Years ago, when I was at university, I asked one of the older professors of history what he thought about the changes in the student body over his career. This gentleman, a word entirely applicable to him, said that when he started teaching in the early 1960s he would flunk between a quarter and a third of his first year classes. Faster forward to the early 2000s and he rarely flunked a student. I jokingly asked him if that was because young people are smarter now than they were forty years earlier. He found my little joke rather too funny.
He confided in me that in the late 1960s the president of the university did the rounds. He explained that he was receiving pressure from the provincial government. Too many students were going off to university and then failing to graduate. The logical inference would have been that the high schools had either failed to prepare these students, or that the students were not academically capable or inclined. Political logic, however, is not like ordinary logic. It works by different rules. A government minister couldn’t admit that many public high schools just weren’t good enough, or that little Johnny was a bit daft. That would have contravened the egalitarian ethos of the age. So if the high schools couldn’t be fixed, they’d fix the universities instead.
Now by fix they didn’t mean improve. Nope. They meant dumb down. Now this was at one of the most prestigious universities in the land. You can well imagine that dumbing down at such a place was bad enough, dumbing down at less academically selective schools would be the equivalent of destroying virtually all academic rigour. This dumbing down also had the added advantage of filling in all those empty spaces left when the Baby Boomers graduated.
Richard Anderson, “The Shadow of Truth”, The Gods of the Copybook Headings, 2014-03-28
September 22, 2014
September 10, 2014
Michael Geist reports on the Ontario government’s pitch to the CRTC to impose additional tax burdens on foreign online video services:
As CRTC Chair Jean-Pierre Blais anticipated, the Government of Ontario’s call for regulation of online video services attracted considerable attention, including comments from Canadian Heritage Minister Shelly Glover roundly dismissing the possibility. Glover stated:
“We will not allow any moves to impose new regulations and taxes on internet video that would create a Netflix and Youtube Tax.”
Last night, I received an email from a spokesperson for Ontario Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport Michael Coteau that tried to soften the call for online video regulation. The spokesperson stated:
“The presentation today provided important elements for CRTC consideration as it undertakes its review. The government is not advocating for any CanCon changes, or that any specific regulations be imposed on new media TV, until more evidence is available.”
I asked for clarification on what “more evidence” means. The spokesperson responded that there will be over 100 presentations at the CRTC hearing and that all need to be heard from before moving forward.
Yet a review of the Ontario government submission to the CRTC and its prepared remarks yesterday make it clear that the government strongly supported immediate regulatory reforms and that the need for “evidence” is actually a reference to revenue thresholds that would trigger mandatory payments by foreign online video providers.
August 20, 2014
In the Toronto Star, Richard Brennan reports on a new study by the C.D. Howe Institute calling for the province to join the modern era:
The “quasi-monopoly” LCBO and The Beer Store have hosed Ontario consumers long enough, a C.D. Howe Institute report says.
The right-wing think tank said the Ontario government should strip them both of their almost exclusive right to sell beer, wine and spirits, suggesting the report proves that opening up to alcohol sales to competition will mean lower prices.
“The lack of competition in Ontario’s system for alcoholic beverage retailing causes higher prices for consumers and foregone government revenue,” states the 30-page report, Uncorking a Strange Brew: The Need for More Competition in Ontario’s Alcoholic Beverage Retailing System, to be released publicly Wednesday.
The report includes tables comparing Ontario beer prices to other provinces with greater private sector involvement, particularly with Quebec, where a case of 24 domestic beers can be as much as $10 cheaper and even more for imported brands.
Since 1927, when the Liquor Control Act was passed, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario and the privately owned Brewers Warehousing Company Limited have had a stranglehold on alcohol sale in the province.
“The Beer Store’s quasi-monopoly of beer retailing is … an anachronism,” the report says, referring to the foreign-owned private retailer that is protected by provincial legislation.
August 17, 2014
It’s been a while since I last saw Jeff performing live, but this little video taken last weekend at the Coldwater Steampunk Festival gives you a taste of what he can do:
We’d driven through Coldwater earlier in the week, on our way to visit friends in Waubaushene on Georgian Bay, but couldn’t get back there on the weekend for the festival, unfortunately.
H/T to Boing Boing‘s Rob Beschizza for the link.
