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 …) !

On the “speculative play King Charles III” in Toronto .. and the future of the British monarchy in Canada

Posted: February 13th, 2018 | No Comments »

Jenna Coleman as Queen Victoria, who allegedly chose Ottawa — “the last lumber village before the North Pole” — as the capital of Canada.

As an altogether confirmed Canadian republican (not at all the same as an American Republican of course, especially today), I ordinarily do my best to ignore the British monarchy.

But two contemporary media events have slightly increased my interest in the subject. The first is Harry Windsor’s forthcoming marriage to the mixed-race (and unquestionably hot) Meghan Markle, from Black Beverly Hills in Los Angeles, CA.

The second is the current PBS/ITV Sunday night TV series, Victoria — in which the long-reigning Queen who theoretically presided over the creation of today’s Canadian confederation in 1867 is played by the (also unquestionably hot) “Blackpool beauty” Jenna Coleman.

(And I note that last night my TV-viewing partner and I finally watched Season 2,  Episode 5, in which “feeling suffocated by the weight of the crown, Victoria escapes with her court to the Scottish Highlands.” Apparently based in no small part on “Queen Victoria’s actual diary entries from a 1844 royal visit to Scotland’s Blair Castle,” it is — whatever your political views — a brilliant piece of dramatic writing and performing.)

It was in some similar mood that I encountered a piece posted on the Toronto Star website this past Friday, headlined : “These actors are royals in the play King Charles III. Here’s what they think about the monarchy … The Star asked David Schurmann, a.k.a. Charles, and his cast mates why the royals fascinate us so and whether they support the monarchy.”

The piece was indirectly helping to publicize David Mirvish’s (and Joel Greenberg’s) Toronto production of Michael Bartlett’s “speculative play King Charles III.”

(With Canadian resident actors — following “sold-out runs in London’s West End and on Broadway” in New York. The Toronto production opened this past Saturday, February 10.)

As an altogether confirmed Canadian republican I was especially struck by the British monarchy comments of David Schurmann (who plays the speculative King Charles in the Toronto production) and Wade Bogert-O’Brien (who plays an equally speculative Prince Harry).

Schurmann, in his earlier 70s, was born and raised in England but then moved to Canada, and now lives in the Toronto neighbourhood of Parkdale. He explained his view of the British monarchy today to Toronto Star Entertainment Reporter Bruce Demara :

Jenna Coleman in a real-life outfit that Queen Victoria would probably not be too amused by. Maybe ...?

“I think it works for the Brits definitely but I think for the rest of us, do we really need a monarch in Canada or Australia or the rest of the Commonwealth? I think the idea of the Commonwealth is very good. I support a monarchy for Britain, but I think the rest of us should say, ‘Bye, bye.’ I think everyone who supposedly has the Queen as their head of state, there should be a referendum everywhere and ask, ‘Do we actually want to maintain this?’”

Wade Bogert-O’Brien is much younger than David Schurmann — now in his early 30s, it seems. He spent much of his youth in Ottawa, and then went to theatre school at George Brown College in Toronto. His view of the monarchy is broadly similar to Schurmann’s, with a few nuances :

“When I really think about it, I am on principle opposed to a hereditary monarch being the head of state of a country. I just don’t think it’s justifiable for our head of state to be an inherited position, even if the title is essentially a symbolic one. So no, I guess I don’t support the continued existence of the monarchy. I don’t really know how you would get rid of it, and it probably won’t happen any time soon since people don’t really seem to care that much, but in my ideal world the monarchy would be gradually phased out through a series of modest reforms.”

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I remember the crisis in Ontario politics while escaping “Mon pays ce n’est pas un pays, c’est l’hiver”

Posted: February 1st, 2018 | No Comments »

By Graeme MacKay, Hamilton Spectator — October 30, 2014.

FEBRUARY 1, 2018, 2 AM ET. Like others who hang out at the office in the old streetcar suburbs of the provincial capital city, tomorrow I am off on a brief respite from the snows of perfidious Ontario in the exotic Caribbean. (We are back the week of February 12.)

Like still others again, I’ve become suddenly obsessed by the dramatic surprise gurglings of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party, that began this past Wednesday, January 24, and came to an initial conclusion on what is now yesterday, Wednesday, January 31.

