Liberals and NDP score an “E” as best grade on Ontario Good Government Report Card

June 10, 2014 2:00 pm
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It might not come as a surprise that our political parties are failing a report card based on integrity and keeping promises. Recently, Democracy Watch, a non-profit, non-partisan organization, released its latest Report Card on Ontario Parties’ Democratic Good Government Platforms. The Liberal Party and the NDP scored the highest among the political parties ranked with an “E” grade (worse than a D and better than an F) and both the Green Party and the Progressive Conservative Party scored an “I” for “incomplete.”

What should not come as a surprise to politicians is that the parties that scored high grades on the Good Government Report Card tend to win elections. In 2011 the federal Green Party scored the highest grade ever on the report card: A “B-” and they went on to elect their first MP. Similarly in 2006, the federal Conservatives scored the best on the report card and they won the election.

Duff Conacher, Founding Director of Democracy Watch realizes though that the good government report card won’t be enough to make governments more accountable. Conacher recommends that voters exercise their legal right to decline their ballot (which is not the same as simply not voting), as well as getting behind the honesty-in-politics law, which would penalize election candidates who mislead the public.

This multi-prong attack to make government more accountable is what has led to Democracy Watch’s past victories. According to their website, they have “won more than 110 changes to federal and provincial good government and corporate responsibility laws, many of which are world leading.”

Despite good evidence that voters reward integrity, politicians still aren’t getting the message, according to Conacher who says: “No one should be surprised if voter turnout drops to a new record low of about 45% because voting for a candidate is like recommending someone for a job, and given the lack of promises to clean up politics, most voters won’t feel motivated to recommend that any party form the next Ontario government.”


Remembering Jim Coutts: Civility in Politic

May 28, 2014 12:10 pm

 By: Tom Axworthy (from his speech) on May 21, 2014  at the Jim Coutts Memorial Dinner at the University Club, Toronto, Ontario

Photo Credit:  V. Tony Hauser

“Jim Coutts had political opponents a plenty, but he never thought of them as enemies and he taught all of us that civility.” – Tom Axworthy

The joy of working in the Prime Minister’s office with Jim Coutts, Tom Axworthy and Keith Davey remains one of the greatest experiences of my life. Jim Coutts had many talents and interests and a celebration of these facets of his life will occur on June 4, 2014 at Massey College. Tonight, however, we are devoted to remembering only one part of his life, albeit a central one – what the Liberal Party meant to him, what did he mean to the Liberal Party, and what do both mean to us.

At their best, parties are essential instruments of self-government. At the moment of their birth in the 18th century, Edmund Burke wrote that “when bad men combine, the good must associate,” defining party as a body of citizens “united for promotion by their joint endeavours the national interest upon some particular principle in which they are all agreed.” Parties are the conveyor belts which educate, organize and convey the opinions of citizens to the organs of government. Cynics scoff at, and editorials scorn the institution of party but our democracy depends upon a minority calling – those small numbers of volunteers who make the system work.

Jim Coutts was one of those volunteers. He loved telling the story that at the age of 14, while riding his bike in Nanton, Alberta he saw a crowd gathered in the backyard of a neighbour listening to J. Harper Prowse, the leader of the Provincial Liberal Party. “Get off that bike and come on in Jimmy,” he was urged and a romance was born. Harper Prowse, now forgotten, but then a real force winning a third of the vote and becoming opposition leader to Ernest Manning, talked about the Liberal Party as a big tent open to all with a mission to work hard on behalf of the “little people.” Coutts was hooked and Jim being Jim within the year — at age 15, he became a local campaign manager.

Jim never forgot what attracted him to the party in the first place. All his life, he was an advocate of Big Tent diverse Liberalism, where Canadians from every walk of life could debate and decide. He was a delegate to the 1958 leadership contention (where he voted for Paul Martin Sr.) and to Walter Gordon’s 1961 Policy Rally, where Liberal delegates considered the results of the Kingston Conference and chose the priorities that would define the agenda of the Pearson government. Jim was schooled in the lessons of an era in which volunteers at the constituency level mattered. It was the Liberal Party that gave him the chance to employ his talents on the national stage: “Get off that bike Jimmy and come on in.” And for the rest of his life, Jim opened the doors of the Liberal Party to all who wished to enter.

He never forgot too that other marker in Harper Prowse’s speech – that it was the special vocation of the Liberal Party to work for the little guy. Jim Coutts was a progressive who saw the Pearson government as the high point in Liberal policy history and spent his subsequent career urging successive Liberal regimes to do more and aim higher. Trudging through the streets of Spadina in two elections was the most disappointing phase of his career. Yet I never saw him happier than when speaking to an audience in a Chinese restaurant in 1984, not far from here, lauding the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, extolling Monique Bégin’s Canada Health Act and praising the last Trudeau government for lifting seniors out of poverty through dramatic increases in the Guaranteed Income Supplement. Mr. Trudeau had, at last, met the Pearson challenge.

Jim’s redefinition of Burke’s description would be “a Big Tent party open to every talent and dedicated to the principle that there should be equal opportunity for all.” You can only begin to understand Jim’s devotion to the Liberal Party if you realize that at his core, he was a romantic

But a Big Tent party needs lots of rope and plenty of knots to keep it standing in the political headwinds. So a second talent of Jim’s was that he was a master tactician skilled in the art of compromise. He had ultimate objectives but he was patient in attaining them, building by inches if he could not achieve feet or yards, let alone miles. I never heard him speak much about his time at law school but he spoke often about his training as a management consultant and founding partner at Canada Consulting. To every problem, there was a potential solution. He was fearless in giving Mr. Trudeau bad news but he never did so without a plan on how to get our of the mess. Jim was that rare combination of optimistic and realist – optimistic that things could be improved, realistic in the effort required to get it done.

Finally, added to this mixture of romantic and realist was a third character trait – his love of life and his sense of fun. There was always a bit of an imp In Jim Coutts. I remember December 1979 after the defeat of the Clark government, for example, where Jim put on one of the greatest displays of political talent ever seen in Ottawa. Alan MacEachen was dispatched to urge the caucus and then a very reluctant National Executive to support Trudeau’s return. Keith Davey put the Campaign Committee in gear. Patrick Gossage kept the press at bay, MartinGoldfarb revved up the polling, Jerry Grafstein set Terry O’Malley, Gabor Apor and Red Leaf to work on communications. Gordon Ashworth fine-tuned the organization, Lorna Marsden summoned the policy committee, Joyce Fairbairn kept the office sane, and Jim himself had the most difficult job of all – persuading Trudeau to come back, during this tumult. Jim held a strategy lunch at the Chateau Grill – 4th alcove, eastside, Pasquale the Maîtres D bringing his usual small steak with sliced tomatoes. A prominent Liberal notable passed by exclaiming “How dare you try to persuade that man to return!” As the malcontent walked away, a blizzard of bread rolls emerged from Alcove 4: it was like Liberal manna from heaven and soon enough Pierre indeed led us back to the Promised Land.

Jim Coutts loved the human parade, all of it, laughing at humankind’s foibles and vanities while appreciating wisdom and purpose. With Keith Davey running the campaign on the ground and Jim on the plane, the Liberal high command was professional but fun-loving. How we enjoyed our time in the PMO and on campaigns! Jim Coutts had political opponents a plenty but he never thought of them as enemies and he taught all of us that civility. To those in the room lucky enough to work with him we can truly say, we few, we happy few, we band of brothers and sisters.

My reverie is that if there is a Grit heaven — and for the sake of the people in this room, I certainly hope that is the case – there is a party going on, much like tonight’s reception. Mr. Pearson and Keith are commiserating about the Leafs — who haven’t won the Stanley Cup since Pearson was Prime Minister. Jeanne Sauve is elegant. Jean Marchand rumpled. Cameron Millikin towers above Barney Danson while John Roberts is checking out the wine vintage. John de B Payne is thinking about writing a memo. As always, Walter is soothing Judy Lamarsh and Herb Gray has just arrived. And there in the corner Jim is whispering to Pierre, and making him laugh.

Settling for a Greener Ottawa: Ecology Ottawa Puts Federal Efforts On Blast

May 23, 2014 9:53 am

For the first time in 10 years the City of Ottawa has prepared a new plan to fight climate change.  The Environmental Council passed The 2014 Air Quality and Climate Change Management Plan (AQCCM) with only one member dissenting. The 160-page plan will now go on to the Full Committee where it is expected to pass.

The AQCCM aims to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the city by 20 per cent by 2024. According to plan, 90 per cent of the city’s GHG emissions come from transit and from the energy used to heat and cool our homes and buildings. This is where the AQCCM seeks to make improvements, with simple solutions like providing assistance and information to those who want to make their homes more energy efficient, and major undertakings like improving public transportation and expanding green space.

The previous environmental plan, the “2005 Air Quality and Climate Change Management Plan” fell short of the same goal of reducing GHG emissions by 20 per cent, reaching only a 12 per cent reduction.

Part of the shortcoming in the 2005 plan can be attributed to city growth, as Ottawa welcomed 86,000 new residences between 2004 and 2012, which was not foreseen in the plan. The new plan will account for growth and will measure GHG reduction on a per capita basis. In essence, the goal has not changed, as the 2005 plan does achieve a 20 per cent reduction when measured on a per capital basis.

Ecology Ottawa, a not-for-profit organization working to make Ottawa the green capital of Canada supports the new plan, calling it imperfect but a step in the right direction. Fighting climate change at the municipal level might be the only way to go. Executive Director of Ecology Ottawa, Graham Saul is not impressed with the federal government’s efforts to fight climate change, saying:

“The federal government has phased out Canada’s only major federal programs to support renewable energy and energy efficiency. Over the past seven years they have consistently weakened Canada’s greenhouse gas reductions targets while doing almost nothing to achieve their own increasingly weak target. They are spending tens of millions of dollars a year of taxpayers’ money to run advertisements supporting the tar sands and Canada’s embassies are actively trying to undermine the efforts to clean up fuel supply in other jurisdictions like the European Union and California.”

