Rideau-Vanier Endorsement

Oof. This race is a slog. I’m going to say it right up front: I’m not too enamoured with any of these candidates. Four years ago, Mathieu Fleury was an underwhelming incumbent. He was fine, but that was about it. He was challenged by two quality candidates, but held on. At times during his second term, he seemed like he was really turning into a solid civic leader. There were some questionable decisions, and his allegiance to the mayor got him badly, badly burned, but he seemed to be learning.

But, then there was Rideau Street, and all the surrounding issues. There’s still been no solution to the trucks downtown (FYI, the solution is banning them). Then there was the Salvation Army fiasco, and the question of what he knew and when (there have been a couple of instances in which Fleury has claimed ignorance over an issue, but was then proven to have had prior knowledge).

But, what are the options? I know basically nothing about Salar Changiz. Matt Lowe aped Donald Trump in the Rogers debate. Thierry Harris has been uninspiring–he seems focused explicitly on Vanier, and doesn’t offer a significantly better vision for the ward or the city.

Maybe Catherine Fortin LeFaivre will run again 2022.

So, yeah, what do we do with this?

Endorsement: Thierry Harris

This is really an anti-Mathieu Flery endorsement, to be clear, and I really went back-and-forth between choosing Fleury and choosing not-Fleury. Watching the Rogers debate, I’d say Fleury came out strongest, but not by much. His devotion to a truck tunnel downtown is folly, but not really a disqualifying position (especially no other candidate is willing to say what needs to happen–ban the trucks–they just bicker about bridges, or whatever).

So for me, this is close enough that I’m making this decision on one, singular issue: Safe Injection Sites.

Mathieu Fleury supports SIS, as does Thierry Harris. But when asked by CBC if they would support funding SIS if the province backed out, Fleury said, “no,” and Harris said, “yes”.

Fleury responded saying that, no, the city shouldn’t pay for it, because healthcare is a provincial issue. And, you know, he’s right. The province should be paying for this…but look at Queen’s Park. They’ve already halted SIS. Do you think we’re getting reasoned, compassionate government any time soon?

The guy dying from an overdose, the family burying their son, they don’t give a shit about jurisdiction.

People are dying and SIS saves lives. We know this. We’ve already seen it in this city. If the province isn’t willing to live up to their responsibility, then it’s up to us to step up and pay for SIS.

Anything less is just callous bean-counting.

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Knoxdale-Merivale Endorsement

This race has been pretty under-the-radar for me. I’ve checked out most of the candidates, but no one’s really grabbed me, and no one’s really forcing me to pay attention to them. I guess this kind of makes sense. Keith Egli, despite being Transportation Chair, is a pretty under-the-radar councillor. He really doesn’t speak too much, when he does it’s mostly benign and moderately sensible. The only real highlight I can think of about Egli is when he started schooling council on skateboarding lingo.

Endorsement: Keith Egli

I actually felt kind of bad for Egli during the Rogers debate. It was mostly an airing of grievances. A couple of candidates had a couple of okay ideas. One candidate was quite earnest, but that sincerity was matched only by his nerves (and he didn’t quite have a full grasp of the issues). One candidate was just there to interrupt and complain about stuff.

Most candidates made some sort of proposal to at least a couple of issues. They tended to contradict themselves a lot (Fewer taxes! More services!), and that complainer guy repeatedly interrupted and took nasty shots at Egli. Egli did well to hold things together and present a coherent defense of his record.

So Keith Egli will probably sail through, under-the-radar, serve a few more years, and retire in like 2034 or something, with most of us not even realizing he had been mayor for the final few terms of his public life.

Cumberland Endorsement

A couple of weeks back, I started watching the Cumberland Ward debate. I’m actually going to try to watch every debate this year, even for the races that seem like no contests. In this case, the incumbent Stephen Blais is facing off against an earnest university student and someone who didn’t show up for the debate.

I had to turn the debate off once they started talking about the Iraq War. Yes. Seriously. I’m still counting it towards my “Debates Watched” tally, though.

Endorsement: Weeping

Stephen Blais is going to win. For the second election in a row, he’ll have no formidable challenger. My understanding is that he’s generally responsive to on-the-ground ward issues. He makes some pretty bad decisions for the city, though, and occasionally the ward. He’s the transit chair, yet he doesn’t seem to like transit. Go figure.

