Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Auditor General's Report - The Review

This is the second part of my look at the Auditor General's Report into the Year-end Grants Provided by the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration [PDF]. You can find the preamble here.

The best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour. So, let's look at the documented past behaviour.

Well, a lot has already been said about the contents of the report - hopefully, I won't rehash too much of it.

First, the scathing. The scathing part (I hope you recall the opening paragraph in Mr. McGuinty's letter that I previously quoted) can be found in the Auditor General's summary.
We found that the decision-making processes followed with respect to the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration’s more significant year-end grants in the 2005/06 and 2006/07 fiscal years were not open, transparent, or accountable. Grant programs normally require that all potential recipients be informed of the availability of grant funds, that all potential recipients be required to follow similar processes in applying for or requesting funds, and that the provider of grants apply consistent criteria to assess all potential recipients.

This government had no accountable, transparent, or open process while it was sending the money out the door - this was previously dismissed as baseless by the Liberals. These grants were unadvertised with no formal application process, without an audit to determine the required amounts of the grants, and without an audit to determine how the grant was to be ultimately spent.

The very fact they were unadvertised meant that deserving groups were excluded from even having a chance.

If the lack of proper process wasn't enough, the concern raised by some of the significant grants was shocking in and of itself. Here were the summaries from the report.

  • A grant recipient had existed for such a brief time as an organization that, not only did the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration not have a prior funding relationship with it, but it was difficult to understand on what basis the Ministry could have decided to provide it with a relatively substantial grant
  • The amount the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration granted significantly exceeded the amount a recipient had earlier requested, with no supporting documentation
  • Even though the grants were specifically designated as year-end capital grants, some of the money had been used for non-capital purposes. While these non-capital purposes included what appeared to be otherwise legitimate operating expenses, there was one case where there was a lack of supporting documentation relating to some expenditures.
  • Year-end funds were granted to a recipient far in advance of when the money was actually needed for the recipient’s proposed capital project.

Now for the part of the report that I believe was misinterpreted. It was not in the Auditor General's mandate to make the determination about whether or not this was a slush fund, nor that grants were given to organizations due to alleged ties to the Ontario Liberal Party - he was not specifically asked to investigate that - he did so because of the justified outcry by the Opposition. He ruled:

[F]or a few of the grants provided, the recipient did have some kind of tie to the Ontario Liberal Party, but we found no evidence that the organization received the grant as a result of this. While a tie to a political party should not exclude an organization from being eligible for a government grant, it can create the perception of favouritism in the eyes of the public if the organization ends up obtaining a grant. Such a situation is exacerbated when the grant process is not fully transparent, as was the case with these grants.

What's also being misinterpreted is the belief that this was isolated to the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration. From the report:

Ultimately, each individual year-end grant was reviewed and, in some cases, adjusted by the Ministry of Finance to ensure that the government’s overall policy and fiscal priorities were met.

Was there no review or accounting for the grants from the Ministry of Finance when they were being validated for "policy and fiscal priorities", or does the Ministry of Finance just let the money go based upon the recommendation of the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration? Is this another gap in the accountability process?

Next up - the Auditor General's Report and where we go from here.

PC Supporters of MMP

Welcome everyone from VoteForMMP.ca!

I can't imagine that I'm the only Ontario Progressive Conservative that supports MMP. There is true non-partisan support for mixed member proportional.
“The three of us reflect three competing, democratic, partisan traditions in Ontario. We differ on many matters of public policy. We strongly unite, however, in our commitment to an electoral system that is democratic in more than name. The Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform produced an imaginative and practical proposal that will give us more choice, fairer results and stronger representation. We urge all Ontarians to come together and vote Yes for MMP in the October 10 referendum.”

Carolyn Bennett, MP, Liberal Party
Ed Broadbent, former NDP leader
Senator Hugh Segal, Conservative Party

If you're a supporter of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party and you support MMP, let me know. Let's get organized (or, if you're already organized, let me in :) ).

To share the non-partisan love, the Liberals 4 MMP is a blog set up by Liberal Party supporters to convince Liberals to support the MMP referendum.

Friday, July 27, 2007

The Auditor General's Report - The Preamble

[Note: My apologies if this is a duplicate. I'm having posting issues.]

I'm going to take a three-part look at the Auditor General's Report into the Year-end Grants Provided by the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration [PDF].

