Baby Harris

Baby Harris

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Neconservative Takeover of Canadian Toryism: Introduction

A TROUBLING ALLIANCE: The Neconservative Takeover of Canadian Toryism

In May of 1996, Ezra Levant and right-wing journalist David Frum; held a Winds of Change conference in Calgary, with the purpose of getting together Jean Charest, the new leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, and Preston Manning, leader of the Reform Party.

The goal, according to Frum, was to discuss the prospects of a merger between the two parties. He believed that a vigorous airing of views behind closed doors, would help to develop a common agenda, and create the momentum that was needed to unite the right.

The conference turned out to be both more and less than expected. In terms of bridging the differences between the parties of Preston Manning and Jean Charest, the conference made little headway. The conference did endorse a move that had been underway for some time to field a single Reform-Progressive Conservative candidate in the federal riding of Brant. But the chasm in terms of the egos and pride of the leaders; the different attitudes that the parties have towards populist initiatives; Reform's origins in western alienation, Social Credit, and religious fundamentalism; and the fact that Reform emerged in part as an angry protest against the policies of a Progressive Conservative government made a rapprochement unlikely. The conference also revealed deep divisions between so-called fiscal conservatives who wanted a smaller role for the state and a climate that would foster business growth and social conservatives who wanted greater state involvement in legislating morality whether on abortion, criminal justice, or "family" values. (1)

Ernest Manning, former Social Credit premier of Alberta, and Preston Manning's father; had unsuccessfully attempted such a merger three decades before, but the neoconservative movement now had the media to manipulate public opinion, and an extremely weakened national PC Party.
The Winds of Change conference occurred at a time of both political crisis and rising influence for the right in Canada. On one hand, the Reform and Progressive Conservative parties continue to battle each other for supremacy on the right, splintering the vote. The conference did little if anything to alleviate the problem. On the other hand, the entire agenda of Canadian politics has been influenced by an intellectual climate that is shaped more and more by right-wing journalism. (1)
The executive of the Progressive Conservative party suggested that their members stay away, preferring instead to try to rebuild. Charest attended but nixed any talks of a merger.

However, one speech made at the conference, paved the way for the creation of a party of the right, based on neoconservative principles, already being implemented South of the border. The speaker was Stephen Harper, then a Reform MP, and soon to be president of the right-wing advocacy group, the National Citizens Coalition.

He laid out a plan to build a party "around three main elements: populist reformers, strongest in the West but also present in rural Ontario; traditional Tories, strong in Ontario and Atlantic Canada; and francophone nationalists in Quebec." (2)

Harper detested Red Tories, whom he referred to as 'Pink Liberals', and called the term 'Progressive Conservatism', an oxymoron.

He needed to dig into the conservative base that had rejected the modernization of the party. Whose values fell in line with Reform Party values. And an alliance with the Bloc, was not out of the question.
The Bloc Quebecois is strongest in rural Quebec, among voters who would not be out of place in Red Deer, except that they speak French rather than English. They are nationalist for much the same reason that Albertans are populist -- they care about their local identity and the culture that nourishes it, and they see the federal government as a threat to their way of life. (3)
And while it thought difficult to draw votes away from the Bloc, there was another way to assure cooperation:
...the "alliance" of centre-right parties might require — to finally surmount the Liberal seat count in the House of Commons — an arrangement to be negotiated with the Bloc Quebecois to secure that party's support in Parliament. (4)

Quebec votes have proven to be more fluid than originally thought, as seen with the NDP surge this last election. But can it hold?

The Conservatives will now do everything necessary to take these seats away from the NDP without risking a return of Bloc Quebecois.

But this small book deals with history of the Alliance Party, it's impact on Canadian Conservatism, and the heavy influence of the American right, that contributed so much to it's success.

Sources:

1. The Winds of Right-wing Change in Canadian Journalism, By David Taras (University of Calgary), Canadian Journal of Communication, Vol 21, No 4, 1996

2. Mr. Harper's road map to power: The directions are in the Winds of Change speech he gave 10 years ago this week, By Tom Flanagan, Globe and Mail, May 23, 2006

3. Our Benign Dictatorship, By Tom Flanagan and Stephen Harper, Next Magazine, January 1997

4. Right-wing roadmap? Harper wrote of 'effective coalition' plan in 1996 article, By Randy Boswell, Postmedia News, April 24, 2011

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The End of Public Healthcare. Are we Really Ready For This?

On May 8th, 2005, then leader of the Opposition, Stephen Harper, made a bold announcement. He promised that if he was elected Prime Minister of Canada, one of the first things on his agenda would be to privatize the Canadian Healthcare System. (1)

This was just a week after he gave a lecture at the Fraser Institute, where he was in fact introduced as Canada's next PM.

He doesn't speak about that now, but then he doesn't really speak about anything of substance. Have his views changed since 2005? Hardly. On a visit to the United States during the debates over Obama's healthcare plan, he was asked by CBS about Canada's healthcare system, which is the envy of many other nations. He told the reporter that he really didn't know much about it, because it was a provincial issue.

The CANADA Health Act and the country's leader claimed not to know much about it? Given that he once headed up the National Citizens Coalition, a group founded to abolish public healthcare in this country, I contend that he probably knows the Canada Health Act better than most.

Then and Now


In the Spring of 2005, many were worried about the direction of our medicare. Preston Manning and Mike Harris had just released a Fraser Institute report calling for more healthcare privatization. The report said that those who could afford it, should have the "freedom" to choose their own healthcare – whether it is for-profit or non-profit.



The report failed to recognize the demise of the non-profit healthcare system for everyone, once for-profit health care is allowed to escalate.

Why should we care? I can give you an example.

When Mike Harris was premier of Ontario he began to introduce user fees. My daughter, who is disabled and on the Ontario Disability Support Program, injured her knee when at a soccer tournament for the Special Olympics. The injury required surgery, and the surgeon recommended physical therapy, during the healing process. But there was a catch. We were told that if she wanted to use the public healthcare system, she would have to go on a waiting list, and it could be months before she was called.

Or, she could attend a private clinic, partially subsidized, which would cost her $15.00 per visit. I know that doesn't sound like much, but the doctor recommended three visits a week. ODSP wouldn't cover it since there was a public option available.

$45.00 per week for someone on a pension, or who is a member of the "working poor", is a fortune. It means roughly $200.00 out of the monthly budget. She couldn't afford it so we paid for her therapy sessions. I was later told by her worker that if we gave her money for this, she was supposed to claim it, to be deducted from her benefit.

I don't think that worker ever recovered from the strip I tore off her. I was livid. She never pursued it further. (they have since laxed the rules but only slightly) Of course what this means, is that only the wealthy will get top rate care, while everyone else is at the mercy of what will eventually be a virtually bankrupt public system.

And in the spring of 2005, the hot topic at Canadian water coolers was the future of something, that we by then took for granted (2). That the letter and spirit of the Canada Health Act guaranteed the same level of medicare for everyone, and that this was now being threatened.

It didn't help the Neocons that the Alberta premier at the time, Ralph Klein, was traversing about praising the fact that there would be lots of money to be made in the industry (3). And now Stephen Harper had come out publicly with his pledge. And while Harper retracted his statement six years ago, what has he done since becoming prime minister to strengthen, or at least not further weaken, our medicare?

Our health minister has snubbed important medical conferences
, prompting the question: "Does Canada still have a federal health minister? And, more important, does it have a government with the slightest interest in maintaining the national health-insurance program called medicare? For all practical purposes, the answer to both of those questions is a resounding “No.”

Erroll Mendes
, lawyer, author and Professor of law at the University of Ottawa, was interviewed recently about the Contempt of Parliament charges against the Harper government, and he brought up another important point. Renegotiation with the provinces and the Canada Health Act, is scheduled for 2014.

With Stephen Harper refusing to provide the costs of big ticket items like the fighter jets, corporate tax cuts and his new law and order agenda, how will Parliamentarians know whether or not there is any money to sustain medicare?

