Beyonce – Take Two


So it turns out a dancing Beyonce with her fabulous body on display in sexy stockings isn’t the right image for Elections Ottawa to encourage women to work for Elections Ottawa.

As On the City, From the Burbs reported on Sunday, two entrepreneurial city employees, described as young women working the National Women’s Show, improvised with Queen B – changing the lyrics to Put a Ring On It – to attempt to encourage fellow millennials to work for Elections Ottawa.
And then all hell broke loose at the city.
“The tweet was taken down, it was completely inappropriate. There were two employees who thought it was a good idea. We apologize to any one who was offended,” Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said.
Well, there’s that half-hearted apology again.

For sure, not everyone is going to find the tweets as offensive as I do; or as offensive as someone like Gloucester-Southgate Coun. Diane Deans does. But surely the apology shouldn’t be qualified.
“Well, the reality is these two employees thought it was a good idea to try to spice up the campaign. Obviously, I don’t think that representation of the city is a good idea and the offensive tweet was taken down,” said Watson.
The mayor said when he first saw the tweets, he didn’t quite understand the message.
“Well, at first I just glanced at it. I didn’t know it was Beyonce, but I knew it was inappropriate. And there was a whole lot of talk about polls, so I had poll dancing in my mind which I thought was in bad taste. I think they’ll be much more careful in the future and I was surprised it was thought that would be a good idea to attract millennials,” the mayor added.

Barrhaven Coun. Jan Harder was bang on when she said aside from the bad messaging was the fact that the two young women had authority to tweet on behalf of the city.
“That is astonishing to me. This city is well known for its caution in communicating, everything has to be researched. It is very labour intensive and to have relatively new people (tweeting) well that’s absolutely flabbergasting,” Harder said.
“I cannot believe their judgment was so off and once again, it reflects poorly on a city working really hard to do good things, it’s a shame. We’ve been talking about the need for a (female) lens. And when you look at this kind of decision, seems you really need to have that.”

Cumberland Coun. Stephen Blais admitted he couldn’t make sense of the message, using Beyonce in her skin tight outfit and switching up the words to her song Put a Ring on It as a way to encourage women to work for Elections Ottawa.
“It made no sense, I’m still having such a hard time understanding what it was thought that would do. It’s just a head shaker,” Blais said.

Deans, who on Sunday had questioned whether the employees should be terminated, told On the City, From the Burbs she was satisfied the employees had been dealt with properly – and was assured nothing like this would happen again.
“I have to presume they won’t be doing any more tweeting,” she added.


Want women involved in elections, Put a Ring On It

Ottawa does want women in municipal election, here’s Beyonce proof.

So despite Mayor Jim Watson’s protestations to the contrary, turns out the city of Ottawa does want to encourage women to participate in this year’s municipal election. Just not how you might have hoped. The city isn’t actually encouraging women to run for office, instead seems Ottawa is spending our tax dollars to encourage women to get their Beyonce on, slip into a Danskin and head to the elections office singing Put a Ring on It.

Can’t make this stuff up folks. And wouldn’t if I could. This is apparently how the city feels about women.

On Sunday, the city’s elections office under the Elections Ottawa twitter handle @ottawavote sent out a couple of incredibly demeaning and inappropriate tweets referencing Beyonce in her skin-tight bodysuit where she belts out Put a Ring On It to call on women to work this election.

Apparently keeping women behind the scenes is far more important than getting women to run for office.
Unbelievable? Absolutely. But true. The tweets were deleted before many got a chance to read them, but sadly the damage has been done. On the City, From the Burbs received emails showing screen shots of the tweets and immediately phoned
Gloucester-Southgate Coun. Diane Deans, a strong feminist, for her reaction.

But the tweets are so incredibly crazy, so absolutely offensive to women, Deans dismissed them outright, saying she simply didn’t believe they were legitimate. It wasn’t until this blog received an email from Tyler Cox, the city’s manager of legislative services, that Deans was convinced of the tweets’ validity.

“The City of Ottawa’s Twitter Elections account, @ottawavote, posted a Tweet during the course of the weekend that did not reflect its mandate and values.
“City representatives have since made the decision to remove the Tweet, and would like to offer their apologies to those who may have found it inappropriate,” Cox’s email read.
Frankly, hate apologies like this that really aren’t an apology at all. Surely, everyone found the tweets inappropriate. Suggesting the city offer an apology IF we found them inappropriate is offensive as well.
And Cox, who’s in charge of Elections Ottawa, should know that. Doesn’t he find the tweets inappropriate?