I'll start by providing the opening paragraph of a letter the Premier wrote to the Auditor General, contained in the Appendix of the report.
Since taking office in 2003, our government has implemented a number of initiatives to improve transparency and accountability in our financial management processes. This has been particularly true with respect to our budgeting and fiscal planning processes.

The Auditor General would, of course, demonstrate otherwise. Is it a lie or a mistake? I'll discuss that in another post.

The first stage in this long drawn out affair was to stifle debate and attempt to sweep it under the carpet [CBC, Liberals quash request for 'Colle-gate' probe]:

Ontario's Liberals have defeated an attempt by the opposition parties to have the province's auditor general probe grants handed out to multicultural groups.

At a public accounts committee meeting Thursday, the Liberals outvoted the New Democrats and Progressive Conservatives, who had joined forces to try to force an investigation by Auditor General Jim McCarter.

Since that didn't appear to work, the Liberals pretended to cooperate - even feigned capitulation suggesting that the Auditor General could investigate the Ministry at any time he wanted - it would just be after that nasty election in October [Toronto Star, Liberals halt grants probe]:

Liberal MPP Monique Smith (Nipissing) said at the public accounts committee that the auditor general is free to examine the grants if he so desires, but critics noted the auditor general's next annual report is not due until at least six months after the fall election.

By this point, the Ontario Liberal Party and Dalton McGuinty, became completely dishevelled - so much so, they went completely on the defensive - they implied the Opposition was motivated by racism in its questioning of these grants [Canoe, Opposition say they're fed up with Grit accusations of racism]:

Premier Dalton McGuinty has again made veiled accusations of racism against Ontario's Conservatives and New Democrats which are beneath the dignity of his office, opposition party leaders charged Wednesday.

...

"We understand that the Conservatives and the NDP will grasp at any opportunity to try and embarrass the governing Liberals, especially with an election a few months away. What we don't find amusing is their using needed assistance to minority communities to further their political ends," McGuinty read from the newspaper.

Thankfully, the Opposition and public would not be swayed by such suggestions. It was unfortunate that neither the government nor its cheerleaders could collectively think, "Maybe if we're preaching that we support transparency and accountability, perhaps we should simply demonstrate it."

All of this stonewalling and unnecessary smearing was done, despite the fact the Minister himself said the questions were legitimate.

When Dalton McGuinty finally admitted he was wrong in this unwarranted opinion of the Opposition and admitted publicly as such - he then, and only then, called for the Auditor General to investigate. Some supporters believed incorrectly this was evidence that there was nothing wrong, and that, in fact, the Opposition would be sorry [Cherniak on Politics, Friday Franks]:

I don't think [Dalton McGuinty] would have called an investigation months before an election without knowing what it would find. Why did he delay? Maybe so that every group affected would know that the opposition thought they were unworthy of government funding. When the report comes out, watch for the Tories and NDP to wish that they had never questioned the value of grants to charities.

It was then I promised not to whinge on about this until the report was issued. Well the report was issued, and I'm all out of bubblegum.

Up next, the Auditor General's Report - A Review.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

For Clarification : School Funding Issue

I'd just like to clear up a common misconception, referenced by this article in the Toronto Star [School funding becoming defining issue]. Specifically this assertion:

[I]n taking opposite positions on the issue, both the Liberals and the Conservatives believe [the school funding issue] will play to their advantage in the Oct. 10 election.

No, the Liberals are not taking the opposite position on the issue.

The opposite position would be to cease all funding for all faith-based public schools. The Tory position is to equally fund all faith-based public schools.

The Ontario Liberals have, however, taken the position that earned Ontario two United Nations condemnations for discrimination.

Carry on.

Fiscal Imbalances

If I was still on the word of the day kick, this would have been "irony".

Toronto Star, No bailout for Toronto, premier says

Toronto councillors need to make "difficult decisions" like increasing taxes because there are no imminent plans to bail out the city, Premier Dalton McGuinty warned yesterday – a comment that prompted the first signals of shifting ground at city hall.

National Post, Do responsible thing: tax, Premier scolds Toronto

Toronto city council should use its new taxing powers before coming cap-in-hand to the province for more money, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty said yesterday.

Meanwhile, the whole Ontario - federal fiscal imbalance thing is completely different.

Yay, for your Ontario Liberals!

New Era of Peace in Our Schools

I'm wondering what Kathleen Wynne will do after the election in October. Remember, she was hailed as a champion for public education. Perhaps, when she goes back into civilian life, she will once again be hailed as a champion for public education.