Which brings us to another concern. Instead of allowing Parliament to examine the issue, Harper has handed it over to the unelected senate. A senate that he now controls.

Healthcare vs Sickcare


Another issue with the corporate sector taking over the industry, is that the focus will be on what Liberal health critic, Carolyn Bennett, calls "sickcare". An auto mechanic doesn't care what kind of car you buy or its gas mileage. Their only interest is fixing it when it breaks down.

With health becoming a for-profit industry, again the focus will only be on fixing you when you break down. We will be reduced to a series of pay scales, based on the plan that we or our employer has purchased. There will be free plans for the poor, but what quality of care will they receive?

But healthcare is about more than just tending the sick. It's also about prevention of illness, and under corporate care, prevention is a word to avoid at all costs.

Those in the medical profession understand the need to eat healthy and maintain a healthy lifestyle. But poverty is one of the root causes of illness. So healthcare must also address feeding and housing the poor, if we want to keep everyone as healthy as possible.

The working poor or those engaged in precarious employment, often have no sick leave plan, so they go to work when they shouldn't, not able to lose even a day's pay. Under a corporate system none of these things will be factored in. The more sick people, the more profit. Healthcare should not only be an election issue, but it should be the election issue. And remember, just because Stephen Harper no longer discusses it, does not mean that he has changed his plans. He's just hoping we won't notice until it's too late.


Sources:


1. Stephen Harper Promises To Privatize Canadian Healthcare, Lilith News, May 17th 2005


2. What separates a wrestling match from a health care, Globe and Mail, April 28, 2005


3. "Tories to Klein: keep your mouth shut", cupe.ca, April 28, 2005

Saturday, March 19, 2011

So Many Reasons

The Pope and Steven Harper are on the same stage in Stadium

in front of a huge crowd..

...The Pope leans towards Mr. Harper and said, "Do you know that
with one little wave of my hand I can make every person in this crowd go wild with joy? This joy will not be a momentary display, but will go deep into their hearts and they'll forever speak of this day and rejoice!"

Harper replied, "I seriously doubt that! With one little wave of your hand ... show me!"

So the Pope backhanded him and knocked him off the stage!

AND THE CROWD ROARED & CHEERED WILDLY!

Kind of brings a tear to your eye, doesn't it?

The Tory Party in Canada has Disbanded

Contact the Governor General: The Monster War Criminal Harper is Shutting Down Parliament Again!

Is Jason Kenney a Dumber Version of Joe Lieberman?

How Focus on the Family is Destroying Children

My Postings on How the Reformers Have Embarrassed us on the World Stage

Harper Government has Become an Embarrassment

Henny-Penny McKay Passed Over

Stephen Harper Embarrassed Us on the World Stage Again

Harper and His Government Continue to Embarrass Us.

The Less We Care the Better Harper Looks. How Incredibly Sad

Some Canadians Abroad Now Wearing American Flags on Their Backpacks.

Conservatives Sit Down For Canada and Leave National Portrait Gallery Homeless

When Canada Was a Leader Our Initiatives Saved Lives

Harper's India Trip Marred With Controversy and Chaos

Harper Admits India Trip Not For Us But Him

Stephen Harper Has Failed us Again. We are no Longer a Nation That Dreams.

Harper Fails Us Again. When is he Going to Stand Up For Canada?

Under Stephen Harper we are Weakening

Are we Now Discovering Why Harper Hired Ari Fleischer?



. Stephen Harper Our First Republican Prime Minister

2. Stephen Harper Says "I am Not a Crook"

3. Stephen Harper's True Religion: American Money and Power

4. Will the Ottawa Press Gallery Need an American Passport to Talk to Our Prime Minister?

5. This is Canada Mr. Harper. Keep the Republican Nonsense on the Other Side of the Border

6. Stephen Harper Creates 'B' Movie for Preston Manning

7. This is Canada Mr. Harper. Keep the Republican Nonsense on the Other Side of the Border

8. We've Been "Finkel-thinked", Not Just Republicanized. Thank you Stephen Harper

9. How Do You Keep Karl Rove Off Parliament Hill?

10. Does Stephen Harper Think He's a U.S. President?

1. Elizabeth May Weighs in on Harper's Dictatorship
2. I've Been Practicing my Goose-Step But I Keep Kicking Things.
3. Now That Canada is Officially a Dictatorship, Will we Get Uniforms?
4. News of Canada's end of Democracy Gone International
5. Conservatives Secretly Trying to Create More Conservative Seats Under Guise of Democratic Reform
6. Nova Scotia is Concerned With the Death of Democracy in Canada
7. Canadian Athletes Banned From Playing For Canada
8. The Reformers Changed the Nature of Canadian Politics
9. Ted Sorenson Reminds us of What Strong Leadership Really Means
10. I Want to be Prime Minister so I don't Have to be Accountable for Anything
11. Contact the Governor General: The Monster War Criminal Harper is Shutting Down Parliament Again!
12. The Disconnect Between Harper and the Canadian Identity has Been Exposed
13. It May Take a Parliamentary Crisis to Remove the Dictator
14. Stephen Harper's Comedy Act Takes a Sinister Turn as he Accuses Canadians of Being Evil
15. Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho, it's Off to Work the Liberals Go ... Where they'll Dig, Dig, Dig, Dig ...
16. I Agree With Andrew Coyne. Parliament Should Meet Anyway
17. Harper's Dictatorship Doesn't Have to Mean the Death of the Left. We Just need a Transfusion.
18. How Many Times Can Harper Abuse Power to Prevent Criminal Investigations?
19. Harper the Dictator Must be Stopped But Only the Governor General Can Do It Now
20. My Very Very Melancholy Moment - Hallelujah
21. Stephen Harper is no Longer a Threat to Democracy Because we Have NO DEMOCRACY LEFT!
22. Will Michaëlle Jean Make Harper's Dictatorship Official?
23. Is Stephen Harper Planning to Prorogue Parliament to Avoid Facing Detainee Investigation?
24. Canadians Turned Off Politics Means Neo-Conservatism Scores Another Victory
25. The Calgary School, the Firewall Letter and Harper's Vision for Canada
26. Harper Gives his Watchdogs an Early Christmas Gift. He Had Them all Neutered
27. Chris White is My Hero. 80,000 and Counting Members of Anti-Prorogation Facebook Group
28. From Sea to Shining Sea a Movement is Growing to Remove the Dictator
29. Taxation Without Representation. Rick Mercer Sure Got That Right
30. Harper Once Again Dividing Country for Political Gain
31. Media Finally Catching on But They Helped to Create This Monster
32. Stephen Harper Underestimates the Canadian People

The Tainting of the RCMP Has Left Them Open to Criticism

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Rightwing Ideology: Life Begins at Conception But Ends at Birth

"These proposals included cries for billions of new money for social assistance in the name of “child poverty” and for more business subsidies in the name of “cultural identity”. In both cases I was sought out as a rare public figure to oppose such projects.” (Stephen Harper, The Bulldog, National Citizens Coalition, February 1997)

Gloria Steinem was on Bill Maher this week and they were discussing rightwing/Tea Party ideology.

Their latest protests centre on the abortion issue, and the recent drive to force those considering abortion to have a sonogram first. The idea of course is the belief that once a pregnant woman or girl hears her baby's heartbeat, she will change her mind.

The Tea Party/conservative movement is nothing if not a lesson in paradox, because while they demand that the government stays out of their lives, they are forcing government intervention on the lives of women.

They are even holding public rallies with a pregnant woman on stage hooked up to a sonogram, and a voice over of the baby talking to the crowd.

But Steinem made a very compelling statement, when it comes to the rightwing and the abortion issue. She said that for them "life begins at conception and ends at birth". That's it in a nutshell. Because the new 'right' philosophy is all about ending social programs. They don't care about poverty. In their judgement if you're poor it's because you're lazy.

They just want those babies born.

