Category Archives: Ottawa Elections

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

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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.

Ten little nudges to consider as encouragement to Vote

Top Ten

Everyone has heard that we should vote because our fathers and forefathers fought so we can have the right to vote. There are many who believe voting should be a law punishable by a fine.

In 2010 only less than 10,000 residents cast a ballot in Somerset Ward where 23,000 are registered. Will an open race encourage voters to come out? Will an open race put pressure on candidates to get their supporters to the polls?

Rather than the beat you down approach to vote, here are ten thoughts that I hope will encourage you to vote, in whatever ward you live in, on Monday in the 2014 Municipal Elections in Ottawa.

  1. Your ward is open because the incumbent is not running. This is your chance to avoid the “she (or he) will just get in again” excuse. Vote for the change you always wanted in your ward because this year there will be change.
  1. In the case that your Mayor/Councillor is the incumbent and is expected to win re-election, vote to display your dissatisfaction with their work (if that is the case). A smaller margin of victory does send a message to the re-elected candidate.
  1. In the case that your Mayor/Councillor is the incumbent and is expected to win re-election, vote to display your satisfaction with their work they have been doing (if that is the case). Every vote counts and a large margin of victory for the candidate will make them and YOU feel good about your decision.
  1. Not many candidates came to your door and you can’t make a 100% informed decision. Base your vote on WHO did come to your door – it’s the other candidate’s loss if they didn’t visit you.
  1. Platform, platform, platform – vote for the ideas that struck a chord with you.
  1. Friends of yours are working for a candidate. If you trust your friends, vote for the candidate they are working for.
  1. I have never been a supporter of a spoiled ballot, but they do count spoiled ballots on the final tally. It could be your way to send a message.
  1. It’s not the most scientific, try voting by signs, which candidate do you think ran a good campaign with the use of signs?
  1. A candidate asked you for your vote and you said yes but now you think time is an issue. The candidate is counting on your vote. Call their office and ask for a ride, Polls are open from 10am to 8pm – your candidate will do everything they can to get you to the poll to vote before polls close.
  2. You are not just voting for Mayor and Councillor and the future of your city, you are also voting for School Board Trustee and the future of education being delivered to the children where you live – it is just as important.

Whatever reason spoke to you and you go out to vote, congratulations! By voting you now have a moral reason to talk about the outcome and whatever happens in the next four years.

I invite you to share your ideas by commenting to this post or any post on my blog. You can also email me directly at robdekkeroc@gmail.com.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.

What is going on in College Ward?

Ottawa Election 2014

College Ward is proving to be a microcosm of what is right and wrong with this election.

In College Ward there are four candidates; the incumbent Rick Chiarelli and the challengers Guy Annable, Craig MacAulay and Scott McLarens.

This ward has four distinct categories of candidates.

Scott McLarens is ‘The Rookie’. I will never say a bad thing about anyone that puts their name forward for election; it takes guts to put your name on a ballot. Scott, with all the best intentions was not prepared and it showed in his debate performances. I hope that this has ignited a further fire inside to be a working part of his community.

I call Craig MacAulay ‘The Example’. The example of why we need more stringent rules and qualifications to be a candidate. In the debates I have seen, he is disruptive and comes with little in the way of a substantive platform. His antics take away from the debate that should be taking place. If you don’t believe me watch the College Ward debate that was aired on Rogers TV.

I give Guy Annable the name of ‘The Excitable’. Guy can be undisciplined in his presentation, but that comes from the enthusiasm he has in this campaign. He has presented his ideas about green bins, garbage and using existing rail infrastructure to expand the O-Train (Press Conference Oct 22nd City Hall 11am). He is holding Chiarelli to account for bad decisions (not reading contracts) and more importantly has promised to do what is expected of a Councillor – know what they are voting on.

For the incumbent Rick Chiarelli, I’ll call him ‘The Australian’. Why? Because it seems as if in this election he has gone on a walkabout. He casually strolls through this campaign uninspired looking tired and bored. Many see this as a walk in the park for the incumbent, but he should be reminded that he was once the newbie Councillor who defeated his own Goliath back in 1988 for a seat on the old Nepean City Council. It’s been proven time and time again, history does repeat itself.

“The Rookie”, “The Example”, “The Excitable” and “The Australian” won’t be on the ballot on Monday the 27th, but what the type of candidate they represent will be.

With all due respect to Scott and Craig, the vote comes down to who has worked hardest in this campaign for the vote in College Ward.

Who would you like to have represent you, the “same old same old” going through the motions or someone who is campaigning like they REALLY want your vote? College Ward, you get to decide.

Note: I personally know Guy Annable and have provided some advice to his campaign. My observations come after watching his progress in this election.

I invite you to share your ideas by commenting to this post or any post on my blog. You can also email me directly at robdekkeroc@gmail.com.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.

Three items that got my attention this past week in the 2014 Ottawa Election

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Finally, a Political Slate! Jim Watson says he does not believe in a slate of candidates. It’s a good thing others do – it’s made for some interesting election reporting.

The #PropertyOwnersSlate is comprised of 15 candidates led by Mark Scharfe, a Candidate in Osgoode Ward. The slate is made of all challengers, no incumbents – advocating for the return of weekly garbage pickup. Other issues in the group’s 4 point platform include the cancellation of the Green Bin program, giving Ottawa Hydro dividends back to its customers and the cancellation of the city biosolids program. However the return of weekly garbage pickup is the issue that is getting the traction that the group of 15 are looking for. Candidates in other wards, though not part of the slate including Matt Muirhead in Kanata North and Lili Weemen in Somerset have also come out in support of the idea.

