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March, 2011:

Brave Sir Stephen. Brave debater.

NARRATOR:  The Tale of Sir Stephen….

So each of the knights went their separate ways. Liz to the east. Jack to the left, Gilles off the map,  Sir Michael to the centre and Sir Stephen rode hard right, through the dark forest of Ontario, accompanied by his favorite lapdogs minstrels, MINSTREL John and MINSTREL Pierre.

MINSTREL Pierre (singing):

Bravely bold Sir Stephen, rode forth from Ottawa. He was not afraid to debate, o Brave Sir Stephen.

He was not at all afraid to debate Liz May.

Brave, brave, brave, brave Sir Stephen!

He was not in the least bit scared to have his make-up smushed                          

Or to have his ego gouged out, and his spirit broken.

To have his caucus split, and his Cabinet burned away,

And his Fraser Institute all hacked and mangled, brave Sir Stephen!

Iggy smashed his lies and cut out his deceit,                 

And his lying exposed and his arrogance laid bare,                                

And his So-Cons–

STEPHEN:  That’s — that’s, uh, that’s enough music for now, lads. Looks like there’s dirty work afoot.

Sir Bob:  Debates are a way of preserving freedom.

Bev:  Oh, Bob, forget about freedom.  Now I’ve dropped my mud. Not.

Sir Bob:  Halt!  Who art thou?

MINSTREL John (singing):  He is brave Sir Stephen, brave Sir Stephen, who–

STEPHEN: Shut up!  Um, n-n-nobody really, I’m j-just um, just passing through.

Sir Bob: What do you want? To debate Michael Ignatieff???

MINSTREL Pierre (singing):  To debate, and–

STEPHEN:  Shut up!  Um, oo, n-nothing, nothing really — I, uh, j-j-ust to um, just to p-pass through, good Sir knight.

MINSTREL John (singing):  Brave Sir Stephen ran away


MINSTREL Pierre (singing):  Bravely ran away away

STEPHEN:  I didn’t!

MINSTREL John (singing):  When Iggy reared his fine-coiffed head, He bravely turned his tail and fled


MINSTREL Pierre (singing):  Yes Brave Sir Stephen turned about

STEPHEN:  I didn’t!

MINSTREL John (singing):  And gallantly he chickened out bravely taking to his feet

STEPHEN:  I never did!

MINSTREL Pierre (singing):  He beat a very brave retreat

STEPHEN:  Oh, lie!

MINSTREL John (singing):  Bravest of the brave Sir Stephen

STEPHEN:  I never!


@rickmercer sez: vote

So vote, for cripes sake… and get involved, man!

There are young people on this planet who are facing down BIG FREAKING HELICOPTERS… just to have the chance to vote.


Ottawa election financial statements – I needed a fundraising coordinator

Gotta love transparency! True to their word, the mandatory financial statements as submitted by the candidates involved in last Fall’s municipal elections were published on the City website yesterday and WOW! Was I ever outspent! It is amazing how much $$$ some of the candidates sunk into their campaigns and how much they raised through contributions! Even the 3rd candidate in my Zone spent about 8 times more than I did (but he got only ¼ of the votes).

Bronwyn (the incumbent) spent $3,500 – which was peanuts when compared to the candidate who went up against John Shea in Orleans – she raised 11K! On the other end of the scale, ex-Chair Cathy Curry claimed only $600 in expenses… she was even more frugal than yours truly!

Note to self – next time, if there is a next time, find a fundraising coordinator!

Of course, as a statistician, I have to look at this using a common denominator – money spent per vote received. And  I guess on a dollar per vote basis, I rocked. Yay me.

  • Me – $0.17/vote
  • The incumbent (Bronwyn) – $0.48/ vote
  • The third candidate (Mohamoud) – $4.23 /vote

Some of the statements really blew me away! Aside from the one candidate who received over $11K in contributions,  Another sunk more than 10K of his own money into it! Another contributed $7,600 out of pocket!

Sigh. And there I am with my big 780 bucks in expenses.