(And for deeper background on the issue see my earlier posts on this site : “Who will benefit most from Patrick Brown’s sudden downfall as Ontario Progressive Conservative leader?” ; and “Sunday Bloody Sunday with the Ontario Progressive Conservatives.”)

Just before packing for the Caribbean, I can’t resist quickly jotting down my own understandings of the current state of the art, based on gleanings from mainstream and related media and a few brief conversations with seasoned observers of Ontario government and politics, at Queen’s Park and elsewhere.

To start with, in the wake of a key PC party executive meeting on the evening of January 31, at 10:03 PM the Toronto Star’s Queen’s Park Bureau Chief Robert Benzie tweeted : “BREAKING: @OntarioPCParty will announce new leader March 10. Voting through secure remote electronic balloting March 2-8. $750K spending limit. $75K candidate entry fee plus $25K deposit plus $25K membership list access fee.”

Further details appear in a piece by Benzie and his colleague Rob Ferguson on the Star website :    “Tories aim for March leadership contest despite party chaos after Brown scandal … Interim leader Vic Fedeli’s office is investigating the party’s list of members and the party is also determining the damage caused by Chinese hackers who accessed the party’s internal database.”

More exactly, in preparation for voting by the broad party membership through secure remote electronic balloting, March 2-8, “Fedeli’s office is investigating the members’ list.” Former party leader Patrick “Brown claimed there were 200,000 people in the party, but sources say the actual number is closer to 75,000.”

Karen Howlett’s parallel report in the Globe and Mail — “Ontario PCs to pick new leader March 10” — suggests the current state of the leadership race : “Former Toronto councillor Doug Ford is the only contender so far. Caroline Mulroney, daughter of former prime minister Brian Mulroney, and Rod Phillips, the former head of Postmedia News, have been mentioned as possible candidates …” [UPDATE FEB 1, 3:35 PMThe admirable, well-informed Don Martin  has just tweeted : “Reports confirm it will be Caroline Mulroney verses Christine Elliott for the Ontario PC leadership (plus Doug Ford). I'm kinda thinking Premier Kathleen Wynne should be even more nervous now.” I'm guessing the premier has already had a lot of practice being nervous about the 2018 Ontario election, and may even know how to deal with it. And it's at least not yet entirely clear to me that Ms Mulroney and Ms Elliott will prove that strong as candidates.]

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Sunday Bloody Sunday with the Ontario Progressive Conservatives

Posted: January 29th, 2018 | No Comments »

Doug Ford and friendly supporter, back when it was still warm ...

GANATSEKWYAGON, ON. MONDAY, JANUARY 29, 2018. 5 PM ET. [UPDATED JAN 30]. It may still be, as some wise observers have suggested, that the Ontario Progressive Conservatives — now disentangled from the wobbly leadership of Patrick Brown — will go on to handily win a majority government in the June 7 provincial election.

(As some opinion polls have been predicting for quite a while now, more or less.)

At the same time, contemplating what has happened this past weekend to the political organization that once ruled Ontario for 42 uninterrupted years (1943–1985), it is also possible to envision various quite different scenarios.

When even one of the new leadership candidates declares he is “deeply troubled by what I have seen recently unfolding within the PC Party … as it falls into complete disarray,” even objective observers start to wonder?  (Especially if that candidate is Doug Ford.)

Former Ontario PC party president Rick Dykstra, back when he was federal MP for the St. Catharines area.

As just the leading case in point, eg, now on the Monday morning after the Toronto Star is telling us that while Doug Ford “plans to hold a rally Saturday night at the Toronto Congress Centre, it remains to be seen whether there will actually be a Conservative leadership contest.”

The report goes on : “Sources told the Star that the party executive will be meeting again this week amid a push for some sober second thought on the wisdom of holding a leadership race with a provincial election set for June 7 and the party in disarray.” [UPDATE JAN 30, 11 PM : The Toronto Star is most recently reporting :  “It is now a virtual certainty that a leadership election will be held before March 24 and as early as March 10.”]

The Ontario PC disarray no doubt began innocently enough (wink, wink — and almost as what seemed to be a clever internal plot?) with the reluctant resignation of party leader Patrick Brown himself in the middle of last week, “after CTV revealed alleged sexual impropriety.”

