05.14.2011 08:33 AM

Up at the lake: fed/prov, politics, big theories,etc.

My Mom and youngest son and me are up at the lake. It’s rainy, so I read Ms. Hebert.

I don’t understand her column, basically. Rob Ford won, for example, because John Tory didn’t run. That’s it. If John had won, what would be left of her theory?

Sometimes it’s that simple: it’s personality-driven. It isn’t about big themes and stuff.

Dalton McGuinty is going to win – I’m quietly confident about that, too. He’s a regular family guy; his main opponent is a smirking, fibbing frat boy.  If you got stuck in the snow one morning, you can picture McGuinty coming over with a shovel to help out.  The other guy? He’s the guy the neighbours don’t like. He’d drive by in his Hummer, listening to Nickelback.

People mainly vote for the person who they think most understands their lives.  That’s it.

Back to clean-up.  Have a good one.


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    Cath says:

    I think that “The Lopinski Theorum” with provincial modification will pan out in Ontario come October.

    No party can take anything for granted this time. Nothing, zip, zero, zilch.

    Each of the provincial Liberals, Conservatives and NDP are going to be fighting a two-front contest. If you didn’t see Horwath on TVO this past week – you seriously should.
    I’m a conservative but really liked what she was saying and how she was saying – that should scare the crap out of both the Libs. and PCs – it sure does me.

    Even rainy at the cottage sounds mint!

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    Phil in London says:

    I just don’t see that nice guy thing with Dalton anymore. He’s become very smug since Majority 2 was won. Maybe at one time he was a HOAG but there are a lot of people mad as hell about the HST and the green energy in someone else’s back yard. He’s become the guy you can’t trust. He has been relatively clean but the e-health and other mismanaged money files are getting to people as well. The change is as good as a rest issue will be a deciding factor in October, unless of course it isn’t a issue.

    I think the biggest strike against the liberals is incumbency, i.e. a struggling economy, the shift to have not status, and the mini but multiple scandal files. the biggest strike against the NDP is still Bob Rae and the biggest strike against Tim Hudak? That’s the one yet to be defined in my mind. Not saying it isn’t out there but so far there isn’t a big strike against him. You could use the Harris years except for the fact Rob Ford and the Federal Conservative sweep don’t make me think people are all that anti Mike anymore.

    He just looks like a fellow that’s done okay he doesn’t look scary unless you are a green energy advocate or believe there is nothing wrong with the health system.

    There is no divided vote here in Ontario like Chretien was able to steer through. There are clear choices of right of Center PCs and left of Center NDP. That might not spell defeat for McGuinty’s Liberals but I’d be worried all the same.

    If he does win it may not be that majority he’s had God forbid someone else wins a sweeping mandate on a protest vote. A minority would be a good thing for Ontario. I’m not talking a string of three in a row like the feds but a minority for either opposition party, and a couple years out a second vote on that party’s record may be an end to the Liberal reign here.

    In recent memory the only party ever dominant in Ontario was the Bill Davis PCs. Since his departure the colours have changed fairly regularly and I think this is going to happen again this time. It’s just a matter that though they have done an okay job, no-one outside liberal ranks is feeling particulary better off after 8 McGuinty years unchallenged.

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      Dave says:

      I have never once had an in-person conversation with anyone in Ontario who was mad at all, let alone mad as hell, about the HST.

      BC? Yes. Bunch of frothing crazies in BC. Went to get a haircut. Told them I was from Ontario. “Do you have the HST there? Let me tell you how much we hate the HST.” Froth froth froth. In the coffee shops, in the malls, all froth.

      But not one person in Ontario, NOT ONE, has ever engaged me in conversation in real-life about the HST.

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        Craig Chamberlain says:

        Careful, Dave. I received some mass-circulation e-mails about the HST.

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          Craig Chamberlain says:

          (From people I know.)

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    Matt says:

    If political pundits were doctors, they’d all be sued for malpractice. Your HOAG theory still makes the most sense to me. The problem is, ordinary Canadians have a different view of what makes a politician a hell of a guy/gal than the inside-Ottawa, naval-gazing media.

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    Cameron Prymak says:

    ‘Throw the bums’ out mentality rules today.