August 8, 2014
Former Premier Bill Davis was “for a brief crazy moment, one of the most conservative politicians in Canada”
I remember the days of the eternal Progressive Conservative government in Ontario rather un-fondly, but Richard Anderson says it was a fluke of the times that Bill Davis really was the best the “conservatives” had during his time in office:
It’s often said about Bill Davis that he was more progressive than conservative. The meaning of words, especially in politics, change with the times. A conservative in 1975 was a far more statist figure than a conservative either twenty years before or twenty years after. Between the election of Pearson and the defeat of Turner Canadian politics took an astonishingly Leftward lurch. So did the rest of the developed world. There simply was no conservative movement or politician, as we understand that term today, of any consequence in the Disco Era Dominion.
By the time the conservative reaction to mid-twentieth century Leftism had set-in Davis was already eyeing the political exits. He was, as his immediate predecessor John Robarts quipped upon his own retirement in 1971, a man of his times. By 1985 Bill Davis’ time was up. The public mood had grown weary of statist experiment, though it was far from re-embracing free market alternatives. It would take the brutal recession and fiscal retrenchment of the 1990s to beat the utopianism out of Canadian politics. [...]
Whatever their colour, gender or personal history, politicians want one thing and one thing only: Power. It does not matter their intentions. However honourable they must bend somewhat to political reality. How far they choose to bend determines how long a political career they will have. The tragedy of the Davis years is that, whatever we think of the era now, the only real alternative to Bill Davis would have been Stephen Lewis. The man with the pipe and bland genial manner was, for a brief crazy moment, one of the most conservative politicians in Canada.
August 7, 2014
I have to agree with Michael Pinkus on this issue: wines that are sealed with a synthetic cork really should carry a warning label or at least use a transparent capsule to avoid disappointment for the consumer. Fortunately, most of the wineries I favour have either stuck with traditional cork or have gone to steel closures, but I’ve had some unhappy experiences with Californian wine (and not always the cheap stuff) locked down under a blob of synthetic material.
The question I brought up in my post was why use a plastic cork in a knowingly ageable wine? First generation plastic, self-admitted by one of the leading synthetic manufacturer’s in the US, is for drink-now wines (at least within 3-4 years maximum); yet the Washington based Hedges is still claiming the possibility of 20 years. Now I am aware that better technology in synthetic is currently being studied and marketed to preserve bottles longer, but the fact still remains that a bottle closed in 2002 and opened in 2014 wasn’t given proper opportunity to age 5 years, let alone 20, based solely on choice of closure by the wine makers. But knowing what they know now about the older synthetics should not Hedges change their tune on their older bottles? Why stick by the 20 year number? It would be more appropriate to say: ‘you’d be very lucky for 20 years, or even 10, we recommend a maximum of 5 years.’
The Montreal-based writer, who took me to task, said that he did not approve of my anti-synthetic stance and said that I blamed the producer for a choice they made 12 years ago “as if they knew it would fail” over the long haul. He argued that taking into account the thinking of the time: that synthetic would do a better job and eliminate dreaded cork taint (TCA), I should give the producer a break. I’ll agree that maybe it is a little unfair of me to blame them for a decision they made 12 years ago; but what’s their excuse today? My demand NOW is to know what is sealing my bottles today.
A well-known and award winning winery here in Ontario used synthetic for their 2002-2005 vintage wines and consider it now to be “one of their worst mistakes ever”, once they realized their poor ageing ability. I recently dumped a number of their wines down the drain after discovering, and tasting, the wines I had in my cellar, sealed synthetically, and their marketing manager says he has done the very same with what he had considered, at the time of bottling, “some beautiful wines”. A popular, longtime wine writer and friend confided that upon noticing that this winery had moved to the synthetic closure said “my opinion of their wines was tainted”.
These are just two examples of industry insiders, from two sides of the industry (writing and marketing — each over 15 years in the business) knowingly making the decision against synthetic for long-term aging. So I know I’m not alone in my thinking; and where there is two in such close vicinity that means there are plenty more of us around the world.
July 14, 2014
In the Winnipeg Free Press, Allan Levine reminds us that not only is Canada’s 150th birthday coming up in 2017, but that the meetings that led to Confederation were being held 150 years ago and much of the success was due to a “forgotten father of Confederation”:
BOLSTERED by generous federal funding, the 150th anniversary of Confederation will be celebrated on July 1, 2017 with the great hoopla the birth of this country deserves.