In 2006 Michael Ignatieff wrote a piece for MacLeans magazine in which he said, in part:
Canadians have created a distinctly progressive political culture in North America. We believe in universal rights of access to publicly funded health care; we believe in the protection of group rights to language; in group rights to self-determination for Aboriginal peoples; we believe in the equality rights of all citizens, regardless of sexual orientation, including rights to marriage. Strong majorities of Canadians believe that while abortion should be rare, it should be a protected right for all women. (1)
Few challenged his statements because they were a fair representation of who we are as Canadians. And our views have not really changed, as a recent survey suggests. What has changed is a politicians ability to express those views.

When Ignatieff suggested that Canada's maternal health initiative should include safe abortions, he was accused of promoting eugenics, suggesting that he was trying to decrease the black African population, forgetting that unsafe abortions are doing just that. It has been established that 36,000 women die annually from unsafe abortions in Africa. Good child bearing women, something tea party logic should be fighting against happening.

Many of these women were raped, as that is increasingly becoming common as a weapon of war. Something our foreign service can no longer speak of due to the change in the language of our foreign policy. According to Adrian Bradbury with DFAT:
Make no mistake, these semantic changes represent fundamental shifts to Canadian foreign policy. Each of the banned or altered terms carry with it significant policy implications, most related to the international human rights agenda. For example, when speaking of the war in the DRC, where upwards of 3 million people have been killed, and rape is widely used as a tool of war, the terms "impunity" and "justice" can no longer be used when calling for an end to, and punishment for, sexual violence.
And the Harper government has also reduced foreign aid to Africa, so again, their interest in a woman's reproductive rights, end at birth.

The abortion issue discussed on Bill Maher, included the Tea Party/conservatives attack on Planned Parenthood. And while only 2% of PP's mandate includes abortion, it is estimated that if it is dismantled, abortions would actually increase by about 40,00 a year.

In Canada, Stephen Harper and Stockwell Day have already eliminated funding to this organization. In 2006, they received $1,285,674 in federal grants, while in 2009, only $9,381.

Furthermore, Conservative Brad Trost circulated a petition to go after the International Planned Parenthood Federation in November of 2009 and in 2010:
One of the world’s biggest health-care providers for vulnerable women appears to have fallen victim to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s zero tolerance policy on abortion. In London, International Planned Parenthood Federation is waiting for a call from Canada that will preserve life-saving programs that help 31 million women and children.
Again this is very short sighted, and yet another case where ideology trumps factual information.

Because of organizations like Planned Parenthood in Canada , between 1996 and 2006, the abortion rate in young women, saw a sharp decline. Canada’s teen birth and abortion rate drops by 36.9 per cent. Preaching abstinence doesn't work.

So if the Tea Party/conservative movement was serious about tackling the abortion issue, they would promote safe sex, the eradication of child poverty and income disparity.

And if you think that in 2006, Michael Ignatieff was only saying what he thought we wanted to hear to get elected, this is what he wrote of poverty in 2000, just three years after Stephen Harper boasted that he was a rare public figure who wasn't afraid to speak out against public money going to fight child poverty.
.... abundant societies that could actually solve the problem of poverty seem to care less about doing so than societies of scarcity that can't. This paradox may help to explain why the rights revolution of the past forty years has made inequalities of gender, race, and sexual orientation visible, while the older inequalities of class and income have dropped out of the registers of indignation. Abundance has awakened us to denials of self while blinding us to poverty. We idly suppose that the poor have disappeared. They haven't. They've merely become invisible. (2)
Another fundamental difference between Stephen Harper and Michael Ignatieff.

Sources:

1. Michael Ignatieff: what I would do if I were the Prime Minister: From Afghanistan to Quebec, education to the environment, Ignatieff lays out his bold, progressive vision for Canada. A Maclean's exclusive, September 01, 2006

2. The Rights Revolution: CBC Massey Lectures, By Michael Ignatieff, Anansi Books, 2000, ISBN: 978-0-88784-762-2, Pg. 92

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Welcome to Rob Ford's Tea Party

Rob Ford is announcing another Canadian right-wing AstroTurf "Taxpayer" advocacy group. Ho hum.

He's calling it the first of it's kind and suggesting that it will represent centre-right issues. The Tea Party and all of these similar groups have three things in common:

1. They promote privatization so are always funded by corporations.

2. They represent far-right causes and the only thing 'centre' about them is the centre of the last donut Ford ate, and the centre of the Republican Party who usually writes their policies.

3. They are not new but part of a major network of right-wing AstroTurf groups posing as populism.

Harper didn't get his Fox News North so he's hoping this will ease some of his pain.

A few other right-wing, Astro-Turf groups behind Stephen Harper and the right-wing movement (partial list) include:

National Citizens Coalitions

Ontarians for Responsible Government

Canadian Taxpayers Federation

ProudToBeCanadian (mostly old Reformers and Ann Coulter) You'll have a hard time finding anything Canadian about this group. They even sport an American flag and the Tea Party

The Civitas Society (grew out of the old Northern Foundation)

Progressive Group for Independent Business

The Canadian Constitution Foundation

The Canadian Christian Coalition

Hamilton-based Work Research Foundation

TaxTyranny.ca

Americans for Prosperty (Tea Party group)

Christian Legal Fellowship

REAL Women of Canada

And this is before we get into the think tanks.

In Kingston, Ontario, the Conservative candidate, Alicia Gordon, is presenting herself as a moderate conservative, even suggesting that she will be running on a campaign of strengthening social services. (stop laughing dammit. Every time I say that, the earth shakes from so many belly laughs.)

But Ford reminds Canadians that Harper's party is more tea party, than any kind of conservatism we've ever had in Canada before. It is rumoured that Don Cherry will be promoting Gordon. Don Cherry of "left-wing pinko" fame.

Ford is also suggesting that left wingers include environmental groups. Since when has protecting the environment been a left wing issue?

Ford's Tea party will campaign against everything that is important to Canadians. At a time of record debt and deficit, tax reduction should not be made a priority. Proper use of tax money is a much better initiative.

I hope his tea party is loud and proud. It will be like taking candy from a baby.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Will G-20 Horror Show Hurt Tim Hudak's Chances of Becoming Premier of Ontario?

The G-20 debacle that saw riot police beat up peaceful protesters, while under orders to leave vandals alone to do their jobs, was a painful reminder to Ontarians unfortunate enough to have lived under the regime of Mike Harris.

Riot police became the norm then as he locked us out of Queen's Park; our Queen's Park, while also locking us out of his thoughts, except at election time.

His was the party of big business where all the real power was in the backroom.

Head of that backroom was Stephen Harper's current chief of staff, Guy Giorno, and his second in command, was Deb Hutton, now married to current neocon leader, Tim Hudak.
I tell my friend from Brampton that if he wants to get into the cabinet, like his colleague, he should be good to Guy Giorno and Deb Hutton. Deb's now been with the Tory caucus 10 years; celebrating her 33rd birthday in mid-August. She has all kinds of power .... All these people advise, so what I'm saying to the members of the Conservative caucus who want into the cabinet is, yes, be nice to Mike, laugh very loudly at the jokes, lead the applause when Mike speaks and give an answer that zaps the opposition, but the most important thing is to ingratiate yourself with Guy Giorno and the whiz kids. (1)
After reports of "unprecedented" police brutality during the G-20 weekend in Toronto, Hudak wrote a column suggesting that the police were blameless. But not everyone was convinced.
I wouldn't have expected Tim Hudak to put forward a really nuanced post-G20 treatise on the balance between security and civil liberties. That's not the way opposition politics tends to work. Still, I would have expected something a little more sophisticated than this. The Conservative Leader’s op-ed in Tuesday’s Toronto Sun came off like something on that paper's letters page, or like a transcript of a kneejerk call to a talk-radio station.

