ONTARIO LEGISLATIVE HIGHLIGHTS

June 30, 2017


WEEKLY ROUNDUP

BOOZE CRUISE — Last weekend was no doubt a tense one for people looking ahead to this weekend’s Canada Day festivities, what with the prospect of the LCBO stores being shuttered due to job action. But the last-minute scramble to get their libations for the long weekend proved to be for naught as the province’s sole distributor of liquor reached a tentative settlement with OPSEU and avoided the PR mess that would have been picket lines in front of closed stores as the country (and province, for that matter) geared up for sesquicentennial celebrations. While details are remaining under wraps until the deal can be ratified both by OPSEU members, LCBO management and the provincial government, the union negotiating team has unanimously endorsed the agreement. The OPSEU website, meanwhile, is now encouraging you to “Shop LCBO” to pay for highways, teachers, nurses and more. Although it must be noted clicking on the link still directs you to some of the harsh critiques lobbed at the LCBO during negotiations, including the Liqileaks campaign microsite that promises “The Real Story on the LCBO,” with details on the part-time work, low wages and job instability that OPSEU is seeking to address.

NOMINATION NIGHTMARES — PC Leader Patrick Brown just can’t shake the troubles stemming from the nomination of candidates in preparation for next year’s election. Even when the news seems good on the surface — like spurned Durham candidate Joe Neal (who had run for the Liberals in the 1980s and was fundraising for them as recently as a 2016 by-election) dropping his legal challenge — it gets nasty down below, where Neal offers his rationale: “I’m upset. They’re trying to suggest I was a Liberal plant. Even if I pulled off a win in court, they made it known I would not be approved. I was an inconvenient obstacle to the parachute candidate.” But in other areas, the news isn’t even good on the surface, including three en masse resignations of riding association boards of directors:

  • Toronto police were called out to the nomination meeting in Scarborough Centre on Monday evening when a much-larger-than-expected crowd (staff at the community centre where the nomination meeting was held were expecting 150 people and CTV reported somewhere in the area of 1,000 showed up) grew unruly when polls were closed before everyone could vote. Sealed ballot boxes were removed by PriceWaterhouseCoopers officials, who have been retained by Brown to oversee future nominations. While cellphone video from the night shows tempers flaring, no charges were laid by police.
  • The entire PC executive board in Ottawa West-Nepean quit last week in protest of allegations that the ballot box was stuffed to give Karma MacGregor the nomination in a 15-vote victory over Jeremy Roberts. “We will not continue to support a leadership that condoned the serious, even fraudulent, irregularities at our nomination meeting,” said departed riding president Emma McLennan. “Frankly, what this party has done to Ottawa West-Nepean is stunning and unforgivable.”
  • That was on the heels of Jack MacLaren loyalists in Kanata-Carleton quitting after the troublesome MPP was turfed from the PC caucus (or quit, depending on your point of view) to join the Trillium Party and sit as an independent.
  • In Newmarket-Aurora, the board quit in protest of the nomination of Charity McGrath Di Paolo amid allegations supporters of her opponents were physically blocked from engaging with PC Party members on site during the nomination meeting.
  • In Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas, defeated candidate Vikram Singh is proceeding with a court challenge of the nomination of Ben Levitt.

If there is a silver lining for Brown, it’s that nomination disputes rarely, if ever, have any significant impact on election night results. No doubt Brown must be hoping this long-held view holds in this election cycle.

(On a positive note for the PCs on the nomination front in the Capital District, the party nominated former Ottawa city councillor Karin Howard in ex-Premier Dalton McGuinty’s old Ottawa South riding this week, and did so without a firestorm of protest.)

BATTLE BOTS — The Liberals may say they are not paying much heed to polling numbers that have them languishing well behind the Tories, but they have certainly been paying attention to a survey about attitudes towards ticket scalping. Stemming largely from a nationwide hue and cry about the difficulty securing tickets for the final Tragically Hip tour last summer, the government went online to consult, and found that 90% of the people they engaged favoured banning so-called scalper-bots — computer software that quickly scoops up mounds of event tickets the moment they go on sale to the public. These tickets often end up on re-sale sites where they are listed for substantially more than their face value. It thusly follows that the government has announced its intentions to do just that and more in an effort to restore some fairness to the ticket-buying crowd. “Between bots, lack of transparency and unfair prices on resale sites, there is a pervasive sentiment that the system is rigged,” said Attorney General Yasir Naqvi while announcing the legislation, which will also forbid markups of more than 50% and require resellers to provide more information. Interestingly, the rise of the scalper-bot in Ontario can be traced back to the Liberals removing a prohibition on ticket scalping, a measure taken in an effort to crack down on counterfeit tickets.

ANOTHER ROUND — With low polling numbers feeding rampant speculation about which Liberal MPPs may opt to step aside from politics rather than face the risk of electoral defeat in June 2018, one of Premier Kathleen Wynne’s chief lieutenants is standing by her side. Finance Minister Charles Sousa — a Wynne ally, but also a rumoured replacement should the Premier step aside — has been nominated as the Liberal candidate in the newly formed Mississauga-Lakeshore riding.

FOR THE RECORD

“It is a complete betrayal of trust when a caregiver does not prolong life, but terminates it. She was the shadow of death that passed over them on the night shift where she supervised.”

  • Justice Bruce Thomas, while sentencing former long-term care nurse Elizabeth Wettlaufer to life in prison with no eligibility for parole for 25 years on eight counts of first-degree murder, four counts of attempted murder and two counts of aggravated assault. Immediately after the sentencing, Attorney General Yasir Naqvi and Heath Minister Eric Hoskins announced they would launch in inquiry into the case to ensure something similar does not happen again.

“If you’re a scum drug dealer that has one in his basement, you’re going to go to jail.”

  • Tory MPP Michael Harris, who has introduced a private member’s bill to make the possession of pill pressing machines — seen as a key tool in perpetuating the opiate crisis in many Ontario communities — illegal.

“Not a chance. I’m very happy in the mayor’s job, which has a much bigger impact on the daily lives of people.”

  • Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens, throwing cold water on local rumours he was being recruited to run against the Liberals in next year’s provincial election.
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