Saturday, September 29, 2007


Clarence Thomas’ autobiography sounds like a corker

The Washington Post got its hands on US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ memoir, My Grandfather’s Son, which goes on sale Monday. (No doubt Indigo will display it as prominently as the Clintons’ doorstops.)

Thomas is appearing on “60 Minutes” Sunday night, and on Rush Limbaugh’s syndicated radio show Monday (noon to 3:00 p.m. Eastern). You can hear a live stream courtesy of Detroit radio station WJR. From the Post’s preview:

After the death of his grandfather and grandmother in 1983 and with his first marriage on the rocks, Thomas says he had a fleeting thought of suicide. “I’d actually reached the point where I wondered whether there was any reason for me to go on,” he writes. “The mad thought of taking my own life fleetingly crossed my mind. Of course, I didn’t consider it seriously, if only because I knew I couldn’t abandon [my son] Jamal as I had been abandoned by C,” which is how he refers to his father, M.C. Thomas.

Racial imagery abounds in “My Grandfather’s Son,” a continuation of his description of the Senate hearings as a “high-tech lynching.”

“As a child in the Deep South, I’d grown up fearing the lynch mobs of the Ku Klux Klan; as an adult, I was starting to wonder if I’d been afraid of the wrong white people all along,” he writes. “My worst fears had come to pass not in Georgia, but in Washington, D.C., where I was being pursued not by bigots in white robes but by left-wing zealots draped in flowing sanctimony.”

Thomas writes that he did not watch Hill’s televised testimony against him at his Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, and so he does not respond in detail to her charges except to call them lies. He describes Hill as “touchy and apt to overreact” and says: “If I or anyone else had done the slightest thing to offend her, she would have complained loudly and instantly, not waited for a decade to make her displeasure known.”

He writes that Hill did a “mediocre” job at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, where he was chairman, and misrepresented herself at the time of the hearings as a “devoutly religious Reagan-administration employee.” “In fact, she was a left-winger who’d never expressed any religious sentiments” and had a job in the administration “because I’d given it to her.”

*“Whoop-dee-damn-doo” was Thomas’ private reaction to the 52-48 Senate vote to confirm his appointment, after bruising confirmation hearings that he famously described as a “high-tech lynching.”

The outlier poll?

Is McGuinty going to lose only 2% of the votes he got last time? I doubt it

A few people seem to think that the provincial vote on October 10th is a forgone conclusion, based on a poll with a 3.5% margin of error that shows the McGuinty Fiberals have increased their support by . . . 3%, to 43%.

I find it hard to believe that the Fiberals are going to lose just 2% of the vote that they had in 2003, when they got 45%. This poll may well be the one in 20 poll results that is, er, wrong.

Ask yourselves this: what has Dalton McGuinty done in the last week that would result in a spike in support? Er, coldly brushing off a terminal cancer patient? Yeah, that was a real leadership moment.

When I saw that, I couldn’t help but think of how John Tory used to get the odd call at home from customers when he was Rogers Cable president, or how he spends an hour a day personally responding to e-mail.

McGuinty’s haughty “That’s not true” -- aimed at a cancer patient without McGuinty even breaking stride -- was staggering in its dismissiveness. Even poor Terri McGuinty was looking at her shoes. I bet Premier Pinocchio had to read her an extra poem in bed that night. (Full disclosure: I am helping out the PC campaign and several candidates.)

Finally, for those still in thrall to this poll, you might want to note that it also found that 74% of Conservative supporters say they are “absolutely certain” to vote on election day, compared to 68% of intended Liberal voters. Telegraphing to PC voters that they needn’t bother voting is a pretty good way to ensure that they won’t.