February 17, 2000

The Metro Parent network wants the Toronto school board to take a stand against the provincial government and say no to the funding formula.

Kathleen Wynne, a member of the Metro Parent Network, said she wants the Toronto board to develop a budget based on the needs of kids, not on those of the provincial funding formula.

April 3, 2001

"I'm not going to go into the details of the impact of that on the negotiations, but I think we all have to remember that we're working in a framework of legislation and funding that does not allow us to run the system the way we would choose to run it," said [Toronto District School Board Trustee Kathleen] Wynne.

She opposed the evils of the funding formula, and she was opposed to direct ministry intervention in the operation of a school board.

So, what happened?

October 3, 2006

The Peel Catholic school board has refused to obey the Ontario government's order to balance its books, meaning the province will likely appoint a supervisor to make millions in cuts.

...

Under the Ontario Education Act, Education Minister Kathleen Wynne is mandated to appoint a supervisor to take over financial control of a school board's books to balance its budget.

...

"The law is very clear. If the board's budgets don't balance, then the province has to take action."

July 13, 2007

Despite calling a union advertising campaign attacking the government "alarmist and inflammatory," Education Minister Kathleen Wynne admits problems remain in the much-maligned school funding formula.

"It's not as though we're blindly carrying on as though everything's done and we're finished with fixing education in Ontario," Wynne said in an interview. "That would be an exercise in self-deception."

Link mine. Self-deception is an interesting choice of words, too.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

I Vote to Keep "Tory"

Points to the Torontoist:
John Tory pledges that a Conservative government would push to provide public funding for private religious schools. Given that the plan is an extension of how Ontario already treats Catholic schools in Ontario, it's not a very radical plan. However, this illustrates a growing problem: that John Tory's name makes using the popular Conservative nickname of "Tories" awkward to use. Torontoist plans to issue a petition to get John Tory to change his last name to "Smuckerson" or "Wangdoodle."

Monday, July 23, 2007

Word of the Day : Empleomaniac

Empleomaniac
n. one who is overly eager to hold public office

Do you know any empleomaniacs?

Dalton McGuinty Apologizes to Evon Reid

I won't talk at length on this. It's done and over and Dalton McGuinty handled it properly.

Mr. McGuinty personally apologized to Evon Reid for the actions of a civil servant in the cabinet office. In case you're not aware, Mr. Reid applied for a job as a media analyst and was copied on an inappropriate email from an employee of the cabinet office; the email referred to him as a "ghetto dude".

The Torontoist says it best in describing the situation:
A low-level part-time contract employee saying something extremely stupid is not an example of a systemic problem of racism in the Ontario government. In fact, it's the kind of situation to which Hanlon's razor applies perfectly: never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

That is the situation in a nutshell; I don't believe for an instance there is systemic racism within the Ontario government, nor within the Ontario Liberals either.

I disagree with the Torontoist, however, in its criticism of the Opposition calling on the government to apologize for this incident.

It wasn't too long ago that the Premier had to agree to a statement made by John Tory (video available from the Agenda blog post on the Mike Colle issue) that no member of the Opposition was motivated by racism:

The McGuinty Liberals have been accused of fumbling the grant fund political hot potato. Minister Mike Colle at first tried stalling, then Premier McGuinty accused the Opposition of racism for questioning the grants to immigrant services groups. That incensed PC Leader John Tory and NDP MPP Michael Prue. Finally, an ashen-faced McGuinty caved into pressure, apologized and called in the Provincial Auditor.

Not apologizing for this incident would have come back to bite them hard.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Lead Balloons to Replace Buses in Toronto

The City of Toronto has just proposed huge service cuts to the TTC. Now, I'm in favour of eliminating spending on services that are underused in favour of services that are more widely used or more critical.

That, however, is likely not the intent of this move.

It seems clear the city is attempting to force the province's hand - the biggest cut is the closing of the Sheppard subway line at the beginning of 2008, well after this October's election. Conveniently leaving the door open for somebody to come in and save the TTC.

The Ontario Liberals have offered to pat Toronto on the head which should do electoral wonders in the city.

The Ontario Progressive Conservatives, however, have offered a real solution to municipalities [PDF] (proposed before this "crisis") based on two extremely simple premises:
  • The province should pay for services in the provincial realm of responsibility.
  • The city should pay for services in the municipal realm of responsibility.
That means, that yes, the Ontario PC's will upload services previously downloaded to municipalities.

