Tag Archive: Doug Ford

Don’t speak ill of the dead, Bruce Livesey

…that’s what I was taught, growing up.  You evidently weren’t.

Back story: sadly, Diane Ford died.  I tweeted this about her passing.


That elicited this simply extraordinary reaction from Bruce Livesey, an actual journalist who has worked for the CBC, PBS and others.


I responded.


Anyway, it’d be bad enough for a nameless troll to write what he wrote. But for an actual journalist? Pretty awful.

If you agree, feel free to him know what you think. I did.


The Hidden Conservative Voter

They’re hidden.

They showed up, however, at Brexit. They showed up in the U.S. presidential race in 2016. They showed up in Alberta in 2019, and Ontario in 2018, too.

They’re the THCV – The Hidden Conservative Voter. And they’re changing politics.

June 2016: shocking just about everyone, 52 per cent of Britons voted to leave the European Union. No one really expected that result, including many of those who campaigned for Brexit.

Polls conducted in the years leading up to the Brexit vote consistently showed public opinion split on the EU membership question. A year before the crucial vote, support for the European Union spiked upward, with many more Brits favouring remaining than leaving. That, perhaps, may have been what persuaded then-Prime Minister David Cameron to push for a vote.

It was a critical error, as historians will forever note.

Subsequent vote analysis showed that young Brits favoured remaining in the Union. So did big business, lawyers, economists, scientists and the well-to-do. Voters with lower incomes and fewer higher-education degrees, however, just didn’t.

And they, unlike the young Brits and the others, came out to vote. The “leave” side surged on voting day.

Pollsters and pundits hadn’t seen it coming. Neither did the bookies, even: on the day of the vote, Ladbrokes had been giving six-to-one odds that Brexit would fail.

What happened? Sifting through the Brexit results afterwards, public opinion experts and political scientists saw something they hadn’t previously spotted: what they called, antiseptically, “unrepresentative samples.” In other words, pollsters had too many “stay” voters in their computers – and not nearly enough “leave” voters. That, the British Polling Council determined after a lengthy inquiry, was “the basic problem.”

What is most shocking is that the pollsters repeated their error in the U.S. presidential race, which happened just a few weeks after Brexit. Every single pollster, pretty much, got it wrong. Again.

The New York Times declared Hillary Clinton – who, full disclosure, this writer worked for in three different states in 2016 – had an 85 per cent chance of victory. Huffington Post said she had a 98 per cent chance of winning. The respected poll analyst Nate Silver pegged her chances at 67 per cent – while Princeton University went even further, saying it was 99 per cent.

All wrong, wrong, wrong.

And, as in Brexit, the same thing had happened: pollsters had relied upon unrepresentative samples – allowing Trump voters to hide, in effect. One analyst told GQ that Trump voters hid on purpose: “It may also turn out to be the case that supporters for Donald Trump were shamed into keeping their support quiet. Shy Trump supporters may have kept their support secret from pollsters out of social pressure not to admit their support for a candidate labelled as racist and sexist.”

The same sort of thing has happened in recent Canadian electoral contests. Polls in Alberta suggested the race between Jason Kenney’s United Conservative Party and Rachel Notley’s New Democratic party was far closer than it ended up being. Ditto in Ontario, the year before: mid-campaign polls proclaimed the Andrea Horwath New Democrats had moved ahead of Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives. But it wasn’t so: the PC vote surged on voting day, and Ford won a huge majority government.

The moral of the story, here, is clear: pollsters are either missing conservative-leaning voters in their sampling – or those voters are keeping their intentions secret, Until they sit down with a stub of pencil and a ballot, that is.

It’s the THCV – The Hidden Conservative Vote. And it’s changing outcomes in elections across Western democracy.

And for guys like Conservative leader Andrew Scheer, the THCV could be very good news in October.


Dimples? Simple

Dimples.

That’s what you actually get some Trudeau trolls nattering about online: Andrew Scheer’s dimples.

Seriously.

For some reason beyond the understanding of sane people, the Trudeaupian types think that the Conservative leader’s dimples disqualify him as a candidate for Prime Minister. They go on about it all the time.

The same criticism used to be made about Bill Clinton. The Democratic president’s many Republican antagonists would say that Clinton’s ever-present grin was unsettling. They would say that Clinton seems to be smiling when, you know, he shouldn’t be.

In recent months, the upward tilt of Andrew Scheer’s lips haven’t been as evident. We don’t know if he’s received advice to look less happy, or if he is simply distressed by the state of Confederation. Either way, Andrew Scheer is not smirking nearly as much as he used to.

This tendency of some people to attack politicians for something over which they have no control – to wit, their physical appearance – is nothing really new.

Haters on the left attacked Doug Ford for his weight, just as they did with his deceased brother, Toronto Mayor Rob. Kathleen Wynne was mocked for resembling the Church Lady on Saturday Night Live.

And, as Wynne would certainly know, female politicians are regularly attacked – viciously, ceaselessly, unfairly – for their appearance: their hairstyle, their style of dress, their relative attractiveness. All the time.

