Is Watson blocking the haters or silencing dissent?

Should Mayor Jim Watson be able to block Ottawa residents on Twitter – given that his own taxpayer -paid staff sometimes operate the account?
It’s an interesting question.
Given a recent ruling from the United States  that American President Donald Trump shouldn’t be blocking people, the issue has got a little bit more attention.
Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald, a federal judge in New York City, said in her ruling that Trump is violating the U.S. Constitution by preventing certain Americans from viewing his tweets on @realDonaldTrump.
The social media platform, Buchwald said, is a “designated public forum” from which Trump cannot exclude individual plaintiffs. She rejected an argument by the Justice Department that the president had a right to block Twitter followers because of his “associational freedoms.”
City clerk Rick O’Connor told On the City, From the Burbs  recently that city staff are reviewing the city’s standards around politicians and their Twitter accounts. And he says they’ll be coming up with a policy guiding municipal politicians’ activity on Twitter.
And the mayor’s penchant for blocking people who tweet him too frequently or simply oppose his positions – has some Ottawa residents crying foul.
Philippe Denault is just one of those who’ve been blocked by Watson. And he’s not happy about it.
Hard to blame him.
Denault is a part of SOS Vanier, which is fighting the move by the Salvation Army to set up a new shop.
He said he was never nasty with his tweets, just part of a movement concerned about what some say is a mega-shelter headed to Vanier.
And he doesn’t believe that Watson – who is supposed to be representing the entire city – should block any of the residents who pay his salary.
“On top of that, the mayor uses his account for official purposes and, without any other reason than being criticized by people (who sometimes only retweeted or used his twitter handle), he blocks citizens from reading his statements.
“I feel that, in city politics, there is too much personal stuff going on that is mixed up with official duties,” he wrote to On the City, From the Burbs.
Watson has also blocked Matt Muirhead, a frequent critic of the mayor. Muirhead is now running for councillor in Kanata against Watson buddy David Gourlay.
“As a longstanding advocate for my community, it concerns me when a powerful politician, (as with Mr. Watson), cannot accept challenging criticism, nor debate, in a public forum like Twitter. Blocking me is also equivalent to blocking the community of Kanata North, where I have been president of two community associations, representing the voice of the community, and having spoken truth to power for many years.
“If the mayor chooses to speak on Twitter, or anywhere else, people should be allowed access to speak up on legitimate issues of concern. Canada is a society that prides itself on free speech, and government leaders should remain accountable and accessible. Cherry-picking support for council candidates on Twitter, or re-tweeting only words of effusive support, are not the ideal of a democratically elected official. Mr. Watson blocking me (or anyone), from communication, who air thoughtful concerns about the mayor’s decision-making, or other concerns, is troubling.
A government leader stifling debate and criticism (including me, as a candidate for city council) befit an entirely different society altogether—not ours,” Muirhead said.
As Denault pointed out, Watson recently took down his Twitter icon off his city of Ottawa run webpage – perhaps in response to questions by Denault and I.
But other city councillors, like Bay Coun. Mark Taylor, still have the link on their city page.
Taylor told this blog he has, very infrequently, blocked followers – but never simply because of a disagreement over policy.
“All blocked for repetitive abusive tweeting. I don’t block for difference of opinion. I block people who swear and at me and question my character, repeatedly mind you, not just once,” he wrote.
And yes, he does sometimes have his staff do tweeting on hs behalf.
Have to admit, as much as I think Watson should be there on Twitter for all residents – agree with Taylor’s philosophy.
Watson blocks people simply because they clog his feed or disagree with him.
But I don’t think Taylor – on anyone else for that matter – need to put up with abusive language.
I don’t think we should expect Taylor or his staff to put up with abusive lanuage over the phone, and nor should he have to take it through Twitter.
And while I don’t represent a constitueny, that has been my stance as well.
People have said some horrendous things to me. And I’m simply not going to have that kind of language on my feed.
But Watson appears hell bent on blocking opposition. In his perfect world, unanimity rules when he’s at the helm.
It’s only fair to allow someone, even a politician, to block whomever they wish on Twitter if they feel that they’re being threatened or harrased. But elected politicians represent all of their constituents, not only those who voted for them, and it seems inappropriate for a politician to prevent their detractors from speaking out. This problem is magnified when blocking is used to silence members of the press, who by their very profession must often speak critically towards elected officials. Politicians of all stripes commonly do this, Donald Trump is only the most well-known example.
Just one such example in Watson’s case:
After I tweeted a series of tweets critical of Watson’s conduct during council the mayor unfollowed me. Seemed entirely childish. I responded in much the same way – by blocking our good mayor!