The ACCQM falls well short of similar international plans that aim to reduce GHG by 80 per cent by 2050. Still, the fight to prevent climate change may have to be well fought at the municipal level, as Saul and others believe that the federal government has not only given up on of fighting climate change, but they are actually a major part of the problem.

In Honour of Jim Flaherty

April 14, 2014 9:03 am

(December 30, 1949 – April 10, 2014)

Ottawa Life Magazine extends our heartfelt sympathies to the family and friends of the Honourable Jim Flaherty. He was a great Public Servant and a great Canadian. 


He has achieved success who has lived well,
laughed often and loved much:
who has enjoyed the trust of pure women,
the respect of intelligent men and the love of little children;
who has filled the niche and accomplished his task;
who has left the world better than he found it;
whether by an improved poppy,
a perfect poem, or a rescued soul;
who has never lacked appreciation of Earth’s beauty
or failed to express it;
who has always looked for the best in others
and given the best he had.
Whose life was an inspiration;
Whose memory a benediction.

Bessie A Stanley

Canada Council for the Arts Awards the 2014 Killam Prize to Canada’s Top Scholars and Scientists

April 12, 2014 10:03 am
Professor  D.R. Fraser Taylor, Carleton University.

Professor D.R. Fraser Taylor, Carleton University


The Canada Council for the Arts has recently awarded the Killiam Prize to five Canadian Scholars and Scientists who have pushed boundaries in their respected fields.  Each winner has been awarded $100,000, made possible through the Killiam Trust fund. This fund, among other scholarly contributions, awards those prominent Canadian scholars and scientists that are actively engaged in research. Ottawa’s own Dr. Fraser Taylor from Carleton University was among the prestigious recipients. The winners are:

D.R. Fraser Taylor, Social Sciences

D. R. Fraser Taylor is the Director of the Geomatics and Cartographic Research Centre at Carleton University. Professor Taylor’s new theoretical construct cybercarophtray, an enhanced forum of multimedia mapping has deepened understanding of socio-economic issues.

Sajeev John, Natural Sciences

Sajeev John is a Professor of Physics at the University of Toronto. His groundbreaking work in light localization has earned him an international reputation.  A pioneering theoretician of photonic in band gap (PBG) materials, Professor John’s work is leading to exciting possibilities in the fields of physics, chemistry, engineering and medicine.

Andreas Mandelis, Engineering

Andreas Mandelis is the Professor of Engineering at the University of Toronto and a leading scientist and engineer in the field of diagnostic applications of lasers. His work in establishing the fields of diffusion-wave and photoacoustic sciences and technologies has led to advancements in diagnostic instrumentation for manufacturing, optoelectronics, biosensors and biomedical imaging.

J.R. (Jim) Miller, Humanities

J.R. (Jim Miller) is the Canada Research Chair in Native-Newcomer Relations and a Professor of History at the University of Saskatchewan. Professor Miller’s research and insights on the way Aboriginals, particularly First Nations, have been affected by the federal government have encouraged national discussion and awareness regarding these issues.

Francis (Frank) Plummer, Health Sciences 

Frank Plummer is a Distinguished Professor at the University of Manitoba, Chief Scientific Officer of the Public Health Agency of Canada, and the Director of the National Microbiology Laboratory Winnipeg. Investigating transmissions rates of HIV among heterosexual women in Kenya, Professor Plummer discovered new and effective HIV prevention strategies that have been adopted worldwide.

The Embarrassment that is the Ottawa Police Association

April 7, 2014 10:38 am

Arrogant Attack on Carleton University Academic Freedom Shows OPA Care More About Protecting Members than the Public they Serve

I am a proponent of the police. I believe that confidence of citizens in their local police force is one of the most important ingredients in a free and democratic society. The police are given extraordinary powers to arrest and detain people in our society, so it is critical that they respect those powers at all times and do not abuse them or bring themselves into disrepute at any time with inappropriate behaviour  or misconduct. If they do, the consequences should be transparent, swift and severe.

The best guardian against police malfeasance is strong leadership from the Police Chief as well as police oversight bodies that determine their standard of professional behaviour and define the consequences for bad behaviour, professional misconduct and criminal behaviour. Sadly, today in policing in Canada, we do not have such a standard. In fact, we have the reverse. Across the country, including here in the nation’s capital, we have policemen who are out of control, who operate with arrogance toward the public for which they are servants and who are increasingly being viewed as bullies towards citizens rather than protectors of citizens.

The police have damaged their own brand and reputation across the country and seem to care less.  The cases of police malfeasance and bad behaviour in Canada are at an all time high. The first mass public viewing of this crisis in policing in Canada was exhibited at the G-20 Summit in Toronto in 2010. Police used unnecessary and excessive force and beat innocent people, violated their civil rights and detained over 1,100 people illegally, releasing them later without charge. Dozens of cowardly officers preemptively covered their name tags with tape so civilians would not be able to identify them as they beat the numerous innocent citizens in an orgy of testosterone pummelling that seemed surreal. One of the injured victims, oddly named Adam Nobody, spoke for everybody and fought police attempts in the courts when they tried to cover-up and later justify their behaviour.  It took almost four years for him to get justice as the police officers who assaulted him, with the full support of their ‘association”, lied and cajoled every step of the way to protect themselves from facing justice.

The videotapes of the incident didn’t lie and the truth came out.  The “police officers” would have gotten away with it had it not been for the video. The case showed that police officers ignored basic rights citizens have under the Charter and overstepped their authority when they stopped and searched people arbitrarily, without legal justification. In Nobody’s case, they literally assaulted him and beat the bejeezus out of  him, breaking his arm.

This testosterone driven “police work” is similar to the case of last summer’s cold blooded killing of Sammy Yatim by Toronto Police. Yatim, a 16-year-old minor with no previous incidents, was on a streetcar when he was shot dead in the early minutes of July 27, 2013. Witnesses have said that Yatim was holding a knife while inside the empty streetcar. Yatim was very distressed but was posing no danger to anyone as he was inside the street car on his own. Toronto Police Constable James Forcillo fired three gunshots in quick succession, followed by a five-second pause and then six more shots. Nine shots in total in a couple of seconds. There were 22 officers on the scene when he was shot and it was all recorded by several witnesses at the scene. Not one of them stepped forward to stop Constable Forcillo or offer any mediation.  However, for good measure, the police then tasered Yatim  (after shooting him 9 times). The initial police response to the shooting was what we get from the majority of police forces today — circle the wagons and suggest they acted properly.

The police don’t like to be questioned. The public outcry was so great that the police hierarchy and the crown were forced to act and Forcillo was charged with second degree murder, but immediately released on bail and he continues to be suspended with pay. Incredulously, Mike McCormick of the Toronto Police Association urged the public “not to jump to conclusions in the case” and noted that the aftermath of the shooting has been difficult for the officer and his family. In the weird world of today’s policing, the Police Association President expects the public to have more empathy for the guy who shot the 16-year-old kid 9 times as if he was the victim. That alone speaks volumes about the police problem in Canada.  The public did not jump to any conclusions. Millions watched the recorded incident on Youtube. The public is worried and rightly so that the police will cover up the facts or do whatever it takes to protect other police regardless of the facts.

There is lots of precedent for this. Remember the Robert Dziekański case? Dziekański was tasered and killed on October 14, 2007 at Vancouver airport by four RCMP constables in what can only be described as police testosterone in overdrive coupled with brutality. Full details of the incident only became public because Paul Pritchard, an eyewitness, filmed it. The RCMP initially took possession of his video, refusing to return it to Pritchard. Pritchard went to court to obtain it, and then released it to the press. Once it was released, the RCMP spokesperson urged the public not to jump to conclusions in the case. It later came out that the RCMP lied about the incident and what really transpired between the officers who killed the innocent Dziekański.  It took years for the case to work through the courts, but an inquiry found the RMCP lied and misrepresented the entire case and that the RCMP officers later deliberately misrepresented their actions to investigators. The BC Coroners Service determined that the Robert Dziekański  death at the hands of the RCMP was a homicide.

Of course the RCMP has been in a mess for years, rife with sexism, careerism, corruption and malfeasance. The latest RCMP Commissioner Paul Paulsen has proven just as inept in denial when it suits his and the forces purpose. Two years ago, Cpl. Catherine Galliford a RCMP constable who was recognizable to the broader Canadian public as the spokesperson on several high profile crime cases, logged a  sexual harassment complaint against the RCMP. Her  suit ousted the massive problem of sexual harassment in the RCMP and led to over 300 female Mounties across the country becoming  involved in a lawsuit against the force, claiming rampant gender discrimination and sexual harassment within the force, which had failed for decades to do anything about it. Paulsen’s response was to complain  the RCMP was being targeted by “outlandish claims.” Then Galliford  received a letter saying the RCMP was seeking to discharge her because she’s unable to do her job. (She had been on medical leave due to the constant harassment). That is the visionary process of dealing with a problem by the “Chief” running Canada’s national police force and we wonder why there are problems with policing. Arrogance and bullying emanate at the top and as in most organizations flow south.

Now, let’s get to Ottawa and the case of the equally narcissistic and humility-challenged President of the Ottawa Police Association, Matt Skof. In listening to Skof, I am reminded of the age old adage that “It is the mark of the mind untrained to take its own processes as valid for all men, and its own judgments for absolute truth.” It seems Skof took great offence to Carleton University Criminology Professor Darryl Davies’ recent letter to the Toronto Star questioning police accountability on a number of fronts. Davies is a national expert on policing matters with over three decades of academic teaching, experience and a proven record of preparing and writing reports and advising police organizations on various police and legal matters, including past work for the RCMP. This is why Davies’ articles in recent times calling out the police for more police accountability are so stinging. Davies has consistently called for higher standards of accountability for police in Canada. He notes with much empirical research data that there is one standard of justice for police in Canada who are involved in questionable or criminal activity and a separate level of justice for everyone else. Davies raises legitimate  and very relevant questions in the public interest that shine a light on the growing problem of the militarization of policing in Canada , poor training, poor leadership and lack of police oversight.