It is difficult to determine how this will play out in the end, but at least it’s given the voters and the reporters something to talk about.

Let’s show School Board Trustee Candidates some of the electoral spotlight

Each property owner pays taxes that support the activity of the City; they also pay taxes that go to one of four school boards that educate the children of Ottawa. So quick tell me…who is running to be the school board trustee in in your zone for your school board? Do you know what zone you are voting in? Do you know what board you pay taxes to? I hope you can at least answer the third question.

But what about numbers one and two, can you answer them?

The Board Trustee Candidates in most wards have not had the opportunity to debate in front of those they are trying to get support from. Community Associations are focused on Council Candidates, as they should – the councillors will have to work closely with these communities. So who can organize these public forums and debates? How about the people closest to the schools, the Parent Councils in each of the schools?

If you have children in any of the four school boards, even if you don’t and are concerned about our education systems contact the Parent Council of your school, encourage them to work with other councils in your zone and organize a public meeting. Have the questions you need answered asked. Let the candidates tell you why they are seeking your vote – they need to do that and deserve the chance to have that opportunity.

#OttVote Advance Polls

I can now say I voted!

I voted last week at the Advance Poll that was in my building in Somerset Ward. The City estimates that over four days (the first three days to vote were October 1-3 in a special poll and Advance Poll October 9th) more than 28,000 people voted. In 2010, in just two advanced poll days 42,178 people took advantage of the early voting.

The poll clerks working in my building said that turnout was slow when Liz and I voted around 6pm. It did not surprise me that the election staff were not busy, the only signage announcing that the building was a poll location was inside, there were no signs or ‘sandwich boards’ outside inviting the public to vote indeed. To be fair, voters would have known about the location on the voters’ cards and via the city website – but I know a visible reminder does more than an unopened piece of mail with a voters’ card.

The next scheduled Advance Poll is Saturday October 18 2014. If you know you can’t vote on the 27th – vote on the 18th from 10am to 5pm. I await the final number of ballots cast in the five days of advance polls. The five are up from last year, but far below the 11 days of polls that the City of Mississauga (a city of 713,000 residents compared to Ottawa’s 900,000) has before election day.

But please, make sure you vote!

I invite you to share your ideas by commenting to this post or any post on my blog. You can also email me directly at robdekkeroc@gmail.com. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.

The Known and Unknown of the 2014 Ottawa Election

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In Project Management there are knowns and unknowns. In the Risk Management of a project the known risks and unknown risks are considered into the mitigation of these risks to ensure a project is a success.

There has been much said about 25% of Council seats changing. We have ‘known’ that 6 wards will have new representation because of incumbents stepping down.

The ‘unknown’ is how many current Councillors could be unseated? In the 2010 Ottawa Municipal Elections six incumbent councillors were defeated. That election saw Stephen Blais, Tim Tierney, Mathieu Fleury, Katherine Hobbs, Scott Moffatt and Mark Taylor beat the incumbent advantage. Jim Watson also defeated incumbent Larry O’Brien to take over the Mayors’ chair. The 2010 vote saw a 48% change in people sitting around the council table.

Who are the unknowns of the 2014 Ottawa Election that could unseat an incumbent?

Here are the Wards where the threats of the unknown taking over are greatest.

Kanata North: Marianne Wilkinson promised in 2010 she would not run again, she changed her mind. In 2010 she took half the vote, but Jeff Seeton also took 45%. This time around Jeff is back and Matt Muirhead is challenging Ms. Wilkinson as well. The three way split could see a change in the Kanata North.

West Carleton – March: Of all the wards that could turn, this has the smallest chance but I include it because the wildly popular Eli El-Chantiry is going up against the wildly popular Jonathan Mark. It’s a small chance, but I like Jonathan’s chances here, it will depend on his organization and his ability to get his supporters to vote.

Stittsville: A two person race can be an incumbent’s worst scenario. In Ward 6 the outcome here this will depend on how unhappy Stittsville residents are with garbage, Orgaworld and transit. There could be a new Councillor for the residents of Stittsville.

Bay: It was only four years ago that Alex Cullen lost this seat to Mark Taylor. Cullen is back and could take this back if voters are looking for someone to put up more of a fight at council.

Gloucester – Southgate: Has the Ward had enough of Diane Deans? This question has been asked many times. Will 2014 be the year Ms. Deans is retired by the voters? Just like in Kanata North, the split caused by having strong candidates running usually saves the incumbent, I think 2014 the outcome might be different.

Rideau-Vanier: Mathieu Fleury has his work cut out for him this year; he is up against some stiff competition.

Rideau – Rockcliffe: Peter Clarke won this Ward with only 25% of the vote in a field of 10. There are 5 candidates challenging Clark this time around. 25% of the vote could win the election this time around again – I don’t think it will be Peter Clark with the 25%.

Kitchissippi: This is an interesting Ward, with 3 of the 4 challengers all vying for the same anti-development vote. I expect that Katherine Hobbs will keep her seat and serve for another 4 years.

Rideau-Goulbourn: Scott Moffatt took this seat in ’10 because Glen Brook was complacent. There is a lot of talk that the rural vote will go elsewhere. I don’t see it happening in 2014. Scott has stood his ground at council supporting the rural vote.

With these nine ‘unknown’ outcomes, council could again see an almost 50% changeover in councillors. My guess is that as many as five incumbents will go down to defeat with almost a cleaning of house in the west end with the exception Kanata South.

On the night of October 27th we see how many unknowns become a known.

I invite you to share your ideas by commenting to this post or any post on my blog. You can also email me directly at robdekkeroc@gmail.com.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.