latest installment of his work-in-progress on the history of Canadian democracy, tentatively entitled Children of the Global Village — Canada in the 21st Century : Tales about the history that matters.

If you go to “Long Journey to a Canadian Republic” on the bar above (or just CLICK HERE), you will find a short introduction to the democratic Dr. White’s project, along with the “Prologue : too much geography.”

This is followed by links to the currently completed six chapters in Part I, four  chapters in Part II, and the first five chapters in Part III on the old Dominion of Canada. You will now find as well a link to the final Chapter 6 in Part III  : “Democracy in the Dominions, 1948–1963.”

After a few words in the office, we caught up somewhat later with Dr. White and his irresistible business manager at the Tim Horton’s across from Kew Gardens, to hear a possibly less bleak and daunting theory of Doug Ford in Ontario in 2018.

Prime Minister Diefenbaker, 1957-1963.

White’s latest chapter of the Children of the Global Village project, he noted, ends with the 13th prime minister of the 1867 confederation in Canada, John George Diefenbaker from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. And there are a few things that Diefenbaker in the 1950s and 1960s and Doug Ford today have in common.

They are both Progressive Conservative populist leaders. And no one talked about a “Diefenbaker Nation” back then, but Dief the Chief certainly had one. (You can read all about it  in “Democracy in the Dominions, 1948–1963.”)

Diefenbaker had problems actually governing, that Dr. White thinks could eventually befall Premier Doug Ford in Ontario as well. But in the end, we asked, does Dr. White think Doug Ford may actually be more like Diefenbaker back then than like Donald Trump today?

He just laughed and said “No … whatever the other similarities Diefenbaker was progressive in a way Doug Ford has shown no serious signs of being yet. And he was not the same knee-jerk, open-for-business, free-market salesman Doug Ford is. Rob Ford may have done Trump before Trump, but Doug Ford is finally just imitating Trump — and he’s nowhere near as rich.”

Scene of the tragic Humboldt Broncos bus crash on Friday, April 6, 2018, on the way to a game with the Nipawin Hawks in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.

(Later White phoned in a final note about John Diefenbaker from Prince Albert. Were he alive today, the 13th prime minister of Canada would be deeply distressed by the tragic Humboldt Broncos bus crash on Friday, April 6, on the way to a game with the Nipawin Hawks in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. The RCMP has now confirmed 15 fatalities and more than a dozen other injuries. Somewhere out among the stars the heart of the late populist Prime Minister Diefenbaker is feeling the pain of his friends, neighbours, and fellow citizens in 2018.)

Blue Jays 2018 : Stocked with talent and caveats, they could be either contenders or pretenders .. or just a team in limbo

Posted: March 29th, 2018 | 2 Comments »

Dalton Pompey at World Baseball Classic, March 2017.

From the outset of 2017 something was amiss. The day before the first full-squad workout in the spring, all-star Josh Donaldson suffered a tear in his right calf and did not find his stride until late July.

Then Canadian Blue Jay prospect Dalton Pompey suffered a concussion at the World Baseball Classic and spent the entire year on the disabled list. Later in March, Roberto Osuna and Francisco Liriano suffered neck and back injuries that left them chasing full strength on the mound to begin the season.

Next, and most crushing, Aaron Sanchez developed a blister far bigger than any previous one on his pitching hand and spent the whole year in search of a solution.

Then the bell rang, and the team with the oldest players in the majors limped out to a 1-9 start from which they never recovered.  Doomed before they’d even cracked the roof at the Rogers Centre for the summer.

The losses continued to pile up for the underperforming Blue Jays, who were mired in last place in the American League East for every single day of the season, save the last when the Jays handed the basement over to the equally woeful Baltimore Orioles.

Then somehow, the Blue Jays extended their losing streak beyond the baseball season and into the offseason with the widespread purging of 20 back-office employees by CEO Mark Shapiro in October.

Good people at their jobs were let go. Reasons were not really given. Explanations were not provided.  On the surface, the moves came across as petty, even mean-spirited, as in the case of visiting clubhouse manager Lenny Frejlich, one of the few charter employees with the club.

Shapiro and GM Ross Atkins came to the Jays from Cleveland following the 2015 season and have been accused by many observers of wanting to mould the clubhouse in their own image, bringing in cronies and getting rid of as many old -guard employees as possible.

