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Jean Cloutier – the only choice for Alta Vista

What is important to look for in a City Council candidate?

Full disclosure – I am clearly on the record in my support for my friend and the incumbent in Alta Vista, Jean Cloutier. Time and time again, he has proven himself to being a community advocate, an enabler and an effective voice at the Council table. He should serve another term. Full stop. We need a leader with experience to look after the interests of the ward in the coming years. There are some big files on the horizon such as the Federal Study Centre development, Elmvale Acres and the development beside the Canada Post lands on Industrial. To manage these files effectively, we need a steady hand at the helm and someone who knows the issues all across the Ward – not just a specific neighbourhood.

But let’s put that aside for a moment. I want to address what factors come into play when making your ballot box choice. For me, it all comes down to the involvement and leadership that the candidate has shown before an election. Have they led the local hockey association, a community association? Have they coached soccer teams or sat on the Board of a local charity? How about their school involvement? The local food bank? Have they volunteered extensively for a local fundraiser?

In short, for me, you need to have established local street cred. And I mean local.

I recall hearing the former Mayor of Mississauga, Hazel McCallion on the radio a few years back talking about the importance of local leadership and volunteerism. Someone running for the nomination to run for a federal seat in the 2015 election called her and asked for her endorsement. He explained that their political views aligned quite well and that he worked for such-and-such MPP at Queens Park, had a degree or two in something-or-other, etc.

Hazel interrupted him and asked “what did you say your name was again”?

He told her and she replied  something to the effect of: “Well, I`ve never heard of you. And if I haven’t heard of you then you haven’t done enough in your community to deserve the nomination. Now go out and volunteer. Get your name out there. Get active in your community! And come back and talk to me in 4 years.”


There are 6 candidates running in Ward 18 on October 22, including the incumbent. Three, including the incumbent, have been Community Association Presidents (one still retains that position, even though he is a candidate), and one has been a vocal advocate for the mobility-challenged community. They have all inserted themselves into our community in one way or another (I really don’t know much about the sixth candidate).

All but one. All but one of the candidates have engaged their community on the hyper-local level. The neighbourhood level. The level that is the most important to understand if one is to be an effective City Councillor. It is at the Community Association Board table, the hockey association executive meetings, at the Parent Council meetings – it is here where our communities “happen” and where community leaders cut their teeth.

Admittedly, and to their credit, this candidate has been a leader of an important national advocacy organisation and involved in a very important City-wide group. And they should be credited for that.

But locally? I can`t find a thing. And like Mayor Hazel, until this candidate announced that they would be seeking the Council seat in Alta Vista, I had never heard of this person. Not saying that I know everyone or in any way equate myself with Mayor Hazel (LOL!), but as an ex-Prez of a Community Association myself, as well as having been involved with quite a few other community groups, Boards, etc. over the years, I do have a fairly extensive network.

This post is not meant to disparage this candidate nor anyone else. Like I stated straight off the top, my unqualified support is with Jean. But I will say that when you are making your choice at the ballot box, consider to what extent each of the candidates have committed themselves to the local community. To me, this is a clear sign of their commitment to the Ward.

It might make your ballot box choice clearer.


Last day with the CCA

So after 8 years on the Board and 4 as President, today is my last day with the Canterbury Community Association.

It has been a good ride and I’ll look back at my time there with positive thoughts and smiles. Yes, as with any undertaking like this, there have been ups and downs, but in the end I firmly believe I have helped to guide the CCA toward positive outcomes.

Volunteer burden is lower because most of our registrations are on-line now and no need for long lineups and hundreds of volunteer hours.

We have a modern website that is easy for paid staff and volunteer Board members to modify and add things too. And it is well-visited.

We have a Canada Day celebration that I certainly hope will continue well into the future.

Thanks to the tireless efforts of our current VP, the CCA after school program has hosted Pink Shirt Day for the past several years – an important initiative to educate young people about the effects of bullying.

