Saturday, May 31, 2014

Progressives simply cannot trust populist Andrea Horwath to stop regressive Tim Hudak

Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak has screwed up his election campaign, perhaps beyond repair, with his faulty math and his slick and untrustworthy salesman routine.  I said at the start of this campaign that Hudak has not improved much at all since we saw Part One of this movie in 2011.  The early sequel seems, like most sequels, even worse than the original.

Hudak's "promise" to create One Million Jobs over 8 years has been exposed as a fraud.  One million person-years does not equate one million jobs, many economists have noted.  Subtract the hit to the economy that firing 100,000 civil servants (mostly teachers, firefighters, water and food inspectors, etc.) and you get an austerity agenda that will hurt Ontario's economy, not help it.  As with all neo-conservative plans, the only people who stand to benefit from Hudak's plans are those who are already well off.   And that will most certainly not help a fragile Ontario economy.   The answer is to continue to invest and spur the economy along as Kathleen Wynne plans, not bring the economy to its knees under a heartless austerity agenda. 

This article by Adam Radwanski and this one today by Don Lenihan sum up nicely the state in which Hudak now finds himself, with less than 2 weeks to go in the election campaign.

But let's put aside Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak's idiotic campaign "plan" to remove at least 25,000 jobs from the Ontario economy.

Hudak's biggest hope now in this election campaign remains NDP Leader Andrea Horwath.  The better the Ontario NDP does in this election, the more difficult it will be for Kathleen Wynne to stave off a Tory win.

Such is always the case with the NDP.  In 2011, the so-called NDP orange crush merely handed Stephen Harper's Conservatives the room they needed to win a majority with 39.6% of the vote.   As a progressive pragmatist, I'm not interested in a strong second place finish for the progressive option.   I'm interested in a strong victory for the progressive option.  On that front, the NDP, be it in Ottawa or Ontario, will never deliver a win; they'll only ever deliver a Conservative government. 

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath has been a horrifying traitor to progressive causes for two years now, as she has abandoned traditional NDP principles in favour of Rob Ford-style populism.  When it came to speaking up for those struggling on minimum wage, she was silent for months.  When it came to exercising real leadership to promote needed investment in public transit and infrastructure, Horwath and her NDP team preferred to scream bloody murder about tax increases. 

Horwath's top priorities?  Encourage people to stay in their cars by cutting their auto insurance rates as much as possible, and encourage people to continue to use electricity in their homes by cutting the HST from hydro bills.  

Where's the progressive leadership from Horwath on issues that matter to progressives?  Sadly, there is none.  On such issues, Horwath is an empty vessel.   

Now it's clear Horwath is open to the notion of propping up a Tim Hudak minority government, should Hudak somehow still manage to eke out the most seats.   I can hear Horwath's explanations already:  "Liberals are so corrupt, so let's give Tim Hudak (an idiot who can't count or lead or even run an election campaign) a try managing this province.  What can go wrong?"  Yes indeed, what could go wrong?  Why would Horwath want progressive policies enacted in Ontario under Kathleen Wynne when instead we can have a Tory government try to undermine everything the NDP allegedly stands for?   A Hudak government is something Horwath has been quite prepared to live with.  If she wasn't, she wouldn't have forced this election at all.  

If you're a progressive who still thinks you can trust Andrea Horwath to deliver on issues you care about, please think again.  And vote accordingly.

I still think in the end that Kathleen Wynne and the Liberals will prevail in this campaign.  Ontarians may wish to avoid all the nonsense of a Hudak minority propped by a confused NDP and hand the Liberals a strong mandate.   We'll see how the leaders' debate on Tuesday goes.   It's all in Kathleen Wynne's capable hands now.  Those 90 minutes will be the most important 90 minutes of her political life.  For a true leader who has shown she has what it takes to rise to the occasion and win, I'm confident Kathleen will deliver.  

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

These Ontario Liberal ads look great (despite what Warren Kinsella says...)

