Baby Harris

Baby Harris

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.


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.


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


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?


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


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


*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.


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)

"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)

"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.


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

John Snobelen: Kraft Dinner? Really? How Could They Afford it?

Since our local newspaper has gone to Sun Media, I rarely read it, though maybe I should start. The blasts from the past would warm the cockles of your heart.

Well maybe not so much warm as inflame.

My husband says he still buys the paper so he can read the obituaries, but I jokingly tell him that the day his name appears in them, is the day I cancel the damn thing.

This past week we have been treated to some of the worst dregs of the neoconservative movement, all trying to justify the 1.3 billion dollar expenditure for security, while painting the peaceful protesters as thugs.

Their bringing up the burning cars and smashed windows, no longer has merit, after it was revealed that the police could have stopped it and rounded up the vandals easily, but were told to stand down.

Stephen Harper needed those images to play out on the jumbotron while lounging around fake lake. He used them to tell the crowd, who were convinced he was doofus for spending that much money on security, that this represented his reasons for the expenditure.

I'm sure the question on most of their minds while watching the mayhem, was "so where's the security?" I guess Steve didn't think it through.

But when my husband cut out a column by John Snobelen, I thought enough is enough. Given the calibre of Sun columnists these days I wasn't surprised (Michael Den Tandt claimed that the weekend was a success because no one was killed), but what surprised me was that Snobelen had the nerve to show his face in Ontario.

The last I heard of him he had been arrested.

But Since he Brought It Up

In his column, Snobelen remarks: "About 15 years ago I had the pleasure of presenting a rather large cheque to the good folks at York University. For the occasion various dignitaries had gathered in the main lobby of the campus. When I stepped to the podium to deliver some remarks — and the cheque — a giant protest banner was unfurled and students began throwing Kraft Dinner at me."

Now I realize that rubber bullets don't have the same impact as Kraft Dinner, but he should have been honoured. This was during the Mike Harris years. If you could afford Kraft Dinner you were really somebody, and it was not something that would have been tossed around willy nilly.

What he fails to mention in his column is why the students were so upset and not willing to accept his "peace offering". The cancellation of OAC and the dismantling of Ontario's education system through Bill 160.
Ontario has been the envy of most other provinces over the years, at least in terms of a few educational indicators. One of these areas has been its student retention rate. The number of students who have remained in school in Ontario has been consistently the highest or nearly the highest for the past couple of decades. It can be argued that this has in large part been a result of the existence of the Ontario Academic Credit (OAC) year ... On November 2, 1995, however, John Snobelen, Minister of Education, announced the cancellation of the OAC year in Ontario beginning in 1997 ... The province intends to compress its five high school years into four years. Snobelen said, "It means we're going to do some compression and have normal high school completed in four years". How is the reduction of the number of years of schooling likely to affect Ontario students? (1)
But since things were going so well before Mike Harris, the government had to find reasons to gut education, and Snobelen was actually caught on tape, suggesting that he could just "invent" some.
Perhaps the clearest evidence of the necessity of a crisis in education, in order to justify overhauling the system, was illustrated by the Ontario Minister of Education and Training. John Snobelen, caught on videotape explaining to the managerial level of the Ministry the need to "create a crisis" to justify the restructuring (some would say dismantling) of public education in Ontario, provided a grim reminder of the beneficiaries behind this scheme, and the subsequent duping of the public to justify it. (2)
They wanted to privatize our schools and Snobelen was willing to "create a crisis" to justify it. Royal Canadian Air Farce fired their famous chicken cannon at his image on November 22, 1996, but he only remembers the Kraft Dinner.

John Snobelen: The Epitome of a Neoconservative Cabinet Minister

Some people wonder why Stephen Harper appointed Gary Goodyear as science minister. A man who doesn't believe in science. Or Gail Shea to Fisheries when she wouldn't know one fish from another. Or Helena Guergis to any cabinet position when she was ... well ... Helena Guergis.