There’s a social media presence now. We have actively promoted our events and activities through Facebook and Twitter and it has grown our customer base.

There’s an electronic Newsletter!

The CCA has continued to be a leader with the other Alta Vista Community Associations. We have led electoral campaign debates, open houses on a school accommodation review, the opioid crisis, and community planning activities and groups such as the Alta Vista Planning Group. And I’m sure I’m forgetting things.

We have worked with the City on the new Jim Tubman SENS rink. It was a hit in the community last winter and will continue to be so for years to come.

Our finances are rock solid under the watch of our Treasurer and our Board.

I like to think that the CCA is a better place than when I first joined it about 8 years back.

Where the CCA goes from here is up to others to decide. I do hope that it continues to be a leader in our community and stays relevant, modern and responsive to the needs of the community that I do dearly love.

What about me? How am I going to fill my time? For one, I need a bit of a break. At least a month or two. And I’ve signed on as the Pee Wee convener at the Canterbury Hockey Association. I’m told I’ll be yelled at.

I’ll be ramping up the planning of the Pleasant Park PS 60th anniversary celebrations next year. And I’m sure I’ll find another Board or Committee to join.

Thanks to the Board members past and present. Some of you may not always have agreed with me, nor I with you, but I like to think we all worked for the betterment of the community.

Thanks to the paid staff. Top notch all the way.

Thanks to Councillor Cloutier and his staff – they’ve been a pleasure to work with and are a credit to Alta Vista.

Thanks to my fellow CA Presidents. It has been great collaborating with you.

And thanks to my family for putting up with my frequent absences.

Now, get ut there and volunteer for something! It’ll grow on you!


Gun violence in southeast Ottawa

There has been a disturbing trend toward increased gunplay in my part of town. These are almost exclusively gang-related incidents where dealers are taking potshots at other dealers if they see the competition infringing on their territory.

Gang-related or not, there needs to be a stronger response from all community leaders, not only the Ottawa Police. And this needs to happen quickly, before a stray bullet hurts or kills a bystander like this 15 year old in Vancouver.

It’s really only a matter of time.

But like I noted, what should happen in addition to a stronger police response (whatever that exactly looks like) is a full community response to the crisis; and yes, this is a crisis. By “full community”, I mean the OPS, the City of Ottawa, the area Community Associations and the School Boards. Four distinct bodies that need to work toward common ends that will stop this trend in its tracks.

And yes, I include the School Boards as one of these four entities.

Speaking about the number 4, Ottawa has four, count ’em four, Boards within its borders. Yes. Four.

But I’ll leave that for another time…

Anyway, all of these Boards, but primarily the largest of them – the OCDSB and the OCSB – have a stake in the mitigation of this emerging crisis. They too have a responsibility to work with the CAs, the police and the City representatives and elected officials.

So, let’s get moving on this! And yes, I’m looking at you too, OCDSB and OCSB, because while we have been hearing about useful sessions with the communities hosted by the OPS and City Councilors, there has been nary a peep from our local Trustees.

At least nothing I’ve been told about…







Keyboard warriors!

Maybe it’s because I am getting a bit older and my skin is thinning somewhat, but more and more, I am getting annoyed with these Keyboard Warriors© who like to furiously and constantly hammer out their frustrations with <insert topic here> and the incompetence of the . That is all well and good. We are free to tappy-tappy on our screens or keys to our hearts’ content when the universe is perceived to be askance.

And hey! Exercising this freedom is one way to hold politicos to account. No more can your local School Board Trustee, Councillor, MP, MPP, Prime Minister or Assistant Dog Catcher (if you’re in the States, cuz they elect EVERYONE down there!) hide in their leather appointed offices sipping their lattes and pretending not to hear the mobs at the door! No way, uh-uh! Those warriors will track you down and give you a good whippin’ on Twitter or on Facebook or Instagram, etc., etc. You will be humbled, humiliated and dragged through Swamps of Digital Slime!©

But for the sake of all we volunteers and activists everywhere: if you’re not happy about something, please do more than take pot-shots!

