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September, 2010:

Interest building in municipal elections

Well, less than 4 weeks to go and the real politicking has begun in Ontario’s election contests. I am, of course, closely following the ones here in O-town, but I also watching the showdown in the Big Smoke. Right now it’s looks like a two man race between Etobicoke Councillor Rob Ford and ex-Grit cabinet Minister George Smitherman. What I don’t understand is WHY O WHY would support this guy Ford???? He is T-dot’s version of mayorlarry! Wake up Land of the Leafs!

Ahem. Now that I have that off my chest, back to ByTown…

A few things have caught my eye with 4 weeks to go:

1) How did a ringroad become an election issue? It wasn’t even on the radar two weeks ago and now it is a major story. I’ll tell ya how: Larry O’s team – even with the turnover we are seeing – are a smart buncha cookies. They saw an opening to at least partially redefine the campaign and they have succeeded. Now to see if the other main candidates can get back on theme.

2) Some Ottawans are getting tired of the “Larry and Jim” show. I wonder if Doucet and the others see this.

3) Word on the street is that Council incumbents are at risk in at least 7 Wards, maybe more. Not to get too much into details, but there has been a bit of a sense of franticness in some of the incumbents messages. Maybe they can afford private polling and don’t like what they see.

(Trashy can’t afford private polling).

4) I’m waiting for the bus strike to emerge as a key issue. Something I hear quite often is that transit users (there are thousands) of us are dying for a chance to punish Council for it’s perceived inaction during the strike. This is also why I believe that this City will not return the Chains of office to mayorlarry. Voters cannot vote out the ATU, but they sure can vote out the Council.

What, in your opinion, has been the biggest issue/nonissue/surprise thus far?


Alta Vista Ward

Today, I’m going to look at Alta Vista Ward – my Ward – and see what’s happening in my own backyard in the run for Council. There are 4 candidates, but there are only two that I will focus on in this post.

In alphabetical order…

Clinton Cowan

I have spoken with Clinton lately about his ideas on the need for change on Council and on the School Board.  He has some good notions and plans that vary from the beaten path and truly believes that our Councillor should reflect the wishes of  and be responsive to his or her constituents. He doesn’t believe that the incumbent has delivered in most respects and that he represents a change from that old standard.

This is sort of what I have been saying about the School Board. Clinton represents a “new wave” of elected officials who will make this great City even better partly because they are not part of the old guard and still have the ability to think and act in innovative ways. Others of this ilk in this election include Julia Ringma (Council candidate, College Ward) and Lale Eskicioglu (Orléans and Cumberland OCDSB candidate). New players with new approaches.

Clinton is using social media well – being on Facebook and Twitter (though he could Tweet a bit more often) – and he does seem to “get” the whole communications thing.  He is taking the “bloggers” approach to his website content (adding content as time goes on) and it will be fleshed out as the campaign rolls out.

Peter Hume (the incumbent)

I really didn’t have a problem with Peter until the last few years. I have lived in the Ward since 2003 and have made maybe a half dozen requests of the man – all OC Transpo related. In the first few years, he was pretty good at getting back to me. But then nothing. It’s like my enquiries were suddenly slotted into the “don’t bother” file.

And I’m not the only one. Friends and neighbours have seen the same thing. A few of us were concerned about cutbacks to the 148 and 149 bus schedules so we each emailed his office. After being promised a response we received nothing – even after some follow-up notes.

Communication with one’s constituents is essential. I am stressing it in my own campaign and Council candidates must do the same.

He doesn’t use social media very well – I don’t think he has a Facebook page nor is he on Twitter (correct me if I’m wrong, but I cannot find a thing).  His web page is not at all interactive – one page with a clickable link to a “Join Team Peter” page.  Someone should have told him that stuff like this is important in the 21st century.

It’s really too bad, he had some potential. If he is re-elected, I hope he realizes that he does have to reconnect with his constituents.

