Well NOW

June 5, 2014

This morning, a week before the provincial election, Editor/Publisher Michael Hollett of NOW magazine – the downtown leftist elitists’ weekly of choice – broadsideissued a broadside against the looming menace facing Ontario voters. Downtown NDP elitists.

I’m sorry. What?

In a gung-ho, rooting’ tootin’, down and dirty, rough and tumble burst of Toronto Sun-like prose, Hollett screamed and hollered at the nerve of the “Gang of 34” who had the temerity during this election campaign to question the direction the NDP was taking. “Preachy and patronizing.” “Party poobahs.” “Brita-filtered progressive purity.” “Curmudgeonly critics.” All having a champagne soaked hissy fit [that one’s mine] and stamping their Fluevog clad feet [mine too] about the “Steeltown Scrapper who “doesn’t want moral victories” but “a win that is moral.”

“Don’t be hustled into believing a little scruff and a little tough from a Steeltown tornado can’t take it all,” Hollett concludes, elitistsummoning his best H.L. Mencken stylings.

Yeah, yeah. We get it, Michael. You and Andrea love and are part of the rabble hoi polloi we downtown elitists have lost touch with. We don’t understand the value of a buck. “Pocketbook issues”? The only issue I have with my pocket is does it fit my fob watch.

You know what, Michael? Fuck you.

Given 3 opportunities to vote for the Dalton McGuinty-Kathleen Wynne Liberals, I never have. In 2003 and again in 2007, I voted NDP. Last time out, I was already feeling something of a disconnect with the party and eventually ended up voting Green. I’m leaning that way again.

Truth be told, I held out some hope that when Kathleen Wynne became premier and slipped out from under the yoke of the rightist McGuinty crowd, the party would come back to a comfortable spot on the left-centre side of the spectrum. That may still hold true. I could also be woefully misguided. It doesn’t matter to me now because when John Lorinc and Spacing detailed this Liberal government’s full-on politicization of the transit file, my brief flirtation with the Liberals ended.texaschainsawmassacre

Since the Common Sense Revolution yanked Ontario to the far right beginning in 1995, there have been wide open spaces on the left. The Liberals’ incremental nudges back to the centre didn’t really close the gap significantly. It was too attached to the prevailing neoliberal economic principles to do much else.

During much of that time, the NDP was exiled into the wilderness, the bad taste of the Rae government lingering for many Ontarians. Inexplicably, it seems in hindsight, given the destruction wrought on the province subsequently. Still, for more than a decade, politics in this province was little more than being slightly less conservative than the Progressive Conservatives.

Then came the economic meltdown of 2008 brought about by the unrestrained pursuit of wealth in an unchecked free market. fdrCombined with the hollowing of Ontario’s manufacturing base as a result of another neoliberal concept, free trade, it seemed the time was ripe for a political comeback of left wing politics. The worst downturn since the Great Depression. Let’s get all Keynesian, baby. A new New Deal anybody?

I’m not hearing too much FDR from the NDP these days. This afternoon on Ontario Today, Andrea Horwath tossed out props to Tommy Douglas. I’m just not getting that vibe from her.

Yes, yes, yes. I know those olde tyme lefties were meticulous with their budgets. That good ol’ prairie populism was equal parts generosity, fairness and bottom line-y. And yes, we have witnessed a shockingly deplorable profligacy of public money by the ruling Liberals. Of course, it’s time for a change.

But the NDP have tapped into a vein of black magic on this with their re-purposing of the populist rhetoric of Rob Ford. fabricateTheir ‘respect’. Their ‘common sense’. It feeds into the sense of the problems we face in this province are all somebody else’s fault. Rather than use the opportunity to revive the idea of a common good and smash the concept of taxes being evil, the NDP, like Rob Ford and every other right wing populist out there, have taken to assuring everyone that putting the pieces back together will be a cinch. Put an end to scandals and private-public partnerships. Raise taxes on a few people (not you). Reduce bloat in the ranks of government and the cost of energy consumption.

Bing, bang, boom. All is right. And you didn’t feel a thing, did you.

It’s complete fiction. There’s no easy way out of this mess we’re in currently. Our economy remains anemic. Our infrastructure is wobbly. The price of an education is sky high. The state of social housing in this province is shameful.

This has happened because too many of us, not just the well-to-do and corporations, have operated under the premise that investment in the public realm comes cheap and/or somebody else does it for us. By taking on the mantle of looking out for the little guy and respecting tax dollars, Andrea Horwath and the NDP continue to fuel that illusion. At least Tim Hudak is being honest when he tells us there are tough choices to be made. His are monstrous, for sure, but he’s not lying about that. The NDP have simply swept tough choices under the rug.

noproblem

I don’t know about Michael Hollett but that doesn’t strike me as any sort of moral victory.

snobbily submitted by Cityslikr


On Your Left

January 17, 2014

I hesitatingly venture here into provincial territory as it’s not really my thing. dipmytoeinWhich is odd because, regardless of what goes on at City Hall, what degree of self-import we attach to the place, it don’t amount to a hill of beans in the face of the ultimate power wielded by Queen’s Park. The municipal will of the people always bends to that of the provincial government. End stop.

