Monthly Archives: August 2018

2018 Ottawa Elections, here’s four more wards for you…

Ottawa Vote 2

This is a third in a series about the Ottawa Municipal elections taking place October 22, 2018.  I have covered 10 of the seats around council and in this post I will consider four more. In the last post I mentioned I would write about Kanata North, Bay, Knoxdale-Merivale and Rideau-Vanier wards. I am going to make a small change and save Bay Ward for next week and talk about Capital ward, as something recently happened that could have an impact on both the sitting Councillor and the Mayor.

Kanata North

Kanata North supposedly was to be vacant in 2014, Marianne Wilkinson had alluded to the fact that she was done, she then changed her mind and what could have been an interesting race turned into a re-election romp.  This election Wilkinson is out, at least she is not running.

I have a belief that elected officials that are not seeking re-election should stay quiet and not get involved in the race for their replacement. In Kanata North Wilkinson has endorsed Jenna Sudds – however that does not guarantee a victory for Wilkinson’s favourite.  Kanata North with the incumbent Wilkinson out has a good list of candidates to replace her.   There are five names on the ballot in Kanata North.  Matt Muirhead is back for his third attempt at the seat. The profile names on the ballot however are David Gourley and Jenna Sudds; Gourley is no stranger to the goings on at City Hall having worked in Mayor Watson’s office and Sudds is the first Executive Director of the Kanata North BIA, stepping down to run for council.

From the outside looking in (from the downtown core) it looks to be a Gourley and Sudds race and likely a Watson machine vs. a Wilkinson machine type of campaign.  May the best political machine win!

Knoxdale-Merivale

Unless residents of Knoxdale-Merivale are extremely unhappy with Ottawa roads, potholes, the upcoming delays in LRT and other transportation issues the quiet Keith Egli may just as quietly keep his seat.

Unlike 2014, when Egli faced one challenger, this election sees four others that want to represent the ward.  Back after sitting out 2014 is James Dean who, according to his website compares the current tax policy of the current council to that of a Ford Pinto. He says that council has cut services to pay more than $200 Million for the city debt, that the cuts will cause trouble for the city as citizens lose the services and programs they rely on. The current 2% tax policy may blow up and hurt the city if the debate on services vs. tax hikes continues to be won by a cap on taxes that according to Dean unfairly increases burden of the tax debt on taxpayers.  Unlike James Dean, the two other candidates have not fully laid out their plans for the city though transparency, tax spending and their community involvement are mentioned.

Though Egli has serviced the ward competently for two terms and incumbents are tough to defeat, of the three challengers James Dean has the best opportunity to shake things up in Knoxdale-Merivale.

Rideau Vanier

Was Mathieu Fleury in a sophomore slump in the first half of his second term as the Rideau Vanier councillor?  If he had been he must be extremely happy that the arrangement to move the Salvation Army to Montreal Road from the By-Ward market can along.  In it he found a voice for an issue that has united Vanier communities and has shown Fleury is someone who will fight Mayor Watson.   Since the inception of the SOS Vanier campaign, Fleury has lent his name to the fight and has spoken publicly about the Mayor giving public support for the move before the application from the Salvation Army was off the printer and emailed to the city planning committee.

While being able to show he will fight for Vanier, Vanier also is home to many qualified community activists that choose to fun for council come election time.  This time around Fleury has fewer challengers, and of the three other candidates only Thierry Harris seems capable of mounting a challenge that could topple Fleury come October 22nd. Will Fleury and SOS Vanier be the one thing that saves him and keeps him fighting Watson for another 4 years?

Capital

Long ago, Capital ward was where Jim Watson was first elected to the old un-amalgamated Ottawa City Council.  So it makes sense that the ward still holds a special place in his heart.  This was demonstrated a few weeks ago when Capital ward candidate Shawn Menard acted, along with other community members to save century trees from being cut down. The city was expected to issue the cut permit by mid-august.  With no action from City Hall being taken Menard took up the fight and started a petition to prevent the cut.  In his actions, Menard seems to have awoken Watson and David Chernushenko, the current councillor.  In a series of tweets on August 8th, the Mayor and Councillor celebrated the saving of the trees while ignoring the work that Menard did on bringing the issue forward.