Harder Lies and That’s the Truth

The word liar isn’t one journalists use easily. No one should. It’s a strong accusation and needs absolute proof. But yet, it is with absolute confidence and proof, I now am calling Barrhaven Coun. Jan Harder a liar.

Really not sure what happened to the woman known as the mouth who roared, who didn’t give a hoot about political correctness or what others thought about her. She loved the reputation and it was well-deserved. She just called it as it was – detractors be damned. And her constituents loved her for it. How could they not?

But something has changed. She’s smelled power and she loves it. She’s finally on the inside of council after years of looking in from the outside. And for those of us who liked her better as the free-wheeling honest politician, it’s pretty sad. And hard to take. Harder made it clear she was going to support former broadcaster Carol Anne Meehan as a candidate if she entered the race. The two of us talked about it and we both hoped Meehan would enter the world of politics. And when she did, Harder was there as a supporter. Good on her. A lot of politicians shy away from public endorsements of candidates running against their council colleagues – but again – Harder doesn’t usually waste time on those niceties when she believes in something or someone.

And had she signed Meehan’s nomination papers? Yes, she said, she had. Again, good on her. Do what you believe in. But then, things turned ugly. In an interview with Harder the night before Meehan was to announce, I double checked she’d signed the nomination papers. Yes, she had, she confirmed again to me. But when she realized I was writing about it, she flipped out – insisting I keep that little nugget for later – when it would be more impactful. Say what? Not really a big deal in our world, but Harder was desperate that I not write it.

Then word came down she was going to take her name off of the nomination papers. Okay, that’s crazy. What was she hiding? Or maybe, more likely, who was she worried would find out? Couldn’t be Qaqish, but maybe Mayor Jim Watson? Watson doesn’t like Meehan, not at all. And of course, as is very clear if you watch council, Watson can control Qaqish, so he’s pretty crazy about him!

And then the message exchange went from bad to worse.

Told that I would write that she had put her name on and was now saying she was taking it off, here’s what she texted me: “My name was never there.” When I pointed out the obvious, that she had already told me it was there, here’s her texted response: “You will have to prove that. Certainly I will support her candidacy. My name is not on nomination.”

The problem here? Harder was somehow under the mistaken belief the nomination papers weren’t going to be public!
They are in fact, absolutely public. And yes, her name is there endorsing Meehan.

Another name on Meehan’s nomination papers is former city councillor Steve Desroches. But he too declined to talk about his reasons. Can it be Watson is behind his reticence as well, waiving future support or goodies in front of them?

What are these people afraid of? Watson is a bully. I have absolutely no proof he’s the reason behind their reticence, but as a columnist, I’m free to speculate about what I believe. That’s what I believe. And that’s the truth.

Carol Anne Meehan Taking Political Plunge

It’s official.
Carol Anne Meehan, the popular and much loved broadcaster who was beamed into our living rooms for years delivering the news beside Max Keeping, is entering politics.

Meehan told On the City, From the Burbs she will register this morning to
run for city councillor in Gloucester-South Nepean, taking on incumbent Michael Qaqish.

Rumours of Meehan’s entry into politics have been running rampant in recent days. She has decided to become a candidate, believing the ward needs stronger representation than it’s been getting.

It wasn’t an easy decision.
As the single mom of Evan and Elena Etue, 19 and 14 respectively, she needed to feel she could balance the demands of campaigning with being a mom.
“It was a difficult decision. They’re my number one priority. But I talked to them and they’re both behind me on this,” she said.
And of course there’s Gizmo, her 11-year old puppy.

Though perhaps best known for her years at the helm of the CJOH/CTV anchor desk, Meehan is more importantly – in terms of this municipal race – a longtime resident of the area who understands firsthand the issues facing the ward’s residents.

“We’re a really fast growing part of this city. And we have a very diverse population. And I want to be a more present city councillor. I don’t think we’ve been getting that. I see (incumbent Michael Qaqish) as an absentee councillor,” Meehan said.

And as a self-described fiscal conservative, Qaqish’s spending of around $90,000 on advertising and the like – including more than $6,000 of taxpayers’ money plastering his face on bus shelters – absolutely rubbed her the wrong way.