I loved this pre-writ ad produced by Kathleen Wynne's team showcasing the kind of person and leader she is.  It has over 500,000 views on YouTube and counting:

This great ad below, also produced by the same Ontario Liberal team, puts Andrea Horwath's rejection of progressive values front and centre.  It was released online early in this Ontario election campaign.  I'm not sure it will get any purchased TV time, but it would certainly be effective in reminding voters of Horwath's bizarre hypocrisy if it did: 

*******UPDATED, a Liberal quickie online ad that mocked a recent PC ad went up on YouTube on the weekend, but was pulled today after the PCs complained it allegedly violated their copyright.  But the Grits today posted this new ad below featuring Kathleen Wynne talking up her vision of the province versus Hudak's destructive plan to kill 100,000 public service jobs:

As I stated on the weekend, the Ontario PC Leader's horrific pledge to fire 100,000 public servants in fragile economic times will be the equivalent of John Tory's dumb idea in 2007 to promise to provide public funding to religious schools.  I expect this 2014 campaign will be similar to the 2007 Liberal campaign on which Warren Kinsella worked: attack the Tory leader's bad plan over and over in the early part of the campaign, making his bad plan a main focus of voters (and not any Liberal shortcomings) and ride the ensuing wave to re-election.  Conservative defeat is in the air in 2014.    

I know Warren Kinsella continues with his petty sniping from the sidelines against his old enemies, some of whom are working on the Wynne campaign.  That's his prerogative.  He's also occasionally admitted he may be completely wrong in his "commentary" on his blog (which he prefers to call a "website") or his Sun Media columns, which is great because he is completely wrong here. 

I will agree that Tim Hudak has put his ill-conceived plan front and centre in this campaign.  And it's also true that jobs and the economy are the top concerns of voters in this election.  But it's also clear that Hudak's prescription is too awful for most Ontarians outside of the conservative base to stomach.

I was door-knocking on the weekend in Parkdale-High Park for Liberal candidate Nancy Leblanc and was surprised by the very abundant amount of Liberal support, frequently offered before I even asked.  Voters are very aware of what Hudak is proposing and they don't like it, including in Toronto NDP strongholds.  And they also like Kathleen Wynne a great deal!  

One of the big pleasures of the result I predict is coming on June 12th - in addition to the joys of seeing Canada's first out gay premier and Ontario's first female premier re-elected with a mandate to implement a realistic and great plan to move Ontario forward - will be that folks who put personal grudges ahead of party loyalty or even the best interests of the province will be eating some serious crow.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

The folly of Hudakian Conservatives in the Ontario PC Party will cost them this election...

In 2003, Ontarians had fully experienced the impact of Mike Harris' neo-conservative policies in action: crowded schools, never-ending labour disruptions, demoralized teachers, growing health care wait times, closed hospitals, fired nurses, neglected infrastructure, transit going nowhere, poisoned water, 7 dead people in Walkerton, unchecked and possibly bad food in our grocery stores, the list was long.

All for some measly tax cuts that weren't enough to afford private alternatives to the public services the Tories had largely decimated.  Ontarians finally understood.  Tax cuts and service cuts have consequences.

In 2003, Dalton McGuinty promised to rebuild public services, fix public health care, bring peace to our public schools, cancel schemes that encouraged parents to move their kids to private school, invest in transit and infrastructure, and do better to protect our environment.   When he swept to power in that election, he found a structural deficit of $6 billion left behind by the Ontario PCs.   Yes, during great economic times, the Tories had managed to create a structural deficit, even for the compromised public services they were providing.

Since then, the Liberals have largely done what they said they would do.  They have been far from perfect but they have restored public services, balanced the budget and even managed to cut some taxes as well as raise others.  Today, Kathleen Wynne can credibly point to a decent record over the last decade of restoring quality to public services and infrastructure, etc.  She's promising to continue that legacy and much more needs to be done as we know.

Well most of us know it.  It seems the brain trust behind Tim Hudak is still stuck in the 1990s.   In this election, he's promising to be Mike Harris on steroids.  The problem for Hudak is that Ontarians by and large now understand that these neo-conservative policies are more destructive than not.

Hudak's promise to fire 100,000 public servants is the biggest whopper of all.  It's the most polarizing promise presented in an Ontario election campaign since John Tory's 2007 pledge to fund religious schools. 

I wrote a couple of weeks ago how the Wynne Liberals could win this election if they can polarize the electorate between themselves and the Hudakian Conservatives.  And now it appears that is exactly what is happening.   Hudak has provided the 65 to 70 per cent of Ontarians who are centre-left with a huge reason to vote to stop him.  And with NDP Leader Andrea Horwath's campaign floundering into populist mediocrity, it's becoming quite clear that the Liberals are going to benefit almost exclusively.

Hudakian Conservatives are convinced all they need to do is inspire their 30% base to turn out and vote and hope that's enough to win.  But it won't be.  Not even close.  Hudak's shallow appeal personally doesn't help either with his slick, slogan-filled campaign.

