Archive | Canadian Politics

The incoming Ford administration orders freeze on hiring and discretionary spending

Posted on 20 June 2018 by admin

The incoming Doug Ford administration has ordered a government-wide freeze on hiring and discretionary spending until it can get a “true look” at the state of provincial finances.

A new directive details the changes aimed at reining in spending before Ford’s Progressive Conservatives — who promised $6 billion in unidentified cost-saving “efficiencies” on the $150 billion provincial budget — take power from outgoing Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne on June 29.

 “We made a promise to the people of Ontario that respect for taxpayers was coming back to Queen’s Park,” Ford spokesman Jeff Silverstein said in a statement Monday.

“The people of Ontario work hard for their money and they expect their tax dollars to go to the services we all depend on.”

All government ministries have been directed to halt new hires, except for “essential front-line services staff” in jails, policing, fire and developmental services.

Out-of-province travel is also restricted along with use of consultants, temporary help services, non-essential events and communications, such as advertising, newspaper and magazine subscriptions and media monitoring.

The directive stipulates “any expense that can be placed on hold without putting government service delivery or the public at risk” in terms of health, safety and security matters.

“Any planned expenditures that are not committed by contract and/or required to meet immediate legal obligations or address matters of health or safety are to be deferred pending further direction,” the directive states.

However, the hiring freeze does not forbid Ontario Public Service employees from taking new jobs in the civil service but these moves must be tracked so the new government can be given a summary later.

Ford promised during the June 7 election campaign to hire independent auditors to do a line-by-line audit of the province’s books to ensure taxpayers are getting value for money.

The New Democrats and Liberals have warned that Ford’s $6 billion in spending cuts will lead to fewer services in health and education. The premier-designate has pledged that no public sector workers will lose their jobs.

 

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Ontario makes history with record number of female MPPs

Posted on 20 June 2018 by admin

Voters’ desire for change not only swept in a new provincial government this month, but also sent a record-breaking influx of female MPPs to Queen’s Park.

Of the 124 ridings in Ontario, 49 will be represented by women. At 39.5 per cent, that’s the highest of any provincial legislature across the country.

 “It’s always encouraging to see the numbers go up,” said Nancy Peckford, executive director of Equal Voice, a non-partisan organization that works to boost the number of females elected to all levels of political office.

“This is a historic high for the Ontario legislature and I believe a historic high for any legislature in Canada.”

Before the election, when Ontario had 107 ridings, about 35 per cent of MPPs were women. The new percentage of 39.5 is slightly higher than British Columbia, at 38.5 per cent.

Twenty of the NDP’s 40 MPPs coming to Queen’s Park are women, something Leader Andrea Horwath noted during her first meeting with them last week in Toronto.

 “This dynamic team truly reflects the prospects of Ontario and the amazing diversity of this province,” said Horwath, the incoming leader of the official Opposition. “We have more women than the Ontario NDP has ever elected before.”

Women make up about one-third of the PC caucus (25 of 76 MPPs), and the Liberals have four female MPPs among their seven.

Peckford said 30 per cent is considered an important benchmark, and with Ontario near 40 per cent she considers that “more of a tipping point.”

“The difference that it makes — I think people have underestimated how important representation is,” said the NDP’s Laura Mae Lindo, elected in Kitchener Centre.

“If I didn’t see the number of women that were actually running, I wouldn’t have run,” said Lindo, who credits NDP MPP Catherine Fife (Waterloo) for tapping her on the shoulder and being persistent in urging her to seek office. “My hope is that more people will start running because they actually see that … not just that I’m a woman, but I’m a woman of colour.”

Incoming PC MPP Effie Triantafilopoulos (Oakville North—Burlington), who has years of experience as a chief of staff for several federal Conservative ministries, said “bravo — and it’s about time” that more women were elected to office.

“I’m just absolutely thrilled” by the number of female MPPs heading to Queen’s Park, she said. “A record number of women means that, collectively, we all bring something to the table that’s sometimes lacking.”