It's neoconservatism 101. You don't want a minister who will identify with stakeholders. Their only job is to tear down so the government can sell off.

John Snobelen was a perfect example of this. The man was a high school dropout who only went as far as grade eleven. This made him perfect to "act" as Minister of Education, or as he referred to himself; the Minster of Edjamacation.

Brooke Jeffrey explains:
His [Mike Harris] theory was unique, but understandable if one considers his neoconservative perspective. Normally, ministers function as spokespersons for the "constituencies" they represent through their Departments. The minister's role, around the cabinet table, is to put forward legislation benefiting these client groups, or to express concerns about the proposals of other departments which might have adverse implications for their constituencies.

.... But Mike Harris has a different view of government, and so naturally his view of the role of ministers is also at odds with tradition. ... If they were to have any hope of implementing their ambitious and radical agenda, no minister could be allowed to be captured by client groups ... The premier's view of the cabinet's role helps to explain John Snobelen, a man with a grade eleven education, ending up in the driver's seat at the Ministry of Education and Training. (3)
See how neoconservatism works? The dumber the individual is, the bigger their portfolio. I mean look at this guy. Or this guy. Back to Snobelen:
The self-made millionaire with the grade eleven education, whose fortune came from a waste-transport business, was evidently a fan of business-management theories and jargon. Seen musing on video with departmental officials about the need to "invent a crisis" in education, Snobelen did himself irreparable damage shortly after taking office, damage which no amount of explanation about the context could remedy. Certainly not the minister's own explanation that to invent a crisis was "not just an act of courage, there's some skill involved." Likewise his use of the term "tool kit" to describe his department's proposed $400 million in reforms produced much hilarity, but little action.

His alternatively unctuous and aggressive manner also did little to repair his image. His failure to deliver on the promised reforms, and unwillingness to communicate with stakeholders, were a major source of frustration. One Ottawa trustee, infuriated by the uncertainty, actually bought a ticket to a Tory fundraiser in order to confront the premier on the issue. Ted Best told reporters, "I've been a trustee for 23 years and I've never, never seen such a lack of communication. I don't know if it's arrogance on Snobelen's part or ineptness, but they're losing credibility fast."

The minister's subsequent battles with the teachers over Bill 160 —the government's plan to centralize control of education at Queen's Park and drastically reduce both the number of teachers and overall expenses — became legendary. By the end of his tenure, the two sides were barely speaking. (4)
But at the end of the day, it was not his incompetence or mean streak that was his undoing.

In late 2002, it was reported that Snobelen was spending most of his time at a private cattle ranch in Oklahoma while still drawing a Member of Provincial Parliament's (MPP) salary. Faced with criticism, he returned to the legislature for most of the 2003 session and resigned his seat on March 17. (Wikipedia)

From the Ontario Legislature:
"Premier, you are spending more time on the fence on this issue than John Snobelen spends on a horse. At least John Snobelen has the benefit of a saddle. It must be very painful for you, sir, to spend all that time on the fence."

"Mr Premier, I'm trying to imagine taxpayers in Orangeville or Parry Sound or Pembroke reading the papers today and faced with this situation, particularly from a Conservative government led by Ernie Eves, late of the Common Sense Revolution, which was all about taxpayer responsibility and accountability and citizens' responsibility. We've got a situation, apparently, where a Conservative member of the Legislature, who is being paid $82,757 a year, wants to spend his time in a foreign country while accepting $82,000 of public money from the people of Ontario. If Mr Snobelen wants to be in Oklahoma, the people in Orangeville, Parry Sound and Pembroke would say, "Let him resign and go to Oklahoma." But you, as the leader of his party and leader of the government, surely must do one of two things: ask for and accept his resignation, or demand a work plan from our friend the member from Mississauga West which would justify the people of Ontario paying $82,757 for his salary." (5)
Can't wait to see who Sun Media gets to spin the G20 debacle next. Hope it's Al Palladini, another Harris cabinet minister with a grade eleven education. He was the minister of transportation who when it was announced that the sky traffic helicopter was being cancelled, suggested that it was not up to the government to worry about traffic or stranded motorists. That job should be done by civilians with cell phones.

