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About that huge, huge Globe investigative story: read it

Three things about this extraordinary investigative story.

One, it’s behind a paywall because journalists deserve to get paid just like you are.  Do you give away your goods and services for free?  Neither should they.  Cough up a few bucks and subscribe, for Chrissakes.  Don’t be cheap.

Two, this story is going to have an impact on the Ontario election – in a way that is very unhelpful to prominent Ontario Liberals.

Three, I left Navigator when Glen Murray arrived there, unbidden by me.  I despise him. His life is about to get very complicated, and deservedly so.


On March 23, 2013 – a Saturday – Mr. Murray travelled to the farm fields south of Bolton that Solmar sought to build on.

In an interview with The Globe last year, Mr. Murray acknowledged that he did not travel alone, but he declined to identify whom he was with, other than to say it was a “planner” or “consultant” for Solmar…During his site visit, Mr. Murray e-mailed his chief of staff, David Black, and asked him what powers he had, as minister, with respect to the housing development.

Mr. Black responded with blunt advice: “There is no action you can take.”

Mr. Black (who is now chief of staff to Infrastructure Minister Bob Chiarelli) declined to respond to questions from The Globe. But his e-mails to Mr. Murray – obtained under the Freedom of Information Act – show he was concerned that his boss was with someone from Solmar.

And that was potentially a big problem. Solmar had taken Caledon to the Ontario Municipal Board, the quasi-judicial body that has the power to overturn the planning decisions of cities and towns, and a decision had yet to be rendered. But the OMB can be overruled by cabinet – which is why, Mr. Black warned his boss that day, ministers are forbidden from interacting with developers currently before the tribunal.

“I hope you are not in the Bolton area with anyone who might have an active OMB case,” Mr. Black e-mailed to Mr. Murray. “Ministers meeting with active OMB appellants can be grounds for the Premier to ask for your resignation because it can look like you are trying to influence the outcome of an OMB case.”

…But his interest in Bolton did not fade. On April 18, Mayor Morrison and two of her staff drove to Queen’s Park at the request of Mr. Murray.

According to Ms. Morrison and another staff member present that day, Mr. Murray scolded them for what he said was poor planning. He had a specific idea, too: The swath of land south of Bolton should be designated for homes .

Next, Minister Murray asked all of the aides, including his own, to leave the room. All of a sudden Ms. Morrison found herself in the type of meeting she had long refused to take – one without witnesses. And what unfolded next reminded her why.

“In my opinion, he threatened me,” said Ms. Morrison, who recounted the exchange, over several interviews with The Globe. “He told me that he had some complaints against me that were very serious and that he could make them go away if I changed those lands to residential.”

Ms. Morrison, then in her 10th year as mayor, insisted she had done nothing wrong, and that Mr. Murray could do whatever he liked with those “complaints.”

As he prepared to leave the room, she says, the minister repeated one more time that she “had better” permit homes on that land.

The kicker, about the Premier who received a complaint from a Mayor about one of her Ministers making a threat – and the Premier who did nothing about it, and why:

There is another person whom Ms. Morrison says she told about the encounter: Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne.

In December of 2013, she heard Ms. Wynne on the radio claiming, in the wake of a massive ice storm, that she had spoken with all the mayors in the GTA. Ms. Morrison – who had lately become disenchanted with politics and had decided not to seek re-election the following year – became enraged: She had never heard from the Premier in the storm’s aftermath.

And so she sent the Premier a letter that made a pointed reference to a TV ad, filmed in Caledon, that showed Ms. Wynne out for a run. “Perhaps you have forgotten that Caledon is one of the GTA municipalities, not just a scenic location north of the city to film jogging commercials.”

Not long after, says Ms. Morrison, Ms. Wynne called her and said, “I got your letter … I don’t understand why you’re so upset.”

“I’ll tell you why,” the mayor replied, and chronicled Mr. Murray’s conduct. She says Ms. Wynne told her “I’ll be dealing with him.”

Ms. Morrison said that, at the time of that phone call, she didn’t realize that Solmar had donated $20,000 to Ms. Wynne’s 2012 leadership campaign – a sum that was among the largest contributions it received.

It was the last time she spoke with Ms. Wynne. 

Top ten Wizard excuses for the Wynne Wipeout™

A week to go, and I have already started to hear some of the excuses being road-tested by the Wizard and the Board. They know they are going to lose.  So they are readying their rationalizations.

Here’s ten of them, which I may turn into a Hill Times column.  Feel free to add more in comments.

