Looking for the ideas behind the sniping

Meanwhile, has Larry O'Brien stumbled onto a key demographic?

Someone asked me today when I was going to stop being so polite during my weekly municipal pundit gig on CBC’s Ottawa Morning. I guess I have been pretty reserved in my election commentary so far. Although I believe I did refer to one campaign tactic as “lame” last week (that would be this, which sparked this equally odd response from O’Brien).

I don’t know. I guess it’s just hard to find the ideas behind all the sniping. And it’s gotta be rough for Doucet, Haydon and other Mayoral candidates to get their words in edgewise if the coverage focuses on bizarre barbs traded by the front-runners. It was all feeling so… underwhelming.

That was last week though. This week we’re getting more policy releases, debates are happening, candidates are making the rounds of the media, giving us more of a chance to reach beyond the websites and sound bites. We know that Haydon and O’Brien want a ring road (so retro) and O’Brien has nothing to say about bikes (but lots about motorcycles!) and Watson wants to freeze recreation fees (old-timer hockey leagues rejoice!) and Doucet likes trains (but not tunnels). Oh, and no one is running a slate. No, siree!

Community groups have been active, too, sending out questionnaires to candidates, organizing debates and laying out their own platforms. Here are a few that might be of interest to Spacing readers:

Environmental watchdogs Ecology Ottawa held their debate this week (for those who missed it, it will be broadcast on Rogers 22 at 8:30pm on Tuesday, September 28). Apparently the hall was packed, which is a good indication of the support for environmental priorities in this city. They’ve also published a detailed record of incumbents’ records, did their own polling to determine Ottawan’s support for green development and energy efficiency programs and have encouraged grassroots activism to support green-minded candidates via social media.

People for a Better Ottawa,  a coalition of social service and community organizations, holds their event on Tuesday, September 28 at First United on Richmond Road. Instead of providing a platform for would-be politicians, this evening features speakers who are actually affected by key election issues – housing, recreation fees, child care, accessible transit. They invite all candidates. I attended one of these events during the last election and it was very interesting – a good chance to practice listening skills (which can be a challenge for some!) The Coalition to Move Ottawa Forward, involving many of the social service agencies and other community organizations involved in People for a Better Ottawa, hosts a Mayoral debate as well, on October 7 at the Bronson Centre. You can vote on your priority questions and even offer some of your own on the So you think you can Mayor website.

Our Ottawa, made up of activists from community associations and other neighbourhood-minded types, has done some pretty interesting work. They’ve been meeting for months, held some public events, identified key issues and came up with priorities. Like Ecology Ottawa, they’ve examined the record of sitting councillors. They’re a fairly grassroots outfit, so they decided to focus their work on a few races, and have endorsed three council candidates, two in vacant seats and one against sitting councillor Glenn Brooks. There will likely be more endorsements as the campaign unfolds.

It will be interesting to see which (or any) Mayoral candidates pick up on these groups’ priorities.

And don’t worry. Miss Vicky is just waiting for the appropriate moment for her glove to come off.

Photo by Whiskymac