Peckford said the record number of women in the house “really sets the bar” and she expects to see a “strong representation of women” in Premier-designate Doug Ford’s cabinet.

Though the Tories have the lowest percentage of women of the three main parties, “what’s nice to see about this dynamic is you have at least 30 per cent women in every major party caucus,” Peckford said. “That’s a good news story.”

She noted the trailblazing of PC MPP Lisa MacLeod, whose efforts led to more family-friendly hours for MPPs, something the Nepean politician was honoured for this spring.

But it’s still not an easy road, added Peckford, and the 40-per-cent mark doesn’t mean the work is done.

The NDP’s Doly Begum, elected in Scarborough Southwest, said there were moments during the campaign when she felt like an outsider.

“If you see a picture of our debates, you see me in the middle,” surrounded by older men, Begum said. “During one of the debates, I texted my brother and said, ‘I don’t think I belong here.’

“He said, ‘You are doing a good job. The room seems to love you.’ ”

Being at the NDP caucus meeting last Thursday “felt real,” given the diversity around the table, she added. “Looking around the room, I felt like I belonged.”

Progressive Conservative Amy Fee, elected in Kitchener—South Hespeler, believes the influx of women at the legislature is bound to encourage more to seek public office. The mother of two daughters said it is gratifying because “you’re able to say, ‘Look at what you can do and make your voices be heard.’ ”

 

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Why did Doug Ford win a majority? This group has a few theories

Posted on 20 June 2018 by admin

Toronto communications and strategy firm Navigator Ltd conducted eight focus groups in Oakville, North York, London, Sault Ste. Marie and in-depth interviews with voters in the eastern part of the province, paying particular attention to rural areas and smaller communities, over the last several days.

Why did Ontarians give Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford a solid majority of 76 seats in last Thursday’s provincial election?

To find out, Toronto communications and strategy firm Navigator Ltd conducted eight focus groups in Oakville, North York, London, Sault Ste. Marie and in-depth interviews with voters in the eastern part of the province, paying particular attention to rural areas and smaller communities, over the last several days.

Learn the results Wednesday from noon to 1 p.m. in a Livestream presentation of the findings led by Navigator’s executive chairman, Jaime Watt.

He will host a panel discussion with former Quebec premier Jean Charest, Jan De Silva of the Toronto Region Board of Trade, former Ontario cabinet secretary Shelly Jamieson and Navigator principal Amanda Galbraith, a PC insider.

Ford was seen as the best candidate for premier to deliver on his promises of lower taxes and lower government spending, said Anne Kilpatrick, lead research principal for Navigator.

“He’s a fighter. He’s not a pushover.”

 

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Ontarians ‘pretty worried about what Doug Ford has in store,’ Horwath says

Posted on 20 June 2018 by admin

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath says she and her MPPs have a “very important job ahead” to hold the Ford government accountable.

“People are pretty worried about what Doug Ford has in store, and so am I,” said Horwath, speaking to both new and returning MPPs — there are 40 in total — for the first time since the June 7 election.

The NDP doubled the number of seats it holds and becomes Ontario’s official opposition, with more than half of them first-time MPPs. They held their first meeting all-day Thursday at a downtown Toronto hotel.

The Progressive Conservatives, under Leader Doug Ford, won 76 seats and were elected with about 40 per cent of the popular vote, and they formally take office June 29.

During the election campaign, Ford said he would find $6 billion in “efficiencies,” and made a number of spending promises, as well as pledging tax cuts — which eat into government revenues — without saying how they would be paid for.

“The majority of Ontarians did not vote for cuts to health care or layoffs to more nurses and more teachers or the privatization of the things that matter most to all of us,” Horwath said. “New Democrats — we will be the voice for all those Ontarians. We will hold Doug Ford accountable for each and every decision that he makes.”

Horwath also said Ford “still needs to account for the scandals and investigations that plagued him during the campaign and prior,” referring to police investigations into alleged ballot-box stuffing during PC nominations, as well as the Highway 407 data breach that led to a candidate resigning.