This will allow municipalities to fund the priority services they need. It means too that the city needs to ultimately get its house in order, with a real vision and with real budgetary priorities on the city's true needs.

That's a better plan, in my view.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

A New Era of Peace in our Hospitals

How's that peace in our hospitals going?

Globe & Mail, Ontario to intervene in management of hospital:
The Ontario government is taking the extraordinary step of appointing a supervisor to assume control of a Toronto hospital, following attempts by a community group to overthrow the board of directors.

Health Minister George Smitherman has put Scarborough Hospital on notice that he is seeking legislative approval to bring in a supervisor who will assume all powers of the board and report directly to him. This is only the third time the Liberal government has taken such action.

But, but ... Mike Harris ...?

New rules introduced by the provincial government in 2004 that no longer allow hospitals to operate with a deficit often force boards of directors to make difficult and controversial decisions to meet their budget targets. The government appointed a supervisor at Stevenson Memorial Hospital in Alliston last month, for example, after community activists threatened to take it over. They were upset over the board's decision to cut costs by closing the birthing unit.

Oh, 2004.

Quick, they need a distraction.

If only someone could find a picture of John Tory and Randy Hillier.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Quickie : Conrad Black

I understand that the NDP want to have Conrad Black stripped of his Order of Canada. Now, I might be just getting cute, but doesn't one have to be a Canadian to be eligible to be an Officer of the Order of Canada?

I guess, technically, he could remain an honourary Officer of the Order.

I just thought I'd interrupt the Liberal-bashing for the moment.

Cost of Liberal Broken Promises

I've thought more about the cost of the Ontario Liberals broken promises (see my previous post, $2,414,431). It's not nearly enough for the Ontario Liberals to just merely break their promises to Ontario, they want you to pay for it too.

The $2.4 million is not the only bill the Ontario Liberals sent to your wallet; the cities of Ottawa and Toronto are also impacted.

Ottawa Citizen, City to fight order to pay transit workers' health premiums, via Google:
The City of Ottawa is preparing to challenge a multi-million-dollar decision forcing it to pay the provincial health premiums for about 2,000 unionized OC Transpo workers.

The workers -- drivers, mechanics and labourers -- successfully argued that an old clause in their contract shielded them from paying the Liberal government's wildly unpopular health tax. The arbitration decision could cost the city $4.5 million and $1.5 million per year in the future.

CTV Toronto, TTC workers don't have to pay Ontario health tax:
Unionized TTC workers will not have to pay Ontario's annual health tax because of wording in its 35-year-old contract

...

The decision by the high court, which did not give a reason for not hearing the case, puts Toronto taxpayers on the hook for $6 million a year.

TTC Chairman Adam Giambrone also said the cash-strapped city expects to pay $15 million in back pay to workers. He was disappointed by the ruling.

It's gone beyond simple partisan shots to simply suggest that the Ontario Liberals will just break an election promise, because it's clearly not enough for them. They want to charge you for the privilege.

They want you to pay for services undelivered - services they promised to deliver.

They want you to pay for someone else's taxes - taxes they said they would not raise.

They complain that the Progressive Conservative platform is not costed. How well costed are the Liberal promises? Do they account for the costs when they break their promises?

$2,414,431

CBC, Ontario government spent millions in autism legal battle
The Ontario government has spent slightly more than $2.4 million in taxpayer dollars on a seven-year court battle with the parents of autistic children, Attorney General Michael Bryant said Tuesday as he acceded to a court order that the figure be released.

The money quote, and one that should be in every newspaper in the province and should headline any debate, comes from Attorney General Michael Bryant in the Globe & Mail:

"It's in the public interest that we put an end to this, and disclose the information," Mr. Bryant said in an interview.

2.4 million dollars and now it's in the public interest to put an end to this? For the Liberal Party, it's only in the public interest when there's a lawsuit.

The truly sad part, however, is that whenever The McGuinty breaks a promise, Ontario pays for it.

Ontario's Best Premier

As part of CalgaryGrit's "Search for Canada's Best Premier", Ramblings of a North Ontario Liberal is hosting the vote for Ontario's Best Premier.

Get out and vote.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

To Appeal or Not to Appeal

That is the question.

It looks like The McGuinty now has to decide whether 'tis nobler to reveal the costs [Globe & Mail, Ontario must disclose costs of legal fight with parents of autistic children]:
The Ontario government has lost a legal battle to conceal the costs of its long-running court fight with the parents of autistic children.

