Watson Losing Grip on Council?

With seven new city councillors around the table in December, it’s going be a much different council on Lisgar Avenue than we’ve come to expect.
And fingers crossed, here’s hoping it will be a more independent council than we’ve witnessed over the past couple of terms.
There’s certainly good reason to believe that will be the case.

For starters, Mayor Jim Watson had made it clear he favoured certain candidates over others, but his efforts didn’t sway the voters.
In his own neighbourhood of Bay ward, he publicly endorsed Liberal Don Dransfield. Theresa Kavanagh walked away with the ward. Kavanagh has run for the New Democrats and is married to former Bay councillor Alex Cullen, a nemesis of Watson’s for years.

Watson is also buddies with David Gourlay, who lost to Jenna Sudds in Kanata. And in College ward, former Watson staffer Ryan Kennery moved into the ward to take on another councillor on Watson’s hit list – Rick Chiarelli. It wasn’t to be for Kennery, who I absolutely believe could make a strong city councillor one day – just not on Watson’s heavy-handed suggestion.
And in Innes ward, Watson criticized Laura Dudas for accepting an endorsement from councillor Riley Brockington. (Frankly, it is pretty hard to understand why anyone would want Brockington’s endorsement – but that’s another story!) The fact is plenty of councillors endorse candidates, Barrhaven Coun. Jan Harder supported Carol Anne Meehan against incumbent Michael Qaqish (happy to say she was victorious!) and Beacon Hill-Cyrville Coun. Tim Tierney supported Donna Leith-Gudbrason in a race Dudas won. Didn’t hear Watson criticizing them – and it’s safe to say he wan’t pulling for the right-wing Meehan. I was!

Watson also got into a nasty twitter war against Capital ward challenger Shawn Menard. Menard won the race, beating out incumbent David Chernushenko.
So if there was ever any doubt, Watson appears to have absolutely no influence in the ward races, despite his efforts otherwise.

He even went so far as to tweet out against councillors who disagree with him – urging voters to stay clear of those councillors
“When I see candidates who are always angry and wanting to “fight” on every issue I say look for a more positive and collaborative person – one who will work well with neighbours and colleagues. That’s how our level of government works best and obtains positive results!” he wrote.


Added to all, the councillors considered to be on the political left have increased. That’s not a bad thing, except for Watson. A balanced council is a better council – and we can hope for more meaningful debate. Joining Somerset Coun. Catherine McKenney, Kitchissippi Coun. Jeff Leiper, Rideau-Rockcliffe Coun. Tobi Nussbaum and (often) Rideau-Vanier Coun. Mathieu Fleury are newly-elected Capital Coun. Shawn Menard and councillor-elect Theresa Kavanagh. While defeated councillor David Chernushenko’s politics were said to be left leaning, he couldn’t be relied upon. Frequently joining that group are Gloucester-Southgate Coun. Diane Deans – and sometimes College Coun. Rick Chiarelli, depending on the issue.

Watson has more than once criticized councillors for asking too many questions at council, telling them to ask questions at committee. Here’s a newsflash Mayor Watson – you don’t get to dictate that. In fact, you shouldn’t be dictating anything.

The residents of Ottawa have spoken. And all signs point to a stronger city council – one which isn’t going to simply let Watson tell them what’s good for them. Instead, they’ll do what’s right for us.


Watson Will Win, the Public Won’t

Making an endorsement for the mayor of Ottawa isn’t easy and is no way is satisfying.
This will be brief and not just because the polls have been open for hours.
I simply can’t endorse Mayor Jim Watson, who has shown his utter disdain for anyone who opposes him. What elected official is so thin-skinned that he blocks people who oppose him?
This isn’t a case of residents being rude.
Watson feels he shouldn’t have his sacred twitter account clogged with too many messages from residents who oppose him.
Poor baby.
You represent all of us. That’s your job. So get over it.
We all have a right to be heard – and if it takes you a few extra seconds to scroll throughout tweets, whatever.
Watson’s controls council with an iron fist, discouraging debate in favour of his ceremonial goodies package.
He loves bringing on late items to council that his duly-elected members are unaware of – and insisting there’s some sort of urgency in a vote.
And he dares to scold councillors who ask too many questions. Seriously?
He has an agenda, and is so controlling, he resents the opposition.
Despite all of that, there’s little doubt Watson will win tonight and there will be a huge victory party and plenty of accolades in his honour.
My only hope at this point is that his handpicked choices for council are rejected. That would be some comfort.
Let’s face it, his only real challenger was Clive Doucet, who appears so desperate to make his mark – he promised to bring back weekly garbage pickup in the summer months.
Guess that’s what the thirst for power does to a person.