So on October 22, grab a bottle, have a drink, and shed a few tears at the prospect of for more years of malevolent mediocrity (at best).

Orleans Ward Non-Debate

Mercifully, with 15 candidates and two non-candidates, Rogers TV isn’t doing a proper debate for Orleans. Each candidate is going to get three minutes to give a statement, and that’s it. In a way, it sucks, because you can’t really hear them highlight their differences or demonstrate how their views are superior to others. It kind of feels useless.

But in another way, it doesn’t suck because, fuck, a 17-person debate? No thanks. So I’ll just re-cap each one (in order).

Rick Bedard

He didn’t really say very much. He likes communication, Bob Monette and learning from our mistakes for LRT Phase 2. He’ll get his hands dirty and the children are our future. He wants some parks and he likes organized activities. He is all about minor sports and volunteering in minor sports and making sure ice is good for minor sports. He’ll be your voice. He’ll leave no one behind. He will absolutely smother you in platitudes and cliches.

Toby Bossert

He spent a lot of time at first going over his background and how he fell in love with Orleans. He wants better transit–fixing routes, creating better routes, more frequent buses. He also want St. Joseph Blvd repaved and re-surfaced (that’s a big deal). He wants to implement ideas from the BIA. He’s going to listen to residents and he’s going to use his customer service skills. Then an interesting promise: he’s going to learn french by the end of his first term; his skills aren’t very good right now. He also says that residents deserve service in both languages (this is all commendable, but I don’t know if he can give them what he says they deserve, and if he can’t, then he probably shouldn’t be running, right?).

Mireille Brownhill

She begins by going over her background, and the skills it gives her for city council (communication, collaboration). Mentioning making Orleans sustainable and livable is a nice start. She moves on to some of the issues she likes: safe streets, St. Joseph rejuvenation, parks and stuff…and then safety, transit efficiency and waste management. She speaks of a cohesive and holistic vision for the city–CDPs, affordable transit and some other good stuff…

…but she spoke of “responsible development” around LRT stations, development that fits with the area. I’m not exactly sure what she means. LRT needs density. It needs lots of people. Is this code for scaling down transit-oriented development?

I’d been intrigued by her candidacy. Her statement was fine…but that “responsible development” part…I just…

Guy Desroches

He’s serving on the advisory accessibility committee (I may have flubbed the exact title). Accessibility is definitely an issue he’s passionate about, and this is a good perspective to have on council. He talks up his business experience, bilingualism and knowledge of how city council works. He closes out his statement with his background and re-inforcing his status as the candidate with experience at City Hall.

It was a fine statement, but it didn’t say a whole lot. I’d keep him in the race, but this didn’t make him standout.

Dina Epale

Epale speaks of his bilingualism and his commitment to the community. Interestingly, he starts talking up his experience working with all three levels of government, including working as part of a delegation with the mayor to speak with provincial governments.

Okay, I don’t know what he’s actually interested in doing (he likes LRT, but didn’t expand), so he may have the background, but I have no idea if he has the vision or ideas for city councillor.

Doug Feltmate

He’s not running anymore, so I’m going to skip him…there a 17 candidates, ok!?

Jarrod Goldsmith

Oh the hat. Nice hat. Goldsmith has more energy and animation than anyone, so far. He starts with an actual statement before actually introducing himself, I like that. He’s a musician and anthropologist. He has no experience with government, so he’s going to be learning everyday, taking notes and holding city staff accountable.

“This is not a retirement hobby for me. This is a full-time career.”

Is that a jab at some of the older candidates? (Also, I’m not sure declaring himself a career politician is exactly what he meant.)

He likes the arts and culture in his community. He wants people to treat their passion as a viable career. Okay…we’ll have to get a “how” though.

He likes LRT, and seems to want to re-balance transit modes away from total car dominance. He wants to re-juvenate St. Joe’s, and then there’s crime, he doesn’t like it. Also he wants more collaboration between local communities.

Ooh, a tagline: “So go for Goldsmith, because I’m going for you.” I actually kind of like this.

He may have no experience and be a complete neophyte, but I don’t hate him. He’s certainly stood out so far (though I don’t know that his schtick will play with a majority of voters…though, hey, it might only take 7% to win!

Miranda Gray

She does not have a schtick.