Convinced the tweets were legitimate, Deans could still barely respond.
“I don’t understand what possible reason there could be for the elections office to tweet something like that. I’m dumbfounded, it’s mind boggling to me, it’s so inappropriate.” Deans said, struggling for her words.
(And if you know Deans, that doesn’t happen often!)
“I’m honestly, I’m so dumbfounded I don’t even know what to say, it’s so wildly offensive and I don’t understand its relevance to the election. Of course it’s offensive, it’s completely inappropriate and I think we need a greater explanation how this happened and if (the tweeters) are still in the employment of the city,” Deans said, adding that it seems abundantly clear her call for a gender lens at the city is absolutely needed.

“To encourage women to work for the Elections Office with dancing Barbies, that is just mind boggling and to say if anyone was offended, I’m sorry, you have to go farther than that, have to say we will ensure something like this never happens again,” she said.

Aside from the tweet with a picture of Beyonce in her Put a Ring On It outfit, another tweet changes up the words of Put a Ring On It.

All the Women’s Show ladies.
All the Women’s Show ladies.
All the Women’s Show ladies.
All the Women’s Show ladies.
Now put your hands up.
Visit the Elections Office staff at the National Women’s Show Shaw Centre #werk #ottcity

Unclear here whether they’re referencing the election polls or those used by strippers.
And no word on whether the tweeter(s) doesn’t know how to spell work or perhaps it’s a play on the word twerk, which is equally as likely.

The city needs to explain this mess. And it needs to do better. Much better.


Mitic Feels the Wrath of Social Media


Let’s face it.
Social media is not for the faint of heart.
It’s something Innes Coun. Jody Mitic learned that the hard way on the weekend.
Mitic was on the receiving end of some nasty comments on Facebook after he posted a picture with his girlfriend and former staffer Kelley Shields: “Troops! Meet my girl Kelley. She’s my best friend. #truelove #bestfriends”

Is it anyone’s business that our politicians have affairs, that they cheat on their spouse? Still wrestling about that. But when a politician takes to social media and makes the relationship public, well, that’s a different thing. The public is then free to write anything or everything. And they did, some offering their support to Mitic, wishing for his happiness; just as many had scathing comments for Mitic, accusing him of leaving the woman who had stood by his side and hurting her by going public. Note that Mitic has been busy deleting many of the posts. And Mitic’s ex Alannah Gilmore weighed in too, well…Facebook became a free for all.

What Mitic has never accepted is that as an elected official, the rules are different for him. He hates that, doesn’t seem to really understand it and doesn’t react well when it happens. When I tweeted that I was going to be writing about the Facebook controversy, Mitic didn’t take it well.

“What the f..k are you doing?” he asked me through a direct message.
To be fair, Mitic apologized twice afterward for his language.

Mucking about politicians’ personal lives generally isn’t something news journalists engage in. But when the private lives of politicians are made public by the politician themselves, the rules change. For sure, he’s free to write what he wants, so is the general public and so am I. And yes, lots will have their own opinions about all of us.

In an interview with On the City, From the Burbs, Mitic said he didn’t understand why posting a picture of himself and Kelley was anyone’s business. Well, clearly, Mitic put it on Facebook so he must presume it’s of some public interest.

According to Mitic, he and Gilmore separated in the fall of 2016.
Shields worked on his election campaign and then in his office. Mitic said the affair was discovered during the campaign and wasn’t ongoing when she came to work in his office. She was somehow later moved into the city bureaucracy after Gilmore protested to her husband about his former mistress working in his office. This is all according to Mitic, Gilmore did’t return may calls. Don’t blame her. Since yesterday, she has protected her tweets so they’re no longer accessible to the public.

How and why the city gave Shields a job in the city’s bureaucracy is a story I don’t quite understand. And Mitic’s explanation is troublesome. Surely our tax dollars shouldn’t be used to give someone a job because a city councillor had been having an affair with them.

Mitic seems to take some sort of joy in not abiding by the usual rules that most of us accept. And yes, there are plenty of people who admire him for that. I’m not one of them.

Mitic of course recently announced he wouldn’t be seeking a second term on council, having gone public with his battle with both depression and alcoholism. In making the announcement, he said he had to take care of himself and spend time with his family.