A three-judge panel of the divisional court of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice ruled yesterday that the government must disclose how much it spent fighting families who want the province to continue financing expensive intensive behavioural intervention (IBI) therapy after their autistic children reach age six.

... and have Ontario be reminded of one more broken promise.

During the 2003 election campaign, Liberal Leader Dalton McGuinty said in writing that it was "unfair and discriminatory" for parents to have to spend up to $70,000 a year for the treatment. However, after winning the election on Oct. 2, 2003, he broke his promise that a Liberal government would extend IBI to children older than six and continued the court battle against the families.

How many more "promises" from this Premier and these Ontario Liberals are we supposed to take?

Monday, July 16, 2007

John Tory : Born to Run

There is an excellent article in Toronto Life about John Tory, entitled Born to Run. I think it's fairly balanced - highlighting his challenges and his strengths.

It is something of a short bio - it talks about his personal history and his early involvement in politics as Premier Bill Davis' principal secretary. It talks both about his successes and his failures. It even includes a small point for those who keep head counts of politicians at public events.

Well worth the read.

Party Donations

I know I'm a little behind on this story, but I thought I would offer some commentary.

CBC Political Bytes : Party Donations
New Elections Canada figures show the federal Liberals are trailing the Conservatives two to one in party donations.

The Conservative Party of Canada raised $18.6 million in 2006 — slightly more than twice what the Liberals brought in, $9.1 million

In particular, I want to draw attention to this:

The Conservatives have a long tradition of small individual donations, whereas the Liberals have relied largely over the years on large corporate contributions.

Back at the end of June, I mentioned I attended a Liberal town hall in Whitby, Ontario.

I actually had a first impression post up just after the town hall where I said:

It's entirely different than a Conservative event.

I didn't entirely explain in the follow-up what I meant by this.

One of the key differences was the amount of harassment for donations. In the span of the 2 hours I was at the town hall, the Liberal organizers and MP's mentioned needing money I think exactly 3 times. The MP's mentioned it, I think twice - once in passing and once in response to a question about negative ads. The president of the Whitby-Oshawa Liberal association mentioned at the end that, if we wanted to, we could donate at the back of the room.

That was it. I was more interested in deciding whether I should ask Mr. Dryden for an autograph (I deemed it inappropriate, by the way, so I didn't make the attempt) than I was in writing a cheque to the Liberal Party, even in my moment of temporary weakness.

In most Conservative events of similar length, I would have heard about needing money about 10 or 15 times. I would have also received a follow-up call to ask if I had enjoyed the event, and if I would like to make a donation (tax deductible, of course). I would have also received a letter in the mail saying how my support is greatly appreciated, I would have been thanked for attending the event, and if I would like to make a donation (tax deductible, of course).

I know some Liberals don't believe they should be actively fundraising to the point of telemarketing - especially among the party faithful - but they are going to need to get over that hump and over it quickly.

Or not. Works either way for me.

Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures

I really hope The McGuinty is not all that nervous about losing Hamilton in the coming election that he feels the need to start channeling John Manley [Toronto Star, McGuinty stickhandles hockey file]:

There are some intriguing political overtones to the proposed move of the National Hockey League's Predators from Nashville to Hamilton.

The Liberal government at Queen's Park – which has a tenuous hold on four seats in Hamilton – would like to have some good news for the city in advance of the Oct. 10 provincial election.

But the Liberals don't want to be seen as subsidizing Jim Balsillie, the billionaire businessman who is trying to purchase the Predators and transfer them to Hamilton.

So in a private meeting with Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger last month, Premier Dalton McGuinty reportedly said any request for provincial funding to facilitate the move – say, through the refurbishing of Copps Coliseum –would have to come from the city, not Balsillie.

I do not believe that governments should be subsidizing professional sports teams. I'm almost certain that Mr. Balsillie does not need financial assistance to refurbish Copps Coliseum.

I think our government should fund public health care and public education, instead.

The List

Here's a list of the Ontario Liberals that have resigned, crossed the floor, or will not be seeking re-election.

Marie Bountrogianni, Mary Anne Chambers, Joe Cordiano, Judy Marsales, Jennifer Mossop, Ernie Parsons, Richard Patten, Tim Peterson, Tony Wong.

I did not include Ben Chin.

I offer no additional commentary.

If I missed anyone, let me know.