A couple of lessons I’m taking from all of this:

  • Fundraising is a big weakness for me. I have a hard time asking people for money. I’m just not comfortable with it. I had a hard time doing it when I ran in 1993 and always when I volunteered to for one campaign or another.  Again, if I do run again, find someone who can help me with this.
  • Union endorsements = donations.  A quick perusal of the candidates who were endorsed by organized labour reveals that they all received some level of financial support from one of the teacher’s unions. I don’t have an issue with this, but next time, don’t expect me to fill out your long questionnaires if you have already decided on who to endorse beforehand! All I ask is for a level playing field. I don’t know what I did to offend organized labour in this town, but I suspect it may have something to do with a certain failed candidate who tried talking me out of running at the outset of the campaign… Hmmmm….

All in all, I’m glad that these have been made public. The amount of money spent by School Board candidates to win a job that pays a pittance shows a level of commitment to public service that other candidates at other levels of government should regard with envy – and aspire to!

OCDSB Zone 6

Total %
Number of Polls/Nombre de bureaux de scrutin 76
Polls Reporting/Bureaux de scrutin rapportés 76 100.0%
Total Votes/Total des votes 13127
Mohamoud Abdulle 1311 9.99%
Bronwyn Funiciello 7354 56.02%
John Marshall 4462 33.99%


ATTENTION! Federal party leaders!!! Yes! You!!!

Are any of you going to address the dire needs of Canada’s cities?

Once again, the mainstream media is correctly pointing out that Canada needs to address its urban infrastructure deficit – and it needs to happen NOW!

Main point of the article:

A national urban strategy must recognize the predominant role cities play in our economic growth. Rather than provide all municipalities with equal per capita shares, this long-term plan needs to have a greater strategic focus on Canada’s urban centres – the places that will provide the biggest boost to our economic growth. The priorities may differ across the country – from transportation infrastructure in Toronto to housing in Calgary – but the need for federal support extends from coast to coast.

I know that, the majority of the time, whenever someone to the right on the political spectrum hears the word national strategy”, they start running around in circles and flapping the arms while screaming “SOCIALISM”!!!” But this is different – and even the Harperites sort of recognised this in last week’s ill-fated budget where they announced intentions to make the gas tax contribution toward infrastructure permanent, while also pledging to help develop a new long-term infrastructure plan (what ever that means).

It remains to be seen if this will hold if the Harperites come back as a majority government… the über-right elements in the party will need placation… but it was a good intention, I suppose.

But as Calgary’s forward-thinking Mayor Nenshi has said in reference to the one liner in the Budget :

“It is sort of a weird thing to put into a budget -‘We’ll plan to make a plan,’ ” he said.

“It’s better than having no plan, but like I say: I would have liked to see some elements of what that plan might look like, even today.”

Flesh it out, Harper, Iggy and Jack. Tell us what such a strategy would look like!


Blog of the week – XUP

Although XUP herself has been on a self-imposed exile for the past several months (on an island called l’Île de la formation linguistique), this has been and continues to be one of my all time fave sites.

From the quirky to the outrageous to the heartfelt, her posts are always certain to evoke an emotion in the reader. Great authors can do this seemingly at will. Good authors can do this too – but with considerably more effort (I humbly consider myself as part of the latter category – but it can be hit or miss sometimes).

You know what a blog is? A blog is really just a collection of connected or not-so connected short stories. And like any good piece of writing, a well-assembled and displayed blog is technically well written, interesting to a wide audience, and, as noted above, infused with emotion engaging prose.

And this is XUP to a tee.

From this post extolling the glories of bacon (XUP is a vegetarian) to this – which is one of my faves since we both have daughters who are about the same age. She talks about her baby girl going on her “real first date”.  Here’s a taste:

And so began a (so far) 10-day battle over why I’m insisting on meeting this shy, handsome teenager who intends to drive my daughter off into the night in his own car versus why I’m always trying to ruin her life to make sure she’s miserable, alone and unhappy until the day she dies.

Why do I have to meet him?

  • Because I want to make sure he’s not a total and complete idiot and if he is, yes, I will call the whole date off. (OH MY GOD MOTHER!!!)
  • Because I want to quiz him on his driving qualifications.
  • Because I want him to know there is someone attached to this girl he’s taking out who will feed him his own testicles if he harms one hair on her head and/or doesn’t drive like he’s taking his brittle-boned great-grandmother on her first ever outing in an automobile.

Is this totally unreasonable of me? Isn’t this what parents do who don’t want to spend the entire evening of the date peering out the window with their finger on the 911 speed-dial button?