And for those of you who are Mitic admirers, feel free, as you always do, to point out that I’ll never in my life do anything for this country anywhere close to the magnitude of what Mitic has done. Fine. You’re right.

But for a city councillor, for a man with children, for a man whose ex-wife clearly has carried him through some terrible times and is still clearly hurting, really don’t understand the need to take to Facebook.

And yes, there are his children, who can access social media as easily as the rest of us.

Here are some of the tweets written by Gilmore.

“Hilarious, I’m asked to be discreet, but he makes it public. I guess he doesn’t want the truth to come out first. So many lies, cheating so much pain caused. But who cares as long as they are happy right.
“Keep pushing her in my face,” wrote Gilmore.
“I have never been so hurt and so lost in my life.”

Mitic said a lot of other things about the mother of his children, things I told him he shouldn’t be telling a reporter.
“I thought we were just talking,” he responded.
Yes, that’s what an interview is, I reminded him – along with assurances I wouldn’t write some of the more unsavoury things he’d said.
For the record, he also said some lovely things relating to her professional life.

Clearly, Mitic has struggled during his time as a city councillor. This won’t help.

“I have not ever denied I’m a f…k up,” Mitic told On the City, From the Burbs.
“I’m not rubbing anything in anyone’s face. I live my life and I try to let other people live theirs.
“Kelley and I are best friends, we’re madly in love and we’ll be just fine.”



The Pain of Losing a Life


When you find out you’re having a baby, your whole world seems to change instantly.

At least, it did for me.

You start looking ahead at the world with your child in it. When you think of the days and months in front of you — you think of your child with you, summer holidays, Christmas, family get-togethers, life with your child becomes very real long before your child enters this world.

I was covering a mayoral election at the time of my first pregnancy, Nancy Smith versus Jacquelin Holzman in the early 90s. I was working long hours at the Sun and loving it. The day immediately following the election, after being up half the night, I went to what I thought was going to be a routine appointment with my obstetrician. I was about four months along and was so nonchalant about the appointment, it never even occurred to me to even ask my then-husband to attend. But I was beyond excited (though feeling a little guilty I hadn’t thought to ask my husband to attend) when the doctor said we were going to listen to the heartbeat.

And then there was silence.
Horrible, horrible silence.

At 58 years of age, there’s lots of things I’ve forgotten. That morning isn’t one of them. I can still remember the doctor telling me that there were parts of his job that were very difficult. And this was one of them. Then he told me the harsh reality that I could barely comprehend, that I heard through the confusing fog around me.

My baby had died.
My baby had died inside of me without me even having any idea there was something wrong.

The guilt was tremendous, fearing my long hours of work had hurt the child I was carrying. The doctor called it a missed abortion, a term I hated then and still do now. It’s described as the fetus dying, but a miscarriage hasn’t occurred.

I’m in no way suggesting my pain is the same as the Karlssons. Everyone’s experiences are different and you can’t compare pain. But I do know that losing a child can be devastating. And when I lost the baby inside me, there was nothing anyone could say that was the least bit comforting to me, some of it in many ways was hurtful – though I knew the love and caring was true.

It’s God’s way, it was meant to be, you’ll have another child.

Just words. I’d lost a child who was very real to me. And though just a few months old inside my body, my child had taken on a life. And my life had started revolving around this unborn child.

Like the rest of this city and surely much farther geographically than that, my heart is breaking for Erik and Melinda Karlsson.
And this special couple is having to deal with their grief so very publicly, in a way I can’t even begin to imagine. That they understand the love of this city, so much so that they shared the picture of their stillborn son Axel’s tiny feet — amazing.

Ottawa can be such a caring society, we embrace the Karlssons, a couple most of us don’t even know. And we embrace them in their good times and in this very incredibly sad time.

Their pain is very personal, very private and there’s nothing anyone can say that will help at this point. It’s a grieving period that not all the sage words in the world can help.


