Tag Archives: Kathleen Wynne

Some quick hits

  • So yeah, the infection in my leg is taking over my body again.  The specialist was hoping we had it killed but it came back in under 48 hours and started to move through my body.  Am back on antibiotics but right now my throat, ear, eyes, leg, and many joints hurt.  Also the fever is something else.  It was a year ago that I dragged myself into St. Paul’s Hospital and the doctor simply said after doing blood work, “this infection is killing you”.  A year later, it still seems able to do that.  Yes it still sucks.
  • Why do dogs sense that you have a fever and decide at that moment above all else, they need to hold you.  I love Marley but I am sick, the last thing I want is to wake up to a dog sleeping nose to nose with me and touching me.  She has twice tried to cover me up today as well.  Also, where is that service when I am cold and she is taking my covers?
  • I keep hearing that Bev Dubois is running for mayor.   This could be the greatest thing over for the Charlie Clark campaign even if Atch does drop out.
  • I watch Ken Burn’s The Roosevelt’s the other day.  The entire documentary series may be his best yet.  If you haven’t seen it, it is on Netflix. 
  • I’m missing something but I don’t understand Black Lives Matter protesting and disturbing the Toronto Pride Parade.   I am totally okay with protesting but I don’t know what disturbing the Toronto Pride Parade accomplishes when they are clearly not the ones that Black Lives Matter has an issue with.   Also, how does a festival that is about inclusiveness has a history of “anti-blackness”.    Then they wanted to kick out the Toronto Police floats who BLM sees as racist, even if their new chief is black.  At the end of the day, I don’t understand activists.
  • Kudos to John Tory, Kathleen Wynne, Naheed Nenshi, Justin Trudeau and all of the other politicians who took stands and participated or lead Pride parades in their cities.  You will notice that I left Atch’s name off that list.  His refusal to march in the parade like almost every other liberal and conservative politician in Canada boggles my mind.

Throughout history, dire poverty has been a basic condition of the mass of mankind

We can eradicate it by 2030 according to the Economist

IN SEPTEMBER 2000 the heads of 147 governments pledged that they would halve the proportion of people on the Earth living in the direst poverty by 2015, using the poverty rate in 1990 as a baseline. It was the first of a litany of worthy aims enshrined in the United Nations “millennium development goals” (MDGs). Many of these aims—such as cutting maternal mortality by three quarters and child mortality by two thirds—have not been met. But the goal of halving poverty has been. Indeed, it was achieved five years early.

In 1990, 43% of the population of developing countries lived in extreme poverty (then defined as subsisting on $1 a day); the absolute number was 1.9 billion people. By 2000 the proportion was down to a third. By 2010 it was 21% (or 1.2 billion; the poverty line was then $1.25, the average of the 15 poorest countries’ own poverty lines in 2005 prices, adjusted for differences in purchasing power). The global poverty rate had been cut in half in 20 years.

That raised an obvious question. If extreme poverty could be halved in the past two decades, why should the other half not be got rid of in the next two? If 21% was possible in 2010, why not 1% in 2030?

Why not indeed? In April at a press conference during the spring meeting of the international financial institutions in Washington, DC, the president of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, scrawled the figure “2030” on a sheet of paper, held it up and announced, “This is it. This is the global target to end poverty.” He was echoing Barack Obama who, in February, promised that “the United States will join with our allies to eradicate such extreme poverty in the next two decades.”

This week, that target takes its first step towards formal endorsement as an aim of policy round the world. The leaders of Britain, Indonesia and Liberia are due to recommend to the UN a list of post-2015 MDGs. It will be headed by a promise to end extreme poverty by 2030.

There is a lot of debate about what exactly counts as poverty and how best to measure it. But by any measure, the eradication of $1.25-a-day poverty would be an astonishing achievement. Throughout history, dire poverty has been a basic condition of the mass of mankind. Thomas Malthus, a British clergyman who founded the science of demography, wrote in 1798 that it was impossible for people to “feel no anxiety about providing the means of subsistence for themselves and [their] families” and that “no possible form of society could prevent the almost constant action of misery upon a great part of mankind.” For most countries, poverty was not even a problem; it was a plain, unchangeable fact.

You know what I would like to see?  Stephen Harper and the premiers making the same pledge to radically improve conditions on Canadian reserves.  It’s not any of their faults that it has gotten this bad but it would be interesting to work with First Nations leaders and come up with a baseline that by 2030 (or 2020) that all First Nations would be at.  