Or this short post entitled

Ottawa: The City That Fun Forgot

where she goes on about how awesomely nanny-ish we in National Capital Commission can be:

To ensure even less winter fun the National Capital Commission has also decided not to have the outdoor concert series during Winterlude this year because heating the stage will “cause damage to the environment”. They’re aiming for a carbon-neutral/fun-neutral Winterlude this year.

Isn’t that awesomely responsible of them?

Whatever XUP tackles, it is always with panache and more than a bit of an edge. I hope that, after her language training is complete, she returns to blogging. We miss her!

Check out her site – you’ll thank me for it!


Report cards for OCDSB schools – use with caution…

Here is how the OCDSB schools ranked according to the Fraser Institute school “report card” that was released on Friday.

As a statistician, I do have some serious issues with rankings like these – much like the EQAO testing process itself – there is no context presented in order to interpret these numbers fully. Unknown are factors that can greatly influence a schools performance, like:

  • the percentage of students in ESL programs
  • proportion of special needs students
  • family income and household education
  • and others…

The Fraser Institute says the following on their website:

By combining a variety of relevant, objective indicators of school performance into one easily accessible public web site, the school report cards allow teachers, parents, school administrators, students, and taxpayers to analyze and compare the academic performance of individual schools in an attempt to answer the question, “How are our schools doing?”.

Fine. Take this at face value, but the danger is that some parents will use tools like these as their ONLY basis of judgement about a particlar school. THAT is where I have a problem. Still, this is a tool that might be combined with others to help make decisions about the relative merits of one school over another. In that case, rankings like these can have some limited value.

Anyhow, here is the list. It would be interesting if someone organized these according to zone…

