Western Standard

The Shotgun Blog

« “Ottomania” | Main | Paul Stanway, media independence and the Wildrose Alliance »

Tuesday, December 08, 2009


It's not often that you see a man wearing a tartan kilt in Toronto these days. Even less likely are you to find an elected member of the provincial legislature of Ontario doing so. It's a little odd and, of course, very unmulticultural. Multiculturalism, as you'll recall, celebrates all cultures equally, except for the cultures of the British Isles. I digress. The would-be Highland warrior was Bill Murdoch, MPP for Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound. He just needed his claymore, and the pipes a blowin', and the scene would have been Walter Scott perfect. 

The scene, however, was the floor of the provincial legislature at Queen's Park. The honourable member for Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound had just called the Premier of Ontario a "liar." Now Dalton McGuinty gets called a liar about as often as a Toronto driver hits a pothole. One of the hazards of life at the top. More of a hazard for this premier, as his record of broken promises is longer than average. Calling someone a liar, no matter how much evidence you have to support that claim, is considered unparliamentary language. One of those mannerism we acquired from the British. Generally the Red Star, the respectable left-wing paper of record, isn't too keen on stuff we inherited from the British. Things like kilts, individual rights and that old woman whose face is still on the money. 

Propriety is so old fashioned. Unless, of course, the misbehaviour is that of right-wing politicians. In that case the scribblers for the Star become the very embodiment of the Victorian dowager and soap box preacher. The occasion of Mr Murdoch misbehaviour was the refusal of the McGuinty government to hold hearings, outside of Toronto, on the new Harmonized Sales Tax. Things escalated. Things were said. Randy Hillier - last seen contending for the Ontario PC leadership - joined in. Next thing you knew Randy and Bill were staging a two day sit in. The rest of the Tory caucus joined in albeit briefly. The more prim members had an oddly strained look on their face. Had Bill and Randy brought out some moonshine and started belting out "Sweet Home Alabama," the old Red Tory diehards could not have been more uncomfortable. The hicks were at it again. Politics is theatre. Protest means, sometimes, breaking the rules. Nature of the game. The federal Liberals used to get up to all sorts of antics - Remember the Rat Pack? - back in the Mulroney days. Then it was just part of the game. The wave of indignation at Bill and Randy's Excellent Adventure, however, achieved apotheosis with this column from the Star's Jim Coyle:

Heir, as he is, to the legacy of former premier Mike Harris, it's unsettling to many to imagine what a Tim Hudak Ontario might look like – especially since a Hudak PC caucus looks like something right out of Trailer Park Boys, an outfit where yahoos rule and where rules, when inconvenient, are to be defied and mocked.

This week, Hudak did himself considerable harm. He let his party be defined by its least credible and most ridiculous MPPs – bumptious contrarian Bill Murdoch from Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound, and renegade libertarian from eastern Ontario, Randy Hillier.

Sniff. Mr Coyle smells the peasantry. 

Given the wide support already on the record for tax harmonization from Ontario PCs, the caucus's outrage about the Liberal government's proposed harmonized sales tax has always been opportunistic and contrived. This week, it bordered on the obscene.

"Wide support," where exactly? Among the legislature, certainly, because there is a Liberal majority government and MPPs obey the Whip like trained seals. Both opposition parties are against the HST. There is a groundswell of public opposition to what is, rightly, seen as a tax grab. 

It's no great victory for Hudak that his PC party now wears the flushed and foolish faces of Bill Murdoch and Randy Hillier.

They were faces of raving irrationality that any woman abused by her mate would recognize. They were faces of incoherent fulminating that any child terrified by a drunken father would know. They were the faces of inane intransigence with which most beat cops are wearily familiar.