Using Our Money For Re-election


So it seems Gloucester-South Nepean Coun. Michael Qaqish was so proud of saving taxpayers almost $7,000 by returning his allowed gas allowance, he just had to record his goodness by having a photo taken with a giant-sized cheque.
Sure would be too bad to save the taxpayers’ money and not have them notice, now wouldn’t it?
Qaqish has a bit of reputation for being a photo op hog.
This is just another example.
But here’s the thing. Qaqish spent $35 on the giant cheque!
Now of course, in the scheme of Qaqish’s spending, the $35 is just a drop in the taxpayers’ bucket.
But the optics are just all wrong. Using our money to promote himself is simply distasteful – and wrong.
And it’s bound to make taxpayers wonder if he’s returning the gas allowance because he believes it’s the right thing to do or if he’s just trying to curry favour with his residents.
(And as I always do, need to point out I ran against Qaqish in the last 2014 election, he won, I lost.)
Qaqish’s crazy spending of our tax dollars is outlined in a story by the CBCs municipal analyst Joanne Chianello.
Only thing wrong with the article is that I didn’t write it first!

I’ve long paid attention to excessive spending of our money by city councillors. And I’ve written about it often.
“As the city’s sports commissioner, (Innes Coun. Jody) Mitic ordered up a four-year supply of vitamins worth more than $1,000 — maybe to be used with the $300-plus protein he bought to make shakes for any visitor dropping by his office,” I wrote while working for the Sun.

City staff took issue with the purchasing and the money for the vitamins was reimbursed to taxpayers.

Mitic also spruced the office up by buying a new refrigerator, two televisions and a $200 Cuisinart coffee machine.
He also charged a night at the Sheraton Hotel, just minutes away from Ottawa City Hall — then reimbursed the city for the $237 bill he’d put on his city credit card.
Mitic said the entire thing was a misunderstanding, that he’d had a busy day, had an evening event — and so asked hotel staff for a quiet place to take off his prosthetic legs and rest for half an hour — but didn’t realize he was getting charged for the night. He reimbursed the amount.
Mitic isn’t the only city councillor whose expenses have been questioned by city staff.
And councillors’ ability to make charitable donations with our money makes me absolutely crazy.

Very important to point out that Qaqish does, from time to time, bill taxpayers for gas when he’s using someone else’s car.
Transparency, all important.
No photo op to go with that little piece of news.
Kitchissippi Coun. Jeff Leiper also decided not to take the car allowance, but sure don’t remember him posing for a photo op to publicize that.

Certainly, I was but one of Qaqish’s residents who would drive by the enormous bus shelter ads plastered with a ‘ginormous’ picture of the councillor. The Gloucester-South Nepean councillor has spent more than $6,500 to decorate the shelter with his face.
And in fact, he spent more than $90,000 on advertising and promotional items – more than three times the median of any other councillor according to the CBC, even more than the mayor who has a far greater budget and represents the entire city.

Qaqish isn’t stupid. He wants to get re-elected. He’s already out canvassing. And he’s able to use our money in pursuit of re-election.
How crazy is that?
In explaining his spending habits to Chianello, Qaqish is quoted as saying “as a new councillor, not everybody knows who I am.”
And that’s our fault?
Sadly, instead of finding ways to acquaint himself with his residents, Qaqish is simply throwing our money about in a blatant attempt at self-promotion.
Shameful, really.

Doug Thompson Working Hard to Reclaim Osgoode


Having gone door-to-door with George Darouze to help him win the right to represent Osgoode ward in 2014, former Osgoode mayor and city councillor Doug Thompson is now poised to try to take the ward back.

“I’m not going to officially say yes, but yes, I’m very close to that, to saying yes that I’m going to do it,” Thompson told On the City, From the Burbs in a recent interview.

While Thompson can’t spend any money campaigning until he registers, which this year is May 1, the longtime politician has been on the meet-and-greet circuit.

“People are very supportive. I’ve been to more tea parties over the last three months than I can count. I can’t spend money, but you can talk to people. And residents are saying to me that if I want to run, they’re supportive,” he said. “I’ve been very encouraged by the response. I’m just taking some time, dropping into people’s homes, seven or eight a day and just talking to people.”

But how does Thompson explain his support of Darouze and then running against him?

“I just don’t think he’s a strong advocate for the rural areas. I don’t think he’s done the job. I thought he had more strengths, but the substance isn’t there. It’s really interesting, he’s starting to throw a few darts out there, he’s starting to blame me and others for issues in the ward. And the way he approaches things, he blocks people from Facebook and twitter,” Thompson told On the City, From the Burbs.
(Perhaps that’s a trick he learned from Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson.)
“He’s a nice person, but I really don’t think he’s a good politician.
“I guess he’s a good salesman and he hoodwinked me.

