Tag Archives: Jim Watson

2018 in the rear view mirror

2018 ends in a few days and it’s time to look in the rear-view mirror on some events that shaped the past 12 months and a few that we should be looking out for in 2019.  35 posts (so far – including this one were posted on this blog, and a good portion, 9 were focused on the Ottawa Municipal elections.  I wrote five posts that were oriented to Ontario politics and the elections there. Six books were reviewed and the remainder of the posts were single topic posts from BC referendum on election reform, South Africa’s day zero of water availability, the #MeToo movement and there were a couple of music posts earlier this month.

In one of my first posts of the year I declared I was living a political year.  The promise I made to myself was to engage in debate and be better educated in my surroundings.  I reviewed three books last year one talked about our political system (On The House by Rob Walsh, posted in January) another was about our ancient societies and how we should always be listening to our past (The Wayfinders by Wade Davis, posted in April) and a third (No is Not Enough by Naomi Klein, posted January) was about a new political way that claimed the NDP Leadership of Thomas Mulcair, that sadly Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis the key authors of the Leap Manifesto chose not to claim.  Now the NDP have Jagmeet Singh as leader and the party’s hopes of a comeback seem dimmer because of it as he doesn’t seem to have grabbed the imagination of the left.

The results of the Ottawa and Ontario elections were not that much of a surprise, Jim Watson walked back to this office as mayor of Ottawa the day after the election with another huge win.  Doug Ford won not once but twice within 4 months and he moved from the Office of the Leader of Opposition on the 3rdfloor of Queens Park to the Premiers Office one floor below.  Both Doug Ford and Jim Watson face new challenges based solely on how they govern.  Watson’s governance model was challenged with his “nominations” for the selection of committee chairs and committee members.  The choices were seen as autocratic and bypassed the nominations committee at city hall.  None of the Watson named committee chairs were denied the nominations given to them by the Mayor.  

While no one should have been surprised by the actions of Premier Ford, everyone acted like there were.  I guess 15 years of Liberal rule in Ontario gave voters a blind spot when it came to his actions, all he claimed, were campaign promises. Those who didn’t vote for the Ontario PCs went on the warpath and protested.  A former Ontario cabinet minister told me once that if there were no groups protesting on the front lawn of Queen’s Park they were doing something wrong.  I believe it would be a true statement for any party in power to make.

Social media and politics provided much to ponder as our political landscape changed.  Elected politicians were challenged by those for the most part that did not vote for them went online and on social media to vent.  In the past year social media became a live debate between voters and our elected officials.  Until recently politicians who blocked those who did not agree with them did so with out any pushback.  In the 2018 Ottawa elections Mayor Watson was challenged for blocking those who oppose his views on social media.  A court challenge was launched and he relented, the Mayor unblocked all Twitter users he had previously blocked.  

The public discussion in the media (and on Social Media) on politicians using publicly paid devices for social media but limiting who could see them online didn’t provide much sympathy from voters. What resulted was the suggestion that politicians should grow a thicker skin rather shut people out.  Those who opposed the mayor’s actions cited the May decision in US Federal court that President Trump could not block twitter users. Once Mayor Watson relented, other local Ottawa elected officials followed suit. 

As Parliament rose for the Christmas/Winter break we saw in most polls a gap between the Liberals and Conservative party narrowing where it could be toss up between Andrew Scheer and Justin Trudeau. This does not shine well on Trudeau who for most of his term he has had a good lead above the CPC.  However government missteps, bad legislation and the move of the Liberals to a virtue signalling style of governing has Canadians thinking, “I voted Liberal, but I did not vote for this”.  

In 2015 the election was all about Stephan Harper, if Justin Trudeau has his way the 2019 election will be all about Stephen Harper as well.  You only have to go back to the Liberal convention in July held in Ottawa. There, Trudeau spent his entire keynote address attacking Stephen Harper – yep, he was going after the former Prime Minister as if he was still the leader of the conservatives.  Too bad the room was filled with Liberals so they took the whole 26oz of Liberal Kool-Aid without a pause for a breath.  In the last weeks leading to Parliament rising, Trudeau and his Ministers were answering questions in the house as if Harper was across the aisle looking at them.  Canadians must be confused by now.

