Category Archives: Ottawa Elections

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

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Apologies to Chris de Burgh

Liberals in Red

Trudeau and Wynne are fading away, on Election Day

81% here, want Wynne to go awayDon’t touch the hard drives

Everyone knows Hydro rates are way too high

All Ontario wants is for Wynne to say bye-bye

The past seven days have been monumental for Liberals, or rather against them. Two8600113
polls have come out that indicated the Liberals are in trouble. The first poll, a national poll indicated that only 33% of Canadians would vote for Justin Trudeau, putting him back in the seats of the opposition. The poll had 38% of Canadians voting the Conservatives back into government. Even more striking is that in Ontario that same Ipsos – Global News Poll had the Conservatives grabbing 43% of the voter preference. Ontario is the key for any party to sit on the government side in Ontario.

Still in Ontario, a  Toronto Sun Poll says that 81% of Ontario voters do not want Kathleen Wynne and the Ontario Liberals in government. The poll showed that 44% of Ontarians would vote for the Ontario PC Party, 24% support the Ontario NDP. Only 19% support Kathleen Wynne. These are astounding numbers and may have a dramatic effect on ridings that normally are never considered in play for either of the current opposition parties. These are numbers that turn the red seats blue in South Western Ontario and Eastern Ontario. These numbers turn Liberals seats in Toronto to a toss up. For purposes here, I’d like to look at two ridings in Ottawa; Ottawa Centre and Ottawa Vanier.

For the Liberals, the two ridings are tales of two candidates. One that is strong and possibly the next leader of the Ontario Liberals, the other won in by election little more than 2 years ago by a less than strong candidate.

In Ottawa Vanier, in 2014, the Liberals had a 33% cushion on PC Martin Forget and in the 2016 by election that cushion dropped 19%. By election results showed erosion by the Liberals to the Ontario PC’s. NDP support remained steady between 2014 and 2016. The Sun poll, if it holds, is a sign that even a virtual stronghold like Ottawa Vanier is now a possible gain for the Tories. Under Madeleine Meilleur the riding would stay Liberal. With MPP Nathalie Des Rosiers campaigning for Wynne, Ottawa Vanier is no longer a liberal guarantee.

Onto Ottawa Centre, where I ran twice for the Ontario PC Party. Reading these poll results makes a two-time candidate like me almost giddy with the possibilities. In 2014 my team and I increased the PC vote to within striking distance of the NDP for second place in the riding.

Yasir Naqvi’s plurality in the riding is at risk based in these new polling results and in a best-case scenario, even puts his leadership bid at risk – if he cannot keep the riding. Why? In analysing poll results from 2014, the Liberals made gains on the left taking votes from the NDP. With the Liberals constantly moving left in policy, it’s going to be difficult for the Andrea Horwath to move to the right to capture back some of the vote they lost between 2011 and 2014.

With numbers like 81% and 44%, the Ontario PC Party has the chance to claim not only two ridings previously out of reach for generations, but also seats in Orleans, Glengarry-Prescott-Russell and Ottawa South.

Who gains? The PC vote? There’s a lot a room to have the Tories move left with a progressive platform while not forgetting our conservative values. A platform like the People’s Guarantee with a new leader will do just that.


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, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

The Battle of Vanier: Land use vs. Building Use

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Out of the most divisive issues comes unity.

Last week saw an unprecedented Planning Committee meeting, it lasted three days and on the third day the meeting it went late into the evening. At stake was either safe shelter for 350 or the future of Vanier and its financial growth. The heart of the matter revolved around the Salvation Army relocating to Montreal Rd in Vanier from their George Street location in the Byward Market.

In what has become a war of words over the future of Vanier, the Battle of Vanier is clearly between two ideals; land use versus building use. City staff is on the land use side while Rideau Vanier Mathieu Fleury is arguing the building use will have severe impacts on Vanier.

In the middle of summer the Salvation Army filed a proposal to build a new large 350 bed facility that would locate all its services in one location (the current Concord Hotel) on Montreal Rd, which is classified a “mainstreet” by the city’s official plan. Ottawa now prohibits shelters on its mainstreets. Mainstreets by definition are meant for commerce and community gathering and keeping people moving. For the Salvation Army, the official plan will need to be amended.

