Steelcitygrit [in exile]

Ruminating on all things Canadian and political.


Friday, September 28, 2007

Boy - that Jamie Caroll. How out-of-touch can one be? I thought everyone knew that in this country - particularly when it comes to representation - there is a racial-cultural hierarchy. English and French need to be represented by English and French. The rest are allowed to enjoy the ride.

The McRoberts-Frulla-Duddle trifecta (as I conceive it) must be flaming mad. Oh - and so
they are.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

John Tory meets his star candidate

CBC Radio, earlier this afternoon.

(Contextually, Tory has promised open war on Aboriginal land-claims protesters. He was talked down from symbollically burning the Ipperwash Report at a news conference, but remains steadily intent upon creating a race crisis in Ontario. Or... at least one.)

CBC HOST: Let's go to Frontenac County. John is on the line. Hi John.

CALLER: Well, John, I've got this issue. You've got Randy Hillier running here in LFL&A [Lanark-Frontenac- Lennox and Addington] and when he was head of the LLA and that's the Lanark Landowners Association for the rest of the province. He closed down the 401 three times. Once in London, once in Thousand Islands then the QEW when he did his tractor day to Queen's Park there. He gets invited to be candidate for the PC party, Shawn Brant does it once and he's in jail for two months without bail. And I see a degree of hypocrisy there. One rule for the white guy and one rule for the natives. Can you explain that?

JOHN TORY: I, I, I could do my best because I could tell you this much.

CALLER: Without the double-speak.

JOHN TORY: There won't be any double-speak. When Mr. Hillier was the head of the landowners and I was the leader of the PC Party and he had expressed no interest or had not approached us about being a candidate. I can tell you that I telephoned him before his first protest at which time he said he was going to block the highway and encouraged him not to do that, urged him not to do that. I said, look you can have the same protest by the side of the highway and in fact you'll see more people because they'll go by you as opposed to blocking the highway off. And I have said consistently, when it comes to what I've said about the rule of law for people who are obstructing highways or anything else, the law should apply to everyone. And I specifically mentioned the day I first took that position and laid out one rule of law for everybody that it applied to groups of farmers. I mentioned that. Or groups of environmentalists. Or groups of Aboriginal people. And so I've been very very consistent in that and Mr. Hillier would tell you that, I've phoned him and I've communicated with him any time he was going to do any protest of that kind and said don't do that there are other ways to protest without blockading highways. With respect to how he became the candidate, in our Party, the PC party, the candidates are elected democratically at the riding level. So Mr. Hiller came forward and put his name in and I think there were three or four candidates who ran for the nomination and he won.

CALLER: You don't vet these people at all.

JOHN TORY: I'll be very truthful with you about that. No double-speak. They’re all vetted to see if there is anything in their background in terms of brushes with the law or any of those kinds of things that would disqualify them form being a candidate it's done before the nomination process so that you don't, it's not too late and we looked at his entire background and I can tell you this man has had no brushes with the law.

CALLER: Whoa, back up. Back up. He's been incarcerated before.

JOHN TORY: Look at that, if that is true, I'm not familiar with that but I mean I can tell you there was a check on his background. What was he incarcerated for?

CALLER: I believe in the Cornwall incident.

JOHN TORY: Well, that's news to me.

CBC HOST: I'm just going to intervene here. We do want to get to some other callers as well. Thank you John for your inquiry.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

a worthwhile evaluation of the debate

Here is another example of why Ian Urquart is a journalist. He doesn't evaluate who 'won' the debate like it's a sporting event (and inevitably concluding that - like every other debate - "no knockout blow was landed"). He doesn't express amazement that the incumbent premier was "put on the defensive" by his opposition, or that that same premier was "still standing" by the end. He doesn't congratulate John Tory for "personalizing" his positions by ignoring facts/trends and citing individuals he met who had had a raw deal.

He actually takes a look at what was said.

It's just good journalism for a change. Because this, on the other hand, is complete nonsense written around a neat picture.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

John Tory will clean your house

The Toronto Star asks the leaders of each major party to note their greatest achievements in politics.

McGuinty: saving public eduction. Fine.
Hampton: keeping Ontario Hydro public. Whatever.

But John Tory, sweaty with integrity, knocks it out of the park:

"Helping people."

Specifically, a woman with a messy house.
[On a purely personal level, he smacks a bit of Jack Layton, doesn't he?]

In fairness, he notes that he has only been in political life for "3 or 4 years" (unfortunately a bold-faced lie.)