Also on Thursday, Ontario’s information and privacy commissioner issued his annual report, in which he urged the legislature to give him the power to oversee political parties and how they collect and handle voters’ personal information.

Brian Beamish said “parties collect and use personal information to target individuals in specific and unique ways for political gain. Digital tools amass extensive amounts of personal information from diverse sources, frequently without the knowledge or consent of the individual. These increasingly sophisticated big data practices raise new privacy and ethical concerns and the need for greater transparency is evident.”

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Trudeau on Trump: We support North Korea efforts, won’t engage on comments

Posted on 13 June 2018 by admin

U.S. trade adviser Peter Navarro apologizes for his ‘special place in hell’ remark about prime minister

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is cheering Donald Trump’s bid to broker a deal to rid the Korean Peninsula of nuclear weapons, but he’s keeping mum on the U.S. president’s persistent trash talk against Canada.

The Liberal government is looking forward to seeing the details of the agreement that emerged from Monday’s historic meeting between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Trudeau said Tuesday as he arrived on Parliament Hill for his weekly cabinet meeting.

“We support the continuing efforts by the president on North Korea, (and) we look forward to looking at the details of the agreement,” Trudeau said.

“On (Trump’s) comments, I’m going to stay focused on defending jobs for Canadians and supporting Canadian interests.”

Trump told a lengthy news conference in Singapore that Trudeau’s assertion that Canada “will not be pushed around” will end up costing Canadians “a lot of money.”

Among the many topics that came up was Trump’s recent Twitter campaign against Trudeau, whom he has called “dishonest” and “weak.”

Those comments came after Trudeau’s closing news conference at the G7 summit in Quebec on Saturday, when the prime minister said he had pushed back against the Trump administration’s hefty tariffs on steel and aluminum.

Trump says he watched that news conference on his way to Singapore, and was upset because he thought he and Trudeau had had a positive meeting in Charlevoix.

Trump says Trudeau “probably didn’t know that Air Force One has about 20 televisions.

“I see the television and he’s giving a news conference about how he ‘will not be pushed around’ by the United States. And I say, ‘Push him around? We just shook hands!”‘ Trump said Tuesday.

“We finished the (G7) meeting and really everybody was happy.”

Trump has consistently railed against what he claims are unfair trade practices by some of America’s biggest trade partners, including Canada.

One particular source of his ire recently has been Canada’s supply management system, which levels tariffs of up to 300 per cent on imported dairy products.

“It’s very unfair to our farmers, and it’s very unfair to the people of our country,” Trump said Tuesday in Singapore.

“It’s very unfair, and it’s very unfair to our workers, and I’m gonna straighten it out. And it won’t even be tough.”

On Monday, MPs in the House of Commons approved a motion denouncing Trump’s name-calling tirade and endorsing Trudeau’s decision to stand his ground against U.S. tariffs and tweeted presidential threats.

The motion calls on the House to recognize the importance of Canada’s “long-standing, mutually beneficial trading relationship” with the U.S., “strongly oppose” the “illegitimate tariffs” imposed on steel and aluminum, stand “in solidarity” with the Trudeau government’s decision to impose retaliatory tariffs and remain united in support of the supply management system of regulating Canada’s dairy and poultry industry.

And it concludes with a direct shot at Trump, calling on the House to “reject disparaging and ad hominem statements by U.S. officials which do a disservice to bilateral relations and work against efforts to resolve this trade dispute.”

Former U.S. ambassador to Canada Bruce Heyman also wants Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro to apologize for saying “there’s a special place in hell” for Trudeau, whom he accused of practising “bad-faith diplomacy” at the weekend G7 summit in Quebec.

Former Conservative cabinet minister James Moore, a member of the government’s advisory group on NAFTA, hailed Trudeau’s approach, refusing to react to “the noise, the bluster, the Twitter, the emotional outbursts.”

Similarly, former interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose, also a member of the NAFTA advisory group, said Trudeau is doing the right thing.

Ambrose said the government needs to consider what more it’s willing to put on the NAFTA table, keeping in mind that “what’s at stake is just so much bigger than our pride. This is about our economy and millions and millions of jobs.”