She loves Orleans. Everything about it. She likes the work Bob Monette did. She wants to keep bringing businesses and jobs to Orleans. She likes transit, but admits that it’ll take time for LRT to be complete…so she wants to focus on traffic mitigation.

(I’m not really sure what she means here–transit is the best means for traffic mitigation. Does she means more roads? Congestion pricing? Lower bus fares? Or is it more of a “we just have to do something” statement?)

She likes the parks and trees in her wards, and wants to maintain them. That’s cool. I like that.

All right, we’re getting into development. We need affordable housing around transit hubs, and we need to understand that LRT will change how development happens…but doesn’t have many details about that (other than affordable housing…which is big, granted).

Speaking about train transit, she says, “We’re lucky to be the first, but we won’t be the last community to get it…,” uh…what? Many communities are getting LRT before Orleans. Those other areas do count as communities, right?

She closes off talking about her work with the Federation for Citizens Associations, so hopefully she does have a decent handle on city issues.

Geoffrey Nicholas Griplas

He starts by rapping. Then stops. Come on, man.

He wants more diversity–he’s been a business man, he’s been homeless and a criminal. So, yeah, more diverse than most city councillors.

He was brainwashed to perform an act of terrorism. He’s come around, and he’s found his purpose: he makes people’s day.

Here’s what he’s about: senior care, landlord licensing, affordable housing, reefer madness. He’s “got a P-H-D in la dee da dee da”. Again, come on, man, the better line would be, “I’ve got a P-H-D in T-H-C.”

He gets into questions of accountability, transparency, smart development… he’s swinging back and forth between the outlandish and the serious.

Catherine Kitts

She loves Orleans and she was the editor of the Orleans Star newspaper. That’s not a bad background, especially in this crop, so far. She speaking about knowledge jobs in the east end and playing to the public servant crowd.

She wants smart development around LRT: sound barriers, pedestrian access and ensuring new and existing routes work in conjunction with LRT.

Then there’s neighbourhood watch, more snow removal, St. Joe’s, traffic calming and fixing up Petrie Island.

She closes out with an appeal for more women on city council (yes!) and more youth on city council (sure, I guess?).

All in all, not bad. (I was about to write, “fine”, but I’ve written that a few times, and she was a bit better than the other “fine”s.)

Shannon Kramer

She starts off with an appeal to walkability, playing up the benefits to property values. She wants to transform Orleans into a walkable ward. She wants to offer options, then quickly offer the caveat that she’s not trying to get rid of cars (she knows her audience), she just wants choice.

Moving on to LRT…she wants stations sealed off from the elements, heated and cooled. They need pedestrian and bike access, and safe drop-off areas. She points out that a lot of LRT stations are currently being built exposed to the weather. This is a very good point.

She wants more cops.

She has a two-part plan for affordable housing: (1) inclusionary zoning; (2) support development of income properties, allowing small rental apartments for more rentals and second incomes, and we’ll spread them out.

She wants diversity working at City Hall.

Yeah, pretty good. She’s quite young and she supports walkability, so I doubt she has a chance out there, but this was one of the more impressive presentations.

Matthew Luloff

He grew up in Orleans. He joined the armed forces and went to Afghanistan. Then he worked on the Hill, and now he wants to serve people in Orleans.

He’s a mental health advocate and an advocate for the arts. He has a three-part plan: (1) build community; (2) build the economy; and (3) build support for those who serve Canadians. (Yeah, I remember this from his website. It wasn’t well thought out, and it prioritized people working in the public sector over those working in the private sector…which is actually kind of a weird stance for a conservative.)

Community–infrastructure, widen the 174 and also improve LRT…god, yeah, this is why we don’t really need to listen to his ideas. They’re poorly thought-out and self-contradictory.

Economy–low taxes, even though we’re doing a ton of spending.

Support–lots of mental health service for first responders, soldiers and public servants. FUCK YOU, PRIVATE SECTOR WORKERS, SUFFER!

Look, I’d say this guy would be a disaster at City Hall, but that’s not quite right. His platform would be a disaster, but there’s little chance it would really get enacted. Still, don’t vote for him.

Qamar Massod

It’s the guy from Chopped! Seriously, how is this not part of his pitch?

He wants to amalgamate Hydro One and Hydro Ottawa.

