Political Profile: Jeff Morrison

August 19, 2014 9:31 am
Jeff with ginger

Aiming to innovate, energize and engage downtown Ottawa

Innovation, vibrancy, partnership and engagement—these are the key themes of Somerset ward candidate Jeff Morrison’s platform.

Ottawa has not been as embracing of new approaches, new building techniques or new forms of development of green innovations, according to Morrison. He wants to change that.

The candidate said the approval of Chaudière Island redevelopment is one example of leading edge innovation.

“Anything the city does, hopefully it embraces that kind of approach where we’re willing to try new approaches and new technologies,” said Morrison.

Tourism is one aspect Morrison wants to improve on to help the downtown core—this is how he plans to help small businesses.

One of Morrison’s proposals is to offer alternative language details on businesses.

“If you have a francophone person or a Chinese person that can speak in that language, these would be something the city could offer that would enable businesses to attract people that speak other languages,” he said.

Canadian Pharmacists AssociationMorrison said the other important area for improvement downtown is embracing the notion of ‘complete streets.’ This means any new street development must embrace different modes for the different types of transport—developments will reflect what cyclists, pedestrians and motorists need, as well as mass transit.

According to Morrison, the idea of ‘complete streets’ has been fully agreed upon by almost all candidates.

But what has not been at the top of many candidates’ lists is vibrancy, said Morrison, who explained people move downtown because they want access to life, services and culture.

“In terms of increasing services, the two that I have identified specifically, that I would want to lobby the private sectors, for are one; a new grocery store in the western end of our ward and two; is lobby the cinema chains to get our movie theatre back,” said Morrison.

Morrison would also like to establish partnerships with cultural, arts and sporting groups and help facilitate their access to public spaces such as parks and streets.

Morrison said he has also suggested the concept of open streets.

“Once a week, let’s say on a Sunday, you close down some of your major thorough fares to car traffic so that people can come out; pedestrians, cyclists, people in wheelchairs and small businesses can move out onto the sidewalk,” he said.

Morrison said the concept of open streets will help bring the community together, it will give people a chance to interact and it would also benefit small businesses.

When Morrison suggested ways to create a more vibrant downtown he hinted at the third theme of his campaign—partnerships.

“The city can’t bring culture, sports and arts to downtown, but they can work with those who can, and often times that partnership has been missing,” he said.

Morrison said he would like to bring art into the public spaces and he’s called for a street art promotional campaign.

“We’ve seen this in other areas of the city that have really sort of adapted street art, graffiti goes down and it brings some colour and life to the communities,” he said.

Engaging the community is also an important part of Morrison’s platform. He said he wants to ensure individuals feel not only like they have been consulted, but they are heard.

One way he would like to include citizens in decision-making is by striking an appeal process allowing developers to appeal decisions voted on by councillors regarding building development proposals.

Morrison said there is a process in place whereby if councillors and the neighbourhood of the proposed building oppose the development, developers can appeal the decision to the Ontario Municipal Board. He said the vote usually goes in the developers favour.

“I want Ottawa to pass a motion calling on the province to scrap that process. It’s time consuming, it’s costly, it costs the city millions of dollars and it takes power and a voice away from the community and councillors,” Morrison said.

In addition to his suggestions, Morrison would like to add community safety to his priorities. He said he recognizes people in the Somerset ward are concerned about safety and he wants to help prevent any sort of criminal behavior with the possibility of a neighbourhood watch program and police presence—either walking or cycling throughout the community.

Morrison said he’s aiming to knock on every door in the ward and there’s going to be a lot more to come.

“It’s been an incredible opportunity to meet so many people across the ward and to hear so many ideas. It’s exciting, it’s a bit exhilarating it’s certainly tiring but it’s been a really welcoming opportunity,” said Morrison.

Working to Build a New Ottawa: Martin Canning

August 18, 2014 9:30 am
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There is a change happening in Ottawa, according to city councillor hopeful Martin Canning, and he wants to be a big part of that change.

Canning’s campaign began in January with the launch of his website and vision, ‘New Ottawa’.

The Somerset ward candidate defines New Ottawa as the most liveable, affordable and sustainable city in the country.

The website New Ottawa is a platform for residents to write in about what they would like to see in their city.

With the goal of meeting residents and gathering feedback, Canning also plans to knock on every single door in the Somerset ward.