Keyboard Warrior© guys and gals are everywhere – quick to point out faults, deficiencies or inconveniences in their communities but slow to step up and get involved and do something to change the things that they finds so objectionable.

There are a couple of these Keyboard Warriors in my community and on my Twitter feed. Most of their venting is aimed at a couple of the local Councillors, but the Mayor himself is often the target. I mean, this one guy blames the local politics for EVERYTHING! Hydro trucks blocking bikes lanes, dirty road signs, faulty card readers at city parking spots, snow on the sidewalk… the list goes on ad nauseum. I’m not saying that local pols shouldn’t be informed if services levels are not up to snuff, but geez, do they HAVE to be berated for EVERYTHING?

And when they run out of tangible things to complain about, said targets are then told they are wasteful spending, ego-driven, budget-unconscious, deaf-to-the-community, anti-cyclist demagogues.

So fine – feel free to complain. But you know what? I never seen one of these Keyboard Warriors out in the community working to improve it in some way. I don’t see them volunteering at a school, their community association, their place of worship, their kid’s hockey team.. nada. I’m a pretty plugged in guy in my neck of the woods but have never seen one of these Keyboard Warriors© or have heard their name mentioned in a community involvement context.

So, Keyboard Warriors©? Go ahead and whine all you want. Because to me and lots like me, until you pick up that clipboard, run some soccer drills, volunteer at a community health centre or organise a potluck community dinner, I’m paying little attention.


Had a weird dream last night…

I haven’t posted for a while, but I had this weird dream last night that involved:

  • being attacked by a black bear and my gut was ripped open by it in a gravel pit
  • me killing the bear with my bare hands
  • both the bear and yours truly turning into zombies
  • but I was a good zombie and my wife stayed with me in this shelter until she bolted when the bad zombies started streaming in because she had promised to meet a friend for drinks
  • and the bear zombie defended me
  • but I was eaten anyways…

The was probably the weirdest thing I have experienced in a long time.

But then I saw the proposed changes to the Château Laurier, and my weird dream didn’t seem so “out there” anymore.



So I’m officially not running for anything…

… this time around.

I was, however, very tempted to run down to City Hall around noon to register as a school Board Trustee candidate in my zone; where there was no one contesting the lone candidate who filed his papers. But whammo! someone named Talis-Ilmars Brauns has filed and will provide some opposition to Mr. Ellis. Great to see!

Even though I am not running, I will live vicariously through and help out:

Jean Cloutier: who will be a fine representative for Alta Vista on Council. Jean and I have worked together at the Canterbury Community Association for about 4 years… top shelf fellow! Hard-working. And he knows our community inside and out.

Riley Brockington: who is a colleague and a former OCDSB Trustee who gave me lots of advice and motivation in 2010. He will serve well in River Ward.

Martin Canning: former Environmental Advisory Committee Chair. He is running a very enviro and community-focussed campaign in Somerset. He has a great team and he’s also a top shelf guy.

Plus, I wish my brother, Jim Marshall, all the best in his quest for a seat at the Council table in my old home town of Parry Sound. My bro is a man who exemplifies integrity and hard work. The folks in P Dot will be well-served.


Aaaannnnd… they’re off!

Municipal election season opened in Ontario today and there will certainly be some interesting races in O Dot.

Jeff Leiper will be a strong challenger to Katherine Hobbs in Kitchissippi Ward.  The Centretown CA prez says he’s challenging Diane Holmes.

No challengers for the Mayor’s seat yet and no one challenging Peter Hume in my Ward of Alta Vista.

Ah. For political junkies like me, there are the best of times…


As a resident of the NCR…

… these data seem reasonable.

There is most def a gap between the attitudes of anglos and francos on both sides of the river re: language and support for Canada.

I’m not a big fan of these types of surveys, but these results intuitively seem about right.