It's not that Hudak thinks violent criminals should be prosecuted, though I'm unclear who he thinks he's debating on that front. It's not even that he manages to work in "hooligans" five times, and "thugs" another three, which offends me as a writer if not a reader. What bothers me is that those who dare complain about any police conduct whatsoever are dismissed as "usual-suspect special interest groups" engaged in an "orchestrated attempt ... to demonize our police forces." (2)
And this:
Many, many props to my colleague Adam Radwanski for calling out Tim Hudak on his law-and-order screed in the Toronto Sun ... Taking seriously the concerns of citizens who saw the police effectively curb, if not suspend, civil liberties during the G20 is not to side against the cops and with over-privileged affluent white kids with white teeth aka thugs and hooligans, as Christie Blatchford suggested in this newspaper yesterday. The police board inquiry is, one hopes, the thin edge of the wedge. As Toronto councilor Adam Vaughan correctly pointed out, given that policing at the G20 was a multijurisdictional affair, a provincial inquiry is likely the only way to hold all the various levels of government to account. (3)
Yeah, he'll get elected.

The Globe included the following video. Exactly who were the thugs and hooligans? The police had this small group of civilians completely surrounded. They had nowhere to go.



Now watch this video from the Mike Harris days. Protesters marched against the Harris decision to reduce welfare payments by 21.6%. After the riot police manage to get the protesters across the road, they charged them and began their senseless beatings.



Welcome to Neoconservatism, which is just a fancy word for fascism. Tim Hudak is the protege of Mike Harris, and what Harris didn't teach him, his wife took care of.

Sources:

1.
Official Records for June 23, 1998, Legislative Assembly of Ontario, Discussion Bill 25

2. Tim Hudak cops out, By Adam Radwanski, Globe and Mail, July 7, 2010

3. Thugs, hooligans and other citizenry, By Douglas Bell, Globe and Mail, July 8, 2010

Monday, February 14, 2011

MPP Randy Hillier Considers Resigning While Trying to Create Another Walkerton Tragedy

See how clever that headline was? Unrelated video with Hillier promising to contemplate his resignation, while the story is about his interference in municipal matters.

Seems like Hudak and Harper have Randy Hillier and Scott Reid well trained in the school of Leo Strauss. Divide and conquer politics that pit residents against each other, while they pick off their core support.

Dean Del Mastro did this, using our funds to put citizens of Peterborough in conflict. Helena Guergis caused an uproar when she announced an indoor soccer field for a private religious school.

This divisive style of politics is part of the neo-conservative strategy. In the case of Reid and Hillier, they use our money to send out 'surveys' ... comb through them looking for the rednecks, and then start soliciting them for campaign funds.

They also know how hard they can drive "hot button" issues and keep things stirred up to ensure their supporters vote, while turning others completely off the process.

Great strategy if it wasn't tearing this country apart.

Ballots distributed in Lanark Highlands despite County Council's opposition
November 26, 2009
By Chris Must

EMC News - The solution to Lanark Highlands' polluted wells being promoted by MP Scott Reid and MPP Randy Hillier was tried in the 1980s and didn't work, the township's deputy mayor told the EMC this week.

In a letter accompanying a mail-in ballot sent to township residents by Reid and Hillier, the federal and provincial representatives argued that well remediation should be carried out immediately by installing filters in private wells which have been contaminated by leakage from neighbouring septic systems.

The letter also takes aim at the estimated cost of the proposed $28.5 million municipal sewer and water system, which is the solution township council has chosen to address the problem ....

Tim Hudak and His Gang Are Making Complete Fools of Themselves

I don't know if they think these ridiculous tactics will work, but I can't believe the horrendous display that Tim Hudak and his gang of misfits are putting on in the Ontario Legislature. Who does he think he is? Mike Harris?

If I ever contemplated voting PC in Ontario again, the actions of these thugs would convince me not to even consider it. They are Reformers to the bone. Hudak used to belong to a group called "Canadians for George Bush". Enough said.

Coyle: Disgraceful show put on by PC caucus
By Jim Coyle Queen's Park
December 2, 2009

There are two lines that appear in most speeches by Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak. Among the values he purports to cherish are "respect for the rule of law." When he talks about his immigrant grandparents, he extols those who "play by the rules." This week, as Hudak led his caucus in a disgraceful show of contempt for the Legislature and its rules, those words were revealed for empty rhetorical boiler-plate.

Heir, as he is, to the legacy of former premier Mike Harris, it's unsettling to many to imagine what a Tim Hudak Ontario might look like – especially since a Hudak PC caucus looks like something right out of Trailer Park Boys, an outfit where yahoos rule and where rules, when inconvenient, are to be defied and mocked. This week, Hudak did himself considerable harm. He let his party be defined by its least credible and most ridiculous MPPs – bumptious contrarian
Bill Murdoch from Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound, and renegade libertarian from eastern Ontario, Randy Hillier.

A bunch of goons. Mike Harris all over again.

Tim Hudak is Far Too Immature to Run This Province. It Will be Mike Harris All Over Again

If you closed your eyes while listening to Tim Hudak, you would swear it was Mike Harris when he was younger. Same rhetorical nonsense. Tough on crime. Lower wages for public servants. Allow police to manhandle Native protesters. Been there, done that.

Ontario cannot afford another Mike Harris.

That doesn't mean we should condone the actions of the McGuinty government, but Hudak is dead wrong on the HST. It's a political game, nothing more. Even most in his own party support the HST, they just no longer say that publicly. And let's not forget that MPP Christine Elliot is married to Jim Flaherty, the man who bribed the provinces to adopt the HST in the first place.

The vote in Parliament only paves the way for the provinces to be allowed to adopt their own tax measures. Harper set them up. However, while Hudak opposes Native protests, he turned the Ontario legislature into a romper room, while clearly losing the control of his caucus. The provincial Conservatives chose the wrong leader, because the veterans have already turned their backs on him.

Coyle: Hudak and the Tory sit-in bring to mind Wile E. Coyote
By Jim Coyle Queen's Park
December 7, 2009

For novice PC Leader Tim Hudak, his party's protest over the Liberal government's proposed harmonized sales tax produced a couple of unforeseen outcomes. The first was his own loss of face when a caucus member apparently defied the boss's wishes in a stunt that spun out of control. By most accounts, the sit-in that saw two PC members expelled indefinitely from the Legislature was intended to involve only Owen Sound-area MPP Bill Murdoch.

As it unfolded, eastern Ontario MPP Randy Hillier hopped aboard, apparently ignoring instructions from caucus elders that he leave the Legislature when ejected by Speaker Steve Peters. Hillier's defiance of not just the Speaker but his own leadership raised embarrassing questions as to who was running the PC show.

Worse for Hudak were the justifications he offered once the standoff ended for why his MPPs flouted Legislature rules, blatantly defied the Speaker, and usurped
the seats of other members.
Hudak said that, irrespective of rules, sometimes "extraordinary measures" are warranted. With that utterance he undercut his own law-and-order positioning and his credibility on long-running issues of civil disobedience. What Hudak essentially did was give licence to civil disobedience any time anyone feels sufficiently aggrieved to arbitrarily take "extraordinary measures."

How will he stand, for instance, against any future native highway blockades in support of land claims? How can he say his right to extraordinary measures trumps anyone else's? How can he go to Caledonia, say, and denounce native blockades and occupations there that his own caucus members have long railed against but, in essence, mimicked? The ominous message of the PC protest was that might makes right. One of the remarkable scenes when the protest began was the way in which several of the larger male MPPs surrounded Murdoch to prevent the sergeant-at-arms from removing him.

If he can't even control his own caucus from outlandish behaviour, how can he possibly run a province?

Randy Hillier Takes a Stand: Is Tim Hudak Losing Control of His Caucus?


Several years ago my husband and I stayed in Peterborough, as part of a mini-vacation. When leaving our hotel we noticed a rather large rally where demonstrators, carrying signs "This Land is Our Land", had lined the drive.

We honked believing it to be a native protest, but soon realized that there were no native faces in the crowd.

When we returned later that day, the protesters were still in full force but had been moved across the road and several police cars now guarded the hotel entrance.

I asked the girl at the desk what was going on and she explained that there was a hockey tournament in town that weekend and there was an aboriginal hockey team staying at the hotel. These people were protesting native land claims.

