Ontario politics

Articles & Posts to read today

You should check out these articles from the past few days:

Can the G.O.P. Be a Party of Ideas? (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/06/magazine/can-the-gop-be-a-party-of-ideas.html?_r=2) As Charles Murray tweeted, a “good account from a hostile witness.”

You’re doing it wrong (http://hipsterconservative.com/2014/06/10/youre-doing-it-wrong/), a post from The Hipster Conservative about politicians using internet memes unironically!

What is Ethical Conservatism? (http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/what-is-ethical-conservatism/). As if there were any other kind of conservatism.


The New Sins of the ‘Nonjugdmental’ Millennials (http://thefederalist.com/2014/06/27/the-new-sins-of-nonjudgmental-millennials/). Yikes! Explains how millennials have replaced the old religion with a new one.

And an article from Aeon on the concept of Hell (http://aeon.co/magazine/world-views/why-has-the-idea-of-hell-survived-so-long/)

Two great but chilling posts from Rod Dreher: the first about “Rooting out Brendan Eichs at JP Morgan Chase” (http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/brendan-eich-jpmorgan-chase/), and the other about “Those Filth Catholic Nuns” who oppose the contraception mandate in the Obamacare law (http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/those-filthy-catholic-nuns/)

Scott Stinson at the National Post on Premier Wynne’s “activist centre” dreck (http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2014/07/03/scott-stinson-on-kathleen-wynnes-activist-centre-government-new-catchphrase-same-logic-defying-promises/)

And here’s the Globe and Mail’s Denise Balkissoon on our reaching “Peak Ink” (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/peak-ink-why-tattoos-have-lost-their-exotic-thrill/article19487862/#dashboard/follows/)

Balkissoon concludes:

I’m going to declare that we’ve reached peak ink, and that tattoos are travelling on the downward slope of the 30-year fashion cycle. The mere act of letting a sharp needle pierce and mark your delicate skin is no longer enough to prove your edgy individuality, and formerly badass body art is acquiring a nostalgic, sepia tinge. As the old adage goes, you can buy fashion, but you can’t buy style. When your grandchildren trawl through your old Instagrams, I hope your body ink looks timeless, not dated.

Jeez, I hope not because the conservative cyclist just got this on the weekend:


That’s right – that’s Jesus on a Bike!! And it’s based on a design by Brent at Twin Six: http://www.twinsix.com/


Share the Road

The Ontario Ministry of Transportation provides some good advice in this news release from yesterday: http://news.ontario.ca/mto/en/2014/06/share-the-road—-same-rules-same-rights.html

My quibble would be with why we need a government ministry to tell us this. It’s mostly common sense. How much did it cost to release this on a national holiday?

Anyway the key point is: “Bicycles are considered vehicles, just like cars or trucks, which means they must obey all applicable traffic laws under the Highway Traffic Act.” Attention drivers: that means cyclists are allowed on the road and can occupy a lane. Get used to it. Attention cyclists: you have a responsibility to obey the rules of the road. Don’t run lights or stop signs or ride on the sidewalk. And signal for pity’s sake.

On my commute this morning, I had a driver beep and shake her head at me because I dared to stray from the bike path on Bloor-Danforth to pass another cyclist despite my signalling and staying as tight to the bike lane as possible. She was impatient which I find bizarre because traffic was fairly heavy and I ended up passing her anyway. And of course I could have taken the whole lane if I wanted to.

Cycling and Women’s Rights: A Lesson for Conservatives?

I found this article in The Atlantic today: How the Bicycle Paved the Way for Women’s Rights.

“By the 1890s, America was totally obsessed with the bicycle—which by then looked pretty much like the ones we ride today. There were millions of bikes on the roads and a new culture built around the technology. People started “wheelmen” clubs and competed in races. They toured the country and compared tricks and stunts.

The craze was meaningful, especially, for women. Both Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton are credited with declaring that “woman is riding to suffrage on the bicycle,” a line that was printed and reprinted in newspapers at the turn of the century. The bicycle took “old-fashioned, slow-going notions of the gentler sex,” as The Courier (Nebraska) reported in 1895, and replaced them with “some new woman, mounted on her steed of steel.” And it gave women a new level of transportation independence that perplexed newspaper columnists across the country.”


The writer Adrienne LaFrance continues:

“The bicycle, as a new technology of its time, had become an enormous cultural and political force, and an emblem of women’s rights. “The woman on the wheel is altogether a novelty, and is essentially a product of the last decade of the century,” wrote The Columbian (Pennsylvania) newspaper in 1895, “she is riding to greater freedom, to a nearer equality with man, to the habit of taking care of herself, and to new views on the subject of clothes philosophy.”

