• A buck-a-beer: the symbol of Ontario populism

    Populist politicians use sentimental yearnings for times past to strike a chord with people who are unsure about how to confront today’s intricate problems. Voters are discouraged by complexities and fearful about the future. The past seems like a safer place to be… Current models offer a more indirect and restrained form of governance, away from the bans and prohibitions of the past and toward more subtle incentives to encourage the right type of behaviour, from environmental compliance to health promotion.

  • Why the Ontario Progessive Conservatives aren’t ‘progressive’

    … today’s Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario is most certainly “conservative,” but not even remotely “progressive.” … Naturally, there are Red Tories, or left-leaning Conservatives, like Segal, former Ontario Premier Bill Davis and Toronto Mayor John Tory. These individuals promote progressive values, such as social justice, support for a welfare state, and maintaining significant amounts of public funding for social services. Nevertheless, this isn’t what most Ontario Conservatives think, or have ever thought, about political conservatism. To equate one with the other is wrong.

  • Predicting Hurricane Doug’s path of destruction

    aving analyzed the fallout from the province’s last right-wing government, I expect the damage wrought by Hurricane Doug will be particularly harsh for two specific and often intersecting constituencies: urban progressives and women… Hurricane Doug begins with a simple, brazen focus on streamlining debate out of the political calculus. Urban citizens with a democratic vision live in the eye of a very dangerous storm.

  • Abandoning the red Tory tradition hurting the most vulnerable

    … something cruel and uncaring has developed in Canadian and especially Ontario politics, a new conservatism that has abandoned the paternalism of the red Tory tradition, and replaced it with harshness, division, and a disregard for those who are most in need of our concern and empathy. Whether it’s using dismissive language about migrants, cutting promised minimum wage and welfare increases, or ending guaranteed income schemes, it stinks of something almost Dickensian.

  • Why I love paying taxes

    Canadians have been trained to demonize tax in all its forms… Taxation gets things done… Taxes pay for an organized, rules-based pleasant city for nearly three million people. It works. And if it doesn’t work, you have someone to complain to. If you want nicer things, for instance a downtown relief line or greater population density and homes people can afford, taxes will have to rise… Jennifer Keesmaat wants nicer things. I’m not sure if John Tory does. But can they both finally talk about taxes with candour and realism?

  • Doug Ford’s brutal, rapid-fire approach to governing

    It’s a rapid-fire approach to governing that keeps people off balance, largely uninformed and unable to participate in what little public discourse there is. If you explode six political files in rapid succession people are so shell-shocked they can barely remember the first three, let alone what they might have thought about them. And with so much back-to-back turmoil the standard for what constitutes reasonable government behaviour starts to change. One only needs to look at the United States under President Donald Trump to know that.

  • Growing disconnect between urban and rural Canada

    Where we live is the key determinant of how we think, work, and live. And, as we continue to urbanize, a chasm is growing between urban and rural experiences and perspectives. The data is pretty overwhelming. On a host of measures — ranging from incomes to employment to education to immigration to health to religion to family size to sex — researchers find significant differences… even after controlling for sociodemographic factors as well as ideology. Put more simply: where we live shapes how we vote more than other factors such as age, income, religion, or values.

  • Ford government’s media tactics draw ire of journalists, opposition parties

    … the obstructive tactics on display from Ford and his cabinet ministers go far beyond the partisan messaging expected in most political environments. Drowning out reporters’ questions with paid applause and producing government propaganda in the guise of an independent news story, they say, represents a misuse of taxpayer dollars and poses a threat to democracy. The government has said it uses funds from the caucus budget to fund social media accounts operating under the name Ontario News Now, which have delivered two videos so far promoting party messages.

  • Federal government urged to save Ontario’s basic-income pilot project

    The minister’s office provided a statement on Wednesday to The Globe and Mail that was neutral on the Ford government’s decision. “The design of provincial social programs is up to the provincial governments,” his office said.

  • What are we owed? Life, liberty, and security

    … The Charter says that as a Canadian I have fundamental freedoms… [including] the right to life, liberty, and security of the person… We all understand that government cannot guard us from every peril. Some things in life are truly freak accidents, and though they may be tragic, they are probably unavoidable. But the murder of innocent people is not unavoidable. It is intolerable.