    I wonder if one of the elephants in the Quebec room is the lack of federal Liberal apology for sponsorship. Clean the slate, move on. Voters’ memories are long, Liberal history in Quebec is complicated.

    I like Dalton, will vote for him again, though worry that his policy decisions like electricity rates, haven’t got the public consultation and communication they deserve. We’re back to being defined by the opposition.

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      myntje says:

      People have long memories. The elephant in the western Canada room is the National Energy Program that was forced on this part of the country in the early eighties by Pierre Trudeau, a man still considered a god by the Liberal Party today. We remember and there hasn’t been a Liberal win in Alberta since. Actually, I believe there hasn’t been a Liberal win in the province since 1968, 43 long years ago.

      When people lose their jobs, their savings, their businesses and, worse, their homes, because of a disastrous political decision based on faulty economics and ideaology it becomes the stuff of legends and is, obviously, passed down the generations. It’s like “Remember the Alamo”.

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    Bill M. says:

    “Sometimes it’s that simple: it’s personality-driven. It isn’t about big themes and stuff.”

    Pretty much explains Jack Layton’s recent Quebec romp.

    But New Coke was popular for a couple of weeks too.

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    Bill M. says:

    “An attraction to populism rather than an ideological swing to the right may have tilted the balance in both outcomes. But the fact remains that twice over a six-month period, a significant section of the Toronto electorate embraced a less elite-driven less activist approach to governance.”


    Fair enough in terms of getting elected but populism doesn’t balance budgets. Ford hasn’t nor has Harper.

    Being anti elite (whatever the F that means since I’d rather have elite athletes, special forces or anyone elite on my side any day) is one thing but populists and demagogues have only held back progress over time.

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      JenS says:

      I have to wonder, though, how much of a role promises re paying down deficits or paying off debts plays in a voter’s decision-making. Unfortunate as it is, people my age and younger seem to have no difficulty running up debt they have no real plan for paying off, and spending more than they make. So, maybe focusing on this as a vote-getter isn’t the right focus (even if you will focus on it as policy.)

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        JenS says:

        Oh, and don’t get me wrong: I DO think it’s good policy. But good policy and good politics are just radically different animals these days, it seems. So, I would suggest it play greater role on the policy side and lesser role on the getting elected side.

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    james Smith says:

    Sitting here waiting for the gals to get ready so we can go shopping @ my old Brentwood Calgary Co-op may I just second your post? Despite what folks may say, they vote with their emotions not with their intellect. You’re point on Rob Ford is right on,furthermore even if DoNuth’n Dave had run for re-election, the Fords would be back running their city supported sign shop.
    Part of the reason Ontario & Ottawa tend to have different parties in charge is the brain drain. Tories get kicked to the curb @ Queens Park, smart people are unemployed, & they get jobs in Ottawa, see some success, this attracts more smart people. Grits fall apart in Ottawa, Queens Park starts calling.
    Some peeps in Ontario, people I spoke to on the doors in the past few weeks who have voted Red, voted Blue because they didn’t want the Dippers in charge. Where Ms H may be right is there is a general negative vibe about Ontario’s best Premier in 50 years. This is not scientific, just my experience speaking to people on the doors in the past municipal campaign & this past federal campaign. The opportunity we have is the lack of knowledge peeps have about the alternatives.

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      Pete says:

      james, the same thing happened in Oakville. Red voters stated home in 2008 because of the dion effect but this time voted blue after the orange surge became evident. terence young is a completely useless waste of time but coasted on Mr. angry’s coattails and the orange surge. all of this makes me wonder if we should not have a specific vote for PM and different votes for the riding contestants. I understand wha tthat means but when one sees what happened in all those Quebec ridings and here in oakville it makes you wonder about first past the post party politics

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        james Smith says:

        Pete, I’m committed to working in Burlie, but have told Kevin I will do some doors with him. Perhaps we’ll get to compare notes on Kevin Flynn’s campaign. I8-)

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    Tim says:

    I would have a lot more respect for Hudak if he came out and said that Flaherty betrayed the PCPO by helping to bring in the whole HST thing and by running two highly divissive leadership campaigns earlier in the decade carnival wheel in all even though it would cause a huge civil war inside the conservatives. I also have to note that Sun Media still seems rather unenthusiastic about Harper’s third mandate even critising that Harper and Clement are somehow taking the heat off of McGuinty on gas prices. I wonder if there was another “betrayal” over the whole Quebec City arena thing.