“I really found that a terribly frivolous use of our money,” Meehan said.

“I’m a long time resident of Ottawa and I’ve watched the city change in so many ways. There have been such great improvements, but we’re also seeing problems arise, like increased traffic congestion. And instead of sitting back and complaining about it, I realized I should just try to make a difference.”

Transportation is high on her list of concerns, along with the rise in crime and violence throughout the city.

She knows she has a lot to learn.

“The one thing about being in journalism you always have to ask questions. I’m not going to be shy about it. And I’ll have help as I learn to navigate the process,” she said.

While her candidacy is new, she has some strong support from Barrhaven Coun. Jan Harder, who encouraged her to run.
Harder’s support means a lot to her – and it’s very rare for a sitting city councillor to go against a fellow councillor.

Others already lending their support include former Gloucester-South Nepean councillor Steve Desroches, former senator Marjory LeBreton and former Ottawa city staffer Heather Tessier, along with several local business leaders in the ward.

Along with Qaqish, Zaff Ansari and Irene Mei are also registered in the race. And there’s talk of another entering the race today. Nominations close early this afternoon.

Are Metal Detectors Are Their Way to City Hall?

 

Ottawa City Hall, a strong symbol of the heart of municipal democracy has almost always been welcoming – blissfully open to the public.
That may soon change. Sadly, city staff are now looking at increased security measures, On the City, From the Burbs has learned. Staff are now looking at  everything from metal detectors at Andrew Haydon Hall – where city council takes place – to banning knapsacks and large bags.
Don’t go blaming the politicians on this one.
Blame the world we live in.
Pierre Poirier, the manager of Security and Emergency Management, told On the City, From the Burbs, there are many and varied issues to consider. And city staff are now in the process of looking at all of it. For example, if they ban knapsacks, does that also mean large bags and all purses? Or do they instead check bags. And what happens to the belongings of city staff? None of this is easy, Poirier very rightly pointed out.
“It’s just not as simple as saying no bags,” Poirier said.
“But we do take all of this very seriously.”
That was certainly clear talking to Poirier, in a no-nonsense interview in which he openly explained just some of the considerations staff have to take into account. For example, if a decision is ultimately made to increase security at council, do they do the same for committee meetings, located in a different part of city hall?
At the most recent city hall council meeting, a group of unhappy constituents interrupted council. A handful of them stood up, yelling their points out – and holding placards. For starters, placards aren’t allowed into council. How they got through the doors of council isn’t entirely clear.
Shouldn’t have happened.
But when the group stood up and began yelling and holding their signs, they were asked to stop. They didn’t budge. And frankly, while not every group listens to requests to hold their applause or stop profanities – I don’t quite remember a similar occasion. Or maybe, I’m just more attune to the dangers this world now has for us.
Eventually, a senior female city staffer went up to talk to the group, to advise them to follow the rules. Apparently, this is part of the city’s protocol – believing a woman is considered less threatening. She said her piece, but the group didn’t budge. Thankfully, before anyone else had to speak to the group, they did leave – peacefully.
But then a group of onlookers a couple of rows back from where the protesters had been sitting noticed a knapsack had been left behind. A few years ago, pretty sure none of us would have thought anything about it. Now, having seen what the world has brought us, it was frankly worrisome.
It’s all sad, but it’s our new reality.
City clerk Rick O’Connor told On the City, From the Burbs, he wasn’t aware of the knapsack being left behind. But he added, the entire incident would be looked at by city staff.

Dear Jim

 