What struck me about this passage was that the bicycle had become a political tool almost as soon as it was invented. In this case, it became a tool to advance the cause of women’s suffrage. LaFrance goes on to explain how women’s fashions changed as a result of cycling and how newspapers columnists and reporters reacted.  Read the whole thing: http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/06/the-technology-craze-of-the-1890s-that-forever-changed-womens-rights/373535/

There is a lesson here for conservatives. As I stated in an earlier post, right now the bicycle is a political tool of the Left, a means to demonstrate your environmental and left-wing bona fides. But, just like the environment, the bicycle properly belongs to conservatives. Consider this closing passage from the article:

 “…I couldn’t help but imagine what it must have felt like—in an age when American women were still decades from the right to vote and inundated with men’s opinions about their ankles—for a woman to to go outside, hop on her bicycle, and ride as fast as she could wherever she wanted, leaving the rest of the world wondering where she might go. 

Indeed, “to ride as fast as she could wherever she wanted, leaving the rest of the world wondering where she might go”, no government regulations to hold her back; no bicycle paths to hem her in, to keep her “safe” from the buggies and Model Ts.  Just a woman and her bike and a sense of freedom and adventure.


So what is the lesson here for conservatives? Consider that, in Toronto, only 35% of the cycling population is female, and I would surmise that most of those women tend to be left on the political and cultural spectrum. Conservatives need to make cycling attractive to conservative women by going back to the early days of cycling and appealing to the spirit of a “woman is riding to suffrage on the bicycle”. In today’s context, that would be “conservative woman riding to political change on her bicycle”.  It’s a stretch, but come on ladies, let’s ride!!! You don’t need bike paths, provincial strategies or Olivia Chow politics to enjoy your bike. Just ride.


Ontario Liberals risk “epistemic closure” and conservatives should reform

Consider what has happened and what is happening in the United States. Here Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry writing in The Week:

“Several long winters ago, when President Obama was thunderously elected amid Messianic fervor, and much of the right was in the throes of apoplectic confusion, some liberal writers warned of a phenomenon among right-wing intellectuals, which they called “epistemic closure.” The charge was that conservative thinkers had lost the ability to process the idea that the world of 2008 was not the world of the Reagan Era, and more generally to consider new ideas or, really, reality. The word “derp” entered our lexicon to mock forehead-slappingly stupid statements, defined by the liberal blogger Noah Smith as “the constant, repetitive reiteration of strong priors.”

Meanwhile, two things are particularly striking about the current Democratic agenda. The first is that it’s so tired. Raising the minimum wage, raising taxes on high earners, tightening environmental regulation — these are all ideas from the ’60s. The second is that nobody on the left seems to be aware of it.”

It seems to me the Ontario Liberals are in the same position as the Democrats of 2012: they have a popular leader who was elected by the Left with Messianic fervour (or what passes as Messianic fervour here in Ontario) and are brimming with triumphalism. But their policies are already tired: a new and unnecessary pension plan; raising taxes on high earners; deficit spending that even Keynes might have balked at. I predict in four years the lustre of Kathleen Wynne will be greatly tarnished. Obama promised to “lower the oceans”; Wynne to balance the budget in 2017 without cutting spending or raising taxes.

So what is the opportunity for Ontario’s conservatives?  Gobry continues:

…even as they [Democrats, progressives] were making that point [i.e. the right is undergoing a period of epistemic closure]  the smartest writers on the right were already rising to the occasion. A flurry of innovative young writers like Yuval Levin, Reihan Salam, Ross Douthat, Tim Carney, and Avik Roy put out fresh, 21st century ideas on everything from tax reform to healthcare to social mobility to poverty to curtailing the power of big business. Many of these ideas are now compiled in a seminal new book. And many of these ideas have been adopted by the most prominent GOP [i.e. Republican] politicians and presidential candidates. Only with the right leader will the GOP truly embrace what’s been called reform conservatism, but it’s clear that the GOP is becoming the party of ideas again.

What Ontario conservatives need to do over the next four years is to work through our apoplectic confusion and rise to the occasion. Let’s commission our best and brightest young minds to make Ontario conservatives the party of ideas. First idea: drop the adjective “progressive” – it’s effectively meaningless – and develop a reform conservatism for Ontario. Maybe Christine Elliott will get it.


Here’s a link to PEG’s article: http://theweek.com/article/index/263711/vox-derp-and-the-intellectual-stagnation-of-the-left?utm_source=links&utm_medium=website&utm_campaign=twitter Read the whole thing.


Why is cycling conservative?

So I’ve put forward the premise that cycling is conservative but I have yet to make the case. Of course my entire blog is designed to do that but I think it’s worth a separate post on the topic.


Yep, that’s Ronald Reagan and Jane Wyman!!

Why do I think cycling is conservative? One way — albeit a very hard way — to explain is to use Kirk’s ten principles of conservatism and apply them to cycling. I’ll give it a try.

“First, the conservative believes that there exists an enduring moral order”. According to Kirk, “that order is made for man [humans], and man is made for it: human nature is a constant, and moral truths are permanent. This word order signifies harmony”. Cycling promotes that harmony, harmony with the machine, harmony with the environment, harmony with your fellow cyclists and other commuters, harmony with the urban landscape. Other activities do this as well, but cycling is an exemplar.

“Second, the conservative adheres to custom, convention, and continuity. It is old custom that enables people to live together peaceably; the destroyers of custom demolish more than they know or desire”. Cycling has a long history and has it’s established customs and rules. The basic technology itself has not changed in over 100 years.

