Wednesday, April 21, 2021

It's Increasingly Looking Like the Green Party of Ontario Needs to Start Talking About New Leadership

Here are the latest polling results from Abacus regarding voter intentions in Ontario. As with other polls from earlier this week, it's not a surprise to see PC support starting to slip - and I think it's fair to say that we'll continue to see slippage going into next week, given the absolute disastrous performance of Ford's government just since Friday at 4:00 PM.

From: Abacus Data - April 21, 2021

But there's another story developing here that I think needs to be examined by Green Party supporters - and that's the complete stagnation of the Green Party of Ontario. The GPO received a little less than 5% of the popular vote in 2018. Most polls are showing Greens somewhere between 5% and 10% - but you've got to keep in mind, Green Parties throughout Canada always over-perform in the polls and under-perform at the ballot box. So when you see 10%, take it with a grain of salt, as our supporters just don't show up at the ballot box.

Green Party hasn't been the only party to experience flat-lined support since the 2018 provincial election. There has been very little movement among any of the parties - up until now. This is the time that we should start to see the Green Party moving up in polling numbers, if it's message was resonating even a little bit with voters. But, so far, nothing.

If Greens can't figure out a way to capitalize on this moment, I don't think they can avoid the conversation for much longer - not if Greens want to elect enough MPP's in 2022 to be recognized as an Official Party at Queen's Park. If what they're doing and saying are good things - but they are still not resonating with the voting public - I think it's time that we conclude that new leadership is probably warranted.

I'm a big supporter of Green Party of Ontario leader Mike Schreiner. I think he's done a very good job putting the Green Party on the map and keeping it as relevant as can be throughout these difficult times, when the pandemic has really sidelined many non-government elected officials (Andrea Horwath has almost completely disappeared from the public eye). But it may be Mike has taken the Green Party as far as he can, and if the Party is going to have any hope of growing, it will need to be under new leadership.

I hope I'm wrong about this - I really do hope to see Green numbers start to rise in the polls over the next couple of weeks, coincident with the governing party's loss of popularity. But if we don't - it remains in the realm of possibility that the Green Party can put itself back on track with new leadership in place before the June 2022 election.

It's a conversation Greens need to start having.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Will Erin O'Toole Survive Impending Conservative Backlash to His Big Business-Friendly Carbon Scheme?

Re: "Conservatives' climate plan would replace Liberal carbon tax with lower levy of their own," CBC, April 15, 2021.

I don't agree with the characterization of this scheme as being a "carbon tax" - it seems to be a different form of Carbon Fee & Dividend to me (and the Supreme Court tells me and others that Carbon Fee & Dividend is not a tax, so....)

Conservative Party leader Erin O'Toole (Facebook)

There is some small merit to this approach, once you look past the reduction in the carbon fee and the crony capitalism of working with big business and how this will punish local businesses (once again) in preference to multinationals like WalMart, etc. Arguably, requiring the dividend to be spent on low-carbon purchases only will create greater efficiency - so you get more carbon reduction bang for your buck.

But it's hard to overlook all of the rest.

Not to worry, though - his own Party is going to eat him alive over this. Caucus, candidates, Party members and supporters, along with Conservative media pundits will almost certainly characterize this as a "Carbon Tax" - and as a (yet another) betrayal of so-called "Conservative Values" by O'Toole.  This platform plank won't see the light of day come election time (which is why the trial balloon is up now).  It just won't survive the backlash.

My question is, can O'Toole survive as leader of his own Party?

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Elected Right-Wing Extremists Challenge Public Health Measures in Alberta

An interesting dynamic is at play in Alberta - one that I hope we don't see here in Ontario (and don't expect that we will). Despite the endless scandals and incredible mis-steps, until now Premier Jason Kenney has ruled over his United Conservative Party with an iron fist. But after finally implementing public health measures commensurate with the requirements of getting out in front of the COVID-19 pandemic, a quarter of his caucus (16 MLA's) are now in open rebellion against his government, claiming the measures are too strict and demanding they be reversed, perhaps on a regional basis.

Jason Kenney. Source: Calgary Herald

Here in Ontario, Premier Ford quickly (like within the hour quickly) threw out a member of his team (MPP Roman Baber) at the first sign of questioning Ford's public health decisions. Kenney isn't likely to take this step, as he is aware that his United Conservative Party is a coalition between traditional Conservatives (like himself) and Alberta's own brand of right-wing extremists in the form of former Wild Rose Party (a.k.a. "Lake of Fire") MLA's, who seem to treat the existence of science, evidence and fact with contempt and disdain.
Now, all of the 16 MLA's that signed the open letter against Kenney are backbenchers, at least one was a member of Kenney's government up until she was caught and publicly exposed and derided for taking a vacation outside the country this past Christmastime. So it's not as if there aren't some "mainstream" (for Alberta) people involved here. And now that the forces that be have decided to take action against the anti-masker's symbolic Grace United Church (which keeps holding services despite public health measures that ought to have seen it shut down a long time ago), this rebellion could grow.
I fully expect Kenney to start caving in to the demands of the Profit over People crowd in his own caucus - maybe by developing some sort of regional framework similar to the one we tried here in Ontario for awhile that we proved DOES NOT WORK. Woe be to Albertans caught up in this right-wing political in-fighting - many of whom are putting their lives on the line just going to work or sending their kids to school.
Say what you want about the Ontario government's handling of the pandemic (and there is *a lot* that can and should be said), but at least they're not beholden to the king of right-wing extremists within their own caucus that Alberta has to deal with. That people with such extreme and marginal views can find themselves in positions of power is disconcerting to say the least. But our first-past-the-post electoral system that promotes a kind of tribalism at the ballot box is clearly responsible. All the extremists have to do in many ridings is win a nomination contest - as their Party's endorsement almost assures that they'll be elected, no questions asked. And that's another reason all levels of government need to start taking a look at proportional representation - to keep the extremists out.
So, Sudbury, we might find ourselves in the midst of a pretty lousy time right now - but it could be a lot worse.