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Ottawa Council

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…


Just a “minute” there, Ottawa City Hall!

Seriously, the Council voted for cutting out the minutes?


Why? To save a few bucks?

Instead, they will replace the text with an (unsearchable) audio system:

Adding the new audio records will cost the city about $17,000 a year, a sum one would have thought could be sucked up somewhere in its $2.3 billion operating budget. Instead, councillors decided to invoke the generally-wise principle of not adding a new cost without cutting something to pay for it. As it turns out, they can cut the proper records of public meetings and come out $25,000 ahead. Another good day’s work.

Democracy costs something and information is the lifeblood of democracy. This is not something you sacrifice to save a few dollars.

That is ridiculous!

Detailed minutes are a clear and transparent account of Council’s proceedings, who spoke for what, who spoke against it, etc. This is standard practice elsewhere.  It is important.

I also notice in Denley’s column that Council is reviewing the role of its volunteer advisory committees.

Maybe that is why I haven’t heard back about my applications…



2010 – the year that was…

It is time for my end of the year / beginning of the year summary post about the YEAR THAT WAS…

In January, I blabbed on a lot about Harper’s prorogation of Parliament. And yeah, yeah, yeah – it was perfectly legal… but so are coalition governments…

But the story that touched me the deepest – and still does – was the Haitian earthquake. And from the news reports coming out of this impoverished nation, things have not improved a great deal a year later. I don’t think that the big players on the world stage, as global citizens with global responsibilities, have stepped up to the plate as much as they should have .

Hopefully, 2011 will see some improvements.

February brought the Great Onion Ring versus Harper popularity contest! Had some fun with that! But it also brought the Olympics to Vancouver. And while Canada did well in terms of the number of medals won by our athletes, I still question the purpose of such an extravaganza in terms of how $3 billion could have been put to better use. The Squid Dude put it well when he said:

This is a back-of-the-napkin calculation, but I think that $3 billion would allow the government to replace every car and truck over the age of 5 or 7 years for every person who has one in Canada.  This would boost the auto industry, boost the economy, and clean up the air.  Every junker could be taken off the road.

And that was reason #7 of 13.

March, March, March… it’s usually a month where I’m in a funk from a mood point of view – and the 2010 edition was no different. I especially liked this post that I scribbled that wasn’t about much else aside from bitchin’ and complainin’.

The end of the month was all about my second visit to Beijing – and it looks as if I’ll be back there in April 2011.

April 2010 saw the great Icelandic volcano that halted trans-Atlantic and European air travel for weeks. It was also the month when I chose to rant about my second fave rantable subject – WalMart. I like ranting on the Evil Empire – and it’s almost guaranteed that I’ll do it again in 2011.

Oh, and that oil rig went kablooey in the Gulf of Mexico… which segues into..

May was a time when we were hearing about the environmental catastrophe that was unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico. Negligence. Neglect. Lack of regulation. George W. Bush. All came together in a massive perfect storm to create the BP disaster.

June was the month of the Great Ottawa Earthquake! OK, it would have been barely a shudder for someone from California, but it caused quite a ruckus around these parts.

It was also the month where Canada saw the police-state-like actions at the Gee-Score Summit in Toronto. Forget about the fake lakes and the political posturing for a moment and think about these over the top heavy handed tactics that were used against what was largely a peaceful set of protests.

Besides, why do we need these expensive photo ops at all? Can’t the world leaders teleconference? Or hold the meetings on an island somewhere where security would be less of a concern? But nope – not gonna happen because they are indeed just photo ops.

June was also a time when I finally got completely disgusted by Don Cherry – and I thought that the limits to my disgust had been reached… until later in the year when he spoke at Rob Ford’s (again – welcome Toronto to Ottawa of 2006!) induction as the mayor of Hogtown. Please, PLEASE make 2011 the year that his tacky, bigoted white ass is shown the door!

Upon looking at my posts from July, I see that I was all over the map from a subject matter point of view… though a mid-summer anti-ReformCon trend was clearly there. Lot of ruckus in Canada about issues that would normally not be headline inducing, but rather more coma-inducing… big oopsies courtesy of the communication plebs at the PMO!

I did like this particular missive that I scribbled that month and still laugh a bit to myself upon a re-read.

The dog days of August kicked in with a number of posts focussig on some specific Harperites. Stockwell Day was the target of a couple of these.

You know, as much as I hate to say it, I hope bozos like Day, Polievre, Baird and Toews stick around for a while! Canadian bloggers would have much less to write about if they were ever defeated or abandoned politics!

The latter part of the month was the point where I went into full municipal governance mode… and have stayed on this track ever since.

To expand a bit – I take pleasure in writing about local politics and local issues – especially those that impact education in the City. The local levels of decision-making is what touches each of us the most in our day to day lives and we should pay close attention to who are the players managing this ship.

And I also enjoy learning more about the strengths and weaknesses in this province’s systems of education. Hey, I have three children – two of whom will be in the “system” for a long time to come… so why wouldn’t I take an interest?

