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Don’t Like Congestion? Then Pay for It

by Cornelius Christian

Toronto was recently ranked the sixth worst city for commuting in the world. A typical GTA resident spends 1.5 hours travelling to and from work. When politicians are asked about this sorry state of affairs, responses range from Doug Ford’s call for more subway lines, to Jagmeet Singh’s appeal to encourage bicycling.

While these suggestions are good, a better one exists: make people pay for congestion.

What this means, in practice, is that those who drive in central Toronto would pay a flat fee, per day, of $10. The money collected from the fee can then be used to subsidize public transit. This simple policy would greatly reduce road traffic, since many would just opt out of driving.

The Value of Freedom

by Catherine Swift

This past week we celebrated both Canada Day and US Independence Day, so it seems like a great opportunity to reflect upon the essential value of freedom in our society. We have been so blessed with a relatively free society in Canada since the nation’s birth that many Canadians have come to take this precious value for granted. We do so at our peril.

I am a Shoe Smuggler

by Brock Dickinson

I have a confession to make. I have been wrestling with the wise guidance and insights of U.S. President Donald Trump, for – as it turns out – I am a shoe smuggler.
For those of you who have been hiding out in the witness protection program, and may have missed the news, the President has once again Made America Great by commenting on trade with Canada. “The tariffs to get common items back into Canada are so high that they have to smuggle ‘em in,” said the President recently. “They buy shoes, then they wear them. They scuff ‘em up. They make them sound old or look old. No, we’re treated horribly.”

Three of Niagara’s four provincial ridings elected NDP members of provincial parliament Thursday night. How will they fare when it comes to focusing Ontario’s new Progressive Conservative government on Niagara’s most pressing issues? If you said “not well,” you’re probably right. The good news is there’s something you can do to improve Niagara’s chances at seeing some provincial love over the next four years.

The lone government member of provincial parliament from Niagara is Sam Oosterhoff in Niagara West. As the youngest, though no longer least experienced, MPP in Ontario, can he deliver any of the region’s goals? It’s going to be tough.

Given the run up to this election and the weirdness from each of the three main Party campaigns, I’d venture to say that there has not been an election this strange since the “Dooms Day Election” of 1917, when then Prime Minister Borden- fighting against Wilfrid Laurier tried to create a win by introducing the strangest of legislative initiatives. It backfired.

Sound familiar? In a sense, the Wynne Government took great pains to move the government so far to left with legislative and policies decisions that long-time Liberals scratched their heads wondering if this was really the Liberal Party anymore. The Budget in 2018 was likely the last straw for Wynne’s government, notwithstanding that her popularity had taken the biggest hit in polling history – the lowest at 12% – the promise of a balanced Budget was thrown to the curb so that the science experiment created by Wynne and her brain-trust to control the left of the political spectrum would pay dividends – they thought.

How Low can the Left Go?

by Catherine Swift

Following the ebb and flow of the Ontario election has once again reminded me of the extreme tactics typically used by the left to try to promote the election or policy outcome they favour. Of course all manner of promises and warnings are made by all parts of the political spectrum on a regular basis, and especially at election time. But the left does have a unique and odious tendency to get down and dirty with their commentary, resorting to personal attacks and threats as means of supposedly advancing their position.

False Advertising Ramps Up in Ontario Election

by Catherine Swift

Now that we are in the last week before the Ontario election the race appears to be neck-and-neck between the Progressive Conservatives and the NDP. As the pressure builds, the NDP has responded by making up more and more tall tales about what the PCs will supposedly do if they win the election. Some of the more recent ads include accusations that the PCs will close dozens of hospitals, fire thousands of nurses etc. Where these numbers come from is a mystery, but what can be certain is that they are absolutely false and completely invented by the NDP.
Every election has its share of political parties stretching the truth about their opponents, but in our current era of social media and internet bombardment of the voting public, it raises the question of whether we need a whole new way of overseeing elections to provide some means of limiting the ability of any political party or other entities involved in election advertising and partisan activities to promote bald-faced lies.

It sucks to have to root for Justin Trudeau.

But now that his ego has written a $4.5-billion cheque that the rest of us are going to have to cash, what else can we do? On Wednesday, Trudeau’s finance minister Bill Morneau and natural resources minister Jim Carr were trotted out to announce that the federal government is solving the Trans Mountain pipeline impasse by buying the entire project from Kinder Morgan. The government is also providing loan guarantees to ensure pipeline construction gets underway this year.