Such attacks can change the course of political history. The infamous 1993 Conservative Party ad that pointed out the facial paralysis of my former boss, Jean Chretien, is the most infamous example. On the night those ads hit the airwaves in the midst of the 1993 federal election campaign, this writer was running Chretien’s war room at his Ottawa headquarters.

We did not know those attack ads were coming, and we were shocked when they did. Unidentified voices could be heard asking if the Liberal leader “looked like a Prime Minister.“

My boss had been waiting his whole life for that attack. He responded a few hours later, at a campaign stop in New Brunswick. He pointed out that “this was the face” that God gave him, and – unlike Tories, he said – “I don’t speak out of both sides of my mouth.“

Boom. Tories reduced to two seats.

In political back rooms, however, a great deal of time is still devoted to discussing and debating the physiology of political candidates. Example: prior to this writer arriving in British Columbia in 1996 to assist the BC Liberal campaign, some nameless genius strategist decided to stick BC liberal leader Gordon Campbell in a plaid shirt, so he would look a little more proletarian, and a little less house street.

The gambit backfired dramatically. Campbell was ridiculed for trying to be something that he was not.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau presents a political anomaly. Trudeau, like Gordon Campbell, is a handsome fellow. Even Rolling Stone gushed in a cover story that Trudeau and his family are “photogenic” and “glamorous.”

In Canada, the politicians who tend to succeed are unlike Trudeau. They are the ones who possess the hockey-rink-and-Timmmies Everyman look. Ralph Klein, Rene Levesque, Mel Lastman, Jean Chretien and Rob Ford were frequently attacked by the elites for being dishevelled or, at least, somewhat less than a Hollywood matinee idol.

But voters, clearly, loved them for it. Because, in the main, not too many voters resemble Hollywood matinee idols either.

If they’ve gotten this far, serious students of policy  will be offended by all this talk about physical appearance.

They’re right. We shouldn’t make important decisions based on looks.

But, not long after he lost the aforementioned 1996 BC election, Gordon Campbell ruefully remarked to this writer: “It’s 70 per cent how you look, 20 per cent how you say it, and only 10 per cent what you say.”

Campbell knows whereof he speaks. And, if you don’t believe me, go looking for Andrew Scheer’s dimples.

They’re gone.


Exile on Mainstreet

So, that Mainstreet poll.

On the one hand, I like its founder and the people who work there. My firm has used them in the past.

When the Lavscam scandal broke, however, Mainstreet’s boss took it upon himself to – for lack of a better word – troll each and every opinion I offered on the scandal. In particular, he repeatedly asserted that Lavscam would have little to no effect on Liberal fortunes.

By now, of course, we all know that that is simply not true. Lavscam precipitated a dramatic decline in Liberal support, and the Trudeau Grits have not really recovered.

On the other hand, however, I think we need to take Mainstreet’s latest poll somewhat seriously. It is consistent with a commissioned poll done by Environics, and an earlier poll done by Don Guy’s Pollara, and one that speculated about the effect of a John Tory-led Ontario Liberal party.

But most of all, it reflects what my gut has been telling me for some time – that the Ford folks need to get back the narrative that got them elected nearly a year ago.

It’s a debate that I had with Jerry Agar on Newstalk 1010 early Wednesday morning. There’s no doubt, I said, that Kathleen Wynne’s regime spent recklessly in the final half of its mandate. Equally, there is no doubt that Ford was elected with a clear mandate to cut back on same.

The problem, I told Jerry, is that the cuts lack a coherent underlying story. I reminded him that my boss Jean Chretien oversaw the largest program of government restraint in Canadian history, way back in 1994 and 1995. Chretien pulled that off, and then some. And he was subsequently reelected with a majority.

Ontarians understand that there is a need for cuts. What they clearly don’t understand is why the Ford government is doing them. People are prepared to accept lots of belt-tightening – but you need to be able to tell them why, in 30 words or less.

It’s not too late for the Ford folks to find that short, sharp narrative.

But they need to do so soon, or they may end up being exiled on Mainstreet.


Tory is the best Grit

Here’s a poll that will rock Toronto and Ontario politics. And it is not a bad idea. At all.

Full story here.

It could take a Tory to topple the Tories and lead the Liberals back to power, a new poll suggests.

Toronto Mayor John Tory, a former Progressive Conservative leader who left that party five years ago, would be the front-runner in the undeclared Ontario Liberal leadership race, the Corbett Communications survey found.

While Premier Doug Ford’s Conservatives would win an election held now with 35 per cent support — ahead of the Liberals at 27 per cent, the NDP at 25 per cent, and the Greens at 12 per cent — a Tory candidacy for the Grits could jolt the political landscape.

“He changes the whole dynamic for everybody,” veteran pollster John Corbett said Tuesday.

Those surveyed were asked “which one of the following potential candidates would you be most likely to support for the Ontario Liberal Party.”

Tory was at 41 per cent, compared to Liberal MPPs Mitzie Hunter and Marie-France Lalonde at 4 per cent apiece and former minister Steven Del Duca and MPP Michael Coteau at 3 per cent each. 