September and October was all about the municipal elections and my run at a School Board seat. And while I don’t at all regret running and really learned a lot about our system of public education the campaign was quite tiring for me and my family.  However, I am well aware that if I were to run again – and be successful – that the job of the Trustee would be many, many more times taxing on the ol’ endurance thing than a simple campaign.

Trustees do much, are paid little and ask for ziltch in return. Even if you do not agree with them all of the time – please respect them.

November saw little activity on my blog except for my accounts of the second trip of the year to Beijing.

There was nothing remarkable about December. The WikiLeaks controversery carries on and more and more government are getting pissed at Julien Assnage. And no, I don’t think that the guy is some sort of über folk hero, but I do think that this has been a wake-up call for governments everywhere about the way that they manage and guard information.

It was also the month where the winners of the October municipal elections took their seats and were appointed to Committees. The OCDSB has taken a bit of a leftward veer and Ottawa City Council – with all of the new faces – is still in the honeymoon stage… but that may end soon if the ATU again starts to worry folks about job actions.

I haven’t covered everything in this post. Chilean miners. The World Cup (and those damned vuvuzelas!). Wacky weather in much of the world.

And I won’t even get started on the purchase of those fancy-schmancy fighter jets that the Harperites think we need in order to defend ourselves from the Commie threat… Nope. Won’t go there. My old buddy Mike would just get himself worked up again 🙂

But it was indeed a busy year! And one with lots of fodder for my keyboard.

Happy 2011 everyone! I hope to keep you entertained again over the next 12 months and wish all health, happiness and wisdom!


Here we go again…

So, how are you today, Trashy?

I am well, thank-you very much. Had a bit of a, um, stroke this morning when I ran across this short little missive about our famous transit union.

Seems as though the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 279 is still miffed at the shift scheduling arrangements and has poured cold water on the idea that negotiations on a new contract will begin any time soon. The contract is up in a little more than 3 months and the Union says that the last thing they want is a strike.

Sure. I seem to recall this same line of discussion from a couple years back.

And didn’t the union agree to arbitration? We all felt safe and sound. The 95’s and 86’s and 98’s felt just pretty damn cozy and hospitable and all?

Didn’t we?

Mike Aldrich, the acting president of the Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 279, told CBC News on Monday that unless the employer changes its bargaining team there won’t be any progress on a new contract.

“We have the same players negotiating the same proposals,” said Aldrich, referring to the 51-day strike in 2008-09 that shut down buses in the city.

“We know what happened last time. I’m not interested in going down that road.”

Hopefully this is just pre-negotiation posturing… but… it’s déjà vu all over again… I wonder how the new Mayor is going to handle this?

If there were another strike in this City, I wouldn’t want to be in his – or any of the Councillors’ – shoes. There will be some seriously pissed off folks in ol’ Bytown! As one of the commenters on the MotherCorp site put it:

City should lock them out in April after their contract is expired and we have nice weather.
Yup. Sounds good.

Oh, and on a brighter note… I HAD to post this link here… seems as though taxpayers in the Ottawa neighbourhood of Westboro will be paying higher taxes soon!

Westboro's new road salt supplier


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!


Dr. OC Transpo-Love. Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bus

As always, I say – well put XUP. Another great commentary on that little, twisted organization that we in Bytown like to call: OC Transpo.

And as I said in an earlier post,  this is one almost-former OC Transpo user who has had quite enough and has his name on a few waiting lists for a parking space close to where I work. After 12 years of faithful ridership, I am sick of it all.

One thing that XUP didn’t mention is the arrogant attitude that many (not all) drivers have toward students and anyone who isn’t white.

Students are regarded almost as a necessary evil and are often berated by the driver for holding their pass upside down or something. Last week, a driver called my daughter a “stupid idiot” for trying to use a transfer that was ONE minute past its time stamp! Gimme a break. And the bus was 10 minutes late!

And I’m not saying that all of the drivers are racists but I cannot count how many times I have seen a non-white person be denied entry to a bus for no apparent reason. Some blokes will stand outside the door, arms extended in a pleading fashion, and the driver just ignores him and drives away.

But if that person is a hot white chicky-poo… well, then there isn’t a problem.

Come aboard miss, glad to see you!

But – enough of all this negativity.  In the spirit of all things that we LOVE (I’m trying to be positive cuz I’m a positive kind guy, eh?) about OC Transpo, I humbly submit the following.