As well, she said the government should accelerate work on its Plan B in the event that Trump blows up NAFTA or follows through on threats to impose tariffs on autos and auto parts — a move Ambrose said would be devastating to Canada’s economy. Among other things, she said the government should be preparing to keep pace with corporate tax cuts and tax breaks south of the border.

The United States has imposed 25 per cent tariffs on steel from Canada, Mexico and the European Union, and 10 per cent tariffs on aluminum. The Trudeau government has announced it will impose dollar-for-dollar, retaliatory tariffs on metals and a range of other U.S. products by July 1.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh urged the federal government to get serious about drafting a rescue plan for steel and aluminum workers, who are going to feel the brunt of the initial impact of the dispute — and soon.

“Sometimes when we think about tariffs, when we think about a trade war, we lose sight of the real impact, and that’s on workers,” Singh told a news conference on Parliament Hill.

“We’ve got to look at what supports are available to ensure that if their jobs, their livelihoods are compromised, what can the government do to support these folks.”

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A new day has dawned in Ontario’: Doug Ford PCs win majority government

Posted on 13 June 2018 by admin

With PCs handed a majority government on Thursday, Ford took the stage in a Toronto ballroom and heralded a new, Fordian era in Ontario

TORONTO — With Progressive Conservatives handed a majority government on Thursday, Doug Ford took the stage in a Toronto ballroom and, thundering all the phrases that won him the premier’s office, heralded a new, Fordian era in Ontario: “The party with the taxpayers’ money is over,” he said. “It’s done.”

Late Thursday night, the PCs were leading in at least 76 ridings — a gobsmacking showing in an election once considered to be a tight race. The NDP, which emerged midway through the campaign as the best hope for voters opposed to a Ford-led PC government, were firmly in second place, relegating Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals to third after 15 years as Ontario’s governing party.

“We have taken back Ontario,” Ford told to supporters packed into the Toronto Congress Centre. “My friends, help is here!

“Tonight we have sent a clear message to the world: Ontario is open for business.”

 “There is another generation and I am passing the torch to that generation,” Wynne said, holding back tears. “I know that tonight is not the result we were looking for and no one feels that more sharply than I do.”

After Wynne’s conceded defeat a week ahead of election day, the race appeared a toss-up between the NDP and the PCs — with opinion polls suggesting the two were deadlocked. Instead, Ford surged easily to a majority on a platform heavy on populist values and light on details, deflecting criticism for his lack of a costed platform. A lawsuit from Rob Ford’s widow alleging Ford mishandled his brother’s estate and destroyed the value of the family business also appears to have done little to damage Ford’s brand as a competent businessman.

“I know that my brother Rob is looking down from heaven,” Ford told supporters. “I’m just getting chills talking about him right now.”

Doug’s wife and daughters watched from the side of the stage before joining him in celebration. His brother Randy stood nearby, wearing his trademark cowboy hat with sunglasses perched on top. Inside the cavernous ballroom, Ford supporters decked out in white “For The People” shirts and carrying “Help Is On The Way” signs crammed around the stage as Doug gave his speech. They broke out in applause at nearly every line.

Earlier, as election results came in, cheers went up in the room every time a broadcast showed projections that a Liberal cabinet minister would fall in their riding: Finance Minister Charles Sousa, Economic Development Minister Steven Del Duca, Treasury Board President Eleanor McMahon. But scattered boos broke out when the TV switched to victorious Green Party leader Mike Schreiner giving a speech on the need to fight climate change.

Meantime, PC star candidate Caroline Mulroney won her York-Simcoe riding handily, by more than 15,000 votes. Christine Elliot, the veteran Tory politician who, along with Mulroney, ran against Ford for the party leadership, also won her seat.

With 8,264 of 8,419 polls reporting, the NDP had nearly 34 per cent of the vote across the province and were leading or had won in 39 ridings. When NDP Leader Andrea Horwath arrived on the scene at an election party in Hamilton, she moved through a crowd of people, and framed the party’s performance Thursday as a victory.