Next, have a watchful eye on Phase 2 of LRT. We need sound barriers.

Zero increase in taxes! But we want to spend money! So we’ll have to cut down!

He supports MIFO

We’ve forgotten St. Joe’s, time to rejuvenate. And we’re going to look after roads, so we’re going to cut down on other things. We need carpooling on the 174, at least until LRT opens.

I mean, it could be worse, he could be Luloff, but, yeah, I’m not loving his vision.

Kevin Tetrault

He wants to expand post-secondary education in Orleans. He has a four-step plan. It’s not bad. Use it to build up Trim Road. Build up Petrie Island (I don’t really get how that works for education), next is cleaning up the river. The third pillar is St. Joe’s.

Wait, are his pillars actually about education? Maybe I misunderstood?

PIllar four, connect the various communities, including bike lanes, Petrie Island, connecting LRT.

You know, this is ok. Though he says it’s exciting, but he doesn’t actually sound excited. I’ll chalk that up to nerves.

(I went back to re-listen, he says that he wants to improve the economy and stuff, and he says he’ll do that by improving post-secondary education, and that’s do-able with a four-pillar plan…and I guess he sort of ties the first two pillars, maybe the other two, as well, to post-secondary education…but it’s a weird formulation to wedge it all under education.)

Don Yetman

Don! Yeah! I kind of love his odd, old-school website, so I want to hear what he has to say? (Also wondering if Jarrod Goldsmith was taking a jab at Don with the “retirement” comment.)

He’s a newfie! And, yes, he’s retired. He tells us this twice.

Okay, he’s a former business man, in logistics. He’s done a lot volunteering. He’s been in project management (or something) work. His background seems decent, I guess. A bit of a mix.

Platform includes: maintaining level of response to constituents that Monette had. He wants St. Joe’s more bike- and ped-friendly. We can do long-term and short-term stuff. Yeah! Don! Yeah!

Then it’s on to crime and LRT. He’s fine on these, but not particularity imaginary.

Finally, he wants better zoning plans that are better communicated.

That was pretty good. Not stellar, but decent.

That’s it

And with that, oof, we’re done.

Okay, so this was not the dynamic race you’d hope when there’s no incumbent. Of course, the necessary format didn’t really allow for people to really demonstrate the contrasts between them and their opponents. There is pretty much no way you could make an informed decision based on this debate, alone.

But who cares about informed decisions!? (Kidding, sort of…)

Judging just by this debate, here’s how I’d classify the candidates. There are probably three classifications I’d have for candidates who I’m not prepared to disqualify:

Inexperienced but Interesting

There are a number of younger (or seemingly younger…or younger acting?) candidates. They projected the most vibrancy and, actually, the most visionary-ness. (Look, it’s late; I’m making up words.) I don’t mean this to sound all cranky-old-man, and I don’t think I should, because though I’m acknowledging age/experience, I’m looking past it (sorta).

So this category includes (in no particular order): Catherine Kitts, Jarrod Goldsmith, Shannon Kramer and Kevin Tetrault. In this group, Goldsmith seems the most out of his depth..but, hey!, he admitted that, and that’s almost kinda a point in his favour.

Grounded, Thoughtful but…yeah…

These are probably the candidates I should be considering the frontrunners (for my endorsement; I don’t assume the voters will demonstrate similar preferences), but I just couldn’t get enthused about. Maybe it was the format or nerves or overthinking it, but they just weren’t on in the debate. I wasn’t really getting the ideas or even as much of the passion.

This category would be: Miranda GrayMireille BrownhillGuy Desroches (though I wouldn’t include him in the “lack of passion” description) and Dina Epale…and, honestly, I’m being generous throwing Epale in there (and if I were to be really generous, I’d include Rick Bedard and Toby Bossert).

Going into the non-debate, I had thought one of these candidates would have stood out for me as the best choice, but, really, none of them did. I might be choosing interesting over experience in this race.

Don! Yeah!

This category consists of: Don Yetman.

Seriously, check out his website. It’s fun. In some ways, he wasn’t as polished as the other “grown ups” (honestly, I’m using that term more to disparage the “grown ups” rather than the younger challengers), but he also seemed more interested, and he offered up more of a vision. I really think people should seriously consider him.

Sell! Sell! Sell!