There is one wrinkle in Thompson’s plans. He’s also being encouraged to consider running for the Tories in Carleton, should that nomination process be overturned. Thompson had entered the nomination race there, but dropped out when it was clear to him the system was rigged to elect Goldie Ghamari. Ghamari won, but there are still calls to overturn that decision and hold another nomination meeting.
(As a testament to his popularity in Osgoode, when he left the PC nomination race, the provincial Liberals tried to woo him to their side. Frankly, I wish he’d taken the bait. Would have served the Tories right.)

“Honestly, my mind is more focused on the city right now. If (the PCs) do decide they’re going to start the nomination process all over again, I’d have to take a look at it, but right now, I’m focusing on the next term of city council,” Thompson said.
“I just don’t think George is really a rural politician.”




Is Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson hoping for a more Watson-friendly city council after this fall’s election?

In the City, From the Burbs has been talking to a number of concerned politicians and citizens in Ottawa who say Watson is gunning to oust several city councillors who often oppose him around the council table.

At the top of his hit list appears to be College Coun. Rick Chiarelli. Chiarelli told this blog he’s heard from a number of people in his ward who have told him associates of the mayor have been badmouthing the long-time councillor in their search for someone to take him on.

Being on the outs with Watson certainly isn’t new ground for Chiarelli. But Watson was particularly angry with Chiarelli recently following the release of this year’s budget, going so far as to lash out at reporters who were quoting the College ward council.


Chiarelli told the media he felt it was a fake  budget and the media ate it up. Chiarelli has been in the dog house ever since.

“The stuff he’s being saying about me, it’s just grimy, just stuff you wouldn’t say,” Chiarelli said, adding he doesn’t understand why Watson is so thin-skinned.
“Sure, I find it all offensive. If he’s picking people and everybody is just going to be a bobblehead, then why have councillors?” the councillor asked.

Oh, please don’t tempt the mayor with that idea!

“Honestly, I find it kind of an arrogant use of his time. He should be being the mayor, not going off on these tangents.
“My job is actually to consider all the things in front of us and to ask the questions. That’s my job. If I can’t support it, I don’t.”

One person considering taking Chiarelli on is Ryan Kennery, a former city staffer who worked in the mayor’s office. He hasn’t made up his mind yet, but says the idea of running was his own and no one else’s. As to whether Watson would support him, he said that question should be addressed to Watson. Would love to, but Watson – who once told me he knew that as a journalist I was always willing to listen and consider all sides – has apparently changed his mind. The mayor no longer takes my calls!

I need to make something perfectly clear here. While there are those at city hall who believe Kennery has been urged to run by Watson to try to oust Chiarelli, I have no hard and fast evidence of that. In a recent get-together with Kennery, we discussed a wide range of issues, with Kennery proving himself to be both informed and engaged.

Taking on an incumbent is difficult to do, often near impossible – especially against a hardworking, ward-centric councillor like Chiarelli.
The two do have something in common, both Chiarelli and Kennery spoke well of the other – both describing the other as nice.

“He’s a nice guy, but he’s going to get thrown under the bus,” Chiarelli said.

Nor do I have any evidence Watson is behind the recently announced bid by former Ottawa Champions president David Gourlay, who earlier announced he is running in Kanata North. That ward is now up for grabs with the official announcement on Tuesday from Marianne Wilkinson that she is retiring.

Gourlay certainly does have strong connections to Watson. Aside from the baseball connection, Gourlay’s wife Danielle McGee works in the mayor’s office. It wasn’t particularly classy of Gourlay to announce his intention to run before Wilkinson announced her retirement, which everyone knew was coming. For now, enough said on that.

Several people have also confirmed that they were approached directly by the mayor enquiring about a possible candidate to run against Deans.
Deans, who is often on the outs with Watson, very uncharacterisally refused to discuss the matter. That of course is somewhat telling on its own.
She didn’t deny it, just said she wouldn’t talk about it.

And Rideau-Rockcliffe Coun. Tobi Nussbaum, another who is rumoured to be on the hit list, also refused to directly answer whether he’d heard rumblings in his ward about Watson looking for someone to take him on. The silence is odd. Asked whether he’d heard about Watson meddling in his ward, Nussbaum would only say that he would be running again.

“I plan to run and my independence on council is something I will run on,” Nussbaum said.

Pretty telling.



Hey Mr. Mayor, It’s 2018


Honestly, there’s something incredibly depressing about the suggestion the city develop a bureau to increase the representation of women at the city – depressing on a number of levels.