“We have won more seats than we have held in a generation,” Horwath told supporters, who responded with chants of “Andrea!”

“I am deeply humbled that Ontarians have asked us to serve as the new official opposition.”

Former Ontario Speaking to reporters later, Horwath embraced the mantle of holding an Ontario PC government to account.

“Because lord knows,” she said, “they’re going to need to be held to account.”

A switch to electronic voting machines seemed to accelerate results, with projections of a PC victory coming well within an hour of polls closing. The fast pace was somewhat surprising, considering the peculiar series of events that had upended several polling stations throughout voting day Thursday. Two separate police investigations thrust four schools into lockdown, forcing Elections Ontario to extend voting hours at polling stations across several electoral districts.

Elections Ontario was adamant the delays had nothing to do with its new vote tabulating systems, suggesting there was swirling misinformation to the contrary. “Any other information you have received … is incorrect,” spokeswoman Jessica Pellerin said in an email, adding that technological hiccups with the machines, much complained about by voters online, were quickly remedied.

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Wynne hopes Ford changes rules to give Liberals official party status

Posted on 13 June 2018 by admin

TORONTO — Ontario’s outgoing Liberals made a pitch to hold on to official party status Friday as they entered a period of extreme uncertainty in the wake of an election that took them from a majority government to a mere seven seats.

Kathleen Wynne, who stepped down as Liberal leader after the party’s dramatic downfall, said she hopes premier-designate Doug Ford will change the rules to grant the designation, which currently requires eight seats in the legislature.

“I think it’s important,” she said. “I hope that Mr. Ford will agree.”

Ford only said he would talk to his team about the issue in the days and weeks to come.

Being a recognized party in the legislature allows parties to have an office for their leader and access resources such as research assistance, but the threshold required for the designation can be changed by legislators, as has been in the past.

The loss of that status is “one more indignity” to the Liberals as they try to rebuild following a devastating defeat that propelled the Progressive Conservatives to power for the first time in 15 years and elevated the New Democrats to the official Opposition, said Jonathan Malloy, a political science professor at Carleton University.

“They’ve been laid lower than they’ve ever been before, (their loss) is not the single worst disaster for a major political party in Canada but it ranks up there,” he said.

“I absolutely think the Ontario Liberal party is coming back, I have no doubt about that but it’s going to be a long road for them … they’re going to need some time to lick their wounds, to retool, to identify a new leadership.”

The party will face financial challenges, both in and out of the legislature, which the loss of party status will aggravate, he said. The legislative assembly’s internal economy board sets aside funds each year to be distributed among official parties.

It’s unlikely the NDP would support loosening the rules around party status considering they were denied a similar reprieve under the Liberals in 2003, Malloy said.

New Democrats were granted some accommodations at the time, including some funding, and earned party status the following year when leader Andrea Horwath won a byelection.

“I don’t really see why the NDP would want to give anything to the Liberals now…memories are long in politics,” Malloy said.

Horwath was pressed on the issue Friday and would only say that the decision was Ford’s to make. “The people gave the Liberals seven seats, that’s what they have in the legislature and that’s what they’re going to have to deal with,” she said.

The Liberals, who had faced voter anger over rising hydro bills and questionable government spending among other issues, said they would weigh their next steps. Asked how long she believes the party will need to recover, Wynne said regardless of the timeline, the work must begin now.

“We need to reconnect with each other now that the election is over and with our communities and use that same capacity that we have had for many, many years to rebuild,” she said. “I can’t tell you how long that’s going to take but our target is four years.”

The party’s president, Brian Johns, said the process to select an interim leader from the seven caucus members was underway, though he declined to say how long it would take or when the party would begin looking for a permanent successor to Wynne.

Former Liberal cabinet minister John Milloy, now an assistant professor of public ethics at Waterloo Lutheran Seminary, said the last thing the party should do is rush to select a permanent leader.

People are exhausted and resources are thin following the campaign, he said, and the party would do better to bide its time.

“I would think that they’d want to consolidate, get their feet under them, figure out how they’re going to operate in the legislature,” he said.