The trouble deepened profoundly when party president Rick Dykstra “resigned suddenly Sunday evening” over similar allegations of improper behaviour, about to be published by Maclean’s.

[UPDATE JAN 30, 12 Noon : Vic Fedeli “says he will no longer seek permanent leadership of the Ontario PC Party.” !!!!]

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Who will benefit most from Patrick Brown’s sudden downfall as Ontario Progressive Conservative leader?

Posted: January 26th, 2018 | No Comments »

“Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown leaves Queen's Park after a press conference ... Wednesday, January 24, 2018. AARON VINCENT ELKAIM/THE CANADIAN PRESS.”

TORONTO BEACHES, JANUARY 26, 2018, 2:30 AM ET. [UPDATED 1:40, 5:20, 7:00 PM, JAN 27, 12:30PM]. What are we mere voters in Ontario provincial elections to make of such headlines as : “Two women accuse Patrick Brown of sexual misconduct” ; and “Tories looking for new leader after Patrick Brown sex scandal”?

For starters, following events like this on Twitter (along with newspapers, radio, and TV as in days of yore) certainly brings extra data.

Personally, I like to think I watch Ontario politics fairly closely — from the standpoint of a mere voter at any rate (with one or two friends closer to the front lines). But when I suddenly heard about now former Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Patrick Brown’s dramatic new troubles on TV Wednesday night (January 24) I was altogether surprised.

Picking up the story on Twitter suggested that at least some observers of Ontario politics were better prepared.  As early as 10:02 PM, January 24 lynn @lynnvictoriaaaa reported : “Those of us from #Barrie [Mr. Brown’s current home town] know exactly what Patrick Brown is like, so unfortunately, this is not shocking at all.”

At 11:06 PM victoria delray @vicdelrayy replied : “I was going to say, he has always been openly scummy with extremely young (often underaged girls) …  Im glad this is finally coming to light.”

At 11:27 PM Laurie  @CndnSheepdog added : “We’re hearing this Patrick Brown thing was an open secret.  I would like to hear from all the men who told him to stop, all the men who tried to stop him.”

(For “Who benefits?”, “Can PC s move fast enough?”, “Other Options?”, “Fairness for Patrick Brown?”, click on “Read the rest of this page” and/or scroll below! UPDATE JAN 27 : Note as well that there is now an instant Wikipedia article on the penultimate outcome of all this — a fresh Ontario PC leadership election in which all party members can participate on March 24. See “Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario leadership election, 2018.” )

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“And, behold, six men came from the way of the higher gate, which lieth toward the north” : Democracy in US & Canada 2018

Posted: January 21st, 2018 | No Comments »


A new painting by Toronto artist Michael Seward : “on the lookout for other life forms in the universe, if you’re out there would you please answer!”

[UPDATED JAN 23]. Is anyone surprised that there is a US federal government “shutdown” on the anniversary of Donald Trump’s first year in office?

If you actually are interested, try : “On Trump’s First Anniversary, a Government Shutdown” by John Cassidy in The New Yorker ; and “U.S. House could accept bill extending government funding for 3 weeks” from Thomson Reuters. [UPDATE : Happily enough it didn't last too long. See, eg, this Thomson Reuters report — “Trump signs spending bill, ending US government shutdown ... Short-term funding deal will keep the lights on through Feb. 8.” And see this worthy editorial from the Chicago Tribune :  "Shut down this shutdown habit." ]

Some argue that “the trouble isn’t just what the Trumpists may yet do; it is what they are doing now. American history has already been altered by their actions … in ways that will not be easy to rehabilitate” (Adam Gopnik in The New Yorker).

Reading an excellent report in The Washington Post from late last year (“How the Trump era is changing the federal bureaucracy” by Lisa Rein and Andrew Ba Tran) at least makes me wonder  about Adam Gopnik’s evaluation:

Women’s march in Walnut Creek, California (birthplace of one of author’s grandchildren) January 20, 2018.

“By the end of September [2017], the federal government had 1.94 million permanent workers, down nearly 16,000 overall since the beginning of the year … In the first nine months of 2009, Obama’s first year in office, the government added 68,000 permanent employees, growing to 1.84 million …

“The relatively small net decrease under Trump so far masks what has been a substantial drop-off in staffing at certain agencies.”