  1. “We’ve been in power for more than a decade, we knew winning again was unlikely.” That so? Really? Except: the same excuse could’ve been trotted out in 2014, when it was also more than a decade in power. And: Stephen Harper didn’t drive his party in the ground. Christy Clark won a minority.  Bill Davis ruled Ontario forever. And so on.
  2. “Female political leaders never get re-elected.  Misogyny, etc.” Uh-huh.  Except: Nancy Pelosi, Margaret Thatcher, Angela Merkel, Indira Gandhi, et al.  They all did okay.  Misogyny isn’t solely a Canadian problem.
  3. “Kathleen is gay.  She was defeated by homophobia.”  Gotcha.  Explain: 2014.
  4. “This is the former Premier’s fault.  Gas plants, blah blah blah.  Wasn’t our fault.”  This one drives me nuts.  (I mean, Kathleen Wynne would still be a little-known school board trustee were it not for Dalton McGuinty.)  Besides, it isn’t just disrespectful, it’s disingenuous: from the perspective of Joe and Jane Frontporch, folks, it’s all one Ontario Liberal Party, you know?  Voters remember you worked for Dalton, Kathleen.
  5. “Hiding Kathleen wouldn’t have worked.  She’s the leader, we needed to have her front and centre.”  Gotcha.  A former Ontario Liberal leader, Lyn McLeod, experienced precisely the same problem in 1995: she was dragging her party down.  So, McLeod and her senior people made the (tough, principled) decision to take her off the air for the final two weeks.  They held onto 30 seats as a result.  Why didn’t Wynne do likewise?
  6. “We ran an ethical and scandal-free government.  We were sunk by Dalton’s scandals.”  Repeat after me: it’s never the break-in, it’s the cover up.  Example One: Jean Chrétien resigned in December 2003, and the daily headlines were then still screaming about the so-called “sponsorship scandal.”  Chrétien’s approval number?  Sixty per cent.  Example Two:  five years earlier, in December 1998, Bill Clinton became the most popular president in the history of U.S. polling, at 73 per cent approval – all of which came after the Lewinsky scandal, and his impeachment in the House of Representatives.  Scandal isn’t what sinks you: per Harry Truman, it’s trying to pass the buck about scandal.
  7. “After fifteen years, there was no way we were going to win again.  We decided to take the hit so a new leader could start fresh.”  Really?  Seriously?  Next week, I will be presenting y’all with quantitative evidence showing that this is hooey: the Ontario Liberal brand was popular, the Ontario Liberal record was popular, the Ontario Liberal caucus was popular.  What wasn’t popular was the leader.  She needed to talk a proverbial walk in the proverbial snow.  She didn’t.
  8. “Our internal polling actually showed that we were going to do far worse.  We are pleased where we ended up.”  You are forgiven if that one in any way reminds you of this.
  9. “Trudeau has hurt the Liberal brand everywhere.  He pulled down our numbers.”  Did Trudeau take on water after India? Yes.  Does he have both sides of the ideological spectrum (unfairly) mad at him after the decision to buy the Trans Mountain Pipeline?  Yes.  But the notion that Trudeau is in any way responsible for Wynne’s disastrous campaign is absurd.  If anything, her numbers pulled down his.
  10. “We’ll be back.”  Well, some of us will be.  But Kathleen Wynne and the Wizard and the Board?

They won’t be.

Hate hits Toronto neighbourhood

Warren Kinsella, a former Liberal strategist, author and lawyer who is currently writing a book about the growth of hate groups among young people, said the posters are concerning, in part because of how detailed they are.

“There’s swastikas, lightning bolt, the SS death head symbol,” Kinsella said, noting the posters also include more obscure references.

Author Warren Kinsella believes someone who has knowledge of neo-Nazi imagery and neo-Nazi lingo is responsible for the posters. (CBC)

“For example, on one poster there’s a reference to 14 — that’s the 14 words, which is about securing a future for white children. There is a reference to the number 88, and 88 represents HH in the alphabet, which is ‘heil Hitler.’ So it is somebody who has knowledge of neo-Nazi imagery and neo-Nazi lingo and needs to be taken seriously as a result.”

Kinsella said a concerned parent in the area called him about the posters, but didn’t want their name published. He said that shows people are already unnerved by what they’re seeing.

Link here.

About that “sorry not sorry” ad

Whoever came up with this fetid, squalid, shambolic atrocity should be – in the memorable words of a certain Campaign Wizard™️ – hauled into the village square and pilloried. It is among the worst I have ever seen – and that’s saying something.

This is what $70,000 a month gets you, folks. Thankfully, the lot of them will be finding a new line of work in ten days’ time.

That’s not a campaign, that’s advanced rigor mortis

The last time a campaign did something this stupid, you may recall, was 2005-2006.

That campaign was run by The Wizard™️.

And we all remember how it turned out, don’t we?

Column: what will Justin do without Kathleen?