“I could see them choosing … the middle option — someone who’s going to carry the ball for a while and then you sort of have a convention closer to the next election, in a couple of years, where you could actually showcase someone.”

While it’s too early to name contenders to lead the Liberals into the next election, the party has several options to hold the fort before then, he said.

If the Liberals want a “seasoned hand” to act as the party’s caretaker, legislator Michael Gravelle would be a good choice and is respected within the party, he said. Or they could pick among their younger legislators if they want a fresh face who may eventually seek to take up the mantle permanently, he said.

Either way, the party will need to be creative to shore up excitement on a shoestring budget, he said, noting the upcoming federal election will provide an opportunity to capitalize on the federal party’s brand and keep Liberal flames alive.

The Tory majority could play in the party’s favour if the new government proves ineffective or starts making mistakes, he added.

“But the biggest challenge that I think the provincial Liberals have is they’re going to have to differentiate themselves from the New Democratic Party and I think quite frankly that was one of the issues (in the election).”

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73 new MPPs bring fresh perspectives to Queen’s Park

Posted on 13 June 2018 by admin

Suze Morrison is among the first-time legislators on their way to Queen’s Park. And while she says her work in the non-profit sector and on boards has primed her for the role, she does have a number of practical questions.

“Things like hiring staff, opening an office, who tells me where my seat in this house is, and where my office at Queen’s Park will be,” said Morrison, who won the Toronto Centre riding for the NDP.

Last week’s sweeping Progressive Conservative victory is bringing a massive influx of rookie MPPs to the Ontario Legislature. The group of 73 newcomers is the largest in 15 years, and more than four times bigger than the batch of successful rookies in the 2014 provincial election.

That wave of fresh faces holds both promise and the potential for pitfalls, experts say.

Penny Bryden, a history professor at the University of Victoria, said the fresh perspectives of new legislators presents an opportunity to deliver on the electorate’s desire for government to do things differently. At the same time, she said, newbies can be liabilities, in that inexperience often leads to gaffes and scandals.

“There’s a chance to think outside the box now,” Bryden said. “But then there’s the flip side of that, because nobody knows what they’re doing and therefore they make a lot of mistakes.”

Premier-elect Doug Ford has no experience in provincial politics, Bryden noted, “so you’ve got the person who’s setting the tone not knowing what key it’s being played in. I think that will automatically suggest a higher likelihood of missteps.”

The Deputy Clerk’s office told the Star there will be two days of orientation for new MPPs in June and August, which will include training in administration and procedural affairs.

John Fraser, who was re-elected to represent Ottawa South last week, said finding one’s bearings in the job can be a “steep hill.”

Fraser, who was first elected in the 2013 byelection to replace Dalton McGuinty, said it took him about four months to get used to the job. “It’s a big change,” he said, from the complex policy work to the simpler challenges, like finding the washrooms.

Donna Skelly, another newcomer to provincial politics, became the sole PC MPP in an orange wave that took Hamilton last week – even her riding, Flamborough-Glanbrook, is brand new.

“I’m currently a city councillor and I think that there are many similarities in terms of constituency work, challenges, your obligations to the electorate,” she said, noting that she developed a thick skin as a broadcast journalist before working for the municipality.

“I’m very comfortable with any sort of criticism,” Skelly said, “but not everyone has the opportunity to develop a thick skin.”

An influx of new legislators is inevitable when a dynasty like the Ontario Liberal Party is defeated, said University of Toronto political science professor Nelson Wiseman. What is less predictable, he said, is how ready those newcomers are to be effective legislators.

“Some might not have been in the provincial legislature even as a tourist in their life,” Wiseman said. “Others may be very well-grounded in public policy, public administration. Some may have Grade 10 educations and some may have PhDs.”

Gilles Bisson has represented Timmins-James Bay since 1990, making him one of the three longest-serving members at Queen’s Park.

The NDP MPP said he’s seen turnover of nearly this scale before and while it can be disruptive, the challenges are fleeting. “When the Tories were ousted out of office some 15 years ago, there were a lot of new members elected, probably not as much as now, but people adjust,” he said.

