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Checking in on the US Democratic contenders for President

So it’s getting to that time where everyone is declaring they’re running for president in the US – the election of course is in November 2020… and politics always is in overdrive south of the border – but even more-so with the tumultuous election and reign of Donald Trump.  The fact there are so many Democrats declaring their intentions shows how revved up they are to defeat him and get him out of office.

I’ve only started following the contenders, but the person I’ve been very impressed with so far is the US Democratic Senator from California, Kamala Harris.  A former prosecutor, she was very thorough and professional in her questioning of Brett Kavanaugh during his Supreme Court nomination hearing.  She also did a town hall on CNN last week, and I was very impressed with her answering of the questions and her demeanour:

She has been declared a front-runner by several political commentators, and I can see why.  There is a long way to go  of course, but I will  be following Senator Harris closely.



Doug Ford backs down on attacking Greenbelt protections.

It appears that there was a lot of blowback to this plan over the Christmas holidays to Conservative MPP’s. Good – it was a terrible idea:

The Ford government is scrapping a controversial plan that would have allowed municipalities to opt out of some provincial planning rules to attract new commercial development, bypassing environmental laws in the process. Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark announced Wednesday on Twitter that the Progressive Conservatives would not proceed with a schedule in its omnibus legislation, Bill 66, after “concerns were raised by MPPs, municipalities and stakeholders.” Schedule 10 would have amended the province’s Planning Act to allow municipalities to create “open for business” zoning bylaws allowing them to circumvent existing provincial legislation, including the Greenbelt Act, Clean Water Act and Great Lakes Protection Act, in order to entice major employers.

However, as stated later in this article by environmental advocates,, Ford and his PC government appear to be eager to do anything to weaken environmental laws to make Ontario “open for business” (read – help their developer friends get rich), so constant vigilance and pressure must be kept on this government. This is the 2nd time Ford has been caught trying to do things to weaken the GreenBelt (recall he was caught musing during the election campaign about easing laws and was forced to backtrack).  I will not be surprised if there are future attempts.




Merry Christmas 2018!

Merry Christmas to everyone. I hope you have a great holiday!



Doug Ford for the People? More Like For Big Business (Bill 66 discussion)

So, the Ontario government released or introduced Bill 66 today in the Legislature. It does many appalling things under the guise of “opening Ontario for business”.  It may open Ontario for business but it strips the public of protections for clean water, health and safety regulations for wastewater and food inspection can be bypassed, and many other things.

Check out this Twitter feed here for more details, but here’s an example of some of the overzealousness the Ford government is displaying in getting rid of “regulations”:

I would like to know what the rationale is behind this dumb move. Does Ford and the PC Government actually think this is justified because less red tape for the cellphone providers and will provide jobs because they dont have to worry about consumer protections anymore?

Ford and the Conservative government are not “for the people” with these bypassing or elimination of health and consumer protections. These moves are designed for big businesses.. and these moves aren’t going to hire more people. It might make them more sick or taken advantage of by big business companies however.


Hamilton’s Power Couple

I’m being slightly facetious.. but a big congrats to my cousin and cousin-in-law JP Danko and Dawn Danko for being elected to Hamilton City Council and School Trustee respectively. Dawn was just named vice chair of the Hamilton District School board as well. Everyone in the family is very proud of them.


Ontario Conservatives present a “climate change plan” that has been shown to fail.

A follow-up to my last post: The Ontario Conservative government has finally presented its plan for mitigating climate change. No carbon tax! No cap and trade!

Sounds great.. until you see the details:

“Rather than imposing a price on carbon pollution as a cost of doing business, the Tories are shifting the burden to taxpayers by making them subsidize big business. Instead of polluters paying up, polluters are being paid off with $400 million in corporate carbon welfare…”

Basically. .they’re modelling this plan on a similar plan from Australia, where another conservative government also balked at carbon pricing. The result there? Emissions have climbed at the fastest rate since 2004.

This is an attempt by the COnservatives to show they’re doing something about climate change. The attempt is a poor one. It is another reason I refuse to call this bunch in Ontario “Progressive COnservatives” There is nothing progressive about this lot.


Election 1 yr away; Battle on Carbon Pricing Favors Liberals

We have seen Conservative Governments in Ontario and Saskatchewan balk at carbon pricing and the Federal Conservatives basically trying to use the old “tax on everything line” they used with success against Stephane Dion’s Green Shift a decade ago, cancelling climate change fighting programs and/or failing to offer (viable) alternatives.

At the moment, the governing Federal Liberal Party’s climate change plan appears to give them both the moral high ground on fighting climate change, as well as a factor in popular support.

Two polls to point to to show this: Innovative Research published this poll on the Federal Liberal Carbon Tax (views in Ontario specifically) and highlighted it on Twitter. This poll shows that while the “populist base” of the Ontario Conservatives remains adamantly opposed to carbon pricing, the class of Conservatives that Innovative calls “Deferential” is more split on the topic.

Also today, perhaps not so coincidentally, a new poll from Nanos Research shows the Liberals enjoying a double digit lead on the Conservative Party.

