A few days ago, I noted that Alta Vista candidate Perry Marleau apologized for his behaviour during the televised candidates debate. I also noted that he didn’t really need to apologize for his behaviour. He was feisty and passionate, but those aren’t bad qualities. His bigger (valid) regret may be the way he helped Jean Cloutier’s campaign.
Cloutier is an experienced community leader. He also has the blessing of outgoing councillor Peter Hume. These two facts make Cloutier a formidable challenger. Still, he’s not the incumbent. He’s just like the other challengers.
From the very start of the debate, Marleau challenged Cloutier on the record of council. This attack made Cloutier look like the established incumbent. Worse for Marleau (and the rest of the field), Cloutier came to the debate incredibly well-prepared with facts and data to both support his policy preferences and clearly explain many of the issues to the audience. Marleau, for all his good intentions, became Cloutier’s set-up man. Marleau would attack and Cloutier would respond in a reasonable and informed manner.
The two candidates dominated the debate, which is unfortunate for voters in Alta Vista. As the debate wore on, it became clear that there were only two viable candidates in the race, Cloutier and Clinton Cowan, but with Cloutier being the prime focus, we heard less from Cowan, and we saw very little direct engagement between the two.
Like Cloutier, Cowan came prepared. But he wasn’t all numbers and figures. Cowan is the idea man in this race. He clearly has a vision for the ward and the city, and he can explain his approach to municipal issues through homegrown observations and developments in other cities.
And here we have the true choice in front of Alta Vista residents. Jean Cloutier displays competence and a thorough comprehension of the workings of City Hall. Clinton Cowan offers voters a vision and an understanding of how Ottawa can move forward. Both candidates appear dedicated to the ward. Both have devoted their time and efforts to improving their communities. I imagine either one would make a solid addition to city council.