They fired a bunch of long-serving back-office people, none of whom actually made baseball decisions or were tasked to hit home runs, for no particularly good reason other than they could do it. Or maybe it’s got something to do with “culture”—  a word that these days gets thrown around so often by this management team to explain away bad decisions that it’s beginning to sound Orwellian.

“Jose!..Jose!..Jose! ... 54 HRs in 2010 and one memorable bat flip in the magical 2015 season.”

The offseason also saw the loss of long-time Blue Jay favourite Jose Bautista, whose contract was non-tendered by management after a less than spectacular 2017 in which he hit .203. He will be remembered for thrilling Blue Jay fans for over 10 years in which they serenaded him with “Jose!…Jose!..Jose!”, highlighted by 54 HRs in 2010 and one memorable bat flip in the magical 2015 season.  A place will be made for him one day on the Blue Jay Level of Excellence.

Further losses to the team included one broadcaster (Gregg Zaun) getting swept up in the #MeToo tsunami for his “inappropriate behaviour and comments,” and also to long-time radio broadcaster Jerry Howarth, who after 36 years of being the voice of summer for the Blue Jays, retired before the start of spring training due to ongoing health concerns.

But perhaps the greatest loss of the offseason occurred on Nov 7 th, 2017 when former Blue Jay great Roy Halladay perished after crashing his plane in the Gulf of Mexico …

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Is Stormy Daniels on the edge of a real political career at last?

Posted: March 24th, 2018 | No Comments »

Some time ago (and along with others no doubt) I began to ponder the possibility that in order to defeat Donald Trump and his wrong side of history, democracy in America has to come up with someone who is both as crazy and yet strangely talented as he is.

After I saw an especially good “Real Time with Bill Maher” episode one Friday night a while back, I came up with the too crazy thought that maybe Bill Maher should be the next Democratic candidate for president.

When I raised this prospect with friends over drinks they laughed so loud that I had to stress I just meant it as a joke. But now Entertainment Columnist Vinay Menon’s Toronto Star report this past Friday has pointed to a new and possibly slightly more suitable candidate.

See Menon’s : “When Trump looks in the mirror, he sees Stormy Daniels … To glimpse Stormy Daniels on prime-time television is to realize what Donald Trump is now up against: himself.”

(And note of course that the lovely Ms Daniels will be on “60 Minutes” tomorrow night!)

A slight amount of research on the web will also reveal that Stormy Daniels (aka Stephanie Clifford from the wrong side of the tracks in Baton Rouge, capital of Louisiana) has already had the kind of getting-your-feet-wet pass at a political career also known to the early Donald Trump.

Stormy Daniels with her lawyer Michael Avenatti (l) and Anderson Cooper( r ), who interviewed her for 60 Minutes, March 25, 2018.

See, eg, this report posted with a flourish of footnotes on Wikipedia : “A group of fans attempted to recruit Daniels to run against Republican Senator David Vitter in Louisiana in 2010.[8] The recruitment process was centered around the website[22] On May 21, 2009, she formed an exploratory committee.[23] Daniels was unaffiliated with any party until April 2010 when she declared herself as a Republican.[3] She made several listening tours around Louisiana to focus on the economy, as well as women in business and child protection[24] and stated that if elected, she would likely retire from the adult industry.[25] In August, 2009, her campaign manager’s car was blown up, although no one was in the car at that time.[26] She announced on April 15, 2010, that she would not be running for Senate, saying she could not afford a run for the Senate seat and stating that the media never took her candidacy seriously.[27]”

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Jill Lepore’s three lectures in Toronto .. in the shadow of the new Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Doug Ford ..

Posted: March 21st, 2018 | No Comments »

The thing to remember about the United States of America when it intermittently seems on the verge of civil war (metaphorically at least?) is that it is in the end a very complex place, full of many different real-world human beings.

For every “Ugly American” there are at least a few and often enough many more who remain attractive and full of humanity and common sense, regardless of “race, creed or color” ; “race, color, or previous condition of servitude” ; “sex, race, creed, color, or national or ethnic origin” ; or “national origin, race, color, religion, disability, sex, and familial status.”