Personally, I am glad the family I have in the USA today lives in California.

See an interesting piece by David Siders in Politico Magazine this past November 2017 : “Jerry Brown, President of the Independent Republic of California … As he crusades across Europe, the governor is acting like the leader of a sovereign country—an alternative to the United States in the Trump era.”


Some Pew Research Center data from this past spring, assembled by the excellent analysts at Statista Charts, asked citizens from various countries :“How satisfied are you with the way democracy is working in your country?

On this reckoning Canada finishes in third place, with 70% of respondents saying they are satisfied with how their democracy is working today — behind India (79%) and Germany (73%).

Not surprisingly again, only 46% of US respondents said they were satisfied with their democracy at the moment.

More recently, Aaron Wherry on the CBC News site was opining “Trudeau goes again to the people, but spare a thought for the Ottawa bubble … ‘Doing open town halls … is at the heart of what a democracy should be,’ PM says.”

My own quick and dirty reaction to “spare a thought for the Ottawa bubble” is that if current debates in parliament were interesting they would capture public attention. But it is not interesting to watch a lot of even impressive sophomoric bullying about Justin Trudeau’s vacation on the Aga Khan’s private island. (The “Aga What?” is what many among we the Canadian people will say. And even some of us without a lot of money will have our own private islands on a pristine northern lake.)

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How Warren, Olbermann, Floethe, and Cox can help us understand Wolff’s crazy new book on the Trump White House

Posted: January 7th, 2018 | No Comments »

Michael Wolff with girlfriend Victoria Floethe at a book release party a few years ago — for a different book. PHOTO: COURTESY OF PATRICK MCMULLAN COMPANY.

TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA. JANUARY 7, 2018. 1:30 AM. Sometimes it is hard to resist the pure soap opera that American politics has become in the age of Donald Trump, even if you live far away in the northern woods.

Two contributions to the latest bout of near-serious madness induced by the publication of Michael Wolff’s alleged tell-all tale of the Trump White House, Fire and Fury, have seemed to me especially helpful.

The first is Keith Olbermann’s retweet of the President’s January 6/7:19–7:30 AM response to what some have taken as the main thrust of Wolff’s book — that there are serious reasons to doubt Donald Trump’s “mental stability.”

Olbermann reproduces the three presidential tweets that climax with Donald Trump’s endorsement of himself as a “genius … and a very stable genius at that!” —  prefaced by Olbermann’s own reflection : “I find it helps if you hear these as if they were being spoken by a 15-year old Valley Girl in 1983.”

Of course Keith Olbermann is exactly right. But note as well that Donald Trump is the kind of irrationally half-clever and cunning 15-year old Valley Girl who does attract passionate admirers.

I’m starting to think that it may finally take something almost as irrational as Donald Trump to bring Donald Trump down. (Just demonstrating again and again how irrational he is, as in so much of the mainstream media these days, doesn’t seem to be working … so far at any rate.)

Meanwhile, what about Michael Wolff’s new book itself? Does it just confirm what has long been known about the Trump White House and the man at the top?

Some see the 1995 movie “Clueless” as an archetypal study of the genre. Others more aptly urge “A real Valley girl would never be a virgin who can’t drive.” Just like Donald Trump!

Here my second source of helpful commentary is a string (thread?) of tweets from Ana Marie Cox, as she has read through Fire and Fury off and on. (“Ok I now must make dinner …. And I’m back. It’s – 8 outside but I’ve got hot coffee.”)

I found almost everything Ms Cox points to in Michael Wolff’s book interesting. From a critical angle she notes on one page : “The sentence BEFORE the highlighted sentence is garbled nonsense trailing after around one keen insight … which is kind of a pattern in the book.”

She also acknowledges that “Wolff is compulsively readable, I will give him that. The only hitches are the clear editing errors and typos. They got this one out the door without anyone looking at it twice.”

(In a rush to publish before too many presidential lawsuits or other forms of “injunction preventing publication” were in motion. Even if, in fact of course : “There’s No Way Trump Can Stop Wolff From Publishing His Book.” Quite that kind of thing at any rate still hasn’t happened yet!)

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