[Inspired by Globe & Mail : Blogolitics]

Friday, July 13, 2007

Guilty!!!!

Who cares?

I still have to come to work on Monday. If they declare a national holiday (or a national day of mourning), let me know.

Updated: I realize I was being unfair. Some people genuinely like this guy. If they declare a national day of mourning, I'll take the day off too.

Unions and Ontario Liberals

Sid Ryan and CUPE are to actively campaign against all Ontario Liberals in the upcoming provincial election [CBC, CUPE targets Ontario Liberals in fall election]:

Liberals across Ontario will be targeted by 225,000 members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees in the October provincial election, union leader Sid Ryan said Thursday.

Union members are upset by cuts in the education sector, including fewer school custodians and educational assistants, Ryan, the president of CUPE Ontario, said in Toronto on Thursday.

Link mine.

It's interesting to compare this against Buzz Hargrove's endorsement. Buzz Hargrove has made it no secret he hates everything conservative, which at the best of times seems somewhat misguided (Mr. Hargrove seems to want to campaign against progressive industry and business policies [PDF]), right down to the completely bizarre.

It's interesting because it seems that Mr. Hargrove's endorsement is based upon a view of what the province should do for General Motors, and Mr. Ryan's criticism is based upon a view of what the province should do for education.

Organized Religion Takes Another Hit

Globe & Mail, Pirate attacks up sharply worldwide.
“Despite a sustained decrease in acts of piracy over the past three years, the statistics for the second quarter of this year suggest that we may be seeing a reversal of this trend,” IMB director Pottengal Mukundan warned in a statement.

And yet, global temperatures continue to rise.

This has shaken me right to the roots of my Pastafarian belief structure.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Party Like it's 1984!

Jason Cherniak gives a pretty good argument why Ontario Premier Bill Davis should not introduce separate school funding for Catholic school boards. Crazy wacky variant Catholic schools will surely result. If we only had a time traveling device to carry us into the future to show us how it all turns out.

That said, I look forward to Mr. Cherniak's post on who he will be supporting at the Liberal leadership convention - that's the hot political event of the year. My money is on Eugene Whelan, but I don't really have a horse in that race.

Keep up the good work, Jason.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Controversy in Vancouver-Centre

In light of the recent non-aggression pact between the Greens and Liberals with the intent of elevating politics to a new level of discourse beyond petty partisanship, Hedy Fry should immediately distance herself from this.

Or not. Either way works for me.

Updated: Added additional label.

Updated x2: Thanks to Steve in the comments. Hedy has spoken:

[Hedy] Fry ridiculed the allegation, saying her staff contacted Carr's office in late June as soon as the site was discovered. The MP said the fake Carr site was created by someone unaffiliated with the Liberals living on the Sunshine Coast.

"We had nothing to do with it. I don't play that kind of game," Fry said.

Updated x3: Jim Harris retracts the accusation and apologizes:

Well, research has revealed it’s not a Liberal, it’s not a friend of a Liberal campaign worker, it’s not a former high school friend of the campaign manager – it’s the work of a disgruntled former Green Party volunteer!

Hedy Fry’s office and staff were in no way responsible.

So I would like to unequivocally retract my earlier posts and apologize to Hedy Fry and to her campaign staff for having suggested or implied that they were involved in any way.

[H/T, Red Tory]

Camps Do Not Erase Broken Promises

While it's always nice to send kids to camp [Globe & Mail, Ontario to send hundreds of autistic children to camp]:

Hundreds of autistic children will be able to go to special summer camps because of last-minute funding from the Ontario government, Canadian Press has learned.

A news conference is scheduled for this morning to announce further details about the $530,000 in funding that will help give more than 800 children specialized care in preparation for school in September.

It's nice to find out the legal expenses our government paid to fight autism treatment too [CTV, Province must reveal cost of autism lawsuit: NDP]:

The Ontario government's willingness to go to court rather than reveal how much it spent on fighting an autism treatment lawsuit shows it cares less about children and more about covering its tracks, opposition critic Shelley Martel said Monday.

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice heard arguments Monday about a request under the province's Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act to reveal how much the government spent defending a lawsuit filed by parents of autistic children.

The government doesn't want to reveal how much it spent on legal fees, when that money - perhaps as much as $1.5 million - could have helped so many kids instead, Martel, a New Democrat, said outside the court.

Enjoy the news conference. It would be nice to know the whole picture, though.