As one attractive example, Jill Lepore — Harvard University professor of American history and New Yorker magazine columnist —  was supposed to give her “End of Knowledge” contribution to the F.E.L. Priestly Memorial Lectures at University College in the University of Toronto around this time last year. But extreme late winter weather cancelled her flight from Boston.

Her three “End of Knowledge lectures” — on “Facts,” “Numbers,” and “Data” in more or less chronological order — were put ahead to this past March 13, 14, and 15, 2018.

Even this time a late-season blizzard in Boston came close to canceling the trip. Happily Ms. Lepore managed to catch a plane to Toronto the day before.

University College Toronto at night.

I and I would guess most others who made their way to the venerable two-tier University College lecture hall called “UC 140” at 4:30 PM on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday in the middle of March, found her late afternoon talks altogether worth the wait.

(And that was only partly because it is always agreeable to sit on contemporary lecture-hall furniture, amidst awesome wood paneling from an age when high local carpentry skills were more common than they seem today.)

Jill Lepore herself began her first talk with some brief thoughts about the attractions of spending time in older buildings on the downtown U of T campus — and how bringing together the academic community, a great variety of students, and curious citizens of the surrounding city (my own classification) was what finally made the “universe” of the university real.

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Are we down to the wire on Ontario PC leadership yet? (Yes .. and believe it or not Doug Ford has won .. finally)

Posted: March 9th, 2018 | No Comments »

Christine Elliott and friends, back when the Ford nation endorsed her as Ontario PC leader in 2015.

GANATSEKWYAGON, ON. FRI 9 MAR 18. 5:45 PM ET. [UPDATED 7:55 PM ; SAT 10 MAR, 5:20 PM ET ; SUN 11 MAR, 2/3 AM ET/EDT]. It fits with all the strange things which have happened so far in the quite bizarre surprise Ontario Progressive Conservative leadership race of 2018 that, less than 24 hours before the result is scheduled to be known, it is still not certain we will know the result as scheduled. (UPDATE MAR 10 : Scroll to bottom for the final result, at last!)

See, eg :  “Judge to make decision on last-ditch hearing to extend PC leadership race … Party plans to announce the winner on Saturday, so injunction would throw that into chaos .”  And : “Lawyer seeking injunction to extend Ontario PC leadership race … application is being heard in a Toronto courthouse Friday.”

Mike Crawley at the CBC, co-author of the first piece above has recently tweeted “Ontario PC leadership race update: Court officials have just told us the judge is still working on his decision, and it’s not likely to come before 6pm.”

Unless the judge does decide to extend the race (for another week, say?)  — something that all current Ontario PC leadership candidates but Christine Elliott have also been urging — it seems  likely enough that the party establishment favourite Christine Elliott will be the winner when the results are announced tomorrow, as originally scheduled by party officials.

On this prospect see three recent tweets by Steve Paikin, and a report yesterday from CBC pollster Éric Grenier :

* “@C_Mulroney still leads in fundraising, but @celliottability is raking it in too: more than $100,000 in the past 24 hours alone, for a total of $746,000 so far, according to her campaign … 5:01 PM — 9 Mar 2018.”

* “take this @MainStResearch poll for what it’s worth: 18,308 @OntarioPCParty members surveyed betw. Mar.1-7.  @celliottability 35.2%, @fordnation 34.9%, @C_Mulroney 17.3%, @@@TGranicAllen 12.5%. if this is right, it certainly suggests an elliott 2nd or 3rd ballot win … 4:49 PM – 9 Mar 2018.”

* “i’m not 100% sure of this, but if @C_Mulroney, @fordnation, & @TGranicAllen are all calling for an extension in the voting and leadership election day, isn’t that a tacit acknowledgement that they think @celliottability is going to win under the current circumstances? … 6:56 PM – 8 Mar 2018.”

Ontario PC leadership debate 2018 : l to r : Tanya Allen, Caroline Mulroney, Christine Elliott, Doug Ford.

* As of 1:29 PM on Mar 08, 2018,  1:29 PM ET Éric Grenier was also suggesting : “Christine Elliott was the only candidate to say the voting process should go ahead as planned, a move that suggests confidence in Saturday’s result. But Tanya Granic Allen, Doug Ford and Caroline Mulroney are not throwing in the towel just yet.”

This space here will be reporting back itself once the court decision is announced — soon enough at 6PM or later.