Short and Sweet

Short and Sweet

Over the years, Kanata South Coun. Allan Hubley and I have had our differences.
Most notably, I’ve often disagreed with some of his spending habits, billing taxpayers for items that in my mind he has no business charging the taxpayers for. He picked up a lunch tab for a group of volunteers that included former prime minister Stephen Harper. As I understand it, Harper was more upset than I was to have his name appear on a city of Ottawa expense claim. I could go on, but in this case, perhaps no reason to. With Hubley, a capital C Conservative, I’ve been incredibly disappointed with his spending habits.
So I was looking forward to seeing what his opponents had to offer.

He’s being challenged by candidates Steve Anderson and Mike Brown.
Anderson dissed fiscal conservatism, calling on increased spending. And Brown, while certainly a little more impressive, didn’t offer up any reason to vote against Hubley.
This one was simple, re-elect Hubley.

The same argument can be made in West Carleton-March, where incumbent Eli El-Chantiry rules that roost. He needs to get off of the Ottawa Police Services Board, he’s doing himself more harm than good. He’s not effective and is seen as being too soft on the organization.
He’s being challenged by James Parsons and Judi Varga-Toth – both of whom lost me in the first few minutes of the debate.
If you’re going to take on an incumbent, you have to prove you’re better than the person sitting in the chair.
Varga-Toth said she would only be favouring issues that benefit West Carleton-March. So much for being a city councillor.
And Parsons favours weekly garbage pick-up. Hope he’s okay when the city starts scouting for a new landfiill his ward.
So it’s El-Chantiry for the win, but that’s not a resounding endorsement.

Bay Ward Wide Open

With the made and rarely kept promise by outgoing councillor Mark Taylor to only serve two terms, there will be a new councillor in Bay ward tonight.
The five vying for your vote are Erica Dath, Don Dransfield, Theresa Kavanagh, Marc Lugert and Trevor Robinson, a returning candidate.
Let’s be frank – since the polls are already open – the candidate with the most experience in this ward is Kavanagh. She’s a school board trustee. She knows the area, she knows politics and she has new ideas that deserve an audience.

Again, not wanting to dismiss any of the candidates, the race is widely seen as a contest between Kavanagh and Don Dransfield.
Interestingly enough, both have spouses who’ve either been in or are involved in politics themselves. Kavanagh is married to Alex Cullen, who held the ward before Taylor. (Please don’t hold that against her!) Dransfield, who is Mayor Jim Watson’s choice, is married to Liberal MP Anita Vandenbeld.

The MP for Ottawa West–Nepean sent a robocall to her constituents asking them to vote for her husband in the upcoming municipal election and many believe it could be a violation of the code of conduct for federal politicians.
Vandenbeld’s robocall opens with her asking the listener to vote for her husband Don Dransfield, who’s running for city council.

“As your federal MP,” Vandenbeld says in the call, “I’m looking for a municipal counterpart to who’s going to fight as hard for the people of the community as I do.”

That message appeared to rub some people on social media the wrong way. Seriously, whether or not it breaks any rules, it’s clearly so inappropriate. And it shows the lengths Dransfield is willing to go to win.

In the Rogers debate, Kavanagh was impressive. She was reasoned, knowledgeable and relatable. And she showed a lot of heart when Dransfield absolutely lost his way during the debate and couldn’t recover. Not sure what happened there. But it was Kavanagh who kindly stepped in to make the moment somewhat less awkward – finishing his thought and giving him credit. Very classy.
Kudos to Dath for an impressive showing, but this debate belonged to Kavanagh – and is the right and reasonable candidate to give your support to.

Time to Oust Cloutier

In Alta Vista, let’s be clear.
Incumbent Jean Cloutier does not deserve re-election.
He hasn’t been effective either at the ward level – and is almost invisible at council.
Small wonder that so many strong candidates are working hard to oust him from his seat.
But that’s the problem isn’t it?