In his letter published in the Toronto Star, Davies noted that numerous Ontario communities like Ottawa are struggling with the rising costs of policing services. Davies questioned who pays the costs for the thousands of police who attend mass funerals if someone is killed on duty. A legitimate question, albeit an uncomfortable one. If these costs are covered by police themselves or their association — no problem, if they are covered by taxpayers, then there may be a problem. With a growing number of municipalities saying they can no longer afford the high costs police organizations are charging them or even the increased prices for contract policing by organizations like the OPP, any question related to police expenditures by the taxpaying public is relevant. Ironically, it is always the police who say they cannot afford freezes or cuts but expect everyone else to do so. They of course suggest if they don’t get their annual increase, society will suffer and there will be more crime.

Davies also queried as to why in  the past 21 months, 18 police officers in the Ottawa Police Service have been convicted for discreditable conduct under the Police Services Act of Ontario. He noted that two lawsuits were filed against the Ottawa Police Service for the actions of their officers.  He mentioned that one of Ottawa’s most respected criminal defence lawyers, Lawrence Greenspon, has publicly stated that he believes there is a systemic rogue policing problem in Ottawa. Interestingly, in his letter, Davies noted that there are good police officers who do great work in Ottawa but argued that the rogue element was affecting the credibility of the Ottawa Police Service. Davies then hit the bull’s eye noting that whether the “Ottawa police problem is poor training or lack of accountability, something has to change and change dramatically if people are going to retain any respect and trust in their police service. Only when settlements from lawsuits are added to the police budget are the true costs of policing known to our community.”

Skof was upset Davies was publicly asking these questions and wrote a threatening letter on behalf of the Ottawa Police Association to Carleton University saying that  “Both as a graduate of Carleton and as someone who is often involved in several projects within the University, such as the Future of Policing study, research interviews for graduate students, interviews with the school of Journalism and CKCU radio, etc., I believe that the comments made by Mr. Davies do not reflect well upon the reputation of the University.

So now Skof is not only the President of the Police Association, he is the person who decides what reflects well upon the university’s reputation.

He goes on to say that:

The Ottawa Police Association understands the importance of civilian oversight of member actions, indeed police in the Province of Ontario are subject to various independent levels of review.  Furthermore we understand and respect the importance of academic freedom of expression, but such freedom need not cross thresholds of responsible accounting of complex events.”

His hubris, sense of self importance and arrogance is such that Skof feels that he can now define for the rest of us what freedom of thought is “but such freedom need not cross thresholds of responsible accounting of complex events.”

I guess we the public are all too stupid to understand ‘the complex events’ that happen in “policing” and should leave that to people like Skof and…the police.

He then calls on Davies and Carleton to apologize to “our officers.” Skof and this self serving clique known as the Ottawa Police Association are, of course, a bunch of thin skinned pugilists. It’s sad that they do not recognize that we live in a democracy, the cornerstone of which is free speech. This attitude, of course, comes as no surprise to many. It was the Ottawa Police Association and their former President in 2011 who tried to justify the actions of their fellow officers in the cell block beating and assault of the innocent Stacy Bonds, which the Ottawa police tried to cover up before they ran into a principled judged who had no time for their antics.

Rather than attacking Davies, Carleton University and the principle of academic freedom, I suggest Skof and his “Association” spend more time on the real problem. It can be found right in front of them if they hold up a mirror. Skof would do well to try to exercise his brain and comment or explain to the public why the Ottawa Police Association supports (and condones) these recent cases of Ottawa police malfeasance.

1) The Ottawa police officer who was charged in January 2014 with domestic assault and harassment.

2)  The February 25, 2014 case where an Ottawa policeman pleaded guilty to driving with a blood-alcohol level over the legal limit.

3) The March 7, 2014 charges against a sergeant in the Ottawa police tactical unit who was charged with impaired driving.

4) The March 10case where a sergeant in the traffic division was charged with assaulting a woman and carelessly storing his police issued firearm.

5) Recent charges brought against Ottawa Police Constable Scott for criminal harassment and assault with a weapon. He is to appear in court later this month on two counts of criminal harassment, including stalking and assaulting a woman with a weapon.

6) Charges against Const. Pat Lafreniere and Const. Kirk Batson who are alleged to have unlawfully arrested Denis Seguin, a busker, with unnecessary force along Rideau St. on Sept. 1, 2013. Lafreniere and Batson, both patrol officers, are each charged with two counts of unlawful or unnecessary exercise of authority. The arrest was for the offence of “failing to leave when directed,” according to the notice of disciplinary hearing.

***There are two Pat Lafrenieres on the Ottawa Police force. PATRICK RONALD LAFRENIERE IS NOT the constable facing disciplinary hearings. CONSTABLE PATRICK RONALD LAFRENIERE has been with the Ottawa Police for several decades and continues to have an exemplary record of service with the force.

 The  Constable Pat Lafreniere facing disciplinary hearings is a younger Constable and has been with the Ottawa Police for a shorter period of  time. 

7) Ottawa Police Constable Ahmad Bayaa who was convicted of drunk driving on Nov. 2, 2013…and  is still a policeman.

8) Sgt. Mark Barclay who was  charged with impaired operation of a motor vehicle under the  Criminal Code on March 7, 2014. He has been assigned to administrative duties (still getting paid!).

9) The completely inept police  from Ottawa who so botched a case with ignorance and bias that the 77-year-old victim in the case, Marian Andrzejewski is now suing Ottawa police officers and a 911 operator.

10) The case against Constable Kevin Jacobs who was found guilty under the Police Services Act of using excessive force to arrest Mark Krupa after he’d been pulled over for speeding.

11) Ottawa police incompetence and irregularity as recently filed in a statement of claim  by Ottawa residents George and Mineta Albina who are seeking  $50,000 for “negligent investigation, wrongful arrest and malicious prosecution” and another $25,000 in punitive damages stemming from a dispute in the fall of 2013.

The Ottawa Police Association and Skof’s callous disregard for freedom of speech and academic freedom is distressing. It’s interesting that all the police mentioned above are still with the force — charges and all. Oh and what does our Police Chief Charles Bordeleau say about these cases?

“The Ottawa Police Service expects the conduct of all officers to be of the highest standard and reflective of the values of our community.”

Yeah, right. BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH.  Keep going Professor Davies and CARLETON, because the pen is mightier than the sword.

Group Launches National Letter-writing Campaign to Push Political Parties to Change Bill C-23 to Make Federal Elections Fair

March 25, 2014 12:25 pm

Democracy Watch recently called on the federal Conservatives to make the so-called “Fair Elections Act” (Bill C-23) actually fair, and detailed the 10 really unfair measures in the much-delayed bill which was supposed to be introduced in Parliament in September 2012, and the 10 missing measures that must be added to the bill to correct unfair flaws that already exist in Canada’s federal elections system.

“The federal Conservatives’ so-called Fair Elections Act takes many giant leaps backwards that will make federal elections much less fair, and also fails to correct many unfair flaws that already exist in the federal election system,” said Duff Conacher, Board member of Democracy Watch.  “The Conservatives fully deserve the many criticisms Bill C-23 has faced because it has many more bad than good measures, is another omnibus-type bill full of technical changes they are trying to slip through unnoticed, and they have made many misleading statements about the bill.”

The few fairly good measures in Bill C-23 include measures requiring the registration of robocalls.  However, even in that area the bill needs strengthening to be effective at preventing fraud robocalls.

A couple of measures in Bill C-23 that have been criticized by many commentators are, in Democracy Watch’s opinion, not areas of concern (To see Backgrounder Part I, click here).  First, the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) is not gagged by Bill C-23, and will clearly still be allowed to provide information to voters in imaginative ways and places – including through ads that have a headline encouraging voting, and including through high school mock-votes or other voter turnout public education programs.  The CEO will also still be allowed to conduct surveys, report on those surveys, and file reports with Parliament containing a wide variety of information, including information about complaints Elections Canada receives alleging violations of the Canada Elections Act (CEA).

Secondly, the changing the Commissioner of Canada Elections from being a CEO appointee to being a Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) appointee will not reduce the Commissioner’s independence from the government, nor his enforcement effectiveness.  The DPP is no more or less independent from the Prime Minister and Cabinet than the CEO, and the Commissioner already submits evidence to the DPP after each investigation, and the DPP already decides whether to prosecute in each case.

The real problems are that the Director, CEO and Commissioner (and all good government watchdogs) all need to be made much more independent from the government, and that the government has been misleading the public about their independence.

The 10 really unfair measures in Bill C-23 are as follows, each with a summary about how they should be changed (See Backgrounder Part II for more details):