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    Pat Heron says:

    You don’t know Hebert Gord. She’s a Franco-Ontarien, born in Ottawa, lived in Toronto, knows more about Federal politics and provincial politics than most pundits. She’s not always right, but she sure isn’t always wrong.

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    AmandaM says:

    Warren, you know how I feel about the Premier. I am a Dee-Mic-Gee (DMcG, it’s my pet name for him. I don’t think he knows) true believer. I do think most people are, at least, aware that he does what he believes to be right in a series of difficult and changing circumstances.

    We’ve talked about this in brief: In all seriousness, if the team doesn’t figure out right quick how to communicate effectively then we’re sunk.

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    CQ says:

    While I’m not impressed by Hudak either, McGuinty looks like he’d drive by in his Audi, listening to Michael Buble. So my expectation is still a majority for the Liberals next fall.

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    Craig Chamberlain says:

    Change came to Metro Toronto’s City Hall. Change came to the House of Commons. Change will come to Queen’s Park.

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      Pete says:

      No change came to the HOC.. we get more of the same disasterous government with large deficits and spending on their friends.

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        Craig Chamberlain says:

        Change came to the House. Experience, and professional expertise was lost in the party leader popularity contest.

        I don’t know why the Liberals didn’t make lemonade with the attack ads and have Ignatieff say the words, “my team” regarding everything he spoke about. To my thinking, a big part of Chretien’s success was his leadership style that allowed him to shift some of the attention to not just him as a Party of One — he always seemed to be talking about his TEAM.

        Talking about the Liberal team more would have been helped to offset the negative public opinion of Ignatieff and would have defined in technicolor the true differences between the Party of One (1.0: Harper) and the Party of One (1.2: Layton).

        We had the best team and we should have been saying that!!!

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    Craig Chamberlain says:

    From the CBC:

    Milliken stepped down after more than 20 years as a Liberal member of Parliament and a decade at the helm of the House.

    As the longest serving Speaker in Canada’s history, he has some ideas on how to make Parliament work better. Right now, he said, the leaders of all parties wield too much authority — over everything from which MPs sit on committees to what is said in question period.

    “And if your views aren’t in accordance with the leader’s position on an issue, you will not be speaking on that issue in the House and you won’t be asking questions on that issue in the House,” Milliken said, in the interview broadcast Saturday on CBC Radio’s The House.

    >>>He proposed giving party caucuses more say in such matters and more say in choosing party leaders.

    >>>He also said that parties should not be so fixated on unity, and that it’s OK if differing opinions are made public.


    (Runs counter to what we would be led to believe is effective leadership from the Con ads.)

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      Randy says:

      This always chafes me… Not only in politics, but in “real life” as well. Here’s (by all accounts) a decent enough gentleman, so it’s nothing personal. Why didn’t he make these statements when he actually had the chance to affect change? Why bother making them after the fact? It’s like he kept his opinion to himself for more than 20 years, and as soon as he leaves he says this stuff… It reminds me of retired military leaders. As soon as they retire they go to the media gravy train and start talking about the way the military system has to change. Yet while they were in charge, they did nothing to affect change. It’s always difficult to bring up an opposing view from the inside, but you know, it’s called “doing what’s right”. I agree with what Mr Milliken said, however would have carried much more weight if he had said it while he was still an MP. Maybe he did say it behind closed doors, I’ll obviously never know.

      Having said that, have a great weekend, it’s really gorgeous out today.

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        Craig Chamberlain says:

        Milliken’s comments stand out above others because of his extensive experience as Speaker of the House and the broad esteem he enjoyed among MPs, especially during a rocky time for Parliament.

        And military personnel (actively serving) should not be politicians — publicly.

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    Michael says:

    I have not read the column in question, but I find Herbert’s analysis to be all over the place and sometimes contradictory.

    A recent example is the federal election. She was on the CBC’s “At Issue” panel, and noted that the Liberals were poised to make a comeback in Quebec until Bob Rae came out in favour of keeping troops in Afganistan. According to her, after that voters in Quebec turned to the NDP because of their policy of immediate withdrawl. In her columns since the election, she has been writing about how the NDP are now taking root in Quebec and surplanted the Liberals as the federalist party of choice.

