Thursday, August 28, 2014

Rob Ford threatens John Tory’s lead

Given the way Toronto voters choose their representatives in provincial and federal elections, I’m surprised to find that the two centre/centre-right candidates are leading the nationally known left-wing candidate.

According to an Aug. 26 Forum Research public opinion poll, John Tory at 34% and Rob Ford at 31% lead the former Trinity-Spadina New Democrat MP Olivia Chow in the upcoming City of Toronto municipal election. Chow’s support is at 23%.

Karen Stintz recently dropped out of the mayoral contest, but there are others with total support of less than 10% that are still running in the race that will end Oct. 27. If the race had only the three main contenders, John Tory would take 36% to Rob Ford’s 31% and Chow, the only progressive candidate, would improve to 26% of the vote.

Surprisingly, Mayor Rob Ford has gained ground while Olivia Chow has fallen into third place. The crack cocaine scandal that made global headlines and the other stream of controversies that have dogged Ford’s term as mayor does not seem to be as big an issue as it was in the spring for, since then, he has passed Chow and narrowed the John Tory lead.

Mayor Rob Ford came to office in late 2010, and at that time many were surprised that he’d been chosen to lead arguable the most left-of-centre city in the nation—a city that had elected Barbara Hall and David Miller. So who’d have thought a hard-right fiscal conservative like Ford had even one chance in a million to be elected as mayor.

As I’ve said before, though, Ford had the right message, namely, “Toronto has a spending problem, not a revenue problem.” And remember his campaign, “Stop the Gravy Train!”?

Large numbers of voters agreed with him that Toronto politicians had lost respect for the city’s taxpayers and that there was too much wasteful spending at City Hall. And, in Ford’s view of the world, labour unions—who had pretty much called the shots for decades in Toronto’s municipal politics—would take a backseat to taxpayers and their families.

Ford’s campaign provided the right message at the right time—a powerful combination in any election. Moreover, it didn’t hurt that his chief competitor for mayor came in the form of a former member of Ontario’s spendthrift Liberal government.

Notwithstanding his election win, however, local media never did accept Ford as mayor. He was not, apparently, as sympathetic to the Gay and Lesbian community as they believed was appropriate. He was not as smooth socially as their would have liked, nor was he as sophisticated. So their anti-Ford media campaign continued unabated into his term as mayor.

Unfortunately for conservatives across the land—who welcomed the example that Ford’s fiscal responsibility set for all municipalities—he provided fodder enough to feed the voracious appetites of the Left’s media.

There was one silly, avoidable controversy after another: reading while driving on the highway; illegally chatting on his cell phone while driving; passing the rear door of a streetcar, while its front door was open; to name the less egregious. Then there was the crack cocaine scandal and videos of him in compromising situations saying inappropriate things using off-colour language, followed up with headline-grabbing TV appearances in the US to spread his disgrace across the globe.

To many, Mayor Ford became socially unacceptable even though he had done a great job of tempering the fiscal appetite of City Hall and had slowed down its tendency towards waste and an attitude that public service unions know best and should be catered to. For that, many saw him as a winner and felt grateful for his efforts.

Ford has the right ideas to be mayor, and he’ll walk the talk. He’s already demonstrated that. Unfortunately, he seems to suffer from a sort of mental block when it comes to implementing his ideas and, well, just acting mayoral. Furthermore, his offensive personal conduct has been far too egregious to be overlooked. Consequently, he has proven he’s the wrong man to be mayor of our largest city—even though he might still have the right ideas.

With Ford so close to the lead in the Oct. 27 race, I’m hoping soft supporters of Olivia Chow—assuming she is still in third place as voting day nears—will come to their senses and migrate their support to John Tory the only candidate representing the political centre and fiscal conservatism and one whose private and public life is not pockmarked by scandal and sleazy behaviour.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

ISIL spawn of the Arab Spring?

Some readers will remember, Brigette DePape, the Senate page who went rogue and protested the federal Speech from the Throne in June 2011.

She promptly issued a news release to explain her actions and told us that our country “needs a Canadian version of an Arab Spring,” which she described as “a flowering of popular movements that demonstrate that real power to change things lies not with Harper but in the hands of the people….”

I wonder how the clever lass and her New Democrat handlers now view the turmoil that is a legacy of the Arab Spring they claimed Canada needed?

