‘The Time for Smart Policing in Canada’

July 8, 2014 9:36 am
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As the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics indicates that crime is at a twenty year low in Canada, now is the time for rethinking the role of police in Canadian society.  A recent report from the Macdonald-Laurier Institute points out, that police organizations are pricing themselves out of business.  It’s a fair question to ask ‘Are Ontario communities receiving value for money for their police dollars?

Criminological research reveals that less than 20 per cent of the work that police perform in our towns and cities is crime or law enforcement oriented.  The balance of police duties fall under the category of Order Maintenance type functions such as traffic enforcement, responding to noisy parties, settling neighbour disputes and providing direction at road construction sites and parades.  Contrast this with the fact that 80 per cent of police training in this province focuses on use of force scenarios, firearms competency, tactical training and physical fitness.  Less than twenty percent of training given to police recruits, deals with communications, mediation, alternative dispute resolution and mental health issues. Clearly there is something wrong with this picture.

Given these facts, it’s not surprising to learn that in the 2012-13 Annual Report of the Office of the Independent Police Review Director over 90 per cent of all complaints against police are conduct related, with the vast majority occurring in traffic related and order maintenance type situations. The Macdonald-Laurier Report questions whether we need to be paying $83 thousand a year to a police officer who has less than three months training to deal with the mentally ill, homeless and marginalized members of our community when they are the least trained and least qualified to deal with these types of people and social issues. The report suggests that communities should be hiring ‘Civilian Experts’ to deal with these issues and to restrict police work solely to crime and law enforcement functions.

The time has come to demand value for every police dollar and communities have a right to ask the tough questions on behalf of the taxpaying public who are paying for these services.  Do we need police officers manning a construction site to expedite traffic flow?  Should we expect police officers to know how to deal with people who are mentally ill or severely addicted to drugs? Is it fair to expect police to show cultural sensitivity and understanding to members of our multicultural communities when they lack the training to respond to these challenges? Can we continue to jug along paying out astronomical salaries that simply do not measure up to the quality of service that communities should be demanding and rightfully expecting from their police service?

These are questions that we need answers to and perhaps the time has come to rethink the role of police in the 21st Century.  As someone who has worked and studied policing for many years I believe we need to reconfigure the role and priorities of police in society.  By streamlining our police service we can start a process of ‘smart policing’ where police would be restricted to the areas where they should be providing a service such as organized crime, gang violence, homicides, child sexual exploitation and human trafficking.  By reallocating policing functions to the areas where they should be focused we will have a much more efficient, economical and cost effective approach to dealing with crime.  In addition we will have a less expensive and more effective approach for dealing with the social problems we are experiencing in Canada.

Change will not come easily but with crime bottoming out at the lowest point in years we have an ideal opportunity to start the process of conversation and conversion.  The policing model of the past twenty years can no longer suffice in 2014 and our politicians and public leaders need to step up to the plate and acknowledge this reality.  Canada needs a new focus for the role of police in society and now is the time to act.

 

Darryl T. Davies

Instructor in criminology and criminal justice

Department of Sociology and Anthropology

Carleton University

NB:  The views expressed are those of the authors in his personal capacity.

Wynne’s Win

July 3, 2014 10:00 am
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Last week we watched as Premier Kathleen Wynne and her cabinet team were sworn in at Queen’s Park. Now it is time for them to start making campaign promises a reality.

Their overall goal is to create opportunities and secure futures for the people of Ontario by leading a transparent and accountable government. The team includes both new and old members.

To balance the budget by 2017-18, Charles Sousa is returning as Minister of Finance. Mitzie Hunter will be the Associate Minister of Finance—a new position created to focus on the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan.

Liz Sandals remains Minister of Education, while Reza Moridi is now the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities and Minister of Research and Innovation.

Not only is Deb Matthews returning as Deputy Premier, but she is also taking on a new leadership role as the President of the Treasury Board to help fulfill their team’s commitment to transparency.

Brad Duguid aims to help Ontario businesses grow as the Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure. Steven Del Duca becomes the Minister of Transportation, building new transit, roads and bridges.

