Categories for Musings

Your Toronto politics morning update in helpful quotes: Tory “absurd and careless,” Chow “very, very favourably impressive”

  • National Post: “I’m not sure what distinguishes Tory as a front-running candidate for mayor. He has business experience, certainly, but so do many people, and it actually doesn’t apply to running a government as much as some suggest. The bulk of his campaign’s policies thus far have been shallow at best, reinforcing the notion that he has a talk-radio level of understanding of how the city operates. As pointed out by the Chow campaign, Tory just yesterday put out a statement referring to “shovels” that will “start digging in 2015″ for the Bloor-Danforth subway extension in Scarborough. That timeline, also mentioned in his “One Toronto” economic development plan, was so wildly unrealistic that the campaign had to acknowledge it was a mistake when contacted about it by the media. (Construction of the so-called Scarborough subway is still several years off, if it happens at all.) It wasn’t an unforgivable error on Tory’s part, but it was an absurd and careless one that makes me wonder whether he has anyone working for him with a basic grasp of City policy.”
  • Globe and Mail: “…with her new, moderate message, she has been winning over at least some Bay Streeters. “I thought she came across as less of an ideologue than I would have thought,” said Dave Samuel, a partner in the investment firm Birch Hill who set up a lunchtime session with her last month and now counts himself as a Chow backer. Another participant, a senior Bay Street lawyer, said he was “very, very favourably impressed with her, and I am a dyed -in-the-wool conservative.” She told the group that she is the only one of the leading three candidates for mayor to oppose the Scarborough subway project. She favours a cheaper light-rail line instead. “That is completely against the stereotype,” she says. “I am the one who has the guts to say, Don’t do it. Don’t borrow money you don’t have if you don’t have to.”
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Labourers’ union smart approach: being proactive

This is interesting.  When the CBC and the Star were coming after LIUNA (mainly for the offence of Working While Italian), the union took a proactive approach – and contacted the police themselves. It’s referenced in the video below.

Reminds me of what Chretien did with sponsorship.  I suspect LIUNA will similarly benefit from being proactive, instead of reactive.  Companies/unions/NGOs with issues management challenges, take note.

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Hey, Public Safety and RCMP: do I scare you?

Apparently:

“Bureaucrats, for example, bumped around a copy of a head-scratching open letter posted by Sun columnist Warren Kinsella on his blog. In it, he calls on Anonymous to get involved by attacking the Nova Scotia NDP or the RCMP.

Just the same, Public Safety passed it around internally, and then sent it to the RCMP. In one particularly telling exchange from the bureaucrats, one staffer emails the other to ask if they’ve “been following the news about Anonymous’ rampage,” and wonders “what can be done to stop such embarrassing attacks?” They note it was the lead story on CBC’s The National.”

Link here.

I’m suspicious about the source – Ling is a proven ding-a-ling, in my view – but I have to say that, if true, this little snippet makes me happy.  Any day this web site makes Public Safety and RCMP elf lords nervous is a good day.

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In today’s Sun: Trudeau touches the third rail

Now that he has reopened the abortion the debate – and, rest assured, Justin Trudeau has done so – what next? Who wins, who loses?

Trudeau himself is both a winner and a loser.

At the centre of a Parliament Hill scrum a few days ago, the Liberal leader said “our position as a party is we do not reopen [the abortion] debate,” which was reasonable enough.  Since the Supreme Court of Canada’s 1988 Morgentaler decision – which jettisoned criminal laws relating to abortion – successive Prime Ministers have carefully steered away from the issue, which is the third rail of Canadian politics.

Messrs. Mulroney, Chretien, Martin and Harper all vowed to never, ever reopen the abortion debate. And they didn’t. So Trudeau’s position was an eminently sensible one.

But, looking a bit unsure in that now-infamous scrum, Trudeau didn’t stop there.  As reporters’ eyebrows went up, Trudeau said: “We are steadfast in our belief [in the Liberal Party], it is not for any government to legislate what a woman chooses to do with her body. That is the bottom line.” And then, leaping into the abyss, he reopened the issue he had said he didn’t want to reopen.

Said he: “I have made it clear that future candidates need to be completely understanding that they will be expected to vote pro-choice on any bills.”

In the days since he uttered those words, Trudeau has been engaged in uninterrupted damage control.  As bemused Conservatives and New Democrats looked on, Trudeau’s policy contortions have been something to behold. Over the past few days, Trudeau has said his party is pro-abortion, and its MPs are expected to vote that way without exception – but he has also decreed that anti-abortion candidates are welcome, and (presumably) so too anti-abortion thoughts.  That is, pro-choice if necessary, but not necessarily always pro-choice.

If that makes no sense to you, rest assured: it makes sense to no one else, either.

While the pro-life and pro-choice forces typically disagree on everything, they probably now concur on two slender points.  One, Justin Trudeau wasn’t telling the truth when he said he wouldn’t interfere in the selection of Liberal Party candidates – by telling them how they must vote on a matter of conscience, he was fundamentally involving himself with candidate selection.  Two, he wasn’t telling the truth about not wanting to “reopen the abortion debate,” either – he has now done precisely that.

But Trudeau is not necessarily a loser, now.  On Wednesday, Ottawa Bishop Christian Riesbeck told CBC that Trudeau’s stance was “unseemly.”

“It’s the fact that he considers himself to be a devout Catholic but then adheres to, or advocates for, abortion,” said Riesbeck. “That is scandalous.”

Scandalous? With that, the Bishop has mapped out an escape route for the relieved Trudeau. As Stockwell Day learned the hard way, Canadians favour a wall between Church and State.  They don’t like politicians involving themselves overmuch with religion.  And they don’t like the religious involving themselves, at all, in politics. As such, Bishop Riesbeck has gifted Trudeau’s relieved backroom with what they urgently needed: a way out of the mess they created for themselves.

Whenever the clergy start attacking me about something, a former Prime Minister once remarked to this writer, it helps get me re-elected. The same holds for Trudeau.

The Conservatives and the New Democrats have emerged as winners, too, and without doing very much. Pro-life voters will continue to gravitate to the Tories, convinced that there is no home for them with the Grits.  And for those pro-choice folk who favour no ambiguity, they will find a home with the New Democrats.

So, who loses, at the end of this sad political melodrama?

Canadians, mostly.  The majority of Canadians didn’t want the abortion issue re-opened. They didn’t want the rancour and ugliness it always brings.  They didn’t want what is highly personal becoming, once again, the highly political.

Will they blame the Liberal leader for reopening the debate? Who knows. But one thing is for certain: it has not been Justin Trudeau’s finest hour.

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Told ya

Ipsos tonight:

Ontario Race Tightens:
Hudak PCs Slip (35%, -4), Horwath NDP Gain (28%, +4) and
Wynne Liberals Stall (31%, +1) among Decided Voters
But Ballot Box Bonus Belongs to Progressive Conservatives (41%, +6), Not Liberals (30%, -1) or NDP (26%, -2) among Likely Voters