  1. The prohibition on one voter “vouching” for the identity of one other voter, and on using the voter registration card (VIC) as ID — together these changes will make it more difficult for hundreds of thousands of voters to vote, and so they should be removed from Bill C-23.  Instead, add the VIC to the current list of valid ID, and empower Elections Canada, and provide it with adequate funding, to hire and fully train all election workers for elections well before each election, and to make the voter registration list and ID checking even more accurate.
  2. The failure to democratize the federal political finance system by reducing the annual donation and loan limits to an amount an average voter can afford, continuing the annual per-vote funding for parties, and requiring disclosure of all gifts and donations to all types of candidates.  In contrast, Bill C-23 hikes the annual donation limit for individuals from $2,400 to $3,000 (and during an election year from $3,600 to $4,500); hikes the amount candidates can donate to their own campaign from $1,200 to $5,000 (and to $25,000 for leadership candidates), and; allows banks to make unlimited loans to parties and candidates.  All these are hugely undemocratic changes that will only benefit wealthy donors and candidates, and facilitate corruption as occurred in Quebec.  Bill C-23 also fails to require disclosure of donations of volunteer labour, and fails to prohibit secret gifts to nomination race and party leadership candidates.
  3. The change to not count the amount spent on communications for “fundraising” purposes in the total amount parties are allowed to spend during election campaigns (a loophole that will be abused to hide millions of dollars of unaccountable spending that secretly violates campaign spending limits).
  4. The failure to empower Elections Canada to appoint all election workers – in contrast the bill extends the dangerously unethical power of political parties and candidates who won or came second in the previous election to force returning officers to appoint the deputy returning officers, poll clerks, registration officers and central poll supervisors that they choose.
  5. The failure to empower Elections Canada to appoint the auditors for all the parties, riding associations and candidates – instead, the bill continues to allow these entities to choose their own auditors (which is a recipe for corruption).
  6. The failure to require (finally) that the Commissioner of Canada Elections (CCE) disclose the results of investigations and his rulings on all complaints, and the failure to require the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to publish their reasons whenever they decide not to prosecute or agree to a plea deal.  In contrast, the bill includes a dangerously secretive new rule that requires the Commissioner and the DPP to keep the evidence and rulings for all investigations secret (unless a prosecution or compliance agreement happens).  This excessive secrecy will make it impossible to hold the CCE and the DPP accountable if they make unfair, biased or improper rulings or enforcement decisions.
  7. The restriction on all pre-election campaign advertising spending by interest groups (which means an ad run today could count as part of the total amount an interest group is legally allowed to spend on ads during the 2015 election campaign) – and the failure to also restrict pre-election ad spending by parties and candidates (including via their riding association).
  8. The failure to require anyone or any entity that uses robocalls to file a copy of each robocall script and recording, and a list of the numbers called, with the CRTC for the CRTC to keep for 5 years, and the failure to require political parties to keep a record of who accesses their voter database, and to make it a violation for political parties to allow their database to be misused.  In contrast, Bill C-23 only requires people or entities that make robocalls to register and keep just the script and recording of the call for only 1 year.
  9. The failure to increase the amount of all proposed fines to a level that will actually discourage violations (all the fines proposed in Bill C-23 should be 10 times higher) and the failure to require courts to impose the maximum fine unless extraordinary circumstances mean it would be unjust to do so.
  10. The failure to give voters up to one year to challenge a fraudulent election result (voters only have 30 days now), and the requirement in Bill C-23 that a voter must give written notice to the returning officer when the voter applies to a judge for a recount (which will make it more difficult to challenge election results).

The 10 missing measures that must be added to Bill C-23 to make federal elections actually fair are as follows, generally in order of priority:

  1. Prohibit parties and candidates from baiting voters with false election promises or advertising, and from breaking election promises (unless truly unforeseen circumstances require them to be broken).
  2. Change the federal election voting system to provide a more accurate representation of the popular vote results in each election in the seats held by each party in the federal House of Commons (as in many other countries) while ensuring that all elected officials are supported by, and are accountable to, voters in each riding/constituency (with a safeguard to ensure that a party with a low-level, narrow-base of support does not have a disproportionately high level of power in Parliament), and also actually fix election dates for late fall every four years (unless an actual vote on non-confidence occurs earlier).
  3. Regulate nomination races to ensure party leaders can’t appoint candidates or stop candidates from running (other than on grounds of “good character” such as no criminal convictions) and to ensure nomination races “are conducted in a fair, transparent, and democratic manner” (quotation is from the Conservatives’ 2006 election platform that promised to make changes) give Elections Canada the power to run nomination races and enforce the rules.
  4. Have Elections Canada determine the date and number of election debates, and oversee them, with the leader of every party that won at least 5% of the popular vote in the last election or that has at least one MP in the House of Commons allowed to participate, and require all broadcasters to broadcast the debates.
  5. Give the Commissioner of Canada Elections (CCE), and the CRTC, the clear power to apply for a court order that compels a person to testify, or a person or entity to disclose records, needed to investigate alleged violations of the CEA (as Elections Canada recommended in its 2012 report, and as election watchdogs in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta and Yukon, and Australia and the U.S. can do, and as the Competition Bureau of Canada can do).
  6. Require political parties, riding associations, candidates and third parties to provide any document requested by Elections Canada or the CCE to confirm compliance with the CEA, as recommended by Elections Canada.
  7. Create a right to refuse to cast a ballot (as Ontario and Alberta voters have) or to vote “none of the above” and require election commissions to report how many Canadians do so (so voters can, if they want to, send a clear message that they do not support any of the candidates or political parties).
  8. Allow independent candidates to raise money in-between elections (currently only party-backed candidates are allowed to do this, through their local riding association or their party that then transfer money to them once their election campaign begins).
  9. Give whistleblowers a financial reward if they disclose evidence to Elections Canada, the CCE, or the CRTC that leads to a conviction.
  10. Extend the federal Privacy Act and Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act to cover political parties, riding associations and political candidates, as Elections Canada recommended in its 2012 report.

Voting with Your Money: Social Finance Investments for a Better Future

March 19, 2014 11:35 am

The term ‘investment’ often conjures up images of fossil fuels, gold, and foreign companies — entities that we don’t always personally connect with. But what if there was a way that your investments could impact the organic grocer in your neighbourhood? What if your money could be used to make choices that align with your values and beliefs?

Last month, the Ottawa Renewable Energy Co-op (OREC) and Invest Ottawa held a panel discussion to show Ottawa residents just how they could accomplish that. Called Powering Up Ottawa by Investing Locally, the event focused on highlighting the strength of the Capital’s social finance movement. Moderated by City Councillor David Chermushenko, a lively conversation detailed how local investment opportunities could not only strengthen the city’s economy but also provide great social and environmental returns. These experts included George Brown from George Brown Law, Janice Ashworth from OREC, Bill Shields from West End Well and Jennifer Benedict from the United Way.

“The aim of the event was to raise the profile of social investing and social finance in Ottawa,” added Ashworth. “That discussion has centered around a few institutions in Toronto and Ontario, but Ottawa hasn’t had many opportunities for members of the public to take part in a conversation, nor for stakeholders to come together and network.”

Those opportunities are amplified by the numbers surrounding these topics, which include $50 billion in assets. OREC itself has been able to raise over $1.5 million from individual investments in Ottawa, helping the installation of solar power systems. Additionally, local investments contribute to local, sustainable jobs.

“Social finance and social investing are filling an urge people have to bring human values back into their financial decisions,” said Ashworth. “It’s another way for people to vote for the future they want and influence what happens. That portion really registered with people at the event — it’s a chance for them to make a real difference.”

Financial decisions are often based on number crunching and risk assessments from computer modelling. Many people can attest that they don’t feel they have much control. Including value-based investments, said Ashworth, will help bring a sense of control back into the decision-making process as well as a sense of connection.

“It’s frustrating when many options are only what a corporate bank will give you,” she said. “We need to shift away from fossil fuels to a sustainable economy and do that, we can’t count on government subsidies for each of us, we need to do it collectively through our savings to make a huge change in the world. It creates the potential for a momentum shift. The tipping point is coming and people need to make better choices.”

Better choices are all around us — in fact, Ottawa has a number of local investments that are thriving, thanks to local support. For example, West End Well is a social enterprise co-operative that integrates an organic grocery store with a café. It’s operated by Stone Soup Foodworks, as well as a coffeehouse, that lends spaces for community workshops, meetings and other events. The Well also offers cooking classes to inspire people to live in a more sustainably and healthy way, as well as music nights, storytelling, poetry and yoga classes. And it accomplishes this all while minimizing its environmental impact.

Ashworth said attendees at the event took away information about options like West End Well that they could invest in. In terms of networking, social finance stakeholders not only connected but also discussed how to work together in overcoming barriers at a future roundtable. In the spring, another public discussion is planned on how to protect your investments from a climate change future.

“Ottawa has a great investment profile and opportunities because we’re the nation’s capital!” said Ashworth. “We tend to be slow and often look to Toronto for inspiration but we have high education rates, high incomes and a stable population — we’re well positioned to increase the rate of social investing and Invest Ottawa recognizes that we need to keep our money here, too.”

Learn more by visiting Invest Ottawa’s website: and OREC:

On March 18, the Impact Ontario conference will be held in Toronto, bringing world-changing sustainable Ontario ventures together with world-leading investors and intermediaries. For more information and to register, visit

Dump This Dump 2 Represents Citizen Advocates Against Expanding Landfills in Ottawa

February 27, 2014 10:29 am
landfills in urban Ottawa

By Laurie McCannell, Vice-president Dump This Dump

For years, people driving to Ottawa have been unable to ignore the expanding landfill at Carp Road West of Kanata. The operators of the site make no effort to disguise their “mountain”, even perching a jolly Santa Claus on its peak for the holidays. That the enormous mound is a by-product of our collective wastefulness isn’t merry, no matter how they dress it up. Underneath Santa’s reindeer and the grass that has been planted, that huge landfill is leaking into West Kanata’s water table, and it is not alone.

The above map is extracted from a report commissioned by the City of Ottawa. I have highlighted the abandoned landfills throughout Ottawa’s core area in orange to make them easier to see. Please note this only identifies the landfill hazards in the central part of the city – there are 3 additional maps covering sites throughout the greenbelt and suburbs. Now, why would the city want to identify these sites? According to law, municipal governments are responsible for cleaning up contaminated sites like these – this is about Ottawa’s financial liability and as the map suggests, the ultimate bill to taxpayers is going to be steep.

Knowing that there are over 100 abandoned landfills lurking beneath our homes and parks is alarming, and it highlights the problem of proliferating waste sites. The damage was done over many years, but have we learned our lesson?

Sadly, no. Operating within Ottawa today are 5 major landfill sites – more than within any other municipality in Ontario. 2 of these locations are managed by the city, one by the NCC and 2 by private companies – including the West Kanata landfill which continues to accept a small volume of waste while the operators are trying to double its size. Unlike the old landfills speckling the map, these sites are huge (more than 30 city blocks each for comparison), and one day in the future, the bill will arrive for them too.

So why are there so many? The City of Ottawa manages municipal waste (curb-side pickup) only. All other waste called “IC&I” (excluding hazardous medical and nuclear substances), from businesses and institutions and construction, is handled by private garbage companies under the remote oversight of the Province of Ontario. There is no limit to how many of these private enterprises can set up landfills in a city if they feel they can operate them profitably – and they do.

Taggart Construction (Tamarack Homes) and Miller Waste announced plans to build their own landfill in Ottawa in 2012. The partner companies promote their “CRRRC” project as pro-recycling, but they do not commit to recycle more than the IC&I provincial average of 13%, instead “hoping” to achieve higher diversion rates sometime during the next 30 years. Although the project includes a sorting centre and some composting, the largest component by far would be a brand new landfill, targeting 450 acres of field and forest in Cumberland Ward. That is 4 times the size of the bloated West Kanata landfill at Carp road.