The Minister of the Environment and Climate Change is now Glen Murray, who will attempt to aid in Ontario’s fight against climate change and to continue its use of clean technology.

Finally, Dr. Eric Hoskins becomes Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, while Dipika Damerla is the Associate Minister of Health.

Ontario’s first elected female premier, Wynne said, “I am grateful for the trust the people of this province have placed in our government. We will work hard every day to build Ontario up, to create new opportunities for people and to ensure a more secure future.”

Tulip Chairs – Nature’s Design is Comfortable

June 13, 2014 11:00 am
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From left to right:  Michael Crockatt, Vice President Business Development and Marketing,  Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International  Airport;  Mark Kristmanson, CEO, National Capital Commission; Laura Brown, Executive Director Canadian Tulip Festival; David Luxton, Chairman of the Canadian Tulip Festival; Rochus Pronk, Chargé d’Affaires, Netherlands Embassy.

Five bright tulip chairs stand out in a bunch in the departure lounge at the Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport. These unique chairs were unveiled recently by the Netherlands Embassy. The tulip, it turns out, is a significant icon to Canadian and Netherlanders alike.

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Tulips are the pride of the Netherlands, as their professionalism and creativity has made them a leader in the flower industry. In fact, each spring the Netherlands provides thousands of tulips for Ottawa’s Tulip Festival. The tulip is also a symbol of friendship between Canada and the Netherlands.

Designed by Dutch industrial designer Marco Manders, the tulip seat is an extremely comfortable chair and a perfect representation of an actual tulip. The fully rotational chair closes automatically when you get up, providing a functional, fun, and symbolic addition to the Ottawa-International Airport.

 

The Conservatives’ Income Splitting Scheme Will Create More Inequity, According to Broadbent Institute

June 12, 2014 12:59 pm
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The majority of families with children under 18-years-old would receive little to no benefit from the Conservative’s income splitting scheme, according to The Big Split, a new study by the Broadbent Institute. Under this scheme, only 4 per cent of Canadian families–some of the wealthiest in Canada—would be eligible for a benefit of excess of $5,000, while the majority of Canadian families would receive less than $500.

“This study spells out clearly why the Conservatives’ income splitting scheme is a terrible idea. It would increase inequality and is skewed heavily toward a Mad Men-style family with a high-income earner and a stay-at-home spouse,” said Broadbent Institute Executive Director Rick Smith.

Benefits would also vary significantly by province, only adding more cons to the Conservatives’ income splitting scheme, benefits:

–  Nine out of 10 Canadian households would receive no benefit at all

– Under 2% of families in Canada with children under 18 would be eligible for the maximum benefit

– Just 7.4% of families in Quebec with children under 18 would receive a benefit of $2,000 or more, compared to 22.8% in Alberta and 19.5% in Saskatchewan; nationally, only one in seven Canadian families with children under 18 (13.8%) would see such a benefit

– 61.1% of Quebec families with children under 18 would see no benefit at all, compared to 44.1% in Alberta; nationally, 54.1% of all families that are the target of the scheme would receive no benefit at all

With a scheme like this, it is little wonder the gap between the rich and the poor is widening in Canada.  Today, the top one percent receives 14 per cent of all income in Canada, up considerably from 8 per cent in the 1980’s.

The scheme is unfair, states the Broadband Institute’s website.“…But it also translates into less opportunity and social mobility, and has a corrosive effect on the functioning of our democracy.”

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
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 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
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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
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(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. 

SUCCESS

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
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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
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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
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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: investottawa.ca and OREC: ottawarenewableenergycoop.com.

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 impactinvesting.marsdd.com/impactontario.

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

February 27, 2014 10:29 am
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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 (www.crccpe.ca ) 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
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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
http://ecologyottawa.ca/2014/02/10/what-ottawans-want-from-the-federal-budget-report-calls-for-a-breakthrough-year-for-ottawa-river/

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

February 19, 2014 12:14 pm
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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.
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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
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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

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David_McGuinty_2012

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.

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