Things to love while on that packed aluminum coffin racing 100 km/h down the Transitway

  • I love the way that the drivers will almost intentionally jerk the bus ahead before the passengers have a chance to anchor themselves.  I especially love the way that seniors’ heads are smacked right into the upright posts – makes a cool “boing” sound.
  • I love the way that folks with strollers / wheelchairs or crutches are treated – like the dawgs they are. Shame on them for not being able-bodied. Shame!
  • I love how some buses just do not show up on Fridays… I’m just guessing that the driver has called in “sick” that day and the office  cannot be bothered to replace him. What’s the big deal? It’s not like the riders have anywhere important to go!
  • I love the way that stay behind the yellow line is unevenly interpreted. If the rider is a non-white male, behind the yellow line means a good 6 feet. If the rider is anyone else but a non-white male, they can crowd the front much as they want… especially if they are a hot and white chick wearing short shorts.
  • I love those buses that appear to have not been cleaned since Chretien was PM… though I suppose that is also a reflection of the general slobbishness of many riders… so,
  • I love the general slobbishness of many riders – it seems as though I have been mistaking the floor of the bus as a floor all of these years – while in reality it is the bus’s own little landfill. My bad.
  • I love interior climate control. It is for the driver’s comfort. Not the passenger’s. It is the operator’s union-given right to wear his or her shorts and ATU t-shirt and jack up the heat to “unbearable” in the middle of January if  they so wish! The riders should be thankful for the free sauna!
  • I love the Special Constables. Or are they the Gestapo – 2009 version? Hard to tell the difference. But you have to love all the cool stuff on their utility belts.
  • I love windows that do not stay closed.
  • I love windows that don’t open.
  • I love how the bus schedules are pretty much just a “guide”. Plus or minus 15 minutes is quite acceptable. What’s the hurry?
  • I love how the bus stops are plowed right when you need them in the morning… provided you start work sometime after 11 am.
  • I love those doors that close on you as you are exiting the bus. I really love that sense of panic when you realise the the bus will likely take off from the stop with you trapped half in and half out of the bus. Gives me a rush to think that I can be beheaded by a passing car.
  • And it would of course be my fault.
  • I love the operators who greet your sunny “good afternoon” with a grunt. Kinda like a “unghn”… hard to pronounce. But it’s attractive.
  • I love the operators who provide monosyllabic answers to sincere questions from a rider. As in “If I want to get to Elmvale, am I better to take the 86 or to take the 148 – or should I take the 112 from Billings?” Response: “unghn”. Clear enough to me! Why don’t you learn how to speak Canadian, eh?
  • I love how it seems that, when I’m in a hurry to get to work, 27 express buses in a row from the ‘burbs go by as I’m waiting downtown to transfer before one arrives that is going as far as Tunney’s Pasture. I really, really do love that!
  • And then I love how it’s completely packed.
  • With high school kids juiced up on Red Bull.
  • And my MP3 player is outta juice.
  • And the driver decided that it’s a good time for a layover.
  • I would really like to drop a very, very special note to the fine fellow who wouldn’t let the guy with the busted bike get on the 148 at Alta Vista a few weeks back. The front of the bus was completely empty and the guy – with a pass – said “please, just for a few blocks”… and all he got was a “get of my bus” response from the driver… OC Transpo operators do not believe in cutting anyone a break. Not that they deserve one anyhow.


The fact remains that many transit riders have no other option but to avail themselves of this crappy system. And that is truly sad. Maybe the folks of this fair borough will rise out of their red and white shackles and cry for good service, civil drivers and on-time buses!

But I doubt it.

Finally, if you have ever gleaned anything from my posts on this blogs, you will know that I’m a freakin’ LEFTY.  But even I am saying that maybe, just maybe, we should think about contracting this out to the private sector. If I ever run again for municipal office, that will be one of the planks in my platform. I swear!


mayorlarry acquitted

Of course he was found not guilty… was there ever any doubt?

I’m not a lawyer but it sure seemed to me that the prosecution had a weak case to begin with and did not do enough to compensate for it.

Guilty or not, did mayorlarry do it? Probably. But one thing is for sure, his chances of being re-elected in 2010 is likely next to nil.


Return of the buses

The phasing in – according to the Citizen:

No word on dates… but I’m guessing we’ll see the O-Train and the 80 & 90 series routes back as early as late next week. Here’s hopin’!

OC Transpo has a tentative plan for restoring transit service as quickly as possible, but a return to full service will take some time. Mechanics are working to bring all the buses back, but vehicles that haven’t had significant maintenance in more than 50 days can’t all be put on the roads immediately.

This is OC Transpo’s tentative plan for which routes will be back first.


Will operate during their regularly scheduled day, including rush hours:

• O-Train

• All school routes, numbered in the 600s

• Rapid transit routes 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 101, 102 and 106

• Major routes 2, 7, 12, 14, 85, 86 and 118

• Peak employment route 105

• Van route 123

• Early morning routes 824, 825, 830, 835, 837, and 873

Will operate evenings and mid-day only, outside of rush hours:

• Routes 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 16, 18, 87, 111, 112, 114, 115, 116 and 117

• Local black routes numbered 121 through 178

Will not operate immediately:

• Green express and rural express routes

• Red rush hour routes other than 102 and 105

Saturday & Sunday

All routes that normally run on weekends will operate at full service.


The strike is OVER

Both sides have agreed to binding arbitration with everything on the table!

This is GREAT news – however, I will blog a bit later about how pissed I am that it took this long!