We think Taggart Miller’s landfill is a terrible idea. The farmers and residents of Carlsbad Springs, Edwards, Vars and Russell have formed Dump this Dump 2 and the CRCCPE group ( ) to tell Taggart Miller Waste, the City of Ottawa and the Province of Ontario that building mega-landfills in Ottawa stops now.

Ultimately, the waste industry is enjoying heady times because as a society, our IC&I waste enables them, and our elected governments permit them. Both problems are complex but will not change unless we decide to change – and that change has started here in the Farm-belt of Ottawa –  Cumberland Ward.

CRCCPE supports recycling and diversion-only projects like the facility on Herbert Street near Bearbrook village in Cumberland Ward, and another new recycling centre under construction on Burton Road near Vars. Both of these facilities are within 6km of Taggart Miller’s proposed landfill and plan to take the exact same waste Taggart Miller would. These recycling centres would sort out the useful materials but not create new landfills, making them preferable over Taggart Miller’s large landfill project.

CRCCPE supports reducing waste from institutions, businesses and construction. We applaud evolved companies who ensure their waste is separated to make recycling easier. Every office and company can implement these procedures and they should.

CRCCPE puts forward positive suggestions. For example, provincial estimates say Ottawa produces roughly 500,000 tonnes of “IC&I” waste annually, but our area already has annual capacity for over 1,000,000 tonnes, and some existing landfills aren’t filling their annual quota. The landfill projects currently proposed in Ottawa would push the total close to 2 million tonnes of disposal capacity per year. Clearly, Ottawa has abundant existing landfill space so CRCCPE suggests we support Ontario’s waste policy and the Green Capital initiative, and not approve excess landfill capacity. By hosting too much landfill space, we invite trash imported from Southern Ontario, and undermine efforts to boost recycling.

CRCCPE is not alone. We love our city and we welcome help from everyone who: wants to enjoy fresh local food, wants clean air and water, wants to move beyond the mountains of trash and be more responsible. Improving how we deal with waste is really improving how we manage our resources – the raw materials that become garbage, the land where we pile and bury garbage, the vital water in the ground and the air we breathe. Everyone wins when we dump dumps – join us.

What Ottawans Want from the Federal Budget: Report Calls for a Breakthrough Year for Ottawa River

February 24, 2014 11:02 am

By Ecology Ottawa

A recent report released by Ecology Ottawa argues that the budget is an opportunity for the federal government to help Ottawa residents clean up the Ottawa River. The report, entitled Cut the Crap and Fund the Plan: 2014 Should be a Breakthrough Year for Ottawa’s Rivers, argues that the federal government is out of excuses when it comes to the $65 million in federal infrastructure funding that the City of Ottawa needs to stop dumping untreated sewage into the river.2088786376_9cb32661fb_o

“It’s time for the feds to cut the crap and fund the plan,” said Graham Saul, Executive Director of Ecology Ottawa.  “We know they used $660 million of the new infrastructure funding to support Mayor Ford’s priorities in Toronto, so we think it’s time they follow through on their promise to help the City of Ottawa stop dumping sewage into the river?”

In a letter to Ecology Ottawa in 2012, Minister John Baird stated that he would “ensure that the clean-up of the Ottawa River is the number one project [in the City of Ottawa] for the Federal Government” during the next round of infrastructure funding.  In March 2013, the federal government announced a new nationwide 10-year, $53-billion infrastructure program, but funding for the next phase of the Ottawa River Action Plan has still not been announced.

By comparison, in September 2013 the federal government announced that they would contribute $660 million of the new infrastructure funding to support a subway extension in Toronto. When Minister Flaherty made the announcement alongside Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, he was asked why the announcement was being made at that time (before the criteria for the infrastructure funding had been clearly established).  Minister Flaherty replied: “Because the mayor wrote to us and asked.”

BritanniaPhotoOp_03“Enough is enough. This issue has been dragging on for too long,” said Saul. “We need to put the funding question behind us so that we can focus on new challenges such as improving stormwater management and public transit.”

Every time it rains 2.5 millimetres per hour or more ― which is a fairly moderate rate that occurs often in Ottawa ― the City of Ottawa’s sewage system gets overwhelmed and it starts dumping a mixture of raw sewage and polluted stormwater from one of 18 sewer overflow sites on the Ottawa and Rideau rivers.

In 2013, Ottawa dumped about 225 million litres of untreated sewage into the Ottawa River, down from over 670 million litres in 2010. The City needs $195 million, or about $65 million from each level of government, to build underground tunnels to hold the excess water and prevent the sewage discharge. As outlined in the report, the federal and provincial governments have both indicated that they are supportive of the plan, but funds have not yet been forthcoming.

For a copy of the report, click here

HAVE YOU NO SHAME? The Disgusting Attack on General Andrew Leslie is WRONG WRONG WRONG

February 19, 2014 12:14 pm
Lieutenant-General Andrew Brooke Leslie, CMM, MSC, MSM, CD is a retired Canadian Forces general officer who served with distinction and in harm’s way in many theatres in his career including Yugoslavia and Afghanistan. Among his military accomplishments and commands, he was assigned as a Canadian officer to the UN force in Yugoslavia as Chief for Sector South before becoming Chief of Staff and Deputy Commander of the United Nations Confidence Restoration Operation in Croatia. He was the Area Chief of Staff during the Manitoba floods in 1997. Later in 1997 he became the commander of  1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group which was sent to the South shore of Montreal to help with disaster relief operations. He served as Deputy Commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan in 2003 and then became Assistant Chief of the Land Staff in 2004. In June 2006 he was Commander of the Canadian Army. Possessing extraordinary ability, many assumed General Leslie might end his career as the Chief of the Defence Staff. Nonetheless, his final command was as Chief of Transformation for the Canadian Forces where he wrote a groundbreaking report that was focused, honest and blunt about the steps needed to make DND and the Canadian Forces more effective and efficient in a post Afghanistan environment. It was controversial, even within the military. Unfortunately, the Harper government decided to bury it.  
Anyone who knows Andrew “Andy” Leslie knows him as a person of honour and integrity. His life has been about service to his country. A patriot, his family’s lineage of military service dates back to the beginning of the Canadian Forces in World War 1.  His father was Brigadier General Edward Murray Dalziel (McNaughton) Leslie, commander of 1st Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery (1 RCHA) during the Korean War. He is a grandson of former Chief of the General Staff and Minister of National Defence General Andrew McNaughton, as well as of former Canadian Minister of National Defence, Brooke Claxton.
Royal Galipeau
How can it be that such a distinguished soldier and person who served Canada with such merit for 35 years and who often put himself in harm’s way is now brazenly attacked by the very people who put him and his troops in harm’s way. It was General Leslie who often got the call and had to make calls to parents when our soldiers died in theatre. It is sadly ironic that the very people who claimed to trust his judgment and ability, Mr. Nicholson, Royal Galipeau et al., would go along with this charade and try to smear General Leslie’s reputation because he is advising Justin Trudeau and may run for Parliament with, God forbid, another political party. Andy Leslie and the Canadian Forces deserve better.  Given Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino‘s recent fiasco with Canadian Forces veterans,  now the Defence Minister (and a former Justice Minister) uses his pulpit to smear one of Canada’s finest through wilful ignorance or, possibly, by deliberate falsehood? Nicholson knows, or should know, that the ”Intended Place of Residence” program has been in place for over 25 years and is open to anyone in the Canadian Forces or RCMP who serves the required number of years to qualify. The Government will pay for one last move to anywhere in Canada; no restrictions. You can move to Vancouver, or you can move next door. The intent is to fairly compensate military and RCMP personnel for the numerous moves they are required to make in service of our nation. In many cases, soldiers will move from 12 to 18 times over a 30 or 35 year career.  This program makes the last move easier knowing you don’t have to try and figure out, years in advance, where your final home is going to be, and hope that your final assignment coincides with where you have chosen to reside upon completion of your service to Canada. The reality, in the military, is that you never know where you might end up. It is the government of the day that makes that call. The short notice for which military families are often required to move is can be an extremely difficult experience for the spouses and children involved. Hence, the “Intended Place of Residence“ program which is open to all retiring military personnel; from the lowest to the highest rank, and with no difference in terms of the service, funding or support one receives. It is managed by the Treasury Board and the soldiers who avail themselves of the service have little say in either the selection of movers or the final cost. It is the Treasury Board which has full responsibility for the program.  The Treasury Board and DND coordinate the packing, shipping, real estate negotiations and fees, and legal fees for these moves. Payment is made by DND to the various agents involved in the move with no input from the soldiers. The majority of the expense for these final moves is found in the real estate fees. Rob Nicholson knows this full well. A departmental inquiry is not required. If General Leslie invested in a home (which he apparently did) during his 35 year career and then at the end of it sold his home in a strong Ottawa market to buy a new home, the real estate fees on that alone could very well be $40,000 dollars. So really, moving expenses with fees and taxes for General Leslie’s move came to about  $30,000; which  is entirely reasonable and within acceptable market prices for such a family move. This is a sham! It is cynical in the extreme and the only thing worse than the reporters who “broke” this yellow journalism “story” without providing the proper context and facts, is the Harper Government Minister and the Conservative MP from Ottawa Orleans who went along with it. Some thanks,  after first sending General  Leslie and his fellow soldiers into harm’s way.  Shame-on all of you! Mr. Nicholson should apologize to General Leslie and all members of the Canadian Forces for this betrayal. And Ottawa Orleans Conservative MP Royal Galipeau should send a personal apology forthwith or risk being tossed out by voters in the next election. We have truly descended into the gutter in politics. I’d like to believe Prime Minister Harper is bigger than this. Time will tell…but our soldiers deserve better.
Defence Minister Rob Nicholson


New Democrat Olivia Chow Wants Harper’s Conservatives to Put the Safety of Canadians First

January 31, 2014 1:28 pm

Protecting Canadians is one of the most basic responsibilities of our government, and this principle applies to our transportation system. As the NDP critic for Transportation and Infrastructure, I am convinced that our federal government could be doing a lot more to improve the safety on our roadways while preventing driver fatigue across Canada.