There are six candidates running, five of whom want Cloutier’s job.

And four of them are worthy of your consideration.
I’m dismissing Mike McHarg, whose opening address dealt with obesity and soda pop. Sure that’s an admirable cause, but it’s not a burning issue locally and surely won’t entice voters to his team.

That still leaves Clinton Cowan, Kevin Kit, Raylene Lang-Dion and John Redins.

You’ve heard of the Little effect? People were desperately unhappy with Shawn Little’s performance and many contenders jumped into the election, so many people that Little – the man no one wanted won.
And that is my fear in Alta Vista. Certainly there aren’t as many people taking Cloutier on, but those in the race are strong.
I have a lot of time for John Redins, he’s worked in the trenches for years. He’s not as slick as the other three, but he knows the ward. Good on him.

As an aside, it was a bit rich to see Cloutier challenging his fellow candidates to be more transparent with campaign donations. Really? A little late to take the high road.
Enough said there.

Ultimately, one candidate emerged as the clear winner – Raylene Lang-Dion – a strong voice during the debate with a detailed platform to back her talk up.

Certainly Cowan was also impressive.

But a choice has to be made, and mine is Dion.

Gower for the Win

When you make an endorsement, you have to feel completely confident in your choice.
Sure, there’s a fair bit of subjectivity to that. But to say that an incumbent’s time is up, you can’t do that lightly.

In my mind, Stittsville Coun. Shad Qadri is one of the nicest councillors around the council table. He’s always willing to chat, makes times for my questions – and is available most every time I reach out to him.

Sadly for him, Qadri hasn’t been a strong enough voice in his own community and longtime volunteer Glen Gower has launched an incredibly effective campaign to oust him. If you follow Twitter, the response to Gower’s campaign has ben overwhelmingly positive.
Frankly, that’s understandable.

Qadri hasn’t been a leader around council. Never was. Ironically, I found him stronger in the Rogers debate than I’ve witnessed him around the council table in years. But Gower came armed with the facts and a strong presence.

“We need a stronger voice for the residents of Stittsville. People have lost trust in the city and we need to rebuild that,” Gower said in a solid opening statement.

Qadri comes across as too cautious at times. Speaking of changes in policing in Stittsville, which hasn’t made (everyone) happy (what does?). He takes a steady as she goes attitude, instead of Gower’s sense of urgency for change.

“We may be lagging a bit with our new model. Let’s see how it works out, it’s only been six months, maybe a year,” Qadri said.
Just can’t believe this will come close to satisfying his residents who appear to be looking for a more forceful councillor to represent them.

When the public starts looking for someone new, nice won’t cut it.

Gower summed it up pretty well in his closing address, saying the two had known each other for years.

“But I’m still not clear on your vision,” Gower said to his opponent.

He’s not alone.
The nod goes to Gower.

Capital Ward Deserves Better

It’s not easy to simply dismiss a candidate. But in truth, incumbent David Chernushenko has failed to live up to his council responsibilities and Capital ward has paid for that. Last term, he sat on the sidelines criticizing former River Coun. Maria McRae for not doing enough as chair of the city’s environment committee. Sadly, his performance at the helm of the same committee has been abysmal, which is all the more grating given his criticism of a colleague.
Around the council table, it’s often hard to figure out what he stands for.

He’s being challenged by Jide Afolabi, Anthony Carricato, Christine McAllister and Shawn Menard.

And there’s the concern. With so many people running, the vote can be split and Chernushenko – as the incumbent and presumably the one with the best name recognition – can come up the middle. And the candidates challenging him in Capital appear all capable of offering new and fresh ideas in this downtown ward, not a weak one in the bunch.

There’s no doubt Menard is a strong candidate, a great speaker who’s done his homework. But when he started talking about bringing in free transit, he lost me. Where is that money going to come from? Does he know? Does he care?

Carricato was a pleasant surprise, perhaps because he isn’t your typical downtown candidate. (Yes, I know I’m showing my suburban bias. I often find downtown councillors would just like to forget we really are all one big city.) Carricato breaks the usual mold of the downtown councillor, saying there are segments of our society that just can’t afford increased taxes. And while his platform might please me, I’m just not convinced it will win the day in Capital ward.