With three other candidates vying for the seat, they will have to so something short of canvassing while standing on their heads to take the attention away from a Chernushenko vs. Menard race.  Chernushenko doesn’t make the loudest noise at council and the voters in the ward want the same type of leadership that Watson gave them as a councillor in the 80’s Menard could be joining the current “Urban Caucus” of Leiper, McKenney, Fleury and Tobi Nussbaum, which would certainly turn the volume up on urban issues.

With this post you now have my thoughts on 14 of 24 races.  My next Ottawa Election Primer will focus on Bay, Somerset, Alta Vista, Cumberland and Osgoode Wards.

Thank you for reading #RedHeartBlueSign, to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawaand on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

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Ottawa Election Primer Part 2

July 31st I posted a look at 6 of the 24 election races that will be decided on October 22nd.   I looked at races in Orleans, College, Beacon Hill-Cyrville, Rideau Goulbourn and Gloucester-South Nepean Wards and the race for Mayor.  In part 2 of the Ottawa Election Primer series I look at Innes, Barrhaven, West Carleton-March and Stittsville wards.

Ottawa Vote October 22

Innes

I am including Innes Ward today as I was fortunate to be able to listen to CFRA’s Rob Snow have the four candidates vying to replace Jody Mitic on the air for my drive to Barrie.  The biggest surprise to me in this race is that there are not more people running, especially if I look at the race in Orleans with 17 candidates running for a vacant seat.

Innes has two candidates that have City Hall experience.  Tammy Lynch worked with Councillor Mitic since 2014 and Donna Leith-Gudbranson worked for the former Councillor Rainer Bloess, who has endorsed Leith-Gudbranson as has other area former representatives.  Laura Dudas and Francois Lepranier round out the race. Listening to the candidates speak, all seem to be supporting the same ideals; a 2% property tax ceiling, better roads, access to transit and maintaining services as they are.

The issue of the 2% tax ceiling for me is a non-issue, I would have liked to hear about capping rate increases for water and sewer taxes, this is the expense of taxpayers that is never addressed – it was a missed opportunity for one of the four to include a cap on these city taxes with the 2% property tax.

All except Trepanier have City Hall experience; Trepanier however does count the experience of his years of service in the Canadian Forces as his reason for asking for the support of the voters.

However each seems to have different views of what is needed for Innes, voters will need to really look in to each candidate and ask important questions to set them apart not only at the doors but in the debates.

All four would serve the community well, but it comes down to the machine behind the candidates and with that the edge goes to Lynch and Leith-Gudbranson.  Mitic was a loved councillor and sentimental vote may be what helps Lynch.

Barrhaven

The Mayor of Barrhaven is not going to be dethroned anytime soon.  Jan Harder won four years ago with 75% of the vote, that’s not going to change this year. A victory for her opponents would be that Jan Harder picks up on some good ideas from their campaigns and takes then back to City Hall with her in November.

West Carleton-March

The battle in Ward five just might be fought on the ward losing its rural voice and services that once were there, but are now gone.  Eli El-Chantiry has held this ward since 2003 where he won by 29 votes.  But now in his 4thre-election bid his will have to defend his representation of this rural ward against two would be councillors, James Parsons and Judy Varga-Toth.  Parsons has not launched his website, but Varga-Toth is aiming straight at El-Chantiry on letting down the rural voters with reduced services in the ward and not doing a good enough job of grassroots representation.  Reading between the lines, her assumption might be that his duties as the Chair of the Police Services board have taken him away from the ward far too often.  El-Chantiry has won by defeating some high profile campaigns in the past; will Varga-Toth work under the radar and win?

Stittsville

Four years ago, Shad Qadri won with 60% of the vote, he faced only one challenger.

In 2018, it is the same scenario, but in this election I believe there is a chance that voters may look for something new. The challenger this year is Glen Gower, he is heavily involved in the community and as a member of Heritage Ottawa he will have had to work with the City on heritage files.  Qadri is respected in city hall, is that enough to fight off another challenge? The outcome on this comes down to the work that Gower does reaching out and getting Stittsville voters to see him as he is advertising, that a fresh voice is needed.  Going against Gower is history, this year is the 4thelection in a row no more that one other resident in Stittsville has felt the need to challenge Qadri who won the seat in 2003 in another one vs. one vote off.  Does this underlay Qadri’s silent support in the ward? If there is a weakness to Qadri, I hope Gower has done his research and perhaps he has found it. Qadri seems unbeatable one on one.