Footnote: This poll – and all election polling, for that matter – also provides an interesting lesson in one of the phenomena not addressed by MMP: people who don’t bother to vote because cocky pollsters and media outlets have told them how it’s all going to turn out before the fact.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Watson refuses to apologize for false smear on PC candidate Mike Patton

Claimed Patton wasn’t communications director in Nepean, Patton proves he was

Ottawa-area Liberal MPP and Minister of Finger Wagging Jim Watson is in trouble in his riding, so it’s not surprising that he came out last week with an attack on his PC challenger, Mike Patton. Watson claimed that Patton had misrepresented a position he had held with the City of Nepean on his campaign literature. The mayor of Nepean at the time, now a Watson supporter, told the Ottawa Citizen:

“It’s a false statement,” Ms. [Mary] Pitt said yesterday of Mr. Patton’s claim. “He was never, ever hired as director of corporate communications.” She said that Mr. Patton was retained on contract as a special consultant to fight amalgamation.

“He was terminated by council after a very short time. It did not last very long, it wasn’t working out,” she said.

Last week, Ms. Pitt, who has publicly endorsed Mr. Watson’s campaign, confirmed with the former chief administrative officer Robert Letourneau and the then-director of human resources, Grant Armstrong, that her recollections were correct, she said.

Mr. Watson said yesterday that Mr. Patton should correct the biography.

“It is obviously a serious offence to embellish one’s résumé. In this case, Mr. Patton and the PC party should correct the situation right away,”
the Liberal candidate said. Mr. Watson said that campaigning for office was like applying for a job, which requires a résumé to be 100-per-cent accurate.

“Otherwise, it’s not fair to the employer,” he said.

Patton has now produced unbiased evidence that he held the position. As the Citizen reports today:

One of Mr. Patton’s volunteers found a Nepean Clarion article on microfiche that highlights the hiring and appointment to the position, replacing the outdoing director, Andrea McCormick, Mr. Patton said in a statement.

Nepean’s then-mayor Mary Pitt has supported Mr. Watson’s claim, saying Mr. Patton was hired on contract as a special consultant to fight amalgamation and was shortly thereafter “terminated” by council.

“I remember, as if it was yesterday, Mary Pitt ... offering me the position of director of corporate communications, and accepting the job on a contract basis,” Mr. Patton said.

“If her memories of the event are less clear than mine, perhaps it’s because it wasn’t as important to her as it was me.”

Ms. Pitt has publicly endorsed Mr. Watson.

Mr. Patton claims his rival has fought an ugly campaign, adding his supporters have felt harassed and intimidated by Mr. Watson when he appeared at their doors.

“I was extremely hurt by these allegations because my word and my integrity mean everything to me,” he said.

Despite this evidence, Watson refuses to apologize for his smear against Patton.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

McGuinty hits iceberg named Kwinter

Liberal cabmin says he would be a “hypocrite” to say that he is against faith funding after he supported it

Today, Globe and Mail Queen’s Park columnist Murray Campbell discusses the McGuinty campaign’s blasé attitude in the face of stagnant polls:

Dalton McGuinty’s suggestion yesterday that he’s comfortable with voters handing him a minority government is interesting enough. But the Liberal Leader’s admission that he has no intention of changing his campaign style in the face of such a verdict is astonishing.

It’s another indication that the Liberals are, in effect, navigating without instruments in the Ontario election campaign by ignoring the unpopularity of their leader.

This is an uncomfortable truth for the Liberal Leader’s loyal coterie, but the fact is that he is disliked by lots of people who voted for him last time. Perhaps it’s his health tax, perhaps it’s the way he comes across on television, but it’s undeniable.

Mike Harris was widely disliked, too, but he had a reputation for doing what he said he would do and he won a second mandate. Mr. McGuinty’s record means that many voters simply don’t believe him when he makes pledges for the next four years. And yet the Liberals have put him front and centre in this campaign. He alone is featured in party ads and his cabinet team, which is as strong as they come, is rarely called upon for support.

Campbell finishes off by saying, “Unless he finds a second gear for his campaign, Mr. McGuinty could be encountering that iceberg on his own.”

That iceberg may have come in the guise of long-time Toronto Liberal MPP and community safety minister Monte Kwinter, who has reiterated his support for funding faith-based schools. Kwinter was quoted yesterday in the North York Mirror:

…Kwinter was the only member of the Liberal caucus to vote with the last conservative government for a tax credit for faith-based schools. “Constituents in my riding supported it, and I’m their representative so I supported it,” he said. “Certainly I would be a hypocrite to say that suddenly I don’t think that it’s something that should be done.” Kwinter noted he has six grandchildren in faith-based schools.