And, to be equitable, I did try to contact Peter directly a few weeks back to give him a chance to convince me that all of this has been a big mistake, I would have listened to him. But he never got back to me. I did get a call from one of his vols… and that was nice. But I wanted to speak to the candidate. As they say in the Twitterverse: #epicfail.

So, who to vote for?

Mr. Hume, deservedly or not, will be the victim of a widespread rebellion against incumbents in this election. After the LRT debacle, the Lansdowne mess, the OC Transpo strike, mayorlarry’s legal problems, the constant sniping at the Council table, the poor way the Green Bins were introduced… I could go on… but you get the idea. He may not be directly to blame for these missteps, but I think that most of Council will pay in any case.

We need a change at the School Board table and we need a change at the Council table.

I think Clinton Cowan is the guy who will deliver on this.

My money is on him.


Ottawans are engaging in local government… at least a bit.

From Blake Batson’s informative election site – Perspective Ottawa

The final numbers (unofficial) for the municipal election are as follows:

Running for mayor:  20 candidates (1 incumbent, 1 former mayor, 1 former regional chair)

Running for councillor: 110 candidates (19 incumbents)

As well,

Count ‘em – 29 candidates for Trustee positions on the OCDSB! Only ONE acclamation!

That’s up from 24 candidates in 2006 with 2 uncontested seats!

Way to go Ottawa!

Now let’s see those abysmal voter participation rates shoot up by 10 points or so!


Update on Brian Millar and the Tour de Lance…

November 11, 2010

It is with a heavy heart that I need to update this post with sad, sad news.

Brian passed away the other day in Montreal.

He was way too young. Yet he lived his life well while here.

My thoughts are with Iain, Margie and Erin… as well as all of his family and friends.

His life will be celebrated on Saturday, November 13, 2010 at 4:30 p.m. at the Mount Royal Funeral Complex 1297 Chemin de la Foret Outremont, Quebec H2V 2P9 (514) 279-6540          Reception to follow there. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a donation to Cedars Cancer Institute or Chateauguay Valley Regional High School Educational Foundation in Ormstown, Quebec.


Brian was sure hoping to be able to ride with Lance this weekend – but the disease reared its f***ing ugly head again recently, so (because he was successful in raising the 25K+) he has nominated his cousin to ride for him.

Thanks to all of you who have donated! You really have made a difference!

Here is the link to a recent article in the Montreal Gazette about Brian and some other tough SOBs who are refusing to quit.

And here is the text…but you will have to go to the site to see the uplifting vid sent from Lance to Brain.

MONTREAL – This weekend, 50 determined souls will strap on their helmets, settle onto the narrow seats of their racing bikes and pedal their way across 100 kilometres of beautiful Quebec countryside – all in the name of improving cancer treatment in the province.

Among the cyclists (presumably somewhere near the front of the pack) will be someone who knows a lot about battling the deadly disease. Seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong, a testicular cancer survivor, will no doubt be the main attraction at the third annual Tour de Lance fundraiser – to be held Saturday in Mont Tremblant – but each person planning to ride alongside him has a unique story to tell. The Gazette caught up with three of the riders to find out what motivated them to sign up for the event, what they’ve done to meet their individual fundraising goals of $25,000 and how they’ve been getting ready for the gruelling physical challenge ahead.

Brian Millar‘s personal battle with cancer began less than a year ago, but the 27-year-old has already confronted major surgery, eight rounds of chemotherapy and numerous hospital stays. When he was first diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in September 2009, Millar said, he was “shell-shocked” and felt helpless in the face of the illness – but a gift from his aunt changed his outlook dramatically.

“She brought me Lance’s book in hospital and I read it in one day,” Millar recounted. “I think reading that book helped me straighten my mind out.”

A few months later, Millar learned about the coming Tour de Lance event and decided it would be a great way to stay in shape while raising money for the Cedars Cancer Institute, a hospital-based charity that provides support to patients and health-care professionals at various hospitals in Montreal.