It gets confusing and bewildering because City staff support a proposal that clearly goes against the Official City Plan, which City Staff had a huge hand in writing. With its support, planning staff is saying that the needed amendment ‘won’t be a problem at all’.

If you have trouble understanding how the mainstreet argument works consider other Mainstreet and “Main” street locations across Ottawa as examples. How about a large shelter on Strandherd Drive in Barrhaven, or on Meadowlands Drive in Keith Egli’s ward. Try selling a huge 300-bed shelter to Stittsville residents on Hazeldean Drive and I doubt anyone would allow a shelter beside a shiny condo on Richmond Road or even putting a shelter at the corner of Bank and Somerset downtown instead of rebuilding Somerset House.

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Photos courtesy of Danno Saunt (Sideman Ottawa)

There was another aspect in the Battle of Vanier, one which could have been avoided – The Mayor. The ink on the proposal was barely dry when Mayor Jim Watson came out in support of the Salvation Army’s plans. He voiced his support before the proposal was looked at by staff, was debated at Planning Committee, before residents could have a say and before the full Council vote. The Mayor holds great sway in council. He’ll try to tell he is one of 24 votes, honestly though, his “yeah or nay” will sway about a quarter of council seats. Coming out early on this forced Councillor Fleury to publically fight against the Mayor and most of council.

Whether the Mayor intentionally or accidently played his cards, he should have stayed quiet. I expect that he will lose votes in the fall, as SOS Vanier will make sure Rideau Vanier voters don’t forget who supported them and that the Mayor did not. By stating his support early in the process, the Mayor muted Councillor Fleury and virtually snubbed the 100+ residents and businesses that went to committee and stated their reasons for objecting to the proposal.

Clearly the Salvation Army did not expect such uproar. They almost admitted it, but could not find the right words when the Salvation Army spokesperson appeared on CBC Radio Ottawa Morning after the Council vote of 23-7 (Rick Chiarelli claimed a conflict). They admitted they had a lot of fence mending to do, but could not commit to saying they did not know the community well enough to foresee the outrage against the plans.

It was clear from the moment that SOS Vanier was formed by Vanier business owner Drew Dobson that who ever came up short in the vote at council would be appealing to the Ontario Municipal Board. Depending on the OMB outcome there could a lawsuit, which all means that it could be years before the wrecking ball comes down on the Concord Motel, which sits on the proposed Salvation Army building.

Speaking of the Concord Motel, there is a complication. The City of Ottawa is very tight for space for families that need emergency shelter, for days weeks or months. Guess where some families are put up, paid for by the City of Ottawa? The Concord Motel. Where will the City find the rooms lost with the demo of the Concord for the families that need the space? Good Question. The City better home the new Federal National Housing Plan works, and fast!

There is some good that comes out of the Battle of Vanier. The community has come together, again. The last time that happened was with the proposed closure of the Montfort Hospital. The Ontario government stood down from that because the community banded together. The Salvation Army shelter plan was the spark that brought Vanier back to its feet; I hope they don’t underestimate the community as Mike Harris did. SOS Vanier is here for a while and plan on keeping this issue alive.

Secondly, Councillor Fleury stood on his head defended his residents; I have not seen a councillor do that in some time. It was an “All-Star Performance” in the defense of Vanier and preserving Montreal Road. At worst he has almost secured a re-election with his efforts to protect his community with something he saw as being a bad fit.

The leaders of SOS Vanier have publically declared they will appeal the decision at the OMB, the Battle was won – the war wages on.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net

Is it too soon to talk Municipal Elections in Ottawa?

Ottawa VotesHere it is November, we are almost at the end of Ottawa’s run where all things #Canada150 overshadowed what was being talked at in City Hall. With the end of 2018 we’ll see the dismantling of the #Canada150 Flame at City Hall and business of the City come more into focus.

There are serious items that will linger through to the Municipal elections in Ottawa in 11 months.