Meanwhile note that both Warren Kinsella and John Ibbitson have expressed great scepticism about “how often judges like to involve themselves in the internal affairs of political parties.” If this proves right it would seem a pretty fair guess that Christine Elliott will win tomorrow. And then the question will be how mad does this make the other three candidates? And, ultimately, what does this mean for the actual Ontario election on June7? (And remember : you heard it here first, even if it remains unclear!)

UPDATE 7:45 PM/7:55 PM : Mike Crawley has just (well 12 minutes ago) tweeted : “We’re told a written decision is on the way.” And some 10 minutes later Robert Benzie has tweeted : “BREAKING: Judge rejects injunction application that would have extended @OntarioPCParty leadership voting by a week. Convention can go ahead tomorrow.”  So … we will now know for certain who the winner is (and likely enough Ms Elliott?) by this time on Saturday, March 10 — or at least before all voters of all sorts across “this prosy old province of Ontario” in the age of high technology have gone to bed?

UPDATE MAR 10, 5:30 PM : So who actually is the winner?  Despite my own and other suggestions about a likely Christine Elliott victory, some time ago Robert Benzie at the Toronto Star tweeted : “Sources say preliminary count shows @fordnation won on riding points. Within 0.5 percentage points of @celliottability. But count is being challenged so Ford win is not official.”

Then the CBC’s Mike Crawley reported : “BREAKING: A senior official with direct knowledge of the results tells me that Doug Ford won the Ontario PC leadership race in the initial count and that Christine Elliott is demanding a recount.”

And then just several minutes ago Mike Crawley told us : “CONFIRMED: Two party sources with direct knowledge of the result tell me the recount is complete and Doug Ford won on the recount as well. He will be the new Ontario PC leader.”

And now just a few moments ago Mr. Benzie has tweeted again : “BREAKING: Senior Tory confides: “We have a @HillaryClinton-@realDonaldTrump situation. @fordnation has won ‘electoral college’ with more riding points, but @celliottability has 3,000 more voters.” Hearing we may be headed to court.”

I give full credit to Andrew Coyne, who as early as just after 2 PM this afternoon told us : “Somehow the Ontario Tories are going to find one last way to screw this up. I can feel it.”

Of course, stay tuned …

UPDATE MAR 11, 2/3 AM ET/EDT : The plot may or may not have thickened yet again. Rather late in the day on March 10 an official announcement was made that Doug Ford had won. Just after 10 PM, eg, Robert Benzie tweeted : “Doug @fordnation is new @OntarioPCParty leader.”

Just after midnight, however, Mike Crawley at the CBC was explaining that yet another complication had arisen : “BREAKING: Christine Elliott is NOT conceding the Ontario PC leadership to Doug Ford … she claims ‘serious irregularities’ in the race.”

Ten minutes later Martin Regg Cohn at the Toronto Star jumped in with : “Wow. @celliottability refuses to concede to @fordnation. Strongly worded statement vows to probe discrepancies that denied her leadership after winning popular vote and most ridings. Will caucus supporters stand by her or acquiesce to Ford as new boss?”

Just before the switch to Daylight Savings time at 2 AM on March 11 Adam Radwanski at the Globe and Mail opined : “I can understand Christine Elliott’s frustration. But I can’t envision a scenario in which either the party or a court overturns Ford’s win.”

Again I can only admire the Andrew Coyne who advised us more than 12 hours ago now : “Somehow the Ontario Tories are going to find one last way to screw this up. I can feel it.” It would all be so much simpler from here on if Christine Elliott had just won handily, the way the party establishment wanted!

UPDATE MAR 11, 7:30 PM EDT : In the end the Progressive Conservative party in Canada’s most populous province is a proper political party, whose members generally do the right thing in the end, officially at least. See, eg, Mike Crawley’s CBC News report, last updated about an hour ago : “Christine Elliott meets new Ontario PC Leader Doug Ford, gives him her support … Elliott’s campaign choosing not to challenge to Ford’s victory in Ontario PC leadership race.”

Who of course knows where it will all go from here? Stay tuned … the election day that counts on June 7 is now less than three months away.

Is rocky Ontario PC leadership race foolishly turning into “A Red Tory Living In A Blue Tory Nightmare”?