What will Justin Trudeau do?

When Kathleen Wynne loses, that is. Because she is going to lose the Ontario election. Badly.

The reasons are myriad. She leads a wildly unpopular government. She’s been the most unpopular Premier in Canada for eons. She should’ve resigned more than a year ago, to give someone else a chance to rebuild. Ego and self-delusion persuaded her to stay.

She was also encouraged to stay by a cabal of self-interested advisors who convinced her that she won in 2014 – when, in fact, it was simply a case of Tim Hudak losing. They were the leftover dregs of Paul Martin’s crew, the ones whose treachery and sophistry consigned the federal Liberal Party to a decade in the wilderness, from 2005 to 2015.

Under Wynne, this inept gang has run the worst campaign in modern Ontario political history.  They cravenly sought to squeeze every last penny out of the Ontario Liberal Party and the provincial treasury. They will leave the former in tatters, with an expected $12 million debt and a puny legislative rump.  Wynne’s campaign wizards are finished.

If she’s lucky, Kathleen Wynne will be, too. If she is lucky, she will lose her Toronto seat on election night. In that way, she will be spared demands that she immediately quit. Her constituents will make the decision for her.

But what of her closest political ally, Justin Trudeau? What does the evisceration of the Ontario Liberal Party mean to him?

It means good things and bad things, in equal measure.

The bad is plain to see.  Kathleen Wynne was Justin Trudeau’s closest provincial ally.  Before she became the most unpopular Premier in Canada, Wynne helped Trudeau on the 2015 election trail.  She lent him staffers, and her cabinet and caucus members, too.

With the Ontario Liberal Party machine reduced to just a few seats – and maybe none at all – it will no longer be around to assist Trudeau in 2019.

If he looks around his office, the federal Liberal leader will know why this is a big problem.  His Chief of Staff, his Principal Secretary – along with several ministerial Chiefs of Staff and senior advisors – all come from Queen’s Park.  Trudeau knows he would not have won power without the support of Ontario Liberals.

Also problematic is who will fill the Premier’s chair.  It is in the interest of Ontario PC leader Doug Ford (and, to a lesser extent, Andrea Horwath) to take on the role of leader of the opposition to Trudeau.  It keeps Ford/Horwath popular with their respective base, and – in Canadian politics – the provincial squeaky wheel usually gets the federal grease.

But, for Trudeau, not all the news is bad.  A Premier Ford or a Premier Horwath almost certainly means a re-elected Prime Minister Trudeau.  Ontario voters are among the shrewdest in Canada.  They rarely – less than ten per cent of the time in the past Century – elect the same party to represent them at Queen’s Park and on Parliament Hill.

Ontario voters like to hedge their bets.  That, in part, is why Wynne’s days were numbered the moment Justin Trudeau won big majority in the Fall of 2015.  And it’s why he’ll likely keep winning as long as a partisan antagonist is ruling the roost at Queen’s Park.

For Justin Trudeau, then, the loss of Kathleen Wynne is a decidedly mixed bag.  There’s good news, and there’s bad news.

For Kathleen Wynne, however, the news is all bad.

She’s done.

Case study: “Deal Duca” and Anybody-But-Wynne

My view, expressed below, is this: the biggest story of the Ontario 2018 election isn’t so much the Orange Crush™ or whether DoFo was the wrong choice.  It’s the total collapse of the Ontario Liberal vote.

Case in point:  this LiUNA effort – which isn’t pro-Tory or pro-Dipper as much as it is anti-Wynne (and, specifically, Carpenter’s Union pension-holder Steven del Duca).

This election is extraordinary.  As with this web site, I believe it will be remembered for one thing: how voters of every persuasion came together not so much to reward Andrea Horwath or Doug Ford – but more to punish, and drive out, Kathleen Wynne.

As I – and, um, me myself and I – have been saying for a long time, all this could have been avoided, if (a) Kathleen Wynne had taken a walk in the snow a year ago; (b) if the OLP had fired The Wizard™ and The Board™ she had hired and grossly enriched, and (c) new blood and ideas had been brought in.

They didn’t do any of that.  What they got, as a result, is stuff like  Across the province.

First Ekos, now Forum!


Is it all because of Doug Ford? No. It partly is, however.

What has really happened here is this: the Ontario Liberal Party vote has completely collapsed. They may be looking at no seats whatsoever.

Aren’t you glad you were paying The Wizard™️ $70,000 a month, Ontario Liberals?

Holy moly, Ontari-oly!


These are apparently unverified Ekos results making the rounds.

Can you say Premier Horwath?

Zero OLP seats! Isn’t the Wizard the Greatest political strategist who ever lived?

Anyone agree with me on Andrew Lawton yet?

Comments are open!