Category Archives: Ottawa Elections

Ottawa Election Primer: Breaking the Gender Barrier

Democracy is not easy 1There has been a lot of discussion on breaking the gender barrier at Ottawa City Hall with the results of the October 22ndelection.  Currently the council table has four female councillors.  With Marianne Wilkinson retiring the number of female councillors could drop to 3 if no others are elected.  This seems to be very unlikely as there are a number of wards where very strong female candidate are seeking a seat at the table.

Let’s address the one seat that in 2018 will not be filled by a woman, the Mayors chair.  Ottawa will have to wait four years to see if a woman will run for Mayor in 2022.  One name that continues to rise to the conversation is Diane Deans.  If Diane Deans wins re-election next week, 2022 might be the year she officially throws her hat in the ring to replace Jim Watson who I believe will not seek a fourth consecutive term as Ottawa’s Mayor.

In 2018 there is a good opportunity to double the count of women councillors to 8. Here is a run down of what could happen, this post will look at the 23 ward seats only.

The sure bets

Seats in Barrhaven, Somerset are a guaranteed win for incumbents Jan Harder and Catherine McKenney.  An almost sure bet is Diane Deans in Gloucester-Southgate. With these three the count is 3/3 for women councillors.

Guaranteed to have a man in the seat

The following wards will elect a male councillor (because there are no women candidates); Stittsville, Knoxdale-Merivale, Beacon Hill-Cyrville, Rideau Vanier, Rideau Rockcliffe, Kitchissippi, Rideau Goulbourn and Kanata South.  The council table now has 3/11 women councillors around it.

Likely to elect a woman councillor

There are wards that will likely elect a woman. Here I am going to lean towards a positive outcome for the ladies in a tight race.  Innes Ward has three female candidates.  No offence to Francois Trepenier, the three other women candidates are much stronger than he is.  In Ward 22, Gloucester-South Nepean, I don’t see voters passing on Carol Anne Meehan, she should get elected.  We are now up to 5/13 seats having a female councillors.

Likely to elect a male councillor

There a few wards where I expect to have a man elected, where there are female candidates running.  The elected will come from West Carleton-March, Capital, Alta Vista, Cumberland and Osgoode Wards.  The ratio drops to 5/18 with 5 wards left to look at.

Expect to elect a male councillor here

Even with good female candidates running, a male will represent these wards; College and River with the incumbents being re-elected giving council a 5/20 female/male ratio.

I think woman will have a good chance to be elected in these three wards

In Orleans with 17 candidates running, Catherine Kitts is the top woman candidate and she would be a good selection for voters in that ward if the voters wanted a woman councillor.  Kanata North has a 3-way race for the seat; Jenna Suds has as good a chance as David Gourlay and Matt Muirhead to win there.  The final female councillor will come from Bay Ward where Theresa Kavanagh will win the seat her husband Alex Cullen held a few terms ago. With these three ladies, City Council will double the number of female candidates from 4/23 to 8/23 (I have not included the Mayors chair).

With more female candidates, I expect decisions to be made differently.  Committees will also have a different make up which will change how they operate as well. The 8/23 is not 50-50 but it is a good start to smashing the glass ceiling that has been at Ottawa City Council since amalgamation in 2001.

I’ll have one more pre-election blog post on the Ottawa election posted before October 22nd with my look at the new council and who I believe will be sitting around it.

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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A Municipal Writ Drop

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“Re-election for a winning candidate starts the day after the election”

“Incumbency is an advantage”

“You can’t stop the business of City Hall”

These statements all came out of one tweet.

It is time for municipal elections to have a 28 day writ period. Having the Mayor and Councillors conduct business while campaigning for re-election is a conflict. We have fixed election dates, why not a fixed “writ” period as well.

It’s the rule federally and provincially, there’s an official writ period – a time when MP’s and MPP’s/MLA’s/MNA’s are not “in office”.  But while there are technically no elected representatives, the ‘running’ of the government never stops – not even during an election.  During the writ period elected officials running for re-election do not perform ‘official’ activities. Typically a writ period is between 28 and 36 days. There have been some exceptions though; in the 2015 federal election then Prime Minister Harper invoked a 78-day writ period. The 2006 election that was required because of a non-confidence vote against the Paul Martin government in November 2005 required an 8 week election period to accommodate a two week Christmas and New Year break.  During the break no campaigning took place. Surprising all parties adhered to that!

While fixed election dates are relatively new in federal and provincial elections, municipal elections have had fixed dates for some time.  The fixed dates allow for planning of elections and the planning of keeping the wheels of government turning during the writ periods.  It makes sense that the idea of the writ period is extended to municipal elections.  What has become clear is that without a writ period, any Mayor or Councillor can and does campaign while working.  How does this seem NOT to be a conflict of interest?

The arguments given against a dedicated campaign period include the time development applications have to be addressed.  People also cite the need for representation at the most local level is available at all times and others believe that the city would stop working if there were a writ period.

The writ period would only be 28 days (or so) every four years; I think developers and others can work around that especially since the dates would be clearly noted by the city.  Like federal and provincial elections provisions are made to have at east one person working in the office of the representative. Here in Ottawa, or in any other municipality if you call a Councillors office tomorrow (during the election) someone will answer the phone.  Because the election is on it doesn’t stop the councillor’s or the mayor’s office from talking to residents. Business as usual.

Recent changes altered the registration period for candidates from January 1st to May 1st and subsequently increased the incumbent advantage.  There has to be a time where incumbents cannot use their position to smudge the line between campaign activities and elected official duties.

