West Carleton-March Discussion

I watched the West Carleton-March debate a while back. It was a clear example of an entrenched incumbent, Eli El-Chantiry, facing a number of flawed candidates.

Jonathan Mark has a history in broadcasting, and it showed. He was quite comfortable on camera and spoke well. Fittingly, he has made communication a central point in his campaign. Unfortunately, he didn’t offer much more in terms of substance.

James Parsons had the most amusing performance. His body language and facial expressions demonstrated his exasperation with politicians who, for some reason, didn’t agree with him. He also displayed a key flaw that so many candidates display. When the city moved to bi-weekly garbage pick-up (which Parsons opposes), we were promised that it would cost less than weekly garbage pick-up, but Parsons’ tax bill hasn’t gone down!

So here it is: you can’t use the level of taxation to determine if one specific service costs too much. Further, you can’t compare the cost of bi-weekly garbage pick-up against a previous year’s weekly pick-up. Costs are increasing; weekly garbage pick-up would have cost more this year than last. Going back to weekly garbage pick-up, if only for part of the year, would cost millions more.

I’m hopeful for Brendan Gorman, but he didn’t come off that well in the debate. His platform is fine, and he seems dedicated to the community. That doesn’t mean he’d be the best councillor, but it is a start.

Alexander Aronec is young, but demonstrates a knowledge of the issues and challenges facing City Hall that you might not expect from someone his age. He’s got some rough edges, and he still didn’t quite take command of the discussion, but he was quite promising.

El-Chantiry came off as the strongest candidate. As you would expect of the incumbent, he had the best grasp of the issues and provided details when others offered generalities. His debating style was strong. He never seemed brusque or defensive. He challenged his competitors, forcefully at times, getting off a few good zingers, but he was also gracious and polite.

If he didn’t have such a horrid perspective on police abuse and sexual assault, I’d suggest everyone vote for him. But he does, so he deserves the support of no one. This should be a deal-breaker for any voter who isn’t a sociopath.

It might be best for the ward to re-elect El-Chantiry, from a pragmatic perspective. He’d probably be the most productive, and serve the ward the best, even if Parsons’s Blustery Buffoon of the People schtick would provide a lot more enjoyment. So I imagine El-Chantiry will take it. Day-to-day competence will likely trump rape culture concerns for most voters. It is incredibly dispiriting.

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