In fact, the Canadian Council for Motor Transport Administrators makes the case that driver fatigue is a factor in hundreds of accidents every year in our country. Fatigue is an aggravating factor to dangerous conditions, which means that bad weather, as an example, is made all the more dangerous when the driver has not had enough rest. Fatigue leads to decreased alertness, slower reaction time, poor memory and judgement. The facts show a clear relationship between driver fatigue and crash incidences causing tragic deaths.

Driver fatigue is especially worrisome in the case of inter-city buses where dozens of passengers are at risk every time bus operators have been asked to work extra-long hours, or have not had a chance to adequately rest between their shifts. In the US there are about 50 bus passenger fatalities annually and 325 fatalities where buses have killed occupants of other vehicles, pedestrians or cyclists. These statistics are a warning for Canadians.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada has acknowledged that long work hours contribute to drivers being less alert. It’s time that we take a good look at beefing up our regulatory system to ensure that bus lines are not putting their employees and passengers at risk simply to increase profit margins.

As a starting point, I support legislation to require a 10-hour-maximum drive time per day, a 14-hour-maximum on duty per day, and a 10-hour-minimum guarantee for rest between shifts. Our international partners have already implemented rules like this. In fact, the United States has a daily maximum of 10 hours of driving time, and the EU has an even tougher standard of 9 hours of driving per day.

Of course, a stronger law is not a silver bullet, but it is a logical first step that protects passengers and levels the playing field between bus companies. We must not give an advantage to those bus carriers who do not follow good safety practices, and who do not plan safe work schedules and routes.

Currently bus lines have incentives to keep drivers on the road for long periods, regularly over 13 hours behind the wheel with very few breaks. The truth is that they know that they will not be caught, because they are not regularly being inspected. We need to enforce our standards and conduct routine investigations.

Violations that put Canadian travellers in jeopardy cannot be tolerated – companies deserve stiff fines when they break these rules. Too often, bus drivers have not had enough sleep each night. Their work schedules have not allowed them to get enough sleep. We must prevent severe fatigue that quickly builds over the course of a busy week of driving.

We also need a comprehensive approach to keep Canadians safe. This means better designs for our roadways and intersections, appropriate railway crossing infrastructure, rigorous review and inspections of safety management plans, and proper training for drivers about the dangers of fatigue. We need more than just a web site to prevent driver fatigue in Canada.

It is time for the Canadian government to recognize the importance of preventing accidents, and this starts with real solutions and laws to curb unsafe practices. Terrible tragedies like Lac Mégantic can be prevented and we must work harder to ensure that accidents like this never happen again. Conservatives have a bad record when it comes to putting the safety of Canadians first and preventing accidents before they occur. It is scandalous that the federal government has failed to implement the recommendations from the Transportation Safety Board, which would save lives if they were put into place. Whether it is food safety, rail safety, or consumer protection, Conservatives tend to react once a problem occurs rather than enforce existing laws, conduct routine inspections and review safety plans beforehand. An NDP government would work broadly on transportation safety as a key priority. We need an approach that will anticipate threats facing Canadian travellers before they occur. New Democrats can do a better job implementing fatigue management training on our roadways, while modernizing and enforcing safety measures so that Canadians can travel in security as they deserve. Let’s deal with transportation safety together to prevent anymore unnecessary tragedies.

Governments have a responsibility to get the big things right

11:57 am

By David McGuinty.

Governments have a responsibility to get the big things right. Transportation safety is certainly one of them. Commercial vehicle driver fatigue is a serious issue that deserves our attention. However, there is often confusion about jurisdictional responsibilities for transportation regulations.

According to Transport Canada, “Provincial and territorial regulations govern the operation of the commercial bus and truck industry except for the rules and regulations Transport Canada’s Motor Carrier Division sets in support of the safe operation of federally-regulated (extra-provincial) motor carriers and commercial vehicle drivers.

The federal government only has authority over extra-provincial truck and bus carriers that carry goods or passengers across a provincial or international boundary.” The federal government administers the Motor Vehicle Transport Act. The relevant regulations under this act are the Commercial Vehicle Drivers Hours of Service Regulations (SOR/2005-313), which set the hours of work and rest rules for federal motor carriers and their drivers.

The seriousness of this issue was highlighted by the Commercial Motor Vehicle Driver Fatigue and Alertness Study (1997) conducted by the US Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and Transport Canada. The study observed 80 commercial vehicle operators, aged 25 to 65, on 360 trips that covered a total of 200,000 miles and produced the following findings:
• Time of day was the single best predictor of decreased driving performance.
• 19 minutes out of the 244,667 minutes of video showed drivers falling asleep.
• A 13-hour drive with a night-time start was associated with the most sleep deprivation.

You might ask, what is the government doing to address this problem, and is it enough? This summer, the Minister of Transport and the Administrator of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s FMCSA, announced the launch of the North American Fatigue Management Program (NAFMP), a web site that provides training and education on commercial bus and truck driver fatigue management. This is a good start but much more needs to be done.

The Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators (CCMTA) is a non-profit organization comprising representatives of the provincial, territorial and federal governments of Canada which, through the collective consultative process, makes decisions on administration and operational matters dealing with licensing, registration and control of motor vehicle transportation and highway safety. It also includes associates whose expertise and opinions are sought in the development of strategies and programs.

The Amalgamated Transit Union is calling on the government to make changes to the legislation surrounding the hours of service for motor coach drivers. They state that “Motor coach drivers are forced to work long hours with minimal compensation and very little time between shifts. As a result, a driver’s reaction time decreases and the opportunity for a fatal collision increases.” In an attempt to reduce driver fatigue they are calling on the government to implement:
• 10-hour maximum drive time per day
• 14-hour maximum on duty per day
• 10-hour minimum guarantee for rest between shifts
• All motor coach vehicles equipped with electronic logging technology
• A distinction between motor coach vehicles and trucks

This issue of driver fatigue is certainly not a new concern, but is being brought to the forefront by other recent devastating transportation accidents. The issue of hours of service was studied by the Standing Committee on Transport and Government Operations in the 37th Parliament. Their report of June 2002 contained the following three recommendations: • After consultations with the Provinces, the CCMTA, stakeholders and organized labour, Transport Canada consider adopting the combined CTA/ Teamsters – CCMTA proposal for hours of service.
• Transport Canada, the CCMTA and stakeholders give careful consideration to the issues surrounding the hours of service debate in implementing a new regime;
• Any new hours of service regime be subject to a trial period after which Transport Canada report to Parliament on the operation of the new hours of service rules.

A government has no greater responsibility than the safety of its citizens. However, Public Accounts recently tabled by the government show shocking cuts to road safety programs. Precisely when the government should be investing in road safety, it is cutting road safety initiatives 5.5 per cent from $23.8 million (2011-12) to $22.5 million (2012-13). At the same time, the Conservative Government is spending twice that amount, about $40 million annually, on Economic Action Plan ads. The government should be ashamed of wasting millions of dollars on partisan propaganda when it could be making investments in transportation safety for Canadians. I have repeatedly asked the Minister, Transport Canada Officials, and even the Auditor General to explain these outrageous figures. I have yet to receive a credible response but I will keep asking as it’s well past the time for the Conservatives to make transportation safety a top priority.

David McGuinty is the Liberal Member of Parliament for Ottawa South.

A Leader in Her Own Right

January 30, 2014 2:20 pm
CatherineClark copy

For many, our parents serve as mentors and are a source of inspiration and motivation. But imagine if one of your parents was a mentor to not only you but an entire nation.

This was the reality that Catherine Clark grew up with. Her father is former Canadian Prime Minister the Right Honourable Joe Clark. He served as the 16th Prime Minister of Canada from June 1979 to March 1980 and continued to be involved with the Progressive Conservative Party until his final term in Parliament, ending in 1993.

Today, we know Catherine Clark as the host of Beyond Politics on CPAC, or from her involvement in other political initiatives, particularly as an advocate for getting youth interested in politics.

Clark was a young girl when her father came into political power. For her, it was very normal as it was all she ever knew and yet, it actually did little to motivate her involvement.

Clark said she saw the effect it has on a family and on individuals and she felt like she grew up in the public eye. Usually it was an encouraging experience.

“We traveled a lot. Looking back, it was a very privileged way to grow up. I was able to see Canadian history first hand.”

And travelling abroad gave her even more of an appreciation for the country. The first time she really recognized this was when she was about nine and went with her family to Bangkok, Thailand. There she saw that children even younger than her were being put to work.

“We were there to work with a funded project. It was an effort to ensure children could go somewhere safe while their families were at work instead of having them hanging off the sides of boats picking barnacles off them,” she said.

Having seen the lengths her parents would go to in order to help those in need of it, she said that her parents were her main role models.

“They gave me a very different example of how to live your life,” Clark said. “Dad is an eternal optimist but not naïve. I always admired his approach. He treats things with grace and dignity. I strive to be like that but I don’t always succeed.”

Clark’s mother, Maureen McTeer, has been a great inspiration and was a trailblazer for so many women across the country on many issues touching the lives of women.

“Mom set a standard for a generation of women,” said Clark. “In keeping her last name, [which at the time was not the norm] she taught me to stand up for what you believe in and that perseverance is key.”

She added that given her parents’ line of work, “I haven’t ever been able to go anywhere with my parents where we haven’t been stopped,” she confessed. “But I’ve never resented it. It was always just the way it was.”

Of course, it couldn’t always be rosy but Clark remains positive about her years growing up.

“It wasn’t always pleasant at school when dad had to make tough decisions,” she admitted. “But it’s never been negative in my life.”

While growing up as political offspring “inspired the opposite of wanting to get involved in politics,” as she puts it, she also said “I don’t want to run … but I never say never.”

Now, on Beyond Politics, Clark shows the public what she has known all along: that there is more to politicians than their role in politics. Almost like creating a historical archive, she interviews politicians about their interests apart from politics and show other facets of who they are.

“We show Canadians that politicians have lives, responsibilities, challenges. And in the end they all just want to make this country better,” she said.