Why was an out of town group of young men, who only wanted to engage in a sporting event, being targeted by a rather large and noisy group of angry white "landowners", I wondered. When I posed the question to the hotel clerk, she rolled her eyes and said that "they were nuts" and did stuff like that all the time.

This Peterborough group soon became part of a larger organization, when an umbrella group was created in 2005, called the Ontario Landowners Association. Their first president was Randy Hillier, now Tim Hudak's MPP for Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington.

Hillier had originally headed up the Lanark Landowners Association, whose motto was “This Land is Our Land: Back off Government”. They had become notorious for stunts though Hillier would refer to it as civil disobedience.

This "civil disobedience", included blocking highways, barricading government offices, staging illegal deer hunts, and publicly breaking laws that the Landowners regarded as unjust. This was primarily done as a tactic to draw media attention to perceived injustices, and thereby to pressure the provincial government to amend the laws. Hillier has explained the illegal actions of the Landowners as follows: "I believe in non-violent civil disobedience. I believe when a law or rule is blatantly wrong it is a part of our democratic process to challenge that law. At times civil disobedience is used to illustrate and further bring attention to the absurdity." (Wikipedia)
"I sent [Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty an email containing] a picture of a dead deer saying the people of Lanark County were removing nuisance deer because the Liberal government had revoked those licences [for farmers to shoot deer that were eating their crops]. I did it four years ago... and I would do it again ... " (1)
His group scored a victory on the illegal out-of-season deer hunt, fuelling their cause and in April of 2004, launched a large protest on Parliament Hill. Stephen Harper attended the rally and addressed the crowd, promising to make property rights a priority if elected prime minister. It was pretty clear that he was not only trying to woo the theocon vote, but was also trying to draw in the right-wing fringe groups.

You would have thought that he would have learned his lesson after the problems this imposed for the Reform Party. They had passed a motion at their opening assembly to allow extremist groups to join the party. When the question was posed, even Doug Christie? someone in the crowd spoke up. "Ah, leave him in, we may need him later". (2) Christie was leader of the Western Canada Concept, a Party pushing for the Western provinces and territories to split with Canada and form their own nation. Stockwell Day's father was a member of this group.

Eventually the extremists all but took over the party, necessitating a reinvention, though many of them are still around. Stephen Harper handles them by silencing them, but in a democratic country, elected officials should never be "silenced". It flies in the face of democracy.

Randy Hillier and the Religious Right

Once the Ontario Landowners Association was established, Hillier decided that instead of simple acts of protest, to move the group into the mainstream, by attempting to infiltrate government and implement changes from within.

So with the endorsement and help of his group's members, he successfully won a seat in the Ontario Legislature in 2007. Hillier not only endorsed "land rights" but backed a social conservative agenda, bringing him to the attention of Tristan Emmanuel, a controversial leading member of Canada's Religious Right.

Emmanuel backed Randy Hillier's bid for leadership of the provincial party, and though a long shot he became a kingmaker for Tim Hudak, when he threw his support his way:
Landowner leader Randy Hillier brokered a deal with former PC leader John Tory to avert the possibility of Landowner candidates. It is widely believed this resulted in the inclusion of anti-environmental clauses in the PC Party’s platform in 2007 and Hillier’s own candidacy for the PCs in Lanark.

Hillier’s leadership run last year was fueled by the Landowners, and Tim Hudak’s anti-Human Rights Commission positioning was designed to broker a deal with the Landowners and other radicals. Hudak will need to come to terms with these Landowners if he doesn’t want a problem on his right ... (3)
However, when you sell your soul you have to expect that eventually those who hold the lien are going to expect payment, and I think that Randy Hillier is beginning to become a problem for the Mike Harris protege Hudak.

We first saw this with the sit-in at Queen's Park in December:
For novice PC Leader Tim Hudak, his party's protest over the Liberal government's proposed harmonized sales tax produced a couple of unforeseen outcomes. The first was his own loss of face when a caucus member apparently defied the boss's wishes in a stunt that spun out of control ... As it unfolded, eastern Ontario MPP Randy Hillier hopped aboard, apparently ignoring instructions from caucus elders that he leave the Legislature when ejected by Speaker Steve Peters. Hillier's defiance of not just the Speaker but his own leadership raised embarrassing questions as to who was running the PC show. (4)
Now Hillier is once again challenging the authority of his leader, by posting a column on the handling of the G-20 security.
Instead of a choosing a more controlled and less populated location that would not be such a powerful magnet for the few juvenile anarchists, Stephen Harper agreed to host the G20 in a location that he had to have known would draw the greatest opposition and most violent response, therefore justifying an outrageous expenditure of public dollars and creating an army of police equipped with a siege mentality.

Both the provincial and federal governments now attempt to shirk responsibility for their actions by shifting blame to one another and to the police, who were acting under political orders ... .They both use the common theme that upholding law and order required usurping our civil liberties. Any elementary school student knows these are not mutually exclusive — in fact, they are wholly interdependent. As numerous failed dictatorships have proven, you cannot have law and order without civil liberties. (5)
His column was a direct contradiction to one inked by Tim Hudak, where he placed all the blame on the protesters and backed the police action. How Hudak will handle this is any one's guess, but I think he is learning the hard way that once you court the Religious Right, they hold all the power. Stephen Harper is now learning this and while bringing in fringe groups for support, both leaders are facing the problem of knowing what to do with them.

I think this will end badly for citizens who only elect officials to govern, not appease right-wing factions.

Sources:

1. "Debate one last swipe before vote", Napanee Guide, October 5, 2007

2. Of Passionate Intensity: Right-Wing Populism and the Reform Party of Canada, By Trevor Harrison, University of Toronto Press, 1995, ISBN: 0-8020-7204-6

3. Tests and double tests, By Andrew Steele, Globe and Mail, February 5, 2010

4. Hudak and the Tory sit-in bring to mind Wile E. Coyote, By Jim Coyle, Toronto Star, December 7, 2009

5. Opinion: G20 crackdown reeks of tyranny, By Randy Hillier, Toronto Star, July 12, 2010

Sunday, February 13, 2011

It's Not About Faith Based Schools But Hypocrisy

Murder, Gun Control and Stepsons

On May 28, 1975; 16-year-old Michael Slobodian entered the Brampton Centennial Secondary School armed with two rifles in a guitar case, with the intention of killing his physics teacher, who had given him a failing grade. Michael wanted to go to medical school, and with those hopes dashed, he felt he had nothing left.

The teacher was not available, so he entered the boys' washroom and opened fire. The first to be killed was his friend John Slinger. Slobodian next entered an art classroom, killed English teacher Margaret Wright, and wounded 13 students. He then stepped out into the hallway and turned the gun on himself. The whole thing was over in a matter of minutes. (1)

Witnesses to the carnage were the two daughters of then Ontario premier William Davis.

At the time, Canada's gun laws were pretty lax, but Davis was determined to change that. So he had his attorney-general, John Clement, who had only been on the job for a few months, to connect with the federal government to see what could be done.

Armed with a petition bearing thousands of names of Brampton residents, demanding better gun control, Clement met with federal Justice Minister Otto Lang and Solicitor General Warren Allmand to review possible amendments to the Criminal code. (2)

Mr. Clement would not win the next election, but the wheels were set in motion. Pat and Berwick Slinger, parents of the murdered boy who was described as Slobodian's only friend, testified at the inquest.