2009-10 Rank
Rank in the most recent five years School Name City 2009-10 Rating Rating in the most recent five years
1 44/2733 25/2327 Katimavik Elementary School Kanata 9.4 9.4
2 70/2733 107/2327 Knoxdale Public School Nepean 9.1 8.4
3 82/2733 514/2327
Hopewell Avenue Public School
Ottawa 9 7.2
4 99/2733 107/2327 Devonshire Community Public School Ottawa 8.9 8.4
5 122/2733 48/2327 Woodroffe Avenue Public School Ottawa 8.8 8.8
6 139/2733 171/2327 Briargreen Public School Nepean 8.7 8.1
7 229/2733 n/a Hilson Avenue Public School Ottawa 8.3 n/a
8 262/2733 n/a Osgoode Public School Osgoode 8.2 n/a
9 288/2733 292/2327 Elmdale Public School Ottawa 8.1 7.7
10 316/2733 142/2327 Stephen Leacock Public School Kanata 8 8.2
11 355/2733 n/a Steve MacLean Public School Gloucester 7.9 n/a
12 396/2733 259/2327 W.O. Mitchell Elementary School Kanata 7.8 7.8
13 423/2733 331/2327 Broadview Public School Ottawa 7.7 7.6
14 423/2733 411/2327 Adrienne Clarkson Elementary School Ottawa 7.7 7.4
15 423/2733 n/a Roch Carrier ES Kanata 7.7 n/a
16 459/2733 221/2327 Rockcliffe Park Public School Ottawa 7.6 7.9
17 459/2733 812/2327 Blossom Park Public School Gloucester 7.6 6.7
18 508/2733 1076/2327
Lady Evelyn Alternative School
Ottawa 7.5 6.3
19 552/2733 331/2327 Mutchmor Public School Ottawa 7.4 7.6
20 552/2733 331/2327 W. Erskine Johnston Public School Kanata 7.4 7.6
21 601/2733 142/2327
First Avenue Public School
Ottawa 7.3 8.2
22 601/2733 292/2327 Jack Donohue Public School Kanata 7.3 7.7
23 601/2733 567/2327 Castor Valley Elementary School Greely 7.3 7.1
24 601/2733 1137/2327 D. Roy Kennedy Public School Ottawa 7.3 6.2
25 601/2733 1208/2327
Terry Fox Elementary School
Orléans 7.3 6.1
26 767/2733 936/2327 Berrigan Elementary School Nepean 7 6.5
27 767/2733 1262/2327 Huntley Centennial Public School Carpion 7 6
28 767/2733 n/a Farley Mowat Public School Ottawa 7 n/a
29 828/2733 936/2327 John Young Elementary School Kanata 6.9 6.5
30 964/2733 567/2327 Fallingbrook Community Elementary School Ottawa 6.7 7.1
31 964/2733 1137/2327 Churchill Alternative School Ottawa 6.7 6.2
32 964/2733 1498/2327 Meadowlands Public School Nepean 6.7 5.6
33 1025/2733 873/2327 Castlefrank Elementary School Kanata 6.6 6.6
34 1025/2733 936/2327 Henry Larsen Elementary School Gloucester 6.6 6.5
35 1025/2733 936/2327 Roland Michener Public School Kanata 6.6 6.5
36 1025/2733 1324/2327 Vincent Massey Public School Ottawa 6.6 5.9
37 1114/2733 465/2327 Parkwood Hills Public School Nepean 6.5 7.3
38 1114/2733 1137/2327 Trillium Elementary School Orléans 6.5 6.2
39 1114/2733 1208/2327 Pleasant Park Public School Ottawa 6.5 6.1
40 1185/2733 1208/2327 A. Lorne Cassidy Elementary School Stittsville 6.4 6.1
41 1185/2733 2009/2327
Severn Avenue Public School
Ottawa 6.4 4.3
42 1244/2733 1983/2327
Manor Park Public School
Ottawa 6.3 4.4
43 1244/2733 n/a South March Public School Kanata 6.3 n/a
44 1358/2733 873/2327 Stonecrest Elementary School Woodlawn 6.1 6.6
45 1358/2733 1208/2327 Maple Ridge Elementary School Orléans 6.1 6.1
46 1476/2733 1262/2327 Leslie Park Public School Nepean 5.9 6
47 1476/2733 1498/2327 Bridlewood Community Elementary School Kanata 5.9 5.6
48 1601/2733 567/2327 Orleans Wood Elementary School Gloucester 5.7 7.1
49 1601/2733 1389/2327 Sawmill Creek Elementary School Gloucester 5.7 5.8
50 1601/2733 1607/2327 Alta Vista Public School Ottawa 5.7 5.4
51 1674/2733 1549/2327 Elgin Street Public School Ottawa 5.6 5.5
52 1674/2733 n/a Avalon Public School Orléans 5.6 n/a
53 1794/2733 936/2327 Century Public School Nepean 5.4 6.5
54 1846/2733 1549/2327 Greely Elementary School Greely 5.3 5.5
55 1889/2733 1652/2327 Robert Bateman Public School Ottawa 5.2 5.3
56 1889/2733 n/a Centennial Public School Ottawa 5.2 n/a
57 1944/2733 1778/2327 Roberta Bondar Public School Ottawa 5.1 5
58 1944/2733 n/a Dunning-Foubert Elementary School Orléans 5.1 n/a
59 1987/2733 567/2327 Dunlop Public School Ottawa 5 7.1
60 1987/2733 n/a York Street Public School Ottawa 5 n/a
61 2098/2733 1778/2327 Riverview Alternative School Ottawa 4.7 5
62 2098/2733 n/a Cambridge Street Community Public School Ottawa 4.7 n/a
63 2316/2733 1607/2327
Manordale Public School
Nepean 4.1 5.4
64 2356/2733 2009/2327 Hawthorne Public School Ottawa 4 4.3
65 2414/2733 2113/2327 Charles H. Hulse Public School Ottawa 3.8 3.9
66 2434/2733 1954/2327 Elizabeth Park Public School Gloucester 3.7 4.5
67 2477/2733 1778/2327 Heritage Public School Navan 3.5 5
68 2492/2733 2191/2327 W.E. Gowling Public School Ottawa 3.4 3.5
69 2509/2733 n/a Queen Elizabeth Public School Ottawa 3.3 n/a
70 2618/2733 2223/2327 Connaught Public School Ottawa 2.5 3.2
71 2618/2733 2305/2327
Robert E. Wilson Public School
Vanier 2.5 2.1
72 2633/2733 2147/2327 Arch Street Public School Ottawa 2.4 3.8
73 2639/2733 2320/2327 Queen Mary Street Public School Ottawa 2.3 1.4
74 2720/2733 2307/2327 Pinecrest Public School Ottawa 0.4 2


Update – Ottawa Twitter riding hashtags for #elxn41


There is another movement out there to have the 2011 election hashtags in a more intuitive format than basing them on the standard Elections Canada descriptors. Here are those for the Ottawa area ridings.