At that time "car phones" were rare and very expensive. Naturally the legislature howled, and as one suggested the minister should "take a long ride up to Wawa in his limo and let him try to phone in and tell us how he's doing." (6) "Can you hear me now?"

Just keep lobbin' 'em in boys. Just keep lobbin' 'em in. You are making my job so easy. I don't have to expose the pitfalls of neoconservatism. They are exposing themselves.

Eeeeek! Great. Just got that image and now I'm blind.


1. SCHOOL RETENTION AND THE CANCELLATION OF OAC'S, By Noel P. Hurley, Faculty of Education, University of Windsor, Winter 1996

2. The CCPA Education Project: Learning About the Commercialization of Education, by Erika Shaker, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, July 8, 1998

3. Hard Right Turn: The New Face of Neo-Conservatism in Canada, By Brooke Jeffrey, Harper-Collins, 1999, ISBN: 0-00 255762-2, Pg. 175

4. Jeffrey, 1999, Pg. 182

5. The Ontario Legislature, Hansard, October 23, 2002

6. Jeffrey, 1999, Pg. 179

Guy Giorno Wins by Reviving Canadian Coalition for Responsible Environmental Solutions

What does the article say about Guy Giorno? "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 ... 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 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? (1)

Guy Giorno, as many are no doubt aware, is not just a consultant or chief of staff for Stephen Harper. He is Stephen Harper. It's only been since 2008 that the media has started calling Harper a brilliant strategist. Before that he was kind of a lunk head. Always putting his foot in his mouth.

Then along comes Guy, and nothing is left to chance. I'll bet Harpo has a little chip embedded somewhere with Giorno choreographing his every move. "Watch out for that step" ... "There's a car coming" ... "You forgot to zip up."

I've realized that I have to do the same with Stephen Harper as I did with Mike Harris. Ignore him and go straight to his puppet master: Guy Giorno.

So when I learned that Canada is going to continue with tax breaks for the oil patch I was not at all surprised. Giorno is a lobbyist. In fact he is the king of lobbyists. Maybe even the emperor of lobbyists.

And when Canada was adopting the Kyoto Protocol this emperor of lobbyists swung into action creating the Canadian Coalition for Responsible Environmental Solutions, which was an astroturf front group for National Public Relations (NPR), the lobbyists for ... you guessed it ... the oil patch.
Some of Ernie Eves’s top cabinet ministers partied last week with Kyoto-bashers the Canadian Coalition for Responsible Environmental Solutions, a lobby group with close ties to both Ralph Klein and the energy industry ... It took place in the Queen’s Park dining hall and was a very chummy shrimp-and-wine gathering, a chance for members of the coalition -- the Canadian Association of Oil Well Drilling Contractors, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Landmen, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, etc -- to schmooze Tory heavies. (2)
And guess what hand picked former federal environmental minister was on hand for the festivities?
There were speeches by coalition organizers, and a particularly passionate Ontario energy minister, John Baird, made his anti-Kyoto rallying cry. Needless to say, the audience was very receptive. Baird’s parliamentary assistant, Scarborough MPP Steve Gilchrist*, who at one time helped block developers’ plans for the Oak Ridges Moraine, was busy propping open doors with chairs to give relief to a very hot and stuffy room. I couldn’t help remarking to him that perhaps the room was so unbearably hot because of climate change. He was not amused. (2)
And of course we find the big guy, 'Big Guy', lurking in the shadows:
While Eves has been slightly slippery on just where he stands on Kyoto, it was interesting to learn that this meeting was organized by Guy Giorno, Mike Harris’s old chief of staff and ultimate Tory party insider. Giorno now works with National Public Relations (NPR), the coalition’s high-priced lobby firm.