In fact, it’s both depressing and shocking that after all this time, some believe we need to incorporate a government body to deal with this. And it’s worrisome of course to see the potential for our taxpayer dollars used to address the situation.

Don’t get me wrong. There is a problem at city hall. And thankfully, Gloucester-Southgate Coun. Diane Deans is attempting to address it. Deans has always been a strong voice for women, never wavering in demanding women get the fair shake they deserve. Thank goodness for that.

At last Wednesday’s council meeting, Deans suggested the city was “not women-friendly.” That’s obvious for anyone who follows city hall. And as such, she filed a notice of motion calling for the city to create a women’s bureau at city hall and consider gender balance in municipal government decisions.

“You feel the momentum building in the last few years and then there’s city hall,” Deans said. “If we don’t move ahead, we fall behind.”

Absolutely and sadly true, of course.

Deans said that she wanted the city’s support to have the mayor and staff consider a women’s bureau and a women’s liaison position . To put it in context, Deans called for the city changes following the release of the federal Liberals budget.

But like some others, I bristle at the thought of creating a bureaucracy that would hog our city dollars. I see the need, not sure about the solution. And frankly, like many others, I’m incredibly frustrated we’re still dealing with this issue. And I fear setting up a bureaucracy, even a small bureau, will just bog us all down instead of moving us ahead.

Not surprisingly, Mayor Jim Watson doesn’t like Deans’ ideas.

Can you remember the last time Watson liked anything Deans had to say?

Watson was quick to suggest that he had all sort of ideas for making women more equal at city hall.  He added that if he is re-elected in the fall, he’d like to make sure all city advisory boards and commissions are gender balanced. Really? Not a lot of power there.

If Watson believed in equality, why aren’t the four women on council in more leadership roles? Why aren’t the advisory boards already equally represented? Why aren’t there more women at the senior staff level? Just take a look around the horseshoe at city hall and see where the real power rests at city hall.

It’s with men.

If there was any real concern from our mayor, why has he only made suggestions to improve the situation after his nemesis, aka Deans, raised the issue? Was he saving this little nugget to form part of his election platform? Sure, Mr. Mayor, let equality wait!

Change starts at the top.
Watson has never shown any desire to change the status of women at city hall
So let’s put Deans in as the women’s liaison and insist Watson recognize it’s 2018.




So what does Kanata Coun. Allan Hubley think about taxpayers forking out their money to pay for an assistant a city councillor is both supervising and sleeping with?
Hard to know, despite the answer being obvious.
Hubley was one of several councillors who declined to answer that exact question posed by In the City, On the Burbs.
Councillors can’t hire their spouses or their children, but they can have an affair with someone they supervise – or even hire someone they’re already sleeping with.
As Integrity Commissioner Bob Marleau said in an interview with In the City, On the Burbs, it may not be smart, but it’s allowed.
That is crazy.
And given the current climate, where sexual misconduct and assault are under the microscope, something should be done about this — now.
But strangely, councillors are reticent to get involved.
Why is that?
“I wouldn’t do it (and never have). I don’t get involved in personal issues with others,” wrote Kanata Coun. Marianne Wilkinson.
Councillors put their fingers into so many issues, strange they aren’t interested in closing this loophole.Are they blind to the realities?
Almost universally, those councillors who did reply were quick to point out nothing of the sort has ever happened in their office.
“This is not something I’ve had to give considerable thought to before, certainly never something that’s happened in my office,” replied Gloucester-Southgate Coun. Diane Deans.
Kudos go to Cumberland Coun. Bob Monette who answered quickly and vehemently.
“I think it would inappropriate for any of these actions be taken by councillors and relationships of this nature should be considered as common-law spouses if it gets to this points. As far as a rule goes, I leave that to the Clerk’s office, however as I mentioned I find it grossly inappropriate to have that kind of relationship with a staff person,” Monette wrote.
Good on him.
The normally forthright talker, Barrhaven. Jan Harder said she didn’t know enough about the issue to get involved.
“I would need to know if HR principles in general or specifically would allow it but it is not something I think about….ever,” Harder wrote.
For the record, city staff can’t engage in a romantic or sexual relationship with anyone they supervise. That’s a smart thing, obviously.
It should be the same for city councillors.
As Marleau pointed out, there’s an obvious concern if a councillor, who oversees an employee, comes on to their employee.
A clear concern there about the balance of power.
Kitchissippi Coun. Jeff Leiper put it very succinctly and accurately.
“I don’t believe that it’s ever possible to have a consensual relationship between a boss and subordinate because of the power imbalance. So, it’s never appropriate to have a sexual relationship, the appropriateness of which always relies on consent.
“As we spoke about, I want to think more about how that can be regulated. I haven’t got an answer for your today, but it’s a good conversation to have.”
Even Rideau-Goulbourn Coun. Scott Moffatt suggested he didn’t think council needed to get involved with regulating such behaviour.
“I wouldn’t exactly say that the relationship you have described is permitted. Just because something isn’t explicitly written down in our rules and regulations doesn’t mean Councillors and staff can do as they please. The Council Code of Conduct does have policies that would pertain to improper influence if that were the case, such as Section IV: Discrimination and Harassment and Section V: Improper Use of Influence. The common concern in these types of relationships is always the person in power using their position to facilitate the relationship or the staff member not feeling as though they can object because of their position within the office. These policies do speak to that, in my opinion.
“Having said all of that, this is about judgment and a basic comprehension of ethics. If an employer and a staff member enter into a consensual relationship, common principles would dictate they should do so considering the relationship and take subsequent steps to remove that employer/employee relationship from the equation. I don’t think we need definitive policies to that effect and that one’s best judgement should lead them in the right direction.”
Among those silent was Mayor Jim Watson, who seems to have a propensity for regulation.
Why is this being allowed?