Yet the hard work, political compromises, backroom negotiations and constitutional debates that made Confederation — a more remarkable development than we appreciate today — possible occurred during a five-month period from June to October in 1864.
In short, Canada’s true sesquicentennial is happening right now.
The two most notable events of 1864 were conferences in Charlottetown, in early September, followed by a more extensive one held in Quebec City for much of October. At the gathering in Charlottetown, delegates from the Province of Canada — divided into two regions, Canada West (Ontario) and Canada East (Quebec) — led by John A. Macdonald and George-Étienne Cartier, respectively, convinced politicians from the Maritimes a federation of all of British North America made sense. The fundamentals of this new constitutional entity were then hammered out in Quebec City, producing a comprehensive plan for a new country outlined in the 72 Resolutions, which became the basis for the British North America Act proclaimed on July 1, 1867.
Apart from Macdonald and Cartier, the other key political personality in Charlottetown and Quebec City involved in making Confederation a reality was George Brown, the publisher of the Toronto Globe. Born in Scotland, Brown had arrived in Toronto via New York City at the age of 24 in 1843 and a year later established the Globe. A large man, he was over six feet tall and powerfully built. Brown was hard and dogmatic, but also an energetic and passionate man with strong convictions about free speech, civil liberties and the separation of church and state.
Brown became a leader of the Reform movement in Canada West and rallied around him left-leaning Reformers in Toronto and western farmers he dubbed “Clear Grits” (this faction only wanted men of true grit). He was eventually elected to the Province of Canada assembly in 1851, the beginning of a journey that would culminate with his role as a leading Father of Confederation and a founder of the Liberal party.
Update, 15 July. Richard Anderson has more on George Brown, and neatly explains why of all the Fathers of Confederation, only Sir John A. sticks in anyone’s memory. Poor George founded the Liberal party, but wouldn’t recognize the party in its modern incarnation.
George Brown certainly founded the Liberal Party, The Globe and Canada as a viable nation state. The Liberal Party, however, would prefer if you not remember all that stuff. Like an unpleasant uncle whose Thanksgiving Day antics you have suppressed from conscious memory, Brown is an embarrassment to modern Grits. To understand that you only have to give glancing attention to the man himself.
Brown of the Globe was a classical liberal, or to put it another way he was real liberal, one who understood very well the root meaning of the word: Liberty. He denounced crony capitalism (see the Grand Trunk Railway), fought for the separation of church and state (see his attacks upon ultramonte Catholicism) and advocated for free trade. This fierce tempered, no-nonsense Scots-Presbyterian would have made mince-meat out of Pierre Trudeau and his dimwitted spawn. When the Liberal Party of Canada stopped believing in liberty they had no use for Canadian classical liberalism’s greatest exponent.
George Brown is more than forgotten, he is an orphan in our statist politics. We are much the poorer for it.
June 19, 2014
Wow, 31,399 ballots were declined in the Ontario election. Up from 2,335 in 2011. #onpoli
— Éric Grenier (@308dotcom) June 19, 2014
That is the highest number of declined ballots since at least 1975. Second highest? 1990 = 20,795
— Éric Grenier (@308dotcom) June 19, 2014
To give you an idea – in my riding in 2011, there would about 20 declined ballots. In 2014, there were almost 400.
— Éric Grenier (@308dotcom) June 19, 2014
More #onpoli dissatisfaction with available options: rejected ballots up to 22,687 from 12,892 in 2014. Unmarked: 12,059, from 5,208.
— Éric Grenier (@308dotcom) June 19, 2014
So, in all 66,145 people spoiled, unmarked, or declined their ballots in 2014. That was 20,435 in 2011. And turnout barely nudged up.
— Éric Grenier (@308dotcom) June 19, 2014
— Éric Grenier (@308dotcom) June 19, 2014
June 12, 2014
I live in an unusual riding this election: my local MP died recently and my MPP is his widow. This may be why I have seen almost no activity in the riding by the NDP and Liberal candidates: there are a few signs in my part of the riding, but I have not been contacted by either party in person or by handbill/flyer/telephone. A canvasser for Christine Elliot showed up on my doorstep a couple of weeks ago. Aside from that, you might not think an election was happening.