Two days after the meeting, Giorno sent every MPP at Queen’s Park an e-mail suggesting what they might say in op-ed news pieces or letters to their constituents about Kyoto. Then Liberal and NDP members, for whom the missive was obviously not intended, were sent a second e-mail that read, "Unfortunately, materials from the Canadian Coalition for Responsible Environmental Solutions were sent to your office in error in a previous e-mail. I do apologize for any inconvenience."

So now we have Mike Harris’s former number-one man trying to dictate environmental policy to our government members. It might make you wonder if the Eves government is really any different from Harris’s where the environment is concerned. It certainly doesn’t seem to be. Then there’s Klein’s relationship with the coalition, which is kind of like that of an organized crime boss and his "legitimate business activities."
Leaves me asking the same question as they asked in 1997 about Guy Giorno: "What riding does he represent? What constituency elected him?"


*Steve Gilchrist was the former boss of Harper MP Paul Calandra: "The Conservative minister of municipal affairs and housing is under Ontario Provincial Police investigation after allegedly telling developers to go through his own personal lawyer, Tory fundraiser Peter Proszanski, to get an audience with him — a privilege that'd cost them $25,000 each ... Even juicier, Gilchrist has a criminal record for tax evasion dating back to 1984, shared with his father, who was at the time a federal Tory MP." (3)


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

2. Big Oil's Kyoto Party: Harris whiz kid pulls strings at wine and shrimp fete, By Josh Matlow, NOW Magazine, October 24, 2002

3. How Mike Harris and his minions manipulate TV news, Ryerson Review of Journalism, Summer 2000

Two-Tier Tony Clement and the Gutting of Healthcare

When Tony Clement was named the first health minister in Stephen Harper's cabinet, the Canadian Medical Association raised the alarm.

Former Ontario health minister Tony Clement, once dubbed ‘Two-Tier Tony’ for his oft-stated belief there must be more “choice in health care,” has been appointed federal Minister of Health for the newly-minted Conservative government. Critics immediately tabbed the 45-year-old lawyer’s appointment as an omen for further devolution of federal authority in health care and disinterest in enforcing the principles of the Canada Health Act.

“It’s quite shocking,” said Mike McBane, executive-director of the Canadian Health Coalition. “It sends a very clear signal that the Prime Minister would appoint someone who is ideologically committed to privatizing the delivery of the public health care system, someone who was aggressively involved in dismantling the Ontario health care system, in firing nurses and shutting down hospitals, and someone who’s an ideologue. He’s not someone who’s balanced and interested inevidence.” Ontario Health Coalition director Natalie Mehra said Canadians should be “deeply concerned,” given Clement’s support for the privatization and deregulation of long-term care facilities and for the creation of for-profit hospitals in Brantford and Ottawa, while serving as the province’s health minister from February/2001-October/2003. (1)

Credit Where None is Due

It's always interesting when I hear people say that Clement was praised for his handling of the SARS epidemic. That epidemic was a bit of a wake-up call for the arrogant Clement, because he looked around and asked "where are all the nurses?" Good question since he had fired them all.

And after candidly admitting that the public health system was “close to collapse.”
Critics duly noted the system’s deterioration was self-inflicted, as it had been gutted by Tory government measures that included laying off thousands of nurses, as well as turfing scientists in provincial health labs scant months after Clement assumed the portfolio. (1)
The front line workers during the SARS epidemic, knew exactly who was to blame:

As a union of front line providers, we can attest that the SARS outbreak was marked by chaos and confusion, inadequate resources and planning, and a determination to place economic interests above health and safety interests. Employers and government all too often excluded the input of workers. Such an outbreak was almost inevitable given the starvation of our health care system. Worse, we have seen little that gives us hope that the necessary changes are happening.

With the cutback of hospital beds and resources stretched to the limit, there has been a longstanding problem in Toronto hospitals with wait times in emergency rooms. So much so that the Toronto Emergency Medical Services has recently had to devise a new system for leaving patients in hospitals to ensure that ambulance paramedics can return to service in a reasonable amount of time.