“I hadn’t previously been a cycling fan and didn’t know much about it, but after seeing in Lance’s book what you can do with fundraising, I thought it would be neat,” he said. “I had no idea if I’d be healthy enough to do it.”

At first, it seemed like he would be healthy enough. Millar began training regularly on a stationary bike and his regular bike, and he and his family organized several fundraising dinners and other charity events to meet his fundraising goal. Then about seven weeks ago, Millar’s condition suddenly began to deteriorate, and he was forced to acknowledge that he couldn’t complete the ride. That’s when his cousin Graham stepped in and volunteered to take his place.

“He’ll be flying in from Calgary,” Millar said. “He has raced bikes his whole life and is one of the biggest Lance Armstrong fans I know. I’ve kept going with the fundraising because it’s really something that I want to do.”

Millar now faces a stem-cell transplant and, depending on how strong he’s feeling, he may or may not make it to Mont Tremblant this weekend to cheer on his cousin and meet Armstrong in person.

“I really wish I could be there,” he said. “But my health comes first.”


Public schools are back in business tomorrow morning!

So, please, please, please be careful on your streets and roads!

The little ones may not yet know the “rules of the road” so it up to the rest of us to ensure that the first day of school is full of happy memories for everyone.

This is the law in Ontario:

Drivers – always stop for the bus

Whether on a city street, highway or county road, and regardless of the speed limit and the number of lanes, motorists travelling in both directions must stop when approaching a stopped school bus with its upper red lights flashing. A flashing stop arm will swing out while passengers are boarding or leaving the bus. (The only exception: on highways separated by a median, traffic coming from the opposite direction is not required to stop). Once all passengers have boarded, the STOP arm will fold away. Do not start moving until the red lights have stopped flashing and the bus begins to move.


First offence:   $400 to $2,000 and six demerit points
Each subsequent offence:   $1,000 to $4,000, six demerit points and possible jail time up to six months


Parents – be advised…

Parents and students – be warned. The Amalgamated Transit Union is saying that there will be problems next week when everyone returns to classes.

I’d take the warning seriously and plan accordingly.

A document obtained by CTV Ottawa from the Amalgamated Transit Union shows 680 bus trips have been cancelled and not backfilled this week, leaving transit users stuck waiting at the curb.

“There was only one bus at St. Laurent and it was so full and everyone was in it. And I had to wait and I came late to school,” said student Hagar Lakhtar, whose bus didn’t show up Friday morning.

The union says this week’s problem is nothing compared to what they expect to see next week.

Bus drivers say if the city doesn’t take action soon, the number of cancelled trips could double for the busy back-to-school and back-to-work rush.

Here’s hoping that we elect a Council that can work with the ATU to ensure that these hiccups do not happen in the future.


Bay Ward is a craaaaazzy place to run for Council

So, Alex Cullen left his Bay Ward Council seat because he didn’t want to do that anymore. He wanted to be Mayor.

But now he has changed his mind and wants to be re-elected in Bay Ward as the Council member.

BUT, he doesn’t rule out a run at the Dipper federal nomination for Ottawa Centre at some time during his tenure as Bay Ward Councillor – thus necessitating an appointment or a costly by-election some time mid-term.

Wow. The guy has chutzpah – I’ll give him that.

I wonder who else will join the race before the cut-off for nominations on the 10th? Here is the list so far:

Ward 7 – Bay

Name Telephone Fax E-mail
Ike Awgu 613-422-9256
Alex Cullen 613-729-8425
George Guirguis 613-262-0123
G.J. Hagenaars 613-686-3965
Peter Heyck 613-853-4251 613-747-9317
Oni Joseph 613-883-9285
Terry Kilrea 613-291-6186
Shawn Little 613-722-7501
Erik Olesen 613-262-9993
Greg Ross 613-820-8309

Mark Taylor

Bart Simpson