How she got involved in broadcast, Clark calls a “fluke”. After earning her degree in Art History from the University of Toronto, she was working in Toronto when she was approached by a producer who wanted her to host a show for a digital channel.

“When that didn’t work out I thought my broadcast career was over,” she said.

However, she moved back to Ottawa with her husband, Chad Schella, and here joined Rogers. Continuing with her broadcasting aspirations, she then joined CPAC in 2009 where she pitched the idea for Beyond Politics.

The show has since moved into a series format with one person being given the full interview time to really take a close look at who they are away from Parliament Hill. Clark personally really enjoys the long interview format when it seems that we are constantly living in a “sound bite world” where we only hear snippets of what anyone says.

The show is now beginning to expand to include interviews with other distinct Canadians who are politically aware and recognized but not necessarily politicians. Comedian and political satirist Rick Mercer has been included in the lineup.

Though she couldn’t pin down only one interview as her favourite, she did note that RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson was very down-toearth, Governor General David Johnson and his wife Sharon were incredibly warm and funny and that Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin was personable.

Clark manages to maintain a balance between her busy work life and her personal life.

“My two kids are now in school full time which allows me more time to be on projects that I had put on the backburner,” she explained.

She said she is fortunate with her schedule that she can plan ahead for when they are taping and she can work her other projects around it.

Clark is not only the host of Beyond Politics but is involved with the Ottawa chapter of the CARE Canada: I Am Powerful Councils which help to raise awareness of the campaigns CARE works on to help females living in poverty, an initiative Clark said is important to her as a mom.

For now, Clark plans to see where her career in broadcast leads her as she is very appreciative and humbled by her experiences.

“I get to reach out to all kinds of Canadians,” Clark said enthusiastically. “And I am tremendously privileged to get to do that.”

Windmill Development Group Signs Agreement to Purchase Domtar Lands

December 16, 2013 9:44 am

Ottawa’s Windmill Development Group and Domtar have signed a definitive Agreement of Purchase and Sale for Domtar’s property on the Albert and Chaudière Islands in Ottawa and Gatineau.

“Our vision is to create Canada’s most sustainable mixed-used community right here in the nation’s capital,” said Jonathan Westeinde, co-founder of the Windmill Development Group. “We plan to bring new life and energy to this once bustling heart of industry, and give the people of Ottawa and Gatineau a new way to experience and appreciate the Ottawa River.”

Windmill plans to reinvent the area into a vibrant, sustainable, mixed-use community.

The Agreement with Domtar commits Windmill to purchasing the property, with the only remaining condition being rezoning of the property for a mixed-use community-scale development. Windmill will present its planning application to Ottawa and Gatineau city councils in the spring. The financial terms of the Agreement are not being released at this stage.

“We are pleased to be transferring the stewardship and revitalization of this important redevelopment opportunity to Windmill,” said Stewart Marcoux, Vice-President in charge of Asset Redeployment for Domtar. “We are confident (this agreement) will result in a world-class development that will enhance the Nation’s Capital.”

As part of its due diligence process, Windmill consulted a wide range of groups, including the Ville de Gatineau and the City of Ottawa, Energy Ottawa, the Government of Canada, the Algonquins of Ontario, the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg band of Algonquins, the National Capital Commission, the Ottawa Riverkeeper, Destination Gatineau, Ecology Ottawa, and Heritage Canada Foundation.

“The encouragement we’ve received from the National Capital Commission, the two cities, the Algonquin people, and the environmental community has been overwhelming,” says Windmill partner Rodney Wilts. “People are extremely enthusiastic to have something great happen at this location.”

A preview of the development principles can be found at or

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said: “I’m delighted to see there is a plan being developed to revitalize an important piece of our local and national history. We need to find ways for this land to reach its full potential, and offer residents and visitors greater access to the Ottawa River, a national treasure. This is an opportunity to create a complete community that represents the Canada we dream of for the future: dynamic, livable and sustainable. We look forward to giving the plan careful consideration when it is presented to the City.”

“Windmill’s plan to celebrate Chaudière Island’s historical significance and to bring new life and energy to the waterfront is completely aligned with our aspirations for that space and the region,” echoed Jean-François Trépanier, Chief Executive Officer, National Capital Commission.

Domtar Lands 1

Tory leader praises council over gaming expansion plans

December 13, 2013 9:24 am

Provincial Tory leader, Tim Hudak has recognised the Ottawa city council’s wise decision to expand gaming at the Rideau Carleton Raceway and Slots, saying that he wishes all Ontario cities with a horse track were more like Ottawa. In October of this year, the council decided to expand the venue over plans to build a new downtown casino.

The council narrowly passed a modified casino deal with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) by 12 to 11. The vote was regarding amendments to the deal, which was approved in November 2012 between the OLG and the city to expand the gaming operations at Rideau Carleton Raceway. The altered agreement saw an additional $1 million annually, which is collected from the 4% table game revenue generated from 21 new gaming tables at the Raceway.

Although the future was looking bleak just last year, with the then Finance Minister Dwight Duncan terminating the city’s Slots at Racetracks Program – together with the OLG, the Rideau Carleton Raceway has beaten the odds. The expansion plans has seen the raceway avoid the threat of closure and will see the local industry return to its former glory. Provincial liberals have already reversed a previous decision, to extend Thursday night harness racing and restore the twice-weekly gaming calendar.

Hudak put emphasise on his new “plan for horse racing jobs”, ultimately putting pressure on the current Liberal government to halt modernisation plans, which would see the construction of 29 casino venues. Hudak heavily criticised these plans, saying: “This will mean more government jobs, fewer jobs in the horse racing industry and fewer spinoff benefits in broader rural communities.” He added that he believes the expansion of slot machine facilities should take place “where the gaming already is.”

Earlier this year, the city’s hope for the construction of two full-fledged casinos was dashed when the Ontario government reiterated the OLG’s position and rejected the proposals. Finance Minister Charles Sousa stated in a letter addressed to Mayor Jim Watson: “Based on this analysis, the Ontario government continues to support the OLG recommendation of developing one zone and one site in the Ottawa area.”

Despite the construction of new land-based casinos being rejected though, citizens across Canada still have access to the globally booming internet casino market. Unlike neighbouring USA states, it is not illegal for Canadians to play on online casino sites such as those listed here, whilst gaming commissions such as the OLG are even operating online casinos themselves.

Yasir Naqvi: Let’s Get This Done!

December 11, 2013 2:01 pm

An interview with the Liberal MPP for Ottawa Centre and Ontario Minister of Labour

A first generation Canadian, Naqvi arrived in Canada in 1988 after the Pakistani government imprisoned his father for leading a pro-democracy march.

Naqvi was first elected to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario in October 2007. He served as the Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, the Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Revenue, to the Minister of Education, and to the Minister of Finance.  In February, 2013, Naqvi was appointed as the Minister of Labour for the province of Ontario.

As the Liberal MPP of Ottawa Centre, Naqvi has been a strong advocate for public services and sustainable community growth. He has helped secure funding to build over 350 new affordable housing units, two new buildings at Carleton University and over $250 million in infrastructure upgrades and community projects throughout Ottawa Centre. In representing the views of his diverse urban riding, he has also introduced four Private Member’s Bills: the Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Act, 2009, the Independent Public Health Act, 2009, the Escaping Domestic Violence Act, 2010, and the College and University Student Associations Act, 2011 – each born of an idea from one of his constituents.

Naqvi holds a Masters in International Affairs from the Norman Patterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University, as well as a Bachelor of Arts (Political Science) and Bachelor of Sciences (Life Sciences) from McMaster University.

He is recognized by his peers as a strong community leader and involved resident of Ottawa Centre. He has sat on the Board of Directors of the Centretown Community Health Centre for four years and has been the Co-Chair of the Capital Food Bank Blitz since 2005.  Over the last seven years, the food blitz raised 320,000 pounds of food for those in need in our community!

Ottawa Life interviewed Yasir Naqvi on December 6, 2013.

What are the biggest challenges facing Ottawa Centre and how you are dealing with them?


Yasir Naqvi: There are two issues I would classify as significant that I’m working on that impact my community. One is the Ottawa River Action Plan. As you know, we’ve had challenges in our city with the overflow of sewage into the Ottawa River, something that from my point of view is definitely not acceptable. The provincial government has worked with the City. The City developed an action plan, the cost of which was roughly $100 million, with the province contributing roughly one-third of that amount. The impact has been significant in terms of stopping the overflow of sewage into the Ottawa River. As a result of the first phase of implementation, the data shows that we were able to reduce overflow by about 75 per cent, which I think highlights the importance of getting the second phase done as well so we can totally eliminate any overflow of sewage into the Ottawa River.


I’m quite active, working along with my Ottawa Liberal caucus, and the Mayor as well… in fact, just earlier today, I had a good meeting with the Mayor to learn more about what stage Phase 2 of the Ottawa River Action Plan has reached and making sure that the provincial government is there with its support just like for Phase 1. My riding borders the Ottawa River so this is an issue very close to my community and to myself.


We just want to get this done. From my perspective, this is not something we want to talk about to the next generation now that there is a very solid plan – a plan, really, that works. Just looking at the data from the completion of the first phase of the Ottawa River Action Plan, I think it’s imperative that we get the second phase done as well and I look forward to doing our part at the provincial level in getting the necessary funding, but it is something that will of course require all three levels of government – federal, provincial and municipal – to work together as we did in Phase 1, getting the requisite amount of money and making sure that the health of our river remains vibrant.


So that’s one issue. The second issue is development in my community. A lot of development is taking place in the downtown and this is an issue I’ve been working along with my community for some time. What my community essentially asks for is that development that takes place keeps in line with the Community Design Plans that are developed by the City in consultation with the communities and also that development takes place in a way that it is community-inspired and really reflects the values and the character of our neighborhoods. I’ve been very active in that conversation  in terms of what kind of reforms need to be made to our land use planning system and the appeals that are done through the Ontario Municipal Board. I had discussed in the last election some very specific ideas as to what those reforms might look like and how they could improve the system, as a result of a very significant community consultation in my riding in which almost one hundred people participated, and on which we developed a report outlining ideas of reform which I then shared with the Premier and the Minister for Municipal Affairs and Housing. I’ve been very actively lobbying the (provincial) government that they need to take this on. The good news is that the government has initiated a consultation across the province on land-use planning and appeal system reform. They were in Ottawa just a couple of weeks ago listening to the views of our community. The government intends to bring a piece of legislation in the spring outlining those ideas that they have heard through the consultations. Very significant movement has taken place on this issue. I’m very happy to hear that, because it’s an issue of huge significance and concern for my community – with all the development that’s going on in the downtown core.