As a result Bill C-51 was passed in 1977, and came into affect on January 1, 1978: The two biggest changes included requirements for Firearms Acquisition Certificates (FACs) and requirements for Firearms and Ammunition Business Permits. Other changes included provisions dealing with new offences, search and seizure powers, increased penalties, and new definitions for prohibited and restricted weapons. Fully automatic weapons became classified as prohibited firearms unless they had been registered as restricted weapons before January 1, 1978. Individuals could no longer carry a restricted weapon to protect property. Mandatory minimum sentences were re-introduced. This time, they were in the form of a 1-14 year consecutive sentence for the actual use (not mere possession) of a firearm to commit an indictable offence. (Wikipedia)

John Twining Clement's political career would only last from October 21, 1971 to September 17, 1975, but it would have more of an impact than the duration would suggest. Not only did he help to create tougher gun laws, but he also met Carol Panayi, a single mom who was employed as a secretary to Ontario MPP Bill Hodgson. (3)

The couple would be married in 1979 and Carol's only child Anthony, would take his stepfather's name. And not long after, that stepson would set out to destroy everything that Bill Davis stood for, though it would be a decade and a half before Tony Clement was in a position to enact real change, when he joined the Common Sense Revolution of Mike Harris, that turned out to be neither common nor made much sense at all.

Continued: Fate Brings Anthony Panayi to Canada With Fateful Consequences

Sources:

1. Teen-ager takes own life after killing 2, wounding 13, The Bulletin, May 29, 1975

2. Another school shooting, Thoughts From up Here, March 22, 2005

3. Promised Land: Inside the Mike Harris Revolution, By John Ibbitson, 1997, ISBN: 0136738648, Pg. 31

Fate Brings Anthony Panayi to Canada With Fateful Consequences

Tony Panayi arrived with his parents to Canada when he was just four-years-old. Of Middle Eastern descent, his father a Greek Cypriot and his mother a Canadian. This was 1965 and by 1972, his parents had separated, and he would spend the rest of his childhood in a high-rise apartment in Toronto.

He cut his political teeth campaigning door to door with his mother for her boss, Ontario Tory MPP Bill Hodgson. However, he was never a Progressive Conservative at heart, and in fact his political beliefs were what is now called neoconservative.
"What I saw on the front of Time magazine, which I read religiously every week, was this failure of the American democratic impulse," he remembers. "Around us was the fall of Vietnam, the emasculation of American power, Watergate .... What I remember was the frontal assault on American power, and the encroachment by communism all over the world. And in Canada, there were the failed experiments of Pierre Trudeau. His economic experiments were a shambles, his anti-Americanism wasn't getting us anywhere, the increasing role of the state in all aspects of our lives was, in my view, creating more problems than it was solving. And then in 1978 you had this woman named Margaret Thatcher, who proved you could turn back some of the awful things done by socialism and set things right again. And then in 1980 you had this guy Ronald Reagan. They showed you could have conservative principles and still win." (1)
Unfortunately, Clement was misguided by his heroes. Margaret Thatcher was a train wreck:
When Margaret Thatcher was elected I started my first year at university. Very quickly in the face of her Reagan-inspired "hard economics" and austerity treatment I saw every possibility of employment at the end of my course evaporate. 3.3 million were unemployed with no hope of a job. The economy went into recession and the dole was being withdrawn unless you could "prove" you were actively searching for work. It ruined millions of people's lives and put millions more into unproductive boredom and hardship. It cost the country £40b in lost productivity and the only thing Margaret did was make it worse. (2)
And Ronald Reagan, while he preached small government, actually expanded the government and his horrible economics made the rich richer and created the most homeless people in the history of the United States. (3) He also increased the debt by two trillion dollars, while increasing federal spending and federal staff. (4)

Nonetheless, Panayi "... arrived at the University of Toronto in 1979 filled with missionary zeal to bring the faith of Thatcher and Reagan to the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario ..." (1)

But he also arrived with something else ... a new name. His mother had just married former MPP John Clement, and though already an adult more or less, Tony decided to take his stepfather's name, reinventing himself as Tony Clement.

The same year, 1979, another young man would enrol at the University of Toronto, but would only stay for two months, opting to move to Edmonton to take a job in the mail room at Imperial Oil, the company his father had worked for. This would be his only real job outside of politics. Also an avid fan of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, Stephen Harper would go on to help found the Reform Party, lead the Alliance Party and eventually become the movement's first prime minister. (5)

It's unlikely that Clement and Harper met at the school, but Tony did find willing accomplices in fellow students Alister Campbell, Tom Long and Mitch Patten, all sharing the same ideology.
"At a time when the rest of the country was enchanted with the charismatic prime minister [Trudeau] and his vision of Canada, simply being a Conservative was an unusual choice. To be committed to the neoconservative agenda of Thatcher and Reagan during this period was nothing short of suicidal, politically speaking." (6)
And yet this small group of young radicals were able to take over the campus Conservatives, increasing it's membership from being almost nothing to 500, with gimmicks (Clement once dressed in a penguin costume), and aggressive marketing. Did they change minds? It's difficult to know, but they presented a platform that was anything but the status quo:
They believed that governments needed to cut taxes in order stimulate spending and increase individual choice, that they needed to balance their budgets in order to escape the trap of escalating deficits, that they needed to get out of most economic regulation in order to let the market reward winners, punish losers, and generate wealth for everyone. Most important, governments needed to abolish most of their social programs, which took money from people who earned it and gave it to people who hadn't. Such a doctrine was anathema to moderate Conservatives, who felt, as former federal leader Robert Stanfield argued, that the market should not be trusted more than was necessary. (7)
And not content with simply drawing in the conservative minded they also sought to change the views of the left:
Eventually the young PCs at the University of Toronto also decided to take on their left-wing enemies on campus, launching a campaign against a proposal to double the compulsory fees levied against each student in support of the Ontario Federation of Students. The Tories accused the federation of wasting money on a bloated administration, and of worrying more about helping the Sandinistas than representing student interests. (Among other things, the Tories put up a sign in an Engineering building proclaiming "Three dollars will get you the Ontario Federation of Students or seven beers at the Brunswick House. Take your pick.") They won a referendum on the issue in a landslide. (7)
They quickly became a force to be reckoned with:
By the early 1980s, as Mike Harris was first finding his feet as a young MPP, the neo-conservative youth were an increasing power within the provincial Conservatives. Long—a bit older than most of the others, passionate and uncompromising—led the troops. "There were huge fights over who was going to control the campus wing of the party," Long remembers. "That got settled in the late seventies, and for about ten years or so my faction controlled the campus wing." In 1982, Long managed the campaign that secured control for the neo-cons of the executive of the Progressive Conservative Youth Association. Both the campus and youth wings of the party were now firmly led by ideologues of the far Right. These wings were important to the party, both for the influence they wielded at leadership conventions, and for the legions of indefatigable volunteers they supplied during campaigns. (7)
But they would soon move on to bigger challenges as they steered toward taking over not just a university campus, but an entire province.

Why Do Neoconservatives Hate Nelson Mandela?

Sources:

1. Promised Land: Inside the Mike Harris Revolution, By John Ibbitson, 1997, ISBN: 0136738648, Pg. 30

2. 1979: Looking back at the Thatcher era, By Mike Rumfitt, May 4, 2005

3. Hard Right Turn: The New Face of Neo-Conservatism in Canada, Brooke Jeffrey, Harper-Collins, 1999, ISBN: 0-00 255762-2

4. Tear Down This Myth: The Right-Wing Distortion of the Reagan Legacy, By Will Bunch, Free Press, ISBN: 978-1-4165-9762-9

5. Stephen Harper and the Future of Canada, by William Johnson, 2005, ISBN 0-7710 4350-3

6. Jeffrey, 1999, Pg. 164

7. Ibbitson, 1997, Pg. 31-32

Tony Panyi Continued: A Shake Up in the Legislature

Though the young Tories of Tony Clement were elated with the victory of Brian Mulroney and their role in his success, there was still a lot of work to be done in Ontario. The party under Bill Davis, was said to be moving to the left of the Liberals, as they worked to appease a more urbanized and progressive province.

Many members of the government, including Gordon Walker, Alan Pope, and senior cabinet minister Frank Miller, also believed the party had drifted too far to the he left, and saw in this group of young radicals, potential allies who could be used as shock troops, should they decide to run for leadership. (1)

They would soon be given an opportunity when Bill Davis announced that he would be stepping down. In a tight race, Frank Miller won the leadership race at their January convention, and was named premier on February 8, 1985, by appealing to those in favour of a swing back to the right.