Okay, we’ve talked about who’s in the running, now let’s talk about those who you shouldn’t–absolutely shouldn’t–consider voting for:

Matthew Luloff: His platform doesn’t make sense. It’s fiscally irresponsible, despite how he fancies himself. And I don’t like candidates that try to elevate some residents over others.

Qamar Masood: You’re Chopped! (Haha, get it? Okay, I might be a little punchy right now…I blame the endless list of candidates). Like Luloff, he doesn’t have a coherent platform. Unlike Luloff, it’s not totally wacky and insulting. Don’t vote for him…but definitely vote for him over Luloff.

Geoffrey Nicholas Griplas: I don’t really know his story, but it sure sounds like he’s been through a lot. I love redemption stories, and if he really can find meaning in making people happy, then that’s fantastic. I’m just not prepared to put him on council.

All right, so that’s it. I’m done here. At some point, I may review my earlier post about Orleans Ward and try to figure out an actual endorsement. We’ll see.s

Stittsville Endorsement

Out in the ‘Ville*, three-term councillor Shad Qadri is taking on prominent community person Glen Gower. Qadri has seemed like a weak councillor for a while, and there has definitely been some growing unrest in the ‘Ville for the past few years. The only thing that’s maybe surprising about this campaign is that there’s only one challenger. Usually, a vulnerable incumbent will have a host people vying to knock him off (see: Capital Ward).

I watched the Rogers debate a few weeks ago (and live-tweeted it). Gower was able to match Qadri’s knowledge of city council goings-on (which is unusual; incumbents have a massive advantage there), and certainly came off stronger.

Endorsement: Glen Gower

This really wasn’t difficult. The amount that Glen Gower has been able to do simply as a community volunteer–from traffic calming to heritage preservation to ward communications–is remarkable. This is a case where the challenger has practically acted like a councillor for the past few years.

His record in the community is impressive, but that’s not the only reason I’m endorsing him. He has a sound understanding–and a commendable vision–of what both the ‘Ville and the city needs. He’ll very much be a suburban representative, but he understands city life, and he gets how urbanism can integrate with suburbanism, making outer communities more sustainable and more livable, without trying to turn them into New Centretown.

Perhaps the most subtle commendation of Gower is the fact that no one else chose to run. It’s my understanding that there was a lot of grassroots supporters urging him to take this on. Perhaps it’s not a crowded field because people know Gower is their best chance at improving the ‘Ville.

The incumbent isn’t an innocent victim here. He hasn’t been a great councillor for the ‘Ville or the city. He hasn’t always been the best at communicating, and it’s hard to think of too many initiatives he’s really spear-headed. Worse, as the chair of the Board of Health, he pushed back hard against Overdose Prevention Ottawa, ignoring all the evidence that safe injection sites save lives and help people seek treatment. And to just add insult to every-friggin’-thing, this past week he decided to claim the role of overdose prevention champion. That was cynical as hell, and really, truly gross.

So after serving and leading this community for years, after working diligently to make the ‘Ville better, after so much volunteering, so much advocacy, so much community-mindedness, it’s time for residents to do the right thing, and make Glen Gower, officially, the councillor for Stittsville.

*Pretty sure no one calls it “the ‘Ville”, BUT THEY SHOULD.

River Ward Endorsement

You may recall that four years ago, I didn’t think the River Ward race had much to offer. With a popular incumbent deciding rather late not to seek re-election, it was a fairly crowded field and no one really stood out. (This time around, Orleans experienced a similar situation, have 15 true candidates and some of them are quite interesting.)

This year, first-term councillor Riley Brockington is seeking re-election (full disclosure: I know Riley personally, outside of politics, and knew him before he ran four years ago), and he’s being challenged by three people: Fabien Kalala Cimankinda, Kerri Keith and Hassib Reda.

This one is a bit tough for me. I didn’t know of any of the challengers before the race started, and so I’m going off what little I’ve gleaned from the web and their performance at the televised debate (unfortunately, Reda didn’t participate in the televised debate).

Endorsement: Fabien Kalala Cimankinda.

Cimankinda has an interesting backstory. Originally from the Congo, he moved to Ottawa (and River Ward) in 2005. A few years later, he went to Ottawa U, played football for the Gee-Gees and then played three years of pro ball in Belgium. In 2011, he was jailed in the Congo for his political activities. He’s since returned to Ottawa, and seems to be quite active in the community.