“Third, conservatives believe in what may be called the principle of prescription. Conservatives sense that modern people are dwarfs on the shoulders of giants, able to see farther than their ancestors only because of the great stature of those who have preceded us in time”. I’ll cheat here and ask you to see above! It’s the same principle – history, tradition, longevity, the wisdom of our elder cyclists.

“Fourth, conservatives are guided by their principle of prudence. Burke agrees with Plato that in the statesman, prudence is chief among virtues. There is nothing more prudent than cycling – it is a relatively cheap and easy way to navigate the city.

“Fifth, conservatives pay attention to the principle of variety.They feel affection for the proliferating intricacy of long-established social institutions and modes of life, as distinguished from the narrowing uniformity and deadening egalitarianism of radical systems.” Cycling is a long-established social institution that resists conformity much to the chagrin of the Leftist who wants to make cycling a political activity with a “narrow uniformity” (e.g. you cycle so you must think like a Leftist) and “deadening egalitarianism” (e.g. cycle paths). Just look at cyclists in European cities – for the most part, they all ride the same style of bike and use the same bike lanes and ride at the same speed.

“Sixth, conservatives are chastened by their principle of imperfectability. Human nature suffers irremediably from certain grave faults, the conservatives know. Man [humans] being imperfect, no perfect social order ever can be created”. The conservative cyclist denies we can create a cycling utopia and believes the attempt to create one will only lead to tyranny.

“Seventh, conservatives are persuaded that freedom and property are closely linked.” We own our bicycles. They are a part of us unlike a subway or street car. Kirk adds” the conservative acknowledges that the possession of property fixes certain duties upon the possessor; he accepts those moral and legal obligations cheerfully. The conservative cyclist obeys the rules of the road and keeps his or her bicycle safe and in good repair. I wonder how abused shared or Bixi/Citi bikes are?

Eighth, conservatives uphold voluntary community, quite as they oppose involuntary collectivism”. The key word for the conservative cyclist is “voluntary” – we come together or not as we see fit locally. We resist government-sponsored or sanctioned associations. We rarely participate in Critical Mass rides – way too radical and authoritarian . We form associations based on mutual interest and are free to disassociate when those interests are no longer mutual. And we resist the call to make bicycles political tools of the Left.

Ninth, the conservative perceives the need for prudent restraints upon power and upon human passions”...The conservative endeavors to so limit and balance political power that anarchy or tyranny may not arise”. Leave the government out of cycling. It’s one less thing for government to usurp from the people. Did you know that Ontario has an official cycling strategy?  http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/pubs/cycling/ How ever did we survive as a province without a cycling strategy?

“Tenth, the thinking conservative understands that permanence and change must be recognized and reconciled in a vigorous society. The conservative is not opposed to social improvement, although he doubts whether there is any such force as a mystical Progress, with a Roman P, at work in the world. When a society is progressing in some respects, usually it is declining in other respects”.  The conservative cyclist agrees. Now I think I’ll enjoy a whiskey and a cigar and watch a classic movie.


Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly on the set of “Rear Window”

So does this mean conservatism in Ontario is dead?

Short answer is no. But a certain type of conservatism certainly died with this election — namely fiscal conservatism. Unless Premier Wynne decides to back track on her campaign commitments, the idea that the state should live within its means and should balance its budget is now certainly out of fashion in Ontario, and the consequences will be felt almost immediately and will reverberate for years to come.

Andrew Coyne published a terrific piece in the National Post on the Friday after the election in which he concluded precisely that fiscal conservatism had lost. And he challenged the Premier to implement her ruinous budget.


But over the longer term, conservatism — including fiscal conservatism — will return to favour.



What now?

So the Liberals have won a majority and Kathleen Wynne has pledged to reintroduce and pass the budget she introduced in April. What does this mean for Ontarians: a new pension plan and a tax to pay for it; borrowed money for transit, roads, tuition and for hiring more civil servants which means more deficit and debt.

Here’s a good analysis of why austerity may be in Ontario’s future: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2014/06/12/matt-gurney-cheer-up-tories-wynne-will-impose-austerity-for-you-she-has-no-choice/

But I’m not convinced Wynne will do what is necessary. In fact, I don’t think she believes Ontario is in any trouble whatsoever. The state is all: government can continue to grow and to spend without limits. The state owns everything, including your money and your rights, and grants them back to you as it sees fit.



Ontario votes

Here’s my prediction for tonight’s vote:

PCs will win a strong minority or a weak majority (50 to 57 seats).

I just can’t fathom the Liberals gaining any new seats. They will experience only loses. Potential Liberal losers include: Dickson, Dhillon, Cansfield, Qaadri, Crack, Gerretsen, Milloy, Chan, Mangat, Takhar, Jaczek, Flynn, Fraser, Chiarelli, MacCharles, Leal, Moridi, Wong, and Del Duca. Personally I would like to see Matthews and Pirruza gone as well. And Murray may be vulnerable from the NDP.

NDP will make modest gains.

Ideally we see the Liberals relegated to third-party status.

The first thing a Tory government should do is introduce legislation to restrict spending by third-parties.