There’a a certain calmness surrounding McAllister when she speaks. (That being said, I’d just watched the Barrhaven debate for a third time and the contrast was more than notable!) This group as a whole was impressive, they all seemed knowledgeable and were all courteous with each other. That bodes well for all of them in terms of their performance around the council table.

Menard is certainly strong, but I don’t see him accepting his duel role as a representative for both Capital ward and the city as a whole. That’s crucial and too many candidates forget that,

In the final analysis I have to give my nod to McAllister. And I’m not saying that reluctantly.

She came across as a thoughtful and knowlegable candidate who will consider the ideas of her colleagues – while working hard on behalf of both her ward and the city, just as she has as a volunteer. And in presenting herself to the public, she noted issues of concern in both her ward – where she has volunteered for 15 years – and issues like the environment – a city-wide concern.

McAllister would be an amazing addition to the new city council.

Endorsements Not for the Faint of Heart

I take writing endorsements seriously.
I don’t do them lightly and I try to remember that behind every candidate’s name is a person who cares about their community. They wouldn’t have put their name forward otherwise; they wouldn’t be devoting all their time to door-knocking, sacrificing their family time and risking their reputation.
The first time I wrote endorsements was in the early 80s for the Sunday Herald.
In hindsight, I was far too young and far too inexperienced to be writing them.
I remember vividly being at a social gathering after the election I’d made my first endorsement – and a city staffer for an incumbent I hadn’t endorsed – and had lost – said he was out of a job.
“Yeah, I’m out of a job thanks to Sue Sherring,” he said.
I was horrified. I think of that every time I make an endorsement. So I do my research, attempt to be fair and take it all very seriously. For me, endorsements are simply another tool for anyone researching who to vote for.

RogersTV has had all-candidate debates for every ward, the Citizen has asked all candidates to fill out surveys, as has the CBC, And most serious candidates have their own websites. Check it all out. I have.

With all of that being said, there are some races where I simply don’t feel confident enough to make an endorsement; others where I want to throw up my hands in frustration.

In Rideau-Vanier, there are four candidates – incumbent Mathieu Fleury, Thierry Harris, Salar Changiz and Matt Lowe. While all four names are on the ballot, I really see this as a two way race between Fleury and Harris.
Rideau-Vanier is a complicated ward to represent, there’s the Byward Market, Vanier, Sandy Hill and of course a large student population. The Salvation Army relocation debate has dogged this election, and finding the truth behind that is more than difficult.

I’m tempted to throw my endorsement to Fleury, who is clearly dedicated to the community and his residents. And I know he cares. But I realized that would be based solely on knowing Fleury from council. And Harris has proven himself to be a strong contender. This is a tough one. You’re on your own here.

It’s also a real struggle in Barrhaven as well. It’s where I live and where I’ll be voting.
I still don’t know for who.
Incumbent Jan Harder has been a popular councillor in this area for years – with good reason. She works hard, cares about her ward and knows the issues better than anyone.

It’s been years since she’s had a serious challenger. This time around is different, and apparently Harder doesn’t react well to serious competition. Taking Harder on in a televised Rogers debate were candidates
Franklin Epape, Atiq Qureshi and Hadi Wess. There is a fifth candidate registered – Ahmad Malgarai – who didn’t attend the debate and doesn’t have a website.

The debate was an absolute dog’s breakfast, with Harder frequently interrupting the other candidates, calling Wess a liar and dismissing the thoughts of her fellow candidates. There were many times all of the candidates were talking over each other. Pretty difficult to even hear their election promises, as the quartet tried to speak over each other – seemingly oblivious to what viewers were seeing. And they were seeing a real mess for much of the time.

Moderator Mark Sutcliffe had his work cut out for him. He was of course up for the challenge.

Harder was clearly the target of this debate. And being Harder, she didn’t just tell the candidates they were off base, she tried more than once to tell Sutcliffe how to do his job!

One of the key areas of contention is the issue at Stonebridge Golf Course, where Mattamy is talking about increasing the density of that golf course community. Wess seized on the issue during the campaign, knocking on thousands of doors and garnered a lot of interest in his candidacy. Harder appeared slow to take a stand, giving Wess an opening to gain support.