As a result, during the outbreak it was not uncommon for paramedics to be required to wait for hours on end in their ambulance with a suspected SARS cases before being allowed to take the patient into emergency. Indeed, paramedics were often re-directed from a hospital unwilling to accept a suspected SARS patient. We are not convinced that the necessary improvements that are required in infection control have been made since the outbreak. Indeed, some negative practices are deepening. (2)

He scrambled to clean up his mess, throwing his weight around, but only history credits him with handling the crisis, instead of preventing it, or at least lessening it, when he had a chance.

Clement always put corporations above people and loved the power of sticking it to those who were less fortunate. Growing up Anthony Payani, raised by a single mom, I don't think he was terribly affluent. But then when his mother married former Ontario Attorney General John Clement, suddenly he was royalty who could snub his nose at everyone.

In 2002, he announced that MRI's would be available to those with money, so they wouldn't have to wait in line with the peasants.

The Ontario Health Coalition reacted with outrage over Health Minister Tony Clement’s announcement of the opening of for-profit bidding on 25 MRI and CT scan machines for Ontario. With this announcement, the provincial government has made clear its intention to take non-profit public hospital services and fund for profit corporations to provide them in private clinics.

“Stubbornly clinging to an ideological approach with no public mandate and no outcome-based evidence, the provincial government is risking the future of our public Medicare system and must be stopped,” said Irene Harris, coalition co chair. “We view this announcement as an extremely grave threat to the future of our Public Medicare system and will respond in kind.” - The Minister still has not justified creating for-profit cancer treatment at Sunnybrook Hospital in the face of a Provincial Auditor’s report that found that the for-profit treatment was more expensive and that waiting lists had not changed. (3)

Later that year he went to Banff where he plugged private health care. The only thing he left out were the facts:
Since it got into government the Ontario PC party [under Mike Harris] has radically altered the balance of public not for profit and private for-profit control of Ontario's health system: approx. 90% of Ontario's laboratory sector is now controlled by a private sector oligopoly of three companies: MDS, Gamma Dynacare (recently bought by Lab Corp), and Canadian Medical Laboratories.

The non profit Victorian Order of Nurses, VHA and Red Cross have closed programs and offices across the province as homecare has been handed over to for-profit corporations such as Bayshore Health Inc., Paramed, Bradson, ComCare, WeCare and others. The majority of Ontario's long term care beds are now controlled by for-profit companies as a result of the PC government's bed awards over the last several years. Several corporations are the big winners: the multinational giants Extendicare Inc. and Central Park Lodges, and domestics Leisureworld and Regency Care.

Cancer treatment is now offered for profit at Toronto's Sunnybrook Hospital, through Canadian Radiation Oncology Services Ltd. Health Minister Tony Clement announced two for-profit hospitals to be built in Ottawa and Brampton with awards to private consortia to be announced in the new year.

.... The government has faced ceaseless complaints as more and more evidence is unearthed that residents' care levels in Ontario's long term care facilities are the poorest in Canada. The Provincial Auditor has found that profitised cancer treatment costs more and hasn't dented waiting lists. Private labs have taken the most profitable section of the service and left the most expensive to the public. (4)
And he didn't do much better as federal minister of health. When it was discovered that several deaths were the result of the products Sleepees and Serenity Pills II, among the nearly 12,000 unapproved natural health products on the market, in Canada, W-Five ran the story.
W-FIVE requested several times to speak to Canadian Health Minister Tony Clement about the four cases of estazolam and Health Canada's enforcement measures, but our repeated requests were declined.
When they tracked him down, on the run, he blamed it on the Liberals. Typical. When they were first elected their answer to everything was "thirteen years" referring to the length of time the Liberals had been in power before them. However, they didn't realize that at some point you have to change the channel. It wasn't until NDP Pat Martin pointed out that they were now part of that thirteen years, that they shut up.