“It’s never been done in the history of downtown Ottawa by any level of politician during a campaign as an individual,” said Canning. “We’re almost there. We’re at 14, 500 doors that I’ve knocked on since January and we’re going to complete the rest in the next 30 days so that will be 20,000 doors that I have knocked on with my team.”

Canning’s efforts so far—the website, knocking on doors and social commitments, have been a way for he and his team to listen to the community and consider their ideas.

Canning said he will roll out his platform at the end of August or early September. However, there were two topics he was eager to elaborate on right away: businesses and improving sustainability in the downtown core.

Serving Small Businesses

While Canning insisted his plan for small businesses would be disclosed in a month’s time, he shared some of his ideas.

He said one concern he hears from business owners is a lack of communication, engagement and consultation regarding many different facets of city government plans. But Canning said it doesn’t have to be that way.

“Elgin Street’s reconstruction process is rolling out in 2015 and not a single person is talking about it today, so there’s a little bit of a hint of something you’ll probably see in my platform,” said Canning.

The politician said from a planning perspective it is “slightly bizarre” no one is talking about the reconstruction of one of Canada’s most famous streets.

“We’ll consider this an early announcement—one of the things that politicians can do is provide direct access to the fine grain project planning for street reconstruction so businesses know when the dump truck is coming, so businesses know when they are going to put a pipe two blocks north or two blocks south because that impacts day to day operations,” he explained.

Canning said business owners have been asking for communication and consultation and it doesn’t cost any money—its purpose is to acknowledge and consult with business owners prior to construction.

“They want information when they need it, they want a city that works to bring people to the streets; whether it’s events, festivals, and they want the city to take on the responsibility the city is supposed to take on,” said Canning, who added he’s leaning toward supporting these concerns.

Canning is a small business owner; he’s worked as a consultant and he also runs a small personal training company. He said he understands business owners when they say they want to be consulted.

“There’s an expectation within the businesses community and also for the city to start assuming some of its infrastructure responsibilities and I think that will be an easy policy direction to support,” he said.

Sustainability

One of the few policy announcements Canning released is a plan to formalize a hands-on active transportation audit along with Ecology Ottawa that would involve the community.

Canning explained a variety of individuals—key stake holder groups, community health centre participants, those with mobility challenges, seniors and anybody interested—would audit the street together.

“You have a formal process where you’re noting cycling opportunity barriers, pedestrian opportunity barriers and you literally audit the street through experience,” he said.

Canning said through a regulated community-based transportation audit a variety of needs can be determined such as more green space, wider sidewalks or permeable land.

“It’s about allowing the communities’ creativity and innovation to flow into and through government,” said Canning. “That’s an example of a way to make our community more sustainable and it allows citizens to participate in Ecology Ottawa’s active transportation audit.”

This process should be formalized so when audits are completed, it is incumbent upon the city of Ottawa to incorporate those recommendations in future streets, according to Canning.

The Team

“I’ve worked on a lot of campaigns and I’ve never seen a group like this,” said Canning.

The most important feature of his campaign is the size and the individuals, Canning said. He said he believes his team is full of leaders and they could all run as municipal candidates.

“There’s every demographic but there’s a whole lot of young folks, especially from the creative community; artists, architects, graphic designers, musicians,” he said.

Canning has about 35 people who work with him everyday and he said over 100 people come out to volunteer.

“New Ottawa isn’t me, it isn’t this campaign…it’s about the change that’s taking place around us that everyone can see in the city,” said Canning. “The people are changing, the demographics are changing, the general world view of Ottawa and the identity of Ottawa is changing and we need political representation that represents the people of downtown Ottawa.”

The Chaos that is the RCMP

July 21, 2014 9:41 am
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I have read in various media reports that the RCMP officers in Moncton who responded to the call of an individual walking down a street brandishing a firearm were only equipped with pistols and shotguns. I was very shocked and dismayed to read these reports because in 2009 I was contracted by the RCMP to undertake a survey analyzing whether the RCMP should switch from the shotgun to the carbine. At the time I began the research 53 police agencies in Canada including the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), the Metropolitan Toronto Police and the Calgary police service had already armed their officers with patrol carbines.

My report was submitted to the RCMP in March 2010 and was based on consultations with firearms specialists in the National Use of Force Program, Community, Contract and Aboriginal Policing at RCMP Headquarters in Ottawa. The report based on a survey questionnaire solicited responses internally from divisional members in the RCMP who were knowledgeable about firearms. A sample of urban suburban and rural police agencies were also sampled in the survey. In total my report was based on over 2500 survey responses.