Obviously, I won’t put myself in the place of City Council. What I always talk about is making sure that when the municipality develops its official plan, it goes through developing a committee design plan. What’s decided in those plans should be the law. It should not just be some sort of guidelines. If it is decided that as a result of a very extensive community design plan, a building no taller than nine floors should go in a particular spot, then that’s it. The City should not allow a developer to come in and propose twenty or thirty stories in that particular location. So we need to have a better process in place for municipal planning purposes. Then of course we need to be sure there is appropriate consultation… that the neighbors are brought into the discussion and that their point of view is taken into account. Lastly, if there is an appeal, the system has to be such that the zoning laws should be considered paramount. There is need for reform in every step of the process so that we have projects in our communities that really reflect the values and characteristics of a neighborhood.


As Ottawa Centre MPP, what do you see as the most pressing infrastructure requirements in your riding?


Yasir Naqvi: From an infrastructure point of view, there are a couple of things in my riding that are very important. One is of course the need to complete the Confederation Line for the Light Rail Transit Project that is ongoing right now and to look at the expansion of the LRT. I’m excited to see what the City has put forward in terms of the LRT expansion. Again, I bring a downtown perspective to this equation. The downtown core of our city is the hub of our economy. Members of my community would rather see people taking a train or bus as opposed to driving into downtown. So by having a good, functional network of public transportation in our system, it’s going to assist in that. So on a long-term perspective, that’s a very important infrastructure priority for me. I’d like to see more extension of O-Trains into the south end of the city. If you look at the congestion on Bronson and Bank Street right now coming into downtown from south to north, it’s pretty extensive and one of the reasons is that as the city is growing southward, more and more people are driving into downtown through Bronson Avenue and Bank Street and this obviously creates a lot of traffic congestion. When Lansdowne Park is redeveloped, with sports venues and entertainment programs at the Stadium, that will also bolster the case for extending the O-Train further south so members of our community from that part of the city – instead of driving to watch a football game – would be able to take a train to Carleton University and enjoy a football game. The O-Train extension will improve the quality of life in my community of Ottawa Centre and the quality of life for all citizens of Ottawa.


The second important infrastructure issue that I’m always working on is repairs to the aging infrastructure in the downtown core, including roads and bridges – major roads such as Churchill, Bronson, Bank and Somerset. Their long-term ongoing renewal is extremely important – not only what’s on the surface but what’s underground… all the water and sewer infrastructure is extremely important as the intensity in the downtown core is increasing with more condominiums going up. We need to make sure that this infrastructure can keep up with all the new development. I’m a big proponent of active modes of transportation such as bicycling, better opportunities for people to walk to work; especially those of us who live downtown prefer that. We don’t need to drive a car. We choose to pay higher property taxes so we can enjoy public transit or be able to walk or take a bike to work. So I’m very excited to see projects like development of complete streets on Main Street, Churchill, Scott Street (in the future), as well. I think that’s going to create a very inclusive infrastructure for the downtown core, which will benefit my residents. (On complete streets, safe and comfortable access for pedestrians, bicycles, transit users and the mobility-impaired is not an afterthought, but an integral planning feature. A complete streets policy ensures that transportation planners and engineers consistently design and operate the entire street network for all road users, not only motorists. – Ed.)


Would you say that Ottawa Centre is becoming a more pleasant urban environment in which to live because of all this growth?


Yasir Naqvi: I think some amazing development is going on in our community. I find that Ottawa Centre is very dynamic. We’re seeing this amazing rejuvenation that is taking place in the downtown core. I give you the example of Hintonburg, which has really blossomed into this incredibly hip and artsy part of our city. And that kind of evolution has only taken place in the last five or six years. We see new families that are moving in. There’s a real renaissance happening in our city where families are choosing to come and live in the downtown core, as opposed to what happened in the past when everyone moved to the suburbs. The result is that you’ve got a very vibrant community that is being built with a lot of incredible things to do. That has been my focus. It comes from making sure you have good public transit, more parks, good infrastructure for walking and bicycling – all those components allow members of my riding to continue to live in a very vibrant environment.


Will the Government of Ontario fund further expansion and widening of the Queensway once the first phase of the LRT project is completed?


Yasir Naqvi: Well, LRT is our focus. The provincial government is a big booster and champion of public transit, something that I very much agree with. That’s why I’m really proud that our government was the first one at the table with $600 million for the first phase of the LRT. I’d like to learn more about the second phase of the LRT. What is it going to cover? Who is it going to serve? What ridership is it going to have? What’s the cost? What’s the timeframe you’re talking about in terms of procurement and building of the second phase? I think that’s very exciting. Most of the first phase of the LRT project is being built in Ottawa Centre, including the subway segment through the downtown core.


There is a 10-year implementation plan as it relates to the Queensway which does not include its widening through the downtown core. That was a decision made and supported by myself and my community. We need to focus on building good public transit infrastructure so fewer people are driving into downtown and are taking public transit instead. But part of that 10-year plan for the Queensway does include work to improve safety on the Queensway, so we’re doing bridge replacements (most of the Queensway bridges in the downtown core are being refurbished or replaced). We are redesigning the Bronson and Parkdale interchanges so they are safe – specifically safe for pedestrians once those ramps come in to our city streets.


You secured funding for two new buildings at Carleton University and over $250 million in other community projects in Ottawa Centre. Would you care to elaborate?


Yasir Naqvi: We’ve been able to do a lot in Ottawa Centre in the last six years, since I’ve been elected as the MPP for this amazing community! All these projects have been a great partnership These projects have taken place because the community that I represent has endorsed it and supported it and asked for it. So we are investing $15 million for the Innovation Centre at Bayview Yards. This is being done in partnership with the City, province, and the private sector. The Innovation Centre will really transform that part of my community.


The province of Ontario contributed $26.2 million towards the River and Canal buildings at Carleton University. These buildings have become a showcase for the renaissance that is taking place at Carleton University. Yesterday, Premier Kathleen Wynne was in Ottawa to formally open the newly renovated and expanded MacOdrum Library. The province has invested $16 million towards that project. We have tripled the library in size and created a beautiful new space for students to learn in. One of the priorities that was identified by my community some years ago was to develop a Hintonburg Hub, because that area has no real health care facility so we worked with the Somerset West Community Health Centre and I was able to secure annual new operating funding for health care and social services at the Hintonburg Hub, which will be ready and functional by next year.


In terms of environment, we invested $5 million towards building a green roof at the Ottawa Courthouse next to the City Hall to improve the air quality in our downtown core; $3.1 million for new supportive housing for Cornerstone in Chinatown on Booth Street, which is a great seniors’ residence partially and also for women who are chronically homeless. That project has been a great success. We spent $3 million for the new residence of the Shepherds of Good Hope on Merivale Road which provides permanent housing for chronically homeless men and those who had alcohol abuse issues. Another great project is the expansion of the Ottawa Heart Institute in the Civic Hospital Area. The province is investing $200 million towards that particular project. The Ottawa Heart Institute is one of the best cardiac centres in the province and that expansion will go a long way in making sure that the services they provide to residents of Ottawa and eastern Ontario are world-class.


It’s a very exciting time to be living in the Nation’s Capital. What do you hope to accomplish in Ottawa Centre between now and the next provincial election tentatively scheduled for October 1, 2015?


Yasir Naqvi: There is always more to do! There are three projects that I’m very much focused on between now and the next election. One is to secure funding to rebuild Broadview Public School in Westboro. You may have read about Broadview Public School being fairly old. It no longer serves the learning needs of our children today. I’m very much geared and focused towards securing funding and working very closely with the Ottawa Carleton District School Board to make sure that it’s very high up on their capital priorities list. I’d like to be able to secure funding from the Ministry of Education to have that school rebuilt. It’s a huge priority for me and for the community and extremely important for the children who attend that school.


The other project is completion of the Bayview Yards Innovation Centre, with a provincial investment of $15 million. That particular centre is really going to help economic development in our city. The Innovation Centre will be our equivalent of the MaRS Discovery District in Toronto or the Canadian Innovation Centre in Kitchener-Waterloo, because it’s going to provide an exciting place for new entrepreneurs and established businesses to come together, work in cooperation and foster innovation that will really put Ottawa on the map. We’re working very closely with the City of Ottawa and Invest Ottawa in making that project happen, and I really look forward to seeing that project completed, so I’m quite involved in that, given the province is a large funder for this particular project. It will do amazing things for the nearby neighborhood of Mechanicsville, which is in my riding and is going through a fair bit of rejuvenation. Having a Hub-like Innovation Centre located so close by is going to give a whole new vibrant flavor to that particular neighborhood. The City of Ottawa just passed a report through the Economic Development Committee that outlines all the timelines and as I recall, the date of completion of construction is 2016. (The Innovation Centre – part of the Bayview Yards Redevelopment Project – will include space for private sector and non-profit use and is due to be completed in 2016. – Ed.) So the work is in progress. The money is in the bank. The province has already transferred the money. The key now is to make sure the project stays on time and is done in a way that it meets the needs of the community and economic development for our city.


The last project that I’m really focused on is the Centretown Community Health Centre located right downtown (at the southwest corner of Bank and Cooper). As more people are coming and living downtown, of course there is big pressure on the Centretown Community Health Centre to expand as well to accommodate and serve more clients. I’ve been working very closely with the Centretown Community Health Centre and the Ontario Ministry of Health in finding new capital dollars to expend. We’re looking at ways to expand the existing space, because getting new spaces downtown from a cost perspective is quite prohibitive. But there are some opportunities for us to expand the current location of the Centretown Community Health Centre, which the clients are very comfortable with because they know where it is located, so that’s another significant project that I hope to complete before the next election.

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