No doubt, his perspective–as an immigrant, as a young person, as a person of colour, as a person from a lower-income neighbourhood, as a goddamned political prisoner–would be quite a good addition to city council.

But, you know, that’s not even why I’m endorsing him. I was intrigued by his website and his social media presence, but I was thoroughly impressed by his performance at the Rogers debate. He knew what he was talking about. He has certain key issues (mainly, crime) that he was incredibly well-versed in. He was able to stand up to Brockington and challenge him, repeatedly. Very few challengers can really do that against an incumbent. And Riley’s not a dumb guy–he came prepared. Still, Cimankinda was impressive.

This is tough for me to write. I like Riley. He’s a nice guy, who generally wants to do right by the ward and the city. I know a number of his residents have been happy with his service. And, really, another four years of Brockington wouldn’t be the worst thing to happen to council.

But there have been issues: Mooney’s Bay, disparaging comments about Rideau Street, sometimes he hasn’t been fully up-to-speed on certain files that have come before council. He’s responsive as a councillor, but that’s just not enough.

Cimankinda appears to have the energy, the drive and inclination to be just as responsive. He certainly seems to be smart enough for the job. He’s done his research. He’s focused. It’s a bit of crap shoot to go with a less-experienced candidate, but both my head and my gut tell me he’s the choice.

I have this nagging thought that I’m only picking Cimankinda because he’s the challenger, the underdog. It’s appealing to play the contrarian, and if he wins, I can take some credit for being prescient (and if he loses, I can claim the moral high ground any time Brockington might make a bad decision).

But, no, that’s not it. Any contrarian appeal is tremendously outweighed by the risk of choosing the unknown.

It’s easier to go with choice you already know, but sometimes you just need to take that chance.

West Carleton-March Endorsement

So on Friday night, I decided to watch the West Carleton-March debate–isn’t that the sort of thing we all do on a Friday night? No? Damn.

Four years ago, I only watched 18 of the 23 debates (if I recall correctly), and I’m going to try to bat for the cycle this time, so even if I’m not super interested in the race, I’m going to try to watch the debate (I only made through about half of the Cumberland debate, that’ll be the exception). I figured West Carleton-March would be a pretty straightforward debate.

Hoo-boy was I wrong!

First, let’s cover this thing. Eli El-Chantiry is running for third? fourth? fifth? time. I really can’t remember, and I’m too lazy right now to look it up. He was first elected in 2003 or 2006, I’m pretty sure.

El-Chantiry chairs the Police Board, which is a pretty plum assignment. It can give you some good publicity (assuming you don’t get in some weird stand-off with the cops’ union leader), and sur ewill help if you’re in a ward that cares about policing.

Four years ago, he didn’t really have a strong challenger. There were three or four others running. Brendan Gorman was the most intriguing, but couldn’t really stand up to El-Chantiry. John Mark, a radio personality, was less than stellar, but in his own way. Somehow, he managed something like 35% of the vote compared to El-Chantiry’s 47% (again, if I recall correctly). That’s far better than I expected, and, hey, maybe that means El-Chantiry is vulnerable to a stronger challenger.

He’s got two challengers this year: Jim Parsons and Judi Varga-Toth.

Parsons ran four years ago, and though kind of amusing, isn’t much of a challenger.

Varga-Toth is much more impressive. I hadn’t gotten much from her website or Twitter presence, but she came to play at the debate. I didn’t do a write-up, but I did do an extensive live-tweeting.

So, yeah, the debate. Varga-Toth was strong. She challenged El-Chantiry. She was channelling the rural anger and discontent that I’m sure is out there. She wouldn’t back down and she wouldn’t let El-Chantiry off the hook.

Then it happened. It was subtle. But it was something.

If you’ve been following me on Twitter, you probably know what happened. El-Chantiry was speaking, Varga-Toth jumped in, and Eli put his hand on her forearm, clutching it to signal that it was time for to be quiet as he was about to speak.

He then went on to condescendingly explain that she had to listen to other people speak.

It was smarmy. It was gross. It was both sexist and the move of a besieged incumbent who was looking to run out the clock on the debate.