Posted: March 4th, 2018 | No Comments »

Doug Ford awaits results of 2014 Toronto mayoral election with his wife Karla and three daughters. Even if he wins on March 10, 2018 there will also be a lot of women behind the major male candidate for premier.

GANATSEKWYAGON, ON. SUN 4 MARCH 2018. 12:00 PM ET.  Just after noon yesterday the Canadian Press reported : “Ontario’s Progressive Conservative party is giving members even more time to sign up to cast their vote for a new leader.”

The report went on : “The party has already extended the voter registration deadline once, pushing it back from March 2 to March 5. It now says voters can sign up until 8 p.m. on Wednesday, March 7.”

(And in case you’ve forgotten : “Voting to choose the new leader got underway yesterday and is set to close on March 8, with the results announced on March 10.”)

Andrew Coyne (from CBC TV’s “At Issue” panel etc) calmly responded to a Strategy Corp tweet of this latest voter-registration extension with “Everything is fime.”  (And a response to Coyne’s tweet from one-time aspiring PC candidate Dean Baxendale urged : “With less than 15% registered you know why.”)

According to a Globe and Mail report from Justin Giovannetti this past Friday, in the midst of all the registration extensions “Vote for new PC leader appears to be a two-horse race: Christine Elliott and Doug Ford.”

Against this perception a group of eight “former Harper-era” federal cabinet ministers (including former Harris-era provincial minister Tony Clement, and popular Milton MP Lisa Raitt) tweeted support for Caroline Mulroney yesterday.

Caroline Mulroney (far left) at 24 Sussex in Ottawa, Ontario.

(Ms Mulroney herself argues she has lived in Ontario most of her life. And note her formative years from 10 to 19 in her father’s prime ministerial residence at 24 Sussex in Ottawa — which is certainly in Ontario geographically. Some Ontario provincial observers nonetheless see her as an upscale girl from Montreal, who married the son of a prominent New York editor at a church in Westmount — a perception sustained by such documents as her wedding announcement in the New York Times. She has some of the problems Conservatives once laid at the door of the cosmopolitan federal Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff.)

If the Ontario PC leadership contest we’ll know the winner of on Saturday, March 10 really has become a two-horse race, the obvious ideological battle lines put Christine Elliott on the Red Tory progressive left, and Doug Ford on the Blue Tory conservative right.

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Is it true only 7000 have so far signed up to vote in Ontario PC leadership race?

Posted: February 27th, 2018 | No Comments »

“I really believe I’d have run in there even if I didn’t have a weapon” — @realDonaldTrump. 9:44 PM, 26 Feb 2018. Many tks to Jennifer Gunter — “My Vagina Is Terrific. Your Opinion About It Is Not.”

TORONTO. 27 FEBRUARY 2018, 5 AM ET. We won’t even start to be able to start placing (again ) former Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Patrick Brown in the largely unknown deep political history of Canada’s most populous province until we know the actual result of the provincial election, now just three months or so away, on June 7.

Meanwhile, late last night Warren Kinsella wistfully tweeted “Tomorrow: no more Patrick Brown stories, and therefore a melancholy sort of day.”

And Andrew Russell has reported : “Internal polling of eligible PC voters obtained by Global News showed Brown ahead of Elliott, with Ford in third place, followed by Mulroney, and Allen in fifth. A poll of the broader electoral college showed Brown and Elliott tied.” (The smart money does now seem to be coalescing around Christine Elliott as next Ontario PC leader.)

Russell goes on : “Despite the turmoil inside the PCs, polling has showed the Tories are still very much in the driver’s seat when it comes to the upcoming provincial election … The PCs would receive 38 per cent of the vote if an election were held tomorrow, according to an Ipsos poll conducted exclusively for Global News … Voting for the Ontario PC race is scheduled to take place from March 2 to 8, with the results announced on March 10.”

The polling that has shown “the Tories are still very much in the driver’s seat when it comes to the upcoming provincial election” may or may not have something to do with the resignation of Ontario health minister Eric Hoskins yesterday, to “chair a federal government advisory council with a goal of creating a national pharmacare plan.”

Meanwhile, Helena Jaczek is the new Ontario health minister. And “Michael Coteau will be Community and Social Services Minister and Minister of Children and Youth Services and Minister Responsible for Anti-Racism.”