Also, he doesn't intend to become a "career politician." In that, I think he's going to be tremendously successful.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Is this a Premier?

Overheard today some political commentators expressing surprise at John Tory's seeming lack of campaign instincts. Certainly there have been gaffes, both big (creationism in the classroom) and small (the linguistic innovation hereby dubbed Sprench).

[Come to think of it, the two cancel eachother out in some ways. If we are all to learn in separate ethnic enclaves, at least we can share in one mega amalgum language.]

Yes, there have been mistakes - but who's surprised? How quickly we forget Canada's first introduction to Mr. Integrity and Leadership. He was, of course, defending the use of that picture the right. In fact, he was just about the only person in the hallowed federal PC class of '93 who didn't feel any apology was necessary.

[Imagine if Kim Campbell had taken his advice and stood firm? What a disaster that election could've been.]

To paraphrase, is this a Premier?

Vacuousity of the Ontario NDP

Howard Hampton predictably kicks off his campaign in Hamilton today, but I've got my hands full with the shrill Dippers in and around my new Toronto abode. There's a lot wrong with the Ontario NDP, but let's start with the petty stuff:

It is deeply embarrassing the way that a number of Dippers have endeavoured to make the MPP wage hike a defining issue of the new campaign. This intention is made pretty clear in any campaign speech I've heard so far. How stupid do they think Ontarians are?

On a practical level, the hike amounted to about $230 000. This is a blip in the finance of Canada’s biggest province. Single school playgrounds received more.

Then there are the principled implications. An independent body instructed the government that MPPs were underpaid, comparative to other legislators in the country. The government accepted the pay raise suggested to them.

And the NDP cries that there has been some ethical violation? Funny that – ‘equal work for equal pay’ sounds to me like an important principle of the labour movement. In fact - consciously or not - the NDP has adopted exactly the line that management often uses in disputes with unions: “a pay raise is unacceptable, because someone somewhere is paid less than you!”

To top it all, the silk-stocking dilettantes make a showy public display of donating their extra money to charity. I vaguely recall something in the Bible about that... As long as they don’t expect any rewards in heaven. [Whoops! - here I go scripting John Tory's political defence for him.]

This failed stab at populism only demonstrates how out of touch the NDP really is. I didn't get a 22% raise in wage. I would've liked one. But Ontarians face real problems. Let’s talk about those.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Liberals: sharpen religious schools message

Further to my previous post, I just caught Dalton McGuinty on The Agenda. While generally quite good, he did evade answering directly why Catholics deserve publicly-funded separate schools while others do not. Steve Paikin pressed him on the issue, and not unfairly.

There's no reason to duck this question. If I were to direct the Premier's message, I would suggest that we be very plain. The McGuinty government wasn't the first to fund Catholic schools, and doesn't necessarily love it, but it is exceptionally difficult to take the well-established system apart without a major costs to current students and teachers. The question is what direction we ought to be moving, and the Liberal direction is towards an inclusive, pluralistic, wholly-public system.

Not a threat on the existing Catholic schools system, but a reasonable response.

don't call it a comeback, (plus public funding for illiberal institutions!)

I'm now exiled in the Big Smoke, at least for a little while. Back to blogging after a long long hiatus, because it's election season and the getting's good.

First things first, the justifiably-deplored religious schools strategy of the Tories.

A year ago almost exactly, Janice Stein addressed similar issues in a dynamite article for the Literary Review. She asks the appropriate questions, of state-religion relationships already in place:

Women in Canada are guaranteed equal treatment and an equal voice in the determination of our shared vision of the common good. We respect rights and we respect diversity, but at times the two compete. How do we mediate these disputes? What to do about private religious schools, for example, that meet government criteria by teaching the official curriculum but segregate women in separate classrooms? Or segregate women in religious worship?...

These religious institutions that systemically discriminate against women often have legal standing and are therefore recognized, at least implicitly, by governments. How can we in Canada, in the name of religious freedom, continue furtively and silently to sanction this kind of discrimination?

She warns about the inadvertent effects of the sort of "shallow multiculturalism" which Tory espouses: community does not necessarily learn about another and then multiculturalism can have perverse effects. It can strengthen the boundaries around each community and, in so doing, help to seal one community off from another. A Home Office report, issued in England after riots broke out in three northern industrial towns in 2001, found “separate educational arrangements, community and voluntary bodies, employment, places of worship, language, social and cultural networks,” producing living arrangements that “do not seem to touch at any point.” Trevor Philips, chair of the Commission for Racial Equality, warned recently that much of Britain was “sleepwalking its way toward segregation.”