Ottawa Citizen questionnaire

Dear Craig,

Last things first: thank you for choosing to run for elected office! It’s folks like you that (who?) make democracy work.

And thank you for filling out this survey. This is an opportunity for our readers to find out more about the candidates running across Ottawa, and a chance for you to connect directly with some of the best-informed citizens in the city.

Here are some things you should know about the survey:

– We’re sending it to every candidate who has registered and who has posted a working e-mail address on the City of Ottawa’s elections website.
– It’s up to you to fill out the survey and get it back to us by the deadline. (Yes, there’s a deadline – we’re a news organization after all!)
– The deadline is Thursday, Sept. 25 at noon. If we do not have your survey by then, we will publish that answers to our questions were not returned by the deadline.
– The survey answers will be published online in their entirety, but your response about the most important issues in your ward may also be published in the newspaper edition of the Ottawa Citizen. However, answers will be edited for the print edition. Please keep your answers as succinct as possible.
– If you want your picture to run with your survey answers, please submit a head shot in a high-resolution J-peg.
– If you have any questions about any of this, please contact the Citizen’s city editor Keith Bonnell at kbonnell@ottawacitizen.com.

Thanks again for participating in the election and good luck!

ISSUES PAST

How did you vote, or how would you have voted, on the 2013 Transportation Master Plan that includes a $3-billion plan for the second phase of light rail?

I don’t like the $3-billion plan for the second phase, but it’s too late now to push the reset button on that mess. I’m more interested in discussing the NEXT PHASE and how we can mitigate the damage caused by so many years of poor decision-making by career politicians financed by the very corporations that do business with the city.

Was the outcome of the city’s casino deliberations generally positive or negative? Why?

Is there ANYONE who would describe the outcome as positive except for some rurals and special-interest groups? Even Jim Watson seemed embarrassed by that fiasco.

If Rick Chiarelli hadn’t missed the vote on the casino it would have failed. His lame excuse was that he was “stuck at the doctor’s office and then stuck in traffic” but he has a long history of playing both sides and ducking votes that seem politically risky.

How did you vote, or how would you have voted, on the move to biweekly garbage?

The angry demands for weekly garbage collection are drowning out discussion of more important issues.

Don’t get me wrong – I know what it’s like to recoil in horror when discovering a mass of wriggling maggots.

Maybe the current setup doesn’t make sense for the rurals, and no doubt the City is botching the garbage contracts like they botched Orgaworld and so many other files, but in College Ward it seems perfectly reasonable to me to have biweekly garbage.

I know that many voters want weekly garbage and that lots of consumers think that we don’t really need to pull up our socks environmentally (for example, by producing less garbage in the first place).

But I’m thinking it’s more like nostalgia for the good old days when Ottawa politicians didn’t seem so corrupt, when they focussed on the “basics,” like garbage collection and snow removal instead of “shovelling our money to tree-huggers, welfare bums and foreign workers,” as angry CFRA talk-show people are wont to say.

But I WOULDN’T necessarily vote NO on a move to weekly garbage if that’s what the residents of College Ward REALLY want. My opinion isn’t any more important than anyone else’s. But taxpayers have to realize that they’ll have to pay for this increased level of service. You can’t have it both ways.

How did you vote, or how would you have voted, on the $100-million plan to redevelop Arts Court?

I wouldn’t have voted for it until EVERYONE had been consulted. It’s one of my three Zero-Means-Zero-Means-Zero promises. ZERO personal power for me. Just call me the Preston Manning of College Ward.

I certainly believe in intensification and public/private partnerships if done honestly after meaningful consultation with the community.

For once I agree with an OMB decision – I’m glad the project got the green light. But that’s just my personal opinion. I’d want to do a lot more research and re-read key articles by professional Ottawa Citizen journalists before adopting a firm opinion. I’m not waffling. I’m being democratic.

$2.5M for the naming rights? I’d want to know more about that – how big will the sign be and will it feature golden arches?

What’s been the greatest success of the current council over the past four years?

It has done a magnificent job of bamboozling the taxpayer into thinking that all is well at City Hall when that is obviously NOT the case. This is because the best and brightest “boys in short pants” are recruited to work as taxpayer-funded assistants to career politicians, and the incumbents seem to have no shame about using them inappropriately to permanent-campaign.