In 2003, the right wingers in the Ontario PC Party didn't seem to get the message from the public that strong public services are not an option.  The majority in that party seemed to get it temporarily when they elected moderate John Tory to replace Ernie Eves.  But Tory screwed up when he decided to throw a little red meat to the far right in his party by campaigning on funding for religious schools.  It backfired big time and Tory was finished.

Then the Hudakians swept back in and took back the party.  And today we see the results: a far-right platform which will not sell despite growing fatigue with the 11-year Liberal government.

Now Kathleen Wynne and the Ontario Liberals are set to benefit greatly.  After two weeks of the campaign, they are increasingly well-positioned to hang on to power and the reliable polls are starting to show it.   Still just less than a month to go, but at this point it looks like my predictions from two weeks ago are set to come true.

Andrew Garfield's amazing performance in Arcade Fire's new video "We Exist"

This is astonishing!  I love both Andrew Garfield and Arcade Fire even more now!   Enjoy! 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Michael Sam becomes 1st openly gay athlete to be drafted into the NFL...

What a beautiful and sweet moment!  It's so very nice to share in it on TV.  Congrats to Mr. Sam!

I'm not much of a football fan, but I'll have to find a way to catch a St. Louis Rams game when Sam starts to play for them.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Andrea Horwath pulls a "Jack Layton", but this time progressives will flock to Kathleen Wynne's Liberals to stop Hudak's Conservatives...

Here’s why:
  • Premier Kathleen Wynne has successfully branded herself as a smart, hard-working, progressive, yet realistic leader with her performance in office, her messaging since Jan 2013 and her budget introduced yesterday which will be an effective NDP/progressive vote winning tool on the election hustings.  She’s developed a progressive agenda that will easily appeal to the 65% to 70% of the electorate who are centre-left. 
  • Kathleen Wynne has also earned her position as the leader most Ontarians view as the “Best Premier”.  Her performance over the election campaign will probably enhance that position, not weaken it. 
  • PC Leader Tim Hudak’s agenda is still just a retread of the Mike Harris 1990s Common Sense Revolution.  65% to 70% of Ontarians are not interested in a sequel.  Most progressive voters will be scared to return to those dark days. 
  • Tim Hudak remains the unpopular leader he was in 2011.  He continues to use lines that go way over the top and make him look silly to the vast majority of voters (ie. People who don’t vote PC were just “bribed” by the unions, or that Kathleen Wynne “wants to bankrupt this province.”)  He couldn’t even sound sincere when eulogizing his late colleague, Jim Flaherty.
  • NDP Leader Andrea Horwath has spent no time owning any issues, especially the economy or jobs.  It’s been mostly empty populism from her, sometimes even defending Rob Ford.  This has turned off progressive voters in Toronto big time and made them ripe for the picking for Wynne’s Liberals. She has spent the last year saying nothing about the major issues of the day, hoping to coast along and pick up a handful of by-election victories.  She’s been successful on that front, but now the cupboard looks pretty bare.  
We all remember the progressive programs that got killed federally in 2005/2006 after then NDP leader Jack Layton helped kill the Paul Martin Liberal government in Ottawa.  The result was a Stephen Harper Conservative government now well into its eighth year in power.  Progressive voters aren’t looking to see a second Conservative government ruling over them in Ontario. 

The Ontario NDP thinks the timing is right to somehow replace the Grits as the alternative to the Tories?  Nope.  Any NDP surge (which won’t happen) will only produce a Tory majority government and progressive voters who witnessed the so-called Orange Crush in 2011 know it.  A stronger NDP means a stronger Conservative government.  The NDP is not about to be seen as a governing option in Ontario any time soon.

I didn’t support Kathleen Wynne during the Ontario Liberal leadership in 2013.  But her skills and abilities are now clear.  Wynne is a sensational campaigner who seems to be at her best when the chips are down.  And they will appear to be very down for the majority of the election campaign about to start.  Polls might even show her trailing the PCs right up until voting day.  But this seems to fire her up in ways that always seem to make her a winner in the end.  It worked for her during her leadership race, which she was supposed to lose until the last minute, when she cleaned the floor with her opponents.  I expect the same tough odds will make Wynne a stronger campaigner during this campaign too and impress Ontario voters big time. 

Ontarians will finally get a really close look at Wynne, and they will by and large like what they see.  Furthermore, progressive voters scared of Hudak’s PCs will begin to coalesce around the Liberals again as a result.  Horwath’s NDP will turn into spoilers at best. 