Jim,
(aka – Mayor Jim Watson)
It was a bit of a shock to receive your recent letter. Much appreciated, though I have to admit it really did take me by surprise. Of late, after decades of reporting on you, you’ve recently decided to freeze me out. I can’t get you or your office to even acknowledge my emails – let alone respond to them. Knowing you as I do, of course, I shouldn’t be surprised. You don’t like negative press.
You don’t like criticism, you turn real nasty in the face of it. Just ask College Coun. Rick Chiarelli who dared to criticize your budget.
Is it just a coincidence that your former assistant Ryan Kennery is now running against him? Don’t think so.
(And certainly, that’s not to disparage the fine qualifications of Kennery.) Chiarelli of course is just one in a long list of people you’ve turned on over the years.
It’s really just an endless list of people you seem to enjoy freezing out because they disagree with you or criticize you. Of course, you don’t generally freeze out people you perceive are in a position to help you or who could really hurt you. You put up with them. Of course, you keep files on most everyone. I learned from you that keeping emails is smart thing to do.
You used to say I was tough but fair and one of the few reporters who would listen to reason. You’re right. I am. But now, being simply a blogger in your eyes, there’s no longer any reason for you to pretend, is there? It’s really part of your modus operandi. You don’t hesitate to take an opportunity to diss me, to criticize me, to malign my blog.
We could certainly ask popular blogger Ken Gray what it’s like to be on the outside of your circle, couldn’t we? Under you, the city even tried to deny him access to routine emails the city sends out. How paranoid of you!
Longtime, somewhat friendly relationships, can be a tricky thing when they’re between a politician and reporter. As we’ve often talked about the first time I quoted you was when I was news editor of Carleton University’s student newspaper The Charlatan. I was the news editor, you were president of the Rideau River Residence Association.
You suggested you wouldn’t make a very good politician! But you of course were always a politician, even back then.
All to say, our relationship goes way back. I distinctly recall a phone call we once had several years ago where I explained to you – that as a reporter – I don’t call any politician a friend. You said you considered me a friend. But here’s the truth. I didn’t believe you. And your recent cold shoulder is more than proof I was right.
So Mayor Watson, again, thank you for your letter.
And as much as a “behind-the-scenes look at Team Watson’s new Campaign Office” sounds fascinating, I won’t be able to make it.
Thanks anyway,
Sue

Buck-passing and Secrets Revealed

 

It’s amusingly pathetic to see city councillors react in horror and disbelief at the recent findings of an audit into the Springhill dump.
Their outrage is certainly misplaced.
In fact, it’s much more than that – it’s buckpassing at its very worst.

Certainly, there appears to been enough blame to go around. City staff, city politicians, Tomlinson, the Ministry of the Environment, at any time – any one of these could have stepped up and done something. There are any number of problems, lack of documentation, lack of clarity in their roles, bad bookkeeping, bad feelings – the list goes on about the problems with the contract between the city and Tomlinson.

Back in 2012, then auditor general Alain Lalonde was the first to release an audit of the Springhill dump.
That audit, which for some reason still remains ‘confidential’, was obtained by On the City, From the Burbs and reveals many of the same problems and similar recommendations to the one released this week.

Back then, members of the audit committee met on Nov. 29, 2012 – close enough to call it six years ago – to talk about the just-released Springhill dump audit. With legal issues swirling around them, committee members decided to defer the issue until the legal issues surrounding the relationship between the city and Tomlinson – which runs the dump – were resolved.

Who moved the motion to defer? That’s no other than Kanata Coun. Alan Hubley who did his blustery best this week – in his new role as audit chair – to huff and puff and insist he’s not going to take it anymore.

Big words.
Just too bad it’s all false bravado and buck-passing.

Here’s the truth where Hubley is concerned.
Hubley was a member of the 2010 audit committee – charged with dealing with the 2011 audit, and more recently, became the new chair of the audit committee.

He’s known about the problems for years, has been in a unique position to address them, yet has done nothing. And now, he acts like a tough little man ready to rumble.

Pathetic.

He’s not alone. West Carleton-March Coun. Eli El-Chantiry raised his serious concerns this week, in much the same way he did at the 2012 audit meeting. And Osgooge Coun. George Darouze? Where’s he been? This dump is in his ward and he is now a member of the audit committee.

City staff? As damning as some of AG Ken Hughes’ comments directed at the bureaucracy were, frankly, they got off lightly.

As it turns out, according to the audit released this week by Hughes, the problems surrounding the dump are almost as high as the dump itself – and sadly have been around for years. Here’s a little bit of what the 2011 recommended from the confidential report obtained by On the City, From the Burbs.

Recommendation No. 2 in the 2011 audit: That the City ensures that it is proactive in contract oversight and dispute management by monitoring contracts on a regular basis. In their response, city management concurred, saying it is proactive in contact oversight in dispute management by monitoring contracts on a regular basis.

In hindsight, with the full knowledge of the 2018 audit, the city’s response to recommendation number three on the 2011 audit is pretty much gobsmacking: “That when the city has won any aspects of an arbitration, it proceeds without delay in order to ensure that the benefits are achieved in a timely fashion.”