More.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Kudos to Tim Hudak

Kudos to Tim Hudak, Progressive Conservative MPP for Erie-Lincoln, and nominated Progressive Conservative candidate in the new riding of Niagara West-Glanbrook, for soliciting feedback on Mixed Member Proportional electoral reform from his "Re-Elect Tim Hudak in Niagara West-Glanbrook" Facebook group.

Not only am I pleased that Tim is exploring MMP, but I'm also pleased he's utilizing Facebook to do it.

LeadershipMatters.ca

I have been really impressed by John Tory and the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party taking advantage of social networking sites; they have embraced Facebook, YouTube and Flickr, in getting a positive Ontario Progressive Conservative message out.

Now, they have launched LeadershipMatters.ca, the campaign 2007 blog and website for the upcoming election. It's a great site. I have a graphic up from the site on my right-hand column.

Lots of candidate and policy information; it's clean, bright, and slick. The font's nice too if you want to read it from about 3 metres away :) . Randy's on there too, in case you're wondering.

Admittedly, there are no stories of John buying a fly swatter (guess he doesn't need one?), but there is a story of him trying to wear a kilt:
No kilt at the Kincardine [Scottish] festival mostly due to time constraints. Or maybe they heard about my appearance in Georgetown last year. I thought the people were waving madly because they were thrilled to see me. They were actually shouting advice as to how to sit on the back of a car with a kilt on. I hadn't had much practice. Now I know. All part of the great learning experience that is public life.

Friday, July 06, 2007

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I need to get me a job with such a steady income.

David Akin's On the Hill:
Based on the results from the most recent election here’s the payout for the second quarter:
  • Conservative Party of Canada: $2.57–million
  • Liberal Party of Canada: $2.14–million
  • New Democratic Party of Canada: $1.24–million
  • Bloc Quebecois: $742,041
  • Green Party of Canada: $317,258
Again, I ask, if women's groups are not allowed to use public funds to do research on issues, what do political parties do to deserve these public funds?

Further, what happened to the removal of the 2% threshold?

Updated: Fixed a typo.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Wait ... The Premier Needs a Fly Swatter?

Before you give me heck, you have to at least give me credit in my last post for not drawing the obvious connection between the Premier's promise breaking and his need for a fly swatter.

I am, however, surprised he didn't buy a shovel too ... what with all the, um, shoveling.

Sorry.

Dalton McGuinty : He's Ordinary

Coincidentally enough, I'm sure, in the same week we learn that Dalton McGuinty purchases fly swatters at Rona, the Ontario Liberal Party launches a website trying to define Dalton McGuinty as ordinary.

"An ordinary guy with a big job."

It comes up a couple of times in some of the scenes, neatly laid out for all of us in the text version by way of the candid interviews with his family.


The site goes on to describe how Dalton and Terri met, what they do with their nights off. It would seem that, Dalton is indeed ordinary. I will, however, stay away from drawing parallels between this attempt and the last time a politician was described as ordinary.

I will also steer clear of defining "ordinary".

That's because I agree. I do agree with the Ontario Liberals on this one. He is ordinary.

Not in a "I-buy-my-own-fly-swatter" kind of way, though.

And not necessarily for all the funny definitions of ordinary, either, or how it's more important that a Premier should be extraordinary, a leader, and someone who can inspire others.

Where he shows up as clearly ordinary comes from another section of this website that runs down the promises that Dalton McGuinty has broken - that he had to mcguinty, pardon me - a trail that seems to suggest that Dalton McGuinty is indeed ordinary.

An ordinary politician, that is. The type that is only trusted by 14% of the country.

Why do you suppose it is so many Canadians distrust politicians?

It would be nice to elect a Premier who isn't such an ordinary politician.

I Didn't Break My Promise; I McGuintied

Scott Feschuk defines "The McGuinty".

So you've just gone out and made a big promise -- to your family, to your boss, to that nice widow emailing from Nigeria. You've made your promise and people love you for it. Praise! Confetti! You are revered; life is great.

Now comes the difficult chore of rolling up your sleeves, and delivering on a creative way of breaking your promise.

...

One fundamental element of The McGuinty is misdirection. (The other: not crying in public when people call you a jackass.) You must acknowledge that, sure, last time around you broke your promise -- but that was last time! This is this time! And look! Over there! Is that my opponent making sweet, sweet love to the political legacy of Mike Harris?!

And that's when you flee into the hills.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Ontario Liberal Photo Radar Promise

I once half-jokingly said the only thing Dalton McGuinty hasn't promised for this coming election is to scrap photo radar again.