The report sought answers to whether the RCMP should 1) Replace the shotgun with the carbine; 2) Keep the shotgun or 3) add the carbine to the RCMP’s existing armament. The Report was titled ‘Aiming For Safety: A Needs Analysis to determine the feasibility of adopting the patrol carbine in the RCMP. My recommendations based on the report’s responses concluded:

The RCMP should immediately adopt and phase in a national patrol carbine program for all of its uniformed patrol officers regardless of whether they are providing policing services in a rural/urban/suburban environment. The report also stated that the RCMP should:

Retain the shotgun but reconfigure this firearm so that it fires only non-deadly projectiles such as the beanbag and that Carbines should be reserved only for deadly force situations. The report also recommended that ‘prior to deploying carbines at the patrol officer level the RCMP should plan and execute a comprehensive and effective training program for all of its members. I stated that ‘new policies should be drafted and issued which include guidelines on the storage, maintenance, training and re-qualification requirements for the carbine as well as to where and when the weapon can be deployed.

I find it appalling that four years later the RCMP has failed to implement these recommendations. Back in March 2011 post media carried a news story titled ‘RCMP looking to replace service shotguns with rifles by Doug Quan. In that article Staff Sgt Scott Warren, chair of the RCMP’s officer safety committee stated “Yesterday is when this gun needed to be on the streets.’ Here we are in 2014 and RCMP officers in this country are still not armed with patrol carbines despite the fact that there are exigent circumstances where they may be required to respond to ‘Mayerthorpe type situations.’
The RCMP claim they have made some changes but from media reports it appears that the Moncton RCMP officers who responded to a call involving a man with a gun did not have access to assault rifles. My question is ‘Why’ did they not have assault rifles and ‘Why’ has the RCMP not acted upon the recommendations contained in my 2010 report.

My report was authored during the period when there was a revolt at RCMP headquarters by Senior ranking RCMP officers and when Bob Paulson was promoted to Assistant Commissioner responsible for the National Use of Force Program, Community , Contract and Aboriginal Policing at RCMP headquarters. The terms of my contract required that the final milestone after submitting my report was to meet and review the draft report and then make any changes or revisions that were required. Despite calling my RCMP contacts at RCMP headquarters repeatedly and sending them emails no one returned my calls. I found it extremely odd that the people who had been working with me on a daily if not weekly basis on this project were not returning my calls. I thought it extremely odd because I had been paid in full for the project and although the report had been submitted I indicated that I would make any changes they required at no cost to the RCMP.

After Three months of not receiving a single email or phone call from my contacts at the RCMP I received a letter from Bob Paulson indicating that he was not satisfied with the report because I relied on American studies and did not include any Canadian research. I wrote back to him indicating that there are no Canadian studies that have undertaken an examination of the patrol carbine and that if he had any issues these should have been dealt with in a face to face meeting to review the report which was the final milestone of the contract. It appears that because my report was not authorized on his watch that he wanted nothing to do with it. I persevered and eventually had a meeting with the Senior Deputy Commissioner of the RCMP Darrill Madill at which Paulson was present. I challenged Paulson to name a single study in Canada that had examined the patrol carbine and he couldn’t. He also admitted to telling his staff not to contact me either by telephone or email which I found bizarre to say the least. I informed Darrill Madill that Paulson’s conduct in this regard was outrageous and told Paulson exactly what I thought of his letter and the repressive actions he had taken against his staff.

Approximately three months later there was a change in the RCMP Command structure and Rod Knect now the Senior Deputy Commissioner of the RCMP had his executive assistant contact me. The Assistant informed me that he and the Senior Deputy Commissioner had just returned from the inquest into the deaths of the four RCMP officers at Mayerthorpe. He said the SDC asked him to find out if there were any reports at RCMP Headquarters that dealt with the issue of the patrol carbine and they discovered my report attached to Paulson’s letter. After reading my report both he and the SDC thought my report was excellent. They informed me that they would be moving quickly to implement my recommendations to equip officers with the patrol carbine. Unfortunately a few months later the SDC announced that he was leaving the RCMP and taking a position as Chief of the Edmonton Police Service.