One only needs to look at the social media accounts of Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, he tweets that he has meetings and will attend a gala event (as a Mayor) and have a campaign event (as the Candidate for Mayor) all in ONE tweet.   Jim Watson found in a conflict?

For him and others there is no distinguishing official duty from a campaign activity. In the current Ottawa elections, the mayor has been caught in a conflict where it was seen he was using his elected duties to publicize a campaign announcement and using his social media doing it.

A 28-day writ period will level the playing field for 4 weeks, there would be no openings for the Mayor or Councillor to attend and then share on Facebook.  No Community fairs that would be part of duties as the elected official – just as a candidate looking for votes.  The province short changed challengers with a shorter period for campaigning – reducing the time a Mayor acts as Mayor during the campaign is a tiny consolation.

We ask for transparency in our elected officials every day when they’re in office, for 28 days every four years transparency should be even greater when elected officials are campaigning for re-election. All I suggest is that a 28 day writ period is fair – it works for MP’s and MPP’s and I don’t hear those elected officials complaining.  It should work for Municpalities.

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

Ottawa Election Primer, the final 5

Ottawa Vote 2

In a final instalment in the series, the candidates in the last of the 23 wards will be profiled.  The final five wards are River, Gloucester-Southgate, Kitchissippi, Kanata South and Rideau-Rockcliffe.

 

 

River

Of the wards where a sitting councillor is seeking re-election, River Ward is where I think the likelihood of an incumbent not returning to City Hall will happen. Riley Brockington won the ward in 2014 with 36% of the vote in a field split by nine other candidates. This time around Riley faces only three challengers; Fabien Kalala, Kerrie Keith and Hassib Reda.  My comments aren’t because Brockington hasn’t worked in the community, indeed he has to make roads safer as he has been a loud voice to reduce speeds in front of schools.  My thoughts are due to the quality of candidates he is facing.

All three challengers bring good ideas to the campaign; Fabien, from viewing his priorities, is presenting a socio-economic platform; Hassib has a platform that addresses traditional municipal concerns plus adds banning single use plastics and re-pricing transit fares (to the point of making OC Transpo a money losing city operation).  Kerrie Keith has presented a couple of priorities in her blog. She cites (so far) safe streets and planning around the new Civic hospital site, however she also stresses her use of an electric car and being cycle commuter being reasons to vote for her. If I lived in River ward it wouldn’t convince me to vote for her.

River Ward will be an interesting race, the debates will be where the race will be won or lost so if you live in River Ward don’t miss a single one.

Gloucester-Southgate

All though it never rose above a rumour, Diane Deans’ look at the running for the Mayor’s chair never took place.  But like Tobi Nussbaum in Rideau-Rockcliffe, Deans has found her voice against the ‘what Jim Watson wants, Jim Watson gets’ city leadership and it might be enough to give her an 8thterm on City Council. Her four qualified opponents know just what they are up against. My hope is that Alek Golijanin, Sam Soucy, Robert Swaita and Perry Sabourin learn from this campaign because 2022 just might be the year Deans’ decides to run for Mayor.

Kitchissippi 

In a ward where the sitting Councillor has been bounced after one term for the past four elections, Jeff Leiper may have found the secret to re-election.  Be one with the community.  He faces one other candidate, Daniel Stringer who ran in previous elections but he poses no threat to Jeff Leiper. With a stronger candidate who would promise to battle developers, as Leiper did in 2014, Leiper might have faced the same fate as Katherine Hobbs and Christine Leadman before him.  Alas, Leiper will have four more years to truly battle developers.

Kanata South

If you look at the ward map for Kanata South the one thing that strikes you is just how residentially heavy the ward is. Allan Hubley has been councillor since 2010. and he easily won re-election in 2014.

Issues in Kanata South, are repeated by all four candidates; roads, infrastructure, Transit/LRT and policing.  There are nuances from each.  Hubley promises to continue to the positive change in parks, roads and infrastructure.  Doug Large preaches the 4 R’s; River, Roads, Recreation and Responsibility. Looking to be the ‘community’ candidate Steve Anderson promises to bring a BIA to Kanata South and empower community associations to have a bigger impact on the lives of Kanata South families.  The third challenger is Mike Brown and he is campaigning on better care for Kanata South roads and wants to see greater accountability at city hall for the spending of tax dollars.  Brown is the only candidate that seems to think that 2% tax increases are not viable and wants to review tax increases and evaluate how those tax dollars are allocated in the city budget.

While I haven’t heard much of a roar for change for Kanata South, but that doesn’t mean Hubley is a sure thing.  Anderson, Brown and Large will have to work hard though to take the seat from the incumbent Allan Hubley.

Rideau-Rockcliffe

Another one on one ballot battle is taking place in Rideau-Rockcliffe and also another ballot that see the sitting councillor win re-election.  Councillor Tobi Nussbaum has been a loud advocate for following the city’s development rules and respecting community design plans and respecting a community’s voice.  I thought Nussbaum might be a one-term councillor only because I thought he would give a run at Watson for the Mayor’s chair this year.

Nussbaum’s lone competitor, Peter Heyck may only catch on in the Ward due to his objection to the move of the Salvation Army out of the Byward Market to Montreal Rd but it will not be enough to win.

In the end Nussbaum will take this because he unlike many others around the council table has lost his battles to Jim Watson – but at least he stood up and tried – voters like a person who stands up for what he believes in.

I hope you enjoyed reading this series of posts as much as I have enjoyed writing them for you.  More posts about the Ottawa election are coming. If you have any questions or comments or as a candidate would like a profile on this blog please contact me.

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

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

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

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