Having tired of outright smears, Mr Coyle drifts comfortably into innuendo. Now, of course, he is NOT saying that Mr Hillier is a wife beating drunk. Nor is he saying that Bill and Randy are petty criminals being taken down by the cops on a late Saturday night. No, that sort of thing would be libel. Something even the Star's formidable legal department would advise for a quiet settlement, and quick and grovelling retraction on page three. It was not enough to say that Hillier and Murdoch behaved inappropriately. It was not enough to say they were acting like children. No, Mr Coyle had to sling mud at people he disagrees with. I bet there have been times in Mr Coyle's life, as with all of us, when he has been very angry. When our faces were those of "raving irrationality that any woman abused by her mate would recognize." That does not make us wife beaters, drunks or criminals. We are human. Politics and histrionics are synonyms. Coyle has been covering the game long enough to know that. His outrage is pure artifice. It is mud slung down from the Press Gallery. Jim Coyle is the real disgrace, even to so contemptible a paper as the Toronto Star. 

UPDATE - After composing the above, I had the distinct displeasure of coming upon another Jim Coyle column on this issue. Among his more fantastical claims, Coyle argues that the Ontario PC Party has lost credibility on Caledonia because of Hillier and Murdoch's protest. The party has lost credibility on Caledonia, for refusing to demand the Premier call in the Army and remove the occupiers, the OPP having failed abysmally in its job of protecting private property. 

Coyle's twisted logic is that because HiIlier and Murdoch violated parliamentary procedure, they cannot now demand the removal of the occupiers from Caledonia. Go read for yourself. The moral equivalence is simply appalling. Hillier and Murdoch staged a two day sit in of the legislature. They are elected MPPs, they have a right to be at Queen's Park. They did not destroy any property, private or state owned. The Caledonia occupation long ago passed from civic disobedience into plain old fashioned theft. 

Posted by Richard Anderson on December 8, 2009 | Permalink


I have 0 interest in Ontario politics, but I have to tell you, he sounds a lot like Heather Mallick. I suspect he's the one with the messed up father.

Posted by: dp | 2009-12-08 8:41:56 AM

I was a little confused by the time I got through your last paragraph as Hillier and Murdoch, I assume, were referred to as "Hiller and Randy" (sic). I agree that Coyle comes across as a pompous ass.

Posted by: John Chittick | 2009-12-08 9:32:44 AM


Suppose to read Hillier and Murdoch. I've fixed it.

Posted by: Publius | 2009-12-08 9:40:41 AM

It's nice to see the catastrophe that is white Ontario decaying more every single day.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2009-12-08 9:43:29 AM

Randy seems the only Ontario Conservative who has any ambition to do anything more than the same old same old, and yes libertarian suits him. Hudak and the rest will be just as ineffective as Harris was. I don't agree with the sit-in (given the Conservatives have no proposals for serious spending cuts and increased spending when in power they have no credibility to oppose the higher taxes to fund that spending) but you cannot make an omelette without breaking some eggs. Being conservative will not bring change and we very much need change.

Posted by: VMS | 2009-12-09 5:35:40 AM

his record of broken promises is longer than average except PM Harper who is stil the leader

Posted by: Nosaint | 2009-12-09 8:31:32 AM

No one believes that Ontario will emerge from this recession the same as it went in. We need to become more competitive.

A report by TD Bank estimates the HST will reduce cost of doing business in Ontario by roughly $5.3 billion and that the majority of these savings will be passed on to customers within the first year. In fact, the majority of items you purchase - 80 percent – will see no tax change at all.

A recent report by economist Jack Mintz confirms that Ontario needs to reform its tax system to create jobs and put Ontario back on its feet. It says, as a result of the HST, within 10 years Ontario would see:
o An estimated 591,000 additional new jobs
o Increased capital investment of $47 billion
o Increased overall annual worker incomes of up to 8.8 per cent, or $29.4billion

We have a choice: we can refuse to fix what’s broken, resign ourselves to the idea that Ontario will be less competitive or we can move forward and get the jobs Ontario needs.

Please visit: http://sites.google.com/site/thetruthaboutthehst/

Posted by: George Keeming | 2009-12-09 12:10:25 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.