Posts Tagged: "Andrew Lawton"

Trump Has Them Stumped

Laying Down the Lawton By Andrew Lawton - - News & Politics
The London Yodeller

The full-frontal assault on Trump by the media hasn’t worked to this point, nor have the now-routine condemnations of his comments by Republican and Democratic politicians”
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Matt and Mo Have an Easy Go Of It with the Integrity Commissioner They Chose

Laying Down the Lawton By Andrew Lawton - - News & Politics
The London Yodeller

An integrity commissioner’s job should not be to weigh someone’s actions against their future political prospects”


If I ever encounter marital troubles, I want the name of Matt Brown’s marriage counsellor. After a mere eight days on leave of absence from his mayoral post as he purportedly worked on spending more time with his family and recapturing their trust, Brown returned to work with a pledge to move forward. It was hardly a mea culpa, in that Brown didn’t really apologize in a manner that went deeper than his words.

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Je Suis Tired of This

Andrew Lawton - - News & Politics
The London Yodeller

“This requires more than having world leaders link arms and walk through the streets of Paris, which I’d imagine reduced terrorism by approximately zero per cent.”

Andrew LawtonThe world hashtagged “Je suis Charlie” when members of the Charlie Hebdo editorial team were gunned down in their Paris offices. Leaders marched in the street chanting “Je suis Paris” when 130 were killed in the November 2015 terrorist attacks, also in Paris. And here we are again, declaring our solidarity for the people of Brussels, Belgium, with the latest Pollyanna pledge, “Je suis Bruxelles.” Whatever would we do if terrorists struck a non-French-speaking country, and we had to come up with a new formula?

In October of 2015, President Barack Obama entered the White House press gallery to respond to a mass shooting – not connected to Islamic terrorism – at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oreg. Observers noted he appeared far more exasperated than usual. His remarks seemed to back this up. “Somehow this has become routine,” he said. “The reporting is routine. My response here at this podium ends up being routine, the conversation in the aftermath of it . . . We have become numb to this.”

Where was this sense less than two months later, when three dozen people were killed or injured by a husband and wife team of terrorists in San Bernardino, Calif., at the Inland Regional Center? Despite all of the examples from recent years of radical Muslims using their religion and ideology to justify the taking of innocent life, terrorism is still fraught with a slew of apologists, who endeavour to ‘understand’ – rather than fight – violent jihad.

When a knife-armed man, claiming direction by Allah (probably just a coincidence that that is the name of the Muslim god) stabbed two soldiers in a north Toronto recruiting centre, it didn’t take a genius to see this as the new face of terror. The war is not one comprised of armies fighting armies, as civilized conflicts throughout the course of history have been, but rather of self-proclaimed militants preying on innocent and unsuspecting civilians. These attacks have become, to borrow from Obama’s speechwriters, routine, but few in positions of political leadership seem to share my exasperation.

As a survivor of suicide and one who has dealt firsthand with mental illness, I understand that diseases of the mind can plague one’s decision-making. But that in no way means that we can use ‘mental illness’ as a catchall for horrific acts when we are too politically correct to confront the realities of ideologically driven acts. The West cannot be blamed for being targeted by terrorism. The United States, France, Belgium, even Canada, have been targeted not because of individual national identities, but because we stand – in theory, anyway – for values of freedom and democracy, which are detestable ideals to those who believe Sharia should be the law of the land. We have nothing to apologize for, yet people still make excuses. Continue Reading

Canadian Security Asleep at the Wheel

Andrew Lawton - - News & Politics
The London Yodeller

“I’ve always maintained that government ineptitude answers most problems”

Andrew LawtonDuring the 2015 federal election campaign, then-Liberal leader Justin Trudeau and NDP leader Thomas Mulcair, along with a number of left-leaning pundits in Canada, regularly criticized then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper for his emphasis on the threat of terrorism to Canada and our allies. In one of the debates, Trudeau even quipped that Harper probably wanted people to believe there was a terrorist hiding behind one of the podiums.

The laughter was not in response to the line, but apparently to Harper wryly peeking under his podium, a moment not caught on camera but relayed to me by a friend in attendance. It was an instance that showed a stark contrast between Canada’s left and right wings: the right thinks terrorism is an active, global threat; the left thinks it’s an outlier to bigger issues, so much so that it can be turned into a punchline in a televised debate.

Yet for all the rhetoric of the Harper government being the tough-on-terror one, it doesn’t appear that that translated to actual practice, at least as far as enforcement of his measures goes. Recent testimony by Michel Coulombe, the director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), before the Senate’s defence and security committee, revealed that CSIS is aware of 180 Canadians who are currently overseas fighting with terrorist entities – 100 of whom are in the Daesh-controlled territory in Iraq and Syria. Continue Reading

Premier Wynne Throws Another Spanner at Ontario Economy

Andrew Lawton - - News & Politics
The London Yodeller

“What type of government would introduce a second deck when the card tower is already wavering?”