Sure, no problem replied the staff, agreeing with the recommendation – but then adding several caveats to that.

That clearly didn’t happen. And you have to begin questioning the value of audits if city staff simply provide lip service to the audit recommendations. Recommendation number four has the city manager regularly updating council on progress on outstanding issues between Tomlinson and the city. Not so much, but would have been very helpful.

All solid recommendations which appear, given the most recent audit, not to have been taken into consideration.

The dismal relationship between the city and Tomlinson Group over the operations of the Springhill landfill compelled Hughes to suggest city bosses consider freezing the company out of future contract opportunities.

“We’ve never taken a step like this and made a recommendation this severe, this important,” Hughes told the media on Thursday after tabling his damning audit of the Springhill contract. “But given the relationship that existed between the city and Tomlinson, we feel that it’s important that the city evaluate their relationship with Tomlinson based on the fact of their behaviour during the course of this contract.”

The landfill is just one of the contracts Tomlinson has with the city, in fact, has more than $250 million in contracts with the city.

Tomlinson couldn’t be reached for comment.

Keep in mind the first audit was done in 2011. What does that tell you? Yes, there were arbitration issues going on, doesn’t mean the city couldn’t have attempted to forge ahead with developing a better relationship to protect the city.

Once again, your tax dollars at work – or not.

Melnyk Should Go – The World According to Alfie

The future of a successful Ottawa Senators lies with a new team owner.
That, according to former Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson is what he and Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson collectively believe in. Who knew Watson and Alfredsson were such good buddies?
Alfredsson was the “surprise” guest at Sunday’s campaign kickoff for Watson – offering his support as the mayor seeks a third term in office. Turns out – according to Alfredsson – both he and Watson are hoping the Ottawa Senators get a new team owner – and can say goodbye to its present owner Eugene Melnyk.
Alfredsson made the admission in an interview with On the City, From the Burbs at Watson’s campaign kickoff.
“We’ve talked a lot, we’ve talked about the future of the Senators and of its ownership and we agree,” he said.
And just what do they agree on?
“We hope we get a new owner,” the former captain said.
Small wonder that behind closed doors it appears Watson and Alfredsson have hoped for a new owner – much of the rest of the city has been doing the same for quite some time now. Few will blame Watson or Alfredsson for hoping for someone better for Ottawa. Though of course, Watson is trying to mend a bad relationship with Melnyk, so this isn’t something he’d be happy about getting out.
Perhaps after seeing my eyes bulge out, Alfredsson realized he might have said too much. Well, guess that all depends on your point of view. Melnyk doesn’t have a lot of fans these days. He seems to delight in crying wolf and the citizens of this lovely city are tired of it. He’s threatened to take the team and go elsewhere. He’s insisted for years he can’t afford to keep the team, that he needs a bigger venue to attract more fans in the stands. And then, when he is part of a winning bid to redevelop Lebreton Flats and build a better arena – something he said he desperately needed – he began to backtrack. Maybe he wouldn’t move the team, maybe the team should just stay in Kanata. Seems he loves to threaten. Ottawans, not so much.
]And when Melnyk realized his own lack of popularity was hitting near bottom, he went on what appeared to be a public relations tour to win back Ottawa fans. Didn’t he start that in Toronto?
Nice.
Back to my bulging eyes. After admitting both he and Watson are hoping for a new owner, Alfredsson said the comment was off-the-record. Frankly, I was taken off guard. In the world of off-the-record, the terms of the interview are agreed upon before anything begins.
As a columnist, I go off-the-record all the time. It’s key to being a columnist, to get an understanding of what’s really going on, of hearing the truth without the person being interviewed in fear of being reported on. But you can’t change the rules of the game part way through an interview.
Watson of course is well aware of the rules and has an understanding of what he can and can’t say and when he can do that. He and I have gone off -the-record countless times. No surprise that when asked about his alleged desire to see a new owner, Watson did his best tap dance. He didn’t let himself be pinned down about whether he’d actually shared that with Alfredsson and he would only say he had no say about who the owner is – but would do what he could to see a new NHL arena at Lebreton Flats.
Then Watson said Alfredsson told him he didn’t know he was talking to a reporter. Well, that’s hard to believe. If Alfredsson, whom I’ve interviewed several times, didn’t know I was a reporter, why would he have suggested after the interview his comments were off the record? Don’t buy it. But it really does’t matter. In the world of social media, anyone and everyone has access to getting the truth out – whether it’s through standard or social media. And the truth is, Alfredsson and Watson are right. For everyone’s sake, let’s hope the Ottawa Senators get a new owner.
Former Ottawa mayor Jim Durrell was on hand to support Watson’s bid for re-election. Told Alfredsson said both he and the mayor were hoping for a new team leader, Durrell’s response was typically to the point.
“Everybody does.”
And there’s the truth.

