Just the facts please - which ones - the real ones or the alternate facts?

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

January 27, 2017



Eric Arthur Blair, better known by his adopted non-de-plume, George Orwell, would be in his element were he alive to witness America’s latest president in action. Like Big Brother out of the Orwellian novel ‘1984’, the Trump presidency has been transitioning the English language towards Newspeak. Among the various intricacies of Newspeak was the construct of ‘Blackwhite’ – “impudently claiming that black is white, in contradiction of the plain facts…and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary”.

Orwell George

George Orwell – his “1984” was ahead of its time. Is it’s time today?

‘Alternative Fact’ is today’s version of Orwell’s Blackwhite. Trump’s lieutenant Kelly Anne Conway, was being questioned on a US talk show over why the Trump administration was so ridiculously insistent that more people attended the inauguration than actually did. She responded their’s were just ‘alternative facts’. But as any reasonable person knows, ‘alternative facts’ are not facts. They are falsehoods – or worse – out and out lies.

Former dragon, and most recent applicant for the job of leader of the federal Conservative Party, Kevin O’Leary has his own version of alternative facts. He recently complained that Ontario trails Michigan in auto investment because “business there enjoys “30% less in tax, no regulations and no carbon tax.”

First of Ontario doesn’t trail. The two jurisdiction have been alternating closely for first place in auto production in North America, though Ontario actually has a stronger five year record. And according to the Premier, Ontario also outpaced Michigan with a recent $2 billion investment in the auto sector.

Kevin olearly - shouting

Kevin O’Leary – he will be heard from – will Canadians listen. His candidacy will tell us more about ourselves than about him.

To claim that an historic industrial state, like Michigan, lacks regulations comparable to those in Ontario, governing everything from the industrial workplace to the environment is just plain nonsense. It’ is true that Michigan hasn’t, nor is likely to have a carbon tax in the near future. Still the combined federal-state corporate taxes there run at close to 40% (38.9%) compared to the combined rate of only 28.5% in Ontario – Ontario’s tax regime is almost 30% lower.

That O’Leary, the investor, lacks a handle on something as basic as corporate tax rates, or was too lazy to look it up, is inexcusable for someone vying to be our future PM. But then maybe he was just making up stuff, hoping nobody would fact-check – or that no one would care. This is Canada so we should hope he is wrong on that account.

O’Leary has also jumped on the Ontario electricity rate bandwagon. It is true that Ontario’s rates have risen to become among the highest in the country but they are close to those in Detroit and far lower than many other jurisdictions south of the border including New York and Boston, where Mr. Wonderful has a second home and must pays the bills – so should know better.

Kevin O'Leary, aka Mr. Wonderful, in New York. (Photograph by Stephanie Noritz)

Kevin O’Leary, aka Mr. Wonderful, in New York. (Photograph by Stephanie Noritz)

Trump may have spun some big whoppers and got away with it, but O’Leary is not Donald Trump, charisma notwithstanding, So when he finds himself onto the next debate platform, it will be his lack of knowledge of the issues, and his willingness to build his campaign on falsehoods, which will cost him the nomination. For if there is anything Canadian voters expect more of their federal leaders than being able to also speak reasonably fluent French, it is intellectual honesty and competence.

After all, running the country is not a game shown, like the Den or the Tank. But if it were, most Conservative voters should say ‘I’m out’ to O’Leary’s pitch. Perhaps it would be best for Mr. O’Leary to stick to the business he understands and where he has been successful, leaving politics to those who can tell the difference between the facts as they are and the alternative facts as he’d like them to be.

kevin o'leary mouth open

Seldom at a loss for words and never shy about getting an opinion out – Keven O’Leary will make the campaign trail interesting.

O’Leary has been supported by the Toronto Sun and has assembled a team, including former premier Mike Harris. His entry into the race will be an interesting diversion for as long as it lasts. In at least one of his open letters to the Premier he raises some legitimate criticisms. Unfortunately those points will be lost in the dust of the bigger picture – the world of his alternative facts.