Kwinter’s words are exceedingly careful, but they are analogous to PC MPP Bill Murdoch’s statement earlier this week that, based on his constituents views, he could not vote for faith funding at this time. Over to you, Premier Pinocchio.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Antiques, real and virtual

This is funny on so many levels:

“Appearing at the St. Lawrence Antique Market, [George] Smitherman said . . . .”
--Liberal campaign health care release, today

Whether it’s antique Liberal ideology on health care, or an older gay gentleman at an antique show, never let it be said that Fiberal foghorn George Smitherman is afraid of looking like a stereotype.

And by the by, Smitherman is the health minister who gave the green light to two privately financed and built hospital projects in Ottawa and Brampton.

And John Tory's war room has quickly put out a release, quoting an Ontario government health official:


(Toronto, ON) – Dalton McGuinty and George Smitherman aren’t being honest when they say that allowing private facilities to provide publicly funded, single-tier health care is a bad thing for patients.

Fortunately, there’s John Leatherby of Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, who offers an honest assessment of the situation in this article from the Halifax Daily News:

“Other provinces - Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta, for example - have been paying private centres to do day surgeries and diagnostic tests for years.

“Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care spokesman John Leatherby says using private clinics for simple procedures lets hospitals spend their operating-room time on more complex surgeries. That way, a hospital OR is used only for the surgeries that need the full emergency capabilities the hospital can provide.

“Does that mean it's any cheaper? Or faster?

“Leatherby says it's hard to tell. The newly opened Kensington Eye Institute, which does only cataract surgeries, has a faster turnaround time than hospitals, but isn't cheaper. Ontario pays private MRI operators less than it pays for the same service in hospitals, but Leatherby can't say how much. Diagnostic radiology, however, costs seven per cent more in a private facility than in a hospital.

“Ontario has never studied the cost of doing surgeries outside a hospital instead of in it. Leatherby says that's not the point.

“‘It allows simple surgical services to be moved outside hospital to community-based facilities, providing easier access for the patient, closer to home,’ Leatherby says.” (July 23, 2006)

Dalton McGuinty and George Smitherman will say anything to win this election – even if it means denying their own record.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

What did I tell you? McGuinty loses debate, ads go more negative

As I predicted below, Dalton McGuinty’s poor debate performance would lead to Liberal ads turning more negative.

I’ve just seen a new ad on Global TV, from McGuinty proxy group “Working Families.” It is a harsh attack ad, comparing John Tory to Mike Harris. It’s not even up on their website yet.

This is at odds with Greg Sorbara’s claim yesterday that McGuinty is on track for another majority. As they say on Saturday Night Live’s “Weekend Update,” Really?!! And, as Liberal warhorse Gerry Phillips likes to say, "listen to what they say, but watch what they do."

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Liberals didn’t lower expectations enough

Look for McGuinty’s ads to turn more negative – soon

Wow. I just watched the Ontario leaders’ debate, and Dalton McGuinty came off even worse than the carefully-lowered expectations set by his spinners. He was defensive, shrill, and looked like he was about to cry most of the time. He frequently “turtled” – looked down at his own chest to avoid the gaze of his opponents and the cameras. Even in the post-debate newser, McGuinty was nervous. It was not his night.

John Wright of Ipsos-Reid was on CP24 for the post-mortem, and all but said John Tory won the debate, though he may have gone over the top near the end. If Tory came off that way, it was primarily because McGuinty looked so weak and kept backing away from debating him. Wright also commended Tory for using his post-debate newser to keep driving his campaign messages.

Of course, much will depend on how the media spins the night, but I don’t see how McGuinty can salvage much from this. If they drop below the 40% poll figure they’ve managed to sustain thus far, they will start running ads that are more overtly negative than McGuinty’s current passive-aggressive sermons. When that happens, they will cede the moral high ground they’ve claimed for themselves. Then the real descent will begin.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Miller Days: city workers get paid, but don’t have to deal with annoying citizens

About a month ago someone suggested to Toronto mayor David Miller that he could help Toronto’s budget problems by instituting the equivalent of Rae Days – forced, unpaid vacation days for city staff, to reduce payroll costs. Miller scoffed at the idea.