I didn’t snag the video, but thankfully another Twitter user, Susan King (@suki50), did:

It doesn’t really look like much, does it? But it’s enough. It’s inappropriate, and El-Chantiry should be chastised for this behaviour.

Anyway, back to things.

Endorsement: Judi Varga-Toth

No, not because El-Chantiry acted like a jackass, though that’d be a perfectly acceptable reason. Varga-Toth was incredibly impressive here. She had done her research. She spoke to what residents (she says) wanted. She highlighted problems in the ward that haven’t been addressed. She banged the table for better consultation, communication and representation. And she presented an idea of what representation for the ward should look like, and what it should do.

Now, I don’t totally agree with her. I think there was a lot of the typical rural complaints that lack merit (mixed in with some standard complaints that are well-merited). I think she falls into the trap of so many candidates, seeking to promise more than she could deliver…but still, what she was offering was better than what El-Chantiry was offering.

Oh, and if you just want to vote against El-Chantiry because of his behaviour, that’s cool. Go right ahead.

How many riders is LRT going to gain us? How many riders is it going to cost us?

You should never read the comments, but sometimes, you should read the Letters to the Editor. This one is courtesy of yesterday’s Ottawa Sun:

LOOKS LIKE LRT WON’T SAVE HER TIME

Re: Tunnel Vision: What happens when Ottawa’s LRT isn’t perfect? Sept. 10

Currently, my wife has a 30-minute commute. One bus. From her building to a block from our home. Perfect. She rides the bus daily.

When LRT comes in, her commute (according to OC Transpo) will involve not one, but TWO transfers. Given the extremely poor on-time record for OC Transpo, it can easily be figured to pretty much double her commute time.

She’s going to drive instead, which takes about 20 minutes on a bad day.

Like I keep saying, the “R” in LRT doesn’t stand for “rapid.”

TIM BAKOS

OTTAWA

There’s actually a few different things going on here (aside from the fact the “R” has always stood for “rail”, but, whatever). Quick thoughts:

  • LRT, and any changes we make to optimize transit service (not that that’s what we’re doing), may very well cost us some individual riders. Increasing total ridership might require some tradeoffs, and that could mean that a few people like Mr. Bakos’s wife will switch from transit to driving. It’s unfortunate, but it’s not necessarily tragic nor a sign of abject failure on the part of transit planners.
  • We’re going to have to live with more transfers, on the whole. Again, this can be unfortunate, but it’s not necessarily the wrong way to go. As long as your transferring to a bus or train that arrives frequently and dependably, for the most part, we’ll all get by. Hopefully, overall transit trip times will go down (or they’ll go up, because more people will be travelling from farther away). There are going to be winners and loser in this, though.
  • That said, going from good service and no transfers to two transfers seems really undesirable. That’s double the opportunities for delays and missed connections. There’s also a question of what the conditions of those transfer points are going to be. Outside? Cold? Wet? Windy? We don’t want to be making trips unnecessarily unpleasant.
  • My gosh, this woman is a transit hero. This is the exact kind of sentiment we want to have in the city. Busing takes half an hour. We don’t know how long a typical drive takes, but it’s less than 20 minutes…so maybe 15? That would mean her bus ride is twice as long as driving. It would mean she’s giving up an extra half hour a day–or two and a half hours a week (assuming a five-day work week)–just so that she can take transit. This is the exact kind of rider we want and need to have. I really can’t blame people choosing driving over busing if busing takes egregiously longer than driving.
  • We obviously can’t design transit service around this one rider, but, geez, transit “improvements” are driving away this person? That’s ominous.

There’s a lot to think about from this man’s letter. No, we can’t make decisions based on one second-hand anecdote, but the perspectives of riders, enthusiastic riders, should absolutely give us pause.

Apparently I got in a Twitter spat with Carol Anne Meehan?

A few months ago, that sentence would have sounded really weird (well, it still does). Meehan was a prominent media personality, popular and quite charming. I don’t think I’d ever had any interactions with her, and I wouldn’t have any reason to think I would.

Then today happened.

It all started on August 8. A friend posted a screenshot of Meehan’s website, and expressed skepticism about her position on active transportation:

Okay, fast forward five or six weeks, and Meehan responds:

So this response is many kinds of bad. It ignores the possibility of multi-modal commuting, it assumes that there are only two types of bicycling–commuting and recreational (maybe I just want to go to the store!)–and as my friend Alex pointed out, it’s an appeal to extremes, as if the only winter bike rides are 25 km long.