Don’t Want to Vote, Then Don’t

Is it a privilege or an obligation to vote?
It’s an interesting debate and one that has the knickers of some Facebook users in a knot.
When former television broadcaster Ken Evraire took to Facebook recently to say he wasn’t going to vote this upcoming provincial election, the floodgates opened up an intense debate.
“It’s gotten to the point that I won’t vote for anyone, be it Liberal, PC or NDP. I simply do not trust any of the candidates. I know I will have people tell me that I then become part of the problem. Fact is, I don’t think any of them represent a solution,” Evraire wrote recently.
“WELL THEN, AS A CANADIAN CITIZEN WHOSE GRANDFATHERS WENT TO WAR, PROTECTING OUR WAY OF LIFE, YOU SIR ARE A TYPICAL WHINER, WHO COMPLAINS ABOUT EVERYTHING VIA SOCIAL MEDIA, BUT COPS OUT WHEN YOU HAVE A VALID OPPORTUNITY TO CHANGE WHAT YOU WHINE ABOUT, SO IN FUTURE kwitcherbitchin!!!,” posted Jim Lalonde, clearly not happy!
One of the next posted entries from Juan Carlos Noria, who did give me a chuckle,  ‘Why caps Jim? You like to scream?”
“HELL YEAH, SIT ON YOUR LAZY ARSES, CLAIM WELFARE, SIT BACK N SAY GOTTA LOVE TRUDOPE, HE FEEDS US, CLOTHES US, YOU ASS, IT IS MY TAX DOLLARS THAT SUPPORT BYOR LAZY ARSES,” Lalonde continued.
Not sure Facebook brings out the best in Lalonde!
Clearly Evraire wasn’t phased by Lalonde’s caps!
“Your solution is to vote for someone for the sake of voting to say I participated. Bring me viable candidates. Bring me less spin. Bring me a leader who hasn’t lost touch with anything she originally believed in. (Wynne),” Evraire responded.
Lalonde wasn’t the only one letting have Evraire have it.
“Disappointed you’d say this! I’m sure you understand that a HUGE part of the problem is voter apathy. Why would you want to contribute to that???” asked Sally Thomas.
“Not voting is not the answer.We only have one time to make a change.That is on election day.More people need to show up and vote,” Rich Bowie wrote.
Bob Richer:  “Are you kidding me??? Many people in other countries die just attempting to vote! Don’t disrespect this right and privilege that we have in this country. Don’t let voter apathy take over!!!
Frankly, I just can’t believe – and have seen no reason to waiver from my opinion – that the men and women who fought for our freedom – did so to force us to vote. They fought for freedom, not obligatory, sometimes ignorant voting. It’s our right to vote, to feel forced is just wrong.
Why should someone who hasn’t educated themselves on the issues or the candidates; who doesn’t see anyone on the political front they believe in enough to have to vote?
“iF HE DOES NOT VOTE, WHO CARES, BUT HE FORFEITS HIS RIGHT TO BITCH N WHINE IN FUTURE,” the angry Lalonde wrote.
Those this is Lalonde not caring? Hate to read his rage when he does!
And I couldn’t disagree more.
We all have the right to protest decisions, actions, taxes and all of their ramifications. Not voting doesn’t take away our right to be a citizen of this city, this province or our country. And voting when you don’t know the issues or don’t like choices is just ridiculous.
I’m not alone.
‘”I would say your grandfathers went to war to fight for our freedoms. Be it free to vote for any candidate or free not to vote at all,” Tim Dunn wrote.
And this from Warren Andrew: “Our democratic duty is to be aware and participate in our democracy. Taking a step not to vote is much different then not caring. I applaud his decision if he doesnt feel any of the platforms or candidates appeal to the values and principles of he and his loved ones.”
Perhaps the best Facebook posting came from Jeff Morris, who didn’t let himself get drawn into a somewhat ugly debate
“I’m voting for ReMax. If you drive around Barrhaven they have the most signs.”