One supporter was a backbencher from Nippising, who was drawn in part to Miller's previous plans to close a number of hospitals and consolidate urban services. His ideas failed because of opposition from within Miller's own party, but when this MPP from Nippising, later became premier, he, Mike Harris, would not fail.

At the time the PCs were at 55% in the polls, so Miller immediately called an election. It would prove to be his Waterloo.

Ontario Not Ready for Right Wing Revolution:

William Davis was a Red Tory, which is where the provinces' comfort zone lay. However, Frank Miller was not, and he may have been misguided to believe that he could draw the electorate in with a complete shift in policy. Bob Rae, then leader of the Ontario NDP, explains:

Miller was actually older than Davis, and cut from a very different cloth. He was affable enough, but determined to take his party to the right. His plaid jackets spoke of another era. His references to Reagan and Thatcher spoke of an ideological agenda that, to that point, had been foreign to the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party.

Frank Miller's message seemed to be the one the party faithful wanted to hear in early 1985. When the Tory convention was held, the delegates rejected younger, more progressive voices. The great beneficiary of this choice was not me but David Peterson. I did not fully realize this at the time, nor did I understand that the more effective I was in demolishing Miller, the more I was simply opening up room for Peterson. Three-party politics in Ontario create a unique dynamic. For the better part of my lifetime, the success of the Ontario Tories had been their ability to occupy the middle, forcing the Liberals often to the right, and us to the left. (2)
Miller came on the scene in Ontario, in the same way that Barry Goldwater first shocked the moderate and progressive populace in the United States.

(Bob Rae is in the centre of the 1970 photo on the left, and to his left is someone you may have heard of: Michael Ignatieff. They were lifelong friends and roomed together when they were both at Harvard)

Rae continues:

The choice of Miller put the Tories well to the right, and created a generational divide as well. The Liberals' campaign in 1985 was well organized and well presented. Mine was less confident at first, and by the time we gained our voice it was too late. We didn't have enough money, so I had to share a bus with the press. Someone gave me an electric piano, and I drove them crazy with what I thought were clever songs about Frank Miller and the Tories. At the same time, David Peterson was cruising with confidence, promising beer and wine in the corner store, and looking and sounding more like a winner. (2)
But what also hurt the Tories, was Bill Davis's decision that it was time to provide equal funding to Catholic high schools. This definitely became an election issue. When the results were in the PCs were reduced to 52 seats, the Liberals had 48 and the NDP 25, giving them the balance of power. But in a surprise move, Bob Rae brokered a deal with the Liberals , promising support for two years, if his agenda was honoured. Peterson grabbed the opportunity and the PCs became the opposition for the first time in 42 years.

Miller resigned on August 20, 1985, having served as premier for just six months.

The accord with the NDP had proved a gift from God for the Liberals. The agenda that Rae demanded was wildly popular with the electorate, and the Ontario economy—recovering nicely, it seemed, from the early eighties recession—was more than able to accommodate the necessary increase in government spending. Environmental laws were toughened, the scope of rent controls widened. Money was spent on child care and affordable housing. Equal rights for homosexuals were entrenched in the province's human rights code. First steps were taken towards pay equity for women. And most important, the Liberals moved to ban extra billing by doctors, an increasingly common practice across the province. The doctors reacted by going on a limited strike. The government stared them down. The strike collapsed.(3)

Continued: A Party Self Destructs

Sources:

1. Promised Land: Inside the Mike Harris Revolution, By John Ibbitson, 1997, ISBN: 0136738648, Pg. 33

2. From Protest to Power: Personal Reflections on a Life in Politics, By Bob Rae, Viking Press, 1996, ISBN: 0-670-86842-6, Pg. 89-90

3. Ibbitson, 1997, Pg. 35

Tony Panayi Continued: A Party Self Destructs

In Ontario, on election night 1985, most of us went to bed believing that the Conservatives were being returned to power, albeit with a slim minority. But what wasn't foreseen, was the strategy of the NDP, under the leadership of Bob Rae, who entered into an informal coalition with the Liberals who had 48 seats to the Tories 52.

As Rae explained, his strategy "was to ensure stability, to show the people that minority government didn't have to constantly teeter on the edge of collapse." (1)

They brought down the government of Frank Miller at the throne speech*, and the NDP agreed not to try to topple Liberal leader David Peterson for two years.

This threw the Tories into disarray, as author Christina Blizzard explains:
By 1985, it was clear to some political observers that four decades of Tory rule were about to end. There was internal party strife, much of it coming from the Ontario Campus Progressive Conservatives in the persons of Tom Long and Tony Clement, who opposed what they saw as Red Tory policies – the SUNCOR bailout and full funding for separate schools. They bitterly denounced changes to the enforcement of the Ontario Human Rights Code tabled by Bob Elgie. The changes included the power to obtain material without a warrant and due process, which Long and Clement considered draconian ...

And then came 1985 – the Tories' very own annus horribilus. It was a year of turmoil, pain, and enormous upheaval for the Conservatives. Premier William G. Davis – Smilin' Bill, Brampton Billy, one of the most respected politicians in Ontario – resigned at Thanksgiving 1984. He'd been leader and premier of the province since 1971, winning general elections in 1971, 1975, 1977, and 1981. (His second and third victories produced minority governments.) (2)

Davis had resigned in October 1984, and:
Immediately, the party was plunged into a feeding frenzy ... This proved both costly and divisive ... The party disintegrated quickly. Frank Miller, Dennis Timbrell, Larry Grossman, and Roy McMurtry squared off for the job. Miller won on the last ballot; Grossman was second. Miller called an election for May 1985 and the party dropped 20 seats ... "It was assumed we were electing a new premier. There was a lot of bitterness, a lot of division, a lot of fighting There were huge, internal battles. The party faithful fought over delegate spots and fundraising, and the leadership candidates fought to make commitments and promises.
The Liberal-NDP accord was a bitter pill to swallow. They weren't used to sitting in opposition and had no desire to remain there long. Frank Miller even put a sign on Peterson's door telling him not to get too comfortable. "We'll be right back." (2) But soon there would be another leadership race and the young radicals from the University of Toronto, including Tony Clement, backed Larry Grossman, who won the title as leader of the official opposition.

But the party remained fractured: "It was bad, really bad for the party," Clement remembers. The Tories were riven with faction and mistrust. (3) And Bob Rae relished in the fact that it "... was the Tories, and not us, who became irrelevant." (4)

Another Election and More Bad News

After the two year agreed to coalition came to an end, David Peterson, riding high on the results of a strong economy, decided to call an election.
In 1985, voters hadn't slam-dunked the Tories out of power. On the contrary, the Conservatives technically won the election. But once the electorate got a better look at the newly made-over David Peterson, with his trendy hairdo and stylish clothes, the new, trendy, and stylish voters in Ontario decided that they really preferred him and the Liberals to the stuffy old guard Tories. By 1987, the voters were willing to do what they hadn't had the temerity to do in 1985 — they swept out the Tories and swept in the Liberals with a huge majority government. (2)
Larry Grossman was defeated in his own riding and decided to step down.

Once again the party was leaderless. And it was broke. Two elections and two leadership conventions had sent it deeply into elections debt, and the Bay Street donations no longer flowed to a party that wasn't even close to the prospect of governing. Worst of all, the Bill Davis Tories were in a state of trauma. Most of the mechanics of the defeated regime—Segal, Atkins, Tory, Laschinger—either headed into corporate life or headed up the 401 to Ottawa, where the Conservatives were still in control. -The grownups basically left—retired, quit, lost interest, or went to Ottawa," says Campbell. The only Tories left in the provincial party were either over fifty-five or under thirty.

With the support of the latter, [Tom] Long became party president. "It was horrible," he remembers. "If I had understood how much psychic damage had been done to the party through those two leadership conventions, I never would have run for president .... There were people who were not only angry with one another, they would not deal with one another. They were mindlessly vindictive and spiteful." (3)

But it wasn't all bad, from the perspective of the young radicals. Leslie Noble, who had joined the group in 1983, had gone to work for Larry Grossman after he won the leadership.