What’s been its greatest failure?

The average resident of College Ward seems to be quite cynical about politicians because of the many poor decisions made at City Hall by Rick, Jim, Allan, Keith and the top “managers.” I often hear residents saying something like “those bums are all the same, they’re all corrupt, so there’s really no point in voting.” Rick has set such a poor example. No wonder so few people, especially young people, bother to vote.

Jim Watson had a chance to change all this when he was in was in charge of electoral reform for Bob Chiarelli, but he dropped the ball – the “integrity, transparency and accountability” reforms that he boasts of are not much more than smoke and mirrors.

Team Rick’s taxpayer/developer-funded electoral machine seemed poised to cakewalk to victory in College Ward in spite of all the corruption, deceit and waste – this will only increase voter cynicism.

YOUR WARD

What are the two most important issues in your ward (or the city, if you’re running for mayor)? Why?

Issue 1: The need for democratic reform – we’ll NEVER realize our potential as a city without fair elections, honest politicians and an end to corruption. Fair elections: 1) politicians should NOT be allowed to finance their campaigns with cash from corporations, unions and special interests 2) politicians should NOT campaign or reward their friends with taxpayer funds 3) a small simple change that would make Ottawa’s elections fair and friendly – Ranked Choice Voting (ottawa123.ca).

Issue 2: Many of the community associations in College Ward are little more than branch plants of the councillor’s office, with staff and handpicked supporters and ex-employees installed as the board of directors with Rick’s generous taxpayer-funded support. A $250K annual “office budget” buys him a lot of friends! Community associations are the bottom rung of the democratic ladder. Once they are transparent and accountable we will be in a better position to find positive solutions to College Ward’s many problems.

What specific measure will be your top priority if you’re elected?

Convincing my College Ward constituents and my colleagues on council that the 2018 City of Ottawa elections should feature a ranked-choice ballot. It’s a small, simple change that will make our elections fair and friendly. The provincial government has already said yes and many candidates for council (even incumbents!) have endorsed Ranked Choice Voting ottawa123.ca. Rick has said NO, judging that vote splitting and a dysfunctional first-past-the-post election best serves his narrow personal interests.

If you’re not the incumbent, say something nice about the incumbent.

I’ve already written at length on my blog bellscorners.wordpress.com about my complicated relationship with the incumbent. I used to be on his team before I resigned in disgust. In spite of his many character flaws and shocking behaviour, I admire his political smarts, his wicked self-deprecating sense of humour and, above all, his chutzpah!

Now say what you’d do differently, if elected.

I would try to restore trust in politicians by being an antipolitician with a Zero-Means-Zero-Means-Zero platform. There are a LOT of smart, community-minded citizens who are willing to work for free to make Ottawa a kinder, gentler, greener city.

We need MORE people like that and FEWER developer-funded professional politicians and overpaid bureaucrats at City Hall.

CITY ISSUES

Taxes. Are they too high? Just about as high as they should be? Not high enough for the city we wish we had?

I think Jim’s 2% goal is a reasonable target IF we can cut back on waste at City Hall. A cut to the $250K annual “office budget” slush fund each of the 23 councillors control would be a good symbolic start to a campaign to eliminate corruption and smugness.

But 2% as a hard cap? NO. Some services are too important to cut. If the sole-sourced Landsdowne Park boondoggle and cost overruns on poorly-planned vanity projects like Larry’s tunnel empty the coffers we should make the most vulnerable suffer through service cuts? No way!

Please list some city services you consider “core” and any you consider “frills” that could be cut back.

Transit, smart infrastructure investments, green initiatives, help for the most vulnerable, stuff like that = CORE. Paying for self-serving career politicians who don’t even read the bloated contracts and unaccountable senior staff who should hang their heads in shame = FRILL.

Development issues continue to be controversial. What would make the planning process smoother?

REAL consultations with the community instead of PSEUDO consultations would be a good first step. We need fresh faces on council, but we also need to weed out some of the compromised City Hall bureaucrats, starting at the top.

The city is now constructing the first phase of LRT, the Lansdowne Park redevelopment is all but complete, and council just approved the Arts Court and Ottawa Art Gallery expansion. What other “city building” projects do you think council should consider in the next term?