How Mike Harris Stole the 1999 Ontario Election


1. Two-tier Tony Clement appointed new minister of health, Canadian Medical Association Journal, February 22, 2006

2. The Canadian Union of Public Employees Presentation to the Justice Archie Campbell Commission into the SARS Outbreak, September 30, 2003

3. For Profit MRIs and CT Scanners Extremely Grave Threat Ontario Health Coalition Warns of Public Response, Globe and Mail, July 8, 2002

4. Minister Clement's Semantics in Banff Will Disguise Fatal Poison Pill, Ontario Health Coalition, September 4, 2002

5. What's in the Pill, W-Five, CTV News, February 23, 2008

John Baird and Kimberley Rogers: Why Neoconservatism is Wrong for Canada

When Mike Harris first came to power in Ontario in 1995, he waged war against the province's poor, blaming them for everything that was wrong with our economy.

We had just come off a double dip recession and thousands of jobs had been lost to Free Trade, but the enemies were the poor who were "bleeding" us dry.

As part of the Made in America, "Common Sense Revolution", the Harrisites proclaimed that able-bodied people must work for their benefits. Ironically, many welfare recipients voted for Harris (1) believing that he was going to find them jobs, something most of them preferred. But that was not the case. They were left on their own to find employment that didn't exist, which is how they found themselves on welfare in the first place.

It was a horrible time. There were Big Brotherish signs everywhere, encouraging neighbours and family to "turn people in". Rewards were offered and a culture of fear and mistrust was created. Mike Harris wanted all welfare recipients finger printed and John Baird wanted to conduct drug tests before they received their cheques. He even put on a ridiculous public display, pouring out hypodermic needles on a table for the media, claiming that the poor would no longer be able to shoot their payments up their arms.

They had already reduced benefits by 22% when Tony Clement rewrote the "Tenant Protection Act" in favour of landlords, in order to kill rent control and make it easier to evict tenants, driving even more people into the streets. It was like living under the Gestapo.

But the saddest story of this period, was that of Kimberley Rogers, who was single and pregnant and trying to better herself, so that she would be a position to care for her child. She wanted off the welfare rolls so was taking classes at Cambrian College in Sudbury and was a straight-A student.

But in order to afford to do this, she had to take out student loans. I wouldn't class loans as income, but John Baird did, and had the woman charged when he found out that she was also receiving social assistance. As a result, she was sentenced to six-months house arrest, and confined to a second floor apartment except for three hours a week. Her welfare benefits were cut off and she was ordered to repay the government more than $13,000.
'I ran out of food this weekend. I am unable to sleep. . . . I am very upset and I cry all the time.' Kimberly Rogers wrote these words in her court appeal in May. Three months later, 40 years old and eight months pregnant, she was found dead in the Sudbury, Ont., apartment where she had been confined 24 hours a day for the crime of taking student loans while on welfare. (2)
This was May 14, 2001, when Rogers launched a case under the Charter of Rights that challenged the constitutional validity of Ontario Works regulations that suspended benefits after a conviction of welfare fraud. She was able to have her welfare benefits reinstated May 31, but the court had yet to rule on her challenge at the time of her death. (3)

The Globe described her living conditions throughout this ordeal:
It's a 21st-century Dickens story. There's not much to look at out the narrow second-floor window of 286 Hazel St. in downtown Sudbury. The back yard is a grey gravel driveway strewn with litter. There's a rusted black Ford that looks as though it's been up on blocks for a decade, and a yellowed dishwasher that someone discarded years ago. And overlooking it is the ramshackle two-storey, five-tenant apartment building where Kimberly Rogers, perhaps Ontario's best-known welfare recipient, spent almost every hour of the past three months ... this is where the 40-year-old expecting mother and straight-A recent college graduate spent her last days ..

Her body wasn't found for two days. Eight months pregnant, she was trapped inside her sweltering apartment for the duration of a record-setting heat wave. Temperatures were above 30 degrees for six days in a row the week she died. "It was like a sauna in there," Amanda Chodura of Sudbury's Elizabeth Fry Society, who frequently visited with Rogers, told The Globe and Mail. Rogers's crime was one only a poor person could be convicted of.