If you’re still confused about the city’s multi-billion light rail project, about the financial implications for Ottawa, perhaps there’s some comfort in knowing you’re not alone.

There are still so many unanswered questions about the LRT and the finances surrounding it. No less than Rideau-Rockcliffe Coun. Tobi Nussbaum has raised his strong fears about the project, feeling so strongly about what’s been happening that he took pen to paper or fingers to computer as the case may be and wrote an essay for Postmedia.

If a brilliant mind like Nussbaum’s can’t wrap his head around all that is going on, there’s little hope for the rest of us. As he points out, given the miscommunication surrounding the $1 million penalty for the delay in LRT, there has to be concerns about the assurances from on high that the city will be compensated for the costs incurred by that delay.

“This delay will mean the forecasted budget numbers passed by city council – 48 hours before senior staff publicly revealed the likely LRT delay back in mid-December and three weeks after they first became aware of the risk – will clearly not be achieved. What should be made of the public assurances by Mayor Jim Watson and senior staff that the contractor will fully reimburse the costs? As much as I wish that to be true, I have not seen any evidence that the contractor is required to repay the city for additional costs incurred due to a new, permitted, handover date.
“Previously, I might have taken those assurances at face value, but the events of the last weeks have made me skeptical – and I’ve realized how dependent municipal legislators are on the executive branch of government to provide clear and accurate information,” he continued.


How can we be expected to take Watson’s words on LRT at face value a second time around, especially when all we really have are the same platitudes we’ve heard so often in the past? And the mistrust that has now developed creates a real and very serious problem around the council table.

If councillors can’t trust what they’re being told, how can they do their jobs effectively for the constituents who count on them, the very people who pay their representatives out of their hard-earned money?

“Cities lack the kind of independent officers who act as checks on the executive branch in other levels of government…This has two implications. The first is that the municipal public service must scrupulously carry out its statutory obligation to “undertake research and provide advice to council on the policies and programs of the municipality” without fear or favour. This is admittedly easier said than done. One can imagine that providing advice to council that contradicts the public statements or positions of the mayor (such as “on time, on budget”) would make for awkward moments. Yet this is the obligation that the Ontario Municipal Act has imposed on city managers and their senior officials.

“The second implication is that municipal legislators must always exercise significant and vigilant due diligence, particularly on big projects that the public cannot be expected to follow in detail,” he continued.

As Nussbaum acknowledges, city councillors need to be diligent in ensuring they’re asking the right questions and getting clear and specific answers. But anyone who thinks councillors should be reading every contract they vote on doesn’t really understand the role of a city councillor.
Nussbaum’s essay is a bit chilling, but not overly dramatic.

“Protecting and promoting the public interest is what binds the executive and legislative branches of government together. For that shared objective to be achieved, we need to constantly be guided by shared principles of transparency and accountability along with a strong dose of courage and humility.
“Nothing short of public trust in the democratic process is at stake.”

Incredibly well put.

Let’s hope Mayor Jim Watson is listening.

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