Monday, November 12, 2012

Photo Essay: Remembrance Day, Prospect Cemetery, Toronto

Earlscourt Branch 65 of the Royal Canadian Legion held their 85th Annual Sunrise Service at Toronto's Prospect Cemetery.

Cenotaph and honour guard

Wreaths to be placed during the service

Parade from cemetery entrance to the cenotaph

Service attendees

Retiring of the Old Flag

Dr. Norman Gunn dedicating the New Flag

Raising the New Flag

Firing Party

Last Post

Parade leaving Prospect Cemetery

Lest we forget

Monday, October 22, 2012

Who will run? Handicapping the Liberal leadership pool

Never let it be said that Dalton McGuinty lacks mercy. At the same time he is yanking the hay out from under Ontario’s horse-racing industry, he has promised gamblers more casinos where they can relieve themselves of their cash and dignity. And now, by quitting while staring at the same uncertainty as many in the racing industry, McGuinty has given Ontarians an opportunity to rate the Liberals who may succeed him. Here’s a rundown of some of the likely candidates, and the odds that they will saddle up for the starting gate.  With the leadership vote set for January 25th, we should be hearing some announcements pretty soon:

Dwight Duncan: Losing weight and staying out of trouble may be the minimum barrier to entry in Hollywood, but in the McGuinty government it qualifies you for the A-list. The newly svelte finance minister has been a lifelong Liberal operator, going back to his days as a staffer in the Peterson government, and has amassed a lot of friends and favours. When Duncan ran for the leadership in 1996, he participated in an ill-advised CPAC documentary, the highlight of which was a bewildered Duncan being confronted by the shock, anger and disgust of his own supporters after he unexpectedly endorsed Gerard Kennedy. To me, the most embarrassing clip was when he admitted being brought to tears by Herb Gray. In 2012, Duncan will likely run and do very well, assuming he nixes any behind-the-scenes videos. Odds: 1-1

Kathleen Wynne: Wynne first came to the public’s attention fighting Toronto amalgamation with Citizens for Local Democracy. To her credit, she publicly called out McGuinty for proroguing the Legislature when he quit. Wynne had a successful tenure as education minister, thanks to the bags of taxpayer cash that McGuinty handed her to hand to education unions. She will probably come under some pressure to carry the rainbow flag in the leadership race, and if she can see a way to do so without going into debt, probably will. Odds: 3-1

Chris Bentley: Bentley has always reminded me, in appearance and voice, of a character from “Green Acres” called Mr. Haney. Haney was the local salesman/gouger who sold the New York Douglases their farm at an inflated price, and then in subsequent episodes sold them the fixtures and equipment that were originally on the farm, one truckload at a time. This is not unlike Bentley releasing documents about the Liberals’ power plant cancellations, one truckload at a time. Sadly, Bentley isn’t half the salesman that Haney was, and so McGuinty’s resignation could not have come a moment too soon. Nevertheless, the leadership race will need a moderate, somewhat dull, professional white guy to balance Duncan and Wynne (as McGuinty contrasted with Kennedy and Duncan), and Bentley is an obvious choice to fill this role. Odds: 3-1

Gerard Kennedy:  With a longer campaign, Kennedy might have enough time to overcome the facts that (1) he was the kingmaker in the Stephane Dion debacle, (2) he lost his own seat federally, (3) he has no seat now. But the campaign is going to be barely three months long.  Odds:  50-1

Sandra Pupatello: I was surprised to read that Pupatello is considering throwing her stilettos into the ring. I’ll never forget that Pupatello compared former premier Mike Harris to Adolf Hitler, but luckily for her, much of the media and public have forgotten. Unburdened of the government’s baggage since choosing not to run in the 2011, Pupatello could be a serious threat, but running against her fellow Windsorite Dwight Duncan might limit her potential. And if she won and didn’t want to call a general election right away, someone would have to quit so she could run for a seat in a by-election. If she wins against Dwight Duncan, he might be happy to be that guy. Odds: 50-1 

George Smitherman: I spotted Furious George at Toronto’s recent Word on the Street festival, where he was pushing a stroller and looking like any other exhausted parent of young children. Why this is the pinnacle of five decades of gay struggle is beyond me, but then I don’t think women who want to stay at home with their kids for a few years are betraying their sex, so God bless. Smitherman’s baggage from eHealth, Ornge and energy are considerable. Add to this the fact that other Liberals were left holding some of these bags while he took off to run for Toronto mayor, which is not unimportant in an internal party race. His frustrations with unaccountable bureaucrats are understandable, but they are perceived by most outsiders as whining and buck-passing. Smitherman can credibly plead that his kids are too young for him to run for leader, though a return in the next provincial or federal election is not out of the question. Odds: 100-1

Michael Bryant: Bryant was one of stars of the McGuinty cabinet until he had enough of McGuinty and quit, though Bryant’s political skills were rarely in doubt. And you have to have a grudging admiration for a man raised in the wilds of B.C., who comes back from a year at Harvard with the accent of someone who has been summering at Hyannis Port since birth. Bryant recently released a searingly honest biography, detailing his own alcoholism and the tragic life and death of bike courier Darcy Sheppard. Unfortunately, the only Liberals who want a searingly honest leader left for the Greens or NDP years ago. Odds: 250-1