In the neighbouring ridings, there seem to be more signs for all parties, but it’s the most low-key election I’ve seen in many years. Perhaps that’s because of the choices on offer. In the last couple of federal elections, the choices were the crooks (Papa Jean’s scandal-tainted Liberals, under whoever was left standing after the music stopped at the last leadership convention), the fascists (Obergruppenfuhrer Harper and his neo-nazi marching band and glee club), and the commies (the last crusade of Saint Jack, and the Quebec Children’s Crusade that followed). At least there were compelling stories there. The Ontario election, on the other hand, has much less interest for anyone who isn’t a political junkie.
The Liberals are still the crooks, but they boast the first lesbian premier (which still gives them a great deal of media credit, even if the actual voters aren’t as swayed by this as the journalists are). The NDP are riven by an open revolt on the part of the doctrinaire old guard, who loudly disagree with the rhetoric and tactics of their current leader and sound as if they’re determined that she loses. The Progressive Conservatives … well, here’s how Richard Anderson describes their leader:
Where was I? Oh yes I was talking about Timmy. He seems to be a swell guy. I think. A running joke shortly after the leadership convention was that if Tim Hudak were any more wooden he’d be liable to get Dutch Elm Disease. Which is terribly untrue and based on nothing but smears and innuendos. Termites are far more of a problem in Ontario than Dutch Elm Disease. During this most recent campaign he was able, albeit briefly, to display genuine emotion. He seemed kind of annoyed at Kathleen Wynne during the debate.
OK I’m lying. I didn’t see the debate. I’m a political junkie but Ontario politics these last few years has been a gruesome spectator sport. I can’t take it anymore. Please, please make them all stop.
Sorry. This post is about Tim. It’s about why Tiny Tim needs your support tomorrow to win the election, otherwise he won’t be able to get the operation he desperately needs to become a real boy. Sorry again. Mixing my Disney stories again. No wait wasn’t one of those stories Dickens? Ah heck, Disney did it better. Bless you Scrooge McDuck!
And that’s in a post recommending a vote for Tim and his merry band in the forward-backward party. Just imagine what he’d say if he was against Tim.
Me? I’ve already said I’m voting for the splitters this time around.
If you don’t know who to vote for, but still want to be counted you can decline your ballot. My 2011 post on how to decline your ballot has been racking up thousands of hits since the election was called (much more attention than it got in the previous election).
I’ve no idea if there will actually be a significant number of refused ballots tonight, but it might be a minor news story in the aftermath.
Update I just got back from voting, and I picked up the mail from our “Super” mailbox on the way back. There were cards from both the NDP and Liberal candidates in with the usual mix of bills, real estate agent flyers, and local ads.
I first posted this article in 2004. I repost it every election:
Ballot Box Irregularities, Canadian Style
This article in Reason Hit and Run talks about the recent decision to allow partisan ballot-challengers to monitor the voting in Ohio. In Canada, these people are called “scrutineers” and they have a vital job.
No, I’m not kidding about the vital part. Each candidate has the right to appoint a scrutineer for every poll in the riding (usually only the Liberal, NDP, and Conservative parties can manage to field that much manpower). I was a scrutineer during a federal byelection in the mid-1980’s in a Toronto-area riding, but I had five polls to monitor (all were in the same school gymnasium). This was my first real experience of how dirty the political system can be.
The scrutineers have the right to challenge voters — although I don’t remember any challenges being issued at any of my polls — similar to the Ohio situation, I believe. They also have the right to be present during the vote count and to challenge the validity of individual ballots. Their job is to maximize the vote for their candidate and minimize the vote for their opponents.
Canadian ballots are pretty straightforward items: they are small, folded slips of paper with each candidate’s name listed alphabetically and a circle to indicate a vote for that candidate. A valid vote will have only one mark inside one of the circles (an X is the preferred mark). An invalid vote might have:
- No markings at all (a blank ballot)
- More than one circle marked (a spoiled ballot)
- Some mark other than an X (this is where the scrutineers become important).
After the polls close, the poll clerk and the Deputy Returning Officer (DRO) secure the unused ballots and then open the ballot box in the presence of any accredited scrutineers. The clerk and DRO then count all the ballots, indicating valid votes for candidates and invalid ballots. The scrutineers can challenge any ballot and it must be set aside and reconsidered after the rest of the ballots are counted.
A challenged ballot must be defended by one of the scrutineers or it is considered to be invalid and the vote is not counted. The clerk and DRO have the power to make the decision, but in practice a noisy scrutineer can usually bully the DRO into accepting all their challenges. I didn’t realize just how easy it was to screw with the system until I’d been a scrutineer and watched it happen over and over again.