Here’s how I see the Ontario election campaign unfolding:
  • The race will be very fluid, with polls showing the three main parties bobbing up and down the first 2-3 weeks.  Most polls will show the PCs and Liberals fighting for first place.  It will be incredibly unpredictable. 
  • This being Wynne’s first campaign, there will be much spin and talk by pundits that Wynne is in trouble. 
  •  With polls showing the PCs in the lead by a point or few points, progressive voters will spend the whole campaign feeling uncomfortable about the prospect of a PC government under dud leader Tim Hudak.
  • The NDP may even score in the high 20s in a poll or two, but the Grits will likely be in a clear first or second place in most of the polls for the entire campaign.
  • Unhappiness with all 3 main parties will be a dominant theme for most of the campaign.  Enthusiasm will be low.  Predictions of the lowest turnout ever will be frequent. 
  • Wynne will impress during the one or two leadership debates as this will be the first time most voters have seen her at her best.  Hudak won’t impress much, and neither will Horwath (at least not any more than voters expect them too.)
  • Voters will, toward the end of the campaign, start to polarize again around the PCs and Liberals, with the NDP sinking back to the mid-low 20s, and it might even look like the PCs are about to win a minority government.  Talk will then turn to the chaos that will ensue when Hudak can’t get any of his program through the legislature, and how we’ll be back at the polls again in six months or even sooner if he can’t get a budget passed (which would be likely).
  • At the last minute, those progressive voters on the fence will swing strongly behind the Liberals, pushing them back up into the high 30s in support, while PC support will flat line again somewhere in the low-mid 30s.  If there is enough of a stampede, the Liberals could be pushed up into the low 40s. 
On election night, the Grits will win.  They might even win a majority.  Tories will be utterly shocked just like Romney Republicans were in 2012.  

Which NDP seats are most vulnerable under this scenario?: Davenport, Trinity-Spadina, Beaches-East York, Parkdale-High Park and Bramalea-Gore-Malton could all go Liberal due to a Grit surge in the GTA.  Outside the GTA, Kitchener-Waterloo and London West, both of which were won in by-elections but are not traditional NDP seats, could fall into Grit hands.  Kitchener-Waterloo region usually votes for the status quo government, and the Grit candidate in Kitchener-Waterloo is quite strong.  If the Grits find a strong candidate in London West, they could win that too. 

Which PC seats are most vulnerable to the Grits?: Etobicoke-Lakeshore, Thornhill, Newmarket-Aurora, Halton and Burlington are all within Grit reach, with Newmarket probably being the easiest pick-up due to the fact that PC MPP Frank Klees is retiring.  Burlington could go Liberal too because it was so close last time and the Grit candidate this time, Eleanor McMahon, is quite strong.  Outliers might even include Northumberland-Quinte West (where former MPP Lou Rinaldi is gunning for a comeback) and Perth-Wellington. If the Grits win those two, they will be forming a majority government. 

Which Liberal seats are vulnerable?  Mostly the usual suspects outside the GTA: Brant, Kitchener Centre, Ancaster-Flamborough-Aldershot, St. Catharines, Windsor West, Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, Ottawa West-Nepean, Sudbury, Thunder Bay-Atitkokan. 

But if the campaign goes the way I think it will, with the Liberal vote staying strong and perhaps even going up, these seats will be held by the Grits for the most part, with one or two exceptions. 

My analysis above all assumes that the Wynne Liberals run a very decent campaign and manage to polarize the electorate between themselves and the Tories.  They are in good shape at the starting gate to do just that. 

Andrea Horwath doesn't seem to stand for much of anything.  She's offered progressives little reason to stick by her and I think most of them will have no difficulty abandoning the NDP to vote Liberal to stop Hudak.  

I do think that Hudak will continue to not impress voters.  Will his campaign be significantly better than his 2011 effort?  He’ll try but I predict there will be little improvement.  If he suddenly finds his inner leader and commands attention on the hustings in ways he has never demonstrated any ability to do in the past, my predictions above will change. 

But my feeling as this election campaign gets underway: Liberal victory, perhaps even a majority. 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Prince Harry might "experiment with gay men" if his relationship doesn’t work out (which apparently it has not!)

What a lovely headline!:

Prince Harry might experiment with gay men if my relationship doesn’t work out

It certainly caught my eye, although Harry never has to try too hard to get my attention (or most gay men's). 

