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.

Councillor Eli El-Chantiry Questions Prosecution of Cop Guilty of Discreditable Conduct

West Carleton-March Councillor Eli El-Chantiry has asked a really pertinent question, why would we bother to prosecute a police officer who assaulted a citizen?

“The taxpayer of the city is on the hook for approximately a million — so did the SIU have a case?” he asked Wednesday. “The question should be sent to them — are they dealing with those cases on the merits of the evidence or are they dealing with it based on public pressure, they read the paper and they see public outrage about something and they acted?”

This is in relation to the Steve Desjourdy case. In case you don’t remember, Desjourdy was in charge of the cell block when an Ottawa resident was arrested without cause, assaulted by cops (as she resisted the patently-illegal detainment) and was stripped. It was Desjourdy who stripped the woman, cutting off her shirt and bra. Keep in mind, this wasn’t a strip search, this was… well… apparently nothing more than punishment for this woman daring to resist her unlawful detainment.

In total, three officers were charged, but it is Desjourdy who has received most of the criticism.

The abuse handed down by police in the cell block scuttled one legal case, which triggered an investigation, led to a lawsuit (which the police settled) and resulted in Desjourdy being found guilty of discreditable conduct by a disciplinary committee.

The committee, it seemed, didn’t like the fact that Desjourdy decided to cut the clothes off a woman. (You see, in pretty much any scenario, if you strip a woman (or a man!)  against her will, it’s sexual assault. Luckily for Desjourdy, the courts looked the other way in this instance.)

So, here we have a man caught on tape committing a crime. A judge has already called out the offending behaviour. An internal review as well as a disciplinary hearing have determined that the behaviour was indefensible, and the city has already given up defending itself in a lawsuit.

And our fair councillor, chair of the police services board, wonders why we might pursue criminal charges.

Perhaps it’s time for a period of introspection for Mr. El-Chantiry.