But with his brilliant scheme to shut down community centres one day a week, Miller has managed to implement something worse. Community centre staff still get paid for working Mondays, and have to show up, but they lock the doors behind them. These staff are all members of the Miller-boosting Canadian Union of Public Employees. The “savings” in shutting the centres down comes from laying off part-time staff who provide programs on Mondays.

Update @ 10:45 a.m. Thursday: Miller is having a newser where he has just announced that the centres will be open Mondays for activities that are run by outside groups.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Glass Houses

McGuinty’s mouthpiece has stones, and should be careful where he throws them

Former journalist and failed by-election candidate Ben Chin called in to CITY-TV’s lunchtime news show today to attack Toronto councillor David Shiner. Shiner appeared on the call-in segment to discuss David Miller’s failed attempt to hike taxes and subsequent slashing of services (a politically dumb gambit aimed at punishing the councillors who opposed his tax hikes, but puts zero pressure on the province – but never mind).

Chin’s beef seemed to be that Shiner is a candidate for Ontario PC leader John Tory (in the Willowdale riding) in the October 10th provincial election while continuing to do his job as a city councillor. Shiner wore a tiny “PC” lapel pin during his appearance, but did not – that I saw – mention his candidacy.

A brief scan of the Liberals’ MPP and candidate list, however, reveals a tidy handful of Liberals who held municipal or school board positions while running on Premier Pinocchio’s slate in 2003:

Kathleen Wynne
Donna Cansfield
Wayne Arthurs
Brad Duguid
Lorenzo Berardinetti
Bill Mauro
Mario Racco

Oh, and what about McGuinty’s current “star” candidate in Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock, Rick Johnson? Johnson is the current vice chair of the Trillium Lakelands District school board, and president of the Ontario Public School Boards Association. How’s he managing to cover those duties while on the campaign trail?

A final note on the low-profile Mario Racco, who ran several times for federal and provincial nominations while a Vaughan city councillor. His behaviour in 1994 was particularly egregious: Racco ran for re-election to Vaughan council in the 1994 municipal election, while simultaneously running for the provincial Liberal nomination in York Centre. He was re-elected to council in November, then continued to run for the nomination that was scheduled for December. He lost the nomination to Mario Ferri, who lost in the general election to Al Palladini (who I worked for when he was Mike Harris’ transportation minister).

Update: According to today's release from the Fiberal campaign, Rick Johnson has resigned as head of the Ontario Public School Boards' Association, a post to which he was acclaimed just three months ago (er, thanks for all your hard work!). Oddly, the OPSBA's website does not mention his resignation.

“Here Charlie Brown, I’ll hold the football, and you come running and kick it!”

McGuinty hoping voters will be fooled again by another no-tax hike pledge

Four years to the day after he signed a pledge not to raise taxes, Premier Dalton McGuinty is promising the same thing again.

“We won’t have to increase taxes on a go-forward basis,” he said while campaigning for the Oct. 10 election today at an Ottawa elementary school.
--Toronto Star online, today

Monday, September 10, 2007

Check me out -- please -- at TVO’s Ontario election blog

I have been asked by the Ontario PCs to represent the John Tory campaign on the “Election Battle Blog” hosted by TV Ontario’s “The Agenda.”

I understand the first postings will appear sometime today, with bloggers from the PC, Liberal, NDP and Green parties answering the question: “What do you think will be the most important issue of the 2007 Ontario election campaign?” Members of the public will be able to comment on the posts (free registration required).

Friday, September 07, 2007

Union ad suggests McGuinty responsible for 1993 hospital expansion

What did Fiberals have to do with Sick Kids’ atrium? Er, nothing.

Well, if this doesn’t prove that the so-called Working Families Coalition are puppets of the McGuinty Fiberals, I don’t know what does.