We should focus on basic needs and cleaning up corruption before embarking on grandiose expensive top-down “city-building” initiatives.

GOVERNANCE

Roughly how many council meetings have you attended in the past year?

Too many. It’s painful to watch democracy being downtrodden.

Should the transit commission include “citizen” commissioners who are not elected officials? Why or why not?

It’s been tried and few would argue that it was a success. The idea of sharing power with “citizen” politicians has merit, but appointing a couple of lawyers as “citizen representatives” is not the way to do it.

What would make the goings-on at City Hall —whether at council or in the bureaucracy — more transparent?

Before important votes politicians should reveal the names of special interest groups that have donated to their campaign war chests if the generous donors stand to benefit financially from the council or committee decision.

Should councillors have term limits? If so, what should they be?

One term at most. Maybe two. If by some miracle I’m elected I’ll try to tough it out until 2018 but I PROMISE to end it there. Bob Monette recently made and broke a similar promise so take my words with a grain of salt.

There is a ward-boundary review coming up in the next term of council. Do you think we have too few, too many or just the right number of wards?

Keep the same number of wards but reduce the number of overpaid politicians. Volunteer community councils could easily take up the slack and produce much better results at a fraction of the cost.

Is your campaign willing to accept corporate and/or union contributions? Yes or no?

I’m not accepting or spending a penny on my campaign. I don’t think that you should be able to spend your way to power with dirty money. The irony is that incumbents already have such a HUGE advantage at election time that they don’t even NEED to take the brown envelopes, so it must be just greed or arrogance.

Some people think those sorts of contributions should be banned. What do you think?

It’s a no-brainer. When I hear the incumbents’ lame excuses for taking the cash I feel ill.

Some people are interested in the city moving a ranked-ballot system of voting. If the provincial government allows municipalities to adopt this system, would you be in favour of it?

Absolutely. Once people understand how simple it is and how much it would change things for the better they jump on the Ottawa123 bandwagon. It’s difficult for an incumbent to oppose Ranked Choice Voting without seeming self-interested. Jim was initially opposed but I think he’s almost ready to cave in to the pressure and reverse his position.

ABOUT YOU

What formal education, training or other credentials do you have?

I went to an elite private school in Toronto where I had to wear a tie, call the principal “headmaster” and submit to regular canings. After my first degree at the University of Toronto I went to teacher’s college and accepted my first job in Arnprior. The longest stretch in my 30-year career as an overpaid/overworked classroom teacher in the front lines of the war on ignorance was at Lakeview P.S. – fifteen years as a grade 5 immersion teacher.

For many years I ran arguably the BEST outdoor rinks in the city before I was deposed as president of the Lynwood Village Community Association.

I’ve put in many years as treasurer of Recyclore.org, a not-for-profit coop where volunteer mechanics repair and recycle old bicycles so that low-income and cheap people can have a safe comfortable ride.

I’m fully trained as a bike-taxi pilot registered with the Human Powered Vehicle Operators of Ottawa (HPVOoO).

I run Ottawa’s silliest but most popular blog, bellscorners.wordpress.com.

If the election were held tomorrow, which mayoral candidate would get your vote?

I’d have to hold my nose and vote Jim. For all his MANY faults, broken electoral promises and cynical politicking there (unfortunately) isn’t much choice.

In College Ward voters DO have a real choice. PLEASE, I beg of you, on Oct. 27 vote ABC – ANYBODY but Chiarelli.

Do you live in the ward in which you’re running? If not, what’s your interest in the area?

I’m a proud resident of Bell’s Corners, or, as I like to call it affectionately, Hell’s Corners. I feel sorry for anyone who has to live in other less desirable parts of the city. A few other neighbourhoods in College Ward are not TOO shabby (marginally better than living downtown or in Barrhaven), but when you take everything into account Bell’s Corners is hipper than Westboro and more affordable than the Glebe.

Did you grow up in Ottawa? If not, what brought you here?

I grew up in Toronto so I still have a soft spot for the Leafs. After spending 6 months backpacking through Africa and 9 months hoofing it through most of Latin America I took my first teaching job in the Ottawa Valley and I’ve been here ever since.

What’s the most significant position of responsibility you’ve ever held, either in work life or as a volunteer?