These are all valid critiques. I chose to go with the issue of the weather. Meehan didn’t like that:

I stand by my tweet (and another respondent was kind enough to respond with a graphic showing that many, many days in winter do not have -20 weather). Her initial reply to a tweet from last month was simplistic. It was an appeal to extremes. It was a bad response. It’s the type of response we generally see from people who are anti-bike and pro-driving.

And, yeah, I told her as much. Again, she didn’t seem to like that:

I mean, I wasn’t twisting her words. I was objecting to her reasoning and I explained exactly why…but, you know, Twitter can be overheated, conversations can get derailed by misunderstandings or inexact word choices, and I can understand how she might have thought I was saying something I wasn’t, so I decided to ratchet things down a notch. Maybe she wasn’t intending to parrot pro-driving trolls or throw around logical fallacies. Maybe she tweeted with less precision than was necessary for me to understand her point. Hey, I get that. It happens.

She didn’t respond. She didn’t tweet again for ten hours. She still hasn’t responded.

Now, I wasn’t the only one who responded to her initial tweet, but I am the only one to whom she responded. So that’s a bunch of tweets left unanswered.

I’m not saying Meehan owes me an answer, certainly not. She doesn’t owe anyone an answer (maybe the people of whom she’s asking for their vote). She didn’t owe Charles an answer after the initial tweet, and she can go about her Twitter life as she pleases. I’m not here to police her conduct or complain or whatever.

But I will give some advice to candidates, in general. You’re going to get scrutinized. If you dig up a month-old tweet from a resident and tweet out a response, people are going to notice, and people are going to reply. That’s part of being a public figure.

You don’t have to respond to everyone. Your initial tweet can be your statement on the subject. You don’t have to get into a debate, and you certainly shouldn’t get into something remotely resembling a flame war (unless you’re Jim Watson and it’s Alex Cullen, apparently).

But if you’re going to wade into a discussion about something stated on your website and claim to have a stance on an important issue, you should be prepared–when asked directly–to state what that stance is.

People don’t have to agree with you–not everyone will, that’s why we have politicians–and you don’t have to get into an endless back-and-forth.

But if you choose talk about everything except your stance on the issue, you’re going to look like your hiding something or that you have no stance.

And, Ms. Meehan, if you happen to read this (and I do not expect that you should), feel free to state what your position on bike infrastructure and winter maintenance is in the comments, or send them to me and I’ll post them, straight up, without editing or adding commentary.

Peter Hume going to bat for Jean Cloutier

Earlier this year, I thought Cloutier was definitely going to lose re-election. I still think he’s in trouble, but with at least three really strong challengers, there’s a chance he could slip through, with them splitting the opposing vote.

I don’t know if he’s particularly worried, but I was forwarded an email this afternoon from a reader (hi there!) from former Alta Vista councillor Peter Hume. It would seem Hume is throwing a fundraiser for Cloutier…and inviting a bunch of members of Ottawa’s developer community.

This would seem the exact sort of thing we wouldn’t want to see…especially from a councillor so unwilling to stand up to Timbercreek as they raze Heron Gate.

Here’s the email I received:

From: Peter Hume <redacted>

Date: September 19, 2018 at 10:26:15 AM EDT

To: <redacted>

Cc: Susan <redacted>

Subject: Campaign Fundraiser for Councillor Jean Cloutier

Hello Everyone,

Ted Phillips, Mike Casey and I have offered to host a campaign lunch for Councillor Cloutier. Would you kindly let me know if you can attend a lunch on September 26th at 12 noon? It will be held at Al’s Steakhouse on Elgin Street.

Personal cheques should be made out to “Elect Jean Cloutier”. If you cannot attend but would like to donate, please let me know and we can make other arrangements.

Thank you and look forward to seeing you there!

Regards,

Peter

(I would imagine he references Ted Phillips of Taggart Realty and Mike Casey of Arnon Property Management.)

I took out the email recipients for privacy sake, but it was cluttered with development and construction companies–Minto, Richcraft, Novatech, etc.

So, look, there’s nothing technically wrong with this, but, man, it really looks bad.

I’ve reached out to Peter Hume for comment.