So here we are in 2014 and the RCMP still have not trained or equipped their uniform patrol officers with the patrol carbine. I can understand that making such a transition can take time but my report was provided to the RCMP four years ago. The question remains in this day and age why is Canada’s National Police Force still behind the times when it comes to equipping their officers with patrol carbines? Police agencies across Canada took these steps years ago. My report addressed a major flaw in the RCMP’s firearms technology and capability and today we are still not much further ahead in this area. In my opinion Bob Paulson has a lot of questions to answer. For a Commissioner who claims he will deal with bullying and harassment within the RCMP he has no credibility because I saw firsthand how he muzzled the RCMP officers who were working with me on a project that in the end would have helped ensure the safety of Canadians and possibly prevent shooting tragedies like the one in Mayerthorpe and most likely in Moncton. The deaths in Moncton are a tragedy but so is the fact our National Police Force is still one of the few remaining police services in this country that have outdated and ineffective firepower to deal with active shooter situations.

Darryl T Davies
Instructor in criminology and criminal justice
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Carleton University

* The views expressed are those of the author in his personal capacity and do not necessarily represent the position of Carleton University.  This article originally appeared on the Site ‘Re-sergeance.net and is reprinted with permission.

Not Malevolence but Massive Mind Numbing Incompetence by City Hall Civil Servants

July 11, 2014 1:45 pm
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Kirkpatrick or the Council–One of Them or BOTH Have to Go

Ottawa city Manager Kent Kirkpatrick is (over) paid at $330,000 per year. That he has no shame and has yet to submit his resignation in light of yet another complete debacle under his guidance as the top city civil servant is proof that this guy is incompetent beyond the pale. OLM first called for his resignation 10 years ago after revealing a scandal over the expenses of city managers that were more than a little nauseating and were a factor that led to the eventual demise of then Mayor Bob Chiarelli. However, the City of Ottawa-Orgaworld waste management dispute reviewed by the city auditor general in a report released this week proves beyond a shadow of a doubt the senior management team of civil servants running the city are completely incompetent and operating way out of their depth. None more so than city manager Kent Kirkpatrick who, as a result of the findings of the auditor general, should be terminated with cause effective immediately.

Ottawa auditor general (AG) Ken Hughes’ extensive report on the Orgaworld contract shows the city, under Mr. Kirpatrick’s management, entered in a contract with the Orgaworld waste management company without proper due diligence or even following basic rules related to contracts. The AG said that said  documentation and analysis was missing from Orgaworld contract records, pilot project data wasn’t correctly interpreted and management failed to exercise due diligence and was incomplete with fundamental errors. Hughes’ report contained numerous examples of stunning incompetence

​For example, under the deal, “…negotiated by Kirkpatrick and his minions, the city pays Orgaworld $8 million per year (before inflation) to process at least 80,000 tonnes of waste. However, the amount of all available organics in Ottawa varies from 21,000 tonnes to 57,000 tonnes, and has never approached the 80,000 tonnes the city pays Orgaworld to be processed each year under the terms of a 20-year deal signed between the city and the waste management company in 2008.”

Hughes noted the mixture of household waste and leaf and yard waste was never clearly defined and, as a result, “The City of Ottawa paid about $8 million to Orgaworld that it should not have had to pay.” In other words–the city paid millions for waste that was never processed.

Hughes reported that, “We cannot lose sight of the fact this project was built on a weak foundation where the proper analysis that should have been done for a project of this size was not done by city staff.”

Hughes also noted, “The city spent about $1.7 million in legal fees over the Orgaworld contract, which could have been far less if proper documentation was available.” The city managers never kept proper records or documents on a deal where they spent millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money like drunken sailors.

The bigger problem in the report, besides the fleecing of the taxpayers of Ottawa out of tens of millions of dollars due to financial incompetence, is the deception practiced on councillors by city officials–led by Kent Kirkpatrick. Hughes reported City of Ottawa staff never warned council about the markup for processing leaf and yard waste at Orgaworld instead of the Trail Road facility. He said staff gave council the impression 100,000 tonnes per year was easily achievable and there was little exploration of options, such as increasing the amount of waste over time.

The audit committee’s chairman, Councillor Rick Chiarelli, told the CBC on Tuesday that, “The basis upon which the 80,000 tonnes per year were arrived at was faulty, inaccurate and just wrong,” and went on to say the Hughes report proves city staff mislead councillors before they signed the 20-year contract with Orgaworld in 2008–“There were councillors who questioned those numbers, particularly Gord Hunter, who called them false at the time,” said Chiarelli. Councillor Rainer Bloess, who was also part of city council in 2008, told the CBC that, “I think we should have listened to Gord Hunter as opposed to listening to our staff.”