So here goes…

It all started yesterday. Actually, it was the day before. Wednesday.

Mayor Ford foot stomps and waa-waas, demanding a face-to-face meeting with the premier to talk about financial help from the province for the city’s clean-up efforts after last month’s ice storm. A meeting the premier is under absolutely no obligation to have since the mayor’s been stripped of all his powers to be of any importance in the running of the city. tempertantrum3A meeting the premier is under absolutely no obligation to have since city council has already officially asked the province for assistance in paying for the clean-up.

A meeting that is only about one thing and one thing only.

Mayor Ford’s re-election campaign. Mayor Ford’s attempt to look like he’s still the mayor in anything but name only. Mayor Ford’s publicity stunt.

Just ignore him. He’ll get distracted soon. NFL playoffs this weekend!

But for whatever reason, the provincial NDP leader, Andrea Horwath, decides to wade in.

Let me restate that.

For purely political reasons, the provincial NDP leader, Andrea Horwath, decides to wade in. Ms. Horwath sees an opportunity to get a dig in at the premier. Why not? That’s what democracy is all about, right? Getting your shots in?

“I think common courtesy in response to a mayor’s request for a meeting is pretty easy to fulfil,” the NDP leader told reporters benice(and quoted here in a Toronto Sun article by Christina Blizzard. More on that in a moment.)

Come on, Premier Wynne! Why you gotta be so mean to guy when he’s down on his luck? What’s the mayor ever done to earn this kinda discourtesy from you?

I don’t really need to run down that list for you, do I? By the choices he’s made and actions he’s taken, Mayor Ford has made himself irrelevant to the operations and functioning of the city he was elected to lead. City council made it official. This goes beyond the mushy notion of courtesy.

So what’s to be gained for the NDP leader, out there, all sympathetic to Toronto’s disgraced mayor?

Here’s my guess, and it goes back to the Toronto Sun, Christina Blizzard and this seemingly bit of oddity from Trish Hennessy in the fall of 2011, after the last provincial election.

When they talked about Rob Ford, they often spoke in appreciative, glowing terms – in the same way they spoke about another well-loved politician, Jack Layton. In the focus group discussions, they saw little ideological divide between Jack Layton and Rob Ford. Rather, they felt the two men had in common a sincere drive to take on the struggle of the people despite great odds.

Rob Ford-Jack Layton? Wait? We’re NDP like Jack Layton. We’re like Jack Layton. ivegotitWhy not Rob Ford-provincial NDP?

From a left of centre perspective? Aside from the colour orange, I see very little resemblance between Jack Layton and the provincial NDP party. But hey. Have at it, if that’s how you see the way forward.

What I find particularly frustrating is that there’s another strategy possibly working to the NDP’s advantage here.

I see Premier Wynne as something of a throwback, a Pearson-Trudeau sort of Liberal at heart. With the Ontario economy in a serious rut, unemployment discouragingly high, disturbingly high for youth and young adults, the premier’s instinct must be to go all Keynesian on our asses. Damn the deficit! Open up the spigot and get spending. Seriously start addressing our staggering infrastructure deficit, especially in transit.

Screw talk of tax increases at this point of time. Those will come later. antikeynesianKick start the draggy economic engine because waiting for the private sector to step up has proven to be a mug’s game to this point.

The premier’s held back from taking such a bold step on two fronts. Old blue Tory McGuinty Libs remain in place, tutting and fretting about the deficit and debt. If we just buckle down a little more, tighten the belt a little further, things will start to come around. Conservatives assure us of this fact.

Secondly, previous financial spending gaffes (made by those very same blue Tory McGuinty Libs) have reduced the public’s trust in the Liberals’ ability to spend wisely to almost zero. With no credibility, no goodwill from voters, and still in a minority position, it’s tough to pull the trigger on any sort of increased spending. holeontheleftThis time, it’ll be different. Cross our hearts.

All of which opens a gaping hole on the left flank for the NDP to run up through. Government intervention to inject life into an otherwise anemic economy? It should be the party’s bread-and-butter. It’s what the NDP are all about, yes?

Not this current provincial NDP, it seems. This isn’t the party of Jack Layton. Or Stephen Lewis. Or, for that matter, Bob Rae even.

This is a party more concerned with what somebody like Rob Ford would do.

Political calculation, trumping principles and basic economic common sense.

duplicity

Good luck courting new voters with that. You’re going to need it.

disappointingly submitted by Cityslikr