I’ve now looked at 10/24 races, the next Ottawa Election Primer will put the spotlight on Kanata North, Bay, Knoxdale-Merivale and Rideau-Vanier wards.

Thank you for reading #RedHeartBlueSign, to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawaand on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

Death of the Paper Ballot?

Internet voting.

Remember how well it went when the Ontario PC’s used it to select Doug Ford as their leader?  Remember how Canada Post admitted that thousands of PINS and Ballots were not delivered so party members couldn’t vote? Consider that in the 2018 municipal elections across Ontario, as more municipalities will be conducting their elections by Internet and phone only – NO PAPER BALLOTS.

Internet VotingIn 2014 sixty-one municipalities in Ontario went to paperless balloting.  Another 36 used a combination of electronic and paper ballots.  Almost 25% of Ontario municipalities embraced the future of voting. There are several reasons for dumping the paper ballot, one was that it would increase voter turnout.  Did it? The Internet Voting Project hopes to be able to answer some questions on eVoting.  The project tracked the results of the 97 municipalities that took part in the eVoting in the 2014 elections.  In 2018 there will be more municipalities joining in on the age of Internet voting.

The Association of Municipalities Ontario (AMO) has been monitoring the voter turnout in municipal elections.  The 2014 voter turnout average  (AMO 2014 Voter Turnout) was 43.12%. The winner with the highest turnout of 86.63% was Latchford ON and Pembroke ON scored lowest at 15.81%.  In 2006 turnout was 44.35%, looking back to 1982* had 48% voter turnout – its been going down hill since then.  1997 and 2003 own a low 40% voter turning average AMO Voter turnout .

In 2014 the Town of Leamington went Internet voting only, it was the first municipality in Ontario to do so, effectively dumping mail in ballots used in the previous election.  That election in Leamington there was no phone voting and not a ballot box to be found.  In 2014 election voter turnout saw a 42% of eligible voters casting a ballot through their keyboards, down from the 50% voter turnout in previous elections – not what was expected.  A larger concern though was a delay in the results being announced.  Candidates had to wait 2.5 hours for their results, 2 hours longer than expected or promised by the vendor.  The City of Leamington expects to have that issue resolved for October 22nd.  Perhaps, in response to the unexpected lower turnout, the city is offering phone voting along with Internet voting to its residents in 2018.

Even with the issues of the 2014 election in Leamington, a 2015 survey (Online Voting Survey) reported that 98% of municipal voters would vote online again.  The survey also indicated that as many as 95% of voters wanted other elections to offer online voting.  Looking back at what happened with the Ontario PC Leadership voting is that going to happen? If Canada Post couldn’t get the needed PINS and other information to every PC Party member how realistic to suggest that Canada Post would be able to meet the demands of a larger number of voters relying on the delivery of their PINS by snail mail?  As much as Canadians want they want Internet voting, Canadians want to know there voting system is secure.  If it isn’t secure, they won’t vote.

Is the solution that if you’re going vote using your computer, it should be natural to receive a ballot PIN by email? Would voters feel secure enough to receive this important information via the Internet?  Will suggested meddling in elections by countries outside of Canada be enough to pull the Ethernet cord on that idea?

Can governments gain the enough trust of the voters to consider dumping the paper ballot?

While municipally, the fate of the paper ballot is pretty well sealed, it will be a slow fade for the “marking of an X” in larger elections until governments can give the 100% guarantee that no meddling will occur.  Based on what we’ve heard recently from Facebook about foreign influence affecting the US 2018 mid-term elections it appears voting screens and ballot boxes are still going to be around for some time.

It’s important to keep in mind that the reason for the in use of eVoting was to increase voter turnout, make it easier to vote. Does making it easier to vote meangreater voter engagement?  All eVoting will do and was meant to do was make it easier to vote. It doesn’t facilitate engagement; people need to facilitate political engagement.

You want to have an increase of voter turnout? Increase true political engagement.  That doesn’t mean catchy slogans about the weather and it doesn’t mean throwing mud at political opponents.  Making it easy to vote is one thing making it easy to give Canadians a reason to vote is something completely different.

Thank you for reading #RedHeartBlueSign, to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawaand on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net