Yes, the haters are going to hate

 

If you’ve been reading Twitter lately, you’ll see I messed up. Big time.
And as such, I’m being vilified on Twitter as a bully, as someone who doesn’t care about first responders and a big part of the reason people don’t feel comfortable opening up about their mental health.
In a tweet, I suggested Innes Coun. Jody Mitic might consider not taking a city paycheque given that he hasn’t been feeling up to the job.

Unfortunately, it’s not the first time in recent weeks I’ve let Twitter get the better of me.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote what I thought was a light-hearted tweet and ended up hurting someone I care a lot about. That’s all on me, though this time the repercussions are far more serious.

I can’t keep up with the tweets telling me what an insensitive idiot I am, so will try to address some of the issues here.

Here’s the thing. Mitic bravely came forward with his mental health issues and acknowledged he wasn’t going to seek re-election because he needed to take care of himself. And that is what I hope for him. So in my awkwardly worded tweet, I wasn’t trying to suggest in any way that people struggling with depression should lose their livelihood. That’s ridiculous.

But as anyone who has an illness, visible or silent, there are avenues to continue to get paid while acknowledging your health is your priority. It seemed to me Mitic shouldn’t be worried about his job as a city councillor because he clearly has acknowledged he needs time for himself and his family. His health is the priority here. And he could take care of himself and ensure there’s someone available to take care of Innes ward voters.
I wrote a tweet in haste – that didn’t at all convey how I feel. Now I know the haters will say I’m back-pedalling. I can live with that and don’t much care.
Actually, I don’t care at all.
(Think I feel a Taylor Swift song coming on.)

What I do care about are the accusations that I don’t care about first responders. That’s a lie. My late brother Bill Sherring was the proudest firefighter I have ever known. He saw things he couldn’t block from his mind or his heart. He had people die in his arms and couldn’t deal with the images, the guilt or the heartache.
And through him and my work as a reporter, I’ve met countless firefighters, police officers and paramedics who put their lives in danger on an almost daily basis and sometimes struggle with what’s out there. They do a job I could never perform and they have my undying respect and thanks.

Some people choose to go public with their mental health issues, like Mitic did. That’s not a route I’ve chosen. But again I won’t sit quietly by with people saying I don’t know what I’m talking about. I do.

Of course, the irony of my situation isn’t lost on me. A couple of weeks ago I wrote a column directed at Mitic advising him that social media isn’t for the faint of heart.
When I write a tweet that many find offensive, I’m fair game. And Mitic and lots of his supporters let me have it. That’s how social media works. If you don’t like it, stay off of it.

But as I gave Mitic the opportunity to have his say about the negative comments written about him following his Facebook posting, I get mine.

“I Like You, You’re White”

 

“I like you. You’re white.”

That was just one of the ringing endorsements I received on the campaign trail!
The somewhat startling observation came from a lovely older woman at a local seniors’ residence. She was right of course, I am white.

In the 2014 municipal election, I decided to throw my hat into the ring.

It was a wonderful experience and I don’t regret a minute of it, save for losing, which as it turns out is a lot harder than I anticipated. I have to admit, despite my years of covering municipal politics, I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into.

With Gloucester-South Nepean Coun. Steve Desroches honouring his commitment to only serve two terms, (imagine that) and as such leaving the ward without an incumbent, I felt the timing was right. After observing city politics for a couple of decades, I thought it was time to put myself on the election line.

I’d seen enough craziness and plenty of reckless spending and I thought I could make a real difference.
And so with so many fabulous people offering their support to help me, I registered to run in a neighbourhood I’d spent much of my life in – volunteered in – raised my family in.

On Tuesday, candidates wanting to run in the 2018 municipal election ran register as well. And only then can they start raising money and spending it in their pursuit of elected office.

I have nothing but total respect for anyone willing to put their name on the line to be judged by the electorate. It’s much harder than I imagined and far more rewarding than I ever anticipated.

As the campaign heats up, I’ll be blogging from time to time about my own experiences. And yes, those stories you may have heard about people answering the door half-naked, all true! I will of course also be covering the campaign and some of the more interesting municipal candidates out there.

And while I can now empathize with the difficulties of being on the campaign trail, that doesn’t mean I won’t ask the hard questions of those seeking to represent us.