Mayor Jim Watson has campaigned on 2% or less for property tax increases. The problem with 2% property tax increases is that everything else has increased almost triple the rate of property taxes. Water fees, sewage fees all increased and are budgeted for large increases through the next five years as the City looks for revenues it can’t raise with a 2% property tax rise.

Watson’s rationale is not that different from Provincial and Federal Liberals that are “lowering” income taxes, but increases other necessary costs, like Hydro negate any reduction in taxes because any gain in disposable incomes is lost on higher hydro rates and carbon taxes put on the cost of gas at the pumps.   But Jim Watson will campaign on low property taxes and avoid any talk of higher water, sewage and user fees.

What will dog Watson are his views on safe injection sites and funding illegal pop up site. The safe injection site in Sandy Hill was given the federal go ahead, but that did not stop an unauthorized pop up site from appearing in a Lowertown park. This prompted the Ottawa Health Officer to opening a ‘legal’ temporary site on Clarence Street.   The illegal pop up site continues to operate even though its original mandate was to have a permanent site available to prevent deaths by overdose.

The irony here is that ‘conservative’ Mayor John Tory in Toronto is looking more progressive that ‘liberal’ Mayor Jim Watson in Ottawa. There will be calls for the City and the Mayor to accept money from the Province the same money Kathleen Wynne gave Toronto for its pop up site to be able to operate in the cold.

I also expect to see Jim Watson try to ride the shiny sparkly new LRT to another 4 years at City Hall. He better hope that it goes as planned, that sinkholes don’t create any unseen drops in his popularity. He is no doubt still very popular, but with urban councillors like Catherine MacKenney (Somerset Ward) and Jeff Leiper (Kitchissippi Ward) pushing a more progressive agenda, those councillors and perhaps others that want to see the City spend more on social services will look past Jim Watson for support. Sadly we may not see just who will challenge Watson for a few more months.

There were changes to municipal election for 2018. In previous election cycles candidates could register to run in the early weeks of the year. New rules now put any registering for the election at May 1st, four full months before in previous elections. This rule puts incumbents in the fundraising driver seat, as there can be no fundraising for a campaign before the candidate in registered. With the delayed registration date, incumbents no longer have to stress about announcing early.

The change in registration date will have a serious impact on challengers hoping to put up a strong effort against an incumbent. Losing four months of fundraising will drive some away from the challenge. The biggest financial impact may be on those that want to run for the Mayor’s chair.

In play for what could be tight race for Mayor are Bay Ward Councillors Mark Taylor, Diane Deans and former Ottawa Centre MP, and son of former Mayor Marion Dewar, Pal Dewar. Mark Taylor campaigned in 2010 to being a two-term councillor will he keep that promise. He is currently one of two deputy Mayors. If his good friend Watson decides not to run, he’d expect to pick up all of the current Mayor’s support. If Watson seeks re-election, Taylor could be in a jam as he campaigned in 2010 to only be a councillor for two terms.

Diane Deans, a Councillor for the Southern ward of Gloucester Southgate is also conserved a sure thing to run for the Mayor’s chains. She has the needed experience, as she has been a sitting Councillor since 1994. She has had verbal jousts with the Mayor in the past, especially this current term. Deans may see 2018 as her last chance to run for the top job, it could be the run for the Mayor’s chair or retirement for her.

Mayor Jim Watson’s biggest challenge may come from outside council. If Justin Trudeau can fill the position his father did, why can’t Paul Dewar follow his mother? Marion Dewar was Ottawa Mayor from 1978 to 1985 and a councillor from 72 before becoming Mayor. Where Watson would in previous elections be seen as the ‘progressive’ candidate – he’d look like a Larry O’Brien Conservative, if he has to run against Paul Dewar. A successful NDP MP in Ottawa Centre, he would be a dream candidate for progressives seeking greater funding for housing, opioid life saving programs and reducing homelessness in Ottawa.