Meanwhile again, a recent tweet from Steve Paikin raises fresh questions about many current  Ontario politics assumptions : “only 7,000 out of a potential nearly 200,000” Ontario PC party members (or even just 130,000 say, as Vic Fedeli once suggested?) “have so far registered to vote” from March 2 to 8. At “this rate, real concern within the party that only half the members will vote.” And what will that do for party momentum toward June 7?

In any case those of us who really are seriously aging enjoyed a few vague memories of days long, long ago when news surfaced that aging local extreme right-wing extremist Paul Fromm “endorses Tanya Granic Allen’s Tory leadership campaign.”

I think myself that the speculation Patrick Brown’s second withdrawal from the current Ontario PC leadership race could finally help Doug Ford the most is at least amusing — even if it does prove quite wrong

My own final thought for the moment is just : may the best woman win …  (Well … and Ontario almost certainly does need a new flag …)

Where is the stranger and stranger Ontario PC leadership race of 2018 going?

Posted: February 18th, 2018 | 1 Comment »

l to r : Tanya Allen, Christine Elliott, Doug Ford, Caroline Mulroney at first Ontario PC leadership debate in Toronto.

TORONTO, ON. SUN 18 FEB 2018. 3 AM ET. [UPDATED 11:00 AM, 8:00 PM, MON 19 FEB, 1 PM, WED 21 FEB, 12:45 PM, 5 PM]. I am now back one week from the brief winter holiday in the sun alluded to in “I remember the crisis in Ontario politics while escaping ‘Mon pays ce n’est pas un pays, c’est l’hiver’” (01 Feb 18).

The latest flood of fresh, crazy events in the crisis urges me to jot down a quick-and-dirty update on my own bemused (mis?)-understanding of just what is going on in the Ontario Progressive Conservative leadership race of 2018.

I don’t actually have much to say right now — beyond the usually wise thought that it makes most sense not to jump too quickly to any conclusions about anything.

One theoretically key question was tweeted yesterday by Steve Pailkin : “I’m hearing the @OntarioPCParty provincial nominations committee will meet at 4 pm today to consider @brownbarrie’s leadership bid. A decision today unlikely … 3:49 PM – 17 Feb 2018.”

An earlier CBC report had already explained that “Brown is listed as a ‘leadership contestant’ on the Elections Ontario website, but to run, he will also need to be approved by a party committee … Insiders tell CBC News it’s unlikely the committee will reject Brown’s candidacy.”

If this is true, the sudden surprise race to succeed Patrick Brown as Ontario PC leader now definitely includes Tanya Allen, Christine Elliott, Doug Ford, Caroline Mulroney — and Patrick Brown!

Steve Paikin has also tweeted a “not scientific but maybe of interest: @TorontoStar’s @OntarioPCParty poll: Who should be the next leader?,” as of not quite 3:30 yesterday afternoon : Patrick Brown  32.25% ; Christine Elliott  28.48% ; Tanya Allen 16.48% ; Caroline Mulroney  13.6% ; and Doug Ford  9.19%, with “almost 7000 votes cast.”

(Of course readers of the Toronto Star are more likely to be Liberals or New Democrats than even Progressive Conservatives … but, as Mr. Paikin says, the poll is “maybe of interest.”)

A few final striking observations come from the usually conservative (and Conservative) guru Jaimie Watt … and the usually Liberal Warren Kinsella … on just where the race is now.

Just before 11 AM yesterday CBC News reported “Brown’s entry into the leadership race is a gift to the Ontario Liberals, according to Jaime Watt, executive chair of the public relations company Navigator and a long-time Conservative strategist … ‘I think it harms all the candidates at an important time in Ontario’s history,’ Watt said … ‘If I were (Kathleen Wynne) I’d be running to the convenience store to buy a lottery ticket.’”

The day before (Friday 16 February) just after 3 PM, and then updated just after 9 PM, CBC News had reported “Brown’s presence in the race is ‘totally unprecedented,’ according to Jaime Watt … ‘I don’t think anyone can remember such a thing happening,’ Watt told CBC Toronto …‘I think it calls into question the seriousness of the entire race … it has turned into a bit of a shitshow frankly … it actually harms all the candidates at a very important time in Ontario’s history.’”