  • Ottawa Centre -#ottc
  • Ottawa—Orléans – #otto
  • Ottawa South – #otts
  • Ottawa—Vanier – #ottv
  • Ottawa West—Nepean – #ottwn
  • Nepean—Carleton -#nepcar
  • Carleton—Mississippi Mills – #cmm

I guess the choice over one or the other will become evident in the coming days.


If you are in Ottawa and follow politics on Twitter, you need to know which hashtags to follow. So in a fit of community service, I have compiled the following list.

If you do not live in the area or are not on Twitter, please ignore this post and go back to your regular business.


  • Ottawa South  #r35064
  • Ottawa Centre #r35062
  • Ottawa—Vanier #r35065
  • Ottawa West—Nepean #r35066
  • Ottawa—Orléans #r35063
  • Nepean—Carleton #r35052
  • Carleton—Mississppi Mills #r35012

Thanks to for this!


What our politicians should aspire to…

and many achieve – even though their efforts are noticed by but a few…

But some do, nonetheless.

I go back and forth on Facebook with an old buddy of mine from undergrad. I’m a progressive centrist and he is a dyed-in-wool C and c conservative. We most enjoy the parry and thrust of our debates and always part amiably.

And once in a while one of us – or some other voice that enters into the discussion – makes a point that resonates with all, no matter what the political stripe.

Our 308 Members of Parliament work hard for each and every one of us. Love ’em or hate ’em. Red or blue or orange. East or west. Federalist or separatist. No matter. You can question the motives all you want but each of these men and women have given up any semblance of a normal life for public service as a vocation.

We, as Canadians, hear about only a very small proportion of these men and women. These are the party leaders and their main lieutenants – the Cabinet Ministers and shadow Cabinets and spokespersons, etc. How many do these number? Maybe a dozen, at best? But we judge all of the rest by the actions of these few.

And I am guilty as anyone else. I judge the entire Conservative party by the actions of Harper, Baird, Polievre, Toews and the rest whose style and philosophies I despise. Others judge all of the Grits by what Ignatieff and Rae say. All of the NDP is associated with (and I hate this tag) “Taliban” Jack. All Bloq members are assumed to be just as single minded about splitting up Canada as is their leader.

But we are wrong. There is much more substance to the other MPs. We just never hear about them because they are intentionally silenced or are overwhelmed by the largeness of the personalities that do have the public spotlight shone upon them.

These other 290 or so MPs do matter – most of all to the constituencies they serve.

How many of you have heard of the nameless backbencher who, upon hearing of the plight of a family whose house had burned down, rushed to ensure that any tools at his or her disposal were immediately offered to succor the homeless family.

How about the Coast Guard worker who was seriously injured on the job but was having a helluva time getting approval for the purchase of a prosthetic limb. Newspaper picks it up. MP notices. Things happen.

I remember old Stan Darling who was the Tory MP in Parry Sound/Muskoka for about 585 years. He never went up the party ladder very far but the folks in the riding kept voting him back in because they could count on him to be there when they needed him.

And that is what most of the other 290 MPs are like – a whole bunch of Stan Darlings.

Why am I writing about this?

The old friend that I mentioned at the beginning posted this on his Facebook status yesterday. Where he lives and the stripe of his MP is not important here.

Over seven months ago our little Airforce Assoc. Wing put in for a Federal Grant for new furniture and washroom reno’s… The Fed’s came through; we’re getting our grant. This is one example of the good that government does; the good that MP’s and their staff do for “regular guys”… I just thought I’d throw that out among all the election poo poo….These men and women do a lot of good ya know.

Yeah. They do a lot of good. They all do. It’s nice to be reminded of that from time to time.

Con or Grit or Dipper or Bloq. From Bear Mountain B.C. to St. John’s NL – they believe in what they are doing and they try really, really hard. Even if we cannot stand the leaders and the main figures, maybe we should all show a little more respect to the working level folks. It wouldn’t hurt..


New Ottawa Convention Centre

I have been watching this go up over the past few years. My bus to and from work goes by it every day… pretty impressive.

And here is a sneak peek video…


Prisons, corporate tax cuts and aeroplanes – in a bar graph!

Hats off to Kris Stewart.

Agree with the slant or not, it is nice to see some creativity out there!