Open For…. Sanctuary?

by Chris Sagir

Progressive Conservative (PC) leader Doug Ford has campaigned vigorously on his “Ontario – Open for Business” policies.  Andrea Horwath of the New Democratic Party (NDP) on the other hand has largely campaigned on higher taxes for the “rich” and expanded “free” government services.  This is all predictable, but recently Horwath has promised to make Ontario a “Sanctuary” province.  A deeply disturbing policy, that one could say even borders on insanity, would among other things, provide free health care and welfare services to illegal immigrants.

In the NDP universe where there are limitless resources, the sky is coloured by rainbows and unicorn sightings are frequent, making Ontario a “Sanctuary” province is also thought to be good government policy. Let us examine some evidence we have about how this type of policy will affect and disrespect all taxpayers and legal immigrants.

The Problem with Unions

by Catherine Swift

There was a time when labour unions actually did care about all workers and advocated policies that were geared to give average people bargaining power in the workplace. Those days are long gone. Although today’s unions still claim to be the voice of the average worker, they have instead become merely another self-interested lobby group that is all about lining their own pockets at the expense of others. There is of course nothing wrong with any group advocating for their own interests in a free society, but all such groups should be on a level playing field to do so. Yet unions in Canada have a highly privileged status not enjoyed by other interest groups or even by unions anywhere else in the developed world. Therein lies the problem.

Flirting with Disaster

by Catherine Swift

As we get closer to the June 7 Ontario election date, it seems this contest has become a showdown between the Ontario Progressive Conservatives and the Ontario NDP. It appears that the collapse of the Ontario Liberals can hardly get any worse, as recent information suggests they may only hang on to a couple of seats in the newly expanded 124-seat legislature. If current trends hold, the Liberals could fall below eight seats and as such they would lose official party status and all of the resources that come with it. As a final indignity, it appears that leader Kathleen Wynne stands to lose her own seat.
That the Ontario Liberals were highly unpopular has been known for some time, so the only surprising thing about this is the extreme extent of the Liberal’s demise. What is surprising, however, is that the NDP is giving the Conservatives a run for their money. Part of the Liberal success for the last 15 years has been that they moved to the left of the NDP and grabbed a good chunk of traditional NDP voters, so it is only natural that as the Liberal brand weakened many of these votes would shift back to their traditional roots. But polls indicate that NDP support is well above historical levels at present and has not merely regained what it lost to the Liberals in recent years.

Electricity concerns have been major political issues in Ontario over the entire course of the McGuinty/Wynne Liberal governments starting in 2003. Judged by their platforms, their 15-year sojourn on the opposition benches has been too brief for the PCs and NDP to develop credible options for disgruntled electricity voters.

For this election, the Ontario Liberals have hitched their wagon to their Fair Hydro Plan. It provides temporary rate relief for residential customers — high and low-income alike — through government borrowing. The Fair Hydro Plan has attracted a storm of criticism from the Auditor General and the legislature’s Financial Accountability Officer.

A Modest Proposal for Hydro One

by Brock Dickinson

It’s spring, and the only thing popping up faster than the dandelions are the provincial election signs. And just as April showers bring May flowers, election signs are often a prelude to poorly-thought-out pronouncements and vague “plans” that melt away under closer scrutiny. This year, part of the springtime fun will focus on Hydro One.

As someone who works in economic development, I see how electricity costs are hurting us in Ontario. I do a lot of work for clients in New York and in Michigan, and when luring companies to their states – including companies from Ontario – they routinely play the power card. The fact of the matter is that power costs are extremely high in Ontario, and they’re getting higher. This hurts our competitiveness, it hurts our businesses, and it hurts every homeowner in Ontario.

Ontario’s Police Act is offensive

by Mark Towhey

Cst. James Forcillo remains a police officer – even while serving a 6-year prison sentence.

Whoever forms the Ontario government after June’s election, one of their priorities should be immediate and wholesale reform of the laws that govern policing in this province. As evidence of its abject uselessness, I give you the case of Toronto Police Constable James Forcillo.