And Harder isn’t taking his success at the doors well – often referencing his recent move into the ward.
Harder herself lives just outside the ward boundaries, something she doesn’t like to share. Asked in a CBC survey if she lived in the ward, Harder wrote that she’d lived in #mybarrhaven for decades.

And she wasn’t about to give an inch to Wess.

“You’re lying again, lying just like you do at the door,” she said.

Epape was an impressive candidate, and was good enough to say some kind words about the incumbent – if ever so briefly.
“I give a lot of credit to Jan Harder,” he said, right before suggesting she hasn’t been responsive enough to her entire community.
“We need someone who will talk to us, and when she doesn’t reply (to the community) that’s a huge problem,” Epape said.

Of the four candidates, Qureshi appeared to have the weakest platform, relying on his financial background to attempt to convince voters he could better get a handle on the city budget.

While the incumbent in any race has a huge advantage, they are also the only ones forced to defend their record.
So Harder was bang on when she suggested during the debate, “I’ve been doing this for more than 20 years in Barrhaven. It’s easy to promise the world when you haven’t got a record to run on.”

If you’re happy with the status quo, Harder is your only choice. If you’re looking for change, consider Wess or Epape.

Oust Brockington

If you’ve been following the shenanigans going in River ward, you must be painfully aware that Riley Brockington doesn’t deserve to be re-elected.
He has proven time and time again he’s more than willing to put himself and his own interests in retaining power ahead of those in his ward. If that means he keeps them in the dark, so be it.
Brockington has shown absolute disregard for public consultation. His lack of consideration for his constituents prompted well-loved Craig Searle to resign as the president of the Riverside Park Community and Recreation Association.

A bit of history.
It’s impossible to understand how or why Brockington thought it was so important to shut out his residents to change the landscape of Mooney’s Bay for a $1 million – funds the city had to match. If you cover city hall, you know that $1 million doesn’t have the clout it used to be. But Brockington sold out Mooney’s Bay, kept the plans from his residents and forced the changes on them without the chance to even have a say about their own community.

Unbelievable. Unbelievable but true.

Then of course there’s Canoe Bay, a neighbourhood-changing development where Brockington didn’t fight for his constituents hard enough. He does listen to Mayor Jim Watson, but as I understand the rules, Watson can’t vote in River ward!

Enter Fabien Kalala Cimankinda, a candidate in River ward who deserves to win the right to represent River ward.
“Kalala’s early years are a familiar story of overcoming hardship as a young immigrant. His family fled war in Congo for a better life in Ottawa. He grew up in the Caldwell projects, where many members of his family still live and where all too many troubled young men and boys succumb to the temptations of crime or become victims of it.
“But it was a shooting, a death and a vow to do something about this kind of senseless violence in the community he grew up in that led to a political awakening and a determination to take his fight to city hall.
“Last year, during a routine visit to Caldwell with his young daughter to visit family, Kalala was thrust into a situation that tested his character and further awakened his passion for community service. It began with gunfire near where his daughter and other children played. Kalala instinctively ran to get the children inside. In the process he saw a man on the ground.
“I still remember to this day my daughter screaming,” Kalala recounted emotionally in an interview with Ottawa Sun columnist Rick Gibbons.
According to Gibbons, Kalala rushed to the young man’s aid and began applying pressure to stop the bleeding in his chest. He started CPR and (assisted by a police officer who had arrived on the scene) did everything he could to keep the shooting victim alive. He recounted how he later drove home, bloodied from the scene, only to hear on radio the young man had died, the story continues.

His political activism stepped up, and he became even more involved in his community.

A motion was moved at the Community and Protective Services Committee to recognize Kalala for his bravery. A ceremony was arranged for February.
But days before the event, Kalala was notified it was cancelled due to a heavy committee agenda. It never happened.

It wasn’t until June that Kalala was finally notified the event would be postponed on the recommendation of the city solicitor since, by then, Kalala had officially registered as a candidate for River Ward and the city had all sorts of reasons why it couldn’t go ahead.

This is one of the ugliest stories to find its way into city hall. Kalala is a hero and whoever is to blame, he wasn’t honoured for what he did for this city.
Everyone knows someone isn’t being honest about the delay, but regardless, if Brockington were any kind of a real leader – he would have insisted the honour go ahead.