    Which is it?

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    Michael says:

    And sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

    Last time Ontario voters had a conservative (less gov’t, less spending) provincial government, Jean Chretien swept all but one riding federally.

    The Ford mayoral win was not part of any trend towards the right, or more conservative gov’t. For years he has been hammering away at how much “gravy” was at city hall. The office budgets of city councillors made an easy to understand target. Councillors using their office budget to throw themselves going away parties, to sponsor sports teams, to take French lessons and to buy bunny suits, just didn’t sit right with taxpayers. Add to that that most people think that city employees are over paid and under worked, and youhave a “populist uprising.” Ford was just the right guy in the right place at the right time.

    Are the results of the federal election an indication of some trend? I don’t think so. Harper and the Conservatives have been camaigning for the last five years. They just plain campaigned circles around Iggy and the Liberals. Harper is a guy that has increased govt spending, a guy that has increased the size of the civil service. Even if he has campaigned from the right, he has done a brilliant job of governing from the left.

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    Andrew Opala says:

    I’ve followed your blog, been mesmerized by your TV appearances, and even underlined a few thoughts in a couple of your books (that I actually paid for). But this post is perhaps the most simply profound thing you have ever said.

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    RN200 says:

    LOL – profound. Dalton’s gonna get smoked. He’s raped Ontario with lies and taxes and fees for far too long.


    It all began with “No new taxes. BTW here’s a new provinicial health fee.” and has never stopped.

    I love it when blogs like this act like the Toronto Star – back Smitherman, back Jack, back the loser. Be as confident as you want.

    I’m looking forward to the trifecta in October.

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      Mandos says:

      Y’all have lots to give—and I say this as someone who is, um, not that much of a Dalton fan. There may not be more that you *want* to give, but then, who does? Someone else can always pay for civilization…

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    myntje says:

    Chantal Hebert is among the brightest commentators this country has. And she’s not so married to one party that she can’t make an objective assessment of an issue. She’s fair, which is more than can be said for most columnists.

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    Perspective says:

    Justi Trudeau is the Sarah Palin of the fed Libs.

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      Michael says:

      What does that have to do with the price of tea in China?

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    Sarah says:

    Premier Dad is on his way out. Ontario has become an embarrassment under his leadership. Now a have-not province, the economic centre of Canada has shifted out of Ontario, he has set the province back for a generation.

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      Michael says:

      How would things be any different under anyone else’s stewardship? What policies would the Conservatives or NDP put in place that would change Ontario’s “have-not” status?

      The events that pushed Ontario into “have-not” staus are global in nature and beyond the control of the premier. The manufacturing sector, and the auto industry in particular are the foundation of the Ontario economy. They were what made Ontario the economic engine of Canada. With the industrialization of Asia and the willingness of Asian worker’s to work for a fraction of what worker’s are paid in Ontario, is it a wonder that manufacturing jobs have gone to Asia? What do you suggest the premier of Ontario do? Throw out all of our health and safety regulations, and our environmental regulations, so that we can compete with China?

      Or perhaps you would have the premeir invest in new industries and try to nuture them? Oh hold on a second, McGuinty has done that.

      How is it McGuinty’s fault that the economic centre of Canada has shifted? Canada has become a resource based economy. The resources that the world wants (mainly oil) happen to be located in Western Canada. (with all due respect to our friends in Nfld). Are you suggesting it is McGuinty’s fault for there not being any oil under Ontario?

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        Mandos says:

        And that is the problem. Canada is a petro-state. Efforts to avoid this fate have been inevitably stymied. We must now find a way to spread the love of this natural welfare around, because all that’s left is for most of Canada is to become what Alberta is: natural welfare queens.

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        Sarah says:

        So your argument is, ‘yes, things have tanked under Premier Dad, but others would have also screwed up’?

        That;s a bit sad, I’m afraid. It’s time for a change. McGuinty’s gross mismanagement of the Ontario economy and complete lack of an economic strategy are killing Canada’s once great economic engine. I left Ontario after McGuinty’s first big lie of no taxes – he added $1,800 per year on my family though the Health tax. What happened to the monies from that tax increase? Well according to the Provincial Auditor general, over $1 billion of it was wasted by McGuinty. It’s time for Canada’s worst premier to go.