The Syrian civil war death toll has risen to more than 191,000, according to a recent UN report. Violent rapes, kidnappings and executions have become everyday occurrences in the Middle East and North Africa. A Sunni-Salafist branch of Islam espoused by Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda is being used in the region to realize the long-held dream of Islamist militants of a rebirth of the Caliphate.

This new Caliphate—the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)—is more than just a new Muslim country. It is intended to eventually encompass every Muslim on earth and to exclude all who refuse to become Muslims. ISIS offers conversion or death—often by decapitation—to its conquered populations.

ISIL/ISIS, which now calls itself the Islamic State (IS), already controls significant portions of Syria and Iraq where there are Sunni-majorities. Its leaders are extremely anti-Western and promote religious violence against those, who do not agree with their interpretations, as infidels and apostates.

And one needs only to read about ISIL’s persecution and massacres of the Yazidi people of Iraq to understand the fate of infidels and apostates caught within the boundaries of the barbaric Islamist State.

By any reasonable measurement, IS is a common garden variety terrorist-criminal organization masquerading as religious zealots. It gives everything Muslim a bad name as it uses a grotesque distortion of that religion to further its criminal ends.

Many Muslims are speaking out against IS—though this did seem to take an unseemly amount of time to develop. What disappoints me, however, is the lack of noisy street protests we have grown to expect when Muslims have felt offended by some Western or Israeli act. And where are those on our university campuses who condemn Israel’s actions and advocate boycotts of that country’s products? Where are their placards and high-minded speeches?

Does IS’s barbarity not rise to the level that offends NDP and student leftists enough to offer vocal support for persecuted Shia Muslims, indigenous Assyrian, Chaldean, Syriac and Armenian Christians, Yazidis, Druze, Shabaks and Mandeans?

On the one hand, a few cartoons appeared in a Danish newspaper in 2005 and Muslim passions around the world and on Canadian university campuses were inflamed. Other drawings in 2007 had a similar effect. Such incidents have even led to riots and deaths.

On the other hand, rapes by the tens of dozens, murder by the hundreds and untold numbers of kidnappings and other atrocities and we are still awaiting the level of outrage a few drawings achieved.

Go figure.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Has Chow thrown Kinsella under the bus?

There is an expression—“throwing so-and-so under the bus,”—that was brought into sharp focus last week after Olivia Chow’s campaign operative, Warren Kinsella, seemed to suggest John Tory’s SmartTrack transit plan is racist.

Kinsella, apparently, questioned in a tweet (since deleted) whether Tory’s SmartTrack plan is “Segregationist.” Kinsella followed up the initial tweet with another that had a map with a picture of Tory superimposed on it. The map showed some Toronto neighbourhoods crossed out and a word bubble coming from Tory mouth saying: “You will note we were careful to exclude Jane/Finch and Rexdale from SmartTrack.” (These are neighbourhoods with large non-white populations.)

Not Warren Kinsella’s finest moment, but not exactly out of character for a political strategist with a well known take-no-prisoners campaign style who has self-described as being the “Prince of Darkness” of Canadian politics.

Some backhanded apologies followed with little that might suggest contriteness on Kinsella’s part, though, the Toronto Star reported that he made a more fulsome apology to Tory “directly and unreservedly.”

Dirty politics, admittedly, but pretty tame stuff really.

So does seasoned politician Olivia Chow own Kinsella’s words and, perhaps, brush off the tweets as backroom shenanigans that got out of control—boys will be boys, etc.? You know: show your team some basic loyalty?

No she does not. No acceptance of accountability at all. Yes, Chow admitted her campaign hired Kinsella’s company to do media monitoring, but stated that he doesn’t speak for her campaign and is just one of “thousands of volunteers.”

“My campaign did not make that statement. I’m glad that Mr. Kinsella apologized and retracted his statement and I certainly do not believe that Mr. Tory discriminates at all,” Chow reportedly said.

Yes, readers, Warren Kinsella—a nationally known political strategist and high-profile volunteer on her campaign—is, according to Olivia Chow, just one of her thousands of volunteers.

Having followed Toronto’s mayoral campaign for the past few months, I question that Kinsella sees himself as just one of thousands of volunteers. It seems to me far more probable that he is a senior member of Chow’s campaign “war room,” perhaps even it’s leader. So, this observer does not believe Chow has the luxury of  plausible deniability towards Kinsella’s words and actions as they apply to her campaign.

How fickle is Chow? One big slip by Kinsella and she kicks him under the bus. Trusted senior operative and war room insider one day, meaningless outsider the next. Oh brother!