Forcillo was tried and convicted in the 2013 killing of 18-year old Sammy Yatim on a Toronto streetcar. Forcillo was convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to six years in federal prison. He appealed. This week, his appeal was denied. He’s now a federal inmate serving a six-year sentence. He’s also still officially a constable in the Toronto Police Service until and unless an internal disciplinary tribunal decides his actions were “discreditable.”

Liberal Gun Bill: all smoke & paper

by Mark Towhey

In late March, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau introduced new legislation to clamp down on law-abiding citizens who use firearms at work, on their farms, to feed their families, to compete at the Olympics and for recreational shooting. These new measures severely limit personal freedoms and will cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars. Not a single, solitary soul will be safer as a result.
Why now? Well, because Trudeau wanted to distract your attention from his tickle trunk full of culturally inappropriate dress-up costumes and the fact he and a number of his ministers like to hang out with convicted terrorists. That is, when they’re not accusing key allies of criminal mischief to malign their government.

The Niagara Region has invested in the arts over the last few years, and programs like Jarico Films for Youth have really benefitted because of it.

Jarico Films has been working to offer the youth of the region a hands-on learning experience while working within the film industry.

“A lot of schools already have really good drama programs, and some schools have really credible video production programs but they only go so far and teach so much,” said Jason Lupish director of the program. “I think what we offer is sort of an extension of what can be offered in schools.”

Thursday morning, a major collision closed all eastbound lanes of Highway 401 near Winston Churchill around for over four hours. There were no major injuries but, in the hours the highway was closed, a massive traffic jam formed and it, in turn, caused an even worse smash-up. The secondary accident critically injured more drivers and took another three and half hours to clear. But, that wasn’t the end of it. A number of other crashes occurred all along the 401 as the lengthy closures and traffic jams caused traffic chaos everywhere.
Highway accidents and the lengthy road closures that follow them put additional lives at risk and cost Ontario’s economy billions of dollars every year. People are hurt in secondary accidents caused by road closures. Ambulances and emergency services are delayed en route to unrelated emergencies and while transporting critically-ill patients to hospital.

With 9 weeks to go until the June 7 provincial election, Ontario’s Progressive Conservative Party, under newly-minted leader Doug Ford, is far ahead of the governing Liberals in every major opinion poll. The big question is: can he maintain the lead? Or, will he become just another PC leader – in a long line of PC leaders – to bungle the campaign in the eleventh hour?

The answer to that, depends largely on the answer to this: Does Ford know why he’s winning? If not, the Tories’ prospects are bleaker than they appear.

 

Foreign Influence in Canadian Elections is Alarming

by Senator Linda Frum

It is a fundamental tenant of Canadian democracy that Canada’s electoral process belongs to the Canadian people and only to the Canadian people.  Nothing is more central to preserving the integrity and legitimacy of Canadian elections than ensuring that no outside influence is involved.  I imagine most Canadians trust that foreign influence is illegal in Canadian elections.  And yet, alarmingly, it is not.

Due to the lax rules surrounding third party election activity in Canada, foreign entities can contribute unlimited amounts of money via Canadian third parties for the purpose of attempting to influence the outcome of our elections (Third parties are groups that register to advocate for or against a political agenda).

Thursday March 21, 2018 was World Water Day. The intent and focus of such an occasion, I would assume, is to create awareness about the value of water. What are most people in the region doing to honour is auspicious occasion? For the vast majority – nothing. In fact, I’d reckon few knew of the event or even cared.

I submit, we should care…and more now than ever.  Water sustains life. It’s said that people can live without food for long periods of time but living without water – even for short periods of time – is as fatal as trying to survive without fresh air.

Forster’s Thoughts on the Throne Speech

by Cindy Forster

Looking at the state of affairs of the Liberal government these days, it’s no wonder people are jaded by politicians.

On the one hand we have a Liberal government proroguing government, making empty promises to dodge a failed 15 year record and on the other hand, a Conservative party embroiled in turmoil, barely fit to manage their own, let alone govern.

Meanwhile, families continue struggling. Every day I get emails, calls and office visits from our community. With the Welland Hospital on the chopping block of Liberal government cuts, skyrocketing hydro bills, ongoing cuts to seniors services in our community, cuts to healthcare services and all levels of our education system, we’re at a cross roads.