Hughes’ report includes 10 recommendations for the city, all of which have been conveniently accepted by management, led by the very incompetent Kirkpatrick–the author of this entire mess. What is really upsetting is Hughes has now jumped  on the possibility of terminating the Orgaworld contract early to consider other options, such as building a city-owned facility or approaching another supplier.  Mr. Kirkpatrick now says it would cost the city $10 million to get out of the contract. Orgaworld quickly responded, angrily, noting the cost to the taxpayers to kill the contract is closer to $56 million. So who do you believe?

In an emailed statement after the Hughes report was released, city manager Kent Kirkpatrick said the city, “has acted proactively to strengthen its policies and practices around corporate project management and record keeping throughout city departments.” Kirkpatrick says that from now on, every report to committees and council must now contain standard sections on legal and risk management.

As I read Kirkpatrick’s comments, I was reminded of the famous adage taught in most MBA programs that, “The problem with incompetence is its inability to recognize itself.” Clearly Kirkpatrick doesn’t understand the fundamentals of ethics, leadership and accountability. He is the kind of civil servant that gives   public service a bad name. A bureaucrat–all process, no consequences, look out for yourself, pay yourself the big salary, blame everyone else. He actually had the gravitas to report publicly this week the other civil servants who worked under  him on this file were all either no longer with the city or moved to other areas. “.  His statement should have simply said, “I resign.”

Kirkpatrick has been on the job for well over a decade and has been the top city servant for the cancelled O-train contract, the bridge bankruptcy and numerous other massive failures due to complete managerial and legal incompetence that have cost the city millions. Even Ontario Ombudsmen André Marin is saying he needs the authority to investigate the incompetence at the civil servant level at City Hall.

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson says he’s willing to look at the possibility of cancelling the Orgaworld contract if it makes sense on financial and service levels. “We’ve been through the history of cancelling contracts in the past and it hasn’t worked out too well for us,” he said. “But if we can ensure that it makes financial sense, that it’s cheaper in the long run for taxpayers, and we have a facility to take the compostable material then we certainly should look into it.”

The Mayor has this all wrong. This issue is not about cancelling a contract or compostable material. It is about judgement, competence and trust.

At this point there is a serious question about the very competency of the people running the City of Ottawa. The councillors were smart enough to demand an audit after getting themselves into this mess in the first place. Now that the audit has clearly shown clear financial and management incompetence that has cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars, and has shown that city staff deceived elected officials, heads must roll–starting with Kent Kirkpatrick. If the entire highly overpaid and obviously incompetent senior staff are not held firmly to account because of  this deception, things will not change and we can expect more of the same in the future. If the Mayor and the city councillors do not fire Kirkpatrick immediately with cause and hold all other officials to a higher standard, then the citizens of Ottawa should fire the Mayor and all the councillors in the upcoming election and bring in a team who will do what needs to be done.

 

To the Editor of Ottawa Life

July 9, 2014 10:55 am
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Re: Report Card on Wait Times in Canada Omits Important Developments (published on July 3, 2014)

Doctors Don Dick and Linda Woodhouse quite rightly note the great work Alberta has been undertaking to improve the standardization, collection and utilization of access and other health system performance related data.

However, I wish to respond to their comment on the tone of the 2014 WTA report card, released June 3, and the notion of Canada receiving a failing grade on making structural changes to support timely access to care.

In fact, the WTA reported that there has been some improvement in lowering wait times in most provinces from the previous two years. Furthermore, the WTA noted that while there has been some progress on wait times in Canada, structural changes are also required if improvements in wait times are to be sustained. Our report also called on the need to close the gap in progress on wait times among provinces and between Canada and other leading countries. While we salute and support the progress that has been made in many provinces, including Alberta, there remain gaps within regions and among provinces that need to be addressed.

The WTA agrees that wait time data and other quality related data are required to support the fostering of a culture of continuous improvement in health care. Indeed, we support providing Canadians, providers and decision makers with a more comprehensive range of data on which to measure and improve health system performance.

It is also important to continue to highlight the shining examples in Canada on innovative care, such as the Alberta Bone and Joint Health Initiative, in order to spread the progress across the country and benefit all Canadians.

Sincerely,

Dr. Chris Simpson
Chair, Wait Time Alliance and President-elect, Canadian Medical Association

 

‘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.

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