I can’t imagine how hard it would be to navigate the different groups but can it be any harder than cutting extreme poverty around the world in half?

Queen’s Park, we have a problem

Ontario’s debt problem just got a whole lot larger

Few people talk about debt. It isn’t sexy, and it certainly won’t win votes. In a little over two decades, from 1990-1991 to today, Ontario’s debt-to-GDP ratio has tripled. If you believe the government’s projections in Thursday’s budget, between 2009-2010 and 2017-2018, the province will have added about $90-billion in debt. The total debt will be about $280-billion.

It doesn’t matter, under these circumstances, which party forms the next government. The debt will still be there, large and growing, and very vulnerable to a hike in interest rates. Ontario, like other governments, can pile up more debt and get financing at low rates. When, inevitably, those rates rise, the burden of financing the debt will jump.

Thursday’s budget, in this sense, was like the recent federal one. The media and opposition parties in Ottawa focused on all the changes. Fair enough, but the biggest, silent increase in the federal budget was money for seniors’ pensions. That didn’t get a whisper of attention, because the costs go up quietly.

So, too, the post-budget coverage and debate in Ontario swirled about new spending in some programs while restraint is exercised in others; whether the Liberals met the NDP’s bargaining positions to get the budget passed and so remain in office; and whether the deficit will be going slightly up or down. But beneath the radar screen will be the buildup of debt, and the very real question about whether the province can manage it.

Ontario could finance its debt more easily if economic growth and accompanying government revenues grew at least as fast as debt-servicing costs. But economic growth is going to be about half the increase in costs of servicing the debt.

As the budget itself notes, Ontario’s productivity lags behind that of the United States, as does business investment. The province’s cost competitiveness has eroded. What the budget didn’t mention is that energy costs are soaring. Programs also are rising for such items as seniors’ drugs (up 5.4 per cent) and public-sector pensions (most public-sector employees have defined benefit plans, whereas private-sector employees don’t). Then there are provincial arbitrators who pay no attention to a government’s ability to pay, thereby driving up costs (see police, for example) by looking only at other settlements.

Premier Kathleen Wynne’s government was in the tightest of spots, not a place from which to talk about difficult stuff such as the buildup of debt. Her Liberal government finds itself between Conservatives, who hound it with demands for an election, and New Democrats, who play an annual game of political extortion with their list of demands.

It’s a terrible way to run a legislature, let alone a government, but that’s the way the opposition parties wish to play their hands. So the Liberals seek what they call a “balanced approach” between Conservatives who want bigger cuts in public spending and New Democrats who instinctively want to spend lots more, with the money coming from the business sector and the better off.

With the size of the Ontario economy, when it either goes spiralling into a recession or the painful cuts are made, it is going to impact us all. 

The Premier’s Office Strikes Again (this time in Ontario)

So much for empowering your cabinet and MLAs

Ontario’s governing Liberals don’t just have a new leader, they’re also speaking a whole new language.

The cabinet office is circulating “style tips” to bureaucrats with “preferred” phrases and language the new government has been using since Premier Kathleen Wynne took office.

And by the way, it’s “the new Ontario government,” not “the Wynne government.”

The memo includes a litany of catch-phrases Wynne has used since she became Liberal leader, including her ubiquitous: “We must engage in a respectful dialogue/conversation.”

The premier’s proclivity for the word “conversation” has become so pervasive that NDP Leader Andrea Horwath’s favourite comeback is “there needs to be a little less conversation and a little more action.”

The style and tone of the new government includes a “can-do attitude” and “rousing enthusiasm,” according to the memo obtained by The Canadian Press.

Speeches should incorporate about 10 per cent of French, “personal anecdotes/stories (i.e. family history)” and the use of “active language — bold and direct.”

The government “likes to wrap speeches with ‘thank you and meegwetch” — or “thank you” in Algonquin _ something Wynne has been doing since she became the Liberal leader.

Other recurring phrases include “I’d like to acknowledge that we are on the traditional territory of xxxx (at the start of most speeches)” — another sentence the premier uses frequently.

Do not forget: the preferred style includes short sentences and “limited use of contractions.”

Some bureaucrats are asking their staff to incorporate the language in both internal and external communications, including emails and correspondence to ministers.

I miss governments with strong ministers and MLAs.  We elect them and not the Premier’s Office.