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    Darcy Stober says:

    Warren….I like your site and your columns although I disagree with you more often than I agree. When it comes to Dalton McGuinty…..the thought of him winning a third term honestly makes me sick to my stomach. Is he a nice guy…probably. That being said….he is an absolute disaster of a Premier leading a train wreck of a government. I simply cannot stand his arrogrant “I know better than you” attitude. Sorry Dalton…..you don’t know better than I do how to raise my family, pay my bills, and live in my shoes. Dalton needs to come out of his well scripted stage managed life…he has absolutely no concept as to the damage his policies have done to Ontario…..it will take decades to undo. I would absolutely take a gamble with Tim Hudak as opposed to another four years with Premier Idiot. Warren…I think you’re wrong on the election forecast….I think he will get his rear end handed to him on a platter. When I’m at work and I hear people talk about Dalton there is such palpable hate for the guy (and I’m from Ottawa…his home town) that I cannot imagine him getting re-elected. I hope I’m right…..

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      Sarah says:


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    AmandaM says:

    Everyone has their thing they believe in, I suppose. It just continues to astound me that some of us don’t seem to understand that in order to have what we have, and to progress, we have to pay the price. Civilization, and more specifically the benefits of Western Liberal Democracy, has to be paid for. Government gets their money from taxes – governments don’t have magic government money trees. We all have to share the cost, ideally commensurate with our incomes, of roads without potholes and good teachers and help for those less fortunate and our health system.

    It’s as simple as this choice – do you want to be seen as quickly as possible in the ER when you need it? Do you want your child and your neighbours’ children to be educated through University by excellent educators? I am going to assume the answer is yes – and if it is, you and I and my colleagues and your colleagues and my neighbours and your neighbours and my friends and family and your friends and family have to share the cost of it. Government tries to keep the costs low, but as time goes by, the cost of EVERYTHING goes up.

    We pay more for health care because…a nurse’s income needs to go up because…the cost of food goes up…because we want it produced locally.. farmers are paying higher prices for diesel for their machines and higher prices for Canadian farm labour, and those farmers have to buy food and energy too. At which point along that chain does the Premier have control over costs?

    “Less government” and “lower taxes” are good talking points, but they aren’t practical and have been around since the dawn of modern government. You want to pay less taxes? Tell me then, how are we going to pay for what we have? Corporate taxes – no, wait. Can’t have that. Efficiencies? Efficiencies don’t lower costs to the point where taxes on a broad scale can go down, and the Tories had decades in power – why didn’t they do all of their efficiency-finding then? Privatize healthcare? OK, but that’s pretty selfish and we’re not known for concerning ourselves only with the individual – we made our decision a long time ago to be about, in fact, “peace, order and good government”, and not “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.

    When our overall standard of living goes up, as it does and as we want it to, that means public employees (doctors, nurses, teachers, conservation officers, police, parks and recreation staff, etc) also get an increase in their standard of living. Public employees are people too – they have the same costs a banker or a lawyer does. Don’t we want the best people to be public employees so that we are ALL well-served? I don’t want teachers to only make $30K a year forever, because then they won’t be committed to their jobs anymore than a bank or a lawyer would be in the same circumstances, and I want my kid to have the best education he can get so that he can be all he can be. And I don’t want him to be saddled with public debt and continued austerity when he grows up, so if I pay a few more percent of my income now to prevent that AND pay the police salaries and doctors’ salaries and teachers’ salaries and get a colonoscopy as a woman in her mid-30s because I am at high-risk of colon cancer then ITS WORTH IT, and I defy anyone to tell me it isn’t – in real, considered terms.

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      JenS says:

      Yeah. That. I couldn’t agree more. Beyond that, there seems to be this average-Joe mentality, borne I can only think of jealousy, that says those paid from the public purse ought to make less than those in commensurate jobs in the private sector. Why? Because the general public wants to attract less talented people into jobs they demand the most from? That’s silliness.

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    DaveInMapleRidge says:

    The way I read the column, Hebert says Harper is in the cat bird seat and McGuinty is vulnerable in Ontario.

    Does it mean he will lose? I don’t know Ontario politics well enough to say with any certainty, but its just possible Hudak wins because he’s not Dalton McGuinty.

    That is all …

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