In the end, if this is the worst damage our Mr. Wonderful can inflict on Kathleen Wynne, she is doing a far better job than her poll numbers would indicate. And ironically by giving her government new credibility, he may have just thrown the Premier a lifeline and another term in office.

Rivers-direct-into-camera1-173x300Ray Rivers writes weekly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was a candidate for provincial office in Burlington in 1995.  He was the founder of the Burlington citizen committee on sustainability at a time when climate warming was a hotly debated subject.     Tweet @rayzrivers

Background links:

Orwell –    Newspeak –    Alternative Facts – 

Wynne-O’Leary –    O’Leary – A Gift –     O’Leary Not Trump –    Ontario Responds –

O’Leary Letter –    O’Leary Letter 2 –   Electricity Prices –

Autos –    Sun Support –

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7 comments to Just the facts please – which ones – the real ones or the alternate facts?

  • David Fenton

    President Trump exists….Just think about that and understand how that came about.
    You are all intelligent and your arguments are well thought out.
    But there it is….He exists.
    The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.
    Winston Churchill.

  • Larry

    Well said Ray

  • Dan Lyons

    I ask myself the following question before coming to judge any incumbent or wannabe candidate. Will I or society be demonstrably quantitatively and qualitatively worse off under their existing leadership, or proposed platform. In the case of Trudeau, Wynne, Liberal etc, I cannot pinpoint a significant correlation between one of their policies, decisions or actions that has demonstrably impacted the quality of life of myself, my family or anyone I know for that matter. A couple percentage point shift in tax dollars from one bucket to another has virtually zero short term impact and no traceable impact on any one individual of more than a few hundred dollars here or there. So, in terms of quantitative impacts, those arguments dont hold much water. Qualitatively on the other hand one can point to specific policies that can and will have a short and long term detrimental impact on the kind of society we are. Our collective consciousness is an aggregate of opinions about how we treat one another. There is a mix in this country which balances in favour of caring for the welfare of our fellow human and a tendency to look out longer term to the benefit of future generations. Folks like Trump and Kevin O and arguably the Conservative ideology it seems are less focussed on the benefit of all and caring for our fellow human in favour of a more inward looking – arguably selfish pursuit of short term wealth and less regard for future generations in favour of the here and now. We need a balance of both, but I would suggest that These two at least are examples of extremes. Maybe Wynne and Trudeau are examples of the opposite extreme, but this commenter has yet to feel a significant impact directly attributable to either. We have it pretty good in this country. Good enough that we can sip a tea in our living rooms whilst duking it out with our words in the comments section of The Gazette.

  • Ignatz Brocklehurst

    For me, the question of comparability about Trump, Trudeau & O’Leary resides in one issue: Would I trust any to handle my lifesavings? The answer to that one is a quick and easy NO! So why trust them with your country? It’s best to be leery about Kevin!
    The answer with Wynne is different. Of the four, although she is the most trustworthy, that has not bought her a magic shield. She has needlessly turned Ontario Hydro into a Niagara-sized Gordian knot. So with Patrick Brown offering no Alexandrian solution, we are left with similar hopeless feelings at both political levels, just as they are south of the border. Woe is us.

  • Well written. Those who would adopt Trumponomics as a model would do well to restudy the Great Depression, also brought to us by a Republican administration. The very near depression brought to us by G.W. Bush & Co (Republican) was averted only through the Democratic imposition of regulations on Wall Street. Yet, in anticipation of the Trumpian repeal of regulation the DOW has gone over 20,000. Probably not many of your readers actually remember 1929, but certainly we cannot pretend ignorance of the early 21st Century, despite the alternative reality we are being told to inhabit.

  • Dale Oliver

    Ray: with respectful opinion, your undeniable and long term, deeply rooted Liberal bias is overshadowing your immense intellect with respect to objective judgement relating to the diatribes from emanating from Wynne, mini Trudeau and O’Leary and thereby your objective ability to compare

  • Steve

    But what happens when Trump lowers business taxes to 15 percent? A whole new ballgame that would make Canada look far less attractive as a continuing enterprise.