And of course, this story yesterday seems to confirm the handsome prince is back on the market.  Well, Harry, perhaps it's time to put those sexy words into action and give some hot dude a try? 

Here's the full Pink News story below:

Prince Harry has said he might try relationships with men if he “changes his mind” about women, while on a night out with his current girlfriend.

Harry and his girlfriend, Cressida Bonas, were taking a night out together at The Rum Kitchen in Notting Hill on Friday, when Harry was slipped the phone number of Vincenzo Ianniello.

He reportedly accepted the number happily, and promised to call Mr Ianniello if he changed his mind about dating women.
Mr Ianniello later tweeted about the exchange: “I gave Prince Harry my number tonight, he promised he’ll call me if he changes his mind about women. Or men. #epicwin”

Forget addiction issues; audio reveals window into Rob Ford's twisted mind and heart

Fordwas apparently filmed smoking crack cocaine again just this past weekend in hissister's house.  The video was seen by two reporters at the Globe & Mail (some still images from the video were obtained too, including the one pictured on the right, courtesy of Gawker.)

MALE PATRON #2: How about Karen Stintz?
FORD: I’d like to fucking jam her but she don’t want it. I can’t talk like this anymore. [Responding to a female voice] I’m so sorry, I forgot there was a woman in the house.

Earlier in the tape, apparently PC leader Tim Hudak's support for oppressed LGBT people in Russia caused RoFo to abandon his support for his late dad's party:

ROB FORD: [They] put this fucking flag up, ahead of our Canadian flag. I said, no, [that’s-what-I’m-trying-to-say] that’s bullshit. Bullshit. They went to Queen’s Park, they said “no way.” Tim Hudak comes out and says “yeah I agree with all the gays.” That’s it. I lost my conservative value on the....Right there, he lost my vote.

Then later:

MALE PATRON: How do you fuck your wife?
FORD: I’d fuck her wife. I’d fuck—what the fuck? … Now, I won’t go that far … that’s when we start talking my language…

Then the attack on some Italian guys nearby in the bar and threats of violence:

FORD: [I heard a] dumb fucking wop over there, sorry. Is that racist? Sorry. If you don’t get a shot in two seconds I’ll knock your fucking teeth out. No, no, I don’t want that fucking dago down there to start. 
FEMALE VOICE: Everyone is allowed their down time.
MALE VOICE: That’s what I’m saying. It’s after nine, it’s over.
FEMALE VOICE: What do you want?
FORD: I want to give him two shots … ‘cause those two dagos are drinking together.
MALE VOICE: Did you just call me a dago?  Really? 

To all those Italians in Toronto and elsewhere: welcome to the club (of people Rob Ford hates)!  Although perhaps a welcome isn't necessary as Ford has infamously used "Gino boy" to describe another colleague in the past. 

Despite all the empty assurances of getting his life in order, I'm sure Rob Ford has been behaving like this the whole time.  Nothing changed after the scandal blew up in November.  The only reason he's going on leave now is because he got caught on video and audio.   He has yet to apologize to the people he offended in his Monday night audio recording.  

This morning, Ford left his Etobicoke house allegedly to head to re-hab.  Luggage was with him and even a passport.  Is he going to the family condo in Florida for 30 days?  Is that his re-hab program? 

If he is seeking "help", we need a real accounting of that help.  Otherwise, this habitual liar will again try to pull the rug over all of us. 

I'm sick to death of the Ford family and their constant whining about how tough it is for Rob.  Today his enabling brother Doug thanked the public for their support and prayers.  They still have no idea. 

There's no way a serious drug and alcohol addict like Rob Ford, if he is enrolled in a serious rehab program, can seek re-election and continue another term as mayor.  Addicts need to minimize stress and clearly being mayor was too much for Ford. 

If Ford shows up in 30 days after some unexplained "help" and declares his re-election campaign back on, the total fraud of his rehabilitation will be exposed. 

Rob Ford needs to resign now and go away.  Only then will he and his family deserve the "privacy" that his brother is asking for this morning. 

One nugget of hope did appear in the drunken audio recording.  If Ford loses this year, he's going to California.  We can only hope:

FORD:  No, no, I don’t mind. Listen, I don’t mind … As long as they vote, I’d rather them vote against me than not vote at all.  I’d rather lose to Olivia Chow than lose to anyone, man, because you know what? [The city’s] going to get fucked so bad, they’re going to say ‘thank you.’ Nah, I’m not coming back. Once I’m done, I’m done. I’m going to California.