Fraser, who has volunteered to help the latest batch of new MPPs make their way into the fold, said that whether you’re a newcomer or a veteran, the key to success is the same: serve the people who elected you.

“Never forget where you came from, who sent you, and why they sent you, which means all politics is local,” Fraser said, adding that, at its best, politics transcends party lines.

“That’s the most important thing a new [member] — and all members — should know.”

For Morrison, there’s comfort in all the good wishes she’s received. “There are definitely supports in place, through the party and the great staff that work at Queen’s Park,” she said.

“I know people have my back, and there’s experienced MPPs who’re going to support me in the role.”

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Seven remaining Liberal MPPs prepare to rebuild their party

Posted on 13 June 2018 by admin

The party’s not over — but to bring it back to life, the Ontario Liberals know they have a lot of work ahead of them.

And at the centre of the rebuilding will be the seven MPPs who survived an election that saw the party go from majority government at Queen’s Park to losing official status.

 “The first thing is listening to people, to get a better understanding of why people felt so disconnected,” said MPP and outgoing cabinet minister Michael Coteau, who was re-elected in Don Valley East in a tough fight with PC candidate Denzil Minnan-Wong. “What was really behind the hate for the Liberals, in many areas?”

Coteau said he believes Liberal values and policies still have support, but in the last few years, “it was hard for people to stay connected to us.”

Outrage over issues like hydro “was the piece that was obvious,” said Coteau, who held three big portfolios prior to the election — children and youth, anti-racism and community and social services. “But there are other pieces that are there that are less obvious, and we need to talk about them.”

After the June 7 vote, and 15 years in power, the Liberals faced the wrath of voters, who reduced their numbers to a handful of MPPs, including Coteau, outgoing Premier Kathleen Wynne and Mitzie Hunter in the Toronto area; John Fraser, Nathalie Des Rosiers and Marie-France Lalonde in the Ottawa area; and Michael Gravelle in Thunder Bay-Superior North.

 “The results speak for themselves — it was a clear message,” said Hunter, who represents Scarborough-Guildwood. “We have to listen to that.”

The first challenge will be for the remaining Liberal MPPs to push for party status — which would provide them with funding and the right to regularly ask questions in the legislature — and make sure they keep the party in the news, said Kathy Brock, a policy studies and political science professor at Queen’s University.

“But the more important thing is that the Liberal party has to get in touch with its constituency associations and find out what was said at the doors” during the election campaign, she said.

“It’s not just anger” that brought them down, she added. “What they’ve got to do is a good analysis of where did things go wrong, and then start to rebuild the party platform that way.”

Though many turned to the NDP this time, “if the Liberals give them a reason to come back, they will,” she added.

Both Coteau and Hunter said they will continue to advocate for their ridings, especially given voters chose them knowing the Liberals would not form government.

As for the party, “the other piece that’s going to be challenging, we are going to be in debt,” Coteau added, at a time when “fundraising is not going to be like it has been over the last 15 years.

“We’re going to have to go back to the base, and we’re going to have to build together and we’re going to have to get ourselves out of debt,” he added.

“I don’t know if it’s going to take four years or eight years (to rebuild the party), but I know one thing, it’s going to take a long time and we’ll know better a year from now.”

The party will have to be “better aligned with where Ontarians want to be,” he added, and said it’s important to keep reaching out to MPPs who are not returning, as well as others in the party with experience being in opposition.

Hunter, a former education and post-secondary minister, said she heard a lot about child care and other issues while going door to door during the campaign. “At the same time, we have to pinpoint priorities for people in their lives,” she said. “What are we offering? Was that the priority? We have to find that out.”

Local riding associations will play a big part, she added, “making them aware that although everyone is disappointed in the result of the 2018 election, that it’s not over. We will rebuild.”

She and the other six MPPs have spoken one-on-one and via two conference calls, including one Monday morning. One of their first tasks will be to choose an interim leader.