As 2018 turns to 2019, I look forward to writing about more politics, writing more about books I’ve read and music I’ve been listening to.  Thank you for reading and providing comments about #RedHeartBlueSign, I hope you’ll continue to read along as post here.  

I’ve thought about expanding how I might talk about the things that interest me.  I have set up a new website, www.robertdekker.cawhich has some content, but I hope to use that for posting #RedHeartBlueSign posts and perhaps video content – I hope you’ll like what I will be bringing to 2019 and to you.

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’s 2018 Election – 6/24

Nominations have closed across Ontario for Municipal Elections on October 22nd.

In Ottawa there were a few more names added to the list of candidates vying to fill one of the 24 seats around the Council Table before the deadline came and passed. I’ll take a look at a few of the 24 races now and as the weeks approach voting day I’ll have the opportunity to take a look at all 24 races and perhaps make a few predictions. Today, I’ll take a look at 5 ward races and the race for the Mayor’s chain.

Ottawa Votes 2018

Mayor

There are 12 people running to be Ottawa’s Mayor, but I’ll make it easy for you –  there are only three names you need to pay attention to. He was as close to being acclaimed as a person can be with 9 unrecognizable names running against him. With nominations closing former Councillor and ex-mayor candidate Clive Doucet signed up to challenge Watson and is hoping for better result than in 2014.

The final challenger is Bruce McConville a former challenger in Rideau-Vanier against the former Councillor Georges Bedard. McConville came within 200 votes of winning in 2006, a mere .72% difference in votes and against a ‘legend’ of Vanier politics.  McConville also ran in the ward in 2003.

McConville is a Vanier business owner, but more importantly he was part of SOS Vanier’s  (read my post about SOS Vanier here Battle for Vanier) fight to prevent the Salvation Army from relocating to Montreal Rd., he is now going to take his fight to the voters of Ottawa and City Hall. He has come out swinging and has stated he will make affordable housing and homelessness an issue all voters in Ottawa should hear about.

Watson is the front-runner, but the election for the next Mayor of Ottawa just got interesting. Progressives in Ottawa now have their wishes filled,  there is a mayoral candidate to make housing and homelessness a major policy issue; will they embrace Bruce McConville in this election?

Orleans

The retirement of Bob Monette has created a stampede to the Elections Ottawa registration desk with 17 candidates lining up. 11 men and 6 women want to be the Councillor of Ward 1. The good news is that the winner will likely need only 20% of the vote to win. The bad news is with 17 people in the running getting to 20% will be a challenge. This ward is literally a toss up.

College

For whatever reason Rick Chiarelli waited until the last week to register to seek re-election. I know that Chiarelli is extremely popular, but has he over stayed his welcome? There are two credible opponents this time; Emilie Coyle a lawyer and Director of the Refugee Sponsorship Support Program; and Ryan Kennery a former advisor to Mayor Watson. Chiarelli and his delayed registration may have cast doubts in the minds of the voters of College Ward of his desire to continue in his position.

I am never one to consider that a Chiarelli is ever out of an election race, but in 2018, the voters may have taken Chiarelli’s delay in registering as a sign and College Ward residents might be looking for a change.

 Beacon Hill-Cyrville

Tim Tierney was hours from being acclaimed for his third term on Council. The last minute addition of a second candidate will not change the outcome of the voting in Beacon Hill-Cyrville.

Rideau-Goulbourn

Will this be a case of the staffer becomes the Councillor or will the Councillor take the Staffer to the woodshed? Councillor Scott Moffatt has held this seat since 2010. The interesting aspect of this race is that David Brown worked with Moffatt. Both candidates have the experience of working the Ward issues. This race will come down to whether Rideau-Goulbourn voters feel that Moffatt has served them well and deserves another term. I give the advantage to Scott Moffatt.

Gloucester-South Nepean

Like Beacon Hill-Cyrville, Gloucester-South Nepean was almost an acclamation for sitting Councillor Michael Qaqish. Something happened on the way to the 2pm nomination day deadline, four challengers appeared, including a high profile candidate – former Ottawa CTV News Anchor Carol Anne Meehan. Since she was let go by CTV Ottawa she has kept her profile high through a blog and a short stint on 1310 News with her own radio show. If Meehan can translate her popularity to votes she could have a new job October 23rd; if not, Qaqish wins. This will be a race to watch.

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

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