This is the key reason why minor party candidates poll so badly in Canadian elections: they don’t have enough (or, in many cases, any) scrutineers to defend their votes. In my experience in that Toronto-area byelection, I personally saved nearly 4% of the total vote my candidate received (in the entire riding) by counter-challenging challenged ballots. We totalled just over 400 votes in the riding (in just about 100 polls) — 21 of them in my polls. I got 15 of those votes allowed, when they would otherwise have been disallowed by the DRO.
There was no legal reason to disallow those votes: they were clearly marked with an X and had no other marks on them; they were challenged because they were votes for a minor candidate. As it was, I had a heck of a time running from poll to poll in order to get my counter-challenges in (I probably missed a few votes by not being able to get back to a poll in time).
The Libertarians only had six or seven scrutineers, covering less than a third of the polls in this riding. If the challenge rate was typical in my poll, then instead of the 400-odd votes, we actually received nearly 2000 votes — but most of them were not counted.
Yes, even 2000 votes would not have swung the election, but 2000 people willing to vote for a “fringe” party would be a good argument against those “throwing away your vote” criticisms. Voters are weird creatures in some ways: they like to feel that their votes actually matter. Voting for someone who espouses views you like, then discovering that only a few others feel the same way will discourage most voters from voting that way again in future.
Another reason that minor party votes matter (that I neglected to mention in the original post) is that parties receive funding based on their vote totals in the previous election. Disallowing minor party votes also deprives those parties of the funding they would otherwise be entitled to next time around. For the bigger parties, this is trivial, but for minor parties, this may be critical to them being able to stay active — and visible to voters — between elections.
June 11, 2014
The first — and probably not the last — definite sign of how bad this winter was for the wineries comes from today’s newsletter from Featherstone, where Louise Engel says they’ve suffered severe damage to some of the vines:
Every season is an adventure in weather here in Niagara. Every year since we bought the vineyard fifteen years ago, Dave and I have looked at each other at some point during the grape growing season, sighed deeply, and said:
“Hmm … well, never seen that before.”
This past year we added ‘polar vortex’ to our table talk. However, we were optimistic that the vines would come through relatively unscathed from the punishing winter temperatures. Our optimism was misplaced. Both the Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc vines have been badly damaged and will need extensive re-planting.
The Gewürztraminer has been virtually wiped out. We are considering replanting that entire field with a hardier variety, like Riesling. The Riesling field that was planted in 1998 is sixteen, going on seventeen, and still thrives. So it may be so long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye Gewürztraminer.
Does this mean that prices will increase? No, it doesn’t. But if you are a fan of our Gewürztraminer, I suggest you climb ev’ry mountain to get here before it’s all gone. Forever.
If you’re not familiar with the Niagara Escarpment sub-appellations, Featherstone is in the Twenty Mile Bench: most of my favourite wineries are in this sub-appellation.
June 10, 2014
May 29, 2014
Just as the Ontario election writ was dropped, the small wineries of Ontario started pushing the Pairs Perfectly campaign, to move the province toward a more mature wine retailing model (like British Columbia’s). While I’d prefer a full privatization model (like Alberta’s), at least the move to allowing some private wine stores would be an improvement. Despite the quick work to launch the campaign, Michael Pinkus says it’s already being forgotten on the hustings:
Ontario is deep into an election campaign and the best thing done so far is a little initiative from the Wine Council called “Pairs Perfectly”. They’ve backed it with radio and television promos and in truth they make a lot of sense. Ontario is one of the only provinces not to have some sort of private system in place, either along with their provincial monopoly (a la British Columbia) or fully privatized (a la Alberta). This initiative seemed to be already formed and waiting in the wings: no sooner had an election been called than the “Pairs Perfectly” slogan was in my inbox (with its twitter handle @PairsPerfectly, hashtag #PairsPerfectly and website PairsPerfectly.com), articles were written to explain the notion, social media seemed abuzz from wineries to writers to the average-Joe, all were tweeting, re-tweeting, blogging, tumbling, gramming, hooting, hollering, casting, accosting and I initially thought, “Wow, the buzz is really out there, this just might have legs, or at least more legs that that ‘My Wine Shop’ that seemed to go nowhere.”