“We are a small team,” Hunter said, “but we have a lot of work to do.”

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Conservatives defend accusing Trudeau of ‘failure’ on U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs

Posted on 06 June 2018 by admin

‘I loved the prime minister’s language yesterday but I would have liked to see that last October,’ said O’Toole

OTTAWA — From Jason Kenney to Brad Wall, Scott Moe to James Moore, many of Canada’s most prominent conservative politicians and ex-politicians voiced public support of Justin Trudeau Thursday after U.S. President Donald Trump slapped Canada, Mexico and the European Union with new steel and aluminum tariffs. There was some consensus, it seemed, that this was a moment for Canadians to show a united front. Members of the federal Conservative Party, however, opted for a different approach.

In a statement Thursday afternoon Conservative leader Andrew Scheer blamed Trudeau for not winning Canada an exemption from the tariffs, saying “it’s clear that the prime minister has failed.”

In question period in the House of Commons, meanwhile, Scheer’s foreign affairs critic, Erin O’Toole, went on the attack as well, accusing the Liberals of offering platitudes but doing “nothing” to prevent the tariffs. “My colleague across the way should know better,” transport minister Marc Garneau shot back. “This is not the time to be partisan.”

On Friday Conservative House leader Candice Bergen softened the message slightly, saying the Liberal government’s retaliatory measures are “appropriate,” though not enough to solve the impasse.

But O’Toole remained committed to the harsher line of attack. “We’re getting criticized for calling this a failure. When the prime minister went on the tour of the steel town communities, they were declaring that exemption (from tariffs) temporarily as a victory. That was not a prudent course of action,” he told the National Post in an interview Friday.

O’Toole explained that the official opposition was getting frustrated because Liberals had “specifically excluded” his party from the government’s efforts south of the border.

“We’ve provided direct willingness to go down to Washington as a united front. The Liberals have taken up none of it,” he said.

Wall, the former premier of Saskatchewan, had tweeted that he strongly supported the government’s “swift response.” “Moments such as this call for Cdn resolve,” he said. The province’s still-new premier, Scott Moe — who has so far shown every indication of picking up where Wall left off as a thorn in Trudeau’s side on issues like carbon pricing — was supportive too. Jason Kenney, the leader of the United Conservative Party in Alberta and another keen Trudeau critic, used almost the same language as Wall to express his solidarity with the government. Moore, a former federal minister currently consulting in Vancouver, posted on Twitter that it was time for political unity. “Country first,” he said. “The actions announced today … are measured and appropriate.”

Liberal MPs took notice, citing those reactions in their responses to Conservative questions Friday. “I suspect this will be a full Team Canada full court press,” public safety minister Ralph Goodale told reporters.

Nonetheless O’Toole expressed his disappointment that “Team Canada” has, in his view, only meant members of the Liberal government. “Team Canada needs to leverage the strength of Team Canada, and it’s frustrating for me. And you know, James Moore and Brad Wall … and all these people aren’t as close to it as we are, and haven’t been trying to basically be bipartisan on this.

“For (the Liberals) Team Canada means, ‘OK, we’re now in a crisis. You applaud whatever we decide to do even though we’ve been ignoring your advice for eight months,’” he said. It took three months for him to get a background briefing with foreign affairs minister Chrystia Freeland’s office on the North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations, he said.

O’Toole said Scheer has requested a sit-down with the Liberals so that they can leverage the opposite benches’ expertise, such as that of former trade minister Ed Fast. He said he has been calling his own contacts in the U.S. senate.

Because the U.S. is justifying tariffs by saying they are being levied for “national security” reasons, O’Toole said, the government should have been emphasizing how closely Canada works with the U.S. on security, defence and NORAD from the beginning, instead of focusing on issues such as progressive new elements in NAFTA.

“I know the PMO has convinced everyone that the charm offensive has been so effective. We’ve done a lot of work and I praise that. But we haven’t been strategic on what we’re talking about, what parts of the relationship we’re highlighting,” he said. “I loved the prime minister’s language yesterday but I would have liked to see that last October.”

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