If the Federal Conservatives under Andrew Scheer are so eager to make the federal carbon tax/ carbon pricing scheme an election issue, they need to do more then bash it; they need to show Canadians an alternative plan to fighting GHG emissions, something they so far have failed to do, though Scheer keeps promising one “soon” (TM). (Ford’s government hasn’t published their proposals to fight GHG emissions either, by the way)

It must be a pretty complex “plan” if they can’t release it yet; or maybe they don’t have one yet… or they’re waiting for an election campaign so there will be less time to scrutinize it. Alternatively, they could just tell us what they probably believe: there’s no such thing as man-made climate change or if there is, we can’t or don’t want to do anything about it. If we can’t do it for free.. its not worth doing!

That might not go over well with the electorate.


Canada signs on to new NAFTA.. er… USMCA trade deal

It’s not a perfect deal, and there are some things in it I’m not totally happy about (ie the pharmaceutical companies getting 10 year patent protection on drugs vs the 8 years it had been), but given who was in the Oval Office, and given what we saved (Chapter 19 dispute resolution panels will still be in place and supply management is still intact, despite giving up some more market access), I think most Canadians will be relieved we got a deal signed and they’ll be able to live with this deal.

It is notable that Conservatives who were recruited to help the Trudeau government with this deal have come out praising the government for their ability to get it signed. Statements like this by former Prime Minister Mulroney and Harper cabinet ministers James Moore and Rona Ambrose wil make it a tad awkward for Andrew Scheer, Michelle Remple, Pierre Polievre and the usual CPC attack dogs for attacking a deal their former colleagues and a former Conservative PM has just endorsed and applauded the Liberal government for signing. Andrew Scheer and his most prominent MP’s best play may be to be bi-partisan on this.

Big congratulations to Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and her team of Canadian negotiators for getting a new trade agreement in a very hostile environment.

As for Trump; if he wants to trumpet how this is a “new” deal and not just a refining of the old one, and wants to rename it.. let him have his day.

Personally.. I hope Trump will now ignore us for the rest of his time in office.


Flawed Ford Logic On NWS Clause

Of all the scenarios out there where I’d envision a provincial government in Ontario invoking or trying to invoke Section 33 of the Charter (the “notwithstanding clause”) to override court decisions based on the Charter… a situation involving a BIll that shrinks municipal government in Toronto wasnt in my top 100.

SO in one sense, I find it farcical Premier FOrd is using a sledgehammer from the Charter to push through what he wants the size of Toronto City COuncil to be. On the other hand, it shows (as he warns himself) that he will be willing to use it in far more serious matters of legislation.

Take note: Mike Harris, the former PC Premier of Ontario, another hard-nosed Conservative, once said he didn’t think the NWS Clause should ever be used to override court decisions the government didn’t like. Ford went there and broke Ontario precedent.

The other thing about this whole affair is the flawed logic and his advisers are taking about the political strategy behind this. Apparently Doug Ford and his advisers are trying to use his use of the Notwithstanding Clause to show how bold and tough he is.. and contrast that to Trudeau (because apparently, Doug also wants to be involved in federal politics as well as municipal.. I’m surprised he has enough time to be Ontario Premier).

One part of this strategy perplexes me: this quote from an “anonymous PC Source” who’s obviously in Doug’s inner circle:

“This is showing bold leadership. Trudeau could have (invoked the) notwithstanding (clause) on the pipeline, but he didn’t,” the source said, referring to the Federal Court of Appeal’s ruling”

The only way Trudeau could have used the Notwithstanding Clause on the pipeline is if the Fed Court of Appeal used something in Section 2 or in 7-15 for making the ruling that they did. I’ve scanned over the Federal Court of Appeal’s full ruling ..I don’t see any mention of Section 2 or 7-15 being used as a reason for that court’s verdict. Nor can anyone else, I’ve asked.

Note to anonymous Ford adviser: The NWS Clause can’t be used to override every court decision that goes against you.If you’re going to try to claim the Pipeline ruling could somehow be overturned by NWS Clause.. you’re going to get shut down very fast in public.

I really hope Ford or his advisers openly claims that Transmountain could have been forced through with NWS Clause (as the anon PC Adviser claimed in the Star article). It’ll be easily refuted and show how ridiculous this group is .


Time to walk away from Trump, Ministers Freeland and PM Trudeau

Social media these days goes very fast, as you know from reading Twitter. BLogs can seem a bit slow in that respect. By the time I post this.. it may be outdated or overtaken by new events.

That being said, this is an inflammatory a piece as you’ll ever see about Trump’s “off the record comments” regarding Canada and NAFTA negotiations:

You can read the summary here from the excellent Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale’s Twitter feed:


How the Canadian government stays in talks now and gets a deal without being branded as surrendering to Trump I don’t know. The Canadian public was giving the Trudeau government a lot of leeway on NAFTA, saying if they failed..they’d be blaming Trump and the US a lot more then they would Trudeau and Canada according to a published Abacus poll. That # should go even higher now wit these remarks.

Unless the Trump team decides to dramatically go against their boss and actually start negotiating in goo faith, rather then trying to insult us or bring Canada to its knees.. we should walk away. This Friday “deadline” was artificial to begin with.. but if Trump decides to go ahead and cancel the deal and try to get Congress to go bilateral with Mexico.. so be it.

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