As the New Year comes we’ll have to wait longer than normal to see who will challenge, who will retire and who will seek another four years. While Mayor Watson has announced he will run again ( https://redheartbluesign.wordpress.com/2017/03/17/the-first-shot-has-been-fired/) all eyes will be on him as the May 1st registration deadline approaches to see if he really meant it or not.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net

The first shot has been fired

Ottawa Votes

I had noticed while reviewing the activity of this blog that yesterday my post about the 2014 Ottawa elections was viewed. In that post I gave predictions on 9 councillor races in that year’s municipal elections. I wrote that 8 of the nine wards I looked at were in a strong position to change. I was wrong in all predictions as the incumbent won all the 8 seats I thought would see a turn over.  But it didn’t stop me from thinking about what might happen in 2018.


Mayor Jim Watson announced that he was seeking another term as Mayor in the 2018 Ottawa Municipal elections.  It was the first shot fired, meant to warn off challengers?  When he made the announcement he wrote:

“Our city is in the midst of its most significant transformation in a generation, and with the support of the people of Ottawa, I hope to continue to play a small part in our beautiful city’s bright future.”

It makes sense that he run again, the LRT is his baby, by the time a potential next term ends in 2022 Phase 1 will be up and running, Phase 2 of the LRT will be close to completion and he will likely have passed Phase 3 at council. It just makes sense that in order to have the LRT as his legacy he try for a third consecutive term (and 4th term overall) as Mayor to guide it through construction and implementation. Whether he can remove the idea that his tax increase limitations are creating more debt and deficit for the City is yet to be seen as there is a contingent of voters that don’t believe that Ottawa can afford to carry an increased debt.

His re-election is not a slam dunk even with one of the highest approval ratings of all big city Mayors in Canada, his approval sits in the high 70’s percentage. There have been less optimistic and less publicized polls show that he faces some real challenges including increased water fees, sewer rates (all because he limits property taxes to 2% or less), better snow removal budgeting and to loosen the handcuffs of Councillors at budget time.

When he announced his intention to run on March 9th, it may have made a few intentions of other potential candidates sag.

So, who could be in and who could be out of the Mayor’s race with this announcement?

Possible candidates to jump in include, Paul Dewar former Ottawa Centre MP. We have a Father-Son as Prime Minister so why not a Mother-Son Mayor of Ottawa? The only thing holding him back is whether he anticipates that the shine is off the Trudeau Liberals and he can win his seat back. You have to remember, he did not lose any votes in 2015, the Liberals gains were from ‘new’ voters, which was the margin of victory for Catherine McKenna. Voters disenchanted with broken Liberal promises will help Dewar in 2019 and he very likely could win the seat back as he will be able to out canvass Catherine McKenna for 2019 as she did against him for the win in 2015.

Diane Deans, who will have 23 years on City council, has Mayoral aspirations, you can sense it. But the timing has never been great. With Watson in for another run is the timing still off? She has been building on having a different view of Ottawa than Watson envisions in her debates in Council, 2018 could be the year that she is also all in.

Likely NOT seeking to run against Jim Watson are Councillors Mark Taylor and Tim Tierney; both are loyal to the Mayor. Taylor may not be around in 2018 if he seeks to run in the 2018 Provincial election in Ottawa West Nepean replacing Bob Chiarelli as the Liberal Candidate. This seems the most likely plan for Taylor as he plans to keep his promise to be a two term Councillor. Tierney also made the two term pledge, but suggested in 2014 that the voters should determine if a councillor is elected for more than two terms, however I do not see him running against his friend.

Senior councillors, Rick Chiarelli (18 years), Marianne Wilkinson (40+ years with Kanata and Ottawa) and Jan Harder (21 Years with Nepean and Ottawa) may be challenged by supporters to make the jump to run for mayor. Even though the Mayor has declared he’s “in”, I do not expect to see anyone else put their name forward until early 2018.

I do not doubt Watson’s sincerity about running again, but he really had no choice BUT to say he was seeking re-election. He was being asked ( I think unfairly as he is only half way through his term), to say he would not run might have labelled him a lame duck Mayor and then noting would be accomplished and council might seem like a Mayoral debate every time they sat. But then again, something better could come along before he has to file his papers.- just sayin’.