CBC, Ontario premier says no to photo radar:
More needs to be done to crack down on speeding, but photo radar is not the answer, Dalton McGuinty told reporters Tuesday.

Wow, I'm psychic.

Using my patented Dalton McGuinty Promise Decoder RingTM, that means photo radar is the answer.

In the unlikely event the Ontario Liberals are re-elected, and in the event they introduce photo radar again as they contemplated in 2004, I am largely indifferent.

I Support Public Education

The United Nations views Ontario's funding of a separate Catholic school board as discriminatory [CBC, UN says funding of Catholic schools discriminatory]:

The United Nations human rights committee says Ontario's policy of fully funding Roman Catholic schools, while denying full funding to other religious schools, is discriminatory.

In moving to comply with the ruling Ontario could do one of two things; extend funding to other religious schools, or end funding to Roman Catholic schools.

The United Nations reiterated its concern in 2005. Make no mistake, it is discriminatory. And, there is no such thing as fair discrimination, despite what some Ontario Liberals would have you believe.

Right now, Roman Catholics have three options for education - for those that can afford it, those parents can opt for a private school (religious or secular). If they are less well off, and cannot afford private school, they can still opt for a faith-based education in a publicly funded institution. Finally, if they do not necessarily need that faith-based option, they can choose to send their children to a secular public school.

Even Roman Catholics without children have the option to direct their property tax support to the separate school board. I suppose non-Catholics could do the same, but I'm guessing they would not.

While I primarily support and encourage the strengthening of non-faith based public schools, I do not sense there is a real problem with funding separate public school boards if that's what people want. For the record, I did not support the previous government's move to offer tax credits for private schools. That was wrong.

The reality is, there is not a government in Ontario that is going to stop funding Roman Catholic separate schools. Especially not when a third of Ontario's population is Roman Catholic.

That's why I support John Tory's plan to create new faith-based public schools [Ontario PC Party, For a Better Ontario, Investing in Public Education - PDF]:

John Tory and the PC Party believe that we need to achieve more effective integration of Ontario’s increasingly diverse student population into the mainstream of our province. That’s why we are committed to creating an opportunity for non-Catholic, faith-based schools to choose to join our publicly funded education system the same way Catholic schools have already done. Our policy will apply only to faith-based schools and we believe that the best results would be achieved through direct funding rather than through tax credits.

With this direct public funding will come strict criteria and accountability requirements. These criteria will include the expectation that participating schools:

  • fully incorporate the complete requirements of Ontario’s common curriculum, just as in the Catholic system;
  • participate in Ontario’s standardized testing program and agree to published results; and
  • appropriately address teacher credentialing.

The fear propagated by opponents is that many private schools will turn into public schools to gain "free" tax money and that this will increase segregation. The truth of the matter is that this will not be the case.

Private schools will remain private schools. There would be no benefit for a private school to submit to the provincial authority over curriculum and spending decisions. These new public boards would have to submit to the same budgetary issues that all schools currently face.

What will occur is the same as occurs today with Catholic families. The wealthy will continue to choose between private and public (faith-based or secular), the less well off will choose between secular and faith-based public schools.

This will not increase segregation. Extending funding to Catholic schools did not segregate Catholics from non-Catholics, so I don't even know where to begin with this gem. The bulk of these new school boards will be formed in the Greater Toronto Area, an area that has diverse neighbourhoods as it is. In my neighbourhood growing up, I played with Catholics - yet they went to different schools. My children today play with Catholics, yet they go to different schools. The bottom line is, children will play with who they are going to play with regardless of where their parents send them to school or how much their parents tell them they should integrate. Children will get along with children in their schools and in their neighbourhoods.

Ideally, as I mentioned, there would only be one unified public school system (perhaps offering faith-based elective courses). I think the choice of boards to merge should be up to them, as well.

However, in the interest of fairness, funding more public schools is the best thing. It's always better than discrimination.

Updated: Corrected a link to the Public Education platform for the Ontario Progressive Conservatives.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

One Forty

Happy 140th, Canada!

A little bit about the history of Canada Day, from Canadian Heritage:
On June 20, 1868, a proclamation signed by the Governor General, Lord Monck, called upon all Her Majesty's loving subjects throughout Canada to join in the celebration of the anniversary of the formation of the union of the British North America provinces in a federation under the name of Canada on July 1st.