Of the remaining respondents, 36 per cent were undecided and 9 per cent preferred “another candidate.”

In a general election scenario, the Liberals led by Tory were at 32 per cent, compared to Ford’s Conservatives tied with Andrea Horwath’s New Democrats at 27 per cent apiece and Mike Schreiner’s Greens at 12 per cent.


Fish where there’s fish


…that’s something I say so much about campaigns that my staff have heard it a billion times. Talk about the stuff voters want you to talk about. Manage the dialogue.Thus, this from Campaign Research:

“The PCs have a significant lead over both the OLP and the ONDP. This is because the policy issues that matter the most to the electorate also happen to be the policy planks that Doug Ford is seen to be performing much better on. If Doug Ford and the PCs remain focused on these policy planks, the PCs could hold onto their lead…Kathleen Wynne and the OLP are outperforming in a significant way on some of the policy planks, but at this point those policy planks are not seen as being as important.”  – said Eli Yufest, CEO of Campaign Research Inc.

So, ipso facto, the current situation: Doug Ford is way ahead of Kathleen Wynne because he’s talking about the issues people care about. Wynne, not so much.

That’s also reflected in the latest Angus Reid, seen here.

Which brings to mind an anecdote from a few months back, when various Ontario Liberal folks were getting plenty nervous. A couple meetings were convened, at which the Ontario Liberal leader and her “chief strategist” described how they would win.

Basically, they told the assembled Nervous Nellies that, if they talked a lot about the sex-ed curriculum and stuff like that, they’d do smashingly. But no one, I’m told, asked this question: “But what if the campaign is about affordability and our perceived indifference to regular folks who don’t drive Volvos and listen to CBC and live in the Annex?”

Of such things are victories made. The other guy’s.

When you talk about stuff people don’t care about it…well, you know what happens then.



Kevin J. Johnston’s hate tour – let’s cancel it

Late yesterday, I was sent this:

The piece of human garbage pictured, on the right, is Kevin J. Johnson. (That’s a swastika on his poster, to the left.)  Lately, he’s been showing up at Doug Ford events. Johnston was charged in July with wilful promotion of hatred, mostly against Muslims.  A condition of his bail was that he stay away from any Muslim mosque or community centre.

That bail condition is why I was suspicious by Johnston’s apparent intention to speak at the Brampton Islamic Centre on March 21.

But better safe than sorry.  So, we got word out to our contacts nationally in the Muslim, Jewish, LGBT and other communities.  We needed those centres/locations contacted, as soon as possible, to shut this bastard down.

So my online friends got to work.  Here’s the latest:

  • Simcoe County District School Board investigated and said no way.  Thank you to them.
  • Sudbury – the good folks there have told us no such event is taking place at a Greater Sudbury library or City facility.  Here.
  • Cornwall Collegiate – likewise.  The advertised hate fest “will not take place,” they told us.
  • Barrie’s Mayor, the terrific Jeff Lehman, also made clear this racist thug wouldn’t be welcome in his town, as seen here.

The Sleeping Giants approach works, folks.  Contact the people in charge at the locations listed on the poster.  Be factual, polite and make the direct request: that (a) they confirm no such event is taking place under his or some other name and (b) that, if it is, they shut it down.  That’s it.

Need your help, folks.  Please get involved.  Thanks.


What to do when a hatemonger says he supports you

Simple.

You reject his support. And then you denounce him the clearest terms.

To put a fine point on it: Kevin J. Johnston is a notorious Muslim-hating bigot who has been charged with hate crimes. Doug Ford must denounce him and reject his support – now.

More about Johnston’s hate charges here.

Doug Ford needs to address this right now. It is the kind of thing that will sink his campaign. And deservedly so.


Kathleen Wynne is the luckiest politician alive

Here’s why:

• Andrew Horwath’s New Democrats have been in a witness protection program for months – and, when they finally start to show signs of life, they lose their Chief of Staff to allegations he was indifferent to complaints about sexual harassment

• Caroline Mulroney is revealing herself to be completely unprepared for the top job – she looks and sounds uncertain, she’s nervous and she’s clearly out of her depth – and increasing numbers of worried PCs are saying Wynne would eat her alive in a leader’s debate

• Christine Elliott is doing again what she did in 2009 and 2015 – she’s phoning it in, and giving an entirely new dimension to the Trumpian epithet, “low energy”

• Doug Ford is amazing and charming PCs everywhere – he’s being disciplined, strategic and working his tail off – but he’d still be easy for the Libs to demonize in a province-wide vote

• Oh, and for good measure, the last thing the PCs needed – for Patrick Brown to start doing the rounds in the media, and demonizing those young women who came forward – is, incredibly, actually happening

At this point, I am hearing from many, many senior and experienced Progressive Conservatives that Doug Ford may well win this thing. Incredible, I know, but he is doing what he should be doing: working. Elliot simply isn’t – and Mulroney is decidedly not up to the job.

Like I say: Kathleen Wynne is the luckiest politician alive.