"I have no one to turn to for money or a home if I am evicted," she said. "If I were evicted, I would have to go to a shelter. I would have no money to pay for storage of my belongings, and fear that I could lose everything." She worried about where every meal would come from, and feared for the future of her unborn child. (2)
Sadly, her unborn child had no future, as he perished with his mother. "John Baird has said he cannot comment on the case, which he calls "a regrettable occurrence".... " (2)

"A regrettable occurrence". They had a lot of those, from Dudley George to Walkerton. All victims of a neoconservative agenda.

So when I read the story of another single mom being denied human compassion, it brought back the story of Kimberly Rodgers and why neoconservatism is the wrong fit for Canada:
A Moncton, N.B., single mother who is off work as she helps her two-year-old son recover from brain surgery is fighting the federal government's decision to deny her employment insurance benefits. Tricia Moran's two-year-old son Brayden has a rare condition, which causes cavernous malformations to grow on the outer surface of his brain. Two of these growths became so large that Brayden needed brain surgery last month to remove them. While his skull heals, he can't go to daycare out of fear that a knock in the head could cause seizures.

Brayden, 2, has a rare condition, which causes cavernous malformations to grow on the outer surface of his brain. Moran, armed with notes from her doctor, her son's neurosurgeon, and her employer stating her job is waiting for her when she is able to return, applied for sickness leave under employment insurance, citing stress. "I applied for the EI insurance, and they called me on July 14 and told me that I was denied because I wasn't the one that was sick, and the only reason that I was home was to care for my sick son, so they said I didn't qualify for it," Moran
And I think that if we really want to understand where John Baird was coming from, claiming to be only protecting taxpayer's "hard-earned" money, we need to look at his involvement with Anderson Consulting, and Baird's attempt to privatize social services. Andersons changed their name to Accenture after the Enron Scandal.

The Canadian Province of Ontario's contract for social services delivery, essentially privatized welfare during the duration of the contract (which was to be for 4 years, but has gone over that limit by more than a year). As of March 2002, Accenture has been paid $246 million (CND) to do this "overhaul of the Ontario welfare service", even though the original estimate was $50 - $70 million and the project was eventually capped at $180 million. At one point, Accenture billed taxpayers $26,000 in unreceipted out of pocket expenses and Accenture management was paid up to $575/hour. In 1999, a year after the Auditor General of Ontario put out a scathing report on the contract, hourly rates paid to Accenture management actually rose (3%), rather than being cut. After this, the government was forced to finally renegotiate a cut to Accenture's billing rates. The Ontario government cut welfare payments to $355.71 per child in poverty and fired massive numbers of social service workers, making this contract essentially a transfer from those in need to those in Accenture. (4)

Accenture has a huge, problem-filled contract, to 'streamline' the delivery of welfare in Ontario. In 2000 and 2001, Accenture gave $20,000 Canadian to the governing Tories. Interestingly, they started making donations to the Tories only after the Tory government's Accenture contract was given a scathing review by the Provincial auditor, and they were forced to renegotiate the contract. Said Deputy Liberal Leader Sandra Pupatello: "They [Accenture] were fearing that they were going to lose the contract altogether because the government was taking far too much heat on this contract. Then, suddenly, they started contributing to the PC Coffers" (5)

And yet no one from Accenture or the Harris government were ever put under house arrest, despite the fact that they stole more money than Ms Rodgers or her unborn child ever could. Why is that?


1. Mike Harris's Ontario: Open for Business, Closed to People, Fernwood, 1997, ISBN: 1895686733

2. Bleak House, By Mark MacKinnon and Keith Lacey, Globe and Mail. August 18, 2001

3. Inquest into welfare mother's death begins, By Darren Yourk, Globe and Mail, October 15, 2002

4. "Tory Welfare Donations Under Fire", Hamilton Spectator, October 25, 2001

5. "Consulting Firm Boosts PC Coffers, Liberals Say", By Richard Brennan, Toronto Star, October 25th, 2001