Andrew LawtonDiscussing the failings and scandals of Ontario’s Liberal government has become all too routine. The government of Kathleen Wynne and Dalton McGuinty – because, let’s face it, the former is merely a continuation of the later – has managed to continue existing, despite billions of dollars being tossed about like confetti at an Italian wedding.

The cancelled gas plants scandal cost taxpayers more than a billion dollars; that amount was less than the overage of the smart meter program, which earned a scathing rebuke by the province’s auditor general. The Ornge Air Ambulance scandal cost millions – not to mention the toll on patients due to mismanagement. And then, of course, we have the billion dollar eHealth fiasco. None of these seem to matter to the average citizen, however, when stacked up against the rising costs with which most Ontarians are contending, by necessity, on this government’s watch.

That was cemented in late February when Premier Wynne announced the long-awaited details of her cap-and-trade plan, which will put a limit on carbon emissions and allow emitters to buy and sell their credits with other emitters. These schemes are convoluted, at best, and in other case studies have proven themselves to be more akin to revenue tools than actual mechanisms to save the planet, which appears to be Wynne’s goal with the plan. Ontario will be linked up with Quebec, Manitoba and California, and the whole initiative is expected to drive up fuel prices by 4.3 cents per litre. Five dollars per month will also be tacked onto the average natural gas bill.

The week before Wynne’s announcement, I interviewed the premier on my radio show, and actually asked about cap-and-trade, because it was known then that the details of the plan would soon be released (though not precisely when.) On Feb. 19, Statistics Canada released its year over year inflation numbers, which revealed that January’s cost of living had gone up by two per cent over one year prior, an increase from January’s numbers. Produce costs made up a large part of that, but fuel prices were among the largest increases impacting Canadians—and specifically Ontarians. Continue Reading

Screaming Beige: Mayor Brown’s Second State of the City Address

Andrew Lawton - - News & Politics
The London Yodeller

LAWTON MATT BROWNThe London Plan is why this mayor – and his council of Brown’s Clowns – is so predictable”

Everything is great, but we need more money to make it better. Oh, and we’re getting an air show again.

That’s the TV Guide-length summary of Mayor Matt Brown’s second state of the city address, delivered last month on a Tuesday morning at the London Convention Centre. Amusingly – I think so, anyway – I wrote that summary the day before the speech, having seen no advance copy nor spoken to anyone involved in its preparations. I used my political crystal ball, but I wasn’t particularly surprised when my prediction ended up being right on the money. Full disclosure: I didn’t predict the bit about the air show, exciting news as that is for people other than myself.

It’s true of most proclamations by this mayor: we’re expected to believe that everything is going well and the city is rebounding, but Londoners not getting on board with the London Plan is the biggest impediment to even more growth. I suppose any message is better than a performance of London is the City of Opportunity, but even then, a city theme song certainly breaks up the otherwise bland addresses.

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A Census Reveals Little More Than is Already Known

Andrew Lawton - - News & Politics
The London Yodeller

“When the Conservative’s made the long form census voluntary, Canada’s left responded as though the statistical sky was falling

Andrew LawtonLater this year, Canadians will once again be faced with the semi-decennial statistical obligation of Canadian citizenship: in other words, census time is approaching. Most census-takers do so out of requirement and fear of punishment, I suspect, rather than any stoic display of patriotism-by-numbers: the punishment for not filling it out, as a 79-year old Toronto woman learned in 2011, is a fine of up to $500 and no more than three months in jail.

She received but a slap on the wrist, her sentence being fifty hours of community service. Most of the 1.5 per cent of the population who buck the responsibility to volunteer a few key details to the government manage to escape unscathed. The whole thing is tantamount to theatre of the absurd, however. The government that puts your name on the form to fill out, mails it to your home address, and will arrest you if you fail to send it back, depends on you to declare your existence to its minions. It is the ultimate exercise in government: a make-work project that reveals little more than is already known to begin with.

The first Canadian census was taken in 1871—just four years after confederation—to determine the combined populations of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. (Had they counted Quebeckers at three-fifths the value of one real Canadian, we might have had better luck keeping the separatists at bay until now, but that’s a topic for another column.) Continue Reading

New Year’s Goals

Andrew Lawton - - News & Politics
The London Yodeller

As someone who respects good politics, I have to give credit where it’s due. The shell game has been well won by these people.

Andrew LawtonMy last column was devoted to lamenting the absurdity I find in New Year’s festivities and goals. I’d love to have found a healthy dose of optimism with the arrival of 2016, but I’m not even sure economic stability can be attained this year on the city’s current path, let alone prosperity.

 This month, Londoners will be faced with the so-called state of the city, a rather repetitive declaration that the city is on the right track—it always is, apparently—and the people elected to do the job are, indeed, doing it. Don’t hold your breath for any bold revelations. The fact is, 2016 won’t be all that different from last year on the council front: the same voices will be making the same decisions resulting in the same disrespect of your tax dollars.

A negative worldview? Maybe. But I see no value in ‘hoping for the best,’ because such hopes are always dashed by reality. Add the spendthrift council in with Ontario’s Liberal majority government, coupled with a Liberal majority government in Ottawa, and 2016 might more readily be described as the Year of the Disappearing Income (I’m sure those specializing in Chinese astrology can confirm the proper name.)