Working as a classroom teacher for thirty years and doing my best to raise two WONDERFUL daughters of whom I’ve very proud. Doing the outdoor rinks and managing the community building for the City was also a huge responsibility.

I could list many other volunteer projects that I’ve been involved with, but I think I’ve tooted my own horn enough, n’est-ce pas?

Are you married or in a long-term partnership? Kids? How old are you?

Yes to the first two questions. As for the third – I’m a bit older than Rick but I have twice the energy and three times the moral fibre.

Who’s the best municipal politician in Ottawa you know of? Why?

There are many local politicians whom I admire. But none of them are perfect, for with power comes temptation, which is why there must be transparency, accountability and, as much as possible, decision-making should be decentralized to the community level where EVERYONE gets a chance to provide REAL input, not just special interest groups looking to line their pockets.

When did you last take OC Transpo to work or to run an errand?

I have to confess that I rarely take OC Transpo, almost as infrequently as Rick. Service in Bells Corners is substandard, and I prefer to bike-taxi or walk to my destination. If I’m feeling lazy I just take my car.

How often to do you take transit?

Hmm, didn’t I just answer this question? Or maybe I’m just getting groggy from this demanding Ottawa Citizen questionnaire. The Ottawa Sun just gave me five short straight-to-the-point questions that I could answer with my eyes closed. The Ottawa Citizen questionnaire felt more like homework and I actually had to check some facts and do some thinking. Hope I get a passing grade. Vote ABC in College Ward. Or else.

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3 Responses to Ottawa Citizen questionnaire

  1. ason says:

    As for Landsdowne and calling it a boondoggle, it’s really not. We have to keep in mind this has gone on for 20 years now and if some got their way and we did nothing for another 20 years it would have cost $80 million just to keep it up or if the Glebe got their park that would have cost $1 billion.

  2. margaret says:

    just reading this .. you nearly got my vote !
    you can be so sensible some times 🙂

    – YOU would have MY vote if you ran for president of WECA next Thursday. I know you’re retired, bla-bla-bla but there’s really no work involved except for putting up with Rick (or maybe Guy if he secures some more funding from Mike Maguire, Tim Hudak and Lowell Green).

    Margaret, YOU could be the next Bill Quinn or Jean-Luc Cooke! It’s yours for the taking, so please go for it.

    Your honest, no-BS opinion please. Is it not time to clean house in Bells Corners? Time for some fresh, friendly, less-corrupt faces? Not necessarily MY withered visage, but surely we can do better than the same-old, same-old Team Rick/WECA/LVCA politicians? Time to give someone else a kick at the can.

  3. margaret says:

    LMAO … right !
    can’t even attend that night …
    so will miss you and Guy … hope Tristan is moderator

    I’m a worker and team member … not a leader
    I am vocal though and will give my piece of mind
    anyway you wouldn’t be able to vote for me at WECA !! so you’re safe to give me your vote

    the honesty stuff – no answer to that as I’m not directly involved in all that’s going on

    now openness and communication and consultation is another thing – I want that –
    everywhere not just locally

    and I would like to see the community buildings being used more often
    by the community – for the community (to paraphrase someone else’s famous quote)
    and without charge … unless it is a private function
    same with the sport fields/ice rinks
    why be charged for one and be paid for the other ?

    new faces – sure – but where are they ?
    they are out there somewhere – maybe hiding in that can waiting to be kicked! –
    hiding and hoping someone else will provide the events and do the work so their children can benefit from it … they always turn up for fun days and parties
    it’s the same people at the community level all the time because they want to keep their community going – and I have to applaud that …
    might not be the best, but they do what they can with what they are given

    I appreciate your vote of confidence ! – but have spread my time thin already so not getting involved right now with anything else in an official way …

    I’ve been there – done that
    I was drawn in even before I moved to westcliffe
    I became a street rep
    I became a board member
    I did all the activities for other peoples’ children
    I did the newsletters
    I wrote the history
    I did the first web page
    had two stints at all of that

    now I take a back seat – semi involved
    I don’t take out membership but
    I distribute a few newsletters,
    I help with the pancake breakfast … but that’s it.for now folks

    WECA and other communities need new and younger people to take over and do something for their community … question is again – where are they ?

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