"I remember coming from a meeting with Larry, and he introduced me to Mike [Harris], and when we went into his office Larry said, 'You keep your eye on that guy. He's the next leader of the party. He's the smartest man in caucus, and he's going to places", she recalls. "From that moment on I started to pay attention to this guy." (3)

Continued: Ontarians for Responsible Government

Footnotes:

*In 2004 after Paul Martin won a minority in federal Parliament, the leader of the opposition, Stephen Harper, possibly borrowing from Rae's playbook,
formed a coalition to take Martin down at the throne speech. Martin went to the Governor General seeking another election, but she turned him down and told him to fix it or she would allow the Opposition parties to govern. He reached a consensus but Stephen Harper would continue to push the idea of a coalition throughout the next year, as revealed by the following video. Stockwell Day tried the same thing leading up to the 2000 election, but it backfired when Jean Chretien won another majority.


Sources:

1. From Protest to Power: Personal Reflections on a Life in Politics, By Bob Rae, Viking Press, 1996, ISBN: 0-670-86842-6, Pg. 95

2. Right Turn: How the Tories Took Ontario, By Christina Blizzard, Dundern Press, 1995, ISBN 1550022547, Pg. 1-4

3. Promised Land: Inside the Mike Harris Revolution, By John Ibbitson, 1997, ISBN: 0136738648, Pg. 36-38

4. Rae, 1996, Pg. 104

Guy Giorno Uses Threats and Intimidation to Pass Omnibus Bill


"This is an omnibus bill. This is a very extensive bill. It may not have blockbuster issues in it, but it has a number of provisions which affect almost everyone in Ontario

"There was a period of time that could have been allocated for that. But Guy Giorno, who runs the government from the back rooms, decided that he wanted to see rule changes in this House. You see, the House was working too democratically to suit the backroom boys and the government, the people who are impatient with the democratic process, the people who feel the opposition is just some irritant to be shoved out of the way, the people who believe that if there's any opposition out there, they must be misguided or misled people. They wanted to see the rule changes brought through the House instead of dealing with legislation." (1)


And
"In the dying days of the spring session, which started last January, by the way, and ended in June some time, I can well recall those of us in opposition saying, "Bring forward your legislation." But no, the government House leader of the day, Mr Johnson, was instructed by Guy Giorno and those who have the real control in this government to deal with changing the rules of the Legislature to grease the skids for the government to get its legislation through." (2)
And further still:
"Any discussion with insiders about control from the centre quickly turns into a debate over the relative strengths and weaknesses of director of policy Guy Giorno, who was all of 29 when the Tories came to power. Nicknamed `Rasputin'...he is, some say, the ultimate insider, a right-wing true believer who sidelines any ministerial move that doesn't jibe with his ideology."

"I am concerned because I know many of the members of the cabinet, even some of the newer people. I am concerned when I see that nothing can get through without the thumbs up from Guy Giorno. I asked before, what riding does he represent? What constituency elected him? What group of people in this province elevated him to this position so that he can dictate to my friends who are in the cabinet? I am here on your side when you fight against the Premier's office.

"There is one I haven't mentioned, John Toogood: "The Premier's economic policy adviser, he was recently promoted to assistant director of policy. The Tory Youth graduate and Giorno protégé still looks too young to shave."

"There are lots of people in there, I guess, who have input and I think what's bad for our system, what's bad for our democratic system, is that these people are now in control of this government. My friend Al Leach, when he wants to bring something forward, has to pass it by the whiz kids. When my friend Noble Villeneuve, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, whom I have known for many years, wants to bring forward an initiative, it's got to be approved by Guy Giorno and John Toogood." (3)
Now let's fast forward to 2010: (all emphasis mine)

Mr. Malcolm Allen (Welland, NDP): "I believe it was Yogi Berra who said that it was déjà-vu all over again. The front bench opposite, the Conservative government, for the most part was the front bench in Ontario back in the 1990s when we would see things like this omnibus bill. We know the havoc that wreaked on the province of Ontario when we had all those omnibus bills under the previous premier, Mike Harris, and some of those members on the front bench, including the Minister of Finance who is in the federal government today. They did the same thing then that is being done today. They rammed things through because the provincial Conservatives had a majority government, and the province was the worst for it.

"What the federal Conservatives are doing today is going to make Canada the worst for it as well. The pieces that are in that omnibus bill that do not have anything to do with the budget are things that really should be debated before us today. Let me mention the things that are missing.

"What is missing is a pension increase for those seniors living in poverty. The Conservatives decided to talk about getting rid of the environmental regulations, instead of increasing the GIS so that seniors could live in dignity and live without poverty. There was no mention of that.

"I would ask the hon. member to comment on what he sees is missing here that really should be a budget item instead of all the other bits that make it an omnibus bill. I have to say that in large part this is very much like a trip down memory lane for me because I have been here before with a Conservative government in the province of Ontario, and interestingly, who was the chief of staff to Premier Mike Harris who brought in the infamous omnibus bill 26? Guy Giorno, the same chief of staff to the current Prime Minister." (4)

and:
"Mr. David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the chance to comment on the bill. My colleague from Sault Ste. Marie is nodding his head. He remembers what went on when we had that bill. It was the same sort of thing. Bring in a bill that is meant to be one thing and then load it up with everything else that is problematic, that is going to involve a lot of debate, that is controversial and ideological. Just stuff it all in there and refuse to talk beyond the cover page. The government wanted it to go through. It was massive. It led to a major upheaval, which is putting it mildly, of our health care system. It brought in a massive review. It really set the stage for what became the dark years of the Harris regime in Ontario, years of governance which we are still trying to climb out of in terms of the damage that was done." (4)
And back to 1997:
"Oh, I heard all about it. I heard there was a lot of trouble because you didn't get Guy Giorno's permission to go on. That's what I heard Robert Fisher say, and you will recall that Robert Fisher was the person who asked the Premier during the 1995 campaign, in May, "Is your health care policy going to result in any hospitals being closed in Ontario?" The Premier said-you'll recall this quote yourself-"Certainly, Robert, I can guarantee you I will not close hospitals."

... "It is not my plan to close hospitals." That's what he said. I'm glad the Minister of Education brought that to my attention. I will repeat it again, because it was not word for word. He said, "Certainly, Robert, I can guarantee you it is not my plan to close hospitals." And what happened? We've had over 40 hospitals forced to merge or close in this province as a result.

"So what is happening now is we're seeing an erosion of many public institutions and many public services. It is the agenda of the right wing, and I note for my friends on the government side that either today or tomorrow the Premier of this province will be speaking to that mainstream, Main Street organization, the Fraser Institute, which of course is as right as Guy Giorno, who runs this government. We will have a situation with the right wing now where they're endeavouring to destroy the confidence in public institutions so that people will accept radical changes they wouldn't normally accept." (3)
This new omnibus bill of Guy Girono's will be just as devastating to this country as his Omnibus bill was to Ontario. Once again this most famous fallen Catholic since Lucifer, will put seniors into poverty and drive as many people from their homes as when he carried around Mike Harris' cardboard cut-out.

And should it be any surprise that he is now using threats and intimidation to get what he wants? This fire breathing mammal is stomping his feet and threatening to bring the wrath of his new cardboard cut-out upon the nation.

I'd say pray for Giorno, but that man no longer has a prayer, and if this omnibus bill passes, neither will we.

It's the end of Canada Post and our atomic energy will be sold. I need to repeat that. Our ATOMIC energy will be sold.

Sources:

1. Ontario Legislative Assembly, Official Records for June 23, 1998

2. Ontario Legislative Assembly, Official Records for December 11, 1997

3. Ontario Legislative Assembly, Official Records for December 2, 1997

4. 40th Parliament, 3rd SESSION EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 055 Thursday, June 3, 2010