Londoners will no doubt be on track for yet another property tax hike this year, which is concerning not because of the extra few bucks on the tax bill, but because of the culture of entitlement councilors have as to how to approach the process. When was the last time a tax reduction was floated? When was the last time a zero per cent budget was seriously entertained? Council’s left wing—a group whose membership totals around 14 out of 15—has managed to characterize the idea of a tax freeze as reckless, and exorbitant spending increases as the status quo.

As someone who respects good politics, I have to give credit where it’s due. The shell game has been well won by these people. When budget time comes, will there be voices calling for restraint? How would it even be possible, given this council’s goals for the future? Mayor Matt Brown finds himself in a precarious place: he has promised the moon, and it can’t be bought cheaply.

From bus rapid transit to other infrastructure investments, the London wish-list is filled with items bearing price tags in the hundreds of millions. While many have been presented as products of partnerships with provincial and federal governments, let’s face it, the money’s coming out of one of your pockets, regardless of who takes it out. This year, London will be moving towards the implementation of multi-year budgeting, which will cover us off until 2019. Don’t think this means better spending: we’ll just know a few years in advance how bad things are going to be.

And that brings us to the Ontario dilemma. With no cull of government programs, nor an expensive and rapidly expanding government workforce, coming from the provincial front, Ontarians are also seeing yet another increase in taxes via increased hydro rates in 2016. Time of use rates increased last November, and will once again be rising in 2016—most likely in the fall. And though we will see the debt retirement charge (DRC) drop off of our bills, so too will the Ontario Clean Energy Benefit, which gave us suckers a 10 per cent discount on every hydro bill.

If your household income is more than $28,000—which most of ours are—you’ll also see an increase in your bill through a new support program the province put in place to help lower income Ontarians pay for their hydro.

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Don’t wish me a happy new year

Andrew Lawton - - Everything Else
The London Yodeller

What perturbs me the most is the way other people seem to hold up this mystical notion that one’s life can reset when the calendar turns”

Andrew LawtonAfter the stockings are emptied, the tree packed away, and the Boxing Day deals claimed, most Londoners will be ready to move on from the holiday season. But only for a few days, before we celebrate the turning of the calendar. This is, of course, referring to the farewell to 2015 and the welcoming of 2016 that occurs when the clock strikes midnight on Dec. 31 – or on Jan. 1, I suppose.

As your coworkers relentlessly tell you they’ll “See you next year,” garnering only the politest of laughs, or as your friends and family wish you a happy New Year, please spare me the greeting, for I am the Grinch of New Year. I can’t pinpoint the precise year when New Year’s Eve became a source of frustration rather than celebration – or even apathy – for me. 

Perhaps it was when I first watched the ball drop in Times Square on television, and was disappointed that it didn’t smash when it reached the bottom. Then again, maybe it was when our family friends’ champagne cork hit me in the forehead at their New Year’s Eve soiree. Of course, it may simply have been a byproduct of being forced to jump around singing Auld Lang Syne while wearing a funny hat once the ball dropped – but, I remind you, never broke. Regardless, I will have no New Year’s Eve plans this year (although I will more than likely be awake well into the New Year minding my own business), and I’m okay with that.

I’ve met some people who share in my disdain for the phony holiday, but only until someone invites them out. Rest assured, I’ve been invited to at least a couple of parties each year (although as word gets out of my holiday joy-killing, the stream of invitations does, in fact, slow a tad). There is nothing innately wrong with the event – although I find it odd that we’ve managed to mass market a celebration of the passage of time other than birthdays and convince people that a year has passed since a moment prior.

What perturbs me the most is the way other people seem to hold up this mystical notion that one’s life can reset when the calendar turns. Even then, it seems much less dramatic a change now that most people’s calendar flips happen courtesy of Apple and Microsoft rather than on hard copy. “Next year will be better,” observers so often pledge. “I’m going to get around to [insert failed goal from previous year here] this year, I promise.” Last time I checked, dates may be measured by the Gregorian Calendarbut our goals, dreams, hopes and ambitions really shouldn’t be.

New Year’s Eve has, for some, became an excuse to drink. Power to you, if you fall into that group, although any night followed by a day off work seems like a good enough reason for that. For others, it is a culmination of a year of misery, enabling one’s failings to be excused, because things are hoped to be different in the year following.

I’m sure there are some reasonable centrists among us who simply go along for the ride, get dolled up, and reflect fondly for five seconds about all that they did in the last year before a stranger kisses them. (Because, after all, it’s a new year: sexual assault is always a great way to kick off 365 days of a new you.) So what’s the point?

We need to reset the calendar, but apart from the purely functional purpose of the New Year, it really doesn’t serve one. How many New Year’s resolutions are really kept? Even those who make them tend to view them as a punchline. Of Canadians who made them last year, 19 per cent abandoned them within the first 24 hours. That’s one in five people who couldn’t make it one day without lighting up a cigarette, skipping a workout or eating a cheeseburger, despite the almighty power of the New Year.

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