But 6 weeks is a long time in the political realm, just ask Rob Ford, so much can happen over the course of 6 weeks that can turn the tide on a well-thought-out, well-organized plan of attack. Instead of the Ontario booze media jumping whole hog onto the initiative and writing piece after piece after piece about the benefits of privatization to keep the idea in our collective consciousness, a new issue has come along to polarize: the VQA, which I have repeatedly said is a sham of a system, most notably because of its tasting panel. Now there’s a new horse to ride, a newer and shinier issue to get all worked up about. The VQA is easy pickings because it is so wrong, crushes creativity and stymies’ our winemakers making them think “will this pass VQA”. Every winery has come into conflict with it at least once in its existence and it needs an overhaul (radical? Maybe not, but definitely a big tweak).
I believe this: Ontario is a mess and is destined to remain that way long after this election season has been put to bed. We already know the Liberals position on privatization of any sort (over their dead body); the NDP seem in lockstep with the Liberals train of thought because it would disrupt union jobs. And the Conservatives, before the campaign the only party willing to talk privatization, have somehow gone mute about the whole issue – as if someone told them not to rock the boat; which makes them the wild card. But if history shows us anything it’s doubtful it’ll get past committee if it ever does come up.
And don’t even get me started on the asinine things happening on the beer side of the ledger. The Beer Store’s cockamamie campaign against corner stores carrying the product that they have a duopoly to sell (with the LCBO), is as misguided and ill-conceived as any I can think of. Does beer not also get sold in corner stores in other provinces? Are all those owners corrupt-minor-sellers? It seems to have galvanized the public against them; especially when people find out they aren’t government controlled; which a vast majority of the province was under the false notion it was. This also took focus away from the larger issue of an open and freer market for all in the alcohol industry (craft brewers, craft winemakers, etc.)
May 28, 2014
- Christine Elliott, Progressive Conservative
- Ryan Kelly, NDP
- Ajay Krishnan, Liberal
- Stacey Leadbetter, Green
- Douglas Thom, Freedom Party
The Ontario Libertarian Party issued a press release the other day, boasting that they were “in a position to form a majority government”. Which sounds great, but all it really means is they’re finally running enough candidates that, should they all be elected, the OLP would have enough seats to form a majority. A subtle distinction, I’m sure you’d agree.
However, despite the massed ranks of OLP
sacrificial lambs candidates, they don’t have one in Whitby-Oshawa. This means that instead of wasting my vote by voting Libertarian, I’ll waste my ballot on Douglas Thom of the Freedom Party (“Splitters!“).
Ontario NDP manifesto “reads like it was written at an Annex dinner party that went one bottle of red over the line”
The NDP is having some internal ructions during the ongoing Ontario election campaign, as federal NDP supporters are critical of the provincial party’s approach (and leaking that discontent to the media). The Toronto Star‘s Tim Harper reports:
Tom Mulcair and Andrea Horwath will share a stage next week at the provincial party’s spring gala in Toronto.
Publicly, it will be smiles and camaraderie. Privately, some members of the federal leader’s Ontario caucus and his inner circle are looking at the Horwath campaign with anxiety.
While Mulcair has praised Horwath’s “positive, optimistic” vision, there are concerns here about the messaging in the provincial campaign, the decision to force a vote at this time and the landscape the federal party might be traversing in the politically-key southern Ontario ridings in next year’s federal vote.
There are those who believe Horwath brought down the Liberals a year too late and is now not pushing back strongly enough against a budget that is a political document that cannot be delivered. Others wonder why the campaign lacks any big, fresh ideas.
Specifically, federal New Democrats are watching an attempt by the party to tack toward the middle where the votes lie, while fighting off backbiting from within for allegedly giving up on progressive voters and the causes they hold dear.
Mulcair is expected to steer the party in the same direction next year.
He will go to the polls with the NDP’s best chance for power in its history, campaigning with a mix of “small ball” policies, packaged around expected bold policies on the environment and sustainable development. Federal NDP strategists dismiss the tag of “small ball.” They call issues such as bank fees, gas prices and fees for paper bills “consumer issues” and they believe they engage voters who don’t think of politics in old right-left terms.
They dismiss a critical letter to Horwath from self-described NDP stalwarts — a manifesto that reads like it was written at an Annex dinner party that went one bottle of red over the line — as an attempt to drag the party back to what one called the “Audrey McLaughlin” days, a reference to a campaign two decades ago when the party remained ideologically pure and lost official party status.