Meanwhile, usually Liberal guru Warren Kinsella tweeted at 5 PM on Friday 16 February : “Upside for #ONPC: no one is paying any attention anymore to the other two parties” (to say nothing of the Green Party, which continues to languish on the fringes of what passes for a real world these days at Queen’s Park — with no one yet predicting that Patrick Brown in the PC race to replace Patrick Brown will boost Ontario Green Party leader Mike Schreiner’s fortunes, in some vague bow to the most recent provincial election in beautiful BC ).

UPDATE, FEB 18, 11:00 AM, 8:00 PM : Robert Benzie at the Toronto Star has tweeted : “@brownbarrie launches his comeback leadership bid today at 1 p.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn near Pearson Airport. Rally is in the Trillium Ballroom B and C … 9:25 AM – 18 Feb 2018 from Caledon, Ontario.” Warren Kinsella has more recently urged : “In comparative terms, the Patrick Brown team’s hacking, trolling and online manipulations make Putin’s look rather amateurish … 10:32 AM – 18 Feb 2018.” … And (8 PM) Steve Paikin  is now reporting :  “I’m hearing the @OntarioPCParty leadership vetting process for @brownbarrie has completed the background check. Up next: a face to face interview with the candidate.  An up or down vote on his viability should be done by Wednesday … 6:17 PM – 18 Feb 2018.”

UPDATE FEB 19, 1 PM ET : A new poll by Lorne Bozinoff’s Forum Research suggests “the attention surrounding the PC leadership race has only served to help the party … Even Patrick Brown’s re-entry into the race isn’t yet showing as a negative, with just as many people saying they agree with the decision as disagree … Right now it looks as any of the four frontrunners would secure a majority for the PCs in the next election.”

For the time being I remain a sceptic on this front myself, and will wait for polls closer to the actual election on June 7, when Ontario voters typically start paying attention. But I certainly agree even now that anything is possible in the 2018 Ontario election. And the craziest thing about the stranger and stranger PC leadership race just may be that it will actually work for the party in the end! Maybe … (RW).

UPDATE FEB 21, 12:45 PM : At 8:11 AM this morning the CTV News site posted a Canadian Press article headlined “Decision on whether Brown can run in Ontario Tory leadership race expected today.”

“Genevieve Gualtieri and Patrick Brown — Facebook.”

At 10:16 AM Steve Paikin tweeted : “I’m hearing that @brownbarrie’s hour-long meeting last night with the Provincial Nominations Committee went very well. Reasonable explanations given to many questions. Expect Brown to be green-lit to run for @OntarioPCParty leader later today.”

At 10:25 AM Warren Kinsella tweeted : “@spaikin has the inside track with #ONPC machinations — and he’s right: they’re 3 to 2 in favour of letting the Patrick Clown Show continue.  Speaking as a Liberal, I welcome and applaud this wise decision.”

Meanwhile, the two main newspapers in the provincial capital city have now taken what appear to be warring views on the Patrick Brown issue (in keeping perhaps with Mr. Kinsella’s understanding of the broader partisan implications????). The (usually more conservative) Globe and Mail has published an editorial headlined “The PC Party should kick Patrick Brown out of its leadership race.” The (typically more liberal) Toronto Star has published an ostensible piece of reportage headlined “Patrick Brown’s girlfriend says it’s ‘wrong how media has treated him’ … Genevieve Gualtieri says he is one of the most ‘respectful, decent and caring’ individuals she knows.”

So … stay tuned … of course … (RW).

FINAL UPDATE FEB 21, 5 PM ET : The lovely Merella Fernandez on the CTV News channel is now reporting that “Ontario’s Tories green light Patrick Brown’s quest for leadership.” What else could they do?

Will this decision be as good for the Wynne Liberals as Warren Kinsella and others have implied? Who knows?

All I feel confident about myself is the argument that the June 7, 2018 Ontario election has become even crazier than it already seemed, say, this past summer. (And yes even crazier than BC, as Herb from Victoria in his wisdom suggests in his excellent February 19 comment below!)

As matters stand, it still looks to me like anyone can win (even the now civil-warring PC s who have been leading in so many polls for so long, yet again), depending on just how the various larger universes in which Canada’s most populous province lives its life evolve, over the next few months (March, April, May, and the first six days of June …) !