Something else to watch leading up to the 2018 election is if Council will adopt ranked ballots for the vote. A City staff report on the changes that are now allowed due to a change in Provincial legislation suggests that moving to a ranked ballot would cost $3.5M more and would have challenges with ‘respect to awareness, technology and election administration.’ Time is also a concern to implement changes for 2018, but staff does not discount making changes in future elections.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I am celebrating #Canada150 with a daily post of an event celebrating our sesquicentennial in Canada.

120: OWN’s Electoral Reform Town Hall

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I attended the Election Reform Public TownHall hosted by Ottawa West-Nepean MP Anita Vandenbeld.  As Town Halls go, it could have ended up worse that it was, at least for MP Vandenbeld. She has to report to the Democratic Reform Committee what happened and 95% of what she’ll have to report is not what Minister Monsef might wish to hear.

To be honest, MP Vandenbeld likely knew what she had coming on that Saturday night (Yes, a Saturday night!) and she gave those that wanted to speak all the time they wanted (as long as it did go over 2 minutes) to say their peace. She had planned for one and a half hours for the public consultation, it went a bit over the 2 hours as everyone that stood in line to speak was given the opportunity, that was a good thing. The entire meeting was planned for 3 hours, I did not stay for the 3rd hours as as MP Vandenbeld was pretty well telling her constituents what she did as their MP and was taking feedback on what else they wanted her to do.

While giving everyone that wanted it, a soapbox to stand on was good – did everyone really know what the electoral reform discussion is REALLY about? Minister Monsef talks a lot of the under-represented, the vulnerable and the disenfranchised. The government’s idea of electoral reform is meant to increase voter turnout. Here is the question, does the need to increase voter turnout REALLY need to include how Canadians vote?

I need to say this; if the aim was to hear from the disenfrachised at the meeting it did not work. Though a show of hands was not taken, I would gather 90% of those that attended voted in the last election. Clearly everyone who showed up is a dedicated voter. If only previous voters show up and talk at these meetings HOW will the government hear from the people Electoral reform is meant to represent? As for the percent of voters the meeting reached? With about 175 people in attendence, this meeting reached 0.2% of the voters in the riding of Ottawa West-Nepean. That number is likely less as I counted at least 5 other ridings that were represented at the meeting and spoke.

At the meeting, who knew what reforming our voting system actually would look like? There were no speakers talking about options, there was no one from the Democratic Reform Committee present – and MP Vandenbeld who is a expert on democray did not speak much at all about reform. Who would really know if anyone knew what they were talking about? It was clear in the meeting through that there were many who did their homework and spoke well (for their alotted 2 minutes) about reform or no reform, or a need or not a need for a referendum.

Here is something else, there were NO handouts about refomr from the MP. I was greated at the door of the meeting hall by former MPP Alex Cullen who handed out the NDP platform for voting and Julien Lamarche from Fair Vote Canada also provided reading material. There was nothing, nadda, zip and zilch from MP Vandebeld or the government about reform. MP Vandenbeld did provide feedback forms which could be filled out and dropped in a box or taken home to be completed and sent in to the MP’s office or via email.

What I found interesting was the look I received when I was asked by Fair Vote Canada why I was there – they were quite surprised I was there. My answer was “I have a real and deep interest in democracy.”

Asked what my preference was, the answer was quite simple. “First Canadians must have a say in ANY reform through a referendum. If we change from First Past the Post, I feel a Mixed Member Proportion system is the fairest. For some reason Mr. Cullen gave me the strangest of faces. He might have thought I was a knuckle dragger when it came to any change of our voting system, oh well.”

The next session I will be attending is in Ottawa Centre where my MP, Catherine McKenna will be the host. Hopefully the two hour meeting will have more information from the government about Democratic Reform.

If you are interested in attending on October 11th, the link for the meeting is here: http://cmckenna.liberal.ca/news-nouvelles/electoral-reform-consultation-tuesday-october-11-2016/ , I hope to see you there.

Image courtesy of @TheCapitalVoice

 
As always, thank you for reading this post, I appreciate the time you take to hear me out; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker & @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.