Not likely.

So oust Brockington, elect Kalala and know your ward will be the better for it.

Also running are Kerri Keith, who appears to be a thoughtful and sincere candidate and Hassib Reda.
I don’t mean to dismiss their candidacy, but Kalala is the right man at the right time. And River ward would be the richer for his presence at city hall.

Dirty Politics in Osgoode

Having served one term as the councillor for Osgoode, incumbent George Darouze is facing four incumbents, two of them strong
contenders standing in the way of him securing a second term.

There’s Jay Tysick, who most recently ran in the rural area provincially and Kim Sheldrick, a thoughtful candidate, who ran last time against Darouze and knows what she’s talking about it. Both are quality candidates worthy of your consideration.

Also running is Mark Scharfe, who wants to cancel the green bin program. That’s enough for me to dismiss him as a viable candidate. In addition, he doesn’t want senior staff to make more money than Mayor Jim Watson. That’s pie in the sky, won’t happen and you’d never attract quality senior level candidates. Enough said.

Here’s the thing you need to know. Tysick is a good friend of mine. He campaigned for me in 2014 when I barely knew him. Since then, I’ve come to know him as a a solid, loyal friend – who cares deeply about just about everything! He’s a strong family man who wants to make a difference in his community. Our politics differ greatly. But on the municipal level, what matters is a strength of your convictions and the understanding of how the process at city hall works and how to get things done. That description is Tysick to a T.

Darouze was supported last time around by outgoing councillor Doug Thompson, who has since soured on Darouze – and threw his support to Tysick. There were fireworks between Darouze and Tysick during much of a Rogers debate. Seems Darouze is running scared if the Rogers debate is any indication.

There’s a dirty little smear campaign going on directed at Tysick. Seriously kids, is this what you do when confronted with solid competition? Shame. This isn’t meant to implicate Darouze. I have no proof of that. There’s no doubt that the website WhoIsJay.ca appears to have been created to discourage voters from marking their ballot for Tysick. The website has since been taken down, but it was calling for voters to reject Tysick. Joël Charbonneau, a Tysick supporter, filed a complaint about the site on Friday, arguing that the site violated election rules.

According to the complaint filed with the city clerk, the website calling for voters to mark their ballots against Tysick violates the rules for third-party advertisers. Third-party advertisers are not supposed to be in any contact with a candidate in the election. This sort of advertisement — whether it’s an expression of support or opposition- has to be separate from the candidate’s campaign. Charbonneau’s complaint stated the website is hosted by Adam Sooley, who is also the president of the Greely Community Association.

Sooley has confirmed his company was hosting the site but said he was not involved with it and would not say who his clients are. He also confirmed that he was hosting the re-election website for Darouze, the incumbent councillor. That’s cozy.

According to a post on WhoIsJay.ca, seven individuals (not named) are responsible for the site, which makes a number of statements about Tysick. The website could be considered third-party advertising. Third-party advertisers are required to register with Elections Ottawa before any activity, and that wasn’t done in this case.

City solicitor/clerk Rick O’Connor responded to Charbonneau in an email.

“In light of your complaint, I will review this further to assess whether there is a contravention of the MEA (Municipal Elections Act). This review will also further inform me whether or not I will excercise my statutory discretion under the MEA to pursue this issue further,” O’Connor wrote.

There’s a fifth candidate in the race who didn’t appear at the Rogers debate. Auguste Banfalvi, asked by a Citizen survey who he would vote for mayor responded, “None of your business.”

But Darouze didn’t even bother to respond to the Citizen survey. That’s disconcerting. Maybe he doesn’t realize the need to inform or the time restraints most of us have. Of course, in a discussion of city hall meeting locations, Darouze said it was no big deal for residents to take part of their day to attend a meeting at Ben Franklin Place. Clearly, Darouze has forgotten what it’s like to have a 9 to 5 job where you’re expected to be there from 9 to 5, juggle kids and get supper. Sheldrick set him straight.

Ousting an incumbent isn’t easy. But Darouze hasn’t proven himself to be a strong proponent for the rurals.
And while I think highly of Sheldrick, with Mayor Jim Watson at the helm, the rurals need a strong voice.
Tysick is the candidate for the job.