The coalition’s health commercial includes a photo of the Hospital for Sick Children’s Atrium, the hospital's last major expansion. While it is on screen, the meat puppet reads the line: “local hospitals are expanding” or words to that effect (for some reason, the ad scripts are no longer up at the coalition’s website).

Unfortunately for Premier Pinocchio and his union Geppettos, the Atrium was opened 14 years ago, in 1993, when McGuinty was a rookie opposition MPP.

So-called Liberal platform: $14.7 billion. McGuinty’s signature? Worthless.

How odd that the McGuinty Fiberals have chosen to use Premier Pinocchio’s signature throughout their so-called platform, released yesterday. McGuinty’s scribble is featured on the document’s cover, and twice again inside.

Next Tuesday, September 11th, Ontarians will be reminded of another occasion on which McGuinty put pen to paper and made a written promise, precisely four years prior. That time, it was a promise to abide by the Taxpayer Protection Act, and hold a referendum on any tax increases. As we all know, his excuse for breaking his promise was that the budget was not balanced, but for the next five months, right up to three weeks prior to his first budget, McGuinty continued to promise that he would not raise taxes.

It is interesting to read the various endorsements throughout the so-called platform, the first of which is from Michael Fullan, McGuinty’s education adviser (page 6). Ontario public accounts for 2005-06 show a payment to Michael Fullan Enterprises Inc. via the Ministry of Education, in the sum of $58,915 (page 86).

Another endorsement is from the late author June Callwood, who is not billed as “late” in her quote. Dead men tell no tales, as they say. But they can endorse Fiberal election flyers, apparently.

As some media and PC leader John Tory have already noted, the release of McGuinty’s so-called platform was also the occasion of yet another broken promise, this time McGuinty’s promise to review his health tax.

He now says he will review it but not repeal it (er, what’s the point of the review, then?), saying he needs “every single penny.”

As they say on Saturday Night Live’s “Weekend Update”: Really?!

Really?! He needs every single penny, but he gave $219,000 to his pal’s advertising agency to change Ontario’s logo?

Really?! He needs every single penny, but he spent $6,000,000 to remove the “C” from OLGC?

Really?! He needs every single penny, but he gave $32 million to Liberal-friendly groups, without proper documentation, giving at least one of the groups six times more than they asked for?

Really?! He needs every single penny, but at the end of the 2006 and 2007 fiscal years, he shovelled $1.6 billion and $1.1 billion respectively out the door at the last minute?


Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Fiberals fib again

McGuinty barred PC staff from his news conferences when he was opposition leader

Here’s the whopper du jour from Premier Pinocchio’s war room:

He [Liberal campaign spokesman Ben Chin] said the political parties have had an agreement for at least a decade to allow volunteers from the opposing parties to trail their rival leaders, documenting their speeches and public appearances.
--Ottawa Citizen, today

Actually, when McGuinty was opposition leader, he barred PC staffers from news conferences and other events he held in Liberal premises at Queen’s Park, such as his office. I believe the policy started after the 1999 election, went on for several years and was known to the Queen’s Park press gallery. I know because I worked for the PC caucus at the time. I believe it was resolved when the Premier’s Office was forced to bar the Liberals in retaliation. Of course, the Liberals pretended that we were the ones who initiated the whole drama.

I’m guessing McGuinty’s greyer henchpeople didn’t inform the guileless Ben Chin about this little bit of history. You have to feel for a man who’s being sent out to lie to the media.

Adding to the fun of this campaign are Dalton McGuinty’s many “vintage” whoppers – or should that be “Whoppers Classic” – i.e., the promises he made last time and hasn’t kept. The Ontario PCs are issuing regular releases highlighting various broken promises from McGuinty’s last election outing. Here’s today’s:

September 5, 2003: Dalton McGuinty makes another promise to the people of Ontario

“Ontario Liberals will introduce a hard cap of 20 students per class, in every classroom in the province during the critical first five years of a child's education.”

As of today, 35% of classrooms covered by Dalton McGuinty's promise have more than twenty-students in them.

You can receive news releases directly to your e-mail by signing up for Canada Newswire’s “Portfolio e-mail” at and subscribing to “John Tory 2007 Campaign” (you can also sign up for the other campaigns’ releases).